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A Celebration of Progress Wrestling Chapter 76: Hello Wembley

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Yesterday, on September 30th at Wembley Arena, Jim Smallman took to the ring to let the audience know there were 4,750 people in attendance for Progress Wrestling’s most ambitious show to date. It was met with cheers so loud they were deafening, thousands overjoyed to see this small promotion grow into something much bigger than anyone anticipated. PROGRESS has always been important for British wrestling, but this solidified the fact, and to be there, watching it unfold was a dream come true.

Hello Wembley was an event filled with main event matches all over the card. Every one was different, playing to each individual wrestler and allowing them all to soak in the atmosphere as well as the moment they all made happen. Without such a varied, exciting, and talented roster, PROGRESS wouldn’t be what it is today, but thankfully, with the likes of British Strong Style, Jinny, Mark Andrews, Jimmy Havoc, and WALTER to name a few, the company has excelled further than many people ever thought possible.

To look around the arena as the main card started and see so many people for a PROGRESS show was surreal. Jim Smallman opened the show passionately speaking about what this means to Jon, Glen, and himself, as well as a few jokes to try and calm his nerves. It felt like everyone was united – ready to celebrate British wrestling – and more importantly, PROGRESS.

Mark Haskins vs Matt Riddle

Kicking things off was Mark Haskins and Matt Riddle, in what was to be Riddle’s last match on the independent circuit before taking flight in NXT. Before the match in a press interview, Haskins said he “didn’t want to be the plus one,” that he was going to prove to everyone how good he is. For the majority of the match Riddle showed off his striking ability, doing some serious damage to Haskins, but it was Mark who got the win, and rightly so. Haskins has been with PROGRESS for a long time now, and it felt only right that he should walk out of Wembley a winner.

Atlas Championship: Doug Williams (c) vs Trent Seven

In what was one of the saddest moments of the show, Doug Williams took a loss to Trent Seven, not just with the ATLAS title on the line but his career. It feels very much like Trent Seven is a younger Williams, someone who’ll hopefully have the career that he had. Doug Williams is an old school performer – an every man athlete that embodies British Strong Style, long before the likes of Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, and Pete Dunne. Whilst it was sad to see the entire locker room stand on the stage and applaud him, it also showed the love and respect everyone has for him, not just from the fans but the wrestlers themselves.

Women’s Championship: Toni Storm vs Jinny (c) vs Millie McKenzie

Jinny has been the Women’s Champion for almost five months, and both Millie McKenzie and Toni Storm in the same match would be her toughest challenge yet. After a fairly even contest, the House of Couture got involved, but thankfully Candyfloss and Laura Di Matteo evened the score. It was a fair fight until Di Matteo attacked Candy floss, followed by hitting a Rainmaker on Toni Storm and pulling Jinny on top of her for the pin, siding with the House of Couture. Suddenly, Jordynne Grace’s music hit and out she came, ready to do serious damage to them, but like the cowards they are, the House of Couture emptied the ring. Who knows where this one will go, but if Jordynne Grace is now a part of Progress Wrestling, we’re in for a treat.

No DQ: Paul Robinson vs Jimmy Havoc

To say this was brutal was an understatement. There were chairs, wooden doors, ironing boards, thumb tacks, and a staple gun, but what really lit up the match (no pun intended) was the fluorescent light tubes they both used to smash each other to pieces with. In their last match, Robinson curb stomped Havoc through a tube stuck between two chairs, but the roles reversed and Havoc did the same to Robinson. The sound it made when it happened was horrifying; those tubes smashed and exploded into every corner of the ring, causing the intermission to take place and the ring canvas to be replaced. Both were drenched in blood, and Jimmy Havoc’s white body paint was everywhere.

Thunderbastards Tag Team Championship: Flamita & Bandido (c), Sexy Starr, Mills & Mayhew, The Calamari Thatch Kings, Aussie Open, Anti-Fun police, Grizzled Young Veterans, The 198

After the brief intermission, it was time for Thunderbastards. This was such a good match, with every team having a moment to shine. The moment of the match went to Bandido for doing his signature top-rope tornado moonsault to the outside of the ring on more than half the competition, but the match was a brilliant for everyone. It was great to see Aussie Open get the win with the Fidget Spinner, and also to see Zack Gibson get so much heat from the crowd; it was a strong start to start the second half of the show.

Pete Dunne vs Ilja Dragunov

This was probably Dunne’s toughest match in PROGRESS, as Dragunov kept pushing him, never phased by Dunne’s aggression. Both men exchanged chops to the throat, chest, and face, and the power behind both men was scary. Ilja overcame everything the Bruiserweight threw at him, even dropping a Coast to Coast that really troubled Pete Dunne in the final quarter of the match. Eventually, Dunne got the win by snapping Dragunov’s fingers via submission, but he only just scraped by.

TLC: Eddie Dennis vs Mark Andrews

This match was special. It was special because of the determination they both had to make it such an entertaining one even when the tables just wouldn’t break. It looked on a few occasions that Dennis and Andrews were in serious pain when the tables wouldn’t break, as their bodies were bouncing off them instead of going through them. That didn’t stop Eddie Dennis from making sure he put his former best mate down for good. There was a point when Dennis had it won, but instead climbed down the 20ft ladder to continue his assault. After more brutality, Dennis grabbed Andrews at the top of a ladder and drove him through a table. He climbed back up the ladder and grabbed the contract, earning a victory as well as a contract to face the World Champion.

World Championship: WALTER (c) vs Tyler Bate

In a real treat, WALTER was accompanied to the ring by a live performance of his theme music, and it was beautiful. He looked ready to go, and didn’t disappoint in his performance. Bate tried his hardest to wear him down, but WALTER proved too strong. Bate managed to lift WALTER and drop him on more than one occasion. Not even a suplex outside the ring or the Tyler Driver could put WALTER away, and after hitting a huge piledriver, WALTER retained and walked out the PROGRESS World Champion once again.

The event was exceptional; all performances warranted match of the night. The stand out matches for me were Dunne vs Dragunov and WALTER vs Bate, but everyone had such energy. The future of PROGRESS is bright, especially with the arrival of Jordynne Grace, and even Travis Banks appeared to tell the crowd that he would be the first entrant in the Super Strong Style tournament next year. I’m still on a high the day after, and I can’t even imagine how the guys involved are feeling. It was a resounding success for the wrestlers, the promoters, and most importantly, the fans. British wrestling is so strong right now, and Hello Wembley proved it.

Chris White loves to write, and is a huge fan of wrestling of all kinds. He supports the Boston Celtics, listens to hip hop, and wishes Ric Flair was his granddad. He's a pretty cool guy, just ask his mum.

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