Joe Coffey used to have an interesting relationship with ICW. Fractious at best. Resentful at worst. He knew it had the potential to blow up, but it felt unattainable for him. There was too many ahead of him in the queue and there was no way for him to break down those barriers and get the spot his talent level deserved. For me Joe Coffey was so effective as a world hating heel in ICW because it was real. He really did feel that a lot of the show was a joke, and he probably did resent Grado enough to fuel the often palpable hatred he displayed for him during their short feud in 2013, but then Joe realised what had to happen. ICW would never have more than a mid card role for Joe as he was, and for the best wrestler in Scotland that had to be frustrating. Wrestling had never been JUST about wrestling though. As much as a lot of people wish it was, the amount of people who enjoy what the likes of Joe Coffey, Jack Gallagher, Mikey Whiplash, Doug Williams, Jackie Polo, Mark Coffey and Noam Dar do at their very best is far outweighed by the amount of people who will pay a score to see Sabu bleed, and that’s ok. Joe Coffey knew that if he was going to get the push he deserved he had to hover somewhere in between the pure wrestling style he favoured and the pure violence that became synonymous with the early days of ICW (and lives on with Chris Renfrew’s current attempts to physically and mentally dismantle Divers) He had to be a different sort of “tweener”. And he became the Iron Man.
It was the feud with James Scott in the second half of 2013/first half of 2014 that changed it all for Joe. He went from having the most under-appreciated match of the card every month to being the focal point in the best wrestling feud ICW had seen in a long time. Every match was a classic. Not just because they had styles that meshed perfectly, but because they trusted each other to tell the story. For me, all the best wrestling feuds are the ones where both opponents put their complete trust in their opposite number, no matter how they might feel about that opponent personally. Without that mutual respect and trust, matches always seem choreographed and wooden. For me the best matches are the ones that look choreographed without that actually being the case. Two wrestlers completely in sync (this is starting to sound a bit romantic eh? why don’t yees just get a room ffs) James Scott and Joe Coffey had that and as Joe now stands on the precipice of becoming “the guy” its important to remember how much of a role the former 2 time ICW Champion played in that. People tend to forget, James Scott was the original “guy”. James Scott in the first incarnation of the Darkside character was the “guy” before most people knew how significant that was and for Joe Coffey to truly evolve into an ICW force, he needed to take out one of the kingpins. James Scott fitted the bill, and in the process of doing that, he had some of the matches of his career and it all ended in him finally having the that thing he needed to make him stand out.
Once the feud with Scott came to an end, Joe needed more scalps. That feud gave him a better footing in ICW and lead to the streak of his career. Overcoming Brian Kendrick at Still Smokin in what was as underrated a 10 minute opening match on a card as you’ll see, before taking out another former 2 ICW Champion during the run of Fringe shows, when him and BT Gunn knocked 11 shades of shite out each other at Studio 24. Mikey Whiplash is the latest former champion to fall at the feet of the Iron Man, but for me, before he gets the chance to raise that belt above his head as his very own, he needs the whole set. Every former ICW Champion sitting on his mantelpiece. He currently has three out of six, and if you look at the six ex champions individually, you see why each of them was chosen to be “the guy” at some point.
Drew Galloway was the first champion because he was a big handsome talented bastard. Darkside and BT Gunn were both 2 time champions because they were the guys who put on the best matches at that time. Red Lightning was champion to unite the audience in disdain for him as he pinned every cunt they ever loved. I’m no just talking favourite wrestlers either, he pinned yer maw, yer granny, yer favourite character oot Breaking Bad, My Blobby oot Noels House Party. Anyone you hold dear, he pinned that prick and called that prick a prick while he was doing it, before sticking the middle finger up at all the pricks in the crowd that thought it was going to end any other way. Then we had Whiplash. The wrestling genius who could make any type of match with any type of opponent work, and then we had the only guy with the widespread popularity with the ICW fans who could conceivably usurp Whiplash. Jack Jester. Each and every one of them served a particular purpose as champion, and now we’re back with Drew.
ICW want to go global. Thats not just buzzword bullshit. ICW want to provide a product that continues to embody all the things that made ICW popular in the first place, whilst adding bits and pieces that give the product more widespread appeal. Drew Galloway ticks all of those boxes and is undoubtedly the only person they could conceivably put the belt on that has the appeal to allow the title to be defended in so many different countries against such diverse opponents. These title defences are fairly hollow in the sense that you know fine well there’s fuckin nae chance Matt Hardy is becoming the ICW Champion, but the defences put ICWs name out there and if ICW are going to continue to grow and make an impression on wrestling in a wider sense, Drew needs that belt. Drew will continue to hold that belt for the foreseeable future and in doing so he’s going to break yer hearts quite often. The heroes that everyone adopted as ICW grew to what it is today will be the guys that Drew puts down. He already broke so many NAK hearts when him and Renfrew brutalised each other for 15 minutes before Drew eventually retained, and if you’re looking for a prediction from me (why the fuck wid ye be? I’m a helmet) my prediction is that Joe Coffey WILL be the next ICW Champion. But it wont happen at Barramania.
What will happen at Barramania will be one of the best ICW Title matches in the company’s history if its done right, and that is fucking exciting in its own right, because Joe is ready to be champ, and will be hell-bent in going out there and proving that, but this wee simmering feud with ICW GM Red Lightning, and the fact that Red is in the best shape he has been since he won the belt almost 3 years ago, leads me to believe that Joe will not prevail on March 29th. A lot of things will conspire against him to stop that happening, and Joe will have to topple ICWs new “authority” before he gets his hands on the gold, and whilst he’s doing that, Drew will be helping the company take over the world.
Once the world is conquered, and ICW sits on the mountain top. Then it has to be Joe Coffeys time. Joe Coffey adapted everything he is for ICW, and he done it without being best pals with anyone important. He achieved it with hard work, and dedication to making his skillset work in the environment and that’s a special thing. That willingness to adapt and evolve has been the driving force behind so many special things for Joe. More mic time at shows, more match time, more interesting matches. Being given the platform to put on wrestling clinics at EVERY big ICW show, and being given the platform along with Noam Dar to captivate audiences in 4 different cities in a 5 match series that reminded everyone who had the fortune of seeing it that Scottish Wrestling isn’t just blowing up because of cultural changes and mainstream media coverage exposing it to a wider audience, its blowing up because we have some of the best pro wrestlers on this fuckin planet. Nae offence to our Noam or anyone else, but Joe Coffey is the best of the bunch in my eyes, and when Joe Coffey stands opposite the most influential Scottish Wrestler of all time (who else has come close to the worldwide recognition that Drew has?) he will be standing opposite what he aspires to be. Without the same natural physical gifts as Drew was born with, Joe had to work hard to craft the character you see before you today. He had to learn what the audience needed from him and how he could provide that without sacrificing his own beliefs too much.
So he became other worldly. He became a beast. He took that engaging work you see in the ring and applied it to his character. Every time a challenge has been put in front of Joe Coffey in the past 2 years in ICW, he has met and surpassed expectations and FORCED his way into this match at Barramania by earning enough support to be voted ICW wrestler of the year for 2014, amidst stellar competition from BT Gunn, who had also sparkled in every match he was in that year. Another former champion toppled. Validation from the fans confirmed, and now they sing his name louder and prouder than anyone elses. They do that because he’s the best. They do that because even though it might not seem logical that Joe takes the belt from Drew at this point, he makes them believe he can. They beat their chests with him, and buy in to everything he is, and whilst thats the case, they will make the atmosphere inside the Barrowlands fucking electric for that match. So much so that it might even will Joe to do the unthinkable, but even if he doesn’t do it at Barramania, there’s no doubt in my mind who your next ICW Champion is. He’s a wrestler. He’s a fair bit mighty. His name is Joe Coffey.
All credit for the brilliant photos to David J Wilson