How Grado Became World of Sport’s New “Big Daddy”

Hamish Woodward

When World of Sport wrestling returned to British TV for the first time in decades, the eyes of the country were on Scottish wrestler Grado.

The young star made waves across the UK, as the biggest star to come out of Scotland’s “Insane Championship Wrestling”.

At first, he struggled to get booked with the Scottish company, but a social media campaign to #GetGradoBooked saw him shoot up the rankings, and eventually become the world champion.

Grado defeated Drew McIntyre (a former WWE Champion and fellow Scot) in 2015 to win the ICW World Heavyweight Championship, to the backdrop of 4000 drunken Scots all singing along to the Madonna hit “Like a Prayer”.

His popularity earned him a chance to wrestle for ITV’s reboot of what Brits called “The Wrestling”. For 20 years, wrestling was broadcast on “World of Sport” on ITV, as the Saturday afternoon pastime soon became a fixture of British life.

Between 1965 and 1985, the likes of Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and Kendo Nagasaki battled it out in intense contests in the ring, as the Granny’s at ringside swung their handbags in anger.

The show was a huge success, with a record 20 million people tuning in to watch the hero Big Daddy take on the villainous Giant Haystacks.

Sadly, it was cancelled in 1985 and British wrestling slunk back into the shows of the mainstream. However, ITV brought it back in 2016, hoping to make Grado the next Big Daddy in the UK.

Grado Was The New Big Daddy

Grado was positioned as the top star in the new World of Sport, and was labelled by the Daily Record as “this generation’s Big Daddy”.

The Scot shares some similarities with the legendary British icon. Both men were on the larger side, although Grado is in much better shape than his predecessor.

They also both rely more on their personality and charisma, instead of wrestling ability and long, drawn-out matches.

Both Big Daddy and Grado were both beloved by their fans, who sang along with entrance music as they made their way to the win, happy to be there and ready to wrestle.

However, that is where the similarity ends. Grado makes the bulk of his money through his microphone skills, with his hilarious personality shining through and getting fans to buy tickets to the show.

He was positioned as the main star for the World of Sport reboot, which broadcast a special episode of New Year’s Eve 2016.

He wrestled three times in the show. The first match saw him being cheated out of the World Heavyweight Title, as he lost to Dave Mastiff in the opening contest.

Grado then won his first World of Sport match, winning a Battle Royal for a shot at the new World Heavyweight Champion, later that episode. This match also saw the debut of British Bulldog Jr, to a huge pop from the crowd.

Finally, in the main event, Grado defeated Mastiff by pinfall to win the WOS championship. It was a crowning moment for the Scot, who was positioned to be the champion for the show, if it was picked up for a full series by ITV.

It was, but only after two years of production hell for the promotion. By the time it returned to TV in 2018, Grado had almost retired from wrestling and was focusing more on his acting career.

In the first episode of the new series, Grado lost the title to Rampage in a quick match. Unlike in the first episode, he wouldn’t get another chance.

However, he did win more title gold. Grado teamed with British Bulldog Jr. and defeated Iestyn Rees and Kip Sabian to win the WOS Tag Team Championship.

This happened on the final episode of the show, so the pair never got to have a sustained run with the belts.

British Bulldog wrestled against Will Ospreay, early on in his career, during the World of Sport show.

The show was soon cancelled, and Grado never managed to ascend to Big Daddy-levels of popularity. He moved back into acting, only wrestling sporadically over the next few years.

He could return to the big time with AEW, with rumours he could be a part of the big All In show at Wembley Stadium. However, it looks like his time to be the next Big Daddy are over, and British wrestling will never reach those heights again.

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