We’re back with Fear & Loathing at the SSE Hydro for the second consecutive year, and although the announced attendance was some 2,000 down on last year’s ground-breaking show, it’s still a massive achievement for all involved. Our hosts are Billy Kirkwood (the man’s a gem) and William Grange.

Insane Championship Wrestling
Fear & Loathing X
November 19, 2017
SSE Hydro
Glasgow, Scotland

Watch: ICW on Demand

The show begins with a quick thank you message from owner Mark Dallas, before he brings out his back-up for the evening, Kevin Nash. I get the nostalgia of bringing someone like Nash in, especially at their tenth Fear & Loathing event, but it’s small things like this that have previously put me off ICW.

Unified Championship #1 Contendership Ladder Match
Bram def. Aaron Echo, DCT, Jody Fleisch, Joe Hendry, Kid Fite & Ravie Davie

The winner of this will main event the Square Go (announced for the weekend of the 11-12 February at the O2 ABC) against the winner of the main event. They will be the only person to get a unified title shot, according to the pre-match video package, as the unified champion will defend the belts separately the rest of the time. This had originally just been a six-way but Ravie Davie was added after pinning Bram the night before.

I was most offended that we weren’t treated to a Joe Hendry custom song here; they are usually brilliant, but I guess he couldn’t be bothered. Kid Fite’s inclusion in the match was a nice bit of continuity, in the process making him the only person to appear on ever F&L show. In a match dominated by comedy wrestling – Kid Fite’s goons (Lou King Sharp and Krieger) got involved, only to get chased off by Stevie James and Krobar and Hendry’s assistant Clayton was powerbombed by Coach Trip after having his trousers pulled down, Jody Fleisch was the most athletic by a country mile.

Davie was the most popular guy in this match and ICW are onto something with him. He’s got a backstory you can invest in, he can go on the mic and is starting to put it together in the ring. Him and Bram have history dating back to Shug’s in the summer when Bram broke up his wedding to Session Moth Martina and beat up Davie, leaving him with a black eye, as well as smacking Martina. Davie looks set to win here when his cousin and Martina (who hasn’t been seen since Shug’s) come out, presumably to stop Bram. Nope. Martina smashes a can over Zander’s head, and tips Davie off the ladder and through a table on the outside. Bram then climbs up and retrieves the briefcase. He’s headlining the Square Go.

Like much of ICW’s booking, this was all story and no substance. If they want to use Bram fine, but don’t stick him in the main event of one of your biggest shows. As Davie quite rightly said in August, he’s fucked up every opportunity he’s been given, he’s a liability and worse than that he’s just an absolute scumbag. DUD

ICW Tag Team Championships
Polo Promotions def. The Marauders

Polo Promotions’ arc this year has been fascinating. A tough loss to the Marauders in February made them question their mettle, and they had a brief time apart before Mark and Jackie realised they needed each other and since then they’ve been on the long road back to the titles. Bird & Boar are great and it’s baffled me why they, Mike Bird in particular, don’t get many bookings elsewhere in the UK.  

Sean McLaughlin ejected Iestyn Rees and sent him to the back before this began (who’d have thought it, a referee using common sense!). Clocking in at just over 10 minutes, this was perfectly enjoyable, if a little formulaic. The Marauders isolated Mark at the start, building up to Jackie’s hot tag and inevitable scoop slam rampage. Both teams got a couple of near falls before Coffey and Polo finished it off with the pop-up German after kicking out of the Marauders tag-team finisher. Hopefully ICW can now build a proper tag division. ***1/4

Kenny Williams def. Rey Mysterio

As a massive Kenny Williams fan (seriously, the guy should be booked by all UK promotions) this was one of my most anticipated matches on the card. He’d sold it in his promos; this was a milestone in the career of the Bollocks. Yet come the end of it, I was with a sour taste in my mouth.

Mysterio was late. Whether this was by design or not I don’t know. His music hit and nothing happened, leading the fans to quite rightly chant ‘Where is Mysterio?’ He came out the second time and they began by teasing the 619 and from there worked at a fairly high clip, with Mysterio nailing the baseball slide splash. Mysterio appeared to have his working boots on and just as it started to kick up a gear, it ended. Williams got Mysterio in position to hit a 619 of his own, which got a big pop, but Mysterio reversed and hit one of his own. A splash followed, only for Williams to reverse the pin for the fluke victory. This was the sort of match you’d get on Raw, with a rematch announced for the following PPV. A somewhat disappointing use of both guys, although it came off a lot better on VOD than it did live. **3/4

King of Insanity Death Match
Stevie Boy def. Chris Renfrew, Jimmy Havoc & Mikey Whiplash

From the moment the production team starting bringing out cinder blocks, crosses and goodness knows what else, I knew this would be bonkers. Whiplash made his entrance in a coffin. Yes, a coffin.

There were so many spots that this guys just didn’t need to take but by doing so they easily produced match of the night. Stevie got thrown into a barbed wire chair with the first move of the match, a move which busted him open hardway, and it wasn’t long before all four men started stapling each others pecs. Havoc obviously had to take it further and staple fingers, which is one of the most wince-inducing spots I’ve seen. There were death valley drivers through barbed wire boards and a barbed wire table, whilst Renfrew superplexed Whiplash into a series of tacks. The closing stretch kicked into a whole other gear. Renfrew got back body dropped through the stage, taking him out, before Stevie taped Jimmy Havoc’s wrists to the bottom rope, leaving just him and Whiplash. Whiplash fought valiantly before Stevie closed the show with a Glaswegian Destroyer off a ladder through a table.

They ended with a show of mutual respect for each other. Fair play to all of them, this was one of the most ridiculous matches I’ve seen and I mean that in a good way. All of them deserve credit for putting in tremendous effort and knocking this out the park. I don’t know how to rate this, but I bloody loved it. ****

ICW Women’s Championship Cage Match
Kasey def. Kay Lee Ray & Viper

I’ll be honest, I don’t like steel cage matches. In fact, I pretty much detest them as they never serve as a deterrent to interference and from a logical perspective, they often make no sense. The bell in this didn’t ring for about 8 minutes after all three women came out, with Kay Lee Ray attacking special enforcer Carmel and locking Kasey out of the cage. As soon as they were all in the cage, Aspen Faith and Lewis Girvan came out to interfere. They got their comeuppance, getting low-blowed and then caught in a five person tower-of-doom late in the match. Viper took a nasty looking bump through a table towards the end, meaning it was a foot race to escape the cage between Kay Lee and Kasey. After managing to trap Kay Lee’s foot in the cage, Kasey won to become a two-time women’s champion.

I’m probably the low man here, but this was too long and fell into the trap of many steel cage matches in being dependent on big spots and interference. The action was fine and all three women put in a great effort, especially Viper, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. **3/4

Lionheart def. Rob Van Dam & Zack Gibson

Lionheart getting cheered as a hero will never not be strange. After Zack Gibson’s shtick, Simon Cassidy announced that the match was an elimination match and it took just three minutes for Liverpool’s No.1 to get dispatched by Lionheart after a 5-Star Frog Splash. Van Dam did put a shift in, running through the hits but he was puffing after five minutes and didn’t look good. Lionheart eventually pinned him after eight minutes with a frog splash. Nostalgia and sporadic athleticism is pretty much all you can expect from RVD in 2017, but this wasn’t great. **3/4

Kinky Party def. Kings of Catch

Samuels isn’t someone who I want to see in big singles matches in ICW, so this tag team with Jester is the perfect spot for him. They both look like they’re having fun and are quite entertaining together. Samuels kicked this off with a moonsault to the outside, something I never thought I’d see. As for the match this was very basic, with Sha and Jester eventually winning with a version of the Meltzer Driver. A fun little match to get the crowd engaged before the main event – couldn’t ask for much more. **

ICW World Heavyweight & Zero-G Championship
BT Gunn def. Joe Coffey

Realistically this was the biggest match ICW could have had to headline their biggest show of the year. Gunn, the only triple crown champion in company history, is the most over guy on their roster and Coffey has been the unbeatable champion. In ICW this calendar year he’d lost just once, and that was to the Oddity himself. After the Iron King won the belt from Trent Seven and aligned himself with Red Lightning, he’d made over 10 defences. Reading through those vanquished contenders made for impressive reading – there were ICW regulars like Jester, Samuels, Wolfgang and Hendry, UK stars like Pete Dunne and Jordan Devlin and big American names like Colt Cabana, Keith Lee, Moose and Kassius Ohno. Coffey looked the unstoppable champion, finally reaching his peak in ICW after a career of near-misses. Coffey had even avenged his loss to Gunn twice, yet it still nagged at him. He wanted to prove his dominance and agreed, much to Lightning’s chagrin, to the title match with Gunn.

The crowd were really hot for this, firmly putting their weight behind Gunn. They began with basic grappling and striking exchanges, before Gunn landed a dead weight drop to the outside and Coffey flew over the barricade to step it up a couple of notches. We got not one but two ref bumps here. The first came after Coffey threw Sean McLaughlin in the way of a springboard reverse cutter. Whilst he was down Coffey tried to use a chair on Gunn, only to be stopped by Kevin Nash. Gunn then tried to use the chair himself, only to get nailed with one of the worst superman punches I’ve ever seen and a discus clothesline for a near fall. The second came when Coffey just decided to German suplex substitute referee Thomas Kearns after a really good sequence between both men. Red Lightning used this as the chance to bring Sean McLaughlin back in from the outside and tries to count for him, but Gunn blocks the three with his own arm. Coffey looks set to put Gunn away with the Boston Crab that won him the title in April, before the lights go out. When they come back on, Lightning is in position for the Crab and Gunn is joined by two men in Oddity masks. Coffey gets caught with a triple superkick, a springboard reverse cutter and a Technodrome DDT, before eventually tapping out to the crossface. BT Gunn is your new Undisputed ICW Champion.

This was superb. Quite possibly the best ICW main event in terms of match quality, crowd engagement and significance. Yes, the ICW tendency to revert to overbooking did rear its ugly head, and it does somewhat detract from my rating, but all of it helped to build towards Gunn eventually winning. Coffey was superb as champion and Gunn is the most over guy in the company right now. It was the right call and the right way to end the show. ***3/4

Final Thoughts:

Fear & Loathing was a thumbs in the middle show for ICW. It was much better than Shug’s and Barramania and there was a good mix of storytelling and match quality. The main event and King of Insanity match are definitely worth a watch, and I hope the outcome of the other two title matches leads to real growth in 2018, as those divisions are both very shallow. However, the decision to go all in with Bram and have him headline the Square Go was a bad one and will unfortunately be one of the main things people remember about the show. It is decisions like that that stop ICW really getting in the conversation with the other big UK promotions.