It’s back to Alexandra Palace as PROGRESS’ Big September Show™ brought surprising results.
It’s a humongous crowd inside the venue for PROGRESS’ fourth visit of the year, and after eight visits we’ve got a “proper” hardcam set up and a fancier entrance stage.
After Jim’s usual banter, we start with the tag team championship match – after the obligatory long promo from the defending champs. Which included James Drake playing a mouth organ. No innuendo here lads. Can we seriously quit it with the “Britwres is dead” meme? It was never true to begin with…
Hang on, was that Zack Gibson doing poetry? That didn’t exactly go well for bearded blokes in wrestling… although the cheap digs at Jim and Davey (Starr) drew the desired reactions. There was one more surprise… Scotty Davis was here to cash in!
Commentary comes from Glen Joseph and Matt Richards. A rare two-man booth or Alexandra Palace….
PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake & Zack Gibson) (c) vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. Jordan Devlin & Scotty Davis
So, with Aussie Open having beaten Do Not Resuscitate to get a shot at the tag titles, they’re upstaged as Scotty Davis cashed in his NPS trophy after barely 24 hours. I mean, I guess it’s easier to take a title belt on an airplane than it is a trophy… oh, and his partner? Jordan Devlin.
I can see why some cynically thought in hindsight why NPS was just a way to get Devlin on the card…
Fletcher and Devlin start us off, but it’s Kyle who got the upper hand early on, catching Devlin with a thrust kick to the gut that brought him to his knees. Davis is in for a wild double-team series that ended with a Muta lock and a low dropkick, before Fletcher backed into the corner as two generations of Davis’ were in the ring. Scotty’s pancaked as the last two NPS winners locked horns, but Zack Gibson’s quickly in as the defending champs double-teamed Scotty and proceeded to clear the ring.
Scotty’s met with an assisted backbreaker on the outside, as James Drake proceeded to wear down the neck that was bothering the Irishman on the prior day. Mark Davis doesn’t help his Irish cousin with repeated hard slams, but Kyle had a little less luck as Scotty got free and tagged in Jordan Devlin… who runs into Drake for a Spanish fly. That was insane.
Devlin has to spring away from a pull-up piledriver before he hit Air Jordan on both halves of Aussie Open at the same time. Flips take us to an insane Asai moonsault from Jordan into the pile on the outside, before we broke out into a parade of kicks and strikes in the ring between the Aussies and the Irish, culminating in Devlin’s headbutt that saw him fortuitously land on Kyle Fletcher… but the ref’s slow to notice as he only makes a two-count off of it.
Drake and Gibson return to pick apart the pieces, until Gibson accidentally cross-chopped his own man. You’d think they’d have hammered that out of their game by now… a cyclone kick from Dunkzilla nearly gets the win, but the champions just throw him into the ring post before an attempt at the Shankly Gates needed to be broken up by Devlin.
Scotty tries to slingshot Jordan in for a Destroyer on Dunkzilla, but Davis just Alabama slammed Devlin onto his partner as the Aussies pushed on, following up with a Fidget Spinner-like throw to take Drake outside. Scotty takes an inverted crucifix bomb for a near-fall, before Scotty caught Kyle with a Supremacy… then trapped Dunkzilla with an omplata crossface. Devlin gets rid of Fletcher with a Devlinside, and with nobody left to make the, Dunkzilla taps as we have new tag team champions! A nice, surprising opener, as Irish eyes were smiling at Alexandra Palace. ***½
A heck of a shot here from the PROGRESS camera crew, although I’m pretty sure graps fans the Emerald Isle will be foaming over the commentary that claimed that Scotty “went from the wilderness to champion in two days”.
Pete Dunne vs. Cara Noir
After having left PROGRESS at the end of 2018 (we’ll not mention his dark match vs. Beano), this was Dunne’s latest farewell as he’s moving up to “full fat NXT”. So, who’s getting the rub? Was it going to be a surprise appearance of Adam Cole? Was Pete going to get his tongue in cheek wish of Josh Bodom? Nah…
It was only Cara flipping Noir, who got a monstrous reaction when the opening strains of the Black Lake played. The entrance is there, but we’re still a little overblown when it comes to the lights and white balance… but it’s great to finally see Cara on such a big stage.
We’ve a pacey start as the pair exchange headlock takedowns, before Dunne realised: Cara Noir doesn’t wear boots, so he’s got ten extra digits to play around with. Wait… that sounds like he’s got a fetish, doesn’t it? Dunne stays on Cara’s fingers to start with, tweaking them before he was forced to roll out of a cravat as a big forearm just decks the Black Swan.
Some kicks to the leg led to Cara getting slapped… so he just decks Dunne with a headbutt before a beautiful Sasuke Special wiped out Peter on the floor. Dunne’s back in the ring first though, catching Noir with a neckbreaker for a two-count before he went to work on the bare feet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a match end via “this little piggie went to market”… nor from having your toes stomped into the mat.
Rope burns follow between Cara’s toes, which then get rammed into the turnbuckle irons, but Cara’s able to return with a couple of Swan Woos, then a snap German suplex after he sidestepped a charging Dunne. A Rude Awakening-style neckbreaker is next for a near-fall, before the Madame Guillotine led to another two-count as Noir nearly got the upset. Kicks follow, before Dunne hit back with a sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall.
Dunne looks to finish off Noir with repeated stomps, before the tables turn… biting from Dunne stops that before another flurry from Cara Noir ended with a lariat. Cara flips out of the Bitter End and nails Dunne with a package piledriver, but Dunne gets up in the nick of time, and hit back with a Bitter End… before being forced to fight out of a Blackout sleeper. More toe work from Dunne got him free, before a Better End… gets a near-fall?! So Dunne drags Cara into a triangle armbar, as (illegal) finger manipulation forces the submission. A hell of a match that’ll have gotten Cara over to a bigger audience – perhaps even more so than he’d have done if he won the NPS. ****
After the match, Dunne took the mic and told the crowd that he was proven right by saying “Britwres is in safe hands”, before telling the crowd they “won’t be seeing” him for a while. It’s not a farewell, but a “see you later” it seems, as the bright lights of Full Sail are calling.
Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs. Limitless Bros (Keith Lee & Matt Riddle)
Jokingly referred to as some by the “NXT offer match”, this threatened to be a sad reminder that NXT has become a warehouse where former favourites get forgotten about.
So this all-babyface affair started with a lot of “hotdogging” and posing that you’d usually expect from the referees. Riddle fakes out a Tiger Knee at the bell, before he speared and Jackhammer’d Trent Seven, as Riddle continued to poke fun at Bill Goldberg. Yep. Glen laughs.
Tyler Bate comes in as he and Riddle pretend to do a sumo, before Keith Lee came in to add his considerable girth to the equation. The crowd chants make this sound like the PROGRESS of old, back before the stars weren’t written out, as Tyler looked to charge down Keith Lee, only to get turned inside out himself with a shoulder tackle. Trent… Trents.
Trent’s kept cornered as Riddle comes in to land a floatover Fisherman suplex, before he took Trent’s back with a modified stranglehold. A ripcord knee has Trent falling like a tree, before a double-team suplex led to a near-fall as the Americans were dictating the pace… which seemed to take the air out of the room.
Tyler tries to wake up his grandpa on the outside, which worked as Trent rolled back in… and woke the crowd up with a big chop on Keith Lee. Keith’s double handed chops put us back to the status quo though, before a chop to the thigh allowed Trent to maneuver his opponents into an accidental DDT, all while Tyler did the Ultimate Warrior apron run ahead of the tag in.
Bate boxes back into it, then lands an European uppercut and an Exploder as he became a one-man wrecking crew. Riddle stops all that momentum as he took down Tyler into a Bromission, while Keith Lee POUNCES Trent away from making the save, before a tombstone slam from Riddle almost put Tyler away.
Trent ducks away from kicks as Riddle left Lee laying, before a clothesline-assisted Dragon suplex helps Tyler to a near-fall on Riddle… Lee powerbombs Trent away from the corner before powerbombing Riddle… so he could superplex Tyler at the same time. Collateral damage. A press slam/G2S variant gets Riddle a near-fall as the visitors found a way back in, until Trent spiked Riddle with a Dragon suplex and a piledriver, leaving Keith Lee in the corner for a Burning Hammer as Tyler’s Spiral Tap got the win. Perfectly fine stuff that was more fitting of a Largo loop house show. The good guys vs. good guys format didn’t click at times, as the “home team” wins, even if Trent’s the only one who sticks around… **¾
PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Meiko Satomura vs. Jordynne Grace (c)
The pre-match video package saw Jordynne declare the entire field of prior challengers “shit” as she was thrust into a defence against a debuting-in-PROGRESS Meiko Satomura.
It was such a special occasion, Jim Smallman even learned Meiko’s entrance in Japanese. よくできました.
There’s a tentative start here as Meiko took Grace into the ropes, while Glen left it to Matt Richards to fill us in on her background and “why she gets an automatic title shot”. Rattling through her CV is background noise as Grace and Satomura grapple on the mat, before Grace found a way through with a shoulder tackle.
Meiko quickly kicks back, but she’s crotched on the top rope as Jordynne pushes the ref into the ropes. Hey, under Chris Roberts rules that’s a DQ, but thankfully we continue as Grace press slams Satomura to the mat, before stomping away on Satomura’s quads, which proved to be a set-up for Jordynne to wrap Meiko’s leg around the rope. A single leg crab forces Satomura into the ropes, but Meiko mounts a comeback with some kicks that took Jordynne down, before some back-and-forth forearms had Grace in the ropes.
A dropkick keeps Grace down, as Satomura continued to pepper the champion with kicks, but Grace fought back, again crotching Meiko on the top rope ahead of a muscle buster. That’s good for a quick two-count, as Meiko refused to stay down, popping up from slams before blasting Jordynne with a head kick, then a death valley driver for a near-fall.
A DDT spikes Jordynne again ahead of Satomura’s cartwheel kneedrop, but Grace quickly spikes Meiko with a Michinoku driver, almost taking victory with it. Satomura got taken into the corner again as Jordynne followed in with knees and elbows before a Vader Bomb missed… opening the door again as Meiko went back up top, only to miss a frog splash as a lariat from Grace led to a pumphandle driver for another near-fall.
Frustrated by not being able to finish Meiko, Jordynne hits another lariat, then another, before Meiko countered a second pumphandle driver with an overhead kick. Another death valley driver follows, planting Jordynne, before the Scorpio Rising step-up kick got the win!
Problem here was that while hardcores were fans of Meiko, it felt like a lot of the crowd weren’t familiar of much bar the finish, or at least, weren’t on board with her stuff. There was no build-up of crowd reactions for the finish… and there’s a second inherent issue. Unless Meiko’s moving to the UK, we’re going to be dry of title matches, you’d think. Good job that gives them time to build up multiple challengers, eh? ***¼
Back from interval, Jim’s egging the crowd on as the shtick’s kept to a minimum ahead of the first ever Rumble in PROGRESS’ long history.
Proteus Championship Rumble
This was absolutely bonkers to watch live, with all of the serendipitous moments, returns and whatnot. We’ll cover the entrants and key points, because this thing went almost an hour. Fraser Thomas is in on commentary too, for the sheer randomness of it alongside Matt and Glen.
Our first two entrances were Paul Robinson (by way of losing to William Eaver at the last chapter show) and Ilja Dragunov. They lamp each other early on, leading to duelling head kicks before we get the first of many gameshow flashing lights and countdowns for the arrival of Travis Banks. Remember when he won the PROGRESS title here? Three-way chops keep the pace going, as does a stalling teardrop suplex from Ilja on Robinson, before Dani Luna came out at number four.
Paul Robinson hesitates to hit her, but Dani had no such qualms… and got some quick receipts too before dishing out a fallaway slam. Connor Mills is next as it was becoming a little noticeable that Ilja was steering clear of Dani Luna. Contracts? There’s a new entrance video for Do Not Resuscitate, replacing that Godawful slideshow of emojis, as Spike Trivet joined the fray. Spike takes his time getting to the ring, and ends up taking a tope from Mills who then threw him inside.
Danny Duggan is out next, complete with the new entry video (I guess they couldn’t find a plank emoji to update the old video?) The DNR pair work on Mills, eliminating him before Dan Moloney and his souped-up D-Lo Brown chest protector comes in and makes a beeline for Ilja. Yes please! Chakara is in at nine, going after Luna, before Sugar Dunkerton joined the match. A theme will break out here.
Suge dances with Duggan, leading to some dancing comedy with DNR that acted as a fun palate cleanser for this stage of the match. DNR double-team Suge, but we get the next count down as Martina joins the match, grinding on everyone before Chakara slapped Dan Moloney and took a Drilla for good measure. A suplex from Dani Luna acts as a prelude to Gene Munny entering, and he made a beeline for the robot Duggan with a slingshot spear, while I facepalm at Matt’s “new Munny versus old money” pun.
We get the continuation of Breed’s Munny vs. Martina scrap here, as Martina rips off the nipple tape, before this turned into a bit of a dance-off. Gene does the worm, while Travis goes back to his days in a string vest as Los Federales Santos Jr. comes out to uphold the law. He’s tricked into dancing, much to the chagrin of Chief Deputy Dunne who came out all upset at number 14.
Dunne’s nearly eliminated by Santos’ hips, before the Anti-Fun Police begin to clear the ring. Out goes Martina, Munny and Dunkerton, as that set play came to an end. Travis Banks tries to calm them down as the ATTACK Anti-Fun Police reunited, before… Vacant hit the ring. Cue over-acting on commentary as a man who poses a lot like Joel Allen hit the ring in a black body suit. Vacant hit a Rock Bottom on Chakara, an Attitude Adjustment on Dunne, before an attempted chokeslam on Santos was soured as the big man eliminated Chakara and Vacant. Chuck Mambo is next, distracting Dunne and Santos on his entrance, allowing Danny Duggan to eliminate Dunne before DNR ganged up and eliminated Santos.
At 17 was The OJMO, who of course had scores to settle with DNR. He got his licks in before a superkick from Mambo broke up a half-crab, leading to Spike pulling OJMO into a nasty-looking neckbreaker. Millie McKenzie is added to the mix as Glen references the Medusa Complex, but this is Millie’s time to shine with German suplexes. Chuck Mambo’s bleeding from the cheek as Charli Evans joins for her first PROGRESS appearance in 18 months. DNR face off against Millie, Charli and Dani, but the Medusa Complex turned on Dani to eliminate her before Roy Johnson made his appearance.
A pop-up forearm from Johnson to Duggan began a brief spell on top, before Paul Robinson gleefully threw out Dan Moloney. Dan won’t go quietly, and gets punched out before refs escort him away. Jonathan Gresham joins next as the CCK music actually meant one of two things… Gresham made a point of clinging onto the ring post to save himself, then the bottom rope as he found a way to not get thrown out. It frustrates Chuck Mambo, before Mike Bailey entered the match as a surprise. Bailey kicks the chest of Trivet from the off, then Gresham, before he squared off with Travis Banks in a kick-off.
NIWA enters at 23 with a burst of fire, as I notice that Spike Trivet was on the outside getting treatment, as he was an injury elimination. Eddie Kingston is next, squaring up to Gresham, before a brief alliance ended with Gresham getting eliminated. Charli Evans got her wish of taking shots at Kingston, but she’s knocked down… as was Millie McKenzie, before TK Cooper joined at 25.
TK headbutts everyone, before we got a DNR vs. South Pacific Power Trip stand-off. With no Spike, the Kiwis edge ahead, before a clothesline from Banks knocked Bailey awkwardly to the outside. Roy Johnson styles out an elimination attempt before he got superkicked out of the match, before Travis Banks lifted Kingston out of the ring. NIWA does the same to Banks, who rushes in to shove him… only for TK to headbutt Banks as the South Pacific Power Trip had a split… that was overshadowed by Sid Scala joining the match. Ah man, the timing.
Banks returns to the ring to slug it out with TK and NIWA as ring crew tried to cart Banks away. Ilja Dragunov eliminates the remaining Kiwis, while Duggan took out Scala, before number 27 was announced as… Fraser Thomas, who left commentary for this spot. Ah yes, that trope. I guess this counts as Fraser’s PROGRESS debut, but the debut is as disappointing as some reckon commentary is as he was instantly tossed out by Evans and McKenzie. Thanks for coming.
Fraser’s back on commentary, thinking he lasted longer then Trent Seven (maybe?), as Chris Brookes enters. A slingshot cutter drops Mambo before Millie turned into a makeshift Lykos for an elevated lungblower on Paul Robinson before he looked to direct traffic… making a diversion to eliminate Millie and Charlie. Cue boos. Our penultimate entrant was a surprise… boy, was it.
Bloody Chris Roberts. Yep. The former PROGRESS official is in at 29 with gameshow music, and stunners for all! Paybacks and all that… he’s more convincing than Vacant, before Chris Brookes stopped him… and earned himself a goddamn Destroyer. What the hell are you doing Roberts? Brookes gets tossed after that, but Roberts ends up spilling out courtesy of DNR, who get an extra man as William Eaver completed the set.
The ring starts to clear, featuring Danny Duggan tosses out the OJMO, as we were down to DNR vs. Paul Robinsoin and Ilja Dragunov. Ilja throws Mambo to get us to the final four, where a nasty suplex spill sees Ilja and Eaver fall to the outside. It’s Duggan and Robinson left… and after some botched interference from Eaver, Duggan thought he’d won… only for Robbo to slip back in and land a curb stomp before throwing Danny out. The adulthood dream of Paul Robinson winning the new Proteus title has come true, as Robbo goes the distance to win the title.
I’m sure people will see this as a little too WWE-trope-y when it comes to spots (announcer joining the fray, number one going the distance), but this was an absolute hoot to watch live, and a lot of it came across on VOD too. ***½
PROGRESS Unified Championship: David Star vs. WALTER (c)
The preceding video package for this focused on this being Starr’s 13th attempt at beating WALTER one-on-one… although Starr himself seemed to be keener to use the setting for one great big “Unionize” protest. I mean, you can’t complain for him using the moment… but it’s “Unionise” over here.
WALTER boots Starr before the bell, but almost succumbed to a Code Red as Starr started the match off hot. They spill outside, with Starr chopping and clubbing WALTER around the ring, only for WALTER to turn around, teasing a powerbomb into the front row that Starr escaped from… before his tope was caught and turned into a throw into the crowd.
Back inside, Starr tries to throw chops, but WALTER just bullies him with a chop and a kick to the back, before he pinned Starr into the corner with a litany of chops, following that with a nasty boot to the mush. The crowd gets behind Starr as he tried to fight back, but WALTER’s chops were just too much as the Austrian took him outside for a powerbomb onto the edge of the ring.
Yep, it’s already looking depressingly familiar.
A slam and a sit-down splash from WALTER back inside draws a two-count, following up with a Boston crab… but Starr gets to the ropes as more chops leave him on the deck. Starr tries to reply with Han Stansens, which have WALTER wobbly, before a German suplex dumped WALTER on the deck. Body blows from Starr have WALTER covering up, but he’s quickly caught with a rear naked choke, before Starr flips out of a RINGKAMPF German and hits a cartwheel kick on the way to a Randy Savage elbow drop for a near-fall.
Starr sidesteps a shotgun dropkick from WALTER and begins to charge back in with Han Stansen lariats… only for a lariat from WALTER to turn the tables once more as the Austrian got a near-fall. A small package nearly gets WALTER the win as he looked for a Product Placement, planting WALTER for a near-fall, before Starr teased a Pedigree…
…and got lifted back into a goddamn Jig ‘n’ Tonic for a near-fall. Regardless, Starr’s up to land a Pedigree seconds later, before another Han Stansen dropped WALTER for a near-fall. Starr looks to force WALTER up for a Blackheart Buster, but ultimately got drilled into the corner with a shotgun dropkick before another powerbomb led to a near-fall!
WALTER stays on Starr with a rear naked choke, but he can’t quite sink it in at first before he shook Starr to the mat. The ref checks the arm, but Starr fought free… and got spiked with a Fire Thunder Driver almost instantly for another near-fall. Frustrated, WALTER heads out and grabs the PROGRESS title belt, but Starr ducks the belt shot as a big boot wipes out the ref!
Starr has no issue using the belt himself as it softens up WALTER for a Blackheart Buster… but Joel’s still down and unable to make the count. So close, but so far, Davey. Eventually, a second referee appears as Chris Sharpe’s shoved through the entryway… and this is where things take a turn. Cue Eddie Dennis’ music, as he appears with a piece of paper in hand.
That piece of paper is Eddie’s contract from Wembley – it’s got two weeks’ left… so he’s cashing it in now. So much for that retirement from PROGRESS a few months back.
PROGRESS Unified Championship: David Star vs. WALTER (c) vs. Eddie Dennis
As Eddie stays on the stage, he mentions that three-ways are no-DQ. A masked man enters with a chair and whacks Starr in the back as WALTER’s teleported away…
The chair’s placed over Starr’s neck as the masked man revealed himself to be Mark Andrews… Eddie stands on the chair and covers Starr, and we have a new champion. The disembodied voice of Jim announces the new champion without the kind of shock you’d have expected in the past, as it’s down to Glen on commentary to be shocked as the crowd were sort of into Eddie as champion.
So, that main event was something, eh? Technically it’s another “loss” for David Starr against WALTER, which some cynics will point to Starr “just being there so Eddie could win the belt”. Given the lack of build for the advertised main event, it’s hard to argue… I mean, it’s not like this match had the sense of optimism that (say) Starr vs. WALTER at 16 Carat Gold this year had. Heck, it had more of a feel of a “hey, we’re doing this match because we can”, kind of like when Beyond and Fight Club Pro piggiebacked onto the match a year ot two ago. Mixing the two matches into one, I’d have to go for the proverbial Gentleman’s Three, since Starr never looked like a threat, and in hindsight this was just a way to get the belt onto Eddie. Starr, as witnessed by the build, was an afterthought. ***
Eddie gets the mic to crow about how he was part of PROGRESS from the early days, and how he deserved the belt. Cue yet another “Britwres isn’t dead” reference as I really begin to loathe whomever made that first statement, as Eddie told the crowd that “you self-entitled fucks killed Britwres”. FSU is reunited – except this time it doesn’t stand for Friends Stand United… and now we’ve already leapt to the mixed crowd on bad guy Eddie Dennis. Where we go from here actually intrigues me, which is the first time in a long while I’ve had that feeling about PROGRESS. If only to see whether the run of crowds turning on the champion continues…
It’s a shame that not everyone from the NPS show on the prior day was able to make it onto the card – with Malik and Veit Müller not even getting a go in the Proteus Rumble. From top to bottom Chapter 95 was perhaps the best show PROGRESS has had for a long while, even if they lacked a “killer, must-see” match. While some cite how NXT UK talent was present in almost every match, this felt like the promotion were pressing reset, especially as all of their titles changed hands. While new champions are a new start, it’ll be the coming months that will be key: assuming David Starr isn’t coming back (and from the “neck injury” at the end, that may well be the direction, particularly since the next Camden chapter clashes with an OTT show that Starr’s in the main event of), we’re back to having no obvious challengers for titles. Heck, not even any obvious challengers, since the NPS wildcard was cashed in so quickly.
Then again, it’s equally likely that with Jim leaving the company at the end of the year, the next few months of shows building up to his farewell show may be some sort of wacky holding pattern until the proverbial new broom sweeps in in 2020.