Insane Championship Wrestling fans are aware of the upcoming co-main event for Barramania IV which is going to be Lionheart versus arguably his greatest rival-Jackie Polo. I was carefully watching the 7th Annual Square Go on ICW on Demand where the King of Chat had a face-off with one of the veterans of Scottish professional wrestling Lionheart. Initially, I was not fully aware of their feud and history, so I got intrigued and decided to correct myself and do some research. It turns out a lot of new ICW fans are not entirely familiar with this long, storied feud. That is why I have decided to address their story and take you back almost six years ago…
CLASH OF GENERATIONS
The beginning of this feud is a little bit foggy. Various sources will state different years and various reasons for the first spark of hatred between Lionheart and Polo. As most fellow ICW fans know, Lionheart decided to retire from wrestling for a while back in 2012 as he got frustrated with the business and his own career. He quickly regretted that decision and wanted to come back, which a lot of wrestlers in the locker room would find understandably disrespectful. He was pulling the classic wrestling move done so many times by the likes of Ric Flair and Terry Funk. When Lionheart came back Jackie Polo was still fresh in ICW. Some would say Polo had an issue with the way Lionheart presented himself to promoters, genuinely believing Lionheart was an ass-kisser. In return Lionheart would not agree with Polo’s way of doing business either. These are just speculations that have been addressed briefly in the ring by Jackie Polo where he would mention his thoughts on Lionheart’s self-promotion techniques and mock him by saying he begged Johnny Ace (John Laurinaitis) on his hands and knees to take a look at his matches.
Fast forward to 2013, Jackie Polo had a feud with Mark Dallas for ownership of ICW. During their ‘’match’’ (in quotation marks because it was barely a match) Lionheart interfered to help Dallas. That is where the feud would officially start developing in my opinion.
THIS IS YOUR LIFE SEGMENT
This is where I have to mention the horrible “This Is Your Life” segment Jackie Polo held at Shugs House Party 2014. I can honestly say it was one of the worst things I have ever witnessed in the history of professional wrestling and that includes the Katie Vick incident of 2002. Even though the segment was a disaster, Jackie Polo touched on a lot of personal issues by mocking Lionheart’s personal life in a very over-the-top satirical fashion. Polo would continue to build on his bad guy persona and get more heat from the fans. Lionheart would play the role of the victim of his mockery and would confront him to seek revenge.
P.S. I think we can all agree that “This Is Your Life” segments should be banned altogether. We all saw what happened when Alexa Bliss attempted to do one for Bayley…
ANOTHER RETIREMENT LOOMS
Finally, in 2014 things were finally supposed to unravel in the ring when Jackie Polo and Lionheart were supposed to have a ‘’Kiss My Arse Match’’ in order to settle their quarrel once and for all. Unfortunately, the worst thing that could ever happen to a wrestler happened to Lionheart. On March 1st 2014 AJ Styles accidentally injured Lionheart’s neck with the Styles Clash.
The following day fans, wrestlers and promoters from all around the world would wish Lionheart a quick recovery and send their thoughts and prayers. On the same day with absolutely no remorse, the stone cold Jackie Polo would address the injury by tweeting “Another retirement looms” in reference to Lionheart’s retirement in 2012. We have all heard of the wrestlers that love to keep it kayfabe no matter what. The question is how far can you go? Why would Jackie Polo continue to throw wood into the fire if Lionheart had a potentially career ending injury? Why would you continue to tease something that might not ever happen? Is it really that personal? This just keeps us wondering and that is the beauty of it.
THE RETURN OF THE JEDI
Real heat or not it did not really matter at the point, it felt real as hell and that is what made it gold. Lionheart and Jackie Polo did have inexplicable tension and chemistry whenever standing in the ring together. The fact that it could never get physical between the two made the fans want it even more. Following that tweet from the self- proclaimed best-Scottish-wrestler Jackie Polo, is when things got even more personal. Lionheart managed to get himself back in the ring and miraculously recovered from that horrific neck injury and managed to come back to get his hands on Jackie.
For those of you who would like to get even more some insights on the feud I would personally recommend the Shoot Interview Face Off the two had prior to the 4th Annual Square Go. This is where the line between reality and fiction starts to get really blurred. During that interview The King of Chat is clearly in character, keeps himself at a certain distance and does not get personal. Whilst Lionheart tries so hard to make it personal; he confronts Jackie by telling him to ‘’take his character away and tell him why he is targeting him.’’ To which Jackie responds “You tell me to drop character, I don’t know what you are talking about’’. A very controversial interview, where neither the fans nor even Billy Kirkwood can tell what is real and what is not. It is one of the very few times where a feud is actually so personal but one of the opponents does not want to admit it. Jackie would do anything to put more salt into the open wound, whilst Lionheart let’s that affect him on a very emotional level.
At last, we get to the action which happens at a match during Barramania 2015, a match three years in the making. Polo and Lionheart finally get their hands on each other. This is where this feud goes a bit downhill. The match, many wrestling fans felt did not compliment the storyline as much as it should have. Which I can understand, but we have to consider the fact in 2015 that storyline was not the main thing going on in ICW. It was presented as a mid-card match and as much as it was hyped to be a big feud there were bigger things happening pretty much overshadowing it. I believe the issue was time constraints; the match lasted no longer than 15 minutes and it seemed a bit rushed. Despite all of that, it was a very methodical performance with Polo focusing on the neck injury of his opponent, which kept Lionheart down most of the time. Jackie completely dominated the match. It was a match that was not about technique, skills and psychology (even though they showcased all that) it was mainly a match that was supposed to tell a story. It could have been longer and more intense considering the build-up for it, but keeping in mind the short time they were given it was a good match overall. The result, well, ICW did what ICW is all about they had to build their young up-and-coming talent and Lionheart had to lose.
Following the ending of the match, the King of Chat picks up the mic and kicks Lionheart under the belt and ends it with the savage remark “Good luck against AJ whenever he comes back to break your neck one more time.”
“THEY NEVER SETTLED IT!”
After their feud was over, the two rivals went on to do their own thing: win titles, main event shows and continue to build their characters even further. Nothing much happened until this year’s 7th Square Go at the ABC in Glasgow. Entrant number 19 was Jackie Polo. This is where it starts to look like a Mystery Case Files game, starting with the jacket Polo wears which reads “Scotland’s Best Wrestler” on the back, a jacket he hasn’t worn in years. In addition to it, wearing the very same gear he wore during his match with Lionheart at Barramania in 2015. The clues get more and more obvious when Lionheart enters under number 20. They face off once again years after we thought it all was over. Billy Kirkwood immediately acknowledges the reborn feud with excitement “They never settled it, yes, Jackie beat [Lionheart] at Barramania but they never settled it! “During the match, Lionheart and Jackie manage to avoid each other until the very end, where they are part of the final five amongst Mark Coffey, Kenny Williams and Stevie Boy. Jackie and Lionheart exchange a few forearms but do not eliminate each other. Mark Coffey eliminates Lionheart and Stevie Boy throws Polo over the top rope. I personally thought that was very clever. The two rivals glance at each other from the opposite sides of the ring and as they say in wrestling “always leave them wanting more” which is exactly what they did.
The following night at ICW Fight Club Jackie Polo comes to the ring in a suit, announcing his retirement from professional wrestling to the crowd. Clearly mocking Lionheart once again and bringing up more and more bitter memories from the past. Lionheart comes out stating he cannot be the ICW heavyweight champion until he manages to beat Jackie Polo. At that moment Dallas interrupts and announces Lionheart vs Jackie Polo II at Barramania on 29th of April 2018.
I believe this feud has aged like fine wine. The personal hatred that has literally been years in the making with not enough in-ring action to resolve it, is finally put in the spotlight.
This time, this is going to be the main event, this time Polo and Lionheart are going to be the main focus in ICW. This time their faces will be on the poster for Barramania. This time, they will tell their story and people will get even more behind it. This time they will have the time to tell us all about it in the ring. This time Lionheart has the final say as he ends the show with the words “Barramania, another retirement looms”. We can only wait and see how it all unfolds come Barramania.
– Dropkick Queen