Luke Jacobs cashes in his shot at Cara Noir’s PROGRESS title on the latest chapter.

Quick Results
Charles Crowley submitted LK Mezinger in 8:32 (**½)
Chris Ridgeway pinned Big Guns Joe in 9:58 (**¾)
Warren Banks pinned Kid Lykos in 12:51 (**¾)
Ethan Allen submitted Elijah in 12:03 (***)
Revelations of Divine Love – First Round: Alexxis Falcon pinned Lizzy Evo in 10:42 (***)
Charlie Sterling submitted Danny Black in 10:42 (***)
Revelations of Divine Love – First Round: Mercedez Blaze pinned Raven Creed in 10:46 (**¾)
Kid Lykos & Kid Lykos II pinned Dan Moloney & Man Like Dereiss in 11:43 (***¼)
Cara Noir pinned Luke Jacobs in 18:59 to retain the PROGRESS World Championship (***½)

After a week off, PROGRESS returned… and we’ve ditched most of the pleasantries as Roy Johnson pitches to the first match. Olie Spring and Hustle Malone are on commentary.

Charles Crowley vs. LK Mezinger
Crowley’d taped his mouth up because “he’d talked the talk.” It was Crowley’s singles debut, and he’s up against a Mezinger who’s yet to win around these parts…

Crowley’s prancing around had him in trouble from the off as Mezinger caught him with a backslide. Crowley keeps having to check his tape like a bad false moustache, eventually throwing it away as Mezinger proceeded to sting him with a chop. A dropkick takes Crowley to the outside, where he’s met with a tope before a Go 2 Sleepy Hollow kick had Crowley on the ropes. Except Mezinger’s shoulder looked to be bothering him, so he can’t follow up… Crowley targets it, dropping it across the rope for a two-count. A back senton followed, almost getting the win, before it’s back to the arm… until a diving kick from Mezinger bought him time. LK followed with a cannonball, but Crowley’s up at two, only to take a Side Effect for another near-fall.

Mezinger hurt his arm swinging for a clothesline, which allowed Crowley to hit a twister suplex… only for a Dragon suplex and a big boot from LK to keep the see-saw going. LK tries for Go 2 Sleepy Hollow again, but instead hits a Finlay roll before he missed on a delayed moonsault. That opens things up for the Weasel’s Clutch from Crowley, and the addition of a mandible claw forces Mezinger to tap out. A good finisher, but I’m going to need to see more of the original Mankind-ish split personalities play out as Crowley almost losing to the winless Mezinger before the shoulder injury probably shouldn’t be my takeaway. **½

Warren Banks and Lykos Gym have some pre-taped comments ahead of their matches tonight…

Chris Ridgeway vs. Big Guns Joe
Ethan Allen’s out with Ridgeway for this, while Joe was having his first singles match here since beating Kid Lykos II back in August.

Ridgeway bullied Joe in the early going – looking for his third win over him (previously beating Joe at Southside and on the Independence show)… but Joe seemed to power back on shoulder tackle attempts, following up with a slam and a back suplex, before his attempt to work on Ridgeway’s arm ended in the ropes. A Kitchen sink knee and kick to the back turn it back around, before Ridgeway grounded Joe in a hammerlock’d Octopus hold, throwing some elbows ahead of a crossface. That’s too close to the ropes, so we get a break – and a stomp – before Joe fought back with forearms. Another slam and a reversed suplex kept Joe ahead, while a Boston crab was resisted as Ridgeway ended up in a fireman’s carry flapjack instead.

The Vader Bomb Elbow from Joe nearly wins it, as did a pop-up powerbomb, as Joe continued to press… but a headbutt dropped Joe as a PK nearly stopped this one in a hurry. Palm strikes take Joe down again, as did a forearm to the gut, while an axe kick and a brainbuster led to another PK as Ridgeway looked to be inviting a stoppage. Instead, another punt kick led to the win as commentary bemoaned how Ridgeway “took things too far” in what was effectively a glorified squash. **¾

Jody Fleisch vs. Warren Banks
Fleisch picked up a win last time out, against Man Like Dereiss, while Banks hasn’t lost a singles match since the Natural PROGRESSion Series final back in February. Christ, these empty arena shows have been going on a while, eh?

Banks wanted a Test of Strength early on, but gets taken down as Fleisch looked to grab a hold, eventually settling on a side headlock. Banks just lifts him, throwing him over the top to dump him on the floor, before attacking Fleisch as he was getting back into the ring. Admittedly, holding the ropes in order to do so was a dick move… An Irish whip bounces Fleisch into the corner, while a diving uppercut took Jody down. Stomps weakened Fleisch for a two-count as Banks looked to control the pace, grounding Fleisch with a cobra clutch, but when Jody got going, he was able to hit a springboard ‘rana that Banks nearly crumbled on.

Jody tries to follow with a dive, but had to kick Banks aside before a springboard body press into the entrance way landed. Back inside though, it’s the same story as Banks booted down Fleisch, before some rapid-fire elbow drops led to a two-count. Banks continues to dominate with an uppercut amid the sea of silence, before Fleisch Matrix’s away from a clothesline and hit an up-kick enziguiri. A reverse ‘rana dropped Banks briefly as we go to some back-and-forth, ending with a lariat that spun Jody to the mat, only to get caught with a suplex seconds later. Fleisch’s shooting star press was a little short, but Banks rolled away before spearing the heck out of him… but he can’t make the cover as the pair instead trade forearms. Banks’ knee strike takes Fleisch into the corner, where another one followed, as a Michinoku Driver then drew another near-fall for Banks.

Banks goes for another spear, but charges into the buckles as a roll-up nearly breaks his winning run… but instead Banks kicks out, then got taken down with a ‘rana out of the corner. Out of nowhere, the Lykii run out, with Kid Lykos hitting Fleisch with a baking tray, allowing Banks to get the win with a roll-up. I guess Jody’ll need some help, eh? **¾

Elijah vs. Ethan Allen
Last time out, Allen lost that number one contenders’ match to his tag partner Luke Jacobs – and previously beat Elijah in a tag outing…

Within seconds of the bell, it’s more important to show Charles Crowley sitting down apparently. Yes, I’m grumpy. In the ring, Allen takes control, slamming Elijah for an early two-count, but Elijah’s attempt to respond with a wristlock only saw him taken down as the pair reached a stand-off. Elijah tries to catch out Allen with a stomp that turned into a folding press, but Allen regains control with an armbar as we’re all meant to be focusing on Crowley. Leaping kicks take Elijah to the outside, where he gets a brief pep talk from Crowley. Elijah pulls down Allen as he tried to drag him back into the ring, but the Young Gun’s quickly back in with a double underhook… only for Elijah to counter out with a German suplex.

A forearm to the back of the head’s good for a two-count, before Allen bounces into the turnbuckles sorta like Bret Hart with a leap for another two-count. Elijah sure loves those turnbuckles, but he goes to the well once too often as a search for an Electric Chair drop ended with Allen clotheslining him down. Allen keeps going with a clothesline to blast through Elijah, who tried to return fire, only to get caught with an Allen Slam for a two-count. Elijah’s back with an enziguiri and a cravat’d neckbreaker, before the Graveyard Smash powerbomb nearly ended things. A back body drop breaks up a Dangerbuster as Allen fought back, hitting an Orton-ish backbreaker to take Elijah outside, where Crowley took a dive for his charge.

Capitalising on the distraction, Elijah posts Allen, then rolled him back in for an Electric Chair drop into the buckles. A German suplex followed, but Allen’s back with a crossface… and that’s the out-of-nowhere submission to leave Charles Crowley dejected. I know the feeling. ***

Post-match, Crowley gets the mic and manically tells us that he knew this would happen. Racing through lines, Crowley tells us he’s booked a rematch on the next show, and apparently it’ll be different. I mean, it worked for Elijah against Gene Munny, so why not again?

They recap the Revelations of Divine Love draw with a Wild West-themed vignette. This time around, they’re spreading the tournament over multiple shows, rather than it being a one-night tournament… they replay the offence of Gisele Shaw at the tournament even existing, and the brawl at the end.

Revelations of Divine Love First Round: Alexxis Falcon vs. Lizzy Evo
It’s a PROGRESS debut for Lizzy Evo, as I have a feeling the nickname of “Liver Bird” was written down, rather than dictated. Much like the full name of the tournament, it seemed. These two have form, having a very recent feud in TNT in Liverpool, and that seemed to bubble over from the start.

We start with headlocks and headscissors as Evo and Falcon looked for the upper hand, but it’s a bulldog from Falcon that created the first advantage… even if it was a brief one. Evo quickly strikes back with elbows in the corner, before Falcon hit back with a tornado suplex for just a one-count. A dropdown from Evo trips up Falcon ahead of a neckbreaker, with boots taking Falcon down for a two-count, before Evo tried to throw her to the outside. Alexxis blocks it and kicks back, but more kicks sink Falcon after she’d tried for a splits kick. Evo’s missile dropkick keeps her ahead, but the frustration’s building at Falcon’s resilience, before a German suplex took Falcon back down.

Falcon responds with clothesline and dropkicks out of the corner, before she took Evo into the ropes for a hanging neckbreaker. It’s good for a two-count, as the Sleeping Beauty splits kick followed for another two-count. In response, Evo’s German suplex bridges for a near-fall as she’s incredulous at the ref’s count… Evo’s clothesline looked to put her ahead, but Falcon returns with a backpack stunner, before the Falcon’s Fury spiked Evo on her head for the win. For me, the biggest disappointment was the lack of any kind of character work for Evo – especially considering how much buzz she’s gotten for her promos. A real open goal missed here. ***

Falcon faces Mercedez Blaze or Raven Creed in the semis…

Charlie Sterling vs. Danny Black
A “late addition” to the card as one half of the tag team champions provides Danny Black’s latest proving ground.

Black’s taken to the corner early on, then thrown down as Sterling controlled the early going. Black tries his luck with a crucifix pin, but Sterling’s up at one before he ragdolled Danny back to the mat. Armdrags from Black puts him ahead, as did a low dropkick and a standing moonsault, but Sterling stops him in his tracks with a backbreaker onto the turnbuckles. A slam on the floor, then another backbreaker wore down Black, as Sterling began to target the newcomer’s ribs. There’s a back suplex too, as Sterling tried to wear down Black with pinning attempts, then with shots to the back, before an avalanche back suples was fought off… with Black knocking Sterling down, only to counter the back suplex in mid-air.

An enziguiri keeps Sterling rocked, before Black fought out of a Cloverleaf, kicking away on Sterling ahead of a Koppo kick. Black adds a Meteora, then a Ranhei for a near-fall, but nobody’s expecting Black to beat a tag team champion, even if he manages to counter a Blue Thunder bomb into a ‘rana. Another ‘rana’s blocked, but Sterling’s rolled through for a near-fall before a cutter landed. Sterling tries to fight back, catching another Meteor and turning it into an over-the-knee powerbomb, before a gutwrench backbreaker and the avalanche back suplex led to the Cloverleaf for the stoppage. A decent enough match, but the story of underdog Danny Black would be connecting so much better in front of a crowd (not to feel more organic), as on paper it just feels like he’s taking loss after loss after loss with little end in sight. ***

Revelations of Divine Love First Round: Mercedez Blaze vs. Raven Creed
Creed beat Taonga last time out in a warm-up, and Taonga’s out at ringside here for this too…

Creed controls the pace early, tripping Blaze before she worked over her elbow with a stomp, before a snap suplex landed for barely a one-count. A low bridge takes Creed to the outside, where of course Taonga distracts… but Blaze’s cheapshot’s stopped as she’s eventually met with a forearm. Blaze hits back as she threw Raven into the side of the ring, before boot chokes back inside kept Blaze ahead. A drop down trips up Creed ahead of a curb stomp, before some double knees continued to weaken down the Corkconian, only for Creed to hit back with a big headbutt.

An Irish whip took Creed into the corner, but she just charges Blaze back across the ring as a Busaiku knee would have gotten the win, but Creed rolled Blaze too much into the ropes as we get a break. Creed looks for the finish with a death valley driver, but Taonga distracts the referee… and accidentally cost Blaze a chance to win as she’d reversed into a sunset flip. A Blue Thunder Bomb from Creed nearly wins it as Blaze threw a tantrum at Taonga… but back inside, Blaze takes Creed into the corner, following with a shotgun dropkick and a butterfly suplex into the buckles. Somehow, Creed kicks out, then mounted another comeback as she went for a deadlift German suplex… breaking Blaze’s grip on the ropes in order to do so.

Blaze looks to be in trouble, but Taonga distracts Creed on the top rope again… this time it works as Blaze caught Creed with the Tower of Blaze… and that’s her in the semis against Alexxis Falcon again. Decent enough, but I’m beyond bored with the endless interference, even if they did threaten to evolve the story here as Blaze somehow looked to be upset with Taonga. **¾

Lykos Gym (Kid Lykos & Kid Lykos II) vs. The 0121 (Dan Moloney & Man Like Dereiss)
We’ve aggro before the bell, as the 0121 had only their second ever match in PROGRESS as a team.

Dereiss charges through Lykos II early on, before Dan Moloney took over, working over Lykos II’s arm. Number two flips free and tags in the original, who’s taken down with a headlock, before Lykoss used foul means to get free. Moloney blocks a suplex, then press slammed Lykos into the corner as the former tag champs were having issues, with a Moloney dropkick nearly ending this one in a hurry. Lykos begs off, kissing Moloney’s boot before he went to jack of Moloney’s taped up knee. It worked, eventually, as Lykos II then came in to wear on Moloney with a side headlock. The Lykii keep Moloney cornered as they riled up Dereiss, while a phantom tag behind the ref’s back swapped wolves as they worked on Moloney’s bad wheel.

Moloney manages to power out of another side headlock, clotheslining Lykos before tagging out to Dereiss… Lykos II’s in too, but he’s met with a back elbow before Dereiss propelled the Lykii into each other. A cross-chop from Lykos I buys time, but Dereiss is still running wild ahead of a 619 to Lykos II’s gut, then a Meteora for a near-fall. Lykos II’s caught by Dereiss, who passed him to Moloney as the pair played pass the parcel into a powerslam for another two-count, as the 0121 looked in good form. Eventually Lykos II hit back with a satellite DDT, before Lykos tagged in to spark some rapid-fire double-teams, ending with a Total Elimination as Moloney broke up the pin with a death valley driver. Another low bridge takes care of Dereiss, but Moloney’s blind-tagged in as he looked to wear down Lykos with chops… a stomp to the bad knee nearly puts paid to Dan, before a Casanova knee to the head connected.

Lykos fails on a brainbuster as he’s speared for a near-fall, before Warren Banks headed out to distract… allowing Lykos to roll-up Moloney for a near-fall. A Drilla prompts banks to pop up onto the apron, but Jody Fleisch makes the save as Lykos punted Moloney below the belt, and that’s enough for Lykos to snatch the pin with a roll-up. This was a nice, pared back version of the usual insane tag match we get, but it’s clear from the happenings that we’ll be getting the Lykii & Banks vs. Dan, Dereiss and Jody in the not-too-distant future. ***¼

Sure enough, post-match, Moloney took the mic and issued the challenge…

PROGRESS World Championship: Luke Jacobs vs. Cara Noir (c)
Jacobs earned this shot at the title by beating Ethan Allen last time out as we’re still lacking any kind of “obvious” long term destination feud for Cara Noir.

Jacobs took Cara down to the mat early on, as the challenger looked to grapple his way to the win… but Cara’s no slouch in that department as the feeling out process proved. Irish whips bounce Cara into the corner, one of them coming a la Bret Hart, as Jacobs tried to control the early going, methodically taking him apart with strikes as the “Black Swan” had trouble even getting to his feet. An attempted fight back’s quickly nullified with a slam, while a Biel throw chucks Cara from corner to corner. Cara pushes away a leg lock attempt, before he finally made an opening with some kicks, following in with an axe kick before Jacobs’ gutshot and a teardrop suplex put the champion back to square one.

Chops from Jacobs keep Cara in the corner, but the champion snaps back as he worked over Jacobs’ arm, repeatedly yanking it, dropping the knee on it, then screwing it with some arm whips before Jacobs managed to haul him to the outside. We’ve a dramatic shot as Cara popped back to his feet, so he could pull Jacobs out with him, but we end up with Luke lariating the ring post as that felt like the crucial mistake in the contest. Somehow, Jacobs responds with an apron chokeslam, but a nonchalant cover wasn’t ever going to get it done… so Jacobs keeps going with some right hands to the back of a covering-up Cara. A leg sweep drops Jacobs ahead of a thrust kick, but Jacobs replies with one of his own, before Cara ‘rana’d him into the ropes ahead of a snap German suplex.

Jacobs quickly popped back with a spinebuster for a near-fall, as he followed up with a Figure Four in the middle of the ring. Cara Noir slaps free, then rolled the hold over… only for Jacobs to reapply a leglock that ended in the ropes, while Chris Ridgeway seemed to shoo away Ethan Allen who was ringside with him. Ducking a lariat, Cara Noir lands a headbutt to Jacobs, then pulled him down into a Fujiwara armbar, before he floated over into another armbar as he tried to pop Luke’s shoulder out… but it’s broken in the ropes as we reset. Cara Noir pops up after being shoved away… and after dropkicking Jacobs to the outside, we’ve another dive into the entrance way. Slams follow on the floor as they tried to paint this as some sort of retribution for what Chris Ridgeway did in that tag match last time out… especially because Cara opted to stare down Ridgeway at ringside.

Problem was, Cara’s lack of focus nearly cost him as he rolled back inside into the path of a lariat, but Jacobs couldn’t finish off with a piledriver… he gets kicked and rolled up for a near-fall, before the pair teed off on each other with a series of forearms. Another spinebuster from Jacobs was countered into a sorta DDT, before a shotgun dropkick led to a package piledriver… which a back body drop counters. Another Jacobs lariat is headbutted away, as Cara looked for a Gotch piledriver… this time he rolled through the back body drop for a near-fall, before elbows from Jacobs and a Western lariat looked to get the win… but Cara’s up at two. In the end though, Cara countered a suplex by lifting him up into a tombstone… and that new addition to the arsenal was enough to get the win. A nice, keenly-fought contest as Luke Jacobs came closer to the win than the first time, but Cara Noir beats one of Ridgeway’s proteges with something new to keep that title reign trucking on. ***½

Cara Noir walks to the back as Chris Ridgeway and Ethan Allen took Jacobs to the back. PROGRESS returns with Chapter 124: Cakehorn! I appreciate the short-ish run time, but that focus is slipping again as we had nine matches shoe-horned into this card. If we’re nit-picking, I’m not thrilled at all that both of the new additions to the women’s division went out at the first round in the tournament, but the booking here is what it is. If there’s ever a product that needed to be back in front of crowds yesterday, it’s this… but is there any appetite for that? The effort’s absolutely there, but like the nights as winter draws in, this just feels cold.