Insane fight club to invade Sheffield

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Insane Championship Wrestling hits the O2 Academy on Sunday night - and Sheffield might never be the same again.

ICW has emerged as one of the top wrestling organisations in the UK, forcing its way out of its traditional Glasgow base to become a major player on the independent scene.

Part wrestling company, part cult, ICW has an incredibly passionate fanbase that has played a major role in the organisation's rapid development.

Going to an ICW event is not merely a night out at the wrestling. It is a night out period.

Drinking is actively encouraged, as is reacting to what is going on in and around the ring in the most raucous manner you can muster.

In short, you will not find many kids and grandmas at ringside.

ICW draws in a passionate fanbase

ICW draws in a passionate fanbase

This point is perhaps best made by one of ICW's top names, Jack Jester.

A towering figure of a man, Jester's character is an extension of his own personality and built around the fetish scene of which he is a part away from the ring.

There is a reason ICW is for over 18s only.

"It's a wrestling show," Jester said. "The way I try to describe it, a lot of our fans aren't neccessarily wrestling fans. They won't watch WWE.

Jack Jester in action

Jack Jester in action

"They just like coming to ICW. They call it ICW Sundays.

"In Glasgow, we've worked something out with the bars across the road. The fans start drinking at three and then they continue the party in the queue.

"They come in and they just get to see a no-nonsense show.

"It's not us trying to impress a certain TV company or watch what we say in case we offend someone.

"When you come to the shows, just chill. Get a drink, get drunk - no one is going to punish you for that.

"We're styaing over in most of the towns. It's always good to go somewhere, do the show and then have a chance to see what the town has to offer.

"We're happy to find out where the part is afterwards and let the crowd take us somewhere."

The company shot to fame when it was featured in the BBC Three documentary Insane Fight Club and last year's follow up This Time It's Personal.

The programmes documented chairman Mark Dallas' bid to grow his company plus the fortunes of wrestlers Jester, Drew Galloway and the unforgettable comic sensation Grado.

And as staff and wrestlers prepare for their biggest show yet at Glasgow's SECC - which will feature WWE legend Mick Foley - they are heading out on tour and stopping off in Sheffield.

The name Insane Championship Wrestling throws up images of ultra-violent matches with gallons of blood being shed. Yet like the iconic ECW with which ICW is so often compared,

there is much more to it than that.

Jester said: "You get the full spectrum with us. Ladies matches, hardcore matches, some gruesome stuff, comedy, high-flying.

"It's just a lot of impact.

"Our fans have bought into the silly stuff as much as the violent stuff.

"If you had a show of seven blood and guts matches, it's exhausting. You cannot watch one after the other.

"You have that chill out period where there's a funny segment to laugh at. Then there'll be a high-flying match to get your adrenaline back up.

"Then the females come out and the guys love in. And then you can bring out your real hard-hitting blood and guts match and blow the roof off the place.

"It's a real circus vibe. We need everybody."

This Sunday's event will be the second time ICW have visited Sheffield.

And one notable competitor will be hoping for a smoother night at the O2 Academy than the one he had earlier this year.

Jester said: "The last time we were here, I arrived so late.

"Myself and Grado were DJing the night before and we never got to bed until about 6am.

"Grado got picked up, still drink and got in the car. When he got down here he realised he didn't have his gear.

"He had to wrestle in sweat pants and a t-shirt off the merch stand.

"He looked terrible.

"But it was a really good atmosphere when we came here last. It was busy and the people were really responsive to us.

"Hopefully when we're back, folk will know about it because they've been here before.

"I'm hoping to see it even busier from the last time, even louder.

"We're bringing our A-game.

"If any fans are coming, feel free to lose your minds because that's what we need."

For tickets priced at £16, go to http://www.o2academysheffield.co.uk.

And for more information on ICW visit http://www.insanewrestling.co.uk.