Friday 13 June 2014

ICW - Shug's Hoose Party preview

Disclaimer: This is the first preview I've ever written, as such I'm not too sure what I'm going to say. Wanna find out? (Updated 5th July)

Insane Championship Wrestling - Shug's Hoose Party
Sunday 27th July
o2 ABC, 300 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3JA

Tickets available via Ticket Master - THIS EVENT HAS NOW SOLD OUT
ICW Online - Facebook // Twitter //

March 30th. March 30th was a fantastic night. Devitt appeared unannounced and won the Zero G title. Sabu returned to his homicidal ways. Wolfgang got a modicum of revenge on BT Gunn by iconically throwing him through the air. March 30th was great, but it was also the last time I saw ICW in Glasgow.

Since then there's been a show in the Garage (which I missed), A Show In London (which I missed), Newcastle, Edinburgh.  Coming up there will be another four shows in Edinburgh and a second show in London (which I'll miss!). For me at least, this will be the first Glasgow show in almost 4 months, and the last for almost 2.

So to say I am excited is putting it mildly. Up And Atom! was amazing (teabagging aside) and so was Jimmy Nail's Revenge, but a home show is just something else entirely.

So what have we got in store?

 Jackie Polo presents "Lionheart - This Is Your Life"
The Jackie Polo - Lionheart feud has been red hot from its inception. Polo has been treading the line between face and heel for a long time now, and during a promo at the Square Go (which you can read more about at Snapmare Necks) the crowd seemed firmly behind Jackie, with widespread booing, Whats and "You're Retired" chants directed towards Lionheart, making what was supposed to be a hero's welcome take on a much more hostile tone. An unanticipated double-turn was being made whether either man wanted it or not.

Then, an incredibly real and awful injury happened. As has been written many times in many places, Lionheart suffered a serious neck injury in a match with AJ Styles. While members of the wrestling world dropped character to offer their widespread well-wishes to Lionheart, Jackie Polo posted this instead:

Needless to say, the backlash from fans and wrestlers alike was vicious and swift, resetting the good and evil divide in this feud.

Since that time, Lionheart has returned to give a heartfelt speech about his desire to, body-willing, return to the ring in 2014 and Jackie... well, Jackie has played it up either marvelously or sickeningly, depending on your viewpoint. Having "suffered" a neck injury of his own, Polo has been appearing, announcing and wrestling sporting a neck brace. The announcing in particular has been something of a masterstroke, as pre-injury Polo took to the live mic during Mark Coffey's Zero G title defense at The Goggle's They Do Nothing (again, SMN has your details covered) to call all of Lionheart's spots and generally rip apart the veterans performance.

With the real desire to see Lionheart make a full recovery blending with the appreciation/disgust at Jackie Polo's antics, this segment looks set to have more passion around it than arguably many of the main matches on the card. Although no-one but Jackie knows what This Is Your Life will entail, you can be guaranteed every eye in the ABC will be pinned to the ring to find out.

Grado v Johnny Moss
Speaking of enemies of Polo, Johnny Moss. What a physical specimen this man is. I think it was about a year ago Johnny Moss was last in ICW at Flava In Your Ear, where his match with Jackie Polo led to loss via Sweeney-flava'd shenanigans. So it stood to reason that his return at Jimmy Nail's Revenge saw him team up with Grado to take on the Polo Promotions team of Jackie Polo and Mark Coffey. And take them on they did.

As my rambling mess of a "review" tried to show, Grado got the pinfall after Mossy had laid out their opponent. This seemed to irk Johnny somewhat as despite being part of the winning team, the big man took out Grado in a brutal post-match attack.

With this intense, seemingly random action, Johnny Moss signed their fate and a match of personal revenge has been booked. Will Grado prevail over the much larger Moss? Or will Johnny cement his return with brutal destruction of the fan favourite in ICW's hometown. Whatever the outcome, this will be a great mashing of styles.

Joe Coffey v Jack Gallagher
"Styles" is the one word I would use to describe this, only the second but final announced match-up. Joe Coffey has been on an absolute tear lately. The "Iron Man" Joe Coffey earned his moniker after emerging from an exhausting war against James Scott (now Darkside) in increasingly incredible displays of stamina and technical ability. Culminating in a 20 minute time-limit draw at April's "Show Me Your Lizard" event, a line has finally been drawn under that feud. A line has also been seemingly drawn under the Coffey brothers as a tag-team, with Mark now firmly aligned with Jackie Polo and Polo Promotions.

It is now time for Joe to strike out on his own into the ICW world and, in my hopeful opinion, start the journey that should see him crowned ICW Heavyweight Champion in the not-too-distant future.

What better way to start that journey than against Jack Gallagher. I have seen Jack live only once before, and I was completely blown away. It is right that on the night I had his match equally drawn with Joe's match as Match Of The Night, so on a personal level the outcome of this bout should settle that score for me. Nonetheless, I have been hearing increasingly positive things about Jack's attitude and ability and am frothing at the mouth to see this one. You should be too.

Lost In Audio halftime show
Joe Hendry, much like Jackie Polo, is a polarising wrestler. Some love his enthusiastic demeanour and Freak Of Nature strength and talents, others find him more obnoxiously cocky than Bo Dallas and James R Kennedy combined. Either way, the man is a wrestler who also has a band called Lost In Audio (Facebook).

Halftime shows and live music in wrestling has always caused a divide in the crowd. I personally love it, especially at ICW who regularly showcase the best of local talent, but I can understand the opinion that it distracts from the main event, which is very true when it comes to the likes of WWE booking big musical acts to waste precious performer's slots at big events like Wrestlemania. But here is the be all and end all - you're going to have an intermission at half time, you might as well listen to some music during that time, no?

I for one am looking forward to seeing Joe out of the ring and entertaining us in another domain.

Update - 5th July
So a few things have happened since this article got published. For one, Insane Music hosted their first night at Box and I got the pleasure of seeing Lost In Audio in person. Joe Hendry is a marvel of a frontman, getting the crowd involved and up the front, dragging random hecklers on stage to sing songs and involving complete strangers who hadn't a clue what was going on into songs.

The band are tight and they can create an atmosphere in a vacuum. Amusingly, one of Joe's matches was on the TVs around Box and the man himself kept stopping to give us commentary on his own match, before launching back into song. A stellar performance. If they can't convert the crowd onto the wonders of live music, there's no hope left in the world. As an aside, you should get to the next Insane Music event and the next Lost In Audio show. Both great atmospheres.

Anyway, there has been more announced since June. Here goes:

The Road To Fear & Loathing 7
Have you heard of Fear & Loathing? It's ICW's equivalent to Wrestlemania, except it comes around 9 months after the Annual Square Go while Wrestlemania is like 3 months after the Royal Rumble. I personally prefer it that way, long-term booking and all that.

Fear & Loathing is the event where history, yes even more history than a normal ICW event, is made. The first ever Fear & Loathing saw Drew Galloway be crowned the first ever ICW Heavyweight champion. Drew would later go on to taste worldwide success as Drew McIntyre in WWE, but it was back in 2006 that he made Scottish history.

Since then, we've had such epic encounters as the first ever "Street Fight" at Fear & Loathing III, which brought ICW to a lot of people's attention in the aftermath, to the first in three (and a half - read more about it in a future article) enthralling wars between Grado and Mikey Whiplash, to last year's Fear & Loathing VI seeing Jack Jester be crowned the new ICW Heavyweight champion in a brutal and bloody battle which you may recognise as being the culmination of the BBC documentary "Insane Fight Club", bringing yet more well-deserved attention to the company.

Fear & Loathing has also seen the debut of new venues. The aforementioned Fear & Loathing III was the first ICW event to take place outside of Maryhill, and also detailed in the Insane Fight Club documentary, Mark Dallas took a huge gamble in hosting Fear & Loathing VI in the massive ABC. ICW sold out both venues and both times took the company to greater heights.

At Shug's Hoose Party, there will be announcements made. What these are is anyone's guess. There might only be one. But the one that we know is gargantuan. ICW is most likely moving to a new venue for Fear & Loathing VII. Having sold out almost every show in 2014, including Glasgow's Garage, the ABC (three times in a row), Studio 24 in Edinburgh, The Riverside in Newcastle and the o2 Academy in London, it's fair to say that expansion is the order of the day for ICW this year.

So what is next? The Barrowlands? The o2 Academy? The SECC? The Hydro? Only one man knows, and thankfully he will be sharing that knowledge with us on July 27th.

Kid Fite v Liam Thomson - I Quit match
No matter where ICW takes place, with matches such as this it is no surprise that they continue to sell out venues. Fight Club have been a mainstay of the ICW tag division for many years, with Kid Fite bringing the fans into their matches with his crowd-pleasing antics, normally involving him planting his 'teabags' on an opponent's face, while being backed up by the enforcing nature of Liam Thomson.

The unit began to show cracks during 2013 as loss after loss piled up on the score sheet. Despite their losing ways, Kid Fite seemed happy enough to continue engaging the crowd and trying to make the most of their matches, generally keeping his good demeanor. Thomson however grew more and more wary of his partner's antics, and seemed to be subtly blaming them for the losses.

Subtleties became overt once 2014 rolled around, as at the 3rd Annual Square Go battle to crown a new #1 Contender for the ICW Heavyweight title, Liam Thomson eliminated his so-called friend behind his back, costing him his shot at the title. Liam tried to lie his way out of the situation and blame it on another wrestler, but the truth came out eventually. In the next ICW event the duo were back together in a tag match, but with Kid Fite abandoning the match part-way through, it was left to Liam Thomson to fend for himself.

It would be classed as the last ever Fight Club tag team match at ICW, but it ultimately ended in a solo victory for Liam Thomson, perhaps lending weight to the idea that had been simmering for a long time - that he had been carrying the team for years. Clips from that match can be viewed here (starting around 9:00):

Later on that same night, a fight broke out between Kay Lee Ray and Carmel, with Liam Thomson running in to back up his girlfriend Carmel. Kid Fite ran out too, but helped Kay Lee Ray, resulting in a brawl almost spilling out between the two now seemingly ex-partners. Mark Dallas however begged the duo to put a lid on the simmering resentment and bond together for the big show coming up in London. A temporary peace seemed to be agreed upon, however only a month later at the massive Still Smoking event, Liam Thomson would once again cost Kid Fite a big glory. Up against ex-WWE star Paul London, Fite seemed to have the victory and acclaim in the bag, when Liam made an appearance with Carmel, getting physically involved and literally dragging London onto Fite's prone body for the victory. The alliance was confirmed as dead, with Thomson going on to state he would be trusting no-one but the one person he trusts with his life, Carmel.

From there, events went downhill with rapid speed. The next event, Show Me Your Lizard, had Fite calling out Thomson for his actions. Carmel instead answered the call, cutting one of the vicious promos she is becoming very well known for, suggesting that Kid Fite's plan all along had been to split the team so he could deliver a 'teabag' to Liam. Kid Fite responded that if Carmel was here on Liam's behalf, perhaps it was she who wanted the teabagging instead. As Kid Fite looked set to take action, Liam ran out and made the save.

Next month, at the big London show they had been slated to bond together for the good of the company and their history, instead we had a hellacious singles match between Fite and Thomson. Long story short, Liam Thomson got the victory after Carmel distracted Kid Fite. A month later, back in Liam and Carmel's hometown of Edinburgh, Kid Fite was scheduled to face Damo, however instead he got Carmel and Liam attacking him and nearly breaking his ribs. The duo would also later go on to take victory from Liam's match with Grado, with Carmel again getting involved, her presence leading Grado to confusion as he tried to pin her instead of Liam, allowing Liam the victory. As they continued to attack Grado post-match, Kay Lee Ray ran out to make the save, but ended up making herself the victim of another attack, with her boyfriend Stevie of The Bucky Boy's coming out to even the odds up. The night wasn't over for the saga of Fight Club however, as Kid Fite valiantly returned to the ring and tried to have his match with Damo. Despite Damo's protestations, Fite goaded him into it. It was all over too soon however, as the heavily damaged Fite had the loss handed to him by the huge Irishman. Post-match, Kid Fite managed to take some of his frustrations out on a fan (who totally wasn't me, btw) by virtue of a teabag (... they're pretty wrinkly).

... aaanyway, this long-winded saga brings us to Newcastle, back at the start of June. Liam Thomson and Carmel taking on the team of Stevie Boy and Kay Lee Ray. The team from Edinburgh emerged strong and victorious, and that is where we are at. There is the tale of two friends torn apart by anger, frustration and losing. Since the cracks truly started to widen, Carmel has been right by Liam's side, helping pave the path to his embrace with evil. She has a track record of her own does Carmel, and it should be noted that the poster goes to pains to point out that she will be there. No matter who you think is the better of the two men, with Carmel firmly by his side it looks like an impossibility that Liam Thomson is coming out of this as anything but the winner.

This is where the details come into play. The stipulation may in fact be Kid Fite's saving grace. As powerful and influential as Carmel has been, she cannot physically make Kid Fite say the words "I Quit". Only Kid Fite can make Kid Fite say those words. Just how much will that neuter her influence? Fite has proven on more than one occasion, as with the Damo showing very recently, that it takes more than a few broken bones to make him quit. It took his best friend costing him the Square Go for Fite to even contemplate quitting on his team, and even then he looked set to put things back together until Thomson double-crossed him again. Despite the winning streak Liam has been on since dissolving their partnership, it may be Kid Fite's resolve that wins out. That is what makes this so interesting, beyond even the history, the fact that there is no clear winner, no clear advantage. This will be a fight for the ages.

Before & After
So there we go. I hope you enjoyed the article, and hope you have your ticket. Whether you do or do not, the Box on Sauchiehall Street will be happy to see you before, after and even during the show (they'll even mop up your tears as you fail desperately at convincing folk to part with their tickets). Open from 3pm til I believe 3am, the Box is fast becoming ICW's go-to pub of choice. Situated close to the venue there will be wrestling on the screens, a WWE 2K14 and the best White Russian you will ever taste. Take it from me, and I speak from experience here, drink whatever you like (it's cheap and brutal) but for the love of Foley do not try the Gradobomb. If you drink three of them and live to tell the tale, seek me out so I can slap you for lying.

It might be premature to post a "Preview" when only two three matches have been announced, and I may update this after the second London show "What's Your Boggle?" on July 13th, however I don't see that card affecting too much here. I predict the Bucky Boys will return the Tag Team Champions, Mark Coffey has yet to be announced as defending his Zero G title, and the ICW Heavyweight Champion Jack Jester is tied up in a tag team match of his own.

All that is left is to wait for more announcements from ICW Headquarters and post things like this while I wait... and wait... and wait for ICW's Glasgow return.

And wait I will. Patiently. Because even with only two three matches announced, rivalries both like Jackie Polo v Lionheart which have built for months and Grado v Johnny Moss which happen overnight, are worth the wait, and wrestlers like Jack Gallagher and Joe Coffey are worth their weight in gold. Bring it on.

(Plus what will be another excellent entry in the saga of The Dissolution Of Fight Club!)

As predicated, the London show "What's Your Boggle?" resulted in no title changes. You can read more about that here.

ICW HQ have announced the following two title matches to take place at Shug's Hoose Party. No announcement yet on the Tag Team Title situation following Davie Boy's injury, but if anything is announced, you'll know all about it here.

ICW Zero-G Championship
Mark Coffey (c) v Solar
I've talked at length before about Mark Coffey. He is the Zero-G Champion. He is the man that defeated then ICW Heavyweight champion Mikey Whiplash for the Zero-G belt and consequently has laid claim to being THE ICW Champion. He has defeated all opponents during his reign, with the exception of only one loss to Prince Fergal Devitt in that time, a loss he immediately remedied by defeating both Devitt and Noam Dar to regain the title. His claim to being THE ICW Champion is a legitimate one.

During that reign, Mark has been involved in a strange long-running feud with Solar. The masked wrestler seemed forever to be in Zero-G championship contention, getting no less than four title shots during 2013. That last title shot was against Mark Coffey at Fear & Loathing 6 last October in a match that ended very bizarrely.

Partway through the match, Solar threw up the 'X' sign, a universal symbol that something has legitimately gone wrong and the match should be stopped. This seemed to be the fat lady singing on the bout, however Mark decided enough was not enough and dragged Solar back into the ring to apply a further beatdown culminating in a brutal Boston Crab. Mark seemed to let things be here, before changing his mind and demanding Solar ended the match 'properly', performed his Pumphandle Slam finisher and forced the referee to count the pin to make it an official victory.

At the end of year Awards ceremony, Mark Coffey presented Solar with his "Best Newcomer" Award with the speech being as respectful as you'd imagine it was. Solar responded by pointing out that their match at Fear & Loathing was never finished as far as he was concerned, and the two were booked for Still Smoking at the ABC in March. Coffey spent the months inbetween mocking his opponent, 'defeating' Chris Toal mocked up as Solar. Still Smoking arrived, but Solar was unable to compete, which led to the Fergal Devitt match being made on the night.

Solar made his ICW return in April, challenging Mark Coffey's manager/stablemate in Polo Promotions, Jackie Polo, to a match. The match did not end well for Solar however, and if not for the intervention of Sweeney, who has his own issues with Polo, Solar may not have walked out of the ICW event once again.

With pride more than the championship on the line, Solar has got a lot to prove but unfortunately for him, Mark Coffey's stock has only continued to grow since the last time these two met. This will be a true David v Goliath matchup.

ICW Heavyweight Championship
Jack Jester (c) v Martin Stone
I'm not going to front here like I'm a huge Martin Stone fan. I didn't pay attention to him on WWE NXT when he was Danny Burch. I didn't pay attention to FCW when he was Mark Harris. I wasn't there in the front row when he wrestled Fit Finlay, Doug Williams or Bad Bones. I didn't see him win the GSW Tag Team Title or the FWA World Heavyweight Title or any myriad of matches. I didn't know.

I also wasn't expecting such a huge challenge for Jack Jester to overcome. With the constant threat of Chris Renfrew haunting him wherever he goes, with the challenges of Fergal Devitt and Sabu barely overcome, and with the latest brutal saga of Jimmy Havoc blinding his future like blood-soaked eyes, I genuinely expected Jester to have an easy task at Shug's Hoose Party, what with the show already Sold Out well in advance. Cynical, I know.

More proof that Insane Championship Wrestling never disappoints and proof that Jack Jester is a fighting champion. Having overcome so much already during his title reign, I find it hard to see anyone as a threat to the belt at this point, but someone with WWE experience is certainly a threat not to be taken lightly... now, did I remember to Sky+ those episodes...

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