“I-C-Dub! I-C-Dub! I-C-Dub!”
The phenomenon of Insane Championship Wrestling has humble beginnings, and yet, at their Barramania show on 29 March a press conference was held to announce that their annual Fear and Loathing event would be held in the massive SECC.
Now in its eighth installment, Fear and Loathing will be held on 15 November, and with the huge increase in capacity, has a potential of being seen live by over 5,000 people. It is crazy to think that this all began in a small community hall in Maryhill.
At the first Fear and Loathing event, Drew Galloway was crowned the first ever ICW World Heavyweight Champion (the then-ICW Heavyweight Champion, the “World” was added due to the company’s increased exposure and success earlier this year). He then went on to appear in the WWE, the world’s largest sports entertainment company, with a number of successful title runs. Now, he’s back in ICW, and he’s champion again. Having someone who has been seen on the world stage as the promotion’s champion is taking ICW from strength to strength, from small west end community halls to the Barrowland Ballroom.
The brainchild of Mark Dallas, ICW is a labour of love and passion. Knowing the business inside out, Dallas set up ICW and has taken a leaf out of Vince McMahon’s book, the boss of WWE, in taking risks at every opportunity that he believes in. More often than not, they work spectacularly. Whether it’s staging a pillow fight in George Square to promote an event or taking his promotion on tour around the UK followed by a BBC film crew, everything has come together to see the Scottish wrestling scene become more respected year on year. Fighting Spirit Magazine named ICW as the best UK wrestling promotion in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Indeed, over the last couple of years the promotion has attracted world-renowned stars such as Colt Cabana, Sabu, Rhyno, and Prince Devitt, now heading for the big time as Finn Bálor in WWE. At a recent TNA (the second biggest wrestling promotion, at least in the western world) recording in Glasgow ICW stars Noam Dar and Kay Lee Ray defeated the team of Rampage Brown and Gail Kim, and also appeared in the talent scouting show TNA British Boot Camp.
With WWE being a PG-rated show, and with live events like gigs becoming ever more expensive in the city, ICW has tapped into something the public was calling out for. Their live events are a constant buzz from start to finish of adult entertainment filled with humour and pantomime-like theatrics, mixed in with bloody violence and enough swearing to make South Park blush.
Like The Rock and Hulk Hogan, wrestling stars can transcend their origins and the Glaswegian wrestling scene has its own star. Grado, real name Graeme Stevely, is not the most conventional looking grappler – a little overweight and not the most graceful of wrestlers, he has become somewhat of a phenomenon. From the social media campaign that found him fame within the scene when he was trying to get booked on a show to appearing on River City, BBC comedies, and singing on stage with metal band 36 Crazyfists, Grado is the full package. Comedian Robert Florence has called him the funniest man in Scotland, and his sharp colloquial humour has found him fame outside of the wrestling scene.
Being featured in two BBC documentaries, entitled Insane Fight Club, hasn’t hurt the promotion either. With lots of people growing up watching WWE but feeling they grew out of it, enough people had an interest to tune into the documentaries and found themselves being the demographic ICW were looking for. At Barramania, the crowd was as diverse as you could get – people of all shapes and sizes, some in smart casual dress, others showing up with facepaint of their favourite wrestlers, there is a real sense of coming together to enjoy a different form of live entertainment.
Perhaps most remarkably, ICW has made it cool to like wrestling again. There are no dismissal remarks towards ICW fans about wrestling being fake. Quite the opposite, those who were disillusioned by the big league promotions have found what they loved so much about WWE’s Attitude Era growing up in the unashamedly bonkers world of Insane Championship Wrestling. With Fear and Loathing VIII being held at the SECC and a videogame on the way, it seems the sky is the limit for the little promotion that could.
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