Progress hosted their first show since their recent Super Strong Style 16 weekend at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester. With 1500 fans in attendance, a new Atlas Champion was crowned, a long reign was ended in the women's division and matches were made for Wembley. All in all a very good show that was a little heavy on the shenanigans but had a great match between two bitter rivals.
Two out of Three ain’t bad
All three singles titles were on the line, with Travis Banks successfully defending his World Title against Jack Sexsmith. The match was fifth on the card which kind of shows you where Jack Sexsmith really lands in the pecking order of Progress. He may not be the biggest name, but with his plucky underdog story and the crowd firmly behind him it seemed like quite a waste not putting him in the main event. It was always unlikely that Jack would come away with the title but being so early on the card kind of took all the excitement out of the match. TK Cooper got involved throughout, and Banks even teased a walkout, only to be stopped by WALTER who blocked the entranceway. Sexsmith had his moments at the end, even kicking out of a Kiwi crusher, but the inevitable soon happened and Banks made Sexsmith pass out from the Lions Clutch submission. A good match, but it just felt like a stop gap match for Banks while he waits for his rematch with WALTER.
After WALTER had vacated the Atlas Championship at Super Strong Style, it was announced that the title would be put on the line in a four-way. Doug Williams broke his losing streak, that has lasted since 2013 to defeat Joseph Connors, Rob Lynch and Rampage Brown to become the new Atlas Champion. This one felt weird as I’m not really sure what Williams has done lately to merit a title shot. Joseph Connors was on 205 Live just a week ago and played up the gimmick of his weight by drinking a protein shake and declaring himself as weighing 206lbs. Rampage was his usual impressive self, and Rob Lynch continued his return from the whole James Davis debacle. The Atlas Division has been the highlight of Progress this year, and this seems like a bit of a downgrade to put the title on a guy who has been on such a prominent losing streak. Decent match if a little unspectacular.
In the main event, the two biggest stars in the women’s division collided as Jinny finally ended the year long reign of Toni Storm to become the new Progress Women’s champion. A lot of shenanigans in this one, with Jinny’s House of Couture stablemates Chakara and Nina Samuels getting involved throughout. Storms reign has been very impressive, and it’s hard to argue that she isn't one of the best women's wrestlers in the world right now. Jinny winning was the right call as it was time for a change, I can’t help feeling that the constant interference ruins things a little, though, and brought back memories of the British Strong Style interferences from last year. It’s no surprise that an interference led to the finish, as Nina Samuels distracted Storm long enough for Jinny to get the roll up and become the new Women’s Champion. Could have done without all the nonsense, especially with this being the main event.
Feud of the year and match of the night
One of the biggest feuds in independent wrestling made its way to Progress as David Starr took on his nemesis WALTER. These two have had nine matches in multiple promotions over the last couple of years, with WALTER winning every one of them. This had an intense feel to it, with Starr refusing to take his eyes off his rival during his usually jovial entrance. This was WALTERS first match in progress since vacating the Atlas Championship at SuperStrong Style, and it still seems weird that he isn’t the champion anymore.
Starr had his serious head on, using his savviness to avoid the massive chops of WALTER. The American took out the big legs of his opponent, trying to even the playing field against his much bigger enemy. This was really the story of the match, Starr controlling the legs and keeping WALTER grounded throughout, with the big man hitting sudden bursts of chops and strikes. One dropkick in particular seemed to knock Starr into next week.
This was an absolute masterclass in storytelling and it should be shown to anybody who disparages the Indy scene as nothing but spot fests and no selling. Starr came as close as ever to the win, looking to use the battered down trunks of WALTER to get a submission, only for WALTER to get the roll up for the win. Making it WALTER 10 – Starr 0. WALTER looked more vulnerable here than he ever has in Progress and when Starr does finally get that win, it’ll be a monumental occasion. If you like classic storytelling, then this is the match for you. Incredible match.
British Strong Style fight the numbers, Dunne takes on the invincible
In a match that was supposed to be a six-man tag, The British Strong Style team of Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate took on Mark Haskins, Jimmy Havoc and Flash Morgan Webster in a handicap match, after Trent Seven had to pull out due to injury. This match was a nice contrast to their match last year where BSS were in the midst of their main event heel run. Now with the roles reversed BSS had to fight against the numbers. Webster continues his journey into the darkside, with added encouragement from The Haskins Family. This was a fun match, with Dunne taking the brunt of the punishment. Interference from Vikki Haskins gave her team the advantage, and Havoc used the barbed wired baseball bat to take out Bate, making Webster cover him for the pin.
The good stuff happened afterwards though. When Christian Michael Jakobi came to the ring. The promoter of wXw in Germany had laid down a challenge to Pete Dunne at Super Strong Style for a match with current wXw champion Ilja Dragunov. Jakobi told Dunn he had yet to receive an answer from him, so he called Dragunov to the ring. The face off between arguably two of the best talents in Europe was a big moment, and Jakobi followed it up by saying that if they are going to do the match then they have to do it properly. So at Wembley, Ilja Dragunov will take on Pete Dunne. Now that is what I call a dream match. September can’t come early enough.
It was recently announced that at their Wembley show, the tag titles will be on the line in the first ever tagteam Thunderbastard match, with the teams all taking part in a series of league type matches leading up to the show to establish where each team will enter the match. The first of the matches took place here, with Aussie Open defeating Connor Mills and Maverick Mayhew in a decent opener. The current tag champs joined the commentary team, with Gibson dismissing both teams as nothing more that spot monkeys.
Zack Sabre Jr followed up his recent Super Strong Style 16 win with victory over Mark Andrews. This was a really good match that picked up nicely towards the end. Zack has had a certain aura about him since winning the New Japan Cup and he looks a star anytime he appears in a wrestling ring. The submission master won after locking in the Hyper-normalisation to make Andrews tap out.
Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) def Maverick Mayhew & Connor Mills
Zack Sabre Jr. def Mark Andrews
WALTER def David Starr
Mark Haskins, Jimmy Havoc & Flash Morgan Webster (w/ Vikki Haskins) def Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate
Travis Banks (w/ TK Cooper) def Jack Sexsmith to retain the Progress World Championship
Doug Williams def Joseph Connors, Rob Lynch and Rampage Brown to win the Atlas Division Championship
Jinny (w/ Chakara & Nina Samuels) def Toni Storm to win the Progress Women’s Championship
What did you think of Chapter 69 weekend? Let us know in the comments below!