After a trip back to the 70s, PROGRESS came back for a rare show in Sheffield – with an unfortunate change in card to boot.

We’re in the O2 Academy in Sheffield, and after Jim Smallman’s opening salvo, he invites out an old friend. It’s the former Nixon Newell, known today as Steffanie Newell as she’s inbetween her real name and her new WWE name of Tegan Nox. Wearing a knee brace after picking up an injury the prior night on an NXT show at the Download festival, Newell revealed that as a precaution, she’d not be able to wrestle… Instead, she’s picked a replacement… Dakota Kai! Kai called back to the last time she faced Jinny, at PROGRESS Boston, and vowed she’d make it another win over her tonight. Well, in an almost non-PG way.

Damien Corvin vs. Michael Dante
We’ve a pair of returns here, with Corvin in for the first time since January 2017, when the Kings of the North lost to the London Riots, while Michael Dante’s back for the first time in almost two years. He was here last when the Atlas title tournament was a thing… and now he’s in a match to get a title shot.

Corvin tried to come out of the gates at Dante, but gets dropped with a clothesline as the Dutchman looked to edge ahead, but Corvin’s quickly in with a death valley driver for a near-fall. A low dropkick’s good for a near-fall on Dante, who replies with a shoulder block and a back senton for a two-count.

Corvin stops a clothesline on the apron and hits a uranage to take Dante to the outside, where a nice plancha sees him take the Dutchman down! Back in the ring, an elbow exchange ends with Dante blocking one and dumping Corvin with a suplex, before he’s caught with a Tower of London as the King of the North almost took the win. There’s perhaps a bit too much telegraphing on a clothesline as Corvin’s caught in a back suplex for a near-fall, but he’s right back in with a kick in the corner, before Dante lands a spear for the win. This was a little on the slow side for my liking – almost like Corvin was having to wrestle at Dante’s pace… still, enough people remembered the former Sumerian Death Squad member, so this was a popular win. Personally, I’d rather they didn’t do these “hey, two faces from the past suddenly return to get a title shot” style matches. If this is your first time seeing a singles Corvin match, I implore you to seek out his match from OTT the prior weekend against Sean Guinness. **¼

Thunderbastard Tag Team Series: Anti-Fun Police (Chief Deputy Dunne & Los Federales Santos Jr.) vs. Mark Haskins & Flash Morgan Webster
The Anti-Fun Police are a weird thing – now babyfaces in ATTACK!, Santos is pretty much a folk hero everywhere, while the newly-full-time Dunne remains reviled. It’s their first match in the Thunderbastard Series, while Haskins and Webster are back for their second match.

Except this time, they came out to the NWA’s “Fuck the Police”, while wearing Nailz-like jumpsuits. Because of course they did! I must say, I like how Haskins is colour-coordinating, wearing a orange scarf since that part of the rock cowboy from 40 years ago is sticking with him. Speaking of, there were quite a few “eh, remember (that thing) from the show we did 40 years ago” references, which I’m sure will grate with a certain section of fans. After flipping off the police, Dunne and Santos try to jump their opponents, but are quickly taken outside for some duelling topes as Webster and Haskins were in cruise control early. Webster’s the first to get rid of his Nailz gear, fortunately wearing something underneath, as Dunne was left in the ropes and generally isolated. For a change, the odd couple of Webster and Haskins were working quite well, with Haskins faking out a kick before he just punched Dunne in the face.

Webster scores with a leg trip and a Special Brew Flip to Dunne, but that just draws in Santos to start dancing, as we’re not to do that. Not sure why he came in for that, but I guess that’s his bit here. It’s a distraction anyway as Dunne dropkicks Webster for a near-fall, Santos gets the tag in and slams Webster with ease, which started a spell of offence for the Anti-Fun Police. A knee puts Webster down for a near-fall, but Flash manages to rock Santos with a boot in the corner before flipping over him, and finally getting the tag into Haskins.

Haskins is all about those kicks to Santos, leaving him wobbly and in the ropes for a kick to the head. A flying double stomp is enough for a near-fall, as Dunne comes in and gets taken care of with a Brit Pop Drop. Santos charges back at Webster and Haskins, who were suddenly working well together with no problems whatsoever, before they were met with a double-team Flatliner!

Dunne’s back in with a stomp-assisted Big Ending, which really needs a new name here, before the Anti-Fun Police’s “false alarm” enziguiris backfired. Just like Dunne’s springboard lungblower, which took down Haskins, before Webster’s headbutts rocked Santos and Dunne. In the end, it took a distraction from Vicki to get the win, as Webster hits a low blow on Santos, allowing Haskins to roll him up for the win. This was alright, but what happened to have Haskins and Webster suddenly on the same page? With not even a hint of confliction? **¾

After that, the Thunderbastard Series currently looks like this:
1. Webster & Haskins – P2 W2 – 4pts
2. Gibson & Drake – P1 W1 – 2pts
3. Aussie Open – P2 W1 – 2pts
4. CCK – P0 – 0pts
4. Sexy Starr – P0 – 0pts
6. Anti-Fun Police – P1 – 0pts
7. Mills & Mayhew – P2 – 0pts

Natural PROGRESSion Series Semi-Final: Danny Duggan vs. Mark Davis
The winner faces Chris Ridgeway at Chapter 72: Got Got Need… Duggan got here with a qualifying win over Sid Scala, then a quarter-final victory over Danny Jones. Davis, on the other hand, beat his tag team partner Kyle Fletcher to qualify, before easing past Maverick Mayhew.

Davis was by far and away the crowd favourite here, and we started off with the basics as Dunkzilla grabbed a headlock and kept hold of it, despite some of Duggan’s attempts to escape. I don’t know why, but in among the counters and reversals, I smirked a little as Glen Joseph wished Drew Parker well for CZW’s Tournament of Death, which took place the day before… After missing one, Duggan hits a second dropkick, then an enziguiri, before running into a whoopee cushion from Davis for a near-fall. Duggan’s back with chops in the corner, but Davis throws harder… much, much harder. A ducked chop ends badly as Duggan catches Davis’ arm and gets it in the face before returning fire with a leg lariat.

Duggan tries to leap off the middle rope but gets a boot to the face as Davis goes for a shoulder breaker, before nonchalantly dumping him to the mat and squashing him with a back senton for a two-count. More chops keep Duggan rocked, but he’s able to hit the dropkick out of the middle rope and a knee to the face, as Davis rolled onto the apron. A springboard, Jericho-like dropkick takes Davis to the floor for a tope, before he returned in with a crossbody for a near-fall.

Duggan tries to lift Davis in a waistlock, but instead scores with a superman punch that draws boos… because of course it does. A German suplex almost puts away the Aussie, who’s rocked with clotheslines after kicking out, before he returned fire with one of his own. The Alphamare Waterslide’s next from Dunkzilla for a near-fall, as Davis just unleashes on Duggan with palmstrikes, only to get caught with a sit-out powerbomb out of nowhere!

Nevermind, Davis is right back in after that with a punch, and that’s it. Pretty abrupt for a finish, but a really solid contest. It’s a Davis/Ridgeway final, and let’s be fair, there wasn’t much chance that Danny “People Wish I Was Jim” Duggan was getting there… but credit to him for absorbing the assaults he did. With any luck he’ll be back, but with a bit of a character other than having an unfortunate surname… ***½

Deathmatch: Spike Trivet vs. Jimmy Havoc
So, with Jimmy Havoc having been challenged to regain his killer instinct ahead of his match with Will Ospreay at Wembley, he’s back in familiar deathmatch territory – one year on from winning CZW’s Tournament of Death, in fact.

Spike Trivet’s made a bit of a name for himself in these matches as well, having had a war with Drew Parker at the Tufnell Park Dome earlier in the year, in a match that ended with him being sent through a mirror. Not pretty. Before the bell, Trivet told us he’d had a message from “William Ospreay” with some “home truths” about Havoc… calling him homeless and an alcoholic. So a gift of a bottle of Prosecco perhaps wasn’t a good idea, as he proceeded to give Jimmy £60 “in memory of his Tournament of Death” pay-off. Yeah. Havoc rocks him with the bottle, and we’re underway!

Spike rolls away from a cannonball in the corner and begins to put the boots to Jimmy, before an attempt at a chairshot ended with him getting it punched into his face. Havoc takes him outside as the plunder comes into play, with some staples through the shirt, to the tongue, and of course, to the groin. Somehow, Spike overcomes that and tosses Jimmy into the crowd, before taking control of the staple gun to attach money to Jimmy’s arms.

A tenner stapled to the face wakes up Havoc, who tosses Spike into the crowd before grabbing another chair or two from under the ring. There’s baking trays too, which get wrapped around Trivet’s head, before another tray, with thumbtacks glued to the underneath, was grabbed and used against Jimmy. On the outside, Jimmy’s bleeding, and there’s a pair of scissors ominously in the ring… of course Trivet’s got them and tries to slice away at Jimmy’s arm as 2018’s answer to Brutus the Barber Beefcake was a little twisted.

There’s a lemon too, because what else is death match wrestling without squeezing citric acid into cuts? Still, at least it gave the crowd a chance to make a funny: “same old Tories, always cutting”…

A hiptoss takes Havoc into the corner, as he’s set up for a Tree of Woe, giving us a visual of blood dripping onto the mat as Spike decides to get some canvas, and paint it with Jimmy’s own blood. It’s like a sick version of Titanic, as Trivet drew Jimmy like one of his French girls… or a not-exactly-kid-friendly version of Art Attack. Neil Buchanan would never do this. Havoc’s eventually back to his feet as he confronted the artist with a rolling elbow, before using Trivet’s tie to restrain him for a barrage of elbows. Chops come next as that shirt’s ripped apart, before Trivet avoids a Burning Hammer onto a chair. He can’t avoid a DDT as Havoc took over, setting the chair on its side only to get dropped onto it with a sidewalk slam. Ow.

On the outside, Havoc whacks Spike with a bag of something. Of course it’s drawing pins, and of course Jimmy gets dumped into them with a sit-out front suplex and a DDT as Spike was looking fairly comfortable here. A death valley driver into some chairs comes next for Spike, but still Jimmy’s kicking out, so Trivet grabs the microphone and cuts a mid-match promo on Jimmy, baiting him into life. Spike drills Jimmy with a trio of chairshots to the head – unprotected for those who nitpick those things – for a one-count, before a slam into some tacks and another headshot ended the match. It was remarkably one-sided, as I guess this was the first chapter in Jimmy hitting rock bottom before rebounding. Tough to watch, but having seen the Tournament of Death from the prior night, this wasn’t quite the gratuitous violence from that show. Thankfully. ***¼

The crowd rose to their feet and applauded Jimmy as he headed to the back… during interval, the ring gets a new canvas, which usually means we’re done with death matches and blood in PROGRESS for a little while.

Chris Brookes vs. Angelico
A bit of a follow-on from Super Strong Style 16 (but not really) as two of the guys eliminated in the first round square off.

Chris Brookes gives off a golf clap to the “hey, ho, Angelico” chant as Glen Joseph tried to refer to the Spiderman meme with this match. Erm, El Phantasmo, Glen? You had him forty years ago.. Brookes starts by working the arm as they kept things on the ground, with Angelico tripping Brookes from the mat as he tried to grab a heel hook… but yeah, Brookes is tall and can get to the ropes easily. An Indian deathlock gets Brookes a slice of things, but they’re pretty close to the ropes and Angelico’s able to roll over and get a break with the greatest of ease.

A waistlock takedown puts Brookes down, but we’re into lucha-stylings as we’ve a lot of takedowns and quick recoveries ahead of a square-off. Angelico styles out of an armdrag as another flurry ended with a dropkick from the South African, as Brookes was taken outside for a teased Fall of the Angels into the ring post… but Brookes wriggled free and stomped Angelico’s head in the apron. Back in the ring, Brookes started to take control, working the arm, forcing Angelico into the ropes for freedom.

Brookes tried to go for a brainbuster, but Angelico punches his way free and hits a Capoeira-style kick from the ground, taking Brookes to the outside for a dive… but he sidesteps it and instead superkicks Angelico in the gut as they headed into the crowd instead. Angelico finds something to jump off of as he crashes into Brookes, and we’re back in the ring as a spider monkey-like sunset flip almost ends the match in Angelico’s favour. Angelico looked for the Fall of the Angels again, but instead Brookes wriggled free and traps him with an Octopus in the ropes before getting rocked with an overhead kick. That sends him onto the floor, but he’s back in with a slingshot cutter for a near-fall, before he teased a Praying Mantis Bomb… only for Angelico to take him onto the apron. Another slingshot cutter’s stopped with a superkick, then with a bicycle knee as Brookes tried to leap out of the corner again.

We’ve another crack at Fall of the Angels, this time with Brookes getting dumped with the buckle bomb, but Angelico can’t quickly follow-up as his knee’d been worn down… meaning that a senton saw him land on Brookes’ knees, before the Praying Mantis Bomb got the win. Really good stuff here as Chris Brookes got (technically) his first win after Super Strong Style 16… and with Brookes threatening to do the Thunderbastard Series on his own, it’s perhaps not as stupid a proposition as it looks. ***½

Post-match, Brookes takes the microphone and addresses the situation with CCK – particularly Kid Lykos’ status with the promotion. The crowd falls silent, but there’s an interruption from Vicki Haskins… as she provided a distraction for Mark Haskins and Flash Morgan Webster to attack Brookes from behind. Haskins vowed to eliminate Brookes… but after Flash swung his helmet at Brookes, he’s eventually saved by…

A returning wolf! Off comes the shoulder strap, here comes the brainbuster, and Kid Lykos is back in action!

Jack Sexsmith & WALTER vs. South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper & Travis Banks)
There’s strings tied to this match – if Jack or WALTER win, they get an unspecified title shot (I’d assume, at Travis Banks)… if they’re pinned by Banks, they can’t get another shot while he’s champion, while a win for TK would translate to an Atlas title shot. Because why not?

It’s Sexsmith and TK who start us off, with Cooper jumping into an atomic drop early on, before he shoved out of a Pearl Neckbreaker and tagged in Banks… before accidentally shoving Jack into his own corner to bring WALTER in. Banks tries to walk away from it, but for some reason Sexsmith tagged back in as nothing was happening.

Jack throws some chops to Banks, who laughs it off… and drops Jack with a forearm instead, before he walked into the path of a chop from WALTER… who tagged in, prompting Banks to beg off and tags in TK, who happily chops WALTER, only to get carved down himself. Repeatedly. Sexsmith throws a chop or two as TK’s isolated ahead of a sit-down splash that almost got WALTER a win.

WALTER’s staying on top with a Boston crab on TK, something that Travis Banks tries to chop away… but WALTER does not flinch, and instead stands up to chop the champion down. TK’s able to suckerpunch WALTER with a forearm, as Sexsmith makes a save, leaving both of the Kiwis outside for a cannonball off the top. Yeah, WALTER’s not going to fly. He doesn’t do that… but what he does do, is press slam his partner into them! Hey, if it works, it works!

TK’s back in with a belt shot as referee Chris Roberts was distracted for… reasons, but a flying stomp from Banks can’t get the job done. Cooper and Banks begin to put the boots to WALTER, but the Austrian’s back in with chops and boots as he made light work of his opponents, almost forcing TK to tap before Banks flipped him over for a near-fall. With WALTER still on the back foot, the Kiwis combine for the Roman Reigns special – a Superman punch and a spear – but Sexsmith makes the save to keep the match alive.

WALTER finally tags out as Sexsmith clears house, superkicking the heck out of TK, before countering a headbutt into the Sliced Bread! A dropkick through the ropes to Banks is caught as the Kiwis eventually worked their way into a springboard flip leg drop onto a hung-up Sexsmith for another near-fall. Banks tried to prove a point by chopping Sexsmith, but Jack’s got plenty of fight left in him, which is just as well as he’s left cornered before he countered a suplex from TK into a neckbreaker!

Banks pulls WALTER off the apron to prevent a tag out, as TK hits a version of the Made in Japan on Sexsmith instead. Jack tries to fly, but he’s caught up top before countering a Spanish Fly with a front suplex as he nailed his Rainbow Road destroyer instead. The ring begins to fill as Banks runs in with a clothesline and a Lion’s clutch, but WALTER breaks that up by powerbombing TK onto the pile. A slap from WALTER to his partner was done out of love, and it seemed to work as Sexsmith fired up, hits a dualling clothesline then made a tag out as the crowd began to roar… because they know what’s next.

WALTER CHOPS!

Clotheslines too, and German suplexes, as WALTER was on his proverbial killing spree, before he’s caught in the corner… and escapes to give out dualling German suplexes to both TK and Travis at the same time. Sexsmith’s lifted up top by WALTER for the BDSM-assisted powerbomb, but then there’s dissension as they argued over who’d take the pin. Banks takes advantage of it by kicking away at them as a Parade of Moves broke out, ending with a shotgun dropkick to Banks, and a lariat of death to TK.

From there, TK’s rolled over into a Boston crab, but Banks teases a belt shot… which’d do no good as he’d have to face WALTER anyway. Nevermind. Sexsmith superkicks the belt into Banks’ face, then stares at it… before he kisses WALTER and dives into Banks, giving the Austrian the open door he needed to clothesline TK and win his next title shot! This was a really good match in a vacuum, without too much of that “hey, I want the pin” bollocks until the final. With Chuck Mambo having a title shot at the next chapter, thanks to the PROGRESS World Cup win, you’d perhaps wager that WALTER’ll cash in on the Germany tour, but we’ll wait and see. ***¾

Outside of the vacuum, why did WALTER have to give up his Atlas title if he was just going to be thrust into a title contender’s match like this? It’s a nitpick, but one of a number of frayed ends that are appearing here…

PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Dakota Kai vs. Jinny (c)
In her first title defence, Jinny wasn’t alone: Chakara was by her side here as she faced “replacement” opponent Dakota Kai, who of course had the future Tegan Nox with her.

Jinny takes a rather inordinate amount of time to get battle ready, but when we get going, it starts off as a ground-based affair, with Jinny and Dakota keeping each other at bay. Or in Dakota’s case, confusing Jinny by endlessly rolling around her before staggering into a headlock. A leap over a charging Jinny almost got an upset as Kai gets a near-fall from a roll-up, before the leader of Team Kick lived up to her name, almost winning with a kick.

Jinny gets back in with some headbutts, except Dakota’s rocking the whole Samoan thing, and so they don’t affect her one bit. Unlike the PK Dakota blasted Jinny with on the outside…

Back on the inside, Jinny trips Kai into the corner and followed up with a Drive By-like dropkick as the tide started to turn, even more so when Jinny’s Shibata-ish dropkick in the corner gets a near-fall as the New Zealander got a hand to the ropes. A Japanese stranglehold on the mat keeps Kai restrained, but she leans back and almost turned the negative into a positive… only to get decked with a forearm as Jinny stayed on top with a series of stomps.

Jinny stretches Kai in the ropes, all while Chakara ominously watches on… and sure enough, there’s cheapshots as referee Joel Allen’s back is turned. She trips over as Steffanie Newell went after her, but she’s back up to take more shots as Dakota’s hurled to the outside, hitting the ringpost and taking an awkward landing in the process. Kai’s quickly returned to the ring, but she avoids an Acid Rainmaker and countered with a kick, only to get pulled into a seated surfboard – eventually leading to a rope break when Kai got an arm free.

Dakota snaps right back in with a push-down stomp out of the corner, folding Jinny in two, as we’re back to them trading forearms as they fought back to their feet. The comeback continues as Kai cornered Jinny for some running kicks, following up with a face-washing boot that almost got the win, before Jinny fought back with a Style Clash. Somehow Kai’s able to kick out from that, before she tried once more to kick Jinny away as she worked up into a… Destroyer back cracker?! What in the hell?! That should have won the match, but Chakara pulls out the referee at two, before hitting the ring to clock Kai with the belt… and despite returning to the ring to drape Jinny onto Dakota in full view of the ref, Joel Allen hits the mat three times, only to call it a two-count!

The match carried on as the crowd tried to fire up Kai one more time, but Jinny’s straight back in with a Rainmaker for the win. This was fine, but felt rather odd. Yeah, you ticked the box of “needs outside interference to win” help, but the substitution meant that a fair bit of the shine of the match wasn’t there, and as such it just didn’t “feel” like a main event. Perhaps they should have swapped things around when Newell’s injury was confirmed? ***

After the match, Newell called out Jinny and offered a fight for the PROGRESS Women’s title once her knee had healed. Fair enough. That they’re going back to that makes you think they had plans that had merely been delayed, rather than derailed.

PROGRESS Chapter 71, with an absurd acronym that we’ll never figure out, was a decent show, but to me it somehow felt underwhelming at points… even though I just can’t put my finger on where. The death match was a bit of a shocker, with Spike Trivet’s upset win seeming to do more for the fall of Jimmy Havoc than anything we’ll see in the near future in PROGRESS, while the Brookes/Angelico outing, however good it was, was there to set up the return of CCK – much needed, as well, since the Thunderbastard series was starting to veer into an awkward area, with some teams on two matches with others yet to even play. There’s plenty on this to keep you going until the next PROGRESS chapter, this Sunday in Camden, where surely the hype train for Wembley will pick up steam as we’re just a shade over three months out from the biggest PROGRESS show to date.

  • “Chapter 71 – F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.P.R.O.G.R.E.S.S.” is available now via Demand-PROGRESS.com – either to rent, buy, or as part of their monthly subscription service.