Ropes and Glory: The Emotional Rise of British Wrestling by Greg Lambert

August 7, 2019

A sequel to Holy Grail: The True Story of British Wrestling’s Revival, this is a worthy book, if perhaps not what readers might assume.

While the book does cover the stunning boom in British independent wrestling since the last volume ended a decade ago with the closure of the original XWA, it’s not quite a comprehensive history. Instead, as with the original, it’s more of a first-hand account based around Lambert’s continuing experiences, most notably with his own promoting work in Morecambe, his involvement with the brief revival of the FWA and the blossoming Futureshock group, and his commentary and creative work at Preston City Wrestling. Concentrating on the first-person view means that coverage of some of the most notable players in that boom such as ICW and PROGRESS is largely limited to accounts from a couple of shows Lambert attended, albeit including the Fear & Loathing show that sold out the SECC in Glasgow.

Lambert’s experiences are certainly enough to give a good flavour of the scene’s revival however, and it’s certainly engaging to be able to look back at that decade and see the events in context, particularly the increasing mainstream media attention and the first series of TNA’s British Bootcamp.

As with the first volume, perhaps the most intriguing element of the book is Lambert’s experiences with Alex Shane, this time involving Shane’s character reinvention, interest in spirituality, and work with the FWA and Challenge TV. Once again Lambert gives his own views in a well-balanced manner, but this time he includes detailed quotes from interviews he conducted with several current key players on the British scene who offer a very different perspective.

It’s no spoiler to say the book ends with the announcement of wrestling returning to ITV, something we now know has led to the first book’s stated “Holy Grail” of weekly television. Ropes & Glory serves as a detailed reminder that this success did not spring out of nothing and comes highly recommended to anyone interested in the British revival.

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