Sunday, April 29, 2018

PROGRESS Chapter 67: Bourbon Is Also A Biscuit Review

PROGRESS Chapter 67: Bourbon Is Also A Biscuit
April 7th, 2018 | Ponchartrain Centre in New Orleans, Louisiana

A day after hosting Chapter 66, PROGRESS remained in New Orleans for Chapter 67. Though there were less people in attendance for this show (mostly due to Saturday being a busy Mania weekend day), the card still looked pretty loaded.

Jim Smallman made note of the smaller crowd, saying they’d need to be loud to make up for those who weren’t there.

Chris Brookes vs. Ray Horus
Horus is not a PRGORESS regular. Couple that with the push Brookes has had lately and the outcome seems fairly obvious. The lack of commentary continued to make these chapters feel out of place. Anyway, this match was more back and forth than I expected. Horus was given ample time to show what he’s got and some of his acrobats were impressive. Brookes was the crowd favorite, though he got booed for going after Horus’ mask. Their late exchanges were the highlight, though there was an odd moment where they ran to opposite corners and stood there, unsure of the next spot. After Horus survived a Michinoku Driver, Brookes trapped him in the Octopus Hold for the win in 14:41. This was good, though I felt it went a bit too long. Solid back and forth exchanges and some impressive spots sprinkled in. [***]

PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Toni Storm [c] vs. Mercedes Martinez
This came about after Martinez scored a win over Shazza McKenzie in a tag on the last chapter. Like that tag, this opened with some very even grappling between the ladies. Toni’s brash attitude seemed to anger Martinez, which turned it into more of a physical contest. Martinez came close with a Tower of London and her variation of Three Amigos. Toni had to fight from behind, which she doesn’t do often. She would burst out offense here or there, but that’s it. Toni got her foot on the ropes following a Fisherman Buster, then caught Martinez in an armbar from out of nowhere to retain in 8:23. With a few more minutes and a crowd that believed in Martinez as a threat, this could’ve been special. It was still very good, with a logical, well told story. I might be the high man on this, but I dug it. [***¼]

Will Ospreay came out to have a word with the crowd. At one of his many appearances over the weekend, he got pretty banged up and changes had to be made to this show. To stick to his commitment, he offered up the idea of doing a mixed tag.

WWN and FIP Champion Austin Theory and Jinny vs. Kay Lee Ray and IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay
Surprised Theory didn’t go with Priscilla Kelly as his partner. Or at least at ringside. He insinuated that Ospreay went this route so Theory didn’t embarrass him in a singles match. This opened with a great moment of Jinny putting on a Jimmy Havoc mask (her trainer) to try and get in Ospreay’s head considering their rivalry. From there, we were treated to some wacky spots involving a voodoo doll that KLR brought to the ring. They set things up for a hot tag to Ospreay so he could shut Theory up. Will mostly played it safe, though he still took a rough bump on a lariat. KLR and Will worked great together and pulled off an assisted reverse rana, before KLR hit Theory with a wild modified Tombstone. However, she fell to a Jinny middle rope X-Factor to end it in 11:50. If you take your wrestling too seriously, you probably won’t enjoy this. But, for what it was, I had a pretty good time and the crowd seemed too as well. It also got Jinny more momentum heading into her upcoming title match.[**¾]

David Starr, Keith Lee and Evolve Champion Matt Riddle vs. Flash Morgan Webster, Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins w/ Vicky Haskins
This marked the first appearance of heel Flash with these guys. They were all serious, but the faces came in to have a good time. To combat Starr’s introduction, his opponents were introduced as “not giving a fuck about Twitter or foreskin.” Even with those attitudes, they couldn’t help but get involved in some shenanigans. Havoc bit Riddle’s foot, so Lee came in with confidence because he wore boots, only for Havoc to bite his knee. There were also times when the heels broke and could be seen laughing. Starr was the clear choice to take the heat. Once he finally got free, Lee came in and started throwing people around. That included sending Flash over the top and onto a big pile outside. In the end, Starr ended up alone and took the Kiss of Death, with an added knee from Flash, for the finish at 17:01. The best thing on the show so far. The action was very good and all the personalities got a chance to shine through. Good win for Vicky’s trio. [***½]

Number One Contender’s Match: PROGRESS Atlas Champion WALTER w/ Timothy Thatcher vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Winner gets a shot at the PROGRESS World Title. This was one of my most anticipated matches of the weekend. It started with fine grappling, until Sabre slapped WALTER. WALTER threw up his hands as if to say, “Come on, man. We were having a respectful battle.” The Atlas Champion proceeded to chop Sabre all around the ring. Sabre sold them like death, until catching one and stomping on WALTER’s arm. He made that body part his target. However, he seemed to forget that WALTER could chop just as hard with his other hand. Sabre remained a defiant little shit. He slapped and flipped off WALTER at every turn, taking chops for it. He went into attempting near falls, including his signature European Clutch. One of his pins got countered into a rear naked choke and he tapped at 12:51. Not the MOTY contender I heard it was, but still a great match and possibly top five of Mania weekend. Sabre remained in character and had a great strategy, only to get stuck when WALTER had an answer. The finish felt a bit abrupt and some of Sabre’s bumps on chops were a bit comical, but other than that, this delivered. [****¼]

PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: Grizzled Young Vets [c] vs. Ethan Page and Rickey Shane Page
The match was announced as Rickey and a mystery partner. He chose his real life “brother,” Ethan Page. They cut a funny promo about the Page “wrestling family,” which included Paige Page and DDP. Zack Gibson interrupted to his typically large amount of heat. He ran down the crowd and his opponents before the bell. The Pages worked well together. We got a funny moment where RSP came in for tandem offense, but did so while holding a detached tag rope, so it was all legal in his mind. Not a ton happened in this. The challengers were surprisingly in control for most of it. Near the end, Eddie Dennis appeared and distracted them. He said something about “their buddy Mark.” That allowed Ticket to Mayhem to hit for the champs to retain in 9:46. It had some funny moments, but that’s about it. [**]

Post-match, Dennis said Mark Andrews was who PROGRESS reached out to for RSP’s partner, but he chose to wave to the crowd for five seconds of fame on the WWE Network instead. Eddie called himself the “last independent wrestler left” and then attacked RSP with the microphone.

PROGRESS World Championship: Travis Banks [c] vs. Jeff Cobb
Cobb was cashing in his Thunderbastard title shot that he won a night earlier. Banks cut a pre-match promo calling himself, “Big Kiwi.” He tried a Roman Reigns Superman punch to start, but Cobb caught him in a belly to belly and began throwing the champ around. That’s how Cobb spent the first half or so of the match. He was in firm control. Banks rallied and made sure to do what was necessary to keep the crowd against him. Cobb pulled out the Superman Punch taunt and hit a Spear, getting a surprising pop. Banks fought through it and won with a spinning Kiwi Krusher in 9:27. One of the shortest PROGRESS main events I can recall. It was fine, but it also kind of just ended abruptly. It felt like it never truly got going. Good action overall, just not really enough of it. [***]
Overall: 7/10. Slightly better than Chapter 65, but both didn’t really deliver the way I hoped. The last two matches were average and disappointed for the most part. The rest of the card is pretty strong, though. The mixed tag was fun, the opener was solid, and I enjoyed the Women’s Title match. The six man tag was very good and WALTER/Sabre was one of the best matches from PROGRESS all year.