With Chapter Sixteen, we arrive at Progress’ last chapter of 2014 and on top of that, it is the one-year anniversary of Jimmy Havoc winning the Progress Championship. In…. “celebration,” in a promo before the show, Havoc does perhaps the most babyface thing he’s ever done: burn the Progress Staff, the thing derided as the “Nazi Staff” for multiple shows. Besides that, we see the battle between the Swords of Essex and a new group make their presence known.
FSU vs Screw Indy Wrestling (Tag Team Titles match)
Zack Gibson vs Ali Armstrong (Natural Progression Series semi-final)
El Ligero vs Michael Gilbert (Street Fight)
Stixx vs RJ Singh (Career vs Career)
Paul Robinson vs Will Ospreay
Marty Scurll vs Noam Dar
Jimmy Havoc vs Rampage Brown vs Dave Mastiff (Progress Championship match)
1. Natural Progress Finals Locked In
A lot of Chapter Sixteen is effectively setting up for Chapters 17-20 (which will conclude our retrospective). We have several big events that happen here, one that almost gets overshadowed is the second Natural Progression Series is winding down, with the second semi-final match between Zack Gibson and Ali Armstrong, the winner to face Flash Morgan Webster in the finals.
This match is a lot of ground-based, very “wrestler’s wrestling,” with the two using a variety of holds and strikes that aren’t as super flashy or aerial or high risk. This however provided a real good ebb and flow of who had advantage and really made one wonder who would take the match. The final sequence sees Armstrong deliver his own version of the Angle Slam before attempting and missing his Gains Bomb. Gibson uses a mid-rope Codebreaker for a massive near fall before delivering a swift penalty kick to Armstrong before locking in the Shankly Gates and get the win via submission. It’ll be Webster vs. Gibson for the finals, two of the most underrated wrestlers even in 2018.
2. Career vs. Career
Last Chapter saw friends unleash a lot of venom on one another that nearly came to blows that have led to this match between RJ Singh and Stixx, two who in Progress up to this point haven’t set the world on fire like Havoc or Ospreay or Andrews, but who have provided us with a nice mid-card match with large stakes as both have put their careers on the line.
As the two face one another, this match has a different feeling from the one later on in the show that is also between two former friends (which we’ll get too). Whereas the former will feel more vicious, this one feels more of a sense of purpose. Singh and Stixx are less “I have to beat you for my sake” and more “I have to beat you for your sake.” This is shown when Stixx attempts a springboard dive to the outside, but Singh evades and gets back into the ring and straight up demands that the ref not count Stixx out, demanding “Paul” get back in the ring to finish this right.
And “finish” do they, with Stixx catching Singh from top rope and delivered a devastating power bomb for the win, effectively “retiring” RJ Singh, who cuts a heartwarming promo thanking the fans, Progress and yes, even Stixx for the pleasure. The segment concludes with two pictures: one of the two before this match started and one of the two at the beginning of their careers. It provides a nice ending that will be deeply contrasted with another match later on.
3. The Faceless
The opening match had FSU once again defend their tag titles, this time against the ever devolving, and at this point wearing out their welcome, Screw Indy Wrestling. It was a decent match-up; all four are good at the whole wrestling thing. But this isn’t the last time FSU were involved with this show. After the Singh/Stixx match, Jim Smallman takes to the ring to host a raffle, with the winner getting a photo op with the tag champs. However, before they can begin, something begins happening as the ring is surrounded by men all dressed in black and wearing masks, and carrying a variety of weaponry. They, who would be known as the Faceless, storm the ring and lay waste to FSU.Continued below
This was a much needed injection the tag division needed. With the London Riots gone, the Swords of Essex disbanded, Screw Indy Wrestling on its last legs, there really were no major challengers for FSU, so this segment provided a tantalizing tease for the future, both in the identity of these Faceless men and if FSU could beat them.
4. You Die By The Swords of Essex
Will Ospreay. Paul Robinson. Formerly best friends, but that was a long time ago as they clash for the first time with the Ospreay’s Thunderbastard title shot on the line. The second of two matches that had a very personal feeling to it, but this one will not have a heartwarming end as Robinson immediately tries to go for a low blow before the bell, only for Ospreay to reveal that he had a cup on. The viciousness only intensifies as the match continued, with Ospreay stomping Robinson, Robinson regaining control and trying to strangle Ospreay with his own medical tape, to Robinson straight-up biting Ospreay’s nose.
The underlying story is the one of how well these two know each other. They’re able to twist and turn around one another. One area of that is where each were able to dodge one another’s kicks multiple times before Ospreay connects and tries to go for a suplex, only for Robinson to counter it into a hurricanrana. The other subtler story being told was about Ospreay coming off a recent neck injury and being more hesitant about performing more aerial moves. It isn’t the 630 Senton that eventually puts Robinson down but his OsCutter off the rope followed by the summersault DDT that would become known as the Essex Destroyer. That fear of flight is going to haunt Ospreay in the time to come.
5. Careening Towards Impact
The main event had Jimmy Havoc defend his championship belt against the powerhouses Ramapge Brown and Dave Mastiff. And when I say “belt” I mean it because after sixteen chapters, that Stupid Nazi Staff is gone. As Havoc unveils the new Progress Championship Belt, this was a long time coming. The staff may have been more “unique” but it was unique for all the wrong reasons. It wouldn’t be the last time we see the staff -it’d make a cameo in Chapter 46-, but for the sake of moving forward, this was for the best.
The debuting belt was probably the highlight of the match, unfortunately. This wasn’t a bad match, but when you compare it to matches such as the Mark Andrews ladder match, the screw job with Noam Dar and defenses that come after this, it’s probably the weakest defense in Havoc’s reign. The match started with the two challengers ganging up and eliminating Havoc from the equation for a bit before going after each other. They both get some great spots, such as Mastiff delivering a superplex on Rampage. Havoc eventually makes his way back in, there is lots of chairs use and several table spots (one table not breaking, the match invoking Botchamania for which the Chapter name earned its meme status). The end comes with Havoc hitting Rampage with the new belt before locking in a knee bar for the submission, but it’s not the end for Havoc…
WIll Ospreay comes out, fresh from his victory over Robinson, and we start to see where the bigger picture is leading. It has been building since Chapter Thirteen when they first encountered one another and we’ve finally reached it. Come Chapter Seventeen, Ospreay is cashing in his Thunderbastard shot. The first singles match between Will Ospreay and Jimmy Havoc is coming…
…And it’s not going to be pretty…