Arnold Furious: May 14 2017. We’re in Manchester at the 02 Ritz for Chapter 48. Manchester has become a hot venue for Progress and the last chapter show there was a scorcher. Host in the ring is Jim Smallman, who says if he ever wears a suit to Progress they’re allowed to chant “who’s that prick?” at him. Audience member Carl is on a stag do on the balcony and he’s dressed as Hulk Hogan drawing a “you f*ck*d up” chant. He’s accompanied by Sting, IRS, British Bulldogs and a really lazy Steve Austin impersonator. Commentary comes from Glen Joseph and Callum Leslie. Not a surname amongst them.
James Drake vs. Flash Morgan Webster
Winner gets into Super Strong Style. Drake has never lost in Progress, oddly enough, so Flash has an uphill struggle. Especially after they make a hash of the first spot in the ring. When you kick off your match with a mistake it’s usually trouble. Drake is pretty good at slowing things down and being calm and composed. He shows that again here. Flash has been decent since he came back from injury.
The crowd are unrelenting in their assault upon James Drake and his tights. Manchester crowds are fairly witty on the whole. The action in the ring is quick and it’s a worthy opener. Drake’s matches, before this point, had been a bit samey with him grinding at some people’s nerves. He was described as the “personification of a piss break”. However that’s not true here. He wrestles at a decent canter and matches Flash move for move. Webster pulls the big win out with Destino and Drake suffers his first loss in Progress in the process. Probably Drake’s best match in a Progress ring. Another in a string of good matches from Flash since his comeback.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Jinny vs. Martina
I find it funny that Jinny’s entrance music has gone as part of the copyrighted music cull. It reduces her to an unfashionable generic knock-off piece of music. Like she bought new entrance music at Primark. Jinny gets enraged by a shower of glow sticks before the match starts. Nobody has that “I f*ck*ng hate you all” face like Jinny. Martina gives her a can of Carling, which goes over badly with the Tory delegate for Knightsbridge. They don’t do cans of Verve Cliquot! They run a near falls sequence during this where Martina doesn’t spill a drop from her beer. It’s incredible.
Martina’s banter involves drinking and smoking (drawing a “that’s illegal”) chant. It’s just one big sesh for Martina. Her various beer drinking related spots, including sinking a pint while doing the Tarantula, are a joy to watch. “It’s just Tajiri’s move set” says Glen. Irish Buzzsaw? The crowd chant “Jinny is a Tory” at the heel and she nods approvingly. I dig her taking that Conservative agenda to the next level. Jinny’s outrage at seeing a Tesco’s bag in Martina’s corner is incredible too. The character work in this match is wonderful. Makeover finishes for Jinny, as it should, with her being in the final of the NPS4. Martina is job-proof anyway. This was a cracking little match, demonstrating how well these two characters have been established. You can criticise Martina for her work but it’s improving and Jinny is genuinely great already.
Final Rating: ***1/4
The London Riots vs. Sweet Jesus
The Riots have had the edge taken off them recently, doing a lot of goofy stuff. They seem primed for a heel turn. Chuck Mambo’s antics are prevalent here, with lots of posing and such. Eaver is less fun, going head to head with Big Rob, with the Power of Christ, occasionally rising up. They have more joy with the dives and poor Mambo gets murdered with a District Line on the apron. Maybe Eaver is struggling to recover from his London Marathon efforts but the match seems to be lacking. It’s almost sluggish, especially considering how high the bar on Riots matches has been set beforehand. Mambo’s hot tag is a hot mess with Mambo making a string of mistakes, and moves are mis-timed one after another. They give up on tags and it’s just a mess. They’re clearly aiming for some kind of epic but it’s a misfire. The finish is neat, with a Crucifix/Blockbuster combo putting Lynch away and the Riots lost yet again.
Final Rating: **1/4
Trent Seven vs. Travis Banks
Travis is still coming out to “Keep it 100”, which makes a huge difference to his entrance compared to everyone else who’s rocking up to generic music. This is an extension of SPPT vs. Moustache Mountain. Travis hasn’t forgotten the mistreatment at BSS’s hands at the last Camden show. He’s here to take it out on Trent Seven. They’ve had great matches in Fight Club Pro and this a continuation of that. It’s a war of chops and strong style rage.
They do a solid job of re-doing bits from Fight Club Pro without making it feel like that match re-done. As a match it exists in order to make Travis Banks look like a legitimate top end singles star. If there’s a guy who’ll be happy to do that it’s Trent Seven. They have a hell of a time beating the shit out of each other. Travis is creative in his dismantling of Trent, showcasing everything in his arsenal with regard to heavy strikes. It proves to all and sundry that Travis Banks belongs at this level. Trent cheats his way to victory with a handful of tights but he did enough to put Travis over without taking the loss.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Nathan Cruz vs. Spud
This is another match where the winner enters Super Strong Style 16. I was hoping for a draw, eliminating both men, but that’s maybe a touch harsh on Nathan. After all Cruz has been with the company since the early days and sometimes he doesn’t look like an absolute jobber. He comes out to terrible generic music, which is almost as awful as Sweet Jesus’ music. Spud comes out to “Lines in the Sand”, which is fine. His entrance music was far less established though, having only wrestled a couple of times for Progress. There’s something weird about Nathan Cruz not coming out to “Turn the Page”. The match is Cruz systematically working over Spud and the little Brummie absorbing the abuse with desperation kick-outs. Nathan hits Show Stolen twice, without getting the win, but hits a reverse version of it for the pin. This made good logical sense but it was total filler. Cruz goes to SSS16 where he’ll probably lose in the first round. After the match, as Spud leaves without his music playing, the crowd sing “Living on a Prayer”. Another demonstration of how Progress is missing some banging tunes suddenly.
Final Rating: **
Tyler Bate vs. Matt Riddle
Riddle’s music is another musical casualty although his entrance is generally just hundreds of people chanting “Bro” so it’s fine. Tyler wears his UK WWE title and Progress tag strap the same way that Riddle sports his WWN and Progress Atlas straps. It’s cute. Tyler finds himself in very deep water almost immediately as Riddle takes it to the mat where he has incredible skill. Tyler, the smaller man, has to turn it into a fight, which is perhaps not the best of ideas when facing an MMA fighter. Tyler does acquit himself well considering the size and strengths of his opponent. Both these guys are relatively inexperienced but have been earmarked as two of the world’s future superstars. It’s pretty clear that Riddle will find himself in WWE eventually and Bate is already there, sort of. Given their lack of previous matches it’s a tidy contest with decent transitions and incredible pure athleticism. The near falls have Glen Joseph screeching loudly and at a high pitch.
I like that Tyler Bate lifts a WALTER spot, having come into close vicinity of his moves last month and given Riddle’s experiences with WALTER. These two put on one hell of a showcase. Riddle steps up to his opponents strength on a regular basis and Tyler is starting to enter a phrase of great matches. It’s interesting to note that Riddle has had singles matches with Trent and Tyler now. Is Pete next? Tyler gets trapped in the Bromission but Trent Seven runs in for the DQ. I loved this but the finish is very deliberately setting up something else.
Final Rating: ****
Progress World Championship
Pete Dunne (c) vs. Mark Haskins vs. Mark Andrews
This was the solution to having already run Dunne vs. Haskins and Dunne vs. Andrews. Throw both challengers in there! You know what to expect from these three by now. They’ve all familiar with each other and all very capable. The Dunne-Andrews match is perhaps a little played out by this point but putting Haskins in the middle does freshen things up. The Haskins-Andrews stuff is way better here than in Camden.
Pete is the focal point of the match though. He’s the dickhead who does all the real damage. Everyone has their moments and it’s nice to see all three men presented on an even keel. Keeping the match as a sprint is good news for the pace of the contest. It’s lively and imaginative and there’s nothing approaching a flub or rest hold (with the exception of Haskins being a second late on a superkick during one double team). Every man delivers in spades and it’s a testament to their collective love of entertaining punters.
Haskins has it won with the Star Armbar but Moustache Mountain run in to pull Chris Roberts out of the ring and save the title. This allows Pete to kick Haskins in the nuts and finish Andrews with the Pedigree. The match was great until the f*ck finish.
Final Rating: ****
Post-match: Matt Riddle runs in to attack Moustache Mountain for the earlier screw job but he’s overwhelmed by the weight of numbers causing a “Travis Banks” chant. Pete Dunne claims no one can beat him, including Riddle and Banks. He goes on to state no one is a match for British Strong Style and mysterious music kicks in…it’s #CCK! The pop is enormous and I get chills at them posing in the entranceway. Kid Lykos getting to wipe out BSS with a tope is superb stuff. He’s gotten so good over the past six months. He and Chris Brookes have earned this spot.
The huge reaction shows that Progress brought these lads in at exactly the right time. They’ve gathered momentum in the smaller Indies and Brookes is over like clover in Rev Pro tagging with Travis Banks.
Summary: Not as strong as the last Manchester show but the last two matches, finishes aside were well worthwhile, and the CCK debut was so well done.