Grappling with the topic of why fans flock to wrestling
WHEN Cheltenham’s own Matt Jarrett, aka the English Bulldog, steps into the squared circle next month for a shot at the European Heavyweight Championship he will be writing his own page in the glittering history of professional wrestling. Jack Maidment takes a look at the men who have bodyslammed, beaten and bled their way to the top as well as examining the sport’s enduring appeal.
IF you were to mention wrestling to anyone over the age of 40 you would hear wistful tales of Big Daddy and the Machiavellian dealings of Kendo Nagasaki.
But bring it up with anyone under the age of 30 and you are more likely to hear tell of The Rock laying the Smackdown on jabronis like John Cena and the Undertaker.
Either way, professional wrestling has left an indelible mark on popular culture and on the lives of all those who come into contact with it.
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It inspires passion, either in the form of love for the heels and babyfaces, for the stories and feats of athleticism, or in the form of hatred and disbelief that anyone could take anything so staged so seriously.
Regardless, people care about wrestling. And for Matt, 34, who will be fighting The Canadian Rebel for the European strap at GL1 Gloucester Leisure Centre on October 12, that passion was ignited at a young age.
He said: “The guys who I looked up to were people like the guy who is retiring on October 12, Danny Collins – that is who I idolised growing up.
“He was a lot smaller that the American guys and he was a high flier and I thought I could do something like him.
“I started training professionally in 1995 and that was when Shawn Michaels was just going for his first title in WWE but I was more of a British Bull Dog, Davey Boy Smith fan before that.
“My mum took me to Wembley arena in 1992 for Summerslam when he won the Intercontinental championship.”
Matt believes things changed in the UK with the broadcast of the American promotion WWE’s Wrestlemania 7, long after British wrestling’s heyday in the 1960s.
Since then British wrestling has been on the ascendancy, never approaching the highs of Giant Haystacks, but steadily winning back support nonetheless.
Matt said: “I think British wrestling is making a comeback and the reason for that is that I don’t think WWE can do any more. There are no more angles.
“I think it has gone too far and people want to go back to traditional wrestling where it is more of the sport and less of the Jeremy Kyle talking style.
“Tickets are selling very fast for October’s show and there has been a lot of interest on Facebook. It is going to be such a big show.”
To buy tickets call GL1 on 0845 643 4203.