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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Adding value to the city you live in

For some reason I feel that it is my duty and obligation to add something to the city I live in, this city is Plymouth. I was born in Plymouth and have many fond memories of growing up in the area. I remember the first Plymouth Argyle game I went to, I remember shopping in the city centre before Drakes Circus when C&A and the like used to rule the world, I remember my first cinema experience at the Odeon and so on and so on.

Giving back

The city of Plymouth has given me so much that I now want to give back and be part of creating amazing experiences for others in this city. This is part of the reason why I am so passionate about making Plymouth a city for Professional Wrestling. I have been a fan of Professional Wrestling since I was about 8 and have travelled the country and the world to support it, to go to shows and to experience it. I know there are lots more wrestling fans in the city like me (the WWE NXT show at the Plymouth Pavilions earlier in the year proves that). I now want to help build a community with them, to network with them and give them a regular wrestling fix, instead of having to wait for the once in the blue moon event that we get down here from WWE, as there may not be any more shows like that down here in our life time.

It’s not the cities that make the other Professional Wrestling companies in other areas of the UK so big, it is the people behind them and I think we have the right team of people here at Plymouth Wrestling Association, to make Professional Wrestling big in Plymouth like it is in London, Glasgow, Preston etc. I would love for Professional Wrestling fans in Plymouth to not have to travel in order to see an entertaining show, I would also love them to have local wrestlers that they support and a growing local company they can get behind. For the local economy I would also love for the money wrestling fans spend supporting their passion to benefit this city and to stay in the city, to help grow this city.

A great form of entertainment

Professional Wrestling may be looked down upon by some or misunderstood by others but I believe Professional Wrestling is a great form of family friendly entertainment, that mixes athleticism, drama, music, culture, personality, competition and art. It is a place where fan participation and interaction is encouraged, where kids can be kids and don’t need to sit still and be quiet.

Plymouth is known for many great things whether that is the sports, the stunning views around the Hoe and Barbican area, the culture, the history etc. But I want Plymouth to be known for and famous for much more and I am going to do everything in my power to add Professional Wrestling to the list.

With that in mind I would love to invite you to the next big Plymouth Wrestling Association show title ‘September Slam’ on Sunday September the 25th at Plymouth School of Creative Arts. Doors open at 6pm, tickets can be purchased from as little as £8 and can be purchased by going to:

http://plymouthwrestling.co.uk/events/event/pwa-september-slam/

 

Trying to promote something for Plymouth

As I have blogged about in the past, I am currently helping out with a company called Plymouth Wrestling Association. This April on the 17th we have our biggest show of the year, featuring a main event that will see a world title defended for the first time in Plymouth and the first time an active world champion has come to perform in Plymouth. This I believe is big news for the city and a history-making event.

Sadly so far the press has been slow to respond to it. My motivation for wanting everyone in the city to know about this event is not just about numbers through the door, it is about getting big events, big stars and history making nights happening in the city of Plymouth more regularly. Without the support of the press and the people, this will not happen.

Growing the entertainment scene in Plymouth

I am proud of the city and to be part of the city. I want the entertainment scene in this city to be vibrant across all ranges of entertainment. I want to be able to go on the Internet and find interesting things to do in Plymouth every night, not just some nights. I think sometimes people just expect things to happen and to keep on happening, but the problem is they wont without our support. This is why I do my best where I can to support and attend events happening in our community.

Wrestling may not be your cup of tea or you may not know anything about wrestling but I assure you, if you give us a chance and come to our show, you will go home after being thoroughly entertained. For our show at the Plymouth Guildhall on the 17th of April not only are we bringing in world champion Drew Galloway but we are also bringing in the best wrestlers from around the UK. The caliber of talent on the show will not be matched anywhere else in the city or the surrounding areas.

A big investment for Plymouth

Unlike a comedy night or a concert where there is just one or a few entertainers this show will feature 15+ entertainers and you get this all from £10 a ticket, which is extraordinarily good value. The show is a big investment to put on for the city and is coming out of the pockets of Plymouth people to do it, so I would love people to come and show their support for the efforts that local people are putting in.

At Plymouth Wrestling Association we want to be a company the city can be proud of. We want to bring regular, affordable, entertainment to the city, which is produced with excellence in mind. We are proud of the city we are in and we hope to be a company that the city continues to be proud of.

To find out more about Plymouth Wrestling Association and to buy tickets to our super show go to: www.plymouthwrestling.co.uk

Getting a foothold

As long term readers of this blog will know, I am a huge a wrestling fan. Got in to it when I was a kid and have kept my interest going through adulthood. There are lots of adult fans of wrestling, some keep it quiet but I fall in to the category of those who don’t care what others think and am proud of who I am and what I like.

Recently I have started writing about the wrestling industry for a news company called The News Hub. In the past I have written about wrestling for many different sites and had my work featured in national news publications. It has been a good 6 years since I last wrote about wrestling though, so to pick it up again has felt good as I used to really enjoy doing it.

Mainstream

The great thing about working for a news company is that my articles on wrestling are next to major news articles on current affairs and in front of a big mainstream audience instead of a niche audience that wrestling websites get. On The News Hub I also have my own page where all my articles are archived so it is easy to build up a following and I am already seeing through the stats that my work is being seen by more people than it would if I just started a website or started writing for a wrestling website.

You can view my work here:

https://www.the-newshub.com/@adamsibley

This opportunity has allowed me to get a foothold in the Wrestling journalism game and because my articles are on The News Hub, Wrestling promotions and the wrestlers themselves are tweeting and posting about my articles. Writing at The News Hub has given my voice more authority and has helped me feel connected to the wrestling industry again, something I haven’t felt in some time.

The writer’s dream

It’s early doors but I have big plans for content and articles coming up and I can only see my audience growing and growing. It is so easy to write about things I love and this is why it has been such a pleasure to do. I feel no pressure to get articles written, I have a million and one ideas and enjoy every time I sit in front of a computer to write and that is the dream for any writer.

I have already seen so many doors open since I started writing for The News Hub and I know many more will in the future.

Chasing dreams

Over the last few months I have been using my skills to help local professional wrestling company PWA (Plymouth Wrestling Association). A very dynamic leader runs the group, with a group of very hard working performers and back room staff who are all eager to put on the best shows possible.

When you say wrestling, most people immediately think of WWE (or WWF as it was once known). Local independent wrestling is different from what you see on TV. The audience are closer to the action, the audience are more involved in the show and the performers aren’t performing for paychecks. The wrestlers are performing for the love of the sport, to get experience and to get noticed. Local Independent wrestling is where wrestlers make names for themselves and hone their craft, so if you want to see a wrestler before they get famous, local independent shows are the place to go.

Dedication

The crazy thing about the guys and girls who get in the ring, is how a lot of them are holding down day jobs whilst also working out incredibly hard to keep their physique and then risking their health and wellbeing every time they get in the ring. This is how dedicated these guys are; this is how much they love to entertain.

We had a big show in Plymouth last night and what shone through for me was the community feel. Many members of the crowd knew each other and many members of the crowd knew the wrestlers, there was a real family vibe. The crowd really got in to everything that was going on, feeling the pain of defeat when their favourites lost and the elation of victory when their favourites won. It was like we were all in the experience together.

Glitz and Glamour

Local Independent wrestling shows may not have the glitz and glamour of the wrestling you see on TV but you have to ask yourself – what do you watch wrestling for? If you stripped away the lighting, the cameras, the fireworks etc. wrestling is about a battle of wrestlers, a battle of characters, it’s storytelling, it’s physical theatre and PWA does this very well. If you watch wrestling for the actual matches then you need to get yourself along to a local show.

It was so great to be in the company yesterday of so many dream chasers. People that have a passion for professional wrestling who were willing to make sacrifices to make it as far as they can in the industry. People who want to make wrestling as big as it can be in Plymouth and make PWA the best it possibly can be.

Many people talk about doing something but these guys are the ones that are actually doing something. Some of them may make it, some of them might not but at least they will all know that they gave it a shot and will know how far they could have got instead of always wondering.

PWA have their next show on November 22nd and I urge you all to check it out. www.plymouthwrestling.co.uk