Today Drew McIntyre is the fighting pride of Scotland. A hero who brought good news in a time where you would have been forgiven for forgetting is existed. There was once a time where not everyone in Scotland loved Drew Mctinyre. As unfathomable as it might seem now, there was a time where not many people believed what happened at Wrestlemania 36 was possible. When Drew was released from WWE in 2014 his stock was low. He’d admit it himself. If he continued to just be happy to be a part of the show then that’s all he’d have ever been.
Happy is a major stretch but I don’t think Drew was on the verge of quitting at the time his release came. It might have taken another year or two before he finally broke but the company done the hard bit for him and cut ties. For the first time since he was 20, Drew McIntyre was officially Drew Galloway again and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. He needed to be Drew Galloway again. For himself and for the people who did still give a shit. He needed to give them reasons to keep believing and he needed to find ways to get the rest on board.
The best wrestlers are able to create a feeling with their work. A feeling that draws the audience in even if that audience hates you. Drew understood that after his release there would be a period he’d be wildly popular, but it wouldn’t be everlasting. People get it. We’ve all got eyes. He’s comfortably six inches taller than every other person in Scotland. He looks like someone made a sculpture of a greek god out of granite and taught it how to decapitate folk with dropkicks. No matter how successful it got for Drew in his time outwith WWE it was always his destiny to go back. How long it would take was entirely up to him.
He knew he needed to work harder. He took on a travel schedule that bordered on insanity when you don’t have a major company setting everything up for you. By his own admittance he had to grow up and learn how to do it all on his own. If he had to be in Glasgow 24 hours after a booking in New York, he’d be in Glasgow ready to go. If he needed to be in Australia 45 minutes after he’s main evented the Citadel in Ayr, yer man would make it down under in time to help the crew set up the ring. He was just everywhere. Somehow. People were invested even if they weren’t fully sure if he was their guy. They wanted to find out.
He became a figurehead for a plethora of companies but the one that mattered most to him was always ICW. The first company he wanted to appear for after his release was ICW. Fuck the 90 days, let’s do it now. The bandwagon all of a sudden was hurtling towards The Barrowlands as Drew looked to dethrone the champion who had reigned supreme for a year. His best pal Jack Jester. He was one of the folk who still cared when times were hard and Drew wasn’t even on TV pre 3MB days. A true friend who saw that Drew just wasn’t the same guy who had left for the WWE. Drew Galloway wasn’t this big surly guy who instantly mistrusted anyone he didn’t know, but Drew McIntyre was. Drew Galloway wasn’t a guy who was settled in his role as comic relief on Monday Night RAW, but for a time Drew McIntyre was. He had to find that guy again and start kicking down doors.
The 3MB stuff wasn’t completely useless. He bonded with Jinder Mahal both in 3MB and when they were both released on the same day. If you’d have told them they’d both win the WWE Title within 6 years they’d have laughed at you. Jinder might have anyway. Drew would have joined him but in the back of his mind he’d have known it was possible. He just had to make it possible. The tools were always there. The other purpose 3MB served was Drew discovering the heid removing scud missile that is the Claymore. 3MBs trouser situation was very leathery and very very shiny, Drew slipped and basically fell into a big single leg dropkick and it looked good so why the fuck not? Fast forward six years and the big man has whole arenas counting down from 3 before he hits it.
That’s what Drew does better than most. He makes people give a shit. When he papped Brock Lesnar out of a Royal Rumble he was dominating it was an announcement that the time for fucking about was over. No more aimless stables. No more “one of the favourites” for the Rumble. No more assumptions that he’d make it to the top one day. It was happening NOW. His first World Title win wouldn’t be on one of the weekly shows, or a wee run of the mill PPV with a mad gimmick. It was happening in front of the biggest crowd wrestling pulls on a yearly basis. 70 odd thousand in a stadium. Millions gripped at home or in the pub. All eyes on the moment Drew slayed The Beast. Then it happened. It all changed. Fuck.
When the whole thing started I think most people assumed Wrestlemania would happen whenever it could happen in front of an audience. It was admirable that WWE were giving it a go and doing the weekly shows in the safest environment they possible could at The Performance Centre but it didn’t seem likely that Wrestlemania 36 would still happen.
While I’m not entirely sure why it actually did go ahead, they done an excellent job making it something that didn’t make the current blanket depression we’re all suffering from feel worse. It often made life feel normal at a time when it…well….isnae. It was occasionally gripping at a time where the only thing you can remember gripping you is the fear. The cinematic stuff was proper escapism and certainly in Taker and AJs case, still very much felt like wrestling. Drew’s moment deserved an audience but more than anything else it just deserved to happen.
If they were going ahead with Wrestlemania 36 in front of an audience of Mojo Rawley, Mojo Rawley if he was in the NFL, Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and JBL then having Brock Lesnar beat Drew would have been the worst climax to a Wrestlemania ever. It just wouldn’t make sense. Brock is at his very best when he’s just beat the guy everyone wanted to win and crowd is sickened by it. With no crowd it could only be Drew. People needed the moment. They needed to feel something that wasn’t deflation.
If you’re Scottish the feeling was nothing but joy when the ref counted three after the last Claymore. The match would have gone a lot longer and would have been a hard hitting work of art if it was in normal circumstances but for the time they had, they managed to tell a story. A guy who was F5’ed out of his loafers in the final throes of the 3MB days managed to take 50 of the fucking things and still kick out.
When Drew re-signed with WWE he returned to a name that had once represented everything he hated about his career. It was attached to unfulfilled potential despite the early success he had with it and he needed to turn those failures into titles. He needed the name to provoke excitement rather than indifference followed by the faint sound of an air guitar. He needed the name to be taken seriously again. Winning the NXT Title was the first step but then an injury robbed him of the best part of a year of this redemption. Lesser folk might have let it get to them.
Waiting all that time to get back to the big time just to see all his momentum derailed must have been crushing. How often have we seen it as wrestling fans over the years when someone who had the world at their feet is never quite the same after an injury when they were heading for the top? Drew wasn’t letting it happen this time. Coming back from an injury is nothing when you’ve come back from the dead. He left a silhouette of that 3MB guy behind him, forgot how to shave, and learned how to boot the utter shite out of folk again.
Brock Lesnar’s role in the whole story should never be understated. Think what you like about Brock, he maybe gives a shit what 4 or 5 people actually employed by WWE think so the idea of him giving a fuck what people on the internet think is hilarious. He comes in for his shift, sells everything thrown at him, leathers folk he doesn’t like, has one of the best talkers of all time do his talking for him, and he goes home to ride Sable as your World Champion.
What he done for Drew at the Royal Rumble was unprecedented. No one who isn’t already a legend in wrestling has got the better of Brock so decisively the first time they properly went toe to toe. It would have been 100% believable if Brock went on to win the whole thing so the fact that Drew crashed the party half way through and booted him clean over the ropes (assist to Richard O’Shea for the wee baw boot beforehand) before staring through him as if he was saying “Ye sure there’s no one worthy of a shot of that title?” was remarkable. A huge moment in an era where not a lot feels so significant.
The whole story from the start was designed to make Drew looked as strong as possible. Brock almost scoffing at the locker room and deciding to win the Royal Rumble when he already had the Title just for the fuck of it was begging for someone to dislodge his jaw. He needed to be put in his place but the fact that the guy who done it had never even had a shot at the WWE Title never mind won it made it special. It was Drew’s arrival at the top table as the expense of one of the most dominant forces to ever step inside a wrestling ring. Whenever Wrestlemania was going to happen the moment was always going to be he is and as much as the official attendance will always be an eerie wee zero, we were all there with the big man in spirit. The World Champion is from Ayr, Scotland and that will never be anything other than a beautiful thing no matter how chaotic the world gets.
When Drew Mcintyre was released from WWE in 2013 there was no precedent there for a return that could yield any real success. Sure WWE had re-signed guys in the past and used them but never to any kind of meaningful extent. The biggest part of that is probably due to many of these talents not having a wrestling background or any kind of real love for wrestling before they were signed, so once the WWE journey was at its end, so was the wrestling one. Any released talents with a bit of name value will give the indies a wee taste of the exact act they seen on TV for years (rumour has it some will even refuse to lose on said indies because it would send shockwaves round the wrestling stratosphere if Chavo Guerrero loses in Saltcoats) but won’t make any big attempt to deviate from that act. Even guys like Cody Rhodes, who has since gone on to re-invent himself and revolutionise wrestling in many ways, struggled to separate himself from his WWE past when he first started making appearances outwith WWE. It was never the done thing until Drew took approximately an hour to lick his wounds after his release before deciding the only way to respond was to really fucking respond. Attack is the best form of defence as they say, so Drew decided to defend his reputation by attacking the whole wrestling world.
He started in the most natural place possible. Glasgow. In front of a 1,000+ crowd who were all there for ICW pre Drew Galloway. They had been there for many months before as ICW worked towards one of the biggest shows in their history, yet few could have anticipated the change of gears that was to come for the company on that night. As good auld JR would say, business well and truly picked up that night when just a few short days after his WWE release, TAFTKA Drew Mcintyre re-emerged as Drew Galloway and threw petrol on the already roaring ICW fire, taking the company and his own career to another level. Few would have predicted that night that Drew was just 6 years away from Claymore Kicking Brock Lesnar out his boots and out the ring on the way to winning the Royal Rumble, but you could feel something special was happening. It was like the shackles had been taken off and years of frustration melted away in the form of the absolute tanking he gave the NAK that night. Seemingly in aid of his auld pal Jack Jester before he turned on him as well and kicked off one of the most engaging feuds in British Wrestling history. Jack Jester vs Drew Galloway headlining the famous Barrowlands Ballroom for the ICW Title.
He spent the next 3 years of his career conquering the wrestling world. Putting himself through a schedule that would make WWE talent wince. Putting his physical and mental health in jeopardy to chase this dream all over again. This time Drew wasn’t going to rest on his laurels. He no longer existed as a wrestler with a steady job, frustrated but almost content to wait for a proper opportunity to come along as part of the WWE family. Drew knew that if he was ever going to achieve what he wanted to in wrestling that he was going to have to show them why they were wrong. He was going to have to show them exactly how Drew Galloway makes wrestling companies better. Particularly the ones who show enough faith in him to have them leading the charge as their champion. Every company he touched in that time he made better. ICW done incredible numbers and had some of the most memorable feuds in their history happen while he was there both as champion and in his time without the title, following Grado’s victory over Drew in front of an unprecedented 4,000 strong crowd at the SECC.
ICW would go on to top that number the following year after pulling 6,000+ in at The Hydro but the feud that took ICW to a 4,000 sell out well in advance of the show was Grado vs Drew. Never has a more effective portrayal of the battle between good and evil been portrayed in a wrestling ring as the towering madman prepared to behead ICWs favourite son only be be thwarted by a herculean effort from Grado that sent the SECC wild when he eventually dethroned the champion a year after he’d taken the title from Jack Jester. Many bigger foes, both in size and reputation, had tried to take the title that Drew had turned into a World Title during his reign but none had the almighty pull of 4,000 fans almost unanimously wanting you to do it. It takes a special kind of villain to make that kind of scenario possible. It takes a special kind of wrestler to turn people shedding tears of joy at the sight of you, to them baying for your blood in just over a year, but that’s what Drew is. Special.
His impact was felt all over the world as he took the Evolve Title soon after his release and was a mainstay there until his re-signing with WWE. Drew sent the video of his ICW return to Mick Foley who was so taken aback by the reaction and subsequent kicking he handed out that he texted Triple H and told him to keep an eye on that big Scottish unit they’d just released. Ironically the same Mick Foley would help Grado end Drew’s ICW Title reign as he took up the role as commissioner for the night, but he has forever been one of Drew’s biggest advocates. The more you look at Drew’s tenure away from WWE the more it looks like a hugely impressive audition tape to be a main guy in WWE. Dealing with an insane amount of travel, making an impact in locations on all corners of the globe, and having a genuine will to study the game he was already better than most at to become one of the very best on the planet, which he undoubtedly is now. Suddenly there was an upside to being released that few had ever seen before. Sure working with WWE is the most secure job you can have as a full time pro wrestler, but there is so much more to the pro wrestling world than one massive company. There’s audiences all over the world looking for talent that makes them stand up and take notice. Drew didn’t take his release as the end of the journey, more of a diversion than was still leading him to where he wanted to be. Something that felt like it was destined for him from the moment he stepped in a wrestling ring. Becoming WWE Champion.
The Greatest Royal Rumble?
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar entered the 2020 Royal Rumble at number one, insisting that no one on the roster came close enough to be considered for a title shot on that show. He was booked for a shift anyway and when you’re on that rota, even if yer Brock Lesnar, you better haul your arse in tae work. Brock decided not to fuck about, and if there was to be no title match he’d just go ahead and win that big battle royal everyone goes on about. Perhaps earning himself a night off at Wrestlemania this year when he secured the main event spot against himself. If they insisted on having him compete that night he could pull Michael Cole up from the announce desk for a game of heiders while Brock vs Brock plays out to a time limit draw.
It was all going swimmingly for Brock as he produced a masterful display. Eliminating 14 competitors consecutively and selling absolutely everything all 14 of them were about. Elias had his sing song interrupted by pure unfiltered rage. John Morrison was launched all the way back to the Impact Zone. Keith Lee was given the respect he undoubtedly deserves as Brock looked in genuine awe at the sight of the big man, asking Paul Heyman “Who’s this motherfucker?!” in the first moment that had looked like anything approaching worry since the match kicked off. The heartwarming reunion with Shelton Benjamin made you genuinely believe Brock Lesnar actually has friends for a minute before he tossed him out. Kofi Kingston and Big E made you believe in magic for a minute but he was too smart for all of them. Even when Braun Strowman joined Keith Lee in the ring, they decided fighting each other was a better move than joining forces to get rid of Brock and they got what they deserved. Despite his amazing music that Brock bopped along to like a King of all the Da’s, MVP was never a threat. It all looked a bit too easy until Ricochet appeared.
Ricochet’s role in launching Drew towards the biggest moment of his career cannot be understated. It was the perfect moment. Hurting from the embarrassment Brock had inflicted on him on RAW the previous week, Ricochet was in no mood to be dumped out quick and had Brock reeling before Brock overpowered him. Only this time he was out of time. The next guy was due in. No time to get Ricochet out before then, deal with him in a minute eh. When the next guy is 6 foot 5, built like a brick shithouse, and absolutely not fucking scared of you, it becomes a whole different ball game. Drew was not having it and if Brock had to be one of the men he took out to get to where he wanted to go, so be it. The assist from Ricochet was just an opening for Drew that he was always looking for anyway. A thunderous boot in the baws from Ricochet stunned Brock, and with him perched just a few yards from the ropes, Drew went for it. Like a predator catching a glimpse of the jugular of its prey, he swooped in in what felt like a millisecond and Claymored the beast over the top rope. 14 consecutive eliminations. Looking like he was going to make good on his promise to chuck all 29 other competitors out. All gone in an instant. All gone because a big guy from Ayr with a degree in seizing the fucking moment decided this was his time.
Here’s the thing about Brock. Brock’s incredible at this. He always has been. Disliking him for having enough name value to be a pro wrestler on his terms is cutting your baws off to spite your dick. Enjoy what he does rather than moaning about what he doesn’t do. He is absolutely capable of phoning it in and producing below par matches but even that stuff has more to interest you than most of what goes on in wrestling. His selling is better than most because he knows selling is about more than making offensive moves look good. Its in every single thing you do opposite an opponent. Getting wide eyed and giving it “A big boy!” when Keith Lee came out is selling the fuck out of Keith Lee’s attributes. Fly kicking John Morrison in the ribs is selling the fuck out of John Morrison deserving a kick to the ribs. Bopping along to MVPs tune is selling the fuck out of MVP having an absolute banger as his tune. Its all selling and his appearance was a masterclass in the art but none of it was more masterful than how he sold Drew eliminating him and that’s why they could potentially have one of the most hotly anticipated WWE Title matches in Wrestlemania history. You could have picked Paul Heyman’s jaw off the floor as he gazed at the big ride that had made short work of his client. Brock managed to tell a story all in facial expressions, as shock turned to anger, anger turned to grudging respect, and grudging respect quickly turned to a need for revenge. Brock Lesnar has had matches with months of build that didn’t feel as significant as this
The reaction when Drew chucked Roman Reigns over the top to secure his place in history was such a heartening one. It wasn’t the roar of a crowd that was 100% with him and expected his victory from the start. It was a crowd who felt change in the air.
Despite an injury derailing his run as NXT Champion, Drew had done nothing but show the WWE top brass from the moment he was re-signed that he was ready for this. Taking on any and all media stuff the company asked him to do. Producing high quality matches in the ring, although at this point that part its probably the easiest bit for a guy who has wanted this since he was merely 6 foot tall 15 year old. Becoming a constant reminder to the roster that there’s no excuse for not giving this everything. No excuse for becoming complacent and picking up a wage for doing little or nothing. His promo work has been scathing since his return but so it should be. As much as the company is very capable of making questionable decisions at the end of the day its up to the performer to make or break their own career. If you have the audience with you, the opportunities will be there. What each individual does with those opportunities is on them. There’s no doubt Drew was given a big opportunity at Wrestlemania last year when he was put up against the companies golden boy Roman Reigns in his first big match since returning from beating cancer and Drew provided the villain Roman needed that night. He was defeated but just having that match was enough to at least give you the feeling they were considering giving the ball to Drew and the big man was more than ready to Claymore that ball right in to the top corner.
RAW the next night told you all you need to know about how people feel about Drew being the man to face Brock at Wrestlemania. He got an ear bursting reaction as he emerged to address the crowd and let them know who he intended to face and wasted little time in telling everyone he is not afraid of Brock Lesnar. Respectful of him and wary of what he can do physically but there is not one bit of fear in the man who must feel the long road to becoming WWE Champion is nearing its end. As he looked to the heavens after his win, no doubt paying regard to his mum who always believed he’d get there and his old mate Lionheart who would have been so proud to see someone from the same wee town in Scotland as him fulfilling his dreams, you could tell he felt the hard work was finally getting him where he wanted to be. There’s only one thing left for the big man to do. Slay the beast. Become the main man WWE sorely need to lead the next generation. If there’s one thing Drew has proved beyond any reasonable doubt is if you are a wrestling company and you put your faith in him, good things happen.
He was always supposed to be “RUDO”. Even when success came as Red Lightning , Andrew Wason always wanted to shed that name. A name he never liked to begin with. A name given to him from a time where perhaps not a huge amount of fore-thinking went into these things. He’s taken a stoat down the road less travelled to get here, but finally he is what he wants to be in wrestling.
Even if he is one of the few talented enough at other aspects of wrestling to get by without doing the actual wrestling part, he is a performer. He wants to wrestle. In February he won his second ICW Square Go a full 7 years after he won it the first time. A fairytale? Maybe. But more than that, it has been the result of a lot of hard work and an unshakeable belief that he was made to do this. He was made to be a performer and all the trials and tribulations have only led to him being hungrier for success than he ever has been. He took us back to the 2012 win first.
“I wasn’t really meant to be in that spot. Of my group of pals, Jester, Lionheart, Wolfgang, Drew etc. They were the wrestlers. I wasn’t the wrestler. That’s the story of my career I suppose. That’s what got me over. Being different. They were very interested in the in-ring stuff, and they are all fantastic at it, but I really put my focus on a different element of wrestling. That being the character side. That got me to the Square Go initially”
A lot of personal grief is tied in to that time period. Tragedy that made wrestling nothing more than an afterthought but then the Square Go win also turned it into a much needed distraction.
“It was difficult for me to process the 2012 Square Go because it all happened very quick. It was in the January. My partner and I lost a baby. She was pregnant throughout that period and then unfortunately, late on, we lost the baby. I just had to take a bit of time away really. To process that and everything that happened. If I’m honest, and Dallas said to me in the past as well… first title run served as a way to help me back in to wrestling and gave me a distraction after having suffered such a personal tragedy. That’s the circumstance that sort of led to me being the champ“
That outlet became essential for both the performer and man. While he doesn’t see it as a positive period in his career in a lot of ways, and its certainly wasn’t a positive time personally, it was a period where he was the best villain in the game. Such an arsehole he drove many a dafty fan to try their luck during his title run. I personally witnessed folk square up to him more than once. Perhaps fully committing to being a villain is a wee bit easier when negative emotions are powering you every day.
“My mental health was poor throughout the first title run. I think as well, I had put what had happened in to the back of my mind. Staying busy was the most important thing. That was around the time the Oran War and Kelvin Brawl was happening so it was all go for a long time and that suited me. I suppose I was just using wrestling as an outlet back then. As a way of expressing myself. I was a different character back then. We were all in that phase of sort of shooting on each other as it were“
“Everything had to be based in reality. I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder anyway, about life, so it was easy for me to get fully invested in that, but I took it too far sometimes. I was admittedly at times (not often) rude to people. That was just my coping mechanism for everything that happened in that time period but I regret a lot of it now”
As tragic and life affirming as losing a child must be, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. His partner falling pregnant again during the title run was a blessing and perhaps marked the start of the healing process mentally.
“Fortunately my partner actually fell pregnant again. That happened after I’d won the title. I dropped it right after my son was born because I was going away in a paternity leave type situation. My head wasn’t in the game. Because of what had happened before I was worried about there being problems again. Thankfully it was all ok. My sons 6 now and he’s very much alive *laughs” “
Anyone with a child in that age range will know exactly what Rudo meant by ‘very much alive’ but I’m sure he wouldn’t have it any other way. After losing the title there was a bit of a down period and at a time of rough mental health its hard to separate a natural dip after a very busy and successful spell with something more. It has taken pretty much all of that 7 year spell for Rudo to realise that his spot was always there for him. All he had to do was put forward the very best version of himself.
“I took quite a drop after I lose the belt because that was it for me in essence. After Kelvin Brawl, I was in an out a lot. The injuries had taken their toll. It was an uncertain time for me. This Square Go, we get here because, not because im the best wrestler on the show. Again it was emphasis on character that got me there. The circumstances are different. I’ve dealt with a lot of my demons”
Dealing with demons is something like a constant negotiation. They never go away fully but you can placate them. Send them on their way to other pursuits while you can get on with your life in the meantime. Learning how to deal with this and making peace with the fact that you’ll probably never eradicate them is half the battle and Rudo is set in a very healthy routine when it comes to dealing with the bad spells. Head down. Keep quiet. Let it pass.
“For me now, you need to be able to see when something is wrong or when something like that is going to happen. Personally now I just shut myself away and let it pass. That might take a few days or a couple of weeks but…it does pass“
“There’s people I’ve spoken to in the past that feel mental health can affect their wrestling or training. Wrestling should be your outlet for this stuff. It gives a sense of wellbeing and something to do. Something to look forward to. If you’re having a bad time this is a good thing to do. You’ll meet like minded people”
Having dealt with these issues and later becoming a trainer, it puts Rudo in the best possible position to deal with the multitude of individuals and their issues that pass through GPWA. Indeed, he sees it as not only a way of learning how to wrestle, but a way of learning how to live. Many have come through the Asylum door and transformed themselves. Learning a skill in the process. The importance of having an outlet when your mental health wavers cannot be underestimated and Rudo went on to explain just how common these issues are in wrestling, and at the same time how wrestling is the perfect remedy for them.
“Everybody in wrestling has experienced it (mental health issues) in some way. Just because of the nature of what we do. There’s anxiety tied in. Performance anxiety. Comparing yourself to others. Its definitely something you can throw yourself in to. Even if you aren’t feeling great. It gives you a sense of achievement and for me, that can make you feel valued. It can make you see things differently and think differently”
“In my personal journey I found medication didn’t really help. The thing is. I tried a few different ones. One made me worse. One did suppress the way I felt but I felt made me numb. I felt it suppressed all feelings I was having. So it was hard to get motivated. Even positive thoughts and feelings aren’t there
“I was going through the motions. Everything just becomes routine and you aren’t up or down. That maybe led to me having a lot of the issues I had in wrestling. It led to a massive weight gain as well because of the chemical changes it brings about”
There are certainly pitfalls to taking anti-depressants. Speaking from experience nothing Rudo said about them is untrue but there are more severe cases that make the drawbacks worth it. Worth it just to see some sort of order and contentment come in to your life. Weight gain has been the issue that has lingered the most since coming off medication, as well as becoming a bit more prone to injuries, as he went on to explain.
“I was always around the 12-13 stone mark and went up to about 16 when I was on them and have struggled since, so its never left me. I don’t feel even since then, even when I’ve very small bouts of depression and anxiety that I’d ever consider going back on them
“I’ve always found other ways to take it away or ease it. My personal coping mechanism is just shutting the door, keeping quiet, watching a TV show, a film, reading a book or something. That sounds basic and I understand people have far more complexed issues that aren’t going to be taken away by a box set but that’s just my way“
“Eating is another coping mechanism and that can cause health issues. It has done for me. The anti depressants were in my opinion partly to blame for me getting injured in the first place. My body was fuckin falling apart at the time. Up to that point I was always very fit and had never been hurt then suddenly I’m here with this bad injury”
Whilst his own experience may not be one he’d be keen to repeat, Rudo was keen to drive home that every person responds differently and the effectiveness of these medications will vary based on the severity of the case but don’t just accept that its the only path you can go down if you’re suffering.
There are other ways to get a grip on it or at least attempt to do so. It was an experience while wrestling for PBW during the Belladrum Festival that led him to make the decision to come off the medication. Despite wrestling in an exciting environment well out of everyone’s comfort zone, there was no enjoyment there.
“Maybe people have good experiences on them, I’m not doubting that, but I didn’t. I feel doctors see it as an easy way out. If you’re lucky they’ll tell you some of the bad side effects but more often than not they wont. If I’d known (what side effects there could be) I’d never have taken it. I’d have found another way.
“I know that’s not possible for some people. I completely understand that and as I said, I considered my own case to be quite mild in comparisant to some. I’m just speaking from a personal point of view. You’re fighting a losing battle with your feelings and you take this tablet that fucks with all your hormones“
“I had massive sugar cravings and all that. Not being able to get out of bed was a big problem. We done Belladrum a few years back for the first time. Exciting situation. Wrestling at a festival. I was taking Mitrazipine at the time. Which just makes you feel like a zombie. It absolutely killed my thoughts. I couldn’t enjoy this weekend at all because of these tablets and that’s when I thought, no more”
His advice for anyone who may be going through similar struggles is a simple as it gets. If there’s something or someone in your life consistently pulling you down? Don’t put up with it. The option is always there to remove that problem. Be it a person, an activity you dread, or ever supporting Partick Thistle. The option is always there to remove the thing that’s making you miserable.
“I’m just a quiet guy. Zero drama. Aw the shite in yer life…just drap it. If there’s someone in your life causing aggro, just get fucking rid. People take that literally but if there’s somebody in your circle that has a negative effect on you. Its rude to turn round and tell them you’re removing them, but you do have the choice to interact with them less. For a very long time I just enjoyed being at home. I had my family there. I felt comfortable. Its my house. There was just no drama there. I was in control”
Another solid bit of advice, echoed by Kid Fite in a recent Facebook post on his mental health, is warning against using substances to cope. It may provide short term relief. That short term relief may be extremely effective, but it remains a very short term release. Leaving your body craving more of whatever your poison may be.
Alcohol can be the absolute worst in the sense that it is a depressant. Chucking it on top of the existing depression that courses through you on a daily basis is akin to madness. A bit like a diabetes patient cracking open a big bag of sugar and tanning it in one go. It just doesn’t make sense. There was a stage where Rudo did feel the drinking was out of control but nowadays he wisely steers clear of the demon drink. Instead he blows off steam by eviscerating folk on the mic and winning aw the Rumbles.
“I used to be out and about all the time. Drinking. At one point in my life I do feel I had a drink problem and I just stopped. If you’ve got a hangover with depression it isn’t the best mixture. There’s obviously different scales. People who are suffering more than you and I. Some people do need medication and thats fine. I felt that my case was relatively light and I felt that my doctor jumped on the medication route pretty quick. There was an option there for me to not go on them just yet and maybe it was one of those things. It might have gone a lot different for me if I didnt” Coming off the medication didn’t happen because Rudo wanted to give everything to wrestling. It was wanting to be the absolute best father he could be that eventually led to the decision being made to come off the medication and try to find another way.
Its a strange feeling when these medications fully leave your system. There’s an adjustment period where you have to get used to feeling absolutely everything again as Rudo describes.
“When I came off them I felt this massive haze disappear. This clarity. Over the space of 2 years this clarity came over me. All of this kicked off when I decided I was stopping taking them. Because I felt…this is fucking with me a wee bit” It was just something that I had to do. It was a period of my life where I did what I could to function” “If I was to give anyone any advice, it would just be that people need to be self aware. Aware of any genetic issues that might arise as well and make sure you aren’t more at risk than the average person. There may have been a history of MH and alcoholism in my family. I had to remind myself of these things to stop going down a very dark path. When my son was born I stopped all that”
There was a time where Rudo even considered bringing his struggles with mental health in to his wrestling persona, but it became problematic. When the thing you use to escape becomes intertwined with the thing you’re trying to escape from, its no longer an escape. Why be your heavily depressed self in a thing like pro wrestling when you can be literally anything else.
“I’m relatively open about it. Back when I cut a promo about it. I was trying to turn it into something creative. I was like ‘this is how i feel right now, lets try and do something with it’ I don’t think there’s ever been a wrestling character who’s diagnosed with depression. I ended up not liking it because it was me bringing it in to my work. Weighing me down a bit and taking a bit of joy away from something that served as a good distraction”
Rudo sat opposite me for the whole 2 hours we spoke as a man who didn’t appear as someone who suffered with mental health issues for so long. That has to be inspiring to anyone out there going through this. It inspired me and is a big part of the reason I was even able to write this interview up at all. He is living proof that even if its hard and you lose that battle of wills with your own mind on occasion…YOU CAN GET BACK UP.
You can show this soul sucking devil of a thing that you are in control and regaining that control over your life can be such a freeing thing. Even if its not permanent, with every battle you win confidence grows. A feeling that even if its a real fucking slog…YOU CAN DO IT.
“There’s no better feeling than when you do get through things like that. Being able to sit and say to yourself…I’ve done this man. I’ve been able to get through to this. There’s days when you are going through it when you do want to give up and when you get better, you’re glad you didn’t”
“Between the two Square Go’s. After 2012 Square Go everything went awry for me. That led right into quite a serious injury. 2019 is essentially me picking back up where I left off all that time ago, with a clear mind. A lot more mature and focused”
A comeback to wrestling on shows brought about an opportunity to finally solidify a name change he had wanted to implement for a long time. As much as the name Red Lightning had name value because of what Andrew Wason achieved while using then name, it still wasn’t cool. It wasn’t really anything truth be told. Like one of they toys you pick up in the corner shop that has a hilarious replacement name for a well known cartoon character so the toy company disnae get sued to fuck. The introduction of the “RUDO” Sports and Entertainment brand after The Black Label had disbanded allowed the Rudo name to seep into people conciousness, making it easier for Red Lightning the wrestler to become Rudo for good.
“I’ve wanted to be Rudo Lightning for a long time. I told Wolfgang that 5 years ago. Thats what I wanted to go by. Its difficult to change it when you’ve used one name. The Rudo brand opened the door for it. In my mind that was the first step to transitioning in to using it. Joe (Coffey) started referring to me as Rudo. It got to the point where I realised I could go with that name full time and no one would really bat an eyelid. From a branding perspective, its much more respectable. It sums up me because it has wrestling significance. People get it”
Despite all the success as “Red Lightning” its not a name he has any affinity for even in retrospect. Its always been daft and now its gone. It has gone the same way as all the personal demons. Right on the scrap heap. A new dawn. A new day. A new life. And he’s feeling good.
“Red Lightning was always a stupid name. It was just one of they things that stuck. I’ve never liked it. It was embarassing. There was a point I was gonnae drop the Lightning and just be Red, but it never happened. I wanted something more marketable. It was embarrassing to tell people. Like workmates or people not involved in wrestling, they as what you’re wrestling name is and you tell them Red Lightning. They go “whit? it sounds like an energy drink” *laughs*
It would have probably been easier to ease into and accept the name if it was ever his own idea but being given the name removed any kind of attachment to it. Maybe a good thing when it comes to fully committing to something else.
“It wasn’t my idea either. I was just given it by a promoter and it stuck. Suddenly its 5 years later, then its 10-15 years later and its stuck. WWE or anyone else are never going to call you that or take you seriously with that name“
“Take Wolfgang for example. That’s instantly a wrestling name. Its not beyond the realm of possibility that this guy is called Wolfgang. Lionheart is another one that has significance. Jack Jester stands out. At least if I went with Rudo and become known as that, it means something”
Every wrestler is influenced by someone. You have to be. If you aren’t you’ll probably be pretty shite at it. Rudo has always stood out for a variety of reasons but when you strip it back and hear the various influences that have combined to make the Rudo we see today, it makes a bit more sense. Maybe having influences that are at opposite ends of the scale is the key to making it work. The strongest of those influences being World Of Sport mainstay, Rollerball Rocco. “The man who trained was Spinner Mckenzie. He was part of WoS at the time Rollerball Rocco was arounf. Didn’t do TV that much, but he was on the circuit. Spinner came to our school one day. He had a website called British Wrestling Database and came under the guise of a reporter but really he was there to check the school out. Over the next few weeks I started to learn a bit more about him. Eventually he became our trainer”
This was a time where it wasn’t as easy as a quick Youtube search to find out what to expect for a performer. Rudo went on a fact finding mission to consume as much Rollerball Rocco as he could. Sourcing DVDs that sparked a childhood memory.
“I went online and managed to find some DVDs of his work. Around 2004-2005. I put it on and I recognised him right away. The gear, the moustache, the whole look. I thought I’d seen this guy before. It turned out he was one of my granda’s favourites. I was too young for it at the time, but he watched re-runs and stuff like that and at some point ive seen this guy on the telly and hes seeped into my consciousness”
That was it. The vision was there. If everyone else is doing it a certain way, what better way is there to stand out than by going about your work completely differently.
“So when I seen him it sparked me and I just started watching it. I thought the landscape of wrestling as it is now, everyone’s watching the likes of ROH and everyone’s influenced by them. Then you had the WWE guys who were influenced by that. There was nobody doing this British stuff or next to no one anyway”
“I committed myself to coming up with a style. Very influenced by Johnny Saint and Rocco. They way he moved, his subtle mannerisms. I just thought….I could be a modern version of this guy. I’m not saying I’m just like him, because I’m not, but the character. That’s what it is. It has steaks of that and i just thought, I need to stick to that”
Rollerball Rocco may influence the gear and his era may have shaped Rudo’s wrestling style but the attitude and constant aversion to having any kind of decent relationship with his boss is all Stone Cold. Their dynamic has always pitted Rudo as the baddie of the dynamic but the current storyline which led to Rudo winning the Square Go this year is very much a throwback to the days of Austin being right in the face of his arsehole boss attempting to deny him of things he and the fans feel he deserves.
“At the moment I’m sort of fine tuning and honing the character. Someone was going to get in Dallas’ face that night and I don’t think anyone for a second thought it would be me…until it happened. Then it made all the sense. Tapping in to your inner Stone Cold is another thing. Stone Cold is someone I’ve watched a lot. As a wrestler he has had an influence on my wrestling and the way I carry myself. So more that meshed with Rollerball Rocco.
“I had a 4 or 5 year gap where I wasn’t able to develop that character and I feel if I had those years I’d be in a lot better of a position now. After that a lot of people started doing that style, whereas back then that was the thing that made me stand out”
His peers may not think he needs to, but there’s a hunger in Rudo to grow and improve even at the ripe old age of 32.
“Everybody’s trying to stand out. I was having a chat with Kay Lee Ray recently. Even now, I was saying to her I want to do more. I want more. And she was like ‘naw..this is your thing, this is you, you don’t need to do all that other stuff’ and I see her point but I’m always hungry for more”
He feels he’s become a better overall performer due to his in-ring absence. Constantly in some kind of verbal duel with someone, most often his arch nemesis Mark Dallas. As good as Rudo was on the mic before his extended spell away from in-ring action, there’s no doubt he absolutely mastered the art of holding a crowd in the palm of his hand during his time as the leader of various enterprises with designs on taking over ICW. The Black Label in particular was an era where Rudo and his two best pals garnered some of the burniest heat you’ll ever see in a wrestling ring.
“Strangely. I don’t know how this is possible. I’ve managed to become a better performer without wrestling over the past 5 years. Developing a better understanding and being able to look at things from a different angle. I’m just a bit more sure of myself and my abilities than I was before”
“Shugs in 2015 when The Black Label was formed was when it really became a full time gig again. That was me just taking this one wee tiny role and making the absolute most of it. My mentality was that I had to make this work. This is my only chance to put all of this right. I had to throw myself completely into it and at that time I was happy not to be wrestling. I was more comfortable doing the mic stuff. Eventually I did wrestle when I was able but I did get injured again. But…I feel like that was success for me. Taking that role as Spacebaws GM and turning it into something special with The Black Label”
The Black Label was definitely a career defining era for all three of the men involved. All three speak about it with great fondness for a time where things were a bit mental. They were truly hated and they got to be hated as a unit.
“Black Label was a brilliant time in my career. I loved being able to go out there with my two pals. Guys I startedout with and make folk absolutely raging *laughs* GPWA has been fantastic and I’m glad we started it. But I’m a performer. That’s what I do. I perform. And over the past few years ive no been able to do that to the extent that I wanted. I’ve always wanted to wrestle but just didn’t feel able to do it to the best of my ability until recently. A lot of the guys were like ‘why are you daein this? you don’t need to do this?’ because I’m good on the mic and stuff, but this is what I want to do. This is what I’ve always wanted to do”
From relative obscurity, to closing the show in front of 4,000 at the SECC as Mick Foley intercepted Rudo’s attempts to steer the main event in Drew Galloways’s direction. It was an amazing turnaround and proof that if you keep working at it, the results will come.
He also led The Black Label out for their match for control of ICW in front of over 6,000 at The Hydro and as much as he’d have loved to be able to wrestle on those shows, to be so integral to the story that you’re involved in vital moments anyway is proof of how impactful that character was. He described a calm coming over him ahead of the SECC show. Assurance that he was absolutely capable of what he needed to do and he was going to knock it out the park.
“Of course the SECC was huge. All the boys were nervous. Yet I found myself feeling relaxed. I had a big moment in the show with the promo at the start and Foley interrupting but I was so confident. I knew what I was doing and there was no way it was going to go wrong. To get that opportunity was amazing though, going from not being involved in the company to 4000 people booing you in the SECC. Its mental. I was very proud of that. Then of course a year later its another huge crowd at The Hydro and I’m involved again, leading The Black Label out“
Getting to work closely with a good friend who for a lot of years he scarcely got to see in the flesh was another huge positive during The Black Label run. They may have started at the same time but Rudo credits Drew Galloway’s influence during his ICW run as another factor that made him a better performer.
“When I started interacting with Drew more that was a big deal to me. We are friends, but I cant say we’re close because of how far apart we are. We don’t get a lot of chances to speak. It was good to share that time with him. He came back. I said bye to him in 2007 and id hardly heard from him. He’s a busy guy. All of a sudden 7 years later he’s back and involved again”
“The next year we’re told you, Jester and Drew are going to be a faction and we were all buzzing about it. It was great to get to work together. I learned a lot from Drew, working with him was such a huge thing. Always being by his side at shows, in the ring, we all bounced ideas off each other. He valued my opinion. I was able to learn from him and he was happy to give me advice at that time.
“Even though I wasn’t wrestling then it definitely helped shape me into a better wrestler. Working with Damo helped a lot as well. He was always someone who supported me and pushed me on”
ICW isn’t the only place Rudo has made an impact during this current run. It’s not even the only place he’s won an over the top rope battle royal in this calendar year. Winning Wrestlezone’s Regal Rumble event and securing a place in the main event of their biggest show of the year, a regular 1,000+ sell out called Aberdeen Anarchy.
“I’ve kept contact with them for a long time. They reached out to me and said we’d like you to wrestle Damien at Aberdeen Anarchy. I was right up for it because it was an opportunity for me to go into a company and be trusted to main event their biggest show, against their champion. Regarding The Regal Rumble, the story changed on the day. I wasn’t meant to win it but they decided to have me win and cash it in that night and have Damien chasing me leading to Aberdeen Anarchy”
Winning the title in as close as you can get to foreign land in his own country was a surreal experience for Rudo. A bad guy from Maryhill coming in and scooping up all the big prizes in one night. You could see the logic behind it but it took a bit of hype work from Rudo on social media to drum up some heat. Having the unenviable task of having to follow Pac (formerly Neville in WWE) and a cage match, they had to craft a story in a month that had the fans buzzing at the prospect of Damien taking the title back. “It went online that I had won the belt and it got a bit of buzz. The thing about going up there is that it is a different scene. The people who go to these shows dont watch ICW. Some do, but most dont. Most dont have a clue who I am. I win the Regal Rumble. I’ve got 28 days to get a bit of heat before anarchy”
“They had no idea it would get the reaction it did. When I won they could hear a pin drop. From then on I get on the mic and we build a story from well. That was good for me though. They thought that it was a better idea for Damien to be chasing going in to the big one. I think it probably did give them a wee bit of a buzz from our neck of the woods. Getting people talking about it. I’m trying to get it over and carry the flag of that company for a month”
From Red Lightning to Rudo Lightning
Rudo’s insistence on being referred to as Rudo is partly wanting that name to become synonymous with him, but its also partly to do with being seen as someone different. Red Lightning was a talent but had his moments where he maybe wasn’t the easiest to work with. Rudo is the opposite. A performer, a promoter, and someone with a mind for wrestling that few can match.
“That was one of my main things when I came back. I wanted to be an asset for any company that I work for. I want to be able to come in to a company and be able to promote their shows. Utilising my social media and being able to help them. Going in to companies, putting on a good show, and just generally being professional”
“Thats a bi-product of being not the best in 12-13. At times I was unprofessional so now I take pride in being the opposite of that. Taking my work seriously and being very professional”
The addition of Kay Lee Ray and Stevie Boy to the coaching team and Rudo admittedly not being the “wrestler” of the group has led to him assuming more of an all consuming role with the company as opposed to personally teaching a lot of classes. He has found his feet as a promoter as well. Utilising social media will to get word out there about upcoming shows and news regarding the school. A jack of all trades, and a master of …well quite a lot of them actually.
“We’re all at the point where we can still wrestle. The opportunity is there if we so wish, to wrestle on these shows. I don’t class myself as a coach anymore. I still give a lot of mentorship to the trainees but my job here really is more the day to day stuff with the asylum and shows. I dont do a lot of teaching classes anymore. I do on occasion but i admit its not where my strength lies. I’m good at advice and good at helping the guys on show day. That’s when I’m at my most useful”
Its not just GPWA students who can come to Rudo for advice. You’d be daft not to tap in to the wealth of knowledge that exists across Scottish wrestling even if you are committed to one particular school.
“I always like to help people that no matter where they come from. Recently Sammi Jayne introduced me to Ashley Vega and Angel Hayze. It was a bit me giving advice on what they’d been doing but also for me to see if they could help out on our shows. I regularly do that for our guys and its something I enjoy. I’d never shoo someone away if they want my advice”
“It would be nice to be able to sit down with everyone once a month and tell them, this is what you need to do, this is what you need to change, but the fact of the matter is, we arent a full time business. We are all very busy. But if anybody asks, they will never be ignored or turned away”
“Our main program has about 45 in it, then we have 20 starting their 8 week induction, and another beginners class that has about 20. There’s about 80 odd people coming in here a week, across different days. The main class you’ll find the people who are really serious about doing it full time. That’s where they really improve. Getting taught by the best wrestlers Scotland has to offer”
Rudo was keen to point out the upside to training with GPWA without disrespecting other schools who have produced some of the best talent on the scene today. GPWA just offers a different way of doing things. First class trainers on hand, all with their own unique set of skills paired with glowing CV’s.
“Its the value for money. You’re being taught by the best in their respective fields. Wolfgang was at Mania on a Sunday, and he was in here on Tuesday training people. Lionheart is the ICW Champion. Kay Lee and Stevie started a bit later than us and have a different perspective. Both wildly successful in their own right as well”
“Lionheart and Jester are also in the public eye right now because of Rogue To Wrestler. I’m always wary of things like Rogue to Wrestler but it turned out to be a really good show. It was a genuine representation of how the school operates. We came across really well”
GPWA caught peoples attention because the concept was something completely new. Trainees started with an 8 week long induction course and the trainers would assess after the 8 weeks if it was in everyone’s best interest to continue training. A model that has been replicated in many places elsewhere since.
“The intake classes are for people who aren’t really sure. They want to give it a bash but aren’t sure how far they want to take it. If they’re not into it, or they’re not up to the standard required, they can leave without committing to it if they want. People surprise themselves. Others see its not what they thought and stop” “The intake’s different now in terms of how we assess the new trainees but the setup is the same. We’ve got Ravie Davie, Leyton Buzzard, Kez Evans, The Purge, Sam Barbour etc. They all came through this setup. They had never wrestled before. Came right through the program and are doing great things now. That’s the thing we were missing. Success stories. People with name value who have come from our school. We have that now.
“We had a good facility, good coaching team, but there’s no assurance that these 5 great wrestlers are going to be good coaches. I feel we’ve developed a lot as coaches and as people over the last 5 years. We can now say this program works. Our training system works. Theres schools all over (ger, eng) using this system, including America. We’ve had American guys in here to take seminars and I think we’ve influenced how they conducted their business when they went back to America”
A sense of entitlement from trainees is not something tolerated amongst the coaches. The philosophy is simple. If you work hard, listen and really want to make something of this, you can. Moaning about not getting what you feel you’re due gets you nowhere and that mentality seems to have came from a group of wrestlers who made something of this scene when it didn’t really exist. “There was ups and downs with a lot of the guys and it goes back to what my strength might be. I can scan a room and get a feel for who might have a future in wrestling. If I say to one of the boys about slacking off, and things they need to watch. That’s the stuff I’m good at. Making sure people are conducting themselves properly in wrestling”
“Young wrestlers and trainee wrestlers think you make the transition from trainee to wrestler overnight. Its never as simple as that. Especially in this day and age where so many are looking to impress. There’s nothing to gain from moaning about not getting opportunities. You have to go out and earn them”
There are opportunities in house for the trainees, with the more established ones being used regularly on the Wrestling Experience Scotland shows that Rudo and the school run, but there is also regular £5 wrestling shows at The Asylum showcasing the best up and comers the school has to offer as well. If you’re good enough the work is there.
“Everybody has the chance to develop but you should always be training. If you’re at a point where you aren’t working every weekend, you have to keep at it. Back in 2008 and 2009, I’d have loved for us to have a place like this. If we had a place like this we’d have all developed at a faster pace. Occasionally established wrestlers will train here.
“We offer them the 5 pound wrestling shows but theres so many wrestlers here now its hard to even get on those shows. Its a competitive environment. Different schools offer different ways of training and some people are better suited to a more regimented program like Source, or maybe a bit more relaxed like the way PBW do it. Where its not so heavily structured”
At this point Jack Jester entered the room we were conducting the interview in and started scrannin a smoked sausage out the packet. An example of the type of dedication you’ll get from the trainers at GPWA. That man has his protein on the go so he could help train the newbies. Dedication.
“Its important to engage with new trainees and see who could struggle. They might need a bit more attention. You need to make sure that they’re comfortable with anything you’re asking them to do
When we got into the storied history of Rudo and Grado, there was a sense of pride about that particular element of his career. Being able to help get eyes on the product by being the best possible counterpart to the guy who has the attention of not just casual wrestling fans, but your everyday punter. Grado has worked with the best villains wrestling has to offer but Rudo is right up there with the best of them.
“When it comes to Grado, a lot of people take credit for his success, but Grado is the reason Grado has been a success. He developed a character and stuck to his guns and it got over with the crowd. Its hard not to admire that. I think at that point in time, leading in to that show, and probably for about a year following that, you know, he was the top face, I was the top heel, and we done a lot of business everywhere. BCW, PBW, Pavillion, Oran War…etc”
“What happened in Kelvin Brawl. Shit happened to me without me meaning it. The character aspect of what i was doing caught Rab and Greg. It wasnt supposed to be me in that match. I wasn’t meant to be in it. Because I was getting such a big reaction online, they changed it”
The Kelvin Brawl was a 1,000+ sellout at a time where that wasn’t commonplace. Being in the main event, tagging with a Scottish comedy legend in Greg Hemphill is not a feat to be sniffed at. Especially when it was Grado teaming with Rab Florence who would provide the opponents. After all, Rudo was Grado’s counterpoint at that time. The ying to his yang. The wank to his good guy.
“Who else would it be? Its back to Grado and me again. We bounced off one and other quite well and always had good chemistry I felt. We had a match in Aberdeen and I didn’t think it was that good, but it was more just the fact, at the time, it was more of a favour from my perspective. I was using it as a way of trying to ease myself back in to wrestling slowly so that wasnt us at our best but we’ve had some really good matches”
None better than that first match. Super Smokin Thunderbowl in 2012 had Rudo vs Grado as the first half main event for the ICW Title. Grado was red hot at the time, capturing the audiences imagination before they really knew what he could do in the ring with a series of hilarious youtube videos. That match was the perfect introduction and to make it work it needed a great villain. Grado overcame the odds Andy Ruiz Jr style and won the title, leading to wild celebrations. As if the big man had just skelped one in the top corner to win Scotland the World Cup as opposed to winning a wrestling title in The Garage.
It felt special. He was one of them. Rudo is most certainly not one of them and took great pleasure in ordering the match to be re-started later in the night due to a refereeing error. Rudo won the re-started match, and Grado’s moment of glory was erased from history. It was a story that gripped me as a first time fan. You felt Grado’s pain and wanted to see how he’d bounce back. You wanted him to win. To evoke that kind of feeling takes more than just a charismatic good guy. He needed a villain.
“What was special about the first one although Grado had experience, he was still kinda new. It was one of the first times Grado the character had wrestled. I remember after that going to Dallas and saying, we need to do this. We need to have this match. There is no other option. This needs to happen. It would have been mental for them not to go with it. I think that match, and i’m not taking personal credit for anything, but its hard to ignore the fact that match, set off a lot of fireworks around Britain. For various things”
Various things including the documentaries that brought ICW into sharp focus in the public eye. Most would consider Insane Fight Club to be the starting point for it all, but the documentary made by Vice around the time of that first match was the first time we got to see the people behind these characters. The documentary was initially intended to be a bit of a piss-take but they soon realised ICW was nae joke. There was a hint of regret about Rudo when discussing these documentaries, as he chatted about the possibility of him being involved in the first Insane Fight Club.
“The British Wrestler was a good documentary. It was very well made. Being able to pull the drama out that much and put it into a documentary. It was fascinating. For me that led to several other things happening. Rab and Greg came in. Gave us a bit of a rub. I personally think between The British Wrestler and Oran War/Kelvin Brawl was probably the catalyst for Insane Fight Club. Which of course led to the revival of British Wrestling”
His reasons for not wanting to be involved in the first Insane Fight Club documentary are understandable but in hindsight something that is tinged with a bit of regret. Uneasiness at how it might turn out seems silly now that the crew who were involved have been involved in pretty much all the documentaries ICW have produced and are well known amongst the roster but there’s always the future and clearly Rudo has a story worth telling.
“I felt uncomfortable with not knowing how it might turn out. I regret it not because I might have been popular because of it. I regret it because my son will never get to watch that back and see that. So I regret that for that reason” “Some of the crew that were involved with that were involved with Rogue To Wrestler as well so we have a good relationship with them now. Even when the second one happened I wasn’t around” “It was just bad timing. It was a shame for my body of work up until that point having been the big villain on the show, or being the champion, but everything big happening I missed. With the Black Label and being the GM and the owner. I was only ever in Glasgow. I never went on the roadother than the very last tour and you’re left thinking ‘why wasnt I doing this the whole time”
That seems to be the only lingering regret though. This run has felt almost cathartic for Rudo and he seems to be enjoying his work more than ever before. The 2019 Square Go briefcase is in his weaponry and he goes in to the Shug’s weekender and integral part of the team. An appearence at Grado’s Big Family Bash at The Pavillion was another highlight as he took on Adam Maxted in front of over 1,000 fans. Finding contentment on a personal level as a dedicated family man has tied in nicely with Rudo returning to doing the thing he loves. His story is proof that you can overcome anything and be whatever you want to be.
“That was success to me. To have completely flipped that. From being a week away from leaving the business, to the point we’ve come to now. I shared it on my FB recently because the post came up. It was me basically saying my time is coming to an end in the business. I really felt that was the case at the time”
“Having overcome such a huge tragedy personally and going on to achieve what we have achieved. We now have a family. My partner attained a qualification is now working in that field. I’ve come back to wrestling and done good things. Its the kind of thing that people might feel inspired by. People would think they’d have never known that. People might have things like that eating them up and they feel like they can never get over it, but they can. You can overcome personal tragedy and thrive after the fact”
Thrive is indeed what Rudo has done. He is living proof that you can go from rock bottom all the way to the top again. He went from a week away from retirement to re-inventing himself and he now stands before you the 2019 Square Go winner. If he can overcome his demons, so can you.
Thank you to Rudo for his time and honesty. Thank you to David J Wilson for helping me get photos together. Also to Brian Battensby for the Wrestlezone pics. Thank you to anyone elses photos I may have used as well. If I’ve no credited you give me a shout.
Drew McIntyre comes from an era where no one expected this to happen. He started training during an era where there was no training. He started wrestling in Scotland during a time period where there was nowhere to wrestle. There were people, and if you paid them money, you might get some time in whatever spare room they could find to stick mats down, but it wasn’t wrestling training. There were wrestling shows, but they were few and far between and even the best companies at the time in the grand scheme of things, probably weren’t very good.
It took people with unflappable dedication to getting good at this to overcome these hurdles and get good. It took people who saw no other career path. Or at the very least saw no other career path that would bring them half as much joy as being involved in professional wrestling for a living.
Even still, few of them would have truly believed they could make any sort of impact beyond the local scene until Drew showed them how. The fact that when he was released in 2014 he considered himself something of a failure is absolute insanity. Even if he never laced up his boots again, he had still secured legendary status in Scottish wrestling history as the first one who really made it. The Chosen One. I was grateful to get the chance to speak to the big man over the course of a few hours as he travelled from town to town.
Asking Drew if he’d ever pursued any other sport (being over 6 foot tall and cut from pure granite in Scotland usually means you can take your pick) a mischievous laugh poured out as he recalled on the time during his brief flirtation with football (soccer for any nice Americans reading thi_, where, by all intents and purposes he knocked a guy out. Simply by being an fridge freezer masquerading as a human man.
“By this point I’d started wrestling, I’d debuted and stuff, so the guys were already calling me ‘Drew The Wrestler’ anyway. My last game I got a yellow for a two footed tackle, should have been a red. Next attack the guy runs past me and knocks himself clean out on my shoulder. I got a second yellow for that and even though I should already have been off, I lost the plot anyway. That’s when I realised I was maybe better suited to wrestling *laughs* The manager used to tell my team mates to piss me off on purpose because I always played better but after that I left football behind”
When you think of that core group of Red Lightning, Jack Jester, Wolfgang, Kid Fite, Mark Dallas and of course Drew himself, you have the founding fathers of what Scottish wrestling went on to become. When he was signed, you could count on one hand the amount of UK born wrestlers who had truly made an impact in WWE, you’d maybe need both hands a couple of toes to count the amount who had any sort of impact at all,
Drew changed it all. He changed the way the independent scene was viewed and put eyes on it in such a different way. Because he wasn’t a star attraction flown in for one show, treated like a superstar amongst dafties. Sent on his way with a fat pay cheque after a half arsed performance. No. He was all in and it showed. He was ready to give absolutely everything.
“I went down to a seminar down in Portsmouth not long after we’d started training. I say training it was mats in the spare room of a post office. But the set up down south was a lot better and I took the few things I learned down there and taught the other guys. We all learned from each other because back then there really wasn’t anything. You had to love it”
While Drew’s aspirations have taken him back to the WWE, many of his personal career highlights when its all said and done will be from another world. A resource that shouldn’t ever been undersold. He has quite literally been all over the globe to perfect his craft in between these two spells with WWE.
As much as the first run didn’t go as planned, in relative terms he done pretty well by all accounts, and with this run the sky’s the limit. While its had its peaks and troughs, its been a career littered with success and unique experience that make him the very definition of a grizzled young veteran (apologies to Zack Gibson and James Drake) at 33 with the life and career experience of a man in his mid 60s.
A swift return to insanity
There were many pitstops in the Drew Galloway world tour during his 3 year spell away from WWE. A huge impact was made stateside with Evolve and latterly TNA. He sold out buildings from Peebles to Palm Springs without breaking a sweat, but it was his time with ICW that holds the fondest memories. Being part of the company in its formative years and having a close relationship with many who remained after he was signed meant that it was naturally the best place to get started on the road to re-invention.
“The Gold Label really started getting things going when I was away. I’m glad I got to see it that one time because the reactions they were getting for that stuff was amazing. I was in Glasgow for a few reasons and I’d been doing a bit of media that day. I was wearing the white suit jacket that Dallas takes the piss out of me for.
“Everyone slaughtered me for it and it felt like I’d never been away. It was smaller then than it turned out to be even just a year or so later, but even at that time what they were doing was amazing. I couldn’t believe they’d pulled it off. From then on I kept an eye from a distance and just watched it grow and grow. So when I was released, the first thing I done was phone Dallas and told him to get me on the next show “
If Drew Galloway has an origin story as to how he eventually went on to become the phenom he is today, it happened that night. The storied feud with Jack Jester kicked off and the intention was very cut and dried. Come and get that Title, even if it means mowing down your best pal who grafted for years to get it in the process.
Even in realising how pivotal Drew would be the the continued growth of ICW, the fact that he was always on the go and not always available for EVERY ICW show (although he made more than he missed) was exposed by a few opponents. Most notably Chris Renfrew, who had an embittered feud with Drew ahead of the 2015 Square Go.
That was the first time the crowd started to react to Drew in a negative way since his return to the scene that had been thriving even before he arrived to energise the charge to the top. There was nothing he could do after that other than becoming the bad guy they already considered him to be. Drew go away they would say. Little did they know how much of a void he’d leave behind when he did actually go away. The feud with Renfrew brought up mixed feelings but the rabid reactions both men were getting made the change in direction worthwhile, as Drew explained.
“He certainly pulled it off (getting the crowd on his side). He was standing over me and cutting the promo about how I’m never here and I’m thinking ‘I’m supposed to be the babyface and hes burying me’ *laughs* I know i’m not supposed to say anything back, but I can’t just lie here and take this. It made for compelling viewing for the fans and even if it wasn’t how we planned it out, the feud was red hot.
“As long as people were invested thats the main thing but he was pointing out some real personal things. I could have stayed face for longer if that hadnt happened but as long as people genuinely care thats all that matters. People were losing their minds for it when it did come around”
As much as it perhaps went a bit off book creatively, there is no denying at the time that feud was red hot. Renfrew was constantly vicious on the mic, rendering any attempt by Drew to gain the crowds favour futile. Instead he just had to play the game. Trade insults. Get a bit nasty with it. All part of the journey.
Being the top guy means being able to deal with any challenge. No matter how witty that challenge may be on the mic. That particular challenge was resolved with a tremendous title match at the 2015 Square Go where Renfrew fell short but had perhaps the best match of his career at that point. A trait that Drew become known for during his title run, bringing the best out of some already hugely talented guys.
“Its hard to get annoyed at it when you see how the fans are reacting. You cant get angry if people genuinely care. It maybe wasn’t the way we wanted the story to go, or the best decision business wise, but the numbers are growing and people are reacting. He became the hometown guy and I became the John Cena. he was right, I wasn’t there all the time, but it gave me material because I was genuinely exhausted from trying to be there all the time and I was like fuck you. That’s what sells tickets. Real emotion. And that was what we were bringing to the table”
His time with ICW wasn’t just a trip down memory lane for Drew or indeed for the company. They made the very most of having someone with such strong connections to the company who also had name recognition further afield. Maximising the time they had with a man who has a pedigree that no one has ever come close to in this country. Chuck into the bargain that he was incredibly motivated to re-invent himself and rebuild his name.
ICW weren’t getting the air guitar strummin son of a gun from 3MB (rumoured to be the real father of one of Heaths many kids. What happens on tour, stays in Heaths caravan) No. They were getting Drew Galloway. The guy who’s coming to kick your head clean off your shoulders. Jump on the bandwagon or get booted out the road.
Some of Drew’s personal high points in ICW and indeed his career are also some of the companies high points. Despite that, he considers himself just a passenger on ICWs voyage to the moon. A man who made people feel. The emotions were never higher than when Drew faced Grado for his ICW World Title at the show that was at the time the absolute peak for ICW.
A 4000 capacity building sold out well in advance to see the ultimate underdog try to usurp the king. It was a dynamic that not only had wrestling fans interested, but just people in general. Grado being a hero to so many, it made being the big bad villain easy work for an auld pro like Drew. Him at his very best is him against bonafide babyface who’s properly over with the crowd, and if you look that up in the dictionary, a picture of Grado is right there beside it.
“At ICW they were well on the way when I got there and I got to join in the fun with my pals. We just kept pushing each other to new levels. There was creative freedom there too in the sense that some things we would come up with that day. The SECC was an amazing atmosphere and felt like the right time for me to drop the title. Grado had the crowd and they were so ready to see me get beat it just made sense.
“ Having Foley involved in it too and really making the most of having him there. The crowds just kept growing and growing until eventually we reached the 6,000 mark (at The Hydro the following year). Its just mental watching it all grow, its amazing to watch the growth of all these mad Scottish bastards trying to make this thing work and make it work we certainly did”
That creative freedom is always a thing performers appreciate about ICW. To a certain extent its a collaborative effort. At its very best when it function like a team. Everyone knowing their role and fulfilling it selflessly. When you’re the star striker you’ve got a bit more scope to do….well, whatever you want really. At times with hilarious results.
“There was a time where I was wrestling Spud in Birmingham. I couldn’t think of anything interesting to do so I went to find Grado thinking “he’ll have something”. I ended up asking to borrow one of his singlets and I ended up doing his entrance that night *laughs* That was the kind of shit you’d come up with on the fly and there was freedom to do that, That’s what it was.
“One of us would come up with an idea, and someone else would add a few things to it, and then something else. It was a collaboration between a bunch of daft pals who happened to be part of this wrestling company and it made for one of the most exciting times in our history and certainly shaped me going in to my second WWE run”
It was also a place Drew became more comfortable with some of the more undervalued aspects of being a top guy. It’s far more than just having the best match on the show, signing a few autographs and calling it a day. Being the top guy means you are the skipper. You are the captain of the ship, and if it goes down, so do you. A point Drew proved as ICWs tour bus broke down en route to Norwich for their first ever show in the city.
A potentially disasterous cancellation was on the cards but the roster somehow made it to the venue only slightly late. In the meantime Drew, who had travelled alone from a booking in Outer Mongolia or Norway or some other mad place, stepped in a filled time at the start of the show with matches against anyone who was trained that was in the building that night. Thankfully the ring crew had also travelled separately, so Matt Daly, Stephen Hughes and not to mention Scottish wrestling mainstay Adam Shame can all say they challenged Drew Mctinyre for the ICW World Title, and well…..got their heids kicked in. But they can still say it.
“One time recently the show finished a bit earlier and Cena filled the time up when he was there. He just ad libbed and was completely comfortable doing that. He saw it as his role as the main guy to take the responsibility. Jimmy Jacobs was saying to me “How many people do we have who can genuinely do that?” and I understood what he meant, but why should that be a rare thing? If you can be a top guy one place you should be able to carry it over and adapt to the challenges that doing it with WWE brings.
“Once you’ve had that experience of being trusted to carry a company. To carry a brand. You might have to learn a few things along the way, but you have the basic tools to make this work. My first time around I just wasn’t ready for that. Places like ICW give you experience of doing that. Places who have a platform to help you establish those skills. Its exactly the same in WWE, just on a bigger stage”
A clear message to anyone out there wondering what it takes to go from one level, to something special. Something even they don’t recognise. It takes having the self belief to not only show how good he is in the ring, but backing it up consistently with scathing, passionate work on the mic, There’s an aggression deep down inside Drew Galloway that makes Drew McIntyre one frightening dude. Built like a brick shithouse with a Claymore that will remove the spleen of anyone who even thinks about trying it. If you believe in yourself, making others believe in you is easy. In Drew’s case he wants others to believe he is capable of anything when it comes to his pursuit of greatness in professional wrestling.
The ICW World Title Crusade (feat Matt Hardy)
One of the more peculiar title defences Drew faced on his magical mystery tour with the ICW Title was a pit stop in the USA. Defending the title against Matt Hardy in New York as Drew continued to cross off continents as he relentlessly pursued his goal of making the ICW Title known as a world title. “I beat Matt for the TNA title as well, but yeah. Hes been part of my career the whole time pretty much, so it was really cool to have him as a part of that journey”
“ I was adamant. Whenever I had a booking I’d try and make it work and have the ICW title defended on their shows. It was my job to convince them it was a good idea and it would benefit them, because it was. I had a following and people were keeping up to date. So they could either have me wrestle their local guy and have a good match that people will forget about, or you can have me defend the ICW title and it’ll get a bit of attention elsewhere. I managed to convince a few and thats how we worked the World Title aspect.It becomes a bigger deal than it would have been if i’m defending a World Title on their show”
It all dates back to the mission statement when Drew made his return in 2014. His vow was to get the world talking about ICW and that’s what he done. At times coming in for a bit of undue stick for pursuing other things at the same time but now he’s no longer actively part of the scene, you see just how big a presence he was. His professionalism and sheer talent raised the bar and the knock on effect is the improvement in so many people and promotions he worked with during his time away from WWE.
“Going back to my initial promo, I was adamant the world would know ICWs name. If they knew my name, they’d know ICW’s name as well. It peaked peoples intrest in both me and the company and it works for everyone. Thats what its all about. Building from the grass roots and making it work”
It was a time period that had a litany of highlights for ICW. Having an internationally recognised standard bearer who also happened to be a big handsome bastard is what gets you in the news. It gets eyes on you. As a certain manbeast found out during one of his appearances for ICW. A match in what is more than likely going to be ICWs last at their first ever venue in Maryhill. The match made the local papers as the pair brawled through the streets of Maryhill. Irish whipping each other in and out the chippy and somehow managing to share a fish supper in the process.
It was one of those nights that stays with the performers involved. You can appear on all the RAWs, wrestle all the Roman Reignsys you like at Wrestlemania, but few experiences leave as much of a lasting impression as having a wee scrap on a road outside the Community Centre in Maryhill. The fact that the scrap happened to be with a bit of a wrestling legend is just the icing on a mental cake.
“It was crazy. Dallas’ has the idea with the ECW thing, him being the last champ, me being the current ICW Champ at the time. A sort of passing the torch. All I knew about him was hes this crazy man beast. That’s what I was expecting so it took a while to adjust to him being different in right life. That kind of allure went away when I stiffed him one time and he looked at me like ‘whit ye daein mate’ *laughs* I wasnt sure what to expect with him but he was so nice. We talked backstage and all we did was talk about politics because he was running for office in Michigan.
“I knew it was getting close to match time and i realised we hadn’t talked about anything to do with the match itself. All I had was ‘you mind if we fight in the streets cause it’ll be in the paper” but that’s all we had until we’re about to go out and we went do you want to kick out of the gore? Blew my mind that he was willing to do that. I dont think he realised how big ICW was”
“He just thought it was another small company I worked for, but he didn’t realise until he stepped out there. Once he saw it in the paper he realised how big a deal it was. It was just fun. We just battered each other and we really didnt need to plan much. We both know what we’re doing and we just went out and had a fight “
While the feud that brought the title to Drew will go down in ICW history, the feuds he had while carrying the title served a different purpose. As much as Drew looked like a bonafide killer throughout his run as champion, he had this knack of getting another level of performance out of others. Perhaps him simply being him made them want to be the best version of themselves
“I returned it a lot stronger than when I first won it so thats been the crowning achievement of it all. I’m proud of everything we done during that time period and how much we elevated the title. I’m really proud of all the title defences. The crowds at those matches were unreal. No one wanted to me to win the vast majority of the time because they were so invested in the guy chasing it.
“Joe Coffey in particular. After that much I bloody had to turn, because if he had won it that night it would have been huge. I don’t think anyone in the Barrowlands wanted me to win that night. Coffey was so on fire but the plan at that time was me and Grado at the SECC so we didn’t do the title change, but it allowed me to turn heel and made everyone get behind him even more”
Another memorable defence happened the night The Black Label formed. A returning Jack Jester cost Big Damo the ICW World Title and revealed himself to be aligned with Drew and Rudo Lightning.
“I remember that match because by that point Damo hadn’t turned face. People were really turning on me at that point and getting behind Damo in the process and when Jester showed up and cost him the title. You could cut the tension with the knife. I remember saying thank fuck we’re doing this finish. The crowd did NOT want me winning that. Especially not by pinning Damo clean. So thank fuck we did that. That was one of my favourite moments as well with the parallels to my return and the formation of The Black Label had the crowd baying for blood. It was some buzz”
The Black Label era was a whirlwind of a time. Crowds were baying for their blood. They represented the auld pals act. Separately some of the most influential figures in Scottish Wrestling but together? An unstoppable three headed monster. The bad guys.
“You’re waiting for folk to jump the barricades because you can tell they’re dying to get at us. People are for real pissed. I really enjoyed seeing all the different emotions because the fans are just as big a part of the wrestlers. It should never cross a certain line but drawing that emotion is so important. I remember in London one time, someone threw something at me, and Wolfgang jumped in the crowd after him *laughs*
“ I was cutting some nasty promo. Brought out the TNA Title and started railing on everyone and someone chucked a bottle. It didn’t hit me but Wolfgang and Bram immediately jumped in after him. I’m like halfway to going out myself,but i realised if i went out there its gonnae be a riot, so i had to stay calm, and I didn’t want to give the heat away either because if it goes part a certain stage it becomes a negative as opposed to being the reaction you want”
An All-Star Education leading all the way to the Hall of Fame
His experiences with ICW helped shape him into the ready made superstar he is today, but it was some experiences in his formative years that helped him perfect the art of not taking any shit. While touring with All-Star, the locker room at that time were slightly defensive of their positions and saw this big strapping ‘Disney prince looking motherfucker’ strolling in looking to scoop up all the belts and their burds in the process. One of those who perhaps were’t all that welcoming with Drew was former ICW Champion and another of the key figures in ICWs growth. Mikey Whiplash.
“I was on the road with Whippy back in the day when I started out with All-Star. I was just there to learn and keep my head down. They tried to give me shit then eventually I put my hand through the back of the car one time and they stopped. Something like that sends a message and they laid off me a bit *laughs*. Then Jester came in after I was signed and he’s telling me stories about how they’d wind him up by calling him litte Drew. I was like “Listen, they gave big Drew crap too. They’ re just dicks!” *laughs*
“I learned more from him than anybody back then. We had great matches in all star. Doing 30-40 minute matches all the time over the course of about 6 months. We done some great stuff together and then we had the match for the title at The Garage that showed the other side to us both”
While Drew might be the most famous wrestler to ever come from Scotland, he isn’t the most infamous. That title goes to the late Drew McDonald, who sadly passed away due to cancer in 2015. He left his mark on Drew in his heyday as he became another who took it . Imagine a man who can put the fear of god into a 6 foot 5 monster. Imagine the larger than life Drew McDonald strolling up to you with a tan as bright and impressive as the sun itself. He told Drew what he was getting up to before their match. While Drew wasn’t at liberty to specify, we can only assume it was either highly illegal or had one or more orifices……involved.
“He was the wildest character I’ve ever been around. A genuinely good guy who helped me a lot, but he terrified me when I first met him. I was 17-18 and up comes this giant, tanned, Scottish man telling me the unspeakable things he was up to just before the match and basically rounded it off with “see you out there”.
“We wrestled once on All-Star when I was just starting out. Both of us wore kilts but he was the baddie and he was the good guy. He was so easy in there and we ended up having fun”
He was always a great laugh and he always had good advice. Most of our interactions he was always very giving. A lot of the time was when I was with WWE and he was always there to give advice and try to point me in the right direction. To have that from someone so respected in Scotland but also a guy with such a crazy reputation and he loved that reputation”
It was a reputation that saw him involved in Grado’s first ICW match. Teaming with him in a 6 man tag match that was Drew McDonald’s only ICW appearance. His legendary status in Scottish Wrestling will likely see him enter the ICW Hall Of Fame one day. Drew McIntyre had the honour of being the second inductee himself and returned to ICW during his period out with injury to accept the induction. Joining Mark Dallas, Jack Jester and Sha Samuels for a segment that felt more like a scene in a soap opera than a wrestling segment.
Drew acted as peacemaker and made ICWs hot couple see sense. They had to stay together for the good of the show. They laughed. They cried. They mocked Drew for his contractually inability to swear only for some mild profanity to slip out. They had fun. As much as the company prospered during Drew’s tenure, it prospered because they were in it together. Committed to making a living off this mad thing no matter what it takes and enjoying it in the process.
“That was awesome. I was so happy to have that happen. It was a big deal to me. Meant as much to me as any title to be recognised like that and be in there with someone like Carmel who done so much in ICW. We didn’t really know where we were going with it we just knew I was gonna stop them fighting and urge them to stay together for the good of the show. We sort of ad-libbed it all but it was such a laugh. I was coming back for my dads wedding anyway so it all lined up. I spoke to Hunter about it and he was happy for me and totally fine with me doing it. He wanted to do something on the website about it as well so that was cool”
“To go with his blessing and even some promotion for it. It was nice to come out and talk to the crowd. The bit where you cant swear and they’re taking the piss. I spoke about it being cool that my wife got to see what was keeping me away all those years, so she finally got to see it for themselves. All my family came along as well so it was a special night”
Endorsed by Kurt Angle. Approved by PWI. Next stop? World Champion
Not long after becoming an ICW Hall Of Famer, he faced another man who happened to be on the same ICW show as Drew that night Kurt Angle main events not lost on Drew how significant it is that Kurt Angle chose him to be one of his last opponents in TNA. Closing a legendary chapter in his career by handpicking three opponents for his final matches.
However it was in WWE where Kurt really hammered the point home. Succumbing to his own moves and by all accounts, taking an absolute kicking in the process. Perhaps the last wrestler that Kurt Angle made look like an unstoppable beast and when you consider people he’s provided that service for in the past include the likes of Brock Lesnar, you realise big Drew fae Ayr is in rare company.
“Its crazy to me that he wanted to work with me in both TNA and WWE. Roode, Lashley and me. Drew fae Scotland, the guy who used to be in 3MB. It was his idea to tap out to the ankle lock when I wrestled him on RAW. He was insisting “This is whats gonna help you, tapping me out” Who am I to argue? He was taking my mad moves, like the Finlay roll off the top. The big Alabama Slam. The big heavy chops. It took me to a different level. That meant the world because the Drew McIntyre name was mud at that time. That was Drew Galloway that done that and it helped me rebuild myself to the point that I could come back and make it happen as Drew McIntyre”
Appreciative yes. Complacent? never. Being the last guy Kurt Angle made look like a killer is something you can definitely brag about but never something to rest on your laurels about. Not in Drew’s mind anyway. Always moving to the next challenge. Taking experiences he’s had to date and making himself a better performer going forward. The wisdom that comes with being a 33 year old with 16-17 years experience already.
“Old Drew had it in perspective. I was thankful, grateful, but the next week we start over. Its a cool thing to have, but its something I’ll use to propel me forward rather than getting an ego about it. Alright thats cool, but thats done now, treat it like you’re brand new and still have everything to prove”
It was a sure sign to Drew that he was going in the right direction. A similar feeling to when he was named in the top 10 of PWI 500 after being released. These feelings of satisfaction are fleeting when your eyes are on the top but a wee nod to let you know that you’re headed down the right road never hurts, and Drew admitted appearing so highly in the list was a real buzz after growing up reading any piece of wrestling media he could get his hands on.
“I made it in to the top 10 of the PWI 500 which was nuts for me. That might not mean a lot to some people or not as much as it used to anyway, but when you’ve only been involved in it in the 300s and 400s, to make such a leap and be one of only three non WWE guys in there was a huge vote of confidence for me and was tangible proof of the impact I’d managed to make. I was joint 10 with John Cena, and the only non WWE people that were above me was I think Jay Leathal and Okada. Both guys who were prominent with big promotions. So that meant the world to me, to be spoken about in such esteemed company”
Andrew Galloway Snr was also mightily impressed by the feat. Taking pride at the name he passed down to his boy being named as one of top 10 wrestlers in the world. He has been there throughout the journey and is clearly someone Drew admires a great deal. The memory of his late mother
“That means the world to my dad as well. Hearing the family name in the public eye like that. I always say to him, I’m still Drew Galloway when I’m not using that name *laughs* but he loves that I made that impact with the Galloway nameand so do I. I’m very proud of everything I achieved of what I done as Drew Galloway. Its made me a better Drew McIntyre as well, although like I always tell my Da, we are actually the same guy“
The unrelenting pursuit of a World Championship and being The Hitman of the NXUK Brand
The path for Drew at the moment is get to a world title. Get even the slightest sniff of an opportunity and take it. Money In The Bank presents an opportunity like that and even though the odds are never for you Drew is bigger than most, more agile than most, and almost certainly at least decent at climbing a ladder. With the motivation of having an anytime World Title shot on the line? Big man is coming for that briefcase and when he had that it really doesn’t matter who has the title. Then at least theoretically, his intention is to win them all. Including the WWE UK Championship, which is now defended on WWE’s newest weekly show. NXT UK.
“I told Triple H I was jealous (of Finn Balor appearing at NXT UK Takeover) The reaction was amazing and he loved it, then him and Jordan had an awesome match as well. I enjoyed it as a fan but I was certainly envious because its something I’d love to be involved in. Its great to see so many of the lads and lassies getting that exposure and showing the world how good UK wrestling is. How good Scottish wrestling is! “
“The crowd really make that unique and you want to tune in for the wrestling but also to get a feel for how they’re reacting to it. I would love to be involved in some way. Even if it was just a promo or something. I’d love to do the Bret Hart gimmick where I’m a bad guy in America and a good guy when I’m in the UK. There’s really not a lot of places that would make sense now but it could be great in that setting”
“I’ll stroll in giving it “Its awrite lads, i’ll win that world title for us” *laughs* Its definitely crossed my mind to do that whole angle and to be on that show as the guy who’s seen it all and was a part of the growth of it in the years I was away from WWE. Pushing the aspect that I want to be part of NXTUK and a part of the main roster and I’m doing it for NXTUK. It has literally crossed my mind as I’ve been watching it because the crowds are so different. Very similar to how different Bret was received in Canada.
“I think it could definitely be interesting but I love what they’re doing with it now and so happy for some of the guys getting that exposure. Guys from ICW and all over the UK scene getting to show everyone just how good they are“
“If I’m seen as a ruthless villain in America and then I present myself different on NXTUK and drive home that aspect that I’m representing their interests on the main roster. I made a point of working with Pete Dunne when we were both in the Rumble and I think we planted a bit of a seed. Once he got in there i wanted to let him do his thing. I wouldn’t let many guys pull me down and stomp on my arm but I wanted people to see how good he is”
“For a big guy, there is scope to get a bit of shit if you take too much punishment but I wanted to give guys like Pete and Aleister (Black) a bit more because I believe in them and want them to do well. We’ve had a couple of tag matches and we definitely have a bit of chemistry there. We had a few sequences that were great so there’s definitely something there and he’s a talent I would really love to work with in the future”
Walter is another who piques Drews interest and its plan to see why. Another mountain of a man who is actually capable of going strike for strike with Drew, an attribute few can claim to have. With Walter being the man to finally usurp Pete Dunne’s historic WWE UK Championship reign, it seems a natural foe for Drew and perhaps an opportunity to maximise Drews popularity in the UK.
“I was really intrigued by Pete Dunne and Walter. He always catches my attention. Any big man that hits hard always catches my attention”
Indeed, it surprised Drew that the two never crossed paths during his time on the independent scene, but Walter was mostly based in Germany and not looking further afield. Times have changed and he seems to be on a one man rampage to scoop up every belt possible, but one man who was very much around for Drews peak period on the independents was Killain Dain, formerly known as Big Damo and a regular opponent of Drews in ICW and several other promotions in Scotland.
A match up Drew insisted had to happen when he saw the gargantuan hairy Irishman who he had actually met several times before but didn’t recognise him at all. He wasn’t to be blamed for that, Damian O’Connor changed pretty much every aspect of himself in a wrestling sense. A thing that takes guts and that wasn’t lost on Drew when he first set eyes on him after his release.
“I’m surprised it never happened when I was on the indies because we are very similar. I remember when I was doing the 16 carat tournament and wondering why the hell we weren’t working together. He’s like the Austrian Big Daddy except he’s in shape! I was annoyed because I had noidea why I hadn’t worked with him. Damo was the same. At first I saw his look and just knew we would work well together. He has the size but its so unique“
“Soon as I saw him work I wanted to do something with him and it was the exact same with Walter. Like it would fit perfect on the family shows like BCW or something him being the big badass foreigner and me being the hometown hero. The Impression was that hes been around for a long time and he didnt really want to leave Germany but the past few years he’s travelled around and everyone’s like ‘Why’s he not been doing this the whole time?’
Damo was a similar puzzle to Drew although that one was hilarious in the sense that Damo wasn’t an entirely new person to Drew when he first clapped eyes on him.
“When you see what Damo used to look like and compare it to now it looks like that Damo ate another Damo laughs. Its like he found his long lost twin and just absorbed him. I was reminded we’d been around each other for a long time and he came over to America for Mania one year and we hung around a bit but I didn’t recognise him when he came back. He had changed so much I just thought he was the hot new talent on the scene and wanted to know what he was all about.”
“I told everyone that was the guy I wanted to work with. All the promoters. I needed to be on with When I first saw him when I came back I was like ‘Who the fuck is that big guy?’ and someone said ‘Thats Damian, Drew. You know him! And I was like “oh” laughs I think we were friends on FB as well and I still wasn’t sure. The matches we had were incredible because he’s just so unique. A man of that size that can move like he does”
The ballad of the dashing ones and a three man band
Working with the likes of Walter and Killain Dain is what Drew always wanted to be doing, but life sometimes takes you down another path. Wrestling in particular seems to have a way of pushing people down creative dead ends and being able to turn that into something positive is a desirable trait. While 3MB were mainly used as comic relief during their near two year run, it was never something Drew half arsed.
Nor did Heath Slater or Jinder Mahal. Jinder can now call himself a former WWE Champion. Heath had a tag title reign and a bunch of kids. Drew has the lessons learned from all these weird and wonderful experiences he’s had on his wrestling odyssey. Lessons he hopes will one day push him towards his final form. Being able to call himself the World Champion.
“Whenever I was on TV, all of us gave it everything. You have to do that no matter what role you’re in. If you dont do that, you and the fans will be miserable. At least if you’re out there giving it everything and having a laugh the fans are going to join in with it. If you go out there half arsing it, no ones in to it, people in the back are pissed off”
“It wasn’t the dream. I know that. It wasn’t what I was there to do initially. I came over with main event aspirations but I don’t think I was fully ready for it back then. 3MB as much as it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing was still something we gave a lot to and I think that’s a mentality I’ve carried throughout my career”
Giving it all he had was really all Drew could do when put in a situation that seems destined to fail no matter what you put in to it. It at the very least felt like failure and a dead end creatively if Drew ever wanted to be taken seriously in the future.
“We became good friends and managed to laugh about it whenever we were frustrated. There was a comradery between us. Jinders been World Champ and Heaths got kids (and tag titles) Jericho told me recently he literally forgot I was in it or that it was even a thing and thats a big compliment. 3 years of that and its no longer what any of us are known for the most. It makes me feel old though because there’s a whole generation who grew up with me doing that”
“Sometimes I get people coming up to me and going ‘ I used to watch you as a kid when you were in 3MB’ and I’m like “you are a kid” 18-19-20 they grew up with that. Makes me feel old hahahaha. Because I was on TV when I was young. I realise that every day when I wake up. Everyone calls me sir and shit, so they assume I’m at least 40, and then they hear my age and they go in to shock *laughs* “
The photo below may come as a shock to those with short memories but Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes can boast of a Tag Title run as a team. The team was a bit thrown together and it wasn’t the path either of them saw themselves going down. Both men had big singles aspirations and expectations from the word go. That was perhaps the main reason for it not becoming the unquestionably excellent tag team it could have been.
“We speak sometimes and we have a laugh about the past but we don’t speak too much. We’re part of the same era essentially and we both used to be in Vince’s promo classes, and then randomly we were tag team champions and we never really appreciated it because we wanted to be singles guys. We’d lost the titles when we came up with The Dashing Ones and really started to get in to it. When you reflect back we definitely could have made more of it but I think it was a part of our respective journeys that had to happen”
Drew’s success away from WWE almost served as a blueprint for someone like Cody. There is wrestling beyond WWE. There is something else. The direction WWE have taken NXT in proves that. It exists no longer as developmental but almost as a proving ground for the main roster. A brilliant show in its own right and one that provides a slicker transition for performers coming from the independent scene.
“I was one of the first guys who got released and decided ‘I’m going to go away and reinvent myself’ so I guess a few people have seen that its possible and decided to go down that route themselves. When things were going well my brother said to “You’ve become a verb” which was pretty cool. I think me and Cody always had the raw tools there but we’ve gone and learned how to make ourselves top guys in our own right “
Two guys who have always had all the tools to be at the very top end of wrestling. Two guys who perhaps seemed to always know they would one day be competing with each other. The tag team might have been a bit thrown together and neither consider it a career highlight, but when you look at it now, it was maybe a bit of an audition. Seeing how they could adapt to being thrown in at the deep end a bit.
If they had the opportunity back, particularly now as WWE give a lot more focus to tag team wrestling, you’d be talking about one of the best tag teams to come out of that era. While Cody and The Young Bucks hadn’t announced the formation of All Elite Wrestling before Drew re-signed, it has always felt like Drew felt he had unfinished business in WWE and that’s where he’d end up when his contract with TNA ran out.
“When I left TNA I had an open mind but when WWE came calling, for my wife and I there was only one decision.When it comes to these things I always discuss it with her because she always thinks of it from a more pragmatic point of view. Between us we come to the best decision”
“I knew I wanted to go through NXT first, because that was the audience I was well known with at the time. Their audience is more the type of audience that would have followed me in my time away from WWE. It would obviously be intriguing if I was on the open market, but WWE was always the best decision for me and would have been even if AEW came calling“
His time on the indies had an almost poetic end. Chapters in Evolve and ICW had ended with many career defining moments. But the last match was almost poetic. Everyone knew both men involved were headed for bigger things than that but it was a nice way to round it off for Drew before he moved on to the next chapter.
“The last match I had on the indies was me and Cody, with Wade Barrett on commentary. That was a great moment for us all, Cody and I get on well and Wade’s a good mate, so to have the crowd really in to that and to have people I’m friends with involved in that match. We got so used to competing with each other, even though we were friendly. Its like as much as I like the guy and he liked me, we’re both competing for the same spots a lot of the time which means there’s a competitive element there always. So it was nice for him to say some encouraging things to me on the mic after the match. We’ve both gone on to do some big things “
It was a friendship/rivalry built on a similar mentality. A competitive spirit that has driven both of them to be the very best they can be despite the pitfalls and setbacks. They were born for this, even if one was literally born into wrestling and the other is as he puts it “Just a big guy fae Ayr”. They are naturals and two fine individuals to be leading wrestling into the future.
“We always pushed each other simply by trying to outdo one and other and that’s how it should be. You can’t just be happy to have made it to the party. You have to make something of it when you get there and improve constantly. Never get complacent and think there’s nothing else you can learn. That’s something I’ve referenced in the past. If you wan’t to just be happy to be there, go wrestle in your local town and get your enjoyment there but this is WWE. You’re on RAW. You are obligated to try a bit harder”
One person who he does have a lot of admiration for is someone who came from a similar place he did and is currently one of the biggest names in wrestling. Becky Lynch consistently uses her Twitter to further angles and show people her personality and for Drew that is essential if you’re going to use social media as a tool to further your career instead of something that could put people off you as a person.
When it comes to using real life frustrations to drive character work, few compare to Drew. His words aren’t always popular amongst some of his peers, but if he’s talking about people preferring to whinge instead of committing to getting better and you get offended? Chances are he’s talking about you. He used that venom to power the feud with Roman Reigns heading in to their Wrestlemania match.
Whilst Roman is a man Drew holds a lot of real life respect and admiration for, it was an easy villain for him to be. He tapped in to the emotion that always comes with Roman Reigns and his matches but with the added aspect of Roman having returned from a second bout of cancer. Drew was painted as the killer of the biggest comeback in wrestling.
“I suggested doing the stuff (on the mic) about the way things are in the locker room now. Its not unusual to see people complaining. Everyone knows that too. There’s people constantly moaning on social media, and gasping for fans to say nice things about them so they can RT them as some sort of proof that they’re getting a raw deal. I blamed Roman Reigns for it, because hes the leader. Basically saying “This is your yard, but its easy to be the big dog when you’re leading a pack of strays”
“I always want to be doing something interesting on the mic because it makes people think “Drews shootin on the locker room!” It is somewhat true in the sense that I really don’t have any time for the constant moaning. I don’t have time for people who are constantly complaining about their position instead of doing something about it. Getting better. Because if you aren’t getting the opportunities, fucking do something about it! Whinging on social media will get you nowhere “
When you’ve lived a lifetime in wrestling, having the ability to take a step back and realise it might not be as bad as it feels at the time comes more naturally. 3MB probably felt pretty rubbish when it was happening but now Drew has two pals for life and a chunk of hilarious memories that all form part of his story. The Chosen One is part of his story and very well might be again. The time conquering the world on his wrestling odyssey was all part of the story. The time as NXT Champion was all part of the story. A story that does not carry a definitive conclusion just yet, but the next chapter is simple. Take one of those world titles and carry it with pride. All over the world. As our biggest most successful export. The pride of Scottish Wrestling. Drew McIntyre.
Huge thank you to Drew for his time.
All photo credits go to David J Wilson and WWE. Some tremendous shots from David as usual.
Night one was a wrestling show you could show to any wrestling fan in the world and they’d find at least one thing they liked. Class from top to bottom. A big variety bag of wrestling goodness. Night two was the start of the road to the Hydro. New storylines came to the forefront. Journeys came full circle. James Storm came to glass folk and chew bubblegum (and hes all out of bubblegum dang it) and Grado came…………home.
Jeff Jarrett also came for a visit. Essentially given the keys for the night, because Dallas knew keeping a hold of them on his birthday would be a fine way to get his hoose….well…..fuckin wrecked. Double J was there to make sure the fine crockery was locked away in the end cupboard. He was there to put a coaster under any unruly drinks that might have had ideas about staining the good coffee table. He was there to make sure all party-goers conducted themselves in an orderly fashion. Most importantly….he was there to crack a guitar over someones napper. After Dallas introduced Double JJ, had a wee strut with him on the ICW logo, and let the crowd know he was the boss for a night he was presented with a guitar by Chris Toal. Shareen Nanjiani’s very own guitar no less. If Shareen knew what would end up becoming of that guitar she’d bemoan the day she accepted that Ebay bid from “LaToalFamilia88” for a sum total of £6.99 (Inc postage and packing) but the signed photo she chucked in for good measure being used for roach is something we can keep between you and I. She doesn’t need that heartbreak anaw.
BT Gunn vs Kez Evans
After tappin’ BT’s jaw immediately following his win over Walter, Kez Evans fancied going one better and actually beating his trainer in a match. The chief issue with that is BT Gunn doesn’t take kindly to having his jaw tapped, in fact he prefers to be the jaw tapper rather than the jaw tap-ee so naturally he came out all guns ragin’. Time to teach this rookie a lesson.
In Glasgow a straight up heider is one of the most effective ways to teach lessons and that is exactly how BT started this off. Fuck yer collar and elba tie up. Fuck a handshake. If someone sneak attacks you mere moments after an Austrian tank has just taken great pleasure in leathering you for 15 minutes, its fair enough to be a bit perturbed at it. BT hit a beauty of a dive followed by some stinging chops before jumping on Kez’s back to ride the pony Happy Gilmore style. We weren’t in Ayr and the Academy is nae race course, but BT was clearly planning to ride this pony all the way to his second win in as many nights.
I liked this mainly because it never felt like the outcome we ended up with was going to happen. BT was in control for most of it and it felt like routine stuff but as it went on Kez grew more menacing. BT was a whisker away from hitting the TMNT and ending it early doors. But the longer it went, the stronger Kez Evans got. A big clothesline, followed by a nice combo ending in a senton had him looking strong. Looking like the guy who didn’t hesitate to batter his mentor moments after one of the biggest wins of his career.
The rage in BT Gunn continued to be doled out in chop form. Multiple chest shaving chops. Pectoral pounding belters. A diving cutter off the top gave BT a two and once again he looked well in control of his young tormentor. He missed the mark with a dive giving Kez a wee opening to hit a big boot in the corner, but his attempt to go for a package piledriver was thwarted. Instead BT Gunn set him up for the Technodrome DDT. A killer move. Up there with the NAK’s famed Killer Boots for effectiveness. It would certainly have ended this contest if he hit it but Kez wriggled free and nailed BT with a low blow swiftly followed by the package piledriver for the three.
If you’d have told Kez Evans at the start of this year he’d wind up beating the Undisputed ICW Champion just one night after he’d beat arguably the biggest name in European wrestling he’d have told you to fuck off, and going on recent form, he’d probably slap ye aboot. BT might not hold all the gold anymore but he’s a bonafide ICW legend and as much as it came from nefarious means, this was a statement from Kez. No more waiting about for the chances to come to him, he’s a part of ICW now and he’s here to fuckin TAKE chances. Even if he needs to put a big dent in his trainer’s chances of reproducing via rapid forearms to the baws. They face each other at the next show on August 26th and there is a more than decent chance BT’s gonnae show up with a trident and straight up murder this upstart but for now? Enjoy the win of your career Kez Evans. You have certainly made a statement
Lionheart wants the shiny belt
Lionheart came out and kept it very short and sweet. He wants the title match at The Hydro. The winner of the nights main event is his. This statement went surprisingly unopposed and he swaggered to the back like the fuckin cock of the walk. The big kahuna. The boss. The future grand slam champion.
Kings Of Catch vs The Hunter Brothers
The Kings Of Catch will have been gutted not to be involved in a tag title match over the course of this weekend but I think the way it panned out suited everyone. We didn’t have a multi team match where it all gets a bit messy and it feels like some of the people involved don’t really get into it much. Instead we got a brilliant match for the titles on night one, and this cracker on night two, which wasn’t officially a number one contenders match but it pretty much was. A massive opportunity for The Hunter Brothers to make a big impression in ICW after some impressive showings so far. Even if they didn’t manage the win one thing you were absolutely guaranteed is a top quality tag match. That’s what they do.
It’s also a talent of the Kings Of Catch but another talent they possess is being conniving bastards. Lewis Girvan offered his hand to Jim Hunter as he had to Sam Barbour the night before, but he saw through the ruse, accepting the handshake only to immediately reverse the armbar Girvan put in after. It was the polar opposite to the title match the night before and that’s what makes the tag divison so intriguing right now. So many different styles. This was all slick tags and double team goodness early on before The Kings isolated Jim Hunter with a combination of slick teamwork, tomfoolery and sentons. Finally Lee saw some action as he caught a roastin hot tag, taking both kings out with a moonsault before hitting Aspen with a lariat to the back followed by a slick German suplex. The Hunter’s bringing their very best on what was their biggest match in ICW to date. If the tag division is going to have more focus put on it going forward, The Hunter Brothers were out to make sure they’d be a big part of that.
A rollup from The Hunters was broken up by a top rope double stomp, one of the more exciting ways a pin attempt has ever been broken up I imagine, before Aspen hit a powerbomb straight in to a knee to the coupon before he found himself on the sare end of a pouncing DDT. The gid wrestling was coming at you thick and fast in this one as The Kings busted out something special right after. Essentially the 3D but Girvan hitting the cutter springboard style for a near fall. They were looking for some kind of mad double team move on the apron that would have no doubt been heavy stunnin but instead they wound up heavy stunned when some evasive action from The Hunters saw Aspen accidentally hit a senton on his partner, immediately followed by Jim hitting a DDT as he came back in the ring. Moves that happen simultaneously when folk are entering the ring are the best moves.
They then somehow combined a brainbuster type manoeuvre with the other yin hitting a superkick at the same time. It was lovely stuff, as was pretty much all the stuff both teams done in this one but The Kings are out for the belts. Losing matches that aren’t even officially for the number one contendership is not the way to turn belts from belts you covet, in to belts you own. Double superkicks to both Hunters, before the Hunters became eh….The Hunted? The defeated? The deid? They took the Apter Burner is what I’m trying to say here and The Kings Of Catch took the win.
They took to the mic after to bemoan the fact that they weren’t in the mix for the title. They’ve been here every show. Putting in performances. Superkicking folk. Being a pair of cheeky bastards. Back in the good auld days some good old-fashioned hard work and wee bit of cheek got you everywhere. Now? With yer millenials all over the shop with their ipads and their berets? It gets ye naeplace. They were stopped in their tracks by RENFREW OUTTA NOWHERE cracking them with a chair before telling them him and a partner of his choosing would face the kings at the next show. Who’s his partner gonnae be I wonder? BT Gunn pulling double duty to reform the NAK? Kieran Kelly? The return of “The Teen Sensation” Christopher? Get tickets to the August 26th show and find out!
Andy Wild vs Jody Fleisch
Matches like this helped make this weekender so enjoyable. High quality wrestling matches without a huge amount of emotional investment involved. They don’t have bad blood. There was nae “feud” here. It was just two guys who somehow haven’t crossed paths in wrestling before having a right good match. It stops you winding up absolutely devoid of energy when the main event comes along when there are matches you can just enjoy as matches. Wild has been on song for a while and has fully embraced the new him. The bruiser who moves like a cruiser. The man with the van and a decent tan. In there with the OG of British Wrestling. A right good time for all involved.
They jockeyed for position early on before coming to a stalemate. Leaving the crowd in no doubt that they are both heavy good at the wrestling. Wild busted out a butterfly suplex before Fleisch took it to the outside, dropkicking Wild off the apron before hitting a beautiful crossbody as captured above by the incomparable David J Wilson. Look at that photo, look at they reactions, folk in awe at the flying Londonder about to land on the adopted Fifer. Lovely.
For some reason Jody Fleisch wound up picking up a leather jacket and hitting Wild with it, giving a whole new meaning to “leathering” yer opponent. Absolute thuggery so it was. Jody’s on a fast track to being in this year’s King Of Insanity match if he keeps on with that hardcore carry on. Terry Funk would be turning in his…eh…bed…if he seen the lengths this man was willing to go to for the win. He got Andy Wild up for a scoop slam right after. They nailed each other with mad forearms, multiple jabs before Fliesch went up top to end it with a moonsault. With that attempt evaded, Wild still had to contend with the Spanish fly for a two count before he hit the sitout powerbomb to seal an important win as he continues to build momentum.
Jody had a cracker with Aaron Echo on night two last year and this was another good yin. Would love to see him in a right good feud for the Zero-G. He is a legend and a big name to have on your show but fuck the legend patter. That would suggest he’s past his best when the evidence in the ring suggest that’s a lot of shite. He’s never been better and is yet to have anything anywhere near a bad match since he became an ICW regular. As for Andy Wild, sky’s the fuckin limit big man. He has a following and seems more focused than ever. Both men will no doubt be after that Zero-G belt. Maybe even the big yin.
Jeff Jarrett makes a match
Jarrett appeared for the second time of the night and he was in the mood to make him a wee match. After teaching us all how to spell his name, the law around these parts appeared to set a few things straight. The bold yin. Just Justice Jackie Polo. Double J exchanging barbs with Double J, JP. There’s no been that many J’s in the same room since Snoop Dogg’s last birthday party. Just Justice was out to demand a match at the “02 Sportatorium” (this wasnt no armoury thats for true) and that match was to be a rematch with the man who defeated him the night before. His perennial enemy Lionheart. After firing out some patter about the snugness of Jackie’s beautiful white jeans, Double J announced that he had different plans for Jackie.
His opponent was actually a dealbreaker in Double J even appearing at the show at all. A man who Jarrett counts as one of his closest friends in wrestling. A man whose name has become synonymous with ICW over the years, but a man whose relationship with the company ended on strange terms. He went out as a baddie who got his comeuppance. A role that entertained me personally but truthfully just never fitted him. That’s not who Grado is. The reaction he got here? The joy on his face and the joy that came pouring out of pretty much everyone in attendance when his music hit? That’s what he does. Gone was all the uncertainty. Gone was any notion that Grado isn’t a talent to be cherished. It was almost like the reset button had been hit and no one was interested in fucking TNA anymore. No one was interested in booing. It was almost like folk actually woke up and realised this is the guy who shifts tickets to normal folk. The guy who bridges the gap. This is the guy the taxi driver mentions when you tell them you’re going to wrestling show in Glasgow. This is the guy I heard my maw pishin herself laughing at when she watched the first part of the first episode of WoS and he spoke about how he walks his dug instead of going to the gym. Yer maw, yer granny, yer best pal. At his brilliant best there’s no conceivable way to dislike him when he’s doing his thing. This is pure joy in a shiny singlet and I hope he never goes away again because he BELONGS in ICW. They were mutually integral in each other’s growth and ye know what? They need each other. Simple as that. Welcome home.
Grado vs Just Justice Jackie Polo
This being the match just made sense for so many reasons. It was the best way to use Jarrett as he is genuinely pals with Grado, and a great way to get Grado in the ring with an opponent he has always had a lot of chemistry with. It also gave Polo the chance to go line for line in a promo war with one of his heroes. Even having the highest of honours bestowed upon him to finish the match off but we’ll get to that in due course eh. Patience ffs. If you waited a full year for a Grado match in ICW ye can wait another paragraph to see how it finished up. Calm it.
Grado emerged to a thunderous reaction. Proper earth shattering, smile inducing, heavy gid shit. Nae word of a lie when I first started going to ICW shows and I was bad mentally, I’d look forward to Grado coming out because it was impossible not to get into it. It was impossible not to get lost in it. It was relief from the shite. He emerged with the guitar Mark Dallas gave Double J earlier in the night before getting in the ring and saluting all 4 sides of the crowd (one side was just Jeff himself, but he done his bit) and finally facing down his opponent. They both done that wee head tilt Grado done at the Barras before his match with Renfrew when he had a baying NAK mob behind him, the same head tilt Polo imitated before his match with Lionheart at the barras. Rivals in the ring they will always be. In his eyes, Polo MADE Grado after all. But there’s definitely a mutual respect there. A wee bit of scope to have a laugh before the serious business kicked off. A handshake seemed to confirm that respect only for Polo to betray Grado with a boot to the mid section. Crafty.
A procession of scoops followed by Polo taking Grado to the ground and locking him in a variety of effective, no frills holds had Just Justice looking strong. In nae mood to lose two nights in a row that’s for sure. A marquee attraction like ol Just Justice can’t be having any of that. Grado drew in the energy of all the Gradomaniacs and cameback swinging lariats, jabs, chops, a roll n slice attempt was reversed before Grado foiled Jackie’s attempt to spark him out with the mallet. A wee bit of shake, rattle and rolling happened, followed by the bionic elbow to the dial, and the second attempt at the roll and slice did indeed land. Vintage Grado. He should have looked right down the camera lens, planted a kiss on it and gied it “I’M BACK BAYBAAAAAY” but instead he kept wrestling. A smart move when you’re in a wrestling match right enough. Fair play.
A wee boot brought a two count before Double J emerged. Clearly not too pleased at being told by Just Justice that he would in fact be reporting to him and not vice versa. He picked up that guitar and knocked Jackie stupid with one of the best guitar shots of his illustrious guitar swinging career. This wasn’t just a shot to the dome with a guitar, this was one man joining another man with a guitar in holy matrimony. That guitar is a part of him forever now. Grado decided that was enough to get it done and covered him straight after for the win. No further damage needed. Polo disappeared backstage looking dishevelled, but no doubt had a big smile on his face when he was away from the crowd. It was likely a similar moment to Jake The Snake appearing on raw and putting his snake on Dean Ambrose. He couldn’t help but smile. A personal hero doing their thing. Even if that thing is cracking a big plank of musical wood over your napper.
Grado insisted Double J wasn’t going anywhere until they had a wee sing song. You cannot book Jeff Jarrett on a show and not get him to sing a wee song ffs. We all wait for that moment when we get to be alone with our significant other. Or maybe just some insignifcant other ye met that night and decided to fire intae with the hope that he/she might have loose morals. The message is the same and they sung it beautifully together. As if The Road Dogg Jesse James wrote with this duet in mind. Wait…whit d’ye mean he didn’t ACTUALLY write it? Why did they base a whole feud on it then? Is it all a lie?
Welcome fuckin back Grado ma man. Its been far too long.
Aaron Echo vs Jeff Cobb
No doubt they were building towards Echo vs Williams for this show but that will come in due time. This however posed a different sort of challenge for Echo. A world-class athlete and one of the most notable wrestlers on the ‘indies’ coming over for a scrap. A truly unique grappler. Built like Rhyno and wrestles like Kurt Angle. Watched a lot of his matches about a year ago to see what all the fuss was about and the fuss was justified. Based on this match the fuss was definitely justified. It was a huge opportunity for Aaron Echo to prove he could get to that level. With key players pursuing opportunities elsewhere, ICW needs a band of mainstays to do the business every single show. Aaron Echo has been primed and ready to be one of the guys for a while. This was the time to step up and prove it.
Cobb is a big suplexing machine and a decent way to avoid getting the bejesus suplexed out of you is staying on the move. Back elbows from all angles. Be as difficult a target as possible. With Cobb on the ramp Echo misjudged a move off the top and found himself caught. Undoubtedly shitting himself for the suplex potential on the ramp, but instead Cobb launched Echo clean over the top rope with a Fallaway Slam. As Billy pointed out on commentary, he didn’t even squat for extra leverage. Effortlessly chucked a big unit of a guy clean over his heid. If anyone wasn’t aware of exactly how good Jeff Cobb is, they were quickly brought up to speed. A freak of nature.
A diving back elbow after a backbreaker got Echo back in about it and he never backed down for a second. As much as Cobb was here to make an impression, this is not his gaff. Aaron Echo’s been knocking on the door for a long time now, and this was his time to announce himself as a big time player. A stalling superplex was another display of Cobb’s raw power before he once again caught Echo coming off the top, this time turning it into a powerslam. He then hit a standing moonsault which is just nuts for a guy his size. Defying gravity, the laws of physics, and the laws of making sense all at once. He hit a mad powerslam variation he uses as his finisher called The Tour Of The Islands (big mans Hawaiian btw) but Echo was not settling for anything other than glory on this night. There would be nae respectful standing ovation in defeat like his match with Jody Fleisch. This yin wouldn’t be another hard luck story.
Rolling forearm from the big man had Jeff seeing stars. Clean connection with the jaw. Emphatic. He immediately hooked him in for a Pumphandle Slam, turning it in to sitout for the one, two, three. A huge moment for Aaron Echo. A win over one of the most recognisable names in independent wrestling and a guy whos just a joy to watch. An excellent match. They showed each other much respect afterwards and that’s nice. Its nice to make pals int it? Big Jeff won’t think its so nice when Echo shows up at his door in Hawaii out his banger looking for a gaff party right enough but such is life eh.
Mikey Whiplash talks
Out to explain his actions from the previous night, Whiplash bemoans his lack of focus in recent months. He apologises to Aivil for not having his eye on her concerns or Legion as a whole. He vows to be better. He speaks of his past successes. One of which was ending Red Lightnings reign as ICW Champion 5 years ago. Red Lightning didn’t take too kindly to that and out he came, but with something different in mind to what you might think. He teased the idea of facing Whiplash in the ring again, telling him he could probably beat THIS Whiplash. Confused. Broken physically and mentally from pandering to the “ugly bastards” that make up the ICW crowd. He told them they were too ugly to deserve such a match and instead Mikey should join the Rudo crew. He could be the face of the brand. A new start. He wasn’t having it. Point blank refused and chucked up the Legion sign which is apparently like a red rag to the bulls known as Iestyn Rees and Bram. They all laid into Whiplash with boots before Ravie Davie came out for some unexpected hauners. As much as he hates Bram and Iestyn, cmon tae fuck mate. A raging James Storm awaits. This one wasn’t your battle.
As is customary on seemingly every show where they are within 100 feet of each other, Bram proceeded to boot Davie square in the baws. Saluting him with the double middle finger before embracing James Storm as he approached the ring with homicide on his mind.
James Storm vs Ravie Davie – Texas Death Match
Ravie Davie. The gallus one. Not an ounce of fear in him. Even if you don’t like him, the set of baws he has on him must be respected. Even if they had just been very much disrespected by Storm himself. He takes an absolute battering sometimes. He is thrust into situations that will almost certainly lead to him getting his shit ruined and he still embraces those situations anyway. He embraces them for the moments that he might create if he does overcome the odds. Moments like that blockbuster off The Garage balcony en route to beating Bram. Moments like the coast to coast he hit after Bram had dismantled his eye socket. Moments like stepping out in front of the Barrowlands crowd with James Storm in tow. Ready to fight a couple of big violent bronze statues. For every good moment there’s pain. For every Blockbuster off the balcony, there’s geting pushed off a ladder by your fiance when you’re about to win the biggest match of your life. For every coast to coast, theres Bram relentlessly punching your eye until its barely even visible anymore. So swollen it looks like you’re smuggling golfballs under yer eyelid. For every moment like stepping out in front of the Barrowlands crowd with a tag team legend as your partner, theres a moment like that very same man smashing a beer bottle over your dome and beating the living shite out of you. For no real reason. Just because he can. Even the previous night, Davie tried to et the jump on James Storm and he was brutally floored. Mocked almost. This was a chance to avenge all that shite. All the doings. Getting chucked down a staircase. Fiancee bumped. Cousin Zander cathing a few pastings in the process. This was it. A death match. Objective. Kill a Texan.
The only issue with that is that the Texan in question has been around a long time and still seems to be breathing. That tells you something in itself. He is essentially the completely opposite to Ravie Davie and something about him has made a veteran of 20+ years fuckin snap. Straight up. A vicious streak has been unleashed and he seemed hell bent on legit killing Davie. Not gaining an emphatic victory, killing the poor cunt fully dead. When a bull rope comes out before anyone’s chucked a jab in anger you know you’re in for a different kind of match. They made their way into the crowd where Davie hit a big senton off one of the many jumpable platforms dotted around the Academy. Fuck knows why this wasn’t a venue ICW ran before because in that regard its rammed with possibilities. They then scudded each other with folk’s beers. James Storm has truly proved his villainy over the course of these two nights because he must have wasted about 100 quid worth of beer. Two whole pints worth in the 02. A disgrace.
He choked Davie with the bull rope again but Davie continued to stay in it. Nailing storm with a Pele kick. before hitting a dive in the corner assisted by a chair that had been previously set up to cause him some critical damage. Then the real villains appeared. I’m no talking about Rudo’s boys. I’m no talking about the NwO. I’m no talking about The Briscoe Brothers. I’m talking about a big bag of thumbtacks. Make no mistake about it, James Storm wanted to hurt Ravie Davie. He wanted him to suffer. He took him up top to hit the Eye Of The Storm through on the tacks but Davie somehow reversed it into a Hurricanrana. His momentum was short lived however, missing a moonsault on to the tacks before Storm finally hit his finisher through a table he’d set up earlier. A valiant fight from Davie but that was the killer blow. Surely. Stay doon for three so this sadistic bastard doesn’t literally kill you.
He would not yield though. Instead he got himself involved in a gless cheque fight. Irn Bru bottle vs Beer bottle. Storm always seems to get there first in these situations and that’s a learning experience for Davie. A full irn bru bottle vs an empty beer bottle? Storm had connected with Davie’s dome before he was anywhere near connecting with the bru bottle. Too heavy. Not compact enough. Difficult to swing. Next time drop all pretence and just bring a stanley knife. It was a fatal error as Storm tied Davie’s hands with cable ties before taking a handful of tacks and filling Davies mouth up with them. Absolutely boak inducing stuff. Truly brutal. A gub bursting superkick later and it was all over. Perhaps mercifully for Davie. If only that was the end of his suffering for the night but little did he and even James Storm know, it was only just beginning.
Storm continued his attack after the match of course. That wasn’t a joke, he really is trying to murder Ravie Davie. Putting 20-30 thumbtacks in someones mouth and kicking them is at the very least an attempt to make eating impossible. How the fuck can someone eat if their mouth is mostly thumbtacks. Zander was the first out to put a stop to the attack, then to everyones surprise Davies real life pal Leyton Buzzard arrived. That made it feel all the more real. The image of his real life best pal so distraught by the kicking he was taking. He had no idea that was just the tip of the iceberg. It would get so, so much worse.
Joe Hendry arrived swinging a chair wildly. Clearing Storm out. He got on the mic and it sounded like a full blown character change was in effect. Buoyed by the respect and cheers he got at the end of the war with Renfrew, Joe was a changed man. A company man. Or….not. He attacked Leyton for insubordination. Not following simple instructions. Acting as a lone wolf. His words were so cutting. So vicious. Egging his apprentice on. DEMANDING he hit his best pal with a chair. Thirsting for it. Joe Hendry wanted Leyton Buzzard, Ravie Davie, Zander and the whole audience to know HE is in control. He controls his assistant. He controls what happens to people outwith ICW. He can make or break you and by the sound of his words he’s out to do a lot more breaking than making. He wanted Leyton to learn a lesson the hardest way possible and he reluctantly did hit a defenceless Davie with the chair. Freed from the cable-ties by Joe initially but frozen to the spot with exhaustion. He urged Leyton to do it for the sake of his career and Davies. Joe threatened to blackball them both. It was the only way. He carried out a frenzied beat down, not even realising Joe had left the ring before he stopped and looked at his pals in horror. What have I done? Happy with his nights work Joe disappeared, and Leyton left through the crowd. Broken.
Viper vs Martina vs Kasey – ICW Womens Title Match
Viper will have been a perturbed that this yin was scheduled right before her man went for the men’s title in the main event, with Kay Lee Ray not being involved leaving her free and clear to meddle as she pleases. She will have been even more perturbed when The Wee Man, now managing Kasey, got on the mic to praise her abilities as a standard-bearer for the women’s division while also telling the crowd that it was a “fuckin cobra” in her entrance video. A revelation that had everyone in the ring having to stifle a mad bout of the giggles. Not to say they are done with ICW but with Rampage and Ashton Smith both being handed big opportunities elsewhere, putting The Wee Man with Kasey is a bit of a masterstroke. Leaving her to focus on impressing in the ring while the best hype man in Scottish Wrestling does his thing on the mic. Triple threat matches always have the capacity to be a bit shite, but so does every match I suppose. Sometimes matches are just shite. This was not.
Viper started out with mad scoops and a Viper Driver, sensing that she had to come out swingin before the Irish alliance joined forces to try to take her down. Martina hit a beauty of a suicide dive as they took the action outside before Viper again put paid to any kind of double team carry on by reversing a double suplex attempt in to her own form of double suplex. Martina was then whipped towards a waiting Viper in the corner for her version of the Bronco Buster which is paints quite a vivid picture when it’s referred to as “The Yeast Infection”, only for Viper to continue to keep the troublesome Irish pair at bay with a double crossbody. Back on the outside Viper hit a cannonball on to both her opponents and a team of security guards who made the mistake of hosting their weekly game of switch at ringside during a match. I know yees love a good game of cairds boays but this was hardly the time for it. Another double move, this time a double back suplex kept Viper in the ascendancy. Never leaving her two opponents to battle it out one on one. If anyone was taking her belt they’d at the very least need to go through her first.
A Viper Driver on Martina was quickly followed by Kasey hitting that running knee called The Killing Joke a few times but when that failed to put Viper away she went to her go to. Polo goes for the mallet. Jester goes for the corkscrew. Sha Samuels goes for a pint and a bag of pork scratchings. Kasey goes for the bat. Its part of who she is now, but she didn’t count on a mad Italian burd lurking under the the ring to skelp her sideyways. Aiivil emerged to fight Kasey all the way to the back, starting what will no doubt be an excellent feud between them but also taking Kasey out of the equation and ending her quest to become a three time champ, leaving Viper to hit Martina with the Viper Driver to retain that shiny belt.
Very entertaining match right enough. I’m a bit buzzin to see how Kasey and Aivil develops and for Viper, it was a hard fought defence at a time where she really didn’t want it. Should’ve slipped Double J a score and fired him that “put me on first eh big man” wink so she could be as present as possible for husband’s big match but no to worry eh. I think he ended up doing awrite.
Stevie Boy vs DCT – ICW World Title Match
If you sat these two down three years ago and told them they’d be in the main event for the ICW World Title in three years time they have probably went “How the fuck dae you know? have they finally perfected time travel? Did Trump win the election? How many times have The Gzrs won the tag titles? We have so many questions! Where’s yer DeLorean parked?” but here they were. Its been a remarkable ascent for them both but a true testimony to where a bit of hard graft can get you. So many who started training around the time when Stevie did don’t even wrestle anymore. Many more have settled for mediocrity. Wrestling as a hobby. Similarly quirky characters of DCT’s ilk never shake that quirkyness off. They become the quirk. It defines them and their careers going forward. DCT knew there was more for him. DCT stepped in front of the buzzsaw known as Bram and took an almighty doing to prove he was more than a moustache. More than a sex hero with a densely stamped passport. Neither of them were really supposed to be here and that’s what made this truly special. A main event born and raised in ICW. These guys grew up in this company. They had their first taste of main event spots in this company when they tore the house down at Spacebaws. Now this was THEIR time. They got to close the weekender and they fucking delivered. Streamers rained down as they entered the ring for a match that would change the course of their careers. Loser leaves. Winner wins the big yin.
Kay Lee Ray appeared on the ramp looking menacing. Immediately drawing DCT’s eye off the champ, but it was another top quallity ruse as she launched a chair at Coach Trip and with DCT distracted, Stevie got fired right in. He clearly had a plan of action and the objective of that plan was to remain a citizen of the UK by the time its finished, as well as the ICW World Champion. He accidentally dropkicked his burd, an act of accidental betrayal that was met with the “Stevie’s on the couch!” chant that usually happens when he accidentally clashes with her. Finally down to a one on one fight they exchanged brutal forearms. On his way to earning this title match DCT has proved he has a capacity to absorb pain like few others. Surviving a brutal Number One contenders match with Renfrew before stepping in to face Stevie in the main event that very same night as BT Gunn couldn’t compete. That night made him in ICW and he hasn’t looked back since. Gone were the days of him not being taken seriously. He proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he could fuckin fight and in ICW that’s half the battle when it comes to winning the big belt and keeping a hold of it. He dished out all the lariats, back elbows and splashes to get back in the ascendancy, even looking for the win early on with a beautifu facial for a two count, only for Kay Lee Ray to fire Coach Trip in harms way at ring side. Stopping DCT in his tracks long enough for Stevie to nail a dive on them both. There might be new music on the go, but Stevie Boy was out to show he still dominates the fuckin world (RIP Stevie’s auld music. Gone but never forgotten)
Kay Lee Ray got involved once more but was taken out by a resurgent DCT. Only way he’s leaving the UK after this yin is if the wife has him booked on a celbratory cruise roon the Maldives or suhin. He knew if he fucked this chance up it might not come round again too quickly so he was as focussed as he’s ever been. He even hit Stevie’s very own move, breaking out the Destoryer for a two count that was as much mental warfare as it was physical. Stevie’s own version also didn’t get the job done after a chair being set up in the ring had led to DCT using it as a launchpad for a beautiful lungblower (had nae idea it was called this but Billy uses it on commentary and it sounds a lot fuckin better than “double knees to the ribs n that, looks sare”)
Viper had finally seen enough of Kay Lee’s meddling and hobbled out to provide matrimonial hauners, only for the Kings Of Catch to once again prove pivotal in proccedings. Intervening eventually but only after Stevie had crashed through a table that he previously set up on the outside. Kay Lee Ray set out handing out a whole load of superkicks, only for Coach Trip, who had previously taken one right on the jaw to bust one out of his own, rolling back the years to set the example his charge needed to go on and win the big yin. Like when Ale Ferguson chucked that teacup at Beckham and he single handedly won the World Cup for Real Madrid. Or suhin like that. Stevie capitalised on the Kings involvement to go for a second, no doubt fatal Destroyer but DCT rolled through it and instead delivered a second facial, this time it was a messy one, gettin all up in Stevie’s face (sorry) in his eyes n everything but he managed to kick out at 2. The figure 4 that made Davey tap at Shug’s the previous year was locked in as DCT looked to turn the screw, but Stevie managed to reverse it aided by Kay Lee and we were back to square one.
It was all a bit chaotic at the end up, which had tended to put things in Stevies favour in the past. He had the numbers advantage and when the Kings hit Viper with the Apter Burner after she’d nailed Kay Lee with the Viper Driver they well and truly had the numbers in their favour. Put yer passport away Stevie ma man. You’re no going anywhere. Coach Trip heroically climbed in there in an attempt to at least distract the Kings and he foiled their Apter Burner attempt on him, leaving Viper to hit a cannonball off the apron to clean pretty much everyone apart from the two guys fighting for that coveted slab of sexy gold. The way it always should have been. One on one. Mano e mano. Destroyer vs Facial. Stevie vs Davey (Campbell Thomson). If you did sit them down three years prior to this to tell them they’d be the main event in three years time, they would probably have believed it because they’ve always backed themselves. Even when it wasn’t easy to do so. Other folk might not have believed it but they were the ones putting in the work and on this evidence its a spot they were very much suited to. Born for it. For the last few minutes this war was all about them.
They scudded each other daft with all sorts of strikes, DCT gaining the upper hand befor Stevie hit a stonker of a superkick. Stevie’s attempt to get a chair involved again was thwarted by a sickening lowblow from DCT. Another aspect he’s proven more than capable of has been utilising the dirty tactics when he’s needed to. Sometimes you need to fight fire with fire. There’s nae prizes for being clean cut and by the book in ICW and judging by his International Sex Hero days (and the fact that his finish is called the fuckin facial) yer man’s no stranger to getting down and dirty. His attempt at the electric chair drop was actually not that at all, instead he dropped Stevie and hit a German before clearing Kay Lee off the apron as she attempted to get in about it again., DCT had fuckin done it. A facial finish for the win. Just as god intended. One, two, three. Wait….haud on. That means……Stevie’s fuckin….aw naw. Stevie’s gone.
One man’s elation was another man’s heartbreak. The thing that will hurt Stevie even more is that he essentially done this to himself. It was him who originally set the stipulation that if DCT lost he was gone and his actions after that made Dallas change it to a loser leaves match. Christ knows if Stevie is actually going somewhere, he certainly deserves it if this means he’s off to chase an opportunity somewhere, but as a big fan of his work it was a gutter to see him vanish up that ramp without that title he worked so hard to finally get. It felt like there was more to come from his run. Take absolutely nothing away from the victor though. A man whose initiation in ICW came with him being eliminated from his first two Square Go’s by a single Renfrew chop, and his first brush with an ICW Champion led to him being mercilessly whipped with a belt at the hands of Jack Jester. He’s no ones whipping boy now. He is the fuckin guy and he’s determined to be the guy who steps out with that glorious new belt at the Hydro. No matter if its Lionheart or some other new and exciting challenge, you’ll need to go through a guy who’s went through hell to get that belt and prove his worth. DCT. ICW World Heavyweight Champion.Living the dream
Big thanks as always to David J Wilson for the wonderful photos.
Mark Dallas started ICW with little more than the clothes on his back and brother, he had a dream. A dream that one day this wee wrestling company from Maryhill, Glasgow would get to the stage where the people who work there ply their trade in the wrestling business full-time. Its been a right bendy road at times. Anything worth having in life tends to kick you in the teeth a few times before you eventually get it, but three years in a row running a triumphant beauty of a building like the Hydro would suggest ICW are doing just fine. Better than fine. The fact that Dallas was running about stressed while looking for turnbuckle pads when I showed up to interview him is a wee insight as to how far this has all came. Think about it, I went to a building that exists purely as ICWs office and GPWA’s training school to interview Dallas, where he works full-time as a wrestling promoter, and his first stressor of the day was trying to find one of the turnbuckle pads he owns and stores in ICW’s very own HQ. If you told Mark Dallas in 2006 that by 2018 an inability to find some of the many ICW branded turnbuckle pads he owns would be a real problem, he’d probably have laughed at you.
Or maybe he’d just nod and go “fuckin right” because having that conviction you’ll get there one day is a big part of building a succesful venture from the ground up. If you don’t believe in your own vision, how can you expect anyone else to? He did find those turnbuckle pads eventually with the help of Ravie Davie, who stoated into the building shortly after me to record a promo video with Dallas and Jack Jester for a reality show they’re filming in the coming months. Turnbuckle pads, reality shows, a roof office with a pool table and a signed Bill Murray poster amongst other trinkets of feelgood shit. Walking through The Asylum was eye-opening before Mark even broke breath to me for the interview itself. ICW is no longer just an independent wrestling promotion. Its a workplace. It had grown exponentially even since I last went there to do an interview 2 and a half years ago. Considering the humble, at times chaotic beginnings the company had, its remarkable to see.
“We’ve learned from the ground up. There wasn’t really any great role model in the promoting side when I started. I was 21 or 22. So I had to learn on the job. I’m meant to be the guy that knows the way to do things, when promoters are generally double my age. So we had to learn from scratch. Our most recent Fight Club show is a prime example of how that’s helped us. A lot of things went wrong, yet you can’t watch that show tell me it’s not a good show. It was madness at times. Wolfgangs ran out about 10 times to batter folk. Reds running about aw err the gaff cutting promos calling people bints (and bastards). It felt like an old ICW show, it was fuckin mental. People were getting injured and things just had to get changed on the fly. And it felt good to come through in difficult circumstances and pull out a great show, it’s a testament to the character in the locker room. Theres a buzz about it now and its great to see. Its going in the right direction, and as much as it’s hard work, we’ll get there”
With the emphasis firmly on bringing through new talent and giving opportunities further up the card for some of ICW’s mainstays, there’s very much a fresh feeling about ICW right now, meshed with a large dose of that unpredictablity that made ICW such a force in the first place.
“I think we’re finding our groove again, and we’re back in to just doing what we set out to do and not worrying about what other people are doing. That being storyline driven stuff, and building to the bigger matches on the big shows. Giving people what they want to see, but also making people care about it. Instead of just saying “here’s this indie guy vs this indie guy” and that being that. No reason for it whatsoever other than shit like “aw this guy does 16 great reversals…awesome”. Thats not what we do. Our stuff is more like “I want to see this guy fight this guy because he shagged his sister…they’re gonnae go to war” that’s fuckin wrestling mate”
Each to their own and all that, but there’s a reason the Attitude Era is so fondly remembered. Even if watching some of it back can be uncomfortable and at times a lot shiter than you remember, it made you care. The stories pushed peoples buttons and made them favour WWE’s product over the bigger marquee names WCW had to offer. It’s a philosophy at least in wrestling aimed at an adult audience that will never change, as Dallas went on to explain while firing balls around his luscious (recently re-turfed) green pool table. “Don’t get me wrong at all, its awrite bringing a big name in for one match and selling a show off the back of that. I’m sure the matches are good, but I’m running a city where I want the fans to come back again and again. The fact that we’re Scottish sometimes comes into folk’s thinking as well. We’re seen as less relevant because we’re up in this wee country in a wee corner of the world and its bullshit. Barramania this year is a prime example of ICW standing tall and showing people what we’re all about. That showed you all the talent that’s now rising to main event status, and the talent underneath that’s coming through that’ll help us get to that next level again.”
Keeping it storyline driven means rewarding your long-term fans. Their investment makes companies like ICW tick and that’s how people like Stevie Boy and DCT end up rising to the top of the pack. The fans have seen every step of their journey to the top and it has been rewarded by Dallas giving them main event slot on Shug’s Night Two. Considering both of them shared their first ICW main event’s as singles wrestlers at Spacebaws many moons ago, it’s a sign of the forward thinking philosophy ICW has adopted that the match up will be repeated with so much more importance attached to it. Stevie defending his recently captured ICW Title against DCT.
“I think that match is something that shows the way forward for ICW. Here are two people owning the main event. Making themselves main eventers. I think the overall night DCT had at the last Fight Club taping made him a main eventer. It’s not that he didn’t have the credentials before, that was just him showing people he’s a force to be reckoned with in ICW. Thats an ICW wrestler if there ever was one. He knows how to get the crowd behind him. Knows how to have a great match, and he knows how to get everyone believing in him. I think he’s very very underrated in pro wrestling. I’ve never heard a crowd not shout “oh” when he comes out”
Stevie’s journey has been a remarkable one. Still only in his mid 20s, yet with more experience than most of his peers and an enviable ability to adapt and grow as a performer.
“Stevie’s become the man. That’s another guy who started with ICW when he was very young. So young we had to sneak him in the nightclubs we used to run back in the day because he was too young to be in them legally. Him, Noam Dar and Davey Boy were all the same. He’s grown up in ICW and now he’s the fucking man. He’s got his own crew, his own coll faction that everyone seems to be right behind. Everything’s clicking for him and these two motherfuckers at their peak are going to collide in the Main Event of Night Two with the ICW Title on the line”
“It’s an opportunity to shake things up and inject a bit of new life into the company. A lot of these guys have been here for a long time but they’re still very young. I think that blows peoples minds sometimes. A guy like a Stevie Boy is 26, 27 years old. Lewis Girvan is another one around 24-25. With the talent going away to do different things, it’s opened up spaces for other talented people to take. Obviously in some cases its big shoes for people to fill and it might take them a bit of time to get there, however that’s always the challenge. Thats what you need to do. Slow and steady wins the race as they say and I’m sure they’ll get there”
Get there just like Noam Dar (any excuse to use this nice wee photie btw, pals bein pals…cannae whack it wae a tenny racket) and many others have over the past few years. Talented people who have grown as performers on ICW’s platform before going on to take up opportunities with WWE and ITV’s WoS. A subject people love ‘debating’ of course but any doubt that performers who take up such opportunities are doing any sort of damage to ICW is quelled by Dallas.
“Its pride for me when I see people who as little as 10 years ago were involved in an industry that was a laughing-stock, compared to what we see now. Now we’ve got guys on mainstream tv, guys going to do panto, going to perform with WWE and WoS. Back then you wouldn’t even think that was a real possibility unless you were somebody who’s built like Drew Galloway, and I for one am over the moon for every single one of them. I know it’s that person that has put in the work to get there but I can’t help but feel a little bit of pride seeing the succeed when ICW was a part of their journey. How can you perform if you don’t have a platform?”
It was a platform used to perfection by Drew Galloway (pictured above kicking his bosses teeth down his throat) Now back for a second run in WWE looking sharper and more polished than ever before. Drew was already the best Scotland has ever produced before his initial WWE release and return to ICW but since then? Big man’s become one of the very best at this on the planet and re-invented himself in such an emphatic way that you barely even recall the years where he seemed to be stuck in place. ICW’s relationship with WWE, which led to a recent appearance by Triple H at an ICW show in Cardiff, naturally comes under scrutiny from fans and Dave Meltzer alike 😉 but Dallas offers a unique and sensible perspective on it.
“Drew (Galloway) is a prime example of the sort of relationship we have with WWE right now. You see a lot of people going from ICW to WWE and they think it’s a one way street when that’s really not the case. The wrestling business has always been like this. Drews time with WWE came to an end, so he came back here, enhanced his character, made it cooler, then he went back to WWE a bette performer. There’s guys who have gone over to WWE recently who worked with ICW, are they going to stay there forever? No. Hardly anyone stays there forever. If they do it’s an anomaly. You might get 10-15 people. The likes of Shawn Micheals, Undertaker etc. Other than that? It’s a rare thing. Eventually they’ll leave WWE. In the past people would leave WWE and it would be highly unlikely that they would ever go back. Now? People can leave WWE, end up somewhere like ICW. Their enhanced status helps ICW draw bigger crowds, they get the chance to work on their character and improve, the people who work with them in ICW get the rub from working with them, they get the chance to alter their persona and maybe become something else in wrestling. Then they’re in a better position to make an impact if WWE bring them back for another run. That’s a thing that will definitely happen but it’s obviously going to take longer than 2 or 3 years”
Trusting the process is something wrestling fans can struggle with at times. Social media has made reacting to things you see so instant and easy, and its often difficult to see the bigger picture. That can lead to folk talking, or the lack of a better term, absolute shite. Wrestling is stories. Some of them are big epic novels, some of them are wee 500 word efforts about a parrot who learned how to swim but refused to teach the other parrots because he identifies as a dolphin
“That’s the thing with social media. Imagine they had that back in the day and you’ve got the Iron Sheikh jumping on Facebook or Twitter after the match saying to Hulk Hogan ‘Thank you for the great match brother. Hope we can do it again soon Hulkster’ Wrestling would never have been anything know what I mean? Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and all that, but the internet gives them the platform to bother everycunt else with it, and that I don’t agree with *laughs* We’re getting to a stage with the internet now where people should be able to differentiate between what’s good and what’s a pile of shite, instead of everything being treated as if it of equal relevance, because some people are absolute fuckin’ gonks…..quote me!” *laughs*
“This is a long-term plan for the industry as a whole, to create more opportunities for the workers within the industry and in turn for them to be in a position to further their careers and make more money. It’s great to see guys who have been affiliated with ICW like Killain Dain, Aliester Black, Nikki Cross, Drew, Noam etc and they go on TV and do something important, or get recognition. Things like make a difference and shows the world the high quality of talent that comes from ICW and how much working with ICW can help you get to WWE in the first place.”
In recent years Dallas has become something of a celebrity himself. A status that he embraces and why not? When there’s an audience for something you create and take pride in, perform in front of them as much as you can while they want to see it. ICW is Mark Dallas’ bread and butter and always will be as long as people want to see it but the exaggerated version of himself you see on-screen is something else. The fact that his on screen persona being so well-known also enables him to perform on wrestling shows outwith ICW, without the added stress of being the man responsible for that particular show going to plan is a luxury and one he enjoys when the opportunity arises.
“I am happy with the fact that ive been able to use the name value ICW has given me to pursue things like doing comedy, spoken word shows, and also doing different TV work like Scot Squad. To be honest with you the other wrestling gigs are just…a laugh. It’s great to be able to be part of a show and the only thing I’m doing on that show is the segment I’m booked in. It’s completely different from being a promoter. I can’t speak for what its like compared to actually wrestling on a show, I’m sure there’s a lot of stress involved when it comes to planning your match, but I’m sure also as soon as that match is over your stress is finished, whereas my stress is the from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep on a show day. It’s nice to get away from that and also make a nice bit of money from it in the process”
Performing on show’s geared towards family audiences also gives Mark the chance to perform in front of his young son Danny. With ICW being an 18+ product chances like that have been few and far between over the years so being in that position is one he relishes. In particular this Saturday when Wrestling Experience Scotland run a show in ICWs first ever stomping ground in Maryhill.
“When it comes to the family shows, I like performing in front of children specifically. Seeing kids going crazy and getting excited for what we’re doing is nice. I always get them chanting ‘jobby’ at the bad guy and they’ll go mental. I love stuff like that. If it wasn’t for the fact that we as children grew up watching people like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, and stuff like that then would we end up being adult wrestling fans? I doubt it. I think a lot of people forget that at times and you get things like people saying John Cena should turn heel. Mate, John Cena’s beloved by children all over the world, and when he’s an old man he’ll be remembered for that the same way Hulk Hogan was”
If being involved in a show at the venue where it all started wasn’t enough excitement, yer man’s whizzing off to see The Rolling Stones afterwards. As ye do.
“I’m buzzin for this Maryhill show because the last time I went to Maryhill it was the bigger hall because with ICW, as there was no way we could run the smaller hall. But the small hall was the first ever ICW arena. With ICW growing as it did, I’ve not had a show in there since about 2010. To be able to go back there 8-9 years later is incredible. Surreal. It’ll be a family show so my son gets to be there as well which is cool as fuck. Him getting to see his Da being involved in a wrestling show is something I love. Its my team vs Red’s team. It’s the two boys from Maryhill, so that aspect comes into it as well. A lot of ICW originals involved as well as the up and coming talent. So its going to be a brilliant experience, it wont just be a normal family show it’ll be a bit like a blast from the past in terms of where ICW came from. There won’t be any alcohol! *laughs* although there will be after because me and Jester are getting absolutely honkin, bouncing in a car and going to see The Rolling Stones at Murrayfield”
I planned on plugging that show in this bit as it’s a stellar card top to bottom but its only went and sold the fuck oot so my advice would be to just mug anyone wearing a wrestling t-shirt over the next few days and see if you get lucky. At the very least you’ll come out of it with a nice new watch and a pair of decent Fila sannies. No belters, but clean enough to wear oot
That Maryhill show gives Dallas and Red Lightning a chance to showcase their storied rivalry in front of a family audience. A rare chance to bring their unique back and forth to a family show and a true test of their willpower when it comes to not calling each other arseholes and other such slurs not fit for a family audience.
“Red is my arch nemesis We’ll be in our 60s with big heavy beer bellies at a legends show and we’ll waddle oot and start slapping each other and hopefully people still care *laughs*. We are destined to never see eye to eye. It’s the same in real life as well. We’ve known each other a very long time but we still bicker a lot and that definitely comes through when we’re performing. That’s not to say we don’t respect each other. We definitely do, but we also bounce off each other very well whenever we collide. The results speak for themselves when we do and the reactions we get. ”
Perennial enemies with a grudging respect for each other are essential building blocks for any succesful wrestling company. Red Lightning is currently building another army, but this one feels a bit different. This one isn’t geared towards taking over completely, its more to do with gaining power from within and taking as many innocent bystanders down as possible as ICW press on with what has already been a strong year in terms of show quality. The next step is getting more eyes and ears on the new look product, as the company undergoes something of a facelift at the next show. New ICW Fight Club logo to go with a roster with renewed vigour and freshness
New Logo pictured in the t-shirt Renfrew’s wearing. Also buy that merch. If ye like….merch n that
“For me, ICW has been putting on some of its best shows in a long time this year and it’s just a matter of time until that gets a bit more recognition on a wider scale. We went from being the coolest company in the world to all of a sudden maybe not being so cool, when you’re cool you can do no wrong, but when that goes away a bit you can’t make yourself cool again for love nor money, so as a company we’ve just weathered the storm a bit, whereas most companies in that situation would just bottom out and disappear. Slowly but surely we’ve tweaked things and rebuilt, brought through new talent, but at the same time kept the same ICW mentality where we won’t bow down to people who want us to change. People don’t realise we want you to moan. We don’t want everyone to be happy and holding hands. We want debate. We want you to react”
“LETS BE AVIN YOU!”
As ICW gears up for another shot at running The Hydro this year, mainstream media exposure is a big target for the company. People talking means tickets shifting and tickets shifting means the new wave of ICW talent get to perform in front of bigger, more enthusiastic crowds.
“With the revitalisation of the roster and the team ethic we’ve built, I’ve noticed over the past year the one thing we’ve been missing that mainstream exposure. Things like the BBC having cameras at the ABC for the documentary (on Viper), so this year there’s been a conscious effort to change that and there’s a bunch of stuff happening in that regard this year. We’re at the point now where ICW is well-known in the UK, especially Scotland so when our name pops up in all these different outlets they already know who we are so yeah…expect to see a lot more ICW in the mainstream media soon as we build towards the Hydro”
Safe to say The Hydro is never too far from the thinking of those grafting away in the Asylum but for now the big focus is on Shug’s House Party 5. A weekender that Dallas promises will be the best installment of the Shug’s series yet and the way the card’s for both nights are shaping up so far, its hard to argue. As much as ICW have always been built on pushing their own talent to the forefront, there’s always room for those special “imports” that offer something a bit different and Austrian powerhouse Walter certainly comes under that bracket. I heard he met Ted DiBiase Jr once and chopped him so hard yer man literally turned to dust. Think about it, when did you last see that guy anywhere? Exactly. His match up with BT Gunn at Shug’s is one that gets the juices flowing for Dallas both as a promoter, a fan of wrestling and a fan of folk chopping the guts out each other, as he went on to explain
“I’ve been wanting to book Walter for a while but he’s a very in demand performer. I’m happy he was available for this show. People wondered what kind of opponent I’d give him, but for me there only was one opponent. BT Gunn. BT Gunn and Walter had to be the match. I’ve seen him post photos of folk whose chest he’s mangled with they chops and I’m like “cool” *laughs* I’ve seen folk like Fergal Devitt buckle at BT Gunns chops man. We’ve got this big monster Austrian guy coming for one of our own. Its like Rocky, and hes Ivan Drago. In the other corner you’ve got the plucky Scottish guy who’ll fight anycunt. No matter how big they are. And they’re gonna chop the SHIT out each other. Its Rocky 6 mate”
One match that needs no selling is the upcoming battle between Joe Coffey and Mark Coffey. If ever there was a feud that could garner fan investment with ease its former tag partners feuding. It sells itself. Just make the match and watch the zeroes jump on the end of your bank balance. Throw in the fact that they’re brothers and two of the best out there? Its going to be fucking glorious mate. I know. You know it. Dallas knows it
“For a long time I’ve wanted to see Mark vs Joe. I think it’ll be an epic encounter. Thats not just me giving you hyperbole, I genuinely think for wrestling fans thats going to be a fantastic contest to see. I’ve wanted to do it for a while but there’s always factors stopping it. There are times they’ve not felt the time was right and I’ve agreed with them as they had other things to focus on at the time. Now I just feel like….its ready. It’s a massive thing if Joe takes that belt off his brother, and the same if Mark retains. It matters. Its something special, especially in front of the ICW who’ve seen them grow up in front of them. This crowd has seen them perform since as far back as 2011, maybe 2010 for Joe. That’s a long, long time, and over that time they’ve become two of the best professional wrestlers in the world. Now finally after all these years, they’re finally going to have that match in ICW. ”
Another encounter that sells itself is the potential match-up between “Just Justice” Jackie Polo and Lionheart. After their show stealing match at Barramania, Dallas agreed a follow up match with the victor, a certain Southern gentleman, whose aptitude for good manners is only matched by his aptitude for swagger, who goes by the initials JJJP…only for his potential opponent Lionheart to express no interest in the re-match. Seemingly going through a break down after his Barrowlands defeat. It’s a match that Dallas certainly wants to see as part of the weekender and considering the quality of the match that night, it’s a match fans must be keen to witness as well.
“My intention as a promoter is always to see matches like that happen. The fans want to see it happen. Main event of night one is where I want to see it. That’s what I think should be the main event. There are people that were really looking forward to the Barrowlands match, and even I expected it to be something special, but honestly, I was still gobsmacked with just how good that match was. I can honestly say it was one of the best matches in ICW history. It seems to be a lot of our best matches have happened in that venue. There’s something special about that building. Hopefully we can talk Lionheart into feeling the same way as everyone else, in that there’s another chapter of this story to be written. If they do clash finally in that main event, all eyes on them, it’ll be something spectacular.”
Everyone tweet Lionheart “shitebag if ye don’t” until he signs on that dotted line.
One man who didn’t need much persuasion to sign on that dotted line is a man who actually wrestled Lionheart once before and a man who JJJP clearly takes a lot of inspiration from. A certain Mr Jeff Jarrett, who will come in as commissioner for Night Two of the showpiece weekender as he comes to the UK for a spoken word tour. All the details of which can be found below in this big poster where Jeff does that clenched fist pose every wrestler has done 1-1000 times in their career
When Dallas put the call in to Jarrett he was pleasantly surprised by his enthusiasm not only to work with ICW, but to share his knowledge with Dallas as they spent some time shootin the breeze. Chewin the fat about the biz. Engaging in some good ol fashioned shop talk
“He’s doing a spoken word tour in July and I found out he was on a wrestlecon in London on the Sunday so I got in contact with him to see if there was any chance he could get down for Night Two. He said “You know what, for ICW, consider it done” and he found a way he could finish at mid-day to make it down to be the commissioner for night two. He’s flying up from London for it. I got chatting away to him and I think we talked for about 3 hours the first time we talked. I think people underestimate his wrestling mind because its incredible. So just to be able to sit on the phone with him and pick his brains was something special. You tend not to push that kind of chat with legends in wrestling, but when HE wants to talk about that and is asking what ICW’s like and all that its hard not to get carried away. It was a great experience to be able to talk to him for that long and made me think very highly of him. If you look throughout his history in wrestling, he always managed to keep himself prominent somewhere that matters. As a promoter, he invented TNA and made them a very good alternative to WWE at a time where no one else existed”
Alongside Jeff when he did invent TNA was his father Jerry Jarrett. Dallas might be due an invite to the Jarrett’s Christmas dinner this year as he’s set to appear on a podcast with Jerry himself. A man who seems to share Mark’s vision for how wrestling should be done.
“I’m doing a podcast soon with, of all people, Jerry Jarrett. An American podcaster who watches ICW asked me to do it. He wants people to talk to him about booking philosophies and all that kind of stuff and he said he put my name forward. I misunderstood at first and thought he meant himself, but he actually meant Jerry Jarrett put my name forward. That blew my mind. I was like….of course! That whole Memphis style where JJ comes from is something I’ve always admired. Think about it, when you look at the territories, what outlasted everything and continued to draw consistently? It’s the Memphis area. Even if it’s not just the one company, that area has always been somewhere that has drawn consistently well. To this day if they put on a legends show they could still draw 6-7 thousand people easily. Thats something special. A lot of people think my main influence is ECW but in reality it’s that, the attitude era with a wee bit of Memphis in there”
When asked exactly how much Memphis wrestling influenced ICW, Dallas responded with enthusiasm. An admiration for the way they crafted stories shines through in his own work with ICW as he revealed the three prongs of the booking plug that makes ICW so electric! (wis pure excited when I came up with that metaphor there, if you’re from a country where plugs have more or less than 3 prongs well…kid on yer no)
“Thats my booking soup. ECW, The Attitude Era, and wee bit of Memphis. All 3 were about storylines. Even though Jerry Lawler was the champ about 38 times *laughs* that was always crafted with stories as well. Big bad guy would win the belt, they’d make hin look like a monster and Jerry would take it. It’s a very underrated territory in my eyes. Anyone into the history of wrestling, look at that territory as an example”
While ICW knocking it out the park consistently in the ring is essential when it comes to drawing big crowds at places like The Hydro (and one day Hampden mate, it’ll happen) mainstream exposure is essential to keep growth steady. A recent venture that’s captured the imagination is Dallas’ latest TV show, the as of yer unnamed BBC show detailed in the photo above. A project Dallas is buzzin to get started with
“Some fans think I’m looking for people to train to be wrestlers when that’s actually not the case at all. If you want to become a legit professional wrestler go to a wrestling school. This is more like a wrestling bootcamp. This is more like a TV show where you get absolute arseholes and you put them through hell. I want good tv. I want the voice over guy to be saying stuff like “Barry from Springburn has kicked off ” and I want Ravie Davie jabbin some trainee. I want arguments. Its going to be one of they shows like when they take all the wee neds and try to scare them straight. I want people just oot the jail. I want troublemakers. I want people who’ve had a troubled past. I want characters. Anyone who thinks this is just going to be the BBC filming a wrestling school and a bunch of wrestlers is missing the point. I want everyone watching this. Maws and Da’s. People who think wrestling is cheesy. I want people in Barlinnie watching this. I want grannies watching it. I want people in their work on a Monday morning to be sitting talking about it. I don’t want just wrestling fans sitting on a forum talking to just each other about how good the show is and how much is respected the business, because only they watched it. Sometimes people don’t see the bigger picture and that what you’re doing is for the greater good for not only ICW but the performers within it”
Midway through the interview Jack Jester showed up to folk a promo with Dallas and Ravie Davie clarifying what the show was all about and I was personally privelaged to oversee the storyboard process of this promo. Many potential names for the show were chucked about, my personal favourite being “Rapscallion to Wrestler” because the word rapscallion is incredible. Dallas said we could finish the interview after the promo which might take an hour or so and I made the decision to hang about because why the fuck no. I had nothing else on the cards that day and seeing a wee promo happen from behind the scenes was something of genuine interest to me. We see these wee videos go up and the creative process never really crosses your mind. Why would it? Its not supposed to at the end of the day. Its all about how the finished product resonates with the viewer, but the whole process is nae joke. Theres is no half arsery at play here. They do it over and over again until the job is done. On this occasion the job was to clear up any confusion as to what kind of person they’re looking for to take part in this show. They want raspers. Roasters. (W)rong uns. Rogues…and above all….Rapscallions
“They asked us to put posts up about it and I knew it would be all wrestling fans responding. They got about 500 emails about it from wrestling fans so they asked us to put a video up about it so they could put it on their social media. Basically asking us to explain it a bit better. Ravie’s going to be used as an example a lot in this series as a guy that’s had a hard life. A guy thats had trouble with the law. A guy thats had a troubled past. But he’s a guy who’s then turned that round. People think when this guy wins this that he’s on the ICW roster. Nothing could be further from the truth. You’ll maybe get a belt and some bragging rights, but at the end of it you’ll get the opportunity to go and train. One of the prizes will be that opportunity to train and make a career in wrestling if that person chooses. Even if someone turns out to be great, they still need to go and train if they want to do this professionally”
Anyone thinking this show might be an easy way in to the wrestling business has the wrong end of the stick. This is about using wrestling as a means to give someone with a troubled past a bit of purpose. Maybe someone with an attitude problem will have that attitude adjusted, while being taught how to display hustle, loyalty and above all respect at all times. This show isn’t about finding the next Dean Malenko. It’s about finding the next Mike Tyson. Its about finding someone who wouldn’t hesitate for a second to bite your ear clean aff, and perhaps teaching that person biting peoples ears off isn’t big or clever. One thing it most certainly isn’t, is a slap in the face to professional wrestling, as Dallas explained further.
“I don’t want people thinking I don’t have the utmost respect for wrestling because I’m doing a show like this. I’m the worst for putting the fear up people in that regard. (Ravie) Davie will tell ye, I’ll walk thought this training school when there are classes on and give them patter like “out of 30 of you, one 1 will make it!” and all that, and the trainers are telling me not to say that *laughs* but thats how it is. Don’t think I don’t have that old school mentality.”
From what I gathered as I sat in Mark Dallas’ roof office, overlooking (I was sitting slightly below it so I was literally looking over it) a pool table with some of the most spectacularly woven luscious cloth I’ve ever seen, as we sat among posters from significant ICW events, signed posters of legends of film and the massive trophy Drew Galloway received for going in to the ICW Hall of Fame that he eventually wants sent over to him (As to how that might happen “That big bastard can pay for it to get shipped” I believe was the direct quote, followed by a hearty laugh) the point in it all is to find someone, perhaps several people, who need something to help them turn their lives around. Its designed to be entertaining but perhaps life changing and essentially that’s what ICW is all about at its core. Buy the ticket, take the ride, reach for the fuckin stars.
“There’s a lot of perks from winning it and being seen on television, but whoever wins it will have no advantage over any other trainee and they’ll still need to get to the back of the queue. It’ll be up to them whether they want to do this properly or not. Essentially it’s not really about wrestling, it’s about taking people who have had a troubled life and helping them better themselves. Maybe it’ll help someone be a bit less depressed, or help them if they don’t see their wean enough, or help them if they’ve had troubles with the law and all that. Maybe they take this as an opportuity to make their family proud”
After recently making ICW’s second ever show “Stop, He’s Already Dead” available on their On Demand service with Dallas and Renfrew providing commentary over the top of it, the feedback recieved has made digging through the archieves a top priority. To know where’re you’re headed, you need to have a right good laugh at where you’ve been as Dallas detailed what kind of thing you might expect from a deeper look at ICWs history
“It is fun watching them (the older shows) back. It’s like watching a toddler book a wrestling show. It was my baby steps as a promoter. Barely able to walk let alone fucking run.. a wrestling show. I crawled a wrestling show *laughs* After you’ve accomplished things it gives you a bit of perspective on those and you’re more able to laugh at it. It makes you think, whenever you’ve got a problem now, just stick one of they old tapes in and you realise it’s nowhere near as bad as that *laughs*. We want to do more of that and go through some of the old ones. There’s footage of ICW’s first match from Fear and Loathing 1. It’s all on cassettes and stuff like that and it needs edited together but we want to do more stuff like that”
“At least these are the older shows that have footage. Back in the day hardly anyone had DVDs and all that. Scott (Reid) unearthed the first ever ICW match recently and its…..*laughs*. (At this point Scott poked his head in from the office below and said its fuckin ghastly, which just make me want to see it more) Mike Musso and Damian Diamond in a dog collar match where the top rope breaks is the first ever ICW match. I cannae even begin to imagine how horrendous it’ll be. Me and Renfew will do it but I’d like to have others involved. Maybe Wolfy, Kid Fite, Liam Thomson. People that were around at that time. In fact, why is Liam no daein an online thing for us. Why is Liam Thomson not commentating on these old shows?. There’s an exclusive mate. I want Liam Thomson involved in commentating on these old shows with us at some point”
Any exclusive that means we get more Liam Thomson in our lives is one I am happy to be able to bring to the world.
As ICW hurtle towards another crack at The Hydro, there’s renewed motivation amongst the whole team to make this the best Hydro show ever. Marketing wise it’s been approached a bit differently, with emotive images from ICW’s history being used to garner interest without outwardly advertising the show details. Simple planting the seed of interest in people’s minds as they wonder just what they’re seeing and how they can see more of it.
“Instead of just doing normal posters with the show details on the, we decided to do a bit more of a digital marketing campaign sort of thing. So the idea was to take these 5 really ghastly photos from ICW’s history and just put the word “Insane Championsip Wrestling – Fear And Loathing” on it and nothing else, so it makes you take notice and you want to look it up and find out more about it. I’ve seen that done with different things around the city, and its a really smart thing, so there’s going to be those five. They posters will go up everywhere around Glasgow over time. When they’re done, there’s going to be a series of posters with images of ICW’s most iconic drinking moments, and they’ll be in black and white, with maybe a wee bit more information about the show, and after that it’ll maybe be a similar style with the match ups that have been signed until that point and they’ll have all the information on it. It’ll be a gradual progression and I want it to subliminally get into people heads. Those five posters we have now are jarring images, to the point that when I put them up in the street, you actually see people stop what they’re doing to look at it. To be honest, they’re pretty fucked up, but I think it’s the attitude of ICW summed up to a tee. By the end of the year we want peole who don’t follow wrestle, who don’t follow ICW to be like “what the fuck is this thing I keep seeing all round the city” and that’s the thinking behind that”
New marketing campaigns, new logo, music and stage setup for the June 17th Garage show, new talent, new main eventers, and whole new set of challenges. ICW has indeed entered its second era, and the first challenge for this new era is topping the two Hydro shows they’ve put on so far. The next one after that is giving their eras their own names. The catchier the better
“I want this to be the biggest Hydro crowd ever. Certainly bigger than last year, which was nothing to be ashamed of at all. Just over 4000. But this year I want more. Who’s to say we can’t top the first year? Ye never know what’s going to happen between now and The Hydro. The first big names for Hydro. New look, new sound, we’ve got access to this etensive music library and a lot of things are going to be different. The stage will look cool as fuck. Everything is freshened up a bit and geared towards this new era. This is the dawn of a new era. I don’t know what its called mate *laughs* I’ve never ran a company that has gone through a full era. Maybe we’ll just call this the second era, and if we get to a third era cunts might start giving them names *laughs*”
Massive thank you to Mark Dallas for his time on what was a busy day at The Asylum.
Thank you to David J.Wilson, Warrior Fight Photography, Chelsea Cochrane, Turning Face Photography, and anyone else whos photos I may have used. If you see your photo and its uncredited shoot me a message or sue me if you so wish
To buy tickets for any of the shows mentioned in this interview, or indeed any ICW show you fancy going to, click this link RIGHT HERE