There was no official thread for last Sunday’s show, plus none has appeared for the next one, so we may as well start one all-encompassing thread for the promotion.
So, last weekend was ‘Chapter Fourteen – ThunderBastard’ in front of the now-regular sell-out of 700+ at the Electric Ballroom in Camden. Some thoughts/news/happenings:
For the past couple of months there have been viral email messages, posters, weird video and sound interruptions hinting at ‘The Faceless’ coming. This continued here, with posters up in the toilets and ‘subliminal’ flashes during the usual pre-show airing of past matches on the big screen. Think of the stuff that led to The Age of The Fall coming into ROH back in about 2007.
Also, in what may or may not be related, upon entry into the Ballroom a very serious-looking bald guy in a suit was walking around ringside, introducing himself to everyone as they sat down. Can’t remember his name.
Will Ospreay won the ThunderBastard match, which also featured Paul Robinson, Darrell Allen, Joey Lakeside, Danny Garnell, Stixx, Wild Boar and Marty Scurll. This was done like a rumble, with staggered entrances, but eliminations occurred by pinfall, submission or DQ rather than over the ropes. Darrell, recovering from a concussion suffered at the Sonisphere festival showcase matches, seemed to be knocked silly again during his opening exchanges with Ospreay. That was scary, but word came back that he was doing fine later on. Robinson, who turned on Ospreay at ‘Chapter 13’, got himself disqualified on purpose (as he did at the ‘World Cup’ show last month) so he didn’t have to fight his former partner. Marty entered to ‘Pretty Fly For A White Guy’, doing this awesome big dancing, singing entrance. The closing stages between him and Will were terrific. Ospreay, who only recently won back his place in PROGRESS, got the upset win which he did a brilliant job of getting over as a big deal with a fantastic emotional celebration. He is now Mr. ThunderBastard and has earned himself a future PROGRESS Championship shot. Match was understandably awkward during the early going and not much happened down the middle but, as above, the final one-on-one was really great.
Mad Man Manson’s Open Challenge was answered by ‘No Gimmicks Needed’ Michael Giiiillllllllllllbeeeeerrrrrrt. Match was real good fun, with Manson trying to clown around and Giiiiilllllllbbbbeeeerrrrrtttt being ultra-serious and having none of it. Giiilllllbbbbeeeerrrtttt won by submission.
Mark Haskins beat Martin Kirby. This was Kirby’s first singles match in PROGRESS, I believe. This was fine.
FSU (Mark Andrews & Eddie Dennis) beat The London Riots (Rob Lynch & James Davis) to retain the PROGRESS Tag Team Championship Shield. Wow, this was great. I’ve been coming to PROGRESS for well over a year now and have seen The Riots really develop into a polished act. Right now, I’d even rank them as one of the top 5 teams in all of the UK. ‘Fuck Shit Up’ also make a brilliant team, bringing incredible fire and infectious energy. This one played out with the Riots beating on FSU forever, getting long heat on each of their opponents. Eventually, FSU came back and it was INSANE. Mandrews did a shooting star press from the top rope to the floor but slightly overshot. When he came up, he was bust open from the eyebrow, from colliding with either the floor, the front row of chairs or something else on the floor. This actually made it even better, as the bloody, battered hero fought through and kept coming. Epic, gripping drama. Riots went for their toss-up spear move on Mandrews, but instead of landing into the spear Mark took his opponent over in a sort-off huricanrana for the winning pinfall as Eddie held onto the other Riot. Cue a massive, massive celebration party where everyone just went absolutely nuts in their elation and adoration of FSU. The ultimate fell-good moment as two of PROGRESS’ favourite sons scored an unlikely win against a team that had so far remained UNBEATEN and looked unstoppable. Like I said, wow.
After the interval, ENDVR trainees Ali Armstrong, Pastor William Eaver and Chuck Mambo contested a good, colourful, energetic bout in the first round of the 2014 Natural Progression Series. The crowd reacted to these three, making their main show debuts, as though they were long-established and that took it up a notch. As slow as I am, it was only midway during this match that I ‘got’ William Eaver’s name… The wacky Ali Armstrong (he’s like a goofy Kurt Angle) got the win to advance in the tournament.
Jimmy Havoc beat Noam Dar to retain the PROGRESS Championship Staff... but only just. Dar’s entrance saw him come out with a load of guys in white face-masks all wearing different versions of his own ring gear. This confused a hell of a lot of people who thought this meant Dar was behind all this ‘Faceless’ thing, but that is apparently not the case (the masks were a little bit different, I suppose). For me, this wasn’t much of a match in the early going. It didn’t do much to capture the attention of the crowd who, not particularly engrossed in the action, entertained themselves by just singing songs with ‘Dar’ in them (songs like the ‘Dar’ versions of No Limits, Baby Give It Up and the Imperial March that started in PCW had made their way down south, but creative PROGRESS fans have taken it and gone even further to include soap themes, the darts song and more). That being said, the match picked up and turned into a brilliant piece of drama at the end as people increasingly picked on Dar starting to look like the guy who would win back the title for PROGRESS. Havoc kept going for the Rainmaker, including Dar kicking out after one for an amazing near-fall, while Dar was trying to lock Havoc up in submissions. The finish saw Noam catch Jimmy in either a chicken wing or a million-dollar dream sleeper (can’t remember), but Havoc do the old Bret Hart finish where he pushed back off the ropes to catch Dar in a pinning situation. The deal was, though, that Havoc was tapping out when the pin was being made, but referee Chris Roberts didn’t see it because he was making the count. DAMMIT ROBERTS.
Afterwards, a disappointed Dar beat up on Havoc until his Regression buddies ran in for the save. This brought out FSU for a big stand-off, and promoter/owner/host Jim Smallman promising they had to start sorting out this PROGRESS vs. Regression thing once and for all, setting up an 8-man tag for ‘Chapter 15’
Samoa Joe beat defeated Rampage Brown in the main event. And what a main event it was. Too bad dudes beating each other up in front of a raucous, red-hot audience cheering them on. Joe, over here for his first non-TNA appearance since 2007, was treated as a god by this crowd and it seemed to fire him up. Rampage, equally, was accepted as the hero of PROGRESS, a genuine top-line main event superstar. Everyone singing along to “I WILL BE HEARD” absolutely demonstrates how over h is with this crowd now while simultaneously making him look lik the hot property. He was the PROGRESS Champion last year and wasn’t this ‘over’, but has looked awesome in his performances since distancing himself from Screw Indy Wrestling and in going to the final of the ‘World Cup’ last month representing England. In seeing him across the country for PROGRESS, PCW, True Grit and more, I probably don’t think there is anyone better than Rampage in this country at the moment. It really has all come together for him and he is at the very, very top. Someone started singing “He’s got a hairy chest, on his chest” which was pretty funny. Joe wiped out the front row and destroyed 2 chairs with a tope suicida then hit the musclebuster in the ring which looked to all the world like the finish, only for Rampage to kick out at two, look like a boss, and send everyone crazy. Joe finally did put it to bed with a hyyuuuge lariat.
Afterwards, Joe put over PROGRESS, it’s fans and British wrestling and talked about being a judge on British Bootcamp II. He said everyone with PROGRESS tickets was invited to the Bootcamp show at York Hall for free, then called Rampage back into the ring to invite him along as one of the competitors.
And that was that. Another crazy hot show from PROGRESS, in more ways than one. No doubt both the action and the atmosphere were great, but by that point I was absolutely knackered and burned-out from the weekend so far (two more red-hot shows in the awesome Dragon Gate UK weekender, plus all the day-long drinking and antics that go with it) that I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I normally do. That’s not PROGRESS’ fault, though having to queue for 2 hours beforehand in the heat on Camden high street certainly didn’t help. I also found there were a load more twats at the show than usual too and by this point in the weekend I didn’t have much patience and/or tolerance.
There was some woman behind me that just kept screeching “You’re story’s boring” “Jim, your story is boring” and “Sto-ry’s bor-ing” (what the hell does that even mean, anyway?!?) and spent the entire last match just chanting “The referee’s a wanker”.
I can’t complain on a personal note, since I’m normally first or second row (and it was second here), but the whole ‘cheap standing tickets’ thing needs sorting too, since it ends up with ‘standing’ people actually coming in late, filling any gap and actually ending up a lot closer than some of those with seats. In some cases, this means the ‘standers’ actually end up obscuring the view of some of those with seats.
There was a also group of knobheads with standing tickets that just pushed their way to the front and refused to move saying stuff like “Make me”. Later on they were shouting stuff like “FAGGOT” at Chuck Mambo and then later started lobbing bottles in the ring. Some people on the balcony quite rightfully started shouting at them for that shocking behaviour, and the main knob tried to start on him to the point Jim Smallman had to break it up over the mic. Funny thing was, this twat was taking the piss out of the guy on the balcony for his appearance, calling him four-eyes and stuff, but he himself was one the weirdest looking fucker in there, with a completely bald head apart from then these two stupid wisps of hair right on his forehead that were spiked up like devil horns. It’s a shame, because PROGRESS has always had an incredibly friendly atmosphere and strong sense of belonging, like we’re all part of this big, cool thing, but there was always going to be a time as it started to grow and expand that the dickheads would start turning up.
Still, this shouldn’t sour what was a yet another really, really great show from a promotion that is on a white hot run. It’s probably the single best promotion in the London/south-east area at the moment, and up there as one of the top 4-5 in the whole country.
Next main show is ‘Chapter Fifteen: Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean They Aren’t After You’ (Nirvana lyric reference), back in Camden’s Electric Ballroom on Sunday 28 September, followed by ‘Chapter Sixteen; Very Very Very Breaky Breaky Breaky Bishi Bishi” on 30 November (PCW vs. ROH weekend).
Chapter 15 so far:
High Stakes Tag Match:
PROGRESS (Noam Dar, ‘ThunderBastard’ Will Ospreay, Eddie Dennis & Mark Andrews) vs. Regression (Jimmy Havoc, Paul Robinson, Rob Lynch & James Davis)
- If Havoc is pinned, he loses the PROGRESS Title to whoever beats him
- If Dennis or Andrews are pinned, FSU lose the Tag Title to whoever beats them (who can then name a co-champ)
- If Ospreay is pinned, he loses his earned title shot to whoever beats him.
- If Dar or Robinson are pinned, they must leave PROGRESS Wrestling
- If Lynch or Davis are pinned, the pair of them must leave PROGRESS Wrestling
Already got my front row ticket sorted for that one...
Edited by Big Benny HG, 31 July 2014 - 15:53.