Main photo from PROGRESS Wrestling
Here’s 5 things you need to know about British wrestling this week:
1) PROGRESS Please Please Pleased Their Northern Fans.
With one great show and one perfectly-fine-but-not-all-that-great show in the record books from their Manchester run so far, Sunday’s return to the northern powerhouse’s O2 Ritz could have gone either way. As it was, Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want (named for a song by The Smiths), was a barnstormer of a show, with some describing it as the best PROGRESS show in some time.
With Marty Scurll having overcome all of his obvious challengers at the last London show, he was given the night off in Manchester – kind of. Although Scurll didn’t have to defend the title, he did have to issue an open challenge, and that was answered by Tommy End!
End, who is a solo act from this point on in PROGRESS after the Sumerian Death Squad lost a match with the London Riots last month, established his title credentials from the off, and beat Scurll all around the room before earning a pinfall victory. As a result, Scurll will have to defend the title against End on April 24th at the Electric Ballroom. So much for a day off!
The show’s actual main event was a retread of the Origin vs FSU feud, and you could be forgiven for thinking it wasn’t exactly headline material. You’d have been wrong, though, because both teams went at it with aplomb, in a war which involved thumb tacks and steel chairs, and only ended when The Origin spike-piledrivered Mark Andrews onto a chair.
Earlier in the card, Damon Moser qualified for the Natural Progression Series final – against Pastor Bill Eaver, on April 24th – by beating Ashton Smith, T-Bone picked up a win in the Atlas Championship A Block over Big Daddy Walter, and the Jinny/Elizabeth situation took another turn when Elizabeth shoved Jinny into Toni Storm, leading to a piledriver which left the fashionista lying. The show – and all previous PROGRESS shows – will be available to watch soon on Demand PROGRESS.
2) Will Ospreay Kills It In Japan.
Flying into Japan a day early to acclimatise and do press, Will Ospreay looked every bit the title contender in a sharp-suit and sharper haircut, and although he didn’t manage to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title from KUSHIDA at New Japan’s Invasion Attack PPV, the showing he put on won him instant fans worldwide and a series of further bookings with the company, including being part of a Chaos team on the Wrestling Dontaku PPV on May 3rd, and the shows leading up to it, where he will team with genuine legend Kazushi Sakuraba.
This weekend, however, Ospreay faces fellow New Japan gaijin Michael Elgin at Revolution Pro-Wrestling’s Epic Encounter, at the Rivermead Leisure Centre in Reading. The card is stacked, and also features Ring of Honor’s Roderick Strong, ACH, Dalton Castle & Dononvan Dijak, and continues a run of big shows from RevPro featuring the big names from their affiliates in the US & Japan.
Another promotion announcing a big show is IPW:UK, who will present Biggest Show Ever in August, at the incredible Electric venue in Brixton (coincidentally the location of PROGRESS’s big show, a month later). They’ve promised all their titles will be defended and all their regulars will be in action, along with a select few overseas imports. It’s such an exciting time to be a fan of the professional wrestling in the UK right now!
3) Chaos Crowned Three Kings.
I’ve written positively about the Bristol wrestling scene at some length in this column, and one of the biggest shows the city has seen for a while took place last weekend, when Pro-Wrestling Chaos promoted Heir 2 The Throne at Action Indoor Sports on Saturday. The show was initially supposed to have featured the Young Bucks, but they were pulled from the show a month ago to defend the NEVER Six-Man titles at New Japan’s Invasion Attack show.
Their replacements – Jay Lethal & Drew Galloway – ensured that Chaos presented a truly unusual (and possibly unique) situation, by having both the Ring of Honor and Impact! world titles defended on the same show, as well as their own title.
Jay Lethal & Mark Andrews photo by Jim Maitland
As it was, both champions came out still clutching their gold, but both were pushed to the limit in bouts that will do nothing but good for the reputations of their challengers. Mark Andrews took on Lethal for the ROH title, and showed once again how much of an error TNA made by not featuring him more prominently on their TV. Their champion, Galloway, faced Eddie Dennis, who has been there or thereabouts for a few years now, and a performance like this will go far in him making that next step.
The King of Chaos championship came down to a bitter showdown between Wild Boar and his challenger Jeckel, with a wild brawl finally securing Boar’s grip on the title, all 650 fans rising to applaud both men afterwards. Also on the show, Jack Gallagher beat Johnny Kidd in a Mountevans Rules match, “Flash” Morgan Webster won a number one contenders’ Heir To The Throne ladder match (that he wasn’t even supposed to be in!), and el Ligero defeated Mike Bird in an arena-wide brawl which featured some crazy dives. The show will be available on DVD soon, and Chaos return to Yate on May 21st.
4) Border-Straddling Weekend Hits The Target.
After their last weekend double-shot, which saw insane Dutchman Michael Dante lift the heavyweight title, Target Wrestling returned with another double-shot last weekend, and crowned a number on-contender! The two shows, either side of the England-Scotland border, also featured some big names from overseas, as well as the usual Target roster.
In Carlisle, at The Venue on Friday night, Ring of Honor champion Jay Lethal put his title on the line against Target’s High Octane champion, Shady Natrass, in a winner-takes-all battle that could have seen the HO belt being defended on ROH shows. As it turned out, Natrass got himself disqualified, losing his shot at ROH gold but also preventing Lethal from taking his title. As well as fly-ins Juventud Guerrera & Eddie Kingston, the Carlisle show opened with a clash between Rampage Brown and Lionheart, and also featured Chris Renfrew, Martin Kirby, and the return to action of Medallion, which garnered a *huge* reaction from the Target fans as he came through the crowd to attack Havok & Karnage.
The next night, on the Scottish side of the border at Lockerbie Town Hall, Rampage Brown was in action again, overcoming High Octane champion Shady Natrass in a match to find a number one contender to Michael Dante’s title. Medallion once again made his presence felt when he appeared on stage and his distraction led to defeat for distracted Havok, Karnage & Ben Vicious during their 6-man match with Luke Ross, Ethan Berry & Sienna Black. The show also featured HT Drake & Lionheart, and Target return to Carlisle on May 14th with that Dante versus Brown title match, as well as Tommy End and former-ECW star The Blue Meanie.
5) There Were Big, Medium, and Little Shows.
Living up to the reputation of a touring, defending champion, Jay Lethal put his Ring of Honor title on the line for the third time in three days last Sunday, when he stepped out for Discovery Wrestling at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange. His opponent was Scottish top lad Joe Coffey, an ICW mainstay making big waves all over the UK of late. Lethal once again came out on top, ensuring that the ROH title travelled back to the US with him, but Coffey pushed him close and must be nearing the point where he’s on the list of those ready to make a breakout overseas soon.
The show featured Y Division action with an appearance by interim champion Lewis Girvan, defending his title against Aspen Faith, and a number one contenders’ match which saw Joe Hendry pencil in a shot at the champion on an upcoming show, as well as appearances by ICW Heavyweight champion Big Damo, ICW Women’s champion Sammi Jayne, and lucha libre legend Juventud Guerrera.
Despite sharing a name with a failed breakfast TV show, RISE (horribly reverse-acronymed as Radical Innovation of Sports Entertainment) successfully launched last year with a couple of low-key adults-only shows in Leeds, and returned for their first show of 2016 with Ascent at the Aria Suite in the city. While they used some of the regular Yorkshire crew, they also freshened things up by bringing in some London-based talent, and threw Pastor William Eaver, Rob Cage & Gene Munny straight into their RISE Championship tournament, alongside HT Drake, Jack Jester, and Jason Prime. Jester, however, was unable to compete, which saw Danny O’Doherty progress straight to the semi-finals, where he met Big Joe. Joe triumphed and secured the first final spot.
Jason Prime & Saxon Huxley photo from RISE’s Facebook page
On the other half of the draw, Jason Prime received a bye to the final after he beat Eaver and Saxon Huxley put Darious Lockhart on the injured list before their semi-final could take place. In the final, it was Prime, tipped for big things by this column’s northern correspondent, who lifted the title to become the first RISE champion.
Before Prime could celebrate, however, RISE commissioner Dr Leonardo Darwin made a Last Man Standing match between the champion and Saxon Huxley, which Prime survived, but only after the fight had spilled outside into the road. Also on the show, in a showcase match refereed by Lil Miss Roxxy, Nina Samuels beat Dragonita in a battle of the Empress Pro-Wrestling regulars. You can see clips from past RISE shows on their YouTube channel.
Only a week after a double-shot of shows in Huntingdon and Stevenage, Southside returned with another pair, this time on the same day, at the same venue, the Corporation in Sheffield. The early afternoon Day Of Reckoning 10 saw both members of the Southside Tag-Team champions lose in singles competition when Mark Haskins beat Damian Dunne and Chris Tyler beat Ryan Smile, and the Second City Collective’s misery was further compounded later in the evening, at Risky Business, when Stixx & Tyler beat them to earn a title shot down the line.
Newly-crowned Queen of Southside, Jade, saw off the challenges of Lana Austin and former champion Nixon Newell, while Southside Heavyweight champion Joseph Conners beat Eddie Kingston to retain his title.
In other news from the day’s action, which also featured Martin Kirby and Cedric Alexander, Pete Dunne picked up a couple of wins (against Kingston and Haskins), and the main event for the promotion’s next show was set when it was announced that el Ligero will face Conners for the title at Pandemonium in Nottingham on April 30th. Both shows should be available to watch soon on Southside’s Vimeo channel.