On March 20th, at PROGRESS Wrestling’s big Chapter 130: Dodge, Dip, Duck, Dive, Dodge show, the much-anticipated title vs. title match between PROGRESS World Heavyweight Champion Cara Noir and ROH Original Title holder Jonathan Gresham saw a big title change as ‘The Octopus’ claimed the gold after interference from Spike Trivet took Cara out with a chair, allowing Gresham to get the win.
The change is big news, especially when you consider that it finally ends Cara Noir’s super-dominant title reign, beginning as it did over two years ago on January 19th 2020. Not only were fans treated to a great match, I genuinely believe Gresham’s win could be best for PROGRESS business moving forward.
For starters, Gresham is the first PROGRESS World Champion who doesn’t hail from either the UK or Europe. While I don’t subscribe to ‘the best talent is American talent’ argument, the title change does show that PROGRESS has reached a point where its door is open to a wider range of international talent and therefore theoretically a wider range of international opportunities. The wider market you have to work with, the more possibilities there are for a promotion to play with, a very desirable position to be in indeed.
Furthermore, with Jonathan Gresham being the ROH Original Title holder, the potential is there, should Gresham bring the belt out at shows with him, to bring PROGRESS attention from a wider audience. Yes, PROGRESS is pretty well known, and it gets massive exposure from having its shows available to stream on the WWE Network, but there may be fans who avoid PROGRESS because of their connection with WWE. There are also, unfortunately, fans who are cynical about British Wrestling and dismiss it as ‘indy’ and not as professional as so-called mainstream wrestling. The representation of a well-respected wrestler as Gresham as the company’s figurehead may lead previously sceptical fans to check PROGRESS out and actually become new fans and regular viewers.
Gresham offers a wide range of visibility too. Not only does he appear for PROGRESS, but he also has been wrestling regularly for Impact Wrestling, GCW and his own Terminus promotion. And then there’s the ROH question. We know now that Tony Khan has bought the company and that he has made reference to some kind of future TV product, suggesting ROH will be an ongoing concern as an in-ring product, rather than just a tape library and a brand only. We know, pre-contract releases, that Gresham was about to become the man who was to be the new figurehead to lead the promotion. We know Gresham is to main event Supercard of Honor on April 1st. But where does Gresham go from there? Assuming Tony Khan signs him to be a major part of his new ROH going forward, could we see Gresham with the PROGRESS title on regular Tony Khan-produced programming? While it might seem unlikely thanks to PROGRESS’ relationship with WWE, it has also been said that WWE has no control over PROGRESS’ booking. Getting PROGRESS acknowledged on Khan programming would be a major boon in terms of exposure.
Then there’s a question of other talents following Gresham to PROGRESS. If other top-line former ROH talent such as Bandido, Rhett Titus, Chris Dickinson and Dragon Lee see how Gresham is respected and booked in the UK by PROGRESS, might they find it attractive to attempt the same kind of move? That would further direct attention to PROGRESS and open up fresh opportunities for top-line matches for the company. It would certainly be the Forbidden Door in action, and talking of Forbidden Doors, PROGRESS Women’s Champion Gisele Shaw has recently made her debut for Impact while still being very much a part of PROGRESS. Gresham, of course, wrestles for Impact. Could we see Impact talent return the favour and appear in the UK? Eric Young is due to appear in the UK in spring, although not for Impact. Could the likes of Deonna Purrazzo and Josh Alexander be joining him soon?
Speaking of other promotions, the title change here suggests another opportunity for another promotion—this time for Cara Nora in WWE. We know the current WWE NXT UK Champion Ilya Dragunov confronted Cara Noir at Chapter 128, and we know that Cara and Ilya have previous history together in PROGRESS. However, Cara Noir doesn’t have anything Ilya wants now. But Cara might just want something Ilya wants. See, if there’s no reason for Ilya to come to PROGRESS now, could we see Care come to NXT UK to confront Ilya for his belt? It would be a massive signing for NXT UK and would help to freshen up their main event scene.
One title change and so many possibilities. This is why I love wrestling!
Congratulations to Jonathan Gresham on his title victory.