An Interview With RUDO Lightning – The Two Square Go Wins And Everything In Between

He was always supposed to be “RUDO”. Even when success came as Red Lightning , Andrew Wason always wanted to shed that name. A name he never liked to begin with. A name given to him from a time where perhaps not a huge amount of fore-thinking went into these things. He’s taken a stoat down the road less travelled to get here, but finally he is what he wants to be in wrestling.

Even if he is one of the few talented enough at other aspects of wrestling to get by without doing the actual wrestling part, he is a performer. He wants to wrestle. In February he won his second ICW Square Go a full 7 years after he won it the first time. A fairytale? Maybe. But more than that, it has been the result of a lot of hard work and an unshakeable belief that he was made to do this. He was made to be a performer and all the trials and tribulations have only led to him being hungrier for success than he ever has been. He took us back to the 2012 win first.

“I wasn’t really meant to be in that spot. Of my group of pals, Jester, Lionheart, Wolfgang, Drew etc. They were the wrestlers. I wasn’t the wrestler. That’s the story of my career I suppose. That’s what got me over. Being different. They were very interested in the in-ring stuff, and they are all fantastic at it, but I really put my focus on a different element of wrestling. That being the character side. That got me to the Square Go initially”

A lot of personal grief is tied in to that time period. Tragedy that made wrestling nothing more than an afterthought but then the Square Go win also turned it into a much needed distraction.

“It was difficult for me to process the 2012 Square Go because it all happened very quick. It was in the January. My partner and I lost a baby. She was pregnant throughout that period and then unfortunately, late on, we lost the baby. I just had to take a bit of time away really. To process that and everything that happened. If I’m honest, and Dallas said to me in the past as well… first title run served as a way to help me back in to wrestling and gave me a distraction after having suffered such a personal tragedy. That’s the circumstance that sort of led to me being the champ

That outlet became essential for both the performer and man. While he doesn’t see it as a positive period in his career in a lot of ways, and its certainly wasn’t a positive time personally, it was a period where he was the best villain in the game. Such an arsehole he drove many a dafty fan to try their luck during his title run. I personally witnessed folk square up to him more than once. Perhaps fully committing to being a villain is a wee bit easier when negative emotions are powering you every day.

“My mental health was poor throughout the first title run. I think as well, I had put what had happened in to the back of my mind. Staying busy was the most important thing. That was around the time the Oran War and Kelvin Brawl was happening so it was all go for a long time and that suited me. I suppose I was just using wrestling as an outlet back then. As a way of expressing myself. I was a different character back then. We were all in that phase of sort of shooting on each other as it were

Everything had to be based in reality. I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder anyway, about life, so it was easy for me to get fully invested in that, but I took it too far sometimes. I was admittedly at times (not often) rude to people. That was just my coping mechanism for everything that happened in that time period but I regret a lot of it now”

As tragic and life affirming as losing a child must be, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. His partner falling pregnant again during the title run was a blessing and perhaps marked the start of the healing process mentally.

“Fortunately my partner actually fell pregnant again. That happened after I’d won the title. I dropped it right after my son was born because I was going away in a paternity leave type situation. My head wasn’t in the game. Because of what had happened before I was worried about there being problems again. Thankfully it was all ok. My sons 6 now and he’s very much alive *laughs” “

Anyone with a child in that age range will know exactly what Rudo meant by ‘very much alive’ but I’m sure he wouldn’t have it any other way. After losing the title there was a bit of a down period and at a time of rough mental health its hard to separate a natural dip after a very busy and successful spell with something more. It has taken pretty much all of that 7 year spell for Rudo to realise that his spot was always there for him. All he had to do was put forward the very best version of himself.

“As much as I love the school, and I enjoy promoting and producing shows; I didn’t get in to this business to do that. I enjoy working in the business, but I got into this to be a wrestler and until someone tells me I cant do that anymore, I’ll always do it. Until I get a bad injury or whatever Ill definitely still wrestle. Even if its on a lower scale, I do it because I love performing”

RUDO on what brought him back to in-ring competition

“I took quite a drop after I lose the belt because that was it for me in essence. After Kelvin Brawl, I was in an out a lot. The injuries had taken their toll. It was an uncertain time for me. This Square Go, we get here because, not because im the best wrestler on the show. Again it was emphasis on character that got me there. The circumstances are different. I’ve dealt with a lot of my demons”

Dealing with demons is something like a constant negotiation. They never go away fully but you can placate them. Send them on their way to other pursuits while you can get on with your life in the meantime. Learning how to deal with this and making peace with the fact that you’ll probably never eradicate them is half the battle and Rudo is set in a very healthy routine when it comes to dealing with the bad spells. Head down. Keep quiet. Let it pass.

“For me now, you need to be able to see when something is wrong or when something like that is going to happen. Personally now I just shut myself away and let it pass. That might take a few days or a couple of weeks but…it does pass

“There’s people I’ve spoken to in the past that feel mental health can affect their wrestling or training. Wrestling should be your outlet for this stuff. It gives a sense of wellbeing and something to do. Something to look forward to. If you’re having a bad time this is a good thing to do. You’ll meet like minded people”

Having dealt with these issues and later becoming a trainer, it puts Rudo in the best possible position to deal with the multitude of individuals and their issues that pass through GPWA. Indeed, he sees it as not only a way of learning how to wrestle, but a way of learning how to live. Many have come through the Asylum door and transformed themselves. Learning a skill in the process. The importance of having an outlet when your mental health wavers cannot be underestimated and Rudo went on to explain just how common these issues are in wrestling, and at the same time how wrestling is the perfect remedy for them.

“Everybody in wrestling has experienced it (mental health issues) in some way. Just because of the nature of what we do. There’s anxiety tied in. Performance anxiety. Comparing yourself to others. Its definitely something you can throw yourself in to. Even if you aren’t feeling great. It gives you a sense of achievement and for me, that can make you feel valued. It can make you see things differently and think differently”

In my personal journey I found medication didn’t really help. The thing is. I tried a few different ones. One made me worse. One did suppress the way I felt but I felt made me numb. I felt it suppressed all feelings I was having. So it was hard to get motivated. Even positive thoughts and feelings aren’t there

“I was going through the motions. Everything just becomes routine and you aren’t up or down. That maybe led to me having a lot of the issues I had in wrestling. It led to a massive weight gain as well because of the chemical changes it brings about”

There are certainly pitfalls to taking anti-depressants. Speaking from experience nothing Rudo said about them is untrue but there are more severe cases that make the drawbacks worth it. Worth it just to see some sort of order and contentment come in to your life. Weight gain has been the issue that has lingered the most since coming off medication, as well as becoming a bit more prone to injuries, as he went on to explain.

“I was always around the 12-13 stone mark and went up to about 16 when I was on them and have struggled since, so its never left me. I don’t feel even since then, even when I’ve very small bouts of depression and anxiety that I’d ever consider going back on them

I’ve always found other ways to take it away or ease it. My personal coping mechanism is just shutting the door, keeping quiet, watching a TV show, a film, reading a book or something. That sounds basic and I understand people have far more complexed issues that aren’t going to be taken away by a box set but that’s just my way

Eating is another coping mechanism and that can cause health issues. It has done for me. The anti depressants were in my opinion partly to blame for me getting injured in the first place. My body was fuckin falling apart at the time. Up to that point I was always very fit and had never been hurt then suddenly I’m here with this bad injury”

Whilst his own experience may not be one he’d be keen to repeat, Rudo was keen to drive home that every person responds differently and the effectiveness of these medications will vary based on the severity of the case but don’t just accept that its the only path you can go down if you’re suffering.

There are other ways to get a grip on it or at least attempt to do so. It was an experience while wrestling for PBW during the Belladrum Festival that led him to make the decision to come off the medication. Despite wrestling in an exciting environment well out of everyone’s comfort zone, there was no enjoyment there.

“Maybe people have good experiences on them, I’m not doubting that, but I didn’t. I feel doctors see it as an easy way out. If you’re lucky they’ll tell you some of the bad side effects but more often than not they wont. If I’d known (what side effects there could be) I’d never have taken it. I’d have found another way.

I know that’s not possible for some people. I completely understand that and as I said, I considered my own case to be quite mild in comparisant to some. I’m just speaking from a personal point of view. You’re fighting a losing battle with your feelings and you take this tablet that fucks with all your hormones

“I had massive sugar cravings and all that. Not being able to get out of bed was a big problem. We done Belladrum a few years back for the first time. Exciting situation. Wrestling at a festival. I was taking Mitrazipine at the time. Which just makes you feel like a zombie. It absolutely killed my thoughts. I couldn’t enjoy this weekend at all because of these tablets and that’s when I thought, no more”

His advice for anyone who may be going through similar struggles is a simple as it gets. If there’s something or someone in your life consistently pulling you down? Don’t put up with it. The option is always there to remove that problem. Be it a person, an activity you dread, or ever supporting Partick Thistle. The option is always there to remove the thing that’s making you miserable.

“I’m just a quiet guy. Zero drama. Aw the shite in yer life…just drap it. If there’s someone in your life causing aggro, just get fucking rid. People take that literally but if there’s somebody in your circle that has a negative effect on you. Its rude to turn round and tell them you’re removing them, but you do have the choice to interact with them less. For a very long time I just enjoyed being at home. I had my family there. I felt comfortable. Its my house. There was just no drama there. I was in control”

Another solid bit of advice, echoed by Kid Fite in a recent Facebook post on his mental health, is warning against using substances to cope. It may provide short term relief. That short term relief may be extremely effective, but it remains a very short term release. Leaving your body craving more of whatever your poison may be.

Alcohol can be the absolute worst in the sense that it is a depressant. Chucking it on top of the existing depression that courses through you on a daily basis is akin to madness. A bit like a diabetes patient cracking open a big bag of sugar and tanning it in one go. It just doesn’t make sense. There was a stage where Rudo did feel the drinking was out of control but nowadays he wisely steers clear of the demon drink. Instead he blows off steam by eviscerating folk on the mic and winning aw the Rumbles.

“I used to be out and about all the time. Drinking. At one point in my life I do feel I had a drink problem and I just stopped. If you’ve got a hangover with depression it isn’t the best mixture. There’s obviously different scales. People who are suffering more than you and I. Some people do need medication and thats fine. I felt that my case was relatively light and I felt that my doctor jumped on the medication route pretty quick. There was an option there for me to not go on them just yet and maybe it was one of those things. It might have gone a lot different for me if I didnt”

Coming off the medication didn’t happen because Rudo wanted to give everything to wrestling. It was wanting to be the absolute best father he could be that eventually led to the decision being made to come off the medication and try to find another way.

“There was a stage where I struggled to be a father. I had my step daughter and then my son was born. I didn’t feel settled in to the role of being a dad until I stopped taking that medication. Its a bad thing to say, the way its coming out, but the way that I love my kids now…I didn’t feel that way towards them back then. Because I felt I was taking something that was preventing me from feeling that way”

Rudo on his personal experience with anti depressants

Its a strange feeling when these medications fully leave your system. There’s an adjustment period where you have to get used to feeling absolutely everything again as Rudo describes.

When I came off them I felt this massive haze disappear. This clarity. Over the space of 2 years this clarity came over me. All of this kicked off when I decided I was stopping taking them. Because I felt…this is fucking with me a wee bit” It was just something that I had to do. It was a period of my life where I did what I could to function”

“If I was to give anyone any advice, it would just be that people need to be self aware. Aware of any genetic issues that might arise as well and make sure you aren’t more at risk than the average person. There may have been a history of MH and
alcoholism in my family. I had to remind myself of these things to stop going down a very dark path. When my son was born I stopped all that”

There was a time where Rudo even considered bringing his struggles with mental health in to his wrestling persona, but it became problematic. When the thing you use to escape becomes intertwined with the thing you’re trying to escape from, its no longer an escape. Why be your heavily depressed self in a thing like pro wrestling when you can be literally anything else.

“I’m relatively open about it. Back when I cut a promo about it. I was trying to turn it into something creative. I was like ‘this is how i feel right now, lets try and do something with it’ I don’t think there’s ever been a wrestling character who’s diagnosed with depression. I ended up not liking it because it was me bringing it in to my work. Weighing me down a bit and taking a bit of joy away from something that served as a good distraction”

Rudo sat opposite me for the whole 2 hours we spoke as a man who didn’t appear as someone who suffered with mental health issues for so long. That has to be inspiring to anyone out there going through this. It inspired me and is a big part of the reason I was even able to write this interview up at all. He is living proof that even if its hard and you lose that battle of wills with your own mind on occasion…YOU CAN GET BACK UP.

You can show this soul sucking devil of a thing that you are in control and regaining that control over your life can be such a freeing thing. Even if its not permanent, with every battle you win confidence grows. A feeling that even if its a real fucking slog…YOU CAN DO IT.

“There’s no better feeling than when you do get through things like that. Being able to sit and say to yourself…I’ve done this man. I’ve been able to get through to this. There’s days when you are going through it when you do want to give up and when you get better, you’re glad you didn’t”


“Between the two Square Go’s. After 2012 Square Go
everything went awry for me. That led right into quite a serious injury. 2019 is essentially me picking back up where I left off all that time ago, with a clear mind. A lot more mature and
focused”

A comeback to wrestling on shows brought about an opportunity to finally solidify a name change he had wanted to implement for a long time. As much as the name Red Lightning had name value because of what Andrew Wason achieved while using then name, it still wasn’t cool. It wasn’t really anything truth be told. Like one of they toys you pick up in the corner shop that has a hilarious replacement name for a well known cartoon character so the toy company disnae get sued to fuck. The introduction of the “RUDO” Sports and Entertainment brand after The Black Label had disbanded allowed the Rudo name to seep into people conciousness, making it easier for Red Lightning the wrestler to become Rudo for good.


“I’ve wanted to be Rudo Lightning for a long time. I told Wolfgang that 5 years ago. Thats what I wanted to go by. Its difficult to change it when you’ve used one name. The Rudo brand opened the door for it. In my mind that was the first step to transitioning in to using it. Joe (Coffey) started referring to me as Rudo. It got to the point where I realised I could go with that name full time and no one would really bat an eyelid. From a branding perspective, its much more respectable. It sums up me because it has wrestling significance. People get it”

Despite all the success as “Red Lightning” its not a name he has any affinity for even in retrospect. Its always been daft and now its gone. It has gone the same way as all the personal demons. Right on the scrap heap. A new dawn. A new day. A new life. And he’s feeling good.

“Red Lightning was always a stupid name. It was just one of they things that stuck. I’ve never liked it. It was embarassing. There was a point I was gonnae drop the Lightning and just be Red, but it never happened. I wanted something more marketable. It was embarrassing to tell people. Like workmates or people not involved in wrestling, they as what you’re wrestling name is and you tell them Red Lightning. They go “whit? it sounds like an energy drink” *laughs*

It would have probably been easier to ease into and accept the name if it was ever his own idea but being given the name removed any kind of attachment to it. Maybe a good thing when it comes to fully committing to something else.

“It wasn’t my idea either. I was just given it by a promoter and it stuck. Suddenly its 5 years later, then its 10-15 years later and its stuck. WWE or anyone else are never going to call you that or take you seriously with that name

“Take Wolfgang for example. That’s instantly a wrestling name. Its not beyond the realm of possibility that this guy is called Wolfgang. Lionheart is another one that has significance. Jack Jester stands out. At least if I went with Rudo and become known as that, it means something”

Every wrestler is influenced by someone. You have to be. If you aren’t you’ll probably be pretty shite at it. Rudo has always stood out for a variety of reasons but when you strip it back and hear the various influences that have combined to make the Rudo we see today, it makes a bit more sense. Maybe having influences that are at opposite ends of the scale is the key to making it work. The strongest of those influences being World Of Sport mainstay, Rollerball Rocco.

“The man who trained was Spinner Mckenzie. He was part of WoS at the time Rollerball Rocco was arounf. Didn’t do TV that much, but he was on the circuit. Spinner came to our school one day. He had a website called British Wrestling Database and came under the guise of a reporter but really he was there to check the school out. Over the next few weeks I started to learn a bit more about him. Eventually he became our trainer”

Spinner Mckenzie was right into that style and opened our eyes to it. Everyone has their own influences. There’s people influenced by, Stone Cold, Eddie Guerrero, Bret Hart etc. Its hard to get people out of that way of thinking. When we were all young guys at 16 years old, I think I was the first of our group to open my eyes to the wider scale of wrestling. That there was more out there. Everyone else was very influenced by current wrestling.

rudo on being introduced to the world of sport style

This was a time where it wasn’t as easy as a quick Youtube search to find out what to expect for a performer. Rudo went on a fact finding mission to consume as much Rollerball Rocco as he could. Sourcing DVDs that sparked a childhood memory.

I went online and managed to find some DVDs of his work. Around 2004-2005. I put it on and I recognised him right away. The gear, the moustache, the whole look. I thought I’d seen this guy before. It turned out he was one of my granda’s favourites. I was too young for it at the time, but he watched re-runs and stuff like that and at some point ive seen this guy on the telly and hes seeped into my consciousness”

That was it. The vision was there. If everyone else is doing it a certain way, what better way is there to stand out than by going about your work completely differently.

“So when I seen him it sparked me and I just started watching it. I thought the landscape of wrestling as it is now, everyone’s watching the likes of ROH and everyone’s influenced by them. Then you had the WWE guys who were influenced by that. There was nobody doing this British stuff or next to no one anyway”

“I committed myself to coming up with a style. Very influenced by Johnny Saint and Rocco. They way he moved, his subtle mannerisms. I just thought….I could be a modern version of this guy. I’m not saying I’m just like him, because I’m not, but the character. That’s what it is. It has steaks of that and i just thought, I need to stick to that”

“NXT UK is British Wrestling presented as such. For me its something that I’ve always wanted to do. The ICW Title run took me away from that sort of style, but sometimes I need to remind myself of what I am, what I want to do, and what I want to be. Its never changed. I’ve been distracted at times, but its never changed. I’ve always had a very clear vision of what I want to be and how my character should be”

RUDO on the vision for his character

Rollerball Rocco may influence the gear and his era may have shaped Rudo’s wrestling style but the attitude and constant aversion to having any kind of decent relationship with his boss is all Stone Cold. Their dynamic has always pitted Rudo as the baddie of the dynamic but the current storyline which led to Rudo winning the Square Go this year is very much a throwback to the days of Austin being right in the face of his arsehole boss attempting to deny him of things he and the fans feel he deserves.


“At the moment I’m sort of fine tuning and honing the character. Someone was going to get in Dallas’ face that night and I don’t think anyone for a second thought it would be me…until it happened. Then it made all the sense. Tapping in to your inner Stone Cold is another thing. Stone Cold is someone I’ve watched a lot. As a wrestler he has had an influence on my wrestling and the way I carry myself. So more that meshed with Rollerball Rocco.

I had a 4 or 5 year gap where I wasn’t able to develop that character and I feel if I had those years I’d be in a lot better of a position now. After that a lot of people started doing that style, whereas back then that was the thing that made me stand out”

His peers may not think he needs to, but there’s a hunger in Rudo to grow and improve even at the ripe old age of 32.

“Everybody’s trying to stand out. I was having a chat with Kay Lee Ray recently. Even now, I was saying to her I want to do more. I want more. And she was like ‘naw..this is your thing, this is you, you don’t need to do all that other stuff’ and I see her point but I’m always hungry for more”

He feels he’s become a better overall performer due to his in-ring absence. Constantly in some kind of verbal duel with someone, most often his arch nemesis Mark Dallas. As good as Rudo was on the mic before his extended spell away from in-ring action, there’s no doubt he absolutely mastered the art of holding a crowd in the palm of his hand during his time as the leader of various enterprises with designs on taking over ICW. The Black Label in particular was an era where Rudo and his two best pals garnered some of the burniest heat you’ll ever see in a wrestling ring.

“Strangely. I don’t know how this is possible. I’ve managed to become a better performer without wrestling over the past 5 years. Developing a better understanding and being able to look at things from a different angle. I’m just a bit more sure of myself and my abilities than I was before”

“Shugs in 2015 when The Black Label was formed was when it really became a full time gig again. That was me just taking this one wee tiny role and making the absolute most of it. My mentality was that I had to make this work. This is my only chance to put all of this right. I had to throw myself completely into it and at that time I was happy not to be wrestling. I was more comfortable doing the mic stuff. Eventually I did wrestle when I was able but I did get injured again. But…I feel like that was success for me. Taking that role as Spacebaws GM and turning it into something special with The Black Label”

The Black Label was definitely a career defining era for all three of the men involved. All three speak about it with great fondness for a time where things were a bit mental. They were truly hated and they got to be hated as a unit.

“Black Label was a brilliant time in my career. I loved being able to go out there with my two pals. Guys I started out with and make folk absolutely raging *laughs* GPWA has been fantastic and I’m glad we started it. But I’m a performer. That’s what I do. I perform. And over the past few years ive no been able to do that to the extent that I wanted. I’ve always wanted to wrestle but just didn’t feel able to do it to the best of my ability until recently. A lot of the guys were like ‘why are you daein this? you don’t need to do this?’ because I’m good on the mic and stuff, but this is what I want to do. This is what I’ve always wanted to do”

I remembered Dallas coming past and I just heard him go “Red, You’re on fire just now” That was the first time I thought, I was doing well in this role. Even though I wasn’t wrestling I was working as hard as anyone else on the show. I had to apply myself to a completely different character. A completely different role. That turned out to be the thing I’m most known for or most remembered for amongst Scottish wrestling fans

Rudo on his time away from the ring as an on screen authority figure/leader of the rebels

From relative obscurity, to closing the show in front of 4,000 at the SECC as Mick Foley intercepted Rudo’s attempts to steer the main event in Drew Galloways’s direction. It was an amazing turnaround and proof that if you keep working at it, the results will come.

He also led The Black Label out for their match for control of ICW in front of over 6,000 at The Hydro and as much as he’d have loved to be able to wrestle on those shows, to be so integral to the story that you’re involved in vital moments anyway is proof of how impactful that character was. He described a calm coming over him ahead of the SECC show. Assurance that he was absolutely capable of what he needed to do and he was going to knock it out the park.

“Of course the SECC was huge. All the boys were nervous. Yet I found myself feeling relaxed. I had a big moment in the show with the promo at the start and Foley interrupting but I was so confident. I knew what I was doing and there was no way it was going to go wrong. To get that opportunity was amazing though, going from not being involved in the company to 4000 people booing you in the SECC. Its mental. I was very proud of that. Then of course a year later its another huge crowd at The Hydro and I’m involved again, leading The Black Label out

Getting to work closely with a good friend who for a lot of years he scarcely got to see in the flesh was another huge positive during The Black Label run. They may have started at the same time but Rudo credits Drew Galloway’s influence during his ICW run as another factor that made him a better performer.

“When I started interacting with Drew more that was a big deal to me. We are friends, but I cant say we’re close because of how far apart we are. We don’t get a lot of chances to speak. It was good to share that time with him. He came back. I said bye to him in 2007 and id hardly heard from him. He’s a busy guy. All of a sudden 7 years later he’s back and involved again”


“The next year we’re told you, Jester and Drew are going to be a faction and we were all buzzing about it. It was great to get to work together. I learned a lot from Drew, working with him was such a huge thing. Always being by his side at shows, in the ring, we all bounced ideas off each other. He valued my opinion. I was able to learn from him and he was happy to give me advice at that time.

“Even though I wasn’t wrestling then it definitely helped shape me into a better wrestler. Working with Damo helped a lot as well. He was always someone who supported me and pushed me on”

ICW isn’t the only place Rudo has made an impact during this current run. It’s not even the only place he’s won an over the top rope battle royal in this calendar year. Winning Wrestlezone’s Regal Rumble event and securing a place in the main event of their biggest show of the year, a regular 1,000+ sell out called Aberdeen Anarchy.

“I’ve kept contact with them for a long time. They reached out to me and said we’d like you to wrestle Damien at Aberdeen Anarchy. I was right up for it because it was an opportunity for me to go into a company and be trusted to main event their biggest show, against their champion. Regarding The Regal Rumble, the story changed on the day. I wasn’t meant to win it but they decided to have me win and cash it in that night and have Damien chasing me leading to Aberdeen Anarchy”

Winning the title in as close as you can get to foreign land in his own country was a surreal experience for Rudo. A bad guy from Maryhill coming in and scooping up all the big prizes in one night. You could see the logic behind it but it took a bit of hype work from Rudo on social media to drum up some heat. Having the unenviable task of having to follow Pac (formerly Neville in WWE) and a cage match, they had to craft a story in a month that had the fans buzzing at the prospect of Damien taking the title back.

“It went online that I had won the belt and it got a bit of buzz. The thing about going up there is that it is a different scene. The people who go to these shows dont watch ICW. Some do, but most dont. Most dont have a clue who I am. I win the Regal Rumble. I’ve got 28 days to get a bit of heat before anarchy”

“They had no idea it would get the reaction it did. When I won they could hear a pin drop. From then on I get on the mic and we build a story from well. That was good for me though. They thought that it was a better idea for Damien to be chasing going in to the big one. I think it probably did give them a wee bit of a buzz from our neck of the woods. Getting people talking about it. I’m trying to get it over and carry the flag of that company for a month”

From Red Lightning to Rudo Lightning

Rudo’s insistence on being referred to as Rudo is partly wanting that name to become synonymous with him, but its also partly to do with being seen as someone different. Red Lightning was a talent but had his moments where he maybe wasn’t the easiest to work with. Rudo is the opposite. A performer, a promoter, and someone with a mind for wrestling that few can match.

“That was one of my main things when I came back. I wanted to be an asset for any company that I work for. I want to be able to come in to a company and be able to promote their shows. Utilising my social media and being able to help them. Going in to companies, putting on a good show, and just generally being professional”

“Thats a bi-product of being not the best in 12-13. At times I was unprofessional so now I take pride in being the opposite of that. Taking my work seriously and being very professional”

The addition of Kay Lee Ray and Stevie Boy to the coaching team and Rudo admittedly not being the “wrestler” of the group has led to him assuming more of an all consuming role with the company as opposed to personally teaching a lot of classes. He has found his feet as a promoter as well. Utilising social media will to get word out there about upcoming shows and news regarding the school. A jack of all trades, and a master of …well quite a lot of them actually.

“We’re all at the point where we can still wrestle. The opportunity is there if we so wish, to wrestle on these shows. I don’t class myself as a coach anymore. I still give a lot of mentorship to the trainees but my job here really is more the day to day stuff with the asylum and shows. I dont do a lot of teaching classes anymore. I do on occasion but i admit its not where my strength lies. I’m good at advice and good at helping the guys on show day. That’s when I’m at my most useful”

Its not just GPWA students who can come to Rudo for advice. You’d be daft not to tap in to the wealth of knowledge that exists across Scottish wrestling even if you are committed to one particular school.

“I always like to help people that no matter where they come from. Recently Sammi Jayne introduced me to Ashley Vega and Angel Hayze. It was a bit me giving advice on what they’d been doing but also for me to see if they could help out on our shows. I regularly do that for our guys and its something I enjoy. I’d never shoo someone away if they want my advice”

“It would be nice to be able to sit down with everyone once a month and tell them, this is what you need to do, this is what you need to change, but the fact of the matter is, we arent a full time business. We are all very busy. But if anybody asks, they will never be ignored or turned away”

“Our main program has about 45 in it, then we have 20 starting their 8 week induction, and another beginners class that has about 20. There’s about 80 odd people coming in here a week, across different days. The main class you’ll find the people who are really serious about doing it full time. That’s where they really improve. Getting taught by the best wrestlers Scotland has to offer”

Rudo was keen to point out the upside to training with GPWA without disrespecting other schools who have produced some of the best talent on the scene today. GPWA just offers a different way of doing things. First class trainers on hand, all with their own unique set of skills paired with glowing CV’s.


“Its the value for money. You’re being taught by the best in their respective fields. Wolfgang was at Mania on a Sunday, and he was in here on Tuesday training people. Lionheart is the ICW Champion. Kay Lee and Stevie started a bit later than us and have a different perspective. Both wildly successful in their own right as well”

“Lionheart and Jester are also in the public eye right now because of Rogue To Wrestler. I’m always wary of things like Rogue to Wrestler but it turned out to be a really good show. It was a genuine representation of how the school operates. We came across really well”

GPWA caught peoples attention because the concept was something completely new. Trainees started with an 8 week long induction course and the trainers would assess after the 8 weeks if it was in everyone’s best interest to continue training. A model that has been replicated in many places elsewhere since.

“The intake classes are for people who aren’t really sure. They want to give it a bash but aren’t sure how far they want to take it. If they’re not into it, or they’re not up to the standard required, they can leave without committing to it if they want. People surprise themselves. Others see its not what they thought and stop”

“The intake’s different now in terms of how we assess the new trainees but the setup is the same. We’ve got Ravie Davie, Leyton Buzzard, Kez Evans, The Purge, Sam Barbour etc. They all came through this setup. They had never wrestled before. Came right through the program and are doing great things now. That’s the thing we were missing. Success stories. People with name value who have come from our school. We have that now.

We had a good facility, good coaching team, but there’s no assurance that these 5 great wrestlers are going to be good coaches. I feel we’ve developed a lot as coaches and as people over the last 5 years. We can now say this program works. Our training system works. Theres schools all over (ger, eng) using this system, including America. We’ve had American guys in here to take seminars and I think we’ve influenced how they conducted their business when they went back to America”

A sense of entitlement from trainees is not something tolerated amongst the coaches. The philosophy is simple. If you work hard, listen and really want to make something of this, you can. Moaning about not getting what you feel you’re due gets you nowhere and that mentality seems to have came from a group of wrestlers who made something of this scene when it didn’t really exist.

“There was ups and downs with a lot of the guys and it goes back to what my strength might be. I can scan a room and get a feel for who might have a future in wrestling. If I say to one of the boys about slacking off, and things they need to watch. That’s the stuff I’m good at. Making sure people are conducting themselves properly in wrestling”

Eat yer greens, practice yer arm drags and dae yer squats or Operation Rudowolf is gonnae EAT ye!

“Young wrestlers and trainee wrestlers think you make the transition from trainee to wrestler overnight. Its never as simple as that. Especially in this day and age where so many are looking to impress. There’s nothing to gain from moaning about not getting opportunities. You have to go out and earn them”

There are opportunities in house for the trainees, with the more established ones being used regularly on the Wrestling Experience Scotland shows that Rudo and the school run, but there is also regular £5 wrestling shows at The Asylum showcasing the best up and comers the school has to offer as well. If you’re good enough the work is there.

“Everybody has the chance to develop but you should always be training. If you’re at a point where you aren’t working every weekend, you have to keep at it. Back in 2008 and 2009, I’d have loved for us to have a place like this. If we had a place like this we’d have all developed at a faster pace. Occasionally established wrestlers will train here.

“WEEEELLLLL… ITS A BIG SCHOOL. ITS A BIG SCHOOL CALLED THE ASYLUM

“We offer them the 5 pound wrestling shows but theres so many wrestlers here now its hard to even get on those shows. Its a competitive environment. Different schools offer different ways of training and some people are better suited to a more regimented program like Source, or maybe a bit more relaxed like the way PBW do it. Where its not so heavily structured”

At this point Jack Jester entered the room we were conducting the interview in and started scrannin a smoked sausage out the packet. An example of the type of dedication you’ll get from the trainers at GPWA. That man has his protein on the go so he could help train the newbies. Dedication.

“Its important to engage with new trainees and see who could struggle. They might need a bit more attention. You need to make sure that they’re comfortable with anything you’re asking them to do

When we got into the storied history of Rudo and Grado, there was a sense of pride about that particular element of his career. Being able to help get eyes on the product by being the best possible counterpart to the guy who has the attention of not just casual wrestling fans, but your everyday punter. Grado has worked with the best villains wrestling has to offer but Rudo is right up there with the best of them.

“When it comes to Grado, a lot of people take credit for his success, but Grado is the reason Grado has been a success. He developed a character and stuck to his guns and it got over with the crowd. Its hard not to admire that. I think at that point in time, leading in to that show, and probably for about a year following that, you know, he was the top face, I was the top heel, and we done a lot of business everywhere. BCW, PBW, Pavillion, Oran War…etc”


“What happened in Kelvin Brawl. Shit happened to me without me meaning it. The character aspect of what i was doing caught Rab and Greg. It wasnt supposed to be me in that match. I wasn’t meant to be in it. Because I was getting such a big reaction online, they changed it”

The Kelvin Brawl was a 1,000+ sellout at a time where that wasn’t commonplace. Being in the main event, tagging with a Scottish comedy legend in Greg Hemphill is not a feat to be sniffed at. Especially when it was Grado teaming with Rab Florence who would provide the opponents. After all, Rudo was Grado’s counterpoint at that time. The ying to his yang. The wank to his good guy.

“Who else would it be? Its back to Grado and me again. We bounced off one and other quite well and always had good chemistry I felt. We had a match in Aberdeen and I didn’t think it was that good, but it was more just the fact, at the time, it was more of a favour from my perspective. I was using it as a way of trying to ease myself back in to wrestling slowly so that wasnt us at our best but we’ve had some really good matches”

None better than that first match. Super Smokin Thunderbowl in 2012 had Rudo vs Grado as the first half main event for the ICW Title. Grado was red hot at the time, capturing the audiences imagination before they really knew what he could do in the ring with a series of hilarious youtube videos. That match was the perfect introduction and to make it work it needed a great villain. Grado overcame the odds Andy Ruiz Jr style and won the title, leading to wild celebrations. As if the big man had just skelped one in the top corner to win Scotland the World Cup as opposed to winning a wrestling title in The Garage.

It felt special. He was one of them. Rudo is most certainly not one of them and took great pleasure in ordering the match to be re-started later in the night due to a refereeing error. Rudo won the re-started match, and Grado’s moment of glory was erased from history. It was a story that gripped me as a first time fan. You felt Grado’s pain and wanted to see how he’d bounce back. You wanted him to win. To evoke that kind of feeling takes more than just a charismatic good guy. He needed a villain.

“What was special about the first one although Grado had experience, he was still kinda new. It was one of the first times Grado the character had wrestled. I remember after that going to Dallas and saying, we need to do this. We need to have this match. There is no other option. This needs to happen. It would have been mental for them not to go with it. I think that match, and i’m not taking personal credit for anything, but its hard to ignore the fact that match, set off a lot of fireworks around Britain. For various things”

Various things including the documentaries that brought ICW into sharp focus in the public eye. Most would consider Insane Fight Club to be the starting point for it all, but the documentary made by Vice around the time of that first match was the first time we got to see the people behind these characters. The documentary was initially intended to be a bit of a piss-take but they soon realised ICW was nae joke. There was a hint of regret about Rudo when discussing these documentaries, as he chatted about the possibility of him being involved in the first Insane Fight Club.

“The British Wrestler was a good documentary. It was very well made. Being able to pull the drama out that much and put it into a documentary. It was fascinating. For me that led to several other things happening. Rab and Greg came in. Gave us a bit of a rub. I personally think between The British Wrestler and Oran War/Kelvin Brawl was probably the catalyst for Insane Fight Club. Which of course led to the revival of British Wrestling”

His reasons for not wanting to be involved in the first Insane Fight Club documentary are understandable but in hindsight something that is tinged with a bit of regret. Uneasiness at how it might turn out seems silly now that the crew who were involved have been involved in pretty much all the documentaries ICW have produced and are well known amongst the roster but there’s always the future and clearly Rudo has a story worth telling.

“I felt uncomfortable with not knowing how it might turn out. I regret it not because I might have been popular because of it. I regret it because my son will never get to watch that back and see that. So I regret that for that reason”

“Some of the crew that were involved with that were involved with Rogue To Wrestler as well so we have a good relationship with them now. Even when the second one happened I wasn’t around”


“It was just bad timing. It was a shame for my body of work up until that point having been the big villain on the show, or being the champion, but everything big happening I missed. With the Black Label and being the GM and the owner. I was only ever in Glasgow. I never went on the road
other than the very last tour and you’re left thinking ‘why wasnt I doing this the whole time”

That seems to be the only lingering regret though. This run has felt almost cathartic for Rudo and he seems to be enjoying his work more than ever before. The 2019 Square Go briefcase is in his weaponry and he goes in to the Shug’s weekender and integral part of the team. An appearence at Grado’s Big Family Bash at The Pavillion was another highlight as he took on Adam Maxted in front of over 1,000 fans. Finding contentment on a personal level as a dedicated family man has tied in nicely with Rudo returning to doing the thing he loves. His story is proof that you can overcome anything and be whatever you want to be.

“That was success to me. To have completely flipped that. From being a week away from leaving the business, to the point we’ve come to now. I shared it on my FB recently because the post came up. It was me basically saying my time is coming to an end in the business. I really felt that was the case at the time”

“Having overcome such a huge tragedy personally and going on to achieve what we have achieved. We now have a family. My partner attained a qualification is now working in that field. I’ve come back to wrestling and done good things. Its the kind of thing that people might feel inspired by. People would think they’d have never known that. People might have things like that eating them up and they feel like they can never get over it, but they can. You can overcome personal tragedy and thrive after the fact”

Thrive is indeed what Rudo has done. He is living proof that you can go from rock bottom all the way to the top again. He went from a week away from retirement to re-inventing himself and he now stands before you the 2019 Square Go winner. If he can overcome his demons, so can you.

Thank you to Rudo for his time and honesty. Thank you to David J Wilson for helping me get photos together. Also to Brian Battensby for the Wrestlezone pics. Thank you to anyone elses photos I may have used as well. If I’ve no credited you give me a shout.

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.

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.

jestdrewww
“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.”

gpwa

“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.

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“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.”

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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.”

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“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!

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“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 Shug’s House Party 5 – Night Two Review

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Night one was a wrestling show you could show to any wrestling fan in the world and they’d find at least one thing they liked. Class from top to bottom. A big variety bag of wrestling goodness. Night two was the start of the road to the Hydro. New storylines came to the forefront. Journeys came full circle. James Storm came to glass folk and chew bubblegum (and hes all out of bubblegum dang it) and Grado came…………home.

Jeff Jarrett also came for a visit. Essentially given the keys for the night, because Dallas knew keeping a hold of them on his birthday would be a fine way to get his hoose….well…..fuckin wrecked. Double J was there to make sure the fine crockery was locked away in the end cupboard. He was there to put a coaster under any unruly drinks that might have had ideas about staining the good coffee table. He was there to make sure all party-goers conducted themselves in an orderly fashion. Most importantly….he was there to crack a guitar over someones napper. After Dallas introduced Double JJ, had a wee strut with him on the ICW logo, and let the crowd know he was the boss for a night he was presented with a guitar by Chris Toal. Shareen Nanjiani’s very own guitar no less. If Shareen knew what would end up becoming of that guitar she’d bemoan the day she accepted that Ebay bid from “LaToalFamilia88” for a sum total of £6.99 (Inc postage and packing) but the signed photo she chucked in for good measure being used for roach is something we can keep between you and I. She doesn’t need that heartbreak anaw.

BT Gunn vs Kez Evans 

After tappin’ BT’s jaw immediately following his win over Walter, Kez Evans fancied going one better and actually beating his trainer in a match. The chief issue with that is BT Gunn doesn’t take kindly to having his jaw tapped, in fact he prefers to be the jaw tapper rather than the jaw tap-ee so naturally he came out all guns ragin’. Time to teach this rookie a lesson.

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In Glasgow a straight up heider is one of the most effective ways to teach lessons and that is exactly how BT started this off. Fuck yer collar and elba tie up. Fuck a handshake. If someone sneak attacks you mere moments after an Austrian tank has just taken great pleasure in leathering you for 15 minutes, its fair enough to be a bit perturbed at it. BT hit a beauty of a dive followed by some stinging chops before jumping on Kez’s back to ride the pony Happy Gilmore style. We weren’t in Ayr and the Academy is nae race course, but BT was clearly planning to ride this pony all the way to his second win in as many nights.

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I liked this mainly because it never felt like the outcome we ended up with was going to happen. BT was in control for most of it and it felt like routine stuff but as it went on Kez grew more menacing. BT was a whisker away from hitting the TMNT and ending it early doors. But the longer it went, the stronger Kez Evans got. A big clothesline, followed by a nice combo ending in a senton had him looking strong. Looking like the guy who didn’t hesitate to batter his mentor moments after one of the biggest wins of his career.

The rage in BT Gunn continued to be doled out in chop form. Multiple chest shaving chops. Pectoral pounding belters. A diving cutter off the top gave BT a two and once again he looked well in control of his young tormentor. He missed the mark with a dive giving Kez a wee opening to hit a big boot in the corner, but his attempt to go for a package piledriver was thwarted. Instead BT Gunn set him up for the Technodrome DDT. A killer move. Up there with the NAK’s famed Killer Boots for effectiveness. It would certainly have ended this contest if he hit it but Kez wriggled free and nailed BT with a low blow swiftly followed by the package piledriver for the three. 

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If you’d have told Kez Evans at the start of this year he’d wind up beating the Undisputed ICW Champion just one night after he’d beat arguably the biggest name in European wrestling he’d have told you to fuck off, and going on recent form, he’d probably slap ye aboot. BT might not hold all the gold anymore but he’s a bonafide ICW legend and as much as it came from nefarious means, this was a statement from Kez. No more waiting about for the chances to come to him, he’s a part of ICW now and he’s here to fuckin TAKE chances. Even if he needs to put a big dent in his trainer’s chances of reproducing via rapid forearms to the baws. They face each other at the next show on August 26th and there is a more than decent chance BT’s gonnae show up with a trident and straight up murder this upstart but for now? Enjoy the win of your career Kez Evans. You have certainly made a statement

Lionheart wants the shiny belt

Lionheart came out and kept it very short and sweet. He wants the title match at The Hydro. The winner of the nights main event is his. This statement went surprisingly unopposed and he swaggered to the back like the fuckin cock of the walk. The big kahuna. The boss. The future grand slam champion.

Kings Of Catch vs The Hunter Brothers

The Kings Of Catch will have been gutted not to be involved in a tag title match over the course of this weekend but I think the way it panned out suited everyone. We didn’t have a multi team match where it all gets a bit messy and it feels like some of the people involved don’t really get into it much. Instead we got a brilliant match for the titles on night one, and this cracker on night two, which wasn’t officially a number one contenders match but it pretty much was. A massive opportunity for The Hunter Brothers to make a big impression in ICW after some impressive showings so far. Even if they didn’t manage the win one thing you were absolutely guaranteed is a top quality tag match. That’s what they do.

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It’s also a talent of the Kings Of Catch but another talent they possess is being conniving bastards. Lewis Girvan offered his hand to Jim Hunter as he had to Sam Barbour the night before, but he saw through the ruse, accepting the handshake only to immediately reverse the armbar Girvan put in after. It was the polar opposite to the title match the night before and that’s what makes the tag divison so intriguing right now. So many different styles. This was all slick tags and double team goodness early on before The Kings isolated Jim Hunter with a combination of slick teamwork, tomfoolery and sentons. Finally Lee saw some action as he caught a roastin hot tag, taking both kings out with a moonsault before hitting Aspen with a lariat to the back followed by a slick German suplex. The Hunter’s bringing their very best on what was their biggest match in ICW to date. If the tag division is going to have more focus put on it going forward, The Hunter Brothers were out to make sure they’d be a big part of that.

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A rollup from The Hunters was broken up by a top rope double stomp, one of the more exciting ways a pin attempt has ever been broken up I imagine, before Aspen hit a powerbomb straight in to a knee to the coupon before he found himself on the sare end of a pouncing DDT. The gid wrestling was coming at you thick and fast in this one as The Kings busted out something special right after. Essentially the 3D but Girvan hitting the cutter springboard style for a near fall. They were looking for some kind of mad double team move on the apron that would have no doubt been heavy stunnin but instead they wound up heavy stunned when some evasive action from The Hunters saw Aspen accidentally hit a senton on his partner, immediately followed by Jim hitting a DDT as he came back in the ring. Moves that happen simultaneously when folk are entering the ring are the best moves.

They then somehow combined a brainbuster type manoeuvre with the other yin hitting a superkick at the same time. It was lovely stuff, as was pretty much all the stuff both teams done in this one but The Kings are out for the belts. Losing matches that aren’t even officially for the number one contendership is not the way to turn belts from belts you covet, in to belts you own. Double superkicks to both Hunters, before the Hunters became eh….The Hunted? The defeated? The deid? They took the Apter Burner is what I’m trying to say here and The Kings Of Catch took the win. 

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They took to the mic after to bemoan the fact that they weren’t in the mix for the title. They’ve been here every show. Putting in performances. Superkicking folk. Being a pair of cheeky bastards. Back in the good auld days some good old-fashioned hard work and wee bit of cheek got you everywhere. Now? With yer millenials all over the shop with their ipads and their berets? It gets ye naeplace. They were stopped in their tracks by RENFREW OUTTA NOWHERE cracking them with a chair before telling them him and a partner of his choosing would face the kings at the next show. Who’s his partner gonnae be I wonder? BT Gunn pulling double duty to reform the NAK? Kieran Kelly? The return of “The Teen Sensation” Christopher? Get tickets to the August 26th show and find out! 

Andy Wild vs Jody Fleisch

Matches like this helped make this weekender so enjoyable. High quality wrestling matches without a huge amount of emotional investment involved. They don’t have bad blood. There was nae “feud” here. It was just two guys who somehow haven’t crossed paths in wrestling before having a right good match. It stops you winding up absolutely devoid of energy when the main event comes along when there are matches you can just enjoy as matches. Wild has been on song for a while and has fully embraced the new him. The bruiser who moves like a cruiser. The man with the van and a decent tan. In there with the OG of British Wrestling. A right good time for all involved.

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They jockeyed for position early on before coming to a stalemate. Leaving the crowd in no doubt that they are both heavy good at the wrestling. Wild busted out a butterfly suplex before Fleisch took it to the outside, dropkicking Wild off the apron before hitting a beautiful crossbody as captured above by the incomparable David J Wilson. Look at that photo, look at they reactions, folk in awe at the flying Londonder about to land on the adopted Fifer. Lovely.

For some reason Jody Fleisch wound up picking up a leather jacket and hitting Wild with it, giving a whole new meaning to “leathering” yer opponent. Absolute thuggery so it was. Jody’s on a fast track to being in this year’s King Of Insanity match if he keeps on with that hardcore carry on. Terry Funk would be turning in his…eh…bed…if he seen the lengths this man was willing to go to for the win. He got Andy Wild up for a scoop slam right after. They nailed each other with mad forearms, multiple jabs before Fliesch went up top to end it with a moonsault. With that attempt evaded, Wild still had to contend with the Spanish fly for a two count before he hit the sitout powerbomb to seal an important win as he continues to build momentum. 

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Jody had a cracker with Aaron Echo on night two last year and this was another good yin. Would love to see him in a right good feud for the Zero-G. He is a legend and a big name to have on your show but fuck the legend patter. That would suggest he’s past his best when the evidence in the ring suggest that’s a lot of shite. He’s never been better and is yet to have anything anywhere near a bad match since he became an ICW regular. As for Andy Wild, sky’s the fuckin limit big man. He has a following and seems more focused than ever. Both men will no doubt be after that Zero-G belt. Maybe even the big yin.

Jeff Jarrett makes a match

Jarrett appeared for the second time of the night and he was in the mood to make him a wee match. After teaching us all how to spell his name, the law around these parts appeared to set a few things straight. The bold yin. Just Justice Jackie Polo. Double J exchanging barbs with Double J, JP. There’s no been that many J’s in the same room since Snoop Dogg’s last birthday party. Just Justice was out to demand a match at the “02 Sportatorium” (this wasnt no armoury thats for true) and that match was to be a rematch with the man who defeated him the night before. His perennial enemy Lionheart. After firing out some patter about the snugness of Jackie’s beautiful white jeans, Double J announced that he had different plans for Jackie.

His opponent was actually a dealbreaker in Double J even appearing at the show at all. A man who Jarrett counts as one of his closest friends in wrestling. A man whose name has become synonymous with ICW over the years, but a man whose relationship with the company ended on strange terms. He went out as a baddie who got his comeuppance. A role that entertained me personally but truthfully just never fitted him. That’s not who Grado is. The reaction he got here? The joy on his face and the joy that came pouring out of pretty much everyone in attendance when his music hit? That’s what he does. Gone was all the uncertainty. Gone was any notion that Grado isn’t a talent to be cherished. It was almost like the reset button had been hit and no one was interested in fucking TNA anymore. No one was interested in booing. It was almost like folk actually woke up and realised this is the guy who shifts tickets to normal folk. The guy who bridges the gap. This is the guy the taxi driver mentions when you tell them you’re going to wrestling show in Glasgow. This is the guy I heard my maw pishin herself laughing at when she watched the first part of the first episode of WoS and he spoke about how he walks his dug instead of going to the gym. Yer maw, yer granny, yer best pal. At his brilliant best there’s no conceivable way to dislike him when he’s doing his thing. This is pure joy in a shiny singlet and I hope he never goes away again because he BELONGS in ICW. They were mutually integral in each other’s growth and ye know what? They need each other. Simple as that. Welcome home.

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Grado vs Just Justice Jackie Polo

This being the match just made sense for so many reasons. It was the best way to use Jarrett as he is genuinely pals with Grado, and a great way to get Grado in the ring with an opponent he has always had a lot of chemistry with. It also gave Polo the chance to go line for line in a promo war with one of his heroes. Even having the highest of honours bestowed upon him to finish the match off but we’ll get to that in due course eh. Patience ffs. If you waited a full year for a Grado match in ICW ye can wait another paragraph to see how it finished up. Calm it.

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Grado emerged to a thunderous reaction. Proper earth shattering, smile inducing, heavy gid shit. Nae word of a lie when I first started going to ICW shows and I was bad mentally, I’d look forward to Grado coming out because it was impossible not to get into it. It was impossible not to get lost in it. It was relief from the shite. He emerged with the guitar Mark Dallas gave Double J earlier in the night before getting in the ring and saluting all 4 sides of the crowd (one side was just Jeff himself, but he done his bit) and finally facing down his opponent. They both done that wee head tilt Grado done at the Barras before his match with Renfrew when he had a baying NAK mob behind him, the same head tilt Polo imitated before his match with Lionheart at the barras. Rivals in the ring they will always be. In his eyes, Polo MADE Grado after all. But there’s definitely a mutual respect there. A wee bit of scope to have a laugh before the serious business kicked off. A handshake seemed to confirm that respect only for Polo to betray Grado with a boot to the mid section. Crafty.

A procession of scoops followed by Polo taking Grado to the ground and locking him in a variety of effective, no frills holds had Just Justice looking strong. In nae mood to lose two nights in a row that’s for sure. A marquee attraction like ol Just Justice can’t be having any of that. Grado drew in the energy of all the Gradomaniacs and cameback swinging lariats, jabs, chops, a roll n slice attempt was reversed before Grado foiled Jackie’s attempt to spark him out with the mallet. A wee bit of shake, rattle and rolling happened, followed by the bionic elbow to the dial, and the second attempt at the roll and slice did indeed land. Vintage Grado. He should have looked right down the camera lens, planted a kiss on it and gied it “I’M BACK BAYBAAAAAY”  but instead he kept wrestling. A smart move when you’re in a wrestling match right enough. Fair play.

A wee boot brought a two count before Double J emerged. Clearly not too pleased at being told by Just Justice that he would in fact be reporting to him and not vice versa. He picked up that guitar and knocked Jackie stupid with one of the best guitar shots of his illustrious guitar swinging career. This wasn’t just a shot to the dome with a guitar, this was one man joining another man with a guitar in holy matrimony. That guitar is a part of him forever now. Grado decided that was enough to get it done and covered him straight after for the win. No further damage needed. Polo disappeared backstage looking dishevelled, but no doubt had a big smile on his face when he was away from the crowd. It was likely a similar moment to Jake The Snake appearing on raw and putting his snake on Dean Ambrose. He couldn’t help but smile. A personal hero doing their thing. Even if that thing is cracking a big plank of musical wood over your napper.

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Grado insisted Double J wasn’t going anywhere until they had a wee sing song. You cannot book Jeff Jarrett on a show and not get him to sing a wee song ffs. We all wait for that moment when we get to be alone with our significant other. Or maybe just some insignifcant other ye met that night and decided to fire intae with the hope that he/she might have loose morals. The message is the same and they sung it beautifully together. As if The Road Dogg Jesse James wrote with this duet in mind. Wait…whit d’ye mean he didn’t ACTUALLY write it? Why did they base a whole feud on it then? Is it all a lie? 

Welcome fuckin back Grado ma man. Its been far too long.

Aaron Echo vs Jeff Cobb

No doubt they were building towards Echo vs Williams for this show but that will come in due time. This however posed a different sort of challenge for Echo. A world-class athlete and one of the most notable wrestlers on the ‘indies’ coming over for a scrap. A truly unique grappler. Built like Rhyno and wrestles like Kurt Angle. Watched a lot of his matches about a year ago to see what all the fuss was about and the fuss was justified. Based on this match the fuss was definitely justified. It was a huge opportunity for Aaron Echo to prove he could get to that level. With key players pursuing opportunities elsewhere, ICW needs a band of mainstays to do the business every single show. Aaron Echo has been primed and ready to be one of the guys for a while. This was the time to step up and prove it.

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Cobb is a big suplexing machine and a decent way to avoid getting the bejesus suplexed out of you is staying on the move. Back elbows from all angles. Be as difficult a target as possible. With Cobb on the ramp Echo misjudged a move off the top and found himself caught. Undoubtedly shitting himself for the suplex potential on the ramp, but instead Cobb launched Echo clean over the top rope with a Fallaway Slam. As Billy pointed out on commentary, he didn’t even squat for extra leverage. Effortlessly chucked a big unit of a guy clean over his heid. If anyone wasn’t aware of exactly how good Jeff Cobb is, they were quickly brought up to speed. A freak of nature.

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A diving back elbow after a backbreaker got Echo back in about it and he never backed down for a second. As much as Cobb was here to make an impression, this is not his gaff. Aaron Echo’s been knocking on the door for a long time now, and this was his time to announce himself as a big time player. A stalling superplex was another display of Cobb’s raw power before he once again caught Echo coming off the top, this time turning it into a powerslam. He then hit a standing moonsault which is just nuts for a guy his size. Defying gravity, the laws of physics, and the laws of making sense all at once. He hit a mad powerslam variation he uses as his finisher called The Tour Of The Islands (big mans Hawaiian btw) but Echo was not settling for anything other than glory on this night. There would be nae respectful standing ovation in defeat like his match with Jody Fleisch. This yin wouldn’t be another hard luck story.

Rolling forearm from the big man had Jeff seeing stars. Clean connection with the jaw. Emphatic. He immediately hooked him in for a Pumphandle Slam, turning it in to sitout for the one, two, three. A huge moment for Aaron Echo. A win over one of the most recognisable names in independent wrestling and a guy whos just a joy to watch. An excellent match. They showed each other much respect afterwards and that’s nice. Its nice to make pals int it? Big Jeff won’t think its so nice when Echo shows up at his door in Hawaii out his banger looking for a gaff party right enough but such is life eh. 

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Mikey Whiplash talks

Out to explain his actions from the previous night, Whiplash bemoans his lack of focus in recent months. He apologises to Aivil for not having his eye on her concerns or Legion as a whole. He vows to be better. He speaks of his past successes. One of which was ending Red Lightnings reign as ICW Champion 5 years ago. Red Lightning didn’t take too kindly to that and out he came, but with something different in mind to what you might think. He teased the idea of facing Whiplash in the ring again, telling him he could probably beat THIS Whiplash. Confused. Broken physically and mentally from pandering to the “ugly bastards” that make up the ICW crowd. He told them they were too ugly to deserve such a match and instead Mikey should join the Rudo crew. He could be the face of the brand. A new start. He wasn’t having it. Point blank refused and chucked up the Legion sign which is apparently like a red rag to the bulls known as Iestyn Rees and Bram. They all laid into Whiplash with boots before Ravie Davie came out for some unexpected hauners. As much as he hates Bram and Iestyn, cmon tae fuck mate. A raging James Storm awaits. This one wasn’t your battle.

As is customary on seemingly every show where they are within 100 feet of each other, Bram proceeded to boot Davie square in the baws. Saluting him with the double middle finger before embracing James Storm as he approached the ring with homicide on his mind.

James Storm vs Ravie Davie – Texas Death Match

Ravie Davie. The gallus one. Not an ounce of fear in him. Even if you don’t like him, the set of baws he has on him must be respected. Even if they had just been very much disrespected by Storm himself. He takes an absolute battering sometimes. He is thrust into situations that will almost certainly lead to him getting his shit ruined and he still embraces those situations anyway. He embraces them for the moments that he might create if he does overcome the odds. Moments like that blockbuster off The Garage balcony en route to beating Bram. Moments like the coast to coast he hit after Bram had dismantled his eye socket. Moments like stepping out in front of the Barrowlands crowd with James Storm in tow. Ready to fight a couple of big violent bronze statues. For every good moment there’s pain. For every Blockbuster off the balcony, there’s geting pushed off a ladder by your fiance when you’re about to win the biggest match of your life. For every coast to coast, theres Bram relentlessly punching your eye until its barely even visible anymore. So swollen it looks like you’re smuggling golfballs under yer eyelid. For every moment like stepping out in front of the Barrowlands crowd with a tag team legend as your partner, theres a moment like that very same man smashing a beer bottle over your dome and beating the living shite out of you. For no real reason. Just because he can. Even the previous night, Davie tried to et the jump on James Storm and he was brutally floored. Mocked almost. This was a chance to avenge all that shite. All the doings. Getting chucked down a staircase. Fiancee bumped. Cousin Zander cathing a few pastings in the process. This was it. A death match. Objective. Kill a Texan.

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The only issue with that is that the Texan in question has been around a long time and still seems to be breathing. That tells you something in itself. He is essentially the completely opposite to Ravie Davie and something about him has made a veteran of 20+ years fuckin snap. Straight up. A vicious streak has been unleashed and he seemed hell bent on legit killing Davie. Not gaining an emphatic victory, killing the poor cunt fully dead. When a bull rope comes out before anyone’s chucked a jab in anger you know you’re in for a different kind of match. They made their way into the crowd where Davie hit a big senton off one of the many jumpable platforms dotted around the Academy. Fuck knows why this wasn’t a venue ICW ran before because in that regard its rammed with possibilities. They then scudded each other with folk’s beers. James Storm has truly proved his villainy over the course of these two nights because he must have wasted about 100 quid worth of beer. Two whole pints worth in the 02. A disgrace.

He choked Davie with the bull rope again but Davie continued to stay in it. Nailing storm with a Pele kick. before hitting a dive in the corner assisted by a chair that had been previously set up to cause him some critical damage. Then the real villains appeared. I’m no talking about Rudo’s boys. I’m no talking about the NwO. I’m no talking about The Briscoe Brothers. I’m talking about a big bag of thumbtacks. Make no mistake about it, James Storm wanted to hurt Ravie Davie. He wanted him to suffer. He took him up top to hit the Eye Of The Storm through on the tacks but Davie somehow reversed it into a Hurricanrana. His momentum was short lived however, missing a moonsault on to the tacks before Storm finally hit his finisher through a table he’d set up earlier. A valiant fight from Davie but that was the killer blow. Surely. Stay doon for three so this sadistic bastard doesn’t literally kill you.

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He would not yield though. Instead he got himself involved in a gless cheque fight. Irn Bru bottle vs Beer bottle. Storm always seems to get there first in these situations and that’s a learning experience for Davie. A full irn bru bottle vs an empty beer bottle? Storm had connected with Davie’s dome before he was anywhere near connecting with the bru bottle. Too heavy. Not compact enough. Difficult to swing. Next time drop all pretence and just bring a stanley knife. It was a fatal error as Storm tied Davie’s hands with cable ties before taking a handful of tacks and filling Davies mouth up with them. Absolutely boak inducing stuff. Truly brutal. A gub bursting superkick later and it was all over. Perhaps mercifully for Davie. If only that was the end of his suffering for the night but little did he and even James Storm know, it was only just beginning. 

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Storm continued his attack after the match of course. That wasn’t a joke, he really is trying to murder Ravie Davie. Putting 20-30 thumbtacks in someones mouth and kicking them is at the very least an attempt to make eating impossible. How the fuck can someone eat if their mouth is mostly thumbtacks. Zander was the first out to put a stop to the attack, then to everyones surprise Davies real life pal Leyton Buzzard arrived. That made it feel all the more real. The image of his real life best pal so distraught by the kicking he was taking. He had no idea that was just the tip of the iceberg. It would get so, so much worse.

Joe Hendry arrived swinging a chair wildly. Clearing Storm out. He got on the mic and it sounded like a full blown character change was in effect. Buoyed by the respect and cheers he got at the end of the war with Renfrew, Joe was a changed man. A company man. Or….not. He attacked Leyton for insubordination. Not following simple instructions. Acting as a lone wolf. His words were so cutting. So vicious. Egging his apprentice on. DEMANDING he hit his best pal with a chair. Thirsting for it. Joe Hendry wanted Leyton Buzzard, Ravie Davie, Zander and the whole audience to know HE is in control. He controls his assistant. He controls what happens to people outwith ICW. He can make or break you and by the sound of his words he’s out to do a lot more breaking than making. He wanted Leyton to learn a lesson the hardest way possible and he reluctantly did hit a defenceless Davie with the chair. Freed from the cable-ties by Joe initially but frozen to the spot with exhaustion. He urged Leyton to do it for the sake of his career and Davies. Joe threatened to blackball them both. It was the only way. He carried out a frenzied beat down, not even realising Joe had left the ring before he stopped and looked at his pals in horror. What have I done? Happy with his nights work Joe disappeared, and Leyton left through the crowd. Broken.

Viper vs Martina vs Kasey – ICW Womens Title Match

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Viper will have been a perturbed that this yin was scheduled right before her man went for the men’s title in the main event, with Kay Lee Ray not being involved leaving her free and clear to meddle as she pleases. She will have been even more perturbed when The Wee Man, now managing Kasey, got on the mic to praise her abilities as a standard-bearer for the women’s division while also telling the crowd that it was a “fuckin cobra” in her entrance video. A revelation that had everyone in the ring having to stifle a mad bout of the giggles. Not to say they are done with ICW but with Rampage and Ashton Smith both being handed big opportunities elsewhere, putting The Wee Man with Kasey is a bit of a masterstroke. Leaving her to focus on impressing in the ring while the best hype man in Scottish Wrestling does his thing on the mic. Triple threat matches always have the capacity to be a bit shite, but so does every match I suppose. Sometimes matches are just shite. This was not.

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Viper started out with mad scoops and a Viper Driver, sensing that she had to come out swingin before the Irish alliance joined forces to try to take her down. Martina hit a beauty of a suicide dive as they took the action outside before Viper again put paid to any kind of double team carry on by reversing a double suplex attempt in to her own form of double suplex. Martina was then whipped towards a waiting Viper in the corner for her version of the Bronco Buster which is paints quite a vivid picture when it’s referred to as “The Yeast Infection”, only for Viper to continue to keep the troublesome Irish pair at bay with a double crossbody. Back on the outside Viper hit a cannonball on to both her opponents and a team of security guards who made the mistake of hosting their weekly game of switch at ringside during a match. I know yees love a good game of cairds boays but this was hardly the time for it. Another double move, this time a double back suplex kept Viper in the ascendancy. Never leaving her two opponents to battle it out one on one. If anyone was taking her belt they’d at the very least need to go through her first.

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A Viper Driver on Martina was quickly followed by Kasey hitting that running knee called The Killing Joke a few times but when that failed to put Viper away she went to her go to. Polo goes for the mallet. Jester goes for the corkscrew. Sha Samuels goes for a pint and a bag of pork scratchings. Kasey goes for the bat. Its part of who she is now, but she didn’t count on a mad Italian burd lurking under the the ring to skelp her sideyways. Aiivil emerged to fight Kasey all the way to the back, starting what will no doubt be an excellent feud between them but also taking Kasey out of the equation and ending her quest to become a three time champ, leaving Viper to hit Martina with the Viper Driver to retain that shiny belt.

Very entertaining match right enough. I’m a bit buzzin to see how Kasey and Aivil develops and for Viper, it was a hard fought defence at a time where she really didn’t want it. Should’ve slipped Double J a score and fired him that “put me on first eh big man” wink so she could be as present as possible for husband’s big match but no to worry eh. I think he ended up doing awrite.

Stevie Boy vs DCT – ICW World Title Match

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If you sat these two down three years ago and told them they’d be in the main event for the ICW World Title in three years time they have probably went “How the fuck dae you know? have they finally perfected time travel? Did Trump win the election? How many times have The Gzrs won the tag titles? We have so many questions! Where’s yer DeLorean parked?” but here they were. Its been a remarkable ascent for them both but a true testimony to where a bit of hard graft can get you. So many who started training around the time when Stevie did don’t even wrestle anymore. Many more have settled for mediocrity. Wrestling as a hobby. Similarly quirky characters of DCT’s ilk never shake that quirkyness off. They become the quirk. It defines them and their careers going forward. DCT knew there was more for him. DCT stepped in front of the buzzsaw known as Bram and took an almighty doing to prove he was more than a moustache. More than a sex hero with a densely stamped passport. Neither of them were really supposed to be here and that’s what made this truly special. A main event born and raised in ICW. These guys grew up in this company. They had their first taste of main event spots in this company when they tore the house down at Spacebaws. Now this was THEIR time. They got to close the weekender and they fucking delivered. Streamers rained down as they entered the ring for a match that would change the course of their careers. Loser leaves. Winner wins the big yin.

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Kay Lee Ray appeared on the ramp looking menacing. Immediately drawing DCT’s eye off the champ, but it was another top quallity ruse as she launched a chair at Coach Trip and with DCT distracted, Stevie got fired right in. He clearly had a plan of action and the objective of that plan was to remain a citizen of the UK by the time its finished, as well as the ICW World Champion. He accidentally dropkicked his burd, an act of accidental betrayal that was met with the  “Stevie’s on the couch!” chant that usually happens when he accidentally clashes with her. Finally down to a one on one fight they exchanged brutal forearms. On his way to earning this title match DCT has proved he has a capacity to absorb pain like few others. Surviving a brutal Number One contenders match with Renfrew before stepping in to face Stevie in the main event that very same night as BT Gunn couldn’t compete. That night made him in ICW and he hasn’t looked back since. Gone were the days of him not being taken seriously. He proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he could fuckin fight and in ICW that’s half the battle when it comes to winning the big belt and keeping a hold of it. He dished out all the lariats, back elbows and splashes to get back in the ascendancy, even looking for the win early on with a beautifu facial for a two count, only for Kay Lee Ray to fire Coach Trip in harms way at ring side. Stopping DCT in his tracks long enough for Stevie to nail a dive on them both. There might be new music on the go, but Stevie Boy was out to show he still dominates the fuckin world (RIP Stevie’s auld music. Gone but never forgotten)

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Kay Lee Ray got involved once more but was taken out by a resurgent DCT. Only way he’s leaving the UK after this yin is if the wife has him booked on a celbratory cruise roon the Maldives or suhin. He knew if he fucked this chance up it might not come round again too quickly so he was as focussed as he’s ever been. He even hit Stevie’s very own move, breaking out the Destoryer for a two count that was as much mental warfare as it was physical. Stevie’s own version also didn’t get the job done after a chair being set up in the ring had led to DCT using it as a launchpad for a beautiful lungblower (had nae idea it was called this but Billy uses it on commentary and it sounds a lot fuckin better than “double knees to the ribs n that, looks sare”)
Viper had finally seen enough of Kay Lee’s meddling and hobbled out to provide matrimonial hauners, only for the Kings Of Catch to once again prove pivotal in proccedings. Intervening eventually but only after Stevie had crashed through a table that he previously set up on the outside. Kay Lee Ray set out handing out a whole load of superkicks, only for Coach Trip, who had previously taken one right on the jaw to bust one out of his own, rolling back the years to set the example his charge needed to go on and win the big yin. Like when Ale Ferguson chucked that teacup at Beckham and he single handedly won the World Cup for Real Madrid. Or suhin like that. Stevie capitalised on the Kings involvement to go for a second, no doubt fatal Destroyer but DCT rolled through it and instead delivered a second facial, this time it was a messy one, gettin all up in Stevie’s face (sorry) in his eyes n everything but he managed to kick out at 2. The figure 4 that made Davey tap at Shug’s the previous year was locked in as DCT looked to turn the screw, but Stevie managed to reverse it aided by Kay Lee and we were back to square one.

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It was all a bit chaotic at the end up, which had tended to put things in Stevies favour in the past. He had the numbers advantage and when the Kings hit Viper with the Apter Burner after she’d nailed Kay Lee with the Viper Driver they well and truly had the numbers in their favour.  Put yer passport away Stevie ma man. You’re no going anywhere. Coach Trip heroically climbed in there in an attempt to at least distract the Kings and he foiled their Apter Burner attempt on him, leaving Viper to hit a cannonball off the apron to clean pretty much everyone apart from the two guys fighting for that coveted slab of sexy gold. The way it always should have been. One on one. Mano e mano. Destroyer vs Facial. Stevie vs Davey (Campbell Thomson). If you did sit them down three years prior to this to tell them they’d be the main event in three years time, they would probably have believed it because they’ve always backed themselves. Even when it wasn’t easy to do so. Other folk might not have believed it but they were the ones putting in the work and on this evidence its a spot they were very much suited to. Born for it. For the last few minutes this war was all about them.

They scudded each other daft with all sorts of strikes, DCT gaining the upper hand befor Stevie hit a stonker of a superkick. Stevie’s attempt to get a chair involved again was thwarted by a sickening lowblow from DCT. Another aspect he’s proven more than capable of has been utilising the dirty tactics when he’s needed to. Sometimes you need to fight fire with fire. There’s nae prizes for being clean cut and by the book in ICW and judging by his International Sex Hero days (and the fact that his finish is called the fuckin facial) yer man’s no stranger to getting down and dirty. His attempt at the electric chair drop was actually not that at all, instead he dropped Stevie and hit a German before clearing Kay Lee off the apron as she attempted to get in about it again., DCT had fuckin done it. A facial finish for the win. Just as god intended. One, two, three. Wait….haud on. That means……Stevie’s fuckin….aw naw. Stevie’s gone.

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One man’s elation was another man’s heartbreak. The thing that will hurt Stevie even more is that he essentially done this to himself. It was him who originally set the stipulation that if DCT lost he was gone and his actions after that made Dallas change it to a loser leaves match. Christ knows if Stevie is actually going somewhere, he certainly deserves it if this means he’s off to chase an opportunity somewhere, but as a big fan of his work it was a gutter to see him vanish up that ramp without that title he worked so hard to finally get. It felt like there was more to come from his run. Take absolutely nothing away from the victor though. A man whose initiation in ICW came with him being eliminated from his first two Square Go’s by a single Renfrew chop, and his first brush with an ICW Champion led to him being mercilessly whipped with a belt at the hands of Jack Jester. He’s no ones whipping boy now. He is the fuckin guy and he’s determined to be the guy who steps out with that glorious new belt at the Hydro. No matter if its Lionheart or some other new and exciting challenge, you’ll need to go through a guy who’s went through hell to get that belt and prove his worth. DCT. ICW World Heavyweight Champion. Living the dream

Big thanks as always to David J Wilson for the wonderful photos. 

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 In The Asylum With Mark Dallas

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Mark Dallas started ICW with little more than the clothes on his back and brother, he had a dream. A dream that one day this wee wrestling company from Maryhill, Glasgow would get to the stage where the people who work there ply their trade in the wrestling business full-time. Its been a right bendy road at times. Anything worth having in life tends to kick you in the teeth a few times before you eventually get it, but three years in a row running a triumphant beauty of a building like the Hydro would suggest ICW are doing just fine. Better than fine. The fact that Dallas was running about stressed while looking for turnbuckle pads when I showed up to interview him is a wee insight as to how far this has all came. Think about it, I went to a building that exists purely as ICWs office and GPWA’s training school to interview Dallas, where he works full-time as a wrestling promoter, and his first stressor of the day was trying to find one of the turnbuckle pads he owns and stores in ICW’s very own HQ. If you told Mark Dallas in 2006 that by 2018 an inability to find some of the many ICW branded turnbuckle pads he owns would be a real problem, he’d probably have laughed at you.DallasThing

Or maybe he’d just nod and go “fuckin right” because having that conviction you’ll get there one day is a big part of building a succesful venture from the ground up. If you don’t believe in your own vision, how can you expect anyone else to? He did find those turnbuckle pads eventually with the help of Ravie Davie, who stoated into the building shortly after me to record a promo video with Dallas and Jack Jester for a reality show they’re filming in the coming months. Turnbuckle pads, reality shows, a roof office with a pool table and a signed Bill Murray poster amongst other trinkets of feelgood shit. Walking through The Asylum was eye-opening before Mark even broke breath to me for the interview itself. ICW is no longer just an independent wrestling promotion. Its a workplace. It had grown exponentially even since I last went there to do an interview 2 and a half years ago. Considering the humble, at times chaotic beginnings the company had, its remarkable to see.

“We’ve learned from the ground up. There wasn’t really any great role model in the promoting side when I started. I was 21 or 22. So I had to learn on the job. I’m meant to be the guy that knows the way to do things, when promoters are generally double my age. So we had to learn from scratch. Our most recent Fight Club show is a prime example of how that’s helped us. A lot of things went wrong, yet you can’t watch that show tell me it’s not a good show. It was madness at times. Wolfgangs ran out about 10 times to batter folk. Reds running about aw err the gaff cutting promos calling people bints (and bastards). It felt like an old ICW show, it was fuckin mental. People were getting injured and things just had to get changed on the fly. And it felt good to come through in difficult circumstances and pull out a great show, it’s a testament to the character in the locker room. Theres a buzz about it now and its great to see. Its going in the right direction, and as much as it’s hard work, we’ll get there”

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With the emphasis firmly on bringing through new talent and giving opportunities further up the card for some of ICW’s mainstays, there’s very much a fresh feeling about ICW right now, meshed with a large dose of that unpredictablity that made ICW such a force in the first place.

“I think we’re finding our groove again, and we’re back in to just doing what we set out to do and not worrying about what other people are doing. That being storyline driven stuff, and building to the bigger matches on the big shows. Giving people what they want to see, but also making people care about it. Instead of just saying “here’s this indie guy vs this indie guy” and that being that. No reason for it whatsoever other than shit like “aw this guy does 16 great reversals…awesome”. Thats not what we do. Our stuff is more like “I want to see this guy fight this guy because he shagged his sister…they’re gonnae go to war” that’s fuckin wrestling mate”

Each to their own and all that, but there’s a reason the Attitude Era is so fondly remembered. Even if watching some of it back can be uncomfortable and at times a lot shiter than you remember, it made you care. The stories pushed peoples buttons and made them favour WWE’s product over the bigger marquee names WCW had to offer. It’s a philosophy at least in wrestling aimed at an adult audience that will never change, as Dallas went on to explain while firing balls around his luscious (recently re-turfed) green pool table. “Don’t get me wrong at all, its awrite bringing a big name in for one match and selling a show off the back of that. I’m sure the matches are good, but I’m running a city where I want the fans to come back again and again. The fact that we’re Scottish sometimes comes into folk’s thinking as well. We’re seen as less relevant because we’re up in this wee country in a wee corner of the world and its bullshit. Barramania this year is a prime example of ICW standing tall and showing people what we’re all about. That showed you all the talent that’s now rising to main event status, and the talent underneath that’s coming through that’ll help us get to that next level again.”

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Keeping it storyline driven means rewarding your long-term fans. Their investment makes companies like ICW tick and that’s how people like Stevie Boy and DCT end up rising to the top of the pack. The fans have seen every step of their journey to the top and it has been rewarded by Dallas giving them main event slot on Shug’s Night Two. Considering both of them shared their first ICW main event’s as singles wrestlers at Spacebaws many moons ago, it’s a sign of the forward thinking philosophy ICW has adopted that the match up will be repeated with so much more importance attached to it. Stevie defending his recently captured ICW Title against DCT.

“I think that match is something that shows the way forward for ICW. Here are two people owning the main event. Making themselves main eventers. I think the overall night DCT had at the last Fight Club taping made him a main eventer. It’s not that he didn’t have the credentials before, that was just him showing people he’s a force to be reckoned with in ICW. Thats an ICW wrestler if there ever was one. He knows how to get the crowd behind him. Knows how to have a great match, and he knows how to get everyone believing in him. I think he’s very very underrated in pro wrestling. I’ve never heard a crowd not shout “oh” when he comes out”

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Stevie’s journey has been a remarkable one. Still only in his mid 20s, yet with more experience than most of his peers and an enviable ability to adapt and grow as a performer.

“Stevie’s become the man. That’s another guy who started with ICW when he was very young. So young we had to sneak him in the nightclubs we used to run back in the day because he was too young to be in them legally. Him, Noam Dar and Davey Boy were all the same. He’s grown up in ICW and now he’s the fucking man. He’s got his own crew, his own coll faction that everyone seems to be right behind. Everything’s clicking for him and these two motherfuckers at their peak are going to collide in the Main Event of Night Two with the ICW Title on the line”

“It’s an opportunity to shake things up and inject a bit of new life into the company. A lot of these guys have been here for a long time but they’re still very young. I think that blows peoples minds sometimes. A guy like a Stevie Boy is 26, 27 years old. Lewis Girvan is another one around 24-25. With the talent going away to do different things, it’s opened up spaces for other talented people to take. Obviously in some cases its big shoes for people to fill and it might take them a bit of time to get there, however that’s always the challenge. Thats what you need to do. Slow and steady wins the race as they say and I’m sure they’ll get there”

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Get there just like Noam Dar (any excuse to use this nice wee photie btw, pals bein pals…cannae whack it wae a tenny racket) and many others have over the past few years. Talented people who have grown as performers on ICW’s platform before going on to take up opportunities with WWE and ITV’s WoS. A subject people love ‘debating’ of course but any doubt that performers who take up such opportunities are doing any sort of damage to ICW is quelled by Dallas.

“Its pride for me when I see people who as little as 10 years ago were involved in an industry that was a laughing-stock, compared to what we see now. Now we’ve got guys on mainstream tv, guys going to do panto, going to perform with WWE and WoS. Back then you wouldn’t even think that was a real possibility unless you were somebody who’s built like Drew Galloway, and I for one am over the moon for every single one of them. I know it’s that person that has put in the work to get there but I can’t help but feel a little bit of pride seeing the succeed when ICW was a part of their journey. How can you perform if you don’t have a platform?”

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It was a platform used to perfection by Drew Galloway (pictured above kicking his bosses teeth down his throat) Now back for a second run in WWE looking sharper and more polished than ever before. Drew was already the best Scotland has ever produced before his initial WWE release and return to ICW but since then? Big man’s become one of the very best at this on the planet and re-invented himself in such an emphatic way that you barely even recall the years where he seemed to be stuck in place. ICW’s relationship with WWE, which led to a recent appearance by Triple H at an ICW show in Cardiff, naturally comes under scrutiny from fans and Dave Meltzer alike 😉 but Dallas offers a unique and sensible perspective on it.

“Drew (Galloway) is a prime example of the sort of relationship we have with WWE right now. You see a lot of people going from ICW to WWE and they think it’s a one way street when that’s really not the case. The wrestling business has always been like this. Drews time with WWE came to an end, so he came back here, enhanced his character, made it cooler, then he went back to WWE a bette performer. There’s guys who have gone over to WWE recently who worked with ICW, are they going to stay there forever? No. Hardly anyone stays there forever. If they do it’s an anomaly. You might get 10-15 people. The likes of Shawn Micheals, Undertaker etc. Other than that? It’s a rare thing. Eventually they’ll leave WWE. In the past people would leave WWE aDallasnd it would be highly unlikely that they would ever go back. Now? People can leave WWE, end up somewhere like ICW. Their enhanced status helps ICW draw bigger crowds, they get the chance to work on their character and improve, the people who work with them in ICW get the rub from working with them, they get the chance to alter their persona and maybe become something else in wrestling. Then they’re in a better position to make an impact if WWE bring them back for another run. That’s a thing that will definitely happen but it’s obviously going to take longer than 2 or 3 years”

Trusting the process is something wrestling fans can struggle with at times. Social media has made reacting to things you see so instant and easy, and its often difficult to see the bigger picture. That can lead to folk talking, or the lack of a better term, absolute shite. Wrestling is stories. Some of them are big epic novels, some of them are wee 500 word efforts about a parrot who learned how to swim but refused to teach the other parrots because he identifies as a dolphin

“That’s the thing with social media. Imagine they had that back in the day and you’ve got the Iron Sheikh jumping on Facebook or Twitter after the match saying to Hulk Hogan ‘Thank you for the great match brother. Hope we can do it again soon Hulkster’ Wrestling would never have been anything know what I mean? Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and all that, but the internet gives them the platform to bother everycunt else with it, and that I don’t agree with *laughs* We’re getting to a stage with the internet now where people should be able to differentiate between what’s good and what’s a pile of shite, instead of everything being treated as if it of equal relevance, because some people are absolute fuckin’ gonks…..quote me!” *laughs*

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“This is a long-term plan for the industry as a whole, to create more opportunities for the workers within the industry and in turn for them to be in a position to further their careers and make more money. It’s great to see guys who have been affiliated with ICW like Killain Dain, Aliester Black, Nikki Cross, Drew, Noam etc and they go on TV and do something important, or get recognition. Things like make a difference and shows the world the high quality of talent that comes from ICW and how much working with ICW can help you get to WWE in the first place.”

In recent years Dallas has become something of a celebrity himself. A status that he embraces and why not? When there’s an audience for something you create and take pride in, perform in front of them as much as you can while they want to see it. ICW is Mark Dallas’ bread and butter and always will be as long as people want to see it but the exaggerated version of himself you see on-screen is something else. The fact that his on screen persona being so well-known also enables him to perform on wrestling shows outwith ICW, without the added stress of being the man responsible for that particular show going to plan is a luxury and one he enjoys when the opportunity arises.

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“I am happy with the fact that ive been able to use the name value ICW has given me to pursue things like doing comedy, spoken word shows, and also doing different TV work like Scot Squad. To be honest with you the other wrestling gigs are just…a laugh. It’s great to be able to be part of a show and the only thing I’m doing on that show is the segment I’m booked in. It’s completely different from being a promoter. I can’t speak for what its like compared to actually wrestling on a show, I’m sure there’s a lot of stress involved when it comes to planning your match, but I’m sure also as soon as that match is over your stress is finished, whereas my stress is the from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep on a show day. It’s nice to get away from that and also make a nice bit of money from it in the process”

Performing on show’s geared towards family audiences also gives Mark the chance to perform in front of his young son Danny. With ICW being an 18+ product chances like that have been few and far between over the years so being in that position is one he relishes. In particular this Saturday when Wrestling Experience Scotland run a show in ICWs first ever stomping ground in Maryhill.

“When it comes to the family shows, I like performing in front of children specifically. Seeing kids going crazy and getting excited for what we’re doing is nice. I always get them chanting ‘jobby’ at the bad guy and they’ll go mental. I love stuff like that. If it wasn’t for the fact that we as children grew up watching people like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, and stuff like that then would we end up being adult wrestling fans? I doubt it. I think a lot of people forget that at times and you get things like people saying John Cena should turn heel. Mate, John Cena’s beloved by children all over the world, and when he’s an old man he’ll be remembered for that the same way Hulk Hogan was”

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If being involved in a show at the venue where it all started wasn’t enough excitement, yer man’s whizzing off to see The Rolling Stones afterwards. As ye do.
“I’m buzzin for this Maryhill show because the last time I went to Maryhill it was the bigger hall because with ICW, as there was no way we could run the smaller hall. But the small hall was the first ever ICW arena. With ICW growing as it did, I’ve not had a show in there since about 2010. To be able to go back there 8-9 years later is incredible. Surreal. It’ll be a family show so my son gets to be there as well which is cool as fuck. Him getting to see his Da being involved in a wrestling show is something I love. Its my team vs Red’s team. It’s the two boys from Maryhill, so that aspect comes into it as well. A lot of ICW originals involved as well as the up and coming talent. So its going to be a brilliant experience, it wont just be a normal family show it’ll be a bit like a blast from the past in terms of where ICW came from. There won’t be any alcohol! *laughs* although there will be after because me and Jester are getting absolutely honkin, bouncing in a car and going to see The Rolling Stones at Murrayfield”

I planned on plugging that show in this bit as it’s a stellar card top to bottom but its only went and sold the fuck oot so my advice would be to just mug anyone wearing a wrestling t-shirt over the next few days and see if you get lucky. At the very least you’ll come out of it with a nice new watch and a pair of decent Fila sannies. No belters, but clean enough to wear oot

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That Maryhill show gives Dallas and Red Lightning a chance to showcase their storied rivalry in front of a family audience. A rare chance to bring their unique back and forth to a family show and a true test of their willpower when it comes to not calling each other arseholes and other such slurs not fit for a family audience.

“Red is my arch nemesis We’ll be in our 60s with big heavy beer bellies at a legends show and we’ll waddle oot and start slapping each other and hopefully people still care *laughs*. We are destined to never see eye to eye. It’s the same in real life as well. We’ve known each other a very long time but we still bicker a lot and that definitely comes through when we’re performing. That’s not to say we don’t respect each other. We definitely do, but we also bounce off each other very well whenever we collide. The results speak for themselves when we do and the reactions we get. ”

Perennial enemies with a grudging respect for each other are essential building blocks for any succesful wrestling company. Red Lightning is currently building another army, but this one feels a bit different. This one isn’t geared towards taking over completely, its more to do with gaining power from within and taking as many innocent bystanders down as possible as ICW press on with what has already been a strong year in terms of show quality. The next step is getting more eyes and ears on the new look product, as the company undergoes something of a facelift at the next show. New ICW Fight Club logo to go with a roster with renewed vigour and freshness

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New Logo pictured in the t-shirt Renfrew’s wearing. Also buy that merch. If ye like….merch n that

“For me, ICW has been putting on some of its best shows in a long time this year and it’s just a matter of time until that gets a bit more recognition on a wider scale. We went from being the coolest company in the world to all of a sudden maybe not being so cool, when you’re cool you can do no wrong, but when that goes away a bit you can’t make yourself cool again for love nor money, so as a company we’ve just weathered the storm a bit, whereas most companies in that situation would just bottom out and disappear. Slowly but surely we’ve tweaked things and rebuilt, brought through new talent, but at the same time kept the same ICW mentality where we won’t bow down to people who want us to change. People don’t realise we want you to moan. We don’t want everyone to be happy and holding hands. We want debate. We want you to react”

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“LETS BE AVIN YOU!”

As ICW gears up for another shot at running The Hydro this year, mainstream media exposure is a big target for the company. People talking means tickets shifting and tickets shifting means the new wave of ICW talent get to perform in front of bigger, more enthusiastic crowds.

“With the revitalisation of the roster and the team ethic we’ve built, I’ve noticed over the past year the one thing we’ve been missing that mainstream exposure. Things like the BBC having cameras at the ABC for the documentary (on Viper), so this year there’s been a conscious effort to change that and there’s a bunch of stuff happening in that regard this year. We’re at the point now where ICW is well-known in the UK, especially Scotland so when our name pops up in all these different outlets they already know who we are so yeah…expect to see a lot more ICW in the mainstream media soon as we build towards the Hydro”

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Safe to say The Hydro is never too far from the thinking of those grafting away in the Asylum but for now the big focus is on Shug’s House Party 5. A weekender that Dallas promises will be the best installment of the Shug’s series yet and the way the card’s for both nights are shaping up so far, its hard to argue. As much as ICW have always been built on pushing their own talent to the forefront, there’s always room for those special “imports” that offer something a bit different and Austrian powerhouse Walter certainly comes under that bracket. I heard he met Ted DiBiase Jr once and chopped him so hard yer man literally turned to dust. Think about it, when did you last see that guy anywhere? Exactly. His match up with BT Gunn at Shug’s is one that gets the juices flowing for Dallas both as a promoter, a fan of wrestling and a fan of folk chopping the guts out each other, as he went on to explain

“I’ve been wanting to book Walter for a while but he’s a very in demand performer. I’m happy he was available for this show. People wondered what kind of opponent I’d give him, but for me there only was one opponent. BT Gunn. BT Gunn and Walter had to be the match. I’ve seen him post photos of folk whose chest he’s mangled with they chops and I’m like “cool” *laughs* I’ve seen folk like Fergal Devitt buckle at BT Gunns chops man. We’ve got this big monster Austrian guy coming for one of our own. Its like Rocky, and hes Ivan Drago. In the other corner you’ve got the plucky Scottish guy who’ll fight anycunt. No matter how big they are. And they’re gonna chop the SHIT out each other. Its Rocky 6 mate”

One match that needs no selling is the upcoming battle between Joe Coffey and Mark Coffey. If ever there was a feud that could garner fan investment with ease its former tag partners feuding. It sells itself. Just make the match and watch the zeroes jump on the end of your bank balance. Throw in the fact that they’re brothers and two of the best out there? Its going to be fucking glorious mate. I know. You know it. Dallas knows it

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“For a long time I’ve wanted to see Mark vs Joe. I think it’ll be an epic encounter. Thats not just me giving you hyperbole, I genuinely think for wrestling fans thats going to be a fantastic contest to see. I’ve wanted to do it for a while but there’s always factors stopping it. There are times they’ve not felt the time was right and I’ve agreed with them as they had other things to focus on at the time. Now I just feel like….its ready. It’s a massive thing if Joe takes that belt off his brother, and the same if Mark retains. It matters. Its something special, especially in front of the ICW who’ve seen them grow up in front of them. This crowd has seen them perform since as far back as 2011, maybe 2010 for Joe. That’s a long, long time, and over that time they’ve become two of the best professional wrestlers in the world. Now finally after all these years, they’re finally going to have that match in ICW. ”

Another encounter that sells itself is the potential match-up between “Just Justice” Jackie Polo and Lionheart. After their show stealing match at Barramania, Dallas agreed a follow up match with the victor, a certain Southern gentleman, whose aptitude for good manners is only matched by his aptitude for swagger, who goes by the initials JJJP…only for his potential opponent Lionheart to express no interest in the re-match. Seemingly going through a break down after his Barrowlands defeat. It’s a match that Dallas certainly wants to see as part of the weekender and considering the quality of the match that night, it’s a match fans must be keen to witness as well.

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“My intention as a promoter is always to see matches like that happen. The fans want to see it happen. Main event of night one is where I want to see it. That’s what I think should be the main event. There are people that were really looking forward to the Barrowlands match, and even I expected it to be something special, but honestly, I was still gobsmacked with just how good that match was. I can honestly say it was one of the best matches in ICW history. It seems to be a lot of our best matches have happened in that venue. There’s something special about that building. Hopefully we can talk Lionheart into feeling the same way as everyone else, in that there’s another chapter of this story to be written. If they do clash finally in that main event, all eyes on them, it’ll be something spectacular.”

Everyone tweet Lionheart “shitebag if ye don’t” until he signs on that dotted line.

One man who didn’t need much persuasion to sign on that dotted line is a man who actually wrestled Lionheart once before and a man who JJJP clearly takes a lot of inspiration from. A certain Mr Jeff Jarrett, who will come in as commissioner for Night Two of the showpiece weekender as he comes to the UK for a spoken word tour. All the details of which can be found below in this big poster where Jeff does that clenched fist pose every wrestler has done 1-1000 times in their career

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When Dallas put the call in to Jarrett he was pleasantly surprised by his enthusiasm not only to work with ICW, but to share his knowledge with Dallas as they spent some time shootin the breeze. Chewin the fat about the biz. Engaging in some good ol fashioned shop talk

“He’s doing a spoken word tour in July and I found out he was on a wrestlecon in London on the Sunday so I got in contact with him to see if there was any chance he could get down for Night Two. He said “You know what, for ICW, consider it done” and he found a way he could finish at mid-day to make it down to be the commissioner for night two. He’s flying up from London for it. I got chatting away to him and I think we talked for about 3 hours the first time we talked. I think people underestimate his wrestling mind because its incredible. So just to be able to sit on the phone with him and pick his brains was something special. You tend not to push that kind of chat with legends in wrestling, but when HE wants to talk about that and is asking what ICW’s like and all that its hard not to get carried away. It was a great experience to be able to talk to him for that long and made me think very highly of him. If you look throughout his history in wrestling, he always managed to keep himself prominent somewhere that matters. As a promoter, he invented TNA and made them a very good alternative to WWE at a time where no one else existed”

Alongside Jeff when he did invent TNA was his father Jerry Jarrett. Dallas might be due an invite to the Jarrett’s Christmas dinner this year as he’s set to appear on a podcast with Jerry himself. A man who seems to share Mark’s vision for how wrestling should be done.

“I’m doing a podcast soon with, of all people, Jerry Jarrett. An American podcaster who watches ICW asked me to do it. He wants people to talk to him about booking philosophies and all that kind of stuff and he said he put my name forward. I misunderstood at first and thought he meant himself, but he actually meant Jerry Jarrett put my name forward. That blew my mind. I was like….of course! That whole Memphis style where JJ comes from is something I’ve always admired. Think about it, when you look at the territories, what outlasted everything and continued to draw consistently? It’s the Memphis area. Even if it’s not just the one company, that area has always been somewhere that has drawn consistently well. To this day if they put on a legends show they could still draw 6-7 thousand people easily. Thats something special. A lot of people think my main influence is ECW but in reality it’s that, the attitude era with a wee bit of Memphis in there”

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When asked exactly how much Memphis wrestling influenced ICW, Dallas responded with enthusiasm. An admiration for the way they crafted stories shines through in his own work with ICW as he revealed the three prongs of the booking plug that makes ICW so electric! (wis pure excited when I came up with that metaphor there, if you’re from a country where plugs have more or less than 3 prongs well…kid on yer no)

“Thats my booking soup. ECW, The Attitude Era, and wee bit of Memphis. All 3 were about storylines. Even though Jerry Lawler was the champ about 38 times *laughs* that was always crafted with stories as well. Big bad guy would win the belt, they’d make hin look like a monster and Jerry would take it. It’s a very underrated territory in my eyes. Anyone into the history of wrestling, look at that territory as an example”

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While ICW knocking it out the park consistently in the ring is essential when it comes to drawing big crowds at places like The Hydro (and one day Hampden mate, it’ll happen) mainstream exposure is essential to keep growth steady. A recent venture that’s captured the imagination is Dallas’ latest TV show, the as of yer unnamed BBC show detailed in the photo above. A project Dallas is buzzin to get started with

“Some fans think I’m looking for people to train to be wrestlers when that’s actually not the case at all. If you want to become a legit professional wrestler go to a wrestling school. This is more like a wrestling bootcamp. This is more like a TV show where you get absolute arseholes and you put them through hell. I want good tv. I want the voice over guy to be saying stuff like “Barry from Springburn has kicked off ” and I want Ravie Davie jabbin some trainee. I want arguments. Its going to be one of they shows like when they take all the wee neds and try to scare them straight. I want people just oot the jail. I want troublemakers. I want people who’ve had a troubled past. I want characters. Anyone who thinks this is just going to be the BBC filming a wrestling school and a bunch of wrestlers is missing the point. I want everyone watching this. Maws and Da’s. People who think wrestling is cheesy. I want people in Barlinnie watching this. I want grannies watching it. I want people in their work on a Monday morning to be sitting talking about it. I don’t want just wrestling fans sitting on a forum talking to just each other about how good the show is and how much is respected the business, because only they watched it. Sometimes people don’t see the bigger picture and that what you’re doing is for the greater good for not only ICW but the performers within it”

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Midway through the interview Jack Jester showed up to folk a promo with Dallas and Ravie Davie clarifying what the show was all about and I was personally privelaged to oversee the storyboard process of this promo. Many potential names for the show were chucked about, my personal favourite being “Rapscallion to Wrestler” because the word rapscallion is incredible. Dallas said we could finish the interview after the promo which might take an hour or so and I made the decision to hang about because why the fuck no. I had nothing else on the cards that day and seeing a wee promo happen from behind the scenes was something of genuine interest to me. We see these wee videos go up and the creative process never really crosses your mind. Why would it? Its not supposed to at the end of the day. Its all about how the finished product resonates with the viewer, but the whole process is nae joke. Theres is no half arsery at play here. They do it over and over again until the job is done. On this occasion the job was to clear up any confusion as to what kind of person they’re looking for to take part in this show. They want raspers. Roasters. (W)rong uns. Rogues…and above all….Rapscallions

“They asked us to put posts up about it and I knew it would be all wrestling fans responding. They got about 500 emails about it from wrestling fans so they asked us to put a video up about it so they could put it on their social media. Basically asking us to explain it a bit better. Ravie’s going to be used as an example a lot in this series as a guy that’s had a hard life. A guy thats had trouble with the law. A guy thats had a troubled past. But he’s a guy who’s then turned that round. People think when this guy wins this that he’s on the ICW roster. Nothing could be further from the truth. You’ll maybe get a belt and some bragging rights, but at the end of it you’ll get the opportunity to go and train. One of the prizes will be that opportunity to train and make a career in wrestling if that person chooses. Even if someone turns out to be great, they still need to go and train if they want to do this professionally”

Anyone thinking this show might be an easy way in to the wrestling business has the wrong end of the stick. This is about using wrestling as a means to give someone with a troubled past a bit of purpose. Maybe someone with an attitude problem will have that attitude adjusted, while being taught how to display hustle, loyalty and above all respect at all times. This show isn’t about finding the next Dean Malenko. It’s about finding the next Mike Tyson. Its about finding someone who wouldn’t hesitate for a second to bite your ear clean aff, and perhaps teaching that person biting peoples ears off isn’t big or clever. One thing it most certainly isn’t, is a slap in the face to professional wrestling, as Dallas explained further.

“I don’t want people thinking I don’t have the utmost respect for wrestling because I’m doing a show like this. I’m the worst for putting the fear up people in that regard. (Ravie) Davie will tell ye, I’ll walk thought this training school when there are classes on and give them patter like “out of 30 of you, one 1 will make it!” and all that, and the trainers are telling me not to say that *laughs* but thats how it is. Don’t think I don’t have that old school mentality.”

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From what I gathered as I sat in Mark Dallas’ roof office, overlooking (I was sitting slightly below it so I was literally looking over it) a pool table with some of the most spectacularly woven luscious cloth I’ve ever seen, as we sat among posters from significant ICW events, signed posters of legends of film and the massive trophy Drew Galloway received for going in to the ICW Hall of Fame that he eventually wants sent over to him (As to how that might happen “That big bastard can pay for it to get shipped” I believe was the direct quote, followed by a hearty laugh) the point in it all is to find someone, perhaps several people, who need something to help them turn their lives around. Its designed to be entertaining but perhaps life changing and essentially that’s what ICW is all about at its core. Buy the ticket, take the ride, reach for the fuckin stars.

“There’s a lot of perks from winning it and being seen on television, but whoever wins it will have no advantage over any other trainee and they’ll still need to get to the back of the queue. It’ll be up to them whether they want to do this properly or not. Essentially it’s not really about wrestling, it’s about taking people who have had a troubled life and helping them better themselves. Maybe it’ll help someone be a bit less depressed, or help them if they don’t see their wean enough, or help them if they’ve had troubles with the law and all that. Maybe they take this as an opportuity to make their family proud”

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After recently making ICW’s second ever show “Stop, He’s Already Dead” available on their On Demand service with Dallas and Renfrew providing commentary over the top of it, the feedback recieved has made digging through the archieves a top priority. To know where’re you’re headed, you need to have a right good laugh at where you’ve been as Dallas detailed what kind of thing you might expect from a deeper look at ICWs history

“It is fun watching them (the older shows) back. It’s like watching a toddler book a wrestling show. It was my baby steps as a promoter. Barely able to walk let alone fucking run.. a wrestling show. I crawled a wrestling show *laughs* After you’ve accomplished things it gives you a bit of perspective on those and you’re more able to laugh at it. It makes you think, whenever you’ve got a problem now, just stick one of they old tapes in and you realise it’s nowhere near as bad as that *laughs*. We want to do more of that and go through some of the old ones. There’s footage of ICW’s first match from Fear and Loathing 1. It’s all on cassettes and stuff like that and it needs edited together but we want to do more stuff like that”

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“At least these are the older shows that have footage. Back in the day hardly anyone had DVDs and all that. Scott (Reid) unearthed the first ever ICW match recently and its…..*laughs*.  (At this point Scott poked his head in from the office below and said its fuckin ghastly, which just make me want to see it more) Mike Musso and Damian Diamond in a dog collar match where the top rope breaks is the first ever ICW match. I cannae even begin to imagine how horrendous it’ll be. Me and Renfew will do it but I’d like to have others involved. Maybe Wolfy, Kid Fite, Liam Thomson. People that were around at that time. In fact, why is Liam no daein an online thing for us. Why is Liam Thomson not commentating on these old shows?. There’s an exclusive mate. I want Liam Thomson involved in commentating on these old shows with us at some point”

Any exclusive that means we get more Liam Thomson in our lives is one I am happy to be able to bring to the world.

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As ICW hurtle towards another crack at The Hydro, there’s renewed motivation amongst the whole team to make this the best Hydro show ever. Marketing wise it’s been approached a bit differently, with emotive images from ICW’s history being used to garner interest without outwardly advertising the show details. Simple planting the seed of interest in people’s minds as they wonder just what they’re seeing and how they can see more of it.

“Instead of just doing normal posters with the show details on the, we decided to do a bit more of a digital marketing campaign sort of thing. So the idea was to take these 5 really ghastly photos from ICW’s history and just put the word “Insane Championsip Wrestling – Fear And Loathing” on it and nothing else, so it makes you take notice and you want to look it up and find out more about it. I’ve seen that done with different things around the city, and its a really smart thing, so there’s going to be those five. They posters will go up everywhere around Glasgow over time. When they’re done, there’s going to be a series of posters with images of ICW’s most iconic drinking moments, and they’ll be in black and white, with maybe a wee bit more information about the show, and after that it’ll maybe be a similar style with the match ups that have been signed until that point and they’ll have all the information on it. It’ll be a gradual progression and I want it to subliminally get into people heads. Those five posters we have now are jarring images, to the point that when I put them up in the street, you actually see people stop what they’re doing to look at it. To be honest, they’re pretty fucked up, but I think it’s the attitude of ICW summed up to a tee. By the end of the year we want peole who don’t follow wrestle, who don’t follow ICW to be like “what the fuck is this thing I keep seeing all round the city” and that’s the thinking behind that”

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New marketing campaigns, new logo, music and stage setup for the June 17th Garage show, new talent, new main eventers, and whole new set of challenges. ICW has indeed entered its second era, and the first challenge for this new era is topping the two Hydro shows they’ve put on so far. The next one after that is giving their eras their own names. The catchier the better

“I want this to be the biggest Hydro crowd ever. Certainly bigger than last year, which was nothing to be ashamed of at all. Just over 4000. But this year I want more. Who’s to say we can’t top the first year? Ye never know what’s going to happen between now and The Hydro. The first big names for Hydro. New look, new sound, we’ve got access to this etensive music library and a lot of things are going to be different. The stage will look cool as fuck. Everything is freshened up a bit and geared towards this new era. This is the dawn of a new era. I don’t know what its called mate *laughs* I’ve never ran a company that has gone through a full era. Maybe we’ll just call this the second era, and if we get to a third era cunts might start giving them names *laughs*”

Massive thank you to Mark Dallas for his time on what was a busy day at The Asylum. 

Thank you to David J.Wilson, Warrior Fight Photography, Chelsea Cochrane, Turning Face Photography, and anyone else whos photos I may have used. If you see your photo and its uncredited shoot me a message or sue me if you so wish

To buy tickets for any of the shows mentioned in this interview, or indeed any ICW show you fancy going to, click this link  RIGHT HERE

ICW Square Go 2018 Review

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The Square Go wasn’t in Glasgow last year which is a mad thing when ye think about it. Akin to having a street fight that never leaves the arena, or a falls count anywhere match where the finish happens in the ring, or having a Texas Bull-Rope match that isn’t in Texas and involves a rope that has never touched a bull. Ye know what, maybe its not that mad actually. People from Newcastle are a lot like us and probably are at least aware of what a Square Go actually is even if they might sound a bit daft saying the words. Point is, we were back in Glasgow this year and as great as the show was last year, I dunno. It just felt right. This isnae some American sport where someone can buy a team and move them wherever they want for the fuck of it, this is Glasgow and the Square Go belongs to Glasgow.

While it was a very good show in general the thing I found most enjoyable about it was how it shaped the future and planted so many seeds for what’s to come this year. A lot of talented folk are heading for some big time stuff and that’s just good for the soul is it not? Are we not all fans of this to see talented people succeed? Well, that and complaining. But its one of the top two reasons.

James Storm vs Jack Jester (Winner Faces The ICW Champion At Fight Club Taping The Following Night)

Upon entering the venue a wee bit late, I was greeted with Jack Jester’s music and in turn the front of my jeans was greeted with a stauner. Not a full on rager cause I’d had a few beers by this point and it was awfy cold in the queue, but man alive, yer a lying bastard if you can tell me Jester’s music doesn’t get the juices flowing in yer doonstairs no matter what way your sexual pendulum swings. If there’s some kind of award for entrance music suiting the wrestler down to a fuckin tee, this wrestler and tune combo is taking that award home and probably sticking in some orifice of some kind. Dirty shaggin masquerading as entrance music doesn’t get the job done in the ring right enough (unless “the ring” is what your calling the aforementioned orifice). Especially when you’re getting in amongst it with a legit TNA legend and bad motherfucker in ol Jimmy Storm.

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James Storm is the kind of ‘import’ who automatically connects with ICW for the pure and simple reason that he likes a fuckin’ fight. A wee bit that night at The Garage Hardcore Holly turned up and chopped the living shite out of Renfrew. There’s no pretence. He’s a mad beer tanning cowboy who will stab you with the sharp end of a broken beer bottle (ye see the joke there is….both ends would be…ach you get it) and use the other end to pick bits of his dinner out his teeth, and if you don’t like it, that’s your choice. He’s not going to be anything else. Ever.

Before it became a dirty bar room brawl they did wrestle about a bit. Jester clearly spurred on by getting his face right in amongst that mad strippers diddies at the start, he was busting out hiptosses and allsorts but that patter was never going to last. They were there to drink beer and throw each other into stuff and after a brief trip to the bar, where Jester called a halt to proceedings to order them a round, they tanned them quickly and suddenly the beer was all finished. All that was left to do was scrap as if the dirtiest lassie in the place was on the line and the only way to win her affections was to bring your opponents full set of front teeth to her. Preferably with the jaw still attached. After a suple on the steel ramp, Jester emerged with that big studded dildo that seems to get an inch bigger every time ye see it. A grower not a shower as they say, although he did show it to James Storm’s napper with no hesitation making it (probably) the first time in his long and illustrious career that he’s been skelped between the eyes with a big shiny dildo.

They knackered some poor guy’s crutches as they smashed each other in the crowd. Storm in particular going to town with what I have to admit was a heavy stylish crutch. As crutches go, this one was a sleek all black belter of a thing. Perfect to aid walking and perfect to aid its user in getting good lookin folk to touch their fun parts. Storm sent Jester heid first into a chair as they got back to the ring, before busting out all sorts of slick wrestling, ending in a gorgeous pouncing neckbreaker. Storm was showing everyone who might have doubted hi that he’s not done and he wasn’t showing up in ICW for a wee payday and a good time. He was there to make an impression, and what a mighty fine one he did. Ending an entertaining bit of hardcore fun with an Airplane Spin through a table to pin Jester and earn an ICW Undisputed Title shot the following night. 

Jester has very much wanted that title back ever since Drew Galloway ripped it from his grasp over three years ago so any opportunity to do that is a big deal. This wasn’t a wee bit of fun with a game as fuck “import”, this was a chance to get back to where he wants to be in ICW and in turn, wrestling in general. So when big Sha came out to console his Kinky brother and caught Jester by surprise, its nae big shock that he reacted…shall we say adversely. Mistakenly shoving Sha to the ground before they made their way to the back mid argument. Who knows where that one’s leading eh? A wait and see job if there ever was one. Storm rounded it off with an emotive promo telling the crowd he loved them, and that he still loves professional wrestling. Seemed to indicate he’ll be around for more than just the title match that was due to happen the next night.

Kasey (c) vs Martina – ICW Women’s Title Match

Martina is one of the most talked about wrestlers in the UK. Her character and style is unique and people either love it (most human people) or hate it (some very very lonely people who have never concealed a condom anywhere on their person or felt the pure joy that comes with possessing a bag of cans, in there clattering aboot, getting acclimated with each other before they join forces once again in yer body later on) but everyone has something to say about it. Everywhere else Martina is pure joy and if you don’t like it, she’ll probably ignore you, continue to tan cans and dance about like someone slipped a fistful of eccies in her cheerios. When she turned in to “Bad Moth” as part of Fear and Loathing X at The Hydro, turning on Ravie Davie and joining forces with Bram, it was bold. Both from the company and Martina herself. On the evidence of this match, the bold move has paid off. A wee bit like Sami Zayn since he turned into a baddie in WWE, she almost plays an embittered version of her usual character. The hallmarks are still there. There’s still a can, that can is still accompanied by dancing, but in true villainous fashion the can was a LIGHT BEER and the dancing was SUBDUED to the say the least. The crowd was aghast at the transformation as Martina The Moody Moth took to the ring to go after Kasey’s title.

Felt for Kasey because a big part of this match beingSQGOHSTRAND really fucking good was her being a tremendous wrestler and really bringing the very best out of Martina in the ring. Kasey is brilliant and if ICW done awards this year, she would undoubtedly be a massive shout for breakout star. It was a shame to see her second reign end so soon, and hopefully it’s not her last. Folk who think her character means Martina’s a shite wrestler are the same insufferable dafties who think the same about Grado. A wee Japanese Arm Drag took the crowd and Kasey by surprise as Martina took full advantage of being a right baddie to bust out some slick wrestling. Everything Kasey done was predictably flawless as she strung together a back elbow, a dropkick then a crossbody from the top rope to take control of the match but Martina nearly had it won when she drove both knees into Kasey’s chest followed by a Triangle Choke.

Kasey battled out of it before hitting the running knee she calls “The Killing Joke” to seemingly bring it to an end but it’s not that simple when Rudo’s about is it. Red Lightning rose up from his commentary position like a majestic meddling pheonix to pull referee Sean McLaughlin out the ring just long enough for Iestyn Rees to enter the ring and literally hauf Kasey in two with a spear. So brutal even if she did manage to retain the belt it would have been hard to fasten it with the champion’s waist no longer attached the rest of her body but Martina covered her after that and become ICW Women’s Champion. 

Red then held Kasey in position so Martin could clatter her with the belt, followed by a tombstone. Step one in Rudo’s new axis of evil’s attempt to take over. One night. Martina wins the Women’s Title. Bram wins the Undisputed. Iestyn wins the Square Go, and him and Bram pass the title about like a joint at a hoose party, both becoming 150 time ICW Champions with Red refereeing every match with that smug smile on his coupon as the feverishly raging paying audience are kept at bay by a pack of rabid German Shepherds wearing bandana’s that say “Rudo 4 lyf” on them. Point is, good match so it was. Just a wee defence against Viper to kick Martina’s reign off 24 hours later. Nice easy one to kick it off 😉

Below is a picture of said belt shot, which happened at the very same time as Red Lightning trying to heider an invisible bee

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Rampage Brown and Ashton Smith (c) vs The Purge – ICW Tag Team Title Match

I dunno what this says about me as a person or indeed a wrestling fan but in amongst a very good wrestling show The Wee Man referring to The Purge as “Biker Mice From Largs” was one of my favourite moments of the whole thing. No word of a lie, when The Wee Man first turned villain his promo’s used to grate on me a bit. There’s only so many times you can hear someone talk about all the sweaty virgins in attendance before you look at the sweaty virgin you are deep down inside and you look at that sweaty virgin with great shame. Scornfully judging all the moments where you have indeed been heavy sweaty and not giving a lady the business. Since Davey Blaze and DCT feuded last year however, Wee Man has found a cracking balance between being a fucking out and out bad bastard and also a heavy funny bastard at the same time. Even still when he stoated out at the last Fight Club taping and held Rampage Brown and Asthon Smith up as his newest clients a sceptical brow was raised. Would it work? and if it was gonnae, how? What could a guy like Wee Man add to a team like that to make them MORE frightening and the answer is simply this. Patter. Excellent patter.

The in ring stuff they have absolutely locked down so really all they’ve ever been missing is a liberal helping of gid patter. The Purge did offer decent resistance for the most part and had certainly earned the big match on the big show but they were never taking the titles. Not after Rampage and Asthon had won them so decisively just a few weeks earlier against the team who had made the tag divison their own over the previous 3 years. They did catch Rampage and Ashton cold early on when Stevie James floored them with a suicide dive before they made the smart decision to isolate Ashton as Rampage licked his wounds on the outside. A tranquilizer dart and big fucker of a fishing net was probably what was actually required to keep him out of the equation for longer than a couple of minutes but their gameplan was smart. Keep the guy who fully kills folk with his piledriver as a deadly weapon out of the equation and see what happens.

It was very much a 4 man scrap rather than your traditional tag match which suited the folk involved as both teams got a power of double team stuff in a short amount of time. The Purge with a nice wee combo where Stevie superkicks the opponent in the calf followed by a DDT from Krobar but nothing any tag team can do will ever be as effective as Ashton Smith picking the opponent up and placing him on Rampage’s shoulder as the big man waits on the middle rope ready to murder. A devastating powerslam off the middle rope got the job done. Rampage and Asthton had retained. At this rate you’ll need a firing squad to prize the belts off them. A firing squad who manage to successfully avoid making eye contact with Rampage because rumour has it that if you look directly into his eyes, he can actually piledriver ye with the power of thought alone.

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A hugely impressive team and The Wee Man adds that wee bit of swagger on the mic that might have been the only tool they didn’t previously have at their disposal so these two will be extremely difficult to stop. I mean, there’s nae denying Biker Mice From Largs is some of the finest patter ever dropped in an ICW ring. It was about 9 days ago now and its still raising a chuckle. Always wanted Rampage to have a full time role at ICW and if this is the gig that gets it done, long may it continue. A tremendous talent and a guy who just suits being a champion. The Purge will come again but this was never their night. Any team who can beat what is arguably the most decorated tag team in ICW history in about 3 minutes are a team that are staying at the top for a while. Especially if one of them needs to carry a license for his piledriver because its considered to be a deadly weapon. 

BT Gunn (c) vs Bram – ICW Undisputed Title Match

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No matter what you think of Bram as a human man a fact that has become hugely apparent in ICW of late is that hes a very good professional wrestler. One of the best villains in the world if ye ask me (wait, whit ye mean ye didnae ask? Rude) A lot of that comes from people genuinely hating him but that’s what wrestling is. A fantasy land driven by real emotions. So real hate is a very powerful thing to have on your side as a villain and Bram uses it wonderfully, usually to the benefit of his opponent more than him. BT Gunn was the perfect opponent to fire all sorts of crowd pleasing offence at the wall of bearded evil that was his foe for the night and the end result was a brilliant title match, as is tradition at the Square Go. It’s strange that a night where the title match isn’t supposed to be the main event is the night you are almost guaranteed a classic match with the shiny belt on the line. After an early piledriver attempt was reversed into a slick roll-up, Bram suddenly hit a big senton to the outside. A proper you have to see it to believe it moment, but as David J Wilsons wonderful work above shows us, we did indeed have a flying Bram.

That senton led to Bram taking chairs from the people sitting at ringside and tossing them on top of BT, although being the embodiment of all that is evil, he only took chair’s from people who looked like they might have some kind of disability, or at bestfolk who just had a bit of a stiff back from the day’s exertions. It’s the subtle touches that really makes you a proper baddie. Folk want to focus on the high-profile stuff, the destruction of Ravie Davie’s eye socket and all that jazz, but snatching a chair from someone with a bit of a sare knee is that underrated badness that really makes a villain. You could technically have cried it a TLC match early on as all 4 things (tables, ladder, chairs and healthy supply of moxy) required to make that a thing were involved. Bram set a ladder up with murder in mind only for BT to powerbomb him off the ladder through a table with merch on it causing an immediate 200% mark up on said merch cause it had been powerbombed on. Thats some shit ye could sell for a healthy profit on Ebay right there. BT then decided going up on the wee ledge bit Wolfgang once chucked him off was a good idea because the man clearly has a death wish. He fought so hard to become ICW Champion for a third time that he is literally willing to leap to his untimely death to keep a hold of it. He actually only caught Bram a wee bit with a big running cross body but the fear it installed in Bram will live with the man forever. Sitting up at night. Rocking back and forth. Crying uncontrollably as he recalls a human flying towards him at full speed as if it were a Bram seeking missile. Scary shit. SQGOBTDIVE

It’s almost as if Bram felt this platform was perfect for showing people who say he’s a shite wrestler exactly how wrong they are. He was outstanding from start to finish in this one. Chasing a piledriver, with a buckle bomb then a wee pop-up powerbomb for good measure but when that didn’t get the job done BT suddenly looked like he’d retained when he nailed the Technodrome DDT out of nowhere. A move that his become synonymous with BT Gunn winning big matches. That was surely that if Red Lightning hadn’t managed to take a break from chatting about how majestic Bram’s new gear was on commentary to once again pull the ref out the ring, as Iestyn Rees appeared with emphatic hauners once more, spearing BT Gunn in half. Inexplicably the mad bastard kicked out. With the option of timely Rudo hauners removed after the referee’s committee held an impromptu meeting (nae minutes were taken, so that tells ye just how under-prepared the boays were for this yin but sometimes needs must) and decided both Red and Iestyn must vanish from ringside. Even with the score levelled, BT could only manage a 2 after the Gunnshot and a sexy brainbuster, and Bram once again took over. Doing that thing he does where he dishes out piledrivers until the recipient either can’t get married or ye know….dies.

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A run of the mill skull splitter of a piledriver was followed by the very same move on to a chair to surely seal the title and give ICW a champion that could cause riots for the first time since Rudo himself held the belt and made making fans want to fight him in to some kind of sport, but Bram got cocky and decided to lord it over BT which is never a wise move. He grabbed both titles and hoisted them skyward while he placed one foot on BT for the pin, but BT quickly rolled his man up for the 3 count and made a swift exit STILL your Undisputed Champion.

BT chucked the middle fingers up in defiance as Bram lost the plot in the ring. Having an absolute ragey. He was rightly irate with himself because until that moment he’d played the match almost perfectly but never assume you’ve got BT Gunn beat. You could set that man on fire and put the fire out with auld Fila gutties and he’d somehow emerge without a mark on him. He lives a charmed life and if you’re judging him on belts accumulated it seems to be working out not too shabbily at all. Man’s got mare gold than Mr T’s neck these days. He now had the luury of being able to sit back and watch The Square Go unfold to find out who the next contender might be. 

The 2018 Square Go Match

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The Square Go is always brilliant fun but this year everything felt like it mattered. As well as ending the night with a clear view on how the title picture is shaping up, it planted  numerous seeds for quality future stuff and perhaps gave a few feuds their final chapters at the same time. Entrant number one was revealed to be Chris Renfrew quickly followed by entrant number two, his nemesis Mikey Whiplash with the kendo stick that should really trigger some severe PTSD in both men when they both see it. They’ve nearly killed each other and countless other tortured souls with that fucking thing and Whiplash quickly had huge kendo shaped indents in his back at the Square Go kicked off with….well, a square go eh. Along with planting a lot of future seeds, this Square Go was also a right good fuckin scrap at times. A very square-go-ey Square Go you could call it. Renfrew and Whiplash chucked each other about every corner of the building before entrant number three Lewis Girvan appeared, deciding to bodyswerve the two guys trying to murder each other in favour of waiting to see who number four might be. To his delight he heard that glorious Filthy Generation tune boom through the building once again as he was joined by his stable mate, but which one was it to be? Only his tag partner and BFF Aspen Faith.

They shook hands and seemed to be agreeing to fight for some ridiculous reason only to reveal their ruse as they ran the ropes a bit, avoiding harming each other at all costs, before breaking up all the wrestling with a hearty big hug between pals. Just pals being pals really. It would harm yer heart unless you happened to be their opponents in a wrestling match. Whiplash and Renfrew managed to put their mutual desire to attend the other’s funeral to one side long enough to actually team up and offer some resistance but then it was time for entrant number 5, that music again. A treat for everyone in attendance because they got to hear a bonafide tune three times in the space of 10 minutes but bad news for Whiplash and Renfrew. With both Kings in the ring, it had to be Stevie. An earlier number than he would have liked but a chance to strategize with his team and get the gameplan going. Unless…..sqgofilth

Kay Lee ‘fuckin Ray.  For some reason I was under the impression she was still in Japan for this show but when the wee graphic turned red after the music hit, we knew it wasn’t time for Stevie yet. It was time for someone equally dangerous. Perhaps even more so because she came with a pair of leather straps and already had two pals in the ring. Whiplash and Renfrew offered some resistance before the Filthy trio stomped them down and Kay Lee whipped them like they each owed her upwards of a score and they’d been duckin her for a while, instead spending their money on fake moustaches and other disguises to avoid her meeting their gaze in the street. Imagine Kay Lee Ray actually ran a money lending service and came to collect with a leather strap in hand, you’d gie her everything ye owe, plus interest, plus everything else you own and maybe some stuff other people own. Enough stuff to get her to back the fuck aff.

The Filthy Generation missed a trick when there was three of them and two others. They had the numbers and could have tossed Whiplash and Renfrew out. Giving them a three on one advantage against whoever entered from then on. Tossing them out at will until Stevie Boy entered to make it a full on party. The minute and a half flew by in a heartbeat however, with Jokey levelling the playing field a bit and almost tossing Kay Lee out. Suddenly number six was upon us. With Jack Jesters big studded dildo, it was none other than his Kinky bredren Sha SamuelsShaSha refused to touch the dildo, even though it was statistically the most effective weapon ever seen in the match based on the amount of bodies it had done damage to in the past. I’m not sure if he feared it or feared what he might catch from it but he held it about 100 feet from his body with his scarf before tossing it aside. Bounding into the ring dishing out mad jabs on his opponents instead of shuddering orgasms. Sha was there to win a Square Go mate, not the MVP at an orgy.

It wouldn’t be a Square Go without a liberal spattering of hilarity as entrant number 7 was revealed to be Kez Evans. As good a young wrestler as he is, he was the odd one out. A rookie in a sea of somedys. He knew if he was to last any longer than time it took to make his entrance he needed to form an alliance with someone but everyone he tried either laughed in his face or told him to get fucked before all 6 had a shot at tannin the poor boy’s jaw before allowing Sha to toss him out. Maybe next year mate eh.

Next to enter the fray was Kid Fite flanked by Krieger and Lou King Sharp who surprisingly weren’t actually entered in the match. I enjoy that they just don’t give a fuck. ICW is meant to be nae DQ all the time so why not just charge in team handed all the time? Who’s stopping it? Jack Tunney? He’s deid mate. They made a beeline for Sha before Kenny Williams became entrant number 9 and provided timely hauners to his big pal. A lot of potential winners in amongst it early meant elimination were scarce for the first part. Instead wee pockets of folk were peeling off and battering each other all over the place before we came to the big guy section of the whole affair. That’s not to detract from the big bastards already involved in the match but this was the proper gigantic, wake up in the morning and high-five god cause yer up there anyway, type of big guy section. Kicked off with Wolfgang at number 10, who had been in the final two of both of the last two Square Go’s and holds the most eliminations in the 7 year history of the match. He came face to face with Kid Fite again before picking Lou King Sharp up and launching him into the crowd. As brutal as that sounds it was actually quite merciful because at first he was going to chuck him at the opposite side where only big Krieger was present to stop oor Lou from suffering from an acute case of deidness. The Purge emerged to eliminate Lou and Krieger from the equation, before next in the procession of giant dudes emerged. A wee surprise entrance at number 11. MOOSE.

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Moose is a big fucking dude. Proper huge. Remarkably athletic for a guy who must be a bawhair off 8 feet tall. Put it this way, big Tor is being billed as this Swedish wrecking machine who eats “enhancement talent” for breakfast and shits oot nuhin but their broken dreams and probably their kneepads as I doubt the human body can actually consume such things. Look at that photo above. Big Moose is actually very slightly taller than the tree wae a beard. He squared up to Wolfgang looking for a battle of the big hoss’s only for the pair to instead focus their energies on the Kings Of Catch. Setting both members up in opposite corners in the tree of woe position before taking turns to run at the full pelt with splashes, elbows, forearms and all that sare stuff. The big man section had a brief intermission for both Wild Boar and Mike Bird to enter, with a slice of Jordan Devlin in the middle. A wee Celtic sandwich we’ll call it. Bird decided if Sha wasn’t using it he would bring the big shiny dildo into the equation and upon seeing it Sha got what can only be described as some kind of flashback. As if he had fought some kind of war alongside this dildo and the memories were just….just……too much man. A distracted Sha became just the second guy to be eliminated and him and when Jester came out to console his big besto, Sha was not for it. Listen troops, less of this falling out patter awrite. You’s are the joyous odd couple. Joyous odd couples don’t bicker. They get a big disney prince in a kilt to re-unite them and eventually live happily ever after with a pair of tag belts they’ve somehow customised to make them dispense beer. Or in Jester’s case, probably lube.

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Bird and Boar’s joy was short lived when Iestyn Rees entered next as we resumed the heavy massive guy section of this year’s Square Go. Although he did help Bird and Boar set about The Kings Of Catch, before eliminating them by throwing Kay Lee Ray at them. I’m no sure if that officially counts as eliminations for Iestyn or Kay Lee gets the credit. Although in Kay Lee’s case “credit” for something like that is a wee bit like being credited for an OG in fitba. Naecunt wants that credit. If those two eliminations weren’t Iestyn’s, the next two were as he tossed Bird and Boar out. Bringing their alliance to an official end it would seem as Iestyn plans for a future under Rudo where he’ll shine brighter than his own heavily oiled midriff.

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Tor Atterhagen was next and for some reason while everyone else played dead, it was Kid Fite who decided to square up to what can only be described as a sentient Swedish fridge freezer, before the big man tossed him out. Quite enjoyed Kid Fite pretending that he wanted back in, as if anyone would ever come back for a second go at that big bastard but Fito is a true Glasgow boy and he at least needs to appear as if he wants to fight the big bully before deciding it just isn’t worth his valuable time. Tor inevitably ended up squaring up the big Moose. Utterly raging that Moose to be about half an inch bigger than him. They chopped the living shite out each other before Tor eliminated Moose. He seemed to be taking the competitors out biggest first which is a decent strategy. More likely to be knackered the longer you’re involved so if all the big guys are gone and it’s just you and Leyton Buzzard left at the end, you’ve planned well. Next up was Wolfgang, but Wolfy was having none of his Swedish shite. Brass knucks were utilised to daze the big fucker, much like you’d shoot a tranquilizer dart into a bear’s neck before you’d ever consider going within 10 mile of it, and with the big yin dazed Wolfy dumped him out. Tor’s not the type of guy to cut his losses and fuck off after a disappointment of that nature and he came to hit all sorts of chokeslams on Wolfy. Weakening him enough for Jordan Devlin to superkick him right out of there. No third year in a row in the final two for big Wolfy but he did make himself a powerful enemy.

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Next up was The Sam Barbour Experience one of the most exciting talents to emerge from the GPWA school and one who maybe needed something like a decent stint in the Square Go to proper kickstart his ICW career. Big Grizzly entered next in a fashion that you could only describe as both big and grizzly. Having a quick scrap with his countryman Iestyn Rees before we were honoured and privileged to see the return of CAPTAIN JAAAAAAAAAACK. Jackie Polo wearing the exact attire he had on the night he beat Lionheart at the Barras. Does that mean something?  The seed was there, and after some lovely wrestling from Scotlands BEEEEEEST, and the eliminations of Sam Barbour and Jordan Devlin, Jackie Polo stood in the middle of the ring and waited for the adulation from the masses. In the very building he captivated for a shade under 3 hours with that This Is Your Life segment. With all the memories of that feud rushing to the forefront once again, the next entrant could only be one. Number 20. Lionheart.

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Even after years of both men becoming something quite different to what they were when they had that match 3 years ago. Jackie conquering the tag divison with his best pal Mark Coffey, while Lionheart re-invented himself with a brilliant reign with the Zero-G when they came face to face again it was as if they’d never been apart. A deep seeded hatred that both display very differently. Polo decided to roll out of the ring and wore that dismissive smile on his face, as if Lionheart was a nobody. Not worth his time. Something that serves to wind up not only Lionheart himself, but the audience who were gasping to see them leather each other. Lionheart eliminated Kay Lee Ray (who had been cutting about on the outside for a while now getting sly digs in, somehow still holding that leather strap) and Big Grizz before the next entrant was revealed to be Ravie Davie. 

Davie came in all guns blazing, chucking big fists at Iestyn and mad kicks at Jackie Polo but Ravie Davie is preoccupied to say the least. Constantly tormented by the image of his burd turning on him and joining forces with his nemesis while he plummets from 20 feet in the air through a table. In a way Bram stealing her kinda makes him destroying their wedding a bit romantic eh. This one wasn’t just because he heavy loves piledriving burds on to cakes, this one was for love. This one was for the noble pursuit of winning the fair maiden’s heart and perhaps seeing if she can take more than 3 and a hauf fing….I mean eh….dates….he’s gonnae take her out on nice dates. Point is, Bram showed up, closely followed by Martina and they decided to sit at the entrance and winch, providing enough of a distraction for Iestyn Rees to pap Davie out before he set off to immediately attack the happy couple. I mean if ye think about it that makes them even does it not? Bram broke their wedding up and Davie broke up their Square Go winching sesh. Call it even and move on? No. Nae worries. Next up, with the crate of lager was Aaron Echo.

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Upon drinking the last one and a half cans of lager in the crate Simon Cassidy revealed that “Aaron Echo’s weapon had been eliminated” which could either be referring to the lager or Yamaguchi San fae Kai-en-tai making his long-awaited return to wrestling to relieve Echo of his manhood (if ye don’t get that reference, google Val Venis and “choppy choppy your pee pee”) filled with the kind of bravado only a full crate of lager can give a man, Echo leaned in to plant on one his best pal Kenny Williams but after getting the knockback that a man with a crate of lager in him will get almost all of the time, he decided to pick his pal up and spin him about instead. Knocking down everyone within a 10 mile radius in the process.

Mark Coffey entered net and at number 23 you could see The Power Forward winning it all. If this Square Go was all about planting future seeds and setting things in motion for the year, Mark Coffey in main event situations should be a seed that’s very much getting planted. Him and Jackie came face to face in what was briefly a tense moment before they joined forces to eliminate big Iestyn. Polo Promotions are best fuckin pals. In real life, in wrestling, probably in the afterlife if there is one. Although I imagine if there is, it’s just a bunch of folk watching Larsson’s chip from the 6-2 game on a loop and going “fuckin some finish eh!” enthusiastically. They were never going to have a big fall out and split traditionally although all signs indicate that they’ll be doing their singles things for a while. That fact became very apparent when Lionheart floored Coffey with a superkick and suddenly, Polo had no quick escape. It was finally happening. Renfrew and Whiplash had other ideas and once again the big showdown was postponed. Long enough for Viper to enter next.

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She made short work of pretty much everyone. Chucking them about in the form of a variety of suplexes and splashes before almost tossing Mikey Whiplash out. Whiplash eventually did see his involvement by the next entrant a certain Jody Fleisch who’d he’d be wrestling in a singles match the very next night. Fleisch was then faced with a moral quandary as he stood face to face with Viper, seemingly with nae choice but to throw hands at her despite his definite reluctance to do so. Someone who had absolutely no reluctance to do so was Joseph Conners, who set about everyone with a chair leaving him one on one with Viper right up until DCT entered to be the knight in a polka-dotted singlet that every girl dreams of marrying one day. Her knight did save her, but Conners used his sheer rage against him, as he chucked Viper in to his path when he was getting ready to hit Conners with the chair. In the momentary daze of confusion, Conners papped DCT out a lot quicker than he would have envisioned, although Viper did gain a degree of vengeance for her man by dumping Conners out quickly after,leading to DCT chasing Conners to the back after he’d jumped back in to crack his wife with a chair. Understandable reaction to a man who’s last three actions in ICW have been spitting in your face, dumping you out the Square Go a minute after entering, and smacking your missus over the back with a big slate of steel.

Next up was Leyton Buzzard who is one of the most entertaining new talents in ICW today. His undying allegiance to Joe Hendry and all the hilarity that comes from it is some of the best shit going in the company right now. With Chris Renfrew set up in the corner there was only one way for Buzzard to make his entrance. Coast to coast styleeeee…..he called it and went for it, but he landed barely halfway across the ring before Renfrew picked him up and suddenly it was time for the second last entrant to make him (or her) self known. It was STEEEEEEVIE BOOOOOOY. The man with all the momentum and one pundits were calling a heavy favourite to win the whole thing 😉

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Stevie might have expected a wee bit of a clearer ring when he entered but sometimes dealing with a dirty ring is part and parcel of the job innit. He set out to clear it a bit when he shoved Viper out, before ducking a big boot from Echo and watching him fly over the top rope in what could only be described as a self elimination. It had been over 20 minutes since the big man’s last can so understandably he felt it was time to bail out. That left the picture a wee bit clearer for the man with the ultimate advantage. Entrant number 30, Joe Hendry. Who furthered his advantage by setting up a chair on the stage and deciding only to enter when the time was right. He only slid in there when Jody Fleisch was in a precarious position. Easing him out the equation before dishing out Fallaway Slam’s to everyone in his path. Literally everyone in the ring had taken one, until Lionheart reversed it and tossed Hendry out. Ultimate advantage, but ultimately he ended up out on his arse.

Jackie Polo eliminated Renfrew shortly after that, although he had lasted over an hour in what was a titanic effort. Suddenly we had a final 5 made up of guys who had not only never won the Square Go before, but guys who had never won the ICW World Title either. This was a Square Go not only about setting things in motion for the present but also a nod towards how the future was going to play out. All 5 were ICW guys, some of whom had literally grown up in the company and one of them was going to win it all, but before that was decided it finally happened. This time there was no one to stop them and for the first time since one of the most bitterly contested wrestling matches in British wrestling history, Jackie Polo and Lionheart were about to fight.

SqGoLhJpolo.jpgIt was brief but beautiful. They flung hands at each other with reckless abandon, each punch marginally stiffer than the one before it. Polo nailed a scoop slam, Hearto a superkick. More jabs. More hatred trickling from every pore. They still fucking hate each other make nae mistake about that.  Sometimes in life there are people you just don’t take to. Some people just aren’t your kind of people and that’s fine. We can’t all like everyone, but these two can’t just comfortably dislike one and other from afar. Not forever anyway. It was always going to happen again and IF it is a match at Barramania it will blow the previous one out the water. They are both just far too good at this for it to be anything but brilliant and its a match that needs to happen to close that chapter of their careers. It has always felt like unfinished business, although their business for the night was swiftly finished as Mark Coffey and Stevie Boy took advantage of a brief lull in their fist fight to chuck them both out. Coffey obviously throwing Lionheart out and Stevie throwing Polo out because that being the other way about would be the end of the world as we knew it.

That brought us to the final three of Mark Coffey, Kenny Williams and Stevie Boy. All outstanding wrestlers who have conquered so many other areas that this was the only one left.  The pursuit of the big one. All three absolutely have valid claims for a spot at the very top and for my money (I’ve nane but lets kid on) all three WILL get there in the not so distant future but there could be only one, and only one had the troops as his disposal to lend a helping hand.

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The Grand Finale

Kenny and Mark looked like they’d formed a brief alliance to toss Stevie out but Stevie was wise to it and got out the road fast. A near elimination for Kenny was thwarted when he jumped back in to the ring in the form of a spear before him and Mark shook hands and laid into each other with a flurry of forearms. Despite their eliminations earlier in the night, the rest of The Filthy Generation had their say in the final moments. There’s nae rules at the end of the day and if you’ve got a team at your disposal in a situation like this, use it. Kenny found himself on the apron and Kay Lee Ray rushed out with a steel chair in hand, chucking it right at his coupon and sending him crashing out.

Three of the very best young talents this country has ever produced had become two and it was a beautiful sight. Two guys who have been long overdue this ascension to the top finally getting their time. Kenny’s time will come, and the chip on his shoulder that will come from this injustice will add a bit of edge to his character so overall as much as it wont have felt like it at the time that steel chair rung his bell, it was a good night for him and he lasted over an hour in the match. It looked like Coffey had won it when he tossed Stevie over the top ropes but the Kings Of Catch still had their role to play. Grabbing Stevie’s legs and helping him back in the ring before all three were banished from ringside to leave it a fair fight to the finish. Power Forward vs King Of Insanity. Two future icons if they aren’t already. Here we fuckin go.

They battered each other on the apron, both swaying like they felt stone cold sober in the pub but as soon as they got outside they had suddenly become the most steaming guy on planet earth. After a brief but pulsating battle Stevie lifted Mark Coffey over the top rope on to the apron before throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the solid big cunt. Nothing would do the job. Flying kick, drop kick, Stevie’s internal screams of “gonna just fuckin get oot!” finally a steel chair shot to the napper got the job done and STEVIE BOY had become your 2018 Square Go winner. 

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If the Square Go is any sort of indicator as to how the year is going to go for ICW its going to be a fuckin stormer. Polo and Lionheart back at it. All of the guys who’ve been talked about as potential stars of the future turning that potential into some real tangible success. The final stages said it all. Full of ICW guys who have worked the hardest and longest to get to the top, getting their just rewards. Mark Coffey will be a top guy this year and hopefully has some belting matches with Stevie as a result of how this wound up but as of right now, to put it in his own words, Stevie has one of the biggest independent wrestling companies in the world “by the fucking balls” and its a buzz to see where its all going to go. The immediate future appears to be a showdown with a guy he’s been in many battles with before, both as a team-mate and opponent. His former NAK brother in arms and the current top dog. A certain mental case named BT Gunn who popped out to show Stevie he’s no feart. Any match between these two is bound to be brilliant but for the Undisputed Title? Aff the scale mate. Glasgow will burn to the ground in the wake of the brand of super violence they bring to the table. 

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Massive thank you to David J Wilson for the wonderful photos as per usual

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lasting Impact Of Drew Galloway, ICW Hall Of Famer

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Drew Galloway has always been The Chosen One. Long before Vince McMahon fired that moniker on him and it nearly pulled him to the ground like an anchor round his neck for the latter part of his first WWE run, he was always the one. Professional wrestling in Scotland has existed for a long time but Drew Galloway is the reason it is what it is today. That’s not an attempt to remove credit from anyone else, that’s not diminishing the hard work of anyone else at all, its simply a fact. Without Scotland producing this Disney prince looking motherfucker who made you believe in everything he does in and out of the ring, wrestling might not have ever happened here. It would have kept on existing and it would have had a following just like any other niche thing in entertainment, but running venues like the SECC and The Hydro? Forget it. Even places as big as the ABC, Barrowlands etc would have been a big ask if Drew was never born. Wrestling has always been niche, and small counties like Scotland don’t usually become a hotbed for something like this but Drew is the domino effect. He set a standard and it was up to everyone else to shoot for it and by god have they done that. The people who started out at the same time as him have all gone on to be integral cogs in the current thriving scene we have up here. The people he’s influenced since his return in 2014 continue to feel his influence. He was born to do this and as much as his body, and at times his mind, won’t be thankful for that, we are very lucky as fans that he happened to be born in Scotland.

When Drew started out 16-17 years ago, by his own admission there was nothing here. No schools. Hardly any down south either. No real scene of note to cut your teeth in. No hope really. If making it in the wrestling business was ever going to become his or anyone else’s reality an unimaginable amount of work had to be done. Being a foot taller than anyone else who existed at that time in Scotland (or ever has since) wasn’t going to be enough. Managing to get enough out of the almost non existent training to become a great wrestler wasn’t going to be enough either. The door was never going to swing open and invite Drew through it, he was going to have to take they what I assume are size 18s or something mad like that and kick the fucking thing down and that’s exactly what he done when he signed with WWE in 2007. He set a precedent then and the scene he left behind grew to something bigger than he or anyone else could ever have imagined in his absecne. While the hard work put in by so many while he was chasing the dream was all THEIR hard work, his success was the catalyst. He was the reason folk who might have chucked it long ago decided to persevere. He was the example that made any setbacks anyone else had nothing more than that. Just a bump in the road rather than a fatal head on collision. He was the catalyst for a scene that continues to go from strength to strength, and him making it to the WWE made everyone believe, while it was their hard work while he was gone that gave him the perfect platform to re-announce himself to the wrestling world when the dream turned ever so slightly sour. His first real setback in wrestling. After a few years of middling and trying to carve something good out of being comic relief as part of 3MB, Drew Mcintyre was released after 7 years with WWE. A few short weeks later, Drew Galloway was re-born.

Crashing Shug’s House Party

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Ya rude big bastard ye. A few spent years spent in America and the big man forgot his manners. Without invite, Drew Galloway showed up just as Chris Renfrew was about to cash in his Square Go title shot against Jack Jester, who had just been subjected to a kicking from Renfrew and his NAK stablemates. Jester’s year-long reign with the title was coming to an end. It was time. Little did Jester, or indeed Renfrew know, it wasn’t for the reasons they thought. It wasn’t because Renfrew had picked the perfect moment for the cash in and had Jester right where he wanted him. It wasn’t because Jester just couldn’t hold on after a year of fighting tooth and nail to keep a hold of that shiny belt he had coveted for so long. None of that mattered. It was all down to a big handsome bastard deciding his WWE release was not the end. Far from it. It was just the beginning for him personally and as much as ICW might not have known it then, it was the beginning of a new and brilliant chapter for a company who were doing just fine before his return. Great in fact. At that time ICW were unquestionably the biggest independent wrestling company in the UK and Shugs House Party was the second time they had sold out the 1,000+ capacity ABC. All was rosy and ICW was the best night out 15 quid could buy, but that night Drew came back and shocked the whole building by turning on best friend Jack Jester moments after saving his Championship; Chucking him off the stage through a table, ICW knew there was another level to be reached. Another door to be opened, except this time kicking it down wasn’t required. They had the key. The key was Drew.

The big factor that made his return so significant was his motivation being a bit different to what usually happens when someone gets released from WWE after being a success with the company. Most folk want back there ASAP and seem to almost believe being their once makes them instantly better than wrestling anywhere else. Almost as if wrestling owed them something. Drew has never seemed to be that guy and when he was released he knew exactly where he needed to be. He could have stayed in the US and wrestled exclusively over there, maybe coming back for a wee high-profile visit every now and then where he’d stoat in, act like the Billy Big Baws with the funny accent, stick his wage in his back pocket and get back to his comfortable wee life but that wasn’t for him. Drew knew fine well what was happening on the Scottish Wrestling scene and the noise ICW were making locally and globally in his absence and he wanted in. He believed in it just like he did when ICW were just starting out and he was the first man who was able to call himself ICW Champion. The new mission statement was simple. Get ICW on TV and become the first man who could call himself ICW WORLD Heavyweight Champion.

Raising The Bar

Fear and Loathing 7 was the night it all changed. When Drew Galloway and Jack Jester went head to head that night it was billed as the biggest match in Scottish history and everyone in the building that night believed that to be the case. It held weight. Former best pals seeing their friendship come to a bitter, probably bloody end because of a wrestling championship. It was massive, and when Drew won to become a two-time ICW Champion a seismic shift occurred. ICW was no longer going to be a big deal just locally. ICW was ready to make the kind of noise that has yer neighbours from two streets away phoning the polis. ICW was ready to have a globe-trotting workhorse representing them not just when he wrestled here, but when he wrestled everywhere.Despite all the success and brilliant things happening to ICW, there was another gear they could get to and Drew Galloway helped them slide into it seamlessly. Everyone seemed to almost get better over night.

Chris Renfrew eventually cashed in his Square Go briefcase in a match at the 2015 Square Go against Galloway and we saw a Renfrew no one, even Renfrew himself, had ever seen before. A captivating match where Renfrew’s year-long pursuit of the title came to an almost tragic end. Losing the best match of his career to date, cutting a crestfallen figure at the end. Big Damo had revamped his look and was making a big impression but there’s no doubt Drew was his absolute perfect opponent and when they squared off both men reached another level. Having such a unique opponent brought the best out in Drew and the matches between them is undoubtedly a big reason both men now pick up a WWE paycheque. Joe Coffey had an absolute war with Drew at the Barrowlands and while his performance levels in the ring probably couldn’t  have got any better, having such a big match on a high profile show undoubtedly helped shine a bright light on his talent. His time in ICW made so many people better, including Drew himself. ICW let him be a wrestler again.

Then TNA happened and for some inexplicable reason, the waters got muddied a bit. Wrestling fans are the most fickle fuckers around, most will admit that to you, but the way they turned on Drew after that massive outpouring of emotion that night he made his return at Shug’s was startling stuff. A surprise to many, but probably not Drew himself.

“Drew go away, go away….BACK TAE TNA”

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Wrestling is a mad thing. A make-believe world driven by real emotions. When a company like ICW, who dance along the line between make believe and real like few others can, put a guy like Drew Galloway at the forefront of their product, there is a shelf life as to how long that can last before the natives get restless. ICW suffers at times from an inability for its fanbase to see past the end of their own beaks. I say that as a fan myself. Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in something, anything that you see as a threat to it becomes something that warrants hostility and even though Drew Galloway saw TNA as a platform to elevate himself and in turn ICW, a percentage of the ICW fans didn’t quite see it that way. Drew appearing and becoming a focal point of TNA was a conflict of interests to them and it became a stick that was used to beat him with. Some might have been a bit hurt at that. Grafting all over the globe representing ICW as best he could and anytime he came back to Glasgow he was told to bolt. Some might have put the petted lip on but Drew became something else. Drew became a bastard. Drew joined auld mates Jack Jester and Red Lightning to form The Black Label and well, The Black Label fucked shit up for a long time. They laughed at anyone who dared to take umbrage with them fucking shit up. Drew was no longer all about gettin SCAAAAAATLAND to become a major factor on the wrestling circuit, Drew was all about one thing. Drew was about Drew. Drew was about holding on to the ICW Title at all costs. Then there was Grado.

When ICW announced they were running the 4,000 capacity SECC it felt monumental. Huge. Considering where the company started out, it was an unimaginable level of success to obtain. Running that building alone was a big deal but to sell the fucking thing out in advance? That was a show. That was a show people wanted to see. Nah fuck that, it was a show people NEEDED to see. For several reasons, but the main one was Drew vs Grado.

Grado had been a contender for the ICW Title before. Having brilliant title matches with Red Lightning and Mikey Whiplash in the past that had The Garage bouncing but with the greatest of respects to The Garage to repeat that feet in a building about 6 times the size? That would take a match of epic proportions and Drew Galloway vs Grado was it. Drew had mercilessly mocked and dissected Grado’s character in the build up. So much so that the rest of the roster saw fit to try to bring another side out in Grado. Colt Cabana, Damo, Joe Coffey and even Grado’s arch-enemy Renfrew told Grado if he was going to overcome an obstacle like Drew, he was going to have to bring something out in himself that we’d never seen before. Not just a mean streak, something more inspired than that. A mean streak isn’t enough to pin a guy who’s about a foot taller than you. Neither is punching him repeatedly in the baws. What it was going to take was a refusal to quit. A refusal to die. A refusal to give up no matter what Drew chucked at him and with timely hauners from Mick Foley as Red Lightning threatened to once again tip the odds in The Black Labels favour, Grado amidst rapturous scenes in front of 4,000. It felt right. Grado has always had all these amazing attributes, he’s always been the ost charismatic guy on the roster, but he needed a truly selfless baddie to create that wonderful moment and that’s what Drew was on the night. His shift that night was to make the good guy look fucking amazing and it was a shift that led Mick Foley to compare their match to Ric Flair vs Dusty Rhodes. The highest of all the praise.

The Chosen One Is Chosen Again

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Drew Galloway is a man who delivers on his promises. Even one’s he doesn’t broadcast to the world, he still delivers. When he was released there’s no doubt that in his mind, the goal was to get back to WWE. That is still the pinnacle and when his TNA contract ended and he didn’t re-sign with them, it was fairly clear where he was headed. The thing about it is, he wasn’t just headed back there because he had wrestled there before and they needed someone they knew and trusted to fill a role. He was going back because he had re-invented himself and become the hottest property on the Independent scene. Winning titles from Evolve to ICW and everywhere in between. Drew was going back almost as a form of admittance from WWE that they got it wrong the first time. He wouldn’t be coming back to be comic relief this time. Nor was he coming back to be told “We’ve got nothing for you big man, keep conditioning the fuck out of that hair but, its working for ye” he was coming back to make good on his promises. He was coming back to be the man.

Drew was actually on TV every week before his release the first time but being the dutiful professional he is, he knew what his role was. Even if he knew he was better than that role, he knew he was supposed to lose and if that was the job he was given, that was the job he was going to do. Being comic relief and losing most of the time wasn’t exactly the best place to be hitting a big single legged dropkick that sends the opponent to the other side of the ring as if they’ve been shot out of a cannot. It wasn’t the best place to be hitting a Double Arm DDT that cracks the opponents skull in half. When Drew came back he knew he needed to be in a place where 3MB Drew had never existed because that’s not who he was anymore. He got his head down and got on with the job back then like a true professional does, hoping for something else to come but when it never did he made something else happen on his own. That was the Drew that was coming back to WWE. The Drew they first signed except this time so much bigger, badder and better than he was then. A full 10 years after his first run began, Drew was back but instead of being full of hopes and dreams, he was full of goals. The first of those goals was to conquer NXT.

Drew Mcintyre – NXT Champion, Drew Galloway – ICW Hall Of Famer

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Much like ICW had grown to an unimaginable level in Drew’s absence, something special had happened to NXT while he was gone from WWE. It had gone from being seen as purely developmental, to its own special entity. The emphasis has still always been to make stars for the main roster in the future but the setting had become something else. Almost relief for anyone fatigued at how the main roster was. NXT was where you went for the proper wrestling. The wrestlers, rather than the larger than life SUUUUUPERSTARS on RAW and Smackdown. Even though he was an ex tag team and Intercontinental Champion from his first run, this run had to be something else. Drew had to be something else, so the first run was put to one side and Drew announced himself on NXT as something else. A killer. A baw bootin rambunctious big bastard. He was here for one reason and one reason only. Take the NXT Title and do to NXT what he had done with every promotion he wrestled for on the Indies. Take them to the next level. a few short onths after his debut he ended Bobby Roode’s long title reign and another promise had been delivered.

Unfortunately an injury has derailed him slightly, a torn bicep sustained when he lost the title to Andrade Cien Almas in November last year. In all honesty, bold proclamations of taking NXT to the next level aside, there was only so long he was going to be there anyway. WWE didn’t re-sign Drew to graft on NXT for the rest of his career, he was brought back to be a major player. They had no doubt kept a keen eye on him throughout his time away and only pulled the trigger on bringing him back when it was just right. The injury was hugely unfortunate and delayed his second main roster debut a bit but he was losing his title that night anyway and no doubt would have been main roster bound sooner rather than later so his speech when he was inducted into the ICW Hall Of Fame put to bed any doubts as to what the next goal is.

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When he stoated out at ICW on Monday night to fulfil the role as The Kinky Party’s relationship counsellor, there was nae nonsense. No one telling Drew to go back to NXT. Just love. Appreciation. Wrestling fans are fickle bastards. They’ll tell you that openly. Whatever his perceived sins where back then were gone. A case of not truly appreciating what you had until its gone. Drew was back amongst family again. In an environment where he felt comfortable. The very same venue he made his ICW return and shocked the world. Shocked the live audience to the point people were in tears, near fainting. That was the Drew being celebrated. His induction was unlike any Hall Of Fame induction wrestling has ever seen and he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. He forced Jack Jester and Sha Samuels to make up, citing their ability to make people laugh as being an essential part of an ICW that would be a much darker place without them. He shared a laugh with Mark Dallas about how the giraffe he had lined up was no longer needed for his entrance, nor was the wee budgie that had some kind of trick lined up for us.  All because he had to put out one more fire before accepting his induction to the ICW Hall Of Fame and going after the next goal. Chasing the next accomplishment. The big one.

Everyone in ICW and Scottish Wrestling in general will always feel Drew Galloway’s presence. His 3 years back here helped each and every person he worked with reach another level. If he was on awful terms with WWE and never had a chance of going back we’d all gladly accept him back here permanently. Of course. He’s too good and too driven not to. That is not the case however. WWE very much want him and that being the case, we don’t want ye back big man. Not while the big goal is still out there to be reached. There’s never been a Scottish born WWE Champion. Imagine the first one also happened to be a guy who helped build Scottish Wrestling to being what it is today? Whether its Galloway or McIntyre. Good guy or bad guy. WWE or ICW. There’s no doubt the whole of Scottish Wrestling is firmly behind the big man once again as he shoots for the next one. Becoming the WWE Champion.

Thanks to David J.Wilson and eh….the internet I guess, for the photos.