By Darren Gutteridge, Prowrestling.net Contributor (@thegutteridge)
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Progress Chapter 61 – “Don’t Touch Me. . . Don’t . . . Don’t Touch Me”
Birmingham, England at the O2 Academy
Report by Dot Net contributor Darren Gutteridge
Mark Andrews came out to tell the crowd that he had hyper-extended his arm on Friday, so would be unable to compete tonight. His former tag partner Eddie Dennis cut him off. He accused Andrews of cancelling so he could stay at home and count his WWE money. Dennis demanded a match, and Andrews refused. Dennis accused Andrews of abandoning him several times over, despite being “best friends”. Andrews apologized, saying he never knew he felt that way, but refused to fight him. Dennis spat in his face, and Andrews slowly left the ring and exited up the ramp. Dennis said this would keep happening until he got a match.
1. “Grizzled Young Veterans” Zack Gibson and James Drake defeated “British Strong Style” Trent Seven and Tyler Bate to retain the Progress Tag Titles: Before the match, Trent got a call from “Triple H”. He asked to be put in the Rumble at No. 7, as it “makes perfect sense”. He joked that Gibson was “the ITV guy” (from the failed revival of World of Sport on the ITV channel). He then signed off by telling “Trips” to “stay cerebral”, which got a chant. Comedy match. Bate reversed a Small Package Driver into a roll up, but Gibson reversed that to pick up the win and retain the tag titles. British Strong Style played for laughs, and it worked so much better than it did when they were heel.
2. Drew Parker defeated Chris Ridgeway: Parker was Mark Andrews’ replacement. After hitting a Small Package Driver in a match Ridgeway largely dominated, Parker hit a 450 for the win. I’ve never seen either man before, but they both impressed and got the crowd onside.
3. Charli Evans and Millie McKenzie defeated Nina Samuels and Bea Priestley: Evans and McKenzie won after a Canadian Destroyer from McKenzie on Samuels. Having only seen Priestly before, I came away very impressed with everyone. Progress have some very promising young women coming through.
4. Pete Dunne defeated Joseph Conners to retain the WWE UK Title: Conners hit Dunne with a chair before the bell. Conners got a close two count following a low blow and a Pedigree, but Dunne blocked a suicide dive with a forearm, hit a piledriver on the floor, then ended things with the Bitter End. Decent if unspectacular stuff, there were a few close calls but ending was never in doubt. Seeing Dunne work face, even in his hometown, was very odd.
5. Will Osprey defeated Adam Brookes: Osprey won after an Oscutter, which was preceded by an absurd run of false finishes. This included Brookes hitting a Canadian Destroyer on the apron, and an imploding 450 from Osprey. Entertaining and impressive, but got silly near the end with the “if that doesn’t beat him, what could?” close calls. This is a running theme for Osprey matches in Progress, which almost always go two minutes, or 10 spots, too long.
6. Mark Haskins and Jimmy Havoc (w/Vicky Haskins) defeated “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis: After Haskins side stepped a diving Davis on the outside, he and Havoc delivered a tandem superkick/Acid Rainmaker for the win over Fletcher. Solid tag match, with Fletcher doing a good job on selling.
7. Travis Banks defeated Chris Brookes to retain the Progress World Title: After a ref bump, Brookes got a visible pin on Banks after a double underhook piledriver. He grabbed the belt, and went to hit Banks with it, but was talked out of it by tag partner Kid Lykos and owner Jim Smallman. A short time later however, he hit Banks with a cooking tray, hit another piledriver, and pinned him. Banks tag partner TK Cooper ran out to pull the ref out of the ring, and while Brookes was distracted Banks hit him with the Slice of Heaven, the Kiwi Crusher and locked in the Lion’s Clutch for the submission win.
Both men shook hands, reluctantly, after the match, and then there was a stare down between Cooper and Banks as Cooper held on to the title, teasing a match down the road. Another solid entry with really troubling the best matches we’ve seen Progress put on in Birmingham.
Overall: As my first taste of wrestling action since July (coincidentally the last Progress Birmingham show), I was ready to be bowled over, but instead this was a consistent card desperately calling out for an excellent match. Both previous Birmingham shows had one or two, whereas nothing really stood out here. That said, there wasn’t a bad match either, and I’m already looking to buy tickets for the next show in Birmingham in July, with tickets going on sale tomorrow.
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