This Sunday sees PROGRESS Wrestling’s final trip up north of the year.
Three huge championship matches headline the promotion’s first visit to Sheffield’s O2 Academy in over a year, and the undercard looks just as strong. From Eddie Dennis’ first World Championship defence to a huge exhibition between Kassius Ohno and Timothy Thatcher, let’s take a closer look at what this weekend has in store.
PROGRESS Proteus Championship: Paul Robinson (c) vs. Chris Ridgeway
Reigning champion Paul Robinson is set to make his fourth title defence this weekend, but can a returning Chris Ridgeway make it his last? Robbo’s chosen stipulation of knockout or submission adds a very interesting dynamic to this match, as this will be the third time both men have faced each other in a PROGRESS ring.
If we cast our minds back to Chapter 80 in Manchester late last year, Robinson was quick with his strikes and controlled Ridgeway early on, forcing his opponent to react. The striking game was such a prominent part of the match than neither man attempted a pinfall until late in the match. Robinson eventually got the win after resorting to using a chain wrapped around his wrist whilst the referee was distracted.
The following night in Sheffield, Ridgeway and Robinson faced off once again, this time in a chain match; where both competitors were tied to a length of chain attached to the wrist. With more of a focus on strength and grappling, Ridgeway managed to control Robinson and choked him out for the win.
Both prior encounters were absolutely brutal, and their the Proteus Championship on the line, it looks like we’re in for another spectacular bloodbath.
Mark Andrews vs. Primate
Primate makes his return to PROGRESS after losing to Paul Robinson in a Geordie Street Fight in Newcastle earlier in the year, as he takes on FSU’s Mark Andrews. Andrews is currently on a roll in PROGRESS after picking up wins against Connor Mills and The OJMO. Not to take away from those guys in any way, but perhaps Primate is Andrews’ biggest challenge yet since returning to the promotion, and he might need a helping hand from a certain PROGRESS World Champion.
I would not sleep on this match. Primate’s match against Robinson at Chapter 91 was one of my highlights from that show, and this match against Andrews could be just as good. Their contrasting fighting styles certainly will help that.
Grizzled Young Veterans vs. The Anti-Fun Police
Look – at the time of writing, it looks like we’re heading towards a Conservative majority government in the General Election, but we all deserve a laugh. This fun match pitching Los Federales Santos Jr. and Chief Deputy Dunne against Zack Gibson and James Drake will put a smile on our faces when we need it the most. It will certainly be a nice distraction from the climate emergency and the years of austerity that lie ahead. Hooray!
Ilja Dragunov vs. Cara Noir – 2 out of 3 falls match
On a lighter note, this is a thing. Dragunov and Noir square off one more time, this time in a two out of three falls match. Many would agree that their first two matches at Chapters 96 and 97 stole the shows, further cementing Dragunov as one of 2019’s standout performers and propelling Cara Noir to main event status.
With both men at one win a piece, this Sunday sees the deciding match – and what a match it will be. Noir and Dragunov have incredible in-ring chemistry together. Their offence is so equally matched and the sheer beauty of their grappling and reversals will be even more prominent now that they know each other better than ever before.
PROGRESS Women’s World Championship: Meiko Satomura (c) vs. Jinny
Meiko Satomura makes her second PROGRESS Women’s Title defence this Sunday against Jinny, who became the number one contender by defeating Millie McKenzie at Chapter 98. Jinny’s recent shift in persona seems to have given her a more aggressive edge, but Meiko Satomura will prove to be the toughest challenge of her career.
Can Jinny reclaim her throne nearly a year after she lost her title, or will Meiko Satomura reign supreme just as she did against Jordynne Grace and Dani Luna? I’m sure Toni Storm has something to say about that…
Kassius Ohno vs. Timothy Thatcher
Do you ever find yourself sitting at King’s Cross station, stuffing your face with an overpriced “£4.99 meal deal”, then buying a ticket to a show that takes place in a city you’ve never been to before out of panic because PROGRESS announced a frankly ridiculous match? Cause that’s what happened to me. I never did finish that BLT…
Chapter 99’s calling card is a dream match pitching NXT UK’s Kassius Ohno against Timothy Thatcher. Thatcher’s return to PROGRESS might not have gone exactly how he would have wanted as he tapped out to Paul Robinson, but a win here against quite simply one of the best wrestlers on earth will put the momentum right back in Thatcher’s favour.
Expect a showcase of grappling excellence with a generous sprinkling of picture-perfect striking in between. This will be an incredible match.
PROGRESS Unified World Championship: Eddie Dennis (c) vs. David Starr
Sunday’s main event sees Eddie Dennis’ first PROGRESS Unified World Championship defence, where David Starr finally gets his one-on-one match. Starr became the number one contender by defeating The OJMO in the main event of Chapter 97.
Of course, the title opportunity Starr earned by winning the Super Strong Style 16 tournament was shockingly stolen from him as Eddie Dennis cashed in his title match contract from Wembley last year with the aid of Mark Andrews and became the new Unified World Champion.
Despite being robbed of his title match, Starr has not lost sight of the gold and managed to beat The OJMO in a great impromptu main event. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mark Andrews lend a helping hand to his FSU stablemate, and The OJMO has a big match against PAC at RevPro the same day, leaving Starr potentially outnumbered. Can David Starr finally get the job done and win the PROGRESS Unified World Champion?
In summary, Chapter 99 looks like an amazing show. Personally, I’m most excited about Cara Noir vs. Ilja Dragunov and Timothy Thatcher vs. Kassius Ohno, but any match on this stacked card has the potential to steal the show.