Insane Championship Wrestling – Nottingham Rock City,11th April 2015
Insane Championship Wrestling doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is fine as it is a wrestling promotion. Whilst other British promotions such as Southside and PROGRESS have gained a respectable following by presenting professional wrestling primarily as a (quasi-)athletic endeavour with ICW the tongue is always firmly in the cheek.
Riding on the wave of notoriety that began with a heralded documentary on BBC TV in 2012 and that has been buoyed by the general rude health of British wrestling, not to mention a lot of hard work in building their fanbase, the Glasgow-based promotions’ show is their debút in Nottingham and the first wrestling event of any kind at Nottingham Rock City outside of Jägerbomb-fuelled Saturday night skirmishes.
The show is part of a UK tour booked to cement their niche corner of the market outside of their home city but attempts to do so on the Nottingham leg of the tour are hamstrung slightly by being booked on the same night as a WWE show at the city’s Capital FM Arena. Insane Championship Wrestling do target an older demographic, with the show at Rock City being strictly 18+ and presented in a completely different manner to that of the American colossus, but there is inevitably some impact on audience numbers.
Fortunately every attendee is amped for the show and greets every match and segue-way with a raucous reaction. Most of the crowd seem familiar with the promotion’s roster and have chants or lines of abuse for each member, the highlight being an outbreak of “Dar, Dar, Dar, Dar, Dar Dar-Dar” to the theme of Eastenders for Noam Dar. In fact the crowd are as much of a part of the show as the wrestlers themselves and ring-announcer Billy Kirkwood, more a straight-up comedian than your traditional Pro-Wrestling Shill, acknowledges this as he warms them up for the nights entertainment.
Which isn’t to say the roster don’t impress. Marty Scurll and Noam Dar are two of the most impressive wrestlers on the British circuit, both in terms of look and skill, and their match is the highlight of the night from a technical POV. Elsewhere Extreme Championship Wrestling legend Sabu moves with an extra-ordinary ease and extra-ordinary disregard for his own health, not just for a fifty-year old man but for any man you could care to mention, whilst Jackie Polo wins points for using a Scott Walker song as his entrance music.
The headliner for the night is Drew Galloway, a former WWE star who was once tipped to be a top star in the industry and who may well still be, versus Grado, whom the aforementioned BBC documentary was centred around. It is at this point that the suspension of belief needed to truly appreciate wrestling becomes required more than any other; Galloway is an Adonis who stands at 6ft 5 whilst Grado possesses a physique that is put to shame not only by the venue’s security but by their bar staff. Yet it is Grado’s natural charisma that makes the match and from his entrance to Madonna‘s ‘Like A Prayer’ he has the crowd in raptures.
If your vision of wrestling and your experience with it is either the bronzed Hulk Hogan template or the old-school World Of Wrestling style of presentation then Insane Championship Wrestling might come as somewhat of a shock and may not exactly measure up, but what ICW provides more than either of those two versions of the first Olympic sport is an emphasis on enjoyment, interaction and, most importantly of all, entertainment.
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