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The Week In British Wrestling: PROGRESS, RevPro & WWE for Global Cruiserweight series

Main photo of Marty Scurll by Rob Brazier

1) News happened!

Having said last week that I don't usually give over one of these precious spots to stuff that hasn't happened yet, both PROGRESS and Revolution Pro-Wrestling broke some HUGE stories over the weekend that give me little choice but to do it again! Both companies announced that they will be hosting qualifying matches for the WWE's upcoming Global Cruiserweight Series, the finals of which will be taped in June in Orlando.

PROGRESS have been given 2 qualifiers, both of which will take place at chapter 29 on April 24th, while RevPro have just the 1, to be held on a future event yet to be announced. With EVOLVE already announced as the US host for the series qualifiers, the landscape of independent professional wrestling is changing massively in 2016.

In other RevPro news, they announced an extra event at the York Hall, on June 12th, headlined by what some are calling a "dream match" between Zack Sabre Jr and former-WWE champion Kurt Angle. Angle had said he was taking a year off, but he was rumoured to be working WAW's upcoming TV tapings in Norwich, which would fit in well with this booking, Tickets are already on sale, and are selling fast.

PROGRESS also announced the launch of a new weight division for wrestlers over 205lbs (that being the upper limit for the WWE's cruiserweight series) and a title to go with it. The first Atlas champion will be crowned at September's big Brixton show, in a match between the winners of two four-man round-robin groups, with matches being held beginning at chapter 28 on April 10th and continuing throughout the spring and a summer on main chapter and ENDVR shows.

Announced for the tournament are Dave Mastiff, Iestyn Rees, T-Bone & Big Daddy Walter in group A, and Joe Coffey, Big Damo, Michael Dante & Rampage Brown in group B.

2) Marty Scurll is the ultimate Thunderbastard.

After beating the winners of both previous editions of the gauntlet match known as Thunderbastard, Marty Scurll's triumph in the latest edition, held at PROGRESS chapter 27 - The Lost Art Of Suffering - on Sunday, positions him as the master of the gimmick. Scurll overcame 8 other men, including former champions Will Ospreay, Mark Andrews & Rampage Brown, to keep his PROGRESS title in a fantastic match and leave no clear challengers for the belt.

Scurll last eliminated Ospreay after a strong showing from Zack Gibson saw him make the final 3, and then demanded to be given the day off for next month's chapter 28. PROGRESS owner Jim Smallman acquiesed to that demand but then informed the crowd that Scurll would have to defend his title - against Ospreay - at Saturday's WrestleCon event in Dallas!

If that blockbuster ended the second half of the show, the first half ended less explosively with the much-anticipated Tables, Ladders & Chairs match between the London Riots and the Sumerian Death Squad, with the losers forbidden from teaming in PROGRESS again. The match was hard-hitting, with some incredible spots and all 4 men giving everything, but was let down by some flimsy tables & an unsuitable ladder for the match's dénouement, when James Davis climbed to retrieve a contract to enable the Riots to continue as a team in PROGRESS.

Earlier in the show, Pastor William Eaver beat Damien Dunne to move into the final of the Natural Progression Series for younger talent, Jack Gallagher beat Johnny Kidd in an old vs young comedy bout, and Dave Mastiff answered rookie "Body Guy" Roy Johnson's "Wasteman Challenge", which ended in defeat for the ProJo graduate.

In the show's semi-main, The Origin retained their tag-team titles against the impromptu team of Zack Sabre Jr & Tomasso Ciampa, with Ciampa blaming the loss on his partner, turning heel and demanding a match at September's Brixton show, which was confirmed by Smallman. The show should be available to watch soon on Demand PROGRESS.

3) IPW:UK said goodbye (for now?) to a superstar.

While the headline-grabbing match – which we’ll get to in a moment – was the battle between Team Ayass & Team Artemis, the main event of IPW:UK’s Supershow 3 on Easter Monday was a Loser Leaves IPW:UK match between one-time friends “Blackbelt” Tom Dawkins and Will Ospreay. Ospreay turned heel last year, reuniting the Swords of Essex team with Paul Robinson, and Dawkins was an unfortunate casualty.

Rather than go away quietly, he’s battled both men, and it all came down to Monday’s contest, which saw Dawkins force Ospreay out of the Kent promotion, to the dismay of some fans who haven’t grasped the heel turn as well as you’d like.

As for the big battle, a six-man elimination tag-team match between Artemis’s trio of the London Riots & Mr Anderson and the Ayass troika of Jon Ryan, Bad Bones & Clint Margera came down to Ryan and Anderson, with the former NWA-Hammerlock veteran coming out on top after an intense and bloody battle. As per the stipulation, Ryan now gets a shot at Jimmy Havoc’s IPW:UK Heavyweight title, although with Havoc out injured, just when is uncertain.

To open the show, former RevPro tag-team division mainstays 2Unlimited ended their recent sabbatical with a win in a four-way match to determine the number one contenders to DnD’s IPW:UK Tag-Team titles, beating out Project Lucha, Sammy Smooth & Scott Star, and a Swords of Essex team comprised of Scott Wainwright & Ospreay (doing double duty to cover for an injured Paul Robinson).

Also on the show, and in addition to appearances by Zack Sabre Jr, Matt Sydal, and Mark Andrews, Darrell Allen beat Jonathan Windsor in a “relaxed rules” match, and Jetta won the IPW:UK Women’s title, pinning Nikki Storm in a three-way which also included the champion Tennessee Honey. The next IPW:UK show is on May 1st, with the London Riots versus War Machine, and this show should be up on IPW:UK’s on demand service soon.

4) If it’s Sunday, it must be Bournemouth.

Insane Championship Wrestling embarked on the latest leg of their Hey Look! It’s That Mad Wrestling Thing Aff The Telly tour, with three dates in London, Cardiff, and Bournemouth. Despiote being mostly house shows, Big Damo's title win in Belfast a couple of weeks ago shows that you can never be quite sure what will happen.

This leg of the tour kicked off with Pin Pals, at the Brooklyn Bowl in London's O2 complex, and was main-evented by a Fatal Four-Way for the ICW Heavyweight championship which saw champion Damo overcome the odds - in the shape of Jack Jester, Grado & Drew Galloway - the retain his title. Also on the show, Mikey Whiplash pinned Zack Sabre Jr, TNA's Bram beat DCT, and Wolfgang defeated BT Gunn, but was then thrown down one of the bowling lanes by Gunn & Chris Renfrew. Marty Scurll, Joe Coffey, the 55, and Doug Williams also appeared.

Iestyn Rees & Wolfgang photo by Louise Czekaj

The next night, at Cardiff's Tramshed venue, Gladys The Groovy Mule was headlined by another Heavyweight title defense, with Big Damo this time seeing off Bram. Tag-team champions the 55 put their title on the line against the local team of Wild Boar & Mike Bird, and they, too, came away with the gold. Elsewhere on the show, the New Age Kliq team of Chris Renfrew & BT Gunn beat The Black Label's Drew Galloway & Jack Jester, Joe Coffey pinned Lionheart, and Stevie Boy won a show-opening three-way against Kenny Williams & Dickie Divers, although the Zero G title was not on the line. The show also featured Grado, Mikey Whiplash and Wolfgang.

The final night of the swing, titled Rocky VII (Adrian's Revenge), visited Bournemouth's O2 Academy, and was closed out by a huge six-man tag-team tables elimination match. When all the tables were broken, the team of the Black Label (Drew Galloway & Jack Jester) & Bram stood over Big Damo & the New Age Kliq's Chris Renfrew & BT Gunn, and the BL/NAK feud looks set to roar all the way into Barramania next week.

Earlier on the card, Joe Coffey beat Sha Samuels in a rare singles outing for the tag-team champion, Stevie Boy beat Grado, and there were also wins for Kenny Williams, Joe Hendry, Mikey Whiplash, and Square GO! holder Wolfgang. As with all ICW events, these shows will be available to view on ICW On Demand soon.

5) There were shows here, shows there, shows everywhere.

In the tradition of the great junior heavyweight tournaments of the past like the Super-J & the ECWA Super*8, HOP:E held their annual King Of Flight tournament on Friday and Saturday, at the Forest Town Arena in Mansfield. The two-day format allowed for a 16-man field (which actually became 17 when Ricky Shane Page was added to one of the first round matches to make it a three-way), and attracted some of the UK’s best flyers, including el Ligero, “Flash” Morgan Webster, Mark Andrews, Josh Bodom, Ryan Smile, and Pete Dunne.

Josh Bodom & Mark Andrews photo by Brett Hadley

At the climax of the competition – a four-way final that closed Saturday’s show – young Chris Tyler, an outsider by any estimation, took the honours, beating off Ryan Smile, Jigsaw & man of the moment Will Ospreay to lift the trophy. Also on the weekend’s shows was Chuck Taylor, and The Wonderland made a rare Midlands appearance in a tag-team showcase. HOP:E’s next show is this Sunday, at the Walkabout in Derby, as part of a Wrestlemania party.

If a promotion can be judged by its celebrity fans then having Maffew off of Botchamania as a regular at your shows can send mixed messages. Although his stock in trade is the blooper, it seems that he patronises Main Event Wrestling for entirely different reasons, and their latest show, We Like To Party at the Innisfree Social Club in the Longbenton area of Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Friday, was another night of quality professional wrestling fun.

The show was main-evented by an MEW Heavyweight title match between Jason Prime and Liam Lazarus, with the former (who was also seen in attendance at PROGRESS on Sunday) coming out on top. The show also featured a Masterlock Challenge, with local lad Prince Ameen failing to break Chris Masters’s trademark hold, and an MEW Tag-Team title match between HT Drake & Micky the Dragon and Martin Kirby (who gets around!) & Ian Robinson. It’s no secret I’m a fan of what some of these smaller companies are promoting, and if you’re in the North East you could do much worse than get down to MEW’s next show, on May 13th, again at the Innisfree.

Keeping the theme of smaller promotions doing great things, Cheshire’s Great Bear Promotions held what will be their last event for a while when they presented Battle Kingdom IV at the Middlewich Town hall on Saturday night. Other projects will take precedence for now but BKIV was a great way to (temporarily) go out, with a Great Bear Grand Championship match between Axel Dieter Jr and Josh Bodom, and a battle of the old-timey strongman-types between Jack Gallagher and Tyler Bate taking centre-stage.

Elsewhere on the card, Martin Kirby (told you!) beat Soner Durson, and Toni Storm defeated Violet Vendetta, and when Great Bear return Middlewich will be the only place to be to see shows that, at least for now, are unavailable to see anywhere other than live with your own eyes. Good work fellas.