Main image by Rob Brazier
Here’s five things you need to know about British wrestling this week:
1) Will Ospreay is GONE from PROGRESS
Putting aside all gossip circulating about PROGRESS Wrestling’s involvement with WWE, the possibility of a show on the WWE Network, and what that might mean for talent contracted to other US organizations, the shocking conclusion of the first half of last Sunday’s I Like to Chill Out Here and Shoot Some Dinosaurs, at the Electric Ballroom in Camden came completely out of the blue.
Already involved in a “This. Must. End.” match with his eternal nemesis Jimmy Havoc — a fans bring the weapons match, no less — Ospreay upped the ante by insisting on it being a loser leaves PROGRESS match to boot, and when the three-count fell — at the climax of an engrossing, hard-hitting bout — it was Havoc who took the winner’s purse and will continue his career in PROGRESS.
Ospreay arrives for his match — photo by Jon Loton
Though the contract situation may have rushed the ending of the story, the Ospreay-Havoc feud built the company, and it was a fitting way to end this chapter. Very much staying around, though, is PROGRESS Heavyweight Champion Pete Dunne, who survived a scare to beat fellow WWE UK competitor Mark Andrews in the second half main event.
Andrews — and the majority of the 700-strong crowd — thought he’d won the title only for referee Chris Roberts to rule that Dunne’s foot had been under the rope during the pinfall and that the match should be restarted, with Dunne finishing stronger and retaining his belt.
Matt Riddle (whose contract status is also odd, to say the least) outlasted WALTER (ditto) in a heavy metal Atlas Division title match, and while the landscape is still very much shifting, the players and promotions involved are putting on top notch entertainment.
This was also true in the PROGRESS Tag Team titles match, where British Strong Style overcame the Hunter Brothers in a super contest.
The Women’s Natural Progression Series, to crown the first Women’s Champion, moved a step closer to its conclusion with the second (of three) semifinals, as Toni Storm beat Dahlia Black. Unfortunately, Black suffered a broken leg during the match — her last before a mandatory trip back home to New Zealand — and we hope she has a quick recovery.
In other news from the show, Nathan Cruz & Zack Gibson beat El Ligero & Dave Mastiff in the battle of The Origin, new favorite Travis Banks defeated Jack Sexsmith, and Mark Haskins submitted Axel Dieter Jr.
The show will be available on Demand PROGRESS when the team have returned from Orlando, and their show there will be shown live on iPPV on Friday, headlined by Dunne against Haskins.
2) It was Total Chaos as Webster faced Boar
For their once-a-year mystery show, Total Chaos, Pro Wrestling Chaos opened the doors of the Hanham Community Centre in Bristol offering nothing but a promise that the card they had put together would be worth the ticket price.
When the dust had settled, there were few — if any — in the crowd who would have disagreed, having seen two King of Chaos Championship matches and a surprise return.
With all matches picked by the “Chaos Generator,” the pairings it threw together were sometimes surprising. Never more so than when both members of Project Lucha and the two Steele Dragons were selected for a tag team match, with one of each tag team paired with their usual opponent!
Eddie Dennis & El Ligero’s impromptu pairing overcame the ad hoc team of Martin Kirby & Alex Steele, but the surprises were by no means over.
Pete Dunne in full flight — photo by Turning Face’s Jim Maitland
The night was scheduled to end with a King of Chaos Championship match, with champion “Flash” Morgan Webster already pre-selected for the bout. The Chaos Generator picked out his Modern Culture stablemate Danny Jones as his opponent, and Jones duly laid down for his more senior colleague and accepted the loss. At this point, Wild Boar — who had earlier beaten the other member of Modern Culture, Edwin Ricci — appeared on the stage and demanded a title match.
Webster agreed, but with two conditions: that it would be a no disqualification match, and that if Boar lost he would forfeit all championship opportunities for one year. Boar acquiesced and will have to suffer the consequences after losing, with Modern Culture interfering liberally throughout.
The big surprise return came in the form of Pete Dunne, who since the WWE UK Championship tournament has become a genuine draw in his own right, and he took on — and beat — serious opposition in the form of Big Grizzly.
There were also wins for Eddie Ryan, Jeckel, and Mike Bird, and you can see all the Chaos action on UKWrestlingOnDemand. The promotion return on April 29th with Joey Ryan and Tommy Dreamer.
3) World of Sport will return later this year — with Jeff Jarrett in control
Although he is steeped in wrestling tradition, born into Tennessee graps royalty, Jeff Jarrett would not have been the first name you’d have reached for when looking to find the new messiah of British TV wrestling.
The last few months, however, have seen Jarrett go from forlornly pitching ideas for his Global Force Wrestling around to anyone who would listen (quick answer, no one) to being back in control of what some people still think of as the number two promotion in the US, the former TNA. Now renamed Impact Wrestling, and under the auspices of Anthem Entertainment, Jarrett once more wields considerable power and influence in the wrestling world, and has used it to strongarm into the blooming UK market.
The press conference turned ugly
After a reasonably-successful pilot last year, ITV has given the greenlight for a full series — ten episodes — of the World of Sport rebrand, to be produced in association with Jarrett, Jeremy Borash, and their Impact Wrestling compadres. Not only that, but the intention is to create a fully-functioning promotion, with touring shows a big part of the operation, to be a UK arm of the global (no pun intended) empire that Jarrett is building.
WOS — and they were at pains to use those letters rather than the full name — will join not only Impact but also Mexico’s The Crash and AAA, and Japan’s Pro Wrestling NOAH in this endeavor.
The roster will contain many of the stars of the pilot, with WOS Champion Grado front and center for the press conference that launched the project last Monday, and will be enhanced with former TNA Heavyweight Champion — and US-domiciled Brit — Nick Aldis. Those who sign to take part in the show will not be prevented from wrestling for other promotions, except those with (an undefined) “TV show.”
Dave Meltzer seemed to be of the mind that this would preclude WOS talent from appearing on PROGRESS and ICW shows, although there is no confirmation as yet. The shows will be taped over two days at Preston’s Guild Hall on May 27th and 28th, and the show will begin airing in the 5 p.m. slot on ITV — the UK’s second biggest channel — in July.
4) Dunne and Gradwell tore the roof off the Rose Club
Underlining his status as a modern indie draw, a slightly bigger-than-usual (but, more importantly, less family-oriented than usual) crowd packed into the Rose Club in Hindley last Friday for Pete Dunne’s return to Grand Pro Wrestling.
The main event of the show — titled Northern Soul II in honor of the Rose Club’s former incarnation as the Monaco Ballroom, a hotbed of the northern soul scene in the 1970s — saw Dunne face the man whose face he stepped on to make his name at the WWE UK Championship tournament, Sam Gradwell.
Gradwell came out on top after a brawl all around the club’s environs — including up on the balcony, where Dunne posed, smiling that evil smile — and it was a fitting end to another top notch show on the outskirts of Wigan.
Pete Dunne laying it into Sam Gradwell — photo by Tony Knox
The show began with man-mountain Cyanide in a bad mood, dispatching Matthew Brooks, and his work wasn’t done for the night because he re-emerged later during the Grand-Pro British Championship match to interfere on behalf of champion Jimmy Jackson and force a disqualification win — which did not come with the title belt — for Joey Hayes.
As well as a successful defense of the Grand-Pro Tag Team titles by The Island Brothers against Tyson T-Bone & Craig Kollins, a tournament began to find the first Grand-Pro Women’s Champion, with Natalie Wild beating Lucy Sky in the first match of the series. Also on the show, Martin Kirby beat the Sheikh’s second investment, Don Meacho, and the trio of Bubblegum & The Midnight Bin Collection defeated Big Joe & The Bad Lads.
Grand-Pro return on May 12th, with A Night to Remember, the annual Dom Travis memorial show.
5) Galloway and Coffey qualify for the Pro Wrestling World Cup finals (and other stuff)
Continuing the qualifying series for August’s Pro Wrestling World Cup finals, What Culture Pro Wrestling pitched up in Scotland, at the Motherwell Concert Hall last Thursday, and while one of the favorites fell at the first hurdle, two familiar names made it through to the next stage.
There were opening round wins for Kenny Williams (over WCPW title number one contender Joe Hendry), Joe Coffey, BT Gunn, and Drew Galloway, and when the dust had settled it was Coffey and Galloway who will fly the Saltire in Newcastle in late summer.
The show, held in conjunction with the Scottish Wrestling Association, also had non-tournament action as Grado beat El Ligero, Martin Kirby defeated Travis Banks (adding Scotland to the list of countries he’s competed in), and Marty Scurll won a three-way over Matt Riddle and Will Ospreay. WCPW are another UK promotion in action in Orlando this weekend, with State of Emergency on Saturday afternoon.
While the Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based WCPW were up in Scotland, another of the city’s promotions — NORTH Wrestling — hosted their fourth show, We’re All Going Straight to Hell, at the city’s Riverside venue last Saturday.
The show was main-evented by a no disqualification match between the Sons of Ulaid, an Irish team making an impact in the north east of England, and Liam Slater & Dom Black, won by the Irishmen. That wasn’t the only stipulation match on offer, as Martina the Session Moth beat Danny O’Doherty in a “Cans on a Pole” match, whereby Martina’s favorite beers were hung above the ring. Martina, naturally, won the match.
The show also featured wins for Ruby Summers (over Little Miss Roxxy, by disqualification), Screwface, Erin Jacobs, and for Travis Banks against Mark Haskins. NORTH have yet to announce a return date, but their past shows can be seen for free on YouTube.
In brief news from other shows last Saturday, Brad Slayer won the Bill Barnard Trophy at the Reloaded Championship Wrestling Alliance’s show in Rainham, beating Ash Draven in the final. Kelly Sixx successfully defended his Elite-1 title against Earl Black Jr. on the same show.
Across in Gloucester, Lana Austin became the new Pro-Evolution Wrestling Women’s Champion with a win over Lady Katherine Darcy, with two other titles also changing hands at the GL1 Leisure Centre as Kidd Candy captured the Middleweight title and The Heritage City Hitmen upset The Fever to win the tag belts.
Last for Saturday, not far from my birthplace in Stechford, Birmingham, Kamikaze Pro Wrestling held their yearly rumble show, Over the Top, with WWE UK talent — and Kamikaze Relentless Division Champion — Dan Moloney outlasting the rest to take the honors. It was a double success for Moloney, as he’d already successfully defended his title, against Joel Redman. There were also wins for HC Dyer, Damian Dunne, and Robbie X.