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Progress Chapter 54 recap & review: A falls count in the ring ladder match is made, Black is #1 contender, and Banks goes it alone again

Demand Progress

Progress Chapter 54: Go To Your God Like A Soldier went up on Demand Progress over the weekend, so let's dig in, shall we?

Connor Mills vs. Strangler Davis

Grappling early, Mills doing his damnedest but the more experienced Davis has his number at every turn. Snapping the leg, wringing the arm, but Connor turns the heat up a little and creates an opening with a dropkick, ducking sledges and he gets an arm drag off into an armbar! This, of course, just gets the former Riot's ire up and he commences with the pummeling.

But Mills isn't out of it yet, snapping off a beautiful springboard Frankensteiner that sends the Strangler outside, Penalty Kick off the apron but the dive gets cut off with an uppercut! Finlay Roll on the floor! Connor makes it back inside but he's well on the back foot and Davis locks a crazy deathlock bodyscissors neck crank hold before turning it into a Young Boy Killer.

Turning it into a sunset flip for a nearfall, charging uppercut, Romero Special applied, the Strangler falling back for full elevation before wrenching back. Mills escapes, trying a springboard to rally but he gets caught by an exploder suplex! Snapmare, Connor in with some kicks, duck the lariat, discus lariat and he manages to knock Davis down!

Corner knee, up and over, Mills goes back to the springboard and gets caught with an uppercut! Over the shoulder, St. Vincent's Cross... NO GOOD! Another lariat ducked, Cyclone Kill, Mills Shot... NOPE! 450 splash comes up empty, Davis from behind...

Strangler Davis wins by submission with a cobra clutch.

So I wasn't expecting much here, figured it'd be a quick and dirty win to show off the new and improved James Davis, and in large part it was, but Mills gave quite a good showing of himself as well and I'd be happy to see him back, maybe as part of the next Natural Progression Series.

And man, I'm here for the Strangler, too, both on the level of him digging into wrestling history to resurrect the Strangler name used by Evan and Ed Lewis, and on the level where he busts out cool wacky submissions that I can barely figure a call out for.

"Flash" Morgan Webster's Wrestling Friends

Flash takes his time getting his set built, including a potted plant he calls Townshend. He introduces himself and his first guest, Mark Haskins, asking him how he's doing before bringing Jimmy Havoc to the ring. Havoc and Haskins have a staredown, shoving Webster aside when he starts to try and help them talk through it.

Jimmy and Mark hug and Havoc admits they had a chat and sorted it out already! Haskins gets on the mic and calls out to the bar, he wants to order a round of drinks. Morgan admits he was up all night thinking of questions but Havoc says putting hands on Haskins' wife Vicki was wrong, he's apologized, they had a tussle, they're mates, they're cool.

The only thing that bothers him right now is the feng shui of the set, the plant's in the wrong corner. Webster asks how Jimmy putting hands on Vicki made Mark feel, and he says it made him sad and angry, but he's genuinely sorry it came to blows. Since coming back to Progress he hasn't been able to win the title back and he wants it so bad that it tears him apart and his frustrations have run high.

He then asks Jimmy how he feels, and he says he's perpetually sad anyway, but when he says "his title", no, it's his title, and Progress fought tooth and nail to get it off of him where Haskins just gave it up, and he's never had a one-on-one shot for the title since coming back and he's frustrated as well.

That gets Mark hot and he gets to his feet, bringing Havoc to his feet for a staredown. Morgan jumps into action saying they need to work together against British Strong Style's numbers game, and they have to make sure they're a team.

Enter Travis Banks. Flash rolls with it and introduces him as his third guest, which leads Banks to get on the mic, saying he loves and respects both Havoc and Haskins equally. He loves Webster, too, but when it comes to Alexandra Palace and the title, he just wants to remind everyone that the Kiwi Buzzsaw will be the next Progress--

Enter Pete Dunne. He says he was standing in the back watching whatever this "pile of shit" is, and he wanted to come out and remind everyone who owns this company. He owns the ring, the plant, the whole company, and Travis needs to stop getting so far ahead of himself, because he'll be lucky if he makes it to Alexandra Palace.

Dunne announces that his chosen match for Banks tonight is a three-way against Jimmy and Mark! Travis says that's funny, because he picked Pete's opponents, and HE'LL be facing Haskins and Havoc. Jim Smallman gets on the mic and addresses the math of it all, and he's going to say something he's always wanted to say, and the main event will be a tag team match between Banks and Dunne on one side and Havoc and Haskins on the other, playa!

It's surprising in some ways that it took Progress this long to do a proper wrestling talk show segment, but now that we've got here I'm not complaining. Segueing excellently from the "Oh we talked it out already" comedy to the tension of the bit establishing that Havoc and Haskins haven't cleared up their TRUE difference of opinion, that being who has the greater claim to the Progress World Championship, Banks and Dunne playing their parts well. Good interview segment for sure.

Kid Lykos vs. Tyler Bate

Light mat grappling to start, into a bit of light lucha, quick covers, ending up in a stalemate. Lykos favoring his (legitimately recently injured) shoulder, Bate smells blood in the water but is slow to direcly go after the shoulder and Kid is able to whip up a whirlwind of offense and keep him off guard. Tyler takes the match outside, suicide dive, back in, kick to the back of the head and finally Bate goes to work, albeit in an uncharacteristically gentlemanly fashion, dissecting the leg rather than the injured wing.

Trading forearms, Lykos firing lariats off but Tyler catches him into the airplane spin... KID REVERSES THE SPIN TO A DDT! Off the ropes, a Frankensteiner, firing up, putting Bate's head into the turnbuckle, springboard Diamond Dust, all that and a kick buys him a nearfall! Trading boots, Lykos up top, cartwheel evasion on a charge, Lo Mein Pain... NO GOOD!

Charging blows from both men, Tyler catches one into an exploder suplex, running shooting star press... NOT ENOUGH! Both men on their knees, trading punches, to their feet and shifting to forearms, Lykos moving to kicks to compensate for the shoulder, Bop & Bang, rebound lariat countered with a knee, poison Frankensteiner but Bate rolls through, deadlift German suplex, and both men are out on the mat once again!

Tyler Driver denied, back body drop puts him outside... SUICIDE DIVE TORNILLO FROM LYKOS! Springboard moonsault back in, Bate catches him, Kid reverses to a DDT, only a nearfall and Trent Seven appears at ringside. Struggle in the corner, Lykos pulls referee Chris Roberts down with him after getting knocked down, Seven runs over for a lariat, Bate is quick to capitalize...

Tyler Bate wins by pinfall with the Tyler Driver '97, earning the right to pick a stipulation for the Progress Tag Team Championship match at Chapter 55.

Good match, with a good effort to keep the shoulder in play without making it the focus and risking further injury. Kinda wish the leg stuff had been more than just a feint but since so much of Kid's playbook is "do awesome crazy flying stuff", probably for the best.

Now it's time for Tyler to pick his stipulation, but Trent takes the mic and has a suggestion. He runs through the excitement of their entrances before saying there'll be nowhere to go because it's a Punjabi Prison Match! But no, he's not stupid, he knows what Jim Smallman is trying to do, and he makes the match a two-on-two, no tap-out, falls count anywhere in the ring match.

Dahlia Black vs. Jinny (Progress Women's Championship #1 Contender's Match)

Dahlia in and brawling from the jump! Jinny turns it around on her momentarily but Black is able to take her back to the mat for a bigger beating! Clubbing away, forearms cracking across the Electric Ballroom, a leg lariat finds its mark and Jinny is knocked back in the corner! Sidestep the knee, it connects on the other side, double knees, the cannonball, only a nearfall!

Kick caught, the followup enzuigiri ducked and Jinny stomps the back of her head in! Upkick blocked, rolling through and off, leg lariat in the corner but it ain't over yet. More kicks into a dragon screw, and Jinny starts targeting the leg, looking to finish the job she started in New York! Posting the knee into the ring repeatedly, Black throwing hands desperately to try and back her off to no avail.

Wrenching the leg over the ropes, disdainfull slamming Dahlia to the mat, a kneeling kneebar, trying to get her set up in the ropes but Black blocks and reverses to an inverted DDT. Springboard moonsault... JINNY WITH THE KNEES UP! Throwing knockout elbows into overhead clubs to the neck, kick denied, German suplex connects!

Disdainful slaps, Dahlia spits in her face! Desperation forearms into a strike exchange, Acid Rainmaker reversed into a cobra clutch STO backbreaker into a vertical drop cobra clutch reverse STO! Jinny looking for sanctuary outside but she cannot find it, Black ramming her into the video screen! Back in the ring, Jinny gets a boot up but gets caught by the followup shotei, powerbomb... NOPE!

Jinny lands a few forearms, Acid Rainmaker, Style Clash... DAHLIA BLACK LIVES! Jinny deathlocks the legs, but Black is ready to reverse it...

Dahlia Black wins by pinfall with a lateral press, becoming #1 contender to the Progress Women's Championship.

Great match, from the wild brawling to start through the legwork (with continuity from New York!) and to the bomb trading at the end. But even beyond that, I’ll level with you, folks. I'm a simple man, and if you let me write stuff like "cobra clutch STO backbreaker into a vertical drop cobra clutch reverse STO", it's gonna put a smile on my face, it's that easy.

Chris Brookes vs. Trent Seven

Trent cuts a promo about the 15,000 people in Brooklyn who went "batshit crazy" for him. Yes, it was a preshow, but it was the main event of NXT TV and we all have a subscription! He talks about being in the WWE video games and how you can download his WWE entrance music-- Brookes cuts him off with a running knee!

But it's not another six second situation, and Chris follows up with a tope con giro! Brawling around the ringside area as Seven gets himself back into it with chops, and despite trying to have it scouted Brookes is able to duck and force him to put his hand into the post! Targeting the hand, slamming it on the apron, but Trent is able to whip him deep into the crowd!

Struggling amidst the chairs, Chris reverses a piledriver into a back body drop on the floor! Rolling Seven back in the ring, a slingshot comes up empty but a charging dropkick finds its mark only to be met with a running overhand chop in return. A boot caught... ONE ARM RELEASE POWERBOMB! Seven Stars blocked with a knee, underhooks denied, chop, going for a low blow but Brookes catches it, spins him around, cross-leg German suplex!

Dragon screw neck whip connects, only a nearfall! On their knees, slugging it out forearm for forearm, to their feet, chops ringing out, Seven pulls ahead, putting Chris back on his knees with forearms but Brookes straightens back up and gives as good as he got, only to run off the ropes into a backfist! Pump kick in return, duck a second backfist, a knee, a roundhouse, but Trent lays him out with a lariat!

Suplex lifted and dropped into an Emerald Flowsion, only good for two! Thinking about an avalanche piledriver, Chris fighting it, a wet willy sets up a powerbomb, slingshot Ace Crusher... NOT ENOUGH! Underhooks, Tyler Bate comes out to run interference but Brookes lays him out with a pump kick! Trent kicks him low, spinning piledriver... CHRIS BROOKES LIVES!

Referee Chris Roberts distracted, Tyler slips in but he gets caught with the underhooks on and has to let go sheepishly. Going for it again and Roberts physically dumps him out of the ring! Lykos in for the assisted lungblower while Roberts is ordering Tyler to leave...

Chris Brookes wins by pinfall with a running senton, earning the right to pick a stipulation for the Progress Tag Team Championship match at Chapter 55!

Very good match, and a nice counterpart to Lykos/Bate, and Brookes being unmoved by the piledriver is a nice bit of continuity.

Brookes gets on the mic and is sorry to inform Trent and Tyler that their match won't be happening, and since they're always talking about British Strong Style's stock rising, they want to see how high they're willing to go. The tag titles will be hoisted above the ring in a ladder match!

FSU (Eddie Dennis & Mark Andrews) vs. Grizzled Young Vets (James Drake & Zack Gibson)

Gibson and Andrews to start but Zack immediately tags Drake in, White Lightning using his speed and agility advantage to keep from getting caught. Gibson fakes him out, Dennis in, double suplex, Mark arm dragging James all over the place and Eddie gets the tag. Hop off the second into a forearm, Drake rolls outside.

Illegal tag from the outside, referee Chris Roberts admonishing Gibson but James takes advantage and gets a cheap shot on the Pride of Wales before getting a real tag. Grizzled Young Vets working Dennis over, quick tag but he's able to orchestrate a meeting of the minds and get a tag off. Andrews in, wheelbarrow bulldog, victory roll rolled through into a double stomp, Shiranui / double stomp combo, only a nearfall!

Tag made on the way to an O'Connor roll, Mark is able to adjust and wipe Gibson out with a dropkick, plancha on Drake but Gibson puts him into the ringpost! Dennis hot and jawing at Roberts, but Zack takes things back in the ring and goes a-stomping. Knucklelock suplex, Drake tags in and presses the assault with more stomps.

Quick tags as the Grizzled Young Vets continue to work the former Progress Champion over, he nearly escapes with a low bridge but Gibson pulls him out of the ring. He manages to put Zack into the post, hustling for the tag... James in with a takedown! But White Lightning ain't down yet, landing on his feet off a back suplex, firing an enzuigiri off, and he gets the tag!

Pride of Wales in on Zack with chops and forearms, whip reversed to a Manhattan Drop, jumping clothesline, charging uppercut, Black Hole Slam, only a nearfall! Elbow smashes, Eddie gets caught with a boot but knocks Drake off his perch up top, big man tope con giro! Next Stop Driver... ZACK GIBSON WITH THE SAVE!

Fired up, Dennis charges in with uppercuts, Gibson behind him, hanging him up in the ropes, running dropkick into Ticket to Ride, Eddie outside, Zack tosses his partner over the ropes and onto the Pride of Wales! Setting him up for Ticket to Mayhem, Andrews with a Frankensteiner, Dennis reverses to a Tombstone piledriver... NOT ENOUGH!

Looking for the assisted Next Stop Driver, James floats out, Ticket to Ride, White Lightning slips out but gets caught by an enzuigiri into a superkick-assisted neckbreaker! Grizzled Young Vets with Shankly Gates and a Boston crab on Andrews at the same time! Gibson hoists Mark onto his shoulders but Dennis runs interference and Andrews reverses to a victory roll for a nearfall!

Helter Skelter, reversed to Stundog Millionaire, White Lightning makes the tag, again thinking assisted Next Stop Driver, Drake knocks Andrews off the top and Zack nearly steals it with a schoolboy and a handful of tights! Dennis lands a superkick, up for the Razor's Edge but Drake gets a blind tag! Buckle bomb connects but James fends Mark off, moonsault comes up empty, enzuigiri, they have him where they want him...

Grizzled Young Vets win by pinfall with Ticket to Mayhem on Eddie Dennis.

Fast-paced and exciting tag match. Grizzled Young Vets have come together so quickly that I'm honestly a little bummed because I feel like I can't gently chide them as being bootleg WorkHorsemen anymore, but so be it.

Doug Williams vs. Timothy Thatcher

Mat grappling to start, Thatcher getting a wristlock and working the arm before shifting to the leg when it presents itself, but he ends up letting Williams go when he can't push it any further. Not that that means a break for Doug, Tim right back with a headscissors but the vet gets a sweet World of Sport headstand escape and Thatcher sends him outside with kind of an extremely low-angle fallaway slam.

Williams taking a breather on the outside before heading back in and grabbing a Japanese stranglehold on the former Evolve World Champion. Tim rolls through and reverses to one of his own but Doug is able to throw him off and we move to trading quick nearfalls before Thatcher breaks away, his face colored with disbelief. Picking the leg, more World of Sport stuff but Tim is ready and counters into a bow-and-arrow, albeit a bit too close to the ropes to really work it before the break.

Test of strength, neither man able to get much of an advantage and Thatcher takes a shortcut with a knee lift to try and set up the rolling butterfly suplexes but Williams escapes and sets up a belly-to-belly suplex that Tim counters by boxing his ears with a Hulk-like clap! Trading uppercuts, Thatcher staggers first but finds a second wind and they keep throwing!

Doug knocks him down, Tim gets an arm wringer once his wits return and he goes to work, throwing that wicked knee to the ribs of his before targeting the arm. Double wristlock, Williams blocks any deeper application and Thatcher starts clubbing the arm to soften it up. Trading wristlocks, cross armbar applied but Doug keeps his hands together and rolls into a pin for two!

More punishment for the arm, Williams pops out and throws a few strikes before going for a snapmare but the Ringkampf man is right on the armbar. Short-arm shoulder thrusts, grinding the arm down but Doug is able to get the ropes before Thatcher can get all of the Fujiwara. So outside he goes, putting face to apron before heading back in, thinking back suplex.

Williams tries to grind out a side headlock as a counter but the arm is too weak and he's forced to the ropes! Tim elbows the shoulder and Doug is back in hot, headbutts and palm strikes, to the corner, thinking exploder suplex but Thatcher blocks and kicks the arm, spiraling Williams to the mat! The Fujiwara armbar is on but Doug is under the plane of the ropes!

Uppercut in the ropes, kick to the arm, Williams just able to reverse and get the inverted Gory Special and drop the former Evolve World Champion into the turnbuckles! Struggling in the corner, trading forearms, Tim shoves him to the mat and climbs down, the butterfly Jackhammer gets two and he's right into the Fujiwara armbar! Doug gets the rope and forces the break but the damage is done as Thatcher stalks his prey.

Williams in a last gasp, up top, diving uppercut, corner knee, exploder suplex connects but can't put Thatcher away! Calling for Chaos Theory but Tim blocks the O'Connor roll, steps aside, runs into a back elbow but has the wits to dive under the crossbody and lock the Fujiwara armbar on! Doug tries to roll away, Thatcher is a step ahead, Williams rolls him into a crucifix pin, not enough, Tim re-centers himself...

Timothy Thatcher wins by submission with the Fujiwara armbar.

I came in fully expecting this match to be catnip to me, given that Doug Williams was one of the first technical wrestlers I really latched onto when I started watching again in 2010 and that my fandom for Timothy Thatcher is WELL documented... and it was!

Thatcher's frustration at Williams outwrestling him early, into the arm work (Doug being forced to the ropes, his arm too weak to grind out the headlock, one of my favorite such spots of the year for sure), into that last gasp comeback only to find Tim a step ahead at the last... Excellent match.

Jimmy Havoc & Mark Haskins vs. Pete Dunne & Travis Banks

Havoc and Banks to start, but Dunne tags himself in before Travis can actually do anything. He, of course, tags back out before actually doing anything himself, and retreats up to the stage, bidding that Banks go and wrestle the match before turning to Callum Leslie and evicting him from his seat at the commentary desk forcibly, kicking him square in the gentleman's area for good measure!

RJ Singh calls ring crew to attend to Callum while Dunne joins the booth, and the Kiwi Buzzsaw throws caution to the wind and gets in there! Clearing Haskins from the apron, kicking Havoc's leg out of his leg, off the ropes with a Busaiku Knee Kick, and a suicide dive wipes Jimmy out but Mark throws him back in! A second dive wipes Haskins out in turn after Havoc stops him going back in, and a third hits both men!

Mark and Jimmy throwing chairs but Travis walks through them before ducking one and letting Havoc take it full force! Jimmy throws one at Haskins for the offense and Banks kicks the chair through him for good measure! Brawling with Havoc, the Kiwi Buzzsaw heads around to Mark but gets lit up with kicks for his trouble. Kicks in return, Jimmy over to fire off some chops and he and Haskins get back on the same page, throwing Travis into about the third row together!

Havoc throws him deep once again, Mark follows it up with forearms and a charging kick and takes the action back in the ring. Quick tags as they work Banks over but he's game for a comeback and keeps it from being a rout. Repeated knee drops from Haskins, assisted boot, Jimmy back in and Travis gets a two-for-one off a superkick that cascades into a DDT and now Pete decides the Kiwi Buzzsaw needs his help and heads back to the apron for the tag.

Banks gets up and heads over but just flips him the bird! Waistlock, Mark rolls through and he has the sharpshooter applied but Travis gets the ropes. Havoc tags himself in, Banks fends him off with forearms and kicks until Jimmy lands a rolling elbow, wristlock... Haskins tags himself in! Off the ropes with a low dropkick for a two count and the disappointment on Havoc's face is palpable.

Mark tags Jimmy back in with a chop and the King of the Goths goes to work, stomping before tagging Haskins back in with a slap! They're trading forearms in the middle of the ring and Banks separates them for two for one chest kicks! Mark accidentally lands a knockout elbow on Havoc but eats a German suplex from Travis! Fired up, charging uppercuts corner to corner, blocking a springboard with a superkick and stacking Jimmy on top with a belly-to-belly suplex to set the cannonball up!

Air New Zealand connects... NO GOOD! Slice of Heaven ducked, Havoc with a shotgun dropkick setting an inside-out dropkick up for Haskins, catapult into a Death Valley Driver... NOT ENOUGH! Tandem underhooks, Banks slips out, chops aplenty, superkick begets a pump kick begets a big boot, stereo superkicks follow but Travis lands a double clothesline and all three men are down and out!

Jimmy floats over on a suplex, Acid Rainmaker blocked but Havoc keeps the wristlock and turns it into a pumphandle, Mark in, superkick-assisted pumphandle slam! Roll-through Death Valley Driver... STILL NOT ENOUGH! Haskins calling for it, Havoc gets the wristlock but Mark hits the superkick on him! Going for the Acid Rainmaker anyway, Banks ducks and the lariat hits Haskins!

Slice of Heaven on Havoc, Kiwi Krusher on Haskins but Dunne swoops in...

Pete Dunne & Travis Banks win by pinfall with Bitter End from Pete Dunne on Mark Haskins.

So that was a hoot. As much of an angle as a pro wrestling match, and (somewhat strangely) Banks' second handicap match in a month, but really enjoyable stuff showing off the Kiwi Buzzsaw's never say die spirit and Dunne's inability to not be the biggest dickhead in the room in any room.

Post-match, Pete does the "everything is mine" schtick and Banks blindsides him with a dropkick! Diving double stomp, thinking Kiwi Krusher but Bate and Seven make the save! #CCK come down to even the odds and run the tag champs out of the ring! Dunne comes back to the stage with sledgehammer in hand and Dahlia Black in a bad way!

Trent and Tyler run back in, Tyler Driver '97 on Lykos, piledriver on Brookes... DUNNE KICKS DAHLIA'S BAD LEG OUT FROM UNDER HER! He goes to use the sledgehammer on her but apparently even the Bruiserweight has a line he will not cross and he heads to the ring. BSS set Travis up and Peter knocks him down with a sledgehammer shot to the back of the head!

Shots on Brookes and Lykos for good measure close out the show.


Another highly enjoyable chapter of action from Progress. This one was a little down from the heights of recent shows in terms of excellent matches, with only Dahlia/Jinny and Thatcher/Williams really crossing the line into greatness or near-greatness, but there certainly weren't any bad matches in the bunch, and I must once again shout Grizzled Young Vets out for developing into a hell of a team in short order.

And storyline-wise we have a bounty of excellence as the last couple pieces slide into place for Chapter 55 at Alexandra Palace. The final escalation of Pete Dunne's limitless dickheadery as #CCK and Dahlia Black find themselves ending the show laid out and facing that darkest darkness that comes before the dawn looms large as Progress's own Empire Strikes Back moment, and that's the biggest story beat of course, but movement came just about everywhere that got a spot on the show.

From James Davis establishing his new Strangler persona to Haskins and Havoc's tumultuous partnership getting cut right down to the bone repeatedly (and with the added wrinkle that "Flash" Morgan Webster is trying to smooth things over between them), to the stipulations chosen for the tag title match, perfectly in line with everyone's modus operandi here, to Dahlia squeaking out a win with a big red target painted on her bad leg for Toni Storm to go after as she pleases...

...well, the stage is set, and on Sunday the die will be cast as Progress hit their traditional September supercard. And I am stoked for it, folks.

In the meantime, check this one out on Demand Progress, if you will.

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