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Hamilton’s Best of NXT in PROGRESS Volume 3 Report (02.06.21)

April 24, 2021 | Posted by Ian Hamilton
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Hamilton’s Best of NXT in PROGRESS Volume 3 Report (02.06.21)  

A reminder: these are old reviews, and while I’ve not updated any names from what they were announced as on the night, I’ve done my best to remove mentions of people here who are on that suspected persona non-grata list…

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – from PROGRESS Chapter 36: We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Room… Again (September 25, 2016)
Ciampa got a standing ovation for his entrance, as a load of fans had “PSYCHO KILLER” signs to commemorate his final independent match before going full time to WWE/NXT.

Ciampa stalls a lot at the start of the match, which was a smart way to somewhat heel him to a crowd that was begging to cheer him. This started out as a grapple heavy match, with Sabre going for armbars early on. A lot of holds, a lot of reversals, but not much in the way of a clear advantage.

Sabre clings onto the ropes as Ciampa tossed him outside, but a knee strike took Zack to the floor, where he was given a couple of chop. Ciampa looked to suplex Sabre on the floor, but instead it was countered into a heavily torqued wristlock. That’s returned as Ciampa takes Sabre around ringside, and then walks into the crowd for a massive run-up that leads to a knee strike on the apron. Back inside, Sabre shocks Ciampa with a double armbar, but he’s too close to the rope, so the hold’s broken… and Sabre stamps on Ciampa’s shoulder to a chorus of boos.

Sabre again targeted the left arm of Ciampa with holds and kicks, before stamping on it from a hammerlock. More wrist manipulation follows, before Ciampa counters an armbar by picking up Sabre and thrusting him head first into a turnbuckle. Ciampa looks for an Air Raid Crash off the top rope, but Sabre escapes, only to take the move in the middle of the ring for a near-fall.

Ciampa misses a Project Ciampa, and almost gets the first fall with a PK and a handful of tights. A knee trembler gets countered as Sabre gets a jack-knife roll-up for a near-fall, before an armbar is eventually escaped out of by Ciampa. Sabre gets a triangle armbar, but Ciampa picks him up and turns it into the Project Ciama for another two-count.

The pair trade a litany of strikes back and forth, before a reversal to a roll-up is sort-of-blocked, and we end up with a double pin! Chris Roberts counts both men’s shoulders down, and the announcement of a double pin – hence a 1-1 draw – annoys the crowd. Why? You just saw a lengthy first-fall, what did you want? A lucha-style 30 second first fall?!

The final fall started with a big boot from Sabre, then one from Ciampa, before Sabre gets an armbar, but somehow it’s countered into a crossface, and gets rolled through as Ciampa has Sabre caught in the middle of the ring. Sabre scoots his way to the bottom rope to break the hold, and the pair end up on the apron where Sabre again stamps on the wrist.

A tornado DDT from Sabre’s rolled through as the Brit grabs a guillotine, but Ciampa gets free and drops Sabre on the top turnbuckle before finally getting that Air Raid Crash. Somehow, Sabre got straight back up into an armbar, but was met with the typical WWE response to such a no-sell… a Pedigree! Sabre kicked out at two from that, and again from a Knee Trembler.

After both men took their time to get back to their feet, Sabre slipped around and got a German suplex for a one-count, then a PK. And another… but only for a two-count. Sabre takes him to the top rope, but an attempt by Ciampa to powerbomb Sabre down is blocked at first… as he then counters an armbar into a Project Ciampa off the top rope! Sabre kicked out at two somehow, but both men needed to use almost all of the standing ten count to get back to their feet.

Ciampa slaps Sabre repeatedly, but gets a receipt, before Sabre catches him in an armbar… Ciampa escapes, but Sabre wraps him in the Octopus hold (with the really long name… “Hurrah! Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than the Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All to Happiness”). That’s turned into the double armbar, and back into a grounded Octopus as Sabre finally forces the tap-out. Much, much better on tape that live… a fantastic match befitting the honor of Tommaso’s final indy match. ****¼

Trent Seven & Tyler Bate vs. Ray Rowe & Hanson – from PROGRESS Chapter 52: Vote Pies (July 23, 2017)
War Machine were looking to add the PROGRESS titles to their IWGP straps, having outlasted the London Riots last time out in Birmingham. This was changed to a tornado match, or “War Machine rules”, literally just before the bell, setting the scene for the rapidly-familiar PROGRESS car crash tag match!

After the Triple H water spit – at War Machine’s faces – at the bell, BSS quickly regret things as the snarling faces of Hanson and Rowe came right back at them with forearms. Rowe booted away a cricket chop from Trent, who then pulls him off the top rope as Hanson came in to take some machine-gun chops. Kojima he ain’t!

Hanson returns the favour with some gusto, draping Seven across the top rope for a bunch of forearms to the chest, before Rowe caught Tyler and hurled him across the ring with an Exploder. Dives follow from Rowe and Bate as the match remains outside the ring, and of course, Trent chops the ring post, before the crowd scatters as Tyler gets thrown into Trent and a pile of chairs.

It gets a little heated as Bate throws chairs at Rowe whilst Hanson drags Trent by the towel into a forearm, before eventually using said towel to clothesline Trent. Ah, hoisted by his own petard!

Rowe takes Tyler onto the stage with a fireman’s carry as all four men eventually ended up there, before Tyler stumbled into Hanson, who had no problem slamming him on the stage… ending with British Strong Style being dog-piled as Rowe slammed Hanson onto the pair of them to complete the sandwich. Chris Roberts even gets involved, pulled up into a battering ram position like he was the third Bushwhacker, but BSS recover and throw chairs to get themselves back in it.

The action heads back to the floor where Bate throws Rowe into the seats again, before Hanson goes the same way. That ring’s left awfully unused, as Trent brings it into play for a DDT on the apron to Rowe, before Hanson goes to the top rope like a mad man… flying down with a flip senton!

Finally in the ring, Hanson and Rowe combine with a springboard clothesline/German suplex combo on Seven, but an attempt at Fallout is saved by Tyler. The champs mount a comeback, with a suplex on Hanson saved by Rowe as we launched into a parade, ending with a vicious knee to Tyler and… a Trent-a-can-rana?! Nah, just kidding, a snap Dragon suplex from Seven!

Tyler then shows his freaky strength in giving Hanson a lengthy airplane spin, before Rowe headbutts away a tonne of strikes from the champions before Hanson returned with a massive handspring double back elbow, as nimble as if he were a double-sized Will Ospreay!

A double bop/bang punch leads to a double Pedigree from the champs, but War Machine rise up and delivered two of their own before some low blows left War Machine on their knees. Trent goes out for the sledgehammer, but he’s having trouble finding it as Tyler’s knocked out… returning with the tag title belt. Trent’s got the other one to complete a pair of belt shots, before Pedigreeing Hanson onto the belt for the win. A fun car crash, which seems to be PROGRESS and War Machine’s forte. ****

Toni Storm vs. Candice LeRae – from PROGRESS Chapter 53: Fate Loves The Fearless (July 30, 2017)
Candice LeRae was in for her debut-title shot here, and she got an enthusiastic response to begin with as LeRae started with a wristlock as the pair worked on the mat.

LeRae scores with a step-up ‘rana and a dropkick as Candice went flying – connecting with a tope to take Storm down in the aisle. Things turn around when Toni dropped LeRae into a chair, before sending her flying deeper into the crowd with a hip attack. There’s more of those back in the ring, before Candice surprises Storm with an Octopus hold that she switches into a Gargano Escape!

Storm manages to catch a superkick and hits a trapped-leg German suplex as the pair continued to go back and forth… but a missed hip attack in the corner set up Candice for a wild double-stomp to the back that almost won her the title. A bucklebomb from Storm turns things back around though, as a hip attack and the Strong Zero piledriver barely gets a one count?!

LeRae comes back with a small package for a near-fall as the pair traded shots, before Storm went for a superplex… Candice slips out and hits a not-a-Ballsplex out of the middle rope for another near-fall! Storm kicked out though and before too long dumped Candice into the corner with a Northern Lights suplex before hitting a trio of Strong Zeros in succession for the win. Decent enough, but there’s always the issue of being able to fully invest yourself in a title match when the challenger is a travelling star. ***¼

Keith Lee vs. Flash Morgan Webster – from PROGRESS Chapter 57: Enter Smiling (November 12, 2017)
Forever portrayed as the “nearly-man” of PROGRESS, this really is a “good luck, Flash” match. Heck, the crowd did chant “please don’t die” at him, so at least they’re being polite.

There’s a lot of frustration early as Keith Lee tries to do a test of strength, but instead he decides to show it… by throwing Flash across the ring with ease. It didn’t intimidate the Mod though, as he tries to fight back… but armdrags won’t cut it, nor will sunset flips. Just what are you thinking?!

What did work though, was a missile dropkick, as Keith Lee was sent outside for a tope. Which is caught and turned into a spot of Brookesing, as Lee looked to slow down the pace of the match so he could toy with Flash some more. It’s quickly becoming sadistic, with those Keith Lee chops becoming akin to someone playing with a dying animal. They’re also a very good way of cutting off any attempts of a comeback. As was the simple act of Mod tossing. It’s pretty similar to the trial by fire that Travis Banks survived before he became champion, with some added sympathy as Webster collapsed rather than take another Biel throw across the ring.

It turned out to be a ruse though as Flash fires back, dropkicking Lee into the corner, but he tries an Irish whip and that just angers the big guy again, as he catches the Rude Boy moonsault… only for Flash to counter it into a tornado DDT for just a one count! Topes keep Lee down outside, but Lee’s lariats are just too effective, as was Flash’s hands up headbutt… which inspired Lee to throw one of his own.

Somehow, Flash escapes Ground Zero with a reverse ‘rana that almost caused a huge upset, but Lee again goes back to the strikes before cutting Flash in half with a double handed chop as a prelude to the Spirit Bomb… but Flash bounces back up and defiantly kicked out at two! It’s just delaying the inevitable though, as Ground Zero puts Flash away… and that’s a star-making performance for Webster, who’s still looking for that defining win. ****¼

Donovan Dijak vs. Kyle Ashmore – from PROGRESS Freedoms Road Tapings (June 27, 2017)
So this is one I watched live but never reviewed on tape, largely because the second season of Freedoms Road got yanked from PROGRESS’ on-demand before I got around to it.

Ashmore dropkicks Dijak off the top rope to start, which gets boos from the crowd… before Ashmore wiped out on a corkscrew plancha. He’s caught by Dijak who just chokeslams him onto the apron, before they returned to the ring as a spinning backbreaker and a standing corkscrew senton squishes Ashmore.

A falling splash off the middle rope gets Dijak a two-count as he busted out the big guns early. Ashmore goes for an Irish whip, but Dijak clings onto the ropes and came back with some backbreakers before he tossed Ashmore out of the ring (and off camera too, for… the hell of it). Dijak looks for an Asai moonsault, but Ashmore cuts him off before they fought on the apron, with Ashmore eventually lifting up Dijak for a death valley driver onto the corner of the ring.

Rolling Dijak back inside winds up the crowd, before a slam and a knee drop slowed the pace down a little. There’s an exchange of running forearms into the corner, before a gamengiri and a back elbow kept Dijak on the back foot… only for him to hit back with a discus big boot. Dijak eventually gets back up with some elbows and a thrust kick, before a suplex throw tosses Ashmore into the corner.

From there, Dijak calls for Feast Your Eyes, but Ashmore escapes… only to get superkicked on the buckles as a fireman’s carry into a sit-out powerbomb almost got the win. Ashmore flips out of a chokeslam and hits Dijak with a low dropkick, but he couldn’t avoid the chokebreaker at the second attempt as Dijak nearly put him away. Dijak misses on a springboard moonsault and gets up into the path of a discus forearm… the pair trade more strikes ahead of a brainbuster from Ashmore for a near-fall, before a blocked Feast Your Eyes led to Ashmore hitting almost the Project Ciampa. A rear hook kick from Ashmore’s next for a near-fall.

Ashmore looks for a sunset bomb to the floor after taking Dijak to the apron, but that’s stopped as we then see Dijak set up for an Asai moonsault into the front row. Back inside, a springboard elbow drop almost puts Ashmore away, before a reverse ‘rana and a shotgun dropkick flew Dijak into the corner. Ashmore tries again with a Spiral Tap… but misses as Dijak snatches the initative and puts him away with Feast Your Eyes. A pretty good outing with Ashmore more than holding his own here against a much bigger name on the indies. ***½

Mark Andrews vs. Matt Riddle – from PROGRESS Coast To Coast: New York (August 07, 2018)
“I’m not really sure what independent wrestling means anymore.” I’ll present that line without comment for those of you who love to overanalyse commentary.

Riddle grabs a headlock as the crowd busts out an old reused Simpsons song for him. All we bro, we bro… oh, and they mangle the Chuck Mambo chant too as he goes for a cross armbar, before Andrews gets caught in the corner with boots and forearms, then an Exploder out of it. Some axe kicks to the lower back keep Andrews down, but he’s able to get his knees up to block a back senton as he launched a comeback with chops… but he has to stage dive under a lariat before taking Riddle down with an enziguiri. Running knees into the corner and a wheelbarrow stomp keep Andrews ahead, getting a two-count out of it, only for Riddle to bounce back with a powerbomb and a Tiger knee for a near-fall.

We’re back to chops as Andrews and Riddle give and receive, but it’s the former who looked to push ahead with a tornado DDT, only for Riddle to reply with an upkick. The Fisherman Buster’s countered out into a Stundog Millionaire, before a Bro to Sleep’s countered into a huge Destroyer by Andrews, only to land in Riddle’s knees as he looked to finish off with a Shooting Star Press. On jelly legs, Riddle keeps Andrews down with a tombstone and another Tiger Knee… and that blasted knee strike puts Andrews down. A hell of a fun sprint, and a match that’s worth going out of your way to see – with the result putting Mark Andrews out of Wembley as he’d effectively run out of matches to get his three not-CHIKARA coins. ****

Jinny vs. Dakota Kai – from PROGRESS Chapter 71: F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.P.R.O.G.R.E.S.S. (June 10, 2018)
In her first title defence, Jinny wasn’t alone: Chakara was by her side here as she faced “replacement” opponent Dakota Kai, who of course had the future Tegan Nox with her.

Jinny takes a rather inordinate amount of time to get battle ready, but when we get going, it starts off as a ground-based affair, with Jinny and Dakota keeping each other at bay. Or in Dakota’s case, confusing Jinny by endlessly rolling around her before staggering into a headlock. A leap over a charging Jinny almost got an upset as Kai gets a near-fall from a roll-up, before the leader of Team Kick lived up to her name, almost winning with a kick.

Jinny gets back in with some headbutts, except Dakota’s rocking the whole Samoan thing, and so they don’t affect her one bit. Unlike the PK Dakota blasted Jinny with on the outside…

Back on the inside, Jinny trips Kai into the corner and followed up with a Drive By-like dropkick as the tide started to turn, even more so when Jinny’s Shibata-ish dropkick in the corner gets a near-fall as the New Zealander got a hand to the ropes. A Japanese stranglehold on the mat keeps Kai restrained, but she leans back and almost turned the negative into a positive… only to get decked with a forearm as Jinny stayed on top with a series of stomps.

Jinny stretches Kai in the ropes, all while Chakara ominously watches on… and sure enough, there’s cheapshots as referee Joel Allen’s back is turned. She trips over as Steffanie Newell went after her, but she’s back up to take more shots as Dakota’s hurled to the outside, hitting the ringpost and taking an awkward landing in the process. Kai’s quickly returned to the ring, but she avoids an Acid Rainmaker and countered with a kick, only to get pulled into a seated surfboard – eventually leading to a rope break when Kai got an arm free.

Dakota snaps right back in with a push-down stomp out of the corner, folding Jinny in two, as we’re back to them trading forearms as they fought back to their feet. The comeback continues as Kai cornered Jinny for some running kicks, following up with a face-washing boot that almost got the win, before Jinny fought back with a Style Clash. Somehow Kai’s able to kick out from that, before she tried once more to kick Jinny away as she worked up into a… Destroyer back cracker?! What in the hell?! That should have won the match, but Chakara pulls out the referee at two, before hitting the ring to clock Kai with the belt… and despite returning to the ring to drape Jinny onto Dakota in full view of the ref, Joel Allen hits the mat three times, only to call it a two-count!

The match carried on as the crowd tried to fire up Kai one more time, but Jinny’s straight back in with a Rainmaker for the win. This was fine, but felt rather odd. Yeah, you ticked the box of “needs outside interference to win” help, but the substitution meant that a fair bit of the shine of the match wasn’t there, and as such it just didn’t “feel” like a main event. Perhaps they should have swapped things around when Newell’s injury was confirmed? ***

8.0
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
At time of writing this was the last "best-of" show for PROGRESS on the WWE Network as they moved onto creating new content - but this was a great "best of" to sign off on.
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article topics :

PROGRESS, Ian Hamilton