PROGRESS Wrestling enters a new era, as Travis Banks defends his PROGRESS World Championship for the first time, whilst new stars look to make an impact. Pete Dunne addresses his future…
Alex Cupid & Dillon D’Angelo (“Never Say Die”) & Connor Mills
Kyle Fletcher & Matt Davis (“Aussie Open”) & Omari
(Winners via pinfall: Aussie Open & Omari)
(Winner via referee stoppage: Strangler Davis)
Chris Brookes & Jimmy Havoc (with Lykos)
Zack Gibson & James Drake (“Grizzled Young Veterans”)
(Winners via pinfall: Grizzled Young Veterans)
PROGRESS Atlas Championship
(Winner via pinfall: WALTER)
Tyler Bate & Trent Seven (“British Strong Style”)
Jack Sexsmith & David Starr (“Sexy Starr”)
(Winners via pinfall: British Strong Style)
Toni Storm (C)
PROGRESS Women’s Championship
(Winner via pinfall: Toni Storm)
Travis Banks (C)
PROGRESS World Championship
(Winner via pinfall: Travis Banks)
After a long seven week absence, PROGRESS Wrestling returned to the Electric Ballroom with a show that honoured its own recent history, whilst looking ahead to its future. Faces who will be future big names in this company either debuted, or began cementing their place on the roster, whilst some old heads reminded us that they are still around, and have no intention of leaving.
One person who may be leaving is Pete Dunne. In truth, we were about as unsure of his future following his opening promo as we were before it. The clear indication, from Dunne’s own words, rumours, and the fact WWEShop.com have just put out a tshirt for him, is that Pete Dunne will soon be relocating to Florida for NXT. Why WWE would take only him, and not names such as Mark Andrews and Tyler Bate is a mystery, but the latter appear to be focused on their UK bookings for the time being.
Dunne’s apology for his heel antics whilst champion was hilarious, and there was a genuine sense of relief amongst the crowd when they realised they could now cheer for British Strong Style. It was a humorous face turn, and I certainly am happy to know that I can honestly just enjoy watching the current best faction in world wrestling now, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to miss them as bad guys. They’ve dominated the UK indies in 2017, and it feels like the scene as a whole will suffer from them making this turn. Here’s hoping there’s still room for them to be their villainess selves at some other promotions.
The appearance of Joseph Conners appears to have divided some fans, but I’m interested in seeing what his long term purpose is in the company. Conners had one of the best WWE matches of 2017 when he faced then-UK Champion Tyler Bate in Norwich. The match was never televised, but rest assured in the knowledge that it’s somewhere in WWE’s tape library and will wow audiences whenever it finally sees the light of day.
Following Dunne’s potential farewell, La Danse Macabre delivered a solid wrestling show from top to bottom. Every match felt like it served a purpose, be it to debut a new wrestler, develop new storylines, or even see out or continue old ones.
Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins forming a legitimate alliance was a pleasant surprise, but even better was the Ballroom’s reaction to it. Without question, Havoc is a fan favourite amongst PROGRESS fans, and despite his famous heel run in the company, he’s very much been at the level of a legend, where no matter what he does, the crowd simply won’t hate him anymore. I don’t even think Haskins was meant to be the bad guy in his feud with Havoc this past summer, but Havoc’s relationship with the crowd made him one. So, when Havoc joined in the beatdown of everyone’s favourite pansexual superstar (Jack Sexsmith), it was definitely up in the air as to how the crowd would receive it. Would they do what WWE crowds do nowadays, and cheer the beatdown of the good guy? Or would they start hurling abuse and obscenities at Havoc and his new ally?
Thankfully, the Ballroom crowd played their role perfectly, understanding exactly what was expected of them, and delivering it. Certainly wasn’t long before they were calling Haskins and Havoc a pair of “c*nts,” anyway. Or maybe that was just me…
Notable shout out to Wolfgang, who delivered a match that fitted very well within the PROGRESS “style.” Given he’s started his PROGRESS career with a championship match, it’s hard to see where he moves to from this, but given he has already been announced for Enter Smiling (Chapter 57), one must assume there’s a grand plan for him.
I thought that Charli Evans really went for it in her match with current PROGRESS Women’s Champion, Toni Storm. Interestingly, Storm has been getting more and more aggressive in her matches, and whilst I suspect it’s likely just an evolution of her ring style, a small part of me wonders if we are seeing a slight persona change for the fan favourite, perhaps to soften the blow of a future title drop to another babyface? It seems unlikely, particularly given all signs seem to point to a Jinny win at some point soon, but it’s a thought nonetheless.
Our main event saw Travis Banks defend his championship for the first time. Given how long PROGRESS were building to his win at Chase the Sun, it seemed unlikely he’d lose the strap at the first opportunity, but it certainly would have been a pleasant surprise! That said, Banks looks like a man ready to deliver in his role at the top of the company, and that’s the kind of thing that makes the guys and girls on the British independent scene so damn likeable: they love what they do, and take it incredibly serious.
Keith Lee is a beast. I’ve enjoyed him from the first moment I saw him in EVOLVE Wrestling, and watching his reputation grow on the international scene has been delightful. His tours to the United Kingdom have seen him become a top target for bookers, and I can only imagine that an extended stay over in our fine country would see him earn a lot of money, and a fair few championships.
Truthfully, the outcome here was very predictable, but both men gave us a match that absolutely deserved its place at the top of the card. A clean win for Banks was nice to see, even if it was somewhat surprising on a show full of numerous new angles being set up. At this point, there is no clear direction for Banks’ title run beyond beating those who beat him on the way to his title win, but perhaps that is enough for now? If he keeps putting on quality main events, I’m happy to wait a little longer for his future nemesis to reveal himself.
Full credit goes to the producers and talent involved in La Danse Macabre. It had a tough job, but it did it well, and truly did feel like a fresh start whilst still being the same PROGRESS we all know and love.
Match of the Night
Travis Banks vs. Keith Lee