Get ready for an Insane night of wrestling with ICW

Wolfgang
Wolfgang

Insane Championship Wrestling has a history of stopping traffic in Sheffield - literally.

The last time ICW hit town, the action spilled out of the O2 Academy and onto Arundle Gate, making headlines in this newspaper.

Action from an ICW event

Action from an ICW event

Towering wrestlers Drew Galloway and Jack Jester battled in the street, surrounded by hundreds of baying fans while a queue of traffic, including a double decker bus, was halted with passengers watching on, mouths agape.

The wider public was given a taste of what the Glasgow-based professional wrestling organisation was all about as they saw bitter rivals Galloway and Jester slam each other into concrete walls, much to the delight of fans.

As ICW prepares for its latest tour date in Sheffield at Plug on Saturday night, stalwart wrestler Wolfgang says fans can expect the unexpected yet again.

"That is the thing about ICW, we're aimed at an over 18s audience and because of that the rules change a little bit," he said.

The ICW championship

The ICW championship

"When Simon Cassidy, the master of ceremonies, opens up the show, he will tell you with the exception of a pinfall or a submission the rest of the rules are at the referee's discretion.

"We have had fights where we've been in Newcastle and people have nearly been thrown into the River Tyne.

"And up in Glasgow it regularly gets a bit out of control but that only adds to the excitement for the fans.

"You expect it all to be kept in this 18ft wrestling ring but not only will it spill outside of the ring, it can even go over the guardrail and we'll be fighting in amongst the crowd.

"You have to experience it first hand just to see how exciting it can get.

"It ended up on the streets of Sheffield last time, making headlines. There's buses going past full of people wondering what the hell is going on with these big burly men in spandex throwing each other into walls and a few hundred fans are egging them on.

"If it was anywhere else on a Friday or Saturday night you'd end up being lifted by the police.

"But it's all in the name of entertainment where we're concerned."

Chaotic scenes may make headlines - and the Insane part of the company name is not there for nothing - but ICW is more than just 'hardcore' wrestling.

High-flying, technical and women's wrestling are all a key part of the show.

The brainchild of Mark Dallas, the organisation is one of the leading lights in the rebirth of British wrestling, which has reached heights in recent years not seen since the days of World Of Sport on ITV.

This current tour for ICW is part of the build-up to their biggest event of the year at Glasgow's SSE Hydro on November 19, a show which will draw thousands of fans from across Britain.

It has been an incredible 11-year rise for the company, which accelerated following a BBC documentary in 2014 and has seen ICW become a world wide name.

"We've grown from this cult event in Glasgow. The BBC caught wind of the best night out in Glasgow and have done a couple of episodes on us," Wolfgang said.

"It documented the rise of ICW and the ambition of Mark Dallas, where he wanted to create a working environment where one day we could work as full time professional wrestlers.

"Sometimes you take what Mark says with a pinch of salt. When the Hydro was being built he said we're going to run a show there one day. You're thinking 'all right big man.'

"But there is no goal that he hasn't achieved.

"That is an incredible feat, for an independent show.

"If you consider 35 years ago, the likes of Big Daddy and Johnny Saint who your grandads used to watch on ITV. We've managed to bring British wrestling back to a place where we can get more than 6,000 people into a venue, off the back of our own homegrown talent.

"There is so much talent from all over Britain now and ICW is at the forefront of showcasing what British wrestling is all about."

British wrestlers have never been in more demand on a global scale, building high profiles particularly in the US and Japan.

The aforementioned Drew Galloway is the current champion of NXT, the development brand of industry leaders the WWE, wrestling under the name Drew McIntyre.

The WWE increased their reach into Britain earlier this year by holding the UK Championship Tournament in Blackpool, which was broadcast live on their online streaming service the WWE Network.

Wolfgang was one of the 16 British wrestlers chosen to compete and reached the semi-final stage where he lost to eventual winner Tyler Bate.

And since then he has appeared regularly on WWE programming as well as being involved in live events in the US.

"It's been an amazing year for me" he said.

"It started last November when I got a call from William Regal who is the head talent scout for WWE. He told me they were running the UK Championship and wanted me to be a part of it.

"By January I'm wrestling in this tournament in Blackpool which is being broadcast live to millions of people around the world.

"It's been a whirlwind since then. I was at the Royal Rumble which has always been one of my favourite events, then at Wrestlemania which is just a huge spectacle.

"And I had the opportunity to wrestle at the Barclays Centre in New York for NXT Takeover Brooklyn III which was incredible.

"I've gone from wrestling in front of tens of people in working men's clubs to 15,000 people.

"I've had a 14-year career and you get to 30 and you start to think it's going to be as good as it gets, your chance of the big time has gone.

"But it's all happened for me this year and it's been incredible."

Wolfgang is arguably one of the most interesting and surprising wrestlers you are ever likely to see.

Heavy-set, 6ft1, bearded and long-haired, he looks like your typical brawling wrestler who throw his opponent around the ring.

But he is just as likely to throw himself around the ring, showing remarkable agility and high-flying ability.

He said: "You will get a bit of everything from me. I can brawl, I can do the technical, catch-as-catch-can style stuff and I've also got plenty of agility as well."

Wolfgang will be in action at Plug on Saturday night with the card yet to be announced.

He said: "If you've never experienced an ICW show, watching it on YouTube or our on-demand service, it's good but it doesn't do it justice the same as it would so seeing a live event,

"It's like watching a gig on telly or going to the gig and being there - it's night and day, experience wise.

"I'd urge everyone, if you've got any interest in professional wrestling or even if you don't, if you're looking for an alternative night out, it's fun for everyone.

"It's the best sort of live entertainment. I challenge anyone to come and walk away not saying they've enjoyed themselves.

"Once we get you in the door the first time, you will want to come back."

Tickets for Saturday's event - which begins at 7pm - are priced between £20 and £25 and are available from www.the-plug.com