We’re back with another PROGRESS chaptered show, and it’s the start of life with a heel Jimmy Havoc, for “Glory Follows Virtue As If It Were Its Shadow”
#TLDR: Chapter Ten broke some new ground for PROGRESS as they crowned their first Natural PROGRESSion series winner, started their tag team title tournament… oh, and ended up with two new champions to boot. Just a quiet show then!
The Full Review: We start with the usual pre-show video, as Mark Andrews has a sit-down interview concerning his Natural PROGRESSion Series final tonight. Paul Robinson has a similar interview, standing by Tower Bridge. Except the mixing between his interview and the background music is skewy, so you can barely hear him.
Mikey Whiplash vs. Tommy End
Jim Smallman’s back as the ring announcer after being wiped out by Jimmy Havoc last time out. Tommy End is also back, after his impressive debut at chapter nine… whilst Mikey Whiplash is hoping to add his name to those who’ve had impressive debuts.
Whiplash goes for a leg grapevine, and lands a legdrop across the limb before going to a toe hold. End rolls through and reverses the hold, before trying for an early cover. End’s trunks are pretty reminiscent of some of CM Punk’s old designs, for whatever little that’s worth, and Whiplash goes after End with another wristlock.
Some headscissors keep Whiplash grounded, but he headstands his way out of it, and grabs a headlock takedown back on the Dutchman. End rolls into a cover attempt, but Whiplash turns the headlock into a cravat, before End works through and takes him down with a headlock. Whiplash keeps an armbar, and works back into a hammerlock of sorts, before wrenching back for an Indian deathlock on the arm.
End trips Whiplash and grabs a toehold, which Whiplash escapes and goes back to a wristlock, whipping the arm down to the mat. After a brief spell outside, End gets rolled to the mat in another armbar, but he reverses the wristlock and goes into another headlock on Whiplash. End starts with a kick, but gets cut-off with a shoulder block, only to drill Whiplash with a knee to the face.
A leg lariat from Whiplash gets him a two-count, before End works out of a Fireman’s carry and knocks Whiplash into the ropes with a series of kicks, before a rebounding lariat knocks End to the mat. Whiplash goes up top and lands a kneedrop for a two-count, before a suplex is blocked by End, who slips out and lands some more kicks. From a roll-up, End gets a near-fall, before he goes up top for a double stomp to pick up the win. A fine opener, and I must say I wasn’t expecting this to be as technical as it turned out to be. ***½
PROGRESS Tag Team Title Tournament Semi Final: Grado & Mad Man Manson vs. Project Ego (Kris Travis & Martin Kirby)
We must either be in 2013 or 2014, because Grado’s here! Manson’s sat in the corner for his entrance, before he goes up to fondle Kris Travis in the nether regions.
The two teams swap corners before we get going, and we’re starting with Travis and Grado. Grado starts by working a wristlock on Manson, before doing some rapid chops “because he watched some New Japan last night”. Travis starts with a waistlock, then a cravat, and a hammerlock, and back to the cravat as he has no answer for Travis’ basic holds.
Finally, Grado tries to roll through, but he gets stuck and nearly pins himself, as he finally reverses it. Travis is more successful with his reversal, but turns around into a poke to the eye by Grado. Grado’s kicked in the thigh, before giving Travis a pratfall, and then kicking Travis low as he tried a leapfrog.
Another kick to the midsection follows, as Grado lifts up Travis in a Fireman’s carry for an F5 apparently, but Travis lands on his feet and drops Grado with a forearm. Yeah! Kirby gets tagged in next, as does Manson, and we get the Crystal Maze taunts for Kirby… Manson gets a headlock, then a shoulder tackle to Kirby. Manson takes a hiptoss, before Kirby gets him in a haeadlock, as Manson shouts that he’s “forgot the spot”, so we go “slow motion”.
An ultra slow-mo spot of rope running follows, with a shoulder tackle as Kirby and referee Chris Roberts slowly take Manson to the mat. Okay, that bit ruled!
Kirby runs the ropes slowly, as the crowd slowly chants “This… Is… Awe… Some…” whilst Glen Joseph comes close to wetting himself with laughter in the background. Manson gesticulates at Travis in slow motion, then gives Kirby a slow hiptoss, and lightly taps him in the back. That doesn’t work, so Grado comes in to join in the slow kicking fun, as does Chris Roberts. Kris Travis then kicks Kirby accidentally at full force, as someone in the crowd screamed “what is going on?!”
Travis runs into a big boot from Grado, as does Kirby, and this becomes the easiest work Grado has ever done, just lifting his right foot up again and again. Mad Man Manson gets in on the act, before Grado’s tossed to the outside, and the wrestling resumes with Travis and Kirby working over Manson.
Manson clotheslines Kirby as he rebounds out of a corner, but a Yakuza kick from Travis knocks Grado off the apron as Manson tried to make a tag. Manson then snorts some white powder and mounts a huge comeback with some atomic drops on Project Ego, before banging their heads together.
The comeback ends with a big boot from Kirby, but the “coked up” Manson takes Kirby off the top and to the outside with an enziguiri. He misses a double axehandle off the apron, and we end up with a load of waistlocks and an accidental conga line! Chris Roberts gets roped into the conga, and we see Jim Smallman and Glen Joseph get involved with a load of fans… What the hell am I watching?!
They go around the bar and back to the ring, as a blown up Roberts takes them back to the ring and all four men hug it out… before Project Ego low blow their opponents, leading to Kirby rolling up Manson for the win. That was insane, but in context, absolutely amazing. Not gonna rate it, because it was all ga-ga, but this is how you do comedy wrestling. It’s not aping someone’s movesets, or arsing around whilst doing some of your favourite moves from the Attitude era, with the ever-faint hope that a clip of you will go viral on Twitter or YouTube.
Doug Williams vs. Nathan Cruz
Cruz has a new ring announcer, Katherine Rose, who brings back memories of Nikita from back in the FWA days. Doug Williams howls with laughter as Cruz’s own ring announcer gets drowned out. Did Nathan fire Fug?
Williams launches into Cruz in the corner, and connects with forearms, a leaping knee in the corner, before a snapmare takes the former PROGRESS champion to the mat. Some European uppercuts see Williams stay on top, before a chop to the chest knocks Cruz silly. The referee separates the pair, as Katherine Rose gets on the apron, but Williams doesn’t fall for her distraction.
Rose throws her jacket at Williams, and that gives Cruz an opening to take him down and lands some mounted punches. Cruz tries for a headlock, but Williams avoids it and works a wristlock, twisting the arm on the way down before tying him in a knot. Williams goes to a cravat that is almost an abdominal stretch, but Cruz again makes it to the ropes.
Cruz quickly gets snapmared to the mat and caught in some legscissors to the head, before doing the not-at-all-awkward “hump the mat spot”. Cruz kicks out at two after that, and gets a way back into the match after a hotshot on Williams for a near-fall. Williams is taken to the outside, and Cruz tries to keep him out there, before kicking Doug as he re-entered the ring.
Williams takes a chop in the corner, then a punch to the head, before the referee had to separate them as Cruz choked him against the bottom turnbuckle. Williams made a comeback with a kick to the inner thigh, then a clothesline for a two-count, only for Cruz to make another comeback, landing a slingshot back suplex for a near-fall.
Cruz locks Williams in a surfboard stretch, then works it up into a sleeperhold, and takes Williams to the mat, where he finally breaks free with a jawbreaker. Williams slaps away at Cruz, but falls to a leaping knee from Cruz for just a one-count, so Nathan unloads with some punches on the mat, then scores a two-count. Some more kicks and forearms from Cruz follow, as does a suplex, before he goes up top for a diving headbutt, but he misses Williams entirely.
Back to his feet, Cruz gets rolled up in a small package for a near-fall before Williams takes him to a corner with some headbutts and a knee strike, with an Exploder sending Cruz back out of the corner. A knee-lift and a clothesline drops Cruz for a two-count, before Cruz held onto the corner to avoid a Chaos Theory, but a crucifix from Williams gets another two-count.
Cruz counters a waistlock with an Ace crusher for a two-count, before Katherine Rose catches Williams on the top rope. That lets Cruz connect with a Finlay roll, a Vader bomb and a knee trembler for a near-fall, with Williams just about kicking out in time. Williams got shoved from his knees to his back, as Cruz went up top again, but missed a double stomp, and ran into a big boot in the corner from Williams, who then came flying off the top rope with a back elbow.
From there it was only a matter of time, as Williams shoved Cruz into the corner, and connected with the Chaos Theory for the win. A perfectly fine match, with Nathan Cruz sealing back-to-back defeats. ***
Mark Haskins vs. Adam Cole
Then-ROH and PWG champion Adam Cole was an unannounced surprise as Haskins was doing the Open Challenge gimmick. Haskins did some great heel work on the mic towards some fans and the PROGRESS trainees.
Haskins jumped Cole at the bell, and ran into him with a knee to the face in the corner, before Cole’s brief comeback ended with an eye rake. Cole lands a dropkick that sends Haskins out of the ring, under what looked to be massively loose bottom ropes.
Cole follows him outside, and uses what looks like a nerve pinch before posing for the camera with Haskins, and they continue to fight around the ring. Well, “fight” implies there was a battle; Cole continued to beat him around the ringside area, before he’s rolled back into the ring. Haskins pops up to drop Cole with an arm whip in the ropes, and then sends him shoulder-first into the ringpost.
Cole rolled back into the ring, and had his arm tied up in the bottom rope, before another arm whip against the top rope ensured Haskins kept up the pressure. An armbar forces Cole to drag himself to the bottom rope, before being tossed to the floor once more. Haskins chops Cole after pushing in into the front row, and then locks in an armbar in the crowd, before letting go of the hold to beat the ten-count… and Cole just about makes it back in time.
Cole spits his gum at Haskins, which just sees him whipped shoulder-first into the ringpost, and that just fires up Cole some more, as a superkick drops Haskins to the mat. Some repeated elbows from Cole set him up for a leaping reverse neckbreaker to Haskins, who then rolled out of an armbar and dropped Haskins with a German suplex.
A Shining Wizard gets Cole a two-count, but Haskins elbows out of a Fireman’s carry attempt, only to run into a Yakuza kick, then a version of Hirooki Goto’s ushigoroshi for another near-fall. Cole climbs to the top rope, but leaps down as Haskins tried to shove the referee into the ropes to crotch him.
Haskins comes back with a brainbuster for a near-fall, then placed Cole on the top rope, only for a superplex attempt to be blocked and turned into a sunset flip powerbomb. A Shining Wizard gets Cole another near-fall, but his attempt at a superkick is blocked into a backslide for a near-fall, then a lariat from Haskins that sends Cole down.
Haskins tries for the pumphandle driver, but Cole pushes out and lands a superkick to the back of the head, before a brainbuster onto the knee scores the ROH champion the win. A good match, with yet another loss for the “Screw Indy Wrestling” group – you’d think they were in the process of being phased out… ***½
PROGRESS Tag Team Title Tournament Semi Final: The Bhangra Knights (Darrell Allen & RJ Singh) vs. London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch)
This stems from ENDVR 2 where the Bhangra Knights demanded – and were granted – this match. Jim Smallman goes as far away from the ring as he could, and demanded the crowd to turn their backs on the London Riots. A lot of them did it… and the Riots got no theme music either.
Rob Lynch got in the face of a couple of the fans who’d turned their backs, and there was quite the vocal pro-Riots contingent as well. This was a pretty surreal entrance, and played well into the “they’re here, but we don’t want them” storyline.
Darrell Allen kicks James Davis to start with, but Davis unloads on him with strikes, before a leg lariat takes him down briefly. Allen fires back with kicks, before taking down Davis with a tiltawhirl headscissors. Rob Lynch runs in, and gets tossed onto the apron, where Singh superkicks him to the floor before a cannonball keeps Lynch outside.
Back in the ring, Allen lands a hurricanrana to send Davis down, before a RJ Singh baseball slide dropkick rocks the Riots. Allen continues the hectic start with a tope con hilo into the second row. Rob Lynch tags in and drops Singh with a forearm strike, before Singh countered with a big boot, only to be folded in half with a German suplex from Lynch.
In came Davis again, and Singh was flattened with a double shoulder tackle, before Lynch fish-hooks the mouth of Singh. A clothesline is ducked by Lynch, who almost went for a vertebreaker on Singh, with Davis dropkicking him down. Some more double teaming got the Riots another two-count on Singh, who finally made the hot tag to Allen, as a double missile dropkick took down the Riots.
Rob Lynch took the Razzle Dazzle roundhouse kick, whilst James Davis was rocked by an enziguiri on the apron, and then a pair of spinning suplexes. Singh ran in with a senton bomb, and a tope con hilo to the outside, as Lynch and Allen clotheslined each other to the outside. The two teams fought on the outside, and with neither team making it, the referee called for a double count out. I’m not a fan of non-finishes, but this match was short enough and played off of a storyline, so it didn’t matter too much – at least they fit a lot in during their short time! **½
Post-match, James Davis avoided a Bhangra Buster on the outside, before sending Singh up into a pop-up spear as all four men were laid out on the floor. The crowd hated the double count-out finish, but they cheered as the brawls continued, with Allen getting speared through a fire exit… Jim Smallman apologised for the non-finish, as the crowd chanted “go and get them” as he acknowledged that they couldn’t restart the match “because there’s no wrestlers here”. So the crowd chanted “hardcore rematch”, with the response to that led to a rare instance in PROGRESS history where the fans’ reaction forced their hand… and led to Smallman announce a rematch for their second anniversary show in 2014: as a streetfight!
PROGRESS Championship: Rampage Brown (c) vs. Stixx
Wins over Nathan Cruz and Mark Haskins got Stixx this title shot, it seems, and he’s looking to complete the hattrick over “Screw Indy Wrestling”. They grapple to begin with, before a tie-up sees Stixx take Rampage into the corner.
A slap from Stixx ends a brief shoving match, before a series of strikes leads to Rampage being sent head-first into the turnbuckle. Stixx ducks a clothesline, then avoids a piledriver attempt before they stand-off. Rampage quickly dives for the ropes to avoid a single-leg crab, but fails to drag Stixx to the outside, as the challenger instead follows him out and rolls him back in.
Rampage pounds away on Stixx as he returned to the ring, but Stixx quickly regained an advantage with a front suplex as Robo Barnett seemed to take over on commentary. Stixx lands a back elbow, but a double axehandle off the top is met with a Rampage dropkick to send Stixx to the floor.
Back in the ring again, Rampage kicks away at Stixx in the corner, but Stixx comes back with some uppercuts, only to get whipped into the turnbuckles hard. Rampage grabs a rear chinlock to a kneeling Stixx, then drops him with a clothesline for a two-count. Stixx surprised Rampage with a leap over in the corner, rolling into a sunset flip for a near-fall, before Rampage dropped an elbow for a two-count… and back to a rear chinlock.
Rampage drills Stixx with a Falcon arrow for a near-fall, before he goes to the top, only for Stixx to catch him twice, and finally send him crashing with a superplex. From their knees, both men exchange right hands and uppercuts, before Stixx lands a big boot and a powerslam for a near-fall. A clothesline, roll forward and a sliding lariat gives Stixx the chance to climb to the top, and he connects with a diving shoulder tackle for a two-count.
Stixx goes up top again, but Rampage sidesteps another shoulder tackle, and gets a near-fall from a Samoan drop. A second Samoan drop is countered into a crucifix for a near-fall, before Stixx drills Rampage with a spear for another two-count. Rampage is dragged up, but reverses a suplex for a near-fall, before going to the outside, where he’s met with a slingshot plancha from Stixx.
Brown climbs up on the stage, and backdrops Stixx up there as he tries to get the cheap countout win. Stixx barely beat the count, and somehow rolled up Rampage out of a piledriver attempt for a near-fall, then lands a Bossman slam for a two-count. Stixx then followed up with a single-leg crab, but Rampage was way too close to the ropes.
Stixx tried to keep on top, but his attempt at an Irish whip was cut-off, as Rampage hit the piledriver out of nowhere for the win. A pretty enjoyable match between the two big men, but that finish seemed to come out of nowhere. ***½
Natural PROGRESSion Series Final: Paul Robinson vs. Mark Andrews
The winner of the tournament – and therefore this match – gets a shot at the PROGRESS title, and an unannounced surprise…
They start with a tie-up, as Robinson takes Andrews to the corner for a clean break. The favour’s quickly returned, and Robinson works on a wristlock over Andrews, who reverses the hold and turns it into an arm wringer. Robinson reverses again, and turns it into a snapmare and an armbar, whilst rolling through for extra leverage.
A waistlock takedown sees Robinson put on the mat, but he quickly gets a hammerlock and knees Andrews in the ribs. After a sunset flip, Robinson catches a kick from Andrews, before he pulls off an amazing tiltawhirl satellite headscissor takedown on the Welshman.
Andrews leaps over a diving Robinson in the corner, then lands a dropsault. Robinson drops out of a full nelson and kicks Andrews in the head. Andrews takes another kick, but hands a hurricanrana then a double stomp to Robinson for just a two-count. After they both get back to their feet, Robinson kicks Andrews and goes for a rear chinlock, before another dropkick gets Robinson a two-count.
Robinson hooks away at Andrews’ eyes during an armbar, before he slaps away at Andrews’ back and lands a few uppercuts. Andrews hits a couple of forearms, but gets shoved away, before connecting with a 619 to Robinson’s back and a springboard dropkick back into the ring. Robinson went on the floor and just about caught a tope con hilo from Andrews.
Back inside, Andrews dropped Robinson with a Northern Lights suplex and a corkscrew moonsault for a near-fall, only to get backdropped onto the apron, with a brainbuster waiting for him after he returned to the ring. Robinson went up to the top and missed a leaping legdrop, then missed a spinning roundhouse kick as Andrews drills him with a reverse ‘rana. After kicking out of a small package, Robinson connected with the roundhouse kick for a near-fall.
The pair traded forearms from their knees, then worked to their feet, before duelling cross bodies saw both men collide with each other in mid-air. The camera shows Will Ospreay in a Green Lantern t-shirt cheering on Paul Robinson (part of me wants that to be a dig at a certain indie super-fan…)
Andrews gets to his feet first, but his move to climb the ropes ended with Robinson crotching him on the top turnbuckle, and drops Andrews with a top rope rana, then a spinning corkscrew kick as Ospreay was losing his mind at ringside. Andrews kicked out at two as the more reserved Eddie Dennis watched on. Robinson crashed and burned with a shooting star press, with Andrews rushing into the corner with a dropkick, and followed up with a super belly-to-belly moonsault for the win! That was nuts – some parts you could pick apart for psychology and selling, but this was a fantastic way to crown the first ever NPS tournament. ****
Andrews and Robinson shook hands as Jim Smallman entered the ring with a trophy for the winner. This wasn’t a cheap “wooden shiny pole”-style trophy, but a nice big football-style cup. Seriously, it was the size of a normal man’s head!
Smallman confirms that Andrews gets a title shot at the choice of his choosing, then allowed the winner of the tournament to add someone who’d been eliminated from this year’s (2013) tournament, into the 2014 tournament. Andrews chooses not to put Eddie Dennis in,and reinstates Will Ospreay into the tournament… just as well he was in the building, eh? Oh, and that obviously means he’s back in PROGRESS after he’d lost a loser-leaves-town match to Andrews earlier. Personally, I’d have preferred that to have been done separately from the finals, but it got the pop they wanted, so who am I to argue?
That wasn’t the only shock, as Andrews cashed in his shot straight away. So we have an impromptu main-main event…
PROGRESS Championship: Mark Andrews vs. Rampage Brown (c)
Cruz leads Rampage to the ring, and mocks Andrews’ size. Andrews takes out Rampage with a plancha, then sees a springboard cross body caught and turned into a backbreaker by the champion.
A lariat dropped Andrews, with a Falcon arrow getting Rampage only a two-count. Andrews takes a snapmare and a kick to the back before a cocky one-foot cover gets another near-fall. Rampage drills Andrews with the sit-out powerbomb and gets a series of near-falls in quick succession, and that leads Rampage to berate the referee… and leave him open for a schoolboy as Andrews pulled off the shock win!
Andrews rolls out of the ring as the crowd erupted, and he celebrates in the crowd with the Natural PROGRESSion Series trophy and the PROGRESS championship staff. Eddie Dennis and Mark Andrews returned to the ring to celebrate, with Andrews being paraded about on the shoulders of the larger Welshman. Then things took a dark turn…
The London Riots hit the ring, as Jim Smallman and Glen Joseph made a beeline for the bar once again, and laid waste to Andrews and Dennis. Jimmy Havoc entered the ring and smashed Andrews with a chair like he part-owned the company, as Dennis was taped to the ringpost.
Havoc took the microphone and had a bit of a foul-mouthed back-and-forth with Jim Smallman. Andrews took some more chairshots, before Havoc pulled out a contract that entitled him to any match in PROGRESS. Smallman told him he wasn’t getting his match, so Andrews took some more chairshots.
Smallman refused to give him the match now, so Havoc went to his jacket and grabbed a bottle of lighter fluid, and sprayed it on Andrews. That made Smallman change his mind… but Havoc had one more demand: he wanted Jim Smallman to be the referee. Jim refused at first, but once Havoc laid out referee Chris Roberts with a death valley driver, Smallman had no choice.
PROGRESS Championship: Jimmy Havoc vs. Mark Andrews (c)
Jim laid as close to the edge of the ring as he could, and slowly made the count… but Andrews kicked out at two!
As Smallman hid behind a security guard, Andrews pulled himself to his knees, and took a chair to the face, then several more shots to the back. The stand-in ref didn’t disqualify Havoc for that, despite the crowd’s chants of DQ. Havoc picked up Andrews and dropped him with the Go Home Driver (Jig n Tonic, MK Ultra, whatever you wanna call it) as Smallman reluctantly counted the fall. New champion!
Smallman left the ring in disgust and threw the championship staff into the ring, as Havoc and the London Riots celebrated the fruits of their violent labour.
Havoc threatened to kill any of the wrestlers who “touched him” on the way out, and that was the end of things. Well, not before Eddie Dennis took some more punishment… Jim Smallman sat in the ring, cross-legged and all despondent, apologising to the crowd, Mark Andrews and Chris Roberts as they looked to formulate a game plan.
This was certainly a notable show, where the Jimmy Havoc storyline blossomed. After several shows where Havoc lost matches he really should have won, and then his massive heel turn at chapter 9, this is where PROGRESS kicked into a higher gear, storyline wise. Yeah, I’ve seen where it’s gone, but I can’t wait to see how it gets there!