Before I go into the nitty-gritty of my thoughts on ICW’s Fear & Loathing IX, I want to make one thing clear. What ICW have achieved is incredible. Their rise from community centre misfits to one of the best wrestling companies in the world will never be repeated, and nothing I say here will change that. I am at the heart of things a fan and Dallas and everyone else involved can be damn proud. However, a couple of thousand words of me kissing their arse isn’t that exciting so let’s get on with the review.
Joe Hendry beat Davey Blaze by pinfall
For the second year in a row, the mantle falls to Davey Blaze to open up ICW’s biggest show. Sadly, he is once again without a horse. He does, however, have another personal feud to get the fans involved in. This time against the always entertaining Joe Hendry. This was a good choice for opening the show. Hendry came equipped with a new song and Wee Man made sure the ICW faithful would boo Blaze. Joe seems to get better every time I see him and getting the win here could be the thing that pushes him into bigger and better things.
Kay Lee Ray beat Carmel & Viper by pinfall to win the Women’s Championship
The problem with an audience this large is that you inevitably end up with a few jackasses. Unfortunately, I seemed to be surrounded by them on Sunday and one of the ways they showed this was by their complete lack of respect towards the women competing. Those years of WWE telling people women’s wrestling didn’t matter, has a lot to answer for.
It’s their loss as this was a great three-way match. These three have worked together in various combinations countless times, and it shone through here. Kay Lee is also 100% the right choice to head up the division at the moment. You can put her in the ring with anyone, and you know she’ll deliver.
Post-match it appeared Carmel announced her retirement. However, for the first time in the event – but certainly not the last – her speech felt a bit rushed and she never actually stated whether it was a retirement so she might only be stepping away from ICW. Either way, this was a great farewell for her and kept the show running hot at this point.
Stevie Boy beat BT Gunn in a casket match
Stevie Boy and BT Gunn could wrestle all night, and I would watch it. Much like the women these two know each other well and have absolutely no qualms about smacking the shit out of each other. BT never exactly goes soft, but some of the blows thrown out during this match were spectacular.
If I had a complaint, it would be that I don’t get the casket match stipulation. I know that it’s something a bit different but the effort of having to put someone in a casket slows things down and I feel like they could have found something better for these two.
That aside, this was another fun fight, and it ended with the heel going over, meaning that BT is going to have to wait a while longer to dish out revenge on his former NAK brothers. Something that I’m fine with.
Polo Promotions beat Team 3D by pinfall to retain the Tag Titles
In a company with the attitude of ICW, it is perhaps unsurprising that Team 3D get one hell of a reception when their music hits at the Hydro. Even Bully Ray apparently missing that ICW doesn’t do DQs and declaring the match No Holds Barred doesn’t do enough to turn the crowd against them.
Which doesn’t mean that Polo Promotions lack admirers. For a long time, Mark Coffey and Jackie Polo have carried ICW’s tag division and the only downside is that it’s meant ICW have had to look abroad to find opponents. It sadly means this match lacks the emotional connection it could have had.
People love a little trip to Dudleyville anyway, and the four men in the room were good enough to get over that issue. It’s a shame then that things go a bit wrong with the finish. I’m not sure what was supposed to happen, but someone seems to miss their timing, and it all ends a bit flat.
It’s not enough to destroy an intense match, though, and the crowd is sent into the break happy when Davey appears again and is on the receiving end of a powerbomb through a table from Bully. I question why Davey is the one to go through said table, but it was always going to happen to someone.
Kenny Williams wins the Stairway to Heaven Match to become the new Zero G Champion
Let’s be honest here, last year at the SECC we should have got Kenny Williams vs. Lionheart. The decision therefore for Mick Foley (‘live’ via satellite) to add him to this match make sense. For it to come down to Kenny and Lionheart as the final two (the whole thing works as an elimination match until there are only two wrestlers left at which point it is a ladder match) makes even more sense.
The only question you have to ask is why even include the other five men? Much like last year, this could have been a straight up fight between Kenny and Lionheart. Guys like Andy Wild and Liam Thomson are talented blokes, but this felt a bit like they were being fitted onto the card.
Which meant the action didn’t get going until we were down to the final two at which point Lionheart and Kenny were going all out to impress. There were a few ladder spots that made me both gasp and wince, and I imagine both men are in a lot of pain this morning. We also finally saw Kenny gain revenge and pick up the belt and I can’t imagine anyone claiming that he doesn’t deserve it.
Lewis Girvan beats Ricochet by submission
I don’t think I was alone in being surprised when Lewis Girvan was given the opportunity to wrestle Ricochet at this show. It didn’t strike me as a natural fit, and someone like Kenny Williams would have made a lot more sense
Well, consider me suitably remorseful because I was wrong. This is my pick for match of the show, and Girvan did more than enough to turn anyone who had doubts about him around. I don’t think I need to add my words to the hundreds of others who have already praised Ricochet to high heaven but I will anyway. Holy shit is that guy good.
If ICW is smart, this match will lead to two things. Ricochet establishing himself as part of the wider ICW world and coming back whenever he can and Lewis Girvan heading up the card. I, at least, would be delighted with both.
Wolfgang beats Trent Seven in a cage match to retain the World Title
One of the problems with ICW’s year-long storyline revolving around Red and Dallas is that the World Title has kind of taken a back seat. Coffey being tied up with Angle and Damo heading to WWE meant that Wolfie came into this show without a clear opponent. While I am a big Trent fan, you only have to compare this match to last year’s main event to see how that lack of an emotional edge hurt it.
Which wasn’t helped by what was quite frankly a silly finish. The second Wolfgang put himself in the position for Trent to deliver the knockout blow and send him off the cage and through the tables below a whole crowd of people around me shouted out in protest. It made Seven look dumb as all hell and was a bit of a damp squib ending to a match that never got going.
Don’t get me wrong; these two hit each other damn hard and much like Kenny and Lionheart I imagine they are feeling it today. That doesn’t change the fact that this whole thing lacked something special, and it seemed to leave a lot of fans questioning whether that was it.
Team Dallas beat Team Black Label by pinfall for 100% Control of ICW
This was the first match where timing problems became a major issue. Coming on at around 10 o’clock there were only forty-five minutes left, and I think they should have called an audible and cut the entrances back dramatically.
In saying that, it was still a fun encounter with everything you would have expected. Dallas got his hands on Red, someone betrayed their team (Jester turning on Galloway), and Finn Balor got involved to help the babyfaces get the win.
Which might also have been the problem, it all felt slightly too predictable. We all knew that Finn was going to get involved and after the first few eliminations most of the crowd spent their time waiting for it to happen.
Despite that, there were still some excellent stories told in the match. Sha Samuels and Kid Fite were eliminated early, but it seems natural for those two to now split off into their own feud while Grado taking a bullet for Renfrew adds a new element to their relationship. Most importantly, this whole ownership angle is now over, and the company can move onto something else.
Joe Coffey beat Kurt Angle by submission
Those timing issues I’ve mentioned came to the fore here. I don’t know what the plan was for Angle and Coffey, but I find it hard to believe it was meant to be as short as it was. These are perhaps the two best wrestlers the company had booked and not to plan to give them longer would be mental.
Sadly, though, timing issues do happen, and it hurt this match. Coffey picked up the win (and unlike some others I spoke to I was pro that) but the match itself didn’t feel like the battle it was sold as. With only ten minutes or so to work with it seemed more like a standard TV encounter, and when Angle put Joe over at the end, his praise felt slightly over the top.
Which was a damn shame because it left this show on a bit of a dud note. Ending with a match that a lot of fans expected to steal the show makes sense but it was impossible to get past the feeling that it was all a bit rushed and that we could have had so much more.
Fear & Loathing IX had a lot to live up to. Fear & Loathing VIII is the best wrestling show I have seen in the flesh and was an incredible night. Sadly, it couldn’t fill those boots. The show was packed, and too many things felt rushed while the focus on the Dallas vs. Red story meant that the rest of the card lacked the emotional connection that it needed. We also can’t continue to criticize WWE for long shows and ignore the fact ICW events go closer to four hours than three.
However, that is not to say that this wasn’t a good show. ICW still deliver time after time and even at their worst (which this wasn’t) they are damn good. If you had cut two matches from this card and spent a bit more time building up what was left over, then I reckon it would have been a much better show, and that’s an easy fix to make.
The most important thing is that ICW pulled this off. They came to the Hydro, and they smashed it, and next year they will do it all over again. Ignore my reservations about this show and go out and buy your tickets because no matter what I say this is still the best wrestling company in the world and you owe it to yourself to get on board.