Sunday, September 17, 2017

PROGRESS Chapter 55: Chase The Sun Review

PROGRESS Chapter 55: Chase The Sun
September 10th, 2017 | Alexandra Palace in Haringey, Greater London | Attendance: 2,000

It’s the biggest show in PROGRESS history. I don’t even want to give a longer introduction because I’m too excited to watch it.

As always, Jim Smallman kicked things off in the ring. It wasn’t as long as some chapters, but he thanked the fans before starting the show.

PROGRESS Tag Team Championship Ladder Match: British Strong Style [c] vs. #CCK
The last time they met in a straight tag match, #CCK won the titles (***¾), but lost them back in a six man tag at the next show. The crowd was molten hot. The teams brawled around the ring, until #CCK used their aerial skills to gain an advantage. Everyone’s first attempt to grab the titles failed because the ladder was too small. The first wild spot saw Lykos take a dragon suplex onto the side of the ladder, which legitimately made my jaw drop. It looked brutal. Bate pulled out an impressive Undertaker like dive, which Lykos followed with a Shelton Benjamin style ladder run into a corkscrew dive. Bate has had some awesome feats of strength this year, but giving Lykos the big swing, while having Brookes in an airplane spin was near the top. He also paid tribute to Terry Funk with the ladder airplane spin, even accidentally hitting his partner. There were so many great spots, I’m barely scratching the surface. In the end, Bate wanted to hit a Tyler Driver ’97 off the ladder onto a bridged one. Brookes fought him off and back dropped him onto that ladder, before pulling down the titles at 17:27. A great match that featured the expected wild spots, but also had a sense of disdain between the two teams. They all did a wonderful job of finding ways to incorporate their signature spots in this kind of match, with it being sensible. A few ladder spots felt contrived, but either way, this ruled. [****]

PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Toni Storm [c] vs. Dahlia Black
They’re not messing around, throwing two high-profile matches on early. Dahlia took a moment to make out with the injured TK Cooper in the crowd before the bell. This match happened in the Semi-Finals of the Natural Progression Series (**½), where Black broke her leg. Her road back from the injury and Visa issues led her here. Dahlia brought lots of fire from the opening bell. They both had each other well scouted, with Dahlia cutting off Toni’s hip attacks and Toni avoiding a cannonball and moonsault. Toni used her strength to nail a Buckle Bomb and delivered Strong Zero for a surprising near fall. Dahlia fought back with a successful moonsault. However, she went to the well too often. Her next top rope attempt was cut off by a nasty German from Storm. She finished her with two more Strong Zero piledrivers at 7:31. Between this and the Jinny match at Chapter 54, Black has had her best matches (that I’ve seen) and Toni’s streak of good matches continues. It was an even match, yet still told the story of Toni still being the best woman in PROGRESS, while Dahlia gave everything she had to overcome that. In the end, she didn’t have enough. [***¼]

After the match, Jinny jumped Dahlia Black from behind. The injured TK Cooper had to helplessly watch from the audience as Jinny beat on Dahlia’s previously broken leg. She used a chair to PILLMANIZE Dahlia and signaled that the title was hers.

It was now time for Zack Sabre Jr.’s open challenge. It was answered by Marty Scurll, which got an absurdly huge pop.

Marty Scurll vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
It’s not a pairing I always love as they tend to have some good (though overly long matches), but never that one I consider great. That being said, I couldn’t help but be excited to see Marty. He whacked Sabre in the face with his umbrella during introductions because, villain. He used that to dominate the early stages, until Sabre caught his apron superkick and wrenched on the ankle in hideous ways. From there, Marty’s aggression was combated by Sabre twisting him into strange ways. Sabre caught another kick attempt and pulled Marty into a brutal looking submission. Scurll eventually applied his own sick looking version of the Chicken Wing, without the usual “CHICKEN WING” shouting and pizazz. Sabre survived and Marty’s next attempt saw him call for the finish. That allowed Sabre to counter it into the European Clutch to win at 14:32. I thought this was good, but again, not quite great. It was aggressive, which I liked, and featured good exchanges. The finish coming out of nowhere was pretty cool, too. [***]

Sabre and Scurll hugged after the match. Left alone, Marty got a microphone and talked about facing Sabre way back at Chapter 1. He put over PROGRESS and thanked the fans, saying goodbye for now.

Death Match: Jimmy Havoc vs. Mark Haskins
This got video package treatment. I could be wrong, but this might’ve been Havoc’s first time wearing white since returning. He brought an axe with him, which Haskins ducked and they went right into fighting. The first weapon to come into play was a stapler, with both men feeling the wrath. Though this is Havoc’s specialty match, Haskins was in control for a lot of it. He made a big mistake, though, taking too long to set up a spot and getting powerbombed through cinder blocks. With Havoc taking over, he used paper cuts and salt, because he does sick shit like that. Jimmy missed a shot with the axe and Vicky Haskins, Mark’s wife, came down. She stopped Mark from using a chair and gave him a barbed wire bat instead. He used it and applied an armbar with it, before nailing a series of DVDs, including one onto a barbed wire board. Somehow, that still wasn’t enough. Haskins poured out thumbtacks and there was an excellent spot where Havoc dropkicked him into the board, landing on the tacks and sacrificing himself. However, Haskins put the brakes on, making it all for naught. Havoc delivered two DVDs onto the tacks, but Haskins wouldn’t stay down. He survived a DVD through the barbed wire board and Acid Rainmaker onto the tacks, showing a ton of heart. Havoc finally hit an Acid Rainmaker with the barbed wire bat and placed it on Haskins’ throat for extra pin leverage to win in 23:08. That was absolute insanity. It’s not for everyone, but I thought it was awesome. They used weapons and had a brutal match, but also told a great story. Haskins was out to do it for his family (bringing a dinosaur toy and Vicky into play was great) and refused to give in. He got just as violent as Jimmy at times, yet was unable to beat the Death Match king at his own game. My main gripe was that the final blow with the bat looked weak as hell. [****¼]

Following intermission, Jim Smallman pointed out some impressive cosplayers in the crowd before thanking the fans for the growth of PROGRESS. He then announced that next September, PROGRESS will make their debut in Wembley Arena, which will easily be their biggest crowd ever. It’s a bold move, considering Wembley holds over 10,000 more seats than Alexandra Palace.

PROGRESS Atlas Championship: Matt Riddle [c] vs. Timothy Thatcher vs. WALTER
This also got video package treatment. Riddle and WALTER have traded the title recently, having three great matches. Thatcher has the added story of being Ringkampf buddies with WALTER. It was great how WALTER and Tim had nearly identical entrances (including music) and the contrast with Riddle’s personality. After taking Riddle out, the Ringkampf guys shook hands and went toe to toe. Like most Atlas Title matches, especially ones involving WALTER, this was stiff. Three guys beating the hell out of each other and not giving a damn. Riddle impressed by dead lifting WALTER again and doing his best to trade chops with the big lad. There was an awesome, yet scary spot where WALTER double German suplexed both opponents. I swore Riddle injured himself. This was the WALTER showcase, as he was awesome throughout and even got to no sell the KO knee from Riddle. He also scored the win, hitting a sitout tombstone at 12:49 to regain the title. This was very good, but not better than the straight up Riddle/WALTER matches. Thatcher didn’t add much, though he was tied up when the finish happened, so he could have claim to a title shot. [***½]

WALTER’s celebration was cut short by the PROGRESS debut of Wolfgang. He entered the ring and came face to face with the new champion, signaling that he wanted a shot. That could produce some quality big lads wrestling.

Number One Contender’s Scramble Match: Chief Deputy Dunne vs. Eddie Dennis vs. Flash Morgan Webster vs. Jack Sexsmith vs. James Drake vs. Mark Andrews vs. Strangler Davis vs. Zack Gibson
Gibson cut a heat filled promo before the match that saw him go into the crowd and get flipped off by nearly all 2,000 in attendance. He and Drake are the Grizzled Young Vets, while Andrews and Dennis make up FSU, giving two teams in the match. They worked together, but teased some dissension. There was a spot where four superplexes were hit in a row, which was cool. Sexsmith shined with all his wacky antics. The chaos kept building, with Webster hitting several headbutts and a great dive outside. Dennis had the highlight, Border Tossing Dunne over the turnbuckle and onto a crowd of competitors. Andrews offered up the win to his partner Dennis, having had several shots (and a title reign) in the past. Dennis couldn’t do it, getting hit with Destino. Andrews immediately came off the top with an SSP, pinning Flash at 13:14. This was a lot of fun and had some good storytelling. It was the chaotic match you’d expect, with lots of moving parts and enjoyable moments.[***¼]

Webster teased attacking Andrews, but they hugged it out. Eddie Dennis was less positive, turning on his partner and effectively becoming a heel. His demeanor changed as he left, soaking in the heat. Good way to set up a future feud.

PROGRESS World Championship: Pete Dunne [c] w/ Trent Seven and Tyler Bate vs. Travis Banks
I was more hype for this match than anything on the WrestleMania or Wrestle Kingdom cards. Dunne dropped the PROGRESS Title down the steps, only caring about the WWE UK Title. Banks came out firing, clotheslining Dunne before the bell and getting things started on his terms. BSS saved Dunne from an early submission, so Banks took them all out with dives. They all left and returned with sledgehammers, so referee Chris Roberts ejected Bate and Seven. From there, Dunne took over and wore down Banks. He did a masterful job of working the crowd and drawing more and more heat. The match relied on that and Banks’ comeback ability, which he excels at. Dunne hit an apron Pedigree and Banks responded with an apron Kiwi Krusher. Big offensive blows with everything on the line. Then came the overbooking, with Dunne tapping to the Lion’s Clutch but the referee being down. Bate and Seven returned, only to be taken out by #CCK. Banks survived a TON, including Bate and Seven’s finishers, a sledgehammer shot and pretty much anything else you could imagine. Finally, he took the sledgehammer and hit Dunne, followed by a Kiwi Krusher. Dunne kicked out, but Banks went right into the Lion’s Clutch, which made Dunne tap at 24:07. Was it overbooked? Yes. Did it make sense within the story they’ve been telling for months? Absolutely. Great storytelling and it worked as the culmination of a lengthy storyline. There were a few moments that went overboard, though. It was like the best kind of WWE Attitude Era main event. [****]

Post-match, Dunne threw the title at Banks and seemingly accepted that the better man won. #CCK and Travis’ parents celebrated with him to close the show.

Overall: 9/10. PROGRESS delivered in a big way for such an important show. Not a single thing on this show is bad, with the ratings bottoming out at ***. That’s nuts. As usual, there’s also a great mix of things throughout the show that gives almost everyone something to enjoy. There’s one of the best death matches I can recall, a fun triple threat match for the viewers who enjoy hard hitting battles, a wild scramble, a damn good women’s match, one of the best ladder matches all year and a main event that closed out months of storyline in proper fashion. Add in another chapter in the Sabre/Scurll story and the debut of Wolfgang and this was nearly everything I wanted it to be.