This is the second Birmingham show of 2017 and co-owner Jim Smallman makes a point of saying how great the crowds can be in the Midlands. Our city and surrounding areas have a lot to be proud of when it comes to wrestling in 2017, a lot of local talent is represented here today. Let’s get to it!
Mark Haskins looks to climb up the rankings as he looks to take on an impressive, if unlucky Mike Bird. The match quickly heads out of the ring, Haskins aiming high at the chest with his kicks. Mike Bird powers through, throws Haskins into the corner and slams him on the apron for good measure. Bird tries to keep the pressure on Haskins who has to use his legs later on to grab the second rope, forcing Bird to break a particularly painful looking stretch.
Haskins tries with more offence; a fireman’s carry / death valley driver combination, followed up with a super kick only managed a two count. Bird launches himself with a flying uppercut and a sit-down power bomb but Haskins kicks out. Adrenaline pumping, they exchange chops in the ring, Haskins lands another super kick and applies the sharpshooter forcing Bird to tap out in a hard hitting first match.
Haskins asks for the microphone and speaks out about how close he was to not being able to compete in matches like this due to injury, and how he never lost the Progress championship. Mark Haskins will do what it takes to become the Progress champion again.
Kyle Ashmore has not been in a main Progress show for some time, he faces a rejuvenated Eddie Dennis at short notice. Eddie was due to team with Mark Andrews in a tag match later that night but White Lightning has sustained an injury recently. Eddie Dennis has put away his suit for the moment and is chasing his dream of becoming a full time professional wrestler, the Hip-star is going to try and make him regret this decision with a victory tonight.
Ashmore gains the advantage early on with a drop-kick from behind and goes straight after Dennis outside with a splash. Eddie regains his composure and continuing outside for a while, proceeds to chop Ashmore all around the ring. Eddie pauses every so often to break the referee’s count but then goes back to dishing out the punishment.
Eddie hits an atomic drop in the ring, followed by a clothesline which turns Ashmore inside out. Ashmore uses aerial moves to keep the big man on his toes, Eddie shows off his impressive strength and catches Ashmore in flight and slams him down outside. The quickness of Ashmore rocks Eddie somewhat, a power-bomb and a back-breaker by Ashmore soften Eddie up, but he misses the spiral tap and Eddie capitalises again. A buckle-bomb followed by a next stop driver gives Eddie an emphatic win.
Jigsaw makes his debut for Progress here in Birmingham against Camden’s own Jimmy Havoc in our third match. Jimmy has recently been brushing up on his mat wrestling skills, Jigsaw is only too happy to oblige early on in the match-up. The New York native gets a bit carried away when going for Havoc’s knee, a quick reminder sees the gentleman Jigsaw apologise and break the hold. It all seems to be pretty evenly matched for a while when Havoc takes a play from the Three Stooges and pokes Jigsaw in the eye! From there all niceties are thrown out the window as yet another match spills out of the ring. The crowd have to be on their toes throughout as Jigsaw is planted in the front row, Havoc steps back a few paces for a running dive when Jigsaw moves at the last second meaning Havoc’s momentum carries him through the first few rows in the o2 Academy.
Back in the ring a springboard DDT sees Jigsaw reeling. A Ryu style dragonpunch (complete with shoryuken) while Jigsaw is in the corner follows but Jigsaw has the wherewithal to make Havoc lose his footing, finding himself in a tree of woe. Jigsaw plants his feet on Havoc as he comes crashing down. Havocs feet are still caught so Jigsaw climbs the ropes to Havocs left. He leaps from the turnbuckle in a graceful coast 2 coast but only gets a two count. Jimmy Havoc knows it’s now or never and pulls out a vicious flip piledriver before smashing his forearm into Jigsaw, softening him up for the acid rainmaker and the eventual three count. Jigsaw had a great debut and was unlucky all things considered, I hope to see him in the UK, and a Progress ring in the near future.
Jimmy takes a microphone also and in a thinly veiled dig states that while Haskins was at home playing Daddy, Jimmy was out with an excruciating leg injury. He also wants his title back, will their paths cross on the way to a title shot in the future?
Our first half main event was originally going to be a triple threat tag team match, with the injury to Mark Andrews it was then billed as the third instalment in the London Riots vs War Machine story. It was agreed by all participants that this was to be Tornado rules, much to the delight of the 700 Progress fans. With the stipulation set, the match didn’t need any other reason not to stay in the ring so out they all went! The current IWGP heavyweight tag team champions set to continue their dominance all over the world with brutal tag team action. A full circuit of the ring was ran by both members of War Machine before they collided with the Riots who were struggling at that point to keep the momentum going their side. James Davies showed his impressive strength sometime later with an exploder suplex as he vowed not to be outdone.
There was no clear advantage and all four members started to feel the effects of the battle so far, they collapsed in the ring after one too many blows. Raymond Rowe slammed all three other men in a monster tower of doom. Spears were handed out by Rob Lynch but only managed a two count. War Machine were victorious with a devastating double team leg drop, the crowd were the real winners as they had seen two of the worlds finest tag teams leave it all in the ring for nothing but the spirit of competition. I will never get tired of seeing these two tag teams for as long as they keep going.
We come back from the interval with an Atlas division title match. Walter looks to dethrone the six month title reign of the King of Bro’s Matt Riddle in the very same venue he beat Rampage for it in January. Both wrestlers have an explosiveness to them which is seldom equalled, they start with brutal sounding chops to each others chest but when that isn’t enough to show dominance; Walter breaks the pattern with a German suplex which throws Riddle hard on the canvas. Not to back away from a fight, Riddle slams Walter with not one but two gut-wrench suplex’s before they trade chops yet again. Walter softens up Riddle with a big heavy boot before trying to put him away with a sleeper. This has helped him win so many matches as of late Riddle is relieved to force the break without too much damage sustained.
Riddle starts to wear Walter down with high kicks to the chest area of the challenger, Walter trades blows with those giant slaps of his yet again. Walter cleverly takes Riddles leg out from underneath him and seizes the opportunity to capitalise with an ankle lock, the pain is etched on Riddles face yet he does not tap. Walter goes for another massive boot and follows this up with another German suplex and a lariat for a close two count. Another sleeper is applied but Riddle counters this and hits a bro to sleep before crashing Walter down with a German suplex of his own, complete with a pinning combination bridge but Walter’s shoulders are up before the three count.
As soon as Walter sits up he is greeted with a PK kick, a painful stretch hold and some thunderous elbows to the neck area. It does not look good for Walter at all but then he manages to turn the tide with a tight rear naked choke giving Riddle no option but to tap out quickly before the air gets cut off completely. The Austrian stands tall and 700 wrestling fans stand with him, as he is crowned the new Atlas division champion. The ovation is not just for the match itself, which will stand up with some of the best title matches in Progress history, but for the way in which Riddle has carried himself as champion during this time and like Rampage before him. The Ring General heads home this evening with his newly acquired medal, and the battle scars to prove he earned it.
“Flash” Morgan Webster seeks retribution against Chief Deputy Dunne, who spoiled an enjoyable match between him and Jack Sexsmith in a previous chapter. The match starts off quite energetic, with both athletes going for kicks and flips in a manner of combinations. Flash gets some high knees up which anger No Fun Dunne no end.
Flash delivers a senton, and tries a pin attempt after a firemen’s carry neck breaker for a two count. Dunne hits a springboard lung blower. A skirmish ensues from an attempted submission and referee Joel is hit. Dunne uses this opportunity to hit a low blow and a spike DDT for the victory. Flash is clearly upset with this and a range of emotions cover his face as he makes his way to the lockers.
Birmingham’s main event sees six of British wrestling’s biggest stars collide in a three on three tag team match. The UK have accepted Travis Banks with open arms, and Progress fans are amongst the most vocal in singing his praises. He is joined by two recent additions to the Progress roster; Chris Brookes and Mondai Lycos, collectively known as CCK. The trio have been a thorn in the sides of British Strong Style for quite some time, with CCK taking the tag titles off Tyler Bate and Trent Seven in the last show, and Trav aiming to dethrone Pete Dunne in Progress’s biggest show of 2017 in Alexandra Palace. Trent goads CCK in making this match for the tag team titles, on the condition that if BSS lose, they can never compete for the belts as long as CCK hold them. After a brief team talk, the champions accept, and the bell rings.
Lycos hits Trent with a high knee and goes for the pin in a mirror image of his almost laughable entry into this years Super Strong Style 16 tournament. This gets a two count, but it’s obvious that Trent is shook up by this pattern beginning to emerge. Pete tries to contain an almost rabid Lycos, a big forearm seems to do the trick for a while. Tyler is learning some underhanded tactics from the Progress and WWEUK champion when he joins the Bruiserweight in attacking the hands of Banks with his teeth. CCK break things up again but Tyler stops a flying Lycos. With most of the wrestlers outside at this point, Pete throws Lycos with a smirk at both opponents and teammates alike, before climbing on the top rope and landing a moonsault on the sprawling bodies underneath.
BSS seem to have targetted Lycos as the weak link, perhaps down to his smaller stature. Lycos is being stretched, and his joints are being manipulated the wrong way into some painful positions. The wolf still has some fight left in him and he manages to make a desperate tag to Travis. A lung-blower throws Dunne into the corner, Banks hits a cannonball and is helped by Brookes with a double brainbuster. Lycos gets a second wind and in the melee we get to see some sick fucking tag moves! Lycos grabs Tyler and springs into a C4, all three members of BSS are in the corners of the ring. A triple coast 2 coast gets the crowd roaring but the match isn’t over yet. All three BSS members are back on their feet and exchanging blows with CCK and Travis Banks, who eats a massive forearm by Dunne.
Brookes is unlucky when he gets triple teamed with a piledriver, a Tyler Driver and a Bitter end in quick succession. It looks all over when Travis makes a last second save! Referee Chris Roberts becomes yet another casualty and is hit, this seems like a perfect opportunity for BSS to bring out the backup – a HHH endorsed sledgehammer. CCK quickly spot this and manage to relieve Pete of this foreign object while we are joined by referee Joel who attempts to salvage what is now quite simply a brawl. Trent hits a second rope piledriver but this only gets a two count. Lycos manages another insane top rope brainbuster, the same move that won the Best Boys their belts in London – but the sledgehammer comes back in to play and Lycos is knocked out cold. The referee could have counted to 10 and poor Lycos still wouldn’t have kicked out, British Strong Style have regained their championship. The crowd are quite clearly upset with the result, but nothing will change what has been quite an extraordinary night.
Sunday was my mom’s first ever wrestling show, she experienced dramatic highs and devastating lows along with everyone in the o2 Academy. She saw first hand the passion and dedication of everyone involved in the show, the wrestlers, the crew and the crowd all come together to create something magical for those few hours. I’m sure she will join me for another show in the future, I hope to see you there!