Grand Pro Wrestling

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Grand Pro Wrestling
Acronym GPW
Founded Feb 2003
Style Professional wrestling
Sports entertainment
Headquarters Wigan & Manchester, United Kingdom
Founder(s) Lee Butler
Owner(s) Johnnie Brannigan
Formerly Garage Pro Wrestling
Website GrandProWrestling.co.uk

Grand Pro Wrestling (formerly Garage Pro Wrestling) or GPW is a British professional wrestling promotion based in the North West of England.

The promotion was founded in February 2003 by former British wrestler "The Middleman" Lee Butler. The promotions first event took place in July 2003. Events have been run regularly ever since.

In August 2004, Butler handed over the reins of the promotion to his senior trainees, retired from wrestling and hasn't been associated with the company since. Since January 2005, GPW has been run by British wrestler Johnnie Brannigan. However, the name 'Richard Noble' was used as the public facing name up until Brannigan went public with his role in the company in April 2012.

The promotion is recognised for building much of its own stars through the training school, whilst using a mixture of more recognised British talent and lesser known names.

Overview[edit]

The promotion runs shows in the North West of England, mainly in the Greater Manchester area at The Rose Club (formerly known as The Monaco Ballroom) in Hindley Wigan running between 8 and 10 times a year.

It has developed a large, passionate fan base and gained a reputation for one of the best story telling wrestling companies on the independent scene. Its shows are known for their addictive, progressive storylines and strong characters. The promotion is also known for progressing many already established British and European wrestlers whilst shining a spotlight on their own home grown talents. Over the years, the promotion has been reluctant to use imports on their shows, favoring home bred, local wrestlers.

GPW has established several flagship shows that it has become known for, such as: Crazy Cruiser-8 (one night 8-man tournament show), "Only The Strong Survive" (survival themed show) "Thunderbrawl" (a Royal Rumble themed show), "Friday Night Thriller", promoted as an "unpredictable night of wrestling", "A Night To Remember" where the promotion and roster pay tribute to deceased roster members, Dom Travis and Kris Travis by wrestling in their memory and making a donation to MIND. This event also features the Grand Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. "Back With A Bang" is the promotions traditional show to start a new year.

The promotion is credited with having started off many of today's British and American independent wrestlers' careers. Names include: Bubblegum, El Ligero, Claudio Castagnoli, Joey Hayes, "Dangerous" Damon Leigh, "Juice" CJ Banks, Dylan Roberts, Danny Hope, Jack Gallagher, Martin Kirby, Ricky J. McKenzie (Sam Gradwell), Lana Austin, Ste "Bin" Man and many more.

History[edit]

Here is a brief overview year by year of significant events in the company's rich history.

The promotion's first show was in July 2003 and called "Defection" due to the amount of wrestlers who had jumped ship from small time now defunct promotion, NPWA. It was held at the Monaco Ballroom, Wigan. Wrestlers that night who are still active now are Johnnie "Heresy" Brannigan, "Dangerous" Damon Leigh and Joey Hayes.

In November 2003 GPW: promoted "Nemesis", It was a 450 sell out in Leigh and considered a break out show for the promotion. The main event featured Heresy and Damon Leigh in a 30 ft balcony stunt.

During a tour of Cumbria in 2004, GPW crowned their first singles champion when Chris Hero defeated JC Thunder for the then International Title (now Heavyweight Title). in March 2004, the company ran an much hyped event originally promoted by a rival company who pulled out weeks before. GPW took over and renamed it "Hostile Takeover" with a main event featuring Chris Hero v. Claudio Castagnoli (a last minute replacement for Benito "Benny" Cuntapay)

During GPW: "Last Orders At The Legion" in January 2005 there was a well documented riot involving both wrestlers and audience. The storyline became very real to the passionate fan base and occurred when Alex Shane stole the British Title from then champion Damon Leigh. Local papers featured the events as headline news.

GPW: "Saturday Night Showdown" in July 2005 JC Thunder faced El Ligero in a main event hardcore match. The match was possibly the most controversial in British wrestling history and resulted in the venue banning professional wrestling from the Greater Manchester area. However, the following year GPW were allowed to return.

April 2006, GPW promoted "A Few Good Men", one of the only 30 Man Rumbles in the UK at that point.

GPW promoted Europe's first ever Survivor Series dedicated show in 2007.

July 2008 was the sell out 5th anniversary show; GPW: "V". In October 2008, GPW became the only European company to feature a Torneo cibernetico a match that has gone on to be a staple part of GPW shows and still a show that no one else in the UK has used.

In August 2010, GPW re-branded as Grand Pro Wrestling.

GPW presented its landmark 500th match in June 2011 at "Heroes & Villains". The special match was given to Zack Gibson and Jack Gallagher who fought for the British Title.

In 2012, the company entered into an inter-promotional feud with Morecambe-based promotion XWA in what many consider to be the best inter-promotional feud in British Wrestling history. GPW eventually won and XWA closed down as a result.

January 2013 saw the start of the company's 10th year celebrations. July 2010 brought a sell out audience to attend GPW: "X", the official 10th year anniversary. The show featured a Past, Present, Future 15 Man Battle Royal. 5 names from the present roster, 5 names from the past and 5 debuting new characters. A match which typifies the promotions values.

Grand Pro Wrestling opened up their Hall of Fame in 2015. The year also saw the first ever tag team Dumpster Match.

2016 saw one of the most acclaimed British feuds of the year involving T-Bone, Bubblegum, Lana Austin, Dylan Roberts and both the British and the Heavyweight Titles, 2016 was also the first time the promotion launched their "Fast Track 4-Way" match, a match exclusive to GPW. The rules are that 4 competitors enter a 4-way rules match, the winner of the match is allowed to cash a title shot in on any of the titles but it has to be done that night. The person pinned in the match is no longer permitted to enter for the rest of the year, the other two not involved in the win, or the loss are allowed to re-enter next time. Typically, the Fast Track matches happen every other show.

In February 2017 the promotion announced its first ever Women's Tournament to take place throughout the year.

Championships[edit]

There are 3 championships in the promotion. The Heavyweight Title is regarded as the main title, the British Title as the mid level title and the Tag Team Trophy.

"Dangerous" Damon Leigh and Johnnie "Heresy" Brannigan are the only Grand Slam winners i.e.) have held all 3 titles at different times.

In 2012, there was a 4th, now defunct title. Jack Gallagher introduced Gallagher's Gold, his own title which he eventually lost to Ste "Bin" Man in November 2012, who disposed of the title. Prior to the loss, Gallagher had successfully defended the title against Joey Hayes and in a High Stakes 4-Way Match featuring Martin Kirby, Cyanide and Dirk Feelgood.

GPW Heavyweight Championship[edit]

No. Champion Reign Date Days Location Event Notes
1 Chris Hero 1 6 March 2004 228 Whitehaven "Hold The Line Tour Pt.1" The vacant title was contested between Hero and JC Thunder in Tables Match. The title was then known as the International Title.
2 TJ Cain 1 17 October 2004 462 The Legion, Leigh "...A Hero's Welcome"
3 Heresy 1 22 January 2006 268 Den Haag, Netherlands "Shockwave" The first time changed hands overseas. It was also the only time any GPW title has been contested on another promotions event. The promotion was Dutch Championship, now Dutch Professional Wrestling.
4 Dirk Feelgood 1 17 October 2006 339 The Monaco Ballroom, Wigan "Friday Night Thriller" The title was renamed the GPW Heavyweight Title during Feelgood's reign and has only been defended in Wigan at the Rose Club, formally known as the Monaco Ballroom since
5 Darkside 1 21 September 2007 168 Wigan "Back To School" Unknown to the referee, Darkside actually pinned an impostor.
6 Johnny Phere 1 7 March 2008 119 Wigan "Strictly Come WRESTLING!" Title was won in a 3-Way vs. Dirk Feelgood and Darkside.
7 Bubblegum 1 4 July 2008 288 Wigan "V" Title was won in a 4-way vs. Johnny Phere vs. Dirk Feelgood vs. Darkside
8 Juggernaut 1 18 April 2009 642 Wigan "Slam Jam" The title was vacated by Juggernaut after a 642-day reign as champ due to an irreparable knee injury. Juggernaut never wrestled again.
9 "Dangerous" Damon Leigh 1 19 November 2010 378 Wigan "Guts and Glory" The vacant title was contested for in a singles match between Mark Kodiak and Damon Leigh who qualified after a mini tournament which also featured El Ligero and Dave Mastiff.
10 Dirk Feelgood 2 2 December 2011 0 Wigan "Do or Die" The title was lost after Martin Kirby cashed in a Money in the Bank opportunity immediately after Feelgood had won. His reign lasted 60 seconds.
11 Martin Kirby 1 2 December 2011 366 Wigan "Do or Die"
12 Cyanide 1 7 December 2012 322 Wigan "Heroes & Villains 2" The title was won in a Triple Threat match featuring Cyanide, Martin Kirby and Joey Hayes.
13 The Cause* 1 25 October 2013 343 Wigan "Friday Night Thriller 7" Won following a Gauntlet Match, The Cause (a 6-person group) held the title as a group and the group was recognized as the Heavyweight Champion.
14 Dirk Feelgood* 3 3 October 2014 224 Wigan "Friday Night Thriller 8" Title won in Six Man Elimination tag Ricky J. McKenzie, Dirk Feelgood and Johnnie Brannigan v. Dave Rayne, Sean Daniels and Axl Rage. Dave Rayne and Dirk Feelgood were the last two remaining, Feelgood pinned Rayne.
15 Ricky J. McKenzie[1] (RJM) 1 15 May 2015 0 Wigan "Battlefield" RJM threatened to take the belt away from Wigan and abroad after he won it. As a result, he had to defend later that night in a 6 Way vs. CJ Banks, Joey Hayes, Nate Travis, Bubblegum and Cyanide.
16 Bubblegum 2 15 May 2015 203 Wigan "Battlefield"
17 T-Bone*[2] 1 4 December 2015 259 Wigan "Double Jeopardy" Won in a special "Double Jeopardy Match" where both the Heavyweight and the British Titles were defended, first fall for the Heavyweight, second for the British. The match featured, Bubblegum, Craig Kollins and CJ Banks. Bubblegum pinned T-Bone for the British Title, T-Bone pinned Bubblegum for the Heavyweight. Bubblegum was a double champion for 9 minutes.
18 Dylan Roberts 1 19 August 2016 194+ Wigan "Midsummer Madness"
  • Between March 2004 and October 2006, the Heavyweight Title was defended Internationally and therefore known as the International Title. Now only competed for domestically, from 2006 it has been known as The Heavyweight Title.

GPW British Championship[edit]

No. Champion Reign Date Days Location Event Notes
1 "Dangerous" Damon Leigh 1 24 April 2004 287 Darwen Leisure Centre, Blackburn "Hostile Takeover" Won in a singles match for the vacant title v. Joey Hayes with Heresy as the special guest referee.
2 Alex Shane 1 16 January 2005 383 The Legion, Leigh "Last Orders At The Legion" Controversial win as the ref rung for the bell before Leigh had submitted, Shane escaped in a get away car with the belt.
3 "Dangerous" Damon Leigh 2 3 February 2006 379 The Monaco Ballroom, Wigan "Back With A Bang 2006"
4 Juggernaut 1 16 February 2007 28 Wigan "Let Loose" Juggernaut, managed by Alan A.A. Tasker won the title in his first ever professional wrestling match and debut in GPW.
5 "Dangerous" Damon Leigh 3 16 March 2007 126 Wigan "Hot Gossip"
6 Joseph Hayes 1 20 July 2007 119 Wigan "Collision Course" Won in a 3-way v. Heresy and Damon Leigh
7 Heresy 1 16 November 2007 77 Wigan "Supercharged" Won in an "Winner Takes All I Quit Match", Joey Hayes' 11-year-old brother was dragged into the ring from the audience and threatened with a brick, Joey said "I Quit" to save his brother.
8 "Dangerous" Damon Leigh 4 1 February 2008 63 Wigan "Back With A Bang 2008"
9 Jac Domitrescu 1 4 April 2008 252 Wigan "Ballroom Blitz"
10 "Super" Sam Bailey 1 12 December 2008 308 Wigan "Christmas Crunch"
11 "The Juice" CJ Banks 1 16 October 2009 399 Wigan "Friday Night Thriller III" The title changed hands in a 2/3 Falls Match.
12 Zack Gibson 1 19 November 2010 196 Wigan "Guts & Glory" Won in a 4-way Scramble Match v. CJ Banks, Martin Kirby and Jack Gallagher. Gibson, at first wasn't even announced in the match and was a paying member of the audience. It was Gallagher, who had had his problems with Gibson prior who invited him into the match, making it a 4-way.
13 Jack Gallagher 1 3 June 2011 182 Wigan "Heroes & Villains"
14 Ste "Bin" Man 1 2 December 2011 309 Wigan "Do or Die"
15 Danny Hope 1 5 October 2012 140 Wigan "Friday Night Thriller VI"
16 Zack Gibson 2 22 February 2013 406 Wigan "Romance Is Dead" Title was won in a Lumberjack Match,
17 El Ligero [3] 1 4 April 2014 441 Wigan "Only The Strong Survive" The title changed hands in a No DQ Match.
18 T-Bone[4] 1 19 June 2015 168 Wigan "A Night To Remember"
19 Bubblegum[5] 1 4 December 2015 294 Wigan "Double Jeopardy" Won in a Double Jeopardy match where both the Heavyweight and British titles were defended. The match also featured Craig Kollins and CJ Banks.
20 "Jumpin'" Jimmy Jackson[6]* 1 23 September 2016 182+ Wigan "Battlefield" Jackson won the title after winning a Fast Track 4-way earlier the same night.

GPW Tag Team Trophy[edit]

No. Champion Reign Date Days Location Event Notes
1 Project Ego (Kris Travis & Scotty Hexx) 1 18 March 2006 338 The Monaco Ballroom, Wigan "Hold Tight" Vacant titles were won in a 4-way Tables Match ft. Kev n Krev, Damage Control and WKD.
2 WKD (Matty "D'Lyrium" Taylor & "Super" Sam Bailey) 1 16 February 2007 154 The Monaco Ballroom, Wigan "Let Loose" Won in a Tag Team Gauntlet Match ft. Mil-Anfield Connection and The Holmes Bros.
3 Mil-Anfield Connection ("The Model" Danny Hope & Jiggy Walker) 1 20 July 2007 546 Wigan "Collision Course" Tag Trophy changed hands in a "Tables, Hubcaps and Chairs" match.
4 The Young Offenders ("Dangerous" Damon Leigh & Joey Hayes) 1 16 January 2009 182 Wigan "Back With A Bang" Won in a 2/3 Falls Match.
5 Paradise Lost (Heresy & Kastor LaVey) 1 17 July 2009 273 Wigan "Heatwave" The titles changed hands under the stipulation that the winning team must disband forever.
6 The Mystics (Voodoo & The Great Suzuki) 1 16 April 2010 35 Wigan "Jam Hot!"
7 Paradise Lost (Heresy & Kastor LeVay) 2 21 May 2010 350 Wigan "A Few More Good Men" Titles were won in a No Holds Barred Match
8 Chris Echo & Ricky J Mckenzie 1 6 May 2011 273 Wigan "Battlefield" Ricky J. McKenzie suffered an injury during a match with The Blackpool Blondes (Axl Rage & James Drake). The Blackpool Blondes took off with the trophy, leaving RJM and Echo to have to forfeit the championship due to not being able to defend it as a team
9 The Blackpool Blondes (Axl Rage & James Drake 1 2 Mar 2012 275 Wigan "Back With A Bang" The Blackpool Blondes were awarded the trophy after previous holders, Echo & RJM could no longer defend the trophy as a team.
10 The Killers (Mark Kodiak & Johnnie 'Heresy' Brannigan[7] (3)) 1 2 November 2012 260 Wigan "Fireworks"
11 The Island Brothers (Tabu & Rio) 1 26 July 2013 483 Wigan "X" Titles were won in a No Holds Barred Match.
12 The Midnight Bin Collection (Jet Fashion & Ste "Bin" Man) [8] 1 21 November 2014 175 Wigan "Final Fight"
13 The Bad Lads[9] (Drill & Mickey Barnes) 1 15 May 2015 40 Wigan "Battlefield"
14 The Midnight Bin Collection (Ste "Bin" Man & Jet Fashion) 2 24 July 2015 217 Wigan "Cruel Summer" Titles changed hands in a first ever "Dumpster Match"
15 The Hate League (Danxig & Soner Dursun)* 1 26 February 2016 201 Wigan "Bad Blood"[10]
16 The Island Bros (Rio & Tabu) 2 10 February 2017 42+ Wigan "Back With A Bang"

Hall of Fame[edit]

June 19, 2015, after 12 years of business, Grand Pro Wrestling opened the doors to an illustrious Hall of Fame.

The company will induct a new member(s) once a year at their "A Night To Remember" show. The Hall of Fame was opened by company co-booker, Jiggy Walker who had organised it without owner, Johnnie Brannigan's knowledge. It was Walker who made Brannigan the first inductee of the hall of fame. Brannigan has carried on the tradition of not telling inductees when they are going in until their name is announced.

Inductee By Date
Johnnie Brannigan Jiggy Walker 19 June 2015
Bubblegum Dirk Feelgood 10 June 2016

Crazy Cruiser-8 Tournament[edit]

The Crazy Cruiser-8 is an eight-man one night tournament, and one of the shows GPW has become synonymous with. The eight entrants into the tournament are cruiserweights. Heavyweights are not permitted entry into the tournament. Qualifying matches are contested months prior to the tournament either in traditional one on one matches, 4-ways, 3-ways or in a "Last Chance Saloon Battle Royal". Byes passed the preliminaries have been given in the past to established foreign entrants, eligible reigning Champions and "The Fans Choice".

The eventual winner of the tournament would have not only been successful in the preliminaries, but have won three times in a row on the night of the tournament itself. The winner does not defend his title the following year.

2006[edit]

The first CC-8 tournament was 3 November 2006 and the final 8 men were:

The eventual winner was Bubblegum after he defeated Joseph Hayes in the final.

2008[edit]

The second Crazy Cruiser tournament was known as CC-08 and competed on 2 May 2008. The final 8 men were:

  • Jack Toxic
  • El Ligero
  • "The Model" Danny Hope
  • Jiggy Walker
  • "Juice" CJ Banks
  • "Super" Sam Bailey
  • Chris Echo
  • Voodoo

CJ Banks was the eventual winner after defeating Chris Echo in the final.

2009[edit]

The third Crazy Cruiser tournament was competed on 13 November 2009 and saw new rules on qualifying. 2 top seeds were selected as automatic qualifiers (Joey Hayes & Bubblegum). Other qualifiers were decided through a first ever Fan's Choice, a 4-Way Qualifier, The Last Chance Battle Royal and the return of the International Entrant. The final 8 men were:

Joey Hayes was the eventual winner after defeating CC8 2008 Champion, Juice in the final.

2013[edit]

The fourth Crazy Cruiser tournament was competed on 29 November 2013. The final 8 men were:

El Ligero was the eventual winner after defeating Zack Gibson in the final.

North West Rookie League[edit]

GPW have always championed their own trainees and in 2011, they launched a first ever North West Rookie League that would give a stage to perform on for 8 brand new characters from not just their own school, but nearby schools as well.

The NWRL was very well received, and in 2015, they ran it again in a different format. Historically, the winners of the league have received a shot at the British Title.

2011[edit]

In 2011, Grand Pro Wrestling introduced the first ever North West Rookie League. The first League featured two teams, one captained by Axl Rage and one captained by The Great Suzuki. Each month,the two teams would square off and the loser in each match would be eliminated. The Great Suzuki's team triumphed in the final when Ste "Bin" Mann, (the sole survivor on Team Suzuki) defeated Jason Logan, (the sole survivor on Team Rage) at GPW "Night of the Brave" in November 2011.

Team Suzuki

  • Action Jackson
  • Jynx
  • LA Austin
  • Ste "Bin" Man (Winner)

Team Rage

  • JD Sassoon
  • Ken Zen
  • Skull Crusher
  • Jason Logan (Runner Up)

2015[edit]

In 2015, GPW reintroduced the North West Rookie League with a revised format. This time, instead of two teams of 4, GPW Pro's would team with GPW Rookies in a points based tournament. Below are the current standings as of July 24, 2015.

Pro Rookie Won Lost Drawn Debut
"Deadly" Damon Leigh Alex Jones-Casey 1 1 0 "Saved By The Bell" 2015
Dave Rayne Matthew Brooks 1 1 0 "Battlefield" 2015
Dylan Roberts Danxig 3 0 0 "Saved By The Bell" 2015
Jiggy Walker Jimmy Jackson 0 2 0 "Saved By The Bell" 2015
Joey Hayes Soner Dursun 0 2 0 "Saved By The Bell" 2015
Melanie Price Nicholas Cartier 2 1 0 "Battlefield" 2015

On September 18, 2015 at GPW "Back To School", Dylan Roberts and Danxig defeated The Circus via pinfall. As a result of their victory, Danxig was declared winner of the North West Rookie League 2015.[11] Earlier in the night, Alex Jones-Casey defeated Matthew Brooks and Jimmy Jackson to finish in third place.

2015 Rookie League Final Standings

Winner: Danxig

Second Place: Nicholas Cartier

Third Place: Alex Jones-Casey

GPW Training School[edit]

Established when the promotion first started in 2003, the training school has gone from strength to strength and turned out some of the best wrestlers on the European circuit. A long list of names both past and current have come through the training school. Most noteworthy perhaps WWE competitor Ricky J. McKenzie (Sam Gradwell). Other notable names to have come from the school are: Joey Hayes, Damon Leigh, Danny Hope, CJ Banks, The Island Brothers, Jet Fashion, Ste "Bin" Man, Lana Austin, Dylan Roberts, the Bad Lads and many more.

The training facility is based in the heart of Manchester with regular classes. The head trainer is Johnnie "Heresy" Brannigan who has been at the helm of GPW training since 2006. Other graduates and established British wrestlers are also involved in the development of trainees.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]