PROGRESS Wrestling Events Calendar for Google Calendar (and others)

So I was…volunteered…recently to create a PROGRESS Wrestling Event Calendar to showcase all the events on Google Calendar (similar to how football teams have done). The hope is that once a year it’s updated with the show dates once known, that way if you’re planning holidays or less important things such as weddings you don’t book on the date of a PROGRESS show. It isn’t perfect (I’m sure I switch between 2 or 3 different times, and I haven’t included the shows for the end of 2017 I don’t think), but it should give you a rough idea of when PROGRESS have shows.

How to Install

Click here to download the ics file

Here’s how I’ve installed it in the systems I’ve used and tested with. Of course, I’m testing with systems I own.

Google Calendar

Click to download the file, and then go to Google Calendar, click “Settings” and then the “Calendars” tab. Create an empty calendar (call it PROGRESS Wrestling or something). Click Import Calendar. Browse to the file downloaded, upload it into the empty calendar created, and it should sync.

Android Phones

Download it and it should sync with your chosen Calendar App.

Apple Mac

Click to download the ics file. The file is downloaded, click to open it and it opens in Calendar for Apple Mac.

Questions?

I’m going to try and keep it up to date, but this is more of a labour of love rather than anything more than that, so please be patient (I run a business and have a day job too). But any questions (as well as any corrections) feel free to drop me an email and I’ll try and get back to you. Though to be honest I’m utterly crap at answering emails at the best of times. But yeah, this is a fan project, be sure to check out PROGRESS’ stuff as it’s mint.

Also if you want to buy me a drink (a few people have suggested it). Yeah, sure! Cheers! Mine’s usually a Tuborg. I don’t go to Camden Shows but usually in the shows up north.

Getting to 100

So, I had a realisation a few weeks back at The Kensite Stadium (home of the mighty Atherton Collieries FC) that I had been to a lot of football grounds. 94 in fact.

That’s quite a lot. Not as many as some, but a fair few, probably more than the average fan. Truth be told, the amount of football I’ve watched has dropped considerably, largely because Colwyn Bay FC have been poor the past few seasons (suffering two straight relegations after I waxed lyrical about their great escape a few years back), international football has been amazing (but there’s only a few games per year you can get to), and of course, love for the graps.

But, call me a bandwagon returner, but Colwyn Bay’s season has started…okay. We’ve looked pretty decent in parts, so I’ve turned my eye back to the old mistress that you never quite got over. But looking at the amount of grounds I’ve been to, there’s a fairly big number on the horizon.

100.

I’m currently on 94. After consulting with a friend it was decided that 5 didn’t count as I didn’t see a game there (Everton, Benfica, Bayern Munich, Anderlecht & Barcelona). As such, I’m on 89 as of time of writing.

I reckon I could hit 100 before the end of the season.

I worked out that I’m likely to hit 92 by Christmas (I’ve a wedding to go to and the day before is Chesterfield vs Morecambe, Hertha Berlin are playing in the Europa League when I visit Berlin, and a friend has invited me to New York Stadium to see Rotherham vs Shrewsbury Town). I reckon I could hit the last 8 before the end of the season.

There is one caveat to this though. Since most of England discovered that Ben Woodburn cannot play for them, Wales may qualify for the World Cup. It’d be quite nice if my 100th ground was actually in Russia seeing Wales play in a World Cup final, now, wouldn’t it?

But that’ll be known long before the end of the season. We’ll jump that hurdle when we get to it. But yes. 100 football grounds before the end of the season. Let’s go!

My Top 3 Professional Wrestling Matches of 2016

This year has been a great year for professional wrestling. It has seen the increase of the popularity of the UK Scene, as well as WWE being equally brilliant and poor, but overall this year has been great, with more great matches than any time I can remember.

I saw a fair amount of wrestling in 2016. Not as much as I would like, but a decent number. I mainly achieved a personal goal of mine and ended up going to Wrestlemania. Though the matches on that card weren’t the best, there were other shows that put on great matches. Of the year, here are my 3 favourite matches of 2016. This list are matches that I saw live (rather than those that I saw on TV). Remember, this is a list, so is subjective. If your opinions differ, then good for you!

3. James Drake vs. Fabien Aichner: PROGRESS Chapter 37 – A Sudden Sense of Liberty

There had to be a PROGRESS match on the list (PROGRESS being my favourite promotion of 2016), and rest assured that if this list had been a list of 5 or 10, then more PROGRESS matches would be present. However it isn’t, and it was a toss up between Adam Cole vs Will Ospreay at PROGRESS Chapter 40: Intercepted Angel, and this one.

Why Drake vs. Aichner got this nod is because whilst Cole vs. Ospreay was always going to be good (both talents get plaudits the world over), this was unexpectedly great. Drake is a relative unknown in PROGRESS, and Aichner was making his PROGRESS debut, his only previous appearance for me was in a losing effort against PROGRESS Alumnus Jack Gallagher in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic.

This match was great, Aichner displaying a STUPIDLY GOOD top rope plancha, and whilst not a “flippy shit” match, what was done was done incredibly well. This was the show after PROGRESS Brixton that saw 3 of its most recognisable stars leave for the WWE. The show felt like it could be a hangover from Brixton, but this match cemented (and the show going forward) that the London based promotion was in good hands going forward.

You can watch this match by subscribing to Demand PROGRESS.

2. Mike Quackenbush vs. Johnny Kidd – Chikara: The Chamber of Secrets

Be a wrestling fan for any length of time (even shorter if you are involved in any way), and you start seeing the same storylines crop up over and over again. I pretty much predicted the ITV World of Sport TV Taping after the first match, wrestling can be obvious to the jaded fan. It makes sense, for casual fans having an easy to follow storyline increases the entertainment value, but for us, it can be predictable. Watch the ending of the first few Royal Rumbles to see it – 2 bad guys vs 1 good guy, and the good guy wins. Overcome the odds, if you will.

Which is why when something you have never seen before drags you in.

It requires some luck and clever booking. In this match, long time British Wrestler Johnny Kidd was wrestling his last match (actually his last but one match, but I didn’t know this, so go with it) against owner of Chikara & special attraction Mike Quackenbush. Both I’ve never seen fight before, and this match was under Admiral-Lord Mountevans Rules. For those of you who are unaware, it’s 2 out of 3 falls, with rounds, and with a time limit. It’s more similar to boxing than WWE.

What was to happen? The match had a time limit, with 8, 3-minute rounds, and as the match was 1 fall a piece, it introduced another variable to the match foreign to those who are used to the WWE style – the possibility of a draw.

The story was simple, could Johnny Kidd win his last match before retiring? As the match went on, the rounds would tick down, the crowd getting more into it and Kidd becoming more desperate, with Quackenbush holding on. In the end, well, go and watch it. It’s worth half an hour of your time.

This was a great piece of storytelling that was accentuated by both Kidd & Quackenbush’s in-ring skills.

You can watch this match by subscribing to CHIKARAtopia.

1. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn – NXT Takeover: Dallas

So here’s the thing. WWE talk about “I was there” a lot. The notion that buying a ticket even to a house show means that you will witness history. Admittedly watching a house show or even a Monday Night Raw means that your history may be Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler for the 290th time, but they trade on it a lot.

At Wrestlemania, whilst the card was underwhelming, for most of the year I thought that I’d get to see The Undertaker’s last match (a winning effort inside Hell in a Cell against Shane McMahon), but it sounds like he will be returning for a future match, probably at Wrestlemania. So my “Historical Moment” took place earlier on in the weekend.

The WWE Debut of Shinsuke Nakamura.

NXT Dallas was my first experience of the Wrestlemania weekend, a build up of a week that saw wrestling fans meet up, share drinks and stories, and generally get hyped up before the main card on the Sunday.

NXT was the amuse bouche, in front of 4,000 of the most passionate fans. Slotted in the card towards the end saw Sami Zayn – an NXT stalwart – face the debuting star from Japan.

Here’s the thing, I’ve not been familiar with Nakamura, who is a superstar in his native country, but after this match I became a huge fan. A hard hitting style, and Freddy-Mercury levels of charisma, meant that his matches have become a much watch. Zayn did his part too, in a true babyface vs babyface, as Zayn eventually lost the match, doing the honours in his final match. Nakamura’s oh so catchy instant classic music ended first, before Zayn received plaudits from the 4,000 strong crowd before becoming full time on the main roster.

At the beginning of the match I wasn’t aware of Nakamura’s skills. By the end of the match, I wanted to be Shinsuke Nakamura when I grew up.

You can watch this match on the WWE Network.

Anyway, these are my 3 favourite matches of 2016. What are yours? Leave them in the comments!

Suplex Apparel Mystery Box Unboxing

A few weeks ago, I purchased a Suplex Apparel mystery box. I am a huge fan of Suplex Apparel clothing, as it’s a wrestling brand of clothing that you can wear out around town and not be embarrassed. There are so many terrible wrestling shirts out there (seriously, just read this article, though it misses the “Va-Chyna” t-shirt), but these aren’t amongst them. Let’s assume I’m a bastion of fashion knowledge with that last statement!

So they had a mystery box deal recently which was a little more expensive than the mystery boxes I usually review here (£35.99), but had at least 3 or 4 items in it.

So what was this box like? Well, here’s my video review.

Suplex Apparel Mystery Box Thoughts

Overall, I was absolutely delighted with this box. I love the joggers, and they have become my wear around the house trousers, when I’m feeling lazy. The t-shirts are superb too and wear them regularly.

This was only a short period of time, but you can see their current range (and sign up to the newsletter) on the Suplex Apparel site.

Je ne veux pas aller travailler – What Being Welsh at Euro 2016 Meant to Me

Last Wednesday night, I cried myself to sleep.

I’ve been getting a little emotional in my advancing years, as films and even the John Lewis adverts at Christmas have seen me well up, but the last time I cried before last Wednesday was when a relationship I was in went past the point of no return and broke down. It may be strange to compare the break down of a relationship to the fairly trivial nature of Wales’ defeat to Portugal in the semi finals, but you need to understand what the Euro 2016 meant to me, as one of the many Welshman and women who got caught up with the euphoria along the way.

This was my third campaign as a paid member of the Welsh qualification campaign. The first was largely a damp squib, both in terms of fun and results, but by the second campaign I began making friends as well as see an upturn in results in Scotland and Belgium.

It was then I began to understand exactly what Wales away was. It was not an old, stuffy movement from a bygone era. This was new Wales, young fans exploring far off destinations and bringing smiles in exchange for beer in exchange for pounds. Singing and chatting about all sorts of subjects, and people from Wales (and beyond) congregating in a location outside the borders to have a good time.

Cyprus, where the wheels were prepared to be put on the bandwagon
Cyprus, where the wheels were prepared to be put on the bandwagon

In short, it was a holiday, that had the small inconvenience of football half way through. But unlike bygone eras where Brits were tarnished with hooligan elements, this was different. Fists were replaced with songs. Europop was embraced (more on that later), and pints were shared with our European cousins in bars all over Europe.

This manifested itself in the campaign that – after 58 years – Wales finally qualified. Chris Coleman commented first of all that there were some really good trips on this draw first and foremost, and at the beginning of the 2016 campaign I also looked at myself. Whilst happy and enjoying them, this may be my last one.

The lead up to the campaign had so many great moments for me. From the first game in Andorra which saw us gatecrash the hotel with the Andorra national side in, to the Belgium game where Zombie Nation became a thing, to the Cyprus game whereby it was a week lounging by the pool and we developed a new found love for beach volleyball due to the European Championships taking place in Larnaca, this campaign had so many great memories. Memories that I would look back on with fondness, even if we haven’t had qualified.

The other thing quite crucially about this campaign was that it was a release. A bit of a constant in my life when things weren’t great outside of it. 2015 wasn’t a great year for me, I had illness in the family, setbacks professionally and break ups. My regular cruxes were not there, my only constant though was the activity on the #walesaway hashtag, that got busier and busier in the build up to games.  I smiled, even though I wasn’t in Tel Aviv or Godknowswhere in Bosnia for some games, as I enjoyed being part of something. That’s what this team, buoyed by the words “Together Stronger” meant to me. We were together, and by God we were stronger when we qualified.

wales-5

The truth is though we didn’t care about the results, as we were there. We were part of the bunting, the Panini stickers, and the write ups. People have to talk about us, because we are good enough to be there, but we weren’t sure how long.

In the run up to France results weren’t great though. I attended one friendly (a rare game in Cardiff that saw us lose 3-2 to The Netherlands), and whilst we impressed without Bale or Ramsay, we did seem a little off. Other results weren’t that great, such as a 3-0 demolition by Sweden, so I’d be lying if I said a part of me was convinced we were going to France to make up the numbers. I didn’t care. I had tickets for all 3 group games, so I was happy just to see my team play in a major tournament. It would be nice to see us score at least one goal though.

wales-2

So we arrived in Bordeaux, and we partied and celebrated in a friendly way with our new friends. I talked about it in length but we actually won a game. This began probably the greatest adventure of our lives. Sure we then lost to a very disappointing England team, but the bigger result for me that day was Northern Ireland beating Ukraine. That meant that – at the very least – we would not be the worst team in the tournament.

wales-3

After a fairly quiet Lens/Lille trip that saw me stay in the town of Kortrijk, that saw many a night gathered in the hotel bar watching the 9pm kick off game, we headed to Toulouse for the final game for me. There, despite being a vox pop for Sky News, I saw probably the most dominating performance Wales have produced in my lifetime.

Russia was another disappointment, as 12 years ago I remember us go out to Russia in controversial circumstances, this time there was no performance enhancing drugs, Wales attacked Russia over and over in a game that I didn’t want to end. It was so impressive, as somebody who had before that game not seen Wales win by more than one goal. With the England vs. Slovakia game going to a draw we topped the group. Not only were we not the worst team in the tournament, we were also the best in the group.

wales-8

France ended for me after that game, as I needed to head home. Others were far more creative than me in filling out their holiday request forms and stayed out there. The next game against Northern Ireland however for me was the most muted. I’m not sure why, whether it was post Brexit (and the post Brexit hangover where we called half the country words I couldn’t possibly repeat here), whether it was the performance where we weren’t the best team on the pitch, whether it was the fact that I knew some great Northern Irish friends and the way they were eliminated was so cruel. I just didn’t enjoy it. We weren’t the worst team from Britain in the tournament.

It was fun whilst it lasted....
It was fun whilst it lasted….

That being said, neither was Northern Ireland. England were eliminated against Iceland (WHICH WAS NOT FUNNY IN THE SLIGHTEST) and suddenly we were the sole home nation representative. Next was Belgium.

Oh, Belgium.

Whilst Russia was the most fun game I’ve seen, this was special. I’ve never seen a performance like it from Wales. We were so good. So, so good. This should have been our final but it wasn’t. Wales were clinical, and played so well against the second best team in the world. It produced one of my favourite pieces of audio when Iain Macintosh waxing lyrical about the Welsh side 2 minutes in. This was the same country that got battered to Moldova, folks.

Not bad for a "boring" tournament
Not bad for a “boring” tournament

Sadly, the next round saw Wales finally be beaten by Portugal, and the tears flowed from me. Not because we lost, just because the journey I had been on for the last 2 years was over.

wales-7

This campaign saw me grow as a person, and it has been a stable point of my life that has seen a fair bit of change. The tournament itself was incredibly happy time for the vast majority of Welshmen and Women, and with the country being all over the place right now and so much hatred being directed towards non Brits, I’m happy to have added a bunch of Europeans to my Facebook friends list. I also surprised myself how much French I learned (even getting complimented) and on my table I have a copy of L’Equipe bought after the Russian game which I’m able to understand to at least a basic level.

I am not the only one, as the most common sentence said to me by a group of my friends towards me in the last 3 weeks have been prefixed with the words “I’m not a football fan but…”, with people genuinely happy that I was having the time of my life. I was just happy sharing one element of my life that has been so important to me in the last 2 and a bit years. However, like all good things, times must end.

If that’s not worth crying for, I don’t know what is.