Barely 12 hours after their Hamburg show ended, PROGRESS were back in action with a rather improved showing in Oberhausen.

Jack Sexsmith’s omission meant that the Thunderbastard series match between Aussie Open and Sexy Starr forfeited, and we had a slight reshuffle of the card. Glen Joseph and Callum Leslie are on commentary from the famous Turbinenhalle balcony…

David Starr vs. Mark Davis
This was a make-good of sorts after the Thunderbastard series match was forfeited. Poor Germany had their fill of the Dunkzilla high fives as he dropped to the floor.

Starr begins with a headlock takedown out of the corner as he tried to keep Davis at bay, but he can’t avoid the high five… nor a retaliatory chop after he tried his best against the Aussie. An easy slam and a back senton from Davis squashes Starr for a two-count, as those chops come back into play. A series of forearms and chops come as Starr fought back, trapping Davis into the corner before connecting with a back elbow and a Han Stansen, sending Davis outside for a tope that put the Aussie through the front row. Literally – the back of the chair snapped in two. Enjoy your stool for the rest of the show, whomever’s seat that was!

Starr tries another dive back inside, but he just leaps into a forearm before he ate a sit-down splash out of the corner. The Alphamare Waterslide’s next for a two-count, but Davis misses a sliding forearm, and ends up being left open for a sliding splash instead as Starr tries again for the Blackheart Buster. Lariats and chops follow from Starr, who manages to get that Blackheart Buster in anyway, and almost snatches the win from that. Davis fights back with some body blows as the match descended into a slugfest of sorts, ending with a jab that sent Starr outside… and oh God, there’s another dive, but it’s turned into a Cherry Mint DDT from Starr, who then knocked into the corner for a sliding forearm, before the pull-up piledriver gets Dunkzilla the win. A nice sprint to start us off with – and given that Davis has that title shot in his pocket, a win gives him a little bit of momentum. ***¼

Thunderbastard Tag Team Series: Anti-Fun Police (Chief Deputy Dunne & Los Federales Santos Jr.) vs. M&M (Connor Mills & Maverick Mayhew)
After having won two points by forfeit in Hamburg, the Anti-Fun Police had to do the wrestling equivalent of singing for their supper here.

We started with Mayhew being overpowered early, before getting shocked at just how lucha-y Santos is for his size. Dunne quickly tags in to save his underling, and then turns around into a dropkick from Mayhew as M&M took control. An assisted standing moonsault gets Mayhew a near-fall, before Mills cuts off Dunne by tripping him en route to a slingshot stomp for a near-fall. All while Santos stood on the apron, plaintively waiting for a tag… which he gets as he comes in and charges down M&M with a dual lariat. Santos smothers Mayhew with a splash in the corner, before Dunne returned to pick up the slack, grounding Mayhew as he raked the eyes and nose for good measure. An enziguiri from Maverick is enough for him to tag out to a fired-up Mills, who dropkicks Dunne into the corner, keeping him there for some strikes and a Millshot for good measure. Santos returns to try and save the say, but he eats a Chris Hero-like Cyclone Boot before Mayhew’s back body dropped into a senton to the outside!

Mills follows in with an Asai moonsault, before M&M continue inside with an assisted satellite DDT that needed Santos to make a save on. Santos tags back in and runs into a boot from Mills, before catching a crossbody and turning it into their version of the New Day’s Midnight Hour. M&M rebound as Mills decks Santos with a rolling forearm, before he caught them with duelling versions of Baron Corbin’s Deep Six.

A Koppo Kick-assisted German suplex nearly puts away Mills as the Anti-Fun Police looked comfortable… but Mayhew saves Mills from a springboard lungblower by catching Dunne in mid-air with a dropkick as M&M took over, tentatively setting up for a Code Red, only for Dunne to get involved, blasting Mayhew with the springboard lungblower as Santos picks up the win. A fun tag team match, with the AFP continuing M&M’s poor run outside of the Tufnell Park Dome. ***¼

James Drake vs. Fred Yehi vs. Kyle Fletcher
Another reshuffled match due to absences, with James Drake having been added to the card in a rare singles match.

James Drake gets play Zack Gibson with a promo, whinging that he had to work on his night off. It came across like a tribute act. Fletcher shuts him up with a forearm as we got going, leaving Fletcher and Yehi to do the early heavy lifting as they laid into each other with chops and the like. Yehi’s in with his stomps and low dropkicks for a near-fall, before Drake pulls him out and picks the bones of Fletcher from there. A clothesline from Drake puts Fletcher down, as Yehi tried – and failed – to get back into the ring. Fletcher’s springboard crossbody puts Drake down, but a forearm quickly snuffs that out before Drake whiffed on a corner dropkick. Yehi returns to clear through the pair of them with stomps and back sentons, before he blasted through Drake with Mongolian chops and those bicycle kicks that gave way to see-saw sunset flips.

Yehi nearly puts Drake away after a backpack charge into the corner… then looks to dish out one for Fletcher, only for Drake to sneak in and throw him out. A Michinoku Driver from Fletcher almost ends it, but Yehi’s back and absorbs some strikes before he and Fletcher focussed on Drake… who comes right back out at the pair of them. Drake’s bid to do something off the apron just earns him a superkick, but he’s back in after Fletcher lawndarted Yehi into the turnbuckle, stealing the pin with a DDT. This was technically sound, but Drake as a singles guy was the least established act of anything in this match… and it showed in the crowd reactions. ***

RISE (Ivan Kiev, Lucky Kid & Pete Bouncer) vs. British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
I have a feeling this is going to have some elements of comedy BSS… Still, at least the sound-alike RISE theme was pretty good.

Pete Bouncer steals Pete Dunne’s jacket, which fit him quite nicely… and with Lucky Kid and Pete Dunne having a singles match in Frankfurt the next day, it was only fitting those two would start, with Dunne quickly going after Lucky’s hands and legs, before Lucky rebounded with a ‘rana for a near-fall. Dunne tries for a cross armbar, but Lucky Kid gets away and both men tag out, bringing us to Bate and Pete Bouncer for a battle of the “body guys”.

A test of strength sees Bouncer win out, but it’s quickly reversed as Bate gets back to his feet, allowing him to take down Bouncer in a quick toe-hold before letting go. After a scrambling roll-up, Bate grabs a headlock but Bouncer escapes and hits a body slam before missing… I think an elbow drop? In comes Trent Seven as Tyler sets him up for his assisted back senton, but after kicking out Bouncer takes him into the corner as Kiev comes in. Shoulder tackles perhaps weren’t the smartest of ideas, as Trent inches his trunks up a la Iron Mike Sharp (or perhaps Tarkan Aslan’s new gear), before he whiffs on the crossbody. Sandbag Trent is next in the set list, which gives Glen an easy Dad joke, as Trent fires up with chops, before he set up Pete Bouncer to “accidentally” DDT his own partners.

From there, Lucky Kid’s killed with chops, complete with some BSS ball sweat chops, just because. Lucky tags out as Kiev and Bouncer double-team Trent with a side Russian legsweep/Blockbuster combo, before an axe kick nearly puts Trent away. Trent finally responds with a double clothesline, before we’re back to Lucky and Dunne. A German suplex from Lucky’s flipped out as Dunne instead nails an X-Plex for a near-fall.

Lucky scores with a handspring back elbow before bringing in Bouncer… who eats an enziguiri before diving in with a clothesline. Bate’s back as Bouncer can’t tag out in time, and he lays into the RISE leader with uppercuts in the corner. A diving European uppercut keeps Bouncer down, as does a standing shooting star press, before Bouncer and Lucky get caught in an airplane spin/giant swing combo.

A tag brings in Trent as a kick-assisted piledriver nearly ends the match, which descended into a Parade of Strikes that ends with Kiev’s flying leg lariat as all six men were down on the mat. RISE continue their, erm, ascent from there, wiping out Dunne and Bate with dives as Trent and Bouncer stayed in the ring, but we quickly broke down into a six-way slugfest that ends in a trio of bop/bang punches, before Bouncer takes a clothesline-assisted Dragon suplex, then a Bitter End for the win. Exactly what you’d expect – better or for worse – from a British Strong Style trios match these days. They didn’t go too heavy on the comedy stuff, which is a saving grace. Commentary did lean in a little on “will BSS leave Wembley with gold?”, which might be a bit unsettling for some… ***¼

A rather hurried fade-to-black edit meant we didn’t get to see Pete Dunne calling out Ilja Dragunov – and the scuffle that only got used on the trailer for their Wembley match. Odd.

PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Killer Kelly vs. Jinny (c)
Having gotten the win over Alpha Female in a three-way yesterday that also involved Jinny, Kelly’d been given a title shot.

From the opening lock-up, Kelly just about gets Jinny into the corner, but the champion’s right back as Kelly’s taken down for an armbar, which is escaped… only for Jinny to come back with a headlock takedown as the pair kept it on the mat. A leg grapevine with some hair-pulling forces Jinny to break the hold, which led to Kelly scoring with a waistlock takedown as she began to find her groove in the match. There’s a pump kick that takes Jinny outside, and of course Kelly obliges… but the Cristiano PK off the apron is caught and turned into a leg sweep, as the pair brawl in front of the Shotgun ring apron. Yep… they didn’t pack PROGRESS aprons or turnbuckles for the European jaunt either.

That crowd brawling culminated with Jinny whipping Kelly into the seats, before the favour’s returned… and although Jinny vaulted over the first row, she just sends herself several rows deeper. Back in the ring, Kelly’s back with forearms, before she’s sent into the turnbuckles with a Japanese armdrag as Jinny found a second wind, pulling Kelly into a seated surfboard with some kicks to the head as Kelly fought to free an arm and grab the ropes.

Jinny tries to suplex Kelly into the buckles, but it’s reversed as Kelly hits the move… then the Shibata-ish dropkick for a near-fall. A German suplex threatens Jinny, but she wheelbarrows out and into a cover for a two-count, before Kelly finally gets the German suplex off, and rolls three of them together for a near-fall. From there, Kelly took Jinny into the corner for a hip attack – a la Toni Storm – but that misses, allowing Kelly to hit a ripcord Koppo kick for the win. Hey, it’s nice to see Jinny win with something other than a Rainmaker – and it puts another string to her bow. A solid match, and one that Kelly enjoyed a decent spell of control in, which should put her in good stead for, erm, “other” title shots. ***

Thunderbastard Tag Team Series: The 198 (Flash Morgan Webster & Wild Boar) vs. Calamari Thatch Kings (Chris Brookes & Timothy Thatcher)
Good lord, they dug up the old Wild Boar entrance video from his ENDVR days! Meanwhile, Chris Brookes was back tagging with Timothy Thatcher, and had found a RINGKAMPF scarf… which led to the appearance of the subtlety hammer on commentary.

Brookes starts by taking down Webster, who comes back with some armdrags before Brookes walked away from the Rude Boy moonsault press. Wild Boar tags in next and quickly spots the height distance as he headbutts Brookes’ chest… so Brookes tags in a man with a similar number of teeth as Boar in Thatcher. Forearms start those two off, as they progress to shoulder tackles… and back to more forearms as the pair just leathered each other.

Boar manages to haul up Thatcher for a Fireman’s carry throw, then a back senton, before Flash tagged in… and found himself right in Thatcher’s firing line. Brookes and Thatcher combine to keep Flash down for a near-fall… but the momentum swings as Flash hits an elbow drop on Brookes as things threatened to go a little eggy. A Special Brew Flip from Flash is good for a near-fall as Brookes remained isolated, as commentary hinted that Brookes had no choice but to tag with Thatcher for the remainder of the Thunderbastard. That’s harsh! In the meantime, Brookes remained rather isolated until he caught Webster with a flying back senton and brought Thatcher back into play against Boar.

The RINGKAMPF belly-to-belly sees both halves of the 198 taken down, before Boar’s caught in a Gojira clutch. A rope break just led to a butterfly suplex attempt, but Boar escapes and… gets another Gojira. Brookes comes in and nails Thatcher by mistake, and then gets caught in a 198 double-team move as he got wheelbarrowed into a powerbomb by Boar, a move they called “Enforced Happiness”. Moving on…

Brookes sets up for a chain of Dragon Screws, which left Webster isolated as Thatcher grabbed another Gojira clutch from the apron. A slingshot cutter’s next as Thatcher tags in to be Lykos… but instead it’s just a slap to the face for Flash for a near-fall. There’s a Fujiwara armbar from Thatcher next, but Boar eventually breaks it up with a pop-up powerbomb as Brookes was used as a human weapon, which looked to have lacerated Thatcher just above the eye. We continued regardless as Brookes and Webster trade chops, before a hand’s up headbutt just led to Flash feeding his head for a brainbuster. An assisted neckbreaker from Brookes backfires as Flash thought he’d countered into a Strangler, but Brookes escaped… into the wrong corner and would have lost to the Trapper Keeper, only for Thatcher to dive onto the pile while being held in a Strangler.

Thatcher and Boar exchange strikes once more, which leads to a T-bone suplex on Boar… who lost a tooth somewhere in here. An enziguiri from Thatcher and a Saito suplex turns it around, but Webster’s back with a Strangler, which Thatcher tries to break… and does so by lifting Flash out of the ring, dumping him onto Brookes below, before a low blow and a roll-up from Boar gets the win. That was an utterly flat finish, not least on commentary – the 198 had hardly worked heel (or at least, been antagonists) before the low blow, so the crowd were taken out of it. The win means the 198 complete their Thunderbastard series unbeaten… so they enter the eponymous match last at Wembley. ***¼

PROGRESS World Championship: Zack Gibson vs. WALTER (c)
Gibson’s first title shot in almost two years – when he was Mark Haskins’ first challenger – and it’s going to be a rather uphill battle for the Scouser. Especially when Timothy Thatcher came down to lend moral support, throwing on some RINGKAMPF shorts after having wiped the blood away from his forehead.

Yeah, Zack gets a promo, if only to show Drake how it’s meant to be done.

We start with a tie-up as WALTER showed his dominance early, taking Gibson into the corner before sending him flying with a headlock takedown. It’s all WALTER in the opening moments too, as commentary ruminates over a “what if” Gibson won… well, it’d shake up a card that’d barely settled for Wembley. Gibson has to slip out of a RINGKAMPF German after having gotten to the ropes from a Gojira clutch, but he’s quickly met with a big boot from WALTER as commentary drops Ilja Dragunov’s name for reasons that made more sense before the edit.

Crossface punches are next as Gibson’s trapped in the ropes, but there’s distractions as WALTER’s taken outside and thrown into the seats as the challenger took over. Drake tries to get involved by grabbing WALTER’s ankle – Thatcher gives chase, and that other distraction allowed Gibson to hit WALTER with a Ticket to Ride that the cameras just about caught. The shenanigans continue as Gibson gets hold of the title belt and threatens a belt shot. Thatcher comes in… Gibson tosses the belt to him and plays dead. Why? This isn’t old school TNA where titles change on DQs… the referee falls for it and it lead to Thatcher getting thrown out (rather than a DQ, just because), and while the referee escorts Thatcher out, there’s actual interference as the tide changes. Gibson works the arm with a Key lock, then with a stomp to the elbow, before WALTER’s forced to fight out of an attempted Irish whip.

Zack tries for a Ticket to Ride again, but he’s caught… so he goes back to the Key lock, only for WALTER to get free. Gibson actually looked somewhat in control here, as the match descended into a strike exchange. A back suplex barely affects WALTER, who boots then clotheslines Zack as both men fall… and get back up as Gibson has to fight out of a powerbomb, before he’s caught in the Gojira. Drake’s up on the apron to help… but he’s pulled into the ring as both of the former tag champions go flying. Serves him right. More interference almost led to Gibson winning via roll-up, but then WALTER uncorks one of those chops, which made the crowd wince, before a powerbomb gets a near-fall. A short clothesline’s next… and that’s all. A solid title defence, but I really could have done without all of the shenigans – Gibson on his own was making a dent, but as soon as Drake got involved, things went downhill. ***½

Post-show, WALTER cuts a promo and invites out his Wembley opponent to the ring. We end with a staredown, what amounted to a patronising headpat, and WALTER walking away from a handshake.

PROGRESS’ debut in the Turbinenhalle felt like a “proper” PROGRESS show, or at least, one that better fit into their 2018. A solid show, with not much breaking out into that upper echelon on the card. Come for the hot crowd, some decent Thunderbastard series matches, and try not to shake your head in fear that they’ve gotten WALTER’s run off to a shaky start – at least when it comes to title defences that haven’t needed run-ins.