In the build up to the biggest show in their history, Fear and Loathing VIII at the SECC on the 15th of November, ICW made their way to Edinburgh for a run of shows at City Nightclub. I was lucky enough to have a season ticket for the event. Having previously been a bit of a part-time ICW fan, it’s fair to say that this particular run has seen me fall in love with this Scottish wrestling company.
However, lets start with some of the problems I feel ICW has at the moment. The simplest being, too many stables. ICW currently has three major heel stables. The Black Label, The 55 and The NAK. Now heel stables are a wrestling trope. They’re a good way to give the heels an unfair advantage and since the NWO most companies have had at least one on the go at any time. However, having three is slightly overboard. It led to there being far too many matches ending in interference from one stable or another. The most obvious example being during week three, when Joe Coffey and Drew Galloway’s fantastic main event was brought to an early conclusion by Red Lightning’s demands. It was a cheap finish, which ended a brilliant show on a bit of a sour note. Strip back a couple of these stables and limit finishes coming because of them and the product will improve.
That leads nicely to downside number two. Red Lightning is not only a member of the heel stable, Black Label, but is also the current general manager. If heel stables are overused, then heel General Managers are even worse. Quite frankly it’s a cheap way to progress storylines and while I think Lightning does a decent job in the role, I’m just a bit bored of the role itself. I honestly think wrestling companies need to be brave enough to ditch on-screen authority figures full stop. Have Mark Dallas pop up every now and then for major decisions and leave it at that.
Finally, ICW do have a tendency to allow things to go on for just a few minutes longer than they should. Particularly post match beat downs. The final show, A Horse, A Spoon and a Bucket, saw Big Damo being beat down by The 55 and Black Label after a match. That in itself is not a problem. However, it just seemed to go on and on. It went past being brutal and just became boring. Plus no matter how hardcore they are, chair shots to the head aren’t needing.
Yet not of this really changes anything, because in the whole these were still great events. ICW has something special going on at the moment and they sold that to the Edinburgh crowd during this run. On a simple level, they are helped by a group of great wrestlers. The likes of Mikey Whiplash are a joy to watch in the ring and the hard-hitting battles between Legion (Whiplash and the Sumerian Death Squad) and the NAK were some of the most exciting and chaotic matches I’ve ever seen. While Whiplash also proved himself a brilliant technical wrestler during his entertaining encounter with Jack Gallagher on week two.
At the top of the card, Drew Galloway still feels a star. Not just because of his association with WWE, but because he acts and is treated like one. Damo is the muscle guy and his big hitting style is just great fun to watch. While Joe Coffey is one that everyone should be keeping their eyes on. Further down the card you have the ridiculously entertaining Joe Hendry, who entertained everyone with a concert on the final night. While Irn Jew (Colt Cabana and Grado) put on some of the most genuinely entertaining matches I have ever seen in the flesh. Their encounter with The GZRS was particularly brilliant and is well worth checking out on ICW on demand.
On top of all of that, the likes of Noam Dar, Lou King Sharp and Polo Promotions are all easily worthy of mention, but if I keep talking this article will go on forever. So let’s focus on some moments. The one that instantly springs to mind is the closing of the last show, which saw Grado challenge Drew Galloway for the title at the aforementioned SECC show. It was a good switch for Grado, having played the comedic idiot with Colt for the rest of the run, as he showed some real fire when making the challenge. The segment went on a fraction too long, but the crowd were so pumped for Grado that it didn’t hurt it.
In a slightly different turn of events, Lionheart got some of the hottest heat I’ve ever heard after feigning a neck injury during a match with Kenny Williams. Having only recently returned from a broken neck, there was some genuine panic in City Nightclub and the place went silent. I had a friend with me who was genuinely shaken up by the incident and depending on your point of view, it was either a moment of genius, or a step too far.
ICW offer a genuine alternative. Not in the way that TNA offer an alternative, by being a slightly watered down version of the WWE, but by being a bona-fide adult product that gets the balance right more often than not. These shows had a little bit of everything, from the NAK and Legion beating the crap out of each other to Irn Jew and the GZRS bringing a slip and side into the ring and inserting digits up Grado’s arse. If you’re at all interested in an actual adult wrestling product then I suggest you get on it now, either by popping along to a show in the UK or by signing up for their On Demand product. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than the Network and may just be better.