On New Year’s Eve 2016, a television audience watched as British ‘World of Sport’ wrestling returned to ITV for the first time in almost three decades.
As a new generation of grappling stars followed in the footsteps of 80s household names Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks, one of the viewers was Greg Lambert, Visitor and Lancaster Guardian content editor and huge pro wrestling fan.
Now Greg has written a book about the lead-up to British wrestling’s TV comeback.
Ropes and Glory: The Emotional Rise of British Wrestling is his second book about the wacky world of beefy bruisers and body slams.
Away from his newspaper role, 45-year-old Greg has been a commentator, ring announcer and performer on the UK wrestling circuit for 15 years.
He also used to organise the regular wrestling shows at local venues The Dome, The Carleton and Lancaster and Morecambe College.
Father-of-two Greg describes Ropes and Glory as “the inside tale of a passionate group of men and women fighting to emerge from the underground into the global spotlight”.
“Some people don’t give pro wrestling enough respect,” he said.
“This book will open their eyes. So many people have sacrificed so much to get British wrestling back on television.
“It has been the ambition of British wrestlers and promoters for years.
“This is the story of the twists and turns, the highs and lows, the triumphs and tragedies that happened along the way.”
Morecambe born and bred, Greg has also paid tribute to his home town in the book.
It contains many stories about how our little seaside resort has been a hotbed for pro wrestling dating all the way back to the 1930s.
“So many of the top TV grapple stars have appeared in Morecambe,” said Greg.
“Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Mick McManus, Bomber Pat Roach, the Dynamite Kid, Marty Jones, even Andre the Giant...the list goes on and on.”
Fans of the WWE American wrestling on Sky also won’t be disappointed by the book.
“I’ve worked with many of the big names from WWE over the years and some of my experiences of doing so are in the book,” said Greg.
“At times it’s been quite surreal to meet and work alongside people like ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase and Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat who I watched on TV growing up.”
But the book is mainly about the Brits, many of whom are now part of the globally-touring WWE and appeared in the recent WWE UK Championship Tournament on the WWE Network.
“There are so many great British wrestlers who have had TV exposure over the past few months,” said Greg.
“Noam Dar, Jack Gallagher, Neville, Tyler Bate, Pete Dunne, Mark Andrews, Rockstar Spud, Grado, Drew Galloway, El Ligero, Dave Mastiff, Sha Samuels, Viper...I could go on forever. The list is endless.
“For years these people toiled away off the radar in small halls and holiday camps, sometimes in front of crowds of 30 people. Now they’re major superstars.
“British wrestling is as big now as it was during the World of Sport heyday, if not bigger.
“I’m very proud and honoured to have been part of it, and witnessed its emotional rise first-hand.”
In January Greg commentated on the first live TV UK wrestling show in almost 50 years, Dominant Wrestling which aired from Dundee on the Channel 5-owned Spike channel.
He also makes appearances as a dastardly manager on Alpha Omega Wrestling shows at The Carleton and commentates for Preston City Wrestling, who run shows in Preston and all over the north.
His first book Holy Grail:The True Story of British Wrestling’s Revival was released in 2012.