We return to Camden’s Electric Ballroom, for PROGRESS’ Chapter 21 event from September 2015, entitled “You Know We Don’t Like To Use The Sit Down Gun”. Google it – you’ll find a video of a talking bird!
Whilst this show featured the last match of Kris Travis, as his comeback ended when his cancer returned to ultimately claim his life, it also marked the start of a new era of PROGRESS, with new champion Will Ospreay having his first title defence.
The show started with two stormtroopers flanking the ring, as Jim Smallman entered to do his usual intro shtick… but not before Sebastian and Tom Irvin ripped off the stormtrooper outfits to get their GZRS pop, and announce that they’re there to answer the Sumerian Death Squad’s open challenge: and their answer, is “no”. Good lads, especially as Sebastian has a shoulder injury. The GZRS build up their match against Project Ego (that was scheduled for the following week’s ENDVR show, except Kris Travis’ retirement forced a change of plans).
The Origin (El Ligero & Nathan Cruz) vs. The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch)
The Origin come in here after their strong showing in the Thunderbastard at the last show, whilst the Riots are now staunch babyfaces. There’s a lot of stalling here, with Ligero not liking the “El Torito” chants aimed his way, which is a great deal nicer than the chants that Cruz got.
As a tag match it was pretty by-the-numbers, with the Riots using their size to their advantage , with Ligero frequently taking powders to the floor. James Davis crushed Cruz with a back senton for a near fall, but the main part of the match seemed to be the crowd chanting “shit horse” at Ligero via a variety of chants. Ligero’s response was to mockingly slap Rob Lynch, and that worked as poorly as you’d imagine, with Lynch tossing Ligero with an overhead belly to belly suplex.
Cruz then gets dumped on his head with an Exploder suplex, before Ligero was wiped out with the GBH (slingshot into a spear)… and Ligero’s night of bumps wasn’t over, as his somersault plancha to the floor was caught by both members of the Riots, who proceeded to dump him into the crowd with the District Line powerbomb (double-team powerbomb).
In the aftermath of that, Zack Gibson made a run in and handed a fork to Cruz, who proceeds to go all Abdullah the Butcher and stab both members of the Riots with the fork, then stealing the win for the Origin. Save for the big bumps, it a solid opener, and was more focussed on the storyline advancement for the Origin **¼
Jack Gallagher vs. “Pastor” William Eaver
This is my first time watching Gallagher, who seems to be a British clone of Simon Gotch, with the Chikara logo on his weightlifting belt for some reason. Gallagher goes after the traditional wrestling holds, but the Pastor was more than able to match him.
Gallagher pulled off a stalling suplex on Eaver for a near-fall, before going into the striking game as Gallagher’s pale body totally screwed up the white balance on one of the cameras. Eaver fires back with a uranage backbreaker before a Fisherman’s suplex for a near-fall, as the match went back and forth, with Gallagher kicking out of a Crucifix Powerbomb. Eaver looked to finish off the match with a Clothesline from Heaven, but Gallagher – clearly watching his New Japan Young Lions tapes – ducked and caught him in a King (Boston) Crab for the submission win. **½
Eaver was serenaded on his way to the back with the crowd chanting “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”… I’m really digging this Pastor character.
Zack Gibson vs. Eddie Dennis
Gibson comes out with Nathan Cruz, just to underscore the events from the opening match, as he’s now a part of the Origin faction. Gibson cuts a promo, but unfortunately his Liverpool accent is so thick that the crowd chants “we don’t know what you’re saying”… but they do get that he’s acting heelish, so I guess that counts.
Another match highlighted by the crowd chants against the heel Gibson, chanting “where’s my car stereo?”, “where’s my hubcaps?” and more to further the stereotype towards Liverpudlians. Gibson targeted Dennis’ arm, but the Welshman was evenly matching Gibson… at least until he got distracted by Cruz, leading to Gibson continuing the arm-based assaults.
Gibson starts to wear down Dennis with a cobra clutch-like move, before using a wrist-clutch overhead suplex to take down Dennis. Despite only having one arm, Dennis is able to hit the swinging side slam, but Gibson retaliates with a springboard lungblower for a near fall, before trying for the Shankly Gates (armbar). Nathan Cruz got himself involved, throwing a fork in the ring towards Gibson, and although Dennis blocks the fork, he succumbs to a low kick and a small package as Gibson picks up the win. **½
As Jim Smallman prepared to lead into intermission, Jimmy Havoc came out – all in white – with Paul Robinson and Isaac Zercher from Regression. Havoc demanded an immediate number one contender’s match for his old PROGRESS title. Smallman agreed, as long as he agreed to a no-disqualification match, against Paul Robinson… with a stipulation that if they pulled a Fingerpoke-of-Doom scenario, both men would be fired.
PROGRESS Title, Number 1 Contendership, No Disqualification Match: Jimmy Havoc vs. Paul Robinson
Isaac Zercher walked out, rather than pick between Robinson or Havoc, and this in turn made Robinson the defacto babyface for this match, even if this was by no means a turn.
After scoring a two count from a roll-up, Robinson slapped Havoc, and then all hell broke loose, moving to the floor, where Robinson was tossed into the crowd, and Havoc then went for the plunder under the ring! Jimmy Havoc did a Francine-esque piledriver off the apron and through a table at ringside, but Robinson kicked out after being rolled back in. Havoc pulled out some more toys, including a plastic bag full of drawing pins/thumb tacks, a frying pan, and a staple gun… oh, and some light tubes, that Havoc tapes to the ringposts. Robinson evades an Acid Rainmaker with a frying pan shot, opening up a cut to Havoc’s forehead, before using a staple gun to give Havoc some, erm, alternative nipple piercings, and finishing off with a staple to the balls.
Outside the ring, Robinson ducks another Acid Rainmaker, as Havoc lariats the ringpost and smashes the light-tubes he’d taped to it earlier, before using the end of the light tube as a shiv, poking it into Havoc’s arm and forehead. Havoc responds by headbuting a light tube into Robinson’s head… twice! Drawing pins came into play, being scattered on a chair, but after introducing them, Havoc was given a hurracanrana off the top rope onto the tack-covered chairs. The rest of the bag of tacks then got emptied onto the prone torso of Havoc, which Robinson then jumped onto with a back senton off the second rope. As you do.
A curb stomp onto a chair was followed by Robinson aping Havoc’s Acid Rainmaker for a near fall, and it was the curb stomp that caused the finish, as Robinson set up light tubes bridging across two chairs, before stomping Havoc’s face through the tube for the shock win!
This was the most violent and gruesome thing I’ve seen in PROGRESS… hell, perhaps in any match for quite some time. Perhaps Havoc coming out all in white should have tipped the hat that way? The heel/heel alignment didn’t have too much impact on this match, as the crowd were into it from start to end. I’m reluctant to score any weapons match high, but for the sheer spectacle, I’m going with it: ***¾
Well, if Havoc losing the title on the last show was the end of an era, this was the exclamation point. Havoc was helped up by Jim Smallman at the end – despite the two-year feud between the two – really signifying the end of Havoc’s reign of terror in PROGRESS (and for how, Havoc’s time in PROGRESS, in spite of his seeming face-turn, as injuries have helped to keep him away from this group since then).
Marty Scurll vs. Kris Travis
Eschewing his trademark gear, Travis was decked out in black trunks with “I’M BACK” on them, and started a streamer fight with his opponent… and you can probably guess who the clear babyface here is! Scurll hugs Travis at the opening bell, before they exchange headlock takedowns, and Travis doesn’t look like he’s skipped a beat.
There’s a (not intentionally) comedic spot at the start where Travis gets backed into the corner and covers up as Scurll went to punch his stomach scar, as the crowd replies “don’t be a d***” – the golden rule of PROGRESS there!
They go back to the headlock, before Travis leaps over Scurll and takes him down with a trio of kicks. Scurll skins the cat to take himself to the apron, where he’s met with another Travis kick that sends him to the floor. Travis joins him there with a tope con hilo that sends him (and Scurll) into the fans, before eventually going back in to score a near fall with a suplex. Scurll tweaks the fingers of Travis to escape a fireman’s carry, then gets a near-fall from a bodyslam.
Scurll went on to block the Deathstar Driver, and takes down Travis with a tornado DDT, only for Trav to pop up and connect with a superkick as both men collapse to the mat. Beating the count, both men trade forearms from their knees, before Scurll floors Travis again with his “Just Kidding” superkick to the knee. Travis immediately responds with a bicycle kick and a German suplex, but his superkick is replied to with a lariat that turns him inside out.
An Orange Crush on Scurll gets another near-fall, but Scurll ducks a kick to the head and locks in the chickenwing submission, before drilling him with a powerbomb and bridging over for a pin that gets only a two-count. Scurll follows up with a reverse suplex and a forearm for another near-fall.
Travis staggers into another chickenwing, but is able to elbow himself free, only for Scurll to catch both arms and transition the move into the Cattle Mutilation (double chickenwing). Travis rolls free, but Scurll switches it into a standard chickenwing. Some elbows free Travis again, who then counters a suplex attempt by Scurll into a small package for the surprise pinfall victory in what’d sadly turn out to be his last ever match. ***1/2
Post-match, Scurll kicks Travis in the stomach and locked in the chicken wing to the predictable chorus of boos for “the Villain”.
PROGRESS Tag Team Title Match: The Sumerian Death Squad (Michael Dante & Tommy End) (c) vs. Roderick Strong & Adam Cole
This time around, the SDS’ tag team shields made their way through customs, and their open challenge here is answered by a pair of imports – straight out of Ring of Honor, it’s Roderick Strong… and his tag team partner “bay-bey” Adam Cole, which sets the crowd on fire.
Well, after those two surprises, this could be chinlock city and this crowd will eat it up!
They brawl on the floor early on, but once they made it back into the ring, the SDS used a double-team flapjack to take Cole out of the match. Strong was able to get back into things, but tagged out to Cole when the fans started giving him stick for his fashion choices. Again and again.
Strong and Cole worked well together as a team, with Strong locking End in a version of the Rings of Saturn before Michael Dante came in to break it up, and Dante was a house of fire when End finally made the tag in, laying out both Cole and Strong with clotheslines. Towards the end it started to suffer with a lack of psychology – hitting and missing moves then quickly going into the next spot – but it didn’t affect the crowd, who reacted with shock when Dante saved End.
End wiped out Cole with a leapfrog stomp, before getting a near-fall with another double stomp off the top when Strong broke the count. Dante and Cole traded forearms, before a hattrick of superkicks sent Dante down for a two-count, before Dante and End were trapped in a Figure Four and a Stronghold respectively, but the champions reversed the holds.
In the end, it needed Strong to miss a high knee on Cole before the SDS connected with the Anti Hero to retain their titles. That’s two good matches from two title defences from the Dutch duo! ***¾
PROGRESS Title Match: Mark Haskins vs. Will Ospreay (c)
Haskins gets this title shot as a result of being the the Thunderbastard at the last show, and started off by trying to make sure Ospreay wrestled his kind of match, rather than Will’s high flying norm.
Haskins locked in a Sharpshooter early on after switching out a Wheelbarrow, with Ospreay making it to the ropes. Whenever Ospreay was able to leave the ground, Haskins blocked it, and kept the champion grounded, with a Tiger Driver onto the knee sending Ospreay reeling into the corner.
The match remained suitably fast-paced throughout, with little slow-down, even when Ospreay dumped Haskins awkwardly with a springboard cutter, getting the champion a near-fall. Haskins responded by flipping Ospreay out of a headscissors and kicking him bar, then locking in a flipping/bridging armbar, before scoring a near fall from a lariat.
Ospreay got caught with an armbar that quickly segued into a crossface, with Haskins positioning himself between the champion and the ropes, but Ospreay snuck out and delivered Kalisto’s Salida del Sol for a near fall. Haskins gets his knees up for a Shooting Star Press, and caught Ospreay in a Triangle choke, which Ospreay somehow managed to get out of and drill his foe with a buckle bomb.
Haskins scored a two count after a roll-through into a Death Valley Driver, but his effort at a super reverse ‘rana saw Ospreay land on his feet, and drill Haskins with a regular reverse ‘rana, before nailing the Essex Destroyer and a Phoenix Splash for a two count. After missing off the top rope, Haskins caught Ospreay with the Made In Japan (half nelson driver), but the champ kicked out!
After that scare, Ospreay turned up the heat with an imploding 450 Splash, then nailed the 630 Splash to retain the title. An absolutely amazing main event that quickly built to a fast pace and, amazingly kept going at that clip for almost twenty minutes. ****¼
From top to bottom, another really good show that really kicked into life with the impromptu violence that was the no-DQ match. A definite must watch!