PROGRESS Wrestling returns to Manchester, England, as Trent Seven and Tyler Bate defend their Tag Team Championship against War Machine. With their match at Alexandra Palace less than two months away, Travis Banks and Pete Dunne get to choose each others opponents, with Dunne choosing Matt Riddle for Banks, and Banks selecting welshman Eddie Dennis for Dunne…
Dave Mastiff & El Ligero (“Banter Edition”)
Aaron Solow & Ricky Starks (“Extra Talent-ed”)
Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos (“CCK”)
(Winners via pinfall: CCK)
(Winner via pinfall: Tyson T-Bone)
Toni Storm (C)
Laura Di Matteo
PROGRESS Women’s Championship
(Winner via pinfall: Toni Storm)
(Winner via pinfall: Matt Riddle)
(Winner via pinfall: Jack Sexsmith)
(Winner via pinfall: Pete Dunne)
Trent Seven & Tyler Bate (“British Strong Style”)
Raymond Rowe & Hanson (“War Machine”)
PROGRESS Tag Team Championship
(Winners via pinfall: British Strong Style)
PROGRESS Wrestling‘s Vote Pies, otherwise known as Chapter 52, was their first ever show I was able to attend. I spent Sunday 23rd July 2017 mostly travelling on trains, as I made my way to Manchester for the big event. I didn’t particularly care about the early start I had that day, or the late finish. I didn’t even care about the extortionate Uber fair I had to pay to get home, as trains from Central to my home had long stopped by the time I was back in Wales. Why didn’t I care? Because, as we all know, PROGRESS is fucking awesome and it’s even better in person.
Firstly, the rumours about the queues starting early are all true. I never had any reason to doubt the stories about long queues already forming hours before doors open, so I made sure I got to the O2 Ritz as soon as the British train service would allow me. If you’re planning a trip to a PROGRESS show, be sure to allow time for joining those damn impressive lines of people.
Secondly, the fans are incredible. I went to this show alone, and by sheer chance found myself behind two people in the queue who had O2 priority tickets, which meant they would get early access as soon as doors were due to open, and they could take a couple people in with them. I never asked for that perk, but they offered it to me, and so began a 5-6 hour day of wrestling with two incredibly nice and friendly people that I had never previously met. Thankfully I only had one pint, rather than the many alcoholic beverages that turned me into a complete camera hogging nightmare at other 2017 events (looking at you, Blackpool and Norwich), so I don’t think I was all that unbearable for them.
I had the opportunity to meet Eddie Dennis when I entered the venue, and we had a quick chat about our hometown (we both hail from Swansea, although I don’t advertise that fact quite as much as Mr. Dennis does!). I quickly spotted British Strong Style over the other side of the venue, and as you can imagine there was quite a line for their merch already, and they hadn’t even started letting everyone in yet! It was great to get a chance to meet Bate, as I’d met Dunne previously, and had encountered Trent on a few occasions too (which included tagging along with him and the other ICW crew for many alcoholic beverages following ICW Pray for Mojo). I’d ticked British Strong Style off my list, and the show hadn’t even started yet!
I could write for days and days about my experience at Vote Pies, but I’m going to reign in it now. What I will say is that the atmosphere was incredible, and my view was superb.
As far as the show itself, Vote Pies continued to add to several of the storylines that are building up towards September’s Alexandra Palace show. Pete Dunne and Travis Banks, who will main event that show in a PROGRESS World Championship match, had a little more heat added to their feud when Dunne caused a distraction that led to Banks losing his superb contest with Matt Riddle (who is so fucking great in person, both at wrestling and in conversation after the show). Duane’s match with Eddie Dennis really bloody surprised me too, as I hadn’t expected such a good match from the two. Maybe I should start giving Dennis more credit, even if I’m not a huge fan of his current look? Great guy though, either way!
The biggest surprise was the order of the card. I was sure that the final half would be Banks/Riddle, Storm/Di Matteo, and BSS/War Machine. When the first two showed up in the first half of the show, I had a feeling that something big must have been expected from the four way match, and the Dunne/Dennis bout, and I wasn’t wrong. PROGRESS got the order of the card perfect, and it was an order I never would’ve thought up myself. That’s why they put on the shows, and we go to them as spectators, folks!
The finish to the opening match certainly killed the crowd for a little while, which meant that the noise didn’t really get going again until the second half of the Women’s Championship match. That match, by the way, was very good. I’ve often thought Laura Di Matteo was a bit rough to watch, but damn, can’t fault her attitude and commitment – she looked damn legit in person. And I love Toni Storm, so it was wonderful to see her live for the first time.
If you didn’t mark out the moment Travis Banks kicked out at one, then you don’t like wrestling. Go watch something else. What a fucking match.
The main event was great fun, and whilst there was some silliness, it was perfectly mixed in with what was a hard-hitting and competitive wrestling match. Tyler Bate and Trent Seven are wonderful heels, and they were perfect opponents for the super serious War Machine. I won’t lie, it felt damn good to see those IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship belts in person – big New Japan Pro-Wrestling fan here.
I’ll wrap up this rather poorly structured attempt at a review with a few words about my experience after the show. Firstly, Jim Smallman and Glen Joseph were wonderful to speak to, and their passion for their promotion was there to see. Secondly, Matt Riddle was fucking great. Somehow, I ended up with no one behind me for the longest time, so was able to chat to him for a bit longer than I expected, and that guy is literally what you see on television, folks. So cool, so chilled, so Bro.
A great show to attend, and as a televised event it played back damn good too. We’re on the Road to Ally Pally, and I can’t wait to see the final twists and turns that PROGRESS have planned. Without question, this is my favourite wrestling promotion currently, and one could make a good argument for them being called the best wrestling promotion in the world right now.
Match of the Night
Matt Riddle vs. Travis Banks