#BACKFILL returns for the next instalment from the early days of PROGRESS, headlined by Rampage Brown taking a shot at El Ligero’s title… and the continued slow burn towards the company’s biggest angle.

#TLDR: PROGRESS’ eighth show was capped off with the crowning of a new champion, on a show that’d be stolen by a three-way match involving Doug Williams, but also be remembered most for the most brutal match in company history, as Jimmy Havoc bled all over the Garage in a light-tube infested hardcore match. In 2013.

The Full Review: We start with the usual pre-show video as Stixx’s edited sit-down promo on “Screw Indy Wrestling”. Mark Haskins replies with some comments in a field, as Nathan Cruz sells that he isn’t able to appear because he’s got previous commitments and a modelling contract. And nothing to do with working shows in the Butlins holiday camps instead. Oh no, no, no… Haskins’ video switched from colour to black and white, but it was surprisingly effective.

They replay the unveiling of Rampage Brown as a member of Screw Indy Wrestling from Chapter 7, and build up to Rampage’s title shot (earned through getting the fall in a six-man tag). The only words that Rampage says throughout this video come at the end, as he declares “I’m a pro”. Catchphrases!

Stixx vs. Mark Haskins
The hard camera’s moved for this show, and it’s at a slightly different angle, not quite Fire Pro Wrestling isometric, but a compromise between that and a straight-on shot. Haskins does his own introduction, which includes threatening to screw someone’s mum for calling him a Hobbit.

Haskins ducks away from a tie-up attempt to begin with, and even slaps Stixx before we finally get going. Well, maybe not, as Haskins dives out of the ring after being cornered. Haskins pounds away on Stixx, but gets shoved off with ease, before he spits at Stixx, which earns him a powerslam after Stixx caught a leapfrog attempt.

Stixx follows up with a couple of airplane spins, which tires out both men, but Stixx continued with a couple of chops to the front and back of Haskins, before chopping him off the apron and to the floor. Haskins gets rolled in but misses a knee drop as he tried to attack Stixx on his way back in, but Stixx just sweeps the leg and slingshots in with a hilo.

Haskins grabs hold of the referee and uses him as a shield to prevent an aerial attack from Stixx, before dropkicking him to the floor and meeting him out there with a tope suicida. The mobile camera for some reason doesn’t follow Haskins as he tries to pull Stixx into the ringpost, before we finally move to see Haskins working an armbar on Stixx out in the crowd.

Stixx beat the count-out back into the ring, but came straight into a wristlock from Haskins, then a judo-style throw for a near-fall. Another armbar takedown forced Stixx into a rope break, before he got taken to the ropes where Haskins spat water at him. That angered Stixx, as you’d expect, and sparked a comeback with a flapjack, before Stixx got a receipt for the water spitting.

A running dropkick got Stixx a near-fall, before Haskins countered a suplex into an armbar with some body scissors. Haskins went for a tornado DDT, but was slammed out of it by Stixx, who then drilled Haskins with a spear for a near-fall.

Stixx misses a cross body into the corner, then gets taken down with a stomp to the arm. Haskins sets up for a superkick, which is blocked, before taking him down with a clothesline, and then flipping over into an armbar. Stixx powered out of it though, then dropped Haskins with a Bossman slam for a two count, before locking in the Tequila Sunrise for a submission. That was a surprise result, given that Haskins was being pushed as a heel… and this was somewhat of a flat opener, with fairly little reaction compared to what we normally get for openers. **

Natural PROGRESSion Series – Semi Final: Lord Jonathan Windsor vs. Mark Andrews
Windsor takes down Andrews with a snapmare, before using some headscissors and leans back for an early pinfall attempt. I only just noticed how Windsor looks a lot like a bigger “Flash” Morgan Webster… Windsor breaks out of a waistlock, then grabs a headlock before taking down Andrews and going for a hammerlock, and pulling him further back for a two-count. Windsor goes for a wristlock, which Andrews flips out of and then works around to reverse, but Windsor regains the arm and hits two armbreakers.

Andrews switches out into a La Magistral for a two-count as Windsor tried to block it. A headlock saw Andrews switch into an armbar, before that’s broken up with a forearm smash and an uppercut. Windsor blocks a suplex, as Andrews floats out of one, then gets taken down with a series of armdrags from “White Lightning”.

Andrews scores with a standing moonsault for a two-count, then goes up top, only for Windsor to roll out of the ring to avoid the aerial attack. An attempt to follow him out saw Andrews land on the apron and receive a knee to the face. Windsor quickly brought him back in, then sent Andrews into the ropes for a clothesline that scored him a near-fall, before sweeping Andrews leg, so that he fell face-first onto Windsor’s knee.

Windsor sits on Andrews’ chest for a near-fall, before taking down the Welshman with a rolling snapmare and a diving uppercut for another two-count. Andrew flipped out of a back suplex then dropkicked Windsor to the outside, before immediately connecting with a tope con hilo into the front row.

A diving cross body off the top got Andrews a near-fall, before a floating Northern Lights suplex and an imploding 450 splash got him even closer to a victory. Windsor caught a lungblower and sent Andrews into the corner, but he ultimately countered with an enziguiri before a wheelbarrow facebuster was turned into a backdrop driver from Windsor.

Andrews popped up and chopped Windsor in the corner, then joined up on the top rope, before Windsor slipped out. That acted as a set-up for a back superplex, but Andrews elbowed himself free, before connecting with a shooting star press for the win. Another entertaining match, but again it felt like the crowd were muted for periods of it… was the Garage suffering from an unseasonably hot July day? ***¼

Last Man Standing: Danny Garnell vs. Rob Lynch
So, the London Riots were split up as Jim Smallman’s threat of payback came to pass: the “last match on their contract” ended up being two singles matches: one being this last man standing, no-weapons-allow match, and the other… well, we’ll get to that.

Both of the RIots were out, whilst Jimmy Havoc was also out there, but quickly went to the bar with a chair. This was classed as Lynch’s debut… well, singles debut. Lynch immediately gets floored with a double-leg takedown as Garnell starts with some ground and pound, but Lynch gives as good as he’s got and chops and slaps Garnell in the corner.

Garnell gets dropped with a clothesline, before a second one ends with the two of them colliding, before another clothesline decked Garnell. That kept him down for a seven count, and Lynch was right back on top with forearms, before Garnell just about got him up for a backdrop suplex. Lynch came back with forearms, but was dropped with a German suplex, and Garnell held on to deliver a second… and a third!

Lynch got up at eight, and went straight into another German suplex, before replying with some rolling Germans of his own. Garnell one and dropped Lynch yet again, before whipping Lynch into a corner… where Lynch slipped as he tried a springboard off the bottom rope, and was turned inside out with a release German suplex.

After landing on his head, Lynch took his time getting back up, and was whipped hard into the corner yet again. A big boot cut off Garnell, who was then taken down with a shoulder tackle from the middle rope, and Lynch got up at nine, before kicking Garnell in the chest. Why didn’t he just wait one more second and take the win? Anyway, Lynch kept up the offence by putting Garnell on the top rope, and followed with a superplex.

Both men beat the count up, and Lynch went back to the clubbing forearms, then chopped away in the corner. Garnell shoved down another superplex attempt, but had no way to block a belly to belly superplex that sent both men crashing to the mat. Back on their feet after a voice-breaking four-count from the referee, the two men traded bombs again, before a spear from Lynch sent Garnell down once again… and the crowd mocked every count from there on.

Lynch again went to the forearms and uppercuts after Garnell beat the count, with another clothesline sending Garnell down. Some more ground and pound from Lynch acted as a set-up for him to go aerial… but he missed a corkscrew splash, and quickly got spiked with a DDT for his troubles. Again, both men got to their feet, and they started trading stiff shots, before a Garnell clothesline was countered with a spear.

Once more, they beat the standing ten-count, but Garnell’s German suplex attempt was blocked, so instead he placed Lynch on the top rope. Lynch elbowed Garnell down, but was met with a belly-to-back release superplex that looked to see Lynch land on his head once again. James Davis climbs into the ring to pick up Lynch, so he’s met with a chair thrown at his head by Jimmy Havoc from the bar… and that leaves Garnell in the ring to hit a pair of DDTs on Lynch.

Garnell followed up with a tornado DDT out of the corner, then a draping/spiking DDT off the top rope, and in spite of a late effort, James Lynch couldn’t beat the count, and it’s all over! A fun, brutal affair, with plenty of landing-on-head action. Considering they couldn’t work with weapons, they did really well with the limitations. ***¼

Hardcore Match: James Davis vs. Jimmy Havoc
Yeah, this was the other half of the Riots’ farewell… and since Rob Lynch was incapacitated, this could potentially be a huge handicap match against James Davis.

Havoc takes Davis into the corner and immediately washes his boot on his face, and then lands a diving dropkick to Davis. A chair-assisted dropkick follows, with a headscissor takedown sending Davis into the crowd, and in prime position for a tope.

Havoc immediately goes under the ring for a Singapore cane, which Davis’ head takes, before Davis is shoved into the ringpost. A hiptoss sends Davis awkwardly onto the stage steps, and then go onto the stage as Havoc threatens to suplex Davis into the seats below. They reverse it, but Havoc blocks it, and ends up headbutting the London Rioter for the hell of it.

Havoc leaps off the stage with a double stomp, then then suplexes Davis onto the floor and whacks him with a baking sheet. Another hiptoss sends Davis into the chairs, and Havoc pulls out a table from under the ring, but that gives Davis an opening to make a comeback and pull him towards the bar, but he then drops him in a Snake Eyes across the sound booth. By the bar, Havoc slams Davis onto the floor, before climbing up and landing a hurricanrana off the bar!

They head back into the ring, where Jimmy set up a piece of wood against the bottom rope, and Davies took a death valley driver through it. Thankfully, it broke… and Havoc gets the microphone, and asks the crowd whether he should go for a pin, or to continue beating him up. He goes for the latter and asks for a beer, as he then drops the remnants of that wooden board over Davis’ head.

Havoc goes under the ring and pulls out a pencil case, and inside are several hundred drawing pins (thumbtacks)! Lovely stuff! Davis tries to fight back, and connects with several slaps as they go back and forth, before Havoc kicks out the knee and lands some more kicks to Davis’ chest.

Davis drops Havoc with a snap back suplex, which Havoc replies in kind, and then gets another back. Those drawing pins are still ominously in the ring, and Havoc tries for another German suplex, but Davis elbows out, so Havoc instead dumps Davis with a pumphandle powerbomb into the drawing pins, which Davis barely sells.

Havoc’s back on the mic and he’s asking for his beer, and also to poll the fans on whether he should continue. He goes back under the ring for more goodies, and out come… light tubes?! Oh jesus. Havoc headbutts a light tube into Davis’ head, which I guess was safer for the fans…

Referee Chris Roberts at this point commandeered a baking tray so he could make a count without risking slamming his hand into drawing pins, which was quite the smart move. What wasn’t smart was Havoc – now with a beer – headbutting a second light tube into James Davis’ head, which was now grey with the powder from inside the tubes.

Havoc grabs a pair of light tubes taped together, and went to smash them into Davis, but he was dropped to the mat, before Davis rammed Havoc belly-first into the tubes. One of the shards from the tubes was then used to cut into the face of Havoc, before it was smashed over his head again. A bleeding Havoc was then pinned for a two-count, but Havoc hit back with a leaping knee strike in the corner before taking a back body drop from the ring, and out through the table on the floor.

Davis rolled Havoc back into the ring from there, and nearly took the win, as Davis went underneath the ring for some electrical tape, which he used to tape some light tubes to the outside. Havoc tried to whip Davis into it, but instead it was reversed and Havoc took the light tubes to the back – sending the glass into the crowd. Davis got some more tubes, and smashed his cricket bat through them onto the back of Havoc.

As a bloodied Havoc crawled into the ring, Davis went to the bar and grabbed a lemon. As in the fruit, not one of Adam Rose’s old followers. You can guess what sadistic spot came next… where’s the salt? The fresh lemon juice got Davis a two-count, before Havoc countered a super gutbuster into a tornado DDT onto a steel chair in the ring.

From there, Havoc went under the ring for some more wood and a chair, creating a wood bridge out of it, before asking the crowd if they wanted Davis to take more pain. The audience participation part of the match left Havoc distracted, as he took a Singapore cane shot, then a powerbomb through the wood bridge… before he kicked out of a stiff chairshot to the head.

Three more unprotected chairshots to the head proved to be enough for Jimmy Havoc to get the win, and if Britain ever becomes as litigious as America, also opened up PROGRESS to a hell of a lawsuit down the road. This result continued Havoc’s losing streak, and really played up a sentiment of “Jesus Christ, you had plenty of chances, you should have won that”. As a spectacle, I enjoyed it to a point, but it started to get tough to watch. I refuse to believe that in July 2013, and especially after the involvement of Nigel McGuinness on the last show just two months earlier, nobody involved in this was smart enough to say “no” to the unprotected chairshots. **¼

The post-match saw Glen Joseph dive into the ring to check on Havoc, as everyone inside the Garage stood up and applauded his efforts. Havoc’s not Glen’s.

Darrell Allen vs. Doug Williams vs. Eddie Dennis
Crikey, this is going from one end of the spectrum to the other, isn’t it? They’ve changed the canvas to a whiter one, presumably with the other one ripped to pieces from the light tube glass and suchlike. This was Doug’s first appearance in PROGRESS, having been released from TNA almost two months earlier… and yes, Doug got the deserved reaction that (at this point) a 19-year veteran should have had.

Dennis is replacing the injured Noam Dar, which explains why this looks a little off-kilter (in that the story wasn’t “the veteran and the youngster are looking to overcome someone much bigger than them”).

Williams slaps Allen and Dennis to begin with, and they end up cornering him, but the two youngsters fight to see who should beat him up. They stop bickering and take down Williams with a double hiptoss, before Allen kicks him into an Exploder suplex by Dennis.

Allen switches a pop-up powerbomb into some headscissors, before being backdropped onto the apron, and returning with a roll-up for a near-fall. An Octopus hold briefly traps Dennis, but he just staggers into the corner for a break, before dropping Allen across the back of his neck with a tiltawhirl back/neckbreaker. An axe kick follows to the back of Allen, as does a slam and a knee-drop, getting a two-count.

Allen avoided a charging Dennis, who leapt onto the apron but took a baseball slide to the outside, as Doug Williams tripped Allen as he went for a dive, then chose to make the tope himself to Dennis… then misses one to Allen on the other side of the ring as Allen delivered it instead. Williams rolled through a crossbody, before catching Dennis into a dual DDT and death valley driver for a pair of near-falls.

An armdrag takedown trapped Williams in an armbar for a while, but the veteran reversed it, but that too was reversed back into a wristlock from Allen. Williams freed himself and landed a grounded headlock, but Allen flipped it into some headscissors, and with the greatest of ease, Williams handstands out of it.

Williams keeps hold of the wristlock despite Allen’s attempted monkey flip, and then grabs a double armbar, before dropping a knee into the back of Allen, who finally uses the ropes to flip out of it… only to get caught in a Gory stretch. Allen’s dumped in the turnbuckles after that, but shoves away a superplex attempt before leaping over Williams and re-applying the Octopus hold.

As Eddie Dennis uses the extremely-loose bottom rope to try and drag himself up, Williams made a rope break, before kicking Allen into the path of a crucifix powerbomb from Dennis, who threw the youngster into Williams and a pinning cover that almost won it. Not sure why Dennis didn’t try and break the count there, but there you go. Dennis went for a cover straight away and got a near-fall on Williams, before pulling off a stalling vertical suplex for another near-fall.

Dennis worked a headlock on Williams, who elbowed out, but a back elbow put down Williams for another two-count. Another back elbow in the corner rocked Williams, but he fought back with a leaping knee in the other corner, before Dennis blocked a Chaos Theory suplex. Both men kicked each other at the same time to knock them down the mat, and Darrell Allen popped up with a pair of frog splashes for near-falls.

Williams took Allen into the corner with some uppercuts, before Dennis’ attempt at a crucifix powerbomb was cut-off by Allen. Williams then countered with an Indian deathlock, but was tied up by Allen who caught Williams in an Octopus hold for another impressive 2-way submission. A missile dropkick took down Dennis, and Allen followed with a spinning brainbuster for a near-fall, broken up by Williams and his Chaos Theory for another two-count.

Eddie Dennis scored a near-fall with the Gods Last Gift small package driver, before Allen dropkicked Dennis into the corner to give everyone a breather. The match turns into a three-way forearm exchange, before Eddie Dennis’ Electric Chair on Allen is blocked… as Allen kicks Dennis out of the ring with a roundhouse kick and follows up with a tope.

As Williams was still on the top rope, Allen springboarded up for a ‘rana, but Williams shoved him off, and landed the Bomb Scare kneedrop and that was it. An absolutely fantastic three-way – and an absolute clinic from one of British wrestling’s more underrated guys (at least, on the worldwide scale!) ***¾

The Hunter Brothers (Lee Hunter & Jim Hunter) vs. Project Ego (Martin Kirby & Kris Travis)
Travis took the microphone before the match got going, and cut a promo starting in a mock Cockney accent. The crowd gave the “what?” treatment, and Travis pleaded with the fans to not swear. And to their credit, the fans actually played along! This reminded me a lot of the song “It’s Easy M’kay” from the South Park movie…

Jim Barnett on commentary flat out said “good luck” on telling the Hunters apart. My sentiment exactly… We started with Lee Hunter (I guess), who rubbed Kirby’s shiny bald head, and got kneed in the midsection for his troubles. A snapmare followed, and Kirby kicked Lee away from a backdrop attempt, before doing a soft version of Kenta Kobashi’s rapid-fire chops. One stiff chop from Lee Hunter dropped him…

Jim Hunter gets the tag in and works an arm wringer, as Kris Travis gets tagged in to a drop toe hold. Travis hits an armdrag, then gets backdropped onto the apron, where he follows up with a kick to the head and some headscissors to take down Jim. Lee gets tagged back in, and leaps over Travis a couple of times before taking an uppercut.

They trade corner charges before Lee flapjacks Travis, and in comes Kirby to clear the ring. Jim comes in to cut off Kirby, who finally gets a death valley driver attempt, only for Jim to hit a sunset flip, as Lee connects with a neckbreaker that sent Kirby onto Jim’s knees.

Travis gets caught by Lee in mid air, and the Hunters pull off a Giant Swing/dropkick for a near-fall. Travis gets placed on the top rope, but he counters into a powerbomb, which then gets switched into a sunset flip by Lee, before a tornado DDT attempt sees Travis suplex Lee into the turnbuckles.

Kirby tags in to make a cover, for a count of two, then land a running backbreaker for another near-fall. An armbar gives Kirby a breather, and the chance for Kris Travis to grab something from under the ring… and he hands it to Martin Kirby… it’s a harmonica! Ah, references to Richard O’Brien and the Crystal Maze, one of my favourite TV shows growing up!

Kirby releases the hold and plays a tune on the harmonica, and turns into a slap, and still has the harmonica in his mouth (playing discordantly!) as he’s taken into the corner by Lee Hunter. Travis gets tagged back in and takes down Lee for a near-fall, as Project Ego worked over and build up to “the greatest move ever”… so says Martin Kirby. D’you know what it is? It’s the Zoidberg Elbow! Whoop whoop whoop whoop! I can’t wait for the Good News Every-Cross-Body for Professor Farnsworth…

The elbow misses, and Lee finally gets the tag in to Jim Hunter, who clears house with clotheslines on Travis, then they trade punches back and forth. Jim nails a forearm smash in the corner, but takes a knee, then a spear from Kirby as Lee joins the charge. Kirby drops Lee with a snapmare driver, before a tornado DDT from Travis drops Jim, but an inverted lungblower from Lee dropped Kirby once more.

The Hunters combine for the Tipton Destroyer (superkick into a code red) for a near-fall, leaving Lee alone in the ring to take a sit-out facebuster. The Hunters return to hit a double stomp/neckbreaker on Kirby, but Jim rolls from the stomp into a crucifix powerbomb by Kris Travis, who follows up with a brainbuster on Lee for a near-fall.

Project Ego combine with a tornado DDT/enziguiri, before Lee blocks a double-team powerbomb with a dropkick. Jim gets caught with a double-stomp into a hangman’s DDT for a near-fall, before a double-team Outsider’s Edge was enough to get the win for Project Ego. Another fun match that paced well and didn’t try to cram in too much… I really wish I’d seen more of Kris Travis’ work when he was still with us. ***½

PROGRESS Championship: El Ligero (c) vs. Rampage Brown
I wasn’t a big fan of Rampage getting his title shot through getting the pin in a six-man tag, but hey-ho… Mark Haskins again handles the introductions, whilst the graphic showed Rampage as having a 0-1 record. And he’s getting a title shot? Perhaps they should just have figured all matches, not just singles/tags…

Haskins grabs Ligero’s leg to cause an early distraction, but the masked man comes back instantly with a plancha to the outside… which Rampage catches, before Ligero works free and shoves him into the ringpost. Ligero grabs his cape and wears it, and he goes flying off the top, connecting with a body press that takes down Rampage in among the crowd!

Back inside, Ligero leaps into the ring and takes down Rampage with a headscissors, and Rampage goes to the floor for a breather. Ligero makes the mistake of joining him, and the end up around the bar in the Garage, trading chops nearby the merch tables before Rampage slams him in front of the bar.

Ligero rams Rampage’s head into the sound booth, but Brown responds with a thumb to the eye as the crowd responds to the brawling with a “this sounds awesome” chant. Speaking of, Ligero climbs on top of the sound booth and goes flying with a cross body, and they brawl around another part of the crowd, as Ligero throws some empty plastic beer glasses at Rampage.

The two fight onto the stage now, and for the second time in the show we get a teased a suplex off the stage, before Ligero chops Rampage down to a knee…. But a rana gets blocked by Brown, who instead dumps Ligero with a powerbomb onto some awaiting security below.

There’s a massive roar as the two return to the ring, and Rampage drops a couple of elbows for a near-fall on Ligero. Rampage ties Ligero in the ropes and clubs his chest with some forearms, before a tiltawhirl suplex gets the challenger a near-fall. The pressure continues with a back suplex for a two-count, before Rampage locks in a cobra clutch and swings Ligero around before getting yet-another two-count.

Ligero gets whipped hard into the turnbuckles, and Rampage connects with a shoulder tackle off the top rope for another near-fall. A ‘rana helped Ligero get into it, before a schoolboy got him a count of two, as the pair then looked to trade some punches. Ligero goes to the outside and ducks a clothesline before landing a moonsault body press to Rampage. Out of nowhere, Rampage drilled Ligero with a brainbuster, before countering a hurricanrana with a sit-out powerbomb for a two-count. Ligero came back with some punches, a superkick and the C4L tornado DDT for a near-fall. Another C4L got a similar near-fall, as did an Ace crusher out of a piledriver attempt.

A top rope ‘rana from Ligero should have put Rampage away, except the challenger caught him and turned it into a super sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall. Ligero nearly won it with a superkick, but Mark Haskins pulled the referee out to prevent the count from being made… and that led to Ligero dragging Haskins onto the apron. Rampage accidentally knocked Haskins off the apron, then took a third C4L, but again kicked out…

Ligero missed a charge into the corner, and turned round into a piledriver… and that was out. Out of nowhere, Rampage Brown takes the win and becomes only the third PROGRESS champion! A pretty good main event, with Rampage getting the title in only his second singles match in the company, and that seemed to put a dampener on the actual title build. ***½

From top to bottom, this was a decent show, but parts of it didn’t hold up well at all, particularly the Jimmy Havoc match which would have been tough to watch even back then in 2013.