The British wrestling scene has been taking the world by storm over the past couple of years and quickly became the hottest wrestling scene in the world today with so many companies that have contributed, I’d be here all day giving them the mentions they deserve. That being said four companies made a lot of noise in 2016 and they were PROGRESS, ICW, OTT and Rev Pro and worked with WWE in some capacity for either the Cruiserweight Classic or the United Kingdom Championship Tournaments. Despite the success of ICW, OTT & Rev Pro, I believe it is PROGRESS that is at the forefront, leading the rise of British wrestling.
PROGRESS recently celebrated their 5th birthday and throughout their 5 year existence, it has grown in leap and bounds. At PROGRESS Chapter One: In the Beginning, Nathan Cruz made history in becoming the first ever PROGRESS Champion and set the company on the right course with the help of future Champions such as El Ligero, Rampage Brown, Mark Andrews, Jimmy Havoc, Will Ospreay, Mark Haskins and the only two time PROGRESS wrestling champion, “The Villain” Marty Scurll.
PROGRESS have already witnessed some huge things happen to them in the first couple of months in 2017. To start off the year, PROGRESS first show would be their debut in Birmingham, Chapter 42: Life, The Universe & Wrestling which would run the same day as the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament, therefore missing their current PROGRESS Champion & Tag Team Champions British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate & Trent Seven) as well as the likes of Nathan Cruz, Mark Andrews, Roy Johnson, T-Bone and James Drake. However, despite all this PROGRESS still managed to put on an amazing sold out show with some great matches and surprises for the fans in attendance. WWE Superstar Finn Balor appeared and had a game of musical chairs, WWE/NXT Superstar Tommy End made a surprise appearance to face Jimmy Havoc and Matt Riddle beat Rampage Brown to become the new Atlas Champion. To cap this weekend off, the semi finals of the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament featured three members of the PROGRESS roster, Tyler Bate, Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews alongside ICW’s Wolfgang with the eventual final of PROGRESS Tag Team Champion Tyler Bate beating fellow British Strong Style member and PROGRESS Champion to become the first ever WWE United Kingdom Champion.
PROGRESS have then gone on to celebrating their 5th birthday and delivering four more sold out Chapters featuring great matches, storytelling and surprises. With Matt Riddle being the current PROGRESS Atlas champion, Riddles has helped to further the PROGRESS brand by wearing and defending the championship all over the world. PROGRESS started to produce new content for PROGRESS on-demand service called ‘Freedom’s Road’, and had Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, Pete Dunne & Mark Andrews all compete on the WWE Network on NXT TV Tapings. It is safe to say in just three months it has been a hell of a year so far for all involved with PROGRESS.
I’ve got a few personal favourite highlights that have come from PROGRESS’s shows in 2017, Chapters 42-46. One of them being the implosion of the Origin (Nathan Cruz, Zack Gibson, El Ligero & Dave Mastiff). From being the biggest heels in the company, Ligero & Mastiff became huge fan favourites known as Origin Banter Edition which didn’t sit well with the more serious members, Cruz & Gibson. Having Mastiff turn face at Chapter 43 by giving Cruz & Gibson the thumbs down which led to them double teaming Mastiff to eliminate him from the Thunderbastard match, Ligero would then not take his match with Nathan Cruz at Chapter 44 seriously. By mocking Cruz and eventually giving him the thumbs down, this match established El Ligero’s face turn as he got the win over Nathan Cruz, only for Cruz to attack Ligero and pull of his mask. At Chapter 45, Zack Gibson faced a ‘drunken’ El Ligero who wouldn’t take his match with Gibson seriously which led to Gibson getting the win due to the distraction of Cruz. All things came to an end at PROGRESS 5th birthday celebrations at Chapter 46 as it was the Origin (Cruz & Gibson) vs the Origin Banter Edition (Ligero & Mastiff) with Cruz & Gibson getting the win over Banter Edition.
Other highlights would be the surprise return of Mark Haskins & Flash Morgan Webster who had been out injured for some time to save Jimmy Havoc from British Strong Style at Chapter 43. This led to the main event of chapter 44 as Havoc, Haskins & Webster would face BSS with the added stipulation if either Havoc, Haskins or Webster score a pin or submission on any member of BSS, they’ll earn a title opportunity. But, if any those three get pinned or submit, they’ll be barred from any further title matches for 6 months with the result of Jimmy Havoc pinning Pete Dunne and therefore would get a shot for the PROGRESS Championship at Chapter 45, in a deathmatch. The deathmatch was a brilliant match in Manchester, not knowing which way the match would go. However due to interference from Will Ospreay, Dunne managed to get the win and successfully defend his Championship.
This led to one of the more shocking moments in 2017 for PROGRESS at their 5th birthday celebration, Chapter 46: I Like To Chill Out Here And Shoot Some Dinosaurs. Due to the fallout of Chapter 45 and Will Ospreay costing Jimmy Havoc the chance to become a two time PROGRESS Champion, Ospreay and Havoc faced at Chapter 46 in a fans bring weapons match which had an added stipulation during the show that the loser leaves PROGRESS which they both agreed and ultimately end Ospreay vs Havoc in PROGRESS. With three barbwire Acid Rainmakers, Jimmy Havoc gets the win and ends Will Ospreay’s career in PROGRESS.
There has been so much more that has happened in PROGRESS in the first 3 months on 2017 and I would advise any fan of wrestling to sign up to their on-demand service for only $7.49/mo (cheap plug) and check out all of their 5 year history. With all what has happened 2017 is far from over, especially for PROGRESS who keep on getting better which brings me to Wrestlemania weekend, Orlando! PROGRESS are about to make their American debut as part of the WWN Live Experience which will not only see an all PROGRESS show on Friday but on Saturday at the WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising, there will be four PROGRESS vs EVOLVE matches.
PROGRESS will not only be making history for themselves by debuting in America, more history will be made as at 7pm 03/28/17 PROGRESS made the following announcement that due to action of British Strong Style and their involvement in the PROGRESS Championship match between Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews, NXT general manager William Regal has informed that due to Tyler Bate being the WWE United Kingdom Champion and therefore represents the WWE brand regardless of what company he is wrestling for, his match at PROGRESS Orlando against Mark Andrews will be for the WWE United Kingdom Championship, making this the first time a WWE Championship will be defended in PROGRESS and the winner of this match will go on to representing the WWE United Kingdom Championship throughout Wrestlemania weekend.
The card for PROGRESS on Friday 31st is the following; Rockstar Spud vs James Drake, Jimmy Havoc vs Zack Sabre Jr, 2/3 of the Natural Progression Series will clash as Jinny will face Toni Storm, Shane Strickland & Sami Callihan vs South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper & Travis Banks W/Dahlia Black), PROGRESS Atlas Champion Matt Riddle will defend his title against Trent Seven, as mentioned earlier, Tyler Bate will be defending the WWE United Kingdom Championship against Mark Andrews and the main event will be for the PROGRESS Championship as Champion Pete Dunne will defend against Mark Haskins. At the WWN Supershow, the four PROGESS vs EVOLVE matches are the following; Mark Haskins vs Zack Sabre Jr (for the EVOLVE Title is Sabre Jr retains at EVOLVE 80), Pete Dunne vs ACH (for the EVOLVE Title if ACH wins at EVOLVE 80), Jimmy Havoc vs Ethan Page and SPPT (TK Cooper & Travis Banks W/Dahlia Black) vs Chris Dickinson & Jaka. The PROGRESS Atlas Champion and member of the EVOLVE roster Matt Riddle will also be competing in the 6 way elimination match against Drew Galloway, Fred Yehi, Jon Davis, Parrow & Tracy Williams to crown the first ever WWN Champion.
Recently WWE had announced that during Wrestlemania Weekend for the first time ever, not only will NXT Superstars will compete at WWE Axxess but Superstars from 205 Live, WWE United Kingdom Championship, PROGRESS and ICW will also be competing. This continues the huge success for PROGRESS during 2017 as the Superstars advertised from PROGRESS is current WWE UK Champion Tyler Bate, PROGRESS Champion Pete Dunne, Trent Seven, Mark Andrews, Jimmy Havoc, TK Cooper, Travis Banks, Dahlia Black, Toni Storm & Jinny. These are the matches involving PROGRESS that has been announced so far for the six WWE Axxess events; Tyler Bate vs Mark Haskins (WWE UK Championship Match), Pete Dunne vs Mark Andrews, Pete Dunne vs Wolfgang, Tyler Bate vs Joseph Conners (WWE UK Championship Match), Trent Seven vs Noam Dar, Trent Seven vs Wolfgang and Tyler Bate vs Pete Dunne (WWE UK Championship Match).
It is exciting times for British Wrestling and if PROGRESS continue the success they’ve already achieved then 2017 will truly be the year of PROGRESS not only in British Wrestling, but wrestling period and I for one can’t wait to see what’s in store for them.
Thanks for reading, feel free to share your thoughts and give feedback on twitter @kurtjohansson93
If you are in Orlando and wanting to be a part of the WWN Live Experience and watch PROGRESS and/or WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising you can get tickets now at: www.morethanmania.com
To watch all things PROGRESS the subscibe to PROGRESS on-demand at: https://demandprogress.pivotshare.com
You can watch the PROGRESS show in Orlando live on ippv & on-demand at: http://wwnlive.com/product/progress-wrestling-presents-progress-orlando-ippv-live-viewing-video-demand/
You can watch the WWN Supershow live on FloSlam at: www.floslam.tv