Chapter 65: Have Some Faith In The Sound
Camden, Greater London, England, UK
Watch: Demand Progress
We’re in Camden, London at the Electric Ballroom. I’m having a horrendous year for missing shows and this was yet another one that I had a ticket to and failed to make. My new year resolution was to not miss any shows I had tickets to. I have failed miserably. This show kicks off with a shill for Europe’s biggest pro wrestling tournament. 16 Carat? Oh no, it’s Super Strong Style 16. May 5-7. Looking forward to that. Host in the ring is Jim Smallman, to remind us Progress is 6 years old. Commentary comes from Glen Joseph and Dahlia Black.
Rob Lynch def. Doug Williams
This is Rob’s first Chapter show since July 2017. Obviously issues have occurred with James Davis now a persona non grata in most reputable companies due to his despicable behaviour outside of the ring. They’ll never get to blow off that feud but let’s face it, Rob was always the talented one. He’s the guy that stood up to the Big Lads division and fitted in there against the biggest talents in the business. This match is here to show off Rob’s mat technique. I keep wanting Progress to pull the trigger on a Doug ‘one last big run’ storyline but it doesn’t seem to be happening, which makes his promo from last year seem weird (the “I don’t know if I can do this anymore” one). This match is fine although it’s perhaps not the hot opener the crowd need. They’re still involved and seem to enjoy it so it’s not an issue. Rob takes it with a Spear, which unfortunately the camera almost misses. The problem with these power zooms (Hi Al) is that if you’re too close you miss the big picture. **3/4
Charlie Morgan def. Millie McKenzie, Chakara & Martina
This match originally featured Killer Kelly making her Progress debut but she needed stitches over her eye after taking a rough bump against Millie at wXw in London and she’s not cleared. It’s a pity because Kelly is a tremendous prospect and you can see how good she is based on how many different promotions are trying to get her. Kelly’s replacement is Charlie Morgan, thus turning this into a virtual tag match as Morgan and Chakara are both in the House of Couture. Martina’s entrance, with the glow sticks, is pretty cool. Especially as they come raining down on the ring afterwards. Jinny’s reaction to that is beautiful. I’m also very happy with Martina offering Chakara a beer and her saying “I’m 17”.
As good as Martina is as a character, her in-ring is so bad. It improved a little last year but it’s fallen off a cliff again. Her strikes in this are badly timed and I feel bad for the other three having to work with her. It’s a good job all her shtick works because without it she would be screwed. Honestly, I can’t tell if her work here is a shambles on purpose or whether she’s just that terrible. She’ll get laughs in Japan. The two factions get into it because only one person can win. Despite Martina’s shenanigans Millie is the most over woman in the match and her work is the best stuff. House of Couture pick her off and Charlie pins Millie with the elevated DDT. Chakara making a point of standing back and allowing the pin for the greater good of the House of Couture. This is a bit weird as Charlie was the sub. Who was due to actually win? **
Chris Brookes def. TK Cooper
Brookes tweeted out the day of the show that he was going to “remove TK Cooper’s teeth”.
Had a lovely weekend thus far but now I’m afraid it’s time for me to remove TK Cooper’s teeth.
— Chris Brookes (@OBEYBrookes) March 25, 2018
Dahlia sounds surprisingly neutral considering her boyfriend is getting a shoeing and Kid Lykos is interfering. The no DQ stipulation means they murder each other with foreign objects. This feud has been heated up nicely with the interaction between Travis Banks and both men. It probably hasn’t helped that the title has been involved. It might have worked better without it. The trouble with no DQ matches is the search for weaponry and TK spends forever trying to find his props. The handcuffs/stapler/8×10 search takes way too long. Get the handcuffs first! Then he can’t move. Brookes comes through on his promise to remove TK’s teeth as he comes after him with a claw hammer. The match escalates from disgusting spots to insane spots with the Spanish Fly off the apron through a table. My word, that’s a crazy spot. It also gets more personal with TK attacking Lykos. That’s not a nice thing to do. Sure, Lykos is basically an irritant at ringside but he’s mostly harmless. It’s notable that TK gets booed more for that than anything else in the match. They up the ante with a superplex into thumbtacks, which leaves Brookes resembling a pincushion. This is a sick match. There are so many tacks that every move is into thumbtacks after that. TK taps to the Octopus Stretch after surviving the Praying Mantis Bomb. The final crank on that arm leaves Dahlia concerned as it looked like TK had genuinely hurt his shoulder. If it wasn’t for TK’s bizarre search of the building for weapons this would have cracked four stars. Good stuff. ***3/4
Progress Atlas Championship
WALTER (c) def. Rampage Brown
This is a good idea. Rampage lost the belt to Riddle over a year ago and has been a bit of a non-factor since. It’s nice to see him back and the WALTER match is one I’ve wanted for some time. They wrestled in Progress before, breaking the ring with their sheer size. Small ring. Big Lads. These two just maul each other. I do like that Rampage is able to back WALTER up a bit. Is there anyone out there who can dominate WALTER though? WALTER has crushed the likes of Mark Davis and Tim Thatcher. Big terrifying guys who boss everyone else. Same happens here. Who can Progress get to challenge this man? Who can beat WALTER? The idea that Rampage was in the same ball park is dismissed by the match structure. He tries to rough WALTER up and fails. The dynamic of the match does create some lovely hope spots. Whenever Rampage lands big it creates the illusion that WALTER might be fallible. The way WALTER hits back is incredible. You cannot break WALTER! The chops, boots and clotheslines in this match are sensational. Rampage doesn’t submit to the Gojira Clutch but passes out in the hold. WALTER retains! Another barnburner from WALTER in a series of them. He may be the best champion in wrestling right now. The string of big lads being destroyed by him is a thing of beauty. ****
Natural Progression Series V
Danny Duggan def. Danny Jones
Danny Jones is from Wales, he’s been on tour with All Japan so he’s already quite progressed but he’s still young. Duggan first wrestled for Progress in 2014 but has never made it off ENDVR/PTNTL/Freedoms Road etc. He’s a regular in IPW:UK. He’s probably best known for his run with Cieran Donnelly as DND. The duelling, and genuinely enthusiastic, “let’s go Danny” chants are Progress fans in a nutshell. Whether that’s good or bad is up to you. I personally love the atmosphere at Progress but I’m aware that some people don’t like it. I’d rather have daft noise than silence, which is how this match (between two relative newcomers without established characters) would be received otherwise. The boys opt to have a traditional old school match, complete with all the basics and Jones working the injured knee of Duggan. Which would be fine it if was all clean as a whistle but it isn’t. Jones mistimes a jump and they have another awkward sequence right after that. Plus the storyline here is that Eddie Dennis comes down to distract/support Danny Jones, an extension of his issues with Mark Andrews. Hoping to gain Jones as a replacement for Mark. Duggan promptly rolls Jones up for the win and a very flat finish. The basic match was designed to not overshadow the angle, rendering this skippable. The post match angle where Eddie rants about Mark Andrews letting Jones down by not being here is superb. The way Eddie’s promo have crafted the relationships between the Welsh lads is a work of art. **1/4
Progress Wrestling Tag Team Championship
Grizzled Young Vets (c) def. Sexy Starr and Jimmy Havoc & Mark Haskins
The match is under elimination rules. The booking of the tag division has been really weird lately. Progress have built up two big heel teams and had them trade the belt. Gibson is the top heel here, there’s no doubt about that. The way he steals the microphone in the middle of Starr’s introduction draws amazing heat. Gibson draws so much heat that nobody needs to try all that hard. They can just bask in the hate. Booing Gibson is one of my favourite things to do as a fan. Something that has started to irk me in these multi0tags is two guys pinning at the same time. That’s not a legal pin! Don’t count it Roberts! Grizzled Young Vets bring the best team work, as they’re the most serious about tag teaming. The others do stuff as a team but it’s less polished. One hidden gem here is that Haskins vs. Starr is smooth as silk. I want that singles match. The chaotic nature of the three teams means a flurry of spots and nothing resembling an actual tag match. BDSM sends Havoc packing and Sexy Starr eliminate the former champs. Jimmy Havoc’s stock in Progress has fallen a long way. Basically if you don’t move on (like Tommy End, Marty Scurll, Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Jr, etc) there’s only so much Progress can do with you. Jimmy already had the big run, both as a face and heel. Havoc does prevent a belt change by pulling Roberts out with Drake pinned. They do some good near falls with the tease of a title switch. The pacing is absolutely frenetic and perhaps this should have been GYV vs. Sexy Starr from the get go. Everyone looks sensational. Ticket to Mayhem puts Starr away. ***3/4
The May 27 2018 Camden show is taking place in 1978. Jim’s description of what they’re planning makes me intrigued. I was only 2 years old at the time.
Progress Wrestling World Championship
Travis Banks (c) def. Flash Morgan Webster
Flash, who hinted at a heel turn on the last show, comes out here with Vickie Haskins. Flash promptly asks her to leave, as he’s going to do this his way. After the last show I said I felt Travis was done as a babyface champion and he definitely faces a mixed reaction here. He still has supporters but there’s a significant section of the audience that are tired of him in this spot. His first spot in this match is doing the Roman Reigns Superman punch. Little arm cock and everything. His performance here is rooted in the cockiness that it takes to do that. The support evaporates, leaving a smattering of applause for his actions and a general feeling of contempt from everyone else. Keir was right, lads. His approach to the match allows Flash to look thrilling by comparison, although the match is storyline heavy so I can see why some people didn’t like it live. Flash’s offence is like a mirror of Travis’ most spirited offence. His crazy topes are Banks at his fiery best. The only trouble is it takes too long to get there. They take a long time building Travis’ character as a bad guy when he did that with the first move of the match.
The other thing I’m not keen on is the ref bump. It’s a necessity to the story of the match but I always think ref bumps are weird. TK Cooper runs down to take advantage and hit the Spear on Flash. Have the South Pacific lads been watching a lot of Roman Reigns stuff? Shadows over Malice still gives Flash the pin and the title but Travis’ foot was on the ropes and Roberts, the replacement ref, didn’t see it because he sucks. Paz did though and he was the actual official. It’s a Dusty Finish.
Travis has accepted the loss and is actually backstage when the official announcement is rendered. Travis comes back down and wins with a roll up to a chorus of boos. The match was a necessary evil to go from babyface champion who people are sick of to dickhead heel champion who everyone hate and want to see lose.
"Thank you for your continued support for my title reign" – Travis Banks
Genuinely laughed out loud. pic.twitter.com/m2Pf3Vnx4H
— Absolute Arnie (@ArnoldFurious) April 2, 2018
He even asks for a “Trav is our champion” chant. It’s beautiful work. “Progress is my yard now”. He then claims to be unbeatable and out comes WALTER! Deluded Travis Banks is suddenly my favourite Travis Banks. ***1/2
Video Control follows Flash backstage to reveal his brief title glory has caused him to want more and he joins Havoc & Haskins. “Why him? Why not someone good?” says Haskins after Webster has left. Intrigue!
There was a lot of good stuff on this show, far more than I was expecting after relatively negative reviews from people who were there live. Increasingly Progress are in a spot where not every show can be killer, as they need to build to things. That was the case here, although there were still some very good matches in the middle of the card. There’s also a concern that Travis winning with a dodgy finish is reminiscent of all those Pete Dunne finishes, and all those Marty Scurll finishes before them. It’s tough to appease fans though as Travis has basically won clean for 200 days and people hate him for it. Travis killed it here, especially after the match. His mannerisms and facial reactions were near perfect. Plus Flash Morgan Webster lived up to expectations as his opponent. Travis was kind to him and let Flash steal the show.
Progress has a tonne of things coming up (NOLA, Australia, SSS16, Victoria Warehouse, Wembley). I’m excited to see what happens over the summer months.