#AndNEW: Philadelphia Fans Treated to Two Title Changes During EVOLVE, PROGRESS Shows

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2300 Arena in Philadelphia played host to title changes in both EVOLVE and PROGRESS
Credit: EVOLVE and PROGRESS

On Saturday, August 4, in front of a packed audience, the iconic 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, hosted a unique wrestling double-header that featured two different companies and two huge title changes.

The first came as part of EVOLVE 108 where Shane Strickland captured the EVOLVE Championship, defeating Matt Riddle in an absolutely brutal affair. The second happened later that night as the team of CCK (Kid Lykos and Chris Brookes) got redemption by defeating the Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake and Zack Gibson) to become three-time PROGRESS tag team champions.

To borrow a song lyric from the Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, “Oh, what a night!”

#AndNew: Shane Strickland Adds Another Title to His Collection

In a “swerve” that perhaps more people than not saw coming, Matt Riddle’s 121-day reign as EVOLVE Champion came to an end at the hands of Shane “Swerve” Strickland. With Riddle expected to be in the crowd during TakeOver Brooklyn: IV in less than two weeks and this being his last set of EVOLVE shows before then, there were only a few options remaining as to when the King of Bros could drop the championship. The perfect opportunity came in Philadelphia as Riddle battled Strickland, who has been one of 2018’s breakout stars, in EVOLVE’s first return to the city since 2012.

Fitting to their match being held in the old ECW Arena, which made its living on extreme and hardcore wrestling for almost a decade, Strickland and Riddle’s match was contested under hardcore rules. And neither man disappointed in that regard. From bell to bell, Strickland and Riddle built on the increasing violence that had characterized their first two matches in such a way that made for a more than fitting end to Riddle’s reign atop the mountain.

Strickland made sure to abuse Riddle in front of his wife and kids, who sat by the barricade at the gorilla position. The two fought in and outside of the ring, using tables, chairs and finally a ladder. But hardcore was only part of the narrative as the rest of the match focused on Riddle’s injured hand, which started to bleed early on, and his broken arm, and Strickland targeting it. The storytelling involved showed Riddle’s resolve and how much the title meant to him, allowed Strickland to work at his heel-best and allowed both men to show off incredible in-ring ability. The end came when Strickland stomped Riddle through a table only for Riddle to kick out in a way that made the fans come completely unglued. Strickland was shocked as well but as Riddle struggled to find his way, Swerve took down his kneepad for two vicious knee tremblers and finally, an attack to Riddle’s injured arm.

This was the fifth singles match Riddle and Strickland had wrestled and third of which was part of their recent feud for the world title. Riddle won the first by disqualification and the second, which was contested under “no rope breaks” rules and lasted almost 18 minutes, finished as a draw. In his victory, this was also the second time that Strickland defeated Riddle with a title on the line as the two competed in the finals to crown the new Major League Wrestling world heavyweight champion when the promotion restarted earlier this year.

Following the match, Strickland called out the locker room and proceeded to run down his likely list of challengers one-by-one-by-one.

Strickland is currently a three-time champion as in addition to his EVOLVE title, he holds the PCW Ultra Light Heavyweight Championship and is one-third of the Lucha Underground Trios champions as Killshot, which he won at Ultima Lucha Tres in 2016.

#AndNew: CCK Win PROGRESS Tag Team Championships for Record Third Time

When Jim Smallman announced that PROGRESS would be holding, for the first time ever, a tag team Thunderbastard tournament, one of the caveats was that in every match in which the champions were in, their titles would be on the line. Such was the case as PROGRESS kicked off their Coast to Coast tour in Philadelphia, a city the promotion was visiting for the first time.

Entering the match, the champions were the Grizzled Young Veterans, who won the titles back in February at Chapter 64: Thunderbastards Are Go! Taking the mic, Liverpool’s #1, completely dressed down his opponents, letting them know they had no chance and reminding Kid Lykos of what happened the last time CCK got in the ring with GYV, that being he was shelved for close to nine months. At least for the night, CCK made Drake and Gibson eat their words.

Clearly fired up by Gibson’s words, CCK came out hot and never really let off the gas pedal. The action was fast and furious with all four men getting in their offense and baiting their opponents to do the same. Of course, there were suicide dives and other rope maneuvers that led to the two teams fighting on the outside at various points in the match. Not to mention CCK’s patented sick tag moves, which more than once led to a near fall.

The two teams built on their last match nicely and ultimately, it was that culmination and story of redemption, which made the finish all the more sweet. With Brookes and Drake the legal men, Brookes locked in his Submission of Doom. Gibson was almost there to break it up and initially it looked like it was just going to be another close call as there were all match. But then Lykos showed up and trapped Gibson with a submission of his own, leaving him unable to get to Drake before he tapped to Brookes. The crowd went wild for the Best Boys as they embraced and celebrated their win.

For CCK, the victory made them PROGRESS’s first-ever three-time tag team champions. It was also only the second time that one of the promotion’s titles changed hands outside of England, the first being when Matt Riddle won the Atlas Championship at PROGRESS New York City last year.

Unfortunately for CCK however, the celebration was short-lived as in his match with TK Cooper at PROGRESS Boston, Kid Lykos dislocated his shoulder and was taken to the hospital. As of now, PROGRESS has announced that CCK will not be forced to vacate the titles but rather that Jonathan Gresham will be taking Lykos’ place throughout the rest of the tour and through the Thunderbastard series. This includes the match against Sexy Starr (David Starr and Jack Sexsmith) set for PROGRESS Seattle as well as against LAX (Santana and Ortiz) in New York and Flamita and Bandido in Chicago.

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