Lionheart’s (not) a fanny

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The word “fanny” in Scotland tends to mean one of two things. It can either used to refer to an actual working fanny between someone’s legs (aka one of they things many a wrestling fan will never get to see) A practical example of this use of it could be when you stoat out of your local at shutting time, get ready to embark on the walk home only to spot a burd pishing in the alley next to the pub. You witness this unholy sight and tell her “pit yer fanny away hen, fuck sake, ye literally just left a place wae working toilets in it” and she refuses, giving you the middle finger and waddling towards you mid-pish for an ill advised square go. That’s not the form of “fanny” we’re going to talk about here. The second common usage for it in Scotland is to describe a dafty. A nae use bastard. A cunt that’s honestly no got a fuckin clue. Type of cunt that walks intae Burger King and demands a Big Mac meal and a McFlurry. Type of cunt to turn up to a Celtic game in a Rangers scarf and an Aberdeen hat. When used in reference to a person in Scotland, “Fanny” is about as insulting as it gets, but its not the fact that it’s insulting that makes it wrong in the case of Lionheart. You’re supposed to be insulting to villains in wrestling and the more insulting you are, the better they are at their job, but calling Lionheart a “fanny” isn’t an act that’s similar to the one in the main picture. Its not a “fuck you” in his direction, its a suggestion that he’s bad at his job. And that suggestion is wrong.

When I first started going to ICW shows in late 2012 I had very little information going in. A few pals who had been to the previous show and highly recommended it based on the carnage of it all had three key pieces of information for me. The first thing was that the owner was a neddy guy who seemed really fuckin angry at something called mychannel for some reason. The second thing was this wee chubby guy who’s got hunners of funny videos on youtube jumped the guardrail and was in a match. And the third thing was that there was a guy who’d wrestled for WWE and TNA on the show. This was the caveat that was supposed to seal the deal to get me on board I think. This made it legit proper wrestling and not some leisure centre carry on where the wrestlers are all dressed as superheroes or different colours of power ranger 😉 and the guy they were referring to is of course Lionheart. Leader of the Team Believe movement and expert Rock Bottomer. If my memory serves me correctly he beat James Scott that night and the match was pretty good. As a complete newcomer to it all, it was fairly obvious why Lionheart had a glowing CV. There was no hesitation about his work. Not a hint of him being a guy who felt deep down that this wrestling carry on wouldn’t go much further. He believed he would make it and carried himself like a guy who believed that.

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Fast forward a few months later and he was gone. For good seemingly. Retired from pro wrestling when he had barely flirted with his prime. At that point I had no idea why, but having seen him tear the house down with Noam Dar at a show called Oran War (feels weird having to explain what this is considering how much of a huge deal it was at the time) where celebrity comedy people pitted teams of wrestlers against each other. I’ve nae idea why they were fighting, but it matters not. Lionheart was a part of the villainous Team Hemphill with Noam Dar representing the goodies of Team Florence and the match was fuckin scorchin. Properly relentless action. Lionheart lost that night but it was plain to see the talent was there. That boy Noam Dar’s done no too bad for himself since then aswell, but there was no fuckin’ way on this earth the guy opposite him that night should have even been considering retiring. Yet there we were a few months later at his last ICW match. In the auld Classic Grand against his hand-picked opponent Wolfgang. At the time I wasn’t fully clued up on how significant it was that Wolfgang would be his last ever opponent but I’ve since learned that theyve fought for pretty much every belt worth having in Scotland. A fitting end.

The match lived up to everything a last match of a career should be. Dramatic from the first bell to the last as Wolfgang ended Lionheart’s career with a defeat. Going totally from memory (wisnae writing hugely wordy reviews back then so fuck all to refer back to) I think it was a Texas Cloverleaf that finished it off, point is, the match was another example of why this cunt should not be considering retirement at all. A cracking story was told and some folk were moved to tears as Lionheart gave a farewell speech on how he thought Dallas was a dafty when he first met him because he had all these dreams about taking over the world (fast forward 3 and a half years and ICW are broadcast to nearly 40 countries worldwide, there’s a fine line between genius and dafty I guess) ending on the happy news of how he was going next door for a McDonalds and then up the to pump his missus. We were left to assume that was it. He spoke like a guy who was done with this life for whatever reason and for a while it was real. He was done. We didn’t see him again until mid 2013 so as wrestling retirements go it was actually quite a long one. On a scale of 1 to Terry Funk it was about a 6, but retiring at all and coming back did hurt Lionheart’s reputation a bit. I remember reading proper outrage from a few folk who felt short changed that they’d attended a retirement match for a guy who was back 6 months later and one man in particular took that ball and ran with it. That guy was Jackie Polo.

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For my money there hasn’t been a hotter feud in Scottish Wrestling in my time of going to these shows. Renfrew and Grado had plenty of venom behind it, but there was still a mutual respect there underneath it all. The fact that the feud was so hot in a dynamic where not a lot of mutual respect (if any) existed proves that the best stuff in wrestling has large doses of reality involved. The best characters are exaggerated versions of the real person portraying them, and the best feuds are more dramatic versions of real life disputes. Lionheart and Jackie Polo either really did not fucking like each other, or were giving Oscar worthy performances that portrayed them as guys who really did not fuckin like each other, but either way it was effective. Their verbal sparring was all leading to a red hot showdown at ICWs first 1,000+ sellout show in Glasgow, Still Smokin but before the feud could reach its bitter end, tragedy struck. Lionheart had another feud brewing at that time with none other than AJ Styles, and the culmination of that almost led to the culmination of Lionheart’s career. A Styles Clash where (by his own admission) Lionheart tucked his head when he shouldn’t have leading to a broken neck and another extended period on the sidelines but not being able to wrestle meant fuck all at that point. Fear of death at the time and fear of paralysis in the long term was very real.

There was an outpouring of well wishes, but in amongst it all Jackie Polo stayed true to the flippant attitude he had showed towards Lionheart throughout the feud. Tweeting “Another retirement looms” and poking at the wound before it had even begun to heal. That simple three word tweet turned the feud into something else. It went from a wrestling rivalry between guys who didn’t really like each other, to a fuckin fight. A fight that would be conducted under the pro wrestling banner but still, whenever it would happen, it was due to be a scrap. Lionheart battled hard to overcome the neck break and make it back to the ring to face Polo. He kept us all up to date with his progress and everyone in Scottish wrestling seemed to be pulling in his direction, but when the match was rescheduled and the ICW fans had a chance to pick their side, most of the favour seemed to be for Jackie because for all he was cunt about it, he was true to himself, you believed every single word he said and thing he did, whereas you sensed under Lionhearts veil of positivity there was a darkness there. Under the defiant, occasionally cheesy statements, there was a guy who carried around that neck break like a passenger. Physically he had healed but mentally it seemed to weigh heavy. Of course it fuckin did anaw, if you sustained a life threatening, career threatening, fuckin sanity threatening injury doing the thing you love wouldn’t it weigh heavy? The venom between him and Polo was still there but the match wasn’t the knockdown smashyercuntin brawl that it promised to be. Instead Jackie Polo pretty much battered a limp Lionheart tribute act. It made Polo look dynamite but made you wonder what was next for Lionheart as Polo eviscerated him on the mic after doing similar in the ring. If Polo was to be believed, Lionheart was a spent force in Scottish wrestling and truth be told, Lionheart’s body language told the same story. LionheartPolo3

The months that followed, in ICW terms anyway, were fucking strange for Lionheart. He was losing a lot of matches. Convincingly. A couple of excellent matches with Renfrew aside nothing was really noteworthy either. For that period he felt like just another guy. High profile cannon fodder for those on the way up. He wasn’t even on the way down to tell the truth, he was just there and seemingly content with that state of affairs. Rightly commended for the effort he put in to get back to the ring, but it was baffling as to why he would battle so hard to keep the dream alive only to stand idly by and watch that dream become meaningless. If you’ve strived to be the very best your whole career only to eventually settle for permanent residence on the lower rungs of the ladder then what the fuck was the point in dreaming big in the first place. It definitely hurt that the fans favoured Polo in that match. It hurt that after months and months of people sending their well wishes, willing him to make this epic comeback and when he eventually got the finish line and got ready to make his big return in front of a sold out Barrowlands, up against the big bad bastard who had firmly established himself as Lionheart’s moral enemy, and they rejected him. The massive “pop” that should have seen 1,600 folk go daft for the return of the prodigal son was instead a bit of a mixed, muted reaction. That must have been a bit world shattering. Humbling even. The humbling continued with the defeats that followed, until it was stopped dead in its tracks with an act of pure and utter scummery.

Mad to think its almost a year since we saw Lionheart lie motionless in the ICW ring during a match with Kenny Williams. Fair fucks to the supporting cast that night right enough, particularly Red Lightning who left his role of tyrannical GM at the door to play the role of guy who’s just seen his pal break his neck for the second time. His face was chalk white with supposed shock as he cleared a pathway in the audience for an ambulance to get through and the few non believers still left in that crowd were convinced. This was real. Lionheart was done. One neck break is recoverable. Physical and mental wounds can heal after doing that once, but twice? Nah. Even if he came out of it without any sort of paralysis there’s no fucking way you go back to doing a thing that’s led to you breaking your neck twice. That’s just illogical. If ye go scuba diving and a shark rips yer leg off, you’d maybe consider scuba diving again, but if you done it a few times then another shark ripped your other leg off that would be it. Game over. I’ve nae legs noo and I don’t think scuba diving is for me. Then he leapt up, landed a superkick on Kenny Williams chin and the losing streak was over. Demons conquered for good. That act low down dirty bastardry brought him back from the brink of permanent irrelevance and lit a fire under him. The only way to get completely over that first neck break was to own it and feigning that injury was him owning it. He no longer seemed like a guy who feared it happening again for real and a return match with AJ Styles at PCW seemed to put the demons to bed forever. He just needed one more thing to propel him back to where he wanted to be. Although he probably didn’t expect that thing to be a song tearing him a new arsehole.

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There had been some “Lionheart is a fanny” chants before Joe Hendry made that video but after it? Oh wow. It was open season. Team Believe became Team I Believe You’re A Fanny. “Broken neck? Whatever bitch” became “Broken fanny? Whitever ya fanny”. Anytime anyone uttered his name it would start up, even if you said something that sounded like you were about to say “Lionheart”  600 people would show up and start singing “Lionheart is a fanny” behind you. They ripped the piss out of Liam Thomson in that video as well yet no one remembers. The only thing they clung on to was Lionheart’s vaginal disposition and his penchant for taking selfies with his dug. That was the final straw. Although Lionheart had been established as a villain for a few months until that point, that was the final blow between him and the ICW audience. He took the Zero-G Title at the very same venue Polo had eviscerated him in a year earlier and well. He fuckin enjoyed it didn’t he. Lapped it up, because for all he had turned those negatives into positives for his current character, that pain was still real. The rejection was still raw and those were the last demons he needed exorcised before he could move on from it all and become something else. Something different. Something better. Something that a “fanny” wouldn’t be capable of. Would a “fanny” be able to recognise that booking Jackie Polo on the shows he runs for his own company PWE was a smart move? Nah. A fanny would continue to hold that grudge and miss out on money as a result of it, but when Polo emerged at PWE’s last show, it was the final sign that Lionheart had left the past behind. He knows Polo is fucking excellent at what he does and even if they’re never pals, having him on wrestling shows you run in this country is an absolute no brainer.

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ICW have lost significant talents lately. Renfrew is gone for the time being, Mikey Whiplash is on a hiatus from the company. Polo Promotions left on the same night Lionheart stunned the crowd by pinning Davey Boy with the Styles Clash to take the Zero-G Title. Speculation over these talent losses being permanent or not matters little, them not being there still leaves a void. A void that needs filled with top quality wrestling, and if you’ve been to the recent Fight Club tapings at The Garage or you’re keeping up with them On Demand, or if you live in one of the 38 countries ICW have a weekly tv show airing in, you’ll know he’s a big reason these shows have been dynamite. A beauty of a battle with Lewis Girvan that got the crowd firmly behind Girvan, perhaps more so than they’ve ever been in his time in ICW, an entertaining Zero-G Title defence against Zack Gibson and then there was last weeks show and that rollercoaster with BT Gunn. The re-ignition of another long standing Scottish Wrestling feud but this time BT Gunn played the role of the guy everyone within a 10 mile radius of the building wanted to win and Lionheart played the villain. BT Gunn once denied him the Scottish Wrestling grand slam by retaining the ICW Title against him in 2012, so it was Lionheart’s turn to deny BT something in the most agonising way possible with BT looking to become ICW’s first Triple Crown winner. So many times The Garage crowd felt like it was happening until it wasn’t. Two Styles Clashes and some shenanigans from Stevie Boy and Kay Lee Ray finally putting BT Gunn to the sword but if you were there that night you’ll know that they captivated the place. It was the Lionheart of old, somehow striking the perfect balance between being the most hated guy in ICW while also being one of its most exciting performers.

To go from the indifference and almost pity many people had for him during his losing streak in the wake of the Polo defeat, to being right back in amongst it at the top end of the card is no mean feat. Certainly not the work of a person you could consider a “fanny” but by all means keep chanting it. If he keeps acting like one he deserves it. He’s the bad guy after all. He’s the one you’re supposed to hate. Team Believe went into liquidation a long time ago and in its place is Team Sook Ma Fuckin Plums Ya Cunts. One thing’s for sure, no matter if you think he’s a fanny or not. He’s good at this wrestling patter. If you don’t believe that, take a wee minute to properly listen to the chants at the next ICW show and tell me what one’s the loudest or at least one of the loudest. Its the one that starts with Lionheart and ends with a fanny.

Credit to David J.Wilson and ICW On Demand for the photos. 

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