On a stiflingly hot day in north London, wrestling fans flocked to Alexandra Palace for what would be Jim Smallman’s last “big show” whilst still involved with the company.
It promised to be a spectacular afternoon, filled with marquee matches and a whole host of talent from across the globe.
Fans were gripped throughout the entire show, as new champions were crowned, the first ever Rumble match in Progress history took place, and a lack of air conditioning in the venue made it at least look like all the fans were sweating from nerves at who may win each match. In reality, we were all just sweating.
This event promised to be one of the biggest in Progress history, with NXT superstars Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, as well as British Strong Style all featured on the card, along with a Women’s Championship match between champion Jordynne Grace and Meiko Satomura.
Would the card live up to the hype? Who would become the inaugural Proteus Champion? Why did they have such an elaborate reveal for the belt? I can’t answer that last one, but let’s go through the card and I will give you my humble opinions on how I thought it went.
Progress Tag Team Championship Match: Grizzled Young Veterans (c) vs. Aussie Open
We’ve been waiting for this one for a while, to see Aussie Open finally get their revenge against Gibson and Drake. GYV open with an excellent promo and sing the crowd a song, but as the match is about to start, the Tron starts playing… It’s Scotty Davis, and he’s cashing in his opportunity that he won the previous night at the Natural Progression Series! He’s brought a friend, none other than his mentor for the Natural Progression Series – the “Killer Import” Jordan Devlin! This match will now be a Triple Threat.
Progress Tag Team Championship Match: Grizzled Young Veterans (c) vs. Aussie Open vs. Scotty Davis & Jordan Devlin
As you can imagine, this match has a frenetic pace to it. All three teams put on a hell of a show, with Devlin in particular showing that he is just a class above.
There was a feeling even before the match was turned into a triple threat that GYV would not be walking away with the belts, but they still featured heavily in the match, cutting down the offence of the two other teams at any chance they had.
There was also a nice little callback to the last time Progress were at Alexandra Palace in May, where Fletcher faced Devlin in the Super Strong Style 16 tournament. Devlin won that match with a headbutt, and the same fate almost befell Fletcher again, somehow kicking out at two this time.
The end of the match didn’t feature the champions, with Scotty Davis wrapping up Mark Davis in a submission, whilst Devlin did the same to Fletcher to stop him from breaking the move.
Winners and NEW Progress Tag Team Champions: Scotty Davis & Jordan Devlin def. Aussie Open and Grizzled Young Veterans
This had everything you could want from a tag team match, with all three teams putting on a great showing. Devlin and Davis aren’t well travelled as a tag team, but they have a great chemistry between them, and GYV and Aussie Open are two of the best tag teams on the independent scene today.
Pete Dunne Open Challenge
This was obviously Dunne’s swan song to the independent scene for a while as he’s off to be a big TV star on the USA Network with NXT, and who better to answer the call than the Black Swan himself, Cara Noir.
This always needed to be Dunne’s way of pushing up one of the next big stars of the independent scene, although we didn’t know who it would be until he came out, and with Dunne now heading up to NXT, there was definitely a big fight feel to this one.
Both stars were incredibly technical, but had the option to bring out their brutality if they needed to, with Pete using his skills at joint manipulation to a sickening new level, bending toes and fingers all over the ring.
Cara fought back, though. It wasn’t all Dunne in his final match, but instead this saw Noir get a lot of offence in, and the crowd had no idea which way this match would go most of the time.
Dunne eventually got the pinfall after a second Bitter End, but this match was definitely not the bitter end for Noir in Progress. He is a star in the making, and will be one of the top guys by next year.
Result: Pete Dunne def. Cara Noir via pinfall
This match was hard hitting, but technical. Brutal, yet beguiling. It had a clash of personalities in the Bruiserweight and the Black Swan, but it worked perfectly.
Tag Team Match: Moustache Mountain vs. Keith Lee & Matt Riddle
What absolute shithousery this match was. It was a clash between arguably the four biggest personalities on the entire card, all in one match. It was fun, it was flamboyant, and it was a break from the hard hitting style that the fans needed after watching the previous two bouts in what seemed like 100 degree heat.
Most of the match was Lee beating Trent senseless, and proving that he was the real big strong boi, not Tyler Bate.
Seven got the last laugh however, as he managed to capitalise on a mistake by Lee and Riddle, catching Lee halfway up the ropes before putting him down with a huge slam.
Result: Moustache Mountain def. Keith Lee & Matt Riddle via pinfall
It was great for what it was, but it’s hard to compare it to the previous two matches on the card. It was a light hearted affair, which was a breath of fresh air in a venue that had very little air all afternoon.
Progress Women’s Championship Match: Jordynne Grace (c) vs. Meiko Satomura
I’m not sure if it was that this was at the end of two hours of unimaginable heat, or if the match was just flatter than the crowd expected, but this match didn’t really strike a chord with me. I had expected it to be the big finish to the first half of the card, and it didn’t really live up to the hype.
Both stars seemed to tire out fairly quickly, and the match lacked the intensity that it was supposed to have. Both of these women are megastars, but it seemed like an off night for the pair.
The finish to the match was good, with both superstars kicking out of moves it didn’t seem like they were going to, which upped the suspense, but genuinely by the end of those four matches, myself and the rest of the crowd just wanted to get outside into some fresh air for a bit, which obviously takes your mind off of what is going on in the ring.
Winner and NEW Progress Women’s Champion: Meiko Satomura def. Jordynne Grace via pinfall
Out of all of the matches on the card, this was the one that maybe stopped this from being Progress’ best show of all time for me. Satomura seemed really tired out by the end of it, and here’s hoping that appearances in the Ballroom will give her more time to connect with the crowd.
Proteus Rumble Match
To start off, here is a list of the entrants in the order they joined the fray:
- Paul Robinson
- Ilja Dragunov
- Travis Banks
- Dani Luna
- Connor Mills
- Spike Trivet
- Danny Duggan
- Dan Moloney
- Sugar Dunkerton
- Session Moth Martina
- Gene Munny
- Los Federales Santos Jr
- Chief Deputy Dunne
- Chuck Mambo
- The OJMO
- Millie McKenzie
- Charli Evans
- Roy Johnson
- Jonathan Gresham
- Mike Bailey
- Eddie Kingston
- TK Cooper
- Sid Scala
- Fraser Thomas
- Chris Brookes
- Chris Roberts
- William Eaver
This was a fantastic Rumble match, and better than many WWE have put on over the past few years.
There were storylines started, other ones built upon, and genuinely, just a mad amount of action as well. Before we get started, props to Paul Robinson, Ilja Dragunov and Travis Banks, who all lasted an insane amount of time in that ring with the heat levels so high.
The main over-arching story to this Rumble was that we would have four DNR entrants, with Eaver coming out at number 30. Progress are really hyping these guys to be the biggest villains in the company and it’s paying off so well after Duggan joined them at the NPS show the day before, beating OJMO. OJMO vs. DNR will continue a long way down the road, I would imagine. However, during the Rumble match, Spike Trivet was plagued by an injury and had to leave, technically never being eliminated, but he has a broken ulna, and will probably be out until Chapter 97 at the earliest, but likely will see a November/December return date.
One of the biggest shocks from this Rumble came from NIWA and TK Cooper, who turned their backs on Travis Banks and eliminated him from the Rumble. This is surely going to send shockwaves through the south pacific, and will be really interesting to see how a newly face Trav takes revenge on his former brethren.
Another big talking point is something that even Progress themselves haven’t acknowledged. Vacant entered the ring at number 15, and was actually the first holder of their Proteus Championship! So by being eliminated, he lost his title, much like Roman Reigns did back in WWE a few years ago. Can’t wait to see a Vacant vs. Roman feud in WWE in a few years time. Instant classic.
At the end of the day, a man more than deserving won the Championship, and it will be very interesting to see how he chooses to defend his title. Progress did confirm that once the champion chooses a type of match, it will always be contested under those rules until they lose it. Here’s to a lot of deathmatches in the future, then.
Winner and NEW Proteus Champion: Paul Robinson
This was a fantastic Rumble match from start to finish. The fact it was intergender meant we had a lot of interesting interactions that you don’t usually see inside the ring, especially in a Rumble match. There was a sexy dance off that has to be seen to be believed. A deserving winner, storylines furthered and lots of top action. Also, referee Chris Roberts came in at number 29 and stunnered everybody, before giving a Canadian Destroyer and eliminating Chris Brookes. That in itself gives this match an A for me.
Progress World Championship Match: WALTER (c) vs. David Starr
The hype for this match has been real. Starr had never beaten WALTER in singles competition before, and after winning Super Strong Style 16, he finally had all the momentum in the world behind him. Could he finally win the big one?
The match itself was brutal. WALTER came out early with a big boot, but Starr retaliated and almost won the match 10 seconds in, taking the Ring General by surprise, but that would be the last instance Starr had the momentum in for a while, as WALTER proceeded to dominate the American with stiff chops and strikes.
At times, this match was really uncomfortable to watch. At one point, WALTER delivered a shotgun drop kick to Starr, sending him flying into the corner, and if you hadn’t been watching, you would have thought Starr had been shot out of a cannon, such was the power behind it.
WALTER hit move after move, expecting Starr to stay down for the three count each time, and each time, Starr would kick out at 2. WALTER became so frustrated that he grabbed his championship belt and waited for Starr to rise, however, the referee interjected, and Starr took his chance. The ref took a bump and Starr hit WALTER with the belt. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…. WALTER was out, but there was no referee to make the count.
Then it happens. The music plays, and this is now a Triple Threat match.
Progress World Championship Match: WALTER (c) vs. David Starr vs. Eddie Dennis
“The thing you have to remember with a Triple Threat match, is that it’s No Disqualification!” Dennis shouts down the microphone while Starr stares him down in the ring.
A hooded man appears wielding a steel chair, and smacks Starr down with it. Dennis strolls to the ring, and pins Starr 1, 2, 3. Once the match is over, the man takes down his hood, hat and scarf to reveal himself to be none other than Mark Andrews! FSU are back together, and they’re sick of how everything has gone with Progress. They’re here to set things right… or, in their own words, “fuck shit up”.
Winner and NEW Progress World Champion: Eddie Dennis def. WALTER and David Starr
The match itself was brutal, and at times hard to watch, but you felt so captivated to continue so you could see Starr achieve everything he’s worked so damn hard for. Then the swerve, with Dennis coming out and turning this into a triple threat, and WALTER finally not being champion anymore. It was tough to see another way to dispossess him of the belt, but this worked so well, and even though the crowd were almost passing out from the heat inside Alexandra Palace, they still had the energy to go crazy over this one.
This was one of the best shows Progress has ever put on. It had the marquee matches, it had a fantastic rumble, and nobody who entered champion left with their respective belts.
With so many people saying BritWres is dead, this show felt like it breathed new life into it. New stars were born. DNR feel so much more dangerous with Duggan in their ranks. OJMO has that perfect underdog story brewing. Cara Noir could be the next big thing. Scotty Davis is a champion out of nowhere, Satomura is champ as well in her first ever match for the company, and Dennis came back after that heartfelt promo months ago to take the world title. It feels like a changing of the guard moment for Progress, especially with this being Jim’s last big show.
BritWres is not dead, and this show damn well proved that.
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