Saturday, July 7, 2018
Following a wacky trip to the 70s for Chapter 70, PROGRESS was back to the company we all know and love for Chapter 71. The Thunderbastard Tag Team Series continues, the South Pacific Power Trip is back together, there’s a WWE employee on the card, and we’re on the road to Wembley.
Jim Smallman did his usual opening spiel, before introducing a guest. It was Steffanie Newell, formerly known as Nixon Newell and soon to be Tegan Nox in NXT. She came out to her “C’est La Vie” theme, which led to a sing-along from the crowd. She was scheduled to be on the card tonight, but was unfortunately injured the night before at Download Festival. Though she couldn’t compete, she was allowed to pick her replacement. The replacement? DAKOTA KAI! Dakota reminded the fans that she won the last time she was in the ring with Jinny (in a tag) and threatened to kick her FUC- but was interrupted by Newell, reminding her to be PG. Dakota vowed to kick Jinny’s freaking head off and win the title.
I believe this was my first look at either guy. Dante is a former PROGRESS Tag Champion, though. The winner gets a shot at Doug Williams’ Atlas Championship. They certainly fit the bill of BIG LADS WRESTLING. That was especially true when they did more than just beat on each other, but also showcase athleticism and other things that you expect from the versatile bigs of this division. It was surprisingly short, though. Just when it seemed to be picking up and getting good, Dante scored with a Spear to win in 5:28. A fine little opener, but one that ended just when it might’ve gotten better. Dante looked pretty good.
Flash, Mark, and Vicky came out to N.W.A’s “Fuck The Police” and dressed in jail jumpsuits. Incredible. If you’ve seen the Anti-Fun Police before, then you know how much of a blast Los Federales Santos Jr. is. He brought a strong comedy aspect to this match, even though Flash and Mark have been more serious lately. Though they’ve had a tumultuous relationship so far, Flash and Haskins worked well together. There was a great spot where Flash came in and moved Mark out of the way of taking a move and hit one of his own. Another good spot saw the Anti-Fun Police trapped in submissions, only for Santos to power up and drop Flash on Mark to break them. Vicky resorted to her old tricks late, distracting the referee so Flash could kick Santos low, allowing Haskins to roll him up and win in 8:58. This was fun, with personalities shining.
The winner faces Chris Ridgeway in the finals. I always chuckle when Duggan gets, “HOOOO” chants from the crowd. Davis has been one of the breakout stars in all of wrestling this year, while I haven’t seen much of Duggan. One of the reasons Davis has stood out is his abundance of vicious strikes. He showed them off here, laying into Duggan with chops that left his chest beet red. Duggan fought hard to throw what he could at Davis, including a tope suicida into the crowd. He also scored a few close near falls, bringing the crowd to their feet even though Davis was the clear favorite. Duggan’s sitout powerbomb was a highlight. However, Davis just walloped him with a punch and that was all in 9:03. The finish was a bit too abrupt, but leading up to that was some very good action. Davis continues to shine.
Will Ospreay challenged Jimmy Havoc to find the Jimmy Havoc of old, so here he is in another Death Match. Before the bell, Trivet talked trash, saying Ospreay told him some hard truths about Havoc being homeless, having his girl leave him, and being an alcoholic. He also told him to stop riding on the coattails of winning Tournament of Death a year ago and poked fun at how little money he made from it. Jimmy had enough and attacked him to start this. What we got was a brutal, barbaric match fitting of the stipulation. That included Jimmy stapling Spike’s tongue, Spike driving scissors into Jimmy’s arm, and the use of a lemon into some open wounds. One of the best moments saw Trivet get a canvas and hang Jimmy upside down, letting his blood cover it. He then got a paintbrush and painted in his blood. It was clear that Spike was as sick as Jimmy. Spike got on the mic and told Jimmy to give up because he may have built this scene, but it doesn’t need him anymore. Havoc kicked out at one on some of Spike’s biggest offense. But then Spike delivered a chair shot and won at 14:06. Surprising result but one that fit the story they were going for. It was one-sided and showed that Will Ospreay was correct. Jimmy is not the same guy who went to war with him and held the PROGRESS Title for over a year. He’ll need to rebound.
It’s a battle of two lanky guys who competed in Super Strong Style 16. They’re lanky to the point of getting “tall lads wrestling” chants. Considering the guys involved, this was worked at a slower pace than expected. Around eight or so minutes in, it began to pick up. Angelico got going but missed a dive and the fight moved to the aisle. It led to a cool suplex spot involving a guardrail, though it felt out of place with the rest of the match. Angelico’s leg was too hurt for him to follow up after hitting a Buckle Bomb. That allowed Brookes to win with the Praying Mantis Bomb in 13:26. It was a good little match, but one that didn’t seem very focused at some points. I feel like that’s an issue with Brookes’ singles stuff. He works so much better in a tag.
Speaking of tags, Brookes got on the microphone to address the Kid Lykos situation. Vicky Haskins came out and distracted him while Mark Haskins and Flash Morgan Webster jumped him from behind. They wanted to take Brookes out to remove a team from the Thunderbastard Series. Webster offered to hit the final blow for Mark and prove himself a bit. He clocked Brookes with his helmet, impressing Haskins who hugged him. The #CCK music hit and Lykos walked out with his arm in a sling. He removed it to a pop and revealed that the wolf was back. He hit the Brainbuster and sent Haskins and Flash packing, marking the official return of #CCK.
If Jack or WALTER get the pin, they earn another shot at Travis Banks. If one of them gets pinned by Banks, they can’t get another shot while he’s champion. If TK pins someone, he gets an Atlas Title shot since he weighs a “heavy 206 pounds.” Big implications. This followed the story you’d probably expect. Banks and Cooper were more than happy to take on Sexsmith, but did their best to avoid WALTER. WALTER took whatever opportunity he could to level Banks, wanting revenge for their title match. Sexsmith and WALTER were fun together, with Sexsmith getting press slammed by his partner onto their opponents outside. It took some underhanded tactics, like using the PROGRESS Title as a weapon, for WALTER to find himself in trouble. He nearly got pinned by TK twice. Sexsmith eventually ended up as the face in peril. It set up a great spot where he was trapped in the Lion Clutch as TK held WALTER back. WALTER still managed to break it up and get the hot tag. They kind of messed up the finish, as Banks awkwardly stood there with the title so Sexsmith could kick it into his face. Jack picked it up and stared at it, before kissing WALTER on the forehead and basically telling him to go for it. WALTER clotheslined TK and won at 15:43. This was very good. I’m glad they didn’t go down the route of the overused arguing over who gets the pin trope. Everyone played their roles perfectly and it led to one hell of a fun match.
How can you not love Dakota Kai? Jinny continued to nail her character, taking forever to get ready for the match. It started out as a mat based match, until Dakota no sold a headbutt and shouted, “I’M SAMOAN!” Jinny remained aggressive and was in control because of it. Everything she did had something extra on it. A highlight was her viciously pulling Dakota face first onto her knee. Combine that with hair pulling and hard dropkicks and Dakota was in a world of trouble. Dakota survived a submission and began her comeback. Lots of fire in it and some stiff kicks to rival what Jinny put behind her shots. Dakota kicked out of the Styles Clash and hit her new finisher, the Kai-ropractor. Chakara pulled out the referee to save Jinny and then hit Dakota with the title. Though Dakota survived that, she couldn’t after being hit with the Acid Rainmaker, losing in 15:42. I really enjoyed this main event. The interference wasn’t overdone like in the Toni Storm match and played off Jinny having a group around her to help protect her. Jinny’s heel mannerisms and style was such a good foil for Kai, who is an ultimate sympathetic babyface.
Post-match, a fuming Newell said that when her injury healed, she was coming for Jinny and the title. Anywhere in the world.
Overall: This show felt indicative to what PROGRESS has been all year. It featured a lot of good and nothing great. There are several strong matches to check out (Women’s Title, Death Match, semi-main tag, and the Natural Progression Tourney match), but none are anything you definitely need to see. As a whole, the show was the good old fun I expect from PROGRESS.