Nathan Cruz is forever etched in PROGRESS history thanks to being the first ever world champion. At Chapter One at the Garage in Islington, he held the staff aloft after defeating Colossus Kennedy in his first round match and three others in the tournament final.
The man known as show stealer certainly lived up to his name that night and continued to prove his quality in the ring and on the mic, getting under the PROGRESS Wrestling fans collective skin with the way he wrestled and spoke to them. The fact he was successful made things even worse.
Whilst the fans certainly didn’t take to him, he proved himself to be a leader by fronting the Screw Indy Wrestling faction with Mark Haskins, Sha Samuels, Martin Stone and Rampage Brown by his side.
Once he lost a grip on the staff however, the group began to show cracks and in 2014 the faction split. Not one for admitting defeat, the conniving Cruz soon came up with a new plan to assert his authority on PROGRESS wrestling.
A few months later, a mysterious group known simply as The Faceless began to run rough shot in the wrestling ring and even hacking into PROGRESS social media threatening their impending destruction.
It wasn’t long before they ruined a perfectly good raffle during an interval and won the Tag Team championships at Chapter 17. The Faceless were revealed at Chapter 19 only for a masked man to appear and claim that this new group needed foot soldiers before mercilessly booting the tag champions Moser and Garnell out of the group and claiming the championship for himself.
This was the birth of Cruz’s third faction in PROGRESS. The Origin. Despite such an audacious start to their career as a faction, they lost their titles the very next night to the Sumerian Death Squad – which only served to anger them even more.
This pair of disaffected wrestlers who had both started with the promotion from the very first chapter went on to recruit Zack Gibson and Dave Mastiff – two more wrestlers who began with the company at the first and third chapters respectively and with their long winded entrance and underhand tactics they soon began to make even more of a mark on the history of PROGRESS than Screw Indy Wrestling did.
Cruz held his second tag title with the company winning a triple threat tag match at Chapter 23. The four wrestlers were enjoying a very successful time period with PROGRESS Wrestling and were even able to stop from disbanding as the rightfully vengeful Damon Moser failed to win his eight man tag against his former friends at Chapter 36 in the Brixton Academy – at that point the company’s biggest ever chapter show. They survived the stipulation and their reign of terror continued.
Whilst they were a success as a faction, singles success became hard to come by for the group and it wasn’t long before a civil war of starts broke out between the four with the equally irate Zack Gibson of course sided with Cruz.
At Chapter 50 in 2017 Nathan Cruz wrestled a tag match with Gibson. The chapter name was I Give It Six Months but surprisingly, this was the last the PROGRESS crowd saw of Nathan Cruz. The antagonistic former World Champion was seemingly done with the company for good.
Fast forward six years later and to everyone’s shock and surprise, Nigel McGuinness named Nathan Cruz as one of the 16 entrants into the 2023 Super Strong Style 16 tournament. The Show stealer was back, and this time he was coming alone, looking to regain the title he won at chapter one back in 2012.
His first match was at The Dome in Tufnell Park and he came out of the curtain with such passion on his face and even holding the original PROGRESS staff, which back when he held the Men’s Progress World Championship represented that he was champion.
This appeared to be a new Nathan Cruz. One that was enjoying the welcome back chants from the crowd which once despised him. A new start appeared even more truthful when he wrestled a fair match with another much loved wrestler in Maggot, beating the former WXW Shotgun Champion meaning the next day he was due to face Will Ospreay in the quarter finals.
A different venue, but the same Cruz appeared to come out of the curtain at the Electric Ballroom as he did at the Dome. The staff was in hand, seemingly showing his respect for the company and the legacy he had helped build.
However, halfway through the match, the reason for the staff became clear. He would be using it to strike his world class opponent. The crowd twigged on and immediately realised there was no new Nathan Cruz, just the same manipulative man who will do anything to get what he wants. He was clever enough to make the referee believe that Will Ospreay had been the one to use the staff and he had done the impossible.
Nathan Cruz was and is the only wrestler to ever defeat Will Ospreay on a Super Strong Style 16 weekend.
Unfortunately for Cruz, his tactics did not quite come off against kid Lykos in the semi-final as the wolf used his own mischievous knowledge from the past to outsmart Cruz and go on to win the tournament.
With a chip on his shoulder and his true self revealed, one can only imagine what Nathan Cruz has in store for PROGRESS wrestling wrestlers and fans alike for the rest of his current run.
Nathan Cruz, Second to None.
Nathan Cruz was the first ever Men’s PROGRESS World Champion, forver etching his name in PROGRESS Wrestling history.
Notable matches in Nathan Cruz’s history include:
Nathan Cruz vs Will Ospreay
Nathan Cruz vs Spud
Nathan Cruz vs Jeff Cobb
Nathan Cruz v Rampage Brown
After a six year absence, Nathan Cruz returned to PROGRESS Wrestling at the 2023 Super Strong Style 16 tournament where he knocked Will Ospreay out of the tournament. What does the future hold for Second to None Nathan Cruz in PROGRESS Wrestling?