Starting their second tour of the month, PROGRESS headed to Germany – for a rather casual midnight show in Hamburg.
We’re starting in the Markthalle, as Jim Smallman opens with his usual line. No translation here. They’ve started late because stuff’s gone wrong, including (apparently, from live reports) their camera crew and wrestlers not all being there for bell time. Oops! Still, at least das Powercrowd is LOUD…
Callum Leslie and Glen Joseph are on commentary – live from Hamburg for a change, rather than post-produced.
Thunderbastard Tag Team Series: Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake & Zack Gibson) vs. The 198 (Morgan Webster & Wild Boar)
The lack of a camera crew for the start means we miss the entrances here… but hey, we get to see Jim Smallman pacing in the ring and Glen filming on a mobile phone while James Drake’s WWE music plays. As to why the footage from Glen’s mobile wasn’t patched in… well, your guess is as good as mine.
Zack cuts a promo bemoaning how they are the “rightful PROGRESS tag team champions”, labelling the Thunderbastard Series as a joke. Well… given the injuries, partner switches and the like, that’s a bit close to the knuckle.
The opening chant has the crowd stand up if they hate Gibson, which is delightful for the hard camera, but we start with Webster scoring with an armdrag on Drake… as our camera crew finally appear! Curse flight delays, eh? Boar and Webster try to double-team Drake, but Gibson makes the save as the former tag champs hit the Shankly Gates, only for the 198 to escape and land stereo Stranglers instead.
We keep going back-and-forth, but there’s a tease of miscommunication as Webster tried to shove Drake and Gibson into each other. Gibson recovers and lands a Ticket to Ride out of the corner for a near-fall, before he restrained Webster with a cobra clutch. It’s pretty comfortable stuff from the former tag champs, with Drake stomping squarely on Webster’s head as the beatdown continued.
Commentary threw in here that the planned Thunderbastard tag league match between Sexy Starr and the Anti-Fun Police was off as Jack Sexsmith had to sit-out the tour due to a family emergency. Starr had been given the choice of a replacement, but he opted not to seek a replacement on the PROGRESS card – thus the AFP get the win via forfeit.
That was the cue for Boar to get the hot tag in and land a series of cannonballs as he was a one man wrecking machine, almost getting the win with a uranage slam. Drake and Gibson tried to fight back, but they stuttered a little as a Parade of Moves broke out, allowing Boar to hit a knee-assisted Fire Thunder Bomb on Drake for a near-fall. Drake tries to steal it with a roll-up after Webster’s gotten crotched on top, but again Boar kicks out after taking a Dominator/neckbreaker combo from the GYV.
A double headbutt from Webster puts the brakes on the former tag champs, as he manages to restrain Gibson with a Strangler while Drake takes a roll-up for the win. This was alright, but a little too brief… and I’m kinda glad that the GYV’s Thunderbastard run is over. We’ve just got the eponymous match for them to “have issues” with, unless that story is going to keep on rolling. ***
Jim mentioned the Jack Sexsmith issue, but didn’t say what was going on (commentary did). This next match rather gives it away…
Chief Deputy Dunne vs. Fred Yehi
They’ve tweaked the Anti-Fun Police’s theme – it’s now not just a siren looping. Thank God.
Rather randomly, we see one of the camera crew climbing stairs to get a better shot ahead of Fred Yehi’s entrance. The hard cam’s right there, guys! Still, all’s not lost. Santos gets to introduce Dunne, but with perhaps a little too much enthusiasm as Dunne reckons he’s being oversold. Yehi kinda proved Santos wrong in the early stages, taking down Dunne with ease as he went to stomp on the chief’s ankle before he scored with a shoulder tackle and a simple slam. Santos gets on the apron to stop Yehi from going for a pin, annoyed at what he was doing… which gets chants of “please calm down.” I love you, Hamburg.
Santos seemed to be working against Dunne here, as Yehi just keeps on with those stomps, then some chops, and a Beele throw out of the corner, before he pulled Dunne up for a German suplex. There’s more distractions from Santos, whose slapstick continued to be the highlight… and it actually worked too as Dunne’s able to fight back from here. Some choking from Santos keeps Yehi down as Rainer Ringer had his back turned, but Yehi doesn’t fall for the False Alarm enziguiri, and instead hits a German suplex.
More chops take Dunne into the ropes, as Yehi finally strikes him down for a double stomp, getting a near-fall out of it. There’s some Mongolian chops and bicycle kicks from Yehi next, before he tripped Dunne into a sunset flip as they swap two-counts for fun. Santos tries to interject himself again, but he’s stopped by a glare as Dunne fight back with a slingshot back cracker for another near-fall.
Another springboard’s caught as Yehi chases Dunne from corner-to-corner on his back, before ending with an Air Raid Crash… which prompts Santos to come in again. He screamed as his hand’s stood on, which leaves Yehi open for the banana skin as a roll-up from Dunne gets the win. This match seemed to be more to put over Yehi for the German crowd than anything else, but the outcome does little for either man to be honest. **½
TK Cooper vs. Timothy Thatcher
Yes, they try to crash zoom… but restrain themselves. Good lads. On paper, this ought to be fairly one sided, but given this is TK’s only match of the tour (via a hell-ish journey, which he outlined on the Escaping the Midcard YouTube series), he’ll be looking to put in a shift here.
TK’s cowering already at the sight of a jovial Thatcher… and to be fair, who wouldn’t? Thatcher takes TK into the ropes, where things get a little tetchy… although Timothy calms it down with an armbar or two. A chinlock keeps TK down for a while, but he fights out and ends up barging down Thatcher with a shoulder block, only to get quickly caught in an armbar as TK’s forced to reach for the ropes.
Thatcher uses the ring apron to good effect, before he looked to wear down on TK’s knee, which leads to a single-leg crab that forces Cooper into the ropes again. A butterfly suplex follows for a near-fall, but TK’s able to mount a comeback of sorts, clattering into Thatcher with forearms and a headbutt for a near-fall.
TK tries to blame the referee’s count for his near-falls, but his attempt at the Rihanna ends up getting countered into a RINGKAMPF belly-to-belly off the ropes by Thatcher, before a barrage of slaps had TK seeking refuge in the corner. A side Salto suplex is next from Thatcher, dumping TK for a two-count, only to get caught with a Cobra Clutch slam as TK tried in vain to get the win. Thatcher’s right back in with a Gojira clutch, before a butterfly suplex gets countered into a bridging Northern Lights… only for Thatcher to kick out and take a boot to the face.
An axe kick is next from TK for a two-count, before he whiffs on a springboard moonsault, allowing Thatcher to hit the enziguiri, a back drop driver and then a butterfly suplex for the win. This went exactly as you expected – TK putting on a hell of a showing, but in the end the gulf in class showed as Timothy Thatcher picked up a rather straightforward win. ***¼
Killer Kelly vs. Alpha Female vs. Jinny
This was originally a four-way, but Toni Storm’s injury meant this was rescheduled as a triple-threat – without the mini tournament aspect that was originally scheduled.
Commentary’s disappeared as we start with Alpha Female trying to clear house, laying waste to Kelly and Jinny with forearms and body blows. Heck, she even stacks up her two opponents into the corner before choosing to focus on Jinny with some crossface punches and an Anaconda Vice that Kelly broke up in time. Kelly gets some similar treatment, but she’s able to make it to the ropes before she and Jinny low bridge Alpha to the outside.
Kelly takes over from there, leaping into the corner with a forearm for a near-fall on Jinny. Alpha returns with a suplex attempt as commentary finally appears, but the efforts of Jinny and Kelly see it reversed before they go back to each other. Jinny edges ahead with forearms and a back elbow, before she tripped Kelly into a seated surfboard – but Alpha Female breaks that up with ease, pulling Jinny out by the hair.
Alpha slams Jinny with ease, but Killer Kelly charges in with a guillotine choke as Jinny was getting back to her feet… but Alpha charges Kelly into the corner to free herself. There’s more from Jinny, but she’s caught as her and Kelly take a double-team powerslam from Alpha, again for a near-fall. A Tree slam from Alpha nearly ends it, but Kelly’s saved once again as Jinny puts the boots to Alpha Female, which allowed Kelly to try for another guillotine… which Jinny kicks away. The revolving door on Alpha Female continued, but Kelly German suplexes away Jinny before trapping Alpha in another guillotine… and the match is stopped by Rainer Ringer! A rather surprising result, but unless Jinny was winning, any result here was going to be a shock. Decent given the time, but this seemed to be a win to build up for wXw since Toni Storm wasn’t around. **¾
PROGRESS World Championship: Chris Brookes vs. WALTER (c)
Our main event, or at least the scheduled one, was meant to be Chris Brookes challenging WALTER for the PROGRESS title. At least it’s not in the midcard… but we do get an exaggerated version of the WOS hard camera. Eh, it’s late…
So WALTER was the crowd favourite here, and he started by effortlessly gutwrenching Brookes and placing him onto the apron. The tussles continue as Brookes gets taken into a corner, but WALTER is lenient and doesn’t chop. Brookes isn’t showing as much mercy though, and that just angers WALTER… who takes him to the corner for a chop, but we’ve an interruption.
wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion Absolute Andy appears on the stage with a microphone, and addresses the crowd in German. He then translates for us idiots, saying that he’s the real world champion. In the meantime, Marius al-Ani and Bobby Gunns hit the ring, and we’ve got a brawl on our hands… with David Starr making the save.
Okay. So in wXw world, Absolute Andy, Bobby Gunns and Marius al-Ani are all feuding with each other… so of course, stick them together as a team! I get that things were thrown into disarray with late flights and the like, but this’d be like PROGRESS working with EVOLVE, and then having Jinny and Toni Storm on the same team. Willingly. It was disappointing to see as someone who invests their energies in this sort of thing, and some had gone as far as to say insulting.
Chris Brookes, WALTER & David Starr vs. Absolute Andy, Marius al-Ani & Bobby Gunns
WALTER proposes the match, despite the issues with David Starr, and we start with a six-man brawl up on the stage, with WALTER just booting Bobby Gunns in the back for the hell of it. Yeah, the brawl’s hard to follow as it’s shot from the crowd, as we barely see Andy take a David Starr backdrop on the stage.
We do get a better view of a stage dive from Starr though, while Brooks/Marius and Starr/Gunns paired off. WALTER and Andy trade chops, before Andy’s dumped onto the ring apron, and the bell goes as those two enter the ring. Andy takes the leapfrog/big boot from WALTER, but Andy responds with a spinebuster before Starr comes in.
Bobby Gunns takes a back elbow, then a Han Stansen lariat before Brookes and Marius came in. There’s a snap hiptoss and a low dropkick from Brookes for a near-fall, but Andy sneaks back in to hit a big boot to Brookes while al-Ani was in control. Heck, Brookes was worn over quite a bit, with Marius grounding Brookes with a chinlock, while Starr and WALTER stoof and argued in the corner. That just distracts the referee as Andy and Bobby come in and add to the Brookes stretching, but he finally breaks free and dumps Gunns with a brainbuster.
A tag’s made out to Starr, who charges into Marius with the Violence Party in the corner, before hitting the Pretty Pumped. Gunns tries to interfere, but takes a backbreaker and a superkick, while Andy manages to avoid that as he goes for a powerbomb. Starr slips out and tags in WALTER, who’s all about those chops as referee Tassilo Jung lost whatever control he had here. Eh, it’s almost 2am, we can forgive that.
WALTER recovers with some German suplexes, before he’s caught in a guillotine by Gunns… which gets countered into a butterfly suplex for good measure. All six men struggle over a suplex, but it’s the good guys who win with their efforts, but the ring quickly clears as Andy dumps WALTER with a F5 for a near-fall. David Starr comes in to become a Lykos, landing an elevated lungblower ahead of Brookes’ back senton on Andy. Brookes ducks a spinning heek kick as Marius lays out Gunns – but there’s a similar miscue from the good guys before WALTER just powerbombs Andy for another near-fall as commentary again railed on Tassilo Jung’s count. Marius comes close again after an Exploder to WALTER, but his bid at a reverse ‘rana is fought out of as WALTER pushes out and goes for the Gojira/German suplex combo.
Brookes’ slingshot cutter and a Han Stansen from Starr keeps Marius down, before another WALTER powerbomb gets another near-fall on al-Ani. The Shotgun champion’s right back up into a short clothesline, and that’s all. Huh. This felt very much like a “post-Raw dark match” – bodies out there for the hell of it, for a match that really means little in the grand scheme of things. Still, at least WALTER can air violin with his belt. **½
PROGRESS Hamburg was a show that was always going to have a weird feeling to it. Starting at midnight, after wXw FAN, immediately gave this a feeling of being a “B show”, at least on the night. Throwing in travel issues that played a role in the shenanigans around the main event didn’t help either, with the “Team wXw” versus “Team PROGRESS” stuff just being plain bizarre – leading to a match that really did nobody any favours.
Still, it wasn’t an awful show – just one that fell short of PROGRESS’ usual standards.