Bought A Ticket, Took The Ride

*WARNING: SOME STRONG LANGUAGE*

I never write. When I want to tell people how much I enjoyed something I’d tell them verbally, or compose a few tweets, but after what I witnessed this past Sunday, I can’t simply convey it to people online in just a few paltry tweets. No, fuck it, I have been bitten by the ICW bug and we’re going all the fucking way!

Insane Championship Wrestling means a lot to me, both as a fan and on a personal level. When I first laid eyes on the product, over three years ago now, it was like the stars had aligned and finally, after years of getting blown off by WWE and TNA, I had something I could really sink my teeth into. ICW’s Insane In The Membrane show corrupted me instantly. It was like putting up with the shite on the radio and then one day discovering heavy metal. I gave it one watch and fell in love with it instantly. It’s a rare thing in wrestling these days to find something which sucks you in instantly, but with that show ICW managed to do it. ICW has become the new “constant” in my life. Things come and go but ICW is going to be there and every month they’re going to give you every penny of your ticket fee and then some. ICW allowed me to network with more wrestling fans. ICW became that cool thing to show your friends. Fuck, without going into too much detail, ICW saved my fucking life. When it’s laid out like this, you can understand why I laughed at anyone who said I was crazy for travelling from my tiny village on the coast of Pembrokeshire in south west Wales all the way to fucking GLASGOW for three and a bit hours of wrestling.

ICW is the real “little wrestling company that could”. Fuck TNA and that shite Hogan spewed about them in 2010, brother. ICW is the true company that could. And did. Let’s take a look at their track record.

In 2006 ICW were running shows in front of 25 people in the Maryhill community centre. From that point onwards, there have been two continuous elements when it comes to ICW. There has been an almost continuous and sustained period of growth, and there has been an almost continuous and sustained levels of detractors licking their chops and wringing their hands at the thought of this wee Scottish fed that’s a “disgrace to wrestling” failing. Let me tell you this right now. ICW isn’t going anywhere any time soon. From selling out the Classic Grand, to the Garage, to the Edinburgh Picture House (“ICW can never draw a thousand!!”), to the ABC, to the Barrowlands, to the god damn SECC and next year, to the motherfucking HYDRO, ICW have constantly proven the naysayers wrong while laughing directly in their face while they do so. To get to this level takes smart business decisions and more importantly, big bollocks. Mark Dallas made the smart business decision to have Triple G Music handle the er… business, and he also has huge fucking bollocks for basically saying “aye lad we’re gonna run here next November and we’re gonna triple our attendance record!”. It’s a mammoth task but I have every faith that ICW can do it.

Next November, ICW WILL run a show in front of 11,000 people. You can take that to the bank. The best part is, I’m not the only one who believes they can do it. Last Sunday, 3,999 other people believed they could do it too.

It was a legitimate sellout for ICW on sunday as 4000 people packed themselves into a sweatbox (Jesus Christ that place was HOT) known as the SECC in Glasgow for the BIGGEST BRITISH WRESTLING SHOW IN OVER THIRTY YEARS™.

The atmosphere was big all day all across the city. From the girl at the desk at the Braehead Travelodge, to the train station, to Sauchiehall St, to the bus and taxi drivers, to the people of Scotrail for announcing on the PA at the station that they were laying on extended services for those coming back from “ICW Wrestling”, every cunt in Glasgow knew about the big wrestling show that night. Heading into the city centre that afternoon I couldn’t help but notice there was a steady stream of people clad in ICW merch walking past. Going to Box for pre drinks just added to the excitement. Total strangers greeting you and saying hello just because you’re wearing ICW merch. Heading back from Box to the station to head to the Exhibition Centre, more of the same. Where else would something like this happen? I’m struggling to think of anywhere besides ICW and PROGRESS. There’s a reason why Dallas uses “we” a lot in interviews. From the management, to the workers, to the fans, ICW is a family. Where else could you be instantly welcomed and accepted based solely on your choice in wrestling companies?

The queue wrapped twice around the long concourse of the SECC as the excitement level was slowly coming to the boil. WOOOO’s and New Day claps (layered underneath chants of I… C DUB) were coming thick and fast. Everybody in the queue was talking with their queue neighbours about the show. “Grado’s gotta win this!”, “This is my first ICW show”, “I’ve come from Wales/Ireland/America/Canada/Finland/France/Scandinavia/Garscadden to see this”, it was at that moment it suddenly clicked. ICW isn’t this Scottish thing. ICW is truly worldwide. My realisation of what ICW had become in such a short time was immediately stopped when an eruption of cheers and fuck you’s were heard from way down in the depths of the concourse, and it was heading my way. Drew Galloway made his way along the crowd to a reception of cheers and middle fingers, stopping to flip off a FUCK THE LABEL sign, recording the entire thing to show the world ICW isn’t fucking around tonight.

Finally the doors opened to a 4000 strong roar of impatience and thanks as we walked our way through the doors into hall 3. There it was. The ring. The lights. The stage. The cage. The HUGE video screens. This is really happening. We found a spot with a good view and within minutes we were completely enclosed by a sea of people. The place popped huge for a test of the cage lowering mechanism only to boo when we discovered ICW were cockteasing us and it was raised back up. The background music stopped. The lights went down. On the Big Telly™ came a trailer for the upcoming ICW video game, which looks really promising. The crowd erupts for this. Seriously, it was one of the loudest pops of the night. When fans are reacting like this to a video game trailer outside of a video games expo, you know they’re doing something right. The best active ring announcer in the world, Simon Cassidy, then came out to a loving welcome. It was less of a “yay the show is about to begin” and more of a “hey there’s our mate Simon!”. He welcomed us to the show, ran down the mandatory health and safety bollocks, told us not to be dicks, and told us to enjoy the show. At this point, a guy called Adam (an ICW fan I’ve been in touch with for years) grabbed me and said “wait til yae hear this pop fae Billeh” and as soon as he let me go, 4000 people lost their shit for Billy Fucking Kirkwood. Billy looked up at the four Not So Big Tellys™ flung above the ring and said “Jesus Christ it’s like looking up Darth Vaders arsehole”.

And then it happened.

“3… 2… 1…”

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH”

“Good evening everyone and welcome to ICW’s Fear And Loathing 8, coming to you live, right here from the sold out SECC in GLASGOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW”

There’s no need for me to go into details and run down the card with results and analysis. It’s been done plenty of times elsewhere and if you’re reading this, then you already know what’s happened anyway. What I can say is the show was all killer from top to bottom. From the thunderous reception to Mick Foley and his F-Bomb, to the former Bucky Boys beating the pish out of each other, to Joe Hendry making his entrance a Hendry Ball, to the crowd going mental for Viper becoming the first women’s champion, to the fun heckling Sha Samuels, to the shock and almost disgust at some of the things which happened in the cage match, to the awe of the mountain of badass known as Damo, to Drew Galloway looking straight at me (I swear!) while I’m calling him a cunt, to the earth shattering cheer when Grado finally won the ICW World Heavyweight Championship, which was akin to seeing your team score the winning goal at Wembley.

Probably one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken and one of a few taken that night which weren’t blurry as fuck.
The show was something which I will remember for my entire life. It was one of those things I can look back on waaaay into the future and say that I was fucking there!

I was laughing with pure joy all the way back to the train station before I sat on the train (after standing for around five hours in total, that crappy little train seat might as well have had a halo and heavenly harps playing over it) and let out a relieving “ahhhh” so powerful you’d have thought it’d come from a 60 year old wanting a nice sit down rather than a 25 year old who’d been standing at an off angle to see around the beanpole in front of me all night.

Even the afterparty at Cathouse was brilliant. It was packed with fans and talent, all getting shitfaced and celebrating a job well done. Renfrew shook my hand and genuinely thanked me for coming, Joe Hendry ignored me on the stairs (never meet your Local Heroes) and Wolfgang looked the absolute bollocks in a suit. The after party itself was just as fun as the show we’d just left.

And here I am now. One week later, my voice is still raspy, my neck is still sore, my feet are still blistered, and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

To ICW, Mark Dallas, and every person in that locker room. Thank you so much.

(A follow up on Hendry ignoring me, I am now 100% assured he just flat out didn’t hear me and he wasn’t being a dickhead or anything, however after consuming more alcohol in one night than I’d had in the past two years, my mind came to the completely sensible, logical, rational and not remotely overthought conclusion that not only was Joe Hendry too big of a star to notice me, but he blanked me on the stairs as a personal shot against myself after literally being a fan of his since day one and somehow this was WRONG! Sober me thinks correctly though so still love you Joe. You are still my Local Hero.)

Our thanks to Tom for writing such a passionate and fantastic account of Fear and Loathing VIII. You can follow him on Twitter.

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