PROGRESS Chapter 2: The March of PROGRESS
Watch: Demand PROGRESS
The Garage – Greater London, England
So far: Chapter 1
So, the story continues. PROGRESS Chapter One established the promotion as a one to watch on the independent scene, one could argue that they did that solely with the Scurll/Sabre Jr. match, but what does Chapter Two have in store for us? Let’s find out!
The Lion Kid vs. Stixx13:00
Okay, so Stixx looks like an absolute madman but then again, I did watch Mike Mason bark around the ring in Chapter One, so, how much more crazy can we really get here PROGRESS? Unfortunately, he ruins this facade the second he begins to speak. Lion Kid, on the other hand, is just that, a lion. The match starts and Jimmy Barnett on commentary got it spot on immediately, this is power vs. pace, as Lion Kid quickly dodges the first go of offense by Stixx, however, he then is shoulder tackled to the ground. The high-flying style of Lion Kid is rather entertaining to watch and caused somewhat of a David vs. Goliath narrative that has been used many times in wrestling, but is still a good way to create a clear heel and face in a match. The camera work for PROGRESS is somewhat lacking during a portion of this match as they seem to use a camera that is behind some fans in the crowd, making it difficult to see what’s going on in the ring, something that I mentioned in my Chapter One review, but it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come since these shows. Stixx takes control of the match with some power moves, but the crowd retorts back with a “Stixx is shit” chant. PROGRESS fans, please never change. It’s incredible how much they participate in every single match and basically just shout or chant whatever they wish, it’s a great atmosphere to watch via a screen, so I can’t imagine what it’s actually like to attend one of their shows. This may just be the opening match, but they fully get behind Lion Kid and just destroy Stixx verbally. Lion Kid does manage to make a comeback despite messing up a plancha, a dive to the outside after walking across the top rope takes out Stixx. Using the ropes to jump into Stixx, Lion Kid rolls him up with a bridge for the win. A relatively fun opening match with a clash of styles making this a back and forth of strength on display with power moves from Stixx, whilst Lion Kid has a more lucha approach with fast paced offense. Probably never going to be considered the standout match of the show but they got the crowd into it and they made it even more fun to watch.
BWC Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Mark Andrews (c) vs. Mike Hitchman14:05
Hey, Mark Andrews, I know you! Well, not personally but you know what I mean, however, here you look like you belong in a really terrible boy band or a very good Draco Malfoy cosplay–something the crowd also notice as they chant the name of Slytherin house’s evil doer. Can’t say I’m familiar with Mike Hitchman but after a quick Google search, apparently he uses a wild boar gimmick, so the animal theme continues. The PROGRESS zoo surely makes big bucks. He also has no front teeth. The second BWC Championship match on a PROGRESS Chapter, last time we saw this title it was around the waist of Xander Cooper. I have no idea how it ended up in Mark Andrews’ possession, but here we are. There’s a great little quip from Jimmy Barnett on commentary, and I quote: “Reminds me a little bit of Taz, Mike Hitchman, not in the fact that he commentates in an annoying way on TNA but in his stature”. THE SHADE OF IT ALL. Hitchman does a great job of keeping the high-flyer on the ground to limit his offense during the first stretch of this match, it also slowly starts to win the crowd over who were not cheering him from the get go. However, the Wild Boar clearly had never heard the rule that you can’t powerbomb Mark Andrews, but he soon finds out about it as his attempt at one is quickly turned into a facebuster. The back and forth between the two men is something that I appreciated as even though there is, of course, a huge size difference between the two, you never felt as if Andrews is the underdog or that he’s being bullied by Hitchman. I also really enjoyed the pace in which Hitchman is capable of moving at, especially while using numerous takedowns. I probably liked a lot more from him than I did Andrews in fact, which somewhat surprised me as I expected the opposite whilst viewing the match card. However, it is Andrews who picks up the win and retains his title via roll-up after a Trapper Keeper from Hitchman. Using of the opponents offense to get the win is something I’ve always found conflicting. Sometimes they’re really not believable at all, especially if the person has been destroyed throughout the match, however, because of that back and forth mentioned earlier, this was an okay choice for the finish. A really great undercard match that may end up surprising you with who you view as the better man coming out of it. I must see more of the Wild Boar. Post-match, former BWC champion Xander Cooper attacks Mark Andrews, solid hint for the next Chapter, though not the most subtle.
Noam Dar vs. Darrell Allen11:06
Dar has moved up the card since Chapter One as he was in the opening match with El Ligero, who we will see later on, whereas Allen was in the BWC Championship triple threat where he dislocated his shoulder and now has a strap visible to help or perhaps hinder the injured limb. Something that may be under-appreciated when it comes to Dar is just how easily he interacts with the crowd, this was a prominent part of his match from Chapter One as he had comebacks for everything the crowd was yelling at him, but even here, the chants of “England” start up immediately, due to Dar being Scottish. It’s very basic, but the fact he gets a reaction out of them from doing absolutely nothing is rather brilliant. Before the match, the promo from Darrell Allen is actually just a rerun of the now infamous Booker T promo on Hulk Hogan (yes, that one), but aimed at Dar. The match starts out with numerous holds from Dar as he tries to keep the dazzling one on the mat, including biting his wrist. I can’t imagine that tastes very nice but I’m not one to judge people’s eating habits. There are a couple of things about Darrell Allen that nag me but that could just be me being picky, but the obvious waiting of Dar to get into position whilst waiting on the top rope was a real miss for me. Luckily it was saved by Dar using this to his advantage with a dropkick. There’s a wonderful transition from an airplane spin into a northern lights suplex on Allen, followed by Dar placing his chewing gum into his mouth. Again, the eating habits thing, I won’t judge but having another person’s gum in your mouth, can’t be great. First the PROGRESS zoo, now the PROGRESS food bar. Allen gets fired up and snaps on Dar hitting him with a superkick and an enziguri that only gets him a two count. A double stomp to the knee and the champagne super knee bar from Dar puts this match to rest. I have to say, now in 2017, I haven’t seen much from Dar that I have found thoroughly entertaining, obviously, he has a lot more restrictions on him as far as how far he can go when he interacts with the crowd, etc. Here I really enjoy watching him wrestle. He’s got a really strange kind of charisma that makes him easily-disliked, yet you’re also kind of behind him and want him to win. It’s strange.
Danny Garnell vs. Jimmy Havoc11:05
Now, current Rebecca is fully aware that Jimmy Havoc is important to PROGRESS, however, I have never actually watched the full story unfold. So, this is going to be a really fun ride that I’m no doubt going to enjoy deciphering and writing about. Let’s get started on it, shall we! He also looks very different here, it caught me off guard to see him in white tights. Danny Garnell looks like he belongs in an amateur wrestling match, but he’s massive. I don’t know the reason why but Havoc has a spoon in his tights, not entirely certain it would help him at all in this match, but perhaps he thought he could bend the spoon and bash Garnell’s mind with magic. There’s some great offense from Havoc early on, but a plancha takes the match to the outside of the ring, something The Lion Kid wasn’t able to pull off earlier, but it lands here. I have previously praised the PROGRESS crowd, however, here I have to say that they really let me down by starting a “we miss Benoit” chant after Havoc uses a crossface on two occasions. But, I won’t let it deter me from enjoying this match. There are a few near falls for Garnell after a back body drop, and although he gets hit with a leaping knee, he’s smart enough to move out of the way of the second one. He then hits Havoc with a nasty looking suspended DDT off the middle rope. Havoc gets his own two count after a lungblower, but for the second and final time, the crowd start up those Benoit chants from earlier after yet another crossface. Sigh. Havoc tries to bring a steel chair into the action, but the referee puts a stop to that, he instead uses the crossface yet again, but it’s countered into a pin and Garnell gets the victory. An interesting finish to the match as the debuting Havoc takes the loss, but this could all be part of his story here in PROGRESS. Let’s hope we don’t run into those god awful chants again, as that could get really tiring really fast. Post-match, there’s some good sportsmanship from both as Havoc raises Garnell’s arm, Jim Smallman tells Havoc that he can have another chance at Chapter Three, due to the long process they went through to get him for Chapter Two, if the crowd want that. They do. The three of them then begin to spoon. How delightful.
The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) vs. The Velocity Vipers (Alex Esmail & Will Ospreay)10:19
First, the London Riots is a rather interesting name due to the location and timeframe of this show. The actual riots in London from 2011 (a year prior to this show) was a huge news story that got major coverage across the UK. It’s somewhat genius marketing until you remember that the riots started due to the controversy surrounding the nature of the death of a man by law enforcement. The pair are heavily booed because of this. A 19-year-old Will Ospreay makes his PROGRESS debut here, while I had never heard of Alex Esmail; but apparently he was in a somewhat well known British film Attack the Block. I’ve seen said film, yet I don’t recall his face. Great film by the way. Anyway, the pair don’t even get a chance to fully take in their entrance as the second they flip off the middle turnbuckle, similar to that of Brian Kendrick and Paul London, they’re attacked from behind by the London Riots. Honestly, one of the weirdest sentences I’ve ever had the pleasure of writing. Both members of the Riots look like they chow down on multiple steaks at a time, or perhaps just a cow leg each. The Velocity Vipers each receive a beatdown from the two much larger men of the opposing team, it’s brutal. As I expected, a high-flying piece of offense puts an end to their destruction as Esmail hits a tope con hilo, Ospreay recognizing that this strategy worked tries to copy his tag partner, but he gets an uppercut from Lynch instead. Ouch. A lot of this match is just the Vipers being bullied by the Riots which only adds to their already intimidating appearance. It’s probably good that Esmail has that whole acting career thing going on (if he still acts, his last appearance was in 2013) because he ends up breaking his leg in this match after over-rotating on an exploder suplex. Again, ouch. He does manage to tag in Ospreay after a brief hesitation from everyone involved and he’s taken away to be treated, leaving Will out there on his own but he enters with an amazing amount of speed. After missing a double rotation moonsault, Ospreay is hit with a huge clothesline from Lynch but it’s Davis who picks up the pinfall. The match was majorly dominated by the London Riots which I fully expected just by looking at them, but after the Esmail injury it was rather difficult to get into. Luckily they wrapped the match up pretty quickly.
PROGRESS Title #1 Contendership Three Way Match: El Ligero vs. Greg Burridge vs. RJ Singh11:03
I really like the fact that PROGRESS incorporated this stipulation into their number one contenders match, as even though just based on the names used, Ligero is the obvious winner, it adds a somewhat small uncertainty element to it that you wouldn’t get if it were a singles match. There’s something rather unappealing about Greg Burridge, it could be the fact that he decided to thrust his hips at air, or the fact he used a megaphone to shout “slags” repeatedly. This one starts out weird or rather a poor attempt at comedy, as Ligero and Burridge first get rid of Singh to the outside and then begin to throw weak kicks at each other, that is until Singh gets back into the action and the pair are forced to start taking the match a little bit more seriously. Well, briefly. Something I do not wish to see ever again is Burridge pulling furry dice out of his trunks. No thank you sir. However, watching him sell Ligero and Singh chopping said dice is rather funny. El Ligero is extremely fun to watch, he’s almost infectious. I could probably sit and watch him transition through every single move for multiple hours, I must watch more of this man. There’s a great little back and forth between Ligero and Singh that was probably one of the few moments of action from this match that I enjoyed. I honestly would have been happy just watching these two square off for the remaining time left, however, Burridge does finally make his way back into it. A springboard attempt from Ligero is halted by Burridge, whilst Burridge’s piledriver is stopped by Ligero who manages to hit a springboard DDT. He then locked in an octopus hold which is quickly ended as Ligero rolls Burridge up–after pushing him into the ropes with a handful of his trunks for the win. Cheaters way to win, but a win no less. I expected this match to go longer than it did due to it being a number one contenders match, I also thought the offense would be a lot better but it kind of fell flat. El Ligero shined throughout which shouldn’t surprise anyone but this could and should have been much better. Burridge is extremely unhappy post-match and shouts a lot of expletives that I’m not allowed to write, nor can I write the hilarious line from Jimmy Barnett on commentary due to the language used. Sad face.
PROGRESS Championship Best Two Out of Three Falls Match: Nathan Cruz (c) vs. Marty Scurll30:32
Due to the clear shenanigans of Chapter One where Scurll came incredibly close to becoming the inaugural PROGRESS Champion, it’s no surprise that he found himself in the title match for Chapter Two, and what better way to squash some beef than trying to beat your opponent not once, but twice. Nathan Cruz was somewhat of a swerve in my eyes and if you read the review of Chapter One you’d understand whym as there were some other more familiar names that probably looked more like obvious choices, but Cruz did win me over by the time we were finished, so who knows, maybe they did get it right. The match starts and straight away Cruz backs Scurll into the corner, the pair then make good use of headlock takedowns as each of them try to gain control over the other. It ends up being Scurll’s day as he kicks Cruz’s hand and tries for a number of arm bars, probably picked that up from his partner and opponent from Chapter One, Zack Sabre Jr. The match ends up on the outside of the ring as Cruz is thrown out, whilst Party Marty has a more unique way of getting out of the ring via dive, which Cruz smartly moves out of the way of. This outside offense doesn’t last long as Cruz tries for a pinfall after a backdrop suplex, but he only gets a two count. Something I’ve always appreciated in multi-fall matches is just how close they can get to it not being a three count. If someone kicks out at the last millisecond it adds so much atmosphere to the match, a good example or use of this is from the Revival vs. DIY match from NXT TakeOver: Toronto. Another great piece of crowd participation is the timer of 50 seconds on a stalling suplex from Scurll, that he was eventually unable to pull off and received a forearm for his troubles instead. Scurll was, however, capable of getting the first pinfall of the match after nailing Cruz with the Hangover. It’s incredible how impressive Scurll was already way back in 2012, but now is a much larger name in independent wrestling. Cruz gets back to his feet and we’re underway for the second fall and he immediately tries to keep Scurll on the mat, but it only leads to a back and forth of punches and a crossbody from Scurll. Once again the poor production of PROGRESS at the time manages to ruin any action that went on outside of the ring as it’s not visible at all. That cheeky little snake Cruz tries to go for a count out multiple times to pick up the second fall but Scurll makes it back into the ring just in time, every time. Scurll attempts a comeback, hitting a suplex on Cruz from the apron back into the ring and slapping the hell out of him, but it’s put to an end after Cruz hits him with a scoop tombstone piledriver which got him the second fall of the match. Marty barely makes it back to his feet to restart the match and the second the referee acknowledges the restart he falls back to the canvas. Realizing his method with the tombstone worked, Cruz attempts a second but Scurll rolls him up instead for a two count. Scurll locks in a figure four that got a great crowd reaction, not sure whether it was due to the move used or because they badly wanted to see Cruz tap out, he did not. The referee ends up getting in the way of the action and is thus knocked down and unable to keep the sly work of Cruz in check as he hits the Showstolen and tries to grab a chair from the crowd. In a rather unexpected plot twist, El Ligero, the new number one contender tries to stop Cruz from hitting good ol’ Marty with the steel by trying for a superkick. Now, of course, some shenanigans happens and Scurll ends up being hit with it instead, he shrugs his shoulders and walks off, leaving Cruz to pick up the final fall of the match. A rather exciting final match that really was well built from Chapter One, the use of El Ligero to keep Scurll winning the championship/staff was rather brilliant as now he has been cheated out of a win twice, but it also makes you really question whether Ligero is stepping away from being the good guy. I didn’t get the same vibe from Cruz that I got from Chapter One, but he kept up with Scurll and had some great back and forth with him. Credit where credit is due and all that.
I don’t think I enjoyed this show as much as Chapter One, however, this was very story heavy and builds toward future shows which is always important. An impressive show that once again only helps build PROGRESS as one of the leading British independent wrestling companies. I’ll catch you all next time when we take a look at Chapter Three.