The South Pacific Power Trip found their way to the main event as PROGRESS’ weekender wrapped up in Birmingham.
The opening spiel from Jim Smallman included a reference to a fan assaulting a player during the Aston Villa/Birmingham game that happened earlier in the afternoon… and a gig that was happening at the neighbouring O2 Academy 2. Considering they didn’t go straight to the “in my DMs” bit, this felt somewhat fresh. Glen Joseph and Callum Leslie are on commentary for this one…
Anti-Fun Police (Chief Deputy Dunne & Los Federales Santos Jr.) vs. Do Not Resuscitate (Chuck Mambo & William Eaver)
Once again, Eaver’s street preacher gimmick is barely audible, as the former Pastor drifted in and out of range of the camera’s mics. Chuck Mambo wants everyone to know they won the prior evening in Bournemouth… heck, I’d trumpet wins it they were that rare too!
After some, erm, fun where Eaver’s portable speaker didn’t work, we got going as Chuck Mambo thought he’d unmasked Santos in the opening minute… but Santos did the ol’ double mask trick. The Anti-Fun Police keep the upper hand at least until some double-teaming on the outside had Dunne in trouble. A superkick’s almost caught by Dunne, but Mambo just trips him before stomping the knees into the mat. Dunne tried to get free, only for Eaver to pull Santos off the apron – meaning Dunne was left in there to take a flying Meteora from Mambo as the Do Not Resuscitate pair kept up the aggression.
Dunne finally manages to get free, spearing Mambo before he got across to tag in Santos. Eaver’s in too, as the big man runs wild with clotheslines and body splashes, before a spinning heel kick took out Eaver. A springboard backcracker from Dunne nearly put Eaver away, but Santos is back in to help… only for Mambo to low bridge Dunne to the outside as he went for a springboard. With Dunne on the outside, it’s Santos on his own as a superkick-assisted crucifix dumped the masked man for a near-fall. Santos turns the tide with a double Flatliner to Mambo and Eaver, before Dunne flies in off the top with an assisted Big Ending… but Santos doesn’t go for the cover, instead opting to go for a Darkness Falls for a near-fall.
Eaver tries to unmask Santos again in among a standing Anaconda Vice – dubbed the Human Condition – while Mambo dropped Dunne on the apron with an air raid crash. Santos tries to resist, and eventually gets to the ropes as Mambo again uses the turnbuckle iron behind the ref’s back to clock Santos with. The hold’s quickly reapplied as Santos taps… and I guess DNR are using the turnbuckle iron as a symbol of their own, kinda like how the Defend Indy Wrestling brand does/did. Mambo and Eaver splash Santos after the bell as they continue the beating. For an opener this was fine, but you still get the sense nobody really takes DNR seriously. ***
A half-hearted cheer greeted something that’s about as certain as life, death and taxes… PROGRESS sticking the women in the second match!
Jinny, Kasey Owens & Laura Di Matteo vs. Martina, Millie McKenzie & Nina Samuels
It’s a PROGRESS debut for Owens, who you’d have to think is almost certain to have a crack at getting a qualifier for that four-way at Super Strong Style 16. They did a funny bit during the intros where Millie McKenzie came out as Martina – like mother like daughter, eh?
Martina’s hungover, and starting with the endless rope running series doesn’t help as the hangover cardio was put to the test. Jinny’s not happy with Martina’s clowning around, and that seemed to snap her into life, as she tagged out to Nina Samuels, who came close with the ol’ Curt Hennig neck flip.
Some double knees trap di Matteo in the corner, before a dropkick in the ropes led to a two-count. Millie’s in to drop Laura with a Twist and Shout neckbreaker, before she caught Laura in an Octopus stretch. Jinny tries to make the save, as does Kasey, but they’re both caught in stretches, only for Laura to power free and break them up. After getting thrown outside, Laura’s met with a baseball slide from Nina… a tope from Martina… and a senton from Millie. Back in the ring, Kasey manages to tag in, but her first action is to take a German suplex as Millie nearly ended the match right there. Things swing around as Kasey put the boots to McKenzie, who found herself isolated as she was taken into the wrong corner.
Somehow Millie manages to evade all three of her opponents and make the tag out to Martina, who clears house with a chop before a Fisherman’s suplex got a two-count on Kasey. A discus forearm from Kasey takes Martina into the corner as more knees get her a near-fall, before a comeback from Martina left Kasey in trouble – thanks to her partners getting pulled off the apron. Martina gets another two-count from a suplex as Nina tags in to blast Owens with a missile dropkick. Kasey tries to fight back, but she’s knocked down as a slingshot splash finds its mark, as did a tiltawhirl backbreaker. Another suplex drops Kasey as Jinny runs in… and catches Nina with some headscissors, then a DDT as a Parade of Moves sparks. Spear from Millie… back cracker from Laura… then a Seshbreaker before a diving knee from Owens leaves Martina laying. However, it’s Nina who’s legal, and after absorbing a TKO and the Killing Joke running knee, she’s put away by Kasey for the pin. A bit of a paint-by-numbers match, but it’s a debut win for Kasey, whom a lot of the crowd seemed nonplussed by – and if you didn’t think Kasey was going to be part of the title picture, then perhaps that result will change your mind? **¾
Fraser Thomas joins commentary for this match, replacing Callum Leslie…
Team WhiteWolf (A-Kid & Carlos Romo) vs. Jimmy Havoc & Mark Haskins
Surprisingly, this was a tag team debut for Team Whitewolf, as long as you don’t count the pre-show match they had last year!
Havoc and A-Kid start us off as Thomas filled us in on who Team Whitewolf were. The opening exchanges frustrate Havoc, who just tags out to Mark Haskins, who offered slightly more of a test for A-Kid. There’s some neat exchanges between A-Kid and Haskins, before Carlos Romo enjoyed a similar spell… only for Havoc and Haskins to take the match outside into their domain.
Romo’s thrown into the crowd by Havoc, while A-Kid ate a running leg lariat on the apron from Haskins (who had a heck of a run-up from the bar). The former PROGRESS tag champions made judicious use of the referee’s count, breaking and resetting it, before the Spaniards found their way back in with superkicks on the outside. A seemingly endless run of topes from Whitewolf keep Havoc and Haskins on the back foot, before A-Kid’s Orihara moonsault left them all on the floor.
Back inside, Haskins punches out Romo to avoid some double-teaming, but he can’t avoid a rolling Northern Lights suplex from A-Kid. Haskins takes a couple of superkicks amid a big Parade of Moves, which ends with a lariat as all four men were down in the ring. Havoc has slightly more luck, catching A-Kid with a Hadouken uppercut in the corner before a death valley driver nearly won it. Haskins is back in, but gets caught in a crossface as A-Kid countered a pumphandle driver during a rather frantic exchange.
Romo gets clocked with a PK on the outside as Havoc and Haskins continued to focus on A-Kid, trapping him in the corner with a pair of low dropkicks, before a Hart Attack-style double stomp to A-Kid left him open for a dropkick-assisted death valley driver for another near-fall. From there, Romo makes the return with an unexpected cutter before a top rope moonsault to Havoc and a Total Elimination almost put away the former champions, as the Spaniards found their second wind, only to be rudely stopped by an Acid Rainmaker/mid-kick combo as they were quickly put away. This was a hell of a match, with Whitewolf looking to hit their stride – but at the end of it, they were caught out by the more experienced Havoc and Haskins. ***½
DJ Z vs. Eddie Dennis
Having qualified for Super Strong Style 16 the prior day, DJ Z had a rather different test facing him in Birmingham.
The editor clearly didn’t get paid enough by Glen, as his botch and Muttley laugh’s left in the edit at the start, as Eddie and DJZ began their feeling-out process. Speaking of slip-ups, DJ Z doesn’t get his on-demand airhorn, as everyone’s asleep at the wheel… everyone except Eddie, who blocks some headscissors before landing some of his own in a callback to the old days of “Eddie Mysterio”.
Eddie then gets the DJ Z horn, only to get powerbombed out of the corner as the weirdness continues. DJ Z lands a tope, almost overshooting Eddie into the crowd, before the momentum a tope con giro took him onto the stage… where his latest dive was caught and turned into a swinging side slam onto the edge of the ring. Birmingham serenade him with chants of “Eddie is our champion”, which is weird… The tide changes as DJ Z hits a slingshot plancha back inside, but a second one misses as Eddie gets back into it, taking DJ Z from corner to corner. A cravat grounds DJ Z briefly, before the former Impact star fought free… then took down Eddie with a clothesline off the ropes. A springboard dropkick catches Eddie on the top rope, before he’s brought down with a superplex, which DJ Z looked to follow up with a 450 splash…
Except Eddie caught him by the throat and took him straight up with a chokeslam! A Severn Bridge powerbomb’s next for a near-fall as Eddie bounced back, only to get caught with a poison ‘rana out of nowhere. Not to worry… a clothesline and a Severn Bridge buckle bomb looked to reset things, only for DJ Z to use the momentum to DDT Eddie as both men were back on the mat… but not for long as Eddie quickly picked up the win as he ended a back-and-forth series with a Next Stop Driver. Another fun outing here, with Eddie continuing to build up momentum in the singles ranks. ***½
The start of the second half’s punctuated by everyone “whooah”-ing for the DJ Z airhorn… then Jon double clicked ringbell.mp3 rather than airhorn.mp3, before Paz slingshotted himself into the ring.
Chris Ridgeway vs. Spike Trivet
This was a qualifier for Super Strong Style 16, and I think it’d be fair to say that a lot of the crowd were waiting to see a posh boy getting beaten up.
William Eaver’s on his portable speaker for the match, which is going to be fun to listen to… but thankfully Paz throws him out. If only annoying folks were that easy to dismiss in real life!
When we finally got going, Spike’s playfulness cost him as Ridgeway grabbed a boot and just rolled him into a grounded abdominal stretch… only for Chuck Mambo to saunter into the ring, and into an abdominal stretch. Well that was a useful bit of interference, especially as the follow-up roll-up only got a two-count as Ridgeway shrugged it all off like it was nothing. A deathlock-assisted STF ends in the ropes as Trivet finally chained together some offence, albeit after sucker punching Ridgeway with a forearm. An eye rake keeps Trivet in it, before Ridgeway blocked a series of kicks and proceeded to pin Trivet in the ropes with a series of kicks to the chest.
More kicks sent Trivet into the crowd, who seemed to be getting what they wanted, but back in the ring Trivet kicked Ridgeway low for a near-fall, before a tornado DDT led to a similar result. Spike made the unwise decision to try and out-strike Ridgeway, and he quickly found himself having to survive as a Kirifuda clutch almost forces a submission, before a back cracker from Spike drew a near-fall. Spike incites another strike battle, which goes poorly for him as he took a head kick from it all, before a series of hopeful roll-ups led to near-falls. Ridgeway responds with a head kick before pulling Spike into a Fujiwara armbar for the submission. A bit of a sudden finish, but a good back-and-forth contest that either man could have won… but Chris Ridgeway getting the win would make him a tournament favourite, considering the number of imports in the SSS16 field. ***¼
Post-match, Eaver and Mambo return to mug Ridgeway, only for Havoc, Haskins and Eddie Dennis to chase them away.
Joel’s out to pose. That’s still a thing. I eagerly await the PROGRESS Bodybuilding Federation show.
Austin Theory vs. Trent Seven
After losing his SSS16 qualifier to Jordan Devlin last night, Austin Theory had another uphill struggle against a Trent Seven who was being treated like a God. The Poundland David Starr stuff didn’t help, as the crowd were well into chanting “Austin Shithouse” at him.
Trent addressed Theory’s challenge for the Atlas title… but since Trent already has his SSS16 match booked, there was no way he was going to accept. So Theory just clocks him with his EVOLVE belt to start the match, but a cover at the bell just gets a near-fall as Theory tried to end things quickly. The match spills outside as Theory threw Seven into the ring, before a battle of chops led to Trent going for (and missing) an enziguiri, before a standing moonsault from Theory drew a near-fall. Chops keep Trent down, as does a suplex… but he can’t even get a one-count from it… so he proceeds to throw Trent outside again.
Seven fires back with chops around the ring, before a DDT dropped Theory on the outside as he had tried to duck a chop. Back inside, an Emerald Fusion nearly gets Trent the win, before he clotheslines Theory outside for a low-pe as the Atlas champion began to build up a head of steam, only to miss a Whisper in the Wind back inside. Theory tries to capitalise with some wild swings, but he just runs into a clothesline before a piledriver from Trent drew a near-fall. Some clubbing blows from Theory, and a duck on a Seven Stars lariat help him get a near-fall, before a rolling thunder blockbuster almost got the upset… only for the referee to spot him with his feet on the ropes. A trip takes Trent into the corner as a rolling thunder dropkick and a forearm caught Trent ahead of Ataxia… but the cross-legged over-the-knee brainbuster can only get Theory a near-fall.
Trent fires back with some backfists, before Theory slipped out of a Burning Hammer. A superkick hits flush, but Trent’s able to rebound with a Seven Stars lariat and a Burning Hammer for the win. Another enjoyable outing, with the crowd biting for everything Trent did… see what an invested crowd does to a show?? Still, that’s two losses for Theory, which I’m sure would have upset the EVOLVE fan in the crowd… even if he did get “please come back” chants. I’ll give you this, Theory’s in the Timothy Thatcher bucket of guys who do nothing for me in EVOLVE, but impress virtually everywhere else. ***¼
There’s a shout-out for the ring crew here, with a sly nod to Beano who’d wrestled in the pre-show against a young up and comer. You may have heard of him: Pete Dunne.
South Pacific Power Trip (NIWA, TK Cooper & Travis Banks) vs. Angelico, El Phantasmo & Jordan Devlin
This was set-up after the events of Bournemouth, where El Phantasmo lost to Travis Banks after some interference from the rest of the new-look South Pacific Power Trip… although this match was announced via a wacky Twitter video.
Oh, and this is under lucha rules, just for the added insanity.
NIWA and Angelico start us off, swapping wristlocks before a fast-paced sequence led to NIWA going into the ropes with a springboard armdrag… then to the outside after a flying ‘rana from the South African. The lucha rules weren’t instantly taken advantage of, as Angelico tagged in Jordan Devlin as Travis Banks came in for the other side, They get going at quite a clip, with Devlin landing a uranage before he slingshotted into a cutter after Banks lifted him to the outside… and now they brawl on the outside. Problem is, it meant the match continued in the inside as ELP and TK kept the pace up, as some chops led to the ELP rope walk – complete with some kicks to Banks and NIWA as they tried to interfere on the apron.
Yep, ELP’s really, really good at that rope-walking malarkey!
The ring quickly fills as the match broke down, with NIWA coming close from a back senton as commentary gushed over how he’d gone from dark match to main event in three shows. El Phantasmo found himself isolated as the Kiwis took aim at him, trapping the Canadian in their corner as NIWA incited Devlin by spraying at him in the corner. A front facelock from Banks keeps ELP down some more, before Phantasmo threw some forearms to get free… then superkick away a Slice of Heaven. Tags bring in Devlin and Cooper, with Jordan hitting a sweet rebound cutter after rebounding off of the back of NIWA and back into the ring on TK.
The Irishman keeps up that momentum with a standing Spanish Fly to Banks, before TK broke up a package piledriver effort as the Kiwis worked into something of a acrobatic stance, with NIWA standing on Devlin, only to get dropkicked to the outside as they picked the wrong time to do acrobatics. Dives continue, but Angelico’s caught on the outside as Devlin just about caught the pile… with ELP then having no problem with a moonsault off the top rope!
Back inside, the Kiwis took control again, focusing on Devlin with some triple-team offence… but Jordan pulled a Travis Banks and powered through Terminator-style. Superkicks, axe kicks and a Slice of Heaven leave Devlin down, before NIWA nails a pop-up Project Ciampa for a near-fall, thanks to a senton from ELP that broke it all up. A strike exchange between Banks and Devlin resulted in a headbutt from the Irishman as a Parade of Strikes broke out once again.
NIWA slips off the top rope as he was able to take down Devlin regardless… but there’s a momentary pause as he recomposes himself… heading back up top, only for ELP to catch him with an enziguiri ahead of a Spanish Fly that sent both men down, as Devlin and ELP made the cover. The cover’s broken up as the Kiwis looked for tombstone/reverse tombstones at the same time… with a stomp from Banks setting them both clumsily off for another near-fall. More triple-teaming eventually backfires as NIWA caught TK with an errant punch, allowing ELP to land a springboard crossbody and a Quebrada for a near-fall. ELP sends himself outside into Banks and NIWA with a tope, before returning with a springboard splash into Cooper… which still isn’t enough!
TK wrestles his way back in as he tried to pin ELP with a snapmare, before he sat down on a sunset flip attempt – grabbing the ropes for good measure – to steal the win. This was a fun main event that was a little sloppy in places – but at the end of the day it’s a win for the Kiwis who seem to be getting some momentum behind them. ***½
A huge improvement on the Bournemouth show, “Corrupted Harmony” benefited from having a loud and invested crowd – one that had not seen PROGRESS action in almost eight months. While the promotion may be largely devoid of direction, they’re still booking talent that’s capable of putting on good shows… it’s just that with the bulk of the roster seemingly running in place, and with the promotion seemingly having issues discovering new talent that haven’t appeared in top spots elsewhere in the UK, it’s becoming harder to engage with these shows outside of the bell-to-bell action.