We’re stepping into the world of British professional wrestling for my next review as we take another look at the company that has become one of the most talked about brands in recent memory. The company in question is Progress Wrestling, and the DVD is the two disc Chapter Four: The Ballad of El Ligero.
Disc one began with tag team action as the London Riots, James Davis and Rob Lynch, took on Lee and Jim Hunter.
How best to describe the Hunter brothers for you? A decade ago I would have probably likened their gimmick to that of the Hardys, but these days I’d probably compare them to the Young Bucks of the Bravado Brothers, only with worse ring attire.
Clothing aside this was a pretty decent opener. It began with a mass brawl before the Riots spent the next five minutes or so taking young Jim apart. Lynch and Davis looked absolutely brutal at times, and I swear they’re getting better with each and every outing.
Eventually Jim managed to get the tag to his brother, signalling the start of the mass brawl. The brothers put together some good looking double team moves, but it was during these frantic exchanges that Lynch appeared to hurt his knee when he came down from the second rope. As the referee and the powers that be checked on his condition it looked like the end of the match, until Lynch suddenly sprang to his feet and joined his partner in attacking the brothers from behind.
Moments later it was all over as the Riots took one of the brothers down with the double powerbomb. The boys then took to the microphone to proclaim their greatness before they pushed a fan to the floor.
The singles action began with R.J. Singh, accompanied by his usual cronies, facing Paul Robinson.
This was good. Real good. From start to finish we were treated to an absolute ton of great fast paced action from two guys who were well suited to each other. It began with the man from Essex taking Singh down with a succession of lightning quick moves before the Bollywood star took the upper hand.
Robinson’s never say die attitude carried him through though and after the attempted interference from Singh’s entourage backfired he came close to getting the pin on numerous occasions, his best chance coming after he took Singh down with Slice Brad #2.
His next best chance came when he went for the 619, but with his director distracting the referee and his assistant shielding him from the blow Singh soon came back into the match, and when he applied the Ethnic Submission Robinson tapped him to give Singh the win.
Singh then stopped his boys from attacking Robinson before sending them to the back. He then surprised everyone by shaking Robinson’s hand, congratulating him on his performance.
Then it was on to the submission match between Jimmy Havoc and Noam Dar.
This was part of Havoc’s quest to prove that he was more than just a hardcore wrestler. Did he succeed? Well, almost.
This was a very entertaining encounter, with the crowds using various chants pertaining to Dar’s Scottish roots, which made this a little bit more special. The exchanges were top notch throughout as both men went looking for the submission, although for Havoc that was a little difficult because he really wasn’t known for his submission prowess.
At one point Dar tried to take Havoc back to his hardcore roots by introducing thumb tacks into the match, and after taking Dar out with a fireman’s carry onto a clean part of the mat Havoc called for a broom so he could sweep the tacks away, and that’s the first time in 13 years of doing this that I’ve ever had to write something like that.
When the action resumed Havoc went look for the submission, but with no hold of his own he tried several others, such as the crossface, the sharpshooter and the figure four before finally pulling a sock out of his tights and going for the mandible claw.
Dar almost fell to this particular hold. He barely survived, but he soon regained enough of his senses as he tried to fool the referee into giving him the win. When the official stopped him from bringing a chair into the match he than grabbed a metal briefcase and threw it to Havoc before dropping to the mat as if he’d been shot. When he saw Dar the referee was about to disqualify Havoc until head honcho/ring announcer/ tattooed idiot (their words not mine) Jim Smallman ordered that the match should continue.
And continue it did, and after Dar survived another crossface attempt the Scotsman applied his kneebar. Havoc quickly tapped out to give Dar the submission win.
Disc two began with a first round match in the Natural Progression Series between Will Ospreay and Mark Andrews, with the winner of the tournament getting a shot at the Progress title.
This was a great way to kick off the second half of the show. It began with some nice technical exchanges, but it wasn’t long before they took things up a notch or two as they brought out the high flying moves.
Each man was as good as the other as they took each other down, with Andrews coming up with the most impressive move of all. It’s kind of hard to describe it, but it did end in a DDT. Commentator Jimmy Barnett wasn’t much help in that respect when he said he had “no f****** clue” what it was called.
After a few more high flying exchanges it was Andrews who took the pin after a springboard hurricanrana, progressing to the next round of the tournament. Afterwards both men were given a richly deserved standing ovation by the Progress faithful.
Three way action followed between Stixx, Marty Scurll and Dave Mastiff.
This certainly was a great mixture of comedic timing and hard hitting action. It began with Scurll looking like he’d been living up to his “Party” nickname a little too much as he tried to convince the referee he was fit to compete before trying to take a quick nap in the ring.
When the action finally began the first thing Scurll did was try to body slam the 300 pound Mastiff, and when this didn’t work he opted to hug him instead. All three men then proceeded to put on some great sequences, with Stixx and Mastiff beating the proverbial out of each other while Scurll introduced some fast paced moves into the mix.
The Joey Styles oh my God moment came when Scurll went to dive out of the ring while Stixx and Mastiff brawled on the floor. The two big men simply moved to one side as Scurll flew into the second row. He was able to continue though, and a few moments later he was attacked by Progress Champion Nathan Cruz. The long-time rivals brawled all the way to the back, leaving Stixx and Mastiff to finish the match.
The two big men then began to bring out the big guns. Stixx almost got the win with the sidewalk slam before Mastiff took the honours with a German suplex into the turnbuckle and a cannonball in the corner.
The main event saw the masked El Ligero taking on the aforementioned Nathan Cruz for the Progress Wrestling title.
Before the match began Cruz took to the microphone and demanded that Marty Scurll be barred from the arena until the match was over, otherwise there would be no match. Head honcho Smallman somewhat reluctantly granted Cruz his request, mainly because of what he’d done in the last match.
As for the match, it is probably the best main event I’ve seen from this company. For nearly 30 minutes these two put on a match so could you just didn’t want it to end. It began with a long brawl around ringside and through the hall as they tore strips off each other. They threw each other through the ringside chairs, they brawled by the bar, and Ligero threw Cruz off the stage before following him down with a somersault dive.
When they eventually made it to the ring the match got even better. Ligero’s newfound aggressive streak served him well in this encounter because no matter what Cruz did to him he couldn’t put the masked man away.
It wasn’t all one way traffic though, and when Ligero went on the attack Cruz put up a good fight, and as the match went on Ligero became increasingly frustrated that he couldn’t put his man away, so much so that at one point he grabbed the championship staff. But just as he was about to bring the Nazi-like symbol crashing down on the champion the referee talked him out of it.
The final few moments were somewhat frantic. Cruz took Ligero down twice with his Show Stolen finisher, but the masked man kicked out of the second pin after a count of one. The fired-up Mexican then applied a double under hook submission move (sorry Mr. Barnett, it looked nothing like a triangle choke.) Cruz held on for as long as he could before eventually succumbing to the inevitable as he tapped out to give Ligero the title winning submission.
Disc two is where you’ll find the extras, with Jim Smallman’s show introduction, a guide on how to play the Progress drinking game, and an edition of the online Progress Report show.
In conclusion – well, I have to say it, but they’ve gone and done it again.
Progress Chapter Four is the fourth great DVD release from this young promotion. Everything about this show, from the production values to the commentary of Jimmy Barnett (who in no way is connected to co-owner/ring announcer/tattooed idiot Jim Smallman in any way, even though they sound a lot like each other) to the wrestling and to the fans, is just so good it’s actually quite hard to believe that a wrestling show can be this good. But then again maybe it’s because Progress aim their product at the over 18’s market, where casual swearing and Jimmy Saville jokes aren’t just welcome they’re the norm.
As for my match of the night I did consider a joint award for all six matches until I decided to give the no-prize to the Nathan Cruz/El Ligero main event. If you want to see modern British wrestling at it’s best then look no further than this match. It’s just a shame that none of clobbered Wrestletalk’s Joel Ross when he briefly appeared on screen!
So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing left to do, and that’s to give this release the big thumbs up.
With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. Progress Chapter Four: The Ballad of El Ligero is available to buy online at www.progresswrestling.com.
By day I’m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer at a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. Visit my site at www.twoshedsreview.vze.com. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!