After a particularly long queue to get in the building, the show began with a minute’s applause for the recently departed Perro Aguayo Jr, Drew McDonald and Cincinnati Red, before co-owner and compère Jim Smallman getting things under way with his customary show opening banter, only to be interrupted by the Download Dog! The mascot of Download metal fetisval, Download Dog handed a letter to Smallman inviting PROGRESS to perform at all five nights of the festival! However, there was one condition: Jimmy Havoc would be banned from attending. At this point, the champion’s music hit and he appeared at the entranceway, flanked by his Regression goons Paul Robinson & Isaac Zercher who advanced on the Download Dog and gave him a beating before security could forced them to the back. Exciting news for PROGRESS (and it wouldn’t be the last of the evening). Check out the hype video here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW3DCeSBUAk
1. Zach Gibson vs Damo O’Conner
A PROGRESS debut here for the big Irishman Damo O’Conner, as he faced off against Liverpool’s Zach Gibson, who had come up short in the finals of the National Progression Series II and was looking to return to winning ways. Gibson’s pretty much a defacto heel, entering to You’ll Never Walk Alone while wearing a Liverpool shirt, and the crowd certainly let him have it. Damo, by comparison, got a great reception. Calling him ‘big’ is a bit of an understatement, he’s fecking huge! Gibson struggled to gain any ground against O’Connor early on, owing to the big man’s size and alarmingly quick turn of pace. Damo beat Gibson from pillar to post, but the wily Liverpudlian picked his chances well and successfully brought a fork into play behind the referees back. It didn’t seem as if his plan would succeed, however, when Damo hoisted him up for a powerbomb, but Zach jabbed the fork into Damo’s face and floored him with a lariat for the win, much to the crowd’s disgust. This was a good opening match, Damo O’Connor went down a treat with the crowd and I’d love to see more of him in PROGRESS. There’s some serious heavyweights on the roster at present, would be interesting to see them all face off in a single match, if the ring could contain such a thing.
2. Sha Samuels vs Kyle Ashmore
Sha Samuels was meant to face Ali Armstrong here, but Ali was too ill to compete so Sha put out an open challenge to any of the ProJo students to face him. GZRS Tom Irvin & Sebastian, who were enjoying a drink with the crowd, did a spit-take at the suggestion that they’d perhaps like to get in the ring with the East End Butcher, but eventually it was Kyle Ashmore who had the unenviable task of wrestling Samuels. But he acquitted himself well, taking advantage a number of times while Samuels was busy shouting at the crowd for calling him “Fat Cantona” or a “shit Danny Dyer”. At one point he scored with a beautiful tornillo press over the ropes to the floor, wiping out Samuels, but when he tried to capitalise in the ring with a spiral tap off the top rope, Sha rolled out of the way and ended it with a piledriver for the three count. This was a good debut for Kyle and he did well in there with Samuels, barring one minor slip-up. The crowd got behind him well enough and I look forward to seeing him and more of the ProJo students in the PROGRESS ring.
3. The Sumerian Death Squad (Tommy End & Michael Dante) vs Sweet Jesus (Chuck Mambo & Pastor William Eaver)
While Tommy End has graced PROGRESS fans with his arse-kicking presence on multiple occasions, this was the PROGRESS debut for his tag team partner in the Sumerian Death Squad, Michael Dante. Their opponents, meanwhile, are two of the top trainees from the ProJo but still faced a decidedly uphill battle against a seasoned tag team in the SDS. To their credit, they definitely held their own, taking control on a number of occasions, most notably when Mambo wiped out both of the Death Squad when he leaped over Eaver’s back into a big tope. Eventually, the physicality of the Death Squad saw the match turn decidedly in their favour. Tommy damn near caved Mambo’s chest in with some huge kicks, then the SDS turned their attention to Eaver. Dante powerbombed Eaver over Tommy’s knees, before the Death Squad put him away with the Black Mass, a huge pop-up powerslam! This was a really fun tag match, the crowd took to the Death Squad immediately and I can’t wait to see them more involved in the tag title scene in PROGRESS.
4. Rampage Brown vs Mark Haskins – No DQ Match
Former team mates in Screw Indy Wrestling, Haskins took offence to the fact that Rampage no longer wanted anything to do with him. Their differences should have been settled at the last chapter, but Haskins got himself disqualified by using a chair, so this time around there were no disqualifications allowed. As expected, it didn’t take long for the match to get violent, a chair being brought into play, followed by a table. Haskins hurricanrana’d Rampage face-first into a chair, before using it to beat Rampage’s back like a drum and locking in his reverse armbar, but after struggling to the ropes the big man got his revenge when he slammed Haskins through the table set-up in the corner. It didn’t break the first time, but Rampage eventually snapped it in two with a huge powerbomb that, somehow, Haskins kicked out of. Rampage then positioned Haskins over the chair, before spiking him with a piledriver for the victory. This was as physical a match as you’re likely to see, Rampage is an absolute beast in the ring, but Haskins proved to be crafty and tenacious in the face of such a powerful competitor and they really went all out for this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it, Haksins is amazing to watch and has great chemistry with Rampage Brown.
The second half of the show began in good style, with a video on the screen announcing ‘Demand.PROGRESS’ – a brand new on-demand streaming service featuring PROGRESS events old and new, plus a host of other goodies, for just £4.99 a month! Bargain. Here’s the trailer
sign-ups are open now over at; https://demandprogress.pivotshare.com/
5. The Faceless (c) vs Eddie Dennis & Wild Boar – PROGRESS Tag Shield
After capturing the PROGRESS Tag Shield in a less-than-sporting manner at Chapter 17, The Faceless hadn’t made themselves many friends at PROGRESS. Least of all with former tag champion Eddie Dennis, who said goodbye to his TNA-bound tag partner Mark Andrews at the last event after the F.S.U. duo were robbed of their titles at the hands of The Faceless. This time around Eddie teamed up with the ‘Wild Boar’ Mark Hitchman, who was making his return to PROGRESS for the first time since Chapter 14, but although the crowd got solidly behind them and they managed to string together some good offence, the numbers game put pay to their hopes of victory, as the third Faceless member (Meal Deal) on the outside clobbered Dennis with one half of the tag shield. The biggest Faceless (Bargain Bucket) hoisted Eddie up onto his back, while the little Faceless (Snack Box) leapt off the top-rope and the pair put Dennis away with a backpack stunner/double-stomp combo. This was fine, but I confess I zoned out a bit. There’s a lot of ambiguity to The Faceless and I get that they’re meant to be mysterious and all that, but there’s no real clue as to what their motivations or intentions are in PROGRESS and I get the impression that people are having trouble connecting with them or the storyline at present. Not to mention trying to guess who’s who instead of concentrating the match.
6. ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster vs Bubblegum
Fresh off the back of winning the Natural Progression Series II final, de-facto no.1 contender ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster looked to continue his winning ways against another PROGRESS newcomer, Bubblegum, who drew some immediate ire from sections of the audience by coming down to the ring in a Manchester City kit. This was my first time seeing Bubblegum and, although I knew he was well regarded, I came away from this match very impressed with his work and eager to see more of him in a PROGRESS ring. Flash, meanwhile, put in another great performance and had good support from the assembled masses. Much of the match saw Webster trying to find an opening, as Bubblegum did a thorough job of dictating the pace and keeping his high-flying opponent as grounded as possible. Bubblegum’s offence is very sharp, he’s not the biggest of lads, but definitely looks like he packs a wallop. He couldn’t stave off Webster’s aerial antics forever, though, and ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster picked up the victory with a 450 splash in what was a very competitive back-and-forth sort of match.
7. Jimmy Havoc (c) vs Dave Mastiff vs Marty Scurll vs Noam Dar vs Paul Robinson vs Will Ospreay – PROGRESS Title Match
Main event time rolled around and, as has become customary for PROGRESS Title matches, this one definitely had a big fight feel. The challengers were out first, followed by the Champion; Jimmy Havoc. He and his Regression cohort, Paul Robinson, stood across the ring from four of the toughest men in PROGRESS and showed no sign of backing down from a fight tilted decidedly in their competitor’s favour. It took absolutely no time at all for the match to spill out to the floor. I immediately lost sight of Jimmy, only to have Mastiff send Robinson crashing through an entire row of seats in front of me! This looked set to go all over the building and the usual problems arose, with people standing, people complaining about people standing and a general lack of visibility. Personally, I’m never too bothered when it’s a multi-man match like this, you know what you’re getting into beforehand, but it would be nice to see a bit more understanding amongst audience members. We’re all in the same boat, as it were. Anywho, once back in the ring things settled down and it wasn’t long before the first elimination, when Noam Dar took advantage of a low blow on Mastiff, flooring him with a big roundhouse to the side of the head to eliminate the largest man in the match.
The crowd were dismayed as Mastiff dejectedly walked to the back, but he then rushed back in the ring and went for a running senton on Jimmy (who was pinning Noam at the time), only for Jimmy to move out of the way and Mastiff squashed Dar! The big man then just stood and watched as the Champion eliminated Noam. Marty & Ospreay made a stab at teaming up against Regression, but their alliance came to an end when Will tried to roll-up Marty when his back was turned. Marty caught Will nicely with a tornado DDT and tried to lock on the chickenwing, but he escaped the submission attempt and eventually got a pinfall elimination on Scurll. That left Ospreay alone in there with Robinson & Havoc, but he showed great resilience to come back and scored another elimination when he pinned Robinson after hitting the Essex Destroyer! Havoc looked especially irritated at being left one-on-one with Ospreay once more, but his anger almost cost him as Ospreay hit a nice spinning brainbuster before heading up top. Ever since Ospreay injured himself on a 630 senton last year, he’s been wary of unloading the bigger guns in his arsenal and this match was no different, with him taking an age to muster up the courage before soaring with a beautiful corkscrew shooting star press.
The Champion had rolled out of the way, however, and hit Ospreay with the Acid Rainmaker for a near, near-fall. Jimmy placed Will’s mouth over the middle rope and said he would do the same to everyone in PROGRESS, before stomping down on the back of Will’s head and hitting the Acid Rainmaker one more time for the three-count. As Jimmy & Robinson celebrated (now reunited after a brief disagreement during the match where Paul had tried to pin Jimmy), ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster’s music hit and he came through the curtain for a chat with the Champion. He said he could cash in his title shot, but said that when he did he would have an insurance policy. At that, two familiar faces hit the ring and blind-sided Havoc & Robinson – The London Riots! Regression took a proper pasting from their former stable mates, before Jim Smallman got in the ring to announce the main event of Chapter 19: Night 1: The London Riots vs Jimmy Havoc & Paul Robinson.
I feel like a broken record when summing up these PROGRESS shows. I’ve been in attendance for every show since Chapter 7 and not once has PROGRESS left me disappointed. I had a few complaints here and there, but overall this was another belter of a show. The main event was nuts and I’m looking forward to seeing the fully edited version, while Rampage/Haskins and Bubblegum/Webster were both great singles contests. Really enjoyed the Sumerian Death Squad’s debut and Gibson/Damo was a good opener. Lastly, I thought I’d mention how remarkable the current crop of talent in British wrestling is. PROGRESS is already packed with some of the top wrestlers Britain has to offer, yet when they bring in some new faces they fit right in! Just goes to show the breadth and quality of wrestling talent on these shores.