On 4th October, Glasgow based Insane Championship Wrestling held their first show in Wolverhampton, In Your Face Space Coyote, at Wulfrun Hall. Returning to the West Midlands for the first time since July, ICW presented a show that included Kid Fite searching for his first ICW victory over Joe Coffey, whilst Coffey looked to continue his warm up for Kurt Angle at Fear and Loathing IX. With Joe Hendry, Trent Seven, Tag Team Champion Mark Coffey, Bram and Matt Cross all on the card, would ICW make an impact on Wolverhampton like they have all over the UK?
Venue & Audience - This was my first time at an ICW show, so expect that to impact the review a fair bit. I'm not a regular viewer of the product, I saw last year's Fear and Loathing show on VOD, but didn't make much of it, so haven't watch a full event since then. I tend to keep up with what's going on through Wrestle Ropes' results, so generally have an idea of who's got issues with who, who is being pushed etc. There were approx 150 people in the building, which looked very small because of the size of Wulfrun Hall, but the majority were extremly lively. Whilst the atmosphere would have been improved in a smaller venue, the audience did create a surprisingly good buzz, considering the large amount of space in the room.
Whilst Matt Cross and Wolfgang went on last, I want to talk about Joe Coffey's victory over Kid Fite in the main event slot. It was slightly longer (12 mins), which is almost certainly down to the crowd spending three minutes after the bell singing the riff of Coffey's theme music, Black Sabbath's Iron Man. Both men played it superbly, with Fite showing that he wanted things to stop, which, of course, was designed to get the audience to continue, whilst Coffey would let things die down, before encouraging once again with his signature chest beating. Those first few minutes were a real lesson in crowd control, helped by Wolverhampton being more than up for a sing a long. The actual wrestling didn't quite manage to match the crowd's energy for me, with a number of the bouts bigger spots and quicker sequences come across as a little awkward. A front dropkick that Coffey hit to knock Fite off the apron ended up looking like it hurt Coffey more than Fite. However, the crowd remained loud throughout and there was a nice near fall for Fite, with a low blow and brainbuster. Coffey would hit Aw Ra Best Fur Tha Bells (Discus Lariat) to continue his strong run, since winning and losing the World Heavyweight Championship on the same night in July, which has seen him defeat the likes Josh Bodom, Timothy Thatcher and Matt Cross.
Match in a Sentence - A match that didn't connect as well as it should have in the ring, but one that demonstrated how over Joe Coffey is, even in an area he rarely visits.
The final match on the card was World Heavyweight Champion Wolfgang besting 2 time GSW Breakthrough Champion Matt Cross in a style clash that was a Match of the Night contender. The two worked together well, perhaps surprisingly seeing as this was their first match together, with Wolfgang, the big bruising heel champion and Cross the speedy and exciting babyface. The structure wasn't particularly complicated, but it was filled out with good timing and character work, as well as a couple of really cool spots. Both were over with the audience as a tired crowd remained involved, reacting to pretty much everything either guy did. One of the highlights, for me, was their scrap on the outside, where they put together a speedy sequence before Wolfgang would lift Cross up and crotch him on the guardrail. After brawling into the bar area, the match returned to ring and featured some top quality wrestling with the two going back and forth, including a brilliant near fall where Cross would dodge a punch from the brass-knucks covered fist of Wolfgang and hit a springback cutter. It would have been nice for the title to be on the line, just to give the show a bit more consequential feel, yet at the same time that could have lead to some of the crowd not buying into the Cross' near falls as much as they did.
Match in a Sentence - A big scrap, that was simply booked, but well performed, with a number of strong near falls.
"Big Kink" Jack Jester continued his fine run of form in ICW with a victory over Dan Moloney in a match that had a hometown gut-check type feel to it. Moloney is from the West Midlands and known for his work locally in Kamikaze Pro and Fight Club: Pro, so despite being mostly a villain, he got a favourable response from Wulfrun Hall and whilst there was a contigent of Jester fans, this almost created a home football game atmosphere for the contest. Jester spent a lot of time trying to get in the fans faces, pulling apart the guard rails as fans chanted at him, meaning that it was a good couple of minutes before anything really happened between Jester and Moloney. It was cool for the fans who were getting involved with Jester and speaks to the interactivity of these smaller tour shows, but it went on a little too long for me. Once it started the wrestling was decent, with Moloney taking advantage of the crowd, to work a style that I haven't seen him use before, whilst Jester played the bully role well. The finish made Moloney look great against one of ICW top stars as he was going toe to toe with Jester until a mule kick low blow and a Tombstone Piledriver gave the former World Heavyweight Champion the victory.
Match in a Sentence - A solid encounter with a unique feel, that could have done with a little less stalling.
In the opener, the team of Zero G Champion Lionheart and Stevie Boy (accompanied by Kay Lee Ray) picked up a victory over Kenny Williams & Joe Hendry, following some interference from Hendry's former Local Fire partner, Davey Boy. The majority of the bout was a decent tag team affair where after Hendry & Williams shined early, Lionheart and Stevie were able to take control with plenty of help from KLR on the outside. This created some enjoyable activity as the villains used a t-shirt and external interference, including KLR being able to cut off what looked like a potential Williams comeback by pulling Hendry off the apron moments before the tag could be made. The finish however showed a lack of attention to detail as Hendry left the ring to brawl with Davey out of the Hall, however Hendry had been the legal man at the time. Whilst Williams fighting on his own against Lionheart, Stevie & KLR was an interesting story to watch unfold, as KLR removed the ref to stop Williams pins, both Lionheart & Stevie were attempting pins also, regardless of who was supposedly legal. This is a pet peeve of mine! If I'm expected to be invested in Williams attempting to get the tag earlier in the match, then why change the playing field and allow anyone to go for pins later on?
Match in a Sentence - Some decent tag team action, with an story furthering angle for Fear and Loathing IX, but there needed to more attention to the detail.
Trent Seven continued the road towards his World Heavyweight Championship shot with a victory over 2 time Heavyweight Champion BT Gunn in a hard-hitting sprint. With both guys fan favourites in the brand, Fight Club: Pro star Seven got the majority of the fan support in his hometown. The duo put a real shift in across the nine minute outing, battering each other in out of the ring, with big strikes and suplexes. The chop sequence on the outside, where both would end up connecting with the ringpost was clever stuff, whilst the pair scrapping on their knees following a number of big moves (including Gunn kicking out of a piledriver) was cool, and had a great sense of building momentum, with both selling well. It's a shame that this felt like the adbridged version of a better match that the two could have had, as more time would have allowed some sequences the chance to breath. With another five or ten minutes and the chance and ability to explore, these two could produce absolute magic together.
Match in a Sentence - Good hard hitting shit, but not enough of it.
Former TNA King of the Mountain Champion Bram picked up a big win heading into the Battle for Control on 20th November, besting former World Heavyweight Champion Chris Renfrew with more than a little help from Black Label pals, Drew Galloway and Jack Jester. This was a bit of a mixed bag for me. When the duo focussed on what they do best, wild and crazy brawling, the match was a lot of fun. What's not to like about big blokes throwing other big blokes into walls, barricades and destroying the merch stand? I felt like once the match got back in the ring, it lost most of its intensity, with very little definition to make up for it. The contest wasn't helped by Bram's single fan in attendance yelling for her villainous bae throughout (someone had obviously had a little too much during the interval as she was nowhere to be seen throughout the first half). Things picked up with the finish that was a well worked situation, as Jester caused the distraction on the ramp, that allowed Galloway to come through the crowd with a chair and hand Bram the victory.
Match in a Sentence - A firey brawl when outside the ring, that struggled when inside it, but had a cool angle for the finish.
Tag Team Champions Polo Promotions (Jackie Polo & Mark Coffey) continued to build momentum to their showdown with Team 3D (Bully Ray & Brother Devon) on 20th November, with a victory over first time team, "Smash Mouth" Chris Ridgeway & "Kiwi Buzzsaw" Travis Banks. This was the sleeper hit of the evening for me, as Ridgeway and Banks connected surprisingly well for a first-time unit, while Polo & Coffey heeled it up nicely, roughhousing the newbie team for a long portion of the match. Despite one gentleman loudly shouting "We Want Team 3D" (I can only imagine he expected the 8 time (WWE) World Tag Team Champions to be chilling in the back eating orange chips), Banks had the majority of the crowd support and his partnership with Ridgeway built from the hot tag onwards, with a number of sweet near falls for the team, including one off a nifty superkick and german suplex combination. The four built the match well towards the finish, that saw Coffey pin Ridgeway following a superkick and Polo Promotions' elevated German suplex double team (which I imagine has a snazzy name), with the move initially being teased on Banks, before a flurry from Banks & Ridgeway. The team of Smashmouth and the Kiwi Buzzsaw has potential, but my main takeway from this match was that I don't see nearly enough of Ridgeway at the moment and hopefully that will change in 2017!
Match in a Sentence - A cracking tag encounter, that made good use of it's time and built to an exciting climax.
Following the finish of Bram v Chris Renfrew, there was a busy af angle, that would lead directly into the Sha Samuels v Davey Boy match (see AOB). The main bulk of this would come from a Drew Galloway promo, where he talked about the injuries that had kept him out of competing on the tour (he was Trent Seven's scheduled opponent for this show), as well as addressing Mark Dallas' absense as the build for the Battle for Control continues. Galloway's promo was perfectly fine stuff, as he brought his trademark intensity, as one bloke shouted 3MB at him and Jack Jester and Bram kept Renfrew down on the ramp. Samuels would attempt to help out his team mate for Fear and Loathing IX but quickly got blindsided by Davey Boy and another steel chair. The beatdown of Samuels seemed to go on forever as Davey choked him out with his own scarf and smashed his leg with the chair.
Segment in a Sentence - Managed the difficult job of promoting various angles, but went a little too long and lost the majority of my interest by the time the Samuels v Davey match began.
Any Other Business
- Despite the vicious attack from The Black Label and Davey Boy before the match, Sha Samuels was able to roll-up Davey in a short, but well paced encounter, with Joe Hendry acting as a distraction on the ramp.
- Following Trent Seven's victory over BT Gunn, Stevie Boy and Kay Lee Ray attacked Gunn on the ramp, with Wolfgang attempting to blindside Seven, only for the hometown star to rebuff the attack, before cutting a strong promo thanking the fans and vowing to defeat Wolfgang for the World Heavyweight Championship on 20th November.
- The show concluded with Trent Seven making the save for Matt Cross, hitting his Seventh Heaven Piledriver on Wolfgang, before posing with the World Heavyweight Championship in a bostin' moment to send the fans home happy and promote the upcoming Seven v Wolfgang cage match on 20th November.
ATPW Scale Rating - 5.31/10
In Your Face Space Coyote was a relatively enjoyable night of professional wrestling in the style that you would expect from ICW. Polo Promotions v Ridgeway & Banks, Wolfgang v Cross and Seven v Gunn were all good matches and definitely the highlights of the evening. Some of the booking was a little frustrating, because of the need to heavily push Fear and Loathing IX. It was shame that names likes Grado (pulled earlier in the week), Lewis Girvan and Kay Lee Ray (dropped to a valet role) didn't wrestle on the card as they were three of the ICW regulars I was most looking forward to see. Big Damo's departure to WWE also took away a name heavily associated with the brand this year. However, it was cool to see West Midlands based guys like Dan Moloney and Travis Banks getting slots on the show, with the mostly savvy crowd recognising this and creating a great atmosphere for those matches, that is unique to these ICW tour shows.
Show in a Sentence - A decent wrestling event, that was a little overpriced at £19.
Match of the Night - Ridgeway & Banks v Polo Promotions
Words and Images - James Marston (@IAmNotAlanDale)
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All images belong to Insane Championship Wrestling