Progress is celebrating 50 chapters of its flagship product. We have seen almost everything in this time, and yet so much more is yet to come. This show is a prime example of “you aint seen nothin’ yet” – more on that as we go on. So let’s get to it.
Pete Dunne is here to address the 700 strong crowd. He tells everyone that he’s going to be champion until the show in Alexandra Palace and beyond, especially as he is not going to defend his title until that show. He’s on to bigger and better things. Co-owner Jim Smallman declares “No one booked you on a flight to Florida just yet” and that he will be in non title action later in the show. If he loses the match, his victor will get a title short further down the line.
Our first match is the first defence of the new Progress women’s championship. Kay Lee Ray won a number one contenders match for this spot against inaugural champion Toni Storm. They size each other up before locking in a collar and elbow tie up. Toni gets the upper hand here, pushing KLR into the corner of the ring. Back in the centre they exchange holds, both seeming to be evenly matched. Storm seizing the opportunity to rock her opponents head with hip strikes.
KLR hits a beautiful fisherman’s suplex on Storm, who rocks KLR again with a DDT. They exchange forearms in the centre of the ring, Storm catches her breath outside but KLR dives out the ring, relentless in her pursuit of the gold. KLR tries a springboard attack moments later, but is caught in a devastating German suplex which leaves them both gasping for air. Storm hits a piledriver, KLR somehow manages to lift her shoulder before the 3 count. KLR has Storm in a punishing submission in the middle of the ring. It looks to be all over, but Toni manages to get a finger to the ropes to break the hold. Kay Lee Ray tries a high risk manoeuvre, Storm is so quick to react and leaps on to the second rope to spike the challenger head first with an amazing piledriver to secure an impressive title defence.
Tag team action is next up, with the London Riots aiming to get back to winning ways with a victory against Banter Edition. Due to copyright issues, the Progress Faithful are asked to sing Banters theme song and boy do we suck! So much so, that I think we upset Dave Mastiff. He proclaims himself he’s just not into it, leaving El Ligero to do his best against both Rob Lynch and James Davies. Ligero manages to pull off an insane German suplex which seemingly irritates The Bastard who shouts “I’m the big man” and tags himself in, managing to pull off an equally insane hurricanrana!
With Banter’s roles reversed they try to defeat the Riots. Mastiff goes for a big senton, but it’s not enough. The Riots stick what they know and attack Banter Edition with double team moves, a German into a back-breaker and a sling shot into a brutal spear means the Riots get a much needed win. Are they back on the same page again? Only time will tell.
Our penultimate match in the first half pits “Flash” Morgan Webster against a newly focused Jack Sexsmith. Jack was unsuccessful in his SSS16 debut, having sustained an injury earlier on in the tournament and then being eliminated by Zack Sabre Jr in the second round. He seems to have more of a purpose of late, perhaps trying to be seen as a serious contender and not as flamboyant as previous outings. A victory against Flash would raise his profile, at the expense of his opponent. Flash takes a while to get adjusted to the new Sexsmith. Jack himself seems to be thinking about the next steps, being more methodical where usually he would throw caution to the wind. Webster spots this and decides to try and get under his skin, when Sexsmith’s plan hasn’t worked you can almost see him trying to replay the exchange to work out where it might have gone better. This might not be something he would have time for, if he wasn’t up against such a gentleman in Webster.
Webster suckers Sexsmith with some high knees after going for a handshake, perhaps he’s not such a gentleman after all. He hits Jack with chops for good measure. Jack gets fired up and dives into Flash while he is outside. They gather themselves back into the ring and start going for bigger moves. A neck-breaker, another high knee in the corner and a flip piledriver all occur in quick succession. Exhausted, they exchange forearms and headbutts in the middle of the ring. Jack improvises and kisses Flash so hard its like a headbutt. Jack gets the upper hand and manages a double stomp, with Flash on the floor it’s time to bring out what got Jack to the dance; Mr Cocko! It looks like Sexsmith is about to win when the lights cut out, police sirens wail through the Electric Ballroom. The Anti-Fun Police are here. Well, Chief Deputy Dunne and a megaphone anyway. He proclaims that Progress is having too much fun-ah and causes the disqualification, he smacks Jack over the head and states “Nobody has any fun, nobody gets hurt”. Who knows where this rivalry will take us.
Pete Dunne is set for a non title match against a mystery opponent in the first half main event. Donovan Dijak steps confidently out through the curtain. The element of surprise does not seem to affect Dunne as much as it could do, but the crowd are on their feet as this is someone who has been on a lot of peoples wish-lists (including mine) to appear in Progress for quite some time. Pete throws himself over the ring and lands on Dijak, he then climbs up to the second rope and lands a moonsault while Dijak is getting his bearings.
Back in the ring Dijak picks Dunne up his in a choke-slam, before bringing him down on his knee in a powerful back-breaker. Dunne tries to end it with a pedigree but this is not enough, exasperated he threatens Paz who tries to assert his authority as best he can. Dijak shouts “Feast your eyes” but is unable to claim victory with the move. He tries to stick the boot to Dunne but this is ducked and Pete hits the Bitter End which Dijak fails to recover from.
Nathan Cruz and Zack Gibson are well acquainted as a tag team, having been in The Origin for a long time. They face a newly formed team in Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins, who celebrates his birthday. Vicky Haskins hands out party hats and this is a perfect excuse (if ever he needed one) for Cruz to mock his opponents. A Haskins and Havoc superkick gets this match going in style, and for good measure, a double topei to the outside soon follows.
Who knows if this team had rehearsed any moves or if this was just chemistry, but a superkick and rain-maker combination sends Gibson rolling out of the ring. After an altercation, Roberts is pushed and is finding it hard to see anything. Havoc uses this opportunity to bring out a steel chair looking birthday present for Haskins. After unwrapping the present they are about to put it to good use when a better idea springs to mind – taking a leaf out of an Eddie Guerrero play-book Havoc fakes a chair shot injury meaning an indignant Gibson is threatened with disqualification. The shenanigans don’t quite work out as planned however as Gibson manages to duck an oncoming attack and Haskins takes the fall after a roll-up.
James Drake is up next against the current SSS16 tournament winner: Travis Banks. Drake has had a lot of negative attention of late, he seems to feed on this. You can tell he is looking forward to crushing the dreams of everyone in the Ballroom by beating Banks who needs to be on fire for the next few months leading to Alexandra Palace. Trav uses his precise kicks to his advantage, kicking the front and the back of Drake, softening him up for further punishment later. Drake manages to wrap Banks up in the ring curtain, before stomping on him when he is defenceless. Forearms follow and hit Banks hard to even the playing field back up.
Banks hits a flurry of signature moves; a double stomp a coast to coast, a cannonball. But his progress is stalled by an exploder suplex from Drake, he retaliates with a Michinoku driver but Drake has more left in the tank. Travis keeps his winning streak intact by drawing from his martial arts background and felling down Drake with a spin-kick for a 3 count.
Our final match of the show sees the Progress in ring debut of CCK as they take to dethrone British Strong Style in the most anticipated tag team match since Wyatt’s vs Shield. CCK waste no time in getting down to business. A dive from Chris Brookes and a springboard moonsault from Mondai Lycos bring the action outside. Trent Seven chops at Lycos while Tyler Bate catches Chris Brookes and with his impressive strength throws him up and over his head into the chairs! Battling back and forth all over the Ballroom they all go. Near the stage entrance Brookes holds his hands for Lycos to step into, then throws the wolf into the air and watches as he comes crashing down on BSS from a great height, wrecking the seated area near the stage in the process.
Eventually they all make their way into the ring, Chris Roberts rings the bell to make the contest official! It is plainly obvious BSS would be happy with a loss by DQ as they would get to keep the belt. Roberts, struggling internally lets a blatant low blow slide in the interests of competition. CCK get a rhythm going and unleash sick tag moves to the delight of the fans. Brookes hits a cutter, Lycos a DDT but Tyler stuns with a big lariat. BSS cause mayhem with moves of their own; a shooting star press, a German suplex amongst others. Pete Dunne comes out to tip the scales but any upper hand is cut short by the arrival of Travis Banks to the rescue. Brookes takes out Trent with a twisting suplex outside, Lycos hoists Tyler up on the corner of the ring. I can’t believe I’m writing this but Lycos hits a brainbuster from the second ropes, an actual brainbuster! Tyler’s head lands on the turnbuckle and we have new tag team champs.
There is no greater catharsis in wrestling than this, a trio of talented tossers have come unstuck in the most glorious fashion by a wolf hitting a brainbuster from a great height. British Strong Style are visibly distraught, Peter is furious. The crowd is ecstatic. Jim, John and Glen have given CCK an opportunity and they have grasped it with all limbs, we have new Progress tag team champions. The show ends on a monumental high, it’s nights like these that make it all worth it for everyone in attendance. As usual I can’t wait for the next show, I hope you can make it.