PROGRESS TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Grizzled Young Veterans(c) vs. Aussie Open vs. Scotty Davis & Jordan Devlin - 7.5/10
This was originally supposed to be just Aussie Open vs. GYV but Scotty Davis announced that he was cashing in his Natural Progression Series trophy to get added to this match, and with Jordan Devlin as his partner.
There was a lot of action going on here, though without too much of a story. Seeing Devlin finally get something after the excellent year he has had in PROGRESS was a nice touch, but it has also been a little weird because all of his great work has been in the singles division.
PETE DUNNE vs. CARA NOIR - 6.75/10
Cara Noir being revealed as the mystery opponent for Dunne got a very big pop. This was my first exposure to him so I wasn’t sure what to expect. A lot of his stuff was good and I like his style, but he did a pretty poor job of selling Dunne’s damage to his feet, which was the story of this match. They did a good job of getting Cara Noir over by having him kick out of a lot of Dunne’s stuff and having Dunne put him over on the mic after the match, but he really needs to work on his selling. Dunne also vowed that he would return to indy wrestling at some point, and promised Cara Noir a rematch.
MOUSTACHE MOUNTAIN vs. KEITH LEE & MATT RIDDLE - 7/10
There was a lot of gaga before the match, which wouldn’t necessarily be a problem on other shows, but at this point we’re almost one hour and twenty minutes into this show and I’m still waiting for the third match to get started.
Riddle needs to knock the Goldberg sh*t off. I hate it when wrestlers take backstage crap and play it out in the ring to get smark pop. Focus on telling your story in the ring instead of crap that gets cheap pops or laughs.
They did a good job with the story of the size differential, but some bits (especially with Trent Seven) came off as oddly comical, which hurt my enjoyment of the match. Not that the match wasn’t great, but I think if they had tried to do things straight instead of Seven playing up some of his goofball qualities (and Lee and Riddle playing into those a bit), some parts would have come off better.
PROGRESS WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Jordynne Grace(c) vs. Meiko Satomura - 7.25/10
A great and exciting rendition of the arrogant young punk vs. the old veteran. I’m fine with Meiko winning the title even if she isn’t going to stay around and hold it for very long because the time it takes Grace to win it back is time that they have bought to rebuild the rest of the division to provide long-term challengers for Grace.
RUMBLE MATCH TO CROWN THE FIRST-EVER PROGRESS PROTEUS CHAMPION - 5.5/10
They showed a long and wacky video package revealing that this title was found at the bottom of the sea or some such nonsense. They put a bunch of words on the screen like “shifting” and “amorphous,” as well as showed a bunch of wrestlers, but at no point did they ever TELL ME WHAT THE F*CK A PROTEUS TITLE IS AND WHAT MAKES IT ANY DIFFERENT THAN THE OTHER TITLES.
We were eventually told that champion gets to dictate the rules of the title (and they later clarified that you make your decision when your title reign starts and you can’t change it). Okay… so what’s to stop the champion from saying that he only needs to pin someone for a fraction of a second while a challenger must pin the champion for twelve hours straight, or some other such nonsense like that?
I certainly did not need a long comedy break in the middle of this, never mind a former referee coming in at #29 to do more of it. There were some nice moments in here, but on the whole, this was a mix of crap that went on for WAAAAAAY too long. Maybe a long-time PROGRESS fan will feel differently, but I found myself getting more and more annoyed as this went on, and just wanting it to end so we could get to the main event already.
PROGRESS UNIFIED WORLD TITLE MATCH:
WALTER(c) vs. David Starr - no rating, frustrating segment
Basically, Starr and WALTER beat the sh*t out of each other for a long while, doing all of the stuff you’d expect and with some big kick-outs, but the match really felt stuck in second gear. We would soon learn why.
We got a ref bump, followed by Starr getting the visual pinfall on WALTER to keep him alive as a challenger. A new ref soon showed up, getting pushed out onto the stage by Eddie Dennis, who was holding the contract he won last year at Wembley Stadium, which apparently is an MITB-style title shot, so this is now a Triple Threat match. He then pointed out that a Triple Threat match has no DQs, and right on cue, a masked man hit Starr in the back with a chair. He set up the chair around Starr’s neck… and then they both patiently waited for Eddie Dennis to get in the ring. It very weak, and very much felt like Starr was now sitting here, waiting for a spot to be done to him. The masked man revealed himself as Mark Andrews, which happened a split second before Dennis stomped the chair into Starr’s throat, so we didn’t get a very good angle of this big injury spot. Dennis then pinned Starr with a foot on the chest to win the title. WALTER, meanwhile, apparently just disappeared, as I didn’t think he should have been down anywhere near this long. Eddie then cut a promo ranting at the fans for disrespecting him even though he has been with PROGRESS forever and has never been champion until now. We never really got a good explanation for why he and Eddie are friends again.
The problems I had with this are as follows:
1. As I mentioned above, the execution here was not good, as from the moment Dennis comes out, Starr (and the disappearing WALTER, as well) stops being a real person and turns into a prop for Eddie Dennis’ big moment, just sitting there waiting to get hit, as if one chairshot would keep him down this way given everything we’ve seen.
2. The people have been SOOOOO behind David Starr this year that it’s not even funny, and now we’ve taken this HUGE main event of Starr vs. WALTER, with all of it’s history and all of the other little messages surrounding it, and we’ve turned it into nothing but a building block for something else, and that something else SOOOOO much lesser.
3. WALTER’s title reign was EPIC. He was an excellent monster heel, and instead of paying it off at the end with some babyface slaying the monster, he loses it to another heel inserting himself in a match midway, and with the champion not even getting pinned. We’ve still got a cheating heel champion, but we’ve flushed everything that has been built up over the past year and a half down the toilet and just hit the reset button.
This was a very disappointing show from PROGRESS. The ringwork was nowhere near as good as it has been for their big shows in the past, and the mishandling of such a huge main event with such a fantastic history and crowd support behind it is a HUGE black mark on the booking team’s record. If WWE won’t let Starr beat WALTER then have WALTER beat him clean and start building up a babyface who they WILL approve of beating WALTER.