After a successful title defense against Mark Haskins at Chapter 26, Marty Scurll has the daunting task of defending his PROGRESS Championship in the ThunderBastard. How would “The Villain” fare in a match that featured rivals like Will Ospreay and Mark Haskins and former PROGRESS champions like Mark Andrews and Rampage Brown?
The show opens up with owner Jim Smallman as always, but this time he had some very important news to tell. Smallman announced that PROGRESS would be hosting two qualifiers for WWE’s Global Cruiserweight Series on April 24th. Now of course with this show having been released after the news had already made the rounds, almost everybody who wasn’t at the show live learned quickly, but it was cool to see the crowd’s reaction to the announcement and how prideful Smallman felt. Also Smallman, wanting to let the bigger guys get in on the fun, announced a tournament to determine the inaugural holder of PROGRESS’ second singles title, the Atlas Championship. The tourney will kick off at Chapter 28.
This was a semi final match in the Natural Progression Series. With this show being done on Easter Sunday, there were some very fitting chants from the crowd in this one including “We believe”, “Judas”, and my personal favorite,”Fuck him up Jesus”. Damian Dunne is a guy I’ve always enjoyed in the times I’ve seen him. William Eaver has one of the more…interesting gimmicks in wrestling right now, but is better in the ring people might not expect. Dunne attacked Eaver before the bell even rang, but Eaver hit a forceful shoulder block and that got the match on a more level playing field. Dunne was good working on top here and managed to keep control of the match before Eaver “resurrected” and started a very Hulk Hogan like comeback that got capped off by a crossbody from the top rope. Eaver went for his Clothesline From Heaven, but Dunne countered with a knee to the face followed by a German suplex. Eaver kicked out however. Eaver eats another knee from Dunne, but he grabs a running Dunne and hits him with a backbreaker and then a fisherman suplex, but Dunne kicks out. The two start exchanging strikes. Dunne rakes the eyes of Eaver, but then gets hit with a dropkick. The Pastor goes for the Clothesline From Heaven again and again Dunne counters, this time with a super kick to an incoming Eaver. Eaver still kicks out. Dunne sprringboards off the middle rope and Eaver catches him and turns it in to a Last Supper powerbomb. Eaver finally hits the Clothesline From Heaven for the win and he moves on to the finals of the Natural Progression Series. He will face the winner of the Chapter 28 match between Damon Moser and Ashton Smith. This was a really fun match. Dunne is an effective heel and Eaver is a deceptively good babyface. Put that together with a fun crowd and good action and you get a match that’s worth watching. Don’t skip this.
If you know anything about 70s/80s British wrestling, Johnny Kidd may be a name you are familiar with so seeing him come to PROGRESS to mix it up with a young practitioner of the WoS style in Jack Gallagher is pretty sweet. If you’ve seen World Of Sport before you know how cooperative some of the grappling looks, but they make up for that by some of the more innovative holds and reversals you’ll ever see and this match had plenty of that. It was also very simply fun to watch. Whether it be Gallagher pedaling his feet in to Kidd’s chin, Gallagher using the ref to help him do a backflip, or Kidd teasing putting his thumb in Gallagher’s ass, I had a smile on my face the whole time watching this. The match gets a bit rougher down the stretch with both men busting out shoulder blocks and headbutts to the stomach. At one point the men collide in to each other and both collapse. Kidd busts out one of the smoothest backslides you’ll see anywhere, but only gets a two count. Kidd goes for another headbutt, but Gallagher counters with a sunset flip, floats over in to a bridge, and gets the win. Gallagher immediately shows his respect to Kidd after the match and the crowd chanted “Please come back”.
So Roy Johnson is now officially my favorite act in PROGRESS. Roy Johnson comes out and issues his “Wasteman Challenge” where well…either Roy rap battles someone or wrestles them. Out comes The Origin and Dave Mastiff is the one to accept the challenge. Roy isn’t really sure how to approach Mastiff who was staring a hole through him so he decides to go with the rap option. Roy got in a few jabs on Mastiff like “He says he’s an athlete, look at his tits” and as you could imagine, that line didn’t sit well with Mastiff. Roy finishes his verse and the crowd is chanting “You got served” to Mastiff. Mastiff teases doing a verse, but instead clocks Roy with the microphone. Now a match is actually under way.
Mastiff dominates Johnson for pretty much this whole match. Knee strikes, clubbing forearms, fishhooks to the mouth, and pulling Mr. Wavy by his man bun, Mastiff didn’t give Johnson any room to breathe. Johnson didn’t get much offense in and when he started to get rolling he was cut off almost immediately. Mastiff wins after launching Johnson in to the corner with a German suplex and topping it off with a cannonball senton.
After the match Mastiff makes fun of Johnson, but does tell him that when starts backing up all of the stuff he says and stops caring about the fans, then maybe he’ll go somewhere.
Mastiff then stakes his claim in wanting to be the first Atlas Champion.
This is the culmination to a feud that had been going on back in 2015, starting at Chapter 22. They play a cool video package recapping all the bad blood between the teams.
Sumerian Death Squad busts out a special gear for this match. Dante and End both come out with their faces painted and with “blood” coming from their mouthes. The entrance felt very ominous and that goes along well with the kind of violence people expect from this match.
These two teams start brawling and throwing bombs at each other as soon as the bell rings. Commentary plays up the injuries to Tommy End’s knee and Rob Lynch’s neck as things worth keeping an eye on. Chair shots galore, Dante doing a senton off the apron to one of the members of London Riots, and all members of these teams doing a lot of their signature offense early. They show no desire to climb the contract and keep their team intact, instead they are more interested in inflicting damage and setting up chair spots. I get that the feud is very hateful and the match is supposed to be a “war” between these teams, but the lack of urgency hurts the match a bit for me right here. Even with that being said, this match has been very fun to watch at this point. James Davis hits Tommy End with a tombstone piledriver from the second rope through a ladder. Dante annihilates Rob Lynch with a nasty looking half and half suplex. After checking on End, a rushing in Dante gets blasted with a chair and then gets hit with a Death Valley Driver by Lynch through a chair. Lynch gets a VERY thin looking table and you already know this isn’t going to end well. Sure enough, it didn’t as the table broke when Lynch tried to put Dante on it. This moment received a “Botchamania” chant from the crowd. London Riots get another table to do the spot with and this time the table doesn’t break when Dante is on it (much to the delight of the crowd). Rob Lynch is the one that winds up going through the table when SDS hit him with Dead Man’s Trigger.
The finish of this match is an absolute train wreck and may kill the match for people. SDS gets yet another flimsy looking table and again it looks like it will immediately collapse when they try to put a member of London Riots on it. So much so that Dante literally had to hold the bottom of the table so it didn’t break. Dante and Davis both go to the top of the ladder and start fighting it out at the top of a ladder. That sounds all well and good, except for the fact that the ladder is starting to fall apart so now there’s this extremely weird looking sequence of the ladder starting to slide down and Dante trying to stay on it. Eventually Dante falls off and goes crashing through the table. Now with their only tall ladder being messed up, the referees on the outside literally have to go in to the ring and help hold the lopsided ladder down so London Riots can climb it. Thankfully the match ends there because it could’ve gotten worse if they kept going. London Riots win and now Sumerian Death Squad can no longer team in PROGRESS.
After the match, SDS and London Riots shake hands. Tommy End then gets on the mic and talks about how the code of SDS is that respect is earned. He goes on to state that London Riots are two of the toughest men they’ve ever competed against. End then says that if they were going to lose their rights to team in PROGRESS, he’s happy it was to London Riots and they now have his respect.
If you’re a fan of car crash matches this may be something to check out even with the terrible looking ending. If you’re not a fan of the “wait while I set up my spots” style in weapon based matches with zero sense of urgency, it’d be best to avoid this.
Time for a match between two of the hottest independent names in the world right now and one of, if not THE best heel teams in all of wrestling. Commentary mentions Zack Sabre Jr. and Tommaso Ciampa’s matches against each other last year, but this is their first time teaming together.
I just love how smug The Origin is coming out to the ring, especially Nathan Cruz. Stepping on the shields, throwing their stuff at the commentators, pushing the referee, these guys are the best at playing complete pricks. As the match is about to start, the crowd showers The Origin in “wank stain” chants and comment on El Ligero’s “shitty little horns”. The Origin decide to leave the ring and go to the back. No one knows what’s going on until they see Ligero and Cruz come out with their entrance stuff on. That’s right folks, The Origin decided to make their entrance again.
Sabre Jr. and Ciampa start the match off very much in control of The Origin. Sabre used his technical prowess to tie Nathan Cruz in knots and Ciampa chopped the living hell out of Liger’s chest. Ligero throws Ciampa to the outside, but Ciampa fights off both Ligero and Cruz with strikes. Sabre Jr. then comes over and delivers a stiff kick to the chest of Cruz that the commentary team really enjoyed. Both members of The Origin are draped on the apron and Ciampa runs and hits both of them with knees to the face. We get back in the ring and now Cruz lifts Ciampa in the air to get kicked by El Ligero who is standing on the apron. They start working Ciampa over with quick tags and double team action. The Origin is in control, but Ligero takes too much time to put the middle finger up to the crowd and that gives Ciampa enough time to suplex Ligero and then make a tag to Sabre Jr. Zack comes in hot hitting El Ligero with uppercuts and knocking Cruz off the apron. He then starts manipulating and contorting Ligero’s wrist in a way we’ve seen him do time and time again. Ligero springboards, but Sabre Jr. catches him in to a Fujiwara armbar and attempts to transition that in to the Jim Breaks Special, but Cruz comes in to stop that from happening. Zack rushes in to the corner to get Ligero, but Ligero pushes the referee in his way, allowing Ligero to tag out and for Cruz to come hit a neck breaker on Sabre Jr. The Origin is really good at the execution of their heel tactics. They continue to dominate Sabre and antagonize Ciampa. They keep working on Zack until he makes the tag to Ciampa who comes in giving everyone knee strikes. When Zack gets himself together, he and Ciampa take turns with chops and kicks on Nathan Cruz in the corner. Ligero comes rushing in and he gets the same treatment. Cruz then eats a discus forearm from Ciampa and gets a penalty kick/knee strike combination too. Cruz rolls Sabre Jr up, but Sabre Jr reverses in to a pin of his own and only gets a 2 count. The Origin then hit a combination DDT and wheelbarrow suplex on Sabre Jr only for him to kick out. The Origin attempt to do the tombstone piledriver on top of the shield that allowed them to beat Mark Andrews and Eddie Dennis at Chapter 25, but the referee stops them. There’s a sequence where Ciampa hits a knee on Cruz, Ligero hits a running enziguri on Ciampa, and then Sabre Jr hits a European uppercut on Ligero. Zack holds Ciampa tries to hit Ligero with a discus clothesline, but moves and Zack winds up getting hit by it instead. Zack kicks out though. The Origin hit more offense on him, but Zack doesn’t stay down. Ciampa fights off The Origin by himself and hits Project Ciampa on Ligero. Zack follows it up with a penalty kick, but Ligero kicks out. Some great nearfalls here. Zack calls for Ciampa to go to the top rope for a double team and Ciampa obliges. Cruz puts a jacket over Ciampa’s face to keep him from doing anything. Ligero low blows Sabre Jr. when the ref isn’t looking, rolls him up, and gets the win for The Origin. Great match.
Post match Sabre Jr and Ciampa teased blowing up towards one another, but cooler heads prevailed and they hugged it out. Or so we thought. As Zack Sabre Jr made his way to the back, Ciampa came from behind the curtains and attacked him. He threw him in the ring and beat him down. He then cut a promo being sick of the fans treating Sabre Jr as god, tired of Sabre Jr stealing his spots in PWG and EVOLVE, and tired of fans calling him “the best in the world”. Ciampa demanded that a rubber match between them take place on September 25th at PROGRESS’ biggest show ever. Sabre Jr. accepted.
For those of you who have never seen a ThunderBastard match before, essentially it’s a multi-man match with timed entries a la the Royal Rumble, but eliminations are done via pinfall, submission, or disqualification.
Mark Haskins and Paul Robinson are the first two men in the match. Robinson did make sure however to go around arguing with members of the audience before he actually got in he ring. Nothing of note with these two together, but they did exchange strikes including some stiff kicks. Zack Gibson is the third entrant. He takes his time getting to the ring and argues with Mark Haskins, allowing Paul Robinson to attack Haskins from behind. Gibson and Robinson seem to have forged some kind alliance, don’t know how long that’ll last. Will Ospreay is the fourth entrant in this match and he came in hot doing a springboard spinning crossbody taking out Robinson and Gibson. Ospreay then goes at it a bit with Mark Haskins. In an interesting turn of events, Ospreay and Robinson briefly reunited their Swords Of Essex tag team to execute some double team maneuvers on Haskins. That alliance was short lived as Ospreay and Robinson went right back to fighting each other. The fifth entrant is Mark Andrews and he comes in hot with his signature high flying offense. Gibson starts working on Andrews and just as that happens, Andrew’s tag team partner Eddie Dennis comes out and he goes right at Gibson. The seventh entrant is “Flash” Morgan Webster who also comes in with some high octane offense including a double reverse Frankensteiner on Robinson and Ospreay. Morgan then does a tope to the outside. Haskins then flies out with a suicide dive. Mark Andrews and Eddie Dennis join in on the fun with dives over the top. And of course, what’s a dive party without the “Aerial Assassin”? Will Ospreay does a breath taking shooting star press on the outside to all the other competitors. The eighth entrant is Rampage Brown and he comes in on a warpath. Paul Robinson tries to meet him before he gets the ring, but got blasted with a big boot. Rampage gets in the ring and cleans house. After already deadlift powerbombing Ospreay twice, Rampage got him again and powerbombed him to the outside on to the other participants. The champion Marty Scurll is the final entrant. He sees Rampage eyeing him up and decides to wait it out at the commentary table. Robinson comes in and slaps Rampage and that only results in Robinson getting destroyed by a piledriver. Gibson throws Rampage out and steals the pin.
Paul Robinson is eliminated.
Dave Mastiff comes out and starts brawling with Rampage Brown which I can only assume is setting up an eventual clash during the Atlas Championship tournament. Then there’s a big flurry of offense from men in the match. At one point Haskins has Ospreay locked in his signature float over armbar, but Eddie Dennis breaks it up. Marty Scurll, put it perfectly “Why would he do that?”. There are few things in wrestling that annoy me more as a viewer than people breaking up pins in elimination matches. Zack Gibson throws Dennis in to the post, targeting his shoulder, then he locks in Shankly Gates and Dennis taps out.
Eddie Dennis is eliminated.
Mark Andrews is now squaring off with Gibson. Andrews does a suicide dive to Dave Mastiff. Andrews reverses a Gibson suplex attempt in to a stunner. He goes for the shooting star press, but has to fight off Mastiff. Gibson puts his knees up and puts Andrews in a small package to get the pin. Just like that both members of FSU are out if the match. Marty Scurll is loving it on commentary.
Mark Andrews is eliminated.
Webster and Gibson start trading shots. Webster is about to go for a dive to the outside, but Ospreay gets in his way. Webster and Ospreay have an exchange of amazing offense that is capped off by Webster hitting a crazy Frankensteiner on Ospreay. Webster goes for a 450 splash, but Gibson pulls Ospreay out of the way. Gibson comes in and locks in Shankly Gates on Webster and he submits. That’s four eliminations for Gibson so far.
Morgan Webster is eliminated.
Haskins, Gibson, and Rampage are all going at it now. Scurll on commentary has been excellent. Rampage hits Haskins with a Samoan Drop and Haskins starts selling the arm injury caused by Marty Scurll at Chapter 26. Haskins struggles with his arm, but he manages to hit Rampage with a roll through Samoan Driver and just like that Rampage Brown is out.
Rampage Brown is eliminated.
Immediately after that, Marty Scurll leaves the announce table and finally gets in to the ring. Like a vulture he picks the bones of Mark Haskins and swiftly makes him submit to the crossface chickenwing. Love the way Marty came across here as the smartest man in the company, biding his time and waiting for the perfect time to make a move. He knew he didn’t have to do anything so he commentated and let the other guys wear themselves out. The continuation of the Scurll and Haskins feud there was well done as well.
Mark Haskins is eliminated.
Now we’re down to Gibson, Ospreay, and Scurll and this is where the match really picks up with some jaw dropping action between the three. Everyone knows the incredible chemistry Scurll and Ospreay have, but Gibson was right there with them and added some cool stuff. A couple particular moments are when Gibson did a middle rope lung blower to Ospreay who had Scurll on his back and when he got a very innovative pinning combination on both of them when they had their arms tied up.
Ospreay and Scurll go at it themselves for a bit after. It’s the same high octane song and dance, but I never get tired of seeing it. Each time Scurll calls for the chickenwing, Ospreay stops it. They even traded each other’s signature moves with Ospreay doing the “just kidding” fake out kick and Scurll doing the Cheeky Nandos kick. Gibson gets back in to the ring and gets hit with a Spanish Fly by Ospreay for a pin.
Zack Gibson is eliminated.
Literally seconds after that Scurll sneaks up on Ospreay, rolls him up and holds the tights to win ThunderBastard and to retain the PROGRESS Championship.
The ThunderBastard match was extremely well done. Tons of action throughout. Gibson was the star of the match. He eliminated 4 men and looked credible despite receiving help from Dave Mastiff and hung on until the end with the two top guys in the company. Scurll was at his villainous best picking his spots and being a very opportunistic heel.
After the match Marty gets on the mic. He’s showered in boos and “Fuck you Marty’ chants from the crowd. He says he’s beaten all the top contenders so he won’t defend the PROGRESS Championship at Chapter 28. Jim Smallman obliges to Marty not defending the title at the next chapter, but said Marty will defend the title against Will Ospreay at WrestleCon. As I’m typing this that match already happened on April 2nd, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing it when it’s made available.
Really enjoyable show here from PROGRESS. There’s a lot to be excited about going forward. The Global Cruiserweight Series qualifiers, the Atlas Championship tournament, Super Strong Style 16 in May, Ciampa vs. Sabre Jr 3 in September, and finding whoever will be the next challenger for the PROGRESS Championship.
Chapter 28: Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want is on April 10th and you can catch a review for that show right here on Wrestling With Words when it’s put on VOD. Thanks for reading.