Wrestling fans know that this industry takes two steps forward and, usually, three steps back.
For every Yes Movement there’s no movement from CM Punk – it’s a very comfy couch – for every bit of Shield dominance there’s a Dolph Ziggler squash, and for every actual women’s match on NXT there’s this bollocks from Monday Night Raw.
Those are the big leagues, though, where Vince, Trips and Steph will make inevitable millions from hordes of eager fans who pour money into the machine no matter what they do.
Fuck the big leagues. This. Is. Progress.
Progress is the UK’s best talent putting on world-class matches every two months.
It’s that talent mixing it up with the finest European and American imports, some of whom – like ROH and PWG World Champion Adam Cole – ask to appear at a Progress show.
It’s the crowd chanting, cheering, giving standing ovations at the end of the matches, it’s people high-fiving each other because they just don’t know how to react, and it’s the bloke who gets up and batters the canvas at the end of his favourite bouts.
It’s the brilliant long-term bullshit-free booking that means this Sunday’s second anniversary show will conclude storylines that have intensified for 18 months and have kept fans enthralled at every show.
It’s that long-term booking that sees the fans jumping out of their seats when Mark Andrews wins the title, only to jeer, throw cups and drop jaws when it all goes sour. It’s why we chant and throw things and feel hurt when our heroes turn their backs, it’s why we’re surprised at the returns, shocked at the betrayals and care about the grudges.
Progress is the Natural Progression series, which gives a platform to the UK’s brightest young wrestlers at every show.
Progress is the hilarious comments shouted by fans that even make the wrestlers laugh.
It’s the in-jokes and chants that are shouted proudly at every show. He’s fourteen.
Progress is feeling at home at your first show, despite the in-jokes and the references. It’s the feeling that you’ve found a family of like-minded people, and they’re all brilliant.
Progress is watching the promoters stand at ringside and laugh, jump and gasp along with the fans.
It’s The Garage in Islington, which is small and perfectly forms the raucous, energetic atmosphere that makes these shows so special. It’s going to be the Electric Ballroom, too.
It’s the awesome DVD sleeves and the great merchandise.
It’s Jim not being able to get in a wrestling ring.
It’s that lady who cheers the heels so loudly we’re all buying hearing aids.
It’s the bloke that shouts JESUS like Jim Cornette.
Progress is starting from the bottom.
It’s for whom the bell tolls.
It’s Noam Dar’s deep-fried Mars Bars, Paul Robinson’s WRESTLING, El Ligero’s OLÉ, Havoc being a cunt, partying with Marty, Zack’s kicks, Dave being a bastard, Grado’s bumbag, Manson’s balls, Singh being King, Darrell dazzling, The Riots and their cricket bat, Cruz stealing the show, Project Ego living up to its name, Eddie making Wales proud and Mark Andrews doing stuff that leaves us speechless.
It’s battling for the big stick.
Progress is forgetting that anything exists outside of The Garage and then leaving afterwards, blabbering to your friends, talking over each other about your favourite moments.
It’s sitting at the computer on the Monday after a show, with shaking hands, hammering F5 and trying to get a ticket for the next show. It’s the relief when you know you’ll be there.
It’s the best. This is Progress.