ICW – Fear and Loathing 8 Review (AT THE SOLD OUT SECC)

 

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ICW sold out the SECC. Continue reading

An Evening In The Company Of Mick Foley

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Don’t meet your heroes. That’s what they say. They’ll let you down. There is no feat that everyday humans are capable of that can live up to the way you see someone you’d regard as a “hero”, so when you meet the real human incarnation of that person who you have placed on such a high pedestal, its supposed to be disappointing. Maybe they aren’t very nice in person. Maybe everything you believed to be true about them was actually wrong. Instead of doing a lot of charity work, they do a lot of smack. Instead of making people happy, they make a people go to Starbucks for them 12 times because their coffee “tastes like roasted underboob sweat”. Throwing the rejected cups in the vicinity of that persons dome in the process. Instead of putting smiles on peoples faces, they put a gym sock on their hand and stick it down peoples throats. Although for this person, those things are one and the same. The point is, if your hero is a famous person, there’s a good chance fame might have opened up and swallowed their decency. I could never imagine approaching my hero and being ignored. How awful that would feel. But I know that kind of thing has happened to people in the past and that just makes me incredibly thankful to have had my own personal hero live up to my lofty expectations for him. That man is of course, the hardcore legend and former 3 time WWE Champion. Mick Foley.

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Hey Seth, I don’t want to alarm you or Ambrose here, but there’s a huge spider about to fall in at least one of our mouths right now.

I’m going to write a big review of the SECC show so I won’t say too much about his role on the show here, but it didn’t feel real. To see the company that I’ve personally been immersed in for 3 years, which was started over 8 years ago in a community centre in Maryhill, grow to the point that selling out the SECC was a real thing, AND having my idol appear ON that show was….a lot. When he appeared I thought I’d cry but I just smiled and watched in awe. Like the first time my maw put the Summerslam 90 VHS on and I saw my first ever hero Hulk Hogan, battering a villainous big lump of a man called Earthquake with a chair (I don’t actually remember smiling the same way at this, but we’re adding colour to the story here…emotional depth)

He was there right in front of us all. Not just fulfilling a date on a tour either, he was there because he loves wrestling and believes ICW do it correctly. He was happy to be in front of 4,000 wrestling fans hanging off his every word, because that’s where he belongs. In front of people who appreciate his influence on wrestling and the sacrifices he made. In front of people who would rate meeting him as a lifetime highlight. I’m one of those people. Meeting him at all was an incredible experience, but being told by 3 or 4 people BEFORE meeting him that he had been speaking highly of ME was just. I can’t absorb that. That’s not supposed to happen. Your hero isn’t supposed to know who you are, far less appreciate your work.

He spoke passionately about how ICW produced memories that would last a lifetime, well Mick mate, you created a memory that I will literally tell everyone about. Mum, dad, other half, best pals, pals in general, their pals, their pals grannies, the guy who serves me at Greggs, the wuman who serves me at Greggs (I don’t even go tae Greggs that much, but I’ll start for this) any bus driver on any bus journey I ever go on from now until the day I die, I’m even gonnae tell Stone Cold Steve Austin because he needs to know. Everyone does. Even those dafties who think wrestling is a joke because when it creates something as real and emotionally significant as this. It has to matter. It has to be more than that. He finally created a moment that ranks up there with that moment he won the WWE Title from The Rock on RAW. That time WCW told their whole audience it was happening, almost mocking it, only to see that audience change the channel in unison to witness Mankind take the title. All he had to do to create a memory that ranks up there with that one is just speak to me for a few minutes.

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Mick Foley is someone who inspired me to believe that if you do things differently, you can still succeed. If you do things the way you believe in doing them, you can get to unimaginable places and you can experience things that once never seemed possible. Like having an all-time wrestling legend who also happens to be the only person outwith your own parents that you’d ever call a “hero” give you 15 minutes of his time. After performing for 2 hours and doing a meet and greet for another 2 hours, he still gave me that time and the opportunity to write this article and I will never forget that for as long as I live. And while this is based off the wild assumption that he will read this and thus give me even more of his time, I would like to thank Mick Foley from the bottom of my heart for inspiring everything I do, and more importantly I’d like to thank him for giving exposure to my work and the opportunity to conduct an interview with him. In his honour I’ve decided to mirror his vow to only drop “one f-bomb per show” so for one article only, I will limit myself to one use of the f-bomb. C-bombs, b-bombs and p-grenades are fair game though. He opened the show with a line as humble as he is.

“I’m not gonna be as funny as Billy Kirkwood”

Mick Foley emerged after 20 minutes of Billy warming up the crowd and basically told them “see that guy, him with the mad hair that talks about willies and fandans a lot? he’s much better at this than me” The ultimate endorsement. Billy is a brilliant guy and was the first person involved in wrestling to tell people about my stuff, so I might have teared up a wee bit hearing that, even though I didn’t because I’m a man and we don’t do that. Mick Foley doesn’t call these shows stand-up comedy shows because he’s not a comedian. He’s an entertainer with a million stories that he tells in a very unique way, but he doesn’t have a big enough ego to put himself in the same bracket as someone like Billy Kirkwood who makes a living from making people laugh.

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To balance all the Foley love out a wee bit, I’ll say he was spot on with that assessment. Billy was funnier than Mick, because he’s very good at what he does. A pish yer pants type of comedian. Mick Foley wasn’t there make anyone pish their pants. Mick Foley was there to captivate an audience of 200 or so people who were there absorb every word he said. A lot of those words formed to create stories that were f……..friggin hilarious (cheers to William Grange for the assist there, still got ma f-bomb) but it wasn’t a comedy show. It was a night to appreciate everything Mick Foley has given wrestling.

He said later in the show with a hint of very real sadness that Vince McMahon told him he no longer connected with the audience, well no offence to Vinny Mac. He obviously knows what he’s doing when it comes to wrestling, but he has never been more wrong with anything he’s ever said. People don’t buy books to read a man’s words, and buy tickets to hear a man speak if he no longer connects with them. The tickets for this show sold out in 5 hours and it didn’t have any sort of huge announcement. The show finished at around 11pm and I’d say at least 150 of the 200+ audience stayed for the meet and greet. A meet and greet where he handed out free signed pictures to show appreciation to the audience for coming out. Mate. You’re Mick Foley. You really don’t need to be appreciating us but I suppose him being the type of person who does do things like that was the reason we were all there in the first place.

Suppose I should talk about the interview itself eh? Well I had a wee list of topics I wanted to cover depending on how much time he had, and for some magical reason my brain pushed the most important questions to the front of the queue. It all happened very quickly so I forgot to glance at my notes before starting and all of a sudden there we were, and I had asked him for his impressions on Fear and Loathing 8, at the MOTHER-FU……NKING SOLD OUT SECC (still got that f-bomb in the holster)

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“I was so impressed on so many levels. Not only from a wrestling standpoint, but more importantly from an emotional standpoint.” A point he drove home in his promo at the start of the show and during the show at The Stand was how much emotional investment there is in ICW and particularly in that main event. He even brought a very hungover Drew Galloway out to chat for 5 minutes and even he seemed overwhelmed to be on stage with Mick Foley, before speaking passionately about everything ICW is and how much he believes in Grado’s ability to take it forward, even if he doesn’t always believe in himself. Thoughts that were mirrored by Mick.

“Grado is an amazing character. Such a great story. I honestly didn’t think he could be as good as he was in the ring. I don’t know what went into the match itself, I only know what I saw, and not only was it a top notch wrestling match, but the emotion surrounding it made it special. I think it’ll go down as a match that people remember for decades”

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“There are moments in wrestling that people remember for the rest of their lives, and that’s the goal you strive for. It’s the goal I used to strive for, and I think those guys succeeded. A certain percentage of people will remember that match for the rest of their lives”

Mick spoke during his show about how it was Drew Galloway who first alerted him to ICW, when he asked him to take a look at the promo he cut when he first returned to the company in 2014. He even included a disclaimer about the swearing knowing that it’s something Foley avoids doing if possible. Plenty of f-bombs, mother f-bombs, and f-bomb the polis in that one but Mick saw the passion. Drew had an energy about him that has not only helped propel his own career since he was released from WWE, but its helped push ICW to the next level and having a figure like that to carry your title and defend it so impressively all over the country is exactly what ICW needed to have. It would take an impressive big ride of a man like Drew to provide an opponent worthy of that moment. The villain who was born with all the genetic gifts and talent in the world, against the hero with the wee belly, lion-sized heart and tremendous patter. Drew’s role in making that moment special was not understated by Foley. While he had to shuffle down the ramp without the acclaim from the crowd and Foley himself, he was as big a part of that moment as anyone.

“It was an exclamation point on the Drew Galloway resume. If I was Triple H or Vince McMahon I’d be on the phone to him right now if I’m honest with you. To have a guy that can help build a promotion, who can also tell and story and execute that story in the ring. I think ICW are very lucky to have him”

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While that is no doubt true, you could say the same vice versa. Drew Galloway could have gone the same way as other talents WWE have released. Taking any booking under the sun and not really trying to make a mark on the wrestling landscape. Trying to get by more than anything. Drew needed something more. He needed to pull on his size (probably) 15 boots and stamp his foot on that landscape while shouting “I might not be on RAW playing air guitar anymore, but I fu…….lly matter. And I WILL be heard” ICW was the perfect place for him to make that impact. In front of a crowd that would most definitely react the way the promo was supposed to make them react. That was why it captivated Foley, because that sort of involvement from a crowd is so rare. It no doubt brings back memories of those special times in his own career where every single person in the building was invested and right now, there is no better wrestling company in the world at getting that type of reaction than ICW.

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“I think Grado and Drew did a particularly good job of recapturing that energy that was spent over the 3 hours of the show. People had seen a lot, and been through a lot. With the cage match and everything else. So for those guys to come through, in a match that didn’t have stipulations…..”

Mick paused for a second, with a genuine look of pride on his face that he came to Scotland a saw two guys from the same town create a match that was so absorbing. Lost for words. If there’s any higher praise for a wrestling match than “had Mick Foley lost for words” god knows what it is (see that would have been an f-bomb there, but we’re saving it mate…wait for it) That wasn’t the highest praise he had for it though…

“It was impressive beyond my abilities to explain how impressive it was. It reminded me a lot of Ric Flair v Dusty Rhodes 1985. With Grado as the every-man, who is just over to a crazy extent, and Drew was just so impressive. Its high praise to put them up there, but I think you could go there”
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When I suggested Grado is almost the Scottish version of Dusty, Mr Foley seemed to approve. I know the comparisons have been drawn before but I don’t know if its had someone with such an undeniable impact on wrestling rubber-stamp it. If Grado ever thinks he hasn’t earned that title, as Drew touched on himself when he spoke. He’s the draw. Drew might have piqued the interest of a lot of wrestling fans when he returned, but Grado gets the man from the street off his arse to buy a ticket to ICW. Creating an atmosphere that’s more akin to the days of Dusty and Flair where most, if not ALL of the crowd had no idea wrestling was pre-determined, and were fully invested in the everymans genuine attempts to overcome the polished, slick . When Grado pinned Drew Galloway, people reacted like their favourite football team had just won the ICW title. Or eh….their favourite wrestler just scored the winning goal in the World Cup final…or…eh..naw wait..I’ll get it this time….
THEY REACTED LIKE GRADO HAD JUST WON THE ICW TITLE. BECAUSE GRADO HAD JUST WON THE FUCKING ICW TITLE. REJOICE!

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(f-bomb detonated)

Towards the end of the show, Foley noticed someone in the audience wearing Bayleys “I’m a hugger” t-shirt in the crowd and went on to speak fondly about his interactions with some of the women currently at WWE. Recalling a story of when his illusions about Sasha Banks and her character were shattered when she showed him a pic of a much younger, intimidated version of the “boss” posing with Mick many years ago. Something that showed him the person behind the character and really made her click with him. A moment that was no doubt repeated with every person he met last night, and a photo they recreated recently, just as Bayley approached Mick and he unwittingly pushed her out the way to get the photo with Sasha. An act he recalls with a laugh, although I doubt Bayley was offended. Any story of any interaction with Mick Foley is a decent one. Even if its “Mick Foley punched me in the mouth and called my mother a whore” its still a story involving Mick Foley doing something with you. Maybe add “then we went for ice cream” after the punching part though. Makes it sound a bit more of a Foley thing to do.

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He spoke  passionately about womens wrestling, and his unsuccessful attempts to woo the Bella Twins maw; bemoaning the fact that John Lauranitis took her away from him. I asked what he thought of the 3 way dance to crown the first ever ICW Women’s Champion. Having imposed his will on the match by inserting Viper into it at the very last moment.

“Mark (Dallas) came to me right after I cut my in-ring promo and told me I could go back to my dressing room and relax, or do whatever I wanted to do and I said ‘no….I’m gonna stay right here and watch everything I can’ and I was really impressed with not only the performance of the women in the ring…but the reaction of the crowd”

“There’s a tendency for people to compare ICW’s crowd, to ECW crowds in the mid 1990s, but I don’t know that the ECW crowds of that time would have given the women the same amount of respect. Their reaction to Viper when I came out and put her in the match was huge. I had to go back and ask someone what her back story was. As a guy who grew up being heavy set, and grew up being teased for being heavy set. I always worry about the public’s acceptance of larger individuals. They told me about her promo on the British Bootcamp show TNA did, and it made me think it may have been more successful in creating stars in Scotland than it was for TNA”

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The hopefuls at the Glasgow auditions for the aforementioned show. Minus Grado who was at China Buffet King finishing aff a plate of king ribs

“It gave them a great platform for people to learn about the passion the wrestlers have, and I think ICW have been the main beneficiaries of that. But yeah….I really enjoyed the womens match. Another thing I never get tired of people appreciating me watching the matches backstage. Thats always a good thing.”

It shouldn’t be forgotten that for a lot of the performers on the show, meeting Mick Foley was as big a deal to them as it was to me. It raised a smile with Mrs Foleys baby boy (thats a cheap pop eh? I’ll only use it once, promise) when he spoke of his love for wrestlers almost being humbled at him watching their match. Jack Jester appeared at the show to ask a question and basically thanked Foley for being the reason he wanted to be a wrestler, and there’s so many people like that who maybe felt “different” and saw Mick Foley as the high priest of being a wee bit odd. ICW is the home of “different” in wrestling right now and it seems more than apt that Mick Foley slotted in to the show like he’d been there all along. He brought Mark Dallas on stage at one point and told us all the reason they shared a prolonged hug before Mick cut his promo. He pulled Dallas in close, looked deep into his eyes and asked “Mark….what am I supposed to say” Even a guy who’s seen and done it all forgot his line on the big stage, but as soon as Dallas prompted him, off he went. Dallas was on stage again later to give the best Vince McMahon impression I’ve ever heard. Well the voice was awrite, but the mannerisms were pure and utter Vince.

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Ah swear tae god Mick, you better no have tanned aw the Madoori.

Mick went on to explain the next steps in his career. Revealing that the one man show’s will be less frequent in 2016.

“I’m probably going to stop doing the one man show’s around March, for the rest of the year. I’ll just be taking a break to concentrate on other things. I’m gonna do a few more wrestling appearances too”

While Foley has made an undoubted impression on audiences of all descriptions, its continued interest from wrestling fans that have made his foray into the one-man shows a successful one, as I asked how he sees himself as a performer now. More of an all-round entertainer, or a wrestling personality.

“I think its hard to separate the two. If I was drawing 50% wrestling fans, and 50% fans of my spoken words, then I could say there was a distance between them. Regardless of whether I do a wrestling appearance, or an appearance at a comic book convention, or even at my own shows. Its mainly a wrestling audience. I’m very thankful to the dedication of the people that watched me when they were children”

Decent time to break this out I suppose. A picture of me when I was 11, wearing a halloween costume that was comprised of one of my dads shirts, an auld pair of brown leggings my mum had, a wig probably made of dug hair and a mask made by a friend of my mums. Here’s the entirely haunting image of me dressed as Mankind. Also probably breaking the record for different kinda of horrendous wallpaper captured in one picture. Don’t worry, I still live here, but I made sure we got better decorators over the past 15 years.

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Everybody loves Christmas. Except for the folk who are of other religions, or the folk who just plain don’t like it, but “everybody loves Christmas” makes for better reading, so we’ll go with that. Mick Foley loves Christmas more than you though. Mick Foley is currently undergoing a lifelong process to eventually morph into a real life Santa Claus, and he spoke about Christmas with as much passion as a lot of the wrestling things he spoke about. I had 15 minutes with Mick Foley and I never asked him about Hell In A Cell, or being the WWE Champion, or even being chucked directly into a barbed wire and explosives. I asked him “why dae you love Christmas mate?” Because the people need to know.

“I guess its a deep seeded thing. I’ve loved for as long as I remember, and I think there is a parallel between the years I’ve spent in the ring and the time I’ve spent in the red suit as ambassador for Father Christmas, and that if you do everything right…you can take someone to a really special place. I think that place, is a memory in the parents mind. If you can take them back to when they felt happiest as a child. You’ve done your job.”

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The Usos in a rare candid shot

“People think its for the kids, but its about the parents. They’re the ones with the huge smile. When I make the Christmas Eve visits, you can see grown people cry. That’s when you know you’re doing your job right ”

I remarked that Mick had done that at the SECC when he came out and there was a genuine burst of appreciation for that comment. The fact that me saying that to him meant anything is the reason he DOES still connect with the audience and will never stop connecting with them, because he actually gives a fu……..(ah I’ve used my f-bomb eh? och fuck it, I shouldn’t try to imitate a legend anyway so we’ll drop a few more) he actually gives a fuck if he entertains you or not. He didn’t come here to make the show about him, he came here to restore the balance between good and evil. Drew was flanked by the evil genius ICW GM Red Lightning, and a right bad yin in Jack Jester, so Grado needed a squad of goodies to counteract the baddies. He had Big Damo taking care of Jester, but Grado needed someone with authority that was a big enough hero to counteract Red Lightning’s villainous ways and Mick Foley served that purpose.

For the last question I had to ask if he’ll be gracing us with his presence again, and while no definitive answer was forthcoming, the feeling amongst everyone who was there that night, and Mick himself is that it went very well and we may very well have not seen the last of Mrs Foleys baby boy (ok, maybe I’ll use it twice…this is the last time though, I swear) on these shores. If Vince McMahon still thinks Mick Foley no longer connects with the audience, he should ask any of the 50 odd people still queueing to meet him after midnight last night if he still connects with them. People missing last buses and trains home just to steal the tiniest moment of his time. I’ll forever be extremely thankful that he saw me worthy to give me a full 15 minutes of it. Thank you Mick. For everything.

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Credit as always to David J.Wilson for the wonderful photos.

 


 

If you liked this and want to read more things of this nature, well tbh I don’t interview people like Mick Foley often, but there’s other good stuff on the site about all things wrestling. Particularly ICW and British Wrestling in general.

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