By Haydn Gleed
Progress Chapter 52: Vote Pies Review
July 23, 2017 in Manchester, England at O2 Ritz
Available via at Demandprogress.pivotshare.com
Matt Riddle vs. Travis Banks: Another great showing from two highly talented guys and further storyline development heading into the big match between Pete Dunne and Travis Banks. At Chapter 51 Matt Riddle showed that he can wrestle a real physical match but here he was back to what he does best, wrestling a Pro Wrestling/MMA hybrid with moves that look painful and putting on a worked fight that looks legit. Travis Banks was at his technical best here and his comebacks and no selling built him as a monster in a shorter man’s body. If you are not big on wrestlers no selling this is not the match for you, but in the context of what they are trying to do with Travis Banks it makes perfect sense, evidenced by the crowd chanting Travis is our champion over and over again even though he was facing one of the top babyfaces in Progress. The distraction finish may have felt cheap, but again it’s logical with what they are building towards in September. If Travis beats the arrogant, cocky, snide heel in Pete Dunne at Alaxender Palace the roof will come off and its these little nuances that would have built to that moment.
Toni Storm vs. Laura Di Matteo: I’m a big fan of Toni Storm and I think she will turn a few heads if given the opportunity at the Mae Young Classic. She’s athletic, incredibly gifted, and she is a beautiful lady so she checks a number of boxes of what WWE are currently looking for in a female wrestler. Laura is still very green and on a Dot Net Progress Wrestling audio review, Darren Gutteridge and I were always quite harsh on her when she was wrestling anyone that wasn’t named Jinny. However, she really showed me something here by showing a lot of fight and being less reliant on her suicide dives (which are damn impressive) and used a lot more physicality. The match wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but it showcased the champion Toni Storm well and made me pay attention to the possibility of Laura being a better wrestler eventually than I thought she could be.
Pete Dunne vs. Eddie Dennis: Ok, I’ve heard the complaints about the fact it was yet another ref bump during a British Strong Style member match and how that storytelling technique is starting to creep more and more into Progress and to some degree I would agree. Again, though, they are telling a story about Dunne being the guy that we all want to see get his comeuppance. When these men were going at it, the quality of the wrestling was more than solid and Dennis even had a visual eight count on the champion when the ref was down. Those who are complaining about Dunne pulling “the HHH crap” with the sledgehammer fail to realize that this is exactly the reaction they are looking for. As I wrote about in my Chapter 51 review, Dennis announced recently that he is going full time as a pro wrestler and I also wrote that his match at that chapter was disappointing, but this was the complete opposite. I’ve already spoken about the visual pinfall but the actual wrestling ability shown here and the fact that he could hang with Dunne, who is admired by fans in many different promotions around the world shows you how good he can be.
Honorable mention – The Opening Segment: Progress promoter Jim Smallman always spends the first twenty minutes of the show talking to the crowd and hyping them up for the afternoon of wrestling in front of them and this appeared to be going the same way. He weirdly started talking about a random bet that he had made with a random fan and because the fan won he got the opportunity to come in the ring and have a picture with him. At this point, I was making notes about how it probably should have been something left as a dark segment. The fan climbed in the ring and his girlfriend brought the camera in to take a photo, at which point the fan pulled out a ring and asked his girlfriend to marry him while on one knee mid-ring with Jim jumping around like a loon and the crowd chanting yes, yes, yes. I’m not a guy who necessarily believes in marriage and as a result kinda roll my eyes at this sort of stuff, but I have to admit it was a wonderful moment that came completely out of left field and, as I half joked about on twitter, possibly the best swerve of 2017.
CCK (Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos) vs. Extra Talented (Aaron Solow & Ricky Starks) vs. The Origin (El Ligero & Dave Mastiff): Let me make one thing clear, I love the banter edition of The Origin and the shenanigans before the bell were hilarious. I’m not saying that out of fear of a twenty minute lecture about the greatness of Dave Mastiff from former Dot Net Staffer Darren Gutteridge. With that being said, the match wasn’t great at all. On indie shows I understand that the wrestling is not always going to be crisp and there are going to be moments of miscommunication. On my grading scale of Progress, I do take that into consideration so this was sitting neatly in the things in the middle section of this review as a meh match, but the end of the match was completely blown and that is why it landed up in here. I guess the idea was that CCK were going to pin El Ligero, but Extra Talented broke up the pin when the ref had clearly only counted to two and then both Extra Talented members pinned Ligero and the ref just looked around confused. After some time where the ref and Jim Smallman were talking, it was announced CCK had won even though it was clear there was only a two count and the whole thing ended up a complete mess.
In The Middle
Tyson T-Bone vs. Mike Bird: A big man match that did more to help my insomnia than it did to entertain me. It was slow paced and when it did pick up the action wasn’t particularly impressive but at the same time nothing stood out as particularly bad, it just wasn’t exciting. I’ve seen both men in tag teams on the UK indie circuit and I’ve been impressed with the chemistry they have with their respective tag teams partners (Rampage Brown and The Wild Boar respectively) but I’ve never enjoyed any singles matches that I’ve seen from either guy and this match was no different.
Jack Sexsmith vs. Chief Deputy Dunne vs. Chuck Mambo vs. Zack Gibson: There were some good moments in this match and the main story of the match was building up the moment when long standing rivals Jack Sexsmith and Zack Gibson were face to face alone in the ring, but there were a number of elements working against this match. Firstly, the two most indie-riffic gimmicks in Progress in Chief Deputy Dunne and Chuck Mambo (both men are a lot better than what their gimmicks are portraying them as) were in the match, but also Jack Sexsmith isn’t as hot with the crowd outside of their London home but the crowd reaction to Zack Gibson pulled this match down. Now what I mean by that is Gibson draws amazing heat in the majority of places in the UK because of the fact he’s from Liverpool and the excellent mic work he does, but with this show being in Manchester, half the crowd treated Gibson as a heel and the other half were probably from Liverpool, which is close by and were cheering for Zack, so you had this strange atmosphere going on that when the big moment happened, it felt the crowd was more into scoring points with the opposing view portion of the crowd and not focusing on the match. Thus, the moment didn’t feel as important or as big as they were trying to make it.
British Strong Style (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe): Originally, this match was in the things I didn’t enjoy section, but then I realized that it was mostly because I felt this match didn’t come close to matching up to War Machine’s match against the London Riots on the previous show. The professional analyst then came out in me and I realized that it wasn’t fair comparing the matches, but I still felt that this match lacked something. When you have War Machine and two good to great workers in Trent Seven and Tyler Bate competing in War Machine rules (Tornado Tag), the first three quarters of this match felt too slow and labored. It did improve down the stretch, but I certainly didn’t feel this stacked up to previous War Machine appearances in Progress or indeed other main events in Progress’s history.
This was my least favorite Progress Wrestling show in a while. That’s not to say that there weren’t some good points as I’ve already written about along with the terrific in-ring action you would expect, but the show just felt like it missed that one truly amazing moment or match that you would anticipate from a main Progress chapter. Some might say it’s harsh to evaluate Progress on that basis and give a negative review for the overall show based on that point, but that is the high standard that Progress have set especially over the last twelve months.
Recommendation: Unless you are a completest who wants to watch every single show that Progress pumps out, I can’t recommend this as a show that you should watch. Perhaps individual matches here and there but in my eyes this wasn’t a great Progress Chapter.
I will be back later this week with a rundown of Progress Wrestling’s Chapter 53.
Agree or disagree? Let me know via twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org