We take a quick look at the impact of wrestling legend Mick McManus, who sadly passed away this week.
Date published: 24th May 2013
In amongst the festivals, clubnights, DJ interviews and the plethora of weekend options Skiddle specialises, it may have escaped some of your attention that we also sell tickets for the wonderful world of sports entertainment, and in particular wrestling. Although primarily known these days for the muscle clad superstars on the other side of the Atlantic in the WWE, British Wrestling was once a huge part of popular culture over here. And that history has been reminded with the death of Mick McManus, at the ripe old age of 93.
Mick was one of the biggest stars and forces in the Wrestling world during a period when it was a massive element of British life. In the early sixties the union of shopkeepers tried to get the spectacle banned because they felt it was stopping women from going out to shop, and wrestling’s showpiece event on ITV, broadcast before the FA Cup Final, was said to be watched more than the football game. That’s more than the most important game of the nation’s favourite sport.
McManus was the archetypal villain, also known as a heel, and was central to the popularity of it all. Despite knowingly being fixed, the public’s love hinged on that love/hate axis between the heroes and the villains and although the good guys needed to win a lot, they couldn’t do too much otherwise there would be no suspense. And McManus’ ability to win by any means necessary stoked the hatred and ensured the balance was just right, regardless of winner. And entertainment was the victor every-time.
McManus was also integral behind the scenes as a booker and a matchmaker, selecting both the participants and the outcome of the bouts. Such was his ingenuity he even allegedly managed to out-think one of his opponents who decided to go against the script. Peter Preston failed to react to any of the punches delivered in a bout he was supposed to lose, so the wily McManus quickly got himself disqualified, denying him the outright victory he sought.
All in all his death has been a reminder of a time when the likes of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks were household names, and wrestling by British eccentrics and not brash Americans was the domineering form of entertainment across the land. That legacy still lives on in a sea of showpieces around the country, where McManus’ ability to combine athletic prowess with pantomime performance made for gripping (in more sense than one) viewing.