PROGRESS Wrestling returns to the Electric Ballroom this Sunday with its first show of the year.
Following on from a historic 100th chapter last month, Matt Richards takes over from Jim Smallman as the face of the company and pilots the new era of PROGRESS.
The brilliantly-named Chapter 101: ‘Dalmatians’ shows a heavy emphasis on newer talent and marks an important reset point as PROGRESS gets the ball rolling in 2020. Let’s take a look at the matches in store for Sunday.
Kyle Fletcher vs. LJ Cleary
One name that sticks out from Chapter 100 is Kyle Fletcher, who had a hard-hitting match against Ilja Dragunov. Though he came up short and fell victim to Dragunov’s Torpedo Moscow, Fletcher pushed the Tsar to his limit and came out looking great. His revamped aesthetic connected with the crowd and he showed great promise as a singles competitor.
LJ Cleary on the other hand, is one of the top prospects coming out of the Irish independent scene. He’s not a completely unfamiliar face to the PROGRESS fans either, as he had a great showing during the northern weekender in Newcastle and Manchester last year, defeating Do Not Resuscitate and Chuck Mambo in tag and singles matches respectively.
Pretty Deadly (Sam Stoker & Lewis Howley) vs. More Than Hype (Nathan Martin & Darren Kearney)
Cleary isn’t coming to London alone as More Than Hype are set to take on Do Not Resuscitate’s Pretty Deadly. As mentioned before, More Than Hype’s performance at Chapters 91 and 92 last summer was very impressive and they proved to be quite a breath of fresh air in the PROGRESS tag division. Nathan Martin in particular has grown a lot over the last year and is quite honestly one of the most underrated wrestlers on the European scene.
I have high hopes for this match, as not only could it be the beginning of a prolonged run for More Than Hype in PROGRESS, but also it’ll be another showcase of Stoker and Howley’s excellent tag team wrestling. All three matches the team have had in PROGRESS thus far have shown that they work together brilliantly and incorporate some wonderful tag team manoeuvres.
Do Not Resuscitate (Spike Trivet, William Eaver & Danny Duggan) vs. Destination Everywhere (Oisin Delaney, Charlie Carter & The OJMO)
The bad blood between Destination Everywhere and Do Not Resuscitate continues as they face off in a six-man tag team match this weekend. After a loss to Eddie Dennis at Chapter 100, The OJMO will have a chip on his shoulder as his attention is again drawn towards DNR. His teammates The NIC on the other hand will also have a point to prove, as they lost to DNR back at Chapter 93 last summer.
PROGRESS Proteus Championship: Paul Robinson (c) vs. A-Kid
By far my most anticipated match from Chapter 101 is the Proteus Championship match between reigning champion Paul Robinson and the ever-impressive A-Kid. Strangely, both these men have faced off before in a PROGRESS ring – back in 1988, in fact. Yes, when Johnny Swayze fought The Kung-Fu Kid at Chapter 89. Remove the comedy element from that match and add Robinson’s knockout/submission stipulation, and we have ourselves what could be the best Proteus title match so far.
Robinson has been unstoppable in his reign so far, but A-Kid is quickly becoming one of the best wrestlers on the European scene and is sure to push the champion to his limit. I highly recommend seeking out his matches against Kassius Ohno and Jordan Devlin from NXT UK, especially the latter.
As fluid as his wrestling might be, A-Kid will need to be resilient and quick on his feet to avoid a potential knockout from Robinson.
Ilja Dragunov vs. Mark Andrews
That mad Russian is back to steal the show again. Yes, PROGRESS’ MVP Ilja Dragunov takes on FSU’s Mark Andrews at Chapter 101. 12 months ago, Dragunov quietly began what would become a standout year for him in PROGRESS by defeating Timothy Thatcher at Chapter 83. A win against Kyle Fletcher at Chapter 100 puts the momentum right in his favour to kick off 2020 the same way he did in 2019.
Of course, Mark Andrews has the added safety net of FSU stablemate Eddie Dennis being in his corner. Perhaps Dragunov earning the respect of Cara Noir can convince the Black Swan to even the odds, or FSU might continue to dominate PROGRESS.
Andrews will need to keep his eyes on Dragunov to avoid falling victim to the deadly Torpedo Moscow running uppercut. His acrobatic style might favour Dragunov who will be looking to catch him with a strike to put him away.
PROGRESS Women’s Chamionship: Jinny (c) vs. Mercedez Blaze
After an impressive performance at Chapter 100 teaming with Jerry Bakewell to take on Nye-Oh and Cassius, Mercedez Blaze finds herself challenging Jinny for the PROGRESS Women’s Championship. As a result of Toni Storm pulling out of yet another match at Chapter 100, Jinny instead cut a promo where she promised to make the women’s division the highlight of any PROGRESS card in 2020.
Will the champion’s recent change in attitude affect her ability to get it done in the ring? It’ll certainly be a big opportunity for Blaze to shine as more depth to the women’s division is exactly what is needed for Jinny’s 2020 goal to become a reality.
PROGRESS Unified World Championship: Eddie Dennis (c) vs. Cara Noir
Chapter 100’s main event sees Cara Noir challenge Eddie Dennis for the PROGRESS Unified World Championship. Interestingly, Dennis talked highly of Noir in a hype video on Twitter, saying that he wants Noir to prove that he is as good as Dennis thinks he is. This is in stark contrast with how he talked down to David Starr. Perhaps a more sportsmanlike attitude will be Eddie Dennis’ downfall. He even said that there will be no “ref-downs” and no interruptions.
If Eddie keeps his word, could Cara Noir walk out of Camden as the PROGRESS Unified World Champion? He’s certainly not short of momentum after defeating Paul Robibson, Mark Haskins and Connor Mills at Chapter 100. It is fair to say that the PROGRESS fans would be delighted to see gold around the Black Swan’s waist.
Chapter 101 looks to start the year with a bang. Limited standing tickets remain and are available here.