LIVE from the O2 Ritz – Manchester, England
Natural Progression Series First Round Match: Drew Parker def. Spike Trivet (5:42)
This was a short but solid match, getting Parker more over against a despicable character like Trivet’s. The ring action was decent and served to be a good enough opener for the crowd. Parker is primed to make a deep run in this year’s Natural Progression Series, having more momentum than anyone else in the tournament **
Toni Storm & Charlie Morgan def. Chakara & Nina Samuels (9:19)
Toni Storm finally found some help in Charlier Morgan to go up against the House of Couture. It all worked perfectly for Storm. She found an equalizer and now after a few weeks of torment from Jinny and her gang, Storm was able to hit Strong Zero one more time on Chakara, sending a message to the leader. Then, out of nowhere, SUPERKICK. Morgan turns on Storm, joining the House of Couture, leaving Toni all alone in the PROGRESS Women’s division **½
Mark Andrews def. Flash Morgan Webster (10:15)
Flash was in desperate need of a win here, especially after his tainted victory over Doug Williams last chapter. This was a very back and forth match with neither man gaining any significant upper hand at all. Then Vicky Haskins comes out again. She distracts Mark, allowing Flash to drill him with a headbutt, but Webster tells her off. Vicky decides to take something with her, stealing Flash’s helmet. This distraction allows Andrews to take advantage, hitting Stun-dog Millionaire followed by a Shooting Star Press for the win. Flash wants to get it done on his own, but this shows that his win over Williams now looks like a fluke ***¼
Post match, Eddie Dennis is out, and he is out for Mark Andrews’ leg. Dennis strikes with a forearm and then places Mark’s leg in a chair (at the time, this was the week prior to his 205 Live tournament match), looking to break his leg. However, security intervened, taking the chair out of Dennis’ hands. They get the worst of it, eating fists and boots from Dennis on his way out, but they saved Mark, and that’s the important part.
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Tyler Bate (15:40)
The match starts exactly how you’d expect. A very technical feeling out process between two men who know each other very well. Tyler would gain control every so often, but because Sabre Jr. is so good, he’d be out of the hold in just a couple of seconds. Zack makes the mistake of getting sucked into the striking game that favors Bate, and the momentum begins to shift. However, just as quickly as the momentum shifted, it went right back to Zack again as now Bate makes the mistake of trying to out-grapple Sabre Jr. and gets caught in a submission for it. Bate would look to counter an upkick with the rolling kick, but Sabre Jr. catches him in an STF that he transitions into a cravate. Bate is able to make the ropes, but at a very painful cost. Zack would then toy with Bate for a bit, luring him into giving him his arm, and Zack then hits a half-n-half suplex for two. Zack would continue to toy with Bate, throwing stiff kicks to the chest. Bate would catch the last kick, but Sabre Jr. just starts slapping him. This pisses Bate off, leading to Bop and Bang, and now Bate is finally in the driver’s seat. Bate goes for the rope clothesline, but Zack catches him. However, the power of Bate allows him to pull Sabre Jr. up and powerbomb him as the crowd give the two a standing ovation. Bate looks to go for the airplane spin, but Sabre Jr. slides down and hangs on Bate, locking in a submission. Once again, the power of Bate plays a key as he’s able to lift Zack up and drill him with a Gotch Tombstone! Bate would only get a two count, so he follows that up with the wheelbarrow kick, and then goes for the Tyler Driver 97, but Zack counters into a triangle. Bate tries to power him up, but Sabre Jr. transitions into an octopus. The two exchange pin counters before Sabre Jr. is able to lock in Hypernormalization, spelling the end for Tyler Bate. An absolutely ridiculous match. Zack is the best technical wrestler in the world today and is genuinely having one of the best years of anyone in wrestling right now as Bate continues to impress ****½
Jack Sexsmith is out to kick off the start of the second half of Chapter 63, announcing that he will be a part of the PROGRESS shows when they come to New Orleans Mania weekend, and that he will challenge whomever is PROGRESS Wrestling World Champion at Chapter 69 (nice).
British Strong Style (Trent Seven & Pete Dunne) def. The BROduct (Matt Riddle & David Starr) (19:23)
Trent Seven is a national treasure. This match was awesome, but he is one of the funniest wrestlers ever. The spot where he chopped Starr and began to celebrate as a big tough guy, not seeing Starr tag in Riddle leading to Seven eating a HUGE overhead chop had me in tears I was laughing so hard. Pete’s deadpan reactions to everything Seven did here was perfect comedy, but I promise this match was more than comedy. When Dunne and Riddle were in the ring together, it got serious, and they did some very good professional wrestling. There was a spot near the end where the two weren’t even the legal men but decided to just get in the middle of the ring while the other two were down and just absolutely beat the piss out of each other. Just awesome stuff. This would lead to all four men duking it out in the center. Riddle would go for a kick on Pete, but Dunne caught the foot, and off comes the mouthguard! He bites down on the toes of Riddle only to catch a superkick from Starr. Seven would then hit a German on Riddle only to get superkicked by Starr as well. Pete would then hit a half nelson suplex on Starr, setting him up for their kick assisted tombstone, but Riddle breaks it up with an elbow drop. Riddle would then hit both Seven and Dunne with jumping knees, leading to double Cherry Mint DDTs from Starr. Riddle would then hook both men in for a double suplex as the BROduct is on fire at this point. They’d then hit a Doomsday Device Knee Drop for a near fall. Starr goes for the Product Placement on Dunne, but Pete flips out of it and nails a kick to the head. Dunne then hits an X-Plex and goes for the Bitter End, but Starr counters into a DDT. All guys spill to the outside, leading to a moonsault from Dunne. The action would get back into the ring, and Starr appeared to be going for the Product Placement again, but this time Seven hits a spinning backfist to break it up. Seven then hits a Burning Hammer, Pete hits Bitter End, and that spelled the end for Starr and Riddle ****
Non-Title Match: WALTER def. Mark Davis (10:58)
Dunkzilla starts off this one like a house of fire, hitting the diving fist in the corner for a quick two count on WALTER. Davis would then go for the Alpamare Waterslide, but WALTER slides down the back and hits a German. Then it begins. If you thought Thatcher’s chest was bad, he has nothing on Davis by the end of this. Four chops in and Mark was already bleeding. It seemed like early on after he began bleeding, Davis had no real comeback for anything WALTER threw at him, but as the match got to its later stages, Davis began to throw pain out and began to actually gain the advantage on WALTER, hitting a massive lariat and even a Death Valley Driver for two. He then tried to go for Close Your Eyes, but this seemed to piss WALTER off. WALTER got up and began throwing even heavier chops to the red and purple chest of Davis. He then locked in the Sleeper, and that was all she wrote for Dunkzilla. Mark Davis grew so much as a wrestler here in just one match. He found that he does have that next gear that’s necessary to compete with the greats, and that is going to be huge for him as he enters the Natural Progression Series. However, no one is ready for Der Ring general ****
PROGRESS Tag Team Championships – Mark Haskins & Jimmy Havoc def. The Grizzled Young Veterans (c) (10:38)
They made the right call here with the winner, getting the belts on their current top tag team. However, this match said so much about PROGRESS’s current tag division. It’s thin and very weak at the top with most of their good teams either way too low to be challengers yet or just not getting featured on the cards. I’m having a hard time getting behind Haskins and Havoc as well. Why are they teaming up? We still have no answers and now they’re champions. It all just seems off **¾
PROGRESS Wrestling World Championship: Travis Banks (c) def. Chris Brookes & TK Cooper (15:56)
The saving grace of this match was TK Cooper. Firstly, his natural charisma oozes out every time he’s in the ring, but the story of him still being hesitant to go for the dive that injured his leg really carried a lot of the storytelling in this match. The match itself told little of the story that we got in the past few chapters. There was no sense of urgency from either TK or Brookes who both at one point were willing to do whatever it took to get the title, and it felt super choreographed, taking away from any real chance to suspend disbelief at all. The finishing stretch leading to Brookes tapping out I really enjoyed, but the first 8 to 10 minutes really dulled it out overall ***¼
Show Grade: B- (7.8/10)
This was one of the better outings from PROGRESS so far this year with three awesome matches right in the middle. However, the final two matches disappointed, and somewhat hurt the overall card. I wonder what they have planned for Banks because while almost every title defense he’s had have been great matches, he needs that one big feud to truly cement himself as the top guy right now. I’ve been saying a program with WALTER would do Banks wonders considering no one has been as dominant as WALTER in the past year, but with Natural Progression Series starting and Super Strong Style being just around the corner, Banks is sure to have a slue of opponents lined up soon. This is Matt with your PROGRESS review! Until next time.