PROGRESS’ Coast to Coast tour of the States continued with another solid show – and another unfortunate setback – as Boston played witness to the latest rounds of the Three and In Wembley series.
We’re in Melrose, Massachusetts, despite being labelled as Boston… I guess it’s close enough for non-Americans. You know the drill: Glen Joseph and Dahlia Black are on post-produced commentary, at least once we got past Jim telling us he couldn’t curse because it was an all ages show… that somehow also featured a dog in the crowd.
TK Cooper vs. Kid Lykos
This was Lykos’ return to singles action, based off of an angle back in March earlier when TK axe kicked the wolf through a chair during a match between Cooper and Chris Brookes.
TK tries to get under Lykos’ skin early, slapping him as commentary really hammered home the “we can’t swear” jape with all the subtlety you’d expect. Lykos finds a way to stop the circle game, but can’t avoid a leg lariat before he rebounded with a springboard ‘rana and a leg lariat of his own. Lykos followed Cooper to the outside, throwing chops before taking forearms, as they went at it around ringside. Cooper manages to catch out Lykos back in the ring, kicking the ropes into the wolf before he pulled him across the ropes for a Whisper in the Wind-like splash for a near-fall. There’s a tease of a brainbuster, but Lykos slips out before he took TK into the ropes for a cannonball for another near-fall as the pair went back-and-forth.
The Lykos flurry continued as a double stomp took TK to the outside, before a tope saw him crash into the Kiwi… then quickly returning with a slingshot Code Red as the wolf’s agility nearly led to the win. Of course, we had to have a Lykos brainbuster, but TK escapes, only to take a tornado DDT for a two-count, before another brainbuster attempt ended courtesy of a headbutt from Cooper. A Blue Thunder Gutbuster absolutely spiked Lykos for a near-fall, leading to the pair trading some more strikes… which led to Lykos falling for a punch as TK build up some stream. The axe kick crushes the wolf, but it’s not enough to put him away, and Lykos is able to hit straight back with a Lo Mein Pain, before another brainbuster was avoided.
Cooper trips Lykos into the turnbuckles, then nails him with Rihanna – complete with an awkward, collarbone-breaking landing – for the pin. Apart from Lykos going straight to the back, you’d not have known anything bad had happened here, with the news marring an otherwise decent opener. ***¼
Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake & Zack Gibson) vs. Latin American Exchange (Ortiz & Santana)
This was originally meant to be a title match, but Gibson and Drake losing them the prior night kind of put the brakes on that. They’re still having issues co-existing, as just about every team’s teased during the Thunderbastard series.
It’s amazing how much noise the crowd makes for entrances… and how relatively silent they appear to go during matches. Phenomenal. The early exchanges see Gibson take a standing swandive headbutt from Ortiz, whose afro was quickly used against him… but Ortiz is able to rebound with a cross-armed belly-to-belly suplex before the former tag champions combined to hit a pair of low dropkicks. Santana’s knocked off the apron too, which meant that Ortiz had to wait a little longer before he could even think of a tag out.
He doesn’t have to wait too long as Santana comes in… does not much apart from flip around, then tag straight back out, as Ortiz starts to work the arm. A chop stops Gibson in his tracks as he tried to interfere, but it eventually worked as the former champs caught Ortiz on the outside to turn it back in their favour. Ortiz uses his head, but the cushioned headbutts had slightly less effect than you’d think, and Gibson’s able to bring Drake back in as the current Impact tag champions were finding themselves on the back foot.
Another hot tag brings Santana back in, but the resurgence is short-lived… until Drake shoves Ortiz, who turned that into a tope on Gibson as LAX found their feet, cutting through Drake with a Quebrada and a legdrop for a near-fall as Gibson broke it up. There’s some more turnarounds as Gibson’s able to catch Santana with a Ticket to Ride out of the corner, before a Doomday Device backfired, with Gibson leaping into a superkick instead.
Ortiz sends Drake and Gibson to the outside before we get some LAX dives… but the not-so-subtle miscommunication in the former champs returns as they fluff a tag. Regardless, a gutbuster and a 450 splash nearly puts Ortiz away, before he avoids a superkick… with Gibson taking it as LAX finish off Drake with a powerbomb/Blockbuster combo for the win. These Gibson and Drake “miscommunications” better have a pay-off other than “making the Thunderbastard more even”, but it did work here as LAX looked impressive in their PROGRESS debut. Whether that translates into bookings for them in the UK down the road… we’ll see. Otherwise, a fun tag match in its own bubble. ***½
Eddie Dennis vs. Rickey Shane Page
After coming up short against Pete Dunne in Philadelphia, Eddie Dennis’ bid to get to Wembley starts here as the “pick your poisons” routine continues.
There’s “Defend Indy Wrestling” history between these two, but Eddie’s convinced that Page is only on this tour as a favour to Mark Andrews… which doesn’t sit-well as he called RSP an “over-rated death match guy”… to which RSP said something about Eddie’s WWE contract, and we’re off! Page starts off strong, using a suplex throw to take Dennis out of the corner as he had the upper hand early on. Eddie’s lifted to the top rope, but he shoves Page onto the rope to avoid a ‘rana before clotheslining him to the mat for a near-fall. A back elbow off the ropes helps get another near-fall, before some repeated knees to the head, then a knee drop drew a similar result as Eddie started to break down Page, who was sporting a bandage on his forehead from the prior night’s efforts.
Eddie tries for a swinging side slam, and eventually gets it off as Page – bloodied nose and all – again kicked out. That blood seemed to fire up Page, as he begged for, and got, forearms to the face, before he gave some back ahead of a roundhouse kick and a sit-out side slam on the Welshman. A chokebreaker from Page gets a near-fall, but Eddie’s able to rebound with a crucifix bomb out of the corner for a near-fall. He tries for the Next Stop Driver, but Page rolls him up for a two-count, before catching Eddie up top with a gamengiri ahead of a superplex that brought both men down hard. After kicking out of a roll-up, Page nails a Twist of Fate before returning up top… but his senton bomb lands in the knees of Dennis, who quickly capitalises with a Next Stop Driver for the win. An enjoyable match, but a lot of these “Three and In” matches kinda fall flat knowing the end result, although if you’re watching these chronologically you shouldn’t have that problem. ***¼
British Strong Style (Pete Dunne & Trent Seven) vs. CCK (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham)
With Brookes picking a mystery partner, we got the “original CCK” here, since Lykos was in singles action earlier… which ended up being a bit of foreshadowing for what’d come for Chris Brookes in the coming weeks and months.
“If you don’t know who Jonathan Gresham is already, you’ve probably not watched independent wrestling before.” I don’t know if that’s what the kids call gatekeeping or a self own, considering this was Gresham’s PROGRESS debut… either way, for something done in post, there were probably better ways to phrase that!
Of course, there’s an absurd height difference on show here, with everyone towering over Gresham. We start out technically, with Dunne and Gresham grappling on the mat, going after each other’s wrists and appendages as we had something akin to a technical clinic… although one person in the crowd didn’t seem to be too fussed about the methodical nature of it. There’s a modified Romero special from Dunne, but Gresham quickly rolls out into an ankle lock as the Octopus continued his buttery-smooth transitions. The technical stuff ends when Gresham grabbed a mugging Dunne’s nose, before the pair exchanged some kisses… which seemed to bring out the greened eyed monster in everyone else. Heck, even referee Brandon Tolle got in on it!
After that, Brookes and Seven tagged in to try and get things back on track, but we’re firmly on the Sports Entertainment path here, which worked with some pockets of the crowd… and then we’re back as Brookes gets chopped down hard. He quickly replies by squashing Trent with a back senton as he was bent over, and then both men tag out as we’re back to the silky-smooth graps with Gresham and Dunne.
A deadlift, bridging German suplex nearly puts Dunne away, but a finger snap from Dunne helps turns it around as a Dragon suplex from Trent keeps them on track. Once Chris Brookes remembered his corner, he tags in as Gresham plays Lykos for the elevated senton/back cracker combo, before Brookes dragged down Trent with the leg grapevine. Gresham ties up Dunne in an Octopus hold briefly, but it’s escaped as an X-Plex breaks up the grapevine… so Gresham and Trent begin to trade on a barrage of chops. Seven’s sit-out side slam looked to put away Gresham, but it sparks a Parade of Moves, ending with Gresham’s moonsault into a DDT on Dunne.
A one-handed powerbomb and a short piledriver from Seven leaves Brookes open for a Bitter End… but Gresham breaks up the cover as we’re nowhere near done. Brookes manages to hit back with a Praying Mantis Bomb, before a Gresham 450 led to a near-fall as Trent somehow rolled in past Brookes to break up the cover. Rolling back outside, Trent ends up eating a moonsault off the apron from Gresham, then a tope from Brookes, before the Octopus leaps into an armbar from Dunne… which gets broken up via Brookes’ missile dropkick. Seven and Gresham pick up again with chops and backfists, going tit-for-tat before a Burning Hammer allowed Dunne to finish off Gresham with a Bitter End Tombstone for the win. Wait… why was Trent allowed in for so long if he wasn’t legal? Either way, this was a cracking tag match, but was soured for me by the “sportz entertainment” stuff that seems to pervade British Strong Style’s indy matches. ****
Post-match, Trent Seven put over Jonathan Gresham hard, calling him the best unsigned junior heavyweight… and urging him to “fulfil his potential” by winning Best of the Super Juniors. Do they know something we don’t?
Mark Andrews vs. Mark Haskins
We’ve a slow start to this one, as both Marks looked to build their Three and In credentials here.
Haskins looks to draw first blood when he faked out a dive, which didn’t quite go as they usually do before Andrews got booted into a chair on the outside. There’s a PK off the apron too after Haskins looked to have taken too long, but he’s able to connected with another boot as the Welshman struggled to get out of the blocks.
Back inside, Haskins keeps on top of Andrews, grounding him with a hammerlock, then a leg grapevine as he tried his damndest to stop Andrews from flying. A knee slide from Andrews helps him turn things around as he evades Haskins, sending him to the outside before connecting with a tope. There’s a springboard crossbody back inside that gets Andrews a near-fall, but Haskins is still in it, as he traps Andrews in a Sharpshooter before he was pushed out… and rolled into a sit-out death valley driver for a near-fall.
A flying double stomp squashes Andrews, before the Made in Japan was rolled through and into another stomp, this time from the Welshman, who follows with a 619. A roll-through into a wheelbarrow’s lost as Andrews instead has to make do with a Stundog Millionaire to quash a suplex, as he continued his fight back… until Haskins just punched him out. Another Stundog’s tried, but Haskins slips out and catches Andrews in a grounded armbar, then a bridging armbar for the quick tap! So that’s Mark Andrews back down to zero in the Three and In, while Haskins gets his first of the not-CHIKARA coins after a solid match, but one that perhaps risked falling flat at times. ***¾
Solo Darling vs. Jordynne Grace
With Jinny and Toni Storm away doing the Mae Young Classic, PROGRESS are building up to a four-way match for the women’s title in Detroit, with two qualifiers. This was one of them, with singles debuts for Solo and Jordynne.
Solo started by going for the wrist of Grace, but despite her recent “gains” Darling still had a strength disadvantage to overcome as Jordynne was able to reverse the hold as the pair kept things grounded. Indy’riffic pinning attempts follow until Grace kicks out and decides to try and put her knee through Solo, only for things to end in a rolling small package that eventually got going. Darling ends up in the corner, but she’s able to sidestep Grace’s charge, eventually pulling her out of the corner and into a Cloverleaf as Jordynne was forced to reach for the ropes. A chop block keeps Grace down… but only for a brief moment as Grace nearly pounced Solo out of the ring! Grace tries to follow in with a bear hug, but Solo escapes… and takes a back elbow for her troubles before the bear hug’s reapplied.
A bell clapper gets Solo free, but she’s quickly dumped with a standing sidewalk slam for a two-count, before the Solo fightback resumed with some chops. Grace gets lifted onto the apron, before she’s knocked off with a kick to the back as Darling looked for a PK… instead having to make do with a tornado-like suplex on the floor. Back inside, that gets Solo a near-fall, but Grace quickly fought back, throwing Darling into the corner ahead of some double knees and a sliding elbow, before Solo was able to roll away from a Vader bomb.
Grace continues though, looking for a pumphandle driver, but Solo elbows out and instead gets caught with a barrage of lariats to the front and back, before a pumphandle driver spikes Darling for a near-fall. Ow. Darling’s able to reply though, scoring a series of kicks for a near-fall, before an O’Connor roll was stopped, with Grace responding with a Michinoku driver for the win. In trying personal circumstances for Grace, this was a pretty decent outing – although the lack of a clear “good guy” and “bad guy” meant that the crowd had nobody to really get behind. Grace makes it to the four-way match for the women’s title in Detroit at the end of the tour. ***
Flash Morgan Webster vs. Jimmy Havoc
Having beaten Mark Haskins – via fair means or foul – in Philadelphia, Flash has to contend with the other part of his former alliance here… the part he didn’t directly stab in the back!
With Flash not in the Three and In series, he could press the reset on Jimmy Havoc’s run to Wembley, but Jimmy starts by going outside for a chair while trying to sucker Webster into a fight. No matter how padded that chair is, it’d have hurt… When we do get going, there’s an offer of a handshake that Havoc just punches away, before he countered an armdrag into a DDT. We quickly end up on the outside though, where Havoc gets to put Webster in a chair for a lap of honour… and a poke to the eye, before Havoc just choked his former stablemate in the guard rails. Back inside, Havoc gives Flash a chair… but instead he just has a sit down, rather than risk a DQ. So Jimmy takes one of his own and we have another bar fight.
That quickly ends as Webster grabs a Strangler… which doesn’t end in the ropes as the referee’s too busy putting the chairs away. Instead, Webster headbutts Havoc’s cut from last night, before he targets the taped-up arm of Havoc with headbutts and a Special Brew flip. Havoc finally hits back with an uppercut as Flash was on the top rope, following in with a death valley driver to the mat for a near-fall, before a flying stomp gets a near-fall. Havoc doesn’t fall for the Hand’s Up headbutt, instead dropping Webster with a Michinoku driver for a near-fall. The headbutt connects at the second attempt, as Flash tries to put Jimmy away, following in with a knee to the head and a Haskins-esque bridging armbar. A rope break saves Jimmy again… but Mark Haskins heads out to stop Flash from using his moped helmet, and that distraction allows Havoc to catch Flash with an Acid Rainmaker for the win. This was decent, with an abrupt finish that perhaps tipped off that Haskins vs. Webster is far from done here.***½
Matt Riddle vs. Tyler Bate
These two have met twice in the past, both in PROGRESS – with Riddle scoring a DQ win in Manchester in May 2017, before Bate beat Riddle in a Super Strong Style 16 semi-final two weeks later.
In case you’re wondering, yeah, Matt Riddle got new music, which sounded like someone was playing “Regulate” on pan pipes with only a vague memory of the original source material. It was night and day between that and Tyler Bate’s music, which sort of exhibits a gulf in the “haves” and “have nots” when it comes to the landscape with PROGRESS Music 3.0.
Riddle starts by sweeping the leg as he tried to assert some dominance, but Riddle’s bare feet were an easy target as Bate tried to go after the little piggies. Not sure if it was the one that went to market or not… Riddle’s hand’s still taped up to sell his injuries in EVOLVE, but it doesn’t seem to preclude him early on as he takes Bate into the corner for some kicks and forearms. Bate puts the blocks on as Riddle went for an Exploder, before he picked up the future NXT signee for an airplane spin. Tyler turns all JYD on us with some diving headbutts, but he ends up running into a front facelock that Riddle turns into a Fisherman’s buster for a near-fall. They head outside, where Riddle chops through Bate, before some more kicks sent Tyler back into the ring from the apron. Another leg sweep has Tyler crashing to the mat, as Riddle’s really picking his shots before almost winning with a roll-up.
Bate hits back with an Exploder, then a standing shooting star press as Tyler edged his way back into the match, stomping on Riddle’s injured hand… but thing quickly end back at parity as the pair miss standing shooting stars and back sentons for fun. At least until Tyler connects with a bop/bang, before a rebound clothesline is turned into a nasty German suplex. A second one of those rebound clotheslines connects for a near-fall, before Riddle chains together a Bro to Sleep and another German suplex, following in with a PK and a tombstone slam for a near-fall. Riddle finally connects with a back senton as he tried to stomp his way past Bate… but he upgrades to chops which woke Bate up, and prompted a barrage of strikes that just left Tyler in place for the powerbomb and the roll through into a vicious knee for another two-count.
Bate strikes back, but ends up leaping into a rear naked choke as Riddle tried to put him away with a Bromission… but instead, Bate stands up and hoiks Riddle into a tombstone of his own for another near-fall, before seeing a Tyler Driver get him only a tiny bit closer to victory. From there, a Giant Swing has both men loopy, but Bate gets dragged into a knee bar as Riddle forced the submission from out of nowhere. A glorious sprint, but unfortunately it means we have to hear Pan Pipe Regulate again! These two always have great matches – and this was no exception – easily the best match on the tour so far. ****¼
“Instead of giving you house shows, we’re giving you something that means something.” While one of Jim’s lines wasn’t false, it really was tough to get into parts of this show from afar. Think of the whole Three and In thing as an Iron Man match – you know there’s usually going to be a lot of falls, so you’re invariably going to tune out of the early matches and only pick up for the later ones… where the win or loss is going to mean something. As a show, this fell right in line with the usual PROGRESS cards this year – there’s nothing that’ll blow your mind, but nothing that you’d find offensive (your mileage will vary!). The post-produced commentary remains Marmite, but that’s going to be par for the tour – so if it’s a turn-off, consider that mute button.