Picture Credit: Moser vs Ashmore @wozzablog
Hosted by the magnificently moustachioed Giovanni Lombardo Jr, ENDVR:18 was presented in a very different style. Lombardi noted that this show was a taping, something I’ve never heard any ENDVR show described as before. Wrestler introductions were made during their entrances, rather than in-ring. According to what little that has been revealed, tonight’s show is a recording for a new project they are trying out. Results should be interesting.
Kicking off the show was a Natural Progression series qualifier between one of the pioneers of the Women of PROGRESS division Pollyanna against up and comer Chakara
Polly made a rather unusual plea with PROGRESS management to be given another chance in the NPS, after her temper got the better of her at Chapter 38 and she was defeated by Jinny. She was given this match against Chakara, a trainee from the Projo and IPW training school that has been making a name for herself as one to watch. Polly started out with multiple pin attempts, desperate to win as quick as possible. Her desperation left her vulnerable for a surprising barrage of offence from Chakara, who controlled the flow of the match for a long while. Chakara got in Polly’s face, stating she couldn’t Jinny “and you can’t beat me!” Chakara’s boastful nature and inexperience allowed for Polly to come back, hitting her beautiful top rope stomp. Chakara surprised Polly with a bicycle kick for an über-close pin attempt. Polly continued the punishment, but continued to get frustrated at Chakara’s resilience. This would cost her as Chakara caught Polly with an inside cradle for the huge upset. From my angle, it seemed Chakara’s shoulders were down, while others in the crowd shouted about something during the winning pinfall, but it mattered not – Polly is out of NPS and she presumably won’t get another chance.
A visibly upset Polly was inconsolable by the audience’s love for her, as she left questioning what had just happened. Meanwhile, Chakara has a Chapter date in her near future. A big opportunity in her young career.
This match told a very nice story and Chakara gave a strong showing, while Pollyanna was her usual excellent self.
Jack Sexsmith vs Shen Woo
The strains of “I Touch Myself” began to the crowd’s delight, but Sexsmith wasn’t allowed to make his usual entrance as Shen Woo attacked him before he’d even become visible to the crowd. Sexsmith didn’t even get to put his ring gear on, being brought out in shorts and ugg boots!
After Sexsmith hit a top rope strike, he jammed his leg and was in a lot of pain, his uggs obviously not providing the support that was needed for such a move.
Woo attacked the leg viciously, trying to make a huge impact in his return to ENDVR. Sexsmith fought through the pain to take Woo down enough for him to apply Mr Cocko, but the attempt at locking it in was unsuccessful. Sexsmith fought out of a leg grapevine and countered a figure four leg lock into an inside cradle for the win.
Although I wasn’t too hot on the same finish being used in two consecutive matches, they told a compelling story to show a vicious nature to Woo, who only lost when he got too cocky.
Bea Priestley vs Livvi
Priestley continued to goad her haters by entering to Shoot to Thrill and wearing an Ospreay coat. This match was the surprise hit of the night for me, with both laying into each other with hard strikes. Priestley cockily slapped Livvi, who rebutted with clotheslines and a big Northern Light Suplex. After missing a shoulder charge and hitting the ring post, Livvi was left damaged throughout the match with strong work on the limb by Priestley. After catching herself on the ropes, Livvi had her arm yanked over the top rope by an interfering Chakara, allowing Bea to lock in a Kimura for the tap out. Chakara celebrated with Priestley, signifying their union as the new girls to contend with. Livvi received a rapturous round of applause from the Ultras in attendance, and well deserved as both ladies put in a great effort and delivered a strong showing.
The only tag match on the card saw the unbeaten in Progress tandem of the South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper & Travis Banks) against the Dazzler Team of Darrell Allen & Earl Black Jr. Though both teams are not fan favourites, the Dazzlers definitely had the lions share of fan support.
This match was, quite frankly, fantastic. From Cooper and Banks using Allen for a chopping contest (which Allen himself seemed to win in retaliation) to EBJ taking to Trip to Suplay City, the action here was non stop. A particular highlight was Allen monkey-flipping Cooper into Banks, resulting in an accidental huracanrana! Dahlia Black’s attempt at interference was simply met by a Dazzler Superkick! Some dissension seemed to arise between Black Jr and Allen from a failed pin attempt, all seemingly continuing from their arguments at PTNTL the night before where they lost two matches. Referee “Little” Tom Scarborough was caught up in the chaos, which allowed Banks to hit Black Jr with a spanner. Banks tossed the Spanner to Allen, who of course was caught with it in his hand by his tag partner. The argument allowed the SPPT to take advantage and lay Allen out with an assisted DDT for the win.
Post match Allen tried to talk sense into Black Jr, who accepted a handshake only to German Suplay the Dazzler. EBJ continued the beat down until RJ Singh ran in to break up the fight. Black Jr told both men to “go back to the retirement home.”
The third Women of PROGRESS match saw Dahlia Black take on Laura Di Matteo. TK Cooper was at ringside of course, but got taken out by a Di Matteo suicide dive. Black took advantage of the situation by ramming Laura’s head into a the concrete wall of the Bedford. Black missed on her attempt at her top rope moonsault (which would have missed had Laura moved or not, but it was still a beautiful dive) but still managed to heave Laura to the floor. Distracting the referee, Dahlia allowed for TK to set up for his signature right hand. Laura was one step ahead though, and smack herself against the ring apron very loudly. The sound made referee Tom turn around and see Cooper over Laura, fist still cocked. At the behest of the crowd telling him the whitest of white lies, Scarborough sent Cooper to the back (in a very enthusiastic manner). Di Matteo took the win shortly thereafter with an elevated back cracker. A fun match as expected.
Body Guy Roy Johnson once again left the door open for anyone to take him up on the Wasteman Challenge. Making the challenge tonight was none other than RJ Singh, making his first appearance in a Progress ring since his retirement match in November 2014. When Johnson enquirers as to whether they were going to wrestle or spit bars, RJ said “I’m 35, I’m not going to rap!” But did go ahead and say they were about to go to town, and we were going to witness some brown on brown. Cringeworthy, but knowingly so.
This was a nice match that allowed Body Guy to show off some impressive power. Despite fumbling an attempted of an RJ crossbody, Body Guy made up for it with a fall away slam, stalling vertical suplex and crowd-poppingly awesome gorilla press into a power slam. RJ made the most of his comeback and ascended the top turnbuckle to attempt the Singh-ton Bomb. However, Earl Black Jr showed up to cost RJ the match by attacking Body Guy, giving Johnson the win by disqualification. EBJ then attacked Singh, going off the deep end due to Singh’s earlier intervention. In a role reversal, Darrell Allen hit the ring to stop EBJ’s attack. Singh and Allen embraced, signifying a potential reunion of the Bhangra Knights from the ashes of the Dazzler Team. This match was arguably Johnson’s best performance in a singles match to date, while RJ looked like he’d never been away.
Damon Moser has been undefeated in ENDVR for well over a year, but tonight saw one of his tougher challenges in the Hipstar Ashmore. Ashmore is, for my money, the most improved wrestler on the roster. I always enjoyed his work, but since turning to the dark side with his new persona, he has really stepped up his game. These two engaged in a stiff contest with some hard strikes. Ashmore took the lead in the match after a brutal Death Valley Driver on the ring apron (that’s the hardest part of the ring, you know!). Both men exhibited their unique move sets and combos, with Ashmore sequence into a pop-up powerbomb backbreaker looking particularly impressive. Moser wasn’t lacking in that department either, with some vicious knee strikes eliciting the first “this is Progress” chant of the night. His coast to coast dropkick connected beautifully and the knee trembler connected for the three count. This was a tremendous match worthy of its main event position. It’s clear these two train with each other often as there was great chemistry and I would not mind seeing round two between this pair sooner rather later.
This ENDVR saw the regular faces of the brand engaging in new situations and felt really fresh. The Bedford helps with the feel of the show, being so intimate a venue that it’s hard not to get drawn into everything. Although it was an odd presentation with our host rarely being in the ring itself to present the show, the match quality was high and the stories were told superbly, whether it was the story of the match itself or the long term angle being presented. Performers really standing out tonight included Chakara, Johnson, Livvi and Ashmore, all putting in the best performances I’ve personally seen from them, while Pollyanna’s turmoil in her story is being really well performed and keeps you wondering where it’s going.
A top quality showcase for the Projo that will be on demand-progress.com in January.