Mark Dallas – ICW (The VH Interview)

Some interviews don’t need a whole host of introduction, and this is one of those. ICW are arguably the biggest independent UK wrestling promotion, and Mark Dallas is the man behind it all! We caught up with Dallas a few weeks ago and chatted about the promotions début iPPV and Kurt Angle.

Shug’s Hoose Party 3, will be the first ICW iPPV. How are you feeling about taking the company to the next step and next level?

I feel nervous, but not overwhelming! Sometime you get online pay per-views and the feed lags, it’s dead jumpy and shit like that, that’s the one thing I don’t want to happen so we went to some guy in London who’s a specialist in this and he’s got a big massive truck and all this other stuff, we’ve contacted internet providers, it’s costing us a fortune, we are going to try and do it the way the American’s do it with multiple camera angles and high production values, so it’s a big gamble, plus we’ve had a producer editing live with some of the bigger shows like the SECC last year, but not live where it is being broadcast at that point in time, so that’s a scary thought. It’s the unknown, something we’ve never done!

It feels very much like anything you do though, you aren’t going in half-arsed and you aren’t rushing into iPPV’s. I’m sure you had the chance to do it earlier?`

Yeah, that’s why I’ve put it off for so long. We had the chance a couple of years ago, but at the time the internet connection weren’t good, but now it’s amazing, everything is streaming. The internet is ready now! I remember looking on fucking websites when I was 15 trying to watch WWF and WCW PPV’s and still images and thinking that was brilliant. Now you can just watch things live, the technology now means it is doable!

With regard to the iPPV, is it a bit of a tester for Fear and Loathing?

Fear and Loathing is confirmed for iPPV on Fite, which is the same provider as New Japan and Ring of Honour. So we’ve agreed to do these two, originally it was going to be $35 like New Japan and ROH but we decided to change it to $25. When I checked yesterday even with the market bottoming out it came out at about £18, it’s about the same as a ticket after you’ve paid your ticket fees so I think that’s fair enough. Fear and Loathing will be $35 if this one goes without a hitch, but the first one is definitely a test run. We did have talks with the BBC at one point, they discussed filming if for the iPlayer and it seemed like a nice offer, but then I asked the question of how long they owned the footage for and how long it would be before I could put it in my tape library and on our streaming service, and that kind of shop talks so I decided that we might as well do it ourselves. I can’t give away Fear and Loathing, that’s my Wrestlemania.

You want to make the right decision for the brand, you’ve built it from nothing. You can’t just go and hand it over to the BBC, just because they offer you a little bit more cash.

TV isn’t what it used to be, it isn’t the golden goose that it was when we were kids, it has definitely changed with the dawn of the internet and stuff like that. There are people I know who are TV stars in Scotland that still have part time regular jobs.

I think it is the entertainment industry as a whole, I know bands who make jack shit, it’s essentially a minimum wage job to some extent.

It’s still the old thing where you’ve got to go out on the road to make money as a source of income, it’s as if nobody knows what the next thing is going to be. Obviously it isn’t going to be TV, is it going to be the internet? That makes me feel so old, but what’s going to replace television? Is it going to come to a point where we no longer have TV channels, and you’ll just have a page for Eastenders or something like that. When we first started out we wanted a PPV on TV, but now it feels like TV is changing and we are having to constantly look to see what the next thing is so you are up on it, and using it to the best of its advantage. The main thing has been our On Demand service, that’s where most eyes go to these days. We don’t get that many people on our website compared to our On Demand service.

With regard to putting on your shows, you do the England tour. Do you have to make a considered choice when putting the card together because those in the audience might not be up on the current storyline?

Totally, every area in the UK has different tastes, Edinburgh and London don’t like it to be as violent, they like it to be more technical side of things, Glasgow wants violence and strong style, Newcastle is similar to Glasgow, places like Liverpool want a bit of everything. Everywhere has a different sense of humour, and it takes a few times to get it in your writing. You might write something and if that went down in Glasgow it would blow cunts minds, but you do it in another city and the crowd doesn’t go mental, and you are like “what the fuck went wrong there” but then they pop for something else that you didn’t think would get a big reaction. It is also always important to get some local good wrestlers on the card to show it isn’t some mad invading force coming through your area.

I remember seeing your second time in Birmingham, and you put on Trent Seven vs Whiplash.

I think that was Trent’s début!

That match man, fuck!

Trent was out to impress, he knew that was his in with ICW and that if he done good- and he did brilliant man- he’d become a regular, and he has, he comes up for TV taping. He’s a fucking phenomenal wrestler, he’s got a gimmick and a look where he looks like he could go to WWE, he can wrestle like fuck and the amount of punishment he can take is unreal, it’s sickening at times. I recently saw him take a power-bomb from the inside of a ring to the outside of a ring through a table by Big Damo, I think I’d have ended up in intensive care if he’d done that to me, Trent was in the pub afterwards with a pint not giving a fuck. There is no way that couldn’t have hurt! If you go ten feet through a table, that has to hurt!

In terms of Shugs Hoose Party 3, and the match that could change the face of ICW. Are you confident that Noam and Grado can get the job done?

Of course I am, Grado is a household name whose star continues to rise and Noam is still only 22, been wrestling for me since he was 15, we used to have to sneak him into night clubs to wrestle for ICW. So even though he’s been around for years, he’s 22 and now he’s in the WWE for their Cruiserweight tournament. I think they can get the job done!

Looking forward to the future, Fear and Loathing… just a little guy called Kurt Angle!

The horrible thing is thinking, how am I going to top it next year! It actually got to the point, where we went back and forth a couple of times and I hadn’t heard anything for a month or so, so I just went “this isn’t happening” and I was walking back close to the Hydro funnily enough and my phone got a text “right, here’s the contract.” Angle is coming in to main event the Hydro, that’s some big time shit! I wanted it to be a worker this year, I still wanted Foley, but if I was going to bring in another name I wanted someone who would wrestle, Angle is perfect and I think even through he’s still respected I think he’s hugely underrated, he’s won everything! Name me a better wrestler? In his prime he won a gold medal with a broken neck, I know it like a catchphrase and you don’t always take it in, but just sit and think about that. You are in there with the best wrestlers in the world, with a broken neck and you still smashed the fuck out of them! I’m so happy that the guy is going to be on one of my shows.

The Shug’s Weekend starts tonight in Manchester, then move to Birmingham on Saturday before finishing up with Shugs Hoose Party 3 on Sunday night in Glasgow. There are limited tickets left for each show, or you can watch ICW’s first iPPV on Sunday night via https://www.fite.tv/

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