After a highly eventful Chapter 21 last month, PROGRESS returned to the Electric Ballroom in Camden for Chapter 22: Trust, Encouragement, Reward, Loyalty, Satisfaction. After an excellent send-up of The Office, starring Tom Irvin, the show kicked off with Jack Gallagher taking on Dave Mastiff, who had been absent from PROGRESS since his defeat in the quarter-finals of the Super Strong Style 16 five months prior. Gallagher has fully won over the PROGRESS crowd with just a couple of appearances for the promotion under his belt, well deserved I’d say as he’s proven to be a highly competent young technical wrestler. But, as it turned out, there wasn’t much opportunity for him to show his stuff, as before the match could really get going ‘Liverpool’s Finest’ Zack Gibson interrupted proceedings. Mastiff, using the distraction to his advantage, headbutted Gallagher in the back of the head and applied a rear-naked choke to force him to tap, before leaving with Gibson.
The second match saw the debut of one Tyler Bate as he took on ‘Pastor’ William Eaver in a quarter-final match for the Natural Progression Series III. The Pastor, one of the top students of the ProJo, has been impressing in PROGRESS as-of-late with some big victories over the likes of Noam Dar and he had his work cut out for him here against young Bate, who employs a largely mat-based style that takes cues from British wrestling of old. There was one particular moment where Bate reversed a side-headlock and climbed the ropes to bring him up and over Eaver’s head that was straight out of World of Sport, tremendous stuff. The finish saw Eaver pick up the win with the Clothesline from Heaven, a devastating lariat that Stan Hansen would be proud of and the best lariat of the evening (which, when Rampage Brown & Dave Mastiff are also on the card, is saying something). Post-match Jim Smallman put over Tyler Bate’s skill at such a young age. I’ve seen him previously, but had no idea he was just eighteen years old. Maturity beyond his years.
Continuing at a brisk pace the third match got under way. Replacing Martin Kirby (who was absent for personal reasons) was Lord Jonathan Windsor, a trainer at the ProJo who hasn’t been seen on a PROGRESS chapter show since Chapter 8 in 2013. He teamed here with Rampage Brown, the crowd dubbing their team “Royal Rampage!”. Taking on the impromptu duo were The GZRS of Sebastian and Tom Irvin, things quickly becoming farcical as Tom sauntered through the curtain wearing an emu suit. The match itself was entirely ridiculous as The GZRS infuriated Windsor and left Rampage corpsing uncontrollably on the ring apron. The finish came after Seb ordered Tom to “GET THE SLIP & SLIDE!”, Rampage leaving Lord Windsor to his fate.
The final match of the first half saw ‘The Star Attraction’ Mark Haskins taking on the returning ‘Sicilian Psychopath’ Tomasso Ciampa, who recently has been seen competing in an NXT ring. This one got off to a slow start, but ended up being the match of the night with great performances from both men. Always enjoy getting to watch Ciampa ply his trade and he put on a good show here, the crowd reacting loudly as he punished the smaller Haskins with some skin-splitting chops that echoed around the building. Haskins had a gameplan, however, returning on multiple occasions to his brilliant reverse armbar manoeuvre that continued to punish the injured left-arm of the Sicilian Psychopath. It seemed like Ciampa was going home with the win after he hit his brutal Project Ciampa finisher, but somehow Haskins kicked out and rolled him over into a double-arm version of the reverse armbar to force Ciampa to tap. What a match! Ciampa intimated that this might be the last chance he gets to wrestle for PROGRESS, thanking the fans before leaving to a big ovation from the crowd.
After his despicable actions at the previous chapter, there was a mixed reception for ‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll in the Electric Ballroom, but it seemed surprising to me that there was anyone cheering for him at all after what he did to Travis. This was a pretty enjoyable match, marred only by referee Paz’s blindness as he failed to notice not one, but two low-blows from Marty before ‘The Villain’ locked in the Chickenwing and forced Morgan Webster to tap away his undefeated streak in PROGRESS. Post-match Marty got on the mic and said that he was done trying to appeal to the fans, admonishing those who still cheered for him and saying how much he despises the PROGRESS crowd. He said he doesn’t need PROGRESS and that if he wanted he could just go to PWG, or sign a deal with ROH, or wrestle for NXT when they come over to the UK in December. That brought out Tomasso Ciampa who whispered something into Jim Smallman’s ear before departing again. Jim said that he’d been on the phone to William Regal and that Ciampa had been cleared to face Marty Scurll one-on-one at Chapter 23 next month!
Up next, one of the most anticipated matches of the evening saw The London Riots & The Sumerian Death Squad attempt to cooperate as they took on the newest shit stuck to the heel of PROGRESS’ boot, The Origin of Nathan Cruz, El Ligero, Zack Gibson and newest member Dave Mastiff. This one got crazy from the moment the bell sounded, all eight men brawling all over the building. I missed most of the first half of this match due to fans in the first few rows having to hurridly evacuate their seats as huge wrestlers came hurtling towards them. This isn’t the first time a multi-man match has got out of control in PROGRESS and, ultimately, it’s always something that translates better to video for a good majority of the audience who end up with their view impaired. I gather that at one point Ligero was launched off the stage at the back. The finish saw some miscommunication arise between the Riots and SDS, Mastiff taking advantage to roll-up Tommy End for a hugely anticlimactic finish. Post-match, The SDS and the Riots looked set to kick off, wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Lynch & Davis as the next challengers for the Death Squad’s tag shield.
Main event time rolled around and, while I appreciate that putting a title match on last emphasises the prestige of the belt, in hindsight I think I would have put the 8-man tag in the main event slot, were it up to me. Not to take anything away from either Will Ospreay or Paul Robinson, I thought this was a very enjoyable match but not one that anyone really seemed to think Robinson had a chance of winning, which took some of the drama out of the equation. Robbo had shown how vicious he can be in his impromptu deathmatch with Jimmy Havoc at the last chapter, but this was traditional rules and it wasn’t that long ago that Ospreay defeated Robinson fair and square in the middle of the ring. That being said, Ospreay & Robinson showed just how well they know each other in this counter-for-counter bout that eventually saw Ospreay retain after rolling up Robinson with a European clutch out of nowhere for the win. Some may have found the opening sequence overly choreographed, but I was put in mind of that famous Low Ki vs Amazing Red match from early Ring of Honor and was greatly entertained.
Post-match a frustrated Robinson continued to attack Ospreay, tieing him up in the ropes only to be interrupted by the return of Mark Andrews! Huge ovation for ‘White Lightning’ as he ran off Robinson before helping Ospreay to his feet, but as Ospreay asked him to hand over the title, Mandrews hesistated and called for the microphone. He said that Will had come a long way and he was very proud of him, but Mandrews was the guy who put Ospreay out of PROGRESS (in the first Natural Progression Series) as well as the guy who elected to bring him back. Ospreay had never defeated Mark Andrews before in a PROGRESS ring, but Will readily accepted the challenge and it was confirmed that Will Opreay vs Mark Andrews for the PROGRESS title will main event Chapter 23 next month! Wow, what a match that’s sure to be! Overall this was a good show, but perhaps a step below the crazy heights PROGRESS has reached previously. I feel like the pacing was a bit off, the first half of the show had a very light-hearted tone to it and, while Haskins vs Ciampa was my match of the night, the second half of the show felt more focussed. Good stuff though and I look forward to rewatching the 8-man tag once Chapter 22 goes up at Demand PROGRESS early next week.