WILLIAM EAVER PROMO - I'm not really sure what he was talking about, but people were treating him like a joke, so I shall as well.
TIMOTHY THATCHER vs. WILLIAMS EAVER - 5/10
Eaver was substituting for the injured Tyler Bate. The original idea was obviously to have Bate, who unsuccessfully challenged WALTER in the main event of Chapter 76 to now be starting at the bottom, wrestling in the opener of Chapter 77, but also against WALTER's RingKampf tag team partner Timothy Thatcher, for some nice artsy mirroring.
Now obviously I don't think Bate's injury was a work because false advertising should be avoided at all costs, and the aforementioned mirroring makes too much sense, but if there was ever a show where Bate missing it with an injury would be able to add in some way, it was this one. You see, the reason Bate challenged WALTER for the title at the previous show was because the man who was originally scheduled to do so, Zack Sabre Jr., got pulled by New Japan. Zack won that title shot by winning the Strong Style Sixteen tournament. In the finals of that tournament, Zack defeat Kassius Ohno, who had been inserted back into the tournament after Tyler Bate had to pull out with an injury after night two. Thus, Bate getting the shot at the previous show in place of Zack is almost like treating Bate as an alternate potential winner because he was never eliminated from the tournament via losing, and Bate having to pull out via injury on the show where Zack finally does get his title shot can be used to refresh that idea in the viewers' minds. And before you think I'm going off on a crazy-person tangent, during the main event the announcers did specifically note that it would be interesting to see Zack and Bate fight it out to determine who really "would have" won Strong Style Sixteen, so that is a match they might well be building to.
ISLA DAWN vs. MILLIE MCKENZIE - 6.5/10
I hadn't even heard of Isla Dawn before the Mae Young Classic and now she's popping up everywhere I look. Must be witchcraft. She's a good person to book on your Halloween show, but oh my G-d will someone please buy this woman a pointy hat? I know she says she's a "modern day" witch, but they wore them in Harry Potter and that's modern day as well.
These two women had a really great match for the time they were given. I make the witch jokes about Isla Dawn because... well, how could you not? But this was the first time I really enjoyed her as a worker. He showed a nice arsenal of strikes, suplexes and submissions that all mesh well to attack an opponent's head. The story these two told was that Isla not only worked on Millie's head, but was able to prevent Suplex Millie from throwing any of her trademark suplexes. Unfortunately the match came to a premature end with Lauri Di Matteo and Jinny ran in and attacked both ladies for the double DQ. Another reason to hate Jinny.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Very good. The heels destroyed the babyface and began to celebrate, but were attacked from behind by Charlie Morgan & Nina Samuels, who are apparently unhappy that Jinny insinuated over social media that she no longer needed them now that she had the gigantic Di Matteo back on her side. Jinny and Laura managed to knock the former House of Couture off the apron with one big simultaneous forearm each, but were then nailed with simultaneous German Suplexes by Millie McKenzie and Isla Dawn. We ended with Isla and Millie shaking hands while the announcers noted that there seems to have been a "reshuffle" of the women's division. I would quite like to see Dawn vs. McKenzie rematch.
PROGRESS ATLAS TITLE MATCH:
Trent Seven(c) vs. Gino Gambino - 6.75/10
They did some comedy in the beginning which wasn't too bad. Then they had a "throw each other around" match. Seven's back got worked over but he came back and got the win. This was the best I have ever seen Gino Gambino look.
PROGRESS TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Aussie Open vs. Grizzled Young Veterans vs. The 198 - 9/10
Consider this show officially stolen. My interest in the tag division had been rapidly evaporating all year, with GYV in particular being a team I had just ceased caring for, but this match won me back in one fell swoop. Of course, the moment they finally had me saying, "you know what? They were right not to break GYV up yet. These guys really are still awesome together," Gibson accidentally hit Drake in the head with a chair, so I guess that storyline will continue. But holy sh*t you need to go watch this match because it ROCKED. Aussie Open in particular seem to be making a real push for the (to my knowledge) non-existent Most Improved Tag Team of the Year award, but based on their performance this year, I wouldn't mind seeing someone make one just for them.
EDDIE DENNIS PROMO - Weird. Basically, Eddie's tone is that of a heel, but all of the things he says make me feel like he should be a big babyface. He talks about the crazy year he has had and how dedicated to wrestling he has been and says he'll be the next PROGRESS World Champion.
PAUL ROBINSON vs. MARK ANDREWS - 6.5/10
I guess this Paul Robinson return to the ring is more than just a limited-time thing as a way to plug the hole that was left when New Japan pulled Will Ospreay from the Wembley show. Robinson won, with the announcers choosing to focus on the idea that Andrews has lost his killer instinct after his big loss to Eddie Dennis in the blow-off of their year-long feud at Wembley.
PROGRESS WORLD TITLE #1 CONTENDERSHIP MATCH:
Jimmy Havoc vs. Chris Brookes vs. Mark Haskins (w/Vicky Haskins) - 7/10
At one point after Havoc and Haskins had a big hockey fight spot and both went down, Vicky Haskins handed her husband the usual baseball bat covered in barbed wire. Then she went over and handed Havoc his axe. Why is she giving Havoc a murder weapon to use against her husband?
They swung and missed a few times, then Chris Brookes nailed them both with a missile dropkick, saving us from anyone DYING VIA AXE. Then Havoc and Haskins started working together to beat up Brookes. I'm fine with tag team partners fighting, but I just don't see how you can start to work with each other again after a someone swings a f*cking MURDER WEAPON at you.
As you can tell, the story of the majority of this match was the relationship between Havoc and Haskins, with them working together and then fighting and then working together again, and with Brookes clearly understanding that he was outnumbered two to one and had to think of this like a handicap situation rather than a regular three-way. While this would have made for a fine story, it is very much dragged down in my opinion by all of that stuff with the weapons. Getting punched by your buddy but still being able to work with him is one thing. Getting a f*cking AXE SWUNG AT YOUR HEAD is another thing entirely.
Towards the end, Havoc was able to hit a double Acid Rainmaker, but was then attacked by Drew Parker. Parker beat the crap out of Havoc and dragged him backstage. Haskins seemed like he was going to help but this distraction allowed Brookes to roll him up for a nearfall, so he realized he had to keep wrestling instead of going to help Havoc.
Parker's history with Havoc is that he defeated him in a no DQs match at Chapter 73: Fourth Shade of Green, but then offered himself up as a sacrifice to Havoc (meaning HE WANTED HAVOC TO CUT HIS HEAD OFF WITH AN AXE) to encourage Havoc to become the Jimmy Havoc of old for his upcoming final confrontation against Will Ospreay. Havoc has been on something of a downward slide since then, and anyone crazy enough to want you to cut his/her head off for your own good certainly seems crazy enough to think that you losing after being stopped from doing so has somehow disrespected him/her and attack you because of it, so I liked this a lot. It's a good way to elevate Drew Parker, Havoc has a built-in goal here of defeating Parker to reclaim his deathmatch street cred, as he lost to Parker at Chapter 73, and there is even a built-in face turn for Parker afterwards by showing Havoc respect at the end, a la Colt Cabana vs. Homicide. It also keeps alive a little theme I've noticed here of Havoc getting screwed by interference in matches where if he won he would have had a title shot (first at Chapter 75, and now here tonight), so that also sets up a story about him eventually earning a title shot.
Speaking of earning a title shot, it was Haskins who would eventually do so in this match, making Brookes tap out to the Sharpshooter. I'd be very interested to know what Jimmy Havoc's thoughts on this development are, seeing a title shot snatched from his grasp by an interloper yet again, only for his tag team partner and apparently also sometimes mortal enemy Mark Haskins to wind up with it.
MARK HASKINS PROMO - Awesome pro-PROGRESS patriotic babyface promo
PROGRESS WORLD TITLE MATCH:
WALTER(c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. - 9.25/10
Yes, they each worked on a body part (WALTER's arm, Zack's neck), but really the best way to describe this is that it's Zack vs. WALTER. There is a magic there that always makes this match-up so intense and so special and so different from anything else.
An AWESOME show from PROGRESS. Everything was at least solid for the time it got, storylines were moved forwards, and the two title matches delivered big time. It's hard to ask for more.