Thursday, July 5, 2018

PROGRESS Chapter 70: May 27th, 1978 Review

PROGRESS Chapter 70: May 27th, 1978
May 27th, 2018 | Electric Ballroom in Camden, Greater London | Attendance: 700

Following Super Strong Style 16 and the big Victoria Warehouse show, PROGRESS kind of takes a cooldown for Chapter 70. They go retro, complete with outfits, graphics, and almost everything else you can imagine. This was done in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Electric Ballroom opening.

Jim Smallman, billed as Jimmy Barnett, started things off in a suit and had a microphone descend from the ceiling. Old school.

Thunderbastard Tag Team Series: Flash Morgan Webster and Mark Haskins [0] w/ Vicky Haskins vs. M&M [0]
I love how Flash Morgan Webster changed nothing about his look for this show, because it’s already so 70s. Mark wore an Andre the Giant style singlet and Vicky had on bellbottoms. For tonight, this team was known as “The Mod and The Rocker.” Meanwhile, M&M were dubbed “Greased Lightning,” complete with theme, jackets, and everything. Even the commentary was dedicated to being as old school as possible. One consistent was the issues between Flash and Mark, which cost them early. Lots of fast paced action in this one, with M&M having to fight from behind, as usual. It works for them and the crowd is getting more and more behind them. M&M nearly won it following some cool offense, but a timely distraction by the “Killer Hippie” Vicky Haskins, and a shot from Flash’s helmet by Mark, gave his duo the win in 9:32. I liked this. Good action, fun interactions, and continuing the existing angles. [***]

Chris Brookes vs. Chuck Mambo
Our referee was CLIVE ROBERTS! Awesome. Mambo had a banger against Zack Sabre Jr. during Super Strong Style 16. He was known as Catweazle Jr., while Brookes came out to “Human Fly” by the Cramps (released in 1978), and was known as Chris Only. This was one of those matches that worked better for the live crowd than on VOD. They ate up the comedy stuff and loved Catweazle Jr. They did a bit with Clive Roberts where he beat Only. The bell rang and everything. Brookes seemed to enjoy playing the heel. Mambo eventually picked up a relatively surprising win with the Praying Mantis Bomb in 14:12. A sold little match with some fun moments throughout. Mambo should stay at Catweazle Jr. going forward. He was a highlight. [**¾]

Natural Progression Series V Semi-Finals: Chris Ridgeway vs. Drew Parker
I forgot this tournament was going on. Drew Parker, lover of death matches, came out to John Lennon’s “Imagine” and played the role a peace loving hippie. Meanwhile, Ridgeway was introduced as a black belt and had a list read off of everything he had a black belt in, including being hard as fuck and origami. I love PROGRESS. Despite the fun and games, like the opener, stuff was on the line here. This was one of those styles clashes that worked. Ridgeway brought the martial arts stuff, while Parker played it wild and loose like you’d expect. Parker’s unorthodox offense helps him stand out in almost any match he has. He came close a few times on countering Ridgeway submissions. In the end, they went into a strike exchange that saw Ridgeway counter Parker and trap him in a rear naked choke. That got him the submission win in 11:39. Another good match. The styles made for a solid contest. [***]

El Phantasmo and Jordan Devlin vs. The South Pacific Power Trip
Yes, Travis Banks and TK Cooper teamed up again, but technically, they were the SheepWhackers as they parodied Luke and Butch. This was the biggest pop Travis Banks has received in months. Banks and Cooper looked to be having a blast out there. While they were having fun in their roles for the evening, Devlin was impressing again, and Phantasmo was making a case for sticking around in PROGRESS. Due to all those factors, this was the wildest match on the show and probably the most fun. I thought Devlin and Phantasmo worked very well as a team, especially for not being a consistent duo. Commentary’s reactions to everything remained great, acting like this was all new to them in 1978. The finish was another bit of a fun, as the SheepWhackers used a Battering Ram to secure it in 17:20. A zany match where everyone went all in and had a ton of fun. [***½]

PROGRESS Tag Team Championship Thunderbastard Tag Team Series: Grizzled Young Vets [c] [0] vs. Aussie Open [2]
As noted, the champions must defend their titles in each match of this tournament. GYV went by the Kings of Europe here, playing off Liverpool having retained the European Cup in 1978. Aussie Open were the Billabong Boys. Gibson’s pre-match promo saw him call the GYV Godzilla, while the challengers were Japan. The champs got the early jump and did what they do best. Meanwhile, Aussie Open continued to show why they’re a force in the tag team division. The combination of Fletcher’s high flying skill and Davis’ sheer brutality is a great one. The champs would remain in control because of their experience together and willingness to do whatever it takes. Aussie Open came close a few times and just when it looked like they might pull it off with the Fidget Spinner, there was confusion on who the legal man was. Gibson took advantage with a rollup to steal it at 11:46. Aussie Open looked great at some points, but too much of this didn’t exactly click the way I wanted. [**¾]

Isla Dawn vs. Nina Samuels
So, these two ladies came out protesting the Greater London Wrestling Council for their ban on women’s wrestling. They decided to have their own match out of protest. Dawn, mostly known from “Live at the Dome” shows, was known as Bonnie Bolan, while Samuels went by Nina Sparkles. Wither neither woman being prominent on main chapter shows (Nina’s only worked a handful of shows and is mostly a Jinny henchwoman), the crowd wasn’t as into this as you’d hope. Still, they went out and had a competitive match. Samuels/Sparkles continued to do well as the heel. She seems to be learning from Jinny. Nina won with a modified GTS in 9:50. It was fine, but lacked some heat and not all the exchanges worked well. [**½]

Jack Sexsmith vs. Jimmy Havoc
Wow. Jack came out with giant peacock feathers and was called AJ Streetsmith. Havoc chugged a beer, ate the head off a chicken, and was known as Jizzy Jizzbourne (he came out to Black Sabbath). This match was a blast. Sexsmith got to play the heel, hitting low blows and jawing with the crowd, while Havoc stopped in the middle to share a beer. Jizzy finally fired up when he got his hands on some “fighting powder” he snorted. It was only a quick burst of energy and he needed more to continue. Havoc won with a piledriver in 7:42. Honestly, I don’t think I can rate that. It wasn’t really a match, as there was only one wrestling move done. However, it was one of the more fun segments on the show, so it gets points for that. [NR]

Adam Brooks vs. Matt Cross
What a strange choice for a main event. Sure, it ended up being 70’s stars Andrew Wilmot against “Double Meat” Popeye Mulligan, but these are still two guys who have barely appeared on any chapters. I don’t believe I’ve seen Brooks since a match with Will Ospreay early in the year and I’ve never seen Cross in PROGRESS. They went on to have a good match. However, it was one that felt kind of hollow. Maybe it was because I had nothing invested in either guy, but it certainly lacked something. I got a kick out of commentary losing their minds at the sight of a Destroyer, as well as things like a 450 splash. Cross got the victory with a rebound cutter in 18:33. It felt like it dragged on at points. It still did have a lot of action and was a strong match, it just didn’t feel right as a main event. [***¼]

Overall: 6/10. There were some good pieces to this show, there just wasn’t enough. It felt like there was a lack of stars (British Strong Style, Sabre, Storm, Jinny, WALTER, Andrews, etc.) and came across as more of a special show than a chapter. The retro stuff was fun, but too many of the matches still felt grounded in 2018 (other than Sexsmith/Havoc).