For ICW’s third trip down to London they were hosted by The Koko in Camden, certainly one of the more unique places you’re likely to see a wrestling show. A gaudy 1900’s theatre, replete with balconies, chandeliers and a huge disco ball hanging high above the ring. With multiple levels it was difficult to guage the full size of the assembled masses, but it was announced that this was ICW’s biggest attendence in London yet. After some hype videos played on the screens above the stage, ring announcer Simon Cassidy got the show underway by introducing the ICW commentator & compère, comedian Billy Kirkwood. After some banter with the crowd and marvelling over the strangeness of the venue, Billy headed off to the commentary booth and the show kicked off with a six-man match for the ICW Zero-G Title.
1. ICW Zero-G Title: Danny Hope (c) vs Kenny Williams vs Stevie Boy vs Kid Fite vs Liam Thompson vs Paul Robinson
While I’d heard many of the names in this match, this was my first time seeing all but Paul Robinson, who’s a familiar face in London but was making his ICW debut here. The match had some good action, in particular I was impressed by Kenny Williams and Liam Thompson, who has a very solid lungblower in his arsenal, but things were marred somewhat by a number of run-ins that were a bit lost on me. First, Chris Renfrew and BT Gunn of the New Age Kliq attacked Robinson, hitting an elevated double-stomp before carting him off to the back. Then, as the Kliq continued to make their presence known, Kay Lee Ray came out to a big reaction and hit a springboard dropkick to run off the Kliq, allowing Stevie Boy to pick up the win and become new ICW Zero-G Champion. This was a fine opener, but didn’t have much semblance of structure, although all the participants performed admirably.
2. Lionheart vs Chris Renfrew
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this match and, as it transpired, many in the crowd felt the same way. At the start of the show we’d been shown the promo released earlier in the week by Renfrew, as well as Lionheart’s 7+ minute response, but perhaps it wasn’t the best setting for candid and personal promos, as the crowd were getting tired of listening by the end. This was my first time seeing either man and I had only their promo work to go on, so I was a bit reserved, but was expecting a bigger reaction from the crowd. Lionheart seemed disappointed as well, indicating that the fans weren’t making much noise. Renfrew got a better reception, but that all changed when he removed his ring jacket to reveal “FUCK LONDON” scrawled on his back. The match was OK, some good back-and-forth action, Renfrew countering Lionheart’s Frog Splash, then Lionheart countering Renfrew’s Rock Bottom attempt later on. Renfrew would eventually pick up the win and leave Lionheart staring at the ceiling. FOr whatever reason, the crowd were not into the match before it started and nothing that took place managed to draw them back, which was a shame.
3. Joe Coffey vs Jack Gallagher & Marty Scurll
Business picked up here, as Joe Coffey vs Marty Scurll was turned into a 3-way match with the addition of Jack Gallagher. My first time seeing Coffey or Gallagher live, although I’ve seen some of Joe’s stuff in other promotions. Coffey has quite the following and it’s easy to see why, he’s a very physical wrestler but I think I would have preferred to see him in a singles match. I was impressed with Jack Gallagher however, who showed some excellent technical wrestling skills and pulled off the best rolling armbar I’ve seen performed by someone not named Shinsuke Nakamura or Zack Sabre Jr. For my money, Marty Scurll’s one of the best wrestlers on British shores and his Villain character will hopefully help take him to new heights. He came up short here, Coffey flooring him with a huge lariat for the three count, but Marty was the liveliest participant in the match and did a good job of riling up the crowd. Fun match that kicked the show into gear.
4. London Street Fight: Grado vs Sha Samuels
Of the announced matches this was the one I was most anticipating, if only to see how Grado would comport himself in a street fight (of all matches) against The East End Butcher, Sha Samuels. Grado is such a charismatic character, his entrance alone gets the fans going like no other, but his work in the ring is admirable as well and, out of all the promotions I’ve seen Grado appear for, ICW always present him in the best possible light. Samuels, meanwhile, has quickly become one of the wrestlers I most enjoy to hate. He’s a rough and tumble sort of character and, although the suspenders are more comical than tough-guy, he puts them to good use by choking the life out of his opponents. Grado started the match off at a tidy pace, taking the fight to Sha, but the big man found his footing and took control for the majority, punishing Grado an berating the fans in equal measure. Grado eventually got him comeback and, although Samuels avoided the Wee Boot, Grado caught him about the head with a chair and hit a huge F5 for the win! This was a lot of fun, a very tight ten minute brawl that the crowd were well into. Grado, barring one or two notable exceptions, has to be the most popular man on ICW’s roster. In London, at least.
5. BT Gunn vs Mikey Whiplash
A rather impromptu start to the second half of the show, as the ring bell sounded without the wrestlers being anywhere near the ring. The camera crew rushed into action and found Whiplash & Gunn fighting at the bar. The brawl took them all around the floor of the venue, Whiplash at one point flattening Gunn with a dive off the stairs to the second level, before eventually heading back to ringside. Things weren’t any less heated once between the ropes, however, as both men continued to mercilessly beat the stuffing out of each other. The match took a scary turn, however, involving a spot with a guardrail suspended from the ring apron. Gunn charged at Whiplash, who pulled back on the middle rope, only for it to snap in half! Whiplash crashed down off the ring apron and through the guardrail, snapping off several of the spokes and taking a nasty-looking tumble to the floor. Thankfully, Whiplash was able to continue and, to his and BT Gunn’s credit, they managed to salvage a match from the wreckage, things only ending when Chris Renfrew interfered to give Whiplash the DQ victory.
6. Mark Coffey vs Noam Dar
After a brief intermission to fix the middle rope, which the ring crew admirably accomplished with as much efficiency as humanly possible, the second half of the show resumed with the ever-popular Noam Dar facing one half of the ICW tag champions, Mark Coffey. If either man was a bit wary of the middle-rope, you couldn’t blame them, but this was a good contest regardless. Coffey had the size advantage on Noam, but Dar was the appreciably more seasoned technical wrestler and it showed as he repeatedly softened Coffey up with the knee bar, which would be the move to eventually force him to tap. This was a good match, worked at a deliberate pace and doing a great job of bringing the crowd around after the unexpected break to repair the ropes. Noam’s another guy who, like Grado, just exudes charisma and is surely destined for great things.
7. ICW Heavyweight no.1 Contender’s Match: Big Damo vs Dave Mastiff
I don’t remember this match being announced beforehand, so when The Bastard’s music hit I was most certainly excited! Then, when his opponent turned out to be Big Damo O’Connor, I knew we were in for a hell of a match. If there was any trepidation about the safety of the middle-rope, it went completely out of the window as the combined 45 stone of humanity battling it out in the ring showed zero concern for the fact that the rope might break again at any second. Mastiff & Damo absolutely battered each other, the ring shaking as the power moves racked up. Mastiff turned the tide in his favour with a huge superplex off the top, but when going for the cannonball in the corner Damo moved out of the way. The big Irishman punished Mastiff with lariats, but almost got put away when The Bastard caught him with a release German suplex into the turnbuckles! Again the cannonball missed, however, and Damo finally picked up the victory after placing a chair across Mastiff’s chest, standing on-top of it and leaping into a huge senton over the chair. This one was just a war between two of the best big men competing on these shores today and I loved every minute of it.
8. ICW World Heavyweight Title 3-Way Elimination: Drew Galloway (c) vs Jack Jester vs Sabu
By the time the main event rolled around, it was already pushing half ten and I noticed some of the audience slipping away to make their travel connections. That’s always the trouble with running shows in London of an evening, especially on a Sunday. Shame that some had to miss what turned out to be an enjoyable, if chaotic main event. Jack Jester was out first to a fairly good reception, but the main adulation was saved for the ICW Champion, Drew Galloway, and the Homicidal, Suicidal, Genocidal, Death-Defying Maniac Sabu! I was excited, but somewhat apprehensive, to see what the 50 year old hardcore legend would bring to the match and was pleasantly surprised to find him recklessly launching himself from chairs and ropes like it was 1995, not 2015. After a good opening third that saw Sabu keeping his younger opponents off balance, hitting some of his signature spots and almost eliminating Jester, Galloway hit him with a Future Shock DDT onto some chairs and was about the make the pin, only for Jester to pull him from the ring and pin Sabu himself. Jester brawled to the floor with the champion, but Galloway made a strong comeback and absolutely flattened Jester (and at least one audience member) with a huge flipping senton off the ring apron and over the guardrail! Back in the ring he took an electric drill to Jester’s forehead, which was already bleeding after Sabu had gouged at him with a spike. Galloway hit the Future Shock DDT again, but Jester kicked out, so Galloway hoisted him up and hit a sickening tombstone piledriver on a steel chair for the three count.
Overall, I had a good time at ICW. All-standing shows aren’t really my thing (being somewhat compact in stature), but The Koko had some good sight-lines and it was never a struggle to see the action, especially with the screens on the stage following the fight when it spilled out of the ring. The first half of the show was a bit tepid, but things really picked up for Grado vs Sha Samuels and, although the middle-rope breaking somewhat stalled the momentum, all the guys did a great job of bringing the crowd back into the swing of things. I definitely enjoyed Big Damo vs Dave Mastiff the most, that sort of hard-hitting, no punches pulled style of wrestling more appealing to me than your typical hardcore shenanigans, but that’s not to say the main event wasn’t enjoyable either, because it was. I loved seeing Sabu and he put in a good shift, but Galloway & Jester deserve the major credit for a real good main event. I was also impressed with the general presentation of the show and the professionalism of ICW’s crew. It’s easy to see why they’re gaining such a following in the UK and how they set themselves apart from the competition. Should ICW return to the capital, you can guarantee I’ll be there and I hope it’s at The Koko again! Cracking venue for wrestling (barring the price of the beer, hah).
ICW ‘Alex Kidd in London’ will be available to view on ICW On Demand later in the week; http://icwondemand.pivotshare.com