There are hundreds and hundreds of independent wrestling companies that operate on a day in and day out basis not only here in the United States but the entire world. It takes a lot for a single promotion to rise up and distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack; most of the time in order to do so you have to have either high profile talent, a considerable amount of cash flow, or some combination of the two. But Progress has put itself on the map with not only big time players in the independent wrestling scene (people like Darby Allin, Jordynne Grace, and Will Ospreay) but they are also playing host to some of the best home-grown competitors that the isles of the UK has to offer. Not only do they have the love and support of the fans but also some of the biggest wrestling promotions in the world. They have most notably drawn the attention of WWE and New Japan Pro Wrestling, not only have WWE through their developmental brand NXT lent talent to Jim Smallman and Progress but Progress has put some of their own wrestlers on NXT television as a result of that partnership.
Take for example Tyler Bate, Pete Dunne, and Trent Seven; the collective known as British Strong Style. Before they ran NXT UK they were considered some of the best heels in Progress. Pete Dunne as the heavyweight champ and Mustache Mountain as the tag team champions who also served the purpose of insuring Dunne walked out with the belt at the end of show. They would cut wild CM Punk-esque promos where they would threaten the fans and company with “signing big money contracts to Orlando”, rob the fans of marquee worthy matches and just generally be uncouth to both Jim Smallman and the fans. Eventually BSS would see the light and turn face to the delight of everyone and started attacking other heel factions such as the No Fun Police and others, proving that they are just as capable on the babyface side of the equation as they are on the heel side.
It just isn’t the talent that makes Progress stand out however… their storytelling is absolutely remarkable. Just look at the first real major storyline they portrayed, the story of one Jimmy Havoc; this was a story that was laid out over a year in advance of the company even launching. It was a three year arc that was meant to see the fall, rise, and eventual fall again of Havoc, the idea at the start was to have Havoc act on social media as if Progress wouldn’t book him for a show cause they thought he was “just a deathmatch wrestler”. This had everyone fooled, to the point that promoters around the world telling Jim Smallman to book Jimmy, eventually Havoc would get to step foot in a Progress ring and fail…miserably, again and again until Jim stepped in to tell Havoc that he really needed to move on from this venture. This would cause Havoc to snap mentally and attack everyone in sight, over time Jimmy went from being loved and cherished as the lovable loser to being one of the most hated men in England. 600+ days as the Progress champ would blaze a trail for the company to succeed, people would pay money by the boatload to see if this would finally be the day Havoc would fall. This was all started in 2012, with a social media strategy that is not too out of place in the twitter heavy world of 2019.
That I believe is what sets this company apart from others, they are ahead of the curve on stuff like streaming platforms (with a wonderful price for the amount of content at about $7.49 a month), social media, and even fan interaction. There is a lot that the WWEs and NJPWs of the world could learn from what this company does on a fortnightly basis, and they keep themselves from getting stale by not being on every week at a certain time. Even better Progress and by extension their fans are very open and welcoming, even to new fans; and that helps fosters the growth that the company has seen, especially over the past few years thanks to the partnerships they’ve forged. Honestly there is so much they have to offer the wrestling world at large, and some of the biggest stars of today and tomorrow have Progress and Jim Smallman to thank for giving them some sort of break in the industry. I absolutely urge you to check them out if at all possible, it is worth your while and you’ll find some truly wonderful stuff there.