Sunday, February 4, 2018
It’s the second PROGRESS chapter of 2018. They got off to a strong start and this card looks even better on paper. Not to waste too much time, here goes the action.
Jim Smallman started off with a heartfelt standing ovation for a friend who lost their child (I believe, the audio wasn’t too clear for it). With that done, things moved to happier tone as he had some fun with the crowd. Unfortunately, Millie McKenzie suffered an injury and was off the show. Her match with Toni Storm was one of my most anticipated.
Ridgeway has been making waves on recent PROGRESS shows, while I’ve seen Omari on a handful of shows. They started on the mat for a bit, but moved to strikes and bigger offense. Their exchanges of strikes and kicks were great. Ridgeway always seemed to have a slight advantage, and his series of German suplexes were great. After some great back and forth, they went into just leveling each other with forearms. It was like something out of a NEVER Title match. In the end, Ridgeway countered a suplex into one of his own, and moved into a modified sleeper to earn the win in 10:00. Really good way to start the show and the tournament. They did a lot, without overdoing things as the opener. Great exchanges, with both strikes and submissions, while maintaining a high level of intensity.
Before Live at the Dome #3, I hadn’t seen Roy Johnson since he got ROASTED on the mic during Super Strong Style 16. Johnson being billed from “SOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTHHHHHHH london" is great. They had some fun in the early goings, especially with the opening handshake. Eaver sent Johnson outside and followed with a plancha that didn’t go well. His feet got caught in the ropes and he crashed hard, wrestling the rest of the way with a huge lump over his eye. Eaver looked out of it after that, and it turns out, he also tore his quad on the spot. Johnson scored the win with Wavy Tonic in 7:46. This was fine and I must commend Eaver for finishing with the injury.
This is quite the combination of wrestlers. Sabre’s growing a beard. Since this show took place on the same day as the Royal Rumble, Seven opened by dumping both guys over the top and celebrating. He even pointed up at Jon Briley like he was the WrestleMania sign. That led to a really long, really fun slugfest involving everyone. Sabre brought a ton of submissions, Seven had some hard strikes, and Brookes did a bit of both. They continued with entertaining bits sprinkled in among the great moves. German suplexes, rapid fire chops, piledrivers, sentons, lariats, back fists, etc. This match had them all. Brookes was knocked outside, and Seven wanted his Seven Star Lariat. Sabre avoided it and used the European Clutch pin to win in 18:06 It got a bit too cute at times, but it was a really fun match that had a lot of action.
These guys were arguably the best tag team in wrestling in the first half of 2017. Instantly, Banks kicked at TK’s recently repaired leg. It set the tone for a more physical match than you’d expect from two friends. There was a great moment where he changed his mind on doing the spot that he got injured on last year, so Banks was more than happy to go high risk against him. There was also Banks delivering a series of kicks to the back, where he would normally only do one. As if he knew to give a little extra to his tough partner. TK had the champ well scouted, avoiding the Slice of Heaven. He also brought out a chokeslam and super Spanish Fly for near falls. Like the Chris Brookes title match, TK grabbed the title and considered using it. Brookes showed up and snatched it from him. TK applied an Octopus Hold and flipped off Brookes, who pulled out the ref and returned the bird to TK. TK hit him with a dive and lost an exchange with Banks inside, tapping to the Lion Clutch in 15:13. Like the Brookes match, this was very good and played off how well Banks knew his opponent. The story of TK fighting through his previous injury and throwing everything he had at Banks was great.
Brookes and Cooper got in each other’s face after the match and started brawling. TK hit Banks as he tried breaking it up, causing them to rumble. Banks and Brookes also went at it, while officials entered the ring to pull them all apart.
After intermission, Jim Smallman got set to do his shout outs. Trent Seven ran out in his gear and a jacket, with his luggage and a neck pillow, saying he was paying his own way to get to the Royal Rumble tonight. A few minutes later, he solemnly returned because he missed his Uber. Classic.
As noted, Jinny was scheduled to get a Women’s Title shot. She got hurt and replaced by Millie McKenzie, who also got hurt. Jinny came out, with her hand in a brace and her arm in a sling. She cut a promo about how today was supposed to be one of the biggest days of her career. Jinny spoke about how hard she has worked to get this opportunity and how much she loves wrestling. She put over Millie in this heartfelt promo, but then turned on a dime, by calling the fans pathetic because they instantly forgot about her once her replacement was announced. Jinny handpicked Toni’s opponent, called Toni a princess (while she’s a queen) and a bitch, and introduced that opponent. Great promo from Jinny. She should get a run with the title, even if it’s a short one.
Personally, Chakara hasn’t impressed me much. Jinny remained at ringside. Storm offered a handshake, but Chakara elbowed her instead. Her hot start was cut short by a corner powerbomb from the champion. Chakara tried bringing her hardest hitting, best offense, but Toni would snap off a German suplex and stop her in her tracks. Still, Chakara’s aggression stood out here. She hit a nice hammerlock DDT I hadn’t seen from her before, and threw some vicious kicks at a few points. Toni fought through it and hit the Strong Zero to retain in 7:20. Probably the best work I’ve seen from Chakara, though still the worst Storm title defense. There was effort, but nobody ever believed Chakara had a chance. The finish was flat, too.
Jinny came face to face with Toni and kicked her in the chest. She continued to put the boots to her, until Toni kind of fought her off. Jinny went to leave, but Toni was jumped from behind by Nina Samuels. All three women stomped on the Women’s Champion. Samuels handed Jinny the title and held the ropes for her on the way out. Jinny’s got herself a stable. I like it.
Before the match, Eddie Dennis came out to run down Andrews. He said FSU was Andrews and [insert Welsh friend]. He called the fans sheep and said he could feel them turning on Andrews and realizing he’s right. He joined commentary to keep his promise of following Andrews until he gets his title shot. Havoc and Haskins jumped their opponents as soon as they happened. They brutalized Andrews outside, leaving Jones to fend for himself. They toyed with him as he got isolated. Danny fought hard as Andrews kept getting prevented from being in position for the hot tag. He finally got it and hit Stundog Millionaire, but surprisingly tagged back out rather quickly. The finishing stretch saw everyone get in their signature stuff. A Vicky distraction didn’t amount to much, though Jones came close to winning after it. The next Vicky distraction led to the kiss of death and the Acid Rainmaker/kick combo that ended it after 14:33. This was a good tag match. The formula was well done, as was the story of Andrews not being an entirely reliable partner. Havoc and Haskins continue to be a highlight in the ring, though I wish we got more from their story.
I thought Flash was leaving after his promo on the last chapter. Both guys came in on losing streaks. This opened with some grappling, where Williams had the upper hand. Flash is at his best when working against bigger guys who can kind of bully him, which is what Doug can do very well. In a lot of Doug’s recent matches, he’s been hitting his signature stuff. Kind of what you expect if a guy is on a farewell tour of sorts. Here, he couldn’t quite hit some of it. The flying knee missed and there was no Chaos Theory. It reached a point where Doug was willing to take a countout win. For some reason, Vicky Haskins came out and distracted the referee, preventing him from counting to ten. Flash got back in and won via Strangler in 12:29. Good stuff with some great elements of story. Doug and Flash were both desperate for a win, and Doug couldn’t hit his best stuff, so he was willing to win by countout. I like it.
Vicky applauded Flash, who was upset when he noticed her.
It’s great to see WALTER getting main event treatment. Interestingly, Thatcher turned down a handshake to start. There was lots of grappling to start, but when WALTER slapped the shit out of Thatcher, you could feel the energy change in the room. That kick started a barrage of brutal chops and kicks. Thatcher’s chest was red and bloody within five minutes. He finally found an opening by slamming WALTER’s hand into the ring post, taking away his best weapon. He added an impressed suplex on the outside, but a belly to belly inside failed and WALTER landed on him. WALTER had to rely on left handed chops, which were still stiff, but nowhere near his right hand ability. When Thatcher gets the armbar applied, WALTER sells it like it’s all over. He scrambled to the ropes and continually fought for his life to escape. Thatcher blocked a chop to the chest, so WALTER just chopped him SQUARE ACROSS THE FACE! He found the will to kick out, before eating a lariat, boot, and powerbomb to stay down after 21:39. An unbelievable match. I wrote about so much and still left out a bunch. This was exactly the kind of hard hitting match it needed to be. You could feel the violence throughout. The work on WALTER’s hand was a fantastic idea and added something extra to this. I loved how there were almost no near falls until late, showing how much they knew it would take to beat the other. I could go on and on, but this was incredible. Possibly the best match in PROGRESS history.
Post-match, Thatcher gave WALTER the handshake and they embraced.
Overall: . Not on the consistent level of Chapter 61, but it had much higher highs. While the Women’s Title match lacked in the ring, the angle came off very well. I can excuse Johnson/Eaver due to the injury. The rest of the show ranged from good to outstanding. The Banks angle continued with another very good match and aftermath, while the Haskins/Havoc team delivered in the ring again. They just need more story advancement. I also dug the opener and the three way match. The main event is absolutely must-see and will probably find its way into my top ten when the year ends.