PROGRESS CHAPTER 34: A Live Retrospective

Added by Christopher Lawson

PROGRESS WRESTLING shows no signs of stopping. Its seems every day they keep on growing stronger and stronger, even invading Wrestlemania 33 weekend next year with two events in the heart of Orlando, including MERCURY RISING 2017: PROGRESS VS EVOLVE. While next month they have announced a three night extravaganza of PROGRESS VS SMASH in Toronto, and only one week after they will be hosting their biggest show not only in the calendar year, but in the entire history of the company, at the famous O2 Academy in Brixton. PROGRESS WRESTLING is the talk of the pro wrestling world, and with a roster that proudly boasts an appreciation and acceptance of any and all wrestling styles, it is easy to see why. PROGRESS has a little something for everyone, from the inaugural Atlas division in its infancy, to the next National Progression Series to crown the companies first ever Woman’s Champion. On Sunday 14th August Jim, Jon and Glen seemed intent on proving this (as if they hadn’t already) to a rowdy SOLD OUT crowd.

The show started with Dave Mastiff vs Lestyn Rees in an Atlas Tournament match. Although short, this felt like a very strong start to the show, with both men more than proving their worth in an ever growing new division. Lestyn, for a big man, showed cruiserweight like agility with a spectacular crossbody plancha early on in the contest, which was a sign of the anarchy and athleticism throughout the afternoon. Mastiff is one of the strongest and renowned English workers currently and he certainly proved why in this match.

In a remarkable technical and striking affair Tommy End took on Zack Gibson in a Pick Your Poison match, orchestrated by the Progress Champion himself Marty Scurll. This match is a shining example of both mens talents as ring technicians and characters. The counters, grappling and striking worked seamlessly throughout the contest, with both men going hold for hold. Gibson is a truly underrated talent in the ring and he has risen to become the most hated heel in all of PROGRESS (which is a credit to him considering the strong villains within the company). There isn’t much left to say about Tommy hasn’t been said already, he is a top tier talent in a modern world stacked with masterful workers.

The antics pre and post-match helped advance the feud perfectly between Scurll and End on the road to Brixton, and with the latter being added to the PROGRESS World Championship Match at Chapter 36 (along with Mark Haskins). Expect for all three men to put on an all-time classic at the company’s biggest show in history, whether it is Mark Andrews or Marty Scurll being the third man, and champion walking into the momentous encounter.

In other action from the event, The South Pacific Power Trio (consisting of TK Cooper, Dahlia Black & Travis Banks) went up against Jack Sexsmith, Pollyanna and Roy Johnson that was as action packed as it was star studded. While Joe Coffey and Michael Dante fought in an Atlas Tournament match that thrilled the crowd, and is an indicator for how these two talents are not to be overlooked.

Without a shadow of a doubt, The London Riots vs War Machine is a must see match, and one of the best tag team matches in PROGRESS history. All four warriors left it all in (and outside) the ring. I could try to describe the all the highlights and major moments of this match, but it truly won’t do it justice. The endurance, agility and power shown by these four men was a sight to behold. From what I heard after the show this was many fans Match of the Night, and I find it hard to disagree. Which is a credit to all four men, considering it was one of the most well-rounded card in PROGRESS history, with every match delivering in its own specific style and genre. London Riots are engrained into PROGRESS history and are cornerstones in the company, from their domination of the Tag Team Division, to being pivotal characters in the acclaimed PROGRESS Championship reign of Jimmy Havoc. While the London Riots became a dominant in PROGRESS Chapter Two onwards, across the pond War Machine were starting to make waves in Ring of Honor, eventually reigning on top of the ROH tag division with the ROH Tag Team Titles. Northern Ultras have become conditioned to brutal tag team wars over the now five shows that have taken place at the Manchester Ritz. This is a match that certainly belongs in contention with FSU vs The Origin NODQ and FSU vs Dunne Brothers as the best PROGRESS tag team match. I hope that this is a trend that continues within the company, spotlighting the importance of tag team wrestling in the North of England.

With the promise of a third match between these two goliath teams after the match, “anytime, anyplace, anywhere” I certainly can’t wait to see if they can top this absolute classic that took place on Sunday 14th August, and I eagerly await the announcement, whenever it may be.

Jack Gallagher has won the hearts of many within the wrestling world over the last couple of months in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. With many campaigning for him to be signed into HHH’s tempestuous wrestling treehouse NXT. This was no ordinary match for the Extraordinary Gentleman as he is a man that calls Manchester home, and his reception from the live crowd certainly signified that it was a welcome home. Gallagher faced off against the Mexican Sensation and former PROGRESS Champion in El Ligero. This was a match that needed to be seen to be believed, with both men showcasing their comedic timing and creativity. It was a nice change of pace from the other hard hitting affairs of the afternoon, and served its purpose in making Jack’s hometown return a memorable one.

Mark Haskins and Laura DiMatteo would go against PROGRESS Champion Marty Scurll and Jinny in the penultimate match of the day. A match containing two separate feuds built upon bad blood and animosity. A great taster for London all around, with all four workers putting on a show, without giving too much away before they all clash again at Brixton Academy.

The main event was a spectacle of epic proportions, with an electric crowd. The shower of streamers during both men’s entrances truly was a motif of the colour and life they not only have in the PROGRESS ring, but any ring either men compete in, in this modern changing age of professional wrestling. The two men traded vicious strikes, backed by Northern Ultras voicing their support for both PROGRESS legends.

Both men came off a gruelling weekend, with Ospreay competing in three other matches for two promotions between Friday and Saturday. While Sabre wrestled in London on the Friday, and flew back from wrestling in Germany on the Saturday (along with Scurll, Dante and END). Considering the gruelling schedule these two PROGRESS giants had over the weekend, this was a herculean effort for by both individuals.

Technical, submission, mat and striking work in this match were impeccable. I feel this match will come to be known as the one to direct fans to who may think that Ospreay is only a one trick pony (a great trick at that), with him only possessing out of this world breath-taking high flying. This match can truly be spotlighted on as him more than holding his own with a man who is known as the world’s best technical wrestler.

Having based most of the work in the match on the mat, and with the crowd becoming livelier with their admiration for both, this match beautifully built towards an ultimate crescendo and remarkable final five minutes. With story of Ospreay fighting from beneath and looking for chances to execute his signature offense, he finally got his chance in a match ending that needs to be seen to be believed.

Although both men were bruised and battered from the turbulent weekend, it was a spectacle of a main event. From the crowd, to the slow narrative build up during the match, the mat wrestling and the atmosphere, all elevated this main event further than ever before. It was a given that with arguably two of the best workers in the entire world of wrestling were going to put on a clinic, but the atmosphere within the sold out crowd was something indiscernible and I only hope it translates over to the digital formats this show will be presented in.

This is arguably the most well rounded show the promotion has put on in its history. The Wrestlemania X7s of PROGRESS Wrestling. Featuring a crazy 6 man tag match akin to PWG, hard hitting big man matches, technical and striking masterclass in Gibson vs End, incredible showcase of women’s roster, comedy galore with El Ligero and Jack Gallagher, one of the finest PROGRESS tag matches in company history, concluding with a spectacle of a main event showcasing two of the best going today.

Expect both War Machine vs The London Riots, and Zack Sabre Jr vs Will Ospreay to be strong contenders of the Top 10 PROGRESS Matches of 2016 (as voted for by the PROGRESS fans and faithful’s). There is something for everyone on Chapter 34, and by virtue of that I expect it also to be recognised in the upper echelon of independent wrestling shows in recent history.

Chapter 34: Keep it Unreal is already available on DEMAND PROGRESS , and within a number of weeks the limited edition DVDs shall be sent to the Ultras from around the globe. PROGRESS now drives towards Brixton Academy. With a card boasting the likes of Zack Sabre Jr vs Tomasso Ciamap III: The Final Chapter, and Marty Scurll or Mark Andrews vs Tommy (FUCKING!) End vs Mark Haskins for the PROGRESSS Championship, with many more matches to be announced after Chapter 35.

On Sunday at Chapter 35: Writing Nirvana On Other People’s Bags we see Marty Scurll battle against Mark Andrews to decide who will enter Brixton Academy (and by virtue the triple threat championship match) as the champion. While Killshot Shane Stickland making his PROGRESS debut against Will Ospreay. Expect the wrestling world to be buzzing from this battle once the dust settles. PROGRESS WRESTLING also gets introduced to the talents of Nixon Newell and Alex Windsor, competing against one another in a singles match. With these two women arriving in PROGRESS, expect for the women’s division to be turned upside down on route to the fourth Natural Progression series, to crown the inaugural PROGRESS Woman’s Champion.

Past PROGRESS Manchester shows reference.

All available on DEMAND PROGRESS or through limited and collector’s edition DVD’s:
CHAPTER 24: HIT THE NORTH! Sunday 6th December 2015
CHAPTER 26: UNKNOWN PLEASURES Sunday 14th February 2016
CHAPTER 34: KEEP IT UNREAL Sunday 14th August 2016. Now Available on DEMAND PROGRESS, DVD shipping expected mid-September

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