What’s this?! Another Progress review and not on a Saturday? Well, yes, except we’re not heading into the past to talk about a Chapter for our Summer TV Binge. Instead, we have a special Five Thoughts on a Progress show that happened Tuesday as part of the promotion’s ongoing “Coast-to-Coast” Tour of the United States. Multiversity alums Jessica Camacho, James Johnston and myself went to the show in New York City, so I thought it’d be nice to talk about this show. It’ll allow us to not only talk about where Progress stands right now, but it also allows me to convey my emotions on this event, being my first Progress live event and the first indie show I’ve ever gone to.
Taking place at La Boom nightclub in Queens, the Card:
Eddie Dennis vs TK Cooper
Natalia Markova vs Ashley Vox (Winner challenges for the Women’s Championship in Detroit)
Mark Haskins (w/ Vicky Haskins) vs Flash Morgan Webster in a Submission Match
CCK vs LAX for the Tag Team Championships
Grizzled Young Veterans vs Sexy Starr in a Tag Team Thunderbastard Qualifier Match
Matt Riddle vs Mark Andrews
British Strong Style vs Jimmy Havoc, Eddie Kingston & Brody King
Warning: As this is a review from the live show, it is not on Demand Progress yet. So, spoilers be in here.
Progress’ Coast-to-Coast Tour is playing a very integral part in the “canon” of Progress as they march the road to their biggest show in company history: taking place at the SSE Arena, Wembley on September 30th. It is set to have a Tag Team Thunderbastard match, every title on the line and the super dream match between Pete Dunne and Ilja Dragunov. The main event was seemed to be set as well: the 2018 Super Strong Style 16 winner, Zack Sabre Jr. would challenge for the Progress Championship.
However, it wasn’t meant to be. Due to Zack’s contractual obligations with New Japan Pro Wrestling, Zack had to drop out from Wembley. So, Progress came up with a new plan: 3-and-In. Basically, From Chapter 74, the Coast-to-Coast tour, and Chapter 75, any male competitor that doesn’t have a Wembley match so far (eliminating Dunne, Dragunov, Atlas Champion Doug Williams and challenger Trent Seven, and anyone in the Tag Team Thunderbastard match) that can lock in three consecutive singles victories will be added to the main event.
I say this because, on top of it being a pretty cool idea, it elevates the importance of the tour and a lot of the singles matches going on while also telling their own stories. Dennis vs Cooper was a nice, peppy match to start the night that played off of Cooper getting injured at the last show Progress did in NYC last year and Dennis really digging into that.The match between Haskins and Webster was a more vicious match that served as the big blowoff to a story dealing with both of them along with Haskins’ wife, Vicky (genuinely one of the most compelling stories in Progress this last year). Finally, the match between Riddle was a shotgun of a match, quick but punchy and served as an emotional end to one competitor’s run.
As of the end of NYC, the Three-and-In standings are as followed:
Andrews, Cooper, Elliot Sexton, King, Bate: 0
Ricky Shane Page: Eliminated
2. Progress Family
WWE has its universe. Progress has its family.
This show’s venue had a very intimate feel, about five-hundred people in a well air conditioned club (of which everyone was eternally grateful as the Hellheat continues the collapse of human civilization). The crowd was hot right off the beginning, starting a “Please Come Back!” chant before the first match started. As two queer people, Jessica and myself cheered our heads off for Ashley Vox, Jack Sexsmith and David Starr, along with the rest of the crowd (the former also earning a “Please Come Back!” chant even in defeat) and we booed the heels so hard. While I’ve seen Zack Gibson get booed harder (because he is one of the best heels in the business), it was still so thunderous. This wasn’t a crowd that was trying to get itself over (glaring daggers at you, Extreme Rules Pittsburgh crowd), it was a crowd out to enjoy the wrestling and respect the wrestlers.Continued below
For me, there was one moment that really sold this feeling of intimacy. It was during the CCK vs LAX match (and don’t worry, we’ll talk more about that match soon). One asshole in the crowd called Jon Gresham a midget and the crowd erupted into boos, starting a “Don’t Be a Dick!” chant, remembering Progress’ one rule. It’s stuff like that that makes you remember there are good wrestling fans out there and when they gather and are hot for a good show, it’s awesome.
3. TAG TEAM WRESTLING
Okay. Ready for this.
CCK vs LAX (Latin American Xchange) for the Tag Team Championships is not only going to be in Progress’ Top 10 Matches of 2018 but it’s going to be in a lot of people’s Best Tag Matches (maybe Best Matches in general) of 2018 as well. Easily, this was Match of the Night and while Chris Brookes and Jon Gresham (who rejoined his former CCK buddy after Kid Lykos broke his collarbone Sunday at the Boston show) were amazing in this match, this felt like another star making match for LAX in a year where they’ve had star making matches.
This match was about twenty minutes of pure fire. CCK played it a bit heelish, getting in cheap shots with the ref’s back to them. But this was a match where the crowd was cheering everyone from move to move, bouncing a little comedy with a lot of intensity until it became False Finish City. On at least three occasions we were one-tenth of a second away from the hometown boys becoming the new Progress Tag Team Champions and every person in the crowd was off their seats, cheering and banging the railing (including myself, as my hurt thumb can attest to). Multiple Chants of “This is Progress!”, “This is Awesome!”, “C! C! K!”, “L! A! X!” and more tore through that venue and while CCK retained in the end, no one lost that match.
At the end, Jim Smallman put put LAX over massively, calling them a credit to the U.S. and New York City and that whether in America or the United Kingdom, they would love to have them back, to the massive approval of the standing ovation. Seriously, between this and their match against the OGz at Impact’s Slammiversary last month, if you are not watching these two, you’re making a mistake. It’s these matches that elevate and show why tag team wrestling is incredible, especially when you compare it to the desolate division on Monday Night Raw right now.
4. Go Home Happy
Our main event: on one side, the team nicknamed the Three Kings: the debuting Eddie Kingston and Brody King, alongside the King of the Goths and someone you should all be familiar with if you’re following our rewatch: Jimmy Havoc. On the other side, one of the hottest teams in wrestling today: Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, Pete Dunne: British Strong Style. Not unlike the CCK/LAX match, it tore the roof off the building but for different reasons.
If the CCK/LAX was a grand example of tag team wrestling, this six man main event was a grand example of tag team entertainment. That isn’t a slight at all. If you’ve ever watched some PWG tag matches, you may have an idea of what I’m talking about. It was very comedic focused, but not without some brutal spots (Pete’s finger biting, Jimmy’s slicing of finger webbings with a piece of paper) but at the end, a lot of spots had us all in the crowd, admittedly pretty drunk, cheering and whooping. Trent Seven with his great comedic timing and selling when up against Eddie Kingston as both groups try to rebalance him.
The whole notion of “tagging” goes out the window real quick as it degenerates into brawling around the ring, including Pete and Trent borrowing shoes from the audience to hit their opponents with, Jimmy’s eye pokes of doom, and then a massive spot where the massive Brody King performs a tope con hilo over the top rope and wipes out all five of the other competitors, right in front of me, Jess and James, which earned a massive cheer. The end wasn’t far off with the six eventually back in the ring and trading blows, seeming like the Three Kings were going to go down before getting back up and flipping the finger. British Strong Style grabbed those fingers and “snapped” them before a Triple Pedigree (they make their Papa Haitch proud) seemingly ends it but no! In the end, it would be Tyler Bate’s Tyler Driver on Kingston that would win it for British Strong Style.Continued below
5. Thank You Thank You
After a promo for Trent Seven, putting over the debuting Kingston and King and then hyping his and Bate’s match against Undisputed Era at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn IV next Saturday, Jim Smallman comes back to thank the crowd, earning cheers of “This is Progress!” and another “Please Come Back!” to which I very much agree. Smallman is right: Professional Wrestling, especially when it’s done so well and with a great crowd, is one of the greatest things in the world and nothing is quite like it. Saturday, we’ll be returning back to the past with Chapter 12, but it was nice to be able to talk about where Progress stands now.