The British wrestling scene was dealt a bit of a shock, today: Jim Smallman announced his intent to leave PROGRESS. He had been with the company since co-founding it in in 2011, along with Jon Briley and Glen Joseph. The company has been seen as one of, if not the best in the UK over the last three years.
Watch it please.
I’ll answer some questions about it at 2pm GMT.
Thank you everyone. pic.twitter.com/APgpMs4vTL
— Jim Smallman (@jimsmallman) August 2, 2019
Starting the company eight years ago, the intent of PROGRESS was to promote strong style wrestling. JJG also sought to incorporate a punk rock aesthetic in order to help set PROGRESS apart. It was not a quick process, but the company steadily built itself a reputation for putting on great shows.
Moving from The Garage in Islington to the Electric Ballroom in Camden – the company grew in size in manageable increments. PROGRESS’s biggest show of the year takes place in September, and over time the venue size would increase to accommodate demand. In 2016, the company ran the legendary Brixton Academy. In 2017, Chasing The Sun was the company’s first show at historic Alexandra Palace. In 2018, Hello Wembley sold over 5,000 seats for Wembley Arena.
PROGRESS has also had a successful international expansion – running tours in America, Australia, and Germany. They currently have shows lined up in Canada (next week!) and are soon to debut in France. Quite the achievement for a little British company.
Smallman, formerly working as a stand-up comedian, took up wrestling as a full-time job last year. He has been working for WWE, primarily on NXT UK, for some time, in parallel to his what he has done with PROGRESS. He has stated on Twitter that he intends to continue working for WWE.
The amount of talent fostered in PROGRESS has been absolutely immense. Some of the current biggest names in wrestling cut their teeth working for the company. People such as Jimmy Havoc; Zack Sabre Jr; Marty Scurll; Will Ospreay; and Pete Dunne. No matter what style of wrestling you prefer, there’s surely something for everyone in just that shortlist.
But, this is not an obituary for the company. Jim will say his final ‘hiya’ at Chapter 100 on December 30th, and leave PROGRESS in his co-founders’ capable hands. A new ring announcer will need to be cast; those are big shoes to fill. Smallman is always funny, personable and serious when necessary; a chameleonic presence in the ring. Whether or not he is replaced behind the scenes remains to be seen, however.
The end of an era for PROGRESS, and British independent wrestling also with Jim Smallman. A lot of fantastic memories have been birthed by Jim and his co-conspirators. All the best for the future, Jim. Thanks for helping to shine a light on some incredible talent over the last eight years.