It may not have been as eventful as the US tour, but “When PROGRESS Went To Germany” was a fun show that set up some title matches for the immediate future.
It’s taken a while to make VOD, but it’s finally here! PROGRESS’ matinee show to wXw’s Shortcut to the Top is out on-demand… and it features something ultra rare: Jon Briley on-camera and speaking! He even tries to quash the one-fallers, which should win over a few fans. Glen Joseph provides your “as-live” commentary, once we get underway…
David Starr vs. Pete Dunne
We’re still in the phase where Pete Dunne wasn’t defending his title, so this is non-title. Everyone’s got their PROGRESS music and graphics, in a nice touch, whilst Pete Dunne’s ring introduction is muted. I can make a guess why… but why? I’d hope they didn’t think Pete Dunne having a title belt on a show taped in July but released after he dropped it in September would be confusing?
An even opening spell sees Dunne and Starr trade a bunch of indy’riffic near-falls, before Davey cartwheels by Dunne and followed up with a Thesz Press as the tide turned. Starr tried a tope, but Dunne cut him off and followed up with an X-Plex onto the apron instead, forcing the Product to be on the defensive. Eventually Dunne’s trash-talking fires up Starr, as he rises to his feet despite being kicked away, before decking Peter with a knee, then a right hand, and finally an inverted slam that nearly gets him the win. A Product Recall follows as Dunne trapped himself in the ropes… and after Dunne makes the same mistake, he eats a Cherry Mint DDT onto the apron.
Those two mistakes nearly cost Dunne as a tope and and a crucifix led to a near-fall, but then the tide turned yet again as Dunne walked through a Violence Party and sent Starr flying with a forearm of his own. Dunne uses referee Tassilo Jung as a human shield when Starr tried to fight back, but he somehow manages to kick out from a low blow and Pedigree.
The Bitter End’s turned into a DDT, because the first one usually is, and that leads into a Blackheart Buster as Starr switched out of another X-Plex. An attempt at Product Placement gets countered, as Dunne finally gets off the Bitter End – and David Starr’s brave fight comes to an end. A really solid opener – and if you’re wondering why Peter was out in the first match… well, he had to dash to the airport for OTT later that night! ***½
Jinny vs. Laura di Matteo
The winner of this match got a shot at Toni Storm’s Women’s title… so remember this was in July, and not September! More importantly though (or at least, something that didn’t age), this was another round in the feud between Jinny and her former PA, which has never really been wrapped up.
Jinny snapped into things with a ‘rana as the two looked to hit each other with their best shot before going into a roll around series of pinfalls. Some body scissors get Laura a two-count, as Jinny thought she’d go outside for cover… yeah, that just gets her a tope. She’ll learn eventually!
Laura keeps up the pressure, but some headscissors off the top dragged the Italian into the turnbuckles as the German started to bellow their disapproval. A series of curb stomps rather nonchalantly flattened Laura, who manages to come back with a dropkick and a springboard crossbody out of the corner, only to get caught in a seated surfboard.
It’s reversed, as it seemed that Laura too was a fan of Jushin Liger, but Jinny gets the ropes and comes back with a series of knees into the corner. Di Matteo returns with a tiltawhirl ‘rana, before being lifted onto the apron… where she springs back in with a missile dropkick as the back-and-forth ensued with a Japanese armdrag into the corner.
Jinny tries for a Style Clash, but instead Laura gets a backcracker as Jinny rolls to the outside once more, and again she’s caught as an apron DDT saw the Fashionista awkwardly spill to the floor. After rolling her back inside, Laura gets a two-count before she tries a grounded Octopus… but Jinny’s too close to the ropes and so a break’s called. Again Jinny finds it in her to unload with a backbreaker and a head kick, but that’s not enough… and her attempt to follow up off the top rope ends up going awry as a top rope ‘rana took Jinny down. Another Style Clash attempt follows, and this time it connects… but Laura somehow slid a shoulder up just in time!
Jinny tries for the Makeover (X-factor out of the corner), successfully spiking Laura on her head… but again Jinny doesn’t go for the cover, and instead tries to beat Laura at her own game. Instead though, Laura just rolls back and gets the shock pinfall – and a title shot! This was fine… nowhere near their more hyped matches from last year, but this was perfectly fine. **¾
Mike Bird vs. WALTER
The winner gets a shot at the Atlas title then-held by Matt Riddle. PROGRESS did put this and the prior match up on YouTube, so it’s not like it’s messing with the time/space continuum, but watching the whole show after Alexandra Palace is a bit weird.
Needless to say, in wXw country, WALTER was the massive favourite.
There’s a spot of mat wrestling early between the Welshman and the Austrian, before we went into the “dear God, they’re throwing bombs at each other” phase. Maybe WALTER was trying to create a bruise to match the birthmark on Bird’s side? Sensibly, Bird tried to ground WALTER, working over the legs and feet, before losing ground as he looked for a suplex.
It got reversed.
WALTER’s rear naked choke led to a rope break, but he snaps back with a German suplex instead, before Bird decided to give one back, and NOW it’s time for the eye-watering chops. Bird outlasts it and gets off a back suplex, but he’s caught up top with a butterfly superplex, only to go back in with a kneebar it seemed. The bloody-chested Bird ends up letting go once he’s clubbed in the back, and ends up getting shoved into the corner.
One Yakuza kick and a German suplex later, Bird popped back up and gets dumped with a lariat for a near-fall. He’s wrecked with a powerbomb, before the Gojira clutch dragged the Welshman to the mat for the quick submission. That was fun! In what’s been a stupidly good year for wrestling, WALTER’s putting together a hell of a case to be Europe’s best, if not right up there on the world’s stage. ****
Jon Briley’s “intermission speech” of sorts exposes that there’s a LOT of people from Luxembourg at the show. Like, seemingly, half the country. Yes, I’m exaggerating…
Roy Johnson, Chuck Mambo & Jack Sexsmith vs. London Riots (Rob Lynch & James Davis) & Jimmy Havoc
Big credit to the Bodyguy for reprogramming his glasses to read “wellig” instead of “wavy”. Gotta love someone who does the details! Speaking of details, this show came just as Germany voted to legalise gay marriage… so Jack Sexsmith was in the “right place, right time” here!
Except they were against a sorta-reformed Regression, and this match started before Briley could do the ring announcing… and this instantly spilled to the floor. Well, what did you expect?! Chuck Mambo gets obliterated by Jimmy Havoc, but this quickly turns into a revolving-door style of trios match, where tags aren’t needed. Good to see Chris Roberts assuming the form of Tassilo Jung! Roy Johnson gets some momentum with a shoulder block off the second rope, before leaping out into Rob Lunch on the outside, just in time for Jack Sexsmith to get thrown into the bar.
James Davis falls off the bar as he and Mambo fought on there… and hey, Jimmy got his drink after all – sharing it with Jack Sexsmith!
They stay on the outside for an awful long time, which gives Havoc enough time to grab a roll of duct tape? I don’t like where this is going… well, a trio of stunners from the ProJo trio led to a shower of beer, before Jack’s small package (ahem) almost won out.. But it didn’t, so he’s kept isolated, with the Riots looking to finish him off with the District Line powerbomb… except Jack snuck out and managed to bring in the Bodyguy.
Havoc and co keep Johnson down, choking him in the ropes as the pace slowed to a crawl. Johnson gets a springboard stunner, and then gets Mambo back in for what felt like the final stretch… Mambo manages a Blockbuster and a Reefbreaker on Havoc, but he turned around into a big lariat from Lynch as things broke down again.
After an LGBDT, Jack Sexsmith reaches for Mr Cocko, but instead the Big Double Stompy Move gets Havoc down. Another Mr Cocko follows, but Davis stopped that from becoming a thing. A trio of Destroyers left the bad guys (??) down, but a trio of concurrent two-counts is all they can get, as Jack finally gets Cocko some action… only to get speared away by Lynch as Mambo’s put away with an Acid Rainmaker. This was fun, but it had some eggy moments in there – the lack of clearly defined good and bad guys didn’t help, and although this evoked memories of the old Regression stable, I doubt there were too many in Cologne whom it clicked with. **½
Briley perhaps teased the inevitable when he called the Live Music Hall “the world’s hottest room”. Just wait until New York…
Marius al-Ani vs. Travis Banks
al-Ani was a late sub for Ilja Dragunov, who dropped out of the two shows due to family issues. Hey, it’s more than able replacement!
A keenly-fought opening spell was largely technical, as someone by ringside clung onto a Mambo beachball for dear life. al-Ani got suckered into a handshake as Banks lit up the former wXw tag champion, with the Super Strong Style 16 winner perhaps showing his edge as a more established singles wrestler.
Eventually, al-Ani fought back with clotheslines and dropkicks, only for his springboard in the corner to get caught as the Kiwi fires in a back cracker. The cannonball follows up for a near-fall, as a diving knee takes Marius back into the corner… where al-Ani sprung in with a DDT for a near-fall! Banks ducks a spinning heel kick before clotheslining al-Ani out of a kip up, as the Kiwi Crusher gets another near-fall to keep the enticing, yet perhaps one-sided contest going. Marius nearly snatches a win with a spinebuster, but he misses a frog splash as Banks again roared back in with a dropkick and a springboard stomp for a two-count.
Marius’ kip up into an Exploder nearly gets a result, but it’s not too long before Banks does the job with a Slice of Heaven. A pretty good match, but I’d have liked to have seen a bit more offence from Marius – who although wasn’t squashed, was portrayed a level or two below Banks in his debut. ***
PROGRESS Atlas Championship: Jurn Simmons vs. Matt Riddle (c)
If you were waiting for this to have a chance at seeing Jurn Simmons’ entrance in full. Sorry, it’s on the cutting room floor. Go back to chapter 43… Similarly, Matt Riddle gets the dubbing treatment, which kinda makes me go against that argument some had about PROGRESS “dubbing in new music over the old” back when they had the big music shake-up.
Riddle tries to outpace Jurn early on, before changing tactic to keep the Dutchman on the mat as he looked for submissions. Problem was, the smaller ring seemed to favour Jurn, as he was able to get rope breaks with ease every time Riddle went for a submission. So they just leather each other. Nice.
Jurn edges ahead with a whip into the corner, but he telegraphs a charge as Riddle rebounds with leaping forearms instead, before squishing the Dutchman with a back senton for a near-fall. A series of deadlift gutwrench suplexes keep the Atlas champion ahead, but another back senton is where his offence ended as Jurn gets some knees up before using his might to whip Riddle into those corners.
Out of nowhere, Riddle smashes back with a Bro To Sleep, but Jurn gets up at two, then again from a deadlift German, before reversing a Tombstone as Jurn somehow got back into it. We’re back to the strikes as they chop each other, before Riddle escapes a German suplex… then gets off a Fisherman buster for another two-count.
Guys. You cannot give Riddle a German suplex. Remember!
Riddle tries for the overhead kick, but Jurn stuffs it and gets a clothesline off before a gutwrench powerbomb almost caused a title change… Jurn gets off a superplex, but Riddle’s able to fight back, eventually getting the overhead kick, then a leaping knee! Somehow, Jurn got in a big boot, but that was all he could do before falling to the mat, and with Riddle slumping on top of him, that was enough to get the accidental pin! Well, both men came out of this strong, and I’d like to have seen a rematch on “home” turf for PROGRESS. Oh well! ***½
Riddle can barely start celebrating as WALTER hits the stage, and we have a stare-off between the then-Atlas champion and his next contender to end the show!
Well, PROGRESS Cologne had its high points, but this very much felt like a matinee. That’s not to put down the show, given that PROGRESS had a busy summer – but it’s odd watching this after Alexandra Palace and seeing contenders crowned… then having long since had their title shots. Still, whilst the in-ring may not have gone down well had this been a “chapter show”, the camerawork matched that of a normal PROGRESS show, thanks to them being able to use their usual camera crew. At two hours (or so) PROGRESS Cologne is a pretty good show that is worth your time, but perhaps not one to prioritise outside of the WALTER/Mike Bird match, if you’re short on time!
- “PROGRESS: Cologne” is available now via Demand-PROGRESS.com – either to rent, buy, or as part of their monthly subscription service.