By Haydn Gleed
Progress Chapter 55: Chase The Sun
September 10, 2017 in London, England at Alexandra Palace
Available via at Demandprogress.pivotshare.com
CCK (Chris Brookes and Kid Lykos) defeated British Strong Style (Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) in a ladder match to become the Progress Tag Team Champions
Toni Storm defeated Dahlia Black to retain the Women’s Title
Zack Sabre Jr defeated Marty Scurll
Jimmy Havoc defeated Mark Haskins in a Deathmatch
Walter defeated Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher to win the Progress Atlas Championship
Mark Andrews defeated Chief Deputy Dunne, Eddie Dennis, Jack Sexsmith, James Drake, Flash Morgan Webster, James Strangler Davis and Zack Gibson to become number one contender
Travis Banks defeated Pete Dunne to become the Progress Wrestling Champion
Wembley Announcement: I have written a lot about the announcement of Progress running Wembley Arena on September 30, 2018, but I wanted to put it into context. Every footballer growing up wants to play at Wembley Stadium. Every band or comedian want to play Wembley Arena. There’s a mystique and history to the area that is the pinnacle of an entertainer or athlete, so in a way I guess it’s kind of like Madison Square Garden. The positioning of the announcement was also perfect as it was straight after the interval and rejuvenated the crowd going into the second half of the show.
CCK vs. British Strong Style in a ladder match for the Progress Tag Titles: On the scale of ladder matches as we now know them in 2017, this wasn’t the most exciting or the most innovative you’ll ever see but it was certainly entertaining all the way through. The finish of the match where it was the arrogance of Bate going for a big “show off” move instead of reaching for the title that ultimately cost them played well into the feud and the characters of BSS. Overall, a good opener to the show and a decent payoff to months of build up.
Toni Storm vs. Dahlia Black: I wrote in my Chapter 54 review that I felt that Dahlia Black had a lot of raw potential. In this match with arguably one of the best female workers in the world, she showed what her capabilities are. Both women worked hard and I would argue this was possibly in the top three of the best women’s matches in Progress’s history. The right woman went over, but with the beat down angle after the match with Jinny focusing on the previously broken ankle of Dahlia, I’m looking forward to the non-title singles woman’s feud that they have laid great foundations for between Jinny and Dahlia.
Walter vs. Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher for the Atlas Title: I could literally watch Walter and Matt Riddle beat the crap out of each for hours on end. There’s something about watching these two that make you excited, wince, and entertained all at the same time, and this triple threat was no exception. Timothy Thatcher was able to keep up with the physicality and I came away from this match respecting Thatcher more than I had before. Walter winning the title was a nice moment, but the surprise of Wolfgang showing up and presumably being the next contender for the Atlas Title was a big show worthy moment.
Eight-man scramble to become the Progress title number one contender: I was ready to put this into the middle category because although the match was entertaining, it was too much one man comes into the ring lays somebody out next man comes in and does the same so on and so forth. Nobody really stood out because nobody was really allowed too. However there were two things that pushed this into the top category on my review card.
Firstly, if you’ve never seen Zack Gibson cut a heel promo in Progress you are missing out. Nuclear heat is an understatement to describe the reaction to the man from Liverpool. This time however, he walked through the crowd who were trying to get at him in scenes that haven’t been seen since the ’80s or The Dudley’s in ECW. My particular favorite moment was a member of the crowd getting into Gibson’s face and Zack simply turning to him and saying “and you can f— off”. Incredibly entertaining stuff.
Secondly, the heel turn of Eddie Dennis, which to me was perfect storytelling booking. Dennis and Mark Andrews are two Welshmen who not only tag together to form FSU (Friends Stand United) but have always been portrayed as best friends. The crowd loved Dennis because he recently gave up his job as a headteacher of a school to be a full time professional wrestler. During the match, Mark and Eddie hit a double team move and Mark moved out of the way to allow Eddie the pin opportunity to win and thus become the number one contender. After Mark won the match, another Welshman in Flash Morgan Webster got in Andrews’ face and it seemed that he would be turning, but he eventually gave Mark a hug and left the ring. As the camera was pointing towards Flash walking back up the ramp, Dennis snuck in from behind in a moment that I doubt anybody saw coming and beat the tar out of the artist formally known as Mandrews. Great great storytelling and I’m excited to see what happens next between my two countrymen.
Pete Dunne vs. Travis Banks for the Progress Championship: Certainly a worthy main event for Progress’s biggest show to date and a great payoff to the months of build since Banks won the Super Strong Style 16 tournament in May. If I want to be hyper critical, this wasn’t the top quality match that the show and indeed the feud deserved, but they were hampered by a broken middle rope and I do feel there was too much interference and shenanigans with referee’s for it ever to have the opportunity to be a classic.
I’ve also read a lot about the number of finishers that Banks took and still kicked out, and I can certainly listen to the complaint. If I was reaching for a rationalization it would be that for months they have been playing up the “Terminator” aspect of Travis and no matter what you threw at him he would keep coming so it’s logical given that build that it needed something major to put him away. That said, I would certainly have pulled back on things like kicking out after a sledgehammer shot followed by a pedigree.
Despite the negatives that I’ve wrote about I did think it was an enjoyable match and the reaction to the fans favorite winning the title and not only that, taking the title from Pete Dunne who has disrespected Progress and the title for months was a great moment for long time viewers and fans.
None: Not a perfect show by any stretch, but a worthy event as Progress’s version of WrestleMania.
In The Middle
Zack Sabre Jr vs. Marty Scurll: Not a bad match by any stretch of the imagination as you would have guessed from these two guys, but just felt a bit “been there, done that” in terms of these two working together in Progress. This was nothing more than a very good exhibition match, which is why I can’t move it higher than in the middle. The goodbye promo from Marty afterwards was very well delivered and I’m guessing it’s because he’s an ROH contracted talent and for whatever reason Progress won’t be able to use him going forward.
Jimmy Havoc vs. Mark Haskins in a death match: I’ve been so conflicted on the placement of this match on my review card. I hate death matches with a passion. My personal opinion on wrestling is you should do things that look like and may actually hurt within the banner of a wrestling contest using wrestling moves. I personally don’t see the entertainment with grabbing a piece of paper, creating a paper cut on your opponents tongue, and pouring salt into it while your opponent’s hands are tied together. With that being said, I can understand within the context of the feud why this couldn’t be a regular match.
From what I’ve seen in other promotions and heard about down the years, this was a rather tame example of a death match, which that statement in itself gives me the fear. There were too many unprotected blows to the head, too many graphic scenes of barbed wire literally taking flesh out of the wrestlers’ bodies, and the crowd was quiet for the majority of the match, which made for an eerie and unpleasant atmosphere. They did come alive when Vicky Haskins (Mark’s wife) ran out to untie her husband’s hands and give him the barbed wire baseball bat, but they reacted in a negative way booing both Vicky and the usually popular Mark. Whether this was by design or not, Haskins appeared to be playing the heel for the remainder of the match and even shot the crowd a great look of disgust as he walked up the ramp after losing the match. If this leads to a heel turn for Haskins it will certainly be interesting to watch.
So this is why I’m conflicted. They told a good story within the match, there is interest coming out of it, and the feud demanded a bloody encounter. Still, this just confirmed to me that death matches are not for me. Hey, at least they didn’t have Will Ospreay mock shooting people execution style during his entrance before the match like they did the last time I watched a death match involving Jimmy Havoc (yes, that actually happened!).
This is a strange one, because I felt if you have been watching Progress for an extended amount of time this was the show that you would have been looking for with the babyfaces going over after being kicked down in their feuds with the heels for months. For first time viewers, I can imagine if they watched this they would be questioning what all the hype was about as there wasn’t anything that really stood out on the show that would get you coming back.
Recommendation: Following what I wrote regarding the overall show, I couldn’t in good faith recommend this show as something that you should watch as your first experience of Progress. I would go back to the shows in May and watch chronologically to get to this show and I believe you will be more than satisfied.
If you want to discuss anything Progress/UK wrestling/anything wrestling in general you can find me on twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org