Selling more than 4,000 tickets to anything isn’t easy. I was at a 50 Cent gig last week that sold less than 5,000 and had humans from all walks of life. Every creed and colour. With no doubt a diverse palette of interests, but the common one that bonded them all was at least a passing interest in the music of 50 Cent. I even saw a pornstar, but also I didn’t cause I don’t watch porn. Got a burd mate. The point is. Selling that amount of tickets if you’re 50 Cent is underwhelming. Not really that big a deal when you consider the fact that he was/is an internationally known superstar. A guy that’s been in more shite films than Snoop Dogg and Jim Varney put together. He has a platform that suggests selling that amount of tickets at least is a given. ICW however? They had no fuckin right did they. Pro wrestling doesn’t have the fanbase to sell 4,000+ tickets does it? Not when you make it 18+ and take the replica mask buying market clean out the equation. It shouldn’t have happened. It had no right to.
The key difference between someone like 50 Cent, who was really only in Glasgow because his schedule told him to be, and ICW, is that one gives a fuck about you coming to their show and being entertained, and the other got shot 9 times. One built their operation from the ground up and the other got shot 9 times. One cultivated a loyalty and depth of feeling from its fanbase that made ths SECC show seem like our Wrestlemania. Scotland’s chance to puff out their chest and go “listen ya dicks, we’re here doing our own thing, we’re no here to be bullied, marginalised, or pushed around. If we can sell 4,000 tickets on our own doorstep, what the fuck do we need you for?” while the other one….well he got shot 9 times, and he also tucked a lassies bra into his back pocket while he was in the middle of a song at the aforementioned gig, which I guess is kinda impressive but we’re moving off topic. The point is, ICW achieved this without the advantages of Eminem’s endorsement being a launchpad. ICW done this without being shot 9 times. ICW are an ensemble cast. They created something you feel attached to before you even really know who or what you feel that attachment to.
During the first wrestling show I ever went to Grado became ICW Champion during the first half main event. Overcoming the odds in his second ever ICW match to topple the villainous Red Lightning. The room was fuckin electric. He was carried through the crowd, where real life pals and people who had seen him on youtube greeted him like a hero. The dream had become a reality quicker than it had any right to. Much like ICW when they pulled their first 1,000+ crowd in Edinburgh for Dave’s Not Here Man in 2013. Many might have thought Grado’s 1 and a half hour reign as champion was the tip of the iceberg for him. When Red Lightning took that title back from him to end the show, and revealed that he’d never actually become champion due to a technicality, it felt like it made sense. The underdogs aren’t supposed to win. You would have forgiven ICW for not pushing on from the first 1,000+ sellout, because that’s big. If any other company drew that in the UK it would be seen as a huge thing, but its become the norm for ICW, so the next step had to be taken. The venues have to get bigger. There will be people who buy a ticket to see the guys aff the telly. Of course there will. If you think there’s enough die-hard wrestling fans out there buying tickets to take ICW where they want to go you’re deluding yourself. The folk there for a laugh and to see Grado are necessary and the hope has to be that you make wrestling fans out of a percentage of them, and that percentage grows as time goes on. Its upto the die-hards to not get pissy about hearing “who the fucks this guy?” over their shoulder cause not everycunt was at Santa Gravy and saw Lionheart “retire”. Not everyone went to 100% Shenanigans and saw a lot of shenanigans. We didn’t all see James Scott vs Mark Andrews at Terminator 2. We weren’t all there when Saqib Ali took on Tommy Marx in Maryhill, only for Fight Club to knock fuck out them both. We didn’t all see Mikey Whiplash put Grado on his shoulders while wearing a nurses outfit only to hear Grado screaming “pit me doon ya weirdo!” Being there before ICW was a big deal doesn’t make your ticket any more valuable than anyone elses.
We all took a different path, but the important thing is that we’ll all be there for the same reason. That mad wrestling hing that taxi drivers no longer laugh at when you tell them thats where you’re going when you get in the motor. That mad wrestling hing that when ye tell yer Da they sold out the SECC he goes “really? fuckin hell, good on them” instead of the usual eye roll and tut when you talk about that fake shite. If you’re one of the fortunate ones to have a ticket in your possession, you’ll be treated to a variety show. A show that will have something for everyone, and from what I’ve heard about the setup inside the SECC, any fears you might have about it being too crowded and you not being able to see are not a problem. All bases are covered. So you’ll definitely be able to see whatever part of the ‘three-ring circus’ you bought a ticket for, and the rest of it will find a way into your consciousness somehow.
You’ll wake up the next morning wondering why The Bucky Boys tried to kill each other. You’ll wonder how Joe Coffey managed to remove a Rhyno’s head with ONE arm. You’ll wonder how it escaped your attention that Scotland produced two of the best female wrestlers in the world. You’ll be puzzled at how all 4 sides of a cage managed to stay in tact while there was 6 people inside it try to rip each others throats out. You’ll gasp when Hearto, Liam Thomson and Doug Williams come out with pyro that spells out “I hate ICW” going off behind them, before the jolly band of faces that are Joe Hendry, Noam Dar and Kenny Williams batter fuck out them. You’ll join me in greetin yer fuckin eyes out when Mick Foley appears (whit d’ye mean that’s no gonnae be how everyone reacts?) before realising his role on the show is to help make you hate ICWs own GM just that wee bit more villainous. Not there to make the show about him. You’ll marvel at Polo Promotions in the purple jaiskits with the 4-4-2 and the shiny belts, scrapping with a couple of proper villains who couldnae gie a fuck if there was 4, 40, 400 or 400,000 folk in the SECC, as long as they go home with blood on their knuckles with a belt each. You’ll rejoice when the Black Label’s Jack Jester gets his comeuppance for being a bad bastard when a 23 stone flying bear named Big Damo flys across the ring and connects with his jaw.
You’ll wonder how in the name of fuck a chubby wee chancer from the tap end of Stevenston can possibly beat a 6 foot 5, complete and utter unit of a man, who’s defended his title successfully against everyone from Coach Trip, to the likes of Doug Williams and Tommy End. The same guy who stopped the seemingly unstoppable momentum of the Iron Man Joe Coffey. The man who nullified the threat of the NAK’s Chris Renfrew and his briefcase. The man who held the fucking WWE Intercontinental Title above his head while the scene in Scotland barely existed. Drew Galloway is everything ICW needs from a champion, but perhaps the time has come for Grado’s journey to come full circle. Maybe the chubby wee chancer is a chancer no loger. Wrestling is all about entertaining people, and as much as this makes me a shameless disgusting fanboy, I’ve never once watched Grado and not been entertained on some level. The entrance always gets me because it’s a fuckin laugh, but even if you don’t like the comedy shit, he tells stories. In that ring. He tells stories that relate to people who don’t know whit the fuck a 5 star match is, never mind knowing if they’re watching one. When ICW put the title on Grado for that hour in 2012, it was for the reaction. To create that emotional investment in a character that has a lasting effect and gives him the chance to build from there, and build is what Grado’s done. He improved in the ring every single time he stepped into it and now he’s never aff the fuckin tele, so if ICW want a TV show, who better than a TV star to be the man at the forefront, leading the charge.
Well. There’s maybe one person better suited to that role, but the difficult bit for Grado is, he kinda already has the job, and might not take too kindly to being usurped by the underdog. That dynamic is mirrored in the company itself. The guys with the broad Glaswegian accents led by Mark Dallas, will be delivering a show that is more than just a cult thing for Glaswegians to enjoy. You’re daft if you think everyone who piles into the SECC next week will identify as Scottish or even British, because ICW is bigger than that now and that’s why the big boys are more than aware of their existence. Because ICW are a viable alternative who tell stories that matter to the people who they’re aimed at. So while the shiny, polished, powerhouse with all the genetic gifts under the sun might be the one you expect to be the best, maybe its time for the other guy to shine. The one that is the polar opposite from him in every single way and the only one who can keep the spotlight firmly on ICW while doing it a completely different way to how the current champ does it. If you’re looking for the best man for the job of leading ICW to whatever level is above selling out the SECC, maybe it’s not Drew. Maybe its Grado. If you’re looking for the best night out at the wrestling your country has to offer, maybe you don’t need to wait for WWE to tour 3 times a year. Maybe it’s already here. Maybe its ICW.
British Wrestling is garnering a lot of momentum. To the point where its scene as the most vibrant scene in the world by a lot of people. If that’s the case, then someone had to be the catalyst for that change. Someone had to be at the forefront, leading the charge. A team who work towards a common goal. Nae backstabbing, nae shite. Just that mad wrestling hing.
Credit to David J Wilson for the wonderful, blood soaked photo.
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