Return Of The Kings
It was the afternoon of Sunday 6th December 2015, a Technical Wizard stood poised at the corner of the ring, opposite a praying Tommaso Ciampa. The room stood in anticipation and awe of the striking contest that was taking place. Seconds later Sabre sprinted to the other side of the ring and hit with a punishing Penalty Kick into Psycho Killers chest, which echoed throughout the streets of Manchester.
An hour later: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nah mate, its Will Ospreay flying through the air with the greatest of ease. The height was mesmerising, with Will floating on top and around the prestigious ring. During the main event Ospreay soared across the packed Ritz as the crowd was in shock and amazement over the action packed final match of this signature show.
That was the last time these two British wrestling titans stood in the PROGRESS ring at a Manchester show until….THIS SUNDAY. The two men excel in their chosen fields of professional wrestling. ZSJ being a living embodiment of two of the most respected, admired and oldest versions of traditional professional wrestling. With vicious puroresu striking, perfected during his years spent in Pro Wrestling NOAH. United with British hold for hold mat wrestling, taking inspiration from Jim Breaks and other stars from the World of Sport era. Thanks to this fusion of styles, presented within Zack’s natural charisma and presence, he has come to be known as the leader of the modern British/UK Pro Wrestling movement.
He will be facing the ultimate clash in his style in the Arial Assassin, The Sky Soaring Shit Talker and The Man That Gravity Never Knew. Will Ospreay is arguably the hottest prospect, not only in the thriving UK scene but in the entire pro ‘rasslin scene. With his revolutionary offense, out of this world high flying and creative strikes he is on another level for which he has become untouchable. If Will Ospreay is booked on your card, you’re guaranteed a hell of a show and a match that will have the entire crowd buzzing for weeks.
This is far from the first time these British Wrestling demigods have faced each other. Having had a blazing contest earlier this year during Wrestlemania weekend at EVOLVE 58, which may rightly have a place at the higher end of many fans Match of the Year candidates, once 2016 is all said and done. Matches in both Preston City Wrestling , Westside Xtreme Wrestling and Revolution Pro Wrestling also unsurprisingly received ecstatic reviews. This isn’t their first contest together in PROGRESS either, although the first was under very very different circumstances.
At the inaugural Super Strong Style 16 last year the Technical Wizard and the Arial Assassin had an epic contest to crown the first SSS16 tournament winner. Despite both having competed in two matches earlier that night (Ospreay defeating: El Ligero in the first round, Mark Haskins in the quarter finals and Roderick Strong in the semi-finals. ZSJ defeating: Zack Gibson in the first round, Tomasso Ciampa in the quarter finals and Marty Scurll in the semi finals), they went out and left it all out on the canvas from start to finish. With Ospreay coming out on the winning end of an utter war, in which he bounced around the ring like an unrelenting pinball under his own high flying prowess, or Zack’s prevailing strikes. This was his penultimate PROGRESS match before Will would go on to defeat Jimmy Havoc at Chapter 20: Beyond THUNDERBASTARD, which is considered by many to be UK wrestling classic (voted Number 1 in the Top 10 PROGRESS matches of 2015). At Chapter 20 the wrestling world’s eyes were fixated on Will Ospreay. From that point forward he was established as the future of professional wrestling, and that snowball effect can be pinpointed to starting at his defeat of the Exceptional Essex Grappler Zack Sabre Jr.
At Chapter 34: Keep it Unreal when both men return to the Northern home of PROGRESS, they meet under very different circumstances, as very different competitors. Ospreay returned to the promotion at Chapter 33, after winning Japan’s momentous twenty third annual Best of the Super Juniors. He fought a losing battle against Mark Haskins and is looking to get a much needed victory here against one of the (if not the) very best technical and chain wrestler on planet earth, as we come closer to the biggest show in company history at Chapter 36. Zack Sabre Jr, current PWG Champion and CWC competitor (and favourite of many to win) is well on the way to taking over the wrestling world, but he needs any and all momentum heading into Chapter 36 as he goes to war one last time in the third and final rubber match against the Psycho Killer Tomasso Ciampa. This is a MUST WIN for these two PROGRESS Icons, expect for these two to tear the house down, build it back up again, only to tear it down once more. I for one can’t wait to see these two collide once again.
In a gigantic tag match there will be a clash of two of the hottest feuds and developing stories going in PROGRESS today, Laura Di Matteo intensely personal feud with Jinny, and Mark Haskins quest for his first PROGRESS Championship. At PROGRESS Chapter 34 Jinny teams The Villain, while Matteo teams with Underrated Underdog. Haskins has his sights firmly set on his title shot at the biggest PROGRESS show of all time that he earned from defeating Will Ospreay at Malice in Wonderland. Whether the champion that will be immersed in the bright lights O2 Academy Brixton is Marty Scurll or White Lighting Mark Andrews after their championship collision at Chapter 35: Writing Nirvana on other people’s bags is yet to be seen, but Haskins is looking to make a strong case for why he is deserving of the place on top of the Chapter 36 in this star studded tag affair. Jinny and Laura continue a bitter rivalry is certainly setting PROGRESS a light and is proving that the PROGRESS Woman’s division is one of the strongest in the world. As this bitter rivalry between these two women continues, expect there to be more fireworks as we head towards the next chapter in this story on Sunday.
TOMMY TOMMY. TOMMY FUCKING END: a resonating chant heard in arenas and venues across the world. Never more so than in 2016, in which End has fiercely battled his way to the top of singles competition in PROGRESS. This year’s Super Strong Style 16 winner is looking for redemption against his arch-rival and the PROGRESS Champion, after two unsuccessful shots at the prestigious World Championship. The Anti Hero is desperately striving for another match against The Villain after he was unceremoniously screwed out of both of his title matches against him. However, the only way he can get to Scurll, is by defeating an opponent of Scurll’s choosing, in a Pick Your Poison match. Who will answer the villains call and look to put a stop to Tommy’s absolution? Many have speculated the likes of Mikey Whiplash, Rampage Brown, Liverpool’s No.1 Zack Gibson, Pastor William Eaver, The Knockout Artist Chris Hero, the former Dark Prince of PROGRESS Jimmy Havoc or Sloth from the Goonies. One thing is for sure you won’t want to miss out on seeing who answers the ruthless champions call.
Two of the most prolific and talented men on the PROGRESS are going head to head as the Extraordinary Gentleman takes on the Origins own El Ligero. With Ligero recently returning to singles competition in a losing effort against Mark Andrews in London at Chapter 33, he will be looking to get the all-important win here. Gallagher recently left the entire wrestling world in awe after defeating Fabian Aichner with his good ol’ fashioned British grappling, advancing into the second round of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. He will hope to continue the hot streak in his home promotion, in his home town. Both men are stand out talents and are more than capable of stealing the show, expect for this one to be a corker and for both wrestlers to lay claim to possible PROGRESS World Title shots in the near future.
In the second title match of the night, The London Riots take on War Machine for the PROGRESS Tag Team Chapionship…in a Tornado Tag Match. This match is going to be an all-out mêlée, for the right to be called the best team in PROGRESS. Now with the added stipulation of tornado rules, War Machine look for redemption in their second title shot. I doubt the ring or even the busy streets of Manchester will be able to contain these four men, and I can’t wait.
The exceptional Atlas Tournament is starting to reach its crescendo. With the semi-finals imminent all competitors’ positions within the groups are more important than ever. With wins and losses affecting not only the 4 men involved in the tournament matches at Manchester, but the entire A and B brackets, expect hard hitting #BigLads action as we get closer and closer to finding out who will be the very first PROGRESS Atlas Champion. This Sunday will see Dave Mastiff vs Iestyn Rees in Group A action, and Joe Coffey vs Michael Dante for Group B.
Last, but certainly not least, we have what looks to be the most entertaining and action packed six man tag match in the history of PROGRESS. The South Pacific Power Trip (comprised of Dahlia Black, TK Cooper and Travis Banks) faces the alliance of Jack Sexsmith, Bodyguy Roy Johnson and Pollyanna. Tomfoolery, antics and action aplenty to be expected in this one.
This will be the fifth visit for the company in Manchester and with PROGRESS quickly becoming the worldwide phenomenon (that it rightly deserves to be) there is no better time to experience the product live. This is undoubtedly the most stacked Manchester show since Hit the North. Although the show is SOLD OUT, returns are posted on the company’s twickits and I implore any wrestling fan with a free Sunday to try and obtain one. With the return of three of the world’s hottest talents in independent wrestling today this truly is a can’t miss event and a remarkable card on the rocky road to PROGRESS CHAPTER 36: WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER ROOM…AGAIN.
On Saturday see gif highlights @99_LanceBallons of Zack Sabre Jr and Will Ospreays Super Strong Style 16 2015 Tournament Final match. I shall be ringside Sunday 14th August representing The Indy Corner bringing you up to date live coverage from all the action at,
PROGRESS CHAPTER 34: KEEP IT UNREAL
Past PROGRESS Manchester shows reference.
All available on DEMAND PROGRESS or through limited and collector’s edition DVDs:
CHAPTER 24: HIT THE NORTH! Sunday 6th December 2015
CHAPTER 26: UNKNOWN PLEASURES Sunday 14th February 2016
CHAPTER 28: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE LET ME GET WHAT I WANT Sunday 10th April 2016
CHAPTER 31: ALL HAIL THE NEW PURITANS Sunday 19th June 2016