What is Insane Championship Wrestling?

WWE, Drew McIntyre (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
WWE, Drew McIntyre (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

If you ask any American wrestling fan off the street what Europe is doing in the wrestling business they will probably mention NXT UK or Progress. But they would be missing the greatest overseas promotion. There is a small promotion that keeps hailing itself as the best wrestling entertainment in Europe. Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) is the brand of choice for those who are looking for the spiritual successor to ECW at a smokey bar in Glasgow.

Let me explain why ICW is the best wrestling promotion over the pond

First, a warning, you don’t take your mother, your pastor, or the girlfriend you met at church to an ICW show. The language is saltier than a Manchester vs. Richmond football match. Luckily, everyone has a deep Scottish dialect that makes it very hard to understand half of their profanity (and what the heck they are screaming about in the ring).  The crowds sing, scream, and chant at their wrestling idols louder than any ROH or Impact show. My favorite chant has to be “Lionheart is a fanny!” (sung to the tune of White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army). There are other chants I would like to share with you but this is a family-friendly blog.

ICW Wrestlers

Drew Galloway, Jimmy Havoc, Trent Seven, Grado, Joe Hendry, Bram, Kay Lee Rae, Isla Dawn, and Finn Balor made it big in ICW. Before they moved on to ROH, WWE, Impact, and NXT they wrestled their brains out in some of the shadiest areas in Glasgow. Now ICW is in their rear-view mirror, but the company still continues to pump out future wrestling stars.

Who would not get excited about BT Gunn’s rivalry with Stevie Boy? The Dastardly Kez Evans is the number one contender for the ICW World Championship. Noam Dar (of WWE fame) is the World Champion. Craig Anthony “The Natural One” is set to win the Zero-G title, while Leyton Buzzard is the heel you want to see beaten up. And let’s not forget the women’s division.

Emily Hayden is the “Wrestle Beach” who counts her victories by breaking arms. Angela Hayze is the featherweight lioness who manages to takedown goliaths like Molly Spartan. Every promotion needs a shady businessman owner, which is why Mark Dallas is the McMahon of choice. The commentary is called by the charismatic and charming Billy Kirkwood who reminds me of a sports savvy Scrooge McDuck and David Tennant.

ICW Events

Before the awful pandemic made mayhem for wrestling promotions, ICW had packed bars and auditoriums all around the Glasgow area. Their flagship show, Fight Club, was hosted at The Garage.  In the Summertime, the insanity would go to Shug’s Hoose for the aptly named event, Shug’s Hoose Party. The SquareGo is a Royle Rumble event, but the wrestlers get to bring weapons to the ring.

Then there is the ultimate event that every ICW fan dreams of. Fear and Loathing. Nuts to Wrestlemania, I want to go to The Hydro Arena, where 6000 fans are chanting for Trent Seven to piledrive Wolfgang through a table. These matches are not chintzy weekend wasters either. Kurt Angle, Triple H, Jeff Jarrett, Jay, Mark Briscoe, The Dudley Boyz, and many other legends have shown up as special guests at their events.

ICW Wrestling

Bully Ray (Dudley) gave his blessing that ICW was the true sequel to ECW. That is an endorsement from the wrestling pope of hardcore. It doesn’t take long to see the similarities between the two brands. Tag team fights spill out into the streets, wrestlers jump over the ropes into the crowd, and every match is greenlit for a good ol’ chair bashing.

But it would be a mistake to say that ICW is pure barbarian slobber knocking. A majority of the matches involve chain wrestling, working spots, and submission holds. The fun is when the chaos envelopes the ring. Title matches have ended with multiple run-ins, table-breaking spots, and tons of weapons thrown around the ring. It seems like every wrestler is required to hit at least three piledrivers and three Canadian Destroyers (Glasgow Destroyer) just to make sure their opponent stays down for the three. It’s adrenaline-soaked fun.

WWE Network

Fans can watch Fight Club every Saturday on the WWE Network or the ICW On Demand service. WWE seems to draw a lot of their NXT UK talent from ICW so it makes sense that you can watch all their stuff. The great news about ICW is that you can pay one monthly fee to watch every single one of their On-Demand events. There’s no need to shell out an extra $40 to see their major events.

As I write this, ICW is confined to a closed set building with no rowdy fans and a very annoying light kit that makes every wrestler look red. They promise to have packed shows in the Summer and Fall when the quarantine loosens its grip on wrestling promotions. I can’t wait to cheer them on.