Arnold Furious: November 20, 2016. This is a massive show for ICW. They’ve been building towards it for a literal year. They announced it right after last year’s Fear & Loathing that they’d be running the Hydro, an enormous venue that recently hosted WWE’s flagship programming. To make the whole thing profitable ICW needed to sell a lot of tickets and they’ve done that. Over 6000. Hosts are Billy Kirkwood and William Grange.
Promo Time: Finn Balor
I actually missed this completely as the stream died and the following two matches were aired on Facebook by the promotion. Having massive streaming problems isn’t good news but thankfully once the feed settled down it was perfect.
Joe Hendry vs. Davey Blaze
Hendry is out of ICW for a year if he loses but he gets to rough up the Wee Man if he wins. Blaze is perhaps not the best of wrestlers to kick the show off but Hendry feels like a star and his entrance, a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody, feels like a big deal. Blaze controls much of the contest, which allows Hendry to get all fired up. Hendry picks up the win and this was certainly a match, although it didn’t feel like a big deal at all. The crowd were into it at least. I can’t help thinking something else should have kicked off the biggest show of the year for ICW (and everyone else for that matter). Hendry is over but there wasn’t a lot going on here. It might even have made more sense for Joe to lose and build something up. No, that’s a stupid idea.
Final Rating: *3/4
ICW Women’s Championship
Carmel Jacob (c) vs. Viper vs. Kay Lee Ray
KLR is great but I hate her music. It’s such a non-event. The women’s division really kicked off last year at Fear & Loathing when they crowned a women’s champion. Carmel quickly won the belt off Viper although the star of the women’s division is Kay Lee Ray and it’s perverse that she’s still on the Indies when Nikki Storm/Glencross is on NXT. Viper is a lot bigger so the two smaller girls naturally aim to eliminate the big lass. It doesn’t work because they target the knee and Viper has no idea how to sell. Kay Lee Ray, rather typically, steals the show. Her timing is better, her spots are more exciting and the things she does make sense. Carmel also gets her knee worked over but she actually sells it. KLR is so far above the other two. Whether it’s on offence, taking spots or timing, it’s not even close. KLR is potentially world class. Viper and Carmel are ok. KLR takes out both opponents and beats Jacob with three Gorybombs. Definitely the right result. If Kay Lee Ray is hanging around in Brit Wres she’s the only possible champion. Carmel spends a few minutes putting over KLR after the match, which is unfortunate because of the next match.
Final Rating: **1/2
Stevie Boy vs. BT Gunn
BT steals Trent Seven’s not chopping the ring post spot, which is harsh seeing as Trent is in the title match. Quibbles aside they do some decent strong style stuff before we degenerate into silly casket spots. Like BT being knocked out and getting thrown into the casket but his leg is hanging out. Only it falls inside and the ‘unconscious’ BT has to put it back into position. Then they both end up inside the casket and we get the ‘getting dragged back in’ visual. “Shaggin” chant the crowd, showing how utterly ludicrous casket matches are when the Undertaker isn’t in them. It’s a pity this is a casket match because the actual work outside of the stupid coffin spots is pretty good. Especially BT hitting a spiffy vertical drop brainbuster. If this was a straight up match it’d probably be ***1/2 or more. Instead it’s just dumb. Kay Lee Ray comes out here, after her life-affirming title win just moments ago, to help the heel. I don’t get ICW. That’s just completely counter-productive. BT gets powerbombed on the lid and stuffed into the coffin for the loss. Like I said throughout; the work was fine but casket matches are just interminably stupid.
Final Rating: **1/4
ICW Tag Team Championship
Polo Promotions (Mark Coffey & Jackie Polo) (c) vs. Team 3D
Crowd are really into the Dudleyz because this is the kind of promotion that’s loaded with ECW/Attitude Era fans. Bubba asks for a no DQ fight, perhaps forgetting you can’t get disqualified in ICW. Much like you couldn’t get disqualified in ECW. D-Von turns heel, for me anyway, by wasting a beer over Coffey’s head. Meanwhile Kirkwood rants about imports and how they’ve got to work hard here, which is fair. There are 6000 fans in here. If that doesn’t get you fired up, nothing will. This is a fairly typical Dudley Boyz match only with a hotter crowd. That is until Polo blows his interference in the 3D and a random chair shot finishes. That massive botch, in the middle of the 3D, leads right into Polo hitting a scoop slam on a chair for the disastrously sloppy finish that everyone hates.
Final Rating: *
Post Match: The Wee Man and Davey Blaze interrupt to call the Dudleyz a “blight on the carpentry business”. Davey then lies around ‘selling’ until he’s put through a table. D-Von will, in all probability, retire soon and it’s overdue. However you can’t blame him for the botched finish here.
Video Control takes us backstage where Lionheart, and his crap name, rant about his multiple opponents in the Zero G title match. Elsewhere Trent Seven cuts a great promo about how important this date is to various people but he’ll remember it as the day he came and took home the ICW title. Bring it back to the Midlands, Trent! Wolfgang cuts one in response and we get a load of other pre-taped stuff to fill the intermission. So wait, that Dudleyz match was supposed to be the hot match before the intermission? Oh.
Stairway to Heaven Ladder Match
Zero G Championship
Lionheart (c) vs. Zack Gibson vs. Aaron Echo vs. Liam Thompson vs. Andy Wild vs. Iestyn Rees vs. Kenny Williams
This is slightly complicated as this isn’t a ladder match until four guys have been eliminated. I’ve never seen Echo before. Andy Wild is a lot fatter than the last time I saw him. Everyone else works fairly frequently across the UK scene. Mick Foley interjects from the USA to sing Led Zeppelin and add in a seventh man; “The Bollocks” Kenny Williams. With seven men involved this is absolute chaos. Gibson is the first man out, to my unqualified shock, courtesy of a Jacob’s Backcracker from Liam Thompson. Wild Night Out immediately dumps Liam moments later. Rees dumps Echo. Williams puts Rees out with a flying DDT. Lionheart puts Wild out with a Rock Bottom. So the final two are Williams and Lionheart in a ladder match. The quick-fire eliminations render the point of having seven men out here in the first place pointless. Now at least we’re done with the bullshit and into the actual match.
They bring out a ladder and break it with the first spot, a Rock Bottom on it from Lionheart. They head up a second ladder and poor Kenny gets murdered with another Rock Bottom, this one off the ladder from quite the height. Unfortunately this is running low on time so they skip the selling. Kenny gets back on level terms with a springboard Diamond Cutter off the ladder and he plucks the title down to win the title despite not being in the match beforehand. The match was upsettingly rushed but capped with two huge spots.
Final Rating: **1/4
Lewis Girvan vs. Ricochet
Girvan is a top prospect. One of the better young wrestlers in the UK. He doesn’t look like a wrestler but he’s talented. Ricochet immediately flips onto him repeatedly and from various angles. Including one into the front row. Ricochet makes Girvan look terrific too by hurling himself into bumps. Girvan works hard but he barely has to. Such is the entertainment value of Ricochet. Girvan does his bit on the trading and can just about keep up with Ricochet’s insanity. After a few early jitters Girvan looks especially good. It’s as if the wrestling lets him relax, which is a good sign. Girvan does a fine job of blocking the Benadryller. It shows he’s done his home work, although Kirkwood hasn’t, assuming Ricochet is going for GTS. The ICW crowd is very insular isn’t it? Girvan’s multiple counters into the Celtic Crush, his crossface submission, are good although it feels a bit forced that Girvan gets the win after everything Ricochet hurls at him. It’s a really professional job by Ricochet. He made Girvan look further along than he is and took the clean loss in the process. Match of the night.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Steel Cage Match
ICW World Heavyweight Championship
Wolfgang (c) vs. Trent Seven
I’m disappointed Trent doesn’t have time to shake hands with every one of the 6000 fans in attendance. Shame ICW can’t afford the music rights to get Seven Nation Army playing. Wolfgang rides down here on a motorcycle continuing the trend of shitty wrestlers riding to the ring on a motorcycle. Seven has had an amazing 2016 but carrying Wolfgang to a good cage match may be beyond him. Wolfgang botches his first offensive move when we get underway, failing to grasp the mechanics of a German suplex. Wolfgang has to step up his game and does so, throwing himself into a few big spots. The story surrounds brass knuckles, which Wolfgang brings in but Trent uses. Then we get the screwy storytelling with Trent climbing out of the cage. Why would anyone climb out of a cage when you can have the door opened? Naturally Wolfgang cuts him off and suplexes off the top of the cage…for one! That doesn’t get the ridiculous reaction it deserved. They both head up top and Trent punches Wolfgang so hard he falls off through a table. Well, that’s certainly underwhelming. This explains why the title match is buried third from top despite being in a cage. I was very disheartened by this booking. Maybe it’s the outsider in me, looking in.
Final Rating: **1/2
Disclaimer: the following match is blatantly not designed for me, whatsoever.
Winner Gets 100% Control of ICW
The Black Label (Drew Galloway, Jack Jester, Bram & Kid Fite) vs. (Grado, Chris Renfrew, Sha Samuels & DCT)
Black Label are Red Lightning’s boys. They’re the heels. The other side are the babyfaces, or rather ICW wrestlers brought together by a common enemy, and are all wearing yellow in support of Mark Dallas. Sha gets puts out very quickly. Kid Fite follows quickly. This is one of the most WWE Attitude Era matches you’ll see in modern wrestling. It’s all dated styles and awful looking punches. Grado looks absolutely dreadful in this match. Remember a year ago where it was all about Grado? That match with Drew was tremendous but it’s evident here that Grado doesn’t have that same atmosphere about him 12 months later. Bram puts DCT out. Grado gets rid of Bram, who stinks up every match he’s involved in. Grado gets dumped and Renfrew is left as the sole hope of Team ICW. Wee Boot helps Renfrew deck Jester with the Stunner. That leaves it as Renfrew vs. Galloway and whoever wins gets control of the company. Red Lightning drags the referee out so Mark Dallas can jump in there for a catfight. Galloway boots him in the face, in an attempt to save the match by himself. Renfrew lets his hand drop three times and the match should be over but it’s another f*ck up. So Dallas has to get in there and Finn Balor runs down. Jester then turns face and Renfrew takes advantage of Balor hitting Drew and the Stunner finishes. What a load of convoluted bullshit. The booking here reeks of mimicking ECW. The attempt at layered stuff is actually quite nice but the execution is so clumsy and nobody hit their marks in this. It just felt awkward and fell flat. However the fans in the arena exploded for all the big stuff, especially at the finish. Maybe I’m just a bit too jaded for this sort of thing but it did nothing for me. Galloway was great, everything else was bad.
Final Rating: DUD
Post Match: Mark Dallas fires Red Lightning. It’s the end of a very long storyline. It’s emotionally satisfying for that reason, and the crowd are totally into it, but the match was really bad.
Kurt Angle vs. Joe Coffey
This has to deliver after a lacklustre card. If they want Kurt to wrestle a long match they’re in trouble. Although a glance at the clock reveals we only have 20 minutes until the curfew. Angle would have been a terrific draw for ICW…if Kurt hadn’t been booked in the UK for Rev Pro and WCPW already this year. Plus he goes on after a disappointing card and immediately gets covered in Joe’s blue body paint. The match doesn’t work like Angle’s other UK dates as it’s slow and methodical. Kurt brings the same bad punches that littered the last match. Joe knows he needs to stand out here and look better than the average wrestler on this card. So he’s flying off the top and running up the ropes. However he struggles again when it comes to a power spot and can’t hold a bridge on a German suplex. Angle runs through all his usual stuff and Coffey can hang with him on most of it. Angle then taps out to a Boston crab in one of the most bizarre occurrences you’ll see all year.
Final Rating: ***
Summary: The biggest UK show in 30 years. A crowd of over 6000 fans. You’d think these things alone would guarantee something memorable. What ICW delivered was a mediocre show with sub par wrestling and the focus firmly on three former WWE wrestlers and the worst Scotland has to offer. The good will of one year ago, where Galloway vs. Grado lit up Glasgow and made ICW the envy of Brit Wres, is all but gone. This is not a show that other UK promoters will be pleased with the existence of. ICW cater to a certain type of fan and if that kind of fan is in the majority then that’s bad news for British wrestling. All the great British promotions run better shows than this on their bad days. It boggles the mind to think this is a WrestleMania-esque showing from Britain’s biggest promotion. It’s not so much the storylines that bothered me but the simple failures up and down the card to make things relevant (KLR getting put over huge as the companies best women’s wrestler, then she runs in as a heel in the next match etc) and the poor standard of in-ring.