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Natural PROGRESSion: PROGRESS Chapter 23: What A Time To Be Alive!

August 13, 2016 | Posted by Jake St-Pierre
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Natural PROGRESSion: PROGRESS Chapter 23: What A Time To Be Alive!  

Last time out, we saw PROGRESS transition into really what it sought out to be; a promotion built on its wrestling merits, rather than the joyous barbarism Jimmy Havoc brought to the table. Not that either are necessarily the correct way of doing things, but that’s the way I saw it panning out. And it never hurts to name a new show after the tremendous Drake and Future mixtape either (which in turn is named after the ever-common saying), so I’d say PROGRESS is on quite the roll. We saw a healthy dose of comedy, but at the same time we saw what I rank as the best match of my PROGRESS journey so far in Tommaso Ciampa vs. Mark Haskins. And Ciampa, despite his WWE ties, returns for Chapter 23 in what is sure to be a barnburner with newly heel Marty Scurll. Not to mention, we have Mark Andrews’ triumphant return to try and reclaim what was wrenched out of his hands as he faces Will Ospreay for the PROGRESS Title, and the Sumerian Death Squad – easily the MVP’s of the undercard in these past three Chapters – has a triple threat tag match to worry about against The Origin and The London Riots. So without further ado…

We are TAPED from the Electric Ballroom in London, England.

Your hosts are Glen Joseph and RJ Singh.

As ever, Jim Smallman and “For Whom The Bell Tolls” welcome us to the show. Smallman isn’t too happy that Jon won’t let him name the next show “Chat Shit Get Banged.” A fan named Nick suggests “Chat Shit Get Slammed”, which Jon gives a hearty thumbs down. But fear not, Chapter 25 is able to bear the namesake, and thank the Gods for it. Jim then pulls off a super classy move, asking the crowd to give a round of applause to a regular audience member who had passed away shortly before the show. He gives a Paul Heyman-esque speech, putting over the crowd before transitioning into the first match…

Rampage Brown vs. Big Daddy Walter
If you’ve been following my journey into PROGRESS, you’ll know that we’ve seen Rampage Brown in various forms. Mostly as a bit player in the background of the Thunderbastard or GZRs matches, but he’s been present nonetheless. I’ve yet to come across Big Daddy Walter aside from a couple matches I saw of the SSS16, and even then I can hardly saw I was able to pin down his true ability. His physique resembles what mine will probably look like around age 40, but that’s didn’t really seem to stop Dick Murdoch, ya know? And hey, who doesn’t love a good HOSS FIGHT?

Walter eats a few chops early and looks at Rampage in a way I hope a man even half his size never looks at me. They trade some stiff shots before Rampage resorts to using speed to drop the Austrian with a dropkick. Rampage dives off the second turnbuckle with a shoulderblock. Walter hits a huge Ass Drop that makes Mojo Rawley look like Kelly Kelly, and he’s in firm control. Walter whips Rampage into the corner AND BREAKS THE RING!~! We’re barely four minutes into the opener and these two big fucks already destroyed the ring. Walter could literally not care less and tries to powerbomb Rampage on the floor, but Walter takes a backdrop on the floor instead. Rampage can’t quite lift the big guy up, so Walter slinks down and mauls the former champ with a lariat. Walter looks for another one, but his momentum carries him into a sweet spinebuster from Rampage, which only gets a nearfall. Rampage looks for the Piledriver, but Walter counters out and MANHANDLES Brown with a powerbomb. Walter misses a first rope splash, and Rampage uses that to finally hit the Piledriver for the win in a fun 7 minutes. **1/4 I’d imagine in a main event – or even co-main situation – these men could pull out something pretty awesome, but as an opener for a PROGRESS show this will do. And luckily for both men, the ring breaking didn’t seem to be much of a hindrance as Rampage and Walter mostly just traded big strikes and power moves until the finish, so hey. In context of the show, this was a complete success.

Rampage and Walter lay into eachother with slaps after the match, but end up shaking hands after probably realizing neither man would like to fuck with the other when they’re not contractually obligated to.

Jim Smallman talks while the ring crew fixes the carnage.

Shen Woo vs. Damon Moser vs. Jack Sexsmith
Shen Woo looks like he’s getting ready to job to Braun Strowman at any minute, and the name Jack Sexsmith sounds like Sexton Hardcastle and Major Gunns had a child. Damon Moser we saw at Chapter 20 in a pretty enjoyable three-way, so one out of three ain’t bad…

Sexsmith absolutely steals the show, coming out with THE GIMP FROM PULP FICTION complete with “Comanche” and everything… and then it transitions into “I Touch Myself” from Divinyls! Jesus Christ. I’m not sure this Tarantino reference matches Jimmy Havoc’s “Stuck In The Middle With You” rendition, but it’ll do, by God. This dude is like Dalton Castle if he got touched as a child and it RULES. I’ve seen a lot of wrestling in my 23 years on this Earth, and I think this is the peak. Shen Woo says enough of this shit, and jumps Sexsmith from behind (ha, get it?) to start the match. Shen Woo stops a Sexsmith tope in its tracks with a forearm mid-stride, and he’s in firm control. Moser breaks up the fight with a Knee Trembler on Shen Woo for a two count. Woo fights back and gives him a barrage of huge kicks to the chest before poking him in the eye and putting in a Boston Crab! Sexsmith comes in and hilariously taps the mat to fool Shen Woo into thinking Moser tapped before Woo exposes him! It’s a full moon in Camden! STINKFACE TO SHEN WOO!~! He tries to do it to Moser, who “sticks” a dildo up his ass! I absolutely, one hundred percent am giving you the objective happenings of this match and am in no way exaggerating. HERE’S MR. COCKO! Damon Moser couldn’t give a fuck less and he cracks Shen Woo with a Knee Trembler for the win in an… odd 7 minutes. ?? I genuinely haven’t the slightest goddamned clue of what I just saw.

Mark Haskins vs. Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson is coming off of a super fun main event with Will Ospreay at Chapter 22 after beating his former leader Jimmy Havoc to earn it, while Haskins has had some of the most impressive performances I’ve seen in ages with his matches against the aforementioned Ospreay and the MOTYC for 2015 with Tommaso Ciampa. I’m not quite sure what to expect from this, but I don’t see a world where it isn’t at least fun.

Haskins takes Robinson to the mat immediately, overwhelming him from Jump Street. Crowd pipes in with a hilarious “Use Your Safe Word” chant before Robinson resorts to just pounding away on Haskins in the corner. Robinson misses a 540 Kick, and Haskins rolls right into a Sharpshooter for his troubles. Haskins keeps schooling Robinson on the mat, so Paul uses some underhanded tactics to finally gain some traction. Robinson’s toying with the crowd earns him a barrage of kicks from Haskins before eating a slingshot corner dropkick! Robinson looks for the Curb Stomp, but Haskins dodges and nails a Half and Half for two! Robinson dodges a few kicks from Haskins, but Haskins persists and puts in a nasty Rings of Saturn! Robinson does the Johnny Gargano rolling kick, but due to its utter awfulness, only gets 2. Robinson tries to spit in Haskins’ face, which earns him a Triangle Choke! Haskins climbs the second rope, but Robinson pushes the referee into the ropes to knock him down! Robinson hits that awesome double jump Curb Stomp, followed by a springboard forearm for 2. Haskins catches a springboarding Robinson with a nasty Ligerbomb, and a bridging Fujiwara Armbar gets Haskins the win in 14 minutes. *** This is probably the least impressive I’ve seen Mark Haskins look thus far, but it wasn’t due to anything he or Paul Robinson did. It was the third match on the card after all, and in a storyline driven promotion, you can’t really have MOTYC’s in every match. This was still a fun little bout, filled with a bunch of cool little storytelling quirks like Robinson having to use his brawling to even find a modicum of momentum while Haskins was able to take Robinson down to the mat and grind him out at will. So all in all, maybe not the most adrenaline-filled encounter we’ll ever see but it did enough to keep me interested.

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Marty Scurll
Marty Scurll has turned into quite the prick as these Chapters have worn on, first turning on Kris Travis before cheating his way into a victory over Flash Morgan Webster at Chapter 22. Tommaso Ciampa wasn’t exactly happy about this, so he offered his services to face the Villain here tonight, and what ensues should be something pretty damn great…

Scurll interrupts Psycho Killer and Pearl Harbors Tommaso with his umbrella! Scurll gets a wuick two count off of a running uppercut, and here we go. He locks in the Chickenwing, but Ciampa is able to get the ropes with his toes. Ciampa catches a Scurll Lope and rams him into the ringpost in suplex position! Tommaso starches the Villain with some chops and a running knee in the corner. Ciampa looks for Air Raid Crash off of the top rope, but Scurll slips out and gives him a pair of powerbombs for two. Ciampa and Scurll trade Chickenwing attempts, but Scurll rolls out and snaps Tommaso’s fingers! Scurll takes Ciampa outside, and hangs him off the apron for a running knee. Tommaso fights back in the ring with a barrage of nasty chops, earning an ovation from the crowd after Scurll collapses in pain. Scurll necks Tommaso on the top rope before giving him a scoop slam into the ropes, stopping the Psycho Killer’s momentum immediately. Tommaso throws some leather back and eventually drops the Villain with a rope-hung Flatliner! They trade attempts at a suplex until Ciampa is finally able to heave the Villain up, followed by a feint suplex into the knee. Marty escapes Project Ciampa and looks for a running uppercut, but Ciampa cuts him off and hits Project Ciampa! Marty kicks out! Scurll enzuigiris Ciampa off of the apron and superkicks him on the floor, and follows with a superplex in the ring! They trade forearms from their knees, and gradually escalate as they rise. Marty feints a chop, but instead hits an underhanded knee, but Ciampa rolls out of a Chickenwing! An initial Discus Lariat misses for Ciampa, but he catches the Villain on the rebound with a regular lariat! Marty shoves Ciampa into referee Chris Roberts and tries the old Eddie Guerrero trick with his umbrella, but Ciampa breaks it over his back for 2! Scurll looks for the Chickenwing, but Ciampa tumbles out of the ring with him. Ciampa sets Scurll in the front row, and he knees the Villain into the fifth row! In the meantime, Ciampa just tears up the ring Brock Lesnar style… but Scurll spits water in Ciampa’s eyes! Scurll strangles Ciampa with the ring bungee, and the bungee-assisted Chickenwing gives Scurll the win in 19 minutes. *** As disappointed as I am to admit this, this did not come near the level I know these guys are capable of achieving. It seemed to me as if this new big heel character of Marty’s values storytelling over great matches, and to a point that’s okay. After all, wrestling is at heart, a storyteller’s profession. That’s why a guy without an athletic bone in his body like CM Punk or the like are able to succeed in such a way if they have the right mind for wrestling. But here, I’m not quite convinced that the match Scurll and Ciampa had here was worth the sacrifice of what PROGRESS essentially promised as being a special barnburner of a match. As it wore on, this bout seemed pretty disjointed, lacked cohesion, and never seemed to build to anything resembling a climax and failed to really captivate this usually rabid PROGRESS crowd as a result. To me, it read as a WWE house show main event, just without the match restart and triumphant babyface victory, combined with a puzzingly contrived finish. I’m willing to let it slide because despite the qualms I have, Marty did a wonderful job of sticking to his Villain character at every turn. It didn’t matter what he was doing and how he was doing it; he was the biggest heel on the roster from even before the bell to the finish. And that’s commitment I find impossible to not recognize and it did its damndest in trying to make up for the match’s other transgressions. But as a match and a linear narrative, these two were all over the place and never seemed to click and it largely falls behind the incredible Haskins/Ciampa match the previous show.

PROGRESS Tag Titles: Sumerian Death Squad © vs. The Origin vs. The London Riots
While the finish of the SDS/Riots vs. Origin match last month was a mess, the match before it left me satisfied enough to be interested in this triple threat tag. The SDS have generally been the highlights of PROGRESS’s undercard, having tremendous outings against Roderick Strong & Adam Cole as well as the Hunter Brothers. The Origin have slowly showed themselves out to be the big bad heel faction in PROGRESS, a role the London Riots used to be embroiled in before Regression imploded. So this has a lot of storyline ramifications, and hopefully there’s something here to sink my teeth into on a pretty underwhelming show thus far.

The match takes FOREVER to start as The Origin stalls… and stalls… and FUCKING STALLS. Tommy and Cruz finally start things off, but James Davis blind tags End before much can get going. El Ligero tags in and sends James Davis to the outside, where Dave Mastiff throws on a headlock of his own despite just managing. He hilariously does a headlock takeover on the floor for no other reason than he’s THE BASTARD~! Chris Roberts has enough of that shit, and sends Mastiff to the back. For some reason Tommy End takes the mic and gloriously says, “Did you come here for this boring bullshit? Me either” and he bashes Nathan Cruz with the mic. It’s a Pier Six Brawl! The Riots and SDS dispose of The Origin, and they face off! Ligero and Cruz delightfully snake their way into ruining the moment, and it’s back to the outside again. HUGE ORIHARA MOONSAULT FROM TOMMY END! STEREO TOPE SUICIDAS FROM THE RIOTS! TOPE CON HILO FROM MICHAEL DANTE! You know what’s better than one big man doing a dive? THREE big men doing dives! James Davis pulls out a cricket bat, but decides against using it on Tommy End, which allows El Ligero to slink his way in to jumping The Riots… who catch him and hit the District Line Powerbomb! Nathan Cruz comes to save, and he eventually ends up bitch-slapping Tommy End in an apparently improvised suicide pact, but James Davis jumps Tommy before retribution can be had. Dante helps ease the pain by spearing Cruz though as James Davis chases El Ligero with a cricket bat… and accidentally hits Tommy End with it, and Nathan Cruz rolls Tommy End up to win the tag shields in 13 minutes. ** I’m conflicted about that finish. On one hand, The Origin have consistently been the least enjoyable parts of the PROGRESS shows I’ve seen and rarely ever have anything resembling a great match. They’re not the level of heels Jimmy Havoc, Marty Scurll, or even a Paul Robinson is and thus haven’t given me a reason to even try and invest in their quest.. But on the other hand, if you want to get a heel stable over, you have to start somewhere. I’d rather the beginning of this whole deal have been about 10x as entertaining as it has been, but I understand where PROGRESS is coming from. It’s just that The Origin have shown me on several occasions that they simply have nothing to offer that has or can convince me that they’re “top heel” material. And this match did absolutely nothing to prove otherwise. This act has “midcarder” written all over it and right now, the tag titles aren’t going to dispell that. The booking is logical of course, which saves this to a degree, but I want to be entertained by the heels in the midst of their heel-isms. I don’t want to ask why they are where they are. But hey, I can W8NC.

The London Riots step in the ring and stare down the SDS, and a brawl breaks out after James Davis cheapshots Tommy End. The entire locker room comes down to try and break things up, and the SDS leaves dejected…

Flash Morgan Webster vs. Zack Gibson
Hey, more Origin members. Just what this show needed. I’ve been trying to figure out who Morgan Webster looks like, and for the life of me I can’t nail it down. So if I give this match a harsh rating, that might be why. This match is for the Natural Progression Trophy and the title shot it brings, by the way.

Things spill outside relatively early, but it quickly gets back inside as Webster fires off a quick Frankensteiner. The crowd is too much for Gibson to deal with, as Liverpool’s #1 has no choice but to belt “fuck off” at the top of his lungs. Webster doesn’t help matters by furthering the taunting, and that earns Flash a hard landing off on the turnbuckle and a nifty suplex from Gibson. The crowd tops themselves nearly immediately with a tremendous “You’re A Shitty Marty Scurll” chant as Gibson has firm control over Webster… that is until Webster sends Gibson outside, and progressively escalates his Tope’s until he hits a Tope Con Hilo! Webster tries to roll Gibson in the ring, but Zack rolls right back out… only to eat a jumping knee from Webster into the fans. Gibson throws him into the rail, but Webster jumps on and moonsaults off of it! Webster hits the sit-out Edgecution off of the top rope, but only gets 2. Webster goes up top for a 450, but Gibson pops up and hits a nasty Lungblower for a close nearfall. Gibson puts in a Keylock, but Webster gets the ropes… so Gibson just puts it on in the ropes. Gibson gets distracted with the referee, and eats an enzuigiri to the back of the head and a HUGE 450 YOUNG BUCKS STYLE TO A ROPE HUNG GIBSON! Gibson nearly gets the win with a flash small package, but Webster fights back and puts him up top… and here is Nathan Cruz. Diving Lungblower and Die Hard score for Gibson, but Webster kicks out! Gibson looks for a Tiger Driver, but Webster rolls out and nearly gets the pin on a rollup. Gibson counters an O’Connor Roll into another Keylock and Nathan Cruz throws Flash Morgan Webster’s leg off the ropes. And Gibson wins in 14 minutes. **1/4 Almost everything I said about the last match can be copy-and-pasted here. The fuck finishes don’t really annoy me as such; they happen in PWG with their various heel stables, but they’re preceeded by excellent matches and didn’t feel like a waste of time, along with booking sense. And usually, they don’t take up over an HOUR of a show. Here, they come after mediocre slogs without much in the way of substance, and as such don’t give The Origin much in the way of credibility. Something’s gotta give with these four soon or else this new top stable is going to kill the crowd every time out.

Zack Gibson takes the mic and says he’s cashing his title shot in at Chapter 24, before Dave Mastiff hilariously leads a You Deserve It chant. If he wasn’t in this stable, I might go insane.

PROGRESS Title: Will Ospreay © vs. Mark Andrews
Andrews returned at Chapter 22, saving Ospreay from a Paul Robinson beating before challenging him for the PROGRESS Title. I wonder what it would be like for TNA zealots to see Mark Andrews actually have a chance to be great instead of riding down the ramp of a theme park soundstage on a skateboard for a 3 minute Xplosion match. I enjoyed the hell out their match in PWG at BOLA, and I’m very, very excited to see how they do on a main event stage.

You can probably guess how this one starts. Brisk technical stuff, not much in the way of advantageous positions. Ospreay desperately tries to stop Andrews from giving him a surfboard, so Andrews stomps his knees into the mat and starts working over the knee of the champion, but doesn’t get far until Ospreay goes bananas flipping around and sending the Welshman to the outside FOR A SPRINGBOARD CORKSCREW TO THE OUTSIDE! Ospreay sends Andrews inside and continues to work him over. Andrews counters a counter into a Casadora Bulldog before spinning around into a beautiful spinning DDT for 2. Andrews goes up top, but Ospreay gets to his feet before anything happens. Andrews stays a step ahead until Ospreay stops a standing moonsault, hits the handspring kick and an Essex Destroyer for a two count. Ospreay looks for a front crucifix into something BUT ANDREWS COUNTERS INTO A REVERSE RANA~! SPRINGBOARD RANA! OSPREAY KICKS OUT! That reverse rana was absolutely breathtaking. Ospreay hits a Bicycle Kick to a running Andrews, who rebounds back with an enzuigiri that crumbles the champ. Ospreay looks to counter the spinning DDT with a suplex, but ANDREWS COUNTERS INTO A STUNNER! Ospreay hits a sloppy spinning Ace Crusher, and both men are down. Andrews looks for a Spanish Fly from the top, but Ospreay dips under and hits the Cheeky Nandos superkick! Ospreay goes up top for something, but Andrews moves… but OSPREAY HITS A SHOOTING STAR PRESS HALFWAY ACROSS THE RING! Andrews fights back and HITS A SPANISH FLY! OSPREAY KICKS OUT! Andrews misses his Shooting Star, but HITS OSPREAY WITH THE ESSEX DESTROYER! Ospreay kicks out, of course. Andrews goes up top, but the Shooting Star eats knees! ESSEX DESTROYER FROM OSPREAY! 630! Will Ospreay retains his title at the 18 minute mark. **** I’d imagine this rating is fairly generous, but when I look at the rest of this show, I’m just happy I got a wrestling match with flair and something resembling purpose and/or excitement. Sure, it’s your quintessential Will Ospreay match, and not quite on the level of his matches with Mark Haskins or Jimmy Havoc or Ricochet… but Ospreay is so precise, crisp, and quick with everything he does that even his less clinical showings always impress, no matter the context. He’s the babyface champion every promotion wants. He can dive into the depths of depravity with a psychopathic heel like Jimmy Havoc, or he can have an honorable, athletic encounter with Mark Haskins when called on. If you’ve seen a lengthy Mark Andrews match, he did pretty much everything you’d expect him to. He flew around, countered a suplex into a Stunner, and attempted a Shooting Star. I’m having fears that down the line, this formula will drastically alter the quality of his matches, but here against one of his finest opponents in Ospreay it worked in spades. So will you get a MOTYC or an epic? No, not in this case. But on an otherwise sorely lacking show, Mark Andrews and Will Ospreay did not disappoint and capped off the show in the exact way they needed to.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
It almost seems criminally harsh to say this about anything PROGRESS, but this was about as lifeless a show as you're liable to get from them. While everything about the show made logical sense from a booking standpoint, the wrestling was just as disappointing. Tommaso Ciampa and Marty Scurll had a decent match as opposed to the epic that was advertised, The Origin brought down almost the entirety of the after-intermission proceedings, and the only thing that kept this show from being a total DUD was the tremendous main event. It's nothing to make me lose faith in PROGRESS Wrestling because hey, can't win 'em all, but it's not something I'd recommend to anyone who asked.