Take a white hot crowd in the Pacific North West, a stacked card, and you have perhaps PROGRESS’ best show in months!
If you’re wondering “hey, why is this review up before Chapter 75?”, well, we’re going in order! This show was in the Washington Hall in Seattle – a room that looks a bit like where Riptide run, only it’s got a balcony. There’s tonnes of streamers in the ring, thanks to the DEFY Streamer club… During the pre-show amble, Jim gave a shout-out to Kid Lykos – with a fan giving $20 to the wolf’s medical bills. I could go into a rant about the state of healthcare in the US, but this isn’t the time or the place.
Eddie Dennis vs. TK Cooper
A rematch from two days earlier in New York, can TK get revenge and stop Eddie Dennis from making it to Wembley’s main event? Given that Eddie threatened to get to Wembley, win the title and run off with the belt, I’d hope not… by the way, we’ve two bells here, a real one and the MP3!
Eddie started out hot, landing a buckle bomb as he tried to put TK away early, choking the Kiwi on the mat after a bunch of two-counts didn’t go to plan. TK manages to avoid a swinging side slam, sending Eddie to the outside as we get a bunch of dives, then an Asai moonsault as Seattle was extremely hot for TK. Wherever that crowd mic was, it was peaking a LOT… Back inside, an axe kick nearly put away Eddie, who then fell for the circle game… earning himself a right hand, before issuing an instant response. Except TK’s Samoan, so he cracks Eddie with a headbutt instead. There’s another axe kick in the ropes, then a corkscrew springboard legdrop that nearly gets the win, before TK’s springboard moonsault just sees him land in Eddie’s knees as the crucifix bomb earned the Welshman a near-fall.
Somehow, TK bounces up at two and responds with a huge spear… but Eddie’s right back on top with a uranage, only to get caught up top with an enziguiri. TK’s found his form again as he goes up with a Spanish Fly that drops Eddie… and almost puts him away, before TK headed back up for a Spiral Tap and got the win. Eddie’s not going to the main event of Wembley, and the crowd were very appreciative of that! An insanely hot crowd boosted TK to victory… now, why is he not even on the Wembley card?! ***¾
Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake & Zack Gibson) vs. Amerikan Gunz (Ethan HD & Mike Santiago)
This isn’t a Thunderbastard match, as witnessed by the presence of DEFY regulars Ethan HD and Mike Santiago. So yeah, there was a partisan crowd for this!
But first, the former tag team champions wander around ringside for their usual pre-match promo, with Gibson relishing having a new audience. When we got going, it was Santiago and Drake that started us out… and it was the former tag team champions on the back foot as the Gunz combined well. Just in case the subtlety hammer doesn’t come out, the Gunz are a well oiled machine, while the Veterans are stuttering a lot in recent weeks.
Ethan HD tagged in and nearly put away Gibson with a standing shooting star press, but another blind tag brings in Drake as there’s a quick turnaround as the match comes to a halt as the Gunz demanded a chicken fight. Except it’s a ruse as it was just a way for them to help catch out the Vets with a falling Electric Chair cutter. There’s some shortcut taken as a slingshot knee drop/backbreaker on the outside has Santiago in trouble, leading to a bit of isolation as he had to fight out of the Veterans’ corner before he got tripped en route to a tag out. Santiago’s kept in a little while longer, before he finally got the tag to HD, which got me wondering… will the guy who succeeds him be called Ethan 4K?
Ethan keeps on Drake with clotheslines and a dropkick into the corner, but Gibson pulls his partner to the outside… and into the path of a Golden Triangle moonsault as the former tag champs thought they’d be saving themselves. Back inside tough, Drake and Gibson uncork some double-teaming, only to get themselves a pair of superkicks before a death valley driver from HD almost put away Drake.
After crotching HD on the top rope, Drake and Gibson looked for their Doomsday Device, but as always these days it backfires as we ended up with duelling 450 splashes instead! It was a bit of a long set-up, but the pay-off was incredible! Drake and HD remained in the ring, before Drake accidentally superkicked his own partner… there’s similar miscommunication by the Gunz as the Parade of Moves ends with a HD cutter to Gibson.
Gibson makes a save by pulling out the referee after a stomp/Final Cut combo to Drake nearly ends the match… Santiago gives chase as Gibson gets cornered on the outside, but it leads to the finish, as Gibson plays Bobby Heenan to Drake’s Rick Rude, as he pulls on Ethan’s leg during a suplex for the WrestleMania 6 finish. A cheap ending to a really good match, and my word, this is what having a hot crowd does to a show, eh? ***½
It’s a little jarring to hear Jim Smallman say the Amerikan Gunz have a “very bright future” when commentary was describing the same team as having been around for a combined 22 years…
Elliot Sexton vs. Brody King
The graphics guys haven’t exactly had a blinder on this tour. First, Ricky Shane Page (no E), and now Eliot Sexton (one L). Sexton’s already debuted for PROGRESS on their earlier tour in Australia, and the way the booking’s working, he has a chance of making it to Wembley as he’s on the final three shows of the tour.
Sexton has a pre-match promo to introduce himself to the Seattle crowd as “the best backside in the business”, before doing the R-Truth gimmick of bodging the town name. Ah, it was going so well until then… and then it gets worse when Sexton slapped him, and that led to a takedown and the beatdown that promo deserved. Brody King flies too, crashing into Sexton with a tope before he had his eyes raked as Sexton had to go dirty to get any kind of move in. Problem was, King had the crowd on his side, and was able to get back into it with a dropkick and a cannonball into the corner for a near-fall.
Sexton goes all JBL with a Clothesline from Hell, before he corners King for some body blows. We’ve a nice deadlift slam from Sexton, who takes King outside… only to throw him back in after trolling the crowd with the threat of a dive. That’s where King turns it around, catching Sexton with a ‘rana before some uppercuts led to a trapped-arm lariat. A piledriver’s next, but it’s not enough to put away the Aussie, nor was a Black Hole Slam, before he gets crotched on the top rope.
Sexton follows him up for a superplex, bringing the big lad down with him, before he went for a Boston crab… but King gets to the ropes easily. There’s a nice slingshot German suplex from Sexton, who started to focus more on the match, only for another slingshot to get caught in a Fireman’s carry… but it’s Sexton who escaped and hits a death valley driver for another near-fall. There’s some back-and-forth between the two, with Sextons’ superkick being replied to with a belly-to-belly into the corner, before King finished him off with a spiking Samoan driver. A nice big lad’s match, but you got the sense that the crowd weren’t entirely familiar with Sexton, which hurt the match a little. ***½
Bandido, Flamita & Rey Horus vs. British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
This is either going to be special, or descend into the kind of trios nonsense that is very much “not my graps”. So… once all of the streamers are cleared, the question is: are we getting indy BSS, or WWE BSS?
We start with Pete Dunne wanting to face Bandido, but when we start with the “wanker” hand signal, my fears remain heightened. Bandido headstands out of a clothesline attempt though, as he evades Dunne en route to a square-off, before Flamita and Bate tagged into the match. Cue flips, before things calm down with Trent and Horus… and Trent gets a huge cheer for a cartwheel. Trent goes all Iron Mike Sharpe with his gear, and it works as he scores a shoulder tackle, before he runs into a leg lariat from Horus… which leads to the sandbag spot and Trent’s usual fireback, before everyone built up to the indy’riffic dropkick square-off.
“…and yes, they’re flossing.”
That one line of commentary’s enough to tell you where this goes from here. It’s the sort of match is eaten up by the live crowd, but if you’ve seen the indy BSS act do this once, you’ve seen it a thousand times. I check out here, returning as the lucha boys wow with their dives that somehow segue into one huge Parade of Moves, featuring an inverted torture rack from Bandido that turned into a Go To Sleep on Dunne. Horus nearly squashes Bate with a wheelbarrow driver off the middle rope as the pace remained breathless, with Bandido’s backflip German getting stuffed, before Bate’s springboard lariat was countered into a Spanish fly by Flamita for a near-fall!
In response, Flamita takes an airplane spin, before Trent lays him out with a piledriver for a near-fall, as Bandido and Horus were tied up in submissions. Those gets reversed as Trent’s caught in a single leg crab, which ends with a rope break, before we resume the dives as Horus and Dunne remain in the ring… allowing Dunne to snap the fingers before a Bitter End Tombstone’s countered with headscissors for a near-fall! A clothesline-assisted Dragon Sleeper is next for Horus, as the Bitter End… gets a near-fall?! Dunne’s right back at him, before the Better End tombstone gets the victory. This was an exceptional outing, also extremely frustrating to watch, but you know what soured it for me. Nothing against BSS, but their current act is so not my cup of tea. It was Seattle’s cup of tea though, as they threw money into the ring, presumably for the lucha boys… ****
Flash Morgan Webster vs. King Khash vs. Artemis Spencer vs. Mark Andrews
We’ve more DEFY regulars here, in the form of Artemis Spencer and King Khash – a Buddy Wayne trainee.
For some reason, Flash was a good guy with the Seattle crowd, something that commentary tried to explain away as it being due to the novelty factor. Things settled down with Khash and Andrews on the mat, before Khash took Andrews outside with a ‘rana. Pretty much everyone ends up outside as the match resets, with Webster and Andrews squaring off, exchanging armdrags as the ring began to fill.
Spencer manages to get rid of Khash with some headscissors, but he quickly runs into a gamengiri as Flash heads outside for a round-the-post headscissors to Khash… and this is going a million miles an hour to start the second half. There’s a twisting press off the top rope by Spencer as all four men are laid out on the outside. Returning to the ring, Khash catches Andrews in a full nelson camel clutch… but Spencer breaks it up for an abdominal stretch as the Human Centipede of Submissions ends with bicycle knees from Webster. Khash nearly wins it with a scoop slam, while Andrews somehow hit an Asai DDT and a regular DDT at the same time for another near-fall.
Spencer quickly drops Andrews with a Michinoku driver, before dishing out a Project Ciampa to Webster while flying in with a back senton on Khash as the frantic pace remained. Angel’s Wings from Webster leave Spencer down, with Flash trying to score pins on anyone… and the crowd noticeably died here. Too much, too quickly? Flash resumes with the Pinball Wizard step-up senton to the outside, before he and Andrews ate a double reverse ‘rana from Spencer… and yeah, we’re still going. In the end, this was a fun four-way that Andrews got the win with a shooting star press onto Khash, who’d just dumped Flash with a German suplex… but it was a match that just felt like one long series of moves, done so quick that very little settled… and I had a major issue with the fact that Webster seemed to drop his “new attitude” for this match in order to go along with the crowd’s cheering. ***¼
PROGRESS World Tag Team Championship / Thunderbastard Tag Team Series: Sexy Starr (David Starr & Jack Sexsmith) vs. CCK (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham) (c)
With Lykos on the shelf, Jonathan Gresham was again brought in to substitute for the wolf for this title defence (and Thunderbastard match). Cue the cheesey 80s TV show music that Sexy Starr has for a theme… and hey, rainbow streamers!
Going in, I’d heard a review from noted indy wrestling expert Bryan Alvarez, who’d been at this show for his annual “break from watching wrestling that isn’t 20 years old”. I kid, I kid… Starr and Gresham start us off with some amateur-style grappling as both men were in search of a body part, scrambling on the mat as Gresham finally got a hold of Starr’s legs. There’s an attempt at a counter, which Starr manages as he flipped out of a counter to the bow and arrow hold, before the pair shook hands and… were caught off guard as Gresham flicked Starr in the balls.
In comes Brookes to help with a double hiptoss as CCK eased ahead… at least until Starr caught Brookes with a Thesz press as the challengers were able to come in and catch Gresham unawares thanks to some blind tags. Problem was, the champions did the same, surprising Sexsmith with a German suplex as he was trying a leapfrog, before there’s some banter between Sexsmith and CCK… which the camera mics barely picked up.
Sexsmith remained the focal point of CCK’s offence, with a deathlock from Brookes forcing Sexsmith into the ropes – despite Gresham’s attempt to stop it by pulling the rope away. Gresham gets involved too, as the champions continued to wear down Sexsmith’s knee… which meant that Jack’s attempt at a comeback almost stopped when he jarred his knee in a leapfrog, before be finally got the hot tag out to Starr! Cue the violence party of forearms and chops to Brookes, before Gresham leaned into a Product Recall as he tried to get involved. Brookes runs into the Pretty Pumped and a superkick for a near-fall, before Starr brings Sexsmith in… perhaps a little too soon as that knee instantly became targeted. Brookes returns with a slingshot cutter ahead of Gresham’s 450 splash… but Starr rushes in to break up the cover.
Starr keeps up on Brookes with a Han Stansen before Sexsmith threw in a superkick to help a Blackheart Buster, but it’s not enough to keep Brookes down. Sexsmith looked for the BDSM, but Brookes avoids it and hits a superkick and a rope-hanging neckbreaker, which Starr breaks up the cover on. Brookes tosses Starr outside after that, but gets rolled up by Sexsmith for a near-fall before Gresham’s pin-point dropkick to the knee left Sexsmith vulnerable for a brainbuster. Yep, another two-count, and this crowd’s either tired, or we’re into the land of diminishing returns.
Gresham’s back to grapple, but all he had to do was wait for Sexsmith’s leg to buckle again as he rolled him into an ankle lock ahead of a leg capture German for another near-fall. I think even Glen was starting to get exasperated on commentary by this point… Sexsmith manages one last comeback with a LGBDT to Brookes, but Starr’s still on the floor after an awkward landing earlier. On his lonesome, Sexsmith’s able to catch Gresham with a Dragon screw in the ropes before Starr returned for an assisted Asai DDT to Gresham for a near-fall as the challengers looked to polish off Gresham with a Cherry Mint DDT and the Rainbow Road Destroyer… but somehow Gresham popped up before three!
Starr dives out to Brookes to keep the bigger man outside, before a BDSM-assisted Product Placement ended as Brookes dived in to break up the pin. Duelling Octopus holds trapped Sexy Starr back, before CCK resumed their focus on Sexsmith, with a half-nelson suplex, a reverse ‘rana and a series of Yakuza kicks weakening him before the Praying Mantis Bomb and a 450 splash drew another near-fall… only for Gresham to go right to the Figure Four. Somehow, Sexsmith reverses it instantly, but Brookes leans in and rolls the hold… overdoing it as Gresham ended up in harm’s way. He leans in again to twist it back again, and despite the crowd willing him on, Sexsmith had to tap. That was an epic contest, but one that seemed to lose the crowd before winning them back. Perhaps they were still knackered from that trios match in the first half? Still, more proof (if needs be) that the Brookes and Gresham version of CCK are at the top of their game. ****¼
Post-match, there’s an attack by the Grizzled Young Veterans, as Zack Gibson throws Jonathan Gresham (in a chair) into the ring post a la EVIL, before wrenching on Gresham’s shoulder to rule him out of the rest of the tour.
Before the main event, Jim announced that the money thrown into the ring after that lucha trios match was being donated to Kid Lykos’ medical bills. There was something odd about him being referred to as a “fallen friend”… he’s not dead! That also segues into a shout-out about the Mae Young Classic, and the injury picked up by Tegan Nox… it’s not been a good week for ATTACK alumni, that’s for sure.
PROGRESS World Championship: Jimmy Havoc vs. WALTER (c)
If you were expecting WALTER’s first title defence to be against Jimmy Havoc… then you picked lucky! This was because WALTER took over Travis Banks’ vow of defending his title in every singles match on the tour.
Havoc caught WALTER from behind with a steel chair before the bell, as the match starts on the outside as Havoc tried to wear down the champion before the match even started, posting the Austrian before wandering to the merch table for an 8×10. The chair’s used again to block a chop as Havoc seemed to have a desire to dish out some paper cuts, but you can bet that WALTER is not having any part of that. Sure enough, when the referee disarms another chair from Havoc, the former PROGRESS champion ends up eating a monster shotgun dropkick and some crossface punches in the ropes. There’s a big boot to Havoc as I think we had a phantom bell, before Jimmy’s powerbombed into the ring post, then the ring apron as WALTER wasn’t taking any of his shit. Yep, there’s a Brookesing for him too…
Havoc barely beats the count-out, and rolls into another powerbomb attempt… which he countered into a guillotine, only for WALTER to counter that into a butterfly suplex for a near-fall. They head up top as WALTER searches for a superplex, but Havoc slips out and tries a powerbomb, only for that to be punched away, as he instead has to make do with an uppercut in the corner before scored with a top rope ‘rana.
That and a superkick’s good for a near-fall, so Havoc heads back up for a double stomp, earning him another two-count as WALTER suddenly looked to be in danger. Havoc tries to choke WALTER with his wrist tape, before he pulls off the referee’s shirt and uses that as well. Bare-chested, referee Brandon Tolle (who looks like a slightly less-red version of Alex Jones…) takes an errant chop from WALTER, which I’d think had to be a bet… One dead ref means Havoc can dish out papercuts to WALTER, before pulling off a stage dive onto the champion. The ref’s punched out by Jimmy Havoc, who uses the chair on WALTER once more, before an Acid Rainmaker barely budges him. Instead, WALTER retaliates with a Gojira clutch and a uranage slam, before he tore through Havoc with some chops. So much for paper cuts nullifying those, eh?
Havoc manages to fight back with a low blow and an Acid Rainmaker, but we’ve still no referee to count along with the crowd… a second ref appears to count a near-fall, before he tended to Brandon Tolle as Havoc set up some chairs. WALTER reverses an Acid Rainmaker, then lands a suplex for a near-fall, before he powerbombed Havoc through the chairs… which isn’t a DQ, just because, as WALTER gets the pin. Well, I don’t think this was announced as no-DQ, but the result was academic nevertheless. A satisfying main event, as WALTER closed out the Seattle show with a win. ***
In no universe can you characterise PROGRESS’ debut in Seattle as anything other than a home run. Sure, there were some niggling issues – whether it’s personal taste (the BSS/lucha trios) or Flash going back to his previous persona because of the crowd cheering him on… but when you take a crowd that was white hot from the start and (largely) maintained it throughout the night… that’s a good show… and perhaps the best end-to-end show that PROGRESS have had in some time.