A historical show for PROGRESS as a seven-way main event crowned a new champion – and saw the return of a familiar face from the past.
#TLDR: So many great matches, in so little time. You NEED to see this show, if only for the eight minutes of awesomeness between Will Ospreay and Matt Riddle!
The Full Review: So… “the show where they crown a new champion” proved to be November’s hot ticket, with Camden almost selling out in under two minutes. Except for some PayPal snafus leading to the sell-out being delayed by an hour. Boo!
They opened the show with the closing moments of chapter 38 – When Men Throw Men At Men – with Mark Haskins leaving the PROGRESS title in the ring, and the subsequent promo that confirmed Haskins’ injury-enforced sabbatical.
What that left PROGRESS with was a predicament… one that was filled by a lopsided card with five matches in the first half, and two in the second; every winner in the first half would then qualify for a 7-way elimination main event. The winner of that match would take home the shiny PROGRESS title. Got it? Good!
FSU (Eddie Dennis & Mark Andrews) vs. South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper & Travis Banks)
The winners of this match would also be declared #1 contenders for the PROGRESS tag team titles, in addition to getting into the World title finale later on. FSU are a perfect curtain-jerking tag team, if only for their ring music geeing up the entire crowd, but they fell for some misdirection as Cooper and Banks came through the crowd for an attempted jumpstart… only to be sent flying to the outside. Dahlia Black tried to save her charges from a pair of dives, but Eddie Dennis took a slap and replied by crucifix powerbombing her onto Cooper and Banks outside.
When the bell finally rang, Dennis dropped Cooper with a stalling suplex for a two-count, before laying out Cooper with a stiff forearm shot. Travis Banks came in and almost immediately ripped open his ear after receiving a forearm from Dennis. No, Eddie’s forearms aren’t that violent (I hope!), but Banks was wearing a small plaster on his ear after it burst open on a show earlier in the weekend… and needless to say, the plaster didn’t hold up.
Cooper and Banks combined to take down Dennis for a near-fall, before Andrews got the tag in and landed a wheelbarrow roll-up to Cooper and a DDT to Banks for another two-count. The Kiwis quickly recovered as Banks turned Andrews inside out with a lariat as his ear started to leak quite badly, something made worse as Andrews hit a Stundog Millionaire to counter a double suplex. Eddie Dennis returned with more clotheslines, before he blasted the Kiwis with uppercuts and finally took them for a ride with a Samoan drop/fallaway slam combo. Banks saved TK from a crucifix powerbomb, before they combined to hit a pair of superkicks and a brainbuster to Dennis for yet another near-fall.
Andrews returned and hit a Side Effect, only to turn into a Black Thunder bomb from Cooper, who in turn took a swinging side slam. The tables kept turning as the action stayed fast-paced, ending with a double clothesline from Dennis to Banks and Cooper. FSU went flying once more with a pair of somersault sentons, and returned to the ring to hit the Next Stop Driver… but with the referee distracted, Dahlia Black came in and hit a blow blow before an assisted DDT earned the Power Trip the win. A fun, fast-paced opener which was exactly what this show needed. ***¼
Joe Coffey vs. Pastor William Eaver
The Pastor came to the ring by himself, before Sebastian came out to offer “moral support” at ringside. Cue groans when Seb’s music hit, as you’d expect…
When we got going, Coffey replied to the Pastor’s attempt to pray by using Eaver’s hand to beat out the rhythm of “Iron Man”. After a tope took out Eaver and Sebastian, a lot of this match was Eaver coming close to losing and Sebastian interfering – usually with Seb pushing the ropes towards the Pastor as he was caught in Boston crabs. Coffey shrugged off some forearms from the Pastor before both men went down to lariats at the same time, as the Scotsman then came close to a win with a double-jump crossbody. Eaver came back himself with a uranage backbreaker and a Fisherman’s suplex, then scored a near-fall from a crucifix powerbomb. From there, Coffey went back to the Boston crab and pulled Eaver into the middle of the ring – which prompted Sebastian to leap onto the apron to cause a distraction.
With the referee, and Coffey, taking their eye off the ball, Eaver snuck up behind the “Iron Man” and snatched the win with an O’Connor roll with a handful of trunks. A decent match, but it’s clear to see that the crowd are going off of Eaver with this forced alliance. **½
After the match, Sebastian congratulated the Pastor on getting him a place in the main event: yep, Sebastian’s first match in PROGRESS in over a year would end up being for the title. Cue chants of “bullshit” and more groans for what was a logical progression to this storyline.
PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: London Riots (Rob Lynch & James Davis) vs. British Strong Style (Pete Dunne & Trent Seven) (c)
This was the Riots’ first match in PROGRESS since losing the titles at Brixton – and Rob Lynch was out in a Cody Rhodes-esque face mask to protect him from a litany of injuries including what Glen Joseph on commentary described as a two-inch crack of his orbital bone. Crikey.
Trent Seven nonchalantly threw away the tag team title shield during his entrance, showing his disdain for the non-traditional championships before spending an age trying to shake someone’s hand. He wasn’t biting. Insert your favourite Pete Dunne finger-biting joke here!
This was a great quarter-hour of tag team wrestling – they opened up fast with James Davis taking Trent Seven to the outside with a shotgun dropkick, before a tope wiped out the champion, before a Rob Lynch spear nearly gave us a short match. We had a four-way biting spot after almost everyone chopped the ring post (cue chants of “save… the post”), as the action remained out in the ringside area. Seven took a cannonball off the apron from Davis, whilst Rob Lynch was dropped with a release suplex on the apron.
After some finger biting, James Davis was finally tagged in to knock down Trent with some lariats and an Exploder suplex, only for Dunne to come in and end that offence by grabbing the nose. The Riots made a comeback in the form of an attempted double Samoan drop from Davis, as Rob Lynch cleared house with a double clothesline, only to take a release suplex from Dunne. Lynch hit back when he blind tagged his way in as Trent thought he’d had the match won with a Samoan driver on Davis. The masked Lynch broke up the cover, then speared Seven off the apron before going airborne yet again, this time with a Spiral Tap that missed its mark, sending Rob crashing to the mat hard.
A long series of back-and-forth exchanges followed as they exchanged chops, clotheslines and even pop-up powerbombs amongst themselves, before Dunne took a District Line powerbomb that almost ended things. However, after kicking out, the cricket bat came into play as Dunne inadvertently took the bat to the face after Trent brought it in; but in the end, it was the bat that played into the finish.
As James Davis had the referee distracted in trying to get rid of said bat, Trent countered a Samoan drop by ripping off Lynch’s mask. After Pete Dunne bit Rob’s nose, leaving him trying to cover his face, Lynch was left open for a pump kick-assisted piledriver as the champions retained. ***½
After the bell, Trent Seven pushed away the tag team championship shield, before playing “peek-a-boo” with it and finally throwing it towards the commentary table as they made their way to the back.
Matt Riddle vs. Will Ospreay
Well, if this isn’t the best sub-ten minute match I’m going to see live, then I’ll have seen something special. I’m not going to lie, Matt Riddle was massively over the second his mere name was hinted at here. So much so that PROGRESS perma-babyface Will Ospreay got a smattering of boos.
Riddle blasted Ospreay with a leaping knee during the ring announcements, then landed a deadlift German that folded Will in half… to massive cheers! The first part of this match was like a squash match as Ospreay ate forearms, chops, knees and even a back senton to the face as Riddle came out all guns blazing. A Fisherman’s buster got another near-fall for Riddle as Ospreay finally made a comeback by countering a gutwrench and hitting an up-kick to get some separation. Will’s comeback continued in his trademark style, going airborne with a springboard forearm and then was backdropped to the outside, where he was followed by Riddle. That just gave Ospreay the chance to hit a moonsault press off the stairs in the Electric Ballroom, before Will raced back into the ring… and out again with a Space Flying Tiger Drop.
Back in, a slingshot corkscrew neckbreaker nearly won it for Ospreay, as did a standing shooting star press and a corkscrew moonsault, but then Ospreay kicked Riddle, and that turned the tide once more. Riddle no-sold that a la Shibata and fired back with a combination of punches and knees – which Ospreay returned in kind. Forearms came into it too, as Ospreay thought he’d landed a reverse ‘rana, only for Riddle to land on his feet and fire off a release German suplex. Ospreay landed on his feet from that too, and he kept Riddle down with a diving corkscrew kick, before going for an OsCutter… which Riddle blocked and turned into a jumping tombstone for a near-fall. From the kick-out, Riddle quickly ended things with some hard elbows to the head and finally the Bro-Mission (twister guillotine) for the submission.
That. Was. Incredible. Ospreay looked incredibly good in defeat, but what a debut from Matt Riddle – a man who stole the show in under ten minutes! If you have Demand PROGRESS… watch this. If you don’t, I assure you, the subscription fee is worth it for this match alone! ****½
Marty Scurll vs. Jimmy Havoc
So… I heard you liked Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg. Well, they did it again here – Jimmy Havoc played Goldberg, as the opening minute featured two spears and an Acid Rainmaker as Scurll managed to go one better than Lesnar and kick out.
From the kick-out, Scurll rolled to the floor and sandbagged himself as Havoc rolled him back in, before popping up for a tiltawhirl side slam. An apron superkick followed as Havoc went to the outside, where he was twice thrown into the crowd… but that didn’t stop Jimmy from sneakily having a swig of a fan’s beer! Havoc sprayed beer at Scurll, who was then thrown back into the crowd, then the ring post, and the video wall, before firing back with a shotgun dropkick, a half-nelson suplex and a Go To Sleep. Scurll kicked out after that, and replied with a superkick, the Glen Joseph Special slam into the ropes, and a swinging double underhook suplex.
After countering a Just Kidding with a superkick of his own, Havoc used a Pele kick to take the two-time champion down. From there, they went back and forth with their finishers – the Acid Rainmaker was turned into a Chicken Wing, which was then reversed only for Havoc to end up having his fingers snapped. Eventually though, Havoc got the better of Scurll with an Acid Rainmaker – but his errant arm knocked down the referee, and after a long visual pinfall, Scurll got up and reached for his umbrella again.
Wise to it, Havoc kicked Scurll low, then looked to get retribution… only to pull a trick out of the Eddie Guerrero playbook and hit himself with the brolly, before throwing it back to Marty. The referee got up in time to see the aftermath, and disqualified the Villain for it. Viva la Havoc! In spite of the storyline-riffic ending, this was a great outing for these men, continuing the run of good short matches in the first half of this show. ***½
Natural PROGRESSion Series – First Round – Katey Harvey vs. Nixon Newell
Oh, poor poor Katey. Her usual ring gear saw her wrestle in red, black and silver outfit with a single, silver sleeve. Cue chants from those who know a lot more about Marvel comics than I do of “You’re just a shit Winter Soldier”…
Yet another great sub-ten minute match here, as the two worked a technical match early on, reversing wristlocks and headlocks back and forth, before a single leg lariat took Harvey to the outside for an eventual PK off the apron from Newell. Harvey suplexed Newell into the turnbuckles, which is where the sleeve-based chants started to pipe up – as the Irishwoman continued to wear down Newell by torquing away on her wrist. Newell capitalised on the crowd distracting Harvey to schoolboy her for a near-fall, before the match descended into a striking battle once more, with the forearms and slaps ending when Newell landed an enziguiri.
After Newell missed a Shining Wizard, Harvey sent Nixon flying with an overhead Capture suplex, before a Pendulum submission almost forced Newell to give up. Harvey followed that with a curb stomp, before setting up for a belly-to-back piledriver, but Nixon used her knee to free herself and eventually got the win with the Shiniest of Wizards. I’d only seen Harvey before in her OTT WrestleCon outings, and this was much better than either of those – it’s a shame she’s out of the tournament, but I look forward to her returning to PROGRESS, hopefully sooner rather than later! ***½
Before the main event, the crowd stood and applauded Mark Haskins – who was apparently at the show as an agent, but didn’t appear in front of the crowd – as Glen Joseph made an appearance in one of the Miz’s old coats to bring the PROGRESS title belt to the ring.
Elimination Match for the PROGRESS World Championship: TK Cooper vs. Travis Banks vs. Sebastian vs. Pete Dunne vs. Trent Seven vs. Matt Riddle vs. Jimmy Havoc
This was history in the making, and really quite great as a main event. It’d have been hard not to have been!
Travis Banks had his head taped up a la Terry Butcher after his ear burst open earlier in the show… meanwhile, the ever-lovable Sebastian decided to go all Toru Yano on the crowd, emptying most of his water onto us… oh, and Jimmy Havoc’s entrance was curtailed as Marty Scurll wiped him out on the stage with countless umbrella shots, seemingly eliminating him before the match even started.
That left Riddle as the sole babyface and at a 5-on-1 disadvantage, and eventually started up against Sebastian after all of the other heels left him to fend for himself. All to the chorus of 700 people singing a version of Spandau Ballet’s “Gold” for Matt Riddle. Riddle blasted Sebastian with a running knee at the bell, before giving a grappling masterclass to the rest of the heels – Dunne took a rear naked choke, whilst Seven and Cooper fell into armbars, before Banks had a bit more luck, only to exit the same way as everyone else: by the ropes! The match entered a pattern where Riddle was targeted, before escaping as the rest of the heels ended up teeing off on each other – Dunne and Banks traded forearms, before a diving knee strike saw the Kiwi take Dunne out of the ring, only for Seven to hit back with a full nelson suplex and a brainbuster in short order on Banks.
Sebastian dropped Cooper with an STO, but was cut off from the “Greatest Move Ever” (the People’s elbow theatrics leading to a backheel) as Riddle ran in and blasted Seb with a jumping tombstone. Cooper got rid of Riddle, who then returned to blast Sebastian with a kick to the head after Seb teased a dive and just wound up the fans some more. Riddle followed up by giving the rest of the heels palm strikes on the outside, as a series of dives starts: Seven with a tope, then Banks, before Cooper hit a twisting moonsault off the top rope.
With everyone back in the ring, we had a Human Centipede of submissions – Dunne with the knee stomp to Cooper… Seven added a crossface before Banks wrapped Peter in a Dragon sleeper. Riddle added a rear naked choke to Banks, and then Seb… just took a couple of cheap shots. Wrestling!
Moments later we had our first elimination when Cooper ate the Bro to Sleep and a Fisherman’s Buster as Matt Riddle sent the Kiwi packing. Moments later, Riddle forced Trent to shriek in amazement as an overhead kick ended a brief exchange between the two, as Sebastian picked his spot on Trent with his Greatest Move Ever. After connecting with the backheel, Jack Sexsmith came out and caught Sebastian with Mr Cocko briefly, before Jimmy Havoc came out, blasted Seb with a Rainmaker for the next elimination.
Havoc was targeted by British Strong Style, who then looked to pick off Travis Banks – and sure enough, it was the bloody ear’d one who was next to go, after a headbutt battle with Trent on the top rope ended badly, as Seven drilled him with a piledriver off the middle rope for the three-count. Riddle disappointingly followed after he was targeted by the tag champions, with the pump-kick assisted piledriver resulting in the Bro’s elimination. Interestingly, the cameras picked up on Pete Dunne’s gestures towards Riddle as he took his hero’s exit.
That left Havoc in there with the tag team champions, and he gave it his all – but the numbers game was too much. Trent and Jimmy exchanged chops, before Pete Dunne ensured that his tag team partner didn’t come out on the losing end. Havoc ducked in time as they went for the uppercut-assisted Dragon suplex, as he followed up with a DDT to Dunne, before hitting an Acid Rainmaker at the third attempt to Seven. Despite kicking out at two, Seven had no answer for another Acid Rainmaker seconds later, which forced him out of the match.
So it was Jimmy or Peter for the title – and Dunne went straight in with a superkick and a Drop Dead; the reversal of which led to a ref bump as Havoc accidentally speared the referee. Another Drop Dead was turned into an Acid Rainmaker, but with the referee down Havoc could only get his second visual pinfall of the night, before Trent Seven kicked Havoc low and delivered another pump-kick piledriver just in time for Marc Parry to come in and make the count, with Havoc kicking out in time!
Parry was quickly thrown into the crowd by Seven after that, before Trent gave Jimmy another Dragon suplex. The tag champs set up for another pump-kick piledriver, but they were interrupted by the return of Tyler Bate. Bate came down as the champions cowered… but it was a ruse, as Bate turned around and slapped Havoc, before laying him out with a scoop tombstone piledriver. Trent and Tyler disappeared to revive the original referee, Chris Roberts, just in time for Dunne to hit the Drop Dead and make the cover. Pete Dunne is your new champion, Tyler Bate has gone to the dark side… British Strong Style is now three-men strong! ***¾
As a show, PROGRESS had a massive task on their hands after the injury-enforced layoff to Mark Haskins. In the space of a couple of hours, they scored a massive home run, in not only propelling a man in Pete Dunne to the title – an impressive feat given that he wasn’t really regular in the company until earlier this year – and also creating intrigue elsewhere over how the tag titles will play-out with a potential Freebird situation within British Strong Style. Add in that storylines were created for Sebastian/William Eaver (vs. Jack Sexsmith), whilst prolonging the Jimmy Havoc/Marty Scurll stuff without it feeling rushed, and you can see that PROGRESS took an unfortunate scenario and turned it around, big time.
Fantastic stuff for their last London show before Christmas – but they still have two more dates in 2016: running Sheffield in mid-December, then Camden one more time before New Year’s Eve.