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22:32 - 2nd September 2015, by Brian Elliott

Ospreay makes PROGRESS by ending reign of Havoc (FSM 123; Aug 2015)

After 609 days of dominance, Jimmy Havoc’s epic PROGRESS championship reign came to an end at the hands of Will Ospreay in the No Disqualification main event of Thunderbastard: Beyond Thunderbastard on July 26.

With The London Riots at ringside to prevent any interference, it wasn’t long until this fight spilled to the outside, with Ospreay throwing Havoc into the ringside chairs. An assortment of weapons came into play, including tables and thumbtacks, and the tide seemingly turned when Havoc summoned his REGRESSION stablemates Paul Robinson and “The Omega” Isaac Zercher to blindside James Davis and Rob Lynch. However, after Ospreay kicked out of the Acid Rainmaker, the repugnant Havoc hit referee Chris Roberts with the same move. Following a stomp onto Ospreay through a table that also resulted in a two-count, Havoc then took out replacement official Joel Allen. With no other referees available, PROGRESS co-owner Jim Smallman had to step between the ropes.

Smallman’s presence was a callback to Chapter 10 in November 2013, when he was forced to count Havoc’s title-winning pinfall over Mark Andrews, and he took great joy in Ospreay kicking out of another Acid Rainmaker. In a desperation move, Havoc then resorted to producing his axe, but this proved to be the rallying point for Ospreay, who responded with a low-blow in the nick of time. He then nailed Havoc with the Essex Destroyer, and for the first time in a PROGRESS ring, he successfully struck his 630o senton to win the title to send the Electric Ballroom into a frenzy.

The entire presentation from start to finish was the crowning moment of PROGRESS' two-year history, capping some excellent storytelling and character development to build to a beautiful conclusion, even if the match itself was the definition of brutality.

Ospreay’s first challenger was decided in the second annual Thunderbastard match, a Royal Rumble-style Gauntlet with eliminations occurring via pinfall, submission or disqualification. Nathan Cruz and El Ligero of The Origin found themselves in the ring with former henchman Damon Moser at the start of the match, but Ligero quickly disposed of him. However, the next two entrants were Cruz’ former partners in Screw Indy Wrestling, Rampage Brown and Mark Haskins. They turned against Cruz instantly, as the ring filled up with remaining participants Marty Scurll, Eddie Dennis and Tom Irvin. Surprising eliminations included Ligero being pinned by Irvin, and Dennis getting a fall after getting Brown up for the Next Stop Driver.

The match eventually came down to Haskins and Scurll, two of the UK’s finest wrestlers, who produced a fantastic closing sequence, with Haskins escaping Scurll’s Chicken Wing, and Scurll withstanding Haskins’ high-impact offence. In the end, it was Haskins who prevailed by rolling up Scurll for the pinfall, and with the winner of this Thunderbastard match having to stipulate when they want to cash in their title match, Haskins elected for September 6's Chapter 21, setting up a showdown with Ospreay.

The Sumerian Death Squad arrived without their PROGRESS Tag Shield, which had been seized by customs en route from Amsterdam, so they had to make do with an IOU slip as they successfully retained against The Hunter Brothers. Though the majority of the match was taken by Michael Dante and Tommy End, Jim and Lee Hunter held their own, contributing greatly and fitting in nicely with the PROGRESS vibe, although the quality of selling left a little to be desired. In any case, the fans in attendance weren’t complaining as the Dutchmen retained with the Anti-Hero blockbuster.

In other matches, Sebastian defeated Damian Dunne to advance in the third Natural Progression Series, as did last year's winner, “Flash” Morgan Webster, who defeated Bubblegum, Kyle Ashmore and “Wild Boar” Mike Hitchman.

“Pastor” William Eaver (substituting for Dave Mastiff) caused the shock result of the show by cleanly defeating PROGRESS original Noam Dar with the Clothesline From Heaven in a fun but brief match.

Words by Martin Bentley. Photo by Rob Brazier / www.RobBrazierPhoto.com

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