Opening up the show, Jim Smallman introduces one Kris Travis, who returns to a huge ovation after his battle with cancer. Travis says that he hopes to be back in wrestling shape by the end of the year.
The tournament kicked off in good fashion with El Ligero vs Will Ospreay, two big fan favourites who put on a smooth and pacey high flying exhibition. Ospreay took a hell of a beating and, although he still struggled to hit the 630, he did catch El Ligero with the Essex Destroyer and that was the end of that, Ospreay progressing to the second round.
Next, Mark Haskins faced the debuting ‘Gentleman’ Jack Gallagher. As expected, this proved to be a great wrestling contest between two of the most technically proficient grapplers on British shores. Haskins came out the victor after working over Jack’s arm throughout, eventually forcing him to tap with the reverse armbar.
The second debut of the day went to Big Daddy Walter, a monster of a man from Vienna who has been a hugely dominant force for wXw in Germany for years now. However, the man he took on was a monster in his own right; Rampage Brown. Suffice to say, this was a pretty hard hitting match. Walter’s size looked like it would be too much to overcome, as Rampage struggled to hoist him on his shoulders. Eventually, however, he did get the bigger man up, hitting a huge Samoan drop before finishing the job with a piledriver. Great match, would definitely like to see more of Walter in PROGRESS.
The first half of the show ended with a highly anticipated match-up, Tommy End vs Roderick Strong. Tommy’s just starting to gain international recognition for his talents, whereas Roderick is at the zenith of a lengthy career that’s taken him the world over, but this was a very back-and-forth affair. Tommy’s kicks were as deadly looking as ever, but even after a double-stomp he struggled to put Strong away and fell victim to a low blow, followed by Strong’s patented vertical lift backbreaker. Great singles encounter and my personal match of the afternoon.
Post-match, an incapacitated Tommy End was attacked by The Faceless, who were joined by a suited man and El Ligero?! The man revealed himself to be ‘The Showstealer’ Nathan Cruz and said that he was declaring war not on PROGRESS, but on the fans who forgot about him, forgot about El Ligero and forgot about the other two Faceless members who take off their masks and are revealed to be Danny Garnell and Damon Moser. Cruz said that in every war sacrifices have to be made, before super kicking Garnell in the face and kicking him out of the group, which Cruz says is now called The Origin.
The second half got underway as Jim was interrupted by an extremely angry Tommy End, who said he’d made a call to Michael Dante and that he’ll be here tomorrow and that they want The Origin. Jim has a brief conference with Glenn and Jon, before confirming that at tomorrow’s show it’ll be The Origin vs The Sumerian Death Squad for the PROGRESS tag shield!
Onwards with the tournament, the next match saw ‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll taking on Eddie Dennis. For my money, Eddie’s one of the more underrated singles performers in PROGRESS and he put on a great show here against Marty, almost securing the win after a big crucifix bucklebomb. However, Marty had a game plan and stuck to it: when in doubt, chicken wing. It nearly cost him, however, as Eddie reversed it into a full stop driver attempt, only for Marty to float over, lock in the crossface chicken wing and forced Dennis to tap.
Next, Noam Dar faced off against ‘The Bastard’ Dave Mastiff. This one had a bit of back story, after Dar eliminated Mastiff from the Chapter 18 main event and then The Bastard took out his frustrations on Noam. As such, there was tension in the air as these two fan favourites squared up to each other. Noam put in a valiant fight, but after being absolutely clobbered by a forearm smash from Mastiff he was out of it, never regained his composure and (although Noam protested at length) the referee was forced to stop the match and Dar had to be helped to the back.
The penultimate first round tournament match saw recently debuted Big Damo O’Connor taking on the debuting Tomasso Ciampa. This match was an absolute war, both men taking a disliking to each other the moment they stepped into the ring and neither was willing to give up any ground to their opponent. Tomasso scored with some big knee strikes, but it only angered Damo, who crushed Ciampa with a senton. Heading up top perhaps wasn’t the best idea on Damo’s part, as Ciampa cut him off and tried for an air raid crash off the top. However, Damo proved too large and dropped down to the apron. He tried for a superplex, but Ciampa ducked out and power bombed Damo off the top for the win!
Rounding out the tournament matches, Zack Sabre Jr. tested his skills against another talented grappler, Zack Gibson. As per usual, Gibson’s entrance (You’ll Never Walk Alone) and ring attire (a Liverpool kit) did him no favours with the fans, who were on his case from the moment he stepped through the curtain. Comparatively, Sabre Jr. is one of the PROGRESS favourite sons and had full support from the crowd. Gibson whined about his broken fingers and got Sabre to agree to leave them alone, which he did, right up until the point that the “honest” Gibson tried to cheat to win. Sabre caved his chest in with a huge kick, before locking in an armbar and working the broken fingers to force Gibson to tap!
Main event time rolled around with The London Riots facing their former teammates in Regression, the PROGRESS Champion Jimmy Havoc and his cronie Paul Robinson. Given the resentment between the Riots and Regression, it shouldn’t be at all surprising that this one went all over the building. The Riots were out for a measure of revenge, but found themselves on the back foot when Havoc power bombed James Davis off the ring apron, leaving Rob Lynch to fight Regression on his own. Eventually, Rob picked his moment and fought back well, getting the tag to Davis after Robinson accidentally kicked Jimmy in the face. The Riots took over and the match became somewhat chaotic, all four men taking dealing a lot of damage. Havoc went for the Acid Rainmaker, but Davis reversed it and absolutely flattened Jimmy. The Riots caught a leaping Paul Robinson and planted him into the mat with the District Line powerbomb, only for Jimmy to break up the pin. He charged at Davis, who elevated him up for the GBH mid-air spear from Lynch, who made the cover and pinned the PROGRESS Champion!