Branching out beyond the safety of the American coastlines, Chairshot Classics begins to delve into PROGRESS. Harry starts the journey at the logical, with in depth coverage and finer details on what made the matches happen.
What I Watched – A Chairshot Classics Presentation
PROGRESS Chapter 1: ‘In The Beginning’
By Harry Broadhurst
Man, been a while since I’ve done one of these. Greetings and salutations all. My name is Harry Broadhurst. A little bit about myself: I am the host of the ‘Raw Reaction’ here on the Chairshot Radio Network along with Tony Acero and Andrew Balaz (one of the big wigs here at thechairshot.com). I’ve been a part of the podcast network since it launched as the Raw Reaction just celebrated it’s fifth anniversary back in April.
Back in the days when this website was still WrestlingSmash, I used to be the guy who did what Steven Mitchell does. I would review Raw, SmackDown, Impact and Main Event under the title of “What I Watched”. I did some DVD reviews for another website a while ago as well but those eventually slowed down when schedules changed. I’ve been wanting to get back into reviews and I figure that now that I have a bit more free time, I want to spotlight more independent companies that don’t usually get highlighted.
I spoke to Greg about this and we both agreed that one of the hottest promotions in the world right now is the England based PROGRESS Wrestling. While we were talking, the idea that there isn’t a lot available on the history of the company came up and we intend to change that. Jim Smallman and his crew have created some of the most buzz we’ve ever seen for an independent wrestling company. They have even gotten themselves noticed to the point that the WWE’s NXT is going to be partnering with PROGRESS when it launches NXT:UK. The WWE UK Championship has been defended in PROGRESS and multiple members of the active WWE roster have appeared on the shows, both before and during their times in the WWE itself.
Well, even a promotion as big as PROGRESS has a beginning. ‘In The Beginning’, to be specific. We go back to the twenty fifth of March in 2012 for this one. And this show helps set the stage for the first PROGRESS Wrestling Heavyweight champion to be crowned. Into the way back machine we go and it’s now time for ‘In The Beginning’ or PROGRESS Chapter 1.
WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews will not be a play by play recap. I’ve done that style in the past and honestly, I don’t especially care for it. Instead, it’ll be more of a stream of consciousness review as I talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.
WRITER’S NOTE #2: Due to the fact that Greg considers reviews to be opinion pieces, I am of the opinion that you should be able to form your own thoughts of the matches. Therefore, I will not be posting any of the finishes inside the review itself. But if you want to know, I will post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contest. The final show review will be after that, so if you want to read that without seeing results, I recommend scrolling to the bottom and moving up the page.
MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating. In addition, keeping with my run here with the Chairshot, I’m going to issue a ‘Final Reaction’ at the end of the reviews. Best match/moment, worst match/moment, Final Score and MVP (Most Valuable Performer).
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 1
‘In The Beginning’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: March 25th, 2012
Run Time: 1:55:45
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton and www.backbodydrop.com for some of the research that I did while working on this review.
*No opening promo from Smallman, which would become a fixture of the company. Instead, a quick graphic for the company takes us to a quick graphic for our opening contest.
*General Notes: The lighting for this venue is awful. At least a third of the ring is in relative darkness. Hopefully that gets fixed quickly going forward…the crowd is super hot for this show. The play-by-play announcer? Not so much. Not sure if he’s the same guy around to this day. If he is, he has improved tremendously. If it’s not, it’s easy to see why…commentary note: upon doing a bit of research, apparently it was Jim Smallman doing commentary in studio afterward under the name Jimmy Barnett. Makes sense that he would turn those reigns over, given his other duties with the company…setup is really weird with where they have the hard cam placed. You can clearly see monitors directly in front of the hard cam. One of them is clearly for music. The other looks like it’s set to Microsoft Excel…the ending graphics give all the information about social media presence. I can start including that stuff in the reviews if you guys want me too.
*Semifinal #1: Noam Dar vs. El Ligero
The Who: Yes, the Cruiserweight Classic’s (and now 205 Lives‘) Noam Dar as he is one of the guys who would move on to work for the WWE after getting some notoriety here in PROGRESS. El Ligero is a guy who fans of What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW from here on, though it is now known as Defiant Wrestling) are very familiar. I can’t say I’ve seen a whole lot of him personally, but I have heard good things
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the first of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: I may be wrong, but I think Smallman is the ring announcer, which I believe is a job he still does to this day…the inset promos are a nice touch. Not something you traditionally get from what basically amounts to an independent show…crowd makes it very clear very early who they are rooting for in this contest…have to say, a little sloppier then I expected to open. I’ll chalk that up to nerves though…and the first dive out of the ring happens at the minute and a half mark. Yep, indie wrestling…at least to me, Dar is clearly the more proficient of the two. It really doesn’t surprise me that he has found his way to a WWE contract…Dar with a really nice airplane spin that he combos into a Northern Lights. Very well done…Ligero with what looks like a version of the ‘S.O.S.’ but coming out of it, Dar catches him with a good looking burning clothesline…the roaming cam is not the same quality as the hard cam, but it’s a lot less distracting due to the monitors…Dar with a leg grapevine for an extended period before Ligero gets the ropes. Luckily, the crowd doesn’t seem to mind it as they are still very into it, especially for Ligero’s escape…one of the issues with PROGRESS can be the fan’s snarkiness. Pretty sure I just heard a slur for homosexual chanted by them here. Not exactly the impression you want to leave with potential first time viewers. Little surprised that hasn’t been edited out…and there’s the finish. Solid little match to open. Nothing super groundbreaking, but still worth the time that it runs for. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Semifinal #2: Nathan Cruz vs. Colossus Kennedy
The Who: I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about Nathan Cruz. I don’t believe I have seen him compete before and if I have, I clearly don’t remember it. I’ve heard of him though. I can’t say the same of his opponent as this is the first time I’ve even heard of Colossus Kennedy. The name is definitely fitting though as the guy looks to be every bit of six foot five or six and three hundred pounds.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the second of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: That is a big boy in Colossus for sure…both men get inset promos for this match. Nathan comes off far more charismatic then Kennedy does. Nathan knows the character he wants to portray, whereas Colossus is just your average generic big guy…six foot six and three hundred sixty pounds. Really big boy by Indy wrestling standards…early chants from the crowd compare Kennedy to both the ‘Funkasaurus’ (that was a thing on Raw at the time) and Earthquake. Let’s not throw around the good name of John Tenta too freely, shall we?…Kennedy is a little clunky, so I don’t imagine he’s been wrestling all that long at this point. He does move well for a guy his size. He does a tabletop suplex (fall away slam position into a vertical) that looks really sloppy, though…they play up a pretty simple ‘big guy, smaller guy’ dynamic here. The crowd is into hating on Cruz, so it works. The ‘shit Zack Ryder’ chant does make me chuckle…the announcer attempts to put the crowd over as one of the most comedic he’s ever been around. He just says it so blandly that it loses meaning. To be fair (and I know I’ve ripped the guy twice already), he’s commentating by himself. Few can pull that off serviceably. Even fewer (Joey Styles and Lenny Leonard spring to mind) can do so and be entertaining…Kennedy impresses me with the selling of the leg, as he reverses Cruz into the corner. He then tries an avalanche but the leg gives out on him as he attempts to get across the ring…the commentator spent the entire match putting over Kennedy’s Lariat, even mentioning that his favorite wrestler to watch was Stan Hansen. So, it’s a little bit of a surprise that it’s not the finish when he hits it, as Cruz cleanly kicks out…and there’s the finish. I think the right guy wins here, as there is clearly a drop in talent between the two. The match itself is serviceable, but nothing you would remember by the end of the show most likely. They tell a good story but it never really gets out of first gear. (AVERAGE)
*Semifinal #3: ‘Loco’ Mike Mason (with Becky James) vs. Colt Cabana
The Who: Mike Mason and Becky James, I have never heard of. To give a visual comparison for fellow independent wrestling fans, the closest I could give you would probably be “Mr. Showtime” Scot Summers or Davey Richards. Colt Cabana, I don’t think I need to expand upon. Arguably the biggest competitor currently in independent wrestling at the time, Still to this day, Cabana is a huge draw on the Indy circuit, even if his appearances are a lot less frequent then they used to be.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the third of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: Cabana is one of those guys promoters bring in to give a local a marquee match against a name talent. That or he’s there to make people laugh. I’ll assume one of those is going to be the M.O. here…pre-match, Colt throws what I believe are tennis balls at Mason and Becky. Make your own jokes here…man, there is a noticeable size disparity between the two. Colt is not a huge guy by any stretch (he’s muscular but not tall), but he towers over Mason…it’s the not family friendly Colt this evening as he stands on the bottom turnbuckle, pushes out his groin and states “I do have a foreign object” or something to that effect…the crowd gets on the referee for not checking Cabana, but really, it’s the right call…Cabana stuffs his singlet with a tennis ball and the announcer quickly takes the ‘pleased to see us’ route…this is all before the opening bell, mind you…opening bell finally does ring and it’s tennis ball shenanigans…a series of tennis ball tosses with the crowd lead to a very snarky ‘this is wrestling’ chant as the announcer points out that Mason is a replacement for RJ Singh…it eventually breaks into a bit of a mat wrestling contest, where Cabana dominates…more shenanigans such as a dancing sequence and then an airplane spin that leads to Colt exclaiming “I’m getting so fucking dizzy”…James gets involved and Cabana tumbles through the ropes to finally put Mason in control of the contest…there’s a dog theme to Mason’s gimmick, but if I’m being honest, I’m not seeing a lot of steak to go with the sizzle thus far…a shoulder into the ring post turns the tide back into Cabana’s favor…it’s hard to describe Colt matches, because while there is a lot of stuff going on, most of it isn’t actual wrestling…Cabana gets the Billy Goat’s Curse (reverse Boston Crab) on, but Becky James gets onto the apron and distracts both Cabana and the referee…and that leads directly into the finish. As I said during the course of the match, Cabana matches make for entertaining experiences, but not a ton on the actual wrestling scale. This was basically Colt playing the hits of the kind of matches he would normally have. Mason could have really been anyone else in the locker room, outside of the shenanigans with the tennis ball (BELOW AVERAGE)
*Semifinal #4: Zach Sabre Jr. vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The Who: Where to begin here? Not that either of these guys need a formal introduction from me, but here goes: Sabre Jr. people will know from the ‘Cruiserweight Classic’, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and a host of other places. I think you can make the argument that Sabre is the best technical wrestler in the world. ‘Party Marty’ as he’s known here has become an international superstar in his own right as the ‘Villain’ Marty Scurll in many of the same places that Sabre Jr. frequents, with the exception of the ‘Cruiserweight Classic’, but that was due to Marty being under a NJPW contract at the time of that taping. Back here at this show in March of 2012, these guys were part of a tag team known as the ‘Leaders of the New School’. This is by far my most anticipated of the first round matches.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the fourth and final participant in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: Sabre Jr. points out that he ‘chuffing loves arm-bars’ in his pre-match promo. That may be the understatement of the DVD thus far…my intro to Marty Scurll was as ‘Party Marty’ in wXw (Germany), but man is it weird watching a Scurll match in 2018 and not seeing the ‘Villain’…even as early as we are here, you can see the ‘Villain’ in there. Especially with how he works the crowd. One of the most charismatic men in wrestling…noticeable differences for these two with the power game of Scurll and the mat game of Sabre. It’s an easy story to tell…and we have the first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant that would become a staple of the company going forward…despite not being as good as Sabre on the mat, Scurll more then holds his own. It’s easy to forget with the frat boy character he had at the time that Marty could really go…dead lift suplex attempt by Scurll countered into a rolling cross-arm breaker by Sabre. So pretty…Sabre really put the torque on an abdominal stretch variation. Despite being partners, they are definitely not holding back against each other…super high and tight on the Liger Bomb and rolled right into another arm bar variation. Scurll quick to the ropes, but man, did it look vicious…everything is so fluid between these two…and right as I type that, a pretty decent piece of miscommunication going into the double down, but they recover well enough from it…for all the praise he gets for being so technically gifted, Sabre’s kicks either look really good and don’t hurt or are legit stiff as all hell…and there’s the finish. A little surprised by the decision but given where they’d both end up in the company, not a complete surprise. That said, quite far and away the best thing on the card thus far. These two do not hold back, as they lay in the strikes and kicks. Not only that, but the ground game was on point as well. Multiple ‘This is PROGRESS’ chants are well earned here. Early leader in the clubhouse for best match in PROGRESS history. (VERY GOOD, CLOSE TO EXCELLENT)
*BWC (British Wrestling Council) Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Zack ‘Diamond’ Gibson vs. ‘Dazzling’ Darrell Allen vs. Xander Cooper ©
The Who: I have not a clue who two of the three people in this match are. The names Darrell Allen and Xander Cooper mean nothing to me, as this is the first I’ve heard of both. Zack Gibson I am familiar, though. Zack was the winner of the UKCT 2, giving him a chance to take on Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship on Night 2 of the WWE UKCT2 special. He is no where near ‘Liverpool’s Number One’ here though. Even though he’s a heel (being announced from Liverpool drew boos from the fans, who wouldn’t know good ‘footy’ if it bite them in the ass), he has long hair here, looking nothing like what we would see of him in the WWE.
The Why: Triple threat, one fall to a finish (I think) for the BWC Scarlo Scholarship. Apparently, upon doing a bit of research, this belt was put together as a well to promote talent from the most reputable schools on the British scene.
The Match: Inset promos from all three before the match. As a Liverpool FC fan, I’m immediately biased towards Gibson. Much like I was during the aforementioned UKCT2…commentator mentions that there will be a BWC match on every PROGRESS show going forward. We’ll see how long that lasts…not sure what the hell that was supposed to be, but they managed to save it…‘Man for All Seasons’ is a pretty nice little nickname. Give Cooper credit for that one…seems weird to see a high flyer as a heel, but that’s what Cooper is. Allen is a high flyer as well, but he’s a baby face…sunset bomb out of the corner with a avalanche exploder gets the sixth ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant and first of the match…and one of the fans informs Cooper that he sucks a large dick. Keep it classy, lads…this match is falling into that traditional three way troupe of two guys in, one man out. It takes away from the special feeling of a triple threat when there is rarely any interaction between all three…fans are definitely not with Cooper. I believe they are calling him the ‘drizzling shits’…Cooper is relatively fluid in the ring and works the crowd well. Curious if he’s still involved with wrestling…sunset flip/German combo is only the second or third spot since the start of the match to involve all three…Gibson looks surprisingly tall here to me. Wonder if I just didn’t realize it or if the other two are just that small…maybe just me, but Gibson kind of looks like CM Punk during his ROH days here…alright, I’ve never seen that spot before. Very innovative…some very cool looking rollups in the ‘fish out of water’ sequence…Cooper looks like he was going for a hammerlock DDT, but Gibson gets out and eventually into a flying lungblower…fans are turning around on Gibson here. They started booing the crap out of him, but now appear to be behind him. Ring work won them over…this is the match of the enzugiri. At least six of them…Allen botches a 450 splash, landing with his knees right across the chest of Gibson. Don’t think that was supposed to happen…and there’s the finish. For what is essentially a ‘student’s match’, this actually turned out to be pretty good. Nothing great from any of the three, but there are several innovative spots (I watch a ton of wrestling and even I saw some stuff for the first time here) and there is nothing blown to the point that it takes you out of the match. The finish is cheap, but given where the belt ends up, it makes sense that they’d go the way they did here. Color me impressed by all three lads here. (GOOD)
*Main Event: PROGRESS Wrestling Championship Staff (Not Title): Fatal Four Way Elimination: El Ligero vs. Nathan Cruz vs. ‘Loco’ Mike Mason vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The Who: The four men who were victorious in the qualifying matches earlier in the show. It is at this point that I realize spoilers are inevitable for this contest. My bad, ya’ll. This one’s on me.
The Why: To crown the first ever PROGRESS champion. Seems pretty obvious. It’s an Staff instead of a title. Pretty sure that would end up sticking around for a while if memory serves.
The Match: Smallman getting shitty about the fans calling the PROGRESS Staff a ‘Nazi Staff’ is by far and away the most entertaining that he ever is at commentary. It’s easily the most personality he’s shown, even with the unnecessary shot at Santino Marella thrown in…rolling flip dive over the ring post and to the floor by El Ligero. Impressive…and through the crowd they all go, as fans are already complaining about lack of visibility. It’s like a 1998 WWF pay-per-view main event…and some crowd interaction leads to a double chop on Cruz by Ligero and Scurll…upon thinking about it, definitely would compare Mason more towards Richards then Summers. Not sure if that’s a compliment, though…we’re focused on Ligero and Cruz, but you can clear as day hear Scurll shill his t-shirts and photos (12 and 3 pounds respectively). Ever the worker that Marty is…El Ligero gets the ‘ole’ chants in support. Makes me wonder if he’s any relation to that ‘Generico’ fellow who is now helping orphans down in Mexico…Ligero takes a backdrop out of a piledriver attempt on the stage. The building is a bar with a stage area, similar to the building CHIKARA has run in NYC before…hey, we’ve actually turned into something resembling a real wrestling match now. It only took us ten minutes to get there…why isn’t Mason disqualified for Becky pulling out the referee? If this is elimination, that seems like it would be grounds…shortly thereafter, a distracted Ligero is the first one gone…and then he immediately leads into the elimination of Mason…crowd is solidly behind Scurll here, but that’s no real surprise…Cruz keeps the edge for a bit, but Scurll gets an inverted fireman’s carry into a back cracker to put both men down…you’d think Cruz would have better conditioning here, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Scurll looks ready to go still, despite his match earlier being about twice as long as Cruz’s…‘Nazi Staff’ chants again from the crowd as Smallman moans about it on commentary. Still kind of funny, so, curious if it becomes a running theme…Smallman calling out John Cena for a move annoys me though. You are a little fish, Jim. Cena’s a shark…never understood the count the next number thing that crowds do on a double down…the ref bump looked terribly contrived. Just awful…visual fall for Scurll leads to him trying to wake up the referee. A low blow followed by a diamond cutter from Cruz gets two…and there’s the finish one last time on the evening. I think the who makes sense. The how even makes sense as well, as they set up Chapter Two. What I didn’t care for was spending the first ten minutes of this match to be spent brawling all around the small building (attendance was approximately 250) with bad camera angles and a ton of missed moments. Once we got into the ring however, the match itself was well worked and very easily sets up the way for things going forward into the company. Call the main event a success, but with some reservations. (VERY GOOD, OPENING KEEPS FROM EXCELLENT)
Semifinal #1: El Ligero pins Noam Dar with a in-ring rope springboard tornado DDT @ 12:01 (Above Average)
Semifinal #2: Nathan Cruz pins Colossus Kennedy with a sliding dropkick to the side of the head @ 10:40 (Average)
Semifinal #3: ‘Loco’ Mike Mason pins Colt Cabana with a chain shot to the head @ 10:06 (Below Average)
Semifinal #4: ‘Party’ Marty Scurll pins Zach Sabre Jr. with a deep cradle sunset flip @ 21:44 (Very Good+)
BWC Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Xander Cooper © defeats Darrell Allen and Zack Gibson when he pins Gibson after stealing the pin from Allen @ 13:43 (Good)
Main Event: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff: Nathan Cruz wins 4 way elimination match @ 26:04, last pinning ‘Party’ Marty Scurll with a sliding dropkick to side of head (El Ligero eliminated @ 15:16 via sliding dropkick from Cruz. Mike Mason eliminated @ 15:53 via roll-up by Marty Scurll) (Very Good)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
The biggest issue I feel is the venue itself. It does not translate well to video. Thankfully, it would get better I hear. But as I mentioned at the top of the review, when half the ring is in darkness, that’s a problem.
Another issue that I had is lack of knowledge on competitors. Yes, there were people I knew. Colt Cabana, Zach Sabre Jr., Marty Scurll, Noam Dar and Zack Gibson being the main ones. But of a 11 man roster, that’s less then half that I’ve previously heard of. Granted, the idea was to have PROGRESS focus on the future of British and not be a super Indy. I get that, but a few more big names for the debut at least (like they way they used Cabana) wouldn’t have hurt.
Jim Smallman has done a wonderful job for himself with where PROGRESS has gotten to. The one thing Jim Smallman should not be allowed to do ever again is commentary by himself. He has a few moments here and there, but by and large, the commentary is a major turn off. Unnecessary shots at big name talent, general indifference to what’s going on in the ring and worst of all, not being able to even hear anything Smallman is saying hurts the show from a audio prospective.
Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. does not disappoint. I raved and raved about it during the review, so I won’t do so again here. The main event is a very strong match once we get past the brawling throughout the arena. Fun for the fans in the crowd? Sure but there were those who were complaining about the lack of visibility. Fun for the guy at home with a Roku remote in his hand? Not so much. The triple threat match for the ‘students’ is actually pretty good as well and a fun story was told by it.
They knew they had to crown a champion and they did so in the very first show. A lot of companies make the mistake of postponing the crowning of a champion and it leads to drops in attendance because you don’t know who the marquee attraction of the promotion is going to be. Here, going into Chapter Two, you have a champion people will pay to see get beaten and a probable challenger that the fans will be willing to pay to see win the title. It’s brilliant marketing.
Overall, a pretty fun little debut for the company that would end up taking British wrestling by storm. PROGRESS would obviously have things that would need to be worked on, as I addressed above. But where does that leave us? Well, it leaves me looking forward to going back to check out Chapter Two. It hopefully leaves you willing to come back and check out the show in question here to see if you agree or disagree with me. It leaves PROGRESS at the start of it’s path to being one of the, if not thee, driving force in the resurrection of the British Indy wrestling scene. Finally, it also leaves me needing something to eat. It’s been a long review.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Without a doubt, it’s a match and it’ll be the Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. match. Honorably mention to ‘Nazi Staff’ chant which drew a legit chuckle.
Worst match/moment: Moment here and it’s the setup. The lighting and the design of the arena was just awful. Made especially difficult with the opening to the main event.
MVP: I’m going to ‘Party’ Marty Scurll here. Despite the fact that he doesn’t walk out with the title, he stands out as the clear #1 guy for the company going forward. In addition, he was involved in both of the best matches on the show.
FINAL SCORE: 6.5/10
Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Catch you all for Chapter Two.
Chairshot Classics: 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)
Chairshot Classics: WWE Fastlane 2015 – Reigns vs. Bryan
Looking back at WWE Fastlane 2015 with Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan!
Eric brings you the details of WWE Fastlane 2015 in this edition of Chairshot Classics!
Open: A video talking about destinations and the Road To WrestleMania, highlighting the rivalries between Bryan/Reigns, Cena/Rusev and HHH/Sting.
Match #1: Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan & Ryback vs. Big Show, Kane & “Mr. Money In The Bank” Seth Rollins w/J&J Security
A clip from last Thursday’s Smackdown, which led up to this 6 man tag. Ziggler & Rollins kick it off, with Rollins leading the charge until Dolph gets a roll-up for a quick 2, goes for a superkick and Rollins ducks out for a breather. Crowd chants “You Sold Out” at Rollins. Rollins with a quick edge, thwarted by a Ziggler dropkick and he tags Rowan who overpowers Rollins. Rowan ducks a kick and gets a pumphandle backbreaker, followed by an elbow for 2. Rollins is able to worm away to his corner and tag Kane. Rowan with a body slam, leg drop and 2nd rope back elbow, but is pushed in the wrong part of town and Big Show tags.
Show unloads in the corner, catches a boot from Rowan, but Show sends Rowan to the outside. Show out after him gets pushed into the ring post, J&J approach but get scared off by Rowan, who then goes for a heel kick, Show moves and Rowan’s leg hits the post. Show works over the injured leg and makes the tag to Kane, who follows suit before making a tag to Rollins. Rollins hits a 2nd rope blockbuster for a near fall and then brings back Big Show. Show continues to punish the leg, goes for a Chokeslam, but is countered into a DDT. Show tags Rollins, who cheap shots Ziggler in the corner, but turns around into a heel kick by Rowan using the bad leg.
Rowan is finally able to crawl over and tag Ryback, who goes to work on Rollins with heavy offense. Rollins rolls away from a splash and goes for the Curb Stomp, but gets caught into a powerbomb. Ryback sets-up for the Meat Hook, but Kane slides in and ends up taking it. Rollins misses a move off the distraction, Ryback goes for Shell Shocked, then J&J Security hit the apron giving Rollins the chance for a roll-up that gets 2, immediately followed by a head kick for another near fall. Rollins to the top for a flying knee, Ryback ducks it but takes a kick on the other side. Rollins goes for another 2nd rope blockbuster and gets caught in Shell Shocked.
Show hits the ring and splashes Ryback and quickly rolls back out. Ziggler & Kane gets tags, Ziggler dropkicks Show on the apron, Kane looks for a Chokeslam that gets reversed and Kane is pushed into Show, knocking him to the floor. Jumping DDT by Ziggler for a near fall. Dolph goes for a Fameasser and gets caught in a side slam, countered and Ziggler with a superkick. Rollins tries to get in the ring and takes a Fameasser, then Dolph mounts Kane in the corner. Show hits Ziggler with a WMD from the outside and Kane covers to grab the win.
Winners: Big Show, Kane & Seth Rollins (Kane/Interference)
- After The Bell: The Authority celebrates in the ring and Rollins delivers a Curb Stomp to Ziggler. Ryback & Rowan come in, but the numbers game is too much for them. Ryback takes a Chokeslam and Rowan eats a Curb Stomp. They set Ryback up for a Curb Stomp, but out comes the returning Randy Orton, who proceeds to clean house. Noble suffers an RKO and Mercury gets caught coming off the 2nd rope with another. Rollins takes a kick trying to get in the ring with the briefcase and Orton sets him up for the IEDDT, but Big Show grabs Rollins from behind and saves him. Orton hits Kane with an RKO as Rollins retreats through the crowd and leaves the arena.
- EA’s Take: You had to figure it was about time for Orton to return, as he was never originally scheduled to be off for that long. The match itself was decent with the pace really picking up when Ziggler & Rollins would get in the ring, as you would expect. Rowan is in a really unusual state right now. He’s just not clicking as a face with the fans, as he continues to get little to no reaction. Unless you watch Smackdown, then he’s as popular as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Hopefully now we can see Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan go do something else, they need to get away from this Authority angle already.
Video: Reviewing the dissolution of the tag team and “cosmic” brothers, Gold & Stardust.
Backstage: In the locker room is Goldust. In walks his father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He talks about Dustin doing what he has to do, but not hurting his brother in the process. Goldust says tonight he’s not facing Cody and he has to beat Stardust so bad that he will never want to wear paint again. “Tonight, I’m not leaving that ring until I bring my brother Cody home.”
Match #2: Stardust vs. Goldust
They lock-up and Goldust back Stardust into the corner, tries to clean break and Stardust with a couple shoves. Lock-up again and Stardust backs Goldust up, pushes him again and then receives a slap in return that makes Stardust rethink his approach. Crowd chants “Cody” to Stardust’s extreme disdain. We get a nice back and forth, with neither man getting an edge until Stardust is arm dragged into a corner. More loud “Cody” chants. They go back at it with more back and forth, both men posturing until Goldust gets Stardust set-up for the Director’s Cut, but Stardust slips to the outside. Dusty Rhodes is shown watching on a monitor backstage.
Stardust tries for a running bulldog that gets countered into a backbreaker, Goldust follows up with a clothesline that dumps Stardust back outside. The “Cody” chants seem to be getting to Stardust. Both men are able to hit duck-under strikes, Goldust sets-up Stardust for Shattered Dreams, but he slips out onto the apron. Stardust goes for a sunset flip, but Goldust moves and heads to the 2nd rope and Stardust gets the boot up in the mid-section. Stardust goes to work on the boot, spilling Goldust to the outside and battering him into the ring apron before rolling him back inside and punishing Goldust’s torso. Stardust with a front suplex and an arrogant cover that gets 2.
Stardust just continues going to work on the rib area. Goldust misses a springboard back elbow, Stardust sets-up for Cross Rhodes, but Goldust counters into a roll-up and gets a very shaky 3 count.
Winner: Goldust (Roll-Up)
- After The Bell: Stardust looks stunned about the end of the match. Goldust implores Stardust to shake his hand, Stardust grabs it quickly and rolls out of the ring, still looking in shock from the outcome.
- EA’s Take: Really an odd ending because of the count. Was it supposed to go that way? It almost seemed like it was meant to be part of the story with the way Stardust was reacting. I’d expect this to continue on into a match at WrestleMania for Goldust’s farewell.
Video: Seth Rollins from Monday Night Raw last week, referencing that he could host The Daily Show better than Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart has a few choice words for Rollins and then Rollins has a retort, and invites Stewart to show up at Fastlane.
Backstage: Dusty Rhodes and Goldust are talking about the previous match when Stardust walks up and says it looks like a family reunion, but they forgot to invite him. Stardust asks Goldust if he thinks they’re done and ambushes him, beating him down. Dusty implores Stardust to stop, calling him ‘Cody’. Stardust tells Dusty that he killed Cody, by sending him “this bag of bones” and that he is no longer living in Dusty’s shadow.
Match #3 For The WWE Tag Team Championships: WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) w/Naomi vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro w/Natalya
Video of the dinner between Kidd/Natalya and Jimmy/Naomi from Smackdown 3 weeks ago. Kidd & Jey begin with Jey getting the upper-hand after a flying forearm and a slam, then a tag to Jimmy. Double team move now, a combo backbreaker/top rope forearm gets a 2 count. Jimmy with heavy chops and he hits a corkscrew senton from the top for a near fall. Kidd backs Jimmy in for a tag to Cesaro, shoots Jimmy in and runs him into Cesarom Jimmy counters but Cesaro chops the leg. Jimmy tries to fight out of the wrong corner, Kidd gets a tag and langs Jimmy’s leg across the ropes.
Kidd works the leg and makes a tag to Cesaro, for more of that same prescription. Cesaro with a one-legged big swing into a single leg crab, Kidd tags and hits a slingshot leg drop for a count of 2. Kidd continues to work the leg, wrapping it on the ring apron, but Jimmy gets himself a small window of opportunity. Cesaro rolls kid back inside and gets the tag as Jimmy reaches Jey, who hits a flurry of moves exclamated by a Samoan drop. He lines up for the Umaga Hip Attack, but Kidd is on the apron with a distraction that allows Cesaro to get a roll-up for 2. Jey with an enzuigiri and this time connects on the Umaga Hip Attack, but Cesaro is out at 2. Jey ascends the turnbuckle, but Cesaro hits the ropes which crotches Jey.
Kidd makes a tag, Cesaro hits the Swiss Superplex and Kidd follows with a springboard elbow drop that nearly wins them the titles. Kidd wants the Sharpshooter, counter by Jey, Kidd hits the apron and gets a roll-up on Jey, but Jimmy made a blind tag. Uso’s hit Alley Us and Jimmy covers, but Cesaro breaks it at 2 and pulls Kidd to the outside. Jimmy eats a kick from Kidd and Jey with an outside dive onto Cesaro. Kidd takes out Jey with a kick and here comes Jimmy who misses a baseball slide, then counters a kick from Kidd to a Samoan drop into the barricade. Jimmy rolls in Kidd and heads to the top, Cesaro’s distraction on the apron is thwarted and Jimmy goes for the Samoan Splash.
Kidd gets the knees up and rolls Jimmy into a cover for a near fall, then locks Jimmy in the Sharpshooter. Jey breaks it up with a kick to the back of the head, Cesaro in now and they brawl to the outside as Jimmy crawls to a cover that’s only good for 2. Cesaro rolls Jey into the ring which distracts the ref, then swallows a kick from Jimmy. Kidd capitalizes on the distraction and hits the swinging fisherman neckbreaker to capture the gold.
Winners and New WWE Tag Team Champions: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (Kidd/Swinging Fisherman Neckbreaker)
- EA’s Take: Lillian Garcia – “Here are your winners and still….the new WWE Tag Team Champions…”. Why in the BLUE HELL did they let Justin Roberts walk again? Anyway, this was yet another example of why The Uso’s are the best tag team in the business. Not to discredit Kidd & Cesaro because they are great too and I like the different paths they could take with them going forward in terms of challengers. There’s a bunch of babyface teams right now with the breakup of Gold & Stardust and the eventual split of The Miz & Damien Mizdow. Add to that the recent call-up of Kalisto to add The Lucha Dragons into the mix.
Video: Triple H talking about his allegiance to WWE, 2 weeks ago on Raw and what has led up to Triple H calling him out for tonight.
In The Ring: It’s time for that confrontation and here comes Triple H, who is wearing street clothes and not his usual suit. Triple H talks about last week on Raw, when he was confronted by Ric Flair about Sting and how he regrets losing his cool and apologized to Flair, but doesn’t apologize for what he said about Sting. He says he is not standing in the ring as the COO, but as the heartbeat of WWE, The Game, The King of Kings and “Sting, I am waiting for you!”. He makes Triple H think about it for a moment and finally “The Vigilante” Sting makes his way to the ring. HHH says that they are past pleasantries and cuts right to the chase, he knows why Sting is here and isn’t mad about it, but feels sorry for him.
HHH says Sting backed the wrong horse by being undyingly loyal to WCW, but he respects that Sting “went down with the ship”. HHH says that guys like himself made that ship go down and he knows Sting came for him because without HHH & Stephanie the “WWE dies.”, but Sting failed and that’s what Sting does. HHH offers to let Sting have his legacy back and wants to do what’s best for business by putting all this behind them and doing business with Sting. All Sting has to do is walk away and HHH promises to make Sting bigger than ever by putting out DVD’s, action figures, loads of merchandise and possibly someday get him a Hall of Fame induction. Sting still says nothing and HHH takes his coat off and says the other option is the hard way, where he will beat the legacy out of Sting and he’ll be carried out and his legacy erased.
HHH says the choice is Sting’s, but he still doesn’t respond. HHH says he can tell by the look in Sting’s eye, he’s already made up his mind and tries to sucker punch Sting. Sting sees it coming and attacks The Game, but is hit by the microphone and HHH takes over. HHH beats down Sting, yelling at him “I gave you a chance!”, before rolling to the outside and grabbing his trusty sledgehammer. Sting pulls a baseball bat out of his jacket and catches HHH under the chin with it, pushing him into the corner until HHH drops the sledgehammer outside. He backs off and points to the WrestleMania sign with the bat, HHH tries to sneak attack, but gets pushed back into the corner and Sting points to the sign again. This time HHH agrees, Sting pushes HHH back again, points to the sign once more and begins to make his exit. HHH comes up from behind, but takes a ball-bat to the gut and receives a Scorpion Death Drop before Sting leaves.
- EA’s Take: Seems like they are paying homage to the Sting/nWo storyline here a bit, with The Authority playing the nWo role. Loved this segment, Sting didn’t have to speak to get his point across. I’m not sure the WCW vs. WWE part of the story is really something that needs to be played up as much as they have been, but they ultimately need to talk about Sting’s history for the younger crowd to really understand the mark he’s made in the industry.
Backstage: We see Daniel Bryan preparing for his match with Roman Reigns later tonight.
Video: Recap of the Kickoff Show, where The Miz’s guest on Miz TV was Paul Heyman. Heyman says it doesn’t matter who wins tonight, Bryan or Reigns because they will lose to Brock Lesnar and we can “believe that”.
Match #4 For The WWE Divas Championship: Paige vs. WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella w/Brie Bella
Video of 3 weeks ago on Raw when The Bella’s sprayed Paige with tanner, then last week when they stole her ring gear and Paige had to wrestle in Rosebud attire. According to Lillian Garcia, Nikki is the Women’s Champion. Brawl to start and Nikki rolls out of the ring, Paige after her with Brie standing in the way, Paige catches Nikki in the ring, then goes for the knees on the apron that is countered and Paige spills to the floor. Nikki sends Paige into the apron and barricade, then back in the ring for a 1 count. Nikki grounds Paige and hits an Alabama Slam for a count of 2. Nikki continues to control until Paige gets in a kick, goes for a roll-up into the bottom turnbuckle, Nikki botches it. Paige with a series of clotheslines and a dropkick for 2.
Nikki ducks a kick into a roll-up that gets 2. Paige connects with the kick this time for another near fall. Paige sets-up for RamPaige, Nikki counters to a facebuster, but Paige retorts with a side kick and crawls into a count of 2. Nikki is caught climbing up top, she counters Paige into a powerbomb for 2. Paige is able to set for the PTO, but Nikki gets the ropes before Paige fully locks it in. Nikki grabs Paige’s tights and hauls her face-first into the turnbuckle, then rolls her up and grabs the tights again for the win.
Winner and STILL WWE Divas Champion: Nikki Bella (Roll-Up)
- EA’s Take: If this is headed in the direction that I think it is, which is the return of AJ Lee to help Paige…then shouldn’t Brie have gotten involved to help Nikki win? Maybe AJ is not the plan after all.
Match #5 For The WWE Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett
Clip of last Monday’s Raw, when Ambrose zip-tied Barrett to the ring post and forced him to sign the contract for an IC Title match. Both men connect with strikes, trying to prove who’s tougher, Ambrose with the advantage hits a crossbody and some rights, Barrett avoids a clothesline and ducks outside to regroup. Barrett back in, still can’t solve the puzzle of Ambrose, absorbs punishment until he catches Ambrose on the top with a big boot. Barrett sends Ambrose face-first into the steel steps before rolling him in and now he punishes Ambrose in the corner and grounds him. Ambrose gets a couple strikes in, but runs into Barrett’s boot and to the outside.
Barrett throws Ambrose in the ring, but he counters with a variation of the pendulum clothesline on the outside. Inside they go and Ambrose hits a tornado DDT and they double down. Ambrose is on fire now with a series of strikes and a running bulldog, he goes to the top, hops Barrett and rolls through. Barrett looks for Winds Of Change, Ambrose reverses into a roll-up for 2. Ambrose delivers a dropkick and a top rope diving elbow for a near fall. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds, countered into Wasteland, Ambrose gets out and takes a kick, springs off for a pendulum clothesline again countered and Barrett hits Wasteland for 2.
Barrett sets his sights on a Bullhammer, Ambrose into a roll-up for 2 and then hits with the pendulum clothesline and Barrett rolls outside. Barrett grabs his title and tries to leave, but Ambrose with a suicide dive. Barrett tries escaping through the crowd, but Ambrose gets him back in the ring. Barrett tries to crawl out again, Ambrose catches him and delivers a beat down in the ropes. Ambrose doesn’t break on the refs count and the ref calls for the bell.
Winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: Bad News Barrett (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: Ambrose hits Barrett with Dirty Deeds, goes to leave, then comes back in and grabs the IC Title.
- EA’s Take: This was one of the more predictable finishes of the night, as its been rumored that they’re penciled in to go 1-1 at WrestleMania. Decent match that did what it needed to do and advanced the story and rivalry between Ambrose & Barrett.
In The Ring: The Undertaker’s druids come out carrying torches to a spiritual chant. Taker’s music hits and out comes 2 more druids, pushing a casket down the aisle and up next to the ring. The casket opens to reveal…Bray Wyatt. Bray says there’s a wicked feeling in the air tonight. He talks about the first time he saw The Undertaker and how he feared him, but now he has become like everyone else, weak and broken with his soul lost. Bray says it’s time for Taker to go home. He knows he can hear him and he wants Taker to know he’s not afraid anymore. He is the new face of fear. “At WrestleMania, I will claim the soul of The Undertaker.”
- EA’s Take: Great way to keep the suspense of whether or not Undertaker will accept the challenge by Bray. I’d leave Taker off until WrestleMania or perhaps even the Raw before. Bray Wyatt is pure gold and doesn’t need Taker to appear to make this feud interesting. Wyatt is a perfect example of someone when they’re firing on all cylinders.
Panel: Renee Young and the rest of the Kickoff panel offer their thoughts on what just happened with Bray Wyatt. Booker T, Corey Graves & Byron Saxton recap the nights events.
Video: The buildup between John Cena and Rusev, leading up to their match tonight for the United States Championship.
Match #6 For The WWE United States Championship: John Cena vs. WWE United States Champion Rusev w/Lana
They feel each other out and circle around, Cena floors Rusev with a right and grabs a headlock. Rusev with a big kick for 2, then begins to dominate Cena with strikes in the corner. Cena fights back and shoots Rusev in, but falls victim to a spinning heel kick and a count of 2, then goes back to beating Cena down. Rusev grabs another near fall off a corner avalanche, Cena’s out on the apron and Rusev drives him off into the barricase, rolls him in for a cover and gets 2. Rusev gets distracted by the crowd and hits a dropkick for 2, only to have the favor returned by Rusev for 2 as well.
Cena gets a short burst of energy and takes Rusev down, raining fists, hits a shoulder tackle off the rope, goes for another and gets caught in a fallaway slam. Rusev really in control and gets 2 off multiple elbow drops. Cena uses Rusev to get to his feet and throws some gut shots, whip into the corner and runs into a back elbow, before being grounded by Rusev again. Cena powers out of the hold and takes a kick, Rusev goes for a suplex and Cena reverses, then hits a big clothesline for a count of 2. Cena tries the AA, Rusev counters into a DDT for a 2 count. Splashes in the corner by Rusev only get another 2 and Rusev shows signs of frustration. Cena shows signs of life and makes the comeback, hitting the 5 Knuckle Shuffle and going for an AA, Rusev pushes off and kicks Cena’s head off for another near fall.
Rusev tries to go for The Accolade, Cena counters to the STF, Rusev pushes off and hits a Gunnslinger that Rusev can’t believe doesn’t get 3. Rusev charges Cena and runs into a boot, Cena to the 2nd rope hits a tornado DDT, Rusev kicks out at 2. They slug it out in the middle of the ring, Cena looks AA again, Rusev goes for another Gunnslinger, but Cena turns it into a crossface. Rusev just powers out of the hold and hits an Alabama Slam, Cena kicks after a 2 count. Rusev attempts The Accolade once more, Cena catches his foot and gets him in the STF, but Rusev makes it to the ropes. Cena sets for an AA, Rusev is out with an elbow then a kick, looks for another superkick and this time Cena connects on the AA, but still can’t get a 3 count.
Cena climbs to the top and goes for the leg drop, Rusev catches him into a powerbomb and immediately locks in The Accolade. Cena breaks the grip a couple times and is finally able to get to his feet with Rusev on his back. Lana enters the ring and distracts the ref, Rusev with a low blow and then a kick to the face. He slaps The Accolade on again and Cena passes out.
Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion: Rusev (The Accolade)
- After The Bell: Trainers check on John Cena, who is still unconscious, face down in the ring. Rusev & Lana celebrate and the Russian flag drops behind them. Cena starts to come-to, but has trouble getting to his feet. He fights off help and heads to the back.
- EA’s Take: Really liking the mid-card title scene since some of the bigger names have been getting involved. Both the IC & US titles have been begging for a revival and these kinds of feuds will do that. Lana’s interference allows for a logical reason to have the rematch at Mania, which is where this is headed. Hopefully, more layers can be added to the story to keep it interesting until then.
Panel: Back to the Kickoff Panel to recap the night before heading to the main event.
Video: The rising tension between Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns, as they vie for a spot in the main event at WrestleMania.
Match #7 – Winner Gets WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match At WrestleMania: Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
They posture, lock up and break clean. Dueling Bryan & Reigns chants. They posture, lock-up and break again. Both men still trying to feel each other out, Bryan gains a headlock, Reigns powers out and reverses, catching Bryan with a shoulder, Bryan comes back with a roll-up for 2. Bryan catches Roman’s legs and attempts a surfboard, but Reigns powers out, leading Bryan to ponder his next move. Bryan kicks at Reigns, but is overpowered. Bryan flips over Reigns and hits the ropes, Reigns with a tilt-a-whirl slam, then clotheslines Reigns to the outside. Reigns follows him and viciously attacks Bryan using the barricade.
Bryan catches Reigns with a kick back in the ring, trying to cut Reigns down at the legs. Reigns breaks a submission with heavy rights, slingshots Bryan across the top, hits a Samoan drop and a flying clothesline. He charges Bryan, but Bryan with a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle. Bryan charges and is hammered with a big clothesline that turns Bryan inside-out for a count of 2. Reigns hits rolling suplexes and his signature apron dropkick, then sets-up the Superman Punch. Bryan counters with a kick and tries to take advantage, but the ref is checking on Reigns to see if he can continue. The match goes on and Bryan works the mid-section, the same area that Reigns had hernia surgery months before. Cormer dropkicks precede a top rope hurricanrana attempt by Bryan, countered by Reigns into a powerbomb for a near fall.
Reigns crushes Bryan with clotheslines in the corner, props him up top, but Bryan counters and seats Reigns on the turnbuckle. Bryan lands a top rope back suplex that only gets 2. Bryan gets the Yes Lock, but Reigns drags him to the ropes and rolls outside. Bryan hits on 2 suicide dives, goes for a third and is caught into an overhead belly to belly on the floor. Reigns has Bryan in his crosshairs for a Spear, but Bryan side swipes him into the steel steps. Both men struggle to reach the ring before the count of 10, but do. Bryan comes off the top and is caught with a Superman Punch for 2. Reigns tries a Spear and Bryan catches him in a roll-up for a near fall. Bryan with a big kick, and then connects with Knee Plus, but Reigns kicks at 2.
Reigns on his knees and Bryan goes back to the kicks, tries for a head kick, but Reigns catches the leg. Bryan slaps Reigns and snatches the arm, worming down to the mat into the Yes Lock. Reigns finally powers out and mounts Bryan, hammering down with big forearms. Bryan grabs a triangle choke, Reigns is able to lift him up and slam him to break. They double down and then get into a striking contest on the mat, Bryan to his feet and hits the big head kick before setting up for Knee Plus again. Bryan charges and Reigns catches him with a Spear to get the victory.
Winner: Roman Reigns (Spear)
- After The Bell: Both men are in the ring, spent. Bryan grabs Reigns and turns him arounf. Face to face, Bryan tells Reigns he better win at WrestleMania and then offers his hand. Roman takes it and then celebrates.
- EA’s Take: Excellent main event match that exceeded my expectations. Easily, the best match of Roman Reigns’ career. A lot of people will attribute that to working with Bryan, but Reigns really answered the call and brought it. Bryan was the perfect opponent to get Reigns ready for Lesnar. Bryan is a very physical wrestler and working that style with Reigns can only help him going into an even more physical opponent, in Brock Lesnar.
EA’s Finisher: Overall a much better show than I was anticipating. I half-went in thinking most of the finishes would be DQ’s or count-outs so they could build to rematches at WrestleMania. Have to give WWE credit for coming up with alternatives as they could easily have taken that route, especially since this is free trial month and a lot of people are probably not paying anything for this. Bryan/Reigns exceeded all expectations I had and I applaud WWE for sticking to the plan this time around and not giving in to all the post-Rumble noise. Bryan can help out in other ways without being involved in the title picture right now. Doesn’t mean he’s out of it forever. Storylines for WrestleMania became a lot clearer, with Randy Orton returning for revenge on Seth Rollins. Cena never tapped to Rusev, so that will continue. Sting & HHH are already official for the big show and as an admitted Sting mark, I for one couldn’t be more pumped (eventhough that has been the direction since Survivor Series). Also, good to see Tyson Kidd & Cesaro putting themselves on the map. I really like the tandem, especially now that Kidd actually has developed a character to go along with the tremendous in-ring skills we all knew he had. Maybe he can pull Cesaro’s out too. Great segment by Bray Wyatt, which has to ultimately lead to The Undertaker accepting the challenge. Why else would they put the thought in our heads if it wasn’t going to happen?
Top Three To Watch
1 – Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
2 – Rusev vs. John Cena
3 – The Usos vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
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