The final show before Wembley, PROGRESS rounded off their weekend in Germany with a trip to Frankfurt – with the final Thunderbastard series matches!

You know the score: tired Jim Smallman opens this up, announces that the card’s been reshuffled a little due to injuries, before we’re joined by Glen Joseph and Callum Leslie on commentary.

Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. Connor Mills & Maverick Mayhew
Wow, Frankfurt were NOT patient waiting for the music! This wasn’t a Thunderbastard series match, but rather a rematch from Chapter 69, when Aussie Open picked up the win to kick off the series.

Fletcher and Mills set us off, with Kyle wrenching in with an early headlock as commentary muses over what title shot Mark Davis’ll cash in his Natural PROGRESSion Series win on. Regardless of that, a low dropkick from Fletcher trips Mills, who manages to rebound with a slingshot stomp to the Aussie Arrow, as M&M started to ease their way into things. An assisted standing moonsault from Mayhew nearly does it, but Fletcher takes him into the opposite corner as Mark Davis came in to… cut him down with a chop. Thanks for coming! A series of slams from Davis made it look easy as Mayhew remained in trouble… and in the wrong corner.

Another simple slam and a back senton squashes Mayhew for a near-fall, but when Fletcher returned Mayhew was able to sneak in a dropkick and a roundhouse kick before getting the tag out. Mills knocks Davis off the apron before dropping Fletcher with a clothesline as the larger of the M&M team were edging ahead. A backdrop-assisted senton has Mayhew wiping out the Aussies on the floor, before a corkscrew Asai moonsault saw Mills go airborne, as M&M returned to the ring with an assisted tornado DDT for a near-fall on Fletcher.

Dunkzilla gets the tag in and instantly lays out M&M with chops and clotheslines, singlehandedly turning the match back around. The Alphamare Waterslide gets a near-fall out of Mills, who avoids a sliding forearm in the corner as M&M turned their focus onto Dunkzilla… with Mayhew’s satellite headscissors and a 450 from Mills hitting its mark for a near-fall! Mayhew’s lifted up for a Code Red, but Fletcher makes the save and quickly sets up for a Fidget Spinner… but Mayhew escapes as mayhem broke out, with a superkick from Fletcher stopping a springboard as Mayhew eats a double-team Go To Sleep outside the ring, then an assisted cutter inside for the win. A nice opening match, with a little bit of back-and-forth, but it’s another loss for M&M who again can’t get the job done in the bigger rooms. I sense foreshadowing for Wembley… ***¼

Emil Sitoci vs. Doug Williams
Unfamiliar music for Emil Sitoci here, who’d originally been set to face Tyler Bate, as we’ve got all the experience in one (non-title) match here.

Sitoci started out by taking Williams into the ropes, before he looked to work the wrist and arm of the Atlas champion. Doug tries to escape, but the Dutchman keeps onto the arm, as the pair switch and countered to their heart’s content. There’s some grounded headscissors from Sitoci, but he’s quickly caught in a leg spreader as Williams was dipping into the bag of tricks he’d learned over the years.

Sitoci escapes and misses a PK, almost taking the loss there and then as Doug rolled him up, before Emil started to turn up the pace as he comes back into it. Some headscissors almost get the win as Sitoci goes back onto the arm of Williams, dropping a knee to the shoulder before he lands in some knees from a split-legged moonsault. Doug throws Sitoci casually to the outside as they brawled around the ringside area, before they returned to the ring as Sitoci had to try and fight out of some bodyscissors. He does so, but ends up being pulled into a Gory special, before Williams backed him up into the corner, putting him on the top rope in the process. A superplex looked to follow, but Sitoci shoves Doug down and hits a crossbody off the top for a near-fall, before a leg-capture Stunner sends Doug rolling to the outside.

We’re back in the brawling around ringside, with Sitoci throwing some elbows to Williams’ jaw as he was prone on the apron. The focus on the head and neck continues with a neck crank from Sitoci, but Doug fought back to his feet and began a fightback with a running knee into the corner, then a back elbow before rolling free of a sunset flip before he tried to roll Emil up into a pin from a bow-and-arrow hold.

Emil kicked out at two, but Doug keeps up with an Exploder suplex for a near-fall, only to get caught out of nowhere with a Snapmare Driver for a near-fall as Sitoci had one last burst. In the end, Sitoci tried to put Doug away with a tombstone, but he’s countered out of as Williams rolled into the Chaos Theory for the win! Yet again though, Doug’s neck caused issues after the Chaos Theory – which kinda soured things, but this was a heck of a contest between two guys who meshed really, really well with each other. ***½

Thunderbastard Tag Team Series: Anti-Fun Police (Chief Deputy Dunne & Los Federales Santos Jr.) vs. Calamari Thatch Kings (Chris Brookes & Timothy Thatcher)
Our final Thunderbastard series match is (almost) a match straight out of ATTACK! Whomever wins this will come in second, so they’ll be the penultimate team entering the eponymous match at Wembley.

Ahead of the match, Dunne said he wanted no part of Timothy Thatcher, who had no clue what to make of Santos… and that was not just because everyone was scared of him.

Chris Brookes starts the match with Dunne, if only so we could get some wrestling, but Dunne’s instantly on the back foot as his ankle was stomped on. An arm whip keeps Dunne down, before Brookes stomped onto the elbow with a little bit of guidance from an amused Thatcher, as Brookes seemed to be more Yehi-like in his assault here as he picked up a near-fall.

Just as Brookes looked to be tagging in Thatcher, Dunne begs off… which means that poor Santos was forced to come in. Oh boy. After getting geed up by his chief, Santos quickly realised the mistake he’d made… but locked up anyway and grabbed a side headlock. Good grief! He’s shoved into the ropes and makes a dent with shoulder tackles on Thatcher, before he went all lucha with a cartwheel as the camera crew kept cutting to Thatcher reaction shots.

Bad news though: Thatcher instantly goes for the wrist as he was not in the mood for fun and games… and Santos not only tags out, he walks away! Best to watch from the stage there, Santos, safest place to be! Meanwhile, Dunne quickly gets schooled by Thatcher, who walks him around the ring with a gutwrench suplex for a near-fall, before Brookes came in and again had to be stopped from doing the wet willie. Thatcher’s back for some double-teaming as CTK peppered Dunne with a series of strikes, finishing with an elbow drop for a near-fall, which just angered Santos… who screamed something from the sidelines. A series of toe pokes force Dunne onto the apron, but he’s back with an enziguiri before Santos tags in… and gets tripped instantly by Brookes.

Out comes the No Fun Gun, which everyone sells… except Timothy Thatcher, who behaves exactly how you’d expect him to, no-selling as everyone acts like it’s an armed stand-off. Brookes kicks the “gun” away, and it’s caught by Tassilo Jung, who hands it off as the Anti-Fun Police found their way back into things. A knee-drop/back breaker combo gets a near-fall on Brookes as Thatcher growled on from the apron… and eventually manages to come into play.

Running uppercuts catch Dunne in the corner before Santos hits him from behind… he’s ineffective though as Thatcher manages to slam him with ease, before returning to Dunne with a rear naked choke. Santos hits a splash to break it up as they go for their version of the Midnight Hour, but Brookes makes a save at the count of two, as he helped with a comeback. A slingshot cutter from Brookes nearly put Dunne away, but Santos is tagged back in to catch Brookes with a Deep Six. Thatcher and Brookes powder to the outside, but there’s a nonchalant uppercut from Thatcher as he swats away Dunne’s dive… but he didn’t expect Santos to fly as the big man knocked them both down. Frankfurt LOVED that!

Back in the ring, Santos goes up top for… nevermind. A powerbomb/punt kick combo by Brookes and Thatcher nearly puts him down, as the CTK isolated Santos in the ring. Santos’ No Fun Gun again doesn’t work on Thatcher, who instead slaps the life out of him repeatedly, and that’s enough to “kill” Santos for the win. Good God, I was expecting shenanigans, but this was downright comedic with Timothy Thatcher putting Santos well and truly down for the count, while showing his expressive self. Well worth digging this one out, if only for some rare comedy that doesn’t go over the top. ***¾

Santos remains down and out in the middle of the ring as the Calamari Thatch Kings went to the back… and he remained “out” throughout intermission, while Chief Deputy Dunne tried in vain to revive Santos. They actually show the interval on time-lapse with classical music in the background, with Santos remaining motionless… I howled. *****

Eventually, after the Frankfurt crowd were done posing for photos with the slain Santos at ringside, ring crew figure out what to do… and no, it wasn’t call for the medics, although Chief Deputy Dunne’s latest attempt at alcohol-assisted CPR finally did the trick. Remind me never to collapse at a German show if that’s the standard of care!

Zack Gibson vs. Lucky Kid
This was originally scheduled to be Lucky Kid vs. Pete Dunne, but the rescheduled main event meant that Zack had another rare singles match in PROGRESS.

The wackiness of Lucky Kid prompted an expected tirade from Zack Gibson… but Lucky just took it as a chance for an impromptu nap. We started with Gibson taking Lucky into the corner, as the crowd backed Lucky to not take things seriously. Problem was, Zack was in a mood to finish it early, as he rolled Lucky onto the mat in an attempt to lock in the Shankly Gates.

Lucky gets to the ropes and embarks on a World of Sport-like series before he grabbed onto Zack Gibson’s legs like a small child holds onto its teddy bear. Zack’s not amused, but he does escape before he’s tripped and hit with a low dropkick, sending him powdering to the outside as Lucky Kid fakes out a dive and… BLAAH! Another dropkick keeps Gibson outside as a plancha puts him down… but James Drake provides a distraction as Zack hit back with a Ticket to Ride out of the corner. That gets a near-fall, so Gibson keeps up with some forearms before he went back to work on Lucky’s arm, tying him up in a Million Dollar Dream as the former tag team champion was in control – helped by James Drake’s covert interference.

A shotgun dropkick from Lucky Kid takes Zack into the corner as we have a comeback on our hands. There’s a handspring back elbow that puts Gibson onto the apron, and Lucky follows outside after him, landing a 619 on the apron to knock Gibson back into the crowd, before an Arabian press kept Gibson on the floor. Back inside, Lucky hits an Asai DDT for a near-fall, before Gibson back body drops out of a Ligerbomb attempt. Zack keeps building up momentum with a tombstone gutbuster for a near-fall, which just angered Gibson a little more… and fired up the RISE member, who BLAAAHs his way into biting Gibson’s hand. An enziguiri rocks Zack, whose attempt at a flying Ticket to Ride’s countered into a sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall. Lucky tries to go for a Dragon suplex, but Gibson switches out and runs into a small package for a near-fall.

Lucky goes for another handspring back elbow, but his hand’s kicked away in the ropes as Gibson comes straight back with the Helter Skelter and the Shankly Gates for the submission. A brisk, enjoyable outing here, but it was always likely that the PROGRESS star was going to get the win over the “local” hero. ***¼

PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Kris Wolf vs. Jinny (c)
Another PROGRESS debut here as Kris Wolf’s extended stay in Germany managed to translate into a title shot… and an attempt to dance to Jinny’s music.

Jinny isn’t exactly in the mood to shake Kris’ tail, not to greet Wolf’s friend Tito, slapping away the wolf’s head… which just raises Kris’ ire. Kris goes flying early, but she misses a dropkick as Jinny was wise to it all, before Wolf nearly scores with a roll-up.

The frantic action continues as Wolf scores with a knee to Jinny, before grabbing hold of Tito ahead of a kick to the back, then a PK as Jinny wasn’t exactly enamoured with wearing real animal stuff… so much so that she started to put the boots to Wolf, landing an axe kick for a near-fall as the pair remained fairly even. A wild forearm from Jinny rocks Wolf, who gets snapmared and met with an armbar as Jinny continued to hunt for a stoppage. Another forearm puts Kris in the corner, but she leaps out with a crossbody that catches Jinny for a near-fall, as the flurry continued. A Shining Wizard gets another two-count for Wolf, who then gets caught climbing the ropes and is brought down with a facebuster in the ropes as the match was almost won.

Wolf mounts another comeback with some strikes, but Jinny trips her into a seated surfboard, only for Kris to get a hand to the rope. Another fightback from Wolf sees her lifted to the outside as Jinny throws her challenger into the crowd, but Kris turns it around and gives Jinny a taste of her own medicine. They return to the ring, where a small package nearly gets Jinny the win, but Wolf is back with an Exploder for a near-fall, only to head up top and leap into the feet of Jinny, who quickly finishes her with a ripcord Koppo kick (which is a cool finish, even if it looks a little wonky sometimes) for the win. This was alright, but suffered from the fact that nobody bought Wolf winning the title and shaking up the Wembley plans. **¾

The 198 (Flash Morgan Webster & Wild Boar) & Avalanche vs. British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
In the final match of the tour, it was another reshuffling as the 198 were added to the card… with a rather unlikely tag team partner – in PROGRESS debutant Avalanche. Meanwhile, Jim Smallman ring announced under duress (and the threat of being towel whipped).

Who’d have thought it was Pete Dunne who saved him?

So yeah, the pre-match towel whipping kinda tips off we’re in for some comedy BSS, but first we start with Dunne and Webster nullifying each other, before Dunne wrenched away on Flash’s arm. Then his nipple. And nose. Anything, really. Trent and Tyler come in to keep the nurple purple, before Tyler and Pete roll through Webster in a leg lock, taking him into the corner as Wild Boar came into play. Boar tries to take control, but Bate backs away as commentary exhumed talk of the old BWC Scarlo Scholarship championship. Remember when that was a thing?? Bate and Boar stand-off, so Avalanche brings himself in… as does Trent for a hoss fight. Those two were meant to be in a singles match, and after some shoving they roll in the ropes from a tie-up, then look to trade off shoulder tackles.

Yeah, we get the Iron Mike Sharpe high trunks as Trent covers his own nipples to show the value of lycra, before he just bounces off Avalanche with a crossbody. Trent fires back with chops before a forearm sends him down… and there’s sandbag Trent. You’d think someone would just cover him, but no…

Especially because every time Trent fires back with chops, before feeding Boar and Avalanche in for some accidental DDTs. The ring fills as the match broke down into a brawl, with Dunne throwing Boar into Flash’s helmet (Arabella, get your minds out of the gutter) as it became hard for the camera crew to keep up around the Batschkapp. Webster and Dunne headed up onto the stage, which ends with Webster hitting a Pinball Wizard stage dive into the British Strong Style trio underneath.

There’s more silliness around ringside as commentary’s gone for a lie down, returning just as Trent chops the ring post like an idiot. Twice. They rush back to the ring as Boar squashes Trent with a back senton for a near-fall, but the 198 were taken down with a dual clothesline from Trent, who tags in a fresh Pete Dunne to clear house. An enziguiri in the corner rocks Boar, as does an X-Plex as the match nearly ended right there and then. A corkscrew Rude Boy moonsault out of the corner nearly gets Webster the win, but Dunne is right back on Flash as the momentum shifts… culminating in Dunne swatting Webster out of the sky with a forearm. Tyler Bate tags in and continues that momentum, scoring with a diving uppercut before catching Webster’s leap and turning it into an overhead belly-to-belly. Bate nearly wins with a standing shooting star press, before he dishes out airplane spins to Webster… then Boar… then Avalanche?! Bloody hell.

Webster’s back with a hand’s up headbutt to a dizzy Bate, but a Koppo kick is the retort as Webster ends up taking a PK-assisted piledriver from Trent for a near-fall, before Boar countered a rebound clothesline into a pop-up powerbomb. There’s another Pinball Wizard from Webster as BSS again were wiped out… Trent’s thrown back in as he’s triple-teamed, ending with Avalanche splashing onto him for a near-fall as Pete and Tyler break it up. The ring’s full again as all six men teed off on each other, but a trio of bop/bang punches clear the ring as Avalanche is left there to take a backfist and a Seven Stars lariat for the win. British Strong Style pick up another win as their format of trios match proved popular yet again. ***½

Commentary closes out by hinting a rather little too strongly that British Strong Style lost “all the gold” at Alexandra Palace at PROGRESS’ last big show… and that they could leave Wembley all with gold. Frankfurt was a fun show, really in line with the majority of PROGRESS’ increased output in 2018 – and a card that was worth your time, if only for the Santos/Thatcher interactions. Oh, and the interval. So that’s it. The road to Wembley is complete – and all of the shows were on line in time for folks to watch them! Que sera sera…

While PROGRESS’ globetrotting in August (and a little bit of September) almost turned PROGRESS’ editors into gibbering wrecks, these were all worthwhile shows in their own right. Well, almost all of them. We’re looking at you, midnight-show-in-Hamburg!