World Association of Wrestling set to hit the screens of Mustard TV
- Credit: Archant
For years it was a British institution, and a must-see on a Saturday afternoon for millions of viewers.
Now, the grappling world of British professional wrestling is body slamming its way back onto our screens.
From September, Norwich-based wrestling organisation the World Association of Wrestling (WAW) will be invading Mustard TV, bringing its hard-hitting action to the channel.
It is the brainchild of 63-year-old 'Rowdy' Ricky Knight, who has devoted decades to the sport.
The wrestler founded WAW in 1994, along with his wife Sweet Saraya, which in its 22 years has gone on to become one of Britain's leading wrestling promotions.
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Rowdy Ricky said: 'We deal with larger-than-life characters, fast and furious action and great family entertainment that anybody can enjoy.
'It's absolutely massive for us to be on Mustard TV. We have always wanted to bring British wrestling to television and the team at Mustard has always been hugely supportive so it's a deal that works for everybody.'
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The grappler is celebrating his 30th anniversary in the industry, having – by his own admission – found himself starting by chance.
He said: 'I started in wrestling completely by accident.
'I was working as a bouncer in King's Lynn and got talking to a wrestler called Jimmy Ocean, and the rest is history.
'I was always a big football fan and loved sport in general, so this was just another one for me to get involved with. I never thought I would still be doing it 30 years later.'
Ricky formed a tag team with Ocean, and in 1989 the pair became British Tag Team Champions in Bristol.
The team – the Superflys – are still together and will be featured on the upcoming Mustard TV episodes.
'Winning the British titles with Jimmy is one of the biggest highlights of my career – in those days there was just one team as champions in the country, and that was us,' he said.
'But, the thing I am most proud of is the rise of WAW. When we started we only used to perform in one venue, now we are one of the biggest promotions in the UK and perform all over the country.'
However, for all its growth, one of Ricky's biggest ambitions is to see his company on television, something they have now achieved.
A total of 21 episodes of WAW will be shown on Mustard, with the veteran wrestler promising a whirlwind ride for viewers.
'In its 22 years, WAW has grown to be up there with the best wrestling organisations in the world,' he said. 'We are a very British production – we wrestle in a British style, but we have had to evolve over the years.
'We've added a lot of the razzmatazz of American wrestling, but with less talking and more action.'
Rob Setchell, Mustard TV head of content, said: 'We're delighted that wrestling which is filmed right here in Norwich is going to find a home on its local television channel.
'For lots of people Saturday afternoons and wrestling used to go hand in hand – so we think it's about time the Full Nelson made a grand return to Nelson's County!'
THE FIGHTING FAMILY
For Ricky Knight, wrestling really is a family affair.
His two sons, Zak and Roy Knight, together make up a team called the UK Hooligans, who currently hold WAW's Tag Team Titles.
His daughter is currently signed for WWE, under the name Paige, however, it was when also trying out that Zak realised his true calling in the wrestling world.
'Around four years ago I had trials for WWE and found I was having issues with a knee injury, so my dad asked me whether that was what I really wanted,' Zak said. 'I thought long and hard, and looked him square in the eyes and said 'no'.
'I told him that day, what I truly wanted was to get British wrestling back onto television by any means possible. Now, this feels like when Del Boy and Rodney found the watch and finally became millionaires – this is our Only Fools and Horses moment.'
Zak and brother Roy will feature heavily on the show and he has urged viewers to expect the unexpected.
'We live up to our Hooligan name,' he said. 'I can never tell people what to expect from us, because everything we do is based on being unpredictable.
'We just go out there to brawl and batter people!'
Alongside the array of local talent on show, the series will also bring stars from across the pond to Norwich.
Among them will be former WWE superstar Ricardo Rodriguez, who hails from Los Angeles, California.
He said: 'I first got acquainted with the Knight family through [Ricky's daughter and WWE superstar] Paige and she always spoke so highly of them, so I'm very excited.
'I hope I will be able to share some of my knowledge and help put on great shows.'
The 30-year-old is no stranger to performing in front of a British crowd, after spending four years with the WWE.
'British crowds are always so much fun to perform in front of,' he said.
'I've always said the football atmosphere translates very well to wrestling – the crowds are always very lively and very noisy.'
'I don't know what to expect from the show but I just want to perform to the best of my ability and learn all about British wrestling.'
Other big names from the States appearing in the show include WWE Hall of Fame members Scott Hall (aka Razor Ramon) and 'The Million Dollar Man' Ted diBiase, and former United States Champion Mr Anderson.
Ricky, along with former WWE superstar Ricardo Rodriguez, will toast the deal with Dan Bancroft and Beth Davison on tonight's Mustard Show at 6.30pm.
The first episode airs on September 10.