Insane Championship Wrestling
Fear and Loathing VIII
SECC – Glasgow, Scotland
November 15 2015

It has been a tremendous year for Insane Championship Wrestling that, at the time of writing, has included thirty live events with at least five more to go. Fear and Loathing VIII held at Glasgow’s SECC before a crowd of (depending on who you believe) 3,500 or 3,700 was the highlight of ICW’s year. F&L VIII is also the biggest grossing show by a UK based company since the early 1980s.

2015 has also been the year that ICW has extended their British touring schedule taking in cities throughout the UK and expanding its fan base well beyond Glasgow. Mark Dallas, ICW owner, has also announced that ICW will have shows in Ireland and Wales in 2016 along with next year’s Fear and Loathing IX being held in the Hydro venue, where WWE use when touring Glasgow.

Mark Dallas, Red Lightning and Mick Foley

The show opened with ICW owner, Mark Dallas, introducing the show followed by ICW manager, Red Lightning and the commissioner for the night, Mick Foley. Foley put over Dallas and the ICW crowd with a quick promo.

Zero-G Title Match
Davey Boy w/Wee Man vs. Stevie Boy (C)

This is a feud that began in May when Stevie Boy turned on Davey Boy. The match started exactly as it should have — as the two brawled on the ramp way. In the early stages they do a great job in getting across the animosity of the feud. Stevie Boy failed with two attempts with the Destroyer before kicking out of two of Davey Boy’s pin fall attempts. There was more great storytelling as the two went back and forth with a series of blocked moves. In line with the storytelling in the match, Davey Boy picked up the victory and the title by beating Stevie with his own move. A good start to the show

Joe Hendry, Noam Dar and Kenny Williams vs. The 55 (Lionheart, Liam Thomson and Doug Williams)

This match was as much about the entrances as the in-ring action. We got a Back to the Future III themed Kenny Williams, a Miley Cyrus inspired ‘Hendry-ball’ Joe Hendry (What else can one call it when a wrestler sings a Miley Cyrus cover whilst wearing a giant inflatable ball?), and the as always Brit pop/Star Wars influenced Noam Dar. The story of this match was the charisma of these three against the old school (for old school here read boring) 55. When this match was announced it felt somewhat thrown together which was a pity given some of the talent involved. The level of talent was underlined by Noam Dar who was exceptional in this match. However, this was more of a vehicle for other angles. During the match, the lights dropped and Jimmy Havoc returned to ICW to attack 55 members. The fact that Kenny Williams picked up the win for his team got lost as Carmel Jacob returned to ICW challenging Liam Thomson to a match at Square Go 2016.

ICW Women’s Championship
Nikki Storm vs. Kay Lee Ray vs. Viper

Mick Foley came out before the match to announce that he was banning all outside interference which suggests that he has never seen an ICW match before. He then introduced Viper as the third combatant. With Viper being added here it looked to me like Storm and (recent Nia Jax fodder) Ray could both be NXT-bound. Viper power housed throughout the match necessitating double teams from Storm and Ray. When Viper was demobilised, Ray and Storm had some excellent exchanges. Viper played her part here too, hitting a Michinoku Driver on Ray. She picked up the win by delivering an Electric Chair driving Ray into Storm and pinning them both at once which might underline which direction they are heading. They done a wonderful job in getting the new title and Viper over at the end as they both looked devastated.

Rhyno vs. ‘Iron Man’ Joe Coffey

This match was fine but it never really held my attention. Coffey has had a great year in ICW and he probably deserved more than what he got in this match. That being said the crowd were more vocal than they had been during any match up to this point so possibly it came across better live. Coffey set up a table in the corner for the inevitable Gore which Coffey duly received. Coffey kicked out and struck two discus clotheslines for the win.

ICW Tag Team Championship
The 55 (Sha Samuels & Kid Fite) vs. Polo Promotions (Jackie Polo and Mark Coffey) (C)

Given that both teams had brought parts of their stables to the ring, it was no surprise that this match broke down quickly. No sign of Comish Foley here! This was a good tag match although at points it became a little sloppy primarily due to the number of people involved. The closing stretch had some great tag team wrestling from both teams. Jackie Polo pinned Sha Samuels to retain the titles.

Steel Cage ‘Hell on Earth’ Match
Legion (Mikey Whiplash, Tommy End and Michael Dante) vs. NAK (Chris Renfrew, Wolfgang and BT Gunn)

The single ‘rule’ of this match was that all three members must leave the cage to win. This has been a near year long feud primarily fought out between Gunn and Whiplash. There matches have ranged in terms of quality and brutality but it has been ICW’s feud of the year. This match had a touch of WCW WarGames about it — not just because it was a multi-man match in a cage but because there appeared to be confusion about how one wins. Michael Dante stopped climbing out of the cage at one point as William Grange (doing his best Tony Schiavone) on commentary noted that leaving on your own eaves your team at an disadvantage. Not long after we had the first big spot of the night as Wolfgang dived from the top of the cage onto the mat.

In a nice twist, Legion proceeded to throw Wolfgang out of the cage leaving them with the three on two advantage. Legion were then reduced to two members when Dante was pulled down from the cage by Wolfgang on the outside. As the match continued, Legion again tried to make their escape leading Gunn to hitting his Gunn Shot finisher on Whiplash. This meant End was outside the cage alone where he was also pulled to the ground by Wolfgang.

With the advantage, the remaining two NAK members made their way out of the cage but a change of heart from Gunn seen him return to battle Whiplash. While this logically made little sense, it fit well with the feud that started, and would end, with Gunn and Whiplash. Given that this feud was a war of attrition, the finish of this match as both Whiplash and Gunn crashed through the tables at ringside would have been a fitting end. However, Whiplash and Gunn both returned to the ring to finish what they started. Gunn picked up the win. This was match of the night up to this point and it managed to offer some new takes on traditional cage match tropes. Tommy End probably did not get a chance to shine as he can here and surely he must be moving a step closer to NXT given the year he’s had.

Big Damo vs. Jack Jester

If there was one issue I might take with this event, it would be the decision to put this match on before the main event. The crowd felt flat at this point and this was not going to be the match to give them a shot in the arm. It may have been worth considering placing the six man here instead. In any event, the match itself was never felt like it meant anything especially given that it had been a major feud coming into F&L VIII. The two men exchanged blows and even their respective finishers including an impressive Tombstone from Jester but nothing seemed to matter. Damo picked up the win after hitting his Emerald Isle Skateboard finisher. I could really do without ever seeing this match again.

ICW World Title
Drew Galloway (C) vs. Grado

No doubt who the SECC were behind here. As a video package played introducing the match chants of ‘GRADO’ filled the arena. Love Grado, loathe Grado or just don’t “get” Grado he was super over with this ICW crowd. ICW did an excellent job here in giving this match that “big event” feel. The crowd may have been saving themselves for this because they sang and chanted from bell to bell.

The match itself told the story it needed to tell — the vicious heel champion beating down the underdog who he felt was beneath him. Galloway played a blinder in his role — every piece of offence was delivered with disgust and anger. He gave the impression that he was offended to even have to be in the ring with Grado. Grado certainly played his role as well and his offence as the plucky underdog was underpinned by some genuinely impressive moves including a Hurricanrana.

As the match progressed there was subtle indications from Galloway that he was getting frustrated with not being able to put Grado away. He attempted to hit Futureshock DDT from the top rope, but Grado reversed it. Having watched a lot of Galloway matches this year, one thing that continually impresses me about him is his ability to get opponents over even if giving them little offence. Galloway’s frustration became far more obvious as the match progressed after a number of near falls on Grado. After missing Grado with a chair, Grado hit the Wee Boot for the closest fall of the match. Galloway struck another Futureshock DDT almost getting the three count. Galloway’s attack on the referee cleared the way for Red Lightning to come to the ring quickly (or as quick as Mick’s knees will allow) followed by Mick Foley who stopped him interfering. As Galloway attempted to strike Grado with a chair, Grado hit the Wee Boot to become the new ICW champion.

The end of the show was wonderful and genuinely touching as the ICW faces and staff hit the ring to celebrate with a tearful Grado.

Final Thoughts: From a wrestling standpoint, ICW has produced a number of excellent shows and memorable matches during the year. Aside from the, in my opinion, disappointing Wayne Stock summer show their major shows have maintained a high quality. This show may have been uneven in places but the real story of the evening was the achievement of getting almost 4,000 people to an independent wrestling show. It is difficult to say what comes next for ICW but there plans for 2016 are more ambitious than what they have achieved in a very successful 2015. Whether Grado works out as champion or whether he will remain champion long-term (the last two ICW champions held the belt for a year-plus) did not seem to matter at the end of the show. The emotional, heartfelt finish underpinned ICW’s simple yet effective booking philosophy of building angles on real emotion.