ICW Shug’s House Party Night 2 Review

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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 – Built Fae Girders (Interview Part One)

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As hard it might be to imagine anything other than the imposing, deceptively floaty big unit of a man who we now know as “Wolfgang”, the big bad Wolf was once a young pup. A young pup who spent his youngest days growing up on an estate called “Haghill” in the East End of Glasgow. A place my missus also happens to hail from, and has described as “rough as fuck” in the past. Rough it may be, but it was the place that Barry Young’s love affair with Pro Wrestling had its beginnings. “It started when I was about 6 or 7 growing up in Haghill” he explained. A place notorious for its “young team” and a breeding ground for many a childhood scrap. Something Wolfgang himself never took a great amount of interest in. “Like the majority of wrestling fans, it was the first thing I remember seeing was wrestling, I couldn’t tell you who it was specifically but I imagine it was Hulk Hogan as he was my hero. I had wee cousins and mates from Haghill and we’d play wrestling. We used to play wrestling on this gable end and it was just concrete. So even from that age I would mimic what I’d see on the tele and by this point I didnt really know modern day wrestling. I only knew Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and all that.”

Indeed he grew up in an era familiar to many of us, where WWE only existed on SKY and the only people who had SKY were confirmed or suspected drug dealers. How else would such a lavish lifestyle be possible? It was an era where a wrestling fan was only as good as his tapes. An era where Silver Vision provided an education better than any subject at school could. For me it was Summerslam 90 and WWE Year In Review 1993. For Wolfgang it was…  “One was Royal Rumble 91 where Hulk Hogan came out and just smashed everybody and won it. I’d watch that over and over. The other one was mega matches, where you’d get to see a bit of macho man and stuff. I would watch them religiously and anywhere I went where I wanted to watch wrestling I’d take them with me. So its been a love affair as far back as I can remember. ”

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A love affair that often led to a young Wolfgang demolishing his maws furniture. Maws will tolerate a lot of things from their boays, but there’s a limit to the amount of beds you’re allowed to break doing tombstone piledrivers before you end up sleeping on the deck. “You’ve no idea how many beds I’ve broke powerbombing my cousins through them. Showing them what wrestling is by actually doing it to them. The amount of times I’ve powerbombed my cousins when they didn’t want to be powerbombed *laughs*. I was actually watching tapes of what we used to do out my back garden the other day ”

It was these early years on the mean streets of Haghill that saw the start of a trend for the big man when he moved to Carntyne, a place that housed the the Haghill Young Team’s most storied rivals “When I was 10 I moved to Carntyne and that’s who Haghill used to fight. It would be he Haghill Powery against the Carntryne Goucho. I turned again like I’ve often done in my career with the various labels. Whatever one’s the most popular I go with that. ”  It wasn’t until his first encounter with BT Gunn that Wolfgang started to consider wrestling an interest that went beyond bursting his maws furniture. Although the genesis of the “Extreme Wrestling Federation” would still require a wee bit of furniture to get the ball rolling.

“My first day at secondary school I met BT Gunn. I heard him talking to someone about the Ken Shamrock/Foley/Rock cage match they had, so I just kinda drifted towards him, and I got close enough to go “are you two talking about wrestling”. Tam was kinda just above me on the social scale, because he was into fitbaw and I’m sure a wee bit of street fighting when he was staying up in Riddrie. When I moved to Carntyne this was the first time I’d had a big back garden. He eventually came down and we’d put on these wee shows together. We changed the name so many times but I think the one we eventually stuck with was the Extreme Wrestling Federation, and there was nothing extreme about this. We had my ma’s cushions put on to a bit of astro turf my Da brought home. We had poles dug into the ground with washing lines tied round. So you couldn’t run them, couldn’t climb them, they were really just there for show. So I’ve loved it ever since the “dont try this at home” era” and now he’s on the show’s that have the “Don’t Try This At Home” warning before they air. Anything is possible kids. Although if you’re a kid reading this, ignore the profanity please. Stay in school. Don’t do drugs.

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Wolfgang after being powerbombed through his Ma’s dining table for saying the gravy she made with his roast dinner was “thick enough to grout tiles”. Circa 1996.

Following the move to Carntyne, Wolfgang had his first exposure to new era WWE. Gone were the Hulk Hogans and Macho Mans, and in their place we had tits, unfiltered violence, blood, more tits, more blood, Savio Vega and a baldy guy who tanned cans in the ring. Paradise for any young man reaching a certain level of ‘maturity’. “When I turned on Sky the first thing I seen was Ken Shamrock belly to belly suplexing the entire Nation of Domination on RAW, and I was blown away by it. All the people I knew were all gone, or they’d become commentators or whatever. I fell in love with it all over again at that point. I loved this new, fresh style they were doing and I was just hitting puberty at the time so it was perfect”

Boasting years of experience with the EWF, Wolfgang was itching to finally join a proper wrestling school and turn this wrestling caper from fantasy to reality. Unfortunately he was looking for a career path that literally didn’t exist in those days. Almost as if you needed to know a secret handshake or a password to gain access to the boss level, then if you beat the boss you MIGHT be able to get some wrestling training. If you’re lucky.
“After wrestling out my mums back for so long, my dad came home with a newspaper article saying Jake The Snake was coming to a wrestling school in East Kilbride. I’d tried various ways to get into wrestling, including amatuer wrestling, and couldn’t get in. Couldn’t find a school and low and behold, WWE hall of famer Jake The Snake was coming to a wrestling school about 20 mile from my house. So I jumped on it right away.”

This would prove to be a vital time both personally and career wise for Wolfgang. In an era where wrestling and particular wrestling training wasn’t anywhere near the standard it is now, a bit of handy advice from a beleaguered veteran and meeting a merry band of brothers who would end up sticking with him throughout the years are undoubtedly big reasons why young Barry not only stuck with the wrestling, but a big part of the reason slightly aulder Barry is enjoying the most successful period of his career 15 years on.
“Jake wasn’t there the first day, but Red Lightning, Drew Galloway, Mark Dallas and Kid Fite were all there. I’d took a couple of pals with me, because it was always like I wanted to do it but I needed a pal there. It turned out one week one pal wouldnt go, and the other week the other wouldn’t, so I was the only one who really stuck it and the more I went the more I got to know Red Lightning, Galloway, Dallas etc and became close pals with them. When I started training our coaches always used to talk about how bad they had it, and now I’ve started coaching I’m trying no to be that guy, but it rings true sometimes just how hard we did have it.”

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His first “match” was another eye opening experience for Wolfgang, and one he must consider an important one to reflect on when its all said and done and all anyone remembers is the glory days of ICW running places like the SECC and Hydro. It wasn’t always glory. It wasn’t always stoating out in front of 6,000 with aw sorts of pyro flying in and around your eyes. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of fighting against the bad and promoting the good before the balance started to shift and British Wrestling began its revival.
“I was just watching my first participation in a show not long ago, and it was me, a couple of other trainees, and the pro’s at the time, who lets face it, weren’t really in the best shape, they weren’t doing wonders for pro wrestling. I mean the attendance was dire, looking back I don’t remember it being that bad. I remember it being bad, but no THAT bad. I imagine its because its the first times I’d been in fronwolf11t of an audience like that. So you think of it being bigger, like “there was 500 of them there, they were aw going wild!” when really there was like 3 people in the crowd. ”

The standard of training at that time mostly existed as a “How not to train people to wrestle” guide for future reference and it was less the influence of the trainers and more the influence of his peers that helped Wolfgang become the polished, knuckle duster slinging bad mamma jamma we see today “When I started out it was on judo mats and we would just get powerbombed and stuff like it. It was more like we were getting bullied by the people training us but we were more learning from each other along the way. We were sort of this clan of people who watched wrestling, then mimicked it and got to experience it. When I first started the standard was bad aye, and it took a long time to sort of wean the bad stuff out. My first match I wore all white and sorts Sting type makeup. It was ridiculous. So I started off doing tag stuff and that was how I started going down south a lot. Down to Newcastle with a company called WZW. I was only about 16-17 then and I became and inter-promotional Champion” *laughs*

Whilst its since gone on to become synonymous with wolves, the name “Wolfgang” originally had nothing to do with wolves at all. It was instead derived from watching The Munsters.
“Wolfgang was meant to be this dark and mysterious character and it was never anything to do with Wolves. It was just the name. I wanted to be a kinda Sting character, with the face paint etc. When I wrestled oot ma back garden, my wrestling name was Damage. When I started training I told them my wrestling name was “Damage” . I dunno why, I always liked these one word names. Like Sting, Kane, etc. When I was in school I was watching The Munsters and Eddie Munster turned into a werewolf. He was called Eddie “Wolfgang” Munster, and it sorta came from there. I liked the werewolf aspect of it because people have always said I’m a different person when I get in the ring. Wrestling helped bring me out my shell in a lot of ways. Anybody who knows me will know that back then I was very quiet. I was just this wee, quiet, polite guy. My Ma had taught me my manners and to say please and thank you but when I got into a wrestling ring my character came out and my personality just flourished. So the link with werewolves is more that there’s two sides to me. The wee quiet guy and the werewolf that’ll tear you apart.”

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His first wrestling road trip at the tender age of 15 turned out to be a life affirming event for young Wolfgang, as he finally got to meet the man who’s potential presence at a local wrestling school got him started. Whilst the hero in question, Jake The Snake Roberts, wasn’t doing very well at that time, the interaction with him is still held up as one of the key reasons for Wolfy’s success a story that came full circle when the two spoke again at Wrestlemania. An opportunity that only came up because of how much good Wolfgang done over the course of the UK Championship tournament that put him in that position in the first place. “The first time I got to step in a wrestling ring was down in Melksham for a compny called 3CW. We got on this mini bus, first time away from home, me Lightning, Drew etc. We were going down to work for a promotion run by the mate of the guy who was training us. It was my first time being away from my Ma n Da when I was about 15-16. I never ended up getting on the show, but that was the first time I actually met Jake. It was at the time he wasn’t really doing very well, but I always credit him for helping me out. I got to speak to him for 5 minutes back stage and it just blew my 15 year old mind. This icon was sitting in front of me speaking and its the exact same as watching one of his promos. You were just hooked on every word he was saying”

Jake’s own personal turnaround when he previously seemed at death’s door is proof enough in itself that anything is possible with a bit of hard work and elbow grease. Getting to speak to him again would have felt like an impossibility at one stage in both their respective journeys, yet the stars aligned for a reconciliation behind the scenes of the grandest stage of them all. The stage Jake once graced and the stage Wolfgang is shooting for. The be all and end all for anyone who’s ever laced up a pair of boots, or in John Cena’s case, double knotted a pair of gutties.
“I recently got to thank him for what he said to me at Mania this year. 15 years later. To be able to see him in those circumstances, where I’m on the other side of the guardrail was amazing. When I seen him I got goosebumps, because I always wanted to meet him again to kinda thank him for whatever he did do for me. And I got a chat with him, he said one of the nicest things he could have said to me. That he was very proud of what I’d done. He could just have been saying that to get me away from him, but it was nice to have that. A bit of a full circle thing for me. ”

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Whilst that was one chapter in Wolfgang’s career that finally had its conclusion, another that might never see its end game is the story he is constantly crafting with BT Gunn. A rivalry that goes all the way from the Extreme Wrestling Federation in the backyards of Carntyne, to steel cage and dog collar matches in ICW. Its a rivalry Wolfgang clearly holds dear and a story that will seemingly forever be open ended. A story where a final chapter will only be written when one of the men draws their last breath.
“A match that gets overlooked is one in 2012 when BT was champ and it was one of the best matches we’ve ever done. I think it was overshadowed a bit because it was the night Iceman retired, but people really believed I could take it. No matter how many times a match has been done in the past, you can still get fans invested in it and we always tried to make the match something new and different from the last one. We did that with matches like the cage, dog collar, last man standing matches. Dog collar is one of my favourites because it was a really good match. Something substantial came from that stipulation, and I was really happy with that piece of work. The use of the dog collar was good as well. Whether we’re against each other or on the same side, its always something I throw myself into because I care about and I always want the story of me and BT Gunn work. BT Gunn is just incredible though. Quietly the best wrestler in the UK and my favourite wrestler to watch”

It seemed a far fetched notion in late 2014-early 2015 that BT Gunn and Wolfgang would ever end up on the same side, but this is wrestling. Things can do a full 360 in an instant and see you fighting wars alongside long time sworn enemies like its fuck all. Whilst the prospect of getting to team up with a guy who you know for a fact is really good at wrestling due to him doing wrestling stuff in thwolf10doge direction of your face for years beforehand must have been an attractive one, the idea of going a full calendar month without catching a team handed doing from the NAK certainly appealed to Wolfgang as well. “I was getting fed up of the NAK crushing my skull. The conclusion came at Barramania 2, when Divers was feuding with Renfrew and everyone thought I was coming down to save Divers. The reaction for turning the W into an N was the easiest nights work I’ve ever had. Easily the biggest reaction I’ve got for doing so little. Some people seen it coming, a lot of people wanted it to happen but the buzz after ending the feud with BT and joining the NAK is one I’ll never forget. Getting to team with BT after years of knocking seven shades of shite out each other, and getting to work with Renfrew who’s someone I always looked up to in terms of promo skills and addressing the camera. Being that close to him I got that knowledge, it still took me a long time but I’m starting to get there now.”nak

His alliance with the NAK was a shot in the arm for Wolfgang in ICW and returned him to the role of villain for the first time since The Gold Label’s tenure in ICW. Whilst he admits his more natural role in wrestling is as a crowd favourite, being able to do both is essential in an era where more different companies than ever might be looking to use a wrestler for different roles. “I’ve always been more comfortable as a babyface. When ICW started it would be me feuding with the likes of Red Lightning, but that all changed when The Gold Label started. It was basically me, Lionheart, and Red. We were 3 best mates, and we were the best of a bad bunch, and to put three of the better guys together was something that hadn’t really been done and something I was really excited about doing. Then James joined. I was kinda the big bad bruiser of the group, I had a lot of fun doing that stuff. One of the best times up until that point. That all kind of fizzled out and I would turn face from that point, no really feuding with anyone in particular I was just sort of the good guy on the show that would turn up and knock fuck out of someone. I got to be myself more from that point and show my personality like the Wolfgangnam style video and the Finding Wolfgang skits *laughs* . Thinking about it that’s embarrassing looking back on them now, I’ll need to get them taken aff *laughs*.

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The bad news for the big man there is that the internet is forever. The good news is, at least its just a couple of funny videos and nothing involving anyone’s nipples. While the goofier side of Wolfgang was allowed to run wild back then, in the NAK it was all business and Wolfgang looks back on the feud the group had with Legion as a particular highlight.
“Three of the best in Europe vs three best mates. Stevie and Kay Lee were obviously part of that when they joined as well. Some of the matches we had were incredible. Edinburgh 3 on 3 with Stevie, me and BT was a brilliant match. Went all over the venue. Then the cage match at the SECC to end it. Cage matches are difficult on a show like that where you’re not going to get a huge amount of time, but the big thing I done in that match was again coming off the top of the cage. That seems to be my favourite thing about it. Climbing up it and jumping aff it. ”

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The battle in the cage, which Wolfgang admits he’d have liked more time in after being eliminated early, brought the fued and seemingly the NAK to its natural end. As red hot and engaging as they were at the time, they were too driven individually to stay as a unit for the long whole. For the group of real life pals, it was very much time to divide and conquer and after a wild night in The Garage when they split and ended up wrestling each other in a wild Fatal Four Way for Renfrew’s newly acquired ICW Title, the turbo charged all star NAK was no more. “That brought the feud with Legion to an end and at that time we sort of lacked direction as a group. Being in the NAK was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in wrestling ,because it was me and my genuine pals. At Halloween in 2015 we all came out as Batman villains and I’ll never forget that. Its one of they things that makes me love wrestling, and one I’ll look back on in 20 years time, as you don’t really get the chance to take it all in when its happening. After the Legion feud was over everybody wanted to do their own thing, and from my point of view I was a sick of being part of a group. I’d been in the Gold Label, The NAK, even The Black Label although I felt I was never really fully “in” The Black Label. That was Drew, Jester and Andy (Red Lightning), and I was just their big mate.”

“I’ve always said Wolfgang isnae a bad guy, he just keeps bad company”

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There’s not likely top be many people that can pinpoint being in the bath as one of the key moments in their wrestling career but after years of graft, going up and down the UK taking (seldom) and dishing out (often) doings with little or no prospect of it going any further had began to bear fruit a few years earlier with rise of ICW and British Wrestling as a result, but the sweetest most ripest of wrestling fruit came to him pretty much as soon as his baws hit the water on one fateful evening when wrestling royalty phoned. “It all started for me in the lead up to The Hydro. We were on tour with ICW, in Manchester I think. I was against Noam, and at this time Regal was doing the rounds and scouting for it. I met him there and didnt really speak to him, but I was on with a guy Regal knew. I knew I’d be the guy with the ICW belt, and if Regal was sitting watching with Dallas he would be explaining how he’s going to be the guy with the title.”

Its a nice thing that the match responsible for WWE sitting up and taking notice of Wolfgang is the same one that made me sit up and take notice of him in 2012. The first match I seen in Scottish Wrestling happened to be Noam Dar vs Wolfgang. A cocky young Dar cutting a promo telling me and aw my pals we were aw smelly virgins (not true at all btw…I don’t smell…) before Wolfgang came out and gave him a doing. A routine that would repeat on the night it all changed.

“I had to show up that night. Noam kept me right though. I thought I’d have to go out and keep up with Noam, but that was never the case. I think the reason I got noticed in the first place is that I look like I can beat people up. That was what Noam was saying, they’re no looking for all the bells and whistles, if they look at you and think ‘I reckon this guy could batter this person’ then that’s what they’re after. So poor Noam, I just spent the whole match beating him up.”wolf8

Regal making a swift exit meant Wolfgang pretty much considered that to be that, but nothing’s a foregone conclusion when mobile phone technology means being in the bath isn’t a barrier between you and achieving your wildest dreams, so really there’s nae excuse for huvin BO at all. Don’t tell me you smell like a foot cause you’re waiting on NASA to phone and offer ye that job driving the spaceship mate. Nae excuses. Wolfgang got to the WWE via the bath, so really anyone can do anything they want and still be clean.

“I didnt really get the chance to speak to him after, but Noam passed me his email address so I sent him an email asking for feedback on the match. He sent me oneback explaining the next tryout was full but he’d give me a shout down the line. Fast forward about a month to The Hydro show and he emails asking for my number and within about a millisecond I sent it. I waited by the phone like “where urr ye Regal” and I waited and waited on him before I eventually decided he must just be looking for my number for future reference. So I jumped up the stairs for a bath after a few hours, forgetting the time difference and hes phoned me just as I’ve got in the bath. So there I am submersed in water , talking to William Regal. I thought to myself I better get out of here eh, so I’m out, walking about the house in a towel with William Regal on the phone telling me there’s gonnae be this 16 man tournament to crown the first ever WWE UK Champion, and you’re gonnae be the only Scottish guy in it. ”

Nae pressure there then eh?

A fine note to leave it on. Bath related shenanigans. Part Two will be up tomorrow at around 6pm. Tell yer pals. Share this piece of loveliness. Do it. 

READ PART TWO HERE

Credit to David J.Wilson, Warrior Fight Photography and anyone else’s images I might have used for the fine work. All talented humans

GPWA Asylum Invitational Review

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Its two weeks since it happened so admittedly some of the details might be a bit sketchy but it was important to get this reviewed simply because of how important the tournament itself was. 16 up and coming talents from the three top wrestling schools in the west of Scotland. It was for my money anyway, something any wrestling fan in this country should have an interest in. Having a glimpse into the future of the product you enjoy now. Getting to know talented folk before they end up breaking yer heart abandoning ye for the WWE like Noam did. Whilst I’m gonnae talk about all 16 matches in some sort of detail one thing I took away from the whole event is that an event full of “trainees” never yielded one bad match. These folk from different school who had never really worked with each other besides a few exceptions somehow managed to gel and put in top performances in every match. A remarkable feat.

Night One

Ravie Davie vs Matt Daly

Intriguing from start to finish. Daly dominated the middle of the match with some methodical, sare looking offence before Davie took over with his usual brand of enthusiastic jaw scudding. I find it impossible to fathom whit kinda evil must exist in your soul to come anything close to disliking Ravie Davie but each to their own I suppose. My only problem is no being able to catch whit hes saying when he does his pre-match rap and that upsets me cause I want tae rap along with him. Enjoyed the match. Davie progressed with a big bastardin heider to knock MAAAAAATT DAAAAALY out. Davie took to the mic afterwards and let us know he was winning the whole fuckin thing. Bold statement from a bold man.

Krieger vs Danny Cantrell

Sophie’s choice here innit. Danny is someone im pally with from his pre grappling days and I mind him going to his first ICW when he turned 18. Fuck if I mind right it was the day of Surprise Devitt taking the Zero-G title. So there’s a bias there.We shared a moment eh. Against anyone else I’d have been aw Danny, but fuckin hell, this one was hard. Big Krieger just has “it”. That thing that you can’t teach. One way or another he has everyone watching him absorbed in what hes doing and over the course of this tournament he was undoubtedly the one who fans gravitated towards the most. I dig it a lot. It just works and his tag team with Lou King Sharp is one of the most entertaining things in Scotland today. Was proud to see my pal hold his own with one half of the PBW Tag Team Champions but also kinda happy Krieger progressed thanks to a beautiful combination of kicks cause he’s a crackin talent. His wee pre match “sexy dance” got the ring announcer for the night Molly Spartan involved but his big finale of gettin the tits oot was not mirrored by her despite his best attempts. Better watch yersell mate. The big bad wolf is always watching and they knucks are probably always within arms reach. Protect yer domepiece at all times. Krieger advanced but ma man Danny held his own in the face of a much bigger opponent, and even survived a hate crime when Krieger cried him a “big Emo”.

Irving Garrett vs Scott McManus

Pick of the first round for me in terms of match quality. A cracking mesh of styles, summed up by the duelling chants of “holds” from Garrett, met by Mcmanus’ cry of “throws”. Holds and throws mate. That’s what this wrestling caper is all about. Its nae secret I have a rampaging hard-on for Irving Garrett as a wrestler, but Mcmanus also caught the eye with his unorthodox style. Looks like he could knee ye in the temple from aw sorts of angles. Hugely enjoyable match. Irving Garrett for me is one of the most complete in ring talents in Scotland and must be utilised more. His finisher is a side Russian leg sweep and he turns it onto a submission that looks like it would make ye greet instantaneously and that’s how he rounded this off but the hard work was done with all the mad looking submissions he was getting in about before that. Weakening the opponent for the mega sare finish. McManus was equally important in making this match as good as it was though and will feel unfortunate not to have gone further.

Leyton Buzzard vs Kez Evans

Kez Evans is a slightly peculiar case. He main evented the first Asylum show when it was under the ICW banner and had a stormer with big Wolfgang. Really good match and he showed a level of ability far beyond the experience he had. Maybe needs a wee something extra character wise to pair up with his unquestionable skill in the ring and he seemingly found it here. Brutally knocking eleven shades of shite out of Leyton Buzzard when he took what would be regarded an upset win with a rollup after Kez dominating the match. Kez mocked his opponent from the start, so of course he would be raging at losing to someone he was pretty much pointing and laughing at throughout. The doing that commenced shortly after was almost unavoidable but regardless, Buzzard progressed to face Aaron Echo in the next round. Just what yer needing after taking an almighty scudding, a match against the most accomplished talent in the tournament who’s also probably about double your weight.

Aaron Echo vs Jack Dillon

The favourite against one of the underdogs was always going to go one way, but credit to Jack Dillon for at least managing to to showcase some of what he’s capable of over the course of it. Something about Aaron Echo is a wee bit different from the other 15 competitors. With the greatest of respect to them all, Echo carries himself like hes the finished article and even if he isn’t the finished article yet, carrying yourself with that level of conviction goes a long way to convincing folk that you are. He showed a proper villainous side as the tournament wore on but this was more of a straight up, nae messin win. Taking Dillon out with a thunderous Pumphandle Slam.

Devin Fawkes vs Kai Williams King

This was a bit easier to choose sides cause Devin’s my pal and I didn’t really know much about Kai Williams King beforehand. Not making it to many Asylum or Source shows due to the day job made this tournament a lot more eye opening than it might have been and Kai Williams King certainly showed he has something. A big lump of a guy tae. Fawkes cut a promo beforehand deriding Williams-King seemingly ignoring him as a threat and treating the first round as formality and it certainly wasn’t that. Fawkes is adept at they big dirty kicks to side of the dome and slung some vicious chops. Taking his deceptively agile opponent out his stride and even catching his attempt at a big running boot to the chest and sweeping him, causing him to land beak first on the hardest cunt in wresting, the ring apron. Fawkes was giving it the “this is my house patter” which was mirrored by KWK, and I dunno if this mean’s they’re flat mates or suhin. If there isn’t at least some kinda joint tenancy at play here it cannae be both of yer gaffs. Who’s hoose is it? Williams-King did eventually gain some momentum and took the win with a German Supelex that turned into a rock bottom type of thing.

The Sam Barbour Experience vs Dylan Angel

I liked this a lot for two reasons. First and foremost, it was was really good match. Dylan Angel is very talented at that mad Will Ospreay backflip stuff and managed to showcase his talent while making his opponent look fuckin excellent. When ye go to a show like this ye need to be open minded and give folk a chance to make a fan out of you, and Sam Barbour certainly done that for me. I really had no idea he was as good as he displayed over these two shows and that’s reason two for liking this. I became a fan of a wrestler and promptly added him to the constantly growing list of “gid cunts that dae the wrestling”. He has a really neat bridging northern lights suplex that I enjoyed whenever he busted it out, but even aside from the high level of talent he has in ring, he has whatever that character is meant to be locked down. Yer man has a hand signal and pretty much everyone there was mimicking it. Anything remotely villainous was met with a “that’s not handsome” chant so he seems to have convinced the audience “handsome” is a blanket term for things that are morally upstanding. He won with the hangman’s DDT but Angel could definitely consider himself unfortunate to be going out. A bit like Scott McManus he managed to shine even in defeat.

Lucha DS vs Kieran McColm

Another interesting wee mesh of styles and the start of a bit of character development for Kieran McColm. In all 3 of his matches the crowd favoured his opponent despite him being a happy go lucky Bob Backlund-esque type of dude and by the third match he was starting to resent it. In this one he was happy to let the crowd go Lucha daft and responded to it by doing hunners of good wrestling. A very talented dude who showed why he managed to keep up with Tyler Bate on a Source show not long ago. Lucha kept McColms skills at bay with some slick Lucha stuff. With the springboards, and the moonsaults and aw that stuff. The 205 live material. It was a strong finish to a first night that was competed at a stupidly high standard and McColm joined the quarter final lineup with a crossface. A handshake was exchanged afterwards despite initial resistance from Lucha, momentarily forgetting his Lucha manners before restoring balance in the Lucha universe by eventually agreeing to the handshake.

Night one ended with the Quarter Finalists being brought out and Aaron Echo punching Leyton Buzzard square in the mouth leading to a big 8 man stramash. I hope future wrestling tournaments take heed and stop having folk who are gonnae wrestle each other soon go face to face, cause it invariably leads to someone getting punched in the mouth. Ravie Davie and Echo were the two last men standing, some foreshadowing for what was to come in night two perhaps? Keep reading these words to find out. And these ones. And aw the ones below this.

Night Two

Quarter Finals

Aaron Echo vs Leyton Buzzard

This was a bonafide scudding from the beginning. The smallest guy in the tournament going against the favourite to win it was always going to be a rough time for Leyton Buzzard but chuck in the fact he got leathered after his match just 24 hours earlier you had to wonder if there was even any point in him showing up. He did have a wee 1-2-3 Kid type of spell in the match where he made the arrogant big dude giving him a doing a bit worried, but the fairytale was never on the cards. This was the start of Echo properly morphing into a big no gien a fuck baddie, when he chucked Molly Spartan off her chair in order the use that chair for nefarious deeds. There wis surely another chair he could have used in the area, its a wrestling show ffs. There should be a 3 steel chair minimum for all wrestling shows, just in case. It was dominant from Echo but the use of the steel chair when he most likely didn’t need it to get the job done is some wicked behaviour.

Kai Williams King vs The Sam Barbour Experience

Probably just edged Garrett vs Ravie Davie for match of the Quarters. This is when Sam Barbour proper started to shine for me, and him and KWK (it said that on his gear and its easier than typing the full name) seemed to have aw sorts of chemistry. The big boot KWK does on the apron that was foiled the night before against Devin Fawkes, connected emphatically in this match, making Barbour’s performance in the remainder of the match all the more remarkable considering he had to pick the remnants of his ribcage up after the kick. Barbour does this thing where he tells the opponent to “relax” before attempting to boot their heid aff their shoulders, a play on his theme music whilst also telling his opponent hes about to get knocked the fuck out. Effective on many levels, but again it was the Hangman’s DDT that got the job done after KWK missed from the top rope.

Krieger vs Kieran Mccolm

The moment of the weekend happened before this match even began, as Krieger broke out the sexy dance routine, once again pulling the straps doon only for WWE superstar (look out for the interview, coming…..probably today) Wolfgang to emerge before he could try and drag the poor ring announcer into it again. Instead Wolfgang joined Krieger and Molly Spartan in a spot of sexy dancing, a fact that I’m sure was of great relief to Krieger who must have anticipated he was about to be on the sharp end of a sound thrashing. It was Wolfy who whapped the dids out instead, ripping his t-shirt off, revealing a big tattoo that said “Product Of The WWE Performance Centre” before leaving Krieger to get on with the grapplin. One has to ponder if the shenanigans took Kriegers eye aff the ball a wee bit but this was also the start of Mccolm acknowledging that the crowd were heavily favouring his opponent and him getting a bit pissed off at it. In-ring ability wise he’s another who is at a level far beyond his years, so why don’t they love him like they love sexy dancing? One of they questions we’ll never get an answer to but he took the crowd favourite clean out the equation with the crossface and advanced to the semis.

Ravie Davie vs Irving Garrett

The battle of two GPWA mainstays. Garrett signalled his intent to knock Ravie Davie out of the tournament in his post first round promo, and Ravie Davie used that same promo opportunity to tell everyone he intended to show them why he’s “the best hing gaun” in Scottish Wrestling right now. Something had to give. One of them was certainly heading up the road. Garrett responded to Davie’s usual “Whits happenin troops!” pre match war cry by telling the crowd “Holds! Holds are what’s happening” so reading between the lines there, I think he was intending to utilise some holds over the course of this match. This certainly ticks all the boxes for a cracking rivalry, two guys who are polar opposites both in character and in wrestling style. Really enjoyable scrap, was sad to see Garrett go out thanks to a big scudding heider from Davie, but the dream lived on for Davie and he moved on to write a new chapter in his rivalry with Aaron Echo in the semi finals.

Semi Finals

The Sam Barbour Experience vs Kieran Mccolm

Another standout match in the tournament and the match where Sam Barbour solidified himself as a top talent as opposed to a guy who had a couple of flukey good matches in a row. Three out of three being belters certainly means something. If McColm was the thorn in PBW’s side, yer man Barbour was the Source destroyer and managed to extinguish their hopes of being the school responsible for the first winner of the GPWA invitational by taking McColm out. It was interesting to see that wee bit of frustration from McColm to get the crowd on his side eventually coming to the boil as he lost his cool a wee bit with the home crowd. Its that wee bit of attitude that will take him to the next level. Something he’s trying hard to achieve, shedding the “Underdog” moniker and singlet for trunks and snazzy jacket. Its unquestionable that aw the best wrestlers in the world wear trunks and a snazzy jacket to the ring. Wrestling is mainly being as snazzy as possible without wearing something that could shrink if ye get heavy sweaty. A difficult balance to strike. Barbour once again put his opponent away with the Hangman’s DDT, but I’m sure he has a much sexier name for it than that.

Aaron Echo vs Ravie Davie

Echo entered first and waited patiently in the Asylum bogs for Davie to emerge, blindsiding him before the bell and subjecting him to a pre match skelping. Yet more villainous behaviour from Echo who does seem to suit the role of ruthless bad yin down to a tee. He’s more than capable of getting the job done without using such tactics, but why leave anything to chance when ye can batter folk with a chair instead? He flung Davie about a bit before finally getting the match start. Davie did enjoy a wee spell on top. Hitting that Pele Kick and the springboard moonsault he busts out every now and then but anything he flung at Echo just couldn’t match Echo flingin a chair at Davie with the referee out of the equation. I’d always found a right good chair throw a lot more emphatic than a chair shot, if its done right it’s certainly acoustically pleasing at the very least but it was a right shame to see Echo lowering himself to such things. Hingin aboot bathrooms just to get the upper hand in a fight. Throwing lassies aff chairs. Surely by this point he should have had a dedicated chair for use in these matters, but yer man seemed to be enjoying chucking Molly Spartan off a chair that didnae even look comfortable anyway. It was probably already creating a bit of sore arsedness and into the bargain she had to deal with gettin flung about. Echo did indeed take the win with that chair throw as the favourite to win it all put the fan favourite out.

Fight Club vs The Purge

A smashing choice as the only non tournament match of the weekend. Ye need that wee breather between the Semi’s and the Final and it was also a chance for GPWA to showcase the most polished tag team to come from the school to date. The Purge were the goodies and very popular with a crowd who were largely made up of regular Asylum show attendees, and Fight Club just had a fuckin great time as the baddies. Liam Thomson seems to be having the time of his life anytime he enters a wrestling ring right now anyway, and Kid Fite was in fine form. Ripping the piss out of someone’s choice of headwear before jawing with folk in the crowd as he hung about the apron, certainly not inviting a tag. Liam Thomson’s one of the finest grapplers in the land after all, why get in amongst it if he’s doing the job  just fine on his own? First time in a while I’d seen The Purge and they have what it takes to become a staple of the tag division up and down Scotland and beyond. They contributed to a proper fun match, even if it did end in some sare baws as Fight Club took advantage of the ref being out the equation to deliver a double baw hit for the win. I dunno why folk bother doing moves after they’ve dunted someone in the baws; ye kick me in the baws I’m down for a count of 300 at least never mind 3.

THE GRAND FINALE

The Sam Barbour Experience vs Aaron Echo

A fitting pairing for the final. Aaron Echo the most accomplished talent in the field going in to the tournament, and Sam Barbour the guy who in my eyes anyway, turned the most heads in the tournament. Certainly anyone who hasn’t been to a lot of the Asylum shows will have seen a level of ability from him that they maybe weren’t expecting. Being a GPWA guy up against the big dominant baddie who had gradually become more and more of a baddie as the tournament went on meant the crowd were hugely on Barbour’s side. Not that Echo was giving anything resembling a fuck. He came to win a tournament and clearly had no qualms with whatever tactics he had to use to complete that objective. A credit to all the schools involved that such a high quality tournament was brought to an end by an absorbing final. Barbour really had Echo worried throughout and gave him his toughest match of the tournament, but the big man made use of a slick reversal before rolling Barbour up with a handful of tights to get the pin and become the first ever winner of the GPWA Asylum Invitational. A wee cheeky handful of tights and more attempts to use a steel chair didn’t go down well with all observers, namely a certain big bad Wolf (him thats in WWE, read part one of the interview coming….in a few hours, or it might already be oot depending on when you’re reading this) who saw Echo attack Barbour after the match and could take no more. He emerged at to commend Echo’s talent and congratulate his victory before going straight to Da mode and telling him how he was disappointing at some of the more sleekit tactics he used to get the job done. Challenging him to a match at the next Night At The Asylum show. Wolfgang vs Aaron Echo. With big tournament wins comes big opportunities it would seem.

Overall really enjoyed both nights. The tournament was a rousing success and will hopefully grow and grow from this point on. If its a yearly thing its another thing for “trainees” to shoot for. Winning that tournament and having people sit up and take notice. Of the 16 matches, none were anything approaching bad, which is a pretty amazing thing considering the level of experience amongst those who took part in them. A sign of how high standards are across the board and that can only lead to a bright future. asylum2echo

Photo of the winner taken by the extra talented David J.Wilson

An Interview With Iestyn Rees

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You lookin at ma belt mate? 

Iestyn Rees and The Marauders have made a profound impact on the Scottish scene over the past year, establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in ICW quickly after forming as Bird and Boar took the ICW Tag Team Titles from Polo Promotions. With Bird and Boar firmly established in the tag division, Iestyn Rees has been staking his own claim for recognition in the mix for the ICW World Heavyweight Title. As the only man to hold the PWE Heavyweight Title more than once, his credentials are there. In PWE particularly he’s wrestled the best and became a better performer for it. He also happens to be carved outta granite. A big block of shiny Welsh granite who’s more than adept at chuckin dafties aboot. From wee dafties, to medium sized dafties, all the way up to big incredible hulk sized dafties.


You go by the “Alpha Male”, a bold claim by definition. Are you actually THE Alpha Male? and if you are, do you promise you wont steal my burd? Nah I jest, seriously though, how did that nickname come about and how does it tie in with your character?

No bird stealing I promise!! Yes it is a bold claim and if you look up Alpha Male in the Dictionary the quote is as follows: “the most dominant, powerful, or assertive man in a particular group” I think that when you look at the British Wrestling Scene and further afield when I step in locker-room of any company I am dominant, powerful and assertive hence why I am the Alpha Male.

Now there was a time when myself and Charlie Sterling were a tag team and we derived the name the Alpha Males because we literally covered all bases when it came to wrestling, high flying, power, technical etc. When that teams time came to a close it was a natural transition for the leader of the team yours truly to step up and take on the Alpha Male moniker.

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In case the answer itself didn’t suffice, here’s a visual aid articulating the point courteousy of Warrior Fight Photography

On to more wrestling based stuff I guess. You have twice been a PWE Champion. The only man in the companies history to do so. You also were the chosen opponent for 2 of Drew Galloways matches with the company. His only matches in his hometown. How vital has the PWE’s trust in you as a performer been for you establishing yourself in places like ICW, PCW, Progress etc?

PWE for me has been the company that allowed the evolution and progression of Iestyn Rees to occur. I had, had success prior to my long list of knee injuries and surgeries in IPW being crowned their champion beating Martin Stone, if I’m truly honest this was probably a little too early in my career and the title run exposed some of weaknesses I had as a wrestler at the time. The injuries caused my bookings to dry up, I was lucky enough to then spend 2 years working mainly for Welsh Wrestling honing my craft and trying to improve every aspect of my wrestling ability.

Once I started to gain more bookings elsewhere etc, I discussed with Adrian (Lionheart) about bringing me into PWE (I had always wanted to work in Scotland as the scene has grown from strength to strength). Adrian was keen to use me, but he wanted to get the best from me. So I had vignettes hyping my debut and from then on I have been a main eventer for him ever since, working all of Scotland’s top talent Wolfgang, Damo, Grado, Noam, Joe Coffey and of course Drew. The top tier talent I got to work and Adrian’s faith in me allowed my profile to grow considerably, this allowed me to pick up work in PCW and ICW and to be used as an integral part in both companies.

How did you feel those matches with Galloway went? Was it a learning curve for you at all? Being in there with someone who at that time was one of the hottest properties in Independent Wrestling?

Those matches were and still are the 2 of the biggest 3 matches I’ve been involved in, Adrian put a hell of a lot of trust in me to go toe to toe with the hottest commodity in world wrestling in his hometown. I felt that I held up my end of the bargain and gave as good as I got from Drew, in terms of learning curve every match I try to improve on the previous one, but certainly Drew forced me to work at a level I hadn’t until that point. I feel that coming away from those matches I am now a much better performer because of them.

Your ICW career started with a few defeats. Took a while for you to chalk up your first win. Since The Marauders started up you personally have been on a hot streak as have your fellow Marauders. How vital has this alliance been in your own upturn of fortunes in ICW?

Coming into ICW I was put up against the top tier talent 4 World Champions and a Zero G champion and perhaps I took them all to lightly as I had faced them at other companies and come away with my fair share of victories. The marauders came together as Bird and Boar reminded me that Wales has been over looked in terms of British wrestling for far too long and as a small nation we were better to stick together as there is always strength in numbers.

My current hot streak just proves that if you have your head in the game, you possess the physical capabilities and the support of your boyos the wins will come and come.

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Whats the overall goal for The Marauders as a unit going forward? Aw the belts?

Of course I can’t see a team taking the tag belts from Bird and Boar, and all I need is an opportunity at some gold and I can see us holding all the belts.

British Wrestling has never been hotter than it is right now and high profile opportunities are popping up all over the place. Do you feel you’re one of the next in line for one of these opportunities perhaps with WWE, WOS etc?

The eyes of the wrestling world are certainly focused on Britain and its wrestlers as we have the hottest products in the world right now. Next inline might be a little presumptuous to say, but do I think I have the ability, charisma, the look and the marketability to offer either WWE, WWEUK, WOS, Impact or wherever someone who they could invest in. #InvestInIestyn

#InvestInIestyn because who doesn’t like their champions to glisten? If you’re not as shiny as the belt itself you’re not worthy to hold it

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Is there anyone you haven’t faced yet that you fancy going up against? If you’ve not wrestled Mark Coffey someone should definitely make that happen

Oh wow, I feel that im only getting started and the list is as long as my arms (6’ 9” wing span, they are pretty bloody long.) But Mark Coffey is definitely top of that list the guy is phenomenal! Others include Lionheart, Jester, Whiplash, Zack Gibson, Pete (Dunne), Trent and Tyler hell anyone and everyone.

Do you enjoy proving people wrong/winning them over, or as a big baddie are you not particularly arsed what people think? I wasnt a huge fan before (sorry, dont kill me or that plz) but over the past year I’ve been won over so was just wondering if thats an aspect of wrestling you enjoy. Being able to shape the way fans see you with your performances?


I’m out there to do my job, in today’s Indy wrestling scene there aren’t many guys my size 6 foot 3, 17.5 stone. Now I wrestle a style that isn’t to everyone’s tastes and I’m used to hearing people not being impressed or not fussed by me as in the case with yourself I am confident in my ability and captivate people and win most not all round with my style. But don’t let that fool you I’ve got lots of tricks in my bag and I occasionally let them out and when I do most fans are shocked, I can fly (check out my “Undertaker” dive alongside Aaron Echo at the Hydro far example)

That dive is one of the chief reasons I became a believer. If you’re a wrestling fan and not impressed when huge dudes do dives that huge dudes shouldn’t be able to do, you’re not really a wrestling fan

aecho

You’ve been compared to Chris Masters in the past due to your similar physiques and you’ve even wrestled him a few times. Is that a comparison you enjoy and is he someone you’re a fan of?

I feel the comparisons to Chris are flattering hell the guy has an incredible physique (I was a huge fan of him when he debuted in WWE) and has worked at a top level for the WWE, but at the same time I feel that although that maybe peoples first impression after they have seen me perform a few times then will understand that I’m not a Sh*t Chris Masters, I am Iestyn Rees, I’m the Alpha Male. I bring a whole different package to the table.

Because how many times has Chris Masters ever done a big dive at The Hydro with Aaron Echo? 0 times. Big man couldnae lace Iestyn’s boots. 

You’ve been putting people “on notice” lately. Making short work of “local” talent in ICW, and even posing with the corpses…sorry, opponents, in a fishing style “catch of the day” pose, are you enjoying making an example of these guys, or is it time for the Alpha Male to go toe to toe with some more worthy adversaries?

The whole roster is “On Notice” that’s been evident when I’ve been on tour and beaten Aaron Echo and DCT in quick fashion. Ill wrestle whoever I’m matched up against “Local Talent” to World Champion, but people need to understand if I’m sent out there against Local talent or anyone else they run the risk of being the latest “Catch of the Day”!

Last but not least. Tell us anything you like. Plug your social medias. Tell us a joke if you fancy. Whatever you like.


Thanks for the interview; your reviews are definitely a great read.

Find Iestyn on various social medias here
Twitter: IESTYN REES TWITTER
Instagram: IESTYN REES INSTAGRAM
Facebook: IESTYN REES OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE

Merch: www.iestynrees.bigcartel.com
Press/Media/Enquiries: Iestyn.rees@sky.com

Cheers to David J.Wilson and Warrior Fight Photography for the shiny shots that made the words pop