We’re going deeper into the PROGRESS back catalogues for our latest #BACKFILL, and looking at their last ENDVR show (ENDVR 15) from March 2016. Yep, these shows aren’t given a snappy title, but we’ll endeavour to cover these… (groan)

From our reviews of older shows,  you may have noticed a few names that don’t appear on every show. These are mainly guys from PROGRESS’ training school, the ProJo, and rather than have them appear as cannon fodder on the big shows, PROGRESS has been holding quarterly “B-shows” (for want of a better term).

We’ll not be going into too much detail, since we already sort-of covered this show back in March (as it was my first live exposure to PROGRESS), but since we’ll be at this Sunday’s ENDVR 16 show, now’s as good a time as any to go back and watch it on tape… and see if those bumps by Leva Bates were as bad as I remember.

Glen Joseph is the MC for this show, and already I can spot myself from the All Japan-esque isometric hard camera. Joseph is also doing live commentary in addition to ring announcing, so he’ll be knackered by the end of this.

Paul Robinson vs. Mike Bird
One of the problems of having these shows is that if a, say, a guy has gone from getting a title shot in the main event of a main show, to opening one of these, it’s hard not to look on it as a fall from grace. Still, I’m not about to say that to Paul Robinson’s face here, especially as he has a chain in his hand… Robinson’s opponent is Mike Bird, “the Ginger Jesus”, who is somewhat of a journeyman on the British scene. His entrance is at least memorable, if only because his music cut out on his way to the ring.

Robinson attacks Bird at the bell and tries to lock on a sleeperhold, but Bird takes the fight to him with chops in the corner, only for a low blow from Robinson to give him a way back into the match. The ropes get utilised as Robinson chokes away at the Welshman, prompting one fan to shout out “he’s like a vicious chihuahua”… ah, that’s the beauty of a packed intimate environment such as the Garage – you don’t need to shout so loud to get picked up on camera.

Robinson takes down Bird with a triangle choke, but the Welshman powers up and is able to powerbomb his way out of the hold, but Robinson fires back in and bites on the ears of Bird, which isn’t a disqualification for some reason. Bird gets free and collides into Robinson with a long run-up en route to a back elbow in the corner, before dropping him with a back suplex/side slam combo for a near-fall. Bird catches Robinson in a fireman’s carry attempt and drills him with a reverse lungblower, before hitting a bridging German suplex for another two-count.

Robinson staggers up, but manages to force his way out of a powerbomb and comes off the top rope with a cross body block, grabbing him a two-count of his own. Robinson misses a curb stomp attempt, and ends up taking a crucifix powerbomb for another near-fall. I think William Eaver may not be so happy with that spot being used…

Robinson gets out of the way of a shoulder charge in the corner, and is able to come off the top rope with a knee to the back of the head, before finishing him off with a pair of curb stomps to score the win. Good opener, especially against a relative unknown to the PROGRESS crowd. ***

Post-match, Robinson gets his chain and delivers an uppercut to the cut with the chain, before unloading on Bird as “Wild Boar” Mike Hitchman makes the save.

DND (Cieran Donnelly & Danny Duggan) vs. Jack Sexsmith & Gimp
There’s a tag team I didn’t think I’d be typing out – featuring three debutants, as DND – who are regulars in the IPW:UK promotion – took on Jack Sexsmith and his wrestling gimp. Perhaps they’d seem more threatening if their music didn’t seem like a club remix of the theme to the British TV show “Casualty”.

DND, who were getting a mixture of “who are ya?” and cheers on the way in, established themselves as heels with a pre-match promo, ripping on the crowd for not asking for them to come to PROGRESS earlier. Jack Sexsmith ride on the back of his partner, and does the whipped cream routine on his way around ringside as the crowd sings along to his theme. It’d bloody catchy… by the way, Sexsmith’s timely reference involved his gimp pulling out a dildo, before being asked “are you Hulk Hogan or Terry Bollea?” HI-YO!

We finally get underway, with Sexsmith schooling Donnelly with some ground-based wrestling, with shenanigans forcing him to tag in Danny Duggan. Sexsmith turns a knuckle-lock into a Japanese stranglehold on Duggan, but that gets reversed, before Sexsmith rolls through into a two-count.

Duggan takes an inverted atomic drop, then the more conventional variety, before Sexsmith finally tags in the Gimp. Sexsmith literally walks his Gimp through some holds – like a wristlock, a hammerlock, and finally a headlock. Duggan forces free, and ends up hiptossing the Gimp to the mat, before DND start double-teaming the Gimp in the corner. Wonder if he likes it?

More shenangians follow with the referee and Ciaran Donnelly suggestively fighting over the dildo, as a second Gimp swaps places with the first one. This Gimp is noticeably bigger, and more adept, taking down DND with an enziguiri/DDT combination, before following up with Bronco Busters to both of DND. Sexsmith tags back in and connects on DND with a bunch of hip attacks, and just about connects with a full nelson bomb for a two-count.

Sexsmith then tags the Gimp back in as the pair prepare for a double Mr Cocko onto DND, who respond with low kicks. The first Gimp returns, only to be kicked low and rolled up for the win, as DND make their escape. That finish was a little weird, but let’s go with it, eh? Shenanigans aside, it was a pretty good comedy match, and the Sexsmith act is extremely over with the PROGRESS crowd here. **¾

Elizabeth vs. Bea Priestley
The Elizabeth here being Jinny’s “personal assistant”, whose entrance is restricted to her applauding Jinny and remaining in her shadow. Her opponent here is the debuting Bea Priestley, with the New Zealander looking a little like Paige, and she gets met with a dropkick almost immediately.

Priestley fires back with an elbow in the corner, a snapmare and a knee to the face that gets her the match’s first near-fall, but Elizabeth responds with a jawbreaker, before grounding Priestley with a surfboard stretch. Elizabeth quickly gets the win with a seated Octopus hold on Priestley in what would be the PROGRESS equivalent of a glorified squash match. Good for what it was, but I would have liked this to have gone a little longer ***

TK Cooper & The Dazzler Team (Darrell Allen & Earl Black Jr) vs. Damon Moser & Sweet Jesus (Chuck Mambo & “Pastor” William Eaver)
Staying with New Zealanders here, as TK Cooper is in six-man tag team action, but first he makes out with girlfriend Dahlia Black for so long the referee and ring announcer exit the ring. There’s a few interesting threads here, as this prolongs the Dazzler/Sweet Jesus storyline, and also featured who would turn out to be Natural Progression Series finalists on the same team.

Black and Eaver start off, and Eaver gets the upper hand with a pair of Pope-ish Hammers and a dropkick into the corner, before bringing in Chuck Mambo to do “the move they do” – but Earl Black Jr gets out of the ring to avoid it. Moser throws Black back in, and they get in a triple-team spot, slapping Black’s chest as Mambo held him in a surfboard in the corner.

Damon Moser comes in and finds himself triple-teamed by Cooper and the Dazzler Team, but he managed to escape the Dazzler Death Drop, and tagged in Mambo to clear house with a dropkick to the Dazzler Team. Black gets taken down with a superkick, but Mambo takes too much time on the top rope and gets knocked down by Darrell Allen.

Dahlia Black gets herself involved, choking Mambo on the bottom rope while the referee was distracted, as Mambo finds himself on the wrong side of the ring. Mambo managed to score a jumping double knee onto Cooper, but a distraction from Dahlia saw a tag out ruled out by the referee. Cooper floors Mambo with a leg lariat as he’d knocked off the Dazzler team, but TK missed with a senton bomb and that allows him to make the tag out to Eaver.

Eaver flattens TK with a uranage backbreaker, before Mambo jumps up top for a crossbody suplex, before Mambo and Eaver connect with a pair of topes to the floor. Back in the ring, Moser and Allen reverse tombstone piledrivers, before Earl Black comes in to finish off an assisted suplex on Moser. Cooper accidentally clotheslines Allen out of the ring, which sets up Mambo for a springboard front flip to the floor.

Back inside, Eaver tags in Moser who finishes off Earl Black Jr with the knee trembler to secure the pin. That was a fun tag match, even if that last dive from Mambo seemed superfluous… ***½

David Francisco vs. “Wild Boar” Mike Hitchman
The second half kicks off with the Portuguese David Francisco, who is back after a handful of appearances on PROGRESS’ previous ENDVR events. He’s taking on Mike Hitchman, fresh from making a save in the opening match – and this is the guy I’d earlier labelled the Welsh Sami Callihan. Hitchman (I’ll just call him “Boar” from here on) has a chain with him. Foreshadowing!

Francisco starts by taking Boar into the corner and breaking cleanly – something that Boar returns the favour with moments later. Francisco tears a page out of the Larry Zbyszko book by stalling, but he returns to take more punishment from the Boar, before rolling out to the floor once more.

Boar misses a shoulder charge into the corner and ends up on the floor, where Francisco follows, sending him into the ringpost, shoulder-first twice. Francisco follows up with some arm breakers, as Paul Robinson appears on commentary alongside Glen Joseph. The focus remains on the Boar’s left shoulder, but he’s able to hold on to block an Irish whip, and drill Francisco with a German suplex.

Francisco keeps up the pressure on the body part though, connecting with a Codebreaker to the left arm of the Boar, and all of a sudden Paul Robinson leaves commentary and heads to the ringside area. He doesn’t get involved straightaway though, watching on as Boar tries to go for the Trapper Keeper (package piledriver), but is unsuccessful, as Francisco keeps working on the left arm, before wandering into the crowd to go face-to-face with a fan.

Francisco returns to the ring to beat the count-out, but turns into a chop from the Boar, then a clothesline as Boar makes a comeback, dropping him with a Fireman’s carry drop and a back senton. Boar misses a second back senton, but falls into an armbar, which he gets out of by stacking up Francisco and kicking his head. That’s at least different from the one-arm powerbomb escape, I guess.

Boar fires back by sending Francisco into the corner and landing a cannonball, but Paul Robinson slides into the ring with a chair as Boar goes for the Trapper Keeper again, before opting to strike Francisco with it. Instant DQ, and “Fantastic” David Francisco wins… not a great finish, and the match was average at best in my eyes **½

As Francisco exits, Boar and Robinson have a pull-apart in the ring, with Robinson running when Boar grabs his chain – and this leads to the main event being booked for the next ENDVR show (Sunday May 15): a chain match between Robinson and Boar… and that was me sold immediately.

Up next was another Roy Johnson “Wasteman” Challenge. In the coming weeks my thoughts on his match with Dave Mastiff will appear in another #BACKFILL article, but to put it mildly, I’m not a fan of the character at all. And it seems a lot of the fans in the Garage are in the same boat as me too… This turns out to become a match between the Bodyguy and Kyle Ashmore.

Roy Johnson vs. Kyle Ashmore
This was Ashmore’s first match in PROGRESS since losing to Ashton Smith at the company’s debut in Manchester (Hit The North!), and with any luck he’ll not be trying to do moves beyond his ability… At the start he bounces off the ropes and takes down Johnson with a hurricanrana, then a dropkick, but Johnson takes control by clotheslining him in the corner, then a backbreaker for a two-count.

Johnson repeatedly chops Ashmore in the corner, before catching the bearded one in a Samoan drop for a near-fall. Another clothesline in the corner follows from Johnson, as does another one, and I’m wondering if he’s forgotten how to do anything else? Ashmore follows up with a couple of clotheslines, then drops him with a bridging German suplex for a two-count.

Ashmore ducks out of the ring as Johnson went for another bloody clothesline, responding with an enziguiri off the apron, before getting a two-count with a roll-up. Some kicks to the midsection stuns Johnson, but he meets Ashmore coming off the ropes with (yes) a clothesline that turns Ashmore inside out.

Johnson picks up Ashmore for a Snake Eyes, but the bearded one fights free, but quickly falls to the Last Set (think Big E’s Big Ending with an F5-style landing) for the win.  Perhaps if the Bodyguy didn’t spam those corner clotheslines so much, I’d have cared more, but this didn’t seem to connect well with the crowd. **

After the match, Ashmore grabs the microphone and offers to shake Johnson’s hand, but then turns around and delivers a high knee to the Bodyguy. This was Ashmore’s heel turn, as he turned on the fans after realising that trying to please them led to him losing to the likes of “this Flava Flav wannabe”. Well, I guess Ashmore’s look lends itself to a heel character, rather than a happy-go-lucky hipster with a beard.

Jinny vs. Leva Bates
Jinny’s out with her long-suffering PA, after she picked up a win in short-order earlier in the show, and by lord, Jinny’s gotten the loudest heel reaction of the night. Leva, on the other hand, gets one of the louder pops of the evening, but for those hoping she’d be out as Blue Pants, you’d be disappointed as she was back to cosplaying with a remix of the Star Wars theme. If only she put as much effort into her wrestling as the cosplay side of things…

They lock up and go to the corner where Jinny doesn’t break cleanly, before whipping Leva to the mat by her hair. Leva chops Jinny in the corner, then follows up with a snapmare and some kicks to the back, ending with a dropkick to the seated Jinny. Bates slingshots herself into the ring and rolls through into a spear for a two-count on Jinny, who them fires back with a slap, before missing another stomp and getting speared again.

Jinny replies by hitting a Japanese armdrag on Leva into the turnbuckles, getting a two-count, but Leva tries to fire back with shots to the midsection. More kicks from Jinny wear down Leva, and walks over a seated Leva folding her forward, before throwing Leva to the outside where Elizabeth… just throws her back in.

Out of nowhere, Leva hits a codebreaker on Jinny, who rolls outside herself, only to be kicked in the head off the apron, but Jinny catches a second kick attempt, and sweeps the leg to send Leva crashing onto the apron. Back inside, Jinny keeps up the offence on Leva, but nearly gets shocked with a small package and a Northern Lights suplex for near falls.

Leva tries for a Pedigree, but Jinny blocks it and sends her into the turnbuckles in a Tree of Woe position, where Jinny connects with kicks to the back. Jinny goes up top and misses with a double stop, before taking a superkick. Leva knocks Jinny down with some chops and kicks, before sending Jinny into the corner with a dropkick. Leva goes up top and lands a double-stomp to the back of a bent over Jinny, scoring a two-count, but Jinny catches a superkick and turns Leva around into a reverse X-Factor that saw Leva land badly on. Bates ducks the Rainmaker clothesline, and delivers a back suplex for a near-fall.

Second time was the charm as Leva hit a Randy Orton-style punt on Jinny after she took a drop toe hold into the bottom rope, before taking Jinny up top for a Pepsi Plunge (top rope Pedigree); but Jinny fought out, knocking the referee down in the process. That was the cue for Elizabeth to interfere, but she refused…  a distracted Jinny nearly got caught in the Pepsi Plunge, but she fought free again and drilled Leva head-first into the mat with an X-Factor off the middle rope for the win. Yep, that bump was just as bad as I remembered…  All-in, this wasn’t that bad a match in spite of Leva. ***

The post-match saw Jinny hold Leva in a chinlock, ordering Elizabeth to cut off some of her hair. Elizabeth refused, and caught an attempted slap from Jinny, before exiting the ring. By this point, Leva had gotten up, and this time connected with the Pepsi Plunge to send the crowd home happy/happier.

After watching this back on tape, this show was definitely much better in the flesh – as is the norm for PROGRESS, there were no out-and-out stinkers, but the matches in the second half were very underwhelming in hindsight. Watch this one for the six-man tag and your dose of Sexsmith… and if you’re a fan of ol’ Blue Pants.