PROGRESS’ first chapter of the new year saw them head to Birmingham for a cracking show that featured some rescheduled matches from that snow-struck Sheffield show.

This time a year ago, PROGRESS had some surprises on the show courtesy of Finn Balor and the future Aleister Black. While there was no WWE surprise this time, there was a change to the card as Mark Andrews came out to announce that he’d injured himself at ATTACK! on the prior Friday night… so he’d not be able to compete. That drew out Eddie Dennis, who wasn’t exactly thrilled with his former friend being able to “sit at home and picks up his monthly WWE down payment” rather than wrestle.

Eddie declares that he wants “this skinny little prick” in a wrestling match, then brings up how his “best friend” snubbed him through the years. Here’s the callbacks! Mark tries to save things by saying that he cherishes the match the two of them had back at Chapter 17, before Andrews headed to TNA… that prompted Eddie to spit in his face, but Andrews doesn’t take the bait as he instead bails.

PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven) vs. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake) (c)
Of course, Zack wants to cut a promo… but Trent steals the mic, and it just so happens that Triple H is calling. There’s a gag about Trent being in “at number seven” and Zack Gibson being “that ITV bloke”. Oof.

“Stay cerebral”

Then Zack nicks the mic, just in time for Joe Atherton to throw in some toilet roll as Gibson gets drowned out again. Finally we get going with Tyler Bate’s wristlock escape routine, but after being made to look like a fool there, Drake just knocks Trent off the apron as the champions quickly double-team Bate before going for Trent once more.

The champions try to do the Dudley Boyz “wassup” headbutt, but Tyler keeps reversing things as Gibson eventually gets wheelbarrowed into his partner. Trent gets a turn to look like a fool when he runs in and whiffs on his crossbody in between airplane spins from the challengers… and a collapse from Trent as he struggles to finish a squat, and falls flat on his face.

The continued trolling of the champions continue as everyone does a spot of country line dancing before we work into the duel single-crab spot, which ends when Chris Roberts remembers that there’s rules. For once. Those rules quickly get forgotten when the GVY double-team Trent with a superkick/neckbreaker combo for a near-fall… and it’s Trent who’s isolated in the wrong corner for a spell. For some reason the crowd starts singing the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song, presumably in tribute to James “Choo Choo” Drake. Ah, memes.

Finally Trent gets the tag out as Tyler Bate’s head of steam sees him land some Koppo kicks and elbows in the corner, before catching a charging Gibson for an Exploder. Some double-teaming keeps Moustache Mountain on top as Gibson’s forced to kick out from a double-team powerbomb, but the champions are able to bust out some of their own double-teams, ending with Trent getting held up for a Doomsday Device.

Trent rolls away from that into a Victory roll for a near-fall though, before planting Gibson with a Burning Hammer… again for a near-fall thanks to the efforts of James Drake. We get the Parade of Moves, with Tyler no-selling a backdrop suplex from Gibson… who does the same as their back-and-forth ends with James Drake whacking Tyler with a belt as he went for the shoulder-rebound lariat. There’s more wackiness as Bate tried to counter a Helter Skelter with an inside cradle, but Drake reverses it, and the champions retain!

This was pretty fun, although this being Moustache Mountain, there was a tonne of shtick in there… almost to the point where this was on track to be like the Elite’s popcorn matches. The story coming out of this is that the Grizzled Young Veterans have knocked off all contenders, so they’re skipping the next shows until someone gets established. Fair enough! ***¼

Chris Ridgeway vs. Drew Parker
With Mark Andrews sidelined, they needed a new opponent for Chris Ridgeway… so they get Drew Parker, making an instant return.

Ridgeway tries to go for the wrist early as he kept Parker on the mat as commentary tried to tell us that Drew Parker can wrestling. I’m not doubting that, but his biggest successes – and wishes – have been in the polar opposite to Ridgeway’s style so… the cynicism is at least somewhat expected. Drew takes Ridgeway outside with a springboard dropkick, and then we get a dive with a nice tope con giro into the aisle.

That sparked a brief period of offence for Parker, as he threw forearms at Ridgeway… but that just seemed to fire him up into a comeback, using kicks and a nice single-leg Lion tamer before switching it into a STF. A series of knees and kicks to the chest rock Parker, but Drew’s able to hit back with a PK… only for Ridgeway to chain together a back suplex and another kick to the head in retaliation.

Ridgeway keeps up with a sliding forearm to Parker, before rolling Parker into a double armbar – almost like a grounded version of Zack Sabre Jr’s. CFS1 – but Drew eventually maneuvers his way towards the ropes. Somehow Parker’s able to rebound with a rewind leg lariat after he’d looked to have whiffed a Shining Wizard, before coming back with a superplex… only for Ridgeway to shock him with a Kirifuda Driver.

Parker escapes into a pin, then a leaping double stomp as the pace rose… but Parker plays into Ridgeway’s game with endless shots, and when the latest fightback started, it was just a matter of time as a ripcord head kick and a PK put Drew’s plans on hold. Parker’s able to kick out, but he comes back with a powerbomb from a caught kick, following with… Back to the Future?! KUSHIDA’s small package driver only gets a near-fall before the 450 splash crushes Ridgeway… and the replacement wins! The crowd didn’t get into this until late, but a hell of a showing from Parker, who you’d argue has more than a foot in the door with this result. ***½

Bea Priestley & Nina Samuels vs. Charli Evans & Millie McKenzie
This was formed from the fall-out of the Live at the Dome 3 show a few days earlier (we’ll get around to rewatching it, honest!). It’s Bea’s first chapter appearance in over a year (last seen when she was knocked out in the Natural Progression Series tournament by eventual winner Toni Storm all the way back at chapter 40).

There’s a jump start as Charli Evans leaps into Bea and Nina, before hitting a nice fallaway slam on Bea for an early one count. More payback follows as Charli and Millie pepper Bea with kicks, before Samuels tagged in and looked to turn things around, only to eat a flying ‘rana as Millie picked up a two-count.

Evans keeps it going by sending Nina into the buckles, following up with a back suplex…but a distraction from Bea gives Nina a way back in, as a tiltawhirl backbreaker gets her on top, with Charli getting isolated in the wrong corner. Bea stomps on Charli’s forearm, right outta NXT, before firing into the corner with a big boot and a vicious knee to the face. There’s more of the same from Nina as Bea continues to focus on the arm, following up from the attack at the Dome.

Bea pulled Millie off the apron as Charli remained in the ring for a little longer, but she eventually nails a crossbody off the ropes and tags in Millie, who instantly dumps folks with German suplexes. Yep, it’s not a good time to be Bea Priestley with suplexes like that coming your way! Duelling dives follow as Millie dives through the corner while Charli flies off the top rope… but back inside Bea hit back with a stomp to nearly end the match.

Priestley nicks her boyfriend’s spot with a Cheeky Nando’s kick, which Samuels follows up on with a powerbomb out of the corner. The ring fills for a brief Parade of Moves, ending with a spear to Bea, before Nina’s powerbomb to Millie almost caused an upset. Samuels heads up top, but takes too long as Millie catches her with a belly-to-belly superplex, then a Destroyer as Millie gets the win. Really enjoyable stuff, and for once, we didn’t have a match featuring rarely-used names that was played to silence. PROGRESS have a star in the making with Millie, but like with other promotions, they want to play the long game and not get caught in a race. ***¼

WWE United Kingdom Championship: Joseph Conners vs. Pete Dunne (c)
It’s back-to-back shows with WWE UK title defences, as Joseph Conners finally gets the crack he was meant to have had in Sheffield. He’s trolling the crowd by wearing an “Everyone Welcome” t-shirt, knocking the crowd for their rejection of him in prior shows.

Dunne got the hometown pop, and also for not being Joseph Conners… with the challenger whacking Dunne with a chair before the bell. It’s legal, because the bell didn’t ring… and when it does, Conners dumps Dunne head-first into the corners for some head drops. A quick headbutt from Peter puts paid to that, before he gives the crowd a wake-up call, turfing our pal Joseph deep into the fourth row on two sides of the ring.

They stay outside for a bit as Dunne puts the boots to Conners, not unlike how he did Chris Brooks for Rev Pro a week earlier, leading to the two trading back suplexes on the apron. Conners gets a receipt for earlier, throwing Dunne into the crowd, but an attempt to lawn-dart Peter ends with him taking a back body drop on the floor instead. With Joel otherwise distracted, Dunne gets a receipt of his own for a chairshot, but that too is met with retaliation in the form of a tiltawhirl slam onto the floor. Guys… there’s a ring there?

Finally Conners takes it back into the ring as he beckoned Jim Smallman down to the ring with a microphone, and it’s a mid-match promo as Conners says that the crowd have all been dicks. An enziguiri ends the troll job, before Dunne busts out an X-Plex into an armbar as Peter looks for a submission. Conners tries for another Awful Waffle, but Dunne escapes and gets in a powerbomb as the match looked to be heading to a conclusion.

Conners – whom commentary painted as being obsessed with the WWE UK title – bursts back in with a DDT out of a Bitter End attempt, following with a sunset bomb and a slingshot DDT… but Dunne’s up at one after all that. Whoops! An attempt at something off the top rope ends with Dunne countering into a sunset bomb off the middle rope instead, as Conners finally gets his push-down stomp in.

A swift forearm from Dunne swats away his flying challenger, as Dunne shows him what a double stomp is… and we’re back to the match being fairly even. At least until Dunne responds to a bunch of forearms with a gunshot-like shot of his own, that is. Dunne tries for the Bitter End, but Conners grabs the referee and mule kicks Dunne before hitting the ultimate troll job: a Pedigree for a near-fall!

Conners tries for the Don’t Look Down DDT, but Dunne bites his way free and turns it into a Kimura… but the DDT’s hit anyway as Conners almost snatched the gold. Things quickly go wrong when Conners crashed and burned with a tope, and Dunne takes advantage of that, hitting a tombstone on the outside before rolling Conners back in for a Bitter End for win. Another special match for Dunne to add to his ever-growing list – and easily the most threatening Conners has looked in PROGRESS. As to where you go with either guy after here… *shrugs*! ****

Hi there, plugs for 2018 big shows that aren’t sold out!

Adam Brooks vs. Will Ospreay
The debuting “Loose Ledge” got what sounded like an overdub for his first match of his current UK tour.

Brooks came flying out of the gate as he looked to send a message… but Ospreay quickly hit back with a dropkick as their rivalry from last summer reignited in an instant. We’re quickly in with the dives with a nice tope suicida, as Ospreay gave Brooks a tour of the ringside area, culminating in Ospreay eating a Downward Spiral into a chair.

That’s quickly overshadowed when Brooks gets an overhead belly-to-belly into a luckily-placed crew, before bringing Brooks back inside for some thunderous chops. Brooks gets a receipt for that suplex, with Ospreay crashing into the turnbuckles a la Hiromu Takahashi, but it’s only good for a two-count for the Aussie, whose mocking of the newly-crowned IWGP junior champ almost cost him…

…except he’s able to shrug off Ospreay and dump him with a rope-hung DDT. As you were. Ospreay instantly turns up the pace, flipping off the ropes until he nailed Brooks with the overhead kick. He’s forced to abort the Shibata dropkick, and instead get off a gamengiri and an over-the-top-rope 619. Show-off. Finally, that Shibata dropkick follows, as does a corkscrew standing moonsault, but we’re still in the land of the two-counts for Ospreay.

A springboard forearm is next up for Ospreay, but him calling out for a Rainmaker costs him as Brooks elbows it away, only to get taken into the corner for the Cheeky Nando’s. The OsCutter whiffs as Brooks instead goes for an Ushigoroshi… which Ospreay manages to escape out of, albeit by landing hard on his shoulder. Still, Will’s able to go for a Sasuke special… which he misses as Brooks goes one better, following in with a Meteora for a solid two-count.

Another Ospreay fightback sees him slip out of a superplex, but the Cheeky Nando’s is also avoided before they trade off kicks and knees… Ospreay flips out of a lariat, but doesn’t have an answer for a shotgun dropkick… except to nail a Stundog Millionaire as that breathless series left the crowd on their feet. When they return, it’s hard right hand shots from both men before a spit from Brooks amps it up just a little more.

Like, enough to wake up an angry Ospreay, as elbows and forearms pepper Brooks in the corner. Chris Roberts gets involved, and Ospreay shoves him away… before a flying lungblower spiked Ospreay on his head for another near-fall. Out of nowhere, Ospreay rebounds with a standing Spanish fly, before he’s caught in the ropes when Brooks shoves away a springboard. That looked awkward. What didn’t look awkward was how Ospreay countered what I assumed was going to be an apron Destroyer from Brooks, but again we have a Roberts Crutch as Brooks shoves the ref into the ropes to crotch Ospreay. The Aussie tries to capitalise on that with a top rope ‘rana… and Ospreay flips wildly before getting spiked with a tornado DDT… and finally the Loose Ledge Driver – a springboard apron Destroyer. Holy hell that was nuts. A rather more sedate senton bomb off the top follows, but Ospreay’s still kicking out.

Brooks tries to create an advantage by unhooking the turnbuckle pad… but with the referee too busy re-attaching the pad, Brooks kicks Will low and rolls him up for another two-count… and just like that, a Rainmaker from Ospreay drops Brooks, as does the decapitation elbow, before an imploding 450 splash KEEPS THE NEAR FALLS A’COMING! OsCutter! That’s it folks! Ospreay threw the kitchen sink at Adam Brooks, and I think we’ve got an early match of the year contender – at least in Europe. Holy crap, that was special – and I don’t think it’s the last we’ll see these two together. ****¼

Brooks gets a “please come back” chant. Yeah, he’ll be back…

Before the next match, Jim gets distracted by how the lights raise up in time… so he decides to get the crowd to do Bobby Roode “Glorious” pose in sync.

Jimmy Havoc & Mark Haskins vs. Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher)
Any talk of Havoc and Haskins officially getting the “Entropy” tag is long gone, as I guess it’s too soon for another bad guy group with a name. Just as I say that, Glen Joseph mentions that word… so what do I know?

Haskins goes for his roll-up Sharpshooter early on Fletcher, but the Aussie escapes before we get the duelling dropkick spot… which Haskins responds to how he really should. By bumrushing Fletcher away from a tag out. Fletcher eventually gets it though, as Mark Davis shrugs off a chop from Haskins… and the response is just what you expect. Mark Davis, swinging for the fences, as Jimmy Havoc exclaimed “what are you doing?!” to his partner.

Havoc tags in and gets some too, but he instantly tags out as he don’t want none of that.

Haskins returns and nearly falls to a standing moonsault from Fletcher… but Haskins takes him outside for a properly snapped suplex from Havoc on the floor, which looked to jar Fletcher’s shin as he clutched his leg for a spell afterwards. Eventually, Havoc and Haskins have had enough of waiting, so they go back after them, sending Davis into the crowd as Fletcher’s thrown back in for more dissection.

A camel clutch from Haskins left Fletcher wide open for an eye poke from Havoc, as they’re literally toying around with the kid, with Havoc “tagging in” as the still blinded Fletcher just went for the first tag he could see. Eventually Fletcher’s able to roll away and make the hot tag to Davis, with Dunkzilla obliterating the two H’s with kicks and chops… a Shotgun chop left the two in the corner ahead of a sliding forearm, as Havoc fell to a one-handed powerbomb.

Fletcher’s back to keep it going, with a vicious stomp to a doubled-over Haskins, before a swinging side suplexed knocked Havoc to the outside ahead of a senton dive from Kyle to the floor. Haskins’ attempt to fake out a dive ends with him getting caught for a pop-up cutter, but Havoc’s back to kick Davis in the chest after a missed charge to the outside. Fletcher keeps up as he tries to lawn-dart Havoc into the turnbuckles, but Haskins makes a save, as the Aussie’s planted with the Kiss of Death for a near-fall. Nope, the Jig ‘n’ Tonic and facebuster’s not doing it. A slingshot from Haskins ends up with Fletcher dumping Havoc with a Destroyer as the near-falls keep coming… a Fidget Spinner nearly does it after a superkick stops the Pull Up Piledriver.

Another missed dive sees Davis crash and burn, as Fletcher’s left alone again for a Rainmaker/kick combination that proved to be enough. This was pretty even, but it was a decisive victory as Havoc and Haskins continue to tear through the PROGRESS roster without seemingly being deemed for title contention. Yet… ***½

PROGRESS World Championship: Chris Brookes vs. Travis Banks (c)
After TK Cooper asked for – and got – a title shot at the end of the Unboxing Live show, another of Travis’ tag partners borrowed the idea, as he upgraded from his planned match with Chris Ridgeway to this.

There’s a nice spot before the bell where Brookes swipes away Lykos’ offer of the baking tray… fortunately it was the only thing he swiped away as Banks offer of a handshake was accepted, but Brookes fires straight in with a dropkick and a tope con giro… with Banks instantly returning fire with low-pes.

Brookes tries to hit back with a suplex off the apron, but he’s instead forced to block a Takahashi-style sunset bomb to the floor, before he uses the ring apron to obscure Banks’ vision and stomp on his face. Eh, if it works, it works… Something else that worked was chops. Lots and lots of chops as they brawled around the ringside area, where the ring apron again came into play as Brookes pinned Banks against the apron, revealing a more vicious, less-wholesome side of himself in the process.

Brookes tries to use a chair, which eventually gets kicked into his face, but that’s shrugged off as he takes Banks into the corner to work over his shoulder. Hey, it’s your other tag partner who’s got the bad shoulder, not Travis…

Moving away from the shoulder, Brookes pulls Travis into a camel clutch for an extra drippy wet willie, but he pulls away and drops Brookes with a forearm instead, eventually knocking him down for a cannonball… which is countered with a boot to the head instead! Banks has a counter too, turning the slingshot cutter into a German suplex, before no-selling a response as Chris Brookes really hasn’t learned. A leaping clothesline gets Brookes down once again for a Kiwi Krusher, but it’s reversed into a brainbuster to leave both men laying!

They end up outside, where Banks manages to spring off the apron with a Slice of Heaven, before Brookes wipes out some chairs as he’s sent flying with a death valley driver into the crowd. Back inside, the Coast to Coast sees Banks capitalise on a recuperating Brookes for a near-fall, as the crowd wakes up with duelling chants during back-and-forth strikes. The breathless series of kicks and strikes left Brookes down, but he lands one of Banks’ own Kiwi Krushers before turning him into a Lion’s clutch as someone’s saved enough finishers to steal his mate’s moves! Banks easily flips out, and returns the favour with an Octopus stretch! Brookes makes it to the ropes, before a hiptoss sent both men awkwardly through the ropes to the floor as the hold was broken by hook or by crook.

Both men narrowly beat the count, as Banks goes back to the strikes, only for his follow up at a Slice of Heaven to miss as Brookes turned his own Octopus stretch into a pinning predicament. Banks retaliates with a Lion’s Clutch, which Brookes taps to… once his foot was in the ropes. That confusion almost cost Banks as he kicks out of Death by Roll-up at two, before eating a slingshot cutter as those near-falls keep on coming for the challenger.

An errant pump kick wipes out Chris Roberts – to a massive cheer – and gives Chris Brookes the chance to hit a Praying Mantis Bomb. But with no ref, it’s for nought as all he gets is the visual ten-count pin… and with no replacement forthcoming, Brookes goes to plan B: shortcuts.

He grabs the PROGRESS title belt from Jim Smallman, and after he removes his CCK wrist strap, signifying the darker Brookes, he threatens a belt shot… but a moment of hesitation sees him change his mind… and open the door for a shotgun dropkick and a stomp from Banks instead. The ref’s still down, so plan C comes into effect as a baking tray shot and the Praying Mantis Bomb almost gets the win… but Banks gets out at the last second!

Another Octopus hold follows, but TK Cooper heads out to pull out the referee to a chorus of boos… presumably to even things up after the cheating. With Brookes distracted, Banks comes in with a Slice of Heaven for a near-fall, before the Lion’s Clutch forces the submission – with a smattering of boos hailing that particular result. Well then… this felt like a real no-win situation. The darker side of Chris Brookes is almost surely a hint of things to come, while you have to wonder if some part of TK feels that he can beat Banks easier than he can Brookes?

A really good main event, slightly hurt by the crowd not knowing who to cheer and who to boo until late on, but bell-to-bell, this was good stuff. ****

After the match, the camera picked up a neat shot of TK staring at the title belt while tending to Banks… and we’re back to TK’s return last July as CCK and the South Pacific Power Trip stay in the ring. There’s a shoving match between Banks and Brookes, but in the end Banks gets a handshake while TK… has a middle finger thrust his way. The distrust continues when TK refuses to hand over the belt, as the former South Pacific Power Trip bicker on their way to the back…

Chapter 61 was another really good show from PROGRESS, who are starting to get back into a groove after the “eggy” post-Alexandra Palace stage. The interplay between Chris Brookes and TK Cooper I feel isn’t just there for the heck of it and may be leading somewhere pretty soon, especially since TK’s getting his title shot at Chapter 62 at the end of the month. Elsewhere, Will Ospreay’s first advertised match back didn’t give us “the reason why he’s back”, but it did produce a phenomenal outing against Adam Brooks, whose presence on these shores is almost surely going to make many mis-spell his surname.

  • “Chapter 61 – Don’t Touch Me… Don’t… Don’t Touch Me” is available now via – either to rent, buy, or as part of their monthly subscription service.