Pictured here, Tommy End as he awaits the champion, The Villain Marty Scurll (picture credit @Dazza1889)
After an action-packed trip to Manchester that saw a new number one contender crowned, PROGRESS returned to The Electric Ballroom in Camden for Chapter 29: Practically PROGRESS in Every Way. A show full of significance as titles were defended, feuds were furthered and a tournament reached its conclusion just as another was getting into full swing. Not to mention the much anticipated WWE Global Cruiserweight Series qualifying matches, both of which will be available on WWE.com at some point. It was also announced that the fourth itteration of the Natural Progression Series would be to crown the first ever PROGRESS Women’s Champion! A fantastic move for PROGRESS that the crowd reacted to rapturously. The women’s division has been steadily growing in importance due to some fantastic performances from all involved and this should prove to be a great way to showcase the breadth of talented wrestlers within PROGRESS and beyond. There was one more bit of news before the show could begin proper, Mark Haskins made his way down to the ring and demanded a spot in the Super Strong Style 16 tournament, joining the already announced Sami Callihan and Mikey Whiplash.
1. Atlas Championship Tournament – Group B Match: Michael Dante vs Damo O’Connor
Kicking off the show was the first match in Group B of the Atlas Championship Tournament, which saw ‘The Beast of Belfast’ Damo O’Connor take on Michael Dante of the Sumerian Death Squad, although the SDS had recently lost the right to team together in PROGRESS after the events of Chapter 27 and, perhaps for that reason, Dante would be looking to make a big impression here and prove to the crowd that he has what it takes as a singles competitor. But it was Damo who controlled proceedings for much of the match, wearing down Dante in workman-like fashion before attempting to end things with the Ulster Plantation, only for Dante to wriggle free and catch him with a huge spear for the three-count and two all-important group points. This was a solid opening match, both guys hit hard and shook the ring on more than one occasion, while Dante’s spear was shown to be a devastating finishing move that could end a bout at any moment.
2. Global Cruiserweight Series Qualifier: Zack Sabre Jr. vs ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster
An excited (and self-censoring) PROGRESS crowd greeted both performers in this first British qualifying match for WWE’s upcoming 32-man Global Cruiserweight Series. The match started off at a fast pace, Zack being put on the back foot by Webster’s unique offence in the ring and his dives out of it. Although stunned by a series of tope suicidas followed by a big tope con hilo, Zack regained control back in the ring and went to work on Flash, tying him up in all manner of holds before applying a brutal seated double-arm lever to force Webster to tap. This was a really enjoyable bout that demonstrated Webster’s explosiveness, before exemplifying the technical wizardry of Zack Sabre Jr. As it transpired, Flash was injured during the bout, tearing ankle ligaments and dislocating his right shoulder. Huge guts and heart from him to finish the match and a credit to his ability that I didn’t realise he was legitimately injured until he tweeted about it. Best wishes to Flash, I hope he makes a speedy recovery.
3. Global Cruiserweight Series Qualifier: Pete Dunne vs Jack Gallagher
The second Global Cruiserweight Series qualifying match saw ‘The Bruiserweight’ Pete Dunne make his return as a single competitor in PROGRESS, his last match being a semi-final loss to Morgan Webster in the Natural Progression Series II. Dunne has grown far more assured as a competitor in the intervening years and is making a great name for himself up and down the UK, but there was no love lost between him and the PROGRESS faithful in this match. Meanwhile, ‘Gentleman’ Jack Gallagher has won the crowd over in recent months with his superlative grappling skill and some big wins against impressive opponents, namely Timothy Thatcher and British wrestling legend Johnny Kidd. Gallagher’s fancy offence provided a great counterpoint to the more physical and methodical style of Dunne, but he often struggled to build up any real momentum as ‘The Bruiserweight’ repeatedly cut him off and worked over his arm. Gallagher, however, demonstrated that for all the showmanship in his style, he is a dangerous competitor who can end a match in an instant, as he did here. Catching Dunne’s leg, Gallagher kicked out the standing knee and dropped down into a knee bar to force the submission victory in Volk Han-esque fashion. Another very enjoyable match, both guys did a fantastic job and Dunne shined even in defeat. Gallagher’s an incredibly talented wrestler who’s becoming a firm fan-favourite in PROGRESS and is a great addition to WWE’s Global Cruiserweight Series.
4. Natural Progression Series III – FINAL: Pastor William Eaver vs Damon Moser
This was a special occasion for PROGRESS, as it marked the first Natural Progression Series final to feature graduates of the ProJo wrestling school in Damon Moser and ‘The Pastor’ William Eaver. Moser’s had a somewhat rockier ride to acceptance in PROGRESS than The Pastor, being introduced trailing at the heels of The Faceless, who would soon unveil themselves as The Origin and discard Moser from the group. He has recovered well since then and there’s a growing confidence in his performances that speak of bigger things in his future, but this was the Lord’s Day and it was Eaver who would emerge the victor after a hard fought contest. The match started at a good clip, both guys quickly going for their respective finishers, only to have the other dodge the move and the action to spill out onto the floor. Eaver again went for the Clothesline From Heaven, but Moser ducked and Eaver’s arm collided with the ringpost. Moser took good advantage, stunning the Pastor with knee strikes and looking to soften him up for the Knee Trembler that he’s been using as his finisher. As the match wore on the action became very back-and-forth, but both men were showing signs of weariness and when Moser finally scored with the Knee Trembler, the Pastor somehow managed to kick out. He in turn hit Moser with the Clothesline From Heaven using his injured right arm, but the pain prevented him from making the cover in time and Moser too kicked out, only to ultimately succumb to a left-handed Clothesline From Heaven that secured Eaver the victory and a future PROGRESS title shot whenever he so desired. This was a very exciting match-up, both guys put in a great performance and the crowd responded accordingly.
5. Pick Your Opponent’s Tag Partner: Pollyanna & ??? vs Dahlia Black & ???
The issues between Pollyanna and Dahlia Black of the Pacific Power Couple have been growing in recent weeks, but while this match saw Pollyanna gain a measure of revenge, it may have also reawakened the ire of her long-standing rival. TK Cooper was banned from ringside, much to his and Dahlia’s disgust, but Dahlia believed she had an ace up her sleeve when she announced Jinny as Pollyanna’s tag team partner. The choice was a fairly predictable one, however, and so Polly had prepared for this eventuality by announcing that Dahlia would be teaming with Jinny’s personal assistant Elizabeth! The reaction this reveal received from the assembled masses is testament to the great story between Elizabeth and her highly abusive employer Jinny that has been largely playing out on ENDVR shows, which now seems set to spill out into the main chapter shows. The match itself was a bit awkward in places, perhaps owing to the odd pairings and the friction that caused in both teams, but when Elizabeth finally got her hands on Jinny the crowd erupted in approval! TK Cooper tried to interfere, but was stopped by Jack Sexsmith and beaten to the back, then in all the confusion Elizabeth caught Jinny with a back cracker to score the win. Suffice to say, Jinny was not best pleased and security had to rush the ring to separate all four wrestlers. HERE is Pollyanna’s epic Game Of Thrones inspired entrance.
6. Atlas Championship Tournament – Group B Match: Rampage Brown vs Joe Coffey
For the second Atlas Championship Tournament match of the evening, Rampage Brown took on ‘The Iron Man’ Joe Coffey in what would prove to be the best match of the tournament yet and one that exemplified everything you could possibly desire from a Big Lads division bout of such calibre. The pacing here was excellent, after testing each other on the mat in the early going, the match just kept building and building in intensity, neither competitor willing to give an inch to his opponent. The action spilled out onto the floor and fans were given little warning as Coffey and Rampage threw each other into their midst, sending beer flying and chairs clattering across the floor. As the exhaustion of such a physical bout began to set in, both men set to trading some absolutely brutal chops, Rampage initially getting the better of Coffey, only for The Iron Man to find some hidden reserves and match Brown in intensity. As the fifteen minute time-limit expired, Coffey & Rampage were still battering the hell out of each other and referee Paz had to bravely fling himself between the two warriors to break them apart. As hard-hitting a match as you’re likely to see, this is what the Atlas Championship Tournament is all about. Fantastic stuff and I can’t wait to see a more decisive encounter between the two in the future. Coffey, in his PROGRESS singles debut, asserted himself as the quality competitor his reputation speaks of, one who more than belongs in PROGRESS.
7. The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) & FSU (Eddie Dennis & Mark Andrews) vs The Origin (Nathan Cruz, El Ligero, Dave Mastiff & Zack Gibson)
The stakes were raised in this huge eight-man tag match by the dual stipulation: if The Origin were pinned the team that defeated them would receive a title shot, while if The Origin were victorious all four members would be entered into the Super Strong Style 16 tournament. With another shot at the PROGRESS tag titles it was easy to imagine some potential dissension between F.S.U. and The London Riots working in The Origin’s favour, but while thankfully both teams were entirely on the same page, Nathan Cruz and The Origin didn’t leave anything to chance. Cruz and Ligero appeared on the stage, claiming Mastiff and Gibson were absent before winding up the fans and goading Eddie Dennis to leave the ring and charge at them, only for Mastiff to emerge from the curtain and crush Eddie with a Finlay roll. Meanwhile, Zack Gibson made his way through the crowd and took out James Davis’ knee with The Riots’ own cricket bat, leaving Mark Andrews & Rob Lynch to fight all four men on their own. They did an admirable job of it in the early going, working well together until the numbers game took its toll and The Origin went to work. A vicious slingshot suplex from Nathan Cruz almost earned him the victory and a place in the SSS16 for all four members of The Origin, but James Davis limped his way back to the ring and turned the tide. He was further backed up by Eddie Dennis, who cleared the ring and then hit a big tandem dive with Mandrews that took out everyone, allowing The Riots to roll Cruz in the ring and hit a brutal double-team spear for the three count. This was an exciting, action-packed match that built so very well on the nefarious actions of The Origin over the past few months. The crowd is so used to seeing Cruz and co. steal the victory at a moment’s notice that when (for once) The Origin instead got a measure of comeuppance, the reaction was suitably ecstatic.
8. PROGRESS World Title Match: Marty Scurll (c) vs Tommy End
After defeating all-comers in the Thunderbastard match at Chapter 27, Marty Scurll felt that there were no worthy challengers for his title, so he held an open challenge at Chapter 28 in Manchester to determine who (if anyone) had the right to compete for his belt. The man who answered the call was Tommy End and he brought the crowd to their feet by knocking the PROGRESS Champion out cold to earn himself this title shot. Suffice to say, ‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll wasn’t about to let the same thing happen twice and this time around had Tommy’s spinning heel kick well scouted, but similarly End had was prepared for the cross-face chickenwing and Marty struggled to apply the hold in full. Indeed, it seemed that a new champion was about to be crowned when Tommy at last connected with the heel kick and left Marty sprawled on the mat, but the lights went out and Mikey Whiplash rushed down to the ring, hitting Scurll with a chair to give him the DQ victory before screaming that it was his time and attacking Tommy, much to the crowd’s displeasure. End fought Whiplash off, who retreated to the back, before getting on the mic and demanding a place in the SSS16 so he could destroy Mikey Whiplash and earn himself another shot at Scurll’s title by winning the tournament. This was a great match up until the interruption from Whiplash, Tommy and Scurll work very well together, but beyond these two shorter encounters in PROGRESS it definitely feels like there’s a bigger match brewing between the two. Whiplash’s return to PROGRESS was a dramatic one and it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Overall this was another enjoyable show from PROGRESS, although it did feel odd to see a show end in a non-finish, especially for such an anticipated title match. But the main event finish couldn’t detract from what an all-round great show this was, highlighted by the Global Cruiserweight Series matches, a crazy eight-man tag match and the no-quarter-given brutality of Rampage Brown & Joe Coffey’s Atlas Championship Tournament encounter.
Chapter 29: Practically PROGRESS in Every Way will be available for download shortly over at http://demandprogress.pivotshare.com while the Global Cruiserweight Series qualifying matches will appear on WWE.com