As most know by now, Mark Andrews won TNA’s British Boot Camp 2 and won a contract with the company, so to decide the fate of the PROGRESS Tag Titles he and his F.S.U. team-mate Eddie Dennis were to face off to determine sole ownership of the tag shield. However, before the match could even get started three members of The Faceless arrived and swarmed the ring, attacking Dennis & Andrews before making their exit with the shield. Andrews got on the mic and told The Faceless that if they wanted the titles, then to come and face F.S.U. in the ring. The proceeding match was short and to the point, The Faceless making quick work of the tag champs before hitting a backpack stunner/double stomp combo on Andrews for the three count. Andrews & Dennis, not wanting this phase of Mark’s career to end on such a sour note, agreed to have their originally planned singles match later in the show. This was fine for what it was, the crowd gave a great reception to F.S.U. as always but the reaction to The Faceless felt slightly muted, perhaps because of their concealed identities and up to this point we’ve seen nothing of them in the ring. It’ll be interesting to see how, as new tag champions, they’re involved at Chapter 18.
2. Mark Haskins vs Rampage Brown
At the last chapter an injured Mark Haskins appealed to former Screw Indy Wrestling stable-mate Rampage Brown to take his place, but Rampage was less than willing to associate himself with Haskins’ group further, so an aggrieved Haskins laid out the challenge for this bout. Rampage Brown, undoubtedly one of the best heavyweights in Britain today, poses no small obstacle so you’d be forgiven for thinking Haskins a bit rash in asking for this match, but Haskins is no slouch either and in spite of giving up a lot of size to the big man is a dangerous competitor in his own right. The match itself was good and definitely left me wanting more from these two. Rampage struggled to maintain momentum, as the crafty Haskins kept him off balance and managed to avoid Rampage’s signature piledriver. Haskins endgame was catching Rampage with his awesome reverse armbar, but he wasn’t expecting the big man to make it to the ropes and had to resort to more extreme measures, heading to the floor before clobbering a charging Rampage with a chair to the face, giving Rampage the DQ victory.
3. El Ligero vs Marty Scurll
‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll has been plying his trade up and down the country, but in PROGRESS he’s retained much of his ‘Party Marty’ fan base and hasn’t done much to turn them against him, but that seems to be changing as Marty started the match by assaulting Ligero with his now-trademark umbrella before brawling around ringside. Ligero fought back and hit a plancha off a low balcony before taking things back in the ring, but Scurll seemed prepared for everything Ligero had to bring. Marty kept calling for the Chickenwing, but Ligero had numerous counters up his sleeve, at one point hitting a reverse springboard kick that sent Marty spinning to the floor. Ligero picked up speed off the ropes and hit a huge tope con hilo. He tried to follow up but again got caught going for the C4L and Marty locked in the Chickenwing, forcing Ligero to tap. This was a well worked back-and-forth contest and it was good to see a more focussed Marty who was all business.
4. Dave Mastiff vs Tommy End
Making a welcome return to PROGRESS after seven months away, Tommy End received a great reception from the crowd, equalled only by their rapturous appreciation of ‘The Bastard’ Dave Mastiff. Tommy made his PROGRESS debut way back at Chapter 9 in 2013 against Mastiff and, after a brutal battle, found himself victorious. He looked set to repeat the feat in record fashion here, as he floored Dave with a big high kick before heading up top to hit a double-stomp, only for Mastiff to kick out at one! What followed was just under four minutes of brutality as Tommy & Dave battered each other from pillar to post, with some sickening strikes exchanged before the eventual finish that saw Mastiff avoid another double-stomp attempt, rocking Tommy with a huge forearm smash and then hitting a folding powerbomb pin for the three count. An absolute war that, I’m pretty certain, everyone in the Electric Ballroom would have loved to see more of, but the fact that the match was so short only punctuated the bombs Mastiff & End were throwing each other’s way. Post-match, Tommy got on the mic and said that next time he’s at PROGRESS, he won’t be coming alone which presumably alludes to Michael Dante, End’s tag partner in the Sumerian Death Squad.
5. Noam Dar vs Paul Robinson
Since turning on his Swords of Essex team-mate, Paul Robinson has fully embraced his newly reviled status and become one of the most despised men on the PROGRESS roster. Noam Dar, however, is most decidedly a fan favourite and when the audience aren’t thinking of songs to chant Dar’s name over, they’re getting behind this young man from Scotland in a big way. Robinson used every nefarious trick in the book to get the advantage here, including a can of silly string! But the real turning point came when Noam leapt off the middle-rope and hit the Khali Chop, which pretty much exploded Paul’s nose (later revealed to be broken in no less than five places!). He spent a while on the floor, bleeding profusely, before getting back in to continue the bout and did will to get Noam on the back foot. He was perhaps a bit foolish in trying to hit Dar with the Rainmaker, as Noam had proved during the title match against Jimmy Havoc at Chapter 14 that he had the perfect counter for the move and, as Robinson wound up the move, Dar ducked and locked on the Champagne Super Knee Bar, forcing Robinson to tap! This was a really high energy match, Robinson is proving to be adept at working as the bad guy, dictating the pace and generally frustrating the fans and his opponent, while Dar just oozes charisma and ability, it’s easy to forget how young he is.
6. Mark Andrews vs Eddie Dennis
Another great reception for F.S.U. as they made their entrances together for, what could possibly be, Mark’s last match in a PROGRESS ring. This was another fast paced match, neither man wasting any time as they tested each other on the mat, Andrews’ speed coming into play early on. Although there was no appearance from Eddie’s alter-ego ‘The World’s Largest Luchador’, he still displayed some startling agility for a man so big and the crowd were pretty evenly split in their support for both men. Andrews at one point scored with a big tope con hilo, sending him and Dennis a few rows deep into the crowd, but in the ring his high-flying antics were rather restrained and, although he did let fly with an shooting star press from the top-rope, Eddie got his knees up and the tide of the match turned. The finish came when, if I’m remembering correctly, Eddie powered Andrews out of a super hurricanrana attempt and hooked him for his finisher which I’m unsure of the name, but it looks sort of like the H-Thunder sideslam piledriver Hayabusa used to do and, regardless of what it’s called, Dennis leapt off the second rope and dumped Andrews right on the back of his neck for the three count. Post-match, Dennis & Andrews hugged it out before PROGRESS co-owner Jim Smallman led the crowd in a round of applause for the departing Andrews, telling him he’ll always have a home in PROGRESS. The match itself was a lot of fun between two of the crowd’s favourites and served as a great send-off for Mark.
7. Natural Progression Series II – FINAL: ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster vs Zack Gibson
After a lengthy road over the past seven chapters, the two eventual finalists of the second Natural Progression Series faced off here, having defeated Josh Bodom, Pete Dunne, Will Ospreay and Ali Armstrong, respectively, to earn their place. ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster was the obvious fan favourite (but still couldn’t prevent the crowd from calling him a ‘bus stop wanker’) as his opponent Zack Gibson made his way to the ring under a hail of Scouse-themed abuse. Gibson didn’t even wait for the bell as he blind-sided Webster before going to work on his arm, softening Flash up for the armbar that he’d tapped out Ospreay & Armstrong with on his way to the final. Gibson was relentless and methodical in the way he tore at Gibson’s stricken limb, controlling a good portion of the match as he cut off Webster’s comebacks time and time again. Webster, for his part, was intent on hitting the 450 splash, knowing from his experience in the match against Pete Dunne that the highflying manoeuvre was enough to change a matches outcome in mere seconds. However, hitting it was no easy matter. On the first attempt Gibson rolled out of the way, on the second he got his knees up, knocking the wind out of Webster and turning the tide back in the Liverpudlian’s favour.
Flash showed good resilience as he refused to tap away the match, valiantly making it to the ropes. The finish saw Gibson attempt a suplex off the top, but Webster knocked him to the mat, got shakily to his feet and hit the 450 splash to become to second ever winner of the Natural Progression Series! Post-match, Webster offered a handshake to Gibson, who refused and left to a chorus of boos. Jim Smallman congratulated Flash and presented him with the trophy before getting down to business. As a stipulation of winning the series, Webster got to reinstate one of the wrestlers from this year’s tournament into next year’s tournament and he chose Pastor William Eaver, which went down well with the PROGRESS faithful. As for the second order of business (a guaranteed shot at the PROGRESS title) before Webster could make his decision known Jimmy Havoc’s music hit and the PROGRESS Champion made his way to ringside, telling Webster he wasn’t losing his title the same way Rampage Brown did. Havoc’s crony The Omega attacked Webster from behind and the crowd were waiting for someone to make the save.
Enter Will Ospreay, winner of the first ever THUNDERBASTARD match and no.1 contender to the PROGRESS Title. ‘The Aerial Assassin’ received a great ovation from the assembled masses who (after four hundred and twenty seven days of Havoc as champion) were desperate to see the title switch hands. Will tried to run The Omega off, but the numbers game cost him until Smallman threatened to strip Havoc of the title unless he sent his goon to the back, which after much protesting he eventually had to agree to and the match proper got under way. The seeds of this match had been sown months earlier, Ospreay injuring himself while attempting a 630 senton splash and since becoming somewhat wary of performing the move. In a scathing promo Havoc reminded everyone that there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do to himself or his opponent to win the title, while taunting Will for his inability to hit the manoeuvre that had brought him his greatest successes in PROGRESS thus far. He punctuated this by biting into Will’s earlobe and later his neck, drawing blood as Ospreay desperately screamed for help. Meanwhile, Will’s recent inability to hit moves from the top was already coming into play, Havoc taking advantage after Ospreay debated whether or not to make the dive and dropkicking him to the floor. Will fought back but struggled to maintain his momentum and was forced to try and put Havoc away on the mat, hitting a big corkscrew shooting star press only to earn a two-count. He tried for a SSP off the top-rope but again took too long and Havoc got his knees up, before throwing Ospreay straight through the crowd into a crumpled heap of chairs.
Havoc then turned his attention to the turnbuckles, producing a tool from beneath the ring and unscrewing the top-rope! Effectively removing Will’s ability to hit the 630, even if he could overcome his fears. Back in the ring, Havoc tried for the Rainmaker but Ospreay ducked and hit a nice flurry of offence to turn things back in his favour. He hit the ropes and caught Havoc with the Essex Destroyer (a flipping DDT Ospreay used to put away Paul Robinson at the last chapter), but much to everyone’s surprise Havoc managed to get his foot over the bottom rope. With the top-rope gone and his biggest move on the mat proving unsuccessful, Will seemed at a loss as to how he could defeat Havoc but he clambered up onto the middle-rope before leaping into the air with a corkscrew shooting star press! Havoc, however, rolled out of the way, hoisted Will up and hit the Rainmaker, but Ospreay kicked out at one! Havoc hooked him again and hit another Rainmaker and that was the end of that. This was an excellent main event, I loved the the story they told and felt this was probably the best singles match I’ve seen from Ospreay yet. He has so much charisma and comes alive when the crowd are chanting his name, I’ve no doubt he’ll be PROGRESS Champion one day soon. Havoc, on the other hand, has proven his ability multiple times over now and continues to be one of my favourite guys to hate in British wrestling. Overall, another strong showing from PROGRESS with two must-watch matches in Gibson vs Webster and Havoc vs Ospreay. You can pre-order the DVD now from www.progresswrestling.com