We’re in Manchester at the Ritz for Chapter 48: Bang the Drum. Manchester has become a hot location for PROGRESS, with the last chapter show there being a scorcher. This card is highlighted by a trio of great looking matches in Banks-Seven, Riddle-Bate and Dunne-Andrews-Haskins.

PROGRESS Wrestling
Chapter 48: Bang the Drum
May 14, 2017
The Ritz
Manchester, England

Watch: Demand PROGRESS

Commentary comes from Glen Joseph and Callum Leslie. Not a surname amongst them.

Super Strong Style 16 Qualifier
Flash Morgan Webster def. James Drake

Winner gets into Super Strong Style. Drake has never lost in Progress, oddly enough, so Flash has an uphill struggle. Especially after they make a hash of the first spot in the ring. When you kick off your match with a mistake it’s usually trouble. Drake is pretty good at slowing things down and being calm and composed. He shows that again here. Flash has been decent since he came back from injury.

The crowd are unrelenting in their assault upon James Drake and his tights. Manchester crowds are fairly witty on the whole. The action in the ring is quick and it’s a worthy opener. Drake’s matches, before this point, had been a bit samey with him grinding at some people’s nerves. He was described as the “personification of a piss break”. However that’s not true here. He wrestles at a decent canter and matches Flash move for move. Webster pulls the big win out with Destino and Drake suffers his first loss in Progress in the process. Probably Drake’s best match in a Progress ring. Another in a string of good matches from Flash since his comeback. ***1/4

Jinny def. Martina

Jinny gets enraged by a shower of glow sticks before the match starts. Nobody has that “I fucking hate you all” face like Jinny. Martina gives her a can of Carling, which goes over badly with the Tory delegate for Knightsbridge. They don’t do cans of Verve Cliquot! They run a near falls sequence during this where Martina doesn’t spill a drop from her beer. It’s incredible.

Martina’s banter involves drinking and smoking (drawing a “that’s illegal”) chant. It’s just one big sesh for Martina. Her various beer drinking related spots, including sinking a pint while doing the Tarantula, are a joy to watch. “It’s just Tajiri’s move set” says Glen. Irish Buzzsaw? The character work in this match is wonderful. Makeover finishes for Jinny, as it should with her being in the final of the Natural Progression Series. Martina is job-proof anyway. This was a cracking little match, demonstrating how well these two characters have been established. You can criticize Martina for her work but it’s improving and Jinny is genuinely great already. ***1/4

Sweet Jesus def. London Riots

The Riots have lost their edge recently, doing lots of goofy stuff, so they seem primed for a heel turn. Chuck Mambo’s antics are prevalent here, with lots of posing and such. Eaver is less fun, going head to head with Big Rob. They have more joy with the dives and poor Mambo gets murdered with a District Line on the apron. Maybe Eaver is struggling to recover from his London Marathon efforts but the match seems to be lacking. It’s almost sluggish, especially considering how high the bar on the Riots’ matches have been set beforehand. Mambo’s hot tag is a mess with Mambo making a string of mistakes with moves being mistimed one after another. They give up on tags and it’s just a mess. They’re clearly aiming for some kind of epic but it’s a misfire. The finish is neat, with a Crucifix/Blockbuster combo putting Lynch away and it’s another loss for the Riots. **1/4

Trent Seven def. Travis Banks

Travis is still coming out to “Keep it 100”, which makes a huge difference to his entrance compared to everyone else who’s rocking up to generic music. This is an extension of South Pacific Power Trip vs. Moustache Mountain. Travis hasn’t forgotten their mistreatment at BSS’s hands at the last Camden show, and he’s here to take it out on Trent Seven. They’ve had great matches in Fight Club Pro and this a continuation of that. It’s a war of chops and strong style rage.

They do a solid job of re-doing bits from Fight Club Pro without making it feel like that match re-done. As a match it exists in order to make Travis Banks look like a legitimate top end singles star. They have a hell of a time beating the shit out of each other. Travis is creative in his dismantling of Trent, showcasing everything in his arsenal with regard to heavy strikes. It proves to all and sundry that Travis Banks belongs at this level. Trent cheats his way to victory with a handful of tights but he did enough to put Travis over without taking the loss. ***3/4

Super Strong Style 16 Qualifier
Nathan Cruz def. Rockstar Spud

This is another match where the winner enters Super Strong Style 16. I was hoping for a draw, eliminating both men, but that’s maybe a touch harsh on Nathan. After all Cruz has been with the company since the early days and sometimes he doesn’t look like an absolute jobber. He comes out to a terrible generic theme, which is almost as awful as Sweet Jesus’ music. Spud comes out to “Lines in the Sand”, which is fine. His entrance music was far less established though, having only wrestled a couple of times for Progress. There’s something weird about Nathan Cruz not coming out to “Turn the Page”. The match is Cruz systematically working over Spud and the little Brummie absorbing the abuse with desperation kick-outs. Nathan hits Show Stolen twice, without getting the win, but hits a reverse version of it for the pin. This made good logical sense but it was total filler. Cruz goes to SSS16 where he’ll probably lose in the first round. After the match, as Spud leaves without his music playing, the crowd sing “Living on a Prayer”. Another demonstration of how Progress is missing some banging tunes suddenly. **

Matt Riddle def. Tyler Bate

Riddle’s music is another musical casualty although his entrance is generally just hundreds of people chanting “Bro” so it’s fine. Tyler wears his UK WWE title and Progress tag strap the same way that Riddle sports his WWN and Progress Atlas straps. It’s cute. Tyler finds himself in very deep water almost immediately as Riddle takes it to the mat where he has incredible skill. Tyler, the smaller man, has to turn it into a fight, which is perhaps not the best of ideas when facing an MMA fighter. Tyler does acquit himself well considering the size and strengths of his opponent. Both these guys are relatively inexperienced but have been earmarked as two of the world’s future superstars. It’s pretty clear that Riddle will find himself in WWE eventually and Bate is already there, sort of. Given their lack of previous matches it’s a tidy contest with decent transitions and incredible pure athleticism. The near falls have Glen Joseph screeching loudly and at a high pitch.

I like that Tyler Bate lifts a WALTER spot, having come into close vicinity of his moves last month and given Riddle’s experiences with WALTER. These two put on one hell of a showcase. Riddle steps up to his opponents strength on a regular basis and Tyler is starting to enter a phase of having consistently great matches. It’s interesting to note that Riddle has had singles matches with Trent and Tyler now. Is Pete next? Tyler gets trapped in the Bromission but Trent Seven runs in for the DQ. I loved this but the finish is very deliberately setting up something else. ****

PROGRESS Championship
Pete Dunne def. Mark Andrews & Mark Haskins

This was the solution to having already run Dunne vs. Haskins and Dunne vs. Andrews. You know what to expect from these three by now. They’ve all familiar with each other and all very capable. The Dunne-Andrews match is perhaps a little played out by this point but putting Haskins in the middle does freshen things up. The Haskins-Andrews stuff is way better here than in Camden. Pete is the focal point of the match though. He’s the dickhead who does all the real damage. Everyone has their moments and it’s nice to see all three men presented on an even keel. Keeping the match as a sprint is good news; it’s lively and imaginative and there’s nothing approaching a flub or rest hold. Every man delivers in spades and it’s a testament to their collective love of entertaining punters.

Haskins has it won with the Star Armbar but Moustache Mountain run in to pull Chris Roberts out of the ring and save the title. This allows Pete to kick Haskins in the nuts and finish Andrews with the Pedigree. The match was great until the fuck finish. ****

Matt Riddle runs in to attack Moustache Mountain after the match for the earlier screw job but he’s overwhelmed by the numbers game of British Strong Style. Pete Dunne claims no one can beat him, including Riddle and Banks. He goes on to state no one is a match for British Strong Style and mysterious music kicks in… it’s #CCK! The pop is enormous and I get chills at them posing in the entrance way. Mondai Lykos getting to wipe out BSS with a tope is superb stuff. He’s gotten so good over the past six months. He and Chris Brookes have earned this spot.

The huge reaction shows that Progress brought these lads in at exactly the right time. They’ve gathered momentum in the smaller Indies and Brookes is over like clover in Rev Pro tagging with Travis Banks.

Final Thoughts:

Not as strong as the last Manchester show but the last two matches (finishes aside) were well worthwhile and the #CCK debut was so well done.