Released online for free, PROGRESS’ 13th main show featured the first ladder match in the promotion’s history, and a violent-yet-awesome angle. Both of which featured Jimmy Havoc. Unbelievable, Jeff!
#TLDR: Chapter 13 saw some good wrestling, some weird booking, a fantastic angle, and the promotion’s first flirtation with ladders and a celebrity.
The Full Review: With a little involvement from Sky Sports presenter Chris Kamara, PROGRESS returned to the Electric Ballroom for their 13th chaptered show, entitled “Unbelievable, Jeff”.
If Jeff had been a cameraman, that phrase may well have been uttered by management, as a problem with the hard camera meant that some of the show’s video quality wasn’t as high as usual, and the show was mostly made up of mobile camera shots.
So, instead of selling a substandard product, the guys at PROGRESS posted the whole show on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it2coTptmlM
For a show featuring Prince Devitt (now Finn Balor) vs. Zack Sabre Jr, and a ladder match with Jimmy Havoc and Mark Andrews, you’ve got no excuse to skip this!
The show opens with a video of Glen Joseph trying to get Chris Kamara to do the “this is PROGRESS” chant, except it’s like pulling teeth for poor Glen. To fit in with the show, the match graphics are all heavily inspired by the lay-out of Sky Sports News, which is a cool touch.
Rampage Brown vs. Darrell Allen
If you’re going “eh?”, Allen was a late sub for an injured Marty Scurll. After being ragdolled, Allen avoided a couple of elbows before dropkicking Rampage to the outside, where he eventually got met with a tope into the aisle.
A savate kick from Rampage knocked Allen to the mat, which started a period of offence from the former PROGRESS champion. Allen’s forced to kick out at two after a backbreaker, before a Falcon arrow gets another near-fall. More offence from Rampage ends with him missing a shoulder charge in the corner and actually fly out of the ring, where a diving dropkick through the ropes sees Allen follow-up with a ‘rana into the front row.
Allen gets a near-fall from a springboard clothesline, before the Razzle Dazzle roundhouse kick got him another two-count, as did a hurricanrana reversal from a piledriver. Despite that, Brown came back with a piledriver out of nowhere, and ended up taking the win. Good opener, with Rampage having been pushed to the edge before firing back for the win. ***
Natural PROGRESSion Series – First Round – Pete Dunne vs. Robbie X
This was the PROGRESS debut for both guys, with Pete Dunne looking almost like a skater – a total departure to the appearance we now know.
Dunne hung himself in the ropes early as he and Robbie went at it, with Dunne getting an early two-count from a roll-up. A handspring out of the corner gave Robbie the opening to take down Dunne with a ‘rana, before a dropkick took down Dunne… and then we had lost footage. We resume with Dunne hitting a pumphandle facebuster – now known as the Drop Dead – for a near-fall, as Dunne started to target Robbie’s knees.
Dunne catches Robbie in a Trailer Hitch in the middle of the ring, before letting go. That led to a comeback from Robbie, with a missile dropkick taking Dunne down, before a sit-out powerbomb gets Robbie a near-fall. The crowd got on Robbie’s back for his red face, which perhaps led to a snap suplex from Dunne for a near-fall… and a very bemused look when he clocked one of their chants.
Robbie backdropped Dunne to the outside, then went for an Asai moonsault that sent Robbie into the crowd. A handspring back elbow was caught by Dunne, who dropped him with a tombstone piledriver. Back inside, Dunne takes a roundhouse kick, a springboard Ace crusher and a standing shooting star press before kicking out at two.
Robbie lands on his feet from a missed moonsault, before a springboard’s cut-off by a forearm smash. Dunne grabs a near-fall from a sit-out powerbomb, before grabbing, losing, and re-applying a Cloverleaf. It’s powered out of, and Robbie gets a superkick as the “red face” chants continue.
A second moonsault misses from Robbie though, and he takes a Tiger bomb then a cloverleaf as he’s forced to tap out. Dunne got some boos, which was odd since he’d not been established as a babyface. Otherwise, save for the issues caused by the video, this was a really enjoyable debut for both men. ***
The lost footage stuff was unfortunate, but it did make me think of those comic scenes when someone’s got a major hangover, with all the “*scene missing*” cards…
Michael Gilbert vs. Eddie Dennis
Gilbert is probably better known now as Mikey Whiplash (after transferring away from that gimmick earlier), and here he was playing a “no gimmicks required” act. Like a Stoke-based Chris Candido…
Eddie Dennis cut a promo by acknowledging Gilbert’s gimmick change, and used it to give him carte blanche to change his. So tonight, Eddie Dennis is gonna be Eddie Mysterio Junior!
Dennis hiptosses Gilbert a few times, before landing a dropkick for just a one-count. Gilbert looked visibly annoyed at the whole “Welsh luchador” gimmick, but ended up taking a drop toe hold into the middle ropes… for the 619! Except Gilbert rolled outside to avoid it, and looked to slow things down massively.
Gilbert tripped Dennis and worked a leg grapevine, before a bow and arrow lock ended up going into a front facelock. The match remained slow as Gilbert worked Dennis’ left arm, before Gilbert ripped off the mask! The crowd booed, and even more so after an accidental low blow from Gilbert came as he fell down from a shoulder tackle.
From there, Gilbert grabbed a rear chinlock, then took Dennis with with a capture suplex before locking in an STF. Dennis slowly crawled to the ropes, before Gilbert again went to work over the leg of the Welshman. Dennis’ attempts at firing back led to him being punched to the mat repeatedly, before he was dragged into the corner to have his leg wrapped around the ringposts.
Eddie just about beat the count-out, and went into the ropes to avoid a double underhook suplex, before an atomic drop finally got him some separation. A rolling elbow sent Gilbert into the ropes, where he took an Exploder suplex on the rebound for a near-fall.
Gilbert got angry again and put the Mysterio mask back on Dennis, before slapping him. Dennis pushes out of a Fireman’s carry, then sends him into the ropes for a 61-knee for a near-fall. A Next Stop Driver was flipped out of, before an O’Conner Roll was reversed into a bridging pin for the win. On paper, this told a good story, but it felt a little long and lost the crowd in the middle. Had they had more comedy, or a longer “Gilbert gets mad at Eddie’s non-serious attitude”, this would have been better. **
Number One Contender’s Elimination Match: Screw Indy Wrestling (Mark Haskins & Sha Samuels) vs. Swords of Essex (Paul Robinson & Will Ospreay) vs. Project Ego (Kris Travis & Martin Kirby) vs. London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch)
Thankfully, this was a standard elimination match, with just two men in the ring – as opposed to the triple-threat effort we had a few shows ago. As an unfortunate side note, this’d be Travis’ penultimate match in PROGRESS, as he’d receive his diagnosis of cancer months later, and would wrestle one more match for PROGRESS before his untimely passing.
Kirby worked briefly with James Davis early on, before a pair of tags brought in Rob Lynch and Kris Travis, who used Kirby’s head to clap along to a chant. Travis took Lynch into a corner with a spinning heel kick, and after a brief spell we ended up with Robinson and Samuels in the match. Paul takes down Samuels with some ‘ranas, before Will Ospreay threw him into Samuels for a dropkick.
The match followed the “move, move, tag” formula for a while, before Kris Travis came in and ended up being worked over by the makeshift pairing of Haskins and Samuels, with the latter using his scarf and suspender braces to choke Travis, before it was the Riots’ turn to work over the “Shooting Star”.
There’s a brief instance when Davis tags in Samuels, who returns the favour by slapping him, and we then get a ref bump that wasn’t, as Chris Roberts gets rammed into the corner… but rather than collapsing in a pile, he just squirmed free. Mark Haskins played up to an “Evil Jesus” chant, and finally Martin Kirby tagged in and cleared house on Haskins. An enziguiri got a two count as Samuels broke it up – and nobody else, which made sense in an elimination match!
The ring then flooded, before everyone went to the outside to fight instead. Paul Robinson took a hip toss from the ring into the pile outside, before a Kirby tope and a Travis tope con hilo left a wreck outside. A wreck that Will Ospreay added to with an insane corkscrew flip that was eloquently described on commentary. The crowd followed up with a chant of “you’re all f’ing mental” as a parade of moves featured a superplex, a shooting star press, a spear and a Rainmaker. After Haskins took a beating from Project Ego, he tripped Kirby and dragged him outside, before Samuels and Travis ended up outside… and then the referee counted. Yep, in an elimination match, count-outs were suddenly valid, and both teams ended up being eliminated by count-out. WEAK.
So, we’re left with the Riots and the Swords, and it was Ospreay who was left in the ring with the Riots. Ospreay overcame them with a double dropkick, then looked to make a tag to Paul Robinson, but he was cut-off as James Davis prevented the tag. A rear chinlock almost submitted Ospreay, who took an overhead belly to belly after he fought out, but again was able to kick out at two.
A handspring overhead kick from Ospreay knocked both of the Riots down, before he dragged himself to tag Paul Robinson who… dropped off the apron! Robinson walked out on Will, barely acknowledging Ospreay in the process, and that left Billy Boy all alone. District Line Powerbomb… but he kicked out at two, so the Riots kept pounding on him. Ospreay connected with a double OsCutter as the sound flipped about a bit, but the Riots kicked out.
Ospreay went up top but missed a 450 Splash, and then got thrown up into a pop-up spear as the London Riots won the title shot. Well, all three eliminations came under screwy circumstances (double count-out, and a partner walk-out), but at least they didn’t do any of that illogical “other teams break up covers in an elimination match”. Not great, but the right team won given the ongoing Jimmy Havoc story. ***
Speaking of, Jimmy Havoc and Isaac Zercher came to the ring almost immediately. The London Riots taped Ospreay into a folding chair, as Havoc said that he was done torturing Jim Smallman, but instead he’s going to go after those the fans care about. Apparently this is punishment for Havoc being put in a four-way and a ladder match, and they play the music from a torture scene in Pulp Fiction as Havoc grabs a razor blade from his boots. Ospreay somehow broke the folding chair in all of this (ironically, one of the lines in the song they played, “Stuck in the Middle With You” was “I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair”)…
Havoc looked to cut off Will Ospreay’s ear, until he was saved by Pete Dunne and FSU. As violent as that was, I kinda liked it as a heel angle – Havoc doing what he wanted because he felt wronged. Isn’t that what a heel’s meant to be?
And now back to our regularly scheduled offerings!
Tommy End vs. El Ligero
This was the match originally booked for Chapter 12, before changes to the card saw Ligero pushed into the main event… they started with some basic grappling, before Ligero went to his knees in response to an “El Torito” chant. 2014 everybody!
End took Ligero into the ropes, before a roundhouse kick was ducked, but End avoided a ‘rana by cartwheeling out, only to be taken down at the second attempt. A crossbody takes End down, but he pops back up and knees Ligero in the ribs for a near-fall.
End keeps Ligero at bay with a series of kicks, but a missed corner charge gave Ligero an opening to hit a dropkick from the apron, then a second crossbody for a near-fall. A Rainmaker’s missed by End, but he comes back with a knee to the midsection, before Ligero gets a near-fall from a wheelbarrow facebuster.
A flying double knee takes down Ligero, as a roundhouse kick looked to set up for a finish, but Ligero ducked a roundhouse kick, before countering a German suplex and getting a near-fall from a roll-up. Ligero’s handspring gets cut-off with another kick, as End gets a near-fall from a brainbuster. The deadlift bridging German suplex gets a two-count, before End misses a double stomp, then sees a Quebrada turned into an Ace crusher by Ligero.
Ligero goes up top and connects his Mexican Wave splash, but Michael Gilbert made his way to the ring and pulled Ligero off… and that’s a disqualification. Horrible finish to what was a decent match. But wait, Ligero demands a restart, and runs straight into a small package for a near-fall. Another roll-up gets Ligero a near-fall, before End countered a wheelbarrow facebuster into a Dragon sleeper, as End took the win. I really could have lived without the stoppage/restart, but the match without that was alright. ***
After the match, Gilbert goes into the ring and DDT’s Ligero, and holds onto a Guillotine to choke out the masked man.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Prince Devitt
This was Devitt’s debut for PROGRESS, during the summer between his New Japan departure and his arrival in WWE/NXT as Finn Balor. For this show, Devitt stuck to his cosplaying act, and came painted up and dressed up as the Joker. Unfortunately, we got some of the audio problems here as the entrance music and ring announcements distorted somewhat.
Devitt started with a dropkick taking Sabre into the corner, then the top rope double stomp and… thankfully this was not a 10 second squash! Sabre kicked out, and once Devitt disrobed, he took Sabre down off the top rope with an enziguiri. Devitt maintained the upper hand, before Sabre started to target the left arm of the Irishman.
Someone in the crowd shouted out “Devitt, stop being such a joker”, which got that guy the boo that joke deserved… Sabre grabbed a wristlock as the pair fought wristlock/armbar attempts. After working free, Devitt slapped the holy hell out of Sabre with chops that increased in volume (sound-wise, at least), before he was finally sent to the outside where he took a running PK from the apron.
A battle of uppercuts in the crowd led to Sabre and Devitt nicking a drink from fans, before Devitt went under the ring for a steel chair. Sabre’s sat in it, and he’s sent flying into the crowd courtesy of a running dropkick. After dragging himself back into the ring, Sabre takes a double stomp and a Reverse Bloody Sunday for a near-fall. The pair trade shots, before a half-nelson suplex dumps Devitt on his neck, and a PK results in a near-fall for Sabre.
From the kick-out, Sabre goes for an armbar, but Devitt makes the ropes before the move could be applied fully. Sabre took a sheer drop brainbuster, but somehow grabbed another armbar, as Devitt again made the ropes. Out of nowhere, Sabre got dropped with a clothesline, before Devitt connected with another top rope double stomp for a near-fall. Devitt followed that up with a roundhouse kick, then the Bloody Sunday lifting DDT, and the future Finn Balor took the win.
A fantastic match; a dream match that for once lived up to expectations, and one you should go out of you way to see… hell, it’s on YouTube for free, so you’ve no excuse! That match started at 1h 17 on the video, if that’s all you want to check out… ***¾
Ladder Match for the PROGRESS Championship: Mark Andrews vs. Jimmy Havoc (c)
The story here is that this was Andrews’ chance to regain the PROGRESS title that Havoc stole from him at the end of last year. Since then, Havoc’s rain of terror had seen him beat Zack Sabre Jr. and win a four-way, but until now, there had been no rematch…
Instead of hanging the PROGRESS staff over the ring, there’s simply a clipboard and a piece of paper reading “I.O.U. ONE TITLE” there. Which handily allowed Havoc to nail Andrews with the staff at the bell, before Andrews hit a couple of headscissors to send Havoc to the outside.
Havoc took a hard Irish whip into a wall, and then it was ladder time. If you’ve seen British ladder matches, you’ll know how low to set your expectations for ladders in British wrestling… Havoc was repeatedly cut-off as he tried to climb up, but Andrews kept getting thrown out.
Andrews took a powerbomb into the ladder that’d been propped in the corner, before the same ladder was dumped onto him on the floor. Havoc then grabbed a table from under the ring, before tossing Andrews into the wall a couple of times. The table’s used and actually supports the weight of both men, before cracking (and staying intact) just as Andrews dropped Havoc with a Side Effect through it.
Andrews looked under the ring for a second ladder, and took that into the ring – and thankfully this one was taller. Albeit, still a “British wrestling ladder”… Havoc used a chair to knock Andrews off it, and then threw a number of chairs at the Welshman on the floor. Another table came out, but Andrews countered a powerbomb with a DDT onto the apron, before placing Havoc onto said table and going to the top rope… but Havoc got of the table. Instead, Andrews took a snap suplex on the floor, before Havoc used the table as a crash mat, with a diving powerbomb off the apron sending the former champion through it. That looked brutal…
Back in the ring, Havoc set up the ladder – and put the securing brace in the middle (despite being called Havoc, Jimmy likes his ladders to be safe!) – but he leapt down to stomp away on Andrews some more as he got back into the ring, before he was slammed onto a steel chair. Havoc tossed it at the Welshman, demanding he stay down, but a defiant Andrews kept on getting up, so Havoc moved the ladder away and sat him in a chair. It was a bad move for the champion, as his charge into the corner ended with him taking a hiptoss into the chair.
Going outside, Andrews grabbed a chair and rammed it into Havoc’s midsection. A low blow from Havoc killed that comeback, and earned Andrews another chair, as they fought in the aisle. Havoc brought out a third table, which was eventually used as Andrews drilled Havoc through it with a senton bomb.
Andrews rolled back into the ring and looked to climb the ladder, but Havoc wasn’t too far behind, and he was stopped. Havoc took a couple of chairs and placed Andrews across them, but his dive was thwarted as the former champ popped up and sent Havoc head first into the pair of chairs… again, that looked nasty. The London Riots came out to help Havoc as Andrews looked to climb, but they were cut-off by Eddie Dennis and Pete Dunne who evened up the numbers and tossed the Riots out of the equation.
An Acid Rainmaker from Havoc took down Andrews as the Riots and Dunne/Dennis ought outside the ring… Havoc joined them for some reason, as Andrews opted to climb the ladder… and instead of grabbing the contract, he dives to the outside. I get the whole “he’s protecting his friends” bit, but that’s straight out of babyface logic – do a dive first, rather than grab the contract and dive later.
The Riots continued to brawl with the rest of Defend Indy Wrestling, and eventually headed to the back. A fourth table was set up outside the ring, and both men decided to climb the ladder, which led to a fist-fight on top as the pair had their hands on the contract, with a headbutt knocking the pair down to the mat. They went onto the top rope, with Andrews hitting an enziguiri to send Havoc crashing through the table, and that cleared the way for him to take his title back. Right?
Except… no. Out came Paul Robinson as Andrews was on his way up, with a series of chairshots being used to take the challenger out. Robinson’s part of Havoc’s crew, and he made sure Andrews couldn’t get back up as Havoc climbed to the top and retained his title. After channelling the spirit of Jack Swagger in trying to undo the clipboard…
Well, after Paul Robinson abandoned Will Ospreay earlier in the show, the heel turn was expected, but to have the “pay off” so quickly, was not. As a ladder match, this was really good – they played up Havoc’s character of winning at all costs, without either man doing too much that was insane. ***½
For a show that’s been released for free, you can’t go wrong here. Sure, the audio/visual issues are noticeable, but compared to some other indy shows, this isn’t too bad. At the very least, it’s a good show to get new fans interested in the entire PROGRESS concept – the nature of the crowd, the chants and the overall atmosphere and a fair chunk of the roster.
As a show, this was a bit of a mixed bag. As usual, there was some fantastic action, with Sabre/Devitt stealing the show – as predicted – but there was also a couple of matches which raised eyebrows. Gilbert/Dennis went on way too long, whilst the tag team four-way felt cheapened by the way the eliminations came about.
Fortunately, we did have a stunning angle with Jimmy Havoc that raised the bar. Once you removed the storylines, I would dare say that this was among the weaker of the recent chapter shows.