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On This Day 1988: The end of wrestling coverage by ITV Sport

On this Day

On This Day 1988: The end of wrestling coverage by ITV Sport

OTD, May 20th, 1988…

ITV Sport announced on this day back in 1988 that their coverage of wrestling matches was coming to an end. The matches had been a staple of the afternoon weekend show World of Sport which provided highlights and late evening full match coverage by ITV Sport (operated by LWT). London Weekend Television programme controller Greg Dyke decided to ring the final bell on wrestling on the network.

Speaking to Simon Garfield in his book The Wrestling, Greg Dyke recalled:

“When I took over the sports in 1988, ITV was losing badly in the ratings to BBC. We were stuck in about 1955, and the world had changed, and we were too downmarket. Wrestling was clearly never a proper sport – that was part of the problem. It was unfortunate, really. Wrestling was unlucky, but it was so tarnished with the old-style look of ITV that it had to go. We got rid of a lot of the old game shows for the same reason. We started putting money into drama, stuff like that.”

In a Central News East Midlands report, Dennis Coath spoke to wrestlers Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks who gave their reaction to the decision. The item also notes that American wrestling would continue to air in the midlands on Central Television in a late-night slot. World of Sport had ended two years earlier, again a decision taken by Dyke to modernise the image of ITV.

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