PROGRESS returned to the 02 Academy in Birmingham on Sunday March 10 with Chapter 86: Corrupted Harmony. This was the second night in a weekender of shows happening outside London. PROGRESS’ last visit to the West Midlands came in July last year with Chapter 73, where in the main event Drew Parker beat Jimmy Havoc in a hardcore match.
Do Not Resuscitate (Chuck Mambo & Present William Eaver) vs. Anti-Fun Police
Interestingly, that Chapter 73 main event went some way to setting up the current Do Not Resuscitate storyline, with Drew Parker feeling under-utilised by PROGRESS since gaining what he saw as a momentous victory. He beat a deathmatch king in Jimmy Havoc at his own game and yet was only given scraps by management afterwards. He thus went on to recruit three guys who felt misused in similar ways, and jumped into a full-on feud with Havoc and friends. It was two of those DNR recruits, Chuck Mambo and Present William Eaver, who would face off here against Chief Deputy Dunne and Los Federales Santos Jr of the Anti-Fun Police. DNR picked up straight where they left off the previous night in Bournemouth where they beat Havoc, Mark Haskins and Eddie Dennis in the main event. They dominated proceedings here against AFP and won once again with an assist from a piece of ring equipment while the referee’s back was turned. 2 out of 2 so far this weekend for Do Not Resuscitate.
Jinny, Laura Di Matteo & Kasey Owens vs. Nina Samuels, Millie McKenzie & Session Moth Martina
This was Kasey Owens’ debut in PROGRESS, a moment which personally was highly anticipated. I have seen Owens perform around the UK for other promotions and she plays an excellent conniving heel, so I was looking forward to seeing her paired with the two top heels in PROGRESS here. The match was booked to further the months-long storyline of Jinny and Laura versus, well, everyone else, and served its purpose well. Kasey ended up pinning Nina, who has really grown as a performer since being cast aside by Jinny at the Wembley Arena show last September and is now one of the top babyfaces of the women’s division. This was thus a big scalp for Kasey Owens, and she will hopefully rise up the ranks sooner rather than later.
Jimmy Havoc & Mark Haskins w/ Vicky Haskins vs. Team Whitewolf
This was perhaps the match I was most excited for on tonight’s card. A-Kid and Carlos Romo of Team Whitewolf are a pair of young wrestlers from Spain making waves all over Europe and the UK. For example, last year Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter gave a match between A-Kid and Zack Sabre Jr from the Madrid-based promotion White Wolf Wrestling a five-star rating. Kid and Romo were making their PROGRESS debut as a tag team here against the former PROGRESS World and Tag Team Champions Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins, who were themselves making a return to 2 v 2 action for the first time since Chapter 65 in March 2018. The match itself was a good display of technical mat-based wrestling mixed with a more brawling style when the tempo needed to increase. Romo got in a few high-flying moves too! The rookies of Team Whitewolf certainly impressed. They showed a degree of toughness in kicking out of a lot of big moves by Haskins and Havoc and got in a good amount of offense of their own, but in the end the story of this bout was that the experience of the PROGRESS veterans won the day. This was a nice exhibition match for both teams and I liked seeing Haskins and Havoc as a tag team once again. They should return to the program with Do Not Resuscitate next, which I will touch on later. As for Team Whitewolf, the post-match “please come back” chants tell the story.
Eddie Dennis vs. DJZ
This match was originally booked as Jody Fleisch vs. DJZ, but a family emergency had kept Fleisch from wrestling this weekend. Eddie Dennis would step in to fill his spot here, hoping he would bounce back from defeat in Bournemouth as his partners Haskins and Havoc did in the previous match. Bounce back he did, in a match that was in my view a notch above DJZ’s Bournemouth match with Angelico. The defeat here wouldn’t have mattered for Z, as Super Strong Style 16 qualification had been sealed with the victory over Angelico. Eddie Dennis, title shot under his belt already, need not enter the tournament. He can cash in at any time, and he continues to wait to pick his moment.
Super Strong Style 16 Qualifying Match: Chris Ridgeway vs. Spike Trivet w/ Present William Eaver
Unfortunately for Do No Resuscitate, their only defeat of the weekend came in the match with the highest stakes. Fans were split on the way this one was going to go, seeing as both Chris Ridgeway and Spike Trivet are well-booked upper mid-carders at this point in their PROGRESS careers. What with Ridgeway having had a world title match very recently though, personally I couldn’t see them leaving him out of the tournament, and so it proved here as he got the win with an Axe Murderer Kick into an armbar. Given how strongly DNR had been booked so far this weekend, the way they were used in this match was a little odd as they looked rather ineffective as a unit. Bill Eaver grabbed hold of Ridgeway’s leg as soon as the bell rang and got thrown out by the official, and Chuck Mambo would come out a couple of minutes into the match, briefly get put into an armbar by Ridgeway and get thrown out himself. Post-match, Eaver and Mambo would return to attack Ridgeway, but were chased off by Mark Haskins, Jimmy Havoc and Eddie Dennis. A big four-on-four clash appears to be looming. As a big Do Not Resuscitate fan, I’m looking forward to that one.
Trent Seven vs. Austin Theory
EVOLVE Champion Austin Theory had earlier posted a video online attempting to goad Trent Seven into putting his PROGRESS Atlas Championship on the line in this bout, advertised as Seven’s last test before facing WALTER in the World and Atlas Championship unification match at Super Strong Style 16. Seven, however, bluntly refused, saying he wasn’t about to risk his spot in the biggest match of his career against an athlete of the calibre of Theory. He needn’t have worried about that, though, as he got the win in a decent contest with the Burning Hammer. All eyes move to the aforementioned unification match, where it seems Seven will emerge victorious and end WALTER’s stranglehold on the PROGRESS World Championship.
South Pacific Power Trip vs. Jordan Devlin, El Phantasmo & Angelico
For the second straight night, the show was headlined by a big six-man tag team match, which as a fan of six-man tags, I really liked. In this encounter, Travis Banks, TK Cooper and NIWA of the South Pacific Power Trip came up against the makeshift team of Jordan Devlin, El Phantasmo and Angelico. Devlin and Phantasmo had both been the victims of recent SPPT beatdowns, and they recruited Angelico as the third man to even the numbers, a discussion which again was posted in a video earlier in the day. As a result, there was a touch less heat to the match compared to the previous night’s main event, in which all three of the protagonists had been attacked by their opponents at previous shows, and in a longer-running feud than tonight’s main event program. This match was also a little more spotty than Chapter 85’s six-man, and wasn’t as strong in terms of storytelling, but it did everything it needed to do. The finish was a little abrupt, and came when Cooper rolled up Phantasmo, grabbing the ropes for leverage. To make these guys even more dastardly, NIWA pulled the rope towards him to help out. Quite how the official missed two guys with handfuls of rope is another question! In the end though, the stronger union of the South Pacific Power Trip triumphed over the thrown-together trio of Devlin, Phantasmo and Angelico.
Overall, this was a good show, though not quite as strong as the previous night in Bournemouth, and was highlighted by some really great tag team matches. It also sent another combatant through to the Super Strong Style 16 tournament and cemented the case of one of the participants in the upcoming World and Atlas Title unification match.