A few months ago we took a first look at one of the new kids on the British wrestling block, Progress. Now we’re going to pay them a second visit as we go back to The Garage in Islington, London, this past June for Chapter Two: The March of Progress, a show headlined by someone who could become a TNA star in the very near future.
It’s a two disc set, so there’s no better place to start than with Disc One, and after the initial and quite funny opening introductions it was on to the first match as the powerhouse that is Stixx took on the masked Lion Kid.
For those of you who don’t know who the Lion Kid is you could say he’s Britain’s answer to Tiger Mask. He’s had a couple of other gimmicks in his career but those in the know say this is his best.
This was your basic power versus speed encounter, and a pretty entertaining one at that. Stixx did a good job of taking his man down at first, using his strength advantage to good effect as he threw the Kid around the ring like a cuddly toy.
As the match developed it followed the formula where Stixx would dominate and the Kid would get in a few fleeting moments of offence. Eventually the masked man began to take more control of the proceedings as he pulled off some impressive high flying moves, especially the head scissors that took Stixx off the top rope.
In the end though it was a good old fashioned move that ended the proceedings as the Kid used a roll-up and bridge to get the winning pin.
Then it was on to the first title match of the evening as Mike Hitchman challenged Mark Andrews for the BWC Scarlo Scholarship title.
Now this was good, a great display of solid British action.
It began with the stocky Hitchman grounding his high flying opponent with a variety of holds before the action was taken up a couple of notches as Andrews began to unleash his arsenal.
From there it developed into a great back and forth encounter, and Hitchman almost took the win and the title when he took Andrews down with the best package piledriver I’ve seen this side of Kevin Steen.
Hitchman then tried to take it up to eleven when he tried to take his man down with another package piledriver, this time from the top rope. But it was not to be, and moments later Andrews took the title retaining pin with a small package.
This wasn’t the end of his night’s work though as Xander Cooper, the man who Andrews beat for the title suddenly leapt into the ring and attacked him as he celebrated. Cooper then grabbed the title belt, but just as he was about to clobber the champion Andrews came back with a dropkick, sending Cooper running for cover, with Andrews in hot pursuit.
The next match saw Noam Dar taking on Darrell Allen.
Allen came into this one with his left shoulder strapped up, courtesy of a dislocation he’d suffered during the first Progress show. It didn’t hamper him in the slightest though as these two put on a pretty solid affair.
It began with some nice back and forth counter wrestling as they exchanged various holds before they moved up a gear and brought out the heavy artillery. Dar, who as a Scotsman was the natural heel here showed why he’s so highly regarded with another good performance, and in that respect Allen wasn’t that far behind him.
Dar threw everything he had at Allen, including an interesting technique involving a piece of chewing hum, but it wasn’t enough to put his man away. It was only when he began to centre his attack on Allen’s leg that he had any sustained success.
The Scotsman soon applied his submission hold of choice, the grapevine leglock. Allen fought it for as long as he could until a series of heels to the chest with Dar’s free leg forced Allen to tap out.
The penultimate match of this disc saw Danny Garnell going up against Jimmy Havoc.
Havoc was actually booked for this show after a Twitter campaign. He was eager to show that, despite his death match past he could actually wrestle. Needless to say that he was a little bemused when he found out he was up against the man who trained him.
Before the match began the referee found a spoon on Havoc’s person while he was making his pre-match checks. Needless to say that the spoon became the subject of many a crowd chant during the match.
So what we had here was a friendly rivalry between teacher and pupil, no woodshed beatings in this one. It was a pretty even contest, part-comedy match, part-training session and part-wrestling match, and these parts, when combined as a whole, made for a pretty enjoyable affair.
Both guys put in good stints. Garnell used his power advantage to good effect at times, particularly towards the end when he took Havoc down with a couple of highly impressive suplexes. Havoc, for his part, played the foil perfectly as he looked to take his mentor down with a crossface.
The end came when Havoc went for a second crossface. Garnell was now wise to the move and managed to reverse the positions, rolling Havoc up for the pin.
The final match of the disc featured tag-team action as James Davies and Rob Lynch, the London Riots, went up against the Velocity Vipers, Alex Esmail and Will Osprey.
It isn’t often that I’m impressed when I see a wrestler for the first time, but when I saw the Riot boys that all changed.
They began their night’s work by attacking the Vipers before the bell, and showing a great deal of power and a great deal of brutality they beat the proverbial you know what out of their smaller opponents.
To say it was impressive would be an understatement. Everything they did was just so…well…brutal. Their gimmick was simple and effective, two cockney guys who beat people up. No flashy moves or flips, just a ton of arse kicking.
The Viper boys had their moments, and for their part they put in an impressive showing as well as they took the big boys down with a variety of high flying moves. But when Esmail was taken out after an injury (later revealed to be a broken leg) Osprey was left on his own.
But pluck and courage weren’t enough as Lynch took him down with a veritable clothesline from hell so Lynch could get the winning pin. Impressive stuff all round, and I haven’t been that impressed first time around since I saw an Aussie brawler called Jag.
Disc two began with the number one contenders match between R.J. Singh, accompanied by his usual Bollywood entourage, Greg Burridge and El Ligero.
This was another match that mixed comedy spots with solid action. Singh tried to intimidate the others at the beginning, only to end up on the receiving end of a series of kicks as the good guys engaged in a game of one-upmanship.
Once Singh had been dispatched from the ring Burridge and Ligero then engaged in one of the most surreal exchanges I’ve ever seen. I won’t describe the action here, but all I will say is that stiff kicks wouldn’t be the best way to describe it.
From there we saw some great sequences. Needless to say that Singh’s entourage, or rather his director, got involved at one point before being…well, let’s say he was taken out by Burridge. He wasn’t seen much after that.
Eventually only one man could come out on top, and that was the masked Mexican sensation as Ligero took the win after pinning Burridge with a roll-up and a handful of tights. Da Pukka One was none too pleased with what had happened, taking to the microphone to vent his spleen.
The main event saw Marty Scurll, soon to be seen on TNA’s Boot Camp reality show, challenging Nathan Cruz for the Progress title in a best of three falls encounter.
I’ve you’ve read my last Progress review you’ll know that Cruz didn’t win a title belt at the last show. He was actually given a Staff, sort of like those things that wizards carry around in fantasy films, although this one looks more like those things that the Nazis carried around in 1930’s propaganda films.
Anyway, back to the match. Although my consumption of British action has taken a slight downturn since I left the business a few years ago I can say that this is one of the best matches I’ve seen on these shores since then.
For nearly 30 minutes these two tore each other to shreds in what could easily be termed as a great piece of storytelling. Everything was there, from the great moves to the great psychology to the pacing right through to the falls, and the fact that the crowd were just so into it showed just how good it was.
Scurll took the first fall, taking Cruz out with a double knee from the top rope before finishing the move with his Hangover Backbreaker for the pin.
The second fall went to Cruz. The champion tried to get the fall via count out when he attacked Scurll on the outside. It was a tactic he tried several times, but the challenger managed to get back to the ring on each occasion. Cruz soon realised he’d have to do it in the ring, and after Scurll took everything he had he finally managed to take him down for the pin after taking him out with a Tombstone Piledriver.
The third fall looked like it wasn’t going to happen at one point. As Scurll lay face down on the mat it looked as if he wouldn’t be able to comply with the rule that both wrestlers must be on their feet before the match could restart.
Scurll eventually made it to his feet for a few seconds, and the action began as both men got their third wind. The challenger looked like he was going to get the submission at one point with a figure four, and a short time later the referee got a little too close to the action when Cruz pulled him in front of an oncoming kick from Scurll.
So with the official taking a nap Cruz went for a chair, but just before he could swing for the fences El Ligero rushed down to the ring to stop him. We then had a brief confrontation before Cruz ducked Ligero’s super kick attempt, with the man from Mexico taking Scurll out instead. Ligero looked at what he’d done, shrugged his shoulders and then calmly left the ring.
The masked man left just as the referee came to, and the first thing he saw was Cruz covering Scurll. A three count later and Cruz had retained his title.
Disc two is where you’ll find the extras. Just two for you this time around with a look at how Jimmy Havoc used social media to get booked on the show, and co-owner, ring announcer and professional stand-up comedian Jim Smallman giving us the top ten fan chants from the first two shows.
In conclusion – you know what? This was even better than the first show.
After just two shows Progress Wrestling have already found their unique identity, their niche as it were.
It’s the prefect mixture for those a little dazed by the family-oriented product that other companies offer. From the wrestling to the humour to the fan chants to the ring announcing to the commentary this is the sort of company that doesn’t talk down to it’s fans and doesn’t insult their intelligence.
I just loved everything about this show and this company, and I really can’t speak too highly about them.
So after all of the generalised praise it’s time to pick my match of the night, and while I was tempted to give the nod to the brutal performance of the London Riots I’m going to go for the main event clash between Nathan Cruz and Marty Scurll for it’s great storytelling and it’s near flawless action.
Now all of that business is out of the way there’s just one more thing left to do and that’s to give Progress Chapter Two: The March of Progress the big thumbs up.
With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. To purchase a copy of this DVD visit www.progresswrestling.com.
And don’t forget to check out my website at twoshedsreview.blogspot.com. It’s been online in one form or another for over 12 years now!