Since the WWE’s U.K. tournament, more eyes than ever are focused on British wrestling. From what I’ve seen, a lot of people are realizing something that we at Last Word On Pro Wrestling already knew. That Progress is the bee’s knees. For those of you that are just now getting to know the product (what took you?), blast Enter Sandman and enjoy my list of all ten Progress World Champions.
Ranking the Progress World Champions
Warning. Every single thing about professional wrestling is subjective, and that includes this list. This is just my list of the Progress World Champions, yours could be completely different. If you have a different order, or just want to disobey the one rule of Progress, the comment section is at the bottom of the page, and I’d be happy to hear from you!
10. Mark Andrews
Mark Andrews has made a name for himself as the Sami Zayn of Progress. From the minute his theme hits to the end of the match, everyone watching and in attendance is in for a wild ride. However, he can’t seem to win the big one. He just seems like a cool, relatable guy, and his in-ring style is a blast.
However, Andrews was only ever Progress World Champion once, and for less than a day. After defeating Paul Robinson to win Progress’ first ever Natural Progression Series, Andrews was gifted the right to challenge for a championship match whenever he wanted. Andrews, being the cheeky duck that he is, decided to challenge then-champion, Rampage Brown, right away.
After an awesome match, Andrews was finally able to become Progress World Champion. Unfortunately, he was forced into his third match in a row, after being beaten down, and he lost the staff.
But more on that later.
Despite the fact that Mark Andrews was only champion for a moment, he absolutely deserved every second of it. He’s one of Progress’ brightest young stars, and he’ll have another run with the title before it’s all said and done.
9. Pastor William Eaver
In what is either wrestling’s best or most offensive gimmick, Pastor William Eaver is basically wrestling Jesus. Much like Andrews, the Pastor won the Natural Progression Series, and earned the right to challenge for a championship whenever he wanted.
Then-Champion Marty Scurll had just successfully retained his title by stealing a win from Tommy (Tommy, Tommy F- I probably shouldn’t finish that here) End, after literally turning the lights off and rolling him up with his foot on the ropes.
The Progress crowd was understandably upset, and so was End, who hit him with his nasty spin-kick. As the exhausted Scurll lay on his back, the Pastor’s music (the Marilyn Manson cover of Personal Jesus, by the way) hit, and the crowd went nuts.
He cashed in and was able to defeat Scurr to become Progress World Champion. This was one of the best moments in Progress history, but sadly, the Pastor’s title run was short-lived. At the next chapter, Scurll was able to re-gain his title, becoming the only two-time Progress World Champion.
8. Mark Haskins
Mark Haskins is arguably the most popular wrestler in Progress. It doesn’t seem like he was supposed to be, but it’s undeniable that the already raucous Progress crowd absolutely loses their marbles when he comes out. Hell, some people call him Mr. Progress. Haskins was the one to finally unseat Marty Scurll, so why so low on this list?
Unfortunately, he didn’t get to be Progress World Champion for very long. He was able to successfully retain his championship against Zack Gibson, but he was hurt in the process. His injury couldn’t have come at a worse time, and he was forced to vacate the title a mere two chapters after he won it.
7. El Ligero
Despite his namesake, El Ligero is English, and it seems like he’s wrestled for just about every English promotion. A veteran of the squared circle, Ligero has actually been wrestling since 2001, and he helped bring some legitimacy to Progress in it’s earliest days. He held the championship for four chapters before dropping it to the next person on this list.
Ligero and Nathan Cruz were part of arguably Progress’ first real storyline, as he pursued Cruz and the Progress Championship, eventually winning it at Chapter Four, aptly named “The Ballad of El Ligero”.
6. Rampage Brown
Rampage Brown is another one of those guys that has really helped bring the English wrestling scene along. In fact, Rampage is the only wrestler in the world that can say he has held the Progress World and Atlas Championships. He’s been a fantastic wrestler for Progress, and only one man has held the belt longer than he has.
5. Nathan Cruz
Nathan Cruz earns the number five spot because he was the very first Progress World Champion. He defeated Marty Scurll, El Ligero, and Mike Mason to win the staff for the very first time, and held onto the belt for 245 days before dropping the staff to the aforementioned Ligero.
4. Marty Scurll
Marty Scurll is part of the British invasion. He’s been Ring of Honor’s Television Champion since last November, and his Villain gimmick is wildly popular. He’s been coming on strong in the indy circuit, even winning PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles tournament in 2016. But did you know that Scurll is a Progress original?
Sure, he’d wrestled for other companies, but when you name the wrestlers that have helped build Progress, you can’t ignore the Villain. He’s been there since the very beginning, participating in the Progress’ very first chapter. He debuted as “Party Marty” and slowly but surely evolved into the umbrella-wielding heel we love to hate today.
Scurll is the only two-time Progress Wrestling Champion, and as such, earned a high profile spot on his list. Don’t be surprised if you keep hearing Scurll’s name though, as the villain and his chicken wing are still just getting started.
3. Will Ospreay
Will Ospreay, like Marty Scurll, is a guy that’s making waves all over the professional wrestling world. He’s competing in Progress, Ring of Honor, and even New Japan Pro Wrestling. Without getting too much into a big storyline, Ospreay ended the longest title reign in Progress history. The man he beat was reviled and had been terrorizing Progress for over 600 days before Ospreay stopped him.
That alone would’ve earned him a high spot on this list, but then again, even his reign was spectacular. He finally exercized his demons by retaining against Mark Andrews, and was Progress World Champion when the promotion had their first show outside of London. Ospreay is destined for great things in the world of pro wrestling, but he can’t forget where he started.
2. Pete Dunne
Some might say that the current Progress World Champion, the Bruiserweight, Pete Dunne, is ranked too high on this list. Cruz was the first champion, Scurll is the only multiple time champion, Mark Haskins gets a meteoric pop every time he shows up on Progress, and Will Ospreay is making waves all over the world.
The reason that Pete Dunne is ranked so high is this. He, Tyler Bate, and Trent Seven are the faces of the British revolution. Thanks in part to the WWE’s U.K. tournament, more and more fans are checking out British wrestling, and namely, Progress.
Dunne, as well as the rest of British Strong Style are ruling Progress at the moment, and blowing up all over the world. Dunne was able to get over as a serious heel in WWE’s tournament without a ton of promo or air time. He’s just so talented, and the “Progress is just a stepping stone to WWE” gimmick is absolutely brilliant.
For helping to usher in the next era of Progress, Dunne earns a very high spot on this list. However, the minute you read this headline, it was blatantly obvious who number one was going to be.
1. Jimmy Havoc
It’s obvious, right? Absolutely nobody else could’ve held this role. Jimmy Havoc‘s run as the Progress World Champion remains the biggest and best storyline the young promotion has pulled off. Havoc’s heel turn and subsequent 609 day reign as Progress World Champion are two of the finest examples of excellent booking I’ve seen in recent memory.
Jimmy Havoc lost his first six matches with Progress. He always tried his best, and even attempted to resist his penchant for death-match wrestling. But no matter what, he came up short. At Chapter Nine, Havoc rushed to the aid of Progress owner, Jim Smallman, as he was being attacked by tag team, the London Riots.
As Smallman was talking about how Havoc represented the ideals of Progress, he turned heel, smashing Smallman with a chair. Frustrated by all of his losses, Havoc aligned himself with the London Riots, claiming that he did everything management wanted him to do while the Riots did everything they wanted to do.
But things really got interesting in Chapter 10. As you may recall, this was the show where Mark Andrews beat Paul Robinson and Rampage Brown in the same night. Well, it was Jimmy Havoc that came out and took the staff from Andrews. A couple of chapters back, in a YouTube video, Smallman gave Havoc a contract saying he could have any match, anywhere, with any stipulation.
Havoc decided that he wanted a match, right there, for the Progress World Championship. Smallman initially refused, but then Havoc continued to beat down on Andrews, before threatening to light him on fire. Eventually Smallman gave in, and even had to count the pinfall for Havoc.
Eventually, Paul Robinson and “The Omega” Isaac Zerger joined forces with Havoc and the Riots to form Regression. For the next 600 days, Regression would help Havoc retain the Progress Championship as he tormented and haunted Smallman. Eventually, it would be Will Ospreay that would steal the win, but not before a ton of fantastic matches and creepy heel work.