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Progress Chapter 73 recap & review: Storm is on the road back, Webster turns on Haskins in favor of Boar, and James is still in charge

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Demand Progress

Continuing on with our progress through my Progress backlog, today we’ve got Chapter 73: Fourth Shade of Green, available through Demand Progress as always. So, on with the action...!

El Phantasmo vs. Mark Andrews

A bit of light grappling in the feeling out, stalemate, into the lucha libre criss-cross, ducking and dodging, some really impressive, athletic action, and finally Phantasmo scores with a dropkick! Knucklelock ropewalk, bit of disco action but he walks too far and Andrews breaks, so instead he... grabs the knucklelock on referee Shay Purser and hits a springboard dropkick for our first nearfall of the match!

Backbreaker into a backbreaker submission, off the ropes, big tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for another nearfall, put to the apron on a charge and Andrews hits a springboard Stunner over the top rope that sends El to the floor! Suicide dive follows, back in for a springboard Frankensteiner, lining him up, double knees and a springboard into a series of reversals that end in a reverse STO!

Off the ropes, Phantasmo with a big crossbody into a quebrada, only two! Argentine backbreaker, Mark slips out, duck a lariat, enzuigiri connects, perched up top but El springboards up for an enzuigiri to cut him off! Climbing after him, jockeying for position, springboard Poison Frankensteiner but he doesn’t get all of it and Phantasmo’s able to pop up for an Ace Crusher... NOPE!

Up top, senton atomico, following immediately with a moonsault but nobody’s home! Satellite DDT blocked but the reversal gets turned into Stundog Millionaire! Andrews up top...

Mark Andrews wins by pinfall with a shooting star press.

Really good high-energy high-flying opener, this one. Not a huge amount to say about it beyond that, but good stuff.

Rob Lynch gets on the mic and says one year ago he tore the roof off this place with War Machine and the year since has been shit, so he tells Jim that he’ll gonna squash TK Cooper, but he wants a title shot at the Atlas Championship to be on the line!

Rob Lynch vs. TK Cooper (Progress Atlas Division Championship #1 Contender’s Match)

Cooper playing cautious in the opening stretch, taking advantage of the sanctuary of the ropes and going for cheap shots when the tables are turned, but Lynch is smart enough to dodge him. TK ducks a chop, and Big Rob takes that as a signal that he needs to start throwing his weight around with shoulder blocks and forearms. Trading shots, Cooper counters a back suplex into a crossbody for one and we’ve got a bit of a stalemate!

To the floor, going forearm for chop, but a shoulder block from Lynch gets ducked and Rob takes the post hard! TK laying kicks in back in the ring, but a limp-armed Lynch is still able to throw forearms with his good arm! Leg lariat from Cooper reasserts control, both men go for lariats at the same time and end up wiped out on the mat! Big palm strikes exchanged before going forearm for forearm, Big Rob with charging strikes, he’s fired up... AND TK DODGES THE CANNONBALL!

Catching Lynch up in the ropes for clubbing blows, the next step is a corkscrew leg drop off the second... NOPE! Setting Rob up top, jockeying for position... ROB LYNCH ONE-ARMED BUCKLE BOMB BUT COOPER MANAGES TO POP OUT OF THE CORNER WITH A SCISSORS KICK FOR TWO! Short-arm kicks, Lynch returns some lariats and drops TK with the third! Another huge lariat turns him inside out!

Jockeying for position in the corner...

TK Cooper wins by pinfall with a twisting avalanche Kiwi Krusher, becoming #1 contender to the Progress Atlas Division Championship.

This was a good match, if somewhat disjointed and shaky in places, and it held together in no small part due to Rob Lynch’s excellent work selling the arm. And that buckle bomb, holy hell!

Danny Jones vs. Eddie Dennis

Eddie Dennis gets on the mic after introductions and says back in June he made it perfectly clear to everyone that he has zero interest in wrestling for Progress unless it’s against Mark Andrews, and they have the audacity to book him against a friend of his, a man who considers him something of a mentor and idolizes him in many ways? He wants to ring the bell and get it over with.

The bell rings, he smacks Jones with the microphone, and referee Joel Allen has no choice but to call it...

Danny Jones wins by disqualification.

Dennis congratulates Jones on his victory and Danny slaps him hard across the jaw! That earns him another mic shot and a further beatdown by way of mounted punches! To the floor, Eddie hooks him... CRUCIFIX POWERBOMB INTO THE RINGPOST! He goes for another... AND MARK ANDREWS COMES FLYING OFF THE STAGE WITH THE SAVE! We got a pier six brawl for a moment but ring crew separate them and manage to hold Andrews back as Dennis runs off!

So obviously as a match this wasn’t much, but as an angle, I love it. Wrestlers being smart about DQs to get what they want is one of my favorite things in wrestling, from giving up one fall to earn two to three in an Iron Man match through to stuff like this or “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams intentionally getting DQ’d against Chris Dickinson a few months back in Evolve to have a shot at taking him out and blindsiding Stokely Hathaway.

Travis Banks vs. Tyler Bate

Stalling early as Tyler makes like he’s gonna take his gold metallic shorts off (and as an aside, I didn’t think it was possible to have a mid-life crisis at the age of 21, but Mr. Bate is sure trying) and then after a bit of action he does! (Don’t worry, he was wearing proper trunks underneath.) Into the grappling, Banks takes a breather after a bit, tired of getting wristlocked all over the place.

Shifting to the criss cross, shoulder block for hip toss, again Trav goes to ground and this time Bate dives after him! Sidestepped, land on the apron, get kicked off and Banks clocks him with the Penalty Kick off the apron! Travis manhandles him, striking him around the ringside area, but Tyler is able to throw him deep into the crowd to recover.

Back inside, the Junkyard Dog headbutts get two, they trade strikes and Banks pulls ahead and gets two of his own out of the deal. Mounted forearms, raining them down, and he grabs a rear chinlock to try and ground the young man down. It doesn’t work, back body drop connects, whip reversed, diving corkscrew uppercut into the running shooting star press... NOPE!

Big right hands in the corner, referee Joel Allen warning him off, Banks kicks his leg out from under him, hesitation dropkick, German suplex, Busaiku Knee... NO GOOD! Travis raining forearms, Tyler getting fired up and he clocks him with a jab! Shotgun dropkick cuts him off, uppercut, Bate catches the body avalanche and hits a true uranage! Fireman’s carry into the airplane spin, front slam out of it, headed up top, jump over the cutoff and they trade strikes!

Pump kick takes care of Cooper, Cyclone Kill with his back turned, jockeying for position... SLICE OF HEAVEN CAN’T PUT TYLER BATE AWAY! Again distracted by TK, rolled up for two, the rebound lariat lands true! Underhooks, break away, plancha on Cooper, back in, small package... NOT ENOUGH! Kiwi Krusher... STILL NO! Banks grabs the title belt and brings it in the ring despite referee Joel Allen’s admonishment.

He puts it back, gets caught by Bop and Bang, but falls to the floor! Fighting like mad to keep Bate from picking him up, TK tries for the save and gets knocked right out with a punch! Again trying to drag the champion off the steel steps and this time Trav puts him back-first into the corner of the ring as Allen counts. Fighting on the stage, Bate rolls in, Banks decides he’d rather not follow after...

Tyler Bate wins by countout.

So anticlimactic ending (which makes all the sense in the world in storyline, to be sure) aside, this was a pretty good match. It still suffered from some of the usual formulaic excess of a Travis Banks title match, but toned down quite a bit, especially in terms of the escalation and parade of kickouts, both of which were basically absent here without the title actually being on the line.

The downside is, those two things are a significant part of what manages to still suck me into a Banks title match time after time, so this wasn’t necessarily as compelling as it might have been. Still a good time, though.

British Strong Style (Pete Dunne & Trent Seven) vs. Kings of the North (Bonesaw & Damien Corvin)

BSS start by clearing the ring before the bell, Corvin slides in, Dunne against him to start as we get the bell and the Bruiserweight is just on him with the grappling. Bonesaw runs in, Peter stacks ‘em up and continues his submission attack, wrenching their arms by the fingers before stomping the hands! Damien isolated as Seven tags in, he gets beat down a while, tag to Bonesaw and now it’s Trent’s turn to get cut off and worked over.

Quick tags from the Kings of the North, keeping Seven off-balance, but eventually he creates an opening with kicks, dumping both Kings to the floor. The way is clear, Corvin yanks Dunne off the apron but Trent stays alive long enough to get the tag anyway! Running enzuigiris, lands on his feet on a suplex, buzzsaw kick and he X Plexes Damien onto Bonesaw... NOPE!

Block the finger attack, catch the backflip up and over, they put Peter into the post but Trent comes in with chops for them! Manhattan Drop to a Mafia kick and a senton but it’s only good for a nearfall! Seven recovers, fighting with two for one chops, fakeouts into a double DDT and Dunne is up for a dive right after the Don hits an Emerald Flowsion!

Enzuigiri-assisted Dragon suplex... CORVIN BREAKS IT UP! Full nelson blocked, malfunction at the junction on the enzuigiri and Bonesaw pop-up powerbombs Dunne moments before Damien dives on Seven! Wheelbarrow codebreaker into a suplex... NOT ENOUGH TO PUT PETE DUNNE AWAY! Jockeying for position, he snaps their fingers and Trent tags back in.

Snap piledriver on Bonesaw, Corvin tries to break it up with a diving elbow but Seven sees it coming and moves aside so the Irishman takes the brunt! Big slap, but Damien hits a gourdbuster in return, and Pete runs in with a flying triangle choke! Locked on, Trent gets Bonesaw up in an Argentine backbreaker rack...

British Strong Style win by pinfall with a Burning Hammer from Trent Seven on Bonesaw.

This match just never reall came together for me. Kings of the North do some things well (all the exchanges towards the end were tight and well-executed, to be sure), but something about them leaves me cold even when they’re wrestling the likes of British Strong Style.

Killer Kelly vs. Toni Storm

Grappling from the jump, Storm quickly asserting her dominance with a side headlock and blocking Kelly’s attempts to get out of it repeatedly. Finally a headlock takeover gets a headscissors reversal and we have a stalemate! Locking a cravate in, putting Toni through the same paces she just went through with the headlock before choosing to break with repeated knee strikes.

Jockeying for position, off the ropes, Mafia kick for a nearfall, raining down forearms from mount and Storm is well and truly on the back foot here. More forearms, a snapmare, almost toying with the former champion and she pays for it almost immediately with a Mafia kick! Snap suplex for two, dragging Killer around by her hair for a headbutt, kicking at her head.

Short-arm head kicks, Kelly slips out for an enzuigiri, whip blocked and she gets cold-cocked with a forearm! Trading pump kicks, Toni ducks a lariat and hits a headbutt that leaves both women down and out! Slugging it out on their knees with forearms and palm strikes, rising to their feet, Killer with the clear advantage but Storm is able to slip under a kick and hit a German suplex!

Running hip attack, bridging fisherman suplex, only a nearfall! Headed up top, Kelly cuts her off, they jockey for position... KILLER KELLY HANGING DRAGON SLEEPER OUT OF THE TREE OF WOE! Leaving Toni tied up at the end of referee Joel Allen’s count, hesitation dropkick connects, as does a second and the straitjacket German suplex that follows!

Looking for another, Storm struggles out so she wails on her with palm strikes! Toni with a sweet Jackie Chan over-the-back arm drag, rolling into a cradle, only two, looking for Strong Zero, reversed to a victory roll, only two! Another kick from Kelly, but Storm hits a corkscrew suplex and follows it up...

Toni Storm wins by pinfall with Strong Zero.

Now that’s more like it! This was some really good storytelling right here, a rusty and uncertain Toni Storm getting an early lead on instinct only to be dominated by Kelly’s grappling, the momentum shifting back and forth along similar lines until Toni got the win and got one step closer to reclaiming her title. Great match.

Mark Haskins & “Flash” Morgan Webster vs. Sexy Starr (David Starr & Jack Sexsmith) (Thunderbastard Tag Team Series)

Haskins and Starr to start, intense grappling action before David gets a dropkick off and they tag their partners in. Arm drags, Sexsmith with a Manhattan Drop to an atomic drop, Pearl Neckbreaker reversed and Webster hits a corkscrew moonsault out of the corner for two! Underhooks, denied, a right hand works, roll-through and now the Pearl Neckbreaker connects!

Hip toss into a dropkick, Sexy Starr running hot, Haskins runs in, he gets cut off with an inverted slam and a knee strike! Off the ropes, they get tripped up and beat down. Jack gets the better of Mark on the floor, Davey Wrestling is trying his damnedest to create openings against Flash but he eats the imploding senton all the same. Tag to Sexsmith, in hot with lariats, a kick combo but his shiranui gets blocked and he takes a wicked headbutt for a nearfall!

Haskins tags in, working Jack over, targeting his arm something fierce, tag back, Britpop Drop after extended abuse, Starr breaks it up but a tag to Mark keeps the violence running. Switching to the leg now, Stretch Muffler applied, into a stepover toehold and then the STF, practically breaking Sexsmith in half he’s pulling so far back but Jack makes the ropes!

Boot up on the double-team, the shiranui takes Morgan out this time and David gets the tag! Violence party, Haskins cuts him off with a kick but Starr gets a springboard lariat to put him on the floor and a back suplex backbreaker onto the shoulder and a superkick for Webster! Fired up, off the ropes, Mark in to cut him off, but he counters, double leg into the Boston Crab!

The match breaks down a bit, Haskins rolls through, bridging Fujiwara armbar on Sexsmith as Flash has the Strangler on the Jewish Cannon, but Starr counters to a suplex and breaks up the armbar! Haskins and Starr trading forearm shots, a fakeout gets Mark an advantage but the ol’ Han Stansen puts him down and gets the tag! BDSM... MORGAN BREAKS IT UP!

Off the ropes, Davey Wrestling suicide dive... AND THE POOL IS COMPLETELY EMPTY! Wtih Jack isolated, Haskins has his way with him, off the top with a double stomp, pumphandle driver... JACK SEXSMITH FINDS THE WILL TO KICK OUT! Leg pick and stomps, Sharpshooter applied in the middle of the ring... IT’S OVER!

Mark Haskins & “Flash” Morgan Webster win by pinfall with a Sharpshooter from Haskins on Jack Sexsmith.

Cranky old lady irritation at the seeming lack of concern for the legal men here (which, to be fair, has been a feature of Progress for a long time now, and really if they’d just make lucha tags official I’d have no reason to complain), this was a fun back and forth tag team match.

Webster gets on the mic and talks about how it’s been his goal to end the year with Progress gold around his waist and people ask why they’re even a tag team, and the reason is when he got hurt and went backstage, the one guy that was there with him was Haskins, and when he started a podcast, the first guy in line was Haskins, and when he returned, who’d he have by his side? Haskins.

When he was on a losing streak, who stepped in? Vicky Haskins. And if he’d listened right away, maybe he’d be Progress World Champion or Super Strong Style 16 winner, and the at Wembley he’s going to lift gold for the first time, next to his mentor, his brother, and his best friend, and he thanks them to letting him be a dick. They hug in turn, Morgan kisses Mark... AND THROWS HIM INTO WILD BOAR AS HE’S GETTING INTO THE RING!

Flash holds Vicky in place and makes her watch... PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! Webster says he WILL be winning next to his mentor, his brother, his best friend, but it ain’t Mark Haskins! The 198 stand united on the stage!

Rare opinion break-through on an angle here, but this is... interesting. Havoc, Haskins, and Webster has for months been running on fumes, a stable that was a way better idea in theory than it ever was in practice-- three guys who had to take significant amounts of time off due to injury back to forcibly take what’s theirs is a fantastic pro wrestling story, but in execution, between not letting them cut promos explaining why they joined forces and the seemingly endless “will he, won’t he” of Flash joining, it fell flat months ago.

And so after a few months of slowly prying Jimmy Havoc away from the faction as he works through his redemption angle building to the Ospreay match, taking Flash away and doing the switch to the 198 (who will end up taking Haskins & Webster’s spot in the Thunderbastard Tag Team Series) makes perfect sense, and is another fine example of Progress changing up a story that isn’t working much like when the Faceless became the Origin.

So a very welcome change of plans indeed, even if maybe it would have made more sense to do it at the very beginning of the Thunderbastard Tag Team Series at the latest.

Drew Parker vs. Jimmy Havoc (No Disqualification Match)

Drew Parker gets on the mic after introduction and says it’s no secret Jimmy’s had his issues and they’re best friends, and he knows Havoc didn’t want this match, but he asked for it, and Jimmy’s a shell of what he used to be. He didn’t ask for James, he wants the man that’s the reason he’s standing in this ring right now and why he bleeds, he wants Jimmy Havoc!

He slides a chair in the ring and throws it to Jimmy, who tosses it aside. A second toss... AND HAVOC HEADBUTTS IT OUT OF THE AIR! Acid Rainmaker ducked, pass to the floor... DREW PARKER TOPE CON GIRO INTO THE SECOND ROW! Jimmy tossing him around on the floor, throwing chairs at him, stabbing him in the forehead with scissors but Parker gets them from him and digs them into Havoc’s forehead himself!

Punches to open the wound further, Drew then introduces a staplegun to the proceedings. Jimmy’s got one of his own and a cheese grater and puts them to simultaneous use! Oh god, he licked the cheese grater, what the hell? Barbed wire bat in hand, Havoc throws it aside and pummels him some more before throwing him into the crowd! Parker has a gusset plate but Jimmy nails him with the grater in the gentleman’s area before he can bring it to bear!

A table set up, jockeying for position on the apron and again Drew with the scissors to the forehead! Back inside, Parker gives Jimmy the other stapler again and kneels in front of him, and we’ve got a stapler duel! One to Drew’s gentleman’s area! Setting a chair up on its side, Havoc does some hardcore feng shui, Parker slips out and German suplexes him onto some folded chairs!

Drew leans the table in the corner but Jimmy was lying in wait... BLU-RAY INTO THE TABLE FOR A NEARFALL! He dumps a bin of tacks out, fireman’s carry, but Parker jams his fingernails into the cut on his forehead to break away and goes back to the gusset plates. Havoc with a low blow... AND HE HAMMERS THE GUSSET PLATES INTO DREW PARKER’S SHOULDER! MICHINOKU DRIVER INTO THE TACKS BUT PARKER KICKS OUT!

Trapping him in the chair, Jimmy goes and gets his axe! Drew spits in his face, Havoc throws the axe aside, Acid Rainmaker ducked... BACK BODY DROP OVER THE ROPES AND THROUGH THE TABLE ON THE FLOOR! But still he won’t stay down, and Jimmy vents his frustration about the same! Acid Rainmaker, trying to counter with a staple to the face but Havoc follows through and hits the lariat!

Wrist control maintained, second try countered... DEATH VALLEY DRIVER INTO THE SIDEWAYS CHAIR! ACID RAINMAKER CAN’T PUT HAVOC AWAY! BLACKOUT INTO THE TACKS! Rolling him over, Parker up top...

Drew Parker wins by pinfall with a 450 splash while Havoc lay sprawled in thumbtacks.

Holy hell, Jimmy Havoc deathmatches never disappoint and this is no different. A visceral crescendo of violence underpinned by the ongoing story of Jimmy struggling against the evil, sadistic asshole he was during his record-length Progress Championship reign as the leader of Regression and again paying the price for it in loss. Great match. Shame English gusset plates don’t seem to have the same stick that American ones do, though.

Drew gets on the mic and complains that he didn’t want James but he showed up anyway, and Jimmy’s not the person he used to be. After today, the record books won’t say Drew Parker beat Jimmy Havoc, they’ll say Parker beat an embarrassment, and Havoc has one more chance to show him he is who he says he is, at which point Drew slaps Jimmy across the face and kneels in front of the bottom rope, biting it for the stomp.

JIMMY’S GOT THE AXE! HE LIFTS IT OVER HIS HEAD... AND ROAD AGENT PAUL ROBINSON APPEARS BEHIND HIM TO STOP HIM FROM DECAPITATING DREW PARKER! Ring crew swarm the ring and Paul tries to talk him down but Havoc ain’t buying it! He has expletives for everyone and takes his leave, screaming at Parker to ask him why he wants that Havoc back.

Overall

A very uneven show, this one, with a lot of matches that left me wanting one way or the other, which is kind of unusual for 2018 Progress. The main event, Kelly/Storm, and to a lesser extent Phantasmo/Andrews were good to great, though, so certainly not a show without its fair share of gems.

Storyline-wise, the big one is “Flash” Morgan Webster’s turn, which I wrote more about above so I’ll spare you any further prognosticating other than to say I like it, even if the Thunderbastard Tag Team Series seems increasingly kind of pointless the deeper we go-- there’s a reason, after all, that everyone loves the G1 Climax (and to a lesser extent Best of the Super Jr.) while World Tag League fails to generate the same excitement every year.

(Not that tag team round robins can’t be very exciting of course. wXw World Tag Team League is one of my favorite weekends of shows in any given calender year, but those are smaller, with two blocks of four, and take place over three days, maximizing the ratio of time invested to match potential.)

But also the story of James and Jimmy Havoc got deeper in an interesting way, with Jimmy clearly not understanding why everybody wants the old Havoc back even as he gets closer and closer to giving into those, ah, regressive urges. Plus Toni Storm is clawing her way back to the top of the mountain and Eddie Dennis proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only thing he cares about right now is putting hands on Mark Andrews.

Check it out at Demand Progress, folks.