An Interview With ICW Women’s Champion Kasey

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The rise of Kasey has been the result of nothing but hard graft. As much of a cliche as it can be, in this case it’s just the truth. There’s scarcely a more satisfying thing as a wrestling fan than seeing someone who’s properly given it everything finally getting somewhere significant and the recent haul of pretty much all the belts tells you all you need to know about Kasey’s work. The Shug’s House Party 4 weekender arguably belonged to her, or certainly her performances took her to the next level. Two hugely significant, not to mention very different victories over one of the best wrestlers in Europe in Kay Lee Ray showed any remaining doubters that on her day Kasey is just as good as those regularly making an impression all over the map. The fact that those two victories won her the ICW Women’s Title says that one of the top independent wrestling promotions in the world trusts her to lead their Women’s Division. Nae mean feat considering the other Women given that accolade have been recently featured in The Mae Young Classic or exist currently as the only member of the ICW Hall Of Fame. Kay Lee Ray, Viper and Carmel are all part of the brickwork at ICW now and Kasey will be hoping this run as champion puts her on the same level.

Seemingly she’s going to get to that level by kneeing people with vicious force. Is there any better way? Read the interview. Not conducted upside down despite the photo at the top. It’s just a cool photo, please don’t mistake it for how Kasey usually is. She’s only upside down like 20% of the time. Usually trying to break her opponents arm on the ropes.


You came into ICW in 2013? Its been around 5 years now and a lot has changed. Leading to the success you’ve had recently. How would you describe your own journey in ICW and the point its at today? 

The journeys certainly not been a straight.line thats for sure.
Debuting for Fierce Females and speaking to Dallas after about potentially debuting for ICW was quite exciting. It was Leah that introduced me to it as he had heard of the company through The British wrestler Vice documentary. We both wanted to wrestle for ICW from moment we watched their footage on YouTube. We sporadically had matches and appearances here and there for ICW over the coming years but nothing seemed to click, so I focused more on training and becoming a singles wrestler in the company as it was becoming apparent Leah was wanting to move on to other things.
I regressed a little to working merch and doing ring crew etc so I could watch the matches and the shows and learn something that way. 2017 as really been the year I have been able to come into my own and showcase what I have learned thanks to great matches with Kay Lee and Viper and the various multi womens matches.
Its not been an easy one but one that taught me that although things aren’t happening as fast as you like it, continue working hard and putting your head down and good things will come.

Having won the ICW Women’s Title on the Shug’s weekender, beating Kay Lee Ray twice, momentum is with you. What do you think you can do for the title as its champion, and what do you think the title can do for you?

How crazy is life. 42 seconds changed everything for me and validated all the work I have been putting in for the last 5 years to reach the top.
Hopefully I can represent the Championship with to the high standard that it has been held previously. To me this Championship represents all those shows that I sat ringside watching Kay Lee and Viper put on amazing matches and that I could now possibly be considered good enough to represent the company.
This Championship means so much to me and I won’t give it up without a fight. I fought too long and too hard for it to be taken away from me. Its easily recognised as one of the top women’s championships in the UK and I am honoured to be holding it.

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Being champ almost instantly paints a big target on your back, probably saying “kick me” underneath it. As Roxxy’s sneak attack last night and Jamie Winters taking shots at you on the mic proves. How do you feel knowing every female on the roster is coming for you, and on a wider scale, every female in independent wrestling? You up for battering them all?

Bring it on. The only way to stay on top is to keep ahead of the competition and I welcome anyone to come and try. I am a fighting champion.
After all I am a little bit crazy. They just need to remember one thing I will do anything to keep my Championship.

Reading between the lines, that means she’s willing to murder and disembowel anyone coming for that shiny belt. Back aff. Unless you’re into being murdered and not having organs anymore.

The promo you had on the most recent ICW show was brilliantly done. Very well put across. Is that a side you’ve been putting lot of work into? 

Yeah promos for me are the most nerve wracking thing. I always had Leah to do the talking for me and then I’d just put people to sleep.
Its something that with time I hope will become easier for me. The key to this business is to be able to talk. Wrestling itself can get us so far but there comes a time when your a singles competitor where you have to take the mic and assert yourself not only as a good wrestler but a good talker as well.
Still dont think Il never not be nervous doing them but guess I’ll just have

to use that to fuel them.
Obviously it might be somewhat of a touchy subject so feel free to tell me to bolt, but the comments about your sister have got gradually more personal. Insulting a family member or even someone close brings out an instinctive urge to protect at all costs. Why do you think they’re going after you so personally? To throw you off your game? 
I’m just gettin sick sore and tired of people using my sister to try to get themselves over in promos. to be honest. Leahs not with ICW anymore for her own personal reasons.
Yeah it annoys me but only for the fact that she’s not here and she wont be coming back so she can’t defend herself.  I’m the person you’re wrestling not Leah, I’ve heard everything before, its time to put it to bed now.
Thats why I have dropped the Owens from my name so people will associate Kasey the singles wrestler with ICW not Kasey Owens the tag team wrestler.

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You’ve had a few really good matches in ICW recently and that’s certainly gone a long way to convincing folk you are at the top-tier when it comes to women’s wrestling in Europe. Do you plan on carrying this success further and making a mark elsewhere, perhaps adding a shiny belt or two to the collection? 

Definitely. ICW means the world to me. I’m going to use this success to wrestle all over the world. Hopefully in the USA soon.
I’m not resting on my laurels,to stay on top I need to be constantly improving and training. So I’ll still make it to training when I can to stay ahead of the competition. Constant improvement and hard work will pay off in the end.

You’ve clearly worked very hard to get to this stage after a bit of uncertain period. Working with a renewed motivation and carving out a character for yourself. What advice would you give anyone else who might be looking for that wee bit extra to push them to the next level?

To quote a certain Superstar – “Never Give Up” (Nae surer way to become a Snapmare Necks all time favourite than a wee John Cena quote)
The road to success is never an easy one. Just keep pushing ignore the naysayers and truly believe in your own abilities. The only person that can hold you back is yourself.
So really its up to you how far your willing to push yourself mentally and physically to get to where you want to be.

Is there anyone in particular you’d say you look up to in wrestling that provides a bit of inspiration?  

So many.
Its obvious I’m a Lita fan and I’ve said it many times before in various other interviews why.
Eddie Guerrero,Dean Malenko, and dare I say Chris Benoit. All just geniuses in the ring.

Closer to home I have to say Kay Lee Ray, Viper and Toni Storm for the Women. All have done so much for womens wrestling throughout the UK and the World.

kasey3Fierce Females is making a return this year after a hiatus. With Women’s Wrestling deservedly taking a bigger share of the spotlight than it maybe ever has, what do you think the promotion can bring to the table and why should fans shift their arses and get to a show?

Great talent showcasing their skills. That should be enough.

Your wrestling style recently has been… brutal. In the best way. Everything just looks incredibly sare. Was that deliberate in keeping with the current character and see when you do that armbar on the rope, are you actually trying to pull yer opponents arm off?

Why of course I am but I’m restricted to 5 seconds to try as I’m hanging on the ropes

ICW is nae rules technically so you might just see a full arm removal sometime soon. Fingers crossed

Last but not least, anything you want to say feel free. Plug your social media or whatever you like

Twitter – KaseyOwens5
Instagram – kaseyowens11
Facebook – Kasey

If interested in t-shirts I’ve limited sizes available in both just email the page or tweet me for more info.

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New LTD Edition Prints will be released Monday 18th.


Thank you to Kasey for her time and David J.Wilson for the images used. Not entirely sure who’s responsible for the upside down one actually so if it wasn’t Mr Wilson please message me and I’ll credit your stellar work.

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A Pint And An Interview With Sha Samuels

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“I haven’t told you about my start yet! Switch it back on!”

It was 9pm when I hauled my phone out to record one last nugget of wisdom from the mouth of Sha Samuels. We were stood outside Walkabout in Glasgow as I got ready to leave, and the act of pulling my phone out caused the earth to move off its axis which resulted in a slight stumble to the left. All of a sudden I realised day had become night, sober had become drunk, and 3pm had become 9pm. We’d been drinking under the guise of an ‘interview’ for 6 hours and there’s not a minute of it that wasn’t completely absorbing. A lot of people are considered to be in the upper tier of British Wrestling because you’re told that’s where they belong. Or someone else tells you how good they are. Sha Samuels is there because he earned it. He’s there because for 15 years he was the absolute best villain in the UK. One of the very best on the globe. It all started with some handy advice from his trainer. Former World Of Sport wrestler “The Cockney Kid” Tony Scarlo.

“I got into wrestling when I was in 6th form in Secondary School. Everyone was a big wrestling fan then. It was 2001/2002. Someone had the brahma bull tatoo, and I went up to him and asked if he liked wrestling and he said he was trained to be a wrestler. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know that was a possibility. So I went to training at Dropkicks Wrestling Academy. I was trained by a 60-year-old fucking….mannn. Tony Scarlo. He wrestled for WoS. Beat up Dynamite Kid. That’s my fuckin trainer, and he taught me how to be a wrestler. Once we were good enough in his eyes, we’d try to come to training on a Sunday and he’d tell us to fuck off. “What the fuck you doin ‘ere? I’ve taught you how to be a wrestler, don’t come here and train, get out there and work! I don’t want your fucking money!”

“He was a black cabbie, and he was around when London was full of arseholes. Villains. Scumbags. I started off working as Sha The Sheikh Hussain right. 9/11 had just happened and I’m going out doing a fucking Sheikh gimmick. Full on. Prayer mat and all that. I embraced being Iranian right. He says to me “What the fuck you doing that for? What’s the matter wiv ‘ya? You’ll get lynched ya cunt…you’re from East fuckin London ya cunt. All you gotta do is speak loud, speak proud and cunts will be afraid of you.”

“I hope hes not watching my matches back now, because he said to me “do me one favour…never go to that fuckin top rope. If it takes 5 seconds to do a move, its fuckin bent. Just knock the shit out the cunt.” Thats how I was taught. I’m so proud of that. I’m proud of how I was taught because no one gives advice like that.”

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Its advice Sha has followed to the tee. Even in his current good guy role, the voice still booms. It booms so much at one point during the interview Sha grabbed my phone and started cutting a promo into it which caused the guy behind the bar to come over and tell him off. The “Sorry John, Two Tennents please” retort from Sha fell on deaf ears as he agreed to calm the swearing down but it was one of those moments that articulated a point better than anything else could. Speak loud, speak proud, and cunts will be afraid of you. “I’m gonna have that on my tombstone when I die”

While he reflects positively on the wisdom passed down to him by a WoS alumni, he has no plans on taking that path himself just yet. Tanning pints and tanning folks jaws is just too much fun right now to dedicate any time to teaching others the art of Sha, as he went on to explain.

“I’ll be a coach when I’m like 50 years old. I don’t wanna be a coach now. Because I’m still a wrestler. There’s so much talent in British wrestling right now, I’m really against there being so many training schools out there. People are trying to get their training school over, and I get it right, its business, but there’s so much talent out here, we don’t need to be saturating the scene with lesser talent. We don’t need to be rushing people before they’re ready. Sometimes people get rushed into a spot and they don’t do as well as someone more experienced because they’ve not had to work for it. When I was a trainee it took me 2 years to have a match, nowadays these trainees get put on a show and they think stuff should be handed to them. I’ve seen trainees nowadays treat it as a laugh. Not taking it seriously. The wrestling scene here is so good, if we start letting more and more lesser talents creep in, the show quality’s gonna drop off.  It’s not bitterness either. Its anger. It angers me because a lot of them don’t realise just how good they’ve go it, compared to how it was before”

“One thing I will say is that some of them are maybe even too committed to their characters. At that stage it should be about grasping the fundamentals first and not getting set as one character, then you’re more able to change it up if something goes wrong”

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Sha admitted the ICW Shug’s weekender was actually supposed to be his last in wrestling. He wanted to go out on a match with his best mate, after what he admitted has been a difficult period in the aftermath of the World Of Sport disappointment. ITV announced a 10 week run building on their revival of the legendary show at New Year’s Eve. A show Sha featured prominently on as part of the villainous trio who terrorised Grado throughout. As tough as it was to take, experiencing that disappointment with his best mate added a heartbreaking chapter to their story. A feud that has produced some of the most believable work in British wrestling, while creating a bond that goes far beyond knocking the living fuck out each other in the ring.

“After the World Of Sport deal got canned, this year’s been the worst year for me in wrestling. I’m not gonna lie, it got so bad, Shugs was gonna be my last week as a wrestler. Tag with Noam then wrestle Grado. That would be the perfect way to go out. shaaaaaIts hard to take. Its a sore point. All these guys are getting recognition from WWE and all that aswell, and its almost like because we backed the other thing we’re being ostracised, although it wasn’t a case of us backing that over WWE, its more we didn’t have anything else on at the time and took this huge opportunity. Its a sore point. Its the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. Losing that (10 week deal). Its changed my life in the sense that, its changed my outlook. Sometimes I struggle getting out of bed wondering what could have been. Its always lingering. Being told you’re getting 10 weeks on ITV to having to go back to Butcher Shop. People asking me ‘I thought you were on TV!?” and all that. It was heartbreaking.”

Its a heartbreak that seems to have created a bond amongst those who experienced which might be the lasting legacy of the whole thing. A bond that was formed across the two days of filming they were involved in together to create the show that aired on ITV at New Year.

“I cannot describe how magical those two days were. We done a three day tour with ICW, then me, Mark, Joe and Viper are travelling from Bristol 4 hours away to the ITV studios, and they put us in separate cars. It occurred to me why that might be, so I asked them “is this so if one of the cars gets in an accident, not all of us end up dead?” they’re like, not as bad…but sort of on those lines *laughs* . I was like fuck, welcome to show-business. ITV paid for a car which was nice, and we were excited. If British Wrestling goes on to achieve nothing, we will always be that team that put it back on national TV for one night only. those two days were amazing. It was afterwards that was shit. The anxiety about it. Hearing WWE have announced the tournament and contracts are being offered to guys. We’re hearing nothing. We’re thinking we’ve fucked our futures here”

Despite the heartache at how it worked out, no one can ever take that show away from those involved. If they had enough faith in the talent who made the show what it was in the first place, it would be in the middle of a 10 week run on National TV right now. A lack of faith in that and a desire to get involved with an experienced wrestling company is what saw it unravel, much to Sha’s visible frustration

“It aired, and you know what? I loved it. I was proud. My Dad hates that I do wrestling and that was the first time he watched me and said he was proud. So I was on cloud nine. Then we got the 10 weeks, and we’re fucking ecstatic, and then it got canned.”

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“Jeff Jarrett was like ’10 weeks is not enough, we need every week’ ….This is not Pop TV you fucking…..10 weeks on ITV is bigger than 4 years on Pop TV. Honestly, if they’d told me it was just the one show, I think I’d have been fine, but after announcing the 10 weeks, and getting us up there for a press conference, it was hard to take. Honestly? I felt I nailed it at that press conference. Then 3 or 4 weeks later it gets snatched away. The thing that hurts the most, is the WWE guys not realising that if we didn’t do World Of Sport, the success they’ve had might not have happened.”

The heartache over the whole ordeal comes with no lingering resentment towards ITV. A TV company who took a gamble reviving the show in the first place but seemed to believe it could be a success, with the admittance that they personally didn’t have a clue how to run it.

“One thing I will say in ITV’s defence. ITV don’t have a clue about wrestling right. They do a bit of research trying to find out who the 2nd biggest company in wrestling is, and they thing lets get in bed with TNA They were adamant they needed someone who knows how to run a wrestling promotion. It was touchy as well, because we got offered it in August and we were told to keep it secret. Nothing in wrestling gets kept a secret, but we all managed to keep that a secret, and it got announced there was a bit of backlash. People were upset we didn’t tell them and all that, but we had to explain its a big deal. We weren’t allowed to say anything. Us taking that deal, although nothing changed, gave some people the perception that we’d got too big for our boots. Which wasn’t the case”

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As much of a heartache as the World Of Sport debacle has been, it wasn’t the first realisation that no matter how much you stand out and how hard you work, sometimes they just don’t want you. It was Sha providing the perfect villain that helped Grado shine as the perfect hero on TNA’s British Bootcamp. A show that seems like a lifetime ago now, but at the time was the biggest opportunity British Wrestlers had been given en mass to impress on the global stage.

“That was my first heartbreak in wrestling. They told me the reason we’re not putting you through is because you’ve got a family, you’ve got a business and that’s more important and the whole time I was like ‘what? you dont know my personal life”  I thought I was one of the best on that show and I was told no. It hurt me. So much so, my first ICW Scottish booking was the following day, and I told Grado I’m not doing it. What’s the point? He told me “You fucking get on that plane” That was my first realisation in wrestling that it doesn’t matter how good you are, or how hard you work, it means fuck all, its all fixed, its entertainment. If they want that guy on top, they’ll have that guy on top. It was all that stuff that made Grado look like the star he is and Al Snow was definitely watching because their match at The Hydro and our match at The York Hall? Lets just say there’s similarities”

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While they were still a wee bit away from becoming the all conquering, pinky raising, shiny jaisket wearing trio we know today, Sha saw British Bootcamp as the first time he really bonded with Noam Dar. Providing a voice of reason to a guy who now shares a locker room with guys like Brock Lesnar, The Big Show and maybe even The Undertaker on the odd occasion. Assuming deid guys actually need to get dressed. I have no idea how the afterlife works.

“Thats how I bonded with Noam as well. TNA British Bootcamp was the first big thing to happen. We’re all paranoid because we don’t want to fuck it up. So you’ve got Noam shitting himself, worried about being made to look like an arsehole and we had a 7 hour conversation in a Premier Inn in Preston. With me just easing his nerves. That’s when we bonded really. I was the one telling him its a job, we’re just all booked, its fixed, its bent, its a TV show. At the end of it he didnt get picked originally, and neither did I and I think that bonded us as well”

“We’ve come back (after being told who makes it through) Samoa Joe was Noam’s hero watching wrestling (thats how young he is). He’s had his hero say to him “You’re amazing, you’re a star” so he started crying. I’m tearing up. We’d bonded over the last few weeks and I see the little Jew across the room crying. We’re just crying over wrestling. Its embarrassing but it gives you a bond. Thats how much we give a shit. Then it turned out Kris Travis couldn’t do the show, so they’re looking for his replacement while I’m travelling down to do ICW and Noam got the shout instead. It all worked out in the end…in fact, FUCK HIM, he’s in WWE now *laughs* so he can fuck off”

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Turning face after years of being the best villain was a necessity if “The Pinky Party” was going to happen, but it was being the very best baddie out there that made Sha and Grado’s battles so special and their chemistry in the ring created a bond outside it. Their match at ICW’s second London show “What’s Your Boggle” wasn’t seen by as many folk as it should have been due to the show clashing with the fuckin’ World Cup Final, but it was a show that displayed how natural their dynamic was. A dynamic that helped Grado gain the confidence to see himself as more than just a comedy guy as Sha explained.

“He had problems up here when he got big. Some people definitely resented him and couldn’t take it. In their eyes it was “How can this fat nobody be so popular?” that blew peoples minds. People couldn’t take it. And after that match (At Whats Your Boggle in London) he said ‘the first time I felt like a wrestler was after that match’ and I thought wow, that’s amazing. People would only ever go to him and say “do this, do your comedy” and I was like “No…you go out and fight…you can fuckin fight” I think working with each other we formed this crazy bond. If I didn’t have him, I’d have quit wrestling. If he didn’t have me, he might not have a job in TNA. The whole reason I was on that British Bootcamp thing was to make him look good. We had that match in London, British Bootcamp was coming up, and he put me over to Borash from TNA. I did this thing, where we’re doing ring workouts, and out of nowhere I just start beating him up for real. I threw him out the ring, and he knew since we’d become friends that he should be jumping back in there and fighting back. He came back in and beat me up. We did the whole fight and the producer comes up to us and says ‘That was fucking amazing’ ”

Comparisons between that match in 2014 and their match at Shug’s Night Two could be drawn, only with the two pals finding themselves in the opposite roles. It was unquestionably a difficult moment for Sha to put an end to Grado’s ICW career. Especially since he admits he might have quit wrestling as far back as 2012 if he hadn’t seen the Vice documentary that first shot ICW and Grado into mainstream prominence. A journey that has since seen Grado hold the highly prestigious mantle of being Sha Samuels favourite wrestler

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“”He’s my best mate, but hand on heart…he’s my favourite wrestler. People dont want to admit it, but no ones ever come away from a Grado match not feeling something. Drew vs Grado at the SECC is one of the best matches I’ve ever seen. Originally when we won the belt Noam was gonna come out, and I was gonna run down and it was gonna be like the curtain call. Him winning that belt meant so much to me and Noam, because we knew how much it meant to him, i was a heel at the time so it wouldnt have made any sense, but I wanted to go out there. At that point I’d wrestled ages ago, I’ve had 10 pints, steamin and I’m like “fuck it…im going out there” and Dallas as at the curtain and stops me “Sorry mate, you’re not curtain calling my show…FACES!”and he shouts for all the faces to go out. I’ve got Damo consoling me, Joe Hendry consoling me, my heads gone down as if ive missed a penality in a champions league final shootout. Deflated. It was a big deal him winning that. A really big deal. It meant so much to him.

“If you ask a lot of the boys, they’d say the SECC was a bigger deal than The Hydro. That was the core team. We’d been on tour together, done every garage show. That was the team. I realise the next show, you need your bigger names to draw a bigger crowd, but we drew 4,000 people to that show. Dallas always puts his crew first and he put a lot of faith in us that night. Nothing like that had been done since the 80s. Foley being there meant a lot. I’ve always been a fan of the underdog. At the SECC, we got to the venue, he sat by that monitor to watch all of us work.We came through the curtain and the first person there was Foley saying ‘good job’. Most imports when they get to a show want in and out as quick as possible. They hide until its their match. Whatever. He sat there, front and centre and watched the whole show. ”

The bond formed has become so unspoken that a recent bout between Grado and Sha didn’t even need any discussion beforehand as they faced each other at PWE’s 6th Anniversary Weekender in the more familar role of Grado as the high fiving ray of happiness and Sha as the guy who looks like he brushes his teeth with stanley blades because toothbrushes are for fackin’ mugs ShaGraaado
“Its got to the stage now with us it’s just natural. If its me as a bad guy vs him as a good guy we dont even need to talk about it beforehand now. We just go out and do it. He’s one of the best workers in the fucking world. People think its guys like me that make him look good, guys like Whippy and Jester who make him look good. No. Its grado making them look good. I don’t think a lot of people appreciate how good he is. If it wasn’t for him being the perfect opponent I needed I would have quit wrestling in 2012-2013. So I wanna say thank you to him. Honest to fuck, we taught each other so much. If I quit wrestling today, the best thing I ever got from it was the friendship with him. It means the world to me. I hope people appreciate how much of a genius he is at wrestling

A genius whose reign in ICW Sha was charged with ending. A role that only he could fulfil even if it hurt his heart to do so. That thunderous chairshot and the aftermath of it was heard around the wrestling world as the stage that birthed the Grado character saw him leave it for the last time, for what seems to be at the very least a long time, if not for good.

“The whole loser leaves ICW thing wasn’t planned in advance, the plan was for me and Grado to go on and on and on. That got stopped. So I had to do something, and the thing with Jester came up. That should have been a big moment. That match was a lot of pressure as well. We’ve never wrestled me as a good guy him as a bad guy. I’ll be honest with you he said to me ‘No one believes I’m a hard cunt’ and I said to him ‘You know what, people believe I’m a hard cunt, they do, so just beat me up. Beat the fuck out of me. After the match he came up to me and said ‘Thats the first time I’ve felt like a heel’ which was something I was proud of”

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The first seeds of him becoming a villain were planted during the heated feud between Grado and Chris Renfrew. Very little in British Wrestling has ever evoked the emotion their battle did, as they exchanged devastating promos leading to their match for Grado’s ICW Title at the Square Go. A subject Sha spoke on with as much emotion as if the all-absorbing feud was happening again right now.

“That thing between Grado and Renfrew. That was real man. What Renfrew said to Grado was horrible. Me and Noam were at that show, and when he first became something he was so happy and innocent and that…that fuckin changed him.

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He was so happy and taken aback by all the success. Doing the Wrestling Road Diaries and all that. Grado’s our biggest draw. He’s at the top. You don’t try and bring that down. He cut this promo and as horrible as it was, it was a good promo right. But who did it benefit? Whats the goal? It doesn’t achieve anything. It just kills momentum. It got too real and stopped being about business. So it got the The Barras and Grado was like “fuck this”. He wasn’t coming out in the singlet, he told me he was wearing trunks. He wasn’t coming out to Like A Prayer. Fuck that. I’m gonna show them how much of a star I am”

“The whole locker room was watching it, and we seen him do that. And we all lost it. That was the moment when everyone became close. Everyone was cliquey to an extent but that moment bonded all the little cliques. Even more so than the tours and all that. Because a lot of seen Grado as our guy. He’s the big draw”

The Black Label wasn’t Sha’s first involvement in a stable although The Black Label’s formation was probably a big part of the reason The 55 fizzled out. Originally supposed to be a three-man unit of Sha, Kid Fite and Martin Stone, Martin Stone’s departure for America left the group scrambling a bit. With none of the replacements really fitting the billing.

“Martin got a job in ICW was because of me anyway. Dallas wanted to book me vs Jester for Shugs One and I couldn’t do it, so I told him Martin’s back in the country. Book him instead. Martin then tells Dallas “me and Sha love teaming together btw!” I’m like “Do we?” *laughs* so they’re like ‘We’re gonna push these two cockney cunts!’ and out of nowhere Martin announces hes going to America, and that was that.
I’ve known Martin for 15 years, and for me what hes doing now isn’t the same. He’s having success with it and fair play, but the thing is, what hes doing now works for 3 or 4 guys, and they made a shitload of money from it, but if everyone goes in that direction it kills everything else”

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With the original team dead in the water, the idea still progressed, eventually becoming a straight up tag team with Kid Fite and Sha providing a regular foe for Polo Promotions during their epic first run as ICW Tag Champions. As Sha explained how the group slowly fizzled out.

“It was due to be me, Ross and Martin. Martin’s replacement was Timm Wylie. Lovely, lovely, guy. If I had a sister that was single, I’d want him to marry her. That’s how lovely he is. But it just didn’t work. I suggested a few other people, and they went with Martin Kirby. Martin Kirby just isn’t that guy. He’s a great wrestler but that role just didn’t suit him. I put forward Iestyn Rees for it, just for having that big fucking…suited and booted, silent destroyer type, but they said they didn’t see it I’m thinking this is gonna fizzle out, this’ll be shit, and then they go ‘we’re giving you Bram!’ and we’re like ‘alright now we’re talking’ and then its, we think you need a manager. I was new to ICW, so at that time I accepted it, then Jamie Kennedy comes in with that dollar bill suit. Still, I was new, I didn’t wanna rock the boat, if it was now I’d have been like “fuck off!” but after seeing that I was deflated”

While the group tailed off a bit, it was the tag team Sha and Kid Fite formed that provided the lasting legacy of The 55. They gelled to the point that they slowly became a serious threat to Polo Promotions epic ICW Tag Title reign, eventually usurping them before they maned to reach their ultimate goal of 4-4-2 (442 days as champions). It was a feud that indirectly led to Polo Promotions departure from the company for a while, although that was no fault of team themselves

“Me and Ross are very similar in the sense that we’re utility guys. Any spot you wanna put is in on the show we can do. So it got to stage where Bram was with the Black Label, and all that was left was us, and I begged Dallas to let me and Ross tag together. We bonded. We worked hard for that team. We got in trouble a few times as well, but we wanted to play up the gimmick as much as possible that we were a couple of hard nut pissheads”

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“There was a show after we’d won the belts, where we worked Lou King Sharp and Divers. It ended up getting a bit silly. We were a bit…well we’d had a pint, put it that way, but not in a dangerous way at all. Divers wasn’t happy about it, and it all got a bit silly from there. We got in a bit of trouble for that, but the way I seen it was that he didn’t want to work with us that night and at the end of the day, it’s not about you mate. It was about us. We were the tag champs”

“It was tough back then. At that time the talent was so good. Everyone was at the top of their game. There was a lot of pressure on everyone. Our feud was really mostly being told “yeah..just wrestle”. The final straw for them was that they wanted to drop the titles at the Square Go, where it meant something. They ended up having to drop them to us at a Garage show, because we were all told we’d be in the Square Go match, but right after that garage show they announced a re-match.”

Much like anyone with sense, the mixed reaction to Polo Promotions in ICW baffles Sha. The feel good factor from their victory at Shug’s Night Two still didn’t carry over to the most recent Garage taping as the crowd for those shows remains split down the middle Polo Promotions opponents on Night Two were the ICW Tag Team Champions Bird and Boar. A duo, who combined with Iestyn Rees make up “The Marauders”. Sha proved to be pivotal in all three men becoming regular ICW roster members, although by his own admittance the hilariously chaotic way he had a hand in Bird and Boar becoming regulars is one he takes a degree of pride in. More for the sheer feat of human resilience it was for him to even be standing when the bell rang.

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“Last time we had the tour bus. We did the London show. Before it I had a few bottles. Bram was looking after us. On another occasion actually I told Bram I was off to be sick, and he gives it “I’ll big sick wiv ya” and he actually threw up just so I wasn’t doing it alone. All these people thing they know all about Bram when in reality he’s one of the sweetest, gentlest guys on the roster. We did the show and nailed it as usual. Tour bus was from London to Cardiff. Me, Grado and Dallas stayed up getting on it. We get to Cardiff, Bram and Jester had a hotel so we thought we’d nick to the hotel for a sleep. We head for the hotel not realising the fucking Cardiff marathon was on. Mo Farah was running. The streets are PACKED with people. Me, Grado and Dallas are walking amongst this and we’ve got no idea what hotel we’re in. we got ot every Premier In, every Travelodge. All of them. We finally checked in. See the video of me doing the roly poly? Thats 2pm in the afternoon.

That video was infamous in the days of Vine and until Sha’s revelation it would have been natural to assume it was more of a 2am than a 2pm effort. In Sha’s words that was the life on tour, and as much as Bird and Boar might have been worried that night in Cardiff, the match they produced secured the Welshmen a regular spot in the company.

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“We were gonna have a nightcap and the guy refused to serve me. I was pissed off. I said to Grado “Who the fuck does he think he is. I’m not fucked. I’ll prove it. I’ll do some shoulder rolls. Film it”

“55 vs Bird and Boar. They’re nervous, its their first match with ICW, against the tag champs, thinking if we smash it we’ve got a job for life. Ross had a bad shoulder at that time and before I got there he’s telling Bird and Boar, Sha will handle it, Sha will do most of the work, he wont mind. I walk in and collapse dead on the couch backstage. Spread out to fuck on this sofa. Ross just looks at them and goes “….sorry”

“Bird and Boar are shitting themselves. Damo’s like ‘Sha, the show’s starting’ and I’ve turned round giving it “Fuck them! I’m the import here!” *laughs* So at this stage I’ve got one boot on, Joe Coffey’s tied up my other boot, and they’re debating if I’m in good enough nick to go out. Someone goes “where’s your braces!?” and I’ve went “FUCK THE BRACES!…FUCK EM”. watch it back, I’ve not got any braces. Apparently we planned this match. I have no memory of that at all, I was told this after, but im sitting like this *Sha gets up and leans his head against the wall” Music comes on. This is like my legacy in wrestling. Music plays, I turn round and go EASSSSSSSSSSST! and out we went. Apparently the match was so good it got them a job with ICW”

While it wasn’t his most professional moment by his own admittance, it earned Sha special “dae whit ye want” dispensation on the tour. Something he told me with a cheeky laugh. Perhaps that was his plan all along

“There’s a curfew on the tour. Dallas sets a curfew, and you have to stop drinking at a certain time…”except Sha…Sha doesnt do a fuckin curfew” ”

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Sha’s work in his home town of London is where you realise how much of a commitment he makes to being the bad guy. I counted 5 trips to London on shows Sha was on and not once did anyone in any of those audiences cheer for him. Not a single person. While all the “yanks” of the day come out to rapturous reception, there was no love for the hometown boy. The “East!” chant bellowed out at the York Hall amongst a chorus of boo’s from an audience actually made up of people from that area. Imagine going anywhere else and seeing that? That’s what makes Sha Samuels different from anyone else and that was no more apparent than at Rev Pro, before a recent run as a good guy.

“I’ll do everything I can to get booed if im a heel. I’ll go as low as I can to get heel heat because that’s what it’s about. If I was turning heel tomorrow I’d cut a promo and say whatever I’ve gotta say to get that reaction. People are too worried to do that nowadays. You cant be horrible in case you don’t sell as many t-shirts or whatever. I understand why but everyone’s become a market trader first and a wrestler second and I hate it”

“Rev Pro is a different beast as a promotion.the audience there…they want moves. The reason I’m on those shows is Andy (Quildan) is the guy that put a lot of faith in me years ago. It got to the point where the people didn’t want me on those shows. I’m a character based wrestler. I’m a cunt. My job is to get sympathy for my opponent and I do it well. I was getting a lot of resentment from the crowd and Andy always stuck by me. To the point where it was like “this guy isnt going anywhere so you’re just gonna have to put up with it”

Put up with it they have and then some as they’ve recently seen a side of Sha no one ever really thought they’d see. The infamous moonsault has become one of the most sought after sights in British Wrestling. In fact, fuck it, the wrestling world. The universe. If theres wrestling on Mars, they’d still be impressed by the Sha Samuels moonsault, and he found himself in the totally unfamiliar position of going in to a match with WWE legend Bully Ray as somewhat of a crowd favourite.ShaSaultttt

“I’m looking forward to it. The whole point in me being in that match is so the crowd are happy to see him. I’m quite prepared to open the floor up to him and let him do whatever match he wants to do. If its shit, I’m still gonna be there next month. I’m smart enough to know, no one there wants to see me in there with Tanahashi. Bubba Ray Dudley? That’s a different kettle of fish”

The matches with Tanahashi and Nakamura could indeed have been them vs Sha Samuels but a difference in thinking in the preparation for it led to Big Damo being in the matches instead. A move that probably worked out for the best but one Sha had a slight hint of regret about when he spoke.
“Damo got the Tanahashi and Nakamura matches but it could have been me. I’m very pro British Wrestling, I believe we shouldn’t be an afterthought. We’re not the fucking mugs of the wrestling world. It got to the Global Wars weekender and Andy tells me I’d be on with them, go research them on youtube, you have to able to bring it. I turned to him and said “Do me a favour, go message Nakamura and Tanahashi now and tell them to research me” they’re coming in to the UK, to one of my home promotions. Don’t fucking insult me like that. Maybe I’m being childish, I don’t know. It kind of worked out in my favour in a way, because I ended up working with Tenzan and Kojima that night and Andy pulled me aside and said New Japan had told him I was the only British guy who was allowed to win against the Japanese guys. Make it a big thing. I told him I’m not gonna make it a big thing, I’m gonna win the match dirty as fuck, because that’s what I do”

“The next day we worked the Bullet Club, Karl and Luke. I get on well with them. Anyone who comes from the wrestling world and understands it I get on well with, so I get on well with them and they told said “Nah, you’re not losing to us, Double DQ” so i come out of the weekend looking good and I got taken round the New Japan office and all that. Nothing happened but it was nice to get that bit of recognition from it.

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Another wee nod in his direction happened last week when Sha represented Rev Pro on RoH’s recent tour shows in the UK. A gig that thrust Sha into a spotlight he fully deserves but seldom seeks out. Such is his conviction of the high standard that exists in this country. Although mixing it with a few yanks every now and then does no harm. Except to them.

“I’ve got RoH this weekend and Andy got me that. As much as ICW is my home promotion, I owe Andy Quildan everything. I was a tag team wrestler when i started and when he started Rev Pro he told me im gonna be the champion, and I had two years with it.”

In those two years Sha built a reputation for winning matches “dirty as fuck” culminating in a special night where he dropped the title to Colt Cabana in a match that articulates everything Sha was about as a baddie, as he explained.

“I was very committed to it because it was very work-rate. It was a work-rate place and they all hated me, going over dirty all the time. It was all deliberate. It was all for a reason. I’ve been going over with low blows, belt shots, slapping the ref right. All that. When I dropped the belt to Colt after 2 years, first thing that happens is me slapping the ref Chris Roberts round the face and I leave. The crowd all stand, booing and screaming all sorts. They’re all raging, like he’s got away with it again, and the announcer goes “The referee Chris Roberts has informed me, Sha Samuels has NOT been disqualified” I get back in the ring. 200 peole there, this is the loudest I’ve ever heard a crowd. He rolls me up for a 2. I chuck the ref out. Belt shot. 1,2…crowd are going mental. I then leave to try and lose by count out, and the ref gets to a 7, 8, 9…he’s about to count 10 when Colt stops him and goes “do not stop this match until I kick his ass” and he goes back and drags me out and beats me. The whole point in me having that belt was for that moment. It could have been colt, could have been anyone. That’s what gave me a bit of stock there as well”

The level of commitment required to keep that devilish title run going for 2 years, with the audience’s distaste for your actions multiplying after every match, is something that Sha takes pride in. A level of commitment that he carried into a gimmick for PCW where he went on a streak of winning matches when his opponent let their arm drop three times in a simple sleeper hold. Something the PCW fans hated just as much as the Rev Pro fans hated his title run, but this time Sha almost stumbled upon this gold mine during a match with the now retired Mad Man Manson.
“People are scared of committing to something. If you really commit to something in wrestling, it gets over. I done something similar in PCW. I worked Mad Man Manson, and I’ve got him in a sleeper hold, he lets his arm drop three times right. Mad Man Manson’s a walking talking rib. He didn’t tell me he was gonna do this. The reaction was so strange, I’m giving it “EAAAAAST!” not really sure what to do and I thought “I’m gonna do that again”. Next match. Arm drops three times. Same reaction. I kept that going for…16 months. I beat everyone with that. Ken Anderson came over once and he asks “so…what’s your finish” and I go “mate…you’re dropping your arm three times in a sleeper hold” and he’s going “What?!” . I’m beating everyone with it and goes from people thinking “what the fuck?!” to it getting heat. We done the PCW/ROH weekender and I worked three yanks. Kenny King, Dalton Castle and Delirious. They were all “what? I tap?” and I’d say “No no, dont tap, let your arm drop three times” Delirious actually got it and loved it but the other two not as much. We built this up, because as soon as someone doesnt let it drop for a third time…you’ve made that person!”

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A piece of work Sha took a lot of pride in was being the man to work with Kris Travis on his PCW comeback. At Travis’ own request, as he saw Sha as the only villain out there worthy of being the counter point to what was sure to be the biggest reaction to any return in British Wresting history as he overcome the first bout of cancer before sadly passing away to the illness a year later.

“My proudest moment in wrestling was Kris Travis making his comeback from cancer, and him saying Sha Samuels is the only person who can work with me in PCW. We weren’t even friends at the time but that was the highest of praise. I’ll never forget. Everything was so special. I love wrestling for the emotions. The fact that hes come back from cancer, and the fact that I was gonna win…which was hard to take as well. But to give him that moment, when he was the first one to not let the arm drop three times. That was special. Professionally it probably should have been given to someone who was beating me, but honestly…that was magic. When I had him in a sleeper hold, everyone thinks….that’s the finish! I don’t wanna see it back because its so emotional now given what’s happened since. Honestly you couldn’t write this, right before it he hits me with a powerbomb and my braces pop out! then all of a sudden I’ve got him in this sleeper hold. When you commit to something so much it creates these moments. Wrestling to me is moments. Samoa Joe had just signed with NXT and he had to follow us, when we went back he looks at me and goes “You motherfucker!” *laughs*. It was one of those special moments because Kris Travis was such a big part of PCW”

Sha’s transition from being the best bad guy on planet earth to being part of the team who saved ICW at The Hydro was a long and winding one, but it all kicked off with Sha coming out with The Black Label at Shugs House Party last year, only to drop back from the rest of the group while Dallas announced that HE was the mystery man who would join Grado and Noam Dar to take on The Black Label. A moment he still holds dear, despite his initial reluctance.
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“Adrian (Lionheart) was out at aswell and he turns round to see me “look at you! you’re buzzing btw!”  Originally it was supposed to be Noam and Grado vs Jester and Drew. Wolfgang came up with the idea to make it a 6 man with the logic that if he doesn’t wrestle on the show, everyone’s gonna assume he’s cashing in. Noam at that time had just signed with WWE, and he begged them can we just do this please. Even if it’s just one time or whatever. So they tell me I’m turning face, and I’m not for it. I thought they’re not gonna care. There’s this mystery man and Renfrew’s just been fired. Everyone’s gonna assume its Chris Renfrew. Or someone else. No one’s gonna care. I’m not a big deal. They’re not gonna react. I was shitting myself, honestly. I’m not joking. That was a big show as well, with the Polos coming back and everything and the reaction it got when it happened? it meant a lot to me. We got to tag together in another 6 man as well, and it was so much fun, it had me thinking “You cunt Noam! why’d you have to go and get signed!” *laughs* We could have done so much more with it. I remember at that time Grado was thinking no one gave a shit about him as a face, and after that match he went “I’m back!” *laughs*. ”

The adjustment from being a perennial baddie to being involved in one of the most popular groups in ICW history wasn’t an easy one for Sha.

“I didn’t like it. Especially up here. The crowds are a lot different now though, as soon as they heard the word London you’d get a big “boooo”. Back when I first came here, it was very patriotic. Now everyone knows theres a lot of English guys on shows. There’s 10 hotel rooms a fuckin show for people coming here *laughs*. Its a world-wide wrestling promotion now, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. Look at Trent Seven. He’s English and he’s just over. ”

A big part of people loving Sha so much as a good guy came from his infectious entrance music. A parody of Park Life by Blur, that instantly got the crowd going and introduced any newer fans to this version of Sha.

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“When I lost Sha Life, that broke my heart. The funny thing about that how it came about we’re on the tour bus steaming right. I first did it in 2009. We’re steaming, and I’ve gone “Who wants to hear me sing?” and I play it on my phone. Soon as I played it Drews going ‘oh my fucking god! thats amazing, thats fuckin amazing” (Sha done my favourite ever Drew impression here, not the most accurate, but the most ‘surfer duuuude’ version I’ve heard yet) “Sha, thats fucking money” So Drew gets Dallas over and they’ve taken my phone, listened to it about 10 times, and Dallas goes to me…”you’re turning face!”. I’m like “fuck off…whaddya mean” He keeps saying its an ICW entrance. That’s a Bucky Boys entrance. What he originally wanted me to do was be The Sandman. So I could come through the crowd, drinking beers etc. Beat a cunt, then fuck off and drink more beer. All the boys loved it. It was a big pop. I get to a garage show one day and they say I cant use it. ”

The transition from baddest baddie doing bad stuff to popularity was a gradual one. The EAST! chants had started long before he became an out and out good guy in ICW, and according to Sha that started when he became an integral part of the ICW roster.

“When I became friends with the guys and one of the locker room leaders of ICW. Dallas putting that faith in me to make me a regular on the roster after that London show was a big deal. That made me feel more a part of it all than an import. Being loud, being fun backstage. It trickles down. Being one of the boys and being on the tours, always having a laugh. A lot of the stuff me, Grado and Noam would do on social media. We always believe wrestling is so big, it’s not all about what happens in the ring. So when they see that friendship blossoming on social media etc, I reckoned they’d pop for it. They see you’re a different person ”

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One of the liberating things about his current run has been the emergence of the ShaSault or as he calls it “The Fatsault”. A beautiful moonsault, usually from the top rope to the outside. A move that’s always been in his arsenal, but when you’re the baddest man on the planet, moonsaults to the outside aren’t the done thing unless you’re shit at being a bad guy.

“I used to do a moonsault to the outisde for a laugh. It was an ego thing the first time because Trent and Tyler were like ‘you cant do it’ and I was like “you what”. I was meant to do it at Shugs but I did an elbow drop the outside because I bottled it. I can do all that shit though. Moonsaults, Shooting Star Press, 450. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. If I start doing all that, everyones gonna expect it all the time. It started as a running gag. This is how I pitched it to Dallas. I wanna be drinking beer. I wanna push my belly out as far as I can. Like Razor Ramon with the toothpick behind his ear, I wanted to have a cigarette behind my ear, and everytime I was in a match at one point I’d go “fag garden!” and hopefully punters would follow me and have a fag. Another thing I wanted to do in tag matches or whatever, I’ll be standing on the apron drinking a pint and when I get tagged in, I go “hold my pint” then I go and do something stupid. I think I’m the most un-Indy wrestler in the world right, so the pop would be that I wanna start hitting superkicks. I wanna hit a 450. A shooting star press. The plan was to hit one a show, but shows are so frequent right now they’ll be expecting all of that stuff everywhere. So now its more, keep giving them the moonsault and when I go up they’re thinking “aw he’s going for the moonsault again” . I love doing it more for the crowd than the boys. If i say im gonna go something like that they go “fuck off”. The Canadian Destoryer as well. Never done one in my life before”

A match with Stevie Boy at a recent Garage show was also the scene of a motherfucking backwards Hurricanrana from Sha. A sight I still feel very privileged to have seen and will undoubtedly tell my grandchildren about, but that match came from a burning desire to work with Stevie. Sha counting himself as another in Stevie’s growing fan group.

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“Stevie is amazing. I’d work Stevie all the time. I hate all the fear that goes into wrestling. Just let Stevie be Stevie. Let him go out there and do what he does. Because once people see Stevie at his best he’ll be around the fuckin country, up and down Europe. Dallas goes to me “who do you wanna work next?” and right away I go “Stevie…I wanna do a program with Stevie” but he’s doing something else now. I was practically begging Dallas to let me work with him. We had a match and I loved it, but hes so good. He looks vicious as a heel, hes a little shit as well, but he’s also so atheltic and so good. I love him and Kay Lee together too. They are just…scum. Like Bonnie and Clyde. If Stevie and Kay Lee get married that would be a big deal. When I think about it, I got married in a registry office and in hindsight if I was to do it again….I would not let one fuckin wrestler near it. Not one. Not even Grado. Last thing I want is a wrestler at the wedding. Animals”

The importance of “the boys” has never been more apparent than it is now. The group involved with World Of Sport in particular seem to have taken that mindset and made it something hugely significant. Its a mentality also shared by WWE’s Finn Balor. A guy who consistently uses his position in WWE to help others out and encourage the company to look at his talented pals.

“Devitt’s a good mate. Back in 2012 sort of time he’d come over and work a lot of show’s for Andy (Rev Pro). I like this story , when he worked his last show for Rev Pro, he worked Adam Cole and the big gimmick was Josh Bodom and Marty Scurll comes out, big fale makes the save. Impromptu tag match. He pulled Andy aside and told him it was good, but only if Sha’s doing it. He’s always gone to bat for me and I appreciate it but more importantly he’s a pal. Friends are more important in wrestling”

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The importance of locker room unity has never been more apparent after the WoS let down and if anything positive comes it, it will be that. A recent issue with WCPW showed just how strong the locker room can be if they are together as one as Sha saw a string of cancelled bookings with the company re-instated thanks to the solidarity shown by the locker room. The attitude that they are better and stronger as a unit had previously been under the “We’re All Pals” warcry, but that has been recently usurped by something new.
“The boys are so important. We started a new thing yesterday that kinda replaces we’re all pals and its “apes together strong!” like in Planet Of The Apes. ”
“What Culture booked me for a bunch of dates, and a day before the first one they pulled me. This is what people don’t understand when it comes to the boys. When we’re all together, we’re stronger, right. They were being rude, they were being arrogant about me. I work Friday’s so I had to take time off Friday’s and organise travel. I’m missing out on a payday because of them. So I slagged them online, and told the lads ‘milk them’. That was a show that had Mark, Kenny, Joe, Euan (Aaron Echo) that to me was more important. Missing out on a show the boys were on. They cancelled 3 or 4 dates and im missing out on a fair bit of money. Everyone just tweeted “#EAST” and they shat themselves. the boys were like fuck this, this is wrong. The arrogance of it is what a annoyed me, they just told me, we’re not gonna have you on the show. So eventually after the boys tweeting about it, they come back and say we’re gonna have you on all the dates. And the PPV as well. Thats when we realised what we had and how powerful we were united. Thats when we realised the boys were important and you know what, that was from ICW. That was from us bonding on all those tours”
“The boys being together is so important”

“15 years in wrestling, you don’t have a social life outside wrestling. My real pals are my wrestling pals. The nature of the beast is, if I quit wrestling I lose my pals. So you know what, if i got a job in WWE that would be great, but I wrestle for the boys”

One of the “boys” that Sha beamed about was Wolfgang. As we discussed his success in the WWE UK tournament, Sha reflected on Charlie Sterling’s ICW debut against Wolfgang when he held the World Title and the pair tore the house down in Bristol.

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“Theres two guys that are my guys. Him and Charlie Sterling. I’ve only ever vouched for two people and its them. Iestyn, because you know what? he looks like a star. A superstar. He needs to believe in that. If he works his match, that plays to his strengths, he’s a fucking superstar every time. I’ve know Iestyn years. I discovered Iestyn. 2004 when I met him, he was the first British Wrestler I’d seen with muscles. I looked at him and went “Fuck….you’re big….jackhammer…spear..thats all you’re doing. NO SHUT UP! Jackhammer, Spear…thats it”

“Charlie Sterling. See all that Will Ospreay stuff right? He does all that and doesn’t get the same reaction. I dunno why. People don’t have faith in muscles! I talked him up to Dallas and he was like “mate, I trust what you’re thinking, he’s in the main event with Wolfy” so he hd his debut against the world champ. He got there and he was nervous because no ones ever given him that faith, but he smashed it. It was amazing. Everyone was going fucking mental for it”

“Me and Wolfy bonded because we’ve been doing this the same amount of time and one day I just went to him ‘Its not gonna happen for us is it?’ and he just went ‘Nah, its not’ and now it’s happened for him I’m so happy for him.He deserves it so much. What I love about Wolfy is that he was content to go there and make the young guys look good, and then they realised how good he is.

Another talent Sha spoke passionately about was Lionheart. Affectionately referred to as “Mad Leon” by The East End Butcher thanks to a party animal alter ego that Sha takes most of the credit for bringing out.

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“He used to hate me, then I got on to PCW and hes close to Noam and so am I, so we were kinda stuck together. It came to a point where Noam was going on to bigger things and he wasn’t going out after shows, so me and Adrian started to go out. He wont mind me saying this, Adrian is very…wrestling and I went out with him and I was like…calm the fuck down. Just be you. Have fun. He was so serious which is a good thing and what made him one of the best in the country, but he started having some fun. He never used to drink much, but he started going out drinking and having fun. I dunno what happened but as one point he became a party animal. Like he changed into a different person. We started calling him Leon because L the Lion was a wrestler in Scotland and it was funny right. So we went out one night and he absolutely caused it on the dancefloor. Mad Leon. We started calling him that, and everyone started going “Adrian?!!!” Mad Leons a metaphor for Adrian changing. Adrians more like..one of the boys. Hes not so worried about Lionheart, hes worried about everyone. hes the true locker room leader. Cares about everyone. Hes performing on top of his game, and he deserves all the sucess. Even his promos hes killing it ”

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The recent debut of “The Kinky Party” stole the show at the most recent Garage taping. A tag team between Jack Jester and Sha that exists more like a comedy double act than a wrestling tag team. The hilarity that ensued when they teamed together has given both men a hunger to make it a regular thing.

“The whole point of me is. You cant say stuff without offending people. I’m trying to, not do a homophobic gimmick because I’m not homophobic at all, but act in a way where people go ‘You’re a cunt, You cant say that. The same way I tried to push the envelope with posting a picture with a pigs head recently saying “I’ve quit my job as a butcher” to pursue wrestling. The reason I did that wasn’t to say, I’ve quit my job, I want sympathy, book me. Etc. Feel sorry for me. Praise me. The main reason I posted that picture was to wait and see who’s gonna get offended that I’ve posted a picture of a pig’s head. Wrestling is story, its character, everyone knows its a show, but everyone believes it more now than they ever have. So if I come out with a pig’s head. If I’ve been borderline homophobic with this gimmick with Jester, people are thinking “that’s real”. They’re not realizing…I’m playing a character. I’m trying to push the envelope with that..slightly, and I think I get away with it more because of my accent and where I’m from. cockney, working class, is the gimmick”
“I could get away with saying anything. Maybe not after yesterday (Thatcher Wright) but I could get away with saying I vote Tory because of my accent. I dont by the way. but I think I could get people to love me still even with saying I vote Tory. ”

Mad L…I mean Lionheart has gained a bit of a following lately for his stellar form in and out of the ring. Any remaining doubters were well and truly won over when they got to see him Rock Bottom a Tory. Not any old Tory, one who fuckin idolises Maggie Thatcher. Sha almost went one better in 2010 when he went for a council seat that was “bombproof Tory” and managed to come second. A double life of sorts that he explained further..
“I’ve worked for my Dad since I was 10 years old in the butcher, shop, but in 2010, I went ‘fuck this, i need to do something else’ to make my CV look good. So I joined the Labour Party for a quid. It looks good onmy cv right. So he works for the labour, hands out leaflets on the weekends etc. So i get a phonecall, we need youto run for the council seat in Chigwell (where I live) Dont worry, its bombproof Tory, you wont win, but we need a candidate. Whaddyou mean?What if I win? “You won’t win”. I ran for fucking office in 2010 for the Labour Party, and they said you wouldn’t even finish in the top 5, we just need a name. So I was like…”whaddyou mean im not gonna finish top 5? Is that a challenge?”

“The area is quite upper class. My Dad’s Iranian and he gets some looks. My Dad is very succesful in what he does, but he dresses…..shall we say moderately. I thought fuck this, done a bit of campaigning and managed to come second with 12% of the vote, which shows you how bombproof Tory it was, but the fact that my full name is Shaheen Samuel Hoissenpour right. its a mouthful. Its foreign as fuck. The fact that my name came second, and it was all over the local news, was a moral victory”

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It was one of those moments that really only become possible when you do interviews in person. For a lot of the interview, I sat opposite Shaheen Hosseinepour, but in that brief moment when he grabed my phone and started emotively cutting a promo into it, he was Sha Samuels. He was Sha Samuels and he was gonna say what he wanted to say no matter what you or anyone else thinks, and there’s really no more fitting note to round off the interview than that. A promo from Sha Samuels to my burst old Iphone 4.

“See wrestling fans nowadays right. I dont give a fuck, you can tweet me, say whatever. You boo wrestlers, you judge wrestlers, you’re not watching wrestling, you’re watching your fucking phones. You go by reputation. You think you know whats good and whats not, and instead of watching the shows and making your own mind up you just follow what everyone else is following. You’re all fucking sheep. Watch what you wanna watch, cheer who you wanna cheer, boo who you wanna boo, but make your own mind up about it”

“If you just boo people for the sake of booing them because they’ve got a bad reputation online, thats not right. Everyone wants to search their favourite wrestlrs online or whatever and see what everyone else is saying about them. Make your own minds up. You know what? I liked Water World. Kevin Costner. I fucking liked it. I didnt listen to the critics. I made my own fucking mind up and I fucking loved that movie”

“You know what else i fucking loved. I liked Godfather Part 3. I dont give a fuck what you think. Imade my own mind up. If you watch a wrestling martch, dont go by what other people say. Make your own fucking minds up. Watch the fucking show, see whats in front of you and fucking enjoy yourselves”

Never  a truer word spoken. A sincere thank you to Sha for his time and company and some hugely encouraging words.

 

Huge thank you to David J Wilson, Warrior Fight Photography, The Ringside Perspective and anyone elses photos I’ve used.

ICW Shug’s House Party Night 2 Review

Featured

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Night Two managed to be just as good a show if not slightly better, remarkable considering it was Noam Dar free. Every match just had something that mattered. Its nice that we got to enjoy a good show before Bram ruined wrestling by turning his dick into offensive weapon that apparently casts a spell on anyone who touches it. Naw wait. That might be someone else….

Aaron Echo vs Jody Fleisch

One of those matchup’s you had no idea you fuckin NEEDED to see until it was actually announced. It felt a bit like Joe Coffey vs Brian Kendrick did a few years back in the very same venue. Opening the show, and not completely stealing it, but setting the tone perfectly for a cracker of a night. It felt like a match that will propel Aaron Echo to massive things. Maybe in a few years he’ll be the guy with the shiny belt defending it in the big cage. He matched Fleisch in the early exchanges with some deceptive agility. Big man’s looking in crackin shape, and displayed just how much of a lean, mean, back elbowin’ machine he is when he caught mad hang time shugechoon a Kenny Williams-esque back elbow off the top. Fleisch hit a moonsault to the outside and a backwards hurricanrana in the ring because in case it wasn’t hugely apparent on night one, Jody Fleisch is still just as good as he was back in the day. Maybe even better cause when he pulled off mad shit back then it was a bit more understandable. Youthful reckless abandon n that. Doing it at 37 is another matter altogether. I’m 28 and can barely peel myself aff the chair in the living room sometimes, and this guy’s near enough 10 year my senior daein aw sorts of mad headscissorin. It was lovely to watch.

Echo caught the bold yin going up top for some kinda twisty 720 moonsault nae doubt, and instead turned it into a release German that sent Fleisch flying, but mere moments later Fleish had hit a beauty of a springboard tornado DDT to bring an absolute skelper of an opening contest to an end. 

If ever a match served as a display of why two guys need to be carving out regular spots for themselves, it was this. Echo matching a 20 odd year veteran move for move and the 20 odd year veteran in question flying about like a 20 year old never mind a guy who’s been wrestling for that length of time. They shared a wee handshake and both went up the ropes so folk could aim their “yasss’s” at them, and aim them they did. Polite applause might no be currency but these guys were rich in good will after this one let me tell ye. A rerr show.

Lionheart is a hero

“Ye cannae jist….rock bottom interviewers”

“Jist did mate”

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I think you’ll find Lionheart does what he wants. If he wants to dae a Scottish version of CM Punks pipebomb he’ll go ahead and do that as well. Fuck knows why he decided to Rock Bottom interviewer Molly Spartan but he did and ye can fuckin like it or well…..there really doesn’t need to be any other options anymore. Everyone seems to be liking it. In his own words hes still a fanny, we’re just into it now. A world where everyone’s into fanny is a world I’m well and truly on board with. While Mark Dallas was not a fan of his methods, he told Lionheart he’s recognised that folk have slowly started getting on his side over the past few months because as Lionheart stated, for the past year+ he’s been a top performer, if not THE top performer in the company and following on from Rey Mysterio being announced on Night One (A fact that I may have forgot to include in the night one review, I finished it in a rush awrite, gies a brek) Dallas announced Lionheart’s Night Two opponent would be none other than Rob Van Dam, in a match that’ll be nothing short of a tasty bitta dropkick warfare. ‘Kin yaldi.

Wolfgang vs Super Crazy

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Super Crazy and Jody Fleisch keep their straws dipped in the fountain of youth eh. How the fuck else do you explain them doing what they do in 2017. Super Crazy faced off with current WWE Superstar Wolfgang and it was really nice that out of the two of them, its big Wolfy who holds that accolade. A sign of just how far its all come over here. They faced off in the middle of the ring, Wolfgang telling Super Crazy “Ah’ve heard you’re pure mental mate” and Super Crazy seeming to fire back with “Aye well you’re tall as fuck int ye, mon we’ll wrestle aboot a bit” or whatever that might be in Mexican. Wrestle aboot a bit they most certainly did.

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I mind some folk on a certain group on a certain social media site where maw’s sell their unwanted kitchen appliances (should really gie them to Liam Thomson) kinda wrote this match off. Never write any match off before it happens unless its a guy against a blow up doll or suhin 😉 Crazy missed a mad dive to an area about a mile and a half west from where Wolfgang was actually standing. Super Crazy is as super crazy does. Wolfgang missed with the most aesthetically pleasing moonsault in wrestling, that middle rope effort that had aw the views on the WWE FB page when he done it the UK Title Tournament, before Crazy hit a missile dropkick that prompted the knucks to come out the kneepad. This unorthodox session of wrestling about was about to come to a better end for the mental yin. He dodged the first brass knucks attempt and nearly rolled Wolfy up for the quick win, but the big man levelled him second time and that was that. 

Thoroughly enjoyable so it was. I think the Super Crazy sceptics couldn’t argue he added plenty to both shows, and Wolfgang just doesn’t do bad wrestling matches. There’s bigger fights out there for him. There’s Liam Thomson’s soul to take for starters but a wee win over a legend does ye nae harm. 

Kenny Williams vs BT Gunn (ICW Zero-G Championship Match)

Its cool how thing’s come full circle sometimes. Kenny Williams faced BT Gunn in a singles match at The Garage last year and when he won, he fell back into the corner in a state of shock at what he’d accomplished. The enormity of overcoming a talent so iconic and brilliant in this country literally took Kenny aff his feet. They went on to have a sweltering wee series of matches and were involved in a tense finish to the Barramania scramble match where Kenny just held on to his belt, but this match and the reaction to it proved just why Kenny was so overwhelmed by that win. BT Gunn is unbelievably good at what he does and he deserved this. So many big shows have been and gone with other folk having the biggest moment. The biggest matches. This was for him. As emotional and historic as any outcome to any match ICW have ever put on.

The crowd seemed to feel it too. There’s been a few near misses for BT, most recently when he caused Kenny to tap out just after the time had run out in that scramble match, but he also tore the house down with Lionheart at The Garage last year with the title on the line, coming within a dusty bawhair of winning it all. The look on Kenny’s face said it all. None of the usual jovial smiley patter from the bollocks. He was feart. As any man with half a brain should be if the guy standing opposite him with the intention of aiming kicks at his face is known as The Oddity. The atmosphere was unreal. Personally I could barely stand after the booze fuelled exploits of night one and spent most of this show contemplating jumping the barrier just so I could dive under the ring for a sleep, but I felt every moment of this. How could you not? It was fucking incredible.

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BT nearly ended it before it had really started when he locked in the crossface but Kenny made it to the ropes. They battled in the crowd after BT hit a suicide dive, only for Kenny to absorb that dive and use its diving power to his advantage when he hit a mad somersault senton off one of the many wee bits in and around the ABC ye can do dives from. He even managed to perform this dive without caving in the ABC’s ceiling in a refreshing change of pace from his recent diving exploits (for cunts that dont know, Kenny Williams broke The Garage) following that up with a top rope back elbow that caught so much air Kenny managed to kiss the top of the cage suspended above the ring on his way down before catching BT sweet on the jaw. They kicked and forearmed fuck out each other for a bit as the match reached an unrelenting pace. Kenny nearly put BT away with that running knee, but it wasn’t his night. Sometime’s no matter how crisp the back elbows are, or how many times you clock the guy’s jaw with yer knee, he just won’t stay down. The word “destiny” is chucked about a lot in wrestling, in an often cringeworthy fashion but this was destiny for BT Gunn. He was meant to be the first man to have held all three ICW titles. He’s been there throughout every era. A constant in ICW who’s carved out an almost godlike status amongst the fans without having to ever speak directly to them. The wrestling does the talking for him.

The springboard cutter he calls the “Gunnshot” led to BT locking in that crossface again. Kenny was within an inch of tapping and with the greatest of respects to him, there wisnae a soul in the place who didn’t want to see him tap. He rolled BT valiantly on to his shoulders for a 2 count, but he couldnt break the hold and when BT rolled back into the crossface it was over.

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An unbelievable moment and maybe the match of the weekend. In the 5 years I’ve been going to ICW shows I don’t remember a moment that felt as significant as this one. A wee tear was shed as he enjoyed the moment. Kenny Williams snatched the belt as soon as it was handed to BT, but that’s to be expected. A man who made history himself just 24 hours earlier seeing the belt he hold’s so dear snatched away. Maybe in that moment he regretted the open challenge patter. Its exciting and makes you hard as nails cause literally anyone could answer it, but sometimes literally “anyone” is that guy. The same guy who had you in shock at your own capabilities when you managed to pin him a year earlier. Most folk in the crowd knew the significance of that moment but when Simon Cassidy actually announced it seemed to really hit home as an emotional BT Gunn enjoyed the moment with the folk who handed him unwavering support no matter what guise he was under. The blood spitting homicidal baddie with the NAK, the guy who cut his own hair off in the middle of the ring when he returned to face Chris Renfrew 5 years ago, or the guy arguably being the standout performer in matches with WWE championships on the line. 

Davey Blaze and The Wee Man vs DCT and Coaaa…ADAM SHAME

It feels like a weird thing to type but Davey Blaze smashing a wee boays easter egg made this feud what it was. Him doing that and being hilariously and horribly mean to the wee guy made him and The Wee Man unmistakably the baddies and made it really easy to get behind DCT and Adam Shame. They’ve been such arseholes they awoke a dormant personality inside Coach Trip, basically causing split personality disorder. If that isn’t the work of some big bad baddies I dunno what is. The match wasn’t yer 6 star, 27 different kinds of suplex type of affair. It was the good guys getting the better of the bad guys. It was a Da fighting for his boy, and his boy’s fallen easter egg. It deserved better. It deserved to be scranned. It needed to be avenged.

Wee Man got on the mic (theres nae way of typing that without it sounding like he’s entering a rap battle) and told Adam Shame he was glad he never brought his “specky” wee boy out with him as he’d avoid seeing how much of a loser his Da is, and thats really just asking to get chased is it no. Shamer and DCT did give chase, prompting Wee Man to bolt through the crowd. Only re-appearing when Davey had evened the score by toeing Adam Shame in the baws. Much of the early exchanges were between Davey and DCT, with Davey getting the better of it setting the Paisley Young Team for a tag that would give everyone within a 10 mile radius of it a suntan. The hoattest tag in professional wrestling history. In came Shamer throwin ‘bows aw err the camp. Taking Davey up with the airplane spin into a Samoan Drop. Wee Man provided less than ample hauners but for what he lacked in physicality, he made up for in being a distraction, giving Davey a wee opening to hit a spear. I dunno if Wee Man was scooping aw sorts of spinach and had his very ain Olive Oil in the audience to impress but moments later The Wee Man hit an F5 on DCT. I mind watching Grado take about 15 attempts before finally hitting one of them and he’s a former World Champ mate. Whit does that make The Wee Man? Is this winning streak legit? Is he some kinda GoldbergBrock Lesnar hybrid?shugsdav

Well, in short, naw. Naw he isnae. His reign on top was over as quick as it began as DCT locked a figure four in on Davey, only to be joined by Shamer putting a version of it on The Wee Man. Everyone was gettin’ sare legs and it was time to be tappin for the baddies. Both Davey and The Wee Man tapped and the arse kicked was about to be followed by the arse kissin’. Nae drama. Pucker up and get it err wae.

Davey was not fucking having it though. Not at all. In true villainous fashion he refused to fulfill his contractual obligation to kiss his colleagues arse. Instead opting to head up the road post haste. Someone else wasn’t fucking having it either though. A wee boy who wanted to scran an easter egg only to see it crumble into wee  bits in front of his very eyes. The reaction to this moment really shows how well the original video was done and how much of an evil evil man Davey looked, because when Adam Sham’e son Ryan appeared and low blowed Davey everyone knew what it was about, and everyone lost their minds when he re-emerged with an Easter Egg to crack it over Davey’s napper. That allowed his auld man to chuck Davey back in the ring to to get what was coming to. An arse, framed by a yellow thong, thrust right in his face. I’m sure not a new experience for Davey, but maybe the first time the owner of that arse has been an International Sex Hero who shagged over 1000 women…that day.

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Sometimes the good guy’s win. Folk need that payoff sometimes. Give Davey and The Wee Man their due. Without them being as unquestionably cunty as they were, The Shame Family and DCT wouldn’t have had that amazing moment in front of 1,000 odd folk. For all he’s given to Scottish Wrestling, before it was even a recognised thing, Adam Shame deserved that moment and he got to share it with his wee boy. some real feel good shit right there.


I wrote the whole second half of this review and then it vanished. This is a re-write performed by the empty vessel known as my body that used to, but no longer houses my soul. Fuckin 4000 words gone. Fuck this shit. I mean….wrestling.


Grado vs Sha Samuels (Loser Leaves ICW)

It had to be that way. The same man who made Grado look like a superstar all those years ago would be pivotal in his demise. Not Red Lightning, although he did provide a proper unlikeable baddie to bounce off Grado’s charisma back when he debuted in 2012 and he did play a big part in his defeat and resulting exit from the company. Not even Sha Samuels, who’s battles with Grado down the years have provided British Wrestling with one of its best ever feuds. Grado at his high-fiving, shake rattle n rollin best is the perfect opponent for Sha’s ruthless hooligan, and their matches in 2014-2015 are some of the best the company has ever produced, but it wasn’t the East End Butcher . Although he did deliver the final blow, somewhat reluctantly as his former bestie chucked the pinky up one last time in the hope that the big man would take pity on him. The guy who made Grado look like a superstar all they years its go is HIMSELL. There’s never been a talent more spoken about, scrutinised at every turn, and until about a year ago unwaveringly adored than Grado and there’s not a wrestler on this planet that gets more fans through the door than he does.

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Great wrestling brings a lot of wrestling fans, but the fact is there’s hardly any of us. Your wee circle might be full of wrestling fans, but the world’s full of folk who think its stupid. Grado is a big part of the reason some of those folk become fans. They want to see him. That witty wee guy aff the tele. Him playin golf wae John Hartson and Andy Goram. That guy. They come for him and some of them get hooked as a result of that. There’s no doubt for however long he might be gone that his influence will be missed but maybe this was needed. Grado is very good at being a baddie, managing to be a proper arrogant fud while remaining hilarious but as much as I liked watching it, he probably didnae like doing it. Its just not him is it. That’s not what Grado’s in wrestling for. He’s no in it to make people stick the vickies up at him and call him a dick. He’s in it to have a room full of sweaty wrestling fans losing their minds to Madonna. He’s in it to make ye laugh and greet. He’s no in it to make ye mildly irritated because he called ye specky in a promo, he’s in it to make folk feel things and he will again. Him and Sha made folk feel things in their match and it reminded anyone who might have forgot just how brilliant they both are.

After Grado had sent Red to the back to “get the toast on” while he dealt with this ‘jabroni’. Sha obviously took exception to that slur and started chucking rapid right hooks, before Grado hit him with a German Suplex into the turnbuckle (this is the guy that cannae wrestle according to some dafties) followed by the Roll n Slice, and then a fuckin Death Valley Driver on the apron. Grado and Sha on some PWG shit early on. None of this “both these guys” pish but. Keep they chants for Mania weekend mate. This is serious business. Bad guy vs good guy. For perhaps the first time ever between Grado and Sha where Sha was the goodie and Grado the baddie and as great as the match was there was never a point where that wasn’t a wee bit weird. Like watching Batman only Batman’s the one terrorising Gotham, and The Joker tries to stop him while avenging his deid maw n da at the same time.

Grado hit another Roll n Slice on the outside before offering Sha’s coupon to the camera as he repeatedly jabbed it. I mind Sha doing similar when he was using that fitba scarf as a choking device when they first faced each other in ICW’s second (maybe third) London show. Parallels n that. Grado took the big man back in the ring before belting him with a chair legitimately hard as fuck. Sha shouting EAST! in his face wasn’t him no selling the chair shot, that was him completely ignoring the considerable pain he must have felt for the sake of good wrestling. He walked through the chair shot like it never happened before hitting a Michinoku Driver, but Grado reversed his attempt at the destoryer with a pair of R-Gra-Do’s out of nowhere. Well the second one wisnae a big spurise after the first, but that’s no as catchy is it. She hoisted that Pinky up in the air in defiance when Grado thought the win was in the bag and he had to go to Plan B. Scatter thumbtacks all over the camp and hope it works out. It did not.

Grado went to drive Sha dome first into the tacks, but Sha reversed and hit the sarest Death Valley Driver in wrestling history. Grado’s back was 90% tacks after it and he chucked the X up in desperationshugsgradsha2. Nae ambulance was forthcoming, instead Red Lightning came out and tossed a chair in Sha’s direction, before whispering “I burnt yer toast anaw” in Grado’s ear right before Sha cracked a crestfalled Grado clean err the napper with a heartbreakingly emphatic chairshot. Knocking Grado clean out the game as Sha placed his foot on him for the 3 count. 

The “cheerio” chant quickly turned to “Thank You Grado” when they seen his face after sha had waved him goodbye solemnly on his way through the curtain. Not the actions of a man who’d just beat his sworn enemy because he hadn’t. They’re best pals and as much as it had to be Sha, it must have hurt his heart a wee bit. To almost close a chapter of your pals career with one almighty chair shot to the napper, it must sting. But it had to be him. They’ll undoubtedly fight again but for now its done and dusted and Grado was visibly emotional after it. Dropping the character and acknowledging the fans on the way out. He’s in this to make folk cheer. He’s in this so Gradomania can run fuckin wild brotherrrr and I doubt we’ll see him again until enough time has passed for folk to miss the old Grado. The Grado that has grown men belting oot Madonna so hard they pop a blood vessel. The Grado that represents all that is good and pure in the world. God rest ye bad guy Grado. It was fun while it lasted.

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The Big Scheme Wedding Of Ravie Davie and Martina The Session Moth

I fuckin love Sean McLaughlin and you should to. He was the reluctant Da of this whole shindig, giving Martina away with the promise that she’d leave him alone and stop planting johnnys in and around his person if he agreed to do so. He was more like a polis escorting a prisoner that’s shat himself out of protest. Disgusted. He literally tossed her in the ring and bolted, wanting no further part of this. Which pretty much means he didn’t want to get his cunt kicked in aff Bram. A smart lad is oor Sean.

The wedding itself was lovely. Vows included the bride vowing to save her fanny for her husband only, meaning she’d have to give up rubbing it in folk’s faces as an offensive manoeuvre in wrestling matches. Perhaps swapping it for a wee armbar, or that Marty Scurrl bit where he puts his already chewed chewing gum into someone elses gub. Anything not vagina based it probably a winner. Davie vowed to keep a draw of all his fags for Martina, and to look after her when she’s hungover. Basically signing yourself up for a full-time job there mate. I suppose if ye never stop drinking, being hungover isn’t really an issue. Vows exchanged, it was really just the formalities left. Although the priest (GPWA’s Leyton Buzzard) could have saved himself the breath it took to say “If anyone has any protests to this union” by simply saying “HEEEEEERE’S BRAM”.

Its a wedding ffs. Whit else did you expect.

Ravie Davie vs Bram

Bram obviously battered everycunt in sight. That’s what he does at weddings. Having a wedding within a mile of wherever Bram is like waving a red rag in front of a team of bulls. In fact its like waving a red rag in front of Bram himself. I imagine he’s not far off a bull genetics wise. He cleared out the whole wedding party. Leathering Saqib and Prince Asad from Pure Gangster, hitting a beauty of a popup powerbomb on Zander, dumping most of a can of lager on Chris Toal’s heid as he whapped the dids oot to defend Martina’s honour. Even Cav emerging with his fire resistant shield and can do attitude never stood a chance. Bram literally punched a hole in his shield because it might be fire-proof but its no fuckin devil proof, before rounding off his reign of with the patented forced winch, arse slap on Martina. The exact same fate that befell Viper. This time the revenge came a wee bit quicker though. Although he was derailed slightly after the priest climbed back in the ring and attacked him with holy water, but the holy water ran out and so did Leighton Buzzard’s luck as he got fired into the crowd for a second time like a fuckin dart.

I’ll no tell anyone any lies here, after Davie valiantly rose to his feet and challenged Bram to a match right there and then, the doing he took made me queasy as fuck. It was uncomfortable. Standing there irreparably hungover watching a big bruiser of a guy repeatedly dish out short arm rabbit punches to the eye of his foe was not fun. The aim was to burst his eye open to smear the blood on Martina I believe and that would have been some fuckin top drawer villainous shit but Davie’s eye would not yield. It just kept swelling up to fuck. Its as if it sprouted a face, and that face was screamin “Come ahead ya fuckin DAFTY!” at Bram and come ahead he did. He eventually relented with the eye punching cause it was probably getting incredibly sare, instead smearing a bit of blood from Davey’s lip  on Martina. Davie’s face did look fucked up and people were stunned to silence but even if it did end up a bit more brutal looking than intended, did it not do its job? Hate Bram aw ye like, its kinda his job to make that happen, but Davie taking that doing and getting up for more. Winning the fucking match anaw. It made this whole thing matter as opposed to being a bit of fun in the middle of a mega serious night. It made Davie look like the fuckin top boy. He took the absolute worst that big bad bastard had to offer and would not stay down. In amongst one of the best ICW shows I’ve ever been to, and certainly the best weekender the company has ever put on (in my opinion n that) everyone was talking about Ravie Davie. Everyone was calling Bram a cunt. The whole fuckin point, even if getting to that point happened in a way that made folk uncomfortable.shugbram

Technically Martina and Davie didn’t complete the marriage so Martina performing the Vulva Buster on Bram wasn’t going back on the vows. Him asking for more saw a chair thrust in his coupon, as Davie somersaulted from the other side of the ring lit a schemey Shane McMahon. A move he calls Scenes On Toast To Coast, but it wasn’t enough. He’d need to survive another Bram flurry, and he even took  piledriver on that heid that looked like it was about to burst at any second. I genuinely think Davie might be allergic to Bram’s hauns he was that swollen but he still had hit wits about him and rolled Bram up for the quick one, two, three. Another yass moment in a night jam-packed with them. 

Kasey vs Kay Lee Ray

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Some folk jumped on the first match for being a bit short, but really think about it for a minute. Instead of one longer match, with Kasey triumphing in the end, Kasey beat one of the best wrestlers in Europe TWICE in two days. Once in quick and brutal fashion and once in an excellent wrestling match. Kay Lee Ray is really fucking good at this and is at the top of her game. Toppling her in the fashion she did after beating Viper to earn the shot in the first place makes Kasey a proper star. Instantly. Deservedly so. Over the past year, maybe 2, she’s improved every single time we’ve seen her and she’s got that character down to a tee. Unhinged and calculating all at once. A bit scary. Good shit.

Kay Lee was having fucking none of it though. Managing to enter amidst the best entrance theme of all time while barely acknowledging that it was even playing. A truly remarkable feat to stop yourself from going absolutely fucking mental when that plays. The match was top notch. Kay Lee attacking Kasey right away, looking to avenge that rapid defeat the night before in equally rapid style. It was a match laden with sare looking submissions, Kasey attempting to pull Kay Lee’s arm out of its socket with a cross armbreaker on the barrier that looked, for the lack of a better term, fuckin agony. Kay Lee locked in a Koji Clutch and that’s just a sexy move is it no. That’s no even sexism btw, a sentient piece n jam could lock that move in on a lampost and it would still be sexy. It’s just a sexy move. I cannae explain the science behind it giving me a semi to you, I can just assure you it does.

Kasey went for a springboard suhin but got caught with a kick to the gut putting Kay Lee Ray in the ascendancy despite the fact Kasey pulled her arm aff moments earlier. Another Koji Clutch was locked in, amazingly as a reversal from Kasey trying to pin Kay Lee before she decided she’d had enough. If double Koji Clutching isn’t getting the job done, a belt to the heid will just have to eh. The belt shot did indeed land, for a fuckin ONE COUNT. Whit. How. The Gory Special followed, and that only got a two. Kay Lee must have been contemplating jumping out and seeing if she could hi-jack a double decker to run Kasey over wae, because that’s the only way she was staying down for a three. No after fighting tooth and nail to get where she was. Kay Lee draped the title on Kasey as she went up top for a Swanton. A move she only bursts out when she really needs it these days, but Kasey caught her up top, and with a brutal knee to the back of the heid she had retained. Nae fluke, thats HER title now. 

Top drawer match. This weekender turned Kasey from someone people talk about as being improved to someone people talk about as one of the top women’s wrestlers in the UK. A spot she grafted to get and has definitely earned. Beating one of the very best in the fuckin world is the perfect way to announce your arrival at the top table. 

Polo Promotions vs The Marauders (If Polo Promotions Lose They May Not Team In ICW Ever Again)

Who needs a third man when you’ve got the twelfth man eh? Who needs a third man when you’ve got the locker room? Who needs a third man when you’ve got a main event tag team fighting for their very existence? That’s what Polo Promotions do, and a bit like the second last match of Night One, this match felt like one half of a double main event opposed to the match before the main event. The Marauders take a lot of credit in that respect because for this to matter as much as it does, a team needed to properly give Polo Promotions a challenge. Bird and Boar on their own have done that, but add big Iestyn “the nerd squasher” Rees into the mix and make it 3 on 2? The odds are in favour of the sheep sh….I mean Welshmen.

It started out as a mad brawl before settling into The Marauders using the numbers game to their advantage effectively, but there’s nae numbers game on this planet that’s derailing Mark Coffey when he gets gaun. He hit a big running double sledge which William Grange called “The Polish Hammer” on commentary which is a tremendous name for a wrestling move. A tremendous name for anything really, except actual hammers made in Poland. Big Iestyn was the Mark Coffey momentum stopper throughout and his palpable rage at anything that dared to try to stop him and his pals splitting Polo Promotions added a vital element to it. While Jackie and Mark battled from the first whistle, the big man’s presence always made them feel like the underdogs looking to cause an upset. That was no more apparent than when The Marauders took shots each of smashing Jackie Polo in the corner with uppercuts, forearms, splashes, aw sorts, shortly after Polo seemingly had the win in the bag for his team. Big Iestyn broke it up, knocked Mark Coffey off the apron and just like that Polo nearly making Mike Bird tap became three Welsh guys knocking a Scottish guys teeth oot.

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Mrs Patterson’s Revenge followed that mad flurry of offence from The Marauders but Mark Coffey broke up the pin, causing Iestyn to spear his whole ribcage clean out his body. Mark Coffey vs Iestyn Rees is a feud I’d be heavily intae, Two big handsome sumbitches knockin fuck out each other for sport. Good shit. Iestyn chucked Coffey about the outside a bit before telling Bird and Bor to fire Jackie up again for Mrs Patterson’s Revenge. One of the best double team moves out there TWICE. Its done. It’s over. The dream is dead. What was once 4-42, is now a bunch of 1’s wandering aimlessly. Referee Sean McLaughlin was tending to Mark Coffey when the pin needed counted though and down came head of ring crew and apprentice ref Stephen Hughes to count the pin. He got to two, before turning to three angry Welsh guys and giving them the fingers. Making them regret bullying him on a Fight Club show months ago. His moment of glory was powerbombed into oblivion moments later but he was just the precursor before The Cavalry arrived.

Any good cavalry needs a good leader. A noble man to lead the troops into battle. Who better than eh……Simon Cassidy? Why the fuck no eh. As The Maruaders set Jackie and Mark up in some kind of steel chair laden death device, Simon Cassidy saw that the end was near and even if he wasn’t going to be the man to stop them, he was going to distract them long enough for someone else to stop them. So many of their pals being in danger must have awoke DCT and Adam Shame from their post victory slumber, as they rushed the ring to take Bird and Board out the equation. Leaving big Iestyn to catch a beauty of a top rope back elbow from none other than Kenny Williams. The final piece of the pal puzzle. His intervention led to the boaysies getting to their feet and hitting The Old Man Of Hoy on Iestyn for the win. It pays to be pals.  

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The dream stays alive. Must admit, when they lost to the Kings Of Catch in Edinburgh and seemed further apart than ever I genuinely thought it was all over. They were that convincing that night, but it was never going to be the end. Polo Promotions are a main event tag team and if they call ICW home and ICW run places that can hold 11,000+, their mission isn’t complete until they’re top of the bill on shows like that. Until they’re selling oot fuckin Hampden for Insane-a-mania, there’s still work to be done. There’s titles to be won back for a start and they earned one more shot with this win. The fact that this win was so significant WITHOUT it even being for the belts shows ye how well its been done. Stick yer Solo Promotions up yer hole. 

Joe Coffey vs Jack Jester (Steel Cage Match For The ICW Title)

If someone told you a year ago at the very same show Joe Coffey saw his first ICW Title reign ended after about 5 minutes, that he’d be the champion again, this time aligned with the man who was partly responsible for that first reign being so short, you’d have told that person that their oddly specific premonition was a lot of fuckin baws. Yet there he is. Baddest mamma jamma on the planet right now. The iron bad yin. Up against a guy who stood shoulder to shoulder with Red Lightning in his auld axis of evil a year earlier, Jack Jester. Yet somehow this works better. It makes sense really. Everyone wanted Joe to overcome the odds and become the guy. Everyone wanted to see him batter Red Lightning and anyone else who stood in his way, and they were invested in his journey because of all the of the obstacles placed in front of him. A year earlier he learned even when you DO overcome it all and make it to the top, it’s still not enough. The odds will never be in your favour, so when he won it again, there was nae sense in nobility. Nae sense for standing up for doing it the right way, so why bother. Just go out and batter folk and don’t leave winning up the chance. Stack the odds in your favour. Stay on top. Make a lot of money. Buy an Island.

It was a cracker of a match. Maybe my favourite ever Jack Jester match. I enjoyed the fact that the cage wisnae just a climbing frame surrounding a normal wrestling match, it was consistently used as a maiming device by both. Taking shots each to chuck each other off the sides of it early on. Joe responded to a “Yer just a shite Mark Coffey” chant by making a face that looked like someone had just skooshed essence of dug shite up his nostril. Joe hit the Fall From Nebula off somewhere near the top of the cage before Jester went climbing himself hitting a peach of a Cactus Elbow Drop off the topshugsJoeee. Jester loves a non conventional elbow drop but rarely does he get as high as that. He set Joe up for it by knocking him off the cage with that massive studded dildo he uses that he pulled from…fuckin…fuck knows mate. I’ve watched it back about 15 time and I still cannae see. As far as I can tell he’s got some kinda kinky Midas touch on the go, and instead of things he touches turning into gold, they turn into big spleen splitting dildos.

Jester saw a chance to escape after that, only for Red Lightning to hop off commentary to slam the cage door in Jester’s face. Anytime he chucks William Grange off commentary ye know fine well he’s laying in wait. Overseeing the action until intervention might be necessary. Grange got to tag back in after that, cutting short the game of pontoon he was playing with Simon Cassidy at ringside while Joe unleashed aw sort of jabs on Jester. Jester had a cut above his eye right, causing it to swell, and Joe punched him repeatedly on and around that cut. Causing it to swell more. No saying that’s a familiar scene or anything, but aye….Joe then used the chain he had wrapped round his fist as he unleashed punch after punch to tie Jester to the cage by the neck, leaving him seemingly free and clear to stoat out. Jester managed to get free and they had some kind of mad steel chair/dildo duel before Jester levelled Joe with some brutal chair shots leaving his path clear to climb out as his leisure. Or so we thought.

Bram took a break from trying to start World War 3 before Trump does to stop Jester climbing out. Grabbing him by the feet and tossing him back in the cage. They battled it out a bit more, exchanging finishers and even exchanging each other’s finishers beofre Jester tried to climb out again. If only Jester just fell doon. He could have easily become champion if he just jumped and broke his legs in the process. A new shiny belt and wee trip to A and E but it wasn’t to be. Bram, who somehow still had some energy left after a hard day of defacing monuments and pishing on our troops, managed to hold Jester in place, getting his legs tied in the cage long enough for Joe to jump out. The New Axis Of Evil wins. Long live the baddies. 

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A properly gripping main event at the end of two hugely draining nights of wrestling. Joe Coffey and Jack Jester always seem to have great matches but this one was their best to date and like I said at the start, probably my favourite Jack Jester match ever. On a night filled with the good guys getting the better of the baddies, it had to end with the three most evil men in the wrestling stratosphere hopping out victorious. Later that night, Bram would go on to commit his most evil deed of all by taking to social media to post Game Of Thrones spoilers directly to everyone who hadn’t seen it yet. Even though he disnae watch it because “dragons are for pencil necked geeks”. 

Big thank you to David J.Wilson for the photos as per usual. 

 

ICW Shug’s House Party 4 – Night One Review

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Noam ‘fuckin Dar. A lot of really good shit happened on night one of the Shug’s weekender. An eye watering fatal four-way match with a WWE title on the line stole the show in terms of being the best wrestling match and all 4 men involved should be incredibly proud of what they produced when the stakes have maybe never been higher, but nae single moment matched the one where Noam Dar stepped through that curtain one more time in front of 1,000+ people who love him like a brother/son/mythical god in a shiny trackie tap. It was a wee moment of triumph for him and everyone watching. The fact that his talent has been recognised with WWE signing him AND we still get to see him perform in ICW. Even if its just for one night, thats still a special, surreal situation we all find ourselves in. Wrestling right now is beautiful and you’d need about 50 pairs of eyes and at least one and a half functional brains to watch all the good shit. All I needed to see Noam on this particular night was a pair of steamin eyes and at least 1/8th of a brain and honestly it was like seeing the love of my life for the first time all over again. The first guy who stepped through the curtain at the first ICW show I went to had suddenly came back into my life. If he didnae leave me so he could hing oot the back ae ALLLLLLLLLLEEEEESHA FOXXXXX I might have considered going for a reconciliation but I realise now that’s where he belongs. Don’t be sad its over, just be happy it happened, and if the fair city riots come back to town again, scream so hard ye gie yersell a hernia.

Unfortunately while Noam would be tagging with his auld pink party pal Sha Samuels in the main event, he wouldn’t get to share the ring with fellow pink partner turned big bad baddie Grado. Due to other commitments Grado and Red Lightning opened the show by informing the crowd that Grado wouldn’t be competing that night and that Grado vs Sha Samuels the following night would be “loser leaves town”. Grado took to the mic to call us aw jabronis and tell us he didn’t need us. But what if we need you eh? Ye ever think about that? What if we need you and you fuck off to America to ride Alicia Fox anyway? Whit am I supposed to tell the weans?

Bram was announced as his replacement and the latest client of Rudo, little did we know just 24 hours later he’d set fire to the world before sitting back with a cigar watching it burn.

Mikey Whiplash vs Stevie Boy (Dog Collar Match)

ICW’s only other dog collar match was a fuckin stoater between two guys who would later be involved in an equally excellent contest later in the night. This one was also beautifully brutal viewing and its excellence might get a bit lost considering all the other heavy duty shit that occurred on the night but any match that involved a guy literally hanging his adversary should never be lost in anything.

They started with Whiplash pulling Stevie into the middle some some thunderous forearms and jabs before Stevie used the dog collar to pull Whiplash off the ropes into an innovative cutter. Stevie had control and decided that with Whiplash down, it was time to get that collar aff. I seen this move being queried and folk askin if it should be a DQ, its a fuckin dog collar match troops. People were scudding each other with chains. There are nae DQs. Its very much a dae whit ye want type of scenario and Stevie wanted that collar off. He then had the ingenious idea to attach his half of the collar to the ringpost before leathering Whiplash with the chain for a while. Whiplash ended a sustained and brutal period of getting a doing with a Death Valley Driver but his own wee bit of momentum ended when he went for a running kick but the chain was just a wee bit short and he went fleein into the air like Stevie had chucked The Geezers auld slip n slide in the ring.

Whiplash decided the best course of action after that mishap would be keeping the chain a close to him as possible, strapping it to his body like a demonic life jaiket before leaping off toe top rope and landing a splash. Whiplash then put the collar back ON Stevie, before pullin the rulebook oot his pocket and showing Stevie the word “Dog Collar Match – Rules” at the top of an otherwise empty page. As blood trickled down Whiplash’s face they scudded each other daft once more, Stevie hitting two superkicks in a row and looking the sharper man, only for Whiplash to bust out THREE powerbombs and the death valley driver he called “The Zombiemaker” for the win.

Whiplash grabbed a mic after sealing the win to tell Stevie it wasn’t over. His disciples placed a coffin on the stage and there was a present for Stevie in there. I dunno if there was some kinda flesh-eating monster in there but whatever Whiplash had in store was absorbed by a certain Jimmy Havoc. Who hopped out looking more murderous than ever before, attacking Whiplash before getting on the mic himself (making this sound like a rap battle, it wisnae one, sorry to disappoint) to reveal he would be part of a four way death match at Fear and Loathing also involving Whiplash, Stevie Boy and Chris Renfrew who was summoned to the ring by Havoc to be called a bitch repeatedly. Renfrew’s auld Renfrew instincts told him to jump in there and hammer the cunt, but Whiplash kept him under control. For now. Surely Renfrew is due a mad stabbin spree anytime now.

Bull James vs Kid Fite

This was a right good laugh so it was. Originally supposed to be Bull teaming with Liam Thomson, while also allowing him to sleep in the bath of his hotel room. But Liam’s injury meant nae wrestling and nae roof over his heid for the night. Boy just cannae catch a break. If they have another match and Wolfgang wins his maw hes literally got fuck all left. Unless Wolfgang ever needs a kidney, the game’s a bogey. Liam’s injury meant instead of a tag match with Lou King Sharp and Krieger, they became the hauners for the Da of this team/Scottish Wrestling in general. The sultan of snap suplexin. Kid Fite.

Fito tried in vain to take big Bull off his feet before Bull took him down, following that up by shoulder charging Lou King Sharp so hard he flew right out the venue and landed perfectly on a bar stool in BOX. Ordering himself a double jack n coke wae nae ice while his two pals tried to literally wrestle a bull. The size disadvantage Fito was at was mad apparent when he had Bull down but couldn’t physically turn him over for the pin. Lou King Sharp made it back fae BOX in time to try and turn him over, but the swally had obviously taken a hold because the universally acclaimed muscle man couldnae get the job done. Eventually Krieger was called upon to do the deed, and his success seemed to enrage oor Lou. A bit of a family dispute led to Bull having the opening to enleash aw sorts of jookin n jiving. He even hit a Tornado DDT on Krieger in impressive fashion before the sharp yin took it upon himself to put this matter to an end. I dunno if he expected a bullet to shoot out of his shoulder when he went for the spear on Bull but it didn’t work and while Bull was laughing it off, Kid Fite rolled up him for the sneaky win.

The troops made their way to the back laughing it up while big Bull bemoaned the lack of hauners he was given on the night. Shoulda kidded on ye were into motorbikes and gied The Purge a shout mate.

Kay Lee Ray vs Kasey (ICW Women’s Title Match)

Kay Lee Ray has maybe been my favourite ICW performer since The Hydro. Anything she does when she steps in that ring has authority. It fuckin matters. She carries herself like titles belong round her waist and accolades are rightfully hers. I never thought watching her drop the title she’s made her own since that night she dethroned Carmel in under a minute would be a thing I like but it made a star out of someone who’s deserved that shine for a long fuckin time and in the immortal words of a smiley DDP, that’s not a bad thing it’s….A GOOD THING.

Kay Lee got on the mic and ripped Kasey three or four new arseholes, claiming that while shes good, she’s not in the upper echelon of women’s wrestling and not even on the level of her sister. Upon hearing this, Kasey took what could only be described as a mad ragey and nearly pinned Kay Lee instantly with a superb knee to the jaw. Kay Lee rolled to the outside only to be met by a suicide dive from Kasey, as the Belfast born bruiser (fuckin alliteration daft the day) chucked her back in to beat her with her own move, the Gory Special, followed by another belter of a running knee to crown Kasey the NEW ICW Women’s Champion. 

Kay Lee loses her belt to Kasey going tonto on her jaw. Does nae harm to Kay Lee and made Kasey look like a legit badass/borderline murderer. Folk complaining about the “not getting enough time” n aw that, watch them have an absolute stoater of a rematch on night two and tell me it didnae work. As for Kasey, a lot of hard work paying off for her, shes crafted a cracking character and paired with her in ring ability, its nice to see someone who’s grafted at it for a number of years finally get a bit of momentum.

Jody Fleisch vs Super Crazy

Cards on the table, of the announced matches this is the one I was the least hyped about and then they fuckin killed it and made me and everycunt who went “Super Crazy? Why?” when he was announced look incredibly stupit. How dare we question the credentials of a Lucha Granda who’s been at this wrestling carry on for 29 years and still flies about like an Apprentice Lucha on his first day. Jody Fleisch is someone I remember from my younger years doing British Wrestling brilliantly when it wasn’t in fashion and looking in the shape of his life. A couple of auld geezers having the time of their fuckin life out there in front of 1,000 + sweaty Glaswegians. Wrestling is diversity. Diversity is wrestling.

Super Crazy chucked Jody about in amongst the crowd after a bit of lucha sparring to kick the match off. They got back in the ring and Super Crazy hit a drop toehold on to a chair before dropkicking that chair, then doing a mad standing corkscrew thing. 29 fuckin year doing this wrestling carry on and he’s fleein about like Will Ospreay fulla poppers. Jody Fleisch sent him outside with a gorgeous handspring back elbow, then an even more perfect moonsault to the outside. Both men landing remarkable safely on the ramp. Everything Fleisch done over the weekend was flawless, except maybe having the Union Jacks on his gear but loving the Sellik isnae absolutely essential if ye want to become a Snapmare Necks endorsed grappler. Its preferred like, but not essential.

They both went for some death defying top rope stuff. Fleisch missing a shooting star press, before super Crazy landed super hard on a missed moonsault, but Jody was caught napping as he pondered hiring a helicopter and doing a 1080 splash out of it to put Super Crazy away, and Super Crazy rolled him up for the win. Hugely entertaining and they both rolled back the years to put on a cracking show. More Jody Fleisch in ICW please. in fact, fuck it, more of both of them.

Lionheart vs Joe Hendry (Non Sanctioned Match)

Beast feud in ICW this year by a fuckin mile and its been a smashin year so that tells you just how good they’ve both been. Who knows how “real” the whole thing is, but its felt real. Its felt like Bret vs Shawn type of animosity between two guys who are probably similar deep down but something between them has gone a bit wrong. Something in their dynamic got a bit fucked up and that led to them fucking each other up. Big kicks to the temple. Threats of stabbing. Joe Hendry saying a SWEAR WORD. It’s all happened over the course of this bitter rivalry and here’s where it ends. In a match that by definition COULD end in a stabbing without ICW being liable for it. The stabber would still likely get the jail but whit the fuck else to you expect when you stab a guy in front of 1,000 witnesses? A medal for being the tap stabber in wrestling? Mon noo.

It began with them both trying to punch each others cunts in, but both managed to cover their heads effectively and that led to Joe busting out that palm strike into the neckbreaker he does that looks lovely I must say. One of my favourite Joe Hendry wrestling manoeuvres. They went out into the crowd and belted each other off of every hard surface they could find, taking a break to go haufers on a pint cause only kings and sultans can afford a full pint to themselves in the ABC. Lionheart then chucked Joe off a wee ledge, before somersaulting on to him and hunners of fans. The ABC is probably the best venue for mad dives. There are hunners of wee places for that type of madness. Back in the ring, yer man Hendry took a chair to Hearto’s back quite brutally. Seeming conflicted throughout. In the unsanctioned arena there’s nae room for your conscience. Its do or die. Joe Hendry in his normal hear might not be able to knock fuck out of a guy with a chair, but Jeans Hendry with the jeans on? fuckin go for it mate. Jeans Hendry. Chair slingin hero.

The chair attack was derailed with a defiant dropkick from Lionheart, which lead to him daein a bit of D-Vonning. Setting up a table and going up top only for Jeans Hendry to catch him square on the brain with a flying chair. With the table set up and Lionheart bleeding aw err the camp, Joe hit a superb exploder suplex that sent Lionheart through the table before getting him in a chokehold and watching the life drain from his eyes as the ref called it.

Joe Hendry had won, but something beautifully organic happened afterwards. A double turn of sorts as the crowd chanted “Joe Hendry’s A Fanny” parodying his famous ditty about Hearto that started this whole thing. Hendry then took to the mic to cut an emotive promo, telling Lionheart he had to do what he done before a dazed Lionheart hit a Rock Bottom on him to a wild reaction. There’s nae doubt Joe Hendry is brilliant as an arrogant baddie, and Lionheart deserves a run with a bit of momentum behind him so the outcome is a big win-win and the feud was superbly done. Lionheart is a hero chants rang out as Jeans Hendry trudged to the back. Take a bow troops. Good wrestling indeed.

Zack Gibson vs Kenny Williams (Ladder Match for the ICW Zero-G Title)

He is Zack Gibson. He doesn’t do flips. He doesn’t want you to enjoy flips. If he knew what madness was going down in that Fleisch vs Super Crazy match he’d have burned the place to the ground but he was too busy throwin darts at a photo of Kenny stealin HIS belt. This has been a feud full of blatant thievery in all honesty, so the safest course of action was probably taking the belt aff them and sticking it on the ceiling. Gibson told us as SOOOON as Kenny Williams was out cold, then and only then would we see a ladder but within about 30 seconds Kenny had brought one in and Gibson had dropkicked it into his face.

This feud has been another highlight of 2017 and it was nice to see the Zero-G defended on a big show in a match that didnae have “scramble” in the title somewhere. Kenny Williams and Zack Gibson are firmly established as two of the very best in the country. Give them aw the singles bouts. This match was essentially all the mad shit they always do to each other with a ladder somehow wedged into the mix. Gibson hit a slingshot on to a ladder set up in the corner that saw Kenny’s two front teeth knocking clean out his heid, somehow landing in Gibson’s back pocket. Despite missing two of his most important gnashers, Kenny hit a beauty of a back elbow off a wee ladder attached to a big ladder, a move that followed a mad crossbody off the ladder to Zibson on the outside. Gibson hit the Codebreaker on Williams while he carried one of the wee ladders in a move that was probably as sare on him as it was on his opponent. What I like about Gibson is no matter the type of match or opponent, he’s always working the arm. He’s always got the finish line in sight. Everything he does is for a reason. Nae flashyness. Functional, really sare looking, wrestling. They battled on the ladder before both falling back, Kenny landing hard on the wee ladders.

With both men poised on ladders, Kenny hit a smashing cutter off one ladder on to the one Gibson was on, before deliberately running underneath the ladder on his way to a suicide dive that was caught by Gibson. He undoubtedly would have hit the dive if he didnae anger the gods by running under the ladder in the first place. It all culminated in yer classic two guys climbing the ladder, peppering each other with jabs, before one guy ups the ante and knocks the opponent off the ladder. On this occasion it was Kenny who took a maddy, leathering Gibson with about 50 forearms before the man SOOOON  to be recognised as the former Zero-G Champion fell off the ladder and Kenny climbed up to become the first ever 3 time ICW Zero-G Champion. 

Another feud that hugely benefited both parties. Kenny makes history and comes out on top of an extremely physical feud with some cracking matches while Gibson undoubtedly positions himself as one of the top guys in the company. Of all the English guys ICW have used in recent years, some of whom have flitted in and out and not really established themselves as regulars, Zack Gibson is the example to follow. Don’t settle for being on the odd tour show. Don’t settle for bit part. Carve out a spot for yourself. Break peoples arms. Do it SOOOOOON.

Dickie Divers vs Thomas Kearins

I really dunno what else folk expected from a match between a referee and a wrestler. It was supposed to be a bit daft. It was supposed to provide a bit of respite between a stoater of a ladder match and two of the biggest matches ICW’s ever seen. It started with Kearins up the top rope, completely missing a dive while Divers laughed his heid aff and that set the tone for the whole piece.

Another good thing this “feud” has brought to us is the return of Divers’ running knee in the corner. One of the best executed moves in Scottish Wrestling. Up there with the famed Kid Fite snap suplex, and Divers busted out a snap suplex of his own right after that brought a two count. Stunned that Kearins was able to kick out at all, Divers was even more taken aback by Kearins nailing him with a big boot. He had wee moments like that. He hit yer Da’s favourite flying headscissors ever much to everyones astonishment but whenever he got a head of steam, he got kicked in the jaw. Imagine how much of a doing the ref at a fitba game would get if he decided to take the ball off a player and smash one in the top corner. Stay in yer lane kid. Oversee the grapples, don’t be the grapples. His attempt at seemingly some sort of dive was derailed by a big boot to the chops from Divers.

He seemed a bit done with it at that stage and when he hit a legdrop off the second rope that was probably it but he pulled Kearins shoulder up. Seemingly wanting to inflict more damage but yer man got rolled up for the quick one, two, three! THE REF HAS BEAT THE WRESTLER. SHUT THE WHOLE THING DOWN. Nah I’m jestin mate, Divers of course kicked out and hit a Northern Lights Driver (had nae fuckin idea what to call so cheers to William Grange for knowing the names of aw the moves) for the win. 

Divers wasn’t done apparently, as he grabbed a chair to continue the beatdown only for Dirk Mcintosh to appear on the stage. Dirk Mcintosh is a character Thomas Kearins portrayed so folk were aw like “aw man, i mean, if hes there and hes there, WILL THE REAL TAM KEARINS PLEASE STAND UP!?” He did, and hit a DDT on a distracted Divers before giving his alter ego a big thumbs up for the hauners. I don’t even think it was another guy, I think he’s got that special type of schizophrenia where both yer personalities get a body each. I’ll say one thing for big Kearins he does hit a fine DDT indeed.

Pete Dunne (c) vs Wolfgang vs BT Gunn vs Trent Seven (WWE UK Championship Match)

Simon Cassidy looked positively buzzin as he announced this. Realising the hugeness of what he was about to do. Only time I’ve heard more buzz come from him was when he announced the fuck out of DCT before his cage match with Bram. This was an active WWE Title being defended on a show ran by a UK promotion. Nah fuck that. This was a WWE Title being defended on a FUCKIN ICW SHOW. Involving two ICW LEGENDS and one of its most recent champions. It was essentially a WWE match with ICW spray-painted over the top of it NWO Hollywood style, but if ICW were staging an NWO style takeover, Pete Dunne was Sting. Pete Dunne was the guy who was gonnae single handedly gonnae bring it down.

There were tense moments in the pre match staredown. Wolfgang wondering where the fuck Trent had been for the past wee while, and Trent too sweeting his pal Pete when he entered the ring. A wee alliance there perhaps? Take the two Scottish guys out and keep the belt Birmingham exclusive is it? Wolfgang and BT Gunn weren’t fucking about and when Trent and Pete went out on to the apron to do that Triple H thing where he spits water all over his own face, BT and Wolfy knocked them off the apron. This is for a WWE title. Nae fuckin messin. Be British Strong Style besties on yer own time. Wolfy and BT had the ring to themselves after that and of course knocked lumps out each other because that’s what they do.

They were seemingly taking shots each to fight each other, but Wolfgang decided he was gonnae fight everyone at once. Taking BT down with a spear and hitting a big dive to the outside on Pete and Trent who happened to be out there forearming each others faces to bits. BT Gunn got in on the diving fun with a trust fall dive on to all three men, before Wolfy’s attempt at the Slam Dunk on Trent was thwarted by a stunner of a Half Nelson Suplex. Every single moment of this was fucking incredible and if you’ve not actually seen it with your eyes you need to go ahead and do that right now. Fuck reading this shit. Go watch the match. Go and watch Pete Dunne offer another too sweet to his “pal” Trent only for Pete to drastically reduce the chance of any wee Trent Seven’s running about with a hellacious boot to the baws. Pete Dunne is a fuckin killer and when it comes to shiny belts, he has no pals. Never forget that. When it comes to keeping hold of a fuckin active WWE title he will literally kill a man or at least bite each and every one of his fingers off to make sure it stays round his waist. A pedigree followed for a two count that enraged Dunne so much he nearly bopped Sean McLaughlin before deciding against it. A wise move there Pete. Don’t mess wae Sean. He might no have a mustachioed alter ego or a sweet DDT but he looks like he’s slung a few haymakers in his time.

After that everyone pretty much lost their fuckin minds in the best possible way. All sorts of strikes from all four men. Kicks, punches…purple stuff. You name it, they done it, before they all struck each other with forearms and fell to the ground. Back on their feet they unleashed mad furious punches on each other, it was just a blur of furious British fists, before Wolfgang used BT Gunn’s foot to kick both Pete and Trent, before hitting beauty of a powerslam on BT, followed up with a slam dunk/senton combo from Wolfgang on Pete and Trent, and as BT Gunn went for a crossbody, Wolfgang caught him in another Slam Dunk to end the whole sequence with Wolfgang right on top of three of the best wrestlers in the UK. What a fuckin year the big man’s having, and with the WWE UK Championship and Liam Thomson’s maw in his sights, its only gonnae get better. A whole lot of fun, prizes to be won.

Wolfgang went up for the swanton to finally bring that belt hmae but BT Gunn kicked out. They then both landed in a pinning position from a superplex and Sean counted them both. If it was a double pin again, Sean’s a joiner by trade so 5 minutes wae a hacksaw solves that problems. Half a belt each. Trent hit a stunning half nelson suplex on TWO men at the same time, I thought that would be a better way to describe it than a double half nelson suplex cause then its a full nelson suplex? I don’t fuckin know. This is all too much.  Dunne hit the bitter end on Wolfy but BT Gunn was like a man possessed throughout. The only one of the four not currently tied in with WWE in any way but a man who at least proved to everyone watching that he was on that level. Him being mightily impressive throughout this match wasn’t even the highlight of his weekend so that tells ye just how amazing his night two was. He hit a double Gunnshot before Trent almost took the title himself with the same top rope piledriver that saw him take Wolfgang’s ICW Title back in February. BT once again got a taste of the glory with a beautiful three move combination ending in a brainbuster on Dunne but Dunne countered BT coming off the top rope with a huge forearm and retained the shiny belt, bringing a stunning contest to an end with the Bitter End.

It all ended rather amicably which was nice. All four men taking a swig of water before doing their best Triple H impression after it. Well done troops. With the pressure on to deliver all for of you tore the house down. Truly felt like ye were standing watching history so it did. Lovely.

Sha Samuels and NOAM FUCKIN DAR vs Joe Coffey and Bram

There has never been an entrance in pro wrestling so perfect. I will completely admit to be being hugely biased saying that, but to me there’s never been an entrance so marvellous. So joyful that if you could condense it into pill form it could cure any illness. Even that wan that makes ye age backwards. As Sha waited patiently in the ring for his best pal in the whole world, Noam Dar’s WWE music hit and a procession of monkeys in suits came out instead of a cheeky wee monkey in a tracksuit. Sha looked a bit taken aback himself, and even urged the monkeys to calm it when they entered the ring but then the joy came. Then we heard that thunderous opening to Fair City Riots and each and every person within a 50 mile radius of that wrestling ring lost their fuckin minds. Even Sha couldn’t help having a wee dance as Noam made his way out to the tune he mad famous. FAIR CITY RIOTS ARE COMIN TO TOWN, FAIR CITY RIOTS ARE BRINGIN YA DOWN. Fuckin……aw fuck….there he is. In all his glory. For one night only. Your favourite, ma favourite, evdy’s favourite! Noam Dar was back in the building. In his element. Thousands of miles away from ALLLLLLLEEEESHA FOXXXXX. Get the tea on and the tunnocks teacakes oot, oor boy’s hame!

The baddies came out to ruin all the fun, cause that’s what baddies do. Little did Bram know he was just 24 hours away from ruining everyone’s lives. Punching the joy clean out of our collective souls. Joe Coffey stepped out with that shiny belt and started the match staring down Noam Dar. An iconic ICW moment considering the feud they had a couple of years back. My favourite ICW feud in terms of the quality of wrestling matches it produced and thats what it’s all about at the end of the day innit. The auld grapplin. Joe tagged out before they could actually do any grappling, in a villainous move thats up there with him coming out to Simply The Best at Target. Bram was set about by both Noam and Sha, who were looking like a machine as well oiled as Iestyn Rees chest. Joe did get in there eventually, swinging Noam about a bit before locking in a half crab. They isolated Noam effectively for a bit but he eventually made it to Sha for a red-hot tag. Scorchin so it wis.

Bram hit a cracker of a spinning heel kick on Sha and he seemed to gel with Joe very well. Sha and Joe went at for a bit in a enjoyable exchange that could perhaps one day happen for a World Title on the line. Sha Samuels is a main event guy after all. You put him in main events, the result is always top drawer. All of a sudden the action made its way into a crowd that was now at least 95% sweat, Noam hitting a suicide dive before Sha hit the famous Sha-Sault frop the top rope into the crowd. The most aesthetically pleasing move in pro wrestling by a fuckin mile. As they battled in the crowd Joe had Noam in a belter of a Boston Crab but as Red Lightning was rightly saying on commentary, ye cannae win the match there mate. Back in the ring, referee Sean McLaughlin was taken out mistakenly by Sha, leading to all sorts of low blows. Noam clocking Bram’s hawmaws right after he had booted Sha in the crown jewels. Joe Coffey bypassed all the low blow patter, instead hitting the Discus Lariat for what would have undoubtedly been a three count had a referee been present. Nae ref means nae count, and nae danger for Noam as he quickly locked in the X-Wing Kneebar that had Joe tapping, but once again, nae ref, nae party.

With Thomas Kearins knackered from doing a spot of wrestling himself, the only other ref available was Stephen Hughes, who was cleaned out as soon as he hit the ring by Bram, who just 24 hours later would somehow get access to the big red button. Managing to somehow beat Trump to pressing it, launching aw sorts of missiles and killing us all. Bram then hit a fuckin Canadian Destroyer on Sha, which Sha seemed impervious to, hitting one of his own to shatter Bram’s skull. Joe then cleaned Sha out with the discus but a groggy Sena McLaughlin only got across in time to count two.

Joe was removed from the equation completely when his opponent on Night Two Jack Jester emerged and they set about each other all the way to the back, prompting Red Lightning to hop off commentary and break all our hearts. A skill he has finely cultivated over the years. He handed Noam a steel chair and it seemed to be lights out for the Pinky Party. Noam seemed to be joining the big bad baddies. He berated Sha just like Grado had a few months earlier, holding a steel chair in his hand seemingly intent on ruining everyones life a full 24 hours before Bram did, but it was a fallacy. A falsehood. A fuckin big ruse so it was. Sha’s middle fingers turned to Pinky’s, and Noam’s villainous scowl became the widest of smiles as he turned the chair to Bram, before leaving it to Sha to chuck at the big bastard before Noam knocked him clean out with a flying knee for the win. Endlessly beautiful stuff. Still buzzin aff it.

As if all the beautiful wrestling stuff wasn’t enough he rounded it off with a nice wee promo. If the words he said are to be believed he might love us just as much as we love him but surely that’s no fuckin possible is it? Nae way. Nae pinky. Nae part-ay. 

 

 

 

Review: Target Wrestling LIVE In Carlisle – Polo Promotions vs Moustache Mountain

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When I rocked up to the Carlisle City Centre around 4 hours before this show was due to kick off, admittedly I had no idea what to expect. Carlisle isn’t a familiar haunt despite its relatively close proximity to Glasgow and I half expected it to be a bit deid. Deid it most certainly is not. I dunno if their was some kinda hen night convention on the go or folk think Carlisle is lawless cause its on the border and they can tan as much gear as they like, but I must have walked past at least 5 or 6 different hen parties happening at the same time. It generally seemed to be rammed with folk having a smashin time and it was a scorcher of a day. The perfect setting for the single greatest tag team match of all time eh? Or at least it felt that way. Even if Polo Promotions vs Moustache Mountain ended up NOT living up to its considerable hype, the build it had been given and the fact that it took pride of place at the top of the card for the night made it feel massive. Polo Promotions run Carlisle to the extent that even famous mustachioed men wrestling under WWE’s banner are still the baddies when it comes to facing Polo Promotions on their turf, and that led to a unique atmosphere in a crowd that were truthfully fucking excellent all night. Adults and children all absolutely lost in what was taking place. I might have personally made the trip for Polo Promotions vs Moustache Mountain, but overall you got the feeling that Target have something special on the go in terms of how invested their fanbase are. Perhaps not quite as special as Johnny Moss haphazardly chuckin folk over his head repeatedly but still pretty special.

Johnny Moss vs Ryan Hunter vs Havok

Less wrestling match, more “these two wee guys owe Johnny Moss money and he’s gonnae collect that debt in the currency of suplexes” here. Enjoyable because Johnny Moss is forever the undisputed ‘Da of British Wrestling a seeing him suplex folk a lot is about as much fun as you can have without ending up in the jail. He also spent a solid minute of the match going corner to corner chopping the life out of both guys. Seeming to particularly enjoy the chops on Havok who has a coupon ye widnae get sick slapping. He also chucked BOTH men over his head at the one time as Hunter set Havok up for a fallaway slam only for Moss to chuck them both into next week with a German. Mossy then sealed the win by catching Havok coming off the top rope and tombstoning his wee skull to bits. This was my first ever Target match and I was instantly very happy that this guy was getting tombstoned till all that remained was skull fragments and tears, so if strangers wishing harm on him is what he’s shooting for in this wrestling gig, he’s absolutely nailing it. A short but utterly devastating display from Mossy. More Mossy in ICW/everywhere please.

Khifie West vs Medallion

Medallion is a big guy in a mask who comes out with a medallion. Sometimes gimmicks are just…there. Ronseal’d oot their nuts. Doing exactly what they say on the tin. Medallion was unhappy with folk chanting “fake medallion” at him, and rightly so. Even if it was made out of aluminium filled wae dug shite, it’s still a medallion. Medallion challenged GPWA alumni Khifie West to a pose off since Khifie had recently been crowned Scottish Junior Bobybuilding Champion and Medallion had the ladies eating out the palm of his medallion when he pulled the straps doon and busted out that rad dad bod. Khifie went to do his own pose and was CALLOUSLY ATTACKED FROM BEHIND in a move no one saw coming. Vicious.

Fair fuck’s to Target for giving West a shot. The raw ingredients are there and they seem to be investing in him early before he’s the finished article. He won the match with a situout firemans carry slam after Medallion had burst aw his ribs shortly before with a senton from the middle rope. I’ve been reliably informed the fake medallion patter is actually because there’s sometimes a fake one so there ye go. The more you know and all that.

Joe Coffey, Joseph Conners and Magnus vs The Tyne Wolves and Flip Gordon

Fuck off. How dare ye. Years of going to shows, beating the chest, repping the iron man proudly. Lariats, boston crabs, mad missile dropkicks. All met with a big whooping “YASSSS” and this is how I’m repaid. One of my favourite wrestlers committing an act of sheer heinousness. Joe Coffey supports Celtic, I know this to be a fact and yer man came out to Simply The Best by Tina Turner. The anthem of the true blues. Anything Rangers related has this as its soundtrack and to see a tim stoat out to it was jarring. An act of self loathing only a true villain would be capable of. After beheading all the children in attendance in an act slightly less evil than his entrance, Joe Coffey took to the mic to inform us who he and Joseph Conners mystery partner would be. None other than former TNA Champion, mad Magnus. A guy who I hadn’t seen since he looked heavy bored at that 5 Star Wrestling carry on that was on the tele before the whole thing fell apart. He looked less bored here, probably because he was about to see a man’s trousers vanish in front of his very eyes.

At this point I will fully admit I had never heard of Flip Gordon and his magical vanishing pants so fuck knows why you’re even still reading this. I clearly do not have my finger on the pulse because this guy is fucking tremendous, and his trousers fully vanished mate. He done a pre match flip and the three quarter lengths he had on over his skants just weren’t there anymore. If any male strippers in the audience didn’t instantly steal that move they are bad at their jobs. As good as the main event was, Flip Gordon literally flipping out of his trousers ran it close for entertainment value. Then wrestling happened.

Joe Coffey was a big bad baddie throughout and he seemed to be having a rerr time with it. Stopping Flip hitting a big dive with a shoulder tackle, fulfilling his promise to allow “none of that flippy dippy crap” to occur in this match. A chant of “He’s a wrestler, a mighty wrestler, his name is MARK Coffey” started which followed Magnus having “You’re shit, but you’re burd is fit” chanted at him. Matches don’t tend to be rated on horrendously villainous entrances, vanishing trousers or chants, but if they were, this had match of the year written all over it. After a spell of dominance from the baddies, peppered by Conners regularly shouting at unruly fans to shut it, the goodies had their resurgence and Flip eventually did hit his dive, using the middle rope first, before gently easing on to the top and landing on all three of the opponents. Where’d yer troosers go but mate? Troosers don’t just vanish. They must have went somewhere.

Magnus went up top only for Flip to come out of nowhere to propel himself to the top rope, somehow maintaining enough balance to hit a superkick, followed by a 450 splash after The Tyne Wolves had set Conners up, but his acrobatics were to be in vain after Conners snuck the win for his squad with a sneaky wee rollup.

‘Turbo’ Josh Terry vs Shady Nattrass – High Octane Title Match

Two guy’s I’d heard good things about but until this night had never seen wrestle. The card was originally supposed to be Terry defending in a triple threat but Liam Thomson’s injury meant it was re-jigged and nae disrespect to the triple threat, or my favourite wrestler in the world right now Liam Thomson but I’m glad it turned out to be this instead because it was a terrific display of how talented they both are.

Terry is one of Johnny Moss’s graduates and it shines through. In amongst all the impressive athleticism he is so technically sound. Learning wrestling from Johnny Moss must be akin to being taught painting by Da Vinci, or being taught interior design by Laurence Llewelyn Bowen. Yer watching a master at work. Allowing your own work to be moulded by a true maestro. Terry hit a sexy backflip off the stage after him and Nattrass going back and forth for it a bit. As much as Terry looked shit hot throughout, a lot of him looking like the next big thing was accentuated by Nattrass making it so. He had a wee spell of dominance ended after seeing a move reversed into a Satellite DDT from Terry, but Shady gained the upper hand again after shoving the ref into the ropes when Terry went on top, causing severe baw trauma on the top turnbuckle and giving Shady the chance to catch him up top and hit a mad flippy top rope suplex situation. Impressive.

Perhaps even more impressive was Shady Nattrass ability to somehow block out men, women and children coming together to chant “shitty mattress” at him pretty much for the whole 15 minutes this match lasted. It must be slightly off-putting to be a human man compared to a mattress caked in shite but he shook it off and proceeded to chuck Terry into some barriers and such. Terry looked a bit out on his feet and then about 30 seconds later proceeded to hit a Canadian Destoryer on the apron (hardest part of the ring btw, there’s a scoop for ye) and undoubtedly killed Nattrass. Shame the first time seeing him was going to be my last cause he was at the very least rendered braindead by that move. They both narrowly avoided being counted out before a Nattrass cutter got him within bawhairs of regaining the title. Terry regrouped and hit a backwards hurricanrana followed by a lovely shooting star press for the win.

Hugely enjoyable and both guys made a fan out of me over the course of the match. Riddled with chemistry so they are. Would gladly watch them do a wrestle again. Josh Terry is so good it actually makes ye forget his name is one latter away from being John Terry, at least till ye mention it at the very end of the paragraph.

Karnage vs Rampage Brown – Target Heavyweight Title Match

From the remarkably flippy Flip Gordon and jumpin Josh Terry to perhaps the least flippy wrestling match you’ll see all year. Maybe since time began. That’s exactly why Rampage Brown is and forever will be one of my favourite wrestlers. One of the guys on the list of guy’s I’ve never seen have a bad match. Know why that is? He fuckin kills cunts mate. No matter who the opponent is or how competent they might be, Rampage Brown will make the match good because he is a human battering ram who’s been known to break folk’s necks just by firing an icy stare at them.

I gathered early on yer man Karnage is a bit of a hometown favourite, because folk actually had the audacity to boo Rampage Brown when he came out and big Karnage got the pre match streamer treatment. The match was a decent scrap. Your heart went out to Karnage as Rampage chucked him about like an empty shellsuit in the early stages. Even spitting on the streamers chucked in his honour. It wasn’t like watching any auld wrestler get brutalized by Rampage, it was like watching him chuck yer Da about his local while all his pals cheer him on, with absolutely no intentions on jumping in on his behalf because Rampage Brown is a scary big bastard.

Never underestimate the power of Dad’s though. Karnage exploded in a fit of Da fury after an excellent forearm exchange between the two, and gained the upper hand for the first time with a big fucker of a boot to the chops. They made their way on to the stage which is kinda just higher than the apron of the ring, allowing for Karnage to chuck Rampage from the stage into the ring, before hitting a top rope elbow and a two-handed sitout chokeslam for the win. Da’s everywhere rejoice. The king of your Carlisle wing retained his belt.

Afterwards someone called The Coyote Kid leathered Karange with a chair. Seemingly furthering a storyline I admittedly knew ride all about. That was the only time in the night I didn’t feel “in” on what was happening which is pretty decent considering it was my first show. Another big reason I enjoyed the whole show.

Polo Promotions vs Moustache Mountain – Target Tag Title Match

Moustache Mountain entered almost with a hint of trepidation. Like Barcelona when they rock up to an away ground in the Champions League. They know the audience knows how good they are, but they also know the audience do not give a fuck. For 90 minutes anyway. How good you are and how famous yer squadron is does not matter a fuck. Polo Promotions in Carlisle are the home team. The 4 guys queuing up at 4pm (they might have been there longer thats just when I walked past) in full Polo Promotions regalia indicates they run this toon. The almost palpable tension when Moustache Mountain entered indicates Polo Promotions run this toon. The deafening noise that happened with the first notes of Jackie by Scott Walker hit and the troops emerged suggests that Polo Promotions run this toon. This is purple and pink country and the duo who’ve been beating the drum and telling anyone with two ears that they ARE a main event tag team finally had their wish. Here they were. Top of the card. In there with the big famous WWE superstars and standing toe to toe with them. For 20+ minutes they had each and every person in attendance eating out of the palm of their hand which is what a main event should be. Undivided attention. Everyone from every age group engrossed.

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The first 10 minutes of this was just a wall of noise. Trent and Tyler had a wee waltz to the Polos theme as they came out but when they eventually hit the ring it was back and forth chanting for days. Polo Promotions fans were louder but that was the first point in the night you really hard from the away end. Turning out to see their heroes aff the WWE Network. The two teams stood side by side and just drank in the noise for a solid two minutes. Feeling every single second of it before chucking a chinlock in anger. Sometimes wrestling is special. Sometimes it all just comes together and feels fuckin incredible and this was one of those matches that it was privilege to be in attendance for.

Even after the duelling chants, it still took another 2-3 minutes for wrestling to start. Jackie Polo soaking in chants of his own, energised by them. One of my favourite things in wrestling is watching matches the wrestlers themselves seem absolutely buzzing out their tits to be involved in and this was one of those. Polo’s were well on top early, in amongst unwavering support. Completing a couple of home runs after hanging both opponents up in the corner. If you ever needed anything to articulate how good Polo Promotions are, it’s the scoop slam and namely, the way a crowd reacts when the opponents have the absolute cheek to attempt one. Trent and Tyler were near booed oot the building when they went on a scoop rampage much to Jackie Polo’s rage. Even scooping each other on to a stricken Mark Coffey before Polo caught a red hot tag and unleashed a few spine shattering scooplexes of his own.

Its fine viewing seeing Jackie Polo in full flow so it is. Moustache Mountain chucked everything they had at him here but he was chucking it all back with interest. Is there a better Northern Lights suplex in British Wrestling than Polo’s btw? If there is it must be a fuckin sight to behold because he always nails it. He stopped Moustache Mountain’s attempt to double suplex him by suplexing BOTH of them at the same time , leading to Mark Coffey coming back in via another suntan of a tag. Cannae think of a tag they made throughout the course of this that wasn’t absolutely roastin. Fans champing at the bit to see Coffey unleash a leathering, and that he did. Charging at Trent repeatedly before grounding him with a suplex. Tyler Bate then displayed exactly why he was one half of the best WWE match this year. Unleashing vicious forearms on both Polo’s before rounding it off with catching them on their collective jaw with a suicide dive. Trent came very close to sending the away team hame with the gold thanks to a rainmaker clothesline for a two count.

Both teams saw attempts at their double team finishers blocked which brought the atmosphere to the boil once more. duelling chants started up again as they stood opposite wach other in the ring before an exchange of straight up ounches to the face led to Moustache Mountain coming as close as it gets thanks to a piledriver from trent and a standing Shooting Star Press from Tyler but Coffey broke up the pin. A second attempt at The Old Man Of Hoy by the Polo’s was reversed and almost seen Tyler sneak the belts for his team, but the third attempt hit the mark and Polo Promotions retained amid chaotic scenes. 

The reaction to that three count was one of the most impassioned fan responses to a match I’ve seen in a long time. People were throwing their children in the air in excitement while the children were throwing smaller children and in some cases, wee dugs. The boys left through the crowd, shaking hands with their people and ensuring they’d enjoyed the show. We most certainly did troops and I will most certainly be making the trip again. Even if the show was pish, going to see Polo Promotions in that atmosphere again would be worth it, but the show was fun and Target clearly have a really good thing on the go there. Investment in their home-grown guys from the audience while using some of the best talent the UK has to offer to its greatest potential. A company to be keeping a wee beady eye on for sure.

 

An Interview With Mark Coffey

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“I just don’t agree with people who try and separate themselves from the locker room. Its almost in an attempt to make yourself seem more important. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. We all share the one locker room. We’re all one”

Mark Coffey

A lot of making an impression on people is in how you carry yourself. On many occasions in wrestling someone with a bit of swagger can catch the eye of fans long before a more polished in-ring talent without that swagger would be able to. Mark Coffey has managed to seamlessly mesh the two things together from the first time I seen him wrestle and with only 7 years graft under his belt he seems to have naturally become one of the leaders of the locker room. A firm believer in unity amongst his peers, he marries that desire for unity with a desire to forearm folk’s teeth clean out their heid. That’s what makes him unique, and someone I’ve been absolutely gantin’ to interview for a long time. His belief in ‘the boys’ and fondness for the bond a growing band of the locker room seem to have shines through with every sentence and that all for one, one for all mentality can only be a good thing as British Wrestling powers forward.

Polo Promotions

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As I sauntered towards The Venue in Carlisle for the hotly anticipated Target Wrestling show taking place that night, at 4pm in the day the last thing I expected to see was fans already queuing up.  Yet as I approached I seen 4 or 5 guys huddled round the entrance; Happily chatting away. Most, if not all of them had one thing in common other than being clinically insane to voluntarily be in a queue rather than a pub a 3 full hours before a show. The other thing they had in common was being Polo Promotions to the core. Donning the club colours proudly, feverish at the prospect of the duo who run Carlisle taking their main even tag team vision and turning it into a reality. Polo Promotions are incredibly popular with the fans of Target Wrestling and enjoy an electric rapport with its fan-base, which brought about a momentous occasion on June 17th 2017. Polo Promotions vs Moustache Mountain. Two of the finest teams in the country. Two of the finest teams on the continent. And the two teams who made the concept of having a tag team match as your standalone main event a reality, but make no mistake about it, if it wasn’t for Mark and Jackie Polo pushing for this for a long time, it may never have been a reality.

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“This (Target) is just great because up until the match with Moustache Mountain the crowd have been 100% in our favour. Tonight its going to be more of a 50/50 because of how popular Moustache Mountain and British Strong Style are, but up until tonight we’ve had most of the crowd with us. This is like a testing ground for everything we do. Because we get on so well with Ryan (Devlin) the promoter, John who does a lot of the booking as well, and the fans. They trust us enough that when we go “can we try this?” when we want to do new things, they trust us to do it.”

That trust and the right team to make the match as huge as possible popping up was the perfect mixture of circumstances to make the whole thing come about. With Carlisle bathed in beautiful sunshine and their opponents bathed in beautiful facial hair, it was the right amount of beautiful shit to bring about a beautiful main event. “We’ve been pushing for ages saying we’re a main event tag team. We can put on a main event calibre show. Tonight is a culmination of all that. Of us telling Ryan we can main event and him agreeing that we need to go that way. Getting the right opponents so its a big enough tag team match for a British Wrestling company to go with as their main event. The way you look at shows now, particularly in independent wrestling, guys have a lot more freedom. You notice it a lot on shows now that when it gets to the main event, the crowd struggle. Because they’ve seen everything they could have possibly wanted to see. Sometimes 3 or 4 times over. If you put a tag team match out last, you couldn’t possibly have seen it before. They might have seen a tag match somewhere on the card, but not a main event tag match”

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For what felt like hours, they chanted. They sang. They made every manner of noise they possibly could for tag team wrestling in the main event. When Moustache Mountain entered you could hear a pin drop. The away team. Respected, maybe even feared a bit, but not supported. Not yet anyway. Their fans would get more vocal as this whole saga played out but in that moment they almost seemed scared. Like an away fan at a European game nestled in the home end. Fearing the repercussions of even giving the natives a sniff of the possibility that you might not be one of them. Moustache Mountain will no doubt go up and down the UK this year but I sincerely doubt they’ll face an atmosphere like this again anywhere they go. Rabid loyalty to a pair who might not be born and bred in the city, but a pair who have grown to be two of Carlisle’s favourite sons, as Mark recalled upon proudly.

“A lot of our matches have a derby day feel but this sort of has a Champions League feel. The thing I’m most pleased and excited about is going on in the main event. That’s something we’ve really pushed for. We also pushed for a Tag Division in ICW and I think as a duo we’ve done as much as we can to achieve that, so lets start pushing tag wrestling. Having this match in the main event slot is a win in our column. So we’re gonna keep pushing that way. This is the first step. This is like an achievement unlocked kinda thing. That’s the best thing about it and why we really appreciate it down here. Not only are the fans phenomenal for us and they have been from day one, but Ryan, John etc have been great with us and to get that wee nod from them in having us in the main event tonight is special”

The match was indeed special and became another in a long list of outstanding bouts the team have been involved in this year. Many of those coming in ICW, the company where the team rose to prominence as a duo after singles success and a company where the duo have always been polarising figures. In stark contrast to the almost universal acclaim they get in Carlisle, even when they were devilish big bad baddies, they still had a vocal band of followers, and since transitioning to become fan favourites, its only served to split the audience more. Its an environment that Mark seems to have a huge amount of fondness for. “I love it. We’re lucky enough that most matches we do have a. I don’t want to say ‘big match feel’ because it sounds a bit up your own arse, but it has that sort of derby day feel. Everyone’s up for it. You look at the match with The Kings Of Catch. The crowd were going back and forth for the whole thing. I think that plays into our favour because we’re used to it, whereas our opponents might not be. I said that recently about me and Trent in the singles. He’s not used to that atmosphere either. He’s used to everyone singing for him, and having the Trent Seven army. He’s not used to half the crowd staying faithful to his opponent. So it always kinda plays into our favour. I always say it would be nice if everyone did cheer for us, Jackie doesn’t care either way but I think aw yeah it would be nice, but we’ve experienced it so many times. That’s our atmosphere now, that’s what we bring to a show. The last three times we’ve been down here at Target, the match hasn’t been able to start for 10 minutes. We get in the ring and there’s 10 minutes of absolute chaos before the match starts”

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That chaos and the seemingly never-ending duel between the “Polo Promotions” half of the crowd and the “get tae fuck” team of dafties (sorry journalistic integrity n that, need tae stay impartial, you’re all entitled to your opinion’s, its just a shame those opinions are  very wrong) was never more apparent when the duo took on international superstars and IWGP Tag Champions War Machine at Barramania. “It was a wee check against our name to go in there and have a good match with the IWGP Champs at that time. I think we proved a decent point to the crowd but i think we proved an even bigger point to War Machine themselves, both in the ring and backstage. A lot of guys are afraid when bigger teams come in, but they were coming in to our company. The thing seems to be they (imports) come in, call the shots, and if you disagree you’re wrong. Fuck that. We built this house. I’d like to go again with them. The only fear id have is that with the first match being so good the expectation is there for the second one.”

The team came up ever so slightly short against War Machine, but they managed to topple one of the finest teams in wrestling history at ICW’s Hydro debut. Retaining the ICW Tag Titles against Team 3D aka the legendary Dudley Boyz.  “The match with Team 3D was a great indicator for us. No team has the accolades that team 3D do, they’ve held every major tag title there is. A strong argument could be made for them being the greatest team in pro wrestling/sports entertainment history. So it was a good test to see where we stood on a stage with one of the greats”

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Whilst the outstanding contest with the former ROH and IWGP Tag Champs, and the victory over the most decorated tag team in wrestling history solidified Mark and Jackie as a force to be reckoned with on a wider scale, its the work in building ICW’s tag division that seems to be a personal source of pride, tempered with frustration at times “We worked a bit with The Purge recently and the first match we had was great. Worked with them the next night and it wasn’t good. Then we worked with them 2 or 3 more times and you could see them getting better and better andmcoffey6 its frustrating because you could see the difference in them from the first match to the last and there’s no solid plans to use them going forward. If you’re going to pull the trigger, go the full way. Don’t half pull it. But I feel positive about the tag division right now.”

Bird and Boar may sit on top of the tree right now and have been superb performers since debuting as part of the tag team tournament that took place when Polo Promotions vacated their titles, but the tag division they currently rule wouldn’t exist if not for Mark and Jackie’s record setting reigns with the titles. A fact Mark is rightly proud of

“When we started tagging in ICW, we realised there wasn’t much of a tag division at that time and we wanted to rebuild it. Teams nowadays are a means to an end to a lot of guys. They do it so they can split up eventually. To get on the card, get experience and move further up the card. We just wanted to be a proper team who moved up the card together. Looking at it now, specifically when we came back from the match with the Hunters, I felt very good. Thinking about what we’ve done overall in 2, 3 years worth of pushing. Saying we need a division and recommending teams. Now I think we have a strong division. There’s us, Bird and Boar, The Hunters, Kirby and Hayes had a match on the tour and are coming back. Kings of Catch (who the Polos face at ICW in Edinburgh this Sunday) even The Buckys popped up again. The Purge. Its great and its moving forward. We’re almost where we need to be as a tag division and then when you throw guys like War Machine in. Its a nice bonus. The get to fuck side of the crowd were a bit like “why is it Polo Promotions in with War Machine but i think that was strongly outweighed by by the pro Polo Promotions side”

The quality of the match itself was proof enough that Polo Promotions deserved that match. Stealing the show, and continuing to add weight to their desire to make tag team wrestling a main event fixture. “I think tag wrestling is on the up and is seen as something that’s cool again. People want to team up. Guys like Gallows and Anderson, The Revival and even The Young Bucks are making it more appealing. I don’t understand why you wouldn’ t want to do it to be honest. I’m big on team sports and very much see wrestling as a team game. When you lose you lose, when you win you win, but if you do stuff in groups its definitely more rewarding. I feel weird now having singles matches”

Fuck Yer Coffey, We Want Tea. Then Mark Coffey won the Zero-G

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“If you think about it from when I won until when I lose it you can look at it like a book. There was a beginning, a middle and an end, and its closed now. A lot of people just think about what they’re doing immediately, they don’t think about after that. Being able to look at the whole thing and move on, its something I’ve got a lot of pride in”                                                                                   – Mark Coffey on his Zero-G Title run

A popular, not to mention hugely inventive (naht) chant in my early days attending ICW shows was “Fuck yer Coffey we want tea” aimed at both Coffeys, but when Mark Coffey took the Zero-G Title with a clean win over then ICW Champion Mikey Whiplash, that all seemed to die down. Even those who didn’t naturally gravitate to Mark and his brother Joe had no choice but to recognise their talent in the ring. His run as Zero-G champ might have had a wee Balor shaped mishap in the middle when Fergal Devitt showed up at Still Smokin unannounced to end Mark’s first reign. That blip serving as the middle part to a story Mark looks back on with a great amount of pride.

“My thinking at the time wasn’t that this is the midcard belt. My thinking was that this is the championship, and the main title was the hardcore championship. ICW being what it is, with the rules being at the refs discretion and Jestemcoffey8r being who he is and doing what he does. All of his matches were going to be violent, so again, my thinking was I’ll main event with my title. *laughs* It was never gonna happen…well apart from me and Kenny main eventing Spacebaws that time. That whole run, from winning it to eventually losing it is something I have a lot of Pride in. As one whole piece. A lot of people struggle to look at the bigger picture and just take wrestling as it comes, but if you think about it from when I won until when I lose it you can look at it like a book. There was a beginning, a middle and an end, and its closed now. A lot of people just think about what they’re doing immediately, they don’t think about after that. Being able to look at the whole thing and move on, its something I’ve got a lot of pride in”

Having toppled the ICW Champion at that time with a clean win, Mark carried the moniker of being the “Real ICW Champion” for a while. A tag that was only shed when the champion who eventually did usurp Whiplash, Jack Jester, beat Mark in a match for the title. That match, and a shot at the title Mark recently had against then champion Trent Seven served as a reminder that while singles wrestling might not be high on Polo Promotions agenda at the moment, there’s an audience ready and willing to chuck their support at both parties if the unthinkable does happen at Shugs House Party 4, where they face The Maruaders in a match that will see them forced to split if they lose. “The first title shot I got against Jester when I held the Zero-G, I thought I got quite a bit of support. That surprised me. I didn’t think there was any support for me in that one. The one with Trent I realised ‘oh shit, there is a lot of support for this’ and not only that, there was a lot of support from the locker room. That’s kinda what me and Jackie have become. Not locker room leaders, but just…the boys. I think I’ve got it on Twitter somewhere, that the best part about wrestling is being one of the boys. Its not that I don’t like these people, but I just don’t agree with people who try and separate themselves from the locker room. Almost in an attempt to make yourself seem more important. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. We all share the one locker room. We’re all one. We try and bring that atmosphere and there’s a big group of us now that are all pals. Everyone is getting that feeling now. The feeling of, this is what it’s about. It’s about the boys. That’s the way it should be”

Indeed it was the backing from his peers that humbled Mark the most before his title match with Trent. Most other opponents on a routine Garage show would have put up a good fight without much hope that they might actually take the title, but there was an outpouring of support for Mark that heralded a real belief that “The Power Forward” might actually go ahead and fucking do it.

“The support from a lot of the locker room meant a lot, it was surprising to get a lot of support from the audience because all I’ve ever been was the midcard champ or tag team guy, so to get a sniff of it and for folk to go “aye, this should happen” and for them to really get behind it, it meant a lot. It would have been nice to win it and would have been a massive upset. I think its something that would really have boosted The Garage as a venue. You see a lot of ‘big game hunters’ and ‘celebs’ coming out when the big shows come around and it does my nut in. They appear on Hydro day or Barras day and hit out with a tweet about how much of a big fan they are. No you aren’t. Fuck off. Where are you when we’re doing The QMU? That’s why I like smaller shows. Don’t get me wrong, I like every show, but I enjoy more intimate venues like The Garage and the QMU. I think for a while there, now that everyone has an on demand streaming service, so they’re all concerned about interviews, cameras, lighting and all this shit. Fuck that. They’ll watch it no matter what. Give everything you have to the people that are in the building at that time. The people who have showed up that night and paid more for that single ticket than they would for a month (or even 3 months) of the on demand service. Give them more that night than what goes into putting an on demand show together”

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The “we’re all pals” movement that has seen the formation of almost a brotherhood is something almost unprecedented. Forgoing the in-fighting that tears locker rooms apart, replacing it with days out on the swally watching Scotland snatch a draw from the jaws of a glorious victory against England. “It just kinda happened. We realised none of us had a show and we all went out to watch the Scotland game at Oran Mor. I see guys in wrestling a lot more than guys I grew up with. Mates who you try and make plans with. So thats kinda cool. A lot of the boys are standing up for the boys now. You cant pay people next to nothing anymore. Me and Jackie have set our stall out, and you might notice we dont work at a lot of places other people do because they’ve not agreed to pay us what we’re asking for”

He Aint Heavy….He’s My Brotherrr

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While Mark’s tag team legacy will be largely attributed to achievements as part of Polo Promotions, he first broke on the the scene as part of a tag team with current ICW Champion and his brother Joe Coffey. The team seemed to naturally go in their own directions, and last year they had their first high profile foray into feuding against one and other. Having matches in SWA and PWE, with one in particular tinged with regret for Mark.

“(Working with Joe) Its a challenge. A lot of people just see me and Joe as brothers and assume they must like the same things. They must do the same things. But we dont. We are so far opposites, and wrestling is where its become so apparent that we are thinking totally different ways. We are chalk and cheese when it comes to wrestling in terms of what we like, what we do and what we try to do. So its a challenge. You’re in the ring with someone thinking the totally opposite way. When me and Joe tagged together it was the same thing and it worked against us at times. I felt anyway. We had some good, some bad. But he would bob, I would weave and vice versa. Whereas with me and Jackie, again we are total opposites in terms of personality wise, but in that case opposites attract. He’s so extrovert and I’m so introvert, that he’s sort of pulled me out my shell, and at the same time I’ve sort of tamed him a wee bit.”

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“Working against Joe….it was what it was. I’d have liked it to have been better. I’d have liked it to have been in a different place than SWA if I’m honest. One day in ICW I think it will happen. It has to. When the time is right. I think the idea did get floated in early 2013 and I said no, and they said “why not?” and I said “well….why?” and they were like “brother vs brother” and I said no because it would just be about that. I think Joe was kind of up for it, but I said no him when we do it, its going to be the main event.”

Perhaps with a certain shiny belt Joe currently carries on the line at some point? One can only imagine the atmosphere if Joe in his current villainous form defended the gold against his brother. Hopefully without illness or injury getting in the way as it did when Joe challenged for Mark’s SWA Title last year.

“I was disappointed in the match that ended it. Its nothing to do with the company, or the match stipulation or anything. Its nothing to do with any of that. I was just unwell. Thats my lasting memory of it. It was the week after Barramania last year, and I woke up the morning after Barramania violently ill. Coughing up blood and stuff. Me and my mate watched Wrestlemania that nigmcoffey3ht and it obviously got worse without sleeping so I woke up the next day in an absolute mess. Didn’t leave my bed for 3 or 4 days. I live three floors up and the thought of going down to get food and stuff was a no go. Eventually my mum phoned and asked if I needed anything brought up and I said “Yeah…bring me 4 mcflurrys and 4 milkshakes. That…and Tesco pink doughnuts” and she was asking why and all I could say was “I don’t know, I just need it, bring it” I just needed sugar and cold things. It pisses me off because that day David Wilson was there doing photos and he done the photo that got used in the FSM one to watch article. My bellys hangin out. I’ve got tits, but I’ve got a big left tit and small right tit and I hate it because people still use that photo! Soon as I got in the ring, the cage I think is built for a slightly bigger ring to sit on top of it, but with that ring it cant so it sits on the floor. So you have to go up under the ropes to get in the cage, and even just doing that, Thomas (the ref) asked if I was awrite, and I said “I’m knackered…I’m blowing up here, I cant breathe” and he was like “fuck sake mate. I felt disappointed in myself and that id let down Joe. It was what it was and I needed to just get through it that was that”

Japan Ground Zero (One)

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Mark kickin the tits clean aff Aaron Echo

Even though they may not have worked out as a tag team and have differing views towards the industry they both work in. Joe and Mark do have a lot of similarities. Aside from their DNA (huvin the same maw n da n that) the pair both got the chance to cut their teeth with a stint in Japan working for Zero One, who were affiliated with the Source Wrestling School the brothers came from. Mark recalls on his stint in the far east and how it shaped him as a performer today. When in doubt, be John Cena. Never give up.

“When I was there I lived with Jack Gallagher and Jon Gresham (now of ROH). He’s another I’d love to see in ICW. Bring him in and stick him in a Zero-G match. They’re missing a trick on that so badly. I’ve been pushing for that for ages. Him vs Kenny would be great. I got to spend a lot of time with him and he’s so smart. He tells you things you’d never have even thought of it. When I went over there, my main thing was to work on finishing a match better. When I think about it, my first couple of training sessions over there. I was the shits. When I went over I thought yeah, I’m cool, and then I quickly realised I don’t know anything. The first few days we were there we didn’t train, and I was dying to see what it was all about and then we finally did and I had no idea what was going on. Shinya Hashimoto’s son Daichi was working for Zero One at the time. We were doing some ring drill, and I didn’t have a clue what he was saying. For some reason he ran off the ropes and dropkicked me right in the knees, and I just fell like a tonne of bricks, and I’m thinking “what the hell’s happening here” . There was a few times I knew in my head what was going on, but realised its just something I’d need to put up with”

Putting it with it would mean taking a power of Germans. Something John Cena also has notable experience in himself. I’m not saying Mark Coffey is Scotland’s answer to John Cena or anything but well, he clearly is. Deal wae it.
“They held me behind in training twice. Once was to get Daichi to practice Germans on me. I took about 25 in a row. Another guy I’ve been trying to get over to the UK, Dylan. Guy from New Zealand, 6 foot 4, jacked to the gills, I can’t not see him in WWE in the future. He’s just built for it. He was really good to me. So he was like “let’s go back and get something to eat and train” and they stopped us and went “No, Coffey stays for ring training” and I seen Dylan looking back, he didn’t say anything but he had a look that said “I’m so sorry mate”. So yeah, I went back, took all these Germans, and my mentality was just keep getting up. Keep getting up. In the end it was him who gave up. They done it again a week later and I took like 30 spears. I ended up being sick but he was hitting me square in the belly. So I went out, was sick and got back in the ring before they said stop. I think that’s one of the big things you need to do over there. Keep getting up. Even if you did want to quit, you couldn’t say you wanted to quit. ”

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Another thing Mark and Joe have in common is their involvement in ITV’s revival of World Of Sport. A full run of shows were announced for May this year but have been “postponed” until further notice. Many believing that it’s dead in the water. Even if it never happens, over a million people were watching The Coffeys in a scudding war with the bold Rampage Brown and Ashton Smith and in the immortal words of DDP, that’s not a bad thing…it’s….A GOOD THING.

“I know a lot of the boys are kinda frustrated. Last year ended on such a positive and such a high note for a lot of people. We were thinking “this is actually a thing now, British Wrestling is becoming something where you can make a living and you don’t need to leave the country”  Then this year we’ve seen it fall quite drastically quite quickly. I think a lot of the boys are thinking “fuck, we were so close” but you’ve just got to keep doing it. We’ve got to accept the fact that this current crop of talent in the UK right now might not make a full-time living out of wrestling, but the next generation might if we keep doing what we’re doing. Because if i look back when I started there was no one. Big Damo taught me and he’s been wrestling 6 years, which is less than I’ve been wrestling now. I don’t feel like I could teach somebody now. There was no one for us to turn to. Apart from guys like Robbie Brookside, and even Drew Mcdonald stayed down South, so these guys weren’t readily available to turn to. In America you’d probably have one veteran in every car going to a show and 3 or 4 more backstage but with us we were more flying by the seat of our pants and teaching ourselves. Now I think if we’re 40 and we’re still doing this here, at least we’ll have accomplished something and young guys coming up will have someone with 20 years experience to turn to. ”

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Despite frustrations about how the World Of Sport endeavour has panned out, it seems to have been the breeding ground for the locker room unity that has grown since and even without the show itself, it still may turn out to be the driving force behind the continuing rise of British Wrestling, and the lessening need or desire for performers to give it up.

“I think people need to justify it less. When I started about a year in I done a show with literally 4 people there. I wrestled Lewis Girvan, he’d been at it maybe a year longer than me and its something I wouldn’t even want to look back at now to laugh at. I think it would genuinely make me sick. Back then you’d be worried sick wondering if anyones going to show up. Now you know at least there will be people there. Its nice to go into certain shows now knowing its sold out. I think guys that are 2 or 3 years in, wrestling guys who have been doing it the same length of time. In a building that has more people in the back than it does out front, you can understand thinking “whats the point?” but now that’s less likely because people who’ve been doing it that length of time can look around at people who have been doing it for a long time and think there’s value to keeping at it”

The World Of Sport(s) Entertainment

Moving too far away from what made the ‘pilot’ of the WoS a success seemed to be the problem for the show. Teaming up with Impact Wrestling and allowing the company to not only impose their will, but a lot of their talent on the roster. I was admittedly a wee bit feart to even ask Mark about it all. Overstepping is always something I try to avoid when doing these interviews, and make no mistake about it, World Of Sport was an opportunity that could have been life changing. A palpable annoyance almost paired with renewed motivation poured out of him as he explained further.

“We were told to hang tight and see what happens. They’re still trying to sort it all out. I just think they got in bed with the wrong burd. They’re a TV mcoffey13company, great at TV, but they didnt have anyone wrestling related in the office. Apart from when they got on board with Jeff Jarrett. When they phoned up to tell me it’s not happening yet, I didn’t lose my shit or anything, because I kinda knew it was coming, but I swore at them, and I’d been very professional to that point but I just thought “fuck it, its not happening, or you’re telling me now it might not happen, I’m just gonna tell you what I think” If you’re asking my opinion and you’ve not asked any of the boys their opinion; I’d say tell Impact Wrestling to fuck off. They’re bringing in guys I’ve never even heard of. What’s wrong with our guys?”

That palpable annoyance over it all gradually turns into a huge amount of pride over the show that did air on ITV on Hogmanay. A continuance of the comradery that burns bright in a locker room more united than ever in the face of adversity. If the show ever does end up happening, it should happen with the talent who were involved in the first place “The best thing about it was the roster that was there was so unselfish. There was a general atmosphere that didn’t say “We’ve got this thing, its ours, lets not let anyone touch it” everyone wanted to just do a good job, and the mentality was “if we do this well, it will be good for everyone” . I think they saw how big wrestling had got in this country and they weren’t prepared for dealing with the inner workings. How you deal with certain talents, etc.”

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“That was another thing we got a lot of support from the roster on and it was nice. You do start to wonder, why have we become these martyrs? Its gonna benefit everyone, and someone needs to do it so fuck it. ”                                                                                                                                                       – Mark Coffey on Polo Promotions departure from ICW in 2016

The postponement came around the same time as 5 star Wrestling cancelling their 170000 man, 45 year long tournament, where the winner is the last one to retire. The combination of the two breeding a lasting annoyance at the pitfalls that come with British Wrestling’s “revival”. Although kind words were reserved for WCPW who also had to cancel shows around that time for different reasons “That, along with this 5 star thing that went down. I was supposed to be on all these Friday dates, and I said to him “can we confirm this now?” and he never got back to me. I actually feel for WCPW because they’ve been tarred with that brush a bit when in reality they didnt book a bunch of shows and go “we aren’t doing these now” they were honest and came out with their reasons for cancelling. I thought that video they put up was great and explained it well. They almost dumbed it down, but in a good way, explaining this is how we get our money, and if we don’t get that money we can’t pay these guys so we can’t run these shows. But with all that happening, and a lot of shows being cancelled recently, in my 7 years of wrestling, id had 3 shows cancel on me until January this year, and since January I’ve had 20. At that stage you start to count the money you’ve lost and go “fuck”. So there’s a unity now. Theres a lot of unity in the ICW locker room, and a feeling of “let’s do this for the boys, lets stick together and make sure this is good for everyone”

The spate of cancellations came not too long after Polo Promotions ended a self-imposed exile at ICW. Sacrificing their own interests and taking a step back from the company for a variety of reasons. Relinquishing their tag titles only to scoop them up again upon their return in a ladder match with the team who ‘won’ the tag titles in their absence ‘The Local Fire’.

“Money wasn’t the issue. It was a load of different things and it was one of those things where a lot of the boys felt the same way so we just took the hit for it. I went in to the office to speak to them and it quickly turned into a shouting match, so I thought ‘fuck this, im not having it anymore’ It was becoming too much of a headache. I avoid wrestling from about 9 o’clock at night before you go to bed, because if you think about it gives you a headache. It was left on Dallas mcoffey12saying I still want to work with you in the future, so it was left open-ended. I’m all about putting the power in the boys hands, and you know, there’s a lot of people backstage now that aren’t wrestlers and there was this feeling that they’re more important than us. I don’t mean that in a bad way, they are important, but at the end of the day if the backstage interviewers, the graphics guys and all that show up but the wrestlers don’t, there’s no show. All these people bought tickets to watch nothing. If it’s the other way about, there’s still a show there. The show goes on. It was a feeling that we’re undervalued. That was another thing we got a lot of support from the roster on and it was nice. You do start to wonder, why have we become these martyrs? Its gonna benefit everyone, and someone needs to do it so fuck it. ”

Every End Has A Start

polos3Despite the setbacks its important to remember just how far the independent scene in wrestling has come, both locally and globally. Mark is no different to many wrestling fans in the sense that wrestling for much of his life was just WWE. Maybe Japan a bit, but mainly WWE. Nowadays WWE are featuring British Wrestlers prominently and cherry picking the ones they think can make a difference for them. A compliment to what’s going on in the Independent wrestling scene here and beyond. “I didn’t know Indy wrestling was a thing until about 2009. I knew there was things other than WWE out there but I never watched it. I’m not gonna claim I was a big fan of this, that and the other. Nah. I’d seen Japanese shows and stuff like that and thought “aye…that’s cool…there’s Prince Albert!” *laughs* I remember picking up a magazine at that time, it must have been FSM or something and seeing Brock Lesnar when he was working for New Japan. This was when he first had that sword tattoo and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing”

His introduction to life outside WWE via Brock Lesnar’s frankly terrifying chest tattoo quickly led to the Source Wrestling School. The very existence of which seemed surreal at the time. “Joe and Jackie found the SWA school and I couldn’t stop laughing about it. Not in a mean way at all, i just couldn’t believe that something like this existed to close to home. Even wanting to be a wrestler. People always say how they watched their heroes, and said how they wanted to do that. I would always watch them and go ‘Thats amazing, I’ll never be able to do that’ the thought of me doing that is outlandish. Then I went to an SWA show with Joe and Jackie one time and thought “Fuck….I can do that!” I think it was more the physique of people who made me think I couldn’t. Because I was always very heavy. I was a very fat child, and I played rugby since I was 5 so I didn’t need to look good. As long as I could go. For the position I played in rugby I was always the fittest. So it didn’t matter that i was carrying a bit of weight as long as I could run fast enough, but getting in to something where you need to take your top off? Seeing some of the guys, the physiques now have improved tenfold as to what they were, but looking back, even me at my worst, I looked at guys back then and realised I was in better shape than them. For my first couple of matches I changed my training, then I seen pictures back of me and I thought aw god, I look terrible. Then I dropped just as much weight as possible, but it does creep back on. I think going to Japan as well, they did say to me you’re mid way between a Junior and a Heavyweight, what do you want to be? and I was like “aw yeah, a heavyweight, naturally” and they said you need to put on 10kg. So I ate everything in sight. I ate everything in sight, but I trained like a loony, came back, I was still eating everything in sight but not training like a loony *laughs* ”

“We Are A Main Event Tag Team”

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“Everywhere we go we get such a spit atmosphere and its weird. I always crack the same joke to Jackie. The moment we’re in the ring at ICW or wherever and you’ve got one half chanting “Polo Promotions” and one chanting “get tae fuck” or whatever, I always turn round and say to him “It’s like being John Cena innit”. Like we’re the John Cena of tag team wrestling” –                                                     – Mark on the mixed reaction Polo Promotions get in ICW

With the prospect of having to split in ICW hanging over Polo Promotions there’s no doubt their desire to become a tag team who regularly main event shows up and down the country will continue even if it’s not in ICW.  There’s a passion in both men when they speak about it, and there seemed to be genuine appreciation for the support they had after their victory over Moustache Mountain at Target. The pair exited through the crowd, shaking hands with fans. In their element as the main event tag team they’ve long desired to be.

“If we had to split now it would be hard. Especially coming off the back of the singles match with Trent and it got such a great response. If we split now I wouldn’t get that same organic reaction. If we were to split now I’d be swimming against the tide to move up the card in singles. So it would be a lot of treading water. In my mind, its logical to put a tag team match on last. It happens in Japanese wrestling a lot as well. If a singles match goes on last you have to be so invested in the story to get into it, but with tag team wrestling there’s more to keep you engaged. More people involved and just more action. Looking at this right now. This venue is perfect (for the match) we’ve got seating, its tiered, and over there is the Jungle (Polos singing section) the all signing all dancing section which is just the faithful. You’ll hear a lot of noise from this section tonight”

He wasn’t wrong. They are Polo Promotions supporters. Faithful through and through. Over and over. They will follow you.

Huge thank you to Mark Coffey for his time. Also big thank you to the amazing work of David J.Wilson, Chelsea Cochrane, and whoever took that photo from the crowd at Target. It captured a wonderful moment so well done to ye. 

Follow Mark on Twitter HERE
Like Polo Promotions on Facebook HERE

 

Wolfgang – The WWE Superstar (Interview Part 2)

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CLICK HERE TO READ PART ONE. SERIOUSLY. DO IT. ITS GOOD

For a man who was “Never looking for the WWE” to put it in his own words, life must be a bit surreal for Wolfgang at the minute. He undoubtedly emerged from the WWE UK Championship Tournament with his profile higher than ever. Impressing with some eye catching performance, but there’s a feeling that of the people involved in the tournament, he is the one who’s work during the tournament itself done the most to make people at WWE sit up and take notice. A remarkable journey considering it’s one that started in the bath, but one that the big man seems to be taking in his stride going forward.

“There was 4 guys (Pete Dunne, Mark Andrews, Tyler Bate and Trent Seven) lined up to go over and do all this promotional stuff after the tournament and by Sunday night they’d changed it to five guys and I was on the list. I had done everything I needed to do to get on that list, because they had a pr conceived idea of who they wanted to use and I managed to change that over the course of the tournament. I’m very proud of that. They took us over to San Antonio for NXT takeover and that was amazing in itself. To stand on the apron and howl and have a fraction of the 15,000 crowd do it back to me and know what I was doing was surreal. I got to see New York as part of that as well, and got to go over to Times Square and get a hot dog which is something I’ve always wanted to do, so this whole journey allowed that. As much as the wrestling part is a dream come true, getting to do things like that and see the world is a dream come true as well.”

British Wrestling enjoying a revival is something directly influenced by Scottish Wrestling, with the level of talent being produced and a scarily high level from trainee level right up to seasoned pro’s. Gone are the days where fat guys in ill advised lycra are falling over each other in front of a handful of grannies and guys who sleep with replica wrestling belts under their pillow, so the fact that Wolfgang entered that tournament as the lone Scot (definitely some kinda lone wolf joke in there, but we’ll patch it the noo) was a source of pride and pressure.  “That in itself was a big thing for me and a huge weight on my shoulders. If you’re a Scottish Wrestling fan and particularly an ICW fan you’ll know about the wealth of talent that’s come from Scottish Wrestling”

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“At the press conference, we got to meet Triple H for the first time, and as much as it was William Regals brainchild it was very much a Triple H production. I knew most of the guys that were there like Trent Seven, Tyler Bate, Mark Andrews but some of the guys I didn’t really know and I was sitting there trying to gauge what level I was at in comparison to these other guys. Sitting in the lobby sort of thinking to myself I don’t know how far I’m going to go here”

Turns out he needn’t have worried, as he made it through a bruising encounter with T-Bone in the first round to progress to the Quarter Finals to renew a familiar rivalry with none other than fellow ICW mainstay Trent Seven. “The first round was against T-Bone. A guy I’ve always enjoyed working with over the years. I think it was meant to be two big guys knocking lumps out each other. That’s what they were looking for from the first round, so I had to match his power but also show off a bit of what I can do. I might be 18 stone, but I can fly about like I’m 12 stone, so I wanted to show them a bit of what I could do. I wanted to showcase everything I could do in this one match and fortunately enough I made it past T-Bone into the Quarter Finals. ”

A simple moonsault was a huge part of the reason Wolfgang caught the eye. The clip of him performing a move he’s likely done thousands of times got hundreds of thousands of hits across WWE’s social media accounts and had the wrestling community buzzing over the deceptively agile big man responsible for it. Big guys doing moonsaults isn’t a new thing but big guys doing springboard moonsaults from the second rope with the grace of a ballet dancer? That’s some groundbreaking shit right there. His performance in the first round gave his confidence a major boost going in to the majorly important encounter with tournament favourite Trent Seven. “Going up against Trent, him being the favourite and the guy I headlined Fear and Loathing at The Hydro with was a familiar feeling. He’s one of those guys I have lots of good chemistry with, so I was looking forward to going into that environment again. The support was very like an ICW crowd, there was a lot of Scottish folk that were on my side but a lot of ICW fans in general. To be in there with Trent it just felt like we were in The Garage. Beating Trent came as much of a surprise to me as it did to everyone else, as I say he was the favourite to win it and to make it past him into the Semis against Tyler Bate was huge. The guy who put me out was the guy who went on to become the first ever UK Champ, and I made it to the semi finals, so I’ll take that”

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His victory over Trent in the tournament extended an impressive winning record against him. A score that has since been evened, but despite his early success against the moustachioed one, he was a talent that had Wolfgang’s admiration from the very start.  “Trent Seven came out of nowhere in ICW. Its a name I’d heard in recent years before he came in, but I’d never worked with him. I was actually his first match in ICW, he was thrown in with me and Damo on a tour show and it went well. We had good chemistry right away. He went on to have some incredible matches with Whippy (Mikey Whiplash) and took off from there. I won the belt from Joe, cashing in the Square Go contract after he beat Damo, and Trent had a bit of a buzz due to some of the stuff he’d been doing with Moustache Mountain, stuff like going over the Chikara and getting a lot of exposure with Progress etc. Some of the exposure myself and ICW maybe weren’t getting, so it was great to be able to work with a guy with a buzz. To be able to go in there with some pretty good matches with him with good chemistry as well. It always helps when you’re in there with someone and you know its going to be good before you even have the match”

The most impressive of those victories however, undoubtedly came at the biggest wrestling show Scottish Wrestling has ever seen. 6,000 fans turning out for ICW’s big date with destiny at The Hydro. Wolfgang stoated out in front of his hometown crowd who all seemed to be pulling for a guy from Birmingham such was his popularity amongst the ICW faithful at the time, and stoated back out a bit beaten, bruised and battered but most importantly STILL the ICW World Heayweight Champion. A career highlight in a period where they seem to coming thick and fast for the big bad wolf. “Being the world champion going into the Hydro in front of 6,000 fans,the biggest British Wrestling show in 34 years or something like that. Thats just monumental *pauses* PRESSURE” *laughs*

Pressure that the big man is learning to thrive under, and considering it was his third cage match in ICW, it was pressure that had a degree of security about it. He knows what hes doing in there as much as any man can really know what they’re doing when chucking another man about inside a metal box.wolfcage
“Anybody who knows me knows I’m a very laid back guy, even through all this stuff with WWE, it’s not really phased me. It was a lot of pressure, but it was a situation I was comfortable in. I regularly go to ride my motorbike down at The Hydro with my Da. I got to go into the cage, which I’d already been in twice. Had in my opinion, the best cage match in ICW so far with BT Gunn. I definitely credit that as my favourite of the three. I thought id get better at them as they went, but I still think what me and BT done was the best one in ICW. It would have been nice to be the main event, and I don’t see why the World Title isn’t the main thing on the show, but we done what we could with our place (on the card) and to walk in champion and walk back out with the title was something nobody expected me to do. All the momentum was with him and I overcame that. Its a feeling I’ll always remember.”

Pride comes pelting out the big man when he talks about that night. One that clearly has had a profound effect on all involved. The Hydro isn’t even the ceiling. Until ICW are running Barramania at Hampden every year, there’s still work to be done. Nest stop, the moon. “Dallas is a guy who you always take what he says with a pinch of salt but 5-6 years ago, whenever the Hydro was built, he’s sitting telling us “We’re gonnae run that one day” and sure enough it happened and we’re doing it. Its wild. Absolutely fantastic the way wrestling is in Britain now. Its been good to be there through it all. From day one. If you think about it, a lot of what’s going on in British Wrestling today came from what happened in Scotland. There’s a lot of guys who would tell you if it wasn’t for ICW back then, they’d have given up doing this a long time ago. Even after the gold label era, there are times where you think to yourself is this really worthwhile?

You really need to love this job to keep doing it

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Over the course of a 15 year tenure as a top guy in Scotland and a known face in the UK, Wolfy has gone through his fair share of hardships, but the love and respect he has for his craft shines through when asked if the recent upturn in his own fortunes has validated his decision to constantly keep grafting at it through the hard times. Very much coming across as a man who’d be just as happy as he is now if ICW never got any further than tearing the roof off The Garage once every other month. “Wrestling comes first to a lot of people, and they’ll tell lassies they’re getting in a relationship with that wrestling comes first, and I’m better being honest about that from the start. It’s that kind of thing and missing stuff, things like missing birthday parties, missing funerals even. Things like that. I don’t’ think I ever needed the wwe to validate that for me. I’ve always done it because I enjoy it. It’s never been about money or fame even. If ICW was all I was ever going to get I’d be happy. You can make a full-time living from doing companies like ICW. It can be done. It’s not a very comfortable living, but if it’s a job you love doing you can fully immerse yourself in it and it can be very rewarding. Obviously it gets a lot more rewarding when the WWE phones you and tell you they want to work with you”

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With 15 years experience under his belt and a ringing endorsement from a former opponent in ICW, Finn Balor (Fergal Devitt in his ICW days, not that anyone reading this could possibly not know that, but ye never know eh) you could have forgiven Wolfgang for feeling like the graft was over and he knew it all but from day one it was back to the graft. “When I got to the performance centre and I was mixing with the NXT guys, as much as you’ve done to get there in the 15 years leading to that point, it all starts again. You’re back to day one, rolling in the ring like we go with the GPWA trainees. You train every day. You build the ring and take it back down. You do everything that’s required from a professional wrestler with a touring company. wolf17When you get to RAW, Smackdown level you don’t need to do all that, but with NXT they do smaller shows around the US and its more like you’re part of the team and you’re back into the grind again. I dont feel as if there’s any great reward or validation now because I don’t think I’ve really got anywhere yet. There’s so much further to go. This all happened to me fairly, I wouldn’t say easy? but this all sort of fell in my lap. I wasn’t looking for WWE. Didn’t go for a tryout. I basically got a phonecall one day saying “do you want to be in this tournament?”So if I can get this far and do this much without really fully trying, what can I do and how far can I go if I turn the switch and give it a proper go? Lets see what I can do here. I’ve joined a gym and stuff. If I just apply myself, now that I’m under the umbrella of the WWE god knows what we can do going forward”

That match with Devitt at ICW Hadouken back in 2012 was the night my own personal love for pro wrestling properly came roaring back, something I will always be personally thankful to them both for. The atmosphere in The Garage that night was something special and the novelty of being able to see one of the best wrestlers in the world at that time was offset with a conviction that the man being charged with taking him down had more than a fighting chance. The crowd was fully absorbed from the start in a match the man himself regarded as his biggest since his fame encounter with Marty Jannetty back in the day
“The highest profile match I’d had since Marty Jannetty in 2006. The match (with Devitt) was a fantastic match, it’s still up on Youtube now, you should go and watch it. More so because I was in there with Prince Devitt, who’s one of the best in the world. I mean he was the first WWE Universal Champion, and I hope to follow in his footsteps. His influence has definitely been a factor, more so when I’ve been over there, he’s been happy to point me towards the right people and give advice with entrances, taking your time with stuff etc. With all that, the wrestling part is easy, but there’s so much more to consider, so its good to have guys like Devitt, Damo, Noam, Nikki Storm and now Drew over there to keep me right”

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It’s a credit to the level of talent over here that a growing fraternity of ex ICW/British Wrestling aficionado exists as almost a ready-made support system, but when you start running the same buildings as WWE, they’re going to have to have a proper look at what you’re doing. A credit to the work being done, and with the level of talent being produced at almost a grass-roots level even better than ever its hard to see a downside to it all. ICW now seem to enjoy a working relationship with WWE that could see the product go to another level and its a relationship that has proved beneficial to the company already. With former ICW alumni Noam Dar set to appear at Shug’s House Party 4 in July. A full-time WWE employee being allowed a one night only return ‘home’ is a situation that would have seemed unfathomable mere months ago.

“My favourite thing is that I still get to come and coach at the school. I still get to ICW, PBW, BCW and all these companies who gave me my start. Companies I want to keep having a working relationship with. If the WWE want to come here and start a show I think thats only going be a good thing for business everywhere. All these people watching are going to see guys like Noam, Damo and me, knowing they came from companies like ICW, SWA, PBW etc. It’s only going to make these companies better. The problem has always been that there’s never been a path for getting to the WWE

Ye cannae go down the job centre and go ‘I want to work for Vince McMahon’ but now there is. Now you can come to the GPWA, knowing one of their coaches is working with WWE and that becomes an avenue to get there. Its something that 10 years ago or 15 years ago when I started you couldn’t have thought of. I think finally now we’re getting British Wrestling where it needs to be on an independent level and its only going to grow.

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There’s absolutely no sense that Wolfgang is anywhere close to being done with matters closer to home either. The beauty of his affiliation with WWE is that there is room to still be Wolfgang. A legacy he will have felt was only just beginning when he finally captured the ICW Title after years of near misses. A second reign with the big shiny isn’t quite at the forefront of his thoughts quite yet, but Pete Dunne’s been cutting about with some serious hardware since adding the WWE UK Championship to the Progress Title, and that’s a look you can’t help but be impressed by. Even if you choose safer means of transporting that hardware than carrying it about in yer gub. “When I dropped the belt I didn’t feel as if I immediately wanted to go back after it. When I had the belt it felt like I held on to it for as long as I could. I would say there’s only ever been three ICW World Heavyweight Champions. Three who have taken it and showcased it all over the world. Drew who’s just been signed and made it a world title, Damo who took it and defended it in the old ECW arena in Philadelphia I believe and me. I don’t think I need that title back. I think I can still call myself a world champion. I think as much as the title helped me, I helped the title just as much”

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Another reason we hopefully won’t be seeing the back of him on a permanent bases for a while yet is that he now has a vested interest in the Scottish scene going forward. The GPWA are now producing talents that are being seen up and down the country. A fact that he speaks on with a huge amount of pride when talking about the immediate future for him in ICW. There’s a hunger to see people like The Purge, Aaron Echo, Ravie Davie and other “up and comers” get their opportunity to replace those who have moved on to pastures new. For all the fear that WWE are just coming here to cherry pick talent and leave the scene bare, that’s simply not a possibility with the level of talent coming through now.
“Now? What I would like to see happen is fresh faces come in. Bringing fresh faces in and letting them work with guys who are experienced. I’d like to see The Purge get more opportunities. They’re the kind of team you could throw in with NAK, Fight Club, and you’ll get a different match every time because they can adapt. There’s a lot of guys from GPWA I’d like to see involved but even besides that guys from down south like Mark Andrews. I’d love to see him in ICW again, and to be able to have a match with him in that environment would be something great. If you take Wolfgang out of ICW you’ll get a version of him, but if you put Wolfgang in ICW, thats where he’s at his most comfortable. Even if it’s not necessarily in Glasgow, even on tour if you have that ICW banner on it, it gives it that bit of extra emotion.”

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“I’m also mates with Red Lightning, so if he needs something sorted out, I might be called upon to do that. Red Lightnings a mouthpiece, and I’ve always been his big mate that he shouts on when his mouth gets him into bother”

“What i would personally like to do is just do my thing, and if I’m involved in a tied down feud or if I’m just the guy who needs to come in and sort shit out (I suppose you could refer to that sort of person as a regulator) that’s what I want to do. I’m mates with everybody so there are possibilities everywhere.  I’m also mates with Red Lightning who’s just came back into the mix again, so if he needs something sorted out, I might be called upon to do that. Red Lightnings a mouthpiece, and I’ve always been his big mate that he shouts on when his mouth gets him into bother. I’m kinda in limbo the now, where I’ve been the world champ, no desire to get it back, there’s other people who have been out of the title picture for a while that id like to see get back into it. Obviously BT Gunn being one of them. Stevie Boy is another who just needs somebody to go ‘he is a world champion’ and as soon as that happens everyone else will follow suit because he’s got the talent. I’m enjoying being involved with ICW and the production values we’re seeing now. The thing I like about it is that when ICW started you could do what you wanted. You had creative freedom, and it was a bit gritty and even now the production values are up it’s still like that. There’s still freedom there to do whatever it is you want to do.”

A fact that was never more prevalent than during the most recent ICW show when Wolfgang wrestled Liam Thomson with a kitchen sink and a fuckin’ washing machine up for grabs. A match that is legitimately one of the best I’ve seen all year, which is astounding considering there was a real life washing machine slap bang in the middle of it. Matches have no right to be good after a washing machine is in the mix. No right at all, but being in there with another one of Scotland’s hidden gems, and a guy who has been outstanding in all aspects recently, Liam Thomson, made Good Housekeeping seem easy. Messy, but easy.

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“Liams a guy who again, just needs someone to put that spotlight on him to show everyone how good he is. Liam Thomsons’s never had a bad match, anytime I’m in there with him it’s always something good. He’s one of my top 5 guys to work with, if not top 3. Because again, that chemistry is, here. After the Square Go (when Wolfgang stole Liam Thomson’s sink along with his place in the Square Go itself) we’re thinking where can we go with this sink thing? He does that promo with Saynt at the Asylum, where he stops in the middle and goes “is that ma sink?” and they wee videos have made people relate to him and people genuinely want to see him get his sink back. The sink could be the world title for all they cared. So I started thinking what we could do with a Good Housekeeping match.

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“After the one on Sunday there, hopefully theres a sequel happening. I’ve took his sink, then his washing machine, although its a bit banged up now. I’m sure hes got a mortgage he can offer me if he wants this sink so badly”ousekeeping match and especially when its me and Liam in there, it was gonnae be gold. Not just for comedy reasons, but i kinda pride myself on using these gimmick matches to their full potential and trying to get as much out of it as you can.”

“After the one on Sunday there, hopefully theres a sequel happening. I’ve took his sink, then his washing machine, although its a bit banged up now. I’m sure hes got a mortgage he can offer me if he wants this sink so badly”

The GPWA is something all 5 men involved in it have always harboured the desire to do, but it was an opportunity presented by ICW owner Mark Dallas, who was looking for a unit big enough to store two wrestling rings, that saw the creation of the Glasgow Pro Wrestling Asylum. An endeavour that has unquestionable gone hand in hand with Wolfgang’s recent personal success.

“Dallas said he was looking for space to rent for the wrestling ring. I told him if you get somewhere big enough I could run a wrestling school. He’d offered it to other people and they said no based on the money not adding up. This has never been about the money for me, and I was humming and hawwing about wrestling at the time and was looking to dedicate myself to it fully. What better way to do it than by running a wrestling school. I phoned up Lionheart, Jester, Red and BT Gunn and we decided that between us we could run a very good wrestling school. Other schools out there can sometimes rely on guys that probably aren’t qualified to be teaching anyone. Guys who’ve went to a school somewhere and maybe come back to a sort of secluded area and opened a school based on that. With us we had a lot of the bases covered. I’m an all-rounder. Red Lightning and Jack Jester are two of the best characters around. Lionheart. Jester’s persona is something you can’t teach, the way he carries himself and portrays his character but it helps if he’s around as an example. Red is second to none on the mic and in front of the camera. He’s just so natural no matter what role hes playing and can get emotion out of anyone. Lionheart has wrestled for the ROH Title, been seen in WWE and TNA. He was doing that sort of thing long before any of us, and BT Gunn is quietly the best wrestler in the UK. My favourite wrestler to watch, and hes my mate, so I wanted him by my side on this journey.”

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Withe lineup of coaches set, they put their heads together and came up with something a bit different. A new way of teaching folk how to throw each other about safely. A key factor in deciding if a trainee could go forward and do a job that constantly carries huge risks. “We came up with the 8 week induction. We wanted to do something new, fresh and exciting. Wrestling training used to be you’d show up, pay your tenner a week and in bad cases it could be someone very unqualified and trainees might think they’re more accomplished than they actually are. We came up with this concept where we invite people as a group, and they start from the same level. We tell them we’re going to teach you the basics, and then asess you to determine if you can do this in a way that looks after your own safety and the safety of everyone else. We’ve had MMA guys come down and try it, Billy Kirkwood even done it, its a great thing for everyone who wants to do it for them to come out and see just how hard it is. We put it out on social media to drum up interest, and one of the selling points was the size of ring we had to offer. The bigger ring is an 18 footer. The facility we had too, we’ve moved into a bigger unit now but the one we had then was perfect. Molly Spartan, Andy Downs (Austin Osiris) CS Rose, Jamie Fawkes, Danny Cantrell, Sam Barbour were all part of that first batch. The first,second and third intakes all sort of meshed together. As much as it was fresh to them, it was fresh to us to. We’d done seminars but to be put in this position where you’re responsible for peoples education going from knowing nothing to going as far as even WWE level was something else. It was always something my dad encouraged as well, and something I’d wanted to do. Although I dunno if that’s because the wrestling didn’t look like it was going anywhere” *laughs*

Maybe they’ll take ye as a trainer one day eh son! While the WWE have taken notice of Wolfgang the wrestler, being a full-time trainer is something that seems to appeal to him at some point down the road. The GPWA proving to be the start of a new love affair with an old mistress and bringing a new enjoyment to this wrestling caper for the big man. “As soon as we started teaching it i just fell in love with it. I got to be in a wrestling ring a lot more often as well which has helped me, but the coaching side and teaching people is something I’ve really enjoyed doing. Spending time with folk and seeing them develop from day one to the point we’re at now where guys are getting work all over the country. Is a testament to us as coaches that these guys are getting seen and its proof that people coming from GPWA wont be shite. We’re only putting out the best of the best. You can only teach them so much before you go right, go in front of that crowd and wrestle that guy. As much as you can teach them in the school, there’s no better way to learn how to work a match than actually getting out there and doing it”

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That has proved to be absolutely true as the improvement in the GPWA trainees since they began running the “Night At The Asylum” shows has been noticeable. Gaining experience from wrestling seasoned pro’s and more recently trainees from other schools as well. The GPWA Invitational  showcased talent from not only GPWA, but Source and the PBW Academy. A kind of competitive unity that can only serve wrestling well on these shores in the future as the next generation get early experience of working with each other. “The shows were always just going to be pals and family and a few local fans who knew the scene. They’ve become their own entity now and have charterers and storylines on their own. I think Red Lightning really thrives in that situation. He kinda takes charge when it comes to the running of the show. He’s always trying to take over ICW so as long as he gets to write some kind of show he’s happy. It was always going to be lets put the trainees up against the coaches and other experienced folk, but now we’re trusting them to go up against each other and even guys from other schools. That (The GPWA Invitational) was Reds idea as well; To run a 16 man tournament and include other spirits. I think for the Scottish Wrestling scene it was fantastic. there’s so much available now, if I was fan I’d probably beat as many shows as I am as a performer.”

A performer who might just be becoming accustomed to seeing all his dreams come true. As soon as tomorrow night the big bad Wolf will lineup on the NXT Aberdeen show. A sign that his relationship with WWE is showing no signs of coming to an end anytime soon.

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T-Bone swooping in for the seldom seen but always dangerous heiderhandshake.

“The tour starts in Aberdeen, and goes all over the UK, finishing up at the Download festival. I’m really excited about being a part of the NXT team, and getting to train with the likes of Tommy End and Damo again, as well as all the other guys. From the experienced guys all the way down to the ones starting out, it’s very much a team and me, Mark Andrews, Pete Dunne and Trent Seven and every much looking forward to joining the that team and bringing the UK element to it. The more we do on these shows, the more impact we have, will do well in the long-term when they do promote some kind of UK brand. These might be smaller shows but you can guarantee but that the 4 UK guys are going out there to show why there is a UK Championship, why they’re doing these tours over here, and why a company underneath the WWE banner but a brand that exists as its own entity can come over here and create their own tour. That’s something special it itself. Not only can WWE tour over here, NXT can too, and I just want to make sure they notice the UK guys especially”

Get along to Aberdeen tomorrow night, or any of the other dates on the NXT tour and see another chapter written into a journey that may or may not have started in the bath with William Regal.

Used all sorts of images. Thank you to David J.Wilson as always for his stunning work. Warrior Fight Photography anaw. WWE even! and anyone else who’s images I’ve used. If I’ve used something you own and haven’t credited please give me a shout. 

Big thank you to the man himself for taking the time to talk to me. Follow all his social media type things here

Twitter – @WolfgangYoung
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