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PROGRESS Wrestling sold, returning with live shows in 2022

PROGRESS Wrestling will return to live shows under new ownership in 2022.

It was announced on Friday that British wrestling promotion PROGRESS Wrestling has been sold to Lee McAteer and Martyn Best. The two are associate directors of English Football League Two soccer team Tranmere Rovers, and McAteer is the founder and former CEO of the company Wrestling Travel.

After running empty arena events since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, PROGRESS will return in front of fans at the Electric Ballroom in London on Sunday, January 23. The show, which is titled PROGRESS Chapter 127:'… and the word was PROGRESS,' will be headlined by Cara Noir defending his PROGRESS World Championship against Chris Ridgeway in a first-to-three falls match.

PROGRESS was founded in 2011 by Jim Smallman and Jon Briley, with the two later being joined by Glen Robinson (who went by the name Glen Joseph). Smallman departed the company in 2019. Robinson left in 2020 amid the #SpeakingOut movement, with a new management team being introduced as a response to #SpeakingOut.

PROGRESS has also announced that they will hold shows in Manchester on Sunday, February 6 and the Electric Ballroom on Sunday, February 20. Jonathan Gresham will be in action at the Manchester show.

PROGRESS shows air on Peacock/WWE Network.

WhatCulture's Simon Miller will be the new host of PROGRESS Wrestling. 

The full press release announcing the sale is available below:

(London, England) PROGRESS Wrestling, the world’s leading independent professional wrestling company confirms that they will return to live shows in 2022 under brand new ownership, heralding an exciting new dawn in the history of the UK’s most exciting wrestling promotion.

PROGRESS Chapter 127: ' … and the word was PROGRESS' will take place at the spiritual home of PROGRESS, The Electric Ballroom in Camden, London on Sunday 23rd January 2022.  The show will be main-evented by PROGRESS World Champion, Cara Noir defending his coveted title against Liverpool’s Chris Ridgeway in a first-to-three falls bout.

This return to live shows will come with new owners at the helm of PROGRESS Wrestling. The company has been purchased by Lee McAteer and Martyn Best, directors of English Football League Two stalwarts Tranmere Rovers FC. McAteer and Best will bring their wealth of business and sporting experience to bear to ensure PROGRESS returns strongly to live events and builds upon the success of the past.

McAteer, previously dubbed by various media outlets as 'Britain’s Best Boss' by mainstream media, will be well known to wrestling fans already as the founder and former CEO of Wrestling Travel which has quickly become a fond presence among wrestling fan culture, growing enormously since being founded in 2017. He was also founder and CEO of AmeriCamp and Invasion Camp Group.

Best served as the chairman of Everton Tigers, one of the most successful professional clubs in British basketball history and has developed a wide range of other successful business interests.

As well as the 23rd January event, PROGRESS have confirmed an exciting line-up of events further into 2022. The promotion will return to Manchester on Sunday 6th February with a show featuring current Ring of Honor World Champion, Jonathan Gresham. They will then return to the Electric Ballroom on Sunday 20th February, with a line-up that is sure to wow PROGRESS fans new and old. Many further dates around the UK will be confirmed soon.

McAteer said: 'We are really excited to have acquired PROGRESS Wrestling and wish to place on record our thanks to the previous ownership for having developed such a distinctive wrestling promotion. A feat that must never go unacknowledged. Besty (Martyn) and I are very excited with the opportunity that we now have as the world hopefully returns to normality to re-establish PROGRESS at the position it deserves, as the leading name in British professional wrestling and beyond. 

 'Our intention is to reaffirm the word professional into professional wrestling for what is literally a new chapter for not only PROGRESS, but the entire British Wrestling scene.

 Best added, 'I am hugely looking forward to continuing the story of PROGRESS Wrestling with Lee. We have been directors of Tranmere Rovers for a number of years and our collective experience within UK sport and business generally will bring an added dimension to the promotion that will enable it to scale new heights in the coming years.  

 'We would also like to place on record our thanks to the PROGRESS team who have helped keep the show on the road over the past 18 months and to our talent who have continued to provide great wrestling despite difficult circumstances. And… of course to the patience and loyalty of all of our fans.'

 Another new name joining Team PROGRESS is Simon Miller who will act as the host of the promotion’s events. Miller has established himself as one of the most influential voices in British wrestling over the last few years due to his growing body of in-ring presence and his hugely successful work with WhatCulture Wrestling on social media.

Alex McCarthy, TalkSPORT’s lead on wrestling coverage said 'The return of PROGRESS Wrestling under new ownership and to live events is fantastic news for UK wrestling. PROGRESS has been a pillar of the British indies and maybe even the leading promotion within the UK prior to the start of the pandemic. 

'Having known Lee for many years, I have no doubt that he and Martyn will bring a new energy and enthusiasm to the promotion and I’m excited to see that reflected in the product. I have to say, I am particularly delighted that Simon Miller is going to be the new ring host, too. With a fresh start and their house in order, it will be an exciting time for PROGRESS - I wish them all the very best of luck.'

In the spirit of new beginnings, tickets for the January 23rd event will go on sale the moment the clock strikes midnight tonight (31st December 2021) to herald the start of the new year and a new chapter for PROGRESS Wrestling. Tickets will be available from www.dice.fm or on the Dice smartphone app.

Further announcements about the event will be made in the coming days as they complete their exciting line-ups.