Hello one and all, and welcome back to the PROGRESS Prerogative. This is the column where we review each of PROGRESS Wrestling’s Chapters in chronological order. Last time we saw the debut of Prince Devitt, nowadays going by the name Finn Balor, and we have a big debut at Chapter 14: Thunderbastard, also. Yes, Samoa Joe is in the house for a hoss battle against Rampage Brown!
The show is named after a new match concept, essentially with Royal Rumble rules. That is that a new competitor enters the action every two minutes until all eight men have made their way out. Eliminations occur by pinfall or submission, however, unlike WWE’s more famous counterpart. Let’s get to it already!!! This is Thunderbastard!
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 14: Thunderbastard, Sunday, July 27th, 2014, The Electric Ballroom, Camden, UK.
Thunderbastard Match: Darrell Allen vs Will Ospreay vs Stixx vs Danny Garnell vs Paul Robinson vs Wild Boar Mike Hitchman vs Marty Scurll vs Joey Lakeside
We’re kicking off with the Thunderbastard match, and the good news is that PROGRESS has uploaded it to YouTube! Have a squiz up above. The talent featured is a bit of a mixed bag, let’s be honest. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as each man brings a different skillset to bounce off the others.
The first man eliminated is Paul Robinson as he nails former partner Will Ospreay in the cajones. We’ll have to wait to see them face-off, clearly. Darrell Allen is very unfortunate next, as he sustains a suspected concussion and is unable to continue. It’s never nice to see any kind of injury, let alone a head injury. The first proper elimination sees Danny Garnell take out Joey Lakeside with a beautiful Northern Light suplex. Stixx then hits a sidewalk slam on Garnell for the elimination. Wild Boar removes Stixx from the equation with a package piledriver. I think I’m beginning to see a pattern here. Marty Scurll then forces Wild Boar to tap to a chicken wing. It’s interesting to see the pieces of the Villain character slowly being pulled together, incidentally. Scurll made his entrance complete with a fur coat and tinted spectacles but isn’t quite a full-on Villain just yet.
Finally, after an excellent bit of back and forth, Will Ospreay counters Scurll’s La Magistral attempt into a pin. We have our first Thunderbastard in Ospreay, and he has a title match at a time of his choosing. The eliminations were perhaps a bit too fast and furious for my liking, but overall a nice match up.
Madman Manson vs Michael Gilbert
And now for something completely different at Thunderbastard. Madman Manson’s open challenge is answered by Michael Gilbert in the next contest. Two odder bedfellows you’d be hard-pressed to find. Manson with his comedy selling of being in pain from his opponent’s offense, and Gilberts’s no gimmick needed serious approach.
There isn’t a great amount to this match, really. Manson extracts the urine from Gilbert by saying he’s so serious he hasn’t got entrance music or knee pads. Gilbert looks annoyed. Gilbert works over the Irishman for the majority of the match before making him tap out to an STF. As I said, there isn’t much to it, but it is still an amusing showdown.
Martin Kirby vs Mark Haskins
At least Mark Haskins is still pursuing the Screw Indy Wrestling gimmick, unlike the gent who will be in the show’s main event. He does his usual routine of refusing to be announced by Jim Smallman, but before he can introduce himself Kirby attacks. I’ve always enjoyed the somewhat heelish elements that Project Ego (along with Kris Travis) bring to the table.
Martin Kirby makes a good account for himself here, staying on top of the offensive output for most of the match. It’s hard to believe that Haskins will be a firm crowd favorite in just a couple of years’ time watching this. The crowd barrack him, and it seems to get to him as there are a few botches in the match. That carries through to the finish as Haskins counters a pin attempt by Kirby into a sloppy pin with the feet on the ropes. Not great, to be honest.
FSU vs London Riots – Tag Team Title Match
Straight away, Regression gains the upper hand against FSU as they make their entrance at Thunderbastard. Jimmy Havoc and Paul Robinson attack them from behind and throw them to the mercy of the London Riots. Instantly, the Riots hit Mandrews with the District Line for a very-near fall. This is an incredibly hot start.
The Riots are undefeated in PROGRESS to date, and it looks like their streak will remain unbroken at Chapter 14. There are some huge spots during this one: Eddie takes each of the Riots up into huge Boss Man slams; a Next Stop Driver to Rob Lynch; and a shooting star press by Mandrews from the top rope to the floor. That last one is a bit of a scary moment as the Welshman overshoots his opponents land hard on the floor, busting his forehead open.
Still, the tag champs won’t give in, and the Ultras are well and truly in their corner. I can’t overemphasize just how popular FSU was in the early days. It’s hair-raising stuff hearing the crowd reactions to them. No reaction is louder than when Mandrews gets when he pins Lynch with a hurricanrana for the win. Andrew W.K’s Party Hard blasts out as the crowd lift Mandrews up onto their shoulders jubilantly.
I bloody love FSU.
Pastor William Eaver vs Ali Armstrong vs Chuck Mambo – Natural Progression Series
Some Chapter debuts up next, in a three-way Natural Progression Series match. Chuck Mambo, Pastor Williams Eaver, and Ali Armstrong face off in a spirited encounter that firmly establishes them in the minds of everyone watching. Three graduates of PROGRESS’s own training school (the ProJo) no less.
The match is fast-paced with nary a rest hold insight. All three gents get the chance to get their spots in. Pastor hits Popish Hammers; Mambo nails some lucha; and Armstrong hits some big suplexes on both men. Spot of the card goes to Eaver throwing Mambo over the top rope to the ring crew on the floor. He does so with a Razor’s Edge which has been redubbed Jesus Wept. Yowza. After a tidy little contest, Armstrong gets the pin on Eaver with a nice German suplex. All three gave a very good account for themselves.
Noam Dar vs Jimmy Havoc – PROGRESS Championship Match
The latest chapter of Jimmy Havoc’s reign of terror unfolds, as the leader of Regression faces off against Noam Dar. This one is for the PROGRESS championship staff, and the Ultras are very firmly behind Dar. Surprisingly, the match starts out on the mat as the Scotsman grounds the champion with front face locks and cravats. Havoc returns fire and has a turn at grounding Dar with a series of headlocks.
Things pick up exponentially from there are the two brawl out into the crowd. Tremendous heat for Havoc as always; this is not a friendly crowd for the King of the Goths. A novel spot sees Dar open the fire exits at the rear of the Ballroom and execute a running plancha from the raised area onto Havoc and the ring crew. I believe that’s a first for that sort of spot in PROGRESS.
Back in the ring, Dar accidentally takes out referee Chris Roberts by launching Jimmy into him. Dar then gets a visual tap out from Havoc with the Champagne Super Kneebar whilst Roberts is out cold. D’oh! Jim Smallman gets in the ring to count at Havoc’s behest after an Acid Rainmaker, but it’s only a two count. The finish comes when Havoc does the old Bret Hart – Roddy Piper finish from WrestleMania VIII for the win. That was a very good match.
There’s a bit of afters as Noam Dar attacks Jimmy, but is overwhelmed when the three Regression lads run in for a beat down. He’s rescued by FSU to set up an eight-man tag for Chapter 15 (along with Will Ospreay).
Rampage Brown vs Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe makes his way out to a huge reaction as he faces off with PROGRESS stalwart Rampage Brown. It truly is an awesome sight to see a wrestler like Joe inside the intimate confines of the Electric Ballroom. He’s a man with a huge presence, and the fact that he’s taking on Rampage feels genuinely special.
The match is as you might expect from these two big lads wrestling. They absolutely knock lumps out of one another, connecting with clubbing forearms, clotheslines, and stiff kicks. The crowd is really split as to who they would rather see come out on top, too. Rampage has become a firm favorite since exiting Screw Indy Wrestling, and of course, Joe is over like Rover.
The finish is a bit different. Joe hits Brown with a textbook Muscle Buster, but the bruiser from Compton (Leeds) surprises everyone by kicking out. Huge pop for that one. Joe then finishes off Rampage with what one could generously call a lariat, but is really just a running clothesline. A very odd, slightly flat finish to a real spectacle of a match then. Joe puts over Brown on the mic to close out the show.
A pretty good show all in all, but the undercard felt a touch random to me at Thunderbastard. Perhaps that’s just the distance that I have from viewing it five years after the fact, however. That’s all from me for this edition, but I shall return for Chapter 15.
Ta ra for now, chucks.