Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Graps and Claps this time taking on a trip to the biggest show of the English wrestling scene as Progress Wrestling took to Wembley for Chapter 76 ‘Hello Wembley’ in front of a crowd of 4750 at Wembley Arena.
Now yours truly might have not been fortunate enough to grab one of the press passes on offer, but I was certainly there fulfilling my duties as your correspondent for what was sure to be a pinnacle point in the promotions history.
Travelling down from Wolverhampton in the morning after two nights of Fight Club Pro (this will be reviewed later this week once I get home), I arrived at Wembley for 2 pm after a two hour trip to the capital filled up with the lukewarm ‘Spoons brekkie and a can of gin and tonic to keep me going till I reached London.
After a 15 minute walk to Baker Street, where our group did our best impression of a 10,000 metre walk with everyone chopping and changing positions whilst walking down the street, we took the tube to Wembley Park which coincidentally located right next to my hotel (Premier Inn) that turned out to be the best £51 I had spent all weekend due to the over running of the Main Event, but more on that later folks.
Walking up Wembley way for the first time in my life, I had done a previous trip to the stadium but that was for Rochdale’s defeat in the 2008 playoff by Stockport, that time the coach dropped us off round the back of the ground so on the occasion I didn’t get the chance to make that fabled walk.
Once in the venue, which was a fairly speedy process we were greeted with the sight of merchandise in front of us with a £5 markup on t-shirts for this show which was expected. Before taking my seat the first of probably 5/6 pints of Heineken was had at a wallet busting £6.50 a pint but is to be expected nowadays at Arena shows.
On first look in the arena itself, the setup was much better than the big ICW Hydro shows which if you were in the tiered seating there you did feel as part of the atmosphere from what seemed miles away. This setup though was much more intimate and the chance for noise to stay compact in a big arena made it a much better event.
Starting at 330pm we began with a pre-show battle royal with some of the lesser lights of the Progress roster and also some returning faces including Stixx, R.J Singh and Warehouse Manager of the Decade – Mad Man Manson who as I have stated before in this blog was the main reason I even started going watching PCW which broke me into the ever lasting journey of seeing britwres.
Early stuff in this match included a few spots with Inflatable Lykos annoying T.K Cooper to the point of T.K losing it and chucking the inflatable one into the 4th row. T.K as well before this conquered the feat of dumping out my boy Big T, which you think sometimes in rumbles it takes at least 8 people to dump out the biggun.
We had a staredown between R.J and Stixx which was a call back to there feud back in the day at Chapter 15 I think it was, but for me it did seem lost on a number of the audience.
As we got to the final 4 of Ridgeway, Trivet, T.K and Chuck Mambo the odds of a ‘Escaping the Midcard’ Youtube star winning was long odds-on as Ridgeway was dumped over the top rope. Leaving T.K to slug it out with Mambo on the ring apron, it has to be said Mambo found many ways of escaping not getting chucked out.
Spike looked to knock both off the rope and missed, then Mambo I think head-scissored TK who took a bit of a nasty fall on the apron to take him out, leaving it down to Mambo to finally throw out Trivet for his 3rd win in multi-man action after winning two scrambles in Wolverhampton.
The main show started at 4pm with U.K band WARS playing some RAAAARRRR RAAARRRR RAAAARRRGG music to accompany the into to the show instead of the usual ‘Started from the bottom’ by Drake. Resident compere and all round good egg Jim Smallman then came out to do his usual routine but with extra expletives – my gosh there was more ‘fucking’ in this than what you see on Channel 945.
With that out of the way we got started on the main card with newly signed NXT Wrestler Matt Riddle taking on Mark Haskins, with the latter earning this match after his losing defeat against Tyler Bate at the last show. I do have to say Riddle’s new entrance theme is a good toe tapper which was rare on this evening with some utter bilge in the music department – but this has been covered ad-nauseum so I digress.
A slow opening to this one with an early feeling out process, Haskins did manage to fell Riddle as he kicked his leg from under him, whilst also hitting his customary bounce back dive to Riddle on the floor. Back atop of the ring Haskins hit a huge superplex from the top rope for a two count, Riddle though managed to get back up to hit a knee to Haskins chin and following up with a jumping brostone for a 2 count.
With Riddle looking like he was on his way to victory, he was caught unawares by a destroyer from Haskins which was followed up by a double stomp to the sternum, with Riddle wounded, Haskins locked in the arm submission for which Riddle tried to reverse but he was then hit with the Made in Japan from Haskins for the victory – really good opener that built very well along the way.
Quick pee break and a pint, but whilst standing at the bar I heard the announcement that the next match would be for the Women’s Championship which I had predicted earlier in the day to be in its customary 2nd on the card spot which seems to have become a recurring thing for the women which is a shame.
Anyways we had the Champion Jinny defending her title against long time rival Toni Storm and young up and comer Millie Mckenzie. Millie it is to be noted hasn’t half put muscle mass on and certainly looks the part even at this stage of her career – the Travis Banks Fitness Regime has done wonders for Millie and Kyle Fletcher.
At ringside we had the presence of the House of Couture who it was certain would get imvolved at some moment, Nina Samuels it has to be said – could crack walnuts with her pins just wow!!
Enough of my gawping, this lasted just under 10 minutes and maybe the shortest match of the night. Early part of the match was all 3 competitors using throws and suplexes to each other with Millie especially coming off best in these exchanges folding up Jinny like an accordion.
On the ring apron though Millie got taken out with a strong zero from Storm, meaning that she was out of the running to win the title. Storm looked to finish off Jinny, but the house of couture got involved on the ring ropes only to be confronted by Storm’s mates – Candyfloss and Laura Di Matteo. This is where things took a turn for the worse for Storm as LDM turned on Candyfloss and then on Toni leaving her laying for Jinny to come in and pick up the pieces to retain the Women’s Championship.
With LDM posing in the ring with her new cohorts they were then interrupted by Jordynne Grace who entered the ring to a good ovation and steam rollered through The House of Couture to send them packing off to the back.
So it looks like we have a new challenger to the Women’s title instead of the usual Toni vs Jinny scenario which has been played put enough now, the heel turn of LDM I guess was needed as her face run fell quite flat given that her feud with Jinny was a hot thing at the time, the part of getting back with Jinny I do find a bit baffling after all the belittling that Jinny did to her in the past – but as ever we shall see.
Next up it was Atlas Title time with Doug Williams defending his title and his career up against Trent Seven, this for some people was the first leg of the Skybet Boost Treble of British Strong Style to win all there respective matches on the card.
Very technical start to this match with both chaps going hold for hold, with Doug showing that he still has moves in his locker even at this late stage of his career. One part that would fit into the latter part of the match, wouldn’t come off in the early part as Trent missed a crossbody to Doug instead landing flat on his face.
Doug hit a Chaos Theory to Trent for a 2 count, but not before Trent picked up Soug for an impressive burning hammer (we would see this move on a number of occasions on this evening) for a two count. With Trent in control he hit a back hand fist to Doug’s Temple, whilst also trying to put him away with a lariat but Doug was having none of it as he followed up with a Powerbomb while Trent was on the top rope and then a piledriver to get the nearest of near falls.
At a vertical base though, doug looked to finish off Trent but was caught out of nowhere by Trent who hit for the first time ever – a running crossbody for the victory to capture the Progress Atlas Title and to send Doug Williams on his way into retirement for good. There was a nice touch at the end with the locker room filing out to greet Doug, bit of a shame a Jonny Storm, Jody Fleisch or Alex Shane wasn’t there for that moment given all there history in the FWA. For me, a good match to watch and a good way for Doug to bow out – Thumbs up from me 👍👍
Your Half Time Main Event now with Jimmy Havoc taking that little rotter Paul Robinson in a No DQ Grudge match that was sure to involve lots of blood and violence very much akin to there first battle. The usual white canvas was changed to a clear blue mat for this one as it must have more blood resistant but who knows.
Robinson did get revenge of his own cutting open Jimmy on the outside, back in the ring and once the light tubes got introduced this is where this match took off as Robinson double stomped two light tubes on Havoc’s chest to cut him open add in the fact that he had also stapled a t-shirt to Havoc which Jimmy had ripped away.
With Robbo making friends ringside, Jimmy Havoc as a pale white ghost of death made his way to ringside area to start this bloody brawl. One of the first big shots of this match was a whack around the chops from Havoc to Robinson with a frying pan which split open Robinson’s head.
Havoc did have a short comeback where he also broke light tubes over Robbo’s back and face. Not long after with the finish in sight Havoc managed to hit a footstomp through the light tubes to Robinson and then followed up with the Acid Rainmaker to end a violent war – Robinson you could see visibly that his back was shredded up.
As said this was a violent match but maybe not as good as their first battle just due to the spontinaity of it all back then when both were baddies at the time – still watchable stuff though.
As the clean up operation went on for longer than expected, the break lasted around 30/40 minutes but in that time I met up with the lesser seen on Twitter now – Joe Lemon who it was great see and chat to as he made a last minute decision to attend the evening’s action so with him on his own he came and sat with O’s for his ears to be deafened by my clapping.
Back from break and a piss in the cramped men’s bogs, we returned with the complicated but certain to be fun – ‘The Silly Bastard’ FKA Thunderbastard Tag Team Gauntlet for the Progress Tag Team Titles. Starting is off we had the team and your current Champions Flamita and Bandido going up against perennial loser in tag team contests – Jack Sexsmith and David Starr.
Along the way they were joined by Mills & Mayhew, The Anti-Fun Police, Aussie Open, Grizzled Young Veterans, CTK and the surprising sight of a bus service running on a Sunday Afternoon with the 198 in operation.
I won’t go through all of the eliminations (check @gadget80 on twitter), but it has to be said that the early portion of this match was very much the Anti-Fun Police show and especially Federales Jr. who was hitting dives to the outside and even speaking mexican with his hombres Flamita and Bandido until he was flattened by both of them, it showed how much the fun police shone by the groan once they were eliminated.
One thing to watch back is the dive sequence that everyone did including a huge Spanish Fly bodyslam by Bandido – this was something else folks!
Final 3 we got down to in this match were The 198 (Morgan Webster and Wild Boar), The Grizzled Young Veterans and Aussie Open so you can guess from that line up who the crowd wanted to take home the belts. First to go out of these 3 was the 198 when Davis and Fletcher hit the Fidget Spinner to send them packing back on their bus, with the end in sight though it did look like the GYV were going to win with Mark Davis being sent packing to the outside by both Drake and Gibson.
Sadly though a bit of miscommunication between the Vets lead to Gibson being sent to the outside and Aussie Open hitting a Super Fidget Spinner to James Drake to capture the Progress Wrestling Tag Team Titles in just over 30 minutes.
In closing this exceeded the low expectations of the match before the show which we all know was a series that was too complicated to follow for those who were arsed, but a really fun watch for my liking and it will be great to see Aussie Open have a long run with the belts as they are one of the best teams on the circuit.
Next up and with the time getting periously close to 730pm with 3 matches to go we had up next the battle of 2 of Europe’s best with Pete Dunne (Part 2 of the treble) taking on Ilja Dragunov in a hotly anticipated contest. What wasn’t hotly anticipated was listening to Ilja’s entrance theme which didn’t half sound like a knock off of Umaga’s theme from back in the day – this was certainly no Command & Conquer Red Alert.
In the run up to this match, Dunne has been hampered by a foot injury since last weekend where he beat Ashton Smith at Futureshock, this injury also struck him from wrestling action at Fight Club Pro give or take a run in on the first night which wasn’t too strenuos.
Early part of this contest was Pete dominating Ilja twisting and turning his joints whilst also striking him with sheer precision forearms. On the outside of the ring though Ilja did manage to hit a suplex to the floor outside which must have creased an already injured Bruiserweight.
For the rest of the duration of this 18 minute match it was a back and forth contest with Ilja kicking out of a bitter end and an amazing bitter end tombstone that was so fluid to see in person. CMJ (Ilja’s boss in WXW) got involved though by clocking Dunne with the UK Title belt but Dunne somehow managed to kick out at two much to the relief of Dunne’s followers.
With Ilja looking primed for victory he did hit a torpedo moscow once which only just dazed Pete for a solitary moment, as Ilja went for another he was caught with a reversal from Dunne who not long after this locked in a Finger Snap arm submission to Ilja who tapped out to end a decent match in the end but for me and few other people it did feel strange to see Ilja lose straight away but one of the problems to this match was to neutrals who don’t WXW they didn’t have reason to believe Ilja was a threat to the Bruiserweight.
Maybe if they had given Ilja a match or two beforehand say by beating up a Roy Johnson or a Pastor Eaver you would make him look more of a killer, but that is just one minor gripe that I took away from what was a good match.
Creeping past 815pm and with people from the North West clock watching for if they were going to get there last trains home, we followed up with the end to a 1 year feud between Mark Andrews and Eddie Dennis which has been one of the shining lights from a booking and storyline standpoint in the last year and a lot of the credit has to go to Eddie who has been fantastic in his role.
It does have to be said though, that despite this the feud in the last month did lose a bit of steam but it was still one we were looking forward to. Fought under TLC rules and with a title shot at stake – lets get down to business.
Now it has been racking my head of how I should review this match as at the time of last night whilst watching, this felt like complete over booked bollocks at times as a live feeling when it could have been so much else without the stipulation. The story out of this match will certainly be the failure of the tables which massively hindered Eddie and Mark who despite their hard earned efforts it totally took away from the match. I mean one table it took 3 attempts to break without success, it was almost sad to see.
When both were fighting on top of the ladder both trying to catch the contract, Eddie knocked Mark on to a ladder below busting his shoulder open to leave a bloody mark, instead of grabbing the contract and ending the match, Eddie instead climbed down and this is where we had more table sillyness with Andrews jumping on to Eddie below from the top of a ladder, but instead of breaking on impact Eddie just slid off the ultra Ronseal varnish of the table.
Thankfully though when we reached the end of the match Eddie and Mark went a top of the ladder where Eddie finally finished off Andrews with a Next Stop Driver through a table off the ladder, leaving Eddie to climb back up and capture a No.1 contenders opportunity at any time of his choosing in the future, for Mark its back to playing his guitar with wounds to show for this match.
In closing with this, it certainly wasn’t Eddie and Mark’s fault but it all just felt a bit like TNA/WCW back in the day when matches would have too much in it just for reasons/non reasons. If this had the Jimmy/Robbo stipulation this could have been off the scales in my opinion – but sorry guys and gals this was a thumbs down.
So here we go with the time coming past 840pm and the North West contingent running home for their trains, we bring you the Main Event of the evening with Tyler Bate challenging the mighty Progress Champion who came out to some fancy violin music to send him down the entrance for what was to be a fantastic contest.
In the build up to this match, I have felt Tyler hasn’t come across as relatable as a person to ordinary joe public, instead coming across as one of them weekend tossbags in yates’s who you want to see get his block knocked off the dad like qualities of Walter.
This match though showed Walter in a great light of getting someone to feel sympathy for somebody in this case Bate who in his defence played the underdog role superbly when he was getting hit with some brutal clotheslines from Walter that sent his soul of into the Wembley orbit. Tyler to his credit showed off great strength when back suplexing Walter and also on two occasions he hit two massive airplane spins which were magical to watch.
To see both wrestlers also having seconds in there corner urging encouragement and in no way looking to interfere added legitimacy to it very much like Devlin vs Walter in OTT.
As we got to the end of this match Tyler hit a Tyler Driver 97 to Walter to come within a whisker of defeating Walter but it wasn’t to be with Walter smothering Tyler with a sleeper that as well he managed to lift Walter up only for Walter to fall back any finally submit Bate with the sleeper to end a breathless 30 minute classic that could for me be UK Match of the Year at the end of the year.
So with the clock hitting 915pm, 45 minute past the proposed finishing time, that was it and for me a great success for Progress who managed to pull off a very good show probably a 7/10 show but still a great achievement and spectacle to watch British Wrestling. We had the announcement of Super Strong Style taking place on the 4th – 6th May next year at Ally Pally but nothing about a Wembley return but I do expect them to run this venue once again and so they should.
Show done, we met up with Grappl creator Gareth and his missus as we went to the JJ Moon Wetherspoons which was a 20 minute walk from the Stadium. It was nice to see a few of the others who I didn’t see during the day including a customary hug from Taff.
With the pub calling for last orders we made our way back to the Premier Inn, to be met with the sight of Mark Haskins following us in the lift – lovely bloke as well!!
With that said I hope you have enjoyed reading once again. Any feedback, Likes, Retweets are welcome as ever and I will see you next time with reviews of Fight Club Pro’s Project Mayhem two shows.