This week on Random Reviews, we’re going to take a look at the few occasions where PROGRESS’ title traveled the world, cementing its place as a World title.
We’ve already reviewed the Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay match from WrestleCon in Dallas earlier in 2016, but since then there’s been two more defences of the title outside of PROGRESS. So let’s get cracking!
PROGRESS World Championship: Zack Gibson vs. Marty Scurll (c) (PWE From The Ashes – April 30, 2016)
This was held in an Italian promotion called Power Wrestling Entertainment (or PWE, for short); a group that uses a TNA-like six-sided ring, with red, white and green ropes, because… Italy. Outside of this match, the biggest name on the show was Joe Legend, best known for his run in TNA and that forgettable stint in WWE as “Just Joe”.
Sadly, the Gibson Scouse baiting didn’t travel to Potenza, nor did any formal gear, as the referee was in jeans and a t-shirt. I fully expect this group to appear on one of those pseudo-backyard Facebook pages. The ring is in a stage, but we don’t get shown the crowd in the theatre… but we do hear that they’re fans of Marty Scurll, and PROGRESS as well. That was quite heartening.
Gibson outlines himself as a heel by telling the crowd to shut up, and we get underway with a collar-and-elbow tie-up, which sees Scurll taken to the corner for a clean break. Scurll backs out of another tie-up, before he takes down Gibson with a waistlock and goes into front facelock. Wrestling!
A wristlock takes Gibson down, before Scurll rolls him back to his feet and forces him down to the mat with the same move. Gibson reverses the hold, but Scurll quickly regains the wristlock as the Italian crowd chants “this is wrestling”. Crikey, they’re an easy lot to work in front of, aren’t they?!
More reversals from Gibson get nullified, and Scurll ends up on top with an armbar, whilst seemingly pulling at Gibson’s ear (we don’t see because of the fixed camera). Scurll ties up Gibson’s arm in the ropes, then kicks the rope as the referee warns him “you cannot do this!”, and they then wander onto the floor and through the crowd. As in literally, through the rows of fans sitting in the theatre.
We hear a finger snap as the spotlight technician turned the light off, and they brawl out of the range of the fixed camera. The crowd oh-so-briefly chants “fight forever” as Gibson and Scurll trade shots in the darkness, before Scurll drives Gibson into the side of the stage. They finally make it back into the ring, and Gibson connects with some European uppercuts, and a forearm smash, before working on Scurll’s left afm.
A test of strength ends in Scurll eventually rolling up Gibson for a near-fall, and then putting him in an Octopus hold in the middle of the ring. Scurll scores a two-count, then lands another European uppercut before Gibson finally takes down Scurll with an arm wringer, and stands on the left arm.
Both men are interestingly working over the same body part for their finishers – Shankly Gates vs. chicken wing – and Gibson tries for every opportunity to wear down Scurll’s left arm. Scurll avoids a stomp on the arm, then connects with a superkick before stomping Gibson’s arm. Gibson gets a boot up to avoid a corner charge, then wraps Scurll’s arm around like he were going for a La Magistral cradle, but instead drops down to the mat to snap the arm.
Scurll goes to the outside, and thank God we don’t get the count-ahead-of-the-referee gimmick. The Villain quickly returns, but is taken to the mat with a snapmare as Gibson works a seated version of the old Tazmission, but despite the arm dropping twice, Scurll fights back to his feet and headbutts himself free.
Scurll drops Gibson to the mat with an arm whip, then hits a superkick for a near-fall, before a series of uppercuts sees Gibson catch a backslide for a near-fall. The Ticket To Ride (lungblower off the middle rope) gets followed up with Scurll’s “Just Kidding” superkick, then a La Magistral cradle for a near-fall.
From there, Scurll announces the Chicken Wing, but he gets whipped towards the corner, before a sunset-flip roll-up gets reversed for several near-fall attempts, culminating in a two-count from a crucifix-like pin. Scurll replied to an enziguiri with a knee strike, before the pair traded forearms, ending with Gibson missing a clothesline… and getting his fingers snapped.
A roll-up from the snap got Scurll a near-fall, but Gibson unsighted the referee and poked Scurll in the eye, before locking in the Shankly Gates. Scurll made the ropes with relative ease, before Gibson called for the PROGRESS belt to be passed to him. He got the strap, and went to smash it into Scurll’s head, but he ducked, connected with a kick, then caught Gibson in the chicken wing for the submission.
This was incredibly entertaining to watch – helped by a crowd that ate up everything (perhaps a little too eagerly). Basic wrestling, nothing flashy – no flips, no complex, convoluted spots. Just really, really good professional wrestling. Why can’t it be like this more often?! ***¾
PROGRESS World Championship: Paul Robinson vs. “Pastor” William Eaver (c) (CCW Project Mayhem – July 16, 2016)
So, William Eaver’s first PROGRESS title defence actually came on the Emerald Isle, for a promotion called Celtic Championship Wrestling, on a show at The Kino in Cork, Ireland.
Paul Robinson is perhaps the surprising choice of opponent (for a match booked before Eaver won the PROGRESS title, but that’ll still go down as a trivia note!), and he’s his usual foul-mouthed self on the way to the ring (indeed, shouting to a fan “what the **** are you looking at, you four-eyed *****” – my censoring to stop this page from being caught by any language filtering!).
William Eaver’s music doesn’t seem to get any reaction, despite what the commentator says, but Eaver does at least get cheered. The video plugs a website called WrestleDope – which is actually a YouTube channel (as opposed to yet another paid-site…), whilst the ring announcer credits Robinson as the man who ended Jimmy Havoc’s PROGRESS career.
Robinson jumps towards Eaver, and kicks him before the bell can even ring, mounting Eaver and flying into him with some punches. There’s an admirable effort from the CCW commentators to explain how Eaver won the title (in PROGRESSION wrestling? The hell?), and the doorbell goes to officially start the match.
Eaver gets tossed to the outside, and Robinson joins him for some more brawling, including hooking away at Eaver’s nose in the crowd. Robinson throws Eaver back inside, then throws him into the turnbuckle, before landing a running forearm into the corner. Eaver backdrops Robinson onto the apron, but after a brief flurry Robinson leaps back into the ring before getting taken down by the champion.
A series of shoulder tackles knocks Robinson to the mat, then Eaver throws his head into the turnbuckles, before Robinson gets tossed to the outside. Eaver offers Robinson around to the fans for some chops… not a spot I’d recommend doing, holding a guy with his arms restrained so some (drunken) fans can try to throw a chop, but what do I know? I’m not a wrestler…
Robinson sells for a woman chopping him in the chest, before Eaver drops him with the Snake Eyes across the barricade. Back inside, Eaver launches into Robinson in the corner with some European uppercuts, but Robinson violently cuts him off with a takedown and some rapid-fire punches.
Eaver gets taken to the ropes where Robinson seemingly bites at his ear multiple times. Robinson works over Eaver’s head, dropping a knee, and then drops the ultimate heel line for such a religious country, by saying that “it’s all a fairytale”. He’s a braver man than I…
Eaver replies with a series of forearms from there, but gets dropped by a clothesline from Robinson, and then stands on the hair of Eaver for added insult. Robinson hooks away at the nose of Eaver, then fish-hooks the mouth of the PROGRESS champion, and again spinning on his head with a foot.
Robinson spend a bit of time jawing with a fan in the crowd, which lets Eaver get to his feet and attack Robinson on the top rope… then sees him drop Robinson with a superplex for a near-fall. Eaver fires back as the pair exchange forearms, before Robinson kicked out the leg of Eaver to send the champion to the mat.
The Pastor fought back with a pop-up European uppercut for a near-fall, before running into the corner with some more European uppercuts. A third uppercut misses as Robinson slips out of the ring, then lands a crossbody off the top for a near-fall.
For some reason the cameraman spends a fair bit of time focussing on the crowd, and comes back to live action as Robinson misses a curb stomp, with a roll-up getting Eaver just a one-count. Eaver responds with more European uppercuts in the corner, before landing a backbreaker and a powerslam for a near-fall.
Eaver pulls Robinson to his feet, and goes for the Last Supper (crucifix powerbomb), but Robinson works free and low blows the Pastor as the referee got distracted by something. Not sure what, maybe a fan coughed or something? Robinson hit a curb stomp, then rolled up Eaver with the feet on the ropes, as the bungling referee just about noticed the cheating.
As the referee admonished Robinson, Eaver got back to his feet, but was clubbed down to a knee as Robinson jumped onto his back and looked to leap into another curb stomp. Eaver caught him though, and countered with a uranage backbreaker, before dropping Robinson with the Last Supper for the win. Eh, this was a completely different sort of match to the defence in Italy, but this was perfectly acceptable… I wasn’t a fan of the bland commentary, nor the referee getting distracted by nothing, but it was what it was. ***½
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