This weekend’s doubleheader was the first two shows since the company celebrated its 10th Anniversary and the first since the end of the handover period to the new ownership. The main attraction of the pair of shows is a tournament to crown a new Atlas Champion. That title was once considered almost as important as the world title and the field assembled for the tournament is a strong one. There are also a number of other attractions, although unfortunately, Jonathan Gresham had to pull out last minute, meaning his planned matches have been postponed. On show one there are three first-round matches, with the other having been held in DEFY over in Canada, and shown on the big screen pre-show.
Rather than being at PROGRESS’s traditional home of the Electric Ballroom this weekend was moved to the Dome in Tufnell Park, a much smaller venue but one that guaranteed the crowd would still produce a decent atmosphere. Simon Miller is our ring announcer, managing not to fall over whilst getting in the ring despite warning us it might happen, having recently broken his hand.
Atlas Title Tournament | 1st Round Match | Axel Tischer vs Warren Banks
Banks could be the Progress champion right now if it weren’t for the betrayal of Lykos Gym but he has the chance to refocus on the Atlas title against a dangerous opponent in Axel Tischer, making his PROGRESS debut. This was a very athletic contest that showed off that both men might firmly fit into the Atlas division but that doesn’t mean they can’t move with surprising speed when needed. Banks had the crowd firmly behind him and Tischer did a good job of playing up to this, doing the Ringkampf pose and mouthing off at the more vocal Banks’ fans. In the end, Banks picked up the win to keep up his strong record in 2022. They showed one another respect after the match, which was a good way to kick off the weekend.
We had an early interruption to the in-ring action with an appearance by Spike Trivet. He mocked Cara Noir after his assault on Noir at Chapter 131, waving Noir’s mask around like a trophy and generally being a dick. The lights went down at one point, only for it to be revealed as a troll by Trivet. Great heel work as always from the ‘Tory wanker’.
Singles Match | Laura Di Matteo vs Rhio
These two faced off at Chapter 131 as part of the four-way where Di Matteo became the number one contender but Rhio has been on a good run herself and definitely posed a threat to Di Matteo’s status. There was some chatter online about how PROGRESS ‘always’ has women’s matches second, something that hasn’t been regularly true for a while, after all, something has to be second and if it’s a women’s match, it doesn’t mean that match is being relegated. The crowd was fairly split, as was the match, neither wrestler having control for too much. Di Matteo picked up the win with a piledriver to continue her path towards Gisele Shaw and the Women’s title.
Tag-Team Match | Mercedez Blaze & Taonga vs The Royal Aces (Charlie Morgan & Jetta)
The Royal Aces make their Chapter debut for a rematch with their ‘Who Run The World?’ opponents Taonga and Blaze, who has been on a decent run recently with two wins in the 10th anniversary week. The face/heel dynamic was very well defined between these four, the Royal Aces are genuinely likable and both Blaze and Taonga have the kind of presence that always brings a reaction, simple but effective antagonism. The match itself suffered at one or two points from some sloppiness but the story carried the action, so it kept being entertaining. Taonga and Blaze had a miscommunication at the end which let the Royal Aces pick up the win. Now, these teams are 1-1 in recent matches, a rubber match looks likely.
Atlas Title Tournament | 1st Round Match | Ricky Shane Page vs Joe Hendry vs Will Kroos (Santos Jr. as special outside enforcer)
The first-round match with the most moving parts, and the main event of the first half. Not only was the match made a three-way with the addition of Will Kroos, but there was also the presence of Santos Jr. as an outside enforcer at ringside. Santos got a great reaction when he appeared and didn’t overshadow the in-ring action despite getting involved towards the end. Hendry was going to treat the crowd to one of his custom entrances but didn’t get the silence he desired so instead came out to silence, wearing headphones to listen to his own music. A nice twist on his usual clever entrances. There was plenty of action once the bell rang, both Kroos and Page can do things that men of their size shouldn’t be able to do. Kroos got a big moment on his company debut by eliminating Hendry before he was felled by RSP after a very entertaining mini-match between the two. This was a good example of the varied nature the Atlas division can have going forward, these three look like an odd match-up on paper but gelling very well in reality.
During the interval Hendry attacked Kroos at the merchandise table, only to be run off by Tischer making the save, setting up something more down the line.
Singles Match | Chris Ridgeway vs Kid Lykos
This was originally due to be a rematch between Ridgeway and Jonathan Gresham, this time with Gresham’s PROGRESS title on the line, but unfortunately, Gresham was injured in AEW and couldn’t make the trip, so the match was changed to Ridgeway vs Lykos. Anyone who has seen their previous singles match will know they have strong chemistry, and that Lykos can more than hold his own in singles competition. Ridgeway was his usual physical self, striking and stretching Lykos almost at will, although Lykos was able to keep fighting. Ridgeway had come out alone, but Lykos was accompanied by Lykos II, something that eventually backfired as Ridgeway was able to use the younger Lykos as a weapon to further target the ankle of Lykos and force him to submit. It might have been a late change but it was an entertaining match.
Singles Match | Sky Smitson vs Alexxis Falcon
A quick turnaround since these two women fell out at Chapter 131, with Smitson attacking Falcon after they both competed in the opening four-way. The switch by Smitson to a darker and angrier character suits her against Falcon and there was a lot of well-defined heat in this match. This felt more like a brawl than the other match featuring members of that four-way. This suited the story and meant that the end of the match, a double count-out after they fought to the outside, didn’t feel like much of a disappointment. Their story has been heated enough that it deserves another chapter if you’ll pardon the expression.
Atlas Title Tournament | 1st Round Match | Big Damo vs Luke Jacobs
Big Damo has returned to the independent scene with a vengeance but comes up against a man well versed in Progress. This was probably the most intriguing first-round contest, with either result giving fans a big insight into the future direction of this division, particularly with how they use Jacobs as a young up and comer. This was a physical match with Jacobs in a rare underdog role as the slightly smaller man. Nothing fancy here, just two very hard-hitting guys doing their best to overpower the other. Very enjoyable action before Jacobs picked up a bit of an upset win. Damo shook the younger man’s hand and told him he better win the tournament in a nice show of respect.
Main Event | PROGRESS Tag Team Title Match | The 0121 vs Sunshine Machine
Another part rematch from Chapter 131 as the final two teams from the tag title gauntlet match go up against each other once again. The 0121 winning that match felt like a pleasant surprise in the face of Sunshine Machine’s long journey to the top but another match between them will be a true test of the champions’ credentials. The mini-match between these two teams back at Chapter 131 was a barn burner and a full two-on-two match looks set to surpass that.
When the two teams were finally in the ring there were dueling chants from the crowd that went on for over 5 minutes, both teams playing to the crowd well to keep it going. The action was typically quick and fluid from two teams who are experienced as partners. Moloney looked to pick up a knock at one point, and disappeared for a long while in the middle of the match, leaving DeReiss to do a good job of fighting alone. Moloney did make his way back after a while and it was he who picked up the win with his Drilla Killa piledriver on Mambo. The 0121 continue their reign and Sunshine Machine continue their long road, despite being two of the longest-tenured members of the roster, neither has won a title, surely it will come eventually but the story continues.
Overall this was a very fun show that established some new names, either debuts or people early in their run in the company. The tournament matches had a good share of surprise results and strong matches. The attendance will have been a disappointment but reports of PROGRESS’s death are greatly exaggerated. Now on to Chapter 133.