The march to the end of our retrospective continues with a killer Chapter featuring the (sort of) end to Mark Andrews’ time at Progress, the second Natural Progression Series tournament winner, a shocking tag team match and to top it all off a match that will set the stage for the rest of Progress Wrestling: Havoc vs. Ospreay I.
Tonight’s Stellar Card:
Eddie Dennis vs. Mark Andrews (Tag Team Championship)
Rampage Brown vs Mark Haskins
El Ligero vs Marty Scurll
Tommy End vs Dave Mastiff
Paul Robinson vs Noam Dar
Zack Gibson vs Flash Morgan Webster (Natural Progression Series final)
Jimmy Havoc vs Will Ospreay (Progress Title match)
While the big match was for Ospreay vs. Havoc later on, there was another important matter at Chapter 17: At the time, Mark Andrews had signed to TNA and this Chapter would be his big farewell (for a time). So for the start, a singles contest between Andrews and Eddie Dennis to determine sole ownership of the Tag Team Championship. A silly, maybe a bit nonsensical, idea that is immediately put the squash on when the Faceless interrupt and attack both of them again. As the Faceless take the shields to leave, Andrews crawls onto the mic and demands the Faceless beat them properly for the Championship.
So, Faceless #1 and #2 do so. In about two minutes.
It’s a shotgun blast of an opening to the Chapter as FSU do their best to mount some defense but the Faceless (including #3 outside) surgically take apart the beloved duo and win the Tag Team Championships to a chorus of boos. Andrews though, being Progress’ original babyface, doesn’t want his relationship with Progress to end like this, and challenges Eddie for a match later on in the card, to the massive approval from the fans. While disappointing that their reign ends like this, this angle provided an adrenaline shot for the Chapter and gave a big amount of heat to the Faceless.
2. Robinson is Hardcore
Who’s the most despised man in Progress? If you said Jimmy Havoc, i’d say you’re wrong. Jimmy may have gone on a reign of terror, but in the long run, Havoc is beloved by the fandom to the point where he got one of the biggest pops in the company’s history when he returned after a year away. No, for me the most despised man in Progress is Paul Robinson. The man who originally betrayed Will Ospreay. The little sadistic bastard that barely has a compassionate bone in his body. And I can’t help but respect Robinson a whole lot, in spite of all this shit in character he does because of his ability to commit.
Case in point: his match with Noam Dar here. It’s a good match, with a trade of Dar mocking him with Silly String to Robinson taunting the crowd. It’s when Robinson takes what his called a “Dar-li Chop” to his face that causes him to roll out of the ring. And we see why: Robinson’s nose is clearly broken, blood pouring out onto the wood floor. Like, a lot of blood. Still, the man presses on, playing into it as he licks his own blood. Even though Robinson does end up losing, tapping out to Dar’s Champagne Super-Kneebar, for me, Robbo went up a lot with matches like this.
3. Friends Stand United
This match between Mark Andrews and Eddie Dennis is simultaneously funny and sad to watch here in September 2018. “Funny,” because of the timing: Come the end of September Progress will be having their big show at Wembley Arena. One of those matches: a Tables, Ladders & Chairs match between Andrews and a fully despised Dennis. A match a year in the making with a friendship utterly destroyed.
The “Sad” part comes seeing how over these two were. Sure, this is an exhibition match, but you wouldn’t think that going by how hot the crowd was for this match. Massive “FSU!” chants throughout the match and cheers for every dive, strike, counter, multi-counter and so on. These two have amazing chemistry and played the match for both drama and comedic effect. When it comes to an end with Dennis planting Andrews with the Next Stop Driver it did feel like there was more in the tank, but that wasn’t what this match was about, as Eddie took to the mic to tell the audience that he had taken a full time position as a teacher (he has since gone full-time as a pro wrestler, which is great) and that Chapter 17 was also Mark’s birthday. As FSU’s theme played on, the two celebrated like mad. Even knowing what will happen, watching them these last few months move and grow brought a smile to my face.Continued below
I don’t doubt this match will factor into their upcoming Wembley match.
4. Flash Lightning
On top of Andrews’ “last” Progress match, we had the conclusion to the second Natural Progression Series tournament between Flash Morgan Webster and Zack Gibson. First things first: …man Zack, hope it’s not long before you would shave that head because you are losing the Iron Man match with your hairline. And yes, my own paranoia about my own balding head makes me a hypocrite but it’s my retrospective. Shut up. And hey, the crowd lay into Gibson about it amongst other things, it’s not just me noticing it!
Gibson has a size and power advantage over Webster who has a speed advantage. It’s a back and forth match. One such moment would be attempts to lock in the Shanty Gates, only to switch into a German suplex that Webster flips out of, only for Gibson to hit a Tiger Bomb and then a Penalty Kick, once again going for Shanty Gates only to have Webster immediately grab the ropes. It is that ebb and flow between the two that plays into the ending, as Gibson goes for another Tiger Bomb, only for Webster to counter with a hurricanrana and hold him down for the three count, winning the Natural Progression Series!
The aftermath has both Flash and Jim Smallman put Gibson over (despite the man refusing a handshake) before they get down to business. Flash chooses Pastor William Eaver (who is in the crowd! What a coincidence!), who had been eliminated, to enter the third Natural Progression Series. But before they can discuss when Flash cashes in his title shot, Jimmy Havoc and Isaac Zercher interrupt, Zercher immediately attack Flash from behind. Jimmy gets on the mic and tells Flash that he won’t be cashing in, because like hell what happened to Mark Andrews at Chapter Ten will happen to him. The two lay in more strikes into the hurt Flash…
…and then AC/DC’s Shoot to Thrill hits…
5. What Are You Willing to Do?
Havoc. Ospreay. A rivalry that built Progress. A rivalry that still echoes throughout the company and the British Wrestling scene to this day. Chapter Seventeen is where their first of five singles matches takes place. After Zercher is banned from ringside, Ospreay makes a beeline for Havoc and the match his on, the crowd on fire as he lays into Havoc. Ospreay slams Havoc into a wall, lands a massive running dropkick, counters Havoc’s attempt to get control with a tornado DDT, slamming Havoc’s head onto the wood floor.
And that’s before the two even get into the ring.
A theme that runs throughout their entire rivalry is the depths they (in particular Ospreay) are willing to sink to try and put the other away. As Jimmy showed in a promo before the show (warning: blood) that there really is nothing he isn’t willing to do to win. But what about fiery babyface Ospreay. Even here, we see Will being a lot more vicious, but there finally comes a point where he shows hesitance. It’s when Ospreay goes up to the top rope to perform his 630 Senton…and he hesitates. He knows how dangerous that move is. How it injured him. And multiple times throughout the match he hesitates and Havoc gains control, unleashing a superplex, biting and bleeding Ospreay’s ear.
It’s when Havoc kicks Ospreay off the post that the Champion disconnects the top rope.
The ending comes when Ospreay tries to hit a twisting shooting-star press from that (top?) middle rope, but he doesn’t have the height and he fails. Havoc lands the Acid Rainmaker, only for Ospreay to kick out at one! This further enrages Havoc as he unleashes a fury of stomps onto Will before one last Rainmaker seals the match.
This was a vicious match that showed both Ospreay’s continuing resilience and Havoc getting more and more desperate to keep his title. This first match of a legendary rivalry ended one of the best Chapters in Progress. Top-to-Bottom, even the matches not discussed in this retrospective, this was a great show to begin our march to Super Strong Style 16, Havoc’s fall, and Ospreay’s redemption.