The road to Brixton got a little bit clearer during PROGRESS’ latest trip to Manchester for “Keep It Unreal”.
#TLDR: Zack Sabre Jr. and Will Ospreay stole the show with a fine wrestling-heavy main event on a card that finalised the Atlas championship semi-finals, and continued the build to Brixton.
The Full Review: We started off with Jim Smallman’s usual pre-amble, and plenty of chants of “who’s the daddy?” and “Claudio” as the crowd congratulated the new father.
Atlas Championship Tournament, Block A: Dave Mastiff  vs. Iestyn Rees 
Rees is all-but-out of the tournament, and Mastiff just needs to avoid defeat to make it into the semi-finals. Rees starts by charging down Mastiff in the corner, and then lands a tope to the outside.
Rees rolls Mastiff back in, but the Bastard rolls out to the other side of the ring… wash, rinse and repeat! Mastiff tries it again, but stops and gets booed, before a small package gets him a near-fall. Mastiff kicks away a chokeslam attempt, then gets a big boot for his troubles before he shoves Rees off the top rope and to the floor. Back inside, Mastiff rubs his elbow into Rees’ face, and then sends Rees back outside as he’s happy to take the count-out. Except Rees rolls back in at two, and gets rocked with a headbutt.
Rees tries to make a comeback, but he’s taken to the corner and choked, before a clubbing forearm from Mastiff sends him to his knees. Mastiff jumps on Rees’ head, then takes him back to the corner before he pauses to shake his head at some chants from the crowd. A running forearm drops Rees – and gets Mastiff a loud cheer – but he gets taken down with a shoulder tackle after failing with a superplex.
Rees tosses Mastiff across the ring with a fallaway slam, but Mastiff quickly replies with a roll-up to snatch the win and seal his place in the semi-finals. That was pretty good, and did little for Rees, who leaves the tournament with a 0-3 record. **¾
Jim Smallman announces that Tommy End is up next – and if he wins his next match, he faces Marty Scurll at a later date… except Scurll has picked his opponent. Scurll comes out after End’s entrance, and talks down to him for a while. The hand-picked opponent? Zack Gibson… who gets his old “You’ll Never Walk Alone” song, which Marty sang along to. Scurll then introduced a second opponent for him, in the form of Mikey Whiplash, but Michael Dante comes out from the back with a steel chair and makes sure that this stays a singles match.
Interestlingly, both Origin members so far today got their old singles themes back, as opposed to Metallica’s “Turn The Page”.
Tommy End vs. Zack Gibson
Gibson jumps End at the bell, putting the boots to the Dutchman in the corner. End drills him with a big boot out of the corner, then landed a knee to the midsection and a couple of kicks as this got underway at a frenetic clip. End goes for and misses a double footstomp early, then kneed Gibson in the face, before a single-arm DDT took down End and sent him to the outside. Gibson posts End, but takes his time after he’s returned to the ring, which leads to End getting in a strike, before an elbow drop gets Gibson a two-count.
Gibson works over End’s arm, with a stomp and an overhead throw by the left arm of the Dutchman. End punches himself free of a second single-arm DDT, but Gibson regains the advantage and yanks back on the arm with a version of an Indian deathlock.
Gibson goes for a hammerlock, almost like KUSHIDA’s Hoverboeard lock, but End works free into a spinning elbow to Gibson’s head, before a double chop knocks him onto the apron. End blocks a suplex into the ring by using a knee, sending Gibson onto the apron where the pair end up trading forearm smashes. A knee strike from End sends Gibson to the floor, and he quickly rushes in with a moonsault, before End goes flying with a tope after he’d been sent into the ring. Gibson took too much time himself, then ate a tope con hilo from End.
Back inside, End misses a double foot stomp, but gets turned inside out by a lariat from Gibson for a near-fall, who then hit the cross-legged brainbuster for another two-count. End went for an O’Connor roll, but Gibson rolled through into the Shankly Gates, but it got reversed into a Dragon sleeper. More reversals as they swapped near-falls from a roll-up, before the Ticket To Ride (nee Merseyside Drop) from Gibson almost won it, as End grabbed the bottom rope just in time.
Gibson tries for the Shankly Gates again, but End rolls through and connects with a double stomp. A flurry of strikes from End drops the Scouser once more, but his attempt to come back with a second Ticket To Ride meets the knee of End in mid air, before the roundhouse kick gets End the win. A really enjoyable outing here, with End’s urgency coming into play throughout – although the nitpicker in me would have wanted to know what Gibson was fighting for, rather than just trying to be a spoiler. Another loss for Gibson though, and that’s making me scratch my head some more… ***¾
Tommy End took the microphone afterwards, and lays out a challenge to Scurll. He wants Scurll’s title belt (well, duh!), and Scurll comes out once again. He gets another microphone, and tries to move the goalposts again. Scurll says that he’ll have his match, but it’ll be non-title… and all of a sudden, he’s interrupted by… the ENDVR music? (“Bullet Theory” by Funeral for a Friend, if anyone’s interested).
That confuses the crowd, who slowly react when Glen Joseph makes his way through the curtain and into the ring. After taking time off – and missing Chapter 33 to boot – Joseph made his comeback. Joseph corrects Scurll and says that only the owners of PROGRESS make the matches, not him… and Joseph “calls an audible”. Tommy End gets his title match, and it’s going to be at the Brixton show, in a triple-threat match. Storyline-wise, I wonder how Mark Haskins feels about that?
Glen then books a second match for Scurll, announcing that he’ll be defending the belt against Mark Andrews at Chapter 35, with the caveat that if Scurll loses his title, he’s not going to be on the Brixton show. Interesting…
By the way, Glen Joseph re-joined the commentary team from here on in.
The South Pacific Power Trip (Travis Banks, TK Cooper & Dahlia Black) vs. Jack Sexsmith, Roy Johnson & Pollyanna
This is under intergender rules, so the men can face off against the women if they want to. The faces storm the ring, and we get a jump start as the heels are tossed from the ring, before Jack Sexsmith launches himself into the pile on the floor. Roy Johnson does the same, with a cannonball off the second rope, and then Pollyanna completes the set, only to run into a kick from Dahlia in mid-tope.
Pollyanna and Dahlia trade blows as they stand across the corner from each other, and then that turned into a superplex to the floor attempt… and holy cow, Dahlia Black flips awkwardly on the shoulder of Travis Banks as she’s suplexed to the floor!
Sexsmith makes a beeline for Cooper, but he takes his eye off of Travis Banks, who lands into him with a tope that sent Sexsmith into the front row, before Sexsmith’s thrown into a pile of guard rails away from the ring. Inside, Pollyanna misses a double stomp on Dahlia, who followed up with a dropkick, and the awkward landings for Dahlia continued when she was folded in half with a lariat.
Pollyanna went for the Pollinator, but Dahlia freed herself as they went for a series of kicks, only for Travis Banks to run in and deck Pollyanna with a lariat, getting him a loud chorus of boos. Dahlia gets a two-count from that, and keeps up the pressure by choking Pollyanna in the corner with a Kevin Nash-like big boot. A snapmare into a kick follows, with Dahlia getting another near-fall from a leaping legdrop. More kicks to Pollyanna here, who finally counters with a Samoan drop and finally tags in Roy Johnson.
Johnson clears house on Cooper and Banks, using lariats and back suplexes, before a back elbow from Cooper dazes the Bodyguy. A sidestep from Johnson sees Banks rush head-first into the crotch of Cooper as he was sat on the top rope, and we get a tease of a double-team Last Set (Big Ending), but Dahlia made the save before she was dumped to the floor. Johnson turns around into a double kick to the midsection, and then a drop toe hold into an axe kick from Cooper for another two-count.
Banks fights off Johnson, before taking a flapjack as Jack Sexsmith hauls himself onto the apron, and he now clears house on Cooper and Banks. Hip attacks a-go-go for Cooper and Banks into the corner, before Sexsmith lands the Pearl Neckbreaker/DDT as a combination to take both men down… and then it’s time for Mr. Cocko!
Dahlia runs in to dis-arm Mr. Cocko, but that distraction allows Banks to run in with a Fisherman’s buster on Sexmith. Banks then takes a Full Nelson Slam from Johnson, with Cooper then landing an Overdrive/Play of the Day/O-Zone/Playmaker/whateverthehellyouwanttocallit. Cooper turns around into Pollyanna, but he misses an axe kick, and eats a load of forearms, and finally the Pollinator! That was impressive! Sadly, Banks and Black break up the cover, but Pollyanna fights them off, before she’s overwhelmed and held in an elevated suplex position by Banks and Cooper, and takes a double stomp from Black.
For some reason, Roy Johnson spent the whole time just watching from the apron, and then gets knocked off the apron, where he’s double-teamed by Black and Banks. The heels have missed Sexsmith though, who eventually lands Mr. Cocko on Cooper, but the heels overcome again and land a pair of superkicks, then a lariat onto Sexsmith.
A punch from Cooper knocked Sexsmith down, but he kicked out at two from the resulting cover, before the South Pacific Power Trip set up for a fairly intricate spot, as Sexsmith takes a double-stomp from Black, sparking a death valley driver from Cooper onto the knees of Banks. Intricate, contrived, whatever you want to call it, it worked, because that’s what won the match. A good outing that put over the SPPT after their loss to War Machine on the ENDVR shows earlier in the month. The intergender stuff was kept to a minimum, and didn’t descend at all into uncomfortable territory like these things can do. Given how badly they worked together, I’d question the long-term future of the so-called Shirtlifters team of Johnson and Sexsmith. ***½
Atlas Championship Tournament, Block B: Joe Coffey  vs. Michael Dante 
Is it me, or does Joe Coffey’s tights look like he’s wearing a sumo mawashi (thong) that’s been pulled out of place…
They start with a lock-up, and both men go around the ropes before Dante and Coffey decide to just throw forearms instead. We see some shoulder tackles that barely move either man, and finally a leaping shoulder block from Coffey knocks Dante to the mat.
A gutwrench suplex gets Coffey a two-count, and Dante replies with a belly-to-back suplex for another two-count. Coffey went for a roll-up, but instead opted for a Giant Swing rather than keep the shoulders of Dante down, and then turned him over into a Boston crab. Dante makes the ropes and goes to the outside, but gets the initiative with some double axehandles on Coffey, then a stiff forearm.
A shoulder tackle from Coffey drops Dante onto the wooden floor of the Ritz, and he throws him back into the ring to pick up a near-fall. The pair throw bombs at each other, but Dante shocks Coffey with a back body drop that got him a near-fall. Dante grabs a camel clutch, then rolls Coffey for a near-fall, and Dante goes back to the strikes.
A clothesline drops Coffey to a knee, but he fires back eventually after losing grip on a waistlock, and takes Dante down with a release German suplex. Coffey headbutts Dante into the corner and follows up with a series of avalanches, then lands a top rope springboard crossbody for a near-fall. Dante elbows out of another German, then delivers one himself, before spearing Coffey… and gets just a one count!
That didn’t seem to register with the crowd (at least, audibly, since one-count kickouts tend to elicit some kind of pop these days), and Coffey lands an enziguiri, then a German suplex… for another one-count. No pop. Coffey finally lands the discus lariat though, and takes the win in a hard-hitting match that felt like it never really clicked. Then again, if you were in a match that you just had to avoid losing, you too would probably club the hell out of your opponent and go for a TKO! **¾
The Atlas match results today mean that the semi-finals at Chapter 35 will be Dave Mastiff vs. Joe Coffey and T-Bone vs. Rampage.
PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) vs. London Riots (Rob Lynch & James Davis) (c)
This is a rematch from Chapter 33, with War Machine earning it after beating TK Cooper and Travis Banks in separate singles matches at the ENDVR show earlier in August. War Machine also added a separate stipulation to this, due to the handful-of-tights finish in their first match: this is going to be a tornado match. Given the size of the four guys, Jim Smallman was probably right when he said “if you are sat… just about anywhere, you are fucked”. Health and safety, everybody!
Both teams start clubbing each other with forearms, and this is already descending into one of those “hard to follow” sorta matches. Hanson gets thrown into a wall by Davis, but Rowe comes and makes the save as both teams brawl around the bar area. Back around ringside, Rowe gets thrown into the ringpost by Lynch, whilst Hanson and Davis fought around the merch tables.
Lynch uppercuts Hanson into a chair, and then gets dropkicked out of it whilst Davis gets a suplex onto the apron from Rowe. Apparently this tornado rules match still includes disqualifications and count-outs, but Chris Roberts isn’t exercising either of those yet, as all four men again go to the outside to exchange forearms and chops.
Hanson crotches Davis on the ringpost, before Rowe trips Lynch on the apron and followed up with a leaping knee off the apron to Lynch on the floor. Hanson crotches Davis on a guard railing, as Rowe joins in to pinball Davis with knee strikes, and then slam Hanson on top of him.
Hanson goes flying with a tope that takes Lynch into the stage steps, and then goes straight into a running senton from Davis off said stage, as Raymond Rowe does a lap of honour and drills Davis with a leaping knee. Rowe gets thrown into the fourth row of seats by Davis, as Hanson’s left alone in the ring against both of the champions. A clothesline from Lynch and a back senton from Davis gets a near-fall… and a view of the ceiling briefly, before Rowe’s dropped with a double shoulder block.
Back outside again, the Riots keep up the beatdown on War Machine, but the challengers get back into it by reversing a slam and using the Riots as battering rams against each other. Inside the ring, Lynch takes a pounding from War Machine, with an avalanche from Hanson, a dropkick from Rowe, and then a Bronco-not-quite-a-Buster from Hanson for a near-fall.
Davis comes in and drops Rowe with an Exploder into the corner, before Lynch drops Hanson with a boot-assisted death valley driver for another two-count. Hanson and Rowe drop Davis with a double chokeslam for a near-fall, with Lynch making a comeback as he goes from corner-to-corner with strikes, before low-bridging Hanson to the outside.
Rowe uppercuts Lynch as Hanson climbs back onto the apron, and gets in position to dump Lynch on the mat as Rowe popped him up onto the apron, with Hanson finishing off the slam. That was nuts. Davis takes a series of running knee strikes in the corner as Hanson and Rowe tried to decapitate him.
A sit-down splash from Hanson out of the corner got him another two-count on Davis, but Davis tried to fire back up, before the numbers game overwhelmed him, as did a boot from Hanson. Davis sort-of took the Fallout on the floor, as Hanson was shoved into him by Lynch as Rowe’d held him up in a backbreaker, and that led to an insane senton from Lynch off the top as he took the Dahlia Black bump, pivoting on the pile before landing on the floor.
Inside yet again, the Riots get a near-fall from a double spinebuster on Hanson, but Rowe cuts off a powerbomb attempt, and runs into an Exploder from Davis. Hanson hits a spinning powerslam on Davis, before Lynch lands an overhead belly to belly on Hanson, then a German suplex on Rowe.
It starts to get a bit silly as Hanson cartwheels away from a back body drop, then takes down Lynch with a clothesline, only to fall to an Air Raid Crash from James Davis. A reverse judo throw and a running knee from Rowe leads to a knee smash, and finally all four men are down after that parade of big moves.
Both teams get back to their feet for a stand-off, and they go back to clubbering each other again, and War Machine set up for the Death Rowe and a spin kick combo on Davis. Lynch comes in and takes a back breaker into a superman punch, then a deadlift German suplex, as they combined with Hanson dropping Lynch with a death valley driver onto Rowe’s knee. A Rowe powerbomb on Lynch was followed up by a top rope moonsault that connected! Rowe and Hanson piled on, but somehow Rob Lynch kicked out!
War Machine set up Davis for a forearm-assisted German suplex, but Davis rolled away and combined with Lynch for a slingshot spear on Rowe for another two-count. Rowe and Davis traded more stiff forearms, before Lynch ran in help Davis drop Rowe with two successive District Line powerbombs for the win. Well… how the hell do you summarise that? A lot of this match, to me, this seemed all over the place. We started with the Riots car-crash of old, added in some good tag team stuff, and then several parades of moves that you’d usually see from the smaller guys. This was better than their match at chapter 33, but I really sense that this came across a lot better in the building. ***¾
The duelling chants from the crowd continued after the match, as War Machine picked up the tag team shields and handed them over to the Riots. Two good matches from these guys, but after two losses for War Machine, I’m not sure if you could, or even how you’d come back and do a third. But hey, Rob Lynch took the mic and asked them to come back, then put over War Machine as one of the best tag teams in the whole world, and it looks like they will be doing a third match down the line.
The second half started with a “no contractions” chant, weirdly enough, as he bantered back and forth with a pregnant fan. If only the “this is labour” chant got going…
El Ligero vs. Jack Gallagher
Hey, Ligero got to use the Origin theme! He mocks the “yes” chants and then sells like a pro for a shove from a fan in a wheelchair at ringside. Top work Joe Atherton!
Gallagher got some streamers for his entrance, as Ligero mocked the fans’ “welcome home” chants. Ligero demanded he get another custom announcement, which included “he’s sold more foam fingers than you’ve had hot dinners”, as well as a threat to cut off Jack’s mustache at the end of the match.
Ligero refused to wrestle because the crowd were cycling through their usual chants at him, and once the bell rang, Ligero shook Gallagher’s hand and didn’t cheapshot him! We start with a wristlock from Ligero, but Gallagher works free and reverses the hold before trapping one arm behind Ligero’s back and going for an armbar. Gallagher leans back and gets a two-count from that pinning attempt.
Ligero gets a piggyback from the referee, as Chris Roberts had in an electric chair position, and they finally go back to action with a Ligero full nelson, which is easily reversed by Gallagher, who then puts the Full Nelson onto the horns of Ligero’s mask. A toe hold from Ligero takes Gallagher down, but he spins himself free and wraps into a ball to prevent Ligero from going for any more holds.
Gallagher offers a hand to Ligero – whilst still in a ball – and flips Ligero into the ropes. The masked man then returns the favour by tying himself up, and offers a hand… instead Gallagher just rolls him forward and sits on his back. Ligero grabs a headlock next, and wrenches it in on Gallagher, but he just handstands out of it.
Some rope running leads to a crucifix pin attempt, getting Gallagher a near-fall, and Gallagher looks to the crowd to admonish a fan who decried his moustache. Both men try for some near-falls, with some nice reversals before they roll around in a sunset-flip like position to confuse the hell out of the referee. Eventually they stop, and Gallagher snatches a two-count before they finally kick out.
Gallagher takes a back body drop in the corner, but he stays upside down on the turnbuckle, and refuses to drop back to his feet. Gallagher pops up, and Ligero does the same thing, but Gallagher just shakes the ropes to send Ligero back to the mat.
Ligero goes to the outside and leads Gallagher on a chase around the ring, avoiding Joe Atherton at ringside, and slides back in to get flipped into the corner. Gallagher misses a corner dropkick and takes an elbow as Ligero grabs the moustache and levels him with a forearm.
Ligero drops to the floor and grabs a pair of scissors from under the ring, but the referee blocks it and gives Gallagher an opening to grab a single-leg crab. Gallagher releases the hold as Ligero makes the ropes, so he goes to a stalling suplex, which Ligero rolls out of after 20 seconds, before Gallagher countered a C4L with a headbutt, then connected with a dropkick in the corner for the win. Once you took the ga-ga out of the match, this felt pretty short, but perfectly acceptable as Gallagher picks up another win against Origin members. ***
As Gallagher makes his way to the back, Dave Mastiff comes from the back and attacks him from behind, then throws Gallagher back into the ring. Ligero gives Mastiff the thumbs up, and lands the Mexican wave off the top rope. Mastiff grabs the scissors from Chris Roberts’ pockets, and Ligero makes a beeline for Gallagher’s facial hair again. Roberts actually steps into the ring and frees the scissors from Ligero’s hands, and runs to the back as his semi face-turn completes.
Mark Haskins & Laura Di Matteo vs. Jinny & Marty Scurll
This is a mixed-tag match, so it’s man vs. man, woman vs. woman (unlike the intergender match earlier), and its the women who start, as Jinny gets in Laura’s face, then shoves her… before rushing to tag out to Marty Scurll.
Laura has to tag out to Mark Haskins now – which leads me to a flaw in these kind of matches. If it’s men vs. men and women vs. women only, why does the “other party” have to tag out, especially if man-on-woman violence in these matches becomes a DQ?
Off my soapbox now, Scurll pats Laura on the head, and gets a huge slap for his troubles. I guess that’s not a DQ… but she quickly tags out to Haskins, and the pair start off by trading forearms. A snapmare and a low dropkick sends Scurll down, but the Villain replies with a slap, before a kick takes him to the mat.
Jinny kicks Haskins in the back, causing a distraction that Scurll capitalises on, dropping Haskins to the mat via an arm whip, before sending Haskins to the floor courtesy of a superkick off the apron. A back suplex onto the apron follows for Haskins, and eventually that gets Scurll a one-count, before he tries to wind up Laura. Jinny again interferes as she chokes Haskins in the corner whilst the referee was distracted, and Scurll gets a knee-drop after the choking had finished.
Scurll chops away at a kneeling Haskins, whose brief comeback ended with a hard Irish whip into the corner. Haskins surprises Scurll with a roll-up for a near-fall, but he gets his fingers snapped by the champion, then takes a couple of uppercuts into the corner as he retaliates with a dropkick out of the corner.
Jinny comes in and gets taken down with some clotheslines from Di Matteo, then a headscissor takedown, as Marty Scurll tried to come in… and took a ‘rana for his efforts. A boot to the face cuts off Jinny, who gets spiked with a tornado DDT by Laura for a near-fall. Laura gets sent into the turnbuckles with a Japanese armdrag, but recovers to drop Jinny with a missile dropkick from the top rope, before Marty Scurll held onto Jinny to ensure that a back cracker from Di Matteo got nothing.
Scurll ran into the ring to knock Haskins off the apron, which allowed Jinny to spike Laura with a draping DDT off the middle rope for another two-count. Scurll came in and teased a chicken wing on Laura, but a back elbow prevented it as Di Matteo tagged out to Haskins, who dropped him with a leg lariat.
Scurll nailed the “Just Kidding” superkick to Haskins, who recovered quickly to tease a dive to the outside. Jinny got on the apron to block it, but once Laura dropkick’d her to the floor, the road was clear for a pair of topes from the babyfaces. Back inside, Haskins rolls Scurll through into a sharpshooter, and holds onto it despite Jinny’s attempt to break it up. Laura cuts off Jinny with a Boston crab, but both of the heels grab the bottom rope to break it up.
Haskins blocked a chicken wing, but took a knee to the head, then a spinning double-underhook suplex for a near-fall. Scurll then motions to Jinny as if he wants her to do a piledriver… but instead, he tags out and lifts up Haskins in a tombstone. Haskins avoids the PROGRESS version of the Indytaker, and shoves Scurll into the turnbuckles to crotch Jinny.
A running knee sends Scurll outside, and Haskins tags in Laura who drops Jinny with a top rope ‘rana, but Scurll runs in to break up the cover. Haskins runs in and elbows Scurll, who then pulls Laura in front of him to take a superkick, and that lets Jinny steal the cover for the win. I quite enjoyed that – they didn’t give us too much of the Haskins/Scurll match, and the finish really played in with the “Villain” gimmick. ***¾
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay
Sabre’s head is all bandaged up having had some stitches after a match in Germany the prior day. He’s looking rather like former England defender Terry Butcher. Just without all of the blood. Sabre waves off some streamers that were tossed into the ring, as his entrance is kept deliberately low-key, as those streamers were largely intended for Will Ospreay.
From a tentative start, Sabre took down Ospreay with a toe-hold and moved it into a heel hook, then into a knee stretch. Ospreay rolls through and sends Sabre into the corner. On commentary, Glen Joseph drops in how Sabre got busted open by a German ringpost, whilst also throwing in that Ospreay/Vader match as a comparison.
Sabre ties up Ospreay in some body scissors, then grabs a double armbar, which Ospreay managed to reverse. Sabre freed himself by kicking away the arms, and then took Ospreay down to the ground for a Bow and Arrow hold, but Will quickly flipped out of it and into a cover for a one-count. Sabre grabs the wrist of Ospreay and wrenches at it, then wrings it whilst turning it into a hammerlock and eventually twists it with his legs.
Another wristlock gets Ospreay on the back foot, but he counters it eventually into a hammerlock, but Sabre frees himself and scores a snapmare, only for Ospreay to go back to the wrist. They run through the snapmare into a wristlock sequence multiple times, all with the same result, and the pair finally stand-off.
Sabre misses a PK as he looked to put Ospreay away. Ospreay took the advantage with a forearm to Sabre’s jaw, before a dropkick aimed a little higher at the taped-up head. A chop sent Sabre into the corner, as did an uppercut, before an attempt at something off the top rope was cut-off by an uppercut from Sabre.
With Ospreay still bent over the top rope, Sabre placed his head in front of the bottom rope, and kicked the rope into the back of Ospreay’s neck, sending the high flyer onto the mat with a sore head. Ospreay rolled away from a neck crank, but took an uppercut instead, before Sabre twisted Ospreay’s neck between his legs. A dropkick to the back of Ospreay’s head followed from Sabre, as did some headscissors, which Sabre rolled up from, and then turned it into a version of the old Lion Tamer submission.
A cravat keeps Ospreay at bay, but Will elbows free, only to take an uppercut from Sabre, who goes back to the cravat, forcing Ospreay to make the ropes. Sabre stomps away at the neck of Ospreay, and another comeback from Will ends with an uppercut, before Zack locks him up in a strait-jacket hold. Ospreay quickly flips backwards to reverse the hold, but Sabre’s judo throw to break free only sends Ospreay into the ropes for a handspring overhead kick! Ospreay gets backdropped onto the apron and kicks Sabre on the apron, before landing the Bloody Sunday reverse DDT for a near-fall, as Sabre’s bandage starts to loosen up.
Ospreay lands a jumping corkscrew senton for a near-fall, before a Rainmaker is caught and turned into a brainbuster by Sabre. Sabre’s attempt the corner punches almost led to a Cheeky Nandos kick, but Sabre slipped out and turned it into a heavily-torqued guillotine choke, sending Ospreay to the mat. Sabre missed a PK and took a roundhouse kick, before blocking an OsCutter and bridging back into a near-fall.
Sabre gets caught in a backslide for a near-fall, but he just slaps Ospreay after the kick-out, then falls into a standing Spanish Fly for another two-count. Ospreay keeps attacking the grounded Sabre with knees to the midsection, which earns him some boos from the crowd, who tell him “don’t be a dick”. You know the rules. Some of the fans actually chanted “be a dick”, so that led Will to drop Sabre with a PK, and Zack asks for some more.
Zack sits up and demands more PKs, before he slaps Ospreay out of the ring. A headbutt from Ospreay stuns Sabre, but only briefly as he countered a springboard with an uppercut, before a PK and a sit-out powerbomb gets him a two-count… as Sabre pulled him up, and teased the Young Boy Killer (the double arm crank whilst sitting on top of the opponent), but Ospreay worked free.
Sabre was caught and lifted into the corner for the Cheeky Nando’s kick to the midsection, before Sabre blocked the OsCutter and turned it into a Dragon Sleeper. That was transitioned into a roll-up for a two-count, as Ospreay kicked out and turned the tables with a standing shooting star press and a hattrick of moonsaults, before Phoenix splash saw him land in a triangle choke. Ospreay lifted him up, but Sabre flipped into the Octopus hold – and before RJ Singh could complete the name of the hold (“Hurrah! Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than The Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All to Happiness”… now you know why I just say “Octopus hold”!), Ospreay had given up and Sabre took the match! A fantastic match, nowhere near their best, but still really, really good. When you have these two guys together, you’re guaranteed greatness, and this was no exception, despite Ospreay being forced away from his “trademark” high-flying routines ****
The fact that the main event was criticised live just goes to show how spoiled a certain section of PROGRESS fans have become. Just because Ospreay vs. Sabre Jr. wasn’t a “five-star” match means that they had a bad match? Come off it folks… PROGRESS have taken some criticism as of late for their booking – for instance, there was very little, if any, reference made to the angle with Pastor William Eaver and Sebastian. Now, if that was say, an opening card angle, then fair enough, but since that kinda had a big hand in how Marty Scurll won the title back, you’d have expected something to have been said, even if it were just throwaway reference on commentary. With PROGRESS having moved their title back onto Marty Scurll at the last chapter, it’s clear that everything is now building towards their big show in Brixton.
At time of writing, only Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tommaso Ciampa has been completely confirmed, whilst matches for the PROGRESS World championship and the newly-created Atlas title will be confirmed after chapter 34 in Camden. One major name who won’t be on the card is Will Ospreay, who’ll be wrestling in Kobe for New Japan (in a card-opening six-man tag, as it happens). As for the rest of the card, with baited breath, we must wait. As Yoda never, ever said.