Review: PROGRESS Chapter 61 (14/1/18)

Added by Matt Seese

Before the show kicked off, Mark Andrews came down to address his injury and why he wouldn’t be competing against Chris Ridgeway on this chapter. This caused Eddie Dennis to come out and bash Mark, saying he’s faking the injury so he won’t have to face him down the line. Eddie did everything in his power to get Andrews to hit him, going as far as spitting in his face, but nothing worked. Andrews just walked to the back.

PROGRESS Tag Team Titles: Grizzled Young Veterans (Gibson & Drake) (c) def. Mustache Mountain (14:32)

It took a good portion of the match for Gibson and Drake to forcefully make Seven and Bate take them seriously, but when the match got serious and strayed away from the comedy, it got good. Gibson and Drake are becoming a fun team to watch and string together tandem moves very well. They’re still relatively unproven overall as a team given that they beat only half of CCK to win the belts, but this win will go a long way for their legitimacy in PROGRESS **½

Drew Parker def. Chris Ridgeway (11:30)

With Mark Andrews pulled due to injury, Drew Parker became a last second replacement, and let me just say he was tremendous in this match. Fighting like he had something to prove, he more than held his own against one of the UK’s finest in Chris Ridgeway and even got the upset win in the end with a 450 Splash. A minor setback for Ridgeway, but surely it’s onward and upward from here ***½

Charli Evans & Millie McKenzie def. Bea Priestley & Nina Samuels (11:04)

McKenzie and Evans were out to exact a bit of revenge from the Live At The Dome show earlier in the week, and they did just that. McKenzie made some youthful, inexperienced mistakes here such as turning her back on the opponent in the ring, but Samuels getting too cocky allowed McKenzie to take advantage and hit a top rope superplex. She then followed it up with a Destroyer for the win as Millie stays hot in the win column in PROGRESS **¾

WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne (c) def. Joseph Conners (13:53)

Joseph Conners finally got his WWE UK Title match, and I say this as respectfully as I can, thank God it’s over. Conners is as boring as it gets for me, and this match really showed why. Had it been anyone else who is a name in independent wrestling in this match, it’d have been infinitely better. Pete’s hope spots would’ve gotten fans to bite, and Conners dominant spurts would’ve been entertaining and not have fallen flat as they did. Perhaps I’m being harsh towards him, but he shows now authentic emotion. It all looks like someone told him he has to act this way and it comes off very fake. Thankfully Pete retained here, and we may possibly see him in the Rumble ***¼

Will Ospreay def. Adam Brooks (19:05)

Will Ospreay is on pace for something very special here in 2018, health willing. In the span of 20 days, he’s had two ****½ matches and now a ****¼. Giving everything he could here to help make Adam Brooks’ PROGRESS debut a smash hit was terrific, and Adam Brooks is one hell of a douche in the ring and I LOVE it. The little things like taking time to cheer for himself after pushing Roberts into the ropes to crotch Ospreay to slaps to the face help make him a very polarizing wrestler. Some will love the brash arrogance, some will see it as him being an ass. Either way, it makes for some really entertaining wrestling, and this match was a great example of it. The two showed that they know each other very well as both men countered a lot of what the other was trying to throw at them early on. As the match got deeper, the resiliency of both men really began to shine, creating some epic near fall moments. All in all, this was a terrific match, and definitely something you should go out of your way to see ****¼

Mark Haskins & Jimmy Havoc def. Aussie Open (14:52)

This was very much a forgettable match, but it did a lot in further establishing Haskins and Havoc as even bigger destructive heels who are willing to do anything to anyone in order to win. The punishment Kyle Fletcher suffered in this match was very palpable, and Davis doing everything to help his partner out and win the match was a really great babyface builder for the both of them. However, they would come up just short in the end as Haskins and Havoc would hit the Acid Rainmaker/Kick combo for the win.
​PROGRESS Wrestling World Championship **¾

Travis Banks (c) def. Chris Brookes (20:00)

I thought initially that the sprint style of the beginning of the match would hurt the overall quality of it, but as the match progressed, the storytelling began to take over, and it did so beautifully. As the match went from its middle stages to the finish, Banks’ insistence on hitting the Brainbuster continued to backfire on him, nearly costing him the match. There was a point where he had Brookes in the Lion’s Clutch, and as Brookes got to the ropes, he tapped immediately after. Banks, thinking he had retained his title, got up to celebrate, only to get hit with the dreaded Death By Roll-Up for a near fall. This led to an exchange of kicks that ended in Banks kicking referee Chris Roberts, knocking him down. With Banks distracted yet again, Brookes hits the Praying Mantis on him and makes the cover, but with Roberts down, no referee was around to make the count. With his face masked in frustration, Brookes makes his way over to Jim Smallman and grabs the PROGRESS World Title. As he readies himself to strike Banks with the belt, he has second thoughts and it almost costs him the match now. However, as Banks went for Slice of Heaven, Lykos tossed Brookes a piece of sheet metal which Brookes struck Banks with. He followed this up with another Praying Mantis, but due to the slow count from the injured referee, Banks kicks out yet again. However, almost immediately, Brookes locks on the Octopus Hold, but Banks’ tag team partner TK Cooper rushes down and yanks Chris Roberts out of the ring. Banks would then hit the Slice of Heaven followed by the Kiwi Crusher, but Brookes kicks out! But just as soon as hope rushed back into the minds of Brookes and fans watching, Banks instantly took it away, locking in the Lion’s Clutch forcing Brookes to tap, concluding another terrific title defense for Banks.
Post match, an interesting interaction would go down between Banks and Cooper, starting with this excellent visual ***¾

For those of you who don’t remember, TK Cooper returned last chapter, but he laid down a challenge to his long time tag team partner Travis Banks for his PROGRESS World Title. Clearly that’s all that has been on his mind as you can see above. However, his involvement in the match did create some dissension between he and Banks, leading to Banks holding the title above Cooper’s head as they walked up the ramp.

Show Grade: C+ (7.1/10)

It took a good bit of time for this show to start clicking like your typical PROGRESS show, but when Ospreay vs. Brooks rolled around, business picked up. That match and the last half of the main event definitely carried this show as the tag title match lacked any kind of drama. The more the women are featured, the better they seem to get. It’s a positive trend that I genuinely love to see. Millie McKenzie is a star on the rise, so keep your eyes out for her in the coming year. As mentioned before, Ospreay is on another level of wrestling right now that only maybe four or five men can match. He has perfected his style while integrating other styles in with it, and he’s cut down on a lot of the unnecessary, meaningless moves that usually can plague a match full of flips. Now onto Travis Banks. Because the storyline with Pete was very subpar at best, Banks has had to scratch and claw to truly prove himself as champion, and this chapter’s main event was a huge step forward for that. While his matches with Riddle, Lee, and especially Ospreay were terrific, they all lacked that unpredictability and story to help launch it to the next level. This had that story along with very good ring work. I’m very excited to see where this takes Travis and the rest involved in tonight’s main event because it could help PROGRESS get its terrific storytelling ways back on track. For now, this is Matt signing off until next time!