A Man Must Have A Code – Omar Little, The Wire
Wrestling is built on a mutual and unconditional respect and love, as an art form and tradition, between wrestlers, promoters, agents and fans. It comes full circle, it is an unwritten code. The stories and characters that are presented transcend into any language or time. PROGRESS understands this and it is key to them being as successful as they are, they put their heart and soul into the product by virtue of the love and respect they have for the sport, drama and art.
Nevertheless, unlike PROGRESS in the past there was a bit of a bumpy start. Jim entered the ring for his opening ceremonial speech later than the intended start at 3.00pm around 3.20pm, and there was a lot of confusion over front row seat availability which myself and friends were a part of. Jim and the gang of ring crew and staff were doing everything in their power to rectify this situation. As a customer you were given the respect that has come to be expected from the company, which I, as a loyal fan and follower, appreciate, as one can only imagine how much planning goes into these shows and how much the three owners must deal with in doing so. However, these hurdles FAR from dampened the spirits of the capacity Ritz crowd, and we were all as lively as ever once the action got underway.
The seven match card featured the very best our country and PROGRESS has to offer. The Atlas Tag Match at the start of the show was a great exhibition of all the big lads involved. Coffey, Damo, Brown and Whiplash all proving to be worthy talents as they have done in the past. Damon “Tommy End starter kit” Moser and Zack Gibson put on a hell of a show in a high stakes match. Both men showcasing that they have the building blocks needed to become the major players in the future. The women on the show made a statement, like many other countries around the world, the PROGRESS woman’s division is out to prove a point that they are just as talented as the males and damn well deserving of our attention (with PROGRESS introducing their very own Woman’s Championship in the near future being exhibit A of that fact). Both Pollyanna and Dahlia Black put on a barnburner of a performance on that rainy day in Manchester, deserving of any wrestling fans respect and time for these two warriors.
After intermission, came the PROGRESS Tag Title match, an extremely fun exhibition that showed there is more than one side to the ruthless hardhitting tag champions The London Riots. With the penultimate match of the night being Pastor William Eaver and Mikey Whiplash perfectly embodying the shows motif of Good vs Evil and Heaven vs Hell (similar to the main event in Hero vs Villain). Not only can in ring action in the UK be put against any other country in the world, but it is also proving to have larger than life characters to accompany the stellar in ring wars.
PROGRESS does not take exception to how important tag team wrestling is, and this card was certainly clear on that point. The best tag team match on the card without a shadow of a doubt was FSU vs Dunne Brothers. It was promoted as a potentially show stealing match, and it certainly delivered on that promise. To me this was easily the second best match of the night, only to be outdone by the classic battle in the main event. All four men are known to have incredibly bright futures and this match was certainly a thesis statement of that fact. It was a frantic pace from start to finish, featuring planchas a plenty and immense striking. It was a spectacle of athletic ability and aesthetically pleasing (yet extremely deadly) manoeuvres that can only be witnessed in a squared circle. Specific highlights included the debut of the legendary Eddie Mysterio Jr joining in on the tope con hilo’s, and Mark Andrews performing a breath-taking moonsault plancha into a tornado ddt on the floor to Pete Dunne (which he usually performs in the centre of that ring effortlessly). The team of Eddie Dennis and Mark Andrews has always been popular, but it was their slobber knocker NODQ match with The Origin at CHAPTER 28 that secured them as the most popular group in the company for the live Northern fans. This match set out to secure that position in the fans minds and hearts, and they couldn’t have been more successful doing so. Once you have witnessed F.S.U live you will be stunned by the teams individual and collective talents, while their extremely catchy entrance theme PARTY HARD (by Andrew WK) is playing on repeat in your mind countless hours after the show has ended.
I can try to put into words just how phenomenal the main event of Chris Hero vs Marty Scurll was, but I fear that they will not do this match justice. I think in time it will come to be known as one of the best matches in company history, and by virtue of PROGRESS’ high standard, British wrestling history. If there is anything you need to know about Chris Hero, it is that he throws elbows and he sure as hell aint nothing to fuck with. This point proved clearly in this archetypal standard bearing wrestling clinic. For thirty minutes Scurll and Hero jousted vicious strikes, intense submissions and jaw dropping grapples. Fighting tooth and nail each man tore down his opponent in the coliseum of fans in awe and wonder of both gladiators. In my preview for the show I called Hero the Knight of Knockouts but on the afternoon Sunday 19th June he won the hearts of the Northern Ultras. Chris Hero is more than a Knight of Knockouts. He is the King and Demigod of Strong Style Striking, there is no denying he is the pivotal wrestler in the world right now.
Marty Scurll has proved that he is the future, arguably none more so than in this match. Hero professed after the match that Scurll is without a doubt one of the best he has ever stepped foot in the ring with. Coming from a man with a 18 year career and being as well travelled and experienced as he is this is a titanic compliment to give to The Villain. “Marty Scurll, Party Marty, The Villain, Asshole. But I will say without a shadow of a doubt he is one of the best I have ever stepped in the ring with”
On my preview article for the show I called Zack Sabre Jr vs Tomasso Ciampa II at Hit The North the best Manchester match the promotion has presented, a match that I truly loved both live and on DVD. Nonetheless, Chris Hero vs Marty Scurll might have dethroned that classic, in a match that yet again proved that the PROGRESSS World Heavyweight Championship is one of the most prized and valued pro wrestling World Championships in the universe today filled with countless promotions with top tier championships.
We have come to know in other promotions, like PWG, that Hero requests a microphone after the match and that was what happened here. “I wish you could feel what I feel in this ring, I wish you could feel 1% of how you make me feel when I am in here. No matter how much pain I am in, without fail you always give me energy” Heroes passion and intensity was evident in his speech. A true compliment to Jim, Jon and Glenn of how highly he spoke of the three shows he has taken part in since coming to PROGRESS. If the Northern Ultras were to have him back, we would welcome the versatile veteran back with open arms. “If you want me back, you have my fucking word that I will be back in Progress wrestling”
His speech felt like a true loveletter to the second golden age of English wrestling that we are all currently taking part in, a stamp of quality from a worldwide pro that truly encompasses how good UK wrestling is presently.
Chapter 31 can now be seen on DEMAND PROGRESS in a variety of different packages from subscription to rent. The collectors edition DVD, which will be the next time I view the show (having the patience of a saint), will be shipping in a couple of months. With only twenty copies left in stock now would be the time to buy what is, in time, going to be known as one of the true British Wrestling classics in a majestically designed DVD case.
But it is only the beginning, as on Sunday 14th August they return to The Ritz, after two consecutive shows in London at the Electric Ballroom, for CHAPTER 34: KEEP IT UNREAL. Since the first show in Manchester: Hit The North, PROGRESS has been inundated with tweets and messages to bring back two of the most in demand talents in the world to Cottonopolis. ZACK SABRE JR and WILL OSPREAY will be returning come 14th August, and I am sure both will receive heroes welcomes from the PROGRESS devotees.
Furthermore after missing CHAPTER 31: ALL HAIL THE NEW PURITANS, TOMMY (FUCKING) END will also make his first appearance in Manchester for the company since CHAPTER 28: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET ME GET WHAT I WANT. You can’t say PROGRESS and its owners don’t listen to its followers. Front row sold out in the first minute, and I am one of those fortunate few to be able to have one of those tickets. With only forty standing tickets left on public sale NOW is the time to purchase before they undoubtedly sell out. This will be an unmissable show, even by PROGRESS’ high standards. Do yourself a favour and BE THERE to witness a promotion that respects and loves its devotee’s as much as they do the art of professional wrestling.