PTNTL – short for “Potential” – is another brand of PROGRESS shows mostly featuring trainees. Or, as PROGRESS say, “like an open mic night, but with wrestling”. These aren’t usually posted online, but for their fourth show an exception was made, and it’s up for the world to see. And hear…
It’s a pretty loaded card for this level, featuring tag-team champion James Davis, plus other regulars from the main roster like Jinny, Pollyanna and Roy Johnson. There’s no commentary and just the single (slightly-zoomed in too much) camera here, but PTNTL shows were never designed to be made available to the masses. In the spirit of this being a trainee show, we’ll be not be giving any ratings for this card.
Eddie Dennis is the host today, since a) Glen Joseph had left the company (kayfabe), b) Jon Briley never speaks and c) Jim Smallman was on #labourwatch. Dennis acknowledges that this is the first match for some of the people on the card, and we’ve got a new referee too.
Spike Trivet vs. Chuck Mambo
Trivet seems to have the character of a University “toff” from Cambridge – wearing a blazer jacket and carrying a cane – not a million miles removed from another trainee, Hayden Yorke (who debuted at ENDVR 16)… perhaps they may be a future tag team? He insists on being called Spike “Triv-eh” (it’s French apparently), much in the same way Verne Gagne was “Garn-yah” as opposed to “Gag-Knee”. In response, Chuck insists that his surname is really “Mam-boo”.
Trivet throws a fit at the fans who clapped to start the match, and Mambo takes him into the corner, where Trivet shoves him away before leaning into the ropes for a break. The crowd really get on Trivet’s back, and he bites big time. He grabs a wristlock and takes Mambo down, before missing a kneedrop onto the arm, as Mambo rolls him up for a near-fall.
Trivet takes down Mambo with a back elbow, before he gets tripped up and used as a surfboard by Mambo. Double nipple twisters (seriously) follow, and an armdrag takes Trivet into the corner, as does a dropkick. Mambo leaps into the corner to avoid an Irish whip, then scores an armdrag which forces Trivet to roll out of the ring.
The crowd in Balham aren’t doing the “count ahead” gimmick, which is really nice, and the referee has to restart the count as Trivet rolls in at 8 to break it. Mambo leaps to the outside to chase Trivet, who rolls in, and misses an elbow drop attempt to a returning Mambo. Trivet does succeed in kicking the ropes into Mambo’s crotch, and then takes him down with a Flatliner-style armbreaker.
Trivet drops a knee onto Mambo’s arm, then stands on it to mock the surfboard pose, as a legdrop onto the arm gets the pan stand (look up what a trivet is…) a two-count. Mambo gets caught in an armbar that looked like the Shankly Gates, then shocked the ever-cocky Trivet with a roll-up for a two-count, and he went back to the armbar. Mambo rolled free and landed a back elbow from an armdrag, with a springboard missing… as Trivet again went for an armbar.
Mambo stood up and tried the Air Raid Crash, before Mambo rolled out for another two count. Trivet blocked a wheelbarrow and dropped him in a facebuster, before calling for the Coat of Arms – which seemed like a crossface/grounded abdominal stretch – only for Mambo to make the ropes. More trash talking got Mambo onto his feet, and he chopped the hell out of Trivet, before a tiltawhirl backbreaker sent both guys to the mat.
A superkick was caught by Trivet, who rolled through a hiptoss into the Coat of Arms, which Mambo rolled back into a near-fall. Trivet took a superkick from the kick-out, and then the leaping double-knee press as Mambo grabbed the win. For a debutant, Trivet looked pretty impressive, and with a bit of tweaking, could progress into something. Pun intended.
Jinny vs. Mischa East
By this point, Jinny doesn’t need any introduction… Mischa East has appeared on all of the previous PTNTL shows, and a couple of ENDVRs too.
Jinny calls out Mischa for “dressing like a tramp” the last few times they’ve met, and rocks her with a kick to the head. A snapmare then a kick follows, before misses a second kick to head. Some slaps see Jinny get taken to the corner, where she’s squashed by an avalanche and a bunch of shoulder charges.
East lands a Fisherman’s (Fisherwoman’s?) suplex for a near-fall, but Jinny gets up and takes East into the corner with slaps and stomps. East counters out and sets up Jinny in a torture rack, but Jinny slips out and gives her a Japanese armdrag into the turnbuckles. That eventually gets a near-fall, and Jinny stays on top of her with a couple of stomps, before a bunch of forearms see Mischa try to make a comeback.
East whips Jinny into the turnbuckles, and follows up with some shoulder charges before drilling Jinny with a powerbomb. A second one was countered mid-move into a facebuster for a near-fall on Jinny, and we’re back to stomps in the corner. Jinny whips East into the other corner, and runs in with a leaping knee to the head, before a snapmare rolls her out and Jinny literally walks over her, finishing with a kick to the head for a two-count.
The two women drop to their knees and trade some forearms and headbutts, but East ducks a clothesline and lands a release German suplex on Jinny. East follows with a uranage backbreaker, but no pin, as she goes up top and is caught by Jinny… a dropkick traps East in the ropes, and the Facelift (X-Factor out of the corner) is enough for the win. A pretty short match, during which it felt like they weren’t working with any urgency, but perfectly acceptable.
Amir Jordan & Shen Woo vs. James Best & Roy Johnson
Shen Woo has been in and out of PROGRESS, having worked a couple of ENDVR shows and was actually a part of the last Natural PROGRESSion Series. This is Jordan’s second match for PROGRESS, having worked the last PTNTL event in late 2015.
James Best made his debut in that battle royal at ENDVR16, and Roy Johnson, aka Bodyguy (yeah) needs no introduction to regular PROGRESS fans.
Jordan starts by attacking Johnson from behind, but from the headlock he gets shoved into the ropes, before bouncing off the Bodyguy. A second shoulder tackle has the same effect, and Johnson will not be moved… but Jordan will, as he takes a shoulder tackle and a hiptoss into the corner.
Shen Woo tags himself in, and has the same luck with the shoulder tackles. A superkick from Woo drops Johnson to a knee, and the heel team works over Johnson, before he busts through a double clothesline and drops the pair of them with a clothesline of his own.
We get a tag and see the end result of James Best leaping off of Johnson’s shoulders with a double clothesline too, knocking down both Jordan and Woo. Best is attacked by Woo on the outside, before he’s thrown back into the path of Jordan, who kicks and stomps away at the youngster.
Best kicks out of a backdrop attempt and lands a dropkick, before he tries to crawl towards Johnson… but Woo yanks him off the apron and keeps Best alone in the ring. Some headscissors from Jordan keep Best down, with Jordan adding some extra push-ups to the headscissors for extra effect. Best works free and grabs a headlock, but that’s broken and Jordan makes another tag to Woo.
The heels continue to double team Best as the referee gets tied up with remonstrating Johnson. Woo goes for a powerbomb, but Best ‘ranas out of it, then lands an enziguiri before finally making the tag to Johnson, who clears house on Jordan and Woo. A lariat in the corner squashes Woo, who gets sent into the corner with Jordan, and both men take an avalanche splash.
Johnson drops Jordan with a back suplex, then tags Best back in for a slingshot senton off the top rope, but Woo breaks up the cover at one. Woo rakes Johnson’s eyes as he tried to make the save, and Best gets distracted by the action as Woo and Johnson go to the floor. That leaves Jordan free to low blow Best and roll him up for the win. Eh, a cheap finish which I’m never crazy about, but the Woo/Jordan team did very little for me. James Best looked good playing the babyface in peril, but he’s clearly still developing. Next stop: a tan! If only to not throw out any white balance!
Bea Priestley vs. Pollyanna
Last time she was in PROGRESS, Priestley lost a squash to Laura Di Matteo (then known as Elizabeth). This time she’s got new music (the same track WCPW has used for her), and she’s ditched the Hello Kitty ring gear. Oh, and she’s not afraid to play off the fact that she’s dating Will Ospreay for the benefit of getting heel heat.
By the way, it’s not half scary when Bea Priestley’s ring jacket fits on Eddie Dennis…
They start with a lock-up, and Pollyanna takes down Priestley with a headlock, before being sent into the ropes. Priestley doesn’t break cleanly, and takes down Pollyanna with a shoulder block, before running into a series of Japanese armdrags. Pollyanna chops Priestley in the corner, before Priestley reverses an Irish whip, which ends with Pollyanna taking an axe kick in the ropes, then a draping DDT for a near-fall.
Priestley windmills punches at the back of Pollyanna, before she flips the bird at some fans. A camel clutch keeps Pollyanna down, and Priestley launches into her gimmick of forcing her opponent to eat her used chewing gum. Pollyanna replies with a slap, then a series of clotheslines, before delivering a back elbow out of the corner.
Priestley misses a kick to the head, and is floored with a discus lariat for a near-fall. Pollyana tries to go for the Pollinator, but Priestley backdrops over into a pinning combination. Priestley gets caught in the top rope with a kick, and takes some double knees in the corner, then the Pollinator for just a two-count.
Pollyanna went for the Air Raid Crash, but Priestley worked free and dropped her with a back suplex, then a Yakuza kick in the corner, and a running knee strike to the seated Pollyanna (which didn’t look that good from the fixed camera, it has to be said). A second knee strike connected, and Priestley made the cover for another two-count.
Priestley licked Pollyanna’s face en route to a reverse DDT, but Pollyanna rolled her through for a near-fall, before a full nelson slam dropped Pollyanna. Priestley went for almost a Dragon sleeper, but got taken to the corner and was draped across the middle buckle as a set up for a double stomp off the top rope. From there, Pollyanna picked up Priestley for the belly-to-back piledriver, and that was it. A really good match – you know what you’re getting with Pollyanna, and Priestley has improved leaps and bounds from when she last appeared for PROGRESS. It also helped that her match here wasn’t too long either!
Matt Walker vs. Dillon D’Angelo
D’Angelo made his debut at the last ENDVR show, losing to Hayden Yorke and then appearing in the battle royal later on. This is “Short Fuse” Walker’s second match for the group, having worked PTNTL last November…
From Walker’s opening headlock, D’Angelo works into a wristlock, then an armwringer, as they exchange holds back and forth. D’Angelo flips free, and downs Walker with a low dropkick, before working back to the armbar. After ducking a clothesline, D’Angelo tried for a handspring, but Walker dropkicked him to block the handspring, then stamps away on the downed D’Angelo. Someone’s a big fan of Will Ospreay, it seems!
A bodyslam gets Walker a two-count, as he whips D’Angelo into the ropes and gets a two-count from a back elbow. D’Angelo’s sent into the corner, before a brief comeback ends with Walker stepping back from a Rocker Dropper attempt, watching D’Angelo crash to the mat.
Walker lands a diving uppercut to D’Angelo’s back for a near-fall, then goes to a rear chinlock, and yanks D’Angelo to the mat after he stood up out of it. A pendulum backbreaker sees Walker hold the move into a submission attempt, before getting a near-fall. D’Angelo slaps back, but takes a swinging suplex for a near-fall, before he works out of a swinging side slam, and pulls off an O’Connor roll into a kick to the head.
D’Angelo fires back with some forearms, then another kick to the head, then a superkick, only for Walker to get caught in the ropes. D’Angelo then climbs the ropes, but Walker pops up and elbows him onto the turnbuckles. Dillon then leaps from the middle rope to the top rope, but his crossbody’s caught by Walker, who swings D’Angelo around into a Flatliner for the win. This was a pretty good match, and having seen D’Angelo in action before, he’s certainly changed up his arsenal of moves. Whether that was genuinely the open mic night aspect of PTNTL or whether it was trying to impress someone remains to be seen!
You know, on shows without commentary (and some of those with commentary), I’m used to hearing fans shout out things or getting heard… but it’s a different thing when someone’s giving a quasi-running commentary. (“God bless him… if he does a handspring, I’ll mark so much”… “he’s going to do all of those moves”). That was a nice surprise, but whomever it was does seem to have a career in commentary waiting for them!
Chakara vs. Laura Di Matteo
This was Chakara’s PROGRESS debut, and she started by offering a handshake… only to boot Laura to the mat. An Irish whip into the corner sees Laura rebound back with a couple of armdrags, then a dropkick, before a bodyscissor roll-up gets her a near-fall.
Di Matteo whips Chakara into the ropes, but she holds on and takes down Laura with a neckbreaker for a two-count. A suplex gets Chakara just a one-count, whilst a second gets her a two-count. Laura reversed a third suplex into a small package for a near-fall, but Chakara stays on top with some knee strikes whilst keeping Laura in a cravat.
Laura leaps over Chakara and gets a roll-up for a near-fall, before Chakara picks her up for a tiltawhirl slam for another two-count. Chakara mocks the crowd’s “come on Laura” pleas, and that fires up Di Matteo into unloading with some forearms, only to get slapped back. Di Matteo lands a series of leaping clotheslines, then some headscissors to send Chakara into the corner, where she’s monkey flipped out.
Di Matteo followed up with a tornado DDT out of the corner for a two-count, before Chakara held onto the ropes to avoid a back cracker. Even with her feet on the ropes, Chakara could only get a two-count, before Di Matteo rolled out of a Gory bomb and into a sunset flip for a near-fall herself. After a satellite headscissors, Di Matteo just about caught the back cracker for the win. Another solid match, and Di Matteo’s showing her worth since breaking free from the Elizabeth act, whilst Chakara looked pretty good for her first match under the company banner.
AJ Benjamin & Darrell Allen vs. Alex Cupid & James Davis
We’ve seemingly got a teacher/pupil tag match here, with “the Caramel God” AJ Benjamin in his third PROGRESS match, and Alex Cupid in just his second. God, I’m starting to sound like early PROGRESS here, listing guys’ records! Darrell Allen’s the head trainer at the ProJo, and I’m pretty sure James Davis doesn’t need an introduction!
Benjamin starts off against James Davis, and Benjamin immediately shouts down the few fans who try to chant his initials. Davis takes AJ into the corner, and slaps him silly, before an Irish whip into the corner leads to AJ ducking under Davis and eventually getting dropped with a massive forearm strike.
Cupid tags in and drops AJ with an inverted atomic drop, before getting a near-fall from Davis’ clothesline. Benjamin tags out to Allen… who then faces up against James Davis, who drops him with a bodyslam and a back senton. Some rope running leads to a leapfrog and a dropkick from Cupid, sending Allen into the corner, before Cupid drops Allen with a springboard back elbow.
Cupid allows himself to get distracted by AJ, as Allen slaps him down. In comes AJ, who takes Cupid to the corner for some more forearms, then a leaping clothesline into the corner for a near-fall. Allen tags back in and runs with a headbutt into the ribs of Cupid, then lands a suplex before knocking Davis off the apron.
Benjamin and Allen trade more quick tags to cut off Cupid, with Allen again knocking Davis off the apron, to set up for some cheap double-teaming in the heel’s corner. Cupid fires back with a chop, but gets dropkicked as Allen grabs a near-fall. AJ returns and takes a knee from Cupid, then an enziguiri as he looked to tag out to Davis, but Allen snuck around the ring and pulled Davis to the floor as before the heels bumrushed Cupid once more.
Cupid caught Allen as he posed and dropped him with a Blue Thunder Bomb, and finally made the tag out to Davis. Benjamin cuts him off with a high boot in the corner, but an Exploder suplex quickly gets the advantage back to the champion. Allen’s crossbody off the top quickly thereafter gets caught and turned into a Finlay roll as Davis was on fire (heel team were terrified? Na na na na na na na na na na na na?)
Benjamin slipped out of a suplex and dropped Davis with a Slingblade, but fell to a missile dropkick from Cupid. Allen countered with the Razzle Dazzle roundhouse kick to Cupid, but he missed it on Davis, who landed a pop-up powerbomb to the head trainer. Davis then went for a pop-up superkick with Cupid, but Benjamin pulled him out of the ring, allowing Allen to throw Davis out of the ring.
Benjamin rolls Cupid back into the ring, allowing Allen to hit a pop-up suplex (imagine Gallows & Anderson’s “Magic Killer”, but with a push up into a suplex from there instead of a spin-out) for the win. This was a basic, but really well executed tag match – I liked the unannounced concept of “trainer and trainee” pairing up, as it added some steady pairs of hands to the match.
Earl Black Jr. vs. Damon Moser
For someone derided as “default”, Earl Black Jr’s got some catchy music as a singles guy. Eddie Dennis’ introductions for these guys includes some very niche titles, to the point where Black left the ring… until he rushed the ring for the line “(Moser) is the son Earl Black Senior never had”.
They started with a lock-up, then a release, before Moser gets taken to the corner by Black for a clean break. Moser reversed a waistlock into a front face lock, but Black gets a wristlock, and holds onto it despite Moser’s efforts to roll free.
Moser works free and dropkicks Black – whose neck caught the bottom rope, but thankfully not in an Enzo Amore way – before Black countered a clothesline out of the ring into a backslide. They roll back and forth for some near-falls, before Moser slaps Black and takes him down, with a kneedrop to the face helping him get a two-count. A running forearm into the corner follows, as does a big boot from Moser, who leaps into a bearhug from Black, which he switched into an overhead belly to belly suplex.
Black keeps on top of Moser with some knees to the ribs and crossface punches. Moser fights out of a front facelock, and takes down Black with a swinging neckbreaker, only for Black to regain the advantage and choke away at Moser in the corner. The referee admonishes Black for keeping it in the corner, and takes down Moser with a back elbow for barely a two-count.
A gutwrench suplex throws Moser across the ring, before Black kicked at Moser’s shin to keep him down. More kicks in the corner followed, and Moser got choked again, and somehow ended up with a busted nose in all of this. So Black unloads with some more forearms, just because!
Moser begs for more shots and boots Black into the ropes, then flies across with a dropkick that sends Black into the corner. We saw an attempted Coast to Coast dropkick, but Black popped up and took down Moser with a belly to belly superplex instead, then went for some rolling German suplexes and ended with a Northern Lights suplex. Just like a Yorkshire Brock Lesnar!
Black went for a suplex, but Moser worked out and turned it into a crucifix/Samoan drop. Black got to his feet first and drilled Moser with a brainbuster, before taking a superkick. An avalanche clothesline in the corner followed, but Moser took an Irish whip chest-first into the opposite corner and rolled out of the ring.
Moser just about beat the ten-count back in, and started a fightback with some jabs to Black, but ended up taking some forearms. After a striking exchange, Moser lifted up Black in a suplex, then dropped him neck first over the knee, before landing another dropkick into the corner. Then we got the out-of-range Coast to Coast dropkick, as Moser pulled down the knee pads for the knee trembler to pick up the win. A fine match, with some spots you could see were being tried out for the first time. This wouldn’t have looked out of place on a higher level, to be frank.
For “just a trainee show”, this was easy to watch and really refreshing too. Absolutely zero in the way of angles, but two hours of good, solid wrestling. Judging by the number and quality of guys the ProJo’s churning out, it’s safe to say that the next generation of British wrestling is in good hands!