PROGRESS Wrestling is a professional wrestling promotion which held its first show on March 25, 2012, under the leadership of comedian, Jim Smallman and his agent, Jon Briley. Though the groundwork for the promotion was laid down in 2011, it was only a year later that they officially held their first show in London.
Smallman and Briley were inspired by Japanese Strong Style of wrestling, which heavily focusses on strike based offense. They wanted to bring this style of wrestling to Britain, which sat well with their sensibilities. They also ensured only local talents were used during the shows, instead of imported talents from Japan or USA.
The promotion has been lauded by fans and critics for reviving the British wrestling scene, opening up doors for many performers hoping to make a name for themselves.
After steadily rising in stock for six years, PROGRESS Wrestling held its biggest show ever, Hello Wembley, at the Wembley Arena on September 30, 2018. The event had a mammoth 4,750 fans in attendance, making it one of the biggest (non-WWE) shows held in Britain.
Though the promotion was hampered due to the onset of Covid-19 pandemic throughout 2020, the promotion has bounced back by holding several shows since the beginning of 2021.
WWE-PROGRESS Wrestling Partnership
In 2016, PROGRESS tied up with WWE, where it hosted two WWE Cruiserweight Classic qualifying matches. Since then several WWE contracted talents like Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Tommaso Ciampa have wrestled at shows held by the promotion.
In 2017, PROGRESS was instrumental in creation of NXT UK brand, as several of its performers featured in the tournament to crown the first-ever NXT UK Champion. In the finals, Tyler Bate defeated Pete Dunne to become the champion, both of whom were a part of PROGRESS Wrestling.
It was announced in February 2021 that all the new PROGRESS Wrestling shows will be available for the fans on the WWE Network, further solidifying their partnership.