We take a look at the first half of the Atlas title tournament weekender, featuring three first-round matches in London… and one from Seattle.
PROGRESS Atlas Championship Tournament First Round: Warren Banks pinned Axel Tischer in 9:13 (***)
Laura di Matteo pinned Rhio in 8:59 (**¾)
Charlie Morgan & Jetta pinned Mercedez Blaze & Taonga in 8:09 (**¾)
Elimination Rules, PROGRESS Atlas Championship Tournament First Round: Rickey Shane Page defeated Will Kroos & Joe Hendry in 10:21 (**½)
PROGRESS Atlas Championship Tournament First Round: JONAH pinned Schaff in 13:51 (match was taped at DEFY 50 on February 26, 2022) – match did not air on the WWE Network version (***½)
Chris Ridgeway submitted Kid Lykos in 17:11 (**¾)
Skye Smitson and Alexxis Falcon ended in a double count-out in 8:54 (**¾)
PROGRESS Atlas Championship Tournament First Round: Luke Jacobs pinned Big Damo in 6:26 (**¾)
Man Like DeReiss & Dan Moloney pinned TK Cooper & Chuck Mambo in 15:05 to retain the PROGRESS Tag Team Championship (***)
We’re coming from… not the Electric Ballroom in Camden, as these shows got moved to the Dome in Tufnell Park as a result of low ticket sales. To their credit, they at least figured out to put some chairs on all four sides of the ring so you don’t have the obvious gap for the first half of the two-night tournament that’s reviving the Atlas championship. After some opening chat around Simon Miller’s broken hand and Noel Edmonds’ booking fee, we finally hit the road… with a trailer for the tournament that a) did not feature Schaff and b) advertised tickets for the event, despite this releasing two weeks after said show. Commentary comes from Olie Spring & Hustle Malone…
PROGRESS Atlas Championship Tournament First Round: Warren Banks vs. Axel Tischer
Last time we saw Banks in PROGRESS, he’d been screwed over by Lykos Gym at the 10th anniversary show. Now he’s on the road to another title. This was Tischer’s PROGRESS debut, having originally been scheduled for January, but had to miss out as a result of “the C-bomb.” That probably could have been phrased better…
Tischer refuses a handshake, as he started by working Banks’ arm, only to get caught in a wristlock. A hammerlock ends on the mat and in the ropes, but Banks returns quickly with a leaping leg lariat, only for a snapmare from Tischer to take Banks down as they remained even. An up-kick from Banks caught Tischer off-guard, as chops follow in the corner, before the Axeman returned with a neckbreaker. A grounded cobra clutch from Tischer’s fought out of, but Banks is ragdolled into a backbreaker for a two-count before a 12-6 elbow to the nose of Banks landed flush. Banks returns with a T-Bone suplex, as the pair then traded forearms and uppercuts. Pulling ahead, Banks keeps Tischer in the corner, before a Metre Burn knee and a Michinoku Driver nearly put Tischer away.
Banks goes for a suplex, but Tischer’s escape and big boot leads to more back-and-forth… until an enziguiri and a bridging German suplex nearly ended it. Banks returns the favour with a German suplex and some knee strikes, prompting Tischer to hit a Twister suplex in return. A clothesline keeps Banks down, as did a flying uppercut, before a brainbuster from Banks looked to lead to the Bullet Vehicle. A knee from Tischer counters the spear… but Banks strikes back, back body dropping away from a powerbomb attempt, before the SummerSlam 92 finish sees him sit down on a sunset flip attempt booked Banks his spot in the semis. ***
Banks will face either Big Damo or Luke Jacobs in the semis… and we get some words from him with SoCal Val afterwards. He’s looking to leave with the gold after tomorrow’s show…
We’ve a video package from the 10th anniversary show, featuring Spike Trivet brutalising Cara Noir and the ensuing threats. Back live, Spike Trivet interrupts Simon Miller’s stuff, and heads out to the ring with a bag of something. “I’ve been allocated six minutes for this segment,” he says as he threatens to drag this out for two years. The “do you remember me?” tagline gets a “who are ya?” chant as he pulled out the Cara Noir mirror mask, then dropped a C-bomb. No, not coronavirus. It’s not bleeped.
They play back how Spike stole the mask as Trivet called the act “treason.” After showing the chairshots, Trivet remarked how this was the only time Cara looked like he’s got “(muted) wings.” Wait, the F-word’s banned but the C-bomb isn’t? Interesting list… Trivet notes how nobody saved Cara Noir from the beating, and noted that he’d also be in that boat… but didn’t care about it. Trivet claimed Cara’s off on holiday, licking his wounds… before the lights went out. They come back up with Spike flipping us all off, as he vowed to bloody up Danny Black tomorrow, then finished off with the “you will remember me” slogan.
We cut to SoCal Val with Axel Tischer backstage… he notes that Banks is the favourite to win the tournament.
Laura Di Matteo vs. Rhio
Di Matteo won a shot at Gisele Shaw’s title at the anniversary show a few weeks earlier…
We eventually get going with Rhio taking di Matteo to the mat, before a wristlock ended as Laura rolled into the ropes. They went back to wristlocks, as Laura tripped Rhio to the mat, with headscissors, headlocks and armdrags seeing di Matteo pull ahead. A sliding lariat’s good for a two-count, before Rhio elbowed out of an early Veni Vidi Vici attempt. Rhio’s T-bone suplex chucks di Matteo to the mat for a two-count, before a full nelson had the Italian in trouble. Escaping, di Matteo returns fire with an Exploder for a two-count, only for forearms from Rhio to take things back into the corner. A missed clothesline allows Laura to make inroads though, rolling Rhio down for a surfboard stretch.
Rhio rolls free and tries her luck with a backslide, before she switched it into a butterfly suplex… then a shotgun dropkick as di Matteo was looking rocked. A running knee follows, then a basement dropkick for a near-fall, before a pumphandle slam nearly won it. Di Matteo fights back with a Codebreaker out of the corner and a superkick, before the Veni Vidi Vici ended with Rhio getting a toe to the rope. Di Matteo can’t capitalise as Rhio returned with an ushigoroshi, then a roll-up… but an enziguiri stopped her in her tracks as di Matteo ended things with a tombstone. Finisher aside, you’d be hard pushed to tell who the next top contender was here as Rhio was kept strong in defeat. **¾
Vignette time as we’re told the hellmouth will open on April 18 for Raven Creed’s return to PROGRESS.
Backstage, Laura di Matteo tells SoCal Val that she should have been on top of PROGRESS a long time ago…
The Royal Aces (Charlie Morgan & Jetta) vs. Mercedez Blaze & Taonga
A rematch from the “Who Rule The World” show, as Taonga and Blaze again come out separately. Before the bell, Taonga knocks off Miller’s baseball cap…
Taonga starts by throwing down Jetta, then dragging her into the corner as Blaze tagged in to stomp some mudholes. Charlie Morgan, who’d been knocked off the apron, argues to distract the referee as Jetta’s kept cornered, but she’s able to knock Blaze and Taonga into each other before suplexing Taonga towards the opposite corner. Morgan tags in to hit a low dropkick for just a one-count, before a diving boot on the apron Blaze saw Morgan fall to the floor. Taonga rolls Charlie back in and hits a Fisherman suplex into the corner, as Blaze tagged in and set up a superplex… but Morgan fights free, only to get headscissored off the top. Blaze keeps going with a hammerlock’d DDT for a two-count, before she ran into Morgan’s boots in the corner… Taonga runs in to drag Charlie back into the corner, prompting Jetta to argue (and again distract the ref).
It builds up to Morgan hitting a floatover DDT to drop Taonga as tags bring us to Jetta and Blaze. Clotheslines from Jetta lead to a T-Bone suplex to Blaze, a Codebreaker to Taonga, then a swinging neckbreaker into a Muta lock on Blaze. Taonga breaks it up with a stomp and a knee, before Morgan broke up a pin from a shotgun dropkick. From there, Jetta slingshots Blaze into a Morgan superkick, but a follow-up DDT’s blocked as Blaze tried to win with her feet on the ropes. Jetta pushes Blaze’s feet off… and from the ensuing argument Morgan nearly wins with an inside cradle. Taonga breaks it up as all four women stayed in the ring, leading to an accidental shotgun dropkick from Blaze to Taonga, allowing Jetta to hit a running back cracker as Morgan’s senton bomb wins it in the end. Decent for the time they had, with the two teams playing off their first match… which few reacted to. Guess that’s what happens when the VODs aren’t out quickly… **¾
Promo video for PROGRESS’ Deadly Viper Tour has the finest knock-off of Battle Without Honor or Humanity you’ll see this side of town.
Backstage, Jetta and Charlie Morgan are with SoCal Val, as they’re really going ham on post-match promos.
Elimination Rules, PROGRESS Atlas Championship Tournament First Round: Rickey Shane Page vs. Will Kroos vs. Joe Hendry
Originally this was RSP vs. Hendry, but a series of promos on social media meant that this match had a debuting Will Kroos added to it (under the guise of him being Hendry’s charge who’d do the work for him), and a returning Los Federales Super Santos Jr. being assigned as an enforcer for… reasons. Is there enough thrown onto the wall for you yet??
Simon Miller has a cue card for Joe Hendry, who asked to come out to silence… he didn’t get it, so he cancelled his custom ring entrance for the live crowd. Hendry listens to it on his wireless headphones, as I guess they’re only cleared for those. Hendry powders outside at the bell, but got sent back in by Kroos… as a crossbody from RSP took Hendry outside. Kroos slides in to hit a clothesline on RSP, then a slam, before a back senton nearly eliminated Page. Hendry tries to sneak in, but eats a crossbody from Kroos before a hammerlock’d STO/DDT from RSP got him a two-count on the debuting Kroos. A low bridge from Hendry takes RSP outside as the Scotsman slid in to hit a clothesline on Kroos, then a Fireman’s carry slam to Kroos before a deadlift suplex hauled up RSP.
Hendry keeps going with a fallaway slam to RSP as he continued to show off his strength to a largely indifferent crowd. Kroos tries to hit a Fire Thunder Driver, but Hendry escapes before a chokeslam left RSP laying. Kroos is back to hit the Fire Thunder… and that’s Hendry eliminated after 4:06. Thanks for coming…
Santos comes in to point the finger gun at Hendry for arguing with the ref… Hendry shows back, but eats a kick/wham Stunner. We resume with RSP rolling up Kroos for a two-count, before RSP slipped in the ropes. Commentary notes that the winner of this gets JONAH tomorrow, which I’d go in hard on, but PROGRESS dropped that match on their YouTube weeks before the show, so it’s not quite as bad as them dropping a spoiler before the Gresham/Noir match. RSP recovers with a springboard armdrag to Kroos, but Will is back up for chops as he slipped on a rope-walk armdrag. He’s more luck with a ‘rana, but a spinning enziguiri catches Kroos ahead of a senton bomb for a near-fall. Slaps from Kroos, then a reverse ‘rana sends RSP sailing to the outside for a tope con giro.
Back inside, Kroos hits a cannonball for a near-fall, before a rolling elbow from RSP stopped Will in his tracks… leading to a rope-walk frog splash as Kroos gets his side squashed as RSP booked his match with JONAH tomorrow. This wasn’t great, with too much going on for the ten minutes – I’d have preferred ten minutes of RSP/Kroos and save the Joe Hendry stuff for somewhere else. **½
Backstage, RSP puts over Will Kroos in defeat…
PROGRESS Atlas Championship Tournament First Round: JONAH vs. Schaff
When the brackets were announced, some thought it was odd that Schaff would be making his European debut against someone like JONAH. Turned out that Schaff’s match had already happened, as a match from Seattle’s DEFY was rebadged into an Atlas title tournament match.
Luckily, it was posted on PROGRESS’ YouTube, with commentary from Rich Bocchini, as it didn’t make the Network feed…
Schaff jumped JONAH before the bell, before we bust into the big lad shoulder tackles. Now this is what the spirit of the Atlas title was about! Proper big lads! They all fall down after them, then again when they clattered into each other on the floor. The fight continues into the crowd as JONAH bounced Schaff into the merch tables, before we went back towards ringside, where headbutts from JONAH led to him… charging into the ring post as Schaff sidesteps.
Schaff returned to the ring and hits a tope con giro into JONAH, before JONAH took over back inside with a series of shoulder charges into the corner. A back elbow knocks Schaff onto the apron, while waistlock takedowns keep Schaff on the deck. JONAH’s big boot cuts off Schaff’s attempted comeback, before he took him into the corner. Schaff fights back with elbows and a big splash, before some mudhole stomps had JONAH on his backside in the corner. A cannonball followed, but JONAH blocks a suplex as the pair went back and forth… eventually ending with JONAH taking the suplex anyway. Heading up top, Schaff hits a big splash for a near-fall, but came out short on a battle of German suplexes as JONAH squishes him with a back senton for another near-fall.
JONAH followed that up with a sitout powerbomb for a near-fall, before Schaff escaped a suplex. A ripcord clothesline and a spear has JONAH down, but he gets his knees up to block a back senton before JONAH launched Schaff with a Fireman’s Carry slam… then went up top himself. Schaff stops him and brings the big man down with a torture rack neckbreaker – the DD214 – only for Levi Cooper of all people (the former Tucker in WWE) to appear. Ricky Gibson (of Midnight Heat) distracts Schaff, as his tag partner Eddie Pearl wallops Schaff with a chair, allowing JONAH to wallop Schaff with a clothesline and a splash off the top for the win. This was lovely with the hot crowd, but I wasn’t keen on the outside interference – particularly given that PROGRESS viewers probably wouldn’t know nor care about that part of the DEFY storyline. ***½
Chris Ridgeway vs. Kid Lykos
This was originally meant to be Chris Ridgeway vs. Jonathan Gresham, but injury meant Gresham didn’t make the trip… so we had Chris Ridgeway – of Gresham’s Foundation – taking on Kid Lykos, who’s also “in bed” with Gresham, so to speak, as part of an exhumed CCK.
When we got going, the pair locked up into the corner as Lykos backed off… so Kid Lykos II could try and take a cheapshot. Ridgeway whips Lykos down out of a wristlock, then ground him down with a side headlock. Shoving free, Lykos tries a leapfrog, but got charged down as Ridgeway went back to the side headlock, before a hiptoss from an escaped wolf was blocked… he keeps trying, so Ridgeway just tosses him onto the apron, then brought him back in with a Dragon screw. A snapmare and a kick to the back leads Ridgeway into a deathlock on Lykos, who recovered with a neckbreaker between the ropes.
Back in the ring, a seated surfboard from Lykos has Ridgeway in trouble, but Ridgeway gets his arms free and torques on the ankle of Lykos to escape. A head kick stops that, as did a back suplex as Lykos followed in with a chinlock, before Ridgeway managed to counter out with a Stretch Muffler in the middle of the ring. Forearms from Ridgeway keep him ahead after a rope break, before a Yakuza kick and a knee strike caught Lykos in the corner. A gut shot winds Lykos, as did a running kick, before a deadlift suplex drew a two-count. Ridgeway keeps going with a half crab, but Lykos is quickly in the ropes, only for more kicks to come the wolf’s way.
Lykos’ side headlock bought him time, but Ridgeway snaps back with a German suplex for a near-fall. A Saito suplex from Lykos has Ridgeway down, as did a superkick and a back cracker, before a Casaonova knee nearly gave Lykos the win. More of those follow, then a corkscrew senton to Ridgeway’s back, before a head-and-arm submission on the mat forced Ridgeway to swivel to the ropes… but Lykos II was pulling them back. Eventually Ridgeway got to them for the break… but a top rope headscissors and another Casanova knee keeps Lykos on top for a near-fall. Lykos telegraphs a brainbuster and earns himself a couple of gut shots, then a German suplex and a PK as Lykos II tried to distract the referee by appearing on the apron. It’s ignored though as Lykos snapped back with a brainbuster for a near-fall, then a wacky take on the Stretch Muffler as he had Ridgeway in knots… only for Ridgeway to counter back with an ankle lock.
Ridgeway boots Lykos in the ropes as he looked for an escape… then reapplied the hold over the top rope. A headbutt followed as Lykos ends up trying for those headscissors off the top again, and succeeds, before another Casanova’s caught and turned into an ankle lock. Lykos II comes in but gets suplexed onto his own man, as Ridgeway almost tears off Lykos’ foot with another ankle lock for the submission. This was alright, but went on way too long for the slot they had – and it felt like the crowd were falling out with this before the finish. **¾
More from SoCal Val backstage. She’s got Chris Ridgeway, who seemingly enters himself into Super Strong Style 16 as he wants to earn his way to a title shot…
Simon Miller announces Joe Lando vs. the debuting Vaughn Vertigo to make sure people come back tomorrow… then pitched to a video package for the upcoming match, based off of interactions at the anniversary show.
Alexxis Falcon vs. Skye Smitson
We shoot out of the gates here as Falcon’s bulldog/DDT and shotgun dropkick has Smitson on the back foot.
Falcon heads up the ropes and lands a tornado suplex, sending Smitson rolling outside for a baseball slide dropkick, before Smitson returned by throwing Falcon into the stage steps. Back in the ring, forearms and a leaping kick from Smitson connect in the corner, as did a suplex, before a back elbow in the opposite corner from Falcon earned her a dropkick from Smitson. Smitson pushes on from there, following with a neck crank and a slam, only for Falcon to retaliate with a back cracker. Clotheslines and dropkicks keep Falcon ahead, as did a roundhouse kick and a rolling neckbreaker, only for Smitson to push her into the ropes ahead of an Air Raid Crash for a near-fall. A flash German suplex from Falcon folds up Smitson from there, ahead of the Sleeping Beauty diving kick for a near-fall, before Smitson tried to steal it with a roll-up.
From there, the Rapscallion (Side Effect) nearly wins it for Skye, with Falcon rolling outside for respite. She sweeps Smitson’s leg on the apron as the pair scrap around the merch tables, losing track of the referee’s count… and we have a double count-out. The fight continues afterwards, so this feud must continue, particularly as Smitson strangled Falcon with some merch… only to get back suplexed into the table. **¾
We then jump cut to Alexxis Falcon backstage with SoCal Val… and Falcon straight up tells us this isn’t the end of her feud with Skye, as she’s fed up with being treated like (muted) around these parts.
PROGRESS Atlas Championship Tournament First Round: Luke Jacobs vs. Big Damo
The winner of this gets Warren Banks in the semi-finals…
Jacobs apparently narrowly qualified for the tournament in terms of weight class, and was getting thrown around by Damo to start, but Luke popped up from shoulder tackles as he looked to wallop Damo with a lariat. Damo returned with a throw and a crossbody, before a slam and a legdrop earned him an early two-count. Damo battered Luke in the corner before whipping him a la Bret Hart into the opposite set of buckles. Jacobs is kept on the mat as Damo stood on him, before body blows in the corner wore down the Young Gun. Another whip into the corner’s blocked as Jacobs came back with a lariat and a back elbow, before a chop into the corner saw Jacobs pull ahead.
Clothesline follow in the corner, but Damo returns with a kick to the midsection, only to run into a spinebuster for a two-count. A tree slam and an elbow drop from Damo turned the tables, before the pair traded forearms. Jacobs pulls ahead with some elbows, but ran into a Fireman’s carry slam and another back senton, before he rolled away from the Vader bomb. Jacobs muscles Damo up for a German suplex, following up with a bunch of elbows and kicks, before he BOUNCED Damo with a lariat for the win. A big win for Jacobs in terms of name value, as he looks to be the underdog in the final four. **¾
For those who care, the tournament brackets they’ve been flashing up all night haven’t been updated to show the new venue…
Once more, we’re backstage with SoCal Val and Luke Jacobs. Luke knew his status, but didn’t believe he was the underdog, calling himself a 21-year old wrestling machine that’s going to leave London with the Atlas title.
PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: Sunshine Machine (Chuck Mambo & TK Cooper) vs. The 0121 (Dan Moloney & Man Like DeReiss) (c)
Sunshine Machine eliminated the Smokin’ Aces during the tag title gauntlet last time out – but ended up falling to the 0121 at the final hurdle… so they get the first crack at the new champions.
We’ve the long duelling chant before the bell that PROGRESS raved about on social media, which went on for almost 8 minutes before Simon Miller put a pin in them. They start up again after the introductions, but died out pretty quick as they finally got going amid chants, with a Moloney shotgun dropkick setting us off. All four men spill outside and brawl to start, leading to DeReiss scrambling up the stage as he leaps onto Mambo. A superkick from Mambo cuts him off, before Chuck, erm, chucked a chair at DeReiss in front of the ref. It’s ignored, so I guess we’re under sedated rules as things returned to the ring.
TK drops Moloney onto the apron, then avoided a pair of 0121 dives as the challengers booted them off the apron ahead of a body press from Mambo and a running shooting star press from TK… who followed with a springboard Quebrada on DeReiss for a near-fall. Mambo tags in to boot Moloney off the apron as a German Suplex Turbo Charged By The Power of Friendship kept the focus on DeReiss for a near-fall. There’s a back body drop out of DeReiss as he manages to make the tag to Moloney… Mambo’s back too, and eats a dropkick as Dan cleared house by himself, leading to a Jackhammer on Mambo for a near-fall. DeReiss is back for a wheelbarrow bulldog for a near-fall, before TK flew in to break up a pin.
Moloney went to the back after that, as we ended up with a staredown. DeReiss launches into Mambo, then TK, before a superkick and the B-Roll was kicked out of. A clothesline from TK keeps DeReiss down, as did kneedrops from Mambo, but DeReiss keeps kicking out. DeReiss reverses a suplex, but had nobody to tag out to as Mambo brings TK back in…
DeReiss keeps going though, hitting a dropkick and a back body drop before a pop-up powerbomb nearly won it. Heading up top, DeReiss goes for the 4-Fiddy, but TK cuts him off as he tried for a Spanish Fly… but instead brings DeReiss down with a superplex. Mambo tags back in as Sunshine Machine were almost bullying their way through here, landing a swinging side slam for a near-fall, before a superkick from DeReiss took Mambo into the corner. Rolling German suplexes see DeReiss build up, bridging on the third for a near-fall as TK tagged in to cut off DeReiss with a bodyslam. A flying Destroyer from DeReiss surprises TK, as did a Blue Thunder bomb, as Mambo was forced to leap in to break up the pin. Out of nowhere, Dan Moloney ran back out to rejoin the match… but got knocked off the apron by TK almost immediately.
DeReiss rolls outside to join Dan as TK and Mambo did their circus trick, with Mambo going on TK’s shoulders… DeReiss stops them and climbs up on Moloney’s shoulders, only to get hit with a Doomsday Destroyer. A Designated Driver followed on Moloney, but Dan gets a foot under the rope to save the titles. Captain Midnight’s Revenge looks to follow on Dan, but a blind tag brings DeReiss in for a moonsault into TK, before DeReiss ate a Spanish Fly off the top. A Drilla from Moloney onto the pile breaks up the cover… and in among it all DeReiss manages to snatch the win. A hot atmosphere buoyed this match, but if you know me, you know what I’m about to say about how tornado-ey this became – their hands were forced somewhat by Moloney’s knock early on, but this felt like a mess at times. DeReiss taking so much of a beating from Sunshine Machine could be seen as doing little favours for the challengers, but considering how badly this could have gone off the rails, this has to go down as a bit of a success. ***
I said it before, and I’ll say it again – these two Atlas shows are a perfect example of attempting to repeat nostalgic themes without understanding why they clicked in the first place. Nothing against the lads who worked the show in London, but it says something when the old “spirit” of the Atlas title felt like it was best represented in Seattle… A perverse part of me wants to know what this show would have come across like in the Ballroom, given the crowd and atmosphere at parts, but I’m hoping that this particular weekend would have been a warning sign that’s taken heed of. There’s a lot of stuff across this product that needs polishing, and that’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom. At minimum, there’s glimmers of a bright future there within this roster, but not if they’re trying to go back to former glories.