Monday, 2 November 2015

Event Review: PROGRESS Chapter 22: Trust, Encouragement, Reward, Loyalty, Satisfaction.

The last two PROGRESS Chapter shows have flown high on the ATPW Scale leader board, could Chapter 22 follow suit? With Will Ospreay defending the PROGRESS Championship in the main event against Paul Robinson, Mark Haskins battling former ROH Television Champion Tommaso Ciampa, The Origin going up against The Sumerian Death Squad AND The London Riots in Eight Man Tag action and more, let's take a look at how the 18th October show at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London went down.

Now, I could review the magnificent "Proffice" skit that was played before the show began, or seeing as PROGRESS have put it on Youtube, I could leave it here and you can make your own mind up. If you watched the UK version of The Office, and love you some British wrestling, then this will be right up your alley. Big thumbs up to everyone involved in making this.

Match 1 - Singles - "The Extraordinary" Jack Gallagher vs. "The Bastard" Dave Mastiff

The wrestling portion of this bout was of a high quality, with Gallagher and Mastiff exchanges holds with ease, in a contest that quickly settled into a power vs. speed structure. Amongst the world-class technical wrestling, a personal highlight being Mastiff's O'Connor roll into a Sharpshooter, there was plenty of comedy to be found with Gallagher's strong man act, as well as a crowd in lively form from oft, revelling in a babyface vs. babyface contest. I found the end to be a little messy, as Zack Gibson came out to convince either man to join the villainous Origin stable. Whilst Gibson got some tremendous heat, Gallagher and Mastiff were left standing around for a little too long for my liking, with the Futureshock regular looking a bit stupid, by allowing Mastiff to stand behind him for so long before the inevitable attack. I'd be more concerned with the finish had the bout gone a little bit longer, simply because I hate seeing 15-20 minute plus matches with screwy finishes. Hopefully, we'll get to see a much more heated rematch between Gallagher and Mastiff in the near future.

Winner - Dave Mastiff via pinfall

If there was any doubt that The Bastard would be joining The Origin, the man from the Black Country blistering post-match promo put that doubt to bed. It was superb to see the big man really cut lose and rip into the fans, as well as the entire city of London. He's such a talented performer that he almost becomes a babyface by default in most places he works, but here PROGRESS has offered him an opportunity to break free of the creative shackles that can often befoul a protagonist, similar to what's been seen from stablemate, El Ligero recently. There's a lot of space for development with Mastiff now aligned with Gibson, Nathan Cruz and El Ligero in the Origin, I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes over the last two chapters of 2015.

Match 2 - Natural Progression Series Quarter Final - Tyler Bate vs. Pastor William Eaver

I've been singing the praises of Tyler Bate for quite a while now, so it was great to see the Electric Ballroom take to the 18 year old from Dudley almost immediately, especially when opposite PROGRESS favourite in Pastor William Eaver. The pair seemed to immediately click inside the ring, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that they had tangled a number of times before, the action was that smooth and the sequences seemingly done with such ease. Despite this being his debut for the company, this was a refreshingly selfless performance from Bate, who did everything he could to make Eaver look as good as possible in victory, including the smashing finishing sequence that saw Eaver dodge a moonsault attempt from Bate, with the latter landing on his feet, only to be turned inside with a Lariat. I've got lots of time for both men, here's hoping that this isn't the last we've seen of Tyler Bate in PROGRESS though.

Winner - Pastor William Eaver via pinfall (Lariat)

Match 3 - Tag Team - The GZRS vs. Martin Kirby Lord Jonathan Windsor & Rampage Brown 

This was some of the most fun it may be possible to have whilst watching a wrestling match. I was sceptical about Windsor, as a replacement for Martin Kirby, at first, because of his physique, which quickly got picked up on by the fans, but he played his role in this match just fine. Sliding straight into being the comic foil for the GZRS antics, including Tom Irvin still clad in his Emu costume for most of the match, Windsor spent most of the bout with his arse hanging out. What a treat! The finish was one of the most ridiculous things I've seen this year as Rampage Brown abandoned his partner, sending Tom Irvin head first into Windsor's nadgers, along a slip n' slide. Yes, a slip n' slide. The GZRS have become a must-see fixture in PROGRESS over the last few months, offering something different from anyone else on the show and whilst they won't be everyone's cup of tea, they definitely tickle my funny bones.

Winners - The GZRS via pinfall

Match 4 - Singles - "Psycho Killer" Tomasso Ciampa vs. Mark Haskins 

Tomasso Ciampa has quickly become one of my favourite international talents, following a number of impressive performances at PCW, Southside, Kamikaze Pro, 4FW, Rev Pro, IPW:UK, ICW, and of course, PROGRESS during the Super Strong Style 16 tournament in May. However, this may have been the strongest performance that I've seen out of the current WWE NXT star to date. This was a clinic in crowd control as Ciampa lay the comedy on thick, asking Haskins to place him in wrist lock numerous times, and each time reaching out and shouting "Rope". There was surprising amount of times Psycho Killer could get away with this and it still feeling different. It was however following a loooong Mexican Wave attempt that the crowd "decided" to turn on the Sicilian, and his reminder that he now worked for "World Wrestling ENTERTAINMENT" was the icing on the cake. The Electric Ballroom turned on him and we were into the main meat of the bout.

Things got very physical, very quickly with the pair going back and forth with a tremendous strike sequence. With the crowd getting on Ciampa's back throughout, he began to dominate proceedings, which only served to further rile up the crowd. A big over the shoulder belly to back piledriver from Ciampa onto a seated chair out on the floor looked incredible, and left someone without a seat for a while. Psycho Killer also turned into the Knitwear Killer, as he lay the boots into an innocent cardigan! Before rubbing it against his balls...that's a unique way to get heat. A near fall for Ciampa off his Project Ciampa finish got a nuts reaction, as many thought the bout had reached it's conclusion. 

The duo worked in a clever piece of narrative, that was picked up at various points throughout the bout, without ever becoming too over-powing. With twenty-five minutes of action and Haskins working as a babyface him working on Ciampa's arm for the whole bout simply wouldn't have worked. However, the flurries of attacks onto the arm, sold sparingly by Ciampa, gave Haskins a glimmer of hope at various points and with the knowledge that The Sicilian had a weak area, it allowed the crowd to stay hooked to the action and continue to pull for the former TNA star. I don't think I've ever heard a crowd so into submission sequences as they were here, completely enthralled by the action and over-joyed when Haskins forced Ciampa to tap out with a cross-armbreaker. Magnificent stuff.

Winner - Mark Haskins via submission (Cross-Armbreaker)

Ciampa was quickly forgiven for his villainous turn, showered with please come back chants as he cut what appeared to be a farewell promo to the crowd.

Match 5 - Singles - "Flash" Morgan Webster vs. "The Villian" Marty Scurll

The Villain was in full effect in this bout with Morgan Webster, as Marty Scurll ran through ever dirty trick in the book en route to victory. The finish was the perfect example of this with Scurll hitting a combination of low blows on Webster, before rolling him up and placing his feet on the ropes. The crowd wasn't quite as into this as they could have been, and that isn't to say that the action wasn't spot on, it's just that  there was a reluctance to get on Marty's back (apart from some lad behind me you shouted out multiple times "You're a scum dick" and come up with various "scum dick" chants and songs, which despite clearly not catching on he persevered with non-the-less) despite his attack on Kris Travis at the previous show. Maybe this was something to do with how little we've seen Flash at the Ballroom since his Natural Progression Series win in January. This was only his second singles match after winning, with his last coming at Chapter 18 in March. The majority of the crowd seems to have cooled on him since I started going regularly back at Chapter 19 in May. A solid bout, that told a good story, but perhaps the crowd wasn't quite as into it as they could have been.

Winner - Marty Scurll via Pinfall (Roll-Up)

Scurll continued his attempt to get the crowd to hate him, even going as far as to claim he was the reason Kris Travis had to retire. Reminiscent of Kurt Angle's 2005 WWE run, the crowd seemed to have no interest in booing him. I came up with my little theory about this over the weeks following the show, obviously I could be completely wrong. But because the Scurll character is so desperate to be booed, by cheering him the crowd was denying "The Villain" what he wanted. It wasn't like his action were being condoned. I'm interested to see how this develops over the next couple of Chapters. There's some interesting avenues for the narrative and Scurll's characterisation to explore heading into 2016. His next bout against Tommaso Ciampa on Chapter 23 should be another belter.

Match 6 - Eight Man Tag Team - PROGRESS Tag Team Champions Sumerian Death Squad & The London Riots vs. The Origin 

This went absolutely everywhere. The word wild doesn't really cover the earlier section of this bout, as it was almost impossible to keep up with all the action, but in the best way possible. It truly felt like you were bang in the middle of everything, as these eight wrestlers took it too each. Brawling is an underrated style at times, but when you've got the likes of Tommy End, Dave Mastiff and co. all throwing heavy blows at each other all around you, you'd almost definitely come out with a higher appreciation for the style. So many crazy spots and it was difficult to know where to look at times, but I did manage to catch El Ligero getting launched off the stage which was truly spectacular. 

Whist the in-ring action was just as strong as the earlier brawling portion, with the wonderful GBH into Anti-Hero Blockbuster combination being a true thing of beauty, there were elements of the narrative that I didn't enjoy quite as much. The Rob Lynch injury angle was done convincingly enough, but wasn't my cup of tea, I've never been a massive fan of these types of angles anyway. The finish was also a bit of a weird one, as Dave Mastiff was able to take advantage of some dissension between the Riots and SDS and steal a roll-up victory. After all that had gone on, it was disappointing to see the bout boil down to a set-up for a future title match between SDS and London Riots, no matter how much potential that match has. At least, The Origin continued to gain momentum after a dodgy start.

Winners - The Origin via pinfall (Mastiff)

Match 7 - PROGRESS Championship - Paul Robinson vs. Will Ospreay (C)

Another smashing PROGRESS Championship defence from Will Ospreay, this time opposite someone who he knows very well, both as partner and an opponent in Paul Robinson. It was clear that the two had a lot of chemistry from the off, and whilst this helped to produce some slick sequences, it also allowed both men to slide into their respective roles nicely. Robinson's viciousness and almost no-nonsense physicality, opposite Ospreay's flashier flips and tricks offence. The bout built itself around this solid foundation to create a main event that was easy to watch and easier to get behind Ospreay, who has developed into one of the best babyfaces in the country over the past year. 

Some well-placed storytelling in this one as well, with Robinson removing one of the covers on the turnbuckle, before later managing to send Ospreay crashing down rib first onto the metal. I think there was a missed opportunity to really run with this injury, a lot of Ospreay's involves him crashing down on someone from the top rope or somewhere, thus causing injury to his ribs. I'm a picky bastard and felt that Ospreay winning with a roll up would have made much more sense if we'd seen the ribs being a major problem. There was some very good selling from the Aerial Assassin, but there could have been much more and he would have been much better off for it.

Little bit extra - Some quality false finishes in here, with a Curb Stomp variation from Robinson and Ospreay's Essex Destroyer both getting marvelous reactions for the crowd in a well-structured main event.

Winner - Will Ospreay via pinfall *STILL CHAMPION*

Robinson didn't take losing too well and just when it seemed the show might end on a bit of a downer, with Robinson beating the shit into the Champ, Mark Andrews returned to PROGRESS and made the save for another ridiculous pop. Mandrews vs. Ospreay for the title was set up for Chapter 23, that's a main event that you'd be mad to miss surely? A smashing end to another smashing show from PROGRESS.


ATPW Scale Rating - 7.43/10 - VERY GOOD

Another top quality effort out of the guys of PROGRESS Wrestling, places this show at 4th place on the current ATPW Leaderboard, which is getting more competitive by the day.

Points of this review are super picky, as the Eight man tag and the main event were both world class bouts, but I've included a few of niggles. That's just how I review! For me Ciampa and Haskins stole the show with a legitimately magnificent bout, that felt nowhere near as long as the 25 minutes plus that it went. Slick wrestling, a brilliant narrative and the duo were able to mould the crowd like putty throughout.

Comedy from the GZRS, a sound debut from Tyler Bate and interesting storyline developments for Dave Mastiff and Marty Scurll, PROGRESS continues to produce some of the most diverse and compelling pro wrestling not just in the United Kingdom but on the entire planet.

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