As we continue to countdown to the historic Progress show at Wembley Arena this Sunday, Screenjabber contributor Mike Loukoumis takes us through his first experience with Progress in 2013
March 2013, Chapter Six. That was the first Progress show I attended. Stepping off the train and across the road to The Garage in Islington, I wasn’t sure what to expect, I’d never been to a British independent wrestling show before. Most of my wrestling fandom had been spent on WWE, but at the time I was beginning to expand my horizons by watching old Ring of Honor and modern New Japan, so I figured British wrestling was the next logical step for me.
I had scanned the latest issue of FSM at the time to see what local shows where running, and Progress popped up. I looked into it and saw that they had booked US star Ricochet, and that sealed the deal for me as someone who was hungry to see the top US indy stars at the time.
As I entered the venue I remember thinking how small and dingy it felt, and, as I didn’t have a seated ticket, I perched up against the wall closest to the exit. Because of the size of The Garage, I was still extremely close to the ring, and that added another dimension.
When the show began, the noise from those in attendance was immense. The chanting and clapping made for a really electric atmosphere, and easily the best of any show I’d ever been to at that point.
I remember being thrilled at the size of Dave Mastiff against the ingenuity of Noam Dar, and the agility of Paul Robinson against an impressive MK McKinnan. I remember a babyface Jimmy Havoc, who didn’t really stand out at the time, but was just a few chapters away from his infamous heel turn that would define Progress’ early days. The main event was a really enjoyable contest featuring El Ligero defending the Progress title (a plastic staff?) against Ricochet. Then there was a ridiculously crazy hardcore tag match between The London Riots and the criminally under-used Hunter Brothers, in which a shattered piece of keyboard flew past me.
It was an incredible experience, I felt like I had discovered something special, and I knew I had to go again. It really was punk rock pro-wrestling, and it felt like nothing else I had seen.