Mark Andrews cashes in the world title match opportunity he won at PROGRESS: Chase the Sun, whilst Jack Sexsmith calls upon a mystery partner to help him take on the incredibly dangerous new team of Mark Haskins and Jimmy Havoc…
Jack Sexsmith & Matt Riddle
Jimmy Havoc & Mark Haskins (with Vicky Haskins)
(Winners via pinfall: Havoc & Haskins)
(Winner via pinfall: Joe Coffey)
(Winner via pinfall: Alex Windsor)
Trent Seven, Tyler Bate & Pete Dunne (“British Strong Style”)
Zack Gibson, James Drake and Joseph Conners
(Winners via disqualification: British Strong Style)
Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos (C) (“CCK”)
WALTER & Timothy Thatcher (“Ringkampf”)
PROGRESS Tag Team Championship
(Winners via pinfall: CCK)
Flash Morgan Webster
(Winner via pinfall: Keith Lee)
Travis Banks (C)
PROGRESS World Championship
(Winner via submission: Travis Banks)
There was something a little heartbreaking about watching this show. I was at the last show to take place in Manchester (PROGRESS Wrestling: Vote Pies), and it was a fantastic experience, so sitting at home watching this on television, seeing the same friendly faces I met earlier this year, stood in the same places I was stood with them… that hurt! Thankfully, I soon got over this tragedy thanks to the bloody wonderful three hours of wrestling that is PROGRESS Wrestling: Enter Smiling.
Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins, wonderful in their new heel roles (and let’s be honest, Havoc should always be a heel in PROGRESS), saw off the challenge of Jack Sexsmith and his mystery partner (Matt Riddle, making his return following his PROGRESS Atlas Championship loss at PROGRESS Wrestling: Chase the Sun). I am really enjoying Haskins and Havoc together, and I feel we have yet to even scratch the surface of what these two men will do together, with Vicky Haskins seemingly pulling the strings from afar. There is something incredibly unsettling about watching these two men make their entrance, and I like that. This match was a great opener, and I’m still wondering if I underscored it in my match rating, if I’m honest.
The tag team contest was followed up by a match that genuinely had me text a friend halfway through, saying “This Coffey/Williams match is a bit good, isn’t it?” That was underselling it. This was a last minute contest, following Wolfgang dropping out due to injury and Coffey stepping in, but would have stolen the show on many other nights. Big strong men, wrestling a big strong match. There was no stopping for air in this one, and both competitors surprised perhaps everyone in attendance. Joe Coffey, mere days away from headlining Insane Championship Wrestling‘s biggest show of the year, showed exactly why he should be a regular fixture in PROGRESS Wrestling in 2018, and Doug Williams proved yet again that he can still go (even if he himself showed self-doubt in his post-match promo).
The women’s four-way was an interesting one. It was a good match, as most women’s matches in PROGRESS are, but it was missing something. I think it was Jinny and Dahlia Black perhaps being gone from ringside for too long, leaving Alex Windsor and Candyfloss to wrestle their own match for the majority of the match (or it felt like that, at least). When Jinny and Dahlia went backstage to brawl, I would have loved the cameras to follow them. I think that would have been the missing ingredient here.
I was surprised to see Windsor pick up the win given she hasn’t done anything in PROGRESS for a while now, but with Jinny and Dahlia locked in their own feud right now, she was the only logical pick from the four women. Candyfloss is developing nicely, but she’s nowhere near a PROGRESS Women’s Championship shot at this time. Just to add, the Jinny/Dahlia rivalry has been superb, and I’m looking forward to seeing them beat the shit into each other at PROGRESS Wrestling: Live Your Best Life.
I still chuckle to myself when I remember that British Strong Style turned face not through some heroic actions in the ring, but through Dunne simply apologising for trying to murder people. Watching them now enjoy the adoration of the PROGRESS faithful is great fun, but very amusing given what the relationship was like between both only two shows ago.
Their match with Grizzled Young Veterans, joined by Joseph Conners (assuming he’s not a member, at this point), stole the show. The promo that preceded it, which saw Trent Seven at his very best, and scouser Zack Gibson boo’d gloriously by the Manchester crowd, was some of the best mic work I’ve seen in months. Pete Dunne’s unannounced appearance, making the save after Conners interfered in the tag match, got a huge pop made the atmosphere electric. It’s been fun hating British Strong Style in 2017, but its bloody fantastic to be allowed to cheer for them now, I won’t lie! I thought the DQ finish was disappointing, as DQ finishes often are when the ring action is as good as it was here, but it protected both teams and that’s what was most important here. A loss for GYV would’ve hurt their momentum, and BSS can’t afford to lose so early into their babyface run.
The PROGRESS Tag Team Championship match, pitting CCK against Ringkampf, was another highlight, but seemed to run short. An extra five minutes for this would have made a huge difference, but all four men still managed to put together a high-tempo and hard-hitting championship match that saw CCK successfully defend their titles for the first time. The Kid Lykos spots were funny, as he tried to hit some big moves on his even bigger opponents, and Thatcher and WALTER looked like beasts throughout. A disapproving look from WALTER following the loss suggests that he wasn’t impressed that he and Thatcher lost this one, so it will be interesting to see where this leaves the two Ringkampf members. Thatcher is a great talent, and would be a quality Atlas Champion for the company, so I’m secretly hoping that we are headed in that direction.
If Flash Morgan Webster and Keith Lee had faced each other in a WWE ring, it would have been a squash match that would have been over in less than three minutes. In a PROGRESS ring, both men were allowed the opportunity to take their time, and the result was a match that was exhausting for both, and even surprisingly competitive at times. This was David versus Goliath, and whilst the result wasn’t the same as in that old story, Flash Morgan Webster came out of the match looking incredibly strong in defeat. A Keith Lee loss was never on the cards, but I’m sure many people have watched this match and been very surprised by just how good it was. Flash Morgan Webster looked ready to drop dead at the end, so I don’t envision he’ll want a rematch any time soon…
The main event, often the spot in which we get the true show stealer at PROGRESS events, had a tough job and not much time to do it in. Some incredibly strong matches had come before it, and whilst this match did absolutely nothing wrong, it didn’t do enough to stand out from anything else on the card. Without question, there were some great moments and this was yet another strong match for Travis Banks, but it didn’t feel like it had the same amount of time a PROGRESS main event normally has. A stats expert would likely correct me on that, but everything here just felt a little bit rushed? Good match though, and I’m enjoying having a babyface champion at the top of the company. Which brings me onto Eddie Dennis, who closed the show with a beatdown of both Andrews and Banks, raising the PROGRESS Championship to a round of boo’s from the fans.
Dennis, someone who had never fully got over with me, is excelling in his current heel role. I’m loving everything he is doing, and can’t get enough of it. I’d love him to change his ring gear, which I suspect is already in his plans, but everything else is clicking in a way that is hard to describe. At this point, Dennis is looking like the next PROGRESS World Champion, and whilst I think it might be a bit soon for that, I can’t possibly argue with the decision should it happen at some point soon. If not Dennis, I’ve no idea who takes the strap from Banks, based on current storylines. Certainly can see Riddle having say in things at New Orleans though…
If PROGRESS Wrestling: La Danse Macabre was PROGRESS‘ soft return, Enter Smiling was its balls to the wall return to the norm. Seven matches that all added to the show, and not a single moment wasted throughout. This could have gone for four hours, and I wouldn’t have enjoyed it any less. This company are the best for in-ring action right across the card right now, and their current storytelling is bloody superb. This is the show to show your friends who perhaps have doubts about getting into non-WWE wrestling.
Top to bottom, superb.
Match of the Night
British Strong Style vs. Grizzled Young Vets & Joseph Conners