The last stop before Alexandra Palace saw British Strong Style go too far – as the final pieces were put in place.
We’re back in Camden after what could be called an eventful trip to the States for PROGRESS earlier in the month – some of the details were replayed in Jim’s pre-show opener, along with a cheap plug for Hogan’s Insurance.
Connor Mills vs. Strangler Davis
This was the re-debut, of sorts, of Davis after his split from Rob Lynch at the last chapter show.
Glen Joseph is on commentary for the opening 30 seconds – enough time to get the chapter wrong – as Callum Leslie and RJ Singh’s doing the proper job, as Davis starts by working over Mills’ arm and wrist. Mills dropkicks his way back into things, and grabs an arm too, but Davis cuts off Mills’ attempt at a dive and squashes him with a Finlay roll on the floor.
Back inside, Davis goes all Zack Sabre Jr. with submission attempts, as someone from the crowd mocks Davis for being a clone of Hangman Page. Apparently, he doesn’t know who he is… and I’d argue he’s better for that. Problem is, this felt like it went forever (going 8:31 according to the unofficial PROGRESS timer), but this really ought to have been a dominant win, if not a squash for Davis, as opposed to a keenly-fought content with a relative newcomer.
The Air Raid Crash – renamed the St. Finson’s Cross, I believe – gets Davis a near-fall, but Mills hits his Millshot (release suplex with a cheeky kick on the way down) before going up top. A 450 crashes and burns as Mills lands awkwardly on his feet, and that leaves him open for the cobra clutch as Davis gets the win. Solid, but this wasn’t the match I’d have done to introduce Davis’ new character. **½
Next up was a talking segment, as Flash Morgan Webster brought out Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins to discuss their recent issues. Except it threatened to turn into a non-event as they said they’d already hashed it out beforehand. WHOOPS!
To make it look like a proper in-ring “chat show”, Webster had his own potted plant: Townshend. Who looked more agile than the footballer of the same name did at times…
Tempers flared up again though when they started to argue their cases over the PROGRESS title – particularly when Havoc snuck in a dig that “PROGRESS fought to take the title off me… you just gave it up”. Flash tries to calm things by suggesting that they stick together and they’ll get the belts after Alexandra Palace. Cue Travis Banks, who of course had something to say about that…
Long story short, he too was interrupted by Pete Dunne, who went to pick Banks’ opponents for later that night: Haskins and Havoc. Except Banks had already picked those two as Peter’s opponents… so instead of everyone getting double pay, we get a tag team main event, playa. Like SmackDown in the mid-00s! Sadly, Jim didn’t do the Teddy Long dance. There’s always next time…
Kid Lykos vs. Tyler Bate
This was the first of two matches that led to the creation of stipulations for the PROGRESS tag title match at Alexandra Palace. Whomever won each singles match picked a stipulation… leading to the possibility of stacked-up wackiness.
My God, they’re actually billing Lykos as being from the Mango Black Tea Gardens! Starbucks represent! At least, not for long as Tyler took offence to the chants of “small lads’ wrestling” before wandering away. They return with some restrained flippy goodness as the pair tried to find an opening – but Lykos’ recently-injured shoulder looked to worsen, as he grabbed it early on before flying off into a springboard ‘rana on Bate. A cannonball to Bates in the ropes crushes the former WWE UK champ, but an early brainbuster doesn’t work and the Wolf gets sent to the outside for a tope.
Back inside, Bate wears down Lykos, before unleashing an airplane spin that dizzied both until Lykos gets a tornado DDT out to free himself. A slingshot Stunner comes next from the wolf, who gets off a kick for a near-fall, only to see a brainbuster to get wrecked with a bicycle kick.
The Full Moon sees Lykos bounce back for another two-count, only to get thrown around with an Exploder, then a standing shooting star press, before duelling strikes ended with a high knee and a reverse ‘rana from Lykos… who quickly got planted with a German suplex as Bate had popped straight back up.
A Tyler Driver is escaped as Lykos took Bate outside for a corkscrew dive, then a Vertigo DDT back inside… but it’s still not enough as Trent Seven ambled to ringside, looking to make a not-needed save. The top rope brainbuster’s blocked as Bate grabs the ref… allowing Trent to clothesline Lykos, which makes things academic: and a Tyler Driver gets the pin. A decent match, but you knew that the surrounding stories were going to limit this somewhat. ***¼
So, we got our stipulation announcement, with Trent Seven trolling us all. He took forever to build it up… “the lights go down, the music stops and then, in the background… dun dun dun dun”. Yeah, some people thought “cage match” and popped… but instead he trolls us some more with a Punjabi Prison match! Yeah, right. There’s no trips to B&Q to empty out their supplies of garden canes. Instead, we’re getting a two on two, normal tag match… FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE… in the ring!
God, I love sarcastic Trent.
Jinny vs. Dahlia Black
The winner gets a shot at Toni Storm’s title at Alexandra Palace – and Dahlia slid into the ring and instantly went after Jinny as the fists started flying! Glen’s back on commentary to fill in the blanks as he told us about how the friendship between these two disintegrated when Jinny targeted Dahlia’s ankle in New York.
Plenty of knees and a cannonball from Dahlia see her get a near-fall, and it’s all Dahlia early as she looked to unleash all of that aggression. Just like that though, a Dragon screw takes Black down, and now that leg and ankle starts to get worn down as Jinny traps and stomps on it in the ropes.
There’s a lot of leg and ankle work, which works in the sense of the story, but Jinny falls into a reverse DDT as Dahlia countered out of a suplex attempt. A springboard moonsault gets nothing but knees as Jinny resumed the offence, working up into a German suplex into the corner, before slapping Dahlia some more.
An attempted Acid Rainmaker’s countered into almost a Lethal Combination as the crowd scattered… so Jinny could get extra familiar with the Ballroom’s projection wall. Although Dahlia’s still hobbling, she’s able to powerbomb Jinny out of the corner for a near-fall… before Jinny hit back with an Acid Rainmaker. Dahlia finally takes a Style Clash… but she kicked out at two!
Jinny tries to follow up with a Cloverleaf, but Dahlia counters it into a small package – and just like that, Dahlia’s got the win! She’s off to Alexandra Palace, and a rematch with Toni Storm, whilst Jinny’s losing streak continued. A rather odd end as both women headed to the back pretty quick, rather than let things sink in… but on we roll. ***
Chris Brookes vs. Trent Seven
I see Trent’s homing device came into play for his entrance… the winner picks the other stipulation for the tag title match after Trent picked an ultra-normal tag team match. Trent reminisced about his time on the NXT Takeover pre-show, before plugging his theme song on Spotify.
Cue a running knee, but it’s not enough for the win as they teased a repeat of Super Strong Style, as Brookes instead took Trent outside for a spot of chair destruction and ringpost chopping. Chris gets Brookes’d, and the fight continues in that part of the crowd as Trent teases a piledriver onto some chairs, only to get backdropped onto another one. Finally they get back into the ring, where they trade chops and dropkicks in opposite corners, before Trent blocks a kick and turned it into a powerbomb.
The Seven Stars lariat’s blocked with a knee, before Brookes blocks a low blow and switches it into a leg-capture German suplex. A Whiplash suplex/neckbreaker dumps Trent, but it’s only good for a two-count, so they trade forearms as they fight back to their feet, before Trent clubs Brookes back down.
A backhand from Seven leaves Brookes loopy momentarily, but a bicycle kick and some head kicks follow until a lariat and a sit-out suplex get Trent another near-fall. They set up for the middle rope piledriver, but Brookes fights free and gives Trent a wet willie ahead of a powerbomb.
The slingshot cutter’s good for a two-count – and that seems to be the next cue for Tyler Bate to run out. He’s booted off the apron, only for Trent to kick Brookes low and hit the Zangief spinning piledriver… for another two-count! Trent tries to tie-up Chris Roberts so Tyler Bate can get involved… but Tyler’s caught and thrown out!
Finally, Chris did his job!
In comes Lykos through the crowd as #CCK hit their SFTM, and that’s enough for Brookes to get the win! Well then, that was a hell of a finish! #CCK pick the second stipulation for the tag title match, and we’re getting… a ladder match! ***½
Grizzled Young Vets (Zack Gibson & James Drake) vs. FSU (Mark Andrews & Eddie Dennis)
Both of the Vets have new jackets… and I swear Drake’s is way too big for him. There’s no promo from Gibson, which may have been a let down… but still, it’s a welcome return for Mark Andrews to the Ballroom after being out for a few months with a neck injury.
Drake and Andrews get us going – but there’s a few attempts at cheating from the Grizzled Vets… some of which works, others which don’t, as that “unconventional tag team wrestling” looks to become their motif. That usually comes into play when they were frustrated by FSU, believing that they were being wronged by double-teams against them.
An eye rake to Dennis puts the Vets in charge, as they looked to have made a mistake in trying to isolate the big man… and indeed they did, as Mark Andrews came in and ran rings around them. A Sliced Bread/DDT combo gets Andrews a near-fall, before he wipes out Drake with a plancha… but now the Vets isolate Andrews as they take advantage of a frustrated Dennis.
Drake and Gibson do a good job of keeping Andrews on the mat… or at the very least, taking him back down whenever he did get free. After getting free of Gibson, Drake slides back in to cut-off a potential tag… but finally Eddie gets the tag in to hit an atomic drop to Gibson, then a diving clothesline. That swinging side slam gets Eddie a near-fall, but Drake rushes in with a forearm to Eddie and gets one back in return, before booting Drake off the top rope.
A flip tope and a Next Stop Driver nearly wins it for Eddie, but the Vets double-team in with a dropkick in the ropes, then the Ticket to Ride before Gibson literally threw Drake onto Eddie outside. They try for the Ticket to Mayhem, but it’s countered into a tombstone after some help from Andrews as FSU get a near-fall, before Drake shoves out of a Last Stop Driver… shoving Eddie into a Ticket to Ride as Andrews eats a superkick/neckbreaker for his troubles.
The Vets pull Andrews into a Boston crab/Shankly Gates… but of course that can’t be the finish, and Andrews manages to counter a Helter Skelter into the Stundog Millionaire instead! Eddie returns for another stop at the Last Stop Driver, but Drake pushes off Andrews as Dennis finds himself isolated again, with Drake blind-tagging himself in again as the Vets hit the Ticket to Mayhem (double-team ticket to ride) for the win. It nearly fell at the end, but this was a solid match to get the new pairing across some more – and the story of Eddie Dennis’ losing streak seems to be creeping into PROGRESS too… ***½
Doug Williams vs. Timothy Thatcher
Doug gets a pretty good reaction for his first PROGRESS appearance in almost three years, as does Timothy Thatcher… but he didn’t have anywhere near as long to wait.
As you’d expect, this was a technical clinic, with both men keeping things on the mat early as they looked to wrench away on a body part, with Williams’ trying to use a leg spreader… only for Thatcher to sit up and pull Doug to the outside. They return to trade straitjacket holds, before Thatcher’s counter to a trip led to some indy’riffic pinning sequences.
Thatcher rebounds with a bow-and-arrow stretch, but they’re too close to the ropes so Williams gets himself free before he’s forced to block a butterfly suplex attempt. Instead, he launches into a battle of uppercuts, with Doug finally winning out as he dropped Thatcher to the mat.
However, Thatcher gets back up and looks to take Williams into a cross armbreaker – which the veteran tries to block by rolling up Timmy for a near-fall. He switches the plan into a more standard armbar but the war of attrition continued as Doug grabbed the ropes… before being taken onto the apron as Thatcher threw him into it. Another armbar’s instantly broken as Doug was still in the ropes, but Williams rebounds with a Gory special!
Williams charges Thatcher upside-down into the corner, but Timmy comes back with a butterfly suplex before rolling straight back into the armbar, which Williams again breaks in the ropes. A flying forearm helps Doug rebound as he hits a leaping knee and an Exploder as a build-up to the Chaos Theory… but Thatcher clings to the ropes!
Instead, Williams tries to get a crossbody going, but he crashes and burns as Thatcher grabs another armbar, and despite rolling in for a near-fall, Timmy keeps hold as Doug’s forced to tap. A technical affair that’s not for everyone – I can understand why some may not have liked this, but I rather enjoyed this on replay. ***¾
Mark Haskins & Jimmy Havoc vs. Travis Banks & Pete Dunne
This was more a storyline than a match, as despite some early skirmishes that came in the form of brutal forced tags, Pete Dunne instead opted to leave Travis on his own, and join commentary for the main event. Of course, he’d have to remove someone… which he did by booting Callum Leslie below the belt, before trying to babyface himself by saying “I asked him nicely…”
I’m pretty sure that cheers wasn’t the reaction intended, but let’s not dive too deep into the whys behind that.
So yeah, Banks starts off hot in the handicap match portion of things, sending everyone flying with topes – with Havoc pulling Haskins into harm’s way for one of them. Banks then zombies’ up by batting away chairs from Havoc and Haskins – the former getting an errant shot as the storylines weaved together rather nicely for a moment there.
The Havoc/Haskins pairing regroups as they start to wear down on the Kiwi Buzzsaw, before throwing him diagonally towards the bar through chairs. NOWHERE SEATED IS SAFE, PEOPLE!
Another fightback from Banks ends brutally with a back elbow from Haskins, who gets a near-fall, and once Banks cuts that off… now Pete Dunne comes down to try and pick apart those proverbial bones. Except Banks flips him off, so Dunne disappears as Banks gets caught in a roll-up Sharpshooter. A rolling elbow gets Havoc a near-fall, but Havoc & Haskins start to argue and forcibly tag themselves in… which leads to the pair exploding on each other!
Banks capitalises by throwing some kicks, before ducking a forearm as Haskins hits Havoc… and ends up getting a German suplex from Banks for his troubles. A back cracker out of the corner looks awkward as Haskins gets Havoc piled into him ahead of a cannonball, before the Coast to Coast dropkick leaves the former PROGRESS champs down for some near-falls.
Yup, Chris Roberts forgot who’s legal!
Havoc and Haskins get their act together, and chain together a slingshot into a death valley driver for a near-fall, before a double clothesline leaves everyone down! Banks is in trouble; again as he eats a Samoan driver for a near-fall, before pulling Havoc into the path of a superkick. An Acid Rainmaker somehow takes Haskins down as Banks’ Fisherman’s driver leaves Haskins down… just in time for Havoc to abandon his partner. Pete Dunne runs down and hits the Bitter End, and somehow since all tags are just meaningless, that’s the finish. As a match, it was pretty good, but this was a good way to stitch together two matches for Alexandra Palace together into one. ***¼
After the match, Dunne ran into his “PROGRESS is mine… everything is mine” speech, which led to Banks attacking him with the springboard stomp… but Trent and Tyler run in to complete the mugging. Cue #CCK, as Brookes and Lykos give Banks the advantage – since Dunne had wandered away again – but then it was time for Peter to Play Paul, as he dragged Dahlia Black onto the stage, along with a sledgehammer.
With everyone distracted, Lykos takes a Tyler Driver, whilst Brookes eats a piledriver, before Dunne kicks Dahlia’s healed-leg away. That led to a rather uncomfortable silence, punctuated by boos as the pay-off to the twice-delayed sledgehammer execution finally came to pass as there was nobody else left to make the save, and Banks takes Sledgie to the back of the head.
With that, the final image from Chapter 54, was of British Strong Style standing tall over the prone Banks, before the sledgehammer puts paid to Brookes and Lykos for good measure.
All in all, if you’re going just by snowflakes and ratings, this was a show that you may be tempted to skip. Don’t. Chapter 54 is one of those shows that’s greater than the sum of its parts – a solid “go home” for Alexandra Palace from a company that could easily be running on empty after their hectic summer schedule.
That run’s almost over, lads…