South West Rising – Part 1
From the historic docks of Gloucester, the suburbs of Swindon and the multicultural City of Bristol there is one thing they have in common…..wrestling. Within the last two years the wrestling scene has changed dramatically in the South West, going hand in hand with the recent boom with the British independent scene the sport we all love is attracting more fans than ever to Indy events. There has always been independent wrestling in the UK but the calibre of talent now available to view every week is unprecedented, in the last year alone Jack Gallagher, Noam Dar and Zack Sabre Jr have worked and singed for WWE. Now rising UK talent Pete Dunne, Tiger Ali, Tyler Bate, T-Bone and others who all appear for local promotions are due to take part in the first ever WWE UK Championship Tournament this month. As a reviewer of wrestling in the South West I want to take a look at the promotions raising the bar in the West Country.
Pro Wrestling Chaos
As Chaos enter their 4th year in existence they have quickly established themselves as one of the best promotions in the UK and a frontrunner in the South West. Bristol is their home and they more than any other company have sourced the best talent in the area, their roster is made up from workers within in a 50 mile radius, and they also bring in guys and girls from the infamous Dragon Pro Academy in Wales. In 2016 the promotional feud between Dave Mercy & Pariah Khan captured the hearts and minds of the fans, it delivered some fascinating moments that will live long in the memory. At the top of the card Wild Boar has raised the profile of the King of Chaos Championship, his series of matches with the top international stars have been exceptional, from his early year feud with Jeckel to a technical battle with Johnny Gargano and going to war with Sami Callihan, Boar’s year has been amazing with Chaos.
In and around the Championship scene is a collection of some of the best talent the UK has to offer, Mike Bird, Big Grizzly, Eddie Ryan and the recent debutant Jimmy Havoc are snapping at the heels of Wild Boar. With Havoc and Boar set to clash on 14/1, it is only a matter of time before the other names mentioned get their opportunity. Chaos also arguably have the best tag team in the country as their tag team champions, the Steele Dragons consisting of Eddie Dennis and Alex Steele always deliver. The Steele Dragons are due to clash with Chaos regulars Project Lucha on the 14/1, this will no doubt be another top notch display from both teams. Since leading the charge of Pariah Khan, Jeckel has been humiliated by Dave Mercy and the Chaos regulars, he looks however to turn the tide as he teams with Jetta against Gideon & Dragon Pro graduate Sierra Loxton. Chaos wrestling planted their flag firmly in the ground in 2016, and honestly I can see them sooner rather later putting on a show the size of Progress, Chapter 36.
The Swindon based promotion has taken the walk don’t run approach to establishing themselves as well run, hugely professional wrestling company. Their production values for an independent wrestling company are astonishing, arguably they may be one of best when it comes to putting on a show. The owner David Sharp is still on his journey of evolving 4FW year to year, he seems to always be looking for the next great venue, audience and talent to present. 4FW although occasionally bring in the odd international star, heavily promote their own academy trained talent, none more so than Saime Sahin and current 4FW Champion Tiger Ali. 2015 & 2016 have been exceptional years for the promotion, as well as bringing in talent such as Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio and Kenny Omega, they have done so well to establish their own talent.
2017 could be their biggest to date, they kick off their year on 20th Jan in Oxford, and they follow that up with first big show of the year ‘New Year Wrestleution’ at Swindon MECA in the 21st. With Cody Rhodes scheduled to appear and Tiger Ali defending his newly one 4FW championship the evening is setting up to be a great one. Talking of Tiger Ali, he is one of the performers in the WWE UK Championship tournament and there is no doubt that his work in 4FW has gone a long way to getting him noticed. Alongside him you will usually find RJ Singh and Rishi Ghosh, collectively they are known as the 3 Kings, and for the last 18 months they have run rampant in 4FW, right now they hold all the gold. In their ranks they’ve also got the highly talented Saime Sahin, who for the majority of last year was embroiled in a hostile feud with the 3 Kings. Saime along with JD Knight currently are the two top faces in the company, both have great ring presence and work well with the audience. Further down the card there is a plethora of talent eager to push on and build 4FW even bigger. If you attend a 4FW show I’m sure you want be disappointed, the talent always delivers and the production values are amazing.
Pro Evolution WrestlingGoing unnoticed or maybe not receiving the respect they deserve, ProEvo have over the last year raised their flag and are waving it vigorously. PrEvo has existed for over a decade, after experiencing the ups & downs of most companies they seemed in 2015 to really find their feet. Last year however they branched out and grabbed every opportunity they could, so much so that in March 2016 they put on their biggest show to date. Taking place at Gloucester’s GL1 Leisure Centre, they literally packed out the arena, there was close to 700 people in attendance. With their hardcore following and growing fan base there is no doubt that ProEvo is getting recognised as a real force in the South West. The majority of their roster, much like Chaos is made up from talent within the SW region, they also have the added bonus of being able to blood their young talent from the Academy. 2016 was a roaring success with more shows and young talent being established, most notably their Tag Team Champions the Fever.
They kick off 2017 with Iestyn Rees are their new Champion, he defeated Big Grizzly in December after the title became vacant, future WWE UK tournament competitor T-bone was the former champ. On March 25th they again return to GL1 for the Great Battle of Gloucester 3, it us sure to be another cracking event. As already mentioned the Fever has finally reached the top of the mountain, they valiantly defeated the brutal tag team consisting of Mike Bird and Wild Boar to achieve success, and they are a team to watch and one of the most entertaining acts in the area. Down the card Junior Heavyweight’s David Maddox, Matt Riddle and academy graduate Kid Candy bolster out a great midcard, they are all young talented guys looking to make their next move. ProEvo always attract great British talent for their shows, in the coming months Rampage, El Ligero and Nathan Cruz are all scheduled to appear. ProEvo has over the last year really established their promotion, from academy graduates to full time UK talent they produce their own style of wrestling, a company to keep an eye on.
Worthy mentions must go to ATTACK PRO, CSF, Dragon Pro & Pro Wrestling Pride.