Filed under T for Tardy, here’s our look at a rather frenetic Electric Ballroom show from PROGRESS – inspired by some out-of-touch guy’s rantings.
Yep, Abe Simpson’s behaviour provided the title for this show, which started, as usual, with the Jim Smallman banter beforehand acting as interrogation (of sorts) for any newbies.
James Drake vs. Damon Moser
Drake jumped Moser as he tried to enter the ring, and this match started on the outside as Drake clubbed away on Moser’s back. They headed into the crowd where Moser took an uppercut, but Moser fought back, smashing Drake’s head into the apron before throwing Drake into the ringpost.
Moser followed up with a knee trembler off the apron before they finally headed into the ring. Another knee trembler gets a near-fall as Drake put his foot on the rope. Drake came back with an enziguiri and a roll-up for a two-count, before a DDT attempt was countered with Drake being sent into the corner for some more clubbering blows. A massive forearm from Drake cut-off Moser’s running forearms in the corner, before landing an implant DDT for the win! The bell didn’t ring, which suggested that this was an unexpected finish… perhaps brought on by the fact that Moser actually broke his jaw in this match. Fun while it lasted (Not Rating)
Natural PROGRESSion Series: Dahlia Black vs. Martina
The last of the first round matches in the Natural PROGRESSion Series saw a bit of a reunion between these two, who had battled a little over a week earlier for Pro Wrestling EVE. Yep, TK’s always going to be creepy staring into the camera as he makes out with Dahlia…
Martina started running the ropes and winded herself… so she reached for a cigarette, then another, before pulling out a pack from her jacksie. Dahlia slapped it away, so she got slapped down, before Martina blasted her with a German suplex, despite some help from TK Cooper.
A delayed vertical suplex followed, as Dahlia was forced to roll outside to avoid a Bronco Buster from the Session Moth. She tries a dive, which wipes out TK who then gets a ride afterwards as Dahlia spears Martina off of TK. Another dive takes out both Kiwis, before TK tries to interfere… and just gets his face eaten off by Martina for his troubles.
Dahlia orders TK away since he was more of a distraction than anything, then goes back to work on Martina with a snapmare then a kick to the back. They brawl outside for a spell, with Martina getting thrown into the ringpost, before Dahlia poured a can of beer over Martina. Well, beer’s meant to be good for the hair…
The beer can acts like spinach for Martina though, as she headbutts Dahlia before making a comeback with clotheslines, ending up with the Bronco Buster in the corner. A second Bronco Buster’s blocked by a boot, leading commentator Glen Joseph to comment that “I don’t know how that feels”. Martina sprays beers in Dahlia’s face as she came off the top rope, but some got the referee too, just in time for TK to come back and punch out Martina so Dahlia gets her spot in the next round. This was alright – a good debut for Martina, whom I wouldn’t be surprised to make a return given how much she’s getting about the UK scene these days. **¾
Jordan Devlin vs. Travis Banks
He’s back again… TK Cooper reappeared, this time making out to a photo of Dahlia Black, since she was in the back after having just wrestled. Like Dahlia before, Travis sent TK to the back, and it looks like the Kiwi is the defacto babyface here as the “home” guy.
A nice technical start sees Devlin look to get the advantage, but in truth neither guy can maintain much as they score with headlock takedowns, only for the other to quickly get back to a vertical base. Cue chants of “your head’s too big for you” as the crowd make references to the Funko Pop Finn Balor, before a leapfrog from Travis Banks and a trip-up lead to some near-falls as both men remained even.
Devlin knocks down Banks with an enziguiri – bringing back memories of the injury he dealt to Martin Stone/Danny Burch at the UK Championship tournament that busted the Londoner’s head open, but after being slapped back to life, Banks turned Zombie and drilled the Irishman with a series of forearms. Banks scores with a diving knee after a reverse legsweep took down Devlin, then followed up with a cannonball in the corner as Glen Joseph creased up on commentary after hearing the chant of “you’re going to get your massive head kicked in”.
A roll-up into a superkick, then a brainbuster gets a near-fall, giving the crowd a chant to run through their Rolodex of chants, adapting them to Devlin’s bonce. Speaking of, Devlin kicked Banks into the corner, then dumped him with a back cracker out of the corner, then a Tiger suplex, getting only a two-count out of that neck dropping goodness. Banks recovered with a leaping clothesline, then a screwdriver for a near-fall as the pair just descended into laying into each other with forearms instead.
Devlin surprises Banks with a Pele-like kick, before following with a tope con hilo as Banks had rolled to the outside for cover. Banks then delivered a tope of his own, sending Devlin into at least the fourth row with the impact of that, and it looks like the landing ruptured Travis’ cauliflower ear as the ref stuff started to make an appearance whilst he kicked away at Devlin… but despite that, Banks quickly followed up with his springboard roundhouse out of the corner for the win. That was a thing of beauty – and as much of a fan I am of Travis Banks, Jordan Devlin more than played his part. ****
Interestingly, after the match TK Cooper and Dahlia Black emerged – and their very appearance soured the crowd a bit. Perhaps a split may be in the future for this Kiwi trio?
Next up was an appearance from Sebastian, as he demanded some microphone time to address what happened with him and Pastor William Eaver at Tropic Thunderbastard. Cue a handful of fans leaving, and the usual Sebastian reaction, as this time he came out with a home-made Kendo stick, featuring B&Q’s finest garden canes.
Sebastian reminds us he was “assaulted before the bell” by Pastor William Eaver before recapping the events that a lot of the fanbase want to forget. He calls out the Pastor, under threat of having him arrested for that assault, and indeed, Eaver does make an appearance as he’s ordered to kneel down and take his lashings.
Before Sebastian can swing though, we have a run-in… with Chuck Mambo and his magical book! He borrows Glen’s glasses (so perhaps he’s the one who’s taken the Pastor’s bible?!) After a cheap pop, Chuck tells us he’s been to the library and he’s read a lot of books, particularly some from the law section. Apparently the statute of limitations has run out, and so Sebastian (who got some more comeuppance from the fans), so he has no legal grounds to press charges over what happened in Brixton.
Cue massive cheers, and as Mambo leaves, we see the Pastor getting in Jim Smallman’s ear – and it seems he’s had an idea. We’ve got an impromptu match, and it’s a no-DQ match. For once, the fans correctly use the “you deserve it” chant!
No Disqualification: Sebastian vs. Pastor William Eaver
This was the match they were meant to have back in Brixton last September before the injury… so let’s see how this goes. Sebastian starts by attacking Eaver from behind, before a back elbow cuts off a Kendo stick shot. A faked-out dive just enrages Sebastian, who goes under the ring for a steel chair, but he flips off the Pastor as he tries to leave.
The ring crew stop Sebastian from taking a walk, and that just leaves everyone’s favourite swear word open for a holy dive! Sebastian slides into the ring as the Pastor checked on the ring crew, but he ends up flinging a chair at the Pastor as he tried to springboard back into the ring. Another chair comes into play as the Pastor gets smashed in the back, then avoids having his arm Pillman-ised, as Sebastian throws some more chairs at the Pastor, bloodying up his right eye. Already, this is BRUTAL.
Sebastian follows by a big boot to a chair that was on top of the Pastor, sending both men to the outside as Seb soaked up some more abuse from the crowd. He’s caught playing to the crowd though, and he’s quickly subject to a world of hurt, courtesy of a running crucifix bomb that sent Seb almost to the back of the crowd! Yep, he flew further back than Jordan Devlin…
They returned to the ring as Sebastian had climbed into a chair… the Pastor opens one up and sits opposite him, and we have a good old-fashioned slap-fight! That ends when Seb goes all vampire and bites away at Eaver’s cut, so the Pastor just replies with a uranage through a chair. Which didn’t budge. Seems fair.
From there, the Pastor winds up for the Clothesline from Heaven, but a kick to the balls stops him in his tracks. Sebastian drapes the Pastor across the middle rope, then tapes him to those ropes… although one hand quickly breaks free as the crucifixion takes place, but the Pastor is still helpless to avoid a barrage of Kendo stick shots, with the shots going so hard and fast that the cane shattered and flew into the crowd.
Referee Chris Roberts pulls back Sebastian as Eaver finally freed himself, then rushed in with a Pope-ish Hammer as the Pastor’s back bled from the cuts inflicted by the shattered Kendo stick. Sebastian comes back with a lariat for a near-fall after he’d hit a Go To Sleep-esque knee strike, before Seb goes for a Twisting Unprettier… but the Pastor slips out and hits the Clothesline from Heaven, and we are done! The crowd erupt, and in a nice, lawsuit-avoiding touch, Eaver rolls Sebastian into the recovery position to boot. Hah! This was brutal, hard-hitting, and everything you’d want to end a blood feud such as this one. ***½
After the match, Jim Smallman gathered the ring crew as he led one final cry of “fuck off Sebastian”, before the crew dragged Sebastian out of the ring and to the back.
Shane Strickland vs. Mark Andrews
They start slowly as Strickland deliberately takes down Andrews with an armbar, but the Welshman eventually works out into a toe-hold that Strickland countered into another grounded armbar that turned into a pinning combination.
Slowly, the tempo raises as Andrews goes for some armdrags, then trips Strickland before going for a headlock, only for the American to roll up into a dropkick after some swift kicks from the mat. An atomic drop backbreaker gets Strickland a near-fall, as does a leaping back-kick to a kneeling Andrews, who replies with a step-up ‘rana after Shane had slid towards him.
Strickland goes to the outside, but he rolls back in and hits a rolling cutter to counter a dive from Andrews, before flipping to the floor and into a superkick as Andrews whips him towards the balcony, before following up with a tornado DDT off of the balcony! They return to the ring to trade forearms, before Strickland kicked Andrews in the head as the Welshman tried to pull him back by his tights.
A deadlift brainbuster gets Strickland a near-fall, before a reverse ‘rana was blocked and almost turned into a reverse Fly Swatter, ending with Andrews hitting a stomp and a running shooting star press to almost win the match. Strickland rebounds with a superkick and a DDT after trapping Andrews in the middle rope, with a 450 Splash then getting a two-count, before Andrews finally hit that poison ‘rana.
Knowing that move never wins a match, Andrews went up top for a Dragonrana for a near-fall, only for the follow-up shooting star press to get stopped by way of another kick. Andrews blocks a superplex though, then turns it into a top rope poison ‘rana… but Strickland lands on his feet, only to get caught with a Stundog Millionaire, then a shooting star press as Andrews took home the win! An incredible finishing sprint, and a fantastic outing that delivered something for all! ***¾
After the match, Strickland got a “please come back” chant, along with an offer to wrestle for PROGRESS again… in Orlando!
Nathan Cruz vs. El Ligero
Well, this was a weird one… Ligero came out to Bob Seger’s original version of “Turn The Page”, having the crowd swaying in time to the ballad, whilst Ligero’s introduction not only poked fun at Nathan Cruz’s blood pressure (listen to his interview on Flash Morgan Webster’s podcast for the backstory), but also led to chants of “lucha otter”.
We’re still waiting on those tees, Ligs!
Sadly, that joke meant that everyone ignored the main joke of the day, Jim Smallman announcing El Ligero in his native language. Of English. Hah!
Cruz started by jumping Ligero, but the Lucha Otter turned things around, throwing Cruz to the outside for a big tope con hilo! Back in the ring, Ligero grabs Cruz’s boot and runs in circles with it, handing it off to referee Chris Roberts before a chop block takes him down as Ligero’s in full lets-antagonise-Cruz mode!
Ligero heads outside and brings back a bag of Haribo into the ring, spreading them on the mat like they were drawing pins. He teases suplexing Cruz into them, but instead he’s dropped with a leaping knee before Cruz kicks the sweets out of the ring in a fit of rage. Another knee strike to a draping Ligero knocks the masked man to the floor, but Ligero quickly returned to land a Shiranui that nearly ended the match.
He goes back outside for some athletic tape… and Ligero tapes up his thumb… just like Umaga! Cruz ducks it, but misses a dropkick, then manages a roll-up for a near-fall and a Codebreaker for another two-count. Cruz keeps on top of Ligero with a jack-knifed powerbomb, before he tries to use a steel chair, only for referee Roberts to stop him. In amongst all that, Cruz tries for a low blow, but Ligero blocks that and returns the favour, before a springboard enziguiri takes down the one-time “Showstealer”.
Cruz comes back by grabbing Ligero by the horns, then throwing him into the video wall hard, before hitting a Tully Blanchard-esque slingshot back suplex as Cruz decided not to make a cover. A thumbs up from Ligero just earns him a Showstolen, but Ligero kicked out at one as the comeback kicked into gear! Clubbing shots from the lucha otter lead to him taking an elbow, before dropping Cruz with a cutter as he flew off the top… one Mexican Wave later, and we had a kick-out as Cruz narrowly avoided defeat.
A figure four leglock sees Cruz try to force a submission, but that doesn’t work so he just whips Ligero’s legs into the ringpost, before getting caught in a small package upon returning as Ligero snatched the win! Decent, if not a little on the long side, but the real story came afterwards… as afterwards Cruz continued to beat down on Ligero, before unmasking him! ***
Cruz left the ring with Ligero’s mask, as the ring crew came back to Ligero’s face with his own cape.
Zack Gibson vs. Jack Sexsmith
You know the drill with Zack Gibson’s entrance – so much cacophony, whose usual promo gave way to him labelling Sexsmith as a joke.
At the start, Gibson immediately took Sexsmith down in search of the Shankly Gates armbar, before pulling off one of Sexsmith’s Ugg boots… which gets thrown straight back at the ring as Gibson just looked down on his opponent with disdain. The crowd rally behind Sexsmith, who hits a clothesline to take Gibson into the corner, before he enlists the help of some fans from the front row to drag Gibson’s crotch into the ringpost. Audience participation!
Back inside, Gibson sells his aching groin, but chops a flying Sexsmith before hitting a lariat and going back to that arm with a Jim Breaks special. A short arm clothesline keeps Jack down as the Scouse bully continued to wear down on Sexsmith with knees to the gut. Sexsmith cut off Gibson with a boot out of the corner, then a flying forearm, before taking down the King of Scouse Style with a Pearl Neckbreaker. A leaping DDT helps Jack get a two-count, before he pulled out Mr Cocko… only to run into a Codebreaker as Gibson nearly ended it. That kick-out fired up Sexsmith, who battled back through some slaps, only to take another Codebreaker… but Gibson’s overtly-mocking cover cost him, as Jack kicked out and rolled Gibson straight into a crossface!
Zack rolled to the ropes to break it up, before catching a leaping DDT from Sexsmith and turning it into the Helter Skelter… but unlike at Tropic Thunderbastard, Jack kicked out this time! They head outside, where Gibson tries for a suplex, before instead dumping Jack with a Helter Skelter on the floor… that leaves Sexsmith out cold on the floor, and that’s your lot. Sexsmith gets counted out, and Gibson takes away the win. A bit of a flat finish, but a pretty decent match that keeps Gibson strong, which also continuing to build up Sexsmith as someone who takes a pounding (not like that) but doesn’t give up. ***¼
Jimmy Havoc, Flash Morgan Webster & Mark Haskins vs. British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
The stipulation for this was pretty clear: if any of British Strong Style lost, they’d be giving up a title shot to whomever pinned them. If any of British Strong Style won, the person they beat would not only be barred from the Super Strong Style 16 tournament, but would also be banned from any title shots for the next six months. High Stakes indeed, and a stipulation that almost overshadowed the PROGRESS returns of Flash Morgan Webster and Mark Haskins from injury…
During his entrance, Tyler Bate threw down his PROGRESS tag title shield (which are taking a heck of a battering), before going to the back… for his WWE UK title belt. Having seen it live, yes, it’s as gorgeous in the flesh as it is on camera.
This was insane – not once during the match did we see a tag as all six competitors opted to go to war, starting when the BSS trio jumped their opponents with low blows before the bell. They follow up by teasing Pedigrees, but we get some back and forth strikes as Dunne ended up eating a trio of strikes in the corner, before a slingshot into knees from Havoc and Webster took him down.
Right from the start we have dissension within the good guys when Havoc broke up a pin from Webster on Dunne, before a trio of dives took out the baddies. Webster headbutts Dunne, then hits an Asai DDT (or Destino, if you’re a New Japan fan), before going for a tornado DDT on Seven who just switches it into a brainbuster.
Jimmy Havoc whales on Seven with some boots and a double stomp off the top, before landing something approximating a ‘rana off the top as Tyler rushed in to spin Havoc right round. Mark Haskins takes his shots at Bate, clubbing down the UK champion before eventually landing a leg lariat before Dunne comes in with an X-plex for a near-fall.
Haskins and Dunne go back and forth with forearms, before British Strong Style’s attempts to intervene lead to Dunne and Haskins catching a pair of double submissions, with Dunne tying up Havoc and Webster in a stacked-up single-leg crab, whilst Haskins had Trent and Tyler in a camel clutch/Boston crab too. Yep, this is insane!
After breaking free, Dunne looks to piledrive Webster on the apron, before a forearm sent him to the floor for a Bitter End on the apron. Bate follows with an apron suplex to Haskins, whilst Seven ends up dropping Havoc with a Dragon suplex onto the apron as well. The comeback starts with a Haskins death valley driver to Bate on the apron, before we see a piledriver/spike Tombstone piledriver combo from Moustache Mountain on Havoc for a near-fall.
A double Rainmaker takes out Moustache Mountain, before Havoc followed up with an Rainmaker that sent Dunne to the outside, where Flash Morgan followed up with his Pinball Wizard flip senton to the floor. A series of back and forth kicks between Bate and Haskins leads to a Koppo kick then a rolling death valley driver, before Bate was caught in a bridging armbar. Another roll-through follows into a sharpshooter, but that was eventually broken up.
We go back to forth with more forearms among all six men, but it’s British Strong Style who came up on top with a trio of punches, before blocking a trio of Rainmakers and biting at the same time. A trio of Canadian destroyers from the babyfaces lead to a trio of Koppo kicks, before a pair of Pedigrees almost led to a finish, as a Tyler Driver was reversed into a roll-up with Webster almost snatching the win from there.
The ring empties, with Seven staying in to try and finish off Haskins with a middle rope piledriver, but Mark gets out and hangs him in a Tree of Woe, before flying Tyler into him with a belly-to-belly suplex. Another apron death valley driver ends up with Haskins and Bate falling into the crowd, as Webster dumps Dunne with a reverse ‘rana, only to spring into a forearm smash. Jimmy Havoc slides in before Dunne can capitalise, and shocks Peter with a Rainmaker to get the win! Some of this did feel a little overly contrived, like the barrage of triple spots, but overall this was a fun car crash of a six-man “tag” to cap off the show. ***½
So… another belter of a show from PROGRESS in Camden, and one that set up for the next chapter this coming weekend, as Jimmy Havoc opted to cash in his title match pretty much straight away… in a no-DQ match against Pete Dunne.
What Worked: That main event may have been a little on the choreographed side, but it played up into an instant pay-off as Jimmy Havoc looked to celebrate his birthday with a title win. Let’s see if it’ll be a major celebration, or just a round of drinks…
Elsewhere, Travis Banks’ first singles match in PROGRESS was a cracker – and also planted some seeds for a potential future without his tag team partner TK Cooper. A future which may be coming up sooner than we thought…
What Didn’t: The crowd booing the fact that Havoc was going to cash in his title shot on the next show. In Manchester. Not London. Way to make yourselves look all entitled…