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PROGRESS Wrestling

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The company was conceived by Jim Smallman and Jon Briley in 2011, who were both massive wrestling fans. Smallman is a big fan of “strong-style” wrestling, Japanese in particular, and Briley was Smallman’s agent.  The pair decided to put on a wrestling show in London, as not many shows were being put on in the capital itself, featuring the type of wrestling that they would both like to watch. The pair then spent seven months putting their first show together. Smallman is also a huge fan of punk music, and the pair decided to emphasize the fact that it would be a London-based promotion with a punk rock vibe. They also were keen not to be import-heavy, like other promotions, but to promote British talent. The pair eventually settled on The Garage in Islington for the venue, because of the size and also having a great reputation as a music venue. The Garage were also very supportive of what Smallman and Briley wanted to do, and the pair ran their first show on 25 March 2012.

After eleven consecutive sell out shows at the Garage, with the later shows drawing 350 fans, the promotion moved to the 700-capacity Electric Ballroom in Camden from Chapter Twelve in March 2014 for their second anniversary show where the sell outs have continued. To date, Progress has sold out all London Chapter shows at The Garage and Electric Ballroom. For Chapter 36 in September 2016, Progress staged their largest ticketed show at the Brixton Academy, to an audience of 2,400 and announced that they would return the following September. Though they have run most of their shows in London, in 2014 Progress held three shows at The Satellite Stage at the Sonisphere Festival, and in 2015 they appeared for five nights at Download Festival. In December 2015, they began running regular shows at The Ritz in Manchester. In 2017, Progress will begin to promote shows in Birmingham.

The promotion have been reluctant to use imports (wrestlers for which the UK is not their home or one of their homes). Colt Cabana was the first wrestler to be included on a show as part of the debut show, Chapter One, in a losing effort to Loco Mike Mason. Ricochet has appeared twice for the promotion, losing to El Ligero at Chapter Six and in a triple threat with Mark Haskins and Zack Sabre Jr. at Chapter Eleven. Adam Cole was the first non-European wrestler to register a win in Progress, defeating Mark Haskins at Chapter Ten. Prince Devitt also appeared twice for the promotion, defeating Zack Sabre Jr. at Chapter Thirteen and losing to Jimmy Havoc at the Progress World Cup, his final match in the UK before signing with the WWE. Other talents that have appeared include Samoa Joe, Roderick Strong and Tommaso Ciampa; though Ciampa has established himself as a Progress regular with seven Chapter show appearances.

In 2016 the company began working with other promotions. At Chapter 29 on 24 April in London, Progress hosted two qualifying matches for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. In June, the Canada-based SMASH Wrestling had its title defended at a Progress show, ahead of three co-promoted shows between the two in Toronto in September. Progress also announced they would be running two shows in the United States in April 2017 as part of WrestleMania weekend with WWNLive.


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