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The Week In British Wrestling: Will Ospreay vs. Mark Andrews do it again

Will Ospreay vs. Mark Andrews

By Alan Boon for WrestlingObserver.com

It may be late November, and the weather may have taken a turn for the cold and wet, but things are still heating up on the UK wrestling scene. Here are five things you need to know about British wrestling this week.

1) Will Ospreay and Mark Andrews proved lightning can strike twice.

When Will Ospreay and Mark Andrews stepped through the ropes at Pro-Wrestling Guerilla's yearly BOLA extravaganza in August, few thought they'd be two of the standout stars on a card full of the biggest names in independent wrestling (and a sprinkling of lucha, to boot). Once they'd finished their first round bout, few were in doubt of that status. Ospreay, only in his fourth year as a pro, and Andrews, criminally underused in TNA after winning last year's British Bootcamp competition, put themselves on the worldwide map but only cemented what British fans already knew.

On Sunday, at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London, they met again, and put their summer contest firmly in the shade with a jaw-dropping display of head-dropping and acrobatics that had the sellout crowd on their feet and wowed. For Ospreay, it was just the latest in a series of 2015 contests that have seen him rocket up everyone's top 20 lists, while for Andrews, it was a reminder that he's back in the main event mix on this side of the Atlantic. We're happy to see him again.

2) You can't halt the march of PROGRESS.

As 750 people crammed into the Electric Ballroom for the final time in 2015, I'm sure the thoughts of more than a few PROGRESS "ultras" turned to the year-to-date, which saw the culmination of the Jimmy Havoc storyline, the first Super Strong Style 16 Tournament, and a string of sellout shows. By the end of the show - Chapter 23: What A Time To Be Alive! - those other shows and that other stuff, was distant history. Aside from the main event, the aforementioned masterpiece theatre for the PROGRESS title, the rest of the show (six matches, plus two pre-show bouts) reached highs in terms of hard-hitting - Rampage Brown and Austria's Big Daddy Walter just about broke the ring in the opening bout - and lows in terms of pesky shenanigans - heel stable The Origin finagled their way to the tag-team titles AND a shot at the title at next week's debut show in Manchester - and had just about everything in between.

While the absence of Jimmy Havoc leaves a big hole in the shows, such was his influence in a two-year reign of terror, things look very promising for 2016, with monthly London shows and bi-monthly forays up North. That begins early with Chapter 24: Hit The North on Sunday (another sellout), this time in England's third city. Ospreay defends his title against Zack Gibson, with Zack Sabre Jr. and Tomasso Ciampa joining the regular crew. News on that next week...

3) Preston isn't just the home of Wade Barrett; it's also Ring of Honor's British base.

Back in the days of Big Daddy & Giant Haystacks, it used to be that the heavyweights sold tickets but the lighter weights brought the entertainment. That still holds true but the heavyweights have been replaced in recent years by former WWE and TNA imports, and the lighter weights by younger, local talent. Nowhere has that formula been more successful than at Preston City Wrestling, whose promoter Steven Fludder has brought a parade of "name" stars (often in conjunction with memorabilia fairs) to the North West for autograph signings, special appearances, and the odd match, and kept the fans wowed with some of the UK's top talent.

This past weekend, though, and for the second year in a row, PCW brought over a ton of ROH stars, including current ROH champion Jay Lethal, alongside Dalton Castle, Adam Cole, reDRagon, Cedric Alexander, and War Machine for the Supershow Of Honor. Although no local star was able to top Lethal, over 2000 fans attended the weekend shows to witness the ROH and UK talent trade wins across four shows. PCW heavyweight champion Dave Mastiff also fought off all-comers, but Adam Cole was able to steal away the Cruiserweight belt from el Ligero, promising to keep hold for a long time.

4) Rebellious Scots won’t be crushed.

Two weeks on from their MASSIVE Fear & Loathing supershow at Glasgow's SECC, Insane Championship Wrestling picked up their storylines at the puntastic Fear & Lothian show, held at in the heart of Lothian at Edinburgh’s City nightclub. The success of ICW has been built on a foundation of love for WWF’s Attitude Era and classic ECW, and the swerve was in early as former general manager Red Lightning revealed he was, in fact, majority owner of the company and would do everything he could to rid ICW of its incredi-popular champion, Grado.

Luckily for ICW’s fans, Red Lightning’s chosen man, Lionheart (fresh from being HATED at PCW’s Supershow Of Honor weekend), came up short, but New Age Kliq main man Chris Renfrew announced he would cash in his title shot at the company’s next big show, Square Go in Glasgow on January 24th. Noam Dar also earned a title shot at Square Go by winning a number one contenders’ match for Davey Blaze’s Zero-G championship – that’s if Blaze makes it through the next couple of TV tapings without Stevie Boy and the NAK taking him out.

5) There’s so much going on!

Elsewhere, the Scottish Wrestling Alliance held a big show at the Lagoon Centre, in Paisley, which saw Mark Coffey pin Drew Galloway to become the new SWA champion and appearances from Will Ospreay, Grado, Jack Gallagher, Kenny Williams, and Viper. Ahead of bringing in Pentagon Jr and Drago (and, erm, Tatanka) in January, 4 Front Wrestling opened their doors in Emerson Green in Bristol on Saturday night, and drew a healthy crowd for a show headlined by an eight-man elimination match, featuring the Hunter Brothers and Saul Adams.

Earlier in the week, PROGRESS held the third of their PTNTL trainee shows at a new venue, Nambucca, in north London. The show featured ProJo trainees of all levels of development, and was main-evented by a six-man featuring the promotion’s most senior rookies which saw the team of Sweet Bearded Jesus – California hippy surfer Chuck Mambo, full-bearded Kyle Ashmore & Pastor William Eaver defeat Hong Kong’s Shen Woo, the bruiser Damon Moser & the outrageous Jack Sexsmith by pinfall. Also of note was Kamikaze-Pro’s latest show in the chocolate town of Bournville, Birmingham, starring Rhyno, Juventud Guerrera, Jody Fleisch, Jonny Storm, the Dunne Brothers, and Tyler Bate.

Next weekend sees PROGRESS make their way to Manchester for the first time, Lucha Britannia run a rare Saturday, Pro-Wrestling CHAOS end their year in Bristol, and WAW & Bellatrix promoting a double-shot in Norwich, featuring the top UK women’s talent, as well as WWE star Paige’s father, mother, and brothers! Join me then for all the news that’s fit to print!

(Special thanks to Ben Corrigan for contributing to this report!)