Wayne Bridges has passed away, aged 83 years old. The student of Mike Marino fit the classic British Heavyweight mould of the seventies and eighties. A touring worker who had a gifted presence and an incredible body for his era, rise to national prominence in the early eighties after taking the WWA World’s Heavyweight Championship in 1979. 

The title had a potted history having been used on big name international stars like Lou Thesz and Spiros Arion. Bridges set about giving the title presence for Joint Promotions regularly having matches on World of Sport. 

As Joint became mainly focused on Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and the super heavyweights he took the belt with him to the untelevised but lucrative All Star circuit. There he picked up his career defining feud with the return of Kendo Nagasaki. Finally retiring in 1988. 

Bridges was a gentleman heel for a large part of his run, a gimmick that owed a lot to Nick Bockwinkel and Ric Flair, but he gave it a presence that was all his own. When Mal Kirk passed away after an in ring incident, it was Bridges who defended the sport on morning TV shows. He was a spokesman and a natural athlete, seemingly biologically engineered to be World’s Heavyweight Champion. His influence is felt in the current NWA Champion Nick Aldis, who has a remarkably similar bearing on the NWA as Bridges did on All Star. 

Turning face in the late eighties, his fued with Nagasaki was the bench mark for All Star Wrestling, using much greater storyline development to cultivate house show money when the TV run of wrestling on ITV ended, his last appearance would be a tag match putting himself alongside fellow NJPW star and recently turned heel Rollerball Mark Rocco against Shane Stevens and Kendo Nagasaki. Which they won in decisive fashion with a Backdrop/Power Bomb double team that had to be seen to be believed. 

He will be sadly missed by the wrestling community in the UK and his influence now has worldwide implications. He is survived by his wife Sarah.

All images courtesy of Online World of Wrestling