We’ve got a stacked line-up from PROGRESS as all three titles were put on the line on a show that featured a wacky Dog House Rules tag team title match.
Taonga pinned Alexxis Falcon in 11:15 (**½)
Malik defeated Ethan Allen via referee stoppage in 10:40 (**½)
Chuck Mambo & TK Cooper pinned Brendan White & Danny Jones in 18:40 (***¼)
Mercedez Blaze pinned Roxxy Hellz Belle in 10:21 (**½)
Warren Banks submitted Chris Ridgeway in a No Rope Breaks Match in 10:43 (***)
Charlie Sterling pinned Nick Riley in 19:02 (***½)
Kid Lykos II & Kid Lykos pinned Big Guns Joe & Gene Munny to retain the PROGRESS Tag Team Championship in a Doghouse Rules Match in 20:57 (***¼)
Cara Noir (c) defeats Jody Fleisch via referee stoppage to retain the PROGRESS World Championship in 19:28 (**¾)
Kanji (c) submitted Laura Di Matteo and Gisele Shaw to retain the PROGRESS Women’s Championship in 10:50 (**½)
Yet again. North of three hours. Of empty arena wrestling. I mean, someone’s gotta be asking for this, right? Hustle Malone and Olie Spring are the call here.
Taonga vs. Alexxis Falcon
Taonga and Mercedez Blaze formed an alliance on the last show, seemingly looking to keep beating Alexxis Falcon, who’s still looking for her first win in PROGRESS.
Taonga powders to the outside early… Falcon gives chase, but gets stopped by Blaze, who was proving a nuisance in the early going. Falcon’s able to hit a bulldog to cut off the momentum, but got tripped by Blaze in the ropes… who still isn’t ejected by the ref. A surfboard armbar stretch from Taonga keeps Falcon down, as did a running facebuster, which nearly ended it.
Falcon fights back with clotheslines and dropkicks, before a hanging neckbreaker out of the corner gets a near-fall. A head kick and a rolling neckbreaker’s next, but Taonga’s up at two and returned with some hair pulling. A gourdbuster and a running knee puts Taonga further ahead, until a cutter only drew a near fall. Falcon hits a cutter of her own, but Mercedez Blaze again distracts the referee… and gets walloped by Falcon.
An eye rake from Taonga and the I’m Prettier follows, and it’s a case of same shit, different day for Falcon as shoddy officiating overshadowed her latest loss. **½
Promo video time, and the sound’s not quite as bad as usual as Charlie Sterling and Nick Riley talk about their upcoming #1 contender’s match later tonight. Not quite sure how they got picked for the match, perhaps it was them being on the same side as Cara Noir in defeat? Both Charlie and Nick do a decent job in painting how important getting a title shot is for them both,
Malik vs. Ethan Allen
Malik’s back after getting brushed aside by Cara Noir two months ago… and despite being listed in the match graphic as having new management in the form of Kosta Konstantino, there was no sign of Kosta K in the introductions.
Allen enjoyed the upper hand early on, but Malik takes the match into strikes, and found a way through with a backdrop suplex. There’s a rude landing on a tiltawhirl backbreaker, as Malik began to wear down Allen in with whips into the corner. A slam from Allen gets him a breather, as did some boots out of the corner, which led to a dive out of the corner and another boot for a two-count.
Chops trap Malik into the corner, before Allen rolled Malik into a crossface, but it ends in the ropes. Malik returns with an enziguiri, then a Dragon suplex, bridging eventually with it for a two-count. Allen’s kicks turn it around though, as we finally see Kosta K appearing in the aisle. He’s the sort who wears sunglasses indoors, and that distracted Allen so much that he gets caught with a forearm from Malik, with some extra forearms forcing the referee to wave it off. This was enjoyable, but I could have done without a distraction finish here. Or commentary doing the “why was Kosta out here?” when he was literally advertised. **½
Greedy Souls (Brendan White & Danny Jones) vs. Sunshine Machine (Chuck Mambo & TK Cooper)
The Greedy Souls won four shows ago against TK and Mambo, but have been on a losing streak since, including losing singles matches last time out.
Mambo was heavily on the back foot early on as the Welsh lads overwhelmed him, particularly focusing on the lower back in the early stages. A springboard double back elbow got Mambo free, with TK coming in to roll together some clotheslines on Danny Jones ahead of an overhead belly-to-belly suplex.
Mambo’s back, perhaps a little quickly as he pushed up a wheelbarrow German suplex on Jones to get a two-count, A low bridge has TK sailing to the outside as the Welsh lads took the fight outside as they began to focus on TK. There’s a ripcord/forearm double team for a near-fall, before TK flipped out of a German suplex as he couldn’t make a tag out… so he takes more of a battering, with a slingshot Bossman slam almost getting the Greedy ‘uns the win.
TK’s bloodied as a result of that, but still in the wrong part of town as the Welsh lads kept knocking Mambo off the apron. Eventually the tide changes as Mambo got the hot tag, clearing house en route to a Reef Break on Jones, then a swinging side slam on White for a near-fall. We spill outside again, where headbutts from TK and Mambo put them ahead… until a deadlift suplex from the outside in sparked a Parade of Stuff, which was so rapid that you barely had time to digest TK’s 450 splash before something else happened.
Jones returns with an Exploder and a Shining Wizard on Mambo as the pace stays high. A double-team Final Cut gets a near-fall for TK and Mambo, before a front suplex/gutbuster combo keeps us going. There’s a gutwrench suplex as White chucks Mambo into TK on the top rope as they all fall down. Another slingshot Bossman slam’s countered with a Destroyer by TK, who headbutts Jones… but had to kick out of a Saito suplex.
Jones rips off a turnbuckle pad, but TK stops himself from running into the corner as White tripped into the exposed corner. Mambo dispatches of Jones with a Chuck You on the apron, while White took a Yakuza kick, then a Burning Gutbuster onto White for the win. This started solid, but broke down into the style that’s become a part of the rebooted PROGRESS – with the almost parody of what some call the “Takeover Formula” that led to just “so much stuff” going on that just doesn’t land with me. Your mileage will absolutely vary. ***¼
Backstage, we’ve more innuendo as TK and Mambo trade gift cards in celebration… then chuck cream pies at each other again.
Mercedez Blaze vs. Roxxy Hellz Belle
We’ve a debut from the Geordie Roxxy, and it’s about time too as PROGRESS stays Northern.
Curiously, we’ve the same ref from the opening match, and of course he does bugger all when Taonga distacts Roxxy at the start. I mean, at least they’re keeping it to just the one ref, eh? Roxxy manages to overcome that but eventually got whipped into the corner by Blaze, recovering with slingshot knees for a two-count.
Taonga trips Roxxy in front of the ref, who stays consistent, as Blaze then choked Roxxy in the ropes. Taonga gets involved behind the ref’s back, but realistically she’d probably have gotten away with that if there was a big neon flashing sign. A Flatliner from Blaze gets a two-count, before a front suplex dropped Roxxy into a Muta Lock of sorts, but Roxxy got to the ropes in the end.
Roxxy makes a comeback with forearms and a STO for a two-count, before a roll-through grounded Octopus trapped Blaze.
Blaze gets to the ropes, and milks it for all she can as he went on to pull Roxxy to the outside. More distraction. More interference. This time Roxxy knocked away Taonga, but ends up falling to a butterfly suplex in the corner that almost ended things. A roll-through into a stomp from Roxxy turned it back around, before Taonga yet again tried to intervene. The distraction works and Blaze manages to get the win with a Tower of Blaze. I get they’re establishing this new pairing, but this is a little too unsubtle… **½
Post-match, Alexxis Falcon runs out to make the save, and I guess we’ve got some tag matches due. Hopefully it leads to an eventual win…
Backstage, Gene Munny tells us what the Dog House Rules are. No DQ, no count-out, and perhaps some piss-taking or giving.
Bloody hell, Roy Johnson confirms some stuff for the next show – that Blaze/Taonga vs. Roxxy/Falcon match is official for next time out… as we then get a video package to recap the Ridgeway/Banks feud. Hey, it’s different, and by that right, it makes this match feel more important than it otherwise would have.
No Rope Breaks: Warren Banks vs. Chris Ridgeway
So I understand the need for a stipulation given these two had a no-contest through too-much-arse-kicking a few shows back, but no rope breaks? It’s not like we had anything more than a contentious rope break…
We’ve got early use of the ropes as Ridgeway grabbed a crossface and used the bottom rope for leverage, forcing Banks to go to for the fingers to get free before things spilled outside. The referee enforces the 10-count on the floor, so Ridgeway returned to tie up Banks in a STF in the ropes, before things escalated into headbutts.
Banks goes for Ridgeway’s ear, as the match returned to strikes, with an elbow smash getting Banks a two-count. Right hands keep Ridgeway in the ropes, but he manages to turn it around with a knee to the gut, then a body blow of his own that had Banks in a head. Mid kicks follow, sending Banks crashing through the ropes to the outside… before Banks retaliated with a spear back into the ring as both men were winded.
Banks grabs wrist control on Ridgeway, but a ripcord is blocked with a gutshot from Ridgeway, who followed with a PK and a crossface… stopping to adjust his position to stop Banks getting to the ropes, for all the good they’d have done. Even when Banks got to the ropes, he’s tied up with a half crab… which makes me wonder, if he tapped there, does the match end? I mean technically, he’s outside the ring…
Ridgeway lets go as Banks heads to the outside for respite… but instead he’s just thrown right back in as he snuck in an enziguiri. Another ripcord from Banks is stopped with some right hands, before Banks ends up hitting the ripcord knee for a near-fall. Banks pulls Ridgeway into a guillotine choke, but Ridgeway slips out and hits a forearm… only to get caught back in that guillotine after getting a two-count, as he was forced to submit. This was a good little sprint, but that no-rope break stipulation didn’t feel too integral to the story of the match, as this didn’t seem like a blow-off. ***
Backstage, we’ve got echoey audio as Lykos Gym have a promo before their title defence earlier. You know my grumbles about the audio on these segments, so let’s move on.
Charlie Sterling vs. Nick Riley
So for some reason this is a number-one contender’s match… and a battle of two men perennially described as “underrated.” Still, the separate entrances mean we get Man With a Plan back for Riley…
Things are kept tight and even to start as Riley and Sterling trade wristlocks and reversals, as both men reached a stand-off. They stay tight on the mat with a knuckle lock and a monkey flip, before some World of Sport-ish stuff led to back-and-forth roll-ups and another staredown. A side headlock from Riley looked to put him ahead, as did a shoulder block, but we get a lot of swinging and missing with moves as we kept the stalemate.
Sterling slammed down Riley as he went for a floatover in the corner, before a right hand knocked Riley back into the corner. Riley’s receipt saw the match degenerate into some strikes, before a crossbody out of the corner gave Sterling a two-count. A backbreaker’s next, as Sterling looked to work that lower back and midsection, following with an abdominal stretch as he continued to wear down his tag partner.
Riley hiptosses free, then threw a spinning heel kick for good measure, as a dropkick from Sterling took Riley onto the apron. A superkick from Riley gave him hope, but also took him down to the floor, where he followed up by throwing Sterling into a table before a cannonball off the apron, and a Tiger Driver back inside almost won it.
Riley tries to build on it, but his moonsault misses, allowing Sterling back in with a knee strike and a backbreaker for a two-count. The aggression from Sterling rose, as he raked Riley again ahead of a backbreaker, before he put the boots to Riley. Sterling rolls Riley for a Cloverleaf, but Riley overpowers thing before a sunset flip sparked back-and-forth pins to troll the ref, then a Northern lights suplex as Riley looked to land awkwardly on his head while landing the move.
It gets a two-count nevertheless, before Sterling’s boot and another backbreaker had Riley rocked… before Nick countered with a one-man Spanish Fly for a near-fall. Riley cravat’s Sterling into a TKO, before a moonsault out of the corner clattered into Sterling for a near-fall. Both men look to be swinging for the fences, but in the end it’s Sterling’s backbreaker and powerbomb that looked to get the win as we’re deep into near-falls. Silence permeates the room as Sterling pulled up Riley for a German suplex… but it’s flipped out of as we trade more near-falls, including the SummerSlam ‘92 finish, before Sterling countered an inside cradle to snatch the win. A hair under 20-minutes long, this perhaps could have done with being a little tighter, but as a sporting contest between two tag team partners with something at stake, this ticked a lot of my boxes. ***½
Dog House Rules Match for PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: Big Money Gun Dogs (Big Guns Joe & Gene Munny) vs. Lykos Gym (Kid Lykos & Kid Lykos II) (c)
So… we had some stuff here. Munny and Joe come out with the old PROGRESS tag team championship shields, as someone clearly raided the storage unit before the match.
We’ve a jump start… with things going outside as Kid Lykos I threw Gene Munny through a fire door in the opening minute. Big Guns Joe and Lykos II stay in the ring, with Joe having to defend an Octopus hold, then a brainbuster as an inside cradle nearly ended it early.
We’re then distracted on the balcony… it’s the ledge, brother! Gene Munny threatens to press slam Lykos into the ring, then had to defend a similar plunge himself, before they disappeared. A sorta-pounce from Joe drops Lykos II, as Joe continued to work through the young wolf, slamming him for a two-count as we waited for the more experienced hands to find their way back to ringside.
Right on cue, Lykos breaks up a Boston crab as Gene’s still MIA… but there’s little double-teaming as Lykos I blitzed Joe with a DDT for a near-fall. Munny’s back with a slingshot spear as he’s still wearing his furry ring coat. He’d NOT be doing that if this were live, not unless he wanted to cut a tonne of weight…
A spinebuster from Munny gets a near-fall for Munny, before Lykos II wandered in with a Kendo stick. You know what’s next. That, and a double-team Kendo stick lariat, before Munny countered a Lykos II brainbuster before the challengers burst in with a Finlay roll, a Vader bomb and a pair of splashes for a near-fall.
Lykos chokes Munny with a chain’d dog lead, but Gene gets his own back, using the lead for a neckbreaker. A Flatliner/uppercut combo nearly wins it too, before we get more doggy plunder in the shape of dog bowls, with Lykos taking a DDT into one for another two-count, before a Lykos reversed a Claymore Hart Attack as things again broke down into plunder – with baking trays starting another bout of offence that had commentary talking like auctioneers trying to cram everything in.
Big Guns Joe tries for Boston crabs, eventually trapping Lykos I in one until Lykos II’s kicks earned him a slam en route to a stacked up Boston crab. Lykos I got to the ropes, but they don’t count in a no DQ match (at least this time), as it needed Lykos II’s boot and death valley driver to force a break. Hey, more plunder! They’ve got a doggie crate, and lock Joe into it… I thought you couldn’t use those things unless they were trained in them as puppies?
That leaves Gene on his own, as the wolves worked over the leg as Joe could only watch on helplessly. The Lykii end up getting caught with a pair of powerbombs as Munny bought himself enough time to try and free Joe… only to get caught with a running knee on the edge of the ring. Eventually Big Guns Joe has had enough and tries to break the crate through brute force, and through the power of camera shakes. Yep, my doggie crate broke just as easily. Even more so when I fell on it. Luckily, like here, my dog wasn’t inside it.
Buoyed by that, Munny chucks Lykos II into the corner ahead of a back body drop. A Fireman’s carry flapjack drops Lykos I ahead of a Vader bomb for a near-fall. Out come some chairs as the Lykii turn it around, making a chair “table”. Lykos I’s face meets it, but it’s Lykos II who ends up taking the structure, by way of a powerbomb from Joe that led to a horrific landing for a near-fall. Think “Homer over a fire hydrant.”
A big Ainsley Lariat dumps Lykos II, before Lykos pulled Munny outside. A kick to the ding dongs and some powder blind Munny as Lykos II punted Joe low, while a brainbuster onto the chair proves to be enough to get the win. The GIFs that floated around on Saturday did this few favours, but (canine props aside) this was a fun tag match in parts. ***¼
Backstage, Jody Fleisch is hyped for his title match when he’s interrupted by Charlie Sterling & Nick Riley, who wish him luck… and asked that Fleisch give them a title match if he won. The way they spoke, I wasn’t sure if this was meant to have taken place before Riley/Sterling or afterwards… because they sure as hell didn’t point to Sterling having won it earlier.
PROGRESS World Championship: Jody Fleisch vs. Cara Noir (c)
Jody’s been on a bit of a run since returning to PROGRESS, but this does feel like a “sudden” title match rather than one that’s been built up to. Speaking of, Spike Trivet’s been a little MIA lately…
Fleisch works the wrist early, as things head to the match as the bowling-alley-sounding-ring did its thing. A toe hold is pushed out of, but Cara telegraphs a back body drop as the pair trade dropkicks en route to a stand-off. Fleisch gets thrown outside, and dropkicked as he tried to skin the cat, before a tope kept the challenger on the outside.
Cara stretches Jody back inside, then ran him between the turnbuckles before a shotgun dropkick drew a near-fall. A second one crashes and burns as Cara hit the buckles, then was sent back there as Fleisch threw him into the buckles repeatedly before he skinned the cat and took Cara back outside. Jody heads outside for a springboard moonsault to the champion, then took things back inside as the pair check a load of kicks.
Changing tactic, Fleisch goes for body blows, but Cara gets free… only to get caught with a Euro clutch as the pace quickens. A Fleisch ‘rana gets a two-count, as did a Pele kick, but Cara’s shotgun dropkick has him back in ahead of an avalanche German suplex that looked to have Fleisch land on his shoulder. That could have gone so much worse.
After getting a two-count, Cara went for the package piledriver, but Fleisch escaped to hit a reverse ‘rana… only to eat a clothesline. Fleisch recovered and headed to the apron for his 720 DDT, but a dropkick stuffed Fleisch in the gut for a near-fall, before a Rude Awakening neckbreaker got another near-fall.
Fleisch charges to the counter to break a Blackout sleeper, but Cara Noir pulls them both up for a hanging choke in the corner. More headscissors from Fleisch take Cara down, as did a Fisherman buster, before another 720 DDT was avoided, with Cara reapplying the Blackout sleeper for the referee’s stoppage. A hair short of 20 minutes, this didn’t feel long, but it also didn’t feel like a match you’d recall much of afterwards. There’s something about Cara Noir’s run as champion in this environment that is missing – and it’s not just the lack of crowd reactions, either. **¾
Backstage, Spike Trivet’s waiting for Cara Noir and gives him a golf clap for another title defence. Spike gloats about his 5-0 winning record as of late, despite having not been on the last four shows, and called out Cara for a title shot. Of course, Cara doesn’t do promos, but you assume it was accepted as the camera awkwardly lingered afterwards.
PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Kanji (c) vs. Laura di Matteo vs. Gisele Shaw
Kanji beat di Matteo on the last chapter, but Gisele Shaw attacked afterwards, and I guess this leads to a three-way rematch?
Shaw’s jumped in the entrance way as she came out last, prompting help from the back to separate them. Hi, RJ Singh. When things calm down, we’ve eschewed ring introductions as the match starts with Shaw getting double-teamed, eating a pair of forearms before returning to catch Kanji and di Matteo from behind.
Shaw pulls ahead with chops to both opponents in the corner, then uppercuts, before she got carried away as she got double-teamed. Kanji and di Matteo trade forearms before a wheelbarrow roll-up nearly earned the Italian the win. Kanji’s back with an elbow off the ropes, before a DDT from di Matteo looked to lead to a pin… but Shaw breaks up the pin with a Lion Tamer on di Matteo, throwing in some stomps until Kanji’s Judas Effect-like elbow broke the hold.
Kanji’s got to fight out of a draping DDT, coming back in with a slingshot spear before di Matteo found form with some strikes en route to a missile dropkick. The cover gets a tow-count as Shaw came in with a neck flip on di Matteo for a two-count, before she focused on Kanji, looking for a half-and-half suplex. Instead, Kanji pulls Shaw nto a triangle armbar, but di Matteo goes to break it up… only to get kicked by Shaw, who then powerbombed Kanji onto her as we get hyperbole on commentary.
Again, Shaw measures her foes, hitting a double springboard cutter for a stereo pair of two-counts, as the frustration seemed to build. From there, Shaw target’s Kanji’s arm with an armbar, but di Matteo’s thrust kick breaks the hold to save the match, before trapping Shaw with the Veni Vidi Vici. Of course, Kanji breaks that up, then hammered di Matteo with some Danielson elbows.
Di Matteo unloads with kicks, but Kanji is right back in with a triangle armbar to force the stoppage. This one never really got going for me, but the story of Gisele Shaw continuing to fall short continues – even if she never took the loss. So, who’s next? Shaw one-on-one? **½
“Hail, The Eyeball Kid” is the next PROGRESS show in two weeks’ time. A Tom Waits reference.
There were parts of this show I enjoyed, even though this show definitely needed to be shorter. As much as I’ll give PROGRESS credit for having more than a token “women’s storyline,” did they really need to do the same match template twice in the same show? It’s stuff like that that could be spread out, and I’ll keep saying it, but how are we 16 months into a pandemic and yet we’re still getting LONG shows in the empty arena setting? It’s almost like someone’s got a long to-do list and is trying to get it all done before we get back in front of crowds? As for the VOD side, there’s absolutely some work needed to change the presentation of the tag matches that far too frequently just break out into… stuff. It’s just as much a stylistic issue as it is a filming issue, as perhaps the long-standing way of filming these shows without any live direction has had its day?