After the fall-out from PROGRESS’ Super Strong Style 16 weekender… where do we stand in some of Europe’s top promotions? Spoilers for PROGRESS and wXw are contained within…
So much happened over the three days at Alexandra Palace, so let’s start at the top.
Zack Sabre Jr. walked away with the tournament win, having overcome Chuck Mambo, David Starr, Keith Lee and Kassius Ohno across the weekend, and instantly announced his intention to claim his title shot at PROGRESS’ Wembley show. In a way, that’s announcement one for the huge September show. Announcement two: Jimmy Havoc vs. Will Ospreay. After beating Joey Janela in a death match on night three, Havoc took the microphone and delivered a speech that was up there with the promos he cut during his defining feud with Ospreay in 2015… almost teasing retirement, after declaring his frustration at how PROGRESS have treated him in recent times.
Whatever Havoc was about to announce was cut-off by the return of Ospreay, who came out with an axe in hand… prompting Havoc to put his head in a chair, symbolically demanding that Ospreay behead him. That didn’t happen, since Will wanted to face the “old Jimmy Havoc” and not the “James” he saw in front of him… cue Havoc turning into a more demented Ric Flair, bumping into left-over piles of thumbtacks, and a challenge set for Wembley, as the feud is set to finish “once and for all”… and yes, Havoc did call out how ridiculous it was for Ospreay to come back months after losing that loser-leaves-town match last year!
Announcement three… sort-of. ILJA. With Pete Dunne unable to appear on the final night, we had a surprise appearance from wXw’s Christian Jakobi, whom had an offer for Pete Dunne. Seemingly aggrieved with some calling Dunne the best in Europe, Jakobi’s offer was to “polish up” Dunne against a man whom many also feel is Europe’s best. Ilja Dragunov. Cue goosebumps and loud cheers, and although they didn’t name a time or a place, it is worth noting that wXw aren’t running the weekend of PROGRESS’ big Wembley show, so we could be hearing the Soviet March from Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 inside Wembley Arena.
Oh yeah, that’s another, perhaps slight, takeaway from this weekend… “real music” is back! Whether it makes it to the VOD, we’ll have to wait and see what Jon Briley does during editing… but it sure was nice to be able to hear the “oldies” once again. Even as the jaded, cynical so-and-so, I got goosebumps when AFI hit for Jimmy Havoc.
Elsewhere from the weekend… WALTER beat Travis Banks by count-out on night two, with Banks intentionally taking his title and running. A rather lacklustre finish, described by some as a cop-out, but it’s not the end of the story, as after obliterating TK Cooper the next night, WALTER vacated the Atlas title so he could go after Banks once again. That kinda overshadows Jack Sexsmith’s big title shot at Manchester in a little over a week, but let’s see where that goes.
Big stars coming out of the weekend, tournament-wise, was Chuck Mambo and Jordan Devlin… the latter wowing the crowd with a backflip overhead kick to one of Mambo’s beach balls. That’s not a euphemism… Flash Morgan Webster and Mark Haskins seem to be teaming up, now Jimmy Havoc is otherwise engaged, and we’re getting the “Mark Haskins is frustrated at how indecisive Flash is” deal… Charlie Morgan’ll be banned from appearing at that Manchester show after she lost in her title match with Toni Storm on night three. That’s per the orders of Jinny, who put the stipulation in place ahead of the match… speaking of Jinny, who’ll have her shot at Toni in Manchester, she had to deal with a familiar face when Laura di Matteo returned to PROGRESS as the mystery partner in the women’s trios match on night two.
These shows should be dropping on demand-progress.com over the coming days – and our reviews will be up in due course!
Once again, the course of the RISE storyline is having to take a detour, after the news that Da Mack is out for an “indefinite period of time” after being diagnosed with a herniated disc in his back. Mack had been left out in the cold when RISE chose Pete Bouncer as their new leader following “Bad Bone”’s departure, and a Mack/Bouncer match was on the cards.
Elsewhere at their big Superstars of Wrestling show (which was sold out, despite WWE literally being in town five days later), Ilja Dragunov retained his wXw title ove WALTER… the tag title picture is in a little bit of disarray, as are some fans, when Jay FK ran in and attacked Monster Consulting, before leaving with the belts. It would seem that Jay Skillet, who got a little salty with RINGKAMPF at the end of last year, has poisoned Francis Kaspin’s mind a little more, and they’re gaining a bit of an edge.
Although RISE are together again, Lucky Kid seems to be getting some encouragement to branch out on his own. Having lost to Jay Lethal at Superstars, Pete Bouncer (whom some described as a “sexy therapist” reminded Lucky Kid of his goals… and that he didn’t need Tarkan Aslan by his side to do it, especially if he was just going to shun Aslan’s offers of help. Lucky’s got his Shotgun title match on this week’s episode of Shotgun, so let’s see how that pans out. Elsewhere, with wXw returning to Hamburg next Friday for a feature event, Alexander James gets his comeuppance against Ilja Dragunov. Yes, we’ll find out you should never speak badly of someone’s children… while Absolute Andy tries to one-up Marius al-Ani yet again in Hamburg, after demanding a singles match following his tag team loss at Superstars of Wrestling.
At time of writing, Epic Encounter is tonight – where we could see Zack Sabre Jr. lose his other piece of silverware as the Suzuki-gun team of Sabre and Minoru Suzuki put their belts on the line against CCK. Can Chris Brookes and Travis Banks regain the titles they lost over six months ago?
New Rev Pro champion Tomohiro Ishii makes his first defence too, in what could be Keith Lee’s final match for the promotion as we get a rematch of their, ahem, epic encounter from last November’s Global Wars. Can Ishii make it two wins in a row over the Limitless one, or will he have the shortest title reign in the belt’s history? Elsewhere, the promotion’s tag team division gets rebuilt a little as Aussie Open faces the Chozen Bros – Jeff Cobb and Matt Riddle – as the next challengers for the Rev Pro tag titles could become a little clearer, while David Starr has his last chance to win the cruiserweight title, as he’s been told that if he doesn’t beat Kurtis Chapman… he won’t get another title shot until Chapman loses it. That could go one of two ways: either a title change, or Starr finds new ways to harass Kurtis in the weeks ahead.
Remember, 48 hours after Epic Encounters, Rev Pro’s back with another Cockpit special… so far there’s not much announced, with Chris Brookes vs. Fred Yehi and Travis Banks vs. Jeff Cobb on the card, while there’s a tease of Gideon Grey vs. Rishi Ghosh as the issues between the Legion of Lords continue.
ATTACK!’s Nothing to Prove storyline finally kicked into a new gear when Eddie Dennis joined the group, berating ATTACK! management for not having ambition and staying in the same, small rooms while the rest of Britwres boomed. Their next show is on May 26, where the story will no doubt continue… probably with Nothing to Prove losing in the ring again!
Defiant will “unify” their interim Internet title in a little over a fortnight’s time as Travis Banks puts his title up against Zack Sabre Jr – who was forced to vacate the belt earlier in the year – and WALTER in a three-way in Sheffield on May 28. The promotion has a new General Manager too, with the former Primate – now going by the name of Jay Melrose – in charge… so expect some new direction ahead of their Built to Destroy show in June, which’ll be headlined by Martin Kirby challenging Rampage for the title.