Saturday, December 2, 2017

PROGRESS Chapter 58: Live Your Best Life Review

PROGRESS Chapter 58: Live Your Best Life
November 26th, 2017 | Electric Ballroom in Camden, Greater London | Attendance: 700

PROGRESS returned home to the Electric Ballroom for Chapter 58. Jim Smallman went into his usual back and forth with the crowd. In a change of pace, this show opened with the PROGRESS Championship match.

PROGRESS World Championship: Travis Banks [c] vs. Matt Riddle
Riddle beat Banks back in July in an excellent match. After some mat grappling, they moved into chopping the hell out of each other. It felt like Travis wasn’t just trying to win, he was out to prove he could hang with the guy he lost to. The physical style continued as they fought outsider, with the highlight being Riddle nailing an exploder into a bunch of chairs. When Banks got going inside, Riddle tried some submissions. He got near falls on some of his best offense. From the Bro to Sleep to a German to a BIG BOY SENTON, Banks kept kicking out. Banks countering an ankle lock into the Lion’s Clutch made for a great close call. The same goes for Riddle stopping the Slice of Heaven with a rear naked choke attempt. The final stretch saw them throw bombs at one another. Riddle kicked out of an avalanche Kiki Krusher at one and then survived Slice of Heaven and another Kiwi Krusher. That was a bit much. Banks went right into the Lion’s Clutch and Riddle tapped at 17:20. What a wild way to start the show. I preferred their first match, even with the Pete Dunne interference. A bit of overkill in the finish, but that was the right blend of brutality and grappling. [****¼]

Riddle and Banks hugged after the match.

Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins w/ Vicky Haskins vs. M&M
M&M are Maverick Mayhew and Connor Mills. “Please don’t die” and “save the children” chants for M&M. Havoc and Haskins attacked before the bell, but M&M turned it around and nailed some dives outside. Their hot streak was short-lived, as Haskins and Havoc just dominated. They cut off Mayhew’s hot tag attempt and hit their Kiss of Death finish. Mills broke up the pin, only to get rewarded with an apron DVD and diving double stomp. Mayhew was left alone to get annihilated. He was finished off with an Acid Rainmaker/Superkick combo at 7:02. Exactly what it needed to be. M&M showed flashes, but this was the Havoc and Haskins show. They dominated and looked great. [***]

Post-match, Vicky teased a promo, but dropped the microphone and flipped off the fans.

Eddie Dennis vs. Jack Sexsmith
Both men are good, they’re just not people I’ve managed to fully connect with. I do enjoy Sexsmith much more than Dennis, though. Dennis jumped Sexsmith at the bell. He proceeded to basically murder Jack with a crucifix bomb into the ring post. It looked brutal. Jack got back in before getting counted out, but Dennis kept up the beating. Sexsmith started a rally, including bringing out Mr. Cocko and the Crippler Cockface, but Dennis survived. Dennis went back to hitting a barrage of offense. He had the match won, but kept picking Sexsmith up to add more damage. The referee eventually called for the bell at 11:15, as Dennis just continued to smash the back of Sexsmith’s head on the mat. It reminded me of Dennis/Dunne from a while back, only with a more vicious Dennis. Good storytelling, though I still just can’t get into Dennis. [**¾]

Eddie Dennis looked to continue the assault after the match, until Travis Banks ran out. Dennis laid out Banks at the end of the last chapter. Dennis ran from Banks and cut a promo about how he never received a singles PROGRESS Title match, despite being there since Chapter 6. He told Banks that if he wanted a fight, he’d have to put the title on the line.

No Disqualifications Number One Contender’s Match: Dahlia Black vs. Jinny
This got video package treatment. Jinny came out wearing a Jimmy Havoc style mask, prompting “JINNY, JINNY, JINNY FUCKING HAVOC” chants. I popped. Dahlia charged the ring and the fight was on. They battled to the stage, where Dahlia powerbombed Jinny through a table. A barbed wire chair came into play and Jinny took a suplex on it. SHE’S HARDCORE! They kind of messed up a spot where Jinny hit a moonsaulting Dahlia with a kendo stick. Jinny turned a bit too late and barely caught her, but made up for it with some vicious shots right after. Dahlia was next to take a table bump, just before Jinny brought out thumbtacks (in a fashionable purse, of course). It backfired as she got hit with a Samoan drop onto them. Dahlia survived a Styles Clash, but couldn’t kick out of a second onto a steel chair, giving Jinny the win at 12:02. The good was that this was violent like it needed to be and featured some crazy spots. Both girls gave it their all and took some big bumps. The bad was that a few spots came off awkwardly and I wish they incorporated Dahlia’s leg more, since that’s how the rivalry began. Still, very good stuff and I’m glad Jinny’s finally getting a title shot. [***¼]

After intermission, Jim Smallman had a lot of fun with a fan who was getting married next weekend. When asked whose theme he’d walk down the aisle to, he said Ringkampf. Jim made him to a complete Ringkampf style entrance, which he did well. His surprise that Timothy Thatcher stood behind him was great. Awesome moment.

Number One Contender’s Match: Strangler Davis vs. Timothy Thatcher
Davis has an Atlas Title shot, which was on the line here. Davis is 2-0 against Thatcher, including a win via ref stoppage at Chapter 56. After about a minute of action, unknown music hit. Rob Lynch, Davis’ former partner, returned to PROGRESS to a huge pop. The distraction let Thatcher roll him up to steal it at 1:38. [NR]

Lynch hit the ring and the LONDON RIOTS exploded! They had a pull apart brawl and a stunned Davis scurried up the ramp. Their match before Lynch left was very good, so I’m interested in this feud. Lynch’s arm was still messed up, so he’s not cleared to wrestle yet. When the dust settled, Thatcher got on the microphone and sent a message to his buddy WALTER, that he’ll take his title shot whenever WALTER is ready. Since he didn’t really compete tonight, Thatcher issued a challenge to anyone willing.

Chris Ridgeway vs. Timothy Thatcher
Ridgeway got a nice pop for his chapter debut. I’ve yet to see him, but have heard good things. Apparently, Ridgeway competed in a dark match before the show. Lots of grappling from these two in the early stages. Though that’s Thatcher’s specialty, Ridgeway held his own. He rallied with a series of kicks, but got caught in a Fujiwara armbar. Ridgeway tapped out almost instantly at the 6:13 mark. Not much here. Was hoping for more from Ridgeway, though maybe this wasn’t the best match for him to debut in. [**¼]

Flash Morgan Webster vs. Joseph Conners
Webster’s coming off a very good match against Keith Lee. Conners had attacked British Strong Style recently, but nobody seems to care. He got some “Adam Cole” related remarks from the crowd. They didn’t like anything Conners did. A few “boring” chants and even one audible fan saying, “DO SOMETHING INTERESTING.” The fan was not wrong. Webster took a beating, though it was hard to buy into it when he survived so much against the much more imposing Keith Lee. Conners finally did something cool, hitting a sunset flip bomb into the turnbuckles. Though Flash hit Pinball Wizard, he seemed hurt. Conners hit a flurry of elbows and won with a cradle Flatliner in 12:41. A technically fine match that suffered from Conners being boring. Outside of one or two spots, he was just so uninteresting that myself or the fans tuned out. Flash tried, but it wasn’t enough. [**]

PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Toni Storm [c] vs. Alex Windsor
Windsor won a four way at Chapter 57 for this shot. She also made the Semi-Finals of the tournament to crown the first Women’s Champion, losing to Laura Di Matteo. Toni avoided a shot and took Windsor to SUPLEX CITY! Her hot start also saw her nearly hurt herself on a tope suicida. Luckily, she was alright. Windsor turned it around with a backdrop onto the edge of the apron. That made Toni’s back the target of Windsor’s offense. It made Toni vulnerable in a way we haven’t really seen during her title reign. Toni got in some hope spots, but Windsor kept going to the back. She caught a dropkick into the Sharpshooter. Toni fought free and hit Strong Zero from out of nowhere to retain at 11:09. This was better than expected. Toni’s been on a roll, but Windsor targeted the back expertly and it showed that one little thing could make the champion vulnerable. Toni mostly sold it well, except during a few comeback moves. It also sold how the Strong Zero could be hit from anywhere to seal the deal. [***½]

PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: #CCK [c] vs. Grizzled Young Vets
As usual, Zack Gibson cut a heat filled promo before the bell. He referenced how often CCK seem to be injured. Once the match started, the crowd was obviously way behind #CCK. The champions got a chance to showcase their great tandem offense, which caused the challengers to head outside in frustration. The Vet’s tandem offense getting “shit fucking tag moves” chants compared to the “sick fucking tag moves” chants for #CCK was great. Things moved outside, where Lykos hit a somersault off a small balcony. They went all over the Electric Ballroom. It led to Gibson taking a crazy bump off the stage and onto some chairs. Lykos was taken out, leaving Brookes alone against the challengers. Brookes got trapped in the Shankly Gates and had to tap out at 16:12. The ending felt anti-climactic and the fans fell to a hush. This match didn’t go the way I expected. It had bigger spots, though wasn’t as fluid as it could’ve been. Lykos injured his shoulder during the match. [**¾]

Overall: 6/10. Back to back outings from PROGRESS that were only above average. Not their best string, though that could be because they’re still setting up a lot of what’s to come. Havoc and Haskins got more build, new Tag Champions were crowned, Toni Storm continued her dominant run, new contenders for the Women’s and Atlas Titles were crowned and Rob Lynch returned. So, it was an eventful show, just not one that featured a bunch of great matches. Riddle/Banks was awesome and I really liked the two women’s matches, but nothing else really stood out.