Hello and welcome everyone to another edition of Graps and Claps this week taking me to the O2 Academy in Sheffield for PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 71 ‘A Feeling Called Progress’. This was Progress’s return to Sheffield after the snow of doom hit in December shelving a number of wrestlers that day and in turn serving up a very random collection of wrestlers to produce a really good show out of nothing.
We are now 3 months away from the big show at Wembley Arena and already a lot of the pieces in the puzzle are being put together with at a count yesterday in the pub beforehand, at least 5/6 matches are near enough set in stone but only the Tag Team THUNDERBASTARD and Ilja/Dunne officially announced.
Walter vs Travis Banks vs Zack Sabre Jr.
Eddie Dennis vs Mark Andrews
Will Ospreay vs Jimmy Havoc
Jinny vs Toni Storm
On paper that card could be one of blow away proportions and in PROGRESS’s defence they have built a lot of the perspective matches up well to this point, but as seen with the June – August slump last year on the way to Ally Pally anything can still go awry.
Before the travel to Sheffield, I took to the Manchester Arndale food court for a bit of a early dinner at Chopstixx, a Chinese fast food joint offering anything from Prawn Toast to a 3 toppings of your choice box meal which is basically a range of Chinese Chicken dishes served with egg fried rice or noodles. For the 3 toppings with noodles it cost £7.50 and was very filling but some of the chicken pieces did come across as a bit dry which brought it down to a 6/10 rating for this writer.
Walking up to Manchester Piccadilly station through the array of Parklife stragglers in the short shorts seen since Shawn Michael’s budgie smugglers on RAW all them years ago. Before the 12:19 pm train I had a pint at the fake ‘Spoons on the upper deck at the station, this place has just undergone a refurbishment and with that an extra 50p on a pint with a pint of Heineken costing £5.10.
Drinks done we took the train with another half a dozen like minded wrestling fans to Sheffield on a glorious Sunday afternoon. Arriving in Sheffield we took in a new pub to this blog – The Roebuck Tavern which is just off the main shopping street in Sheffield City Centre. A good beer garden area was on offer to take advantage of the sun on this afternoon, drinks selection in this pub was a total of 6 cask ales mainly of the pale ale variety costing £3.60 for a pint which is reasonable in the current drinking climate. I had a pint of 4.2% Kingston stout which had a sharp taste of ginger to add to the smooth texture of the drink – good pint! Also I had a pint of 3.7% Pale Ale which from the notes on the bar said ‘perfect as a session ale’, a statement which I tend to agree with. This is certainly a pub I would visit again when visiting Sheffield in the future.
With the time approaching 2:20 pm, we made a move to the venue and were soon greeted with a huge queue of people outside of the venue which was to be expected as this show was a 900 strong sell out, showing that the people of Sheffield have embraced the PROGRESS product in the relatively small appearances that the company has done in this city.
Taking our positions at the back of the room, we were greeted with the sounds of ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ for the return of Jim Smallman to announcing duties after the successful dulcet tones of Jimmy Barnett being on parade at the last Camden show. With the pleasantry’s out of the way, the Irish toe tapping tune ‘C’est La Vie’ blared over the sound system to bring out the returning Nixon Newell to a great ovation. Sadly for Nixon the planned match she was supposed to have with Jinny later on in the show was put paid to the night before when Nixon re-injured her knee during an NXT show at the Download Music Festival.
Nixon however did have a replacement to on Jinny and it was none other than Dakota Kai who is fresh from running scared of Shayna Baszler on NXT tv over the past few weeks. This surprise didn’t kind of get spoiled by Athers on the way to the pub as he had seen Nixon walking up to the venue with Dakota Kai.
With the new Main Event confirmed, we moved on to the first contest of the evening which was a No.1 Contenders match for the ATLAS Title currently held by Doug Williams. This match was between two wrestlers more known for there Tag Team work than there singles work with Damien Corvin of the Kings of the North vs Michael Dante formerly of the Sumerian Death Squad. A fairly rapid opener here only lasting just over 5 minutes with the bulk of the offence coming from Corvin who tried to catch his opponent on the hop with a huge dive to the outside flooring Dante. Back in the ring Corvin hit an elevated cutter for a close 2 fall, but that was as good as it got for Corvin who took his eye off the ball and was floored with a spear from Dante for the 1-2-3. A bit of a flat opener in this writer’s opinion, but I can only see Dante vs Doug being a one off match and nothing more long term..
Second match was a THUDERBASTARD league match between The Anti-Fun Police (Santos Jr. & Damien Dunne) vs The Hairbrush Gang (Mark Haskins & Flash Morgan Webster). With Haskins & Webster coming out to the tune ‘Fuck The Police’ initially they were positioned as the defacto good guys in this contest which is a bit head scratching given that they have been the bad guys for the past 6 months, add in some early dance moves from Webster and you were wondering if the past had been erased and we woke up in an alternate universe.
The bulk of the match was Webster & Haskins wearing down Dunne until big Santos Jr. came in the ring on a number of occasions throwing his weight around and to great effect, call me silly but I think Santos Jr. could be a possible ATLAS contender if they have no one else for the champion at the time. Sadly for Santos it all went wrong as Chris Roberts was distracted by Vicky Haskins, Santos got booted in the nuts by Flash Morgan Webster leaving him to be rolled up by Mark Haskins for the loss and in turn Haskins & Webster reverting back to skullduggery. Another just OK match, I did expect a bit more comedy with Santos Jr. after last time but alas not.
A step up in the action next with a Natural Progression Series Semi Final between Danny Duggan (Jim’s son) vs Dunkzilla Mark Davis. Now on paper I expected this to be fairly one sided mainly due to Duggan’s last appearance in PROGRESS being the disappointing opening round contest against Danny Jones that went down like a wet fart in church. Well hindsight was very wrong, as once it got going from a slow start this turned into an excellent contest with one of the nearest 2.99 counts you will ever see when Duggan hit a sit out powerbomb, the reaction from the crowd here was great. With his chest bleeding from the big pan handles of Davis, Duggan was put out his misery by a big right hand from the Aussie Slugger and going through to the Natural Progression Series Final at a later date against Chris Ridgeway which should be a cracker!
Half Time Main Event next with Spike Trivet returning to the scene of spitting Champagne at Graps and Claps columnist Ben Corrigan’s face, facing off against Jimmy Havoc who was looking to build momentum on his way to his impending clash with Will Ospreay. In this writers’ opinion, I was thinking that this was to be a 1 sided dicking from Havoc to Trivet making Jimmy look like he was on his way back to his old self and not the shades of Harry Redknapp that has prevalent over the last year or so.
Early stages of this match took to the outside with both Trivet and Havoc being chucked through chairs at the ringside area, Trivet came back and stapled a £10 note to Jimmy’s cheek (If this wasn’t a wild brawl I would have ran over and took the tenner for myself when it got dropped on the floor). Back in the ring Trivet introduced scissors to the match trying to cut up Havoc to ribbons, eliciting the chant from the crowd of:
‘SAME OLD TORIES, ALWAYS CUTTING!’.
With a bloody Havoc being hung up in the corner, Trivet took a seat and started to paint a picture with Havoc’s blood, needless to say Neil Buchanan and Tony Hart have nothing to worry about in the painting stakes, nonetheless an excellent spot so thumbs up to whoever thought this up. It soon got worse for Havoc who despite trying to make a spirited comeback was hit with 4 chair shots to the head by Trivet for the surprise defeat in around 15 minutes. A good match in the Death match style of wrestling, but with my initial feeling about the match the first thing I wrote down on my notes at the time was was ‘Baffling’ with regards to the result. On further reflection though I do see the point of a beaten down Jimmy looking vulnerable along the way to facing Ospreay which could be interesting to see this side of Jimmy.
After a 20 minute break and a hug from Mr & Mrs Taff, I took up my position again at the back of the room and we started the second half of action with a battle of Rodney Trotter proportions with Angelico vs Chris Brookes. Angelico early on tried to hit his customary dive to the floor to Brookes, it failed originally at the first attempt but he did eventually get to hit it, an alright match ended when Brookes caught a flying Angelico with a knee in mid-air and soon finished him off with a Jay Driller for another big singles win for Brookes who has picked up a bit of momentum in the Singles category in the last couple of months. Angelico though is struggling to get out of that ‘meh’ category for me with maybe the vision of him doing balcony dives on Lucha Underground clouding my initial judgement of him.
After the match Chris Brookes tried to give a statement on whether his partner Kid Lykos would be able to help tag with him once again in PROGRESS, unfortunately for Brookes he was cut off from behind by Mark Haskins and Morgan Webster who laid the boots Brookes and also Webster hitting Brookes round the head with his motorcycle helmet. With Haskins and Webster gloating, Kid Lykos made an appearance and as qucik as he got in, he ripped off his sling and beat Haskins and Webster enough to send them packing to the back – a great ovation for this return to fitness for Lykos.
Semi Main Event of the evening was a high stakes Tag Team Match with ATLAS and PROGRESS World Title shots at stake with WALTER and Jack Sexsmith taking on the South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper & Travis Banks). A lot of this match was built around TK & Travis beating down Sexsmith until the inevitable hot tag from WALTER, once WALTER did get the hot tag the facials from Travis Banks were one of fear and trepidation watching his life flash before him trying to get away from the big bad Austrian. WALTER floored TK with chops and a huge dose of Das Boots to take advantage, but with the possibility of WALTER and Sexsmith getting PROGRESS Title shots in the future they had some initial tension before putting TK away, it was Sexsmith though who gave WALTER a kiss and his blessing before doing a dive to the outside to Travis to nullify him to the deck leaving WALTER to go ahead and defeat TK Cooper with a huge lariat for the 1-2-3 – This was excellent fun and probably match of the night for thos looking for matches to watch back.
With the victory, the expectation of WALTER vs ZSJ vs Banks for Wembley could becoming a reality but we shall see as we have 3 months to go before the big show.
Main Event of the evening was a PROGRESS Women’s Title match between Dakota Kai (Challenger) vs Jinny (Champion). Going around 15 minutes I felt this was more of a showcase for Jinny to show she could hold her own against a WWE opponent and in this writer’s opinion she really come through with flying colours as I felt she dominated a huge part of this contest beating down Kai. Kai did make a comeback hitting the runaround kick to stun Jinny, but constant interference from Chakara put Dakota at a disadvantage (it is to be noted Chakara on one of her distraction missions did fall arse over tit on the walkway).
One distraction too many led to Jinny hitting a Rainmaker to Dakota to end the match and complete a first successful title defense in the process. After the match an injured Nixon Newell who was at ringside with Dakota Kai said when she is back fit, she plans on challenging Jinny anywhere in the world at a later date for the PROGRESS Women’s Championship.
Overall as a show this had its moments with Sexsmith & Walter vs SPPT, Mark Davis vs Danny Duggan and Spike Trivet vs Jimmy Havoc being matches I recommend to watch back on VOD once it is up in the next week or so. Due to other shows going on, I now miss the next 3 UK PROGRESS show so will hopefully catch some of it on the VOD, but as a build up at the moment for Wembley it is looking good.
Beer prices in the 02 Academy were £4.65 for pints of Carlsberg Extra Cold and near enough another 60p for the Export version. 2 pint jugs were also on offer. Toilets were of a 4/10 standard with someone’s left over takeway being left on a sink near the toilet door added to the smell of stale piss.
With the show finishing at 6:25 pm, we all then decamped to The Sheffield Tap at the station which is a must for anyone to discuss the going on’s of the show and any other third world issues before getting back on the train to Manchester, to return into Rochdale for a relatively early 10:20 pm.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this review, like and retweet to spread the word and I will be back again at the weekend with a review of Fighting Spirit Pro Wrestling in Maghull from Friday 15th June and also Futureshock Wrestling in Prestwich on the 16th June.