Winter took hold of PROGRESS’ plans as that “card subject to change” moniker forced a reshuffle in Sheffield.

Snow across large parts of the UK paralysed parts of the transport system, which meant that several of the advertised wrestlers were simply unable to make it to Sheffield. Flash Morgan Webster, Mark Andrews and referee Chris Roberts lost out to bad roads and train cancellations, whilst the British Strong Style pair of Pete Dunne and Trent Seven missed out after the weather delayed their flight back from Ireland (where they’d wrestled for OTT the prior night). Throw in a rib injury to Tyler Bate, and there’s half a dozen pretty major pieces gone… but PROGRESS always seem to overcome such adversity, and this was no different.

After Jim’s usual intro where he announces the card changes, we open up with Doug Williams’ open challenge. Since returning to PROGRESS, Doug’s lost to Timothy Thatcher and Joe Coffey, and seems to be on a bit of a losing run/possible retirement tour. So, who’s facing him today?

Doug Williams vs. Rampage Brown
I will be… dubbed? We’re in for a lot of this today, due to the late replacements (Rampage was not one of them), so we’ve got a taste of the “alternative” that folks were proposing when PROGRESS started changing music.

Needless to say, the crowd went mental here, even if we couldn’t hear it… Rampage’s first match in PROGRESS since January (when he lost the Atlas title to Matt Riddle), and it’s fair to say he hadn’t been forgotten… It’s weird to think of Williams as an Atlas division guy, but he’s the same size as Rampage, and we’re quickly engaged in an old-school yet quick-paced big lads wrestling match, with shoulder blocks sending Williams to the outside early. Doug rebounds well though, as he grounds Rampage, pulling back with a chinlock, only for Rampage to power up and hit a backdrop driver.

A big lariat keeps Rampage on top though, at least until Doug’s able to hit a flying elbow off the top that nearly gets him that win… only for a uranage slam from Rampage to keep the match in the favour of the former Atlas champion. Just as I say that though, Williams comes back with the Revolution DDT and a Bomb Scare knee drop, but it’s only enough for a near-fall… so here comes the Chaos Theory?

Rampage rolls away and nearly wins with a roll-up, before snapping into a piledriver as Rampage won on his return. A lovely surprise here led to a heck of an opening match, and another L in the results column for Doug. Hopefully this ain’t the end of Rampage in PROGRESS… ***

Yes, that is a wXw reference. See, over-dubbing doesn’t hurt too much… The crowd popped big time for the news that Chris Roberts was stranded because of the snow. In his place, we have Chris Sharpe, an OVW-trained referee who just happened to be in the UK on another tour of the country.

Chris Ridgeway vs. Adam Chase
With “Flash” Morgan Webster out, the Spaniard Adam Chase got the call here for what was easily the highest profile singles match of his career thus far. Commentary tries to paint this as a “proper” debut for Chris Ridgeway… give over, Glen!

Chase was another one who stepped in late on, and with little notice here, he did well for himself against Ridgeway early, matching him move for move as the crowd chanted “si” in support. A leaping leg lariat actually takes Ridgeway into the corner, but his attempt at shoving Ridgeway back proved to be a bad call as Riddy just fires back with a series of kicks. Some jabbing body blows looked to get Chase in again, but Ridgeway starts to show his dominance, only to get unstuck by a top rope Blockbuster from Chase that almost snatched the unlikeliest of wins. Riddy returns again with a trio of rolling Germans, before trading forearms and lariats, leading to the crowd counting along to a standing ten count. In Spanish.

Who said wrestling fans weren’t cultured?

The pats on the back quickly gave way to “oohs” as Chase gets kicked in the chest a few times, before replying with a Shining Wizard as he Rolled the Dice for a near-fall. A cutter from Chase and a moonsault keeps the unlikely upset alive… only to get thwarted as Ridgeway grabbed a rear naked choke that Chase almost flipped out of and into a pin.

More forearms follow, but a German suplex from Chase is no-sold and Ridgeway quickly ripcords him into a roundhouse kick before a back heel kick to the head and a PK… gets a two-count?! How the hell is Chase still going? He’s still pushing, but Chase goes for a brainbuster… and it gets Lykos’d as Ridgeway countered into the Kirifuda Driver (suplex into a rear naked choke) for the flash submission. Well then! Having never seen Chase before this, this was a massive surprise. So much heart, so much fire… and I’m now wondering why in God’s name he’s been a secret. Promoters – on this performance alone, book Adam Chase in 2018 (and beyond!) ***¼

Chief Deputy Dunne vs. Pastor William Eaver vs. Spike Trivet vs. Gabriel Kidd vs. Amir Jordan vs. Saxon Huxley vs. Amir Jordan vs. Primate vs. Jack Sexsmith
This match had the biggest reshuffle thanks to the weather – with Aussie Open having been pulled for a tag title match later in the card… whilst Chuck Mambo was also slotted in later down the card. In their place were a trio of debutants: Gabriel Kidd (yes, the same one from Defiant/WhatCulture, complete with the longer-version of his music), “Muscle Cat” Saxon Huxley, and Amir Jordan (with dubbed music, since Panjabi MC isn’t exactly copyright-friendly…), whose entrance is damn-near infectious.

Unlike the match at Alexandra Palace, the winner here got a title match of their choosing… but unless there’s a lot of bulking up over Christmas, I think it’s fair to say we’re either looking at a World or tag title match for the winner?

Spike spat on Primate during the entrances, and you can guess how that went… everyone spilled outside apart from two men. Who’s the real Jeebus?

Anyway, this quickly turns into one of your usual multi-ways, with plenty of dives, including a sweet High Fly Flow from “Your Naan’s Favourite Wrestler” and the Pete Dunne-ish Orihara moonsault off the middle turnbuckle. The only “real” storyline here was the simmering feud between Dunne and Sexsmith from earlier this year, but it’s not like the other bodies in the match watered it down…

Primate spears everyone, including Chief Deputy Dunne, who found that Primates don’t listen to orders, but it’s a bumrush that stops him in his tracks. Gabriel Kidd has a flurry, ending with his waistlock takedown that planted Jordan onto Trivet’s knees, before dishing out a Ganso bomb to Amir. Holy crap, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve since that kneeling piledriver…

The Parade of Moves continued as Jordan’s beating saw him take a Birthright from Trivet, before Gabriel Kidd’s diving knee wiped out Primate… and there’s still plenty more. Jordan’s “Swanton Bombay” breaks up a cover, before Huxley’s crucifix bomb/neckbreaker – called the Shattered Illusions – keeps the Parade running. A low dropkick from Primate nearly beheads the Pastor as he rolled to the outside… and then Jack tries to fight the Primate.

A gorilla press powerslam ends that attack from Sexsmith, as Dunne uses his megaphone on Primate so he could try and steal the win… but instead Jack comes back with the Big Double Stompy Move… and everyone’s too late to break up the pin as Jack gets an early Christmas present! All action, with plenty of folks trying to impress… which could have made this an unorganised mess, but this was a nice, easy watch. Hopefully this isn’t one-and-done for the debutants, with Kidd and Jordan standing out a LOT here. ***

Joseph Conners vs. Chuck Mambo
With Pete Dunne struggling to get back from Ireland, the advertised WWE UK title match wasn’t happening. Joseph Conners wasn’t exactly thrilled with that, calling Dunne a “pathetic piece of shit”. Conners threatened to hold the show hostage until Dunne arrives… fortunately a save’s made quickly by Chuck Mambo!

Yeah, Conners pummels him instantly, and the bell rings… so this is a match, despite all the beach balls flying around the ring!

Mambo survives early and manages to get some offence in, taking Conners in the corner with a Stinger splash before being shoved down to the floor. Duelling dives led to Mambo getting back on top for a brief moment, but Conners comes back with a push-down stomp out of the corner and a lariat as he proceeded to pummel Mambo on the apron.

On the outside, Mambo gets lawn-darted into the ringpost, before eating a superplex as this becomes pretty one-sided… but at least Conners is showing something as opposed to the blandness we got against Flash Morgan Webster in London two weeks earlier.

Some moron decides to throw a toilet roll into the ring, bouncing it off of Mambo’s shoulder as he laid on the mat, and that seemed to spark a comeback with some right hands and a diving forearm. But it all felt a little… inevitable? Despite a backbreaker and a series of bodyblows in the ropes, Mambo always felt like he was one move from defeat, even when he Cactus clothesline’d Conners to the floor.

Back inside, Mambo’s Reef Breaker diving knees nearly gets him the win, but a fireman’s carry gutbuster is blocked as Conners gets back into it, hitting a sit-out Rock Bottom for a near-fall. Remarkably, Mambo’s not out of it, and comes back with a frog splash to nearly snatch a win, before he goes for… what the hell? A Kudo Driver?!

Instead, Mambo holds it into a reverse Gory special, but Conners escapes and bites away at Chuck… a slingshot DDT and a sunset bomb into the turnbuckles follow, before the Don’t Look Down hammerlock DDT (which might as well be renamed the PG-unfriendly “fuck you all”) gets Conners the win. Mambo showed plenty of heart, but there’s the curse of being an irregular talent – when you’re called up for a spot like this, you need to go the extra mile to look viable… which he came oh so close to doing here. ***¼

Chris Brookes vs. Matt Cross
With no Mark Andrews, this is just a regular singles match now, as Chris Brookes begins another round of Life Without Lykos (although he was there, just in no condition to wrestle). It also means we get to hear Matt Cross’ sweet music, even if it is a dub-in (which is odd, because he used it last year at PROGRESS…)

Cross tries to work over holds early, but Brookes being as lanky as he is, is able to easily make the ropes before standing back aghast as Cross teased some flips. Brookes responds by quickly going to his mind games, pulling out some drippy saliva for a wet willie… but Cross blocks it and slaps away Brookes, just as Lykos gets up on the apron to protest. Lykos tries to throw in his baking tray, but Cross easily intercepts it as the distraction almost led to some classic CCK double-teaming. Except referee Joel Allen caught them in the act…

Lykos is able to trip Cross, which played a small part as Brookes was able to trap the veteran in an Octopus stretch… but Cross makes the ropes with ease as the crowd burst into duelling chants. Brookes looked to keep Cross grounded again, but when he relinquished, Cross was able to get closer to his usual game, wheelbarrowing Brookes, only to get rolled up himself for a near-fall.

Cross keeps up with a handspring back elbow and a cross body off the ropes, before nailing Brookes with an ushigoroshi to almost snatch the win. Back-and-forth strikes almost led to a result when Brookes leaps in from the apron with a cutter, before Cross gets one of his own, rebounding off the top rope with his shoulders to get a near-fall as well.

The back-and-forth continues as a Jay Driller gets Brookes a near-fall, only for Cross to reply by taking him outside and following him there with Space Flying Tiger Drop! Matt Cross is athletic, huh? Another attempt at Death by Roll-up is stuffed as Cross comes back with a knee, but Cross goes for the shoulder rebound once too often and gets caught with a schoolboy as Death by Roll-up gets Brookes the win! This took a while to get going, but this was decent despite the clash of styles, with Brookes showing that his latest “thing” can beat anyone. ***¼

PROGRESS World Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake) (c)
Pulled from the eight-way earlier, Aussie Open have lucked into a tag title shot thanks to the weather…

Of course, Zack Gibson hijacks the microphone, and gets pelted with a toilet roll. It’s not 2016 is it? Gibson takes shots at CCK before continuing his tirade at the teams that PROGRESS have lined up against them, and threatening to make Aussie Open “just another statistic”. Tazz has turned maths teacher, I see?

The Veterans tried to isolate Kyle Fletcher from the off, but the Aussie Arrow (and his disconcertingly slow-healing bruise) was wise to it, and ekes out an early advantage, with a low dropkick to Gibson before bringing in Mark Davis… who gave James Drake one of his favourite high-fives before doing the switcheroo with Drake and Gibson.

More high-fives put the champs on the back foot, and Kyle’s still wise to Gibson’s attempts at a sneak attack, but the champions draw in Fletcher and start off some double-teaming as the smaller half of Aussie Open’s kept in the corner and gradually worn down. Fletcher keeps trying for a tag, and eventually fights off Gibson as Mark Davis tears in with kicks and chops to the champions to start a lengthy sequence where Dunkzilla was tearing through bodies.

Drake takes the one-handed powerbomb after Gibson tried to make a save, before Fletcher flew in with a pop-up cutter as the Aussies enjoyed a run of offence. Davis is left on his own though, and the numbers game catches up to him as he’s caught in a Ticket to Ride and a 450 splash as the Veterans almost retained their belts…

Fletcher tries to superkick away the Shankly Gates, only for Drake to catch Kyle in one of his own as the Aussies riled each other up into a comeback… which saw Davis dump Gibson onto Drake with a death valley driver to break up two submissions for the price of one as the Aussies again fired back, with an inverted roll the dice from Davis looking to set the Aussies on their way… along with a lawn dart to Drake into the corner.

A Fidget Spinner would have given us new champions, but Gibson pulls out the ref at the count of two, before he’s pulled into the ring by Davis… and that almost led to a turnaround as a lungblower out of the corner from Gibson left Fletcher stunned, ahead of the Making Towns doomsday crossbody… but Fletcher rolled through on impact and almost snatched the win out of nowhere! Fletcher kept up with a moonsault to Gibson… something that Davis tried to emulate with an Arabian press that he almost went full Sabu on, crashing and burning. That left Fletcher all by himself, and it’s just a matter of time before the double-team lungblower – Ticket to Mayhem – was hit as the champs retained.

Relatively unproven in PROGRESS, Aussie Open have built up enough of a CV around the country to make themselves look a lot stronger than they otherwise would have been on paper. This wasn’t your “throw an undercard team in and hope they win folks over” deal – and it led to a hell of a contest. With any luck, this’ll not be a one-and-done for Aussie Open in this role, but with the overall tag team division in PROGRESS currently in flux, perhaps they’ve won themselves a bigger spot? ***¾

PROGRESS World Championship: Eddie Dennis vs. Travis Banks (c)
The story that started at Alexandra Palace looked to come to a head here, when Eddie Dennis’ battle to “prove himself” led to him getting a world title shot here. The much bemoaned first ever world title shot, in fact…

Travis Banks wasn’t in any mood to mess around, leaping off the stage into Eddie, who was taking his time ripping into the crowd… and then it was business as usual as Banks calmed down. Eddie, did not though, as he grabbed chairs from the crowd and threw them at Banks, who deflected them with ease. Rather nonchalantly, Banks takes Eddie into the crowd for a cannonball as the champion seems to be content with just beating Eddie around the ring. You’d think Eddie would learn, but he threw Banks back inside… and ends up eating a couple of low-pes, before catching a third one, turning it into a swinging side slam on the apron.

That turned things around in Eddie’s favour, as he took Banks back inside to start and wear him down, throwing the Kiwi into the turnbuckles, but Banks seemingly gets back in control, taking Eddie into the corner before tripping him for a cannonball. Regardless, Eddie gets back in with a diving clothesline as the crowd begin to mock the “Demon Headmaster”, distracting him as Banks comes in with a springboard stomp.

Eddie kicked out from that, and manages to swipe away a Coast to Coast dropkick with a forearm before dumping Banks with a crucifix bomb for a near-fall. The two go from corner-to-corner with uppercuts, going tit for tat until Banks switched things up and sparked some clotheslines. Dennis tried to escape with a German suplex… but Banks no-sells and promptly hits a diving lariat to neuter that particular spell of offence. Second time was the charm for the Coast to Coast, but Eddie’s still kicking out, and he comes back with the Severn Bridge crucifix bucklebomb and another clothesline… but it’s still nowhere near enough as the crowd didn’t seem to buy that as a finish.

Banks counters out of a Next Stop Driver as Eddie tried to go for the win… but he just spits blood at Banks as the pair teed off on each other with kicks. They followed up with a nice series of boo/yay forearms, which led to a Slice of Heaven and a Kiwi Krusher from Banks, but Eddie’s able to kick out with some force from that. They head up top next, with Banks seemingly catching him, only for that to get countered into an avalanche Next Stop Driver… which Banks kicked out at one from. Okay, you’ll need to kill him Eddie. I think?

Eddie goes for some chairs as he looks to apply that next step, but the referee disarms Eddie, allowing Banks to hit back in… but another Kiwi Krusher’s countered into a Next Stop Driver for another close call! Dennis tries to follow up with a superplex, but that gets countered into an avalanche Kiwi Krusher as it’s Eddie’s turn to kick out as the momentum kept swinging… Banks countered another Next Stop Driver into a standing Lion’s Clutch. That’s followed with another Kiwi Krusher, then a grounded Lion’s Clutch… and finally Eddie taps!

A pretty solid main event, but I’m hoping this is just the first stop in the story, rather than the end of it. Give it another six months of showings like this, and you’ve got Eddie Dennis prepped as a viable challenger that the crowd’d be able to buy into, rather than what we saw where Eddie pushed Travis to the limit, without the crowd really buying him as a threat. I guess it’s the curse of wrestling in 2017 – especially in title matches, folks are judged more on “are they ready for the title” rather than expecting a shock change or anything like that. ***½

After the main event, Eddie wipes out some of the ring crew as he went on a rampage, throttling and chopping one unlucky sod as he continued to lash out. Good job he’s no longer a teacher, as acting out like this would have gotten him detention… as to what it gets him in PROGRESS remains to be seen!

In spite of the withdrawals, PROGRESS were able to put on a consistent show that shone in parts, but largely kept the lights on. It’s a credit to the British scene that PROGRESS were able to go to a relatively new city for them and fill holes in their card so quickly – and have those replacements stand out as they did. Yes, there were storyline changes caused by the withdrawals – some of which have been patched up with promos shot in the aftermath of the show – but chapter 59 went from a show that could easily have been a dud to one the more pleasantly surprising shows of the year.

  • “Chapter 59 – Whatever People Say We Are, That’s What We’re Not” is available now via Demand-PROGRESS.com – either to rent, buy, or as part of their monthly subscription service.