We’re back with the PROGRESS Prerogative! This is the weekly column that looks back at each of PROGRESS’s main chapters in turn and lets you know what we thought. We’ve got a big one for you this week as Chapter 27 features a TLC match and a Thunderbastard. For those who don’t remember, a Thunderbastard is the match where combatants enter at two-minute intervals. Eliminations are by pinfall or submission only. The first two iterations were absolutely excellent, so let’s dig in and see how the third offering is.
Incidentally, this is the company’s fourth anniversary show, hence why the card is crammed with as many wrestlers as possible. It really does seem fitting to get everyone on the card who help bring PROGRESS to the dance. Jim Smallman also announces that at the next show in April they will host two qualifiers for WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic. That got a booming ovation at the time… Also announced to culminate at the Brixton show in September – the Atlas Title has been created. Wrestlers weighing over 205 lbs are eligible to enter and the tournament will commence in two weeks in Manchester.
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 27: The Lost Art Of Suffering. March 27th, 2016. The Electric Ballroom, Camden, UK.
Pastor William Eaver vs Damian Dunne – Natural Progression Series Semi Final
Pastor William Eaver and Damian Dunne duke it out for the honor of being the first finalist of NPS3. This has all the makings of a great way to start the show as both men are young, hungry and chock full of talent. Indeed, we see a great showcase match between the two as they each get healthy runs of offense in on the other. A lot of Eaver’s flurries seem to be setting up for a Clothesline From Heaven, which the crowd pop for big time.
Dunne concentrates a lot of his attack on taking the bigger man off his feet. His goal is to attempt to keep him down. Both strategies make psychological sense and mask some of the greenness that both fellas had at this stage of their careers. They wrestle for nearly fifteen minutes and it just flies by. Eaver gets the win, and a spot in the final, following the Last Supper (Razor’s Edge) and a Clothesline From Heaven. Great start to the show!
Jack Gallagher vs Johnny Kidd
Johnny Kidd is a wrestler who may have been more familiar to your parents or perhaps grandparents. A star on ITV’s World of Sport before its cancellation in the late 80s, his technical style of wrestling is a perfect match for Jack Gallagher. This is grappling in the absolute purest sense as we see plenty of chain wrestling and only one strike from both men during the course of the match. The structure essentially follows a repeating pattern of one man grounding the other and the groundee attempting to escape being tied in knots. There are some beautiful variations on the Indian Deathlock used by both. It appears genuinely painful to this writer’s eyes. Wisely, it’s the younger man in Gallagher who picks up the win as he rolls Kidd up jack knife-style for the pin. A respectful standing ovation for Kidd follows the decision.
Roy Johnson’s Wasteman Challenge
The Wasteman Challenge has become somewhat of a tradition in PROGRESS, usually taking place at Super Strong Style 16. The last edition took place at Chapter 100 in December 2019 and it was an absolute classic. It’s essentially a rap battle hosted by Roy Johnson with multiple competitors all spitting rhymes. It always results in a subsequent match.
For this very first edition, the only challenger who throws his metaphorical hat into the ring is Dave Mastiff. He doesn’t even rap, for shame. Instead, when it’s his turn, he attacks Big Wavy using the microphone as a weapon and gains an unfair advantage. The big man from The Origin dominates the majority of the match, battering the rookie from pillar to post. Although Johnson gets a few licks in, he’s no real match for The Bastard and eats the pin following a cannonball in the corner. Entertaining, but the Wasteman Challenge will hit greater heights than this.
Sumerian Death Squad vs London Riots – TLC/Losers Disband Match
The issue between the Sumerian Death Squad and the London Riots has been building for months now. They have fought alongside one another, and against one another in singles and tag matches. This is the end of all that as the losers must never tag together again after their TLC match. There are a few important points to be raised when discussing this match.
SDS make their entrance with some sweet (or lame, I can’t quite decide) white face paint with blood dripping from their mouths. It’s a match of absolute mayhem as you would expect, and Rob Lynch’s back must have been in agony as a result. He gets dropped from great heights squarely onto ladders several times over, and it looks really bloody painful. The tables break extremely easily when they try to set Michael Dante up on one to take a splash (unusual for PROGRESS, they usually make them dangerously hard to break). And finally, the ladder used to grab the clipboard above the ring is absolute bollocks.
Deary, deary me. James Davis struggles to ascend the ladder which is essentially one entirely vertical piece attached to another piece that I’d say sits at around 30 degrees. Both referees and Rob Lynch just about manage to hold the knackered ladder steady enough for him. Madness. Nevertheless, make it to the top he does to claim the contract (?) that says they can remain a tag team in PROGRESS. Tommy End makes his feelings known towards the ladder following the finish with an Austin-esque hand gesture. SDS then endorse the Riots and they hug it out before the crowd give all four a standing ovation. This was a nice match in terms of spectacle, but the hardware seriously let them down.
Tommaso Ciampa & Zack Sabre Jr vs The Origin – Tag Team Title Match
Nathan Cruz and El Ligero defend the PROGRESS tag team titles against Zack Sabre Jr and Tommaso Ciampa in the semi main event. Sabre and Ciampa are very familiar to one another having traded wins over the last year or so. The match here is a real slow burn and isn’t in any rush to create fireworks. So, very much in Zack Sabre Jr’s style of match – which as we all know is the best style of match.
The faces control the early going before losing ground to the champions, and then we get some great back and forth. ZSJ and Ciampa gel into quite an impressive unit, even combining Project Ciampa and the PK into a sweet tag finishing move. That doesn’t manage to get the job done, but the finishing sequence isn’t too far behind that near fall. Sabre motions Ciampa to climb up to the top rope and he will lift Ligs up for a Super Project Ciampa. Instead, Nathan Cruz distracts the referee whilst Ligero hits a low blow on ZSJ and rolls him up for the pin.
Following The Origin’s departure, Ciampa is irate and pie faces his tag partner. Psycho Killer winds up smashing Sabre with unprotected knee shots to the head and challenges him to a match at the Brixton show in September. Actually no; he DEMANDS IT!!! ZSJ accepts and we have the first match scheduled for Chapter 36. Great match with a super hot angle as the cherry on top of the cake. Lovely.
Marty Scurll (c) vs Will Ospreay vs Paul Robinson vs Rampage Brown vs Zack Gibson vs Mark Andrews vs Flash Morgan Webster vs Mark Haskins vs Eddie Dennis – Thunderbastard PROGRESS Title Match
Mark Haskins and Paul Robinson are the first two out for the Thunderbastard main event. They exchange stiff strikes for two minutes until the next man enters the fray: it’s Zack Gibson. Liverpool’s Number One gets immediately trapped in a Sharpshooter by Haskins only to be inexplicably saved by Robbo. Why you would save anyone in an elimination match is beyond me. The heels put the boots to Haskins until we get the countdown: the next entrant is Will Ospreay!
The Swords of Essex briefly reform as Ospreay and Robinson team up to smash Haskins with double team moves. They’re fighting one another soon enough, as the next combatant enters: it’s Mark Andrews. He sets about taking everyone out the ring with high flying maneuvers until it’s just him and Gibson left. Gibson gets the upper hand and locks in the Shankly Gates until the countdown begins: it’s Mandrews’ FSU teammate Eddie Dennis.
The Welshman takes Gibson out of action and tussles with Ospreay and Robinson. He gives them a wicked suplex/fallaway slam from the top before: Flash Morgan Webster enters. He initiates multiple dives to the outside which culminates in Ospreay hitting a shooting star from the top rope to the floor. Only Robinson remains in the ring, and he must face the next entrant: Rampage Brown. The big man absolutely decimates everybody. He smashes Ospreay with three deadlift powerbombs and then launches him over the top rope. Rampage stands in the ring staring at the entrance ramp in anticipation of the final entrant: PROGRESS champion Marty Scurll.
Scurll, however, elects not to enter the ring, but to sit at the commentary desk alongside RJ Singh. What a Villain! As Brown and Scurll jawjack, Robinson tries to attack the big man from behind. Rampage catches him however and buries him with a piledriver. Zack Gibson throws Brown out and then covers Robbo for the first elimination. Instantly, Dave Mastiff runs in and takes Rampage out for his Origin partner. Eddie Dennis goes for Gibson but gets caught in the Shankly Gates and is forced to tap out.
His teammate Mark Andrews follows quickly as a Mastiff distraction allows Gibson to counter a shooting star to pin the Welshman. At this point, referee Chris Roberts ejects Mastiff from ringside; Marty Scurll remains on commentary, however. Ospreay and Flash trade some excellent near falls, but it’s Webster who comes out on top. He goes to the top rope and tries for a 450 but Gibson pulls Will out of the way. He slaps the Shankly Gates on Flash for yet another elimination! Yowza! Rampage, Haskins and Gibson go back and forth until only the first two men are left standing (Ospreay lays prone in the corner). Surprisingly, it’s Haskins who comes out on top, dropping Rampage with a crunching Death Valley Driver for the pin. At that point, Marty Scurll runs to the ring to pounce on Haskins from behind.
The Villain clamps the Chicken Wing onto Haskins instantly and gets the tapout. We’re in triple threat territory now as the remaining wrestlers are Marty Scurll, Will Ospreay and Zack Gibson. Gibson takes a backseat for the time being as Scurll and Ospreay go full pelt at one another. They trade each other’s moves back and forth and get several near falls. The crowd is reaching an absolute fever pitch and the heat is immense. Gibson runs back into the ring but gets caught by Will with a Spanish Fly, and then there were two. As Jim Smallman announces that Gibson has been eliminated Scurll sneaks a rollup on Ospreay for the three count and retains his title! What a bloody brilliant match!
That was a fantastic show, the best for some time actually. And that just about wraps things up for another week. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the column and we’ll see you back here next time. If you’d like to follow me on Twitter you can do so @JesusofGazareth Until next time, be good to one another.