The year 2013 started with PROGRESS taking a page out of AC/DC’s songbook, with their fifth show – For Those About To Fight, We Salute You – headlined with a tag match between the London Riots, and the Leaders of the New School, Zack Sabre Jr. and Marty Scurll.
The show opens with the usual video packages, with promos from the Riots, RJ Singh, and footage of El Ligero winning the PROGRESS title last time out. Nathan Cruz’s promo has him upset at not getting an immediate rematch, so he nominates Dave Mastiff as the number one contender, whilst Cruz himself will take on the debuting Rampage Brown.
We’re back in the Garage in Islington here, and there’s a different hard camera angle as this time we’re looking at the sound booth rather than over it (something which drew an acknowledgment of Fighting Spirit Magazine’s reviews!). We’re still using the collection of matches as clips format, rather than the “release the whole show” that PROGRESS would later move onto.
Danny Garnell vs. Stixx
Pre-match, Stixx demands to let the crowd know that he’s originally from London, but left “because the city is full of pillocks”. Simple stuff to start with from Stixx, as he shows off with clapping push-ups, before he’s rolls out of the ring after a shoulder block from Garnell.
Garnell switches a headlock into some headscissors, with Stixx doing a handstand to escape a la Austin Aries. Bizarrely, Stixx calls out to a fan to ask who he wants to win, and the camera gets a good look at him: Dean Ayass? A guy more used to being on the other side of the fan/performer divide there…
Garnell takes Stixx down with a headlock takeover, before Stixx drops Garnell with a test of strength, as the fans start to pipe up with the “Zangief” chants towards the Nottingham-based Stixx. After being sent into the turnbuckles, Garnell fired back with a clothesline, before dumping Stixx to the outside once his Exploder attempt had been neutralised.
Once they returned to the ring, Stixx dropped Garnell with a neckbreaker, but took too long to make a cover, getting a two-count for his troubles. A snapmare was followed up with a knee to the spine as Stixx kept on top of things with a chinlock. He lost his grip, and took a dropkick from Garnell that just about connected, but Stixx regained the advantage with rapid-fire slaps in the corner, then a STO to counter a DDT attempt.
Garnell almost stole it with a roll-up after slipping out of a full nelson, then again with another two count from a Northern Lights suplex. Stixx though hung Garnell over the top rope, and slingshotted himself back into the ring with a Blockbuster-style flipping neckbreaker, before going for a grounded cobra clutch. A legdrop from the second rope got Stixx another two-count, but Garnell fired back again, attempting an Exploder suplex himself.
Garnell was able to land a bridging suplex for a two-count though, but found himself down for a two-count after Stixx turned a German suplex attempt into a Bossman slam. A piledriver attempt came next, aping the Zangief chants, but Garnell backdropped out of it, then pulled off a German suplex for another near-fall. Stixx ended up blocking a tornado DDT out of the corner, but that was only a stay of execution as Garnell ended up hitting it at the second attempt for the win. A so-so opener, nothing great, nothing awful. **¾
Natural PROGRESSion Series – First Round – Lord Jonathan Windsor vs. “Wild Boar” Mike Hitchman
Go on, guess what Windsor’s gimmick is? Yep, he’s apparently related to royalty, and this time around, Hitchman’s hometown is correctly listed as being in Wales. Progress!
Hitchman takes down Windsor to start with, before working a standing armbar on Windsor, before trying very early on for his Trapper Keeper package piledriver, with Windsor bailing to the outside. PROGRESS debuted a new referee here in Mark Parry (aka “Paz”), and it was in this match where he first caught out by the fan’s “count one ahead” gimmick.
Back inside, Hitchman took down Windsor and locked in some headscissors, with the Lord using the ropes for a break before ramming a shoulder into Hitchman in the corner. The Wild Boar came back with a clothesline and some chops, with a clothesline to the back of the head sending Windsor to the outside once more.
Hitchman decided to join Windsor as he was trying to come back in, and that resulted in a wicked DDT onto the apron for the debuting Lord, who headed to the back as he tried to put some distance between himself and Hitchman. The Boar went for the package piledriver on the stage, only for Windsor to fight free and make his way back towards the ring, where Windsor rammed Boar into the ringpost.
Finally back inside, Windsor used the ropes to choke Hitchman, who was then kicked out of the ring as Windsor looked to take a countout win. Hitchman returned, and took a rolling snapmare then a shoulder tackle from Windsor, who got a two-count from a knee-drop. Out of nowhere, Hitchman suplexed Windsor into the turnbuckles, then went for the package piledriver, before switching to a snap suplex for a near-fall.
Windsor landed a backdrop driver to knock down Hitchman, who replied by dropkicking him in the corner, then again going for the package piledriver, but this time Windsor blocked it and landed a Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall of his own. Hitchman tried to fight out of a superplex attempt, and succeeded, knocking Windsor to the mat, before being crotched as Windsor shoved the referee into the ropes.
Stuck on the top rope, Windsor slapped Hitchman with his elbow pad, before blocking another package piledriver attempt, and sitting on a sunset flip attempt for the win – as Hitchman had looked to have kicked out just in time. That was a clunky and unpopular finish to a match that barely got going. **¼
Nathan Cruz vs. Rampage Brown
Cruz has apparently hired a bodyguard, Fug (not “Thug”, as I had it originally!), to keep Marty Scurll away from him… instead, we get a debut in the form of Rampage Brown. Rampage works a long headlock sequence before going for a Boston crab as Cruz made the ropes.
Rampage slapped Cruz into the corner, before going back to a headlock, knocking down Cruz with a shoulderblock, and then catching a leapfrog effort from the former champion. Cruz’s sunset flip takedown gets reversed into a crossface, with a quick rope break, and we go back to a chop battle.
Staying on top of Cruz, Rampage sent him into the turnbuckles head-first, before dumping Cruz out of the ring with a back suplex over the top rope. Getting back inside first, Cruz used a jumping knee to send Rampage back to the outside, before utilising a knee-drop for a near-fall against his much larger foe.
A rear-chin lock kept Rampage briefly grounded, as did a leaping knee strike, before a dropkick to the head got Cruz a couple of near-falls. Rampage started a comeback by initiating a chop battle, which quickly included forearm strikes and headbutts, before a series of clotheslines decked the former champion.
Cruz took a back body drop out of the corner for a two-count, as Rampage then set up for the piledriver, and instead went for a powerbomb. Cruz wriggled out of that at the first attempt, then landed a Codebreaker for a two-count, before blocking another crossface attempt by Rampage. That turned into a backslide for a near-fall, but Rampage replied by hitting a pair of powerbombs that almost won the match for the debutant.
Another crossface attempt put Cruz on the verge of defeat, but he fought out and popped up to hit the Show Stolen for a near-fall. Rampage connected with a Falcon Arrow for a two-count, as he picked up Cruz to break the count himself. Instead, Rampage set up Cruz on the top rope for a Razor Ramon-esque back superplex, but he was knocked off… only to catch a flying Cruz in another crossface, but he escaped the hold before rolling up Rampage – using the ropes for leverage – to steal the win. A decent match, but it never got close to what I thought these two were capable of delivering. ***¼
Post-match we see Cruz and his new bodyguard Fug (who doesn’t look anywhere close to 7ft, and instead seems to be a really bad impersonator of Agent 47 from the Hitman games).
PROGRESS Championship: Dave Mastiff vs. El Ligero (c)
Ah, the “Nazi Staff” chants are back, and you can tell these are irritating those in power. We have a jump start as Ligero immediately dropkicks Mastiff to the outside, then connects with a tope con hilo to the outside.
Mastiff charged into Ligero on his way back in, then grabbed him in a bear-hug that turned into a guillotine, before shoving the champion to the mat. Some headbutts staggered Ligero, whose attempt at a hurricanrana were blocked, only for him to turn it into another guillotine attempt.
Mastiff dropped a fist on Ligero for just a one-count, but Ligero flipped out of a back suplex before handspringing into the clutches of Mastiff… and yet again going for a guillotine choke. Ligero sent Mastiff flying to the outside and went airborne himself with a baseball slide dropkick into the front row, before dumping some chairs onto Mastiff to try and ease a count-out win. “The Bastard” recovered though, and was met with another baseball slide… only this time he caught Ligero and swung him into the ringpost.
Ligero finally returned to the ring, but was caught in a stalling suplex for a whole minute, eventually dropping the champion down before getting a near-fall. Mastiff went for another one, but Ligero knee’d his way free, before rolling into a small package for a two-count. Mastiff dropped Ligero with a Polish Hammer-like strike for a near-fall, then tied him up with a seated cobra clutch. Ligero fought free, but was dropped once more with a back body drop that sent the champion to the outside.
Back inside, Mastiff landed a monstrous knee drop for a near-fall, before grabbing Ligero’s exposed boxer shots for a wedgie-assisted powerbomb, but again Ligero went for the guillotine. Mastiff dumped the champion on the top rope, but was unable to get anything going with a superplex, as Ligero also failed with a sunset flip powerbomb. Instead, Ligero dropkicked Mastiff and followed up with a double-stomp out of the corner to get another near-fall.
An enziguiri from Ligero staggers Mastiff, who falls to a roll-up for a near-fall, before the pair exchange dropkicks into the corner. Mastiff deadlifts Ligero up into a German suplex, sending Ligero outside where he ends up leaping out of a powerbomb effort, and leaps into a guillotine on the outside. Mastiff actually gets down to a knee from the choke, but manages to beat the count back into the ring.
Mastiff blocks an attempt at the C4 tornado DDT and catches Ligero with a running Ligerbomb for another two-count. Ligero rolls out of the way of a cannonball in the corner from the monstrous Mastiff, then connects with another leap into a guillotine (the sixth time in this match), only for Mastiff to break the hold by turning it into a suplex.
Ligero then goes for the guillotine again, turning a powerbomb into the hold (to some boos, it has to be said), and finally Mastiff starts to fade. Mastiff works himself up, but again sinks to his knees, and that’s it as the referee stops the match. A decent big man/little match match, but it would have come across so much better had the guillotine choke been sold as “the only way for Ligero to take down the big man”, rather than a move that he just spammed until victory. ***¼
RJ Singh vs. Darrell Allen
Billed as an open challenge as RJ Singh – still with his “Director” and personal assistant Shah Boudica in tow – ended up facing his Bhangra Knights tag team partner Darrell Allen.
Singh was annoyed that Allen had answered his challenge, citing an agreement between the two to not cross paths in PROGRESS. A simple takedown from Allen to start us with, but Singh reversed it beautifully, only to be taken down with a heel hook as the groundwork continued.
The pair spent a while ducking the others’ moves, before Allen turned an Ethnic Submission attempt into a roll-up for a near-fall. After sending Singh outside with some headscissors, Allen tried to go for a dive, but had to brush aside Shah Boudica to get to Singh on the outside with a tope. That attempted interference led to Singh’s entourage being ejected from ringside. Back in the match, Allen missed a springboard moonsault and took an enziguiri off the middle rope from Singh, before he went to work on Allen with a seated cravat. Allen elbowed himself free, only to take a fireman’s carry into a facebuster, for a near-fall.
Singh ran into a series of clotheslines from Allen, who then telegraphed a back body drop attempt and took a knee, then a clothesline from his partner for another two-count. Allen replied by ducking a kick and hitting some clotheslines, before landing a spinning suplex on Singh. Try saying that five times fast!
Singh ran into a rope-assisted kick in the corner, before rolling through a cross-body from Allen, and eventually hitting the Bollywood Backpack (back cracker). To the delight of the crowd, Singh then called back to WrestleMania 24 and went for the “I’m sorry, I love you” superkick spot, but Allen caught it and replied with the Razzle Dazzle kick, then a deadlift German suplex for a near-fall.
Allen looked to follow-up with an aerial attack, but Singh’s entourage returned again to provide a distraction, allowing Singh to land the Gory Buster. That looked to give him a simple route to the Ethnic Submission, but out of nowhere Allen snuck under and rolled him up for the surprise win! A fine, if understated wrestling match if there ever was one. ***½
As Allen celebrated, Singh offered a handshake, but instead got a hug from his tag team partner. Shah Boudica and the Director returned to the ring to beat down on Allen, but were stopped by RJ, who then got pie-faced. That was more than enough for Allen, who superkick’s Shah in the back, before Singh and Allen teamed up to nail Shah with the Bhangra Buster (fireman’s carry and a Blockbuster-style neckbreaker)… and it looks like the Bhangra Knights could be a feature in PROGRESS.
The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) vs. The Leaders of the New School (Marty Scurll & Zack Sabre Jr.)
The Riots bump into the reformed Bhangra Knights on their way out, perhaps sewing some seeds for the future?
Scurll kissed the referee before the bell, and for reference, this match came a day after a TNA taping which saw Scurll overshoot a dive and smash into a crowd barrier at Wembley Arena. He showed little in the way of ill effects here, but it was Zack who started off against James Davis at a frenetic pace.
Lynch and Scurll came in pretty much immediately after the opening fray, and Scurll spitting in the much larger Lynch’s face was perhaps the worst idea he’s had, as that spurred Lynch on… but Scurll weathered the storm and actually got the upper hand for a while.
Scurll connected with the Poetry in Motion leaping hip attack as the Leaders pulled together some good double team spots, including using ZSJ as a human weapon being powerbombed into both of the Riots on separate occasions. James Davis found himself tagged in, before rushing into the Leaders, and finally taking a drop toe hold/knee drop combo. A slap to the face enraged Davis though, and the beatdown started from there, as Scurll got cornered against both Riots, before making a blind tag to ZSJ, who just about connected with a dropkick to Lynch and a tope to Davis in an impressive tag team sequence.
Lynch took down Sabre with a belly to belly suplex before knocking Scurll off the apron, and that pattern continued as Davis then baited Scurll into the ring to give the Riots the double team opportunities. The Riots made use of frequent tags to keep themselves fresh whilst wearing down Sabre, who did get the odd hope shot in, but those were few and far between.
ZSJ escaped a rear chinlock, but found himself unable to tag out again thanks to Rob Lynch’s efforts, before James Davis nailed a snap suplex for a near-fall. Lynch and Zack traded forearms in the corner, with a bodyslam getting the Riots another two-count, but it took Zack to flip out of a German suplex before he delivered a Shining Wizard to Lynch as the comeback threatened to begin… and once the tag was made to Scurll, it was on!
Scurll was like a house on fire against Davis, scoring with a suplex from the ring apron into the ring for a two-count as Lynch broke the cover. A moonsault press almost caught Lynch on the top of the head as all four men ended up in the ring, with the Riots landing a double shoulder block to knock down “Party” Marty.
Scurll dropped Lynch with a death valley driver for a two-count as Davis made the save, before Zack was left one-on-two against the Riots, eventually taking a pop-up spear from Rob Lynch for a near-fall, thanks to a save from Scurll. The Riots set up Zack Sabre Jr for the District Line Powerbomb, but Zack countered it and turned it into an armbar on James Davis, whilst Scurll tried to catch Lynch in a guillotine, to little success, as the armbar got broken up.
Lynch dumped Sabre with a German suplex, before walking into a Scurll missile dropkick, with Scurll himself taking a Yakuza kick as the pace quickened, ending with a PK from Zack on Davis. A running STO scored Davis a near-fall on Zack, thanks again to a save from Scurll, who then levelled Davis with a roaring elbow, before he was accidentally kicked by ZSJ.
That miss opened up the Riots for another comeback, and a Doomsday Device that turned Zack Sabre Jr inside out, but he kicked out at two! Isolating ZSJ, the Riots kept up the pressure, and went for the District Line Powerbomb again, and this time they were successful as they picked up their biggest win in PROGRESS to date. A good main event, but you sensed that the fans weren’t expecting this result; not that they didn’t think the Riots could win, but the stunned silence rather than the expected heel response kinda summed it up. ****
Jim Smallman announced a weapons match for the next show – Hunter Brothers vs. London Riots. With little context, the weapons-based rematch seemed like a flat finish to the event.
I don’t know whether it was because the company’s only title was in the midcard here, but Chapter 5 felt distinctly flat. Save for the Natural PROGRESSion Series match, there were no horrible matches (and even that was because of some referee botches), but nothing broke out of the pack either. The last two matches saved this show, with the tag team main event in particular, but after what was the nearest they’ve had to a throwaway show, a lot will be riding on chapter six to get things back to their best.