So much is said about the strength of the UK scene right now and correctly so. The talent pool is off the scale, to the point that top level talent can be overlooked by promotions if they don’t fit what that promotion is trying to do. As a result of that, there’s a broad list of names that get mentioned as the upper echelon of this golden generation. People who travel the length and breadth of the UK making an impact with a vast range of companies. Bootin baws in the ring and shaggin maws at afterparies. Outwith Scotland there’s one name that for me isn’t mentioned nearly enough. That name is BT Gunn.
In Scotland BT Gunn is one of the most celebrated talents ever produced. A former 2 time ICW Champion, and a man who has held every major title in the country barring the BCW Title, it’s the definition of muthafuckin ridiculous to me that not everyone in the UK regards BT Gunn as highly as he’s regarded up here. He’s one wrestler that I’ve never heard anyone express a strong dislike for, no matter how much they loved the guy he was kicking fuck out of in that particular moment, because its as simple as this; He always delivers in that ring. Where it truly matters. There’s a fixation on people being great on the mic. Like everything else you bring to the table doesn’t matter if you aren’t particularly good at this one thing. Have to get good on the stick, or you’ve fucked it. In truth, that’s a lot of shite. I used to buy into it myself and have stupidly disregarded talent because they didn’t have polished skills on the mic, but wrestling is stories. Being able to aid your story with promos is a huge plus, but wrestling is stories told in a variety of ways, and the most important way the story is told is in the ring. You can have a feud that has some of the best promo exchanges in the world, but if the matches are shite or even just underwhelming it all means nothing. The bulk of the story has to be told when that bell rings and all eyes are on the physical confrontation. Particularly in British Indie wrestling where wrestlers are required to adapt to the needs of the promotion they work for. A wrestler could be asked to be 3 different guys in 3 nights and they’re expected to excel in each of these roles. Not fuckin easy, and being one of the best has to involve this. It has to include that adaptability or the amazing performance from Saturday night is undermined by the one you phoned in on Sunday when you didn’t really fancy it. In rare cases wrestlers are pretty much the same character wherever they go. Sha Samuels being a prime example of a guy who it would be silly to ask to be anything other than a ‘smash a pint err yer heid and call ye a mug while ye bleed oot’ fitba hooligan. Grado is the same on the other side of the coin as the guy who gets the crowd dancing like they just gubbed two tenner eccies at a Happy Mondays gig, and is of course allowed to push the envelope a wee bit in places with adult audiences, but for most people, adaptability is key to success. When it comes to being able to adapt to anything thrown at them in the ring, BT Gunn (for me anyway) is the best in the UK. While there’s plenty of arguments that could be made for other talents, with varying levels of validity to them, there’s no question at all that BT Gunn at least has a shout. If you started reading this not really knowing much about him or how talented he is, stop reading it and get that fuckin rectified right now. I’m sure BT Gunn vs Fergal Devitt is on Youtube if you need a big name to draw you in, but any match he has on there should be proof enough that he’s incredible and deserves your attention.
Its always been something I’ve found difficult, picking a “favourite” or someone I personally regard as the “best” at anything, and admittedly I’ve seen a lot more ICW and Scottish Wrestling in general than any other UK company so I know more of BT Gunn’s body of work than most, but I’ve also seen plenty of those who are often attached to the title of “best in the UK” and for me none of them are better at this than BT Gunn. There are more athletically gifted guys like Will Ospreay who produce levels of performance that are unmatched on a worldwide scale. There are physical specimens like Drew Galloway, who is making his mark all over the globe. There are technically superior guys like Joe Coffey, Mikey Whiplash and Jack Gallagher who can tell gripping stories using nothing but the middle of the ring and often use much more than that depending on the type of story that needs told on any given night. There are all consuming characters like Jimmy Havoc, Sha Samuels, Marty Scurrll and Chris Renfrew who specialise in making you believe everything they do in and out of the ring. There’s Big Damo, who has had a mercurial run at the top end of UK Wrestling over the past year or 2, and does things a man his size should not be capable of. Theres a long list of folk I’ve not even mentioned that could be considered the best but for me none of them are better than BT Gunn. None of them draw me into the story of whatever they’re doing for whatever company on any given night more than BT Gunn can. If its as a single with PBW, he manages to be a happy clapping, nice to the bairns, superhero who can punt aw sorts of multi coloured light-up merch to people of all ages while still having the best match of the night. There’s tag team specialist BT Gunn, who has won all sorts of belts with Stevie Boy as part of Just Uz, and of course with Renfrew as part of the NAK in ICW and beyond. Then there’s ICW BT Gunn. A wrestling company needs icons. It needs people who ARE the company and BT Gunn is a guy who encompasses everything an ICW talent should hope to be. A guy who has been champion twice, but has no arrogance when it comes to working with younger talents and helping highlight their best qualities. A guy who has been a part of the best tag team matches the company has ever produced without ever being considered a full-time tag team wrestler. Simply because he’s too talented to not have in singles matches. A guy who SHOULD be considered one of biggest names on the roster and a guy who ye should be buzzing to beat if you somehow manage it, and that brings me to the thing that led me to settle on this opinion that he’s the best. BT Gunn vs Kenny Williams.
It seems daft that one match on a taping for ICWs weekly on demand show Friday Night Fight Club can be the deciding factor in such a thing, but when Kenny Williams managed to pin BT Gunn fair and square on that show, it was something that felt shocking. Kenny Williams is nae mug, a former Zero-G Champion who has had his fair share of big wins in the company, but this was the biggest because he showed the necessary respect to the icon he just beat. He sunk into the corner and looked utterly disbelieving of what he’d just accomplished and that was one of those magic moments where wrestling shows exactly why its the escape we all love. In that moment, you believed in every single fucking thing they had done that led to Kenny winning. The way they crafted this story over the space of 15-20 minutes took the match from something that was an interesting prospect, to a moment where you believed Kenny Williams had toppled a legend. Know why you believed that? Because he toppled a fucking legend. If ICW are the biggest drawing company in the UK, BT Gunn has to be considered one of the best talents in Britain, because he is always central to everything ICW are doing.
His feud with Mikey Whiplash, another who has as strong a claim as one of the best in the UK, brought to the forefront just how good both of them are. They managed to tell such a gripping story with the sheer brutality of what they were doing that the people who are closest to them in the company were almost casualties as a result of it. As they stood beside their brothers in arms, and knocked the living fuck out each other with feet, hands, kendo sticks and yon throwing knives ye used to get in Red Dead Redemption. The NAK vs Legion feud would have been good regardless, but it was the story BT Gunn and Whiplash crafted at the centre of it that made it great. It was the risks they were willing to take, and the trust they put in each other that made it special, and thats a trait that has followed BT Gunn into every single thing he’s done in ICW and wrestling in general. Taking more risks than any rational human would ever consider to build a legacy and for me the reaction Kenny Williams had to winning that match cemented his legacy as an icon within the company. Until he’s seen as one up and down the country, there’s an element of injustice about it all. If the UK is seen as seen as one of the hottest talent pools in the world right now, and some many different guys are touted to make an impact abroad, why is BT Gunn never in these conversations? Even if thats not the path he’d personally want, the fact that he’s not one of these guys ye hear about having tryouts or being considered as a talent who COULD make the grade elsewhere is almost insulting to everything he’s built here.
If BT Gunn gets booked for a show near you and you’re not fully aware of how good he is, get yer arse up aff the couch and get to that show. You will not regret it. 2016 could and should be the year where the immensity of his talent is appreciated across the board the way it is in ICW and in Scotland in general, and while my opinion is definitely coloured by seeing so much of his best work, for me BT Gunn is quietly the best in the UK. Quiet in the sense that he flys under the radar and in the sense that he doesn’t say much, because he doesn’t have to. Anything he needs to put into words, he has one of the best talkers in the country to do that for him in Chris Renfrew, but 99% of what he needs to say can be done when he’s crafting a story in that ring. Look at the feud with Wolfgang, where neither of them really said much on the mic but had us all gripped because of the performances they put together. That has become BT Gunns calling card. Doing your talking with words is easy, but having a strong identity without them is a true challenge and something BT Gunn has become notorious for. No one knows what goes on behind those eyes, but the way his probably psychotic mindset manifests itself in the ring is always fucking brilliant.
Credit to David J.Wilson and Warrior Fight Photography for the cracking photos as always.