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Hamilton’s Best of Unboxing in PROGRESS Report (01.09.21)

March 19, 2021 | Posted by Ian Hamilton
Pete Dunne NXT 91317
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Hamilton’s Best of Unboxing in PROGRESS Report (01.09.21)  

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…

Toni Storm vs. Kay Lee Ray – from PROGRESS Chapter 40: Unboxing Live (December 30, 2016)
A welcome surprise here, as Storm makes her first appearance at the Ballroom in almost a year, whilst this was Kay Lee’s debut in the building.

The pair start by exchanging wristlocks, before a waistlock sees Storm take down the Scotswoman en route to a battle of front facelocks. Kay Lee grabs a headlock takedown for a near-fall, but Storm works it into some headscissors that Kay Lee escapes. More headscissors, this time from Kay Lee, see her slap Storm’s arse to block an escape, but when the Aussie did get out… she just slapped Ray in the face.

Some pin attempts see Storm and Ray exchange near-falls, with a bridge out of a pin leading to a backslide that Kay Lee turned into a Gory Bomb, but Storm flipped it into a Code Red for another near-fall. An enziguiri from Kay Lee drops Storm, who fires back with a series of chops as Ray’s taken to the corner.

Toni goes all Taguchi on us with hip attacks a-go-go, before she’s rolled-up for a near-fall, only to return with a running hip attack. Kay Lee hits a tornado DDT, but keeps rolling through into a guillotine as Storm goes into the ropes to force a break. We get a tope from Storm after she sidestepped a charge from Kay Lee to the floor… but Storm gets a quick receipt after rolling Ray back in.

They go back to the overhand chops, before a blocked clothesline heads to a leg-hooked German suplex onto Ray, who takes another hip attack in the corner before a Fisherman’s suplex gets a near-fall. Kay Lee headbutts her way free, before surprising Storm with a Gory Bomb, only getting a two-count out of it.

Storm catches Kay Lee up top and picks her up for a Muscle Buster, and bridges her on impact for another near-fall. Kay Lee replied with a superkick, and enziguiri and another Gory Bomb, before looking to add a senton bomb for the win… but despite hitting the bomb, she only gets a two from her eventual cover. Ray follows up on that with another guillotine, but Storm rolls over to try and get a pin, before she powered out of the hold and hit a suplex to free herself.

Another superkick rocks Storm, but she was playing possum as the Aussie cames back with a German suplex then a piledriver for the win. This was a hidden gem that got much better watching on tape – but then again, this shouldn’t have been a surprise given who was involved! ***½

Pete Dunne vs. Fabian Aichner – from PROGRESS Chapter 40: Unboxing Live (December 30, 2016)
Our one and only import on this show came in the form of the Italian Aichner, providing the opposition for an impromptu title match for a less-than-happy Pete Dunne.

Aichner starts with a headlock takedown on Dunne, who frees himself and works into a hammerlock, then an armbar, before rolling the Italian down into a one-count. Dunne works over Aichner’s foot and after some biting, he ties up Aichner in a modified Indian deathlock. A spit from Aichner riles up the champion, who grabs a wristlock, only for Aichner to utilise some see-saw kip-ups to free himself… then get dragged back down by a nose grab from the champion.

Dunne gets an instant receipt, then a spinning heel kick, before Aichner springboards back into the ring with a lariat for a near-fall. A legdrop gets Fabian another two-count, as he then takes Dunne into the corner for some severe chops… but Dunne flies back with a big boot and a release suplex as the tables turn in the champion’s favour.

Peter goes back to the nose as he sets up for a short-DDT, again getting a two-count, as Dunne tries to have a nibble of some Italian fingers… but instead, he just stomps the knee. More chops follow in the corner for Aichner, who returns the favours, before Dunne moonsaults into Aichner, then gets dropkicked to the floor.

The giant Italian goes flying with a springboard High Fly Flow to the floor, then he hits a springboard tornado DDT into the ring that almost wins the match – and the title! Dunne hits back with a snap German off the ropes, but Aichner popped back up, and countered a wheelbarrow roll-up into a wheelbarrow suplex, before getting a lariat for a two count.

Dunne whips Aichner into the corner, as he steps-up into a moonsault… but Aichner’s met with a forearm on the way down as Dunne follows up with a double stomp. Pete still can’t keep any momentum as Aichner reversed a powerbomb, leaving both men laying. They trade forearms from their knees as the pair fight back to their feet, but Dunne finally gets a taste of Aichner’s fingers… and that earns him a Finlay roll. Aichner finally gets that moonsault in, before dumping Dunne with a pumphandle driver for yet another near-fall. Unfortunately, Aichner crashed and burned when he went for a double jump moonsault, which left him open for the Drop Dead (or perhaps “The Bitter End” as Glen Joseph labelled it here) as Dunne took the win. ***¾

Flash Morgan Webster vs. Rampage Brown – from PROGRESS Chapter 60: Unboxing Live! 2 – (December 30, 2017)
After returning in Sheffield, Rampage was back – again with an over-dub – for his first appearance in London in over a year. The last time he was in Camden, he was defending the Atlas title against Bad Bones… ah, how time flies!

Here, he was the second man to be in a “you’re gonna kill the other guy” match after Joe Coffey earlier. Flash looked rather perturbed here, almost like he knew this was a bridge too far, and when his early offence consisted of shoulder blocks that saw him bounce off of Rampage, could you blame him?

Some headscissors took Rampage outside, but when he returned he easily caught a leapfrog and turned it into a scoop slam as Flash was just getting brutalised here… as was the 12 Days of Christmas, which meant that everyone serenading the “12 Days of Rampage” was just prolonging Flash’s misery. See, we did miss him afterall!

A back body drop and a spinebuster keeps Flash on the back foot, but he did manage to mount a little offence, courtesy of the Rude Boy moonsault press. His choice for a backslide was perhaps ill-advised, as Rampage shrugs it off and chains in a powerbomb and a lariat, but he’s able to come in with a Pinball Wizard senton and some Angels’ wings for a near-fall that was decidedly against the run of play.

Flash tried to follow up with a top rope ‘rana, but it’s caught and turned into a murderising powerbomb for a near-fall, before the piledriver bounced Flash into the mat for the win. Perhaps a little disjointed given the chanting in the middle, but this was a statement squash if there ever was one. Welcome back to the Ballroom, Rampage, hopefully we’re not waiting 14 months for the next go around! ***

Jordynne Grace vs. Jinny – from PROGRESS Chapter 82: Unboxing Live! 3 – A Dukla Prague Away Kit (December 30, 2018)
Something something “spidey senses are tingling”? Jinny, who had lost a loser-leaves-town match in EVE two weeks earlier, had a somewhat impromptu title defence against Impact’s Jordynne Grace, with some perhaps wondering “hey, isn’t the last chance we’ll get WWE vs. Impact?”

Granted, this was a match that had been built-up since Grace’s debut in PROGRESS in September, but doing it unannounced felt like hands were forced. Anyway, let’s take a look at the match…

Glen Joseph mentions PROGRESS’ expansion in 2018 – a lot of which probably won’t be repeated in 2019 for, reasons. We start with Grace grounding Jinny early with a hammerlock as the pair worked a ground-based game, with Jinny countering a headlock takedown with headscissors, only for Grace to escape and go right back to the headlock. After blocking a whip to the ropes, Jinny hits a back elbow, only to get caught with a POUNCE ahead of a diving clothesline as the champion looked to be in trouble early. Laura di Matteo pops up on the apron to distract as Grace looked for a death valley driver, allowing Jinny to get free and take over… at least until we’ve another POUNCE! In back to back matches, eh?

Those pounces get Grace a near-fall, before she took Jinny into the corner for a Vader bomb… but di Matteo pulls Jinny out of harm’s way as Nina Samuels came out and brawled to the back with di Matteo. Meanwhile, a STO from Jinny almost ends the match while everyone was distracted, as things bizarrely seemed to peter out. Both women miss charges into the corner, but it’s Jinny who capitalises with a Shibata-ish dropkick for just a one-count, before a series of slams from Grace led to a Michinoku driver that the camera crew missed because of too much zoom. A series of clotheslines from Grace gets cut-off as an Acid Rainmaker from Jinny drew a near-fall. Jinny runs into a big boot as Grace hurls Jinny into the corner for a running double knees, then a sliding back elbow into the same corner, ahead of a Vader Bomb for another near-fall.

From there, Jinny’s lifted into a torture rack, which she rakes the eyes to get free from. The middle rope X-Factor doesn’t quite go to plan but she gets a near-fall nevertheless, before another sliding lariat from Grace is countered into a crucifix for a near-fall. Jinny tries a sunset flip, but Grace pulls her up and into a bearhug, only for a follow-up suplex to get turned into a DDT, then another Acid Rainmaker for a near-fall as the crowd sensed a title change.

Another near-fall comes as Grace gets a Ligerbomb off, but the end quickly followed as a pumphandle driver dumped Jinny on her head – and that’s plenty enough to crown a new champion! My speakers blow out again as Jordynne Grace’s brief run in PROGRESS ended with her going from debut to champion in exactly three months. A pretty good match with a crowd-pleasing finish – now where do you go from here? ***¼

Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate – from PROGRESS Chapter 82: Unboxing Live! 3 – A Dukla Prague Away Kit (December 30, 2018)
Well, why not wrap up 2018 with one of the best matches in 2017 (at least, that was under the WWE umbrella?)

Dunne didn’t come out with the NXT UK title, nor was announced as the champion, which could spark some conspiracy theories. We’ve a tentative start as Dunne took Bate into the ropes, as we’ve got some teases early on while commentary were almost mourning the end of an era. A knucklelock from Dunne took Bate down for a near-fall, which led to an impressive early spo tas Tyler pushed Dunne into a sitting position before he stood up! SWEET JESUS. As much as I loathe the “big strong boi” meme, that is strength!

Dunne takes Tyler down for what looked like the set-up to a bow-and-arrow hold, then into a Romero special set-up that Bate powered out of. After that, the pair keep it on the mat with duelling leg locks, before some grounded headscissors keep Tyler on the mat, at least until he rolled back and into the ropes as we’ve got this rather weird exhibition vibe going on.

There’s a sweet floatover headscissors as Bate took down Dunne in one fluid motion, but it’s too close to the ropes… and Dunne comes up and decks Tyler with a forearm as the technical stuff quickly gave way to some rough housing. An X-plex dumped Bate on the apron, before they return to the ring as punches and boots had Bate in trouble. A vicious strike has Tyler propped into the turnbuckles as Dunne was picking his spots with ease. A single chop from Bate barely fazes Dunne, whose response sends Tyler sailing over the top to the floor like he’d gone out of a cannon. Bate returns to the ring, but he’s caught in a Kimura, which Tyler tries to knee his way out of, before he stood up and ended up escaping by slamming Dunne instead. Things switch up into uppercuts as the pair went back to striking each other, until Tyler connected with a diving European uppercut off the middle rope.

A handspring back elbow into the corner from Bate led to an airplane spin, finishing off with a gorilla press/pop-up uppercut and a German suplex for a near-fall. Bate followed up with some Kawada-style kicks, before some palm strikes left Dunne back on the mat, but Peter backflips over in the corner… and then out of a German suplex before he kicked Bate and dumps him with a sitout powerbomb for a near-fall. With both men on the mat, we’re back to them grappling for a body part before Tyler just hits some ground and pound as the pair began to look spent… but not before Dunne gets up and does the forearm again.

A leaping headbutt from Bate cracks Dunne on the top rope as we almost had our second blood of the night… but Tyler recovers and scores an avalanche Exploder. Dunne’s right back in with a bop/bang of his own before a Bitter End drew a near-fall. From there, the pair engaged in a lengthy strike battle, like a hockey fight, before going nose-to-nose for another series of palm strikes that ended with a Koppo kick and a Tyler Driver from Bate. Dunne kicked out at two from that, then went outside and into the path of a hands-free plancha from Bate on the floor. They’re back in the ring, with Dunne stamping on Bate’s hand first, before they’re back to palm strikes as Dunne swats away a rebound lariat, ahead of a counter as a rebound lariat was turned into a German suplex. At the third time of asking, the rebound lariat connects, sending both men onto the apron as Dunne’s biting and roughness ended up with Bate dropping him onto the edge of the ring with a German suplex.

Dunne clings onto the ring apron, but Bate releases the grip and tries for a Tyler Driver on the floor. That’s escaped as a forearm sent Bate into the crowd, where he’s quickly pulled from as a tombstone on the floor lands… then a Better End in the ring as Bate kicked out at two again. Hammerfists to the side of Tyler’s head follow as he tried to cover up, with Dunne escalating into repeated stomps before both men looked for each other’s finishers, with Bate’s Bitter End getting countered into a DDT. Bate then counters a Better End into a tombstone, before chaining it into a package Tyler Driver for a near-fall. A Spiral Tap off the top is next, but Dunne kicks out, so Bate returns the favour from earlier some some more stomps. Paintbrushing swipes of the boot follow as Tyler “does a Peter”, then throws away his gumshield as he looked to go for a knockout… but Dunne catches a punch and turns it into a triangle armbar, then snaps away on the fingers once as Tyler instantly taps out.

I have no idea how to “rate” that. Compared to their other matches, this was a massive disappointment. One to file under “technically sound”, but they had so much working against them. The bombshell of them leaving being announced before the match killed the crowd, who looked like they either didn’t want to be there or perhaps didn’t want to believe what was happening… but then again the exhibition-style, at times too-deliberately-paced match was just not what they wanted to see when they were originally touted a “rematch of the best match of this era of British wrestling.” By their standards, they laid an egg, but this wasn’t normal circumstances either… ***

Trent Seven & Tyler Bate vs. Dan Moloney & Rampage Brown – from PROGRESS Chapter 100: Unboxing Live! 4 – A New Hope (December 30, 2019)
This was Tyler’s first visit to the Ballrom since last year’s funereal send-off match… luckily, the reaction for him this time around was MUCH brighter. We’ve got overdubs for Rampage Brown’s music (which begs the question, why can’t that be the way always, even if you can sorta hear it?). The music’s right. Through delirium, it will be heard!

If you want to be a cynic, we can ask “is Dan Moloney really the politically neutral Great O-Khan?”, as some dubbed this a battle of OTT and kinda-Rev Pro’s tag champions. Remember when Trent Seven picked Dan Moloney for the NPS? Anyway, we get going with Tyler using an armdrag to take down Moloney, before tags brought in Trent and Dan as they went in for shoulder tackles. Trent switches it up with chops, but that don’t impress Rampage, who just hits a DDT… before Moloney came in and got suckered into a DDT as well.

Trent’s retiring crossbody takes Moloney down ahead of a legdrop for a two-count, before Tyler came in to hit a flip senton off of Trent’s shoulders for a near-fall. A Black Hole slam leads to tags as Tyler runs into a slam from Rampage, who proceeds to dropkick Trent right in the mush, before Tyler struggled to lift up Rampage, eventually getting him up for an airplane spin. Moloney tags straight back in as Trent returns to trade chops, before Dan looked to go for a Drilla piledriver, only for Tyler to blind tag in and hit a Tyler Driver for a near-fall. Dan stops a rebound lariat, but it works at the second time as he’s taken into a Dragon suplex, with Trent diving into Rampage with a slide under the bottom rope… only to get DDT’d onto the floor from it.

Trent recovers to go for a Birming-Hammer, but Moloney slips out as Rampage hits a piledriver behind the ref’s back… followed up by a Drilla on Trent as Tyler broke it all up with a stomp. Tyler’s tossed outside, but he’s back as Moloney’s kicked off the top rope and into the clutches of Trent as a stomp-assisted Birming-Hammer gets the win. A lovely sprint of a match, and one I’d have liked to have gone on longer but… y’know. ***

The final score: review Good
The 411
PROGRESS' Unboxing shows were usually an enjoyable mystery show to end the year with - and while the later editions were starting to feel like farewells (particularly given the changing landscape with contracts and what have you), there were some good outings to be found in this compilation.

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PROGRESS, Ian Hamilton