Added by Andrew Ogden

Hello and welcome everyone to this edition of Graps and Claps, this time taking me to Camden for PROGRESS Wrestling’s Chapter 77 ‘Pumpkin Spice Progress with the huge main event between PROGRESS champion Walter and the SSS16 Winner for 2018 – Zack Sabre Jr. which was a mouth watering prospect on paper and one I personally couldn’t wait for as in a surprise I have never seen this match live or on the box which is rare as rocking horse shit in this day and age.

As ever with a trip to London it was a 9 am bus journey to Manchester to catch the 1035 am train to London Euston, thankfully unlike last week’s journey to Leeds this went without a hitch and also the happiness of finding a stray £1 coin on a seat on the top deck of the bus – rich beyond my wildest dreams folks. A distinct lack of people from up north made the trip to London for this show, meaning I was drinking on my own in The Black Heart until London friend Steve came in, so I had a good chin wag about the action upcoming and what other stuff had been going on in the world in the past week. Only two pints in here for me both from Amundsen Brewery with the following – 6.5% Apocalyptic Thunder Juice IPA (£6.60) which was really juicy in taste, another winner in the book was a Lorita Pale Ale (£5.40), if you spot any drinks from this brewery make sure you check them out.

Drinks done, it was time to get into the Ballroom and take my position up on the raised perch with Athers for the first time (a great viewing spot if you can get up there early enough). The Ballroom in the time since I last came for the 1978 show has grown a big screen where the sound booth once resided, another happening is a change in the beer lines available with a Sharp’s Brewery IPA, Spaten and Franziker Weissbier taking pride of place on the bar which is a welcome move away from the usual Camden Pale. So with that all said let’s get into what went down on this cold Sunday afternoon!

First up we had pre-show action with the lesser seen Kyle Ashmore taking on JJ Lynch who I found out ply’s his trade in Battle Pro Wrestling down south. Opening part of this contest was the audience shouting out that Ashmore had a resemblance for some reason to Uncle Albert of Only Fools and Horses fame, plus yes it was me who started the ‘Baldy Baldy’ chant to absolute silence as ever from the London crowd who don’t do singing like they used to (Thanks to the Taffs for trying to join in). JJ Lynch impressed me in this first look at him as he hit a headbutt to Ashmore to stun him but Ashmore rolled out of the ring. Back in the ring Lynch hit a Superkick for a 2 count but that was as good as it got for Lynch as Ashmore hit a big JOHN WOO! and then a elevated back cracker to Lynch for the 3 count to end a tidy pre-show match and maybe the best Pre-show match in ages.

After the opening messages from Jim Smallman, we started off with the main card and a change to the advertised match up as Tyler Bate wasn’t fit to compete after picking up an injury at Fight Club Pro at the weekend. Instead we had one half of the fearsome Ringkampf duo, Timothy Thatcher taking on a repackaged version of Pastor William Eaver who is now going by the name of ‘Present’ William Eaver – the basis of this character is that of a upmarket street preacher (A touch of the Bray Wyatt’s here) coming out saying that ‘Today is the Day’ which I initially thought of a great song Eaver should come out to – go and check on Youtube for the Sean Maguire hit ‘Today’s the Day’ which was a popular tune in the 90’s.

Anyways on to the match, Timo hit a big T-Bone Suplex and followed up with a Judo throw slam for a 2 to Eaver. Eaver though eventually got the grasps of things as he beatdown Thatcher in the corner leading to Timo to hulk up by slapping the taste out of Eaver’s mouth but Eaver retaliated with a Uranage Backbreaker to stun Tim. Tim though came back to hit an enziguri to the back of Eaver’s head and then following up with an arm submission to get the tapout victory in around 10 minutes. Was what it was for an opener, even though it is early days Eaver’s gimmick I can’t say I was sold on it but time will tell for the Former PROGRESS Champion!

Second up was yes you guessed it PROGRESS Women’s Division action with Isla Dawn taking on Millie McKenzie with the latter trying to build momentum after not being able to capture the title in the 3-way at Wembley, Even though this match was 6 minutes long, this was a really good match between two women who you will be certain to hear much more from in the future, Isla at one stage locked in a Dragon Sleeper to Millie that was until Millie managed to reach the ropes to break the hold, Millie though made a fightback hitting a couple of crazy back German suplexes to Dawn but as it looked like Millie was on her way to victory, Jinny and Laura Di Matteo made an unwelcome appearance to lay the boots to Dawn and Millie, that was until her Jinny’s former House of Couture mates Nina Samuels and Charlie Morgan came down to fend them away making both Jinny and LDM to fall in the arms of Isla and Millie who hit stereo Germans to send them packing to the back.

Sadly no explanation yet to why the House of Couture split up but it will at least be good to see both Nina and Charlie Morgan at least get some wrestling time in PROGRESS instead of mooching around on the ring apron watching Jinny.

Third match was a PROGRESS Atlas Title Open Challenge match with the Champion Trent Seven offering anyone in the back the opportunity to take him on in his first defence of his newly won belt when he defeated Doug Williams at Wembley Arena. The person to take this opportunity was none other than the MCW Heavyweight Champion – Gino “ Mr. Juicy” Gambino. Gambino was on the upside of things early on as he hit a couple of running splashes in the corner to Trent, but all that running left Gino with no juice in the tank which led to Trent passing Gino an inhaler only for Gambino to spray this in Trent’s eyes (a really good inventive spot).

This temporary blindness for Trent led to Gino being on top for the next couple of minutes but Trent managed to fight Gino off with knife edge chops and a DDT for the two count. At a vertical base Gino flattened Trent and followed up with a big splash to get a two count, as it looked like Trent’s reign was in trouble Trent somehow managed to hit a massive suplex to Gino – Christ Almighty! The big spots didn’t end there as Juicy hit a Piledriver for a 2 count but that only awoke Trent who managed of all things hit a Burning Hammer to the 330 pound monster from Australia to get the 3 count to retain the Atlas Title – Excellent big lads action that I didn’t have much expectation for but this was a BIG thumbs up from me.

Your first half Main Event was for the PROGRESS Tag Team titles with the first defence for Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) taking on the Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake & Zack Gibson) and also the 17:35pm 198 bus service from Cardiff to London in the form of ‘Flash Morgan Webster’ and Bill Bailey doppelganger Wild Boar. Lots of green material on show here as the action got underway in the early feeling out process as the match built to a great crescendo with all three teams coming close on a number of occasions to winning the match.

The Aussies hit a fidget spinner at one stage only to be dragged out of the ring by Gibson, but as teamwork was much needed in this match Gibson who had grabbed a stray chair he accidentally hit his own tag team partner James Drake to possibly plant the seeds for a break up which was hinted at on the USA tour a month or two ago. With the GYV’s out of the way Webster was in the ring to hit headbutts to Aussie Open but this had no effect on them as Davis hit the ‘Close Your Eyes and Count To Fuck’ Piledriver of Doom and then Fletcher joined hit to hit the fidget spinner with Davis t0 end the 198’s hopes of winning to end an all action tag match and end a really fun first half of action.

Back from the break we had Eddie Dennis interrupting an entrance by one of the people who pledged money to the Progress Documentary. Eddie who has some valid points, was unhappy at being left off the card despite beating Mark Andrews at Wembley and that he would cash in his No.1 contenders opportunity when he see fit. The crowd even though Eddie in hindsight is supposed to be a baddie, cheered a lot of what he was saying and in a way can you blame them, out of the current No.1 contenders I am certainly more intrigued to see how Eddie’s story ends.

Talking of people from Eddie’s past we came to a match between two wrestlers who both ended up on the losing side at Wembley Arena with the terrifying Paul Robinson taking on what seems perennial loser at the moment and in need of a freshen up Mark Andrews. In what was a rematch from Chapter 10 and the first Natural Progression Series, we got off to a great start in this match with both Andrews and Robbo hitting dives to the outside with the fans scrambling out of the way whenever Robbo was in the vicinity.

Back in the ring Andrews hit a reverse rana to Robinson for a two count, but as Andrews went up top to hit the Shooting Star Press he was unfortunately straddled by Robinson on the top rope leaving Robinson to hit a Huaracarana sending Andrews crashing to the mat leaving him prone for a Curb stomp from Robinson who duly pinned Andrews in around 10 minutes to get the win. Onwards and upwards for Robinson for now, for Andrews it is back to the drawing board once again to figure out – Who the real Mark Andrews is??

Semi Main time with a No.1 contenders match to the PROGRESS title with the usual faces in these No.1 contenders matches taking part in the form of Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins who both gained big wins at the Wembley Arena show, joining them in this three way was #CCK himself – Chris Brookes who last had an opportunity at the big belt at the turn of the year coming close to beating then Champion Chris Brookes (I’m not counting the 3 minutes Walter no contest in Hamburg). On reflection this was a good match, but for me a downgrade from what had followed before it, Jimmy Havoc was on his way to victory that was until Drew Parker came from out of nowhere to attack Jimmy from behind to take him out of the running by dragging his lifeless body up the ramp and through the curtain. With the odds drastically reduced for the remaining two folks in the ring, it was Mark Haskins who was the one get the victory on Brookes as he locked in the Sharpshooter Submission before leaning back to tap out Brookes in 14 minutes.

After the match Haskins got on the mic to proclaim that after all of the setbacks he was back on top of his game once again to hopefully take the PROGRESS World Title in the future, but I have a bad feeling that if he came up against Walter he would end up on the short end of things but we shall see if that materialises.

With the clock striking 7 p.m it was now time for your Main Event with the unstoppable force of WALTER taking on Zack Sabre Jr with the latter coming out to the Idles tune ‘Mother’ which was welcome relief away from the Casio Keyboard music which is around once again. My god what can be said about this match – duelling chants from the crowd with a 50/50 split in terms of who people wanted to win here, we had chop battles where at times Zack was trying to wind up Walter by saying that the chops were not having that great an effect on his body – at one stages ZSJ gave Walter the middle fingers which would be a death wish for anyone else but this is Zack Sabre Jr. we are talking about here.

Reversals galore by both men, as Zack tried to grab any stray body parts when Walter was on the floor or at a vertical base – Zack is just smooth as silk in this situation. At one stage though as the match reached fever pitch it looked like Walter was ready to tap to another deadly submission from the Technical Wizard but alas the Austrian managed to escape Zack’s clutches when at coming up to 30 minutes in the contest Walter hit the ‘Fire Thunder Driver’ to Zack to end a breathless and enthralling contest to retain the PROGRESS World Title to send the Camden faithful excited at what they had just seen. In closing though on this match, in terms of PROGRESS matches of the year I would put this slightly above Bate vs Walter at Wembley so make sure you go and check this out once it hits the On Demand service in 5-7 Working Days *Terms and Conditions apply.

Wrestling done, it was time to get back on my way to Rochdale getting back in the ‘Dale for Midnight to end another long weekend of japes on my travels. So with that said, I hope you have enjoyed reading this review and as ever any comments and feedback are welcome! Until then I will bid you farewell – BYE!!