PROGRESS Chapter 1: In The Beginning

PROGRESS Chapter 1: In The Beginning

By Big Red Machine
From March 25, 2012

PROGRESS Chapter 1: In The Beginning
Welcome back to BRM’s Monthly “This Day in Wrestling History” Review Series. Two years ago this month I started this adventure mostly by accident when I wanted to put out a review of ROH Dragon Gate Challenge II- the ROH show with the best reputation that I had not seen yet- on the ten-year anniversary of that show taking place. From that humble beginning I now find myself with a schedule mostly booked up through 2021, trying to fairly juggle attention between promotions and even which day of the month I pick a show from, while also trying to use this as an excuse to force myself to watch some of the DVDs that have been sitting on my shelves for close to a decade now, and thinking up these elaborate introductions and clever outros to tease the next month’s review every month. I do these things because I am a crazy person, but sometimes I long for those days when this project had not grown completely out of control. And that wistfulness has led me to decide that we will use this month to look at the humble beginnings of the UK’s biggest independent promotion, PROGRESS. So here were go… PROGRESS Chapter 1: In The Beginning…

JIM SMALLMAN HAS HAIR! And he’s not wasting time talking for ten minutes before every match!

Noam Dar vs. El Ligero - 7.5/10

A brief picture-in-picture promo from Noam Dar popped up onto the screen to tell us that he is from Scotland and going to beat El Ligero and become the PROGRESS Champion tonight. It’s really amazing how far technology and graphics and video quality and all of that stuff has come in the past eight years.

The match itself was a GREAT babyface vs. heel opener with Dar working over El Ligero’s knee. Dar was perfectly dislikable without really cheating, and Liger sold well and was an all-around excellent babyface. This is the kind of match you want to have to kick your promotion off.

Nathan Cruz vs. Colossus Kennedy - 6.25/20

Okay… the picture-in-picture promos should not be happening while the match is going on. You should not be giving fans something that distracts them from the in-ring action.

This match was another babyface vs. heel match with the heel working the knee. Unlike Dar, though, Cruz did not wrestle cleanly here at all. He was faced with a much bigger opponent, so he cheated quite a bit. Colossus Kennedy sold very well, which I was not expecting from a big man.

Colt Cabana vs. Mike Mason (w/Becky James) - DUD!

Yeah… comedy with a dude turning into a dog and biting the referee’s crotch because Cabana stuffed a tennis ball in there is not something that you should be doing in the tournament to crown your first-ever champion. This match was a perfect example of why you can’t switch back and forth from comedy that requires the wrestles to be working together to serious fighting and back again.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Marty Scurll - 8/10

Oh my G-d these guys look SOOOOO young. Especially clean-shaven Marty. And thank G-d that Marty eventually discovered his villainous side, because this “Party” Marty Scurll persona was son generic it was painful to listen to his promo.

These two know each other very well and have GREAT chemistry, but you already knew that. They did an excellent job of telling the story of two tag team partners facing off in a singles match that got less and less friendly as time went on, without ever getting dirty.

Seeing these two guys so young and while they were still developing a lot of their stuff was very interesting. The finger-snap spot is actually a lot more palatable when they don’t go over the top with it. They treated it like it was just pressure and stress and moved on. They didn’t spend forever building it up and then another forever selling it in a dramatic fashion, and no one (not the wrestlers or the announcers) were trying to sell this to me like a broken finger that Zack would then somehow wrestle the rest of the match with without a problem.

During this match they would occasionally cut to this floor-cam that was WAY too tight and whose picture quality looked like a VHS tape. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for why they would cut to it. On its own it was bad, but the fact that they cut to it for the finish- and as a result we couldn’t actually see if Zack’s shoulders had stayed down- made it even more annoying.

Xander Cooper(c) vs. Darrell Allen vs. Zack Gibson - 8/10

Speaking of people who looks insanely young… ZACK GIBSON. With hair on his head! He is completely unrecognizable. The match was a spotty, but it was that good kind of spotty where they give everything a chance to breath. It also benefits from being the first such match we’ve seen so far. It also contained an absolutely GENIUS twist on the spot where the wrestlers take turns following each other across the ring from corner to corner with big strikes, so it’s not like it was a bunch of mindless spots. Minds were definitely involved here.

El Ligero vs. Nathan Cruz vs. Marty Scurll vs. Mike Mason (w/Becky James) - 5/10

This is PROGRESS, so instead of a title belt, we’ve got a big giant staff with a golden eagle on top. It looks like something you’d see a Roman emperor carry in a movie, or maybe a Nazi leader in one of those movies where the Nazis are trying to summon demons. The fans noticed this similarity as well, and after Jim insists that he can’t be a Nazi because he’s from Leicester, he gets the fans to chant “F*CK OFF, HITLER!”
Some stuff happened, and the wrestlers soon began to brawl all around the room… where our cameras are incapable of following them, so unless you like looking at fans’ backs, this winds up being pretty boring for a while. They eventually did get a camera going, but it still wasn’t much to look at, as it was about ten minutes of 90% punch-kick.

They eventually get back to the ring, and three minutes later we’re down to two men left. Scurll and Cruz did some stuff for a while. Scurll got a visual pinfall but the ref was bumped. Six then ‘cheated” to get the advantage, although it’s a four-way so there aren’t count-outs or DQs and we saw the babyfaces using chairs earlier, so it’s hard to get angry at Cruz for doing it. Cruz eventually won, and then beat Scurll up with the Nazi championship staff just because.

Final Thoughts
This was a fine debut show for PROGRESS. Obviously, the weak main event is a major problem, but everything else was solid, the atmosphere was fun, the crowd was into, and PROGRESS definitely came off like a promotion you want to see more of. As a retrospective review series, I also feel obligated to point out that there is also a certain amount of fun in going back and watching guys we know now looking so young and different (especially Scurll and Gibson). We’ll try to make it two good shows in a row next month, when the show I’ve got lined up is one with a rather good reputation (albeit in something of a sad way).

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