What did Bobby Fernandes think of WWE Monday Night Raw? Find our in this edition of The Good, Bad, and Ugly!
Coming off of one of the worst events I have seen in recent time, here we are on Monday Night Raw. The roster is riddled with injuries but carries on as always. Last week, dare I say, we had ourselves a Good Show overall. Can Raw continue to stay on our Good Side this week?
“The General Manager Elect” Baron Corbin getting booed is a great way to start. We have Corbin, Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley and Lashley’s Manager, Lio Rush. Baron Corbin is significantly overrated if WWE thinks this is Good. However he is really hated and has a ton of heat with the Raw crowd at all times. Drew McIntyre on the other hand is getting better by the second. We have some recapping of Braun Strowman’s injury which no doubt was just to get the crowd upset and get a reaction. It worked, we have a loud audience for the show. Braun Strowman may not be the most popular backstage, but he is unquestionably a Big Fan Favorite! Whenever he returns it will be magic. Lashley is a fantastic heel, but for the love of God, keep him off of the microphone! Then, Boom! Elias saves the day! I really like Elias an an Anti-Heel. He is a great instigator, and doing it to the heels makes it so much better. The very best part is Elias himself really hasn’t changed. He is a bit like Stone Cold Steve Austin, in that sense. The writers and the crowd flipped him to his new role naturally, he himself hasn’t changed. This actually was a Good concise opening.
Bobby Lashley w/ Lio Rush (Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin) vs. Elias
Bobby Lashley’s aggressive, unstoppable gimmick is great for him. Just looking at him, he is a super athlete. Completely impressive unless on the mic, which is why they hooked him with Lio Rush. Lio Rush drives me insane, but is talented both in the ring and on the mic. Elias really put Lashley over early on. Elias has a Wild West style, high intensity move set. It’s unique and fun. Lashley was on the offensive most of the fight. But after a picture perfect elbow drop off the top, Elias had the pin, until Lio Rush interfered and got Lashley DQ’d. The match was then made into a No DQ by Corbin. We got a little ridiculous at this point, as Elias predictably got jumped. Drew McIntyre and Lashley devastated him. Bobby Lashley Wins! This was a Good match, nothing special but I enjoyed it. The crowd was into it, and the story was projected well. Good Start but who wants to Walk with Elias?
Intercontinental Championship Open Challenge: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
I am a fan of the new attitude of Dean Ambrose. He wears it well. I am also a big fan of open challenges. It is a long and Good tradition. I’m always excited to see if we will be surprised. The crowd gave it up for the Architect for “Monday Night Rollins”. A great welcome for the Intercontinental Champion. I was a little disappointed that Dolph Ziggler was the guy. I like him but I just appreciate a more random choice for an open challenge. Having said that, we have two of the best out here about to throw down for the IC Strap. I liked their pace, and saw some Good technical wrestling. They kept me interested and definitely were entertaining overall. Ziggler controlled the match for the most part, wearing down the Champion. They did an excellent job telling a story tonight. Ziggler wearing Rollins down.
Even with the constant commercial interruptions during Raw, the momentum was not broken. Rollins follows with a high energy rally. After a missed frog splash by Rollins and a Famouser by Ziggler, and a few close calls we almost had a new Champion multiple times. Rollins then misses the Stomp twice and Ziggler hit a Zig-Zag for a two count. Ziggler tuning up the band, decided to taunt Rollins and nearly gets pinned, following up with a DDT. Ziggler goes to the top rope, Rollins runs up and hits a Superplex into a Falcon Arrow for the Victory and Retains his title in the match of the night!
Lucha House Party vs. The Revival (Lucha House Rules 3 on 2 Handicap Match)
In the ring The Revival is fantastic. Old school, tough, and entertaining. On the mic, not so much, then again there are much worse. They fall a little flat. This was a quick contest. The Revival looked sharp showcasing some great moves. Then in the blink of an eye LHP brought down the house, with their highflying showcase for the pin and victory. To be honest, they didn’t do anything wrong here on the surface. I just think it’s Bad to bury The Revival. They have a ton of potential and this isn’t the way to enhance them. Although, it could be worse. We could not see them at all.
Ember Moon w/ Curt Hawkins vs. Alicia Fox w/ Jinder Mahal w/ The Singh Brothers
Ember Moon is a great talent. She is so unique and shines in the ring. Alicia Fox I’m not so keen on, but like most Superstars it matters who she is working. I came into this hoping we would see something Good. This is a preview to the Mixed Tag Team Match tourney tomorrow night. This was quick, Ember Moon came back from some limited offense by Fox and hit the Eclipse for the Win! We were then hit with the No Way Jose Conga line setting up the next match. This was a joke of a match really. It was so short, and almost pointless. Not Ugly at all, but Bad enough for Raw.
No Way Jose vs. Jinder Mahal w/ The Singh Brothers
I like the booking of this match. It was a bit random, and surprising to me. This match was nowhere near perfect. I did like certain aspects, but there were a lot of miscues and a few awkward moments. It just really wasn’t Good. Jinder Mahal wins clean!
Nia Jax w/ Tamina Snuka Segment
Nia Jax is so hated right now. She is probably getting death threats at this point. Everyone loves Becky Lynch. Nia Jax really tried here, but she is horrible on the mic. She really cheese balled the hell out of her segment. Of course Ronda Rousey had enough and interrupted. The fans were more than pleased. Looks like Rousey is back in the fans good graces especially against Nia Jax. Even with Rousey involved and the fans into it. After a challenge was dropped by Rousey, Nia Jax declined which made no sense at all. Natalya runs down to back up her friend only to be beaten out of nowhere by the Riott Squad. Rousey for the save on Natalya. This Promo was a bit too Ugly for me. Although bravo for having Tamina do absolutely nothing.
Raw Tag Team Championships: AOP w/ Drake Maverick (c) vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable
I have been pretty hard on AOP and Drake Maverick. I just don’t think they are good, let alone the right call for the Raw belts. I don’t see what the great minds at WWE see at all with these two. There are better, bigger and more physical. They are not special, but what do I know. Bobby Roode on the other hand, is an incredibly wasted talent. He should be doing Championship title runs and being in the major segments. It is bonkers that he is doing what he is doing right now. I mean no disrespect to Gable, but Roode belongs somewhere higher. The action was okay. Guess what, AOP does power moves sloppily. It was really stupid heat with the Bobby Roode robe crap, during a Tag Title Match. This match besides Bobby Roode was a real “pisser”. AOP retains.
Alexa Bliss’ Open Forum w/ Bayley and Sasha Banks
I love the Goddess, she is always a plus. However, this is a totally stupid segment. I don’t understand at all. I would much rather have had a tag match with Bayley and The Boss than this. I guess I don’t appreciate waste. This was just awful. Then for no reason at all, except to be as bad as possible, Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke and Mickie James came out and jumped them only to be beat down by Sasha and Bayley. This was an absurd waste of time.
Baron Corbin vs. Finn Balor
Baron Corbin is such a waste of time. Again, I don’t see the point. Finn Balor is incredible and can work with anyone. Why Corbin? This was a horrible Main Event. Corbin’s gear or lack of it is horrendous, and getting all of the offense he had is crazy. After the longest waste of time ever, Balor finally fought back. As usual he looked sharp in the ring. However this was short lived due to a Deep Six and a near fall. Balor then came back again. Only to have Baron Corbin make it a Handicap Match out of nowhere with Drew McIntyre. Balor went ballistic fighting momentarily until McIntyre got the upper hand. McIntyre gets the Win after nearly kicking Finn’s head off with a Claymore Kick. Bobby Lashley then came down to clean up, adding more damage to Finn Balor. This was just the cherry on top of waste, which capped off the night accordingly.
- Good – 3
- Bad – 3
- Ugly – 4
This wasn’t Raw’s best. We had a few bright spots, Rollins and Ziggler killed it out there, but overall this was a pretty bad show. I really hate when talent is wasted, and this show had a ton of waste. I really hope they can pull the nose up and get back on track. I believe SmackDown can and will do a lot better, and hope to have a Good report for you.
Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Chapter 4
Harry keeps chugging away on the back catalog of Progress! He lends his expertise and knowledge to help us learn where some of our favorite UK superstars began!
Harry keeps chugging away on the back catalog of Progress! He lends his expertise and knowledge to help us learn where some of our favorite UK superstars began!
PROGRESS is coming off the worst of the three shows thus far (my ratings were 6.5, 7, 5.5 respectively). The main event was Nathan Cruz and El Ligero as tag partners took a loss to Dave Mastiff and Greg Burridge. Post match, it broke down into a brawl between the two and Jim Smallman announced that they would face here at Chapter 4 for the PROGRESS Championship. Previously, they have stuck with a three months between shows show time. This time, it’s only two months as we go from end of September to end of November (the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2012, I believe). I know of the main event and not a whole lot else in relation to this show, so we’re going to find out together. With that said, we once again go into our way back machine and head to November 25th, 2012 as “What I Watched” presents ‘The Ballad of El Ligero’ or PROGRESS Chapter 4.
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 4
‘The Ballad of El Ligero’
From: ‘The Boston Dome’ in Tufnell Park, London, England
Date: November 25th, 2012
Run Time: 2:03:48 (Demand PROGRESS)
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton for some of the research that I did while working on this review. (http://www.backbodydrop.com)
*GENERAL NOTES: Obviously, the first thing to discuss is that we’re in a different place then we were for the first three shows. Rather this is a full time thing or just a one off remains to be seen when we get to Chapter 5. As far as how the set-up looks, hard cam doesn’t appear to be too bad. There’s a bit of a glare on the ring which could prove problematic as the show goes on.
*Our opening video focuses on the changes we’ve seen in El Ligero in his time here in PROGRESS compared to how he was prior. They focus on the underhanded way he beat Burridge at Chapter 2 and the ‘sorry, not sorry’ shrug after superkicking Marty Scurll during his match with Nathan Cruz at the same show.
*Once again, no Smallman promo to start the show. I do look forward to when those become a regular thing going forward. Jim has such an infectious personality that you can’t help but enjoy him clearly having the time of his life in the ring. Even if he does tend to run a little long with the openings on occasion these days.
*Match #1: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) (2-0 as a team) vs. The Hunter Brothers (Jim and Lee) (debut)
The Who: London Riots are clearly the class of the PROGRESS tag division. At this time though, that’s not really saying a whole lot. Davis and Lynch are coming off back to back wins at Chapters 2 and 3. Hunter Brothers are making their debut here and I can’t say I’ve heard of them before this. They do sort of physically resemble the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson).
The Why: While I can’t say for sure, my guess is that PROGRESS is attempting to flush out the tag division by adding a new team in the Hunter Brothers against an established one in the London Riots.
The Match: I believe Smallman called them Lee and Jim. My guess is another name for them would be ‘dead’ and ‘meat’, because I don’t anticipate much of a contest here…Hunter’s slide into the ring, the fisticuffs start flying and the opening bell rings here…quick tags after a breakdown see the brothers in control early until Lynch launches Jim with an exploder…fans getting on Davis’ case by chanting ‘London Diets’. That’s pretty funny…tilt-a-whirl face plant by Davis on Jim Hunter. Always liked that move. Looks cool with a minimal amount of effort and risk for both parties…huge double stomp by Lynch to the back of Jim. That’s a big dude to be using that…after that opening flurry, it’s been all Riots. Not that it’s much of a surprise…overhead belly2belly by Lynch. Everything the Riots have done has been really smooth in this match. You can see them gelling more and more from Chapter to Chapter…Jim and Lynch end up trading shots in an exchange that Jim wins. Suspension of disbelief something serious there since Lynch has Jim outweighed by probably a hundred pounds…superkick into a Code Red by the Hunters. It looked good…overhead throw by Lynch tosses Lee across the ring…drop toe hold into a stomach breaker. Again, looked good too…Riots go for that double powerbomb that they hit at the last show, but Lee gets out with a ‘rana…first ‘This is Progress’ chant after a top-rope ‘rana-frog splash combo by Hunter’s…Lynch appears to hurt his knee coming off the ropes, but I’ve seen this ruse before…and sure enough, ruse it is as Lynch and Davis deck the Hunters from behind. Upon the second attempt, the double team powerbomb (which according to my research would become known as ‘District Line’) gets the three count at 14:25…long for an opener, but a good enough match. I don’t think I like the cliché of the ‘fake injury’ being used in the opening contest. Hunter’s held their own against the established Riots and even though I had a few minor issues here and there in terms of believability, I got more out of this match then I was expecting. Call it an ABOVE AVERAGE way to start, minor discrepancies aside.
Post-match: More mic time for the Riots and more of the same that we’ve heard from them before. Nothing really comes of it other then the crowd once again getting to chant ‘London Diets’ and I believe Davis shoving a plant to the floor.
*Match #2: RJ Singh (1-0-1) vs. Paul Robinson (0-1)
The Who: RJ Singh comes off a win over Rob Cage at Chapter 3. The draw you see in his record above was from a no decision in a three way where El Ligero became the number one contender. He still has the biggest entourage in PROGRESS to this point. Paul Robinson was tapped out by Noam Dar in his debut on what was the opening contest.
The Why: Truthfully, I have no clue. My theory is to give Singh more momentum going forward, but Robinson did have a pretty good match with Dar at Chapter 3 whereas I found the Singh-Cage match to be just there.
The Match: Can someone get Paul Robinson a good sandwich? If he lost any more weight, he’d be transparent. Something about seeing a guy’s ribcage just doesn’t scream wrestler to me…bell goes and we’re under way once again…apparently Robinson has outside wrestling experience as a kick boxer, so I take back what I said earlier. I ain’t trying to get kicked…Robinson with the series of short kip-up’s that I first saw by Chris Hero into an arm drag…say this much, Robinson is technically skilled. He may not be the biggest dog in the fight, but he might be the most aggressive…basement enzugiri by Robinson and that’s a new one for me…Robinson takes out both members of Singh’s entourage and then a suicide dive takes out Singh (and almost a couple fans) on the opposite side of the ring…Singh with a pair of backbreakers (tilt-a-whirl and pendulum) to set up an attempt for the ‘Ethnic Submission’ later on, I’m sure…HOOK THE LEG, MAAAAAN…Robinson with a nice springboard flying forearm before a single foot basement dropkick. The issue I have is there is no sign of the back work that Singh was doing here…Robinson goes for a flying legdrop and it does not end well for his tailbone…little later, Robinson goes for a 619 (to the fans approval) but Singh moves and hooks Robinson up to hit ‘Welcome to Chicago, Motherfucker’ (double underhook into a backbreaker). Would that be ‘Welcome to Bombay?’…Robinson gets ‘Sliced Bread #2’ (with a shout out to Naomichi Marufuji) for two…both members of Singh’s entourage get involved again. Shah Boudica eats the 619 to save Singh. Director gets knocked off the apron, but the distraction of Robinson allows Singh to catch him with a Widow’s Peak. Singh then applies the ‘Ethnic Submission’ (Camel Clutch) and that gives us a tap out at 10:56…I think the one I would use here is inconsistent. Singh tried to work over the back of Robinson, but Robinson barely sold it at all. The problem with that is when the ‘Ethnic Submission’ gets put on, you look like a putz who just taps rather then a guy who has been worn down. The ring work was fine otherwise but while I would put the entertainment level at about the same as the opener, I would call this one only AVERAGE due to the fact that Jim and Lee Hunter actually sold the beating they were taking from the London Riots. Somewhat of a disappointment.
Post-match: Director and Boudica come into the ring and attack Robinson after the match, only to be pulled away by Singh. Singh yells at both of them to leave and they exit the ring before Singh extends the hand to a now-risen Robinson. Interesting to see where a face turn for Singh could go. RJ seems to be a pretty competent wrestler, but the hijinx of his entourage have definitely hurt the quality of his matches thus far. I’ll be curious to see what he’s capable of against an opponent of a higher quality as well.
*Match #3: ‘Submission Match’- Noam Dar (2-1) vs. Jimmy Havoc (1-2)
The Who: Dar is coming off back to back wins here in PROGRESS, beating Darrell Allen and Paul Robinson by submission at Chapters 2 and 3 respectively. Havoc is coming off the absolute throw down with Jon Ryan in what basically turned into a death match at Chapter 3.
The Why: Unsure. It being a submission match is even more bizarre for me because to my knowledge, these guys have never been anywhere near each other in PROGRESS. That said, I’m actually looking forward to this as I am a fan of both guys.
The Match: Smallman’s ring intro is very biased…‘Spoon him up Jimmy, spoon him up’. PROGRESS fans, you glorious bastards…they then chant for a forking, but weapons are not legal…Jimmy does go for a spoon early but Dar is able to stay out…apparently, the bloodbath that Havoc had with Ryan at Chapter 3 was the end for Ryan. That’s unfortunate. I always thought he was a good hand…clean break by Dar in the ropes. Not something you usually see…Dar’s infatuation with his gum is borderline disturbing…Dar takes a tasty cake break and makes friends around ringside before eventually returning…Dar goes for the grapevine kneebar early but Havoc is able to escape and gets a dropkick while Dar is trapped in the corner…Havoc plans to fly, but Dar comes back in with a single foot dropkick before instinctively going for a cover. I would be shocked if that doesn’t happen more…Dar goes for a teabag but Havoc counters with the old Corino ‘thumb in the bum’. Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen…Dar is staying heavily on Havoc’s knee and Jimmy is actually selling it. Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson…the thing you learn in these early PROGRESS shows is Havoc is actually a competent wrestler. He just made his name as a death match guy…Jimmy Barnett compares Noam Dar to Brutus Beefcake on a sleeper before spinning that in a direction that is not appropriate for this review. Funny, just not appropriate…Havoc catches a Sharpshooter on Dar of all things. Been almost no work to set it up, but it does draw quite the pop from the crowd…and Dar empties a bag of thumbtacks in the ring. Havoc tries to DVD Dar into them, but the referee blocks that. A fireman’s carry throw puts Dar in the corner and Havoc sweeps up the tacks with a broom and basket…Dar has time to recover and takes Jimmy down before a top-rope double stomp to the knee puts Havoc down. Dar applies the Champagne Super Kneebar, but Jimmy is able to get to the ropes…they are just countering back and forth so fast that I can’t keep up with everything…Jimmy applies Mr. Socko (generic version) and puts on the Mandible Claw. Dar grabs the shoulder of Havoc to stop his hand from falling. That’s new…Dar brings a chair in. Ref gets rid of it and Dar pulls the Eddie Guerrero spot with a briefcase which leads to the referee ringing the bell on a DQ at 17:14…Smallman makes his way ringside and points out the shenanigans that Dar just attempted, restarting the match…Havoc takes Dar down into a Crossface. Dar once again gets to the rope. Dar is then able to catch Havoc in the ‘Champagne Super Kneebar’ once again and this time bites the foot. That’s just fucking gross. It also draws the tap out at 18:40…that was a lot of fun. They played the hits of a submission match and even tossed in a couple new school wrinkles with Noam Dar trying his best Eddie Guerrero impression. The finish, while gross, makes sense as well since Dar had been working the knee of Havoc for most of the match. The biting of the foot was just Dar being a dick and it protects Havoc a bit since it gives him an out that Dar had to do so. Fun match here and I’ll give it a GOOD rating. Best thing on the show thus far.
*Match #4: ‘Natural Progression’ First Round: Will Ospreay (0-0 as a single. 0-1 overall) vs. Mark Andrews (2-0)
The Who: Will Ospreay is obviously a big name now with his work for New Japan Pro Wrestling, however here he’s not nearly as big a deal. His only prior appearance for PROGRESS was a losing effort as one half of the tag team ‘Velocity Vipers’ with Alex Esmail. They lost to the London Riots in a match that was just getting good when Esmail broke his leg. Mark Andrews has been a staple since Chapter 2, defending the BWC Starlo Scholarship against Mike Hitchman and the former champion Xander Cooper. There is no mention of the Starlo here, so my guess is that three chapters is how long the PROGRESS/BWC relationship lasted.
The Why: First round match in what is deemed the ‘Natural Progression’ tournament. As to what exactly that means, maybe Jimmy Barnett will tell me and I can fill you all in on that. My guess would be a future title shot, but I honestly don’t know.
The Match: opening bell doesn’t go but goes, since it never officially rings, but the ref makes the motion…Barnett confirms the title shot for the winner as the tournament will continue over the next six Chapters…we stay on the mat early, but I don’t anticipate that will last long. Ospreay has gotten better on the mat over the years but both of these guys are much better fliers then they are scientific wrestlers…a high speed series of exchanges leads to Andrews getting in déjà vu (the double wrap around flying head scissors)…and Ospreay nails both Andrews a fan with a suicide dive. Her lap ate that dive. Make your own joke here…standing SSP gets two for Ospreay and he puts on a grounded Kimura. It’s the 2003 Brock Lesnar school of wrestling…I believe the mat portion of this contest is over. Of course, right as I type that, Ospreay puts on a seated chinlock…nice ‘dropsault’ by Ospreay. Almost as pretty as Paul London’s…tornado DDT out of back handspring by Andrews draws the second ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant of the night…Stomp 182 sets up a standing MS senton by Andrews. The flippy is strong with these two…impressive series of offense from Ospreay ends with a brainbuster for a double down…Ospreay has something ridiculous planned on the top, but Andrews has plans to drop him on his balls…avalanche reverse ‘rana draws a ‘he’s dead’ from Barnett. Andrews went all the way over and face planted on it…FIGHTING SPIRIT~!!!…Ospreay goes for a 450 but Andrews moves, leading to Ospreay landing on his feet. Andrews gets in a shot and heads to the apron himself, where a springboard in leads to him connecting with the ‘West Coast Pop’ (hurricanrana into a cradle) and that’s the three count at 10:29…man, if you are going to do one of these styles of matches, this is how you do it. Everything they did looked super clean and while there was no real selling to speak of, neither person had the advantage long enough for that to really be a complaint. They just traded bomb after bomb after bomb until eventually Andrews was able to put Ospreay’s shoulders down with that ‘West Coast Pop’ and advance to the semifinals on I’m guessing around Chapter 8 or 9. VERY GOOD match and definitely a sign of things to comes from both of these guys.
Post-match: A well deserved standing ovation for both competitors. A show of respect to each other as well and the fans chant ‘welcome back’ towards Ospreay as he makes his exit. Smallman puts over both guys on the house mic as well.
*Match #5: Stixx (1-1) vs. Marty Scurll (1-1-1) vs. Dave Mastiff (0-0 as a singles. 1-0 in tag matches)
The Who: Stixx is the guy who has faced Lion Kid (Wade Fitzgerald) on the last two shows. Chapter 2 was not so good. Chapter 3 was in my opinion the best match on the show. Here’s hoping his performance is more towards the second half of that. Marty Scurll is returning to in ring competition after TNA kept him off of Chapter 3, where he was just the special guest referee for the main event. In his most recent match in the company, he was defeated by champion Nathan Cruz in a ‘two out of three falls’ match for the PROGRESS Championship Staff at Chapter 2. Dave Mastiff who people may now know from the NXT UK TV show is making his singles debut here. He made his PROGRESS debut at Chapter 3, teaming with the now gone Greg Burridge to defeat Nathan Cruz and El Ligero, scoring the pinfall on the champion in the process.
The Why: The last time there was a three way in PROGRESS, it was a number one contendership match. One could argue that this could very easily be a de facto number contendership match as well. You have the best performer on Chapter 3 (Stixx), the man who took the champion to the limit at Chapter 2 (Scurll) and the man who pinned the champion at Chapter 3 (Mastiff), albeit in a tag match.
The Match: Would be wise for Scurll and Stixx to work together against Mastiff here, but we’ll see if that happens…we actually do get an opening bell this time…Scurll tries to make a friendship and attempts to double cross both Stixx and Mastiff. It doesn’t end well for him with either of them…Scurll tries an overhead chop to Mastiff and it has no affect. Following chops from Mastiff both stagger Stixx and knock Scurll down…Scurll slaps Stixx in the face. He’s just full of dumb ideas in this match, isn’t he?…huge clothesline from Stixx takes Mastiff over the top and to the floor. Not gonna lie, would be kinda interested in a one on one match between those two…Scurll comes after Stixx and Mastiff with a suicide dive. Both move and Scurll eats chairs on the dive attempt. That’s just a terrible idea and this is now a singles match, at least for the time being…wow, Marty came back a lot quicker then I thought he would. About a minute or so…Scurll hooks Mastiff and Stixx for a suplex but again, no dice…Mastiff tries a sit-down splash on Scurll and misses. Stixx then comes in and catches Mastiff with a rolling neckbreaker…at this point, Nathan Cruz makes his presence known and pulls Scurll out to the floor, brawling to the back with him…impressive escape by Stixx and a big flying shoulder block gets two…Mastiff with a Fit Finlay roll and a senton. That’s a big boy to be pulling off both those moves…Stixx with a backdrop counter to a powerbomb attempt. I believe these are the type of guys that led to the Hoss division becoming a thing in other companies. I think they add a belt down the line of that dimension here in PROGRESS, but I don’t know when…clothesline by Stixx is ducked and Mastiff with a release German into the turnbuckle. Mastiff creates a little space as Stixx slumps and a cannonball splash in the corner (Into the Void on NXT UK) spells the three count for Mastiff at 10:28…Cruz taking Scurll out of the match makes sense given their history but doesn’t given that Cruz is about to defend his title against El Ligero in the main event. What participation Scurll did have was fun, but it was minimal. As far as Stixx and Mastiff go, it was entertaining but never had the opportunity to reach another level just based on how short it was after Scurll got taken out. I stand by what I said earlier in wanting a proper one on one match between the two. Overall, it’s a GOOD match, but it could have been much better given what these men have proven capable of.
*Match #6: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff: ‘Showstealer’ Nathan Cruz © (3-0) vs. El Ligero (2-1)
The Who: Nathan Cruz is the inaugural PROGRESS champion, having won the title back at Chapter 1 in a four way match that included El Ligero, who was eliminated first. This will be his second title defense, as he beat Marty Scurll in the previously discussed ‘two out of three falls’ match at Chapter 2. El Ligero won a three way at Chapter 2 to become the number one contender, pinning Greg Burridge with a handful of tights. Ligero and Cruz teamed at Chapter 3, but it did not go well for them as Ligero kicked Cruz in the face, leading to Cruz getting pinned by Dave Mastiff. Post match, they got into another brawl and that brings us to the title match here.
The Why: This may be the easiest one of the evening. Tempers have flared over the last two Chapters and as the old adage goes, ‘if you can’t get along, you got to get it on’ so they will for the PROGRESS Wrestling Staff that represents their Heavyweight title.
The Match: Cruz has a pre-match promo that insults Ligero, Smallman and the fans to make Ligero the face for this match. In addition, Cruz demands that Smallman ban Scurll from ringside or Cruz is leaving and taking the Staff with him. Smallman agrees and the match is officially a go…again, the ‘shit Zack Ryder’ chant breaks out towards Cruz. He’s not wearing the single leg trunks this time, so it doesn’t have the same affect to me…opening bell goes and we’re underway…rolling sole butt leads to Cruz getting sent out to the floor less then a minute into the match…Ligero waits for Cruz to come back and it breaks down into a brawl in the middle…Ligero then proceeds to throw Cruz into the seats, about three row deep. Looks like we’re heading towards more crowd brawling here, which is something I absolutely don’t like for venues like this. Thankfully, this building is better lit then the previous one was, so we can actually see what’s happening…and there’s the ‘we can’t see shit’ chants. That’s not a good thing for your crowd to be chanting, guys…Cruz with lift and drop on the entrance and then a suplex onto the merch tables. Can’t help but feel like Smallman doesn’t appreciate this…Ligero pitches Cruz from the stage to the floor and then comes flying over with flipping dive, giving us the third ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant of the night…they briefly go back to the ring and then right back out…the moves on the floor are impressive and all, but I still feel like the match is best kept in the ring where the guys can go balls out…finally back in again and Cruz takes control with a huge release German suplex, throwing Ligero into a stomach first landing…fans chanting ‘Ole’ for Ligero. Reminds me of another masked guy they used to chant that for. Hope he’s doing well helping with the orphans…once we got back into the ring, it’s been all Cruz. On the floor, it was almost all Ligero…vertical suplex leads to a one count. Rare that you see the one count, but its Ligero’s way of telling Cruz that Ligero isn’t nearly done yet. I wish more people would use that story…Ligero gets the C4L (Crazy 4 Ligero) in ring (not the rope spring version) and that puts both guys down…Ligero gets a springboard enzugiri for a good near fall after Cruz went for ‘Show-Stolen’, the fireman’s carry Michinoku Driver…Cruz with a nice looking chest blower out of a pop up in the corner. For as much shit as the crowd gave him, he seems to win a good bit of them over during his matches…Cruz calls for the sliding single foot kick but Ligero moves. Ligero again wiggles out of ‘Show-Stolen’ and hits the Beach Break (down the back Tombstone) for two…trading blows back and forth here before Cruz again goes for ‘Show-Stolen’, turned into a roll-up for two…huge superkick puts both men down again. No count by the referee though. Ligero looks for C4L but Cruz counters with a Cutter which again leads to a double down, this time with a count from Chris Robinson…getting deep into this contest. Easily the longest on the show and not even close…Cruz looks for a superplex which could be a bad idea with this low ceiling…it’s countered, thankfully…top-rope splash by Ligero gets two. Fans are calling for flips, but I’m not sure the roof is high enough to support that theory off the top…Ligero gets the PROGRESS Staff. He looks to hit Cruz with it but the ref talks him out of it. The distraction leads to ‘Show-Stolen’ for a two count. A second ‘Show-Stolen’ only gets a one count…Cruz then hits the sliding single foot kick but that only gets two as well…alright, we’re on the verge of overkill here gentlemen. I get what you are trying to do, but killing Cruz’s move set isn’t the way to get there…Cruz tries to pick Ligero up and Ligero quickly catches him in a guillotine choke. Cruz tries to roll out but Ligero rolls through and has it hooked in from a seated position, bending Cruz forward. Cruz tries to fight but can’t and taps out, ending the match and giving the title to El Ligero at 26:51…I’m torn here. While I more or less enjoyed the match, there were definitely parts of it I did not care for. The constant crowd brawling that happens in the main events of PROGRESS shows has to stop. It takes the home viewer out of the experience. While it may be cool for the fans in attendance for the guys (or girls eventually) to make their way around the building, it’s a burden for the camera crew to follow along with and for the fans at home to follow. The overkill on the finishers at the end by Cruz was another thing that bothered me. I knew going in that Cruz was dropping the belt to Ligero here but in effect, you killed off most of Cruz’s main move set in the process with the repeated kick outs. That’s not to say the match was all bad. There was nothing blown, most of the exchanges looked really good and while I may not personally care for the amount of kick outs, I can understand the story they were going for. All in all, it’s a GOOD match to end the show and the Nathan Cruz era but for the time they got, I think I just expected more.
Post-match: Ligero is crowned king as they fans applaud his performance. Jimmy Barnett signs us off and the final images we get are that of El Ligero celebrating with the Staff after Cruz makes his way backstage to a ‘You Tapped Out’ chant. Credits roll and Chapter 4 is a wrap.
Match #1: London Riots (J. Davis/R. Lynch) defeat Hunter Brothers (Jim and Lee) when Lynch pins Jim (I think) after the ‘District Line’ powerbomb @ 14:25 (ABOVE AVERAGE)
Match #2: RJ Singh taps Paul Robinson, ‘Ethnic Submission’ @ 10:56 (AVERAGE)
Match #3: ‘Submission Match’: Noam Dar taps Jimmy Havoc, ‘Champagne Super Kneebar’ with foot bite @ 18:40 (GOOD)
Match #4: ‘Natural Progression’ Quarterfinal Match: Mark Andrews pins Will Ospreay, West Coast Pop @ 10:29 (VERY GOOD)
Match #5: Dave Mastiff wins three way, pinning Stixx with the ‘Into the Void’ cannonball splash @ 10:28 of a match that also involved Marty Scurll (GOOD)
Match #6: PROGRESS Championship Staff: El Ligero taps Nathan Cruz ©, guillotine choke @ 26:51 to win the title (GOOD)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
Clearly a step up from Chapter 3, I’m not sure it quite reaches the heights of Chapters 1 and 2. The Ospreay and Andrews match is very good but there isn’t a match that gets an extended time to draw you in and push you to that excellent range like we got with Scurll and Sabre on Chapter 1 or the main event between Cruz and Scurll on Chapter 2. Times are definitely changing here, as the ‘Natural Progression’ tournament has started and that’ll give us something to look forward to as these shows continue. Plus, the era of the ‘Showstealer’ has come to a close as El Ligero goes from quasi dick challenger to now being the most hunted man in the company as the new champion. It’s a good show, but not the top-to-bottom great show that PROGRESS would eventually spoil fans with on a consistent basis.
So, where does this leave us all? Well, it’ll leave me coming back to watch ‘For Those About to Fight, We Salute You’, or PROGRESS Chapter 5. It’ll hopefully lead the readers here to give the show a shot themselves and form their own opinions. And for the fourth time in as many shows, I’m hungry after finishing one of these. I think it’s time for some pizza.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Ospreay vs. Andrews for sure. It was a spotfest and a sprint, but it was a really good one.
Worst Match/Moment: I’ll go with all the crowd brawling in the main event. A couple of cool spots aside from it, it just seemed like a way to make the match go longer for going longer sake.
MVP: Going to give this one to the new champion El Ligero. While I personally may have enjoyed the Ospreay and Andrews match more, this was a big moment for Ligero and you could tell that it meant a lot to him. We’ll see where his title reigns goes.
FINAL SCORE: 6.5/10
Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Up next is Chapter 5: “For Those About to Fight, We Salute You”.
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 important news of the week and cover Monday Night Raw over on the Chairshot Radio Network. (www.blogtalkradio.com/chairshotradio for more)
Rob: WWE Roster Turmoil? Not Really
This is fine. (It actually is fine!)
Is the WWE roster in a state of turmoil? Rob Bonnette doesn’t think so, and tells you why!
So the news that Luke Harper has requested his release, combined with the current Sasha Banks situation, the writer that quit, and Road Dogg resigning as head writer of Smackdown has led our good friend Ryan Satin (sarcasm) and others to speculate if there is some bad morale going on backstage in the good old WWE. The take here is that because seemingly so many people have recently asked for or were rumored to be have asked for their release (Neville, Tye Dellinger, Hideo Itami, the Revival, Mike & Maria Kanellis), openly complained about their role or lack thereof (Sasha Banks, Rusev and Lana, Tyler Breeze), or have chosen to not re-sign (Dean Ambrose) that this is some harbinger of bad times. With all this smoke there’s got to be some fire, right?
Well……..not really. Yes that seems like a lot of people but twelve people (or eight when you take into account that the Revival and the Kanellises all denied having asked out) out of almost 150 main roster people is not a huge number. And as a couple of people who used to work for WWE explained the sheer number of people there now means that there are always going to be people either feeling or actually being underutilized.
This is really short-sighted. There’s a ton of talented guys and only so many segments. Someone great always gets the short end of the stick
— Kazeem Famuyide 🏁 (@RealLifeKaz) April 16, 2019
This is when the internet bugs me. (Not singling you out, Ryan.) But to go from handful of wrestlers who have diff reasons for leaving, and jump to “BACKSTAGE IN TURMOIL” is an lot of assumptions.
Backstage is perpetually in chaos anyway. But that’s not why anybody leaves. 😂
— Tom Casiello (@tommiecas) April 16, 2019
Now I am not a former writer with WWE nor did I stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night but I have been watching and following pro wrestling for almost 35 years so I can tell you that this is nothing new. Way back during the 80s it was pretty common for people to come to the WWF and not stay as long as you remember they did. I’m talking name guys, some of whom main evented WrestleMania like:
- Ricky Steamboat – 3 years (1985 to 1988)
- Rick Rude – 3 years (1987 to 1990)
- Barry Windham – 1 year (1984 or 1985), then a few months in 1989
- King Kong Bundy – 3 years (1985 to 1988), then again from 1994 to 1995
- Paul Orndorff – 4 years (1983 to January 1988)
- Terry Taylor – 2 years (1988 to 1990)
- Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard – 1 year (1988 to 1989)
- Kerry Von Erich – 2 years (1990 to 1992)
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There were other name guys like Dick Slater who were there and gone in months. Sid Vicious never made more than a year either time he came over. Even Ric Flair asked for his release a year and half after coming over in 1991 and got it. All of those guys were considered serious acquisitions when they came in, and for various reasons left a lot sooner than expected. And like today those reasons largely had to do with their place on the card at the time or where it looked like they’d be in the future.
A few did get fired (Blanchard got popped for drugs and the Freebirds famously got run before they even debuted), or left because of injury (Orndorff) but most of these guys just left. Now fast forward to today. Harper asked for his release after six years. AJ Syles just re-signed and has already been there longer than Flair (the first time), Steamboat, and Rude were. Hell, Finn Balor has already outlasted most of the guys on that list. So has Baron Corbin (even though he sucks so bad that we got T-shirts saying so!) We haven’t gotten to Kofi, Sheamus, Dolph, R-Truth, etc.
There has always been a revolving door of sorts, and it spins even faster when things are going well be it the Hulkamania era, the Monday Night Wars/Attitude Era, or now. It’s never a sign of anything other than business being good and there being more than one place for people to work. They can get an offer from WWE, give it whirl, and if things don’t go to their liking they can move on. It was true during the mid 80s before the territories started dying. It was true when WCW was riding high.
And it’s true now when you have ROH/Impact/MLW out there, AEW on the way, and an indie scene that offers a lot of opportunities. When people don’t have to stay they’ll leave if they don’t like where they are and they can get on somewhere else. It’s a good sign for the business and not a bad sign for any one company (let’s not act like the revolving door only is only in WWE now). When business is good, WWE signs a ton of people and lots of them don’t stay long.
Now that brings the next the question: do they just have too many people? Well yeah, they do. But that’s how they operate during the good times. They sign some people because they have plans for them but they also sign people to get them off the market or to provide roster depth or just because the wider net you cast the better chance you have of getting a breakout star. The wide net got them the Shield, Daniel Bryan, Styles, Finn Balor, and several others. In years past it got the Hart Foundation, Ultimate Warrior, Jake Roberts, and 1-2-3 Kid (X-Pac). Wrestling is art not science, and finding success is often a matter of throwing as much stuff against the wall as possible and seeing what sticks.
So yeah if you have the capacity you sign as many people as you can. WWE isn’t the only place that did that. WCW did of course. New Japan tried to keep all The Elite guys even though they have a pretty large deck of guys, some of whom aren’t getting much use right now there. Do signings not field any tangible results? Sure. Do some departures hurt more than others? Sure. But it’s nothing new and nothing to get all bent out of shape over.
So let the dirtsheet guys do what they do, and don’t get too worked up. Nothing new under the sun here.
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