The Week In British Wrestling: RevPro & ICW Tape TV; PROGRESS go large

1) The Revolution will be televised!

With access to traditional television shows thin on the ground for UK promotions, they’ve had to think outside the box for solutions. In last week’s column, I gave a rundown of the different options available if you want to watch British wrestling (apart from the always-preferable live option), and this week Revolution-Pro held another of their popular “TV” tapings at the Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone, London. The Cockpit is more used to hosting fringe theatre but is a perfect venue for a television taping, harking back to the studio shows of old with its tight seating arrangement perfectly fitting around the squared circle in the centre. RevPro held three tapings at the Cockpit last year, for their YouTube TV show, and on Sunday they came back with a stacked card for a new run of shows for 2016.

Despite ENDVR taking place at the same time just 3 miles across London (more of which later), the show still attracted a good crowd, and they were treated to a mini-tournament for the Undisputed British Cruiserweight title, with Pete Dunne overcoming “Flash” Morgan Webster in the final – el Ligero & Josh Bodom being eliminated in the semi-finals. Jimmy Havoc continued his feud with the Revolutionists, bringing a mystery partner to face the Undisputed British Tag-Team champions, Sha Samuels & James Castle, and it turned out to be T-Bone.

Thanks to shenanigans, the champions kept their titles but Havoc has promised to bring back T-Bone and a third man to take on the tag champs and Bodom at High Stakes on January 16th. Main-eventing a card that also featured Big Damo, Mark Haskins, Marty Scurll, and Martin Kirby, was a bout between Will Ospreay and ACH, who made his return to RevPro after October’s Uprising. The two tore the house down and the match will be available to watch – for free – on RevPro’s YouTube channel very soon.

2) PROGRESS take their big guns to Brixton.

In last week’s column I trailed HUGE news from PROGRESS, and speculated what it could be. Well, speculate no more, because on January 1st they announced that September’s show – chapter 36 – will be held at the legendary Brixton Academy, in south London. It won’t be the company’s first trip south of the river – their ProJo wrestling school is situated round the corner from the Academy, and they’ve held trainee shows at the Bedford, in nearby Balham, before – but it will be the first time they’ve played a hall bigger than their usual 700 seats at the Electric Ballroom. The Academy will be set up for 2000 seats, and while that is dwarfed by ICW’s planned show at the Hydro in Glasgow, it will be the biggest crowd to see a British wrestling show in London for a good thirty years.

PROGRESS have always resisted temptation to move to a bigger building before, simply stating that the Electric Ballroom treat them very well and they would be afraid to lose that special atmosphere created at the sold-out shows, so this is a step into the unknown for the company. However, they’re doing it in conjunction with LiveNation, the company that handled NXT’s UK tour, and the logistics shouldn’t be too high a hurdle. Whether they can sell almost 3 times the amount of tickets they usually do in London is another thing, but UK wrestling is VERY hot right now, and with a 9-month lead they have every chance. Progress indeed!

3) A Sex Pest won a rap battle.

It’s impossible to sum up an entire show, especially one featuring so many different characters as an ENDVR show, in one pithy line, but – yes – a sex pest did win a rap battle at ENDVR’s first show of the year on Sunday. Anyone who follows ENDVR (and the PROGRESS shows as of the last London chapter) will know that the sex pest is Jack Sexsmith, and the rap battle was a precursor to his showdown with “Body Guy” Roy Johnson on Sunday’s show at the Garage in Islington. You’ll be reassured to know that “Mr Cocko” made his customary appearance, and those of you who don’t know anything about Jack Sexsmith will no doubt be very confused by now.

Also on the show, Pollyanna and Livvi won women’s matches, Damon Moser (a favourite for this year’s Natural Progression tournament) won a four-way over Pastor Bill Eaver, Earl Black Jr, and TK Cooper, and ProJo head trainer Darrell Allen beat Chuck Mambo in a “traditional British rules” match (which, unusually for such contests, didn’t suck). Some of the more established PROGRESS stars made an appearance (and a whole load of them were across London at the RevPro TV taping!), with Wild Boar teaming with PROGRESS-debutant Mike Bird (a mainstay of the south-west scene, and Mark Andrews’s trainer) taking a DQ win over Paul Robinson & trainee Shen Woo, and Eddie Dennis and Dave Mastiff colliding in a hard-hitting main event. The consequences of that fight will be felt long after the conclusion of Sunday’s show, with Dennis earning a tag-team title shot for himself and Mark Andrews, and Mastiff earning the ire of PROGRESS management with a sustained beating on a prone Dennis after the match.

4) Big shows aren’t just channel changers on the USA Network.

As well as PROGRESS planning their big outing to Brixton in September, several other promotions have already announced big shows of their own for 2016. New Generation Wrestling have already announced their mid-year spectacular, Ultimate Showdown, in Hull in late May, Southside have their annual Speed King tournament inked in for April, and – of course – everything that Insane Championship Wrestling does this year is leading up to their bigger-than-big-it’s-huge show at the 11,000-capacity Hydro in October.

But even bigger than that show, in relative terms, is Pro-Wrestling Chaos’s April 8th show in Bristol, with The Young Bucks flown in as a special attraction. Why is that so big? Because Chaos, a Bristol-based promotion formed in 2013 for former grappler Dave Mercy, usually run a 200-seater hall and they’ve booked a 3000-seater for this show, which they’ve promised to stack. As gambles go it’s a pretty big one, but with the Bucks only doing one other UK show (in faraway Edinburgh) it’s a risk that could pay off.

5) Friday Night’s Alright For Fight Club

In order to bring fresh and exclusive footage to their ICW OnDemand service, the promotion held another Friday Night Fight Club taping at the Garage nightclub, in Glasgow, last weekend. Like RevPro’s taping, they stacked the card with all their usual regulars, plus semi-regular import Tommy End, for a show which saw a title change, an ICW Heavyweight title defence, and a huge 8-man main event, featuring Grado, Davey Blaze, Noam Dar, and Kenny Williams against the New Age Kliq. They have another taping scheduled for this coming Sunday – the only show anywhere in the UK, as far as I can work out – with everything leading up to their big Square Go! show on January 24th.

Other than a few holiday camp shows (including one where the ATTACK! boys played to over 1000 people), the only other show over the last week was WrestleForce’s return to Rayleigh, in Essex, which featured their usual cast of characters.

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