By Alan Boon for WrestlingObserver.com
1) The big news this week is tickets!
PROGRESS put their 2016 season tickets on sale: valid for every one of the eleven events held at Camden’s Electric Ballroom next year. They sold over TWO HUNDRED of them with the front row (priced at £264, roughly $400) and the gold (second and third rows, £242/$360) selling out in under a minute. The promotion has always had a great record of selling out shows without announcing a single match, but this is a leap of faith that demonstrates just how essential their shows have become to UK fans. Later in the week on the heels of their triumphant Fear & Loathing VIII show at Glasgow’s SECC, Insane Championship Wrestling put tickets on sale for Fear & Loathing IX at the Hydro, a building set up for 11,000 seats. On the first day alone they sold FIFTEEN HUNDRED tickets, which is more than TNA sold the last time they ran the Hydro in January of this year. All that for a promotion with no TV and a niche product which owes more to classic ECW than a mainstream pro-wrestling product.
2) One of the UK’s best kept secrets is Lucha Britannia, presenting chaotic and innovative showcases in a disused railway arch in London’s East End.
The promotion started way back in 2006 out of the ashes of RAMWA – Rock And Metal Wrestling Alternative. Showing no sign of – nor desire to – moving out of the two-hundred-capacity Resistance Gallery (which they own), their monthly shows sell out to a crowd made up of wrestling fans, hipsters, and curious onlookers. As well as products of their training school, the London School of Lucha Libre, their shows are populated by a who’s who of the UK’s brightest with Will Ospreay, Paul Robinson, RJ Singh, and even WWE World Heavyweight champion Sheamus having walked through the tightly-packed crowd to the ring. The school, by the way, has regular guest training spots by lucha legends Juventud Guerrera and Cassandro who are the only people from “our” dimension to have entered the “RetroFutureVerse” unchanged.
Last Friday's show saw Jimmy Havoc return to the promotion, resurrecting his exótico alter-ego Glamsexico to face Juventud Guerrera, as well as the debut of “Anunaki Pharaoh” Marduk Malik, a “Sumerian god” who hit an EIGHT-FOOT dropkick on his way to winning the opening Lucha Chaos match, which also featured Freddie Mercurio, the resurrected rock star.
3) Another bold diversion from the traditional pro wrestling route trodden by most UK promotions is Tetsujin, who held their first show on Friday night in Liverpool.
Aiming to present a shoot-style spectacle, along the lines of classic UWFI and Battlarts, and with bouts decided only by submission or knockout, they engaged a ton of the UK’s top names for a one-night only tournament, as well as two of Europe’s finest in Tommy End and Big Daddy Walter for a non-tournament slugfest. Fittingly, Jack Gallagher – a northern-based pure grappler who works a traditional British style of holds and reversals – came out on top, overcoming Zack Gibson, Dave Mastiff, and Chris Brookes on his way to the title. The show, held at the Black-E nightclub, did not draw fantastically well, but it’s a sign of the breadth of the UK scene that this promotion can exist and run on the same night as a lucha show.
4) Zack Sabre Jr. made his final appearance for Pro Wrestling NOAH.
Although he spends most of his time outside the UK, we still claim Sabre Jr. as our own and he made his final NOAH appearance with his future endeavours somewhat shrouded in mystery at this point. The smart money has him moving to California, where presumably he will continue to be a regular for Pro-Wrestling Guerilla, as well as EVOLVE and other US indies. The California aspect raises questions of whether Lucha Underground is in his future, but him being featured in a WWE.com article on EVOLVE’s best talent – along with the aggressive acquisition policy of NXT lately – can’t rule out a run in Orlando. Like Neville, who worked all over the UK for the best part of a decade as Pac, Sabre Jr. is held in high-regard by British indy fans, and his any further success will shine brightly on the scene that birthed him.
5) After two quiet weeks show-wise, things woke up with a score of shows last weekend from the southwest of England to Scotland’s capital.
Discovery Wrestling presented Live In Edinburgh, and brought TNA bootcamp stars Mark Andrews, Grado, and Rampage Brown in, alongside ICW’s Joe Coffey & Joe Hendry, Nikki Storm, and the “Beast of Belfast” Big Damo. Across Scotland, in Glasgow, Pride Wrestling also brought in Big Damo, Joe Coffey, and Nikki Storm, while further south in Manchester, Futureshock Wrestling held a tournament won by Zack Gibson. HOP:E did a quick two-day shot, in Mansfield and Milton Keynes, with el Ligero, Jack Jester, Doug Williams, the GZRS, and Martin Kirby featuring, and Mark Andrews and former-NXT prospect Joel Redman pulled on their boots for Pro-Wrestling Evolution in Trowbridge.
The biggest show of the weekend, though, was Tidal Championship Wrestling’s 2nd Anniversary show at the University of Leeds, which drew a decent crowd to witness Dara Diablo retain his TCW title over el Ligero, on a show which also featured Rampage Brown, Tyler Bate, and Addy Starr, a former Inter-Species Wrestling (Quebec) competitor.
Next weekend is a HUGE one for the UK scene, with PROGRESS opening their doors for their latest chapter and Preston City Wrestling presenting their Supershow Of Honor weekend, with Ring of Honor sending over reDRagon, Roderick Strong, Dalton Castle, and ROH champion Jay Lethal to mix it with the UK’s best.