Mark Dallas and his Howling Commandos’ hard work to the top has been well documented (this grand interview by Snapmare Necks covers everything in case you need refreshing or don’t know what all the fuss is about) so let’s assume you know the facts, which are ”ICW is a company without a regular TV show and managed to sell 4,500 tickets to their biggest show yet, Fear & Loathing VIII”.
Aye, they’ve had the exposure of VICE documentaries and features on the BBC but just because they’ve seen you online doesn’t mean they’re gonna buy tickets, so credit to them for getting people’s attention, running a UK Tour, grabbing the biggest venue they could find, shouting ”ALRIGHT, WE’RE RUNNING A SHOW HERE IN NOVEMBER” and making a lot of interested fans reply ”OK, see you there.”
I travelled via train rather than coach for the first time in years (I’m a tight bastard) but due to Hurricane Abigail, the train prices were way down. I half-expected the trains to fly off the tracks like a dodgy Scalextric set but all that happened was a few dozen Northerners begrudgingly put on coats. Even on the train up, people with ICW shirts were gathering and it only increased at Glasgow Central. Everywhere you looked the logo was there, as if Glasgow had turned into Mecca and this was a Big Hairy Man Pilgrimage.
Me and former Botchamania.com scribe Marty met-up and shuffled to Lebowski’s, a Big Lebowski-based pub in Glasgow West. I fucked up and ordered a Scottish Brunch because the menu wasn’t exactly honest. The mess of a dinner made The People Who Live In A Country Where The Battered Mars Bar Is Tradition laugh and ask ”you’re no gonna eat that are ya?” Cider was nice though, as was the photo of Jeffrey Lebowski on the disabled toilet door.
Some guy: so how many times have ye been stabbed?
Me: er none.
Some guy: oh sorry, you’re not from Glasgow?
Listening to the swelling mass of fans give their opinions about the show was the most interesting thing about the (shite) meal. Usually at pre-show gatherings, fans are venting their opinions on the business due to the apparent lack of people they know in real life who want to listen, as if they’ve saved up every negative thought to share with their wrestling friends. ”Lemme tell ya what’s wrong with that there Monday Night Raw” etc. Not here. Not in Glasgow on a Sunday night. Not when everybody’s wearing NAK or Joe Hendry or Wee Man shirts.
”I hope that cunt Jack Jester loses to Damo. I was front row for the Barrowlands and he asked me a question at ringside and then said on the mic ”sorry love, I don’t speak fat.” Fuck him and The Black Label, Drew’s losing his title too.”
This is real to a lot of people. I don’t mean that in a ”ha ha they don’t know it’s fake!” mocking way, I mean the appeal of ICW is real. No-one’s talking about WWE because they’re cartoon characters, but the gob-shites, rockers, Horror lovers, Buckfast drinkers and (most importantly) SCOTTISH wrestlers are reason to be cared about because they’re real. Characters resembling real people you’d meet and hang or fall out with who act and talk like real people may do. The yanks have their place and Glasgow November 15th 2015 ain’t it. So fuck ’em. And fuck Jack Jester too.
The SECC is a real arena too. A real arena with a reeeeeeal fucking big queue, which is always a good sign. My mate sat in the Disabled section because of his fucked foot (he hasn’t got dog bites though so I’ve got bragging rights) so I watch the show with his mates, who were from London but were alright despite this handicap. The Glaswegians I spoke to seemed to like Newcastle, because ”you’re just like Scots, just with your brains beaten oot.” (thanks Allan)
The Disabled section was risen up, but everything else is on one level. We are all equally worthless, Sgt. Hartman be proud. Looked great on camera but good luck finding someone you knew unless you had GPS.
Owners/promoters Mark Dallas & Chris Toal soaked up the deserved adulation and point out the lovely Titantron they had for the evening, dubbed ”The Big Telly.” They then announced next year’s Fear & Loathing IX will take place at The Hydro.
It seats 13,000. CHRIST.
Hey if anybody can fill it, it’s these friggers.
Red Lightning then showed up to be a dick, which brought out MICK FUCKING FOLEY to sort shite out with his Rick Rubin-sized beard and to ensure the crowd had been lubed up and ready to splurt. He even dropped the F-Bomb, causing ICW compère Billy Kirkwood to flail wildly at ringside.
Also of note: Foley wore a Cornette Face shirt. Ah, remember when I made that? No? Oh. Well I had a lot of pride seeing my favourite wrestler of all time wearing it to this huge event. It was hard watching a wrestling show with an erection, mind.
Show started proper with Davey Boy finally getting his shot at his ex-Bucky Boy tag partner Stevie Boy, with the Zero G title on the line. Stevie’s one of the many NAK (New Age Klique) members in ICW, meaning they’re bastards but so are half the crowd so it was an even-split. Stevie didn’t windmill his cock at the crowd like he did at Newcastle but he ended up losing so he probably should have. Stevie Boy gave his larger opponent the Coatbridge Destroyer but Davey Boy kicked out (whit?!) and gave him one of his own for the three-count, the title and bragging rights.
Side-note: I asked on Twitter what Stevie Boy called his finisher and got seven different answers so it’s the Devil’s Halo/Glaswegian Destroyer/Buckfast Beatdown. Take your pick.
The beloved team of Joe Hendry, Kenny Williams & Noam Dar took on James R. Kennedy’s society of shit-arses The 55, this time represented by Lionheart, Liam Thomson & Doug Williams. Hendry made his way to the ring in an inflatable ball whilst the Big Telly played a video of him singing Miley Cyrus. Lionheart dragged a fan over the guard-rail and kicked cunt out of him as security broke it up. Only Lionheart could break his neck and still be hated by so many. On the other side of the ring, Kenny & Dar demonstrated why they’re walking T-Shirt Machines with their crisp offence, flippy flips and sexy haircuts. I don’t know where Hendry was the whole match (if it was at ringside and The Big Telly didn’t capture it, you couldn’t see it) but he only re-appeared for the finish. Doug Williams (yes, that Doug Williams) jumped off the top rope, credit where that’s due.
Outta nowhere, Jimmy Havoc made his return to the delighted squeal of my London mates and a collected ”look at that fucking hair” to everyone else around me. He gave all of The 55 Acid Rainmakers as the the arena warmed up to the PROGRESS mega-star. Then The Scot Squad (a TV show ICW have guest-starred in) showed up to remove Lionheart for beating up fans. The crowd responded with a giant ”FUCK THE POLIS”. Then Carmel Jacob returned and attacked Liam Thompson and challenged him to a match at the next show before giving him the line of the night ”You’d have been a shite husband anyway.”
That was all one long post-match runaround, like prime ECW. Not a bad thing to be compared to.
‘The Best In The Galaxy’ Nikki Storm & Kay Lee Ray were about to square off to decide the first ever ICW Women’s Championship but Commish Foley (w/ Cornette Face shirt) got rid of Ray’s NAK crew at ringside to ensure it was a fair fight…and also inserted the got-screwed Viper into the mix! I LOVE VIPER. She used to regularly wrestle in South Shields and last time I saw her, T-Bone was giving her a tombstone. She’s a big woman (in a good way, piss off ye) so whenever she did anything, the crowd collectively braced themselves for something bad. It’s good to see a major company giving females a fair-go without the usual WOMEN CAN WRESTLE TOO!! condescension and just let their wrestling do the talking. After several ”oh mah gawwd” moments involving Viper jumping off the top-rope, she eventually pinned both women to claim the title. Wee aye.
ECW original Rhyno (who looks the same as he did in 2001) vs. Joe Coffey (who gets bigger every year), in the battle of the brick shithouses. Both men got big responses, but in the battle of who had the most crowd response, Coffey won that one with the sing-along Iron Man riff and ”HE’S A WRESTLER, A MIGHTY WRESTLER, HIS NAME IS JOE COFFEY” to the tune of In The Jungle. Still, people wanted the Gore and got it when Rhyno planted Coffey through a table. The big get kicked out though, gored Rhyno (ya canna de that man) and finished him off with the Spinning Elbow.
Polo Promotions members Jackie Polo & Mark Coffey defended their tag titles against The 55 members Kid Fite & Sha Samuels. ICW fucking loves groups, it’s like a real-life WCW/nWo Revenge. I’m still not exactly sure what the Polo Promotions gimmick is, but I just take it as The Brittas Empire as wrestlers and it seems to work. They’ve held the tag titles for over a year, would The 55 be good enough to end it? Nah. Sha didn’t get nearly enough hate for a East Londoner was I was expecting (but my mates cheered for him until I shouted ”we’ll get stabbed, shurrup”). Polo retained, crowd was happy.
Then came a big, big match, thankfully recapped for us via music video package because a lot had gone into this feud: NAK members Renfrew, BT Gunn, & Wolfgang finally finishing things with Legion (The Sumerian Death Squad & Mikey Whiplash) in a cage match. This was a sweet-looking cage too, not like the chicken-wire death-trap WWE uses on their house shows. Elimination escape rules applied, but the teams were more focused on removing an opponent so they had the numbers advantage for shit-kicking. Way too much action to summarise here with the crowd split 50/50 for either team. It eventually came down to Whiplash and Gunn fighting on top of the cage and after teasing a suplex into the ring (which would have take out the Big Tellies Above The Ring and probably would have killed someone and the budget) before both men took one another out and plummeted to the outside and through tables. As both men were helped to their feet by their comrades and the match was announced a draw, Whiplash demanded Renfrew come in and kill him. However, Gunn knocked his mate down and took his place so he could Superkick Whiplash and put him out of his misery. NAK won, Legion lost. Both teams showed respect over the decision, the crowd was impressed no-one died.
Jack Jester and Damo had the dubious honour of filling the gap between that and the main event but both men are respected (if not liked). Jester usually starts fights with fans as he makes his way to the ring but even he wasn’t mad enough to fight 4,000 fans. Well, maybe. Damo was the bigger, badder man but Jester’s strategy of ”wey it’s no DQ so I’ll twat him with a chair” was smart enough to even the odds. Sadly for him, Damo used this to splat Jester with the chair and his own body-weight and picked up the win. Jester usually gets some positive reaction on the shows I’ve seen him on, but this time it was all Daaaaaaammooooooooo.
And then, it was main event time. The difference in crowd reaction to this match to the rest of the show was almost night and day, a substantial amount of people were there to see Grado and Grado only. You’ve not lived until you’ve heard an arena full of grown men sing along to Madonna’s Like a Prayer with raw, pissed passion. It feels like…home. Judging by some Twitter comments, some fans told each other ”I’m not gonna sing that shite” but failed.
This wasn’t just Drew Galloway vs. Grado for the big belt though. Hell, that could have sold on just name alone but ICW are better than that. Galloway spent the last few months mocking Grado and his inability to wrestle seriously, whereas he was a serious athlete. How could Mr. Bumbag beat a former WWE IC Champ? This was the story of the match too, with Galloway dismissing Grado’s attempt at moves with the simplest of counters. It was entertaining as hell to see Grado’s biggest detraction by critics (and Yanks) be used for the match itself, with Drew managing fine until he got overconfident and sucked on a Grado Frankensteiner. Crowd was LOUD AS FUCKING FUCK too, as if that needed to be pointed out. The ref got knocked down, Red Lightning showed up until Foley gave him socko until Grado gave him The Wee Boot and Mark Dallas himself ran down to count the pin and the arena blew up. My mate in the disabled section told me a fan had been sat down in his wheelchair the whole night but when Grado won the match and title, he lept up off his chair and onto his feet.
Grado winning the ICW Title. Worth losing your Employment Support Allowance for.
Post-match the non-group members of the ICW locker-room came out to congratulate Grado as the crowd danced and sung G-R-A-D-O to the tune of D-I-S-C-O and the blind were healed and the sun came out the sky and all was well in the world for one night.
Then we went and got our stuff from the cloakroom and a man was so livid with Drew’s defeat that he could barely speak. He seemed possessed and had to leave his mates to calm down whilst he swatted away imaginary flies. It’s not often you see wrestling shows cause people to have nervous breakdowns, but that’s ICW for ya.
Everyone loves you when you’re the underdog and you beat the establishment, but when you become the establishment, there’s just as many people ready to tear you down.
Good luck taking these cunts down.