Freedom’s Road became Freedom’s Bro’d as PROGRESS moved to the Tufnell Park Dome for the latest in their soap-style-graps.
We open with Chuck Mambo talking to Matt Riddle. Already this is awesome! They talk about Mambo’s new time travelling surfboard, and all is normal!
We’re inside the arena, where we see the Evil KFC Colonel wandering around (who happens to be the MC for these shows), before Jinny appears backstage. She has a room cleared of some people, including a photographer, so she can take it.
Flash-forward to Matt Riddle and Dahlia Black… she mentions that TK Cooper doesn’t qualify for the Atlas title, which is a shame because she feels that he can beat Riddle. Matt’s cool with it regardless of it not being for the title, but TK’s not so sure.
We flash to the arena for our first taste of the new original PROGRESS music, and there’s a distinct Best of Super Junior winner in the background for our opening contest. Before Jinny’s opponent comes out, we get a weird spot where Bea Priestley’s looking in the mirror, and she sees an alternate version of herself, dressed in her new ring gear, complete with a Shark Boy-esque face mask. They’re all the rage in Japan, I hear!
Jinny vs. Bea Priestley
Watching this live, I remember Bea getting an indifferent reaction since the crowd would have been used to seeing her as a heel in PROGRESS and elsewhere. Jinny’s disgusted by Bea’s new gold-and-pink attire, so the best course of action… a hurricanrana and some punches!
Bea sidesteps as Jinny sends herself to the outside, where she takes a running kick and a cannonball off the apron. Back inside, a roundhouse kick to a kneeling Jinny gets a near-fall, but the Fashionista replies with a Japanese armdrag into the corner to knock the New Zealander loopy.
Jinny stomps on Bea in the corner to wear her down, before a caught kick sees Jinny flip Bea forwards onto a knee for a facebuster. Some chants of “shit clothes no fans” are deflected onto Bea by Jinny, as the onslaught continues with a series of running knees in the corner. The rantings of Jinny inspire Bea to fight back, but that ends with a pair of head kicks at the same time as both women crashed to the mat.
Priestley catches Jinny in a Rings of Saturn that turned into a Tequila Sunrise before Jinny finally got her foot under the ropes for a break. We cut to Laura di Matteo watching backstage as Jinny knees Bea down – just in time to tell Priestley that she’s “Will Ospreay’s bitch”. Another slap rocked Bea, who finally dumped Jinny with a snap back suplex, followed by a running boot into the corner for a two-count. Bea tries to finish off by going up top, but Jinny kicks her legs out and lands the Facelift (middle rope X-Factor) for the win.
Just 24 hours earlier, I’d been less than complimentary about Bea’s match for WCPW, but she looked really solid here, overcoming the whole “being a babyface to a crowd who sees her as a heel” issue, and played her part well.
Jinny goes backstage where she’s mockingly applauded by Laura Di Matteo.
Back to the arena now and we have more new music for TK Cooper and Dahlia Black. This is going to take a while to grow on me…
TK Cooper vs. Matt Riddle
Cooper’s announced as “Monogomous” – thanks Martina! – and also at 204.9lbs, just shy of that 205lb limit for the Atlas division. TK tries to kick away at Riddle… but Matt kicks straight back and knocks down the Kiwi, who then fell into a rear naked choke next to the ropes.
Yep, suddenly taking this match was a very bad idea!
A cross armbreaker sees Cooper rush to the ropes again, but he shakes off a knee to the back to finally land a forearm on Riddle… who fires straight back with plenty of his own. Yep, bad idea! Dahlia gets on the apron to try and distract Riddle, and it works as a dropkick takes Riddle to the floor. Cooper throws Riddle into the ringpost as, in his words, was “trying to win”. Good point well made TK!
Back inside, Cooper locks in a trapped-arm camel clutch, but Riddle just stands up and backs TK into the corner, only for the Kiwi to reply with a superkick and a Samoan drop for a two-count. Riddle comes back with a Pele kick, then a flying forearm into the corner and finally an Exploder as a horrified Dahlia looked on.
TK gets the knees up to block a back senton, then an axe kick as he almost pulled off the upset of the year, but Matt kicked out at two. Some kicks to the chest just rile Riddle further, as he just begs for more kicks as he Hulked up into a series of slaps and strikes, ending with a bicycle knee and a Fisherman’s buster. Somehow, despite all that, Cooper kicked out, and took some more kicks and knees before blocking a Pele kick, only to get caught in a heel hook.
TK tapped, but Dahlia had distracted the referee – so Cooper hopped back up and dumped Riddle with a Snow Plow for a two-count. Cooper cut-off a Riddle comeback with a straight right hand as he tried for a springboard clothesline, before Cooper flew in with a springboard 450 Splash. What the hell am I watching?!
After the kick-out though, the end was nigh as Cooper was caught with the Bro To Sleep, then a tombstone slam as the Atlas champion picked up the win. My God. TK Cooper doesn’t wrestle much as a single, but on this evidence, I’d have to ask… why?! Cooper took his licks and kept coming back for more, and ended up with the crowd on his side. Even though he didn’t want them. TK’s going to be sorely missed when he leaves these shores, and on this evidence, it’ll be for more than his outside-the-ring stuff too.
We fade to black, but not before we get a preview of next time, as we see Candy Floss getting some advice ahead of her debut… and for some reason Earl Black Jr is in cahoots with Timothy Thatcher?!
Another good episode of Freedom’s Road, albeit one that was rather more subtle in terms of stories, as we had the blatant (Dahlia getting a match for TK against Matt Riddle, then regretting it), and a subtle continuation of the long-term story between Jinny and Laura di Matteo. Not everything in wrestling has to be obvious, but for a half an hour show, this gave you everything you could ask for.