Hello, one and all! Welcome back to The PROGRESS Prerogative; the weekly column that reviews each Chapter from PROGRESS’s history in chronological order. This week we’re hitting double figures for Chapter 10: Glory Follows Virtue As If It Were Its Shadow. Let’s get right to it, people!
Chapter 10: Glory Follows Virtue As If It Were Its Shadow, Sunday, November 24th, 2013, The Garage, Islington, UK
Tommy End vs Mikey Whiplash
Mikey Whiplash makes his PROGRESS debut in the opening contest against Tommy End. Whiplash is someone who is mainly known for his tenure in ICW these days, and he’s an excellent grappler. Lovely to see him make the first appearance here against the similar in stature End. The two chaps are quite evenly matched and prove to be a nice pairing for an all-babyface match.
Lots of intricate technical wrestling on display as the match begins, as each man tries to one-up the other on the mat. They tie one another in knots as the gentlemen’s competition begins, and indeed the gentle, yet stiff, style is par for the course in this one. The Ultras are engaged throughout, as was your trusted reviewer, as The Antihero Tommy End eventually took the win. The Dutchman hits a Coup De Gras to take the pin, followed by handshakes completely in spirit with the match. A very nice start to the Chapter.
Project Ego vs Grado & Madman Manson – Tag Team Title Tournament
PROGRESS’s mission to pit Martin Kirby and Kris Travis against the most humorous tag teams continues next as they face Grado and Madman Manson. It is also the first match in a tournament to crown inaugural PROGRESS tag team champions. Huzzah!
This is sure to be Jim Cornette’s favorite wrestling match of all time considering the choice spots it features. Manson and Kirby engage in a hilarious slow-motion sequence, complete with flicking the Vs a la Rik Mayall. Manson gets the best of that one and proceeds to boot Martin Kirby in the back, and then slap his thigh a good five seconds after. Slice of fried gold right there. A conga line involving both teams, referee Chris Roberts, Jim Smallman, Glen Joseph, and others leads to the finish. Kris Travis nails a low blow on Madman Manson and Kirby takes the pin to advance to round two. Your mileage may vary on comedy wrestling like this, but I loved it.
Doug Williams vs Nathan Cruz
Screw Indy Wrestling is a very odd faction. Two of their members, Nathan Cruz and Mark Haskins, are ineffective losers who never win a match. Their third member, Rampage Brown, is the PROGRESS champion. I don’t really get them, tbh, and I can’t wait for Regression to get fully rolling because SIW isn’t really working. Doug Williams faces his third and final member of the stable after beating Haskins and losing to Rampage.
Williams and Cruz actually craft something of a slow-burn classic here; the type of old school match that Cody Rhodes excels at in AEW. Cruz takes the majority of the offense, grinding the larger veteran down wear down holds, and generally getting a lot of the heat. Our Doug plays his part superbly as the babyface in peril, teetering on the precipice of loss without ever quite falling off. The finish comes when Williams nails his Chaos Theory suplex for the three count, and SIW continues their mediocre streak.
Adam Cole vs Mark Haskins
The next Screw Indy Wrestling member up is Mark Haskins as he opposes a debuting Adam Cole ((obligatory) bay bay)). The Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Ring of Honor champion makes his way out, sans belts, to a heroes reception and is appropriately billed as the greatest indy wrestler in the world. An excellent bit of scene-setting there.
The match itself is very good, taking in a bit of the old walk and brawl through the crowd before settling in the ring. It’s nice to Haskins get to show a bit more of what he’s made of here. I’m not so sure that he has been showcased particularly well in his prior appearances for PROGRESS, so this is progress for him. It’s Cole, however, who is the star of this particular show – bringing the sizzle to the steak of the match. The Panama City native takes the win following a brainbuster to the knee. See what I mean about Screw Indy Wrestling? They’re such an odd team.
Bhangra Knights vs London Riots – Tag Team Title Tournament
Interesting scenes at the start of this one. Jim Smallman asks the crowd, if they are so inclined, to turn their backs on the London Riots as they make their entrance. They are afforded no entrance music, and the majority do turn their backs on them. This comes on the heels of the Riots’ and Jimmy Havoc’s attack on Jim at Chapter 9. There’s already electricity in the air surrounding the angle, and it’s not even really started yet. I love it.
Darrell Allen and RJ Singh are there, at this point, to simply further the big angle. They are a team that the crowd likes, but they are the garnish on the side of the plate. The purpose of this one is solely to get more heat on the Riots and by extension Regression. And it works as the Ultras barrack them with abuse throughout the short match. The finish is quite abrupt as the guys brawl on the outside for way too long, and a double count-out is declared. An odd finish for PROGRESS and one that goes down like a lead balloon. This match is neither more of an angle than anything and as such is neither good nor bad at Glory Follows Virtue As If It Were Its Shadow.
Stixx vs Rampage Brown – PROGRESS Championship
Rampage Brown defends the PROGRESS title against Stixx next. Stixx is the number one contender by virtue of having beaten both Mark Haskins and Nathan Cruz at the previous two chapters. Screw Indy Wrestling, man! They are proper lame, apart from the fact that they have the company’s title. My head is spinning.
The two big men have the sort of match you would expect from them. Lots of power moves, interspersed with the occasional walk and brawl into the crowd. A memorable sequence has Brown back bodydrop the challenger up on the stage, nearly crashing into several crowd members. That was a lawsuit waiting to happen which was thankfully avoided. Lots of back and forth between the two men culminates in a big piledriver from Brown to score the pin and retain the title. A good big man match here, the type that Rampage is so good at and continues to deliver to this day. at Glory Follows Virtue As If It Were Its Shadow
Mark Andrews vs Paul Robinson – Natural Progression Series Final
The final of the first Natural Progression Series sees Mark Andrews competing with Paul Robinson. To quote one fan in the crowd before the match starts, “This is going to be f—ing good!” Prophetic words there, indeed, as the match is indeed very f—ing good.
It really runs the gamut of styles as Mr. Wrestling and Mandrews show what they’re both capable of. The match begins with a nice demonstration of mat work by both. Counters, reversals, cravats, leg laces – there’s a nice steady pace to opening minutes. This then gives way to the lucha libre style moves that are more associated with the pair. Robbo nails a stunning tilt-a-whirl headscissors, Mandrews hits back with a somersault plancha. It really is breathtaking stuff, and the crowd is hooked from start to finish. Robinson undoes himself at the end, going for one top rope move too many. Andrews leaps up to the top and hits, essentially, a Spanish Fly for the win and the NPS trophy!
But that’s not all…
As the Natural Progression Series winner, Andrews can pick any man eliminated from the tournament to be entered into NPS2. To the delight of the Ultras, he chooses Will Ospreay; the man he beat in a loser leaves PROGRESS match a few Chapters back. Defend Indy Wrestling teammate Eddie Dennis doesn’t seem overly thrilled on the outside. That one will percolate for a good four years in a great slow-burn storyline.
But that’s not all…
Mark Andrews declares he is taking his NPS winners’ title shot right now!
Mark Andrews vs Rampage Brown – PROGRESS Championship
Andrews gets this one off to a flying start as he hits Brown with a plancha as he showboats outside the ring. His advantage doesn’t last long, however, as the much larger champion begins to dominate with pure power. Before long (and the whole match is literally about three minutes) Mandrews get the win with the 24/7 Title special – the surprise roll-up. Mark Andrews is the new PROGRESS Champion, and the crowd goes wild.
But that’s not all…
Jimmy Havoc and The London Riots hit the ring and start kicking the hell out of Andrews and Eddie Dennis as they celebrate the win. Jim Smallman scarpers through the crowd and chaos ensues. Havoc tells Smallman that he has a contract in his pocket for a match against any opponent he chooses at any time he chooses. Smallman says he can take him to court if he likes, he won’t honor it. This only prompts Jimmy to smash a prone Mandrews with his red steel chair, and threaten to set the new champion on fire! Jim Smallman is left with no option but to grant him the match. Jimmy tells Jim that he wants him to be the one who counts the pinfall when he wins. Havoc takes out referee Chris Roberts with a Death Valley Driver to again leave Smallman no choice. This is great stuff; absolutely incendiary.
Mark Andrews vs Jimmy Havoc – PROGRESS Championship
Mark Andrews gets his shoulder up for the initial pin attempt for the pop of the show. That’s his only kick out of the shortest match of the night as Jimmy hits him with some more chair shots and a teabag driver for the win and PROGRESS Championship. What an absolutely mad end to the show that felt genuinely chaotic and violent for Glory Follows Virtue As If It Were Its Shadow.
We’re now in the Regression era of PROGRESS, and the shows are going to start getting very, very dark. Not to diminish the first ten shows, but this is where PROGRESS properly hits its stride.
That’s all. Don’t look so sad, though. The Prerogative will return next week for Chapter 11!