“It’s not dead, it’s resting!” – a mangled Monty Python quote, that could be used to describe the hotbed of independent wrestling that was the British scene.

You don’t need me to tell you that the British scene isn’t what it was. Not by a long shot. The Internet-driven glory days that saw PROGRESS draw 4,750 fans to Wembley Arena, two years after ICW packed over 6,000 fans into the Hydro in Glasgow… they’re long gone. Sure, Rev Pro drew over 4,000 to the Copperbox last year, but that was an outlier in terms of big crowds for the “fashionable” promotions.

A lot has changed on the British scene in the last few years – all of which left their mark. The most obvious one was the pandemic and the associated shutdowns that came with it. Speaking Out left a lasting mark among some fans, with reputations rightly scarred as fans looked for other avenues of entertainment, while some promotions simply didn’t return. The third change was WWE’s attempted influence.

We’re just over a year removed from PROGRESS and ICW having been removed from the WWE Network and Peacock, by way of their agreements with WWE having expired… coincidentally, just months after the NXT UK brand itself was shuttered in favor of the yet-to-materialize NXT Europe. While PROGRESS and ICW still run shows, they’re nowhere near their previous peaks, with both companies having had a change of ownership since, and are in what could charitably be described as various stages of a rebuilding job.

PROGRESS gave themselves a self-inflicted black eye among some fans by publicly bringing Paul Robinson back into the fold last year – as part of a package to get Will Ospreay to take part in last year’s Super Strong Style 16 tournament. Ospreay’s first match back in PROGRESS since March 2019 saw him overcome Tate Mayfairs in front of a crowd of 205 people at the Dome in Tufnell Park, London – far from a capacity crowd – while the remainder of his weekend didn’t seem to get that much buzz on social media, especially compared to his outings in many other promotions throughout 2023.

As for ICW, they’ve avoided bringing in any implicated names since their comeback, but they’re a far cry from those heady days at the Hydro. Opting to reformat their output, ICW’s Fight Club series wrapped up in December 2023 – ending a near-nine-year run that included the obligatory closed-set shows (much like wXw) that ended up airing on the WWE Network. These days though, having taken their new shows onto Triller+ (while slowly adding their back catalog there following Pivotshare’s sudden closure), what’s left of ICW feels like a husk of what they were, with this past January’s recent monthly special “Double Down” pulling in an estimated 80 fans, per Cagematch. EIGHTY. Granted, that’s a sell-out for the venue they’re running, but still…

Much further south below Hadrian’s Wall, PROGRESS’ crowds don’t quite induce the same amount of collar tugs, although away from London, there have been some before-and-after shots of just how packed venues used to be – while voids have opened up around the scene as promotions disappeared for one reason or another. Perhaps the most notable one was Fight Club Pro, who never returned after accusations were leveled against the promotion during Speaking Out. While Ireland’s OTT has run Fight Club Pro’s old venue, nothing has taken its spot, especially at that perceived level of promotion.

Similarly, in London, while no major promotions have disappeared, the closure of the Resistance Gallery has been a major loss for the scene in the capital. Battle Pro Wrestling (a promotion that, like Fight Club Pro, has disappeared after allegations during Speaking Out), went down as the final company to run a show at the Bethnal Green venue, which was capable of holding around 150 people when packed solid.

Pro Wrestling EVE was perhaps the most prominent group affected by the closure of the “ResGal”, in 2020 alone EVE, Lucha Britannia, London Lucha League, and the International Wrestling League (along with the aforementioned Battle Pro) all ran there – impressive when you consider no wrestling ran there after March 14. Other promotions like Wrestling League, Head Drop, Southside, Project W, and IPW also ran there – and while this is more correlation than causation, the fact that half of the former ResGal promotions no longer run should be a sign. Without smaller venues, smaller promotions simply can’t afford to run.

This takes us to the last ingredient in the heady cocktail that was the heyday of British wrestling – and that was the parts of the scene that brought in imports. Granted, they weren’t the biggest piece of the pie, but they certainly contributed, and in the current scene where a mixture of increased costs and increased number of contracts has reduced the availability of fly-ins, it’s certainly a loss that’s noticeable. But is it a piece of the puzzle that’s needed in 2024?

While AEW does let “their guys” out to play on the indies, it’s not a common occurrence – and British promotions have learned to cut their cloth a little better. 1PW aside, you’ve not had anyone fill the void left when Southside closed its doors, but that’s not to say that the family-friendly, “foam finger” crowds have gone away, far from it.

The likes of Megaslam continue to regularly pull in bigger audiences away from the eyes and social media feeds of most of the Internet, while the NGWs, True Grits, New Waves, and Wrestle Islands continue to plug away.

Just because the heady heights are in the past doesn’t mean that the scene is “dead” – if you’re hell-bent on doing a “hundred show year” as a fan, it’s perhaps a little trickier, requiring a little more travel and maybe a little more variety in promotions tracked, mixing the trendy promotions with the family-friendly, the comedy with the hardcore… but you should never confuse resting with dead.

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