Indie Spotlight Watch: Paul Robinson

Paul Robinson
Photo / @PR_WRESTLING

Paul Robinson is a wrestler who has been on an absolute tear through BritWres over the last fourteen months. He has become a regular featured player in PROGRESS, RIPTIDE, ICW and many more. His current run of success/infamy is well deserved reward for a career that started way back in 2003. His time in the more visible wrestling companies was cut short in 2017, as he entered partial retirement. A medical condition that he has since been cleared of, it looked as though Robbo (as fans affectionately call him) was finished.

Trained by Dropkixx training school, Robbo began his career working for LDN Wrestling and IPW (a company that declared itself insolvent just last week). In those early days, he was best known for his high-flying ring style. British wrestling had been in a rut for some time, and if the sport was draw any fans it had to have a cutting edge style. This would have coincided with the rise of the indies Stateside, and so British wrestling had a new foundation to build upon. In years to come, Robinson would form the Swords of Essex faction alongside Will Ospreay, Scott Wainwright and Amazon. This would be the team that would lead him to bigger, more visible companies and wider acclaim.

Photo / RPW

It would be the Swords of Essex team, featuring himself and Ospreay, that would begin to gain a foothold on the BritWres scene. They would capture tag titles near enough anywhere they went: Rev Pro, IPW, FPW – they were very much in demand. Robbo and Ospreay’s combined youth, vigour, and spectacular high flying made them a hit wherever they went. In PROGRESS, however, the team would be ripped apart by Robinson as he joined Jimmy Havoc’s Regression faction. Dropping the spandex in favour of jeans, and the high flying in favour of brawling, Robinson sought to differentiate his heel character from his jovial Mr. Wrestling persona. It worked an absolute treat, as Robinson became a truly nasty piece of work inside the ring.

During a recent appearance on David Starr and James Musselwhite’s We The Independent podcast, Robinson revealed how he would keep up his heel persona in public. He told a story of an lady falling down at a Tube station on his way to wrestle for PROGRESS. Robbo said he was just about to help her up, but then he saw some fans in PROGRESS merch nearby. So instead of helping he elected to keep up kayfabe and leave her to it, no doubt shouting obscenities as he left. That’s hardcore. During this run, he never seemed to be in with a real chance of getting a big win, i.e. for a title. That didn’t really matter though, as he brought such verisimilitude to his work that titles were secondary. There was the famous match against Jimmy Havoc that marked the end of Regression, of course, but no championships in PROGRESS.

Paul Robinson
Photo / Rob Brazier

He would become a solid member of the midcard in PROGRESS, and continue to wrestle alongside the Swords of Essex elsewhere. His retirement from strong style wrestling followed a match against Jack Sexsmith for PROGRESS in April 2017. At Super Strong Style 16, he would put the Pansexual Phenomenon over clean and be given the house microphone following his loss. Clearly very emotional, he would say that he couldn’t wrestle at this level anymore due to a medical condition.  This was one of those strange moments in wrestling which is entirely unexpected and real. Especially coming from a nasty piece of work such as Robinson, fans were unsure how to react at first. When it became clear that they had seen the last of Paul Robinson the Ultras stood and applauded. A deserved response for a man who had helped build the company. That was it…

Until it wasn’t.

Will Ospreay had been due to face Jimmy Havoc at PROGRESS’s big Wembley show in September 2018. Word came through in the weeks leading up to the event that NJPW had blocked his, and Zack Sabre Jr’s, participation in the event. This was due to the Japanese league presenting a show in the US, and they wanted all hands on deck. The match was moved to Chapter 75, at the tail end of August, and Paul Robinson was installed as the referee. Due to his history in the company with both men it made sense, but still a few Roger Moore style eyebrows were raised. What did PROGRESS have up their sleeve here?

Suspicions were confirmed as Paul Robinson would hit a curb stomp on Jimmy to gift Ospreay the match, and set up a showdown at Wembley. Although he would lose the match, Robbo had firmly established that he was back and that he was a force to be reckoned with. He would begin to take high profile bookings around that same time with newer companies. The Essexican would enter into a feud of the hard bastards with Kid Fite for Insane Championship Wrestling in Scotland. Those two would tear one another apart in matches that sent bystanders scrambling for cover. In the Brighton based RIPTIDE, Robinson would enter into feuds against old pal Jimmy Havoc and Jinny. In these inter-gender scenarios, Robinson’s partner would be the excellent Chakara, although they would typically lose.

But it would be in PROGRESS that Paul Robinson would achieve the most acclaim and glory. In December 2018, at Unboxing, the Swords of Essex would reunite to dethrone tag team champions Aussie Open. Although he would sustain a nasty looking gash to the back of his head during the bout, Robinson was a revelation. The match was an instant classic, and really set tongues wagging as many assumed Ospreay had finished for good with PROGRESS. The Swords would reign for three months before dropping the titles back to the Aussies in a chaotic TLC match. It was a fairly short reign, but it had some great matches against the likes of CCK and another successful defense against Aussie Open. Robinson returned to single competition and contested a hot World title match against Walter in Canada. Although he wouldn’t win the big one, his fiery promo at the Chapter prior to his shot had garnered a positive reaction from fans. As a dyed in the wool heel, and a universally despised one at that, it was a surprise to hear.

The introduction of the Proteus title at Chapter 95 marked a new direction for the company’s upper midcard. An intergender title, the rules of the Proteus title meant that its holder could set the rules that it would be fought under. The first champion was due to be crowned following a Royal Rumble style match, and Robinson was due to be the number one entrant. The crowd swell of support was fully behind our man at this point, and he fought hard for nearly an hour in the match. Danny Duggan and Robbo were the last two men in the match and they went back and forth for some time. It looked as though William Eaver might be the difference maker as he interfered on Duggan’s behalf from ringside. But it was Robinson who would come out on top, slinging the DnR member over the top and claiming the belt.

Shortly after his victory, Paul Robinson would announce that he would defend the belt in matches that could only end via tapout or knockout. And defend it he has at every Chapter since racking up wins against Travis Banks, William Eaver and Timothy Thatcher. Meanwhile, in RIPTIDE, Robinson joined Money Versus Everybody in October. That’s Spike Trivet’s top of the card heel faction which should likely see him used prominently. Perhaps it could even lead to the working class Essex lad turning against his silver spoon overlord at some point? That feud could be absolute magic.

It’s been a long old road for Paul Robinson to reach the level that he currently occupies in BritWres. A man who works full time during the week (and is a believer in Unions, contrary to his anti-David Starr promo), it will be interesting to see how far he can go. For my part, I think he’s got the same sort of aura about him that Pete Dunne did during his rise to prominence. Fiercely believable, totally committed and extremely talented in the ring, Paul Robinson’s time is now. He’s been doing a fantastic job of riding that wave of success, and long may it continue.

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