Continuing our #BACKFILL series, and we’re back to Camden’s Electric Ballroom for PROGRESS Chapter 22 from October 2015, and the overly-titled “Trust, Encouragement, Reward, Loyalty, Satisfaction”. If that sounds familiar, it might be because you’re a fan of a British comedy…
We open up with a spoof of a scene from the British version of The Office, featuring the GZRS’ Tom Irvin in the role of David Brent. Funny if you get the reference, and still pretty good if you didn’t!
Dave Mastiff vs. Jack Gallagher
Gallagher returns after his win against William Eaver last time out, but he’s got a much more formidable foe in the 300lb-er (okay, 22 stone) Mastiff. Gallagher gets the “Nigel Thornberry” chants from the off, and I tell you, with the size difference, I kinda fear for the British Simon Gotch here.
This never really got going, with Gallagher’s ground-based offence easily being neutralised by Mastiff, before the referee pulled a Charles Robinson and did a roll in the ring. Gallagher lost a test of strength but somehow kept the bridge even after Mastiff leapt on him, before Mastiff countered a roll through attempt and turned it into a Sharpshooter.
A few minutes into the match, we’re stopped by a Scouse accent, and it’s Zack Gibson coming onto the stage. Gibson’s looking to hire both of these guys into the Origin, and it’s Mastiff who accepts – headbutting a distracted Gallagher in the back of the head, before locking him in a guillotine for the quick win. A nothing match, but at least it wasn’t offensively bad before the storyline kicked in **
Mastiff cements his heel turn after the match, scything down the crowd with a promo, before confirming his place in the Origin.
Natural Progression Series III Quarter Final Match: William Eaver vs. Tyler Bate
You know the drill here, it’s a Sunday PROGRESS show, featuring “Pastor” Eaver, so you can guess the chants he gets. Bate’s dressed in black trunks and black boots, echoing the New Japan Young Lions… I wonder if he’s going to use a Boston Crab as a finisher?
They have a pretty solid technical match, starting with the usual grappling, before Bate takes Eaver to the outside and catches him with a knee off the apron. Back in the ring, Eaver misses a Fisherman’s suplex, but quickly gets a two count from an apt Crucifix pin, before Bate escapes the Last Supper (Crucifix Powerbomb). Bate flips out of a Boston Crab attempt and scores a near fall, following up with a Mustache Ride (airplane spin) for another two-count. Bate went for a moonsault, but landed on his feet… only to be turned inside out by a Clothesline from Heaven (that nearly sent Bate to heaven) as Eaver took the win.
Good match, maybe a little on the short side, but for two Pro-Jo graduates, perfectly acceptable wrestling **¾
The post-match saw Jim Smallman put over Bate’s ability – with an audible gasp from the crowd as they found out that he was just 18. If he keeps his head screwed on, he’s got a good chance at a great career.
Jonathan Windsor & Rampage Brown vs. The GZRS (Sebastian & Tom Irvin)
Ah, the “card subject to change” special – this was a rematch from a match at a prior ENDVR show (kind-of like a PROGRESS B show), where the planned GZRS vs. Project Ego match was turned to GZRS vs. Martin Kirby and Rampage Brown (subbing for the retired Kris Travis). Kirby then had to drop out due to a family emergency, and was replaced by Pro-Jo trainee “Lord” Jonathan Windsor.
Smallman called this the “singalong section” of the show, and we’re in for a comedy match, even if Rampage sticks out like a sore thumb here. Tom Irvin came out still dressed as David Brent in the opening video, complete with the ride-along emu, which did a mocking superkick to Jim Smallman in the intros.
It’s all comedy, with the emu costume getting chants in the early portion of the match, but Sebastian finally starts the wrestling with an armbar, before begging off for some more comedy… and Sebastian pulls down Windsor’s trunks and his rear end is on display for way too long. Rampage backs off the apron in disgust, a look which remains on his face when the referee throws the emu out of the match.
After the shenanigans, Windsor unloads on Irvin with repeated elbowdrops, as he insists on wrestling the whole match as the crowd turns on Windsor’s less than flattering physique. Sebastian makes the tag in and flattens Windsor with an STO for a near fall, before doing their best to incur the wrath of Jerry McDevitt by ripping off the Dudley Boyz’ act. The GZRS being a slip-n-slide into the ring (and a bottle of water), but Rampage gets tagged in and caught up in the slip-n-slide.
Windsor then tags himself back in quickly, only to get in Rampage’s bad books… and become the recipient of a lariat. The Slip-n-Slide then comes into play, as Rampage throws Irvin down it head-first into Windsor’s Crown Jewels. Rampage exists stage left, as Irvin gets the win with the Stunner. Well, it served it’s purpose – pure comedy – and I suppose the bell-to-bell action wasn’t horrible. **½
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Mark Haskins
Ciampa gets the welcome back chants, whilst Haskins is main-eventing the first half of this show after coming off second-best in his PROGRESS title match against Will Ospreay last time out. Early on, Ciampa played up a few comedy spots, teasing Haskins into an armbar whilst immediately grabbing the ropes the second Haskins touched him… problem was, this was following a pure comedy match, so it wasn’t as effective as it could have been.
Ciampa played up the comedy of the match (again, probably not the best match placing to do that), as he failed at a kip-up, before succeeding with the help of Haskins and the ref, and doing a celebratory lap of honour. A handshake then sees the switch flip from comedy to wrestling, and we finally get underway, and it segues into a hard hitting battle, with Ciampa suplexing Haskins into the ringpost, before throwing him into the seats. More seat carnage follows, as Ciampa wrecks a fan’s seat by throwing Haskins into it.
Ciampa’s heelish act continued by grabbing a cardigan from a fan in the crowd, and wiping it over his chest and nether regions… classy! Another chair gets wiped out as Ciampa smashes Haskins with an Emerald Fusion, but back in the ring that only scores a near-fall with the crowd going mild for the kickout. Haskins fires back with forearms and kicks, before catching a cross-armbreaker on Ciampa, which gets turned into a one-armed powerbomb, but Haskins switches into a Triangle choke that is easily escaped.
Haskins takes a lot more punishment, including the Project Ciampa for a near fall, but he manages to evade a second Project Ciampa to catch a Death Valley Driver before rolling through for a series of armbars and a Rings of Saturn to score the tapout win! Good match, even if it felt like two different bouts badly stitched together – they could have done without the comedy, but they made up for it with the finishing run. ***½
Post-match, Ciampa gave a speech acknowleding his signing with WWE/NXT, and hinted that this may be his final match in the company (spoiler warning: it wasn’t!). We then had a weird promo video for the Paul Robinson/Will Ospreay main event, before returning to Jim Smallman in the ring, announcing that PROGRESS was selling season tickets for their shows… and they sold out of those too!
Marty Scurll vs. “Flash” Morgan Webster
This is Scurll’s first match in PROGRESS since his full-blown heel turn on Kris Travis after what turned out to be his final match… and this match was designed to push the new persona.
And saying that, it was Webster who scored the upper hand, catching Scurll with a tope to the outside before grabbing a near-fall with the Special Brew (imploding senton flip), before Scurll went into his Villain playbook, throwing Webster’s motorcyle helmet at him – forcing the referee to remove the helmet, and giving Scurll an opportunity to poke Webster in the eye.
Scurll’s heel tactics continued as he pulled the hair to get out of Webster’s Brit Pop Drop (Hirooki Goto’s Ushigoroshi/fireman’s carry into a neckbreaker over the knee), but he nailed it at the second attempt, before scoring a near-fall from a crossbody off the top rope. Webster was forced to kick out of a bridging powerbomb as Scurll got back into things, following up with a reverse suplex and a diving forearm.
Webster caught a break and went for a 450 Splash, but Scurll threw his coat and blinded Webster, before going for a Chicken Wing, then seguing into a crossface, and a double Chicken Wing (Cattle Mutilation). Scurll snapped Webster’s fingers, but that seemed to rile up the youngster, who went for a waistlock. That led the pair into the corner, where Scurll had the ref caught up, giving him the cover to kick Webster low – twice – and then score the win with his feet on the ripes. Another good outing from these two, designed to underscore that Scurll is now someone the fans shouldn’t be cheering. ***½
Post-match, Scurll ripped on the crowd saying that he was fed up of spending his life looking for a character that the fans would accept – and the Villain is really him. “If you people think this is a gimmick, why don’t you go and ask Kris Travis” – a line that drew shocked “oohs” at the time, but could quite easily be taken badly in hindsight.
Scurll threatened to leave the company, and potentially go to ROH, New Japan or NXT, and that seemed to be the cue for Tommaso Ciampa to make his way to ringside, only to pass a message onto Jim Smallman – and that’s a set-up for Chapter 23, where Smallman “spoke to a friend of his originally from Blackpool”, and booked Marty Scurll against Tommaso Ciampa. So much for “this was my last match”!
The Origin (Dave Mastiff, El Ligero, Nathan Cruz & Zack Gibson) vs. The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) & The Sumerian Death Squad (Michael Dante & Tommy End)
Looking at the card going in, this one had “brutal” written all over it, and it wasn’t in the bad sense of that word either. Rob Lynch was back for the London Riots, despite suffering a neck injury at an ENDVR show a month earlier (that forced the match to stop).
They don’t even get through the ring introductions before the match starts, as the Origin jump the London Riots during their announcement, and after Nathan Cruz gets killed by the babyface team, the match quickly spills to the outside. Rob Lynch did a running dropkick off the apron into the crowd as he took out Ligero, and we ended up going back to “this is hard to follow” territory with everyone fighting all over the place.
Shortly after James Davis threw El Ligero into the seats, Rob Lynch took a German suplex in the ring, and they start to sell it like he’s reinjured his neck. To add the emphasis, they keep the match going (so it doesn’t look like a planned spot), with Mastiff catching him with another release German suplex. Glen Joseph leaves the commentary booth to check on Lynch, and the match keeps going in the crowd as they tend to Lynch.
The crowd sort-of lost interest in the match whilst Lynch stayed down, which was unfortunate as the sort of brawling in the crowd should have generated some heat, particularly with the heels having the numerical advantage. Lynch got some applause as he was helped out of the ringside area… eventually, as el Ligero went to attack him on the stage as he was helped out. Lynch then rose from the dead, picking up Ligero in a press slam, before tossing him into the Origin crew. So much for the injury… what was the point of all that?
Back in the ring, Tommy End leathered Ligero with his elbows, backfists and forearm trios, and we end up in a series of rolling one-on-one matches, with everyone hitting spots before partners swapped in and out. A standard finisher sequence followed, with Dante hitting a deadlift backdrop driver on Mastiff, before Gibson is wiped out with the pop-up spear and the Anti-Hero from both teams for a near-fall.
The finish looked awkward as the Riots and the SDS had a miscommunication, leading to arguments between the two, allowing Dave Mastiff to sneak (?) into the ring and get the roll-up for the win. Not sure on the logic of the biggest man in the match having to sneak up, but eh, it was a fun brawl, which seems to be the spot that the SDS occupy on the card here, but the situation with Lynch took me out of the match for a while. I’m generally not a fan of the fake injury spots – especially when it’s playing off of something from real life. Like the earlier sequence in the show, I don’t get why they played off of the same thing two matches straight (comedy for two matches, then serious injury in two matches). ***¼
A video package for the PROGRESS title match follows, going from the start of their feud, set to what I think was a song from a WWE Hall of Fame highlights package… then a bit of AC/DC. It was a nice touch, and added to the big match feel that, feud aside, could have been lacking given that this was Will Ospreay defending against a man who, prior to the Havoc match, was largely nowhere near the main events.
PROGRESS Title: Paul Robinson vs. Will Ospreay (c)
Long-time followers of the British scene will know that these two were former tag team partners, having teamed up as the Swords of Essex. In the earlier days of PROGRESS, they split up and had only one prior singles match before this. Unfortunately, despite Robinson’s hard-case appearance, and his legitimate kickboxing background, there would have been very few expecting him to walk out of this with a win.
As you’d expect they started off quickly, whiffing on kicks and blocking each other’s offences, with Ospreay’s kicks sending Robinson out early, following up with a dropkick to a seated Robinson in the crowd. After knocking Ospreay off the top and to the floor, Robinson started to unload on his former tag partner, kicking him in the stomach before punching him in the stomach. The abdominal stuff continued, as Robinson trapped Ospreay in the ropes to strike him in the kidneys, and the champions midsection continued to suffer as Robinson ducked a cross-body outside, with Ospreay getting nothing but the post.
Robinson then dribbled spit onto Ospreay’s midsection, and rubbed it in, before kicking Ospreay again as he went for a handspring off the ropes. Ospreay managed to hit a roll-through into a rana to send Robinson into the ropes, but dualling crossbodies saw the pair collide in the middle of the ring.
Ospreay hit a unique move – a reverse DDT swinging into a lungblower, before handspringing into an enziguiri and a twisting standing somersault for a near fall. Robinson countered an Essex Destroyer with a roll-up for a count of two, then drilled Ospreay with a running DDT and some diving knees off the second rope for another near fall.
Robinson slid out of the ring to avoid a 630 Splash, but instead opts to hit a running shooting star press off the apron and onto the floor. Back in the ring, a twisting star press is met by Robinson’s knees, who then responds with a curbstomp off the second rope for a near fall. An Acid Rainmaker gives Robinson another two-count, and the crowd start to sense that he might actually have a chance here… only to fall to an Essex Destroyer for a two-count!
Ospreay went up for a 630 Splash, but Robinson nudged the referee into the ropes, sending Ospreay crashing down, and after getting caught up in the crowd’s chants aimed at him, Robinson was caught out when Ospreay ducked a curb stomp and rolled him up out of nowhere to retain the title!
A really solid main event – hurt perhaps by the crowd not taking Robinson as a serious contender for champion, in spite of his offence. Still, a good match – save for the out of nowhere finish – and a good result for the crowd to go home on. ***½
Post-match, Robinson tied up Ospreay in the ropes and was about to continue the beat-down, only to be interrupted by the returning Mark Andrews to make the save, and set up the main event of the next PROGRESS event.
Overall, this was a solid show from top to bottom, with the “bad” match being the storyline-centric opener with Dave Mastiff, and possible the GZRS tag match, depending on how you view comedy in wrestling. That being said, this was a slight step down from Chapters 20 and 21, but that is no slant on this show.