Posted March 19th, 2011 by jshannon

Ringside Remembrances — The Great Britons

Jay Shannon draws upon four decades of being a devout wrestling fan (and a lifetime as an Irishman) to look at the past, present and future of professional wrestling.

“Erin Go Bragh (Ireland Forever)” — Gaelic Pledge of Allegiance phrase

This week celebrates Saint Patrick. Being true to my Irish roots , I’m ready to honor my heritage. My great, great grandfather, James. came to the United States around 1835 from just outside Dublin. Many great wrestlers have come to the United States from not only Ireland but the other three countries that make up Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). As Clannad plays on my CD player, I thought I’d sit down and look at some of the best men and women to come to “The Colonies”.

William Regal — England

Born and raised in Blackpool, England, Darren Matthews has worked as both “Lord” Steven and William Regal. Before coming to the states, he did some acting. His most notable role was as a Nazi soldier on the very popular British situation comedy “Allo Allo” (Series Eight). After coming to the states in 1983, Regal went to work collecting championships. He won the WCW TV title on four occasions. In the WWF/E, he won the Intercontinental title (twice), European title (four times), Hardcore title (five times) and World Tag belts (3 times). Regal has moved into a more behind-the-scenes role as of late. He has become a very successful trainer for the WWE. His top student, so far, has been Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson). Regal is also one of the WWE’s main liasons with talent in the British Isles. He is sure to be a Hall of Famer, likely in the near future. He is highly respected by the locker room and the fans.

Davey Boy Smith — England

The Manchester native started training for wrestling at the age of 14. Ted Betley trained Davey near his home. By the time he reached 17, Smith was a very popular star around the United Kingdom. Davey’s cousin, Tom “Dynamite Kid” Billington, went to Canada to work for Stu Hart’s Stampede promotion in the early 80s. Davey and Dynamite joined forces to become a very successful tag team, after initially feuding. They worked in both Canada and Japan before being brought into the expanding WWF. The cousins worked as The British Bulldogs. The Bulldogs split their time between WWF and Stampede until 1992. Dynamite Kid retired from wrestling, due to health issues. Davey went to WCW and his singles career took off. He never claimed gold in WCW but he was involved in numerous top storylines. Davey had beaten his brother-in-law, Bret Hart, for the Intercontinental title at Summerslam 92. When he returned to the WWF in 1994, he joined forces with his family to create an expanded Hart Foundation. This came after an extended Family Feud between Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart vs Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart. He won several singles and tag team titles between 1997 and 2000. By 2000, Davey Boy’s drug problem was out of control (according to Diana Hart-Smith on the Hart and Soul DVD). Vince McMahon offered to cover the costs of rehab but Davey left before finishing the rehab program. Davey died of a heart attack in British Columbia on May 18, 2002. It would be almost two years before the official autopsy results would be released. It was indicated by the coroner that repeated use of anabolic steroids had weakened Smith’s heart. Smith’s legacy continues through his son, David Hart Smith (Harry Smith).

Mason Ryan — Wales

Barri Griffith was working on a reality show about becoming a wrestler when he was scouted for the UK version of Gladiators. He became Goliath. Griffith toured Europe and South America, using the names Celtic Warrior and Smackdown Warrior. Griffith was signed to a five year deal in 2009. He began working in Florida Championship Wrestling in early 2010, under the name Mason Ryan. He spent approximately a year in Florida before being brought up in January, 2011 as a member of the New Nexus.

(Fit) Finlay — Ireland

David Findlay was born near Belfast, Ireland in 1958. He was trained by Ted Betley, the same man who trained Davey Boy Smith. Findlay spent the first 15 years of his career winning titles all across Europe. Findlay came to WCW in 1995, under the name of the Belfast Bruiser. In April, 1996, Findlay suffered a nasty eye injury. He moved into a training position at the WCW Power Plant and rarely did on-screen wrestling work. He returned to active competition in early 1998 as “Fit” Finlay. He would have a successful run until a severe leg laceration in 1999 sidelined him again. After four months of rehabilitation, Finlay returned to the ring wars. He continued to work “Hardcore” matches until November 2000, when he left WCW to return to England. After the acquisition of WCW, Finlay was brought in to WWE as a Road Agent and Trainer. He returned to wrestling, full time, in January, 2006. In May, Finlay was partnered with midget wrestler, Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl. Postl was first known as Finlay’s Leprechaun, then the Little Bastard. During the McMahon/Hornswoggle storyline, Finlay was revealed as Hornswoggle’s father. Finlay and Hornswoggle would eventually be sent to different brands. Over the next few years, Finlay would work all three brands (Raw, Smackdown and ECW). Finlay would also work in Florida to help train Sheamus. The two had an Irish based feud. Finlay went into semi-retirement shortly after Wrestlemania 26.

“Gentleman” Chris Adams — England

Adams was born in Stratford-on-Avon, England. Before wrestling, Adams was an Olympic Judo champion (being part of the British Judo team). In fact, when he first started wrestling in England, he was known as “Judo” Chris Adams. He was trained by Shirley Crabtree and Tony Sinclair. Adams first global-level championship was the WWF World Light Heavyweight title (1981). Adams was brought into the World Class territory in 1983. WCCW ran several vignettes to introduce the Englishman. For the next 7 years, Adams worked in World Class, Mid-South and Jim Crockett Promotions. He returned to Dallas in 1993 to help build the Global Wrestling Federation. After GWF folded, Adams went into retirement and ran his wrestling school in the Dallas area. In 1998, he joined WCW for an uneventful two year run. In 1999, the man who trained “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and others went into full retirement. Adams was shot to death in Waxahachie, Texas on October 7, 2001, after an altercation with an acquaintance. Adams was married three times. Two of his ex-wives were involved with wrestling: Toni Adams-Donahoo and Jeannie Clarke-Adams-Haynes-Williams (aka Lady Blossom).

“Exotic” Adrian Street and Miss Linda — England

Adrian began wrestling in his native in 1957. He was another wrestler to use the nickname of Nature Boy (only in Europe). Street began to work in the States in the late 70s and early 80s. He and his wife, Linda, worked primarily in the Southern Corridor of the US. Adrian and Linda would eventually retire to Florida where they opened a very successful wrestling school. They also provide top-of-the-line wrestling gear to the industry. The Streets still work occasional shows around Florida and up the Eastern Seaboard.

Sheamus — Ireland

Stephen Farrelly was born in Dublin, Ireland. His actual date of birth is a mystery. He started working in the European theater in 2002. He worked as Seamus O’Shaunessy during his first five years in the business. In 2007, he was signed to a developmental deal by the WWE and brought to Florida. Upon entering FCW, his name was adjusted from Seamus to Sheamus. In Florida, he did use the O’Shaunessy surname. By April, 2009, Sheamus dropped the surname. Soon after, he was brought up to the main roster in WWE. Sheamus worked all three brands (Raw, Smackdown and ECW). Before the end of the year, Sheamus would take the WWE title from John Cena. He would then feud with Triple H, sidelining The Game for almost a year. Sheamus won the 2010 King of the Ring and then went on a losing streak. He snapped then when he took the United States title from Daniel Bryan.

Winter (Katie Lea Burchill) — England

Katarina Waters was born in Germany but moved to England, at an early age. After reading about The Ultimate Warrior and Wrestlemania VI, Kat was hooked. She decided to try her hand at wrestling and underwent an intense training routine. She made her debut in December 2000, using the ring name Nikita (taken from La Femme Nikita). She first wrestled under her nickname, Kat, but abandoned the identity when Stacy Carter took the name in the WWE. Her main trainer was Alex Shane, a wrestler she first saw on The Jerry Springer Show. Nikita spent almost six years working the European and US indy circuits before getting a developmental deal from the WWE in 2006. After losing a match to a Greek wrestler named Blue Nikita, Kat took on the ring name of Katie Lea. Katie Lea spent 2 years in the developmental system. She was brought up to the main roster in February, 2008, as the “sister” of Paul Burchill. The Burchill surname was tacked on to her existing Katie Lea ring name. The duo feuded with numerous stars on both the Raw and ECW brands. Paul lost a match that should have gotten both he and his sister fired. He took on the masked identity of The Ripper and she became Beautiful Nightmare. Katie Lea was released in April, 2010, as part of a major talent dismissal. She then moved to TNA. She took on the witch-like persona of Winter. Currently, she has been working a program with Angelina Love and Velvet Sky. Love and Winter have been the Knockout tag champs. A feud between Winter and the BPs is just around the corner.

Paul Burchill — England

Paul Burchall was born and raised in Surrey. He was a fan of professional wrestling since childhood. In 2001, he made contact with Frontier Wrestling Alliance (the same group that had trained his “Sister”, Katie Lea) and instantly impressed the trainers. He spent two years (2002-04) working various promotions around Europe. In early 2005, Paul was given a developmental deal with the WWE and sent to OVW. He rose quickly through the roster to become a top contender for both the singles and tag titles. Paul was brought up to the main roster on the request of Tommy Dreamer. Paul was saddled with an awful Pirate gimmick, somewhat based on the Johnny Depp character from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Fans both loved and hated the silly character. In 2006, he was sent back into the developmental system for repackaging. He returned, in 2008, as a tough street fighter. He also brought along his “sister”, Katie Lea Burchill. The Burchills worked on both the Raw and ECW brands. When ECW was terminated, Paul was released. Paul took some time off to return home and to deal with the loss of his brother in Afghanistan. Paul began working a few indy dates in the spring of 2010.

Dave Taylor — England

The Yorkshire native worked the first two decades of his career in Europe. He was brought to WCW in the Fall of 1995 to help expand the Blue Bloods (“Lord” Steven Regal and Sir Robert Eaton). After the dissolution of the “regal” trio, Taylor was moved into a Talent Enhancer position until November, 1999. He then went into semi-retirement. He opened a wrestling school in 2002 and did a few dates for the TNA promotion. In 2004, he was offered a scouting/trainer position with the WWE. Taylor was also reunited with his old partner, Steven (now William) Regal. Taylor would later team with others from the British Isles (Paul Burchill and Drew McIntyre). After being released in April, 2008, Taylor has worked for IWA Mid-South, CHIKARA and several other indy groups.

Wade Barrett — England

Stuart Bennett was born near Preston. He would eventually move to the Manchester area. Stuart was scouted for both a soccer and wrestling career, but chose wrestling. He started his career under the name “The Pinnacle” Stu Sanders. In October, 2007, Bennett signed with the WWE. During his time in the developmental system, he utilized four different identities: Stu Sanders, Stu Bennett, Lawrence Knight and finally Wade Barrett. He received a lot of his training from Al Snow and Paul Burchill (Paul’s being as his tag partner). Wade Barrett was brought in as part of the first season of NXT. His mentor was Chris Jericho. Barrett eventually won the competition. Barrett then brought in the other NXT rookies to form the original Nexus. Barrett then won a match that forced John Cena to be his lackey. When Cena dismantled the original Nexus, Barrett was sent packing to Smackdown. Once there, he formed a new version of Nexus, called The Corre. Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater left Nexus to join The Corre. Ezekiel Jackson rounded out the quartet. Barrett became the “unofficial” leader of the leaderless group. Wade has been feuding with Big Show on Smackdown. Rumors are swirling that Nexus 2.0 will feud with The Corre in and around Wrestlemania.

Lord Alfred Hayes — England

Many fans only knew Lord Alfred as the interviewer and some time comic foil to various Hulkamania Heels. Before he joined the WWF, Lord Alfred spent close to 20 years wrestling in the European market (1950s-70s). He held a black belt in judo. Hayes also spent much of the 70s as the masked White Angel. He was eventually unmasked by a wrestler known as Dr. Death (not to be confused with Steve WIlliams). In 1982, Hayes took the “Ed McMahon” role in the talk show, Tuesday Night Titans (a forerunner of Monday Night Raw). Vince McMahon hosted the show. When the show ended, Lord Alfred went into the interviewer position. He shared the interviewer job with “Mean” Gene Okerlund. Hayes was forced to retire in 1995, after a horrific car accident. Hayes would eventually have one of his legs partially amputated (a direct result of hte accident). Hayes suffered several strokes in 2004-05 and died from one on July 21, 2005. Oddly, Hayes made a posthumous appearance at Old School Raw (or at least his voice did). Hayes’ voice was dubbed and imitated for a series of “This show sponsored by…”

Roddy Piper (Scotland — storywise)

While Roderick G. Toombs was born and raised in Canada, his alter-ego, Roddy Piper, hails from the streets of Glasgow, Scotland. Piper is an accomplished bagpipe player and has often used played bagpipes during his entrances. Piper was the main heel during the Hulkamania era. His talk segment, while not the first, was the template for dozens that followed. Piper expanded beyond wrestling into a successful acting career. Since 2005, Piper has reduced his schedule to occasional appearances. Piper went into the Hall of Fame in 2005.

Hornswoggle (Ireland — storywise)

Dylan Postl is a 4’4″ dwarf wrestler that uses the leprechaun based gimmick of Hornswoggle. While Dylan was born in Wisconsin, Hornswoggle is billed from Ireland. Dylan did quite a bit of indy work after training himself. He worked in and around Wisconsin as “Shortstack”. He held the NWA Wisconsin X-Division title. Shortstack had also won the local tag team titles but relinquished his half when he signed on with the WWE. In May, 2006, Dylan was partnered with Finlay. He was initially just identified as Finlay’s Leprechaun. Over time, his name was changed to Little Bastard. When WWE went with a more “Family-friendly” environment, the name was changed to Hornswoggle. He was at the center of a storyline where an illegitimate son turned out to be Hornswoggle. JBL exposed the fraud and announced that Dylan was, in fact, Finlay’s son (he wasn’t, in real life). The “Father and Son” then had a year-plus run on multiple brands of the WWE product. Eventually, the two were split up by the WWE Draft. Hornswoggle then feuded with Chavo Guerrero and others. He would also be brought in as the “mascot” of D-X. Hornswoggle worked occasionally on Smackdown in the last couple years. He was made the Mentor to a returning Titus O’Neil on the NXT Redemption program.

Dynamite Kid — England

Tom Billington was very dedicated to sports during his early years in Manchester, England. He was particularly fond of gymnastics and wrestling. By his late teens, he was introduced to Ted Betley (a name that has come up multiple times in this article). Betley and several of his associates helped train Tom. Tom spent the first three years of his career in and around England. Tom would give back by being the man who trained Chris Adams to wrestle. Tom took an invitation to move to Canada in 1979 and join Stu Hart’s Stampede promotion. Besides wrestling, Tom assisted Stu in training numerous wrestlers, including Bret Hart. Dynamite also made several successful tours of Japan between 1980 and 1984. Tom would eventually bring in his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, to form a great tag team. That team was brought over to the WWF when Vince McMahon agreed to purchase Stampede (a deal that initially fell through). The British Bulldogs, despite being in so many main events, only held the WWF tag belts once. By 1988, Dynamite Kid was released after getting into a real backstage fight with Jacques Rougeau. The Bulldogs returned to Stampede after the release. They also worked in Japan and Europe. Davey Boy Smith had trademarked the “British Bulldog” name and refused to allow Dynamite to use it after they split as a team. Tom aligned with his other cousin, Johnny Smith, as the British Bruisers. Tom would eventually divorce from his first wife (Bret Hart’s sister-in-law) and move back to England. He worked the last few years of his wrestling career in Europe and Japan. By 1997, Tom was no longer able to walk and was placed in a wheelchair. His entire left leg is now paralyzed. He and his second wife, Dot, live a semi-reclusive life. Dynamite Kid has blamed his condition on the WWE, in numerous printed articles and video interviews. He also has deep seated issues with his late cousin, Davey Boy.

Desmond Wolfe — England

Steven Haworth was born in Kent, England in 1978. Steven became enamored with wrestling around the age of 12. One of his biggest thrills, as a young man, was attending Summerslam 1992. After some post-secondary work at university in England, Steven transferred to Kent State University in Ohio. There he received a degree in chemistry. After graduation, Steven began training for a career in pro wrestling under Les Thatcher. He began his ring career under the name Nigel McGuinness. Nigel was a top contender in Heartland Wrestling Association until 2003. From there, he moved over to Ring of Honor. He worked his way up to the level of World Champion. His feud with Bryan Danielson (WWE’s Daniel Bryan) was a clinic on how to stage a long-running feud. An arm injury in 2009 sidelined Nigel. While recovering, he was approached by TNA to join them. Upon entering TNA, Steven was forced to use a new identity. According to Steven, on an episode of Reaction, he looked for the most common British first name for his character and found Desmond. The surname needed to be something powerful to push his brutal style, this Wolfe. Wolfe set his sights on Kurt Angle from day one. They had an intense series of matches. From there, Wolfe worked with The British Invasion and London Brawling. For undisclosed reasons, Wolfe, Chelsea and Brutus Magnus were pulled from TNA active roster. Only recently has Wolfe started working a few house shows and indy dates.

(Brutus) Magnus — England

Nicholas Aldis was an outstanding in both tennis and swimming. Nick decided to move into bodybuilding. While working out near his home in Norfolk, he was scouted by local wrestling agents. After some talking, Nick decided to try his hand at pro wrestling. He began his wrestling career under his given name, Nick Aldis. His first match was in 2003. Over the next few years, he toured Europe, learning from as many men and women as possible. He also spent a year as one of the UK Gladiators, using the name Oblivion. That stint led to an invitation to come to the US and work for TNA. His first gimmick was a “Modern Day Gladiator”. As Brutus Magnus, he came out in something that resembles ancient Gladiator armor. After a few months of that character, Magnus was teamed with Douglas Williams and Rob Terry. The were known as The British Invasion. They would later be incorporated into the larger World Elite stable. Magnus went on a sabbatical in the Spring of 2010, only to return as the tag partner of Desmond Wolfe. They were known as London Brawling. They were on their way up the tag team divisional ladder when they were suddenly pulled off the road and off TV. The reasons for the removal were never quite clear. Magnus would later say it was for “Personal issues”, whatever that means. Magnus has been used only rarely in the last year.

“The Freak” Rob Terry — Wales

Robert Terry grew up in Swansea, Wales. He was discovered by WWE scouts during one of the European tours and offered a developmental deal in 2007. He was sent to FCW for training and served, mostly, as “Big Rob”, the bodyguard to Nick Nemeth (Dolph Ziggler). He was released from his developmental contract in August, 2008. Terry then went to the Team 3D Academy for more training. On April 30, 2009, “Big” Rob Terry made his TNA debut. He was immediately placed as the “Power Man” of the British Invasion. Terry and the other Brits would be merged into the World Elite. Terry surprised his Welsh countrymen when he took his first gold on January 27, 2010. During a house show in Cardiff, Terry beat World Elite’s leader to become the Global Champion. Terry would become the longest reigning Global champ, until dropping the belt to A.J. Styles. Soon after, Styles converted the championship to being the TV title. When Immortal emerged in TNA, Rob Terry was made a member. His first big feud was against Scott Steiner. Steiner took exception to Terry using the nickname “The Freak”. Steiner had been the “Genetic Freak” for years. Their feud is far from over. In fact, it’s just beginning to roll.

Drew McIntyre — Scotland

Andrew Galloway was born in Scotland but moved to England to train to become a pro wrestler. After his training, he returned to Scotland to compete. He was only 15 when he joined Frontier Wrestling Alliance (the same group that spawned Paul Burchill and Winter). From 2003 through 2007, he worked primarily for FWA, Irish Whip Wrestling and British Championship Wrestling. In 2006, Drew (working as Drew Galloway) received a try-out match against Sheamus. He impressed the Powers-That-Be and shortly after was offered a developmental deal. Drew relocated to Kentucky’s OVW in the summer of 2007. He was partnered with FWA alumni, Paul Burchill, to form The Empire. The team ran rough-shod over the various teams for the better part of a year. Before being moved to Florida, Drew feuded with Steve Lewington. Once in FCW, Drew immediately set his sights on the group’s top championship. He would feud with Eric Escobar and Joe Hennig (Michael McGillicutty). On August 28, 2009, Drew was brought up to the Smackdown roster. He was placed in an interesting position, being Vince McMahon’s “Chosen One”. He had a long winning streak (sometimes requiring dismissal of matches or reversal of decisions to keep it going). He would eventually win the Intercontinental title from John Morrison at 2009′s TLC Pay-per-View. Drew would be stripped of the title and fired, after repeated attacks on Matt Hardy. Vince McMahon over-ruled the decision and gave th title back to Drew. Kofi Kingston, who had won a tournament to determine the new I-C champ (after Drew was stripped), was placed against Drew for the belt. Kofi ended Drew’s streak and championship reign. Drew would partner with Cody Rhodes to form a successful tag team. They would eventually implode and Drew would set his sights on the World title. He is looking to face the winner of Edge v Alberto Del Rio, after Wrestlemania.

Lord Athol Layton — England

Born in England, Athol moved to Australia at the age of 13. Before getting into wrestling, Lord Athol was accomplished at Judo and boxing. In the early 50s, Athol migrated to Canada to accept a job working for Jack Tunney. He worked for more than 25 years in and around the Maple Leaf Gardens. He formed a tremendous tag team with fellow Australian, Lord James Blears. Lord Athol retired in 1976. He passed away from a heart attack in 1984.

“Big Daddy” Shirley Crabtree — England

Crabtree was born in West Yorkshire in 1930. His claim to fame was his amazing 64 inch chest. Crabtree worked as a coal miner and military man, before becoming a wrestler in 1952. He was trained by the legendary George Hackenschmidt. He was one of the first heels on the expanding world of televised wrestling in Europe. Big Daddy ended his wrestling career after one of his Big Splashes caused the death of wrestler “King Kong” Kirk. Crabtree had planned to do a children’s show but changed his mind, at the last minute. Big Daddy’s biggest fan was said to be former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Shirley Crabtree died from a stroke in December, 1997.

Lady Blossom — England

Jeannie Clark was a model in England when she was introduced to “Gentleman” Chris Adams. Adams trained Jeannie to be a professional wrestler/valet. They worked together in England before divorcing. Adams brought his ex-wife to the states to work. To stay in the US, Jeannie married Billy Jack Haynes. Their marriage was very short-lived. Eventually, Jeannie would be introduced to Adams’ star student, Steve Williams aka Steve Austin. When Austin moved to WCW in 1990, Jeannie was brought in to be his valet. The Lady Blossom name was, allegedly, created by Dusty Rhodes. He made the comment that “That Lady just Blossoms out of her top”. Steve and Jeannie were married in 1992. Jeannie retired from wrestling in 1991 but stayed involved with Austin until their divorce in 1999. In fact, Jeannie is credited with creating Austin’s “Stone Cold” nickname. According to Austin on various WWE DVDs, he was looking for a unique “icy-sounding” name for his character. Jeannie had made him a cup of tea and asked her then-husband “Come drink this before it goes Stone Cold”. Jeannie and her two daughters returned to England after the divorce. She also helped raise Jade Adams, her daughter with Chris Adams. Jade is married to Brit wrestler, Adam Windsor.

Douglas Williams — England

Douglas Durdle was born in the Berkshire region of England. He got his training at the Hammerlock Wrestling Academy. He also worked for Frontier Wrestling Alliance. After almost ten years, Douglas moved to the US and joined Ring of Honor. From 2002 until 2007, Williams was a key player in ROH. In 2008, Williams worked several house shows for TNA. He was then placed on Team International during the World X-Cup in 2008. He so impressed the brass in TNA, he was offered a full time contract. He joined the British Invasion, later World Elite, groups. The British Invasion won both the TNA Tag and IWFP Tag belts. The officials in Japan were offended that Brutus Magnus and Douglas Williams were scheduled to take the belts from Team 3D, without their approval. IWGP refused to accept the title change, though TNA did. After World Elite fractured, Williams moved into the X-Division. He would defeat Amazing Red for his first X-Division title. The title would be taken from him after the Iceland volcano incident stranded WIlliams in England. Frankie “Kaz” Kazarian won the held-up title but lost it to Williams, upon his return. Williams would be brought into the original Fourtune group. After losing the X-title to Jay Lethal, he was booted from the group. That led to a face turn. Williams would eventually take A.J. Styles’ TV (formerly Global) Championship. Styles was injured and unable to take advantage of his rematch clause. The challenger position was awarded to Abyss, who took the title. Williams has been rarely used in the last few months.

Steve Lewington/D.J. Gabriel — England

He earned a diploma in Aeronautical Engineering before entering professional wrestling. The Berkshire native sent in an application to Ohio Valley Wrestling for a try-out session in 2003. He was accepted and moved to Kentucky, eight months later. Steve would spend his first year in wrestling working in OVW and England’s All-Star Wrestling. He worked in England as Steve Sonic. In 2006, Steve was transferred to FCW. He took the name Jack Gabriel. Gabriel was brought up to the ECW brand in 2009. His name was adjusted to D.J. Gabriel. His character became more about dancing than wrestling. He was partnered with Alicia Fox, until she was sent to Smackdown in the 2009 Draft. Gabriel was soon sent back to FCW. Back in Florida, he became Gabriel, and later Mr. FCW. He would stay with FCW until his release in January, 2010.

George Hackenschmidt — England

Though he was born in Estonia, Georg and his family emigrated to England when Georg was a small child. He entered the wrestling business in 1986, using the adjusted George Hackenschmidt name. Due to his background, he was known as the Russian Lion. His finisher was a devastating Bearhug. He was considered the first true World CHampion of Wrestling. He was holding the European Greco-Roman championship when he added the American Heavyweight title on May 4, 1905. He held the championship for almost four years, before losing to Karl Gotch in April, 1909. Shortly before their rematch in 1911, it was alleged that Gotch paid off wrestler Ad Santel to injure George. George’s leg was badly injured during a training session with Santel, so the claim has some possible merit. George retired shortly after their rematch and shifted his focus to bodybuilding. He was considered the “Godfather of Modern Bodybuilding”. He wrote several books and taught hundreds of classes. George died in 1968.

Giant Haystacks — England

Martin Ruane was born in England to Irish parents. In his late teens, Martin took a job as a nightclub bouncer. A friend suggested that his size would make him perfect for the world of pro wrestling. He took the name Giant Haystacks as a tribute to William “Haystacks” Calhoun. He feuded around the world with “Big Daddy” Shirley Crabtree. In 1996, he was brought into WCW. He worked as Loch Ness in Kevin Sulllivan’s Dungeon of Doom. Loch Ness disappeared suddenly when Ruane was diagnosed with cancer. He returned to England to live out the final two years of his life. He passed away on November 19.998

Adam Windsor — England

Hailing from Coventry, Adam Bryniarski spent ten years (age 8 to 18) training in judo. His trainer was Neil Adams, uncle to his future wife, Jade Adams. Adam began to consider wrestling at the age of 12 and spent several years learning the basics. He would eventually enroll in Hammerlock Wrestling Academy. He fought his first match in 1998. In 1999, he moved to North America and trained at the Hart Wrestling Dungeon. Adam worked matches in WCW and WWE through 2004. He then moved to NWA Wildside. In 2009, he formed a new team with Neil Faith. They have been incredibly successful in the last two years.

Robbie Brookside — England

Robert Brooks began wrestling in the carny-like atmosphere on the Blackpool holiday camps. Brooks was originally on task to become a footballer (soccer) like his famous father. He took the surname of Brookside, so as not to be associated directly with his father. He was concerned what effect his choice to become a wrestler would have on his father’s stellar reputation. Brookside toured all over Europe before earning several try-outs in the WWE. He worked both in the ring and outside (as a trainer) until an injury in 2009 forced him to retire. A return is possible but not certain, at this time.

In Conclusion:

There are many other British-related countries that have produced great wrestlers: Australia (Lord James Blears), India (Great Khali) and New Zealand (The Sheepherders/Bushwackers). This week, I wanted to focus on the best of the best to come from one of the four islands that make up the British Isles. I tip me green derby and raise me glass of emerald non-beer to salute my homeland.


–Jay Shannon

Category: Wrestling.



  1. By Robert Brown, posted

    I would also add Billy Robinson to the list as well.

  2. By business, posted

    Lesnar is an accomplished amateur wrestler winning the 2000 NCAA heavyweight wrestling championship and placing second in 1999 losing in the …..

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