Why ICW are the Kings of the Wrestling World

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Like many other wrestling fans across the globe, I like to think I could be the next Vince McMahon, I think that I could run my own wrestling company and I always have a million and one storyline ideas running around my head. Someone who got off the couch and actually turned these thoughts in to reality was Mark Dallas. In 2010 Mark ran his first show in front of 30 people, last weekend his company Insane Championship Wrestling ran their biggest show to date at Scotland’s biggest arena ‘The Hydro’ to over 6000 paying fans.

In 2010 if you said the name Mark Dallas to any wrestling fan the response would have been – who is he? Now he is synonymous with the growth of wrestling popularity not only in ICW but across the UK. Mark hasn’t done this with stacks of cash, he has done it with unrivalled creativity and vision, which has seen ICW become one of the most talked about and most influential promotions around the world today.

Going mainstream

ICW were cemented as part of the mainstream when across 2014 and 2015 the BBC produced two incredible documentaries on them called ‘Insane Fight Club.’ These shows broadcast ICW from their native Scotland to across the UK. The documentaries were the biggest TV event for British Wrestling since the World of Sport days during the last golden era for British Wrestling, but now we can say thanks to ICW that a new golden era may just be beginning.

ICW’s annual show ‘Fear & Loathing’ is their flagship show, their version of WrestleMania if you will. In 2014 they sold out the Barrowlands with it, in 2015 they sold out the SECC the second biggest arena in Scotland and although they didn’t sell out at ‘The Hydro’ they grew the crowd by thousands and at their current rate of growth, you wouldn’t put it past them to sell it out within the next two years.

Something different

ICW are so different to any other promotion, not only on the creative end of their product but the business end as well, two things which have been sorely lacking in the UK for some time. Being the visionary that Mark Dallas is in 2015 he announced that ‘Fear & Loathing’ would be at ‘The Hydro’ in 2016 and the day after this year’s incredible show tickets were available for next years show, again at ‘The Hydro.’ Not many other (if any) British wrestling companies plan and promote shows a year in advance but that is how professional ICW is and how forward thinking they are. When ICW announced that they would be at ‘The Hydro’ in 2016 many people thought that it would be a bridge too far, even for ICW but not Mark Dallas, he believed in his product and put in the hard work to make it a success.

What is more incredible about this years success is that they sold over 6000 tickets to ‘The Hyrdo’ without the BBC coverage that they had in the run up to the SECC show in 2015. What ICW managed to do in 2015 was capture peoples imagination and through their product they not only continue to keep fans but their fans continue to be their army, championing their cause, spreading the word and bringing new fans to the promotion.

Competition

ICW had lots going against them this year, first was WWE announcing and holding Raw & Smackdown tapings at ‘The Hydro’ a few weeks before their show. The second thing was the incredible competition in the UK marketplace with Ring of Honor doing a small tour of the UK on the same weekend as ‘Fear & Loathing’ the first UK Ring of Honor tour for 10 years, this was coupled with shows by other great UK Promotions like PCW and RPW holding the very successful Global Wars the weekend before.

Whilst the likes of RPW and RoH were putting on critically acclaimed shows in front of anything from a reported 600 to just over 1000 crowd, ICW blew them out of the water. Don’t get me wrong 600 – 1000 are big numbers in comparison to where this industry has been in the last 10 years but nowhere near ICW’s league. There is one reason why ICW can draw these numbers and transcend the business, that reason is their identity.

Packaging and presentation

The brainchild of Mark Dallas is so strong that ICW is unlike any other. You can see many of the ICW roster on shows across the UK but you can’t see a show like ICW anywhere else. ICW isn’t relying on wrestler star power or so-called ‘dream matches’; ICW’s selling point is its packaging and presentation. An ICW show is an experience unlike anywhere else, the storylines and characters that Mark Dallas creates is what makes ICW one of the most talked about wrestling promotions today.

Like many other promotions from time to time ICW bring in big name imports from America to star on their shows. The difference when ICW brings them in compared to other promotions is that they find a way creatively to sew them in to their storylines and get the most out of them. At ‘Fear & Loathing’ this year they had Kurt Angle, Team 3D, Ricochet and an appearance by Finn Balor but what they did is they found ways to use them to get the local talent over, so they didn’t all win and they all played a part in creating and cementing long term stars in ICW. That takes bravery from Mark Dallas and shows how big ICW are, that big name American wrestlers are happy to do the honours and play their part to help the brand.

The new ECW

Many similarities have been talked about between ICW and infamous American company called ECW, who in the late 90s were seen as the most cutting edge, game changing wrestling promotion. I think a few years ago the similarities may have been seen to many as flattering to ICW but now I think with what ICW have achieved these last two years that it should now be ECW alumni who are flattered by being compared to ICW. If ICW were based out of America and doing what they have been doing for the last 6 years then you would have to start calling them the number two promotion behind the behemoth that is WWE.

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Getting excited for the Olympics

It’s less than two weeks away and I for one am getting really excited about the Olympics, in Rio this year. 4 years ago the Olympics was in my home country and the only disappointment that I have, is that I didn’t get or apply for any tickets to go, as looking back on it, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I don’t think there is any sports competition on this planet that comes anywhere close to the Olympics in stature, magnitude and meaningfulness. Yes there is the World Cup, The SuperBowl etc. etc. but the Olympics are something very special. I believe that there is no greater accomplishment in sport than winning an Olympic Gold Medal. Being an Olympic Gold Medalist sets you apart and makes you very special indeed.

Feel Good factor

In 2012 the Olympics brought a feel good factor to the whole of the UK. Not just for the two weeks of the competition but for the build up as well, as the Olympic Torch proceeded throughout the country, with everyone being able to touch and feel the brand of the Olympics. The other night my wife and I watched the opening ceremony from 2012 again and it just took us back to the experience of the last Olympics, where we were and what we were doing.

Although we have the time difference to contend with I am looking forward to getting caught up in Olympics fever again, watching as much as I can on the TV and being inspired by the events that I watch. I don’t remember being as in to the Olympics when I was a kid as I am now, but I hope I can pass on my enthusiasm now to my children and that they enjoy the Olympics growing up.

Going down in history

Regardless of what happens each Olympics always goes down in history, with many conversations across the globe starting with “do you remember when.” Not only do you have that but you also have footage from the history of the Olympics that is used in many TV programmes and a lot of news coverage for decades and centuries to come.

I will be watching avidly at home, enjoying watching history being made and being inspired by the amazing competition that unfolds. So much seems to divide our world at the moment, so never has there been a better time for the Olympics, an event that brings the world together.

An Extra Day

So it is the year of the leap year and today is that extra day in the calendar. My question is – what are you going to do with it?

The answer for me is to do the same as I do every day and try to make the most of it. This extra day is worth nothing in a year if you waste many more days than this poultry one day, which is added every four years. Everyday should be treated as a gift not just the one added to the calendar every 4 years. No extra days in the calendar make up for wasted ones.

How do you measure your time?

The real answer in life is to not measure your life in years but in days. Every day is as important as the next. It doesn’t matter what month or year it falls in. What you did in the last calendar year doesn’t matter, what does matter is what you did with everyday you were given. Every day is a new opportunity, regardless of the date and the season.

There are many articles in the news today to coincide with today’s date. One article I saw was about how the working people who are on salaries were working this extra day without being paid any extra for it. I say it is just about how you look at it. You could spin it on its head and say for the other 3 years we are getting paid for working one day less. Life is what you make of it and how you look at it.

Seizing the day

The other article I saw was about how on the 29th of February it was the day for women to propose, a duty traditionally reserved for the man on any other day in the calendar. I like a bit of tradition and this is something that encourages ladies to seize the day, which I am for, but people should be encouraged to seize the day everyday not just the 29th of February.

February the 29th goes just as quickly as any other day and can be as important as you make it. Do what you can with today but remember to do what you can with March the 8th, August the 12th and so on. Throw out the calendar and get yourself in to everyday not every date.

2016 the year of living intentionally

In our house over the last six months the big world has been ‘intentionally.’ Intentionally is the way we want to live our life and spend our time. We started at the back end of 2015 trying to live more intentionally but now for 2016 we want this to be a whole year of living intentionally.

In the last week of 2015 we thought about and wrote up our 2016 list of intentions. Our intentions aren’t like resolutions with very specific outcomes or all about self-improvement. Our intentions are a guide to how we want to live our life and put up there so we don’t forget what we want out of life. All of our intentions are things we can control and aren’t reliant on anyone or anything else.

Purpose

To us living intentionally is about doing things with purpose and when we are doing things, making sure that we have the reasons for why we are doing something etched firmly in our minds. This is even more important to us now with a baby to look after. Her development and growth is so important to us that we want to make sure that everything we do is helping her and that time isn’t wasted.

We don’t want to live life without a plan any more. We want to have targets and reach them. My wife and I have always been big fans of plans. We would take joy in planning the schedule and timetable for weekends and holidays but this is something bigger and different. Our plans now aren’t about minutes and hours; they are about life and are applicable to everyday of the year. We don’t want to be better some days of the year; we want to be better everyday of the year.

Committed

We would often find ourselves getting annoyed or frustrated when we hadn’t achieved what we wanted from a day, failed to reach a target or just felt like we had wasted time. We have always had goals and still do, but now by living intentionally they feel achievable and I know if we keep committed to this way of life we will achieve them.

Our list is filled with things to help TeamSibley as a whole and the individual members of it have better days, to grow as individuals and as a group, to help our mental and emotional wellbeing and most importantly things to make life fun. I am a true believer that if you make life fun, life becomes easier and although living intentionally requires thought and work, it will make life more fun, so it will be so much easier. With our way of life all our energy will be invested in moving forward and we will have to invest less in the emotional strain of when things aren’t going the way we wanted them to.

I hope others will take on the challenge this year of living their life intentionally, as I truly believe that it will change our lives for the better.