PROGRESS went all Rambo on us with their latest show title, as they looked to one of the world’s best to try and bring an end to Jimmy Havoc’s reign of terror.
#TLDR: PROGRESS presented their last main chapter show at Islington’s Garage, with a fun show featuring two tag team tournament matches, the quick return of the Natural PROGRESSion Series, and the first attempt to dethrone Jimmy Havoc.
The Full Review: The first PROGRESS show of 2014 opened with a music video profiling the rise of Jimmy Havoc, and his descent into insanity. We see Havoc get powerbombed and thrown into things from his long winless-run… Havoc hugging Jim Smallman’s shown, as is Nigel McGuinness’ testimonial to Havoc back from chapter seven… and then Havoc’s heel turn and title win. This was an amazing video to bring people up to speed, especially if they’d jumped into PROGRESS following the buzz generated by the angle.
And then we get some jaunty, war-time-inspired music for the match intro screen!
PROGRESS Tag Team Title Tournament Semi Final: Screw Indy Wrestling (Nathan Cruz & Mark Haskins) vs. Dave Mastiff & Stixx
Katherine Rose is back to do Screw Indy Wrestling’s announcements, and they’ve ditched the win-loss records as a part of the name captions. I guess it’d have looked odd when it got to Jimmy “One Win” Havoc!
Stixx gets double-teamed when he enters the ring, which prompts Dave Mastiff to run to the ring and shove down Mark Haskins as the bell finally goes. Haskins attacks Stixx from behind as he falls into Nathan Cruz, and the heels double team Stixx in the corner, before Stixx lands a sliding lariat on Cruz for just a one-count.
Mastiff tags himself in and connects with a punch to the side of Haskins, who immediately dives out to tag in a scared-looking Nathan Cruz. After eventually getting into the ring, Cruz… immediately tags out. Great heel work! Mastiff brings Haskins in “the hard way”, then launches him across the ring with a suplex, but Haskins rakes the eye of Mastiff to get a brief advantage.
Of course, the much bigger Mastiff easily swatted away Haskins, and hauled him up for a 33-second long hanging vertical suplex… before a much shorter second one took Haskins down to the mat. Now Haskins tags in Cruz, and rolls out to give Cruz no choice but to get in… but he tries to dive between Mastiff’s legs after Haskins got back to the apron. Chickenshit heel Nathan Cruz is a sight to behold, and he once again tagged out.
Stixx tags back in and launches Haskins across the ring with a front suplex, before Mastiff returns to help with a double shoulder block that gets a two-count on Haskins. Mastiff lifts up Haskins in a facelock as Stixx tags in to headbutt the ribs of Haskins, then chopped the back of Haskins in the corner. Dave Mastiff runs in to chop Haskins as Stixx had the referee distracted, but Katherine Rose distracted Stixx as he tried to climb the ropes, and that gave Haskins an opening.
Cruz finally tags in and chops away at Stixx on the floor, before a rake of the eyes leads to Stixx being thrown back in. A dropkick to the back of Stixx’s head gets a two-count, as a tag to Haskins sees the heels land a double-team slingshot back suplex. Cruz connects with a high knee, but Stixx fights back, only to get sent into the middle rope as Screw Indy Wrestling look to double-team.
Mastiff actually made a tag, but the referee ordered him out after he’d not seen it because of some heel distractions, and the heat continued. Cruz took Stixx to the corner and tagged out to Haskins once more, but Stixx ducked a double clothesline and hit some back elbow strikes. Cruz cut off Stixx yet again, but a Bossman slam took down the former champion, and allowed Stixx to make the tag to Mastiff.
A massive flapjack took down Haskins, with a back senton getting a near-fall. Mastiff’s cut-off with a clothesline, but a low crossbody flattens Haskins for another two-count, before a deadlift German suplex gets a similar result. Cruz tags in and lands a shoulder block off the top rope, before Haskins cuts off Stixx’s superplex attempt.
Cruz and Haskins hit a double stomp neckbreaker on Mastiff, then a back cracker on Stixx in the corner. That’s followed up by the Show Stolen on Stixx, and a leaping kneedrop from Haskins, as it was Mastiff’s turn to break up the count. Another German suplex sends Cruz into the corner as Katherine Rose slides into the ring to protect her charge from a cannonball dive.
Rose gets picked up by Mastiff, but Cruz cuts him off with a knee to the outside, then a plancha, allowing Haskins to drop Stixx inside with a dropkick and a clothesline for a near-fall. Haskins then followed that up with a superkick to the head, then a pumphandle driver for the win. Decent opening tag team match, but my God that heat segment at the start was long. ***
Natural PROGRESSion Series II Quarter Final: Josh Bodom vs. “Flash” Morgan Webster
We’ve only just finished the first tournament, and now we’re into the second one! This was Bodom’s debut for PROGRESS – in what was a short-lived career there, it has to be said – and by this point, Bodom had already built up quite the body of work for companies like FutureShock Wrestling and Revolution Pro.
The pair shake hands at the bell, and they start with a lock-up as Bodom – without the crushed velvet trunks he’d later wear – took Webster into the corner. After a break, Bodom wrings the arm, then puts a knee to Webster as he tried to flip free, and then switches it into a hammerlock.
A waistlock takedown sends Webster to the mat, before the pair go back and forth on front facelocks, until Bodom gets another hammerlock. Webster frees himself and scores a side headlock takedown, which gets turned into some legscissors from Bodom, but Webster flips over and kips up out of them.
Bodom again goes for the arm, with a judo-style throw to take Webster back down, before they work back up and eventually see Webster take Bodom into the corner with an armdrag. A missed corner charge sends Bodom down, and Webster slingshots into the ring for a roll-up for a near-fall, then hits the imploding senton (that’d later be called the Special Brew Flip), before a leg lariat decks Webster for a two count.
Webster takes a couple of chops in the corner from Bodom, them a slam for a near-fall, before a stiff PK-style kick to the back sends Webster down for a two-count. A pair of running European uppercuts rocks Webster again, then Bodom hiptosses Webster into a knee strike for another near-fall.
Webster pulls himself up in the corner, but takes a few punches in the midsection, before he flips over a charging Bodom and lands a clothesline off the ropes. The comeback continued with a hurricanrana off the middle ropes, sending Bodom to the outside, and in position for a a somersault plancha! Bodom gets tossed back into the ring, as Webster goes up top for a springboard moonsault press for a near-fall, and then again, only to be caught with an enziguiri whilst on the top rope.
Bodom then drags Webster between the ropes as he was on the apron, and catches him with the Bliss Buster (or “a rope-hung piledriver”), but Webster kicks out at two! A high-angle German suplex gets Bodom another two-count, before another German suplex is countered, with Webster’s wheelbarrow roll-up sending Bodom face-first into the bottom turnbuckle.
Webster fires back with chops and a pair of leaping knees, before he’s again caught on the top rope. A series of headbutts knock Bodom down again, and Webster finishes him off with a 450 Splash for the win. A fine outing for Webster, and also for Josh Bodom in what would be his only Chapter appearance so far. ***½
El Ligero vs. Noam Dar
This is Dar’s first match back in PROGRESS since his unsuccessful title challenge (against Ligero) at Chapter 7. He’s been out with injury, and after Dar’d given his ring jacket a fan, that apparently turned him face. Which is odd, since the last few times he’d been here, he was booed out of the building for being Scottish.
Ligero responds by throwing a Mexican flag into the crowd, so I guess this is now face vs. face?
Dar misses an overhand chop at the start, and we’ve got a slow opening, eventually going into a knuckle lock and then a headlock takedown by Ligero. After Dar’d worked free, Ligero leaps over him in the corner, and goes back to the headlock takedown, keeping tight hold of it when Dar tried to push him into the ropes.
After Ligero nailed a shoulder block takedown, Dar pulled off a leapfrog, only to find himself back in a headlock before shoving him out of the ring. A flurry of strikes took Ligero into the corner briefly, but he rebounded with a series of roll-ups for a near-fall, before he rolled out of a Champagne Super-Knee-Bar attempt.
Ligero throws Dar to the floor, then mocks the Dar pose as he faked out a dive. He then headstands in the corner and gets mocked, as one youngster screams “you suck Noam Dar!”. So far, this isn’t anywhere near as good as their prior matches…
Ligero turns it up a notch with a suplex for a two-count, then snapmares Dar so he can follow-up with a low dropkick for a similar result. Dar gets kicked in the ribs as Ligero stalked him, whilst the fans sang the Imperial March in slow-motion… now, where’s our slow-mo match?
Dar’s caught in a rear chinlock as the chanting just about stopped, but the Scotsman started a comeback with a Dragon screw off the top, then a leaping forearm into the corner. Dar took a couple of pages out of John Cena’s notebook with a spinning side slam, then a poke to the eye of Ligero.
The masked man dropped Dar with an Ace crusher after rolling out of the corner, but he took too long in making his next move, and was caught in the Champagne Super-Knee-Bar, albeit too close to the ropes. Dar went for another Dragon screw, but had to change up into an enziguiri, then a Fisherman buster for a two-count.
Dar grabbed Ligero and draped his leg over the bottom rope, as he set up for a double stomp off the top, but Ligero popped up and ended up going for a superplex. That didn’t work, nor did Dars’ attempt at a sunset flip powerbomb, so he slipped out and took a kick to the head from Ligero as he remained in the corner.
Dar lands a forearm smash in retaliation, before missing a lariat and taking a superkick from Ligero. A C4L missed and led to a brain chop from Dar for a near-fall, as he channels the Great Khali. The pair went back and forth, before a Ligero uppercut sent Dar into the corner, and then tosses him to the floor as he was selling his shoulder. So Ligero shoves him into the ringpost, corner-first, and then lays into Dar’s right shoulder.
Ligero tried for a move on the apron, but Dar wriggled out and transitioned into a Dragon screw with Ligero between the ropes. That was followed with a Yakuza kick to the outside, and then Dar landed a tope, before he went into the crowd and on top of the bar. Just because. Back at ringside, Ligero lays into Dar with some kicks to the head, and then picks him up in a fireman’s carry, before dropping him into a few rows of seats with a death valley driver.
Dar picks himself up and gets back into the ring to narrowly beat the count, and then laid into Ligero with a forearm. So he got taken down with a crossface, as you do, and nearly shocked Ligero with a roll-through into a two-count. Dar fights out, and gets another near-fall when he rolls back, before finally getting the ropes.
Ligero immediately went for the C4L DDT, but Dar caught the leg and applied the Champagne Super-Knee-Bar, before breaking via the ropes. Dar then switched it into an STF, again forcing Ligero to go for the ropes, before Dar again set up for a double stomp through the leg. Dar took too long, and ended up rolling back into the ring selling the shoulder, going for another Fisherman’s buster. Ligero fought out and dropped Dar with a superkick, then the C4L, but Dar kicked out at one!
After flipping off Ligero, Dar countered a second C4L into a roll-up, and scored the win. As a match, this was a little wonky – when it got going, it was really, really good, but that first half really must have come across better live. When the fans’ songs were the better part of the match, you know you’re in trouble, but it got real good by the end. ***½
Dar gets his jacket back from the fan after the match, but only after he posed him like an action figure him his shape. He then took the mic (Dar, not the fan) and cut a funny promo acknowledging his injury, saying that he wasn’t worried about joining the growing numbers of British wrestlers wrestling abroad. And 30 months later, he’s a member of WWE’s cruiserweight division! Dar’s after the PROGRESS title, and he’s going to cut the “Nazi eagle” off of the big stick and turn it into a light sabre. Alrighty then! I now desperately want the WWE Cruiserweight title to be a big stick…
PROGRESS Tag Team Title Tournament Semi Final: Swords of Essex (Paul Robinson & Will Ospreay) vs. FSU (Eddie Dennis & Mark Andrews)
The winners of this match enter the three-way for the PROGRESS tag titles at Chapter 12 – We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Room – the company’s debut in what is now their spiritual home of Camden’s Electric Ballroom.
This was Will Ospreay’s first match back after he’d been reinstated into the company by Mark Andrews after his Natural PROGRESSion Series win. To me, it was a little odd that Andrews went from being champion for a cup of coffee, to returning to the tag title scene, but he does get his rematch!
We start with Robinson and Andrews in the ring, and Andrews works a wristlock early, taking Robinson to the mat. They reversed, with Robinson scoring a wheelbarrow into an armdrag, before holding a headlock and keeping Andrews in place so Ospreay could take it over. Andrews drops Ospreay with a tiltawhirl satellite headscissors, then tags in Dennis, who gets armdragged before it gets a big ridiculous and ends with a do-si-do.
Dennis charges at Ospreay, but gets no joy thanks to Will’s flipping, and then asks Ospreay to slow it down “because he has no business in cruiserweight matches”. So instead, Eddie Dennis pulls out a Rey Mysterio mask and turns into Eddie Mysterio Jr, and now we get some lucha-inspired goodness. Armdrags ahoy! Satellite headscissors! But Paul Robinson blind tags in and leaps into a chokeslam as Dennis rips off the mask after the crowd chanted for a 619… or whatever Eddie’s area code would be!
Andrews tags in and works over Robinson, locking him in a Romero special, before Dennis tags back in and picks up Robinson from that into a swinging side slam for a near-fall. Robinson tries to fight back, but the bigger Dennis simply swats him down, before Andrews returns and collides with Robinson as the pair went for cross-bodies at the same time.
Both men tag out, and Dennis is taken to the outside with a ‘rana from Ospreay, who follows them to the floor with a shooting star press off the top rope into the pile on the floor. Rolling Dennis back in, Ospreay only gets a two-count, before Andrews tags in and drops Will with a Northern Lights suplex and a standing corkscrew moonsault for a near-fall. Dennis returns and drops Ospreay with the stuff Next Stop Driver as Andrews stomped on Ospreay mid-move, but Will kicked out again at the count of two.
Robinson blind tags himself in and drops Andrews with a tornado DDT for a two-count, before saving Ospreay from a death valley driver with a dropkick to the knee of Dennis. Dennis keeps Ospreay up though, and ends up being inadvertantly used as a platform for Robinson to throw himself off onto Andrews for a near-fall.
Eddie Dennis squashes Ospreay, but takes an enziguiri from Robinson, who eventually is floored by a top rope clothesline from Dennis. Robinson again fires back, but gets punched into the corner by Dennis. That forces a tag to Ospreay, but Robinson again comes back, and gets used as a prop for a show of strength as Ospreay’s given a Samoan drop, whilst Robinson… a fallaway slam.
Another tag brings in Andrews once more, but they telegraph a double team back body drop, which ends up with Andrews taking a spinning kick from Robinson as he was held up for a TKO by Ospreay, before Will finished off the move. Dennis breaks up the pin at two after a standing shooting star press from Robinson.
Ospreay teases a reverse ‘rana, but Dennis blocks it, only for the move to be successful at the second attempt. Andrews’ attempt at a springboard dropkick is blocked as he’s held upside down by Ospreay for a dropkick from Robinson as Andrews landed almost like he’d messed up a Styles Clash. Dennis follows up with a crucifix buckle bomb on Ospreay, but Robinson low bridges Dennis to the floor and goes for a crossbody… but he’s caught as the legal man Andrews flies into the ring with a springboard Dragonrana, and gets the win! That was insane – plenty of high flying, without it feeling like “spot-spot-spot-spot-spot…” – a fantastic tag match from all four of these guys. ****
After the match, Eddie Dennis recalls why Mark Andrews is no longer the PROGRESS champion… and also explained that electrical tape really can stop a guy. Dennis challenges the London Riots to a fight “next weekend” – that’d have been on the ENDVR 3 show.
Rampage Brown vs. Tommy End
Rampage jumps End with a bicycle kick during the introductions, then clubs away at the Dutchman’s back. End’s tossed to the floor quickly, and recovers by kicking Rampage in the chest near the ringposts, and then returns to the ring for more kicking and punching flurries in the corner, only for Rampage to explode out of the corner with an uppercut.
End went outside again from there, but this time it was Rampage who took the offence, headbutting End, and then rolls him back in for a two-count. After picking up End, Rampage clubs away at the Dutchman in the corner, before a forearm sends End dropping to the mat. A high-angle backdrop suplex gets the former PROGRESS champion a near-fall, before he stomps at the midsection of End.
End finally blocks an avalanche, but gets caught quickly as he tried for an axehandle off the top, as Rampage rammed him back into the corner. A side Russian legsweep gets Rampage another two-count, before Brown went into a grounded bear hug on End, who elbows free and rolls up Rampage in a wheelbarrow for a near-fall.
More kicks from End rock Brown, before his quebrada moonsault attempt is caught by Rampage. End fights free and drops Brown with a springboard crossbody, then a leaping knee strike, and then an Asai moonsault off the turnbuckles to the floor. End is capable of some scary stuff for a guy his size, that’s for sure!
End misses with a top rope double stomp, before he gets flapjack’d and takes a Falcon Arrow for a near-fall from Brown. Rampage catches a hurricanrana from End, turns it into a powerbomb, before landing a lariat for yet-another two-count. End flips the bird at Rampage, then surprises him with a roundhouse kick, before his attempt at a crossbody is met with a lariat as Rampage takes the win. A good, hard-hitting match – nothing special, but it served to keep Rampage hot after his title loss last time out. ***¼
Rampage promises to get the PROGRESS title back, after losing it in a match “he didn’t agree to”. Fair enough then.
PROGRESS Championship: Jimmy Havoc (c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Jim Smallman is flanked by security for this one, and referee Chris Roberts refused to officiate this, since he was wiped out by Havoc en route to his title win. In his stead, Smallman announces a special guest referee: Marty Scurll! Hopefully he doesn’t look as, erm, “tired” as he did last time out as a referee, although his striped trousers do make it look like he’s out as in his pyjamas! Yep, even the crowd call him out on him for that.
Sabre’s brought his GHC Junior Heavyweight tag title for the ride, for some reason… Havoc tried to wave off the match and offers Sabre to get a drink, calling back on the trio’s friendship. Scurll calls for the bell, and we’re underway!
From the lock-up, Havoc takes Sabre into the corner, and breaks cleanly, as commentator Jim Barnett calls back to how the last match between these two also had a guest referee. They shake hands, which gets a few boos, and go back to the tie-up, and again, Havoc breaks cleanly after taking Sabre into the ropes. Then he jumps Sabre with clubbing forearms, which get replied with European uppercuts.
Havoc rolls away from a PK attempt as Sabre’d rolled through a sunset flip, but he then gets kicked off the apron and onto the floor, before moving away from a dive from Sabre. A cross armbreaker surprises Havoc, but he’s rolled into the ropes for a break, and then he cuts off a dive with a kick as he laid on the apron. The champion grabs a chair from under the ring as the pair amble through the crowd, but instead he sits Sabre on it, and then misses a cannonball dive onto it, meaning Havoc got nothing but chair.
Sabre connects with a PK on the apron at the second attempt, then started to kick away at Havoc as they were amongst the crowd. Havoc finally ducks a kick, as Sabre connected hard with the ring post, and the comeback was on for the champion. A kneebreaker onto the apron took Sabre down, and then Havoc rushes back into the ring with a figure four leglock, which Sabre eventually freed himself from via a rope break.
Sabre invites Havoc to kick him, and after enduring them, went for a PK on Havoc, only for the champion to grab the leg and roll through into a single-leg crab, but again, Sabre was close to the rope. Havoc chokes away at Sabre in the corner, then lands an avalanche back elbow, before turning into a stiff kick from Sabre.
Some rapid-fire kicks in the corner stun Havoc, as does a Yakuza kick, and some more of those kicks, with Scurll pulling Sabre away to prevent a DQ. Havoc tries a roll-up but only gets a two-count, before Sabre pushes Havoc to the floor and follows-up with a trio of topes. That surprised me, usually in wrestling the third of anything gets cut-off!
Havoc tries to make an exit, but gets caught on the stage and is met with some forearms, before he tries to drop Sabre with a death valley driver into the seats below. Instead, Sabre works free and into an armbar, but Havoc’s tapping means nothing. So Sabre rolls him back into the ring, but doesn’t follow up with a pin, instead he takes his time and gets caught with a knee strike, then an ushigoroshi before Havoc locked in a rear naked choke.
Referee Marty Scurll lifts the arm, but the bloodied Sabre fights back and… into another knee strike, before a high angle back suplex gets Havoc a two-count. Havoc went back to the choke hold, and even a back suplex from Sabre couldn’t break it, but a second one did. Briefly, as Havoc leapt back into the choke. Sabre escapes and lands a Dragon suplex for a two-count, then connects with a PK for a near-fall.
Sabre rushes into the corner with a kick to the chest, then climbs up top, only to miss a double kneedrop, allowing Havoc to connect with a double stomp for a two-count. Havoc got caught on the top rope with a couple of headbutts, before Sabre went for a super Dragon suplex that saw Havoc land on his head! Still, Havoc kicked out at two from that, and quickly went back to a choke hold.
Scurll avoided the typical “squashed referee in the corner” bump, but fell to an accidental kick from Sabre after both men avoided running into him. Which was bad luck really, since Sabre locked in the armbar, but nobody was able to see Havoc’s tapping.
Sabre went to check on the referee, which let Havoc get up and… punt him in the balls! Havoc went for the Go Home Driver, and dumped Sabre right onto the PROGRESS title staff – which had been slid into the ring presumably by a trainee – but Sabre still found a way to kick out before three! In response, Havoc dropped Scurll with a death valley driver, and grabbed the microphone from his trainee friend.
Havoc stood on Sabre’s groin, and demanded that Jim Smallman get in the ring, otherwise he’d choke Sabre to death. Havoc caught Sabre in a rear naked choke, and locked it in with some body scissors, and Sabre slumped to the mat, but Havoc wanted Smallman to do the arm-lift thing that all referees do. Sabre fought out, but Havoc elbowed him and re-applied the hold, forcing Smallman to do the arm-lift again, and this time Sabre couldn’t respond. The bell rang, as some beer mugs were thrown into the ring, and the match is over. Hey, the finish was pure storyline, but the match building up to it was alright – bearing in mind that this was going to be a long-term storyline, you had to keep the heat up on Havoc. ***½
After the match, Havoc wrestled the microphone away from Smallman and said that he will keep messing around with Smallman and the rest of PROGRESS until he’s shown respect. Havoc and his shaven-headed security guard left through the fire exit, as Glen Joseph tended to Zack Sabre Jr. on the floor.
Smallman ended the show by promising to make Jimmy Havoc’s life hell as long as he was champion. Sabre was put over as one of the best in the world, to which he responded by nonchalantly walking off the stage, without even acknowledging it! Scurll gets put over, but at least he acknowledged it, as they promised that Scurll would be back in action, before plugging the company’s next main chapter show – which would be their debut in a bigger room…