“Our venture out into the world of sports journalism came quick and without much warning but we ‘bought that ticket, so were taking that ride’ and by Christ, it’s been one hell of a ride so far! Considering our first main media event was in Wrestling… ‘Insane Championship Wrestling’!

A chance meet with an ICW Legend and we were off runnin’, press passes in hand, out into the deep ends of extremity…

I was introduced to Dallas by close friend and lifelong partner of mine…Mary-Jane. You’ll laugh at me here, but to be fair, I smoke a severe amount, more than the average individual and may or may not have been feelin’ rather lackadaisical that evening… Dallas was clad in ICW merchandise and with a name like that, I don’t know how I still couldn’t, or didn’t click as to who he was.
My wrestling knowledge?  Well it’s not the best and unless we’re casting memory back deep into my childhood, to a time long ago, when I remember tellin’ my dear mother to “Suck it” D-Generation X style, then I’m pretty much useless. What I do have though, is a complete respect, and always have done, for any individual who can make a living from what they enjoy and love doing, so the guys at ICW had it nailed in my eyes. No! Not literally nailed into my eyes! As speaking from first-hand experience from our night at the ABC, I know all too well how bloody these events can get!

Within weeks of meeting Dallas I had established…or he had established? I Can’t quite remember…That we were both raging fans of the great Hunter S. Thompson and with a division like ours…The Gonzo division, well we were dedicated to his cause from the very start and agreed instantly to cover  ‘Shug’s Hoose Party 2’ gonzo-style! A decision I will forever reward ourselves for making!

Before I ramble on a load of nothingness though I’ll let Chris take over here, and yes he promises to be gentle, as I could ramble till I run out of page and I’ve literally spent the last 10 days running editing at this very laptop I write upon tonight, so I’m afraid my creative energy is running dry and before I spout a lot of shite…I’m out.
Signing off for now,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Spence.


Since childhood, I have had three great passions – writing, music and wrestling, and by some peculiar twist of fate all three are married in this article. So how did NHC’s Gonzo Div. music journalists, get to step out of the world of music for one night and into the bloody and violent world of ICW wrestling? Well through a mutual love of one man, as you can tell by the title of this piece (taken from the Scanlan’s article in HST’s Great Shark Hunt because it is one of Mark Dallas’ favourite pieces of writing) the man in question is Hunter S Thompson and from the ICW motto “buy the ticket, take the ride,” all the way up to their main wrestling PPV being called “Fear & Loathing”, it’s easy to see Mark Dallas, ICW founder and boss, is a huge fan of Hunter S Thompson – a natural uniting then, of ICW and NHC-Gonzo Division.

So we were in from the word go, what Mark maybe didn’t realise however, is that I have a lifetime’s worth of watching wrestling’s knowledge tucked away secretly, allowing me to step quite comfortably from stageside at a concert, to ringside at a fight, fully-armed with the facts. However most my wrestling knowledge up to now only involves certain mainstream wrestling companies, not so much the underground, independent  or local ones, like ICW, but we had another secret weapon… Spence, no not that Spence, the other Spence, as Gonzo Division’s own David Spence’s cousin Laura Spence, just happened to be a hardcore ICW fan and would accompany and guide us for the night, as we crashed through it like wandering peddlars flogging warped morality.

We were set then, and after arriving at Spence’s armed with dozens of cans of cider we met up with the Other Spence and started the night as we meant to go on, slamming tequilas in a pub surrounded by wrestling fans and wrestlers alike. The dark, perspiring, cavernous pub was even showing wrestling classics on the TV, on the screen Stone Cold Steve Austin was having his legs wrapped round the turnbuckle in a figure-four by Bret Hart. The gantry of that place (‘Box’ on Sauchiehall Street) was as if it was hand-selected by god…White Russians, Wild Turkey, Buffalo Trace! We were going to be here a while…
The first thing you notice about ICW is their fans are fucking crazy! Really fucking crazy! As we acquired our passes and made our way from pub to arena, it only became more and more clear that these fans were living on the edge of lunacy. Which is good, because it meant Spence and I could blend right in. I have not seen a crowd so enraptured since Beatlemania, albeit on a far smaller scale, but no less obsessed!

As Spence, Spence and I attended a pre-show promo (promo is wrestling jargon for shit-talking your opponent before the fight) in some backroom full of fans, we realised just how intense this was going to be, the passion and rage of the wrestler Chris Renfrew on the stage as he verbally bodyslammed his opponent Dicky Divers and basically called ICW for all the pig-fuckers under the sun, really was quite gripping and nerve-jangling, and after a lot of pretty skilful shit-flinging it inevitably erupted in a scrap, and so the scene was set for the main event, a ladder match no less! And a bout surrounded by promises of Divers’ immediate and untimely death.

I’ve been a fan of wrestling since I was a kid, and I shouldn’t still be really, after all, it is essentially a trashy soap opera, but there is something very appealing about it, violence and blood for one thing have always appealed to me, and once you get to know the profession you realise the athleticism required for these guys to do what they do is astounding, all-round athletes, requiring proficiency in all fields – stamina, endurance, strength, flexibility, lung capacity, agility, showmanship, these guys are modern day gladiators! Christians waiting to face lions, and us the Romans in our surrounding grandstands with a thirst for blood and an appetite for destruction.

Naysayers will say it’s ‘fake’, but these people are ignorant lugheads with little or no understanding of the sport. I heard a wonderful quote from Dallas himself on the BBC documentary ‘Insane Fight Club’, “Wrestling is not fake, it’s fixed, and there’s a major difference!”. It’s true, define fake? That guy knew he was going to be hit over the head with that chair and allowed it to happen and perhaps sold it to the crowd as well, yeah, but he still got hit over the fucking head with a fucking chair and will feel it for the next couple of days, wrestling is full of injuries and pain, you only have to take a look through your average wrestler’s list of injuries to know that, and even though they may know what they are doing and what’s going to happen and how to do it without literally killing each other, you still can’t fake a swanton bomb off a twenty foot ladder any more than you can fake a superplex to the concrete floor.

The mainstream wrestling companies these days are far too family-friendly and therefore sickeningly dull and monotonous, and this is where ICW steps in, at one of their shows expect blood, violence, swearing, sex, booze and everything 18 plus that you can imagine! The fans that night just became more and more joyously rowdy as wrestlers in turn came to the ring and smacked seven shades of shit outta’ each other. We spent some of the night ringside, some at the bar, outside talking to fans, interviewing wrestlers and patrons alike and generally kicking up shit, not that we needed to much, because the ICW crowd know how to kick up shit themselves, one guy even got so carried away he punched a wrestler right in his bloodied crimson face and was hurled out of the arena (we interviewed this guy immediately after his ejection from the building and it will be released on video). Generally though, it was warming to see the heart and passion these people were pouring into the Glasgow wrestling scene and it being reciprocated back to them from the performances of the athletes and the hard work and dedication of the ICW staff.

I’ve always thought wrestling was missing a flagship British company, and so who better than a bunch of mad Scots to be just that? There are some big names on the ICW roster too, Drew Galloway, Grado (who’s training regime is to eat twelve kebabs and who is introduced into the ring as “fae’ the tap end o’ Stevenston” complete with the cleverly named finisher ‘the roll n’ slice’), and its roster is also packed with some serious raw talent, from high-fliers to charismatic heels and fanpleasing baby-faces, to hardcore fighters and powerhouses, to seriocomic characters and dark and enigmatic villains, it’s all here, the whole thing was a fucking riot…but organized and glorious in its energetic chaos!

The Gonzo Div. thrive in this kind of environment – brutality. In one match, a wrestler named Mikey Whiplash entered the ring armed with a knife in a match up against some demonic-looking brute named BT Gunn, they fought all over the arena until eventually making their way to the balcony, high above the crowd, where the crazy son of a bitch Whiplash jumped, soaring through the air above the crowd to land on his opponent. These guys weren’t fucking about, once the fight finally spilled between the ropes and into the squared circle, Gunn took the knife to Whiplash’s head, opening an artery so that blood cascaded freely as he proceeded to be powerbombed through a set of steel chairs and pinned, 1, 2, 3…indeed, this was not for the faint hearted.

The next match I was told was going to be more technical, and even that turned into a hardcore bout (just the way I like it though), no shortage of chairshots and foreign objects in ICW. The crowd were brilliant too with a whole host of amusing witty chants that regularly rang out around the arena, a very involved bunch of people, as dedicated a fanbase as any I’ve ever seen anywhere in music sport or otherwise.

All night long there had been talk among the fans that ‘Divers was going to die’, Dicky Divers having went through a long and tumultuous war with Chris Renfrew and his stable, and was due to face him, heavily outnumbered, in a ladder match for the ‘Square Go’ briefcase (gotta’ love the Scottish twists). It didn’t disappoint, with kendo sticks, ladders and even a barbed wire chair! And although Divers didn’t die, he came fucking close and took as good a beating as any I’ve seen. By the time Renfrew was taking the briefcase down from above the ladder (aided by his cohorts) Spence and I felt as mangled with tequila as Divers was mangled from his ladder match. We had spent an entire day drinking hard liquor with madcap wrestling fans, who welcomed us into their strange and wonderful family with friendliness despite our often controversial outbursts.

Remember the good old days of wrestling? Mid 90’s, The Attitude Era? Distant memory, yeah, but ICW is bringing that style back and doing it with aplomb (or is that with a powerbomb?). I had realised this by the time the whole night was wrapped up with a good old traditional wrestling wedding as DCT married Viper, DCT uses our favourite local band Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5’s ‘International Sex Hero’ as his entrance music which elicited a dance off from us as he came out to it. The wedding, of course turned into a messy fight, as all good wrestling weddings do and it was a light-hearted end to a night of awesome, savage fighting unmatched since the days of the likes of ECW.

The event became an aftershow party back at a hot and sweaty nightclub, and Spence and I did our best to not offend anyone, as we passed a bottle of Honey Jack around with Dallas and the wrestlers in the Green Room. It was an honour indeed to be standing next to (and very much shorter than) such local greats, and even though we might have been very drunk and bammed them up a little I’m sure they didn’t mind, by the time we were at the after-party-after-party, Spence and I had been drinking for 14 hours and the last thing I remember is begging Drew Galloway to try and get out of my tazzmission and trying to get Bram to sideslam me through a coffee table, haha, oops.

We’ll save the wilder stuff for the videos, and the wilder, wider stuff for the cutting room floor, finished video edit to be released shortly after this article, and to coincide with our interviewing Mark Dallas at ICW HQ. Wrestling God and childhood hero of mine, Mick Foley AKA Cactus Jack AKA Mankind AKA Dude Love, is making a guest appearance at ICW’s November PPV ‘Fear & Loathing’ which is shaping up to be an extraordinary event indeed! ICW’s mounting popularity is down to dedication, a strong fanbase, talent, a never-say-die, don’t-give-a-fuck attitude, and above all, INSANITY, and long may it continue. The Gonzo Division at NHC will be seeing you at many more ICW events soon, reaping our own blend of havoc amidst the wrestling fever.

Thanks to Mark Dallas for a wonderful opportunity, Spence for putting it together, the other Spence for her invaluable input with background history and wrestler info. And to the wrestlers for putting their bodies on the line, time and again, week in week out, for our entertainment, but especially to the ICW fans for their generous and unstinting hospitality.
Watch the insane video footage here

And my three part interview with ICW owner Mark Dallas here


See you at Fear & Loathing……..
C.T Herron.

Originally published on NHC music 18/08/2015