(Featured image credited to Portrait of a Wrestler/James Musselwhite)
Chapter 55: Chase The Sun
Date: September 10, 2017
Location: Alexandra Palace, London, England
Announcers: Callum Leslie, Matt Richards, and Glen Joseph
Ladder Match for Progress Tag Team Titles: CCK (Brookes/Lykos) def. British Strong Style (Seven/Bate)
Seven and Bate won the titles for the second time at Chapter 51. This is their third defense of the titles. CCK earned this title shot by beating Extra Talent-ed at Chapter 53. CCK chose the ladder match stipulation when Brookes beat Seven at Chapter 54.
This match was fantastic, which is no surprise considering these two teams are among the best in the UK. They also cut out the customary British Strong Style 5-minute crowd brawl, which helped immensely. The action was fast-paced and very smartly done. They didn’t get too fancy with the ladder spots, but the things they did do were very creative. Seven hit Lykos with a Dragon Suplex on a laid-out ladder. Bate did the Terry Funk spin-around spot with the ladder, which automatically adds a half-star to any ladder match. CCK ended that when Lykos hit the end of a ladder with a chair. They saved the biggest spot for last when Brookes sent Bate off the top of one ladder onto a ladder bridge and pulled the titles down for the win.
CCK being the champs again is very good, as British Strong Style have had a stranglehold on the titles since the Brixton show last year. However, the tag team roster in Progress has diminished quite suddenly with the breakup of both the London Riots and FSU (as we’ll see later). The few teams left are the Grizzled Young Vets, Never Say Die (who were destroyed by the Grizzled Young Vets), and these teams here. It’ll be interesting to see who Progress brings in to take on CCK. After all, any good title reign needs good challengers. ****
Progress Women’s Title: Toni Storm def. Dahlia Black
Toni Storm won the title on the second night of Super Strong Style 16. This is her third defense. Dahlia Black earned this title shot by beating Jinny at Chapter 54. There was a really good story for this match. Dahlia Black helped to design the title belt, with the concept of the goddess Athena. However, she’s never seen the belt before tonight because of the visa issues. Now she has a chance to win it on the biggest stage in Progress history.
Before the match, Dahlia ran through the crowd to give TK Cooper a kiss. LOVE IS REAL, AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL. These two battered each other, and it was awesome. We haven’t seen a lot of Dahlia Black in a Progress ring this year due to her broken leg and her visa issues, but she brought her A game here. And Toni Storm helped to bring the best out of her, which is something she is very good at in Progress. Storm hit the Strong Zero piledriver, and Black kicked out. Black hit the Dark Side of the Moon-sault for 2. Then Toni Storm proceeded to kill Dahlia Black with a German suplex off the second rope, followed by two Strong Zeroes to get the win.
I loved this match so much. Pair a hot sprint with a fired-up crowd, and that’s a recipe for success. After the match, Jinny came in and attacked Black’s leg. She wrapped a chair around Black’s leg and stomped on it to huge boos. It’s great to see a secondary women’s feud in an indie company. I do feel though that the Jinny/Black story may involve the women’s title soon enough. ***1/2
So Zack Sabre Jr had a free Sunday. He issued an open challenge for this show earlier in the week. It gets answered by the only two-time Progress World Champion in company history, and his LDRS tag team partner, “THE VILLAIN” MARTY SCURLL!
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Marty Scurll
From Chapter One to Alexandra Palace, the LDRS of the New School collide again. This was, as you would expect from the names, very grapply. Marty went after Zack’s arm, and Zack went after Marty’s ankle. It went back-and-forth before Sabre caught Scurll in a European clutch for the pin. An issue that I have with technical matches like this is that I don’t have much to say about them without breaking it down hold-for-hold. But despite my brevity, I enjoyed this. After the match, Marty said that this would be his last match for Progress for quite a while. So long, for now, Party Marty. ***1/4
Deathmatch: Jimmy Havoc def. Mark Haskins
I usually have an issue with deathmatches or hardcore matches. There have been very few hardcore matches in recent years that have the build to justify the violence. However, this feud was my favorite leading into Ally Pally. These two hotheads are friends, but they are having issues with one another. They keep trying to work it out, but they kept getting in each other’s way. Add snide remarks about how they want the Progress Title more than the other, and eventually, the issues boiled over and the powder keg exploded. And explode it did.
Staple guns. A guitar. Cinderblocks. Barbed wire. These two men sacrificed for the industry on this night. The first move of this match was Jimmy Havoc swinging a GODDAMN AXE at Mark Haskins. Haskins hit Havoc with a guitar that, to the chagrin of Glen Joseph on commentary, was absolutely not gimmicked. They crowd brawled for a minute before getting up to the stage, where Haskins drove Havoc through a table with a Death Valley Driver off the stage.
Havoc got the upper-hand with a powerbomb through two CINDERBLOCKS for 2. When a powerbomb through cinderblocks is a near fall, you’re in for a war. Speaking of war, Havoc decided that this would be a good time to torture Haskins. He taped Mark’s arms together and proceeded to give him multiple papercuts on his hands and in his mouth, then literally pour salt into the wounds. Eventually, Vicky Haskins, Mark’s wife, came to cut Mark free and handed him a barbed wire baseball bat. That assistance got a lot of heat for reasons I don’t understand.
Unfortunately, the baseball bat would prove to be Mark’s undoing. After a standard Rainmaker into thumbtacks, Havoc got the win with a baseball bat-assisted Rainmaker. There was so much more here that I couldn’t even talk about because of length. This was gory, heated, and hard to watch at points. Both men were awesome here, and as a result, this will be high on my Progress Top 10 at the end of the year. WATCH THIS MATCH (preferably on an empty stomach). ****1/2
Progress is running WEMBLEY ARENA next year!
Triple Threat Match for the Progress Atlas Title: WALTER def. Matt Riddle, Timothy Thatcher
Matt Riddle won the title for the second time at Progress: New York. This is Riddle’s first defense of his second reign. This is WALTER’s rematch for the title. Thatcher earned a title shot by beating Donovan Dijak at Progress: New York.
Creating the Atlas Division is one of the best decisions Progress has ever made. It has made for nothing but awesome matches, and it shines a spotlight on some of the best heavyweights in wrestling. A guy like WALTER has broken through to the upper echelon of independent wrestling thanks to his awesome matches in the Atlas Division. This match was no exception, as all three men fought like hell and put on a great match. I had reservations about Thatcher being in this match, but he cut out his grappling and hung with both Riddle and WALTER using strikes and suplexes.
I’m voting for WALTER’s big boot as the move of the year in the Observer awards. Every single time he hits someone with it, it looks like it absolutely kills them. All of his strikes look incredible, including his lariat to Riddle which looked like it killed him. Riddle takes WALTER down with a series of knees. He hits Thatcher with one on the apron, and Thatcher gets his legs tied in the ropes. This allows Riddle to get WALTER into a Tombstone position, but WALTER reverses the position and drops Riddle with a Rikishi Driver for the win and the title.
After the match, we hear a wolf howl as former ICW World Champion and WWE UK competitor Wolfgang makes his Progress debut. He comes to the ring and stares down WALTER, making his intentions known. As it always does, a new champion in Progress opens a lot of doors for fresh match-ups. I can’t wait to see who comes through. *coughs*KeithLeeRampageBrownJeffCobb*coughs* ***3/4
#1 Contender’s Eight-Man Scramble: Mark Andrews def. Everyone Else
This was a fun match. It’s a multi-man scramble, so there’s only so much that guys can do to stand out. But a couple guys who did were the Grizzled Young Veterans (Gibson and Drake) with their tag team chemistry. Flash Morgan Webster was very good here too, hitting his Pinball Wizard dive over the ring post. Eddie Dennis chucked Chief Deputy Dunne over the post with a Razor’s Edge to a couple guys on the floor. FSU hit a Next Stop Driver on Drake, and after, Andrews encouraged Dennis to go for the pin. Webster broke up the cover at 2. Webster hit Dennis with the Eaton Rifle, but Andrews hit Flash with a Shooting Star Press to get the win.
After the match, Flash refused a handshake from Andrews and teased a heel turn before hugging Andrews and leaving. That allowed for Eddie Dennis to turn heel and hit Andrews with a Next Stop Driver. This can be a good thing, but I’m a little concerned that Progress is tipping heavy on the heel side at the moment. It’s probably because (SPOILERS) all of the champions are faces coming out of this show, but you do still need good guys. ***
Progress World Title: Travis Banks def. Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne won the World Title at Chapter 39. This is Dunne’s eleventh defense of the title, breaking Jimmy Havoc’s record for most defenses of the Progress World Title. Banks earned this title shot by winning the Super Strong Style 16 tournament.
I know what Progress was going for with this match. They were going for the big show spectacle and the emotional roller coaster ride. And everyone involved did their jobs well. But I just felt that was unnecessary for these two. It’s Pete Dunne and Travis Banks. These two don’t need the distractions or the shortcuts. I believe in both men’s ability to have an incredible match worthy of the main event of the biggest show in Progress history. And I feel that adding all this fluff to it did both these men a disservice.
Bate and Seven got involved. Then, CCK ran them off. Dunne and Banks had a really good match in the middle here. Then the refs got bumped. There were sledgehammers and more ref bumps. The second rope broke in a really unspectacular way. Eventually, it came down to Banks and Dunne in the middle of the ring. The ref was down, so Banks took advantage and undid Pete Dunne with his own co-opted weapon, the sledgehammer. A Kiwi Krusher and the crossface sealed the deal and got Banks the win and the title.
I’ve stated my issues with the angle and the match, but there was a very good match in the interval here. I would love to see these two in a straight-up match with no outside interference, but it doesn’t look like that will happen. Dunne tossed the title to Banks, walked up to the stage, and waved goodbye in the background, presumably taking his curtain call for Progress. A shame, but Dunne and all of BSS had saturated Progress for a solid year, so I can’t say I’ll miss him. Banks celebrates with his mom and dad as we fade out. ***1/2
FINAL THOUGHTS: Chase The Sun was a show worthy of Alexandra Palace. The first half of this show may be the best first half of any Progress show ever, and while the back half wasn’t as great, it more than held its own. Much like Pete Dunne’s title reign though, Alexandra Palace had been looming over Progress for a long time. While I thought the show was stellar, I’m glad that it’s now in the rearview and we can look ahead to a new Progress. Chapter 55: Chase The Sun gets TWO THUMBS UP.
MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Jimmy Havoc vs. Mark Haskins (for the squeamish: CCK vs. British Strong Style)
I will be back with a review of Chapter 56: La Danse Macabre. You can watch this show (along with every show in Progress history) on their streaming service DEMAND PROGRESS. Any thoughts on this show? Leave a comment below, or let me know on Twitter, @SuitWilliams.