Between The Stripes

Added by Thomas Kearins

An introduction

I’m Thomas Kearins, ICW’s Senior Referee, I’ve been talking to Stu over at The Indy Corner as ICW of course have a huge show coming up in November at Glasgow’s SECC, that being Fear And Loathing VIII and it’ll be a huge night for myself personally but I’ve already had some of those with ICW, up here in Scotland and down in England on tour.

So with that in mind, over the course of the next two months I will be packing my bags and touring the UK again with the ICW team, hitting cities such as London, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle. Imagine a comic book sketch featuring over twenty grown men, including wrestlers, referees, announcers and cameramen thrown into a double decker tour bus and it’s probably an accurate representation of the chaos that will unfold.

As for me, I’m a twenty year old student/referee/retail assistant from Glasgow who just happened to get involved in the crazy world of professional wrestling at the age of twelve. My dad worked with Coach Trip of Polo Promotions fame (this is actually true!) and he provided him with all the details of Area 52, Scottish Wrestling Alliance’s training complex that was based in Linwood at the time. To cut a long story short, I trained for a few years, struggled trying to juggle growing up, studying for exams and everything else that comes with being a teenager so made the decision to turn my attention to being a referee. It came with less pain, more free time and still allowed me to be around wrestling, which I had grown to love!

I should highlight at this point, professional wrestling in Scotland was utter garbage for the most part. Names that are now regarded as the best on the scene were just starting out and the has beens of the past were in charge, that goes for the trainers too. I was charged money to practice crotching myself on the top rope during a five hour training session on a Sunday. That may have factored into my decision to stop training actually, come to think of it…

Fast forward five years and professional wrestling in Scotland is a top contender for the best scene in Europe today. Names like Joe Coffey, Damian O’Connor and Grado have catapulted Scottish wrestling into heights nobody thought it could reach and everybody is benefiting as a result of it. Companies such as Scottish Wrestling Alliance, Premier British Wrestling and British Championship Wrestling paved the way for Insane Championship Wrestling to be able to cater to a different audience, prompting the rejuvenation of the scene among casual fans across the nation.

As for referees, they’ve always been few and far between in Scotland. With the exception of Sean McLaughlin and I, there aren’t that many people that want to be full time refs. A lot of guys involved in wrestling in general will ref while they train to debut as wrestlers, meaning very few take it seriously. I would like to think that the reason Sean and I work for almost 80% of the companies in Scotland between us is because we treat it like a profession, not a stepping stone.

The last two times I’ve been on the road with ICW it has been total carnage. Imagine being thrown on a tour bus for a few days a week throughout the month with all your mates, doing something you love during the day and partying in different cities every night, it’s an amazing experience. I can’t wait to kick off the tour in Dundee next month and finally get the wheels turning as we hit the road to Fear and Loathing! Stay tuned as I can guarantee there will be more than enough stories for me to write about, as well as some I might have to keep to myself!

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