EDDIE KINGSTON & SCOTTY DAVIS vs. THE WORK-HORSEMEN (Anthony Henry & J.D. Drake) - 7.5/10
Kingston is replacing Scotty Davis’ tag team championship partner Jordan Devlin. This was one heck of an opener, with hard strikes, great mat wrestling, and lots of action.
GISELE SHAW vs. CHAKARA - 5.5/10
A solid win for Shaw.
THE ANTI-FUN POLICE & WALTER vs. MORE THAN HYPE (L.J. Cleary, Darrin Kearney, & Nathan Martin) - 5.5/10
If you’re wondering how WALTER fits in here, and why he’s in this match rather than trying to regain the title he lost the last time we saw him, it’s because he is a replacement for Travis Banks. So yeah, that’s two out of three matches so far with replacements.
WALTER just stands on the apron while dumb comedy shenanigans happen. Then they had a decent match. I laughed my ass off at More Than Hype trying some sort of ridiculous set-up where two of them lifted the other up to throw him into a Canadian Destroyer attempt and WALTER just reversed it with a back body drop.
ROBBO’S RULES MATCH FOR THE PROGRESS PROTEUS TITLE:
Paul Robinson(c) vs. Kyle Fletcher - 5.75/10
Holy crap, Fletcher looks like an absolute giant next to Robbo. This was pretty disappointing, as it started off with pretty much just guys throwing kicks and Fletcher rag-dolling Robinson. It eventually picked up, they started to really play into the size advantage story. Robinson won via referee stoppage with strikes in the corner. The crowd thought this was bullsh*t, but I don’t understand why. I see this spot all the time in New Japan and always wonder why the ref is immediately jumping in to back the guy up but not calling for a stoppage. Either apply the five-count like the rules say, or declare the match over via referee stoppage. If the need to back the guy up is so urgent that you need to skip the five-count, then that should be enough to award a victory via stoppage. I this match there are no DQs (other than for using the title belt as a weapon) so there can’t be a DQ, so if Robbo is pounding on Fletcher in the corner and Fletcher isn’t defending himself, of it’s only natural that the referee should call for a stoppage.
TONI STORM vs. MILLIE MCKENZIE (w/Charli Evans) - 6.25/10
This match also has a replacement, as it was supposed to be the tag team debut of the Medusa Complex taking on the pareja increible of Toni Storm and Jinny after attacking Jinny at Chapter 101 and also calling Toni out in a video they put out back in August (yeah, it took them WAY too long to finally show up).
Charli Evans, who was injured earlier this week (which is what resulted in the change to the match), came out on the stage and distracted Toni, allowing Millie to sneak in and attack Toni from behind… which is the exact same thing they did to Jinny, which makes Toni look kind of dumb for falling for it, especially with Charli being injured and thus much less of a threat that she needs to pay attention to.
The match was lots of mean faces and German Suplexes, but that’s what I want out of a Millie McKenzie match. Charly Evans revealed her injury to be a hoax and ran down to ringside to try to push Toni off the top rope. For some reason this was not a DQ. Toni fought her off, but then got speared by Millie for the pin. I’m not crazy about the heels needing to cheat to win if we’re trying to establish them as a new force to be reckoned with, but this, combined with the post-match beating and Jinny making the save to end said beating do work together to establish that Toni and Jinny are going to need each other’s help to overcome this threat. Recognizing this, Jinny offered Toni a hand up, and Toni, very tentatively, accepted it.
ILJA DRAGUNOV vs. MALIK - 8.25/10
This was one hell of a non-dark Chapter debut for Malik. They put him in the semi-main event and made portrayed him as someone who could go toe to toe with Ilja freakin’ Dragunov. They must have some sort of plan for him. Also, spearing someone out of mid air will never not be the coolest spot in any match it’s found in.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Well… I guess it evened out to being very good? Ilja showed Malik much respect after their match, but they were both attacked by Eddie Kingston. Kingston cut what started out as an excellent promo about how he was “tired of making stars.” He specifically took credit for making LAX, Adam Cole, & Matt Riddle, and said that he was much better than anyone in NXT UK or AEW.
Then he started going on this weird tangent saying that he was a “fighter” whereas guys like Ilja were “actors.” I don’t understand where this came from or what it’s supposed to mean in kayfabe. He then told Ilja to tell “Uncle Paul” that Eddie was coming for “your boy.” Who is Ilja’s “boy,” exactly? The only tag team partner Ilja has that I can think of right now is WALTER in wXw, but Kingston specifically mentioned Triple H and NXT UK and never mentioned wXw, and WALTER and Ilja are enemies in NXT UK. This was very confusing, but Kingston certainly delivered his lines with a lot of passion.
PROGRESS WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Cara Noir(c) vs. Mark Andrews (w/Eddie Dennis) - 8.5/10
Cara Noir charged at Andrews while still taking his entrance gear off to jumpstart the match. That felt a little heelish. The announcers justified it by saying that he was angry that Eddie Dennis pushed him and mocked his entrance, but if that’s the case then why didn’t he attack Eddie Dennis?
Both guys worked over the neck, but the reals stories here were just the cool counters and then, at the end, the overbooking. With the exception of the fact that Eddie Dennis was ejected from ringside and then returned and even put his hands on the referee without the ref calling for a DQ, I thought the overbooking really added to this match. Not only were the nearfalls exciting, but it definitely felt like they could have changed the belt here, which definitely helps a title match, especially one so early in a champion’s reign (Andrews would have built-in feuds with both Cara Noir and Ilja, and also you’d have inevitable story of Dennis still thinking he’s the rightful champion and you know he’ll turn on Andrews at some point). Using the exposed turnbuckle- a callback to how Andrews and Dennis screwed Ilja Dragunov in the Andrews vs. Dragunov match at the previous show- was one of those excellent spots that uses continuity to really get you to bite on a nearfall.
This was a GREAT show from PROGRESS. Things really seem to be getting back on track after the disaster that was Chapter 102, and the prospects of Ilja vs. Kingston and Medusa Complex vs. Toni and Jinny really have me excited for the future.