PROGRESS return after several weeks off, with card that’s headlined by a six-man scramble to pick the next contender for the PROGRESS World title…

Quick Results
Kid Lykos submitted LJ Cleary in 13:35 (***)
Chris Ridgeway pinned Danny Black in 13:42 (***)
Malik pinned Keinen Krishna in 6:01 (**½)
TK Cooper & Chuck Mambo pinned Roy Johnson & Warren Banks in 5:42 (**¾)
Raven Creed pinned Taonga in 10:48 (***)
Dan Moloney pinned ELIJAH in 5:55 (**¾)
PROGRESS Revelations Of Divine Love Semi-Final: Mercedez Blaze pinned Alexxis Falcon in 11:51 (***¼)
Cara Noir submitted Nick Riley in 13:41 to retain the PROGRESS World Championship (***½)
Gene Munny pinned Kid Lykos II, Big Guns Joe, Ethan Allen, LK Mezinger and Man Like DeReiss in 12:57 (***)

We’re back at the Theatre Peckham in London with this… and per the last show out, Charles Crowley’s hosting things. He kicks off with a real mean-spirited imitation of Roy Johnson before he declared that Hustle Malone was fired. Hustle still did commentary. Is this like putting Dwight in charge of the Office with little real power?

Kid Lykos vs. LJ Cleary
This was LJ’s first match in PROGRESS since before the pandemic – and if his Instagram posts were any indicator, parts of this show were taped over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Dusty.

After shouting for breaks in the ropes, Lykos has LJ down… only to grab the rope as LJ went for a submission. It’s very tentative stuff as Lykos looked to be hitting and running – using the ropes almost as a safety blanket. Headlocks and headscissors lead to a LJ bodyscissors for a two-count, before a crossbody from LJ and a leg lariat earned just a one-count. Lykos II tries to get involved as he clung onto LJ’s leg, then dropped the arm across the top rope as a snap DDT almost gets the win. LJ’s tied up, but fought his way free as Lykos proceeded to tie up Cleary some more, but they rolled way too close to the ropes as LJ manages to force the break.

More interference from Lykos II followed on the outside, before a back elbow from LJ looked to turn the tide. A springboard forearm back in gets LJ a near-fall, as did an ushigoroshi, before LJ misses a springboard and got rolled up for another near-fall. Lykos’ knee to the back of the head keeps it going, as he goes back to the armbar… LJ escapes and finally hits the springboard dropkick ahead of a double underhook driver for a near-fall. Lykos II stops LJ’s latest springboard as Lykos I nearly wins with a roll-up… LJ cradles him again, but another springboard goes awry as Lykos ends up tapping Cleary to the Blood Moon grounded Octopus. Decent enough for an opener, but this was pretty much template, with the Lykii interfering as LJ couldn’t overcome the other wolf. ***

Backstage, Roy Johnson’s looking forward to wrestling for PROGRESS again. He sure didn’t look it when the news was broken last time out.

Chris Ridgeway vs. Danny Black
Ridgeway’s already gotten a singles win over Danny at Chapter 109 (back in April), and I don’t really see this being the time for Danny to start building up wins…

Black cheapshots Ridgeway before the introductions, but just gets himself a couple of PKs as the match nearly ended in seconds. Ridgeway kicks Black out of the ring as he tried to break the count, before a suplex led into a crossface as Danny was struggling to get into gear. Dragon screws keep Danny down as Ridgeway set up a Deathlock’d STF by the ropes, before Ridgeway tied up Black a different way, with the sorta-Calf Slicer ending in the ropes. Forearms from above have Black down, while another crossface was briefly rolled out of… Black thought he’d gotten in it, finally hitting an enziguiri, then a shotgun dropkick, before the Koppo kick caught Ridgeway out for a near-fall.

Ridgeway’s quickly back with a knee strike, then a brainbuster for a near-fall, before a grounded chicken wing ends with them rolling into the ropes. I’m seeing a lot of Zack Sabre Jr. in this, not just the “rolling holds into the ropes” stuff. Black hit back with almost a Lightning Spiral, taking Ridgeway outside for a tope stunner, before a second springboard stunner back inside drew a near-fall. Black ends up getting caught in a waistlock by Ridgeway, elbowing free before he ate a headbutt as a PK looked to draw a three-count, but Black got a shoulder up in time. Palm strikes keep Danny down, as did a gut shot, then a knee lift, before more PKs get the win. “How much is too much” certainly is a question for a match that was an elongated squash, as poor Danny took a beating here. ***

Malik vs. Keinen Krishna
Malik’s back for the first time since August, while Keinen’s looking for his first win in PROGRESS.

Malik swings for Krishna early, taking him down with a dropkick for a two-count, before a series of uppercuts had Keinen in the ropes. A knee to the gut winds Krishna, who replies with a springboard forearm before elbows in the corner lead to an uppercut and a DDT. Keinen can’t follow up as Malik struck back, landing a running knee for the win. This was pretty much what the prior match should have been in terms of length – very squashy. **½

After the match, Kosta Konstantinou grabs the mic and berated PROGRESS for not giving Malik competition… then called out the “little golden boy” Danny Black. I mean, if you want low hanging fruit to boost a win-loss record, why not?

We come back with Charles Crowley throwing a hissy fit at Hustle Malone for… reasons.

Sunshine Machine (Chuck Mambo & TK Cooper) vs. The 87 (Roy Johnson & Warren Banks)
This was Roy’s first match in PROGRESS since Chapter 100 – pre-pandemic times.

Banks and TK start, with Cooper getting mauled into the corner to start, but Mambo’s running Stun Gun and a TK moonsault turned things around as some double-teaming looked to isolate Banks. Warren rolls through and tags in Johnson, who clears house, leading to a flapjack on TK before Mambo ate one too. Corner-to-corner clotheslines from Johnson lead to a Flatliner on TK, before Mambo returned with a double missile dropkick as he tried to turn the tide. Mambo boots Johnson off the apron as I’ve lost track of who’s legal here. I’m guessing it’s Mambo as his dropkick through the ropes washed Banks’ face then hit Johnson, before an elbow drop/reverse DDT combo nearly gets the win.

Mambo’s back with a frog splash for a near-fall on Banks, before a quick turnaround sees Johnson hit a knee-assisted Last Set on Mambo for a near-fall. TK breaks up the pin, then cracks Banks with a headbutt… Johnson tries one too, but to no avail, as he eats headbutts before the Designated Driver puts away Big Wavy. A surprisingly short return and defeat for Johnson, who looked good despite the result. **¾

Post-match, Banks watched on in confusion as TK and Mambo helped up Johnson, before scowling as Roy danced along with the victors. I’m guessing those two will be a thing to keep Warren away from the title picture as he’s only lost once thus far…

Raven Creed vs. Taonga
We’ve a jump start as Taonga attacks Creed through the entrance way, but Creed took over in the ring, headbutting Taonga to the outside.

Creed follows her there, grinding her head into the ring post before missing a kick. Back inside, a Flatliner took Creed into the buckles, before she was stomped back there for a near-fall. An Irish whip into the corner gets Taonga another two-count, as did some wild kicks there…

Commentary spending their time talking up possible dissension as Mercedez Blaze wasn’t out with Taonga, but it wasn’t like it was needed as a facebuster gets Taonga a two-count. A clothesline followed for Taonga, before a Busaiku knee out of nowhere cracked Taonga. Creed builds up with clotheslines and elbows ahead of a double stomp to the back, as a spinebuster then nearly ended it. Taonga tries to get back with the I’m Prettier, but Creed headbutts free, only to eat a suplex and a diving kick for a near-fall. A Cattle Mutilation from Taonga’s next, but Creed floats back over for a near-fall… Taonga reapplies the hold, but again Creed gets free as she backed into the ropes. Taonga gets frustrated as Creed sidesteps a diving kick, then hit the Hellmouth (Air Raid Crash) for the win. A good showing from Taonga, but the wrong result here. ***

Elijah vs. Dan Moloney
So, rather than book his man in a title match, on the show he had control of, Charles Crowley gave Elijah Dan Moloney? Yep, that works out… although I did chuckle at the ultra-dismissive introduction for Dan.

Crowley’s playing cheerleader and interfering like he usually does in Elijah’s matches, getting booted off the apron as Elijah powered ahead, slamming Moloney for two-counts. Commentary noted how Elijah usually “loses before he wins,” just before Dan struck back with a dropkick to close the distance. A German suplex from Elijah looks to put him ahead, before he crucifixed his way out of a ripcord lariat as Moloney tried to stay in the game. Dan’s spear nearly wins it out of nowhere, as did a roll-up, before a diving boot and a Drilla put Elijah away. A lot of short matches tonight, and I guess we’ll have a rematch already booked for next time? **¾

Crowley doesn’t announce the winner, but instead tries to calm down Elijah… who’s had enough of his ways and shut him up. He faked out a kick on Crowley, before dropping the bombshell – next show out, Elijah’s facing Crowley so he can “let off some steam.”

PROGRESS Revelations Of Divine Love Semi-Final: Alexxis Falcon vs. Mercedez Blaze
Taonga’s out with Mercedez Blaze, so I’m sure we’re getting the dissension seeds at some point. These two have had a bit of history in PROGRESS, with Blaze winning all three prior singles matches.

Falcon’s hesitation dropkick has Blaze in the corner, ahead of the Curt Hennig-esque neck whip for a near-fall. In return, Blaze took it to the apron as an arm whip dumps Falcon on the edge of the ring, before she threw Falcon into the wall. Back in the ring, Falcon elbows out of a side headlock, only to get met with a swinging neckbreaker for a near-fall. A boot choke keeps Falcon in the corner, before running double knees nearly ended it… Blaze’s Dragon sleeper, then a regular sleeper, keeps Falcon in trouble, before she fought back with forearms and a clothesline. Falcon’s head kick and running neckbreaker gets a near-fall, before a shotgun dropkick puts Blaze right back in it, with a swinging Fisherman neckbreaker getting her a near-fall too.

Falcon avoids running into Blaze’s rear end and hits a neckbreaker out of the corner, before the Sleeping Beauty splits legdrop drew another two-count… Falcon looks for the Falcon’s Fury, but it’s pushed away, so she hits a German suplex instead as Blaze keeps kicking out, eventually returning with a spear off the middle rope that gets her close. The pair trade forearms, then slaps before a head kick dumped Blaze… but Taonga’s on the apron to distract the referee, and prevent a pin from even being attempted. Problem was, Falcon fell for the distraction as Blaze rolled outside for a chair… but Lana Austin comes in to make the save, only to attack Falcon with it anyway as the ref didn’t hear any of the chair clattering and counted the pin. Falcon can’t buy a win against Blaze, and now has new fish to fry coming out of this. ***¼

Post-match, Austin pulls Falcon in with a draping DDT as they hit her music quickly… Mercedez Blaze will face Rhio or Skye Smitson in the final.

PROGRESS World Championship: Nick Riley vs. Cara Noir (c)
On the last show, Nick Riley challenged Cara Noir. Seems like he’s a man with a plan…

We’ve a slow start, but things quickly burst into life with superkicks before Riley blocked a slingshot into the corner… then backflipped into an onrushing Cara Noir, which created an ugly landing. Cara rolls outside, but Riley just misses a dive as Cara put the boots to him, before a mounted sleeper ended with Riley just running the champion into the ring post. Both men make it back into the ring, but it’s Cara Noir who’s diving back in with kicks before a neckbreaker looked to be countered out of… with Riley finally hitting a neckbreaker of his own. Kicks leave Cara laying, but he powered up and cracked Riley with a dropkick after eating some windmilling punches, before an ushigoroshi dropped Riley again. A double underhook powerbomb nearly nicks it for Riley, but a suplex back into the ring’s blocked by Cara, who trapped himself in the ropes before Cara Noir went in… went for a dropkick through the ropes and snapped his head back against the top rope on the way out.

Riley eventually looks to capitalise, looking for another deadlift superplex, only for Cara to change it into an avalanche German suplex instead that somehow Riley kicked out of. From there, Cara bites Riley, who returned with a Ranhei, then a standing Spanish Fly for a near-fall, before he dragged Cara Noir into the corner for a moonsault… but he lands on his feet, only to eat a shotgun dropkick. A legsweep has Cara down again, but this time he kicks away the moonsault before a package piledriver’s flipped out of. Riley tries to push back, but the Madame Guillotine nearly shuts the door on his singles title aspirations, before an attempt to leap into a sleeperhold ends with Cara Noir getting lawn-darted instead.

Riley returns with a spinning heel kick, but runs into the rear naked choke as Cara Noir escaped with the win. A good title match, except for the fact that you couldn’t really see Riley winning the title – an issue PROGRESS has had with viable challengers in the empty arena era, unfortunately. ***½

Gisele Shaw’s out next for a promo, talking about how PROGRESS has “always been against her,” citing how she had to fight for the number one contendership she’d won before the pandemic. She’s interrupted by a debuting Debbie Keitel, who wasn’t here with coffee. Keitel baits Shaw, saying “it took a global pandemic to wipe out the scene for you to become champion,” and we have a challenge thrown out… which Shaw declined. Until Keitel baited her again by saying “Kanji would do it.” Shaw agrees eventually, but only for a non-title match.

Gene Munny vs. LK Mezinger vs. Big Guns Joe vs. Ethan Allen vs. Man Like Dereiss vs. Kid Lykos II
The winner of this gets a shot at Cara Noir, and that’s quite the motley crew of folks who have very shaky records around these parts.

Dereiss got jumped in the entranceway by Lykos II, and giving this one to Chris Hatch to referee feels like a very nasty rib. Everyone spills outside as STUFF HAPPENS, leading to a springboard moonsault from Munny into the aisle. Back inside, Munny and Joe work together like the tag team they were(?), focusing on LK Mezinger before the big ol’ revolving door of bodies kicked in.

Lykos II hits a moonsault out of the corner before Dereiss clocked him with a microphone… Ethan Allen’s in to roll up Dereiss out of a Kitchen sink knee, before a backslide drew a two-count. Dereiss is out, Joe’s in to hit a stalling suplex on Allen, then on Lykos II, before Joe leapt off the middle buckle, aiming for Allen, only to wipe out Mezinger instead. LK’s quickly back with a Dragon suplex, then a side slam before Lykos II caught him with an enziguiri. There’s way too much stuff going on here to keep going, with moves, pin break ups and the like, an endless Parade of Moves, ending with Munny blocking a Lo Mein Pain… only to powerbomb Lykos II out of the corner.

Munny and Joe are left standing and posing, before Joe and Allen begin to trade forearms. Joe’s overhead suplex throws Allen into the corner, before he went from corner-to-corner, blasting folks with uppercuts for fun. Joe nearly puts away Lykos II, before an Ainsley Lariat from Munny turned into a Cactus Clothesline that took care of Dereiss.

Dereiss is back in though, sidestepping Joe in the corner ahead of a 4-Fiddy splash that misses, sparking another Parade of Moves. A slingshot spear from Munny lands on Lykos II, who’s flipped with a pumphandle overhead suplex for a near-fall, before Gene got punted low to block an Ainsley Lariat. Lykos II can’t win with a roll-up, and eats a pop-up knee to the back of the head, before Ainsley Lariat dumped the wolf for the win. This was wild and all over the place – maybe not all in the good sense, either. Not strictly my cup of tea, but had this been in front of crowds, this’d have gotten a good reaction, and not just got Gene winning. ***

Speaking of Gene and crowds, he threw a chair into the ring and cuts a promo to close out the show. He talked about how this was “meant to be the greatest moment of his career,” yet it’s front of nobody. Oh, and because he’s fed up with Cara Noir “measuring d*cks with Chris Ridgeway”. In my head, the censored Network feed immediately had me thinking of ducks. Waterfowl. Gene warns Cara that if he underestimated him, he’ll make him pay… and then it was talk of the crowds that had Gene almost in tears, reminiscing over how the fans got him in the company. A pretty damn good promo for a match that, for whatever reason, is sadly likely to fly under the radars.

PROGRESS’s next show is Chapter 126: Behold The Turtle… with no idea given on an air date for that. With a month between the last two shows, there’s some fresh speculation that we may be coming to the end of the empty-arena PROGRESS days – particularly if that suggestion that this show is two and a half months old is true. Given that the story before the shutdown was “Gene for Super Strong Style 16,” it sure would be a nice full circle to have had that match in front of a crowd, but we’ll see what the plans may be.