March 31, 2017
From the Orlando Live Events Center in Orlando, FL
Lenny Leonard and Excalibur are your hosts.
PROGRESS co-owner Jim Smallman starts off the show in the ring. He welcomes the crowd to the show then talks to the crowd and asks if they are okay with some swearing and say they are an adult product. He then has some fun with the crowd and tells us we will have a good time and what to expect before telling everyone to enjoy themselves but be considerate of the people around you. He then introduces the us to our first match. I do like how Smallman interacts with the crowd before the shows and each match. It keeps the crowd engaged and he comes across as a likable guy.
Jimmy Havoc vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Havoc gets to the ropes as Sabre works the arm as Leonard talks about the start time being delayed due to the traffic. Sabre works a strangle hold that Havoc escapes from as we get a little bit of playful comedy from the two at the start. Havoc then cheap shots Sabre after a handshake and gets two with a small package. Havoc takes Sabre out with a tope then brings him back inside and kicks him in the face. Sabre avoids a running kick then hits a Northern Lights suplex and rolls through with a front chancery but Havoc is able to get his legs in the ropes. Sabre works a single leg crab now as Leonard talks about Sabre’s mean streak coming out lately in EVOLVE. Sabre ties up Havoc in a pretzel as Excalibur takes about fans getting on Sabre for making things look effortless and as a result Sabre is showing us how aggressive he can be. Havoc decks Sabre and hits a Death Valley Driver but Sabre comes back soon after that and gets a nearfall with a tiger suplex. Havoc counters an octopus hold with a Dudebuster for a two count as we see Sabre is busted open. Havoc attacks the cuts and hammers away but Sabre fights back until Havoc takes him down with a rolling elbow. Havoc gets a nearfall with a double stomp to the back as Sabre is pouring blood from a cut above his eye. Havoc hits a half nelson suplex but Sabre ducks the Rainmaker and takes Havoc over with a backslide and turns that into a bridging rollup and gets the win (10:42) ***1/4.
Thoughts: Good match. I would have loved to seen it go longer as it seemed like they were really getting into a groove before the finish. Although, its understandable the match wasn’t that long as these wrestlers worked multiple shows per day during WrestleMania weekend and busted their ass each time for the fans.
James Drake vs. Rockstar Spud
For those who watched the WWE UK Tournament, you saw Drake lose to Joseph Conners in the First Round. Drake attacks Spud from behind during his introduction. He tosses Spud outside and starts laying into him as Excalibur lets us know Drake started off in Spud’s entourage and how Drake has completely changed his ways and wants to prove he is more than just a character. Drake stays in control as the action heads back into the ring as he roughs up Spud then targets the back. He starts slapping Spud around while jawing with the fans then spits right in his face but that backfires as Spud goes nuts and attacks him. Drake boots Spud but Spud comes back with a snapmare and takes him outside with a dropkick. Spud flies out with a tope then stands on the guardrail right in front of Papa Hales and celebrates with the fans. Back inside, Spud heads up top and drops an elbow as he is getting the crowd into the match. Drake catches Spud with a suplex then folds him up with a powerbomb for a nearfall. Drake taunts Spud then tries for a tilt-a-whirl but Spud counters with a tornado DDT. Spud measures up Drake but misses a charge in the corner then hits the Mr. Mayhem (sitout DDT) for the win (9:29) ***. After the match, Spud gets applause from the fans as he gets up but Drake runs inside with a sneak attack. Spud then gets helped to the back as the crowd gives him more applause.
Thoughts: Another good match here. Drake bullied the smaller Spud and was able to get the win. The post-match attack came off well as these two remain in a feud.
Jinny vs. Toni Storm
Jinny is a character who comes from royalty and money I believe as Storm is from Australia and just 21 years of age. Jinny also only has a couple of years experience. They break cleanly in the corner then Storm shoves Jinny down. Jinny comes back with a hurricarana after that. Storm hits a roundhouse kick then they head into the corner where Jinny slaps her across the face. Storm fights back then shakes her ass and thrusts it in Jinny’s face. Jinny comes back and sends Storm into the corner with an armdrag then works her over. She catches Storm with a stretch and yells at her for being “nothing” compared to herself. Jinny attacks Storm in the corner but Storm fights back. Jinny takes Storm down and yells at her and gets two with a kick to the face. Jinny rolls outside and grabs an empty garbage bag from underneath the ring and puts it over Storm in an attempt to improve her wardrobe. Jinny runs Storm down and insults her while delivering some slaps but Storm fights back then rips off the bag. She hits a release German suplex then hits a thump and follows with a fisherman’s suplex for a nearfall. Jinny hits a few kicks and a knee lift after escaping from a move then heads on the middle rope but takes too long as Storm takes her off with a muscle buster as that gets two. Jinny escapes from a powerbomb attempt and slaps Storm across the face. Storm comes back with a headbutt then an air raid crash across the knee. She heads up top but Jinny yanks her off then puts her feet on the ropes after a rollup and gets the win (9:41) ***1/4.
Thoughts: These two women had themselves a really good match. Personally, they are two to keep an eye on in the future as they still have room to grow as performers. Jinny’s heel act was great and Storm can do some incredible things in the ring. With the WWE Women’s Tournament approaching, I hope these two are given consideration. They’ll impress if included.
South Pacific Power Trip w/ Dahlia Black vs. Sami Callihan & Shane Strickland
The SPPT are TK Cooper & Travis Banks. Callihan & Strickland attack to start the match. Banks and Callihan work a fast-paced sequence in the ring to start then Strickland comes in and takes Banks down with a dropkick. Cooper is in now and boots Strickland down after a reversal sequence. Callihan beats on Cooper and hits a running dropkick to the face of Cooper. He takes both men off of the apron then flies out and drives Banks into the guardrail with a tope. Banks is able to get back in and hit a tope of his own then Strickland flies out with a Fosbury Flop. Cooper heads up top and blows Dahlia a kiss before flying out with a tornillo as the crowd goes nuts. Banks gets launched into the fourth row by Callihan, who heads in and chops him hard. Cooper gets sent into the crowd by Strickland then takes him out with a flying body press from the guardrail. They finally head back into the ring after a flurry of offense where Strickland takes Cooper off the top with a spider suplex then Banks drills him with a coast-to-coast dropkick for a two count. Banks sends Strickland into his partner in the corner and hits them both with a cannonball. Banks and Strickland go back-and-forth until Callihan hits an air raid crash for two as Cooper makes the save. Cooper hits Callihan with a mafia kick then hits Strickland with a flatliner. Strickland makes the save after Cooper hit his partner with an axe kick and they go back-and-forth until Strickland catches him with an Ace Crusher. Things get fast and furious again as Cooper and Strickland tangle up their legs trying hook kicks as they get kicked down then Callihan and Banks kick each other down as the fans go nuts. Strickland is up top as Callihan picks Banks up for a powerbomb and comes off with a double stomp then Callihan locks on the Stretch Muffler. Cooper takes Strickland outside and kicks Callihan in the face a few times until he finally breaks the hold. Strickland comes back in and shoves the SPPT into each other but Banks comes back with an enziguiri and shortly after that the SPPT puts Strickland away with a nasty spike DDT (13:15) ****.
Thoughts: This was a blast to watch. It was balls to the wall action and never a dull moment and it stood out on this show as it was wrestled different than the rest of the matches. The finish here looked brutal too. I’m a fan of the SPPT and Travis Banks has a lot of potential, IMO.
Smallman mentions the passing of Kris Travis, which took place one year ago, as the crowd shows respect to Travis.
PROGRESS Atlas Championship Match: Trent Seven vs. Matt Riddle
Seven gets some heel heat by telling Smallman to say he wants to make this quick so he can go over to WWE Axxess. The match starts off with both guys trying to feel each other out. Riddle fires up and lights up Seven before hitting an exploder. Seven gets his knees up on a senton attempt then chops him hard in the corner. Seven puts his hand down his pants and licks it as he tries to chop Riddle but that fails. They are both outside of the ring where Riddle ducks a chop as Seven whacks the post. Riddle flies out with a tope but also hits the barricade as both men are down. Seven rolls Riddle back inside and tries for a superplex but Riddle turns that into a super fisherman’s buster. They both get up after a bit then trade German suplexes as both men are back down on the mat. They go back-and-forth as Riddle gets two with a bridging German suplex. Seven dodges a springboard kick then hits a Dragon Suplex and nearly puts him away with a piledriver. Seven now tries for an avalanche piledriver but Riddle slips out and hits a powerbomb for two. Tombstone gets two. Seven blocks a few strikes then hits the Rainmaker for a two count. Riddle fights back and hits a piledriver but Seven kicks out at one as Riddle is shocked but puts Seven right in the Bromission and gets the win (10:32) ****.
Thoughts: Another fun match to watch. It was back-and-forth with a lot of hard-hitting action and had everything you would want from a title match. Riddle is one of the most charismatic performers in wrestling today.
WWE UK Title Match: Mark Andrews vs. Tyler Bate (c)
Leonard lets us know the last time a WWE title was defended outside of the WWE was in 1994 when Alundra Blayze wrestled Bull Nakano for All Japan Womens Wrestling. These two trade holds to start out the match. The pace picks up now then they end in a stalemate after a fast-paced sequence. Bate surprises Andrews with a boot to the face but Andrews knocks Bate outside and hits a tope con hilo. Back inside, Andrews works the arm until Bate backs him into the corner then slaps him after the break. Bate works the arm now and bends back Andrews’ wrist as he is stretching him out. Bate lays into Andrews then slams his leg into the mat as he is now working the legs. Andrews comes back and breaks out of a double underhook with a hurricarana but Bate trips him up as he tried to hit a standing moonsault. Bate cuts off a springboard move with an uppercut but Andrews takes Bate out on the apron and hits a Sliced Bread #2 on the apron. Back inside, Andrews gets two with an inverted 450 then heads up top where Bate moves out of the way and runs Andrews over. Bate gets two with a delayed brainbuster then they slug it out on the mat then get up and trade strikes where Bate blocks a guillotine and hits a cradle tombstone for a nearfall. He catches Andrews with an airplane spin then turns him around in the opposite direction but Andrews gets himself on Bate’s shoulders for an inverted hurricarana. They trade splashes then Andrews gets a nearfall with the Vertebreaker. Bate rolls away from a shooting star press and follows with a super kick and after a brief flurry, puts Andrews away with the Tyler Driver (17:15) ***1/2.
Thoughts: Really good match although it lost a bit towards the end. For fans of the WWE UK Tournament, it was a bit different seeing Bate as the heel but he plays the role well. With the talent across Europe, I hope to see the WWE UK utilized more often than it has been in the United States.
PROGRESS Championship Match: Mark Haskins vs. Pete Dunne (c) w/ Tyler Bate & Trent Seven
Dunne, Bate, and Seven are known as British Strong Style. Haskins had to vacate the title due to a neck injury this past November. These two have a bit of a shoving match to start. Dunne runs Haskins over but Haskins fights back and gets a two count with a powerslam. Dunne bails as Haskins teases a dive then takes out Bate & Seven with a tope. Dunne knocks Haskins down but misses him with a moonsault to the floor and takes out his teammates as his ankle whacked the guardrail. Haskins lays into Dunne and sits him on the apron then charges down the aisle to hit a leg lariat. He tries it again but Dunne cuts him off with an elbow strike. Back inside, Haskins puts Dunne in a scorpion death lock but Seven jumps up on the apron for a distraction. Bate heads up there too as the referee kicks them both out. Dunne hits Haskins with a DDT then puts him in a surfboard. He roughs up Haskins then stomps his hands before breaking the fingers. Dunne targets the back and neck of Haskins for a while but Haskins finally fights back. Haskins dropkicks Dunne in the face and gets a nearfall with a Falcon Arrow as Excalibur jokes about no one kicking out of that move. Haskins lands some kicks but Dunne takes him down with an elbow strike. Dunne sets up for the Drop Dead (Bitter End) but Haskins counters with a DDT then puts on the Star Armbar as Dunne finally reaches the ropes. These two slap each other from their knees and get up where Dunne hits an enziguiri. Haskins comes back with a headscissors but tries it again and Dunne turns that into a tombstone. He hits another tombstone but Haskins kicks out as Dunne is in shock. Haskins shocks Dunne with a small packge but Dunne hits the Pedigree for two as that draws some boos from the crowd. They head up top now and get off as Haskins hits the Canadian Destroyer then rolls through with a Death Valley Driver for two. Dunne escapes from the Star Armbar and bites Haskins’ fingers before hitting the Drop Dead then uses a crossface of sorts to make Haskins tap (19:14) ****. After the match, the crowd gave Haskins an ovation.
Thoughts: Excellent match. It was competitive and compelling with the crowd invested the entire time. The story was Dunne going after Haskins’ neck and at the end it paid off as Haskins had to submit. Dunne is one of the better heels in all of wrestling.
Smallman thanks the crowd before the show ends.
Final Thoughts: From top to bottom this was a tremendous show. One of the most entertaining I’ve seen all year. It had a wide variety of matches and unique talents. PROGRESS knows how to put on a good show and in their first show on American soil they hit it out of the park. I highly recommend this show, especially for those curious about the UK scene as this card is stacked with talent. For my money, the best show that took place during WrestleMania weekend.
Here is my schedule for the rest of the week:
Thursday: Highspots Shoot Interview with Curtis Hughes
Friday: WWF Madison Square Garden 11/25/89
Sunday: Mid-South Wrestling 8/26/82
Sunday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 11/26/89
Monday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 12/2/89
Tuesday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 12/3/89
Wednesday: WWN Mercury Rising Supershow 4/1/17