NATURAL PROGRESSION SERIES V FIRST-ROUND MATCH:
Omari vs. Chris Ridgeway - 6.75/10
A very good showing for both men.
ROY JOHNSON vs. "PASTOR" WILLIAM EAVER - 4.25/10
They did some comedy. I didn't care for it. They had some action, too. Eaver pretty much face-planted on the floor when he attempted a dive.
TRENT SEVEN vs. ZACK SABRE JR. vs. CHRIS BROOKES (w/Kid Lykos) - 7.5/10
We get some comedy at WWE's expense early on. I don't normally have this problem, but seeing ZSJ and Seven be so friendly here when I was watching them be very unfriendly to each other a week ago at the RevPro show also in Greater London is something I'm just having trouble processing.
They started off the match proper by standing in a circle and taking turns hitting each other. They started selling their hands, arms, and wrists because they were hitting each other so hard, and while they were indeed hitting each other very hard, it was still very boring to watch because it was the same thing over and over and over and over again. That turned into both Brookes and Zack hitting Seven to he tried to convince them to go back to the hitting each other in a circle spot, then slapped them both so they both knocked him down. Yeah. We're back to comedy now. This is starting to feel like a real waste of all of these guys.
Ah. Finally. Some wrestling between Zack and Brookes. Unsurprisingly, it's really good. From there these guys proceeded to have a great three-way match. It's just a shame they wasted the first eight minutes of this match or else it really could have been something special.
PROGRESS WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Travis Banks(c) vs. T.K. Cooper - 7.5/10
We start off with respect but then T.K. tries to do his "circle game" nonsense but Banks tells him they'll be having none of that... but instead of using his words like they teach you in kindergarten, Banks used his hands and then his leg to do so in a not-so-nice manner, and that got us off to a hot start...
Wait. No. They're back to the nonsense and Banks gives in to it this time and lets himself get punched in the shoulder... in the middle of a freakin' world title match! Come on, guys!
Okay... these guys really should get DQed for throwing chairs and ring crew members at each other.
This was an intense but respectful title bout between brothers... until T.K. got frustrated and grabbed Banks' title to use as a weapon. Banks' other tag team partner, Chris Brookes, came out to stop him, which kind of makes Brookes a hypocrite because he did the same thing and worse last month (and it was Cooper who tried to stop him, so it's likely that this isn't altruism on Brookes' part so much as it is revenge. The fact that this all happened while the ref was conscious and paying attention rather during a ref bump like in last month's match with Brookes was very odd.
Cooper used Brookes' Octopush Stretch and flipped Brookes off while doing so. Brookes responded by pulling the referee out of the ring so Cooper couldn't win with his move and flipping him the bird right back. Cooper took Brookes out with a dive but this let Banks recover and nail him with a lariat and then the Kiwi Krusher. The fans booed heavily when Banks made the cover and cheered when Banks kicked out, but this sounded to me a lot more like them booing what they thought was going to be a "guys gets distracted by someone on the outside" finish rather than fans turning on Banks for Cooper. They did also book when Banks locked in the Lions' Clutch and got the win moments later, but it wasn't as heavy as it was for the nearfall.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - GREAT! Brookes and Cooper start shoving each other (Brookes started it). Cooper eventually tried to take Brookes down by Brookes defended the takedown and they wound up in the corner. Banks ran over to try to break it up and grabbed Cooper from behind to pull him off of Brookes... but Cooper, assuming it was Kid Lykos joining in the fray on Brookes' side, came around swinging and nailed Banks right the face with a big punch. And before he had a chance to apologize or explain himself, he was tackled by Brookes, who started throwing punches at him. Banks then came over and pulled Brookes off of Cooper, but only so that he could mount him and start throwing punches himself. Then Brookes went after Banks for throwing him off of Cooper and finally ring crew and security poured into the ring to break it all up... thought not before Cooper leaped over them and gave the other two a big Stinger Splash as they were trying to grapple with each other in the corner.
Brookes came out of this holding the title belt and went over to Banks... and he was probably intending on handing it back, but they've done an excellent job of putting a speck of doubt in my head about what his intentions were. In the end we never found out because Banks snatched it away from him before he could do anything with it.
Banks looked extremely disappointed on his way to the back, and with good reason: His partners' jealousy over his world title victory is pulling his world apart.
MORE COMEDY WITH TRENT SEVEN THINKING HE'LL BE IN THE ROYAL RUMBLE - Meh.
JINNY PROMO - AWESOME! Her arm is in a sling and her hand is in some sort of protective device. She managed to cut a babyface promo about how disappointed she is that her injury is preventing her from challenging for the title tonight while still managing to stay in her heel character. It was pretty amazing. And then she turned it back around into a heel promo again.
PROGRESS WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Toni Storm(c) vs. Chakara- 5.75/10
As if both being hand-picked by Jinny and heeling on the fans on her way to the ring wasn't enough to make her a heel, Chakara responded to Toni's offer of a pre-match handshake by nailing Toni with a spinning backfist. The shots of Jinny watching contemptuously from ringside were a bit overdone, but were quite good. They had a good babyface vs. heel match for the time they got, but as you might have guessed by that last qualifying statement, the women feel like they have gotten shortchanged on time once again.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Excellent. Jinny attacks Toni Storm and beats her down, but bails as soon as Toni starts to recover. I f*cking hate that f*cking Jinny so f*cking much! Then Nina Samuels ran out and attacked Toni from behind, and all three heels started to put the boots to Toni. Samuels picked up the title belt and handed it to Jinny, and they all posed above Toni's fallen body.
MARK ANDREWS & DANNY JONES vs. JIMMY HAVOC & MARK HASKINS (w/Vicki Haskins) - 7/10
Before the match started, Eddie Dennis came out and cut an excellent heel promo on Andrews, claiming that Andrews is the real reason FSU broke up because Andrews saw himself as the star. He tried to convince Danny Jones not to team with Andrews, claiming that Andrews is just using him. Dennis (who is out of action due to a torn pec) vowed to follow Andrews to every single show until he was able to have a match against him. Andrews did a great job of playing the hurt friend who still kind of shocked at all of this and can't understand what got into his friend's head to make him start to see the world in such a distorted way, and Jones not backing down from Dennis did a good job at making him feel like someone I should really care about rather than the next random Welsh dude that Haskins has chosen to team with.
Dennis then left to go do commentary, and while Andrews was distracted with that, Havoc & Haskins jumped him and Jones to start things off. This was a great tag team match with Jones as the babyface in peril. The heels definitely should have been DQed for Vickie's blatant interference on the finish, though. They attacked Andrews & Jones after the match a bit as well. As Andrews & Jones made their way to the back, Eddie Dennis got up from the commentary table to mock them and get in Andrews' face.
DOUG WILLIAMS vs. "FLASH" MORGAN WEBSTER - 7.5/10
Doug Williams is awesome, even at 45. He and Webster had a great match. Webster won after Vicki Haskins came out with a baseball bat covered in barbed wire. Williams was unhappy and confronted Webster after the match, and Webster protested that he didn't know anything about it (which seems true). Williams believed him.
PROGRESS ATLAS TITLE MATCH:
WALTER(c) vs. Timothy Thatcher - 9.75/10
Thatcher turned down WALTER's handshake. Then they spent the next twenty minutes or so BEAT THE F*CKING SH*T OT OF EACH OTHER. There were also stories about WALTER using his size his advantage to prevent Thatcher from throwing him, Thatcher working over WALTER's hand, and WALTER working over Thatcher's head (including, to quite one of the announcers, "HE CHOPPED HIM RIGHT IN THE F*CKING FACE!"), but the real story here was the physical beating these two gave each other. And the best part about it was that there was no "PRO WRESTLING" bullsh*t in here. No comedy, no indy standoff, no mirror image crap, and nothing done just because it would look cool. There was no "I'm going to just let you hit me to the show how tough I am," no "let's calmly take turns hitting each other to show how hard we can kick or chop" and no "I'm going to no-sell stuff to show how tough I am." There was no "fighting spirit" in puro sense; just the actual fighting spirit in these men's souls that willed them to keep going. There weren't even many suplexes or other grappling moves. This was a professional fight.
So why isn't this a 10/10? Because "perfect" means "perfect" and these guys were on the outside forever without being counted out. I LOVED this match so I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. Trust me. I went back and looked and tried to see if some part of their bodies accidentally broke the plane of the ring often enough to argue that they wouldn't have been counted out even if the ref had been doing his job but it just didn't happen. Like with last year's Okada vs. Omega match at the Tokyo Dome, this is going to be one of those 9.75/10s that I enjoyed more than some 10/10s, but I can't give it the full 10 because it does have that one flaw.
This was the usual great show from PROGRESS, with great action and storyline progression, and this time we even got a Match of the Year candidate as our main event! That, plus the fact that the storyline stuff on this show seems to have been several rather important moments rather than just smaller scale progression makes this show a must-see for any PROGRESS fan, just as the main event is must-see for any wrestling fan.