WWN’s annual Mercury Rising supershow eventually delivered, but an overbooked mess to the first two matches, and use of “card subject to change” left a rather sour taste…
We’re back in the Orlando Live Events Centre as EVOLVE and PROGRESS battled it out… but first, as is the case a lot of this weekend, Drew Galloway comes out to interrupt things. Drew tells us about an old quote he read that inspired him, and now that his mission to “save EVOLVE” is now morphing into “save WWN”.
Holy crap, there’s laser writing and patterns on the wall above that FloSlam banner. This really is the UWA!
Galloway wants to win that WWN to take the company places, and he threatens to break the neck of anyone who gets in his way. Like Matt Riddle, who comes out and lays into Drew, and sends him to the outside for some brawling, only for Riddle to get dumped on his head again. Tracey Williams, Chris Dickinson, Jaka and Fred Yehi make the save, and Drew freaks out… as Keith Lee saunters down the aisle for another confrontation.
Lee actually makes Drew back up, but Drew ends up back in the ring as he tries to tell Keith that “he’s someone to build a company around”. Lee’s not really listening though, and when Drew asked Keith to stand with him, we get a thumbs down and a headbutt… but Lee fires back with a powerbomb, a death valley driver and a top rope moonsault to crush Galloway!
Drew rolls outside and goes under the ring for something, before referees and Gabe Sapolsky make a presence to tend to the Scotsman. For a guy who was portrayed as a heel, that beatdown on Galloway certainly didn’t get that much of a reaction, nor did Lee’s promo, as he declared that he’d “dethroned the King… and claimed the kingdom for my own”. Hey, it’s another unscheduled start to our show!
Keith Lee demands his opponents head out – so first we get Jason Kincaid, Austin Theory, then Timothy Thatcher’s music? Stokely Hathaway comes out and tells us that Timmy won’t be in the opener, as he’s been added to the main event for the WWN title. One kid in shot was really unhappy at that, and he was more in focus than Hathaway was…
Darby Allin wanders our next with his stitched up head, and he tells us that he’s not medically cleared to wrestle, but he wants that spot anyway. Ethan Page has a different idea though, as he chop blocks Allin’s knee before suggesting that one of his Gatekeepers takes the spot. So we’ve got Bald Gatekeeper – still without a name – joins the fray! Christ, that opening segment was overbooked, wasn’t it?!
Keith Lee vs. Jason Kincaid vs. Austin Theory vs. Ethan Page’s Bald Gatekeeper
Bald Gatekeeper gets whipped through the crowd barriers early by Theory, and look, we now have Priscilla Kelly out at ringside because we’ve not had enough bodies early on.
A double belly-to-belly suplex from Lee almost goes wrong for Kincaid, who doesn’t flip over, whilst Theory takes a slingshot elbow from Lee – but the other three start to gang up on Lee, with Theory helping the Gatekeeper powerbomb the “Limitless” one. Theory takes over with a trio of topes, before Lee caught a fourth one and just wandered Theory into the ring post.
Back inside, Gatekeeper lands a Bossman slam for a near-fall on Theory, who then came back with some offence on Lee, only for that to be ended with a massive pop-up flapjack. Where’s Jason Kincaid?? We go to Lee and Gatekeeper trading blows, before a Spirit Bomb and the Ground Zero (death valley driver X Jackhammer) get the win. Well, it put Keith Lee over huge, but this opening segment was a bloody mess. Did anyone see Kincaid in this? **½
Well this was a disappointment – this was due to be the pay-off for the Red Wedding, but despite the goth ladies and their smoke-filled entrance, it was LuFisto who came out with the veil and bouquet. LuFisto told us that Su Yung “didn’t even bother to show up tonight” and “decided to stay home”. This is quite the burial for someone whom “staying home” meant working another show earlier in the day.
SHINE Championship: LuFisto (c) vs. Toni Storm
LuFisto issued a challenge that was answered by someone from the crowd in a PROGRESS t-shirt – it was Toni Storm!
Storm dove on LuFisto early, taking her around the ring with chops, and yes, we got both women accidentally chopping the ring post. LuFisto throws Storm into the ring post then works over the Australian in the corners with chops, and to be frank, this was pretty one sided here. Well, it was until Storm kicked her for a near-fall, only to be slammed and given a curb stomp as LuFisto nearly retained.
Storm sidesteps a charge from LuFisto, which allows her to lead back in with a hip attack before the champion tripped her back into the corner for a hip attack and a cannonball. Another comeback from Storm follows, but she takes a fireman’s carry spinebuster for a near-fall from LuFisto as the pendulum keeps swinging, before a Storm back cracker takes down the champ.
Toni heads up top but she’s caught by LuFisto and eats a Burning Hammer for the win. This was fine; basic, but pretty good… the lack of crowd reaction hurt as everyone was expecting Su Yung and instead they got… not Su Yung. **¾
So far we’ve had two matches not delivered as advertised, and a third one with a change to it later in the card. That “subject to change” warning is an advisory, not a philosophy!
Jim Smallman and Trevin Adams head out next as representatives of PROGRESS and WWN to tag-team ring introductions – and it’s Smallman who gets some mic time, sharing the one golden rule of PROGRESS ahead of the first match of the EVOLVE vs. PROGRESS series.
EVOLVE vs. PROGRESS Series Match #1: Ethan Page vs. Jimmy Havoc
Ethan only had “a Gatekeeper” here, as the other one was still worn down from his match earlier in the card.
Page tries to jump Havoc, who low bridges him to the outside after the cameraman didn’t zoom out quite enough, and we’ve got some crowd brawling just to make Jimmy feel at home! Havoc gets thrown over the crowd barriers into the front row, and the crowd scatters. Page takes a poke to the eye after Jimmy wound up way too much for a chop, and they’re now exposing the empty seats in the arena as Havoc takes a selfie with a fan as he chokes on Ethan.
They brawl around to the merch tables, where Page hits an elbow drop before slingshotting Havoc’s head off the underside of the table. Eventually they return to somewhere near the aisle as Havoc crotches Page on the guard railings before punching him. We get an RK-Ego for a near-fall, before Havoc countered an Iconoclasm into some headscissors as a middle rope Codebreaker almost gets the win.
An Acid Rainmaker attempt gets ducked by Page, but he has no answer for a big boot in the corner, before a Tanned Sheamus out of nowhere gets a two-count. The crowd awakens a little as they trade shots, ending with Havoc taking a head kick and replying with a Pele as he countered an Acid Rainmaker counter into a small package.
A double stomp gets Havoc a two-count as the other Gatekeeper made his way to the ring, just in time for Jimmy to go for the Acid Rainmaker… but he gets distracted. As does the referee, but the not-bald Gatekeeper’s attempt at booting Havoc leads to Jimmy turning around into a Spinning Dwayne for the win. The crowd brawling was fun, but the screwy finish was just cheap as hell. We’re back to the dead crowds again, I see… **¾
After the match, Page berates Havoc before ordering in the Gatekeepers to continue that beatdown, but Darby Allin returns with a pipe to beat Ethan into an Acid Rainmaker… Darby and Jimmy shake hands, and that match probably would have been more entertaining. And more likely to have killed Darby.
EVOLVE vs. PROGRESS Series Match #2: South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper & Travis Banks) vs. Catch Point (Jaka & Chris Dickinson)
As Jim Ross would say, business is picking up! Dahlia Black didn’t need a piggyback this time, and I swear TK borrowed a cape from someone on the CHIKARA roster.
TK and Jaka start with a bunch of feinted kicks, before an enziguiri from Cooper finally connects, which takes us to Travis Banks and Chris Dickinson – whose drawstrings are already hanging loose. Banks trips Dickinson a few times before getting a La Magistral for a near-fall as Dickinson gets a quick receipt in, but he wants to face “pretty boy” TK it seems, so he gets PROGRESS’ resident Bruno Mars lookalike.
He’s just not the same without the dungarees!
TK’s kicked into the corner by Dickinson, before Jaka tags in for an elbow drop, as Dickinson returns to twist over Cooper for a Boston crab. A suplex gets Jaka a near-fall, before he incites Banks into the ring by leaping at the Kiwi, and my God, it’s noticeable now just how out of sync the sound is here. Dickinson wraps TK in a full nelson-with-the-legs before Jaka lands a low dropkick for a two-count to continue the Catch Point dominance.
TK tries to leap off the top, but a headbutt from Jaka cuts that off. Eventually TK sidesteps a Jaka charge and boots down Dickinson as we build to the hot tag… and in comes Banks to kick away at Catch Point! Banks kicks Jaka to send him cannonballing into a cornered Dickinson, before he throws in a cannonball of his own. A brainbuster nearly wins it for Banks, but he’s caught with a reverse DDT on the apron, but he swings back with a tope to both opponents. From there, it’s time for TK’s flip – the corkscrew moonsault off the top rope!
Everyone returns to the ring as the Kiwis use Catch Point to kick each other, before Banks’ diving clothesline lays out Jaka. They pop back up from some German suplexes, but a pair of clotheslines leave them laying. Banks fends off Catch Point until he’s given a superkick-assisted wheelbarrow suplex, but TK makes the save before Banks eats a Pazuzu bomb and a big splash… but he kicks out at two!
A double stomp on a torture rack follows for Banks, but Cooper breaks him free and assists with a double chicken wing into a cutter that almost stole the win. Form there, Dickinson avoids the elevated DDT, but takes the springboard enziguiri out of the corner before Jaka’s superkicked to death and out of the ring. Dickinson’s double back suplexes take down the Kiwis, but he takes a leg lariat from TK, a sit-out Fisherman buster from Banks, then the springboard 450 splash from TK… FOR A ONE COUNT?! You’ve gotta be kidding me.
Undeterred, the Kiwis follow up with a double superkick, as that elevated DDT gets them the win. Well, if the visas don’t work out in the UK, I’ve a feeling this weekend has shown the US indys what we’ve known for a long long time: the South Pacific Power Trip have hit their stride, and they are really, really good. Their coming out party continues in earnest! ****½
They announced here that Drew Galloway suffered a rib injury in that earlier attack, and so he’s out of the main event… to go and sit ringside at NXT!
Jim Smallman takes over on the mic for the next match…
EVOLVE vs. PROGRESS Series Match #3: PROGRESS World Championship: ACH vs. Pete Dunne (c)
We start off with some mat work here, as Dunne tries for a leg lock, only for ACH to escape and slide into a front facelock, which he clings onto as Dunne tried to roll free.
From there, Dunne tried a monkey flip to escape out of a wristlock, but ACH held on and eventually took Dunne into the ropes for cover. ACH tried to play to the crowd and got knocked down, but he managed an up-kick from the corner as Dunne tried to chase after him, with a springboard dropkick taking Peter into the barriers. A reverse legsweep on the apron dumps ACH face-first, but he recovers in the ring to cartwheel away and dropkick Peter for another near-fall.
An enziguiri gets ACH a near-fall, as he then rolled up Peter for a Muta lock! Dunne comes back with a Pedigree for a near-fall, then pulls off the classic Triple H pose. Because LOL WWE.
Dunne kicks away ACH’s arm and pulls off a Toru Yano shrug. Alright, I’m done now… just kidding, Dunne claws away at ACH from a surfboard stretch position, then pokes away at the challenger’s eyes. They go back and forth with forearms, but those seem to rile up ACH, who clearly remembered his 16 Carat Gold weekender, as he distracted referee Brandon Tolle… to chop Dunne below the belt!
A neckbreaker nearly does it for ACH, as does an ushigoroshi, but the match continued to swing back and forth. ACH nails a slingshot cutter, then an Air Raid Crash for a two-count, before escaping a Regal Stretch. ACH popped up from a snap German suplex only to take a low blow, but he kept plugging away, only for the end to come when Dunne moved away from a 450 Splash and trapped ACH in a Regal Stretch for a submission to end a match that was decent, but little more. Too many matches in a short period of time can do that! ***¼
I don’t want to say this match felt like nothing special, but we were certainly watching some guys who looked to be operating on fumes… in front of a crowd that had a similarly empty tank.
EVOLVE vs. PROGRESS Series Match #4: EVOLVE Championship: Mark Haskins vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (c)
As you’d expect these two started on the mat, exchanging holds and submission attempts in a bit of a masterclass of how to work each other’s legs.
From there Haskins worked to the arm, but Sabre reverses it and then catches Haskins in a leapfrog as he turned it into a prawn hold for a near-fall. Haskins returns with some kicks to the leg before trapping Zack in a spinning toe hold… but Sabre manages to grab an arm for a Kimura as the back-and-forth on the mat continued.
Sabre and Haskins went for heel hooks at the same time, but it was the champion who prevailed first, before Haskins drove a knee into the mat to resume his focus on Sabre’s leg. A Pele kick to the leg gets Sabre some momentum, but a PK attempt is caught and eventually rolled into the Star armbar… but Sabre manages to counter it into some headscissors as they tide shifts back and forth some more.
Haskins elbows out of a Dragon suplex then clotheslines Sabre to the mat. Back and forth kicks lead to a scoop slam for a near-fall, then a crossface for Haskins, before a death valley driver nearly ended a series of pinning attempts with a title change! Another Star armbar comes next, but Sabre escapes and works into the Octopus hold, before Haskins’ counter of a Stretch Muffler was rolled up for a near-fall.
A cross armbreaker’s blocked by Haskins, who hits the Made in Japan (pumphandle driver) for a near-fall, but Sabre quickly snapped back with a European uppercut and a PK, before a second one misses. Haskins floats over and into the roll-through Sharpshooter, before having to make do with a rolled-through death valley driver attempt… but Sabre countered it into a triangle choke and finally the Ode to Breaks for the submission. This was a wonderful technical outing; perhaps with a hotter crowd this’d have come across even better, but this is a match I’d love to see again on this side of the Pond! ****
So… Zack Sabre Jr, the EVOLVE champion who’s also worked extensively for PROGRESS, ends up tying the series at 2-2. To the surprise of nobody!
WWN Championship: Timothy Thatcher vs. Parrow vs. Jon Davis vs. Matt Riddle vs. Fred Yehi vs. Tracy Williams
So… this elimination match was to crown the first ever WWN champion, and was supposedly featuring the champions from all of WWN’s properties. Except Zack Sabre Jr, clearly!
Drew Galloway was originally in the match, but his “injury” forced him out, with Timothy Thatcher replacing him. ACW’s Parrow got a muted reaction, as I guess ACW has a limited audience? He’s impressed me in his showings thus far, so it’s not like he’s here as a favour. We start with a six-way brawl as Trevin Adams joins commentary, and yes, both commentators have differing sound levels… Yay for quality control! Also, yay for very shaky hard cameras!
Things settle down to Yehi and Cruz trading shots in the middle of the ring, whilst Tracy Williams dumps Timothy Thatcher with a back suplex. The three Catch Point members seemed to form an alliance against the other three, but Thatcher quickly withdrew as Parrow ended up throwing Yehi into Williams with a fallaway slam. That the cameras missed.
Parrow quickly becomes the first one eliminated as he took a series of shots from everyone as Thatcher grabbed a rear naked choke… and with someone busted open (the blue gloves for Brandon Tolle were a giveaway), Parrow was choked out for the first elimination. Well, it was good while it lasted…
The Catch Point trio turned their sights onto Thatcher, with Yehi stomping away on Thatcher’s hands. Timmy headbutts away a clothesline, but falls to a neckbreaker for a near-fall. It’s Cruz who has a bloodied nose, and he launches into Yehi with a buckle bomb and a spinebuster before facing off with Thatcher… who then had to deal with the Catch Point trio, catching them in rear naked chokes before they saved each other.
A tombstone slam from Riddle sends Thatcher down, as does a brainbuster, before Williams’ crossface leaves Thatcher with no choice to tap. I have to say, that surprised me that he was gone so early… Next up in the Catch Point crossfire was Davis, who tries for a fallaway slam/Samoan drop combo, only for Riddle to make the save with some kicks. Cruz takes an STO out of the corner before Yehi’s powerbombed onto him for a near-fall, but in the end, Catch Point waffled him with a Bro To Sleep, a German suplex and a sliding forearm… but Cruz kicked out at two! He had no answer for a trio of submissions: crossface, armbar and a heel hook, and now Catch Point’s going to get the title!
They teased Yehi and Williams turning on Riddle – a man who’d been increasingly reclusive in that group – but after a spell of double-teaming young Matthew, deliberately focusing on the neck, Riddle flips out of a German suplex, before finally being planted with one. Williams lands almost an Angle slam as they alternate between those moves, before a Fisherman’s buster from Yehi keeps him down. Out of nowhere though, Williams shocks his tag partner by rolling up Yehi for the next elimination!
We’re down to “Hot Sauce” and the Bro as Yehi’s enraged by his partner’s disloyalty, but Williams makes a point of specifically targeting Riddle’s neck with shots, before a strait-jacket German suplex nearly gets the win… but the neck bridge seemed to hurt Riddle during the pinning attempt! Riddle follows in with a superplex, but Williams headbutts him down for a DDT onto the top turnbuckle. A DDT and a crossface follows from “Hot Sauce”, before he bounced Riddle high into the air from a PILEDRIVER! Still, Riddle kicked out at two and held on, only to get trapped in another crossface, this time making the ropes to get his freedom.
Williams moves to a seated abdominal stretch with some Bryan Danielson-esque elbows for good measure, before he spammed that crossface yet again. Riddle easily gets the bottom rope, but he’s tiring (as am I watching all these crossfaces), so Williams throws in some forearms and chops in the ropes. Out of nowhere, Riddle catches Williams with an armbar in the ropes, but Tracy keeps up the pressure, only for another crossface attempt to be blocked and turned into the Bromission, and that’s a tap! Matt Riddle wins the WWN championship, and leaves this weekend with two titles to carry to airports! Despite the screwiness going in, this was a really good main event – everyone played their part, even if some were in weird places (Thatcher, I’m looking at you!) ***¾
As a supershow, this was really meh – yes, it picked up in the second half, big time, but the laborious opening segment, along with the screwy card changes re: Drew Galloway and Su Yung just left a sour taste in people’s mouths. This isn’t a show to skip, but if you’re only able to pick and choose from FloSlam, skip to the halfway point – there’s good stuff in here, but it certainly didn’t feel like a supershow.