Backstage: The 1-2-3 Kid & The Smoking Gunns chat with fans on the WWF Superstar Line.
Video: Two weeks ago on RAW, King Mabel & Yokozuna viciously attacked The Undertaker during a 6-Man Tag Team Match, The Deadman suffering a crushed face which will cause him to be out of action until Survivor Series.
Match #4: King Mabel w/Sir Mo vs. Yokozuna w/James E. Cornette & Mr. Fuji
The Mighty One gets some words of wisdom from Fuji & Cornette, The King talks some trash to Yoko and pokes him in the chest, Yokozuna fires back with a right hand and the two behemoths trade-off shots. Yokozuna gets the better of it, knocks Mabel to the outside with a clothesline, The King regroups and steps back into the squared circle. Yoko with some more advice from Mr. Fuji, they big men lock-up, Mabel unloads with heavy rights, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, The King ducking a clothesline, then leaves his feet for a flying clothesline of his own. King Mabel with a big elbow and Yoko spills to the floor, The Mighty One catches his breath, heads back into the ring, Mo distracts him from the outside and Mabel takes advantage, surprising Yokozuna with a big splash in the corner.
The King puts the boots to Yoko, shoots him across, lines up for another splash, but this time The Mighty One explodes out with a clothesline. He measures for an elbow drop that’s off-target, Mabel rises to his feet and unsuccessfully tries one of his own, both guys stagger to a vertical base and Yokozuna corners The King with fists. He rocks Mabel with headbutt, The King comes back with his own headbutt, hits the ropes for a running bulldog, but Yoko stays on his feet and the spot is botched. The Mighty One inexplicably spills to the floor through the ropes, King Mabel comes out in pursuit, jumps off the apron with a double axe handle, then looks to drive Yoko into the ring post.
The Mighty One reverses and drives The King into the steel instead, Mo gets into it with Cornette on the floor, shoves him onto his backside, Yokozuna tries to chase after Sir Mo, but trips over Cornette and the ref’s count reaches 10.
Winner: Double Count-Out
- After The Bell: Yoko & Mabel roll into the ring and go face-to-face, Mo and Cornette step inside to try and calm them down, the two big men hugging it out.
- EA’s Take: Yowzers, this one was pretty bad. Slow, overweight, laboring individuals who do not match-up well one bit. Both of these guys need to be up against the right opponent in order to put on a good performance and that list doesn’t include one another. Yoko can give you some good stuff, but his weight was becoming a major issue because of his food addiction, meanwhile Mabel is already on thin ice with the company after Diesel saved his job, but his days were numbered after legitimately fracturing Undertaker’s orbital bone in his face.
In The Ring: Dok Hendrix introduces Dean Douglas, then welcomes out WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels who must forfeit the title. A somber, bruised Shawn Michaels steps into the squared circle, reluctantly hands the championship over to Interim WWF President Gorilla Monsoon, but Douglas swipes it away and begins to celebrate. The Heartbreak Kid starts to leave, watches Dean wrap the title around his waist and Hendrix announces Douglas as the new champion, Michaels continuing to look back at the ring as he walks away.
Match #5 for the WWF Intercontinental Championship: WWF Intercontinental Champion Dean Douglas vs. Razor Ramon
Razor charges to the ring, ducks a shot and fires away with right hands, the bell rings and we’re officially underway. The challenger shoots Douglas into the turnbuckles, follows with a haymaker off the rebound, the champion rolls to the outside and takes a walk to collect himself. He climbs back in and they lock-up, Ramon picks the arm for a wristlock, works over the left shoulder and knocks Dean down for an armbar. Douglas works back to his feet and The Bad Guy continues to punish the arm, continuously lifts the champion in the air to hurt the shoulder joint, then goes right back to an armbar, switching back-and-forth between a wristlock.
Dean finally backs the challenger to the corner, doesn’t break clean and scores with back elbows, sends Ramon across and charges in for an elbow, The Bad Guy side-steps out of harm’s way, then hooks the armbar back on to ground him. Douglas tries to roll him away with an arm drag and Razor maintains the hold, the champion finds his footing again, backs Ramon to the corner, doesn’t break clean again and hammers the challenger down to the mat with right hands and boots. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, The Bad Guy swings wildly with a clothesline that misses, catches Dean attempting a crossbody, tosses him with a fallaway slam and then clotheslines Douglas to the outside.
The champion drags himself back up to the apron, Razor is there to meet him with a hot shot, Douglas pulls himself back up, surprises the challenger with a thumb to the eye, then goes to drive him head-first into the top turnbuckle. The Bad Guy blocks it and returns the favor, drops him to the floor with a big fist, he reaches over the ropes and hauls Dean back on the apron, then brings him in with a vertical suplex. Ramon puts the boots to the champion, shoots him hard into the turnbuckles, kicks Douglas to the floor under the bottom rope, then goes out in pursuit. He rocks the champion with a haymaker, grabs a bottle of water from the announce position, pours it over Dean’s head, then sends him back inside.
Razor rolls in and drives himself into the champion’s shoulder, Douglas comes back with right hands, The Bad Guy blocks one, splits him with an atomic drop, then sets for the Razor’s Edge. Dean counters it with a back body drop, the challenger flies over the top and crashes to the floor, Douglas goes out after him and batters Ramon with fists to the back of the head. He rams the challenger spine-first into the ring apron, throws him back inside, climbs to the top turnbuckle, but gets caught coming off by a chokeslam. They double down and both guys stagger back to a standing position, The Bad Guy connects with a succession of rights, drops the champion with a discus punch, props him on the top turnbuckle and readies for a super back suplex.
The champion fights it off and knocks him to the canvas, stands on top for a crossbody, Razor rolls through it into a lateral press and almost steals the match. Both guys back up quick and Douglas connects with a dropkick, crawls into a cover, Ramon gets his foot on the bottom rope at 2, Dean drags him back up and whips him hard into the turnbuckles. He tries to shoot the challenger back across, The Bad Guy reverses, Dean rebounds out of the corner for a clothesline, Razor ducks it and plants him with a back suplex. He drapes the arm over for a cover, the champion gets his foot under the bottom rope and the official counts to 3, the ref then informing our ring announcer that we have a new champion.
Winner and NEW WWF Intercontinental Champion: Razor Ramon (Back Suplex)
- EA’s Take: Considering Scott Hall was always known be to a pretty good worker, this one was a little rough and quite honestly, I found it to be boring. The Bad Guy basically squashed your new champion (by hook or by crook) and Douglas only got in offense during the last couple of minutes. Granted, the company was already sour on Dean and he was obviously never meant to win the title. All things considered, it was still history as Razor becomes the first four-time IC Champion and Douglas has the shortest-reign ever, but obviously the big story here was Shawn forfeiting the title. I think we’ve all heard the story now of how Michaels got beaten to a pulp by a group of Marines at a bar, which is why he was unable to compete. It would ultimately be the beginning of a concussion angle the company would run with Shawn.
Backstage: Shawn Michaels is speaking with fans on the phone and you can too if you call the WWF Superstar Line.
Backstage: Dok Hendrix shows off the newest Two Dudes With Attitudes t-shirt, which can be yours for the low price of twenty dollars. He catches WWF Champion Diesel before he heads through the curtain, simply stating that he’s feeling awfully funky.
Match #6 for the WWF Championship: The British Bulldog w/James E. Cornette vs. WWF Champion Diesel
Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart joins commentary for this match, The Hitman chasing Jerry Lawler off to take his spot. Collar & elbow lock-up to get us started, the champion powers Bulldog away, they tie-up again with the same result, the challenger calls for a test of strength, suckering Diesel in for a kick to the breadbasket. He slaps on a side headlock, Big Daddy Cool pushes him off to the ropes, misses with multiple shots, but finally connects with a forearm to stop The Bulldog in his tracks. He sends Davey Boy back to the ropes for a clothesline, the challenger ducks under it, looks for a crossbody, but gets caught and planted by a body slam.
Big Daddy Cool scoops Bulldog up for another body slam, Davey Boy rolls to the outside to regroup, reaches in and picks the legs of the champion, pulling him towards the ring post under the bottom rope. Diesel uses his leg strength to pull Bulldog face-first into the steel post, the challenger staggers back into the ring, tries to pick the leg again, but the champion hammers him with elbows. He whips Davey Boy to the corner and charges in with a clothesline, sends him back across for another, buries knees into the abdomen, then rocks the challenger with heavy back elbows. Cornette quickly hops on the apron to create a distraction, The Bulldog takes the opening to drive his shoulder into Diesel’s knee, unloads with headbutts and forearms, then shoots him to the ropes.
Big Daddy Cool reverses it and tries for a body slam, Bulldog slides out of it, pushes him to the ropes for a roll-up, the champion hangs on to avoid it, turns around and gets flipped over the top rope by a dropkick. Diesel winds up right in from of the announce position, Bret tries to help him from falling onto the table, but Diesel unceremoniously shoves The Hitman, Davey Boy rolls to the outside, chopblocks Big Daddy Cool from behind, then stomps away at the left knee. He tosses the champion into the squared circle, drives his knee down into the left leg, hooks on a heel hold, props Diesel’s leg on the ropes and drives himself down into the knee joint with all of his weight.
The Bulldog delivers a leg drop to the knee, Davey Boy locks on a modified heel hold, Big Daddy Cool reaches out for a right hand to break the hold, the challenger kicks him to the outside, then holds the ref’s attention. Cornette delivers an elbow drop to the champion’s knee on the floor, the official is busy with the challenger and doesn’t see it, Cornette then putting the boots to Big Daddy Cool. Davey Boy steps outside and drives the champion head-first into the steel steps, The Bulldog slides back in, Cornette gets in some more cheap shots, Bulldog coming back out to send Diesel into the ring. The challenger continues to target the left knee and grabs a single-leg crab, rams Diesel’s knee down into the canvas, then hooks on a Boston crab.
The champion powers his way out of it, Bulldog quickly goes back on the attack, stomps away at the leg, goes right back into a single-leg crab, then releases the hold to deliver a leg drop for a count of 2. Davey Boy grabs the left leg and slaps on another heel hold, Big Daddy Cool unloads with right and elbows to break free, The Bulldog smartly chopblocks him back down again, hits an elbow drop to the knee and regains the heel hold. The champion gains the ropes to force a break, Bulldog chokes him with the bottom of his boot, Diesel pulls himself to his feet in the corner, tries to fight back, but the challenger sweeps his leg out, locking the heel hold on yet again. He props the champion’s leg on the ropes and drops down with all of his weight again, Big Daddy Cool uses his other leg to push The Bulldog to the outside, uses the corner to pull himself to his feet, Davey Boy crawls back inside and Diesel lunges at him, but he’s off-target.
The challenger quickly pummels him with forearms, locks the heel hold back on, Big Daddy Cool fights his way out of it, staggers to his feet, Davey Boy setting him up for a suplex. The champion blocks it and hits a vertical suplex of his own, both guys struggle back to their feet, Bulldog misses a right hand, Diesel plants him with a back suplex, then drags himself back to a vertical base. The challenger fires first with clubbing blows to the back for a 2 count, wants to go back to work on the legs, looks back at The Hitman and locks on a Sharpshooter. Big Daddy Cool muscles his way out of it and finds his footing, The Bulldog clobbers him with forearms, goes back to the knee with kicks, lifts him up for a Running Powerslam, but can’t hold the weight and Diesel falls on top for a near fall.
Bulldog tries for the Running Powerslam again, this time the champion slips out of it, pushes him to the ropes for a big boot, then calls for the Jackknife. Cornette climbs onto the apron and Diesel flips him inside, grabs him by the tie, Davey Boy tries to ambush the champion from behind, Big Daddy Cool avoids it and Cornette gets dropped by a forearm instead. Diesel scores with right hands, drops the challenger throat-first across the 2nd rope, hits the ropes for a head of steam and jumps onto his back with a seated senton. Davey Boy spills to the outside, Diesel jumps out after him, The Bulldog shoves Big Daddy Cool face-first into the ring post, turns and sees Bret, then slaps his headphones off. The Hitman’s finally had enough, chases The Bulldog into the ring, batters him with fists and the official calls for the bell.
Winner: The British Bulldog (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: Diesel slides into the squared circle, grabs The Hitman and shoves him aside, they exchange words and tempers flare, punches being traded off. More referees come down to try and pull them apart unsuccessfully, the locker room emptying out to finally separate them.
- EA’s Take: I feel like this could have been much more than what it was. The psychology was fine, I just didn’t like that The Bulldog used the same exact hold numerous times throughout the match. If you’re going to use a rest hold to continually “work over” a body part, at least switch them up. Aside from that, this match was Davey Boy’s first opportunity at the WWF Title and the DQ finish involving Bret would allow him to claim a victory over the champion, which will come into play in the next couple of months. Plus, finishing the match that way also builds for Bret’s title shot at Survivor Series. Diesel has held the title for so long at this point, a change would be inevitable and this is the first time we start to see some glimpses of a heel turn.
EA’s Finisher: Not quite as good as the last In Your House in my opinion, but definitely still better than either of the first two. For what this show lacked when it came to any kind of classic matches, it was full of history-making moments like Goldust’s debut, Shawn forfeiting the IC Title, Razor becoming the first four-time champ and Dean Douglas with the shortest reign ever. You can see the potential in the roster as well, something that had been missing for a while outside of your main event stars. Was there anything horrible? Yokozuna vs. Mabel wasn’t exactly thrilling, but if you’re into sheer spectacle it could be for you. Beginning-to-end there was nothing exceptional, but this one still goes down at least as watchable, which is still a step in the right direction for the WWF in this period of time.
Top Three To Watch
1 – Razor Ramon & The 1-2-3 Kid vs. The Smoking Gunns
2 – Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Fatu
3 – Diesel vs. The British Bulldog
Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 1 (3/25/2012)
Branching out beyond the safety of the American coastlines, Chairshot Classics begins to delve into PROGRESS. Harry starts the journey at the logical, with in depth coverage and finer details on what made the matches happen.
What I Watched – A Chairshot Classics Presentation
PROGRESS Chapter 1: ‘In The Beginning’
By Harry Broadhurst
Man, been a while since I’ve done one of these. Greetings and salutations all. My name is Harry Broadhurst. A little bit about myself: I am the host of the ‘Raw Reaction’ here on the Chairshot Radio Network along with Tony Acero and Andrew Balaz (one of the big wigs here at thechairshot.com). I’ve been a part of the podcast network since it launched as the Raw Reaction just celebrated it’s fifth anniversary back in April.
Back in the days when this website was still WrestlingSmash, I used to be the guy who did what Steven Mitchell does. I would review Raw, SmackDown, Impact and Main Event under the title of “What I Watched”. I did some DVD reviews for another website a while ago as well but those eventually slowed down when schedules changed. I’ve been wanting to get back into reviews and I figure that now that I have a bit more free time, I want to spotlight more independent companies that don’t usually get highlighted.
I spoke to Greg about this and we both agreed that one of the hottest promotions in the world right now is the England based PROGRESS Wrestling. While we were talking, the idea that there isn’t a lot available on the history of the company came up and we intend to change that. Jim Smallman and his crew have created some of the most buzz we’ve ever seen for an independent wrestling company. They have even gotten themselves noticed to the point that the WWE’s NXT is going to be partnering with PROGRESS when it launches NXT:UK. The WWE UK Championship has been defended in PROGRESS and multiple members of the active WWE roster have appeared on the shows, both before and during their times in the WWE itself.
Well, even a promotion as big as PROGRESS has a beginning. ‘In The Beginning’, to be specific. We go back to the twenty fifth of March in 2012 for this one. And this show helps set the stage for the first PROGRESS Wrestling Heavyweight champion to be crowned. Into the way back machine we go and it’s now time for ‘In The Beginning’ or PROGRESS Chapter 1.
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: Due to the fact that Greg considers reviews to be opinion pieces, I am of the opinion that you should be able to form your own thoughts of the matches. Therefore, I will not be posting any of the finishes inside the review itself. But if you want to know, I will post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contest. The final show review will be after that, so if you want to read that without seeing results, I recommend scrolling to the bottom and moving up the page.
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. In addition, keeping with my run here with the Chairshot, I’m going to issue a ‘Final Reaction’ at the end of the reviews. Best match/moment, worst match/moment, Final Score and MVP (Most Valuable Performer).
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 1
‘In The Beginning’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: March 25th, 2012
Run Time: 1:55:45
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton and www.backbodydrop.com for some of the research that I did while working on this review.
*No opening promo from Smallman, which would become a fixture of the company. Instead, a quick graphic for the company takes us to a quick graphic for our opening contest.
*General Notes: The lighting for this venue is awful. At least a third of the ring is in relative darkness. Hopefully that gets fixed quickly going forward…the crowd is super hot for this show. The play-by-play announcer? Not so much. Not sure if he’s the same guy around to this day. If he is, he has improved tremendously. If it’s not, it’s easy to see why…commentary note: upon doing a bit of research, apparently it was Jim Smallman doing commentary in studio afterward under the name Jimmy Barnett. Makes sense that he would turn those reigns over, given his other duties with the company…setup is really weird with where they have the hard cam placed. You can clearly see monitors directly in front of the hard cam. One of them is clearly for music. The other looks like it’s set to Microsoft Excel…the ending graphics give all the information about social media presence. I can start including that stuff in the reviews if you guys want me too.
*Semifinal #1: Noam Dar vs. El Ligero
The Who: Yes, the Cruiserweight Classic’s (and now 205 Lives‘) Noam Dar as he is one of the guys who would move on to work for the WWE after getting some notoriety here in PROGRESS. El Ligero is a guy who fans of What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW from here on, though it is now known as Defiant Wrestling) are very familiar. I can’t say I’ve seen a whole lot of him personally, but I have heard good things
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the first of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: I may be wrong, but I think Smallman is the ring announcer, which I believe is a job he still does to this day…the inset promos are a nice touch. Not something you traditionally get from what basically amounts to an independent show…crowd makes it very clear very early who they are rooting for in this contest…have to say, a little sloppier then I expected to open. I’ll chalk that up to nerves though…and the first dive out of the ring happens at the minute and a half mark. Yep, indie wrestling…at least to me, Dar is clearly the more proficient of the two. It really doesn’t surprise me that he has found his way to a WWE contract…Dar with a really nice airplane spin that he combos into a Northern Lights. Very well done…Ligero with what looks like a version of the ‘S.O.S.’ but coming out of it, Dar catches him with a good looking burning clothesline…the roaming cam is not the same quality as the hard cam, but it’s a lot less distracting due to the monitors…Dar with a leg grapevine for an extended period before Ligero gets the ropes. Luckily, the crowd doesn’t seem to mind it as they are still very into it, especially for Ligero’s escape…one of the issues with PROGRESS can be the fan’s snarkiness. Pretty sure I just heard a slur for homosexual chanted by them here. Not exactly the impression you want to leave with potential first time viewers. Little surprised that hasn’t been edited out…and there’s the finish. Solid little match to open. Nothing super groundbreaking, but still worth the time that it runs for. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Semifinal #2: Nathan Cruz vs. Colossus Kennedy
The Who: I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about Nathan Cruz. I don’t believe I have seen him compete before and if I have, I clearly don’t remember it. I’ve heard of him though. I can’t say the same of his opponent as this is the first time I’ve even heard of Colossus Kennedy. The name is definitely fitting though as the guy looks to be every bit of six foot five or six and three hundred pounds.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the second of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: That is a big boy in Colossus for sure…both men get inset promos for this match. Nathan comes off far more charismatic then Kennedy does. Nathan knows the character he wants to portray, whereas Colossus is just your average generic big guy…six foot six and three hundred sixty pounds. Really big boy by Indy wrestling standards…early chants from the crowd compare Kennedy to both the ‘Funkasaurus’ (that was a thing on Raw at the time) and Earthquake. Let’s not throw around the good name of John Tenta too freely, shall we?…Kennedy is a little clunky, so I don’t imagine he’s been wrestling all that long at this point. He does move well for a guy his size. He does a tabletop suplex (fall away slam position into a vertical) that looks really sloppy, though…they play up a pretty simple ‘big guy, smaller guy’ dynamic here. The crowd is into hating on Cruz, so it works. The ‘shit Zack Ryder’ chant does make me chuckle…the announcer attempts to put the crowd over as one of the most comedic he’s ever been around. He just says it so blandly that it loses meaning. To be fair (and I know I’ve ripped the guy twice already), he’s commentating by himself. Few can pull that off serviceably. Even fewer (Joey Styles and Lenny Leonard spring to mind) can do so and be entertaining…Kennedy impresses me with the selling of the leg, as he reverses Cruz into the corner. He then tries an avalanche but the leg gives out on him as he attempts to get across the ring…the commentator spent the entire match putting over Kennedy’s Lariat, even mentioning that his favorite wrestler to watch was Stan Hansen. So, it’s a little bit of a surprise that it’s not the finish when he hits it, as Cruz cleanly kicks out…and there’s the finish. I think the right guy wins here, as there is clearly a drop in talent between the two. The match itself is serviceable, but nothing you would remember by the end of the show most likely. They tell a good story but it never really gets out of first gear. (AVERAGE)
*Semifinal #3: ‘Loco’ Mike Mason (with Becky James) vs. Colt Cabana
The Who: Mike Mason and Becky James, I have never heard of. To give a visual comparison for fellow independent wrestling fans, the closest I could give you would probably be “Mr. Showtime” Scot Summers or Davey Richards. Colt Cabana, I don’t think I need to expand upon. Arguably the biggest competitor currently in independent wrestling at the time, Still to this day, Cabana is a huge draw on the Indy circuit, even if his appearances are a lot less frequent then they used to be.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the third of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: Cabana is one of those guys promoters bring in to give a local a marquee match against a name talent. That or he’s there to make people laugh. I’ll assume one of those is going to be the M.O. here…pre-match, Colt throws what I believe are tennis balls at Mason and Becky. Make your own jokes here…man, there is a noticeable size disparity between the two. Colt is not a huge guy by any stretch (he’s muscular but not tall), but he towers over Mason…it’s the not family friendly Colt this evening as he stands on the bottom turnbuckle, pushes out his groin and states “I do have a foreign object” or something to that effect…the crowd gets on the referee for not checking Cabana, but really, it’s the right call…Cabana stuffs his singlet with a tennis ball and the announcer quickly takes the ‘pleased to see us’ route…this is all before the opening bell, mind you…opening bell finally does ring and it’s tennis ball shenanigans…a series of tennis ball tosses with the crowd lead to a very snarky ‘this is wrestling’ chant as the announcer points out that Mason is a replacement for RJ Singh…it eventually breaks into a bit of a mat wrestling contest, where Cabana dominates…more shenanigans such as a dancing sequence and then an airplane spin that leads to Colt exclaiming “I’m getting so fucking dizzy”…James gets involved and Cabana tumbles through the ropes to finally put Mason in control of the contest…there’s a dog theme to Mason’s gimmick, but if I’m being honest, I’m not seeing a lot of steak to go with the sizzle thus far…a shoulder into the ring post turns the tide back into Cabana’s favor…it’s hard to describe Colt matches, because while there is a lot of stuff going on, most of it isn’t actual wrestling…Cabana gets the Billy Goat’s Curse (reverse Boston Crab) on, but Becky James gets onto the apron and distracts both Cabana and the referee…and that leads directly into the finish. As I said during the course of the match, Cabana matches make for entertaining experiences, but not a ton on the actual wrestling scale. This was basically Colt playing the hits of the kind of matches he would normally have. Mason could have really been anyone else in the locker room, outside of the shenanigans with the tennis ball (BELOW AVERAGE)
*Semifinal #4: Zach Sabre Jr. vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The Who: Where to begin here? Not that either of these guys need a formal introduction from me, but here goes: Sabre Jr. people will know from the ‘Cruiserweight Classic’, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and a host of other places. I think you can make the argument that Sabre is the best technical wrestler in the world. ‘Party Marty’ as he’s known here has become an international superstar in his own right as the ‘Villain’ Marty Scurll in many of the same places that Sabre Jr. frequents, with the exception of the ‘Cruiserweight Classic’, but that was due to Marty being under a NJPW contract at the time of that taping. Back here at this show in March of 2012, these guys were part of a tag team known as the ‘Leaders of the New School’. This is by far my most anticipated of the first round matches.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the fourth and final participant in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: Sabre Jr. points out that he ‘chuffing loves arm-bars’ in his pre-match promo. That may be the understatement of the DVD thus far…my intro to Marty Scurll was as ‘Party Marty’ in wXw (Germany), but man is it weird watching a Scurll match in 2018 and not seeing the ‘Villain’…even as early as we are here, you can see the ‘Villain’ in there. Especially with how he works the crowd. One of the most charismatic men in wrestling…noticeable differences for these two with the power game of Scurll and the mat game of Sabre. It’s an easy story to tell…and we have the first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant that would become a staple of the company going forward…despite not being as good as Sabre on the mat, Scurll more then holds his own. It’s easy to forget with the frat boy character he had at the time that Marty could really go…dead lift suplex attempt by Scurll countered into a rolling cross-arm breaker by Sabre. So pretty…Sabre really put the torque on an abdominal stretch variation. Despite being partners, they are definitely not holding back against each other…super high and tight on the Liger Bomb and rolled right into another arm bar variation. Scurll quick to the ropes, but man, did it look vicious…everything is so fluid between these two…and right as I type that, a pretty decent piece of miscommunication going into the double down, but they recover well enough from it…for all the praise he gets for being so technically gifted, Sabre’s kicks either look really good and don’t hurt or are legit stiff as all hell…and there’s the finish. A little surprised by the decision but given where they’d both end up in the company, not a complete surprise. That said, quite far and away the best thing on the card thus far. These two do not hold back, as they lay in the strikes and kicks. Not only that, but the ground game was on point as well. Multiple ‘This is PROGRESS’ chants are well earned here. Early leader in the clubhouse for best match in PROGRESS history. (VERY GOOD, CLOSE TO EXCELLENT)
*BWC (British Wrestling Council) Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Zack ‘Diamond’ Gibson vs. ‘Dazzling’ Darrell Allen vs. Xander Cooper ©
The Who: I have not a clue who two of the three people in this match are. The names Darrell Allen and Xander Cooper mean nothing to me, as this is the first I’ve heard of both. Zack Gibson I am familiar, though. Zack was the winner of the UKCT 2, giving him a chance to take on Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship on Night 2 of the WWE UKCT2 special. He is no where near ‘Liverpool’s Number One’ here though. Even though he’s a heel (being announced from Liverpool drew boos from the fans, who wouldn’t know good ‘footy’ if it bite them in the ass), he has long hair here, looking nothing like what we would see of him in the WWE.
The Why: Triple threat, one fall to a finish (I think) for the BWC Scarlo Scholarship. Apparently, upon doing a bit of research, this belt was put together as a well to promote talent from the most reputable schools on the British scene.
The Match: Inset promos from all three before the match. As a Liverpool FC fan, I’m immediately biased towards Gibson. Much like I was during the aforementioned UKCT2…commentator mentions that there will be a BWC match on every PROGRESS show going forward. We’ll see how long that lasts…not sure what the hell that was supposed to be, but they managed to save it…‘Man for All Seasons’ is a pretty nice little nickname. Give Cooper credit for that one…seems weird to see a high flyer as a heel, but that’s what Cooper is. Allen is a high flyer as well, but he’s a baby face…sunset bomb out of the corner with a avalanche exploder gets the sixth ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant and first of the match…and one of the fans informs Cooper that he sucks a large dick. Keep it classy, lads…this match is falling into that traditional three way troupe of two guys in, one man out. It takes away from the special feeling of a triple threat when there is rarely any interaction between all three…fans are definitely not with Cooper. I believe they are calling him the ‘drizzling shits’…Cooper is relatively fluid in the ring and works the crowd well. Curious if he’s still involved with wrestling…sunset flip/German combo is only the second or third spot since the start of the match to involve all three…Gibson looks surprisingly tall here to me. Wonder if I just didn’t realize it or if the other two are just that small…maybe just me, but Gibson kind of looks like CM Punk during his ROH days here…alright, I’ve never seen that spot before. Very innovative…some very cool looking rollups in the ‘fish out of water’ sequence…Cooper looks like he was going for a hammerlock DDT, but Gibson gets out and eventually into a flying lungblower…fans are turning around on Gibson here. They started booing the crap out of him, but now appear to be behind him. Ring work won them over…this is the match of the enzugiri. At least six of them…Allen botches a 450 splash, landing with his knees right across the chest of Gibson. Don’t think that was supposed to happen…and there’s the finish. For what is essentially a ‘student’s match’, this actually turned out to be pretty good. Nothing great from any of the three, but there are several innovative spots (I watch a ton of wrestling and even I saw some stuff for the first time here) and there is nothing blown to the point that it takes you out of the match. The finish is cheap, but given where the belt ends up, it makes sense that they’d go the way they did here. Color me impressed by all three lads here. (GOOD)
*Main Event: PROGRESS Wrestling Championship Staff (Not Title): Fatal Four Way Elimination: El Ligero vs. Nathan Cruz vs. ‘Loco’ Mike Mason vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The Who: The four men who were victorious in the qualifying matches earlier in the show. It is at this point that I realize spoilers are inevitable for this contest. My bad, ya’ll. This one’s on me.
The Why: To crown the first ever PROGRESS champion. Seems pretty obvious. It’s an Staff instead of a title. Pretty sure that would end up sticking around for a while if memory serves.
The Match: Smallman getting shitty about the fans calling the PROGRESS Staff a ‘Nazi Staff’ is by far and away the most entertaining that he ever is at commentary. It’s easily the most personality he’s shown, even with the unnecessary shot at Santino Marella thrown in…rolling flip dive over the ring post and to the floor by El Ligero. Impressive…and through the crowd they all go, as fans are already complaining about lack of visibility. It’s like a 1998 WWF pay-per-view main event…and some crowd interaction leads to a double chop on Cruz by Ligero and Scurll…upon thinking about it, definitely would compare Mason more towards Richards then Summers. Not sure if that’s a compliment, though…we’re focused on Ligero and Cruz, but you can clear as day hear Scurll shill his t-shirts and photos (12 and 3 pounds respectively). Ever the worker that Marty is…El Ligero gets the ‘ole’ chants in support. Makes me wonder if he’s any relation to that ‘Generico’ fellow who is now helping orphans down in Mexico…Ligero takes a backdrop out of a piledriver attempt on the stage. The building is a bar with a stage area, similar to the building CHIKARA has run in NYC before…hey, we’ve actually turned into something resembling a real wrestling match now. It only took us ten minutes to get there…why isn’t Mason disqualified for Becky pulling out the referee? If this is elimination, that seems like it would be grounds…shortly thereafter, a distracted Ligero is the first one gone…and then he immediately leads into the elimination of Mason…crowd is solidly behind Scurll here, but that’s no real surprise…Cruz keeps the edge for a bit, but Scurll gets an inverted fireman’s carry into a back cracker to put both men down…you’d think Cruz would have better conditioning here, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Scurll looks ready to go still, despite his match earlier being about twice as long as Cruz’s…‘Nazi Staff’ chants again from the crowd as Smallman moans about it on commentary. Still kind of funny, so, curious if it becomes a running theme…Smallman calling out John Cena for a move annoys me though. You are a little fish, Jim. Cena’s a shark…never understood the count the next number thing that crowds do on a double down…the ref bump looked terribly contrived. Just awful…visual fall for Scurll leads to him trying to wake up the referee. A low blow followed by a diamond cutter from Cruz gets two…and there’s the finish one last time on the evening. I think the who makes sense. The how even makes sense as well, as they set up Chapter Two. What I didn’t care for was spending the first ten minutes of this match to be spent brawling all around the small building (attendance was approximately 250) with bad camera angles and a ton of missed moments. Once we got into the ring however, the match itself was well worked and very easily sets up the way for things going forward into the company. Call the main event a success, but with some reservations. (VERY GOOD, OPENING KEEPS FROM EXCELLENT)
Semifinal #1: El Ligero pins Noam Dar with a in-ring rope springboard tornado DDT @ 12:01 (Above Average)
Semifinal #2: Nathan Cruz pins Colossus Kennedy with a sliding dropkick to the side of the head @ 10:40 (Average)
Semifinal #3: ‘Loco’ Mike Mason pins Colt Cabana with a chain shot to the head @ 10:06 (Below Average)
Semifinal #4: ‘Party’ Marty Scurll pins Zach Sabre Jr. with a deep cradle sunset flip @ 21:44 (Very Good+)
BWC Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Xander Cooper © defeats Darrell Allen and Zack Gibson when he pins Gibson after stealing the pin from Allen @ 13:43 (Good)
Main Event: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff: Nathan Cruz wins 4 way elimination match @ 26:04, last pinning ‘Party’ Marty Scurll with a sliding dropkick to side of head (El Ligero eliminated @ 15:16 via sliding dropkick from Cruz. Mike Mason eliminated @ 15:53 via roll-up by Marty Scurll) (Very Good)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
The biggest issue I feel is the venue itself. It does not translate well to video. Thankfully, it would get better I hear. But as I mentioned at the top of the review, when half the ring is in darkness, that’s a problem.
Another issue that I had is lack of knowledge on competitors. Yes, there were people I knew. Colt Cabana, Zach Sabre Jr., Marty Scurll, Noam Dar and Zack Gibson being the main ones. But of a 11 man roster, that’s less then half that I’ve previously heard of. Granted, the idea was to have PROGRESS focus on the future of British and not be a super Indy. I get that, but a few more big names for the debut at least (like they way they used Cabana) wouldn’t have hurt.
Jim Smallman has done a wonderful job for himself with where PROGRESS has gotten to. The one thing Jim Smallman should not be allowed to do ever again is commentary by himself. He has a few moments here and there, but by and large, the commentary is a major turn off. Unnecessary shots at big name talent, general indifference to what’s going on in the ring and worst of all, not being able to even hear anything Smallman is saying hurts the show from a audio prospective.
Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. does not disappoint. I raved and raved about it during the review, so I won’t do so again here. The main event is a very strong match once we get past the brawling throughout the arena. Fun for the fans in the crowd? Sure but there were those who were complaining about the lack of visibility. Fun for the guy at home with a Roku remote in his hand? Not so much. The triple threat match for the ‘students’ is actually pretty good as well and a fun story was told by it.
They knew they had to crown a champion and they did so in the very first show. A lot of companies make the mistake of postponing the crowning of a champion and it leads to drops in attendance because you don’t know who the marquee attraction of the promotion is going to be. Here, going into Chapter Two, you have a champion people will pay to see get beaten and a probable challenger that the fans will be willing to pay to see win the title. It’s brilliant marketing.
Overall, a pretty fun little debut for the company that would end up taking British wrestling by storm. PROGRESS would obviously have things that would need to be worked on, as I addressed above. But where does that leave us? Well, it leaves me looking forward to going back to check out Chapter Two. It hopefully leaves you willing to come back and check out the show in question here to see if you agree or disagree with me. It leaves PROGRESS at the start of it’s path to being one of the, if not thee, driving force in the resurrection of the British Indy wrestling scene. Finally, it also leaves me needing something to eat. It’s been a long review.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Without a doubt, it’s a match and it’ll be the Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. match. Honorably mention to ‘Nazi Staff’ chant which drew a legit chuckle.
Worst match/moment: Moment here and it’s the setup. The lighting and the design of the arena was just awful. Made especially difficult with the opening to the main event.
MVP: I’m going to ‘Party’ Marty Scurll here. Despite the fact that he doesn’t walk out with the title, he stands out as the clear #1 guy for the company going forward. In addition, he was involved in both of the best matches on the show.
FINAL SCORE: 6.5/10
Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Catch you all for Chapter Two.
Chairshot Classics: NWA-TNA Episode 23
NWA-TNA Episode 23: November 27, 2002
Goldy is introduced and sings ‘God Bless America’ and sounds lovely as usual.
Opening: We open with Borash in the ring and he says that since it’s the day before Thanksgiving and because everyone is feeling grateful, despite everything the country has been through and is about to go through (the War in Afghanistan was about to start, I think), everyone at TNA is thankful to the fans for supporting them.
Briscoe Brothers vs Divine Storm (with Trinity): The Briscoes are back! They’re going up against generic new comers, Divine Storm.
This match was much better than Divine Storm’s previous outing last week. They and the Briscoes worked together very well and put on a really good match. Trinity got involved, hitting a hurricanrana on one of the Briscoes. There was also a really cool spot where one member of the Briscoes and one member of Divine Storm hit stereo diving sentons on each other’s opponent.
Ultimately, Divine Storm would win this round with a cradle suplex.
At ringside, Tenay addresses the revelation that Vince Russo was Mr. Wrestling III. The usually calm, neutral Tenay minces no words about how he feels. He does NOT like Vince Russo, he does NOT want to be associated with him, and vows to not let Russo destroy TNA the way he did WCW. West is a little stunned by Tenay’s anger, claiming that he didn’t realize that Tenay disliked Russo that much.
After the commercial break, Tenay is in the ring and he’s wanting to interview Jeff Jarrett. He gets Vince Russo instead. Russo seems to see no reason to play nice. He throws Tenay out of the ring and tells him to go sulk in the commentary area. Apparently Tenay had vowed to quit if Russo was allowed into TNA and Russo called his bluff, telling him he can go home and pout like Sean Waltman and they’ll replace him with a chimpanzee that will have more personality.
Addressing the audience, and seemingly unaware of just how many people hold him responsible for the destruction of WCW, Russo introduced himself as the Anti-Christ of wrestling and said that he came back because the business was ‘in the shitter’, without seeming to accept that he’s very much to blame for the state of the business.
Russo then tries to claim credit for Jarrett’s rise in the late 90s, claiming to have befriended him in WWE, despite the Double J gimmick, though it should be pointed out that Russo’s ‘friendship’ didn’t help Jarrett get out of the mid-cards in WWE. Russo then clams that the Jarrett’s begged him to come in and help TNA, saying that TNA means ‘Tits and Ass’ not ‘Total Non-Stop Acton’.
Proving that he has no clue what he’s doing, Russo disrespects the NWA greats who have been putting up with his garbage, and claims he’s saving TNA, instead of destroying it.
But Russo’s wants us all to know that he’s not a total psychopath. He offers Jarrett, who owns the company and put up with Russo’s BS even when it nearly closed the company down, be in on what he’s got planned for TNA, which will include some drastic changes. He will expect an answer by the end of the show.
After Russo leaves, an incensed Tenay calls Russo a cancer, stating that Russo is everything that is wrong with professional wrestling and says, point blank, that Russo killed WCW.
Throughout the evening’s show, there were various TNA on-screen talent plugging a silent auction to benefit a school for autistic children and for breast cancer awareness. The segments were pretty lame, so I’m not going to mention them past this point.
America’s Most Wanted vs The Hot Shots: Hot Shots don’t get a ton of love from the crowd,but there are some cheers. AMW are extremely over, but they aren’t in good moods after losing their rematch to New Church last week. The match was pretty typical for these teams. AMW was ground and pound, while the Hot Shots were a lot of flash and cockiness, butthe match was really good.
During the match, James Mitchell and Bella Donna come out, which distracts Storm and Harris, just when they had the match won. AMW pursued the Not-So-Good Minister and his lady, getting themselves counted out in the process. Mitchell, proving that there is no honor among thieves, ran for his life and left Bella Donna to the wolves.
Storm and Harris, proving that they are equal opportunity ass-kickers, were ready to hit the Death Sentence on Bella Donna, when Mitchell returned to half-heartedly try to save her. As the AMW were distracted, the New Church attacked from behind. Mitchell grabbed Bella and they got away, but Bella needs to rethink her life choices.
Backstage, Goldylocks is looking to talk to Jeff Jarrett about his upcoming match against Ron Killings and, presumably, Russo’s offer, but Dory Funk Jr is barring the door.
Funk, lets Goldy know that while Jarrett IS in the locker room, he doesn’t want to talk to anyone since he’s focusing on the match. When Goldy asks if he’s Jarrett’s manager, Funk simply says that he’s got a vested interest in the match.
NWA Tag Team Championship Match: BG James and Curt Hennig vs New Church (with James Mitchell and Bella Donna): I’m not sure why the Harris Twins aren’t in this match since they’re supposed to be the #1 Contenders for the tag titles, but we’re getting James and Hennig. It was supposed to be James/Waltman, but Tenay informs us that Waltman has refused to show up because he doesn’t to be associated with Russo.
Michell gets on the mic and says that he doesn’t care about the difference between professional wrestling and sports entertainment, he’s just interested in being evil.
This match was really basic, which is probably the best option for everyone involved. Hennig looks like he’s laid off the booze and hit the gym a little more, but there’s no hiding the fact that his ring skills are lacking, though he shows some of his former brilliance with an interesting modified figure-four.
AMW run in, causing James and Hennig to be DQ’d just when they thought they had the match won. All hell breaks loose with AMW not only brawling with the New Church, but with the angered James and Hennig who feel that they were robbed of their opportunity. AMW would chase New Church into the back, but it’s clear that AMW have made enemies of James and Hennig.
Alyx Winters vs EZ Money: For reasons that I can’t explain, EZ Money has gotten over with the higher ups at TNA and is back for another match. His opponent is Alyx Winters,who reminds me a little of the Wunderkind from WCW.
The match has a pretty basic start, but there’s an interesting reverse Boston Crab/swing hold by Money. There’s a spot where Winters was supposed to float over Money, but Money didn’t run in and when Winters landed, it was balls first on Money’s knee. After that stupid spot,that Money was very proud of, the match went rapidly downhill. Money picked up the win with a cradle suplex and left poor Winters in the ring.
Backstage, we find Goldylocks with Bruce, who has been in middle of the drama that is the relationship of Brian Lawler and April. After seeming to be caught in the shower with April and probably NOT conserving water, unless April gets turned on by saving the Earth’s oceans, Bruce found himself fending off not only an enraged Lawler, but his former partner, Lenny Lane, who tried to claim that Bruce was ineligible to be Miss TNA because he was actually straight. If you find that confusing, join the club.
This week, Bruce has ditched the pastels and his fetching Miss TNA number for a pretty basic…guy look, long-sleeved shirt, baseball cap.When Goldy introduces him as Bruce, he corrects her and says that his name is now Allen Funk. A confused Goldy asks him about the April situation and Funk claims that he felt sorry for April because of how Lawler treated her and tried to comfort her. What that has to do with showering together, I have no idea.
Furthermore, Bruce states that he is gay, but that his heart got involved and that April is a very sexual person. Goldy makes a really bad joke, but asks what Funk plans to do with the Miss TNA gear, and Funk says he’ll give it to April.
Crimson Dragon vs Sonny Siaki: Last week, Crimson Dragon made a mediocre debut in a match involving AJ Styles. This week, Dragon and Siaki meet one on one. Dragon’s changed his look and looks like a very stylish ninja, while Siaki looks bored,though he gets a bit of a pop from the crowd.
The match was okay, Siaki does his best, but Dragon sucks. He botches several spots before Siaki can put him away with a super overhead-toss and a Money clip.
Once Crimson Dragon is vanquished, a disgusted Siaki gets on the mic and states that he’s tired of the lackluster opponents he’s been getting. If TNA won’t give him better competition than this, he doesn’t want to say. Sonny Siaki, in his own mind, should only be wrestling top guys and be in title matches.
Backstage, Goldylocks is with April, apparently, Goldy was wanting to interview Lawler, but found April instead. April says that Lawler has been in the production truck watching the footage of the shower scene all day. April doesn’t seem to get what the problem is, Bruce is gay and she’s faithful to Brian, which shows that either she’s an idiot or he is.
Goldy points out that no one believes her, especially after last week, to which April coyly implies that Goldy’s jealous. Angry and fed up…FINALLY, Goldy tells the cameraman to cut off the interview because she’s ‘done with this bullshit’.
To add more drama to this mess, Lawler goes to ringside, not dressed to wrestle and looking very sad. According to him, he gave everything he had to a woman and that April cheated on him and made him look like an idiot, though it must be said that Lawler was already doing a good job of making himself look like an idiot before April got there. In play at sympathy, Lawler then claims that April and Goldylocks had an affair, which didn’t win him much sympathy. Fed up, Lawler says he’s quitting the wrestling business and does his really bad crying act before walking away.
Tenay and West are dumbstruck, with even West saying that that was weird.
Thing get weirder back stage when Goldylocks tries to talk to Lawler, but finds him being comforted by Priscilla, Jorge Estrada’s manager. Lawler is STILL doing the fake crying thing, telling Priscilla that she’s the only one that cares. They walk away together, but we see Lawler grabbing Priscilla’s butt, so I don’t think we have to worry about him bouncing back from April.
X-Division Championship Match: Jerry Lynn vs AJ Styles (with Mortimer Plumtree): The rivalry between Styles and Lynn is well-known, so I won’t go into it here. Styles won the right to face Lynn last week after defeating Jorge Estrada and Crimson Dragon.
The match was okay. Even the best rivals have a clunker and this was that match for Styles and Lynn. I’m not sure what was going on,but they just could seem to mesh as seamlessly as they usually do.
Added to the trouble was Plumtree, who was trying to use some heel manager tactics and not doing a great job at it. Unfortunately, Plumtree’s antics would end up costing Styles the match when the brass knucks Plumtree tossed him ended up with Lynn, who knocked Styles into next week for the pin.
In a pre-show interview, Tenay interviewed Dory Funk Jr. Funk, who has none of his brother’s personality, talked about how much being NWA champion meant to him, and talked about what he learned from all the greats he worked with, and plugged the Funking Conservatory wrestling school. For whatever reason, the person typing up the names of the former NWA greats Funk mentions spells Jack Brisco’s name as ‘Briscoe’.
Funk stated that he believed that the Jarrett/Killings feud was the future of the NWA and would be seen as a great rivalry in twenty years. As for Russo, Funk makes no bones about the fact that he doesn’t like Russo and feels that Russo’s sports entertainment had no place in professional wrestling.
NWA Championship Match: Jeff Jarrett vs Ron Killings: It’s time for the rematch. Both men get great pops, though Jarrett’s is a little mixed. This was a really great match, much better than last week’s. Jarrett and Killings took each other all over the arena, actually resulting in a double countout, but Bob Armstrong demanded that the match be restarted so that there could be a definitive winner.
There was a really lame ‘take out ref’ spot that was only saved by Armstrong’s selling, While Armstrong was ‘out’, Russo showed up, seeming to help Jarrett, handing Jarrett his guitar to finish Killings off. Instead, Jarrett breaks the guitar over the turnbuckle to the crowd’s delight, choosing to put Killings away with three Strokes to retain the title.
Angered, Russo go on the mic as Jarrett was leaving,demanding to know Jarrett’s answer, but the show ends before we hear what Jarrett has to say.
Overall Thoughts: So, how was Week 23 of NWA-TNA? Not great. There were a lot of blah matches andstupid/awful segments and only a couple of really good matches to cover for it.
The use of Russo was interesting, he seemed to truly NOT get that most people hold him responsible for what happened to WCW, a fact that bears out if you ever listen to him and seemed to honestly think that the wrestling business needed him. Spoilers: It doesn’t. In my opinion, having watched this show from the first episode to now, Russo’s involvement has been what’s kept TNA from really flourishing in the early stages, which nearly put the company out of business.
I’m glad the Lawler/April/Bruce/Goldy thing seems to be finally over because it was godawful to watch. Siaki getting fed up with having to deal with mediocre job guys was interesting, but they’re still trying to make him a Rock clone and it’s not getting over with fans.
Overall, this was an okay show. I’m hopeful next week will be better.