The Lasting Impact Of Drew Galloway, ICW Hall Of Famer

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Drew Galloway has always been The Chosen One. Long before Vince McMahon fired that moniker on him and it nearly pulled him to the ground like an anchor round his neck for the latter part of his first WWE run, he was always the one. Professional wrestling in Scotland has existed for a long time but Drew Galloway is the reason it is what it is today. That’s not an attempt to remove credit from anyone else, that’s not diminishing the hard work of anyone else at all, its simply a fact. Without Scotland producing this Disney prince looking motherfucker who made you believe in everything he does in and out of the ring, wrestling might not have ever happened here. It would have kept on existing and it would have had a following just like any other niche thing in entertainment, but running venues like the SECC and The Hydro? Forget it. Even places as big as the ABC, Barrowlands etc would have been a big ask if Drew was never born. Wrestling has always been niche, and small counties like Scotland don’t usually become a hotbed for something like this but Drew is the domino effect. He set a standard and it was up to everyone else to shoot for it and by god have they done that. The people who started out at the same time as him have all gone on to be integral cogs in the current thriving scene we have up here. The people he’s influenced since his return in 2014 continue to feel his influence. He was born to do this and as much as his body, and at times his mind, won’t be thankful for that, we are very lucky as fans that he happened to be born in Scotland.

When Drew started out 16-17 years ago, by his own admission there was nothing here. No schools. Hardly any down south either. No real scene of note to cut your teeth in. No hope really. If making it in the wrestling business was ever going to become his or anyone else’s reality an unimaginable amount of work had to be done. Being a foot taller than anyone else who existed at that time in Scotland (or ever has since) wasn’t going to be enough. Managing to get enough out of the almost non existent training to become a great wrestler wasn’t going to be enough either. The door was never going to swing open and invite Drew through it, he was going to have to take they what I assume are size 18s or something mad like that and kick the fucking thing down and that’s exactly what he done when he signed with WWE in 2007. He set a precedent then and the scene he left behind grew to something bigger than he or anyone else could ever have imagined in his absecne. While the hard work put in by so many while he was chasing the dream was all THEIR hard work, his success was the catalyst. He was the reason folk who might have chucked it long ago decided to persevere. He was the example that made any setbacks anyone else had nothing more than that. Just a bump in the road rather than a fatal head on collision. He was the catalyst for a scene that continues to go from strength to strength, and him making it to the WWE made everyone believe, while it was their hard work while he was gone that gave him the perfect platform to re-announce himself to the wrestling world when the dream turned ever so slightly sour. His first real setback in wrestling. After a few years of middling and trying to carve something good out of being comic relief as part of 3MB, Drew Mcintyre was released after 7 years with WWE. A few short weeks later, Drew Galloway was re-born.

Crashing Shug’s House Party

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Ya rude big bastard ye. A few spent years spent in America and the big man forgot his manners. Without invite, Drew Galloway showed up just as Chris Renfrew was about to cash in his Square Go title shot against Jack Jester, who had just been subjected to a kicking from Renfrew and his NAK stablemates. Jester’s year-long reign with the title was coming to an end. It was time. Little did Jester, or indeed Renfrew know, it wasn’t for the reasons they thought. It wasn’t because Renfrew had picked the perfect moment for the cash in and had Jester right where he wanted him. It wasn’t because Jester just couldn’t hold on after a year of fighting tooth and nail to keep a hold of that shiny belt he had coveted for so long. None of that mattered. It was all down to a big handsome bastard deciding his WWE release was not the end. Far from it. It was just the beginning for him personally and as much as ICW might not have known it then, it was the beginning of a new and brilliant chapter for a company who were doing just fine before his return. Great in fact. At that time ICW were unquestionably the biggest independent wrestling company in the UK and Shugs House Party was the second time they had sold out the 1,000+ capacity ABC. All was rosy and ICW was the best night out 15 quid could buy, but that night Drew came back and shocked the whole building by turning on best friend Jack Jester moments after saving his Championship; Chucking him off the stage through a table, ICW knew there was another level to be reached. Another door to be opened, except this time kicking it down wasn’t required. They had the key. The key was Drew.

The big factor that made his return so significant was his motivation being a bit different to what usually happens when someone gets released from WWE after being a success with the company. Most folk want back there ASAP and seem to almost believe being their once makes them instantly better than wrestling anywhere else. Almost as if wrestling owed them something. Drew has never seemed to be that guy and when he was released he knew exactly where he needed to be. He could have stayed in the US and wrestled exclusively over there, maybe coming back for a wee high-profile visit every now and then where he’d stoat in, act like the Billy Big Baws with the funny accent, stick his wage in his back pocket and get back to his comfortable wee life but that wasn’t for him. Drew knew fine well what was happening on the Scottish Wrestling scene and the noise ICW were making locally and globally in his absence and he wanted in. He believed in it just like he did when ICW were just starting out and he was the first man who was able to call himself ICW Champion. The new mission statement was simple. Get ICW on TV and become the first man who could call himself ICW WORLD Heavyweight Champion.

Raising The Bar

Fear and Loathing 7 was the night it all changed. When Drew Galloway and Jack Jester went head to head that night it was billed as the biggest match in Scottish history and everyone in the building that night believed that to be the case. It held weight. Former best pals seeing their friendship come to a bitter, probably bloody end because of a wrestling championship. It was massive, and when Drew won to become a two-time ICW Champion a seismic shift occurred. ICW was no longer going to be a big deal just locally. ICW was ready to make the kind of noise that has yer neighbours from two streets away phoning the polis. ICW was ready to have a globe-trotting workhorse representing them not just when he wrestled here, but when he wrestled everywhere.Despite all the success and brilliant things happening to ICW, there was another gear they could get to and Drew Galloway helped them slide into it seamlessly. Everyone seemed to almost get better over night.

Chris Renfrew eventually cashed in his Square Go briefcase in a match at the 2015 Square Go against Galloway and we saw a Renfrew no one, even Renfrew himself, had ever seen before. A captivating match where Renfrew’s year-long pursuit of the title came to an almost tragic end. Losing the best match of his career to date, cutting a crestfallen figure at the end. Big Damo had revamped his look and was making a big impression but there’s no doubt Drew was his absolute perfect opponent and when they squared off both men reached another level. Having such a unique opponent brought the best out in Drew and the matches between them is undoubtedly a big reason both men now pick up a WWE paycheque. Joe Coffey had an absolute war with Drew at the Barrowlands and while his performance levels in the ring probably couldn’t  have got any better, having such a big match on a high profile show undoubtedly helped shine a bright light on his talent. His time in ICW made so many people better, including Drew himself. ICW let him be a wrestler again.

Then TNA happened and for some inexplicable reason, the waters got muddied a bit. Wrestling fans are the most fickle fuckers around, most will admit that to you, but the way they turned on Drew after that massive outpouring of emotion that night he made his return at Shug’s was startling stuff. A surprise to many, but probably not Drew himself.

“Drew go away, go away….BACK TAE TNA”

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Wrestling is a mad thing. A make-believe world driven by real emotions. When a company like ICW, who dance along the line between make believe and real like few others can, put a guy like Drew Galloway at the forefront of their product, there is a shelf life as to how long that can last before the natives get restless. ICW suffers at times from an inability for its fanbase to see past the end of their own beaks. I say that as a fan myself. Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in something, anything that you see as a threat to it becomes something that warrants hostility and even though Drew Galloway saw TNA as a platform to elevate himself and in turn ICW, a percentage of the ICW fans didn’t quite see it that way. Drew appearing and becoming a focal point of TNA was a conflict of interests to them and it became a stick that was used to beat him with. Some might have been a bit hurt at that. Grafting all over the globe representing ICW as best he could and anytime he came back to Glasgow he was told to bolt. Some might have put the petted lip on but Drew became something else. Drew became a bastard. Drew joined auld mates Jack Jester and Red Lightning to form The Black Label and well, The Black Label fucked shit up for a long time. They laughed at anyone who dared to take umbrage with them fucking shit up. Drew was no longer all about gettin SCAAAAAATLAND to become a major factor on the wrestling circuit, Drew was all about one thing. Drew was about Drew. Drew was about holding on to the ICW Title at all costs. Then there was Grado.

When ICW announced they were running the 4,000 capacity SECC it felt monumental. Huge. Considering where the company started out, it was an unimaginable level of success to obtain. Running that building alone was a big deal but to sell the fucking thing out in advance? That was a show. That was a show people wanted to see. Nah fuck that, it was a show people NEEDED to see. For several reasons, but the main one was Drew vs Grado.

Grado had been a contender for the ICW Title before. Having brilliant title matches with Red Lightning and Mikey Whiplash in the past that had The Garage bouncing but with the greatest of respects to The Garage to repeat that feet in a building about 6 times the size? That would take a match of epic proportions and Drew Galloway vs Grado was it. Drew had mercilessly mocked and dissected Grado’s character in the build up. So much so that the rest of the roster saw fit to try to bring another side out in Grado. Colt Cabana, Damo, Joe Coffey and even Grado’s arch-enemy Renfrew told Grado if he was going to overcome an obstacle like Drew, he was going to have to bring something out in himself that we’d never seen before. Not just a mean streak, something more inspired than that. A mean streak isn’t enough to pin a guy who’s about a foot taller than you. Neither is punching him repeatedly in the baws. What it was going to take was a refusal to quit. A refusal to die. A refusal to give up no matter what Drew chucked at him and with timely hauners from Mick Foley as Red Lightning threatened to once again tip the odds in The Black Labels favour, Grado amidst rapturous scenes in front of 4,000. It felt right. Grado has always had all these amazing attributes, he’s always been the ost charismatic guy on the roster, but he needed a truly selfless baddie to create that wonderful moment and that’s what Drew was on the night. His shift that night was to make the good guy look fucking amazing and it was a shift that led Mick Foley to compare their match to Ric Flair vs Dusty Rhodes. The highest of all the praise.

The Chosen One Is Chosen Again

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Drew Galloway is a man who delivers on his promises. Even one’s he doesn’t broadcast to the world, he still delivers. When he was released there’s no doubt that in his mind, the goal was to get back to WWE. That is still the pinnacle and when his TNA contract ended and he didn’t re-sign with them, it was fairly clear where he was headed. The thing about it is, he wasn’t just headed back there because he had wrestled there before and they needed someone they knew and trusted to fill a role. He was going back because he had re-invented himself and become the hottest property on the Independent scene. Winning titles from Evolve to ICW and everywhere in between. Drew was going back almost as a form of admittance from WWE that they got it wrong the first time. He wouldn’t be coming back to be comic relief this time. Nor was he coming back to be told “We’ve got nothing for you big man, keep conditioning the fuck out of that hair but, its working for ye” he was coming back to make good on his promises. He was coming back to be the man.

Drew was actually on TV every week before his release the first time but being the dutiful professional he is, he knew what his role was. Even if he knew he was better than that role, he knew he was supposed to lose and if that was the job he was given, that was the job he was going to do. Being comic relief and losing most of the time wasn’t exactly the best place to be hitting a big single legged dropkick that sends the opponent to the other side of the ring as if they’ve been shot out of a cannot. It wasn’t the best place to be hitting a Double Arm DDT that cracks the opponents skull in half. When Drew came back he knew he needed to be in a place where 3MB Drew had never existed because that’s not who he was anymore. He got his head down and got on with the job back then like a true professional does, hoping for something else to come but when it never did he made something else happen on his own. That was the Drew that was coming back to WWE. The Drew they first signed except this time so much bigger, badder and better than he was then. A full 10 years after his first run began, Drew was back but instead of being full of hopes and dreams, he was full of goals. The first of those goals was to conquer NXT.

Drew Mcintyre – NXT Champion, Drew Galloway – ICW Hall Of Famer

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Much like ICW had grown to an unimaginable level in Drew’s absence, something special had happened to NXT while he was gone from WWE. It had gone from being seen as purely developmental, to its own special entity. The emphasis has still always been to make stars for the main roster in the future but the setting had become something else. Almost relief for anyone fatigued at how the main roster was. NXT was where you went for the proper wrestling. The wrestlers, rather than the larger than life SUUUUUPERSTARS on RAW and Smackdown. Even though he was an ex tag team and Intercontinental Champion from his first run, this run had to be something else. Drew had to be something else, so the first run was put to one side and Drew announced himself on NXT as something else. A killer. A baw bootin rambunctious big bastard. He was here for one reason and one reason only. Take the NXT Title and do to NXT what he had done with every promotion he wrestled for on the Indies. Take them to the next level. a few short onths after his debut he ended Bobby Roode’s long title reign and another promise had been delivered.

Unfortunately an injury has derailed him slightly, a torn bicep sustained when he lost the title to Andrade Cien Almas in November last year. In all honesty, bold proclamations of taking NXT to the next level aside, there was only so long he was going to be there anyway. WWE didn’t re-sign Drew to graft on NXT for the rest of his career, he was brought back to be a major player. They had no doubt kept a keen eye on him throughout his time away and only pulled the trigger on bringing him back when it was just right. The injury was hugely unfortunate and delayed his second main roster debut a bit but he was losing his title that night anyway and no doubt would have been main roster bound sooner rather than later so his speech when he was inducted into the ICW Hall Of Fame put to bed any doubts as to what the next goal is.

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When he stoated out at ICW on Monday night to fulfil the role as The Kinky Party’s relationship counsellor, there was nae nonsense. No one telling Drew to go back to NXT. Just love. Appreciation. Wrestling fans are fickle bastards. They’ll tell you that openly. Whatever his perceived sins where back then were gone. A case of not truly appreciating what you had until its gone. Drew was back amongst family again. In an environment where he felt comfortable. The very same venue he made his ICW return and shocked the world. Shocked the live audience to the point people were in tears, near fainting. That was the Drew being celebrated. His induction was unlike any Hall Of Fame induction wrestling has ever seen and he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. He forced Jack Jester and Sha Samuels to make up, citing their ability to make people laugh as being an essential part of an ICW that would be a much darker place without them. He shared a laugh with Mark Dallas about how the giraffe he had lined up was no longer needed for his entrance, nor was the wee budgie that had some kind of trick lined up for us.  All because he had to put out one more fire before accepting his induction to the ICW Hall Of Fame and going after the next goal. Chasing the next accomplishment. The big one.

Everyone in ICW and Scottish Wrestling in general will always feel Drew Galloway’s presence. His 3 years back here helped each and every person he worked with reach another level. If he was on awful terms with WWE and never had a chance of going back we’d all gladly accept him back here permanently. Of course. He’s too good and too driven not to. That is not the case however. WWE very much want him and that being the case, we don’t want ye back big man. Not while the big goal is still out there to be reached. There’s never been a Scottish born WWE Champion. Imagine the first one also happened to be a guy who helped build Scottish Wrestling to being what it is today? Whether its Galloway or McIntyre. Good guy or bad guy. WWE or ICW. There’s no doubt the whole of Scottish Wrestling is firmly behind the big man once again as he shoots for the next one. Becoming the WWE Champion.

Thanks to David J.Wilson and eh….the internet I guess, for the photos. 

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