Everyone loves an ICW Sunday eh. That sense of anticipation from the moment ye wake up. The license ye feel ye have tae pour a hauf at 9 in the morning. A temporary quencher for that yer unwavering thirst, but it’s no a thirst for further haufs (even though they will most likely be consumed over the course of the evening, if thats yer thing) it’s a thirst tae see a variety of, highly skilled, decidedly sweaty men, knock 11 shades of shite out each other. Orchestrated violence right on yer doorstep. Some of the best storytellers in the country gien ye yer fix for 12 quid a month. Old Firm derby type anticipation, except ye dont hate anycunt in the crowd cause they’re shirt is blue or green. The only wans ye really hate are the few wae howlin BO.
Considering Sunday is the day that has always been synonymous wae ICW, it seems odd now that perhaps their most significant hour will come on a Tuesday night. Tuesday 11th March 2014 tae be precise. The day where the whole nation gets tae see what we’ve all been seeing for some time now. The day where Gradomania runs wild from Possilpark tae Portsmouth. The day where Jack Jester makes digging oot cunts eyes wae a corkscrew mainstream once more. The day where the technical prowess and commitment to storytelling from the likes of Joe Coffey, Mikey Whiplash, Noam Dar, Wolfgang, Andy Wild, Lionheart, Jackie Polo, James Scott and Mark Coffey gets the exposure it’s always deserved. Tuesday 11th March is when it all changes. Insane Fight Club. 10.35pm. BBC One. Going out tae the whole fuckin nation. The Mark Dallas roadshow comes tae shoot its load aw over the UK. Get in amongst it or get left behind.
It was August 2012 when I had my first dalliance with ICW. A pal messaged me on Facebook one night enquiring if I’d like tae accompany him and a few others to a wrestling show. Like a lot of wrestling fans in their early-mid 20s, I wis following it but hadn’t been properly invested in a long while. All I knew about ICW wis that they had a show on some obscure SKY channel, they had a guy who worked with TNA and WWE in the past (Lionheart) and some patter about a wee guy who jumped the guardrail at the previous show, who makes funny youtube videos(Grado). So I was gaun intae the whole experience blind. Sceptical. It wis almost like a blind date wae a burd, but yer pals assure ye she’s a durty. Ye want tae go cause she’s durty, but yer hoping her diddies are symmetrical, and shes no hiding a wee boaby in there somewhere. Considering the only live wrestling event I’d been tae prior to this wis back when I wis 5, in the Bishopbriggs Town Hall, wae me and my big cousin deliberately cheering for aw the heels and laughing tae we just about pished ourselves when the guy billed as “Hawk for the L.O.D” came oot sporting 3 bellies, and had a hamlet cigar hingin oot his gub, I had just cause tae question the validity of professional wrestling in this country, but ICW proved to be a pleasant surprise tae me. I had nae idea Scotland had such a wealth of wrestling talent. It’s particularly startling when yer expecting tae see a lot of middle-aged fat guys crackin each other wae bin lids, and the first person ye actually see is Noam Dar. Who is essentially the complete opposite tae that. Noam Dar is basically whit ye’d get if ye mixed Daniel Bryan wae Taylor Lautner and added a dash of jew. His opponent wis an absolute bear of a man that went by the name of Wolfgang, who moved around the ring like he wis about a third of his actual size. That’s when I knew it wis for real. These cunts wurnae playing at running a professional wrestling company they were daein it. This was serious.
As good as the opener, and various matches throughout the night were, that wisnae what had me hooked. As much as I’ve grown tae appreciate the craft involved in the show from top tae bottom, in all honestly I might never have gone to another show if it wisnae for the the captivating tale ICW Champion Red Lightning told us with a certain wee guy fae Ayrshire that goes by the name of Grado. Grado had a TITUL SHOAT! in just his second ICW show, and in a ring which had come unstuck just a few minutes in, they carried a match that ye couldnae keep yer eyes off. At that time Grado wisnae the polished article ye see today in the ring (He does an F5 mate, and 60% of the time it works…every time) but there was something about the cunt that made ye care. He made ye buy in. That’s a huge part of what wrestling’s all about for me. If there’s nae underdogs then really, wheres the wonder in it? If ye want tae watch something where aw the biggest, most skilled guys win everything, watch boxing, watch MMA. Watch pub dominoes if thats yer thing, I’m sure one of the SKY channels probably shows it at 4 in the morning. If ye want stories? come tae ICW. Come and see Grado deliver the Wee Boot tae Red Lightnings face and get the 3 count tae become yer NEWWWWWW ICW CHAMPION. Watch as he bounces intae the crowd and gets pawed by 500 frenzied Glaswegians, and then watch as it all gets snatched away fae him on a technicality at the end of the show, when he’s dragged back out and made tae surrender the belt cause Red Lightning has proof that his foot was under the bottom rope when the Grado got his unlawful pin. Match restarted, Red hits the Michinoku Driver, and Red retains. I suppose that hurt would have prepared Grado for aw the near misses still tae come for him, but the feeling is bubbling away that one day it’ll aw come good for him. When he eliminated Chris Renfrew tae seemingly win the 2014 Square Go, we aw thought that was the moment, but instead Renfrew climbed back in, tossed Grado out became had 600 people call him a prick in unison. Some folk were legitimately close tae tears and that tells ye everything ye need tae know about the passion and emotional investment ICW evokes from its audience.
After that first show, I suddenly went from being a sceptic, tae wondering when the next show is, and whats next for this Grado character. I also wondered what became of that poor guy that I saw get his face gently caressed by a cheese grater in the Glasgow Street Fight that closed the show. His team won, so I knew he wisnae deid, but still, huvin yer face grated is gonnae leave a few hunner physical and mental scares I imagine, cause faces arent cheese. Cheese cant bleed.
It was quite clear that even then, when I had my cynical “this’ll probably be shite, but we’ll gie it a go anyway” heid on, that ICW had something. Scottish Wrestling in general had something, but there was something in particular about ICW that made ye give a fuck. It was character driven. There were storylines and feuds ye could get invested in. Unlike a lot of Indie promotions, they didnae rely on imports tae draw people in either, and when the imports have been brought in, its been due to them being the right fit. Fergal Devitt is quite possibly the best wrestler in the World right now, so bringing him in is a no brainer. His match with Wolfgang at next show I went tae was the one that hooked me intae ICW wrestling wise, if they had guys who could be in the ring wae Fergal Devitt and not look out-of-place then they must be doing something right. Guys like Sabu and Rhyno get yer regular punters through the door, whilst fitting in with everything ICW is about anaw. The fact that ICW sold out a show a month in advance, at a 1,500 capacity venue, with Sabu and Colt Cabana as the marquee imports tells ye all ye need tae know about the variety of wrasslin goodness yer likely tae be exposing yersell tae by going to a show. Polar opposites in terms of what they bring tae the table, but they both had the perfect opponents waiting for them in ICW, with Sabu taking on the equally unhinged Jack Jester, and Colt Cabana creating magic wae the equally fuckin hilarious Grado. For a show to progress from Grado pouring Irn Bru doon Colts gullet, tae Sabu and Jester trying tae maim each other and for the crowd tae stay hot for the duration of the show says it all. ICW isnae just a night out, it’s becoming a culture. Dont get me started on the burds anaw. If yer a WWE fan, and ye feel that same sense of disillusion we aw dae when ye see “models” who probably hadn’t even heard of wrestling before the WWE hired them, working fuckin awful matches week in week out, then get yersell along tae the next Fierce Females show and expose yer eyes to proper Womens Wrestling. Or go anywhere in the civilised world that happens tae have Kay Lee Ray vs Carmel on the card, cause yer guaranteed magic.
So whits yer thing? Ye intae Neanderthals that are partial tae Tonic Wine, impregnating every burd in Glesga and the odd Canadian Destoryer? The Bucky Boys have ye covered. Ye intae guys who spend months beating each other tae a bloody pulp, only tae realise “here, this is daft, we’re best pals..lets make EVERYCUNT ELSE bleed” then the NAK are yer guys. If yer intae guys who can deadlift jeeps, and sling lariats that have been known tae decapitate those daft enough tae get in their path, Joe Coffeys got aw ye need. Ye intae guys who can make yer whole target audience turn away from him and face the bar, before gradually winning over the vast majority of them wae his CHAT and smooth in-ring work. Jackie Polo’s yer man. Ye intae captivating mic work, and a man who quite proudly identifies himself as a wanker? thats Red Lightning aw over the back. Ye intae terrifying natives of Stoke on Trent, who can seemlessly go from donning aw the tranny gear, and leathering a cunt wae a barbed wire bat, tae putting on a technical exhibition with Robbie Dynamite; former ICW Champ Mikey Whiplash has yer back there. Anything ye could possibly ask for in terms of entertainment, ye’ll find it at ICW. Cept juggling, no seen any cunt juggle yet, apart from the poor cunts that have had the misfortunate of having tae juggle Kid Fites baws in their gub when he delivers the dreaded tea bag.
The point in this barely coherent pish is simple. Even though this doc will likely focus on current champion and ICW icon Jack Jester, Grado and promoter Mark Dallas, the exposure could be the catalyst for change. ICW has been steadily growing for a while now, but this is the fuckin BBC ma man. This is where they made Fawlty Towers. This is nae joke. Tune in and see the hoose that Dallas built turn intae a fuckin mansion.
Or I could stop trying tae sell it tae ye wae shite one liners and just tell ye tae fuckin watch it. Dae yersell a favour and give it a go. Ye might find like I did, that it re-ignites a love for wrestling that ye probably forgot ye had.
You’ll most likely be exposed to a wee chant that goes “Colt Cabana/It’s Yersel” if ye do tune in, and if yer struggling to understand what that means, cause yer probably English or a bit of a dafty, here’s a visual aid for ye.
Insane Fight Club is on at 10.35pm tonight on BBC1. Watch it. Goan. It’ll be gid.