Insane Clown Posse's History In Wrestling, Explained

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The Insane Clown Posse have been a fixture of the pro wrestling business since their arrival in the 1990s. Even if you've never heard their music, you've more than likely seen or otherwise been made aware of ICP at some point. Their face paint has been a widely parodied look and their fans, the Juggalos, have often been the subject of widespread notoriety.

Their music has always been an eclectic mix of hip hop and surreal horror tinted visuals that often lampoon serious subjects. With an aesthetic this bonkers and a fanbase this loyal, it only makes sense that ICP and pro wrestling would pair well together. From the indies to some of the biggest companies in the world, the Posse have certainly left their mark on the squared circle. But, for those who need an education — not on magnets, but on Insane Clown Posse's history in wrestling — this is for you.

The wrestling origins of the Insane Clown Posse

Insane Clown Posse's origins began in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan and with two men — Joseph Bruce AKA Violent J and Joseph Utsler AKA Shaggy 2 Dope. As noted in "Behind the Paint" by Violent J and Hobey Echlin, the duo's beginnings are actually heavily intertwined with backyard pro wrestling. For those who need some context, remember those "Don't try this at home" bumpers that WWE has aired over the years? Essentially, these are the kids who outright ignored that and opted to turn their backyards into their own imaginary arenas.

While certainly dangerous, these humble roots did provide the duo an on-ramp into pro wrestling, bringing their self taught skills to actual indie companies. Following a stint in jail, Violent J met then-ECW stars Rob Van Dam and Sabu, who eventually became good friends with him and Shaggy. It was also during this time that Violent J grew disillusioned with the often political nature of the independent wrestling scene. This led to them sinking their teeth into the hip hop game, taking gigs under their gang name of the Inner City Posse. Wanting to stand out against a saturated gangsta rap market, the duo rebranded as the Insane Clown Posse. This is where the group truly came into their own, taking on the eclectic tone and gonzo horror vibes that they'd become known for.

Their time in ECW

If ever a professional wrestling product defined the anarchist, often countercultural grudge vibes of the '90s, it was Extreme Championship Wrestling. Unpolished and possessing an unwavering sense of DIY spirit, ECW provided a great venue for many fresh young talents to make their mark. This included the likes of Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho, Tazz, Rey Mysterio, Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, and even the Insane Clown Posse.

As previously mentioned, J and Shaggy had already fostered a friendship with RVD and Sabu during their time on the indie scene. This friendship resulted in ICP getting a call from them in 1997 asking if they wanted to appear on an ECW event. The duo accepted, and ended up making their debut for the company at their second pay-per-view event Hardcore Heaven. After an in-ring hip hop performance, Sabu and RVD, in the midst of their heel tag team run, rushed the ring and battered ICP. In a painful twist of fate, an ill placed kick from RVD ruptured J's eardrum, rendering him temporarily deaf. Thankfully, The Sandman arrived, fighting off RVD and Sabu, saving ICP in the process to a sizable crowd reaction. As a one-off appearance it effectively showcased ICP's musical abilities, mastery of crowd, work and impressive ability to take a beating.

The birth of Strangle-Mania

The same year as their spot on Hardcore Heaven, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope set off another wrestling venture. The duo's love for pro wrestling extended far and wide, especially towards the Land of the Rising Sun. Both men were rabid fans of the Japanese death matches that were often sold on compilation VHS tapes. The two men parlayed this fandom into a video release known as "Strangle-Mania," a compilation of Japanese matches but with ICP's own commentary track.

The success of the "Strangle-Mania" brand led to ICP's Strangle-Mania Live 1997, a hybrid of hip hop and pro wrestling. Outside of a few scant clips, the full event has never surfaced but its contents have been chronicled online. The event was headlined by a match between Insane Clown Posse versus a tag team made up for the event called The Chicken Boys. Through their connections with Hellfire Wrestling, the show also featured appearances from legitimate deathmatch wrestlers — Mad Man Pondo, 2 Tuff Tony, and Corporal Robinson. Not only that, but legitimate wrestling legends such as King Kong Bundy and Abdullah the Butcher were there as well. From what can be seen of the event, the entire affair was a superb beta test for what ICP could do with live pro wrestling.

Their time in WWF

In the late '90s, the WWE, still known as the WWF, was heavily entrenched in the Attitude Era. This was a time predicated on gonzo and frequently bad taste car crash television more so than high workrate wrestling. One idea that emerged due to this era was The Oddities, a stable of various freakshow wrestlers originally led by The Jackyl AKA Don Callis. The group was originally a group of freakish heels composed of Kurrgan, Giant Silva, Golga, and Luna Vachon. Interestingly enough, the group found themselves in a segment with characters from another '90s stable, Howard Stern's Wack Pack.

Following Callis' departure, the group were rebranded as babyfaces and even given a catchy new entrance track courtesy of the Insane Clown Posse. Per "Behind the Paint," WWF had caught wind of the duo's crossover appeal with wrestling fans and offered them the opportunity. This resulted in not only their song being used, but even accompanying the Oddities to the ring whenever available. Additionally, ICP got the chance to compete in the ring against Mosh and Thrasher AKA The Headbangers. Things soured when the Headbangers opted to shoot on ICP, hitting them with very stiff shots and not selling their offense. This, combined with previously agreed upon Insane Clown Posse commercials not airing on "Raw," killed the relationship with ICP and WWF.

Their time in WCW

Following their departure from WWF, the Insane Clown Posse opted to appear for Vince McMahon's competitor, World Championship Wrestling AKA WCW. From 1999 to 2000, ICP were a frequent presence on WCW television, helping to form two stables within their stint. The first of these stables was The Dead Pool, an offshoot of Raven's Flock from ECW, featuring Insane Clown Posse, Vampiro, and Raven himself. Following Raven's departure from WCW, the group was rechristened as The Dark Carnival and supplemented with The Kiss Demon and The Great Muta.

In WCW, ICP were allowed to compete in-ring far more than in WWF. ICP found themselves staring up at the lights more often than not, but did manage to score some victories along the way. This included wins over the likes of Norman Smiley, Public Enemy, and even the boy band themed faction known as 3 Count. ICP's time where the big boys play came to close in rather painful fashion amidst a two-on-one handicap match against Mike Awesome. The match concluded when Awesome, stuck in his '70s gimmick, Awesome-Bombed Shaggy onto the roof of his bus. This led to Shaggy sliding off the roof and falling to the concrete ground below, resulting in a sickening bump.

That time ROH booed them out the door

The 2000s were a time of great change for pro wrestling, especially when it came to the independent scene. Following ECW's financial downfall and subsequent purchase by the WWF, many indie feds attempted to recapture that same magic. One company that arose from this was Ring of Honor AKA ROH, first opening its doors in the year 2002. Without ROH, the modern landscape of wrestling would lack some of its most prominent figures — including Bryan Danielson, Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, and Homicide. From day one, ROH predicated itself on fostering a loyal ECW-style fanbase and hinging itself on workrate based matchups.

Given this commitment to see sports entertainment-based wrestling, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that the Insane Clown posse didn't quite fit in. At ROH's Glory By Honor 2002, ICP made their one and only appearance for the company, facing off against Diablo Santiago & Oman Tortuga AKA The Outcast Killaz. Simply put, the ROH fans didn't warm up to ICP's shtick and thoroughly booed them throughout the matchup. Following this less than positive reaction from the company's fans, the duo didn't return for another appearance.

Their time in Impact Wrestling

The Insane Clown Posse's final stop on their tour across late-'90s and early-'00s wrestling companies was Impact Wrestling, then known as "TNA Impact." For the longest time, "TNA Impact" was the only somewhat-legitimate competitor that the WWE had throughout the 2000s. In 2004, J and Shaggy made their first appearance on TNA's weekly television in the crowd alongside some Juggalos. Later that night however, Jeff Jarrett was battling El Leon through the crowd when ICP opted to spray Faygo in his eyes. This turned into a storyline in which ICP, set on competing in TNA, began wrestling whomever Jarrett sent in his stead.

Residing mainly near the company's lower-midcard, ICP took on the likes of Glenn Gilbertti, David Young, and Kid Kash. This feud resulted in the one-off stipulation of a Dark Carnival match being used — something of a hardcore bout that featured weapons and periodic uses of ICP's music — a match type that hasn't resurfaced since. The duo eventually stopped appearing on television, but their contributions to the company weren't done just yet. In 2006, ICP were given the chance to book and promote the first ever TNA house show event. Other than a crowd cameo a few years later, this was a wrap for ICP's run in the Impact Zone.

The creation of Juggalo Championship Wrestling

By this point, the Insane Clown Posse's appreciation for pro wrestling should be abundantly clear, especially given the bevy of companies they've appeared for. Given their bizarrely impressive tenure within the business, forming their own wrestling federation seemed a logical move. Dropping in the year 1999, Juggalo Championship Wrestling (formerly Championsh** Wrestling) debuted at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit, Michigan. This event, similar to Strangle-Mania Live, proved to be a big success and was given a home media release via "JCW Vol. 1." The first volume was a big success financially, resulting in the release of a second and third volume. Though the third volume needed some extra time as due to injuries and an overly raucous crowd, the first taping was deemed unusable.

Following the success of their video releases, the company began going under the new moniker of Juggalo Championship Wrestling. Following this rebranding, JCW began a kayfabe-rivalry with another indie fed, the Philly-based company known as Pro Wrestling Unplugged AKA PWU. Building steam, JCW began releasing "Slam TV!," a weekly series that led up to their highly anticipated BloodyMania event. At its core, JCW is a loving tribute to the gloriously violent hardcore wrestling and Japanese deathmatches that originally inspired ICP. That definitely rings true in their home media releases, which are dripping with ICP's music and their signature sense of humor.

Gathering of the Juggalos

Where it comes to the Insane Clown Posse, there are few grounds more holy than the Gathering of the Juggalos. The first Gathering took place in 1999, serving as the first organized event for the quickly expanding ICP fanbase. This beta test for the event was not without some hiccups, most infamously 300 Juggalos joining the group on stage, resulting in the concert being stopped. However, the event was still a success, resulting in the Gathering coming back for a second go and lasting till today. Much like ICP's Strangle-Mania Live 1997, the event is a hodgepodge of different forms of entertainment, including pro wrestling.

The Gathering of the Juggalos has been frequently used as a venue for pro wrestling, often with JCW. Given the chaotic nature of the event, pro wrestling made for a natural fit. Often branded as JCW's BloodyMania, the matches definitely leaned into the event's party atmosphere, focusing on insane spots and bloodshed. If you've never seen footage of the event, the best way to describe it would be as a crossbreed of ECW and Woodstock. It's a testament to the power of independent spirit and what can happen when you build an insane yet loyal fanbase — whoop whoop indeed!

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