Wolfgang – Built Fae Girders (Interview Part One)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nae pressure there then eh?

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

READ PART TWO HERE

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

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GPWA Asylum Invitational Review

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

Night One

Ravie Davie vs Matt Daly

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

Krieger vs Danny Cantrell

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

Irving Garrett vs Scott McManus

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

Leyton Buzzard vs Kez Evans

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

Aaron Echo vs Jack Dillon

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

Devin Fawkes vs Kai Williams King

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

The Sam Barbour Experience vs Dylan Angel

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

Lucha DS vs Kieran McColm

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

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

Night Two

Quarter Finals

Aaron Echo vs Leyton Buzzard

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

Kai Williams King vs The Sam Barbour Experience

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

Krieger vs Kieran Mccolm

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

Ravie Davie vs Irving Garrett

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

Semi Finals

The Sam Barbour Experience vs Kieran Mccolm

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

Aaron Echo vs Ravie Davie

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

Fight Club vs The Purge

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

THE GRAND FINALE

The Sam Barbour Experience vs Aaron Echo

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

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

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

An Interview With Iestyn Rees

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You lookin at ma belt mate? 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

ICW Barramania 3 Review

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Wrestling is about heroes and villains is it no? Telling stories? That’s what it is to me anyway. Every character has an arc. A thing that happens to them that changes the person they were at the start of the story. If things didn’t change from time to time, yer telling fuckin shite stories and should write better ones. A lot of shit changed in this show. Stories end, new ones begin. Fuckin wrestling mate. Swings and roundabouts.

Billy Kirkwood’s unabashed joy at the prospect of William Grange coming out gets me every time. He got really excited to see his pal, then we all sung Sweet Caroline for a bit. I realise context would help here for anyone who wisnae there, but let yer brain go wild there. Why would 1000+ wrestling fans be singing Sweet Caroline, or perhaps the more pertinent question is, why the fuck wouldn’t they be? Its a tune.

The Zero-G Scramble (Kenny Williams vs Matt Cross vs Ravie Davie vs ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster vs Charlie Sterling vs Zack Gibson vs BT Gunn) 

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Never been hugely into these matches unless they involve about 900 ladders but this match last year was the start of Lionheart re-inventing himself and had the added intrigue of one competitor not being know going in to it so I was quietly buzzin for it. I mean who could the other guy possibly be? Possibilities are endless Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks wrestled in Scotland that week, so they all immediately become suspects. WWE and ICW seem pally enough to allow special dispensation for a wee Noam Dar visit, if he can stop hingin oot the back ae ALLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEESHAAAA FAWWWWWWXXX for 5 minutes. Even the likes of Pete Dunne, Jimmy Havoc and Tyler Bate were all intriguing options. Closer to home oor BT Gunn didn’t have match and has a Grand Slam to be completing, but naw. None of the fuckin above. Sit doon, and kindly cover up yer semi’s. Embarassing yourselves so yees are. Its fuckin LIVERPOOOOOOOOOLS NUMBEH WUN. Zack Gibson. Like it or fuckin lump it.

Zack Gibson has quietly been killing it for a wee while in ICW, particularly on the mic. Know why? He quite plainly disnae give a flying fuck about being cheered and has catered his character to be as much of an annoyance to the audience as possible. Like a good fuckin villain should. Wrestling does have this grey area between hero and villain now, and that’s aw fine. Dance along the line if it works for ye, but there will never not be room for real baddies who get pure enjoyment from fuckin wae folk. Red Lightning is one of them anaw, but the relevance of that will be revealed shortly (who we kiddin there? It’ll be revealed in about 10,000 words) but the point is, Zack Gibson was the last guy. Until he wisnae cause who the fuck says a scramble needs to be six guys? It’s an open challenge and if the whole Nation Of Domination came doon and said they were in the match that’s how it would have to be. They did not, but BT FUCKIN GUNN did, and 6 became 7.

BT Gunn and Matt Cross flew about together for about 10 seconds which was enough to convince me all the matches from now on should be BT Gunn vs Matt Cross matches. Everywhere. I  jest n that but them two wrestling each other would be some of the dopest shit. Zack Gibson continued his hot streak of being brilliant at being an absolute worst cunt by dismantling a tower of doom suplex thing in the corner. Every other competitor slotting together like some kinda mad game of wrestler jenga before big Zack burst in and knocked the whole tower doon. Followed it up with a sexy big chinlock because fundamentals are important. Even in a mad flippy Zero-G showcase, a right gid chinlock to give you a breather and the opponent a sare chin is still effective.

Everyone bar one very important exception had a wee shot of being interim Zero-G Champion. First was Charlie Sterling, who had his shot of it via a shooting star headbutt after a lovely wee sequence of him doing some mad agile stuff. I’m a heterosexual man, got a burd and everything mate, ask anyone, absolutely daft for fanny, but some lifeforms supersede sexual preference and with that being said, I’d maybe….probably……definitely pump Charlie Sterling. The big ride lost his interim champ status thanks to a Ravie Davie heidbutt and folk went mental for about 20 seconds before he lost it to the impressive ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster doing a hoppy backwards Hurricanrana thing. Who the fuck knows whit ye cry it but it looked good and he was a pleasure to watch throughout. Poor Ravie but, didnae even get to savour it for a full minute. Flash held on to it for a wee while, keeping everyone out the ring. A solid strategy until the poor boy got flip fever. After Kenny and Davie both nailed dives into the crowd, up Flash went for some ill-advised show stopping. Hitting a superb dive, before Matt Cross usurped his interim status with a springboard cutter back in the ring. If there’s any lesson to be taken there, it’s that doing big dives makes ye quite tired and more accustomed to being pinned by springboard cutters.

Sadly for the magnificently bearded American, his interim reign was also short-lived. BT Gunn came very close to ending it, but Zack Gibson tossed him out the ring when he was on the verge of becoming the first ever ICW (interim) Grand Slam winner, and locked in Shankly’s Gates on Cross to begin his stint as Zero-G Champ. With minutes left Kenny Williams had seen his belt passed aboot like a joint at a hoose party, but good joint etiquette dictates that the roller of said joint, or in this metaphor the holder of said belt, gets the last shot of it. It’s just manners int it. Kenny hit a mad reverse DDT thing and become the 6th and final interim champion of the night. Despite a grand slammin (sorry) effort from BT Gunn to take it aff him. Deep down we all knew it would come down to them, as impressive as the other dudes were, these two had the most at stake. BT Gunn wants that Grand Slam so much its palpable. Yer man’s building a legacy and shit like that is what it’s all about. He had Kenny in a crossface for the whole of the last-minute of the match but Kenny would not yield. He held on the his face and in the process held on to his shiny belt. The Zero-G Open continues.

Entertaining romp. Thought everyone was impressive. No big on their being so many “interim” reigns in a 15 minute period but it made sense as the only one NOT to get a pin was the man it would have meant the most to (even if it’s no officially a title reign, BT Gunn being Zero-G Champ for a millisecond would have meant a lot) so aye. Enjoyable way to kick off the show and mad Kenny wound up emerging from the chaos looking unbeatable and hard as nails for surviving a one minute crossface.

Polo Promotions vs War Machine

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Arguably of the matches on the card this had the least at stake storyline wise. Nae gradual story being told over the course of multiple shows. Nae bad blood. Just two of the finest tag teams on the planet bringing the absolute best out in each other in a brutally hard-hitting scrap. Seen a lot of good tag team shit in ICW since 2012, but I have to say this edges the whole fuckin lot of it as my favourite tag match in the company. To steal the show on a card that had so many matches with personal aspects and titles on the line says it all about the story they told. War Machine will likely not be kicking about the “indie” scene long. Truth be told, neither will Polo Promotions if anycunt’s paying attention, but as long as they’re all still available for selection, fuckin pick them. Have this match a million times. If War Machine are available fly them err. Bring back concord flights and have a dedicated War Machine concord plane to fly the big majestic bastards to every ICW show. Best of 5? Try best of 50. Too far? Fuck ye. No far enough.

The match of course kicked off with a big shoulderblock war, because what else would 4 big fridge sized dudes be doing to start off a match. Raymond Rowe edged Mark Coffey in the hoss war, kicking off an early period of War Machine dominance. They’re a machine built for fuckin war, of course they’re gonnae be good at throwin folk about, but Polo Promotions are both upwards of 6 feet tall. Both big stocky lads, and yer man Rowe was chucking them about like empty ice cream cones (empty cause they need SCOOPS, get it? aye, yer a smart kid, you get it) performing a whole manner of suplexes before him and Hanson started tagging each other in with their forearms. There’s a thing ye cannae usually comment on, both these teams have a unique way of tagging. The Polo’s with their gentlemanly no wasted motion handshake tags, and the big Viking fuckers tagging each other in with forearms smashes. Dare to be different. If you’re an up and coming tag team out there looking for a hook, try tagging each other in with elbow bumps or if yer totally aff yer nut, headbutts. Dare to Zlatan.

Polo took some punishment off Big Hanson, including a beard infused chinlock, and considering the big fella’s got a family of Hawk’s living in that beautiful tapestry of hair he calls a beard that shit was mad dangerous, a back body drop bought Polo enough time for a tag and for Coffey and Rowe to re-assume their shoulderblock war. This time Coffey getting the edge and taking the big fella off his feet. Coffey followed it up with some forearms smashes that Rowe was HEADBUTTING away. If you’ve seen a Mark Coffey match before you are well aware he does not hold back when it comes to levelling cunts jaws with forearms and the big man swatted them away with his dome, before sending Coffey down with a combination of kicks and a forearm of his own. Big Hanson then proceeded to run from corner to corner clotheslining both Polos for what felt like hours. Incredible athleticism for a guy that size, but the Polos kept scrapping. Mark taking the big man off-balance before Polo took him off his feet with a high crossbody and they finally managed to nail him with a double back suplex. Polos in the ascendency going into the final furlong.

They stood team to team. Toe to toe. Sizing each other up. If there were judges in pro wrestling, the scorecards would have been all even at that point. Two top quality teams who had given each other the absolute business. As much business as they could handle. It all came down to the final chapter. The “Big guys throw other big guys into other big guys” chapter. Hanson and Rowe performed a mad Hardy Boyz looking move in the corner where Hanson flipped off Rowes back, before Rowe basically powerbombed Hanson into Coffey. Hanson must be a bawhair aff 300 pounds and is 100% a viking and Rowe looks like the enforcer for some kinda murderous biker gang, so they have no right to be doing late 90s/early 2000s Hardy Boyz shit, but do they look like the type of folk to be worried about what they should be doing? Polo injected a bit of momentum back into his team with a morale boosting pair of scoop slams. Somehow managing to nail Hanson with one, but the big man brushed it off, up right away screamin “come ahead!” in Norweigan right in Jackies face (I know he isnae actually Norweigan but there’s some kinda Scandinavian lineage there for sure) they nailed Coffey with a big double team powerslam. Hanson hitting a fuckin 300 pound suicide dive on Polo to stop him breaking up the pin but Coffey kicked out at two. Our boaysies wurnae done yet.

Coffey bravely kicking out of the first devastating double team move only served to annoy War Machine I think. Up Hanson went, and down he came with a legdrop from the top rope as Rowe had Coffey up for a belly to back suplex. A move they call fallout, probably because most of the opponents vital organs fall out their arse when they take the move. That was enough to put Polo Promotions away but if there’s nae rematch I am fucking done with this wrestling carry on. Why would you want this match to happen only once? If there’s one thing we’ve learned from movies is that the sequel is always better than the first one. Or something like that…

Wonderful, show stealer of a match that had no right to be going in. As good as stories with a slow build can be, sometimes just a brilliant match is enough of a story on its own.

Stevie Boy vs Chris Renfrew (Last Man Standing Match)

barrasenfstevFrom a match with very little personal bad blood attached to it, to one that was absolutely soaked in it. A year of these cunts hating each other after being brothers in arms for over a year before it all went wrong. One of those friendships that had a brotherly bond combined with both parties having the sneaking suspicion one could stab the other at any time. Stevie stabbed first, and I don’t think Renfrew has truly ever managed to pull that knife out his back. The dagger Stevie, Kay Lee Ray and Wolfgang drove through his heart is still there anaw. Amazing that a guy who got figuratively stabbed twice won a brutal TLC match later that night, but that’s just the kind of Rambo cunt Renfrew is. Stevie emerged with Kay Lee Ray but quickly sent her away. This was his fight. Stevie vs Renfrew. Last Man Stabbin.

The early part of the match was mainly them chucking each other into various hard surfaces in the East End of Glasgow, before Renfrew hit a Stoner on a table. Not through  a table in a wrestling way, I mean he scooped the cunt on to a real table. One ye could sit a buffet, or some VCR’s on without break it, and performer a Stone Cold Stoner on that hard surface. No gonnae lie, looked like he picked up a sare arse in the process. Because really real tables are probably not fun to land on. It was entertaining but I’ve never been hugely into Last Man Standing matches. Dunno why, it’s just rarely a stipulation that grabs me. Renfrew hitting a big Senton off the barrier is some shit capable of grabbing me but the first significant count happened after that when Stevie hit the destroyer. Renfrew made it to his feet and floored Stevie with a pair of Stoners. The second coming off the top rope that got Stevie to a count of 9 before he rolled out the ring, grabbed a kendo stick and smacked Renfrew between the eyes wae it. He set up a pair of chairs, no doubt so him and Renfrew could sit down with a few brewskies and talk this whole mess out. Man to man. Much to Stevies dismay, Renfrew had other ideas and decided a double underhook piledriver through the chairs was a better idea than any kind of peace talks. In any case, when given a choice, Renfrew will probably always go with the one that leads to somecunts heid getting split open. That would have been a fitting end to what was a brutal affair, but as the ref got ready to count to 10, Renfrew knocked him out with the Kendo Stick. He could have just picked Stevie up to break the count, but once again when presented with two options, he went with the one that was most likely to split a cunt’s heid open.

Renfrew whipped out the cable ties the same way Stevie had used them on him about 6 weeks earlier and went to fuckin work. A few brutal Kendo Stick shots knocked Stevie out, before Renfrew decided it was thumbtack chair time. Someone else had other ideas, someone else thought instead of it being thumbtack chair time, it was actually drag Renfrew under the ring time. Probably to murder him or at least stick a tongue in his ear or suhin. The man who emerged to drag Renfrew to hell was revealed to be MIKEY WHIPLASH, who then re-emerged to hand Stevie a noose before disappearing under the ring again. Probably to start feasting on Renfrew’s rotting corpse, or maybe he had a crossword book under there, who knows how long he had to wait under there mate. Maybe he brought a wee puzzlebook to pass the time. Point is the whole thing kinda ended in limbo. Nae winner or losers, nae definitive end to this whole saga, but Mikey Whiplash is back and it would be quality if this is somehow leading to a beautiful feud between him and Stevie. A right good feud with Whiplash could be the thing Stevie needs to move up to that permanent main event level and it would also just be a fuckin treat for the senses. As for Renfrew, who knows. BT Gunn and him still have some unresolved business but he might just be living underneath a wrestling ring in The Barras now. Maybe Whiplash has an underground dungeon that only appears when a wrestling ring is built on top of it and Renfrew’s gonnae be trapped there till the next Barras show. Its all up in the air. Wrestling.

DCT and Viper vs Davey Blaze and Kay Lee Ray

This one came about in an odd fashion, after Viper pinned Kay Lee at a Fight Club show ,her reward for pinning the champion was eh…a mixed tag match? It would have been difficult to do two more singles matches on a card loaded with them, but I didn’t really get these two feuds kinda being shoehorned together, even if DCT and Viper tagging together is always an undisputed winner. Davey injected a bit of unexpected heat into the whole thing but absolutely killing it on a backstage promo where he called Coach Trips wee boy “specky” and called his DCT and Coach Trip arseholes, before smashin fuck out the wee mans easter egg. There waere consequences for his sickening actions though. Smashing a wee boy’s easter egg apparently gets ye a Square Go with a big massive UFC guy. Who fuckin knew mate. Dallas, Sweeney and Toal formed like voltron as “Team Da” and made Paul “BearJew” Craig special enforcer for the match. Another who’s felt Davey’s verbal wrath recently as he viciously flipped his nickname upside down and called him a “JewBear” at another recent Fight Club taping.

A wee forgotten aspect of this is that Davey Blaze and Kay Lee Ray once kinda shared a tag title reign. Kay Lee filling in for Davey when he was injured when The Bucky Boys had the titles. So a married couple against a couple of folk who were once married to the same belt. Throw in some UFC guys, and baseball bat wae a horses face on it and you’ve got yourself a party. Viper tossed Kay Lee to the outside in almost a suicide dive that hit both DCT and Davey before Viper went up top, only for Wee Man to stop her from doing a big dive. Worried for her safety of course. He must have been worried about her neck anaw, cause he then went on to hold a baseball bat across her throat as Davey got ready to smash another few eggs, but a wild BearJew appeared to save the day. And the eggs.

Another UFC guy got involved called Chris Bungard, who apparently turned on BearJew for some reason. Hitting a low blow before they scudded each other around the ring in a very UFC’ish fashion for a bit. Bearjew taking the other guy down with a lovely throw. Everyone else with baws took a baw hit, including referee Sean McLaughlin, before Kay Lee Ray took a jab to the fanny. It’s all about equality at the end of the day, if baws can get hit, so can fannies. Wrestling int it. Davey hit a spear and a spinebuster on Viper because ICW mixed tag matches actually allow for real inter genderin. Kay Lee got the pin on DCT after a baseball bat shot from The Wee Man. This is what the whole enforcer business was designed to stop. I dunno if this is leading to an MMA fight in ICW or these dudes doing a bit of grappling, but the lack of enforcing meant DCT needed another saviour as he was being subjected to a post match beatdown. He needed the head of Swat Team Da. The man who had to literally pick up the pieces of that poor wean’s broken easter egg. Fuck a Coach Trip. We’re no going wur holidays here, the man who emerged to give Davey the father of all doings was none other than ADAM SHAME. The man, the myth, the legend. A big fuck off boot to the chops taught Davey a lesson only a Da could teach. Don’t call weans specky. Don’t smash their Easter Eggs, and most important do NOT call their Da’s arseholes if their Da’s are former big bastardin SWA Champions. Shame on you.

Drew Galloway vs Jack Jester (Barbed Wire Ropes Match)barrasdrewjester

When Drew Galloway came back to ICW, it was thriving. Pulling in bigger crowds than it ever has, putting on shows more regularly than ever before, and generally creating a bit of buzz on the European Wrestling scene. When WWE released him he knew ICW was going to be integral in his own personal relaunch, and knew how important it was to make an Impact there as soon as possible. How many folk have a moment like his return at Shugs House Party so soon after being released by WWE? If ICW wasn’t as strong as it was, that moment wouldn’t have been possible.  The views on the youtube video would have been a few thousand rather than hundreds of thousands. It was a big deal because it blew the roof off the place in a way that wouldn’t have been possible in a smaller venue with less of a rabid crowd. Simple as that. Drew’s moment was the first in a long line of moments and achievements that have since led to WWE signing him again. This time signing him as a guy who’s barely 30 with 15+ years experience all over the world. A guy who wasn’t content to live off nostalgia bookings using his WWE name and gimmick. A guy who wanted to do something different. To truly stand out he needed ICW, and to move to the next level, ICW needed him. That night he returned, he saved his old friend Jack Jester from the NAK, and thwarted Chris Renfrew’s attempt to cash in his ICW Title Shot he earned from winning the Square Go earlier in the year. He then celebrated with his old pal, only to knock the living shite out of him moments later. Lobbed him through tables and aw sorts. It was some brutal shit, and led to Drew ending Jesters year long reign as ICW Champion at ICW’s first Barrowlands show, so its only fitting that this chapter in Drew’s ICW career ends in the same place. Against the same opponent. Stories n that. Sometimes they come full circle. Sometimes they end with having a hunner puncture wounds in yer arse because yer pal baseball slid ye into a barbed wire board. That’s life.

If you’re wondering why they made it a Barbed Wire Ropes match, it’s fairly fuckin obvious is it no? I’m sure Drew would have taken a wee bit more punishment if he wasn’t a current WWE employee, but you need to be some kind of mad lunatic to actually expect a guy who’s just secured a second crack at his dream job to willingly be tossed in about barbed fuckin wire. The match was given that stipulation because Drew was going out as a stone cold killer. The same way he came in. Sacrificing his best pal for what he seen as the greater good. I’ve been going to ICW since 2012 and have seen Jack Jester take some of the severest doings I’ve ever seen anyone take in wrestling matches, but this was the heaviest one I’d seen him take in ICW. In terms of the ferocity of what Drew slung at him and the amount of times he had to literally rip barbed wire out of his skin, it was at the very least the most profoundly sore looking one. Its not like Drew was swanning about, dishing out a heavy doing and taking zero dunts either. He took punishment. He took a suplex on the floor. You ever took a suplex on a hard floor? Me neither, but I imagine its fuckin sare. The fact that he was willing to be anywhere near any amount of barbed wire for your entertainment is plenty enough risk. Imagine you got yer dream job, a bit of stability, ye tell the wife it finally happened, you’ll no need to always be on a plane, more time at home, more normality, then ye tell yer wife a day before you’re due to start the new job, you’re going down to your old job to have a chainsaw fight with one of yer old co-workers, then yer gonnae swallow a gallon of petrol and shove a lit match up yer arse, blowing ye hauf way across the east end of Glesga. Expecting Drew to get mauled by some barbed wire knowing what was at stake for him is a bit weird and selfish. If he chose to do so, fair enough, but expecting him to is perverse. Jester on the other hand, did choose to do so, and it looked….well depending on your neurological reaction to pain, it didnae look fun.

The barbed wire board he was baseball slid onto earlier magically turned into a table. Jester set it up, but after a battle on the apron, found himself once again with an arse fulla puncture wounds. Drew then ran a barbed wire crown over his pals forehead, carving “NXT IS DA PLACE 2 B” on his skull before running his napper along the barbed wire ropes. A second barbed wire table was entered into the mix, this time Drew powerbombed Jester through it. There was no wee bouncy clean landing either, it broke awkwardly and he stuck to the fuckin thing like a mouse with a gub full of cheese. Drew then literally ripped him off the mass of barbed wire and wee broken bits of wood, straight into the first of at least 4 Futureshock DDTs. He also kicked a barbed wire bat into his face, and I don’t mean that like it was a bat with barbed wire wrapped round it. The bat part was also barbed wire. It was basically just like someone carved a bat shape out of a block of barbed wire, then wrapped more barbed wire around it to make extra wire-y. Definitely said barbed wire too much here. Point is, blood pouring from numerous orifices, Jester kept getting up. He even nailed Drew with a tombstone, but that was as close as he came to winning. Drew eventually put him away with a big shot to the skull with the aforementioned barbed wire bat and that was that. It ended as it start. With one pal knocking fuck out the other. Friendship.

Drew invited Jester and Dallas to join him in the ring as he made a wee farewell speech. It’s nice that he was even able to have the match at all, and it being given the Barbed Wire stipulation to me was a way of Drew going out looking as dangerous as possible, while making Jester look like a bad ass dude who can withstand a heavy barbed wire based doing. Drew completely dropped character and thanked everyone which was confirmation if it was needed that he is, at least for the foreseeable future, done with ICW. If it is the last time we see him in the company, he deserves a lot of credit for helping elevate ICW and put a lot of eyes on the company on a global scale. He needed them as much as they needed him, and at this stage they both leave each other in a stronger position than they were before. The perfect way to end it if ye ask me. He put the title and the company on a platform then used that platform to show the big boys what they were missing. All the very best to ye big man.

Sha Samuels vs Kid Fite (Barras Street Fight)

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This was essentially presented to us as an ongoing brawl throughout the night, as we seen a couple of video clips of them scrapping before they eventually emerged at ringside. Would have been a buzz if they just kept appearing around the venue every so often. Popping up during the Zero-G open so Sha could dae his moonsault and be amongst aw the other high flyers. His people. The backstage bits did involve Sha having to jump out the way of a car being driven at him. The man at the wheel was the source of some confusion amongst the audience. A chant of “who the fuckin hell are you?” even emerged, and let me tell ye, what a bloody outrageous thing that was if I’ve ever seen an outrageous thing. That’s the man Krieger (I get it right this time? Fuckin better huv) one half of the maw pumpin, jaw duntin, PBW Tag Team Champions Lou King Sharp and Krieger. Big Scudmaster Sexy. One of Fito’s elite group of hauners providers, providing timely hauners and perhaps more importantly, a motor that he’s willing to drive into cunts at the behest of Kid Fite.

The second wee clip seen them battling round The Barras market, chucking each other in to shutters and whatnot before they eventually emerged for all us to see. Knocking lumps other each other before Sha disappeared up that top rope to hit the worlds greatest moonsault. Before Christopher Daniels gets on the line about gimmick infringement he better look at a fuckin clip of this majestic thing. Sha Samuels very well might be the best out-and-out villain in British Wrestling history, but him not being a villain in a few companies lately has meant the big man’s bustin out aw sorts of moonsaults and that’s just a blessing I don’t think any of us expected in this lifetime. Savour that shit. If ye were there in person, you saw something truly beautiful. Pigs might not be able to actually fly, but the big hair geezer’s that butcher the pigs apparently can.

Sha took a big grogger to the face, before Krieger got involved again and took Sha off his feet. A big sweeping DDT on to a chair was nearly enough to end it but big Sha would have his moment. In the history of one guy holding a second guys arms so a third guy can hit the guy with a chair, has it ever ended any other way than the guy doing the holding ending up getting smashed over the melt with a chair? Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and repeat it Kid Fite and Krieger did. The chair shot took Krieger our the equation briefly. Enough for Sha to hit a big Firemans Carrry Situout Slam situation to bring this endless scrap to an end.

They even had a wee beer together afterwards. The very thing their whole alliance was based on in the first place. Another story ending the same way it started. Pals knocking fuck out each other, not being pals for a while, then becoming pals again by knocking fuck out each other and drinking beer about it afterwards. The way it fuckin should be. Or suhin. A beautiful moment for Sha, but one he might be struggling to look back on with fondness after the heinous, unspeakable acts that took place a wee bit later on.

Lionheart vs Joe Hendry

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The heinous unspeakable acts didn’t happen here, even though Lionheart did full on scud Joe Hendry on the side of the heid. This wasn’t the feud ending match clearly. They’re building it a bit more before they have a stoater but it was another chapter in the story. Tell ye whit, I was completely convinced it was all “story” as well, even though they’ve done a stellar job of making it seem real as fuck. Watching this back was the first time it’s crossed my mind that maybe there is a bit of bad blood there. They seem genuinely agitated at each other and unable to control the urge to bypass the wrestling to proper leather each other. Every move in the wrestling match portion of this looked 5x sorer than it usually would. Everything had a bit of extra added oomph, and as much as I suspect that’s just them selling the whole thing really well, who the fuck knows mate. Maybe they do really hate each other and the blade that Lionheart said he had for Joe Hendry if he got out of line again is real. Maybe Joe’s gonnae fallaway slam Lionheart aff the Kingston Bridge if he talks smack about his woman again. Who the fuck knows. What we do know is that match got thrown out on a count of Lionheart full on punt kicking the side of Joe’s heid.

The genuine remorse that Lionheart showed after it made ye wonder as well, but then again he also had a large part of an audience in Edinburgh thinking he’d legit broke his neck again before he hopped up and Rock Bottom’ed Kenny Williams so who knows whit this devious character is capable of. Who knows when they’ll have this rip-roaring stoater of a match Lionheart promised us either. They’ll need to stop legit battering each other and do some wrasslin if its ever going to come about.

Grado vs Wolfgang

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Grado’s fuckin sick ae it. I dunno what part of that is difficult for folk. If you’ve watched ICW for the past year and a bit, you know fine well what he’s sick of. The shite. The patter. The moaning. He does the same thing every time they say, Like A Prayer, funny promo, wee boot, hame. He disnae care, too busy acting and making an Impact abroad (see whit I did there? done an Impact joke earlier anaw, its aw about subtlety and nothing says subtlety like detailed explanations of jokes….) He’s no loyal enough. ICW disnae matter to Billy Big Baws fae the BBC. You’ve changed Grado. You used to be one of us, now you’re one of them. Once the everyman, now the arrogant man wae the fancy tan. FUCK TNA, FUCK TNA, FUCK TNA…..AWWWWW BUT HOW ABOUT FUCK YOUS INSTEAD?

All those accusations, all the folk that turned against the cunt because he came from nowhere to be a proper star. Type of cunt ye see in the paper as a charity golf do wearing the same polo neck as Andy Goram and Frank McGarvey having a fuckin ball while hittin some fuckin balls. Type of cunt ye see in the paper writing a fuckin weekly column in the paper. That’s the level he’d reached. He wis in a national newspaper every week. No bad for a dafty, but he’s no really a dafty is he. The character you see in ICW and everywhere else isn’t a real guy. Graeme Stevely is a guy with a lot of charisma and he carved out a character that highlighted all the happiest, sunniest parts of himself because it fuckin worked. It still works all over the world, but it had been most prevalent for the longest time in ICW and in ICW shit had changed. Particularly the crowds at The Garage were giving him mixed reactions. For whit? Whit was the big crime?

Fair fucks to big Wolfgang here as well. Never been hotter property than he is right now. One of the absolute standouts in WWE’s UK Championship tournament and in general can’t put a foot wrong right now. He prevailed in the match itself and continued to elevate his own status, and the popularity he has now will probably see him slowly go back to being a crowd favourite. That, along with Drew’s departure leaves room for two big bad baddies at the very top and a couple of unlikely suspects took those positions before anycunt else got a sniff of them. Grado started strong as fuck, Wee Bootin and R-Gra-Do his way to a pair of two counts. Wolfy busted out his big moves early anaw, landing his Swanton that he calls “The Howling” somewhere in the region of Grado’s baws before Grado’s attempts at the same move came up short. Couldnae just let Sha have his moment eh, had to try and outdo the ShaSault. I think this fame carry on might be going to his head.

Another thing occasionally levelled at Grado from cunt’s who don’t have a fuckin clue whit they’re on about is that he can’t wrestle. He is bad at the wrestling, because he lacks agility, and couldnae batter out some mad choreographed Will Ospreay stuff cause he’s a wee chubby guy. Cunt’s that cannae wrestle don’t bust out Death Valley Driver’s dae they? Did you know before this match Grado could do a Death Valley Driver? Nah mate. Keeps it in the locker for a rainy day, but he cannae wrestle really. Its all an act, these stories he crafts aw err the world. Its all trickery. Greener than Nathan Jones so he is. He got in the ref’s face for failing to count the three and turned round into a big shot to the temple with the trusty brass knuckles for the win. Wolfy’s still a baddie at heart, but when it was all said and done he wisnae the biggest baddie in the ring.

Sha Samuels came out for moral support as Grado took to the mic, seemingly to deliver some bad news. He gibbered about an “offer” for a bit and seemed in genuine angst to tell us what the fuck he was on about only for him to turn round and boot his best pal square in the baws. Whit. The. Fuck. As Sha rolled about like any sane man who’s been toed in the baws would, Grado cut his most beautiful promo in wrestling yet. That electric charisma being used to power evil instead of good. One thing ye could quite clearly see from the promo he cut at the time of him and Renfrew’s heated feud is that with a bit of annoyance behind him he’s a different animal. A guy not to be fucked wae or fucked aboot. No feart to say shit that needs said. As much as him getting on the mic and getting each and every person who’s doubted him TELLT was part of his character evolving, you could tell it was a wee bit cathartic for him anaw. Letting all those frustrations out as he told us all HE runs the place. We’re all there because of HIM, and if ICW want to continue using his name to sell out shows, they’d need to go through his newly appointed agent. Red Lightning. Aye. He’s fuckin back. Deal wae it.

Tell ye something, the whole Black Label vs ICW thing as a story line had its flaws. There were moments where it was disjointed and didn’t make hunners of sense, but Red Lightning from a performance aspect was untouchable throughout. An absolute integral part of shows, so the fact that he’ll once again be a part of ICW shows isn’t a bad thing. To assume its the start of the same storyline again and this is just Black Label 2.0, or Gold Label 3.0, or the fuckin first ever Purple Label is a bit daft. Lets see where it goes. The two guys who main evented the first ICW show I ever went to against each other for the ICW Title forming an unholy alliance and Grado’s a fuckin baddie. How can that not be an exciting thing? This is one of those rare things in wrestling that hasn’t actually been done before at all. Even John Cena was a villain once upon a time, but Grado? That guy fae the BBC? It’ll never work. Except the reaction it got and the way it was executed makes it pretty clear that it already has.

Bird and Boar vs Rampage Brown and Ashton Smith

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Tough ask to be the meat between a sandwich of Grado turning heel and a World Title Match. Even tougher to follow one of the best, if not THE best tag match ICW has ever seen earlier in the night, but this was a stellar tag team title match in its own right. Bird and Boar are delightfully good at chucking each other into their opponents and do some double team shit you’ll no see anywhere else. Easy to see why Rampage and Ashton kept their wee alliance on the go from the WoS thing as well, Rampage’s raw power meshing well with the agility of Smith. Fuckin travesty its took Rampage Brown this long to get a spot on a Glasgow show though. One of the best heavyweights in the world and a cunt who’s look and style has ICW written all over it. Hopefully this show is the start of many appearances for him on the bigger shows.

The match was heavy entertaining, it’s a shame the crowd were a bit drained for it but it was excellent viewing. Rampage made his Glesga impact by haphazardly lariating fuck out of anyone Welsh that made the mistake of being within 10 feet of him. Impressed by Asthon Smith as well. Moves brilliantly for a dude who’s about 6’4. Iestyn Rees came out with the marauders, shirtless and oiled up because even when yer no wrestling, if there’s an audience out there, its important to be as shiny as possible. He was quickly chucked out and the portion of the match that didn’t have him at ringside was an evenly matched affair. Bird and Boar keeping their larger opponents at bay with aw sorts of good double team shit, but they struggled to withstand the big man’s power as he ran clean through a double clothesline attempt and levelled them with a pair of clotheslines of his own. It looked like Rampage and Ashton would have the dream Glesga debut but the aforementioned Iestyn Rees got involved again. Why did he even agree to it in the first place if ICW’s nae rules? I dunno, maybe Thomas Kearins looked like he wis ready for murdering a cunt and the big man got the fear, but Iestyn eventually came to his senses, realised he could dae what he want, came back out and took Rampage out of the equation before Bird and Board hit Mrs Pattersons Revenge on Ashton to retain.

Trent Seven vs Joe Coffey (ICW World Title Match)

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If you watched this match and the word “boring” entered your psyche at all, suhin’s fuckin very wrong with you. Or at the very least, you should be watching something that isnae called professional wrestling. This was fuckin terrific and was only narrowly beaten by one of my favourite tag matches ever as match of the night. Joe Coffey has been the standout performer when it comes to putting on the best wrestling matches in the company for years now. So often denied when going for the big prize, but three years in a row of being voted the best wrestler in the company by the fans told the folk at the top something. This guy’s money and deserves to have the faith put in him. Trent Seven managed to do a remarkable thing and got so many people behind him there was almost no choice but to give him the title and the top spot. Something had to give. Two of the most popular characters ICW have showcased in recent memory, one of them was going to end up a wee bit more popular than the other when the dust settled, because that’s how wrestling works. One’s a baddie, one’s a goodie. Always.

They battled with shoulder tackles, neither man giving an inch, Trent mocking Joe’s chest beating antics, and getting took out with a dropkick for his cheek. They chopped each other back and forth before Trent done that fuckin god forsaken chopping the ringpost thing. MATE. I’d get it a bit more if one of the times ye set a guy up on the ringpost and went for a chop that the chop actually landed. Even just one time. The move would make more sense, but does the fact that EVERY time ye dae it, the cunt moves and you break your hand on a ringpost no make ye really re-consider your decision to have it as part of the repertoire? Who am I to tell a World Champion how to do his World Champion’ing, but ffs, at this stage you’re just wilfully causing the destruction of your own hand and its no big or clever. Joe sent Trent into the crowd before clattering him with a dive over the barrier on to the floor to move comfortably into the ascendency. All cause Trent’s more fond of smacking Poles about than a member of the EDL. Get it? Cause they’re racists and Poles…..ach forget it. Wrestling.

They entered into the knocking the living daylights out each other section of the match, combining about a thousand chops each with headbutts, straight jabs, more headbutts, forearms, headbutts, lariats and also some headbutts thrown in for good measure. Joe ended that brutal sequence with a dropkick and some splashes in the corner before nailing The Fall From Nebula to take Trent off his feet. He took Trent up top going for that skull shatterer of a piledriver Trent does from up there but Trent had it scouted. Probably because he’s the only cunt on the planet mad enough to do top rope piledrivers and is therefore the most able to recognise when one is about to happen. Reversed it into a powerbomb followed by that spinny piledriver he does for a two count. They battled a bit on the ramp, blocking each others attempts at various suplexes before Joe hit the sarest of Germans. We then entered into a section of the match I never expected to see before it, the Roman Reigns vs Triple H section. Joe perhaps nodding towards what was to come by paying tribute to the biggest baddie in the wrestling world today, Roman Reings. A SuperIronMan Punch came close to getting the job done, before a second attempt at it was avoided and Trent hit a Pedigree followed by another piledriver that couldn’t get it done either. This was Joe’s night. A discus lariat attempt was ducked and referee Sean McLaughlin was taken out of the equation, before Joe took Trent out with a lariat anyway and agonised over the decision he was faced with. Use the belt and knock Trent out and see your journey to finally become the ICW Champion end in bittersweet triumph. Or put that shiny instrument of destruction doon and win it the right way. There right way in wrestling is often the stupidest way though. The history books don’t have the manner ye won the title beside yer name, only the fact that you did indeed win it and in the end, for maybe the first time in about 5 years, that ruthless side of Joe Coffey re-emerged and he flattened Trent with the belt, before locking in a Boston Crab that eventually made Trent tap. It was finally his. For good this time. At long last, Joe Coffey is your ICW World Champion.

The superman punchin and the devilish look in his eyes told us this was a different Joe Coffey from the one we’ve seen churn out show stealing performance after show stealing performance for 4 years. The superhero paint was replaced by dark eyes and an even darker demeanour and the sudden appearance of Red Lightning at ringside provided a stark reminder of the last time Joe wasn’t a fan favourite in ICW. The Save Pro Wrestling Joe Coffey who decimated Grado and humiliated Red Lightning on the night his own ICW World Title reign ended, was now seemingly aligned with them both. A grudge Red seemingly could never shake off during his spell as ICW GM/owner/general annoyance to anyone who wasn’t his pal, but its all over now. Joe getting sick of the constant setbacks and turning to the dark side in order to become the top guy makes plenty of sense, but aligning himself with a guy who for the past 2 years has tried to stop him succeeding at every turn didnae make as much sense as Grado’s turn. Why trust him now? It’s the first chapter in a story and its intriguing to see where it goes. Dallas recently having a bit of aggro with Jackie Polo and now being levelled by Joe Coffey as he aligns himself with his biggest enemy spells worrying times for the head honcho as half the squad that helped him keep a hold of ICW are seemingly heavy annoyed at him.

Overall the show had a bit of everything. Some things felt slightly rushed but its hard to give 10 matches all the time they need. Don’t write off new storylines before they’ve even really started because ye didnae like the old storyline. Red Lightning is a top performer and him being involved again is fuck all but a good thing. Thanks for reading, thank you Drew and most importantly, don’t vote for the fuckin Tories

 

Review: The Van Dammage – Neon and Noisy

vandammmmLife’s all about taking on new and exciting things that make you and yer wee man aw tingly. I’ve reviewed a lot of stuff. Wrestling shows, and well…..other wrestling shows. Some wrestling shows thrown in there too, and some live events involving professional wrestling. Know what isn’t a wrestling show? A collection of music known as an “album” That’s an entirely different form of entertainment where you can’t cover up your lack of knowledge of the subject by simply knowing the name of a bunch of suplexes, much to my dismay. The Van Dammage are an 80s synthwave collective made up of magical musical magician/musician David Lo Pan, and vocalist/lyrical type person Becca Starr (totally didn’t gather this information entirely from their Facebook page which you can like right here) and in case you hadn’t gathered that means they make 80s synthwave tunes.

The album is called “Neon and Noisy” because its 80s as fuck and the 80s was about as neon and noisy as life got. Trust me mate, I lived the 80s for the 8 months of my existence I spent in them. It wis aw tassles, and taking a black-light to the dancin’ to see who was gettin a sly tug on the dancefloor. A wild time, filled with drugs, irresponsible behaviour, and and haircuts that ye know have a wee shaved bit somewhere but there’s so much other shit going on that locating the shaved bit is almost impossible. We came here to review to music, and by fuck are we going to do that. Don’t ask me how, but its happening.

Aim Right And Fire

Ever fancied filling yer bath full of Red Bull, sitting wae a gigantic straw in it and playing about 3 months worth of Space Invaders in a single day? This is the tune to be doing that to. Like the opening theme for a right good sega game, but a sexy sega game at the same time. A rousing opener to this thrill ride.

Electrifying

The most electrifying song in musical entertainment. There was definitely more potential in that patter than what I’ve made of it but listen, I’ve no got time to be sitting here chopping and changing jokes till we finally find the right fit. In the middle of reviewing a music album of music here. This is definitely more of a shagging tune than our thrill ride of an opener. A tune where gettin sweaty and gyrating isnae an option. It’s not a thing your brain tells you to do and ultimately its up to you whether you carry it out, its a necessity. You should be gyrating right now even though you’re no even listening to it because of the power of persuasive text is too much to repel. Gyrate. Get electrified. Dae it.

Back To The 80s

Back? Where were in the first two tracks like? These tunes are absolutely dripping in 80s-ness. A bit more laid back than the first two tracks. The kind of tune that could easily be the soundtrack for that post gettin yer hole glow. Which makes this the shaggin portion of the album.

Liberate

This is the boss level shit. A bit more serious as the title would suggest. If the album is its own wee story then so far we’ve had the rousing opening titles, the pumpin, the post pumpin kick back and think about all the pumpin session, and now we’re asking to be liberated of the harrowing memories (or nightmares) of that burd/boay ye pumped cause ye got all hopped up on 80s electropop and cola drinks with vodka.

Winless Game

Mainly filling this “review” with daft patter because much like the world of pro wrestling, I’m pure not coming from an informed enough position to tell you what’s up or indeed what isnae up with this album musically. However, last I checked I am indeed a human and most humans for one reason or another can recognise when someone is better at singing than other humans so I feel informed enough to be able to tell you that I heavy enjoyed the vocals on this and its probably my favourite tune of the whole experience so far. This is the part of the story where all hope is lost of ever forgetting a lost lover, but who gies a fuck if yer making or at least listening to some dope syth’ed up 80’s tuneage.

Cougar

This is plainly about a dirty auld lady getting her lady end away and it gave me a semi, so I guess this is the part of the story where everyone gets semis. I dunno. Tune but.

Darkest Night

Any tune that reminds you of Jake The Snake’s theme music is the kind of tune ye need to be listening to frequently. For nostalgia purposes but also for the handy bonus of having a brain that’s constantly ready to prepare you for fending off the attack of a snake. Definitely overtaking Winless Game as my favourite tune so far. Gorgeous so it is.

Thoughts Unheard

Life affirming montage music. That part of the story (aye we’re back to it being a story again, everything is a story, your life is a story, make your own ending, be your own star or suhin) where the protagonist overcomes that obstacle put in front of her/him but does it heroically with sexy upbeat music to go with the sexy upbeat life changes documented in said montage.

Golden

Ahhhh I ken this yin! Christopher Saynt’s quite brilliant ICW entrance music right here on an album of music. This is the part of the story where you’re listening to an album, writing about it, and go “ahhhh whit I know this yin!” when this very song comes on. An important part of the plot I’m sure you’ll agree. Objectively the best tune on the album so far and considering many of them have been excellent and none shite, that paints a vivid picture of just how much of a fuckin non stop, runnin amok tune this is.

Clamber

Is it possible for an 80s synthwave tune to be a bit angsty? If it is, this is what this is. A bit angsty. Like the kind of 80s synthwave tune you’d listen to if you’d just been kb’d from your favourite establishment for wearing a visor and having neon shoelaces. A good tune, gently transitioning us into the grand finale….

Two Sides

See, the whole story thing had a plan all along, because what does a story always have? That’s right, two fuckin sides. Its come full circle. An emotional, titanic ending tp the journey. Genuinely does feel like the culmination of a right good story told in tunes. Maybe I just see everything as a story. Fuckin pro wrestling, constantly influencing every thought I have and decision I’ve made since the first time I seen Earthquake sit on Hulk Hogan and I was genuinely convinced he’d died from sitting on his face. Maybe the government was right to ban it in porno eh. If Earthquake taught us anything, its that sitting on faces IS actually dangerous, and on that note, the album is over, and therefore, so is this review.

If you’re into 80s electro synthwave tunes it goes without saying that you’ll be baws oot and waving them aboot for this, but if you’re into being entertained by music in general, I enjoyed it and as you might have gathered from the thousand and a bit words above I’m not the most musically intelligent man on the planet. I like hip-hop music, the whole Mcfly back catalogue and tunes that give you at least a semi, maybe even a three quarter chub, and alas, that means I like 80s synthwave. So if you’re looking for an album that will justify your decision to rip the roof off your Ford Focus (i know less about motors than music so if that’s already a car that’s roofless, kid on I said a motor wae a roof) and drive about looking for paint that glows in the dark so ye can draw wullies on folk that they wont see till the night time, this is that album.

First time I’ve ever reviewed a music album, and will most likely be the last, but I enjoyed the shit out of this and that means I give it the maximum score that can be awarded in the musical reviewing game. A massive ONE MILLION vinyls out of a million. 

 

 

 

Weans World (by Gary Henderson)

“See – when I was young, you used to go to the carnival in the city centre, and those were your big days out. Like that’s what you remembered growing up as these amazing experiences”- I overheard Ross Watson, PBW owner talking to a trainee as a strong crowd filtered out of the Dobbie Hall – “I want these kids to all look back and remember when the wrestling came to their town and they got to see guys like Grado and Wolfgang”. It was a pretty pertinent point. It’s dead easy to get caught up in social media and be left thinking that wrestling in this country is all adult themed, #britwres twitter, ‘workrate’ matches and all the inner politics and squabbling that comes with it. But while the violent and technical masterclasses in your ICWs and Progresses of the world are vogue – the bread and butter of this stuff is with the kids. The wee lad in the second row on Saturday night with the Rey Mysterio mask and ‘Big Bad Wolf’ t-shirt didn’t care how many stars Meltzer gave Wolfgang as he sat in total awe watching his 18 stone superhero soar high above the black canvas. Neither did the lad – Dylan I think his name is – who I’ve seen at every BCW or PBW show I’ve been to for at least five years. He’s sat there in the front row, every time, decked out head to toe in support of his favourites and savouring every high five or ‘too-sweet’ as they bounce past during their entrances.

As much as a rowdy, pissed-up, chanting bunch of grungers can add to a show – the high pitched screams of about 40 wee lassies when Stevie Xavier goes taps aff is up there. The aforementioned Wolfgang – along with his real life cousin and PBW Champion BT Gunn – stood in the venue doorway for a good half hour after the main event where they had beaten lumps out of each other. Every fan, every nervous wean scared shitless of the big man, every 20-something wrestling ‘connoisseur’ in their NAK hoodies, every dad giving the knowing wink and handshake, every one of them got a few minutes of their time. Some wanted an autograph, most just a hello, a high five and a selfie. Hundreds of them. I was on ‘security’ here and had mentioned to Wolfy that he could just give me a nudge and I would make an excuse or whatever and lead him away. He never did. He play-wrestled, bantered back and forth, lifted folk up and swung them about. As the last few filtered out, I told him that was some shift he put in there. “Aye, really enjoyed that though” he replied. “This is their WWE, they are their larger than life heroes” Ross carried on as he wandered off to oversee his merry (weary) band of trainees pull down the ring. The show itself is about 2 hours of a 12 hour day for the PBW crew. The ring gets loaded into a van, taken to the venue, sits outside the venue while we await janny approval to enter (this is important), gets put up, show time, taken down, back to its holding unit and unloaded again. It’s a long shift, and by about half past midnight I’m cursing the 16 and 17 year old wee fannies (endearingly) bouncing around with some reserves of energy I’m sure I could’ve mustered up about ten year ago.

But in among the engineering work and miles on the road (which I’ve done absolutely fuck all of by the way I’m talking more about the rest of them) there’s food and laughter and bonding and ideas aplenty. There’s flirting and silly drama, talks of goals and aspirations, nerves and trepidation. While at every turn I’m telling myself I’m too old for this and there’s something immature about me kicking about with folk half a decade my junior pretend fighting – the more I get drawn in by this daft business and all of the carry on that comes with it. On the show, there was an open challenge for Lou King Sharp (gimmick succinctly described as a 5”2 loudmouth creep) and Kriegers (taller, hairier, greasier, worse dancing loudmouth creep) PBW tag team titles. I forgot boaysiesssswrestling was fake for about five minutes and started asking LKS if he was looking forward to seeing who he was facing. After snapping out of that idiocy, I changed it to a cool, insider and trendy “Who you working sat wrestling friend Krissy (I’m using your shoot name bro)?” In-keeping with the emphasis on youth here, it would be two up and coming trainees at the PBW Academy – Darryl and Kris (not LKS confusingly). The two of them are everything I hate because I’m not. Young, athletic and ridiculously talented with the whole business in front of them. Kris has had a few matches in shows and had the mind-boggling honour of the ‘experienced’ member of his team at a ripe old 16 years. I know Kris well – started training with him on the same day about two and a half years ago in fact, but while I left he stuck with it and got very good. I remember him having a gob on him and having no lack of confidence. Thankfully, that’s not changed.

I hadn’t met Darryl before. I didn’t speak to him much during the day either. He was quiet, pretty shy and understandably nervous. This would be his main debut in front of about 400 people – on a show absolutely stacked with the best talent in the country (and Lou King Sharp too). I sat in the empty hall after set up and watched the four guys involved put their match together and work through sequences in slow motion as Darryls parents – who come up from Penrith every week to get him to training – looked on. Darryl and Kris were in the lucky position to be in there with a couple of guys who were more than happy to make them look like absolute superstars while coming across as a pair of numpties themselves.

ffffff

The open challenge gimmick is a tricky one to expose new faces to, because when the punters expect a surprise, they expect someone they know or some sort of grand return. This was partially avoided by it being made pretty clear it was an open challenge to academy trainees – but the point stands. When the two lads made their entrance after a rubbish and crap promo by Lou King Sharp the crowd were polite and gave them a warm – if unspectacular welcome. Fast forward ten minutes and the boys have been robbed of the titles by the shenanigans of Krie-King and the 400 strong in attendance were ready to set fire to shit and key some motors. Darryls mum was stood beside me, recording every moment and smiling like me every time I drive past a KFC. Most of the facebook and twitter feedback on the show had been commenting on the two youngsters and how well they done. Towards the end of the night, like many others, I made the point of shaking wee Darryls hand and telling him how brilliant I thought he had done and that he should be really proud of himself. His eyes opened wide and he beamed back “really, did you think it was good, thank you so much, did you really think it was good?” That was it right there man. It takes a lot to make me well up – usually a particularly well-acted advert, or a dog doing something that dogs don’t usually do – but I was nearly a wee blubberer then. Anyway, the next morning I went to training took a back slide and spiked my own head so that was good. Cheers

A fine read that was. Tune to mad Hendo next time he writes a thing. Also mega super thanks to Steven Mckinnon for the image.

Wrestling And Depression Part Deux

Image result for wrestlers shaking hands

I first wrote about depression around 2 or 3 years ago now. Excuse the ballpark figure, but who can be arsed actually fact checking when it involves such strenuous activity as typing a word into a search bar. Point is, it was a while ago now. That first post was to be perfectly honest a liberating experience. To have so many people not only appreciate the most difficult words I’d ever managed to string together somewhat coherently, but to tell me the words helped THEIR struggle and they saw some comfort in reading about someone experiencing similar things that they do on a day to day to basis trying to conquer this beast once and for all, it was the most surprising and rewarding thing I’ve ever stumbled into. Not to mention the wee added bonus that writing about it became therapeutic and helpful to my own battle. We’re all winning out of this one guys. I planned to write a book about this soul sucking affliction and I still plan to/have written bits and pieces but how can anyone who’s such a horrendous, fucked up mess of a human do a thing like that? Write a book. Please. Try sorting out the sorry pile of humanity that looks back at ye in the mirror first eh. Having ambitions is silly. Goals are for other people. Better people. People who have it together. People who know who and what they are. Not you, with the apprehension and the sweat rapidly racing off your forehead like its late for getting in some other poor cunt’s eyes. Not you constantly making excuses to stay in your own wee safe haven. Away from them. Away from the eyes, and the judgement. Away from anything that isn’t perfectly still.

The thing about mental illness I’ve learned above all other things is that it’s a sneaky wee bastard so it is. Let your guard down to it and it’ll eat you alive. Stop doing the things that make it better and guess what? It’ll get fucking worse won’t it. Of course it will. Self explanatory. Don’t deviate from a path that brought success. Don’t take your eyes off the ball, or the ball becomes a medicine ball dipped in concrete heading right between your eyes, taking your head off your shoulders. And there lies the problem with being involved in something that relies on your brain being functional, creative and open. When I first started writing about pro wrestling it consumed me with fuck all but pure joy. Fuck all but worry free escape. Who gives a flying fuck who says what about it, its only words. The logical side of the brain can tell you that sunny shit all day long. You could even give someone a job following you about whispering “You’re fuckin amazin, and yer dick is perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing one ever conceived” in your ear every 5 seconds and it still wouldn’t work. You’d just be a mentally ill cunt with a wet ear listening to the even louder voice in your head telling you its not possible. You can’t do it, you’re the guy who had a panic attack in Central Station and had to get the bus home quietly in angst soaked tears because getting a train to a college course that was supposed to put you on the path to journalistic superstardom was too much that day. You’re the guy who pursued fuck all in a romantic sense for the best part of 10 year because the image that looked back at you in the mirror was sad, specky and definitely dying alone. Why even bother trying. Why.

I guess what I’m trying to articulate is that suffering from anxiety and depression is like a constant internal battle. For a while the side telling me I was worthless and good for fuck all except crustin up socks won every single day. A landslide in favour of fuck all. Sit and do nothing. Watch a TV series. Watch another one. Drink a beer alone. Drink 12 beers and a half bottle of vodka alone. Vomit up 12 beers and a half bottle of vodka alone. For fuck’s sake don’t let your brain wake up and realise what you’re trying to do to it. I wanted my brain to die. I wanted it numb. Having no thoughts other than how I’d be spending the next hour of that present misery ridden day. When I started writing regularly for the first time since I was at school the other side starting grabbing the odd unlikely win. The side that saw the good shit. The side that thought a life of eternal solitude wasn’t a guarantee. Don’t get me wrong, even the more positive side still thought that one was likely, but at least I was open again. I had purpose, and felt like something I was doing mattered and I honestly had no expectations from it at all. Everything was a bonus. Everything felt so very “yasss”. A wrestler agreed to an interview? Fuckin yass. Many wrestlers agree to interviews? Fuckin yass, plus yaldi, plus OOOH WEE. A wrestler agrees to a sit down interview? Fuckin yass plus yaldi, plus OOH WEE, plus OH MY MY, WHAT A GUY. Mick Foley DM’s you at 1am saying he really liked that piece you linked him to about ICW and that he was a big fan of your style. Fuckin…are you……is this….a joke? HOW? WHAT? WHY? REALLY??? NO WAY. Naw….naw fuck off mate. Naw.

You catch the drift there, point is, it was fucking emotion I’ve never really felt before. Mick Foley is my all time hero in wrestling and up there with my auld man, and former Celtic playmaker Lubomir Moravcik when it comes to my heroes in life generally. There’s no one I looked up to as a young yin quite like Mick Foley. Maybe its because I grew up overweight and he didn’t have the chiselled abs like the rest of the spandexed bruisers I loved watching batter lumps out each other. Maybe it was because his character tore his hair clean out his skull and I felt like doing the same to mine (figuratively like, I was bald as fuck from ages 15 to 25). Maybe it was because up against all kinda of evil he still had a soft side. Almost a innocence that remained it tact no matter how many things lined with thumbtacks got smashed off his skull. No matter how many times a “game” wielded a sledgehammer at him. No matter how many times an Undertaker actually tried all he could to put Mick Foley in the ground for good. He never relented. I love John Cena more than most, but as far as I’m concerned he’s borrowing “Never give up” from a man who literally didn’t seem to know how.

I don’t know if this deep seeded desire to never give in was driven by the voices in his head telling him HE couldn’t do it, but the fact is something kept telling Mick Foley to get up and that resonated with me. I remember staying up till 4-5am to watch the 2000 Royal Rumble, when I was at an age where staying up till that time was actually not allowed as opposed to an ill advised decision I make regularly as an adult. WWE had recently secured a deal with terrestrial TV station (purely used that word cause typing channel twice in a row wis hurtin ma brain) Channel 4, meaning the Royal Rumble could be watched without me having to beg my mum n dad to shell out 15 quid for the PPV on cable. Mick Foley under his perhaps most fabled Cactus Jack guise would challenge Triple H for the WWE Title that night and honestly, as much as the death-matches with Terry Funk and the one where he was tossed from 30 feet in the air through a table probably brought him closer to his maker than any other contest, something about this one felt more brutal. The punishment he took that night just seemed to mean more for some reason, because in my naive little brain I was CONVINCED he was taking that title from the man attached to a nose known as Triple H. Good would triumph over evil for once. Violence for the sheer fun of being violent would triumph over huge nosed violence for personal gain. Sitting on the edge of my seat quite literally watching that, and the heartbreak that came with Foley’s loss to The Rock at that same event the year before after the most sickening and probably slightly illegal attack with a steel chair I’ve ever seen are two of the most prominent and important memories I have from growing up watching wrestling. Seems weird that two of the moments I remember more than most are two high profile “failures” but it felt good to believe in someone and be lost in those moments so much that it almost felt like YOU were there. That time period solidified Foley’s role as my hero, the gift (and perhaps the curse) he gave me in 2015 was a different kind of heroism.

I think the most troubling aspect of being validated by my all time hero was the fact that I suffer from mental illness at all. If I didn’t, such a beautiful joyful thing could never have been turned into a negative but almost instantly when I read Mick Foley’s first DM to me I wondered what made me worthy of that? I mean think about it for a second, of all the wrestlers who have gone on to write books, Mick Foley is by quite a distance the most esteemed as an author and has gone on to write several more critically acclaimed books. He has a talent for this very thing I’m doing right now. To have him tell me I was talented at a thing he’s very talented at himself was just incredibly surreal. To have him vow to share my work on social media platforms where literally millions of people follow him was almost too much. I felt mostly great about it all, but the doubts were still there. The doubts that it was all a fluke, and maybe if I hadn’t written about a promotion he was about to appear for, he wouldn’t have read it at all. Truth be told that’s probably the case as he likely gets linked to all sorts every day in his social media life. The perils of being a famous man on social media. I wondered why it was right that social media connecting us all made it so easy for me to make an impression on a man who had to do a lot more to make an impression on me all those years ago. All I did was include his handle in a tweet to get him to notice me, when he nearly fuckin died trying to entertain me.

When I first started writing I had absolutely no expectations for it, but the all-time, never to be reached but keep shooting for it anyway goal was to interview wrestling people. That was it really. I’ve always been interested in stories more than any kind of critical evaluation when it comes to wrestling, so when folk occasionally pull me for not being critical enough it kinda baffles me. I’m not in an informed enough position to fire a star rating at you or tell you what you done wrong in a match and I never will be. Its a role I’ve never been comfortable with in the slightest, but telling someones story? I’m all in for that. Getting the chance to sit next to people you admire and have them give you the time of day enough to really get something good out there is a buzz I’ve never come close to doing anything else “professionally” and when I started doing it, that unattainable goal was sitting next to the man I admired the most in wrestling and getting to pick his brain a wee bit. So I figured “fuck it”. He messaged me after all. He’s in the country for ICW in a few weeks. Why not just ask. What harm can come of asking? Well, him saying no, but apart from that? A no can only kill the self esteem after all, the human shell would still remain. BUT HE FUCKIN SAID YES. Cutting a long story very slightly shorter, he said if he had the time he would do an interview with me and a month or so later there I was. Sitting next to Mick fuckin Foley with a dictaphone and my actual phone just in case the dictaphone fucked up, asking him questions. Interviewing Mick fuckin Foley. Fuck.

mciker

It went by in a 15 minute literary heart attack. A blur. Somehow I was coherent. Somehow I asked questions that mattered to me and mattered to him. Besides transcribing it the day after I haven’t actually ever listened to it back, but a recording exists of me interviewing Mick Foley. That’s real and it fuckin scared the living shite out of my barely functional brain. How did we manage that one? The interview happened after a Micks standup show the night after ICW at the SECC, and he left for Manchester right after, with everyone else still at the venue. I remember standing outside waiting for a taxi when Billy Kirkwood pulled up on his way out asking if I was ok for a lift, and as soon as he pulled away a few tears ran down my cheek. I don’t know what specific feelings were attached to those tears at the time, but christ, around 2011-2012 I didn’t see a future for myself at all. In life. The only thing preventing multiple suicide attempts was cowardice and a reluctance to leave my loved ones with a similar pain to the one I felt every day just from being alive. The best future I seen for myself was somehow getting some kind of IT job as far away from the world as possible and becoming one of those middle aged guys with a shit tonne of money cause they spent their 20s and 30s hidden away from the world getting really invested in weird Japanese porn. The point is, to go from that daily torment to standing outside The Stand in Glasgow after having a dream literally come true, and being able to tell my long term partner about it later carried a significance that can’t be summed up properly with words. My self worth had never been higher in my adult life than it was at that point and well…fuck. Where do we go from there? The only way is dooooooown.

Truth be told from the moment I put that interview up until very recently something’s been missing. I don’t love doing this any less than I did at all. In fact quite the opposite. Often me not writing much is due to loving it a bit too much and fretting about coming up to this imaginary standard I’d set in my head. Truth be told if Mick Foley liked anything about my stuff it wasn’t the quality control aspect of it. I write what I feel and overthinking is very counter productive to doing that. Or at least doing it well. I went off anti-depressants, then back on them, and finally off them again. I got a job and for the first time in many years, maybe ever, I had a pretty normal life on the go. Girlfriend, job, even some friends for fucks sake! Something resembling a social life. Things to do that made sitting torturing yourself over the words you are writing and the word’s you haven’t been able to muster just wasn’t the same anymore. I think for a wee while I was denying it to myself that this is what I want to do with my life and quietly that was wreaking havoc on my self esteem all over again because I stopped doing one of the things. The things that made this mental illness shit seem like less of an “illness”. The things that lifted the proverbial black cloud. The key one was undoubtedly throwing myself fully into something I loved. Something I felt deep down I was born to do. Being a writer. Spending every spare moment writing for better or worse. It has to be this again.

For the past few months, on and off, I’ve struggled again. For the past 2 weeks or so, its been an unrelenting restlessness. A feeling that I’m not doing enough that’s been impossible to shake. Weirdly working in a paper shop was one of the triggers. Front page of one of the rags with a shiny celebrity (be fucked if I know who) telling us how she “Beat” depression. Turn to page fuck yersell to read how you can beat it too! The only time the media really want to cover mental illness is when there’s chaos involved in the lows, or triumph in the highs. No one wants to talk about the day to day struggle. No one wants to cover a story about a person having what they consider to be a good day purely because they overcame depression enough to eat a meal and leave the house. No one wants to talk to you about coping mechanisms, they either wan’t you to be a mess drowning in substance abuse or “cured”. There is no cure. You could be months, years, fuckin decades free of it and one day it could decide to fuck with you again for no reason. That’s the nature of it and telling folk otherwise, pushing this stupid idea that if you do certain things or be a certain way you can be rid of it for good, is something that will forever insult and eat away it me. The only thing you can do is make day to day life easier. Sometimes a lot easier. You can recover and learn to live with it. You can find things that help rather than habitially doing things that harm. One of the few things that helps me is doing this. Because it always has been and always will be a coping mechanism and that’s ok. I think I resented it being a coping mechanism for a wee while and stopped writing about mental illness because I only wanted happy things to be attached to this but that’s not what writing is. Writing is getting the wet-suit on and scuba’ing to the deepest darkest shitest most self doubt ridden corners of who you are and pulling out the words regardless. Fuck giving up. Fuck going backwards and reverting back to the guy who wanted to die. Fuck watching this writing caper pass me by for another minute. While having a full-time job fucks with it slightly, no more excuses. No more letting my brain talk me out of doing what I love. No more of anything between 3 and 6 weeks going by without a single word going on this site. I interviewed Mick Foley ffs. I am something. I am someone. I have depression.