The battle for the PROGRESS Women’s title reaches it climax as Kanji and Gisele Shaw have their deciding battle for the belt.
Spike Trivet pinned Big Guns Joe in 9:26 (***)
Luke Jacobs vs. Chris Ridgeway ended as a no-contest at 12:40 (***¼)
Mercedez Blade pinned Taonga in 10:07 (**½)
Man Like DeReiss & Dan Moloney pinned Chuck Mambo & TK Cooper in 12:24 (***¼)
Kid Lykos submitted Danny Black in 11:17 (***)
Elijah pinned Gene Munny in 11:17 (***)
Kid Lykos II defeated Ethan Allen & Cara Noir via referee stoppage in 9:49 (**¾)
Kanji pinned Gisele Shaw in 18:57 to win the best-of-three series for the PROGRESS Women’s Championship (***½)
For once, this show’s had a little hype going into it, with WWE’s The Bump having both Gisele Shaw and Kanji on to promote the main event…
We open with Gene Munny on the treatment table, waiting for the physio, but it’s Charles Crowley giving him a massage instead. Crowley talks Munny into having another match with Elijah to try and solidify his claim for a Super Strong Style 16 spot… Gene accepts, and if you don’t think there’s going to be interference, then I might have a bridge to sell you. We cut to the Theatre Peckham for the usual intros, and it’s straight to action. Hustle Malone and Charles Crowley are on commentary…
Spike Trivet vs. Big Guns Joe
Spike’s smug because his lower third’s right this time…
Before the match, Trivet laughed off Joe as he decides to have a word because he’s now backing up his words in the ring. “I know there’s nobody here… but this place would be filled with noise, but if there were (fans) it’d all be vitriol because nobody knows who you are.” Spike then grabs the word I use too much on these reviews, calling Joe “fine,” as he then riled up his opponent. Joe’s aggression early on nearly cost him as Spike rolled him up out of nowhere, before he tossed aside Joe’s weightlifting belt. Joe goes after it, does the dramatic “why is my belt so evil?” stare (for those cynics) then came back into the ring… and got taken down by a side headlock. He escapes and hits a waistlock takedown, but Trivet’s right back on him before a clothesline took Spike to the ropes.
A back body drop has Spike on the back foot, but he ducks a leap from Joe and snaps the nose. There’s a lot of bloodless broken noses there, huh? A chinlock follows, then a suplex, before Spike started to jab at the nose. Spike does the gentlemanly thing and pulls up Joe’s singlet… then takes down the straps for a chop before going back to the nose. Joe breaks the grip and hits a capture suplex, firing back with forearms and uppercuts, before a side Salto suplex dropped Trivet for a two-count. A Sky High gets Joe another two-count, before Trivet grabbed the referee to avoid a German suplex. Spike’s mule kick stops Joe, ahead of the Birth Right… but Joe kicks out at two. A STF follows, but Joe rolls free for a two-count, before he did the thing with the straps ahead of a deadlift German… but Spike broke via the nose again. From there, a pumphandle Birth Right follows, and that’s the win for Spike as he continues to rack up wins – while Joe’s brave showing was in vain. ***
Luke Jacobs vs. Chris Ridgeway
They’re doing the Pick Your Poison gimmick here, ahead of the tag title tournament final, and this was perhaps one of the obvious choices from the Lykii. Apparently we’re meant to have all four Pick Your Poison matches tonight, but only two got announced.
We start with the pair leathering each other with elbows and forearms, but a shot to the gut and a kick from Ridgeway looked to put him ahead. Back elbows in the ropes kept it even, but Jacobs charged down Ridgeway before he ducked a measured kick from his mentor. Jacobs takes it to the mat but they break in the ropes as he looked to take the mount, which allowed Ridgeway an opening. Jacobs returns with chops, but a kitchen sink knee to the gut lands for a two-count, as Ridgeway resumed strikes on Allen, leaving him on his knees. Ridgeway looks for a submission, but instead opts for more kicks before Allen met him on the outside, chokeslamming Ridgeway onto the apron for some more strikes.
Ridgeway’s Dragon screw catches Jacobs between the ropes, while more followed as a STF looked to force a stoppage. Jacobs held on, dragging his way to the rope, before the pair resumed strikes, with Ridgeway again inching ahead… until Jacobs began to club away with short lariats as a set-up for a back suplex. It nearly gets Jacobs the win, as Ridgeway had to sneak in with a pumphandle Go 2 Sleep to keep him in it.
Jacobs kicks out at two, but quickly takes a PK for another two-count, before a series of strikes from Ridgeway was punctuated with two swiping lariats from Jacobs… but he can’t get back to his feet as Ridgeway tries another PK. Still a near-fall… as was the count from Jacobs’ lariat as we get the big sell to Jacobs’ big move depreciating in value. He stays on Ridgeway with a German suplex, but Ridgeway returns the favour… only for Jacobs to chain two of them together before Ridgeway rolled in for an ankle lock, torquing Jacob’s knee until Warren Banks ran in for the DQ. Storyline-wise, I get where they were going (even if this was another match that was ruled a no-contest that was an obvious other result), but that sure explains why the match felt like it was being held back in second or third gear. Good outing but a crap finish. ***¼
Post-match, Banks tosses Jacobs to the outside before he spears Ridgeway.
Taonga vs. Mercedez Blaze
It’s a singles debut for Taonga, who’d last been part of the women’s Thunderbastard a few shows back.
We open with a lock-up as Blaze rolls Taonga to the mat for a quick one-count. A hair-pull sees Blaze throw Taonga to the corner, but she’s back with an overhead belly-to-belly… only for Blaze to return quickly with forearms. A spin kick from Taonga and a running forearm drops Blaze for a two-count, before she suckered in Taonga for an out-of-focus forearm out of the corner.
Taonga runs into Blaze in the corner, then gets caught with a spear for a two-count as boots kept the newcomer on the deck. Some rope choking follows, before Blaze’s spinning neckbreaker almost won her the match. Blaze ties up Taonga for a camel clutch from there so she could try and rip off Taonga’s eyelashes, but Taonga’s able to make it to the rope to force a break. More hair-pulling snuffs out Taonga’s attempted comeback… before an O’Connor roll was blocked as Taonga returned with a sliding Flatliner for a two-count. An Exploder follows as Taonga stayed ahead, only to get pulled down in mid air as she looked to leap onto Blaze. Both women get back to their feet, but Taonga heads back up top… and got caught again as a handstand ‘rana took her out of the corner.
From there, Blaze followed up with double knees, then a shotgun dropkick for a near-fall, before some near misses led to Taonga again going up top, as she finally landed a crossbody off the middle rope. A knee strike follows, but Blaze kicks out, as she then came back with a Tower of Blaze for the win. Mercedez is building up a head of steam as of late, and you’d have to think she’ll be top of the queue for a title shot after today’s main event. **½
Except Alexxis Falcon attacked Blaze from behind after the match, chasing her to the back with a chair…
The 0121 (Dan Moloney & Man Like DeReiss) vs. Sunshine Machine (TK Cooper & Chuck Mambo)
This was the first time we’d seen Moloney and DeReiss since PROGRESS’ “comeback” show in February… and I guess this is going to be an unofficial number one contender’s match?
Moloney and Mambo start us off, with Moloney shrugging off his dislike of glitter to take down Mambo as he looked to force a pin attempt. Mambo breaks the cover and reaches a stand-off as DeReiss tagged in. He’s quickly tripped and pulled into a Romero special, with Mambo releasing for a Flatliner from TK as the Sunshine Machine looked to take advantage. Except DeReiss catches TK out with a dropkick for a quick two-count. TK’s able to reply with a Quebrada after a quick flurry, before Mambo worked over the arm. DeReiss gets free and hits a 619 to the ribs of a waiting Mambo, while Moloney’s backbreaker set up for a senton atomico from DeReiss for a two-count.
Chops from DeReiss take Mambo to the corner, as commentary talked as if the tag title match was coming up later on. Moloney cuts off Mambo with stomps in the corner, allowing DeReiss to come in for more of the same… but his lackadaisical approach allows Mambo to elbow back into things, before a springboard back elbow off the top took down DeReiss. TK’s back in to clear house, throwing Moloney across the ring ahead of a leg lariat on DeReiss… then a springboard somersault legdrop as DeReiss was in the ropes. DeReiss kicks Mambo in the head, but it’s shrugged off as a pair of headbutts drop him to the mat, before stereo dives on DeReiss and Moloney landed on opposite sides of the floor. From there, the B-Roll nearly gets the win, before a miscue almost cost the Sunshine Machine.
Dan Moloney pulls TK out and powerbombs him onto the edge of the ring, then tagged back in as a Blockbuster Powerbomb gets a near-fall and the resulting OHHs from the commentary. Moloney looks for a Drilla, but TK escaped as Mambo then ran in to go for a superplex on the legal DeReiss… he’s pushed down, but they recover as headbutts sandwich DeReiss ahead of a Gory Bomb Cutter for a near-fall. DeReiss leaps over a charging TK, then tagged out to Moloney, who eats a superkick as Mambo tries to come back with a Reef Break… but Moloney caught and powerbombed him instead. Another flurry gets rid of TK on the outside as a Drilla piledriver planted Mambo, ahead of a 4-Fiddy from DeReiss for the win. A real good establishing match for the 0121, as the Sunshine Machine look to be falling back into familiar ways. ***¼
Backstage, TK’s annoyed at how Mambo seemed to be cool with the loss… and told Mambo that “next time” they’ve got to get it done.
Kid Lykos vs. Danny Black
It’s our other announced Pick Your Poison match of the day…
Lykos backed into the corner to start, but he comes out with a headlock takedown on Black. After getting back up, Black rolls Lykos with a cravat, but got caught in a wristlock as he’s taken back down. Lykos stays on him, but a springboard armdrag and a dropkick from Black has Lykos powdering to the outside.
A swipe from Lykos II on the floor’s avoided, but Lykos I can’t capitalise on the distraction as Black flew in for a ‘rana before a dropkick drew a two-count. Lykos II catches Black in the corner… and he gets ejected by the ref who caught the interference. With no sidekick, Lykos I called for a brainbuster, but had more luck rolling Black down into a Key lock as Black was left bleeding from a crossface. Lykos rolls Black down to the mat for another submission attempt, but that ended in the ropes, before… hang on a second. Is that the DOUKI CHOKEY from Lykos? Indeed it was, but Black gets free and takes Lykos into the corner before a seemingly-endless series of standing switches led to Black landing a Ranhei for a near-fall.
Black keeps going with a Koppo kick for a two-count, before he wiped his own blood on his face. Lykos caught him in the nose again as a quick DDT drew a near-fall… and then it’s back to the grounded Octopus as the bloodied Black forced the break. A running knee from Lykos targets the nose, as did some follow-up strikes, but it doesn’t get the win… so Lykos goes for some rolling brainbusters. Nope. Still not enough. Black tries an inside cradle as he went to flash pin town, leading to a springboard cutter out of the corner for a near-fall as we’re still dealing with the ‘Mania Main Event commentary reactions. Normal. A Spiral Tap crushes Lykos as Black almost nicked it, only for Lykos to tie up Black on the mat to force the submission. Danny Black continues to put on some good underdog performances while coming up short – if used right, Black could be quite the crowd favourite when they return… ***
Elijah vs. Gene Munny
Hey, an added-on-the-night bonus match! They’re getting in the habit of not-quite-announcing fill cards for these shows, eh?
Charles Crowley’s cheerleading on commentary for Elijah, which I promise you isn’t going to be annoying. Especially when Crowley tells us he got this match made, in case we all skipped that opening segment. Elijah puts the boots to Munny as he slung himself into the ring. Munny gets up to start the match, but eats a dropkick and an enziguiri as Elijah looked to close this one early. Elijah gets caught on Munny’s shoulders and eats a Finlay roll, but Munny’s neck was slowing him down as he leapt onto Elijah for some ground and pound.
Munny throws in a slingshot spear for a two-count, then a knee drop for another, before Elijah pulled him off the buckles as Munny’s neck seemed to be hurting again. Munny tries to roll back into the ring, but is baseball slid to the outside. Stomps greeted him next time he tries to get back inside, before a missed floatover led to Munny getting kicked again. A cravat neckbreaker drops Munny for a two-count, before he countered a head kick by going for a powerbomb. Elijah elbows his way free, but Munny gets the powerbomb off anyway, then pinned Elijah into the corner with strikes. A kick out of the corner leads to a flying bulldog for a two-count, before a Claymore-or-Less kick left Elijah open… only for him to nail Munny with a crucifix driver for a near-fall to counter the Ainsley Lariat.
Elijah goes for a springboard, but it’s countered into a spinebuster by Munny, who couldn’t follow-up straight away, as another exchange leads to a German suplex from Elijah, then a diving forearm for a near-fall. A reverse ‘rana out of nowhere from Munny drops Elijah, before Gene went up top and landing a top rope elbow for another two-count. The Elijah Fan Club abandons commentary as Charles Crowley’s monkey distracts… Crowley pulls Elijah out of the ring to save him from an Ainsley Lariat, before he got dived on by Munny. Of course, that’s not it as Munny flipped back into the ring to take an enziguiri and a head kick, before a cross-armed Emerald Fusion gets Elijah the win. Take away the commentary and this was a pretty good match to keep the back-and-forth story between Elijah and Munny going. ***
Post-match, Crowley leaves commentary as he’s seemingly now managing Elijah full-time. Instead, for the next match, Spike Trivet takes over… and I hope that headset got sanitized.
Ethan Allen vs. Kid Lykos II vs. Cara Noir
Another unannounced match as “Pick Your Poison” ended up being a swerve, as both men picked Cara Noir (and showed their working), so we have a sudden three-way. Which might explain the commentary choice as Trivet got really rankled at Cara Noir.
We’ve a stand-off as Cara Noir “fights two children.” Wait, is this copying that viral video from Mexico? Cara Noir stared a hole at Lykos II, but became part of the background briefly as Lykos II and Allen went at each other, only for Cara to come back with a double clothesline. He throws Lykos into Allen on the floor, before those two went back at each other again, stopping only to derail Cara Noir briefly as the PROGRESS World Champion was dangerously looking like he was fading into the background. Cara fights back in as he hits a powerbomb onto the knee on Lykos, before a rear naked choke on Allen ended with Allen rolling backwards to force a pin/break the hold. Lykos breaks up a crossface and took care of Allen with a roundhouse enziguiri… then landed a slingshot Code Red for a near-fall. Lykos plants Cara with a take on the 720 DDT, but the “stupid goose” kicks out.
Allen’s back as he got thrown into a Blackout sleeper in the corner… which Lykos tries to break up with a Lo Mein Pain… but instead he has to hiptoss his way free. The Parade of Moves continues as Spike Trivet continued to channel me on commentary. We’ve stacked up submissions as Cara Noir staggers into the ropes. Allen applies the Young Boy Killer to Lykos II, but Cara Noir breaks it up with a German suplex, before a Madame Guillotine to Allen allowed Lykos II to nick in with a brainbuster to Cara for a near-fall.
They keep going, building up to a staredown as the kids go for Cara… a brainbuster drops the champion ahead of an Allen Slam, then a pair of buzzsaw kicks as Noir’s tossed outside. Allen and Lykos go at each other from there, but Lykos can’t get the win with a brainbuster, before a submission attempt leads to the referee waving off the match as Allen looked to have been KO’d with that flurry. Since I got pelters for apparently being negative on the last PROGRESS show, let me be clear. I. LOVED. SPIKE. TRIVET. ON. COMMENTARY. Some could say it distracted from the match, but it didn’t work for me as a three-way, feeling way too disjointed. **¾
Post-match, Trivet mouths off at Cara Noir on commentary, daring him to talk… but Cara just shakes his head and walked to the back. You know, Spike had a point about Cara not really being vocal… as Spike then stormed to the back, leaving Hustle Malone solo for the main event on commentary.
We get the traditional PROGRESS Big Match video package™, charting Gisele Shaw’s claim for a women’s title match in March 2020… but that fell apart because of the coronavirus lockdowns. They go through a Thunderbastard that Shaw wanted no part of, before she was thrust into a best-of-three series for the now-vacated Women’s title.
Match Three in the Best of Three Series for the PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Kanji (1) vs. Gisele Shaw (1)
It’s winner-take-all here, and it’s got to be noted that Shaw’s threatened “heelish” demeanour translated into action last time out.
We start with a tense staredown at the bell, before the pair try some flash roll-ups to start as things broke down into a hockey fight. Kinda apt, given Gisele’s in this. Part of me is just sad imagining how a hot crowd would have reacted to this open, but we have what we have as they scrap on the mat, rolling to the outside, trading punches before Shaw was thrown into the wall, brother.
Kanji sets up a chair, looking to take a running jump at Shaw, but she just leaps into a superkick, before Shaw punted Kanji in the ribs. Shaw throws Kanji shoulder-first into the wall repeatedly, as she then stomped away on Kanji’s previously-injured arm back in the ring. That leads to a roll-up for a two-count as Kanji looked to be down and out, but she trips up Shaw ahead of a step-up legdrop that barely garnered a one-count. Shaw gets back on Kanji, standing on her in the corner, before she wrapped Kanji’s arm around the top rope. So far, a clear game plan being executed well, even if Kanji was staying stubborn in the early going. Shaw’s armbar is fought out of, but she hits a neat rebound lariat that the camera just about misses…
Kanji switches around as she trapped Shaw between the ropes, then faceplanted her with a dropkick for a two-count… but Shaw from the kick-out grabs the arm and goes right back in with a Fujiwara armbar. Kanji’s nose is bleeding again as Shaw hits a series of arm whips to send her down to the mat, but Kanji returns fire with forearms before a springboard forearm smash had Shaw staggered. A 619 in the corner keeps Shaw on jelly legs, with a backbreaker finally putting her down for a two-count. Kanji tries to go up top as commentary rattles through the alumnus of PROGRESS’ women’s division, but Shaw caught her with a draping DDT, then a springboard cutter for a near-fall. Kanji finds a way back in with a back elbow in the corner, then by going up top for a missile dropkick… but her aim’s off as she gets kicks the referee in the arse.
That opens the door for Shaw to grab her pipe, but Kanji stops her from using it as a springboard stunner out of the corner lands… but Kanji makes the cover, oblivious to her having literally just dropkicked the ref. One visual pin, but the match still goes on. Shaw blindsides Kanji with the pipe as she was on the mat… but Kanji kicks out on a delayed count from the groggy ref. Shaw goes for another springboard cutter, but Kanji counters with a roll-up. Shaw kicks out, and pushes Kanji into the ropes, swiping away her springboard with another pipe shot, before she pulled off all of Kanji’s arm sleeves as Shaw began to pound on the limb. A stomp to the previously-injured arm followed, as Shaw then dragged Kanji into place for a Tornillo… but she’s caught with a triangle armbar on the landing, only to powerbomb her way out of it for a near-fall.
Kanji re-applies the triangle armbar… but Shaw jack-knifes and rolls up Kanji for a near-fall. Kanji got back to her feet and landed a superkick, before pulling herself onto the apron as she lands a springboard Codebreaker… then a springboard stunner to get the win. With a crowd, this would have been lapped up as they told a good story of Shaw trying to work the obvious body part, only for Kanji to gut through it, digging deep to find a way to add her name into the record books. ***½
After the match, Hustle Malone goes big on how momentous this was – painting the moment as an inspirational event for those who may be thinking about getting into wrestling. “If you’re sitting at home, thinking “one day I can do this”… let me ask you, “are you ready to give what (Kanji’s) given?” – a cool sign-off for the show…
From the (admittedly, lower) number of pundits watching these shows, there’s been a trend – these new PROGRESS shows aren’t bad, but they do have their moments where they offer a glimpse into what could be… why also giving you stuff that makes you despair. To PROGRESS’ credit, they’ve at least carved out a new roster, without simply “promoting everyone from mid table to the top spots”, but there’s still that weird feeling around this product. “It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s boring,” which is a description I’ve heard elsewhere, is a perhaps unfair summation, but even factoring in the ill feeling from several sections of the fanbase, the fact that these shows get little buzz just makes them a sad product to watch – as we continue to get “the next generation” plying their craft, but to the online equivalent of crickets. They deserve better, and hopefully better comes when PROGRESS gets around to returning with fans.