PROGRESS’ debut at Brixton saw a plethora of new champions on a show that set plenty of tables for the future.
#TLDR: The biggest PROGRESS show to date in more ways than one. The biggest crowd. The longest run-time (and that’s with a match removed)… oh, and the biggest return possible. Brixton was home to a memorable night in British wrestling history, that’s for sure.
The Full Review: Let’s get the elephants in the room out of the way… firstly, this show “on demand” is nearly four hours long. Live, it was a lot longer (with intermission), and with a “match” edited out due to injury. We’ll get to that.
The show opens with an awesome music video set to Drake’s “Started From The Bottom” – the song usually plays before every PROGRESS show… but for this show, the company made use of the video screen to broadcast a montage of just about everybody involved in PROGRESS’ history. It’s even on YouTube, if you just like music videos in wrestling that don’t feature Creed…
From there, we’re cut to the live arena where Jim Smallman’s looks positively overwhelmed at ringside. The Brixton Academy looks absolutely massive on video, holding much more than the 323 tickets that PROGRESS sold for the first show back in 2012. Smallman toasts everyone who got the company to where they are now – fans, wrestlers, and those no longer with us (unfortunately, the 3-minute ovation that Kris Travis’ music got wasn’t shown).
We start the company’s biggest show ever with some Big Lads Wrestling! But first, the unveiling of the title belt, with Glen Joseph pulling the beautiful strap out of the bag.
Atlas Championship Finals: Rampage Brown vs. Joe Coffey
This was much more enjoyable on tape than it was live – Rampage started by taping Coffey into the corner and windmilled punches on him, only for Coffey to fire back with a diving dropkick. A couple of corner splashes from Coffey was countered by a spinebuster for a near-fall, only to be knocked to the outside after the Scotsman placed Rampage on the apron and hit an enziguiri.
On the floor, both men paced around, before clonking into each other with clotheslines, with powerslam from Coffey onto the floor. Back inside, Coffey gets a near-fall from a gutwrench suplex, and again with a diving dropkick. Rampage rolls to the outside for a breather, but when he returns to the ring he takes a couple of stomps before the pair tease a fly swatter and a piledriver.
A roll-up from Coffey leads to a brief Giant Swing that goes into a Boston crab. Rampage replies with a uranage after both guys clubbed away on each other, before they go back to chops and forearms. Both guys drop to the mat after some headbutts, before they get back to their feet and trade more clotheslines, ending with a German suplex from Coffey and a backdrop driver from Brown.
Coffey connects with a springboard cross body for a near-fall, before hitting a discus lariat for a near-fall. Rampage hit back by catching Coffey on the top rope and setting up for a Samoan drop off the middle rope, before a piledriver in the middle of the ring only got him a near-fall. They tease a superplex, but instead Rampage yanks down Coffey off the top rope for a second piledriver, and that’s enough. A fantastic “big lad’s wrestling” match, hard hitting without getting too cliched. ***½
After the match, Rampage held his fist out for Coffey, who swatted it away and instead went for a hug.
Jim Smallman’s next bit was to dedicate the show to those who told him “he’d never amount to anything” and those that said “wrestling was stupid… it’s not stupid, it’s f**king awesome!”
Dahlia Black, Alex Windsor & Jinny vs. Nixon Newell, Laura Di Matteo & Pollyanna
The best part of Dahlia and TK’s entrances are everyone else… trying to look away from the couple making out in the ring! There’s a lot of flipping off in the heel’s entrances, but leave it to Jinny to extract heat! By the way, the sight (and sound) of 2400 people singing along to B*Witched is bizarre enough… even more so when it’s wrestling fans doing it!
The match opens with the women matching up according to their last feuds – Newell and Windsor had the opening exchanges, featuring a stiff slap from Windsor, a bunch of hiptosses before stereo dropkicks lead to a neckbreaker from Newell. They tag out, so we get Dahlia and Pollyanna, which started with some armdrags.
Pollyanna ducks a kick from Dahlia, then chops her, only for Dahlia to rush into the corner with a knee strike then a diving dropkick. A second set of knees miss in the corner, as Pollyanna gets some leaping knees to the back of Dahlia, which lead us to more tags: Jinny vs. Laura. Di Matteo launches into her former boss with forearms, then armdrags, before another tag sees Pollyanna use Laura as a human battering ram for an assisted dropkick.
TK Cooper interferes by holding back Pollyanna as she went to charge at Jinny, which opened the door for the heels. Windsor and Dahlia targetted Pollyanna, with the latter choking her in the rope, before a brief comeback was cut-off as Dahlia whipped Pollyanna into Jinny, who used a Japanese armdrag to send Pollyanna into the turnbuckles.
Pollyanna catches Alex Windsor on the top rope with a flying armdrag, before Di Matteo got the hot tag and took down Jinny with some clotheslines and a tiltawhirl headscissors. A tornado DDT takes down Jinny out of the corner for a near-fall, then lands a missile dropkick… only for Jinny to pop up and get a front kick that forced Nixon Newell to make the save.
Jinny caught Laura off the top rope and landed a Style Clash (typo intentional!) in the middle of the ring for a near-fall, before a running kick to the head set up Jinny and Dahlia for a wheelbarrow DDT on Laura for another near-fall. A flying crossbody from Newell sent Jinny and Dahlia down, but Dahlia’s effort to cut-off Newell as she ran into a cornered Jinny lead her to attack her own partner by mistake.
A tornado DDT from Windsor was blocked as Pollyanna and Newell instead dropped Alex with an elevated facebuster. The Pollinator takes down Jinny, but Dahlia ran in and landed a kick before Cooper got in the ring… and accidentally laid out Dahlia with a punch as Jinny had the referee distracted. A low blow to Cooper’s followed by the Nos Da on Black, only for Windsor to grab a Blue Thunder Bomb, then Di Matteo with a Back Cracker on Windsor. That parade ended with a Facelift (middle rope X-Factor) from Jinny on Di Matteo, and that’s enough to get the win. Perfectly fine match, with the parade of moves actually leading to the end, rather than just being a spot in the middle of the match. ***½
We then had the “missing scene” which was the deleted “match” between Pastor William Eaver and Sebastian. Nothing was shown here – no video packages, no entrances and definitely no injury. Apart from mentions on the back of t-shirts, this match didn’t exist. Instead, we jump cut to the next match as Jim Smallman looked to hype up a shocked crowd.
PROGRESS Tag Team Championships: British Strong Style (Pete Dunne & Trent Seven) vs. London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) (c)
Rob Lynch was effectively wrestling with one eye after getting a cut eyelid during PROGRESS’ trip to Canada the prior weekend. Trent Seven capitalises on this by offering the champions to relinquish their title “because they’re not very strong style”. Lynch tells them they’ll have to fight, and that they do, with Dunne immediately going for the injured eye.
The challengers hit simultaneous suplexes, but the Riots immediately pop up and clothesline Dunne to the outside, before Seven eats a shoulder tackle. Dunne runs in and takes a double team spinebuster, before he hooked himself in the ropes and got tossed to the outside, and was met by an accidental tope from Seven. The Riots followed with topes of their own, and thus started a spell of action around the ring.
Trent thought he’d outsmarted Lynch – who’d ducked to avoid a chop – by chopping Lynch’s back rather than the post. Second time wasn’t as lucky, as Seven chopped the ringpost anyway! Dunne ended up palm-striking the post as he went for Davis, and all four men ended up trading strikes on the floor.
Everyone ended up grabbing seats from the crowd and sat down for a “good, old-fashioned slug”. The Riots then sat their opponents in chairs by the apron, and crashed into them with cannonball dives off the apron, but Pete Dunne capitalised on Davis’ slow return to the ring with a hangman’s DDT for a near-fall. Dunne snacks on Davis’ fingers, but he gets T-bone suplexed into the corner as Glen Joseph managed to sneak in his customary Rick Martel reference.
After a death valley driver on Seven, Lynch found himself raked in the injured by by Dunne, but Davis quickly retaliated with an Air Raid Crash. Seven took one too, which was combined with a back senton onto Dunne, in a bump that just had to suck. A half-nelson suplex took down Davis, before Seven took a belly-to-belly from Lynch. Another feat of strength saw James Davis dump both challengers at once with a double Samoan drop, before a series of clotheslines saw Rob Lynch come out on top.
More finger biting from Dunne ends up with Lynch lunching on Seven, then Seven biting on Davis as we had a bitey version of the Human Centipede! Four forearm smashes, then four chops send everyone onto their knees, before the challengers hit a pair of Germans and then take a pair. A pair of pop-up powerbombs knock the challengers down, before Dunne takes a District Line powerbomb for a near-fall.
Lynch nearly won it with a spear on Dunne, before the challengers took down Davis with a double headbutt. Dunne then Seven hit suplexes on Lynch, then a series of chops, before an uppercut-assisted Dragon suplex got Dunne a near-fall. Rob Lynch took a double-team rake to the injured eye, but overcame it to take down the pair with a spear. The end came when referee Chris Roberts was almost taken out with a pop-up spear, but in the melee, Pete Dunne donkey-kicked James Davis, before Rob Lynch took a cricket bat handle to the eye. That left him open for a kick-assisted piledriver, and the new team of British Strong Style won the belts! That was incredible – from a cold crowd, they slowly won everyone over and finished with a heck of a sprint. Amazing stuff. ***¾
Returning from intermission, we had a different ring canvas – with the white “ENDVR” canvas having been used for the first half. The crowdfunded “everyones’ name on it canvas was on for the marquee matches.
Jim Smallman’s second half speech called out the cameramen who were sporting “UNSUNG HERO” t-shirts, which was a nice touch for them. The ring crew were also called out, and they’d have a bit of a role to play later on. But before we can get doing, Jim’s interrupted by the returning Paul Robinson!
Everyone remembered the customary greeting for Robinson, who hadn’t been seen anywhere in PROGRESS since beating Mike Hitchman in a chain match on an ENDVR show back in May. Robinson gets the mic and tells the crowd to shut up, unless they want the Zack Sabre Jr. match cancelled… Robinson was mad not to have been booked on the show, and he refuses to leave unless he has a fight. So we have an impromptu match…
Paul Robinson vs. Chuck Mambo
It’s raining beach balls in Brixton! Robinson spits in Mambo’s hand, and gets a superkick for his troubles. Mambo follows up with a springboard somersault dive to the floor, taking out Robinson, who cut off another springboard and went to work with his windmilling punches.
From there, it’s all Robinson – biting, kicking and kneeing Mambo in the corner – before Mambo takes down the “pitbull” of PROGRESS with a Blockbuster neckbreaker. A top rope elbow takes down Mambo, as does a double stomp and a double knee-drop, and this is all one-way folks.
Robinson fish-hooks Mambo’s nose, as the crowd start to chant “he buys his jeans from Mothercare”. That just earns the crowd a few snot rockets, and Mambo a long dripping spittle on his chest. A slap from Mambo is returned, as Robinson yanks off his necklace. Mambo gets another bit of hope with a springboard Meteora, but Robinson unloads with a series of knees that actually bust open Mambo’s eyebrow.
More knees draw more blood, before a step-up kneedrop and a curb stomp ends this brutality. A glorified squash, but it was good to see some guys who’d perhaps been forgotten from PROGRESS in recent times. **¾
After the match, Robinson gets in to the face of “that guy in the Carlito apple t-shirt” that’s at all fo the Camden shows, which eventually prompts the ring crew to get inbetween them.So Robinson just flips off the commentary team instead, which was harsh… they’re not the worst crew who commentate on his stuff!
They play a video that recapped the Zack Sabre Jr/Tommaso Ciampa feud, featuring their match from last year’s Super Strong Style 16 tournament, and last year’s debut in Manchester.
Two-out-of-Three-Falls: Tommaso Ciampa vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Ciampa got a standing ovation for his entrance, as a load of fans had “PSYCHO KILLER” signs to commemorate his final independent match before going full time to WWE/NXT.
Ciampa stalls a lot at the start of the match, which was a smart way to somewhat heel him to a crowd that was begging to cheer him. This started out as a grapple heavy match, with Sabre going for armbars early on. A lot of holds, a lot of reversals, but not much in the way of a clear advantage.
Sabre clings onto the ropes as Ciampa tossed him outside, but a knee strike took Zack to the floor, where he was given a couple of chop. Ciampa looked to suplex Sabre on the floor, but instead it was countered into a heavily torqued wristlock. That’s returned as Ciampa takes Sabre around ringside, and then walks into the crowd for a massive run-up that leads to a knee strike on the apron. Back inside, Sabre shocks Ciampa with a double armbar, but he’s too close to the rope, so the hold’s broken… and Sabre stamps on Ciampa’s shoulder to a chorus of boos.
Sabre again targeted the left arm of Ciampa with holds and kicks, before stamping on it from a hammerlock. More wrist manipulation follows, before Ciampa counters an armbar by picking up Sabre and thrusting him head first into a turnbuckle. Ciampa looks for an Air Raid Crash off the top rope, but Sabre escapes, only to take the move in the middle of the ring for a near-fall.
Ciampa misses a Project Ciampa, and almost gets the first fall with a PK and a handful of tights. A knee trembler gets countered as Sabre gets a jack-knife roll-up for a near-fall, before an armbar is eventually escaped out of by Ciampa. Sabre gets a triangle armbar, but Ciampa picks him up and turns it into the Project Ciama for another two-count.
The pair trade a litany of strikes back and forth, before a reversal to a roll-up is sort-of-blocked, and we end up with a double pin! Chris Roberts counts both men’s shoulders down, and the announcement of a double pin – hence a 1-1 draw – annoys the crowd. Why? You just saw a lengthy first-fall, what did you want? A lucha-style 30 second first fall?!
The final fall started with a big boot from Sabre, then one from Ciampa, before Sabre gets an armbar, but somehow it’s countered into a crossface, and gets rolled through as Ciampa has Sabre caught in the middle of the ring. Sabre scoots his way to the bottom rope to break the hold, and the pair end up on the apron where Sabre again stamps on the wrist.
A tornado DDT from Sabre’s rolled through as the Brit grabs a guillotine, but Ciampa gets free and drops Sabre on the top turnbuckle before finally getting that Air Raid Crash. Somehow, Sabre got straight back up into an armbar, but was met with the typical WWE response to such a no-sell… a Pedigree! Sabre kicked out at two from that, and again from a Knee Trembler.
After both men took their time to get back to their feet, Sabre slipped around and got a German suplex for a one-count, then a PK. And another… but only for a two-count. Sabre takes him to the top rope, but an attempt by Ciampa to powerbomb Sabre down is blocked at first… as he then counters an armbar into a Project Ciampa off the top rope! Sabre kicked out at two somehow, but both men needed to use almost all of the standing ten count to get back to their feet.
Ciampa slaps Sabre repeatedly, but gets a receipt, before Sabre catches him in an armbar… Ciampa escapes, but Sabre wraps him in the Octopus hold (with the really long name… “Hurrah! Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than the Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All to Happiness”). That’s turned into the double armbar, and back into a grounded Octopus as Sabre finally forces the tap-out. Much, much better on tape that live… a fantastic match befitting the honor of Tommaso’s final indy match. ****¼
Sabre exited the ring after sitting down next to Ciampa, who got the obligatory “thank you Ciampa” and “you deserve it” chants.
The Origin (Nathan Cruz, Zack Gibson, El Ligero & Dave Mastiff) vs. FSU (Eddie Dennis & Mark Andrews), Damon Moser & Jack Gallagher
The stipulation here is if the Origin lose, they disband… but the takeaway was the entrances, where Zack Gibson got showered with roll after roll of toilet paper. Ah, memories of Jimmy Rave…except with Ligero and Mastiff doing snow angels in the sea of loo roll.
The babyfaces jumped the Origin during Gibson’s intro, and we quickly had our first dives as FSU hit a double tope con hilo onto the pile outside the ring. They quickly go into the crowd, as the ring is an afterthought, with Gallagher and Gibson staying closest to it.
Andrews and Ligero fight through the crowd, whilst Mastiff trolls the fans by teasing that he’d throw Eddie Dennis into them. Dennis ended up throwing the big guy into those fans, whilst Mark Andrews climbed onto a small balcony and moonsaulted onto Cruz, Ligero and Moser below. That was caught live by a fraction of the crowd, but was picture-perfect on video.
Finally in the ring, Gibson and Gallagher got to work, with a crucifix pin getting the Gentleman a near-fall, before a spinning leg flip sent the Scouser into the corner. Andrews countered a Gibson suplex into a stunner, before going after Cruz, who landed the Show Stolen. Cruz went after Dennis next, and that just gave the massive Welshman a chance to show off with an attempted fallaway slam/Samoan drop combo, but Ligero cuts him off.
Damon Moser gets involved with a suplex into an over-the-knee neckbreaker, before Ligero used referee Joel Allen to create a distraction so he could low blow Moser. Jack Gallagher comes in and ties up Ligero in a ball, a move that was called “Bloody Love The Graps, Me”. So Gibson and Cruz both get a taste of “Bloody Love The Graps, Me”, and acted as stools for a rest for Gallagher and FSU. Dave Mastiff runs in, but he doesn’t Bloody Love The Graps, and instead has the unenviable task of rolling over his partners to undo those balls of humanity.
Moser’s attempt to fly in with a clothesline sees him swatted down with a clothesline from Mastiff, who seemed to give him the “who was he?” treatment that Shawn Michaels gave Snitsky way back at Survivor Series. Ligero mouthed off at Moser in the corner, thinking he had the Origin’s backing… but they’d all been dispatched as he was left alone four-on-one.Ligero takes a buckle crucifix bomb/enziguiri combo, before Gallagher’s running dropkick into the corner was blocked as Joel Allen was pulled in the way.
Allen threatened to disqualify Ligero… so the Mexican Sensation flips him off, and gets the World’s Worst Stunner as retribution. It got a masive pop from the crowd, as Ligero ate a Knee trembler, then the result of what’d happen if a Next Stop Driver and a Shooting Star Press had a baby. Just before the three count, Nathan Cruz pulled out the referee, which led to attempts from Andrews and Moser to take him down.
A parade of kicks led to Gibson taking down Dennis with a Codebreaker, before a Jack Gallagher headbutt knocked both men down. Gibson rolled through a schoolboy to get the Shankly Gates on Gallagher, but it’s quickly escaped as Gallagher sends him into the corner. Jack misses a dropkick but gets a roll-up for a near-fall, before Dave Mastiff blasted him with a car stereo from the kick-out. From there, it was elementary as Gibson blasted Gallagher with the Helter Skelter (spin-out suplex) for the win. An unpopular result, but the man with the most heat in the company keeps the Origin alive as Gallagher went out on his back. A wild car-crash of a match, but this served its purpose. ***½
Gallagher was visibly in tears after the match, with the crowd’s chant of “thank you Jack” not doing much to stem the tide.
Jim Smallman announced here that PROGRESS would be returning to the Brixton Academy in September 2017, filling the spot of the “venue TBA” show from that list of dates they announced in August. That led into the music video for the main event, and the entrances, which bizarrely featured a quartet of women with umbrellas dancing to “Singin’ in the Rain” for Marty Scurll.
PROGRESS World Championship: Tommy End vs. Mark Haskins vs. Marty Scurll (c)
Painted as “the Villain’s past catching up to him”, this triple threat started with End catching Haskins with a forearm as all three went at it. Haskins goes for the roll-through Sharpshooter early on, before Scurll tries a chicken wing, with End’s attempted head kick completing the hattrick.
After Haskins gets thrown to the outside, End and Scurll work for a brief spell, but Scurll’s attempt to superkick Haskins on the apron goes wrong as the champion’s pulled to the floor. Haskins hits a pair of topes onto End and Scurll, and it wasn’t long before we had a three-way spot, as Scurll hit a sunset flip on End, before Haskins broke it up with a crucifix-like roll-up on the champion.
Haskins stomps down on Scurll’s arm, before hitting a low dropkick that flips Scurll inside out. That’s followed up as Haskins catches End in an abdominal stretch whilst grapevining Scurll’s leg… but End escaped and hit a double stomp on the exposed champion. End had a fun time kicking away at Haskins, before a knee to the back of the head gets the Dutchman a near-fall.
Scurll catches End on the top rope and brings him down with a superplex, before Haskins gets his superkick from the apron. In response, Scurll runs into the crowd to celebrate, just like Bo! Haskins bounces off the apron and rope with a back suplex, before a quick bodyslam from the champion keeps him on top.
Haskins finally fired back with a dropkick, but before he could capitalise on Scurll, he turned into a head kick from End. An attempt at a finger snap is cut-off by Haskins – to some boos – and he’s the victim of a double stomp and a knee to the midsection from End. More kicks from End leads to a release German suplex that puts Haskins on his belly, with a running knee leading to a bridging German to Scurll that forced Haskins to break the count.
Another series from Haskins leads to a roll through into a death valley driver for a near-fall, before he rolls through into an armbar as Scurll breaks it up by flipping Haskins out of the hold. Scurll grabs a chicken wing on End, and as End rolled onto his front, Haskins slips back into catch Scurll in the armbar.
Scurll runs in to break up the pin after Haskins hits the Made in Japan (pumphandle driver) on End. A long-running clothesline decks Haskins, but End takes a superkick and a powerbomb for a near-fall, as a second lariat gets Scurll another two-count. Both challengers take a series of chops and forearms, before they fire back and deck Scurll with a double “just kidding” superkick, and ultimately take each other down with bicycle kicks.
Scurll heads under the ring and grabs an umbrella and throws it in the ring. And another. And another. And another. So many in fact, the crowd chant “it’s not raining”… although Tommy End would wish it was, as he took an umbrella to the head. And so did Haskins, as Scurll countered a Sharpshooter with one. Another Sharpshooter saw Haskins saved by a roundhouse kick from End, but the Dutchman only got a two-count, before grabbing a table from under the ring.
The table’s set-up as End looks to drop Scurll through it, but a poke to the eye saves the champion’s bacon. Scurll tries for a piledriver off the apron, but that’s blocked, as is End’s attempt at a suplex. Mark Haskins runs in to attack them both, and lands a pair of knee strikes, before he ends up being suplexed out through the table.
As Haskins laid dead on the table, Scurll and End returned to the ring, but a flash brainbuster from End got a two-count. Scurll countered a second with a finger snap, which actually reverberated around the Academy (which is impressive given that bumps and referee orders were largely inaudible). End just popped them back in, but that time allowed Scurll to try for a chicken wing, only for Scurll to turn it into some Bryan Danielson-esque elbows and then the chicken wing.
A frustrated Scurll grabbed another umbrella and waffled End over the head with it multiple times… until another finger snap and a belt shot led to a tombstone piledriver… but End kicked out! Scurll berates the referee for a perceived slow count, so Chris Roberts takes an umbrella to the ribs.
Joel Allen comes out after Scurll hit a second Gotch-style tombstone, and after counting a two-count, Allen gets… an umbrella to the back. That had to suck… and you can guess what happened when Marc Parry came out as the final ref once Scurll’d hit a Gotch piledriver. End kicks out, “Paz” gets whacked repeatedly with an umbrella, and we’re now all out of refs!
Jim Smallman and the ring crew try to intervene, with David Francisco taking a brutal umbrella shot that led to part of the handle flying into the crowd. Smallman gets cornered by Scurll… and then… and then…
About two and a half thousand fans in Brixton went insane as the opening verse of AFI’s “I Hope You Suffer” hit. Out comes Jimmy Havoc, and I’m not ashamed to say I got goosebumps watching this back. This was Havoc’s first appearance in PROGRESS for over a year, and his involvement was to flip-off Scurll and deliver an Acid Rainmaker! Havoc grabs the PROGRESS title and throws it to Smallman before heading to the back.
With Havoc gone, Tommy End wipes out a recovered Mark Haskins with a tope con hilo, then goes to the top rope for a double stomp, but Scurll and another umbrella cuts off the Dutchman. Haskins ducks another umbrella shot, then takes down Scurll with a Sharpshooter… he leans all the way back, and Scurll’s got no choice but to tap out. New champion! And 2,400 fans erupt twice in quick succession! This was a match of two halves – the three-way stuff was largely by-the-book stuff, but without being too vanilla; once we got to the stage where Scurll lost his mind, it picked up, and that finishing sequence managed to get Haskins over without being overshadowed by the return of a star. ****
Mark Haskins celebrates with the title as the show went off the air… and that was it for PROGRESS’ biggest night. The biggest crowd, the biggest title match, and at a hair under four hours, the longest “normal” show in history. In recent chapters, the running time has been creeping up… hopefully now this “volume” of chapters has come to an end, we can go back to having shows that barely touch the three hour mark!
As an event – it lived up to the hype, and given that we’re in an era where big shows tend to be so overhyped they are perceived as a failure, this has to go down as one of, if not the best PROGRESS card in their history.