Progress is one of the companies at the top of the British wrestling tree, and they seem to have been rattling off shows at a hectic pace in the last few months. Their latest show, Chapter 53: Fate Loves The Fearless, took place at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, with Carl Gac in attendance.
Before this show even started a man on a mission to make his way in Brit Wres, Spud, was out shaking hands with everyone in the queue. The man who many know from his time in Global Force Wrestling, recently took a bang to the head and now believes himself to be back in 2002. Now, as a trainee with only nine months experience, Spud is getting himself around as many events as possible to join ring crew and learn from the more experienced wrestlers he comes across. Seeing him walk the entire length of the queue, and shake hands with every single person, before taking his spot with other trainees inside the Ballroom, shows that with a little bit of luck Spud will go far.
Progress announced that a pre show match would take place prior to the start of the main card, with many speculating as to who could take part in the match. Some thought it may be the aforementioned Spud 2002 who got a chance to impress, but it turned out to be two ProJo trainees in Spike Trivet and Connor Mills. Both men have made big strides as part of Progress’ Freedom’s Road shows, and deserved the chance to wrestle in front of a sold out Electric Ballroom crowd. In a solid match, Mills got the win after an impressive 450 Splash onto Trivet. Trivet has a fantastic gimmick, the Tory lover who loves to let people know how much better he is than them, and in the current political climate is the perfect heel.
The main card for Chapter 53 looked like one of the most stacked in a while, with a few big names from the United States added to the card to challenge some of the top stars in the company.
The first match of the show saw the massively popular CCK pairing of Chris Brookes and Kid Lykos take on Ricky Starks and Aaron Solow, also known as Extra Talent-ed. These two teams have wrestled each other on shows all over the country, with this match having the number one contendership for the Progress tag team championships on the line. Solow is well known as the boyfriend of WWE star Bayley, and he uses that to gain himself some great heat with the crowd. At one point during the match, after receiving a lot of abuse from the crowd, he tied his hair in typical Bayley fashion and hit her patented Bayley to Belly suplex, but couldn’t get the win. Brookes and Lykos are one of the hottest teams in the UK right now, and got the win to go forward to challenge for the tag titles at some point in the future.
Damian Dunne recently brought his “Anti Fun Police, Chief Deputy Dunne” persona to Progress, and has been on a mission to rid the comapny of any fun. His opponent Chuck Mambo couldn’t be any further from what Dunne loves, his surfer dude style gets the crowd well behind him, but it was Dunne who got the win after a draping DDT from the ropes put Mambo away. Dunne looks determined to get rid of all the fun in Progress, but it remains to be seen who his next victim will be.
After his Origin tag team with Nathan Cruz was disbanded, Zack Gibson has been put together with James Drake and they look to be set to cause havoc amongst the Progress roster. Gibson may very well be the most hated man to step in a wrestling ring, with the crowd revelling in booing him out of the building. Gibson and Cruz were given the task of facing the young team of Never Say Die, ProJo trainees Dillon D’Angelo and Alex Cupid. The two young high flyers put in a valiant effort, but the more experienced and hard hitting pair got the win after plenty of double teaming on their smaler foes. This was exactly what needed to happen in this match, if Gibson and Drake want to they could be a massive force in Progress. If Never Say Die continue to improve they will be main stays of the tag team roster for years to come.
The final match of the first half saw London Riots team mates James Davis and Rob Lynch go one on one, after asking for a new challenge in the company. The added incentive of a future Atlas title shot on the line for the winner gave this match a little bit more interest. With Lynch’s mother in the front row, this seemed like a big match for both men. They started off by not looking like they wanted to hurt each other, but that soon came to an end with both men throwing everything at the other. Massive suplexes, chops, dives, power bombs, this match had it all. It came to an end when Lynch went up to the top rope and looked to hit the Spiral Tap. With Davis moving out of the way, Lynch looked to re-injure the shoulder he first hurt back during Super Strong Style weekend in May. Despite looking like he didn’t want to, Davis took advantage of the injury and made his partner tap out after focussing on the shoulder.
What followed was one of the most emotional moments i’ve seen in British wrestling. Lynch took the microphone and explained that he is a broken man, both in terms of his body and his life and he needs to walk away from wrestling to recover. The crowd stood in appreciation of him, and Davis embraced his partner as both men shed tears in the ring. As Lynch knelt to show his appreciation, Davis took his customary cricket bat and broke it over his back. Davis explained he had had enough of Lynch and it was his time to get to the top. As fans we should have known that Lynch’s mother being in attendance something big was going to happen, on this occassion it really did.
The second half of the show started with Progress Champion Pete Dunne facing the Pansexual Phenomenon Jack Sexsmith. Dunne is currently refusing to defend his title, whilst at the same time he is being allowed to chose the opponents for Travis Banks (the man who will face him at Alexandra Palace with the title on the line). Banks is also currently choosing Dunne’s opponents, with Sexsmith being the latest challenger for the leader of British Strong Style. Sexsmith had the backing of every single person in the building, but Dunne really brought his A game.
Dunne threw Sexsmith around the building, through chairs and even attacked crew members who were trying to stop him. Once they made it into the ring, Dunne didn’t let up. Sexsmith managed to attack with Mr Cocko, a massive DDT and a Destroyer, but Dunne had the final say getting the win after hitting a Pedigree at ringside and the Bitter End in the ring for the three count. Afterwards he attacked Sexsmith with his own Ugg boot, the champion looked extremely strong despite not defending his title.
Progress women’s champion Toni Storm defended her title against Candice LeRae. Both women recently took part in the tapings for WWE’s Mae Young Classic tournament, and if this match is anything to go by then they should both do well under the WWE umbrella. They threw everything at each other, with the crowd struggling to choose who they wanted to win. After everything, and with Candice looking like the biggest threat to Storm’s title so far, it took three consecutive pile drivers to put the challenger away. With Progress’ big show at Alexandra Palace coming up in around six weeks time, it’ll be interesting to see who Storm ends up facing next.
The odd couple tag team of Mark Haskins and Jimmy Havoc were handed a tag team title shot against the BSS pairing of Tyler Bate and Trent Seven, after both had demanded the right to a title shot. It may not have been what they were expecting, but they put up a good fight. BSS love nothing more than taking matches through the crowd, with chairs used as useful weapons along the way. Havoc and Haskins took the fight to the champs, and matched them for the majority of the match. Everything came tumbling down when Pete Dunne came to ringside dragging Haskins’ wife Vicky with him. Haskins looked to rescue his other half, but it lead to confusion and eventually the challengers lost the match. Havoc blamed Haskins for the loss (after stating at the recent show in Birmingham that Haskins puts his family before his career). Both men were furious and had to be dragged apart by crew members and wrestlers from the locker room, including peace maker Flash Morgan Webster. Havoc and Haskins looked destined to fight each other one on one down the line, with potential for Webster to be involved in some capacity as well.
The main event of the night saw Travis Banks take on the massive Keith Lee. Lee is the latest man chosen by Pete Dunne to face his number one contender Banks, and this was a war between two of the best professional wrestlers in the world right now. With Dunne on commentary, they put on one of the best matches in a Progress ring this year. Lee is a freak of an athlete who is just as happy flting over the top rope as he is chopping his opponent with his giant sized hands. As expected Lee drew blood on the chest of Banks with his cops, but Banks held his own with some of his hard striking offence taking Lee off his feet. The sight of someone of Lee’s size leaving his feet to hit a huricanrana, or going to the top rope to attempt a moonsault is a sight to behold. It was Dunne who became Banks’ downfall once again, causing the distraction to see Lee get the pinfall.
Post match, Dunne, Seven and Bate attacked Banks and were looking to destroy him. His allies CCK attempted to make the save, but were taken out by BSS. With Bate and Seven holding Banks, Dunne raised his sledgehammer and looked like he was set to hit him over the head. Then some familiar music hit, and the entire crowd in the Electric Ballroom lost their minds. Banks’ former South Pacific Power Trip team mates TK Cooper and Dahlia Black rushed the ring and sent British Strong Style packing. Cooper and Black were forced to leave the UK and return to their native New Zealand following Chapter 47, when their Visa’s expired. It was only a few months ago that the suprise debut of CCK in Manchester lead to one of the loudest pops ever heard in the company. Having been in attendance for both surprises, the return of Cooper and Black blew that response out of the water.
After being left stuck in the middle of the ring between allies CCK and SPPT, Brookes and Lykos stepped aside and allowed Banks to re-unite with his fellow Kiwi’s. When they left the company, Progress owner Glen Joseph promised SPPT a tag title shot anyhwhere in the world on their return. With shows in New York and Boston coming up in the next couple of weeks, perhaps we’ll see that match with British Strong Style happen sooner rather than later.