2015 was one of the biggest years ever for Scottish wrestling, with Grado vs Drew McIntyre being the peak of wrestling in the country.
The United Kingdom was going through a renaissance of wrestling, with the flourishing indie scene producing a series of stars that were taking over the profession.
Thousands of fans flocked to various promotions, like PROGRESS and RevPro, although it was arguably up north when Pro-Wrestling was it’s biggest.
Insane Championship Wrestling had grown in popularity over the years prior, being featured in a number of BBC documentaries (named “Insane Fight Club). This helped build up their wrestlers as larger-than-life stars, but none more so than Grado.
Originally, he was just a comedy wrestler who could not get on the card in ICW. It took a social media campaign to even get him booked, with the hashtag “Get Grado Booked” getting his name out there to the masses.
He soon grew into the most popular wrestler in Scotland. A crossover star, he found roles in various Scottish BBC shows, and embarked on numerous Pantomime runs in his native country.
His personality soon shone through, and Grado became a regular with ICW. His hilarious matches and promos had the crowd in stitches, but it was his entrance that really caught the people’s attention.
Grado’s entrance music was the 1980s hit “Like A Prayer”, by pop star Madonna. This is not your usual theme song for a pro-wrestler, bucking the trend of punk rock or rap songs usually used at these things.
The entrance soon took over wrestling, with fans all over the UK flocking to Scotland to sing along to Madonna, with some of Grado’s most iconic entrances.
He had never won the ICW World Heavyweight Championship, however. Grado finally got his chance to challenge for the belt at Fear and Loathing VIII, but had to get past one of the best champions in Scottish history to become the champion.
Drew McIntyre (then known as Drew Galloway), the former WWE Champion, had been released by the WWE the year prior, and sought to rebuild his image on he independent scene.
He moved back to Scotland, becoming the biggest star in ICW by far, and quickly defeated Jack Jester to become Champion at Fear & Loathing VII.
Galloway held the title for a year, defending it all over the world. It was under his ownership that the title became a “World” Championship, and helped make ICW the most popular it had ever been.
His reign culminated at ICW Fear & Loathing VIII, in ICW’s most star-studded event yet. Featuring WWE legends like Mick Foley and Rhyno, the event had everything it needed to draw ICW’s biggest crowd yet.
Fear & Loathing VIII saw ICW World Heavyweight Champion Drew Galloway (McIntyre’s name outside of WWE) defending against Grado, the hilarious underdog babyface, who entered the arena to thousands of fans singing along to a Madonna classic.
Over 4000 drunken Scots crammed into the SECC Arena in Glasgow, to see Mick Foley help Grado to finally defeat Drew McIntyre to win the ICW World Heavyweight Championship.
In a match fraught with interference, and coupled with McIntyre’s dominant heel performance and Grado’s ultimate underdog gimmick that had the fans eating out of his hand, it took a Wee Boot ( a big boot) onto a steel chair on McIntyre’s face to win the match for Grado for win his first World Heavyweight Championship in wrestling.
This is still one of the biggest shows in UK wrestling history. Only a few shows can brag about selling over 4000 tickets for their event, and this should have been the starting point for a new boom in wrestling in the UK.
Sadly, the creation of NXT UK and the #SpeakingOut campaign ended any hope of a move into the mainstream for wrestling in the UK, making Grado vs Drew McIntyre still the biggest match in Scottish Wrestling history.
Grado Says Drew McIntyre Is The Best Guy In The World
In conversation with Sportskeeda, Grado talked about wrestling Drew McIntyre, and had some wonderful things to say about the former WWWE Champion.
Grado claimed he learned a lot from Drew in the match, and that he helped Grado look like a star by putting him over.
He also credited Mick Foley as one of the reasons they sold nearly 5000 tickets for the event – one of the biggest wrestling crowds in British history.
Drew [McIntyre] is the best guy in the world to wrestle, I learned so much from him. I’m not the most technically gifted wrestler in the world by any means. He helped make me look like a star, and I loved that match. I’ve not watched it a lot. It’s a thing that always pops up on YouTube and obviously the pop when I win is emotional as hell, man. It was great.
And for Foley to be there as well, for a big mark like me, it was something else and I can be proud of that because we sold that out, like, a month in advance and we didn’t have that many yanks on it. We had Rhyno on it who was really just built as a midcarder.
Obviously we had Foley. He’s part of it as well but selling that show out, Grado vs Drew, 4,500-5,000 people – that was just amazing, man.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.