WCW Worldwide (ITV, 1991-1995, Channel 5, 1999-2001)
Wrestling is a sport that has received a lot of TV coverage over the years (of course there is the whole “is wrestling actually a sport” debate, but we’ll leave that for another time). For many years, British wrestling used to be shown on Saturday afternoons, and a lot of the people who took part soon became popular with the public. I don’t really remember this though, I am more familiar with American wrestling, from both the WWF (later WWE) and WCW.
The WWF has been shown on Sky since the 80s, and although there weren’t a huge amount of viewers at the time, this did manage to gain some interest. But going into the 90s, I remember watching the WCW, as this was on ITV (maybe this was only shown in the LWT region?) in WCW Worldwide. There were various timeslots, including being a part of Sunday afternoon show Sharp’s Funday. And then there was a move to Saturday afternoons.
I clearly must’ve had something of an interest in all of this, even though I didn’t take it that seriously, as I did record at least one edition. Although it seems that the WCW was second to the WWF in popularity in America, I can still recall a lot of the names that were on the roster at this time, including Sting and Rick Rude, along with lots of other charismatic goodies and baddies who liked showing off their moves that kept the crowd and commentators entertained.
You might also remember in my review of Ten Sharp when I told of the story of when a boy who was in my class at school appeared in a feature alongside a WCW wrestler. Well I am fairly sure that it was someone called Johnny B Badd. I couldn’t believe it really, I had seen him on the TV, and there he was actually with him, I don’t know how all of that happened. I remember as well that some people I knew who did have Sky at this time were into the WWF, also having the magazine.
There was a sign of the popularity in this country when a song by some WWF wrestlers made the Top Ten in 1992, in an attempt to make the Christmas Number One. WCW Worldwide had left ITV by the mid-90s though. By the late-90s, I finally had access to Sky myself, I did often watch the WWF on weekend afternoons, and I also had some of the computer games that were good fun to play.
It was something of a surprise to me then when after a long gap, WCW Worldwide returned to British TV on Channel 5, this time in a Friday evening slot. Although some of the roster had changed in the years since, the basic idea of people having a grapple in an attempt to win various championships was still the same. I feel that I have mostly outgrown all of this kind of thing now, but for a brief moment when I was younger I found it all rather exciting.