PROGRESS returned to the Electric Ballroom in Camden on February 24th with Chapter 84, the gloriously named “Eskewwd Beef! Have Anybody Got Any Bokkle Oran Doove?” As always, the three co-owners of the company had their own parts to play in the show. Jim Smallman was ring announcer, Glen Joseph was on commentary, and Jon Briley was at the sound desk. After the usual preamble and running jokes, it was down to business.
Mark Haskins w/ Vicky Haskins vs. Do Not Resuscitate (Spike Trivet & Chuck Mambo)
Since forming at Chapter 79 when they took out first Jimmy Havoc and later Eddie Dennis and Mark Haskins, Do Not Resuscitate have been running roughshod over the roster, targeting in particular those that they call the “dinosaurs” of PROGRESS, wrestlers who they feel are old and past it but are still there, holding down spots that should be given to younger, hungrier guys. This includes Havoc, Dennis and Haskins, but also extends to Dennis’ former best friend and bitter rival, Mark Andrews. Mandrews was originally scheduled to be tagging with Haskins here, but an injury the previous night kept him out of proceedings. Never one to let a numbers game disadvantage deter him, Haskins cut a great babyface promo prior to the match, declaring he would go it alone tonight against DNR. The resultant match was a wild brawl which ended when Trivet’s and Mambo’s stablemate Drew Parker interfered, causing the official Joel Allen to ring the bell for the disqualification. Haskins would get the last laugh however, as Havoc would appear for the first time since suffering that DNR beatdown at Chapter 79 and make the save. I like the way PROGRESS have done a good job so far of keeping both sides looking strong in this feud, and that continued here, with Haskins showing the underdog babyface fire he’s known for, and DNR only falling thanks to a surprise return from Havoc.
Millie McKenzie vs. Bea Priestley
This was Millie McKenzie’s first appearance since Chapter 77, where her match with Isla Dawn got thrown out thanks to interference from Jinny and Laura Di Matteo, and Bea Priestley’s first match since way back at Chapter 61 in January of 2018, where she faced Millie in a tag team match. Millie McKenzie might be my favourite women’s wrestler in PROGRESS. At only 18 years old, she has come an incredible distance and has many years ahead of her. Priestley here played the more experienced wily heel, cutting Millie off every time she attempted to build some momentum. Perhaps appropriately then, Millie won with a big move out of nowhere: a mid-air Spear on Priestley, who was diving off the top rope. McKenzie should now be in line for a qualifying match for the four-way dance for the Women’s Championship at Chapter 88, the Super Strong Style 16 tournament in early May.
Next up, we had a promo from Eddie Dennis, who was here to remind us all that he owns a Money In The Bank-esque contract which entitles him to a title shot at any time of his choosing. He earned this contract through winning the blow-off to his feud of the year with Mark Andrews, a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match held at Chapter 76, the Wembley Arena show from last September. Dennis’ character is a heel who makes justified arguments, and that warms fans (and face wrestlers like Mark Haskins, who he has been teaming with against Do Not Resuscitate) to him. Well, most fans: he got into it here verbally with a couple of renegades in the crowd. He teased cashing in on Trent Seven, the Atlas Champion, WALTER, the World Champion, or Chris Ridgeway, WALTER’s challenger later tonight. I for one would love to see Eddie Dennis as PROGRESS Wrestling World Champion. His character would be such an interesting one to book as champion, and would be easy to keep fresh such is the ambiguity behind his motivation and crowd reaction.
Nina Samuels vs. Jinny w/ Laura Di Matteo
Since kicking her House of Couture stablemates, Nina Samuels, Charlie Morgan and Chakara, to the kerb at Chapter 76 and re-aligning with her former servant Elizabeth, who had broken away from her manipulative clutches and reclaimed her identity as Laura Di Matteo, the former PROGRESS Wrestling Women’s Champion Jinny hasn’t been faring too brilliantly in PROGRESS. Although she picked up a victory beside Di Matteo in tag team action over Samuels and Morgan at Chapter 79, she lost her title to Jordynne Grace at Chapter 82, PROGRESS’ annual mystery card, Unboxing Live. This match tonight was a qualifier for the aforementioned four-way dance for the Women’s Title at Chapter 88, and Jinny again couldn’t get the job done despite the presence of Di Matteo at ringside. The finish was a roll-up spot, designed to tell the story of Jinny’s over-confidence costing her, but the execution looked awkward. Anyhow, things are looking pretty bleak for Jinny in the landscape of the PROGRESS women’s division, and Samuels’ stock is undoubtedly rising.
Jordan Devlin vs. Travis Banks
In a booking that should surprise no-one given that these two have been tearing it up against each other lately in NXT UK, in a show that is also run by Smallman, Joseph and Briley, Jordan Devlin and Travis Banks had another barnburner. The big development here was the reunion of one of the most over tag teams in PROGRESS history, the South Pacific Power Trip. Having not been seen in PROGRESS since his appearance in the pre-show Battle Royal at Chapter 76 from Wembley Arena, TK Cooper returned with a new third member of the Power Trip by his side, NIWA, who had appeared in the pre-show match tonight. Banks was disqualified when Cooper and NIWA appeared and attacked Devlin, but that meant little to the trio, who triple-teamed the Irish Ace after the bell. Cooper and NIWA were wearing matching T-shirts, and Banks was also provided with one, and the new South Pacific Power Trip stood tall over the fallen Devlin. I liked this angle a lot, as Cooper and Banks were one of those heel acts who were so popular they were essentially made into babyfaces by the crowd, in a similar way to Eddie Dennis. Cooper has struggled with visa and injury problems and has lost much of his heat over the last two years, but this is a welcome development, and I’m interested to see what NIWA brings to the table.
We were then shown a video package announcing the third match in the rivalry between the Chris Brookes and Jonathan Gresham incarnation of CCK and the former Impact Tag Team Champions, LAX, to take place on March 31st at Chapter 87, PROGRESS’ next Electric Ballroom show. Having been in attendance for the second match in the feud, I can safely say that this bout is not one you want to miss.
PROGRESS Tag Team Championship Match
Swords Of Essex (C) vs. Aussie Open
This was a rematch of a contest between these two teams which happened at Chapter 82, when the heel Swords Of Essex, Will Ospreay and Paul Robinson, made a surprise return to PROGRESS as a team, having not tagged together in PROGRESS since their babyface days, all the way back at Chapter 13 in May 2014. Swords pulled off the shock victory to win the belts at the mystery show, and Aussie Open beat Chuck Mambo and Present William Eaver of Do Not Resuscitate at Chapter 83 to earn this rematch. In what was an incredible contest here, Swords won when Ospreay hit Mark Davis with one of the belts while the official was distracted. Davis wasn’t about to let this lie, however, and grabbed a mic to announce that the next time PROGRESS are in Camden at Chapter 87, he is using the title shot that he has under his belt to fight the Swords again, a shot which he obtained through winning the fifth Natural Progression Series tournament at Chapter 72. And it’s going to be a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match! The card for Chapter 87 is looking pretty stacked already: two third instalments in two amazing tag team rivalries.
Trent Seven’s Atlas Championship Open Challenge
When the Atlas Division Championship was established, its inaugural champion Rampage Brown always defended it in open challenges. Since winning the belt at Chapter 76, Trent Seven has made it customary to bring this back, and issues his own open challenge every time he is on a show. The man who answered the call this time was one Timothy Thatcher, one of the most requested Atlas Title challengers by the fans. The match was a super hard-hitting affair, as one would expect from any serious Timothy Thatcher match, and served as break from the comedy wrestling that Seven has come to be known for. In the end, Seven won with a Burning Hammer, but it was what would happen later that proved to be the far more significant development for Trent’s character on this show.
PROGRESS World Championship Match
WALTER (C) vs. Chris Ridgeway
Chris Ridgeway earned this opportunity to challenge WALTER, who is essentially PROGRESS’ answer to Brock Lesnar, through a series of wins and great showings, culminating in his victory over Shigehiro Irie at Chapter 83, after which he grabbed a mic, told the crowd he was going to keep it short and sweet, and simply said to Jim Smallman: “Give me WALTER.” This was the classic David vs. Goliath story, with the smaller Ridgeway offering a stiff kick in response to every WALTER chop. WALTER won clean with a big lariat, but Ridgeway looked excellent in defeat. With WALTER celebrating with his title, out came Trent Seven to announce that he has dominated the Atlas and Tag Team divisions in PROGRESS, and it’s time for him to challenge for the World Championship. Not only that, but he wants to unify his title and WALTER’s title at the Super Strong Style 16 shows! PROGRESS are already billing this as the biggest match in company history. I’m not sure about having Seven be the one to dethrone WALTER, if indeed that happens. Primarily having been used as comic relief for the last year, it doesn’t seem realistic to me that he is the one to fell the beast, and with only three shows before then, there isn’t enough time to build him back up as a serious threat. Maybe I can forgive them for this, however, if Eddie Dennis is the one to walk out champion.
Overall, this was an amazing show, with a hot crowd, some outstanding matches, and quality storyline development. In this writer’s humble opinion, PROGRESS are entering a well-deserved hot streak.