Chapter 79: One Big Neck
November 26, 2018
Watch: Demand PROGRESS
Jordan Devlin def. Mark Andrews
I soured on Mark Andrews as a worker about six months ago. Something about him has changed this year and the lack of oomph in his work is further exposed by working against Devlin who has spent 2018 making the entire Irish scene his personal bitch. If I had to put money on one of them winning the prestigious WWE UK title it would be Devlin, not Andrews, which is a pretty huge switch over the Devlin who entered the WWE UK title tournament in January 2017. “The world has moved on from pop punk” says Glen Joseph, using a thinly veiled metaphor for how bored he is with Mark’s work in this match. Everything about Devlin is superior here from his timing to his aggression to his structuring. He knows when to push the pace and when to stop. It almost feels like he’s feeding Andrews his openings too. Maybe I’m being overly harsh because it always takes two to tango and it’s a good little match. Devlin picks up the win as he’s on the up. I’m really worried for Andrews and where he goes from here. He looks like he’s coasting. ***1/4
Jinny & Laura DiMatteo def. Charlie Morgan & Nina Samuels
This has been an interesting mini-angle where Laura turned heel and joined Jinny, who then decided she didn’t need her stable anymore. Jinny’s intensity is very pleasing here. She seems determined to sacrifice her body for her art and I respect that. It’s not good for her injury record but she takes sickening bumps. It was noticeable in the Mae Young and it’s noticeable here. It’s not always about what moves you can do but rather how you execute them and how you present yourself. She has great fire. The only problem with that is it shows up the babyfaces a little. This is true in the outcome too as Jinny pins Nina Samuels and the heels are victorious. Laura doesn’t seem evil and I’m still not sure why she turned again. Good effort all round here though. ***
Drew Parker vs. Jimmy Havoc
This is all about the angle with Spike Trivet running in before anything happens and the younger two double team until Chuck Mambo and William Eaver run in for the save…and both turn heel on Havoc. This is a new heel stable of young talent. It’s Glen Joseph’s wet dream; re-booking the New Blood vs. Millionaire’s Club angle from WCW! I legitimately hope that whatever the new heel kids stable is called go after the WWE signed talent next.
Jordynne Grace def. Isla Dawn
Isla Dawn, being under WWE contract, is developing before our very eyes in PROGRESS. She certainly has the kind of entrance that looks like it’s been rehearsed in front of a WWE official with a clipboard. It’s a compliment, honestly! It’s polished. Grace is the product of hard work and indie dates. She doesn’t have the look or the poses but she’ll fuck you up. Isla certainly gets a lesson in being fucked up. Isla has actually been wrestling for five years so Grace only has one year on her but her more storied ‘upbringing’ gives her a better rounding. They have a great finish here where Isla gets mangled by the bearhug, showing off the difference in size and power, and has to tap out. **1/2
Trent Seven def. Kyle Fletcher
Kyle has legitimately put on a lot of weight this year so I can believe he’s crept over 205lbs. The bigger point is this: does the Atlas division serve any purpose anymore? I like how they played on the idea of the bigger lads needing their own division, a spin on the cruisers in WWE back in the day, but it’s been played out since Matt Riddle won it. Ever since then it’s been a secondary title and nothing more. This match serves as Kyle putting the heavyweight scene on notice. I’ve seen him pin WALTER; he means business. Keep in mind that Fletcher, who finished school and moved to England, is still barely an adult and still growing. He puts Trent’s dad bod to shame, that’s for sure. They both do a good job of selling and hitting each other really hard. Kyle’s chest gets wrecked by Trent’s chops and they go to war. It’s the first time on the show that a match feels substantial. It’s nicely paced too. Starting with big hits going back and forth before quickening into a false finishes super-indie effort. It’s been a while since Trent worked with that kind of urgency in singles. It’s like an audition for Kyle Fletcher as a top tier singles worker too. He’s improved so much in 2018. Who knows how good he’ll be in a year? The way he casually catches Trent’s flying crossbody is magic and his assaults on Trent’s injured wheel show a level of intelligence on top of his athleticism and newly found strength. Fletcher comes into the match with a bad leg and it doesn’t play into the flow very often but it does at the finish where Trent submits him with the Figure Four. I like Trent using an assortment of old school finishes as champion. Kyle Fletcher looked great here. He’s gone from being a prospect to being a star. He’s shown it in tags many times but to put it all together in a big singles match showed he’s ready for a push. ****
Anti-Fun Police (Santos & Dunne) def. Team Tremendous
The joke is that they’re all cops. ATF do an excellent job of bringing comedy overselling and Santos Jr in particular has been doing good with invisible firearms for a while. A crew member is gunned down and everyone hides their invisible guns in the crowd to avoid an incident. The crowd, not being narcs, saw nothing. Is not calling the cops on cops a Tory thing to do or not? Santos’ unique combination of big man lucha and character work makes him the stand out guy in this match. He gets me invested in feuds in a way that a lot of wrestlers don’t. I heard rave reviews about how funny this match was but honestly it was below the ATF police work that I see them doing all the time in ATTACK! or Rev Pro. Was it fun-ah? Sure, but I’m unlikely to remember it tomorrow. **
Eddie Dennis def. Mark Haskins
Eddie has a title shot lined up, Haskins just came up short against WALTER. Glen notes the crowd are pro-Eddie now but they’ve been cheering him for months because he was right and everything he said about Mark Andrews was true. Haskins, since getting away from Havoc, has shown signs of life. He’s got that fire back and looks determined to re-establish himself as a top guy in BritWres. Certainly with the NXT contract situation he has a shot at getting booked as a top guy in more places. Eddie Dennis is a better talker than a wrestler but he’s solid here. Mainly because he’s working against a fantastic worker in Haskins and it’s difficult to look bad in such a scenario. Haskins’ mat work, and his transitions, are especially good. All designed to cut the bigger opponent down to size. Eddie doesn’t impress me with his offence, including a particularly sloppy powerbomb into the buckles, which looks worse on a Mark Haskins who has a historically bad neck. Haskins, to his credit, makes a point of working the neck into his moves. Stopping in mid Sharpshooter at one point to grab at the injured body part. They stick to their pre-match plan but Haskins’ brings a little extra subtle selling to the situation. It just gives the match a little extra zing. Haskins goes for the Star Armbar but Eddie blocks it right into a crucifix pin. Haskins looked wonderful here. ***1/2
he big story here is the young lads (Drew Parker etc) running in to give Haskins and Dennis a kicking. Millionaire’s Club vs. New Blood!
Travis Banks def. David Starr
Starr is angry with Travis for interfering in the Starr/Dragunov match. This is Travis’ first match back in PROGRESS but he actually returned to the ring around six weeks prior to this following a three month layoff. You’d think absence would make the heart grow fond but the crowd hate Travis. His response is to act like an absolute dick. He puts a beating on Starr and it is reciprocated. Starr has gotten really good at trading on strikes and going to war with the more heavy hitting boys and that’s also been Banks’ strength over the past few years. I like that they skip over any pretence of technical work, due to Starr’s irritation at Travis and Banks taking his frustration with the crowd out on Starr. The match only has one gear; smashmouth! Travis picks up the win with Slice of Heaven, catching Starr charging across the ring intent on delivering another one of his lariats. Good main event. I enjoyed the intensity here as well. ***3/4
PROGRESS are a promotion that has consistently good in-ring and this show was no exception. While it wasn’t all killer, no filler it was almost all enjoyable. The Team Tremendous match didn’t click with me for whatever reason but the workrate matches were all strong. I thought Kyle Fletcher was the stand out wrestler on this show. He’s come on leaps and bounds since arriving in the UK and his improvement continues unabated. Good job from Trent Seven also, it’s easy to forget he used to be a workhorse. He didn’t rely on any veteran tricks today. It was all effort.
Also it was nice to see PROGRESS attempt something new with the New Blood angle. They’ll need to do something meaningful in matches if they want to be taken seriously. Whenever you introduce a new faction there is an issue with them being seen as inferior as they’re less over than the established guys. All those guys have had an ‘undercard’ vibe about them for quite some time.