Wolfgang: Scotlands Big Bad Ambassador

wolfbike

When Andy Murray walks out to compete at Wimbledon, as a nation we get behind him (At least those of us who don’t see a Scotsman being a sarcastic bastard as a bad thing do, and if you’re one of the “I don’t like him, he never smiles” brigade I suggest you take a look at your own miserable melt in the mirror and promptly shut yer hole). We do that because its rare for Scotland to produce such an elite sporting talent and to see him slugging it out with the very best for the top accolades in his sport is a source of national pride. Closer to home, Paul “Bearjew” Craig had MMA fans across the country getting behind him in his first UFC fight recently, a fight he won to plenty of acclaim from fans of the sport and casual observers alike. An overnight celebrity because he’s a Scot doing it at the highest level. Chest puffed oot, representing the boaysies. Ricky Burns is a world champion despite being nothing particularly special as a fighter because every time he fights in front of a home crowd he’s that much quicker, that much sharper, his punches are that much more emphatic. They’re that much more emphatic because thousands of hauf cut Glaswegians scream at the top of their lungs for him. He’s one of our own, out there doing his thing at the very top level. As a nation we do have a good reputation of getting behind our elite sportspeople and that should be no  different when Glasgow’s very own Wolfgang enters a 16 man tournament to crown WWE’s first ever UK Champion.

Pre-determined outcomes should have no bearing on how you see the bold Wolfgang over the course of this weekend if you’re a Scot. So fuck if its pre-determined, none of us know what the outcome will be, and he’s the main man. Our only representative of 16, which does stick in the craw a wee bit considering how strong the scene has been in Scotland in recent years,  but who better to carry our hopes than a guy who has been incredible domestically for the best part of a decade and a half. The self proclaimed regulator. The godfather of Scottish Wrestling, and I don’t mean he’s pimpin mad hoes and puttin them on trains, I mean he’s the leader of the pack. The overseer. The bad bastard who’s been laying waste to anyone with a set of plums big enough to have a go for nearly 15 years. This is HIS time and more people should be raving about this well deserved opportunity that is now so close the big man can probably sniff it. A place in the 16 man field to crown the first ever WWE UK Championship. An event that will stream live on the WWE Network. An event that will be a launchpad for many talented individuals to gain exposure their work has for so long deserved. But only one of them is a Scot. Only one of them is one of the most diverse big men on the planet. Only one of them is the current ICW Champion, and a guy who has been involved in every single step of British Wrestling’s resurgence. Only one of them represents us, and that’s why no matter how you feel about him when he scowls at ye and calls yer maw a snaggletoothed baw sooker at ICW, this weekend it disnae matter mate. If you’re still upset with him for splitting up the NAK, fuckin let bygones be bygones and brass knucks to the jaw be brass knucks to the jaw.Stuff your grudges in a sack and punt them into the Clyde. None of it matters. All that matters is that the big man comes home with that shiny belt. Biased as fuck and proud of it. Fight me about it.

wolffff

Journalistic integrity dictates that I should just give you a wee rundown on the competitors and really inform you as to what you might see this weekend when this historic tournament kicks off, but honestly, I can’t be fucked mate. No one needs to tell you how good Trent Seven is. No one needs to tell you how much of a prodigy Tyler Bate is. No one should need to be telling you how uniquely gifted Pete Dunne is. These are things I expect you as an audience to know, but here’s a thing you might not know. None of that shit matters because Wolfgang has them all beat. See yer wee favourite guy? Tell him to prepare his jaw for a mauling, because that’s how its going down. The same way it always goes down. The opponent lying spark out and the big bad wolf holding a shiny belt over his stupit napper. Recognise.

In all seriousness, I’ll make nae attempt to hide that Wolfgang is a personal favourite. The first match I seen in Scottish Wrestling was Wolfgang vs Noam Dar at ICW in 2012 and the fact that after this weekend they can both be found on the WWE network, doing their thing in real life actual wrestling matches is just nice int it. A nice thing for the Scottish scene in general, but just a nice thing for two genuinely hard working good folk who have worked very hard to hone their craft to the point that they showed up on WWE’s radar at all. Even if it goes no further for Wolfgang WWE wise, and even if he gets papped out in the first round (he fuckin better no) a wider audience than ever will get to see him do his thing and his thing is quite beautiful at full force. Like Andre The Giant’s forearm….wait…I think that’s a different thing we’re talking about now, but his wrestling talent is also very impressive and a potential second round match-up with his current ICW nemesis Trent Seven could be the match-up where both of them get to let their talent loose in full flow, and while my own pick is quite blatantly obvious from the content of this article, I definitely think the winner of that potential match-up will certainly end up in the final. A potentially pivotal bout between the two before they face each other in perhaps even more significant action at ICW’s Square Go a few weeks later. With Wolfys pride and joy, the ICW World Heavyweight Championship, on the line.

wolfgang

For all I understand why he’s being billed as a big smashmouth brawler in all the media stuff I’ve seen about this tournament so far, Wolfgang in reality is far more than that. As well rounded a talent as this country has ever produced. As comfortable going to the top rope to get the job done as he is methodically punching the living shite out of his foes to put them away. While his impressive high flying has been self regulated (cause hes the regulator ye see) a bit since becoming the all conquering knuckle duster utilising baddie we see today, he is more than capable of doing things men his size shouldn’t be able to do, and as many beautiful David J.Wilson shots can attest to, one of these things is clearing the top rope with ease before landing all 18 stone of mass on his opponent like its fuck all. Like he’s Rey Mysterio in his prime, except one of Wolfgang’s morning shites probably weighs more than Rey. One of the things that got me personally re-hooked on Pro Wrestling as an adult was seeing him majestically fly over the top rope, landing on a certain Prince Devitt’s heid in the main event of ICW Hadouken in 2012. A match that was a proper escape from reality, as 700 folk were fully absorbed in something that would most likely be once in a lifetime. A match that might be the reason Wolfgang even has a place in this tournament at all, such is the extent of the pull Devi….I mean Finn Balor seems to have in WWE. If ICW has a special place in Finn’s heart then that was the match that started the love affair and from a personal perspective its fucking immense to see so many of the talents that helped re-ignite my own passion for pro wrestling make waves with the biggest company in the world in recent times. The icing on the cake would be Wolfgang coming home the first ever WWE UK Champion.

I’m sure whoever takes it will be more than worthy of it, and head ruling heart, I’d say Pete Dunne is objectively the favourite for it. Based on what WWE might be looking for in a talent going forward, his age and the amount of room for improvement he has, he might be the guy but with the greatest of respects to him, Jordan Devlin, the bold Martin Stone (wrestling under his old nxt name Danny Burch), Mark Andrews, T-Bone, Roy Johnson, James Drake, Dan Moloney, the devilishly handsome Trent Seven, Tucker, Saxon Huxley, Sam Gradwell, Joseph Conners, H.C Dyer and Tyler Bate, none of them winning it will be as special as the big bad Wolf raising that shiny belt above his napper at the end of it all. After 15 years of toil. 15 years of putting it all on the line. Make no mistake about it, this tournament and any opportunities that come from it wont define his already impressive legacy but it WILL offer him a real shot at turning this wrestling caper into a full time gig. Something that has to have been the goal from day one and something that seems perfectly attainable right now. So close he can almost taste it.

To the other 15 men going all out to win this tournament, you can hold on to hope for as long as you want troops. Sooner or later, Wolfgang will cut you down.

wolfyBig thank you as always to the wonderful David.J Wilson and his superb photos

My Top 10 Observations From Watching WWE Payback In My Friends House

payyyybacj

A wise man once said, if you can’t beat them, write list articles every day till yer fuckin eyes bleed. So here’s a list article about WWE Payback 2016 which took place last night in Chicago. I went to my pal Andy’s house to watch it, and we hung out for 3 or 4 hours before our other friend Keith arrived to make it a party. He made it a party because of his carefree attitude and commitment to bringing joy to those around him, and I can shower him in this praise safe in the knowledge he’ll never see it cause he never reads my shit. That chatter is irrelevant to the points I’m about to make about the PPV but important to paint as vivid a picture as possible regarding how the whole evening went down. Enjoy the words. Stay cool.

1. The Wyatt’s Weren’t On The Show Yet Were Heavily Featured On All The Promo Stuff. What’s that all about I ask you?

braaaaaaaay

A lot of good things happening in WWE right now. The product feels fresh. Stagnant talent given a new lease of life. All that power of positivity shit. So this felt like a strange oversight. I know these things are decided well in advance and maybe there was big plans for the Wyatts before Harper went down injured, but how the fuck does it go from them all over the promo stuff to them not being on the show at all? If anything that’s false advertising. We were promised creepy beards. I expect my monthly dose of creepy beards to be delivered to me as promised. Although keep Braun and The Strowman Empire the fuck away from me. Somecunt should show that big diddy a Big Damo match and let him know that being huge isn’t an excuse for moving like your arse is made of 2p coins and fridge magnets.

2. If you didn’t want to get a step ladder, climb it and put an arm round Big Cass after Enzo’s injury, you’re dead inside.

cass.jpg

Unless you’re The Big Show, there’s nae conceivable way you can just chuck an arm round him without some kind of ladder being deployed because in case you hadn’t heard, yer man’s 7 FOOT TALL and that’s something that CANNOT BE TAUGHT (that’s how it goes eh? words to that effect anyway) but how utterly heartbreaking was it seeing the big man breaking his heart over his pal being ko’d? In that moment he couldn’t have given a flying fuck that their big chance to make an impression on a main roster PPV had gone because that’s his best pal lying unconscious and that matters so much more. Its a huge shame but they’ll have their match and when it does happen (to completion) it’ll be smashin. Cass will chuck Enzo at everycunt within a 5 mile radius of the arena and we’ll have the perfect end to this wee tale but that moment Simon Gotch chucked Enzo into the ropes and he landed on the floor with his eyes glazed over was some scary shit and the big man felt it. That’s brotherhood. That’s a pair of guys who’ll still be best pals long after this wrestling shit stops being a thing and it was a strangely heartwarming moment amidst a difficult time. Enzo was apparently conscious and doing well so no more tears big yin. Yer wee brerr wae aw the patter is going to be just fine.

3. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn knocked it out the fuckin park

owenszayn

Bit of a contrast between their “I’m gonnae boot this Canadian cunt to death with my decidedly Canadian feet” best pal dynamic and the one Enzo and Cass have, but this match has the strange ability to feel fresh even if in reality its the 10003846023th time they’ve wrestled each other. Fuck knows why they didn’t go with a singles match between them at Mania instead of the admittedly hugely entertaining 6 man ladder based barney they both ended up involved in, but it lived up and for me was a better match than any of their NXT battles because this time Sami Zayn didn’t have to be leathered to within an inch of his life to the lose the match. He simply lost to the better man on the night. Big KO. Surely a matter of time before he’s in amongst the hunt for the big belt.

4. Ryback was back to his hilarious best and his match was tidy.

reeeback

When the big guy lets loose and gets the humour flowing he’s one of the most entertaining guys on the roster. Recently his character has been generic personality-less meathead and its fuckin poisonous. No one gives a fuck because the character gives you ride all to invest in. Nothing to hate, love or feel anything about. Its just nothing. When he’s allowed to let that sense of humour go a wee bit (or when he’s not allowed and does it anyway) I love the big cunt. Shamelessly and forcefully. I love him more than he loves eating loaves of bread in one gulp. When he responded to the rapid CM Punk inspired Chicago boos he was on the rough end of by mimicking Punks entrance he displayed a glistening set of giant baws and waved them in all of our faces, and not to forget HIS WEIGHT BELT THE PRE-SHOW STOPPER ON IT! Fuck knows why I found that so exceedingly hilarious but I did and it was. The match was also really quite good and deserved to be on the main show but they seem to have given up the ghost when it comes to making Ryback a star now. Bad news for him, but good news for us if he keeps being given free reign to be as much of a hilarious dafty as possible.

5. Ambrose vs Jericho was 2 valium washed down with a shot of whisky masquerading as a wrestling match

jeribrose

The match was pretty good, so why was it so boring? Who the fuck cares. I don’t even care enough to muster up any more words about it. It was that level of disengaging. Please stop doing these meaningless feuds with Jericho and expecting it to be good. It never is because beating him means fuck all these days. His role in wrestling is to kid on he’s a threat to new talent until they pin him, then he fucks off to wear jackets without shirts with his band instead of doing it at pro wrestling shows. He’s actually had some decent villainous moments since he turned on AJ and its been one of his more enjoyable recent runs, but something about this feud was majorly off putting. Maybe its Ambrose. Maybe a “lunatic” that complies with companies orders for him to wear his own merch isn’t all that credible as a lunatic. Guess I was lying when I said I couldn’t muster up any more words about it eh. These appear to be more words. So are these.

6. The finish of Natalya vs Charlotte was so fuckin cringeworthy and stupid I’ve not stopped shaking my head since it happened. My neck’s fuckin killin me mate.

nattie

Why? Did they do this to annoy Bret because he does fuck all but moan about them in any press outlet that’ll give him the opportunity to do so? Fuck knows but doing the screwjob finish completely undermined another excellent match between two of the best wrestlers WWE have. I truly don’t understand the logic or if they’re even going to explain why lil Naitch has any motivation to be involved in it. Earl Hebner was under pressure. Feared losing his job maybe. That was a real life situation and the people involved and the decisions they made actually made a lot of sense because of that. In this weird re-hash of it, fuck all made sense, but hey, we got to see stereo sharpshooters from Bret and Nattie so every cloud and all that shite.

7. The Miz is kinda killing it right now.

miz

People seem to hate him for things that happened in the past more than anything he does these days. He wasn’t ready to be a main event calibre guy and probably never will be of that level but is it his fault he was put in that position? Should he have told them no when they asked him to feud with Cena? Of course not. He was actually a pretty decent heel then as well, it was more his lack of believability as champ that held him back more than him lacking as a character. He was also completely average as a wrestler, but he’s improved to the point that most of his matches are at least solid and character wise he’s got it locked down. Arrogant, delusions of grandeur, smokin hot wife that makes the casual fan go “how the fuck did he get her?” and plenty of guys that people love to batter fuck out him. Like Cesaro, who had Miz tapping before sleekitness led to the quick win and Miz retaining. He could easy have a 6 month+ run with the IC belt where he fucks over all the goodies and it would be interesting enough before the Zack attack reclaims the gold he was robbed of in the first place. WOO WOO WOO. Ye ken it.

8. Talking segments on PPVs are brain death.

vince

Vince didn’t even make a decision. They’re both running RAW. Running RAW and making decisions on PPVs aswell. PPVs aren’t RAW. Who runs Smackdown amongst all this nonsense? Is there a third McMahon bairn quietly doing that and shaking his head at his daft warring siblings? Barry McMahon, the background wan. Kept off TV for decades because he’s got a birth defect that made a third ear grow on the middle of his forehead. Shane and Steph are running RAW together, even though Shane lost his match. Because reasons. Don’t ask questions, just listen to this 20 minute promo that tells us nothing new and button yer fuckin lip.

9. The main event felt huge…and ended up a bit messy

ajroman.jpg

The match was excellent for the most part and I loved the phenomenal forearm table spot, but did it make sense having Roman lose the match twice before winning it? Even if its by countout then DQ, they’re still losses for a guy who’s supposed to be dominant and almost infallible. Seen folk raving about it and I kinda get why, the match was entertaining and made a mockery of fannies chanting “you can’t wrestle” at Roman because he held his own with one of the best on the planet, but I hate all that stop-start carry on. I hate that Gallows and Anderson got involved again and they’re keeping up this premise that somehow AJ manages to miss it every time they batter the guy he kinda needs them to batter. Its a wee bit convenient eh? Hopefully its leading to some Finn Balor based goodness but it seems a bit daft and leads to The Usos being involved in main events to even the odds which just isn’t what anyone needs to see. Sorry to the lads n that, they were once my guys and I still find them somewhat entertaining when they do wrestling things, but my god, how fucking boring are The Usos and when did that happen? Nae idea how you’d even change that either. Aside from a Jeremy Kyle type of bust up that reveals they aren’t actually brothers and they only look so alike cause Jimmy Uso is actually Marty Jannetty wearing a Jey Uso mask, there’s not many ways you could give them more of an edge. After all that excitement and AJ winning the match twice, it all ended a wee bit damply with a run of the mill spear for the win.

10. Overall it was pretty good

I liked it. Wrestling? good. Crowd? good. Jojo’s erse? GOOD.

 

WWE Wrestlemania 32 Preview/Predictions

WM

Everything’s bigger in Texas they say. Including levels of disappointment in significant events. Continue reading

Daniel Bryan Made Me Care.

danielbrya

The overriding thing people talk about when discussing the problems with the current WWE product is a lot of emotional investment. As good as a lot of the performers are, it all feels the same. Every RAW feels choreographed. Even the most shocking moments feel like they’ve been meticulously planned months in advance. It’s all just forced. Roman Reigns is a great athlete and a better character than he’s given credit for. When they keep him away from the mic and leave him to destroy everything in his path, he’s a believable, passionate big guy, but people are almost put off because they KNOW he’s the guy they’re supposed to like. They know every move made to make him look good is designed to make you like him and to turn him into this mega-star they see him as and people don’t like that idea so take it out on Roman the character. That’s not even a problem for modern wrestling in general, that’s just human nature. People don’t particularly like being told what to do, and Daniel Bryan embodied that natural discontent towards authority better than anyone in the modern era of wrestling. Couple that with him being better than everyone at wrestling itself? We had something pretty special in Daniel Bryan, and the fact that as of last night, that special thing has been forced to not do one the things that made it so special is heartbreaking. We’re allowed to almost mourn the death of that side of Daniel Bryan, because he was so incredible at wrestling that it feels like we’ve lost everything to do with him, but you know what? We really haven’t.

danbatista.jpg

When Daniel Bryan delivered his farewell speech at last night’s RAW, he done something quite special. The emotion of the whole segment was undeniable but if you look past that for a second and break down the speech itself, it wasn’t a speech at all. It was a conversation. Daniel Bryan had each and every person in that audience united as one voice and he spoke to them. Asked them questions, waited on their responses. Said things that made emotions pour out of them uncontrollably, and even threw in a majorly geeky sex joke followed by the cheesiest smile you’ll ever see. He had absolute command over that audience, and not because they pitied him, but because he is still just that good. Even if he’s not the most naturally gifted ‘talker’ he doesn’t have to be. People connect with it no matter what, because they connect with everything he is. He represents the guy they didn’t want you to like. The guy THEY didn’t want to like, but had no choice in the matter. That’s special in itself. A guy without the physical gifts WWE usually favour, and without a huge all consuming personality to mask that, STILL made it to the top. He made the weekly product unmissable while he pursued the titles he felt were rightfully his as well, and the only reason “The Authority” exists right now is because they were the chief antagonists to what he was trying to accomplish. They’d have been the villains by default even if they didn’t deliberately portray those characters and that’s what Daniel Bryan provided. The good guy who was so good, that ANYONE looked like a villain when paired with him.

It would be patronising if I claimed I was one of those people who followed his whole career, from the indies, to the wrestling road diaries, from the vegan transition and back on to meat transition, from the wee beard to the big beard and back to the wee beard again. While I’ve retrospectively watched a lot of his pre WWE stuff and been impressed, him being one of my all time favourites comes solely from his work with WWE. He made me care about a product I had watched indifferently for years. At times being an adult and watching weekly WWE programming can be a mind numbing thing. Repeat matches on RAW and Smackdown making all the wrestling feel the same. Repeat storylines rendering The Big Show more of a giant split personality disorder in a singlet, than a pro wrestler. Daniel Bryan made it matter again. He made Wrestlemania 30 feel like one of those iconic nights in wrestling history and the fact that injury has made that moment the pinnacle of his career as opposed to it being the start of something truly amazing will forever be tinged with sadness. Criticise WWE for holding guys down all you like. To a degree a lot of it is true, but when its completely undeniable that a guy is more “over” than everyone else and has the in-ring ability to match? They will always go with that guy, and putting the title on him on the same night he beat Triple H clean was proof that they were all in. Daniel Bryan was the guy and if he stayed healthy he would STILL be that guy. Probably right in the middle of one of the best feuds in WWE history with Seth Rollins, who quietly became the perfect opponent for Daniel Bryan before his own injury saw his dreams put on hold.

dannny

The one thing Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins have in common above all other things is that they have both broken their bodies for your entertainment. A lot of the damage done to their bodies happened before they have the platform with the WWE that they have now, which is a testament to just how dedicated they are and have always been. Seth Rollins will certainly be back and I have no doubt there’s another 5-10-15-20-30 years for him left at the top if he wants them but Daniel Bryan’s situation and Seth’s own current injury should act as a cautionary tale. Maybe the buckle bombs and all the suicide dives should be saved for the big occasions. Maybe it’s ok to ask to sit out of a few house shows now and then because your body just wont let you be the wrestler you want to be. It ok to prioritise yourself to maximise this career, because once its over, its fucking done. This is not a Terry Funk retirement, this is very real. Right now if Daniel Bryan wrestles again, there’s a chance it could lead to him never being able to walk again so as heartbreaking as it was, this is how it has to be. It doesn’t have to be this way for everyone.

It’s ok to be sad today, but that farewell speech should tell you everything you need to know about Daniel Bryan and his connection with the fans. It was never a fad. It didn’t just happen because people naturally back the underdog, it happened because Daniel Bryan is just that good. Even though we will never get to see him wrestle again, his legacy goes far beyond that and if the right role presents itself, he could easily be a guy who makes WWE programming unmissable again as a non-wrestling character. You would imagine being so close to it all would be too much for him to bear as every fibre of his being still wants to be a professional wrestler, and even if that is the case, he’ll still probably captivate us when he goes off to have a family and disappears into the woods for the rest of his days, because he was put on this earth to do just that. Thank you Daniel Bryan. For everything you gave us, but above all else, thank you for making me care again.

deeebry

An Evening In The Company Of Mick Foley

foley

Don’t meet your heroes. That’s what they say. They’ll let you down. There is no feat that everyday humans are capable of that can live up to the way you see someone you’d regard as a “hero”, so when you meet the real human incarnation of that person who you have placed on such a high pedestal, its supposed to be disappointing. Maybe they aren’t very nice in person. Maybe everything you believed to be true about them was actually wrong. Instead of doing a lot of charity work, they do a lot of smack. Instead of making people happy, they make a people go to Starbucks for them 12 times because their coffee “tastes like roasted underboob sweat”. Throwing the rejected cups in the vicinity of that persons dome in the process. Instead of putting smiles on peoples faces, they put a gym sock on their hand and stick it down peoples throats. Although for this person, those things are one and the same. The point is, if your hero is a famous person, there’s a good chance fame might have opened up and swallowed their decency. I could never imagine approaching my hero and being ignored. How awful that would feel. But I know that kind of thing has happened to people in the past and that just makes me incredibly thankful to have had my own personal hero live up to my lofty expectations for him. That man is of course, the hardcore legend and former 3 time WWE Champion. Mick Foley.

foleyambrorollins

Hey Seth, I don’t want to alarm you or Ambrose here, but there’s a huge spider about to fall in at least one of our mouths right now.

I’m going to write a big review of the SECC show so I won’t say too much about his role on the show here, but it didn’t feel real. To see the company that I’ve personally been immersed in for 3 years, which was started over 8 years ago in a community centre in Maryhill, grow to the point that selling out the SECC was a real thing, AND having my idol appear ON that show was….a lot. When he appeared I thought I’d cry but I just smiled and watched in awe. Like the first time my maw put the Summerslam 90 VHS on and I saw my first ever hero Hulk Hogan, battering a villainous big lump of a man called Earthquake with a chair (I don’t actually remember smiling the same way at this, but we’re adding colour to the story here…emotional depth)

He was there right in front of us all. Not just fulfilling a date on a tour either, he was there because he loves wrestling and believes ICW do it correctly. He was happy to be in front of 4,000 wrestling fans hanging off his every word, because that’s where he belongs. In front of people who appreciate his influence on wrestling and the sacrifices he made. In front of people who would rate meeting him as a lifetime highlight. I’m one of those people. Meeting him at all was an incredible experience, but being told by 3 or 4 people BEFORE meeting him that he had been speaking highly of ME was just. I can’t absorb that. That’s not supposed to happen. Your hero isn’t supposed to know who you are, far less appreciate your work.

He spoke passionately about how ICW produced memories that would last a lifetime, well Mick mate, you created a memory that I will literally tell everyone about. Mum, dad, other half, best pals, pals in general, their pals, their pals grannies, the guy who serves me at Greggs, the wuman who serves me at Greggs (I don’t even go tae Greggs that much, but I’ll start for this) any bus driver on any bus journey I ever go on from now until the day I die, I’m even gonnae tell Stone Cold Steve Austin because he needs to know. Everyone does. Even those dafties who think wrestling is a joke because when it creates something as real and emotionally significant as this. It has to matter. It has to be more than that. He finally created a moment that ranks up there with that moment he won the WWE Title from The Rock on RAW. That time WCW told their whole audience it was happening, almost mocking it, only to see that audience change the channel in unison to witness Mankind take the title. All he had to do to create a memory that ranks up there with that one is just speak to me for a few minutes.

mickerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Mick Foley is someone who inspired me to believe that if you do things differently, you can still succeed. If you do things the way you believe in doing them, you can get to unimaginable places and you can experience things that once never seemed possible. Like having an all-time wrestling legend who also happens to be the only person outwith your own parents that you’d ever call a “hero” give you 15 minutes of his time. After performing for 2 hours and doing a meet and greet for another 2 hours, he still gave me that time and the opportunity to write this article and I will never forget that for as long as I live. And while this is based off the wild assumption that he will read this and thus give me even more of his time, I would like to thank Mick Foley from the bottom of my heart for inspiring everything I do, and more importantly I’d like to thank him for giving exposure to my work and the opportunity to conduct an interview with him. In his honour I’ve decided to mirror his vow to only drop “one f-bomb per show” so for one article only, I will limit myself to one use of the f-bomb. C-bombs, b-bombs and p-grenades are fair game though. He opened the show with a line as humble as he is.

“I’m not gonna be as funny as Billy Kirkwood”

Mick Foley emerged after 20 minutes of Billy warming up the crowd and basically told them “see that guy, him with the mad hair that talks about willies and fandans a lot? he’s much better at this than me” The ultimate endorsement. Billy is a brilliant guy and was the first person involved in wrestling to tell people about my stuff, so I might have teared up a wee bit hearing that, even though I didn’t because I’m a man and we don’t do that. Mick Foley doesn’t call these shows stand-up comedy shows because he’s not a comedian. He’s an entertainer with a million stories that he tells in a very unique way, but he doesn’t have a big enough ego to put himself in the same bracket as someone like Billy Kirkwood who makes a living from making people laugh.

billfoley

To balance all the Foley love out a wee bit, I’ll say he was spot on with that assessment. Billy was funnier than Mick, because he’s very good at what he does. A pish yer pants type of comedian. Mick Foley wasn’t there make anyone pish their pants. Mick Foley was there to captivate an audience of 200 or so people who were there absorb every word he said. A lot of those words formed to create stories that were f……..friggin hilarious (cheers to William Grange for the assist there, still got ma f-bomb) but it wasn’t a comedy show. It was a night to appreciate everything Mick Foley has given wrestling.

He said later in the show with a hint of very real sadness that Vince McMahon told him he no longer connected with the audience, well no offence to Vinny Mac. He obviously knows what he’s doing when it comes to wrestling, but he has never been more wrong with anything he’s ever said. People don’t buy books to read a man’s words, and buy tickets to hear a man speak if he no longer connects with them. The tickets for this show sold out in 5 hours and it didn’t have any sort of huge announcement. The show finished at around 11pm and I’d say at least 150 of the 200+ audience stayed for the meet and greet. A meet and greet where he handed out free signed pictures to show appreciation to the audience for coming out. Mate. You’re Mick Foley. You really don’t need to be appreciating us but I suppose him being the type of person who does do things like that was the reason we were all there in the first place.

Suppose I should talk about the interview itself eh? Well I had a wee list of topics I wanted to cover depending on how much time he had, and for some magical reason my brain pushed the most important questions to the front of the queue. It all happened very quickly so I forgot to glance at my notes before starting and all of a sudden there we were, and I had asked him for his impressions on Fear and Loathing 8, at the MOTHER-FU……NKING SOLD OUT SECC (still got that f-bomb in the holster)

mickerrrrrrrrrrramp

“I was so impressed on so many levels. Not only from a wrestling standpoint, but more importantly from an emotional standpoint.” A point he drove home in his promo at the start of the show and during the show at The Stand was how much emotional investment there is in ICW and particularly in that main event. He even brought a very hungover Drew Galloway out to chat for 5 minutes and even he seemed overwhelmed to be on stage with Mick Foley, before speaking passionately about everything ICW is and how much he believes in Grado’s ability to take it forward, even if he doesn’t always believe in himself. Thoughts that were mirrored by Mick.

“Grado is an amazing character. Such a great story. I honestly didn’t think he could be as good as he was in the ring. I don’t know what went into the match itself, I only know what I saw, and not only was it a top notch wrestling match, but the emotion surrounding it made it special. I think it’ll go down as a match that people remember for decades”

gradmickkkk

“There are moments in wrestling that people remember for the rest of their lives, and that’s the goal you strive for. It’s the goal I used to strive for, and I think those guys succeeded. A certain percentage of people will remember that match for the rest of their lives”

Mick spoke during his show about how it was Drew Galloway who first alerted him to ICW, when he asked him to take a look at the promo he cut when he first returned to the company in 2014. He even included a disclaimer about the swearing knowing that it’s something Foley avoids doing if possible. Plenty of f-bombs, mother f-bombs, and f-bomb the polis in that one but Mick saw the passion. Drew had an energy about him that has not only helped propel his own career since he was released from WWE, but its helped push ICW to the next level and having a figure like that to carry your title and defend it so impressively all over the country is exactly what ICW needed to have. It would take an impressive big ride of a man like Drew to provide an opponent worthy of that moment. The villain who was born with all the genetic gifts and talent in the world, against the hero with the wee belly, lion-sized heart and tremendous patter. Drew’s role in making that moment special was not understated by Foley. While he had to shuffle down the ramp without the acclaim from the crowd and Foley himself, he was as big a part of that moment as anyone.

“It was an exclamation point on the Drew Galloway resume. If I was Triple H or Vince McMahon I’d be on the phone to him right now if I’m honest with you. To have a guy that can help build a promotion, who can also tell and story and execute that story in the ring. I think ICW are very lucky to have him”

drwww

While that is no doubt true, you could say the same vice versa. Drew Galloway could have gone the same way as other talents WWE have released. Taking any booking under the sun and not really trying to make a mark on the wrestling landscape. Trying to get by more than anything. Drew needed something more. He needed to pull on his size (probably) 15 boots and stamp his foot on that landscape while shouting “I might not be on RAW playing air guitar anymore, but I fu…….lly matter. And I WILL be heard” ICW was the perfect place for him to make that impact. In front of a crowd that would most definitely react the way the promo was supposed to make them react. That was why it captivated Foley, because that sort of involvement from a crowd is so rare. It no doubt brings back memories of those special times in his own career where every single person in the building was invested and right now, there is no better wrestling company in the world at getting that type of reaction than ICW.

gradddooo

“I think Grado and Drew did a particularly good job of recapturing that energy that was spent over the 3 hours of the show. People had seen a lot, and been through a lot. With the cage match and everything else. So for those guys to come through, in a match that didn’t have stipulations…..”

Mick paused for a second, with a genuine look of pride on his face that he came to Scotland a saw two guys from the same town create a match that was so absorbing. Lost for words. If there’s any higher praise for a wrestling match than “had Mick Foley lost for words” god knows what it is (see that would have been an f-bomb there, but we’re saving it mate…wait for it) That wasn’t the highest praise he had for it though…

“It was impressive beyond my abilities to explain how impressive it was. It reminded me a lot of Ric Flair v Dusty Rhodes 1985. With Grado as the every-man, who is just over to a crazy extent, and Drew was just so impressive. Its high praise to put them up there, but I think you could go there”
drewfoley2
When I suggested Grado is almost the Scottish version of Dusty, Mr Foley seemed to approve. I know the comparisons have been drawn before but I don’t know if its had someone with such an undeniable impact on wrestling rubber-stamp it. If Grado ever thinks he hasn’t earned that title, as Drew touched on himself when he spoke. He’s the draw. Drew might have piqued the interest of a lot of wrestling fans when he returned, but Grado gets the man from the street off his arse to buy a ticket to ICW. Creating an atmosphere that’s more akin to the days of Dusty and Flair where most, if not ALL of the crowd had no idea wrestling was pre-determined, and were fully invested in the everymans genuine attempts to overcome the polished, slick . When Grado pinned Drew Galloway, people reacted like their favourite football team had just won the ICW title. Or eh….their favourite wrestler just scored the winning goal in the World Cup final…or…eh..naw wait..I’ll get it this time….
THEY REACTED LIKE GRADO HAD JUST WON THE ICW TITLE. BECAUSE GRADO HAD JUST WON THE FUCKING ICW TITLE. REJOICE!

gradmickkkkkkkkk

(f-bomb detonated)

Towards the end of the show, Foley noticed someone in the audience wearing Bayleys “I’m a hugger” t-shirt in the crowd and went on to speak fondly about his interactions with some of the women currently at WWE. Recalling a story of when his illusions about Sasha Banks and her character were shattered when she showed him a pic of a much younger, intimidated version of the “boss” posing with Mick many years ago. Something that showed him the person behind the character and really made her click with him. A moment that was no doubt repeated with every person he met last night, and a photo they recreated recently, just as Bayley approached Mick and he unwittingly pushed her out the way to get the photo with Sasha. An act he recalls with a laugh, although I doubt Bayley was offended. Any story of any interaction with Mick Foley is a decent one. Even if its “Mick Foley punched me in the mouth and called my mother a whore” its still a story involving Mick Foley doing something with you. Maybe add “then we went for ice cream” after the punching part though. Makes it sound a bit more of a Foley thing to do.

sashaaaaaaaaaaaa
He spoke  passionately about womens wrestling, and his unsuccessful attempts to woo the Bella Twins maw; bemoaning the fact that John Lauranitis took her away from him. I asked what he thought of the 3 way dance to crown the first ever ICW Women’s Champion. Having imposed his will on the match by inserting Viper into it at the very last moment.

“Mark (Dallas) came to me right after I cut my in-ring promo and told me I could go back to my dressing room and relax, or do whatever I wanted to do and I said ‘no….I’m gonna stay right here and watch everything I can’ and I was really impressed with not only the performance of the women in the ring…but the reaction of the crowd”

“There’s a tendency for people to compare ICW’s crowd, to ECW crowds in the mid 1990s, but I don’t know that the ECW crowds of that time would have given the women the same amount of respect. Their reaction to Viper when I came out and put her in the match was huge. I had to go back and ask someone what her back story was. As a guy who grew up being heavy set, and grew up being teased for being heavy set. I always worry about the public’s acceptance of larger individuals. They told me about her promo on the British Bootcamp show TNA did, and it made me think it may have been more successful in creating stars in Scotland than it was for TNA”

SNOOD

The hopefuls at the Glasgow auditions for the aforementioned show. Minus Grado who was at China Buffet King finishing aff a plate of king ribs

“It gave them a great platform for people to learn about the passion the wrestlers have, and I think ICW have been the main beneficiaries of that. But yeah….I really enjoyed the womens match. Another thing I never get tired of people appreciating me watching the matches backstage. Thats always a good thing.”

It shouldn’t be forgotten that for a lot of the performers on the show, meeting Mick Foley was as big a deal to them as it was to me. It raised a smile with Mrs Foleys baby boy (thats a cheap pop eh? I’ll only use it once, promise) when he spoke of his love for wrestlers almost being humbled at him watching their match. Jack Jester appeared at the show to ask a question and basically thanked Foley for being the reason he wanted to be a wrestler, and there’s so many people like that who maybe felt “different” and saw Mick Foley as the high priest of being a wee bit odd. ICW is the home of “different” in wrestling right now and it seems more than apt that Mick Foley slotted in to the show like he’d been there all along. He brought Mark Dallas on stage at one point and told us all the reason they shared a prolonged hug before Mick cut his promo. He pulled Dallas in close, looked deep into his eyes and asked “Mark….what am I supposed to say” Even a guy who’s seen and done it all forgot his line on the big stage, but as soon as Dallas prompted him, off he went. Dallas was on stage again later to give the best Vince McMahon impression I’ve ever heard. Well the voice was awrite, but the mannerisms were pure and utter Vince.

fol dal

Ah swear tae god Mick, you better no have tanned aw the Madoori.

Mick went on to explain the next steps in his career. Revealing that the one man show’s will be less frequent in 2016.

“I’m probably going to stop doing the one man show’s around March, for the rest of the year. I’ll just be taking a break to concentrate on other things. I’m gonna do a few more wrestling appearances too”

While Foley has made an undoubted impression on audiences of all descriptions, its continued interest from wrestling fans that have made his foray into the one-man shows a successful one, as I asked how he sees himself as a performer now. More of an all-round entertainer, or a wrestling personality.

“I think its hard to separate the two. If I was drawing 50% wrestling fans, and 50% fans of my spoken words, then I could say there was a distance between them. Regardless of whether I do a wrestling appearance, or an appearance at a comic book convention, or even at my own shows. Its mainly a wrestling audience. I’m very thankful to the dedication of the people that watched me when they were children”

Decent time to break this out I suppose. A picture of me when I was 11, wearing a halloween costume that was comprised of one of my dads shirts, an auld pair of brown leggings my mum had, a wig probably made of dug hair and a mask made by a friend of my mums. Here’s the entirely haunting image of me dressed as Mankind. Also probably breaking the record for different kinda of horrendous wallpaper captured in one picture. Don’t worry, I still live here, but I made sure we got better decorators over the past 15 years.

fol
Everybody loves Christmas. Except for the folk who are of other religions, or the folk who just plain don’t like it, but “everybody loves Christmas” makes for better reading, so we’ll go with that. Mick Foley loves Christmas more than you though. Mick Foley is currently undergoing a lifelong process to eventually morph into a real life Santa Claus, and he spoke about Christmas with as much passion as a lot of the wrestling things he spoke about. I had 15 minutes with Mick Foley and I never asked him about Hell In A Cell, or being the WWE Champion, or even being chucked directly into a barbed wire and explosives. I asked him “why dae you love Christmas mate?” Because the people need to know.

“I guess its a deep seeded thing. I’ve loved for as long as I remember, and I think there is a parallel between the years I’ve spent in the ring and the time I’ve spent in the red suit as ambassador for Father Christmas, and that if you do everything right…you can take someone to a really special place. I think that place, is a memory in the parents mind. If you can take them back to when they felt happiest as a child. You’ve done your job.”

foleyclaus

The Usos in a rare candid shot

“People think its for the kids, but its about the parents. They’re the ones with the huge smile. When I make the Christmas Eve visits, you can see grown people cry. That’s when you know you’re doing your job right ”

I remarked that Mick had done that at the SECC when he came out and there was a genuine burst of appreciation for that comment. The fact that me saying that to him meant anything is the reason he DOES still connect with the audience and will never stop connecting with them, because he actually gives a fu……..(ah I’ve used my f-bomb eh? och fuck it, I shouldn’t try to imitate a legend anyway so we’ll drop a few more) he actually gives a fuck if he entertains you or not. He didn’t come here to make the show about him, he came here to restore the balance between good and evil. Drew was flanked by the evil genius ICW GM Red Lightning, and a right bad yin in Jack Jester, so Grado needed a squad of goodies to counteract the baddies. He had Big Damo taking care of Jester, but Grado needed someone with authority that was a big enough hero to counteract Red Lightning’s villainous ways and Mick Foley served that purpose.

For the last question I had to ask if he’ll be gracing us with his presence again, and while no definitive answer was forthcoming, the feeling amongst everyone who was there that night, and Mick himself is that it went very well and we may very well have not seen the last of Mrs Foleys baby boy (ok, maybe I’ll use it twice…this is the last time though, I swear) on these shores. If Vince McMahon still thinks Mick Foley no longer connects with the audience, he should ask any of the 50 odd people still queueing to meet him after midnight last night if he still connects with them. People missing last buses and trains home just to steal the tiniest moment of his time. I’ll forever be extremely thankful that he saw me worthy to give me a full 15 minutes of it. Thank you Mick. For everything.

meandmick

Credit as always to David J.Wilson for the wonderful photos.

 


 

If you liked this and want to read more things of this nature, well tbh I don’t interview people like Mick Foley often, but there’s other good stuff on the site about all things wrestling. Particularly ICW and British Wrestling in general.

Follow @snapmarenecks and/or @smithycfc1 on Twitter, and like the Snapmare Necks Facebook page here if you so wish.

Thanks for reading!