Saturday, June 17, 2017
PROGRESS returns with Chapter 48. It’s a post-South Pacific Power Trip world for me. Still, there’s a lot to be positive about. PROGRESS is gearing up for the Super Strong Style 16 Tournament and this, the final show before those, features two marquee matchups. The WWE UK Champion takes on the WWN Champion, while Pete Dunne defends the PROGRESS Title against his two biggest recent rivals, Mark Haskins and Mark Andrews.
We were treated to the typical Jim Smallman opening monologue. He’s newly vegetarian, if you didn’t know.
Last month, Drake jumped Webster after his match. Here, Webster turned the tables and attacked Drake before the bell. It was a good twist on Drake’s aggressive character change. He still showed that off, matching Webster’s fire. I thought Drake targeting the jaw was great since it’s not something we see too often. Drake got caught cheating, opening the door for Webster to score with a standing Shiranui for the win in 8:22. A hard hitting battle that got the show off to a hot start. I liked the jaw work, though it didn’t last long enough. I wonder where Drake goes from here, because his win streak didn’t even get him into the tournament.
I saw Martina for the first time back at Old Man Yells at Cloud, and she’s quite fun. Jinny looked so done with Martina’s antics within seconds. Martina spit beer in her face, which didn’t help matters. They had a history, with commentary mentioning that Jinny always gets the better of her in singles competition. Martina’s antics were great, including drinking a beer while applying a modified hanging tarantula. Jinny overcame those things and won with a middle rope X-Factor at 6:38. It was mostly one-sided, with Jinny on her way to the Women’s Title Finals, but it was a hella entertaining one.
Sweet Jesus consists of Pastor William Eaver and Chuck Mambo. Like Session Moth Martina, Mambo is a wacky character. He brought his brand of off-beat shenanigans to this. Lance Storm would not be amused. Eaver did some too, which is a far cry from the guy I saw beat the hell out of Sebastian a few chapters back. The coolest spot came when Eaver crucifix bombed Mambo onto the London Riots outside, only for them to catch him and powerbomb him on the apron. Sweet Jesus picked up the win at 17:10 with a crucifix bomb/blockbuster combo. I wasn’t a fan of a lot of the stuff done here and it took way too long. Put it closer to ten minutes and I think I’d be happier with it.
“Keep it 100” just isn’t the same without Dahlia Black and TK Cooper. Banks is awesome though. Considering Seven and his buddies jumped SPPT during Dahlia and TK’s farewell, it made sense when Banks dove out onto him during his entrance. He proceeded to beat Seven up around the arena before the bell even rang. That allowed the match to go at a crazy pace once it got started. They threw everything at one another, from stiff strikes to big offensive blows. Banks avoided a super piledriver with a Liger Bomb, and had the crowd in the palm of his hand. He survived a ripcord lariat and got to his feet instantly after a dragon suplex. Just when it looked like Travis had it, Seven rolled him up with a handful of tights for the win in 8:09. An insanely awesome sprint. They beat the hell out of each other in a match fitting what went down on Chapter 47. Seven is an excellent dick heel, while Banks has wowed as the fiery babyface, and it all came together masterfully here.
I appreciated commentary bringing up Spud’s awesome Hair vs. Hair match against EC3 in 2015. Cruz has been a strong heel for a while, but did some of his better work here. He abused Spud and Spud is one of the best at taking a beating. His hope spots got great reactions and he refused to quit. Spud kicked out of two “Show Stolens,” causing one man to chant “TNA”. It got drowned out with “This is PROGRESS” chants. They also chanted “You’re not Banter” at Cruz, who just basked in it before hitting a reverse Show Stolen. That got him the win at 10:36. This was good thanks to a simple, yet effective story and a hot crowd. I do think it was a bit too similar to the stuff Jack Sexsmith has done recently, though.
Also, WWN Champion vs. WWE UK Champion. What a time to be alive. They traded showing off their titles, with Riddle getting the overwhelmingly more positive response. These two brought it, working at a fast pace and nailing all their signature stuff. Bate’s so cocky that he tried battling Riddle in the submissions department. To be fair, he did a good job holding his own there. Near the end, they just busted out their best shots. The Bro to Sleep and a standing SSP weren’t enough, but then Riddle countered the Tyler Driver ’97 into a triangle choke. The final stretch was bonkers. Riddle nearly locked in the Bromission, when Trent Seven ran in for the DQ at 13:37. This was awesome until the lame finish, though I do understand why they did it. Both guys are on the same side of the SS16 bracket, so maybe they rematch it there. This was two of the best right now just trading their best stuff and it was a blast.
Riddle fought them off and sent them packing.
Both men have come close to dethroning Dunne. The champion got this off to a hot start, jumping Haskins during his introduction. That set the tone for a match where the action pretty much never stopped. Some of the highlights included Dunne using the Regal stretch on Andrews, only for Haskins to break it up by putting him in an armbar and an awesome Stundog Millionaire. Haskins put the armbar on both opponents. Seven and Bate showed up to distract the referee, but Haskins took them out. He ate a low blow inside and Dunne hit the Bitter End on Andrews, dropping him on Haskins. A Pedigree later and it was over at 14:52. I wish BSS wouldn’t have gotten involved. They didn’t do much, but I think Dunne could’ve retained with the low blow, since it was no DQ, and not have to use his teammates. Still, the match was non-stop action and felt like the culmination of the story for these three. It was a fitting end.
British Strong Style jumped the losers, until Matt Riddle ran in. He took a beating too. Dunne got on the microphone and said nobody could take the title from him. That led to “Travis Banks” chants. Unfamiliar music played and out came #CCK! Chris Brookes and Kid Lykos got a massive ovation and took out BSS to close the show.
Overall: I can’t remember the last time PROGRESS had a bad show. They delivered yet again here, with a strong showing from pretty much everyone. Banks/Seven is one of the better sub-ten minute matches in recent memory, right up there with the highly regarded Ospreay/Riddle match from last year. The two main events are very good and the two qualifying matches also delivered in different ways. Throw in a fun women’s match and you’ve got a winning card.