My return to a chronological rewatch of PROGRESS from the beginning to now coincides quite nicely with the quarter century of their numbered PROGRESS efforts (not including the PROGRESS World Cup event, or that the Super Strong Style Tournament ran over two days). In some ways, it is a great place to pick this back up, as Chapter 12 was the first in the Electric Ballroom in Camden, a real signal of the continued growth of PROGRESS and how easy it is to get wrestling fans flocking to watch your product when you offer good matches and engaging storylines. No duh. Without further ado, lets head to the action.
Paul Robinson vs Tommy End
The first match of the night feels like a mismatch, as the high flying Robinson goes up against the violent strikes of End. It turns out that an injury to Noam Dar moved El Ligero up into the main event, leaving Robinson as a replacement. He initially tries to use his speed with several pinfall attempts, but it isn’t long before End nails him with the first big kick of the match and takes control. A chin lock is used to ground his quicker opponent, though Robinson is able to fight his way out of the move and avoid an End charge in the corner, landing three successive knee attacks for good measure.
An odd altercation sees a headbutt by End put End on the mat, allowing Robinson to hit a standing shooting star for two. Just as it seems like End is struggling, he drops Robinson face first on the turnbuckle, almost takes his head off with a spinkick and lands a German suplex for a two count. A huge PK-style kick also gets him a two to a ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant. Robinson manages to fight off a superplex attempt, landing on his feet on a shooting star press attempt and getting a two count off of a huracanrana. As if to show how quickly he can put things away, End is straight up with a kick to the head and a brainbuster for 2, before landing the double foot stomp off of the top rope for a three count. A good opener that was more competitive than I had initially expected.
Mad Man Manson vs Grado
I know that I’m not getting 90s All Japan here, but if I’m going to get some comedy in my wrestling, these two guys do it very well. This match is for Grado’s bumbag and Manson’s balls in a jar. In the early going, there is actually a takedown by Manson, only for him to use the opportunity to rub himself all over Grado’s back. A second takedown has the ref forced onto Grado for similar treatment. We even get some classic British Wrestling from Manson, though Johnny Saint needn’t be too worried about being usurped as one of the greatest technical wrestlers in UK history.
An Irish whip into the corner sees Manson onto the second turnbuckle, where Grado joins him for a blast of Celine Dion and a nice nod to Titanic. Chris Roberts gets fed up at this point, and inadvertently helps with a back superplex! With the ref down, Manson grabs the bumbag and hits Grado, a sachet of tomato ketchup a good substitute for getting busted wide open. The ref is over for the pin, but Manson only gets a two count. Grado then channels his inner wrestling superstar, hitting a rock bottom, stunner and a pedigree to win the match, and more worryingly, Mad Man Manson’s balls.
Will Ospreay vs Zack Gibson (Natural Progression Tournament)
With Flash Morgan Webster winning the first match of the second Natural Progression Tournament, we get a look at the second match between Will Ospreay and Zack Gibson.
This will be a contest that is all about Ospreay’s speed against Gibson’s technical prowess, and several early two counts off of a Gibson knuckle lock and Ospreay landing on an exploder suplex and nailing a huracanrana and a dropkick really highlight this. At times, Ospreay’s high flying is different level, a double springboard cannonball senton showcasing just that. With Gibson’s finisher the Shankley’s Gate armlock, it is not surprising when he targets the arm by dropping Ospreay on the top rope, before using a suplex and several armlock variants to continue to work on it – a sunset flip by Ospreay even blocked by Gibson smashing his arm into the mat.
Ospreay had dedicated this match to his Mum (what with it being Mother’s Day), and a verbal slur from Gibson has Ospreay fighting back, landing a neckbreaker and a lionsault for a two count, following that with a tornado DDT and a slingshot falcon arrow for another two. An attempted dive to the outside is blocked by Gibson, who then targets the arm in a unique way with an enziguri to the shoulder and a second rope lung blower to the injured limb. A twisting brainbuster is good enough for a two, and following a flurry of Ospreay offense, Gibson catches him on the top rope and lands a big top rope exploder. However, Ospreay comes back with a springboard ace crusher and a standing shooting star press of his own for two.
Not averse to breaking the rules, Gibson tries to use the ropes during a roll-up attempt but it is stopped by Paul Robinson. During the confusion that follows, Gibson hits a low blow, throws Ospreay into Robinson, lands a tiger bomb and a PK kick. Ospreay is out and Gibson locks on the Shankley’s Gate for a submission victory. When I saw this match on the card, I saw nothing except a Ospreay victory – colour me surprised. We even get a teased break up of The Swords of Essex, but they hug it out before they leave.
The Bhangra Knights vs The London Riots (Street Fight)
Following a double countout at Chapter 10, we get a No-DQ match between The Bhangra Knights and The London Riots. Darell Allen and RJ Singh nail dives to the outside before the bell has even been rang and the match is off at a fast pace. We even get to see a crab/Ethnic Submission double team on Rob Lynch in the first minutes, only for James Davis to use a Singapore cane to break it up. A traffic cone ends up in the ring, Allen dumped on it initially before Davis gets penetrated with a double atomic drop on top of it!
With matches such as this, sometimes it is easier just to go big spot to big spot, as there is just too much going on with too many different things. Singh gets hit with a hubcap and a keyboard, only for him to chuck the keyboard back at Lynch as he was perched on the top rope before hitting a top rope huracanrana. Allen takes to the air himself, only to get caught with a crutch shot to the gut, whilst Singh gets taken out of commission with a back suplex onto the ring apron. Having used a keyboard, Lynch ups the ante with a laptop assault, whilst the Riots used the classic tag team combination of a Gory special and a Singapore cane shot to the stomach of Allen.
The Riots endear themselves to some more fans by stealing a beer, spitting it at their opponents, and seemingly throwing the beer back into the crowd. A miscalculation by the Riots sees Lynch spear Davis, allowing the Knights back into the match, Allen hitting a 619 and a spinout brainbuster on the wooden floor on Davis and Singh landing a Singhton Bomb on Lynch and a traffic sign. The Knights hit the Bhangra Buster, but the pin is broken up at two before both teams start bringing out a range of kicks and clotheslines, ending with Lynch planting Allen with a deadlift german suplex. In an uncharacteristic move, Lynch heads to the top, only to be thrown halfway across the ring by an Allen top rope german suplex! Several crutch shots have the Knights in control, but Allen gets dropped by the pop-up Spear that the Riots use to such good effect. A buckle bomb with an assisted cane shot is used to set up for a super bomb off of the top rope, but Davis slips off, blowing the spot. Instead of repeating the move, we get the District Line for a three count. A good brawl, just let down a bit by the botched ending.
Project Ego vs Nathan Cruz and Mark Haskins vs FSU (to crown new PROGRESS Tag Team Champions)
Having had a reasonable focus on tag action in the previous eleven shows, it was good to see their finally being a tag team title (…well, a shield) on the line between three teams with marked differences in terms of their style. We see early Kris Travis’ zanier approach to the world of wrestling as he tries to curry favour with wristbands from both teams put on, only for a Project Ego one to appear once he’d outthought his two opponents and landed dropkicks on both Dennis and Cruz.
When Kirby, Andrews and Haskins ended up in the ring, we get an early showing of Andrews speed with a hiptoss and a moonsault on Kirby, only for Haskins to use his vicious technical ability to take complete control. Andrews is dropped with a stun gun into a Cruz kick on the ring apron, before Haskins works both Andrews and Kirby into submission holds at the same time. As this move breaks down, Haskins then plants Andrews with a vicious grapevine DDT. The heels show impressive teamwork, using the ropes to propel Andrews in a slingshot moonsault onto Kirby.For the second time in the match, Haskins uses his technical ability to block an Andrews’ rana and locks Andrews in a Boston crab on top of Kirby, who he locks in a modified camel clutch.
It is when Dennis gets back into the ring that FSU begin to take over, as Dennis wipes out Travis completely, before hitting a joint Samoan drop/fallaway slam on Haskins and Kirby! This is the Dennis I enjoy watching. He even drops Travis with a chokeslam, but Cruz steals in to hit Show Stolen, though it is only good enough for a two count due to the pinfall getting broken. The match has just broken down and Dennis shows he can also fly by hitting a somersault plancha to the outside seconds before an Andrews shooting star press to the outside!
The finish sees Andrews land on a shooting star press miss, only for EVERYONE to get kicked in the head in varying different ways – it looked like a car wreck in the middle of the ring. Dennis and Kirby end up trading blows, but Kirby is dumped into the buckle (and Andrews’ foot) with a crucifix bomb before FSU hit the Next Stop Driver for the three count and to be crowned the first PROGRESS Tag Team Champions! Very worthy winners in a great match.
Doug Williams vs Dave Mastiff
As the match begins, there is some noise in the crowd as Nathan Cruz and Katherine Rose are in the crowd to watch. The initial stages of the match are all about showing that Mastiff is a good enough wrestler to match up to Williams in terms of technical wrestling. We have trading of armlocks and guillotine chokes, before Mastiff is twice slipped back into a headlock on an attempted reversal, realising that an elbow to the back of the head is the best way of stopping it happening a third time. Both men trade schoolboy roll-ups, leading to forward roll escapes by both on attempted whips to the ropes, Mastiff eventually missing his big crossbody block. Williams hits his patented knee in the corner, only to be chased back across the ring and nailed with a Mastiff dropkick.
At this point, Katherine Rose steps into the ring to stop Mastiff hitting the cannonball. The issue here becomes the length of time both men threaten to hit an exploder (Williams) and a powerbomb (Mastiff) on the unwelcome intruder. Eventually, Williams hits a headbutt to the gut, a kneelift, and Mastiff drops her with a sitout powerbomb. It just felt like a really unnecessary moment within the match that slowed down all momentum.
Whilst Rose is carried out, Williams tries to sneak a win with a roll-up for a two count, before both men trade forearms, Williams winning out with European uppercuts and a spinning elbow, landing a second one off the top rope for good measure. Williams motions for the Chaos Theory, but gets caught by Mastiff’s crossbody for a two count. Williams almost steals it with a sunset flip, and hits a pretty impressive exploder suplex. He lands on his feet after Mastiff rolls away from a Bombscare Kneedrop, only to get hit with the dropkick and a cannonball to give Mastiff the big three count. A match that was overshadowed by the middle portion which just felt completely unnecessary.
Jimmy Havoc vs Marty Scurll vs El Ligero vs Rampage Brown (PROGRESS World Title Match)
Jimmy Havoc has the odds stacked against him in this main event, especially after his various cronies are ordered to the back. With a mic in hand, he asks for it to be a No-DQ match – as soon as his wish is granted, Scurll scrambles his brains with a chair shot! This match is an absolute brawl from bell to bell, so I will again do my best to give a flavour of what happened as best I can. Scurll ducks a Brown clothesline and hits a suicide dive on Havoc, before all four men begin to brawl around the building – Ligero and Brown end up at the bar and even onto the balcony, Scurll seems to enjoy spending time throwing Havoc into chairs and the walls of the building.
Whilst Havoc clearly has a bullseye on his chest, the title is on the line, and all four men form and break alliances with speed. Brown gets sent into the wall with a double whip, whilst Scurll and Havoc double suplex El Ligero into the entrance way. Scurll and Havoc trade headbutts and chops, as well as spitting beer at each other, only for Scurll to once again test Havoc’s tensile neck strength by planting him with an air raid crash on the apron. Brown threatens to piledrive Scurll on the apron, but Ligero uses a springboard dropkick to stop that happening. Showing little sense of appreciation for this act, Scurll suplexes Ligero to the outside and onto Rampage!
The brawling continues at ringside, with Scurll choosing to throw chairs at Brown this time. Ligero, having climbed the area near the sound booth, lands a somersault plancha onto the brawling men below. Ligero gets a two count following a big splash off of the top rope on Havoc, before Scurll locks Ligero into a submission after several pinfall attemps, only for the hold to be broken up by Brown. A low blow by Havoc drops Brown, leading to a Havoc resurgence as he hits a rolling elbow on Scurll and a rope assisted back stabber on El Ligero.
Following more brawling, Rampage and Scurll end up outside the ring, allowing Havoc to lock on a sleeperhold on Ligero, holding onto it even after two back suplexes by Ligero. Brown gets back in to break it up, and even attempts a double piledriver, only to get waffled with a chair. Havoc plants Scurll with a DVD, only for Scurll to no-sell and hit Havoc with a DVD into El Ligero (in the tree of woe position) in the corner! Just to rub it in even further, Scurll proceeds to spit in Havoc’s mouth!
Having set up four chairs at ringside for Havoc, Scurll gets low blowed, laid on them, and put through them by a Havoc double foot stomp off of the apron! Rampage begins to take over now, with a second rope shoulderblock on Ligero and a DDT for a two count. Havoc is thrown to the outside and pitched into two lots of chairs, before Rampage absolutely annihilates him with four powerbombs in a row, holding on after each one! Scurll and Ligero than turn provider for Rampage, sliding chairs into the ring for Rampage to chuck at Havoc’s head!
The three men each have a chair in hand as they circle Havoc, but Scurll and Ligero throw their chairs at Rampage, and Ligero throws a chair at Scurll. Rampage ends up getting stuck in the tree of woe, but an attempted Ligero double stomp sees him tossed into the pile of chairs. Scurll almost steals the victory, but his pinfall is broken by Rampage for two. Rampage outmuscles Scurll and lands his finisher, the piledriver, but Havoc whacks Rampage with a chair and covers Scurll for the three count! Against all the odds, Havoc retains his title. An insane match which just has you questioning how much punishment Havoc can legitimately take.
Rampage is pissed off, and Havoc gets a post match beating of a chair shot and two piledrivers. As if to rub salt in the wound, Jim Smallman then invites down Mark Andrews, who lands a shooting star press of his own, before the main event of the next show is announced – Jimmy Havoc vs Mark Andrews in a ladder match!
A good show all round really, which offered something for everyone. The Mastiff/Williams match left a little to be desired due to the Katherine Rose stuff, but that was more than made up for by the insane brawling in the Knights/Riots match and the main event, as well as crowning of new tag team champions.