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Paul
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Posts: 67

Great feature. I journeyed up to fairfield halls for many years post 1988. Brian Dixon made great matches with the last of the tv talent. Can't wait to read more of this. 

October 23, 2017 at 12:25 PM Flag Quote & Reply

David Mantell
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Posts: 2532

A Year of Wrestling 1991 on www.wrestlingheritage.com

October 30, 2017 at 4:42 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Paul
Member
Posts: 67

Very entertaining David. Can't wait for the next installment. 

November 4, 2017 at 10:08 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Bernard Hughes
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Posts: 2429

I did a full query on your post David but seem to have lost it.

Basically it was to ask if you felt that no outside influence was present when Fit Finlay lost his British Heavymiddleweight title in 1989 and won the British Heavyweight title in the following year.

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November 8, 2017 at 10:27 AM Flag Quote & Reply

David Mantell
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Posts: 2532

Paula?  Possibly although I don't recall anything at the time about her interfering in either match.  I think her and Dave split not long after.

November 9, 2017 at 1:27 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Bernard Hughes
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Posts: 2429

No David, I meant the promoter.Can you say where the fight for the heavyweight title was and who was the promoter please.

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November 9, 2017 at 10:20 AM Flag Quote & Reply

David Mantell
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Posts: 2532

Croydon, 5th Feb 1990, says Wikipedia and Wrestling Titles.com.  St Clair had been with Dixon for nearly a decade by then and Finlay was also in All Star and getting into a feud with Rocco, so presumably it was an All Star show.  Fairfield was Dixon's Madison Square Gardens anyway, whereas Joint just treated the place as another stop on the Daddy roadshow (both promoted there at the time).

November 9, 2017 at 6:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

David Mantell
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Posts: 2532

British Wrestling Archive says one day later, 6th

CROYDON – 6/2/90. Fit Finlay beat Tony St.Clair to win the British Heavyweight Title…Mal Sanders beat Kashmir Singh to retain the British Welterweight Title…Doc Dean beat Johnny Kidd…Mighty Chang beat Dave Taylor…King Ben & Kid McCoy beat Jimmy Ocean & Ricky Knight.

Sounds like an All Star bill to me.  (Bear in mind Kendo was banned from the venue at the time, so they needed other headliners.)

http://web.archive.org/web/20100405231015/http://www.britishwrestlingarchive.co.uk:80/1990%20BILLS.htm

November 9, 2017 at 6:07 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bernard Hughes
Member
Posts: 2429

Thank you.

I am baffled that in the 1990's a promoter would let  a heavymiddleweight become a heavyweight champion.

Please just remind me what the approximate differencein weight would have been.

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November 10, 2017 at 6:16 AM Flag Quote & Reply

David Mantell
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Posts: 2532

Said Heavy Middlleweight was a former World Mid-Heavyweight champion, a regular in the heavyweight-orientated German/Austrian tournaments and went on to have an American career in the late 90s onwards.

November 10, 2017 at 9:35 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Bernard Hughes
Member
Posts: 2429

Right, then how could he have been the heavymiddleweight champion?

He would not have been able to make the weight,surely?

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November 10, 2017 at 5:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Norfolk Snake
Member
Posts: 9

The heavy middle weight title run was a while before the Heavyweight title reign I believe. I think for an explanation on championship weight brackets you might like to refer to Pallo's book.....Also if you look at Finlay's weight in those days it did rise considerably to become a bonafide heavyweight. At that time I thought Finlay was the best we had - he could work with Johnny Saint one week and Dave Taylor the next. What a wrestler and what an ambassador for the sport !

November 12, 2017 at 5:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Bernard Hughes
Member
Posts: 2429

Thank you Norfolk Snake , I could accept that explanation. i.e if there was a long run between the two things.

However if you look at David Mantell's original post it states :-

1989

Danny Collins beat Fit Finlay for British heavymiddleweight title.

1990

Fit Finlay beat Tony St Clair for British heavyweight  title.

That is what I find incredible. I tried to find out how much weight Finlay would have to jump in that short time. Do you know please?

I also think that Finlay was one of the best wrestlers around at that time, but heavymiddleweight to full blown heavyweight?

All I can say is I don't think that it would have been allowed to happen in my time !

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November 13, 2017 at 7:13 AM Flag Quote & Reply

David Mantell
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Posts: 2532

1992 A Year in Wrestling on www.wrestlingheritage.com

December 24, 2017 at 8:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

David Mantell
Member
Posts: 2532

A Year in Wrestling 1993

 

Since the end of ITV coverage, All Star had been undergoing a major hot period. 1993 was the final year of that hot period, mainly on account of the retirement by the end of the year of All Star's top star, Kendo Nagasaki, but he would not be going out without several considerable bangs. At the end of the previous year, Kendo had found himself in a feud with the superheavyweight heel team of the moment, Giant Haystacks and Scrubber Daly (or the UK Earthquake as he increasingly called himself when working for Brian Dixon). Astonishingly, the cavalry would arrive in the shape of a man best known worldwide at that point for being a lovable cuddly white rapper who liked to lead crowds in the chant of "YO BABY YO BABY YO" Paul Neu had started 1992 still with his cushy job as PN News still intact, and in fact some parts of the UK media at the time of the WCW RoarPower tour had incorrectly picked him and Johnny B Badd up as being the two top stars of WCW! (To be fair, News did get two main event shots at WCW World Champion Lex Luger, on night one of the London Olympia residency and at the Sheffield show.)

 

It was all a far cry from his bad old days as Cannonball Grizzly, mowhawked scourge of the German/Austrian summer tournaments in 1989-1990. However the writing was on the wall after he injured and forced into retirement enhancement talent Dave Sheldon in late 1991 with his Broken Record finisher, and by Spring 1992, the master of the Broken Record had a broken contract. Away from WCW, Neu slipped back into his bad old ways and by the new year of 1993, he jad arrived in Britain as the monstrous American Avalanche. (An interesting piece of irony, "Avalance" would later be the ringname in WCW of John Tenta, from whom Scrubber Daly had "borrowed" the Earthquake handle.) The Two Ton American Avalance became Kendo's secret weapon in his fight against Stax and Daly (although they could be a secret weapon against each other, given how one night Daly, put on as an emergency opponent for Giant Haystacks, actually managed to out-heel the big monster after bashing him with his steel horseshoe.) Neu's career in the UK as the American Avalanche would prove to be a long one - as late as 2009, shaven headed and if anything heavier than ever, Neu was in a tag team of Brit-hating North American heels with former WWFer Joe E Legend that was the pride of the World Riot Squad, facing patriotic Best of British opponents in main events for All star.

 

Back in 1993 however, Kendo Nagasaki found himself with a whole new feud on his hands when he fell out with his manager and longitme devotee Lloyd Ryan. The two halves went to war, with Kendo quickly promoting another member of his entourage, Lawrence "Loz" Stevens as his new spokesman. Lloyd, meanwhile had to find himself a new Kendo. Luckily for him, longtime Naggers impersonator Bill "King Kendo" Clarke had been getting occasional dates for All Star since the previous year, so the two easily hooked up. Neither party particularly turned blue-eye - Kendo was still very much his old self when he teamed with Dave "Animal Legend Of Doom" Duran (also very much a heel despite the increasing blue eye popularity of his old team-mate "Legend Of Doom" Johnny South) to face the team of Johnny Saint and Micky Gold, in a match caught on camcorder and up on Youtube from this year. Saint versus Nagasaki had been something of a dream catchweight match for many, so it is rather a pity that Kendo did not get in some of the technical work seen in Round 1 of many of his 1970s fight when in the ring with Saint - Duran did get technical with Saint and actually elevates his standing as a technical wrestler in his own right in his exchanges with the legendary Lightweight (Who in June managed to take back his World Lightweight title from Steve Grey and would go on to be the final champion to date.) KK and Lloyd, meanwhile went about being just as heelish as Nagasaki and Lloyd had ever been, when they weren't lobbying for their big Battle of the Kendos part II.

 

In the event, both Kendos ended their feud in a most anticlimatic way, by retiring just a few months apart. Still, as we shall see next year, Lloyd found himself yet another Kendo with whom to carry on his wicked ways. As for All Star boss Brian Dixon, he could at least console himself that his longtime rivals Ring Wrestling Stars (ex Joint Promotions) had also lost their top star this year. Despite his deteriorating health resulting from his stroke several years earlier, Big Daddy had carried on as the main event for RWS, with trainers instead of boots and a t-shirt under his leotard. In October, shortly before the end, he would make one more TV appearance when RWs bagged itself another couple of nights TV tapings for Grampian TV, which would see Daddy team with Tony Stewart to defeat Undertakers Doom and Gloom (father and son Dave Adams and Johnny Angel). This was also the matchup for Daddy's final match on December 27th in Hindley, around which time Big Shirley was finally advised by doctors to quit. Meanwhile, Dixon had more reasons to be cheerful in that one man who was in no position financially to heed the call of his breaking body and quit was The Dynamite Kid, who this year swallowed his pride and came back to Dixon for less money. Dynamite was still working matches with Dave Fit Finlay, as well as working tag matches with both Legends of Doom, often as a headline blue-eye team with South, but sometimes as a team with an unusally well-behaved Duran, coming to the ring to the tune of The Final Countdown for matches against the Leeds Boys("Tarzan Boy" Darren Ward and Richie Brooks also behaving himself when there was no Danny Collins around) or else Liverpool Lads Doc Dean and Robbie Brookside. This was not a good year for the Liverpool Lads incidentally. On the one hand, Doc Dean lost his British Welterweight title again, this time to the man to whom his partner gave a haircut the previous year, "Soldier Boy" Steve Prince. On the other, the Lads lost their British Tag Team titles that February in Norwich to the self same Prince and Vic Powers - and the title change received TV coverage from that by now seasoned broadcaster of top championship wrestling action BBC2.

 

"Robbie Brookside's Video Diary" in filming all this year as part of the Video Diaries series in which all sorts of high and low folk (including, by the way, the kid brother of a classmate of mine at school) would take a camcorder around and make an hourlong snapshot documentary of their lives. The Norwich title defeat proved to be quite the snapshot to kick off Robbie's Diary. It's not clear if it was a screwup or the booked finish but the match came to a sudden conclusion when Dean and Brooskide accidentally clashed heads, knocking out Robbie cold and apparently leaving Doc Dean requiring stitches to the forehead (cynics may point out that this is the usual place to which wrestlers apply the blade.) Either way, they didn't look happy bunnies backstage, (where, in time honoured British tradition, blue-eyes and heels were expected to co-exist in the same dressing rooms in ways which would give some old time US territorial promoters kittens). They received a dressing down from American Avalanche who told them not to be such babies (perhaps Kendo had been hypnotising Robbie again and got him to befriend Naggers' new tag partner?). Prince and Powers, the Task Force, did not last long with their surprise tag title reign as they would soon lose the belts, again in Norwich to the Liverpool Lads' arch enemies, the Superflies Jimmy Ocean and Ricky Knight. (This was a good year for Ocean as he also regained his British Lightweight title from Steve Grey. Not such a good year for the South Londoner as he went from triple champion to triple ex-champion as he also lost back to Mal Sanders the European Middleweight title he had won from him the previous year.) The Video Diary also shows as Robbie and Doc in a match against the Superflies where they go down by pinfall and afterwards in a backstage angle that would make Monday Night Raw proud, the Lads go to confront the Flies in their dressing room only to be cussed out by an angry Knight, who says he has had enough of Brookside's "lip".


This was, incidentally a pivotal year for Knight and his family as this was the year when he and his wife and valet Sweet Saraya Knight set up his own Americanised promotion, World Association of Wrestling (WAW) - ironically the same initials as Jackie Pallo's disastrous Wrestling Around the World project three years earlier. Unlike other New school promotions, WAW has stayed the course of time - but then again, unlike most of them, WAW has largely made its peace with Old School British Wrestling to the point that by the early Noughties it was practically viewed as an Old School promotion. WAW was originally founded because Knight felt that the scene lacked the "action and pizazz" of American wrestling. (Some years ago I picked him up on how this could honestly be said about All Star's golden era under Kendo, still just going at this point if in its final months. He replied that yes, things were still going strong but he could see the writing on the wall about how things would be "later".) Still, WAW would prove to be a good addition to the British scene offering plenty of work for Traditional British talent. One of their early achievements was taking over the Norwich Corn Exchange in 1997 from All Star (under whom local audiences had dwindled to under a hundred) and rebuilding it as a hot venue - hot enough for the Norwich scene to continue doing thriving business at other venues after the Corn Exchange was demolished in 2001. WAW is now a thriving national promotion with a training school, the Academy, and the Knight family have continued to produce wrestling talent in the form of sons Roy and Zak who often team as the UK Hooligans (as heels in All Star, as blue eyes in WAW) and daughter Saraya Jade aka Britanni, later to find American success as Paige in WWE.

December 27, 2017 at 8:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

David Mantell
Member
Posts: 2532

1993 continued ...


Talking of American success, one man who had plenty of that in 1993 was Steve Regal, or Lord Steven Regal as he was soon rebranded. While WCW gradually went cold on the idea of putting their World title on Davey Boy Smith, Regal quickly picked up the WCW TV title. All this WCW action, of course meant that he was back on Saturday afternoon ITV and also showing off his British technical style in his matches. This was all much to the disdain of the proto-Powerslam, Superstars Of Wrestling who slammed Regal for having a "boring"and "antiquated" style, and when they did applaud his getting ahead in WCW, they did so in order to slag the "dull and unprofitable" British scene - a comment that earned them an angry letter from Yours Truly. (They printed it, but got my name wrong - "A. Mantell") Meanwhile Regal, as shown in the video diary, was happy to invite Brookside and his camera over to the United States and backstage at WCW to show them the high life. However, it cut both ways as Americans, meanwhile, seemed happy to live the life of honorary British wrestlers on the road. In the ring, Avalanche and Mongolian Mauler (back here again) were quite the merciless heels, with Neu cussing out fans and Mauler hitting Robbie with a chair (which was a step down from the flagpole from four years earlier - no police called this time!) but on the road in a transport café, the two were seen singing comic songs containing references to backstage drug abuse, fraternising with babyfaces (as also did veteran Skull Murphy - Brookside doing a very good impersonation of Murphy's South Coast accent) and being generally loveable.


1993 was a good year too for Tony St Clair as he won his fourth British Heavyweight title. Unlike his previous wins over Gwyn Davies in 1977, Stax in 1979 and Naggers in 1988, this time St Clair actually won the belt via pinfall rather than by disqualification - perhaps unsurprising since the title change was a clean match against champion Dave Taylor. Mal Sanders also spent his time away from the European Middlweight title by winning the Welterweight title - finally vacated by Danny Collins after years of bookings for Roger Delaporte in France and Northern Spain. By the end of the year, he had lost the belt to Kashmir Singh - but just in time for his regaining the Middleweight title from Grey. The year also saw the debut of a young rookie who would go on to dominate the scene - fourteen year old James Atkins, later better known as James Mason. There were many promising talents emerging during the early 90s - Justin Hansford, championed by the Daily Star and sports minister Colin Moynihan, who would later become TWA splinter British Heavyweight champion as Justin Starr (and headline All Star shows circa 2002 as yet another UK undertaker), future champion and trainer to the stars Jason Cross, Welsh prospects Boston Blackie and Geraint "Gary" Clwyd/Welsh (both of whom sadly ended up as tribute wrestlers the UK Rock and Dunk the Clown respectively) but few managed to become quite the ambassador and leading face of the British scene as Mason would go on to be. Interviewed by Simon Garfield who was researching for his The Wrestling book (by the time he had finished, Mason already had championship gold, as we shall see in 1996) Mason recalled his earliest fights against Tony walsh's son Darren Walsh (later to be a local second generation hero in Warwickshire and the evil Thunder everywhere else) and the twenty stone Warlord, and how he was now starting to win matches more often. He would soon be winning more than just "often".

 

 

1993 wrapped up with both major promtions having lost their top star, but 1994 would see Max Crabtree and RWS pull out one last ace in the hole. Unable to win the WCW World title, Davey Boy Smith - the other British Bulldog - came back home for a while to be a big domestic star and the nearest thing to Big Daddy mk2. Meanwhile All Star kept the action burning with the first of a series of shock heel turns, when Danny Boy became Dirty Dan ...

December 27, 2017 at 8:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Anglo Italian
Moderator
Posts: 2099

Thanks David.

Great research, I love the way you identify that this was Tony St Clair's first title victory by other than disqualification.


I was outìside Europe through the nineties so missed all of this.  You scarecly mention venues, just a couple of bouts in Hindley and Norwich.  This leaves me curious to klnow where all these events were taking place?


Your beloved Croydon for sure?  Otherwise, it all sounds very northern...?

--

Still trying to work out what was going on!

December 28, 2017 at 4:06 AM Flag Quote & Reply

David Mantell
Member
Posts: 2532

If I may recommend:

http://web.archive.org/web/20090210145513/http://britishwrestlingarchive.co.uk/1992.htm

Also plenty of useful info on wrestling-titles.com and the wikipedia pages for the British titles.

Some stuff I checked up on Youtube and learned a few new things - notably whom the Liverpool Lads actually lost the British Open Tag Team title to in Robbie Brookside's Video Diaries.  It wasn't the Superflies after all (I had confused the title loss with the match seen later in the docu) but Task Force: Steve Prince and Vic Powers.  (who very quickly lost the belts to the Superflies anyway.)  Actually there's a whole thread in itself to be had debating over whether the head-clashing incident was the booked finish or a genuine screw-up - and if so, if the backstage argument Robbie and Doc have with Paul Neu was a shoot or a work.  (Obviously the later Liverpool Lads/Superflies dressing room incident is a work.)

December 28, 2017 at 4:55 AM Flag Quote & Reply

David Mantell
Member
Posts: 2532

Am posting this link here as it will come in handy on the next three pieces:
http://web.archive.org/web/20090414105006/http://britishwrestlingarchive.co.uk:80/1994%20to%20the%20present%20day%20RESULTS.htm

December 28, 2017 at 5:16 AM Flag Quote & Reply

David Mantell
Member
Posts: 2532

A Year in Wrestling 1994

Back in 1979 a nervous young welterweight called Young David considered himself to have hit the big time when, at a TV taping at Leamington Spa's Royal Spa Centre (one of my my local venues since the mid-Noughties!) he got to be the blue-eye in peril tag team partner of Big Daddy as they defeated the South London Hardmen tag team of Steve Logan mk1 and the legendary Mick McManus. Everyone at his school talked about it, and well they might to see one of their own number working with megastars like Daddy and McManus on national TV. Fifteen years later, via Calgary, Japan, two runs of coast-to-coast WWF stardom, a World Tag Team title Wembley Stadium, the Intercontinental title and a run as the flagship of WCW's own UK invasion, British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith finally actually got to BE Big Daddy! No, he did not regenerate Doctor Who style into big Shirley, but rather for several months he got to take over the empty slot left by Daddy as the household name around whom Max Crabtree's Ring Wrestling Stars shows were built.

 

Having starred at the Twin Towers and at major arenas up and down the land, Davey got his big chance to be King Fish in a domestic-sized pool due to the retirement of Big Daddy. "The British Bulldog's Homecoming tour" saw Davey generally tagging with former Daddy partner Tony Stewart to face and defeat much the same sorts of pairings who would previously have been sent in to bounce off against Big Daddy. The highpoint of an RWS show was no longer the biggest villains of the scene getting the Big Splash but instead getting the running powerslam. Like his estranged cousin and former tag team partner Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy was finally into the megastar pay/conditions bracket historically reserved for McManus, Pallo, Nagasaki, Daddy and Haystacks. The Big Daddy Roadshow had suddenly become the British Bulldog roadshow.

 

One man who was deeply affected by this whole situation was the other British Bulldog Dynamite Kid, still a star for All Star and Orig Williams's BWF, and still, despite his dilapidated condition, a better-skilled wrestler than his cousine. Tom Billington was recently bereaved and the real-life feud between him and David Smith had torn their entire family apart to the point where Billington's father had refused to see his sister, Smith's mother, on his deathbed. Dynamite also blamed Davey Boy and his wife Diana Hart-Smith for having assisted WWF lawyers in their quest to obstruct his UK appearances as a British Bulldog, and ultimately for a false call to Japan claiming he had died in a car crash. With this in mind, Kid took it upon himself to turn up to a Ring Wrestling Stars show near his home and sort Smith out. The plan failed - Smith locked himself away while Max Crabtree managed to keep Kid occupied long enough for venue staff to summon the police and arrest Kid. (One wonders why he didn't think of turning up to the show in disguise and then breaking out to disrupt Davey Boy's match - he might cetainly have stood a better chance of getting his hands on Davey Boy that way.)

 

The problem that Max Crabtree faced was that Davey Boy was constantly in danger of being lured back to American or Japanese wrestling by the right offer. When the WWF made that offer and Davey Boy went back there in August 1994, in time to be in Bret Hart's corner for his Summerslam title match against Owen Hart, Ring Wrestling Stars went into its final terminal tailspin that within six months would see it die off after nearly 43 years business. It's doubtful if Max was looking for a long term plan for Ring Wrestling Stars, rather a quick moneyspinning retirement fundraiser - Shirley's stepdaughter Jane Wade has confirmed that neither Steve "Greg Valentine" Crabtree nor brother Scott was interested in carrying on the business, so with no heir to Max there was no longterm future anyway. The bigger question which remains to this day is whether Davey Boy Smith would still be alive to this day if he had not gone back to the States - he was fated to injure himself on a ring trapdoor set up for the Warrior in WCW, thereby causing an addiction to painkillers that would ultimately prove fatal. If he had stayed as a home country household name, would he still be alive today?

 

Davey Boy Smith's 1994 sting in Ring Wrestling Stars would prove to be one last twist in the tale of the All Star vs Joint/RWS promotional war as it was the last time Max Crabtree really put up a fight against Brian Dixon. It was a good time to play catchup against Dixon as his flagship wrestler Kendo Nagasaki had also announced his retirement the previous year. However, Dixon was more adept and experienced at the art of pirate promoting than Max had ever been - he had learned the ropes as an outlaw indie in the days of Joint Promotion's pomp - and he knew how to milk as much cash as he could out of his own comapany's golden era. All Star had been limbering up for a Kendo vs Kendo war between Kendo Nagasaki and Lawrence Stevens on one side and Lloyd Ryan and King Kendo on the other. So, the theory went, Nagasaki's own heat could be carried on with Lloyd managing *a* Kendo. The only snag was that of course Bill Clarke, who regularly played King Kendo, had also just gone and retired.

 

Still, as the great Naggers himself had observed in his Arena documentary "Anyone can be Kendo Nagasaki!" He meant that anyone who wanted to could *fantasize* about being Kendo Nagasaki, rather than that the barn door was open for Kendo impersonators, but by Nagasaki's logic anyone could be King Kendo (and indeed in the past a couple of other wrestlers had filled in for Clarke.) So it was that Dale "The Model" Preston, tag team partner of one time Clarke partner Drew McDonald in his Ultimate Chippendales combo and good Lincolnshire buddy of Bill Clarke himself, took over the role of King Kendo and carried on partnering the mouthy Lloyd as All Star's new top villain. Initially it was announced that Nagasaki and Lloyd had patched things up and that Naggers had given Lloyd and KK his blessing to "carry on his good work" so to speak. Initially Preston wore specially purchased new Kendo-wear that made him look closer to the actual Nagasaki than Clarke ever did. However in order to fool the punters into thinking it was still Clarke behing the mask, Clarke made a present to Preston, his mate and fellow Bostonian, of all his old Kendo gear including the extra-wide Kendo helmet and short sword.

 

Just in case there were any doubters that Naggers and Lloyd had patched things up, the two made one more mainstream TV appearance this year when they turned up together on Danny Baker's Saturday night TV show on BBC1. Lloyd confirmed that Nagasaki was now retired and also revealed that he had been teaching Kendo to play the drums - and the two of them proceeded to play twin drumkits together in the TV studio (recreating a cut scene from the Arena docu.) For Danny Baker himself, beneath all his bonhomie and humour, the interview was a bizarre experience as despite his expectations, he never got to meet the man behind the mask beforehand, only getting to see the Samurai Sword Bearer (TM) when he strode onto the set of the chat show. For those of the public that did not follow All Star, Nagasaki and Lloyd's appearance together semed to confirm the prediction in an article on Kendo, Haystacks (who got the magazine cover) Klondyke Kate and Big Daddy, published in the Sunday Telegraph that summer but written a year earlier, predicting that the Lloyd and KN would reunite.

 

The real hot villain in All Star this year, however, turned out to be a most unlikely candidate - Danny Boy Collins. Suddenly turning a squeaky-clean scientific good guy into an evil traitor supervillain has been a popular US trick, best epitomised by the "Is Nothing Sacred?" heel turn of Barry Windham in 1988 when he forsook Lex Luger, Dusty Rhodes and the fans and joined the hated Four Horsement. In All Star in 1994 it was Danny's turn to shock the fans when he suddenly fell out with Liverpool Lads Robbie Brookside and Doc Dean and began a heated feud with them. Danny had been having a good year, having taken the European Middleweight title from Mal Sanders back in March (although Sanders would make up for it by regaining the European Welterweight title from Kashmir Singh in about the only two title changes in what was otherwise a quiet year for belts). Now all of a sudden, Danny Boy had changed his image and changed his style and became Dirty Dan Collins - the snarling stubbled rulebender with tactics as foul as his old self's were spectacular. Initially Dirty Dan grew his hair longer and wore a leotard instead of trunks. He even still performed many of his old scientific moves in among the fouls.


Danny's heel turn was not quite the first of its kind - Sanders late 1980s turn first set the pattern. but it did pave the way for later heel turns by squeaky-clean blue eyes such as Robbie Brookside in 1995 or James Mason in 2002 - the same golden haired teenage James Mason that was by now starting to get a real winning streak together in All Star. Appropriately enough Danny, once a heel, began tagging with Sanders, the man from whom he had won his European Middleweight title. Talking of tag partners, Danny's big brother Peter Collins also joined Danny on the dark side this year. Peter Collins would eventually go on to be one of the biggest heels in the UK as Mr Vain Pete Collins, one of the biggest heat machines of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Even when Danny went back to blue-eye for a while for Orig Williams in the late 1990s, Mr Vain would stay Mr Villain, ultimately resulting in a feud at the tail end of the 1990s between the Collins boys for old Orig.

 

So both All Star and RWS were running hot programmes this year, and Premier had expanded its repertoire of championship tournaments by introducing the Worthing Trophy, sponsored by Sussex Ford Breakers, to add to the Ken Joyce trophy won by Pat Roach in 1992 and by Johnny Saint over Tony Stewart in 1993. Both trophies in 1994 were won by Steve Grey over that man Sanders again.    It all seemed like good cause to be optimistic about British wrestling's future.  One man who was definitely not positive about the current state of Traditional British wrestling, however was former journeyman Andre Baker who had bumped around the bottom of Joint bills for years without making it onto TV. The newly (re)launched Powerslam interviewed Baker about his new Americanized promtion Hammerlock and how he aimed to get young wrestlers to train with him so that they could bypass the traditional British scene and go on to have American careers. Baker claimed how he would do everything in his power to persuade his students to have nothing to do with the traditional UK scene. He must have been gutted when his most touted student, one Doug Williams, went on to become a British and European Heavyweight champion for All Star Wrestling and a finalist for six straight years (five of those six the winner) for Premier's Worthing Trophy from 2002-2007 as well as the 2007 winner of the Ken Joyce memorial trophy (about all of which, of course, PowerSlam was curiously silent.)

 

1994 would also end on a sad note for British wrestling with the death of Bobby Barron, the man who ran the world's last shoot challenge booth out of Blackpool's Pleasure Beach Horseshoe Bar. Wrestlers like Robbie Brookside, steve Regal, Klondyke Kate and Keith Myatt had all worked as carny shooters taking on all comers and defending carnival money by hooking the all comers with brutal submission holds that allowed them to take out even top amateur freestylists. It fell to Regal, briefly back here on leave from WCW where he had clocked up two TV title reigns - to promote a tribute show for Barron, which he did at Christmas 1994 in Blackpool. Sadly attendances were depleted by the Tower Circus, which had suffered a fatality on the high wire just days earlier, bringing in all the gruesome voyeurs hoping to see it happen again. Barron would always be remembered by the boys for giving the likes of Regal and Brookside a head start and allowing them to be ambassadors for the old school UK game.

 

With Davey Boy gone back to the WWF, RWS would spend its final months mostly in the North promoting tag team tournaments. It would make it a couple of months into 1995 but, as we shall see, when it was gone it was not too desperately missed. All Star might have gone off the boil and the tributes were starting to multiply like rabbits but Danny's heel turn would be supplemented by another heel turn, while his old top heel manager and replacement top heel would continue to milk the golden era by reenacting all manner of old feuds, especially with Giant Haystacks. It proved enough to draw the angry heat however. However, the big news for All Star in the new year would come from another masked mystery man - or two - over on the side of the blue eyes. For All Star, 1995 would be a mighty morphin' kind of year.

December 28, 2017 at 7:18 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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