Hello and welcome back to the latest edition of The PROGRESS Prerogative. This is the column that takes a retrospective look at each of PROGRESS wrestling’s shows (Chapters) in turn. This week we arrive at Chapter 33, Malice in Wonderland. The show that will feature the fallout from Pastor William Eaver successfully cashing in NPS to win the PROGRESS Championship from Marty Scurll. We also have a titanic tag team title match and Roy Johnson’s Wasteman Challenge to look forward to. The recaps are going to slightly abbreviated this week due to Birthdays and sorting out self-isolation etc. so let’s get cracking…
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 33: Malice In Wonderland. 31st July, 2016. The Electric Ballroom, Camden, UK.
Prior to the opening bell, the crowd is introduced to special guest William Regal. He enters to a booming ovation but insists that everyone ignore him as he’s just there to watch the show (ie talent scout).
Malice In Wonderland
Moustache Mountain vs Pete & Damian Dunne
The opening contest is a rematch between two teams who are very familiar with each other Malice in Wonderland. Moustache Mountain and the Dunne Brothers last faced off at Chapter 28 at which time the latter took the win. The majority of the action this time around is centered on a concentrated beat down of Tyler Bate. Following an early flourish by MM, the Dunne boys stamp their authority on the match. When the hot tag comes to Trent Seven things take an unexpected turn. As Trent stares down with Pete Dunne he suddenly turns and cracks Tyler with a punch to the face. Damian enters the ring to see what the hell just happened, but Pete gives him a swift kick to the nuts for his troubles.
Pete Dunne and Trent Seven shake hands and leave the ring together resulting in the match being declared a double count-out. A great match and angle to kick the show off with – the origin of British Strong Style has begun to be told.
Malice In Wonderland
Jack Gallagher vs Zack Gibson
Jack Gallagher and Zack Gibson have had an issue with one another on show gone by also. Gibson won their last one on one encounter and so Gallagher will be looking to get a tick in the win column. Similar to their previous encounter, the match is very robust with lots of snug submissions being locked in by both. Gallagher scores a long-overdue victory via tap out to an ankle lock. I suppose now he’s with WWE he can’t be jobbing to non-contracted talent…
‘Bodyguy’ Roy Johnson’s Wasteman Challenge
Roy Johnson’s Wasteman Challenge is answered this time around by Jack Sexsmith. They each ‘spit’ (say) some ‘rhymes’ (rhymes) at one another in the usual (comedic) fashion. The Pansexual Phenomenon then gets interrupted by new trio the South Pacific Power Trip: Travis Banks, TK Cooper, and Dahlia Black. Following on from their attack of Sexsmith at Chapter 32, the trio seems intent on wiping him out in a two on one handicap match. Naturally Roy Johnson steps into even the odds and the match is on. A dominating performance from SPPT sees them take their makeshift opponents apart. Particularly nasty looking is a double delayed suplex to Jack on the bare floor ringside. That bump was daft in my opinion. It’s Sexsmith who eats the pinfall after a straight right hand from TK Cooper. SPPT off to a strong start and Sexsmith and Johnson lose nothing in defeat: perfect booking.
Malice In Wonderland
Mark Andrews vs El Ligero
El Ligero has a hilariously long introduction before his match with Mark Andrews. His accomplishments in PROGRESS and elsewhere are reeled off at length as the crowd roars in disapproval. Great stuff especially “he is the most in-demand wrestler since Kendo Nagasaki.” You don’t need me to tell you that these two men are absolutely top drawer pro wrestlers and their exchanges here are smooth as butter. Mandrews gets the pin with my least favorite finish in wrestling: the surprise roll-up. An inconclusive, soft finish to an otherwise excellent high flying bout.
Mark Haskins vs Will Ospreay – No. 1 Contender’s Match
Will Ospreay makes his first appearance for PROGRESS since Chapter 27 and winning Best of the Super Juniors in NJPW for the first time. A hero’s welcome doesn’t do justice to the response he gets from the Ultras. And he gives a performance to match the crowd’s enthusiasm. This is sterling stuff from both men with the story of the match being that Ospreay is overconfident. Around halfway through Haskins begins to works to the arm in preparation for the armbar. What that means is that Ospreay begins to execute signature moves without the use of his arms. A no-hands handspring elbow being the highlight of the innovation, Ospreay is on another level. Which isn’t to say that Mark Haskins is a slouch, he’s excellent, but Willy is the man.
Wrestling isn’t always won by the flashier moveset however, and it’s Haskins who claims the title shot when Ospreay taps out to the armbar. Following the match, Mr. Underrated states that he will take his shot at Brixton Academy in Chapter 36.
Malice In Wonderland
London Riots (c) vs War Machine – PROGRESS Tag Title Match
War is indeed what we have next as War Machine make their PROGRESS debut to face off with the London Riots at Malice in Wonderland. Four big lads slamming into each other is what we have with Hanson and Rowe working slightly heelishly throughout. There is a stretch that sees James Davis get worked over which drags a touch in fairness. But as soon as Rob Lynch gets the tag the pace picks up and doesn’t sag until the final bell. I can’t say I was overly fond of the finish though: yes, it’s another surprise roll-up (with a grab of the tights) for the Riots to get the pin and retain the tag titles. Two of those finishes on one show is a little bit overkill in my opinion.
Pastor William Eaver (c) vs Marty Scurll – PROGRESS Title Match
Pastor William Eaver makes the first defense of the PROGRESS title that he won from Marty Scurll at Chapter 32 in the main event. That first match ran for less than a minute, consisting of just one move – the Popeish Hammer. Things are different this time around at Malice in Wonderland as Scurll attacks Eaver prior to the opening bell. He wallops him with his umbrella and suplexes him on the arena floor before the champ can regain his senses. Despite that opening flurry the match itself is very evenly fought. There are a few botches from the Pastor here and there which highlight how new he was to the business at the time. Marty holds everything together nicely though showing his experience in how he paces and executes his offense.
It looks as though it will be a successful defense for Eaver as he sets The Villain up for the finish, but he’s interrupted by a surprising voice.
Sebastian, latterly of The Geezers tag team, makes his way to ringside saying that he knows what the good Pastor did. Sufficiently distracted, Eaver is easy prey to the match-winning Chicken Wing, kicking off the second PROGRESS Title reign for Scurll. An intriguing end to the match and the show as a whole: we have a new storyline for the Pastor with Sebastian and Marty Scurll vs Mark Haskins to look forward to. Nicely done.
That’s all for another edition of the PROGRESS Prerogative. These quicker recaps may have to be the done thing for some time due to homeschooling for my kids/my own degree/working full time, so please bear with me. We will be back next week as ever though to see what went down at Chapter 34. Until then please be sensible out there, keep your distance from others, and keep healthy.