Well, if I’m going to Brixton in September, I really ought to get up to speed with what PROGRESS is doing, right? And since I’m signed up to Demand-Progress.com, it’s probably time to start doing more than scanning through some shows.
Chapter 28 of PROGRESS Wrestling – entitled Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want – took place on April 10th from PROGRESS’ second spiritual city of Manchester, England, and opened up with a standing ovation from the crowd at the Ritz in tribute to Kris Travis.
The Dunne Brothers (Damian Dunne & Pete Dunne) vs. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
Fortunately for someone who’s never seen these guys before, the Dunne Brothers are easy to tell apart – Damien is in trunks, and Pete is in a singlet. Moustache Mountain come out to the original song that Claudio Castagnoli used in the indies (Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”). And likewise, Trent has a full beard, whilst Tyler chickens out with just a moustache…
Good action early on, with Bate holding Damien in a headlock whilst kicking him in the head a the same time, before Moustache Mountain hold a delayed vertical suplex for two tags (with transitions between Bate, to Seven, and back again). That’s not something you see everyday! Neither is Moustache Mountain building up a mountain of bodies from bodyslams. The end came after some good back and forth spots, including a unique take on a reverse ‘rana, when Damian Dunne modernised the old indy favourite, with a pump-handle slam into a Flatliner. Decent opener, even if the lack of pinfall attempts early on was weird **¾
Damon Moser vs. Ashton Smith
This is a semi-final in the “Natural PROGRESSion Series” tournament – meant to showcase up and coming talent who perhaps wouldn’t usually appear on PROGRESS shows. The winner of the tournament getting a shot at the PROGRESS World title. So you’d expect the winner to be impressive, right?
They start off slowly, with Moser being taken down with a drop-toe hold, before rolling out of it, as the two tease their finishers in the early going. Smith takes down Moser with a step-up huracanrana using the ropes, before utilising something closer to a Rough Ryder for a near-fall. Moser sends Ashton to the outside after an Exploder suplex, but Ashton regains the upper hand with a tope con hilo that looked to hit the fans in the chairs more than it did Moser.
Smith went for the GTS, only for Moser to fight out and drill him with a pump handle Ushigoroshi (or a “brainbuster to the knee”), which was the set-up for the Knee Trembler – running knee to the head – as Moser became an unpopular finalist. Good match, with a logical build to the eventual finish. We’ve got Moser vs. Pastor William Eaver in the final at Chapter 29 – should be a good one! ***
Speaking of, they wheeled out Eaver onto the stage for a facedown… that’ll have been his easiest payoff (if he got one, that is!)
Jinny vs. Toni Storm
Well, at least Jinny’s got a better opponent than last time she was in a PROGRESS ring, and Jinny’s getting the most heel heat of anyone so far tonight. See, heels do get reactions in wrestling in 2016!
The pair shove each other at the bell, with Jinny bumping first, as Storm drills Jinny with a release Northern Lights suplex that sends Manchester’s Most Hated scurrying for cover. Jinny bends the rules by dropping Storm on the rope and that’s where she takes control, putting the boots into Storm, before thrusting her hands into Storm’s throat.
Jinny catches Storm with the Botox Injection (knee to the face) after sweeping Storm’s feet away, before following up with kicks to the back of the head after tying Storm in a tree of woe. Jinny then motioned over to her long-suffering PA, Elizabeth, who threw a bin bag into the ring, which ended up being used to cover up Storm’s ring gear, before applying lipstick onto Toni Storm in much the same way a three year old would.
The lipstick’d Storm then fired up, and let me tell you, the sight of someone Hulking up by ripping a bin liner is quite the thing. Storm lays out Jinny with kicks, but misses a hip attack in the corner, before suplexing Jinny into the corner. A hip attack succeeds on the second go, as Storm scores a two-count from a Fisherman’s suplex.
Storm then went up top, only for Elizabeth to jump onto the apron for a distraction, and that allows Jinny to set her up for the Face Lift (facebuster out of the corner) for the win. The match may have been lacking, but the responses were not – definitely a better outing than what I saw in Islington last month, that’s for sure! **¾
The post-match sees Elizabeth get involved again, as Jinny demands that she cut Storm’s hair, but Elizabeth refuses to move much and the haircut doesn’t happen. After being shoved into the corner, the docile Elizabeth snaps, and pushes Jinny into Toni Storm, who lays her out with a piledriver… and so the story of the mistreated PA breaking free of her abuser evolves a little bit more!
“Flash” Morgan Webster vs. Mark Haskins
Add Webster to the list of “guys I’ve never seen before”, and his ring gear is quite unique – a Union Jack jacket, and pinstripe tights – whilst bearing a passing resemblence to Jay from “The Inbetweeners”… Mark Haskins has been around the UK scene for a while, having been wrestling since 2006 and is getting something of a push, as he’s one of a very limited number of guys whom PROGRESS is putting out merchandise for.
Haskins works over Webster with headscissors early on, as they started off with fairly basic moves, before Webster tripped Haskins and caught a “Special Brew flip” (standing senton bomb) for a near fall. A series of kneedrops to the face of Webster gets Haskins back on top, with the veteran staying on top of Webster with chops and knees to the back.
Haskins launches into Webster and rolls through into a Sharpshooter – a set-up I’ve usually only ever seen for a cross-armbreaker – but Webster manages to punch himself free, before lighting up Haskins with some headbutts. Webster takes out Haskins with a tope suicida, but throwing him back into the ring proved to be the wrong move, as Haskins popped up and launched himself outside with another tope… Haskins then threw Webster in, and he duly returned the favour, returning back outside with a tope con hilo.
Back in the ring, Haskins shifted the momentum of the match, fighting out of a Death Valley Driver before throwing Webster into the corner with an overhead suplex, following up with a near-fall from a Blue Thunder Bomb. Webster scored a near fall after rolling through a Stretch Muffler into a small package, before catching Haskins with the Brit Pop Drop (Death Valley Driver onto the knee/Hirooki Goto’s Ushigoroshi). Webster took too long to make the pin, and instead opted to go up top, landing on his feet from a 450 Splash attempt, before Haskins ducked out of the way of a charge in the corner and locked in the Stretch Muffler.
Webster managed to crawl to the ropes from that, but Haskins fired back with a neat senton-roll onto the ground, picking up Webster in the process before dumping him back on the mat with a Samoan driver for another near fall. Haskins tries for it again, only for Webster to elbow out of the Death Valley Driver, and hit the Baba O’Riley (double underhook facebuster, better known as Christopher Daniels’ “Angels Wings”), before missing a 450 Splash. Haskins counters immediately with an armbar, but Webster rolls into a pinfall… which Haskins then rolls back on to grab the winning fall.
The best match of the first half, easily – I was left really impressed with Webster in particular here, and can’t wait to see both of these again down the line. ***¼
So, whilst WWE is doing their Global Cruiserweight Series, PROGRESS are taking a different track, and introducing for all intents and purposes, “The Big Man’s Title”. Dubbed the Atlas title, the first champion will be crowned following a round robin tournament – although rumours of the title being a set of Atlas stones (a la World’s Strongest Man) have yet to be confirmed. Or indeed, denied.
Helpfully, MC for the evening Glen Joseph goes over the rules: in short, the Atlas Championship is for wrestlers over 205lbs, and the matches in the tournament will be fought with a 15 minute time limit. Two points are earned for a win, one for a draw, and nothing for turning up to lose. With that in mind, let’s get going on the first match in the Atlas Championship Tournament!
Atlas Championship Tournament, Block A: T-Bone  vs. Big Daddy Walter 
England vs. Austria here, as the 235lb T-Bone, in his tenth year of wrestling, faced off with the 310lb Big Daddy Walter. I think it’s safe to say he’s over the limit… Walter, by the way, was the guy who single-handedly broke the ring at PROGRESS Chapter 23, when his Irish whip of Rampage Brown into the corner destroyed two of the turnbuckles. Look for it on Botchamania 295… As a piece of useless trivia, Walter’s wearing the same black “Ring Kampf” trunks that Timothy Thatcher wears. Hopefully he’s more entertaining than the last Thatcher matches I saw.
Thankfully it’s not a boring slugfest, with Walter hitting a good dropkick for a man his size, before T-Bone slams Walter in the middle of the ring. Walter then flies, but not the way he meant to, as T-Bone caught a kick on the apron, and flung him down to the floor. Walter gets chopped into a chair, which crumpled under his weight… whilst T-Bone’s back didn’t crumple after being dropped with a back-suplex on the apron.
Walter kicks T-Bone’s head off with a big boot, but that doesn’t lead to a pinfall attempt, as he picks up his English foe and starts laying in the forearm strikes, before crushing T-Bone with a bodyslam and a legdrop that almost resembled Earthquake’s old sit-down splash finisher. Walter then shows his strength by deadlifting T-Bone off the mat whilst face down, and throwing him overhead, before demanding the referee start a ten-count on his downed opponent.
A German suplex and a clothesline see Walter grab a near-fall, but T-Bone fires back by absorbing some chops before returning the favour. Thankfully a big back body drop from T-Bone doesn’t break the ring, whilst a diving shoulder block from the second rope gets T-Bone a near fall. T-Bone then tries for a suplex, but Walter shifts his weight and lands on top of him for a two-count. Walter then goes up top, only to get caught flying with an armdrag to the mat.
More trading forearms follow, and it becomes a slugfest, ending with T-Bone picking up Walter for a fallaway slam, before flying off the top rope with a frog splash to secure the win. Well, that’s an unorthodox way to end the first match in the big man’s tournament! Good, hard hitting match, and leaves me looking forward to the rest of the tournament ***¾
Marty Scurll vs. Tommy End
So, the storyline here is that Scurll – after having defending his now-PROGRESS World title in Dallas a week earlier – was refusing to defend his title here. So we ended up with a non-title match involving two men who tagged together during the WWN “Mercury Rising” show the prior weekend.
Tommy End is the overwhelming favourite here, but after a leapfrog he misses a kick and almost falls into an early chickenwing attempt, before sending Scurll to the floor. Scurll then teases taking a count-out loss, but returns to the ring for another exchange, ending with him taking a kick to the head after jumping off the middle rope. End elbows out of a finger cracker, but gets whipped to the mat with Nigel McGuinness’ old Divorce Court.
End skips up over the Just Kidding superkick before laying into Scurll with a series of kicks before getting a two-count from a German suplex… as Scurll levels the Dutchman with a knee to the face for another near-fall. Scurll goes for the chicken wing, but End flips out and locks in a Dragon Sleeper, but can’t keep the hold cinched in. End and Scurll trade kicks and forearms, but Scurll finally snaps the fingers of End… whose reply is a stiff knee to the face. As End staggers to his feet, Scurll calls for a chickenwing, and is met with a superkick, and that gets the Dutchman a surprise win!
Well, that finish came from out of nowhere – a good match that seemed a little on the short side, but clearly building to something down the road. ***½
We’re going into the main event with forty-minutes left on the video, and it’s a no-DQ tag team match:
PROGRESS Tag Team Title Match: FSU (Eddie Dennis & Mark Andrews) vs. The Origin (El Ligero & Nathan Cruz) (c)
Mark Andrews is an infinitely better name than Mandrews, for the record. It’s weird that for a “TNA guy”, Andrews gets a lot more ring time in just about any promotion other than TNA… meanwhile, El Ligero’s character comes across as wacky in the land of no-masks known as PROGRESS.
By the way, this being PROGRESS, the tag team titles aren’t belts – they’re a shield which have been sliced in two, much like a Ying-Yang symbol. They’re very unique, even if the design of the round shield reminds me of those godawful WWE tag titles. For a no-DQ match, only the challengers have brought plunder with them, in the form of some steel chairs.
The Origin start out on the floor, and the challengers take the fight to them, although Andrews quickly returns in to hit a wheelbarrow/facebuster on El Ligero in the opening moments. FSU score a near-fall after an Andrews standing moonsault followed up on Dennis’ swinging side slam, and it was back to the floor from there. Ligero spat a fan’s beer into Andrews’ eyes, whilst Cruz got shoved into a fan’s seat and was stiffly chopped.
The brawling around the Ritz continues, including the scene of El Ligero and Mark Andrews fighting by the bar as people were getting a round of drinks in, blissfully unaware at their surroundings. Andrews ducked a Ligero chop, creating a loud thud as Ligero’s hand connected with a pillar in the building, whilst Nathan Cruz was backdropped on the stage as he went for a piledriver.
Ligero gets the focus as he seats Andrews in preparation for a dive… only to shuffle towards him and give him a light chop, before Andrews hurls the masked man into the seats. Speaking of seats, Dennis and Cruz end up fighting on a red faux-leather seat, which looks to be one of the more comfortable places to get punched inside the Ritz. Andrews then gets tossed into the sofa, whilst Dennis got tossed into the ringpost. Dennis then got a little inventive, grabbing a fan’s shoe and using it to beat up Cruz, whilst Andrews used a crutch in the midsection of Ligero.
Thankfully by this point, the two teams converged, which meant that we weren’t experiencing endless camera cuts in a bid to keep us in the loop, and they start going into two-on-one action, with the Origin hitting a double-team suplex onto Dennis on the floor, before slinging Andrews into the post.
Our first innovative plunder spot comes when Mark Andrews’ attempt at a dive gets cut off by the tag team titles – literally – when Cruz and Ligero grab their shields to deflect his dive. Eddie Dennis is thrown back in as the champions grab a fairly-short ladder (by wrestling standards), and we’re back to the weapons as Dennis gets whipped into a ladder, before ducking out of the way of a con-chair-to.
We then switch to dives as Andrews goes to the stage and behind the curtain, only to re-emerge with a somersault dive off the stage into the Origin – and his tag partner – on the floor. Both teams then finally return to the ring for some Balls Mahoney-esque duelling chairs, which ended with everyone taking a chairshot and collapsing to the mat. Some more duelling shots follow, but Mark Andrews’ effort to drill Cruz with an enziguiri sees him wipe out his own partner, before Andrews ducks out of the way to see Cruz floor Ligero.
Ligero goes under the ring and re-emerges with two pots of drawing pins – and scatters both of them onto the mat – before attempting to drop Eddie Dennis into them with a tornado DDT. Dennis frees himself, and then tries for a superplex… only for Ligero to free himself and send Dennis to the outside. Mark Andrews then runs in, and capitalises on Ligero’s timewasting, sending him into the pins with a hurracanrana off the top. Oww!
Andrews then signals to send Cruz into the pins, but Cruz fights free and kicks the pins into the crowd (not sure that meets Health & Safety guidelines!), and then turns into a fist-fight with Eddie Dennis. For some reason the referee comes in to try and separate them (in a no-DQ match), resulting in him being thrown by Dennis, head-first into the chair that was wedged into the corner earlier in the match. That’ll serve him right for looking to enforce non-existent rules!
Dennis takes down Cruz with a uranage, setting up a shooting star press by Andrews… but thanks to Dennis’s actions moments earlier, there’s no ref! Andrews gets a visual ten-count pinfall on Cruz, but to no avail, and finally another referee comes out, just in time for Cruz to use a rope-assisted schoolboy for a near-fall on Andrews. El Ligero then got planted on the apron with an assisted neck drop driver after Dennis had caught a C4L (springboard tornado DDT). Back in the ring, Cruz was planted with a Razor’s Edge into the ladder, before catching Cruz with another assisted neck drop driver, with Andrews coming off the ladder, for a near-fall as Ligero pulled the referee out.
Ligero throws the second referee into the ringpost, so that’s all of the referee’s out of action, which seems to open up the match for FSU to create some weird structure made out of tables and chairs, and they try and hit a throwing crucifix powerbomb on Ligero from the ring to that structure, but he escapes certain death… but not Eddie Dennis, who gets powerbombed from the apron through the table, after flipping the bird to both members of the Origin.
Back in the ring, it’s two-on-one again as the Origin lay out Andrews with a con-chair-to, but the first referee stirs just in time to make a two-count as Andrews kicks out. More chair-assisted violence follows as Andrews gets chairs smashed into him repeatedly, before Cruz nails a tombstone onto a chair, and that’s all she wrote for FSU. For a weapons-infused brawl, this was an enjoyable bout – even if the early going of the match made it unwatchable “at home” with all of the camera cuts as the PROGRESS team in vain tried to show a tag team match that often resembled an old ECW “Double Jeopardy” match. That being said, it was such a change of pace from the rest of the show, you couldn’t help but enjoy it ****
From top to bottom, Chapter 28 was a good show from PROGRESS – creating a new singles challenger, whilst seemingly killing off the number one contenders to the tag team titles (well, at least until the group announced an eight-man tag between the Origin and the pairings of FSU and the London Riots, with the winning non-Origin team getting a tag title shot). Still, this was a classic “something for everyone” show, with good action across all divisions and genders, and well worth the time watching!