After months of buildup, Chapter 55: Chase the Sun comes to Alexandra Palace, as Pete Dunne defends his PROGRESS World Championship against Super Strong Style 16 winner Travis Banks. In another hotly anticipated match, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate look to retain their PROGRESS Tag Team Championship against CCK in a Ladder Match…
Trent Seven & Tyler Bate (C) (“British Strong Style”)
Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos (“CCK”)
Ladder Match for the PROGRESS Tag Team Championship
(Winners after retrieving the championships: CCK)
Toni Storm (C)
PROGRESS Women’s Championship
(Winner via pinfall: Toni Storm)
Zack Sabre Jr.
ZSJ Open Challenge Match
(Winner via pinfall: Zack Sabre Jr)
(Winner via pinfall: Jimmy Havoc)
Matt Riddle (C)
PROGRESS Atlas Championship
(Winner via pinfall: WALTER)
vs. Zack Gibson
vs. Jack Sexsmith
vs. Chief Deputy Dunne
vs. Strangler Davis
vs. Eddie Dennis
vs. Mark Andrews
vs. Flash Morgan Webster
#1 Contender Match for PROGRESS World Championship
(Winner via pinfall: Mark Andrews)
Pete Dunne (C)
PROGRESS World Championship
(Winner via pinfall: Travis Banks)
Approximately 2000 fans descended upon Alexandra Palace for what was the biggest show in the history of PROGRESS Wrestling. With three times their usual number of fans in attendance, a reputation that has grown exponentially in 2017, and a roster of wrestlers who have actually started to become household names in the world of wrestling, nothing the company had ever done was as big as this. That will of course change in September 2018, however!
I’m lucky enough to have been in the crowd for this show, although my decision to go came quite late in the game, meaning I ended up in the lowest ticket pricing zone so was slightly further away from the ring. As a result, my current thoughts on the show, and particularly match ratings, are based entirely on that live experience and not on the tapes version of the show that will be available within the next week. I have a feeling that some match ratings will in fact go upwards once I’ve seen them close up, but at this time, I’m happy with my feelings towards the matches.
For me, the ladder match never quite delivered in a way that I expected. Like everything on this show, it was still good wrestling, but when you consider how insanely good their match was at Chapter 50, then this never quite hit those heights. Watching Trent Seven slowly scale that small ladder was worth the entire ticket price admission alone, by the way.
The women’s title match was a nice match, if a little short. Five more minutes would have been nice, but it was still very strong for what it was, and I can now absolutely confirm in writing that I am on the Dahlia Black bandwagon. From her look, to her in-ring abilities, to her storytelling abilities… it’s all starting to click, and I had the opportunity to meet her about an hour after this match and she was both funny and delightful.
Toni Storm is my favourite female wrestler in the world at this time, and I love the legitimacy that she is bringing to the PROGRESS Women’s Championship with each new opponent she overcomes, but I’m enjoying what they’re doing with Dahlia right now, particularly with the post-match beatdown that saw Jinny take her out and go for her previously injured ankle. Storylines, ladies and gentlemen, and I love it.
Marty Scurll’s unannounced return to PROGRESS generated a huge pop from the crowd, who quickly found themselves booing him when he attacked Zack Sabre Jr. during the introductions. Given I was wearing a “Cheer Faces, Boo Heels” t-shirt, a rule that PROGRESS fans generally always follow, I was slightly annoyed to hear some fans cheering on Scurll during the match given he was clearly filling the role of the Big Bad, but he’s somewhat of a legend in these parts so it’s to be expected that not everyone would be able to bring themselves to boo him.
The match between Scurll and Zack Sabre Jr. was one of the best of the night, and I’m always surpised at how much fun these guys can clearly have in the ring with each other despite their countless head-to-heads in their respective careers. As you’d expect, it was a very technical affair with the obligatory ZSJ match requirements of painful-looking submission holds, and the biggest surprise was that Scurll lost upon his return, but that soon made sense when he took the microphone to confirm that he was officially now leaving PROGRESS for a long while and just wanted to say thanks to the fans. It was an opportunity for fans and wrestler to show appreciation for each other in a way that has previously not been done with Scurll, and had been something of an unfinished piece of business between the two. Delighted to tick off seeing ZSJ and Marty Scurll in person from my list too, most of all!
A week or so ago, I wrote on this website of how Jimmy Havoc’s gimmick really worked for me, but that his hardcore matches just didn’t appeal to me and what I wanted from my wrestling in 2017. Those things are still true, but after watching his deathmatch with Mark Haskins in person, I’m feeling like a bit of an idiot, because it was brilliant to watch and one of the best matches of the night.
Havoc was over with the 2,000-strong crowd, and Haskins was very much the shunned man. Presumably, Haskins’ in-match heel turn was planned, and it remains to be seen as to whether that remains anything other than an in-match story development rather than a complete change in his character moving forward, but given it took place in front of a crowd that really weren’t on his side, it felt perfect. Mrs Haskins often gets a cheer in PROGRESS, but she didn’t here, particularly when she presented her husband with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire.
There was so much happening in this match, a lot of it impossible to see clearly from my location, but what was visible was intense and compelling, and the perfect match to come from their rivalry that has been built slowly since Super Strong Style 16 2017. I can’t wait to watch this back and see if it actually steals the “Match of the Night” honour from a different match on this show.
I was a big supporter of Timothy Thatcher’s presence in the PROGRESS Atlas Championship match, and went as far as to predict he would win it, so I was disappointed by what felt like a third-wheel role for him in the three way with WALTER and Matt Riddle, at least in the second half of the match. This was a good match, and perhaps it will improve for me once I see the taped version, but I had expected a showstealer and this wasn’t that, in my opinion.
WALTER winning the title confirmed that Riddle’s defeat at Chapter 51 and win at PROGRESS: New York City was simply done for the big US pop, which is not a problem and that’s how the wrestling business operates, but I do hope WALTER is able to retain the championship for a few months now, if only to steady the ship as far as title changes are concerned in PROGRESS at the minute. Good performance from all three men, just felt this whole match had so much MORE it could do, but imagine having that be the only complaint!
How often do you see a wrestling company put on a multi-man match that comes off as just a way to get workers on a show, and to often cool the audience down from a big match previous, particularly when positioned second-to-last on the card? We see WWE give us such matches on a regular basis, with absolutely no heat and that do absolutely no favours for the competitors, and I recall Style Battle doing one in their first show that turned me off their entire brand. But not PROGRESS! No, PROGRESS apparently makes it the best match on the show.
I was worried about not being able to follow the action, but this was structured in such a way that everything was always on show, and chaos never seemed to take control in a manner that had you not sure which bit of the action to watch. There were some wonderful moments, from the four suplexes off the turnbuckles, to Flash Morgan Webster’s leap off the turnbuckle to the group of wrestlers at ringside, to Eddie Dennis throwing someone clean over that same corner onto some rather unfortunate would-be number one contenders.
When Mark Andrews won the match, I did feel somewhat underwhelmed as he appeared an unimaginative choice, but what followed was one of the best moments in professional wrestling in 2017. As we all sat there, watching Flash Morgan Webster tease a heel turn on his fellow Welshman, a turn that made perfect sense given how Webster has been portrayed in his recent 3-part documentary for PROGRESS, we let out a small sigh of relief and perhaps disappointment when it didn’t happen. But then, when everyone’s eyes were on the departing Webster at the entrance steps, Eddie Dennis appeared behind Andrews and wipe down out his tag team partner in a turn that absolutely shocked everyone in the building. PROGRESS and Eddie Dennis made a crowd of two thousand grown men and women genuinely scream in shock and horror at one man turning on his friend, and I’m not sure I’ve seen a heel turn done so masterfully to create such immediate and genuine hatred of someone as I have here. Certainly not as a 30+ year old man, who has seen a million turns in his adult life.
Dennis was amazing here, turning on the crowd in a way that suggests we are about to watch a glorious heel run from this man. The beer he knocked out of one fans hand seemed to fly to the back of the bloody arena, and one unfortunate soul ended up with Dennis’ snot all over his shirt apparently, which is somewhat disgusting but that’s the risk of putting yourself close to the action at ringside!
Another wonderful heel performance with this match was that of Zack Gibson and, by association, James Drake. I don’t have enough space here to write about how absolutely perfect their pre-match promo was. Gibson has so much heat on him, it’s wonderful. If this was a certain American promotion, fans would be cheering Gibson’s antics at this point because it’s supposedly cool to cheer for the bad guy who’s great at his job, but UK indie fans understand the role they play and are helping Gibson get more over and over as a villain which each show he does.
The main event, which saw the current top English villain Pete Dunne finally lose his PROGRESS World Championship, had a lot of hype surrounding it pre-match that perhaps suggested a different kind of match taking place to the one we got. What he had was something of a brawl, rather than a wrestling match, and a lot of referee bumps and interference, which did feel a bit overbooked by the end. Banks kicking out of about one million finishers certainly got the crowd to pop, but there were moments when one just thought that it was a bit ridiculous that he wasn’t being beaten. Just think, if he ever loses that title to a simple finisher or submission, it’s just going to risk looking a little silly given what he was able to survive in this particular match.
That said, I’m not complaining about any of that, just expressing some thoughts also highlighted by other fans post-show on social media. I personally completely understand the overbooking of some parts, because everything in PROGRESS has been building to that since British Strong Style began cheating their way to dominance over the company, and this is pro wrestling so it’s an unwritten rule that when they finally get their comeuppance, they ALL get it and their attempts to cause f*ckery again don’t work. That’s the story that was being told here, and I suspect that in hindsight it will go down as a wonderful match and moment in PROGRESS history.
The show came to an end with Travis Banks the new PROGRESS World Champion, and it certainly feel a like the company is moving into a new era. The shock announcement that they will run Wembley in September 2018 received the biggest pop of the night, and anyone saying they aren’t already excited for that event and match card is a liar. Before that though, probably another 20 shows, so best get excited for those first!
This was a great experience. I was with a wrestling fan who had never been to a live indie show, and he enjoyed himself incredibly, and I can’t say that it was reserved to just him. PROGRESS put on an event that each of the 2000 fans in attendance could enjoy, and if anyone claims otherwise then I suggest that they are hating just to hate. This was superb.
Special shoutout to the talents I met on the day, all of whom were first time meetings for myself. Flash Morgan Webster was a gentleman, and I honestly never expected to have an opportunity to meet Zack Sabre Jr. so I jumped at the opportunity to have a few moments with him to chat. T.K. Cooper was a trooper on merch, and I ended up seeing him three times as I went back at separate times in the night to meet the rest of SPPT to try and get my recently purchased photo of them signed by all three. Getting to meet Travis right after he’d won the championship was a great moment for me, and the poor guy was exhausted and well deserving of a beer whenever he was able to finally get backstage.
So that was Chase the Sun. My eye-witness experience will likely be significantly different to watching it back on Demand Progress, so I can’t wait to see this show again and just see how they captured what was a great live experience on tape. Oh, and I just want to rewatch some bloody good professional wrestling, to be honest!
Match of the Night
James Drake vs. Zack Gibson vs. Jack Sexsmith vs. Chief Deputy Dunne vs. Strangler Davis vs. Eddie Dennis vs. Mark Andrews vs. Flash Morgan Webster
Note: some of the matches above display match ratings that were altered after this review was published, following a viewing of the televised version of the show. Original ratings for those adjusted were:
British Strong Style vs. CCK (3.5)
Matt Riddle vs. WALTER vs. Timothy Thatcher (3.5)