In the centre of Manchester, every couple of months, a wrestling revolution takes place, as PROGRESS Wrestling takes over The Ritz. The beer is flowing freely and the floor is shaking, the large and boisterous crowd is starting to rumble in anticipation, the rally cry “THIS IS PROGRESS!” echo’s throughout the overcast epicentre of the venue. Church bells are heard, leading into a heavy guitar riff, as PROGRESS owner Jim Smallman enters the ring that is now engulfed in strobe lighting. You are officially welcomed to the PROGRESS thunderdome for an afternoon of the best wrestling the United Kingdom has to offer.
PROGRESS (founded in 2011, first show in 2012 by Jim Smallman & Jon Briley, Glen Joseph would then join soon after, in North London) is a company at the centre of a rejuvenation and renaissance period of UK professional wrestling. Not since the World of Sport days in the mid-60s to mid-80s has there been a more exciting time to be a wrestling fan in the United Kingdom. Companies like PROGRESS, RPW and PCW et al are promoting strong rosters of talent that can be put up in against any other country in the world for star power, characters and match quality.
The professional wrestling world is growing smaller, but by virtue expanding wider in cross promotion potential. PROGRESS, which started from humble beginnings in London, only recently hosted try out matches for the wrestling company WWE, for its highly anticipated Cruiserweight Classic. A tournament pitting the world’s best of any style up to 205lbs. Furthermore the company shall soon have its second holiday abroad to Canada for a couple of nights to go against popular promotion SMASH, which I am sure will be a clash worth being excited about. Through all these extraordinary partnerships and PROGRESSION for the company, there is but one move that they have done that has secured its place in the hearts of independent wrestling fans in the UK. This being starting to run in the north, specifically Manchester, last December. Whether in the north or south of England, the beacon had been lit, and everyone was going to know about PROGRESS.
PROGRESS rampaged into the North all guns blazing this past December 6th for Chapter 24: HIT THE NORTH, hosting a card that highlighted and showcased the endless amount of talent the UK and PROGRESS has to offer to the wrestling world. The show was electric from start to finish, proving that PROGRESS is here to stay, whether that would be at their home in the Electric Ballroom or at it’s now second home of The Ritz in Manchester.
One match stood out above the rest and was a true British wrestling classic. A talent that is an embodiment of the aforementioned World of Sport era, boasting an arsenal of submissions and strikes dedicated to and is a loveletter to such a time. One of the, if not THE best technical wrestler in the world, Zack Sabre Jr. He was pitted for the second time against Psycho Killer Tommaso Ciampa, a talent with boundless potential, an endless list of amazing matches and extreme popularity no matter where in the world he lays his hat. The room shook with every strike, the audience gasped at every gruesome submission and the atmosphere was out of this world. Despite only taking place weeks before the votes were collected, the match was placed firmly at the number two spot of the Top Ten PROGRESS Matches of 2015. Their third encounter and rubber match takes place this September, at an event which will be a cornerstone show for the company, their biggest show in history at Brixton O2 Academy.
PROGRESS has gone on to host two more shows in Manchester since that fateful Sunday afternoon of Chapter 24, and I have had the pleasure and honour of also being at both of them (front row). Every time PROGRESS has travelled to Manchester the card has been filled with have astounding, Match of the Year Candidate, bouts. From: Flash Morgan Webster vs Mark Haskins at Chapter 28, to the No Disqualification war FSU vs The Origin also at Chapter 28, the Mixed tag match Flash Morgan Webster and Pollyanna vs TK Cooper and Dahlia Black at Chapter 26, the hard hitting PROGRESS Title match of Chapter 26 in Marty Scurll © vs Mark Haskins, and the action packed Hit The North (Chapter 24) main event for the PROGRESS Championship in Flash Morgan Webster vs Will Ospreay © vs Zack Gibson. The list goes on and on.
PROGRESS has prided itself on its crowd interaction and customer service, whether that be on Twitter or at live events. Jim, Glenn and Jon seem to be the most genuine and approachable owners of such a thriving company that has so many eyes fixated upon it. Everything that can be expected of a company with the motto of “DON’T BE A DICK”. The respect, kindness and benevolence shown at every show from the promoters, security, bar, door staff is something that ranks just as highly for me as the in ring action. The unconditional relationship between PROGRESS and its fans is something unmatched by any promotion from around the world. YOU are as much in the show as they are, and they will repay you will that performance through the best wrestling the UK has to offer. The line is toed exceptionally well, having the best and most drunken time of your life, while watching the best wrestling around, as long as you follow the one company motto.
Super Strong Style 16 2016 has recently been written into the history books, and us PROGRESS Ultras march towards the fourth show at The Ritz, Chapter 31 the aptly named All Hail The New Puritans. A Villain will look to defend his throne against the next challenger. Come Sunday 19th June Chris Hero will ENDVR to add another emblem to his long wielded shield, as he debuts for the company in Manchester. Facing The Caitiff Crossface ChickenWing Master, Marty Scurll, for the treasured title. Even if Scurll was to banish The Knight of Knockouts from his throne, an Anti Hero and a Pastor await to challenge the PROGRESS King.
Us Yorkshire blokes are easy to please; with a beer in hand, a welcoming atmosphere and the best wrestling showcase in the United Kindgom, PROGRESS always delivers. If there is anything Game of Thrones has taught me, it’s that the North (*cough* Yorkshire) always remembers, and you always pay your debts (….also don’t get too attached to your favourite character as they will die a horrible death)!
WE certainly won’t forget the favour of bringing PROGRESS to the North, and WE certainly intend to repay that debt!
Join me @99_LanceBallons at ringside on Sunday 19th June representing The Indy Corner bringing you up to date live coverage from all the action at,
PROGRESS CHAPTER 31: ALL HAIL THE NEW PURITANS
Past PROGRESS Manchester shows reference.
All available on DEMAND PROGRESSS 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