Every year, it seems, professional wrestling in Scotland raises the bar for itself. 2016, though, took its role in this pro wrestling renaissance a bit too seriously.
You probably, at some point, heard about Insane Championship Wrestling’s show at the Hydro. Publicity wise, the company really stepped further into the mainstream than owner Mark Dallas could ever have imagined it would.
The incredible significance, though, of any British wrestling promotion in the 21st century; much less one barely ten years old with humble roots in Maryhill; selling over 6,000 tickets for an event and broadcasting live across the globe on pay per view, will be lost on all but the passionate wrestling fans.
To put it in its clearest terms, ICW Fear and Loathing X at the SSE Hydro wasn’t dubbed the ‘European Wrestlemania’ for no reason.
Nothing in European wrestling nowadays even comes close. And that’s not to knock some of the pro wrestling scenes across the continent; it’s getting more popular everywhere, and beginning to thrive again in places like Germany and Austria; but Scotland really is leading the charge.
Even some of the larger American companies, like Ring of Honour and TNA, haven’t managed a show as big as ICW’s debut appearance at the Hydro. The significance was reflected in the talent that were attracted to appear.
Kurt Angle, Team 3D, Ricochet, and of course the first WWE Universal Champion and former ICW favourite Finn Balor – not to mention RAW general manager Mick Foley, albeit via satellite – all showed up, side by side with guys like Joe Coffey, Polo Promotions, Grado and Drew Galloway. It was, undoubtedly, a cultural phenomenon.
Just as significant for wrestling in Scotland, perhaps, was another promotion broadcasting worldwide from the Hydro.
Just weeks before ICW occupied the arena, WWE taped both RAW and Smackdown from the venue for the first time ever; a statement as clear as any about how the world is beginning to view our emerging underground scene. Both tapings heavily featured a raucous Glasgow crowd, and the wrestlers responded by knocking it out of the park. And if this wasn’t enough to convince you that ICW, and Scotland’s somewhat new found passion for wrestling, has a profile on the world stage, that’s not all the evidence that 2016 hit us with.
WWE’s Glasgow shows featured the RAW debut of one Noam Dar, the 23 year old Israeli-born Scot, who made his last ICW appearance in only September before heading stateside to make history as only the third Scot and first ever Israeli to appear on WWE main roster TV.
Glasgow’s Nicola Glencross; known as Nikki Storm to Scottish fans, and Nikki Cross, now, to the rest; is also making waves in WWE, appearing alongside Eric Young in NXT faction Sanity.
Considering we’d only seen two Scots, ever, appear in WWE prior to 2016 – one being current ICW talent, Drew Galloway – to have two debut in the one year is a sure-fire sign of progress.
ICW have already announced a return to the Hydro next year for Fear and Loathing X, and whichever way you look at it, the world is noticing wrestling in Scotland. If we continue to progress at the benchmark rate set by 2016, then who knows what’s next.
As ICW broadcaster Billy Kirkwood put it, it’s the evolution of the revolution.
Images sourced from ICW website. Photo credit: @mrdavidjwilson