I’ve been a fan of Progress since attending the first Super Strong Style tournament, this is my very first attempt at reviewing a show. I find the atmosphere and overall product incredible, watching it live is an amazing experience. If you cannot attend a show for whatever reason I highly recommend subscribing to the on-demand service, the next best thing would be reading the review I have posted below. Enjoy!
Chapter 46 started with a tag team match. With so much history between all four competitors, in almost any other promotion this would be a grudge match. Outwardly however, Dave Mastiff and El Ligero bear no such grudges. They wanted to have a little fun with their opponents (and the 700 audience members) by coming out to the original “Turn the Page”, made famous once more by Metallica. Origin “Banter Edition” led the crowd in a sing along, getting everyone involved with waving their thumbs in support of this incarnation of the longest standing wrestlers working for the promotion.
When the match was due to start, Nathan Cruz offered El Ligero a peace offering. He stated that Dave Mastiff was beyond saving, but that “Ligs” could still be a force in The Origin. By way of an olive branch, Cruz agreed to hand back Ligero’s mask which was stolen in a previous chapter. All he needed to do, was get rid of the dead weight. Ligero seemed to be on board with the idea, turning his back on his teammate and bringing the double thumbs down, he stepped backwards in a show of solidarity allowing Cruz and Zack Gibson to advance on their once trusted ally. Then it all changed, Ligero’s thumbs down performed a 180 degree reversal; the double cross! With the sneak attack the Lucha Otter thrust his arms in between his opponents legs and wrenched them up hard. The look on The Origin’s face was priceless, Mastiff seized the opportunity and the beat-down commenced.
The bell did not ring for quite some time, Paz tried his best to bring some order to the match but it was no use. For the most part there were a minimum of three people in the ring making it impossible for the match to start. Eventually this died down and the first match was underway. Bell to bell time, the match was short, with Ligero taking the fall after eating a painful double lung blower. This feud does not seem to be over yet.
The next match was a semi-final in the Natural Progression tournament to crown the first Progress Women’s Champion. Dahlia Black entered the ring first, accompanied by TK Cooper. The lovebirds continued to make the Progress crowd uncomfortable with their over the top PDA antics, Dahlia going back to her Queen of Hearts attire to punctuate this. Toni Storm entered the ring alone, her trademark shades covering her intent.
Right from the start of the match however, it was obvious that both ladies wanted to be crowned the first champion. Toni gaining the upper hand, using her hips to her advantage, adding some strikes to the mix. Her experiences in Asia paying dividends, it seemed like this could be over quickly. Cooper, on the other hand had a different idea. After getting involved one too many times the Ref had become exasperated and told TK in no uncertain terms where to go. This irked Black as she was benefiting from her partners involvement in the match. Quickly pulling herself together again, she went right back on the offence, kicking Toni down and narrowly missing with a moonsault that could have finished her off. Storm rallied back and hit a brutal looking pile driver for the three count.
Somewhere in the pandemonium Dahlia Black has suffered an injury, this may be the last time we get to see her perform for Progress for a while. While I may not be a fan of her antics outside the ring, the Queen has certainly won me over and it will be a shame not to see her here in the future. I wish her a speedy recovery and I hope to see both her and TK in a Progress ring in the not too distant future.
Our third New Zealander, and newest member of the South Pacific Power Trip: Travis Banks was next up against Progress fan favourite; Jack Sexsmith. On paper I was very intrigued with this match in particular. Jack has certainly come on leaps and bounds since first appearing in a Progress ring, showing an incredible amount of guts and determination. The Kiwi Buzzsaw’s abilities are well documented, with impressive matches against world renowned opposition such as Kyle O’Riley and successful championship wins in other promotions; Travis is one to look out for.
Like previous chapters, TK joined Travis at the outset before being told “I got this” and deciding to go it alone. After an initial feeling out process Travis got to work, displaying the mat based wrestling skills which are secondary only to his striking ability. Sexsmith was not discouraged and continued to wrestle in this manner, even though he was clearly the underdog and playing to his opponents strengths.
What followed, whether by luck or a keen eye was that Sexsmith gained the advantage, clearly upsetting Banks in the process. This bought out a mean streak with the Kiwi Buzzsaw kicking and chopping with ferocity, causing almost instant bruising and irking the crowd who were previously quite torn in their cheers. Rallies around the Pan-sexual Phenomenon became louder as he tried to regain some momentum. This was cut short by a shining wizard by Banks, leading up to a thunder bomb for another impressive singles victory.
The fourth match saw Mark Haskins attempt to take steps in his quest to regain the Progress championship when he faced Ringkampf’s own Axel Dieter Jr in an exhibition between two of the most talented wrestlers in the world today. These two gentlemen are wrestling personified and I was looking forward to this match, sure to be an instant classic.
Prior to the match Mark’s son; Jack accompanied his father to the ring, in a homage to Jurassic Park (and as a thanks to him for the quote used in the chapter’s title) he successfully took down a velociraptor in a Wrestlemania worthy entrance. Production values are certainly increasing in this punk rock promotion!
The bout did not disappoint, with both competitors trying to assert their dominance early on. Dieter Jr had the height and weight advantage, using this to pacify the explosive Haskins when he tried to gather momentum. The German clearly trying to get into his enemies head when in a clinch near the corner, this was repeated again shortly after for added effect.
There was a quiet hush over the crowd for much of the match. Most of the fans, like me wanted to soak it all in and look out for little touches often missed by the untrained eye. Mark Haskins was relentless in his approach to the former WxW champion, not giving Axel Dieter Jr any time to regroup.
As the minutes went on, the match became more physical with a brutal Made in Japan by the Progress mainstay and some wrenching submission holds by both men, wrapping each other up like pretzels in an attempt to submit the other. Finally Dieter Jr’s shoulders were down in a thrilling contest where the fans were winners. Dieter Jr came back from the back curtain to raise the hand of Haskins, who like Jurn Simmons (a man that recently beat Axel for the WxW championship) has undertaken the task of recapturing gold he believes he did not lose. Haskins gets his chance in Orlando this weekend.
The final match of an epic first half was a first for Progress and is rarely seen at all in the UK wrestling scene. A fans bring the weapons match is often a recipe for disaster; where competitors try to not only win the match, but try to inflict as much damage as possible to their opponent.
Throughout their five year history, Progress has had some iconic moments. A large proportion of these are involving either, or both of the two combatants in this match: Jimmy Havoc and Will Osprey. It has been well documented the issues surrounding these two, the fans playing their part in the rehabilitation of Havoc, contrasting with the rise and fall of Osprey’s Progress career to date, it seemed only fitting that the fans get to participate in the final moments of their rivalry.
Before the show two trolleys made their way up and down the queue into the Electric Ballroom, collecting weapons for this highly anticipated showdown. Old ornaments, old games consoles and old politicians signed pictures were placed in the trolley to hopefully be used in the carnage. Right from the bell these two were going at it, their hatred for each other boiling over in the most devastating fashion. A grandmother clock was bought out from under the ring, it looked like Osprey was going to go crashing through it, but stopped in the nick of time. Havoc ever the opportunist opened the clock door to slap Will in the face.
The brawl spilt out around the ring area, chairs were taken from seats and slammed over each other’s head. Osprey took a hellacious shot from a guitar which sent him reeling, this looked to end it but somehow Will pulled through until the calvary came. Paul Robinson has took up issue with Jimmy Havoc for quite some time, the former Regression member took delight in beating down his old team mate, joining forces one more time to reform the Swords of Essex.
The mayhem continued and the ring was lined with tacks, lego bricks and sweets adding insult to injury for anyone unlucky enough to be thrown on top of them. Paz managed to take a discarded baking tray to assist with counting the attempted pin falls throughout the match, this was an increasingly clever idea with each weapon that was bought out from under the ring.
Miraculously, Jimmy Havoc regained the momentum and dispersed Robinson. Further trips underneath the ring bought even more rewards, a wooden board with barbed wire attached seemed the difference maker. Both men using it as a weapon until Jimmy took it apart and wrapped the barbed wire around his fist and his arm, making this very dangerous for everyone.
Sometime during this match the stakes were raised even higher. Osprey seemingly incensed at the positive reaction his long time rival was getting, decided to add a stipulation; effectively making this a loser leaves town match. There were comparisons between this and Tanahashi and Okada’s rivalry at one point, Havoc seemingly intent on forcing the Arial Assassin out of Progress with repeated rainmaker’s and gripping the arm again straight after. This proved to be the winning combination as Osprey succumbed to the King of the Goths. A gory battle well fought, a bloody Havoc celebrating his victory at the bar with a beer shortly after the bell rang.
While I find Ospreys recent actions in Progress difficult to swallow, I feel that the company itself would be a lot poorer were it not for his contribution. In time I will look back on his era in Progress with fondness as the hero who overcome a tyrant, not the jilted and jaded maniac who took things a step too far and paid a hefty price. Now this chapter of his story has ended I hope to see him reinvigorated for the next.
The shows second half sees three title defences. First up is Tipton’s own Hunter Brothers in a tag match against British Strong Style. Trent and Tyler have shown a lack of respect for the shield trophies which form the Progress tag team championship. Today is no exception here, but a trip behind the curtain brings out two shiny new tag team belts! The design is beautiful and fits the overall look of the Progress gold perfectly.
The two tag teams are no strangers to each other, having travelled across the country together and fought for many promotions. It was a tense affair at first, with no team willing to risk their position to reach for an advantage, the contest almost looked to be a stalemate. Openings occurred, as these things often do and that’s when the two teams found a rhythm. The more heavy hitting British Strong Style attempted Tyler’s “Bop and Bang” combo, this was quickly scouted by the brothers and easily dealt with by performing one of their own.
British Strong Style seem to work best when their opponents are thrown off their game and shortly after their initial setback seemed to gain the upper hand. Cutting the ring off from their opponents team mate, the champions made a series of quick tags, using their feet and other jovial ways to tag each other in to keep it fresh. A slight miscommunication meant the challengers were able to make a tag of their own and a revitalised Hunter was bought in. A series of double team manoeuvres punished each team, with bodies regularly crashing to the outside. In the end, the victory was won by a Tyler Driver 97, meaning the team have chalked up yet another victory over some impressive competition.
Matt Riddle is only the second ever Atlas division champion, having defeated Rampage Brown in an all out war between two very different but equally impressive “Big Lads”. His latest defence saw him pitted against another Ringkampf member making his way over from Europe – Walter. The Austrian had already chalked up a recent win over the former UFC competitor in the 16 Carat tournament in Germany, this time the Atlas championship was on the line.
Both men are amazing athletes and can switch to different styles depending on their opponent. Riddle used his devastating strikes to much effect, where Walter preferred a simpler but no less brutal chop, within minutes both combatants were beginning to show bruises.
When Riddle tweaked his ankle during the match, the Ring General Walter seized his opportunity and went to work on the injured joint. More damage was dished out to the champ, a wrenching ankle lock submission looked certain to yield a victory but Walter was unable to make the most of it. Visibly in pain, Riddle had to change his game plan and started to look for a stray arm to focus on.
An arm-bar seemed to take Walter by surprise but he turned this around with a monstrous powerbomb which rocked the champion. It looked like Walter had done enough to achieve victory when Riddle successfully applied a choke which quickly turned the tide back in his favour for the win. An epic match which elevated both wrestlers in the eyes of everyone in attendance.
Our main event is one 10 years in the making. Both Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews have cemented their legacy over the last decade. With one eye towards the future this has never been a better time for either of them to show how world class British Wrestling is.
Pete Dunne is arguably in the best form of his career, having successfully defended the Progress championship against all competitors in recent months. Mark Andrews has scratched and clawed to this opportunity, having won the Thunderbastard tournament to earn this title shot. Both men started off slow, not willing to show any weaknesses early on. As two people who have faced each other multiple times over their professional wrestling careers, they know how important the opening few minutes of the match can be.
Pete Dunne saw a fast track way to win the match. After referee Chris Roberts stayed in one place for a split second too long he caught the force of an assault leaving him out of commission. Andrews managed to take down Dunne for a pin but there was no ref to count. Enter Paz!
Paz ran in to the ring to count the fall but this was stopped dead in it’s tracks when Tyler held the ref’s hand, thus avoiding the three count and the crowning of a new champion. Paz tried to maintain order but was hit hard for his troubles.
A beating on Andrews ensued, but he managed to turn the tide and put Trent and Tyler out of action. It looked like it was his moment, once Paz had regained consciousness and with no further interference Mark Andrews climbed the ropes and hit a shooting star press. The crowd counted along with Paz, the bell rang, White Lightening is the new champ!
It was all too good to be true, while everyone was focused on the image of Paz counting the pinfall, one man saw Pete Dunne’s leg underneath the rope, thus rendering the win null and void, that man was Roberts. Having regained composure following the previous attack he saw the ring awareness of the champion and ordered that the match restart.
All of the factors in play were too much for Mark Andrews this time around and so after a brief flurry of offence he eventually succumbed to the might of British Strong Style. While this was not the desired outcome of the match for many it showed the heart and tenacity of Mark Andrews. His time will come, I’m sure of it.
An emotional main event capped off an exhilarating yet exhausting show, this was yet another amazing night and I am looking forward to seeing what everyone can do in Orlando.