Filming of an experimental Time Team/World Wresting Experience crossover show was cancelled yesterday after a fracas developed over the discovery of a medieval stone structure.
The show, designed by Channel 4 bosses to improve flagging ratings and generate interest in archaeology in young people, was supposed to show glamorous American wrestling stars excavating alongside Tony Robinson and his team at a dig in the grounds of Hereford cathedral.
Channel 4 insiders state that recording started genially enough, with the stars of the show Robinson, Mick Aston and Phil Harding seemingly unperturbed by the imposing presence of the giants of professional wrestling. Both groups enjoyed exchanges of light banter as archaeologist and wrestler alike debated suitable dig locations in the Bishop’s Gardens, based on geo-phys results taken by former bodybuilder turned World Tag Team champion, ‘Mr. USA’ Tony Atlas.
Soon a number of trenches were carefully dug, courtesy of Mick ‘The Dig’ Worthington with the assistance of The Great Khali, his impressive 7 foot 3 inches frame showing as much contempt for the earth as the pythons and Bengal tigers he is reputed to have battled in India before unleashing his talents in the ring. Trowels out, the combined teams painstakingly unearthed artefact after fragile artefact, including pottery shards, floor tiles and even a complete, though poorly preserved medieval slipper.
As filming progressed, records expert Robin Bush pored through the crumbling tomes held within the cathedral’s famous chained library before treating a number of awed wrestlers to lecture on the Mappa Mundi: the amazing medieval world map, bought out of its protective casing especially for the occasion.
It was during filming of this talk that crew members noticed that something was awry. On the fringes of the dig site, colourfully masked wrestler Rey Mysterio and comeback veteran ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin had uncovered a stone structure. ‘Mysterio was convinced that it was the remains of an earlier south transept wall.’ said a cameraman, ‘but Austin maintained that it was merely part of an outlying structure – an almshouse or somesuch.’
Tempers flared and soon the pair was grappling across the site, tumbling into trenches and scattering diggers and production crew alike. According to witnesses Phil Harding’s trademark hat was sent flying as he was knocked over, whilst Mick and Tony were badly bruised as they vainly tried to pull the wrestlers apart., But they were unable to budge these battling warriors, who by now were getting perilously close to the priceless Mappa Mundi.
‘I heard Robin shouting ‘please, someone stop them! Oh my god the map!” said the Bishop of Hereford who was looking on aghast. ‘If Mysterio had used his trademark West Coast Pop at this point, Austin would have been sent spinning straight through the fragile sheet of velum and our priceless map would have been in tatters.’ Luckily, one quick-thinking member of the Time Team crew, historian Guy de la Bédoyère, stepped in just in time. ‘All seemed lost, but suddenly, from out of nowhere, up pops Guy who, quick as a flash, twats both of them across the head with a shovel.’
Sadly by the time these wrestling titans had been subdued, time was rapidly running out and with light failing it was decided to abandon filming. Archaeologically the experiment was a failure; however Channel 4 producers are unrepentant. ‘It made bloody good television.’ said a spokesman. In fact other channels have already started to sit up and take notice, with rumours that BBC1 has already filmed a pilot episode of ‘Songs of Praise East/West Coast Rap Wars’ at Salisbury Cathedral with Aled Jones and gangster rapper Krazee-Eyez Killah.
(Written 4 Mar 2009)