It’s Halloween and time for tricks or treats …
… and at the Electric Ballroom for PROGRESS Wrestling’s Chapter 158 – The Long Halloween, there were plenty of both in equal measures.
The highlight has to be the end of the long reign as PROGRESS Women’s Champion of Lana Austin as Rhio unlocked her opportunity to cash in an instant title match.
Having just defended the title against the Iron Queen Alexxis Falcon, and credit to Falcon for her spirit and her superb Chucky-inspired Halloween costume, Austin, the Queen of Mean, was far from ready for Rhio’s opportunism, and one minute later a new Champion was crowned.
The first treat of the day however was the debut appearance as host of Jerry Bakewell, the self styled UK’s worst Mexican fighter, but Europe’s heaviest light entertainer, who brought an exuberant approach to the night.
The joyous atmosphere soon changed as Spike Trivet in looking to explain the future of the PROGRESS Men’s World Championship was attacked by an aggrieved Kid Lykos. The outcome of this initial mayhem led to a new main event being introduced of which more later.
The sanctioned show then began with Tate Mayfairs introducing himself to the increasingly regarded Yoshiki Inamura, the guest resident wrestler from NOAH. A lively contest ended with Tate evading a top rope jump from Inamura and extracting a surprise pin.
Kosta, with news of the missing Proteus belt, then introduced the fresh tag team of Malik and Paul “Robbo” Robinson to face the very seasoned team of the Beast of Belfast Big Damo and the Axeman, Axel Tischer aka most of SAnitY. A barnstorming match saw experience win with Damo landing the pin on Robbo.
Damo delivered his own news with a declaration for SAnitY to challenge the Smokin’ Aces including Bullit – which of course means that the three man line-up of SAnitY with Eric Young will return for the first time in over four years. Chapter 160 – VENDETTA – on 26th November is shaping up to be the super-show that PROGRESS have announced.
The day’s PROGRESS debutant Aleah James showed some great promise and acrobatic poise, but Nina Samuels, fully recovered from the awesome Clock Strikes Midnight match with Alexxis Falcon at Super Strong Style 16, was in no mood to lose and firmly reinstalled the Nina Samuels’ show.
Two champions of different lights then appeared – former and first PROGRESS Men’s world champion Nathan Cruz, against the current GENE MUNNY WORLD CHAMPION, the eponymous Gene Munny. Once again, a Munny match was decided and then undecided, as Cruz’s under-hand or rather under-waist tactics rebounded after a VAR-style review. Munny’s fury soon decided the match to rapturous emotion from the Ballroom crowd.
The interval had a spooky display of amazing Halloween costumes as many fans entered the real spirit of the day, and the winner was a well-dressed Samson Hain as a very scary Michael Myers.
Heralding the second half was the first U.K. defence of the Warrior Wrestling championship belt by the returning and clearly popular KC Navarro. A scintillating 4-way battle with Brent Banks, Vaughn Vertigo and another fighter gaining popularity, Jack Bandicoot, saw KC gain the pin on Banks and retain the championship for the Chicago-based title.
The return of fan favourite, the Nigerian Kaiju Warren Banks, saw a true hard-hitting battle with Luke Jacobs before Banks succumbed to the former ATLAS Champion.
Whether that defeat caused the next announcement or Warren already knew, but he confirmed that his retirement looms. He did persuade his first trainer and long-time buddy Gene Munny to be his final ever opponent, and where else but at VENDETTA on 26th November.
Then the first of two dramatic PROGRESS Women’s World title defences by Lana Austin. Bereft of the Lana Austin Experience who were banned from ringside (though supported on a technicality by Rob Drake), she showed why her year as champion has been fully deserved. Alexxis Falcon showed great pluck and escaped a number of certain pins, and with the crowd chanting “You can’t beat her”, Austin responded, “Yes, I can!”
And… yes, she did.
Then, after a Charles Crowley intervention whilst dressed as Chucky to rescue Falcon from further post-match damage, the siren blare of Rhio’s entrance music shattered the post-match, though exhausted, joy of Austin. Jangling her Key to a title show, well won in previous Chapters, she cashed in her opportunity.
Within 60 seconds the reign of The Queen of Mean, Lana Austin was ended and the Electric Ballroom echoed to “Rhio’s our champion.” Clearly, there is a popular new Women’s World Champion.
Any normal night, that would have been it – another astonishing PROGRESS show and a new PROGRESS champion.
This was no normal night – as we then saw Lykos Gym take on the Tag Team Champions of Smokin’ Aces. A win over the Dominatus Regnum members would result in the right for Kid Lykos to gain another shot at Trivet’s title.
The Smokin’ Aces did their best to stop that happening, and Charlie Sterling and Nick Riley showed why they are so well regarded. However, after Trivet’s predictable intervention and an injury to Kid Lykos, we saw a remarkable one-man effort from Kid Lykos II who won the match to give his partner a second chance of gaining the PROGRESS Men’s World title.
The sting in the tail of that was Trivet’s raising of the stakes, as he declared, “Lucha de apuestas – my title versus your mask. You lose the match – you lose your mask – forever – everywhere!”
So ended another sumptuous PROGRESS show – and the stage is set for some special matches back at the Electric Ballroom on Sunday 26th October for Chapter 160 – VENDETTA, after an interesting detour to Manchester for the beautifully Oasis inspired Chapter 159 – WONDERBRAWL on Sunday 12th November.
Chapter 158 – THE LONG HALLOWEEN will be available to watch on DEMAND PROGRESS PLUS on Friday 27th October at 5pm.
photo courtesy of @george_bass_uk