We continue our #BACKFILL series with a look the seventh installment of PROGRESS, with their card from May 19 in 2013, called, “Every Saint Has A Past, Every Sinner Has A Future.
#TLDR: We started with a blow-away PROGRESS title match between Noam Dar and El Ligero, a match that the rest of the card tried to top, and came really close to doing so in the end. Zack Sabre Jr. and Jimmy Havoc came close to it with a technical masterpiece, as did Mark Andrews and Will Ospreay’s high-flying showcase, before the evening ended on a hell of a flat note with a six-man tag with the stipulation being that the person winning the fall also won a title shot.
The Full Review: We start with the standard pre-show video, showing Mark Andrews beating Will Ospreay – building up to their rematch on this show. Will’s apparently in his bedroom for his challenge, and we switch to footage of Nathan Cruz distracting Dave Mastiff last time out. My biggest criticism of these videos is that while they do a good job of recapping select stuff, unless you’ve followed the storylines closely, they’re awful at building up new matches.
We flash into Noam Dar’s entrance, and he’s apparently interrupted Jim Smallman’s opening bit. Dar’s asking for his title shot to be brought forward into the opening match, and I guess we have it! Unless dropkicking your opponent meant “no”!
PROGRESS Title: Noam Dar vs. El Ligero (c)
Of course, Dar won his title shot by beating Dave Mastiff last time out, and the Scotsman was sent to the outside by a dropkick, and then was met with a tope con hilo as Ligero followed up on the floor.
Dar retaliates with a dropkick in the corner of his own, but Ligero responds with an armdrag takedown off the ropes into a cover for a near-fall, then a standing moonsault for another two-count. Ligero snapmares Dar and hits a diving dropkick for a near-fall, before Dar sent Ligero to the outside… briefly! Ligero rushed back in and rolled up Dar for a two-count, but the Scottish Israeli fought back as they went to the outside again.
Back inside, Dar kept working over Ligero, stretching him back in the ropes, before working over Ligero’s left knee, dropkicking it in the ropes to send the champion to the mat. Ligero blocked a corner charge from Dar, before leaping over him and mounting a comeback with some clotheslines, before springboarding off the ropes into a kick for a two-count on Dar.
Dar kept targeting that left leg, before rolling Ligero up for a two-count – but that was just a set-up for the Champagne Super-Knee-Bar after the kickout, as Ligero reached for the ropes. Ligero went for the springboard tornado DDT, but was cut off with a dropkick and a Fisherman’s brainbuster from Dar for another near-fall.
Ligero avoided another stomp off the top to the leg, before landing a tombstone into a lungblower for a near-fall on Dar. Ligero fought free from a Dar superplex effort, but was dropkicked to the outside, where Dar finally connected with a tope suicida, then had a walk to the bar for the sake of it.
Wandering back to the ring, Dar took Ligero inside, getting a two-count from a lateral press, before drilling the champion with an enziguiri. Dar went for another Fisherman brainbuster, but was rolled up for a near-fall, before Ligero went to the top, only to be crotched up there. A second superplex effort from Dar was successful, but only managed to get a two-count, before going once more for the stomp through Ligero’s leg. Ligero popped up and superplexed Dar in return, before lighting up the Scotsman with headbutts. Dar went for a couple of Yakuza kicks, before sweeping out Ligero’s injured leg.
Ligero fired back with a couple of superkicks, then dropped him with the Air Raid Crash for another near-fall. Dar trapped Ligero in another Champagne Super-Knee-Bar as the champion stalled, with Ligero finally breaking the hold as he rolled out of the ring, taking Dar with him.
The two traded strikes on the apron, with Dar again kicking Ligero’s leg from under him, but Ligero powered up with a death valley driver onto the apron. Dar sold like death on the floor, but popped up and beat the count in at nine… but that wasn’t the smartest idea. In spite of a quick roll-up for a two-count, Dar took a C4L DDT (and kicked out at one), before a second one put away the Scotsman. A fantastic opener… even if Dar’s work over Ligero’s leg didn’t seem to have any pay-off. Heck, Ligero even used a couple of springboards to win the match, so in a way, it diminished Dar’s offence, no? Good luck to the rest of the card in attempting to follow that! ***¾
Natural PROGRESSion Series – First Round – Darrell Allen vs. Eddie Dennis vs. Joey Lakeside vs. Xander Cooper
Curiously, Cooper’s pre-match graphic shows him as still having that BWC Scarlo Scholarship title. You know, the one he lost against Mark Andrews (and failed to win back last time out)? This is an elimination match, and we’ve got two singles debuts here in the form of Eddie Dennis and Joey Lakeside, with Lakeside being heralded as the first product of the PROGRESS wrestling school.
Cooper started off with an wristlock on Lakeside, before working free into the corner. After a handshake, Cooper goes back to the wristlock, but Lakeside kips up and sends Cooper into the corner, before Lakeside leapfrogs over the former BWC champion and lands an enziguiri. Darrell Allen gets tagged in to whip down Cooper, then roll another grounded wristlock forward into a pinning predicament.
Cooper reverses the wristlock, but gets whipped into the ropes and is decked with a fine dropkick from Allen, who yanks Cooper back in the hard way after he’d gone to the apron. Allen got a near-fall with a bridging roll-up, but was forcibly tagged out by Eddie Dennis, who instantly took down Cooper with a swinging side slam… except Cooper got his feet on the ropes and reversed it into an armdrag.
Dennis sent Cooper back into the ropes, but a leapfrog set-up Cooper for a springboard crossbody for a near-fall. Dennis missed a charge into the corner and was sent to the outside, where Darrell Allen met him with a slingshot dropkick through the ropes… before Dennis went for a powerbomb on the floor. Allen blocked it by grabbing the ropes, and eventually hit an armdrag to the outside.
Joey Lakeside thought he’d take the chance to do a dive, but was cut off by Cooper, who in turn saw his dive blocked with a kick to the head by Allen, who then returned with a crossbody into the ring. Cooper and Allen reversed numerous waistlocks, but didn’t see Eddie Dennis come into the ring to give both men a German suplex at the same time, and that allowed Lakeside to come in and put Cooper in an Electric Chair, only for him to reverse it into a Victory roll for a near-fall, before Lakeside upset Xander with a roll-up for the elimination!
Cooper attacked Lakeside from behind after the decision, and drilled him with one of his finishers, a straight-jacket lungblower. Eddie Dennis and Darrell Allen came in to make the save and ensure that Cooper left, with Jimmy Havoc – in Lakeside’s corner – piling in as well. Back in the ring, Dennis and Allen argued over who should pin the still-selling Lakeside. They toss a coin, but by the time they find out who won, Lakeside rolled up Dennis for a near-fall… he took a kick to the head for that, then nailed Lakeside with God’s Last Gift (small package driver) for the second elimination.
Lakeside got an applause on his way out, and back in the ring, Allen ties up Dennis in an Octopus hold in the middle of the ring. Dennis waded his way to the ropes, then fell into them for a rope break. After a few strikes, Allen’s hurricanrana attempt was blocked, but finally turned into a delayed Code Red for a near-fall.
Back on their feet, Allen and Dennis trade punches, but Dennis ducks a kick and goes for a brainbuster, before Allen rolls through into a small package for a near-fall… but Dennis holds on and tries for God’s Last Gift again, instead getting a Fisherman’s suplex for a two-count. Dennis calls for a lariat, but gets a superkick instead, then the Razzle Dazzle roundhouse kick.
Dennis catches an attempted hip attack in the corner, then drops Allen with a German suplex, before landing a buckle bomb and the God’s Last Gift, and that’s it! A pretty good match from all involved, but it did start to feel like a parade of moves rather than anything to make the crowd care about a winner. **½
London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) vs. Project Ego (Martin Kirby & Kris Travis)
The Riots brought a set of tag team titles – from the Kent-based IPW:UK promotion – and declared themselves the PROGRESS tag team champions. Which makes sense, since the company has no tag titles… Rob Lynch mouthed off to the crowd for a while, and out came their opponents. This was the PROGRESS debut for both Martin Kirby and the (now, sadly late) Kris Travis, with Project Ego having been a regular tag team for about six years at this point, originally making a name for themselves in one of the later incarnations of the doomed 1PW promotion out of Doncaster.
Travis and Kirby argued over who should start, with Kirby eventually losing out as he faced James Davis to get us underway. Well, only once Travis gleefully found out that he was allowed to swear on this show!
Kirby ducked a clothesline early on, but took a Mongolian chop that made him cry. Travis comforted him, before encouraging the two of them to hug it out… which didn’t go down well. Kirby kicked Davis in the leg, but struggled to whip him into the corner, but was able to leapfrog over the larger Davis and dropkick him to the mat.
Rob Lynch came in, as did Kris Travis, who did his best to try and calm down an angered Lynch… by grabbing a McDonalds from under the ring for him! Cue “Happy Meal” chants (I’d have thought “supersize…”), before Travis landed a jawbreaker to the distracted Lynch.
An uppercut from Travis dazed Lynch, who then took a hurricanrana into the ropes before the cheeseburgers were thrown at Lynch. Fed-up, Davis gets tagged in, and gets taken down with an armdrag from Travis for a one-count, before Kirby hits a backbreaker for a two-count. Kirby lands a shoulder tackle in the corner before Travis gets tagged in again, with a double-team armdrag and dropkick combo getting Travis another two-count.
Travis unwisely tried for a suplex on Davis, and finally got it for a near-fall after Kirby clubbed away at Davis’ back, and Project Ego continued their rapid tags in and out of the ring. Unfortunately for Kirby, Davis caught him with an Exploder suplex for a near-fall, and the tide quickly turned from there as Lynch came back in to give a beat down in the corner. More double-teaming from the Riots followed, with Lynch getting a near-fall from a shoulder block.
A snap suplex from Davis nearly won it, before Travis broke up the pin. Kirby kept on absorbing the offence from the London Riots, but managed to shove the Riots into each other and make a tag to Travis who cleaned house with dropkicks and clotheslines. A nice bulldog/clothesline combo from Travis decked the Riots again, before Project Ego combined to hit an elevated double stomp on Davis.
After taking a tope to the outside, Rob Lynch came back in with a double clothesline, before laying out Travis with an overhead belly to belly suplex. Lynch wiped out Kirby with a pop-up spear, before Travis ‘rana’d his way out of the District Line Powerbomb. Another brief comeback followed, which saw the Riots taken down with a Kirby superplex, before Kirby landed a Rocker Dropper on Lynch for another nearfall.
However, a running STO from James Davies signalled the end for Kirby, who was left one-on-two against the Riots, taking the District Line Powerbomb en route to a defeat. A fun tag match, as the Riots’ run through PROGRESS shows no sign of slowing down. ***¼
Post-match, the Riots get in Jim Smallman’s face. He responded by giving them their pay and told them to disappear… he promised then “something really good” for their final match (on their kayfabe contract), before telling them in no uncertain terms to “fuck off”.
Jimmy Havoc vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (Special Guest Referee: Nigel McGuinness)
This is an odd pairing, but this should be good given who’s involved. At this point, Sabre was incredibly 0-1 in singles action in PROGRESS, but that was more down to him only having had one prior singles match – a loss to Marty Scurll on the first PROGRESS card in March 2012. Jimmy Havoc’s also looking for his first proper win… but before we get going, Jim Smallman announces a surprise guest referee: Nigel McGuinness!
The Garage erupted at the announcement, and continued to be appreciative as Sabre started working over Havoc with a wristlock, which ended up being reversed back and forth. Sabre steps over Havoc’s attempt to trip him up, and caught him in a hammerlock, which ended up being switched into another wristlock. McGuinness inadvertently helped out Havoc to reverse the hold, but Sabre got back on top again with a grounded wristlock.
Sabre added in some joint manipulation for more good fun (unless you were Jimmy Havoc…), but found himself rolled up for a near-fall after Havoc had escaped the hole. Havoc was quickly trapped in a strait-jacket, but reversed his way out-of and back into it as the appreciative crowd watched in awe. Havoc finally worked his way free with a snapmare, sending Sabre into the corner.
Havoc went for some headscissors, but was blocked and dumped on the mat by Sabre, who went for an armbar, and kept it held in as Havoc tried in vain to escape. Sabre clung onto the armbar, but Havoc again used McGuinness to flip out of the hold, before using a monkey flip to send Sabre flying across the ring.
Sabre went back to the armbar, before Havoc went to the apron, only to find his leg swept… and met with a pair of suicide dives, before Havoc rushed into the ring to block a third dive and score a hurricanrana for a near fall. Havoc then pulled off a dive of his own, leaving Sabre slumped in the front row, where he took a double stomp through a chair.
Havoc tossed Sabre back inside for a two-count, before an attempted leaping knee into the corner was caught by Sabre and turned into a running sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall. Sabre then locked in a double arm-bar, then switched to a cross armbreaker that was too close to the ropes for his own good.
Havoc got out of the way of a diving knee from Sabre and followed up with a death valley driver for a two-count. More kicks from Sabre sent Havoc to the mat, before he slapped Havoc… only to see a kick caught and turned into the Go Home driver (belly-to-back piledriver). Sabre kicked out at two, and did so again after a springboard moonsault from the second rope, before catching Havoc in an armbar.
Havoc quickly switched the armbar into a crossface, with Sabre finally reaching the ropes for a clean break. As Sabre laid prone on the mat, Havoc went to the top, but missed a double stomp, before being planted with a Tiger suplex by Sabre, then a Dragon suplex for barely a two-count. Sabre scored another two with a penalty kick, but switched to a double armbar with some added kicks, and that left Havoc with no choice but to submit. A fun technical outing, but it felt (on tape, at least) that Havoc’s long losing streak had left the fans incapable of believing that he had a chance of winning, thereby taking an edge off of things. ***¾
Post-match, McGuinness announced Sabre as the winner, before putting over Havoc for hanging with one of the world’s best wrestlers. McGuinness admitted that he was extremely hesitant refereeing this match given his public statements against hardcore wrestling, before telling Havoc that he didn’t need to do that hardcore stuff anymore.
Will Ospreay vs. Mark Andrews
This is a rematch of their Natural PROGRESSion Series match from chapter four, but with an added stipulation (played out via Twitter): Will Ospreay’s put his PROGRESS career on the line here, so if he doesn’t beat Andrews (and get his spot in the tournament), he’s done for here. Given that Ospreay had yet to record a win in either singles or tag action at this point, that wouldn’t have seemed too bad (but oh, hindsight is a wonderful thing!)
Ospreay takes Andrews into the corner for an early rope break, before Will gets a one-count with a cheeky roll-up as Andrews was playing to the crowd. Andrews goes for a waistlock, but Ospreay works free, and lands a front facelock which is easily switched into a hammerlock. God, both of these guys look like kids compared to today.
A headlock takedown follows from Ospreay, but Andrews works up to some legscissors, and Ospreay leaps his way free from there (as PROGRESS in the meantime made sure they fell down Austin Aries’ list of future indy promotions to work for!). Andrews takes down Ospreay and works a wristlock, before Will used the ropes to flip out and work himself free. Ospreay flips over a grounded Andrews, then gets taken down with a springboard armdrag before another stand-off.
Ospreay blocked a satellite headscissors before taking a dropkick, as the match segued out of trading holds and into some flashier stuff, including another cartwheel avoidance of a move into some headscissors that sent Andrews out of the ring… and then, our first dive, with a Sasuke Special to Andrews in the front row.
Back inside, Ospreay got a two-count from that, before taking a dropkick as he went for a handspring off the ropes. Andrews followed up with a surfboard stretch, and then pulled Ospreay further back into a Dragon Sleeper. A blocked hurricanrana gave Ospreay an opening, taking down Andrews with some clotheslines before working a rear chinlock for a brief moment, as a spinning elbow again took Andrews to the mat.
A standing moonsault gets Ospreay a two-count, but Andrews landed a nice roll through into the ring, rolling through with Ospreay before the floating Northern Lights suplex and a standing corkscrew moonsault got him a near-fall. Ospreay blocked a headscissors and eventually turned it into a Falcon arrow for a near-fall.
Andrews took a kick as he climbed the ropes, which left him place for a super reverse ‘rana, except he held onto the ropes and then did a reverse leapfrog onto Ospreay for a reverse ‘rana that worked. Okay, that spot ruled! The now-bloodied Ospreay kicked out at two from that once he was covered, and they exchanged a series of forearm strikes from their knees.
Ospreay tried to cling onto the ropes to avoid being sent to the outside – a la Rocky Romero – but was quickly the target of a dropkick and was sent flying anyway. A tope suicida from Andrews follows, knocking Will deep into the crowd, getting the pair a chant of “you’re both mental” from the Garage crowd. A springboard Dragonrana sees Andrews fly back into the ring, but Ospreay switches it into a sunset flip for a near-fall, before the pair swap a series of frantic near-falls, culminating in Andrews taking a kick to the face. He reversed a suplex attempt, before Andrews took a superkick whilst trapped in the corner, then a brainbuster in the middle of the ring!
Andrews got the shoulder up at two after a delayed cover, and Will looked to finish him off, but he took too long climbing to the top rope and got dropkicked onto the top turnbuckle. Andrews raced up to go for a superplex, but was knocked off, before firing back up and connecting with a one-man Spanish fly off the top rope… and that was it! That was amazing! Sure, at times it looked like a parade of moves, but this was spectacular and frantic… not sure what you’d call Andrews’ music though! ***¾
Danny Garnell vs. RJ Singh
If you’re a subscriber to the Demand-Progress.com website (or perhaps even have the DVD of this), there’s a rumour that something special happened during RJ’s entrance here… especially when RJ demands to be called Singhdango. Whatever happened to the Bhangra Knights?!
Singh dances briefly with the referee, and we get going with a wristlock from Garnell, who forces Singh to the mat. The crowd seem more interested in doing the Fandango chant than this match in the early going, as Singh’s reversal out of the wristlock got just a cursory cheer.
Shoulder blocks from Garnell send Singh to the mat repeatedly, as does an uppercut and a dropkick from the deceptively athletic Garnell. A corner charge is missed, and Singh slingshots into a hurricanrana on Garnell, as Singh lands a back elbow to get a near-fall.
Garnell kicks out at one following a low dropkick, before catching a springboard elbow and dumping Singh with a deadlift German suplex for a near-fall. A knee drop gets Garnell a two-count, before an old-school gutbuster and an elbow drop gets another two-count. Singh surprises Garnell with a reverse STO, and then goes for the Ethnic Submission, only for Garnell to stand up out of it, and eventually hit a Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall.
Singh connects with an enziguiri for a near-fall, but sees a kick caught and turned into an Exploder suplex as he’s forced to kick out at two. Garnell’s caught on the top rope, but he blocks a superplex attempt, before he leaps off the top with a flying DDT for the win. Solid match, nothing spectacular, and something much better suited to the opening match slot. **
Garnell helps up Singh after the match, before going to the back… which left Singh alone in the ring. Hey, that rhymed! He took the mic, and ends up dancing with his one-night-only valet to a familiar WWE theme… but that’s just a set-up for the London Riots to hit the ring and lay waste to RJ. The Riots drop Singh with the District Line Powerbomb, before grabbing some chairs from the crowd as they look to Pillman-ize his ankle. Bang goes the chair, snap goes the ankle, and finally the save is made as Darrell Allen and Danny Garnell hit the ring.
Mark Haskins, Nathan Cruz and ? vs. Rampage Brown, Paul Robinson and Marty Scurll
Apparently the man who gets the winning fall in this one gets a title shot, so expect some selfish break-ups during this! During the introductions, Jim Smallman orders Nathan Cruz’s bodyguard to the back, and we’re left to wait and see who’ll join Cruz and Haskins on team “Screw Indy Wrestling”. Cruz takes an age to introduce Haskins, himself… and then his mystery man.
Except it’s not someone new, it’s Rampage Brown! Rampage unzips his jacket to reveal a “Screw Indy Wrestling” shirt, before dropping Robinson and Scurll with a double clothesline as this turns into a three-on-two outing. Robinson slips out of a powerbomb, as Dave Mastiff’s music plays. The big guy comes to the ring, and we have a replacement match!
Nathan Cruz, Mark Haskins & Rampage Brown vs. Marty Scurll, Paul Robinson & Dave Mastiff
After tossing all of Screw Indy Wrestling over the top rope, Mastiff stands in the ring, before tagging in Paul Robinson, whose “wrestling!” chants enrages Haskins.
Robinson cartwheels out of a snapmare, then hits a satellite tiltawhirl to Haskins… before almost tagging in the wrong corner, and bringing in Marty Scurll. Nathan Cruz comes in to a barrage of “shit Zack Ryder” chants, and he immediately gets lit up with chops in the corner from Scurll. Marty plays Ric Flair by strutting on the apron, then springboards in for a sunset flip and a series of roll-ups for near-falls on the former PROGRESS champion.
Scurll flips out of a slingshot back suplex, then lands a chop block before getting the crowd to chant “shit Ric Flair” at Cruz, who takes a couple of European uppercuts. Dave Mastiff then gets the tag in, and that prompts Cruz to hurriedly tag in Rampage, with the two big hosses trying their best (and failing) to take the other off their feet.
A cross body block from Mastiff gets Rampage off his feet, before a clothesline takes him to the outside, where Screw Indy Wrestling is met by a flying Paul Robinson, who was gorilla pressed onto them by Scurll. Needless to say, Mastiff wasn’t going to go the same way as Robinson, but he easily picked up Scurll and dumped him onto the pile.
Rampage ran back in to cut off Mastiff’s attempt at a dive, but quickly got taken down with a clothesline as Robinson was tagged back into the match. Some kicks from Robinson stunned Rampage in the corner, but Rampage managed to distract the referee and set up Nathan Cruz for some double teaming on the outside. Cruz came in legitimately, and got a near-fall with the slingshot back suplex on Robinson, before the heels cycled through some quick tags against the smallest man in the match.
Cruz and Haskins double-teamed Robinson with a wheelbarrow suplex for a near-fall, before Rampage returned to club away at Robinson, who fired back with an enziguiri before tagging in Scurll. Rampage ducked an uppercut, before Scurll rolled out of an attempted backslide, but the heels tried (and failed) another double-team.
An airplane spin from Scurll ended with a Vader bomb-like set-up into a double stomp on Haskins for a two-count, before Haskins replied with a Stun Gun for a near-fall of his own. Scurll found himself trapped in the heel team’s corner, and took some more punishment from all three members of Screw Indy Wrestling, including a triple-team dropkick which saw Nathan Cruz get a two-count.
Scurll tried for a sunset flip on Rampage, but a tag out let Cruz come in to break it up and score a near-fall, before Haskins tagged in and trapped Scurll in a surfboard, but lost the hold before he could really pull back. Instead, Haskins used a cobra clutch and had his team-mates chop at the exposed Scurll, before Cruz dropped a knee for yet another near-fall.
A running knee into Scurll in the corner got Mark Haskins a two-count, as did a running kick from Rampage Brown, but Scurll replied with a back elbow and a big boot before landing a missile dropkick and finally tagging out to David Mastiff. The Mastiff comeback saw him obliterate Haskins with a Finlay roll and a back senton, getting a two-count from all that.
Haskins rolls out of a deadlift German and scores a roll-up for a near-fall before Robinson ran in to kick away at Haskins, only to be met with a stiff knee to the head. Robinson replies with a roundhouse kick, before missing with a huge legdrop off the top… and then falling to a pair of powerbombs for a near-fall.
A lariat takes Robinson out of the ring, and Scurll takes his place, poking Rampage in the eye before hitting a tornado DDT. Nathan Cruz ran in to hit a jumping knee to the face, but Scurll took himself and Cruz out with a clothesline. That left Haskins and Mastiff in the ring, and Mastiff quickly drilled Haskins with a German suplex and a cannonball into the corner for a near-fall… since Marty Scurll broke up the pin?! Scurll wanted the title shot for himself, and after staring down Scurll, Mastiff turned around into a piledriver from Rampage Brown for the win. That was a surprise – and a flat – finish, with Marty Scurll being made to look selfish and stupid to boot. How was he still a babyface after this?! ***
From top to bottom, this was a card full of good matches, and more than lived up to the hype it generated more than three years later. A show that opened with a hot title match and ended with a heat-riddled storyline-driven match to determine a new number one contender? Count me in! And you should be in too…