PROGRESS made their return to Manchester for a title-laden show, featuring Dean Allmark and Rhio challenging in the main events.

 Quick Results
Nick Riley & Charlie Sterling pinned Kid Lykos II & Kid Lykos in 11:19 to retain the PROGRESS Tag Team Championship (***½)
Big Guns Joe submitted Scott Oberman in 9:37 (**¾)
Alexxis Falcon pinned Lana Austin in 9:00 (**¾)
No Disqualification: Spike Trivet defeated Luke Jacobs via referee stoppage in 17:51 (***½)
Pure Rules: Jonathan Gresham defeated Chris Ridgeway in 20:34 to retain the ROH World Championship – match did not air on the WWE Network/Peacock version
Cara Noir pinned Dean Allmark in 15:46 to retain the PROGRESS World Championship (***½)
Gisele Shaw submitted Rhio in 12:55 to retain the PROGRESS Women’s Championship (***¼)

For the first time since October 2019, PROGRESS returned to the O2 in Manchester – back then, they had the second chapter of the Cara Noir vs. Ilja Dragunov feud… a lot’s changed since then, for obvious reasons…

Hustle Malone and Olie Spring are on commentary from the balcony in the Ritz… while we’ve got some faces on loan from NXT UK in the black and white stripes tonight.

PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: Lykos Gym (Kid Lykos & Kid Lykos II) vs. The Smokin’ Aces (Charlie Sterling & Nick Riley) (c)
Hustle’s trying to justify the Lykii stealing the tag titles last time out… and there’s a smattering of boos for Riley and Sterling in Manchester.

We’ve a jump start as the match spilled outside before the bell, with Sterling walking Lykos II around ahead of a slam on the floor. A suplex followed, as did some chops, before the wolves went under the ring for some powder… but the Aces have goggles on, and for once, they did something. Dualling topes keep the before-the-bell stuff going, as Riley’s sliding lariat took Lykos II out of the chairs as ring crew were sweeping the ring. Sterling and Lykos go up to the balcony and tease throwing each other off it, as we’re having mobile phone footage in lieu of a cameraman up there. Cooler heads prevailed, I guess, as Lykos II ends up hitting an Orihara moonsault off the buckles to Riley.

The Lykoses double-team Sterling, who gets posted, before they hit the ring as the match finally got going. To many cheers. Lykos II grabs a chinlock on Riley, before he telegraphed the heck out of a brainbuster, and you know what that means… it’s countered with a Dick Dastardly from Riley (a double underhook version of the Ranhei). Sterling gets the hot tag in and runs roughshod, hitting a press slam and a standing moonsault, then a springboard moonsault to Lykos II for a two-count. Lykos II’s lofted to the skies for a double-team lumbar check, before a quebrada from Lykos I was turned into a Canadian backbreaker by Sterling.

The Lykii turn it around though, with the reigning tag champions having to break up pins before a Code Red and a facebuster led to a Total Elimination from the Lykii for a near-fall. Riley’s posted as Sterling gets isolated, leading to a Lo Mein Pain, some knees and kicks that nearly wins it, before Sterling found his way back in with a double ‘rana. A tope con giro from Sterling wiped out the Lykii as they tried to leave with the titles. The ring crew separate a fight but it’s feeling a little awkward… as Nick Riley appeared back on the balcony and hit a somersault dive into the pile underneath. They head back to the ring as Lykos II found himself isolated, leading to a Tiger Driver from Riley for a near-fall, before Lykos’ superplex wiped out the champions for a near-fall.

A brainbuster from Lykos I dropped Riley, who then took the flip stunner off the top as Lykos II came close to the win… out comes a chair as Lykos I argues with the ref… Tom Scarborough retrieves the chair, but the baking tray’s used… Riley ducks it as Sterling throws powder at the wolves, then hit a backbreaker on the apron to Lykos I… before a superkick-aided tombstone and a Smokin’ Ace Crusher got the win. Including the pre-match stuff, this was pretty good – the balcony dive is definitely going to be a Marmite thing, especially given the presentation of it, but as a package, this was a good way to solidify the champions. ***½

Backstage, Riley and Sterling issued an open challenge for a title shot… and then back in the arena, we’ve a particularly angry fan flipping the bird because the Lykii lost.

Scott Oberman vs. Big Guns Joe
It’s a PROGRESS debut for Oberman, while Joe’s making his in-front-of-a-crowd debut…

Oberman has Joe by the ropes early on, but a shoulder tackle has Oberman down ahead of a Boston crab attempt that quickly ended in the ropes. A suplex ends with Joe getting hung in the ropes, then stun gun’d to the floor, but Joe’s quickly back to the crab as Oberman kicks his way free. A throat thrust decks Joe, who’s also pulled into the ropes as his arm got kicked. Oberman followed with a leaping neckbreaker for a two-count, before Joe countered a suplex with one of his own. A Capture suplex from Joe sends Oberman down, as did a Fireman’s carry pancake, before he tossed Scott in a gutwrench ahead of the suplex.

Joe’s caught with a Codebreaker and a lifting Cross Rhodes for a near-fall, before a lifting Pedigree nearly won it… a grounded chinbar ends in the ropes as Joe resumes with forearm shots, but a lariat drops him before Oberman headed up top. He’s caught by Joe though, who brought him down with an overhead belly-to-belly, before a pop-up powerbomb and a Boston crab got the win. A decent match, if not cold because of both guys being unfamiliar to PROGRESS live crowds, but Oberman looked good in defeat here as Joe could well become a cult figure (if handled well here). **¾

Lana Austin vs. Alexxis Falcon
This one was set up on the last empty set shows, when Austin cracked a chair over Falcon… unfortunately not everyone cottoned on to her treacherous ways and were looking for high fives.

There’s some mic work before the match, with Austin’s bragging being replied to by Falcon telling her she lost in the first round of the Revelations tournament… and got slapped for it. When we officially got going, a bulldog and a shotgun dropkick had Austin on the back foot, before Lana replied with a forearm smash. A suplex took Austin outside as Falcon put her into the front row for a kick, before Lana chucked Falcon into the crowd. Back inside, a suplex into the buckles keeps Falcon on the back foot, as did another, before she kept Falcon in the corner with some kicks.

Falcon fought back with a back elbow and a clothesline, but Austin stays on top as she roughed up Falcon with a camel clutch, but Alexxis got free with a backpack stunner. A German suplex out of the corner followed, then another, before a flip neckbreaker rolled Austin down for a two-count. Austin gets back in with a clothesline to stop Falcon from running away with it, before she caught Falcon in the turnbuckles with a Codebreaker for a near-fall. A back cracker from Falcon turned it back around though, then a TKO, before catching Austin with a hanging Falcon’s Fury got Falcon her revenge. A good match for the time, as Falcon looked to put herself back in the discussion for a title shot. **¾

After the match, Austin headbutted Falcon… then pulled out a chair as she hits a hanging DDT onto it. So this feud shall continue as referees Scott Bell and NXT UK’s Olympe Margaux came out to clear things up.

No Disqualification: Spike Trivet vs. Luke Jacobs
Another one set up on the empty-set shows – but Spike hadn’t been around since September, so we’ve got a video package for this beforehand, reminding us that Spike lost to Jacobs last time out after he punted him in the balls.

Spike’s got a new classical theme, and a felt bag, which usually means one thing. A shotgun dropkick and a face-washing boot gets Jacobs going, as did a Biel as he roughed up Trivet from the off. Trivet is clotheslined to the outside, where he pulls out some chairs, but he missed a chairshot as Jacobs swings in with chops instead before Spike went to the eyes and nose.

Jacobs chases Spike away with a chairshot attempt, before Spike just threw a chair at him on the outside as he looked to take back control. Except Jacobs levelled (up) Trivet with a slam on the floor before returning the chairshots. There’s more plunder under the ring as out comes a table, before Spike caught a boot on the floor and proceeded to hit a death valley driver into the crowd. Back inside, Spike hits a cross-legged Falcon arrow for a near-fall, before he began to have fun whipping Jacobs with a belt. Jacobs rolled Trivet away, but has a superkick belted away with a whip to the leg. OW. The buckle’s used to try and bloody up Luke, who’s then choked with the strap before his attempts to chop free were stopped with a chair shield.

Trivet hits a Con-Chair-To to Jacob’s arm, then used the buckle to Jacobs’ hand, before he torqued Jacobs’ fingers in a turnbuckle iron. Jacobs fights back, but a chop hurts him as much as it did Trivet, but Spike has a chair lobbed at him on the top rope as Jacobs ends up pulling off a superplex. Jacobs heads back outside so he could retrieve Spike’s belt (and whip him with it) ahead of a powerbomb for a near-fall… before a lariat landed for another two-count. Setting up a table, Jacobs chops Trivet into the corner as he looked for a superplex… only for Spike to bite his way free and hit a sunset flip powerbomb through the wood for a near-fall.

Spike heads back outside and finds a second table, setting it up as he and Jacobs trade strikes from the apron… before Luke teases a German suplex off the apron. A low blow stops it, but Luke returns the favour before he hit a piledriver off the apron through the table. Jacobs stops Spike from going for that bag as they returned to the ring, and inside it was… a bottle of orange juice and some drawing pins? Because current reference! Jacobs gives Trivet a drink, but ends up having his fingers snapped ahead of an Exploder into the drawing pins… Spike sprays the citrus drink at the pin-covered back, then finished off Jacobs with the Birth Right… it gets a near-fall, so Trivet ties up Jacobs in the Ascot submission as referee Chris Sharpe waves it off. They made good use of the plunder here, and after many months off, this was a big scalp for Spike to get – whether that leads to anything… who knows. ***½

The “upcoming shows” slide includes a previously-unannounced Chapter 133 show on April 18 – completing an Easter Sunday/Monday double-header – but omits the “Everything Patterned” and “Who Run The World?” shows announced this past week… and somehow messes up the date of that 10th anniversary show as well. March 25, if you’re wondering, tickets on sale now and all that.

Pure Rules for ROH World Championship: Jonathan Gresham (c) vs. Chris Ridgeway
This one didn’t make it to the WWE Network version – and I guess that’s continuing the precedent. Much like the Anthony Ogogo match from January, this one’s only available on the Demand PROGRESS VOD platform, but for some reason is only advertised as a bonus match there. I mean, I understand why, but at least advertise it as such on your social media (even if the website, at time of writing, doesn’t even acknowledge the show even happening!)

Personally, if the shows are being uploaded at (roughly) the same time, I’m not paying extra for Demand PROGRESS “just” to get another match on them. I’d be saying exactly the same for wXw (or Rev Pro if they went up on New Japan World), before any weird tribalism comes into the argument. So, we pick up with a video package for the PROGRESS title match, with Dean Allmark looking to get revenge on his one loss so far in PROGRESS… then with some cross-fading to get around that last match.

PROGRESS World Championship: Dean Allmark vs. Cara Noir (c)
Allmark’s only loss in PROGRESS was to Cara on Chapter 119…

The crowd was split for this one, as we start with Cara taking things to the corner before he bridged Allmark down in a knuckle lock. Allmark returns the favour, forcing Cara to bridge free before it was countered out of. Headscissors on the mat from Allmark give him a chance to do some push ups, before monkey flips were exchanged. Hitting the ropes, Cara tries for a dropkick, but Allmark grabbed it… then got sent outside ahead of a tope into the crowd. Back inside, a deathlock from Allmark and a grounded abdominal stretch saw the challenger pose new questions. Bodyscissors roll around for pinning attempts before uppercuts keep Cara on the deck.

A double clothesline sent both men down, as they then resumed with an exchange of elbows. Cara’s kicks see him pull ahead, but Allmark lands on his feet from a monkey flip, only to get shot into the corner with a dropkick. Allmark headstands on the turnbuckle and avoids a second dropkick as he then hit Cara with a double stomp in the corner for a near-fall. Allmark gets out of a package piledriver and hits a clothesline… then a Ruby Cutter for a near-fall, before headscissors, a German suplex and a superkick put Cara right back in it. A Rude Awakening nearly wins it, before Allmark hit almost an Angle slam to counter out of a sleeperhold. Palm strikes to the head of a grounded Cara end with a Capeoira kick from the champion, then a Madame Guillotine, before he leapt off the middle rope to pull down Allmark with a sleeperhold.

A backpack stunner breaks it up, as Allmark then looked for a powerbomb… but Cara lifts up… he’s rolled through though for a near-fall, before he cracked Allmark with a headbutt. The package piledriver followed, and that’s enough to get the win. This was nice and even, but the underlying issue remains – nobody’s being built up as potential challengers as we’re dealing with the “challenger of the month” formula. ***½

The lights go out after Cara’s win… and come back up with… Ilja Dragunov in the ring. Ah, so this crowd can make a noise! Dragunov’s got the NXT UK title over his shoulder as the pair stare down. Ilja “needs to come back… for you,” which some will take a certain way… and yes, we’re going back to that feud.

We get a video package recapping Gisele Shaw’s run to the PROGRESS Women’s title – and how she felt disrespected by the whole Revelations tournament… which was won by Rhio, beating Mercedez Blaze in the finals in Camden a few weeks earlier.

PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Rhio vs. Gisele Shaw (c)
Shaw’s recently debuted for Impact, so you had more than a handful of people predicting a title change here…

Rhio was accompanied by Ethan Allen and Chris Ridgeway as North West Strong was in her corner. Of course, she was the favourite in Manchester, as we had a start with Shaw working a wristlock that Rhio rolled free of. Shaw tried for a head kick, but had more luck with an armdrag as the pace quickened, leading to trips and a stand-off. A step-up knee in the corner from Rhio, then a low dropkick lands for just a one-count, before shoulder charges took Shaw to the corner. Rhio floats over Shaw’s attempted return, before Shaw threw her throat-first into the ropes. Eventually Rhio fought back with forearms before the pair exchanged slaps.

Shaw takes Rhio back to the ropes, but runs into a Fireman’s carry as Shaw needed to elbow free… we wash, rinse, and repeat, with this time a knee to Rhio in the ropes getting a two-count. A clothesline from Rhio misses as she finds a way through with a spinning heel kick, before the pair exchange elbows once more. Rhio’s superkick stuns Shaw ahead of a pumphandle bomb for a near-fall, while an ushigoroshi gets her a little closer. A snap suplex from Shaw gets a her back in it though, as did a spear, but it’s not quite enough to get the win as Shaw then rolled Rhio in for a Fujiwara armbar, but Rhio rolled through for a pinning attempt. Another knee from Shaw allows her to reapply the armbar, while using Rhio’s own braids to try and choke her out in the hold… before rolling her into the middle of ring to force the stoppage. This was fine, but the crowd didn’t seem to buy into the match that much, which really makes or breaks things when watching on-demand. ***¼

Post-match, Shaw gets the mic and mocked the crowd for thinking she’d lose… before claiming there was nobody left. Of course, music hits as Kanji made her return from injury to dispute the claim. Kanji never lost the PROGRESS Women’s title, and called Shaw her “stand-in,” as we’re now heading towards a match with those two for the title…

Weirdly for the first show in Manchester in years, this felt a little flat, with a muted crowd for long spells. If you watch the WWE Network version, you’ll be missing one of the more hyped matches from the card – and with Gresham being used regularly in PROGRESS it seems that he’ll not be making it to the Network/Peacock feeds anytime soon. Announced in advance and marketed as such, it would certainly be a way to sell tickets or Demand PROGRESS subscriptions for those fans who are only watching this on the Network – if that was the direction they wanted to go…