No, you are not reading a 19 year old review of football. ICW, as ever, have done a weird fun job of naming their shows. France 1998 is pretty much the only world cup (at the tender age of 8) that I remember watching, so I guess I'm the target audience?
Billy Kirkwood and William Grange were back together on commentary, introducing this night of football chants and glorious stupidity.
Kenny Williams vs. El Ligero
The idea of this match was brilliant, the UK's most well known Luchador (and a man who has faced Rey Mysterio in the past) playing the role of gatekeeper to the biggest match of Kenny's career. Coupled with this being Ligero's first match in ICW in almost 5 years, and I was all in.
Unfortunately this match just didn't click for me, the action felt a bit stilted and I just wasn't particularly invested. Kenny got to hit all his signature offense and showcase what's to come at the hydro, but I just felt (outside of a spot where he teased the 619) Ligero brought very little.Williams scored the obvious win with the Quiff Buster, and I'm still excited about his match with Rey regardless of this rather average contest.
Viper & Kasey vs. Katie Forbes & Kay Lee Ray
I probably have to talk about Katie Forbes. There is nothing that irks me more in wrestling, than when we travel back in time and a female performers' only character trait is "sexy". There is a reason I don't search the network frantically for Torrie Wilson matches, and that's because I'm not a teenage boy (apologies to any teenage boys out there, you probably aren't that disgusting and desperate either!).
Thanks to Kay Lee Ray, this tag contest got thrown out very quickly as she hit all the other women with her Belt (including her partner, thank God!). Enter the entire Filthy Generation to help her destroy her competition at the Hydro. Kay Lee didn't count on a ghost from her past returning to ruin her dominance however, as to the joy of the crowd - Carmel's music hit and she came running out with a chair to clear the ring of muck and grime.
I never got a chance to see Carmel outside of her final match at last years Fear & Loathing. She was incredible on the mic! Her promo was very simple: hyping up how fantastic the women's division is now, and announcing that she will be the special guest enforcer at the cage match!
This was a great angle to build to the upcoming triple threat match. I loved that all of the competitors were in one contest, and that Kay Lee Ray despises the others so much that they couldn't finish it. Carmel is an exciting addition to the affair too.
Unfortunately to our new enforcer, the Filthy weren't done with her yet and surrounded the ring. I love chaotic wrestling, so our 3rd run in of the segment was fine by me. The Kinky Party were the perfect team to interrupt their current rivals, with their partner for the evening Jody Fleisch.
The Filthy Generation (Stevie Boy, Lewis Girvin & Aspen Faith) vs. The Kinky Party & Jody Fleisch
Before the madness continues, I've never gotten chance to gush over Fleisch. Despite his illustrious history, the first time I saw him wrestle was at Shugs this year. I can't believe I missed so many years of my athletic prince!
The chaos continued with a mad brawl, and some lovely dives! Sha's Moonsault is a thing of ridiculous beauty, but my favourite Sha moment was how sad he looked when Jody hit a much more impressive springboard Moonsault! The stupid fun had to end at some point though, and the more cohesive unit of the Filth hit a Glasgow destroyer and an Apter Burner to pin Fleisch. These two back to back segments were almost too chaotic, which was somewhat the theme of the night!
It's now time for the Joe Hendry sports and entertainment open challenge, something I didn't know I needed in my life! Crowd plants are personally a trope in wrestling that I adore, and this was no exception. Hendry plucked one man from the crowd who wanted to wrestle him, and obviously destroyed him. Then (in my personal favourite part of the night) he called out my favourite unknown local wrestler 'Magnificent' Matthew Brooks. Because I know and love Brooks, I knew what was coming when Hendry challenged him to an Entertainment challenge. I imagine, however, that the majority of the ICW crowd were not expecting to hear a man sing opera at France 98! Hendry obviously hated that somebody else was getting the spotlight, hittinga low blow and pummeling Brooks. Because of our insolence, there is now no special entrance at Fear & Loathing. If anybody at ICW reads this humble review, PLEASE bring back Matthew Brooks again to confront Joe. If only for the fact I'll squeal in excitement!
The Carlos Valderrama Invitational Battle Royal
Not enough ridiculousness has happened yet this show, so lets have a gimmick battle royal! I'll just cover some fun and stupid spots. The Wee Man took some "gear" and hit an F5, then got sad, scared and left the ring. At half way through the match, the remaining contenders ate oranges and swapped sides. The STI reunited briefly until Dickie Divers eliminated Grange. And finally DCT won and was presented with the world cup.
We then had an annoyed Dickie Divers issue an open challenge to show he's not a joke.
Dickie Divers vs. Artur Henig
I don't know who Henig is at all, but he won in seconds...I guess Divers is a joke.
Bram vs. Ravie Davie
Before this rivalry, I thought Bram was just awful. It may have been somewhat a carry over from his "Suck my Fuck" trunks. I also can't remember the last time Ravie Davie seemed important prior to Bram hating. Now I'm invested in both of them, and want Davie to regularly kill The King of all Evil.
Everything about this match was so intense, with brutal offense from Bram and more defiant "never give up" moments from Ravie Davie. I really loved Red Lightning on commentary (who dived onto the booth for this match) mentioning that Bram didn't want him to interfere, as this would be easy for him. After brawling with Bram outside The Garage, and taking a lot of chair shots; Davie managed to hit Bram with a chair (as he was on the top rope) and the scene was set for the moment of the night. From the balcony Ravie Davie hit a huge Somersault Cutter for the 3 count, in one of the most innovative spots I've seen in years. I'm so happy Davie's on the card at F&L, and the number 1 contenders ladder match is looking exciting! Also, this was my match of the night.
We had a waiver signing for the King of Insanity match next, with all four men having to sign away their health and safety for 24 hours. I'm not a huge fan of this set up usually but Mikey Whiplash put an interesting spin on the affair. He told the other three men that everybody knows that somebody is going through the table, but this match is about bragging rights and if they don't all go in at 100% then they would lose that. This made so much sense, that I wasn't expecting Whippy to attack Havoc with scissors as he was signing! Then, after Jimmy met table, Mikey finished up by signing the waiver in the goth's blood. The perfect final standoff before they get blood all over the Hydro.
The Purge vs. The Fite Network (Lou King Sharp and Krieger)
I must admit, I thought this mini feud was over and these teams would be moving onto something else. The idea of them having another brawl, but without their more interesting leaders didn't fill my body with giddy juice.
The match was fairly dull, outside of Lou getting dropped off the balcony (like a baby held by Micheal Jackson) onto so many security guys. A few moves whiffed throughout, and there was a particularly terrifying moment where Krieger took a flapjack face first as his size wasn't accounted for. Kid Fite emerged to save us all from this snoozefest, and laid out The Purge with a pipe and a table. During this destruction the Fite Network got the pin, At least Kid Fite looks strong going into his tenth Fear & Loathing I guess...
Aaron Echo vs. Iestyn Rees
I have yet to become in any way invested in Aaron Echo. I'm hoping to be proven wrong soon, and maybe to also to learn what an Echo Bible is.
What this show didn't need, is two consecutive matches that made a Dentist's waiting room look exciting and fun. I'm a huge Iestyn fan, and was really hoping for this to be the match that made me appreciate Aaron Echo. All it made me appreciate is the comparative thrill of a good session of watching paint dry. The saving grace for this match was that Mike Bird joined commentary to talk up how Rees should be on the Hydro card with his large undefeated streak. Somehow I think he may be there to help our tag champs at the very least. Oh and Iestyn won the match, this was my worst match of the night.
Up next we had the weigh in for the champion versus champion main event at F&L. This segment started (as you might expect) pretty slowly, as we watched men be measured on scales. After some brief promos, Coffey and Gunn had an intense face to face standoff. This was soon interrupted by recent loser Bram, who attacked Gunn from behind for the second time in two shows. A chaotic selection of run ins ensued:
- Lionheart took out Bram (after his attack last week)
- Gibson took out Lionheart (for obvious Three Way Dance reasons) and then attacked BT
- Renfrew came out to defend his NAK brother
- Whiplash (and a flock of Cenobites) swarmed the NAK
-And FINALLY Rob Van Dam cleared the ring for the good guys.
Dallas announced that he didn't know what the fuck was going on, and started an 8 man tag match to close the show! Such chaos, such fun!
Rob Van Dam, BT Gunn, Chris Renfrew & Lionheart vs. Joe Coffey, Bram, Mikey Whiplash & Zack Gibson
I loved how many dream matchups we got to see in this multi-man throwdown. I would love to see RVD come back to face Whiplash or Coffey especially!
As you can imagine, this match was utter madness. We got a load of back to back finishers thrown around, and it was just a lot of fun.
Competitors slowly got taken out of contention for different reasons. The two champions brawled to backstage, The Filthy Generation stole away Renfrew with punches and Ravie Davie attacked Bram to the back. The remaining 2 on 2 came to a close when Havoc ran out to take out some Cenobites, and hit the Rainmaker on Whiplash. RVD took advantage and hit a 5 Star Frogsplash on the supine Whippy for the happy ending to the show.
This was very in-keeping with the rest of the evening, and at no point did I stop enjoying the riot level of carnage and confusion.
To end the show we had an incredibly fun feel good moment. Loads of Faces flooded the ring and danced to world cup themed music! The crowd got incredibly into it, with people getting topless, singing and chanting ICW. Absolutely everyone was having an absolute blast, the talent got into the crowd, dancing, and just had the best time as the show finished.
Although this was the go home show for Fear & Loathing, we were treated to a night of ridiculous fun as opposed to focusing as much on the build to the Hydro (as I assume they realised they would both be uploaded at the same time on demand). So much of the show was glorious mayhem. Unfortunately some of the matches just didn't live up to the rest of the chaos.
Next time I'll be talking about Fear & Loathing. I really hope it lives up to the hype. I think the match I'm most excited for is the Three Way Dance (the Gibson and Lionheart promos have been phenomenal). I'm so excited to watch my first F&L as a fully invested ICW fan.