The last time I spent £18 on a sporting event, it was York City v Portsmouth and it was awful. Fortunately, the £18 I invested to see Insane Championship Wrestling at the O2 Academy in Leeds was money much better spent.
I’m not a huge wrestling fan by any stretch of the imagination – I don’t have Sky for a start, which somewhat scuppers things in that regard – but I keep a vague eye on what’s happening in WWE, plus I read chats in forums about less mainstream promotions and try to pass the knowledge off as my own.
ICW (or eye-see-dub, as the chants go) is one such promotion I’ve had some exposure to, so I knew that the artist formerly known as Drew McIntyre in WWE (now Drew Galloway) was going to compete. Jonny, who I was going with, also indicated that other big league alumni Paul London and (The) Brian Kendrick would also be in attendance, so there was something to lure in the casual fan.
That’s pretty much where the links with WWE stop though – in the warm-up, the crowd was told to leave if they were expecting John Cena-esque presentation. For those not au fait, he’s the poster boy of WWE and, by and large, derided by independent promotions’ fans for a list of reasons that I could fill a blog with.
These fans come for more extreme action, which at numerous times included busting through the barriers around the ring, with the Drew Galloway bout spending a lot of time in and around the bar. I don’t know whether the bar staff had been warned about that beforehand, but it’d be amusing if they hadn’t and were thinking ‘what the fuck?!’ as these brawling behemoths approached.
That’s another thing you’ll get at an indy show – swearing. Lots and lots of swearing. I don’t have a problem with swearing at all, but sometimes it felt a bit gratuitous, although much of it seemed apt. Plus the promotion is from Glasgow, so ya know, it’s difficult for them not to eff and jeff.
Would I go again to this kind of event? Yeah, I reckon I would – it feels pretty intimate (the crowds are only four-five people deep) and there’s constant interaction between fans and wrestlers – including the use of a guy’s crutch as a weapon and London and Kendrick chatting to fans at the bar after their match. You also see much more technical wrestling, like you’d see at the Olympics – it changes that pace as it’s something a bit different, but it’s obvious why it doesn’t get in WWE because it wouldn’t really work well as TV entertainment.
It also gave rise to my favourite ‘chant’ of the evening – among all the various witticisms and swearing, every so often when there was some technically excellent action going on, you’d get someone just shout ‘Wrestling!’, which generally received cheers as the crowd welcomed being at a wrestling event, rather than WWE’s sports entertainment product.
There’s various indy promotions around the country – you can find a list on Wiki or in local listings – so if you fancy giving it a go sometime, check when the next show is and get yourself down there.