Progress Freedom’s Road Episode Two
February 9 2017
This is the second episode of Progress’ innovative new project: Freedom’s Road. We’re in the Bedford in London. Host is Callum Leslie.
We start off backstage where Laura Di Matteo arrives and is confronted by Dahlia Black and TK Cooper. It’s Laura vs. Dahlia tonight, in what should be a solid contest, and TK implies he’s going to punch Laura in the face.
Elsewhere the Dazzler Team talk over their issues while the camera hangs around in the corner, making it feel like we’re eavesdropping on the situation as it develops. Something WWE tried for a while before they gave up entirely on subtlety and just rammed the camera in the face of whoever was talking.
Dahlia Black vs. Laura Di Matteo
The TK Cooper pre-match kissing is getting ridiculous. But in a good way. They clearly know it’s working and TK’s insistence at staring into camera during it makes me cringe every time. This is Laura with her old look, before switching to MMA hair and grey gear for Progress Chapter 43. These two put on a tidy match, keeping it to basics, aside from Laura’s fantastic tope wiping out TK. A lot of the heat comes from the character work, like Dahlia continually getting kisses from ringside and yelling “you should have stayed with Jinny”. The best spot in the match is Laura faking being punched by TK, forcing the referee to eject him. It’s supremely well done and plays off what was expected to be the matches biggest moment. The match does occasionally suffer due to their inexperience, and Dahlia is still at the stage where she telegraphs a lot. Better to be safe to start with. That’ll come in time.
Laura gets the win with the Lungblower out of the corner and in the build up to the finish they put in some excellent work. Both women show a lot of promise and they’ll only improve over the coming months by gaining experience. Laura’s music is really growing on me too. Progress do great work in capturing Dahlia and TK arguing in the corridor after the match but then making up/out again.
Final Rating: **3/4
The Dazzler Team debate whether they should take on Roy Johnson backstage with Allen explaining this is how they get back into winning ways.
Darryl Allen feels the need to spit some fire. “J-Breezy run that rhythm”. He doesn’t actually do anything beyond dancing around saying “yeah”. It’s fantastically cringeworthy and Roy’s facials in reacting are out of this world. Unfortunately Roy’s response is a bit homophobic and I prefer the “Bert and Ernie” dig.
Roy Johnson vs. Earl Black Jr. & Darryl Allen
The result is a handicap match but with Dazzler Team operating under tag team rules. Allen doesn’t take the match very seriously, which annoys EBJ. That’s the dynamic of the team and something I would have had no idea had they not focused on it for Freedom’s Road. Last Set puts Darryl away and once again Allen takes the pin and EBJ is nowhere to be seen with the save. Although Allen saved EBJ earlier in the match. This was brisk but served a storyline purpose.
Final Rating: *1/2
Post Match: The Dazzler Team argue, again. “You’re not dazzling anymore”. “You’re not as good as your old man”. As they hug it out the crowd break into “I’ll Be There For You”. We then segue into a preview of next week’s Freedom’s Road, which has Travis Banks on it. Guaranteed quality.
As with last time the star ratings don’t reflect my true feelings on this show. I like that Progress are attempting to go heavy into storylines. It gives the wrestlers a chance to work feuds, cut promos in a WWE style and learn the business from the ground up. It does feel a lot like NXT in that respect. The Progress chapter shows are obviously quite different but at it’s core Progress is a company that thrives on arching storylines and characters that evolve. This is perfect ground work for that.