For the first time seeing PROGRESS in Manchester involves not a ten minute walk to the Ritz from Piccadilly (or a zero-minute walk from Oxford Road); but rather, a tram ride into the arse end of Streford, as the promotion runs Victoria Warehouse for the first time. While the journey is fine on a sunny day, you wouldn’t really want to make it on a cold, wet afternoon in November. Then again, given that this show hasn’t sold out, this might well be the first and last Progress event in this venue. Time will tell. Match times are lifted from Twitter.
Connor Mills & Maverick Mayhew vs. Aussie Open
To say that Mills and Mayhew are green would be a minor understatement; if you pricked either one with a pin, chlorophyll would come out. However, they have an enjoyable spotfest with the ever-improving Aussie Open. Double-team Barrel-Roll Michinkou Driver on Mayhew sees the Antipodeans pick up the win at 8.32.
Zack Sabre Jr vs. Mark Andrews
This was good. This was very good indeed. Sabre is arguably one of the best workers anywhere in the world at the moment, while Andrews excels at playing the babyface in peril. A cracking match ends with Sabre making Andrews tap to an insane stump-puller type submission at 15.32. Superb stuff.
David Starr vs. WALTER
These two have wrestled a gazillion times, so a good bout was assured. It’s incredible to think how far Walter has come as a worker. I suspect there are a few revisionists out there who are claiming that the Atlas tournament marked the beginning of his ascent: which would be absolute balls. Walter looked incredibly ordinary in that tournament. However, since then he’s come on in leaps and bounds, to the point where he’s PWG champion, and deservedly so. What I like about WALTER is that not only does he sell, but he sells credibly – we’re not in ‘Brian Cage taking an armdrag’ territory here. Starr spends a lot of the match working over Walter’s leg, but the latter catches Starr with an inside cradle to get the win at 13.43. Solid match.
Mark Haskins, Jimmy Havoc & Flash Morgan Webster vs. Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate
Trent Seven is injured, so this is a handicap match. Nothing mind-blowing, but it did what it needed to in furthering the “morally conflicted Webster” storyline. A shot with the barbed-wire bat on Bate sees the UK Indy veterans get the victory at 13.03.
After the match Christian Michael Jacobi came put to confront Pete Dunne. Dunne made to leave, but was stopped in his tracks by the appearance of Ilja Dragunov to a HUGE pop. Jacobi called Manchester a shithole, which was pretty funny (well, Stretford is definitely a shithole), before setting up Dunne/Dragunov for Wembley.
PROGRESS World Title Match: Travis Banks © vs. Jack Sexsmith
Holy Jesus, where to begin. They played a video package for Sexsmith before the match, and technical difficulties ensued. This turned out in hindsight to be a foreshadowing of what would go on in the ring. If this was Sexsmith’s opportunity to show that he was a main event talent, then he totally and utterly blew it. From his piss-weak punches and kicks at the start of the match, to the blown Shiranui on the apron, to the Shiranui in the ring where he managed to land on his own head, this was woeful. Given the placing of the match on the card you knew there wasn’t a title change in offing; but it was still a relief when Banks made Sexsmith pass out in the over-the-shoulder crossface at 16.12. Is there a place for Sexsmith on the card? Absolutely. Is that place in the main event? This match gave a conclusive answer to that question.
ATLAS Championship Match: Doug Williams vs. Rampage Brown vs. Rob Lynch vs. Joseph Connors
PROGRESS were a tad unlucky in that this match for the vacant Atlas title took place a few days before a WWE 205 Live show that Joseph Connors wrestled on. But even so, Connors looked like a fish out of water here –while the other three did big-man spots, Connors did a few chicken-shit heel spots and took the odd bump here and there. The fact he’s not over in the slightest, as ever, didn’t help. The main question here was: could Doug do it? And he did! Chaos Theory on Connors sees Williams become the new Atlas champ. A genuine feelgood moment.
PROGRESS Women’s Title Match: Toni Storm © vs Jinny
Let’s be brutally honest; Jinny’s gimmick and promos are superb, but she’s not the greatest worker. Therefore this match was designed to hide those shortcomings, and to that extent it worked very well. Brawl around the area to start with, interference from the House of Couture, a referee bump…it all ends with Jinny rolling up Storm at 18.52 with a handful of tights to become the new PROGRESS woman’s champion. As a main event, it was fine.
Overall – a very enjoyable show on the whole – even Sexsmith/Banks was entertaining in a perverse way.