Scotland’s leading wrestling promotion returned to the iconic Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow last weekend for their fourth-annual ICW Barramania show, headlined by BT Gunn defending the World Heavyweight Title against Mikey Whiplash in a Deathmatch.

Gauntlet for the vacant ICW Zero-G Championship
Mark Coffey def. Andy Wild, Aaron Echo, DCT, Jordan Devlin and Rampage Brown

ICW found their de facto cruiserweight title vacant after BT Gunn was unable to make a recent show, leading to the booking of this match. The returning Andy Wild and Aaron Echo opened this match and their section was pretty good, with Echo again showing some promise, but after a couple of minutes Wild sent him packing. Next in was Jordan Devlin, still affected by his recent hand injury, who was blatantly a class above the other participants but he was also next eliminated via roll-up. DCT was next in and whilst he’s someone I don’t usually see a lot in, he looked decent and eliminated Wild with a one-legged codebreaker. Fifth entrant was Mark Coffey, a former teammate of DCT’s in Polo Promotions, and he was obviously the star and he soon eliminated DCT and the final entrant, Rampage Brown. The Sam Barbour Experience initially came out to fill that final slot but he was decimated by Brown on the entrance ramp, but Brown lost a few minutes after entering the fray, getting pinned after a volley and a running seated elbow.

Matches like this are hard to grade. Coffey was definitely the right choice to take the division forward and bits of the match were entertaining but it’s hard to get any real substance in what amounted to five minutes in just shy of 20 minutes. **1/2

Joe Coffey, last seen at Fear & Loathing in November, made a dramatic return after the match, presumably setting up a brother-versus-brother match at Shugs Hoose Party in July. With Joe Orlando-bound, this is a great way to put Mark over and made for a strong start to this show.

Chain Match
Wolfgang def. Tor Atterhagen

Aside from Ludvig Borga, I think Atterhagen might be the only Scandinavian I’ve ever seen wrestle. Before the match I thought this was good booking as he was clearly quite rough around the edges and Wolfgang is a solid hand and would be able to guide him.

Whilst the booking might have made sense, but this was just the absolute pits. From their inability to actually attach themselves to the chain, to Atterhagen managing to detach himself midway through, there was nothing here. There was some physicality but not much substance and then out of nowhere Wolfgang landed The Howling and it was done. Atterhagen was presented to be a big thing and then was beaten with one move after sitting there for an age waiting for the set-up. Just crap, crap stuff. ½*

Chris Renfrew def. Joe Hendry

So supposedly these two have been wrestling for 76 days? Yeah, I don’t know either. They began by brawling on the outside and whilst they eventually did make it to the ring, there was minimal substance. The referee, a GPWA trainee, got into it with Hendry’s assistant Leyton and Hendry was eventually pinned after eating two stunners. It was mildly amusing but nothing of any note. *

Post-match we saw the debut of Dave Conrad, who laid out the referee. Conrad is a training partner of Hendry’s and is going under the name of Bants. I suspect this takes Hendry back into the tag title scene, which isn’t necessarily the worst idea.

ICW Tag Team Championships
The Kinky Party (Sha Samuels and Jack Jester) (C) def. The Kings of Catch (Aspen Faith & Lewis Girvan), The Purge (Stevie James & Krobar) and The Sons of Ulaid (Rory Coyle and Screwface)

Coyle’s usual tag-team partner, Bas Ban, was absent from this show and was replaced by a local Scottish talent who was given the name of Screwface Ahmed in this match. It wasn’t clear why Bas Ban wasn’t there, but the intimations from Kirkwood and Grange on commentary implied he definitely won’t be back soon.

All eight men were legal in this match, which meant that most of the action took place on the outside. The Kings of Catch dominated the early going before the champions took control and secured a relatively routine defence. A Fatsault from Sha to the outside took out everyone, leaving Screwface isolated in the ring. An assisted spike tombstone meant they retained and whilst the match lacked substance, it was worked at a good clip and relatively entertaining. **1/2

Jackie Polo def. Lionheart

These two have been embroiled in one of the biggest feuds in ICW history. It’s a feud that has often crossed the line between product and reality and they were away from it for long enough to mean that this rematch was actually an interesting one. Polo and Lionheart’s big singles encounter at Barramania 1 was a damp squib but people were hyping this online and quite fairly so it turned out.

It wasn’t an epic by any means, but I have no reservations in stating that this was probably the best singles match of either man’s ICW career. Both came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, swinging bombs at each other. They had the crowd on their side throughout and after a Rock Bottom on the entrance ramp, they really stepped it up. The final few minutes revolved around the Polo mallet that was such a big part of their first encounter. Lionheart initially refuses to use it but Polo does when trapped in a sharpshooter, slicing the back of Lionheart’s head open. A fun back-and-forth contest where most nearfalls were at least somewhat believable and Lionheart was presented as a babyface, which is an achievement. An electric chair facebuster eventually put Lionheart away and it appeared at the end he may be taking some time away from the company. If he is, this was a good way to go out. ***1/2

ICW Career vs Square-Go Contract Ladder Match
Stevie Boy def. Kenny Williams

You’d think that sticking two of the best talents in Scotland in a ladder match would be an obvious match of the night. If you thought that, you’d be wrong. Look, I appreciated the work they put in and some of the spots were fun, like the German suplex between the ladders, but the constant interference from the Filthy Generation stopped this ever building any proper momentum. It got up to second gear and then it just ended. The spear Stevie took from the apron to a table propped against the fence on the outside looked nasty and was just a bad idea. Both men were duelling at the top of the ladder with Kenny getting knocked off and landing on another ladder. The ending felt quite flat as it never really felt like Kenny was leaving. With the ITV reboot in the works I thought he might well have been on the way out, but there was no real drama here. **

I guess the reason it never felt like he’d leave is because he isn’t! Williams turned his back on Aaron Echo and joined up with Red Lightning and RUDO. Rudo now has three members, four if you include Martina, and I wonder how many more we will get before the Hydro show in December… If you want to do the loser leaves town gimmick, which I’m not a fan of, it needs to be believable, at least in the short-term. Don’t throw it away because then the fans have no reason to believe any future stipulations you set.

RUDO (Bram & Iestyn Rees) def. Ravie Davie & James Storm

This was ticking along nicely, interference and all, and then the overbooking curse reared its ugly head again. Storm turned on Davie and bottled him, which makes no sense. Why would he turn on the poor lad who is one of the best babyfaces in the company and align with the arseholes? I assume that the eventual pay-off for this is for Davie to pin Bram at the Hydro, but that will take the feud to well over 16 months and it’s already stone dead. I don’t care about Bram, I don’t care about Rees and if I don’t care, why will anyone else? *3/4

ICW Women’s Championship
Viper (C) def. Kasey

Viper has had a very successful few weeks, toppling Toni Storm to win the Stardom title and add to her very impressive collection, which is now rivalling that of Austin Aries. In the build-up to this match Viper delivered an excellent heartfelt promo, meaning this was one of the few matches I was looking forward to when I started watching the show and the match itself was good. Kasey got her fair share of offence in but Viper was always presented as that one step ahead, being that bit bigger and that bit stronger. In the end she retained her belt with a new move, landing a snap Viper Driver (falcon arrow variation) from the middle rope. The question now is who’s next for the Megaton Barbie, because it surely can’t just be Kay Lee Ray again. ***

ICW World Heavyweight Championship Deathmatch
Stevie Boy def. BT Gunn (C) and Mikey Whiplash

I really don’t know how to grade this. Deathmatches aren’t usually my thing, for as much as I appreciate the bumps and risks they take, I always feel that the spots came at the expense of the elements I favour in a wrestling match, like psychology, emotion and lengthy sequences. That trope was prevalent in the early going here, with large gaps between all of the big spots as things needed to be set-up. Whiplash taking kicks to the chest from Gunn, who had wrapped barbed wire around his kickpads was certainly something but there just wasn’t much energy to this until the music of the Filthy Generation hit. Stevie Boy cashed in his Square Go Contract, Seth Rollins-esque, and made this a triple threat. From there it was clear that the match was on the home stretch. Whiplash took a sickening powerbomb through a sheet of glass, which sliced open his elbow and back, leaving the ring drenched in his blood. It was Gunn who executed the move, but Stevie Boy chucked the champion out of the ring and picked up the pinfall for his first World Title reign. **3/4

ICW find themselves in a squeeze. I’ve felt before that they hit their peak at some point last year, or even at Fear & Loathing in 2016 when they first ran the Hydro. Yes they’ve got their hardcore fans, but if you want to run a venue that size, you need something that is getting you traction, something that is getting your name out there and getting the wrestling community in the UK talking about ICW. From my point of view, the company is as cool as it’s been in years. The attendances at their recent shows in Newcastle made for worrying numbers if they want to run a venue like the Hydro again and at least come class to the 4,000 people they got last year.  Stevie Boy is a talented wrestler but he has no scope beyond Scotland and neither do many of the rest of the roster. Grado, Drew Galloway and Joe Coffey have all gone and they’ve not had a sufficient influx of big names to replace them. There are UK talents they could bring in and give some exposure to and there’s obviously the foreign-based talent but for me the main change has to be from the product they present. Less interference, less bullshit storylines and more quality wrestling. That’s the market in the UK right now and they’ve fallen behind the curve and shows like this don’t help their cause.

Final Thoughts

ICW’s second big show of the year wasn’t good. Jackie Polo vs Lionheart is the clear highlight, but there was very little that was even remotely engaging. Wolfgang/Atterhagen has the ignominy of being the worst match I’ve watched so far this year, and I struggle to see how they plan to work the Hydro at the beginning of December with a product and brand that couldn’t feel colder.