Cara Noir’s PROGRESS title and Jonathan Gresham’s ROH title were both up for grabs as the pair clashed in Camden.
Luke Jacobs & Chris Ridgeway pinned Charles Crowley & ELIJAH in 12:50 (***)
Gene Munny pinned Adam Maxted in 7:40 (**¾)
Mercedez Blaze & Taonga pinned Holidead & Trish Adora in 7:02 (**½)
Warren Banks, Malik, Kid Lykos & Kid Lykos II pinned Callum Newman, Danny Black, Joe Lando & Maverick Mayhew in 12:50 (***¼)
Rhio pinned Lizzy Evo in 7:14 (***)
Charlie Sterling & Nick Riley pinned Man Like DeReiss & Dan Moloney in 10:51 to retain the PROGRESS Tag Team Championship (***¼)
Jonathan Gresham pinned Cara Noir in 19:02 to win the PROGRESS World Championship (***½)
We open with a vignette from Spike Trivet, telling us “I really am what you think I am,” as he showed us Cambridge as they painted him as a spoiled brat growing up… that’s pissed everything away. Spike knows he’ll never be what the crowd want, so his mission in wrestling now is to make everyone very sad…
After that, we hit the Electric Ballroom in Camden, with Hustle Malone and Olie Spring back on commentary. This was the start of a hectic week for PROGRESS, who ran four shows in six days – including their 10th anniversary jaunt…
Charles Crowley & ELIJAH vs. North West Strong (Chris Ridgeway & Luke Jacobs)
Crowley was fed up of North West Strong being called heavy hitters, saying that he’d hit them in an “emotional trauma kind of way…”
Jacobs and Crowley headed outside at the bell to have a scrap there, while ELIJAH and Ridgeway traded boots off the ropes. A shoulder tackle drops ELIJAH, but Ridgeway followed in on his drop down with… a side headlock. Luke Jacobs is in with a headlock takedown, then a powerslam as North West Strong looked to be taking control. An overhand chop from Jacobs stung ELIJAH, before a tag to Crowley led to… him instantly getting grounded with a headlock takedown. Some quick tags helped ELIJAH and Crowley corner Ridgeway, leading to a back body drop out of the corner. ELIJAH follows him outside for some strikes by the apron, before they picked up with more of the same back inside.
A missed kick from Ridgeway led to Crowley picking him up for a powerbomb, while ELIJAH threw a kick to the back on the way down for a near-fall. We’re back to ELIJAH and Ridgeway trading strikes, before Jacobs tagged in to clear house with German suplexes. He ragdolls ELIJAH with a spinebuster, before Crowley boxed his ears… then got German suplexed as a leaping stunner was countered. Crowley’s powerbombed for a near-fall, then met with an ankle lock as the rope break got kicked away. Jacobs powered on, rolling Crowley for a near-fall, before he went back to the ankle lock. ELIJAH tries to make the save, but Ridgeway caught him in an ankle lock too. Another rope break allowed Jacobs to crack Crowley with an enziguiri ahead of a back suplex/kick combo from North West Strong, before a PK nearly put Crowley away.
Ridgeway slaps away Crowley’s attempted fightback, but ELIJAH’s in to hit a Graveyard Smash on Ridgeway onto Crowley’s knees for a near-fall as things threatened to turn a little tornado-y… an Electric Chair drop and a back senton off the top almost won it for Crowley. ELIJAH tries a Danger Buster, but Jacobs clotheslines it away while Ridgeway punted ELIJAH in the face. A deadlift brainbuster’s next from Ridgeway, but it’s not enough. Ridgeway throws the limp ELIJAH for Crowley to tag in… he does, but gets pinged around with chops and kicks, as expected, before a kick-assisted tombstone from Jacobs for the win. A decent opener with North West Strong looking like killers here, building up to the tag title gauntlet on the anniversary show. ***
Backstage, Charles Crowley’s deaf in one ear as he again professed that ELIJAH would be a champion one day, before again talking up his plan that’s based around ELIJAH. Again.
From after the last chapter show, we’ve got Gene Munny nursing his head and talking about how he’s apparently the only one who’s having to fight his way into Super Strong Style 16… despite being on a winning run. They replay the springboard dropkick from Adam Maxted that did some damage, before Gene vowed to not be the punchline that Maxted used to make his name on.
Adam Maxted vs. Gene Munny
This was Maxted’s PROGRESS debut… and Munny jumped Maxted on his way to the ring.
The pair fight around ringside before the bell, leading to Munny hitting a back suplex onto the apron. Heading inside, the match officially starts with Maxted catching Munny with a dropkick, then an elbow drop as Maxted almost won this one inside a minute. A pumphandle slam’s escaped by Munny, whose slingshot spear was kicked away as we headed back outside, with Maxted setting up a chair and putting Gene in it ahead of a step-up dropkick to take Gene out of his seat. Back inside, a springboard dropkick misses as Munny returned with a diving kick, before he caught Maxted in the corner with a forearm.
A T-bone suplex’s next from Munny, then a spinebuster, before a scoop slam countered the Ainsley Lariat. Maxted pancakes Munny with a pumphandle facebuster for a near-fall, before the Ainsley Lariat out of nowhere nearly won it. Munny hauls up Maxted from there, but Maxted rolled to the apron… only to rake Gene’s eyes ahead of a Slingblade on to the edge of the ring. Maxted catches Munny with a springboard dropkick to the back of the head for a near-fall, before a Burning Hammer’s countered into the DDD DDT for the win. This felt a little flat at times in terms of the crowd, but Gene Munny picking off another target on the road to Super Strong Style 16 keeps his momentum going. **¾
Simon Miller’s slowly wearing more and more things from the merch table. Is this the equivalent of nicking staplers and Post It notes from the office?
Mercedez Blaze & Taonga vs. Holidead & Trish Adora
Last time out, Blaze and Taonga ran roughshod despite losing in the Thunderbastard…
Adora and Holidead were attacked from behind as we eschewed ring announcements, as Blaze ended up getting splashed in the corner ahead of a double-team suplex before the bell. We officially get going with Taonga and Holidead trading forearms to the chest, before Taonga went low on Holidead… only to get kneed by the ropes. A sidewalk slam from Holidead gets just a one-count on Taonga, who’s then dragged onto the apron for a guillotine legdrop. Back inside, Blaze trips Holidead as Taonga got back into it, leading to a hammerlock DDT from Blaze for a two-count. Taonga’s back for a facebuster that gets a two-count, as double-teaming on Holidead kept Blaze and Taonga ahead.
Forearms from Blaze eventually prompt Holidead to respond, landing a swinging Flatliner before tags bring us to Adora and Taonga. A big boot from Adora had Taonga rocked ahead of a delayed back suplex, which nearly won it, before Adora tried to roll through into a Cattle Mutilation. Taonga counters out and hits a knee strike for a two-count, before she held Adora for a Blaze dropkick. Blaze’s butterfly suplex threw Adora into the buckles for a near-fall, before Holidead tried for Darkness Falls. It’s escaped, but Holidead’s able to hit a spinebuster on Taonga… only to get caught with a Tower of Blaze as she was sent to the outside. Adora’s still legal though, and after nearly winning with a crucifix… ends up losing as Blaze rolled her up with a handful of tights. Pretty even stuff, but this one ended before it could really hit any higher gear. **½
After the last chapter, we’ve got footage of Danny Black being upset that Malik interrupted things after the last chapter… which led to this next match.
Danny Black, Callum Newman, Joe Lando & Maverick Mayhew vs. Lykos Gym (Kid Lykos & Kid Lykos II), Malik & Warren Banks
After being in a four-way on the last chapter, Danny Black and his mates are teaming up this time.
Lykos II and Mayhew start us off as we go to early submission attempts… a wristlock from Mayhew leads to him tying up Lykos II for a bow-and-arrow hold, but Lykos II floated out as the pace quickened, with headlock takedowns and headscissors leading to a stand-off. Tags bring in Newman and Lykos, with the pair hitting the ropes ahead of a high-speed dropkick from Newman. They dial it down for a bit, as Lykos II and Warren Banks attack from behind, leading to things spilling outside and into the crowd, while Lykos stayed in the ring. An eye rake stopped Black by the ropes, but he’s back with a tope into the pile… who catch him, unlike Joe Lando, whose shooting star press wiped them out.
Back inside, a Pele kick and a delayed Flatliner dropped Lykos I… Lykos II comes in for a ‘rana, while a blind tag from Danny Black led to him smashing Lykos II with a standing Spanish Fly. A Blackbuster’s next, as Mayhew tagged in… but a quadruple-team aimed for Lykos II ends up missing, unlike the triple-team swinging slingshot Codebreaker to Black as CPF (which apparently stands for Close Personal Friends, unless Callum Newman’s on a wind up!) busted out some impressive stuff. The ring stays full as Warren Banks cleared house, single-handedly wiping the floor with CPF. Lykos Gym return for some old CCK-isms, including the elevated Codebreaker and back senton, before a superkick-assisted Jig ‘n’ Tonic from Malik nearly ended things. The pace ratchets up again as there’s way too much going on for me to type out, as Malik’s discus lariat and Lykos II’s enziguiri led to a Howling on Lando.
Lykos and Black tag in to trade elbows and punches, with Lykos I pulling ahead… but an enziguiri helps Black back in, only for Lykos to land a Pele kick for a near-fall. The pace goes up again as Lando returned for a snap ‘rana, before Warren Banks’ Gut Check drew another near-fall. Newman’s for a hiptoss/knee strike, then a shooting star press for a near-fall. Don’t blink. I did, and came back around to Mayhew nearly killing Lykos II with an Awful Waffle, then Lykos I with an over-the-knee brainbuster.
Malik’s finally in to punch out Mayhew… but he’s not the legal man, so the referee doesn’t count the pin. Malik does tag in, but Danny Black breaks up the pin. We’re back to Newman and Banks, with the former hitting a nice springboard enziguiri before a springboard something or other was rudely interrupted with the Bullet Vehicle spear in mid air as Banks took home the win. My one criticism of this? This was too fast in parts – there were minutes of this match where moves weren’t given a chance to land, such was the pace. A spectacle sure, and one that warmed up Banks real good for his title match… but what happened with that beef with Malik? ***¼
PROGRESS’ upcoming dates… they’re running a LOT in the Electric Ballroom. Two tournament weekenders inside three months? Yep…
Rhio vs. Lizzy Evo
This was Evo’s Ballroom debut, flipping off the crowd as she went. She’s censored amid an F-bomb as the old Liverpool/car stereo chants returned. Evo whacks Rhio with the mic before the bell… and we get going with the pair going at it in the corner.
Forearms from Rhio get her out of the corner, but a butterfly suplex was fought out of, with Evo coming back with a clothesline instead. Another clothesline waffles Rhio by the ropes, as did a Kitchen Sink knee as Evo pulled ahead, taking Rhio into the ropes for some nonchalant choking. Rhio tries to fight back, clubbing Evo down to the mat, only to get taken into the corner as Evo cut her off. A Northern Lights suplex nearly got the win for Evo, before a headbutt from Evo led to Rhio fighting out of a German suplex. Rapid-fire back elbows got her free, but a kick and a German suplex quickly followed anyway, before a spear earned Evo a near-fall.
Pulling Rhio up by the dreadlocks, Evo takes things to the corners ahead of a Virgil Van Strike attempt… but Rhio avoided it and hit a squatting ushigoroshi instead. A spinning heel kick’s next from Rhio, then a butterfly suplex, before a neckbreaker nearly won it. Superkicks keep things Rhio’s way, ahead of a Magic Screw off the top rope… and that’s all folks. A good win for Rhio, who had a tough test here – but I think this may be it for Lizzy Evo here, having since appeared on NXT UK… ***
Vignette time as Trish Adora’s not too downbeat after her earlier loss. She’s got her Pan-Afrikan World Diaspora title, and is looking to defend it on her current trip…
PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: The 0121 (Dan Moloney & Man Like DeReiss) vs. The Smokin’ Aces (Charlie Sterling & Nick Riley) (c)
This was the 0121’s first match in front of a crowd for PROGRESS, and it’s a big test for them…
After a long staredown, we finally get going with Sterling and Moloney locking up into the corner, before Moloney slapped Sterling after the break. A dropkick has Sterling down, then Riley as he tried to make a save, while Sterling’s leapfrog gets turned into a slam as the challengers started out the brighter of the pair. DeReiss comes in to elbow Sterling down, before a blind tag brings in Riley to knock DeReiss down. Stomps follow, but DeReiss’ clothesline earns a one-count as the challengers got back in it.
Moloney gets the tag to help with a double suplex, but Sterling joins in as “the referees can’t handle tag matches” seems to be a running gag here. Riley takes over, lifting Moloney into a Tree of Woe as two low dropkicks sandwiched him by the buckles, before a backdrop suplex onto some knees led to a two-count. Chops between Sterling and Moloney end in an eye rake from Sterling, before a back bodied rop from Moloney got him free to make the tag out. DeReiss tries to clear house, whipping Sterling into the corner ahead of some corner-to-corner uppercuts and a monkey flip to send Sterling into Riley. A pop-up powerbomb nearly put Riley away, but Sterling and Riley combine to turn it around, as Riley wiped out Moloney on the outside before moonsaults splatted DeReiss for a near-fall. Moloney’s blind tag in helps him get things back on track, hiptossing Riley onto Sterling before a bicycle knee from Sterling stopped Dan in his tracks.
Sterling heads up top, but gets crotched by Moloney, who pulled Sterling into a Tree of Woe and gets revenge for earlier, before a Doomsday Blockbuster almost got the win. All four men stay in the ring as we descended into strikes, then dualling Destroyers and clotheslines as we all fall down. Things spill outside as Moloney took a tombstone apron from Riley… before DeReiss ends up falling to a wacky roll-through cutter, a powerbomb and a nice-looking assist piledriver. You know my feelings about tags that descend into tornados for the heck of it, but this was an enjoyable sprint as the tag champions now have to run the gauntlet on the anniversary show. ***¼
Promo time, we’re told that Malik’s got a non-title match with Jonathan Gresham… Kosta Konstantino is unhappy that the interview wasn’t cleared, but takes over the interview and reveals that “the Don is on,” saying that Malik’s match on Wednesday is going to be for the title. For Jonathan Gresham’s PROGRESS title. Hang on a second, that match is up next… you just inserted a spoiler here for no reason, particularly since this show’s dropped long after the Kosta/Gresham match actually happened.
Another promo followed for the Smoking Aces ahead of their tag title gauntlet defence… and now a vignette for the main event. Gee, I wonder who’s going to win…
PROGRESS World Championship x ROH World Championship: Jonathan Gresham (ROH) vs. Cara Noir (PROGRESS)
I actually signed up to Demand PROGRESS again since they didn’t upload this at the same time as it appeared on the Network… so it’s the first time I’m seeing Gresham in this role in a PROGRESS ring. They spent the week before building this up as “the biggest match in British independent wrestling history” (or words to that effect), which is a bit of a stretch. Like saying I could lose a pound or two… Warren Banks was brought out to do commentary for the main event, as he’s got the PROGRESS champion on the 10th Anniversary show later in the week.
The bell goes, but neither man charges out of the corner, instead taking in the duelling chants – and some “Ring of PROGRESS” chants as we fire into headlock takedowns and headscissor escapes. Cara worked a toe hold, but Gresham tries to bait him… and succeeded as he rolled up Cara for a flash two-count. A wristlock from Gresham’s spun out of, as Cara Noir’s attempt to work the arm saw some resistance. He eventually grabbed the wrist, but Gresham spun out and kicked out the knee as he proceeded to tie up Cara’s legs. A bow and arrow hold’s flipped out of, but Gresham’s right back in it with a hammerlock, which gets countered in kind as Cara looked to snap back on the ROH champion’s arm.
Gresham responds with an armdrag, before they fought over a knuckle lock, with Cara Noir winding him down to his knees. Getting free, Gresham rolled Cara Noir down, then went back to the wristlock before he slapped Cara’s arse as he snapped back on both arms. Keeping the wings pinned behind his back, Gresham grabbed a toe hold as well, before a Capeoira kick from Cara Noir got him free. The pair exchange chops in the corners, before Gresham popped up from a rebound German suplex… only to walk into a superkick for a near-fall. Gresham countered out of a Rude Awakening neckbreaker, scoring with a small package for a near-fall before the pair scrambled for waistlocks, ending with that Rude Awakening after all for a two-count for Cara. Commentary randomly mentions that the PROGRESS social media had uploaded a Spike Trivet promo video, which they played up a little too much…
Gresham snapped Cara’s arm between his legs before those waistlock reversals ended with Cara getting taken down for a Magistral. It gets a near-fall, as did another, before a Quebrada and a third Magistral bridged for another two-count. From the kick-out, Cara Noir applied a rear naked choke, but Gresham escaped and quickly went into the Octopus stretch after he kicked Cara’s arm a few times. The hold ends in the ropes, as the pair then traded forearm smashes, with Cara trying to get back into it. An over-the-knee powerbomb wrecks Gresham for a two-count, who’s then trapped in a cross-legged abdominal stretch as Spike Trivet popped up on the apron. Cara’s distracted by it, as Gresham scored with a Quebrada before he tope’d onto Trivet on the floor. Cara joins him, before a return to the ring ended with Gresham slipping on a springboard back in as a Skayde special nearly won it.
A pair of Swan Woo dropkicks from Cara Noir see him up the pace, while a third one took Gresham into the corner… ahead of a package piledriver, but Spike Trivet pulls out the referee to stop the count. Referee Oscar Harding ejects Spike from ringside, as we theme resume with back-and-forth pinning attempts. Cara jumps in with another crack of the Blackout sleeper, but Gresham rolled towards the ropes for the break, pulling up the apron as he tried to get away. Of course, the referee absolutely had to fix it then, meaning he missed Spike Trivet ‘s chair shot… as Gresham then punted Cara Noir in the balls before he won with a roll-up. Take out the interference – which I get they need to bridge to Cara’s next feud – and this was a pretty damn good match. Perhaps a little overhyped, but I think most of those there knew what the deal was. ***½
Apparently that video they uploaded during the match gave away Spike Trivet’s interference… we’ve a staredown between Gresham and Banks on the stage ahead of their upcoming match, before Cara Noir received a standing applause to mark the end of his two-year title reign.
After we fade to black, they play another Spike Trivet promo, where he says he’s got unfinished business with Cara Noir. “Do you remember me, Tom?” They go back to Cara dismissing Spike back in the empty set era, and this is Spike’s payback – showering PROGRESS with misery as by the end of 2022, “Cara Noir, Tom Dawkins, is as ugly as I am.”
I think we’re all long since tired of the comparisons to the “glory days” of PROGRESS. For the time being, this is what PROGRESS is – and with the number of shows they’ve got on the books, it’s going to be more important than ever to make the individual events stand out, no matter how they do it.