The Electric Ballroom, Camden
“Just Because You’re Paranoid, Doesn’t Mean They Aren’t Out To Get You”
Time seems to pass so slowly between PROGRESS Chapters, but at last PROGRESS weekend is here and this Sunday at The Electric Ballroom in Camden seven hundred or so fans lucky enough to have secured a ticket get another taste of PROGRESS Wrestling. The card is suitably stacked for the company’s fifteenth straight sell-out event, with some important match-ups that will not only dictate the future of individual careers, but also have big ramifications for the promotion as a whole. The PROGRESS staff and shield are on the line, as well as a career or two, in a frankly mad eight-man tag main event, plus we get two important number one contender battles and the first semi-final in the second Natural Progression Tournament. There’s seven big matches to get through, so cracking on…
1. ‘No Gimmicks Required’ Michael Gilbert vs RJ Singh
The perpetually dour Michael Gilbert continues his ‘no fun allowed’ campaign, having already dispatched ‘The World’s Biggest Luchador’ Eddie Dennis & the very appropriately titled Mad Man Manson. This time around he takes on one-half of the Bhangra Knights, the ever-popular RJ Singh. Gilbert is all about technicality in the ring, but RJ (while no slouch himself) favours a more high-flying style that undoubtedly Gilbert will not approve of. However, while Singh does give up a lot of weight to his larger opponent, Gilbert may not find him so easy to push around, especially if Gilbert’s usual contempt for his opponent turns into over-confidence. The fans will be pulling for a Singh victory here, but Gilbert’s proven himself to be a dangerous individual who can end a match-up at any moment, so RJ will have to be on his toes if he’s to stand a chance of defeating Gilbert.
2. Pastor William Eaver vs ‘The Heavyweight House of Pain’ Stixx
After an impressive debut at Chapter 15 (winning a 3-way match that pitted PROGRESS students against one another) the Pastor William Eaver, long of beard & robe, gets a big opportunity here as he faces off against ‘The Heavyweight House of Pain’, Stixx. The big veteran has proven to be a formidable force in the past, but hasn’t managed to score a victory in PROGRESS since September of last year and will be determined to get himself back into winning form. Suffice to say, the Pastor faces a big challenge here, but what a feather it would be in his cap if he could put away such a seasoned competitor as Stixx.
3. Screw Indy Wrestling (Mark Haskins & Sha Samuels) vs Project Ego (Martin Kirby & ???)
Project Ego find themselves understaffed as Kris Travis is unable to attend due to illness, so Martin Kirby’s lined up a mystery partner! Project Ego has had problems with Screw Indy Wrestling in the past as the two teams vied to become the inaugural PROGRESS Tag Champions and again as Martin Kirby recently faced Mark Haskins in a losing effort at Chapter 14. Screw Indy Wrestling, meanwhile, have had a change in line-up, with Rampage Brown seemingly leaving the fold and Sha Samuels joining the group. With the identity of Kirby’s mystery partner being kept under wraps, it’s hard to know what to expect from this one, but given the talent of the three men already involved it should make for an exciting tag team encounter.
4. Natural Progression Series II – Semi-Final #1: ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster vs ‘Dynamite’ Pete Dunne
The Natural Progression Series has been a big hit with PROGRESS fans so far, providing a great showcase for some of the best young wrestling talent in Britain today. This year’s tournament has been no exception and two of the best talents on display so far have been ‘Dynamite’ Pete Dunne and ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster. Dunne, fresh off a US tour of promotions such as AIW, AAW & CHIKARA, made his way to the semi-finals after defeating Robbie X at Chapter 13, while Webster put away Josh Bodom in a great contest at Chapter 11 to earn his place in this match. Both men are making a great name for themselves in the British wrestling scene and it should be an exciting match-up when they meet in the ring this Sunday.
5. Number One Contenders Match: El Ligero vs ‘The Bastard’ Dave Mastiff vs ‘The F’n Guvnor’ Martin Stone
Management decided that at Chapter 16 the PROGRESS Champion (the nefarious Jimmy Havoc, should he still hold his title) would defend his title against not one, but two competitors, so two number one contenders have to be found. To that end, we have two big 3-way matches on the card. The first of which features a former PROGRESS Champion, ‘The Mexican Sensation’ El Ligero, and a veteran getting a big opportunity on his début, ‘The F’n Guvnor’ Martin Stone. It also features ‘The Bastard’ Dave Mastiff, one of the most intimidating figures on the PROGRESS roster and a big fan favourite. Mastiff has had his chances at the title before, losing to then-Champion El Ligero back at Chapter 5, and will be eager to get back in the title picture, much as Ligero will be looking to earn a shot at the title he lost to Havoc. The addition of a well travelled veteran like Martin Stone to the mix will surely make for an exciting match-up and intriguing mix of styles.
6. Number One Contenders Match: Zack Sabre Jr. vs Rampage Brown vs ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The second number one contenders match features another former Champion, Rampage Brown, taking on two long-time tag partners in the LDRS of the New School, Zack Sabre Jr. and ‘Party’ Marty Scurll. Rampage, once aligned with Screw Indy Wrestling, has managed to win the fans over after some exceptional performances and although he lost to Samoa Joe at Chapter 14, he was offered a place in this match if he agreed to disavow his former team mates. Meanwhile, Zack Sabre Jr. and ‘Party’ Marty Scurll are two of the best wrestling talents in the UK today, entirely deserving of a chance at the PROGRESS title in spite of some recent losses. Both have had a crack at Havoc’s title in the past and both came up short, Havoc barely escaping by the skin of his teeth. Both men will be as eager as Rampage to get their hands on Havoc again, but it will be interesting to see if their friendship as tag partners comes into play at all, either to Rampage’s benefit or detriment.
7. Careers vs Titles: Noam Dar, Will Ospreay & F.S.U. (Mark Andrews & Eddie Dennis) vs Regression (Jimmy Havoc, The London Riots & Paul Robinson)
After Jimmy Havoc’s cheating ways and the constant interference of his Regression team-mates saw him leave Chapter 14 with the Championship still in his possession PROGRESS management decided something had to be done and, as a result, created an epic 8-man tag match with some serious implications. If PROGRESS Champion Jimmy Havoc or PROGRESS Tag Champions F.S.U. are pinned or forced to submit, they lose their titles. If THUNDERBASTARD winner Will Ospreay is pinned or forced to submit, he loses his guaranteed title shot. However, arguably those with most to lose are Noam Dar, Paul Robinson & The London Riots, as if any of these four men are pinned or forced to submit they will be made to leave PROGRESS Wrestling for good. The stakes have certainly been raised for this one and, while fans will be eager to see Havoc & Regression punished for their actions over the course of the last year or so, there’s good reason to be apprehensive of the outcome should Havoc and his cronies emerge victorious.