A slightly longer than usual episode of Freedom’s Road this week featured the in-ring return of a PROGRESS legend – and some beard-on-beard violence.
The “previously on…” spot recapped the implosion of the Dazzler Team, and the challenge that led to this week’s main event of Damon Moser vs. Kyle Ashmore.
We start with a Wasteman Challenge though, and the appearance of Bodyguy Roy Johnson. His pre-match promo gets an “origami” chant after he threatened to fold someone up… and his opponent today was the returning RJ Singh – last seen in a PROGRESS ring in November 2014, after losing a retirement match to Stixx.
Singh got the “welcome back” chants, but he wasn’t here to “spit some bars” – especially not at the age of 35! Instead, we’re getting some “brown on brown” (RJ’s words, not mine!)
Roy Johnson vs. RJ Singh
RJ starts with a wristlock that’s reversed as the feeling-out process led to Singh tripping the Bodyguy and pinning his legs together.
A springboard back elbow keeps Singh on top, before he crashes and burns with a cross body… Johnson picks him back up and hits a fallaway slam, and that’s where the Bodyguy takes over, landing a pendulum backbreaker for a near-fall. A full nelson slam gets a two-count on RJ, before he went for the Last Set.
Singh slips out, but quickly ran into a Fireman’s carry that Johnson turned into a press slam that ended up as a powerslam! That’s still only good for a two-count, and the Singh comeback gets going with a tiltawhirl scissors then a Russian legsweep as RJ gets his first near-fall. A diving dropkick from Singh catches Johnson in the corner, as RJ looked to follow up with the Singh-tom Bomb.
RJ lands on his feet as he instead drops down and follows up with a neckbreaker as we see Earl Black Jr come to ringside. Singh looks to finish off with a superkick, but it’s caught and returned with a forearm, then a Samoan drop for a near-fall. RJ gets caught as his leapfrog’s turned into a huge sit-out powerbomb for a two-count, but a superkick out of nowhere drops the Bodyguy like a stone.
Singh looks again for the Singh-ton Bomb, but that’s the cue for Earl Black Jr to hit the ring. He then ran into the Bodyguy with a knee for the DQ, before taking down Singh with punches and more knees, before Darrell Allen makes the save. Oh, the teases of a Bhangra Knights reunion are strong with this one!
This was a decent match – Johnson looked really good in the opening exchanges when this seemed to be a total squash, and RJ didn’t look too rusty for his first match back (coughkayfabecough).
We go backstage with Jack Sexsmith and Candy Floss (a trainee you may have noticed on the PROGRESS ring crew – the youngster with pink hair). The door sounds a lot like a crying baby, but that calms down as Candy asks Jack for some advice… he tells her to keep up what she’s doing, and not to expect too much too soon. Jack recalls that it’s been a year since he made his PROGRESS chapter debut against Shen Woo, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re facing again tonight! I wonder if Jack’ll get to sit on his face, since he was so thrileld about that…
Jack gets changed behind a bar, which leads to teases of naked Sexsmith (which almost got real awkward…), all whilst he’s continuing to give Candy a pep-talk. Sexsmith leaves the bar, and immediately meets Shen Woo, who jumps him… and their brawl starts. Apparently Jack had left his boots in another room, so he’s fighting in his Ugg boots – which is where the trend starts!
They fight down a stairwell as some trainees struggle to separate them, and they spill out into their match…
Jack Sexsmith vs. Shen Woo
Jack’s theme plays as the fight continues down to the ring, which briefly raised my hopes of a New Jack Sexsmith-style of match. Complete with constant Divinyls.
When they enter the ring, Sexsmith misses a knee in the corner, before he heads up top and lands an elbow smash to a standing Woo… only to jar his knee so much that he swore like he was in a New Japan match! That gives Woo an opportunity to chop block Jack’s knee, and you can guess what body part Shen went for.
Referee Tom Scarborough separated the two, but Shen only kicked away at the knee when Jack got back up… before Sexsmith staggered into a roll-up as he nearly won. More kicks to the knee gets Shen a two-count, which completes the crowd’s turn on him. A heel hook takes down Jack, who grabs the ropes just in time, and manages to mount a comeback with a Pearl Neckbreaker – but his knee meant he wasn’t able to make a cover.
A knee strike – with the good one – takes down Shen, as does a DDT… and it’s now time for Mr Cocko! Woo kicks it away, then lands a kick to the chest for a near-fall as he continued to target those knees, which leads to Shen doing his best Ric Flair impression for a Figure Four leglock… only for Jack to roll him up and steal the win! Complete babyface stuff here, with Jack overcoming an arse kicking from start to finish – selling that knee masterfully as well.
Kyle Ashmore vs. Damon Moser
Announced just as “Ashmore”, the “Hipstar” here wasn’t exactly beloved in the main event here. Moser starts with a couple of boots in the corner, knocking down Ashmore, before missing a flying knee off the top… then connecting with a shotgun dropkick.
Moser looks to hit the Coast to Coast, but Ashmore gets up and tells him where to go, before knocking Moser to the floor. They brawl around the ring for a spell, all whilst the crowd whistled Moser’s theme, as the spell ended with Moser getting a Snake Eyes into the ring post. A death valley driver on the apron follows as Ashmore gets a near-fall in the ring, along with chants of “Uncle Albert” as the crowd dipped into their repertoire of Only Fools and Horses gags.
A comeback from Moser sees him land a load of clotheslines, before a Fisherman Buster is countered with a rolling death valley driver from Ashmore for a near-fall. Moser gets thrown to the outside, then gets drilled with some kicks to the back as Ashmore picked up more two-counts.
Ashmore lands a backbreaker then ties Moser up with an Anaconda Vice briefly, before Damon got some separation with a jaw breaker. The Eat Defeat takes Ashmore into the corner, but Ashmore quickly responds as they exchanged running strikes in the corners, ending with another Eat Defeat and a Yakuza kick.
Moser goes flying with a lariat for a near-fall on Ashmore, before a spinning back suplex collects another two-count. Ashmore sidesteps a Knee Trembler and nails Moser with a poison ‘rana, then a pop-up powerbomb onto the knee for a two-count, before another knee strike forces yet another near-fall.
Ashmore calls for the end, but he spends too long playing to the crowd and takes an over-the-knee Fisherman Buster, then a bicycle kick before he’s sent into the corner for that Coast-to-Coast dropkick. Second time was lucky for that move, but he ran into a standing Spanish Fly as Ashmore got a near-fall and then another Anaconda Vice. Eventually Moser knees himself free, then lands the Knee Trembler as beard and hair beats beard and baldness! A pretty good main event – plenty of brawling, but this did come across as Moser absorbing a beating then coming back to win.
…and that’s it for another episode. No “next time” teasers, which is likely due to the fact that the next set of Freedom’s Road tapings haven’t happened. We’ll be there for them early next week (as this is posted); and to see what happens next.
Another solid episode of Freedom’s Road – although there were more self-contained stories here, there’s still the hanging thread of what’s going to happen next with the now dissolved Dazzler Team… and considering how cold they were before this series started, that has to be a success story!