From a historical standpoint I think that after everything was really shut down in the beginning of 2020 due to the pandemic, this was one of the first shows which ran. I like the way it was set up with the ring and cars as it gave a unique experience that people will look back on years from now and still be impressed. This was also in place of the original second volume of No Holds Barred, which I have a ticket for still, that was to feature wrestlers such as Pagano and, yes, I still hope that happens one day.
Right away, this show opened with Nick Gage vs. Casanova Valentine, a rematch of sorts as you can also find them fighting each other on The Best of Casanova Valentine Blu-Ray DVD available now from Smart Mark Video. I think we all can agree that Nick Gage is a legend at this point, but even though he has some experience under him I like to think of Casanova Valentine as somewhat of a newcomer still, so this is like the old vs. the new. A lot of people also seem to shy away from getting into a ring with Nick Gage (which is understandable) but Casanova Valentine seems to embrace it.
While ICW can be thought of as hardcore/death match in their style we sometimes forget that the No Holds Barred idea can also be good for those who like to submit people. There is a real MMA feel to Dominic Garrini and I enjoyed seeing him against Tony Deppen here. Props to Tony Deppen for lasting as long as he did in this match.
Reed Bentley and Akira were the third match of the night and this was my first time seeing Akira. I watched this show back when it aired and then kind of zoned out on wrestling except for a few things, one being that P.O.R. Wrestling Hardcore Grand Prix, which was my second time seeing Akira fight. This show was the match where Akira just hits this insane jump off of a roof. I like Akira though because he looks like he could mix it up MMA style, with ninja skills, but also he's not afraid to take a light tube to the face.
Matt Tremont pretty much did the death match version of a squash to Brandon Kirk, which was nice because I don't think anyone likes Brandon Kirk. The last two matches featured four men- Alex Colon, Eric Ryan, John Wayne fucking Murdoch and SHLAK- who I think will all go on to be featured on future shows and really pave the way for what the promotion of ICW is to become. On Volume 1, we had names like Low-Ki, Homicide, Tessa Blanchard and Killer Kross who didn't return (and they may some day, when Tessa gets out of Mexico) but I think of them as being more like special attractions to some extent. I see these four men in the final two matches as the main roster stays.
I'm not sure how things would be different without the pandemic happening. I imagine a world where I went to No Holds Barred Volume 2 and some other wrestling shows and then everything just took off from there. But I will say that during this pandemic I don't believe any company has run more shows than ICW has- at least not ones which can be seen on IWTV. And so, for that, I think things have been different. After seeing No Holds Barred Volume 1 though I'm glad it feels like there are more eyes on ICW now though.
To me, one of the biggest problems in professional wrestling is standing out- making yourself different from everyone else. And people argue back and forth all the time about whether WWE or AEW is better but to me they're the same. They do the same type of shit. I like to see the type of wrestling where you go "This is ~fake~ but how the hell do you fake that?" And I just think, like the name No Holds Barred implies, it's nice to see people beating the shit out of each other in a minimal sense. It definitely helps ICW stand out and it definitely makes them one of my favorite promotions to watch right now.