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The Week In British Wrestling: Scurll vs Ospreay, part 2; Grado loses title

We’ve got some of the best grapplers in the world doing great things on a weekly basis! Here’s 5 things you need to know about British wrestling this week:

1) Scurll & Ospreay do it again...

On January 16th, at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, Will Ospreay and Marty Scurll put on a masterclass of modern wrestling at Revolution Pro-Wrestling's High Stakes event. Just 8 days later, at PROGRESS's Chat Sh*t, Get Banged, across London at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, they did it again. The two matches, although they were both around 30 minutes long, could not have been more different. The first was all about showing how to link a series of moves into a flawless contest, the second - also virtually flawless - was about emotion and feeling and two men who hate one another.

Ospreay is being talked about in hushed tones, and watching him you do get the feeling that every time might be the last time, that before your ticket for his next appearance can be validated, he'll be off to Orlando or Japan. Scurll had a glimpse of glory, runner-up in the first TNA Bootcamp, and you sometimes could be forgiven for thinking his time has passed. This past week - and a year of solid work as The Villain before that - shows that to be nonsense, and both men would enhance the roster of any company in the world. For now, though, they're ours. Enjoy it while it lasts.

2) PROGRESS banged it...

As well as the superb main event detailed above, Chat Sh*t, Get Banged, named after a tweet from Leicester City (PROGRESS owner Jim Smallman’s team) footballer Jamie Vardy, delivered everything it promised. Mark Haskins – bearing the marks of a pounding by Kenny Omega in Swindon the night before – beat Zack Gibson to become the number one contender, and will face new PROGRESS champion Marty Scurll in Manchester on February 14th. Opening the card, The Origin beat FSU to retain the tag-team titles, and their next challengers will likely come from whoever wins the feud between the London Riots and the Sumerian Death Squad. They kicked off a three-match series on Sunday with a Michael Dante versus Rob Lynch encounter that was every bit as hard-hitting as a New Japan NEVER title match.

Coming dangerously near to stealing a show with so much talent having so many great matches, however, were the women, who turned a four-way into an intense twenty minute encounter, with even the most skeptical about the distaff athletes converted and delivering a standing ovation by the end. Dastardly Sloan ranger Jinny triumphed, and will face Leva Bates at the next ENDVR show in March, but there are so many threads still dangling between the four – Pollyanna, Dahlia Black, and Toni Storm made up the quartet – that this will run for the whole year. And that year will be a year in which PROGRESS promotes at least 22 shows, each one more anticipated than the last. It’s a great time to be a fan of British wrestling.

3) ICW turned a different corner...

The build-up to Square Go, Insane Championship Wrestling’s version of the Royal Rumble, was all about the feud between ICW Heavyweight champion Grado and his challenger, Chris Renfrew. Renfrew, the leader of the New Age Kliq, framed his challenge as defending the honour of ICW, although few outside NAK loyalists went along with that. But, after the dust had settled on Sunday’s show, it was Renfrew who came away with the title, leaving Grado – who debuted a new look, with new music – wondering where to go next.

Renfrew’s first challenge could come from his fellow NAKer, Wolfgang, who walked out of the Square Go match with a heavyweight title shot, after besting 29 other men to win a 12-month window to cash in his opportunity. The rules of Square Go allow for 5 wrestlers to bring weapons to the ring, and the lucky recipients were Noam Dar (steel chair), Timm Wylie (lead pipe), Red Lighting (kendo stick), Jack Jester (sex toy), and Sebastian, who brought his GZR tag-team partner Tom Irvin as his weapon. Also in the match were Dave Mastiff, Jimmy Havoc, Doug Williams, ICW owner Mark Dallas, and all the ICW regulars. Next up for ICW is their spring tour, visiting England, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland, and it’s all building towards November’s massive Fear & Loathing IX.

4) Alpha Omega kicked off their 2016 season...

While British wrestling has its areas of concentration, the north Lancashire coast is not exactly a hotbed of grappling action, despite the part the area played in the tradition and history of the sport in the UK. Preston City Wrestling operates 30 miles inland but the seaside is dominated by Alpha-Omega Wrestling, based in Morecambe, and presenting a series of well-attended, sensibly-booked shows that have kept fans in the area – and the adventurous traveller – entertained since they emerged in 2007 as the XWA. Initially owned by former FWA promoter (and on-screen personality) Greg Lambert, the promotion has passed through several hands but is still booked by Lambert, alongside current owner Charles Nelson Riley. The promotion tries to harken back to a time when wrestling was real, and while the success (or otherwise) might speak more about the people of the town than anything else, it’s a refreshing change in an era of kayfabe-breaking, social media-embracing meta wrestling, and more power to them.

Saturday’s Outbreak event, at Alpha-Omega’s regular Morecambe Winter Gardens home, attracted a healthy crowd to see heavyweight champion Stixx down Joe Hendry, the latest contender to try and break an 8-year undefeated streak. Also on the show, The Referendum (the top heel stable, all Scots and playing on the 2014 Scottish divorce from the UK which never quite happened), represented by Liam Thomson & Bobby Roberts, won the tag-team titles, Craig Kollins beat Chris Silvio, and Lana Austin & Alexis Rose defeated Nikki Storm & Carmel Jacob. With a roster that also includes Chris Ridgeway, Cyanide, and many of the northern standouts, Alpha-Omega are one of the UK’s best kept secrets, and might just be worth a trip to the seaside...

5) The shows keep coming...

As well as spending much of the year promoting spot shows around their south west territory, 4 Front Wrestling promotes several big shows a year, and this weekend presented New Year’s Wrestleultion, at the MECA in Swindon. The show was supposed to have been main-evented by a 4FW Heavyweight title match between Tiger Ali and Doug Williams, but a series of events led to Williams putting his title shot on the line against local favourite Samie Sahin and losing, before helping Sahin beat Ali to win the title which sent the hall crazy. Also on the show, Kenny Omega beat Mark Haskins to win the vacant 4FW Cruiserweight title, and then immediately vacated it because he’s a heavyweight now, Drago beat Pentagon Jr in a Lucha Underground showcase match, and Japanese women’s star Hikaru Shida beat Shanna. The women were also in action down the road in High Wycombe (Nadia Sapphire actually worked both shows), where Empress Pro-Wrestling presented Never Say Never Again at the Arts4Every1 Centre. Three of the four women from the PROGRESS match were in action, with Jinny losing to Kira Fox, Toni Storm beaten by Courtney, and Pollyanna teaming with Katie Harvey to defeat Rhia O’Reilly & Addy Starr. Robbie Brookside’s daughter, Xia, also worked the show.

With an eye on the next generation, IPW:UK staged Future 15 on Saturday, at the Community Centre in Selsdon. As well as a multi-man “scrum” match (won by ProJo head trainer Darrell Allen, and also featuring London Riot James Davis, Lord Jonathan Windsor, and the return of scene veteran Muscles Mansfield), women’s champion Tennessee Honey successfully defended her title against Elizabeth, tag-team champions DnD saw off Sammy Smooth & Maverick Mayhew, and Donovan Dijak collided with Rampage Jackson in a super heavyweight bout. Across the Thames Estuary, in Essex, Reloaded Championship Wrestling Alliance – a promotion part-owned by Will Ospreay – presented Fall Out at the Rainham Methodist Church. Ospreay worked the opener, defeating 2016 rookie of the year contender Malik, while his Swords of Essex tag-team partner Paul Robinson beat Ash Draven & Sean Wilson in a handicap match, by disqualification. Also on the show, which our spy highly recommended, were “Blackbelt” Tom Dawkins, and TNA Bootcamp nearlymen Chuck Cyrus and Priscilla.