The former Shane Strickland made his return to PROGRESS, challenging for Cara Noir’s title in the latest chapter show.
Danny Black pinned Joe Lando, Callum Newman & Maverick Mayhew in 9:44 (***½)
Spike Trivet defeats Man Like DeReiss by referee stoppage in 9:26 (**¾)
Gene Munny defeats Brendan White in 11:18 (**¾)
TK Cooper & Chuck Mambo pinned Charles Crowley & ELIJAH and KEINEN KRISHNA & Luke Jacobs in 11:52 (***¼)
Pure Rules: Jonathan Gresham defeated Dean Allmark in 10:49 to retain the ROH World Championship – match did not air on the WWE Network/Peacock version
Thunderbastard: Kanji defeats Charlie Morgan, Lana Austin, Mercedez Blaze, Session Moth Martina, Skye Smitson & Taonga in 23:57 (**½)
Cara Noir pinned Sw3rve the Realest in 22:54 to retain the PROGRESS World Championship (***¾)
We’re back at the Electric Ballroom for PROGRESS’ second show in London since the restart. Commentary’s from the new tandem of Olie Spring and Mark Adams… as we open with a chant for Ralph Wiggum, because of the show title. Yup.
We’re interrupted by Malik and Kosta Konstantino before the opening match, as Konstantino took offence at how those in the opener were being called the “future of PROGRESS.” They talk about how Malik steals the show, but wasn’t on the card this month, with Danny Black instead being preferred… so they’re going to hang around for the match.
Danny Black vs. Joe Lando vs. Maverick Mayhew vs. Callum Newman
We had a debut and some returns here – Joe Lando was making his bow for PROGRESS, Newman was back almost three years from his previous pre-show outing, while Mayhew returned for his first PROGRESS outing since Wembley. Several lifetimes ago, in this scene…
Now, we’ve had this match recently on the British indies, with Wrestle Carnival having had this as their first ever match last August… after handshakes and hugs, the flippy goodness starts with a step-up springboard armdrag from Newman to Black and Mayhew, before Black ‘rana’d Newman into a spear on Mayhew. Mayhew slipped on the ropes as he went for springboard headscissors, following up with a ‘rana and a dropkick. Headscissors take Black outside as Newman returned to flip around for a roundhouse kick, then a dropkick to knock Mayhew off the apron. Black’s back and quickly sent outside as Newman hit the ropes for a wild tope con giro into the second row, before Joe Lando went up top for a shooting star press.
Mark Adams apparently was big into velcro in his late teens as Lando missed a second shooting star back inside, before opting to stomp through Mayhew. It’s really fast-paced, with nary any time to breathe between moves. A spike ‘rana from Lando planted Mayhew, while a rebound back kick and a swinging Flatliner from Newman left Lando laying. Danny Black manages to to score with a Ranhei for a near-fall, before Mayhew’s Meteora was broken up by a Lando lariat. All four trade elbows as they fought to their feet, leading to Black pulling ahead as he swung Lando to the mat… but his trip up top’s stopped as a springboard powerbomb from Newman spiked Lando out of the corner. Ow. Newman followed up with a kick to Black in the corner, only for a Meteora from Black to take them both down ahead of a springboard moonsault to Lando on the floor, just because.
Black heads outside again with a low-pe stunner to Mayhew on the floor, before a running one-man Spanish fly nearly put Newman away. Back inside, the weirdly low-frame rate hard came shows Lando catching Black on the top rope, having stepped up off of Newman ahead of a fallaway moonsault slam as we’re back to move move moves… a Made in Japan nearly nicks it for Newman. Newman’s Phoenix splash is aborted in mid-air as Mayhew tries to capitalise, but a superplex is stopped as an over-the-knee brainbuster instead landed back inside. Lando lurks as he broke up an Awful Waffle from Mayhew, while Black breaks up a pin on a Falcon arrow before a lifting reverse DDT to Lando finally ended things. I really enjoyed this opener, as they packed a lot in – perhaps too much depending on your wrestling tastes, but having an engaged crowd is always going to lift up these move fests. ***½
Post-match, Malik hit the ring and attacked Black, before Newman, Lando and Mayhew made the save…
They announce that Chris Ridgeway was off the show due to injury – KEINEN KRISHNA’s subbing for him later on.
Spike Trivet vs. Man Like DeReiss
How long is the “party/work event” stuff going to stay around? That joke’s been out of the news cycle for a while…
Opening with a lock-up, DeReiss takes Spike into the corner, only to get taken down as Trivet went to work on the arm, whipping it into the mat. DeReiss manages to get free and hit a clothesline to Spike, only for Spike to change his tactic and go to work on DeReiss’ left leg and knee.
A toe hold torques DeReiss some more, before Trivet whipped the leg around the middle rope for extra effect. Trivet’s teardrop suplex followed for a two-count, before DeReiss fought back with a suplex of his own. A back body drop out of the corner’s next as DeReiss continued to make inroads, following up with uppercuts, only for Spike to go back to the legs. Punches to the thigh and knee wear the knee out some more, but an enziguiri stopped a second Dragon screw attempt before Trivet countered a tornado DDT into a shinbreaker. A DDT followed from DeReiss for a near-fall, but his leg gives way on a powerbomb attempt, allowing Spike back in with a boot to the face.
Trivet tries to hit the Birthright as things break down into strikes, bloodying up Spike’s nose as things got more even. DeReiss finally hits that powerbomb, sitting down on it for a near-fall, before DeReiss headed up top looking for the 4-Fiddy splash. Trivet rolls away, then spun DeReiss down with a dropkick, leading to him “snapping” the nose, hitting a Birthright, and then forcing the stoppage with the Ascot. I do like how they’re rebuilding Spike much like how they were doing during the empty arena shows, although with just one title to go for in PROGRESS right now, I’m curious to the end game. **¾
Brendan White vs. Gene Munny
Hmm, this feels, erm, GOOD? Although, shockingly, they’ve not run that match in the Craufurd…
Opening with a tie-up, White and Munny work around the ropes and into the corner for a break. White doesn’t break cleanly, but Munny fought back with a crossbody out of the corner, before he tripped White ahead of a Claymore kick. White rolls outside and rips up one of Gene’s flags, before he snuck back inside… and got caught with a slingshot spear for a two-count. Forearms from Munny lead to White retaliating with a German suplex, before Munny booted him out of a corner, only to run into a backbreaker. It’s good for a two-count as White began to rip at Munny, following with a back senton for another two-count. Out of nowhere, Munny caught White with some Sliced Bread out of the corner, before a second Claymore kick took Brendan back into the corner.
Boots and a bulldog get Gene a near-fall, before he caught Brendan in the corner and powerbombed him down for another two-count. A clothesline from White took Munny outside for a tope, before Gene returned the favour… only for White to throw a crew member into harm’s way ahead of a snap suplex on the outside. Back inside, a pumphandle fallaway slam gets White a near-fall, before Gene forced his way back in with forearms, and an overhead kick… only for a springboard crossbody off the top to get swatted away. White’s springboard moonsault out of the corner looked to have gotten the job done, but White doesn’t go for the cover, and instead pulled Gene up for a ripcord Bossman slam, which gets another near-fall. A second ripcord’s countered into a spinebuster though, as Munny tees up for the Ainsley Lariat out of the corner… but he ends up getting chucked into the buckles as White began to sling suplexes… only for Gene to hit an Ainsley Lariat out of nowhere for the win. This was nice and even stuff, but we’re still firmly in the “establishing faces in front of live crowds” part of the arc, as the crowd took their time reacting to White. **¾
Post-match, Gene Munny celebrated, only to get nearly decapitated by a springboard dropkick by a hoodie’d Adam Maxted. That knocked Gene loopy, as Maxted got loud “who are ya” chants before he branded Gene as delusional for wanting to be in Super Strong Style 16. I think we’re keeping up with the “one mystery appearance per show” in new-PROGRESS, which is certainly a stick some are choosing to beat PROGRESS with.
Charles Crowley & ELIJAH vs. North West Strong (KEINEN KRISHNA & Luke Jacobs) vs. Sunshine Machine (Chuck Mambo & TK Cooper)
Ridgeway was ruled out of this one after injuring his ankle the night before – so KEINEN replaced him in this three-way tag…
KEINEN, ELIJAH and Mambo start us off as this was going under triple-threat, only-tag-your-partner rules. We’ve pin attempts and break ups early, before a Mambo splash broke a bridge as all six men ended up in the ring, so of course, things broke down for a while. They settled down as Crowley and ELIJAH looked to double-team Mambo, but Chuck’s able to tag out to TK, who scored with a back body drop. Luke Jacobs tags in and went to work on Crowley, as the North West Strong lads looked to dictate the pace for a spell. Crowley tries to hit back, but Jacobs just throws him to the outside so he could slam him on the floor. Back in the ring, KEINEN chops TK for just a one-count, then a suplex, before Jacobs continued the offence, chopping TK and stomping on Crowley as he tried to get back inside.
KEINAN’s back with a chinlock that TK fought free of, but Cooper couldn’t escape the clutches of North West Strong, at least until he countered a suplex to take down Luke. Mambo gets the tag in and went to work with palm strikes and chops, ahead of a ropewalk armdrag to Jacobs. TK’s back to help with a Combo Meal for a near-fall, before ELIJAH blind-tagged himself in on Crowley as those two combined well to hit a back senton on Cooper. Mambo’s back with a Reef Break to ELIJAH, while Jacobs snapped in a spinebuster to Mambo as we broke into a Parade of Moves. TK’s Flatliner on Jacobs earns him a kneeling powerbomb from Crowley, before Mambo’s dropkick cleared the way for him to hit a body press into the pile on the floor. ELIJAH heads up a stairway, but gets caught by Mambo who tries to suplex him… ELIJAH kicks him away then hits the dive off the mini balcony… only to be stopped by a flying headbutt in mid-air by TK.
Back inside, an ankle lock from Jacobs has TK in trouble, as those two begin to trade chops… TK takes him up top for a one-man Spanish Fly, but there’s no cover as everyone decides to go off the top rope to continue the Parade of Moves, ending with a lariat and a Graveyard Smash from ELIJAH… but TK’s Spiral Tap breaks it up. A belly-to-belly superplex from Jacobs to Crowley leads to a Jay Driller… but it’s not enough, nor was a kick-assisted tombstone, as Sunshine Machine and North West Strong began trading blows once again… until ELIJAH ran in to eat a pop-up Samoan drop. Crowley eats a superkick and headbutt as ELIJAH ended up taking the German Suplex Turbo Charged By The Power of Friendship, before Captain Midnight’s Revenge put away Crowley for the win. Enjoyable, but much like the opener, this was very much rapid-fire in terms of things going on – and at least on-demand, it felt tricky to keep up with, such was the presentation. ***¼
We’ve a pre-taped promo from Kanji as she tell us that despite everything, her spirit will always be where it needs to be as they look to be tagging her as the “five star girl.”
If you’re watching this on Demand PROGRESS, you’ll be seeing Jonathan Gresham vs. Dean Allmark next. On the WWE Network and Peacock, yet again Gresham’s been edited out, which is going to make something a little interesting in the near future…
Thunderbastard: Session Moth Martina vs. Charlie Morgan vs. Lana Austin vs. Skye Smitson vs. Kanji vs. Mercedez Blaze vs. Taonga
It’s the second time they’ve done an all-female Thunderbastard match – a format that’s since been lifted for NXT UK. The winner gets a shot at Gisele Shaw, but given that Kanji never lost the title, it’s a bit of a hard luck story that she’s having to compete in this in the first place.
Martina and Morgan start us off, with Martina shucking and jiving with Charlie before a sneak roll-up nearly got the first elimination. Morgan returns the favour, before the countdown brought in Lana Austin dressed as Alexxis Falcon… Martina snatches the red wig off of Lana, then rolled her up for an instant elimination. Alright then. We resume with Martina and Morgan in the corners, leading to a low kick from Charlie for a near-fall as Skye Smitson joined the fray. She instantly goes for Morgan, landing a dropkick before Martina came her way, only to take a knee in the corner before a running uppercut sent Morgan flying. The timer’s going again as Kanji entered the match, clearing house as she lariat’d the back of Skye’s head, then hit a 619 to Morgan, before a missile dropkick off the middle rope took Martina out.
Martina’s back with a Codebreaker as the ticker goes off again, this time for the arrival of 16 Ca… I mean Mercedez Blaze. Except Blaze slid into the ring and instantly was targeted by everyone. She scarpers as everyone else paired off, leading to Kanji kicking out of an inside cradle from Morgan, before a snap suplex nearly put away the former Ace of EVE. For one final time, the ticker goes off as Taonga entered the match as Blaze waited for her by the stage… and those two work together to clear the decks. A shotgun dropkick from Blaze takes Smitson into the corner, as did a butterfly suplex, while Taonga’s diving kick keeps Skye down. Superkicks from Morgan and a DDT takes out Taonga for the next elimination, before she bided her time and rolled up Blaze for another elimination.
Blaze and Taonga double-team Morgan after their elimination, taking her outside before throwing her into the crowd. They go after Martina next, throwing her into another part of the crowd, before punting Skye in the chest. A curb stomp on Skye followed in the crowd, before Kanji fought them off briefly… she’s overwhelmed as PROGRESS didn’t seem to have any security, so Kanji’s dragged up onto the stage and held for a knee strike. A DDT from Blaze followed as her and Taonga finally headed backstage.
We resume with Martina, Morgan and Smitson trading blows in the ring, as Kanji returned to the ring and hit a crossbody into the trio. Martina chucks Kanji outside, then cracked Smitson with a headbutt, before a corkscrew suplex led to a near-fall. A double-jump Seshbreaker’s swatted away by Skye, whose sleeper slam followed for the next elimination – with some boos from the Camden crowd. Morgan comes in and eats the same sleeper slam for the next elimination, as we’re down to Skye and Kanji… those two trade blows, with Kanji pulling ahead, as a Magistral Cradle rolled around the ring until Smitson nearly stole it with a counter. A Fisherman suplex nearly wins it for Smitson, as did an Air Raid Crash, but Kanji remains stubborn, and eventually rolled up Smitson to snatch the win.
As a match, this was trying to do too much – although with the “Who Runs The World” show next month, they were perhaps painted into a corner here. Lana Austin throwing away a possible title shot so she could take aim at Alexxis Falcon? I’m not a fan of wrestlers looking daft like that, but the Taonga/Blaze duo stuff was good, even if it felt like it dragged. **½
PROGRESS World Championship: Sw3rve the Realest vs. Cara Noir (c)
Sw3rve’s back in the Ballroom for the first time in five years – having lost to Mark Andrews then. He’s done a few PROGRESS shows in America before he signed to WWE of course…
The ring announcement that included the length of Cara Noir’s title reign drew a few boos, as perhaps the Camden crowd were willing for a title change here… Sw3rve shook hands to start as we had a tentative start, featuring Sw3rve tripping up Cara before an up kick turned into some headscissors on the champion. Cara crawls towards Sw3rve as he does the “mind games” going into a side headlock, which was pushed off ahead of a dropkick on Sw3rve. On the mat, Cara tied up Sw3rve in a cross-legged abdominal stretch, but it’s countered out with a roll-up for a two-count before Cara was lifted onto the apron. He pulls Sw3rve onto the floor, but gets pulled outside himself as Sw3rve went for a dive… only to miss as Cara hit a tope’d sleeperhold into the crowd.
Sw3rve gets free and hits a PK off the apron to Cara, then threw Cara into the walls, before they returned to the ring as a Sw3rve gutbuster drew a two-count. The pair struggle over a suplex, so Sw3rve clotheslines Cara in the ropes before a gourdbuster dropped Cara by the ropes again. A handful of hair helps Sw3rve throw Cara back across the knee, before a Capeoira kick from Cara took Sw3rve down… only for the challenger to recover and boot Cara onto the apron. Cara’s pulled back into the ring for a two-count, then got caught in a chinbar on the mat. It’s escaped as Sw3rve went for a roll-through Flatliner… but Cara escapes and hits a trio of shotgun dropkicks before a clothesline had the challenger down. An axe kick from Cara earned a shin kick and a step-up kick from Sw3rve, before a cutter left Cara down for a 450 splash.
Sw3rve rolled back up to hit a deadlift suplex for a near-fall, as we get dualling chants from the Ballroom crowd. A rebound German suplex has Sw3rve flying, as did a superkick and a Rude Awakening neckbreaker, which was good for a near-fall. Cara tries for a package piledriver, but Sw3rve clung on, forcing Cara to change tactic ahead of an avalanche package piledriver attempt… but Sw3rve headbutts free, only for his superplex to be countered into an over-the-knee powerbomb. UGH.
Somehow Sw3rve kicks out at two from that, but manages to return with a rolling Complete Shot, only for Cara to counter back with a dropkick. Another crack at the package piledriver sees Cara lifted onto the apron, where Sw3rve joined him for an apron death valley driver. They stay on the outside as Cara’s stomped off of a chair, before another stomp back inside nearly led to the title change. Sw3rve stays on Cara, snapping back the arm, forcing the champion onto the back foot as he swung at thin air in a vain attempt to get to his opponent… eventually finding a way through with a headbutt and a Madame Guillotine. It’s good for a near-fall, so Cara goes for a one-armed version of the Blackout sleeper, biting his own hand to try and tighten the grip… but Sw3rve ends up hauling himself into the corner for a break. Cara keeps hold, pulling him out of the corner, but the turnbuckle cover goes… so Sw3rve charged him into the exposed corner as the sleeper was reapplied.
Out of nowhere, a wheelbarrow roll-up nearly nicks it for Cara, as Sw3rve then went for a Magistral cradle… but Cara sits down on it and squeaks the win to retain the title. This was really good stuff, even if you’re clouded by the “no way is Sw3rve winning the title and going back to the states” deal. With a lot of his title run being behind closed doors, Cara’s starting to connect with the crowds as champion, even if there’s a vocal number of them seemingly wanting anyone else with the belt. ***¾
On the WWE/Peacock feed, the show stops here… so you’ll have missed Jonathan Gresham coming out to stare down Cara Noir afterwards as they build to a title vs. title match on the March show in Camden. Now, given that Gresham and/or the ROH title’s been cut out of everything so far, I’m assuming this isn’t going to see the light of day outside of Demand PROGRESS and copies floating around pirate sites – but it’d be really nice if they’d at least promote that before the show. Even if it sells out, they may even get some extra on-demand subscribers ahead of time…
While things at the top of the card do seem to have direction (even if it’s edited off of shows), I still have misgivings about these undercards which at best are still sewing seeds for things down the track. That’s not a bad thing, but it does leave the feeling that a lot of these are “just matches.” Through time it should get better, but you do get the sense that the new guard are finding their feet…