By Alan Boon for WrestlingObserver.com
British wrestling is on the up, with some of the bigger promotions drawing huge crowds, some of the smaller ones doing very interesting things with pro-wrestling, and some of our homegrown stars making waves outside their home territory. Here are five things you need to know about the scene this week:
1) ICW drew the biggest British wrestling crowd in over thirty years on Sunday night, when they presented Fear & Loathing VIII at the SECC in Glasgow.
The promotion, formed in Glasgow in 2006 by Mark Dallas, have had a banner year, with two national tours, two documentaries on BBC TV, and a series of sell-out shows in ever bigger halls in their hometown. For Sunday’s show, they booked an almost entirely British crew, with only Rhyno – who is involved in storylines as a regular import – and the Sumerian Death Squad from Holland, flying in. Mick Foley was brought in as host, but it’s clear that the huge majority of the four thousand tickets were sold on ICW’s reputation for a great show. Before the show started, they announced that Fear & Loathing IX would be held at the Hydro, a thirteen thousand capacity venue across the city. It may be a step too far but few would bet against Dallas and his crew making it.
As for the show itself, Grado became the new ICW Heavyweight champion, defeating Drew Galloway after a typically-ICW series of run-ins and surprises, with the whole roster celebrating in the ring with him afterwards. Earlier in the show, Viper became the first ICW Women’s champion, and Davey Boy beat Stevie Boy in the battle of the Buckie Boys to win the ICW Zero G title. The show will be up on ICW On Demand by the time you read this, and is well worth a look.
2) It's WAR!
Well, it's not really, but there is a big clash coming up in January, when PROGRESS' next ENDVR show goes head to head with Revolution Pro-Wrestling's next TV taping, just three miles away. ENDVR is the middle of three tiers that PROGRESS operate at, and while it's not the big shows that sell out the 750-seat Electric Ballroom every month, it does sell out the 300-seat Garage in Highbury Corner. RevPro's tapings, at the perfect-for-TV-wrestling Cockpit theatre in Marylebone, are stacked with talent, and the promotion had advertised Zack Sabre Jr before he was booked by PWG, and have now booked Will Ospreay versus ACH. It will give the hardcore fans a tough choice, but with ENDVR tickets having been on sale a week before RevPro announced their date, PROGRESS have the upper hand. RevPro owner Andy Quildan has gone on record as saying he prefers to work with other promotions rather than against them and this seems to be a case of an unavoidable clash. But WAR makes for a better story...
3) British talent continues to turn heads in the U.S.
Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll, and Mark Andrews - who competed in PWG's BOLA 2015 - are making a return trip to the Los Angeles promotion next month. While Andrews and Scurll might be known to some from their TNA connections, Ospreay is the real surprise package this year, and it's been reported that AAA offered him a deal last month. Ospreay is only three years into his career, yet carries himself like a seasoned pro - there are few better babyfaces ("blue eyes" in old school British parlance) out there, with everything he does having meaning and impact. He's just turned heel (or "villain"!) for IPW:UK and this reporter, for one, is interested to see how he pulls that off. American fans could do worse than get in on the ground floor - the Ospreay bandwagon starts here.
4) As well as our guys going over there, the Americans came here last week, with WWE touring the UK and Ireland (and bits of Europe, too).
While they were here they took a look at some of our talent, with try-outs being held before Raw in Manchester last Monday. Seen trying to impress WWE scouts were Scottish standout Nikki Storm, North East powerhouse Jason Prime, sometime luchadora Nina Samuels, Australian émigré Toni Storm, and the "Beast of Belfast" Big Damo. Damo's had quite a year already, having faced Tomohiro Ishii, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Hiroshi Tanahashi for RevPro, and he'd certainly be comfortable in NXT.
5) While most of the UK’s attention was understandably focused on the ICW show, there were still a dozen shows on Friday and Saturday, up and down the UK.
Target Wrestling ran both Carlisle and Workington, and drew decent crowds with Grado and Rockstar Spud along for the ride, while NGW left their usual east coast base to run Lancashire’s west coast in Ormskirk, where Nathan Cruz defended his NGW Heavyweight title against CJ Banks. One of the more interesting shows took place in Northwich, where Great Bear Wrestling – sister promotion to RAWlternative standouts (and Chikara-Pro King of Trios entrants) Attack Pro-Wrestling – promoted Teach Me How To Dance With You, featuring teenage phenom Tyler Bate, and a Great Bear Heavyweight title match between Axel Dieter Jr and Jack Gallagher. Also on the card was Chris Brookes, continuing his brilliant heel run of defeating women, this time taking down Alexis Rose. Nixon Newell looms large in his future, I’m sure…
After two fairly quiet weeks – if you count almost 4000 people flocking to an indy show a quiet week! – next weekend hots up, with a TON of shows on offer. Join me again next week for a rundown of the movers, shakers, and headline makers!