It’s been a while since we’ve done “live thoughts” from a show, but last night’s PROGRESS show in Camden left me with a lot to unpack. Obvious spoilers follow…
I’ll leave the headline until the end, but there’s a few things to get through first. It’s coming up to a year since I started going to the Ballroom, and whilst we’ve seen plenty, there has been a bit of a trend in the last few months of the crowd getting, shall we say, rather too close to the action. Particularly in the favoured “car crash” tag matches, when guys being thrown into the crowd has quickly become a staple… which is fine if you’re in the front row and can move… not so great if you’re sat in the middle of a row, or get caught off guard.
Although each of those matches had a reason for it happening – mostly title-shot related – the overuse of that can quickly wear you down. To each their own, I say, but for the sake of those of us who are having to tactically choose their seats based on the likelihood of them ending up with a wrestler hurtling towards them, it may be worth toning down. If not to keep it special, then to save on the cost of damaged chairs!
The first half closed with a Riot vs. Riot match, which at the start was going at such a pace where you could be forgiven for thinking that it was going to be a cover for a big run-in. In the end, the match descended into a tit-for-tat game of “can you top this?”, which took a turn for the worse when Rob Lynch crashed and burned with a Spiral Tap, hurting his arm in the process. Instead of calling the match off, Lynch battled through, only to tap out to a cobra clutch as James Davis took the win.
Then we got our first shock: Rob Lynch announcing his retirement. Bizarrely, not yet, but in October after clearing existing commitments. Citing nagging injuries, Lynch broke down in tears for what felt like our quarterly departure (given the rate of exits this year)… only for James Davis to turn heel, breaking his cricket bat in half over his back. That drew a lot of heat, but if you’re not a fan of personal lives being interjected into storylines, then this break-up will not be your cup of tea. Considering how brutally things ended, you do have to wonder if this is the last we’ll be hearing of them. Especially given that PROGRESS have a big show before October…
Personal lives sort-of came into play again for the tag title match, as Pete Dunne (on his second of three appearances of the night) “kidnapped” Vicki Haskins for a distraction as Jimmy Havoc took the loss after another car-crash tag match. Of course, that led to the blow-up between Haskins and Havoc – which not even Flash Morgan Webster could quell. I guess that’s it for the once-dubbed Rehabilitation X trio…
Elsewhere, Candice LeRae’s debut led to a bit of a weird women’s title match as the crowd didn’t know who to really cheer for at times. Despite that, Toni Storm continued her reign with a solid match, and plenty of those Strong Zero snap piledrivers too.
Keith Lee and Travis Banks more than lived up to expectations. Plenty of hard hits (mostly from Keith), impressive feats of strength (again, from Keith, who at one point flung Banks from the ringside area through the crowd towards the bar)… it’s fair to say that the Ballroom basked in his glory, before remembering who their guy was and sided with Travis Banks before his chest was really caved in with those chops!
So… the big shock. The other one. They’re back! As the show ended with British Strong Style threatening to crush Travis Banks’ head with a sledgehammer (Peter and friends playing Paul again…), CCK came out, and met a similar fate. Then, three fated words hit.
Keep. It. 100.
In unison, 700 necks jolted to look towards the stage at breakneck speed. Three months after having to leave, two of the Electric Ballroom’s favourite Kiwis were back! Cue a loud, ear-splitting, voice-erasing pop and a tingling feeling that only wrestling can give you. If even a fraction of that is captured on the VOD, then I can guarantee you… you will be feeling goosebumps!
For all of the cynicism that wrestling can produce, especially when viewed from a distance, at it’s best it produces moments like these that stick out in the memory.
We even had a potential loose end tied up, then frayed again as Travis Banks “chose” his compatriots over CCK at the end, which means that CCK, who won another shot at the PROGRESS tag titles could potentially be going back to war with British Strong Style without back-up. However, given that Travis Banks and TK Cooper have a pre-standing tag title shot (given to them when TK and Dahlia left in March), that could make for quite an intriguing match should they cash in and succeed before CCK get in line…
- Our full review will follow once we’ve calmed down… which’ll be when the show’ll hopefully be on-demand at demand-progess.com!