We opened to a shot of Dante Fox jogging, only to have flashbacks from his time as a POW. His rescue, just seconds before being beheaded, was also shown.
Cueto Cup First Round Match: PJ Black vs. Sexy Star
Sexy Star vs. The Worldwide Underground continues! PJ worked the arm and used his power advantage, something he doesn't get to do often. Sexy retaliated with her quickness. A super rana from Sexy was the highlight of her offensive outburst. Things were going smoothly until Taya arrived and tripped Sexy. PJ failed at using brass knux and when Sexy tried using them, the referee caught her and called for the DQ at 4:14. Lame finish that hurt a fun little match. At least Striker explained the rare DQ by saying the referee's were told to be extra strict during the tournament. [**]
Another excellent Mundo/Mysterio hype video was shown. I wasn't excited for the match, but even I'm interested after these videos.
Cueto Cup First Round Match: Son of Havoc vs. Son of Madness
Everyone was weirded out by the Son of Madness stuff. They brawled on the steps and commentary noted that Havoc seemed to recognize Madness. There were a few fun moments as they played up the doppleganger stuff, with each guy knowing what the other would do. Madness is the bigger version, so Havoc had to fight from behind, which worked because he's way over. In the end, Havoc missed the Shooting Star Press and kicked out of a school boy. He then immediately used his own to advance at 8:42. I enjoyed this. It had a fair amount of action, while telling the story of how well they knew each other and how Havoc did just enough to survive. [***1/4]
Madness jumped Havoc after the match and stole his vest
Cueto Cup First Round Match: Prince Puma vs. Ricky Mandel
We got dark Puma tonight, as he had his hoodie on. Mandel is the big Mundo fan, who was introduced as a Worldwide Underground intern. He cut a promo, only to get hit with a huge knee strike. Puma kicked his ass and won via sitout driver at 1:12. Exactly what it needed to be. [NR]
In the back, Rey Mysterio met up with Dragon Azteca Jr. He said he wouldn't miss Dragon's comeback. Dragon said he would win the tournament and face Rey for the title at Ultima Lucha. Prince Puma arrived (THE FORMER TRIOS CHAMP REUNITE!) and told Rey to beat Mundo so he can get his Ultima Lucha rematch, which he promised not to lose.
Next week, round two begins. Paul London faces Mil Muertes, Jeremiah Crane takes on Taya and Fenix faces Marty Martinez!
Cueto Cup First Round Match: Dante Fox vs. Dragon Azteca Jr. w/ Rey Mysterio Jr.
This had potential to be the best match of the first round. They delivered the kind of match I was hoping for. It was fast paced and had non-stop action. These are two hella athletic guys and they showcased it here. From a Spanish Fly to dives outside to ranas, I got what I wanted. Then, things got dulled down by run-ins. The Worldwide Underground attacked Mysterio to soften him up for Mundo. Azteca went to save his mentor and it cost him. Once back inside, he ate a superkick and the Fox Catcher to lose in 9:03. Lots of cool stuff in here, only to get overshadowed by the stuff in the end. It adds intrigue and sets up a potential angle between Mysterio and Azteca. [***]
Overall: 7/10. An episode mostly focused on wrestling and less on the wild stories, but it still worked. Two of the matches are good, one is decent and the other allowed Puma to dominate. The intrigue of Puma's recent stuff is great, while the possibility of Azteca/Mysterio sounds dope.
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Thursday, July 6, 2017
My favorite wrestling promotion returns with their milestone 50th chapter in their home away home in Camden. Coming off an excellent Super Strong Style 16 Tournament, PROGRESS is red hot. This show is named after the doubters who had little hope for the company that now stands here five years later, stronger than ever.
We got the typical PROGRESS opening with a Jim Smallman promo. He put over Super Strong Style 16 and had some fun with the audience.
PROGRESS and WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne came out to address the fans. He stepped on the PROGRESS Title once he got inside, drawing the ire of Smallman. Dunne brought up Travis Banks (Super Strong Style 16 winner) gets a title shot in September, so he said he won’t defend the title until then. He owns PROGRESS and the WWE in his mind. He went to leave, but Jim had his music cut. Jim said they pay him to be here and nobody’s booked him a flight to Florida. He’ll compete tonight in a non-title match and if anyone beats Dunne between now and Banks’ title shot, they’ll get a shot of their own. A fair, likable guy running things? What a concept!
At the Super Strong Style 16, Toni Storm became the first PROGRESS Women’s Championship, while Ray earned the right for the first title shot. They have a history together and know each other well. Due to that, the feeling out process saw some solid exchanges and neither woman wanting to make the first mistake. Storm has better ass based offense than Ryusuke Taguchi. Once they got going, they brought bombs. Big suplexes, stiff strikes and some aerial offense. The highlight was Storm countering a springboard attempt with a German suplex. Storm survived the Koji Clutch by reaching the ropes with her tongue. Creative. She then retained after a wild top rope piledriver in 11:26. Their chemistry was evident as they worked a good back and forth match with some badass spots. The finish was impressive, though having it open might be tough since it’s a tough finish to follow.
Post-match, Storm and Ray embraced.
Due to copyright issues, the Origin lost their theme music, so Mastiff asked the crowd to sing their music for them. The fans flubbed the lyrics, leading to plenty of laughs. Fun was kind of the theme here. When Ligero busted out an impressive German suplex, Mastiff reminded him that he was the big guy of the team. After tagging in, he then busted out a hurricanrana! There was also a fun trust fall spot, which the Riots couldn’t correctly do after getting distracted by beer. In the end, the Riots got their first win in five months after a popup spear at 10:46. Nothing special, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Both men are babyface, but Webster played the de facto heel by a bit here. It worked because Sexsmith has become one of the most popular and likable guys on the roster. The fans ate up everything Sexsmith did, dying to see him continue his winning ways. It was interesting to watch Sexsmith, as his style seemed to change a bit. He looked more focus and less prone to throwing caution to the wind. Webster goaded him on a fake handshake, showing that small bit of heel tendencies I mentioned. The moves got bigger as things progressed (pun intended), until Sexsmith pulled out the condom for the Crippler Cockface. However, a siren went out and out came Chief Deputy Dunne (kayfabe brother of Pete apparently). He whacked Webster with a megaphone to cause the DQ as 12:13. The match was going along smoothly, with some fine back and forth and character progression from Sexsmith, until the finish.
Dunne attacked Sexsmith and claimed he and the fans were having too much fun. He’s a member of the Anti-Fun Police.
Donovan Dijak was Pete’s surprise opponent and he got a hearty pop. Dijak was quick to show unfamiliar fans that he’s wildly athletic for a 6’7 guy. He overwhelmed Dunne with it, but the champ fought back with the explex. Dunne targets the legs, looking to chop Dijak down to size. Dijak’s selling of it wasn’t too great, as this was more about him showcasing his stuff for the PROGRESS faithful. After Dijak survived a Pedigree, they started trading big blows to the crowd’s liking. When Dijak hit Feast Your Eyes, Dunne wisely rolled out of the ring. He tried it again, but Dunne got in a cheap shot and won via Bitter End at 11:06. Solid, clean win for Dunne. Dijak got to impress in his PROGRESS debut. I got why Dunne went after the leg, but it didn’t come into play enough to merit it.
It was Haskins’ birthday, so he got a party hat and the fans made sure Havoc got one too. The Origin ran them down for that, which got things started with a brawl. It continued that way for the majority of the match. The referee went down, so Havoc brought out a birthday gift for Haskins. He unwrapped it to reveal a steel chair. Haskins tried throwing it at Gibson, but he ducked and Havoc took the chair shot instead. Haskins was then rolled up for the loss at 12:22. I know I didn’t write a ton for this match, but it really was mostly a brawl. Not as good as I was hoping for, but it did further the issues between Havoc and Haskins.
Banks is the hottest act in PROGRESS, fresh off a Super Strong Style 16 victory. He was greeted with “Travis our champion” chants. Drake got kicked all around the ring early, but caught one and slammed Banks on the apron to turn the tide. Travis got in some hope spots that the crowd loved. He fired up, begging Drake to hit him harder. Banks used a series of kicks and knees, before a tope suicida looked to have him in the driver’s seat. Drake would not go down though, until taking the Slice of Heaven at 10:54. Good way to keep Banks’ momentum going, but I’d say it was his worst match in quite some time.
A great video package aired before the match. This is arguably the biggest Tag Title match in PROGRESS history. With BSS taking forever to get in the ring, CCK dove onto them outside, kick starting the action. There was too much action for the cameras to completely catch and the bell hadn’t even rung yet. Both teams used chairs (Seven had an imprint of one on his back) and they fought atop the stage. Once the match finally officially began, it became the wildest sprint of the year. There was no tagging or structure, but that worked for what they were going for. Just a bunch of crazy offense, that played off each guy’s signature stuff. Everything came off smoothly. Just when CCK looked to have it, Pete Dunne ran in. Travis Banks blew past him and cut him off before fighting him to the back. Lykos stopped Bate from hitting the Spiral Tap and won after nailing the BRAINBUSTAAA on the top turnbuckle at 9:11. The title change felt like a big deal, which is what it needed. CCK got their opportunity and delivered, while Seven and Bate added another great match to their 2017 resumes. I’m dying to see what they would do in a more traditional tag environment against each other.
Overall: Top to bottom, another strong showing from PROGRESS. It isn’t on the level of the Super Strong Style 16 outings, but I never expected that. They did a good job setting things up for the future (Dijak’s debut, #CCK’s title win, building Dunne/Banks), while putting on an entertaining show. If pressed for time, check out the main event, but the whole show is solid.