CCK exploded in the main event of PROGRESS’ latest midweek show, as a no-disqualification match gave us Kid Lykos and Chris Brookes on top.

It’s been a while since I’ve properly taken a look at PROGRESS, having checked out after Super Strong Style 16 weekend… they’ve been plugging along since, with September’s show featuring names from GCW drawing a decent crowd, albeit with a critically divisive show.

There’s been changes to the production of the show, with Hustle Malone’s retirement over the summer leaving a spare seat at the commentary desk. So Cal Val is now in that spot alongside Olie Spring, at least for now, as we jump to the main event from PROGRESS’ latest visit to Tufnell Park’s Dome… and it’s looking a lot fuller than last time out. Especially in that all four sides of the ring had a crowd. This match got rave reviews live, which made me ponder… was it really that good, or is it an “absence made the heart grow fonder” kind of thing? Let’s find out.

No Disqualification: Kid Lykos vs. Chris Brookes
Kid Lykos has a door with “fuck CCK” sprayed on it, which commentary’s dancing around. This match came around as a result of Lykos taking offence to Brookes’ return to the UK and Europe. For the sake of your sanity, you’ll want to ignore the very recent trip to Japan that Lykos had, where he tagged with Chris…

Brookes had his music dubbed over, so I can only assume he came out to his “proper” music, which isn’t a bad thing. PROGRESS have been doing this a few times lately, notably with Eddie Dennis, using “proper” music live and dubbing over it on the VOD, which gives us the old-school wXw thing of losing the crowd reactions, and if my ears are to be believed, the commentary too? Your mileage will vary…

Lykos jumped Brookes during the introductions, taking him outside with a dropkick… then following with a tope. Of course, there’s brawling around ringside, which scared away So Cal Val briefly, as Masahiro Takanashi cleared away parts of the crowd so Brookes could cannonball Lykos into the chairs. It’s been a while since that’s been a thing. Back from the chairs, Lykos rakes Brookes’ eyes, then cleared the crowd for some more bowling, as this time Brookes took the unwanted shortcut to the bar. Those chairs ended up getting used as Brookes hit Lykos… then took things back to the ring as he ripped apart the wolf’s mask. Lykos gets posted, then rolled onto the food, as Brookes takes another chair… and leaps off of it with a stomp to Lykos’ gut.

Chops from Brookes are met with eye rakes as they fight towards the merch stand, which Lykos ran along for an elbow drop to Brookes. We’re back on the apron as the pair trade chops, before a gamengiri from Lykos ended up with him getting thrown into the turnbuckles from an electric chair position.

Lykos has come up bleeding from that… and flips off Brookes back in the ring. I feel commentary could have played up the blood a little more, but what do I know? Slaps from Lykos just earned him a stiff chop, before Brookes chokes him through the turnbuckles a la WALTER back in the day. Chops and forearms continue between the pair, but Brookes remained ahead as he began to pick up a couple of two-counts on his former tag partner, while a grounded Octopus stretch continued the domination, even more so when Brookes pulled on the free leg before Lykos got to the rope.

Standing up, Lykos hit back with an enziguiri and a springboard crossbody… then a Pele kick as his bloodied face poked through the mask. It all led to a DDT as Lykos pulled on the ripped mask some more… giving him more visibility as he hit a springboard body press to Brookes on the outside. The crowd’s starting to cheer more for Lykos, at least until he threw a bin and some chairs into the ring as it was time to hit plunder town. There’s also a ladder under the ring for… reasons.

Back inside, Brookes avoided a bin shot, but ended up having it put over his head as Lykos ran in with a Casanova knee strike, then a corkscrew elbow drop for a two-count. Lykos puts the ladders across the corner, then climbed on them… but Brookes sweeps the leg and instead hit a back senton off the top to Lykos-on-the-ladder. Masahiro Takanashi helps Brookes take control of the “fuck CCK” door, which is propped up in the corner as the crowd got decidedly more split, but Lykos stopped it from being used as kicks took Brookes to the corner for something, only for Brookes to rip off Lykos’ mask on the top rope, then throw him into an open chair. JESUS WEPT.

Lykos was able to kick out as the 50-50 chants started to turn into anti-Brookes chants, which was quite the thing. Even more so as Lykos escaped as buckle bomb through the door and returned with a tornado DDT for a near-fall. More plunder comes out in the form of a Schadenfreude bag full of pins, which is emptied out… before Brookes caught Lykos with a Fly Swatter… onto the ladder in the corner. Brookes pulls up Lykos from that, into the former “sick effing tag move” from back in the day, except this time it’s a propelled back senton onto the drawing pins. BLECH. A running double knees gets a two-count, with the crowd cheering for Lykos’ kick-out, then when he escaped a Praying Mantis Bomb and caught Brookes with Casanova knees… only to be caught up top for a teased butterfly superplex. Lykos fought free and pushed Brookes into the pins, before his senton bomb follow up ended up with Lykos eating the pins as well.

A shotgun dropkick from Brookes wipes out that “fuck CCK” door, before another butterfly superplex attempt saw Lykos take another bad landing into the pins. Somehow, still, Lykos kicks out, as he proceeds to wheel away on Brookes with forearms, only to get met with a knee and an enziguiri, before he snaps with a brainbuster into the pins. The senton bomb followed, but this time its Brookes that kicks out, so Lykos followed up with a version of the Diamond Dust off the top rope.

Masahiro Takanashi pulls out the referee to save the match, laying him out as Lykos dove on Takanashi… that’s the cue for Kid Lykos II to come in with a baking tray, but Lykos ummed and ahhed over it, before he chucked Kid Lykos II to the outside. Brookes had no such hesitation in using the tray on Lykos, as a Praying Mantis Bomb then followed for a near-fall – complete with a loud cheer for the kick-out. Another Praying Mantis Bomb is countered out of, with Lykos rolling up Brookes for the win!

Result: Kid Lykos pinned Chris Brookes in 27:37 (****)

Post-match, we’ve got chants of “Lykos is our champion,” “CCK,” and “hug it out” as Brookes teased leaving… Lykos wanted a hug, and got it… before Brookes snatched the mic to belt out the old “shut up, Lykos” catchphrase. Brookes then retold the story of Kid Lykos announcing his retirement a few years back, which led to Brookes moving to Japan to do his own thing… but while there was success, he felt like there was something missing, even if it meant that Kid Lykos evolved a lot in Brookes’ absence.

Cue the hatchet being buried, cue Lykos chants, and cue the still-bloodied Lykos leaving, along with what was left of his mask, (on the way to being auctioned off for a pretty penny for charity.)

Live, I totally get why people loved this, and I would have done too. Sadly, the package behind the production of this didn’t help in some parts, as some of what used to be PROGRESS’ charm when they first came around ten years ago is now very much becoming an Achilles heel. Pretty much every other major independent promotion has the commentary watching what we’re seeing, which helps synchronise those big moments – especially when it comes to selling emotions. There’s a middle ground between effing and blinding, and being saccharine and beige, but right now the current tandem is too far towards the magnolia end of the spectrum. As for the match, it certainly played off the story they were looking to tell, and seemingly turned Kid Lykos by the end of it. Whether that sticks will probably be the difference between whether this was “just a good match,” or ends up being a touchstone in the history of all involved.