Welcome, cats and kittens, the third interview ever in Cewsh Reviews history. In the two interviews that we’ve conducted prior to this, with Xavier and Chris Masters specifically, we had burning questions that we needed answered, whether it was where the first Ring of Honor champion is now, or whether or not Chris Masters really is as great as he seems, (he is.) But today we’re taking a different approach, as instead of interviewing a wrestler, this time we got the chance to ask some questions to one of the owners of perhaps the fastest rising wrestling promotion in England today. That’s right, Cewsh Reviews is going corporate, and we’re going to find out exactly what PROGRESS Wrestling is all about, how it got so popular so fast, and where it’s headed in the future.
So let’s put 8 questions on the clock and find out everything you need to know about PROGRESS.
PROGRESS Wrestling is an independent wrestling promotion based out of London, England. They opened up in March of last year with a unique brand and a ton of hungry wrestlers ready to make a name for themselves. They’ve run 8 sell out shows thus far, have become a hot topic of conversation among indy fans in England, and they seem to be just getting started. Next week we’ll be reviewing a show of theirs to give you an idea of what you can expect from them. But first, I sat down with one of their owners, Glen Joseph, to find out a little bit of what goes on in the mind of an indy wrestling promoter.
Glen Joseph: My interest in Pro Wrestling started with the then WWF being at Wembley Stadium for Summerslam. One of the guys that my Dad used to drink with had Sky Sports when it was very new here in the UK and used to tape wrestling for me on old VHS’s. I remember the first full PPV I watched was Wrestlemania 9. I watched it until the tape started to wear!
I honestly had no concept of British wrestling even being a “thing” that was anything but a piece of history until I was in my early twenties. It took the internet to really open my eyes to wrestling, and through that, ECW, early British stuff, US indies and my number one wrestling passion (with the exception of Progress) right now, NJPW.
Glen: It was Jon and Jim’s venture initially. I came in after the first show as a presenter of sorts and we all hit it off. We have a great thing going in terms of not having one person’s idea always being the be all and end all. We vote on ideas we don’t all agree with, and spend a lot of time thinking through the intricacies of storylines and how shows can be the best they can be, within our budget. Also, because we each work in the entertainment industry already, we have an appreciation to what goes into a “show” but we all love strong style wrestling!
Glen: It has a unique feel. 15,000 people got to the O2 in London at various points over the year and more often than not sell it out for RAW tapings and House shows, so there is a huge wrestling market here in the UK, and in particular, as far as we’re concerned, London. TNA do better business here than in the US and they’re on Freeview TV as well. What we give is a more adult feel. We run our shows, at present, from The Garage in Islington, Central London which is a world famous Rock and Metal venue. Immediately that’s different from the leisure centres and gyms that most of the Sunday afternoon, family friendly shows that the UK run from.
Saying that, we’re not blood and guts wrestling. Sure, Jimmy (Havoc) has bled around The Garage on a couple of occasions, but we don’t promote Hardcore Wrestling. We promote Strong Style wrestling for smart fans. We want to be a blend of adult themes, investing storylines, stiff work, great entertainment, and having Jim (Smallman) as our MC for the events is great as well, as he brings a different dynamic of adult comedy to the show. It has the same vibe as old school ECW back in the day.
Glen: There are so many. It’s no surprise that the WWE keep such tabs on the British scene at the moment. Just look at NXT with Pac (Adrian Neville) and Joel Redman (Oliver Grey) and of course Sheamus, Stu Sanders (Wade Barrett) and Drew Galloway (McIntyre). But if I had to pick a handful, I’d go with the members of Team “Screw Indy Wrestling”, Nathan Cruz is the most complete heel in the ring and on the mic in the UK at the moment, and of course Rampage (Brown) has already been signed to the WWE, as has Skins (Mark Haskins) with TNA.