We’re getting closer to WWE’s annual November tradition the Survivor Series, so today we’re taking a look back at another previous event! With Yokozuna still on top of the WWF mountain following SummerSlam, Lex Luger was still on his chase. Along with his team of All Americans, the stage was set for a showdown against the WWF Champion’s Foreign Fanatics. Plus, this event has by far the very BEST of Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan from beginning to end!
Open: A video package is played with Lex Luger sitting with his family to talk about Thanksgiving, wishing everybody a happy holidays.
In The Arena: The crowd rises for the singing of our National Anthem.
Match #1 – Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: Irwin R. Schyster, Diesel, ‘The Model’ Rick Martel & Adam Bomb w/Harvey Wippleman vs. The 1-2-3 Kid, Marty Jannetty, WWF Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon & ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage
Razor introduces Savage as his new partner to replace Mr. Perfect. Martel & Ramon to kick things off, The Model with some words for The Bad Guy, Razor pushes him and receives a slap to the face in return. Collar & elbow tie-up, Martel gains a wristlock, the champion counters to one of his own, switches to a hammerlock and they trade reversals before The Model uses a drop toe hold. He goes to a side headlock, The Bad Guy counters again to a hammerlock, Martel working his way up and breaking out with a back elbow, celebrates a little early and gets slapped in the face for it.
The Model strikes with kicks and fists, irish whip to the corner is reversed, Martel hops up and over the champion charging in, runs back across to the 2nd rope for a crossbody, Razor switching the leverage and gets a count of 2. He shoots The Model to the ropes, misses a wild right hand, Martel attempts another crossbody, Ramon catching him in the air for a fallaway slam and another 2 count. The Model goes to the breadbasket with left hands, sends The Bad Guy to the ropes for a kick to the midsection, Razor catches the foot, spins him around and splits him with an atomic drop. Macho sneaks in a jab, the champion follows with an inverted atomic drop, hits the ropes and flattens The Model with multiple clotheslines.
Martel rolls to his corner and tags out, Adam Bomb stepping in and goes face-to-face with The Bad Guy, locking up and Bomb powers Razor back into the corner. They tie-up again and this time Adam powers Ramon to the canvas, the champion going back in for another tie-up and gets caught in a side headlock. Razor pushes him away to the ropes, Bomb explodes off with a shoulder knockdown, the champion looking befuddled and obliging Adam in a test of strength. Bomb grinds The Bad Guy to his knees, Ramon uses the crowd to work back to his feet, uses kicks to the breadbasket and then a northern lights suplex for a cover. Martel hits the ring to break the count at 2 with an elbow drop, Razor sees it coming and avoids it, The Model hitting his partner instead.
Wippleman gets into the ring and shoves Martel, The Model returning fire and punches Harvey to his backside, Adam making him pay with right hands. Diesel comes into the ring to break it up, IRS has to get in between everybody and settle them down. Order is restored, The Kind tagging in, goes to a side headlock on Bomb, gets pushed away to the ropes and floored by a big shoulder knockdown. Adam shoots him back in for a back body drop, 1-2-3 Kid counters with a sunset flip, Adam simply grabbing him by the throat, elevating him into the air and dropping him face-first on the mat. Diesel gets a tag and hammers The Kid, tosses him clear across the ring, then plants him with a gutwrench suplex.
He shoots Kid to the ropes and clocks him with a big boot, Diesel sending him back in for a side slam, but it’s countered into a headscissors takedown. Savage quickly gets a tag and runs to the top turbuckle for a double axe handle, clobbers Bomb off the apron with a clothesline, catches Schyster coming in with a back elbow, Martel following to be hit with a body slam. Macho Man splits IRS with an atomic drop, he collides into The Model, both men spilling to the outside, Adam sliding in from behind and ambushing Savage. He hammers Macho in the corner with right hands, irish whip across is reversed, Bomb collides with Diesel who has just gotten back to his feet, Savage clearing Adam to the outside with a high knee to the back.
He slams Diesel, goes back upstairs, scores with the Elbow Drop and gets the elimination. Diesel has been eliminated. The Model attacks Macho from behind and chokes him in the corner, irish whip across is reversed, Savage hitting a back body drop off the rebound. He drives Martel head-first into the top turnbuckle, falls backwards to a tag after taking a big right, IRS entering the match. Schyster strikes first off the collar & elbow tie-up, pummels Savage in the corner, shoots him to the ropes for a clothesline, Macho ducking it and hits a crossbody for a 2 count. He flattens IRS with multiple clotheslines, tag to Razor, The Bad Guy working over the shoulder and goes to an armbar. Schyster finds a standing position, Ramon switches to a side headlock, gets pushed away to the ropes, IRS drops down and The Model delivers a cheap shot from the apron.
He tags in and comes off the 2nd rope with a double axe handle, cracks the champion with a backbreaker, then hammers away at the lower back with a knee drop. Bomb re-enters the match, shoots The Bad Guy to the ropes for a back elbow, tags back out and Martel again comes off the 2nd rope with a double axe. Another quick tag, IRS snapmares Razor over, drops an elbow, follows with a leg drop and gains a count of 2. He utilizes a rear chinlock to wear the champion down, Savage tries to come in and help, gets cut-off by the referee and it allows The Model to switch out without a tag. Martel releases it and sends The Bad Guy to the ropes for a back body drop, Razor counters with a big knee lift, The Model tagging IRS and preventing Ramon from making a tag.
The champion battles back, irish whip to the corner is reversed, Schyster charges in and meets a boot to the chin, Macho getting the tag. Savage slingshots into the ring and immediately gets caught with a knee lift, IRS whips him to the ropes for a back body drop, Macho Man avoiding it with a kick, then drives him head-first into the top turnbuckle after a high knee to the back. He drops Schyster throat-first on the top rope, body slams him in the middle of the ring, climbs the corner and Crush makes his way to the aisle. Savage notices him, drops to the floor, his teammates prevent him from going after Crush and he heads into the ring, still focused on the big Hawaiian.
He climbs to the 2nd rope and taunts Crush to come fight, IRS grabs Macho from behind, schoolboy and he gets a 3 count. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage has been eliminated. Savage sprints to the back, Jannetty taking the ring now, locks up with Schyster and goes to a side headlock. IRS sends him away to the ropes, attempts a hip toss, Marty blocks and hits one of his own, follows with a dropkick and covers for 2. Schyster quickly tags out, The Model drives Jannetty back into the corner and hits a flurry of left hands, buries knees into the abdomen, tag to Adam Bomb and he plants Marty with a back suplex. He chokes him on the top rope, delivers kicks to the ribs in the corner, Martel re-enters and applies an abdominal stretch, using Bomb for extra leverage.
They get caught and the hold is broken, The Model shoots Jannetty to the corner, runs in to deliver a spear, misses and drives his shoulder into the ring post. The Bad Guy tags in as IRS enters, Schyster gets met with with heavy punches, the champion whips him hard back-and-forth into the turnbuckles, grabs him by the neck and plants him with a chokeslam. Ramon says it’s over and sets for the Razor’s Edge, drives IRS into the mat and his night is finished. Irwin R. Schyster has been eliminated. Martel ambushes Razor from behind, pummels him in the corner, the champion turns the tables on his, Adam hits the ring and it causes everyone to join the fray.
The Model shoots The Bad Guy to the ropes for a back body drop, the champion puts on the brakes, picks him up for the Razor’s Edge, IRS taking advantage of the referee being occupied and clocks The Bad Guy with his briefcase. The champion spills to the outside, the official puts on the count and he can’t make it back in. Razor Ramon has been eliminated. The Kid steps in, Wippleman holding a conference with his squad, collar & elbow tie-up with Martel, The Model going to the ribs with a knee for the early advantage. Irish whip to the ropes is reversed, 1-2-3 Kid drops leapfrogs over, drops down, measures The Model for a punch, but Martel cartwheels around him to avoid it.
They tie-up again, Kid with a side headlock, gets shoved to the ropes, The Model leapfrogs over this time, gets caught with a Japanese arm drag and The Kid grabs a wristlock. Martel easily escapes after a forearm shot and tags out, Bomb coming in and swinging wildly with a right hand, Kid ducks it, picks the legs and hits the ropes. Adam tosses him into the air, The Kid countering with a dropkick that sends him to the outside, Kid hitting the ropes again and takes flight with a suicide dive. Bomb catches him in the air and slams him on the floor, throws The Kid back into the ring, climbs to the apron and slingshots in with a clothesline. He whips 1-2-3 Kid hard into the turnbuckles, does it again and follows him in, Kid side-stepping away, uses a schoolboy and gets a near fall.
The Kid using stiff kicks, crawls towards his corner, Adam prevents him from getting there and tags out, The Model dropping an elbow to the lower back, plants 1-2-3 Kid with a gutwrench suplex and gets a count of 2. He shoots him to the ropes, doubles him over with a fist to the breadbasket, Martel to the 2nd rope for a double axe handle, but Kid counters with a punch to the ribs of his own. Marty gets the tag and fires away with right hands, whips The Model to the ropes for a jumping back elbow, sends him back in and goes to the abdomen with a fist, following it up with a knee lift. Jannetty shoots him to the corner, rams him head-first into the top turnbuckle over and over, snapamare into a cover and he gains a 2 count.
The Kid tags in and they send Martel to the ropes for a double back elbow, whip to the corner is reversed, The Model charges in, 1-2-3 Kid hops up and over into a sunset flip and that’s a 3 count. ‘The Model’ Rick Martel has been eliminated. Adam Bomb hits the ring and chases Kid to his corner, Marty tags, drives a shoulder to the abdomen from the apron, slingshots in with a sunset flip and puts it away.
Winners & Sole Survivors: The 1-2-3 Kid & Marty Jannetty
- EA’s Take: Crowd is on fire tonight, especially for this opening contest that was pretty good as far as Survivor Series elimination matches go. This was a pretty good blend of power, speed, technical skills, star power, new and familiar. A nice blend of veterans and up-and-comers like Adam Bomb or The Kid, Savage stepping in for Mr. Perfect who had his comeback attempt derailed by more back issues. Macho was having issues with Crush and served as the “perfect” replacement in his PPV return to the ring after serving as a color commentator on RAW. The only other story line issue here is between Razor & Martel, The Bad Guy having won the IC Title after defeating The Model. Shawn Michaels had been suspended and stripped of the championship, but had returned by this time and claimed to be the rightful title-holder.
Backstage: Todd Pettengill is standing by with Shawn Michaels, The Heartbreak Kid claiming he’s still the Intercontinental Champion because the gold never left his waist. Pettengill shows some footage from earlier today in which Family Feud’s Ray Combs for comments by The Hart Family about their match tonight. Michaels mocks The Harts some more after watching the tape, informs Bret that he’s got a score to settle with him after last year’s Survivor Series. His Knights will easily handle the retired Hart brothers and if Stu sticks his nose in it, Shawn vows to waffle him.
In The Ring: Ray Combs of The Family Feud introduces The Hart Family seated at ringside, then takes a survey about our next match before announces the participants.
Match #2 – Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match: Shawn Michaels & His Knights (Blue Knight, Red Knight, Black Knight) vs. The Harts (Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart, ‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart, Bruce & Keith) w/Stu Hart
Combs joins commentary for the match, Shawn & Owen to start the action, Michaels wants a piece of Bruce, The Rocket tagging out. Collar & elbow tie-up, Shawn gains a side headlock, tags The Red Knight, Bruce sending Michaels off to the ropes. Bruce drops down and Red does the same to avoid a collision, Bruce pushes them into one-another and Shawn has some choice words for Red. Michaels stays in the ring, Bruce backs him into the corner off the tie-up, chops away at the chest, irish whip across is reversed, Shawn doubling him back towards his corner and Bruce levels Red & Blue with a double clothesline to knock them off the apron.
Black grabs Bruce and holds him, Shawn with a head of steam for a high knee, Bruce side-steps it, Black gets drilled instead and Bruce follows with an arm drag to Michaels before making a tag. Keith enters the ring and grabs a wristlock, switches to an armbar, then to a hammerlock. The Heartbreak Kid counters out with one of his own, Keith with a back elbow to escape it, hits the ropes and ducks a clothesline, Shawn ducks for a back body drop, Keith puts on the brakes, sends him back to the ropes for a slam, Michaels slipping out and scoring with a kick. He hooks him for a vertical suplex, Keith counters into a small package for a 2 count, quickly catches Shawn with a drop toe hold and goes back to an armbar.
He switches to a standing wristlock, Michaels uses a body slam to escape and makes a tag, Red taking the ring and attempts an elbow drop, but doesn’t find the mark. Keith quickly goes into an arm drag and another armbar, tag to Owen he works over the shoulder with a wristlock, Red Knight counters into one of his own, The Rocket rolling through to break away, but takes a thumb to the eye. Red shoots him to the ropes, drops down, goes for a hip toss, Owen blocks it and hits one of his own, follows with a Japanese arm drag and a dropkick, Red falling back into his corner and tagging out. Black comes in and runs right into a hip toss, The Rocket with multiple arm drags, staggers to the wrong corner and pays for it, Owen tossing Black back to his own corner and there’s tags on both sides.
Bret steps in with Blue and ties up, Blue rips at the eyes, whips him to the ropes for a kick to the breadbasket, The Hitman catches his foot, spins him around and splits him with an atomic drop. He follows with an inverted atomic drop, hits the ropes and flattens Blue with a clothesline, makes a cover and gets a count of 2. Tag back to Keith, fireman’s carry takes Blue over, he slaps on an armbar, makes a tag, Bruce coming in to maintain the hold. Blue finds his footing and sends Bruce off to the ropes, Shawn sneaks in a cheap shot to the lower back, Blue taking the opening to deliver a body slam, making a tag to Michaels who cracks Bruce with a backbreaker.
The Heartbreak Kid drops multiple elbows to the lower back and tags out, Red comes off the 2nd rope with a double axe to the spine, throws Bruce with a butterfly suplex and gets a near fall. Black tags in and pummels Bruce with right hands, Bruce blocks one and goes into a backslide for a quick 2 count, Shawn quickly getting a tag and puts the boots to Bruce to stop any momentum. Bruce spills to the outside under the bottom rope, Michaels goes out to bring him back to the apron, looks to drive him head-first into the top turnbuckle, Bruce blocking it and returning the favor, but he’s too close to the wrong corner and gets dropped by Red.
The Heartbreak Kid sends him to the ropes for a clothesline, Bruce ducks it, levels Michaels with one of his own, tags on both sides and The Hitman fires away on Black with rights, sends him to the ropes for another to the ribs, then rolls him up for a near fall. He follows with a small package for another quick 2, cracks Black with a backbreaker, comes off the 2nd rope with an elbow drop, hooks the leg and Shawn breaks the count at 2. Tag to Owen, double irish whip to the ropes, The Rocket clocks Black with a spinning heel kick, lateral press and now Blue hits the ring to break it up before the match falls apart with everyone paired off in opposite corners. Four way irish whip, Michaels & His Knights all collide into one another and the ring clears, Owen goes to the top rope, scores with a dropkick to Black, hooks the leg and gets 3. The Black Knight has been eliminated.
Combs shouts out that we have a winner, but of course that’s not the case. Red tries to ambush Owen after the pinfall and gets taken out at the knee, The Rocket targeting the left leg and he makes a tag to Bret for a wishbone. The Hitman keeps on the injured limb, Keith re-enters the match to do more of the same, ties the leg up in the ropes and drives knees to the joint before the ref forces a break. Red uses the opening to score with a big knee lift, tries to reach for a tag, Keith cuts him off, drags him back to the corner and brings Bruce in for more punishment to the knee. Hitman re-enters for another quick wishbone, tag back to Keith who goes back to the leg, Red kicks him away and Keith is sent head-first into the top turnbuckle.
The Red Knight strikes with fists and headbutts, snapmares him over for a knee drop and misses the target, Keith immediately locking on a figure four. Shawn steps in to break it up which baits in Bruce, the official is distracted, Blue Knight switching out without a tag and he pounds Keith with clubbing blows and chops. Keith turns the tables and fires away, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Red trips Keith up as he hits the ropes, Michaels slingshots in with a diving headbutt to the shoulder and Blue follows with a leg drop on the arm. He goes to work on the shoulder joint with elbows and locks in an armbar, The Heartbreak Kid tags in, drops a double axe to the arm off the top, drives Keith’s shoulder into the top turnbuckle multiple times, then wraps it around the ropes and makes a tag.
Red re-enters and keeps on the left arm, pulls Keith under the bottom rope in the corner, drives the shoulder into the ring post and climbs back inside. He positions Keith under the bottom rope and catapults him throat-first into it, Blue gets a tag, drops another leg on the left arm, plants him with a hammerlock body slam, drops another leg and tags out. Shawn goes back upstairs, Blue launches him into a splash, Keith rolls away to avoid it, Bret gets the tag and Michaels quickly tags right out. Red steps in and is met by stinging right hands, irish whip to the ropes is reversed, Red Knight attempts to leapfrog over, Hitman catches him, drops him flat on his back and slaps on the Sharpshooter for the elimination. The Red Knight has been eliminated.
The Blue Knight steps right in and levels Bret before he even releases the Sharpshooter, puts the boots to The Hitman and then dumps him on the outside. Keith comes around ringside to check on him, the official hops out to get Keith back to his corner, Michaels taking the opportunity to drop a double axe on Bret from the apron and throw him back inside. Blue plants Hitman with a vertical suplex for a count of 2, drops an elbow for a quick 1, then drives Bret face-first into Shawn’s boot before tagging him. The Heartbreak Kid whips Bret hard into the turnbuckles, drives knees to the lower spine, hooks the leg and gains another 2 count. Irish whip back to the ropes and Michaels connects with a jumping back elbow for another 2, grounds The Hitman with a rear chinlock, the ref checking the arm, but Bret is able to keep it up on the third attempt.
Hitman works to a vertical base, hits the ropes, Shawn goes to the breadbasket with a knee, tag to Blue and he drops a headbutt to the lower abdomen for a near fall. Blue Knight backs Bret into the corner and drives shoulders to the ribs, shoots him across and charges in, The Hitman gets the boots up, hops to the 2nd rope for a clothesline and he crawls to a tag. The Rocket springs in and fires away with fists, scores with a dropkick, puts Blue in the corner and climbs to the 2nd rope for a barrage of punches, then plants him with a body slam. Owen comes off the 2nd rope with an elbow drop and makes a cover, Michaels hits the ring to break it up, Bruce comes in to meet him with heavy rights, then teams up with Owen for a double noggin knocker.
He shoots Shawn at The Rocket, Shawn with a baseball slide under Owen’s legs to duck to the outside, turns around and Stu clocks him with a left. Owen slingshots over the top with a crossbody and rolls Michaels back in, whips him into a collision with Blue, goes up top for a crossbody, Shawn ducking it, but The Rocket hits Blue into a cover. The Heartbreak Kid tries to break it up with an elbow drop, misses Owen and hits his partner, Bruce & Owen with a double clothesline to dispose of Michaels, The Rocket locks a Sharpshooter on Blue Knight and he gives. The Blue Knight has been eliminated.
Shawn is left all by himself now, Michaels looks to take a walk and gets cut-off by Bret, Hitman throws him back in the ring, and Owens splits him with an atomic drop. The Heartbreak Kid staggers into the wrong corner and meets a succession of fists, Bruce re-enters and drops multiple knees for a count of 2, sends Shawn to the corner, charges in and runs into a back elbow. Michaels uses a blatant choke, drills Bruce with a superkick, hooks the leg and only gets 2. He whips Bruce to the ropes for a back body drop, Bruce puts on the brakes and counters with a kick, tag to Bret and he steps in for an inverted atomic drop.
He whips Shawn hard into the turnbuckles, catapults him back into the buckles, drops an elbow, lateral press and a near fall. The Hitman plants him with a side russian leg sweep for another 2, looks for a backbreaker, Michaels rips at the eyes to avoid it, Owen tags himself in, sends The Heartbreak Kid to the ropes and tosses him with a belly-to-belly suplex for a near fall. Another whip to the ropes is reversed, Michaels drops down, Owen collides with Bret on the apron and sends him flying into the barricade, Shawn takes advantage of the distraction, schoolboy on The Rocket and a count of 3. ‘The Rocket’ Owen Hart has been eliminated.
Bruce & Keith are on the floor checking on Bret, meanwhile Owen is losing his temper in the ring, Heenan tosses Shawn a bottle of water and The Heartbreak Kid gets a brief recoup. Bruce slides into the ring and meets him with right hands, flattens Michaels with a clothesline and gains a 2 count. He shoots Shawn in and locks in a sleeper hold, The Heartbreak Kid pulls Bruce into the top turnbuckle to break the hold, Bruce tries to use a side headlock, gets pushed away to the ropes, both guys colliding heads and dropping to the mat. Bruce reaches a tag, Keith whips Shawn to the ropes for an abdominal stretch, Michaels powers out with a hip toss, Keith now reaching a tag to The Hitman.
Bret comes in and pummels The Heartbreak Kid with punches, shoots him into the corner and turns him inside-out, sends him back across, Michaels landing planked across the top turnbuckle. Bret with kicks to the abdomen, Shawn gets crotched on the top rope, Hitman sweeps the legs for the Sharpshooter, Michaels ducks out under the bottom rope and runs to the back, getting counted out.
Winners & Sole Survivors: Bruce Hart, Keith Hart & Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart
- After The Bell: Owen comes back out to seemingly join in on the celebration, shoves Bret and an argument ensues. The Rocket is still hot about the way he was eliminated, Bruce & Keith attempt to reason with him, but Owen won’t hear it and he’s left in the ring to celebrate alone to a chorus of boos. Todd Pettengill catches up with Owen for a word as he makes his exit, but Owen doesn’t want to talk.
- EA’s Take: A painfully long match that was never the scheduled or planned contest from the beginning. Shawn Michaels was inserted into this rivalry as a placeholder for Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler after The King was caught under some legal issues. Hence the “Knight” gimmick, which makes a little more sense knowing The King was supposed to be the team captain. Bruce & Keith were pretty boring in the ring to be honest, but thankfully Bobby Heenan’s Hart Family zingers kept me interested throughout. The Blue Knight was played by Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine, The Red Knight was Barry Horowitz and Black was a man named Jeff Gaylord that never really gained any notoriety. This match would mark the beginning of Owen’s famed heel turn, an angle that truly helped him make a mark on the industry, however he’d give an alignment with Bret one last shot at the Royal Rumble.
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!
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