We’re in Camden at the Electric Ballroom for PROGRESS Chapter 54, the go-home show for Alexandra Palace after coming back from an eventful US mini-tour.
Chapter 54: Go to Your God Like a Soldier
August 27, 2017
Watch: Demand PROGRESS
Strangler Davis def. Connor Mills
Mills has been featuring in squashes on Freedom’s Road and is very much a PROGRESS young talent. He does flips and sells like a champ. It’s a good opponent to try and get over the newly minted heel in Davis. I already miss the London Riots. Davis’ new look, complete with Hangman Page noose has not gone over terribly well and has left him ripe for mockery. He’s fine with the leather coat and black gear. Lose the noose. No, burn the noose. If you lose it you might find it again. Davis should squash Connor here, with minimal Connor hope spots. Instead they go 50-50 and Davis looks incredibly unimportant. If anything Mills looks like the star, reveling in his opportunity for a showcase. Davis spends the match trying to show off his technical prowess, which is fine but surely that’s something you leave in your locker for a bigger match, rather than a showcase squash. Connor lands badly on his heels off a 450 attempt and James takes it with the Cobra Clutch. No doubt to be re-named for some form of strangulation. This served as a fine debut for Connor in the Ballroom. Davis treated him with far too much respect. Without Rob Lynch he’s going to struggle. *3/4
Flash Morgan Webster is here to conduct a live podcast with Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins. It’s a way of further building to their match at Alexandra Palace without having them in some random tag. I’m sure they appreciate not having to kill each other just yet. Flash has clearly thought about this and has a potted plant called Townsend. The boys tell Flash to fuck off but then hug it out. The sight of Jimmy Havoc on a chat show is something else. Haskins orders a double JD & coke from the bar. You know that’s £8 mate! Jimmy has issues with the Feng Shui of the ring set up but is fine with Haskins. It’s a funny segment with Jimmy claiming to be “perpetually sad”. Eventually they get into issues over the PROGRESS title. They all end up agreeing to work as a team, which brings out Travis Banks. They all love each other so out comes Pete Dunne to call it a “pile of shit”. Pete tries to book a triple threat tonight, as he gets to pick Travis’ opponents and he also wants to do a triple threat. Jim gets around this by booking Haskins & Havoc vs. Banks & Dunne, playa. The only issue with doing a ‘gag’ for the main event is it makes PROGRESS Chapter 54 feel like a weekly TV show not a special event.
Tyler Bate def. Kid Lykos
The participants in the tag title match at Alexandra Palace are facing each other tonight. Whoever wins each match gets to choose a stipulation for that title match. First up the junior partners. Tyler gets very upset with a “small lads wrestling” chant. Lykos tends to get pigeonholed as flier, especially as a babyface, so this is a chance for him to show his range. Tyler Bate is exceptional so Lykos just needs to hang with him to look good. The match is slick and well executed apart from a DDT counter out of the Airplane Spin, where Bate has to save it from collapsing into the ropes. It’s a good recovery but makes the spot look a little contrived.
Tyler’s best trait is being able to make any opponent look competitive against him. Whether it’s someone like Hanson from War Machine or Kid Lykos, it’s always believable. There’s not many wrestlers who can do that. Having an epic singles match with Kid Lykos, with all due respect to the smaller CCK member, is quite something. Lykos’ lucha and flying counters are beautiful. Trent Seven turns up to interfere and the Tyler Driver finishes. Usual British Strong Style bullshit aside this was excellent. ***1/2
Tyler is now able to select a stipulation for the tag title match. Trent tries to sell us on the Punjabi Prison match taking place. Instead it’s a normal two on two tag match. Falls count anywhere….in the ring.
Number One Contendership
Dahlia Black def. Jinny
Mentally I had Jinny down as PROGRESS’ first women’s champion and here is her shot to get back in contention for the belt she lost out to Toni Storm for. It’s a bit weird that Laura got a re-match but Jinny has to qualify for one. Dahlia is now a mega babyface, if she wasn’t already, thanks to TK’s injury in America. These two were friends until Jinny went after Dahlia’s bad leg in New York.
Jinny has particularly stylish ring gear this evening, which is in keeping with her character. Also going after Dahlia’s bad leg, like a dick, which is also in keeping with her character. Once they move past the injury and into the meat of the match; a back and forth striking duel, it becomes really solid. It’s two women who’ve broken into the business together, desperate to prove who’s better through elbows to the face. Dahlia maintains the selling, which is pleasant to see, at one point standing on one leg for a powerbomb (à la Brock Lesnar). She probably uses the leg too much in her offence but the intensity and harshness of the striking makes it a special match up; you can ignore little minor issues. Jinny beats the crap out of Dahlia but can’t get the pin and Dahlia sneakily rolls her up for the pin. Huge pop for Dahlia and she’ll be the fan favourite going up against Toni Storm. Poor Jinny, always the stylish bridesmaid, never the bride. ***1/4
Chris Brookes def. Trent Seven
Trent stops off pre-match to put over his performance in the Barclays Center in New York City. “You’ve all got a subscription you fucking dorks”. The promo is on point, slagging off the fans as WWE marks who take National Express coaches to shows. They tease him losing in six seconds before heading into the contest. Brookes has paid his dues across the smaller Indies and is ready for these big chances. He proved that against Zack Sabre Jr in RPW and he proves it again here, living up to the expectations with a wild PROGRESS brawl. It’s the kind of match that reminds everyone that Trent is very good at Strong Style not just the typical BSS heel shtick.
As with earlier Tyler Bate shows up to support his tag team partner. This leads to Brookes just barely surviving a low blow/piledriver combo. Tyler goes somewhat further and actually invades the ring, which is somewhat contrary to the rules of professional wrestling. Someone should get Chris Roberts the Big Book of Wrestling Rules. Tyler then demonstrates his capacity to make anyone look good by allowing Chris Roberts to throw him over the top rope. Tyler is a little miracle worker. Lykos then runs in and CCK double team for the win. This was going fantastically well until the booking stuff at the finish but for storylines purposes that was good too. Brookes grabs a microphone and tells us their stipulation will be for a ladder match at Ally Pally. Trent’s reaction shots are priceless. ***1/2
Grizzled Young Vets def. FSU
Gibson & Drake now have a team name. PROGRESS clearly see something in Drake and while his personality is flat, pairing him with Gibson could reap huge benefits if it pays off. FSU have a tidy formula based on Eddie’s hard-hitting and Andrews exciting move set. This makes them excellent opponents for the Grizzled Young Vets team as they have to do less than in their showcase debut. Unfortunately this results in some rather obvious formula and grinding heat on Andrews. Eddie is a decent hot tag but the formula is so outdated that I find it tough to sit through without mentally waiting for crucial moment. You’ve got to make that heat interesting like the Revival do. After the hot tag it all breaks down and that’s where the Vet’s start to look really good with well-timed double teaming. Why not do that during the heat? Is it deemed too exciting? Ticket to Mayhem puts Eddie away. Once they’d made it past the paint-by-numbers heat this was decent yet almost completely disposable. ***
Timothy Thatcher def. Doug Williams
When was the last time Doug wrestled for PROGRESS I hear you ask? Chapter 15. It’s been a while. That’s an absence of three years. Thatcher, and Ringkampf in general, having classical entrance music is a lesson to all. Get those classical tunes because they’re available to use without copyright. Jack Gallagher knows this.
Thatcher is built for mat wrestling. Doug was, at his peak, designed the same way. He’s older and slower now but when it comes to mat grappling there are tricks up the elder man’s sleeve. The story has Doug pulling out holds and counters but Thatcher being one step ahead of him throughout. He’s young, hungry, strong and focused. The whole point of it is to build Thatcher up before Alexandra Palace where he’ll be wrestling Matt Riddle. That said, this match is quite dull because it’s so focused on mat wrestling, which is good if you like mat wrestling but dull if you don’t. Thatcher goes after Doug’s arm throughout and wins with an armbar. This was technically sound but both men are the same style. Thatcher will be more exciting against Riddle when Matt brings his intensity and entertaining style. This was forgettable. Nice to see old man Doug get one last go around in the Ballroom though. The standing ovation he gets is genuinely lovely and a reflection of how much people love him and what he did for British wrestling. **3/4
Pete Dunne & Travis Banks def. Jimmy Havoc & Mark Haskins
This is mainly storyline with Dunne and Travis building to their Alexandra Palace match. Pete decides to leave Travis to it and heads up to commentary where he removes Callum Leslie from his seat and kicks the poor Scotsman square in the nuts.
Haskins and Havoc have issues too, thanks to them pulling each other in the way of Travis’ dives. Travis ends up working a handicap match because Pete won’t help. It doesn’t matter because Haskins and Havoc end up fighting too. The result of the match becomes completely unimportant. It’s a bizarre situation. Travis makes the most of it, looking like a star in the midst of other stars by running his Kiwi Terminator business with chairs and strikes. Dunne finally turns up to beat an already hurt Haskins with the Bitter End. This was all storyline to set up Havoc vs. Haskins and put over Pete’s smarts in wearing down Travis. ***1/4
Post Match Travis beats up Pete Dunne until Trent and Tyler make the save. #CCK then make the save for their buddy Trav. Pete’s response is to threaten to cripple Dahlia Black. This is true evil mastermind stuff where Pete crosses over into awful person territory. It makes British Strong Style more sinister than in recent months where the Triple H stuff has been a bit goofy. It’s a reminder that Pete Dunne really is a c**t, if you’ll pardon my abrasive terminology. Everyone get laid out by British Strong Style in their Ballroom finale as the companies top heels. Will British Strong Style be done after Alexandra Palace? It’s hard to say but everything has led to this point. The storyline leads to them getting their comeuppance at the biggest show of the year and when Pete loses that title the angle will have reached a point of culmination.
PROGRESS Chapter 54 was very much the lead in show for Alexandra Palace so the focus was on that show, not this one. The matches were consistently solid and nothing was bad but it lacked the a stand-out match that almost every PROGRESS show has. The chance to re-boot and try new things after Alexandra Palace should rectify this feeling of malaise that perpetuated the show, a rarity for this company.