Progress Chapter 96: True Friends Stab You In The Front review
October 13, 2019
Shockingly, I’ve never set foot in Manchester before. This is literally my first time in the city for anything. I’ve been in a car that had to take a detour that went through Manchester once but that’s it. I also had a ticket to Progress in Manchester earlier in the year and simply forgot about it. Which hasn’t happened often this year due to my careful spreadsheet work on hitting a personal best number of shows. Speaking of which, it was 36 for a calendar year. This was my 44th show of 2019.
It didn’t start particularly well as I got soaked going to the train station in the morning. It was absolutely pissing it down. Then the train switched platforms at the last minute and I had to run up a flight of stairs and down another one. Then I missed my connection in New Street and had to sit down and eat a tuna melt and gingerbread latte at Costa to save time in Manchester itself. I didn’t have to have a tuna melt but that’s what I fancied so here we are. It was that or a WH Smiths sandwich and they are basically terrible.
The journey from Birmingham to Manchester was relatively straightforward. I didn’t realise it was basically as easy as going to London, albeit twice the price. I got into Manchester around 1pm and although I got slightly lost leaving the station once I’d got my bearings the O2 Ritz is almost a straight line walk of around ten minutes from Manchester Piccadilly. It’s one of those ‘why haven’t I done this before’ journeys.
Pre-show I went to meet up with the Ogdens and found them in Brewdog but they’d just finished up there and I pretty much had to do a U-turn with them back to venue. Instead I got a few pre-show pints at the Gasworks, which is quite close to the O2 and has some really interesting beers. There were a few Northern regulars there including Ben Corrigan (BritWres Away Days), Benno and Grappl Gareth. I had a nice time and a lovely porter.
(Dark) Callum Corrie def. Rizman Khan
Pretty Deadly def. Young Guns
Paul Robinson def. Travis Banks (Proteus title)
Dani Luna def. Toni Storm
TK Cooper def. Roy Johnson
Ilja Dragunov def. Cara Noir
Jordan Devlin & Scotty Davis def. Grizzled Young Vets
I know some people were a little disappointed with a six match card but the show was done at 6.15pm, which left me bags of time to get back to the train station and I was home three hours after the show finished. I personally was very happy with how it played out. The O2 Ritz is a lovely building. There’s not a lot of room around the outside and the merch area is cramped in the far right corner but there’s not a bad view in the house. I stood at the back, by the bar at one point, leaning on the rear wall and I could still see most of the canvas.
In the ring I thought Luke Jacobs looked good again. I’ve only seen him live three times and he’s impressed me a lot every time. As long as some of the more experienced chaps let him work a little snug he’ll get over in no time at all. The first half was a little light. The Proteus match didn’t play into the “KO or submission” stipulation particularly well and meandered badly. Toni Storm vs. Dani Luna wasn’t really the big ‘pre-intermission’ match you’d expect either. Even a surprise appearance from Jinny didn’t make it feel overly special.
The second half was much stronger. TK and Roy had an ok match with one great pounce spot in it. The TK Cooper vs. Travis Banks angle continued after the match. TK is desperate to get out of Trav’s shadow at this point. Cara Noir vs. Ilja Dragunov felt very special. The entrances, the mannerisms, the theatre, the stiffness all contributed to an excellent contest and my match of the night.
The main event was a lot of fun. From Zack Gibson’s banter driven promo (“Dave Meltzer can go fuck himself”) to James Drake’s sensationally accurate strikes to Devlin’s hot tag, which was a series of explosive but smooth as fuck moves one after another. Finally the finish saw Devlin pull out the Doomsday counter into a Spanish Fly with Gibbo convinced his team had won, missing the finish. The same finish Devlin pulled out at FCP when British Strong Style left town.
Overall, I had a great time in Manchester. I got to see some of my favourite people on their home turf. The show was decent albeit back loaded and I would definitely go to Manchester to watch wrestling again now I know how easy it is to get there.