GRAPS AND CLAPS REVIEWS: PROGRESS WRESTLING ‘1978’

Added by Andrew Ogden

Greetings Grapple Fans! Welcome to the wrestling version of the Football Pink for a run down of the full time scores from PROGRESS Wrestling’s 1978 show hailing from the Electric Ballroom Civic Hall in leafy Camden Town on a reet busy market day with many a dawdler and busker in sight.

An early start for me at 9am on the Handyrider from Rochdale Bus Station which is still situated in something called a ‘Black Box’. before taking in a stop off at the local sandwich shop for an Italian BMT special costing £3.49, I boarding the 11:15 pm British Rail VT250 at Manchester Piccadilly on what might have been the fastest 2 hour journey that the year of 1978 has ever produced, arriving in London for 13:20 pm.

As I was walking down to Camden via a passing cyclist singing along and clearly enjoying life too much, I received many a telegram from something called Twitter about an impending thunderstorm that sent many a person scattering back into their local club. On further inspection though this failed to materialise when I arrived, but it was still stiflingly hot meaning it wasn’t the day for wearing jeans to which this writer clearly failed in that department.

First pub before going into the venue was the local Rock ‘N’ Roll establishment – The Black Heart for a pint of Camden Hells costing certainly more than the 6 shilling I had paid when I last visited this establishment – now setting me back £4.80. Other ales in here were much of a muchness this time, but I did have a taster of a 6.6% strong ale that was smooth on the palate.

Deciding to shun Brewdog and their 2/3rd specials this time, I took a trip up to the Camdon Locks to the local Wetherspoons establishment for a pint of Trumans Craft Lager costing £4.49 which for a ‘Spoons drinking hole is expensive but with it being a tourist hotspot you can’t blame them. Here I met up with fellow standing ticket holders for the afternoon Carl and Phil who were my company for the afternoon, as I missed obtaining the usual Ogden Corner seats on the Ticket Hotline a month or so ago.

Drinks done, we arrived in the Electric Ballroom at 3 pm and we greeted by an array of costumes including 2 ladies who mysteriously have a resemblance to Mr & Mrs. Taff off Twitter, reports of this were later confirmed to be not true and instead it was just two old dears coming for a fun afternoon at the wrestling with handbags in tow (not filled with bricks).

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A number of changes have occurred since my last trip to the Ballroom, we now have a number of screens on the walls near the bar so even if you are walking back from the toilet you won’t miss much of the action. The sound booth which was once overlooking the ring has now been moved to a stationary position at the back facing the stage, meaning around 30/40 seats have been taken out in the cheap seats section.

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I took up my position near the stairs to the balcony for the afternoon’s grappling action which was to be presented by former PROGRESS commentator Jimmy Barnett who’s styling’s you might have heard on many a DVD produced by the company before the Tyne Tees Foghorn took over the airwaves. With a microphone that had been dropped from the ceiling, Jimmy introduced the first match of the afternoon which was a tag team contest between ‘The Mod & Rocker’ teaming of ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster & ‘The Punk Rock Cowboy’ Mark Haskins who was showing a bit of sided nipple here in his Andre The Giant style singlet they were facing ‘Grease Lightning’ Maverick Mayhew and Connor Mills in a THUNDERBASTARD League Fixture that would have many ramifications come the season ending tussle at Wembley Arena.

Mils and Mayhew who had a previous loss against Webster & Haskins were trying to avenge that defeat on this evening in Camden. Lasting just over 8 minutes this was dominated for the most part of it by Webster & Haskins who dominated their upstart opponents from the outset only for Mills and Mayhew to make a spirited comeback, with Mayhew hitting a USHI-GO-RUSHI to Webster with what looked like a match winner until Cowboy Haskins hit Mayhew with Flash’s helmet leading to a 3 count from referee Alan Parry (Paz) who had a striking resemblance to Arti Ziff from The Simpsons – you make your own judgement!

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Up next we had singles action between the spawn of World of Sport Legend Catweazle, in the form of Catweazle Jr (Chuck Mambo) facing off against a greasy misfit called Chris Only (Chris Brookes). Early shenanigans here with referee Clive Roberts (Dad of Chris) who was also channeling the spirit of World of Sport Referee, Max Ward bellowing his famous line of 1 AAAH, 2 AAAH, 3 AAAH!, not impressed Only would argue with referee only to be jokingly rolled up by Clive for a 3 count ha!!

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With shenanigans out of the way, this was probably a match of the night contender with Catweazle Jr putting in another great performance after his Zack Sabre Jr. match at SSS16, taking Only to the limit only for a dive to go a bit skewiff at the end which resulted in Only kneeing Catweazle Jr. in the face and finishing him off with a version of the Jay Driller for the victory. Only (Brookes) it has to be noted acted some sort of dead character not using many facials and played the role to perfection, this match gets a great recommendation from me to watch back on the Beta-Max when it is released in the next 6 months 🙂

3rd bout up was a Natural Progression Series Semi Final between two of the best up and comers around and for many the favourites to win this competition in the next month, this was between ‘Black Belt’ Chris Ridgeway vs ‘Peace Loving’ Drew Parker. Even though this did take a long feeling out process, with Ridgeway winning the opening exchanges making me think Parker was going to make the comeback to go on to victory, this soon turned into a really good contest with Parker hitting a Small Package Driver for a 2 count, but when he went for another one it failed as he was caught in the Choke Sleeper by Ridgeway who made his foe tapout in over 12 minutes.

Half Time Main Event time with ‘Fighting Irish’ Jordan Devlin & ‘Shiny Disco Balls’ El Phantasmo facing off against the fearsome ‘Sheepwackers’ Travis Banks & TK Cooper. If you want someone to really channel their inner Bushwacker this was TK & Travis Banks who got this absolutely spot on including Travis paying homage to Bushwacker Luke’s elimination from a Royal Rumble getting clotheslined over the top rope and then proceeding to march around the ring – this was laugh out loud funny!!

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Phantasmo in his debut for PROGRESS, was impressive in his debut – keep a look out for a great ropewalk from Phantasmo that eventually floored his victim TK Cooper. Another spot included Banks being laid across the right hand side corner for Phantasmo to perform a coast to coast to a great reaction. Cooper then was hit with a double Spanish Fly from Devlin and Phantasmo for a 2 count, but that was to be as close as ELP and Devlin would get as Phantasmo missed a Sky Twister press, to then get up and be hit with a Slice of Heaven from Banks, an Axe Kick from TK and then the match-winning Battering Ram for the 3 count. An excellent match and in my notes at the time of writing yesterday I put – ‘This Show Rules!’

After the break, during which the usual £4.90 pint of Camden Pale was had and also a purchase of a pin from all around good guy Chuck Mambo who I complimented on his match earlier in the evening. We returned with a THUNDERBASTARD League Match and a PROGRESS Tag Title Match between ‘The Kings of Europe’ Zack Gibson & James Drake facing ‘The Billabong Boys’ Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher (the latter fresh from reviewing Heidenreich tapes over the past week).

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Obviously with Liverpool’s defeats from the night before, Gibson got lots of shit and winding up from the crowd which he took very well surprisingly as it didn’t put him off leading his team on this evening to victory. This was a good match, but not as good their Sheffield contest from the back end of last year, mainly due to Kyle Fletcher who took a knock earlier in the contest mistiming a couple of maneuvers in the process of the match.

Finish came when the Aussies hit the Fidget Spinner, but they got a bit mixed up who was the legal man with Davis making this mistake, leading him to be CHEEKY ROLLED UP! by Gibson for the loss.

After the match we had an interruption by 2 Women’s wrestlers who back in 1978 London wouldn’t have been allowed to compete due to laws at the time, but seeing as Jimmy Barnett was being generous on this evening we had a contest between Nina Sparkles (Nina Samuels) vs Isla Dawn. An alright contest but more used a stop gap in the action with Sparkles getting the victory with the GTS on Dawn for the victory, the referee was Mike Fitzgerald standard of officiating (bloody hopeless).

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Semi Main Event was a clash of styles with the Flamboyant AJ Streetsmith (Jack Sexsmith) channeling his inner Adrian Street (This looked very impressive I must say) facing off against the beer drinking pride of Birmingham – Jizzy Jizbourne (Jimmy Havoc). Utter daftness this match which in all right it should have been to fit in with the show remit, we also had a rendition of the Vic Reeves classic ‘Dizzy’ from a small part of the audience close to me. Finish came here when Jizzy hit a hard looking piledriver for the victory over Streetsmith.

Main Event of the evening and bringing an end to 1978 was a match that I had seen as the curtain raiser to PCW the other week, but was the Main Event of this particular show with (Adam Brooks) as ‘King of the Bogans’ Andrew Wilmot (Gary’s Son) vs ‘Double Meat’ Popeye Mulligan (Matt Cross). This came in at nearly 20 minutes and in this writers opinion it was a tidy match but not maybe Main Event standard, I have read opinions online that some people are down on Adam Brooks as a wrestler, which I feel are unfound as I have seen him in some really good matches on shows I have seen, maybe I am missing something that other people are spotting??

Anyways the finish of this match came when Brooks was going for a destroyer on the apron (he had previously hit one in the vicinity of the ring earlier in the match to Cross), but he was thwarted on this moment as Cross hit a Death Valley Driver to daze the ‘King of the Bogans’. Soon after with his opponent dazed, Cross hit the rebound cutter for the 1-2-3 to bring the curtain down to a really fun show which was well worth the trip to Camden on this Bank Holiday Weekend!.

The trip back wasn’t so fun for me as the train got delayed halfway on its journey due to a thunderstorm of biblical proportions hitting the Midlands, meaning when I got back into Manchester at 11:02 pm I had to do my best running impression to catch the 11:12 pm bus at Shudehill, needless to say the driver of the No.17 bus did a big shit in my bin by turning the corner away from the station leaving Fat Andrew weezing and waiting for the last bus at 11:42 pm which I did get to return to Rochdale at 12:30 am.

Matches I recommend you check out on the On Demand VHS from this show – Mambo vs Brookes, Ridgeway vs Parker and the Tag Team Match between Devlin & Phantasmo vs Banks & Cooper. The next review from Graps & Claps will be from Defiant Wrestling’s show from Sheffield, written by ‘Humber’’ Correspondent Chris Wilson, I will return after that with a review of GPW’s Night To Remember which takes places on the 1st June in Hindley, plus also to cap off a busy week I will take you on a review of RISE in Leeds taking place this Saturday 2nd June with a double header and that all important Vegan Curry!

@oggypart3