Insane Championship Wrestling: End of the Road for Grado & Drew Galloway

Written by Antony Lusmore exclusively for Marking Out

On October 8th, ICW embarked upon the Road to Fear and Loathing, a road which would take them across England and the company’s native Scotland as they closed in on the biggest show in their history, and the biggest-drawing wrestling event by a British company so far this century. Fast forward to November 1st and their month-long tour has come to a close, meaning it’s finally time to set our sights on what has to be pinpointed as a marquee event in the revival of British wrestling. There are a lot of eyes on Fear and Loathing VIII in Glasgow next weekend, and we’ll be right there to watch everything unfold. Before we get there, however, there’s just enough to take a brief retrospective on what has been one of the biggest months of many Scottish wrestlers’ lives, as we dissect each stop along the Road to Fear and Loathing VIII. There’s a whole heap to say about one particular match on this show, which just so happens to be main eventing the whole thing. So here’s a huge ton of words and dozens upon dozens of reasons why all eyes are on #DrewVsGrado at Fear and Loathing this Sunday.

It all ends on Sunday

The tour began in Dundee, on a night which wouldn’t end well for the newly formed alliance of the Black Label. Despite getting one over on rivals Damo and Grado earlier in the night, Drew Galloway and Jack Jester would feel the wrath of their Fear and Loathing opponents as ‘the Lorraine Kelly Experience’ drew to a close, as the Black Label were cost what would be a huge Championship victory against Tag Title holders Polo Promotions. The road to FNL8 has been full packed with countless twists and turns on both sides of these feuds, or any others that are currently playing out across the ICW roster. Each new city has been a new chance for each wrestler to shine, but more importantly to get one over on whoever might be crossing their path. It’s been exciting to watch such battles waged, especially the stable wars that have unfolded between the Legion and New Age Kliq. In some ways, however, it has been frustrating, and ICW’s attempts to cram so much back-and-forth into so little time has not always been to their benefit.

Grado is one unfortunate example of the pressure and expectations that have rode on the final approach to the biggest weekend in Scottish wrestling history. Everything seemed to be set up so sweetly after Shug’s Hoose Party II for a really intriguing evolution of the Grado character. This, sadly, is not something that has quite managed to occur in the month-long build to Fear and Loathing VIII, and the Grado that lept off a balcony to flatten Bram back in July has been a rare sight in the last few weeks. Instead, we’ve seen ICW’s latest golden boy regress somewhat back into his old ways; beaten decisively by Doug Williams during the promotion’s return to London, and forming a comedy team with Rockstar Spud in Liverpool. This is no knock on the work Grado has done to get fans in every building on his side, and by no means have we expected him to run through all comers on his journey to the SECC.

The seriousness of Grado

But despite the likes of Damo, Colt Cabana and Drew Galloway getting in his ear in the past months, it has been hard at times to see Grado as a wrestler approaching what is quite easily the biggest match of his career thus far. A month long tour has plenty of time for his usual shenanigans, of course, but developments such as his backstage war of words with Chris Renfrew — as well as the assault at the hands of the Black Label that left him bloodied at the end of the tour — have felt all too few and far between at times.

Despite this, Grado remains a huge part of what has brought ICW to this point. Despite whatever missed opportunities we may feel there have been on the Road to Fear and Loathing, there is no understating the huge impact that Stevenson’s finest son has done a hell of a lot to help sell out the five thousand tickets for this show, an amount which as recently as a year ago would have seemed like a fever dream to a British independent wrestling promoter. You can’t play David without a Goliath figure to face off with however, and ICW have seemingly secured the ultimate Goliath in the form of Drew Galloway. In the past year, Galloway has been a man reborn, dominating indies on both sides of the Atlantic as well as being a prominent figure in TNA. He’s in the form of his life, and an impressive six times atop the weekly Indy Power Rankings is a testament to the faith held in him by the likes of EVOLVE, British Championship Wrestling and above all, Insane Championship Wrestling themselves. His road to the ICW Heavyweight Championship last year and the measures he has gone to in order to retain it since have built the former WWE man into one of the most foreboding figures on the British circuit today.

Galloway, however, does not roll into Glasgow as a one man band. While Grado will be backed by an army of thousands, Drew needs just two men to form a near unstoppable unit. The formation of the Black Label faction comprised of himself, Jack Jester and ICW general manager Red Lightning is a fairly new development within the company, but they have not failed to make an impact on a single ICW show since they first came together back in July. Jack Jester, once the man who Drew Galloway returned to the company to foil, is now a powerful ally for the Champion to have, as is the general manager Red Lightning; no stranger to twisting rules to his advantage or altering entire matches to fit his will. Lightning is a man walking on eggshells however with company owner, Mark Dallas. At Fear and Loathing it’s possible that his powers will have no effect at all, for WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley will be the law on November 15th. Nonetheless, the ICW original can never be ruled out of making an impact and despite Drew vs. Grado seeming like your typical David and Goliath bout on paper, there are far too many variables at play to even begin to predict what will go down in Glasgow next Sunday night. Speculation runs rampant, however, and it’s all setting up for a collision which can be described with just a single word: unmissable.

Grado, as seen in ICW’s latest hype video for November 15th, is finally looking like a man on a mission. The gravity of this event is finally reflected by the fire in the challenger’s eyes. With just days remaining until Fear and Loathing VIII, we’re finally seeing the Grado that we've been hoping for since this last tour began. The Champion, however, was born ready for fights like this. When both men collide in British wrestling’s biggest main event in decades, we’re set for an atmosphere like any other. Words like “electric” and “incendiary” won’t be enough to do this justice; we’re approaching a night set to finally obliterate years of misconceptions around British wrestling once and for all. Any qualms we've had with ICW over the past month are ready to be cast aside, for November 15th is looking to be absolutely magical.