How The World Of Sport Reboot Can Become A Success


Hamish Woodward

World of Sport Wrestling is back in 2024, and it cannot get much worse than last time.

The company announced their return from a six-year hiatus today, following a press release on their website. It revealed a new plan for the company, away from the glitz and glamour of ITV, and away to Norwich’s Epic Studios.

If they want the show to be a success, then they need to step away from their previous efforts. It didn’t work. It was horrible. Get over it, forget it and never mention it again.

With Grado and co leading the way, this could become a big deal in wrestling. However, there are five crucial things that World of Sport: The Return needs to do to become a success. Here are those five things.

1. Become A Touring Company

World of Sport: The Return needs to do things very differently to the 2018 reboot. Putting it in a brightly-lit studio, with the same set of non-wrestling fans for six hours of tapings is not the way to go.

There is a reason studio wrestling hasn’t worked in decades. The fans get bored seeing the same thing, and eventually stop turning up. Taping weeks at a time may be financially beneficial, but there’s nothing like live wrestling.

World of Sport should take note of what the companies used to do. Tour around the country, visiting new cities and creating new fans.

Having intimate shows, with cheap tickets and exciting crowds, will be much more beneficial to the brand than a lifeless studio filled with fans silently wishing for it to end by the time episode number five is taped.

2. Focus On Interesting Characters And Exciting Storylines

WOS: The Return needs to have some exciting storylines to hook the week-to-week fans. There’s a reason that cheaply-made soaps like Eastenders and Coronation Street have dominated the airwaves for the past half a century.

Good matches are great. Seeing two talented wrestlers clash simply for the sport of it is interesting. But not for an entire hour. Fans need something hooking them in, a reason to root for one man and boo another.

Look at AEW last year. Adam Cole vs MJF was the most anticipated match on the All In card. Their match at Wembley Stadium wasn’t really build on the great match they had with FTR, or their clashes earlier in the year.

It was the friendship, and inevitable break-up between the pair, that had the crowd demanding to see those two fight. While other matches may have been technically better that night, nothing came close to the crowd reaction of that main event.

World of Sport need to tap into that, and have storylines that keep fans watching from week to week, desperate to see what will happen next.

3. Ditch The “ITV-Fication” Of The Show

We all saw the ITV reboot of “World of Sport”. It bore almost no resemblance to the original Joint Promotions shows that made Saturday afternoon wrestling a “can’t miss”.

It was brightly lit, colourful and devoid of any character. You would struggle to differentiate the show from Ninja Warrior or Gladiators, or any other Saturday night family entertainment show.

That isn’t wrestling. The general public don’t want wrestling. This show isn’t for them, it is for the wrestling fans. The nature of television now isn’t to draw everybody in. Streaming has made everything so separate, and given everybody to ability to watch exactly what they want.

This is what World of Sport: The Return needs to do. They need to tone down the colours, get rid of the celeb interviewers and the corny “instant replay!” features that plagued the 2018 reboot. The Metro called it “the wrong show at the right time“, which is exactly what it was. A wrestling show, that barely resembled modern wrestling, at a time when BritWres hit its peak.

That doesn’t mean a low-production affair – but sometimes, less is more, and we don’t need hitting over the head that you want this to be a mainstream show. There’s a reason World of Sport wrestling was cancelled.

4. Build Up Actual Wrestling Stars

Some names have already been announced for the reboot, and so far, it looks positive. A host of returning stars have been revealed, including former WOS Heavyweight Champion Grado, Sha Samuels, Adam Maxted, Martin Kirby, Alpha Male Iestyn Rees and Ashton Smith.

Joel Redman, Bullit, LA Taylor, Nightshade and SoCal Val will also make appearances, giving a good start to what could be a great roster.

However, it needs work. They are missing some big names from the last series, although some are impossible to return. Will Ospreay has gone on to become one of the biggest stars in wrestling, so he is impossible to bring back. Joe Hendry is another who has found success away from WOS, and is way too big for the this reunion.

The likes of Rampage Brown, Harry Smith and Kay Lee Ray are unlikely to return, although the roster could replace them with some top new names on the UK scene.

Young stars like Luke Jacobs, James Ellis and Man Like Dereiss would be fine pickups for the show, and look to be some of the top young stars in British wrestling. WOS will need to focus on people like this, to build them up into stars that can compete with some of the best in the world.

The previous iteration of the show failed to do that. Nobody came out of that mess looking any better. Grado, for all his faults, should have been used better, given he walked into the promotion as the World Champion.

Pushing Harry Smith on the strength of his father’s nickname was another choice, while the less said about Justin Sysum, the better. He only wrestled nine times after WOS was cancelled, so why they thought him the man to hold the Heavyweight title is bemusing.

WOS need to build up young stars into real main event talents. If the company is to tour (and as we said, they should), they need names to draw the tickets. These young stars, with the right push, can be that name.

The fact that they had a roster with Will Ospreay, Joe Hendry and Gabe Kidd, and Justin Sysum was the champion, spoke volumes. It wasn’t a regional show with the stars flown in for one night. It was an ITV production.

5. Be Free To Watch Online

Nobody is going to pay to watch this show. After the failure that was the ITV 10-part series, anybody willing to part with their hard-earned cash to give it another go is somebody that sorely needs help.

The show should be free to watch. The company have announced it will be streaming on social media and their website, which is a good thing. We can probably assume they will follow a more traditional model, with weekly taped shows with a pay per view every month or so.

This is how they need to do it. They will hook the fans in with the free shows on YouTube, making their money selling tickets to events and merchandise across the country. Pay per views are way they can make their cash.

This is the only way they can grow the fanbase who have already been burnt before. Over time, if they can retain a decent core fanbase, then the company can explore a television deal. Given they’ve resorted to streaming it themselves, it is safe to say that nobody is interested on any major freeview channel.

I would love to see WOS: The Return become a big player in the UK wrestling scene, but they have a lot of work to do before they are forgiven for the travesty that was the ITV series in 2018.


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