UK Indie Star Paul Robinson Returns From Retirement

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Photo: James Musselwhite / Portrait of a Wrestler

This past August, the UK indie scene received it’s own “Daniel Bryan moment”. One of the UK scene’s most underrated talents, Paul Robinson, announced that he had been cleared to wrestle after retiring in April of 2017 due to serious health issues. At the time, Robinson’s retirement caught many off guard and it was deemed he would never wrestle again. Will Ospreay broke the news shortly after Robinson’s last match with PROGRESS Wrestling on April 23, 2017, when Robinson lost a hard fought match against Jack Sexsmith in last year’s Super Strong Style 16 tournament.

Photo: twitter.com/WillOspreay

Trained in the early 2000’s by “Notorious” Jon Ritchie, Paul Robinson began working with LDN Wrestling in London as well as becoming an early regular with IPW:UK. In 2006, he formed a tag team with another emerging UK star, “Party” Marty Scurll (now Bullet Club‘s resident Villain), as The Midnight Ravers, and the following year, they formed the faction Leaders of the New School with two other young talents, Nikko Brixton and a skinny technical wizard named Zack Sabre Jr. During the mid-2000s, Robinson would go on to have feuds with the likes of future team mates like Sabre Jr. and Scurll, as well as the Ashley Reed, Noam Dar, Jack Storm, and one of his own pupils, a young Will Ospreay.

In 2013, he began to work with two new factions, in two different promotions. In his home IPW:UK, he formed the tag team The Swords of Essex, featuring his protege Will Ospreay, while in PROGRESS, he joined the cult like Regression, lead by Jimmy Havoc and also featuring the London Riots (Rob Lynch & James Davis) and Isaac Zercher. His tenure with IPW:UK finally came to fruition, when he won the IPW:UK World Championship, defeating Sha Samuels in December 2013 and holding it for 129 days, and the Swords of Essex became one of the UK’s top tag teams, winning the Revolution Pro UK (RevPro) British Tag Team Championship, Future Pro Wrestling (FPW) Tag Team titles, and IPW:UK Tag Team titles (the latter was after the Swords expanded to a stable, to include another Robinson student, Scotty Wainwright, and “Amazon” Ayesha Raymond). In Regression, they aided Jimmy Havoc in becoming the longest reigning PROGRESS World Champion, for 609 days, before Robinson turned on Havoc and became a rival for the title.

In 2016, The Swords of Essex debuted with WhatCulture Pro Wrestling (WCPW) (now Defiant Wrestling), but Robinson would only last a handful of matches before the leaving the promotion in early 2017, shortly before his retirement in April.

And then suddenly, he returned to the ring this summer and in late August released the news that he had been cleared to return to wrestling when it was all but sure that Paul Robinson would never wrestle again.

https://twitter.com/PR_WRESTLING/status/1034486308037640192

https://twitter.com/PR_WRESTLING/status/1034486632924237824

The following day, he returned to PROGRESS to be special guest referee in the final battle between Jimmy Havoc and Will Ospreay, two former cohorts and rivals, ultimately costing Jimmy Havoc the match, with Havoc left a bloody mess in the middle of the ring. The challenge was made, the gauntlet laid down.

Photo: Rob Brazier / Head Drop

Weeks ago, Paul Robinson’s career in wrestling was over. And now we’re just weeks away from Robinson facing Jimmy Havoc in a No DQ Grudge Match at PROGRESS’ biggest show in history, Hello Wembleyon September 30, 2018 at the SSE Arena in Wembley.

And while it didn’t get the mainstream attention that Daniel Bryan’s own miraculous recovery and return from retirement, in the UK indie scene this was just as big and miraculous a moment. A pioneer and legend of the UK indie scene who helped pave the way for the boom it’s experiencing right now, able to return for a second chance to ride the wave his early paddlings helped to initiate.

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