A sea of wrestling fans fresh from day two of Progress Wrestling’s annual ‘Super Strong Style 16’ tournament have descended on Tufnell Park’s The Dome for tonight’s show, pretty much everyone turning out in their favourite wrestler’s favourite wrestler’s merch (thanks David Starr for the crowd pleasing pop I’ll take it). For Junior and The Young Hearts, tonight will surely be one of; if not the most unique crowds they’ve ever performed in front of.
Alongside us regulars we were joined by the likes of Millie McKenzie, Jimmy Havoc, Flash Morgan Webster, Joey Janela, Chuck Mambo, Jack Sexsmith and Pete Dunne to name just a few stalwarts of the Indy Wrestling scene. Former x3 Attack! Pro Wrestling24/7 champion Warren also graced us with his legendary presence. On a personal level, it’s incredibly humbling to be a part of a community where we come together like this to support each other.
As the crowd began to pile in, we took our places to take in the nights festivities.
I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
Opening the night were Kent’s Emo/Punk natives, The Young Hearts. It’s easy to hear their Emo influence, most notably from the heart-rending lyrics of guitarist and lead vocalist Craig Lawrence. ‘I Used To Think we’d Live Forever’ taken from their first EP ‘Everything We Left Behind’ – is a highlight of the set, pushing past the boundaries that some young artists have issues overcoming, producing a sound that is far more mature than most could produce after multiple releases. ‘Smoke’ carries along the route of ‘sad songs for sad people’ but it works – a slower pace with powerful workmanship from each member of the band. ‘Menace’ brings The Young Hearts time on stage to an end, to a huge ovation and thanks from the band to everyone in attendance. The Young Hearts have incredible potential to stand out in a scene that is fast picking up traction once again, sticking within the walls of the Emo/Punk genre but with their own flare. It’s this tried and tested formula that could (and should) see The Young Hearts make a name for themselves in the future.
And now for your main event of the evening… IT’S JUNIOR! Announced as the heavyweight champions of Pop Punk by Captain Bonglord / Ramses – golden Luchador mask and all! ‘Fall to Pieces’ opens the set, Bonglord returning to the stage to provide vocals alongside Mandrews and company. Now, obviously as this is a Pro Wrestling heavy crowd after all, chants of ‘Half A Cider!’ ring out from the crowd after some banter from the boys, Junior happily expressing that ‘They knew it was a good idea to play to a Wrestling crowd’.
A new song addressing the Grenfell Tower tragedy is up next, showing a far heavier and serious side to the four piece. Whilst maintaining their composure through a piece of work that is quite clearly deeply personal, it points a finger directly at Theresa Mays handling of the devastation, evoking anger and frustration at a time when people in dire need were drastically failed.
Mark Andrews energy is undeniable, throwing himself and his bass across the stage as if he was about to hit a Stundog Millionaire for the Cruiserweight championship. Given his now international status since signing with the WWE (and previous work with Impact Wrestling), he doesn’t take away from Matt on guitar or Si on drums. Each is given space to shine and leave their own mark on the performance. ‘Not Done Yet’ is an example of when Junior knows to switch up, giving the floor a fantastic excuse to have a good old fashioned dance along.
Now this is where it gets good, as if it hadn’t been already.
The International Limbo Championship was on the line (as is customary to a Junior gig). Up first, Chuck Mambo! Chants of ‘HEY HO, MAMBO, HEY HO, MAMBO!’ echo as he nails his first attempt! The crowd were more than pleased to get involved, and I failed. Miserably. A new champion was crowned, (and I’m presuming here due to the pop he got) with Mambo losing his title. Newquay will shed a tear…
Getting back into the set, Junior picked up where they left off flawlessly. ‘Anywhere But Here’ has influences of the more emotive work of Blink 182, paying homage to the giants of Pop Punk. That song that you WILL know if you’re a graps fan or not ‘A Place that’s Not Quite Home’ taken from the album ‘Juniorland’ ends the set, sending the crowd to the front, stage divers galore. An award is in waiting for ‘The Bad Boy’ Joey Janela for his INREDIBLE dive, being carried by the crowd from the front of the stage and directly to the bar. I’m pretty sure we all collectively lost our sh*t at it!
The crowd chants for one more song, and Junior are happy to oblige.
OH MY GOD! EDDIE FU*KING DENNIS RUINED THE ENCORE, HE ATTACKED CAPTAIN BONGLORD AND CHOKED HIM OUT! MANDREWS AND THE BAND CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT’S HAPPENED! EDDIE HAS BEEN ESCORTED FROM THE VENUE BY SECURITY, DRAGGING AND KICKING AS HE GOES!
THE CROWD ARE LIVID!
IT’S OVER. JUNIOR PLAYS NO MORE TONIGHT.
*The following footage is courtesy of @jrg1990 on Twitter, viewer discression is strongly advised*
The @musicofjunior concert for @ThisIs_Progress ended in chaos as you know who appeared and attacked. Missed the initial assault as couldn’t get to the camera fast enough but fair to say the fans went mental pic.twitter.com/dcTHQwrQdp
— James Gordon (@jrg1990) May 6, 2018
(Our best wishes to Captain Bonglord, who was taken from the venue by medical personnel / All Photos courtesy of Ashlea Bea Photography)