On Sunday, July 28th, PROGRESS returns home to the Electric Ballroom in Camden for their 93rd full Chapter, Cheer Up Juice. The company is in an interesting place right now. A section of the hardcore fanbase (the Ultras) seem to have moved on from the company.
This could be attributed to one of a few different developments. Firstly, the company’s close association with WWE has undermined its punk rock, underground presentation. Secondly, the men’s and women’s championships rarely appear on shows. I can’t remember the last time I saw Jordynne Grace wrestle in a PROGRESS ring. And finally, a lot of the biggest names of the recent boom period have all moved on (to WWE or elsewhere). Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate, Jimmy Havoc, Toni Storm, Grizzled Young Veterans – that’s a killer’s row of talent to lose.
As the company builds towards its biggest show of the year, it will be interesting to see if any new names are brought in. More than ever the company is using imported talent to bolster its ranks. This is reflected in a fair few of the matches scheduled for Chapter 93. And so, without any further ado, let’s have a look at what PROGRESS have lined up for their next show, Cheer Up Juice.
CCK vs South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper and Niwa)
Jonathan Gresham and Chris Brookes rightly have a reputation for having killer matches against a wide variety of opponents. With the prospect of a final encounter with LAX (not to mention Eddie Kingston) on the horizon, CCK could do with a high-profile win such as this. Particularly since Kid Lykos was forced to retire, OG CCK has been on an absolute tear in-ring, whilst still lacking any real direction in the company.
The same can be said for the South Pacific Power Trip, however. Despite a hint of dissension with teammate Travis Banks, Niwa and Cooper appear to be together for the long haul. A win here would certainly add plenty of stock to their name, as CCK would be a big scalp to take.
Plenty of sick f’ing tag moves will be on display, with both teams adept on the mat and in the air. Hopefully, this one will have some consequences going forward, for both winners and losers. If I had my druthers, I’d like to see CCK turn heel and have a decent run with the belts. Perhaps Brookes and Gresham’s Schadenfreude stable from Fight Club Pro could make an appearance. Unlikely, as PROGRESS prefer to be leaders in these matters rather than followers at Cheer Up Juice. We can dream though, eh? These two lads are stars and should be the ones going over.
Paul Robinson vs Lucky Kid
Robinson is an unsung hero of the British wrestling scene, just starting to get his due now. Toiling in PROGRESS for many a year as Jimmy Havoc’s underling, Robbo is on the run of his career. Following a year’s hiatus from PROGRESS due to a medical condition, Robinson returned to face Havoc at last year’s Wembley show.
Although he lost, that old magic was certainly there. The small-man viciousness that was always his hallmark was back with a vengeance. Trading his former high-flying repertoire for a hardcore, brawling style, Robinson is 100% committed to his vicious character. He’s since claimed big wins over the likes of Chris Ridgeway, Primate, Connor Mills et al and angered many a fan by swearing loudly in their face. A meeting with Walter beckons at the upcoming show in Toronto. Oof!
Lucky Kid has acted as more of a utility player since he began wrestling more regularly in Blighty. Since winning wXw’s 16 Carat Gold tournament, Kid has seen his stock rise and become much in demand. Having a unique, unhinged character and offense that matches has helped him stand out from the crowd. The Indy scene occasionally suffers in this regard when it comes to characters.
Nevertheless, Robinson is the man on a roll, and I just don’t see Lucky Kid claiming a scalp this big at this point.
Travis Banks vs Ricky Shane Page
‘Kiwi Buzzsaw’ Travis Banks is a man who appears to be teetering on the verge of a face turn. As noted earlier, he had a bit of a disagreement with his South Pacific teammates at Chapter 91. Trav has always been equally adept on either side of the face/heel fence. I can’t help but think that he’s heading back to the side of the angels. He can really add a lot to a depleted main event scene.
Hardcore icon RSP continues his extended tour of the UK to perhaps show what he can do without the weapons. Although famed for his bloody, extras-laden matches, Page – like his contemporary Jimmy Havoc – is a very capable grappler in the pure sense. Saying that Banks is unafraid to go hardcore when necessary, so who knows which route the match will take. Perhaps we will get six of one, half a dozen of the other.
You’ve got to think, however, that there’s only one logical winner in this one. Travis Banks is a man the crowd turned on quite abruptly during his World title reign of 2017-18. Yes, his proclivity for kicking out of big moves at the ref’s count of 1 could grate. But he was and remains a fantastic professional wrestler and personality. A move back to the main event scene, or perhaps towards the recently announced Proteus title could yield some great matches. Banks’ sense of humor could yield some excellent stipulations if he were defending the promotion’s newest championship. The Kiwi for the win, then.
Aussie Open open title challenge
PROGRESS produced a fairly lengthy promo package to announce this one. You would have to assume that they have a big-name team lined up as a result. The last time Aussie Open was challenged by a newly reformed Swords of Essex (Will Ospreay and Paul Robinson). That was a bit of a shocker, so perhaps PROGRESS wants to one-up themselves here.
The name that leapt to mind when the open challenge was issued was The Dark Order. Despite their relationship with WWE, PROGRESS has never been shy about working with talent outside of New York’s purview. The teams are scheduled to cross paths during August on PROGRESS’ show in Toronto, so perhaps an opening salvo is in order here. No pun intended. (See update below for more details!)
Having lost the Rev Pro tag titles in the last month, the Aussies should retain here regardless of who challenges them. Historically, the two company’s don’t put belts on the same acts at the same time. Besides, now would not be an advantageous time to be switching titles with bigger shows on the horizon. I think the company, rightly, sees a lot in them and has a plan in place for September. Three-way with CCK and LAX, anybody?
The show will also feature The OJMO vs Shigehiro Irie, Yuu vs Dani Luna vs Jody Threat vs Gisele Shaw, and Do Not Resuscitate vs The NIC. It’s a show, again, featuring a fair amount of imported talent and debuts. Yet it also hosts potential big stars of the BritWres scene like Spike Trivet and The OJMO.
Three out of the company’s four title belts being MIA isn’t necessarily a negative in and of itself. The women’s title, in particular needs, to be attached to someone who can perform more regularly. The division is absolutely rudderless at the moment. The fact that Walter doesn’t feature on every single show adds to his character. It gives him that air of superiority that Brock Lesnar projects, which is no bad thing. Hopefully, following the introduction of the Proteus Championship, a singles title will always be present on each Chapter.
So, all in all, PROGRESS Wrestling’s Cheer Up Juice should do exactly what it says on the tin. We’re having a typical British summer over here so far (read: rainy), and a good dose of strong style wrestling should be just the tonic.
Shortly after writing, Grizzled Young Veterans answered Aussie Open’s open challenge! Welcome back fellas! As seen on 22/07: