Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Progress Chapter 76: Hello Wembley
Date: September 30, 2018
Location: Wembley Arena, London, England
Commentators: Glenn Joseph, Daria Black
This seems kind of appropriate. Somehow, I’ve never actually seen a show from Progress. I’ve heard about it forever but I’ve never sat down and watched one of the shows. It turns out that I was over in England for their biggest show ever…but I was leaving the next day and wasn’t riding two and a half hours on a train to get to London. There are going to be people I don’t know on this show and that could make things interesting. Let’s get to it.
As mentioned: I’ve never watched the show so there are going to be angles, stories and plot points I don’t know. Hopefully commentary can explain these things.
There was a pre-show battle royal but since I don’t know most of the people involved (and can’t find it), we’ll get on to the regular show.
Progress owner Jim Smallman (whose book I bought while in England and need to read) is in the ring and nearly in tears. He can’t believe they’re here but he and his fellow owners are a tiny piece of what happens here. What matters are the wrestlers and the people who said bring it on when they said they were running this arena. Fans: “You deserve it!” Smallman: “I don’t deserve it. I’m a horrible human being.”
He’s a wrestling fan too and can’t wait to watch a lot of wrestling tonight and he knows the fans are going to show the world why British wrestling is the way it is. In something he apparently asks every time, he asks if fans have seen the show before (Smallman: “S*** that’s a lot.”) and how many are watching for the first time.
After a request for some applause for everyone in the aforementioned and aforeshow battle royal, Smallman says the only rule is to have fun while being considerate of the people around you. The rule around here is simple and the crowd shouts it for him: “DON’T BE A D***!” The fans chant something at the referee and it has to do with cheese. I’m not sure I want to know what that means so it’s time for the first match. To give you an idea of how different this place is: there were about eight F bombs in this speech. You don’t see that in America too often.
Matt Riddle vs. Mark Haskins
This is Riddle’s last independent match and he had already wrestled for NXT at this point. Haskins has a woman named Vicky with face paint, limited clothing and a baseball bat with nails in it ala Lucille from the Walking Dead. The fans sing some song about Riddle which sounds like they’re saluting the King of Bros. Haskins, who is clearly a rather mean man, shakes hands without much enthusiasm.
The grappling exchanges takes it to the mat with the bigger Riddle trying to fight out of a headlock. Back up and Riddle can’t quite get a cross armbreaker so he has to slip out of a Sharpshooter attempt. Riddle goes for the arm again but it turns into an exchange of covers. They both try kicks to the ribs and both catch the other before setting them down on the mat. Riddle strikes a martial arts pose and says bring it so Haskins takes a boxing stance and flips him off.
An exchange of kicks to the thigh goes to a draw but Riddle knocks him to the floor. They switch places though and Haskins scores with a suicide dive. Riddle puts him on the apron for more kicks to the chest but gets caught in a legbar. Back in and Haskins switches to some knees to the head for two, followed by something like a reverse Koji Clutch. Riddle is right back with a knee to the face and a German suplex. Some running forearms in the corner give Riddle two and it’s off to some YES Kicks, with Haskins telling him to go harder.
Haskins is fine enough to grab Riddle for two off a Samoan driver but his Sharpshooter is kicked away. Riddle is right back with a fisherman’s buster and a cradle tombstone gets two. In what feels like a change of pace but something he could pull off, Riddle heads up top but gets superplexed right back down in the big crash. Riddle is up first but Haskins does an Undertaker sit up, only to get powerbombed back down.
That means a knee to the face but a fireman’s carry is reversed into a Canadian Destroyer (How do you even do that?). Haskins scores with a top rope double stomp for a very close two but Riddle knees him in the face two more times. Riddle grabs his hand for something but Haskins pulls him into a pumphandle driver (Made In England) for what feels like a big upset at 17:16.
Rating: B. This was a great choice for an opener as Riddle is one of the top stars around here and someone who is going to get a great reaction no matter what he does. They had a really entertaining match and beat each other up, with some of those spots being things that should have been knockouts but here were just transitional stuff. That’s fine for something this big though and I had a great time watching both of them.
Post match Haskins won’t shake his hand because he wants a hug. Riddle’s happy face is hilarious in the way only he can pull off.
Smallman thanks Riddle for everything he’s done for the company over the years.
Women’s Title: Jinny vs. Millie McKenzie vs. Toni Storm
Jinny is defending and I’ve been looking forward to this as her reputation outside of NXT UK is rather strong. She also comes out with three women (collectively known as the House Of Couture (might have misheard that) and one of them is Nina Samuels) in her corner. Storm gets the heroine’s welcome, as you have to expect.
Jinny is booed out of the building and goes right after Toni to start. Millie gets sent outside early and it’s a brawl between the other two. Toni kicks her in the chest and hammers away but gets taken down by Millie. A swinging neckbreaker drops Jinny to send her outside but it’s too early for Storm Zero on Millie. The House offers a double distraction though and Jinny is back in with the double clothesline.
Millie gets sent outside again and the beatdown is on as commentary plays up the idea that she’s the odd woman out as Jinny and Toni want to kill each other. Toni is right back with a German suplex to Jinny but walks into a spear. Another spear to Jinny is reversed into a belly to belly into the corner and they’re all down. The House goes after Toni but here are Laura Di Mateo and Candyfloss for the save because we don’t have enough people at ringside yet. The three people actually in the match slug it out with right hands and headbutts.
Millie is up first and German suplexes Jinny twice in a row, followed by a German suplex to both of them at once. That’s only good for two each so Jinny gives them both Downward Spirals into the middle buckle. Toni is right back up with running hip attacks in the corner and a piledriver to Millie on the apron makes it even worse. Back in and Toni piledrives Jinny as well, drawing in the House. Laura and Candyfloss come in for the staredown….and Laura decks her. That means a Rainmaker for Toni and Jinny is thrown on top to retain at 8:30.
Rating: B-. I was digging this one and it could have been a lot longer than it was. The turn at the end felt like a big deal and probably something that I would have liked more if I knew who these people were. All three looked good here and you could feel the hatred between Jinny and Toni. Pinning someone who would go on to win the Mae Young Classic looks even more impressive in retrospective and I could go for this Jinny being around in NXT UK.
Post match the announcers panic because Laura is Jinny’s former assistant. The new House poses but Jordynne Grace (a near monster) comes in and wrecks everyone, as Jinny and Laura bail to the floor. Good debut after a good angle.
Atlas Title: Trent Seven vs. Doug Williams
Williams is defending and this is the over 205lb title. Kind of odd but ok then. Also, if Williams loses, he retires. One thing I like a lot: commentary doesn’t talk during entrances. You don’t have to say something all the time and it’s nice to just let things breathe once in awhile. They shake hands to start and Williams takes him to the ropes for the traditional head shake.
An exchange of wristlocks goes to the mat with Trent grabbing a headscissors. Williams flips out and grabs the ankle in a nice display of skill that feels like it belongs in someone’s last match. Trent takes him down into a choke but Williams reverses into one of his own. To show the difference in the generations, Seven dances out and grabs a second choke. Back up and Trent misses a crossbody as Williams casually steps to the side. A DDT drops Williams though and it’s time for some chops in the corner.
Williams is right back with a kick to the head and we hit the chinlock. The comeback is cut off with a belly to belly and Williams nails a top rope back elbow. An exploder suplex into the corner gets two but Rolling Chaos Theory is reversed into a piledriver to give Seven two. Rolling Chaos Theory works just fine the second time and Williams goes up.
The superplex from Seven is broken up and Williams powerbombs him down, setting up another piledriver for two more. Seven is back up with a Burning Hammer (nearly dropping Williams) for two of his own so Seven unloads with chops. That just earns him another Rolling Chaos Theory but Seven slips out of another attempt and hits a crossbody for the pin and the title at 14:16.
Rating: C+. Good match which felt like a sendoff for Williams, which was exactly the case. Williams is a big name and having him go out while putting someone over is the right idea, especially someone like Seven who is one of the bigger names around. The suplexes looked good and Williams didn’t look old, which is always a worry in a match like this. It’s a fitting sendoff and I can go with something like that happening at such a big show.
Post match Seven hugs him and lets Williams have the ring as the locker room comes out to applaud.
We recap Jimmy Havoc vs. Paul Robinson. They used to be partners but Robinson beat the heck out of him, sending Havoc away for over a year. Havoc came back and was in a #1 contenders match against Will Ospreay when Robinson, the referee, attacked him, saying that Robinson was the beast that Havoc had been searching for. Time for a crazy violent match.
Jimmy Havoc vs. Paul Robinson
Anything goes and Havoc, carrying an ax, is painted white. Havoc goes right at him and hits a Rainmaker in the first ten seconds as they’re not wasting time. They’re on the floor in a hurry as you had to know was coming. A door to the back keeps Robinson in trouble and Havoc crotches him on the barricade for mean measure. Robinson comes back with a chop and Havoc just stares at him ala Sting to Flair.
Havoc pelts a chair at Robinson’s head and then throws another at his back. It’s time for an ironing board (of course) and Havoc powerbombs him through it for a good looking crash. Robinson finds a barbed wire bat and cuts open Havoc’s chest. Of course the head is next because we need some serious blood. They actually go inside again for a change of pace with Robinson bringing the door for some extra fun. He also brings in a staplegun to give Havoc some fresh holes in his head.
Robinson follows it up by stapling a shirt to Havoc’s chest but Havoc rips them out and flips Robinson off. Now that just doesn’t seem like a good idea. It’s frying pan time but Havoc no sells a shot to the head. I mean, after the staples that’s not the biggest stretch. A shot to Robinson’s head works a bit better and there’s the Death Valley Driver through the door. Robinson gets sat in the corner for a staple to the crotch but pops back up (make your own jokes) and breaks a light tube over Havoc’s head.
The broken tube is stabbed into Havoc’s back (egads man) and of course it’s time for the thumbtacks. Havoc shrugs off the glass in his back (of course) and hits another Death Valley Driver onto the tacks for two. Robinson is busted as well as Havoc grabs a bunch of light tubes, one of which he headbutts into Robinson’s head. Havoc puts out more light tubes but gets slammed off the top onto them, followed by a middle rope backsplash onto the tubs onto Havoc’s chest.
A curb stomp onto the tacks gets two on Havoc as Robinson’s back is COVERED in blood. Robinson bridges another tube between two open chairs but Havoc saves himself with another Rainmaker. Havoc stomps him face first through the tube and hits another Rainmaker for the pin at 13:45.
Rating: F. This wasn’t wrestling and I can’t stand watching it. They spent the entire second half of the match with the light tubes and that stuff just gets old after…oh about two seconds. I know this stuff has its fans, but I’m just not the right audience for it. This wasn’t as bad as some of the death match nonsense you see elsewhere, but I could still go for never seeing it again.
Robinson slowly walks out, as he should.
Smallman is back in the ring and we seem to have skipped intermission. Apparently the owners of the arena came up to the Progress bosses and told them that they’ve brought in the best wrestling atmosphere ever. They were given a special plaque saying that it was the biggest British independent wrestling show in over thirty years. They’ve also set a Progress attendance record with 4,750 people.
The fans agree that this is Progress and Smallman sends us to a video announcing the Super Strong Style 16 tournament. This brings out the injured former World Champion Travis Banks, who has won the tournament before. He wants in next year and is the first man to get involved with next year’s tournament. Smallman seems fine with this.
Tag Team Titles: Thunderbastard
So this is basically a Royal Rumble tag match and the culmination of a round robin tournament. The idea is the teams are going to be introduced in the order they finished in the tournament with the team with the best record entering last. There will be two teams to start and another is added every two minutes with eliminations via pinfall, submission or disqualification. Flamita and Bandido are defending, despite not even being in the tournament to start as they won the titles while it was taking place. Got all that? I’m not sure I do so I might need some notes later.
Since Flamita and Bandido didn’t get any points in the tournament, they start again Sexy Starr (David Starr and Jack Sexsmith), the latter of whom seems to be romantically involved. Starr even kisses him before the Big Match Intros. Sexsmith is introduced as the Pansexual Phenomenon and we get Starr’s full entrance (complete with about fifteen different names, which he usually says himself). In an odd visual, the referee is taller than all four wrestlers.
They take turns flipping and rolling around to start and it’s a very early standoff. Starr and Sexsmith fail at nipups in a funny bit so the champs help them up and we get some nice handshakes. Flamita doesn’t let go of Sexsmith’s hand though and drops to a knee, throwing in a little spank for…fun I guess? Starr is furious and hits him right in the mask as Sexsmith tries to calm things down. The champs start in with the superkicks and double moonsaults to take over until M&M (Connor Mills and Maverick Mayhew) are in third. This is going to get messy in a hurry isn’t it?
Mayhew wastes no time in hitting a double springboard spinning wristdrag on Flamita but Sexy Starr gets back up, only to be sent into each other. Mills throws Mayhew into a DDT for two on Starr and it’s time for everyone to chop everyone. With that going nowhere, Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher, who is only 18, and Mark Davis) are in fourth. I’ve seen these guys before and they’re quite good.
The Aussies start cleaning house and a sitout Michinoku Driver gets two on Starr. Sexsmith’s weak chops have no effect so a right hand knocks him into the corner. With the Aussies in full control, the Anti-Fun Police (Chief Deputy (not Pete) Dunne and Los Federales Santos Jr., a rather big guy, in a gimmick that is exactly what it sounds like) are in fifth. The much bigger Santos runs Davis over on the floor) and hit stereo enziguris on M&M. Flamita and Bandido get in some kicks to knock Santos down (in the big, slow fall that it should be) and the ring is cleared.
Davis comes back in and spears both champs but they send him outside in short order. The Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson and James Drake) are in sixth and come in through the crowd with Gibson doing the same promo he’s done on every NXT UK show so far. The fans are all over Gibson until Flamita and Bandido take them out with dives. Somehow that doesn’t have much effect and Gibson is right back up with the mic still in hand. M&M comes back in to clean house though and a discus forearm rocks Drake.
As the Calimari Thatch Kings (Chris Brookes, sporting a bad shoulder, and Timothy Thatcher) are in seventh, the Ticket to Mayhem (a reverse powerbomb into a Codebreaker) finishes Mills for the first elimination at 10:35. A belly to belly suplex puts Gibson down and the Kings slap on stereo holds to put the Veterans in trouble.
Those are broken up and Fletcher comes in as the complete insanity of this match continues. Davis kicks people in the face but gets pulled down into a Fujiwara armbar. Fletcher is caught in a kneebar at the same time as the 198 (Flash Morgan Webster and Wild Boar Mike Hitchman) are in eighth to complete the field.
The 198 starts cleaning house and Webster hits a Swanton onto Thatcher’s back for two. Hitchman throws Sexy Starr onto of each other and drops a backsplash for two of his own. Dunne and Santos remember they’re in this match and come back in for Fun is Over (an elevated Codebreaker, because Codebreakers are awesome) on Webster. The crazy eyed Thatcher grabs Santos and putting him down with one slap. A double underhook Jackhammer gets two on Dunne with Santos making a save.
The Aussies are back in for a slam/cutter for two on Brookes but the Vets come in to take them down as well. Flamita and Bandido come in to take care of Gibson and a wheelbarrow throw into a moonsault gives Flamita two. A slightly assisted STANDING PHOENIX SPLASH gives Bandido the same (egads man) as Thatcher has Santos in a kneebar on the floor. The kickout means a LOUD “STAND UP IF YOU HATE GIBSON” chat, which is always cool.
Sexy Starr comes back in for a German suplex/top rope double stomp combination (the Climax, because of course) for two on Flamita. Hitchman comes back in for a Rikishi Driver to pin Sexsmith and get us down to six. You know, because twelve people are easier to keep track of than fourteen. The Kings come back in with Thatcher and Hitchman having a hard slugout. Thatcher gets the better of it and goes outside to hold people for the big series of dives. Santos dives onto everyone but Dunne breaks up Bandido’s dive because that would be fun.
The fans demand fun so Bandido hits a backflip fall away slam onto everyone else, which certainly seems to meet the fun requirement. Santos comes back in but gets choked by Webster. Dunne makes the save with a top rope Backstabber but gets caught in a pop up powerbomb from Hitchman. One heck of a whip package piledriver finishes Dunne to get us down to five at 22:33.
Davis comes in and chops away at both Kings and Fletcher adds a superkick to Thatcher. Close Your Eyes (a piledriver with Davis pulling Brookes up from the mat to drop him on his head) gets rid of the Kings at 23:49, leaving us with the 198, the Aussies, the Veterans and Bandido/Flamita. Speaking of the Veterans, they’re back in with stereo Shankley Gates, which are reversed into some holds from the 198. The champs come in for the save (Why?) and the ref gets bumped. In this match???
The lack of one referee (there was a second on the floor for obvious reasons) lets Hitchman use Webster’s helmet on Bandido to give Webster the pin at 25:09, guaranteeing us new champions. The fans immediately cheer for the Aussies as the 198 throw the mostly dead Davis back inside. Fletcher makes a fast save though and the Fidget Spinner (basically a double AA) finishes Webster at 26:16, leaving us with the Aussies vs. the Veterans. Well that’s the best way to get the fans to cheer for one team.
The slugout is on with the Veterans getting the better of things, only to have Gibson take a quick Fidget Spinner for two. Fletcher can’t believe it and Drake saves Gibson from taking another one. Davis gets pulled to the floor and sent into the steps, leaving Fletcher to get taken down for some stomping.
A Doomsday Device is countered into a victory roll for two but Gibson catches Fletcher with a Codebreaker (this show has made me sick of that move). Drake’s 450 gets two and the Veterans are stunned this time. It’s Davis coming back in for the save though and a kick to the face rocks Drake. With Gibson being knocked outside, a Fidget Spinner out of an electric chair finishes Drake to give us new champions at 31:27.
Rating: B. Well that was a blast. It takes a lot to keep something like this coherent and entertaining at the same time but they managed to pull it off here. They had sixteen people in the match around here and everyone got a chance to shine. The Aussies were crazy popular at the end and these fans would take two years off the back end of their lives to see Gibson lose. This was a hard one to pull off but they made it work in rather impressive fashion.
We recap Pete Dunne vs. Ilja Dragunov. Some European promoter named Christian Michael Jakobi (CMJ) didn’t like the idea of Dunne being considered the best independent wrestler in Europe and the challenge was on. CMJ has called Pete a silly little boy so I don’t see this going well.
Pete Dunne vs. Ilja Dragunov
Non-title. CMJ is here and even trips on his way to the ring. The fans aren’t interested in hearing from him but he wants something more. He’s here to see the change that comes with Ilja defeating Dunne to become the best wrestler in all of Europe. Ilja is rather intense looking, though then again so is Dunne. They get in each others faces during the Big Match Intros and the slugout is on as soon as possible. Dunne hits the first clothesline and it’s time to work on the arm.
Ilja is right back with a dropkick and a backsplash to send Dunne outside. A dive takes Dunne down as well but he’s fine enough to hit the X Plex onto the apron. Ilja’s arm gets stomped on the steps but a second attempt misses, allowing Ilja to get in a shot to the face. There’s a suplex off the steps to put Pete in more trouble as we get some more backstory on CMJ and Dunne: apparently CMJ dismissed Dunne as someone not good enough years ago and now he’s trying to prove himself right. Works for me. Back in and Ilja hits a heck of a chop before getting a little cocky.
Dunne hits a forearm to send Ilja into the corner and a middle rope dropkick takes him down. The kneebar goes on and is quickly switched into an ankle lock but Ilja kicks him off. That’s fine with Dunne, who comes back with a Liger Bomb of all things for two. Ilja catches him on top for a superplex and tries to roll into something else, only to get caught in another X Plex. Some running clotheslines have Dunne in trouble and a powerbomb gets two.
Dunne grabs him by the ears and noes (because….well why not really) but gets caught with another chop. An enziguri staggers Ilja but he catches Dunne with a hard clothesline as Dunne still can’t get a step ahead of him. Back up and Ilja unloads on him with strikes and an enziguri but can’t knock Dunne off his feet. The snap German suplex and Bitter End get two so Dunne stomps away at his head…and Ilja spits at him. That earns him even more stomps so Ilja reverses and drives elbows into the head.
They trade a series of headbutts and both guys go down in a heap apiece. With both of them sitting up they slap it out until Dunne bites on the fingers. The referee breaks it up so CMJ can get in a belt shot to drop Dunne. Ilja goes Coast to Coast for two but Dunne punches him down and snaps CMJ’s fingers. A second Coast to Coast is punched out of the air and a second Bitter End gets two more. Ilja nails a torture rack into a flipping facebreaker and the Torpedo Moscow (running headbutt)…but Dunne pops up and snaps his fingers for the tap at 18:43.
Rating: B. This had some very strong moments but never got all the way to the point I think they were shooting for. Dunne continues to be the big star around here and it’s a great sign to see that he does this in both America and England. Ilja is a great performer as well and will be a star when he gets to be around here a few more times. It was good enough for the big showdown with Dunne wanting to prove himself and Ilja was great as a dragon to slay.
Post match they sit down and stare at each other for a handshake.
We recap Eddie Dennis vs. Mark Andrews. They used to be partners and best friends until the much bigger Dennis turned on him. Apparently Dennis was angry at Andrews for taking the spotlight in an eight man scramble match, even though Andrews told him to get the win after they took out James Drake together. That was broken up and Andrews won the match a few seconds later.
The two of them had been friends for years and it may have been cool to steal a fall like that before, but now it’s about Andrews costing him his financial future. Andrews still wouldn’t fight his friend, even as Dennis brought up a bunch of past history between the two of them from years ago. Dennis even spat on him but couldn’t get Andrews to fight. This has been built for over eight months as Dennis still hasn’t gotten Andrews to agree to the match.
Andrews is only doing it to stop Dennis and finally snapped, talking about how Dennis gave up on wrestling and got a job as a teacher before crawling back to them to get back in wrestling. Dennis called him out for being a user, like using their friend Dunne to get over in wrestling and then using wrestling to get his band over. That’s enough for both of them and tonight it’s Tables, Ladders and Chairs.
This was a GREAT video and maybe even the best non-WWE one I’ve ever seen. The story feels epic and I want to see these two guys fight, even though I knew nothing about their issues five minutes ago. That’s the sign of a very well told story and this feels like the real main event tonight, as I think it’s supposed to be.
Eddie Dennis vs. Mark Andrews
TLC and the winner gets a future title shot. Andrews punches him to the floor to start and hits a suicide dive as they fight up the aisle. That means it’s time to start in with the weapons, including Andrews cracking him in the back with a chair. The first ladder (which is only about five feet tall) is brought in but Dennis uses it to drive Andrews into the corner. Dennis drops a ladder on Andrews’ back but gets sent face first into one to cut him off.
A hurricanrana over the ladder has Dennis on the apron but he kicks a charging Andrews in the face. Stundog Millionaire on the apron knocks Dennis off the apron…and not through the table. Dennis is right back up with a powerbomb and the table STILL won’t break. Egads man. A running Razor’s Edge bomb doesn’t break it either as this is starting to get entertaining. With that not working, Dennis pulls out a huge ladder but stops to drop Andrews on the apron.
Dennis sets up another table next to Super Table but Andrews takes him down with a dive. Back in and Dennis is fine enough for a Razor’s Edge buckle bomb before wedging a chair into the corner. Another Razor’s Edge is countered into a hurricanrana into the chair and it’s time for a third table. Dennis catches him on top and tries a superplex, only to be reversed into a Canadian Destroyer onto the table…AND THAT DOESN’T BREAK EITHER! We get what sounds like a BOTCHAMANIA chant, which really doesn’t make a ton of sense. I know the tables were supposed to break, but what looks more painful: the table just breaking or the person hitting the table and stopping on what seems to be a hard surface?
Since Andrews should be somewhat dead, Andrews sets up the big ladder in the ring…which he’s going to need to reach the contract that is WAY too high up. Dennis catches him on the ladder and knocks him off the top, sending Andrews back first into a ladder in the corner. Well it’s probably softer than the tables. With the contract in his grasp, Dennis comes back down instead and pulls out another table, setting it up on the floor.
Another big ladder is pulled out but Andrews dropkicks it into Dennis’ chest. Andrews climbs the ladder for the big Swanton….and the ladder just slips out from underneath Dennis instead of breaking. That earns a TABLE chant and it’s kind of hard to argue against that one. Back in and Dennis spits at him so Andrews kicks him down and loads up another table to a big reaction.
Some chair shots keep Dennis down and Andrews goes up, only to have him get off the table and climb as well. The reverse inverted DDT off the ladder FINALLY breaks the table, drawing in some streamers from the crowd. Fans: “F*** YOU TABLE!” That’s enough for Dennis to climb up and win the title at 18:43.
Rating: B. It was entertaining, but there was almost no way they were living up to that awesome video. These guys beat each other up, but it didn’t help to have the table being the star of the match. Seriously, English tables are apparently the strongest things in wrestling. Anyway, this didn’t quite have the level of violence and intensity that it was going for. You can only do so much with that level of anticipation though and it held them back here. Still though, really entertaining with some good looking spots from Andrews.
Post match Andrews gets the hero’s sendoff.
We recap Tyler Bate vs. Walter (yes I know it’s capitalized), which is a clash of styles and sizes. Walter is a huge monster who says that while Bate is the Big Strong Boy, he’s the Big Man. Bate walks around here like a Conor McGregor knockoff and needs to grow up. Bate says that he’s the Big Strong Boy and he’s going to throw Walter around and become champion because he can.
Progress World Title: Walter vs. Tyler Bate
Walter is defending and gets played to the ring by a live violinist in a nice touch. A headlock sends Bate flying and Walter lets him go on the apron. Bate isn’t sure what to do so Walter takes him down by the arm instead. That’s spun out of and Bate scores with a dropkick. For some reason Bate agrees to a test of strength and is quickly taken down with another headlock. The fans are split here but seem to be more behind Bate. A slam doesn’t work for Bate but he ducks a chop (Walter’s signature).
Bate flips out of a German suplex and shoulders him to no avail. A slam makes the shoulder work (wrestling logic is weird) and Walter is knocked out to the floor. Back in and Bate goes after the leg but Walter chops him out of the air. That sets up the big chinlock with Walter smothering the much smaller Bate. Walter cranks on both arms and even stomps on Bate’s head to really crush him. Bate slips out so Walter turns him inside out with a chop, sending Bate out to the floor.
Back in and Walter lays on him a bit before laying Bate across the top rope and standing on his face. Bate’s right hands have almost no effect and Walter knees him in the face for good measure. A hurricanrana sends Walter to the floor but he catches the suicide dive and hits another chop. Somehow Bate is able to hit a vertical suplex and they’re both down on the floor. Now the suicide dive works a bit better and Bate has Walter in trouble for the first time.
The slugout goes to Bate and there’s the airplane spin to freak the fans out all over again. A pair of lariats puts Walter on his knees but he turns Bate inside out with one of his own. Bate slips out of a superplex attempt but can’t hit the Tyler Driver 97. Instead Walter dropkicks him into the corner and gets two off a powerbomb. Some more chops have Bate in trouble but he kicks at the leg and clotheslines Walter down. That means the deadlift German suplex for two and it’s time to slap it out again.
This one goes badly for Bate, as Walter takes him down into a heck of an STF. Bate makes a rope so Walter hits a dropkick to send him flying (great visual) into the corner. A top rope splash gives Walter two and Walter is spent. Bate’s sleeper has Walter in more trouble until he just drops back to break it up. As usual, the simple ideas often work best.
They climb the same corner and this isn’t going to end well. Bate manages an exploder superplex from the top and it’s an airplane spin torture rack of all things to keep Walter rocked. The camera shot going wide for that was awesome as Bate spinning the giant over his head looked great.
The Tyler Driver 97 gets two but Spinal Tap misses and Walter grabs the rear naked choke. Bate stands up (of course he does) and drops back for the break (with Walter looking stunned as he goes down). The hold goes on again but this time Bate backflips out of the corner for two. The THIRD choke only gets two arm drops so Walter hits the Fire Thunder Driver to retain at 30:15.
Rating: A-. Oh yeah that worked. I’m really not sure about Walter retaining as they had the place rocking on those near falls at the biggest show the company has ever had and the title change would have made a lot of sense, especially with the little guy overcoming the monster. At the same time though, this was a Rocky style story with Bate wanting to prove that he was more than a goof as he went the distance and took Walter to the brink. In that regard, this was an incredible story with Walter expecting to dominate but having to survive in the end. That’s the first Walter match I’ve ever seen and it certainly delivered in a big way.
Post match Seven and Dunne check on Bate as Walter literally clutches his title. We get the big show of respect and Walter says we’ll do this again. Bate is a little frustrated to end the show.
Overall Rating: B+. While it might have been a hair too long, this was a very entertaining show with nothing bad (I’m leaving the Havoc match off as that’s more me not being a fan of the style than anything else) and a great main event. I get the appeal of this place as it feels like a very fun wrestling promotion with some incredible talent (though talent you can see elsewhere) and good stories. It’s a lot more entertaining than NXT UK, as this had the emotions and stories with the good characters, most of which are completely lacking on the WWE side. I could go for some more of this stuff and the whole thing was a lot of fun.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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