PROGRESS Chapter 10: Glory Follows Virtue As If It Were A Shadow
Islington, London, England 11/24/13
1.) Tommy End vs. Mikey Whiplash: ***1/4
I thought this was a very solid opener. There was some good back & forth technical action, and it was entertaining to watch. End would pick up the win with a diving double stomp. Nothing much else to say here. It was fun.
2.) PROGRESS Tag Team Title Tournament - Semi-Finals - Project Ego (Kris Travis & Martin Kirby) vs. Grado & Mad Man Manson: ***1/4
This is the first match in the PROGRESS Tag Team Title Tournament. I think the idea was that they were doing four qualifying matches for a Four-Way Finals to crown the first-ever PROGRESS Tag Team Champions. I’ve seen Mad Man Manson a few times before in PCW (primary on the joint shows with PCW & ROH in 2014), but here, he’s making his PROGRESS debut. Considering who was involved, I had a feeling this would turn into a comedy match, and that’s exactly what we got. There were a ton of wacky and entertaining shots throughout. We got some slow motion spots, wimpy kicks (sounds odd, but trust me, it was funny), and Manson using a "mysterious white powder" to get fired up. The highlight of the match was long conga line that went all around the venue involving all the wrestlers in the match, the referee, Jim Smallman, and a number of fans. That was hilarious! When they eventually got back in the ring, Project Ego quickly capitalized, and Kirby rolled up Manson for the win. This was definitely one of the better comedy matches I've seen.
3.) Nathan Cruz vs. Doug Williams: ***1/4
Cruz has a random woman due his introduction. Apparently her name was Katherine Rose. Anyway, as far this match goes, I thought it was pretty solid. You can always count on Doug Williams to put on a good performance, and that's exactly what we got from him here. With regards to Nathan Cruz, based on what I've seen of him thus far, he's really not a standout performer, as far as his in-ring work is concerned, but he usually has a solid match against the right opponent. Ultimately, Doug Williams managed to pick up the victory.
4.) ROH World Champion Adam Cole vs. Mark Haskins: ***1/2
Haskins had an open challenge coming into this show. Before the match began, he talked some trash to the crowd. Jim Smallman then revealed the mystery opponent to be none other than Adam Cole who (at the time) was both the ROH World Champion & the PWG World Champion. I thought this was a really good match. There was plenty of entertaining action throughout, and they also managed to tell a good story, as Haskins worked over Cole’s arm for most of the match. The latter half was particularly exciting, as it featured some very good exchanges. In the end, Adam Cole was able to pick up the win over Haskins.
5.) PROGRESS Tag Team Title Tournament - Semi-Finals - The Bhangra Knights (Darrell Allen & RJ Singh) vs. The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch): ***1/4
This is the second match in the PROGRESS Tag Team Title Tournament. Jim Smallman tells the fans to turn their backs to The London Riots as they came out to no entrance music. Most of the fans held up middle fingers as they have their backs turned. The action throughout this one was actually very good, but unfortunately, the match got thrown out when the two teams started brawling on the outside and wouldn’t get back in the ring, resulting in a double count out. Even though neither team won, the brawl continued. The fans were understandably upset that a match in the PROGRESS Tag Team Title Tournament ended in a double count out. Jim Smallman said they can’t do anything about it now, since both teams brawled out of the building, but he said what he can do is make a Street Fight between the two teams at the 2nd Anniversary Show.
6.) PROGRESS Title - Rampage Brown vs. Stixx: ***1/2
I'm not the biggest fan of Stixx (based on what I've seen of him so far), but you have to give PROGRESS a ton of credit for building up this match. The storyline here is very logical. Stixx worked his way through the rest of Team Screw Indy Wrestling (Mark Haskins & Nathan Cruz) one by one, before eventually earning this title shot. When the dust settled, this ended up being a really good match. I would say that it was pretty close to hoss battle, as you had two bigger guys beating the crap out of each other. Beforehand, this wasn't a match that I was really looking forward to, but it ended up being better than I was expecting. Credit to both guys involved. In the end, Brown would score the victory, after hitting his signature piledriver, to retain the PROGRESS Title. I think it's very cool that they really established that piledriver as a devastating finisher for Rampage Brown. One he hits it, the match is usually over, and that was the case here.
7.) Natural Progression Series - Finals - Mark Andrews vs. Paul Robinson: ****
The winner of this match will not only be the first-ever Natural Progression Series winner, but they will also receive a future shot at the PROGRESS Title. Out of all the matches on the card, this one definitely had the most potential, and it lived up to that potential in a big way. I thought this was an awesome match. It wasn't the best match I've ever seen in PROGRESS, but it was still pretty freaking great to watch from start to finish. This was packed with so much good action, as you would've guessed. Both of these guys are so incredible, that there's no way this match wouldn't be (at the least) very good. During the match, Eddie Dennis & Will Ospreay both came out to support their respective man. Eventually, Andrews was able to finally put Robinson away to win the Natural Progression Series!! Once again, this was a great match. It was easily the Match of the Night.
The two participants shook hands after the match. Jim Smallman said that Andrews not only earned a shot at the PROGRESS Title at any time of his choosing, but also had the chance to pick someone who was eliminated from the Natural Progression Series to return for the 2nd iteration of the tournament in 2014. Andrews then took the mic. He shows respect to Robinson, and then turns to picking someone to return to the Natural Progression Series. Andrews said that he’d love to pick his partner, Eddie Dennis, but said that there’s one person that deserves it more, and it’s Will Ospreay. He accepts this invitation, and Ospreay’s return to PROGRESS was set. Smallman then asked Andrews about when he’ll take his title shot, and at the behest of the fans, Andrews decided that he wanted his title shot right now! Rampage Brown then came out with Nathan Cruz, who cut a promo making fun of Andrews for accepting this challenge now. He said that Brown would destroy him, and he went to the back so Rampage Brown could take care of business.
8.) PROGRESS Title - Rampage Brown vs. Mark Andrews: N/R
So this match was.....odd, at least in my view. Brown dominated Andrews for two minutes of so. When Andrews wouldn't stay down, he got in the referee's face. The referee then shoved Brown, and Andrews rolled him up for the pin! Mark Andrews is the new PROGRESS Champion! I really can’t rate this, as it went only two or three minutes. Honestly, I wasn't a fan of the finish. Yes, the referee shoving back spot is usually fine, but I don't recall an instance where it directly led to the finish. It made Rampage Brown look bad, and despite the big reaction it got from the crowd, it hurt the moment of Mark Andrews winning the PROGRESS Title. I'm also disappointed that this match was so short. When you consider what would happen in a few moments, it would have been better for the story if this had gone longer, and we got an actual match between the two.
Mark Andrews celebrated in the crowd with the Natural Progression Series Trophy & The PROGRESS Title staff. Andrews returned to the ring to celebrate with Eddie Dennis, but they were then interrupted by Jimmy Havoc & The London Riots. Havoc attacked Andrews with his pink steel chair while The London Riots tape Dennis to the turnbuckle. Havoc took the mic, and taunted Jim Smallman, Mark Andrews & Eddie Dennis. He then brings up the contract that Smallman signed for him, which granted him a match against any opponent with any stipulation at any time. It became pretty clear by this point that Havoc wanted to use that for a match against Andrews for the PROGRESS Title right now. Smallman initially refused, and in response, Havoc poured gasoline on Andrews, and threatened to set the new champion on fire!! He then demands that Smallman count the pin. Smallman again refused, pointing out that there’s already a referee in the ring. In response, Havoc took out the normal referee. This basically forced Smallman to get into the ring to serve as the "referee".
9.) PROGRESS Title - Mark Andrews vs. Jimmy Havoc: N/R
Smallman reluctantly went to count the pin, but Andrews kicked out! Despite taking several chair shots, Andrews was still fighting. Havoc stares down Smallman before hitting Andrews repeatedly with the pink steel chair yet again. He then hit Andrews with the Go Home Driver, and this time, Smallman counted to three, meaning that Jimmy Havoc is the new PROGRESS Champion. Havoc holds the title staff high as he celebrated with The London Riots. Before leaving, Havoc said that if anyone tried to touch him on the way out, he’d end him. He then hopes everyone has a good fucking Christmas. After they leave, Jim Smallman apologizes to everyone, and thanks them for coming out.
I thought this was pretty good show from PROGRESS, both from an in-ring standpoint and from a storyline perspective. The card was relatively strong and consistent from top to bottom. No match fell below the ***1/4 mark, yet only one match reached ****. The Natural Progression Series Finals was easily the best match on the show, but we also had a number of other really good matches, such as Adam Cole vs. Mark Haskins & Rampage Brown vs. Stixx. Of course, the end of the show was highlighted by all of the storyline stuff surrounding Jimmy Havoc on the PROGRESS Title. It had its issues, but PROGRESS (from what I've seen thus far) has done a fantastic job with their storylines, particularly surround Jimmy Havoc. He went from the lovable loser to the hated heel champion in the span of two shows, and that's really incredible. The matches themselves and the storylines involved really helped PROGRESS close out 2013 on a strong note.