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Hamilton’s Best of WALTER in PROGRESS Report (10.10.20)

February 19, 2021 | Posted by Ian Hamilton
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Hamilton’s Best of WALTER in PROGRESS Report (10.10.20)  

A reminder: these are old reviews, and while I’ve not updated names but I’ve done my best to remove mentions of people here who are on that suspected persona non-grata list…

WALTER vs. Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher – from PROGRESS Chapter 55: Chase The Sun (September 10, 2017)
Riddle regained the Atlas title in New York during PROGRESS’ rather problematic tour, having originally lost it to WALTER in Birmingham a month earlier. If you thought this was going to be a 2-on-1 RINGKAMPF handicap match, you’d be proven wrong here – despite Riddle fighting off RINGKAMPF at the start, the competition between those two was equally as keen.

Both Riddle and Thatcher showed that WALTER could be taken off the ground, so we weren’t all left with sympathy chest pains after a myriad of chops amongst all three men. Well, when WALTER wasn’t kicking his sometime-tag partner full-on in the face, anyway…

Eventually WALTER got fed up of getting chopped by Riddle and just kicked his legs away, before a third German suplex finally proved to be the limit for Matthew’s “you can’t German suplex me” powers. Throughout the match, the only one who seemed to have no obvious vulnerability was WALTER – yes, he could be taken off his feet, but he just kept getting back up to hit harder than he’d take.

Well, except when Matt Riddle crushed WALTER with a back senton off the top rope, to break up a rear naked choke on Thatcher. A Bro to Sleep and a German suplex nearly wins it, but Thatcher breaks it up as we enter the “we break up everything” phase of things, before a Gotch-style tombstone on Thatcher gets… a two-count, because WALTER would rather dump Riddle with a German suplex, then a big boot and a powerbomb.

Super Riddle pops up from that though, and runs into a brutal lariat before replying with some knee strikes… only for his attempt to pull WALTER off the top for a tombstone backfired horrible, as the Austrian turned it into a sit-out tombstone… Riddle’s dumped on his head, and that’s enough for WALTER to get his second Atlas title. Wonderful stuff – and potentially the last we’ll see of WALTER and Riddle for a while, which in a sense is good, but I’m going to miss seeing that match. ****¼

WALTER vs. Timothy Thatcher – from PROGRESS Chapter 62: Fear No More, Come To Dust (January 28, 2018)
This match wasn’t as much a main event live, but something akin to a religious experience. Timothy Thatcher earned his title shot back in October… and he wasn’t exactly shy about cashing in his shot against fellow RINGKAMPF member WALTER. Even if it meant that there was a very real chance that he’d get his chest caved in.

Going at over 20 minutes, this was one of those matches that words cannot do justice. If you’re fan of the current style of hard hitting wrestling, with plenty of chops (and believe me, there were a LOT of those in this one), then you’re going to love this. If you’re not, then you’ll probably be one of the few who’ll fall out with this particular match. Within five minutes WALTER had chopped Thatcher’s chest so hard he had drawn blood, leading to continual brawls around the ring, where Thatcher wisely neutralised the Austrian’s hand by throwing it into the ring post and into some chairs.

Problem was, in the ring WALTER always seemed to be a step ahead as those heavy chops took Thatcher down with ease every time he had a spell on defence. Thatcher’s variety of suplexes and submissions did get him a chance… but one lariat from WALTER produced what Fire Pro Wrestling would call a CRITICAL. Despite that though, Timmy had enough left in him to grab another armbar, but WALTER got free and just pounded Thatcher’s chest some more before a sit-out tombstone almost put Thatcher away… In the end though, WALTER’s wheelhouse of clotheslines and powerbombs were enough as Thatcher was finally put down for the three-count.

Yeah, I’ve not done blow-by-blow, move-for-move on this. Watching it back, my chest hurt too much sympathetically to do that. Carve 20-odd minutes out of your time and watch this. Such beauty. Such violence. Such pain. All in the name of giving us der beste Sportlicheleitung. Indeed, die Matte ist Heilig! *****

WALTER vs. Tyler Bate – from PROGRESS Chapter 76: Hello Wembley (September 30, 2018)
Both men had folks in their corner, as WALTER had Timothy Thatcher by his side, while Tyler was accompanied by the rest of British Strong Style.

After the obligatory staredown, we started with WALTER throwing Bate with ease from a simple headlock. Tyler was the early favourite with the crowd, but he really struggled to get into gear as WALTER easily lifts him onto the apron from a gutwrench. Bate manages to rock WALTER with a dropkick, as commentary pretty much tells us that the prelude to the “big strong boi” really was a “Conor McGregor knock-off” routine.

Another headlock keeps Tyler on the mat, as WALTER again made the most of the side difference. Bate tries to hit back with flying shoulder tackles, before WALTER’s bid a receipt saw him leap into a bodyslam as we got the Andre slam! Tyler stays on WALTER like a terrier, using some Junkyard Dog like headbutts before an attempt at a diving European uppercut was met with a chop in mid-air.

WALTER begins to rough-up Tyler after that, going for a surfboard stretch with some boots to the back of the head. A quick reversal takes WALTER into the ropes, where Bate teases a deadlift German suplex… only to get chopped. Thanks for coming! A STF keeps Bate grounded, as WALTER seemed to be having fun in disposing of his latest challenger. Tyler tries to fight back with chops, but WALTER just lifts him up and chokes him across the top turnbuckle, sending him sailing to the floor once more. Bate again tries to fight back, taking WALTER outside for a tope, but he’s met with another chop before a back suplex drops him on the apron. Somehow, Bate’s able to hit a suplex on the outside, before he connected with a hands-free plancha!

WALTER’s rolled back inside, and this turns into a slugfest as Tyler unloads with right hands, before ducking a reply… and catching WALTER in an airplane spin! A running shooting star press is good for a near-fall, before Tyler looks to chain together some rebound lariats, only to be clotheslined himself as going to the well once too often almost led to his downfall. A brainbuster keeps the flow going for a near-fall from WALTER, but Bate’s got more feats of strength to show off, as he pulls WALTER out of the corner into a torture rack attempt. He loses that and quickly takes a shotgun dropkick, then a powerbomb as the champion pressed the issue, following up with a series of chops as he clung onto Tyler’s wrist. Bate escapes and goes back to some kicks, before catching WALTER with bop and bang… only to get caught with a palm strike. He shrugs that off and deadlifts WALTER into a German suplex, but it’s still not enough!

More palm strikes from Bate leave WALTER in a heap on the mat, but again he’s back with a wrenching STF, using a cravat instead of a crossface for extra pain. WALTER cranks it up a little, almost getting a nose bleed as he heads up top for a big splash as Bate still wouldn’t stay down, as he still had fight left in him. A mounted rear naked choke looked to squeeze out what was left of WALTER’s spirit, but WALTER climbs the ropes and falls backwards to break free.

WALTER keeps up with the high risk stuff, swapping headbutts on the top rope before swatting Tyler down to the mat. The Austrian’s going back up top though, and gets met with a dropkick as Tyler manages to pull off… a spinning torture rack?! Jesus wept, that’s impressive… but Bate falls out of the ring with dizziness, before recovering and hitting a Tyler Driver for another two-count! The follow-up continues with a Spiral Tap, but Bate misses, gets caught in a Gojira clutch, and has WALTER take his back… but somehow Tyler stands up and falls to his back to break it! Not to worry, WALTER’s right back with the hold. Bate tries to flip over out of the corner, but it’s not enough, as WALTER kicks out, boots him in the head, then reapplies the Gojira as the crowd roared with Tyler firing back up… only to get dumped with a sit-out tombstone as WALTER ended things just like that.

As much as I am indifferent to the whole “big strong boi” tag line, it’s undeniable that Tyler Bate’s strength is impressive. Whether it was displayed through airplane spins, spinning torture racks, or hurking up a 300+ pound Austrian for a Tyler Driver. It’s all stuff that regular sized folks struggle with, so for a 21 year old like Tyler to be doing it with relative ease is mind boggling. That said… I’ve found it a struggle as of late to form any sort of connection with the character, meaning I was more into the “wow, that is strong” and the “ow, those chops really DO ring around the arena” moments. In spite of that, this was a suitably epic main event for Wembley – one that showed how far Tyler Bate had come… but still fell short of the big one. ****¼

WALTER vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – from PROGRESS Chapter 77: Pumpkin Spice PROGRESS (October 27, 2018)
We start with Sabre circling WALTER, looking for an opening to try and get at the champion – eventually grabbing a front facelock as WALTER was taken into the corner… and caught a kick as Sabre tried to sneak something in. WALTER grabs a butterflied guillotine, but it ends in the corner as he swung and missed with a chop, as he loomed over Sabre as he backed away.

WALTER takes the match to the mat, grabbing a headlock on Sabre, who tries to find a spare body part to negotiate an exit with, but nothing was going as WALTER squeezed the headlock tighter as the split crowd continued to chant between Sabre and WALTER. They stop those chants as Sabre gets free, before he avoids a back senton and misses with a head kick as we weren’t getting a repeat of a crowd from a few weeks earlier. Sabre returns to the ring but he’s straight into a stretch from WALTER, who uses his knee to almost tweak the neck as his power advantage neutralised a reversal attempt. Somehow he manages to counter into an abdominal stretch, but WALTER hiptosses free as Sabre again powders to the outside to put as much distance between himself and the Austrian. Problem was, back in the ring, Sabre walked back into a strait-jacket choke as WALTER continued to wear him down, again nullifying escape attempts.

Again Sabre finds an escape, rolling WALTER in with a crucifix as he quickly turned the match around. From the kick-out, Sabre goes for WALTER’s arm, fighting his way into a cross armbreaker, before he swiveled around him to apply another hold, this time twisting the arm while pinning the ankles down. Zack looks to go for a bow and arrow hold, but WALTER quickly flips out and pins Sabre… who bridges up, and quickly gets stomped on as Zack’s defiance looked to instantly put him at risk, as that stomp compromised the neck.

WALTER instantly goes after it, cranking the neck as Sabre was forced to go for the ropes… only for an elbow to drop him in the corner. More defiance equals more strikes as WALTER swats Sabre back down to the mat, following up with a Boston crab before going for a crossface choke as Sabre clung onto the leg. Zack looked to be in major trouble here, as his offence had ground to a halt after that bridge was kicked away… and it wasn’t helped when WALTER twisted Sabre’s neck between his legs. Sabre tries to kick his way back in, but WALTER quickly kicks him back into the corner… where another strike battle just ends with Sabre being lifted onto the turnbuckles, then chopped to the floor. WALTER tries to boot Zack off the apron, but he’s hung up in the ropes as Sabre targets the leg… then catches a chop as he tried to force his way back in, going after WALTER’s legs and arms with a series of kicks. A leg sweep and a PK left WALTER down, but Sabre can’t go for the cover, and instead has to continue the offence as he went for WALTER’s legs and arms once more.

A heel hook quickly ends in the ropes, as WALTER came back and tried to choke Sabre’s life away… Zack escaped and goes back to the arm, before a leaping back elbow’s caught… and eventually countered as WALTER went back to the neck to try and counter the Euro clutch. The counter wrestling continues, with Sabre again stomping on WALTER’s arm, which led to an instant chop. He dead. Sabre got back up, but he’s knocked into the ropes by WALTER as a strike battle broke out. A slap from Sabre just angered the Austrian, who replies with another elbow, then another palm strike as Sabre was forced to escape a Gojira clutch. He goes back down to the mat as he grabs an ankle lock on WALTER… who just stands up and turns into a Boston crab as it turns out you can fight your way out of an ankle lock. That’s turned into a STF as the crowd started to turn on WALTER, perhaps sensing that the champion was a little too dominant.

Crossface punches in the ropes follow as Sabre’s left lifeless… but he grabs another opportunity as he blocks a punch, wraps WALTER’s arm in the ropes and kicks it. Somehow, WALTER’s right back with a Gojira clutch, but with a damaged arm WALTER can’t lock it in, and he’s quickly caught in a Euro clutch for a near-fall. Sabre tries to follow up with a PK, but WALTER counters with a German suplex, then a butterfly suplex for a near-fall – as it felt that both men had given a lot, but were nowhere near a definitive end.

We’re back to the strikes as Sabre’s palm strikes rang around the Ballroom… but WALTER still had a working leg, and he just booted Zack’s face off. A powerbomb perhaps wasn’t the best follow up as Sabre counters into a guillotine, but he can’t get the Kimura on as WALTER counters into a leaping tombstone instead. From the mat, WALTER got up first as he looked to throw more chops (zoomed in a little too much!) as he grabs hold of Sabre to ensure he didn’t get too far away. Chop. Pull-up. Chop. Pull-up. Chop. A knee keeps Sabre defiantly in the ropes, so WALTER puts another knee through his chest, before a Fire Thunder Driver was countered into a triangle armbar from Sabre. WALTER can’t quite powerbomb free, and it allows Sabre back into an omoplata, switching through submissions a-plenty until WALTER rolled his way into the ropes.

Sabre keeps up with kicks and palm strikes, but one of WALTER’s easily seemed to outdo Zack’s strikes. There’s a murderous lariat to the back of Sabre’s head, which led to a Gojira clutch… but somehow Sabre clings on, only to get met with a folding powerbomb for another near-fall! Zack has to avoid another Fire Thunder Driver, but his counter into a Euro clutch quickly gives way because of the neck damage from earlier… something that was barely referenced in commentary. WALTER goes back with a side headlock, before he clubbed away on Sabre’s neck en route to a cravat.

Sabre got hold of the fingers, but another lariat stops the finger work as WALTER struck his way out and spiked Zack with a Fire Thunder Driver for the win. Exquisite stuff, and we expected no less. Whether you truly believed Sabre “really” had a chance of winning depends on how much you can shut off your brain in terms of “if New Japan pulled Sabre from the original title shot, can he really return regularly as a champion?” While you may pick a bone with how in among the hyperbole, commentary totally whiffed on “Sabre did a needless neck bridge, had it kicked away and compromised himself”, this was another excellent contest between two of the best in the world. No hyperbole. ****¾

WALTER vs. Mark Haskins – from PROGRESS Chapter 78: 24 Hour PROGRESS People (November 11, 2018)
WALTER’s only faced Haskins once before in singles action – all the way back in 2011’s 16 Carat Gold tournament, in a quarter final match, which WALTER won en route to the final.

WALTER squares up to Haskins before the bell, but the challenger showed no fear as he slapped the champion as he looked to pick his spots. Haskins goes for WALTER’s arm, but the Austrian doesn’t go down easy, so Haskins throws a couple of chops… before he’s met with a shoulder charge. Haskins barely avoids an elbow drop as he throws in some more kicks, which end with a single CHOP from WALTER.

WALTER throws some receipts for those earlier kicks, following up with the crossface punches in the ropes as Haskins spills to the outside where he’s met with a kick to the face before he avoids a back suplex on the apron. Haskins goes back in for a dive, but WALTER catches and chops him, before we get the brutal leapfrog/big boot from the Austrian, which can’t have done that neck any good.

WALTER stays in the ring as Haskins had to get up and beat a count-out, but he’s right back under the boot of WALTER, who followed up by scooping Haskins across the top turnbuckle for a chop and a standing boot choke, as he made this look rather too easy. So much so that Haskins has to fight back, and he does with a barrage of kicks that finally chopped down the proverbial tree that was WALTER, taking him into the corner as that flurry seemed to drain Haskins a little. Charging uppercuts keep WALTER in the corner, before Haskins leapt over a shotgun dropkick catching a falling WALTER with a double stomp on the way down! Haskins catches WALTER in the ropes, but a roll-up for a Sharpshooter’s countered with a small package for a near-fall, before Haskins rebounded with a bridging armbar that WALTER escaped with a simple headlock.

A powerbomb from WALTER’s countered out into a DDT, sending the Austrian outside for a misdirection tope, which Haskins followed up with a double stomp that misses. WALTER instantly capitalises with a shotgun dropkick, then a powerbomb for a near-fall, as Haskins was immediately back on the defensive, as WALTER had his number once more. Another kick’s caught and turned into a Boston crab, then a STF, but that just served to have the crowd get even more behind the challenger. Chops from WALTER have Haskins reeling, but a kick to the head and a double stomp saw him eke out a near-fall. More kicks keep WALTER down, as he absorbs PK after PK, before a roll-through for a death valley driver gets stopped in its tracks with a Gojira clutch. Haskins breaks free of it and goes back to the arm, with the bridging armbar forcing WALTER to get a foot to the ropes to keep his title. Perhaps out of desperation, WALTER’s going for more chops, but Haskins ducks them and rolls him up for a Sharpshooter, prompting a huge pop from the Manchester crowd!

WALTER nearly gets free, but he manages to reach back and grab Haskins’ compromised neck as he switches out into a crossface as Haskins suddenly needed the rope for freedom. A big boot takes Haskins back outside as you sensed the crowd knew his chance was gone, even more so when Haskins takes a brainbuster from the floor to the apron as WALTER increased the focus on the neck… returning to the ring for a jumping tombstone that somehow Haskins kicked out of! More paw swipe from WALTER has Haskins in trouble, as does a lariat to the back of the head before a Fire Thunder Driver sealed the deal. There was a moment of doubt, but WALTER retained the title as a game Haskins pushed him a little… but in the end, it was not enough. ****

WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov – from PROGRESS Chapter 92: Entertaining Friends (July 7, 2019)
In the last little while, Ilja’s had WALTER’s number – beating him to win 16 Carat Gold in 2017, and hasn’t lost to him in singles action since, in a series of classics over the wXw unified title. Of course, in that same universe, he and WALTER are buddies…

There’s LOUD duelling chants before the bell as the crowd were really looking forward to this one. WALTER tries to rough up Ilja early, but when he got shoved back, the Austrian was quick to moan, as Dragunov ended up falling into the path of some heavy strikes from WALTER, before he avoided an elbow drop on the way to a stand-off. An attempt at the leapfrog/boot by WALTER’s thwarted by Ilja’s crossbody as Dragunov knew WALTER better than he knew himself it seemed.

Ilja turns up the tempo by diving on WALTER outside, before a back senton back inside drew a near-fall… but WALTER struck back just as quickly, throwing Ilja into the ropes as Dragunov snapped his head off the mat on the way to the outside. The referee tries to protect Ilja, but WALTER just puts the boots in before he dumped Ilja onto the edge of the ring with a powerbomb. There’s more of that too as WALTER just hurls Ilja into the ring post, as Dragunov was finding it tough to just stay in the match. Still, that gets the crowd behind him as he absorbed more and more punishment, including a chop that almost made Ilja punch-drunk… bringing him back to his feet only to take a hanging DDT off the top rope by WALTER. Eventually Ilja got an opening and caught WALTER with a suplex, which brought the crowd to their feet. Now THAT’S what I call hope!

An enziguiri followed as WALTER’s on the defensive, with an Ode to Konstantin clothesline almost completing a hurried turnaround. Chops from Ilja are quickly stopped by a big boot from WALTER, leaving the challenger on the apron as clubbering crossface forearms followed. One’s caught as Ilja begins to swell up, eventually making a comeback with a big German suplex to leave both men down. Unfortunately Ilja went for a diving clothesline, only to get swatted away as WALTER hit a clothesline of his own, then a Fire Thunder driver for a near-fall… so a STF proceeded to trap Ilja in the middle of the ring. Dragunov’s still got fight left in him though, as a chop made WALTER wince… but not as much as the response did. More chops from Ilja seemed to precede a Torpedo Moscau… but WALTER caught it and turned it into a rear naked choke… only for Ilja to stand him up and come back with a death valley driver in the middle of the ring!

Dragunov couldn’t get the pin though, so he tries for a piledriver… but WALTER sandbags himself, so Ilja just drops him with a lariat instead. A massive Ligerbomb stuns the crowd for another near-fall, before a Torpedo Moscau connected… which seemingly aggravated Ilja’s neck some more, as WALTER endss up rolling onto the apron to avoid getting pinned. Undeterred, Ilja dragged WALTER through the ropes for a flying dropkick, taking the champion back in… only for WALTER to catch him with another clothesline, then a folding powerbomb… but it’s not enough! More clotheslines drop Dragunov, but he kicks out at one. Glen screams™. Another clothesline follows… and that’s it. When you put these two in the ring against each other, you’re guaranteed an absolute classic – and while this didn’t have quite the cache as their wars in wXw, the bell-to-bell was superb. Ilja’s had a cracking weekend, but he leaves without any gold as WALTER walked away with the same three belts he arrived with. ****½

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
While WALTER perhaps isn’t a long-term figurehead in PROGRESS, this probably was the box set I’d have come out of the gates with. Sure, you’re looking at a load of matches presented without much context in terms of storylines (but that’s usually the case with these best-ofs), but the stuff between the bells here was a delight. An honest-to-God 5-star special with Timothy Thatcher (that I was lucky to be there for), a ****¾ classic with Zack Sabre Jr., and nothing going below that four-star floor tells you this is well worth your time.

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