The build to ICW’s show at the SECC has been a long one. The biggest British wrestling event since the 80’s, it all seemed a bit improbable and fans and performers alike seemed to share the feeling that it was a bit of a dream. This couldn’t actually be happening, could it? Well, it did and on Sunday the 15th of November ICW took the SECC by storm and showed the world that this is where they deserve to be.
What makes an ICW event is the relationship between the crowd and those in the ring. It’s the soul of the company and it has to be said it’s a soul that takes a bit of a kicking in a big arena. The crowd is so big that different sides are often chanting different thing and a slither of that brilliant atmosphere is lost. Yet not even that could dampen the party. As Mark Dallas kicked things off by announcing that next year they’d be doing this all again, but across the road at the slighter larger Hydro, it became clear that even with this event having barely started, ICW are already looking ahead.
And you can see why because this was one hell of a show. Even Mick Foley seemed genuinely amazed at what he had walked into. ICW know how to deliver and from the first bell to last this was made up of memorable moments. Whether it was Davey Boy finally getting the best of his former partner Stevie to win the Zero G Title or the NAK and Legion beating the crap out of each other in a cage, ICW knocked it out of the park.
Before I get to that though I am going to point to some niggles. They still need to perfect the flow of their show. Little decisions like putting Damo and Jack Jester on before the main event didn’t quite work. The crowd was tired by that point having been on their feet for nearly four hours and a faster paced and shorter match would have perked them up. While the decision to take the cage apart rather than just raising it after the cage match was a strange one. There may well be reasons for it that I don’t know about, but again it slowed everything down at a time when feet were beginning to ache. These were minor issues though and I’m getting them out-of-the-way to show that on the whole, this show delivered.
Two of the highlights came from the Zero G Title match and the Joe Coffey and Rhyno encounter. The Zero G match was fast paced with Davey Boy and Stevie trading finishers. Both men have consistently been great workers for ICW and they showed they can deliver on the big stage. Even if something got the better of Stevie and led to him throwing up his dinner. Coffey and Rhyno meanwhile was just two big men hitting each other with everything they had. I think I developed a bruise from just watching it so fuck knows how they’re feeling today.
Then there was that cage match. The Legion and The NAK have turned beating the shit out of each other into an art form and this match raised the bar yet again. When a guy like Wolfgang takes flight from the top of the cage you think you’ve seen it all but he was one-upped by Mikey Whiplash and BT Gunn unleashing hell on each other. Gunn coming off the top of the cage with a stomp to Whiplash’s head as he was held off the top rope by Renfrew is one of the most brutal spots I’ve seen while the two of them falling backwards from the cage onto a stack tables was not that far behind. The nods of respect between the two teams at the end signaled the conclusion of a feud that will be talked about for years.
Yet somehow even that was shown up. In the main event where the wee chubby boy weighing in at who the fuck cares from the Tap End of Stevenson conquered the world. Grado’s rise in ICW is the kind of things legends are made of and this was the moment he deserved. Not only has he come on leaps and bounds as a worker but his bond with the crowd is untouchable. He and Drew Galloway went out there and told the obvious but perfect story. The underdog taking a beating but coming back for more. When he finally delivered the Wee Boat into a chair and into Galloway’s pretty boy face the pop was huge and the world was just right for a while. Grado may be a bit ridiculous, but the truth is the guy has done the incredible and it says a lot about ICW that they have the confidence to run with him as the main man.
Fear and Loathing VIII is one of those nights that in ten years will have 15,000 people claiming they were there. With ICW having booked the Hydro, it looks like this run won’t be ending anytime soon but if it all crashed down tomorrow they could look at what they’ve achieved here and realise that they did something special. Thankfully that seems unlikely to happen and ICW are here to stay. Good luck trying to stop them.