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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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. 

An Evening In The Company Of Mick Foley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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(f-bomb detonated)

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

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

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

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

SNOOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Usos in a rare candid shot

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

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Thanks for reading!

 

TNA Impact Review 15/05/2014 (By Connie)

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I was hoping for more wrestling this week. There wasn’t. I was hoping for less talk. There wasn’t. Basically I was wishing for a great degree of change from last week’s show and there just wasn’t. It’s a sad state of affairs. Fret not as I’m here to hold your hand and guide you through this week’s edition of Impact, I’ll make it that wee bit more bearable.

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TNA Impact Review 08/05/2014 (By Oor Conneh)

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😦

That’s right, a sad face. A sad face because Impact is shite. I’ve been a devoted TNA fan since day one. I was proud of that company. I believed in that company. Now throughout a show I contemplate melting down some gold and pouring the burning liquid into my eyes. I lost all hope a few months back. I hated the direction it was going in. I hated how the wrestlers were being treated so I stopped watching. But I decided to well, catch up. Why did I do that? Why didn’t someone warn me. With that being said if you try really very hard to block out the sheer cringe worthy parts of the show you’ll actually find some delightful bits of wrestling here and there. Is it worth it? Probably not…
I suppose I should tell you about the show? You’ve probably stopped reading after the sad face. I’m probably talking to myself right now. I don’t blame you.

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