An Interview With Mark Coffey

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“I just don’t agree with people who try and separate themselves from the locker room. Its almost in an attempt to make yourself seem more important. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. We all share the one locker room. We’re all one”

Mark Coffey

A lot of making an impression on people is in how you carry yourself. On many occasions in wrestling someone with a bit of swagger can catch the eye of fans long before a more polished in-ring talent without that swagger would be able to. Mark Coffey has managed to seamlessly mesh the two things together from the first time I seen him wrestle and with only 7 years graft under his belt he seems to have naturally become one of the leaders of the locker room. A firm believer in unity amongst his peers, he marries that desire for unity with a desire to forearm folk’s teeth clean out their heid. That’s what makes him unique, and someone I’ve been absolutely gantin’ to interview for a long time. His belief in ‘the boys’ and fondness for the bond a growing band of the locker room seem to have shines through with every sentence and that all for one, one for all mentality can only be a good thing as British Wrestling powers forward.

Polo Promotions

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As I sauntered towards The Venue in Carlisle for the hotly anticipated Target Wrestling show taking place that night, at 4pm in the day the last thing I expected to see was fans already queuing up.  Yet as I approached I seen 4 or 5 guys huddled round the entrance; Happily chatting away. Most, if not all of them had one thing in common other than being clinically insane to voluntarily be in a queue rather than a pub a 3 full hours before a show. The other thing they had in common was being Polo Promotions to the core. Donning the club colours proudly, feverish at the prospect of the duo who run Carlisle taking their main even tag team vision and turning it into a reality. Polo Promotions are incredibly popular with the fans of Target Wrestling and enjoy an electric rapport with its fan-base, which brought about a momentous occasion on June 17th 2017. Polo Promotions vs Moustache Mountain. Two of the finest teams in the country. Two of the finest teams on the continent. And the two teams who made the concept of having a tag team match as your standalone main event a reality, but make no mistake about it, if it wasn’t for Mark and Jackie Polo pushing for this for a long time, it may never have been a reality.

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“This (Target) is just great because up until the match with Moustache Mountain the crowd have been 100% in our favour. Tonight its going to be more of a 50/50 because of how popular Moustache Mountain and British Strong Style are, but up until tonight we’ve had most of the crowd with us. This is like a testing ground for everything we do. Because we get on so well with Ryan (Devlin) the promoter, John who does a lot of the booking as well, and the fans. They trust us enough that when we go “can we try this?” when we want to do new things, they trust us to do it.”

That trust and the right team to make the match as huge as possible popping up was the perfect mixture of circumstances to make the whole thing come about. With Carlisle bathed in beautiful sunshine and their opponents bathed in beautiful facial hair, it was the right amount of beautiful shit to bring about a beautiful main event. “We’ve been pushing for ages saying we’re a main event tag team. We can put on a main event calibre show. Tonight is a culmination of all that. Of us telling Ryan we can main event and him agreeing that we need to go that way. Getting the right opponents so its a big enough tag team match for a British Wrestling company to go with as their main event. The way you look at shows now, particularly in independent wrestling, guys have a lot more freedom. You notice it a lot on shows now that when it gets to the main event, the crowd struggle. Because they’ve seen everything they could have possibly wanted to see. Sometimes 3 or 4 times over. If you put a tag team match out last, you couldn’t possibly have seen it before. They might have seen a tag match somewhere on the card, but not a main event tag match”

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For what felt like hours, they chanted. They sang. They made every manner of noise they possibly could for tag team wrestling in the main event. When Moustache Mountain entered you could hear a pin drop. The away team. Respected, maybe even feared a bit, but not supported. Not yet anyway. Their fans would get more vocal as this whole saga played out but in that moment they almost seemed scared. Like an away fan at a European game nestled in the home end. Fearing the repercussions of even giving the natives a sniff of the possibility that you might not be one of them. Moustache Mountain will no doubt go up and down the UK this year but I sincerely doubt they’ll face an atmosphere like this again anywhere they go. Rabid loyalty to a pair who might not be born and bred in the city, but a pair who have grown to be two of Carlisle’s favourite sons, as Mark recalled upon proudly.

“A lot of our matches have a derby day feel but this sort of has a Champions League feel. The thing I’m most pleased and excited about is going on in the main event. That’s something we’ve really pushed for. We also pushed for a Tag Division in ICW and I think as a duo we’ve done as much as we can to achieve that, so lets start pushing tag wrestling. Having this match in the main event slot is a win in our column. So we’re gonna keep pushing that way. This is the first step. This is like an achievement unlocked kinda thing. That’s the best thing about it and why we really appreciate it down here. Not only are the fans phenomenal for us and they have been from day one, but Ryan, John etc have been great with us and to get that wee nod from them in having us in the main event tonight is special”

The match was indeed special and became another in a long list of outstanding bouts the team have been involved in this year. Many of those coming in ICW, the company where the team rose to prominence as a duo after singles success and a company where the duo have always been polarising figures. In stark contrast to the almost universal acclaim they get in Carlisle, even when they were devilish big bad baddies, they still had a vocal band of followers, and since transitioning to become fan favourites, its only served to split the audience more. Its an environment that Mark seems to have a huge amount of fondness for. “I love it. We’re lucky enough that most matches we do have a. I don’t want to say ‘big match feel’ because it sounds a bit up your own arse, but it has that sort of derby day feel. Everyone’s up for it. You look at the match with The Kings Of Catch. The crowd were going back and forth for the whole thing. I think that plays into our favour because we’re used to it, whereas our opponents might not be. I said that recently about me and Trent in the singles. He’s not used to that atmosphere either. He’s used to everyone singing for him, and having the Trent Seven army. He’s not used to half the crowd staying faithful to his opponent. So it always kinda plays into our favour. I always say it would be nice if everyone did cheer for us, Jackie doesn’t care either way but I think aw yeah it would be nice, but we’ve experienced it so many times. That’s our atmosphere now, that’s what we bring to a show. The last three times we’ve been down here at Target, the match hasn’t been able to start for 10 minutes. We get in the ring and there’s 10 minutes of absolute chaos before the match starts”

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That chaos and the seemingly never-ending duel between the “Polo Promotions” half of the crowd and the “get tae fuck” team of dafties (sorry journalistic integrity n that, need tae stay impartial, you’re all entitled to your opinion’s, its just a shame those opinions are  very wrong) was never more apparent when the duo took on international superstars and IWGP Tag Champions War Machine at Barramania. “It was a wee check against our name to go in there and have a good match with the IWGP Champs at that time. I think we proved a decent point to the crowd but i think we proved an even bigger point to War Machine themselves, both in the ring and backstage. A lot of guys are afraid when bigger teams come in, but they were coming in to our company. The thing seems to be they (imports) come in, call the shots, and if you disagree you’re wrong. Fuck that. We built this house. I’d like to go again with them. The only fear id have is that with the first match being so good the expectation is there for the second one.”

The team came up ever so slightly short against War Machine, but they managed to topple one of the finest teams in wrestling history at ICW’s Hydro debut. Retaining the ICW Tag Titles against Team 3D aka the legendary Dudley Boyz.  “The match with Team 3D was a great indicator for us. No team has the accolades that team 3D do, they’ve held every major tag title there is. A strong argument could be made for them being the greatest team in pro wrestling/sports entertainment history. So it was a good test to see where we stood on a stage with one of the greats”

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Whilst the outstanding contest with the former ROH and IWGP Tag Champs, and the victory over the most decorated tag team in wrestling history solidified Mark and Jackie as a force to be reckoned with on a wider scale, its the work in building ICW’s tag division that seems to be a personal source of pride, tempered with frustration at times “We worked a bit with The Purge recently and the first match we had was great. Worked with them the next night and it wasn’t good. Then we worked with them 2 or 3 more times and you could see them getting better and better andmcoffey6 its frustrating because you could see the difference in them from the first match to the last and there’s no solid plans to use them going forward. If you’re going to pull the trigger, go the full way. Don’t half pull it. But I feel positive about the tag division right now.”

Bird and Boar may sit on top of the tree right now and have been superb performers since debuting as part of the tag team tournament that took place when Polo Promotions vacated their titles, but the tag division they currently rule wouldn’t exist if not for Mark and Jackie’s record setting reigns with the titles. A fact Mark is rightly proud of

“When we started tagging in ICW, we realised there wasn’t much of a tag division at that time and we wanted to rebuild it. Teams nowadays are a means to an end to a lot of guys. They do it so they can split up eventually. To get on the card, get experience and move further up the card. We just wanted to be a proper team who moved up the card together. Looking at it now, specifically when we came back from the match with the Hunters, I felt very good. Thinking about what we’ve done overall in 2, 3 years worth of pushing. Saying we need a division and recommending teams. Now I think we have a strong division. There’s us, Bird and Boar, The Hunters, Kirby and Hayes had a match on the tour and are coming back. Kings of Catch (who the Polos face at ICW in Edinburgh this Sunday) even The Buckys popped up again. The Purge. Its great and its moving forward. We’re almost where we need to be as a tag division and then when you throw guys like War Machine in. Its a nice bonus. The get to fuck side of the crowd were a bit like “why is it Polo Promotions in with War Machine but i think that was strongly outweighed by by the pro Polo Promotions side”

The quality of the match itself was proof enough that Polo Promotions deserved that match. Stealing the show, and continuing to add weight to their desire to make tag team wrestling a main event fixture. “I think tag wrestling is on the up and is seen as something that’s cool again. People want to team up. Guys like Gallows and Anderson, The Revival and even The Young Bucks are making it more appealing. I don’t understand why you wouldn’ t want to do it to be honest. I’m big on team sports and very much see wrestling as a team game. When you lose you lose, when you win you win, but if you do stuff in groups its definitely more rewarding. I feel weird now having singles matches”

Fuck Yer Coffey, We Want Tea. Then Mark Coffey won the Zero-G

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“If you think about it from when I won until when I lose it you can look at it like a book. There was a beginning, a middle and an end, and its closed now. A lot of people just think about what they’re doing immediately, they don’t think about after that. Being able to look at the whole thing and move on, its something I’ve got a lot of pride in”                                                                                   – Mark Coffey on his Zero-G Title run

A popular, not to mention hugely inventive (naht) chant in my early days attending ICW shows was “Fuck yer Coffey we want tea” aimed at both Coffeys, but when Mark Coffey took the Zero-G Title with a clean win over then ICW Champion Mikey Whiplash, that all seemed to die down. Even those who didn’t naturally gravitate to Mark and his brother Joe had no choice but to recognise their talent in the ring. His run as Zero-G champ might have had a wee Balor shaped mishap in the middle when Fergal Devitt showed up at Still Smokin unannounced to end Mark’s first reign. That blip serving as the middle part to a story Mark looks back on with a great amount of pride.

“My thinking at the time wasn’t that this is the midcard belt. My thinking was that this is the championship, and the main title was the hardcore championship. ICW being what it is, with the rules being at the refs discretion and Jestemcoffey8r being who he is and doing what he does. All of his matches were going to be violent, so again, my thinking was I’ll main event with my title. *laughs* It was never gonna happen…well apart from me and Kenny main eventing Spacebaws that time. That whole run, from winning it to eventually losing it is something I have a lot of Pride in. As one whole piece. A lot of people struggle to look at the bigger picture and just take wrestling as it comes, but if you think about it from when I won until when I lose it you can look at it like a book. There was a beginning, a middle and an end, and its closed now. A lot of people just think about what they’re doing immediately, they don’t think about after that. Being able to look at the whole thing and move on, its something I’ve got a lot of pride in”

Having toppled the ICW Champion at that time with a clean win, Mark carried the moniker of being the “Real ICW Champion” for a while. A tag that was only shed when the champion who eventually did usurp Whiplash, Jack Jester, beat Mark in a match for the title. That match, and a shot at the title Mark recently had against then champion Trent Seven served as a reminder that while singles wrestling might not be high on Polo Promotions agenda at the moment, there’s an audience ready and willing to chuck their support at both parties if the unthinkable does happen at Shugs House Party 4, where they face The Maruaders in a match that will see them forced to split if they lose. “The first title shot I got against Jester when I held the Zero-G, I thought I got quite a bit of support. That surprised me. I didn’t think there was any support for me in that one. The one with Trent I realised ‘oh shit, there is a lot of support for this’ and not only that, there was a lot of support from the locker room. That’s kinda what me and Jackie have become. Not locker room leaders, but just…the boys. I think I’ve got it on Twitter somewhere, that the best part about wrestling is being one of the boys. Its not that I don’t like these people, but I just don’t agree with people who try and separate themselves from the locker room. Almost in an attempt to make yourself seem more important. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. We all share the one locker room. We’re all one. We try and bring that atmosphere and there’s a big group of us now that are all pals. Everyone is getting that feeling now. The feeling of, this is what it’s about. It’s about the boys. That’s the way it should be”

Indeed it was the backing from his peers that humbled Mark the most before his title match with Trent. Most other opponents on a routine Garage show would have put up a good fight without much hope that they might actually take the title, but there was an outpouring of support for Mark that heralded a real belief that “The Power Forward” might actually go ahead and fucking do it.

“The support from a lot of the locker room meant a lot, it was surprising to get a lot of support from the audience because all I’ve ever been was the midcard champ or tag team guy, so to get a sniff of it and for folk to go “aye, this should happen” and for them to really get behind it, it meant a lot. It would have been nice to win it and would have been a massive upset. I think its something that would really have boosted The Garage as a venue. You see a lot of ‘big game hunters’ and ‘celebs’ coming out when the big shows come around and it does my nut in. They appear on Hydro day or Barras day and hit out with a tweet about how much of a big fan they are. No you aren’t. Fuck off. Where are you when we’re doing The QMU? That’s why I like smaller shows. Don’t get me wrong, I like every show, but I enjoy more intimate venues like The Garage and the QMU. I think for a while there, now that everyone has an on demand streaming service, so they’re all concerned about interviews, cameras, lighting and all this shit. Fuck that. They’ll watch it no matter what. Give everything you have to the people that are in the building at that time. The people who have showed up that night and paid more for that single ticket than they would for a month (or even 3 months) of the on demand service. Give them more that night than what goes into putting an on demand show together”

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The “we’re all pals” movement that has seen the formation of almost a brotherhood is something almost unprecedented. Forgoing the in-fighting that tears locker rooms apart, replacing it with days out on the swally watching Scotland snatch a draw from the jaws of a glorious victory against England. “It just kinda happened. We realised none of us had a show and we all went out to watch the Scotland game at Oran Mor. I see guys in wrestling a lot more than guys I grew up with. Mates who you try and make plans with. So thats kinda cool. A lot of the boys are standing up for the boys now. You cant pay people next to nothing anymore. Me and Jackie have set our stall out, and you might notice we dont work at a lot of places other people do because they’ve not agreed to pay us what we’re asking for”

He Aint Heavy….He’s My Brotherrr

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While Mark’s tag team legacy will be largely attributed to achievements as part of Polo Promotions, he first broke on the the scene as part of a tag team with current ICW Champion and his brother Joe Coffey. The team seemed to naturally go in their own directions, and last year they had their first high profile foray into feuding against one and other. Having matches in SWA and PWE, with one in particular tinged with regret for Mark.

“(Working with Joe) Its a challenge. A lot of people just see me and Joe as brothers and assume they must like the same things. They must do the same things. But we dont. We are so far opposites, and wrestling is where its become so apparent that we are thinking totally different ways. We are chalk and cheese when it comes to wrestling in terms of what we like, what we do and what we try to do. So its a challenge. You’re in the ring with someone thinking the totally opposite way. When me and Joe tagged together it was the same thing and it worked against us at times. I felt anyway. We had some good, some bad. But he would bob, I would weave and vice versa. Whereas with me and Jackie, again we are total opposites in terms of personality wise, but in that case opposites attract. He’s so extrovert and I’m so introvert, that he’s sort of pulled me out my shell, and at the same time I’ve sort of tamed him a wee bit.”

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“Working against Joe….it was what it was. I’d have liked it to have been better. I’d have liked it to have been in a different place than SWA if I’m honest. One day in ICW I think it will happen. It has to. When the time is right. I think the idea did get floated in early 2013 and I said no, and they said “why not?” and I said “well….why?” and they were like “brother vs brother” and I said no because it would just be about that. I think Joe was kind of up for it, but I said no him when we do it, its going to be the main event.”

Perhaps with a certain shiny belt Joe currently carries on the line at some point? One can only imagine the atmosphere if Joe in his current villainous form defended the gold against his brother. Hopefully without illness or injury getting in the way as it did when Joe challenged for Mark’s SWA Title last year.

“I was disappointed in the match that ended it. Its nothing to do with the company, or the match stipulation or anything. Its nothing to do with any of that. I was just unwell. Thats my lasting memory of it. It was the week after Barramania last year, and I woke up the morning after Barramania violently ill. Coughing up blood and stuff. Me and my mate watched Wrestlemania that nigmcoffey3ht and it obviously got worse without sleeping so I woke up the next day in an absolute mess. Didn’t leave my bed for 3 or 4 days. I live three floors up and the thought of going down to get food and stuff was a no go. Eventually my mum phoned and asked if I needed anything brought up and I said “Yeah…bring me 4 mcflurrys and 4 milkshakes. That…and Tesco pink doughnuts” and she was asking why and all I could say was “I don’t know, I just need it, bring it” I just needed sugar and cold things. It pisses me off because that day David Wilson was there doing photos and he done the photo that got used in the FSM one to watch article. My bellys hangin out. I’ve got tits, but I’ve got a big left tit and small right tit and I hate it because people still use that photo! Soon as I got in the ring, the cage I think is built for a slightly bigger ring to sit on top of it, but with that ring it cant so it sits on the floor. So you have to go up under the ropes to get in the cage, and even just doing that, Thomas (the ref) asked if I was awrite, and I said “I’m knackered…I’m blowing up here, I cant breathe” and he was like “fuck sake mate. I felt disappointed in myself and that id let down Joe. It was what it was and I needed to just get through it that was that”

Japan Ground Zero (One)

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Mark kickin the tits clean aff Aaron Echo

Even though they may not have worked out as a tag team and have differing views towards the industry they both work in. Joe and Mark do have a lot of similarities. Aside from their DNA (huvin the same maw n da n that) the pair both got the chance to cut their teeth with a stint in Japan working for Zero One, who were affiliated with the Source Wrestling School the brothers came from. Mark recalls on his stint in the far east and how it shaped him as a performer today. When in doubt, be John Cena. Never give up.

“When I was there I lived with Jack Gallagher and Jon Gresham (now of ROH). He’s another I’d love to see in ICW. Bring him in and stick him in a Zero-G match. They’re missing a trick on that so badly. I’ve been pushing for that for ages. Him vs Kenny would be great. I got to spend a lot of time with him and he’s so smart. He tells you things you’d never have even thought of it. When I went over there, my main thing was to work on finishing a match better. When I think about it, my first couple of training sessions over there. I was the shits. When I went over I thought yeah, I’m cool, and then I quickly realised I don’t know anything. The first few days we were there we didn’t train, and I was dying to see what it was all about and then we finally did and I had no idea what was going on. Shinya Hashimoto’s son Daichi was working for Zero One at the time. We were doing some ring drill, and I didn’t have a clue what he was saying. For some reason he ran off the ropes and dropkicked me right in the knees, and I just fell like a tonne of bricks, and I’m thinking “what the hell’s happening here” . There was a few times I knew in my head what was going on, but realised its just something I’d need to put up with”

Putting it with it would mean taking a power of Germans. Something John Cena also has notable experience in himself. I’m not saying Mark Coffey is Scotland’s answer to John Cena or anything but well, he clearly is. Deal wae it.
“They held me behind in training twice. Once was to get Daichi to practice Germans on me. I took about 25 in a row. Another guy I’ve been trying to get over to the UK, Dylan. Guy from New Zealand, 6 foot 4, jacked to the gills, I can’t not see him in WWE in the future. He’s just built for it. He was really good to me. So he was like “let’s go back and get something to eat and train” and they stopped us and went “No, Coffey stays for ring training” and I seen Dylan looking back, he didn’t say anything but he had a look that said “I’m so sorry mate”. So yeah, I went back, took all these Germans, and my mentality was just keep getting up. Keep getting up. In the end it was him who gave up. They done it again a week later and I took like 30 spears. I ended up being sick but he was hitting me square in the belly. So I went out, was sick and got back in the ring before they said stop. I think that’s one of the big things you need to do over there. Keep getting up. Even if you did want to quit, you couldn’t say you wanted to quit. ”

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Another thing Mark and Joe have in common is their involvement in ITV’s revival of World Of Sport. A full run of shows were announced for May this year but have been “postponed” until further notice. Many believing that it’s dead in the water. Even if it never happens, over a million people were watching The Coffeys in a scudding war with the bold Rampage Brown and Ashton Smith and in the immortal words of DDP, that’s not a bad thing…it’s….A GOOD THING.

“I know a lot of the boys are kinda frustrated. Last year ended on such a positive and such a high note for a lot of people. We were thinking “this is actually a thing now, British Wrestling is becoming something where you can make a living and you don’t need to leave the country”  Then this year we’ve seen it fall quite drastically quite quickly. I think a lot of the boys are thinking “fuck, we were so close” but you’ve just got to keep doing it. We’ve got to accept the fact that this current crop of talent in the UK right now might not make a full-time living out of wrestling, but the next generation might if we keep doing what we’re doing. Because if i look back when I started there was no one. Big Damo taught me and he’s been wrestling 6 years, which is less than I’ve been wrestling now. I don’t feel like I could teach somebody now. There was no one for us to turn to. Apart from guys like Robbie Brookside, and even Drew Mcdonald stayed down South, so these guys weren’t readily available to turn to. In America you’d probably have one veteran in every car going to a show and 3 or 4 more backstage but with us we were more flying by the seat of our pants and teaching ourselves. Now I think if we’re 40 and we’re still doing this here, at least we’ll have accomplished something and young guys coming up will have someone with 20 years experience to turn to. ”

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Despite frustrations about how the World Of Sport endeavour has panned out, it seems to have been the breeding ground for the locker room unity that has grown since and even without the show itself, it still may turn out to be the driving force behind the continuing rise of British Wrestling, and the lessening need or desire for performers to give it up.

“I think people need to justify it less. When I started about a year in I done a show with literally 4 people there. I wrestled Lewis Girvan, he’d been at it maybe a year longer than me and its something I wouldn’t even want to look back at now to laugh at. I think it would genuinely make me sick. Back then you’d be worried sick wondering if anyones going to show up. Now you know at least there will be people there. Its nice to go into certain shows now knowing its sold out. I think guys that are 2 or 3 years in, wrestling guys who have been doing it the same length of time. In a building that has more people in the back than it does out front, you can understand thinking “whats the point?” but now that’s less likely because people who’ve been doing it that length of time can look around at people who have been doing it for a long time and think there’s value to keeping at it”

The World Of Sport(s) Entertainment

Moving too far away from what made the ‘pilot’ of the WoS a success seemed to be the problem for the show. Teaming up with Impact Wrestling and allowing the company to not only impose their will, but a lot of their talent on the roster. I was admittedly a wee bit feart to even ask Mark about it all. Overstepping is always something I try to avoid when doing these interviews, and make no mistake about it, World Of Sport was an opportunity that could have been life changing. A palpable annoyance almost paired with renewed motivation poured out of him as he explained further.

“We were told to hang tight and see what happens. They’re still trying to sort it all out. I just think they got in bed with the wrong burd. They’re a TV mcoffey13company, great at TV, but they didnt have anyone wrestling related in the office. Apart from when they got on board with Jeff Jarrett. When they phoned up to tell me it’s not happening yet, I didn’t lose my shit or anything, because I kinda knew it was coming, but I swore at them, and I’d been very professional to that point but I just thought “fuck it, its not happening, or you’re telling me now it might not happen, I’m just gonna tell you what I think” If you’re asking my opinion and you’ve not asked any of the boys their opinion; I’d say tell Impact Wrestling to fuck off. They’re bringing in guys I’ve never even heard of. What’s wrong with our guys?”

That palpable annoyance over it all gradually turns into a huge amount of pride over the show that did air on ITV on Hogmanay. A continuance of the comradery that burns bright in a locker room more united than ever in the face of adversity. If the show ever does end up happening, it should happen with the talent who were involved in the first place “The best thing about it was the roster that was there was so unselfish. There was a general atmosphere that didn’t say “We’ve got this thing, its ours, lets not let anyone touch it” everyone wanted to just do a good job, and the mentality was “if we do this well, it will be good for everyone” . I think they saw how big wrestling had got in this country and they weren’t prepared for dealing with the inner workings. How you deal with certain talents, etc.”

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“That was another thing we got a lot of support from the roster on and it was nice. You do start to wonder, why have we become these martyrs? Its gonna benefit everyone, and someone needs to do it so fuck it. ”                                                                                                                                                       – Mark Coffey on Polo Promotions departure from ICW in 2016

The postponement came around the same time as 5 star Wrestling cancelling their 170000 man, 45 year long tournament, where the winner is the last one to retire. The combination of the two breeding a lasting annoyance at the pitfalls that come with British Wrestling’s “revival”. Although kind words were reserved for WCPW who also had to cancel shows around that time for different reasons “That, along with this 5 star thing that went down. I was supposed to be on all these Friday dates, and I said to him “can we confirm this now?” and he never got back to me. I actually feel for WCPW because they’ve been tarred with that brush a bit when in reality they didnt book a bunch of shows and go “we aren’t doing these now” they were honest and came out with their reasons for cancelling. I thought that video they put up was great and explained it well. They almost dumbed it down, but in a good way, explaining this is how we get our money, and if we don’t get that money we can’t pay these guys so we can’t run these shows. But with all that happening, and a lot of shows being cancelled recently, in my 7 years of wrestling, id had 3 shows cancel on me until January this year, and since January I’ve had 20. At that stage you start to count the money you’ve lost and go “fuck”. So there’s a unity now. Theres a lot of unity in the ICW locker room, and a feeling of “let’s do this for the boys, lets stick together and make sure this is good for everyone”

The spate of cancellations came not too long after Polo Promotions ended a self-imposed exile at ICW. Sacrificing their own interests and taking a step back from the company for a variety of reasons. Relinquishing their tag titles only to scoop them up again upon their return in a ladder match with the team who ‘won’ the tag titles in their absence ‘The Local Fire’.

“Money wasn’t the issue. It was a load of different things and it was one of those things where a lot of the boys felt the same way so we just took the hit for it. I went in to the office to speak to them and it quickly turned into a shouting match, so I thought ‘fuck this, im not having it anymore’ It was becoming too much of a headache. I avoid wrestling from about 9 o’clock at night before you go to bed, because if you think about it gives you a headache. It was left on Dallas mcoffey12saying I still want to work with you in the future, so it was left open-ended. I’m all about putting the power in the boys hands, and you know, there’s a lot of people backstage now that aren’t wrestlers and there was this feeling that they’re more important than us. I don’t mean that in a bad way, they are important, but at the end of the day if the backstage interviewers, the graphics guys and all that show up but the wrestlers don’t, there’s no show. All these people bought tickets to watch nothing. If it’s the other way about, there’s still a show there. The show goes on. It was a feeling that we’re undervalued. That was another thing we got a lot of support from the roster on and it was nice. You do start to wonder, why have we become these martyrs? Its gonna benefit everyone, and someone needs to do it so fuck it. ”

Every End Has A Start

polos3Despite the setbacks its important to remember just how far the independent scene in wrestling has come, both locally and globally. Mark is no different to many wrestling fans in the sense that wrestling for much of his life was just WWE. Maybe Japan a bit, but mainly WWE. Nowadays WWE are featuring British Wrestlers prominently and cherry picking the ones they think can make a difference for them. A compliment to what’s going on in the Independent wrestling scene here and beyond. “I didn’t know Indy wrestling was a thing until about 2009. I knew there was things other than WWE out there but I never watched it. I’m not gonna claim I was a big fan of this, that and the other. Nah. I’d seen Japanese shows and stuff like that and thought “aye…that’s cool…there’s Prince Albert!” *laughs* I remember picking up a magazine at that time, it must have been FSM or something and seeing Brock Lesnar when he was working for New Japan. This was when he first had that sword tattoo and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing”

His introduction to life outside WWE via Brock Lesnar’s frankly terrifying chest tattoo quickly led to the Source Wrestling School. The very existence of which seemed surreal at the time. “Joe and Jackie found the SWA school and I couldn’t stop laughing about it. Not in a mean way at all, i just couldn’t believe that something like this existed to close to home. Even wanting to be a wrestler. People always say how they watched their heroes, and said how they wanted to do that. I would always watch them and go ‘Thats amazing, I’ll never be able to do that’ the thought of me doing that is outlandish. Then I went to an SWA show with Joe and Jackie one time and thought “Fuck….I can do that!” I think it was more the physique of people who made me think I couldn’t. Because I was always very heavy. I was a very fat child, and I played rugby since I was 5 so I didn’t need to look good. As long as I could go. For the position I played in rugby I was always the fittest. So it didn’t matter that i was carrying a bit of weight as long as I could run fast enough, but getting in to something where you need to take your top off? Seeing some of the guys, the physiques now have improved tenfold as to what they were, but looking back, even me at my worst, I looked at guys back then and realised I was in better shape than them. For my first couple of matches I changed my training, then I seen pictures back of me and I thought aw god, I look terrible. Then I dropped just as much weight as possible, but it does creep back on. I think going to Japan as well, they did say to me you’re mid way between a Junior and a Heavyweight, what do you want to be? and I was like “aw yeah, a heavyweight, naturally” and they said you need to put on 10kg. So I ate everything in sight. I ate everything in sight, but I trained like a loony, came back, I was still eating everything in sight but not training like a loony *laughs* ”

“We Are A Main Event Tag Team”

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“Everywhere we go we get such a spit atmosphere and its weird. I always crack the same joke to Jackie. The moment we’re in the ring at ICW or wherever and you’ve got one half chanting “Polo Promotions” and one chanting “get tae fuck” or whatever, I always turn round and say to him “It’s like being John Cena innit”. Like we’re the John Cena of tag team wrestling” –                                                     – Mark on the mixed reaction Polo Promotions get in ICW

With the prospect of having to split in ICW hanging over Polo Promotions there’s no doubt their desire to become a tag team who regularly main event shows up and down the country will continue even if it’s not in ICW.  There’s a passion in both men when they speak about it, and there seemed to be genuine appreciation for the support they had after their victory over Moustache Mountain at Target. The pair exited through the crowd, shaking hands with fans. In their element as the main event tag team they’ve long desired to be.

“If we had to split now it would be hard. Especially coming off the back of the singles match with Trent and it got such a great response. If we split now I wouldn’t get that same organic reaction. If we were to split now I’d be swimming against the tide to move up the card in singles. So it would be a lot of treading water. In my mind, its logical to put a tag team match on last. It happens in Japanese wrestling a lot as well. If a singles match goes on last you have to be so invested in the story to get into it, but with tag team wrestling there’s more to keep you engaged. More people involved and just more action. Looking at this right now. This venue is perfect (for the match) we’ve got seating, its tiered, and over there is the Jungle (Polos singing section) the all signing all dancing section which is just the faithful. You’ll hear a lot of noise from this section tonight”

He wasn’t wrong. They are Polo Promotions supporters. Faithful through and through. Over and over. They will follow you.

Huge thank you to Mark Coffey for his time. Also big thank you to the amazing work of David J.Wilson, Chelsea Cochrane, and whoever took that photo from the crowd at Target. It captured a wonderful moment so well done to ye. 

Follow Mark on Twitter HERE
Like Polo Promotions on Facebook HERE

 

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ICW Barramania 3 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Polo Promotions vs War Machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stevie Boy vs Chris Renfrew (Last Man Standing Match)

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

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

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

DCT and Viper vs Davey Blaze and Kay Lee Ray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sha Samuels vs Kid Fite (Barras Street Fight)

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

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

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

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

Lionheart vs Joe Hendry

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

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

Grado vs Wolfgang

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bird and Boar vs Rampage Brown and Ashton Smith

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

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

Trent Seven vs Joe Coffey (ICW World Title Match)

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

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

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

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

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