Thunderbastard Tag League Match: Aussie Open (2) def. Mills & Mayhew (0):
– This was a great opening, serving as more or less a spot fest, juxtaposing the beliefs and styles of the commentary guests, Gibson and Drake. It could be his size that makes him stand out most physically, but Mark Davis is an absolute star. Ever since his match against WALTER in PROGRESS, he’s taken his game up a new level, becoming one of the more consistently good regular talents PROGRESS has to offer. Would not mind seeing he and Kyle Fletcher take the belts off the Grizzled Young Vets. ***1/4
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Mark Andrews
– I’m not sure what it is lately, but Mandrews in PROGRESS just isn’t clicking. It’s very hard to find myself checked out of a Sabre Jr. match, but that’s what happened here. I really enjoy the angle with Eddie Dennis, but it’s more so what Dennis is doing than Mark. However, on the flip side, Sabre Jr. just keeps on doing what he does best. Taking limbs and winning matches. Whoever his opponent is come Wembley (please be WALTER, please be WALTER), the main event is sure to be a classic. ***1/4
WALTER def. David Starr
– I feel so heartbroken for David Starr after seeing this match. 0-10. He is now 0-10 against WALTER in his career, and he may never come this close again. Unusually, Starr controlled nearly every step of this match from start to finish except the final three count. He found the one thing that makes WALTER most vulnerable, and it isn’t taking away his arm to chop, it’s taking out his base. He worked his leg over with malice and urgency, knowing that if he could keep WALTER off his feet, it takes away everything he does, giving him the best chance. Nearing the end, following a long battle in a Figure Four, rendering WALTER’s leg nearly useless, Starr went back to the leg, slamming it into the match before looking to go for a Sharpshooter. However, thinking quickly, WALTER rolled up Starr for the win. Sometimes surviving is more important than winning. WALTER is now a perfect 10-0 against Starr with his eyes firmly set on Travis Banks. ****
Haskins, Havoc, Flash Morgan Webster def. Tyler Bate & Pete Dunne
– No Trent due to his knee injury…sad face…BUT he WILL be able to still compete at Download Festival for NXT in June! Not all the news is bad, however, but the result of this match due to the handicap was for British Strong Style. The match itself was okay with PROGRESS’ evil trio using the usual “numbers game” cliche to gain the advantage over BSS (how ironic), but the crowd really were key here, keeping the noise up all match long, really making this worthwhile. The finish was…different…but Flash did what he was told and pinned Bate off the cheap shot from Haskins and Havoc. These three are on a tear right now. **1/2
Post match, Christian Michael Jakobi comes out, finally getting his face to face meeting with Pete Dunne. At last…the face-off we’ve all been waiting for happens.
PETE. ILJA. WEMBLEY. You’re not going to want to miss this one.
PROGRESS Wrestling World Championship
Travis Banks (c) def. Jack Sexsmith
– The best part about going into this match as a fan was knowing it’d be Sexsmith’s chance. If there was ever anyone who could will their way past Banks and to the title, it’s Sexsmith, and dammit did he come close. Using his previous encounters with Banks as lessons, Sexsmith knew what Trav was coming with, he knew how to counter it, and he did right up until the very end until he couldn’t. Banks was the clear favorite in the match. With 15 successful defenses coming into this match, and clearly being the better pure wrestler, Sexsmith had an uphill battle to fight all match long, but he’s always been the guy who everyone always counted out, so he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The match began at a sprint’s pace with Sexsmith hitting the LGBDDT early on, forcing TK Cooper to pull the ref out of the ring to stop what could’ve been the most embarrassing loss in Banks’ career, saving his title reign. Banks slowly began to take over, but Sexsmith continued to fight, evading and countering until he finally had the advantage, hitting a huge Sliced Bread No. 2 on the apron. However, Banks would immediately retaliate with a massive John Woo dropkick and double stomp, but Sexsmith kicks out. Banks continued to control Sexsmith, but with every big move came kick out after kick out after kick out until Banks said enough and tried to pull the same shenanigans that he did against WALTER at Super Strong Style. However, Der Ringgeneral, fresh off a victory over David Starr earlier in the night, came out to the stage, halting Banks in his tracks, making him return to the ring and face Sexsmith. Banks obliges with fear written on his face, walking right into a roll-up from Sexsmith. Banks would counter this into the pin that won him his war against Matt Riddle, but again Sexsmith stays alive. Banks sets Sexsmith atop the top rope, but Sexsmith counters with a HUUUUGE Sliced Bread No. 2 off the top, but only for a near fall. Sexsmith follows it up with a diving double stomp to the chest of a standing Banks for yet another near fall, but Sexsmith stays on Banks, locking him in a Lion’s Clutch of his own, but the ever resilient Kiwi Buzzsaw gets to the ropes. Sexsmith charges the corner Banks has lifted himself up in, but Trav gets a boot up. He looks to go to the top rope, but Sexsmith nails him with an enzuigiri and follows him up. Sexsmith looks for a superplex, but Banks counters with an avalanche fisherman buster made famous by Kevin Owens. He follows up with a Kiwi Crusher, but SEXSMITH KICKS OUT AGAIN! However, the admiration and hope of the crowd was immediately drained out as Banks stays on Sexsmith, locking in the Lion’s Clutch, wrenching back harder than ever, making Sexsmith pass out.
Banks retains in one of his hardest fought defenses to date, but he’s not the story here. The story here is Jack Sexsmith. Jack is PRO-jo trainee whose morals and way of life is not met with acceptance by everyone, but despite all the negativity, despite all of the doubt, he just put on the performance of his career, and even though he came up just short, he proved to everyone that he is not to be taken lightly. Jack Sexsmith, you are everything PROGRESS stands for and mate, you fucking BELONG. ***1/2
Vacant PROGRESS ATLAS Championship
Doug Williams def. Joseph Conners, Rob Lynch, Rampage Brown
– DOUG DID IT! This is what wrestling is all about. It’s about feeling. For nearly five years, Doug Williams went winless in a PROGRESS ring. Lately, he couldn’t even roll out the stops like he used to be able to to even try to win a match. Now, after going through one of the lowest past handful of months in his career, Doug turned back time just enough to hit the Chaos Theory on Conners and become the NEW ATLAS Division Champion. I tip my hat to PROGRESS for this one as well. Everywhere I’ve seen Williams compete, it’s been “look everyone, it’s British legend Doug Williams!” Me, as an American fan not knowing or watching anything that he’d done in the past during the dark ages of British wrestling, respected Doug for what they told me he was, but they never gave me a reason to care. This entire storyline in PROGRESS, with loss after loss after loss, I felt myself sympathizing with Doug. I’d ask myself “what if this really is the end?” Then this happened, and to hear the explosion of cheers that roared throughout the Victoria Warehouse was such a feel good moment. The post-WALTER era for this title is in good hands. **3/4
PROGRESS Women’s Championship
Jinny def. Toni Storm (c) – TITLE CHANGE
– I don’t know exactly where this match took a wrong turn, so maybe it was just done wrong from the start. First, Jinny owns Toni Storm in PROGRESS. Three wins and zero losses. So why does she need help? Nina Samuels and Chakara playing a factor in this match took me out of it entirely, and I finished this match dreading that Jinny’s reign will be filled with this despite being historically the best women’s wrestler in PROGRESS history. I’ve been very vocal that this division is too thin to run with something like this, and now it seems to be a steam train that will roll through it. This has all of the indications to be a MASSIVE mistake, but I guess only time will tell. Both women deserved better than this especially in the main event of the show. **
Show Grade: C (6.5/10)
There were some really great moments throughout, but if I were to recommend anything from this show, it’d be Starr/WALTER and the Ilja/Pete confrontation. This was solid build for the main attractions heading to Wembley, but most everything else either fell flat or was just there. Doug Williams winning the ATLAS Title took me to the highest of highs watching this show, but the main event took me to the lowest of lows. Nothing clicked, they ran a really poor angle, and didn’t let two of the best women’s wrestlers in the UK tell the story just between themselves. All in all, not a bad show, but not one you’ll remember a week from now.