Marty Scurll vs Zack Sabre Jnr (Chapter 1)
Jim Smallman introduces this match from the first ever show, voted match of the year in a Alternative Wrestling Magazine.
Battle between the members of the LDRS, at the time the undisputed British Tag team champions. Scurll gets a load of stick from the crowd from the off, mostly relating to his appearance on Take me out. Obviously both guys know each other very well and despite having different styles nobody can get the advantage early on – lots of reversals and acrobatic flip outs and seamless chain wrestling by both men. This goes back and forth, the crowd split between both men and gradually becomes more and more hard hitting, starting with a Scurll slap and a big kick in retaliation from Sabre Jnr. Scurll takes control using power moves and tries to lock in a figure four leg lock. Scurll goes for a big suplex but Sabre manages to reverse it into an arm bar but Scurll makes the ropes. Sabre takes charge with some brutal kicks before starting to work over the arm and wrist. Sabre hits a powerbomb which Scurll kicks out of only to get caught in another arm bar. Scurll fights back with some quick dropkicks and a suicide dive that takes out the first row at ringside. Action continues to go back and forth, both men hitting some big moves (including a 2nd rope assisted suplex and tornado DDT from Scurll and a perfectly executed dragon suplex from Sabre) but can’t put their opponent away. Both men get a load of close counts, exchanging move for move, Sabre locks in an arm bar but Scurll nearly turns it into a pin and then picks him up into a powerbomb. Scurll goes for a lung blower but Sabre reverses and hits a huge kick to Scurlls chest which puts both men on the floor but still no three count. After a series of back to back blows Scurll manages to reverse a back slide in to a pin of his own and finally gets the three count for the victory. Standing ovation from the crowd and both men give each other a couple of additional slaps before hugging in the ring.
An outstanding match from start to finish, Sabre Jnr showing why he is one of the best in the business and Scurll definitely shows that he is more than just his “Party Marty” gimmick and is genuinely talented in the ring. Definitely a 5 star classic!
The London Riots vs Darrell Allen & Danny Garnell (Chapter 3)
Jim Smallman introduces the teams, giving some back story to the match and the fact that the Riots have been a thorn in the side of PROGRESS since their debut, and the team of Allen and Garnell being named the Bastard Squad by fans of Progress.
Match kicks off as an all out brawl. Allen and Davies in the ring, Allens speed gives him the advantage early on. On the outside Rob Lynch pile drives Garnell on the hard floor before retrieving a chair. Allen breaks it up with a super kick and then tosses Davies into Lynch destroying the chair. Lynch and Garnell go toe to toe in the ring exchanging hard chops and clothes lines until Garnell hits a German suplex and DDT to take control until Davies enters the ring and breaks it up. Darrell Allen gets the hot tag and hits a double dropkick on the riots, again utilising his speed and some innovative moves against his far bigger opponents. Eventually the size advantage takes over and Allen gets isolated by the Riots. After getting worked over for a long time Allen finally manages to make the tag, Garnell comes in but is eventually overcome by the Riots too. Allen and Lynch battle to the top rope where Allen hits a bit kick to the side of his head, he tries to follow up off the top rope but the Riots catch him and hit a huge double team powerbomb to pick up the three count.
Garnell goes to check on Allen but the Riots return to the ring and take out Garnell with a steel chair as well as their cricket bat, culminating in putting his ankle in the chair and hitting it with the cricket bat (cue crowd chants of “That’s not cricket!”) Riots get on the mic and issue an open challenge to any team any team – stating that this is a war against PROGRESS management.
Mark Andrews vs Will Ospreay (Chapter 4) The first match from the Natural Progression series
Match starts with some rapid chain wrestling, a far more mat based start than you would expect for two high flyers and lots of Malfoy chants directed at Andrews. The speed on show is remarkable and the momentum swings back and forth repeatedly and the action eventually ends up outside crashing into the front row. Back in the ring Ospreay starts to take control and slows Andrews down. Andrews manages to fight back with some high flying moves including a standing somersault senton.
Momentum goes back and forth; neither guy can really take advantage for any period of time, both men end up climbing the turnbuckles ultimately with Ospreay nailing a devastating reverse-rana but still didn’t pick up the win. Ospreay goes for a 450 splash but Andrews moves out of the way and soon after manages to hit a springboard rana, rolling Ospreay up for the three count. Huge ovation at the end of the match for both men.
Genuinely breath taking match and solid performances from both men.
RJ Singh vs Darrell Allen (Chapter 5)
Singh had been issuing challenges with the stipulation that if anybody beat him they could join his Bollywood Empire. At Chapter 5 he didn’t know who his opponent would be but out came his long time tag team partner Darrell Allen.
Singh bad mouths Allen before the bell, telling him he has been a loser in his time in PROGRESS, Allen says that they have never gone one on one so why not find out if Singh really is King. Technical start to the match, both men very agile, quick and skilled matching moves and reversals and both getting some quick roll ups for two counts. As partners they know each other’s moves very well so there is a lot of sparring dodging of moves. Allen hits a suicide dive through the ropes onto Singh whose management get sent away from ring side. Singh takes control and tries to slow the pace down but Allen fights back until Singh folds him up with a huge clothesline. Every time Allen tries to fight back Singh manages to slow him down again. Razzler Dazzler followed by a German suplex only gets Allen a 2 count, he heads up top but gets distracted by the Director returning to the stage. Singh tries to lock in the Ethnic submission but Allen manages to reverse into a cradle pin for the win.
After the match Singh offers Allen a handshake and they embrace in the ring. Singh’s management attack Allen from behind but Singh breaks it up and teams with Allen to hit the Bhangra Buster. As the Knights are leaving the bump into the London Riots who are on their way out for their match and they have a little standoff … a taster of things to come in later Chapters.
Overall a very good match with lots of technical mat wrestling as well as some high speed action too with a good finish to boot.
Nathan Cruz vs Jimmy Havoc (Chapter 6)
Jimmy at the time was on a losing streak he was desperate to break; Cruz was trying to prove he was still one of the best having lost the PROGRESS championship.
From the off the crowd are hugely behind Havoc (oh so different to how things are now in PROGRESS) A mat based start to the match with Cruz controlling the early going, taunting both Havoc and the crowd at The Garage. Havoc fights back proving he has a tonne of technical ability too. Crux regains control with a bit of help from his giant bodyguard on the outside. Cruz brings a chair in to the ring, and even offers it to Havoc who throws it out of the ring as he wants to prove his ability as a wrestler. Cruz continues to control Havoc all the while verbally taunting him, every time Havoc gets the slightest bit of offence in Cruz knocks him back down. Havoc gets thrown outside and barely makes it back in before the ten count, the crowd start to get really behind him again and some slaps from Cruz only serve to fire him up hitting a hurricanrana and a fireman carry slam on Cruz as he begins to take control. Cruz manages a big German suplex with a great bridge for two before Havoc locks in a cross face which nearly makes Cruz tap, however he fights out of it, and manages to reverse it into a tombstone piedriver and picks up the win, leaving Havoc still looking for his first win.
After the match Cruz gets on the mic and runs down Havoc even more, I don’t think I have ever seen anybody talk so much during a match! Cruz says he is going to destroy Jimmy and make an example of him, then has his bodyguard hit him with a massive chokeslam followed by another off the second rope before leaving the ring. Havoc refuses any attention and manages to leave the ring on his own two feet to a huge ovation.
El Ligero vs Noam Dar (Chapter 7)
Final match is Jim Smallman’s personal favourite from PROGRESS so far. These two faced off at the very first show, by Chapter 7 El Ligero is the PROGRESS champion.
Dar gets on the mic as soon as he gets to the ring, and almost immediately gets taunted with “Deep Fried Mars Bars” chants.
Ligero goes right after Dar, drop kicking him to the outside but when they get back in the ring Dar takes over briefly. Momentum swings quickly back and forth. Ligero uses his speed and lucha style to gain the advantage early on but Dar fights back and starts to work over Ligeros legs.
Crowd is split pretty evenly between the 2 men as LIgero ups the tempo to briefly regain the upper hand but Dar goes straight back to the leg, everything he does focussing on Ligeros left leg, even a pin attempt that when Ligero kicked out Dar immediately locked in the Champagne Super Knee bar but Ligero was close enough to the ropes to break the hold. Anything that they throw at one another just doesn’t seem to be able to put the opponent away. Ligero makes his way up to the top rope only to be drop kicked off the turn buckle, following it up shortly after with a suicide dive before going to show boat on the bar. Ligero nearly scores with a roll up before heading back to the top rope only to be stopped again and end up on the receiving end of a Dar superplex. Dar drags Ligero by his injured leg to the ropes but this time he is cut off and superplexed by LIgero. Ligero nails some big moves but still can only get a two count, Dar showing some great resilience and being spurred on by the crowd. Ligero is looking to finish the match but Dar locks in the Champagne super leg bar again, Ligero barely escapes. Both men are fighting on the apron and LIgero manages a super kick followed by a death valley driver on the side of the ring, Dar barely make sit back in without getting counted out.
The tempo suddenly pick up again, both men throwing everything they have, Ligero hits a C4L but Dar kicks out and gives him the finger, Ligero hits the move again, this time picking up the three count for the win.
After the match Dar reluctantly shakes Ligeros hand as both men get a great reaction from the crowd.
Overall a great selection of matches which really show what PROGRESS is all about and highlights what they have done so far. It gives a good cross section of different styles and types of matches. If somebody hadn’t seen PROGRESS before or didn’t know what they did this would be a great introduction into it – could even say if somebody was new to British Wrestling this would be a great introduction. The introductions by Jim Smallman are good too as he is relaxed in front of the camera and not reading from a script, not only that he also alludes to some “current events” in the world of PROGRESS which will hopefully get people to look into the promotion further.
A very good concept and hopefully they will do more like this down the line.