There's A Wrestling Revolution...And It's Happening In Scotland

With one former star now grappling his way through the WWE, the underground wrestling scene north of the border is buzzing right now...
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With one former star now grappling his way through the WWE, the underground wrestling scene north of the border is buzzing right now...

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People south of the border would be forgiven for thinking that the only thing happening in Scotland is a discussion over our constitutional future.

But as that debate grabs the headlines, there is buzzing Scottish wrestling scene that's bubbling under the surface that keeps thousands of other grapple fans the length and breadth of Scotland entertained.

In fact, it's becoming increasingly difficult to visit an area that doesn't have wrestling within, at least, a short commuting distance. I, thankfully, live in Glasgow which is arguably the hub of wrestling in Scotland.

It is there, and its surrounding areas, that Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW), and various other promotions such as Premier British Wrestling, Scottish Wrestling Alliance and British Championship Wrestling, are all based.

Admission time - I'm a late convert to the Scottish wrestling scene.

I'd been to a few shows here and there but really did nothing more than dip my toes in the water. That all changed recently, and boy am I glad of that.

Wrestling in Scotland has achieved a cult-like status that has not only created a passionate following for the shows, but also a community like spirit. Whether it is the 18+ action from ICW or the family friendly PBW, the chances are you will see many of the same faces in the crowd and many of the same performers in the squared circle.

It allows you to see workers having to alter their style based on the show they are performing – making them better in the process. In fact, one of the hallmarks of the Scottish scene, and a dividing line between independent wrestling everywhere else, is that the promotions tend to focus more on home-grown talent with only a minimal number of former WWE talents brought in.

That's not to say, however, that it doesn't happen. Last year the guys at British Championship Wrestling (BCW) had former WCW Champion and WWE star Vader in for the evening, while later this month Premier British Wrestling (PBW) have former TNA talent and American indy stars Sanjay Dutt, Joe Legend and Jay Lethal over this side of the Atlantic.

Pro-Wrestling Elite have also used international talent in order to give Scottish grapplers the opportunity to face huge names from the wrestling world. PWE promotion Adrian McCallum, who also competes across the UK as Lionheart, has brought over talents such as Mickie James, AJ Styles and Magnus to his shows. “I’ve been able to provide some of the talent here in Scotland, the opportunity to wrestle people who they would class as dream opponents, and that is very cool,” said McCallum.

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As well as describing the action for ICW, Scottish comedian Billy Kirkwood also lends commentary skills to a number of other local wrestling shows. This gives him more of an opportunity than most to see the various stars in the country at the moment and the way that Scottish wrestling has hit a boom period in the past few years.

“I think that a lot of the success Scottish wrestling is having is due to forward-thinking people, and an element of supply and demand,” said the man that has become the voice of Scottish wrestling.

“The people in ICW saw that there was a demand for an adult-orientated wrestling and the company was born. Although I say adult orientated, I think ICW could play to any audience. If Mark Dallas (ICW Promoter) came in tomorrow and said ‘there’s no more swearing, there’s no more this and there’s no more that’ then I think we’d be fine and just as exciting. That’s because of the talent.”

Additionally, Kirkwood believes that an element of national pride has also lent itself to wrestling becoming such a big deal in Scotland. “I think we’re putting something out there that stands up against anything else in the world and the fans just want to embrace it. Now the Scottish promotions are giving fans what they want and being innovative with it. It’s gotten to the point that we’re not trying to keep up with the world of wrestling, we are now part of that world.”

But it's that focus on promoting their own talent that has definitely created such a buzz about Scottish wrestling, something that Glasgow-based Northern Irish performer Kasey Owens agrees with. “I do believe that this is one of the reasons why there are so many talented workers in Scotland and there are more and more coming through” said one half of the Owens Twins.

“It's up to those performing locally to step up and lay down the gauntlet and push ourselves more and more to be the best and to show those US stars that come here why the Scottish scene is where the next generation of wrestling talent is coming from.”

While they are more used to being in opposing corners in the ring, Nikki Storm agrees with her long time rival. “I think there are so many great talents coming out of Scotland that are capturing people's attention,” said Storm.

“There is an incredibly strong women's division in Scotland. There is brilliant characters and fantastic in ring technicians. There is something for everyone on the Scottish Scene like all women's shows, family shows and events for over 18s.”

It's undoubtedly working. In just a few weeks time a BBC documentary on ICW will be broadcast across the whole of the UK.

Having originally been scheduled for a Scotland only airing, this wider audience will result in even more eyes on what's happening up here. And the timing couldn’t be better.

In May of this year ICW will run their first ever show outside of Scotland at the O2 Academy in Islington.

Another thing it will do is paint Scotland in a much better light than documentaries such as 'The Scheme' and 'The Street' have. Both focussed on the more negative aspects of Scottish culture, from drug abuse, to petty crime and binge drinking - but Scottish sensation Grado has higher hopes for this show.

“The Street and The Scheme were both doom and gloom and aye it's funny but you're laughing at them. The ICW documentary is uplifting, it's endearing, it shows Glasgow in a good light and it's a happy story.”

Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of the Scottish wrestling boom has actually been how unsurprised the talent is by it. After all, Scottish promotions have put on shows for years now and the success has already seen one former member of the wrestling fraternity, Drew Galloway, go on to wrestle in the WWE under the guise of Drew McIntyre.

“I would say that I am more proud that surprised. I have been involved in Scottish wrestling for over 10 years now, pretty much from the start, and I have watched it grow into one of the best scenes in Europe today,” stated Kid Fite.

“Everyone from the promoters, to the wrestlers, to the fans, have played their part, and if I am honest I think we are only just getting started,” added the man who also promotes PBW shows.

A fellow stalwart of the Scottish scene agrees. “It’s just grown so huge. The talent was always here, but it’s just grown in volume and there are now more avenues to expose the great talent we have,” remarked Adrian ‘Lionheart’ McCallum.

“Scotland is getting a LOT of attention right now and I truly believe as far as wrestling goes, it’s the place to be for wrestlers and fans... So many amazing things happening in some great companies, and I’m just so excited to be a part of it.”

As a wrestling fan living in Scotland it's great to have so much talent on my own doorstep. Sure, we get the bi-annual shows from WWE (and now TNA), but it's still that bit more special seeing something home grown succeed. Scottish wrestling has undergone a revolution and is firing on all cylinders.

So whether you live in Scotland or stay near the Islington Academy, I recommend that you take the opportunity to take in some Scottish wrestling. You won't be disappointed.