We’re in New Orleans, Louisiana. This show is refreshingly short, clocking in at 2h35m. Most PROGRESS shows run three hours but I’ve been hammering home a point about indie shows all year that they need to keep their run times down or suffer losing the crowd along the way.
Chapter 67: Bourbon is also a Biscuit
April 7, 2018
Pontchartrain Convention Center
New Orleans, Louisiana
Watch: Demand PROGRESS
Jim immediately addresses that the crowd isn’t as big as it was the night before as some people were at Joey Janela’s Spring Break II last night are now in a ditch somewhere.
Chris Brookes def. Rey Horus
This is the great thing about WrestleMania weekend. With all the great talents knocking around you get to see unique matches. Brookes vs. Horus is the kind of thing that might pop up in the UK at some point but it’s neat getting to see it here first. My viewing of this contest is horribly derailed by Pivotshare being a complete jerk (and it’s usually fine for me). When it stops pissing about the match dynamic becomes apparent; Brookes trying to ground Horus and out-wrestle him. Horus responding with flips and such. His corner dive over the buckles is quite something. It’s the low angle that impresses me. The match isn’t without issues and their lack of familiarity makes a few sequences a little too pre-planned with one guy waiting for the other to be in place, but luckily that’s the minority. The rest of the action is fine. Another complaint is that they don’t do much with the size difference but Brookes rarely does. Brookes is also hampered by not being able to do his finisher; the Praying Mantis Bomb, so he has to make the Octopus Stretch look tough enough to win. I don’t entirely buy into that. Either way this was a good first meeting and there’s potential for CCK to wrestle against an array of luchadores as they have a style that clicks quite nicely. Horus is going to be a useful international pick up. I hope he gets more European bookings. ***1/4
PROGRESS Women’s Championship
Toni Storm def. Mercedes Martinez
Mercedes gets a title shot thanks to beating Shazza McKenzie on Chapter 66. I thought her winning and not Jinny was odd at the time but the booking makes sense as it leads to this, rather than another brick in the road to Toni vs. Jinny. The audience is very quiet here, which is the trouble with running a lunchtime show. No one has had the chance to get drunk yet! It doesn’t help that this match is very dry with a lot of relatively aimless mat work. Mercedes is a wrestler who I’m not particularly into and every time I see her she doesn’t strengthen her case for being held in high regard. The wrestling is technically fine but nothing exciting happens. Toni is another wrestler who can’t do her finisher, the Strong Zero piledriver, in the State of Louisiana. I don’t think the crowd even realise this as her tease of Strong Zero is met with silence. So she switches to the Star Armbar, Haskins’ finish (one of them anyway) and that finishes. Toni did work the arm quite a bit to set that finish up. Match was a bit flat I’m afraid. **1/2
Austin Theory & Jinny def. Will Ospreay & Kay Lee Ray
Will has been working his ass off this weekend, pretty outstanding for a healthy man let alone someone who came into the weekend injured. So PROGRESS gave him a chance to take it easy here with a intergender tag. Jinny wants to prove a point and wears Jimmy Havoc’s mask, reminding Will of the history he has with her trainer. When Will is dismissive of this connection Jinny elbows him in the face. PROGRESS have skirted around intergender ever since debuting a women’s division (although TK Cooper has been hitting women for years) but this is a definite fully-blown intergender match. The Jinny-Ospreay stuff is probably the best action in the match. Will wants to have a little fun here so they do a voodoo doll thing. Which doesn’t all click with me until the ‘throwing the doll out of the ring’ spot. That’s great. The women have a few awkward spots, Jinny can’t seem to get those out of her system despite improving her game over the last three years. Will is happy doing funny stuff until he over rotates on a flip bump and lands on his neck, again. It’s the one throwaway match you have all weekend, just take it easy! Jinny takes an awesome bump off the Rainhammaker but picks up the win with the Makeover on KLR. Kay Lee took a great bump on that too, landing right into a pin. ***1/4
Jimmy Havoc, Mark Haskins & Flash Morgan Webster def. David Starr, Keith Lee & Matt Riddle
The Havoc, Haskins & Webster group has promise but I’m not sure what to make of it so far. The corruption of Webster is definitely something that has a lot of promise. Tonnes of talent across the ring with three of the US indies’ best. Haskins getting in Riddle’s face is great and I love Riddle’s smiling reaction. I’m also quite fond of David Starr explaining the “ooh ahh Davey Starr” chant to Riddle and Keith. Once the action gets underway; Starr vs. Haskins. Now there’s a match I want to see. I probably have already. Havoc vs. Keith Lee is genuinely good fun. The trouble with Havoc doing broad comedy all the time is it somewhat undermines the dastardly heel he’s supposed to be portraying. Anyway, everyone has a lovely time here and I smile throughout. It’s strange but when the wrestlers are actually enjoying themselves I usually am too. The three Webster headbutt spots are a major highlight. With Riddle taking it (as he doesn’t bother researching opponents), Starr knowing it and Keith completely no selling it. Starr gets isolated and the Kiss of Death finishes, with Flash adding a knee in the midst of it for good measure. This was fun! ***3/4
#1 Contendership Match
WALTER def. Zack Sabre Jr.
Two of the best wrestlers on the planet. Both with very different styles but ones that come together quite beautifully. They had a match in PWG last year that Meltzer went full boat on. They met again in EVOLVE in January this year, which was ****1/2 for me. So expectations are naturally high. They have had the chance to build the match concept over those previous encounters. Zack comes in looking to take WALTER apart with technical skill and WALTER in turn tries to overpower him. Zack is often goaded out of that by his own cockiness and when he slaps WALTER here the look of incredulity from the Atlas champ is amazing. Zack just won’t give up on that tactic though. He thinks he can enrage the big Austrian with slaps and cause WALTER to exhaust himself beating Sabre up, before drawing him into a more cunning plan to break WALTER’s arm. WALTER going to the chop well too often and therefore hurting himself is good stuff. You can see the chops do less damage the more work Sabre does on the arm. Honestly, this is just great professional wrestling. WALTER’s offence and selling alone would be brilliant but adding in Sabre’s tactics, aggression, cockiness and skill turns it into a marvellous match up. Again! My only major issue is that Sabre is a complete dope for attempting the bridging pin, knowing that WALTER isn’t that worn down and will inevitably tap him out with the Gojira Clutch! Anyway, this was fantastic. You need to see this. ****3/4
PROGRESS Tag Team Championships
Grizzled Young Veterans def. Ethan Page & Rickey Shane Page
The Pages are now claiming to be brothers. DDP is their uncle! Zack Gibson wisely stalls to get heat because having to follow that last match they need to switch gears completely otherwise they’re dead before they even start. When the match does get underway the crowd are dead and it’s impossible to follow a banger like WALTER/Sabre. Should have just called it a day and gone home. The Page boys do their best to entertain but the spot is what it is. I spent the match getting increasingly annoyed with RSP’s thigh slaps until Eddie Dennis comes out here to berate him. Not sure what purpose that serves but a distracted Rickey eats floor and Ethan takes the Ticket to Mayhem for the pin. Tricky spot for these four. Match was okay but forgettable. Eddie’s post match promo about Mark Andrews is solid but nothing new. He claims Mark was asked to be Rickey’s partner but turned it down to do Axxess. **1/2
PROGRESS World Championship
Travis Banks def. Jeff Cobb
Cobb won a terrible Thunderbastard yesterday to earn this title shot. Trav missed last night’s show with a laceration over his eye but he’s been patched up for his second title defence of the weekend. The crowd’s not very loud at this point so Travis Banks cuts a sly heel promo asking for an apology. Despite Travis’ best efforts the crowd don’t lift themselves. If Travis Banks was a break-out talent at last year’s Mania weekend this weekend has gone very different for him. It’s a shame they don’t have the crowd support because the potential for a good match is there. Travis’ ‘Big Dog’ against the power of Cobb. Sadly it all comes off a bit flat and the show peters out. Both guys try to do Roman Reigns stuff but that just gets the crowd chanting for and against Reigns, which is not what you want at an indie show. Then Travis just wins with a couple of moves and we’re done. **3/4
A poor crowd didn’t help matters but the Chapter 67 died a death after WALTER vs. Sabre Jr. It was impossible to follow that match and arguably the show had the wrong main event. Although having it this way around allowed for a confrontation between Banks and WALTER to close the show out.