First PROGRESS review on the blog, and it’s a bit of a weird one. I think this was one of the first PROGRESS matches I actually saw (the entire thing’s on YouTube so it makes sense for a new fan to give it a go) and it really stood out to me because it was two lads I’d never heard of going out and really impressing me. Turns out it was a good choice as I’ve been a PROGRESS fan ever since. This was part of their Natural Progression Series, intended to highlight some of the best young talent in the UK (similar to a Young Lions Cup), and that’s a concept I’ve always enjoyed. Something about promotions suggesting they have an actual hierarchy and giving us names to follow over the next few years as they go from rookies to champions (ala Mark Andrews or Will Ospreay), always struck me as a cool idea.
Before Pete Dunne became the Bruiserweight he is today he was “Dynamite” Pete Dunne, rookie sensation and mate of Eddie Dennis and Mark Andrews as part of “Defend Indy Wrestling”. He didn’t have a topknot haircut but he did have a denim jacket. He also was slightly less of a power wrestler than he is now, and he’s bulked up a lot since this match took place. This was presented as a bit of a showcase, with neither man heeling it up much and mostly having a fair fight, although Pete did a few arrogant little tricks reminiscent of Rocky Romero or TJ Perkins and mostly controlled things with technical wrestling, which made sense considering Robbie’s style was mostly built around his high flying. They didn’t mess about here, going at a really fast pace from bell to bell. I quite like these types of matches for a tournament like the Natural Progression Series. It’s all about earning your spot on the roster so it makes sense for the guys to be constantly one-upping each other and going for the win as quickly as possible.
Pete hit the DT3 pumphandle facebuster really early on for a nearfall which was a shock since he’s built that up well as his finisher over the last year. He also yelled “DIE” while doing it which adds a damage multiplier if I recall correctly. Meanwhile, the fans observed that Robbie has a very red face when he’s been doing physical activities, and thus a “Red face” chant was born. And the far superior “He’s got a red face on his face” chant. He seemed to embrace it but you could tell. He was crying inside. Things got flippy as Robbie connected with a big Asai moonsault to the floor but back inside the ring Pete countered a Lethal Injection into a tombstone piledriver which looked awesome.
After rolling to the floor Robbie managed to recover, eventually hitting the Lethal Injection and a standing shooting star press for a nearfall. Pete avoided a moonsault and blasted the fuck out of Robbie with a forearm mid-springboard, then scored with a sick Liger Bomb. That powerbomb he does is absolutely crazy, he always stacks his opponents really high on their shoulders and it looks devastating. Another moonsault attempt from Robbie met only knees, allowing Pete to hit a Tiger Driver and lock in a cloverleaf for the submission win. This match was all sorts of fun with the time they got. Both guys made a really solid impression, and Pete had an even better match with Flash Morgan Webster on a later show, so I’m surprised that Robbie X has never returned to PROGRESS and Pete’s only started getting regular bookings this year. I particularly enjoyed this having seen how far Pete’s come in the last year in PROGRESS, Revolution Pro and OTT because you can see a lot of the style he’s perfected now coming together in this match from a couple of years ago. ***1/4