Lee Bamber was one of the two commentators for this landmark taping, the first commercially available UK wrestling video, alongside the legendary Mick McManus but all was not as it seemed and although the show was recorded over three decades ago tonight, Lee never actually saw it happen because he wasn't there!
Mick and Lee were due to record the commentary live at ringside that evening but in the days before the show Lee developed a bad throat infection and couldn't speak, he couldn't eat, he could hardly swallow and was in a bad way but 'the show must go on', so feeling like a drained zombie Lee drove to Croydon in the late afternoon to show his face and do a few lead up/promo shots with Mick.
If you have the video you'll notice that Lee doesnt actually speak in vision at all during these because basically he couldn't !
Once the bits of filming in the box were done Lee immediately and gingerly drove straight back home to Sudbury Hill, Harrow and collapsed into bed.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are saddened to receive news that Gerry Hoggarth passed away peacefully on Wednesday 14th August 2019.
For seven years Gerry wrestled around Britain and Europe, winning the European heavyweight title along the way. Initially brought into professional wrestling by Atoll Oakeley who was at the time still trying to revive his pre-war promotional business, it was Oakeley that provided the opportunity for Gerry to challenge for, and win, the British championship.
was soon taken on to the books of Joint Promotions following their
formation in 1952. Everything was going well for Gerry, wrestling
around Britain and abroad, opposing, and often defeating, the best of
British heavyweights, including Jim Foy, Ernest Baldwin, Dave Armstrong,
Alan Garfield, Jack Pye and Bert Assirati.
Gerry will be added to the Dressing Room in the Sky on the Reunion website and we of course send our condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.
day on and I have returned from this years British
Wrestlers Reunion, an event which has again excelled with everyone in
attendance having a fantastic day reliving the glory days of British
The plaudits this year both yesterday and today have been
tremendous and with the largest crowd we have seen at The Bridges in a
few years it proves once again that the Reunion has a good future ahead
It was great to see so many of our friends there again this
year as well as many of the great legends of wrestling, some for the
first time and some returning after a few years absence. My personal
congratulations to everyone who was presented with an award, each and
every one was very well deserved so well done to you all.
Of course I am not alone when it comes to organising this great Reunion and I would like to say a big thank you to Wayne and Sarah Bridges for their hospitality, as always the most gracious of hosts. I would also like to thank the following who worked so hard on the day to ensure it was a success, Martin Gillott, Barry Howard, Stephen Cresswell, Colin Joynson, Johnny Kincaid, Scott Elvis, Ray Clark, Bob Stafford Donna Walker, David Walker, Belinda Jayne and a special thank you to Lee Canderton who proved why he is the top MC in the business today, he compared the Reunion with the greatest of professionalism and I have received nothing but positive reviews on his performance.
I was also delighted to finally turn the tables on my friend and mentor Frank Rimer by inducting him into the Hall of Fame,
I will shortly be adding over 200 photos of
the day to the website at www.britishwrestlersreunion.com
so feel free to check them out to see how we all had a great time.
Finally and most importantly a huge thank you to all the wrestlers, officials and fans who made the journey to be with us, the Reunion is nothing without all of you and I thank you for your continued support, we must be doing something right and we look forward to seeing you all again for the 29th year for the 2020 Reunion.
One of the most famous wrestlers to come out of Scotland,Drew McDonald,has been formally inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame for Scotland at a ceremony in the Fair City.
Drew, who died after a battle with cancer in 2015, was represented at Monday’s induction by daughter Debbie and life partner Monika Markwart.
Drew becomes the fifth member of the Scottish Hall of Fame, joining George Kidd, Andy Robin, Frank ‘Chic’ Cullen and Bill Ross.
Wrestling historian Bradley Craig said: “His many contributions to the professional wrestling industry have left an enduring legacy.”
After serving with the Scots Guards, Drew helped a friend organise a professional wrestling show to raise money for a local school. In the weeks leading up the event, one of the scheduled performers suffered an injury and a replacement needed to be front. He was given a two-week crash course before making his debut in a bout with the feared Wild Angus. After wowing the crowds, Charles Shaw decided to adopt a new persona and Drew McDonald was born
Over the next four years, he continued to wrestle on the local circuit, before signing up to Joint Promotions, the organisation that would thrust him into the spotlight. His first televised battle, against Irish grappler Jack ‘Flash’ Shirlow was broadcast on ITV’s World of Sport on April 28, 1984. A few weeks later he teamed up with legendary Big Daddy to defeat Giant Haystacks and Dave ‘Fit’ Finlay.
Drew went on to wrestle on the international stage with bouts in Germany, India and South Africa.
A master of reinvention, he performed as The Ultimate Chippendale and – his most famous persona – the Highander from Hell.
Mr Craig said: “Despite a decline in popularity of British wrestling in the 1990s, Drew was one of the key figures who created the foundations for an eventual domestic resurgence of the industry. “Alongside Jeff Kaye, he established a gym to scout talent and train the next generation of wrestling stars.”
Drew became the Scottish Heavyweight Champion, secured two versions of the British Heavyweight Championship between 2001 and 2006 and teamed up with Ulf Herman to win the FWA Tag Team Championship in 2002.
After winning two major European tournaments, McDonald quietly retired from active competition in 2012.
This is a great honour for Drew to receive and we at the Reunion feel that it is truly deserved.
BT Sport have secured the WWE TV rights with an incredible multi-year deal and will start broadcasting shows in January 2020.
Sky TV have held the UK broadcasting rights for the world's largest wrestling company for over 30 years and this will come as a huge blow to them after losing other major sporting events to their rivals in recent years.
BT Sport will now exclusively broadcast Raw and SmackDown live every week as well as WWE's monthly pay-per-view events, including WrestleMania which will be available for fans to purchase on box office.
Senior Vice President of WWE, Stefan Kastenmuller, said: "We are pleased to begin an exciting new chapter for WWE in the region as we join BT Sport's innovative offering and impressive portfoloio of premium sports content."
Andy Haworth, Managing Director Content and Strategy at BT Sport, added: "We are incredibly excited by our new partnership with WWE.
"This is a brilliant addition for our customers and we can't wait to get going in January."
Time will now tell if fans will stick with the WWE and move with them to BT Sport which could, in some cases, mean an additional subscription per month for the BT Sport Channels or whether they will now change their allegiance to the newly formed AEW which is taking the World by storm and which will be broadcast on ITV4 from later this year. Whatever the outcome it could be exciting times ahead for televised wrestling in the UK.
As previously announced, at this years British Wrestlers Reunion being held on Sunday 11th August the entertainment will be by the UKs leading Elvis tribute act, Scott Elvis.
Scott is returning to the Reunion after
wowing us all at our 25th anniversary event 3 years ago and will be performing many of Elvis' greatest hits for us all to enjoy.
On Thursday 6th June Scott
attended at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea where he, along with others,
entertained the Chelsea Pensioners as they remembered D Day.
A special treat for Scott was meeting up with Chelsea Pensioner and Britains Got Talent winner Colin Thackery.
A great occasion for Scott, the Chelsea
Pensioners and all in attendance to mark such a poignant day in our
We look forward to welcoming Scott back to the
Reunion and you never know he might bring his new friend with him.
The British Wrestlers Reunion are very pleased to receive word that All Star Promotions MD Brian Dixon has returned to the office today after a 7 week break following a very serious operation.
He is now fighting fit and completing arrangements for shows for the rest of the year and in full swing for his 50 years of promoting next year which will see a grand Golden Jubilee Tour throughout the UK
Giant Haystacks was born Martin Ruane in London to Irish parents. Once leaving school, the larger than life lad took some early jobs as a builder and inevitably a bouncer before finding his true calling of Professional Wrestling in 1967.
Ruane initially started wrestling for independent promoters using the ring name of Luke McMasters (who many thought was his real name) later changing this to Haystacks Calhoun (after the American wrestler of the same name) finally settling on the name of Giant Haystacks.
In 1975 Haystacks joined the well established Joint Promotions where he was immediately put into a tag team with Big Daddy. The team had a two year run but eventually it was decided that they would be disbanded and Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy started what was to become one of the biggest feuds in British wrestling history lasting from 1977 until Big Daddys retirement in 1993. During its time on ITV, wrestling attracted an average of around 10 million viewers weekly and Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks matches (usually in tag team action) always got huge viewing figures making Giant Haystacks a household name across the globe. His sheer girth at 6'11 tall and weighing in at a mammoth 49 stones at his heaviest made him one of the most popular fixtures on television.
Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s Haystacks was a frequent visitor abroad and had successful tours of America, Canada and was a regular competitor at the German and Austrian tournaments where, in 1982 he was declared the overall winner of the Graz tournament.
Such was his impact at the time, fans of 'stacks' as he was affectionately known in the Business, included Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney and singing star Frank Sinatra who said after meeting Haystacks said that "British Wrestlers are the best entertainers in the world". Giant Haystacks was also offered various television roles from adverts (Skips Crisps), appearing on the childrens television show Tiswas and a television play entitled Send in the Girls (written by former wrestler Leon Arras/Brian Glover.)
In 1995 Haystacks was approached by WCW in the USA where he appeared as "Loch Ness" and where he was scheduled to do battle with the American legend Hulk Hogan, unfortunately the match never took place as shortly after his debut for WCW the Giant was diagnosed with Cancer and had to retire from the ring.
bravely fought the disease for over two years, at one point sure that
he had beaten the scurge, having trimmed his weight to just 26 stone,
before sadly dying aged just 52 on Sunday 29th November 1998.
Giant Haystacks will always be fondly remembered by the fans and his fellow workers as a quiet man with a dry sense of humour, a true legend who will never be forgotten.
On the 20th anniversary of his untimely passing the British Wrestlers Reunion remember this giant of the wrestling ring in more ways than one.