The Jackie Polo And Lionheart Saga – Fear And Loathing 11 MAIN EVENT Preview

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Some people will tell you the best stories are true stories. A true story gives you the chance to empathise with the characters, a feeling that if it can happen in their lives, it can happen in yours just as easily. Some will tell you the more outlandish the story the better and that fiction is the best form of storytelling. Escapism. Where we can create other universes, superheroes, aliens, even the lord god himself can exist in the land of fiction. For me, a combination of the two is perfection and that’s why wrestling exists. For people who like their reality to not be all that real…but they want it to be at least a wee bit real at the same time. They want it to feel authentic. They want the two people staring each other down in the middle of that ring to look like they want to murder each other. They want it to be Jackie Polo vs Lionheart.

The first time around I have absolutely no doubt they legitimately hated one and other on a personal level. Hate is a strong word but it’s not used without basis here. There was no mutual respect. No secret friendship. Nothing resembling a relationship of any kind except perhaps co-workers. When Lionheart broke his neck a rivalry based on mutual dislike became a rivalry based on white-hot hatred. Real heat. “Another retirement looms” might seem like three simple, almost innocuous words but the timing of it lit the feud on fire. Pals of Lionheart absolutely fuming with what was deemed to be Jackie Polo making light of something life altering and potentially career ending. Did Polo flinch for a second? Did he fuck. The reason for that is simple. Jackie Polo is the best character in the UK today. When it comes to being absolutely 100% committed to whatever he’s doing in wrestling, there is simply no one better. He knew what he was doing when he tweeted that and didn’t regret it for a second. Why would he? You were supposed to hate him and if you think what he tweeted crossed a line? Good. Use that hate and boo that ears clean off him the next time you see him live. When he’s a villain there’s few who come close to doing it the way he does.

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He will ignore you when you ask for a photo outside the venue. He will chuck your autograph book in a puddle and watch as your treasured memories become soggy scribbles. As part of Polo Promotions when they were baddies they were bad, they used dirty tricks, anything it might take to get the job done and when the crowd started to go with them? He chucked himself right in to that as well. If you ever wanted a photo or even an interview (hint, hint) with him, that was your chance. His character was a fan favourite so you got that with all the bells and whistles. The teletubbies dancing, high fiving, ice cream tanning, scooptastic, all singing, all dancing Jackie Polo and when that was over and CAPTAIN JAAAAACK came back, he had to find a way to make them hate him again. Too many were still cheering. Still loyal to the scoop. He had to become something else.

While all that was happening, Lionheart was picking himself off the floor. Stunned by his comeback from a career threatening injury being met with, to tell the absolute truth, indifference. The crowd weren’t with him. As much as I’m sure everyone was happy to see him back doing what he loves doing, it wasn’t enough to get them to throw their backing behind him, and it crushed him. Not Lionheart the wrestler, Adrian McCallum the human being was dumbfounded by it. How could this be? How could they possibly prefer the guy who had based a lot of his career around winding folk up as much as possible? What did he have to do to get them to love him? Break a few limbs as well? Lose an eye? A baw? What would it take. Truth be told nothing he could have overcome to make it to that match would have been enough. Once the audience have made their minds up, there’s little you can do to change that and even if it wasn’t a landslide, Polo had them that night. They wanted him to win and when he did, they revelled in it much like Jackie did himself. It was time for Lionheart to become something else. In wrestling if you can’t adapt, you can’t have a career at this. It’s as simple as that. Things change, opinions change, and when they do? You have to change. They didn’t want to cheer? Ok then. Make them boo as much as possible instead. Make them belligerently thrust the middle fingers in your face like Austin in the late 90s. Make them hate ye. Make them care.

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While Lionheart was becoming the “fanny” who ruled the Zero-G Division, Polo was happily dominating the tag division alongside his best pal Mark Coffey. After that first match, there was two chances of Jackie Polo and Lionheart ever meeting again. Nane and fuck all. It just wasn’t on the cards. They were happy to do their own thing entirely separate from one and other until things changed again. Suddenly over the course of his feud with Joe Hendry, the crowd started to back Lionheart. Who knows what made it turn, maybe it was a simple as the performances he was putting on in the ring, maybe he was just giving off that energy that wrestling fans cling to. That energy that makes you believe this and this alone is what that wrestler lives for. This company, this title, these fans. He suddenly became the guy who he wanted to be that night at the Barrowlands a few years earlier when he hit rock bottom at the sharp end of Jackie Polo’s boot. You’d think a neck break would be the lowest of the low when it comes to reflecting on your career to date, but to me anyway, that night was even worse for Lionheart. They rejected him and it hurt. He was defeated and it hurt. Then it was suddenly on the cards again. Almost from nowhere. Standing face to face in the middle of the ring during the 2018 Square Go you felt it. This wasn’t just a wee throwback scrap. No nostalgia at play here. This was it. It was on once more. It was only a matter of time until they would meet again.

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Polo tried his absolute best to become the bastard he once was and continually resisted the match. Even breaking out a wee fake retirement to kick it all off. They still weren’t having it. Polo Promotions for life. There’s a charisma about the guy that once you really see it, its hard to unsee it and suspend your disbelief to dislike him. Its something I’ve never personally found possible. Even through the never-ending This Is Your Life segment, and the pacing slowly up and down the ring in Edinburgh just to see how long folk would keep reacting to it, and even the Hillsborough reference when ICW debuted in Liverpool, you can’t take your eyes off it when he’s on his game. Once you start appreciating his work you can’t suddenly unappreciate it. A true villain and a master at getting a crowd to care about what he’s involved.. Even if the thing they care about is his untimely death. The sequel came around. Barramania 4. A full 3 years since they first sold out that venue with just their match announced. It was happening again, Polo finally signed on the dotted line and we were finally getting the sequel. This time the crowd were split down the middle I’d say. Lionheart no longer considered the perennial fanny by most, even some Polo fans must have at least had a grudging respect for how he turned it all around and with that we just had a rip roaring screamer of a match. The match of the year so far in ICW but what made it so good was that sense of desperation in Lionheart. He NEEDED that win, whereas Jackie Polo was sure he was getting it no matter what.

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On that night self-assurance trumped desperation. Jackie Polo won once again and a crestfallen Lionheart was left considering if he’d made the right decision to get back in the ring with a man who just seems to always get the better of him. His bogey team. A guy who had taken up residence in Lionhearts conscience and was showing nae signs of giving up that lease anytime soon. Lionheart chucked it after that. He was done. Another retirement was less of a looming possibility and more of a certainty until one almighty slap from Sha Samuels woke him up. This wasn’t over yet. Not by a long shot.

When Jackie Polo emerged at The Barrowlands as “Just Justice” Jackie Polo it must have been disorienting. Even a wee bit funny. What was he uptae? What was his game with this patter? His game was simple. Get them to hate ye again. The perfect opportunity popped up at Shoogs Hoose Party a few months later when DCT stunned the world and became the ICW World Champion. An unthinkable rise from being the guy taken under Polo’s wing a few years earlier to join Polo Promotions, to being the first one from that stable to earn the right to call themselves champ. But first on that very same weekender came act three. A generous offer from ICW promoter Mark Dallas had ol Just Justice signing on the dotted line for Lionheart vs Polo 3 and when Lionheart was finally convinced to give overcoming his greatest foe one more shot, the seed was truly planted for what’s to come this Sunday. This time it wasn’t desperation fuelling Lionheart, it was a sense of injustice. A sense that he’d let Jackie Polo win the mind games for too long and on this night he would not be beaten. Even if Jackie pulled a shotgun out his trunks and blew Lionhearts head clean off, he was still getting his hand raised at the end of that match.

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It was another blistering encounter and confirmation that despite their deep-seated disdain for each other that they had chemistry in the ring. Neither of them probably wanted to admit that to themselves or each other when they first locked horns, but things change. They probably didn’t hate each other on a personal level quite as much as they did back then (although I sincerely doubt you’ll see them out for a beer together anytime soon) and it was another match that was captivating from the very start. Could Polo do the unthinkable and hand Lionheart a defeat that would be impossible to come back from? The very possibility of it had everyone transfixed. Every near fall. Every time Polo hit a big time move and Lionheart somehow got the shoulder up there was gasps. A growing feeling that this was finally HIS night. Low and behold it was. Even the very move that broke his neck wasn’t enough to put him away that night. When that final frog splash landed and the referee counted the three it was a release. It was redemption. Finally he’d proved that he was at the very least capable of beating Jackie Polo. Something he and many others have doubted at various points in this saga. Did he have it in him to block out that wee voice telling him he cant do it. Did he have in him to block out his opponent telling him he can’t do it? The answer was yes.

With newfound belief, Lionheart immediately stated that he was coming from the Grand Slam at The Hydro. The ICW Title being the only major title in Scotland he has never held (besides the one in the promotion he promotes himself) and a title he has come within bawhairs of holding on many an occasion, he wasn’t up for settling for a spot in a multi man stramash or a feud against a younger talent where he made them look dynamite as he done often in his Zero-G Title run, he wanted the glory. He wanted that shiny belt and DCT would be the man who he’d have to overcome to finally reach his destiny. Until it all changed….again.

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No one was really sure what kind of character Just Justice was at that point. There was humour to his character, and no shortage of patter in that impeccable Southern accent. There was no longer any doubt as to which side of the hero/villain divide he leaned towards that night at The Garage, when DCT’s title defence against Bram descended into chaos, ol Just Justice made his way from his position on commentary that night to seemingly jump to his pal and former stablemate’s aid. Or did he? Instead he tore his pals world apart. Took his trusted mentor and manager Coach Trip and summoned him to stand by his side as he picked his old mucker apart. Leaving us in no doubt as to who would be answering DCT’s open Title challenge at the next show. Jackie Polo smelled blood and not only that, he smelled gold.

In his mind that title was going home with him and its that unwavering self belief that makes you either love or hate Jackie Polo. When he squeezed the life out of DCT with a side headlock to the point that he just couldn’t go on, he had won the companies biggest prize with something so simple it was perfect. Even Jackie Polo diehards didn’t know how to react as he unleashed a merciless beating on DCT after the match before almost dismissing the title and leaving through the crowd. No fanfare. No parties. No hugging his most loyal fans and blowing a kiss to the Mrs. None of that. Outlaws don’t play that shit. Outlaws take what they want and move on to the next one. In the company where the majority of the fans would at one time face the opposite direction whenever he appeared, he was now the man, and he’d cut down one of his most trusted allies to do it. If he’s willing to do that to his pal to take the title, think what he might be willing to do to someone he fucking hates to keep a hold of it, especially when the match takes centre stage at a beautiful big building like The Hydro.

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Lionheart’s career is on the line and he finally has the opportunity he’s always wanted against a man he’s always wanted to gain the upper hand over. All the pieces seemed to be falling in to place nicely for him to be crowned the main man, but wrestling is never that simple. “Just Justice” Jackie Polo may have taken a loss to Lionheart at Shoogs Hoose Party but Lionheart had never beaten Jackie Polo. He’s never beaten the man who’d get drunk every night and talk about virility with some old grandmamma decked out like a christmas tree. He’d beaten JJJP, but he’d never beaten “JAAAAAAAAAACKIE POOOOOOOLO!” the most vicious, ruthless, unapologetic bastard on the roster and a guy who could not give a fuck about your reputation or what this means to you, only what it means to HIM and all this means to him is hanging on to that gold and finally putting the Lion down for good. On paper Lionhearts motivation may be seen as greater the Jackie Polo’s. Not only does he win the title he’s always coveted, he keeps his career alive, and technically levels their personal score at 2-2, but when Jackie Polo took the hat and jacket off, dropped the accent, and subsequently dropped Lionheart like a sack of totties at the last Garage show you saw the rebirth of Jackie Polo. You saw someone who couldn’t give anything even resembling a fuck if Lionheart’s career ends this Sunday. The only thing he cares about is leaving a stunned Hydro STILL the ICW World Heavyweight Champion.

That’s what makes this, for my money anyway, the biggest main event in the history of the company. Simply because this feud has meant so much over so many years and even when it wasn’t actively happening you always felt it there. Under the surface. Ready to explode at any time. What better place for it to explode than at the biggest show of the year, in the main event, all eyes on them.

Thanks as always to David J.Wilson for the photos

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ICW Fear And Loathing 11 Preview – AT THE HYDRO

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What happens when brothers go to war? What happens when two tag teams who just about murdered each other a few months ago get another chance to murder each other? What happens when SIX tag teams most likely DO murder each other in a mad TLC stramash? What happens when you need make a choice between a the king of Benidorm and his jetsettin back elba-in former best pal? What happens when 3 of Scotlands finest exports take on 3 ‘big strong bois’ with even bigger reputations? What happens when the boss sends in the prestigious one to end a legends career? What happens when two of the finest female wrestlers on this planet fight for the right to be queen? What happens when a man will do ANYTHING to get his sink back (again) ? What happens when when a returning hero goes to war with an unhinged cowboy? What happens when one of the very best feuds this country has ever seen finally comes to an end with the companies biggest prize on the line? What happens when you throw all that in the melting pot, mix it up real nice, and pour in to a big fucker of a building? You get the strongest card ICW have ever ran (in my opinion) at The Hydro. A stone cold stoater of a show that you should make a point of being at.

Grado vs James Storm – Jeff Jarret Special Guest Referee

It was weird last year without him eh? A great show but just not the very best an ICW show can be, simply because he wasn’t there. Grado doesn’t make ICW on his own, but when he’s firing, at his brilliant, charismatic, passionate best, he makes it unique. A place where wrestling isn’t the same as all yer other big time “indy” companies. No disrespect to anyone but it feels like ICW have made a real effort to set themselves apart again this year and inject that passion in to what happens in the ring. That wee bit of humour. Seeing Grado back at his vibrant best has been a pleasure but not as much as a pleasure as it’ll be seeing him leather James Storm aw err that Hydro. He’s been cuttin about bottling folk and being a vicious bastard for too long now and he’s unleashed the beast. No Brock Lesnar, but ICWs version of Grado. The guy who usurped Drew Galloway in front of 4 thousand folk at the SECC. The guy who has took numerous scuddings off a plethora of big, angry, bulldug chewin a wasp faced bastards and kept on coming back for more. Doesn’t do him any harm that the ref is his best pal but there’s always some scope for that to change. One guitar shot could shock the world. I don’t see it, but if Shawn Michaels can throw Marty Jannetty through a windae, anything’s possible.

Prediction – Several cowboy hats

Aaron Echo vs Kenny Williams

It’s a shame this hasn’t had as much build between the two guys as it could have but hats off to Kenny. Opportunities are there to make this wrestling thing a full time gig and he’s taking them and making the very most of them. Also hat’s off to both Aaron Echo and Red Lightning for building this well in Kennys absence. Red has been brilliant on the mic and has lit a fire in Aaron Echo. A fire that will be aimed squarely at his former best pals jaw. Massive opportunity for Echo to have an outstanding singles match on such a huge stage and I think he’ll take it and this one will be a barn burnin belter. Kenny is undefeated at Fear and Loathing so the weight of an Aaron Echo win and what it would mean going forward shouldn’t be underestimated.

Prediction – Flying back elba’s and lots of them my friend

The Kinky Party (c) vs Alpha/Evil (Iestyn Rees and Bram)

Thought this match on the Shug’s weekender was a standout, one of the matches of the weekend easily. Folk go on about various tag teams across the UK and I get it. They do the big eye-catching double team stuff and folk love it. It’s a certain style and can be great to watch. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with it all happening at a slower, more violent pace. It’s all storytelling and they told an outstanding story between the four of them on that occasion. A story told through two absolute monsters trying to viciously beat the humour out of two ICW legends having the absolute time of their lives together. It wasn’t the time for a laugh in Bram and Iestyns minds and The Kinky Party quickly got that All the laughs, the crowdsurfing, the patter was nowhere to be seen. They just left that match thankful to still be champions and I imagine it’ll be the same again if they can overcome Bram and Iestyn once more. No matter what they’ll push each other the limit once again.

Prediction – Plenty of beer after the 1,2,3

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The Briscoes vs The Fite Network vs Haskins and Havoc vs The Kings Of Catch vs The Purge vs P.O.D

Hard to preview a match with so many moving parts. If we’re going by momentum then Kings Of Catch have to be the favourites but the competition is….well…..some would say fierce. I’d personally say “certifiably insane” would be more apt, but aye. Some scary bastards. The Briscoes might have some rotten personal opinions and about 3 and a half teeth between them but they are an outstanding tag team and a couple of dudes who thrive in amongst chaos. Rampage and Ashton were so impressive in their short reign as tag champions and are about as dangerous a tag team as you’ll get in the UK. Haskins and Havoc absolutely slayed it with The Kings Of Catch the last time they were up here and are two of the most talented guys out there. The Purge are on a decent run of form after a dodgy patch with the odd domestic dispute thrown in and do not fuckin sleep on ma boys Lou King and Krieger. If its entertainment you’re after on the Scottish scene, they’re yer main boys but their abilities as a tag team should not be undersold. PBW tag champs for…well forever seemingly, and a team that know how to get the job done. It’ll be a big messy affair that’ll no doubt go all over the Hydro but its hard to look past The Kings Of Catch despite the stiff competition. They have the crowd with and rightly so after a year of turning in tremendous performances.

Prediction – Jay Briscoe walks under 40 sets of ladders and lives the rest of his life standing in dug shite, looking at his shoe and going “fuck sake” 

Viper vs Kay Lee Ray – Queen Of Insanity Match For The ICW Womens Title

This could quite easily main event this, or any show in Europe. Two of the finest talents in the world, colliding in an environment where there’s no rules. Nothing technically stopping them from killing each other (apart from being best pals n that but kayfabe m8…sshhhh) and the title on the line. The build for it has been perfect and has largely kept them away from each other in terms of matches aside from that hilarious 6 person tag at the Glasgow Uni show, but still very much had them in each others faces on the mic, and in physical confrontations. That scrap they had at The Garage was one of the best segments on the show and it wasn’t even a match. It was just two women brutalising each other for the sake of that shiny belt and the right to be called “Queen Of Insanity” . Will Kay Lee join King Stevie and make their future wedding a bit more royal or will Viper add the Queen Of Insanity to her growing list of accolades?

Prediction – Bloody women!

Mikey Whiplash vs Joe Hendry

Joe Hendry is one victory away from finally grabbing the brass ring. Dallas finally on side, and charged with the task of vanquishing his newest enemy, he wins this and he gets all the silver. The troublesome thing about that is he’s going at it with a guy who’s stopped giving a fuck. When you’re directly going head to head with the boss and defying his orders, you’ve officially stopped giving anything resembling a fuck. Especially when you’re too good at your job to sack, so instead Dallas is sending Joe Hendry in to end Mikey Whiplashes career. I think this will be Joe’s best ICW match and could sneak and in and steal the show. Especially if Kieran Kelly and Leyton Buzzard have a part to play which I suspect they will after they tear the roof off The Garage the night before.

Prediction – Joe Hendry sharpens the top of Leyton Buzzards dome and launches him at Whiplash like a dart

Wolfgang, Noam Dar and BT Gunn vs British Strong Style 

Couldn’t give a monkeys about that half sleeping promo the big strong boisies cut about how Scottish Wrestling is pish or whatever the fuck it was meant to be saying. You’re all great wrestlers and that guys, Pete Dunne arguably one of the very best in the world right now, but that was some phoned in nonsense and the IYT (ICDUB YUNG TEAM) are coming to ram they tired sounding words down your complacent throats. Wolfgang and BT Gunn joined together once more for the common good and throw a slice of NOAM FUCKIN DAR on top and its the very definition of a dream team. BT Gunn was the man at The Hydro last year and has had a tremendous couple of years wrestling at the very highest level in ICW, and Wolfgang could have a decent match with a mop pail (literally) so It can’t fail to be a good match really, 6 of the very best the UK has produced in the one match, but hopefully BSS give us a bit more in the ring than they did in that promo. Hashtag save Scottish Wrestling…or whatever

Prediction – Noam comes out, we all have a wee cry…or maybe just I have a wee cry

Mark Coffey (c) vs Joe Coffey – ICW Zero-G Championship Match

This needs no words but I’ll type some anyway. A match I personally wanted to see from the first moment I saw them both wrestle. A match we have seen in some family companies but with the greatest of respects to them, it needs a stage like this to be at its very best. It needs a stage like this for that contrast in styles to set the world alight. Not to hype it up too much or anything, but its going to be fucking terrific. I’d put my house on that. It’s for a title but even without that at stake, it would still be a highlight. Another match very much worthy of the main event spot and if a match of such significance wasn’t taking place for the ICW Title I suspect that’s where it would have wound up, giving Joe Coffey The Hydro main event hat-trick. Very hard one to call. Impossible really. All I can really say for sure is that they’ll hit each other really hard and it’ll be a treat for anyone lucky enough to see it

Prediction – Their maw giving them a right good telling aff for fighting

Jackie Polo (c) vs Lionheart – ICW World Championship Match

I’m planning on writing an article about this rivalry tomorrow so I’ll keep it relatively short here. It’s a monumental match. One of the biggest main events in the company’s history. Simple as that. No rivalry has had as much bitterness as this one has. No rivalry has had as much genuine hatred as this one has. No rivalry has ever felt as authentic as this one has. Their first match was really just two guys who fuckin hated each others guts trying to stop themselves having a real life fist fight and the end result was…..well, we’ve all seen it, but the two matches this year? Two absolute stormers from two men at the very top of their game. Performances that earned them this spot at the very top of the card. Performances that will see this match go down in ICW history no matter how it ends. Even if it means another retirement looms, or you’re saying Lionhearts name after he makes history.

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Prediction – CAPTAIN JACK is back

Have a great time no matter what. That’s what the wrestling is for and we have a smashing weekend of it coming up starting off with The Secret Show at The Asylum tomorrow night. It’s a smashing card from top to bottom and the fact that it’s almost become the norm for ICW to run this massive building is absurd. Help them fill it up and buy tickets.

https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/icw-fear-loathing-xi-glasgow-02-12-2018/event/3600549BDD333A82

BONUS CONTENT – LIAM THOMSON VS KID FITE – SINK OR….WELL SINK

Nae way on this earth this sink situation doesn’t get its conclusion at The Hydro in some way or another. Even if it’s not an official match, you’ll see them in that building somewhere and that sink will be central to any/all shenanigans that may be afoot. Liam Thomson has been faultless since his return and Kid Fite hasn’t missed a Fear and Loathing in ICW’s history so you’ll see them and it’ll no doubt be fuckin’ great.

Insert real conclusion here….wrestling n that. Thanks to David Wilson for the photos as per. 

 

 

 

An Interview With Jack Jester Part Two – Battles With Drew, No Kinky No Party and The Black Label B*****d

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READ PART ONE HERE. ITS REALLY GOOD

After 8 or 9 graft ridden months as ICW Champion all of a sudden the opportunity of a lifetime was placed in front of Jester. Maybe even TWO opportunities of a lifetime, with the impossible choice of having to pick just one of them. Either make up for time lost and spend as much time with his recently released WWE superstar best pal Drew Galloway as possible after years of scarcely seeing him more than twice a year, OR pretend you hate the big beautiful bastard to the point that not only the people watching believe it, YOU actually believe it. Selling out one of Glasgow’s most iconic venues in the process as you go on to share a career defining achievement and match with a pal who wasn’t going to feel like a pal for a while.

“I knew he was coming back but the majority didn’t. It’s hard to keep a secret these days with the internet etc. This has always kinda happened with me and Drew, we’ve been mates since we started training. I moved to Ayr and we were best mates, then suddenly he gets signed so you go from that to seeing him twice a year when he’s over for tours. So this was really the first opportunity we’d had in years to really be pals again, but we couldn’t. He arrived home a week before the show and hid out in his house, because all it would have taken was for one person to see him in Ayr and connect the dots that he was coming to ICW. So he came in the back door and he was kept downstairs because we wanted it to be a legit shock. Renfrew hits out with the “you’ve got no friends left” line, lights go down, lights come back on, there he is. They still didn’t react until his hood came down and even then they can’t believe it. Why is it allowed? Isn’t there the 90 day no compete clause? Then the earth shattering genuine reaction came. People bursting into tears and all that. It was massive. Anytime a moment like that happens and it’s so massive for the company its hard to take it all in. To see Drew standing there with that fire in his eyes with that reaction along with it. It was amazing.”

Even if your friend is living the dream, if it turns into a nightmare for them personally it must be difficult to see. Drew knew he had so much more in him than the bits and pieces he was being allowed to display in WWE and his release was more of a relief than a letdown. An opportunity to make memories and show them why they signed him in the first place. The perfect person to work with was of course the current ICW Champion. The guy who had been at the top end of the company for the better part of a year and the guy who also happened to be that same best pal who had been in your corner all these years.

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“I knew Drew hadn’t been happy for years and I was always kinda his conscience in that respect. Reminding him that as bad as he felt about his spot that he was still earning good money and getting to be a full-time pro wrestler with the biggest company in the world. I know you’re hating doing what you’re doing, but you’re at RAW tonight, while we’re doing the same thing but in community centres and all that. I wasn’t trying to make him feel shite about not appreciating it, it was more to try to perk him up and make him realise that as bad as he felt, he was still in a great position. So to see him come back the way he did, and the way he was standing there. With that intensity. He cared. It poured out of him”

drewAs much of a heart racing, blood pumper of a moment that undoubtedly was, after the better part of the year leading the company as a fan favourite, Jester found himself on the sare end of people just being plain mesmerised by seeing Drew at all. So mesmerised they paid little attention to their stricken champion. Who had just wrestled a top quality talent in Martin Stone, before taking a doing from the NAK as Chris Renfrew attempted to cash in his Square Go briefcase, before the third and final absolute sickener. His returning best pal who saved him from being a lamb to the slaughter as Renfrew waltzed to the ICW Title, immediately turned on him and left him in no doubt as to why he wanted the ICW Title to remain with Jack Jester. Drew wanted to take it for himself. He was willing to break a guy who had once considered a brother to make the impact he needed to make on the wrestling world. It was pain that Jester used to fuel the pair of them on the road to what was at the time the biggest match in Scottish wrestling history.

“That show bothered me for a long time, I’ll no lie, when he came back and then he turned on me and tossed me off the stage through the table, they were still chanting for him. I remember lying there and feeling hurt. It sent me into a bit of a headspin and I was gutted that they didn’t really seem to care. Just pure self-pity. That’s all it was. I know now they were reacting to Drew and still taken aback by the fact he was there at all, but honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened. Then we had to make them hate him. We built it from there. It had to feel real. Me and Drew weren’t pals for that period. We didn’t see each other. The only thing I said to him was, until this payoff happens, you can’t be my pal. I need you to upset, and vice versa. If I don’t believe in it? How are you supposed to get the fans to believe in it? It had to look as real as possible. We’ll be pals after but until then we cant be.”

“He was constantly doing things to upset me, I was doing the same, we were never telling each other what we were going to say, then we done the angle in the pub, where he was doing the speaking thing was Billy (Kirkwood)and I showed up. He says any other questions and I think I mentioned his Dad, and he just flipped. I fell and cut and my heid open. Dallas flipped over the table and cut his arse on a glass *laughs* and in the end he’s raging, standing over me going “I know where you live! I’m gonnae fuckin stab you!” I was like…thats not Drew. That’s not the kind of person he is. I’m outside kicking off with Dallas. You know why you’re doing it but we were so caught up in it at that time it felt real. ”

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The major string to the bow that came from the whole emotionally draining affair was the fact that when it was all said and done, two best pals could look back with fondness on that time they sold out The Barrowlands as the ONLY match announced for a fucking pro wrestling show run by a Glasgow based company. Unthinkable just a few short years earlier. A motivated Drew Galloway helped the company go to the next level and that feud was something special.  Having a figurehead like Drew made everyone involved with the company up their game, and considering the fact that their game was already wielding 1000+ crowds and notoriety, the only thing to do was go bigger. There’s no doubt that Barrowlands match was a pivotal point in that growth as Jester had the title ripped from his grasp in front of a red-hot crowd. A landmark moment in ICW and British wrestling in general and a moment that meant a lot to Jester in particular because without The Barrowlands, he might not exist at all.

“Selling out the Barrowlands is a career highlight. An absolute dream. My granny and Granda met there. I remember them telling me stories about it. My granda telling me they couldn’t afford hair gel, so he would put margarine in his hair. All the guys would be combing their hair in front of the lassies, then you’d flick your comb to get all the margarine off it into the gutter. There was a guy who used to play clarinet and everyone used to get up and dance. There would be a point in the night where everything would stop and a few folk would get brought up on to the stage, and there was all these wee doors, and you’d pick a number and whatever was behind that door you’d get to keep. Stuff like tickets for things, silverwear and china sets. Stuff like that. My granny choose a number and it was a toilet roll *laughs*. That’s in the Peoples Palace funnily enough now, the thing with the doors. So without that venue, they would never have met, and I’d never be here.”

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“Now we’re in the same hall wrestling. I let it get to me. As far as ICW running it goes, that’s a Glasgow institution. The Barrowlands is. There isn’t another venue more Glaswegian. The people who have performed there. Bowie etc. Its like nothing else. Even if you go down to where ICW’s merch stand is, and you got to cloakrooms and its all individual coat hooks. Even the toilets, it’s the same ceramic urinals and that’s all cracked and smells ah pish *laughs* Up stairs you’ve got a pasting table at the side where you can get cans of lager. I don’t think there’s any need for them to be selling cans at a pasting table really but that’s what the Barrowlands is. That’s the way people like it. It’s the wan place in the world you don’t want a cold beer.”

The venue sold out well in advance before anything other than Jack Jester vs Drew Galloway was announced. That’s how much it meant. At that time, there was nothing bigger in British wrestling and they told a story that few other duo’s in the UK could replicate. Less a wrestling feud, more two brothers having a stoater of a fall out. Proper chucking auld pool cues and fitba boots at him type of stuff. There was only one way to resolve it, and that was in front of 1,200 sweaty Glaswegians in Glasgow’s most iconic venue.

“I’ll never forget Duncan messaging me and asking me “how does it feel to have sold out the Barrowlands. Only me and Drews match was announced and we’d sold out a month in advance. If you ask Drew, at the time he called it his greatest achievement. This is someone who’d done Wrestlemania, but personally that topped it. Coming back to the company after all that time and achieving something with his best pal in a venue that meant so much. I remember travelling there that day and the emotion of the day just getting the better of me. A song came on and I honestly felt like I was going to burst into tears. It was a mixture of everything.”jeDrew

“Even at that, we didn’t do the big plan for the match, because I couldn’t look at him. We’d gone too far at that point. We had no interest in helping each other. Drew’s dad was in the crowd, my parents were in the crowd. Drew had recently lost his mum as well. When it was all over and I went back, I just said to him ‘this is your time’ and I know wrestling is this “fake sport” but nothing’s ever felt more real and it was just great, because after that match…I had my pal back. It was all over. It took a referee counting to three and it was just gone man. The cloud had lifted. It’s a hard thing to do now. It takes a while to build and take a certain amount of commitment to what you’re doing and where you want it to go. Its a thing folk aren’t prepared to do anymore most of the time”

It was a case of everyone being in the right place at the exact right time to make something work. No matter what sacrifices those involved had to make to create something brilliant, they were willing. They were even willing to harbour genuine resentment for each other just to add weight to the experience for people watching. Genuine emotion is what makes wrestling what it is, without it it’s just guys in spandex kidding on they’ve got sore legs. It needs to make you care and that particular feud not only drew you in, it made you pick a side. It mattered.

“What I would say to anyone who’s presented with a situation like me and him were then. When the stars align and its all just right. Give it everything. Drain every single thing you can out of it. As much as I had to hate my pal to get there, me and him will always share that. We can always talk about it and look back on it”

JestDrewwww3

Once it was all said and done, not only did Lee Greig have his best pal back, Jack Jester had the real Drew Galloway back. An animal that the wrestling world had got used to living in the shadows. In truth, when he was released no one really knew just how good Drew could be. He had spent so long creatively unfulfilled in WWE but never completely on the shelf. Gaining experience working on TV and working in front of huge audiences that he transferred on to the independent scene when he re-invented himself over the course of a storming 3-4 year period. A period that saw ICW go from strength to strength with their feud acting as a launchpad for so many other things.

“Having Drew back, and he’d lived this life that everyone wanted. When Drew got signed that was still a time where it was unimaginable. WWE changed him. There was a point where it wasn’t for the good either, because he was so uptight and paranoid. It always used to dishearten me because it just didn’t look like he was enjoying anything he did anymore. He was scared of everything. In his head everybody was a threat, everybody was a danger, but then when he came back after 7-8 years and suddenly he has free rein again. He was unleashed and he had that fire again. He could be creative. Folk were blown away because if you didn’t know Drew beforehand you didn’t know he had this in him, and there’s very little chance you would have because the scene here wasn’t anything before he got signed. So he came back and they seen him doing all this stuff and they’re thinking “fuck, this guys great” stuff that he wasn’t necessarily allowed to do on TV, but he can do it all now. ”

JestDrew

“It was good to come full circle and have Drew’s starting point and ending point in ICW. Going back to the hardcore stuff, I’d been asked to barbed wire rope matches for years and I’d never said yes. It just never suited any situation I’ve been in. There had never been a company that’s had enough build for it to work and it’s not the type of match I’d take on for the sake of it. If I was going to do it for anyone it would always have to be ICW, but it had to be right. There was no better situation to do it than that situation with Drew. Dallas doesn’t often ask us to do things. It’s always us that go to him. In this case he actually did ask me to do it, so I asked him what Drew thought. He told me Drew was keen but you were obviously going to have to figure out how its done. If this wasn’t the time to do it when is? I hadn’t been doing stuff like this for a long time.”

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They steered it towards trying to bring the devil back out in Jester, Drew continually winding him up and waiting for the perfect opportunity to get his revenge. The fact that Drew’s ICW return ended with him betraying Jack Jester and his final match was him trying to get revenge on Jester for doing the same thing is storytelling at its finest. At no point in the whole affair were they not friends, yet it felt like they proper despised one and other. It felt like Drew Galloway wanted to kill Jack Jester during that barbed wire ropes match and vice versa. Brothers fight, but they always make up in the end. Even if they’re both bleeding profusely and some of them’s picking bits of barbed wire out his arse.

“When you’re out of that mindset its hard to get back into it again so we worked that angle. Brought that side of me back out. That day? I’m not usually a nervous person but I was so nervous. I think just the importance of it and the fact that I’d waited so long to do a match like this. I wondered how it could be done without it being a disappointment to people. That was hard enough to do with a guy who had free rein, but we had to somehow get it over without getting Drew hurt before he went back to WWE. We had to do in a way where it wasn’t blatantly obvious that Drew was being protected and I didn’t want it to be just a procession of me being through different things for the crowd reactions. People had to believe, even if they knew in their mind it wasn’t going to happen, that something could have happened to Drew”

The biggest problem the match had is making people believe situations Drew found himself in COULD lead to him being seriously hurt, even if you knew deep down due to his re-signing with WWE its was extremely unlikely he would be. They had to make that audience believe they could see The Chosen One fly arse first through a flaming barbed wire board with live sharks waiting underneath. Jester recalls of a similar situation during his hero Mick Foley’s retirement match, when he couldn’t understand why the crowd weren’t reacting to him kicking out of big moves early. They knew that wasn’t it. It couldn’t be.

jeDrew

“When Cactus wrestled Triple H in the cell he found it a struggle for a while because they weren’t reacting to him kicking out of heavy stuff early on. Then someone said to him down the line, this is a massive match, a retirement match, the fans KNOW you’re not going to lose in the first 5 minutes. They know you’re going to kick out. So it was a similar process. There was a few things I suggested that Drew was unsure about, not really wanting me to put myself through that, but I just felt like I didn’t really have a choice. I had to do something. He was worried about me being safe and all that but my point was, that wasn’t the goal for that match. It needed to be dangerous. People needed to believe I was in danger. It needs to be scary. So I was taking some serious stuff. The superplex from the rope to the floor. Powerbomb through the table. I was really tied up a few times as well. It went back and forth a few times through the day, wondering if I should have tweaked the match and taken certain bits out but I knew if I did do that I’d have been angry at myself. We had to make folk care about it while working in the parameters of what we were able to do. I felt the build was done really well. Everything I wanted to go in to it did. We set the scene for it really well in the build up (dimming the lights before Drew’s video packages etc) can we get a constant noise on the go. Not music, but something that gets a bit of an atmosphere going while the ring’s getting set up. I wanted it to be a spectacle. ”

A spectacle it indeed was, and it was one that left Jester with a few new scars but ones he undoubtedly wears with pride. If you’re going to permanently mark your body because of pro wrestling, make the marks matter. Like a wee scrapbook on your skin to tell the grandweans about. “See that 4 inch red mark on ma foreheid son? that’s from Spike Dudley attacking me wae a stanley blade. We weren’t even wrestling, he just does that to folk sometimes”. Wrestling is all about stories after all.

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“One of my favourite videos is telling the whole story. It goes back to us cuddling. Wee bits backstage and all that. Its fully in black and white and when I come out the curtain it turns to full colour. I had the idea from the wizard of oz. Black and white until the action starts. It’s so well done and creates an atmosphere and then by the end its him coming down for one last hug, and that was him, he was gone again. Imagine I had thrown that away when I was at the height of doing my hardcore stuff? If I had just started doing random barbed wire matches it wouldn’t have been as special. Even though personally I did want to do it, you need to know when to hold back. One day an opportunity will come up that makes you think ‘im glad I saved it for this’ ”

The conclusion of the match saw Drew overcome Jester in brutal circumstances. Leaving his pal a battered and bloodied heap and spitting in the face of an unwritten wrestling rule. If you’re leaving a promotion, you leave with a loss and the winner gets the benefit of having that win as some kind of, I dunno…badge of honour. It’s a nice thing to do and sometimes it works but when its folk who are genuine pals, it’s not necessary. It’s almost patronising. If the story made more sense with Jack Jester losing the match, then so be it. It didn’t matter. What mattered is that they started and ended their story in the same place, having accomplished so much in between.

“That’s like one of they mad wrestling rules. Why does Drew need to put me over because he’s leaving? I just think it’s a bit corny. I didn’t need to win. It wasn’t going to affect me in any way. At no point did I insist I should go over. It didn’t make sense to me. If folk are expecting it? Don’t give them it. Give them something else. You’re constantly trying to get people to care so give them something to care about. He was in my environment too, he was out of his comfort zone and it genuinely pissed some folk off that he won. Private messaging me and all that. I’m like “thanks for the support, but it’s not keeping me up at night”. This whole he could have done me a favour mentality, when if anything I helped give him one of those last big moments before he went back in to the machine again. He deserved it. See because he is my pal as well? I think its a bit of a riddy. Like “get a room” ye know what I mean” *laughs*

Jestah

“I felt it was done well. I can’t see any more of those matches in my future to be honest, never say never like, but I’m so far from being in that place right now and I’m enjoying what I’m doing with Sha. People laugh because I saw the stuff being set up for a hardcore match recently and I was shaking my head and they’re like “here…what are you shaking yer heid at?” *laughs* and its no like im judging the people doing it it’s just more shaking my head at myself and how far removed I am from doing something like that right now. I honestly couldn’t imagine myself doing anything like that at the moment.”

Another thing Drew and Jester have in common was being side by side with Grado as his infectious character swept the Scottish Wrestling scene. Why stand by and be jealous when you can be your absolute best self in a match with someone who’s going to get a reaction anyway. What’s the point in fighting in when you can lean in to it and have some of the best moments of your career.

JestGrado

“I’ve been there for great things. I’ve witnessed Grado while being part of my own stuff. Its great. It just so happened that The Black Label were all pals, but as a team, it just worked. I’ve got to work with the company I love and travel and do it side by side with my mates. It’s an amazing thing. I love it. ”

“Grado used to get so much shit before he had the reputation he has now and the character he has now because he was just a daft bastard who was getting a mad reaction when he went out there and folk hated it. Full of bitterness about what he couldn’t do at that time and the reactions he was getting and it was honestly just pure jealousy. It used to bother him so much, I used to have him on the phone to me upset about it, wondering what he could do about it, and I used to tell him not to do anything different from what he’s doing just now. Listen if you’re getting the reactions you’re getting out there and you change what you’re doing to suit one jealous bastard backstage, risking maybe losing the support of 500 folk out there? Fuck that. Fuck them.”

Having folk in your corner when you’re in the spotlight as much as Grado is has to be an important thing. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate how many eyes he has put on their work by drawing in regular folk is kidding themselves on. Its daft not to take a moment and just enjoy something special. Even if you’re not particularly into it. Even if it’s not your thing. Enjoy the fact that someone is out there making the people lose their shit.

“I love the fact that I was there for Gradomania. Bearing in mind the first time I saw Grado I tried to pap him out of backstage *laughs*. Because he was just a guy walking about with his singlet on and I’m just like “whit ye daein?” *laughs* I hate that. See if there’s someone backstage who I feel shouldn’t be there, I’ll be the prick who’ll tell them ‘get oot’ There’s always some arsehole with a lanyard on telling me why they’re there and they’re from the press and all that and it doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know where the appeal is. I suppose it could be cool to see some of the things, folk putting their boots on and all that, to us its boring as fuck, but I can kinda see the appeal to someone on the outside, but see if I don’t know who ye are? Why are you there? If you’re press, go to a press room, but all my gear’s lying here, this is me at my work. ”

After his initial reaction, he started to realise Grado had something no one else had. He undoubtedly belonged because this shit is about entertaining as many people as you possibly can. Folk buying tickets is what keeps it going and if you think someone in a high profile position hasn’t earned their spot, help them. Make it work, because if the fans want it, it’s happening, and there was absolutely no stopping Gradomania. Folk were in love with it and it was something you had to stand back and witness as a fan at times even if you were directly involved. A once in the lifetime character.

JesterGrado

“I didn’t know him and Dallas had this planned so I’m telling him to get out, you’re not part of the show and Dallas comes up to me and tells me “naw naw, he is” that was right back at the start at The Classic Grand during the book Grado campaign. Then he had his big night, when he tagged with Drew Mcdonald. Drew? He was my hero man. I loved the guy to death. Grado always says he was so glad that he was there. When you watched it you realised, something was going on here. Then when we done the two Insane Fight Clubs together you really got to see it unfold closely and it was an amazing experience to be part of. I don’t know why anybody would feel any different. Why are you raging that this guy’s popular? Why are you raging that you’re getting to wrestle in front of massive crowds when at that time, it was largely down to him? He couldn’t have done it by himself but he was such a big part of it especially back then”

It became a relationship where Jester was almost protective of Grado. Realising his worth and how to get the best reaction out of working with him, he started noticing folk trying to be smart with it when it helps no one. There’s going to be a spell in the match where Grado takes a doing and when that part is happening, have at it, build as much sympathy up for him as possible but when it comes to his time, you fly all over the shop for him. Take they jabs like he’s got a fist made out of cast iron. Sell the roll and slice like he’s lobbed the living room couch directly at your chest. You are there to make him look like a superstar and few are better at doing that than Jack Jester.

Gradoooooooo

“People used to be smartarses when they wrestled him, and they’d go out and tie him in knots and try to make him look silly. That’s not your job mate. Your job is to go out there, fall on your arse for him and get raging, take the Dusty punches, and highlight what he does well. That’s your job. If you feel you’re above that? Go somewhere else man. Mikey was always a great example of that. At times he didn’t love doing what he was doing with Grado because as creative as he is, he’s a purist, but he’d go out there and bump like a madman for him because that’s his job. He knew that’s what he was there to do”

The message with Jester is consistent and very simple. Don’t do things that don’t look or feel natural. Folk will smell it off you. They’ll feel that self-doubt. That inexperience creeping in to every move. Learn your craft first, do mad stuff later. Work Grado’s match first, then maybe try to get some of your best stuff in there but the match is about HIM and what HE does. No one at PBW in Balornock gives a flying fuck if you’ve got a smashin handspring back elbow mate. They want to see you get dusty punched in to next week.

“If you don’t know how to work a regular match you shouldn’t be doing hardcore stuff. If you’re not capable of getting a reaction without being rattled over the heid with a chair. We used to have a lot of folk like that and we slowly got away from that but I’m starting to see it creep back in. Guys who see all this cool death match stuff and just want to copy it because they see other folk getting reactions for it. Maybe I’m just a moany bastard but stuff like lego and things like that just doesn’t appeal to me. Stuff like that can work, like Grado when he opened the bumbag and instead of thumbtacks it was skittles but that’s Grado. That’s what he does.”

JESTGRADOSWA

A recent mad main event in Paisley saw Jester team with Grado, Billy Gunn, Sha Samuels and Lionheart and if ever there was evidence of Gradomania continuing to run wild, it was then. Grado was the person most folk were there to see, not the WWE legend who may have sold some tickets to the auld timers like me, but the young crowd were there for Grado. If they were also there to see Jester do the slosh to the DX theme, then they would not have left disappointed in any way. A recent match with PBW saw the old spark between Grado and Jester start up again.

“When Gradomania happened it angered some folk. You could step by step do the same match with me as Grado would and it just wouldn’t be the same. You’re not him. No one has what he has. I wrestled him recently for PBW and it felt like it did back in the old days. The spark was there. His time away (from ICW) has done him favours because he’s come back inspired again. He did want to embrace being the bad guy but he couldn’t fully commit to it. At the end of the day he’s a brand, and for him to be a villain on just one type of show, it doesn’t work. When he came out at that PBW show, they went mental for him. We went ages not doing anything and just enjoying the crowd. Then we started calling stuff on the fly and it was great. He doesn’t need someone trying to be funny with him, he needs folk to fully embrace his stuff, he needs you to sell for him. You’ve got to be the straight man. There’s got to be that dynamic there. I’ve seen so many matches with Grado where he’s wrestling somebody and they think ‘this is gonnae be a comedy match’…aye, it is, but he’s the comedy.”

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Be yourself. Don’t look at something popular and try to be that, look at why something’s popular and take the important core aspects of it and put it in to your own work. Grado tribute acts will always just feel like Grado tribute acts and nothing more substantial. Choosing to wrestle a unique talent like that and almost doing an impression of him in the match rather than just wrestling him is a trap Jester has seen many fall in to.

“People get in situations they wouldn’t usually do when they wrestle him sometimes, you’ll have the big heel in this company and all of a sudden he’s doing something stupid, like he’s doing fuckin baby shark or something. That’s not your job. Your job is to give him the platform to make people laugh. I mean if he can still make me laugh, after aw the years of him pissing me off and me pissing him off, and all the fall outs we’ve had *laughs* the amount of times we’ve wrestled, and the amount of times I’ve seen him do his thing. If he can still make me laugh after all that, its funny. He’s got something. When you see other folk trying to replicate it, to me its embarrassing, but when he does it, it’s just funny. He’s got funny bones. Everything about him is just funny. That promo at the last show, he just kept making me laugh, the best night of my life thing became funny. Plus just to see him with that fire behind him again was amazing. ”

Jester’s attempts to de-bunk a frankly daft theory that only pals of ICW promoter Mark Dallas get opportunities in ICW. As if he hands out a leaflet before each show telling the audience who they should be reacting to. A nonsense mentality it has always been and one he never allows the trainees at GPWA to get sucked in to. You have to believe if you’re good enough and have something substantial to offer, you’ll get chances. Make sure and take them if you do.

“If you go out and get over, it doesn’t matter who you are or if he likes you or not, Dallas will bring you back. He’s selling a product here. He’s not booking a show that he wants to watch. Everybody wants to moan and blame stuff on other people. People also mention the lack of women coming through but there’s a lot less women training than men. Its not a sexist thing. If you’re good enough you’ll get opportunities. If a male wrestler isn’t good enough he wont get put on a show. You think I don’t want more females coming through the school or being on the shows we run? Of course we do.”

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“For every 20-30 guys there 1 female trainee. If you’re good, you’ll be on the show. Man or woman. Sabryna’s the perfect case (Aivil) she works hard, shes committed, shes creative, she was always trying to up her game. Don’t show up and do fuck all then moan and blame it on something else. Your finding reasons to justify you not getting booked even though deep down you know the real reason is that you’re not very good. Its nothing to do with favouritism. We need young talent. We’ve got loads of guys here we could push for Mark Dallas, but you can’t come in here and make ICW your be all and end all. You need to make your mark elsewhere because if you get put into ICW a moment before your ready, they’ll eat you alive. If you go in there and it doesn’t get over, it’s a 100 times harder to come back again, so wait until you’re ready. Wait until you know you can do this. Because its scary. Its scary when you’ve been doing this a long time so imagine how much scarier it’ll be for a trainee? Some of them have taken the opportunity and went with it”

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Two recent standouts in ICW and further afield have been Source trainee Kieran Kelly and GPWA trainee Leyton Buzzard. After they were heavily involved in the worlds longest match between their respective pals Chris Renfrew and Joe Hendry, the young standouts were finally given a one on one match at ICWs recent debut at the Glasgow Uni Union. A match that not only put their characters into sharp focus but displayed a standard in the ring that most people knew Kieran Kelly was capable of, but something people may have been slightly shocked by regarding Leyton Buzzard. Who until that point had seen the focus of his work mainly aimed at his skills as a ‘theatrical wee bastard’ as Jester so eloquently put it. They had a standout match on a very strong show and showed the future might indeed be bright.

“They were kinda the backup for the 2 experienced guys, but then they end up outshining the guys they’re meant to be backing up. Kieran Kelly has always been very very good. He’s a cracking worker. But he’s always been a shy kinda reserved wee guy. Arthur on the other hand has always been committed, always creative, and he’s a theatrical wee bastard. He’s grown up in that life he was acting since he was wee. He was in an advert for a Star Wars thing, building the wee R2D2 in the garage. He did like singing competitions. He’s got that side to him. With Arthur, he moved here from Bristol by himself to be a wrestler. He didn’t come and see how it went, he moved here because in his mind he wasn’t going to fail. He’s entertaining and he’s always trying to push himself out there, but hes not a pest. He can back it up. In front of the ICW crowd like that you can really see. I just kinda wish that match had been in The Garage.”

“You watch these two and they steal the show and that’s a good thing. These are two guys who haven’t done much yet and they’re only going to get better. It’s a sign of things to come. Its no up to guys like me to resent it. Its natural. I don’t want to be popular because everyone else is shite because that’s no sort of achievement. I don’t want folk to fail. We did Maryhill the next day and people took the time to come up and congratulate Arthur on how good it was. You don’t often see that after the night of the show itself unless its something special. If you don’t have that passion or that level of commitment, it’s not acceptable. Anything less than that isn’t acceptable. ”

The attitude that shone through in both of them is the absolute minimum requirement for Jack Jester when he and his fellow trainers at GPWA are looking for the next big thing. Even if you aren’t as good as they undoubtedly are, you should want to get to that stage. Want to improve. Actively try to better yourself on a daily basis because they isn’t clocking in at your work in ASDA or something. This is a labour of love. It needs hard graft, dedication and just a wee streak of undeniable insanity.

JesterBT

“I’m looking for folk who want to learn to work. Trainees who’ll come through and they’ll get to the point where they’ve got a certain set of stuff, they can do, and they can have a certain amount of success with that, but I want to see folk who are constantly trying to get better and improve. I want the type of folk who are coming up to me and ASKING me if they can go to seminar down south. Anything you can do to get better, do it. If I’m constantly saying the same thing and someones not listening, there’s only a certain amount of times i’ll say it before I wont say it again. If you’re not going to listen fair enough, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to get you to listen. People like Arthur, constantly trying to get better and he wants to do it the right way. He doesn’t want to do it by being a wee suck up bastard or copying anyone else. With people like that, that’s when you realise right, this is a guy I can work with, this is a guy who wants to learn, he doesn’t want to just go out there and do what he’s comfortable. He wants to learn, he wants to impress, and hes doing it the right way by working hard at it and learning how to work and he’s spewing with confidence and charisma ”

Another strongly conveyed message was about as simple as it gets. Don’t be a dick. If someone gets an opportunity, congratulate them and work out what they’re doing that you’re not. Otherwise you’re going to spend a lot of your weekends on the couch as opposed to chucking folk about.

“I’ll always say this to my trainees as well, if one of your fellow trainees is getting on an ICW show and you’re annoyed about it, why? You should all be supporting each other. You should be trying to work out why he’s getting that opportunity when you’re not. You should be trying to get better and don’t worry about being a pest either. If you go up to someone and ask them to watch your match to give you feedback and they tell you to fuck off? Disregard them, because they’re wankers.”

Leeeeeeeee

Jester in his early years realising he’d left the oven on and even though it probably wouldn’t burn the house down, it would definitely burn his scones

Wankers indeed. If someone really wants to learn, why be like that? No one lives forever. The next batch of talent has to arrive and one day take over. Wanting them to be shite is how you end up with a scene the way it was 15 years ago. If the scene is to continue to grow, it needs good training schools and wave after wave of good talent. No matter where they come from, talent is talent. Nurture it. If someone doesn’t want to help you out, fuck them.

“If you ask for advice and they’re dicks to you, don’t get upset, it’s not worth it. Mikey’s great for that, he’ll sit with any trainee that asks for advice, and he’ll go on for ages but he’s telling you. He’s giving you advice. I’ve seen it happen even with some of my guys when they’re finished and they’re not arsed, they’re just happy to get back and get a beer. Again I’ll say, I’ll only say the same thing so many times before I’ll stop. Because folk are telling you somethings good why try to get better? Then on the other hand you’ve got guys like Kieran Kelly, Craig Anthony, Leyton Buzzard and all that. Folk from all different schools who have that potential and the work ethic to get better. Ones that make you think “this guys dangerous, I need to up my game here” If you’ve got something to offer a promoter it doesn’t matter what school you come from either. Its like Luka (Paxxo) Ross (Watson) loves him. He’s now one of the mainstays on PBW shows. Ross always books all different sorts of people, different talents, but Luka now seems to be part of their core and that says it all. He’s took him away on the camps with him. If I can book a guy and say this is the date, and he’s going to show up and do his job with no fuss, you’re going to keep getting booked. These people are being booked on merit. Luka is mad creative as well and both of them as a couple are mad creative.”

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“If you ever show up at ICW and you just want it over and done with, there’s no point in you being there. You always need to have guys like myself and Mikey who don’t take this for granted. They care and they set a standard. You get folk who want to go out there and go “watch what I can do” but you’ve got to make them care. Sha is the only guy who’s came up here and almost became Glaswegian. Like this is his second home. All his pals are up here. You don’t consider Sha someone you bring up for a show, he’s just part of ICW now. Bram as well, he’s a mad bastard but folk believe what he does. People come up here and I think they assume because they’ve worked in this place and they’ve worked in that place that people up here will care but you’ve got to make them care”

Jester believes having a bit of something else is a vital part of making it in front of an ICW crowd, or at the very least making the little time you might get matter. Don’t be timid or they’ll eat you alive.

“You need to be a certain type of person because they can read you like a book. They don’t want you to suck up and be nice to them. They want you to make them give a fuck. If you don’t go out there and make any sort of connection Dallas isn’t gonna book ye again. He’s booking a show that the fans want to see. You need to do something. See if you’ve not got a bit of attitude behind ye, a bit of spunk, you’re not going to make that connection. If you’re coming out all polite, and like ‘I’m going to show you a great match’ they might not react. That’s ten a penny. Do something else. Stand out. Immerse yourself in it”

One of Jesters career highlights has been working at The Blackpool Tower. A venue that holds great importance to him due his love for the circus. Being able to work at the same venue some of his heroes had previously done in a different lifetime must have been a surreal moment but one of those rare ones where wrestling meshes perfectly with something else you love to create something special. A memory you hope lasts as long as the ones the lions, tigers, bears and clowns created all that time ago.

“I’ve had a few bucketlist venues in my life. The Blackpool Tower was one of them because I’m obsessed with the circus. I always have been. I know an ungodly amount about clowns *laughs* so that was always a special place because all my heroes from that side of things had all worked there. I remember, me and Brian Dixon…well we were never pals, put it that way. My name at that time was Scotland’s Lee Thomas. He gave me the name and I honestly don’t know why. Even though he’d gave me that name, he always called me Tom *laughs* there was nae point even telling him otherwise. After I worked the Blackpool Tower, I’ll always remember him coming up to me going ‘well Tom, you’ve done it!’ and it was one of those few times Brian was really nice to me because he knew it meant a lot to me. I love the fact that I wrestle in it often now for PCW. I mean me and Sha won the belts in there and it was incredible for us. I remember after we’d won, there was this one wee guy going absolutely mental so I went over and got him in the ring with us, and before I knew it there must have been about 50 kids in there with us *laughs* and I’m thinking, whoever’s ring this is, is gonnae kill me.”

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“That moment was so special for me honestly, it was cracking man, to get that reaction in a venue that meant that much. Its one of those venues that every time I get there I appreciate it, and I’ll walk about and look at everything. There’s so much cool stuff. There’s props everywhere for the clowns, up the stairs in the tower there’s a clown museum, and the most famous clown at that time was a guy called Charlie Corolli. He done 40+ summer seasons in a row there. Mind blowing. He had 3 white faced clowns called the three Pauls and all there suits are there. Charlie Cairoli could play every instrument, including the kitchen sink. Doonstairs there’s cages where all the lions, tigers, elephants and all that used to be kept. It’s not normal cages that would be used now, these were built to last, raw iron stables. These things were built into the foundations. So you’ll be walking by and thinking “fuck..there used to be elephants in there!” I tried to show Sha this, when you go backstage there’s a black and white photo of the trapeze artists practising and that bar still hangs there to this day. Almost as if its frozen in time. Its been there for 70 years or something.”

Having that moment in a venue of such personal significance where so many of Jester’s interests share house room was career defining stuff. The reason folk put their bodies on the line week in week out if for wee bits like that. Combine that personal significance of the venue with the sheer amount of joy the moment brought wrestling wise and you have some sort of perfection. There is no doubt The Kinky Party has lit a fire under both Jack Jester and his partner in hilarity Sha Samuels. Two guys who built careers on being something completely different to what they are now, throwing themselves into this tag team wholeheartedly and making it work. Making an impact on people. Making all age groups have the simple joy of getting to forget about all the shit in their lives and enjoy two folk who are quite obviously having the time of their lives.

No kinky, no party…..EAST!

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“It was not planned. That match the first time against Renfrew and Mikey was meant to be a one off. It was kinda just like we didn’t have anything to do so they put us together. Sha had never done anything like this before. He was always this straight up, hardnose, cockney geezer. Even at that point I wasn’t doing anything funny. It’s just that I was such a different kind of person to him and it made him uncomfortable and that made people laugh. The fans made it. It was them that started chanting no kinky no party. It wasn’t even a thing until then. We hadn’t even thought of that before they started chanting it and we’re thinking this is fun. We could do something with this. Dallas wasn’t fully sold on it initially, and we’d got ourselves so excited about it that we needed it to happen. My focus became making this happen and convincing Dallas to let us run with this. We don’t really know where we’re going with it, but let us try.”

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They didn’t really need to do much to convince him. People wanted it. Simple as that. Something about the dynamic just clicked and before either one of them knew it, they were having the absolute time of their lives. Wrestling had never been more fun. It shone through in both of them and it was born out of sheer discomfort. Sha Samuels the proper cockney geezer. Pints, the fitba, a curry, a fight. That’s what he was all about. The only thing he used chains for was to wrap round his fist when he was leathering some poor bastard and on the other end of the scale you have Jack Jester “Kinky Torturer” as The Sun so accurately put it (thats definitely no sarcasm) who just wanted them to forget their differences and be pals.

“At the start Sha was reluctant and that had to show, it has to start with a straight guy who’s reluctant to get involved in it, and I was the guy trying to get him to have fun with it. You can’t build something funny without having that to start with. So I was way more keen than him and I had to get him to take to it. That got me the sympathy from the crowd because I’m trying and trying to get him to be my pal and he’s patching me. It was Mankid and The Rock. Mankind was so keen on the idea. The Rock was his best pal in his mind, but The Rock would kid on he never existed *laughs* . So folk though he was a dick and they sympathased with Mankind. The best thing is ICW don’t usually write for us. They just let us get on with it and trust us to go with it. Sha never really wrote anything either because I played off his reactions. ”

They are one of a select few…well really they’re the only tag team who have ever had an official “launch party” but when Sha and Jester came out the closet as a full-blown tag team in Newcastle it changed everything. It established this as not just a fling. They were in this together forever. A bond so strong that Sha is even willing to pick up that big studded dildo, even if it’s just so he can hand it to Jester to wallop someone with it. There was strippers with breasts of various sizes, some more impacted by gravity than others and there was a gummy snake. The absolute cornerstones of a kinky party as the google image search I done in preparation for this confirms.

shajack2“Like the launch party in Newcastle. He genuinely didnae know what I had planned *laughs* and I said to the crowd, Sha’s shiteing himself back there *laughs* and its hilarious because he was. Its nerve-wracking enough having a segment and know what you’re doing but he’s going out there without a clue. I genuinely think its one of the best things I’ve ever done *laughs* and it had to be kinda shite but heartwarming at the same time. I was just trying to rib him, putting a photograph of him wearing a white suit *laughs* he actually owns this thing and has worn it to genuine occasions, and it blew my mind *laughs hysterically* Of all the folk I wouldn’t expect to be wearing a white suit, Sha Samuels is near the top of that list. I wanted him to have that “you bastard!” reaction. So we did that. I sourced the stripper last-minute but the older lady who was involved wasn’t planned. I’ve came in contact with her numerous but shes such a laugh. So game. She switched with the stripper and bless her, she was so game. She loved it. Its hard doing that type of stuff because if it’s no happening and they’re not reacting. Its hard. I didn’t want it to be too polished, I wanted him to keep playing off his reactions, and then he’s starting to come round and we switched it and its me getting upset with him, and he’s trying to get my attention”

That switch took their popularity to the next level. Many thought that night at the ABC was the end for The Kinky Party. It couldn’t ever work! They were too different from the start. Kidding themselves on they were. It was always going to end so why prolong the pain? But like with any important relationship, someone has to fight for it, when the chips are down, someone has to buy more chips. Sha Samuels reached out and as much as they weren’t quite as dazzling as that white suit no doubt was, he offered Jester an olive branch in the form of the sexiest team jackets in professional wrestling history.

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“We done the thing at the ABC and had the fallout (after Jesters match with James Storm) Then the thing with the jackets, I corpsed throughout that, he was so funny, its hard not to laugh. With The Kinky Party, I approached it differently to how you usually would, the wrestling side would take care of itself. Its building the double act that was important at the start. We had to be a double act. We had to be Francie and Josie. That’s why I was really adamant we had to get to the point that we’d be a recognised double act. We do have a really good laugh and you can feel the spirit being lifted when we do what we do. It’s the easiest thing I’ve done in wrestling, I’ve never had anything that’s so easy and so natural. He’s so good off the cuff, so I wont tell him what I’m going to say, he just needs to react to me. ”

With a bit of gentle encouragement from a returning Drew Galloway they finally made in and have gone from strength to strength ever since. When you’re entertaining people the way they do, run with it. They’re not only giving people a bit of comedic respite in the middle of some pretty intense shows, they’re doing it while having top quality matches for the tag team titles of teams with various styles. Be it monsters like Alpha Evil and The PoD, brawlers like The Purge, or the ever charismatic Lou King Sharp and Krieger, they have had one of the most notable ICW Tag Title runs ever and have created an environment where whoever takes it off them will be creating a moment. A team who have done battle with them before and who have a huge amount of momentum are The Kings Of Catch, and it seems only natural that their paths will cross again if both can make it through their respective Hydro matches.

While The Kinky Party very much remain a double act, the return of Grado to the ICW fold has proven welcome as they’ve had the opportunity to combine their charisma with his. Tanning a beer up the ropes is a wee bit different to slinging a bumbag over your shoulder right enough but The Kinky Party are determined their spot as the chief comedians in the comedy is not coming under threat.

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“With Grado coming back, we wanted to play it like ‘he better no come in here thinking he’s gonnae be funny *laughs* we’re the funny wans noo. I’m in Sha’s ear annoying him, trying to get him riled up so he disnae go back to Grado *laughs*. I think Kinky Party came at the right time because everything was so intense at that time, and you need a part of the show where you can just exhale. Have a laugh. You can just relax. Don’t send us out first. Put us in somewhere about the middle and give folk a chance to breathe. The crowdsurfing thing just came by accident but it became a thing we were known for. We want to have things people identify with us. Like the pre parties we’ve done, we’re genuinely out there drinking with folk, Sha’s missing his mooth. *laughs* We enjoy it. ”

Jester explained the dynamic between him and Sha as more of a married couple as opposed to two pals. An analogy that I’m sure puts the shitters up oor Sha but one that makes sense. It’s a partnership innit. With pals you can maybe not see them for a few weeks and it matters not. Next time you see them the lager will be flowing, and someone might end up getting glassed. With a partnership? If you’ve no texted in a 12 hours period you better be sleeping or deid. The Kinky Party is for life no just for Christmas and that bond has to remain sacred. If they’re going to win belts and drink aw sorts of different beers together, the trust has to be there. The trust you’d consider commonplace between married couples.

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“When we fall out it has to be treated like a married couple falling out. You’re first instinct isn’t to challenge her to a fight the next week *laughs* You go all pathetic, stomp aboot, act petty. Then we had the thing at the ABC, and he gives me the jacket, and I’m telling him I don’t like it…I love it, but its no enough. So I storm away and out comes Drew telling us to get back in and sort it out. It was a great moment.”

Wrestling fans aren’t known for their patience. Possessed with this overarching thirst to see the next big storyline happen. Never content to let it play out. If anyone thinks a split followed by what would be an excellent rivalry is coming anytime soon, think again. Sha Samuels and Jack Jester are having the time of their wrestling lives and that’s not stopping until there’s a good reason for it to stop. ”

“People know it’s not going to turn in to this split. There’s always the potential down the line but right now I can’t see it. I’m so protective over this because I don’t want it to get serious. I want to keep what we have going. People just expect it now. They’re waiting it thinking “that’ll be Jester and Sha’s feud starting now” but why? We’ve still got plenty of things to pursue and I can’t stress enough how much I’m enjoying it. Its gave me and Sha such a lift. Its gave me and Sha a new lease of life. I’d done so many things and you get to a point where you’re not really sure whats next and this came at the perfect time. Its made me love wrestling again. It pours over to even when we’re not tagging, I’m enjoying it more everywhere. It doesn’t matter where I am, even if I’m myself, you get someone chanting no kinky no party. It carries over, and we started looking at the photos, David Wilson is always so good with that, and we were zooming in on them and you see everyone’s smiling man. We kinda started realising, somethings happened here Sha. We need to run with it. But then its all about how to keep it going and be creative and no repeat yourself etc.”

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While the emphasis is heavily on the dynamic between the pair as characters, the wrestling side still needs to be paid attention to. As much as The Kinky Party have been known as violent bastards in a past life, that’s not the life they’re living now. Those characters are still in there but there’s a balance to be struck between letting them loose a wee bit when the tag titles are on the line and they’re in the ring with legit monsters, and keeping them at bay enough to make the aforementioned monsters look as scary as they unquestionably are.

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“The likes of the match with Iestyn and Bram. Its different. We have to work out how to make the match work with these two big bastards while still keeping what we have going. How do we do it and still be able to come out on the next show and be funny. Then we realised, we’re the perfect opponents for Iestyn and Bram right now. They’re so dominant and they look scary. You put me and Sha in with folk like that, and Rampage and Asthon. If im in the ring facing guys like that and I’m trying to take the piss and have a laugh. It kills them. It makes them look daft. You need to take them seriously. There’s nothing wrong with showing fear, but you have to still be The Kinky Party at first. You have to go out and do what you do, but when it comes to facing these big monsters, you need to take it seriously. ”

That match was a defining moment for The Kinky Party, who had already surprised some by managing to usurp Rampage Brown and Ashton Smith as Tag Champions, despite the dangerous team knocking the living shite out of them a lot before. They proved they have the ability to get serious when it matters and when you’re in there with bruisers like that…it matters. It matters a lot. It matters to know when someone the size of Bram hits you with a Swanton from about 20 feet in the air, stay down for a fair bit after that. Don’t be getting up, tanning a beer and taking photies. The Kinky Party are all about the fans and having a laugh when the time is right, but sometimes the fight comes first.

“You can’t have us in with guys like Iestyn and Bram and make us look like supermen. Even though we’re the champions, we need to think about it and make them look like the dominant guys they are. I can just pick Iestyn up and slamp him, but I wont. I’ve never been one to do a lot of plannin beforehand, we’ll go over a few wee things, but if you can’t go out there and have a match with Iestyn and Bram and not make it look serious? Whats the point. If you cannae make that look like a fight? Yer fucked. I started doing wee things, like now we have the jackets so I can stick the corkscrew in there. So you build it up, and Iestyns no a blood and guts guy so he’s selling it. Even when Bram done that swanton….I was in nae rush to get up” *laughs*

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“He’s huge and he’s landing on ye from about 20 feet in the air. Its knowing how long to lie there. Its knowing when to get up. They battered Sha while im out, Sha rallies a bit, then the finish to the match, we could feel it, it started having this atmosphere that folk felt ‘this is a bit heavy-duty here’ and that’s why we made it a sneaky pin and we didn’t even celebrate it in the ring. I rolled right out and that’s when you see the more serious side. We have the belts and we have to back up the funny stuff with defences. With good matches. You cannae just go out there and dance and drink beer and no dae anything, so having matches like that elevates because folk remember who we are. We remind them who we are deep down and that we can go. Then the next show you come out and its almost like you can start again. Now people appreciate you more and you’ve got a wee bit more sympathy because these guys have battered us. Same with Rampage and Ashton. It’s not my job to go out there and look like their equal. I’m not going to throw Rampage about. Thats not what I’m there for. Its storytelling man. Its using their confidence and their power against them, because they’re so confident they’ve got us, they’ve battered us before, and we come out of nowhere and beat them”

Becoming champions took The Kinky Party to another level. If you’re keeping the married couple analogy going, having the tag titles is living having a wean for a married couple. You know that means its going to stay together for at least the next wee while. Maybe take in a wee bit of sun for a first family holiday. Jester, Sha and the belts. The analogy kinda falls apart when they eventually lose the belts right enough because you wouldn’t exactly put your child on the line in a wrestling match would you? We’re getting off track here, point is, being ICW Tag Team Champions meant they were part of an elite group. That prestige meant an obligation to wind each other up as much as possible became an unwritten rule.

“When we won the belts in Newcastle that’s when we really started talking about things and documenting stuff and I’m always winding him upKinkyBenidorm on twitter *laughs* We’re doing wee videos, with him shouting “JAAAAAAAAACCCCCKK” and its just such a laugh. ICW don’t write for us but we’ve got certain things that we need to hit storyline wise. When we do backstage stuff I always tell Veronica or Jen, don’t try not to laugh, just go with it, We always kinda try to get them involved and we love. If we’re enjoying ourselves, it obviously come across. Filming stuff in Benidorm and all that. I wanted us to be a double act. I wanted us to be Laurel and Hardy. I didn’t just want to be a tag team. I wanted it to be a situation where if one of is booked somewhere, folk are asking where the other one is. It’s somehow crossed over well to family shows. Sha hates it being called The Kinky Party at family shows *laughs* he’s like ‘lets call it The Drinky Party’ *laughs* but it goes over their heads, its like pantomime, its riddled with adult references that go over the childrens heads. At ICW you can be a bit more risque, its more like an adult orientated panto, but on family shows I just feel like I’m in a panto and its great. We really enjoy doing it. Making the kids laugh and even when we come out we’re having a laugh, because we’ve been doing it for hours beforehand and we’re going out there and carrying it over, it’s an amazing thing man ”

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We all know wrestling is scripted, pre-determined, whatever you want to call it. If you’re a fan as an adult you can have a fairly accurate education guess at how things might turn out and the direction stuff is going in. Those facts can make folk a wee bit bitter towards it. Almost as if they’re active’y trying not to enjoy wrestling but if you’re not enjoying it what’s the point? Sha Samuels and Jack Jester are enjoying every second of this and they’re going to crowdsurf and mug folk off until it stops being fun.

“The Kinky Party has allowed me to be the every man as well. We can go and be in the crowd and we can mingle and all that. We can dress it up as me doing character work, but it just means I get to jump in the crowd and sit next to an auld guy and steal his pick and mix. We just have laugh with it. You need folk to identify with us. They’re the reason we exist. Without that backing there’s never a Kinky Party. Sha will agree, it happened by mistake, but I don’t know what would be happening with either of us now if we didn’t have that. I joke that The Kinky Party has added another 10 years on to my career *laughs* but honestly, at that point we were both wondering where we wanted to go and honestly. I just love it. With every big moment you know the crashing low is coming and we’d both had big moments at Shugs. Sometimes you make plans, sometimes plans are made for you. The fans made this happen, we just took something they reacted to and went with it. We’d never done comedy stuff before so its been such a removal for us and its been great.”

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With an impressive amount of years racked up between them Sha and Jester are trusted to take their work in whatever direction they want to take it. After all this is their title run, as much as the company will give you opponents, you need to make the moments. You need to make the matches matter and Jester hopes the work they’ve done as champions stands whoever’s up next in good stead. “Its a nice feeling knowing the boss trusts us to go wherever we want to take it. We never thought for a second we’d be champions so then you have the dilemma of “how does the comedy team survive” in a division that’s full of big scary bastards” *laughs*

“I hope that me and Sha have done enough work that whoever does win it from us gets the reaction they deserve. I want people to be elevated by it. Its been great. Working with different kinds of teams who have different reactions to what we do and you chop and change to suit the situation. It’s great to be able to do that at ICW and even at family shows now where we’re just the big friendly funny guys. Yer mad uncles that love a laugh. As long as we’ve got the stage to be creative we’re gonnae continue. Its great. Its proper perked me back up again. ”

Before The Kinky Party came the gathering of the bastards. The Black Label tore ICW a new arsehole throughout 2015 and 2016 and it was a time period Jack Jester threw caution to the win. Not a single fuck was given and a lot of people didn’t like that. Well…good. If you’re trying to be a prick, thats the fullproof way to know its working.

Becoming Big Kink – Black Label’s Nastiest Bastard

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Seeing that drive in Drew and the drive it gave everyone else in the company set a standard that had to be met if you were to be considered a part of this. You need to look interested at the very least. Learn how to make audience react to you instead of judging them for not doing it. It’s not your job. They’re the customers. You don’t go to McDonalds and flip the burgers yersell. It’s up to the performer to get their performance over and that’s something both Jack Jester and Drew placed a lot of importance on during that time period when they reigned supreme.

“It pisses me off sometimes when I see folk who have been doing this less than 5 years and they look like they’d rather be anywhere else. Or when folk would rather complain about crowds going down or crowds being dead rather than problem solving. ‘The crowd are dead’….are the crowd dead? Or are they just not reacting for you as much as you want? Its self-indulgent. Just because you walk through the curtain as a babyface doesn’t mean these people need to cheer you. They aren’t getting paid to cheer you. You’re getting paid to give them a reason to cheer. Instead of coming back and moaning, figure out why it hasn’t gone the way you wanted it to go and do something to change it. I think people walk through the door sometimes and expect Dallas to sit them down and give them this handbook on how to get over with his audience. It doesn’t work like that. Dallas will listen to you. He can have a constructive conversation with you and sometimes we wont always agree, but he’ll listen. You’ve got to make it happen yourself”

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“Having Drew back and seeing Drew putting everything in to it made such a difference. Drew was very much like me. He’d get raging if he saw anyone who looked like they couldn’t be arsed. It fuelled him. We had the mentality that we’ll continue to be the top guys until someone proves they can take it off us. As The Black Label, we’re the older guys, and all this young talent that can do everything are coming up that can do everything and they look great and have all the tools, but they’re bitter. They have this mentality that we get the opportunities because we’re Dallas’ pals as opposed to earning them. Being Dallas’ pal doesn’t get you over with the crowd. Being pals with Dallas doesn’t get them to react. Only you can do that”

Being pals with Dallas also doesn’t matter a fuck when, at least in storyline terms anyway, you fucking hate the cunt. The Black Label were built on solid foundations of hating Mark Dallas and everything his ICW stood for. They wanted the power, and needed to come across like the biggest team of pricks the world has ever seen. They ran the show and wanted anyone who would dare to cross them to know that was the case. Fuck with the label at your peril.

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“With The Black Label I had to be such a bastard and I had to commit to. I gave everything I had to being a genuine bastard that folk despised”

“We did that switch where me and Drew had been feuding, and at the ABC. So many things that happened in my career happened in that venue. I came out and folk thought I was gonna help Damo, and I turned and helped Drew instead. Red was there and it was just the three oldest best pals together again. We did that photo where we’re backstage (photo is below) all giving it the vickies together and there’s that same photo somewhere from years before of us doing that in Walkabout. It was one of they things that was organic. We were thick as thieves. We had guys who came in for wee stints and were affiliated with us, but we were the core group and we just caused it man. Some of they tours got wild man. There’s certain shows where the crew have thrown their headphones off and ran out because they thought there was genuine riots happening. I was just out there annoying folk, and I wasn’t really angry, but I was getting that anger out of them. If you don;t believe in your own shit, no one else would. We ruled the world man. We had everything at our disposal to make sure we stayed on top. Comparing it to the kinky party sounds daft but I’ve some of the biggest reactions from both. Like with The Black Label I just used to cause absolute havoc, then I’d stand in the safety of the ring, surrounded by security, while folk go mental *laughs* so to be getting the opposite now with The Kinky Party but still getting the reactions is great. ”

Make no mistake about it, during that run with The Black Label, Jack Jester was a bastard. He done absolutely everything in his power to draw nothing but pure unfiltered hate from the paying audience. Who gives a fuck if you paid for a ticket mate, we run the gaff, you do not. It was as simple as that and he embrace his role as chief aggressor of the group very seriously. He existed to annoy you and he had an absolute ball doing it.

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“Say I was on second, and someone would dare say something to me, and I’d refuse to work until they were thrown out. Folk used to come up and say stuff to me. Telling me it was shite. I’m like…I know. Its meant to be. I want them to hate me. If you’re angry about it, think how angry the guy is that got chucked out. It got to the point where Drew would always just let me kick everything off and he’d be my backup. Drew used to jump in front of me thinking I was genuinely losing it. Trust me, if I’m genuinely raging about something. You’ll know about it. Let me be in my head for the segment and really commit to it.”

The problem being such an unapologetic bastard is that when it came time to turn back, it was hard to make people believe in him as the loveable psycho they had made at one time considered of their idols. You call folk arseholes enough times, they just start to believe you think they consider them to be an arsehole. They forget you’re playing a character and it had come time to become something different. Drew was about to rejoin WWE and he needed one last feud. He needed a hero to annihilate and who was better for the job then his auld pal? Once again aligned with ICW after turning on The Black Label and knocking Drew out with a massive studded ‘weapon’ at The Hydro to give control of ICW back to Mark Dallas.

“I was like fuck, I’ve backed myself into a corner here. How can I ever be babyface again when I’ve been such a bastard. So spiteful. I used to target folk for different stuff and I was a proper bastard. Folk were genuinely raging. If I go and say sorry and ask them to forgive me they don’t believe in it. They don’t believe I’m the bastard I want them to believe I am.”

“Somehow we managed the big turn at The Hydro. I’ll never forget that reaction the night before when Drew said he was retiring. Folk were so taken by that, it was amazing. We didn’t plan that either and it went so far. Someone shouted something and everyone just went aff their nut at him. He was still treating it like a wrestling show but folk were convinced. This was real. Folk were watching like it was real.findrew Then someone fainted and I jumped out the ring and broke character. Dallas came out. Everyone’s out of character then banng! Drew punched Dallas. Folk were going nuts. You bastards! Folk are crying. You had a half and half reaction, like wrestling fans who got it were like “well done” and then you had the folk who feel entitled to know when its real and when its not. So you had this building with Drew getting ahead of himself, and Red kinda thinking of himself as bigger than The Black Label. It was the opposite of when I turned to join them, when I came out folk were expecting me to help Drew and I went the other way ”

The thing about The Black Label people really fucking hated is that you knew they were good. You fully despised it but you knew deep down they were at the very top because they had earned it and with Red Lightning at the helm, they had the power to stay there. A thing that comes in handy when it comes to keeping you on top is being able to do this job well. Mad concept I know, but actually being good at this and being able to adapt to any situation you’re thrown into is an integral part and a value Jester tries to instil in to his trainees as well as his own work. A lot of lessons have come from working with Sabu several times and adapting the matches to still look good without taking liberties. A relationship built between the two men that led to Sabu making Jester an offer he couldn’t refuse.

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“I know hes got a bad neck, I know hes got a bad hip, If I can’t find another way of working someone without doing stuff that puts them in danger, then I can’t work. He’s constantly being put in there with folk who are inexperienced. A guy knocked all his front teeth out, this guy obviously didn’t know what he was doing. He’s panicking because he’s wrestling Sabu, and he’s made a mistake. With Sabu you need to be on your game. I enjoy working with him, some folk say they find it hard, but to me its interesting. Its exciting. You’ve got to be at your best. There’s nothing better than meeting your hero and it turns out he is that guy. It was after a show, I remember talking to him about doing the barbed wire match and how I’d never done one before and all that and he says to me “Terry (Funk) taught me how to do them, if you want I could teach you” and I nearly burst into tears. It was surreal. I’m standing outside The Garage and Sabu’s telling me he’s going to teach me how to do a barbed wire match. I couldn’t wrap my head round it. So I’ve kinda taken wee bits from all these guys, and when you see people who are maybe 2 years in, doing in badly and almost belittling it, it annoys me. I never have and never will find using lego in wrestling funny. I’m sure it was a good laugh the first time it was done. After the match they’ll post a photo that kind of defeats the purpose of it entirely with a funny wee caption. Or they cannae wait to get backstage to they can post a photo of their chest when its been chopped to bits.”

While his standards for hardcore wrestling stay high, the key seems to be respect at all times. Respect wrestling and take your responsibility seriously, and Jack Jester will respect you. Coming in chopping 3 layers of skin and a few vital organs out of a trainee in their first match is just being a dick.

SQGOJESJST“Its folk taking liberties I don’t like. With a guy like Walter, you’re going to get these big marks. He’s a big guy and if he times it right that’ll happen, but its people who take liberties and you can see the anger in their face when they do it. Like when they do it with younger guys because they know they wont say anything, but they’re naive enough to go back and take a photo of their chest all black and blue and there’s nothing cool about it to me. I hope the guy who was in there chopping fuck out ye thinks he’s a hard man, because that’s obviously why he’s doing it”

Someone who is undoubtedly ‘hard’ is the enigmatic PCO. PCO was once one half of early-mid 90s WWE tag team The Quebecers and has continued to hold an influence on wrestling to this day. Recently performing in the prestigious Battle Of Los Angeles for PWG as well as having an eye catching match with Walter at Wrestlemania weekend a year earlier. To be doing some of the things he does at 50 after having a career most people would be able to draw a line under and be proud of takes something. It takes a love for pro wrestling and that was something that shone through in PCO when he and Jester spent some time together on the camps. An attitude that has no doubt carried in to Jesters work with the GPWA, and surely must serve as some kind of inspiration for the future, because if a guy like that who’s done everything still wants to crack out a moonsault to entertain folk, he’s built a bit differently. There’s a love there for this wrestling carry on that somehow has not been tinged with bitterness and regret over time.

“PCO is another guy I met at all star, but he’s an absolute workhorse. Carl’s been about forever and hes had so many reasons to be disheartened by this,so many reasons to give it up. I mean he’s 50 now, when I met him at all star I was early 20s. By this point he’d done everything, but he always wanted to help others out. He was always trying to evolve himself as well and he’d try out different gimmicks every month but he was so forthcoming with anyone who needed help. Mason Ryan (former WWE wrestler) started out there and back then he just wasn’t getting it. He had the look and he was getting pushed to the moon, but there was a lot of things he was struggling with and Carl really tried to help him whereas a lot of the other more experienced guys would just tell him he was shite.”

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“There’s no point telling anyone they’re shite if you’re not going to give them any advice on how they can improve. He used to work him a lot and his gimmicks were so suited to that environment and suited to making Mason look good, so he’d give him different bits of advice on how to make the matches look good and what to do at certain times. He was so dedicated and just a lovely guy, so to see the stuff he’s doing now is great. The match with Walter was outstanding. He’s out there doing all these dives and moonsaults, sentons off the ropes and all this. He took so many chops his chest was black and this is Wrestlemania weekend. This is a 50 year old man. Folk are wondering “why the fuck is he wrestling Walter on one of these shows?” and he’s thinking “I’m gonnae show ye why”

Experimentation with different gimmicks seems to be another lesson Jester has drawn with working alongside PCO. An ability to adapt to any given situation, even if that adaptation is more to highlight your opponents strengths than your own, as PCO undoubtedly knew he was doing when he got involved in a chop war with Walter.

“That kind of chopping is a different story, Carl would let you know if a line was crossed, he would let you know if he wasn’t happy, but they just stood there and went toe to toe, chopping fuck out each other and it was cool to see. If the fans are reacting to it and its working for you, go at it all day”I enjoy it when its a back and forth, and you’ve got two guys who can really work and react to the crowd so they know exactly how long to go with it, then eventually one gives up and take the bump and the crowd goes wild for it. ”

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A deep seeded love for villainy seems to be ingrained in Jester. One of my favourite aspects of going to family shows was just how absolutely terrified the weans were of him. He doesn’t do that because he hates children and wants to be in their nightmares (well….maybe a wee bit) he does that because if they’re going to experience a wrestling show the right way, they need the baddies. They need the guy with the scary eye who comes out looking homicidal and clatters his corkscrew off the barrier right in front of you as he walks past. You need the guy who’s going to jump the barrier and chase the team of wee guys round the perimeter of the Paisley Lagoon.

“I love being a villain at family shows. I love being the guy to wind the weans up and give them a fright. You’ll get wee guys giving you stick, and usually take a few steps past them before I turn round and shout something back. You’ve got to make them believe you’re the villain. I’m no being a dick. If folk ask me for a photo I’ll gladly take it, but ask me when I’m a babyface. Don’t ask me to do this stuff when I’m trying to be the devil. ”

Jack Jester – Star of film and television

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Along this journey Jack Jester and ICW have been on, there’s been vital moments along the way. Things that have helped the company grow to what it is today. Putting exposure on what they do to a wider audience of people who aren’t necessarily interested in wrestling. In fact, a lot of them probably think its a bit daft. That fake shit yer auld uncle used to like before he got intae the boxin’. A real mans sport. The British Wrestler documentary with Vice was the first time ICW was really put on a platform for a wider audience to see. Leading to Insane Fight Club and Insane Fight Club 2 on the BBC

“It was the first time I became synonymous with one product. I’d need to watch it again. We all went down for the premier then we went back down and done this wee show in a working mens club to kinda promote it. We filmed that video and just had a laugh, Grado talking about his pieces being an embarassment compared to mine. ”

The Vice Documentary lead to an infamous road video filmed on Mark Dallas phone when the crew went down to see the premiere of the film. A chaotic couple of days ensued fuelled by misery, cocktails, good pieces and megabuses.

“I don’t like London. I’m more likely to knock back work down there because it drains ma soul man. We were only meant to be a small part of that but the guys realised we had something and made us the main focus. It was back in the earlier days so it was when we were first getting a bit of momentum. It was funny because we watched it and we didn’t know till later that Alan Rickman was behind us the whole time. Grado was having to go up and talk about stuff and all that and we were all heckling. They put on this small show as sort of an example of what we do. It was in this wee pub in Bethnal Green. It was like it was frozen in time from the 60s or something man. The barmans telling ye he’s done a life stretch for murder. It was just us down in London causing it lately. It gave us a wee bit of a sort subculture status online”

When Insane Fight Club was first released Jack Jester became a celebrity overnight. His storyline of becoming ICW Champion in front of his Dad watching him wrestle for the first time was the perfect complement to the stories told by Mark Dallas and Grado and really built up the achievement as something special for Jack Jester as a wrestler and a person. It mattered and that came across, helping show reach unprecedented levels of success.

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“With Insane Fight Club we all has a meeting to start off. It was a guy called Adrian McDowell who directed it. It was so full on. We filmed it over the course of a year but it was all the time. Every show. Honestly I think he ended up with 150 hours of footage and its for a one hour show so it was so full on. Going in to all out backstories. Then Grado became a big focus of it because he was kinda the every man. The funny guy. Like when we first started getting recognised, he used to go on about it being a pain in the arse, and I wouldn’t mind it, and that’s because when they come up me they’re a bit intimidated or maybe they’ll just politely ask for a photo or something, but with him they’re coming up to him and jumping on his back and all that because he made them feel like he was their pal. He had that appeal”

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“When it was coming on the TV we all piled into my grans, my mum, my sister and everyone. We’re all buzzing and Grado’s like ‘My Ma’s shiteing herself, she’s sitting here with the dishtowel over here heid n everything’ because obviously she was in it as well. It was meant to be just BBC Scotland but it went on the network. They were originally aiming to hit 100k for the views and I’m pretty sure we topped over a million on that first night. Me and Dallas went out to celebrate it and that’s when you proper started noticing it. You’re walking down streets you walk down all the time but you can overhear folk talking about it, and you’re wondering if you’re supposed to turn round or just pretend you’ve not heard it. Especially looking how I do when you go out, I dress a bit different and with the big earrings and the beard etc, its hard to miss me. That was when I got a wee taste of that jealousy Grado because folk are a bit put out at the extra attention I was getting, but I don’t get it. If more folk are recognising me or any of us, that means more eyes is getting on the product YOU work on.”

Then came the next one. Having recently welcomed Drew Galloway home it was time to make the best of his glorious presence and one aspect of that would be including his story in the sequel. A further look in to ICW and how it had grown since the first documentary aired and the resulting success.

“The second one was more focused on us touring and trying to promote stuff for that. A lot of stuff didn’t make the cut actually, like we had an eating competition etc. We had Toal in a pram at some point. Going to Brookside was the best though. I couldn’t believe, folk live there man. It’s an actual place. The best thing was, Jimmy Corkhill was there. Folk are just going about their business as usual, looking out their window’s and seeing Jimmy Corkhill there…..in Brookside. Grado’s giving it ‘its like cuttin aboot wae Bieber’ because you’ve got folk flooding out their houses to get photos taken and all that. It was just madness. Drew was involved with that so we got into the backstory with me and him a bit more leading up to The Barrowlands”

It allowed a wider audience to see a bit more of the story that captivated British wrestling at that time as Drew and Jester barrelled towards their ICW Title match at Fear and Loathing.

“Drews mum had recently passed so it went in to that a bit. She was like my mum as well whenever I’d stay there, obviously I wasn’t from there so when I’d stay I wouldn’t know how long I’d be there. I always had a great relationship with his family. Both documentaries done amazing things for us. In terms of bringing eyes in, it was so important. We didn’t want wrestling fans to watch it, or well we knew they would anyway, but we needed to do enough interesting things where if folk were flicking through the channels they’d stop and go ‘wait a minute, whats this?’ It was amazing because before that we were just this wee company who ran nightclubs in the town. We had popularity. We had this kinda subculture status and even back then we could tell we had something, but after the Fight Clubs I had auld women coming up to me knowing who I am, and even if they’ve no watched it or they don’t know exactly what I do but we became more recognisable.”

“We worked with the same producers on both Insane Fight Clubs and then again on the new show we’re doing. Rogue To Wrestler. It’s a different thing in terms of us being the ones behind it as opposed to being the subject of it. It was difficult because there was the potential there to make it look a bit daft. We had to make sure we were doing it the right way and putting it across right, but we had no doubt the producers would do a great job on it. We’d built up such a rapport with them there was never any danger of that”

Insane Fight Club II - This Time it’s Personal

Armed with plenty of experience of at least being in front of the camera in a reality TV setting, Dallas and co had an idea of their own. They would be the ones driving the bus, instead of getting steamin up the back of it. They wanted to make a show of their own and the concept they came up with was rogue to wrestler. A show that would take down on their luck people who have maybe come from hard backgrounds and giving them the chance to turn their lives around with powerbombs n that. Instead of a one off documentary, it would be a series and having recently finished filming it Jester beamed with pride at the finished product.

“Its coming in February, what channel? we’re not sure yet, but we know it’ll be February. There’s going to be press about it starting from the new year. People are going to know what’s happening. The good thing about it is, with the Fight Club docs, we filmed for so long and got so much material, then once it was done that was it. It was over. With this, we’ve filmed three episodes. We gave them so many different challenges that led them to the point of being ready to go out and perform. The people involved had given us a rough idea of what had went on in their lives, and really this show’s about them, as opposed to the Fight Club ones being about us. We learned so much about them over the course of it and these people have ben through some tough stuff. So to see them put themselves out there and even take part in this has been amazing. Some of them suffer really badly from anxiety and things like that and it was impressive they even signed up. Dallas was laughing and even our producer was laughing when we watched it back because this is our TV show that we’ve filmed and I was literally on the edge of my seat watching it, wondering what was going to happen at the end. For anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on? Its going to be great. Honestly, I’m so, so happy with it.”

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One of the reasons they were so over the moon with it was the light it shone on Glasgow. A positive, uplifting story of people changing in front of your very eyes through wrestling. Obviously the main point is to entertain folk but the work everyone involved put in to it wasn’t to make something throwaway or daft. This is a project they really believe in.

“Even on my days off I’d come in here and film cut aways. We did so many daft things to help the process. Its very Glaswegian. We filmed daft wee things to help add to it all. Stuff like guys sitting on the grass at half 2 in the afternoon in George Square and all that. But its good. Its funny. We laughed all the way through it and by the end, I honestly couldn’t thank them enough. Jen and Elspeth who spearheaded the whole thing (producers) have seen it many times now and love it, but the big boss who took a lot of convincing just to make it at all, absolutely loves it now. She just didn’t get it, but she was balling her eyes out watching it. The whole team were so engrossed in the filming, it was nice to see. At times in that industry there can be a bit of disconnection between what you’re filming but when we went into their offices all the name tags are changed now to wrestling personas. Things like “Mad Dog” Egan and all that. It took over their whole office for a while. Its great. The work they done considering we filmed it with very little in terms of cameras and equipment. Its came across really well and all my fears and my nerves about it have kinda gone now. I’ve seen it and I can relax. Now I can push it to the moon because I know its good and I’m just dying for folk to see it.”

“It makes ICW look great as well. All the different shots at the venues we run, especially The Hydro. They really put over the skill of wrestling and the seriousness that it takes to be good at it. These people had never done anything wrestling related before. One person hadnt even watched it ever. So to see their attitudes change was amazing. They went in with the attitude “its fake, how hard can it really be?” so it was good to see that slowly change and for that to come across on screen.”

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As much as it showed ICW in a positive light it also gave folk a wee peek at how things are done at GPWA. The school Jester and Lionheart both have a hand in running and the school where that hilarious photo of them doing DDP yoga poses above was taken. The show gave the audience a look at how the coaches sync up and apparently a lot of that syncing comes from synchronised stretching.

“The dynamic between me and Lionheart was interesting to see as well. We do this all the time, but we’re different people. We’ve got a similar mindset when it comes to how we approach it but it was interesting to see how we differ. There are times where he’s in the ring doing drills and stuff and I’ll be on the floor or on the apron and when folk are feeding out, I’m giving them advice before they rejoin the queue. It was interesting to see that all play out. The fact that the people who made it are so in love with it means a lot. THEY cannae wait to get it out, so its great to have the might of them behind us. Its our first jaunt into formatted TV so its great to have that confidence in what we’ve produced from the people who made it. It’s about the people who have been part of the show. Its about the “rogues” and our role is presenting the show as best we can and helping them get their stories across. We gave them an experience that they’ll never get again and never could. Without sounding too dramatic, it really has been a life changing thing. You can see people change in front of your eyes in the process of it. People start to look better, talk better, feel better, and these are people who have been through some proper heartbreaking things. Utterly heartbreaking. Because we’re dealing with real lives and real people, it comes across differently than if it was just a group of wrestling trainees. It had to be approached in a certain way because if we in any way looked like we were trying to set these people up and make them look silly. It would make us look like bullies.”

There was also misconceptions as to what the show was going to be in general. When the ad went up initially there was a rush of eager wrestling fans wanting to sign up but that wasn’t what they were looking for. People assumed it would just be a bunch of criminals having a wrestle. Not the case. They were looking for people who just needed an opportunity in any form. The less you know about wrestling the better, because you’re sure as hell going to find out this is serious and the seriousness it takes to make a career in this happen came across every well.

“I think when people heard the title “Rogue to Wrestler” they were thinking along the lines of us taking someone who’s just out the jail for something serious and putting them on display. We can’t do things like that because then you’re almost glorifying it, and what is the poor victim going to think about that? Sitting in the house watching the person who assaulted you have this life changing experience? So it’s definitely not along those lines. Its about folk who have had a tough time who want to better themselves, and show folk “this is me now” and I’m really really happy with how it’s turned out. Its been great to be a part of and I’m just so impressed and excited with how its been put together. Its been nice to sit back and see the finished product and not feel like we could have done certain things better or even just differently because they’ve done an immense job putting it together. People worked over their hours to make it what it is and I can’t wait for folk to see it”

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Its a simple enough concept and one that was a continued theme throughout an interview that wound up spanning 4 hours after initially being scheduled for 1-2. Take wrestling seriously. That doesn’t mean don’t enjoy it and have a laugh with it, but take it seriously. Get good at it and don’t get pissed off if it doesn’t happen for you right away because the chances are, it not happening for you right away is the best possible thing for you. You have to learn as you go. It takes a lot of graft to get to ICW and to get to the required level you need to be willing to graft.

“I’m protective of ICW because we’ve built something here, and I hate seeing anyone come in who I don’t think should be there. Taking it for granted, and moaning about being asked to do things. If you’ve been about for a long time, you get your say, we all have a moan, but folk who are quite frankly not giving it everything when they’re lucky to be there in the first place. You need to give it absolutely everything. I’m no saying go out and hurt yourself, but give it everything you’ve got. They watch the fans react to the established guys”

“If you cannae adapt to new things, you cannae work. I’ve never wanted to be a sympathy booking or just considered part of the furniture. I’ve always took pride in being able to change it up and give people something to think about it. If you had your favourite dinner every single night, you’d end up craving just about anything else. Doing the same thing over and over never works. You need to give people something to be invested in”

The reactions Jack Jester is getting right now as part of The Kinky Party is ample proof that he’s nae sympathy booking. He’s not just there because that’s the way it’s always been, he’s there because he and Sha are vital cogs in an ICW that is telling some of its most engaging stories in years. No Kinky. No Party.

Massive thank you to David J.Wilson for fishing out some cracking shots for me. Also thank you to Warrior Fight Photography. Hope Wrestling. ICW. Jack Jester’s official facebook page, the internet, I think some of the photos are from The Herald? Some folks phones. You get the jist. A lot of good photos

An Interview With Jack Jester – Part One. Becoming Jack Jester. ICW Champion

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Across its history ICW has had a few mainstays. The building blocks that make a company recognisable at every stage of its growth. The franchise players. The ones having to put up with being side eyed and told their success is a by-product of their friendship with the owner and nothing to do with their unquestionable talent. Among the most vital of those building blocks over the years has been Jack Jester. Many of the ICW and Scottish Wrestling’s biggest moments have had him in the middle of it. Corkscrew in hand, unapologetically causing it as either a hardcore bastard, a right nasty bastard or most recently, a kinky bastard. Aside from that, without him reaching out to Mark Dallas back in 2010, with an idea that only an adult orientated show could handle, ICW as we know it today might not even exist at all. After becoming immersed in the local BDSM scene thanks to meeting one of his best pals who would go on to become his wrestling valet, the idea was born for “Scotlands” Lee Thomas to become the Jack Jester we know today.

“It came in stages, the character obviously takes years to build over the years as you find things and add things to it over the years. Before that, Scottish Wrestling was bare. There was nothing there. It wasn’t as bad as it had been maybe 15 years or so ago, but when you look back at the quality of it, there was nothing there. So to make any sort of money, you had to go on the camps.”

Jester’s induction to the camps happened completely by accident after future Black Label comrade and good pal Red Lightning done something so daft that only a potent mixture of youthful exuberance and red-blooded patriotism could be blamed.

Jestttttttt “Red Lightning was part of the Scottish camp team and he, when travelling back up on one of his days off, insisted on getting his photo taken on top of the ‘Welcome To Scotland’ sign…and he fell aff it! *laughs*. So he was out injured and I got the call and asked if i could replace him for a while on that. It was my 18th birthday, and I went to Weymss Bay Holiday Park, and I just remember it being scariest thing. Not because I was nervous for the shows, but because I walked out and there was about 4 or 5 folk there. I’d been wrestling for a wee while up until that point, obviously starting out with BCW. Which wasn’t at the level it is now but they still ran the same venues. Actually, if I remember right, I ditched my prom date to wrestle at the Kilmarnock Grand Hall” *laughs*

Persuading the poor lassie to maybe patch the prom altogether to watch her potential date do a bit of wrestling wouldn’t have been as appealing as it might be now when BCW consistently pack out these venues. A different time. A different, altogether less Jestoooglamorous set-up but it would have taken huge commitment to give up a once in a lifetime experience. Or maybe the burd was just heavy annoying. In any case, it caused Jester to develop a bit of a love/hate relationship with the venue that would go on to be the scene of some of his biggest matches. Including an official shot at Drew Galloway’s TNA World Title. “I’m sure there was about 50 folk there and you could imagine how dire that would’ve been for a venue that size. I always had a love hate relationship with the Grand Hall as its incredible now. Graeme obviously gets the stage now for the bigger shows and the setup is a lot better. Back then everything felt a bit flung together. I’m all of nothing when it comes to character. If I didn’t feel it was right or it wasn’t clicking I’d be more inclined to say take me off shows, because I wasn’t comfortable. I was off and on, and coming up with all sorts of stupid names and all that. Looking back on some of the photos and stuff I don’t know what I was thinking”

“Scotlands” Lee Thomas

“The camps became a thing I done every year after that. I moved from Haven to Allstar. At that point I was still Jack Jester on the camps, butleeee when I went to all-star, they took that away from me. Made me wear a kilt, wave a Scotland flag etc. I was there to replace Drew essentially after he got signed. I ended up working for them on and off for years. I moved to Liverpool and I lived there for most of the year, just coming back every now and then, but I didn’t take any other bookings anywhere, because it was the type of situation where if I asked for 2 days off to come up to Scotland for a show, you’d likely get a call as soon as you get here saying ‘just come back in 2 weeks’ and you’d end up losing a lot of money”

Before the journey to becoming the hardcore icon happened, Jester learned his craft in his early days when he was based in Liverpool for most of the year. The type of sacrifice that showed a huge amount of faith in his own ability, but one that was also a necessary part when it came to learning your craft back then. There wasn’t an abundance of training schools or experience to be gained on your doorstep. As a result, despite being limited already, the Scottish wrestling scene had to do without Jack Jester for a while before his ICW re-genesis came about.

“I was gone from Scotland for years at that point, and then I had this idea (for ICW). The idea came about organically as I’d recently got involved in that scene (BDSM). I’d met Lolly, we hit it off and became best mates. Obviously you know it exists, watching it on the tele and all that when you maybe shouldn’t have been. Things like Eurotrash, Sexcetera and all that. You know that there’s alternative scene that no one knows about, where everything is very secretive. All of a sudden through hanging about with her, I’d become immersed in this scene, and I was meeting all these folk that were so open, so friendly and maybe the first time I’d ever met folk who were completely sure about who they were. People who were proud to say this is me and that’s it, and that really opened my eyes up. If I hadn’t been introduced to that scene and put in environments and situations like that I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am now. I would never have known there was this different side to the world essentially”

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Becoming Jack Jester – The Hardcore Icon

Being exposed to this enlightened world where the people in it aren’t riddled with self-doubt gave Jester an idea. He needed to get on the phone to a certain Mr Dallas who had run a few shows under the name “Insane Championship Wrestling” a few years earlier before putting the company on hiatus. There was only one company and one promoter where this character could see the light of day in Scotland. It needed to be an adult audience and back then that sort of thing was a rarity.

“I started to come up with the bare bones of this character and I thought “There’s no way I can apply to anywhere else bar an adult company” and they weren’t ten a penny back then. Even now they aren’t. I phoned Dallas, and at that time I didn’t know what the look would be or any of that. I had Lolly as my valet and she was the dominatrix, and it was almost as if I was this kinda guy who was just hanging out with her while she done that stuff. I was adamant it wasn’t going to be a hardcore thing even though I had always enjoyed that type of wrestling. Mick Foley/Cactus Jack was the reason I started to enjoy wrestling in the first place. At that time I was adamant I would never do it until I had earned my stripes. Until I could work. Until I had learned wrestling. When its done badly I can’t stand it. If you’re in there doing hardcore stuff, and you’re ring positioning is shite, and you’ve no footwork, it’s never going to look good. If you can’t do the basics you’ve got absolutely no right hitting someone with a chair, or putting them in to thumbtacks”

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The first taste of the more ‘adult’ version of Jack Jester we seen today took place in Maryhill and while he had an idea of where he wanted the whole thing to go, there were some teething problems in the early days, or ‘randomly paddlin’ guys arses’ problems to be more precise, but once they worked out the kinks, they came up with something that drew a reaction never really seen before at least locally. Having a manager with a very particular skill set started to come in handy as Jester began to flesh out this character over time.

“The first time I ever done the BDSM thing was in the smaller hall in Maryhill that we run now with GPWA. It was against William Grange. I was feeling like there’s no point in having Lolly just beside me unless she’s involved. There’s no point having anyone with you if they’re no doing anything, be it a valet or a domanatrix valet in this case. Even in cases when I’m working with someone with a valet, I’ll always come up with something to involve them, otherwise, what are they there for? So Lolly came oot, she had a paddle, she had a noose, and she used to come out and just randomly start paddling guys arses and all that *laughs*. I had to keep saying to her, I know what you’re trying to do, but stop just randomly doing it during the matches, cause I’m trying to get something across in the ring, and no ones watching me because you’re out there randomly paddling guys arses” *laughs*

When the arse paddlin subsided they collectively realised Lolly had a skill few others could replicate or indeed regurgitate. She could spew on command, and when you chuck some red food colouring in the mix, and hunners of cider, you’ve got yourself the recipe for a good old-fashioned blood spew “Lolly could make herself sick. So we came up with something using that. I was backstage, this is right before I come out, I’m back there feeding lolly with pancakes covered in red food colouring and she’s washing it down with cans of Strongbow. I’m sure if I remember right, I threw Grange out the ring, and Lolly just toddled over, threw her hair to the side…it was so eloquent *laughs* and all this red stuff comes pouring out all over Grange. He was a good sport and let me do it. The reaction was like nothing I’d ever heard before. They weren’t cheering, they weren’t booing, they weren’t laughing, it was like a mixture of everything. There was guys wanting to react but couldn’t because their burds were there. Parents walking out with their kids. That’s when we realised….we’ve got something here. We might not know exactly what it is yet, but we’ll make something out of it. Over time it was more about me starting to look more the part. That was when I ditched the colourful gear, grew my beard etc. Its taken a long time to just fine tune it. What I am now didnt happen because I’d planned it. Things just stuck and I added things on and it grew over time”

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An important aspect to Jester and something that anyone going down the path of doing hardcore stuff should consider was looking the part. If you don’t look like someone who can survive getting scudded over the napper with a barbed wire bat you have no business wielding one yourself, as he went on to explain.

“I didn’t want to do it until I looked old enough as well. If I started out and immediately wanted to do all that shit it would have looked daft. I’d have been a wee boy, doing stupid shit and at that point I wasn’t clued up as to when I needed to hold back. Even on the camps, I used to drop elbows off the apron every single night. Twice a day. I used to get thrown off the stage on to the concrete and this is for folk who are barely paying attention. I was young and I was fulla beans and I just wanted to go out there and do this stuff. I also didn’t have anyone telling me not to do it. I was on this team with guys in their 30s, and 40s who have been doing this a long time and no one was telling me otherwise. ”

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He has no trouble imparting a bit of wisdom on his trainees but he maybe sees a bit of himself in the ones with the youthful exuberance to go ahead with it and ignore his advice anyway. They would be wise to heed the advice of someone who learned their craft back in a day where good advice wasn’t easy to come by. Someone who’s made the mistakes before and learned from them, but if people don’t want to listen, there’s only so many times you can repeat yourself

“I will tell folk that, although at times they choose to ignore me. If you’re fundamentals aren’t right. Your footwork, intensity, your striking isn’t there, then I’m not impressed when you jump off a balcony. What am I impressed about? Anyone can do it. Sure it takes a set of balls to do it. I’m not denying that at all. Not everyone will do it, but anybody CAN do it. If you don’t time it right, and do it in the right places where people care about it you’re going to crash and burn eventually. Ignore my advice all you want.”

While hardcore wrestling is a big part of Jack Jesters story, he has standards when it comes to putting these matches together. Its an art and even if its one you don’t particularly enjoy as an individual its a craft you can undoubtedly appreciate when its done well. Something Jester has continually prided himself on throughout his career. Tell a story. Don’t bleed for nae reason. Don’t take putting your body through such heavy trauma lightly. Time it right.

“I never wanted to be a garbage wrestler either. I’ve never been a fan of weapons just being everywhere and guys pulling stuff out from under the apron for the sake of it. I was always more a fan of the Cactus Jack, Terry Funk kind of style. More than say, The Sandman. I mean there was a time and a place for him and all that but he’s always kinda annoyed me. I’ve got certain standards when it comes to hardcore matches and I think it comes from looking up to guys like Foley and Funk. I don’t like things like wrestling in jeans and a t-shirt…just because it’s a hardcore match. If that’s your look, fair enough, but I’ve never liked changing it just for that type of match. Terry Funk always wore his tights, so I always wear mine. Another thing I don’t particularly like is lightubes. I just don’t like the look of it. If you’re going to put yourself in a position to get hurt, it should look like it actually does hurt. I want folk to believe I’m putting my safJestdownety on the line. I just draw a line at some stuff. The death match tournaments and stuff now just isn’t for me. Maybe in the past, I always wanted to go to Japan and do death matches but when I look at it now, there’s no way I would. If I was allowed to work my style of hardcore match then fine, but I don’t know how much of a reaction it would get because everyone’s doing all this crazy stuff. People are hitting themselves with these light tubes and no selling it, then when the opponent hits them with it, and all of a sudden its sore. When there’s broken glass all over the ring and you’re doing pinning combinations on it but not feeling the glass, then all of a sudden you take a move on it and the glass is sore again. You’re rolling about in broken glass. You should be selling that constantly. For me its a case of it missing a story at times now, and you’re just sitting waiting on the next big thing to happen without really paying attention to the bits in between”

Looking up to the likes of Foley and Funk breeds a need for authenticity. A need for it to feel real. If you don’t look like you’re a wee bit mental, don’t be flying through tables. Don’t be getting chucked on to thumbtacks. Tell a story through the art of being a mad bastard or don’t bother at all. The infamous match in 1995 in Japan between Cactus Jack and Terry Funk where both men left in ambulances serves as a measuring stick and almost a manual on how to push that type of match to the absolute limit while managing to tell a story in the process. A story etched in blood stained barbed wire and two best pals forever bonded by what could only be described as some kind of mutual murder pact.

“Foley and Funk in the King Of The Death Match tournament is the prime example. I still watch that and believe it to this day. I believe these guys were killing each other. Funk’s head is taped up, Cactus arm is taped up, its dark, they’re fucking things up, and you can just feel this atmosphere. I’m frightened watching it. I’m sitting wondering how they must have felt, after wrestling death matches all day, and then doing that to each other to finish it off. Going out there when you’re already severelyhhhh injured, knowing you’re going out there to injure yourself way worse than you already are. Watching it back, you know this is going to happen and you still get sucked in, and if I’m caring about now when it was nearly 30 years ago, you’ve done your job. Mick always had this way about making me care about him. He wasn’t doing loads of different big spots all the time, but if he done something it always meant something and helped tell the story. Like when The Rock took that chair to his head at the Royal Rumble. That match was planned out in stages, but they did it until it was too much. They pushed it as far as it would go. Folk loved him. They cared about HIM. It made me feel things I’d never felt before. I’ll never forget when Triple H beat him in the cell, and he retired. My Ma kept me off school the next day. Because she knew, if anyone made a snide comment to me about it, I’d have fuckin wrecked the place. I’m no 8 year old here. This is high school *laughs* . Terry was the same. He had that respect. He’d go over the Japan and have the respect of that audience. He used to just snap at folks ankles, and run at them, he literally personified a madman but yet he would never shy away from asking for help. This guy wasn’t trying to look like a hardman. He was just a normal guy, apart from the fact he was a mental case” *laughs*

The allure of characters who meshed an air of unpredictability with vulnerability is something that has influenced Jack Jester throughout his career to date. If you care so much about a character that his retirement keeps you off school the next day, this wrestling thing exists somewhere deep down inside you. Its ingrained. It matters. Taking all these eye catching risks means very little if the person taking them doesn’t show a human side and make it seem like putting themselves through this ordeal is as terrifying as it looks. That legitimacy is lost when people don’t make the effort to make things look like they hurt. Call out for help when your arm is falling off like any normal person would. Kidding on you’re robocop and no selling a steel chair to the skull isn’t the right way to do it. Were aw flesh and bones. Act like it.

Jester9“One of my favourite photos is of him (Funk) all cut up, barbed wire bat in his hand, his t-shirt all torn and hanging off and you look at that and go ‘thats scary as fuck’ . Leatherface is MEANT to be scary, but he’s no. It’s no real. Terry’s just a mental case and that IS scary. He comes across as a legit nutjob. These two guys just went out there for each other, and tried to create a memory. There wasn’t a lot of folk there but the potential for folk to see it down the line was massive. I do get disheartened at times with hardcore wrestling now and I feel I probably got away from it at the right time. You’ve got feuds like myself and Mikey (Whiplash) that I hold in high regard. Its been 7 years since our first match in ICW. I’ve known Mikey for years. Since travelling with all-star. We travelled together for years, and I fuckin hated him. I really didn’t like him. Because he was an arsehole *laughs* he was. Mikey’s one of my best pals now, and by the time that we had worked for ICW, we realised we had a lot of stuff in common, and it felt daft. How did we manage to travel together for so long and be in the same company and all that not once realise we were the same person almost? *laughs*. It was like…we’re just different folk. Mikey had been in this bubble for so long back then, so he had his pals and that was that. I was young and just wanted an easy life so I shut my mouth and got on with it.”

Jester vs Whiplash – Becoming ICW Champion

Despite the rocky start to their relationship the pair became synonymous with each from the moment Whiplash stepped through the door. Kindred spirits who went on to become good pals whilst maiming each other on a semi regular basis. A unique and altogether sare relationship but one that saw a formidable bond happen in the process as they started to notice their similarities. Similarities that led to a chemistry in the ring that produced some of the best matches ICW have ever had. Even if their first match took place in not so ideal circumstances that almost forced them into straight up battering fuck out each other. Leading to a rivalry that was as much about winning wrestling matches as it was just managing to survive them.

JestWhip “Mikey debuted his transvestite character in his first match. This wasn’t announced at all. Everyone was expecting this tights and boots wrestler, folk were in shock. He had like a black shiny raincoat on, and he came out with this pink balloon he just found in the venue on the day. We broke the ring almost instantly. I hit him with a bulldog and the beam snapped *laughs*. We were second last on so that’s how the first ICW Street Fight came about, because the ring was broke. That’s when you had Wolfgang throwing folk into busses on the street and all that. Me and Mikey kinda winged it, that was the first time I’d ever had my arm attacked. Lolly had turned on me at this point and she was holding my arm while he carved it. Me and Mikey always had a mutual sorta goal for this kind of match, lets build it around 2 or 3 big moments, but don’t do it until we know the timing is right. If the timing is never right, and it never feels right, just don’t do it. There’s no point in throwing stuff away. Say I’m going to take a Finlay Roll into a barbed wire board. If we’ve not got them (the crowd) at that point? Just dont bring the board out. Because I’m no taking it just because we’ve spoke about it beforehand if its not right. There’s always wee things that we know are there if we need them. Me and Mikey were always good for pushing each other. We never put limits on it. It was always a case of doing it and seeing where it takes us, and when the crowd didn’t want to see me or him get hit again that’s when we’d stop. You have to take to the limit to know what the limit is.”

They formed a trust based on pushing each other to the limit physically and producing matches that were not for the squeamish. But it wasn’t blood and guts for the sake of it. It was two guys who managed weave a story that spanned more than two years, the final chapter being written with Jester taking the title from Whiplash at Fear and Loathing in 2013. Captivating the ABC in a blood soaked contest that saw Jester complete an arduous journey to the top of the company he had invested so much of his career in.

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“We built that understanding up over the course of the matches we had, and the thing is, he always beat me, always won, right up until the culmination at Fear and Loathing in the ABC where I won the belt from him. I knew by that point the time was right. Dallas had told me on a few occasions “I’m going to put the belt on you” and as often happens in wrestling, plans would change, and I was ok with that, you don’t need to give me a date that it’s happening you know what I mean? if you do that and it doesn’t happen then I’ve been working towards nothing. When its right, its right. That’s how wrestling is. People don’t really see that sometimes. Plans change. Things change. You have to roll with the punches. People who moan about having opportunities dangled in front of them then taken away? Cry me a river. If the opportunities come your way, make sure you take them, and if they don’t? Shut up. You’re not entitled to anything. Earn it.”

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“That match got out of hand quick. Mikey really dragged me through that. I was gone. He gave me just the right amount of time to recover and catch my breath, because I was starting to pass out from the blood loss. I still don’t know how it happened, I can only assume there was a can or something sharp on the table he flung me on to, but I’ve never felt anything like it. I could just feel it running. It had taken us so much time to get there and at that point I’m thinking I’m not going to make it through this.”

But he did. Thanks in no small part to the guy he was in there with. There’s few who could have handled the situation the way Whiplash did and instead of the match being a struggle, it became an iconic moment in the history of ICW and Jack Jesters career. With his auld man watching for the first time in his career, Jack Jester was the man. This was his time to lead the company forward at a vital time in its growth and the moment might not have been so special had it not been for Whiplash pulling Jester to the epic conclusion the match had that made the moment what it was.

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“There’s not many folk who could remain calm in that situation and push me to get to the end, so the stars aligned with me being in there with Mikey. The temptation was there to just take it home and end it early, but if he had done that, it wouldn’t have been the moment that it was. He made me get to the end. That’s one of the biggest reactions I remember because it wasn’t even like a wrestling “pop”. It was people who’d seen the journey to get to that point thinking ‘Well in, you’ve done it’. Make them want about it. Make them care about it when it happens, because when you’re thrust into that situation before you’re ready for it, its brutal. Having the ICW Title is a lot of pressure. It made me ill eventually because I had it for so long. You’re on last every show. Pressure to go out and perform every time. I personally used to let the pressure fall on me because if the show wasn’t busy, in my eyes it was my fault. I know it isn’t actually like that, but I feel like if you don’t think like that, you’re not giving it enough.”

The years of investment in Whiplash and Jesters story is something that’s a bit of a lost art in wrestling these days. The involvement of the biggest prize in ICW came a wee bit down the line as Jester and Whiplash were the final two in ICW’s second ever Square Go match. Whiplash eliminating Jester and going on to take the title from Red Lightning before Jester finally got his shot 6 months down the line when ICW sold out the ABC in their second time running the 1,000+ capacity venue.

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“People were invested in that story for such a long time and it doesn’t happen anymore. Folk want everything to happen fast. They want to win this, win that, in the shortest amount of time possible. No one cares if you’re just winning everything. Its little more than an ego trip if that’s all you do. Mick Foley wasn’t a big ‘winner’. He was a guy who made you care. He went in there and burst his arse. When he did win, people were overjoyed. They were happy for him as a person. People backstage were genuinely happy when he won his WWE Titles. The locker room just emptied and you had him up on DXs shoulders and all that. Everyone was just happy for him”

When the adrenaline from winning the title eventually wore off Jack Jester the ICW Champion, became Lee needin his bed. Almost bleeding out on the ABCs floor is draining business but being the man comes with sacrifices. The sacrifice at that particular time was a lot of sleep and probably a few stitches in favour of a tried and tested home remedy and well….booze. A lot of booze.

“We were filming for Insane Fight Club at that time, and I remember after it we had to film the afterparty. I was half deid and Dallas tells me this. I’m thinking I need to go to the hospital, and he’s thinking ‘you dont need to go to the hospital, you need to go the Cathouse’ *laughs* so I remember being in the Cathouse, and I’d used my old trick where I’d put hairspray on the cut so it would conjeal, then put a bandana on it, and deal with it in the morning *laughs*. I remember being at the Cathouse bar. Falling asleep. Dallas giving me a wee elbow lit ‘cmon champ”

The Jester and The Homicidal, Suicidal, Death Defying mad bastard

One of the defining moments of Jesters title run came when a show ICW had announced in Edinburgh suddenly became the biggest crowd they had performed in front of to this date. Dave’s Not Here Man was initially supposed to be at ICWs usual smaller venue but rapid ticket sales when Sabu vs Jack Jester was announced meant a switch to the 1,100 capacity Picture House. A show that also saw a huge match at the opposite end of the wrestling spectrum when Grado wrestled Colt Cabana.

sabu_jack_jester_3“I wrestled Sabu that show and Grado wrestled Colt. That show was meant to be in Studio 24 actually but as soon as we announced me and Sabu, it sold out in 4 minutes or something, so we had to find a bigger venue for it. This is a long time in advance. To go from that size of venue to selling out something 1,200 capacity was a dream. Sabu was still this mythical guy. I’ll never ever get bored of Sabu. I’ll never not get a buzz from the fact that Sabu’s my pal *laughs* people don’t understand it because I’ve worked with him so often but it’s just surreal to me. I watched him and Cactus Jack wrecking casinos together in ECW, so to get the chance to pick his brains and spend time with him will never not be cool to me. ”

That match had the top billing at ICWs first ever four figure crowd and had the added stress of one half of the match being held up at the airport and not arriving until the second last match had started. Giving them just enough time for a quick handshake and exchange of pleasantries before one half of the match snapped a coathanger in half and tucked the sharp end on his boot. For future use in some sort of gouging incident over the course of a mental 20 minutes or so at the end of a landmark night for the company.

“I’d never met the guy and we heard he’d been held up at the airport. I already wasn’t in the best nick, I’d been out the night before and I fucked it. It was stressful as fuck. Matches go by and it gets to the one before we’re meant to go out. He’s still not there. Panic. He finally showed up, so I introduce myself and we really had no time to get any kind of plan in place. It was a case of me saying “I know what you do, this is what I do, lets wing it” kind of thing, and despite booking Sabu, Dallas didnae think to bring chairs *laughs* so the only chair we had is this bright pink folding chair that was all broke and just like normal catering chairs. The last thing I remember is him snapping a wooden coathanger, putting the spike in his boot, and saying “I’ll see you out there” and I’m thinking “fuck”. The whole time I know its in there, but he didn’t know I knew, so I’m just wondering when he’s going to pull this thing out. At that time he was one of my heroes and I wasn’t all that comfortable maiming him with the corkscrew but knowing him a bit better now, I definitely wouldn’t hold back *laughs* One of the coolest things and no one thought he was there. The rumours were swirling about that he wasn’t there. People used to say he’d always no show and they assumed that had happened, then suddenly the drums for his music hit, and this unbelievable noise comes out. Even I was reacting. It was one of those moments where you’re just in awe”

A genuine appreciation for how Sabu remained dedicated to his character after years of putting his body through agony to gain his reputation in the first place stayed with Jester after that match. For better or for worse, he’s a mad bastard. He is homicidal, suicidal, and even with a burst hip he still defies death in a variety of ways. He lives it and even if his particular brand of wrestling isn’t for you, its hard not to respect someone who wants to give folk their moneys worth no matter what. If you pay for a ticket to see Sabu, you’ll get Sabu.

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“He always had that air of legitimacy about him as a genuine madman. When I worked him again at the ABC he’d been absolute doing me with my spike and all sorts. So I rolled out the ring for a break, and I don’t know where he got it from, but the next thing I know he’s standing over me with a massive ladder above his heid *laugh* I’m thinking, he’s pulled that out his arse or something. I swear he can sniff out tables. Honestly. I’ve wrestled him before and I’ve hid tables around the ring. So he can’t find them. Some nights its just not something you’re keen on, and if its like a pasting table, I won’t do it. I think it looks stupid. This promoter had a pasting table and I thought “nut, Its no happening” but I knew if he knew it was there he would use it, so I hid it. Of course he fuckin found it *laughs* set it up, and there it was. Sabu was so good at selling. He was always asking for help and holding his neck or his head. It all looked real. He learned from being around guys like Terry Funk and Foley when they were at their best. He basically took Cactus Jack and added acrobatics to it. He was fearless, and he lives up to his billing. I wrestled him and he’d separated his shoulder and broke his collarbone the night before and we’re telling him in the back he doesn’t need to do this. We can play it safer. He’s adamant that’s not how its going to happen. “People have paid to see Sabu” its hard not admire that. You do get folk who show up and they clearly can’t be arsed. People who don’t really do dangerous stuff and still come and half arse it, yet Sabu had the option of just not doing that and refused it. He’s a real enigma. A proper character and an absolute maniac.”

What is wrestling without folk like that? Your mad uncles that might ruin your birthday party but will always have the best stories whenever you can get 5 minutes of cohesive sentences out of them. That first match and their subsequent meetings have made them more than just guys that are pleasant to each other out of necessity. Jack Jester and Sabu are actual pals, two folk who come from such different backgrounds and have gone down two entirely different paths to get where they are in wrestling, somehow being drawn to one and other anytime they’re in the same country. If that doesn’t sum up the mad alternate universe the wrestling scene exists on, nothing will.

Part Two will be up tonight. I wanted to do it in one part but it was gonnae be heavy long so this means you’ll no get a sore arse sitting reading it in the one go. Don’t say I’m no good to yees. 

Thank you to David J.Wilson, who actually dug through his photos for some of the older shots. Very kind of him. Also thank you to Warrior Fight Photography. Thanks for all the photies guys. Your work is heavy appreciated. 

 

Wrestling With Depression- Character Development

JesterSha3Recently I done my first face to face interview for about 4 or 5 months. I realise its a bit odd to write a thing referencing that interview before the actual interview exists but sometimes ye just need to write what’s there. The interview will exist very soon and it’ll be deliciously wonderful (thats what she said). The buzz I felt when I left that interview with Jack Jester made me realise this is what I need to do. After a period of extremely poor mental health and not really having the impetus to fully immerse myself in this, suddenly it was back. Even if its never for a living. This is it. This is what makes me tick. Nothing else has ever gave me that feeling of accomplishment than stoating away from an interview knowing its going to be fuckin dynamite when its done. Listening to him absolute beam about the tag team with Sha Samuels and how much fun its been was a joy and honestly, I’m happy for them as people. As cheesy as that is, they have both at times looked like they’ve been weighed down by wrestling. Constantly under pressure due to the high standards that they demand of themselves. Yet here they are now. In this wee pocket of joy in the wrestling world absolutely loving their jobs. Loving a completely unplanned team and loving each other (JAAAAAAACK) and its lovely to see. Heartwarming.

Anyway, we’re taking a long road for short cut here. I’ve been no well pretty much since that interview. Dragged my weary arse to a show the following night and have been in my bed with a heavy chest infection ever since. Having the auld asthma has meant its kicked my cunt right in. Feeling like absolute dug muck. An unwelcome crash landing and its led to a really fucking testing week mentally and physically. Cant sleep, hardly eating, barely left the house, narrating this shitey feud between physical and mental no wellness and wondering what one is winning. Or are they both just knocking fuck out one and other, and in turn, me? Who cares. Point is, im on my arse right now and thats ok. Realising that’s ok has been a hugely significant thing. Sometimes it wont be easy. Sometimes some choppy waters need negated. Its all building blocks that make you what you are in the end.

Something Jester spoke a lot about that stuck with me was how characters develop in wrestling. His character had no plan. He had a vague idea of the direction and just asked to be trusted to go with it. Add wee bits as he went, take bits away that didn’t work, let it evolve. Its kinda stuck with me in the situation I and many others find myself in mentally all the time. This internal struggle between wanting to be your best self all the time and realising that’s not realistic and growing over time is the best way. For a long while I was ok. I wasn’t on any medication bar beta blockers. I felt good day to day. Went from being pretty certain I wanted to die for the better part of 10 years, to feeling content within a year. That year was filled with things I loved. Writing, wrestling, the fitba, writing about wrestling and fitba, being social, making new friends and getting closer to my existing ones. Doing the shit that made me the person I am. I turned my life around and made it worth living and its been filled with good things since. For a while I didnt hate myself. Slowly it started to fall away. We’re all made up of these wee bits we collect along the way in life. Wee trinkets that remind us where we’ve been and where we want to end up. That wee good spell is part of me now. I know its possible. Its there. It’s just finding it again that’s proving problematic. Calling it problematic is improvement because for a while there it felt impossible. Feeling like contentment is completely out of reach is an absolute sickener. It fucks with you. I have hope again and that’s good. Its not ok right now, I’m not ok, but a part of me believes I will be again one day and that’s a massive part of the battle. Realising that it doesn’t have to all fall in place and be perfect immediately is quite freeing. It will come if you work at it.

I’ve been to counselling, tried new meds, tried just getting on with life and hoping it eases. If I’m telling myself the truth, none of it has worked in the slightest this time. Nothing’s getting “over” (soz) so why stick with it if its no working? Why keep banging the drum is no cunt’s listening? Its time to get back to just doing the shit I love doing. I dunno if this is a moment of clarity or the moment where the last on my sanity slipped away on this page. I hope its the former. I hope this makes sense to someone. Anyone. I just want to be better and that analogy has really resonated with me. The best characters in wrestling aren’t the finished article on day one. Stunning Stevie Williams will tell ye that. Rocky Maivia will tell ye that. “Mean” Mark Callous would tell ye that. Even ma main man Isaac Yankem DDS would fill yer motor up with fake Diesel to attest to that. I’ve got so wrapped up in things not working and not getting better that I’ve completely floated away from the stuff that worked in the past. I’m a million miles from that nice wee fulfilling routine I had. Writing regularly. Not putting myself under intense pressure to make every single thing better than the last one. Its there. I just need to find it. None of this shit is working but that’s ok because eventually I’ll find the thing that gets the reaction I want. Or it’ll find me.

When the mental health goes haywire my brain feels like a connect the dots. All the parts are there. I know how to make it better. I know how to get on the right path and make it all make sense. But its scattered. All over the place. Disconnected. Ideas leave as soon as they enter. Encouragement vanishes right on the spot it appears in. I think I’ve really stumbled this past week because finally I found some light. I found my spark again and my body has heavy betrayed me. As my body has felt more and more depleted my mind has went with it. Asthma is a scary bastard when it gets bad. Fucker comes out of nowhere and shuts yer shit down. Zaps the energy right out you and that’s you on your arse. In my brain that has meant catastrophe when in reality is nothing more than setback. Like the 10+ years I spent hating every waking second of my life and wanting it to end. It passed. I learned from it and moved past it, and I will again.

Never let this shit beat you. All the sleepless nights. Looking in the bathroom mirror and despising the specky yeti looking back at ye. It’ll make me stronger in the long run. I’ll realise those bits are not needed and the bits that make everything tick will fall back into place. Its fuck all more than a setback. If you suffer from mental illness I’m no gonnae kid on I feel what you feel. No one feels truly the same as another when it comes to this. No two stories are the exact same.

When I first started to climb out of the depression hole I spent most of my teens and early 20s in, it felt like I’d lived my life locked away in the dark and suddenly the doors swung open and there it was. Light. I’m looking forward to seeing that light again. It might not be today, might not be for another 10 year for all I know, but it’ll come back.

 

 

 

 

Reviewing A Random Match On The WWE Network – Volume One

Concentrating on stuff I actually need to do has proved difficult as I’m hopped up on aw sorts of meds for a chest infection.

So I’ve fired on the grossly under-utilised WWE Network (totally cancelling it before Crown Jewel but, cause morals n that, totally wont re-subscribe the next day either) and fired on a random match in an attempt to remove writers blocks and maybe even start a fun new thing I might do aw the time. The match I’ve landed on is Bam Bam Bigelow vs One Of The Godwinns (official  name until one of the commentators says whit wan it is, but its definitely not the one who ended up being Mideon, so lets go with “Not Future Mideon” for a start) from In Your House 2. Back before they started giving the shows proper names. I mean they’re no really in your house are they? Who’s living room is big enough for a wrestling ring? Maybe Steven Seagal or Seal but they’re famous people. Your average everyday wrasslin fan just does not have the means to host a wrestling PPV. Even if they did, do they have foundations strong enough to contain a big time heavyweight contest like this one? I think not my friends.

Image result for bam bam bigelow vs henry godwinn

From what I gather this feud started because Bam Bam pished in Not Mideon’s slop bucket and the pigs have been giving him absolute pelters at the farm. “This slop tastes lit pish” they groan. Aw day long. Drives Henry bonkers (commentators finally said his first name, although I did like “Not Mideon” and he should consider it as a gimmick if he ever makes a comeback) so it does. Bam Bam is belligerent. Not giving a hint of a fuck. He pishes where he wants. Deal with it.

This was a strange time for WWE. They were almost in purgatory. Struggling money wise. Trying to negate some choppy waters. That leads to the odd match on a PPV that just really isn’t anything. Bam Bam Bigelow is one of the best big men to ever step into a ring so to have him about and be using him so shitely kinda says it all about this era. I’ve got a weird soft spot for it all though. Sometimes wrestling is at its most intriguing when its a bit shite and you can see the wheels turning with folk trying to make the best of it. That’s how it feels with Bam Bam here. He’s trying to get all his highly powerful athletic stuff to work, but he’s in there with a big dafty who cannae really dae anything. He chucks him into the steps before locking in a chinlock that felt years long before Bam Bam busts out a brilliant cross body at full speed that Godwinn completely no sells. Getting up a second later and immediately dominating again. Bam Bam Bigelow is fuckin 300 pounds of pure thuggery and yer bouncing right back up after he knocks the wind out you with a crossbody? C’mon now pal. Respect the process mate. Kid on yer ribs are a bit sare at least.

He finally starts to make Bam Bam’s stuff look sare, before moving out the road of a really laboured looking flying headbutt. Then suddenly its just over. Henry misses with eh…something off the ropes, and Bam Bam rolls him into a nonchalant pin and its all over and done with. 1995 WWE was a pure mess.

Thank you for your time. Tune in for the next instalment of “Reviewing Random Matches Off The WWE Network”

If there ever is wan.