Bryan Danielson Says Butlins Was His Favourite Place To Wrestle


Hamish Woodward

Bryan Danielson loved wrestling in England. But not for the flashy shows at the 02 arena with the WWE, or at Wembley Stadium with AEW.

No. He loved travelling the roads in a bus from one Butlins to another. Butlins is a chain of holiday camps in England, create in 1936 to offer low-cost, all-inclusive holidays for British families.

Wrestling was a big part of the entertainment at Butlins. In the holiday camps, there are a number of different forms of entertainment to keep the kids happy in the evenings. This could be magic acts, singers and dancers, or even professional wrestling.

For years, the only real remnants of the once great business of professional business in the UK was what was going on at Butlins. Some big stars came through these holiday camps, including American stars like Bryan Danielson and Tyson Kidd. Other wrestlers who have worked the camps include Drew McIntyre, Sheamus and Mason Ryan.

These were run by Brian Dixon, the legendary promoter of All Star Wrestling. After the cancellation of World of Sport in 1988, the Welsh-language Reslo was the only wrestling on TV in the UK. This meant like events were the only means for the British stars to work as professional wrestlers.

With the business on a downturn, he made a good living in the holiday camps, along with keeping the wrestling industry in the UK alive. Upon William Regal’s recommendation, Dixon hired Danielson for a six-month spell in the UK to join his tour.

This helped make Bryan Danielson. He wrote in his book, “Yes!: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of Wrestlemania” that it helped teach him to become a better wrestler. The American Dragon would three matches a night in front of a crowd who weren’t there to see the wrestling. They weren’t fans, they were just there for the free entertainment that was put on by Butlins.

This helped Danielson learn to get a crowd interested in a match, even if they weren’t invested to begin with. Considering he has gone on to be one of the greatest of all time, it clearly did wonders for his career.

Bryan Danielson wrestled under a mask as “The American Dragon” in Butlins.

It was also Bryan Danielson’s favourite time in his wrestling career. In his book, he called it “the most fun I’ve ever had in wrestling”. Danielson also noted that, if Brian Dixon from All-Star Wrestling could have paid him more, he’d have wrestled his entire career in the UK, in Butlin.

“Truth be told, if Brian Dixon had been able to pay a little more, I probably would have never left. The lifestyle really appealed to me. I didn’t own a lot because there was no room for it in the suitcase I literally lived out of for a year and a half. There was no stress, no pressure, just driving up and down the roads with interesting guys and wrestling. We essentially lived like gypsies. It was perfect.”

“I love being able to see Brian Dixon and his family when they occasionally come to the shows, and I’ll run into guys like Mikey Whiplash here and there. I love seeing them all. And whenever I go back, I always get this secret longing in my heart for the days gone by when everything was a little more innocent for me. It was the most fun I’d ever had in wrestling.

Danielson wrestled legends like Robbie Brookside during these times. However, Bryan Danielson wrestled Johnny Saint in the US some years later, in a classic bout.


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