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By Bill Bodkin on 2018-08-05 11:26:00

The UK's hottest promotion, Progress Wrestling kicked off its Coast to Coast Tour at the 2300 Arena, formerly the ECW Arena, on Saturday August 4.

The company did a split show with Evolve, who had a matinee. The line for Progress wrapped around the building, and kudos to Progress management for keeping the lines moving and getting everyone out of the sun into the chilled lobby of the venue quickly and efficiently.

Word to the wise -- get merch early. The Progress and wrestler related march flew. Also the line for British Strong Style gets long, so hop on that as soon as you can.

As someone who had not been in the venue since the final original ECW show in December 2000, it was nuts to see how much the venue has changed. 

Pre-Show: Progress owner, ring announcer, and hype man Jim Smallman (along with co-owner and commentator Glenn Joseph) came to the ring. Smallman gave a wildly impassioned speech about Philadelphia and it's meaning to Progress. It was a heartfelt speech, and the crowd reacted in kind with a "Please Come Back" chant followed by "This is Progress." 

Smallman also put over Philadelphia and three reasons anyone from the UK knew the city -- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (which lead to the crowd singing the theme song), the Eagles (which lead to an 'F*** Tom Brady chant), and ECW (which inspired a thunderous ECW chant).

Match #1: "Flash" Morgan Webster vs. Mark Haskins w/Vicky Haskins

A red hot grudge match to start the show. Webster has done an amazing job turning from a sympathetic babyface just two months ago into a despised heel. These two worked terrifically together. It was the speed and quickness of Webster versus the velocity and ferocity of Haskins. In the end Webster, once again, robbed Haskins by rolling up him up after a low blow while the referee was arguing with Vicky Haskins.

Winner: "Flash" Morgan Webster

Match #2: Natalia Marcova, Solo Darling, and Jinny vs. Toni Storm, Jordynne Grace, and Ashley Vox

One of the best matches of the night. Storm was ludicrously over with the crowd, but Jordynne Grace was not far behind in terms of a reaction. This match was non-stop red hot action and the women seemed to feed off the crowd. Storm lit the crowd up with a barrage of running hip attacks, and anytime Grace did anything the crowd adored it. In the end Team Jinny wins when she nailed a variation of The Rainmaker, hitting a spinning heel kick instead of a clothesline.

Winner: Natalia Marcova, Solo Darling, and Jinny 

Match #3: Mark Andrews vs. Austin Theory (FIP World Champion)

This match is based upon the Mark Andrew/Eddie Dennis feud. On this tour they engaged in a "Pick Your Poison Series where they pick each other's opponents on the tour. Theory looks like he is about 5 minutes from being signed to NXT - he's got the look and moves. Solid match with Andrews playing the never-say-die under dog. In the end he scores the win with a picture perfect shooting star.

Winner: Mark Andrews

Match #4 - Progress Tag Team Titles - The Grizzled Young (James Drake, Zack Gibson) vs. CCK (Kid Lykos, Chris Brookes)

This was part of the Thunderba***ard Tag Team Series - winner gets two points in the tournament. It is also a long awaited rematch (a rarity in Progress) from last year when GYV took the belts from CCK (a match that saw Lykos go down with serious injury). This match was red hot with a crazy number of near falls.

The power of Progress' popularity really showed in the end when CCK finally won the belts after an endless series of high spots (which was awesome). The crowd went absolutely bananas, jumping up and down screaming in joy over the switch.

Winner: AND NEW Progress Tag Champions, CCK

Match #5: Pete Dunne vs. Eddie Dennis

This match is also based upon the Mark Andrew/Eddie Dennis feud. On this tour they engaged in a "Pick Your Poison Series where they pick each other's opponents on the tour. This match had a couple of hiccups, but a strong match nonetheless. Dunne scores the W with the Bitter End.

Winner: Pete Dunne

Match #6: Mustache Mountain (Trent Seven, Tyler Bate) vs. Shane "Swerve" Strickland & TK Cooper

Swerve was replacing the injured Travis Banks. This match was off the charts. Swerve is an absolute star, and it's mind-blowing to watch him work with such quickness and force especially since he had a hardcore match earlier in the day with Matt Riddle. Trent Seven and Tyler Bate in Progress use way more comedy then you see in NXT, and they had the place cracking up. Bate's "mini-Connor McGregor" personality is fantastic. But it's Seven who steals the show. His patented missed cross body spot is gold, especially when he screamed "LUCHA!" as he did it (a nod to the fact he wrestled in Mexico the night before). He then pretended to be dead for a good five minutes which lead to pure silly gold.

Once the comedy stopped these four lit into each other with huge spots, (including a Doomsday Device where Swerve stomped Bate off Cooper's shoulders), and hard strikes.

In the end "The Big Strong Bois" score the win.

Winners: Mustache Mountain

Main Event - ECW Rules - Rickey Shane Page vs. Jimmy Havoc

You could tell from the jump both men were excited to main event the ECW Arena in their type of match. These two tore each other in half with staples, chairs, tacks, tables, and gusset plates. It was a wild, bloody, insane brawl that had the crowd losing their minds. 

The end spot, which you can see on Twitter, saw RSP set up a table with a number of chairs propped open it. He went for a Superplex but Havoc reversed into an absolutely sick Destroyer. which set blood flying everywhere.

The crowd collectively had a joyous meltdown as Jimmy Havoc scored his first no-DQ match in nearly a year.

Winner: Jimmy Havoc

Final Thoughts: Run, drive, fly, teleport...whatever you have to see Progress in Boston, Queens, Seattle, Detroit, or Chicago. It's must-see.

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