When Wigan's own British Bulldog ruled the world
Wembley has always been synonymous with Wigan, with our football and rugby league teams gracing the national stadium many times over the years – and usually bringing home the silverware.
But 30 years ago this week, it was all about one man...Wigan's own British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith...who made headlines worldwide with his heroics at WWF's annual ‘SummerSlam’ jamboree.
It was the first time the WWF had held one of their marquee events outside North America.
But such was the Bulldog's popularity, more than 80,000 tickets were snapped up in a matter of minutes.
And they were treated to one of the greatest matches of all-time, with the Bulldog eventually pinning Bret 'Hitman' Hart - his brother in law - to close the show in style.
The two warriors were then joined in the ring by Diana, Davey's wife and Bret's sister, for an emotional embrace.
And three decades later, the match is still spoken about in awe by those of us lucky to have been there, as well as those who watched at home on television.
Sadly, the Bulldog died in 2002, aged just 39.
But his legacy lives on, and is the centre-point of a new book, which chronicles the lives of Davey and cousin Tom 'Dynamite Kid' Billington, who became arguably the greatest tag team the world has ever seen, and pioneers for so many wrestling legends who followed and copied them.
"Tom Billington changed wrestling forever, as much as any other single individual that can be named," said Steven Bell, author of 'Dynamite and Davey - the explosive story of the British Bulldogs'. "Certainly, from the 'in-ring' perspective, anyway.
"His style, which Davey followed in and shared, would be used as the blueprint and the yardstick for all smaller wrestlers.
"The fact so many main events, grossing untold millions, have been main evented by smaller men, and subsequently women, is hugely down to the glass ceilings shattered by Tom.
"Together, as a tag-team, they re-defined what tag-team wrestling was into what it now is.
"They did this initially in Japan, where they gained a cult following that left them as the hottest wrestling prospect in the world.
"Davey will forever be the poster boy for the pop culture phenomenon that was the WWF here in the UK in the 1990s.
"So many of the swathes of British wrestlers that have followed and become stars name Davey Boy Smith as a huge influence."
During his research for the book, Bell admits he was taken aback by the level of love and respect there remains for Smith and Billington, who died in 2018 aged 60.
"Part of my desire to write the book was borne out of my own fandom, and that I believed their story was being forgotten here in the UK," he said.
"The love, and even more so the respect, for Tom and Davey is truly inspiring.
"One of the main inspirations for the book was to rejuvenate their lapsing legacies back here in the UK.
"I know there was/is a campaign to get Davey Boy on the 'Wigan Walk of Fame' posthumously, but I’d really like to see them both recognised with something like that."
The story also underlines just how important and influential the town of Wigan has been in the wrestling world.
"I was surprised when I first heard it," admits Yorkshireman Bell. "But once you know the history, it’s unforgettable.
“'Catch-as-Catch-Can' wrestling originated in and around the coal mines of Lancashire, Billy Riley built 'The Snake Pit' gym and a plethora of stars were trained, who subsequently travelled the world spreading the gospel, and the 'Wigan Style' is a huge part of the product we see globally to this day."
Sadly, the stories of both Davey and Dynamite ended in tragedy, after years of prescription drug and excess alcohol use - as a direct result of their nightly desperation to get in the ring to put on a show - took its toll.
Bell says it was an inevitable consequence of an unforgiving industry and their tough backgrounds, which made them put their bodies well above and well beyond the pain barrier.
"It was completely down to that," he said. "It’s so odd and even surreal...they were simultaneously in the right-place-at-the-right-time and the wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time.
"They had no idea when they broke into the business in the 1970s, as skinny young lads in British wrestling, that they would follow the path they did.
"Moreover, they wouldn’t have dreamed that (WWF owner) Vince McMahon would turn it into the billion-dollar business he did.
"They were there in their prime to take advantage of that, but it was a cocktail for disaster.
"These young stars were lavished with money and a lifestyle of excess, the pressures on their bodies led to painkiller and alcohol abuse.
"The business was largely unregulated, and they were firmly in a generation that paid a heavy price for that.
"Theirs are two of so many cautionary tales that ultimately led to much needed change."
Their stars may have shone all too briefly.
But the legacy they left will live on forever...two Wigan heroes who changed wrestling - and the world - forever.
Indeed, Davey's son, Harry, followed in his footsteps to become a WWF superstar in his own right.
His other child, Georgia, has been a relentless force in pushing for more recognition for her father's achievements, which led to him deservedly being named in the WWF's 'Hall of Fame' last year.
Gone...but absolutely not forgotten, especially in these parts.