CHAPTER 2: The March of PROGRESS 24/06/12 | The Garage, Islington.
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If you remember last time out, PROGRESS decided their first champion when Nathan Cruz bested El Ligero, Mike Mason and Marty Scurll to capture the Staff. As a result, the final two in that elimination contest went back and forth over social media which led to the announcement of a 2 out of 3 Falls match for this very show! That's right my friends, we get to cover two of the greatest British wrestlers today – one you may know about, one who I feel deserves far more accolades and recognition – going toe to toe for a potential three falls!
The other big talking point is Jim Smallman's reluctance to book death-match wrestler Jimmy Havoc. Let's go back to that shall we?
I can tell you right now that Jim decided to let him compete so as we look over Chapter 2, Jimmy Havoc will be in action, looking to turn over a new leaf in wrestling! You know, I think that's the first time I've ever said that phrase in a column despite my nickname. Moving swiftly on though, let's get back to The Garage shall we?!
CHAPTER 2 THE MARCH OF PROGRESS
Before the second event of PROGRESS' wrestling's history, we open with a neatly put together package of the main event combatants' thoughts. Cruz holds his staff proudly; he came, he saw, he conquered, and that's why he's the Showstealer and the Progress Wrestling Champion. In contrast, the defeated Marty tells the viewers that he got down to the final two but unfortunately didn't pick up the win and the spoils that come with it.
We cut back to Nathan Cruz, who gives what seems like a valiant speech for a heel, one must say. He tells Scurll that he took him to the limit and his hat is off to him. This is something that Scurll now revokes, reminding everyone that he was low blowed before the end of the last match.
The Showstealer is overconfident here, and gives his opponent the choice of stipulation. When we return to Marty once more, he asks for a 2 out of 3 Falls match. Marty tells us that he will finally become the Progress Wrestling Champion... we're on the second chapter. Then again, three months is a long time between shows!
The words of the challenger echo during the parting shots of the last chapter and with that, we now cut to the feed with Jim Smallman laughing at the collective chant of the crowd: “THIS IS PROGRESS”.
He already seems taken aback by the early gathering of fans. He couldn't believe that the first chapter was so well received, but he is also stunned by the fact that there are more fans in attendance than last time. Most importantly, the crowd at Chapter 1 was quite mental, something that 80,000 people at that year's Wrestlemania couldn't achieve, apparently!
You really get a feel for the punk rock atmosphere of the promotion as he asks a fan to remind everyone of his age – fourteen! That just so happens to be the youngest you can be to enter The Garage. What a mindblowing coincidence - “Remember what we told you”. This slight bending of the rules hasn't changed to this day, as something similar happened at a recent Chapter I attended. I can't remember which. You'll learn part-way through the series that I end up attending a lot of the Northern shows!
In a hilarious throwback to the first event, there is a sign that reads “Deep Fried Mars Bars”, specially for Noam Dar. This fan also suggests that the #BookHavoc movement was a work. With a quick round of applause for Chris Roberts, which trust me, is going to start to seem weird as we go along, we seem ready to go!
Maybe not actually, as a promo box pops up with a muscular combatant with a chain around his neck asking us who the joker is talking in the ring. He wants his match and thankfully for him, now that Jim Smallman utters “THIS IS PROGRESS”, the man gets his chance by storming out and stealing the microphone.
The mysterious competitor tells us that he's been in the back for ten minutes wanting his match; it's an action that kickstarts a “shave your chest hair” chant. The wrestler tells us that this is a sign of a man. After telling the audience he knows why he moved to Nottingham now, he demands that Lion Kid comes out here right now so he can tear his claws off. With the opening graphic revealed, we know now that this disgruntled gentleman is Stixx, and the first of our matches is about to begin!
We cut straight back to the introductions and the Lion Kid has made his way through the jungle of wrestling fans and into the ring apparently. “The Heavyweight House of Pain” Stixx receives another chant aimed at his chest whereas the man who looks like he has modified a onesie of a big cat and has made himself a mask to match, receives a “RA!” chant in approval. Not only that, but one fan screams out a musical line from the opening moments of the Lion King. You know the one.
Lion Kid introduces himself in a promo box of his own, conveniently placed in front of some plants. He tells us that he has beaten Stixx before and will beat him again now. Where? I do not know, but all that matters is right now. Let's get to it!
MATCH ONE: Stixx vs. Lion Kid
This is a real hunter vs. hunted match as Jimmy Barnett plays this up on commentary. Lion Kid is absolutely tiny, at least compared to Stixx; it's like watching Rockstar Spud vs. Ryback. Kid does his best to avoid Stixx to start and even gets in some offense with a top rope headscissor takedown. That's the story of the match so far as whenever Stixx tries to get in some offense, such as a big gorilla press, the Kid finds a way to avoid it by rolling free from his opponent. This changes however when the Lion attempts a big senton to the outside and the bald brawler grasps him, slamming him right into the turnbuckle!
Has the Lion been wounded now after that attack? A number of right hands and elbows do further damage here as the House of Pain throws him around like a piece of meat. He presses Kid up to the air and throws him down to the mat shoulder first. He gets called “sh*t” by the crowd for his troubles, but this makes no difference as he asserts his dominance by stomping on Lion Kid's hand repeatedly. At one point, the Little Cat is hung up high in a crucifix position but reverses it into another headscissors! That seems to be the only way he can stun the big man at this point. Eventually though, he is once again winded by a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a two count.
A “Let's Go Simba” chant is the Progress collective's choice to will on the face here. As Lion Kid gets to his feet, he is quickly taken to the corner and once again finds his body decimated, this time by a big crossbody! Say what you want about wrestling's big men but Stixx has shown some great psychology here, as he once again utilizes a backbreaker. How can an animal fight back when their body physically won't allow them to? Lion Kid tries to answer that question as he reverses a powerbomb into an arm drag and finds himself thrown out to the mat. Or not! His arm was trapped in the rope. Has this created an opening for Lion Kid? Stixx is cautious now as he gets to the top rope and receives a big roundhouse kick to the face from the Lion. Still, he shows no signs of that hand injury when he avoids a dive from the fan favourite, manages to lift his opponent onto his shoulders again and climbs onto the apron with him. Still though, another kick to the face sends the heel to the outside once more.
There's been a great story here. Try as Lion Kid might, he can only seemingly stun Stixx outside of the ring. In the ring, that's where the House of Pain has been dominant. Case in point, when the Kid charges the powerhouse, he is stunned by the Deep Six! Kid kicks out of this and even manages to foil Stixx's second attempt at a crucifix powerbomb, this time from the top rope! Another headscissors sends the brawler all the way to the mat! Lion Kid tries to capitalise with a number of flashy moves that Stixx struggles to find his way out of – there's a springboard backflip into a reverse DDT set-up, Stixx however muscles his way out only to find himself rolled up with a bridge! 1...2...3! Out of nowhere, Lion Kid does it!
WINNER: Lion Kid
This was your typical cruiserweight vs. heavyweight contest , it was cat vs. mouse except I guess when you're talking about a Lion here, the cat WAS the mouse. If any of that makes sense. If it doesn't, I can sum it up by saying that it was an entertaining short bout that I think will probably lead to a bigger story for later shows – be it a gimmick match between the two or Stixx getting frustrated coming up short each time against numerous opponents.
A graphic appears to tell us that our next contest will be for the BWC Scarlo Scholarship Title. Remember folks, this was a title that was defended across the independent scene so since the last chapter, Xander Cooper has lost this belt. That's why you now see that Mark Andrews, a name I'm sure many of you are familiar with given his current level of success, is defending against the “Wild Boar” Mike Hitchman.
Smallman introduces the challenger firstly - from Wales, the Wild Boar, Mike Hitchman! Boar is very much a graduate of the Rhyno school of attire and gimmicks. If he wrestles just like him, this could be a very pleasing clash of styles here. “White Lightning” Mark Andrews is also from Wales, and I can't decide what looks whiter here – his crisp clean attire or his peroxide hairdo.
The first box promo comes directly from Wild Boar, who toothlessly and ruthlessly grins, squinting his face as he tells Andrews that he is taking the belt. Andrews attempts a handshake but gets his hand slapped away by the Boar. Despite being the face, the fans are unsympathetic to this as they start a Draco Malfoy chant. Just wait until they see his magic here. Andrews' box promo tells us that the two also have a storied history, though he admits that Boar has got the better of the two thus far. The bell has now sounded, so we'll see if that continues!
MATCH TWO: BWC Scarlo Scholarship ”Wild Boar” Mike Hitchman vs. Mark Andrews (c)
The Boar takes down Andrews to start with but quickly finds himself locked within a hammer lock by the speedy champion. He continues to work on the arm with a bridging wrist lock before using it to turn it into a cradle for an early two, stunning the challenger! “Come on Malfoy!” yells one fan before the full Draco Malfoy chant apparates into the air once more. “Expelliarmus!” and “Ten Points for Slytherin!” are the shouts that will on Andrews as he locks in another side headlock. This is weird, watching a smaller grappler dominate a larger one with takedowns thus far. At one point, Boar continues the weirdness by grabbing the kick for a dragon screw. Very technical! Things start to get back to what we'd expect though after Boar is floored by a headscissor takedown.
Both men retreat to a corner each and it's Andrews who wills on the crowd to clap for him. Hitchman though unleashes a headlock takedown of his own and try as the face might, he is slammed back down to the mat with the hold still in place. In fact, White Lightning is then kept out of this match until he rolls out of a powerbomb attempt and turns it into an arm drag. At one point, Wild Boar goes for the spear but is sent outside of the ring and a beautiful standing moonsault from the apron stuns the animal. Andrews takes a swig from a man's drink. He's earned that. He'll probably have a hangover tomorrow though, as Hitchman hits a huge DDT onto the apron. A headbutt gets two but you have to imagine a three might not be too far away given that devastating maneuver just a moment ago. Boar stands on the face of Andrews and repeatedly stomps in the corner. A big boot inflicts further damage and gets a two! He's not all strikes though, as Hitchman hits a perfectly executed Dragon Suplex but for just another two!
Andrews is on the ropes until he reverses a powerbomb into a facebuster and hits a gorgeous standing skytwister press for another two! There's been a plethora of two counts in this match, it has to be said! Mark gets caught in the turnbuckle and he gets put into the Tree of Woe with his body broken in half as a result by way of a spear! He ends up back in the corner with a exploder suplex into the buckle but, you guessed it, that gets a two! The Let's Go Rhyno chant confirms what I was saying earlier and it certainly wills him on to hit a HUGE Package Piledriver. That has to be three... NO! ANOTHER TWO?! That's an unbelievable false finish.
What does Boar do now?! He goes for the Package Piledriver from the top rope, that's what! Jimmy Barnett argues on commentary that not even Kevin Steen is sick enough to do that. Maybe he's wise enough not to, as Andrews shoves Boar off and goes for the “f*ckin' flip” the crowd are chanting for. Boar rolls free of the Shooting Star Press though! Hitchman goes for another Package Piledriver but Andrews rolls him up to retain the belt! To boos?! Either they hated the finish or they started to enjoy the performance of Mike Hitchman there!
WINNER: Mark Andrews
Andrews celebrates and it seems that everyone is now cheering and clapping him at this point but wait?! A suited man is attacking White Lightning! It's Xander Cooper! He's the former champion! He goes to knock out the champion with his own belt but the champ ducks and hits a dropkick. The Man for all Seasons goes to escape but the pissed off Welshman is right on his trail! This isn't over!
Mark Andrews is someone who would go on to become a Progress regular, but I was really surprised by Boar here and I would love to see more of him from this point. He seems to have a lot more in his arsenal than generic big man offence, as at one point it felt like the roles were reversed in this match-up.
There's not much to say about these BWC matches as they do feel separate from the organization here, partly because the title can change away from the audience and the promotion, as it had done here. I hope it's on a Progress chapter that we see Cooper vs. Andrews as I imagine that would have been a great match!
Jim is back and as are two men from Chapter 1! In one corner, we get the smug arrogance of the man from Glasgow, Scotland: Noam Dar. On the other hand, we get the rookie charm of Progress' own Dele Alli, Darrell Allen. Both men lost their matches at Chapter 1 so they are here on a level playing field.
As the crowd chant “ENG-ER-LAND” repeatedly, Dar tells us in a promo that he's going to beat Allen, everyone else in Progress, and win the big stick. It sounds odd to hear that, to be honest, but it's something we'll have to get used to. Allen borrows a line from a classic promo in his own pre-match hype video, “Noam Dar, we comin' for you...”, ah you know the rest.
MATCH THREE: Noam Dar vs. Darrell Allen
We learn from Jimmy Barnett that Allen dislocated his shoulder during the three-way at Chapter One three months ago. Dar therefore takes Allen to where he doesn't want to be: grounded on the mat, yet he doesn't target it. Instead, he brings Allen back up to apply pressure to it with a wrist lock. The cocky Scot sees his hold reversed into a hammerlock. There are SEVERAL reversals here which includes Dar locking in some grounded scissors across the chest whilst biting the arm of his foe. How do the Progress fans react to the Jewish man biting his opponent there? “That's not kosher!”
After a headscissors takedown sends Dar to the outside, Allen tries to lure his opponent back. He makes the mistake of walking near the ropes and Dar sweeps him from the apron with a kick! Re-entering the ring, he goes for the double stomp but the Dazzling one rolls into out of the way. He hits the Scottish Supernova with an uppercut but he too fails to hit a top rope dive as the wily Dar runs up to throw him off. The Scot sends Allen into the corner, chews some chewing gum, mimics throwing it to the crowd before headbutting Allen. He unleashes a couple of European Uppercuts before targeting the leg. He seems to be favoring that more than the injured shoulder, that might be due to his leg grapevine finisher. He didn't count for Allen withstanding the offence though and flooring him with a snapmare followed by a stiff kick to the face. Pinfall! 1....2... no!
Perhaps Darrell takes too long wondering why that didn't put Dar away as he gets launched into an Aeroplane Spin which transitions to a Northern Lights Suplex. In an absolutely great heel spot, Noam takes out his chewing gum, forces it into the mouth of Allen, before eating it once more. Kinky I guess! As the crowd chant “You Sick F*ck!”, they really get behind Darrell who aggressively superkicks his foe. After a series of reverse waistlock exchanges, Allen stuns his opponent with an enziguri. Just the two I'm afraid! A kick to the chest from Dar and a spinning forearm get two for the current WWE star too! Believe it or not, at this point the chewing gum ends up in the front row and is then thrown back to Dar! A superkick to the back of the head floors the distracted Scot but Noam still cannot be put away here.
The momentum changes once more here as when Allen goes to the top rope, Dar is immediately back to his feet to leap, dropkick him off, and place his opponent's leg on the rope. He clambers up there himself and hits a double stomp to the leg which of course now only adds some pressure onto Noam's leg grapevine. Allen tries to break out of the hold but even with a moment of prolonged battling, he has to tap. It's far too much. With that, Allen picks up another loss but Dar gets his first victory in Progress wrestling.
WINNER: Noam Dar
This was a much better match than I was expecting from the off as whilst I knew the talent that both men possessed – I did not know that the two could chain wrestle like they did. It makes me wonder what the WWE is doing with Noam right now as whilst I find his character entertaining, I've seen such incredible in-ring prowess within just two matches in Progress. Good stuff here.
There's two more debutants in this match as Jim Smallman can't quite believe that Jimmy Havoc got booked. Neither can the crowd who chant exactly that! "You booked Havoc!" He introduces first, in the blue singlet, “Dangerous” Danny Garnell who applauds the fans and shakes his opponent's hand. Looks like we're getting face vs. face here then! His opponent “has proper tights and everything. You asked and we booked him," it's Jimmy Havoc! Smallman tells him to f*cking behave himself as the notorious death match wrestler is tasked with a technical contest. Before the match, Chris Roberts actually finds a foreign object on Havoc! He is still allowed to compete though as it was just a spoon, which is safely disposed of.
We hear that Garnell has been training Havoc what he needs to know to get booked by Progress, but he tells us that he never taught him what he needed to defeat him. The fans chant “we want blood” and as the two begin to wrestle, it looks like we might not get a promo box for Havoc this time so I had better get on with this!
MATCH FOUR: Danny Garnell vs. Jimmy Havoc
A waistlock takedown from Garnell floors the man who is desperately trying to change his reputation. Shockingly, Havoc breaks free with no shenanigans and drops the knee on the arm of his opponent. Havoc's box promo actually appears now as he tells us that whilst Garnell has taught him all he needs, he's not the type of opponent that his trainer will have ever faced before and that we'll see what happens. Back to the action and we're seeing EXACTLY what happens whilst spoon-related chants fill the audience. A “Jim Loves Spooning” chant causes Danny to drop to the mat and of course Jimmy is invited to spoon him. A spoon the ref chant starts but Chris Roberts runs out of the ring, causing him to unceremoniously get called a “c*cktease” by one member of the crowd.
Kayfabe is broken spectacularly here as Jimmy tells his trainer that he should bump for the shoulder block. Of course, Havoc simply couldn't take down his larger foe. He goes for the shoulder block once more, but once again writhes away holding his shoulder as his opponent fails to drop. Instead then, they go for that tried and tested wrestling tradition that sees Havoc burpee, leap frog and dropkick his opponent out of the ring. A vaulting body press sends Darnell to the ground and allows Havoc a moment to take a swig of someone's drink. That's the second time tonight that has happened!
When both men get back to the ring, a huge clothesline sends Havoc spinning and a huge knee drop gets a two. A bodyslam sends Jimmy back down to the mat again and a knee to the back coupled with the wrenching of both arms grounds Havoc for a moment. I say a moment, as a spinning headscissors disposes of Garnell shortly after! At this point, the spoon is passed to him but Chris Roberts does the right thing taking that away from him. He hits a big kick to the midsection before locking in a crossface on his larger foe, as this new version of Jimmy Havoc surprises us all. A “We Miss Benoit” chant by one half of the audience causes the other half to uncertainly reply with “Ohhhhhhh...”. Barnett tells us that the name would be blanked out on a WWE DVD, but of course, this isn't WWE, it's Progress, where two men have already spooned earlier in the contest. Garnell throws Havoc into the turnbuckle and hits a big back body drop for two. And two again!
Havoc goes for a knee to the head and it connects, but the second attempt sends him flying to the outside. The evasive Garnell takes advantage of this with a huge DDT from the ropes for one, two, two and a half only! Shoulder up! A huge German Suplex connects to Havoc who immediately springs up and flips off his trainer, only to be stunned by a Half Nelson Suplex next! A Party Foul / Original Dirty Deeds style of maneuver leads to another pinfall attempt but it still isn't enough! Danny can barely hide his frustration as he runs to strike Havoc in the corner though Jimmy avoids this and stuns his trainer with a lungblower from the second rope! That's one, that's two, but it's still not three! He follows this up with no questionable tactics, just a huge Crossface which his opponent breaks free from! A frustrated Havoc has had it now and goes for the chair! Chris Roberts stops him as the crowd begs the competitor to hit the referee! He doesn't, thankfully, and Garnell takes advantage with a roll up for two. Jimmy won't be defeated like that, and another headscissor attempt leads directly into another Crossface! Unbelievable!
The crowd beg for Darnell to tap and just a moment after saying that Havoc would not be defeated with a roll-up, the Dangerous one reverses it into a cover for the three!
WINNER: Danny Garnell
As Garnell asks Havoc what on earth the chair was about, eventually the two reconcile and Havoc's hand is raised. As the two go to leave together, another Jim, Smallman of course, wants a word.
"First of all Jimmy, there's your spoon” he tells the death-match man, handing him his utensil. He continues by telling us that after the big social media campaign, he put on a great match here tonight. He asks the fans if they want Jimmy Havoc to have one more chance and they resoundingly do. That means Havoc will be at Chapter 3, and he shows how thankful he is by jokingly placing Smallman in a chokehold.
If any other match broke kayfabe like this one did, I don't know how I would have felt. It's a different age in wrestling though and it built directly into the story, so I'll give that a pass and a smile to boot. Havoc losing here was the right call as it's more feasible with him not quite mastering technical wrestling at first. Garnell impressed me here with his array of suplexes. Forget the spoon, this was forking good.
PROGRESS have uploaded this entire match for free. Happy viewing.
The next graphic tells us that this contest will be between the Velocity Vipers and the London Riots. I won't tell you who is part of the Vipers just yet. Just watch! James Davis and Rob Lynch, the London Riots, are introduced by Smallman to begin with and it's strange that London themselves are calling them scum. The box promo tells us that whilst London has been hit by the riots before. Tonight, the Riots are back.
In one of the most cheesy promos known to man, one half of the Vipers – Alex – jumps into the boxed setting to tell us that whilst their opponents are bigger and stronger, they are faster, like a Viper. At that point, the other Viper – Will – hangs down from the ceiling and says hello to Alex and mentions that they are ready for a fight and that the Vipers are about to strike. Yes, this was complete with a hand symbol too. Dressed in green and yellow shorts, the two make their way to the ring and backflip off each corner before the Riots attack their opponents from behind! Just as I was about to tell you that Alex is Alex Esmail, who actually is an actor and appeared in Attack The Block, and Will is... well, he's Will Ospreay! There you go flip fans!
Lynch and Davis chop their foes before sending them back into the ring. They take a moment to pose on the apron which proves disastrous when the Vipers kick them out of the ring. Alex gears himself ready for a dive and hits a BEAUTIFUL somersault senton! Ospreay goes for a suicide dive but meets a HUGE uppercut by Rob Lynch. The bell officially rings at this point.
MATCH FIVE: London Riots vs. Velocity Vipers
Lynch stamps at Ospreay before tagging in Davis as our crowd chants “Funkasaurus”. As Barnett points out, neither Riot is absolutely huge here but compared to the cruiserweight team of the Vipers, they are!
Davis has Ospreay on his shoulders and he rolls to the mat with him, crushing him. Esmail gets involved and he gets a backpack stunner for his troubles onto Ospreay. The Riot goes for the pin but gets a two.
Lynch is tagged back in as the crowd chants “We Want Bieber!” Yup, the crowd don't want Ospreay here, how about that? Lynch spits on Ospreay's gum shield before shoving it back into Will's mouth. He asks what the crowd are going to do about it.
Davis is tagged back into the match and immediately makes an impact. When Ospreay cockily lies on the ropes, James boots him to the floor with authority. Oh this is great. Lynch throws the high flyer into the corner before Davis exits to the ring to slap his chest against the apron and slam him back down to the floor. He rolls Will back into the ring and pummels him in the corner before tagging Lynch back in.
A front face lock leads to a snap suplex as Ospreay is being dominated here. It's strange to see him play the face in peril when his partner is a virtual unknown here. A big stomp to the back is Davis' last move here before he tags Lynch back into the playing field.
Ospreay resists the Irish Whip but gets a knee to the gut for his troubles. Still, a moment later he hits a pele kick and a corkscrew-style headscissor takedown. I've never seen a headscissors like that before! Will rolls backwards to tag in his partner and Esmail hits a huge crossbody.
Esmail hits kick after kick before dropkicking Davis. He kips up and at that point James has seen enough; he tags in Rob!
Alex has built up a world of steam here, at least until he is flattened with a HUGE spear in mid-air. It gets two.
As the PROGRESS faithful chant “You Killed Bieber”, Barnett tells us that sadly they didn't, and he is “still alive and well somewhere in Canada”. The Vipers are going to have to never say never here as they have been dominated throughout the match. Esmail tries to keep chopping Davis to no effect as the Riot laughs repeatedly at him. He stands on the head of Esmail and that's a pin apparently, but not a successful one! Lynch kicks Esmail in the face and absolutely destroys him with a German Suplex. The fans are cheering for the Riots at this point despite being obvious heels, and this has to be due to their exciting powerful nature.
James Davis enters the fray now and sends Esmail into the turnbuckle with authority. A huge Exploder Suplex gets a two as Alex is in a hell of a lot of pain here. He's holding the knee as the London Riot member taunts him. This doesn't look good here at all. He crawls to Ospreay and tags him in. Oh dear.
Will explodes into the match and tries to take on both men. A handspring pele kick to Davis and a Tornado DDT-into-Canadian Destroyer combo to Lynch is one way to go about it! That gets a two, as we hear that Esmail has been carried away. It's a handicap match at this point! A rolling snapmare to Davis leads Ospreay to fancy his chances. The crowd chants for a “f*cking flip”. The Double Rotation Moonsault may have been enough to put James Davis away if he hadn't rolled away from danger! Instead, he did, and he holds Ospreay for a huge lariat from his partner for 1...2...3!
WINNER: London Riots
Rob Lynch still attacks Ospreay as Chris Roberts tries to stop the two heels. They throw Will's carcass out of the ring before Lynch grabs a microphone.
He repeats what they said in the promo to the live crowd, as he mentions that one year after the riots of London, the Riots are back. He calls the crowd pikeys and mentions that whoever comes out, they are going to kick their arse. James Davis steals Jim Smallman's cap before the two exit the ring. Fair enough!
This was a great clash of styles and a brilliant way to put the Riots over as a dominant force. The injury to Esmail was unfortunate as he looked great here. I've just scoured a Facebook post by the Vipers from five years ago and it turned out that he suffered a fractured tibia keeping him out of the ring for 6-8 months. Judging by the fact that the online wrestling resource Cagematch doesn't have any more listed matches for Esmail there and also the fact that the page becomes scarce after that, I don't think Esmail returned to the ring, which is sad, as he looked to be one hell of a potential talent.
We know how far Ospreay's career goes but for those checking out the Riots for the first time, you'll be glad to know they do pretty well for themselves too. Let's leave it at that for now!
It's triple threat time now at the Garage as our next match graphic tells us. Not only that, but it is to determine the number one contender to the Progress Championship! The first man to be introduced is accompanied by The Director and his personal assistant, whom sounds like Shah Boudica. From Bollywood, it's RJ Singh! The second contestant is from London, England. He apparently tips the scales at a lean two million pounds, the Cockney Crusader, Greg Burridge! He immediately steals the director's megaphone and starts a chant that I probably shouldn't type in this write-up. As for the final opponent, it's El Ligero, with the graphic displaying an incorrect win-loss record of 0-1 instead of 1-1. Ah well!
So we have a Bollywood movie star, a man who looks likes a Cockney version of Crimson, and a Bull. Though they have almost nothing in common, they do have at least one thing: a chance to be the number one contender. Greg Burridge introduces himself in the box promo and tells us that in sunny North London, he is fighting a Mexican and an Indian, so he is going to show them how to do it cockney style: he is going to kick their arses and show them what the Cockney Crusader is all about, “so 'ave it you slags!” Okay, maybe he said slags into the megaphone earlier, I thought he said something else!
It looks like the match kicks off before we hear the other promos as Gurridge and Ligero toss Singh into the corner!
MATCH SIX: Triple Threat Match to crown the #1 Contender for the PROGRESS Championship RJ Singh vs. Greg Burridge vs. El Ligero
Both of the faces team up against Singh, who we hear missed the first chapter at the last minute. Well, you know, when those Bollywood movies come calling 'ey? Greg kicks RJ in the back before El Ligero wills the crowd to chant “Si!” before he runs to kick Singh in the back. Burridge kicks him in the back too which I guess is a perfect time for RJ's pre-match box promo to pop up, telling us he's not concerned with either man because Singh is king. Yeah about that... bad timing.
Ligero and Burridge agree to both kick Singh at the same time before the Bollywood star departs the ring. This leads to both of these men giving each other the smallest kicks known to man. Greg hits the smallest of right hands which leads Singh to retreat from the care of his personal assistant to tell both men to stop f*cking about. He gets two hard chops for trying! The faces shake each other's hands as they counteract one another with several arm drags. At one point, Burridge lures El Ligero in to try one of his own but stops dead and lifts his own arm to stop it happening. The Bull does happen to hit an armdrag takedown in the end on Burridge as Singh re-enters the fray. What does he get for entering? He gets Greg armdragged by Ligero right into him! At this point, the Cockney Crusader takes the moment to bust out some furry dice from inside his tights and they look to be tied onto the crotch area. He jiggles them about as Ligero and Singh share a look of disgust. Grabbing them, El Ligero and RJ Singh chop them which causes the big man to writhe in pain. He is then disposed of promptly by his two opponents.
Singh tries to take advantage with a backdrop but Ligero lands on his feet and unleashes a headscissors. It seems that during these early chapters, headscissors are the superkicks of Progress. A big springboard crossbody and leg lariat get two as El Ligero tries to will the crowd on. Singh hits a Reverse STO on Ligero and he keeps Burridge from re-entering the match. In the background though, you can see Greg having a sip of a pint. That's another one today! Singh hits a big running knee to the torso and one to the face! That's not enough to put away El Ligero. RJ sends his foe to the corner but this allows Burridge to re-enter and knock Singh off the apron AND crash into the man in the cyan and yellow with the bull horns. A rope-sprung elbow gets a two count only as Burridge takes to the outside to battle Singh. Ligero heads to the top rope but the Director is in there to try to shove him. Greg re-enters the ring and is disapproving of this. The Director begs for forgiveness as both the big man and Ligero have their hands on their shoulders. What happens now is weird for a columnist to type, especially one who is limited to not being too graphic here. I call it like I see it folks, Burridge is dry 'facef*cking' The Director. El Ligero, a man who may or may not be Mexican and wears bulls horns, is astounded by the madness.
The little man seemingly asks him what all that was about and engages in a war of strikes with the cockney. It's a war that is interrupted when RJ tries to get involved but he is sent back to the outside by El Ligero, who hits a plancha out of nowhere to Singh's PA! It soon ends up with Ligero and Singh back in the ring now as Burridge takes a moment to recover. He doesn't wait for too long however, as he breaks up an arm lock from Ligero and instead puts the masked man in a Haas of Pain. This time, RJ locks in a submission on Burridge, the Camel Clutch, and Ligero superkicks Singh's face off! A Tornado DDT from Ligero gets the better of him before the Mexican Sensation tries to roll up his rival. He can't! He does however get another chance when Singh comes on the apron. He shoves his opponent into him, rolls up Greg and grabs the tights?! That's not very face-like. It gets the win however!
WINNER AND #1 CONTENDER: El Ligero
The fans don't know how to react but I guess all is fair in love and war, or at least in Progress. That involves Burridge grabbing the microphone and calling Ligero a “c*nt” and other obscenities which I think included something about “w*nking sh*t on my face”. I don't speak angry cockney. He calls El Ligero a slag before handing Jim Smallman the microphone back. Well that's that then!
It felt like this match didn't really spend a lot of time on one particular sequence and was very focused on keeping to the “two men in, one man out” format of many triple threats. I still enjoyed it of course, but would have loved to see more. It's a shame the interference of Singh's entourage was only a brief spot as you would have thought they'd have been used frequently to counteract the disadvantage of a heel facing two fan favourites at once. All three men brought it though so again, forgive me for even sounding like I'm complaining because I'm really not!
Our final graphic tells us that the main event is finally here! It's a two out of three falls match and it looks like we might be getting a 35 minute affair! First, from Cambridge, Jim Smallman introduces Party... Marty... Scurll! Next - now residing in Beverley Hills, California - it's the Showstealer Nathan Cruz! The “sh*t Zack Ryder” chant is back but is quickly replaced with “where's your tan?” as the champion looks a lot little paler within just a few months. It's weird seeing Marty without his current villain persona; he looks very much like Tyson Kidd here with his get-up and haircut. After a brief bit of spitting games, the two lock up and here is the main event just like that!
MATCH SEVEN: 2 out of 3 Falls match for the PROGRESS Championship ”Party” Marty Scurll vs. Nathan Cruz (c)
I don't think there's going to be any promos as the opening pacakge for the match seemed enough! The two butt their heads following a series of reversals before trying to out-muscle each other in what I can only call a shoulder block challenge. Marty seems to get the advantage, jumps on the hand of Cruz, and pulls the fingers back of the champion! At one point, he pretty much slams the champion onto his back by lifting him up into the air by his arm! What strength! You have to wonder what Marty is planning here by targeting the same area. Shenanigans ensue as Cruz is pretty much told to suck the nether regions of Party Marty before he chops the living daylights out of the Showstealer. He goes for another within a further corner but it doesn't come into fruition. This allows Cruz to go for a series of his own chops! Believe it or not, Marty finds his way out of the corner, puts the champion into it, and goes for one more set of three and then that, my friends, is it for the chop tennis rally!
Everything that has happened so far has happened in sets with both men getting what comes around. For example, Marty throws Nathan to the outside but the champion ducks the suicide dive, sending the challenger FAR into the crowd here! Sadly I can't tell what's going on with the limited camera angles available. Never mind, Cruz throws Scurll back into the ring and goes for a pin but that doesn't give us the first fall yet! He tells a fan to keep his mouth shut “you little twat”. Getting to his feet, Cruz shouts his own nickname Showstealer but Marty threatens to draw the curtains on the show with a big boot to the head. When Scurll goes to run from one corner to the other, Cruz lifts him into the air, pressing his opponent's body torso first into the mat, then almost takes Marty's face off with a huge high knee! The Showstealer hits a crisp suplex for two.
As Marty stirs, Cruz ties him up for another suplex but the challenger counters it! Not only that, he holds him high for a stalling suplex! The fans are chanting for this and this is actually incredible! HE HOLDS HIM FOR FIFTY SECONDS! Has this done Marty more damage than Nathan though? The blood will have rushed to Nathan's head but Marty is writhing in pain here. Perhaps I'm right as Cruz is able to hit a big leaping forearm here! Never mind, Marty recovers quick enough to hit a huge enziguri and Tornado DDT combination! He gets one, he gets two, but he doesn't get the first three of the match yet!
Next, both men try to outperform each other with near-symmetrical clotheslines. Marty gets the better of it however, he can't put away the champion. As Cruz looks out of the match, Marty goes up top but the champion springs back to life out of nowhere! With a huge superplex opportunity here, you have to wonder who is going to prevail. It isn't the champion though! He stumbles and gets stomped to the mat for his troubles. With that, there's only one thing for it! Scurll picks him up into an Argentine backbreaker, right into a lungblower! THE HANGOVER! 1...2...3! Yes, that's the first fall and it's gone to the challenger. But will he party later on?!
First Fall: Marty Scurll (pinfall)
The crowd seem very appreciative of this as Jim Smallman announces the first pinfall of the match. Not only does Cruz now have an uphill battle, he's wrestling with a hangover, so to speak! Cruz explodes into action and hits several mounted punches, his demeanor completely changes after taking that first fall. Maybe that's what he needed, you never know. Some fans, would you believe it, are now chanting for Cruz within the dueling responses. Maybe the shouting is short-lived as Marty sends the champion right over the top rope with one hell of a running clothesline. Party Marty grabs the drink of a fan and gets dared to down it. Can you even down a drink when you're wrestling that hard? He avoids the gimmick conundrum by throwing it right into the face of the champion!
Both men make their way to the back of the venue and Cruz takes advantage by throwing Marty through the doors of the Garage. Chris Roberts is counting of course but it's not enough as he comes back in at eight! Cruz is wrestling very looking much like the emperor of Gladiator now, looking smarmy after the hard work has been done. Party Marty's fun times might be over as Cruz throws him right into the table! He looks down for the count and well, that same count goes on as we now reach eight! In an unbelievable moment, the fans actually push Marty back in! This doesn't last for long though as the champion takes Marty to the outside, gets onto the sound desk with the challenger, and uses it as his very own battleground. He slams the confident upstart onto the table before making his way back to the ring. The count restarts and this time the referee gets up to nine when, wait, HE'S STILL IN THIS! For how long though?
Scurll certainly hasn't lost much of his energy as he re-enters the ring, as he still strikes with several solid shots. In a great spot, he hits the superplex on the title holder. Scurll looks frustrated here as if he can't put the other man away. Everything is tried next from each man, a figure four, a tilt a whirl backbreaker... Suddenly, out of nowhere, the Tombstone Piledriver gets three for Cruz!!!
Second Fall: Nathan Cruz (pinfall)
That was truly against the run of play, and we now are down to one fall each! He can't even get to his feet which both excites and frustrates Nathan Cruz. The damage has been done but he's not allowed to take advantage of it. Just as the bell rings again, Scurll collapses to the mat right next to the ropes. Call that luck or just ring awareness, whatever it was it just saved Party Marty Scurll! Cruz simply stalks Scurll as he gets up, slowly, but surely. Then he charges, RIGHT INTO MARTY'S ROARING ELBOW! Both men are down and are getting counted out here. This is great! At the count of nine, both fighters groggily take to their feet as they throw hand after hand to one another. Someone in the crowd thinks this is “better than Rocky” and oh I agree. Marty gets behind Cruz and goes for a roll-up but that's a kick out. He tries a backslide, kick out! It's sunset flip time, kick out! Chris Roberts gets distracted for a moment, I can't really see how, but it allows a low blow from the Showstealer and a bridging suplex. That's a two! Cruz hits another German Suplex but Marty simply roars it off, yelling at his opponent. The challenger locks in the figure four! Could we have a new champion? The struggle is real here. How Cruz is holding on for this long I do not know, but he is able to grab the bottom rope!
Now then, Scurll must have the momentum here as a “Let's Go Marty” chant fills the room. He runs to hit a big knee to the face but HE CONNECTS WITH REFEREE CHRIS ROBERTS! The Fireman's Carry Sitout Slam known as Showstolen is delivered but it's no avail! The crowd, having been impressed with Cruz chant “Get The Staff!” in spite of his heel nature. The champion instead grabs a chair, but here's El Ligero! He becomes the Chairstealer to the Showstealer and you can smell this finish coming a mile away. Ligero he hits a superkick but Cruz ducks and he hits Marty! Instead of panicking though, Ligero shrugs his shoulders and just leaves! Are we seeing a heel El Ligero tonight?! He has been ruthless! Chris Roberts slowly counts 1...2... this is the longest count to witness... 3. Just like that, Cruz has retained his title but it's not without a huge assist from the new #1 Contender of course.
WINNER: Nathan Cruz
After the match, Marty Scurll composes himself and grabs the mic. I'll be surprised if he doesn't call out Ligero for Chapter 3 but let's see what happens. He asks “what that sh*t was about”. He tells us if he wanted Mexicans, he'd order ten tequila shots, which he might do now. He praises himself and says there's no one better in this company to represent strong style wrestling. He also tells us that this is not the end of his title chase. He yells that he will become champion, whether he's taking out Cruz or Ligero. He tells a heckler that maybe they can go on Take Me Out and lose their virginity, a little joke towards the fact that Marty went on the show himself of course!
We are told that PROGRESS will return for Fifty Shades of Pain and that my friends, was it!
That was a stunning contest, just absolutely stunning. I don't know what more to say here other than Cruz went toe to toe with Marty throughout and we got one hell of a title match.
The big talking point is El Ligero who not only used the tights in his match but screwed Marty Scurll in the main event. We believe the second incident to be an accident but his shrug reaction was very telling. It's a different approach to go for, having your face #1 contender show signs of a heel turn when there is already a heel champion, but that's exactly what's happening.
A big part of me wants to give this to Nathan Cruz for surviving a grueling contest against Marty Scurll but honestly, it was El Ligero who shook up the title picture tonight and was the most compelling man on the show. By becoming #1 Contender, annoying Greg Burridge in the process by uncharacteristically using the tights, as well as “accidentally” superkicking Marty but showing no remorse for it in the main event, El Ligero gave us more questions than answers here and that for me as a viewer has me very anxious to watch the next chapter. Will he face Burridge? Will he face Scurll? How will he act? I cannot wait to find out.
Chapter 2 – El Ligero Chapter 1 – Nathan Cruz
Already announced for the next chapter during the show itself was the return of Jimmy Havoc for Chapter 3, and during the main event Jimmy Barnett revealed on commentary that the BWC Scarlo Scholarship Championship match between Mark Andrews and Xander Cooper will take place at Progress' Fifty Shades of Pain as well.
I tried to see if there were any videos on Progress' Youtube channel before the next event but couldn't really find anything. Thankfully, for anyone enjoying the Jimmy Havoc saga as much I am, here's something to keep you going until Chapter 3. Instead, it comes straight from the YouTube channel of the man himself:
I felt like from top to bottom, this was a much more polished show here. I think everything felt a bit tighter. Jim seemed more at ease with his jokes to the crowd after realizing the type of atmosphere the show brought last time, the wrestlers were very willing to join on the fans' chants, I mean we even had some mid-match spooning. There was lots to take away from this, but of course, the biggest point has to be the actions of El Ligero. What on earth was he thinking?!
I want to know your thoughts of course. Hit me up in the comments section below or on Twitter below via @LeafLOP
Until next time, I've been the “King of the Columnists” Ryan 'Leaf' Plant, telling you that this story is far from over.
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