Having finally decided to subscribe to Demand PROGRESS, it’s quickly apparent that there’s plenty to watch, including shows from other companies around the world. Where to begin? Well, with a random act of PROGRESS, where I’ll pick a show at random to review.
So, for my first review of a PROGRESS show for Steel Chair Magazine, and as the main event had been much talked about online, here’s Live at the Dome from 14th March 2018.
The Business Sid Scala vs Chuck Mambo
Hailing from Canary Wharf and looking every bit the banker, The Business Sid Scala is certainly a different persona to the more familiar Savvy Sid character and one that will hopefully be seen elsewhere. Scala has been working across the UK for five years, is in far better shape than he ever needed to be in for the Savvy character and has a fine-tuned awareness, both technically and as a character. The Business is serious about the business.
Chuck Mambo is a product of the former ProJo and it shows. A larger than life character, he’s a goofball of the highest order, and he makes everything he does work. The fans love him and so they should as he’s improved in front of them over the past couple of years.
Whilst Scala may be an impressive technical performer, it’s his arrogance and aggression that makes him one to watch in this match. No-nonsense ferocity against Mambo’s flamboyance and instant likeability. That’s not to say that Scala isn’t without flair and some of his in-ring dexterity certainly shows why he deserves to be pursued all over British wrestling.
Skirting close to breaking the rules, with increasing levels of anger, it’s Scala’s arrogance that, in the end, proves to be his downfall, with Mambo scoring the victory.
M & M vs Screwface & Gavin Lewis
Screwface and Gavin Lewis make their PROGRESS Wrestling debuts against the popular Mayhew & Mills. Lewis and Screwface have intensity in common and it’s clear why Lewis has a bright future. Known as “The Hellhound”, Lewis is something of a pitbull in the ring whilst Screwface has a style that can only be borne of 15 years in wrestling
Maverick Mayhew and Conner Mills – M&M – are a pair of young gun, highfliers. It’s a combination that’s been seen before and there’s something very YOLO Squad about them. Full of youthful enthusiasm, they’re a spectacle to watch as they dart around the ring; what they lack in the physical presence, they make up for in speed and tenacity.
M&M are a relatively new team, Dahlia Black comments that they’ve been together for two years, and there’s no doubt that they’re on the right path to achieve success, especially in front of the PROGRESS fans, as long as they continue to develop their skills. Gavin Lewis definitely has huge potential, diminutive in stature, it’s in his aggression that he truly shines, whilst Screwface’s debut in PROGRESS has been a long time coming and he should be a regular fixture in, at the very least, Live at The Dome.
Finding an opportunity, M&M get the upper hand a display of aerial acrobatics that sees Mills pin Lewis for the win.
Rampage Brown vs Roy Johnson – Number one contender’s match for the Atlas Championship
Rampage Brown is nothing short of a force of nature in the ring and the PROGRESS fans love him for it. With years of experience in the ring, Brown is, quite rightly, a master of his art and widely held in high regard. He’s one of the most intimidating men in the ring, a true powerhouse, heavyweight, made for the Atlas Division.
Big Wavy Roy Johnson is dwarfed by Brown in stature and experience and, at times, it shows. That’s not a bad thing; every match is a chance to learn and there’s little doubt that Johnson has the size, strength and skill to become a showpiece in British wrestling, honing his skills with each encounter and learning form the best.
From the moment that this match was announced, it was going to be a one-sided affair. After the early smiles, it becomes something that we know Rampage Brown so well for; a brutal encounter with only one possible outcome, with a spike piledriver leaving Johnson defeated.
Rob Lynch vs The Primate
In what would be one of The Primate’s final matches, we get another example of why he was a standout performer across the UK for much of his career. Trained by Rampage Brown and Screwface, it was clear that, from the very first second you saw him, he’s taken every lesson to heart and learnt so much.
The Battle Tested Rob Lynch returns to PROGRESS and proves his heavyweight credentials once more. A hard hitter who can’t half shift, Lynch’s new persona gives him an opportunity to display an intense side to himself that will surely fit in with the Atlas division in the future.
Underneath the displays of brutal efficiency, both men indulge in moments of humour, tempered by their love of violence. It’s a shame that, at the point, we won’t see a rematch.
An angered Primate may have dominated Lynch for much of the match, but threatening the referee was the mistake that cost Primate the match with a spear from Lynch.
After the match, Lynch gets a microphone and reflects on his eight months away and sets his sights on the Atlas title.
NSD & Candyfloss vs CBC & Chakara
Craft Beating Company – Kyle Ashmore and Matt Walters – come to the ring drinking craft beer, whilst Chakara slinkily stalks her way to the ring. Ashmore has spent a lot of time in British wrestling and CBC is the latest chance for him to catch lightning in a bottle, whilst Chakara has found herself a home in PROGRESS women’s division. It’s certainly a team of mixed potential.
A relatively new tag team, Never Say Die – Alex Cupid and Dillon D’Angelo – team with Candyfloss and may be making flat caps cool again. The three of them are the highlight of this match, working well together and with an inate sense of their own abilities. There’s no beer for this mixed tag-team, there are, however, sweets. From the second they make their entrances, though, they’re instantly likeable.
Contested under “Midweek Madness Relaxed Rules”, this isn’t the most serious of encounters and all NSD and CBC definitely embrace that. This is a match that won’t impress those that hate flippy guys – it embraces silly moves and spectacle and is a showcase for Never Say Die.
In the end, after much chaos, Chakara pins Candyfloss for the win.
Spike Trivet vs Drew Parker
Trivet looks and acts exactly how you would expect someone of privilege to act, just with less regard for his own safety. He exudes confidence and its all well deserved. It’s in his sadism that Trivet excels – seeing him staple money to Parker before ripping it out will make you wince. It’s a moment with a mirror, however, that will be what this match is remembered for.
The Urchin Prince Drew Parker is arguably a phenomenon in British wrestling. A highly talented wrestler in his own right with a look that must leave some of his contemporaries envious, he’s developed a penchant for no-DQ, hardcore wrestling that has let out a violent side and he does it all with a smile. He’s already reaping the rewards from this talent, having been announced for CZW’s Tournament of Death recently.
Drawing pins, chairs and metal dustbins, it’s all what you’d expect from a no DQ hardcore match, but this one raises the bar with a riding crop, meat tenderiser, bottle and the aforementioned mirror all playing a part. There’s innovative work here, though it won’t win over those who dislike this kind of match. Ignore the blood and you’ve got two great performers in the ring together.
The end of a feud that had really started with Trivet smashing a bottle over Parker’s head, this match raises the bar for no-DQ matches, which is quite an achievement given PROGRESS history. Both men put everything they’ve got into a main event that was truly worthy of praise, with medical attention and stitches needed afterwards.
To call Live at the Dome a “B-show” would be doing it a disservice. The only things separating this from being a “main show” is that it doesn’t have a Chapter number and the talent are much more varied – it’s a perfect way to test out new names as well as bring in established and PROGRESS up-and-comers in front of a very enthusiastic audience. The talent work hard to put on matches that are impressive, with some of the talent still finding their feet in front of one of the most respected companies in British wrestling. There was a lot of good stuff in Live at the Dome, much of it worthy of highlight reels, but kudos should go to Parker and Trivet for giving fans at The Dome a match that would have been equally as well received on a larger stage.
Dahlia Black and Glen Joseph make a very good commentary team, knowledgeable and gregarious in nature. They focus on the action and often voice become the voice of the viewer as they share the shock, awe and horror of what we’re watching. The commentary isn’t family friendly, though neither is the show – huge respect to both commentators, with Joseph doubling as the ring announcer, giving Black even more time to shine.