PROGRESS opened up 2016 with a return to Camden, and a show headlined by champion Will Ospreay defending against the “Villain” Marty Scurll, in a card named after what many were hoping would happen to Scurll – “Chat Shit, Get Banged”
For the non-British reading this, this card was named after a saying made popular by Leicester City footballer Jamie Vardy… and given that he was well on the way to becoming a Premier League winner by the time this card took place, it’s hard to argue with his logic.
PROGRESS Tag Team Titles: The Origin (El Ligero & Nathan Cruz) (c) vs. FSU (Eddie Dennis & Mark Andrews)
We start off hot with a PROGRESS tag team championship match, and weirdly for PROGRESS, the tag team champions come out first. This is a continuation of the long-running Origin/FSU feud, and whilst there’s no Zack Gibson at ringside (Dave Mastiff was banned from ringside for this), there’s always the risk of the numbers game coming into play. One thing that definitely did come into play was the crowd chants of “you’re just a shit El Torito” at El Ligero.
Cruz and Andrews started things off, with Andrews using the ropes to work around Cruz, before Eddie Dennis came in and flattened Ligero. The Origin employed a strategy of quick tags as they focussed on the big man Dennis, often with two-on-one attacks. Ligero then picked up one of FSU’s jackets and openly mocked them, which gave Dennis enough time to make the tag to Andrews, who somersaulted into the ring for a hurricanrana, before Cruz met Andrews coming off the top rope with a dropkick of his own.
Eddie Dennis looked to pull a Michael Elgin by trying the fallway slam/Samoan drop combo, but the champs fought free, only to fall to a double suplex from Dennis. The Origin then blocked a Next Stop Driver attempt, before catching a plancha from Andrews, and dumping him onto the apron. Back in the ring, Dennis dropped Ligero on his head with a swinging side slam, but a running knee by Cruz dazed Dennis, who fought back to hit a buckle bomb on Cruz. It then got a little spotty as all four men were left laying in the ring, before Andrews was caught with a trio of moves – a double knee driver from Ligero, into an elevated DDT from Ligero and finally a German suplex from Cruz for a near-fall.
FSU catch Cruz with the Next Stop Driver, only for Ligero to pull the referee out of the ring, before Dennis gets shoved into the ringpost. Ligero then slid in the PROGRESS tag team title shield, allowing Cruz to drop Andrews on the shield with a tombstone piledriver to secure the win. A good match, without much of the usual Origin shenanigans, and this match was better for it. ***¾
Ahead of the next match, they took the mickey out of a referee who looked like a non-ginger Sami Zayn when they gave him a Yorkshire-style flat cap. They even had someone from the crowd to teach the ref how to do it (paging @themib…)
Natural Progression Series III “Redemption” Match: Damian Dunne vs. Tyler Bate
This was a do-over from earlier Natural Progression Series matches, after prior qualifier Sebastian dropped out of the tournament (and as of time of writing, hasn’t been back in PROGRESS since). So, they brought back losing quarter-finalists Damian Dunne and Tyler Bate for a second chance.
Bate started off early with wristlocks, almost like a younger clone of Jack Gallagher, with a little bit of Marty Scurll thrown in as he pulled off a finger snap on Dunne. Bate kept the advantage over Dunne for large parts of the match, scoring a near-fall from a crossbody, but Dunne’s running knee to the midsection turned the tide.
An enziguiri from Bate rocked Dunne and started a comeback, featuring an abdominal stretch and an octopus hold, before they traded strikes, ending with a headbutt by Bate and the Moustache Ride (airplane spin). Despite dumping Dunne in the other corner, Bate went to the opposite side of the ring and successfully drilled him with a diving headbutt off the top for a near-fall.
After scoring a two-count from a flying knee out of nowhere, Dunne then connected with a springboard codebreaker on Bate and secured the win. That finish blindsided me, but it capped off a good match that – weirdly – didn’t have a load of pinfall attempts. ***¼
Michael Dante vs. Rob Lynch
This was Dante’s first singles match in PROGRESS, previously having tagged with Tommy End as part of the Sumerian Death Squad. At stake here was the right to choose a stipulation for the meeting between the SDS and the London Riots at a future show.
Even though this match featured only half of the two teams, it was as hard-hitting as you’d expect, with Lynch and Dante leathering each other with strikes in the early going, with neither man budging. An enziguiri from Rob Lynch staggered Dante, who finally was taken down with an overhead release belly to belly suplex, with the Dutchman spilling out to the floor. Sadly, Lynch went to follow up with a running attack off the apron, but he had his legs clipped by Dante, meaning that Lynch took a nasty bump to the floor.
Lynch recovered to hit a tope on Dante on the floor, before throwing him back into the ring, where Dante replied by… laughing at him. Cue more forearm shots, ending with Dante dropping Lynch with a half-nelson suplex, before hitting a shoulderblock for a near-fall. Lynch retaliated with a lariat for a near-fall, before getting the job done with a spear – good, Strong Style-esque match, but that finish again seemed to come from nowhere. ***½
Post-match, James Davis joined his tag partner in the ring with Jim Smallman to confirm their choice of stipulation for their match against Dante and “his MMA wannabe partner”: tables, ladders and chairs. Smallman recoiled in horror – no doubt thinking of all those trips to B&Q and Homebase for heavy duty ladders…
Zack Gibson vs. Mark Haskins
This is to crown the next number-one contender for the PROGRESS title, with Morgan Webster (who also lost in the three-way title match at Hit The North) seemingly out of contention here.
They went at it early on, with Haskins trying (and failing) at a sharpshooter, before Gibson found a new chant aimed at him: “Jonjo Shelvey” (since he hears a slight resemblance to the potato headed Newcastle United player). Gibson targeted Haskins’ taped up left shoulder, but Haskins ended up pulling off a wheelbarrow and transitioning into a sharpshooter.
Haskins then moved onto kicking Gibson’s chest, but the Scouser retaliated by trapping Haskins on the apron, and using the ropes to whiplash him down to the floor, adding more pain to the injured shoulder. Gibson tossed Haskins shoulder-first into the post, and brought him back to the ring to keep up the assault, scoring a two-count from a keylock DDT, with the story turning into “is the title shot worth possible injury?”
Haskins fires back into trading strikes with Gibson, taking him down with a leg kick and then following up with a tope out to the floor, before resorting to kicks, with a Dragon screw taking Gibson to the mat. Gibson then missed a dive off the top rope, and fell into an ankle lock from Haskins, only to kick out of the hold.
Gibson found himself struggling to get up, but was able to fold Haskins inside out with a clothesline for a near-fall. An attempt at the Shankly Gates was aborted, before Gibson’s attempt at a Tiger bomb was turned into a triangle choke, and then a cross arm-breaker, and finally a bridging armbar, which Gibson broke via the ropes. More forearms are traded, but Haskins avoids the London Dungeon, then catches a roll-through into a death valley driver for a near-fall.
Haskins then went for a stretch muffler, only for Gibson to reach for the ropes, and then catch Haskins with a codebreaker off the top rope for yet another two-count. Gibson followed up with another Tiger bomb, but scored another two-count, and then went for the Shankly Gates on the injured left arm of Haskins. Gibson lost control of the hold, and after several reversals, found himself locked in the stretch muffler with no choice but to tap out. What a match – helped all the more by the lack of Origin chicanery! ***¾
Paul Robinson vs. “Flash” Morgan Webster
Since Jimmy Havoc’s departure from PROGRESS, Robinson has found himself at something of a loose end, with little direction since losing to Will Ospreay (after winning the title shot by beating Havoc on his last night in).
It’s the usual maniacal opening from Robinson, with him being thrown to the outside and throwing a fit after Webster got the better of the early exchanges. That led to Robinson grabbing a chair and trying to kick Webster low, but failing in the process. Webster launches himself onto Robinson on the outside with a cannonball dive off the apron, before slingshotting himself into the ring for a two-count from a roll-up. It was all Webster in the opening stages, but Robinson yanked him into the middle turnbuckle and then started with the windmill punches on the ground.
Robinson then hooked away at Webster whilst holding him in a camel clutch, before returning to the windmill strikes. “Flash” Morgan regained the advantage with some headbutts, then nailing a moonsault press off the second rope, but found himself crotched in the corner as if Robinson were going to deliver Shattered Dreams, but Webster freed himself and rolled up Robinson for another two-count.
Webster got caught on the top rope, but headbutted himself free, only to miss a 450 Splash and get lariated to death by Robinson. A grounded Webster took more shots from Robinson, who resorted to biting when Webster flipped him the bird. Webster connected with the Brit Pop Drop (Hirooki Goto’s ushigoroshi – fireman’s carry into a neckbreaker), then the Baba O’Riley (Christopher Daniel’s Angel’s Wings) for a near-fall. Robinson rolled out to escape a 450 Splash, but trapped Webster in the corner for a curb stomp to get him another two count.
That two-count seemed to enrage Robinson, who resorted back to the windmill punches, intentionally catching the referee, which earned him a DQ in the process. A fairly anticlimactic finish, but the match told a good story, of Webster frustrating the violent Robinson, and almost squeaking a win. ***¼
Dahlia Black vs. Toni Storm vs. Jinny vs. Pollyanna
It’d been a while since PROGRESS have had a women’s match on a main Chapter show, so here we go with a four-way! We started off with Jinny gee-ing up Dahlia to run at Pollyanna, only for Jinny to pull her back by the hair in an early spot to show who the alpha female was between those two.
Jinny then got caught by Pollyanna and Toni for a double team buckle bomb, as the match quickly broke down, following a cool spot where Dahlia and Jinny were piled on top of each other, before Pollyanna gave Toni a piggyback, and dropped knees onto the pile. Elizabeth ran at Toni when she tried to attack Jinny, whilst TK Cooper found himself low-blowed as he went after Pollyanna. On the outside, Jinny and Dahlia ended up being forcibly placed onto chairs before taking running double knees from the babyfaces, before Toni tried a schoolgirl on Pollyanna for a near-fall.
We saw a cool spot from Dahlia where she capitalised on Toni Storm being draped across the middle turnbuckle, using her as a platform to forearm Pollyanna off the top rope and down to the floor. The cool spots continued with Toni Storm trapping Dahlia Black in a Boston crab, only for Jinny to add in a camel clutch for good measure. Pollyanna then broke it up, only to grab Jinny in a Gory stretch, and then resume the camel clutch/Boston crab combo – holy crap!
Elizabeth broke it up with hairspray to everyone’s eyes, before bringing a chair into the ring, and then attacking Pollyanna for herself as Jinny took a breather. They then went for a storyline bit where Jinny ordered Elizabeth to cut Pollyanna’s hair, but Elizabeth refused and was thrown into the chair, as Pollyanna took the Botox Injection (leg sweep into a knee to the face).
Toni Storm came in to stop Jinny as she cut Pollyanna’s hair, with Storm delivering a roundhouse kick to Jinny. Dahlia followed up with a kick to Storm, but got shoved off the top rope into TK Cooper by Pollyanna, as Storm dropped the pair of them with a tope. Back in the ring, we got a Tower of Doom that almost went awry with Dahlia landing funny. It got a little spotty at the end with Dahlia hitting Jinny and Storm with a cannonball in the corner, before she walked into a Pollinator (Angels Wings) by Pollyanna.
However, TK Cooper came in and punched her in the face before Pollyanna could make the cover. Jinny punched Cooper low, and then threw Dahlia into a backstabber by Elizabeth before scoring the win over Toni Storm. A good fun match, with plenty of fun spots… I could have done without the intergender stuff at the end though. ***½
They play a video hyping up the main event (and kudos to the fans in the front row by the screen for moving so everyone could see it!), chronicling the developments of the two combatants throughout PROGRESS history.
PROGRESS Championship: Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay (c)
And so, “Chat Shit Get Banged” ends with a no-disqualification match for the PROGRESS title – with Will Ospreay’s latest challenger being Marty Scurll – and Ospreay gets his head out in front by downing Scurll with kicks and following up with a dive to the outside, as the pair explode out of the blocks.
Scurll was the first one to use a weapon, using his umbrella to swat down a springboard move off the second road from Ospreay for a near-fall, before capturing a kip-up headscissors attempt and turning it into a chicken wing, only for Ospreay to escape. Ospreay went outside to recover, and grabbed a chair in time to throw it in Scurll’s head as he went for a dive, before Scurll blocked a shooting star press off the apron by getting his feet up.
The pair fought in the crowd, with Ospreay using a stairway railing to moonsault off of onto Scurll – but with this being only no-disqualification, they needed to get back to the ring for a pin. Ospreay’s effort at a Sami Zayn-like cross-corner dive DDT was caught and met with a finger snap and an umbrella strike by the challenger, before hurling another chair at Ospreay’s head. Scurll continued to target Ospreay’s neck and left arm, with an arm-whip into a folded chair, but Ospreay fired back with a handspring spinning kick off the ropes to take the challenger down. A one-man Spanish Fly scored Ospreay a near-fall, but he ate nothing but knees from a shooting star press, and fell into a chicken wing, only for Ospreay to force the rope break.
Scurll just about edges a chop battle, but gets staggered by a headbutt from Ospreay, and eventually gets fooled by his own “just kidding” superkick, before an attempt at the springboard cutter sees Ospreay land into another chicken wing. The pace increased for a spell as they took high-impact moves and popped up for more, before dropping to the mat. Scurll rolled outside to grab some more umbrellas, creating a pile as if they were steel chairs in the old ECW arena, whilst Ospreay pulled a table from under the ring.
The table gets set up by Scurll, but he ends up going through it, as Ospreay delivers a powerbomb as Scurll was caught on the middle turnbuckle, scoring the champion a near-fall. After that, the pair start fighting up on the stage by the commentary position, before Ospreay teased suplexing Scurll down the stairs. A finger snap put paid to that, as Ospreay got thrown through the curtain and “to the back!”… well, briefly, as Ospreay came out, only to be powerbombed through the commentary table.
Scurll picked up Ospreay in a Fireman’s carry and took him back to the ring, but opted against a cover, instead going for a tombstone piledriver for a near-fall. That was followed up, bizarrely, by an umbrella shot to the back of the referee, but Scurll turned around into an umbrella-assisted crossface, only for Scurll’s tapping to go unnoticed.
After tending to the referee, Scurll kicked Ospreay low and connected with an Essex Destroyer, just in time for a second referee to appear… and make a two-count. Scurll stayed on top with a tornado DDT, only for Ospreay to land on his feet, but then fall into a release suplex and yet another chicken wing. Scurll locks the leg-scissors on Ospreay as he’s caught in the middle of the ring, but can only fight free to the point where he takes repeated elbows to the head (a la Bryan Danielson). Another Ospreay fightback ensues, landing a springboard Ace Crusher, and a shooting star press to Scurll’s back, then a twisting shooting star press for the nearest of near-falls.
Ospreay goes outside and nails the through-the-corner DDT at the second attempt, but Scurll ends up grabbing some handcuffs and ties Ospreay’s hands behind his back. From there, it was only a matter of time as Scurll peppered Ospreay with kicks to the head, then shots with the umbrella as if they were Singapore canes. Scurll then locked in the chicken wing for the final time, and the match got thrown off as Ospreay passed out – making your winner, “the Villain” Marty Scurll.
This was an all-out war – and whilst going into it, I wasn’t sold on Scurll, given that his wins going in were less than convincing and fell into the bucket of “character development”. That being said, Scurll grew into the role in this match, outlining his character as a villain, albeit nowhere near the same scale as we saw in prior heel champ, Jimmy Havoc. ****¼
PROGRESS started the year where they left off here – with a solid show, capped by a memorable war and a new champion. With Ospreay heading to TNA (briefly!) and Japan after this, it was a title change forced by necessity – it’s better to have your champion on every show, than every other show.