Thursday, July 12, 2018
Back to the long, three plus hour events for PROGRESS. As we continue our trek to Wembley, the Thunderbastard Tag Team Series continues, while the Natural Progression Series comes to an end. Plus, there’s an Atlas Title match, World Title match, British Strong Style is in action, and there’s a highly touted match involving Jordan Devlin.
Jim Smallman’s opening consisted of discussing the World Cup and pointing a couple who got married the day prior, with the bride coming down to Jack Sexsmith’s theme, “I Touch Myself.” Cool stuff.
Williams won the title to snap a losing streak, while Dante earned this shot with a win on the last chapter. The fans were hot for their first official look at Doug as champion. Like his last appearance, Dante showed potential and could make for a useful addition to the BIG LADS division, especially with WALTER moving on. However, Williams has an ongoing story of saying he’ll retire with his next loss. That meant that nobody in the building believed Dante would win this one. He did come close with a flash pin counter, but the outcome was never really in doubt. Williams won with the Bomb Scare Knee Drop in 7:02. It was technically fine, but lacked anything even resembling drama.
I’m really happy Di Matteo is back. She has history with Jinny, so it makes sense that Jinny would send her goons to take her out before she earns a title shot. Morgan attacked early and had no problem using little underhanded tactics to remain in control. She was on the offensive for way longer than I expected. The crowd was way into Laura. She used hat for a comeback, but had to deal with members of the House of Couture. Even after Laura took out most of them with a tope suicida, they still found a way to break up her submission. Laura kicked out of a rollup, sending Charlie into Nina Samuels. Laura then rolled her up to get the win in 10:21. A bit slow at points, but the hot crowd helped things along. Both girls are still raw, but have a lot of talent. This worked as the first chapter of a larger story.
Post-match, Laura stared down Jinny on her way out.
This is the match that has gotten all the hype. With the loud crowd before the bell even rang, this had a big fight feel. That crowd reaction played a role. Ospreay seemed annoyed that Devlin was besting him at his own game early, and even more peeved that he was getting the cheers from the fans. As the match progressed, they just began throwing some of their wildest offensive bombs at one another. That’s one thing, but to do it with the speed they did is insane. If I were trying to do play-by-play in this review, I’d be lost. It neared Dragon Lee/Hiromu Takahashi levels of fast, yet they don’t have the history of those guys. Ospreay lifted the “land on our feet Spanish Fly” spot from BOLA. He looked so pleased with himself, you just wanna smack him. He also started throwing some signature Jimmy Havoc offense to build their Wembley match. The final moments were nuts and Ospreay won with his best looking Storm Breaker ever in 15:59. An absolutely bonkers match. It’s not a MOTYC like I’ve heard, but it’s great. This is usually when Will is at his best. When he can go all out in this environment. When he tries other stuff, it’s usually a whiff. Devlin looked great here, keeping up with one of the fastest, most agile guys around. A banger.
Post-match, Ospreay attacked a crew member with an Acid Rainmaker and Curb Stomp, furthering the build for his match with Jimmy Havoc. Surprisingly, Paul Robinson, the producer from the back, made the save and scolded Ospreay to the back.
The Besties in the World came out to “Truly Madly Deeply,” which was fantastic. The pop for seeing the NXT Tag Titles was insane. The champs mocked Undisputed Era at every opportunity before the bell. This was filled to the brim with typical BSS antics. If you love them, like me, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re sick of them, you probably won’t. Though it was a chapter show debut for the other team, the fans seemed to know a fair amount about them. Alexander played the “walking weapon” very well. I enjoyed what I saw of him in Alpha-1. It broke down into a more serious affair once the Besties and Josh took control. During that time, they showed off an impressive array of tandem offense, especially from the Besties. I’m all for having them come back. I was surprised to see Seven pin Alexander following a Seven Star Lariat and Burning Hammer, ending the match in 20:25. It was a good six man tag, though not up to the high level I’m used to from British Strong Style. The antics were fun, though they dragged at times. I was impressed with the losing team, as well.
The teams showed respect to one another after the match. Dunne addressed the challenge of Ilja Dragunov, which brought out Christian Michael Jakobi. He teased Ilja coming out, but said fans had to pay to see him again. Dunne attempted to leave with nothing further, but CMJ goaded him back with insults and a slap. Dunne chased him away through the crowd to end the segment.
The start of the second half of the show was interrupted by the arrival of Eddie Dennis. He announced that he’s now medically cleared to wrestle, which was the provision Mark Andrews gave him for his return. Dennis was pissed about Andrews being on vacation and that fans think the match happens at Wembley, because he wants it sooner. It awesomely ended with Eddie going to merchandise to recoup losses from this wasted trip.
It’s the first match in the series for #CCK, as Kid Lykos just came back from injury. M&M have impressed, but are winless. Like the previous tag match, this followed the trend you’ve expected from these teams. #CCK showed off their “sick fucking tag moves,” and how they haven’t missed a step in their time apart. M&M brought all the heart and effort, despite being winless. It would be wild if M&M lost the entire series, only to win the Thunderbastard in the end. A Praying Mantis Bomb and Brainbuster at the same time got #CCK their first two points in 12:50. A fine tag team match, with both teams playing their roles well.
We were supposed to get Natural Progression Series Finals next, but Travis Banks and TK Cooper came out instead. Banks chastised the fans for not showing the same support for him here that they did in the Royal Albert Hall. He knew that the winner of the series gets a title shot, so he wanted his match on now so there would be no cash in.
Mambo earned this title shot by winning the PROGRESS World Cup. Unfortunately, I was too pressed for time to catch that show, like the “Live at the Dome” events. I wish I could. TK went to the back before this officially began, as he’s Banks’ partner but also has a web series with Mambo, so he wasn’t picking sides. I thought that was cool. Banks seemed annoyed with how well Mambo was doing early. It’s as if he took this title defense lightly, which is understandable after facing the likes of WALTER. He turned the tide when the match went outside, but Mambo fought back and picked up some near falls inside. After some of Mambo’s best shots, Banks hit a Kiwi Krusher that got him a near fall. Then, we got a ref bump. TK showed up with a chair and chose to hit Mambo to no one’s surprise, but Chuck still kicked out. Mambo still nearly won with a Frog Splash, only for TK to pull the referee out. In the end, Banks stomped on Mambo’s head over and over, before another Kiwi Krusher ended things in 20:14. This went too long. It was going fine and could’ve ended on a high note, but we got the TK interference and it just reached overkill levels.
I feel like this tournament has gone on forever. Like, it may have even started back in 2017. Anyway, this was a hard hitting main event. The advantage Ridgeway had was taking things to the mat. Ridgeway likes to strike, but Davis is just a BIG BOI, so he found himself in serious trouble. He began throwing kicks to make up for the losses he was taking from forearms and chops. After taking a beating for a while, Ridgeway seemed to snap a bit. The fight moved outside where he threw headbutts and a double stomp onto a chair. Davis was so strong, Ridgeway had to change his plan and go out of his comfort zone. He went the route people have gone against WALTER, attacking the hand to take away Davis’ chopping power. A wild series of kicks brought Ridgeway close. However, Davis countered a piledriver into his own Close Your Eyes pullup piledriver. He rolled over into a second and got the win in 18:00. A very good main event and the best match of the tournament, so it was a fitting finale. Davis continued to be great, while Ridgeway had his best showing so far. Davis made Ridgeway try new things and while some of it worked, Davis was just too much for him.
Overall: I feel like I give so many PROGRESS shows this score. This year, this has been their bread and butter. Good shows that usually don’t tip the scales towards bad or outstanding. There are two standout matches (Devlin/Ospreay and Davis/Ridgeway), with a lackluster World Title match and a bunch of solid stuff surrounding it all.