Interview With Drew McIntyre On The Road To Becoming The First British WWE Champion

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Drew McIntyre comes from an era where no one expected this to happen. He started training during an era where there was no training. He started wrestling in Scotland during a time period where there was nowhere to wrestle. There were people, and if you paid them money, you might get some time in whatever spare room they could find to stick mats down, but it wasn’t wrestling training. There were wrestling shows, but they were few and far between and even the best companies at the time in the grand scheme of things, probably weren’t very good.

It took people with unflappable dedication to getting good at this to overcome these hurdles and get good. It took people who saw no other career path. Or at the very least saw no other career path that would bring them half as much joy as being involved in professional wrestling for a living.

Even still, few of them would have truly believed they could make any sort of impact beyond the local scene until Drew showed them how. The fact that when he was released in 2014 he considered himself something of a failure is absolute insanity. Even if he never laced up his boots again, he had still secured legendary status in Scottish wrestling history as the first one who really made it. The Chosen One. I was grateful to get the chance to speak to the big man over the course of a few hours as he travelled from town to town.

Asking Drew if he’d ever pursued any other sport (being over 6 foot tall and cut from pure granite in Scotland usually means you can take your pick) a mischievous laugh poured out as he recalled on the time during his brief flirtation with football (soccer for any nice Americans reading thi_, where, by all intents and purposes he knocked a guy out. Simply by being an fridge freezer masquerading as a human man.

By this point I’d started wrestling, I’d debuted and stuff, so the guys were already calling me ‘Drew The Wrestler’ anyway. My last game I got a yellow for a two footed tackle, should have been a red. Next attack the guy runs past me and knocks himself clean out on my shoulder. I got a second yellow for that and even though I should already have been off, I lost the plot anyway. That’s when I realised I was maybe better suited to wrestling *laughs* The manager used to tell my team mates to piss me off on purpose because I always played better but after that I left football behind”

When you think of that core group of Red Lightning, Jack Jester, Wolfgang, Kid Fite, Mark Dallas and of course Drew himself, you have the founding fathers of what Scottish wrestling went on to become. When he was signed, you could count on one hand the amount of UK born wrestlers who had truly made an impact in WWE, you’d maybe need both hands a couple of toes to count the amount who had any sort of impact at all,

Drew changed it all. He changed the way the independent scene was viewed and put eyes on it in such a different way. Because he wasn’t a star attraction flown in for one show, treated like a superstar amongst dafties. Sent on his way with a fat pay cheque after a half arsed performance. No. He was all in and it showed. He was ready to give absolutely everything.

“I went down to a seminar down in Portsmouth not long after we’d started training. I say training it was mats in the spare room of a post office. But the set up down south was a lot better and I took the few things I learned down there and taught the other guys. We all learned from each other because back then there really wasn’t anything. You had to love it”

While Drew’s aspirations have taken him back to the WWE, many of his personal career highlights when its all said and done will be from another world. A resource that shouldn’t ever been undersold. He has quite literally been all over the globe to perfect his craft in between these two spells with WWE.

As much as the first run didn’t go as planned, in relative terms he done pretty well by all accounts, and with this run the sky’s the limit. While its had its peaks and troughs, its been a career littered with success and unique experience that make him the very definition of a grizzled young veteran (apologies to Zack Gibson and James Drake) at 33 with the life and career experience of a man in his mid 60s.

A swift return to insanity

There were many pitstops in the Drew Galloway world tour during his 3 year spell away from WWE. A huge impact was made stateside with Evolve and latterly TNA. He sold out buildings from Peebles to Palm Springs without breaking a sweat, but it was his time with ICW that holds the fondest memories. Being part of the company in its formative years and having a close relationship with many who remained after he was signed meant that it was naturally the best place to get started on the road to re-invention.

“The Gold Label really started getting things going when I was away. I’m glad I got to see it that one time because the reactions they were getting for that stuff was amazing. I was in Glasgow for a few reasons and I’d been doing a bit of media that day. I was wearing the white suit jacket that Dallas takes the piss out of me for.

Everyone slaughtered me for it and it felt like I’d never been away. It was smaller then than it turned out to be even just a year or so later, but even at that time what they were doing was amazing. I couldn’t believe they’d pulled it off. From then on I kept an eye from a distance and just watched it grow and grow. So when I was released, the first thing I done was phone Dallas and told him to get me on the next show “

If Drew Galloway has an origin story as to how he eventually went on to become the phenom he is today, it happened that night. The storied feud with Jack Jester kicked off and the intention was very cut and dried. Come and get that Title, even if it means mowing down your best pal who grafted for years to get it in the process.

Even in realising how pivotal Drew would be the the continued growth of ICW, the fact that he was always on the go and not always available for EVERY ICW show (although he made more than he missed) was exposed by a few opponents. Most notably Chris Renfrew, who had an embittered feud with Drew ahead of the 2015 Square Go.

That was the first time the crowd started to react to Drew in a negative way since his return to the scene that had been thriving even before he arrived to energise the charge to the top. There was nothing he could do after that other than becoming the bad guy they already considered him to be. Drew go away they would say. Little did they know how much of a void he’d leave behind when he did actually go away. The feud with Renfrew brought up mixed feelings but the rabid reactions both men were getting made the change in direction worthwhile, as Drew explained.

“He certainly pulled it off (getting the crowd on his side). He was standing over me and cutting the promo about how I’m never here and I’m thinking ‘I’m supposed to be the babyface and hes burying me’ *laughs* I know i’m not supposed to say anything back, but I can’t just lie here and take this. It made for compelling viewing for the fans and even if it wasn’t how we planned it out, the feud was red hot.

As long as people were invested thats the main thing but he was pointing out some real personal things.
I could have stayed face for longer if that hadnt happened but as long as people genuinely care thats all that matters. People were losing their minds for it when it did come around”

As much as it perhaps went a bit off book creatively, there is no denying at the time that feud was red hot. Renfrew was constantly vicious on the mic, rendering any attempt by Drew to gain the crowds favour futile. Instead he just had to play the game. Trade insults. Get a bit nasty with it. All part of the journey.

Being the top guy means being able to deal with any challenge. No matter how witty that challenge may be on the mic. That particular challenge was resolved with a tremendous title match at the 2015 Square Go where Renfrew fell short but had perhaps the best match of his career at that point. A trait that Drew become known for during his title run, bringing the best out of some already hugely talented guys.

“Its hard to get annoyed at it when you see how the fans are reacting. You cant get angry if people genuinely care. It maybe wasn’t the way we wanted the story to go, or the best decision business wise, but the numbers are growing and people are reacting. He became the hometown guy and I became the John Cena. he was right, I wasn’t there all the time, but it gave me material because I was genuinely exhausted from trying to be there all the time and I was like fuck you. That’s what sells tickets. Real emotion. And that was what we were bringing to the table”

His time with ICW wasn’t just a trip down memory lane for Drew or indeed for the company. They made the very most of having someone with such strong connections to the company who also had name recognition further afield. Maximising the time they had with a man who has a pedigree that no one has ever come close to in this country. Chuck into the bargain that he was incredibly motivated to re-invent himself and rebuild his name.

ICW weren’t getting the air guitar strummin son of a gun from 3MB (rumoured to be the real father of one of Heaths many kids. What happens on tour, stays in Heaths caravan) No. They were getting Drew Galloway. The guy who’s coming to kick your head clean off your shoulders. Jump on the bandwagon or get booted out the road.


“It was an amazing place to get comfortable being a top guy and performing in front of proper rabid crowds. They loved me, they hated me, they wanted me to win, they wanted me to lose. The main thing is…they cared. If you can do it on that stage, then you can do it anywhere. So its a great training ground in that respect, to be at the top and being able to do it in front of such passionate crowds”

DREW ON HIS SECOND ICW RUN

Some of Drew’s personal high points in ICW and indeed his career are also some of the companies high points. Despite that, he considers himself just a passenger on ICWs voyage to the moon. A man who made people feel. The emotions were never higher than when Drew faced Grado for his ICW World Title at the show that was at the time the absolute peak for ICW.

A 4000 capacity building sold out well in advance to see the ultimate underdog try to usurp the king. It was a dynamic that not only had wrestling fans interested, but just people in general. Grado being a hero to so many, it made being the big bad villain easy work for an auld pro like Drew. Him at his very best is him against bonafide babyface who’s properly over with the crowd, and if you look that up in the dictionary, a picture of Grado is right there beside it.

“At ICW they were well on the way when I got there and I got to join in the fun with my pals. We just kept pushing each other to new levels. There was creative freedom there too in the sense that some things we would come up with that day. The SECC was an amazing atmosphere and felt like the right time for me to drop the title. Grado had the crowd and they were so ready to see me get beat it just made sense.

Having Foley involved in it too and really making the most of having him there. The crowds just kept growing and growing until eventually we reached the 6,000 mark (at The Hydro the following year). Its just mental watching it all grow, its amazing to watch the growth of all these mad Scottish bastards trying to make this thing work and make it work we certainly did”

That creative freedom is always a thing performers appreciate about ICW. To a certain extent its a collaborative effort. At its very best when it function like a team. Everyone knowing their role and fulfilling it selflessly. When you’re the star striker you’ve got a bit more scope to do….well, whatever you want really. At times with hilarious results.

“There was a time where I was wrestling Spud in Birmingham. I couldn’t think of anything interesting to do so I went to find Grado thinking “he’ll have something”. I ended up asking to borrow one of his singlets and I ended up doing his entrance that night *laughs* That was the kind of shit you’d come up with on the fly and there was freedom to do that, That’s what it was.

One of us would come up with an idea, and someone else would add a few things to it, and then something else. It was a collaboration between a bunch of daft pals who happened to be part of this wrestling company and it made for one of the most exciting times in our history and certainly shaped me going in to my second WWE run”

It was also a place Drew became more comfortable with some of the more undervalued aspects of being a top guy. It’s far more than just having the best match on the show, signing a few autographs and calling it a day. Being the top guy means you are the skipper. You are the captain of the ship, and if it goes down, so do you. A point Drew proved as ICWs tour bus broke down en route to Norwich for their first ever show in the city.

A potentially disasterous cancellation was on the cards but the roster somehow made it to the venue only slightly late. In the meantime Drew, who had travelled alone from a booking in Outer Mongolia or Norway or some other mad place, stepped in a filled time at the start of the show with matches against anyone who was trained that was in the building that night. Thankfully the ring crew had also travelled separately, so Matt Daly, Stephen Hughes and not to mention Scottish wrestling mainstay Adam Shame can all say they challenged Drew Mctinyre for the ICW World Title, and well…..got their heids kicked in. But they can still say it.


“One time recently the show finished a bit earlier and Cena filled the time up when he was there. He just ad libbed and was completely comfortable doing that. He saw it as his role as the main guy to take the responsibility. Jimmy Jacobs was saying to me “How many people do we have who can genuinely do that?” and I understood what he meant, but why should that be a rare thing? If you can be a top guy one place you should be able to carry it over and adapt to the challenges that doing it with WWE brings.

Once you’ve had that experience of being trusted to carry a company. To carry a brand. You might have to learn a few things along the way, but you have the basic tools to make this work. My first time around I just wasn’t ready for that. Places like ICW give you experience of doing that. Places who have a platform to help you establish those skills. Its exactly the same in WWE, just on a bigger stage”

“AH…..LOVE……KICKIN FOLK!!!!!!” – RUDO AND JESTER WATCH ON IN ABJECT HORROR AS DREW REVEALS THE NEW ‘MISSION STATEMENT’


A clear message to anyone out there wondering what it takes to go from one level, to something special. Something even they don’t recognise. It takes having the self belief to not only show how good he is in the ring, but backing it up consistently with scathing, passionate work on the mic, There’s an aggression deep down inside Drew Galloway that makes Drew McIntyre one frightening dude. Built like a brick shithouse with a Claymore that will remove the spleen of anyone who even thinks about trying it. If you believe in yourself, making others believe in you is easy. In Drew’s case he wants others to believe he is capable of anything when it comes to his pursuit of greatness in professional wrestling.

“The concept’s the same, dont try and change it up to appease anyone. Just be yourself. Be what brought you here. The only difference is…just sell to that camera a bit *laughs* that big one”

DREw on what it takes to be a top guy

The ICW World Title Crusade (feat Matt Hardy)

One of the more peculiar title defences Drew faced on his magical mystery tour with the ICW Title was a pit stop in the USA. Defending the title against Matt Hardy in New York as Drew continued to cross off continents as he relentlessly pursued his goal of making the ICW Title known as a world title.
“I beat Matt for the TNA title as well, but yeah. Hes been part of my career the whole time pretty much, so it was really cool to have him as a part of that journey”

I was adamant. Whenever I had a booking I’d try and make it work and have the ICW title defended on their shows. It was my job to convince them it was a good idea and it would benefit them, because it was. I had a following and people were keeping up to date. So they could either have me wrestle their local guy and have a good match that people will forget about, or you can have me defend the ICW title and it’ll get a bit of attention elsewhere. I managed to convince a few and thats how we worked the World Title aspect.It becomes a bigger deal than it would have been if i’m defending a World Title on their show”

It all dates back to the mission statement when Drew made his return in 2014. His vow was to get the world talking about ICW and that’s what he done. At times coming in for a bit of undue stick for pursuing other things at the same time but now he’s no longer actively part of the scene, you see just how big a presence he was. His professionalism and sheer talent raised the bar and the knock on effect is the improvement in so many people and promotions he worked with during his time away from WWE.

“Going back to my initial promo, I was adamant the world would know ICWs name. If they knew my name, they’d know ICW’s name as well. It peaked peoples intrest in both me and the company and it works for everyone. Thats what its all about. Building from the grass roots and making it work”

It was a time period that had a litany of highlights for ICW. Having an internationally recognised standard bearer who also happened to be a big handsome bastard is what gets you in the news. It gets eyes on you. As a certain manbeast found out during one of his appearances for ICW. A match in what is more than likely going to be ICWs last at their first ever venue in Maryhill. The match made the local papers as the pair brawled through the streets of Maryhill. Irish whipping each other in and out the chippy and somehow managing to share a fish supper in the process.

It was one of those nights that stays with the performers involved. You can appear on all the RAWs, wrestle all the Roman Reignsys you like at Wrestlemania, but few experiences leave as much of a lasting impression as having a wee scrap on a road outside the Community Centre in Maryhill. The fact that the scrap happened to be with a bit of a wrestling legend is just the icing on a mental cake.

“It was crazy. Dallas’ has the idea with the ECW thing, him being the last champ, me being the current ICW Champ at the time. A sort of passing the torch. All I knew about him was hes this crazy man beast. That’s what I was expecting so it took a while to adjust to him being different in right life. That kind of allure went away when I stiffed him one time and he looked at me like ‘whit ye daein mate’ *laughs* I wasnt sure what to expect with him but he was so nice. We talked backstage and all we did was talk about politics because he was running for office in Michigan.

I knew it was getting close to match time and i realised we hadn’t talked about anything to do with the match itself. All I had was ‘you mind if we fight in the streets cause it’ll be in the paper” but that’s all we had until we’re about to go out and we went do you want to kick out of the gore? Blew my mind that he was willing to do that. I dont think he realised how big ICW was”

“He just thought it was another small company I worked for, but he didn’t realise until he stepped out there. Once he saw it in the paper he realised how big a deal it was. It was just fun. We just battered each other and we really didnt need to plan much. We both know what we’re doing and we just went out and had a fight “

While the feud that brought the title to Drew will go down in ICW history, the feuds he had while carrying the title served a different purpose. As much as Drew looked like a bonafide killer throughout his run as champion, he had this knack of getting another level of performance out of others. Perhaps him simply being him made them want to be the best version of themselves

“I returned it a lot stronger than when I first won it so thats been the crowning achievement of it all. I’m proud of everything we done during that time period and how much we elevated the title. I’m really proud of all the title defences. The crowds at those matches were unreal. No one wanted to me to win the vast majority of the time because they were so invested in the guy chasing it.

Joe Coffey in particular. After that much I bloody had to turn, because if he had won it that night it would have been huge. I don’t think anyone in the Barrowlands wanted me to win that night. Coffey was so on fire but the plan at that time was me and Grado at the SECC so we didn’t do the title change, but it allowed me to turn heel and made everyone get behind him even more”

Another memorable defence happened the night The Black Label formed. A returning Jack Jester cost Big Damo the ICW World Title and revealed himself to be aligned with Drew and Rudo Lightning.


“I remember that match because by that point Damo hadn’t turned face. People were really turning on me at that point and getting behind Damo in the process and when Jester showed up and cost him the title. You could cut the tension with the knife. I remember saying thank fuck we’re doing this finish. The crowd did NOT want me winning that. Especially not by pinning Damo clean. So thank fuck we did that. That was one of my favourite moments as well with the parallels to my return and the formation of The Black Label had the crowd baying for blood. It was some buzz”

“Being able to be a villain and do it alongside my best pals. The guys I started out with. It was an amazing time. Something I think we always wanted to do, but we took it all the way to The Hydro and had a lot of fun getting there”

drew on his time with his best pals in the black label


The Black Label era was a whirlwind of a time. Crowds were baying for their blood. They represented the auld pals act. Separately some of the most influential figures in Scottish Wrestling but together? An unstoppable three headed monster. The bad guys.

“You’re waiting for folk to jump the barricades because you can tell they’re dying to get at us. People are for real pissed. I really enjoyed seeing all the different emotions because the fans are just as big a part of the wrestlers. It should never cross a certain line but drawing that emotion is so important. I remember in London one time, someone threw something at me, and Wolfgang jumped in the crowd after him *laughs*

I was cutting some nasty promo. Brought out the TNA Title and started railing on everyone and someone chucked a bottle. It didn’t hit me but Wolfgang and Bram immediately jumped in after him. I’m like halfway to going out myself,but i realised if i went out there its gonnae be a riot, so i had to stay calm, and I didn’t want to give the heat away either because if it goes part a certain stage it becomes a negative as opposed to being the reaction you want”

An All-Star Education leading all the way to the Hall of Fame

His experiences with ICW helped shape him into the ready made superstar he is today, but it was some experiences in his formative years that helped him perfect the art of not taking any shit. While touring with All-Star, the locker room at that time were slightly defensive of their positions and saw this big strapping ‘Disney prince looking motherfucker’ strolling in looking to scoop up all the belts and their burds in the process. One of those who perhaps were’t all that welcoming with Drew was former ICW Champion and another of the key figures in ICWs growth. Mikey Whiplash.

In addition to the doctorate, Drew also specialises in massage therapy. Here he can be seen placing his latest patent on his message table using his patented ‘Drew chucks guys’ technique where he quite simply..chucks guys

“I was on the road with Whippy back in the day when I started out with All-Star. I was just there to learn and keep my head down. They tried to give me shit then eventually I put my hand through the back of the car one time and they stopped. Something like that sends a message and they laid off me a bit *laughs*. Then Jester came in after I was signed and he’s telling me stories about how they’d wind him up by calling him litte Drew. I was like “Listen, they gave big Drew crap too. They’ re just dicks!” *laughs*

“I learned more from him than anybody back then. We had great matches in all star. Doing 30-40 minute matches all the time over the course of about 6 months. We done some great stuff together and then we had the match for the title at The Garage that showed the other side to us both”

While Drew might be the most famous wrestler to ever come from Scotland, he isn’t the most infamous. That title goes to the late Drew McDonald, who sadly passed away due to cancer in 2015. He left his mark on Drew in his heyday as he became another who took it . Imagine a man who can put the fear of god into a 6 foot 5 monster. Imagine the larger than life Drew McDonald strolling up to you with a tan as bright and impressive as the sun itself. He told Drew what he was getting up to before their match. While Drew wasn’t at liberty to specify, we can only assume it was either highly illegal or had one or more orifices……involved.

Drew Mcdonald Image

“He was the wildest character I’ve ever been around. A genuinely good guy who helped me a lot, but he terrified me when I first met him. I was 17-18 and up comes this giant, tanned, Scottish man telling me the unspeakable things he was up to just before the match and basically rounded it off with “see you out there”.

“We wrestled once on All-Star when I was just starting out. Both of us wore kilts but he was the baddie and he was the good guy. He was so easy in there and we ended up having fun”

He was always a great laugh and he always had good advice. Most of our interactions he was always very giving. A lot of the time was when I was with WWE and he was always there to give advice and try to point me in the right direction. To have that from someone so respected in Scotland but also a guy with such a crazy reputation and he loved that reputation”

It was a reputation that saw him involved in Grado’s first ICW match. Teaming with him in a 6 man tag match that was Drew McDonald’s only ICW appearance. His legendary status in Scottish Wrestling will likely see him enter the ICW Hall Of Fame one day. Drew McIntyre had the honour of being the second inductee himself and returned to ICW during his period out with injury to accept the induction. Joining Mark Dallas, Jack Jester and Sha Samuels for a segment that felt more like a scene in a soap opera than a wrestling segment.

Drew acted as peacemaker and made ICWs hot couple see sense. They had to stay together for the good of the show. They laughed. They cried. They mocked Drew for his contractually inability to swear only for some mild profanity to slip out. They had fun. As much as the company prospered during Drew’s tenure, it prospered because they were in it together. Committed to making a living off this mad thing no matter what it takes and enjoying it in the process.

Drew spots an up-kilt photographer looking for that gratuitous boaby shot

That was awesome. I was so happy to have that happen. It was a big deal to me. Meant as much to me as any title to be recognised like that and be in there with someone like Carmel who done so much in ICW. We didn’t really know where we were going with it we just knew I was gonna stop them fighting and urge them to stay together for the good of the show. We sort of ad-libbed it all but it was such a laugh. I was coming back for my dads wedding anyway so it all lined up. I spoke to Hunter about it and he was happy for me and totally fine with me doing it. He wanted to do something on the website about it as well so that was cool”

To go with his blessing and even some promotion for it. It was nice to come out and talk to the crowd. The bit where you cant swear and they’re taking the piss. I spoke about it being cool that my wife got to see what was keeping me away all those years, so she finally got to see it for themselves. All my family came along as well so it was a special night”

Endorsed by Kurt Angle. Approved by PWI. Next stop? World Champion

“Listen Kurt, what I’m saying is Laudrup was at Rangers a shorter period than Larsson was at Celtic, so it really isn’t a fair comparison. Never has been”

Not long after becoming an ICW Hall Of Famer, he faced another man who happened to be on the same ICW show as Drew that night Kurt Angle main events not lost on Drew how significant it is that Kurt Angle chose him to be one of his last opponents in TNA. Closing a legendary chapter in his career by handpicking three opponents for his final matches.

However it was in WWE where Kurt really hammered the point home. Succumbing to his own moves and by all accounts, taking an absolute kicking in the process. Perhaps the last wrestler that Kurt Angle made look like an unstoppable beast and when you consider people he’s provided that service for in the past include the likes of Brock Lesnar, you realise big Drew fae Ayr is in rare company.


“Its crazy to me that he wanted to work with me in both TNA and WWE. Roode, Lashley and me. Drew fae Scotland, the guy who used to be in 3MB. It was his idea to tap out to the ankle lock when I wrestled him on RAW. He was insisting “This is whats gonna help you, tapping me out” Who am I to argue? He was taking my mad moves, like the Finlay roll off the top. The big Alabama Slam. The big heavy chops. It took me to a different level. That meant the world because the Drew McIntyre name was mud at that time. That was Drew Galloway that done that and it helped me rebuild myself to the point that I could come back and make it happen as Drew McIntyre”


“The match in WWE in Manchester. We did the match in a way where I pretty much annihilated him and he was totally ok with that. He wanted to do that, because he believes in me and he was happy to make me look like a killer in that match. It means a lot to have him in my corner. He had me hitting his own moves on him and tapping him out with his own finish. It was mind blowing to me and I can’t thank him enough. He made me look like a proper badass. A real asshole heel, and I’m very appreciate of it all. He is a legend and I’ll never forget him doing that for me”

Drew on the impact having kurt angel’s endorsement meant to him

Appreciative yes. Complacent? never. Being the last guy Kurt Angle made look like a killer is something you can definitely brag about but never something to rest on your laurels about. Not in Drew’s mind anyway. Always moving to the next challenge. Taking experiences he’s had to date and making himself a better performer going forward. The wisdom that comes with being a 33 year old with 16-17 years experience already.


“Old Drew had it in perspective. I was thankful, grateful, but the next week we start over. Its a cool thing to have, but its something I’ll use to propel me forward rather than getting an ego about it. Alright thats cool, but thats done now, treat it like you’re brand new and still have everything to prove”

It was a sure sign to Drew that he was going in the right direction. A similar feeling to when he was named in the top 10 of PWI 500 after being released. These feelings of satisfaction are fleeting when your eyes are on the top but a wee nod to let you know that you’re headed down the right road never hurts, and Drew admitted appearing so highly in the list was a real buzz after growing up reading any piece of wrestling media he could get his hands on.

“I AM A GOLDEN GOD!!!!”


“I made it in to the top 10 of the PWI 500 which was nuts for me. That might not mean a lot to some people or not as much as it used to anyway, but when you’ve only been involved in it in the 300s and 400s, to make such a leap and be one of only three non WWE guys in there was a huge vote of confidence for me and was tangible proof of the impact I’d managed to make. I was joint 10 with John Cena, and the only non WWE people that were above me was I think Jay Leathal and Okada. Both guys who were prominent with big promotions. So that meant the world to me, to be spoken about in such esteemed company”

Andrew Galloway Snr was also mightily impressed by the feat. Taking pride at the name he passed down to his boy being named as one of top 10 wrestlers in the world. He has been there throughout the journey and is clearly someone Drew admires a great deal. The memory of his late mother

That means the world to my dad as well. Hearing the family name in the public eye like that. I always say to him, I’m still Drew Galloway when I’m not using that name *laughs* but he loves that I made that impact with the Galloway name and so do I. I’m very proud of everything I achieved of what I done as Drew Galloway. Its made me a better Drew McIntyre as well, although like I always tell my Da, we are actually the same guy

The unrelenting pursuit of a World Championship and being The Hitman of the NXUK Brand

Listen mate, no a lot of people know this, but I actually got a doctorate at uni. Specialising in sewing up gashes with electric screwdrivers right. Honestly its a real course. Look it up. Its the most effective way of really sewing that bad boy up. Have I ever led you wrong before? Exactly mate. Exactly. Mon see yer auld pal Drew and I’ll fix that up real good.

The path for Drew at the moment is get to a world title. Get even the slightest sniff of an opportunity and take it. Money In The Bank presents an opportunity like that and even though the odds are never for you Drew is bigger than most, more agile than most, and almost certainly at least decent at climbing a ladder. With the motivation of having an anytime World Title shot on the line? Big man is coming for that briefcase and when he had that it really doesn’t matter who has the title. Then at least theoretically, his intention is to win them all. Including the WWE UK Championship, which is now defended on WWE’s newest weekly show. NXT UK.

“I told Triple H I was jealous (of Finn Balor appearing at NXT UK Takeover) The reaction was amazing and he loved it, then him and Jordan had an awesome match as well. I enjoyed it as a fan but I was certainly envious because its something I’d love to be involved in. Its great to see so many of the lads and lassies getting that exposure and showing the world how good UK wrestling is. How good Scottish wrestling is!

The crowd really make that unique and you want to tune in for the wrestling but also to get a feel for how they’re reacting to it. I would love to be involved in some way. Even if it was just a promo or something. I’d love to do the Bret Hart gimmick where I’m a bad guy in America and a good guy when I’m in the UK. There’s really not a lot of places that would make sense now but it could be great in that setting”


“I’ll stroll in giving it “Its awrite lads, i’ll win that world title for us” *laughs* Its definitely crossed my mind to do that whole angle and to be on that show as the guy who’s seen it all and was a part of the growth of it in the years I was away from WWE. Pushing the aspect that I want to be part of NXTUK and a part of the main roster and I’m doing it for NXTUK. It has literally crossed my mind as I’ve been watching it because the crowds are so different. Very similar to how different Bret was received in Canada.


I think it could definitely be interesting but I love what they’re doing with it now and so happy for some of the guys getting that exposure. Guys from ICW and all over the UK scene getting to show everyone just how good they are

“We are the Scottish National Football Team, and we play 4-6 fuckin 0”


“If I’m seen as a ruthless villain in America and then I present myself different on NXTUK and drive home that aspect that I’m representing their interests on the main roster. I made a point of working with Pete Dunne when we were both in the Rumble and I think we planted a bit of a seed. Once he got in there i wanted to let him do his thing. I wouldn’t let many guys pull me down and stomp on my arm but I wanted people to see how good he is”

“For a big guy, there is scope to get a bit of shit if you take too much punishment but I wanted to give guys like Pete and Aleister (Black) a bit more because I believe in them and want them to do well. We’ve had a couple of tag matches and we definitely have a bit of chemistry there. We had a few sequences that were great so there’s definitely something there and he’s a talent I would really love to work with in the future”

Walter is another who piques Drews interest and its plan to see why. Another mountain of a man who is actually capable of going strike for strike with Drew, an attribute few can claim to have. With Walter being the man to finally usurp Pete Dunne’s historic WWE UK Championship reign, it seems a natural foe for Drew and perhaps an opportunity to maximise Drews popularity in the UK.

“I was really intrigued by Pete Dunne and Walter. He always catches my attention. Any big man that hits hard always catches my attention”

Indeed, it surprised Drew that the two never crossed paths during his time on the independent scene, but Walter was mostly based in Germany and not looking further afield. Times have changed and he seems to be on a one man rampage to scoop up every belt possible, but one man who was very much around for Drews peak period on the independents was Killain Dain, formerly known as Big Damo and a regular opponent of Drews in ICW and several other promotions in Scotland.

A match up Drew insisted had to happen when he saw the gargantuan hairy Irishman who he had actually met several times before but didn’t recognise him at all. He wasn’t to be blamed for that, Damian O’Connor changed pretty much every aspect of himself in a wrestling sense. A thing that takes guts and that wasn’t lost on Drew when he first set eyes on him after his release.

“I’m surprised it never happened when I was on the indies because we are very similar. I remember when I was doing the 16 carat tournament and wondering why the hell we weren’t working together. He’s like the Austrian Big Daddy except he’s in shape! I was annoyed because I had no idea why I hadn’t worked with him. Damo was the same. At first I saw his look and just knew we would work well together. He has the size but its so unique

Soon as I saw him work I wanted to do something with him and it was the exact same with Walter. Like it would fit perfect on the family shows like BCW or something him being the big badass foreigner and me being the hometown hero. The Impression was that hes been around for a long time and he didnt really want to leave Germany but the past few years he’s travelled around and everyone’s like ‘Why’s he not been doing this the whole time?’

Damo was a similar puzzle to Drew although that one was hilarious in the sense that Damo wasn’t an entirely new person to Drew when he first clapped eyes on him.


“When you see what Damo used to look like and compare it to now it looks like that Damo ate another Damo laughs. Its like he found his long lost twin and just absorbed him. I was reminded we’d been around each other for a long time and he came over to America for Mania one year and we hung around a bit but I didn’t recognise him when he came back. He had changed so much I just thought he was the hot new talent on the scene and wanted to know what he was all about.”

I told everyone that was the guy I wanted to work with. All the promoters. I needed to be on with When I first saw him when I came back I was like ‘Who the fuck is that big guy?’ and someone said ‘Thats Damian, Drew. You know him! And I was like “oh” laughs I think we were friends on FB as well and I still wasn’t sure. The matches we had were incredible because he’s just so unique. A man of that size that can move like he does

The ballad of the dashing ones and a three man band

Working with the likes of Walter and Killain Dain is what Drew always wanted to be doing, but life sometimes takes you down another path. Wrestling in particular seems to have a way of pushing people down creative dead ends and being able to turn that into something positive is a desirable trait. While 3MB were mainly used as comic relief during their near two year run, it was never something Drew half arsed.

Nor did Heath Slater or Jinder Mahal. Jinder can now call himself a former WWE Champion. Heath had a tag title reign and a bunch of kids. Drew has the lessons learned from all these weird and wonderful experiences he’s had on his wrestling odyssey. Lessons he hopes will one day push him towards his final form. Being able to call himself the World Champion.


“Whenever I was on TV, all of us gave it everything. You have to do that no matter what role you’re in. If you dont do that, you and the fans will be miserable. At least if you’re out there giving it everything and having a laugh the fans are going to join in with it. If you go out there half arsing it, no ones in to it, people in the back are pissed off”


“It wasn’t the dream. I know that. It wasn’t what I was there to do initially. I came over with main event aspirations but I don’t think I was fully ready for it back then. 3MB as much as it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing was still something we gave a lot to and I think that’s a mentality I’ve carried throughout my career”

Giving it all he had was really all Drew could do when put in a situation that seems destined to fail no matter what you put in to it. It at the very least felt like failure and a dead end creatively if Drew ever wanted to be taken seriously in the future.


“From the Intercontinental Title and being ‘The Chosen One’ to 3MB is a helluva drop. I felt like a failure. I felt like I didn’t live up to the potential. After a while (with 3MB) there was no way to transition it into something serious, but I think it was for the best that we left after that. We needed to grow outwith WWE.

Drew on the various storylines he had during his first wwe run

“We became good friends and managed to laugh about it whenever we were frustrated. There was a comradery between us. Jinders been World Champ and Heaths got kids (and tag titles) Jericho told me recently he literally forgot I was in it or that it was even a thing and thats a big compliment. 3 years of that and its no longer what any of us are known for the most. It makes me feel old though because there’s a whole generation who grew up with me doing that”

“Sometimes I get people coming up to me and going ‘ I used to watch you as a kid when you were in 3MB’ and I’m like “you are a kid” 18-19-20 they grew up with that. Makes me feel old hahahaha. Because I was on TV when I was young. I realise that every day when I wake up. Everyone calls me sir and shit, so they assume I’m at least 40, and then they hear my age and they go in to shock *laughs* “

The photo below may come as a shock to those with short memories but Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes can boast of a Tag Title run as a team. The team was a bit thrown together and it wasn’t the path either of them saw themselves going down. Both men had big singles aspirations and expectations from the word go. That was perhaps the main reason for it not becoming the unquestionably excellent tag team it could have been.

“We speak sometimes and we have a laugh about the past but we don’t speak too much. We’re part of the same era essentially and we both used to be in Vince’s promo classes, and then randomly we were tag team champions and we never really appreciated it because we wanted to be singles guys. We’d lost the titles when we came up with The Dashing Ones and really started to get in to it. When you reflect back we definitely could have made more of it but I think it was a part of our respective journeys that had to happen”

Drew’s success away from WWE almost served as a blueprint for someone like Cody. There is wrestling beyond WWE. There is something else. The direction WWE have taken NXT in proves that. It exists no longer as developmental but almost as a proving ground for the main roster. A brilliant show in its own right and one that provides a slicker transition for performers coming from the independent scene.


“I was one of the first guys who got released and decided ‘I’m going to go away and reinvent myself’ so I guess a few people have seen that its possible and decided to go down that route themselves. When things were going well my brother said to “You’ve become a verb” which was pretty cool. I think me and Cody always had the raw tools there but we’ve gone and learned how to make ourselves top guys in our own right “

Two guys who have always had all the tools to be at the very top end of wrestling. Two guys who perhaps seemed to always know they would one day be competing with each other. The tag team might have been a bit thrown together and neither consider it a career highlight, but when you look at it now, it was maybe a bit of an audition. Seeing how they could adapt to being thrown in at the deep end a bit.

If they had the opportunity back, particularly now as WWE give a lot more focus to tag team wrestling, you’d be talking about one of the best tag teams to come out of that era. While Cody and The Young Bucks hadn’t announced the formation of All Elite Wrestling before Drew re-signed, it has always felt like Drew felt he had unfinished business in WWE and that’s where he’d end up when his contract with TNA ran out.

“When I left TNA I had an open mind but when WWE came calling, for my wife and I there was only one decision.When it comes to these things I always discuss it with her because she always thinks of it from a more pragmatic point of view. Between us we come to the best decision”

I knew I wanted to go through NXT first, because that was the audience I was well known with at the time. Their audience is more the type of audience that would have followed me in my time away from WWE. It would obviously be intriguing if I was on the open market, but WWE was always the best decision for me and would have been even if AEW came calling

His time on the indies had an almost poetic end. Chapters in Evolve and ICW had ended with many career defining moments. But the last match was almost poetic. Everyone knew both men involved were headed for bigger things than that but it was a nice way to round it off for Drew before he moved on to the next chapter.


“The last match I had on the indies was me and Cody, with Wade Barrett on commentary. That was a great moment for us all, Cody and I get on well and Wade’s a good mate, so to have the crowd really in to that and to have people I’m friends with involved in that match. We got so used to competing with each other, even though we were friendly. Its like as much as I like the guy and he liked me, we’re both competing for the same spots a lot of the time which means there’s a competitive element there always. So it was nice for him to say some encouraging things to me on the mic after the match. We’ve both gone on to do some big things “

It was a friendship/rivalry built on a similar mentality. A competitive spirit that has driven both of them to be the very best they can be despite the pitfalls and setbacks. They were born for this, even if one was literally born into wrestling and the other is as he puts it “Just a big guy fae Ayr”. They are naturals and two fine individuals to be leading wrestling into the future.

“We always pushed each other simply by trying to outdo one and other and that’s how it should be. You can’t just be happy to have made it to the party. You have to make something of it when you get there and improve constantly. Never get complacent and think there’s nothing else you can learn. That’s something I’ve referenced in the past. If you wan’t to just be happy to be there, go wrestle in your local town and get your enjoyment there but this is WWE. You’re on RAW. You are obligated to try a bit harder”

One person who he does have a lot of admiration for is someone who came from a similar place he did and is currently one of the biggest names in wrestling. Becky Lynch consistently uses her Twitter to further angles and show people her personality and for Drew that is essential if you’re going to use social media as a tool to further your career instead of something that could put people off you as a person.

“You’re not improving yourself in any way. You’re not in the gym trying to improve. You’re not presenting yourself in a better way. You’re not trying to get better at promos. You’re just complaining. Becky is a great example of using it in the right way. She was clever about it and used it to show people her witty side. She wasn’t just whinging, she used it to back up her performances on the show

drew on his promo work regarding the locker room being weak

When it comes to using real life frustrations to drive character work, few compare to Drew. His words aren’t always popular amongst some of his peers, but if he’s talking about people preferring to whinge instead of committing to getting better and you get offended? Chances are he’s talking about you. He used that venom to power the feud with Roman Reigns heading in to their Wrestlemania match.

Whilst Roman is a man Drew holds a lot of real life respect and admiration for, it was an easy villain for him to be. He tapped in to the emotion that always comes with Roman Reigns and his matches but with the added aspect of Roman having returned from a second bout of cancer. Drew was painted as the killer of the biggest comeback in wrestling.

“I suggested doing the stuff (on the mic) about the way things are in the locker room now. Its not unusual to see people complaining. Everyone knows that too. There’s people constantly moaning on social media, and gasping for fans to say nice things about them so they can RT them as some sort of proof that they’re getting a raw deal. I blamed Roman Reigns for it, because hes the leader. Basically saying “This is your yard, but its easy to be the big dog when you’re leading a pack of strays”

I always want to be doing something interesting on the mic because it makes people think “Drews shootin on the locker room!” It is somewhat true in the sense that I really don’t have any time for the constant moaning. I don’t have time for people who are constantly complaining about their position instead of doing something about it. Getting better. Because if you aren’t getting the opportunities, fucking do something about it! Whinging on social media will get you nowhere “

When you’ve lived a lifetime in wrestling, having the ability to take a step back and realise it might not be as bad as it feels at the time comes more naturally. 3MB probably felt pretty rubbish when it was happening but now Drew has two pals for life and a chunk of hilarious memories that all form part of his story. The Chosen One is part of his story and very well might be again. The time conquering the world on his wrestling odyssey was all part of the story. The time as NXT Champion was all part of the story. A story that does not carry a definitive conclusion just yet, but the next chapter is simple. Take one of those world titles and carry it with pride. All over the world. As our biggest most successful export. The pride of Scottish Wrestling. Drew McIntyre.


I’m so busy now and at times you feel like you don’t get a minute to breathe. I’ve experienced that and I’ve also experienced being one of the ones sitting in catering all the time with not a lot to do, and d’you know what? I’d take the busyness any day of the week. I want to become the first British born WWE Champion and I feel absolutely ready to take on that challenge and all the challenges that might come with it”

Huge thank you to Drew for his time.

All photo credits go to David J Wilson and WWE. Some tremendous shots from David as usual.

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An Interview With Drew McIntyre – Part One – The Journey To Wrestlemania

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An Interview With Jack Jester Part Two – Battles With Drew, No Kinky No Party and The Black Label B*****d

Jester

READ PART ONE HERE. ITS REALLY GOOD

After 8 or 9 graft ridden months as ICW Champion all of a sudden the opportunity of a lifetime was placed in front of Jester. Maybe even TWO opportunities of a lifetime, with the impossible choice of having to pick just one of them. Either make up for time lost and spend as much time with his recently released WWE superstar best pal Drew Galloway as possible after years of scarcely seeing him more than twice a year, OR pretend you hate the big beautiful bastard to the point that not only the people watching believe it, YOU actually believe it. Selling out one of Glasgow’s most iconic venues in the process as you go on to share a career defining achievement and match with a pal who wasn’t going to feel like a pal for a while.

“I knew he was coming back but the majority didn’t. It’s hard to keep a secret these days with the internet etc. This has always kinda happened with me and Drew, we’ve been mates since we started training. I moved to Ayr and we were best mates, then suddenly he gets signed so you go from that to seeing him twice a year when he’s over for tours. So this was really the first opportunity we’d had in years to really be pals again, but we couldn’t. He arrived home a week before the show and hid out in his house, because all it would have taken was for one person to see him in Ayr and connect the dots that he was coming to ICW. So he came in the back door and he was kept downstairs because we wanted it to be a legit shock. Renfrew hits out with the “you’ve got no friends left” line, lights go down, lights come back on, there he is. They still didn’t react until his hood came down and even then they can’t believe it. Why is it allowed? Isn’t there the 90 day no compete clause? Then the earth shattering genuine reaction came. People bursting into tears and all that. It was massive. Anytime a moment like that happens and it’s so massive for the company its hard to take it all in. To see Drew standing there with that fire in his eyes with that reaction along with it. It was amazing.”

Even if your friend is living the dream, if it turns into a nightmare for them personally it must be difficult to see. Drew knew he had so much more in him than the bits and pieces he was being allowed to display in WWE and his release was more of a relief than a letdown. An opportunity to make memories and show them why they signed him in the first place. The perfect person to work with was of course the current ICW Champion. The guy who had been at the top end of the company for the better part of a year and the guy who also happened to be that same best pal who had been in your corner all these years.

DREWJEST

“I knew Drew hadn’t been happy for years and I was always kinda his conscience in that respect. Reminding him that as bad as he felt about his spot that he was still earning good money and getting to be a full-time pro wrestler with the biggest company in the world. I know you’re hating doing what you’re doing, but you’re at RAW tonight, while we’re doing the same thing but in community centres and all that. I wasn’t trying to make him feel shite about not appreciating it, it was more to try to perk him up and make him realise that as bad as he felt, he was still in a great position. So to see him come back the way he did, and the way he was standing there. With that intensity. He cared. It poured out of him”

drewAs much of a heart racing, blood pumper of a moment that undoubtedly was, after the better part of the year leading the company as a fan favourite, Jester found himself on the sare end of people just being plain mesmerised by seeing Drew at all. So mesmerised they paid little attention to their stricken champion. Who had just wrestled a top quality talent in Martin Stone, before taking a doing from the NAK as Chris Renfrew attempted to cash in his Square Go briefcase, before the third and final absolute sickener. His returning best pal who saved him from being a lamb to the slaughter as Renfrew waltzed to the ICW Title, immediately turned on him and left him in no doubt as to why he wanted the ICW Title to remain with Jack Jester. Drew wanted to take it for himself. He was willing to break a guy who had once considered a brother to make the impact he needed to make on the wrestling world. It was pain that Jester used to fuel the pair of them on the road to what was at the time the biggest match in Scottish wrestling history.

“That show bothered me for a long time, I’ll no lie, when he came back and then he turned on me and tossed me off the stage through the table, they were still chanting for him. I remember lying there and feeling hurt. It sent me into a bit of a headspin and I was gutted that they didn’t really seem to care. Just pure self-pity. That’s all it was. I know now they were reacting to Drew and still taken aback by the fact he was there at all, but honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened. Then we had to make them hate him. We built it from there. It had to feel real. Me and Drew weren’t pals for that period. We didn’t see each other. The only thing I said to him was, until this payoff happens, you can’t be my pal. I need you to upset, and vice versa. If I don’t believe in it? How are you supposed to get the fans to believe in it? It had to look as real as possible. We’ll be pals after but until then we cant be.”

“He was constantly doing things to upset me, I was doing the same, we were never telling each other what we were going to say, then we done the angle in the pub, where he was doing the speaking thing was Billy (Kirkwood)and I showed up. He says any other questions and I think I mentioned his Dad, and he just flipped. I fell and cut and my heid open. Dallas flipped over the table and cut his arse on a glass *laughs* and in the end he’s raging, standing over me going “I know where you live! I’m gonnae fuckin stab you!” I was like…thats not Drew. That’s not the kind of person he is. I’m outside kicking off with Dallas. You know why you’re doing it but we were so caught up in it at that time it felt real. ”

JestDrewwww

The major string to the bow that came from the whole emotionally draining affair was the fact that when it was all said and done, two best pals could look back with fondness on that time they sold out The Barrowlands as the ONLY match announced for a fucking pro wrestling show run by a Glasgow based company. Unthinkable just a few short years earlier. A motivated Drew Galloway helped the company go to the next level and that feud was something special.  Having a figurehead like Drew made everyone involved with the company up their game, and considering the fact that their game was already wielding 1000+ crowds and notoriety, the only thing to do was go bigger. There’s no doubt that Barrowlands match was a pivotal point in that growth as Jester had the title ripped from his grasp in front of a red-hot crowd. A landmark moment in ICW and British wrestling in general and a moment that meant a lot to Jester in particular because without The Barrowlands, he might not exist at all.

“Selling out the Barrowlands is a career highlight. An absolute dream. My granny and Granda met there. I remember them telling me stories about it. My granda telling me they couldn’t afford hair gel, so he would put margarine in his hair. All the guys would be combing their hair in front of the lassies, then you’d flick your comb to get all the margarine off it into the gutter. There was a guy who used to play clarinet and everyone used to get up and dance. There would be a point in the night where everything would stop and a few folk would get brought up on to the stage, and there was all these wee doors, and you’d pick a number and whatever was behind that door you’d get to keep. Stuff like tickets for things, silverwear and china sets. Stuff like that. My granny choose a number and it was a toilet roll *laughs*. That’s in the Peoples Palace funnily enough now, the thing with the doors. So without that venue, they would never have met, and I’d never be here.”

JesDrew3

“Now we’re in the same hall wrestling. I let it get to me. As far as ICW running it goes, that’s a Glasgow institution. The Barrowlands is. There isn’t another venue more Glaswegian. The people who have performed there. Bowie etc. Its like nothing else. Even if you go down to where ICW’s merch stand is, and you got to cloakrooms and its all individual coat hooks. Even the toilets, it’s the same ceramic urinals and that’s all cracked and smells ah pish *laughs* Up stairs you’ve got a pasting table at the side where you can get cans of lager. I don’t think there’s any need for them to be selling cans at a pasting table really but that’s what the Barrowlands is. That’s the way people like it. It’s the wan place in the world you don’t want a cold beer.”

The venue sold out well in advance before anything other than Jack Jester vs Drew Galloway was announced. That’s how much it meant. At that time, there was nothing bigger in British wrestling and they told a story that few other duo’s in the UK could replicate. Less a wrestling feud, more two brothers having a stoater of a fall out. Proper chucking auld pool cues and fitba boots at him type of stuff. There was only one way to resolve it, and that was in front of 1,200 sweaty Glaswegians in Glasgow’s most iconic venue.

“I’ll never forget Duncan messaging me and asking me “how does it feel to have sold out the Barrowlands. Only me and Drews match was announced and we’d sold out a month in advance. If you ask Drew, at the time he called it his greatest achievement. This is someone who’d done Wrestlemania, but personally that topped it. Coming back to the company after all that time and achieving something with his best pal in a venue that meant so much. I remember travelling there that day and the emotion of the day just getting the better of me. A song came on and I honestly felt like I was going to burst into tears. It was a mixture of everything.”jeDrew

“Even at that, we didn’t do the big plan for the match, because I couldn’t look at him. We’d gone too far at that point. We had no interest in helping each other. Drew’s dad was in the crowd, my parents were in the crowd. Drew had recently lost his mum as well. When it was all over and I went back, I just said to him ‘this is your time’ and I know wrestling is this “fake sport” but nothing’s ever felt more real and it was just great, because after that match…I had my pal back. It was all over. It took a referee counting to three and it was just gone man. The cloud had lifted. It’s a hard thing to do now. It takes a while to build and take a certain amount of commitment to what you’re doing and where you want it to go. Its a thing folk aren’t prepared to do anymore most of the time”

It was a case of everyone being in the right place at the exact right time to make something work. No matter what sacrifices those involved had to make to create something brilliant, they were willing. They were even willing to harbour genuine resentment for each other just to add weight to the experience for people watching. Genuine emotion is what makes wrestling what it is, without it it’s just guys in spandex kidding on they’ve got sore legs. It needs to make you care and that particular feud not only drew you in, it made you pick a side. It mattered.

“What I would say to anyone who’s presented with a situation like me and him were then. When the stars align and its all just right. Give it everything. Drain every single thing you can out of it. As much as I had to hate my pal to get there, me and him will always share that. We can always talk about it and look back on it”

JestDrewwww3

Once it was all said and done, not only did Lee Greig have his best pal back, Jack Jester had the real Drew Galloway back. An animal that the wrestling world had got used to living in the shadows. In truth, when he was released no one really knew just how good Drew could be. He had spent so long creatively unfulfilled in WWE but never completely on the shelf. Gaining experience working on TV and working in front of huge audiences that he transferred on to the independent scene when he re-invented himself over the course of a storming 3-4 year period. A period that saw ICW go from strength to strength with their feud acting as a launchpad for so many other things.

“Having Drew back, and he’d lived this life that everyone wanted. When Drew got signed that was still a time where it was unimaginable. WWE changed him. There was a point where it wasn’t for the good either, because he was so uptight and paranoid. It always used to dishearten me because it just didn’t look like he was enjoying anything he did anymore. He was scared of everything. In his head everybody was a threat, everybody was a danger, but then when he came back after 7-8 years and suddenly he has free rein again. He was unleashed and he had that fire again. He could be creative. Folk were blown away because if you didn’t know Drew beforehand you didn’t know he had this in him, and there’s very little chance you would have because the scene here wasn’t anything before he got signed. So he came back and they seen him doing all this stuff and they’re thinking “fuck, this guys great” stuff that he wasn’t necessarily allowed to do on TV, but he can do it all now. ”

JestDrew

“It was good to come full circle and have Drew’s starting point and ending point in ICW. Going back to the hardcore stuff, I’d been asked to barbed wire rope matches for years and I’d never said yes. It just never suited any situation I’ve been in. There had never been a company that’s had enough build for it to work and it’s not the type of match I’d take on for the sake of it. If I was going to do it for anyone it would always have to be ICW, but it had to be right. There was no better situation to do it than that situation with Drew. Dallas doesn’t often ask us to do things. It’s always us that go to him. In this case he actually did ask me to do it, so I asked him what Drew thought. He told me Drew was keen but you were obviously going to have to figure out how its done. If this wasn’t the time to do it when is? I hadn’t been doing stuff like this for a long time.”

drewjest

They steered it towards trying to bring the devil back out in Jester, Drew continually winding him up and waiting for the perfect opportunity to get his revenge. The fact that Drew’s ICW return ended with him betraying Jack Jester and his final match was him trying to get revenge on Jester for doing the same thing is storytelling at its finest. At no point in the whole affair were they not friends, yet it felt like they proper despised one and other. It felt like Drew Galloway wanted to kill Jack Jester during that barbed wire ropes match and vice versa. Brothers fight, but they always make up in the end. Even if they’re both bleeding profusely and some of them’s picking bits of barbed wire out his arse.

“When you’re out of that mindset its hard to get back into it again so we worked that angle. Brought that side of me back out. That day? I’m not usually a nervous person but I was so nervous. I think just the importance of it and the fact that I’d waited so long to do a match like this. I wondered how it could be done without it being a disappointment to people. That was hard enough to do with a guy who had free rein, but we had to somehow get it over without getting Drew hurt before he went back to WWE. We had to do in a way where it wasn’t blatantly obvious that Drew was being protected and I didn’t want it to be just a procession of me being through different things for the crowd reactions. People had to believe, even if they knew in their mind it wasn’t going to happen, that something could have happened to Drew”

The biggest problem the match had is making people believe situations Drew found himself in COULD lead to him being seriously hurt, even if you knew deep down due to his re-signing with WWE its was extremely unlikely he would be. They had to make that audience believe they could see The Chosen One fly arse first through a flaming barbed wire board with live sharks waiting underneath. Jester recalls of a similar situation during his hero Mick Foley’s retirement match, when he couldn’t understand why the crowd weren’t reacting to him kicking out of big moves early. They knew that wasn’t it. It couldn’t be.

jeDrew

“When Cactus wrestled Triple H in the cell he found it a struggle for a while because they weren’t reacting to him kicking out of heavy stuff early on. Then someone said to him down the line, this is a massive match, a retirement match, the fans KNOW you’re not going to lose in the first 5 minutes. They know you’re going to kick out. So it was a similar process. There was a few things I suggested that Drew was unsure about, not really wanting me to put myself through that, but I just felt like I didn’t really have a choice. I had to do something. He was worried about me being safe and all that but my point was, that wasn’t the goal for that match. It needed to be dangerous. People needed to believe I was in danger. It needs to be scary. So I was taking some serious stuff. The superplex from the rope to the floor. Powerbomb through the table. I was really tied up a few times as well. It went back and forth a few times through the day, wondering if I should have tweaked the match and taken certain bits out but I knew if I did do that I’d have been angry at myself. We had to make folk care about it while working in the parameters of what we were able to do. I felt the build was done really well. Everything I wanted to go in to it did. We set the scene for it really well in the build up (dimming the lights before Drew’s video packages etc) can we get a constant noise on the go. Not music, but something that gets a bit of an atmosphere going while the ring’s getting set up. I wanted it to be a spectacle. ”

A spectacle it indeed was, and it was one that left Jester with a few new scars but ones he undoubtedly wears with pride. If you’re going to permanently mark your body because of pro wrestling, make the marks matter. Like a wee scrapbook on your skin to tell the grandweans about. “See that 4 inch red mark on ma foreheid son? that’s from Spike Dudley attacking me wae a stanley blade. We weren’t even wrestling, he just does that to folk sometimes”. Wrestling is all about stories after all.

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“One of my favourite videos is telling the whole story. It goes back to us cuddling. Wee bits backstage and all that. Its fully in black and white and when I come out the curtain it turns to full colour. I had the idea from the wizard of oz. Black and white until the action starts. It’s so well done and creates an atmosphere and then by the end its him coming down for one last hug, and that was him, he was gone again. Imagine I had thrown that away when I was at the height of doing my hardcore stuff? If I had just started doing random barbed wire matches it wouldn’t have been as special. Even though personally I did want to do it, you need to know when to hold back. One day an opportunity will come up that makes you think ‘im glad I saved it for this’ ”

The conclusion of the match saw Drew overcome Jester in brutal circumstances. Leaving his pal a battered and bloodied heap and spitting in the face of an unwritten wrestling rule. If you’re leaving a promotion, you leave with a loss and the winner gets the benefit of having that win as some kind of, I dunno…badge of honour. It’s a nice thing to do and sometimes it works but when its folk who are genuine pals, it’s not necessary. It’s almost patronising. If the story made more sense with Jack Jester losing the match, then so be it. It didn’t matter. What mattered is that they started and ended their story in the same place, having accomplished so much in between.

“That’s like one of they mad wrestling rules. Why does Drew need to put me over because he’s leaving? I just think it’s a bit corny. I didn’t need to win. It wasn’t going to affect me in any way. At no point did I insist I should go over. It didn’t make sense to me. If folk are expecting it? Don’t give them it. Give them something else. You’re constantly trying to get people to care so give them something to care about. He was in my environment too, he was out of his comfort zone and it genuinely pissed some folk off that he won. Private messaging me and all that. I’m like “thanks for the support, but it’s not keeping me up at night”. This whole he could have done me a favour mentality, when if anything I helped give him one of those last big moments before he went back in to the machine again. He deserved it. See because he is my pal as well? I think its a bit of a riddy. Like “get a room” ye know what I mean” *laughs*

Jestah

“I felt it was done well. I can’t see any more of those matches in my future to be honest, never say never like, but I’m so far from being in that place right now and I’m enjoying what I’m doing with Sha. People laugh because I saw the stuff being set up for a hardcore match recently and I was shaking my head and they’re like “here…what are you shaking yer heid at?” *laughs* and its no like im judging the people doing it it’s just more shaking my head at myself and how far removed I am from doing something like that right now. I honestly couldn’t imagine myself doing anything like that at the moment.”

Another thing Drew and Jester have in common was being side by side with Grado as his infectious character swept the Scottish Wrestling scene. Why stand by and be jealous when you can be your absolute best self in a match with someone who’s going to get a reaction anyway. What’s the point in fighting in when you can lean in to it and have some of the best moments of your career.

JestGrado

“I’ve been there for great things. I’ve witnessed Grado while being part of my own stuff. Its great. It just so happened that The Black Label were all pals, but as a team, it just worked. I’ve got to work with the company I love and travel and do it side by side with my mates. It’s an amazing thing. I love it. ”

“Grado used to get so much shit before he had the reputation he has now and the character he has now because he was just a daft bastard who was getting a mad reaction when he went out there and folk hated it. Full of bitterness about what he couldn’t do at that time and the reactions he was getting and it was honestly just pure jealousy. It used to bother him so much, I used to have him on the phone to me upset about it, wondering what he could do about it, and I used to tell him not to do anything different from what he’s doing just now. Listen if you’re getting the reactions you’re getting out there and you change what you’re doing to suit one jealous bastard backstage, risking maybe losing the support of 500 folk out there? Fuck that. Fuck them.”

Having folk in your corner when you’re in the spotlight as much as Grado is has to be an important thing. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate how many eyes he has put on their work by drawing in regular folk is kidding themselves on. Its daft not to take a moment and just enjoy something special. Even if you’re not particularly into it. Even if it’s not your thing. Enjoy the fact that someone is out there making the people lose their shit.

“I love the fact that I was there for Gradomania. Bearing in mind the first time I saw Grado I tried to pap him out of backstage *laughs*. Because he was just a guy walking about with his singlet on and I’m just like “whit ye daein?” *laughs* I hate that. See if there’s someone backstage who I feel shouldn’t be there, I’ll be the prick who’ll tell them ‘get oot’ There’s always some arsehole with a lanyard on telling me why they’re there and they’re from the press and all that and it doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know where the appeal is. I suppose it could be cool to see some of the things, folk putting their boots on and all that, to us its boring as fuck, but I can kinda see the appeal to someone on the outside, but see if I don’t know who ye are? Why are you there? If you’re press, go to a press room, but all my gear’s lying here, this is me at my work. ”

After his initial reaction, he started to realise Grado had something no one else had. He undoubtedly belonged because this shit is about entertaining as many people as you possibly can. Folk buying tickets is what keeps it going and if you think someone in a high profile position hasn’t earned their spot, help them. Make it work, because if the fans want it, it’s happening, and there was absolutely no stopping Gradomania. Folk were in love with it and it was something you had to stand back and witness as a fan at times even if you were directly involved. A once in the lifetime character.

JesterGrado

“I didn’t know him and Dallas had this planned so I’m telling him to get out, you’re not part of the show and Dallas comes up to me and tells me “naw naw, he is” that was right back at the start at The Classic Grand during the book Grado campaign. Then he had his big night, when he tagged with Drew Mcdonald. Drew? He was my hero man. I loved the guy to death. Grado always says he was so glad that he was there. When you watched it you realised, something was going on here. Then when we done the two Insane Fight Clubs together you really got to see it unfold closely and it was an amazing experience to be part of. I don’t know why anybody would feel any different. Why are you raging that this guy’s popular? Why are you raging that you’re getting to wrestle in front of massive crowds when at that time, it was largely down to him? He couldn’t have done it by himself but he was such a big part of it especially back then”

It became a relationship where Jester was almost protective of Grado. Realising his worth and how to get the best reaction out of working with him, he started noticing folk trying to be smart with it when it helps no one. There’s going to be a spell in the match where Grado takes a doing and when that part is happening, have at it, build as much sympathy up for him as possible but when it comes to his time, you fly all over the shop for him. Take they jabs like he’s got a fist made out of cast iron. Sell the roll and slice like he’s lobbed the living room couch directly at your chest. You are there to make him look like a superstar and few are better at doing that than Jack Jester.

Gradoooooooo

“People used to be smartarses when they wrestled him, and they’d go out and tie him in knots and try to make him look silly. That’s not your job mate. Your job is to go out there, fall on your arse for him and get raging, take the Dusty punches, and highlight what he does well. That’s your job. If you feel you’re above that? Go somewhere else man. Mikey was always a great example of that. At times he didn’t love doing what he was doing with Grado because as creative as he is, he’s a purist, but he’d go out there and bump like a madman for him because that’s his job. He knew that’s what he was there to do”

The message with Jester is consistent and very simple. Don’t do things that don’t look or feel natural. Folk will smell it off you. They’ll feel that self-doubt. That inexperience creeping in to every move. Learn your craft first, do mad stuff later. Work Grado’s match first, then maybe try to get some of your best stuff in there but the match is about HIM and what HE does. No one at PBW in Balornock gives a flying fuck if you’ve got a smashin handspring back elbow mate. They want to see you get dusty punched in to next week.

“If you don’t know how to work a regular match you shouldn’t be doing hardcore stuff. If you’re not capable of getting a reaction without being rattled over the heid with a chair. We used to have a lot of folk like that and we slowly got away from that but I’m starting to see it creep back in. Guys who see all this cool death match stuff and just want to copy it because they see other folk getting reactions for it. Maybe I’m just a moany bastard but stuff like lego and things like that just doesn’t appeal to me. Stuff like that can work, like Grado when he opened the bumbag and instead of thumbtacks it was skittles but that’s Grado. That’s what he does.”

JESTGRADOSWA

A recent mad main event in Paisley saw Jester team with Grado, Billy Gunn, Sha Samuels and Lionheart and if ever there was evidence of Gradomania continuing to run wild, it was then. Grado was the person most folk were there to see, not the WWE legend who may have sold some tickets to the auld timers like me, but the young crowd were there for Grado. If they were also there to see Jester do the slosh to the DX theme, then they would not have left disappointed in any way. A recent match with PBW saw the old spark between Grado and Jester start up again.

“When Gradomania happened it angered some folk. You could step by step do the same match with me as Grado would and it just wouldn’t be the same. You’re not him. No one has what he has. I wrestled him recently for PBW and it felt like it did back in the old days. The spark was there. His time away (from ICW) has done him favours because he’s come back inspired again. He did want to embrace being the bad guy but he couldn’t fully commit to it. At the end of the day he’s a brand, and for him to be a villain on just one type of show, it doesn’t work. When he came out at that PBW show, they went mental for him. We went ages not doing anything and just enjoying the crowd. Then we started calling stuff on the fly and it was great. He doesn’t need someone trying to be funny with him, he needs folk to fully embrace his stuff, he needs you to sell for him. You’ve got to be the straight man. There’s got to be that dynamic there. I’ve seen so many matches with Grado where he’s wrestling somebody and they think ‘this is gonnae be a comedy match’…aye, it is, but he’s the comedy.”

jestgrrrr

Be yourself. Don’t look at something popular and try to be that, look at why something’s popular and take the important core aspects of it and put it in to your own work. Grado tribute acts will always just feel like Grado tribute acts and nothing more substantial. Choosing to wrestle a unique talent like that and almost doing an impression of him in the match rather than just wrestling him is a trap Jester has seen many fall in to.

“People get in situations they wouldn’t usually do when they wrestle him sometimes, you’ll have the big heel in this company and all of a sudden he’s doing something stupid, like he’s doing fuckin baby shark or something. That’s not your job. Your job is to give him the platform to make people laugh. I mean if he can still make me laugh, after aw the years of him pissing me off and me pissing him off, and all the fall outs we’ve had *laughs* the amount of times we’ve wrestled, and the amount of times I’ve seen him do his thing. If he can still make me laugh after all that, its funny. He’s got something. When you see other folk trying to replicate it, to me its embarrassing, but when he does it, it’s just funny. He’s got funny bones. Everything about him is just funny. That promo at the last show, he just kept making me laugh, the best night of my life thing became funny. Plus just to see him with that fire behind him again was amazing. ”

Jester’s attempts to de-bunk a frankly daft theory that only pals of ICW promoter Mark Dallas get opportunities in ICW. As if he hands out a leaflet before each show telling the audience who they should be reacting to. A nonsense mentality it has always been and one he never allows the trainees at GPWA to get sucked in to. You have to believe if you’re good enough and have something substantial to offer, you’ll get chances. Make sure and take them if you do.

“If you go out and get over, it doesn’t matter who you are or if he likes you or not, Dallas will bring you back. He’s selling a product here. He’s not booking a show that he wants to watch. Everybody wants to moan and blame stuff on other people. People also mention the lack of women coming through but there’s a lot less women training than men. Its not a sexist thing. If you’re good enough you’ll get opportunities. If a male wrestler isn’t good enough he wont get put on a show. You think I don’t want more females coming through the school or being on the shows we run? Of course we do.”

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“For every 20-30 guys there 1 female trainee. If you’re good, you’ll be on the show. Man or woman. Sabryna’s the perfect case (Aivil) she works hard, shes committed, shes creative, she was always trying to up her game. Don’t show up and do fuck all then moan and blame it on something else. Your finding reasons to justify you not getting booked even though deep down you know the real reason is that you’re not very good. Its nothing to do with favouritism. We need young talent. We’ve got loads of guys here we could push for Mark Dallas, but you can’t come in here and make ICW your be all and end all. You need to make your mark elsewhere because if you get put into ICW a moment before your ready, they’ll eat you alive. If you go in there and it doesn’t get over, it’s a 100 times harder to come back again, so wait until you’re ready. Wait until you know you can do this. Because its scary. Its scary when you’ve been doing this a long time so imagine how much scarier it’ll be for a trainee? Some of them have taken the opportunity and went with it”

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Two recent standouts in ICW and further afield have been Source trainee Kieran Kelly and GPWA trainee Leyton Buzzard. After they were heavily involved in the worlds longest match between their respective pals Chris Renfrew and Joe Hendry, the young standouts were finally given a one on one match at ICWs recent debut at the Glasgow Uni Union. A match that not only put their characters into sharp focus but displayed a standard in the ring that most people knew Kieran Kelly was capable of, but something people may have been slightly shocked by regarding Leyton Buzzard. Who until that point had seen the focus of his work mainly aimed at his skills as a ‘theatrical wee bastard’ as Jester so eloquently put it. They had a standout match on a very strong show and showed the future might indeed be bright.

“They were kinda the backup for the 2 experienced guys, but then they end up outshining the guys they’re meant to be backing up. Kieran Kelly has always been very very good. He’s a cracking worker. But he’s always been a shy kinda reserved wee guy. Arthur on the other hand has always been committed, always creative, and he’s a theatrical wee bastard. He’s grown up in that life he was acting since he was wee. He was in an advert for a Star Wars thing, building the wee R2D2 in the garage. He did like singing competitions. He’s got that side to him. With Arthur, he moved here from Bristol by himself to be a wrestler. He didn’t come and see how it went, he moved here because in his mind he wasn’t going to fail. He’s entertaining and he’s always trying to push himself out there, but hes not a pest. He can back it up. In front of the ICW crowd like that you can really see. I just kinda wish that match had been in The Garage.”

“You watch these two and they steal the show and that’s a good thing. These are two guys who haven’t done much yet and they’re only going to get better. It’s a sign of things to come. Its no up to guys like me to resent it. Its natural. I don’t want to be popular because everyone else is shite because that’s no sort of achievement. I don’t want folk to fail. We did Maryhill the next day and people took the time to come up and congratulate Arthur on how good it was. You don’t often see that after the night of the show itself unless its something special. If you don’t have that passion or that level of commitment, it’s not acceptable. Anything less than that isn’t acceptable. ”

The attitude that shone through in both of them is the absolute minimum requirement for Jack Jester when he and his fellow trainers at GPWA are looking for the next big thing. Even if you aren’t as good as they undoubtedly are, you should want to get to that stage. Want to improve. Actively try to better yourself on a daily basis because they isn’t clocking in at your work in ASDA or something. This is a labour of love. It needs hard graft, dedication and just a wee streak of undeniable insanity.

JesterBT

“I’m looking for folk who want to learn to work. Trainees who’ll come through and they’ll get to the point where they’ve got a certain set of stuff, they can do, and they can have a certain amount of success with that, but I want to see folk who are constantly trying to get better and improve. I want the type of folk who are coming up to me and ASKING me if they can go to seminar down south. Anything you can do to get better, do it. If I’m constantly saying the same thing and someones not listening, there’s only a certain amount of times i’ll say it before I wont say it again. If you’re not going to listen fair enough, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to get you to listen. People like Arthur, constantly trying to get better and he wants to do it the right way. He doesn’t want to do it by being a wee suck up bastard or copying anyone else. With people like that, that’s when you realise right, this is a guy I can work with, this is a guy who wants to learn, he doesn’t want to just go out there and do what he’s comfortable. He wants to learn, he wants to impress, and hes doing it the right way by working hard at it and learning how to work and he’s spewing with confidence and charisma ”

Another strongly conveyed message was about as simple as it gets. Don’t be a dick. If someone gets an opportunity, congratulate them and work out what they’re doing that you’re not. Otherwise you’re going to spend a lot of your weekends on the couch as opposed to chucking folk about.

“I’ll always say this to my trainees as well, if one of your fellow trainees is getting on an ICW show and you’re annoyed about it, why? You should all be supporting each other. You should be trying to work out why he’s getting that opportunity when you’re not. You should be trying to get better and don’t worry about being a pest either. If you go up to someone and ask them to watch your match to give you feedback and they tell you to fuck off? Disregard them, because they’re wankers.”

Leeeeeeeee

Jester in his early years realising he’d left the oven on and even though it probably wouldn’t burn the house down, it would definitely burn his scones

Wankers indeed. If someone really wants to learn, why be like that? No one lives forever. The next batch of talent has to arrive and one day take over. Wanting them to be shite is how you end up with a scene the way it was 15 years ago. If the scene is to continue to grow, it needs good training schools and wave after wave of good talent. No matter where they come from, talent is talent. Nurture it. If someone doesn’t want to help you out, fuck them.

“If you ask for advice and they’re dicks to you, don’t get upset, it’s not worth it. Mikey’s great for that, he’ll sit with any trainee that asks for advice, and he’ll go on for ages but he’s telling you. He’s giving you advice. I’ve seen it happen even with some of my guys when they’re finished and they’re not arsed, they’re just happy to get back and get a beer. Again I’ll say, I’ll only say the same thing so many times before I’ll stop. Because folk are telling you somethings good why try to get better? Then on the other hand you’ve got guys like Kieran Kelly, Craig Anthony, Leyton Buzzard and all that. Folk from all different schools who have that potential and the work ethic to get better. Ones that make you think “this guys dangerous, I need to up my game here” If you’ve got something to offer a promoter it doesn’t matter what school you come from either. Its like Luka (Paxxo) Ross (Watson) loves him. He’s now one of the mainstays on PBW shows. Ross always books all different sorts of people, different talents, but Luka now seems to be part of their core and that says it all. He’s took him away on the camps with him. If I can book a guy and say this is the date, and he’s going to show up and do his job with no fuss, you’re going to keep getting booked. These people are being booked on merit. Luka is mad creative as well and both of them as a couple are mad creative.”

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“If you ever show up at ICW and you just want it over and done with, there’s no point in you being there. You always need to have guys like myself and Mikey who don’t take this for granted. They care and they set a standard. You get folk who want to go out there and go “watch what I can do” but you’ve got to make them care. Sha is the only guy who’s came up here and almost became Glaswegian. Like this is his second home. All his pals are up here. You don’t consider Sha someone you bring up for a show, he’s just part of ICW now. Bram as well, he’s a mad bastard but folk believe what he does. People come up here and I think they assume because they’ve worked in this place and they’ve worked in that place that people up here will care but you’ve got to make them care”

Jester believes having a bit of something else is a vital part of making it in front of an ICW crowd, or at the very least making the little time you might get matter. Don’t be timid or they’ll eat you alive.

“You need to be a certain type of person because they can read you like a book. They don’t want you to suck up and be nice to them. They want you to make them give a fuck. If you don’t go out there and make any sort of connection Dallas isn’t gonna book ye again. He’s booking a show that the fans want to see. You need to do something. See if you’ve not got a bit of attitude behind ye, a bit of spunk, you’re not going to make that connection. If you’re coming out all polite, and like ‘I’m going to show you a great match’ they might not react. That’s ten a penny. Do something else. Stand out. Immerse yourself in it”

One of Jesters career highlights has been working at The Blackpool Tower. A venue that holds great importance to him due his love for the circus. Being able to work at the same venue some of his heroes had previously done in a different lifetime must have been a surreal moment but one of those rare ones where wrestling meshes perfectly with something else you love to create something special. A memory you hope lasts as long as the ones the lions, tigers, bears and clowns created all that time ago.

“I’ve had a few bucketlist venues in my life. The Blackpool Tower was one of them because I’m obsessed with the circus. I always have been. I know an ungodly amount about clowns *laughs* so that was always a special place because all my heroes from that side of things had all worked there. I remember, me and Brian Dixon…well we were never pals, put it that way. My name at that time was Scotland’s Lee Thomas. He gave me the name and I honestly don’t know why. Even though he’d gave me that name, he always called me Tom *laughs* there was nae point even telling him otherwise. After I worked the Blackpool Tower, I’ll always remember him coming up to me going ‘well Tom, you’ve done it!’ and it was one of those few times Brian was really nice to me because he knew it meant a lot to me. I love the fact that I wrestle in it often now for PCW. I mean me and Sha won the belts in there and it was incredible for us. I remember after we’d won, there was this one wee guy going absolutely mental so I went over and got him in the ring with us, and before I knew it there must have been about 50 kids in there with us *laughs* and I’m thinking, whoever’s ring this is, is gonnae kill me.”

JesterSha

“That moment was so special for me honestly, it was cracking man, to get that reaction in a venue that meant that much. Its one of those venues that every time I get there I appreciate it, and I’ll walk about and look at everything. There’s so much cool stuff. There’s props everywhere for the clowns, up the stairs in the tower there’s a clown museum, and the most famous clown at that time was a guy called Charlie Corolli. He done 40+ summer seasons in a row there. Mind blowing. He had 3 white faced clowns called the three Pauls and all there suits are there. Charlie Cairoli could play every instrument, including the kitchen sink. Doonstairs there’s cages where all the lions, tigers, elephants and all that used to be kept. It’s not normal cages that would be used now, these were built to last, raw iron stables. These things were built into the foundations. So you’ll be walking by and thinking “fuck..there used to be elephants in there!” I tried to show Sha this, when you go backstage there’s a black and white photo of the trapeze artists practising and that bar still hangs there to this day. Almost as if its frozen in time. Its been there for 70 years or something.”

Having that moment in a venue of such personal significance where so many of Jester’s interests share house room was career defining stuff. The reason folk put their bodies on the line week in week out if for wee bits like that. Combine that personal significance of the venue with the sheer amount of joy the moment brought wrestling wise and you have some sort of perfection. There is no doubt The Kinky Party has lit a fire under both Jack Jester and his partner in hilarity Sha Samuels. Two guys who built careers on being something completely different to what they are now, throwing themselves into this tag team wholeheartedly and making it work. Making an impact on people. Making all age groups have the simple joy of getting to forget about all the shit in their lives and enjoy two folk who are quite obviously having the time of their lives.

No kinky, no party…..EAST!

JesterSha2

“It was not planned. That match the first time against Renfrew and Mikey was meant to be a one off. It was kinda just like we didn’t have anything to do so they put us together. Sha had never done anything like this before. He was always this straight up, hardnose, cockney geezer. Even at that point I wasn’t doing anything funny. It’s just that I was such a different kind of person to him and it made him uncomfortable and that made people laugh. The fans made it. It was them that started chanting no kinky no party. It wasn’t even a thing until then. We hadn’t even thought of that before they started chanting it and we’re thinking this is fun. We could do something with this. Dallas wasn’t fully sold on it initially, and we’d got ourselves so excited about it that we needed it to happen. My focus became making this happen and convincing Dallas to let us run with this. We don’t really know where we’re going with it, but let us try.”

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They didn’t really need to do much to convince him. People wanted it. Simple as that. Something about the dynamic just clicked and before either one of them knew it, they were having the absolute time of their lives. Wrestling had never been more fun. It shone through in both of them and it was born out of sheer discomfort. Sha Samuels the proper cockney geezer. Pints, the fitba, a curry, a fight. That’s what he was all about. The only thing he used chains for was to wrap round his fist when he was leathering some poor bastard and on the other end of the scale you have Jack Jester “Kinky Torturer” as The Sun so accurately put it (thats definitely no sarcasm) who just wanted them to forget their differences and be pals.

“At the start Sha was reluctant and that had to show, it has to start with a straight guy who’s reluctant to get involved in it, and I was the guy trying to get him to have fun with it. You can’t build something funny without having that to start with. So I was way more keen than him and I had to get him to take to it. That got me the sympathy from the crowd because I’m trying and trying to get him to be my pal and he’s patching me. It was Mankid and The Rock. Mankind was so keen on the idea. The Rock was his best pal in his mind, but The Rock would kid on he never existed *laughs* . So folk though he was a dick and they sympathased with Mankind. The best thing is ICW don’t usually write for us. They just let us get on with it and trust us to go with it. Sha never really wrote anything either because I played off his reactions. ”

They are one of a select few…well really they’re the only tag team who have ever had an official “launch party” but when Sha and Jester came out the closet as a full-blown tag team in Newcastle it changed everything. It established this as not just a fling. They were in this together forever. A bond so strong that Sha is even willing to pick up that big studded dildo, even if it’s just so he can hand it to Jester to wallop someone with it. There was strippers with breasts of various sizes, some more impacted by gravity than others and there was a gummy snake. The absolute cornerstones of a kinky party as the google image search I done in preparation for this confirms.

shajack2“Like the launch party in Newcastle. He genuinely didnae know what I had planned *laughs* and I said to the crowd, Sha’s shiteing himself back there *laughs* and its hilarious because he was. Its nerve-wracking enough having a segment and know what you’re doing but he’s going out there without a clue. I genuinely think its one of the best things I’ve ever done *laughs* and it had to be kinda shite but heartwarming at the same time. I was just trying to rib him, putting a photograph of him wearing a white suit *laughs* he actually owns this thing and has worn it to genuine occasions, and it blew my mind *laughs hysterically* Of all the folk I wouldn’t expect to be wearing a white suit, Sha Samuels is near the top of that list. I wanted him to have that “you bastard!” reaction. So we did that. I sourced the stripper last-minute but the older lady who was involved wasn’t planned. I’ve came in contact with her numerous but shes such a laugh. So game. She switched with the stripper and bless her, she was so game. She loved it. Its hard doing that type of stuff because if it’s no happening and they’re not reacting. Its hard. I didn’t want it to be too polished, I wanted him to keep playing off his reactions, and then he’s starting to come round and we switched it and its me getting upset with him, and he’s trying to get my attention”

That switch took their popularity to the next level. Many thought that night at the ABC was the end for The Kinky Party. It couldn’t ever work! They were too different from the start. Kidding themselves on they were. It was always going to end so why prolong the pain? But like with any important relationship, someone has to fight for it, when the chips are down, someone has to buy more chips. Sha Samuels reached out and as much as they weren’t quite as dazzling as that white suit no doubt was, he offered Jester an olive branch in the form of the sexiest team jackets in professional wrestling history.

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“We done the thing at the ABC and had the fallout (after Jesters match with James Storm) Then the thing with the jackets, I corpsed throughout that, he was so funny, its hard not to laugh. With The Kinky Party, I approached it differently to how you usually would, the wrestling side would take care of itself. Its building the double act that was important at the start. We had to be a double act. We had to be Francie and Josie. That’s why I was really adamant we had to get to the point that we’d be a recognised double act. We do have a really good laugh and you can feel the spirit being lifted when we do what we do. It’s the easiest thing I’ve done in wrestling, I’ve never had anything that’s so easy and so natural. He’s so good off the cuff, so I wont tell him what I’m going to say, he just needs to react to me. ”

With a bit of gentle encouragement from a returning Drew Galloway they finally made in and have gone from strength to strength ever since. When you’re entertaining people the way they do, run with it. They’re not only giving people a bit of comedic respite in the middle of some pretty intense shows, they’re doing it while having top quality matches for the tag team titles of teams with various styles. Be it monsters like Alpha Evil and The PoD, brawlers like The Purge, or the ever charismatic Lou King Sharp and Krieger, they have had one of the most notable ICW Tag Title runs ever and have created an environment where whoever takes it off them will be creating a moment. A team who have done battle with them before and who have a huge amount of momentum are The Kings Of Catch, and it seems only natural that their paths will cross again if both can make it through their respective Hydro matches.

While The Kinky Party very much remain a double act, the return of Grado to the ICW fold has proven welcome as they’ve had the opportunity to combine their charisma with his. Tanning a beer up the ropes is a wee bit different to slinging a bumbag over your shoulder right enough but The Kinky Party are determined their spot as the chief comedians in the comedy is not coming under threat.

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“With Grado coming back, we wanted to play it like ‘he better no come in here thinking he’s gonnae be funny *laughs* we’re the funny wans noo. I’m in Sha’s ear annoying him, trying to get him riled up so he disnae go back to Grado *laughs*. I think Kinky Party came at the right time because everything was so intense at that time, and you need a part of the show where you can just exhale. Have a laugh. You can just relax. Don’t send us out first. Put us in somewhere about the middle and give folk a chance to breathe. The crowdsurfing thing just came by accident but it became a thing we were known for. We want to have things people identify with us. Like the pre parties we’ve done, we’re genuinely out there drinking with folk, Sha’s missing his mooth. *laughs* We enjoy it. ”

Jester explained the dynamic between him and Sha as more of a married couple as opposed to two pals. An analogy that I’m sure puts the shitters up oor Sha but one that makes sense. It’s a partnership innit. With pals you can maybe not see them for a few weeks and it matters not. Next time you see them the lager will be flowing, and someone might end up getting glassed. With a partnership? If you’ve no texted in a 12 hours period you better be sleeping or deid. The Kinky Party is for life no just for Christmas and that bond has to remain sacred. If they’re going to win belts and drink aw sorts of different beers together, the trust has to be there. The trust you’d consider commonplace between married couples.

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“When we fall out it has to be treated like a married couple falling out. You’re first instinct isn’t to challenge her to a fight the next week *laughs* You go all pathetic, stomp aboot, act petty. Then we had the thing at the ABC, and he gives me the jacket, and I’m telling him I don’t like it…I love it, but its no enough. So I storm away and out comes Drew telling us to get back in and sort it out. It was a great moment.”

Wrestling fans aren’t known for their patience. Possessed with this overarching thirst to see the next big storyline happen. Never content to let it play out. If anyone thinks a split followed by what would be an excellent rivalry is coming anytime soon, think again. Sha Samuels and Jack Jester are having the time of their wrestling lives and that’s not stopping until there’s a good reason for it to stop. ”

“People know it’s not going to turn in to this split. There’s always the potential down the line but right now I can’t see it. I’m so protective over this because I don’t want it to get serious. I want to keep what we have going. People just expect it now. They’re waiting it thinking “that’ll be Jester and Sha’s feud starting now” but why? We’ve still got plenty of things to pursue and I can’t stress enough how much I’m enjoying it. Its gave me and Sha such a lift. Its gave me and Sha a new lease of life. I’d done so many things and you get to a point where you’re not really sure whats next and this came at the perfect time. Its made me love wrestling again. It pours over to even when we’re not tagging, I’m enjoying it more everywhere. It doesn’t matter where I am, even if I’m myself, you get someone chanting no kinky no party. It carries over, and we started looking at the photos, David Wilson is always so good with that, and we were zooming in on them and you see everyone’s smiling man. We kinda started realising, somethings happened here Sha. We need to run with it. But then its all about how to keep it going and be creative and no repeat yourself etc.”

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While the emphasis is heavily on the dynamic between the pair as characters, the wrestling side still needs to be paid attention to. As much as The Kinky Party have been known as violent bastards in a past life, that’s not the life they’re living now. Those characters are still in there but there’s a balance to be struck between letting them loose a wee bit when the tag titles are on the line and they’re in the ring with legit monsters, and keeping them at bay enough to make the aforementioned monsters look as scary as they unquestionably are.

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“The likes of the match with Iestyn and Bram. Its different. We have to work out how to make the match work with these two big bastards while still keeping what we have going. How do we do it and still be able to come out on the next show and be funny. Then we realised, we’re the perfect opponents for Iestyn and Bram right now. They’re so dominant and they look scary. You put me and Sha in with folk like that, and Rampage and Asthon. If im in the ring facing guys like that and I’m trying to take the piss and have a laugh. It kills them. It makes them look daft. You need to take them seriously. There’s nothing wrong with showing fear, but you have to still be The Kinky Party at first. You have to go out and do what you do, but when it comes to facing these big monsters, you need to take it seriously. ”

That match was a defining moment for The Kinky Party, who had already surprised some by managing to usurp Rampage Brown and Ashton Smith as Tag Champions, despite the dangerous team knocking the living shite out of them a lot before. They proved they have the ability to get serious when it matters and when you’re in there with bruisers like that…it matters. It matters a lot. It matters to know when someone the size of Bram hits you with a Swanton from about 20 feet in the air, stay down for a fair bit after that. Don’t be getting up, tanning a beer and taking photies. The Kinky Party are all about the fans and having a laugh when the time is right, but sometimes the fight comes first.

“You can’t have us in with guys like Iestyn and Bram and make us look like supermen. Even though we’re the champions, we need to think about it and make them look like the dominant guys they are. I can just pick Iestyn up and slamp him, but I wont. I’ve never been one to do a lot of plannin beforehand, we’ll go over a few wee things, but if you can’t go out there and have a match with Iestyn and Bram and not make it look serious? Whats the point. If you cannae make that look like a fight? Yer fucked. I started doing wee things, like now we have the jackets so I can stick the corkscrew in there. So you build it up, and Iestyns no a blood and guts guy so he’s selling it. Even when Bram done that swanton….I was in nae rush to get up” *laughs*

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“He’s huge and he’s landing on ye from about 20 feet in the air. Its knowing how long to lie there. Its knowing when to get up. They battered Sha while im out, Sha rallies a bit, then the finish to the match, we could feel it, it started having this atmosphere that folk felt ‘this is a bit heavy-duty here’ and that’s why we made it a sneaky pin and we didn’t even celebrate it in the ring. I rolled right out and that’s when you see the more serious side. We have the belts and we have to back up the funny stuff with defences. With good matches. You cannae just go out there and dance and drink beer and no dae anything, so having matches like that elevates because folk remember who we are. We remind them who we are deep down and that we can go. Then the next show you come out and its almost like you can start again. Now people appreciate you more and you’ve got a wee bit more sympathy because these guys have battered us. Same with Rampage and Ashton. It’s not my job to go out there and look like their equal. I’m not going to throw Rampage about. Thats not what I’m there for. Its storytelling man. Its using their confidence and their power against them, because they’re so confident they’ve got us, they’ve battered us before, and we come out of nowhere and beat them”

Becoming champions took The Kinky Party to another level. If you’re keeping the married couple analogy going, having the tag titles is living having a wean for a married couple. You know that means its going to stay together for at least the next wee while. Maybe take in a wee bit of sun for a first family holiday. Jester, Sha and the belts. The analogy kinda falls apart when they eventually lose the belts right enough because you wouldn’t exactly put your child on the line in a wrestling match would you? We’re getting off track here, point is, being ICW Tag Team Champions meant they were part of an elite group. That prestige meant an obligation to wind each other up as much as possible became an unwritten rule.

“When we won the belts in Newcastle that’s when we really started talking about things and documenting stuff and I’m always winding him upKinkyBenidorm on twitter *laughs* We’re doing wee videos, with him shouting “JAAAAAAAAACCCCCKK” and its just such a laugh. ICW don’t write for us but we’ve got certain things that we need to hit storyline wise. When we do backstage stuff I always tell Veronica or Jen, don’t try not to laugh, just go with it, We always kinda try to get them involved and we love. If we’re enjoying ourselves, it obviously come across. Filming stuff in Benidorm and all that. I wanted us to be a double act. I wanted us to be Laurel and Hardy. I didn’t just want to be a tag team. I wanted it to be a situation where if one of is booked somewhere, folk are asking where the other one is. It’s somehow crossed over well to family shows. Sha hates it being called The Kinky Party at family shows *laughs* he’s like ‘lets call it The Drinky Party’ *laughs* but it goes over their heads, its like pantomime, its riddled with adult references that go over the childrens heads. At ICW you can be a bit more risque, its more like an adult orientated panto, but on family shows I just feel like I’m in a panto and its great. We really enjoy doing it. Making the kids laugh and even when we come out we’re having a laugh, because we’ve been doing it for hours beforehand and we’re going out there and carrying it over, it’s an amazing thing man ”

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We all know wrestling is scripted, pre-determined, whatever you want to call it. If you’re a fan as an adult you can have a fairly accurate education guess at how things might turn out and the direction stuff is going in. Those facts can make folk a wee bit bitter towards it. Almost as if they’re active’y trying not to enjoy wrestling but if you’re not enjoying it what’s the point? Sha Samuels and Jack Jester are enjoying every second of this and they’re going to crowdsurf and mug folk off until it stops being fun.

“The Kinky Party has allowed me to be the every man as well. We can go and be in the crowd and we can mingle and all that. We can dress it up as me doing character work, but it just means I get to jump in the crowd and sit next to an auld guy and steal his pick and mix. We just have laugh with it. You need folk to identify with us. They’re the reason we exist. Without that backing there’s never a Kinky Party. Sha will agree, it happened by mistake, but I don’t know what would be happening with either of us now if we didn’t have that. I joke that The Kinky Party has added another 10 years on to my career *laughs* but honestly, at that point we were both wondering where we wanted to go and honestly. I just love it. With every big moment you know the crashing low is coming and we’d both had big moments at Shugs. Sometimes you make plans, sometimes plans are made for you. The fans made this happen, we just took something they reacted to and went with it. We’d never done comedy stuff before so its been such a removal for us and its been great.”

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With an impressive amount of years racked up between them Sha and Jester are trusted to take their work in whatever direction they want to take it. After all this is their title run, as much as the company will give you opponents, you need to make the moments. You need to make the matches matter and Jester hopes the work they’ve done as champions stands whoever’s up next in good stead. “Its a nice feeling knowing the boss trusts us to go wherever we want to take it. We never thought for a second we’d be champions so then you have the dilemma of “how does the comedy team survive” in a division that’s full of big scary bastards” *laughs*

“I hope that me and Sha have done enough work that whoever does win it from us gets the reaction they deserve. I want people to be elevated by it. Its been great. Working with different kinds of teams who have different reactions to what we do and you chop and change to suit the situation. It’s great to be able to do that at ICW and even at family shows now where we’re just the big friendly funny guys. Yer mad uncles that love a laugh. As long as we’ve got the stage to be creative we’re gonnae continue. Its great. Its proper perked me back up again. ”

Before The Kinky Party came the gathering of the bastards. The Black Label tore ICW a new arsehole throughout 2015 and 2016 and it was a time period Jack Jester threw caution to the win. Not a single fuck was given and a lot of people didn’t like that. Well…good. If you’re trying to be a prick, thats the fullproof way to know its working.

Becoming Big Kink – Black Label’s Nastiest Bastard

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Seeing that drive in Drew and the drive it gave everyone else in the company set a standard that had to be met if you were to be considered a part of this. You need to look interested at the very least. Learn how to make audience react to you instead of judging them for not doing it. It’s not your job. They’re the customers. You don’t go to McDonalds and flip the burgers yersell. It’s up to the performer to get their performance over and that’s something both Jack Jester and Drew placed a lot of importance on during that time period when they reigned supreme.

“It pisses me off sometimes when I see folk who have been doing this less than 5 years and they look like they’d rather be anywhere else. Or when folk would rather complain about crowds going down or crowds being dead rather than problem solving. ‘The crowd are dead’….are the crowd dead? Or are they just not reacting for you as much as you want? Its self-indulgent. Just because you walk through the curtain as a babyface doesn’t mean these people need to cheer you. They aren’t getting paid to cheer you. You’re getting paid to give them a reason to cheer. Instead of coming back and moaning, figure out why it hasn’t gone the way you wanted it to go and do something to change it. I think people walk through the door sometimes and expect Dallas to sit them down and give them this handbook on how to get over with his audience. It doesn’t work like that. Dallas will listen to you. He can have a constructive conversation with you and sometimes we wont always agree, but he’ll listen. You’ve got to make it happen yourself”

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“Having Drew back and seeing Drew putting everything in to it made such a difference. Drew was very much like me. He’d get raging if he saw anyone who looked like they couldn’t be arsed. It fuelled him. We had the mentality that we’ll continue to be the top guys until someone proves they can take it off us. As The Black Label, we’re the older guys, and all this young talent that can do everything are coming up that can do everything and they look great and have all the tools, but they’re bitter. They have this mentality that we get the opportunities because we’re Dallas’ pals as opposed to earning them. Being Dallas’ pal doesn’t get you over with the crowd. Being pals with Dallas doesn’t get them to react. Only you can do that”

Being pals with Dallas also doesn’t matter a fuck when, at least in storyline terms anyway, you fucking hate the cunt. The Black Label were built on solid foundations of hating Mark Dallas and everything his ICW stood for. They wanted the power, and needed to come across like the biggest team of pricks the world has ever seen. They ran the show and wanted anyone who would dare to cross them to know that was the case. Fuck with the label at your peril.

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“With The Black Label I had to be such a bastard and I had to commit to. I gave everything I had to being a genuine bastard that folk despised”

“We did that switch where me and Drew had been feuding, and at the ABC. So many things that happened in my career happened in that venue. I came out and folk thought I was gonna help Damo, and I turned and helped Drew instead. Red was there and it was just the three oldest best pals together again. We did that photo where we’re backstage (photo is below) all giving it the vickies together and there’s that same photo somewhere from years before of us doing that in Walkabout. It was one of they things that was organic. We were thick as thieves. We had guys who came in for wee stints and were affiliated with us, but we were the core group and we just caused it man. Some of they tours got wild man. There’s certain shows where the crew have thrown their headphones off and ran out because they thought there was genuine riots happening. I was just out there annoying folk, and I wasn’t really angry, but I was getting that anger out of them. If you don;t believe in your own shit, no one else would. We ruled the world man. We had everything at our disposal to make sure we stayed on top. Comparing it to the kinky party sounds daft but I’ve some of the biggest reactions from both. Like with The Black Label I just used to cause absolute havoc, then I’d stand in the safety of the ring, surrounded by security, while folk go mental *laughs* so to be getting the opposite now with The Kinky Party but still getting the reactions is great. ”

Make no mistake about it, during that run with The Black Label, Jack Jester was a bastard. He done absolutely everything in his power to draw nothing but pure unfiltered hate from the paying audience. Who gives a fuck if you paid for a ticket mate, we run the gaff, you do not. It was as simple as that and he embrace his role as chief aggressor of the group very seriously. He existed to annoy you and he had an absolute ball doing it.

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“Say I was on second, and someone would dare say something to me, and I’d refuse to work until they were thrown out. Folk used to come up and say stuff to me. Telling me it was shite. I’m like…I know. Its meant to be. I want them to hate me. If you’re angry about it, think how angry the guy is that got chucked out. It got to the point where Drew would always just let me kick everything off and he’d be my backup. Drew used to jump in front of me thinking I was genuinely losing it. Trust me, if I’m genuinely raging about something. You’ll know about it. Let me be in my head for the segment and really commit to it.”

The problem being such an unapologetic bastard is that when it came time to turn back, it was hard to make people believe in him as the loveable psycho they had made at one time considered of their idols. You call folk arseholes enough times, they just start to believe you think they consider them to be an arsehole. They forget you’re playing a character and it had come time to become something different. Drew was about to rejoin WWE and he needed one last feud. He needed a hero to annihilate and who was better for the job then his auld pal? Once again aligned with ICW after turning on The Black Label and knocking Drew out with a massive studded ‘weapon’ at The Hydro to give control of ICW back to Mark Dallas.

“I was like fuck, I’ve backed myself into a corner here. How can I ever be babyface again when I’ve been such a bastard. So spiteful. I used to target folk for different stuff and I was a proper bastard. Folk were genuinely raging. If I go and say sorry and ask them to forgive me they don’t believe in it. They don’t believe I’m the bastard I want them to believe I am.”

“Somehow we managed the big turn at The Hydro. I’ll never forget that reaction the night before when Drew said he was retiring. Folk were so taken by that, it was amazing. We didn’t plan that either and it went so far. Someone shouted something and everyone just went aff their nut at him. He was still treating it like a wrestling show but folk were convinced. This was real. Folk were watching like it was real.findrew Then someone fainted and I jumped out the ring and broke character. Dallas came out. Everyone’s out of character then banng! Drew punched Dallas. Folk were going nuts. You bastards! Folk are crying. You had a half and half reaction, like wrestling fans who got it were like “well done” and then you had the folk who feel entitled to know when its real and when its not. So you had this building with Drew getting ahead of himself, and Red kinda thinking of himself as bigger than The Black Label. It was the opposite of when I turned to join them, when I came out folk were expecting me to help Drew and I went the other way ”

The thing about The Black Label people really fucking hated is that you knew they were good. You fully despised it but you knew deep down they were at the very top because they had earned it and with Red Lightning at the helm, they had the power to stay there. A thing that comes in handy when it comes to keeping you on top is being able to do this job well. Mad concept I know, but actually being good at this and being able to adapt to any situation you’re thrown into is an integral part and a value Jester tries to instil in to his trainees as well as his own work. A lot of lessons have come from working with Sabu several times and adapting the matches to still look good without taking liberties. A relationship built between the two men that led to Sabu making Jester an offer he couldn’t refuse.

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“I know hes got a bad neck, I know hes got a bad hip, If I can’t find another way of working someone without doing stuff that puts them in danger, then I can’t work. He’s constantly being put in there with folk who are inexperienced. A guy knocked all his front teeth out, this guy obviously didn’t know what he was doing. He’s panicking because he’s wrestling Sabu, and he’s made a mistake. With Sabu you need to be on your game. I enjoy working with him, some folk say they find it hard, but to me its interesting. Its exciting. You’ve got to be at your best. There’s nothing better than meeting your hero and it turns out he is that guy. It was after a show, I remember talking to him about doing the barbed wire match and how I’d never done one before and all that and he says to me “Terry (Funk) taught me how to do them, if you want I could teach you” and I nearly burst into tears. It was surreal. I’m standing outside The Garage and Sabu’s telling me he’s going to teach me how to do a barbed wire match. I couldn’t wrap my head round it. So I’ve kinda taken wee bits from all these guys, and when you see people who are maybe 2 years in, doing in badly and almost belittling it, it annoys me. I never have and never will find using lego in wrestling funny. I’m sure it was a good laugh the first time it was done. After the match they’ll post a photo that kind of defeats the purpose of it entirely with a funny wee caption. Or they cannae wait to get backstage to they can post a photo of their chest when its been chopped to bits.”

While his standards for hardcore wrestling stay high, the key seems to be respect at all times. Respect wrestling and take your responsibility seriously, and Jack Jester will respect you. Coming in chopping 3 layers of skin and a few vital organs out of a trainee in their first match is just being a dick.

SQGOJESJST“Its folk taking liberties I don’t like. With a guy like Walter, you’re going to get these big marks. He’s a big guy and if he times it right that’ll happen, but its people who take liberties and you can see the anger in their face when they do it. Like when they do it with younger guys because they know they wont say anything, but they’re naive enough to go back and take a photo of their chest all black and blue and there’s nothing cool about it to me. I hope the guy who was in there chopping fuck out ye thinks he’s a hard man, because that’s obviously why he’s doing it”

Someone who is undoubtedly ‘hard’ is the enigmatic PCO. PCO was once one half of early-mid 90s WWE tag team The Quebecers and has continued to hold an influence on wrestling to this day. Recently performing in the prestigious Battle Of Los Angeles for PWG as well as having an eye catching match with Walter at Wrestlemania weekend a year earlier. To be doing some of the things he does at 50 after having a career most people would be able to draw a line under and be proud of takes something. It takes a love for pro wrestling and that was something that shone through in PCO when he and Jester spent some time together on the camps. An attitude that has no doubt carried in to Jesters work with the GPWA, and surely must serve as some kind of inspiration for the future, because if a guy like that who’s done everything still wants to crack out a moonsault to entertain folk, he’s built a bit differently. There’s a love there for this wrestling carry on that somehow has not been tinged with bitterness and regret over time.

“PCO is another guy I met at all star, but he’s an absolute workhorse. Carl’s been about forever and hes had so many reasons to be disheartened by this,so many reasons to give it up. I mean he’s 50 now, when I met him at all star I was early 20s. By this point he’d done everything, but he always wanted to help others out. He was always trying to evolve himself as well and he’d try out different gimmicks every month but he was so forthcoming with anyone who needed help. Mason Ryan (former WWE wrestler) started out there and back then he just wasn’t getting it. He had the look and he was getting pushed to the moon, but there was a lot of things he was struggling with and Carl really tried to help him whereas a lot of the other more experienced guys would just tell him he was shite.”

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“There’s no point telling anyone they’re shite if you’re not going to give them any advice on how they can improve. He used to work him a lot and his gimmicks were so suited to that environment and suited to making Mason look good, so he’d give him different bits of advice on how to make the matches look good and what to do at certain times. He was so dedicated and just a lovely guy, so to see the stuff he’s doing now is great. The match with Walter was outstanding. He’s out there doing all these dives and moonsaults, sentons off the ropes and all this. He took so many chops his chest was black and this is Wrestlemania weekend. This is a 50 year old man. Folk are wondering “why the fuck is he wrestling Walter on one of these shows?” and he’s thinking “I’m gonnae show ye why”

Experimentation with different gimmicks seems to be another lesson Jester has drawn with working alongside PCO. An ability to adapt to any given situation, even if that adaptation is more to highlight your opponents strengths than your own, as PCO undoubtedly knew he was doing when he got involved in a chop war with Walter.

“That kind of chopping is a different story, Carl would let you know if a line was crossed, he would let you know if he wasn’t happy, but they just stood there and went toe to toe, chopping fuck out each other and it was cool to see. If the fans are reacting to it and its working for you, go at it all day”I enjoy it when its a back and forth, and you’ve got two guys who can really work and react to the crowd so they know exactly how long to go with it, then eventually one gives up and take the bump and the crowd goes wild for it. ”

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A deep seeded love for villainy seems to be ingrained in Jester. One of my favourite aspects of going to family shows was just how absolutely terrified the weans were of him. He doesn’t do that because he hates children and wants to be in their nightmares (well….maybe a wee bit) he does that because if they’re going to experience a wrestling show the right way, they need the baddies. They need the guy with the scary eye who comes out looking homicidal and clatters his corkscrew off the barrier right in front of you as he walks past. You need the guy who’s going to jump the barrier and chase the team of wee guys round the perimeter of the Paisley Lagoon.

“I love being a villain at family shows. I love being the guy to wind the weans up and give them a fright. You’ll get wee guys giving you stick, and usually take a few steps past them before I turn round and shout something back. You’ve got to make them believe you’re the villain. I’m no being a dick. If folk ask me for a photo I’ll gladly take it, but ask me when I’m a babyface. Don’t ask me to do this stuff when I’m trying to be the devil. ”

Jack Jester – Star of film and television

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Along this journey Jack Jester and ICW have been on, there’s been vital moments along the way. Things that have helped the company grow to what it is today. Putting exposure on what they do to a wider audience of people who aren’t necessarily interested in wrestling. In fact, a lot of them probably think its a bit daft. That fake shit yer auld uncle used to like before he got intae the boxin’. A real mans sport. The British Wrestler documentary with Vice was the first time ICW was really put on a platform for a wider audience to see. Leading to Insane Fight Club and Insane Fight Club 2 on the BBC

“It was the first time I became synonymous with one product. I’d need to watch it again. We all went down for the premier then we went back down and done this wee show in a working mens club to kinda promote it. We filmed that video and just had a laugh, Grado talking about his pieces being an embarassment compared to mine. ”

The Vice Documentary lead to an infamous road video filmed on Mark Dallas phone when the crew went down to see the premiere of the film. A chaotic couple of days ensued fuelled by misery, cocktails, good pieces and megabuses.

“I don’t like London. I’m more likely to knock back work down there because it drains ma soul man. We were only meant to be a small part of that but the guys realised we had something and made us the main focus. It was back in the earlier days so it was when we were first getting a bit of momentum. It was funny because we watched it and we didn’t know till later that Alan Rickman was behind us the whole time. Grado was having to go up and talk about stuff and all that and we were all heckling. They put on this small show as sort of an example of what we do. It was in this wee pub in Bethnal Green. It was like it was frozen in time from the 60s or something man. The barmans telling ye he’s done a life stretch for murder. It was just us down in London causing it lately. It gave us a wee bit of a sort subculture status online”

When Insane Fight Club was first released Jack Jester became a celebrity overnight. His storyline of becoming ICW Champion in front of his Dad watching him wrestle for the first time was the perfect complement to the stories told by Mark Dallas and Grado and really built up the achievement as something special for Jack Jester as a wrestler and a person. It mattered and that came across, helping show reach unprecedented levels of success.

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“With Insane Fight Club we all has a meeting to start off. It was a guy called Adrian McDowell who directed it. It was so full on. We filmed it over the course of a year but it was all the time. Every show. Honestly I think he ended up with 150 hours of footage and its for a one hour show so it was so full on. Going in to all out backstories. Then Grado became a big focus of it because he was kinda the every man. The funny guy. Like when we first started getting recognised, he used to go on about it being a pain in the arse, and I wouldn’t mind it, and that’s because when they come up me they’re a bit intimidated or maybe they’ll just politely ask for a photo or something, but with him they’re coming up to him and jumping on his back and all that because he made them feel like he was their pal. He had that appeal”

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“When it was coming on the TV we all piled into my grans, my mum, my sister and everyone. We’re all buzzing and Grado’s like ‘My Ma’s shiteing herself, she’s sitting here with the dishtowel over here heid n everything’ because obviously she was in it as well. It was meant to be just BBC Scotland but it went on the network. They were originally aiming to hit 100k for the views and I’m pretty sure we topped over a million on that first night. Me and Dallas went out to celebrate it and that’s when you proper started noticing it. You’re walking down streets you walk down all the time but you can overhear folk talking about it, and you’re wondering if you’re supposed to turn round or just pretend you’ve not heard it. Especially looking how I do when you go out, I dress a bit different and with the big earrings and the beard etc, its hard to miss me. That was when I got a wee taste of that jealousy Grado because folk are a bit put out at the extra attention I was getting, but I don’t get it. If more folk are recognising me or any of us, that means more eyes is getting on the product YOU work on.”

Then came the next one. Having recently welcomed Drew Galloway home it was time to make the best of his glorious presence and one aspect of that would be including his story in the sequel. A further look in to ICW and how it had grown since the first documentary aired and the resulting success.

“The second one was more focused on us touring and trying to promote stuff for that. A lot of stuff didn’t make the cut actually, like we had an eating competition etc. We had Toal in a pram at some point. Going to Brookside was the best though. I couldn’t believe, folk live there man. It’s an actual place. The best thing was, Jimmy Corkhill was there. Folk are just going about their business as usual, looking out their window’s and seeing Jimmy Corkhill there…..in Brookside. Grado’s giving it ‘its like cuttin aboot wae Bieber’ because you’ve got folk flooding out their houses to get photos taken and all that. It was just madness. Drew was involved with that so we got into the backstory with me and him a bit more leading up to The Barrowlands”

It allowed a wider audience to see a bit more of the story that captivated British wrestling at that time as Drew and Jester barrelled towards their ICW Title match at Fear and Loathing.

“Drews mum had recently passed so it went in to that a bit. She was like my mum as well whenever I’d stay there, obviously I wasn’t from there so when I’d stay I wouldn’t know how long I’d be there. I always had a great relationship with his family. Both documentaries done amazing things for us. In terms of bringing eyes in, it was so important. We didn’t want wrestling fans to watch it, or well we knew they would anyway, but we needed to do enough interesting things where if folk were flicking through the channels they’d stop and go ‘wait a minute, whats this?’ It was amazing because before that we were just this wee company who ran nightclubs in the town. We had popularity. We had this kinda subculture status and even back then we could tell we had something, but after the Fight Clubs I had auld women coming up to me knowing who I am, and even if they’ve no watched it or they don’t know exactly what I do but we became more recognisable.”

“We worked with the same producers on both Insane Fight Clubs and then again on the new show we’re doing. Rogue To Wrestler. It’s a different thing in terms of us being the ones behind it as opposed to being the subject of it. It was difficult because there was the potential there to make it look a bit daft. We had to make sure we were doing it the right way and putting it across right, but we had no doubt the producers would do a great job on it. We’d built up such a rapport with them there was never any danger of that”

Insane Fight Club II - This Time it’s Personal

Armed with plenty of experience of at least being in front of the camera in a reality TV setting, Dallas and co had an idea of their own. They would be the ones driving the bus, instead of getting steamin up the back of it. They wanted to make a show of their own and the concept they came up with was rogue to wrestler. A show that would take down on their luck people who have maybe come from hard backgrounds and giving them the chance to turn their lives around with powerbombs n that. Instead of a one off documentary, it would be a series and having recently finished filming it Jester beamed with pride at the finished product.

“Its coming in February, what channel? we’re not sure yet, but we know it’ll be February. There’s going to be press about it starting from the new year. People are going to know what’s happening. The good thing about it is, with the Fight Club docs, we filmed for so long and got so much material, then once it was done that was it. It was over. With this, we’ve filmed three episodes. We gave them so many different challenges that led them to the point of being ready to go out and perform. The people involved had given us a rough idea of what had went on in their lives, and really this show’s about them, as opposed to the Fight Club ones being about us. We learned so much about them over the course of it and these people have ben through some tough stuff. So to see them put themselves out there and even take part in this has been amazing. Some of them suffer really badly from anxiety and things like that and it was impressive they even signed up. Dallas was laughing and even our producer was laughing when we watched it back because this is our TV show that we’ve filmed and I was literally on the edge of my seat watching it, wondering what was going to happen at the end. For anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on? Its going to be great. Honestly, I’m so, so happy with it.”

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One of the reasons they were so over the moon with it was the light it shone on Glasgow. A positive, uplifting story of people changing in front of your very eyes through wrestling. Obviously the main point is to entertain folk but the work everyone involved put in to it wasn’t to make something throwaway or daft. This is a project they really believe in.

“Even on my days off I’d come in here and film cut aways. We did so many daft things to help the process. Its very Glaswegian. We filmed daft wee things to help add to it all. Stuff like guys sitting on the grass at half 2 in the afternoon in George Square and all that. But its good. Its funny. We laughed all the way through it and by the end, I honestly couldn’t thank them enough. Jen and Elspeth who spearheaded the whole thing (producers) have seen it many times now and love it, but the big boss who took a lot of convincing just to make it at all, absolutely loves it now. She just didn’t get it, but she was balling her eyes out watching it. The whole team were so engrossed in the filming, it was nice to see. At times in that industry there can be a bit of disconnection between what you’re filming but when we went into their offices all the name tags are changed now to wrestling personas. Things like “Mad Dog” Egan and all that. It took over their whole office for a while. Its great. The work they done considering we filmed it with very little in terms of cameras and equipment. Its came across really well and all my fears and my nerves about it have kinda gone now. I’ve seen it and I can relax. Now I can push it to the moon because I know its good and I’m just dying for folk to see it.”

“It makes ICW look great as well. All the different shots at the venues we run, especially The Hydro. They really put over the skill of wrestling and the seriousness that it takes to be good at it. These people had never done anything wrestling related before. One person hadnt even watched it ever. So to see their attitudes change was amazing. They went in with the attitude “its fake, how hard can it really be?” so it was good to see that slowly change and for that to come across on screen.”

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As much as it showed ICW in a positive light it also gave folk a wee peek at how things are done at GPWA. The school Jester and Lionheart both have a hand in running and the school where that hilarious photo of them doing DDP yoga poses above was taken. The show gave the audience a look at how the coaches sync up and apparently a lot of that syncing comes from synchronised stretching.

“The dynamic between me and Lionheart was interesting to see as well. We do this all the time, but we’re different people. We’ve got a similar mindset when it comes to how we approach it but it was interesting to see how we differ. There are times where he’s in the ring doing drills and stuff and I’ll be on the floor or on the apron and when folk are feeding out, I’m giving them advice before they rejoin the queue. It was interesting to see that all play out. The fact that the people who made it are so in love with it means a lot. THEY cannae wait to get it out, so its great to have the might of them behind us. Its our first jaunt into formatted TV so its great to have that confidence in what we’ve produced from the people who made it. It’s about the people who have been part of the show. Its about the “rogues” and our role is presenting the show as best we can and helping them get their stories across. We gave them an experience that they’ll never get again and never could. Without sounding too dramatic, it really has been a life changing thing. You can see people change in front of your eyes in the process of it. People start to look better, talk better, feel better, and these are people who have been through some proper heartbreaking things. Utterly heartbreaking. Because we’re dealing with real lives and real people, it comes across differently than if it was just a group of wrestling trainees. It had to be approached in a certain way because if we in any way looked like we were trying to set these people up and make them look silly. It would make us look like bullies.”

There was also misconceptions as to what the show was going to be in general. When the ad went up initially there was a rush of eager wrestling fans wanting to sign up but that wasn’t what they were looking for. People assumed it would just be a bunch of criminals having a wrestle. Not the case. They were looking for people who just needed an opportunity in any form. The less you know about wrestling the better, because you’re sure as hell going to find out this is serious and the seriousness it takes to make a career in this happen came across every well.

“I think when people heard the title “Rogue to Wrestler” they were thinking along the lines of us taking someone who’s just out the jail for something serious and putting them on display. We can’t do things like that because then you’re almost glorifying it, and what is the poor victim going to think about that? Sitting in the house watching the person who assaulted you have this life changing experience? So it’s definitely not along those lines. Its about folk who have had a tough time who want to better themselves, and show folk “this is me now” and I’m really really happy with how it’s turned out. Its been great to be a part of and I’m just so impressed and excited with how its been put together. Its been nice to sit back and see the finished product and not feel like we could have done certain things better or even just differently because they’ve done an immense job putting it together. People worked over their hours to make it what it is and I can’t wait for folk to see it”

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Its a simple enough concept and one that was a continued theme throughout an interview that wound up spanning 4 hours after initially being scheduled for 1-2. Take wrestling seriously. That doesn’t mean don’t enjoy it and have a laugh with it, but take it seriously. Get good at it and don’t get pissed off if it doesn’t happen for you right away because the chances are, it not happening for you right away is the best possible thing for you. You have to learn as you go. It takes a lot of graft to get to ICW and to get to the required level you need to be willing to graft.

“I’m protective of ICW because we’ve built something here, and I hate seeing anyone come in who I don’t think should be there. Taking it for granted, and moaning about being asked to do things. If you’ve been about for a long time, you get your say, we all have a moan, but folk who are quite frankly not giving it everything when they’re lucky to be there in the first place. You need to give it absolutely everything. I’m no saying go out and hurt yourself, but give it everything you’ve got. They watch the fans react to the established guys”

“If you cannae adapt to new things, you cannae work. I’ve never wanted to be a sympathy booking or just considered part of the furniture. I’ve always took pride in being able to change it up and give people something to think about it. If you had your favourite dinner every single night, you’d end up craving just about anything else. Doing the same thing over and over never works. You need to give people something to be invested in”

The reactions Jack Jester is getting right now as part of The Kinky Party is ample proof that he’s nae sympathy booking. He’s not just there because that’s the way it’s always been, he’s there because he and Sha are vital cogs in an ICW that is telling some of its most engaging stories in years. No Kinky. No Party.

Massive thank you to David J.Wilson for fishing out some cracking shots for me. Also thank you to Warrior Fight Photography. Hope Wrestling. ICW. Jack Jester’s official facebook page, the internet, I think some of the photos are from The Herald? Some folks phones. You get the jist. A lot of good photos

An Interview With Jack Jester – Part One. Becoming Jack Jester. ICW Champion

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Across its history ICW has had a few mainstays. The building blocks that make a company recognisable at every stage of its growth. The franchise players. The ones having to put up with being side eyed and told their success is a by-product of their friendship with the owner and nothing to do with their unquestionable talent. Among the most vital of those building blocks over the years has been Jack Jester. Many of the ICW and Scottish Wrestling’s biggest moments have had him in the middle of it. Corkscrew in hand, unapologetically causing it as either a hardcore bastard, a right nasty bastard or most recently, a kinky bastard. Aside from that, without him reaching out to Mark Dallas back in 2010, with an idea that only an adult orientated show could handle, ICW as we know it today might not even exist at all. After becoming immersed in the local BDSM scene thanks to meeting one of his best pals who would go on to become his wrestling valet, the idea was born for “Scotlands” Lee Thomas to become the Jack Jester we know today.

“It came in stages, the character obviously takes years to build over the years as you find things and add things to it over the years. Before that, Scottish Wrestling was bare. There was nothing there. It wasn’t as bad as it had been maybe 15 years or so ago, but when you look back at the quality of it, there was nothing there. So to make any sort of money, you had to go on the camps.”

Jester’s induction to the camps happened completely by accident after future Black Label comrade and good pal Red Lightning done something so daft that only a potent mixture of youthful exuberance and red-blooded patriotism could be blamed.

Jestttttttt “Red Lightning was part of the Scottish camp team and he, when travelling back up on one of his days off, insisted on getting his photo taken on top of the ‘Welcome To Scotland’ sign…and he fell aff it! *laughs*. So he was out injured and I got the call and asked if i could replace him for a while on that. It was my 18th birthday, and I went to Weymss Bay Holiday Park, and I just remember it being scariest thing. Not because I was nervous for the shows, but because I walked out and there was about 4 or 5 folk there. I’d been wrestling for a wee while up until that point, obviously starting out with BCW. Which wasn’t at the level it is now but they still ran the same venues. Actually, if I remember right, I ditched my prom date to wrestle at the Kilmarnock Grand Hall” *laughs*

Persuading the poor lassie to maybe patch the prom altogether to watch her potential date do a bit of wrestling wouldn’t have been as appealing as it might be now when BCW consistently pack out these venues. A different time. A different, altogether less Jestoooglamorous set-up but it would have taken huge commitment to give up a once in a lifetime experience. Or maybe the burd was just heavy annoying. In any case, it caused Jester to develop a bit of a love/hate relationship with the venue that would go on to be the scene of some of his biggest matches. Including an official shot at Drew Galloway’s TNA World Title. “I’m sure there was about 50 folk there and you could imagine how dire that would’ve been for a venue that size. I always had a love hate relationship with the Grand Hall as its incredible now. Graeme obviously gets the stage now for the bigger shows and the setup is a lot better. Back then everything felt a bit flung together. I’m all of nothing when it comes to character. If I didn’t feel it was right or it wasn’t clicking I’d be more inclined to say take me off shows, because I wasn’t comfortable. I was off and on, and coming up with all sorts of stupid names and all that. Looking back on some of the photos and stuff I don’t know what I was thinking”

“Scotlands” Lee Thomas

“The camps became a thing I done every year after that. I moved from Haven to Allstar. At that point I was still Jack Jester on the camps, butleeee when I went to all-star, they took that away from me. Made me wear a kilt, wave a Scotland flag etc. I was there to replace Drew essentially after he got signed. I ended up working for them on and off for years. I moved to Liverpool and I lived there for most of the year, just coming back every now and then, but I didn’t take any other bookings anywhere, because it was the type of situation where if I asked for 2 days off to come up to Scotland for a show, you’d likely get a call as soon as you get here saying ‘just come back in 2 weeks’ and you’d end up losing a lot of money”

Before the journey to becoming the hardcore icon happened, Jester learned his craft in his early days when he was based in Liverpool for most of the year. The type of sacrifice that showed a huge amount of faith in his own ability, but one that was also a necessary part when it came to learning your craft back then. There wasn’t an abundance of training schools or experience to be gained on your doorstep. As a result, despite being limited already, the Scottish wrestling scene had to do without Jack Jester for a while before his ICW re-genesis came about.

“I was gone from Scotland for years at that point, and then I had this idea (for ICW). The idea came about organically as I’d recently got involved in that scene (BDSM). I’d met Lolly, we hit it off and became best mates. Obviously you know it exists, watching it on the tele and all that when you maybe shouldn’t have been. Things like Eurotrash, Sexcetera and all that. You know that there’s alternative scene that no one knows about, where everything is very secretive. All of a sudden through hanging about with her, I’d become immersed in this scene, and I was meeting all these folk that were so open, so friendly and maybe the first time I’d ever met folk who were completely sure about who they were. People who were proud to say this is me and that’s it, and that really opened my eyes up. If I hadn’t been introduced to that scene and put in environments and situations like that I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am now. I would never have known there was this different side to the world essentially”

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Becoming Jack Jester – The Hardcore Icon

Being exposed to this enlightened world where the people in it aren’t riddled with self-doubt gave Jester an idea. He needed to get on the phone to a certain Mr Dallas who had run a few shows under the name “Insane Championship Wrestling” a few years earlier before putting the company on hiatus. There was only one company and one promoter where this character could see the light of day in Scotland. It needed to be an adult audience and back then that sort of thing was a rarity.

“I started to come up with the bare bones of this character and I thought “There’s no way I can apply to anywhere else bar an adult company” and they weren’t ten a penny back then. Even now they aren’t. I phoned Dallas, and at that time I didn’t know what the look would be or any of that. I had Lolly as my valet and she was the dominatrix, and it was almost as if I was this kinda guy who was just hanging out with her while she done that stuff. I was adamant it wasn’t going to be a hardcore thing even though I had always enjoyed that type of wrestling. Mick Foley/Cactus Jack was the reason I started to enjoy wrestling in the first place. At that time I was adamant I would never do it until I had earned my stripes. Until I could work. Until I had learned wrestling. When its done badly I can’t stand it. If you’re in there doing hardcore stuff, and you’re ring positioning is shite, and you’ve no footwork, it’s never going to look good. If you can’t do the basics you’ve got absolutely no right hitting someone with a chair, or putting them in to thumbtacks”

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The first taste of the more ‘adult’ version of Jack Jester we seen today took place in Maryhill and while he had an idea of where he wanted the whole thing to go, there were some teething problems in the early days, or ‘randomly paddlin’ guys arses’ problems to be more precise, but once they worked out the kinks, they came up with something that drew a reaction never really seen before at least locally. Having a manager with a very particular skill set started to come in handy as Jester began to flesh out this character over time.

“The first time I ever done the BDSM thing was in the smaller hall in Maryhill that we run now with GPWA. It was against William Grange. I was feeling like there’s no point in having Lolly just beside me unless she’s involved. There’s no point having anyone with you if they’re no doing anything, be it a valet or a domanatrix valet in this case. Even in cases when I’m working with someone with a valet, I’ll always come up with something to involve them, otherwise, what are they there for? So Lolly came oot, she had a paddle, she had a noose, and she used to come out and just randomly start paddling guys arses and all that *laughs*. I had to keep saying to her, I know what you’re trying to do, but stop just randomly doing it during the matches, cause I’m trying to get something across in the ring, and no ones watching me because you’re out there randomly paddling guys arses” *laughs*

When the arse paddlin subsided they collectively realised Lolly had a skill few others could replicate or indeed regurgitate. She could spew on command, and when you chuck some red food colouring in the mix, and hunners of cider, you’ve got yourself the recipe for a good old-fashioned blood spew “Lolly could make herself sick. So we came up with something using that. I was backstage, this is right before I come out, I’m back there feeding lolly with pancakes covered in red food colouring and she’s washing it down with cans of Strongbow. I’m sure if I remember right, I threw Grange out the ring, and Lolly just toddled over, threw her hair to the side…it was so eloquent *laughs* and all this red stuff comes pouring out all over Grange. He was a good sport and let me do it. The reaction was like nothing I’d ever heard before. They weren’t cheering, they weren’t booing, they weren’t laughing, it was like a mixture of everything. There was guys wanting to react but couldn’t because their burds were there. Parents walking out with their kids. That’s when we realised….we’ve got something here. We might not know exactly what it is yet, but we’ll make something out of it. Over time it was more about me starting to look more the part. That was when I ditched the colourful gear, grew my beard etc. Its taken a long time to just fine tune it. What I am now didnt happen because I’d planned it. Things just stuck and I added things on and it grew over time”

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An important aspect to Jester and something that anyone going down the path of doing hardcore stuff should consider was looking the part. If you don’t look like someone who can survive getting scudded over the napper with a barbed wire bat you have no business wielding one yourself, as he went on to explain.

“I didn’t want to do it until I looked old enough as well. If I started out and immediately wanted to do all that shit it would have looked daft. I’d have been a wee boy, doing stupid shit and at that point I wasn’t clued up as to when I needed to hold back. Even on the camps, I used to drop elbows off the apron every single night. Twice a day. I used to get thrown off the stage on to the concrete and this is for folk who are barely paying attention. I was young and I was fulla beans and I just wanted to go out there and do this stuff. I also didn’t have anyone telling me not to do it. I was on this team with guys in their 30s, and 40s who have been doing this a long time and no one was telling me otherwise. ”

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He has no trouble imparting a bit of wisdom on his trainees but he maybe sees a bit of himself in the ones with the youthful exuberance to go ahead with it and ignore his advice anyway. They would be wise to heed the advice of someone who learned their craft back in a day where good advice wasn’t easy to come by. Someone who’s made the mistakes before and learned from them, but if people don’t want to listen, there’s only so many times you can repeat yourself

“I will tell folk that, although at times they choose to ignore me. If you’re fundamentals aren’t right. Your footwork, intensity, your striking isn’t there, then I’m not impressed when you jump off a balcony. What am I impressed about? Anyone can do it. Sure it takes a set of balls to do it. I’m not denying that at all. Not everyone will do it, but anybody CAN do it. If you don’t time it right, and do it in the right places where people care about it you’re going to crash and burn eventually. Ignore my advice all you want.”

While hardcore wrestling is a big part of Jack Jesters story, he has standards when it comes to putting these matches together. Its an art and even if its one you don’t particularly enjoy as an individual its a craft you can undoubtedly appreciate when its done well. Something Jester has continually prided himself on throughout his career. Tell a story. Don’t bleed for nae reason. Don’t take putting your body through such heavy trauma lightly. Time it right.

“I never wanted to be a garbage wrestler either. I’ve never been a fan of weapons just being everywhere and guys pulling stuff out from under the apron for the sake of it. I was always more a fan of the Cactus Jack, Terry Funk kind of style. More than say, The Sandman. I mean there was a time and a place for him and all that but he’s always kinda annoyed me. I’ve got certain standards when it comes to hardcore matches and I think it comes from looking up to guys like Foley and Funk. I don’t like things like wrestling in jeans and a t-shirt…just because it’s a hardcore match. If that’s your look, fair enough, but I’ve never liked changing it just for that type of match. Terry Funk always wore his tights, so I always wear mine. Another thing I don’t particularly like is lightubes. I just don’t like the look of it. If you’re going to put yourself in a position to get hurt, it should look like it actually does hurt. I want folk to believe I’m putting my safJestdownety on the line. I just draw a line at some stuff. The death match tournaments and stuff now just isn’t for me. Maybe in the past, I always wanted to go to Japan and do death matches but when I look at it now, there’s no way I would. If I was allowed to work my style of hardcore match then fine, but I don’t know how much of a reaction it would get because everyone’s doing all this crazy stuff. People are hitting themselves with these light tubes and no selling it, then when the opponent hits them with it, and all of a sudden its sore. When there’s broken glass all over the ring and you’re doing pinning combinations on it but not feeling the glass, then all of a sudden you take a move on it and the glass is sore again. You’re rolling about in broken glass. You should be selling that constantly. For me its a case of it missing a story at times now, and you’re just sitting waiting on the next big thing to happen without really paying attention to the bits in between”

Looking up to the likes of Foley and Funk breeds a need for authenticity. A need for it to feel real. If you don’t look like you’re a wee bit mental, don’t be flying through tables. Don’t be getting chucked on to thumbtacks. Tell a story through the art of being a mad bastard or don’t bother at all. The infamous match in 1995 in Japan between Cactus Jack and Terry Funk where both men left in ambulances serves as a measuring stick and almost a manual on how to push that type of match to the absolute limit while managing to tell a story in the process. A story etched in blood stained barbed wire and two best pals forever bonded by what could only be described as some kind of mutual murder pact.

“Foley and Funk in the King Of The Death Match tournament is the prime example. I still watch that and believe it to this day. I believe these guys were killing each other. Funk’s head is taped up, Cactus arm is taped up, its dark, they’re fucking things up, and you can just feel this atmosphere. I’m frightened watching it. I’m sitting wondering how they must have felt, after wrestling death matches all day, and then doing that to each other to finish it off. Going out there when you’re already severelyhhhh injured, knowing you’re going out there to injure yourself way worse than you already are. Watching it back, you know this is going to happen and you still get sucked in, and if I’m caring about now when it was nearly 30 years ago, you’ve done your job. Mick always had this way about making me care about him. He wasn’t doing loads of different big spots all the time, but if he done something it always meant something and helped tell the story. Like when The Rock took that chair to his head at the Royal Rumble. That match was planned out in stages, but they did it until it was too much. They pushed it as far as it would go. Folk loved him. They cared about HIM. It made me feel things I’d never felt before. I’ll never forget when Triple H beat him in the cell, and he retired. My Ma kept me off school the next day. Because she knew, if anyone made a snide comment to me about it, I’d have fuckin wrecked the place. I’m no 8 year old here. This is high school *laughs* . Terry was the same. He had that respect. He’d go over the Japan and have the respect of that audience. He used to just snap at folks ankles, and run at them, he literally personified a madman but yet he would never shy away from asking for help. This guy wasn’t trying to look like a hardman. He was just a normal guy, apart from the fact he was a mental case” *laughs*

The allure of characters who meshed an air of unpredictability with vulnerability is something that has influenced Jack Jester throughout his career to date. If you care so much about a character that his retirement keeps you off school the next day, this wrestling thing exists somewhere deep down inside you. Its ingrained. It matters. Taking all these eye catching risks means very little if the person taking them doesn’t show a human side and make it seem like putting themselves through this ordeal is as terrifying as it looks. That legitimacy is lost when people don’t make the effort to make things look like they hurt. Call out for help when your arm is falling off like any normal person would. Kidding on you’re robocop and no selling a steel chair to the skull isn’t the right way to do it. Were aw flesh and bones. Act like it.

Jester9“One of my favourite photos is of him (Funk) all cut up, barbed wire bat in his hand, his t-shirt all torn and hanging off and you look at that and go ‘thats scary as fuck’ . Leatherface is MEANT to be scary, but he’s no. It’s no real. Terry’s just a mental case and that IS scary. He comes across as a legit nutjob. These two guys just went out there for each other, and tried to create a memory. There wasn’t a lot of folk there but the potential for folk to see it down the line was massive. I do get disheartened at times with hardcore wrestling now and I feel I probably got away from it at the right time. You’ve got feuds like myself and Mikey (Whiplash) that I hold in high regard. Its been 7 years since our first match in ICW. I’ve known Mikey for years. Since travelling with all-star. We travelled together for years, and I fuckin hated him. I really didn’t like him. Because he was an arsehole *laughs* he was. Mikey’s one of my best pals now, and by the time that we had worked for ICW, we realised we had a lot of stuff in common, and it felt daft. How did we manage to travel together for so long and be in the same company and all that not once realise we were the same person almost? *laughs*. It was like…we’re just different folk. Mikey had been in this bubble for so long back then, so he had his pals and that was that. I was young and just wanted an easy life so I shut my mouth and got on with it.”

Jester vs Whiplash – Becoming ICW Champion

Despite the rocky start to their relationship the pair became synonymous with each from the moment Whiplash stepped through the door. Kindred spirits who went on to become good pals whilst maiming each other on a semi regular basis. A unique and altogether sare relationship but one that saw a formidable bond happen in the process as they started to notice their similarities. Similarities that led to a chemistry in the ring that produced some of the best matches ICW have ever had. Even if their first match took place in not so ideal circumstances that almost forced them into straight up battering fuck out each other. Leading to a rivalry that was as much about winning wrestling matches as it was just managing to survive them.

JestWhip “Mikey debuted his transvestite character in his first match. This wasn’t announced at all. Everyone was expecting this tights and boots wrestler, folk were in shock. He had like a black shiny raincoat on, and he came out with this pink balloon he just found in the venue on the day. We broke the ring almost instantly. I hit him with a bulldog and the beam snapped *laughs*. We were second last on so that’s how the first ICW Street Fight came about, because the ring was broke. That’s when you had Wolfgang throwing folk into busses on the street and all that. Me and Mikey kinda winged it, that was the first time I’d ever had my arm attacked. Lolly had turned on me at this point and she was holding my arm while he carved it. Me and Mikey always had a mutual sorta goal for this kind of match, lets build it around 2 or 3 big moments, but don’t do it until we know the timing is right. If the timing is never right, and it never feels right, just don’t do it. There’s no point in throwing stuff away. Say I’m going to take a Finlay Roll into a barbed wire board. If we’ve not got them (the crowd) at that point? Just dont bring the board out. Because I’m no taking it just because we’ve spoke about it beforehand if its not right. There’s always wee things that we know are there if we need them. Me and Mikey were always good for pushing each other. We never put limits on it. It was always a case of doing it and seeing where it takes us, and when the crowd didn’t want to see me or him get hit again that’s when we’d stop. You have to take to the limit to know what the limit is.”

They formed a trust based on pushing each other to the limit physically and producing matches that were not for the squeamish. But it wasn’t blood and guts for the sake of it. It was two guys who managed weave a story that spanned more than two years, the final chapter being written with Jester taking the title from Whiplash at Fear and Loathing in 2013. Captivating the ABC in a blood soaked contest that saw Jester complete an arduous journey to the top of the company he had invested so much of his career in.

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“We built that understanding up over the course of the matches we had, and the thing is, he always beat me, always won, right up until the culmination at Fear and Loathing in the ABC where I won the belt from him. I knew by that point the time was right. Dallas had told me on a few occasions “I’m going to put the belt on you” and as often happens in wrestling, plans would change, and I was ok with that, you don’t need to give me a date that it’s happening you know what I mean? if you do that and it doesn’t happen then I’ve been working towards nothing. When its right, its right. That’s how wrestling is. People don’t really see that sometimes. Plans change. Things change. You have to roll with the punches. People who moan about having opportunities dangled in front of them then taken away? Cry me a river. If the opportunities come your way, make sure you take them, and if they don’t? Shut up. You’re not entitled to anything. Earn it.”

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“That match got out of hand quick. Mikey really dragged me through that. I was gone. He gave me just the right amount of time to recover and catch my breath, because I was starting to pass out from the blood loss. I still don’t know how it happened, I can only assume there was a can or something sharp on the table he flung me on to, but I’ve never felt anything like it. I could just feel it running. It had taken us so much time to get there and at that point I’m thinking I’m not going to make it through this.”

But he did. Thanks in no small part to the guy he was in there with. There’s few who could have handled the situation the way Whiplash did and instead of the match being a struggle, it became an iconic moment in the history of ICW and Jack Jesters career. With his auld man watching for the first time in his career, Jack Jester was the man. This was his time to lead the company forward at a vital time in its growth and the moment might not have been so special had it not been for Whiplash pulling Jester to the epic conclusion the match had that made the moment what it was.

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“There’s not many folk who could remain calm in that situation and push me to get to the end, so the stars aligned with me being in there with Mikey. The temptation was there to just take it home and end it early, but if he had done that, it wouldn’t have been the moment that it was. He made me get to the end. That’s one of the biggest reactions I remember because it wasn’t even like a wrestling “pop”. It was people who’d seen the journey to get to that point thinking ‘Well in, you’ve done it’. Make them want about it. Make them care about it when it happens, because when you’re thrust into that situation before you’re ready for it, its brutal. Having the ICW Title is a lot of pressure. It made me ill eventually because I had it for so long. You’re on last every show. Pressure to go out and perform every time. I personally used to let the pressure fall on me because if the show wasn’t busy, in my eyes it was my fault. I know it isn’t actually like that, but I feel like if you don’t think like that, you’re not giving it enough.”

The years of investment in Whiplash and Jesters story is something that’s a bit of a lost art in wrestling these days. The involvement of the biggest prize in ICW came a wee bit down the line as Jester and Whiplash were the final two in ICW’s second ever Square Go match. Whiplash eliminating Jester and going on to take the title from Red Lightning before Jester finally got his shot 6 months down the line when ICW sold out the ABC in their second time running the 1,000+ capacity venue.

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“People were invested in that story for such a long time and it doesn’t happen anymore. Folk want everything to happen fast. They want to win this, win that, in the shortest amount of time possible. No one cares if you’re just winning everything. Its little more than an ego trip if that’s all you do. Mick Foley wasn’t a big ‘winner’. He was a guy who made you care. He went in there and burst his arse. When he did win, people were overjoyed. They were happy for him as a person. People backstage were genuinely happy when he won his WWE Titles. The locker room just emptied and you had him up on DXs shoulders and all that. Everyone was just happy for him”

When the adrenaline from winning the title eventually wore off Jack Jester the ICW Champion, became Lee needin his bed. Almost bleeding out on the ABCs floor is draining business but being the man comes with sacrifices. The sacrifice at that particular time was a lot of sleep and probably a few stitches in favour of a tried and tested home remedy and well….booze. A lot of booze.

“We were filming for Insane Fight Club at that time, and I remember after it we had to film the afterparty. I was half deid and Dallas tells me this. I’m thinking I need to go to the hospital, and he’s thinking ‘you dont need to go to the hospital, you need to go the Cathouse’ *laughs* so I remember being in the Cathouse, and I’d used my old trick where I’d put hairspray on the cut so it would conjeal, then put a bandana on it, and deal with it in the morning *laughs*. I remember being at the Cathouse bar. Falling asleep. Dallas giving me a wee elbow lit ‘cmon champ”

The Jester and The Homicidal, Suicidal, Death Defying mad bastard

One of the defining moments of Jesters title run came when a show ICW had announced in Edinburgh suddenly became the biggest crowd they had performed in front of to this date. Dave’s Not Here Man was initially supposed to be at ICWs usual smaller venue but rapid ticket sales when Sabu vs Jack Jester was announced meant a switch to the 1,100 capacity Picture House. A show that also saw a huge match at the opposite end of the wrestling spectrum when Grado wrestled Colt Cabana.

sabu_jack_jester_3“I wrestled Sabu that show and Grado wrestled Colt. That show was meant to be in Studio 24 actually but as soon as we announced me and Sabu, it sold out in 4 minutes or something, so we had to find a bigger venue for it. This is a long time in advance. To go from that size of venue to selling out something 1,200 capacity was a dream. Sabu was still this mythical guy. I’ll never ever get bored of Sabu. I’ll never not get a buzz from the fact that Sabu’s my pal *laughs* people don’t understand it because I’ve worked with him so often but it’s just surreal to me. I watched him and Cactus Jack wrecking casinos together in ECW, so to get the chance to pick his brains and spend time with him will never not be cool to me. ”

That match had the top billing at ICWs first ever four figure crowd and had the added stress of one half of the match being held up at the airport and not arriving until the second last match had started. Giving them just enough time for a quick handshake and exchange of pleasantries before one half of the match snapped a coathanger in half and tucked the sharp end on his boot. For future use in some sort of gouging incident over the course of a mental 20 minutes or so at the end of a landmark night for the company.

“I’d never met the guy and we heard he’d been held up at the airport. I already wasn’t in the best nick, I’d been out the night before and I fucked it. It was stressful as fuck. Matches go by and it gets to the one before we’re meant to go out. He’s still not there. Panic. He finally showed up, so I introduce myself and we really had no time to get any kind of plan in place. It was a case of me saying “I know what you do, this is what I do, lets wing it” kind of thing, and despite booking Sabu, Dallas didnae think to bring chairs *laughs* so the only chair we had is this bright pink folding chair that was all broke and just like normal catering chairs. The last thing I remember is him snapping a wooden coathanger, putting the spike in his boot, and saying “I’ll see you out there” and I’m thinking “fuck”. The whole time I know its in there, but he didn’t know I knew, so I’m just wondering when he’s going to pull this thing out. At that time he was one of my heroes and I wasn’t all that comfortable maiming him with the corkscrew but knowing him a bit better now, I definitely wouldn’t hold back *laughs* One of the coolest things and no one thought he was there. The rumours were swirling about that he wasn’t there. People used to say he’d always no show and they assumed that had happened, then suddenly the drums for his music hit, and this unbelievable noise comes out. Even I was reacting. It was one of those moments where you’re just in awe”

A genuine appreciation for how Sabu remained dedicated to his character after years of putting his body through agony to gain his reputation in the first place stayed with Jester after that match. For better or for worse, he’s a mad bastard. He is homicidal, suicidal, and even with a burst hip he still defies death in a variety of ways. He lives it and even if his particular brand of wrestling isn’t for you, its hard not to respect someone who wants to give folk their moneys worth no matter what. If you pay for a ticket to see Sabu, you’ll get Sabu.

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“He always had that air of legitimacy about him as a genuine madman. When I worked him again at the ABC he’d been absolute doing me with my spike and all sorts. So I rolled out the ring for a break, and I don’t know where he got it from, but the next thing I know he’s standing over me with a massive ladder above his heid *laugh* I’m thinking, he’s pulled that out his arse or something. I swear he can sniff out tables. Honestly. I’ve wrestled him before and I’ve hid tables around the ring. So he can’t find them. Some nights its just not something you’re keen on, and if its like a pasting table, I won’t do it. I think it looks stupid. This promoter had a pasting table and I thought “nut, Its no happening” but I knew if he knew it was there he would use it, so I hid it. Of course he fuckin found it *laughs* set it up, and there it was. Sabu was so good at selling. He was always asking for help and holding his neck or his head. It all looked real. He learned from being around guys like Terry Funk and Foley when they were at their best. He basically took Cactus Jack and added acrobatics to it. He was fearless, and he lives up to his billing. I wrestled him and he’d separated his shoulder and broke his collarbone the night before and we’re telling him in the back he doesn’t need to do this. We can play it safer. He’s adamant that’s not how its going to happen. “People have paid to see Sabu” its hard not admire that. You do get folk who show up and they clearly can’t be arsed. People who don’t really do dangerous stuff and still come and half arse it, yet Sabu had the option of just not doing that and refused it. He’s a real enigma. A proper character and an absolute maniac.”

What is wrestling without folk like that? Your mad uncles that might ruin your birthday party but will always have the best stories whenever you can get 5 minutes of cohesive sentences out of them. That first match and their subsequent meetings have made them more than just guys that are pleasant to each other out of necessity. Jack Jester and Sabu are actual pals, two folk who come from such different backgrounds and have gone down two entirely different paths to get where they are in wrestling, somehow being drawn to one and other anytime they’re in the same country. If that doesn’t sum up the mad alternate universe the wrestling scene exists on, nothing will.

Part Two will be up tonight. I wanted to do it in one part but it was gonnae be heavy long so this means you’ll no get a sore arse sitting reading it in the one go. Don’t say I’m no good to yees. 

Thank you to David J.Wilson, who actually dug through his photos for some of the older shots. Very kind of him. Also thank you to Warrior Fight Photography. Thanks for all the photies guys. Your work is heavy appreciated. 

 

ICW Shugs House Party 5 – Night One Review

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The 5th instalment of the Shugs series could potentially have been a let down. Key players missing with a big match unable to take place as a result, the venue having to be changed due to a fire wrecking the usual place, things were conspiring against them a bit. The potential was there for it to not live up to expectations and yet it turned out to be two very different, but equally excellent shows. For me ICW are a company who thrive when the chips are down. Finding solutions to problems and making them work. Sometimes even better than whatever the original plan was. For me, the wrestling show that happened on Night One is one of the most complete shows ICW have produced. Every possible style of wrestling you could call yourself a fan of was on display. Big time rivalries were settled. One off matches dazzled. Imports meshed perfectly with mainstays to make magic. It was just a really good wrestling show. From top to bottom.

Kid Fite vs Ravie Davie (Winner faces James Storm in Night Two)

Big fan of the basis of this rivalry being Fito wanting to establish himself as the king of ICW’s scheme division. Sick and tired of this upstart getting opportunities ahead of him, he decided the best way to establish himself as the king was the old-fashioned way, by slapping someone aboot. He smashed fuck out the young pretender at the last ICW show and cut a vicious promo vowing to steal his big match with James Storm on night two. Davie has a habit of making folk really fuckin annoyed at him eh? They are invariably mean looking cunts who look like they can chew tobacco without pulling that “aw man this is heavy boggin” face anaw. True hard men who can fuckin fight. Davie came out all guns blazing for this one though. Taking out Lou King Sharp and Krieger with a mad double drop kick on the ramp before setting out to take his revenge on someone who literally cut a promo while sitting on his heid at the last show. There was a chair between Fito’s arse and Davie’s heid like, but still. If you respect someone so little that you don’t hesitate to plant the chair you’re about to sit on right on their napper, its bound to make that person a wee bit angry.

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Kid Fite started the match strong. Taking advantage of Lou King Sharp and Kriegers distractions to back rake and forearm Davie until he was seeing wee birdies floating above his heid. Davie rallied and hit the blockbuster that everyone remembers so fondly from the time he hit it from the balcony of The Garage. A cracking move, but not as cracking as folk literally crackin each others jaws in a good old forearm war. They wailed on each other for a while, teeth flying all over the shop before Kid Fite hit the brainbuster for a two. A perfect sitout powerbomb didn’t do it either and an increasingly raging Kid Fite wasn’t having it anymore. It was time to drop all pretence that this was ever one on one. After all, Kid Fite wanted to be somewhat fresh for his big match with the big import on Night Two so it was time to wrap this up. In came Lou King Sharp and Krieger to deliver the team handed beatdown Kid Fite needed to get the job done a bit earlier. It was all going to plan….UNTIL IT WISNAE

A revved up figure emerged. A mysterious trackied man. Probably Davie’s cousin Zander but also maybe no Davie’s cousin Zander. With the greatest of respects to Zander, the hooded figure hit a T-bone Suplex so picture perfect that only a handful of folk in Scotland could be responsible for it. One of those people was someone we hadn’t seen for a while. Someone with a bit of history with Kid Fite. Surely……surely no….surely its no fuckin….is it? YASSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

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The scarf came down and the trackie tap was removed to reveal LIAM THOMSON. Back from a long injury lay off. One that could have potentially ended his career but on this evidence it most certainly has not. There he was. Back in an ICW ring chucking folk about with reckless abandon. Kid Fite, Lou King Sharp and Krieger are three of my favourite folk in Scottish wrestling. The fact that the latter two weren’t involved in a match on this weekender was some sort of crime. But I couldnt have been happier to see them get chucked aboot on this occasion. Well Thomson actually didn’t directly hit Kid Fite which im sure was quite deliberate but the suicide dive that followed the t-bone suplex’in goodness on Lou King Sharp and Krieger tells its own story and that story reads “LIAM THOMSON IS BACK. FUCKIN YALDI!”

With Kid Fite’s hauners handled by Liam Thomson and Fito himself left dazed and confused by the whole thing, Davie sneakied in and won the match with a roll up to leave Fito stunned.

Davie gets his big match and his chance at revenge over James Storm on Night Two after a much needed assist from the bad boy. He joined Liam in saluting the crowd before leaving him to soak in the adulation on his own. Considering all the massive things that happened over the course of the two shows, it’s a big compliment to Liam that this was up there with Grado’s return in terms of the noise the crowd produced when it happened. An absolute pleasure to have the bold yin back in action. 

Lewis Girvan vs The Sam Barbour Experience

Sam Barbour is good at wrestling. Watched him absolutely kill it at the first GPWA Invitational and have wondered why he isn’t involved in more promotions since then. This was a huge opportunity to impress but he was in there with a guy who carries himself with so much more swagger these days. Lewis Girvan has always been a very good wrestler but its like any self-doubt he carried with him evaporated the minute he aligned himself with The Filthy Generation. Whatever may have been stopping him going to the very top of the card despite scarcely having anything even approaching a bad match and stealing the show at the Hydro 2 years ago against Ricochet (wonder what happened to that guy eh) is most certainly gone now. He’s one of the main men and folk forget when reminiscing about DCT and Stevie going from the main event of Spacebaws to the main event of the big show for the big belt, that one of those main events had a third man and that man was Lewis Girvan. In ICW for a long time he’s been seen as the reliable guy. A guy who always turns in a good match. A good soldier and a fine member of the roster and see now? He seems like a guy who could not give a fuck about those things. Fuck it all. Low blow some cunts, tombstone their brains out with yer best pal, have a right good laugh and be done with it. That’s the kind of attitude that gets ye belts. Beautiful, shiny belts.

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It was of course a very good match. Sam looking good early on, only for Lewis to completely sidestep a crossbody attempt as if it never happened. They nailed each other with a bunch of forearms before Barbour took Lewis out to the apron and kicked his chest repeatedly, a bit like that chest beating thing Sheamus used to do a lot, except y’know…..with kicks. Girvan hit that rolling neckbreaker he does where he leaps into the ring from the outside first. Lovely to watch. Top 5 neckbreaker of all time. A tombstone followed, but I particularly enjoyed the setup where he had him set up for a scoprion death drop only to scoop him for the tombstone. SBX came back into it but missed the mark with a moonsault and Girvan produced a mad suplex combo to seal the win (may be calling it that because I’ve no idea what the final suplex was called, it was very suplexy though)

Girvan’s tag partner Aspen Faith had provided commentary for the match and jumped in the ring to enjoy his pal’s victory with him. Girvan offered SBX his hand as a mark of respect. Instead of shaking it, Barbour took it as an invitation to dance, ordered the sound booth to play Reach by S Club 7, and the foes become friends through the power of dance to upbeat 90s pop. Majestically swaying around the ring while Aspen Faith looked on, confused about his role in the whole affair. Except none of that actually happened and The Kings Of Catch of course battered Sam. Apter Burner then a low blow after ANOTHER offer of a handshake that Barbour somehow thought was genuine. They’re scallywags yer Kings Of Catch but they do it well and have a vicious side to accompany their scallyness that makes them very good to watch. Won’t be out of the tag title picture for long, thats for true.

Mikey Whiplash vs Angelico 

Match of the weekend for me in a lot of ways. It didn’t have all sorts of crowd pleasing big time “spots” but it had people absolutely lost in it for 10-15 minutes. I certainly was as they opened the match with a series of holds with neither man managing to gain the upper hand. I could type all sorts about this one but really, no words will be able to do it justice so get it watched. Angelico had Whiplash tied in all sorts of knots only for Whiplash to wriggle out of it with a headstand before doing that corner pose that wrestlers do sometimes and shooting Angelico a look that was half “look at me, im pure good at wrestling” and half “lets have sex” I mean honestly, not to weigh a wrestling review down with smut, but Angelico is a good looking man. I say that as a man with a burd and everything. The only thing better looking than his face is his wrestling.

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They exchanged near falls before Whiplash bent Angelico’s wrist so much it became several wrists all going in different directions. A wrist medley. Angelico went for his finisher only Whiplash to reverse it. Angelico locked in the reverse figure four he utilises, but Whiplash got free. They leathered each other with forearms, uppercuts, before Whiplash cleaned Angelico out with that clothesline he does when he rebounds off the middle rope. A zombiemaker (death valley driver) followed for a two count, but his attempt to do that same move from the top rope was reversed and Angelico hit The Falling Angel (think a running Razor’s Edge that ends with the opponent being launched heid first at the turnbuckles) to take the win. A brilliant contest and an outstanding showing from Angelico on his debut. Hope to see a lot more of him in ICW. 

Whiplash took to the mic afterwards and it seemed like it was over. He slowly untied his boots as he told the crowd maybe it was time for him to move aside. Maybe he just can’t keep up with the young yins anymore. Aivil emerged to pretty much tell him to shut it. She told him to remember who he truly is. The sadistic fucker who tormented Renfrew. The sadistic fucker who took and also dished out unimaginable pain during that run of death matches he had. The sadistic fucker who still has a lot left in the tank. Not only did Aivil’s words make Whiplash put his boots back on, but he also put the mask back on that has become synonymous with Legion and his darker side. Maybe a sign that he’s no longer accepting Mark Dallas’ ban on him doing anything but straight up wrestling matches and we could see that sadistic fucker re-emerge once more. As if he was ever gone. 

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Joe Hendry vs Chris Renfrew – Glasgow Street Fight 

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No gonnae lie, I loved this. It reminded me of an Attitude Era (bring it back! amiright?!) hardcore match and that is a huge compliment. As much as Hendry has built his character around hating this type of thing by god he isn’t half good at it. Done it very well with Lionheart to end that feud and this was outstanding entertainment to probably end this particular feud as well. Renfrew came out all guns blazing, chucking a chair at Hendrys face soon after he had made his music free entrance. One less new theme to get used to it might have been but his entrance being without the music that helped launch him to stardom was no accident. He wasn’t here to engage in mental warfare with the tunes. He was here to engage in actual warfare with his fists….perhaps a samurai sword. Who knows. That’s the beauty of the Glasgow Street Fight.

They chucked each other about at the bar, scudding each other with wee metal baking trays before Renfrew chucked Joe through a door that took them outside. They battled all the way along to the wee spar down the road, where Renfrew bought them a tin of monster each, before challenging Hendry to a footrace to The Garage where they completed the match Foley vs Rock style. Empty arena baybeeee. Nah that didn’t happen at all but it COULD have. The possibilities are endless in a Glasgow street fight. They were actually only outside for about 30 seconds before continuing to battle around the outisde. Renfrew setting Joe up on a chair, only for Joe to end up dropping Renfrew with a side slam. They made their way to the merch table and Joe balanced another table against the merch table and after a wee battle for supremacy, he eventually launched Renfrew through said table. Quite painfully.

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They eventually made it back to the ring where Renfrew gained the upper hand. Planting Joe with a Death Valley Driver before calling on an old friend for a bit of support. It was none of auld NAK squad, not even new pal Kieran Kelly (yet) but instead it was a pair of scissors. The scissors that have become synonymous with demon Renfrew. The scissors that could end the match and the life of one of the folk in it. Leyton Buzzard was on hand to grab the deadly sheep shearers as Renfrew wielded them towards Joe’s dome. Joe hit the fallaway slam and Leyton decided that made it safe enough for him to jump in and stomp Renfrew out. Their team handed assault was brief as Kieran Kelly did finally emerge to provide some timely back up. Hitting a stunner (its only a stoner if Renfrew hits it I think but I dunno if Kelly can call it that through association, ask yer MP if it bothers ye that much ffs, trying to review the wrestling here) before Buzzard was quickly made to regret his previous intervention as Renfrew hit him with a sitout powerbomb off the top rope to pretty much end his participation in this one and perhaps his participation in being a person who is capable of standing up.

After all the commotion Joe gained the upper hand again, locking in that choke that he vowed could end Renfrews life if he locked it in properly. Renfrew broke the hold and hit a top rope stoner for a two count,  but was hit with an extremely uncouth low blow by Hendry. Matches with no rules bring that devil right out of him, and he chased it with two fallaway slams before they both had a wee shot of each other’s finisher. Hendry hitting a stunner that Renfrew immediately leapt up after to hit the freak of nature. It looked like Renfrew had it with the Stoner soon after but Leyton Buzzard rose from the dead to break the pin only to be quickly removed by Renfrew, before being on the sare end of a suicide dive from Kieran Kelly.

Renfrew found himself in deep trouble soon after. Hendry had his ankle lock welded in. Seemed like he was genuinely right on the cusp of twisting Renfrew’s foot clean off his body and using it to beat him to death to win the match if he wasn’t going to tap. Renfrew held on and gave Hendry the middle finger of defiance that was also the last thing Big Damo seen before becoming ICW Champion. Hendry locked it in even tighter and the pain was too much. Renfrew fully passed out and Hendry took the win. 

What a transition its been from the guy with the funny custom entrance music to a guy vicious enough to topple folk like Lionheart and Renfrew in hardcore matches. As entertaining as the entrance videos were, the best version of Hendry for me is this vicious bastard. Dead set on eviscerating anyone who dares to cross his path. Renfrew told him he had earned his respect after that war and I’m sure Joe appreciated that, but respect isn’t main events. Respects isn’t titles, the heavyweight and the Zero-G. Respect isn’t some sort of gift (christmas gift). Respect in the grand scheme of things means little to Joe because his goal is to get to the very top and he must feel like now is the time. 

The Kinky Party vs Alpha/Evil (Bram and Iestyn Rees) – ICW Tag Title Match

This kinda came from nowhere to be one of the highlights of the weekend which is a testament to all involved. Could easily have just went through the motions, kept it in the ring and got pass marks but they didn’t. They put their bodies on the line and went all out and you have to respect the fuck out of that. Guy’s the size of Bram and Sha Samuels going for death-defying dives that Jeff Hardy would baulk at. Blood pouring from Jack Jester’s face from about 30 seconds in. Iestyn daring to pull Martina off Sha Samuels mid grind. They all put their lives on the line in some way, shape or form and it made for a smashing tag title match. For me the best match The Kinky Party have had as champions and even up there with their match with Polo Promotions before they got the titles.

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Sha and Iestyn quickly moved their battle to the outside, leaving Jester to pull out the corkscrew with intentions to maim. It was him who ended up maimed however, as he was wearing the auld crimson mask very early on thanks to Bram. Tell ye whit, I defy anyone to look at Bram’s body of work in ICW in the past couple of years and tell me he isn’t a good wrestler. He is as good a villain as independent wrestling has right now. Him and Iestyn have no redeeming features. No cool guy shit that makes folk cheer. They’re just a pair of big bad dudes who smash folk and it works. Jester hit Bram with a baseball slide before Iestyn joined the party with the worlds biggest suicide dive. The Kinky Party hit the Teamstone Paldriver but the pin was broken up. Nae way this was ending yet.

They ended up back outside with Iestyn set up on a table below. Sha decided to go, for the lack of a better term “fuckin mental” and attem1SHP-KPAvBrIept a moonsault from about 30 feet in the air but Bram blocked it, causing Sha to take a heavy fall as he came off the platform he had climbed on a bit awkwardly. Even when this match wasn’t intentionally brutal it was still incredibly sore looking. Bram then climbed on that very same platform and thanks to some help from Martina, Iestyn had ended up putting Jester on the table, for Bram to hit with a glorious Swanton through the table. Definitely killing both of them in the process. What a move.

After taking about 5 seconds to mourn the death of their respective tag partners. Iestyn and Sha decided life goes on and continued the match in the ring. A seemingly burst Sha rallied after avoiding Iestyns spear. Hitting out with some definat jabs and splash in the corner but Bram soon resurfaced. We’ll call him Zombie Bram from this point on since that Swanton killed everyone involved in it. Zombie Bram hit that big spike ddt he does, before Sha took a Bronco Buster from Martina that felt like it lasted a good half hour before Iestyn peeled her off. His tolerance for shenanigans had been exceeded and it was time to win some tag belts. Iestyn hit a powerbomb which Sha brushed off Hulk Hogan style, drawing the energy from the crowd, ready for the next assault. Iestyn hit his finisher after that but Sha still kicked out and they decided, perhaps foolishly, that he was no longer the best bet for the finish. Dragging Jester’s deid body into the ring was probably a smart plan when they thought of it. Its easier to pin a deid guy than an alive one, but what if he was playing possum? What if he had already become a zombie like Bram?

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They played a dangerous game and unfortunately for them, they lost. Iestyn took Jester up for the Doomsday Device and as Bram went up top to complete the job, Sha knocked him off the top, and Zombie Jester rolled Iestyn up for The Kinky Party to retain. 

Hard hitting chaos from start to finish. If you can watch this and say it wasn’t entertaining then you and I see wrestling quite differently. Big guys doing shit big guys shouldn’t be able to do. Leaving it all out there for your entertainment. Heavy good shit. A highlight of the weekend and another excellent title defence from Sha and Jester. Kinky Party 4 lyf.

BT Gunn vs Walter

A dream match for many and that just shows how highly BT Gunn is thought of in the European scene. Its been a great year or so for him and he’s finally getting some of the wider recognition his work has deserved for a long long time. Walter is arguably the biggest star stoating about the “indies” right now and BT Gunn didn’t look out of place for a second. Matching Walter’s chest melting chops every time…in fact naw, Walter matched BT Gunn’s chest melting chops. BT Gunn is the original chest melter and as good as Walter is at chopping he knew he had met his match as soon as BT landed one. He made that “fuck sake that was sare!” face that many an unsuspecting opponent has made when BT first lands a chop on them. Learning the hard way. The extremely hard way.

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The early stages was mostly mind melting striking from both. BT fighting hard to stop his much bigger opponent getting him down and dominating. At times it felt like the a plucky wee scrapper having a pop at the school bully. The big man seemed like he always felt he had it in hand, but its hard to be that confident when you’re getting all sorts of chops, punches to the gut and kicks to the heid flung in your direction. BT left a noticeable hand print on big Watty that will likely be a permanent fixture on his chest from here on out. He recovered from that to catch BT coming off the top, turning him over into a Boston Crab. BT escaped that before he managed to take Walter down with a clothesline off the ropes before series of stiff kicks took the big man into the corner. It seemed that every time BT took the upper hand, the big man floored him with something. He locked in the coquina clutch before turning it in to a German Suplex that took BT Gunn down. For being built like a brick shithouse, Walter is well versed in the submission game and he had BT in trouble with an STF but once again he somehow escaped with all his limbs in tact.

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A superkick followed by the Gunnshot gave BT a near fall and it looked like he was heading for the win. He had the big man rattled anyway, only for the Austrian powerhouse to turn the match back in his favour with a thunderous chop followed by a Brainbuster. Following that by once again locking in that coquina clutch only for BT to roll him over for a quick three count. What a win for BT Gunn. Considering the status of Walter and the ability he has it felt monumental. It was something he should have been able to enjoy. Maybe go up the top rope and let the crowd give him the ovation he deserved. Kez Evans had other ideas. 

When Kez Evans appeared in the Square Go I ripped the piss out of him a bit in the review. Light heartedly of course. Its aw fun and games. But he’s proved in recent times he’s nae joke. Sick to death of seeing other GPWA trainees get chances and he gets ignored. This character definitely suits him because the frustration he spoke about when he simultaneously cut a promo and booted fuck out of BT Gunn is definitely real. He has at times felt like it wasn’t going to happen for him, so he’s going out and fuckin making it happen. He continued the beat down for a while, also admitting that he was the guy who attacked BT at the last show before disappearing to a chorus of boo’s. Ruining BT’s win over big Walter and getting booed out the building. A good nights work if you’re a bad yin. 

Jody Fleisch vs James Storm

This is what I really liked about this show. Matches like this turning out great. A match with no build between two guys who on paper maybe wouldn’t mesh well together, yet they went out and smashed it. Jody Fleisch is seemingly incapable of anything else. Since he appeared at this event last year he has been used regularly by ICW and is yet to produce anything but good shit. This was another cracker. Storm was in nae mood to fuck about with a Texas Death Match looming the following night, but Jody Fleisch wasn’t in the mood to be an afterthought either.

Storm favours a more methodical pace these days but he knew fine well Jody Fleisch goes at full speed and he matched him in that regard early on, before Jody floored him with a pair of dropkicks. They made their way to the bar, Storm seemingly intent on smashing a whole crate of beer bottles over Jody’s napper, but the pheonix dodged his attacked before hitting a beauty of a moonsault off the bar. Is there anything he can’t moonsault off of? I’d like to see him try it on a surfboard or a sinking ship. Something that’s moving anyway. See how far that moonsaulting talent can go. Maybe campaign to get Harry Maguire  to a show so Jody can try and hit a moonsault off the top of his gigantic square dome.

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Storm proceeded to scud Fleisch with a full pint of cider he commandeered from someone in the front row. Never even asked if he could have it either. A true villain cause its 4 quid a pint in the 02 at the very least. Folk intending to drink in the venue on both days were selling their kidneys and taking out second mortgages to afford it. Back in the ring they battled up top before Storm chucked Jody halfway across the ring. Jody replied with a beautiful hurricanrana off the top, only for storm to hit back with an Alabama slam and a big lariat for a two count. Jody hit a gorgeous Spanish Fly soon after, never actually sure who’s ‘hit’ that move when it happens as it seems to be equally sore on both men but its lovely to watch so it is. Just a couple of veterans from opposite sides of the world, in the middle of Glasgow, having a belter of a match. Wrestling is beautifully odd sometimes.

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Fleisch went up for the Shooting Star Press to put this one away, but Storm swerved it before hitting the Last Call then knocking Jody upside the head with a cow bell to make sure of the win. 

Storm took to the mic and acknowledged how good Jody is, but highlighting that as good he is, he still got his arse booted. The same would be happening to Ravie Davie, or Davie Ravie, or whatever the hell his name is. Davie didn’t take too kindly to Storm not getting his name right and emerged from the back with a mic of his own, immediately calling him “Stormy James” before vowing to kick the death match off a night early as he stormed the ring for a scrap. James Storm was fit for it though, catching Davie as he came in the ring and laying him out once more before vowing to finish the job the following night. 

Kay Lee Ray And The Great Big Ruse

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Kay Lee Ray came out to her brand new music have a chat. I quite like The Filthy Generations new theme. Its in the same vein as the previous one and has that menacing feel to it that makes you feel like the person coming out to it is about to batter fuck out some folk, but I’d like to take this opportunity to commemorate the death of the greatest entrance music in ICW history. The auld Filthy Generation theme was so bangin’ I listened to it so much outwith wrestling shows that my burd fuckin hates it. Such a tune that even people who hated Stevie and KLR used to dance to it while holding up the middle fingers. Music patter aside Kay Lee Ray was out to bemoan the lack of a womens match to challenge Viper. Viper emerged and they exchanged words but it was all in the name of the ruse. Out came The Kings Of Catch to attack Viper, as Kay Lee knocked her daft with a belt shot to the head, before the Kings set Viper up for the Apter Burner, leading DCT with Coach Trip in tow to provide husbandly hauners and to prevent his wife going in to her title defence the next night with a concussion.

It was all a big ruse. A play for the upper hand, as Stevie came out and nailed DCT with a low blow as he set Kay Lee up for the spike DDT. He hit the destroyer before standing over DCT triumphantly. Belt in hand. A belt he would put his life on the line to keep in his possesion . They’re dirty bastards. They make a living off it, and Stevie isn’t giving up that title without utilising every trick in the book. Giving his opponent a scheme bootin a night before they main event the biggest show of their lives together is exactly what Stevie is all about. The best in the business at being a bastard. The filthiest player in the game.

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Lionheart vs Just Justice Jackie Polo

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The term “big fight feel” gets chucked about haphazardly sometimes. For this it fitted what was about to happen perfectly. It deserved the main event and absolutely lived up to that spot. Lionheart needed it. Simple as that. He unravelled because a part of him doubted that he could beat Jackie after Barramania, so he avoided ever wrestling him again instead. Locked that pain away and tanned rapid whiskies instead. A slap from Sha Samuels seemed to kick him back into gear. It made him believe. He wanted the match and signed on the dotted line eventually. Only problem is, Jackie Polo dies not give a fuck about fairytales or what his opponent needs. Deep down underneath that deeply southern exterior he still fuckin hates Lionheart with a burning passion and he definitely wanted to break his spirit once and for all. He wanted to make it 3-0. No coming back. Career in the toilet. Ruined.

They kicked it off head to head. At odds with each other like they have been for what seems like forever. True enemies. Vicious jabs were exchanged, Polo getting the upper the hand and taking Lionheart down with a series of shoulderblocks. The first scoop of the match followed. Polo in his comfort zone. Knowing he has the beating of his opponent if he keeps the heid. He hit a double axe handle off the apron as Lionheart struggled on the outside before rolling back in to raise his fist towards the crowd Mark Coffey style. Perhaps not the time for it, but he gave off a vibe that said he had this in the bag and was going about his work like he had it all in hand. Not a problem. Lionheart tried to climb back in but Polo hit a lovely dropkick to send him back outside. In control.

He rolled outside to meet Lionheart and had a weird moment with someone in the crowd. I really don’t know what these cunts are thinking when they square up to wrestlers. Its a show and they are performers, unless they legit start shit with you there is nae reason to let your emotions spill over. It will not end well and you’ll either end up knocked out by a big burly bastard in a singlet or carried out the building. Usually both. The big walloper in the crowd was told to calm it before Lionheart acrobatically dodged an attempt by Polo to send him towards the ringpost. That led to Lionheart putting his stamp on the contest and he soon has Polo locked in a sharpshooter before he valiantly made it to the bottom rope. Polo does a jab then chop combo and its one of my favourite things to watch in wrestling, simple, well executed, good shit. He never invented jabs or chops but he does them in a unique way somehow. Lionheart dodged a splash in the corner and hit that big pump kick in the corner (he should defo call it the “get it pumped” kick imo) followed by the rock bottom for a two count. Back and forth. Lionheart fighting for his wrestling life. Compelling viewing.

Lionheart reneged on hitting the frog splash and instead rolled out the ring seemingly on the lookout for a weapon. That weapon was most likely the Polo mallet, and he thought he could gain the upper hand by utilising it first, but the problem was he went to the wrong side of the ring and over on the other side Polo had already grasped the mallet. Ready to pounce. Lionheart dodged a wild swing from Polo before they played a wee game of cat and mouse. Lionheart’s anxiety was palpable, knowing how vital that mallet has been in his previous defeats. He wanted it out the picture or in his hands, because it Jackies hands? It meant danger. It meant defeat. Jackie chucked it in the ring and they both went after it but neither man could get a good grip on it. Jackie tried to put Lionheart away with the electric chair drop that won him the match at the Barras but Lionheart reversed it into a hurricanrana, before hitting a huge dive over the top rope on to the ramp.

They battled on the ramp a bit. Polo having a piledriver attempt blocked, before he blocked Lionhearts rock bottom attempt, nailing the move himself. Lionheart hit that very same move on the ramp at the Barras so thats some lovely storytelling. Both men very aware of what’s done them damage in the matches before and trying to avoid those things. Lionheart going for the mallet. Polo hitting the rock bottom. Beautifully done. Polo hit the electric chair drop on the second attempt but this time it was only a two. Lionheart wasn’t done yet. This wasn’t just a match to him. Another chapter in this rivalry. This was pretty much his career on the line and it showed. He was desperate and it brought the very best out of him. A version of himself that could beat Polo. If he just believed it himself.

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He hit a beauty of a frog splash soon after but Polo kicked out. As strong as Lionheart’s will was to win this one, you’re aff yer nut if you think Polo didn’t want it just as bad. The bragging rights that comes with being the man who pretty much buried Lionheart is something he definitely wanted and he was willing to do whatever it took to get it. Anything. He looked right into Lionhearts eyes after kicking out of the frog splash. Undoubtedly in pain but not willing to show it. He had something up his sleeve that he was sure would do the job. He crawled towards the mallet but Lionheart stood on it as if to say it wasn’t going to end that way. Not this time. Up he went once more for the electric chair drop, which Lionheart once again attempted to reverse only for Polo to counter that by setting him up for….is he…..oh my fuckin god…..

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The Styles Clash. Not just The Styles Clash, but a Styles Clash hit with unerring perfection. Absolutely nailed it. Right in the middle of that ring. Lionheart’s career once again was in deep jeopardy thanks to that move, only this time there was no tragic neck break. Everything happened exactly as it should have, and as is the norm with that move, it would surely end the match. In any other circumstance it would have, but Lionheart faced his biggest fear and fuckin conquered it. The move that has no doubt been a central piece in his nightmares for the better part of 4 years. Haunted by it. Why did I tuck? It didn’t matter anymore. Its rare that being on receiving end of a move can be a cathartic experience but that’s exactly what this was. He triumphantly kicked out at fuckin ONE. Not this time.

Superkick, big pump kick in the corner, another one for good measure, rock bottom, down went Polo. This time. Maybe this time it might just be different. Emphatic frog splash. A cover that was dripping with fear, dripping with emotion, maybe it would be three this time. It was. Lionheart had won. Somehow. Someway. He pulled it out the bad when he truly desperately needed to. A triumphant effort. A magnificent main event.

In terms of getting the crowd engaged and evoking real emotion there’s no better feud in British Wrestling than this one. Sha Samuels vs Grado is always brilliant and is up there with them, but this has the edge for me because it carries that edge that it’s a bit real. They really don’t like each other but on the evidence of the last two matches, they work incredibly well together. Lionheart got the big win he needed and wants it to propel him to bigger things but something tells me ol Just Justice doesn’t want this to end on a loss and this might not be the end. After all. The score overall still reads Jackie Polo 2 Lionheart 1. Lionheart was played out by his brilliant new music as he toasted a massive win. He’s won a watch with this whole revamp so he has. They’ve absolutely nailed his tune.

A topper of a show overall. For me one of the best ICW have ever produced. So much variety in the matches and everything was quality. No lulls. Cracker of a main event. I gie it 60 stars. A hunner and fifty Meltzer badges. 10 outta fuckin 10.

Massive thanks to David J Wilson as usual for some stunning shots. The Fleish moonsault and Bram swanton captured perfectly and the shot of that Styles Clash is just art. 

An Interview With Neil “The Wee Man” Bratchpiece

WMdWhen Neil “The Wee Man” Bratchpiece got involved in pro wrestling he was in the unusual position of already being recognisable for something else. A rare thing in wrestling generally and when it happens the person involved is often more interested in what wrestling can do for them than vice versa. As a lifelong fan of wrestling, Neil was never likely to fall into that bracket. We met in the bar of The Tron Theatre where Neil picked up a copy of “The List” that happened to have a drawing he’d done of Flight Of The Conchords in it along with a short quote from him. It wasn’t the first time his artistic skills had been on show, as he has made a yearly habit of somehow producing a drawing that has every single person on the ICW roster as part of it in the lead up to Fear and Loathing. A man of many talents indeed, one talent he does not possess however is being able to get chucked about a boxing ring without leaving the whole experience a very broken man, as he explained.

“My first involvement was I think in around 2010. I’d been to a show up at the Sports Bar on Sauchiehall Street. It wasnt ICW, it was like a pre Royal Rumble show they put on with some live wrestling. Off the back of that I made some enquiries about getting in to it. I knew Laura (formerly Lambrini in ICW) and I told her I was interested in gewummmtting involved in some way. From there I ended up training with Ross Watson (Kid Fite) at his old facility in East Kilbride. Me and my brother went and done a bit of training. A comedy promoter I knew had heard about that and was running a charity boxing night. He was trying to put together an undercard for this show, so he got in touch with me, knowing I was into the wrestling and asked if we could put together a match. So we put together a match where it was me and my brother against Fight Club. That was…eh *laughs* well we were chucked in at the deep end. They’re hard-hitting boys. I wouldn’t change that for the world of course. That’s the way it should be.”

When wrestling commentators gush about how the ring apron is the hardest part of the ring, imagine a ring made up entirely of ring apron, with a few ragged nails and a three-inch thick sheet of concrete on top. Then imagine every time you land face first on this surface, a swarm of bees appear from thin air and make a beeline for your right arse cheek. Each one stinging it at the exact same time. THAT’S how hard a boxing ring is. Kid Fite and Liam Thomson having the name “Fight Club” wasn’t some ironic thing either. They could fuckin fight.
“So not only was it in against them, it was also in a fucking boxing ring. I was the smallest in the match and also we were the heels so I was getting chucked aboot, sidewalk slams, snap suplexes and aw that. We brawled out to the bar and it had this stone cladding on the floor and he just snap suplexed me on to that. Nae holding back”

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“Every time I took a bump I thought I’d broke my ribs, but it’s just non stop. To the point where I literally crawled backstage after the finish. That wasn’t me putting it on at all. The ring was so hard even Ross said after taking maybe one or two moves on it “that ring was pretty hard eh” and I’m like “aye mate, a wee bit” I think Dallas got wind of that and got in touch about ICW from there”

His first ICW involvement wasn’t as the manager of champions. The term “Bucky Boys” didn’t even exist other than being the thing auld ladies said when they’re asked to describe the group of guys that just mugged her. Instead Neil was brought in to warm up the crowd a bit before getting his baws booted by Noam Dar and Rob Cage but it gained a level of interest that made Mark Dallas sit up and take notice and he was soon involved in the company on a more permanent basis “I actually rapped Renfrew’s ring entrance which was Shimmy Shimmy Ya by ODB. He had re-written the lyrics to make it more Glaswegian and gave me them but there was no chance I was learning it before show time so I done the original version. So I done a few things like that and got a bit of press off the back of it and I think at the time Dallas really appreciated that. Even at that stage Dallas was always thinking ahead. Telling us what venue we’d be running next and all that. At every stage I was like “Nah I’ll believe it when I see it” but I learned not to doubt him after a while when it kept coming true”

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From then on Neil was asked to link up with two up and coming wrestlers from the PBW Academy who would later be known as “Davey Boy” and “Stevie Boy” who joined forces to become “The Bucky Boys”. A team who would go on to have a huge hand in ICWs early development into one of the biggest and best independent companies in the UK. For Neil as much as their gimmick suited ICW perfectly at that time, how they meshed together ring was just as important as the catch phrases and the quality entrance music that gets ye jumping about like you’ve just tanned an eccie even if its been several hours since you actually did last tan an eccie.

“Right from day one, even though they were much smaller than they are now physically and stuff, they totally clicked as a tag team. That’s my favourite type of tag team as well. When you have the big power guy paired up with the smaller agile guy. Right from day one, even just observing from outside the ring it was amazing to see how well it worked. At that age, Stevie was naturally sort of taking the role as a ring general. He really knows what he’s doing in there man”

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As strange a concept as it may be to fans who weren’t around for those early days, Davey Boy and Stevie Boy actually didn’t come in to ICW together, and were presumably a wee bit perplexed when they were approached by a comedian telling them the trio were in fact all cousins, but whether it was the family bond or just the fact that they were three hard-working guys who really wanted to make this work, but as soon as they joined forces something just clicked, as Neil went on to explain.

“They were working separately when they first came into ICW. Probably way too young to be working in that venue at the time *laughs*. They were both really talented, but Dallas thought they needed some kind of hook to get them over with the audience. He came up with the idea to put us together and we sort of all developed the idea together. Dallas put it together, either him or Renfrew came up with the name, I came up with the cousins thing. I hope I’m not shattering anyones illusions here but to this day folk still believe that. I told them the character ideas I had. One being a mad criminal the other being a rampant shagger. Before I’d even finished the sentence Davey wanted to be the shagger and it just clicked that way. As brand new (Scottish for good) a guy as Stevie is, his work ethic is good if you give him anything like that he’ll just immerse himself in it”

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Any new fans of ICW who perhaps aren’t fully aware of how popular The Bucky Boys were should definitely go back and check out some of the earlier stuff they were involved in. A pair of died in the wool ruffians and the country’s best hype man who liked to have a laugh while they took care of the more serious business of tapping other tag team’s jaws and winning titles. Something they became so good at that other promotions made enquiries about booking them, but in a fashion that would see them embarrassed instead of championed.

“It was amazing to be a part of it. Especially to be a part of something that was so over. It was so popular with the fans. As soon as that music hit no matter the venue it always went mental. One of my favourite feuds was when The Sumerian Death Squad came over. Every time they came over it was unreal. As soon as I met them, I knew they were the real deal. They were tremendous professionals as well and it was just a pleasure to be involved in everything we done with them. They were a couple of big, scary boys as well but they were so easy to work with”

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All good things come to an end as they say and as wonderful as The Bucky Boys journey was, it was never for life. They were both young and hungry to carve their own paths and when the time came to blow the whole thing apart all parties seemed to know it was time. Although I don’t think any of the parties involved could have quite envisioned just HOW the whole thing came about as Stevie turned on his cousins to align himself with one of their moral enemies. The New Age Kliq. A moment that will go down as one of the most significant in ICW history “I knew myself that it was kinda winding down. Personally I felt like I was saying a lot of the same stuff in promos and it was getting to a stage where they had nothing left to prove as a tag team. When Stevie did turn, it was no sell job or anything like that, my reaction is genuine, I was fucking gutted. Evwee manen a bit angry. It was a natural time for it to happen and the feuds that have happened since have been some of the best things I’ve ever been involved in. Leading to Davey vs Stevie at the SECC”

The turn lead to the pair colliding in a singles match for the first time in ICW, with the Zero-G Title Stevie had won while still part of the Buckies on the line. It was the match trusted to set the tone on ICWs biggest show at that point, in front of an unprecedented 4000 people at the SECC. Quite a leap for a pair of “boys” too young to be in the nightclub they made their debut on. The significance of getting to go out there first wasn’t lost on Neil, who managed Davey Boy that night and cut a visceral promo on Stevie before Davey triumphed.

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“It was quite an honour to see the be trusted to go out there first. I had a wee promo that night as well, but the match itself was just brilliant. It really summed up the passion in ICW seeing that story come to an end on such a big stage and seeing the passion that went in to it and genuine emotion coming through in that. I think it was the perfect choice for the opener and set up the rest of what was a brilliant night for the company”

That led to a run with Neil managing Davie as almost the last Bucky Boy. It took a while before they evolved into something else and really hit their stride as a duo. Neil turning on Davey in disgust when Davey elected to join forces with Joe Hendry, before Davey saw the light and decided practicing the art of bad bastardry with The Wee Man was the path he wanted to go down on the way to ICW running The Hydro for the very first time.
“Working with Davey was great. It eventually clicked when we turned I reckon. After a wee while I felt like I was sort of doing the same thing, but cut in half *laughs*. When Davey turned, that’s when we really started enjoying it. That very quickly became the most fun I’ve had in ICW. You get to release so much pent-up shit as a baddie. You just kinda worry less about folk liking it, because they’re not meant to like it. That’s when I really felt we hit our stride as a wrestler and manager, leading in to the feud with Joe Hendry. I thought as a kinda duo, that was when we started to really work well”

For some reason we spent the next few minutes discussing Roman Reigns and why he hides what is undoubtedly an impressive chest under that body warmer. Maybe when exposed his nipples hide as some kind of defence mechanism and he doesn’t want school children who idolise him wondering why he’s nae nips. 

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That led to a singles match between Davey and Joe Hendry being the opener on ICWs biggest show a year later. This time packing over 6,000 into The Hydro a year after the SECC triumph, but one thing remained the same. Davey Boy in the opening contest with The Wee Man setting the tone on the mic, as Neil went on to explain “Two years in a row opening the big show. Me doing a promo first on the live show, after Billy of course. It was an honour. Full credit to Joe, we were out there to be the bastards and set up his big Bohemian Rhapsody entrance. Which he actually put together really quickly, so that’s a testament to the guys talent and work ethic. I watched the promo back and the fans start chanting shut the fuck up, and thats when I started doing the “EH?” thing. When I watched it back that was my favourite bit. Just that single guttural noise was my favourite bit of the whole thing and I thought to myself “I might just do that at the next show” It was a natural thing. It’s always the way it happens. You can plan stuff but the stuff that catches on quite often just happens when you’re out there.”

Fans of ICW in recent years will know exactly what that’s referring to. It’s hard to describe with words, but it’s essentially Steve Austin’s “What?” chant pumped full of Bucky and a wee bit of that flem ye get at the back of your throat if you’ve overdone the fags on a night out. It has on some mad level formed a connection with the ICW audience who were repeating it back to The Wee Man even when he was making a habit of calling them every name under the sun. Mostly some kind of variation of “virgin”.

“I figured after “What!” and “YES!” got over so much nothing was off-limits. It’s definitely more influenced by Steve Austin though. I’ve been watching that whole era back on the network a lot and he was so unhinged. It was almost like an unintentional thing. I’ll no lie, there’s a few things I’ve definitely lifted from that era of Austin. Even if it’s not intentional you can watch something back and think “I’ve just nicked something from Austin 2001″ *laughs* ”

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Neil being active as a standup and performing to comedy audiences as well as wrestling audiences leaves him with a bit of a unique perspective on the differences between the two. His enjoyment of wrestling audiences particularly almost serving as an insight as to why he continues to involve himself in a thing where big burly bastards can and will chuck you about at will. “Some of the bravado from speaking in front of wrestling crowd has definitely influenced some of my better moments doing comedy. I figured kinda recently, and I’ve thought this for a while, I’m actually much more at home in front of a wrestling crowd. I love doing comedian rap battles and all that as well, don’t get me wrong, im very relaxed and comfortable doing all that, but I almost enjoy performing to a wrestling crowd more. ”

In the early days it was certainly easy to understand why as The Wee Man’s job was essentially to come out and make near the bone jokes about news stories that were wide-open for ridicule. Something that sees like it would be endlessly fun “For a couple of years at least I was coming out, as a face, and coming out with topical gags that I would never dare to say on a standup comedy show. I mean just the shadiest chat. I think back to things I’ve said and notes I’ve had from shows years ago and I honestly wonder where this horrible shit came from *laughs*. I’ve just always thought, I’m not trying to be nasty or anything, ive always thought if you make light of fucking horrible things it helps you deal with them and I always felt wrestling crowds were more open to that sort of thing that standup crowds at that time. I’ve toned down a bit now with the topical stuff, but looking back I think it fitted better back then because at that time I was more playing to a live crowd as opposed to worrying too much how it comes across on demand and stuff. The more the company develops the more it becomes about how things look on the footage, and chat like that has a shelf life. You’d watch a show from even a few months ago and none of it would be relevant anymore”

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While the singles work with Davey did breed plenty of success, Neil has become known to be a bit of a mastermind with the auld tag teams. His recent work with the outstanding Rampage Brown and Ashton Smith has cemented them as a permanent fixture in ICW. A role their talent undoubtedly commands, but one they had struggled to find in the ultra competitive ICW roster. The Wee Man brought them out as surprise opponents for Polo Promotions merely 2 months ago and while it wasn’t their first ICW appearance, the impact they made that night and the impact since has left fans in doubt that they’ll be knocking the living shite out of tag teams for a long time. As evidence in the above photo where they leathered The Kinky Party AND their photographer while Neil decided to pick up his camera and take a few snaps of the destruction.

“They’re awesome. I was so chuffed to get to work with them. Rampage has been in and out at ICW, particularly on tour shows, and they’d been in as a tag team before. They came in and destroyed Pure Gangster at one point as well. It was that sort of thing where everytie they’d show up they would annihilate folk. There was very little reason why they shouldn’t be showing up and doing that all the time. You could tell by the crowd reaction when I introduced them in The Garage. Immediately you could tell the crowd sat up and took notice. They’re brilliant man. They’re both world-class. Even just looking at them you can tell they’re the real deal. A couple of very scary boys. I watched footage back from the last show and I’m very aware of my physical limitations but honestly, I have never looked tinier *laughs* They’re both huge. I think Ashton might have a slight edge height wise, but you don’t realise how big they are until you’re standing next to them and you look like a toddler with a wee suit on *laughs*. It’s not just how cool and intimidating they are, it’s that destructive style they have that really makes them stand out. I mean I said my favourite type of tag team is a bigger power guy with a more agile guy, but Rampage and Asthon can both do all of that. I wouldn’t want to arm wrestle or race either one of them, put it that way *laughs* ”

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Being the mouthpiece for a couple of the scariest bastards in wrestling (or indeed the world itself) will certainly be a time-consuming endeavour but Neil did leave the door open for potentially linking up with Davey Blaze one day in the future. At the very least Davey has a lifelong fan in his former manager.
“Davey’s had a wee bit of time off for various reasons but Davey’s brilliant. Particularly in the last feud we had with DCT and Coach. I can’t stress enough how brilliant Davey was in that feud. Some of his expressions and things like that told such a brilliant story. He’s so good at that type of thing, you almost get the story just from his expressions and all that. You don’t need my words or anything else. He’s so good at that and he leaves you in no doubt who you should be cheering in that much. I honestly think no one can touch him in that respect. He can be so funny but also scary at the same time and thats something he does so well. I’d hope to work with him again definitely. Hopefully one day. I’d definitely love to work with him in the future”

While the door to working with Davey again remains open it most likely won’t be in any sort of match against Davey as Neil discussed his dalliances with the in-ring side of the game. A side he consistently stresses is more difficult than anyone could imagine and something he never wants anyone to think you can just “do”.
“I’ve trained to the point where I know some of the basics. Since then I trained a bit with Wolfgang and learned a bit more. If im totally honest with myself I’d like to do more. I should do more. Just to drum in the fundamentals of it. Not in the sense that I’m going to try to be Will Ospreay *laughs* just more like I don’t want to be shambles and make anyone else look bad. I’m also hesitant to ever give anyone the impression that you can just step in the ring and do this. I’ll be the first one to tell you…..you cannae *laughs*. Trust me it fucking hurts. I’m getting on a bit if I want to make a career of it in the ring as well” *laughs*

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At that point I did remind Neil that DDP had set a precedent for older folk giving the wrestling a go and making a success of it but he reminded me DDP happened to be about a foot taller than him and I guess that’s fair enough. Being a big ride who already has a relationship with one of the biggest wrestling companies going is advantageous if you decide to embark on a wrestling career in your thirties, but whilst a full-time in ring career is likely never going to be his path, the flirtations he has enjoyed with that side it and just observing from ring side so much has given Neil a huge appreciation for the work pro wrestlers put in.

“At my size if you want to be a wrestler you need to really put the work in and you either need to be a mad high flyer or a technical wizard. The stamina and conditioning has always impressed me. You expect the smaller guys to have that, but right up to heavyweights they’re all well conditioned. It takes a lot to put together even a 10 minute match. The amount of conditioning it takes to even do that is unreal. Wolfgang defies the laws of physics. I don’t understand how he does the things he does”

Despite the physical limitations and limited training The Wee Man does have a decent record when it comes to stepping in to the ring. Somehow managing to tally up a 4-0 winning streak, “all clean wins”  as he put it, albeit with a bit of a knowing smirk,before a tag match that pitted him and Davey against DCT and Coach at last yeat’s Shugs House Party weekender brought it to an end. That streak included a singles bout with Coach, aka Adam Shame, which felt more like a series of Laurel and Hardy sketches than a wrestling match and Adam Shame is someone who Neil has a huge degree for respect for.

“I think I was 4-0 at one point eh? The Coach Trip match was a lot of fun. A few videos from that went viral. All credit to Shamer, who really made that great. He’s such a pioneer for Scottish Wrestling and really helped me through that. He’s one of the best guys to go to for advice and stuff. He’s one of the guys who built wrestling in this country and he goes out his way to help other people over. Even backstage and stuff, he’s a leader, and hes also a hilarious guy. One of the best guys in wrestling for sure. Even at the tail end of that match, for all it was, I was done. Honestly, I felt like I’d main evented mania or something so that tells a story of just how hard it is. ”

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Age is perhaps more of a secondary concern than many think in terms of the limitations involved however as Neil spoke of an accident he had before getting in to wrestling that left his hip held together with a steel plate.
“Besides age and size, I’ve got a steel plate holding my hip together so that’s not ideal. This was before I got involved in wrestling. I was in the Arches, and my pal was doing a one man theatre show. They had seating that went up 12-15 feet up and he was leading me up to the sound booth at the back and I kinda stepped out, thinking the platform went all the way down, but it didn’t, so I tumbled down. Shattered my hip, my wrist. I was in a wheelchair for a while. So that kinda hampered me a wee bit. When I got into it, maybe if I hadn’t had that injury I’d have given the training more of a proper go and done a bit more. I’m always hesitant to detract from what wrestlers do. I’m always reluctant to be that guy coming in as a non wrestler and making out like its easy. I never want to seem like im anywhere near on a par with the folk who do this for a living. Risking their health all year round. ”

As if there has ever been any need to make wrestlers seem any MORE intimidating but Neil went on to make a point that shook me and I’m sure will shake you. Wrestlers are not only likely to be far bigger and better than you when it comes to a fight, but they literally practice taking punishment over and over again. Almost to the point that it becomes….normal.
“Wrestlers can fight, but it’s how much punishment they can take is what you should be scared of. MMA boxers trained to dish out, but wrestlers are specifically trained to take punishment and still come up for more, thats a huge part of wrestling. Thats’s why id advise everyone not to get in a fight with a wrestler, even if you get a few digs in, they’ve had worse” *laughs*

Neil’s interest in becoming involved in wrestling at all of course stemmed from a childhood love of it. Introduced to it by his older brother David, also a comedian and the man who had the pleasure of stepping in to the ring with Neil to get flung aboot like wet washin in a boxing ring by Fight Club, he went on to follow it throughout his younger years.

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“My brother got me into wrestling. That was late 80s I guess. He was getting VHS or maybe even betamax tapes of shows. At the time wrestling wasn’t even on tv in britain and he had a pal in Wales that had cable tv. So they were one of the first folk in the country to be seeing wrestling shows. I specifically remember Royal Rumbles the best from when I was wee. Seeing all the different characters come out one after the other. I was the only one who had seen wrestling in my school. No hoagieone had seen it. It wasnt a thing back then. I was hooked back then I remember Gremlins 2 came out and it had a cameo from Hulk Hogan. He was such a big deal in America, but when it came out in Britain they’d actually edited that out and replaced it with archived footage of john Wayne with the gremlins *Laughs*. In every version now you see the Hulk Hogan bit but at the time wrestling was so not well-known that it was replaced with a mad bit from a western with Gremlins edited in *laughs* because no one in Britain knew who he was. I remember at the time being furious because I knew he was. By the time it came out on video they would have put the Hogan scene back in because at that point WWF was on Sky so people would have known who he was. By that time folk at school were doing Hogan and Warrior impression and im like “Guys, I’ve been into this for a year or two now!” and I was frustrated because it took them so long to get into it.”

While Neil grew up as one of earliest wrestling aficionado’s, long before the days of sweaty unibrows on the internet for some bizzarre reason feeling they’re the best authority to rate the physicality involved in wrestling, not everyone in his family seemed to “get” wrestling in the early days of his involvement, when venues like the SECC and The Hydro become the norm its hard to not sit up and take notice.

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“My Da, especially when I was a teenager, he’s just never got it. He’s a huge fitba guy and he trained my primary school fitba team when I was younger. He’s right into comedy and entertainment, but wrestling is this alien thing to him He just didn’t understand, and when I started getting involved in it I still thing he maybe didn’t take it seriously but the more it went on and the bigger the shows got the more he sort of took notice and started to take it more seriously. Then It got to a point where my mum and dad were asking when the next wrestling show is and that. My maw particularly still gets concerned. I sort of hide how much physicality is involved in it a wee bit from her. My maws always been wary since the accident. I’ve got a big sister as well who’s also very concerned although she appreciates the showmanship and the entertainment aspect of it. I’ve said to her to come to a show, as she lives in London, but I kinda get the feeling she’d be watching through her fingers a lot of the time”

Growing up around people involved in entertainment certainly saw Neil catch a bit of a bug for it all. One that’s been hard to shake. While other jobs have come and gone they served to be nothing more than time fillers for someone who just wanted to do what he was good at. Being the lead writer on BBCs Breaking The News,writing and performing in various online sketches for the BBC, as well as an appearance in the BBC show Scot Squad, have all provided excellent opportunities that have led to Neil finding himself in a situation where he makes his living from entertainment.

“It’s hard to make a consistent living out of just writing, so for the past wee while its been a combination of things that keep it going. I suppose they all kinda count as part-time jobs when you put them together. Being the lead writer on breaking the news and ive wrote for a couple of radio 4 things. I sort of justify it in a way that I’ve had a lot of jobs but working in comedy is probably the only job where I’ve experienced promotion in some sense*laughs* Just thinking of it logically there’s something significant in that.
It’s the only thing ive ever done I’ve really wanted any sort of promotion in either. I’ve worked in a bar but I’ve never wanted to be the bar manager. It was always just a time filler”

In terms of what’s coming in the very near future Neil was reticent to jinx it but by the sounds of it, a lot of exciting things are in the works. None more so than his most recent video that pits The Wee Man the character against Neil himself in a rap battle. Something he has much experience being involved in as the host of the Comedian Rap Battles. A monthly fixture at The Stand in Glasgow.

“I’m doing more videos. My most recent one is The Wee Man vs Neil Bratchpiece, that’s one im looking forward to a lot, its serving as a promo video gor the Glasgow Comedy Festival aswell. We’ve got a lot of shows coming up. As bullshit as it sounds, ive got stuff in development, but its all looking good. We’ll wait and see eh”

As it took me fuckin ages to get this done the video is actually out now. Have a swatch at it

A string of videos telling the story of “The Worlds Worst Paedo” went viral in 2016. In those videos, Neil played the part of the World Worst Paedo, who continually mistook his real life friend and fellow wrestling personality Chris Toal to be a child. seemingly never learning the lesson that he was in fact an adult, atlhigh Neil shed a different light on it. Painting him more as more of a misunderstood character who knew Chris wasn’t a child but was still in love with him anyway.

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“Toal gets recognised a lot more which im a wee bit relieved about. Younger folk recognise me from that. I appreciate that they can recognise me without all the Wee Man stuff. That came about I had the idea for the first one, it was just me mistaking him for a wean *laughs*. It was originally meant to be a vine or an idea for one anyway, so I spoke to Toal about it. It never happened on vine which probably worked out better. That’s part of a larger collection of sketches, there was more people involved in that, it was done as a taster sort of thing, but I always intended to put that character online as dodgy as it might be. A few folk were affronted but it was a bit knee jerk reaction to it. We came up with a few other sketches with those character, storyboarded them, Toal came up with one as well. A lot of people chipped in with ideas and it turned into this wee series.”

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Whilst it was undoubtedly odd to be recognised for playing The World Worst Paedo in a series of videos that went viral on Facebook, it represented a welcome change to being recognised for something that happened before Facebook was even a thing. Long before the days of yer maw being a fully fledged, commenting on all yer photies member. “I was chuffed but its such a strange thing to be recognised for. As potentially dodgy as the subject matter is. I’m still adamanat about this, justify it, joke anything, but also but if you pay attention he’s not actually a beast. He’s just a guy who really fancies Chris Toal and can’t come to terms with how he feels about it. When you think about it Chris is just a small man and he knows that but he just really fancies Chris Toal. He’s not like an evil character he’s just a bit confused *laughs* ”

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Even although he has his fingers in a lot of pies (dont laugh, you’re an adult for christ sake) when asked if he’s ever thought about wrestling becoming a full-time gig, it was something that raised a smile. A pipe dream

“Obviously that’d be awesome. Even in a manager role I’d need to work out the physical aspect because im guessing you’d still need to pass a physical before they’d employ you. I’d like to manage a bigger guy in that situation. I think that would work best You want to make your wrestler look as dominant as possible so that dynamic would work best. Even at my most enunciating and clear, I still think they’d be a bit confused as to what I’m saying over there. I widnae say naw, but it that way but im not holding my breath too much
Huge thank you to Neil for his time. Also to David J Wilson as usual for the photos and anyone else who’s photos ive used. If I’ve not given credit, give me a shout.

Like his Facebook page and keep up to date with what’s happening with him HERE

Follow him on Twitter HERE

Follow him on Instagram HERE

Comedian Rap Battles which Neil hosts happens on the first Wednesday of every month at The Stand in Glasgow.

Also get tickets for all the ICW shows Neil is involved in HERE

 

10 Questions With……Kez Evans

A whole new concept! 10 questions, no more, no less. Always exactly 10. Always with an “up and coming” pro wrestler. What “up and coming” means will be manipulated to suit the situation of course, but first on this new and exciting ride is none other than…..SqGoKez.jpg

Kez Evans. A GPWA trainee and a guy who didn’t have the best of nights at this year’s ICW Square Go. Entering Number 7, and well…..getting pied off everyone who entered from numbers 1 to 6. A ring full of people who had varying degrees of hate for one and other putting all that aside to take turns rejecting him, hitting him with their finishing move, before Sha Samuels unceremoniously dumped him out to be the first man eliminated. A sobering experience but one necessary if success is on the horizon. Character building is important. Wrestling for Kez Evans has so far had its ups and downs but his in-ring talent has been a shining light throughout.  He was even chosen to main event the first ever show held at ICW and GPWA’s base “The Asylum” up against Wolfgang (Or “WWE superstar Wolfgang to give him his proper title) and produced a match well beyond his experience level at that time. A fine way to kick off a singles career that he’ll be hoping has many more highlights like that and of course his bout with Mr Anderson last year.


We’ll start this interview off at…well…the start eh? How long have you been training with GPWA now and how is it going?

I was in the fourth intake and started back in April 2015. Training’s been going great and it’s always evolving to still be challenging every time I go to train.

What made you decide to take the plunge and give training a try?

Been a fan of it since I was 10 years old. I got into it in the weird way though, everyone usually says they were flicking through channels and saw it. That wasn’t my way of getting into it. I was visiting my Dad in hospital because he suffered a heart attack (don’t worry he’s fine) and I went to pick a magazine and I saw a Smackdown magazine, fuckin JBL was on the cover, don’t know why I saw him and got interested. I skimmed through it and found myself wanting to watch it, first ever show I saw was WrestleMania 21. I’ve watched it ever since and always said I really want to do that one day. Then one of my best friends saw that GPWA were having an intake and we jumped on the opportunity and that was that.

You were in the main event of the first show at The Asylum (ICW – Futurama) 2 and a bit years ago now. What are your memories of that match with (WWE superstar) Wolfgang? How do you feel it went?

My memories during the match were a bit of a blur, I can remember the build-up towards the match even more because I was so terrified. Keep in mind, I was only doing this for 6 months at the time, and had one battle royal and two tag matches under my belt. Then Wolfgang comes up to me during training and says “Aye so it’s me and you for the main event of this show.” I was so terrified, some nights I’d just have random freak out moments when it hit me that this was happening. I think the match went well, looking back you can tell how new to it I was, I cringe at certain things I done and tried to get over. But I’d never change one thing about it.

Wolfgang has since gone on to big things with his stint as ICW champion and WWE recognition. The whole team at GPWA have a wealth of experience. How much of a plus is having trainers of that calibre to call on?

The GPWA are so spoiled. We have 2 rings, 5 coaches, each with around 10+ years experience all with their own style of wrestling. We have an amazing training facility and sometimes we all just take it for granted, we don’t realise just how good we’ve got it. When Wolfgang comes back from the Performance Centre in Orlando, we do every drill and exercise he done over there. We are so spoiled and I’m thankful for it

You were part of the tournament GPWA ran last year (since re-branded “The Drew Galloway Invitational” for this year’s offering) showcasing the top trainees in the country. How was being a part of that and how do you feel it can help trainees progress going forward in future years?

It was pretty cool being in the tournament. This was after watching the WWE UK tournament and everyone was all hyped about this tournament trying to make it as big of a deal as the UK one. Sadly I lost in my first match…..(hate you Leyton) But it’s a great to show new talent to audiences and it gets new talent working in different environments. I mean the second night people were wrestling twice in one afternoon with hardly a break, and not against other talent from their own schools either, it was other schools talent too, so it’s a completely new challenge for them. It can help get them over with the audience watching guys try to win a tournament to show they are the best.

As I recall oor Leyton got quite a brutal tanking for his troubles. Revenge is a dish best served with your boot on the throat of the guy who beat you…as the famous saying goes

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What are your goals for this year? A square go appearance was surely a decent way to kick it off at least in ICW terms?

Last year around March, around my birthday actually, I had my biggest match to date when I wrestled Mr. Anderson. I watched him with my mates as a kid and now I’m standing across the ring from him and he’s doing his intro whilst my friends are watching. It was pretty crazy at the time. After that match I was sure things would kick off in terms of me moving up in the business. But due to myself and how I handle and perceive things, I became stagnant. It was around summer time a few months after the match and nothing changed, I was still on GPWA shows and was happy I was but I wanted more. I saw friends and other trainees from the school get on other shows and wrestle in front of thousands of people whilst I was still backstage watching on, I was happy for them sure but I wanted in on that too. For the past 6 months I became extremely unhappy with myself, felt like I wasn’t going anywhere and that I wasn’t as good as I was before, at some points I really wanted to chuck the whole thing altogether cause I felt like I didn’t bring anything to the table. But I started off this year a bit better, I was in the Square Go, not for long mind you, but just enough time to get the bigger audience looking at me so that’s good. I do want to become a well-known name in ICW, and get my brand of offence over with the crowd and work with many of the big talents that work there, but I’m not gonna hold my breath and get my hopes up. Just because I was in the Square Go for about 45 seconds doesn’t mean I have my place set in stone there. But hopefully I’ll be more involved there this year.

In a Square Go with no wasted spots, just having a place at all is a huge thing. Even if it was one of the sillier parts of it, that’s what ICW is all about. Being able to laugh at yourself and being able to fucking wrestle. If the focus is on that, doors won’t be swinging open they’ll fuckin fly open. 

Speaking of the Square Go, how do you plan on exacting revenge on those who shunned you? Or indeed any ‘journalists’ who may have been guilty of irresponsible reporting on your appearance

I won’t jump them the first time I see them, I’ll take my time, I never forget who’s done wrong to me. Patience. And in terms of other people who shunned me, with your case calling me a nobody, as brutal as the comment was, it’s true. I’m still a nobody in everyone’s eyes. One of my goals is to become a well-known name and for people to pay to see me, whether they want me to win or lose, I frankly don’t care, all I know is they wanted to see this guy.

No gonnae lie, I’ve said a lot of daft things in reviews. Some more brutal than calling Kez “a nobody in a sea of somebodies” but this is the first time I’ve felt bad about it so well done. Your apology letter and my favourite auld wrestling figure (the Earthquake one that had moving legs because wrestling figures used to be terribly designed and hardly any had moving legs) is in the mail winging its way to you. Honestly mate I was only kiddin right. You’re somebody. You’re Kez Evans. Never forget x

kezzzzzz

Who in particular would you really like to wrestle on the Scottish/UK scene that would best showcase your own abilities?

Scottish scene has so much good fucking talent that it’s scary. That’s another reason why I doubt myself sometimes cause I look at some people and go “Well how can I top that? They are just too good.” I would love to face the Coffeys, that’d be a really intense couple of fights there. I’d love to face Mikey Whiplash, just in a straight one on one bout and see if I can hang with one of the best in the country. I’d also love to fight Bram as well because I have a death wish. There’s so much talent I haven’t yet faced that they could help showcase my abilities. Guys like Andy Wild, Jackie Polo, DCT. I reckon Stevie Boy and I could have an amazing bout too. There’s too many wrestlers to count, apologies if I didn’t specifically say your name if you’re reading this but you are all on my list of who I want to face.

Who have been your biggest influences both from before you started training and since then?

My biggest influences before I started where a massive list, I can’t pick a favourite wrestler, cause I go through phases of watching just one guys matches and being like “aw he’s amazing, he’s my favourite” so I can’t really answer that. Maybe just wrestling in general influenced me. And the people who influence me now are my coaches and some of the guys who have started working for ICW and other places, guys like The Purge, SBX, Layton, Ravie, Soldato and Thacther, they motivate me a lot even if they don’t know it, but they do. Seeing them become more successful makes me proud that I go to the same school. The coaches influence me too because they are the ones who taught me what I know, what I’ve always wanted to do and they believed in me even when I didn’t think I can go far with this. But they did, and I don’t want to fail any of them

Any upcoming shows you fancy telling us about? 

Wrestling Experience Scotland have 5 Pound Wrestling at the Asylum on March 18th, and live in Dennistoun on the 30th.

Tickets +info for all upcoming Wrestling Experience Scotland shows can be found here 

Follow Wrestling Experience Scotland on Twitter HERE
Like them on Facebook HERE

Last but not least. Plug the utter bejesus out of your social media stuff!

Facebook page – Kez Evans
Twitter page – KezEvans95

Thank you to David J.Wilson and Warrior Fight Photography for the photos

Shooting to do at least one of these a fortnight. If there’s a talent you think should be highlighted anywhere in the UK or beyond by all means give me a shout with your recommendations. I might ignore ye if I think said person is a bit pish but give it a pop anyway.