The Natural PROGRESSion Series ended up taking centre stage, while Will Ospreay and Jordan Devlin did their best to snatch some of that spotlight as the road to Wembley continued!
Weighing in at over three hours, this is another mammoth PROGRESS card, so let’s get into it. You know the score in the opening salvo: Jim says hiya, everyone’s celebrating England’s mammoth World Cup win over Panama hours earlier, and then we’re into the matches. Glen Joseph and Matt Richards are on commentary as seems to be the norm these days.
PROGRESS Atlas Championship: Michael Dante vs. Doug Williams (c)
Having beaten Damien Corvin a few weeks earlier in Sheffield, Dante cashed in his title shot pretty quickly as he tried to put an end to Doug Williams’ title reign – and in turn, his career.
Much like prior “I lose, I retire” stories, this suffered from the double whammy that nobody believed that Doug Williams was going to go out against Michael Dante, with all due respect to the Sumerian Death Squad man. Doug started out hot, leaping into Dante with a back elbow off the top rope, but they’re quickly on the outside where Doug gets posted, before getting rolled back in as Dante’s in disbelief that that only got his a one-count.
The tit-for-tat stuff continued, with Williams nearly snatching the win with a small package, but Dante gets right back on him with forearms and nerve holds. Williams fights back with more uppercuts, and has to avoid a half-and-half suplex before he continues with a kneelift and a clothesline. Heading up top, the Bomb Scare knee drop’s aborted as Dante rolled away, before a sunset flip is sat down on for a near-fall for the Dutchman. From the kick-out though, Doug’s right back in with an Exploder and the Bomb Scare knee drop, and that’s all folks. A decent enough match, but let’s be honest… the title run and career was never ending here, was it? **¾
Charlie Morgan vs. Laura di Matteo
After returning at Super Strong Style weekend, Laura di Matteo’s renewed focus on Jinny has now turned into a possible collision course for the PROGRESS Women’s title.
We start with Charlie taking down Laura with some ground and pound, then some boot choking in the corner as the EVE champion shot out of the gates. A missed charge in the corner finally opened the door for Laura, who lands some hiptosses and a dropkick, before a bodyscissor roll-up shocked Morgan for a near-fall… sending Charlie to the outside for the inevitable dive that Charlie cut-off with a forearm.
The House of Couture get involved early on, distracting Laura for long enough for Charlie to recover from an apron DDT, and it’s Morgan who hits back with a springboard forearm out of the corner as Laura’s kept at bay. A Romero special’s next, as Charlie showed no sign of relenting, taking Laura into the corner for the step-up dropkick before she’s caught with an enziguiri as di Matteo mounted a comeback.
Some headscissors send Charlie into the corner, but there’s interference from Chakara as she crotches Laura while Morgan had the referee distracted. Charlie capitalised with a superplex… but she doesn’t go for a cover, instead waiting to start a battle of superkicks, ending when Laura suddenly decided to throw herself outside into Nina and Chakara. Charlie drags her back inside with a facelock, but ends up getting dragged into a grounded Octopus hold… but the numbers game comes into force again as Chakara distracted the ref so Nina Samuels could break up the hold… and it’s Nina’s next interference that backfired, as Charlie was sent crashing into her before a roll-up earned the win. Again, a decent match, but the crowd were far from into this match – perhaps if they’d clearly sign-posted that “this is Laura on a collision course with Jinny” rather than keeping it subtle? **¾
Jordan Devlin vs. Will Ospreay
Hoo boy. This was a late addition to the card, and ended up being the show stealer.
Ospreay had a mixed reaction, leaning in to the boos as the crowd seemed irritated by his words towards Jimmy Havoc last time he was here. Of course, that was to set up a match at Wembley, which isn’t going to happen (at least, not at Wembley…) The early stages saw some scrambling as both men tried to take the upper hand, but it’s Devlin who drew first blood, nailing a uranage, a standing moonsault and a running Meteora as he picked up some near-falls… but Ospreay’s right back in with the over-the-top 619 as he soaked in the crowd’s reaction… then getting angry with it as the crowd chanted “Dev-lin” instead of “Os-preay, Os-preay Os-preay Os-preay”.
A chinlock keeps Devlin down as Ospreay tried to control the crowd as well as the match, but Jordan breaks free and wheelbarrows Ospreay into a double stomp, following up with a gamengiri and a slingshot cutter. Chris Brookes is watching… especially when a brainbuster came next! Ospreay turned it back in his favour with a handspring enziguiri, before a slingshot headscissor took Devlin to the outside, and all of a suden, the front row becomes a danger zone as a Sasuke special turned into a reverse DDT as Devlin almost ended up losing by count out… only to return into a Coast-to-Coast dropkick from Ospreay.
The Bloody Sunday reverse DDT get sa near-fall, but Devlin ducks a hook kick… and eventually drops Ospreay with a Tiger suplex before a tiltawhirl headscissor was countered with an OsCutter of sorts as the match really got heated. More back and forth follows as Ospreay’s caught on the top rope… but the Spanish Fly’s countered as both men landed on their feet, before Ospreay pulled him into a ripcorded Spanish Fly!
Ospreay’s double moonsault, standing shooting star press and a corkscrew press out of the corner nearly does it, before Devlin countered a Storm Breaker into Code Read… and holy crap, this is way too fast to call! Hairs, standing on end! Another hook kick actually connects as Devlin’s taken into the corner, where he rebounds with a Destroyer… and Ospreay still kicks out!
So Devlin tries for the package piledriver, but it’s countered into the Jig ‘n’ Tonic as Ospreay again thumbed his nose towards Jimmy Havoc… following up with an Acid Rainmaker for another two-count. Yep, now this isn’t subtle! A Storm Breaker’s next, but this time Devlin countered into a spiking ‘rana for a near-fall, before a reverse ‘rana left Ospreay loopy… only for a Quebrada to get caught and nicely transitioned into the Storm Breaker… and that’s the win! Jesus Christ. That finishing sequence was out of this world – two of the world’s best putting on an absolute performance… even in defeat, Devlin came off as a star. Now can those final few please shed THOSE chants? ****½
After the match, a crew member came in to help Devlin out of the ring… only to get jumped by Ospreay who was doing his best Jimmy Havoc tribute, dumping the kid with an Acid Rainmaker before putting him mouth-first in the ropes… and stomping the kid’s head into the ropes. Eventually Paul Robinson makes the save and scolds Ospreay, shoving him to the back…
Besties in the World (Davey Vega & Mat Fitchett) & Josh Alexander vs. British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate & Trent Seven)
This was one giant pat on the back for the British Strong Style trio after their efforts at Royal Albert Hall earlier in the week… and by “pat on the back” I of course mean “one long, drawn out entrance which saw them mock Undisputed Era’s hand signal and air guitaring” – so much so that all but the most ardent of fans were perhaps getting a little sick of the sight of those NXT tag title belts.
It was a weird, wacky universe. One that saw Trent Seven go greyer and Tyler Bate morph into a wrestling equivalent of Conor McGregor while holding belts that they’d not won on TV yet… When the match finally got going, it almost threatened to be a case of “after the Lord Mayor’s Show”, with Dunne starting by just wearing Mat Fitchett into the mat… but we go through the usual cycling of tags, with Josh Alexander coming in to a rather muted reaction as he got dumped with an Exploder, then a flip senton off of Trent Seven’s back by Tyler Bate. Dunne’s in to help Tyler with a standing moonsault, before he opts for something similar… he just flips off.
Alexander takes over, with the crowd chanting “he can’t hear us” because of his Rick Steiner-esque headgear, things turn back around as Davey Vega’s taken outside and thrown into the crowd by the ever-ruthless Dunne. Trent Seven chops the ringpost, while in the meantime, Pete Dunne calls for, and gets a barrage of shoes from the crowd… almost like a homage to THAT ECW spot with the chairs. Yes, there’s plenty of shoeing, but Dunne gets it too as someone’s sandal ended up in his mouth.
We go into some of the British Strong Style greatest hits, including Trent kissing his own ball sweat en route to a cricket chop, before Alexander’s in to try and hit some rolling Northern Lights suplexes, before making do with a double suplex to the (sort-of) NXT tag team champions. While Pete Dunne was piggybacking on him. Josh be a strong Canadian hoss. Who the crowd happens to think is wearing his mum’s bra on his head… and is also capable of wiping out Trent with a crossbody off the apron.
That opened things up for the Besties to wipe out Tyler Bate with a pop-up double-team cutter for a near-fall, before an assisted Tyler Driver’s countered with a ‘rana, sending Tyler into Dunne for an accidental DDT. The Besties keep up with a double stomp out of the corner as Dunne ends up taking a dropkick-assisted Blackheart Buster for a near-fall… a tag out brings in Trent to make a brief comeback with chops, building up to an “accidental” DDT between the Besties, before a ripcord lariat to Alexander’s stopped with a pair of superkicks from the Besties. There’s a hellish powerbomb onto the knee by Alexander as we seemed to enter the finishing straight, with an overhead kick from Fitchett getting kicked away in mid-air, before he returned with a double reverse ‘rana amid a long Parade of Moves.
Alexander’s Blue Thunder Bomb made Trent look weightless, but it’s still not enough, as British Strong Style unloaded on Alexander with a relentless series of lariats, only for the Canadian to catch the pair of them in a stacked-up Samoan drop… which turned an accidental piledriver from Dunne to Bate. That was new! The stacking up continues as Vega hits a slam/powerbomb combo, before a top rope moonsault from Alexander nearly put away Trent.
In the end though, Josh Alexander tried to deadlift Trent off the mat into a tombstone, but it’s blocked as the pair went at each other with lariats, until the Seven Star lariat and a Burning Hammer finally gets Trent the win. This was fun, but felt really disjointed in parts. It’s a real “your mileage will vary” thing, but having been turned off of Fight Club Pro and OTT last year by the parade of British Strong Style trios matches, I don’t particularly want to see them revived… ***½
After the match, Pete Dunne stayed back as he addressed the challenge of “Ilja”. Of course, that’s the cue for Christian Michael Jakobi to come out… and yes, the crowd are starting to get the whole “don’t cheer him” vibe. Jakobi teased the arrival of Ilja Dragunov, but we’ve got to pay to see him again. The crowd did NOT like that… Dunne walked off because there was no Ilja, only to be goaded back into the ring by Jakobi, who called him “an over-rated backyard wannabe” and “an insecure little boy”. That, and a slap, was the final straw for Dunne, who chased Jakobi through the crowd… and probably all the way to the airport.
I’m really liking the build to this match – some have compared Jakobi’s character to that of Paul Heyman, as a “super agent” of sorts, and while the similarities are there… you cannot doubt the sheer effectiveness of this build-up.
The start of the second half is interrupted by Eddie Dennis, who’s out with his travel case… and a smattering of “welcome back” chants. He’s here because, now he’s been cleared, he wants to face Mark Andrews… except Mark’s taken an extra-long holiday in Spain. Eddie took exception to some predicting that he’d be getting his match at Wembley… because he wants it sooner.
Thunderbastard Tag Team Series: M&M (Maverick Mayhew & Connor Mills) vs. CCK (Kid Lykos & Chris Brookes)
That’s the “winless M&M” against the returning CCK… and seeing how Mills & Mayhew seem to be on an almighty losing streak, this result seemed to be elementary.
Meanwhile, Kid Lykos (I think) didn’t seem to be too familiar with the Muppets. Mahna mahna.
Although Brookes starts, it’s not long before Lykos got the tag in, but his first attempt at a brainbuster’s stopped before the other kids started to get a foothold in the match. A lucha armdrag from Mayhew takes Brookes down, before M&M sandwich him with kicks… and get instantly destroyed with chops as those “save the children” chants returned. CCK used a version of Connor Mills’ Millshot against Mayhew as the youngster was kept isolated by Brookes, with CCK perhaps showing some of their ruthlessness of old.
Another Lykos brainbuster’s stuffed, giving Mayhew a chance to tag out to a fired-up Mills, who scored with a takedown and a running knee to Brookes, before more knees and forearms left Brookes in place for a diving European uppercut off the middle rope. That surge is almost put to an end when Brookes takes the match outside, with Mayhew crashing into them with a tope con giro… before Mills’ version of Whisper in the Wind from the apron added to that.
CCK take over back inside, with a flying back senton from Brookes almost putting away Mills, who enjoyed another brief resurgence, almost winning with some double knees, before Mayhew gets caught in an inverted cloverleaf, with the head hooked back for extra agony before Mills made yet another save… but it was not to be as Mills gets caught with the Full Moon before the CCK elevated lungblower/back senton combo set the stage a brainbuster/Praying Mantis Bomb combo, and that’s the win for CCK. Competitive, but ultimately the result that was expected here. Interestingly, the storyline seems to be that M&M “can’t win on the big venues” which to me is pointing towards them winning their next series match – on a Live at the Dome show in July – or perhaps… the titles at Wembley?! ***
After that, the Thunderbastard Series currently looks like this:
1. Webster & Haskins – P2 W2 – 4pts
2. Grizzled Young Veterans (c) – P1 W1 – 2pts
2. CCK – P1 W1 – 2pts
4. Aussie Open – P2 W1 – 2pts
5. Sexy Starr – P0 – 0pts
6. Anti-Fun Police – P1 – 0pts
7. M&M – P3 – 0pts
The Natural PROGRESSion Series final was meant to be next… but instead Travis Banks gatecrashed the party. After berating the crowd for not showing the support they did at Royal Albert Hall earlier in the week, Banks recognised that the winner of the NPS would get a title shot… so if his match is on before the final, there’s no way there’d be an instant cash-in. So he demanded to go on before… or he’d walk on out of here. Subtlety hammer.
PROGRESS World Championship: Travis Banks (c) vs. Chuck Mambo
Not shown during the entrances: Chris Roberts destroying part of the Electric Ballroom’s ceiling by kicking one of Mambo’s beachballs high. That ceiling tile’s coming out of your pay!
In the build up to this, TK and Mambo’s web series, “Escaping The Midcard” played up the obvious conflict of interests – namely, whose side would TK be on? Well, to start off with, it was neither, as Travis sent him to the back…
Banks was almost mockingly taking shots at Mambo early on, outclassing him with ease, and even poking fun with a surfboard attempt to boot. That angers Mambo, who started to take the fight to Banks, tripping him as he came back with a surfboard of his own, forcing Banks to scurry to the outside as we had the good ol’ count-out tease. Returning to the ring, Banks is taken down again with a lucha armdrag into a roll-up for a near-fall, before avoiding a dropkick off the apron as Mambo’s hung up in the ropes, then sent crashing to the outside. The pair exchanged shots around ringside, before Banks commandeered someone’s seat to throw Mambo into, as the match descended into a brawl for a moment or two, before a clothesline of sorts gets Banks a near-fall. A flying forearm from Mambo, then a tiltawhirl backbreaker gets him back into it, as he built up some momentum, leading into a Blockbuster off the middle rope.
Just like that though, Banks turned it right back around with dropkick that took Mambo face-first into the buckles for a near-fall… but he misses a Slice of Heaven as Mambo started an exchange of elbows, ending a brief series with a leaping double-knee strike as both men crashed to the mat. We’ve more forearms and elbows, which helped Banks into a leg sweep and a diving knee for a near-fall, before a bridging German gets a similar result, although Mambo did sneak in a half-and-half suplex, you got the sense that the champion was still in some semblance of control.
Control that perhaps was eroded when he was dropkicked off the apron and met with a Meteora off the apron, which seemed to bust open Banks’ mouth, which wouldn’t have been helped by another Reefbreak/Meteora back in the ring. Mambo goes to the well once too often as a Reefbreak’s cut-off, allowing Banks to bring him back in with a Kiwi Krusher for a near-fall. A ref bump’s next after Banks crashed into Chris Roberts accidentally on purpose… and with no ref, Mambo’s able to land a Bad Burrito fireman’s carry gutbuster with what looked to be his last bit of energy.
That was the cue for TK Cooper to come out with a chair – something commentary said “wasn’t needed at this point” (a little too close to home!). TK lays out Mambo with a chairshot, but Chuck kicks out and escapes an assisted DDT, sending TK to the outside for a springboard plancha. A springboard frogsplash is hit just in time for Chris Roberts to make the count… but TK pulls out the referee, and with Roberts again out of place, Travis Banks throws a chair at Mambo, busting him open. Still, Chuck hits back with a roll-up before his head’s stomped into the mat by a merciless Banks, as the Kiwi Krusher finally sealed the win. Another fine match, but this felt flat from the off – very few people seemed to think that there was no way we were getting a title change here, and in spite of Mambo’s spirited showing, it was for nought. We really could have done without the interference at the end… ***¼
After getting cleaned up by Marc Parry, who had to try and treat Mambo’s cut rather than Chris Roberts because… reasons, the ring crew’s needed to wipe away the blood from the new ring canvas ahead of the main event.
Natural PROGRESSion Series Final: Chris Ridgeway vs. Mark Davis
It’s been a long road this: with qualifiers starting in January, Mark Davis had to go through Kyle Fletcher, Maverick Mayhew and Danny Duggan to get here, while Ridgeway didn’t have a qualifier as he got past Omari and Drew Parker to get to the final.
As you’d expect, this was an absolute war among two hard hitters, starting on the mat as Ridgeway tried to squeeze the life out of Dunkzilla as somehow the commentary track was fighting with the murmurs of the crowd in their own little war to be heard. Ridgeway looked for an early armbar, and clings on as Davis tried to powerbomb free, with the Aussie instead getting grounded as an STF kept him at bay.
After escaping, Davis went to work with some chops, but Ridgeway tries to reply in kind with some body blows, before cracking the Aussie with a handstand kick in the ropes. A diving knee almost ends it for Ridgeway, who gets taken outside as Dunkzilla brings the chops back in, before a bid to put his opponent through a chair came off as a snap spinning suplex sent Ridgeway into the crowd.
Returning to the ring, they exchange more chops and kicks as the pair continued to wear each other down, but those strikes just prompt a bout of fighting spirit from both men until a knock-out punch knocked down Ridgeway just as an exhausted Davis fell onto him for a near-fall. More chops and kicks keep up the motif as the pace intensified, because who doesn’t love a good ol’ barrage of shots? Eventually Davis ducks a kick and went for the Alphamare Waterslide, only for Ridgeway to climb onto Davis’ back with a rear naked choke… which gets broken up as Davis charged himself – and Ridgeway – through the ropes to the floor. On the outside, things take a turn for the worse when a punch from Davis hits the post – and busts open his right hand as Ridgeway smells blood. Literally.
Davis gets put in a chair and double stomped out of it off the apron, following up with an elbow drop off the top rope to the floor… leaving Dunkzilla flat on the floor… but Ridgeway stops the referee’s count as he wanted to win “the right way”. Rolling Davis back inside, things quickly backfire as Ridgeway runs into a sit-down splash, then a lariat for a near-fall, before an Alphamare Waterslide continued Davis’ momentum.
Ridgeway throws another series of elbows, but Davis shrugged it off and ran into an up-kick as Ridgeway’s feet continued to cause trouble… ahead of a release German suplex and more buzzsaw-like kicks. A piledriver drops Davis for a near-fall, as does a PK, as Ridgeway keeps up… before more boots just led Davis to punch out Ridgeway, who connected with a hook kick on his way down to the mat. Another go around ends with Davis throwing Ridgeway into the corner for the sliding forearm… but his pull-up piledriver’s countered into a roll-up as they’re almost running on fumes here… before a Gotch piledriver from Ridgeway’s countered into ROLLING pull-up piledrivers… and that is that! A bloody war, and not just because of the state of Dunkzilla’s knuckles! ****
“Got Got Need” was more of the same from PROGRESS – a good show, with a hell of a match that, truth be told, the rest of the show almost struggled to live up to. Storyline reasons aside, it was perhaps the right call to main event with the Natural PROGRESSion Series final, particularly given what the expectations were for the world title match. So, the road to Wembley has another wild card, with Mark Davis having a title match of his choosing to cash in… does he go for his Antipodean brethren, or does he try to cash it in on the big guys’ belt that he’d so wanted to beat WALTER for earlier this year?
- “Chapter 72 – Got Got Need” is available now via Demand-PROGRESS.com – either to rent, buy, or as part of their monthly subscription service.