PROGRESS WRESTLING: CHAPTER 39 “THE GRAPS OF WRATH”
NOVEMBER 27, 2016
CAMDEN, LONDON AT ELECTRIC BALLROOM
REPORT BY RICHARD BENSON, PWTORCH CORRESPONDENT
The conclusion of Progress Wrestling’s Chapter 38, where recently crowned Champion Mark Haskins, having defeated his two top contenders Marty Scurll and Jimmy Havoc in a three way Main Event, kissed his Progress World Title and then left it behind in the ring, led to lots of questions about his future. It was an unexpected moment, although not entirely un-telegraphed. Haskins had made an advertised booking the night before, though news had started to spread about him having vacated his titles in other promotions. As the packed Electric Ballroom in Camden emptied, Haskins was chased to the back by Progress owners Jim Smallman and Glen Joseph, with fans left wondering what exactly they had just seen.
In the hours that followed, Progress would release a YouTube video with Haskins, explaining that due to neck issues, he’d been told by doctors he would be unable to wrestle for the foreseeable future and so he was having to stand down as Progress World Champion. The extent to which Progress management were aware of this prior to the day of the event was unclear, but Progress in a pinch, came up with an intriguing solution the next day. In an unusual step for the promotion, whose shows at the 700 capacity Electric Ballroom usually sell out long before a card is announced, Progress revealed all six planned matches for this, their next show, Chapter 39 – The Graps of Wrath – with one major caveat. The winners of all of the men’s matches, including Tags, would enter a seven person Main Event, with the winner being crowned the new Progress World Champion. Tickets went on sale that night and as noted by Smallman himself at the show, if it wasn’t for a couple of sets of tickets left unpurchased in baskets on the Progress website, the show would have gone on to sell out in not much more than 90 seconds. Instead, Progress would have to settle here for a one hour record sell-out.
Speculation was rife, with fans pointing to the winner of the big Marty Scurll and Jimmy Havoc grudge match as the most obvious options to take the title, or perhaps an established Progress singles star like Will Ospreay could re-bound from a losing streak. Even the very possibility that his opponent, the debuting Matt Riddle, could theoretically walk out as Progress World Champion, was an intriguing proposition by itself. The actual winner in some ways would be equally out of left field – by nights end though, it would make all the sense in the world.
(1) The South Pacific Power Trip (Travis Banks & T.K. Cooper) defeated FSU (Mark Andrews & Eddie Dennis).
FSU were late replacements here for the Hunter Brothers and came out to a thunderous reception for their Andrew WK “Party Hard” entrance. New Zealanders The South Pacific Power Trip are one of the hottest heel acts in the promotion with Cooper and valet Dahlia Black particularly being heat magnets with their gimmick of gratuitous public affection for one another. Banks, who debuted recently for Ring Of Honor on their UK Tour is also one to watch particularly and looks to be the next big break out star on the scene. The match started hot with Black, having attempted to stop an FSU dive, being launched to the outside by Dennis from a Crucifix Power Bomb position into the arms of her two charges on the floor. Throughout the match Banks, who had a pre-existing ear injury, was bleeding profusely from that wound, and cleverly used it on the outside as a way to distract referee Chris Roberts as Dahlia Black low-blowed Dennis. Cooper would take advantage hitting an assisted DDT, with Banks for the win. In addition to sending both members of the South Pacific Power Trip through to the Main Event, this would make them officially number one contenders to the Progress Tag Team Championship. Great opener.
(2) Pastor William Eaver defeated Joe Coffey
This match was a backdrop for the continuation of an Eaver and Sebastian storyline that many expected to conclude at Progress’ huge show at the Brixton Academy, where in a very real situation, Sebastian was legitimately knocked out in the opening seconds of the match between the two causing it to be waived off. The story has continued however, with Sebastian using the “secret” he claims to know about the Pastor, to have him do his bidding. Sebastian was at ringside and spent much of the match attempting to assist Eaver, leading to him distracting the referee so he would not see Eaver tapping out to Coffey’s Boston Crab submission. Eaver then uncharacteristically used a handful of tights to roll-up Coffey and steal a win. After the match, Sebastian took the microphone and announced that Eaver, in victory, had gifted his spot in the Main Event to Sebastian himself. Sebastian was really good here in this antagonist role.
(3) Progress Tag Team Titles: British Strong Style (Pete Dunne & Trent Seven) defeated The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch)
This was the first defence of the Progress Tag Team Titles by British Strong Style, having defeated the London Riots in Brixton. The British Strong Style team formed at Chapter 33 after Seven and Dunne turned on their respective partners, Pete’s “brother” Damien Dunne and Seven’s Moustache Mountain Tag Team Partner Tyler Bate at the unusual conclusion of a tag team match, which initially placed each man on opposing sides. Here, throughout their entrance, Dunne and Seven made clear they were not happy carrying the two halves of the large shield Progress use to represent their Tag Team Championship (The World Title was also originally a staff) and motioned continuously that they wanted belts. Rob Lynch of the Riots entered this match wearing a face mask, returning from injury after breaking his nose in a match in PCW, prior to Brixton. Lynch was worked over throughout, with some stiff back and forth exchanges between the teams once Davis made the hot tag. In a great brutal looking spot, Pete Dunne ripped off Lynch’s face mask and bit on his nose. He and Seven then hit a Pump Kick assisted Piledriver for the win and two places in the Main Event.
(4) Matt Riddle defeated Will Ospreay
This was absolutely must-see. Just a ridiculous sprint of a match that never let up. Riddle hit a huge running knee and delayed German Suplex straight from the bell that was genuinely believable as a potential finish. Ospreay responded hitting an incredible Moonsault running up the wall of the building on the outside of the ring, following it up with a picture perfect Space Flying Tiger Drop. This was all-action, concluding with Riddle hitting unanswered ground and pound to Ospreay before locking him up in his Bromission finish. The night was a perfect debut for Riddle who came off as a huge star and was immediately over with the Progress crowd chanting “This is Bro-gress” and later, singing Spandau Ballet’s “Gold” with the lyrics replaced to “Bro”. The match also continued the story of Ospreay having a poor record in Progress since losing the World Title, registering no wins in his now sporadic appearances since joining New Japan. They played up Ospreay being frustrated at the end before begrudgingly shaking Riddle’s hand.
(5) Jimmy Havoc defeated Marty Scurll
If the quick start and near fall of the previous match brought illusions to the Goldberg and Brock Lesnar finish from Survivor Series, this match outright aped it, with Havoc hitting two Spears in succession, before hitting his Acid-Rain Maker for a very close near fall at the start of the match for a big reaction. There was a lot of heat for this match although it was hurt somewhat by the World Title situation and rebooking of the show, being the fifth match on a packed card before Intermission, rather than the likely Main Event of the original planned card. The finish here allowed them to continue the feud and do the match again with a bigger spotlight upon it, with Havoc winning after a ref bump – hitting the ground with the Umbrella Scurll intended to use as a weapon, before bumping and playing dead Eddie Guerrero style. This led to the referee to calling for the bell and awarding Havoc the DQ victory. In any other spot, this may not have worked, but with it no-longer being the Main Event and Havoc being the previous long term Progress villain, it makes sense for him and Scurll to attempt to out-do each other in this regard and will allow the feud to continue on nicely.
(6) Natural Progress Series: Nixon Newall defeated Katie Harvey
For the promotion that styles itself as “Punk Rock Pro-Wrestling”, Newall and her entrance with the pop song “’Cest La Vie” by cheesy 2000’s teen group B*Witched, gets a surprisingly huge reaction. Newall is a great act and has a pure babyface appeal similar to Bayley that gets her over everywhere she goes. This was Harvey’s first time in the Ballroom and she looked solid, however this being a cold match compared to the rest of the card, everything they did was overshadowed by the rowdy (and somewhat tired after a 5-match first half) Progress crowd, who were only interested in chanting and singing songs about her one-sleeved ring attire. “Sleeve Comeback” and “You’re just a sh*t Winter Soldier”, being particular highlights. Newall won the match with her Shining Wizard finish.
(7) T.K. Cooper vs. Travis Banks vs Sebastian vs. Pete Dunne vs. Trent Seven vs Matt Riddle vs. Jimmy Havoc for the Progress Championship.
During his entrance, Havoc was attacked by Scurll on the stage with several shots from his Umbrella. The match therefore started as a Six Way. The reaction to Riddle continued to be massive with the fans singing the aforementioned Spandau Ballet song, as he took out each of the other five competitors in turn, taking them to the ground in succession looking for a quick submission. The action spilled to the floor with TK Cooper hitting a particularly impressive variation of the Spiral Tap off the top rope, before being eliminated soon after by Riddle with a Fisherman Buster. Jack Sexsmith interfered in the match attacking Sebastian, before Jimmy Havoc made it to the ring and pinned Sebastian with the Acid-Rainmaker. Trent Seven eliminated Travis Banks next with a Piledriver off the second, then teaming with his British Strong Style partner Pete Dunne to eliminate Matt Riddle. Trent was then eliminated by Havoc after two Rainmakers, leaving a final two of Pete Dunne and Jimmy Havoc, however remained at ringside and continued to interfere in the match on behalf of his partner.
It was at this point, Seven’s former partner, Tyler Bate – whom Dunne and Seven turned on at the aforementioned Chapter 33 – ran to the ring. As Dunne and Seven bailed to the outside, Bate stood in the ring, next to Jimmy Havoc, the man it appeared he had come to save. It was a setup, however, and Bate turned and floored Havoc. Pete Dunne then entered the ring, hitting his Drop Dead finisher and covering Havoc to become the new Progress World Champion.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was a finish and a Champion that may appear to have come out of nowhere, but Dunne has been lighting it up everywhere as a singles star, from WXW, to Rev-Pro, to this year’s PWG Battle Of Los Angeles – so much so, that while his tag work was stellar in Progress, it was odd that he wasn’t in the top singles mix here in one of Britain’s leading promotions, having won only one of his total four singles matches with the promotion. In one night, and out of the unfortunate circumstances that led to a vacant title, Progress put that right and elevated not only a Main Event singles star, but a top heel group in British Strong Style around him. It re-sets the promotion and appears to put everyone in their right place, with Dunne as the top guy with a slew of fresh challengers and Bate and Seven back together as a team, which if they choose to going forward, can take on the Tag Shields. That moment and a must-see match in Ospreay-Riddle made for a tremendous show. It is shows and moments like this that are why people travel far and wide to see Progress in Camden and continue to sell-out the 700 capacity Electric Ballroom in record times.
Up Next: The next PROGRESS show is Chapter 40, “Intercepted Angel” on 11th December at the O2 Academy in Sheffield, featuring Adam Cole vs. Will Ospreay and Bea Priestley vs. Toni Storm.
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NOW CHECK OUT OUR FIRST CORRESPONDENT REPORT ON THIS EVENT: 11/27 Progress Wrestling Chapter 39 “The Graps of Wrath”: New Champion crowned after seven-man elimination main event, Riddle, Ospreay, Dunne, Scurll, Havoc
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