There’ll be no rest for the wicked as PROGRESS hit the road for their first non-London show of the year… and it’s a debut in Cardiff too!
The Tramshed in Cardiff is a new venue for PROGRESS, but it’s not a room that’s new to wrestling. Rev Pro ran once there in October 2017, while ICW ran in 2016 and 2017 before retreating north of the border. Tickets have moved well, with standing room only remaining. So, what’s Cardiff getting?
PROGRESS Unified Championship: Cara Noir (c) vs. Chris Brookes
Oh boy. Where to start on this one.
With Chris Brookes leaving for Japan for a year, this was the last chance PROGRESS had of using him… so having him as Cara Noir’s “establishing” defence is a solid choice. So how in Lord’s name have they managed to get ill-will over a match between two of the hottest names in Britwres right now, while somehow glossing over that in PROGRESS canon, it was Brookes who got Cara Noir into the promotion via his Natural PROGRESSion Series nomination?
Well, rather than announce it straight up, we were left with Cara Noir announced for a match, but with no opponent. Until Chris Brookes took to the Schadenfreude Twitch to complain about how he apparently “didn’t fit in with the new era”. A harmless jibe, you’d think, or something for the Twitterati to munch on… and munch on, they did. Glen Joseph bit too, lashing out at Brookes for his behaviour… and long story short, rather than just announce the match, what the kids call “beef” was manufactured… which left a sour taste.
It’s understandable: barring something unforeseen, this is Brookes one and only outing for PROGRESS in the UK in 2020. Announced on four days’ notice – perhaps a little late for people to make plans to get to Cardiff for the farewell. Oh, and the small matter of all of the fallout from this is overshadowing Cara Noir’s first title defence! This’ll be the first time Brookes and Noir will have had a singles match against each other, but unless PROGRESS management have gone potty, there’s no way Chris is taking the belt to Japan with him. Is there?
PROGRESS Proteus Championship: Paul Robinson (c) vs. Danny Jones
Not counting his appearance in the Wembley battle royal, this’ll be Danny’s first appearance in PROGRESS since chapter 73, all the way back in July 2018… although that was more of an angle as he won via DQ in a matter of seconds.
Since then, Danny’s had two tours with All Japan Pro Wrestling, and took part in last year’s Ambition 10 tournament with wXw… which seems to be a bit of a connecting thread for a lot of these Proteus title challengers. Ambition or Tetsujin… then again, that’s probably the best way to establish the knock-out or submission-only rules for this title reign, but part of me would like to see them start to build up, or at least tease a potential big threat for down the line.
I don’t want to be too dismissive here, but I’d be floored if Danny left with the gold, but hopefully a good showing here means he’ll be brought back before PROGRESS visit Cardiff again.
PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: Scotty Davis & Jordan Devlin (c) vs. Anti-Fun Police (Chief Deputy Dunne & Los Federales Santos Jr.)
PROGRESS’ tag team division has been characterised in recent years with fairly-short title reigns – with the last few title runs topping out at the four month mark.
Since winning the tag titles at Still chasing, the makeshift pair of Davis and Devlin have had a few successful defences, overcoming former champions in Zack Gibson and James Drake a month later, while overcoming NXT’s Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan in November. As for the challengers, well the Anti-Fun Police lost in August to TK Cooper and NIWA, but picked up a banana-peel win over Gibson and Drake at Chapter 99 in Sheffield… and with No Fun Dunne winning that reverse battle royal, that’s more than enough to cement them as top contenders it seems, in a division that’s looking awfully light. Much like…
PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Jinny (c) vs. Dani Luna vs. Gisele Shaw
Unseating Meiko Satomura at Chapter 99 saw Jinny start her second reign… but with the women’s division not exactly being rich with challengers, this is already starting to have echoes of her run as Rev Pro’s women’s champion. Remember the Jinny Division?
Anyway, this time around we’ve got Dani Luna and Gisele Shaw as challengers in a three-way for the hell of it… Dani had a title shot in October, having beaten Toni Storm to earn an unsuccessful crack at Satomura, while Gisele Shaw’s only appearance for PROGRESS was in a four-way back in July. Considering how the Medusa Complex of Charli Evans and Millie McKenzie returned to PROGRESS as a pair on the last show, you’d have to think that that’s the next big feud… so I’d be shocked if we had a title change here.
Ilja Dragunov vs. Mark Andrews
Well, it’s the obvious call isn’t it? On a card stacked with names from or local to Wales, Mark Andrews is being given a chance to right a wrong from the last chapter. This one will probably last longer than the eight seconds in Camden, but with Ilja coming oh so close to the gold two weeks ago, he’ll be looking to repeat the result in Wales… although whether this becomes a defacto number-one contenders match will be interesting to see, especially since PROGRESS made such a point of wrapping up Ilja/Noir at the end of 2019.
Chris Ridgeway vs. ELIJAH
We’ve a debut here as ELIJAH finally makes it onto PROGRESS. Chris Ridgeway’s going to be around the UK indies for a little while after wrapping up another tour with Pro Wrestling NOAH, and I’d have to think this would be a straightforward win for Ridgeway… except he only “just” had a Proteus title shot in December, and I can’t see PROGRESS having a quick turnaround and going right back to him.
Connor Mills was due to face William Eaver on this card, but Eaver’s suspension looks to have put paid to that… while PROGRESS have teased something with Gene Munny on the card. Standing tickets are all that’s left – and we’ll update this if any new matches get added to the bill before show day…