After running Birmingham for the first time to kick off 2017, PROGRESS returned to the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London for Chapter 43: Tropic Thunderbastard. With a stacked card featuring a big tag team debut in the form of The Kings of the North, the titular Thunderbastard match pitting eight opponents against each other for a shot at the PROGRESS title, and the PROGRESS title match itself that saw Jimmy Havoc taking on ‘The Bruiserweight’ Pete Dunne, fresh off the back of the WWE UK Championship Tournament that he and British Strong Style stablemates Tyler Bate & Trent Seven featured heavily in.
The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) vs The Kings of the North (Damien Corvin & Bonesaw)
Getting the show started was a fast-paced, hard-hitting dose of tag team action courtesy of PROGRESS stalwarts The London Riots and the debuting Kings of the North, who plied their trade well in Ireland for OTT last year and look set to more regularly feature on mainland shores in 2017. I enjoyed this one a fair bit, good back-and-forth action with The Riots teasing the slingshot spear finish, only to be denied a number of times. In spite of some recent mixed results for the former PROGRESS tag team champions this was a great display from them, both Rob & JD hitting some big dives and tag team offence, and in the end they picked up the finish here after the District Line powerbomb and GBH spear. A solid debut for the Kings of the North, definitely would like to see more of them in PROGRESS at some point.
Natural Progression Series IV, Opening Round – Laura Di Matteo vs Chakara
Next up was an opening round match in the Natural Progression Series IV that saw Chakara (making her first appearance on a Chapter show) facing off against Laura Di Matteo. This was a solid first round match, Chakara did a good job expressing her character and controlling the match while Laura’s looking more confident out there, picking up the win after submitting Chakara in just over eight minutes. She also hit that crazy tope suicida again, just proper goes for it. Big fan.
‘The Bodyguy’ Roy Johnson vs Jurn Simmons
Coming off the back of his participation in the WWE UK Championship Tournament, ‘Bodyguy’ Roy Johnson (sporting some particularly “wavy” LED glasses) was all business here and, as such, there was no Wasteman Challenge ahead of the match. Which was just as well, considering how long it took Jurn Simmons to make his entrance. Four minutes or so of the man gyrating and air guitaring his way to the ring while the crowd, half-bemused, half in awe, chanted “JURN!” endlessly. The match itself was pretty good, Jurn packs a punch and Roy did a good job fighting back here, hitting a nice Samoan drop at one point. Ultimately, the former wXw World Champion made a successful debut after putting the Bodyguy away with a massive piledriver in just under 10 minutes.
Ringkampf (Axel Dieter Jr. & Big Daddy Walter) vs The South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper & Travis Banks, w/ Dahlia Black)
Closing out the first half of the show was a big tag match pitting the no.1 contenders for the PROGRESS tag titles, The South Pacific Power Trip of TK Cooper & Travis Banks with Dahlia Black, against Ringkampf of Axel Dieter Jr. and Big Daddy Walter who put themselves in title contention with an impressive win over The London Riots at Chapter 42. One thing that struck me in this match is how well both teams have their characters nailed down. Ringkampf just exude a no-nonsense, serious attitude that they back up exceptionally in the ring. Meanwhile, The South Pacific Power Trip as a whole are a great act, TK & Travis are improving as a tag pairing each time out there and Dahlia’s fantastic at riling up the crowd. The result here was a hugely exciting tag bout and my personal match of the night. The running theme was Dahlia’s continuing interference, which was brought abruptly to a close when she ate a big boot from Walter, sending her crashing off the apron. Some improvisation from TK Cooper saw the South Pacific Power Trio win the day, however, after Travis got the pin with TK preventing the kickout by holding Dieter’s leg down to the mat. This was hugely enjoyable to witness in person, the exchanges between Walter and the much smaller TK & Travis were excellent, his chops sounding absolutely devastating. Ringkampf in general are a fantastic tag team, Dieter & Walter provide a great contrast in spite of wrestling similar styles and I most definitely hope this isn’t the last we see of them in PROGRESS.
Thunderbastard Match – Mark Andrews vs Marty Scurll vs Trent Seven vs Jack Sexsmith vs Sebastian vs Zack Gibson vs Nathan Cruz vs Dave Mastiff
The penultimate match of the evening was the much anticipated Thunderbastard match, which would determine a new no.1 contender for the PROGRESS World Championship. Although originally planned to have an unnannounced line-up, PROGRESS revealed the eight competitors earlier in the week and all the remained was to see who’d be coming out first and who of the eight would emerge victorious. Starting things off we got Mark Andrews going up against Marty Scurll, with Trent Seven and Jack Sexsmith as the next two entries. Earlier in the show Eaver (who had been working as ring crew at Sebastian’s insistence) was put into the Thunderbastard match as a replacement for the injured Paul Robinson, but innevitably Seb took his place, much to the fans’ displeasure. Thankfully, he got his just desserts as Sexsmith rolled him up for the first elimination moments after he’d entered the match. An enraged Sebastian took his anger out of Sexsmith, who had to be helped to the back after a twisting unprettier, but this caused Eaver to snap and deck Sebastian with a forearm, much to the crowd’s delight! The final three additions to the match were all members of The Origin, but recent disagreements about the group’s direction and motivations saw them unable to get on the same page, Mastiff turning on Cruz and Gibson only to be taken out by his Origin stable mates. Sexsmith returned to the match and got a huge roar of approval for tapping out Nathan Cruz with a La Mistica-like slam into the Crippler Cockface, but got caught with the Helter Skelter brainbuster from Gibson for the three count. Ultimately it came down to Gibson and Mandrews, with the high flyer eliminating the Liverpudlian with a beautiful SSP to become no.1 contender to the PROGRESS World Title. This was a really fun match and might have been my favourite of the Thunderbastard matches yet, some great action throughout and a number of big moments that drew a great response from those in attendance.
PROGRESS World Championship – ‘The Bruiserweight’ Pete Dunne (c) vs Jimmy Havoc
Main event time and a much anticipated bout between PROGRESS World Champion and WWE UK Championship Tournament finalist ‘The Bruiserweight’ Pete Dunne defending his title against Jimmy Havoc, former antichrist of PROGRESS Wrestling and self-described ‘King of the Goths’. It started out at a quick pace and didn’t let up, the intensity on display from Dunne and Havoc especially evident as they brawled to the floor, made use of the ring apron and went crashing through chairs. Back in the ring Dunne attempted to control the pace, but found Havoc a tough challenge to deal with, in spite of the help being provided at ringside from his British Strong Style team mate Trent Seven. It was that factor that ultimately led to the abrupt finish, Havoc hitting the Acid Rainmaker only for Trent to interfere and save the title for British Strong Style. A disappointing finish to what was building to a really good match, but what happened next certainly made up for it as first ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster’s music hit, only to be followed by Mark Haskins! The two ran off Trent & Peter, then declared to a rapturous reaction from the assembled masses that they were both cleared to wrestle! So while British Strong Style still hold most of the gold in PROGRESS, Havoc’s post-match comments seem to indicate that an impromptu alliance will be formed to take back those titles.
Overall this was a fun show highlighted by that crazy South Pacific Power Trip vs Ringkampf tag match, but while the main event felt like a teaser for a much bigger match down the line the post-match returns of Webster & Haskins really closed the show on a fantastic high. The Thunderbastard was a real exciting match with lots of memorable moments and sets up for a huge title match down the line with Dunne vs Mandrews, while the opener of Kings of the North vs The London Riots did a great job of kicking off the show in good fashion. Elsewhere, I really enjoyed my first look at Jurn Simmons in person and definitely hope to see more of him in PROGRESS and Laura Di Matteo vs Chikara was a good entry to the Natural Progression Series. This wasn’t perhaps the best show PROGRESS has to offer, but it was a thoroughly entertaining one nonetheless and pushes on a number of stories in interesting directions. Can’t wait for the show next month, which already sold out moments after going on sale (and crashing the ticket site in the process).
Chapter 43: Tropic Thunderbastard will be available to watch on demand this weekend over at: Demand PROGRESS