The name of the company is Progress Wrestling. They’ve only held two shows, but both of them have earned rave reviews from fans and writers alike.
Now it’s my turn to run the rule over new kids on the British wrestling block as we take a look at the two disc DVD release of their very first show, Chapter One: In the Beginning.
Disc one is where you’ll find the four first round matches of the Progress title tournament, with the winners advancing to the four-way elimination final.
Match one saw Noam Dar taking on El Ligero.
Fast-paced action was the order of the day in this one. Scotsman Dar didn’t exactly endear himself to the London fans, and that set the tone for the rest of the match as he worked over Ligero’s leg in an attempt to ground the high-flying star.
Ligero, as always, was a joy to watch when he made his comebacks, taking Dar down with a wide variety of moves, while Dar did his best to keep up with the fans as they asked him if he liked deep-fried Mars bars.
The masked man came out on top in this one, taking Dar out with a springboard DDT off the ropes for the winning pin.
Match two saw Nathan Cruz taking on Colossus Kennedy.
This heel David versus babyface Goliath battle proved to be a very entertaining affair. Kennedy dominated early on, throwing Cruz around the ring like a rag doll before the arrogant Showstealer took a page from Noam Dar’s playbook as he began to target the big man’s leg.
Cruz proceeded to inflict a great deal of damage on the limb as Kennedy struggled to use his power game again him because of the injured wheel.
Kennedy made his comeback and put on an impressive showing as he took Cruz down with a variety of power moves, but in the end Cruz came out on top, once again targeting Kennedy’s leg before finishing him off with a well-placed kick to the head.
Match three saw Mike Mason, accompanied by Becky James, taking on US indy favourite Colt Cabana.
This was fun. Cabana’s comedic stylings, which involved the use of a tennis ball, confused the mentally challenged Mason at first, and when the match eventually settled down it became even more entertaining.
Boom Boom put in his usual sound showing while Mason, a guy I’ve never seen before, played the George Steele-type character extremely well.
Cabana looked like he would take the win with his Billy Goat’s Curse submission hold, but when Becky jumped onto the ring apron to argue with the referee the official didn’t see her throw a chain to her charge.
Mason wrapped the foreign object around his fist and clobbered his opponent, Cabana going down like the proverbial sack of spuds. When the referee turned his attention back to he match he gave Mason’s pin the three count.
Match four saw Zack Sabre Junior taking on Marty Scurll.
These two are normally tag-team partners as the Leaders of the New School, and the knowledge they have of each other made for an excellent encounter.
Scurll, with the fans reminding him of his recent appearance on dating game show Take Me Out, targeted Sabre’s legs early on in an attempt to take out his kicking ability, eventually putting his man in a figure four leg lock.
Sabre managed to escape as he targeted Scurll’s arms for his preferred armbar submission. These highly technical back and for the exchanges were allied with some tremendous hard hitting sequences, and all of these ingredients made for riveting viewing.
As the crowd voiced their approval these two took things up a notch as they went all out for the win, especially when Scurll took his partner out with a suicide dive that sent both men into the third row.
In the end it was the TV star who came out on top. When Sabre attempted a roll-up for the pin Scurll countered with a roll-up of his own for the three count.
The final match of the disc saw Zack Gibson and Darrell Allen challenging Xander Copper for the BWC Scarlo Scholarship title.
I have to admit that when there were a few dodgy moments early on I didn’t think this match would amount to much, but as the action progressed it turned into a very entertaining encounter.
All three men put in good stints here. There were no real standout performances because they were all equally as good as each other.
There were the obligatory three-way sequences, including the tree of woe superplex/powerbomb move from the corner, and all of these were very well executed.
Local boy Allen came close to getting the pin towards the end when he took Gibson out with a 450 splash from the top rope. It was then that Copper, ho had been recovering on the outside, came back into the ring and broke up the count with a well-placed boot to Allen’s head. He then seized the day as it were and took the pin on Gibson himself.
Disc two is where you’ll find the Progress title tournament final featuring El Ligero, Nathan Cruz, Mike Mason and Marty Scurll.
The championship in question wasn’t actually a title belt but a staff with an eagle on the top. Some of the punters suggested that it looked like something the Nazis would have used, and as someone who has a keen interest in 20th century history I have to admit that there are some similarities.
This was a somewhat frantic encounter at times. It began with a mass brawl that took in the entire venue as the four combatants fought around ringside, through the crowd, in front of the bar and at one point in the ladies look.
Eventually it settled down into a more traditional affair as the tagging rules came into play with Mason and Cruz forming a temporary alliance as they moved towards the eliminations.
Ligero was the first to go. Having taken Mason out with a top rope splash he went for the pin, only for Becky James to pull the referee out of the ring while he was making the count. While the official was arguing with her Cruz came back into the ring and kicked the masked man in the head, taking the three count moments later.
Mason quickly followed him. After taking Cruz out with a suplex Ligero, who had remained at ringside, tripped Mason while he was running the ropes. The Loco one went to argue with him but found himself on the receiving end of a Scurll roll-up.
This left Cruz against Scurll, and for nearly ten minutes these two put on a great back and forth encounter as they went all out to get the win.
At one point the referee was taken out when he was accidentally clobbered by Cruz’s legs when Scurll lifted him onto his shoulders. This led to a dramatic incident moments later.
Scurll took Cruz out with a rolling elbow to the back of the head, but with no referee to make the count there was no pin, and when Scurll went to check on the official Cruz connected with a low blow before taking his man down with an Ace Crusher.
This still wasn’t enough to get the pin, and after a few more finishes Cruz connected with a boot to the head to win the match and the Nazi…I mean regal staff.
Disc two is where you’ll also find the extras, which include the pre-show address from co-owner and master of ceremonies Jim Smallman, a trailer for his stand-up comedy DVD, Marty Scurll’s post-show speech as well as the usual interviews from some of the roster.
In conclusion - I said at the beginning that this show had already earned rave reviews, and I can certainly see why.
Progress’ first event is a very good show. Okay, it’s a little rough around the edges, but that’s to be expected from a company’s first ever show.
The majority of the wrestling was top notch throughout, There were some really good performances here, and while I was a little disappointed that my old favourite Colt Cabana didn’t make it to the final that particular match certainly delivered, which is why it’s getting my match of the night honours.
The style of the show was more than welcome for me. In an era when the biggest company in the world gives us a PG-rated product it was nice to see Progress target the more mature audience, and these stylings reminded me of the Australia Wrestlerock shows I reviewed a few years ago.
Production-wise it was okay. There are a few kinks to be ironed out, especially when a match spills out of the ring and turns into a brawl.
The thing that really impressed me about this side of things though was Jimmy Barnett’s commentary. When I began to watch the show I wasn’t too impressed, but as time went on it became obvious that his somewhat understated Kent Walton-like style was perfect for a show of this kind.
He also came out with one of the best lines I’ve heard from a commentator during the main event, a dig at the big two’s current obsession with social networking: “I can assure you that this match is not trending on Twitter!”
So with that being said let’s bring these proceedings to an end by giving this show the big thumbs up.
With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. Progress Chapter One: In the Beginning can be purchased online by visiting http://www.progresswrestling.com/.