As this goes out on a Pay Per View weekend those that vote were given a selection of pay per views to vote on and almost half of you (a whopping 47% to be exact) voted to send me to the land of Misfit toys that is ECW. The number three promotion in wrestling during the 90’s with an emphasis on blood, guts and violence.
But was it any good.
There’s only one way to find out……
ECW Living Dangerously ’99
March 21 1999
We open with Steve Prazak talking with Taz about his upcoming match tonight. Taz says his strategy is to go after Sabu’s injured jaw and that he is better than Ric Flair and Steve Austin.
Joey Styles is in the ring and he welcomes us to the show and hypes the Taz vs Sabu match.
Super Crazy vs Yoshihiro Tajiri
Yes it’s THAT Tajiri. Joey Styles on commentary says the winner of this match wins the feud. No he won’t, these two will face off many times between now and ECW going out of business. A Collar and Elbow Tie-up is turned into a Headlock by Crazy. Taking Tajiri to the mat, he locks in a Front Facelock but Tajiri grabs Crazy with an Armbar and an Arm Wringer before Cazy counters with an Arm Wringer of his own. After a few cartwheels, Tajiri breaks the hold with a Monkey Flip and they have a stand off. Crazy wins a Test Of Strength and pushes Tajiri to the mat for a two count. Tajiri hits a Hurricanranna which Crazy rolls through and Monkey Flips Tajiri who Arm Drags Crazy. After Arm Dragging each other, they have another stand off to a standing ovation. Crazy boots Tajiri in the gut and shoots him into the ropes but Tajiri comes back with a Handspring Elbow and a Head Scissors. A Slap knocks Tajiri down but Tajiri sends a charging Crazy out of the ring courtesy of a Monkey Flip and Tajiri launches himself at Crazy over the turnbuckles with a Plancha before using the rope to throw himself at Crazy with an Asai Moonsault. Crazy gets back into the match with some inverted It Kicks and a springboard Moonsault before Tajiri hits Crazy with a Stratusphere.
Back in the ring, Crazy hits a Wasteland and the Triple Moonsaults for a two count. Crazy then lifts Tajiri to the top turnbuckle and hits Diez punches (a ten punch spot where the crowd count in Mexican) and a tree of woe Dropkick. An Asai Moonsault of his own gets Crazy a two but a Fireman’s Carry is turned by Tajiri into a Roll Up which gets him a two. Crazy gets control back with a kick and hits a second Wasteland but a middle turnbuckle Moonsault is countered by Tajiri who gets his knees up to block it and kicks Crazy in the ribs to follow and a tree of woe Dropkick of his own for a two. A couple of Roundhouse Kicks knock Crazy down. Crazy somersaults his way out of an Irish Whip attempt but still gets Dropkicked in the face for a two. A second Irish Whip attemt is countered into a Sunset Flip that gets a two for Crazy. A slingshot by Crazy is foiled when Crazy slips and fall from the top rope (lot of falling going on this week)and Tajiri encourages the chants of ‘You Messed Up‘ (What? My mother reads this) Focusing back on wrestling and Tajiri gets a two from a German Suplex. A Full Nelson by Tajiri is countered by Crazy who kicks Tajiri in his Nakamuras before hitting Tajiri with a huge Powerbomb that only gets a two. Tajiri attempts to Counter a second Powerbomb with a Hell’s Gate, doesn’t work and he gets Powerbombed anyway. Tajiri counters an Irish Whip with a Hurricanranna but Crazy, much like he did at the start of the match, rolls through it. This time he rolls it into a pin attempt and gets the pinfall.
Winner: Super Crazy
Backstage with Rob Van Dam, Sabu, Bill Alfonso and his whistle. Alfonso reminds Taz that he is no longer with Taz and that Taz is on his own. He discusses Sabu and says if he gets injured during the match he will either tape or glue Sabu back together. Van Dam says it’s a big night for Sabu as he gets to watch Van Dam defend the ECW TV Title. Van Dam tells Sabu that he’s going to beat Taz easily and it’s not even a challenge. The challenge for Van Dam is how he is going to carry all the belts AND Sabu. Ooh disention!
Steve Corino vs ?
Corino says he doesn’t take steroids and doesn’t need to wrestle in foreign lands. He been watching the Saudi Rumble or something? He issues an open challenge to anyone who wants to see just how Hardcore Corino is. and out comes……
Steve Corino vs Balls Mahoney
Balls starts with a seres of left jabs before a Right Hand knocks Corino down before Irish Whipping Corino off the ropes and Back Dropping him. A series of Clotheslines have Corino dazed but he manages to Back Drop a charging Balls out of the ring and then Baseball Slides Balls into the metal guard rail. A Plancha by Corino is caught by Balls who whips him into the shoulder of a charging Axl Rotten, Balls’ corner man. Back in the ring, Balls hits Corino with a Bodyslam and a huge Frog Splash that gets a two. Corino avoids a top rope Legdrop and hits Balls with a Spinning Heel Kick for a two. Corino gets a chair and threatens to hit Balls with it but instead he sits on it and applies a Chinlock but Balls pushes his way out of it and Superkicks Corino before smashing the chair across Corino’s skull for the pinfall.
Winner: Balls Mahoney
We see highlights of The Dudley Boyz hitting a 3D on a lot of people and injuring a few. Apparently New Jack was supposed to be next so, in an attempt to not let that happen, he brought in his former partner Mustafa. However, it was Mustafa that was setting New Jack up in the first place. He turns on New Jack hitting him with a guitar and setting up a match between the two later tonight.
Guido vs Antifaz Del Notre
No, me neither. Guido starts by slapping Antifaz. Guido ducks a Clothesline and applies a Waistlock which is countered and countered until Antifaz uses a Back Elbow to break out of it. Guido knocks Antifaz down with a Shoulder Block and an Elbow Drop to the spine that gets him a two. Guido grabs Antifaz’s arm and tries for a Cross Armbreaker but Antifaz is too close to the ropes and it is broken up. Antifaz hits Guido with a springboard Armdrag and a Superkick and a springboard Dropkick. Guido slinks to the outside but that doesn’t save him from Antifaz landing on him after a Corkscrew Plancha. Back in the ring and a slinghsot Sunset Flip gets Antifaz a two. A Hurricanrana is countered by Guido into a Powerbomb that gets him a two. Guido hits Antifaz with stomps and chops in the corner but Antifaz fires back with Chops of his own and a Front Suplex for a two. Antifaz spends too long climbing the buckles and Guido hits an impressive looking second rope Russian Leg Sweep that gets him a two. Guido then spends too long yelling at the crowd which allows Antifaz to roll him up for a two with a second rope School Boy. A Sleeper by Antifaz is countered into a Jawbreaker by Guido and the follow up Clothesline gets Guido another two. A Spinning Heel Kick by Antifaz sends Guito to the outside. A Plancha by Antifaz ends when Sal E Graziano, a 500 pound monster at ringside, catches him and Powerslams Antifaz through a table before throwing him back into the ring where Antifaz is a sitting duck for a second rope Legdrop and a Sicillian Crab (Liontamer to you and me) that gets Guido the submission victory.
Rob Van Dam vs Jerry Lynn
ECW TV Championship
A Collar and Elbow Tie-up is turned into an Arm Wringer by Lynn but RVD pulls Lynn’s leg from under him to break the hold. On the mat, RVD puts Lynn into a headlock but Lynn breaks it with a Headscissors that RVD rolls through and gets a one count. Another Collar and Elbow Tie-up is turned into a Headlock by RVD. Lynn breaks it by sending RVD off the ropes but is knocked down by a Shoulder Block by RVD. Lynn leapfrogs RVD’s next move attempt only to see RVD Leapfrog his. Lynn kicks RVD in the gut and Irish Whips RVD who reverses it sending Lynn to the corner. Lynn leapfrogs backwards over a charging RVD and avoids a Moonsault attempt by RVD. Lynn hits RVD with a Cross Body. RVD knocks a charging Lynn down but Lynn avoids a Standing Thunder and we have a stand off to the applause of the crowd.
Another Collar and Elbow Tie-up is turned into a Headlock by Lynn, RVD pushes him off the ropes and Leapfrogs over him before bouncing off the ropes himself. Lynn tries to Leapfrog RVD but RVD catches Lynn with an Inverted Atomic Drop but gets caught by a Clothesline from Lynn. Collar and Elbow Tie-up again is turned into a Headlock by Lynn, pushed off the ropes by RVD who Leapfrogs Lynn and tries to duck a second run only to be Legdropped on the back of the neck by Lynn who Dropkicks RVD in the face and Clotheslines him to the outside. Lynn dives at RVD with a Cannon Ball from the apron which sends RVD into the rail.
Lynn gets into the ring and RVD tries to follow but Lynn hits RVD with a Baseball Slide that sends RVD into the front row. Lynn gets on the apron and launches at RVD, who is in the front row, with what can best be discribed as an Asai Cross Body. Back in the ring and RVD catches Lynn with a Dropkick and a series of Forearms. When RVD attempts a move from the top rope, Lynn kicks him off the top rope and out of the ring face first into the rail. Lynn follows RVD to the outside and Irish Whips RVD but RVD reverses it and sends Lynn into the metal barrier before jumping on the barrier and Legdropping Lynn before diving off the barrier at Lynn with a Cross Body into a sea of people. RVD then lays Lynn on the ring apron and Legdrops Lynn from a ringside barrier. A cover only gets RVD a two. Alfonso throws a chair into the ring and RVD lies on it while applying a Surfboard before throwing Lynn into the air and rolling out of the way so that Lynn comes crashing down onto the chair. Another two count. RVD sets the chair on the ground and plans to Monkey FLip Lynn onto the chair. Lynn has other ideas as he moves out of the way and hits RVD with a slingshot Sunset Flip sending RVD head first into the chair for a two count. Lynn tries to Piledrive RVD on the chair but RVD counters it into a Back Drop that gets a two count. Lynn goes for a DDT but RVD counters that with an Inverted Atomic Drop before Lynn catches RVD with a Reverse DDT for a two.
Lynn gets distracted by Alfonso on the apron. Lynn realises this is a ploy to distract him and turns to see RVD throw the chair. Lynn ducks it, Alfonso catches it. Lynn kicks RVD in the gut as Alfonso swigs the chair at Lynn who grabs the chair out of Alfonso’s hands. Lynn ducks a Spinning Kick from RVD by sitting the chair down on the mat. RVD tries to kick the legs from under Lynn but Lynn jumps over RVD’s leg and brings his own leg down across RVD when he Legdrops RVD onto the chair for yet another two. Lynn takes the chair and climbs to the top turnbuckle but Alfonso grabs his ankle preventing him from doing anything. Both men are now fighting on the second rope. Lynn hits RVD twice with the chair before RVD Van Daminators Lynn sending Lynn through a table at ringside. RVD rolls Lynn back inside the ring and somehow gets another two count. RVD hits Lynn with a World’s Strongest Slam befor placing a chair on Lynn’s chest but Lynn throws it in RVD’s face to counter a Split Legged Moonsault and a Sunset Flip gets a two for Lynn when RVD hits Lynn with the chair in the skull. Both men roll each other up for a series of two counts before Lynn hits a massive German Suplex for yet another two. Climbing to the second rope, Lynn grabs RVD on the ring apron and Tornado DDTs RVD onto the table which doesn’t break (I AM THE TABLE) Lynn rolls RVD into the ring for, yep, a two count. RVD gets a two of his own from a Legdrop. A Bodyslam followed by a Rolling Thunder again gets a two for RVD. It’s Lynn’s turn at getting a two this time from a Tornado DDT IN the ring. THe bell rings.
Winner: Time Limit Draw
The referee tries to award the belt to Jerry Lynn who refuses it asking for five more minutes. This starts a crowd chant of “Five more minutes” leading to…
Rob Van Dam vs Jerry Lynn
ECW TV Championship
Lynn charges at RVD hitting a Dropkick and a Piledriver for a two. Lynn Irish Whips RVD into the corner but RVD boots a charging Lynn in the face. Lynn catches a chair that Alfonso threw into the ring but he gets Van Daminatored in the face. RVD climbs to the top turnbuckle and flies at Lynn hitting him with a Frog Splash. RVD doesn’t need all five minutes as he gets the pin.
Winner: Rob Van Dam (still ECW TV Champion)
Paul Heyman narrates a video package hyping the Taz vs Sabu match later tonight.
Joey Styles introduces us to a moment earlier tonight when porn star Jasminn St Claire was in the ring. Francine came to the ring and both women exchanged words before Francine hit St Claire with a horrendously bad RKO.
New Jack vs Mustafa
New Jack hits Mustafa with a crutch and a computer keyboard before a golf club to the nakamuras. Mustafa fights back smacking New Jack across the skull with a child’s push toy and what may have been a tin of paint before whacking New Jack in the face with a wheelie bin and a baking tray. New Jack gets back into the match with another shot from the computer keyboard followed by a guitar. A low blow by Mustafa sends New Jack to the outside. Mustafa follows and they brawl through the crowd until Mustafa throws New Jack into a wall. Mustafa unloads on New Jack with punches, a chair shot an Elbow drop and more punches. New Jack fights back with an Uppercutt and a chair shot. New Jack sets up a table and then tapes Mustafa to it. New Jack then goes to an area some twenty feet above where Mustafa is and dives from it Splashing Mustafa through the table. At this point, security carry both men back to the ring where New Jack covers Mustafa for the win.
Winner: New Jack
Post match, Bubba Ray Dudley and D Von Dudley head to the ring and beat up New Jack. Bubba gets on the mike and issues an open challenge to any two in the back. So we get………
Bubba Ray Dudley & D Von Dudley vs Spike Dudley & Nova
Bubba and D Von smash their opponents with metal sheets. D Von punches Nova in the corner while Bubba lifts Spike for a Gorilla Press and throws him into the crowd. Spike bodysurfs through the crowd, he’ll be back later. In the ring, D Von hits Nova with a Whassup Headbutt and lifts Nova so Bubba can hit him with a second rope Powerbomb before they hit a 3D. To prevent further damage to Nova, officials step in which only leads to a 3D for the ring announcer. Bubba gets on the mike and says they have destroyed all the fans’ heroes with a 3D before extending his open challenge to anybody who has the guts or man enough. Juge Jeff Jones walks down the isle pushing a stretcher and he says he brings to ECW….. SID!!!!!!
Sid tries to Powerbomb D Von but Bubba hits him in the back with the mike. They pound on Sid with punches but when they miss a Clothesline Sid grabs them and Chokeslams both of them at the same time. He Powerbombs D Von and punches Bubba. Spike’s back (told you he would be) and he hits Bubba with punches and a top rope Legdrop while Sid Press Slams the stretcher onto D Von. Spike hits Bubba with an Acid Drop and gets the pinfall. Post match, Sid Powerbombs Spike in the ring and then Powerbombs him from the entrance ramp through a table
Winners: Spike Dudley & Nova
We see highlights of Shane Douglas threatening to retire and hand over the mantle of The Franchise. Justin Credible says it should be him. Lance Storm says it should be him. Shane Douglas says it’s Tommy Dreamer so Storm and Credible beat down Douglas, Dreamer and Douglas’ valet, Francine.
Lance Storm & Justin Credible vs Shane Douglas & Tommy Dreamer
Storm hits a knee and a punch to Dreamer before an Irish Whip that he follows with a Clothesline. Dreamer avoids a charging Storm but tastes a Right Hand from Credible Storm goes for a Spinning Heel Kick but Dreamer ducks the move as Storm accidentally clobers his own partner. Dreamer hits Storm with a Clothesline and a Neckbreaker before tagging Douglas who catches Strom with a Rolling Inverted Neck Snap. A tag to Credible who exchanges punches with Douglas who gets the better of that exchange before hitting Credible with Two Amigos and a Delayed Suplex. Following an exchange of chops that each get a ‘Wooooo‘ Credible takes a Flair Roll in the corner and lands on the apron. Credible ducks a Clothesline before hitting Douglas with one of his own. Credible launches himself from the top turnbuckle at Douglas who catches him with a Flapjack. Dreamer in and he gets a two from Demolition’s Decapitator. Credible catches Dreamer with a Punch to the ear but fails to follow it as Dreamer catches him with a Spinebuster. Dreamer applies an Abdominal Stretch on Credible, Storm in to break it but Douglas lifts Storm for a Gorilla Press bringing him down across Credible’s knee.
Douglas hits Credible with Right Hands before Storm, on the apron, Kicks Douglas in the back of the head leaving him open for a Superkick by Credible. Storm catches Douglas with a Dropkick before Credible chops him and punches him in the skull. Storm tries a Clothesline but Douglas ducks it and hits Storm with a Side Suplex. Credible hits Douglas with a Jawbreaker. Storm and Credible make frequent tags hitting Douglas with Chops and Elbows. Douglas moves out of the way of a Credible Baseball Slide into the corner which sends Credible nakamuras first into the post giving Douglas the time to tag Dreamer who lights up Credible with a series of Right Hands, a Leg Sweep and a Clothesline that knocks both men out of the ring. Dreamer doesn’t see Storm throw himself at Dreamer with a Plancha. Douglas Irish Whips Storm into the barrier and then deposits him nakamuras first into the ring post.
In the ring, Dreamer hits a Powerslam to Storm for a two count, same from a Side Inverted Tombstone. A Superkick knocks Dreamer down and allows Strom to choke him before a Knee Lift and stomps in the corner. A Chinlock on Dreamer by Credible slows things down before a Jawbreaker gets Dreamer out of the hold but a Heel Kick by Storm gets a two. A Suplex by Storm allows him to tag Credible who drives a second rope Elbow into Dreamer before Storm and Credible hit Dreamer with a Double Suplex on the entrance ramp. Credible dumps Dreamer back into the ring and tags Strom who rams Dreamer’s head into the turnbuckle but Dreamer counters a top rope Moonsault attempt by Storm and hits him with a Neckbreaker and hits a second rope RKO on Credible. Douglas is in and he pretends to form an alliance with Storm and Credible before Clothesline both men. Douglas dishes out Right Hands, Bodyslams and Dropkicks to both men before a Double Noggin Knocker. As he celebrates, Storm’s valet, Dawn Marie, runs in and nails Douglas with a low blow. Francine is in the ring and she hits Dawn with a Snapmare and we have a catfight!! Storm hits Dreamer with a Snap Suplex as Francine drags a ladder to the ring. Dreamer lays the ladder across a corner and carries Credible (chicken fight style) to the corner before dropping him face first on the ladder. On the other side of the ring, Douglas gets a two on Storm after a High Cross Body before he and Dreamer drive the ladder in to Storm and Credible’s faces, a cover by Douglas on Credible gets two. Douglas hits a Front Suplex on Storm followed by a Belly To Belly Suplex on Credible that gets a two. Francine kicks Credible in the back of the head and Douglas hits him with a Pittsburgh Plunge for the three
Winners: Tommy Dreamer & Shane Douglas
Joey Styles shows us highlights of this evening’s RVD vs Jerry Lynn match and we cut to Steve Prazak who is with the ref for the match. Ref says that he felt that Jerry Lynn deserved the TV Title and was ready to award it to him but Jerry Lynn turned it down demanding five more minutes. Rob Van Dam turns up. He calls Jerry Lynn a great competitor and challenges Jerry Lynn to challenge him for the TV Title at the next ECW pay per view.
Taz vs Sabu
Taz gets on the mike and makes this a Falls Count Anywhere Match. Didn’t know he had the power to do so but it’s ECW. Sabu lunges at Taz’s legs but he moves and tries to grapple Sabu who slips out and wraps his arms around Taz ‘s upper torso. Taz grabs Sabu’s arm in a Hammerlock and a quick roll up that gets about one and a half. A Collar and Elbow Tie-up ends in a Waistlock by Sabu but Taz reverses it and Sabu lunges at the ropes to break the hold. Taz wins an exchange of Right Hands but Sabu manages to block a cross face and Arm Drags Taz into an Arm Bar but Taz puts Sabu into a Head Scissors and wrenches on Sabu’s arm before Sabu manages to roll on top of Taz for a one. Another Collar and Elbow Tie-up this time ends in a Waistlock by Taz who takes down Sabu with a Belly To Back Suplex before he gets in the cross face smashing his forearms into Sabu’s jaw. Taz then bounces off the ropes catching Sabu in the skull with a Brooklyn Boot. Sabu reverses an Irish Whip by Taz before hitting what can best be described as a Slingshot Rear View followed by a somersault Legdrop for a two. Alfonso slides a chair into the ring and Sabu throws it at Taz’s head before using the chair to basically hit Taz with a Poetry In Motion. Taz slips to the outside for a breather but Sabu deposits him over the rail and into the crowd before getting in the ring and diving off the top rope at Taz who lifts a chair to protect himself smacking Sabu in the face with it. Taz and Sabu brawl through the throng of people, as was the main event style at the time, before Sabu sits a chair on the entrance ramp and uses it as a launchpad to throw himself at Taz before Taz tosses Sabu from the entrance ramp into the crowd and then back into the ring.
A Dropkick to the knee keeps Taz down long enough for Sabu and Alfonso to lean a table between the ring apron and the crowd barrier. Sabu hits a fury of Right Hands before Taz grabs him and hoists Sabu up and over with an Overhead Belly To Belly Suplex over the top rope and through the recently set up table. Taz picks up Sabu and Press Slams him, jaw first, into the barrier but Sabu throws another chair at the head of Taz. SabuOn the outside of the ring, Sabu prevents Alfonso from throwing in a towel before Taz (yet again) throws Sabu from the ramp into the crowd. Alfonso throws a chair at Taz who chases Alfonso to the back hopefully making this one on one. In the ring Sabu hits a jumping Fameasser to Taz that gets a two and, Damn it, Alfonso’s back. Alfonso’s slid a table into the ring and Sabu sets it up. Taz punches Sabu and lays him on the table before climbing the turnbuckles. Sabu gets up, throws the table out the way and hits Taz with a Hurricanranna from the second rope that gets a two. Taz standing Hurricanranna attempt into a Powerbomb that gets a two.
Outside the ring, Sabu reverses an Irish Whip sending Taz into the barrier. Sabu tries to Sunset Flip Taz from the apron to the floor but the gap between the ring and the barrier isn’t big enough and Taz ends up landing on Sabu. Either way Sabu makes a cover and gets a two. There is a table balanced on top of a guard rail and Sabu lays Taz on it, climbs to the top turnbuckle and Splashes Taz through it, gets two. Sabu hits Taz with a chair assisted Legdrop for another two. Taz gets a two from a Pump Handle Suplex. Sabu uses a chair to hit a top rope Monsault for a two and a Head Arm Suplex gets a two for Taz. Sabu uses the chair to jump to the top rope again, this time for a Legdrop, and he gets another two count. Taz dumps Sabu with another Head Arm Suplex and he lifts him to the buckles for a Head Arm Superplex and again he gets a two. Taz then Dragon Suplexes Sabu through a table. Alfonso throws the towel in the ring but Sabu throws it back out. In the commotion, Taz is able to lock in the Tazmission. Sabu is out. The bell rings.
Winner: Taz (still ECW Champion)
Taz gets on the mike and says Sabu gave him the fight of his life and that he respects Sabu. He tells Sabu he wants to shake his hand which Sabu does before leaving Taz in the ring to celebrate his victory as we fade out.
Post show: I thought this was a good show that had some really good wrestling on it. It’s easy to brand ECW as a ‘Hardcore‘ promotion that smack each other with weapons. There was only one match like that (Mustafa vs New Jack) and I’d say that match was the worst on the show.
Match Of The Night: Tajiri vs Super Crazy. It was this or RVD/Jerry Lynn. Both were outstanding matches but I felt that the RVD one went a little bit too long.
MVP: Jerry Lynn. everyone to this day knows what RVD is capable of but I felt that Jerry Lynn showed he is every bit as good as RVD and in a match that lasted over twenty minutes, Jerry Lynn went toe for toe with RVD and shone
And that is me. I can be fount on Twitter @Callaweasy2220 where I live tweet my way through Raw, Smackdown, NXT and when there is one on (like this week: Backlash) Pay per view. Feel free to pop over and talk wrestling
As with most weeks, there is a vote for what YOU want to see on upcoming editions of Leaping Through The Network over on Twitter @theCHAIRSHOTcom
I’ll be back next week but right now the blue is surrounding me so all that is left to say is
#UseYourHead and ALWAYS have an Angle
“Tommy, you look like a sardine sitting on that couch.”
Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Chapter 5 – ‘For Those About to Fight’
Chapter 5 of the Progress time machine checks in! Harry breaks down the action, the stories and much more!
Chapter 5 of the Progress time machine checks in! Harry breaks down the action, the stories and much more!
Greetings and salutations, everyone. Welcome back to the return of ’What I Watched’ now under the Chairshot Classics banner. The first four chapters of PROGRESS as well as Slammiversary and Bound for Glory 2018 from Impact Wrestling are available in my archive, which you can reach by clicking my name at the top of this article. To update everyone on future plans for What I Watched, obviously we’ll be continuing to cover PROGRESS. Eventually, I’ll get to a somewhat modern show. For other companies, once I hit 2005 on my watching of CHIKARA, I hope to start cover those here as well (the pre 2005 shows don’t have commentary and are (for me anyway) much harder to get through).
That brings us to why we’re here today. PROGRESS has just crowned a new champion at Chapter 4 in El Ligero, who tapped Nathan Cruz in the main event. Rather then do the immediate rematch, PROGRESS’ brass decided that instead they would do a bit of a ‘pick your poison’ situation as Ligero picks Cruz’s opponent and Cruz picks Ligero’s. There was another match revealed before the show as well, but I’ll save the mention of that for a bit later. In addition, the ‘Natural PROGRESS’ tournament continues, but we don’t know the participants for this Chapter. Beyond that, I don’t have a clue what to expect for this show, so it’s looks like we’ll find out together. With that said, it’s into the way back machine once again, as we head to January 27th, 2013 as “What I Watched” presents ‘For Those About to Fight’ or PROGRESS Chapter 5.
WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews will not be a play by play recap. I’ve done that style in the past and honestly, I don’t especially care for it. Instead, it’ll be more of a stream of consciousness review as I talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.
WRITER’S NOTE #2: As much as I’d like to let everyone make their own decisions on the matches, giving away match results in the review will be a necessary evil. The reason being is that I will discuss what I think everything means going forward and maybe even doing a little fantasy booking of where I would go from where they presently are. I will still post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contests. The final show review will be after that as well as the ‘Final Reaction’ for the show. Going forward, I’ll have an archive to all of my previous reviews here on the Chairshot if you click on my user name.
MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating.
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 5
‘For Those About to Fight…We Salute You’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: January 27th, 2013
Run Time: 1:55:53 (Demand PROGRESS)
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton for some of the research that I did while working on this review. (http://www.backbodydrop.com)
*OPENING VIDEO: The first match that the opening video reveals is the London Riots (James Davis and Rob Lynch) taking on the Leaders of the New School (Zach Sabre Jr. and Marty Scurll). That should be a lot of fun…RJ Singh has an open challenge as well…finally, we get highlights of the title match from Chapter 4 to show how El Ligero won the title and then it’s revealed that Nathan Cruz has picked Dave Mastiff to face El Ligero, while El Ligero has selected the debuting Rampage Brown as the opponent for Nathan Cruz.
*GENERAL NOTES: We return to the scene of the first three shows but with what appears to be a different setup. You can’t see any monitors in the frame, but the lighting is absolutely awful. Will not make a fun review if I can’t see stuff that happens…EDIT AT MATCH 3: the lighting gets a bit better as the show goes on, but still not what I’d call great.
*Once again, either Smallman doesn’t have an opening welcome promo or we skip it on the show. Shame, really. As I said time and time again, I really enjoy those in the future Chapters.
*Match #1: Stixx (1-2 as a singles competitor) vs. Danny Garnell (1-0 as a singles competitor)
The Who: Stixx is coming off a loss in the triple threat at Chapter 4, where he was pinned by Dave Mastiff. He had split a pair of matches against Lion Kid before that. Danny Garnell was not at Chapter 4. His most recent match was a loss in a tag match at Chapter 3 where he and Darrell Allen were defeated by the London Riots. In his only previous singles match, Garnell defeated Jimmy Havoc at Chapter 2.
The Why: I haven’t a damn clue here. Makes zero sense to me. If Jimmy *cough cough* Barnett mentions something on commentary, I’ll be sure to pass it along.
The Match: Before the match gets underway, Stixx lets everyone know that he, like Garnell, is originally from London but he moved away because London ‘is full of a bunch of pillocks’. Somewhere, William Regal smiles…opening bell goes here and gets a rousing ovation…Stixx impressed me in his last match against Lion Kid, but the first one was less then appealing. Garnell had a surprisingly good match with Havoc at Chapter 2…first topical reference from 2013 gets explained by Barnett and given the PROGRESS fan base, it’s no surprise that it makes light of a death. Highs and lows of these crowds…the ‘crowd counts the next number’ has run it’s course now but was still pretty fresh when this show happened…not the opening match you’d come to expect but technically proficient thus far…heavier shots finally start getting fired around the five minute mark. This is more what you’d expect from these two…first crowd expletive based chant at six and half minutes into match one. I would have had the under there…cravat with knee strikes and that’s more what I expect from this match then the opening five minutes where they basically stayed on the mat. Not saying they can’t do it, but not what you expect or want to see with two guys this size. You expect more ‘Hoss Fight’ here…Garnell busts out a nice looking Northern Lights for two…slingshot neck snap by Stixx. That was new and very nice looking. Also not what you’d expected from a guy who’s probably closer to two fifty then two hundred…I’ve never seen a crowd response so favorably towards exploder suplexes. It doesn’t happen but the crowd was ready to, pardon the pun, explode for it…Stixx gets two with a Black Hole Slam. Which I think was the move that did pin Lion Kid at Chapter 3…I don’t mean this is a terribly negative way, but this match has been pretty long for an opener…Garnell goes for a tornado DDT off the second buckle, but Stixx is able to counter. A series of reversals leads to Garnell attempting that same tornado DDT a second time and this time hitting it, which gives him the pinfall at 14:52…technically proficient, sure. But not especially enthralling. The match had it’s moments where I went ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’, but to me, it seems like it may have been a mistake having these two go this long in the opener. Closer to the first Lion Kid match then the second for Stixx and Garnell looks like just another guy here. Call it AVERAGE and mildly disappointing at that. (AVERAGE)
*Match #2: ‘Natural Progression’ Quarterfinal: Lord Jonathan Windsor (debut) vs. ‘Wild Boar’ Mike Hitchman (0-1 as a singles)
The Who: Lord Jonathan Windsor debuts here, looking like a very British Chuck Taylor. Not sure if that’s a compliment or not. Anyway, he appears to have a Blue Bloods gimmick a la 1995 WCW Bobby Eaton or William Regal. Mike Hitchman we saw before when he challenged Mark Andrews for the BWC Starlo Scholarship. He was unsuccessful in that match but he and Andrews had a barnburner. Happy to see Hitchman back for another opportunity.
The Why: Speaking of Mark Andrews, he advanced to the semifinals at Chapter 4. This is the second of the four quarterfinal matches. The winner of which will join Andrews in the semifinals and maybe face him. No release on the brackets to my knowledge.
The Match: Hitchman is now on WWE TV as part of NXT UK, but if you didn’t know it was the same guy, you’d never be able to tell. He looks so different here…opening bell goes and Windsor takes time to fold his robe…Barnett points out there’s nothing wrong with a Blue Blood gimmick as in twenty years time, you could be married to Jim Smallman’s daughter and own part of PROGRESS. Okay, that drew a legit chuckle from me…not sure if Windsor is big or Hitchman is just really small even by Indy standards…Hitchman gets tired of Windsor’s stalling and it leads to a DDT on the apron. Not sure that’s a spot I’d use in match two, but okay then…we go to the crowd brawling in the second match as well. It’s like an ECW show broke out…Windsor seems more concerned about posing then wrestling. I get that you are new, but this is a company that prides itself on ring work…fans seems to remember the Package Piledriver that Hitchman used against Andrews because they respond every time he goes for. So far, Windsor has had the counter, but one feels that won’t be the case forever…Hitchman once again goes the for the Package PD, but Windsor counters with a backdrop over. Hitchman hooks the legs on the landing and goes for the sunset flip, but Windsor sits out with a deep cradle and that’ll be a three count at 11:24…can definitely say I don’t agree with the who won here. Hitchman had a cracker against Andrews in his first appearance and if the winner of this match was to get Andrews in the semis, I’ve had loved to see them run it back. Windsor did absolutely nothing for me as the gimmick is just basically cheap heat and there’s not a lot of steak to go with the sizzle. Call this BELOW AVERAGE and it’s two matches, two misses thus far for PROGRESS Chapter 5. (BELOW AVERAGE)
*Match #3: Nathan Cruz (3-1 as a singles) vs. Rampage Brown (debut)
The Who: Nathan Cruz is the former champion, looking for a bit of redemption against the handpicked opponent of the new champion. One could argue that Cruz has been the guy who has meant the most to the company thus far, so seeing him in match three on the night is kind of odd. Rampage Brown makes his debut here. I don’t know much about him other then he had a brief run with NXT in the US before going back over to the UK and a run with WCPW in the UK as well.
The Why: Discussed it earlier but to reiterate, it’s part of the ‘pick your poison’ series with Cruz and Ligero picking each other’s opponents for the evening.
The Match: Before the match, Cruz announces that he has hired a bodyguard to deal with his Marty Scurll problem named Fug. We don’t see him yet, but Cruz claims he’s seven feet tall and two hundred and eighty pounds. That would be a very skinny bodyguard…the chyron for Cruz has him listed at 3-2. I’m guessing there are including the tag loss from Chapter 3, which I do not in singles competition. If you guys would like, I can keep a running archive of records at the bottom of the reviews going forward. Let me know what you think and I’ll add it in the future if so requested…second expletive based chant of the night encourages Rampage to ‘fuck him up’…opening bell goes here…Rampage is well put together. It’s easy to see why he got a developmental deal with the WWE…for a bigger guy, Rampage is pretty adept on the mat. Cruz tries a sunset flip off the second turnbuckle, but Rampage is able to roll through and escape into a Crossface. Thankfully, no Chris Benoit chants follow this time…think the sound may be a little off on this Chapter from a technical aspect. Spinal Tap kick sound happens shortly after the kick occurs…Rampage dumps Cruz to the floor with a back suplex and the around ringside brawling commences where Cruz surprisingly gets the advantage…for as much crap as the PROGRESS fans give him, Cruz is one of the smoother guys on the roster. He wrestles like a wrestler, not just a guy trying to string things together in the attempt to tell a story…Cruz has gotten a good portion of this match. A bit of a surprise given that it is Rampage’s debut but with Cruz being the former champion, it’s also understandable…sliding dropkick gets a series of two counts. Standard basement dropkick, not the sliding kick he pinned both Ligero and Colossus Kennedy with back at Chapter 1…ugh, headbutts. So not a fan of those…huge back body drop by Rampage. Looked really good despite the slight delay going to it…Rampage looked for a powerbomb but Cruz got out into a chestblower. Cruz looks to follow up and gets countered into a good looking series of powerbombs, first standard and then sit out for a very close two…Cruz hits Show-Stolen and much like Ligero did at Chapter 4, Rampage kicks out. It also gives our first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant of the night…Rampage catches a Falcon Arrow and looks to have the cover but doesn’t want it. That drives me nuts! 2 Cold Scorpio used to do that shit all the time and it’s stupid to me. The point is to win the match…Rampage then catches the Crossface a third time but Cruz finds his way to the ropes and then to the apron. Rampage tries to suplex Cruz back in, but Cruz lands on his feet and a O’Connor Roll with a hook of both the ropes and the tights gives Cruz the win at 15:27…that was more like it, PROGRESS. Very well contested match from the standard bearer of the company and a new guy who got a definite opportunity to shine. Cruz may pick up the win here, but the way he picks up the win is the story as it keeps Rampage looking good going forward for when he comes back. Rampage definitely impressed in what was I believe my first time seeing him and I look forward to seeing more, assuming he can curb the 2 Cold Scorpio aspect of not wanting the pinfall. Cruz bounces back nicely from the Staff loss and one assumes sets himself back up into title contention. GOOD match between these two here and finally something worth the time on the show. (GOOD)
*Post-match: We see Fug help Cruz to the back. He’s not nearly what Cruz claimed him to be. 6’8-6’9 maybe. The two hundred eighty pounds may be accurate though.
*Match #4: ‘PROGRESS Championship Staff’ – El Ligero © (3-1 as a singles competitor) vs. Dave Mastiff (1-0 as a singles competitor)
The Who: El Ligero has just won the Staff at Chapter 4 as we established above. In doing so, he also got revenge on the only man to have pinned him thus far, as it was Cruz who eliminated Ligero from the four way at Chapter 1. Dave Mastiff has had two matches and two victories thus far in PROGRESS. A tag match at Chapter 3, where teaming with the now departed Greg Burridge, he pinned the then champion Nathan Cruz. Mastiff won a three way at Chapter 4, pinning Stixx after Cruz got involved in taking Marty Scurll out of the match
The Why: Two parts here. One, obviously, is that it’s for the PROGRESS Championship (Nazi) Staff. Second, it’s the second bout in the ‘pick your poison’ series for Cruz and Ligero, as Mastiff is Cruz’s handpicked challenge for the title.
The Match: It occurs to me that this is the fourth match and we’ve yet to see an inset promo on this show. They just vanished into a void of non-existence…hot start as once Ligero is introduced, he shotgun dropkicks Mastiff to the floor and follows out with a tope con hilo…Ligero goes for the guillotine early but Mastiff quickly escapes…once again, the PROGRESS fans encourage a good “Fing” up, this time in support of Mastiff…Mastiff counters a frankensteiner attempt into a powerbomb try but Ligero escapes into a second attempt at the guillotine. It’s about as successful as the first attempt…Barnett says that he described Ligero to an American friend as a mix of the ‘best of El Generico and the best of LowKi’. Not sure I agree that he’s at Generico’s level, but the point is understandable…wrecking ball dropkick by Ligero and he buries Mastiff under a pile a chairs, going for the count-out. Mastiff up at six and Ligero tries another dropkick, only to get flung wheelbarrow style into the ring post…stalling delayed vertical suplex by Mastiff goes for a full minute goes Mastiff brings down Ligero. Impressive in length but to be fair, El Ligero weighs like a third of what Mastiff does…Mastiff goes for a second but Ligero escapes into a rollup for two. Looked good…sound is definitely slightly off on this stream…sleeper (I think?) variation…out to the floor again, but only long enough for Mastiff to pitch Ligero back in. Smart. Can’t win the Staff by count-out. Wish more people would do that instead of letting opponents take the count…Mastiff goes for a Buckle Bomb but once again gets caught in the guillotine. Mastiff counters by putting Ligero on the top rope. The guillotine isn’t working, but bless his heart, he keeps trying…absolutely hate that corner hanging double stomp. Almost always looks so contrived no matter who is doing it…shotgun dropkick by Ligero is no sold and Mastiff hits one of his own, followed by a dead lift German to put Ligero on the floor again…Ligero finally gets the guillotine in with both guys on the floor and rolls back into the ring to try to take a count-out win. Mastiff breaks the count just before the ten…Ligero goes for the C4L but Mastiff stops him and gets a running Liger Bomb for a close two count and the second ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…Into The Void (corner cannonball) misses and Ligero goes up, leaping into a sixth attempt at the guillotine. This time, Mastiff flings Ligero overhead with a belly2belly variation. Mastiff tries to follow up with another Liger Bomb, but Ligero counters back into the guillotine. Mastiff tries to power out once but collapses and it’s a KO victory for the champion at 18:18…solid big match vs. little man contest but to be frank, nothing special here. A couple cool moves and a very impressive bit of dogged determination from El Ligero but if I’m being honest, I never bought that Mastiff was going to take the title from Ligero. Ligero’s deal with Cruz isn’t over and Mastiff hasn’t been around long enough to really establish much of a name for himself in PROGRESS. The fans kinda responded the same way I did as they got involved in the match here and there, but never for any significant portion of time. The match itself was GOOD due to the efforts of both men, but not must see by any stretch of the imagination. (GOOD)
*Match #5: RJ Singh (2-0-1) vs. ‘Dazzling’ Darrell Allen (0-1-1)
The Who: RJ Singh comes in off consecutive victories, beating Paul Robinson and Rob Cage at Chapters 3 and 4, respectively. The draw is a no decision in a three way where El Ligero pinned Greg Burridge to become number one contender at Chapter 2. Darrell Allen is looking for his first victory here in PROGRESS as not only does he have the 0-1-1 singles record (tapped by Noam Dar (Chp2), no decision in three way where Xander Cooper pinned Zack Gibson (Chp1)), he was on the losing side of a tag match at Chapter 3 as well and completely left off Chapter 4.
The Why: This one I have an answer for as well. It is an RJ Singh ‘Bollywood’ Open Challenge here. Adding to the intrigue of this open challenge is info that Jim Smallman gives us before the match during introductions that these guys are usually a tag team known as the Bhangra Knights.
The Match: Pre-match, Singh reads Allen the riot act, stating that they promised to stay out of each other’s way in PROGRESS and that while Singh has thrived, Allen has been something of a loser. Allen says in his (Allen’s) hometown of London, why don’t we find out if Singh really is King (which has been RJ’s catchphrase during this PROGRESS run)…bell goes and we’re underway…Singh has the edge early but it is pretty evenly matched…this is going to come down to a classic story of aerial vs. technical. Allen is more of a flyer whereas RJ likes to stay on the match…Director and Boudica again get on the apron, but Singh tells them to get down once again. I thought that pairing dissolved at Chapter 4…Boudica and Director do find themselves ejected and in a moment that’ll make Vince smile, the ‘Na Na Hey Hey’ song accompanies them doing so…springboard kick to the midsection. Called an enzugiri. It wasn’t, but I don’t know what the technical name is…Singh catches Allen with a version of the Tyebreaker that gets two (fireman’s carry into spinning facebuster over the knee). It looked good…this may not be the most PC thing to say but every time Allen takes a big bump, it looks like he’s trying to fellate himself…crowd very wittily chants ‘This is Bhangra’ instead of ‘This is PROGRESS’. Dug that…Singh loads up for a superkick, preceding it with a ‘I’m sorry. I love you’. The crowd and Barnett pop. The move is countered but the thought that counts…Allen up top and distracted by Boudica and Director on stage. Singh pulls Allen up the top and hits Widow’s Peak. Singh looks to apply the ‘Ethnic Submission’ (Camel Clutch, obviously) but Allen is able to pull Singh forward and trap him in a cradle for the three count at 9:56…alright, so I had some doubts. Singh has been pretty basic up to this point. Allen had a good performance in the triple threat at Chapter 1 but both he and Garnell were kind of just there for the match with the London Riots. With all that being said, it actually turned into a pretty nice little match here. There was a good amount of action thrown in with the story that they told and most importantly to me, I like that the story actually played into the finish with Allen knowing the ‘Ethnic Submission’ and having a counter planned. Call this one a GOOD showing for both guys and the best match on the card thus far, in my opinion. (GOOD)
*Post-match: Singh offers the handshake and instead, he and Allen hug it out. Shah Boudica takes not kindly to this and attacks Allen from behind. Singh pulls Boudica off of Allen twice, before Boudica slaps Singh in the face. Allen then superkicks Boudica in the back of the head. Allen and Singh then team up as a Samoan Drop-Blockbuster combination (called the Bhangra Buster, but for point of reference look for Cryme Tyme’s G-9) and looks like the Bhangra Knights will be a thing going forward in the tag division….as the Bhangra Knights are making their way to the back, the London Riots make their entrance, so me thinks that may play a factor in a future Chapter.
*Match #6: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) (3-0 as a team) vs. Leaders of the New School (Marty Scurll/Zach Sabre Jr.) (Debut as a team)
The Who: London Riots are clearly the class of the PROGRESS tag division thus far. Wins over the Bastard Squad (probably done now that Allen is back with Singh), the Hunter Brothers and the Velocity Vipers (shame about Esmail’s leg) have led them to here, a main event level match. Leaders of the New School make their debut as a team here for PROGRESS, but it will not be my first time seeing them as a team. I remember getting into the European wrestling scene by watching wXw out of Germany and Scurll and Sabre Jr. were the wXw Tag Team champions for a while there. Scurll has been one of the biggest stars of PROGRESS thus far and in my opinion, Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. from Chapter 1 remains the best match in PROGRESS history to this point.
The Why: London Riots wanted competition, Jim Smallman decided to give them competition in the form of what many at the time considered to be the best tag team in Europe. Pretty straight forward here.
The Match: As per the usual, if I screw up Davis and Lynch, I apologize. They have stuck with the singlet and bikers gear, so once again, I should be okay…aw, Chris Roberts just got his first kiss. It was from Marty Scurll, but it still counts!…Davis is the one in the singlet. Now I know. Thanks Smallman, er, Barnett…Barnett lets us know that the Chapter 1 match between the Leaders was voted best match in Britain in 2012. That’s fair…Scurll spits his gum at Lynch. Well, with no Noam Dar on this show, someone had to be unhygienic…has that sit out butt drop worked for another then Rikishi in the last decade?…a little Poetry in Motion by the Leaders and then Scurll uses Sabre Jr. as a weapon to take out both Riots…off to an insane pace. Shit ton of action and we’re not even four minutes in yet…Scurll with a running bitch slap to Davis. Davis responds with a STIFF running body block. Don’t think he appreciated the slap…everything Sabre Jr. does is so fluid. With as many huge Indy names that ended up in NXT, I am stunned that Zach never got a shot there. I know he had a set of Japanese commitments, between NOAH and NJPW, but what could have been…believe the word to describe Sabre would be lanky. But he makes the most of it…apparently, I owe Rob Lynch and James Davis an apology. My Chapter 3 review got posted as I’m typing this and I apparently called them the Riot Squad during the course of that. They were facing the Bastard Squad and I just joined the names for a common WWE name. My bad…Lynch just knocks Sabre weak kneed with a forearm. Good lord…we’ve settled into a bit of tag formula here but as I’ve said before, it’s a formula because it works. Riots are hated and Leaders are loved. What better way to do this then to keep a member of the Leaders isolated and get the crowd to rally behind him…despite a pretty good experience gap, Riots are looking good in this match. Part of it is a master class from Sabre and Scurll as babyfaces, but Riots are more then holding their weight…I really hope Sabre Jr. is around more in PROGRESS in 2013. That war he had with Scurll at Chapter 1 was his only match for 2012. It would definitely make these reviews more fun to get to see more of the wizardry that Sabre possesses…tag finally made and Scurll comes in a house of fire…Scurll gets the Cesaro apron superplex that gets broken up by a bloody nosed Rob Lynch. A kick from Sabre caught him flush before the hot tag…gamengiri by Sabre Jr. into a DVD by Scurll gets two with another save by Lynch. It looked good…pop-up spear by the Riots and it looked really good. Last second save by Scurll…Riots look for the ‘District Line’ powerbomb but Sabre is able to get out and he chuffing loves putting people in cross-armbreakers. It’s broken up by getting Scurll powerbomb’d onto him…everyone down after a series of strikes and the crowd hits our fourth ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…saves are coming hot and heavy here. I like it to a point, but let’s not get to the line of overkill…Sabre nails Scurll with a kick by mistake and the Riots take advantage with a really good looking Doomsday Device which Sabre kicks out of at two. That would have made for a good finish…shortly thereafter, the ‘District Line’ powerbomb does land (looking a bit rough but the point was there) and James Davis pins Zach Sabre Jr. at 20:07…VERY GOOD but not to the level are the previous Scurll main event matches in PROGRESS. The biggest issue I have here in that while the Riots had a good heat segment on Sabre, it didn’t break down nearly as much as I expected it to in the finish. Speaking of the finish, it looked slightly blown as I think Lynch may have tried a neckbreaker for the ‘District Line’ or he just didn’t get far enough out of the way. The big thing here is that it definitely establishes the Riots as the team to beat in PROGRESS as they take down the Leaders relatively cleanly. (VERY GOOD)
Post-match: London Riots don’t attack after the match as has been their tradition, instead heading to the back. Probably to fix Rob Lynch’s nose. Jim Smallman gets on the mic and lets us know that the first match they’ll announce for Chapter 6 will be a rematch of Chapter 4 as the Riots will once again face the Hunter Brothers, this time in a weapons match. Seems like an odd time to announce this with Sabre Jr. still down in the ring, but the show must go on, I suppose. Scurll goes to get a bit of mic time as well, but the show fades before he speaks and that’s a wrap for Chapter 5.
Match #1: Danny Garnell pins Stixx, tornado DDT off second buckle @ 14:52 (AVERAGE)
Match #2: Lord Jonathan Windsor pins Mike Hitchman, sit-down on sunset flip @ 11:24 (BELOW AVERAGE)
Match #3: Nathan Cruz pins Rampage Brown, O’Connor Roll with hook of tights and ropes @ 15:27 (GOOD)
Match #4: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff- El Ligero © defeats Dave Mastiff by KO, guillotine choke @ 18:18 (GOOD)
Match #5: Darrell Allen pins RJ Singh, leverage pin out of ‘Ethnic Submission’ attempt @ 9:57 (GOOD)
Match #6: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) defeat Leaders of the New School (Marty Scurll/Zach Sabre Jr.), Davis pins Sabre Jr. after the ‘District Line’ powerbomb @ 20:07 (VERY GOOD)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
It picks up quite a bit at the end, so I can’t call it the worst of the five shows thus far. That being said, it’s definitely not mandatory viewing either. The issue that I find myself with is that I know what PROGRESS is capable of as it goes forward. When you go back and watch these formative shows, you can see moments of potential. But that’s all they are usually at this time frame. Just moments. Top to bottom, none of these shows have delivered a knock out show. Try to find the semi main and main event if you have a chance, but the rest is watch at your convenience. Except for the Windsor and Hitchman match. Do yourself a favor and skip that.
Where does this leave us? It leaves me a little disappointed, but that’s what happens when expectations are set so high. It leaves you hopefully wanting to come back as we take the next step in this journey with Chapter 6. In addition, it leaves me still hungry. I wonder if I could work out a ‘burgers per review’ deal around here.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Despite the fact that I gave the main event a higher rating, I going to give this honor to the RJ Singh and Darrell Allen match. The match itself is a good mix of comedy and ring work. The post match is where the money is as the fans go crazy for the Bhangra Knights reunion.
Worst match/moment: Feels like I’m beating a dead horse, but Mike Hitchman and Lord Jonathan Windsor can be classified as nothing less then a disappointment. The blueblood gimmick has potential, but in a company like this, you need to be able to back it up in the ring. Windsor simply did not.
MVP: Going to give this as co-MVPs again and I’m going to give it to James Davis and Rob Lynch for a star making performance in the main event as the London Riots prove they are the class of the PROGRESS tag team division.
FINAL SCORE: 6.0/10.0
Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Up next is Chapter 6: “We <3 Violence” And make sure you guys check out the Raw Reaction every Monday night at 11:30 PM (EST) to hear Tony Acero, Andrew Balaz and myself break down the important news and cover Monday Night Raw over on the Chairshot Radio Network.
Doctor’s Orders: Ranking The Greatest Matches and Rivalries in NXT Takeover History
Objectively subjectifying all-time greatness on NXT’s premiere stage, Takeover. See what matches are on the list!
The Doctor is in as Chad Matthews updates his list of greatest WWE NXT Takeover matches and rivalries with a look at two of the very best, from different NXT eras.
Attempting to contextualize greatness in pro wrestling is a fascinating exercise, a much more multi-faceted conversation than it is often given credit for. To some in the business, for instance, Rock vs. Cena is the greatest match of all-time because it set the pay-per-view buy mark, while others would say the greatest match is Austin vs. Bret because of the exemplary storytelling. Why should greatness be limited to a plethora “one or the other” positions (best vs. most popular or anything of the sort)? Such has been my stance during this entire decade (see The Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the WrestleMania Era), tackling the process of adding measures of objectivity to a topic deemed completely and utterly subjective and attempting to broaden the way that we have these discussions. I can also apply that to NXT.
Greatness has become regularly associated with NXT. I am personally enamored with what the yellow brand has accomplished over the past few years, with the Takeover franchise especially. The reputation that Takeover has built should astound any diehard WWE fan who, at times during the WrestleMania Era, may have felt like Vince and Co. unnecessarily (and oddly) put a critical ceiling on its in-ring product. Bold statement: Takeover has, based purely on what happens from bell-to-bell, produced nearly as many bonafide classic wrestling matches as WrestleMania in just five years of existence. Think about that for a moment, because it was with that idea in mind that I started asking, “What’s the greatest in NXT history?”
My second book (referenced above) was published last summer and in it I crafted a detailed formula to thoroughly assess the various aspects that shape how fans and pundits use the term “greatest.” Turning my attention to NXT, I took that formula and tweaked it to fit Takeover. On a 1-5 star scale, appropriately, I graded the best match in each of the top rivalries in NXT history, picked from a pool of consensus classics, on the psychology, storytelling, selling, execution, and climax of their in-ring performances, their historic ramifications on NXT lore, the setting (as defined by a pre-made scale for crowd size), the strength of their pre-match build-up, and the rating given by Dave Meltzer to account for popular opinion, as well as a few additional points (not on a scale of 1-5, mind you) for any intangible qualities (i.e. a special entrance, an innovative move or sequence never before seen, a rivalry-befitting gimmick, etc.). The sum total of the scoring yields the rivalry’s standing, which will be continuously updated as this long-term process advances.
Today’s entries grow the list from fourteen to sixteen matches, which have been selected at random throughout this project’s history dating back to last fall. Here are the rankings ahead of today’s additions (the links will take you to the objectively subjective breakdown of each match):
#1- Revival vs. #DIY (46.5)
#2- Bate vs. Dunne (43.5)
#3- Ricochet vs. Cole (43.0)
#4- Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (42.25)
#5- Dream vs. Ricochet (42.0)
#6- War Games 2018 (41.5)
#7- Nakamura vs. Zayn (41.0)
#8- Asuka vs. Moon (40.75)
#9- #DIY vs. AOP (39.75)
#10- Dream vs. Black (39.5)
#11- Balor vs. Joe (39.0)
#12- Owens vs. Balor (38.75)
#13- Almas vs. McIntyre (36.0)
#14- Four Horsewomen-Way (33.75)
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship at Takeover: Philadelphia
Psychology: 5 / Historic: 4.5 / Setting: 5 / Storytelling: 5 / Selling: 5 / Climax: 5 / Execution: 5 / Popular Opinion: 5 / Build: 4.5 / Intangibles: +4
Total Score: 48.0
There have been very few matches in WWE history that have found me clapping while watching them in replay, and Cien vs. Johnny Wrestling from Philly is one of them. Hand to heart, I am unsure that there has ever been a better performance in WWE, which is partly what makes the added dynamic of including NXT lore when historically ranking matches throughout the WrestleMania Era so challenging and simultaneously so fascinating. The depth of storytelling and the instances when believably this match could have been over but somehow was not is virtually unmatched in mainstream North American wrestling over the past thirty plus years. Gargano and Almas judged everything picture-perfectly, selling their butts off, adding layers of psychology as they reached an utterly captivating climax, and drawing every ounce of intrigue out of the in-ring chemistry that they first prominently put on display against each other at Takever: Brooklyn III.
Gargano vs. Andrade is truly one of the greats as “epic” matches go, and the Philadelphia match certainly fits the profile of the genre (an “epic match”) that I have been quietly working on popularizing in the IWC, offered up to properly label a lengthy main-event style performance that builds to crescendo after crescendo and features finisher kick-outs as one of its primary hope spot wells to tap. I have been critical of the over-use of it, as many of its staples have trickled down to ten minute mid-card matches, and I do believe that epics, like Cena vs. Styles for example, are suffering from a distinct lack of rewatchability because of how ardently they cling to bout-ending signature offense, but Cien vs. Johnny is not to be lumped in with such over-done peers because it is smarter, more intricate, better executed, and expertly paced, its gaps in action replaced with the outstanding managerial act of Zelina Vega (and the eventual cameo by Candice Wrestling).
I believe it was a truly remarkable achievement. Maybe Banks vs. Bayley, Gargano vs. Ciampa, or Gargano vs. Adam Cole beats it in the scoring system, but even if one of them or another Takeover match in the pipeline down the road unseats it, I think it is going to be a long time before something removes it from the pedestal of what yours truly would call the finest match in Takeover history. Aesthetically, athletically, psychologically, I just struggle to see how anyone could really argue that another match was better. I was fortunate enough to see them wrestle one of their prequels in Brooklyn, and that was one of the four or five best mid-card type bouts in Takeover lore too, so when you combine that match with what happened in Philly – of the nine scoring categories here, their NXT Title match scored a 5 in seven of them – you have an all-time great.
You know, it is funny that Dave Meltzer awarded the Takeover: Philadelphia match the first “5-star” rating for a WWE match since Punk vs. Cena in Chicago, and if you watch any of New Japan Pro Wrestling and know of Meltzer’s fascination with it, you can appreciate why. Almas vs. Gargano was an NJPW match in an NXT ring with WWE production value. If in the coming years, a main-event of that style and caliber is featured on Summerslam or eventually works it way to the WrestleMania headlining position, I think we may have Gargano vs. Almas to thank for it.
Neville vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship at Takeover: R-Evolution
Psychology: 4.5 / Historic: 4.5 / Setting: 3 / Storytelling: 5 / Selling: 5 / Climax: 5 / Execution: 4.5 / Popular Opinion: 4.75 / Build: 5 / Intangibles: +3
Total Score: 44.25
While in the beginning of this process, it seemed probable that Cien Almas vs. Johnny Wrestling had a shot at topping this match to advance ever closer to the #1 spot, what seemed assured from the out-set was that Zayn vs. Neville would rate among the premiere title matches in NXT lore because, in terms of storytelling, there may still have never been a championship bout that possesses the same sense of urgency or the same sense of occasion.
Here you had Neville, a bit shy of a year-long reigning as NXT Champion (who held the title during the promotion’s rise to WWE Network prominence) and possessing one of the most amazing offensive arsenals in pro wrestling’s entire history, coming up against Zayn, arguably the quintessential example of how legends are capable of being made in NXT. No matter what happens elsewhere within the Titan ranks, Zayn will be someone revered by any who watched what he did in NXT from 2014 to 2016.
One of the greatest things that NXT brings to the table is how wrestlers, as personalities, are characters first, their labels (or face-heel dichotomies) rather arbitrary by comparison. Neville strayed a bit more toward a black and white personic construct during the match, but he was clearly pushed toward the line that Zayn managed to straddle a bit better and showed glimpses of the viciousness and single-mindedness (toward winning) that made his run on 205 Live so engaging to purple brand followers in 2017; it was Zayn who was truly marvelous, though, displaying a depth of character so rarely seen from protagonists in WWE proper, and far more relatable for it, as evidenced by the incredibly raucous crowd support that he garnered in what was still ostensibly a babyface match. Zayn’s ability to connect on that deeper emotional level lifted this effort to pantheon status.
The end result – the total package from the storyline build-up to the hype video package to the atmosphere it generated to the bell-to-bell fight (and it felt like the fight that pro wrestling should be in the modern era main-event scene with the athletic potential of the combatants) – closed the first chapter in the history of NXT in the Network Era with a timeless classic destined for massive hindsight accolades in the near and distant future.
#1- Andrade vs. Gargano (48.0)
#2- Revival vs. #DIY (46.5)
#3- Neville vs. Zayn (44.25)
#4- Bate vs. Dunne (43.5)
#5- Ricochet vs. Cole (43.0)
#6- Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (42.25)
#7- Dream vs. Ricochet (42.0)
#8- War Games 2018 (41.5)
#9- Nakamura vs. Zayn (41.0)
#10- Asuka vs. Moon (40.75)
#11- #DIY vs. AOP (39.75)
#12- Dream vs. Black (39.5)
#13- Balor vs. Joe (39.0)
#14- Owens vs. Balor (38.75)
#15- Almas vs. McIntyre (36.0)
#16- Four Horsewomen-Way (33.75)
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Check out the latest episode of The Doc Says podcast, featuring a review of NXT Takeover 25!