Last year’s Super Strong Style 16 tournament went down as one of the most memorable weekends in PROGRESS history and this year’s proved to be no less eventful. With a fantastic line-up of talent and some amazing wrestling on display, there was a great atmosphere in The Electric Ballroom for both days of action, as seven hundred plus of the PROGRESS faithful descended on Camden for the 2016 Super Strong Style 16.
Day 1 –
1. SSS16 First Round Match: Mark Haskins vs Pete Dunne
Kicking things off in good fashion was this excellent opening contest between ‘The Star Attraction’ Mark Haskins and ‘The Bruiserweight’ Pete Dunne. Haskins was a fan favourite pick to win the whole tournament, but he really had his work cut out for him here with Pete Dunne. ‘The Bruiserweight’ gained control of the match and tenaciously held on, seeming to be one step ahead of Haskins at every turn until the finish, which saw Haskins sublimely float over a pole shift suplex attempt and lock Dunne in the Star Armbar to force him to tap! This was an exciting bout and a great way to start the show, but I definitely get the feeling that there’s an even better match from the two and hopefully that’s something we see down the line.
2. SSS16 First Round Match: Damon Moser vs Mikey Whiplash
This was a very big opportunity for ProJo graduate Damon Moser but, although he put in a valiant effort, the writing was on the wall before the match had begun and it certainly would have been a huge upset had he managed victory over the angry individual known as Mikey Whiplash. As it was, Whiplash toyed with Moser for a bit, but once Moser managed to his a big neck-breaker over his knee, Whiplash turned it up a gear and demolished him, hitting the Zombie Maker DVD for the three count.
3. SSS16 First Round Match: Kenny Williams vs Zack Gibson
Making his full Chapter debut, ‘The Bollocks’ Kenny Williams immediately endeared himself to the crowd with his abundant energy and awesome theme song (Power of Love), while Gibson continued to earn their enmity with a whinging promo directed at the fans and detailing exactly how he was going to win the tournament. To his credit, things went exactly as he predicted here, but not for want of trying from Williams, who almost looked to hand Gibson another first-round exit in the SSS16 with some high flying offence. It wasn’t to be, however, and Gibson wrapped Williams into the Shankly Gates to force the submission. A great showing from both men here, but Gibson shined in victory and is undoubtedly one of the best technical wrestlers in the UK today.
4. SSS16 First Round Match: Jack Gallagher vs TK Cooper
This match almost ended in mere moments as TK Cooper tried to start things before the bell, only for Gallagher to grab his leg, kick out his standing knee and drop down into a leg lock, Volk Han-style! Cooper managed to scramble to the ropes, however, but that didn’t spare him for long as ‘The Gentleman’ Jack Gallagher went to work with an array of submission holds, contorting TK into knots. Cooper’s only saving grace was his girlfriend and other half in The South Pacific Power Couple, Dahlia Black, who provided a distraction long enough for TK to rock Gallagher with a kick to the head. A woozy Gallagher was left reeling and TK took full advantage, only to be caught with a huge running dropkick in the corner that knocked him out cold for a three count out of nowhere!
5. Atlas Championship Tournament Block A Match & SSS16 First Round Match: Big Daddy Walter vs Dave Mastiff
A double-dose of tournament action here, as Big Daddy Walter faced off against fellow big man Dave Mastiff in an Atlas block match and SSS16 first round match. Walter is one of the largest wrestlers in either tournament, but had yet to pick up his first win in PROGRESS competition, while Mastiff was looking to improve on his second round defeat in last year’s tournament. Suffice to say, this was a pretty uncompromising, hard-hitting sort of bout. Walter put his size and height to good use in the early going, only for Mastiff to use some cheap tactics to turn things in his favour. It wasn’t ‘The Bastard’s night, however, as even a huge superplex couldn’t put Walter away. Ultimately, Mastiff got caught in a headlock and manhandled over with a Saka Otoshi choke, forcing him to tap away his SSS16 hopes and two all-important points in the Atlas Championship Tournament! This was great, Walter’s best showing in PROGRESS yet.
6. SSS16 First Round Match: Mark Andrews vs Chris Hero
Making his much anticipated debut, Chris Hero put in a hell of a performance here alongside one of the world’s top high-flyers in Mark Andrews. This was a classic David vs Goliath match-up, with Mandrews doing everything possible to avoid the ferocious strikes of The Knock-Out Artist. Hero’s demeanour changed throughout the match from amused to enraged as his far smaller opponent tried to keep him off balance, with varying degrees of success. But once Hero started laying into Mandrews with some big elbows and boots, things decidedly turned in his favour. Mark made a brief comeback, catching Hero perfectly with a Stunner counter to a suplex, but after somehow managing to kick out of a brutal elbow, Hero put him away with a vicious snap piledriver for the three count in a hugely exciting match-up. I believe this was the longest tournament match of Day 1, but it didn’t feel that way at all and the action just flew by. Great stuff from both men.
7. SSS16 First Round Match: Matt Cross vs Sami Callihan
A two further debuts here, as two wrestlers with reputations the definitely preceded them faced off in the penultimate first-round match. I called this one a clash of styles and that proved to be the case, as the high-flying, precision offence of ‘M-Dogg’ Matt Cross went up against the hard-hitting, relentless ferocity of ‘The Callihan Death Machine’, Sami Callihan. The crowd seemed fairly evenly split between both men in the outset, as both men traded numerous tope suicidas, but the highly aggressive attitude of Callihan definitely swung more fans in M-Dogg’s favour as things went on. Cross showed off his aerial ability in good style, hitting a beauiful flag-pole elbow drop off the ringpost! It wasn’t his night, however, and the easily distracted referee Chris Roberts failed to see a blatant low-blow from Callihan, which allowed him to spike Cross with a piledriver for the three count and a chorus of boos from the crowd.
8. SSS16 First Round Match: Tommy End vs Rampage Brown
The final tournament match of Day 1 was something of a grudge match. Tommy End has had a lot of success in PROGRESS recently, but his first foray into the promotion a few years ago was marked by a pair of hard-hitting defeats at the hands of Rampage Brown. Facing off against Rampage in the first round presented a huge roadblock to Tommy’s ambitions, but recent events saw him more determined than ever to gain another shot at Marty Scurll’s PROGRESS title and he wasn’t about to let anyone, not even Rampage Brown, stand in his way. As with their previous two encounters, this was a ferocious sprint full of elbows, suplexes and kicks, but this time Rampage was unable to get Tommy up for the piledriver and ate a big series of strikes, culminating in a huge roundhouse kick for the three count victory for Tommy End! Post-match, Rampage demanded that Tommy shake his hand, then the two seemed to agree that they’d have one more match at some point. There’s something to look forward to!
9. PROGRESS Tag Titles: The Origin (Nathan Cruz & El Ligero) © vs The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch)
Main event time and it was amazing that the crowd managed to summon up as much energy as they did after such a long and exhausting day of pro-wrestling action. The Origin made their way to the ring with Mastiff & Gibson in tow, but thankfully referee Chris Roberts had the foresight to send them to the back before they could do too much damage. As it was, The London Riots still had their work cut out for them, Ligero & Cruz presenting a challenge that can’t always be answered with brute force. Namely, their nefarious tactics and referee baiting ways. But that’s not to say either are untalented in the ring, both are two of the best wrestlers in the UK, which makes their short-cuts all the more annoying. And there were plenty of them in this match, a dramatic, fast-paced encounter with numerous twists and turns. After failing to count the pin quick enough, referee Chris Roberts was laid out by El Ligero, who did the same to his replacement ref Paz minutes later, which brought out a third ref. Joel was wise to Ligero’s tricks, however, and blocked the low blow before flooring Ligero with an elbow! The Riots hit Cruz with a pop-up spear in something of a false finish, as their music played even though Cruz kicked out (barely), but it didn’t matter as moments later Ligero was launched off the top-rope into another spear for the three count! New champions! Huge reaction from the crowd who were so happy to see The Origin’s title reign come to an end at last.
Day 2 –
1. SSS16 Redemption 10-Man Tag Match: Rampage Brown vs Mark Andrews vs Kenny Williams vs Matt Cross vs vs Damon Moser vs Pete Dunne vs TK Cooper vs Dave Mastiff vs El Ligero vs Nathan Cruz
At the start of Day 2, Jim Smallman had to announce that Mark Haskins was unable to compete due to extreme fatigue that saw him collapse after the previous day’s show. As such, a new quarter-finalist had to be found and to that end a ‘redemption’ tag match was held, facing the eight losers of the first round matches against one another. But, before the match could get underway, proceedings were interrupted by Nathan Cruz and El Ligero. Cruz got on the microphone and said that if anyone deserves redemption, it was The Origin after the way they lost the tag titles the day prior, before entering themselves in the match. Things got going at a crazy pace with bodies flying everywhere. Mark Andrews and Matt Cross exchanged a series of backflips and headscissors, earning “Vader hates this!” chants. These two worked really well together, I’d love to see them face off in a singles match at some point. I was worried that the numbers advantage of The Origin would see one of their members go through to the quarter-finals, while hoping that personal gain would cause a rift between Cruz, Ligero & Mastiff. As it turned out, neither happened and it was Mark Andrews who picked up the win with a picture-perfect SSP! A crazy way to start Day 2, an all-out sprint that certainly helped alleviate hangovers in The Electric Ballroom.
2. SSS16 Quarter-Final Match: Mark Andrews vs Mikey Whiplash
With barely a moment to collect himself, Mandrews was immediately set upon by Mikey Whiplash who tried to take the cheap path to victory and, ultimately, paid for it big time as Mark rolled him up for the three-count out of nowhere! A huge reaction from the crowd for what was definitely an upset, given that Mandrews was only still in the tournament thanks to Haskins’ absence. Whiplash, ever the sore loser, lost his temper and viciously attacked Mandrews, doing damage to his arm.
3. SSS16 Quarter-Final Match: Jack Gallagher vs Zack Gibson
I’m not sure if there’s anyone in wrestling who’s as easy to hate as Zack Gibson and he once again had the crowd in the palm of his hand here, as he expertly riled up the audience and his opponent alike. The great thing about Gibson is that he more than has the skills to back his words up, as frustrating as that is when all you want to see is his opponents kick his teeth down his throat. For his part, Jack Gallagher is fast becoming one of the fan favourites in PROGRESS and it’s easy to see why with his character work, charisma and the unique blend of martial arts with touches of old-school British wrestling. These two are no strangers to each other and it showed as they went back and forth on the mat, but some underhanded tactics from Gibson gave him the advantage and it wasn’t long before he’d tapped out another competitor with the Shankly Gates.
4. SSS16 Quarter-Final Match: Big Daddy Walter vs Chris Hero
What a match this was, two of the biggest men in the competition just battering each other to see who was the strongest. After trading chops in the ring, they continued to do so on the floor, daring one another to hit the other as hard as possible. It was Hero who upped the ante, clobbering Walter with a vicious elbow to the jaw. Walter fought back in good fashion and took it to Hero with a big series of German suplexes, before locking in a sleeper. He was unable to get Hero over for the Saka Otoshi, however, and Chris would emerge the victor after some more brutal elbow strikes and a huge Gotch-style piledriver on the big man! This was about as different from the previous day’s Hero match as possible, but no less exciting and another great showing for both men.
5. SSS16 Quarter-Final Match: Tommy End vs Sami Callihan
If the previous match was all about strength, this match was all about intensity and it took no time at all for things to spill out into the crowd, Callihan sending Tommy flying through rows of chairs with a vicious kick to the face. Tommy somehow managed to kick out of the Cradle Killer piledriver, which only enraged Sami and drew him into a big strike exchange that saw Tommy emerge victorious after a high knee caught Callihan right on the point of his chin. This was fine, albeit a bit short, but far from the best match of the weekend. Would definitely like to see a longer bout between these two in a PROGRESS ring.
6. SSS16 Semi-Final Match: Mark Andrews vs Zack Gibson
For the third time in the tournament non-Liverpool fans had to suffer through Zack Gibson’s vile entrance music and, for the third time, he gave us his little speech about how he was going to tap Mark Andrews out with the Shankly Gates. Much to the crowd’s delight, that prediction never came to pass in what proved to be a super exciting match, highlighted by a wonderfully resilient performance from Mark Andrews. Still hurting after Mikey Whiplash’s pathetic temper tantrum, Mandrews was in a bad way for much of the match, Gibson using his superlative technical skills to pick apart his opponent and deny him any real chance of building any momentum. The crowd were very vocally behind Mark Andrews, however, willing him onto victory as he rolled up Gibson for the win! A huge ovation for Mandrews, mirrored by the complete look of shock on Gibson’s face. The crowd weren’t very kind to him as he dejectedly made his way to the back, but it has to be said that his performances over the course of the weekend were up there with the very best.
7. SSS16 Semi-Final Match: Tommy End vs Chris Hero
This match was something else. There were many good matches over the course of the SSS16, but for my money this topped the lot and is a must-see encounter between two of the best strikers in the game. That was the story here, two tag partners known for their unrelenting striking ability just going at it and knocking the hell out of each other in this all-important semi-final match. The viciousness of Hero’s elbows was only matched by the precision of Tommy’s kicks and it made for a terribly exciting contest to witness in person, the whole crowd gasping and wincing as each increasingly painful-sounding blow rained down. Tommy looked to have things won with a double-stomp, but Hero kicked out! Then, in one of the craziest moments of the weekend, Hero hit Tommy with a Gotch-style piledriver off the second rope and (although it did take an exhausted Hero a while to make the cover) somehow Tommy kicked out at the very last second! Both men struggled to their feet, then as quick as that it was all over, Tommy desperately rolling Hero up for the three count to earn his place in the SSS16 final. What a match.
8. PROGRESS Tag Title No.1 Contendership: Sweet Jesus (Chuck Mambo & William Eaver) vs The Dazzler Team (Darrell Allen & Earl Black Jr)
There’s been a bit of bad blood building between Sweet Jesus and The Dazzler Team over the course of the last few ENDVR shows, and here it spilled out into main Chapter action with a big No-DQ match to find out who would be challenging for The London Riots PROGRESS tag titles. This was enjoyable enough for what it was, but it wasn’t the sort of match to show the strengths of any of the four wrestlers involved. That being said, it was a wild No-DQ match that saw all manner of weapons involved, including a deflated beach ball full of thumbtacks, which all four men were sent into at various points. Poor referee Paz hadn’t been outfitted with gloves and was rather gingerly hitting the mat, lest he impale a finger on a thumbtack I guess. In the end it was The Dazzler Team who earned the victory, hitting a double-team suplex on Eaver for the three count.
A brief interlude before the final saw ‘Bodyguy’ Roy Johnson hold another edition of his ‘Wasteman Challenge’, daring any member of the roster to come out and challenge his “bars for days”, whatever that means. Oh, it’s a rap thing. OK, carry on. Out to answer the call was ‘The Pride of Wales’ Eddie Dennis, great to see Eddie as always and the crowd love hearing his entrance theme. Eddie said he couldn’t rap, but he could do kareoke and proceeded to launch into a rendition of Goldie Lookin Chain “classic” ‘Your Mother’s Got a Penis’, which left Johnson in stitches. He cracked open a pair of beers and offered one to Eddie, but didn’t notice that he’d spilt some of the big Welshman’s drink and was punished for it with a Next Stop Driver from Dennis.
9. SSS16 FINAL: Mark Andrews vs Tommy End
After two long, exhausting, exciting days of wrestling action, the final of the 2016 Super Strong Style 16 was here at last and both men looked worse for the wear heading into the contest, Tommy favouring his hip, while Mandrews are injury hadn’t been improved any by his previous round match with Zack Gibson. It was obvious that neither End nor Andrews had much left in the tank and both men clearly knew that was the case, as they tried to secure the victory as quickly as possible. Tommy looked to have victory within his grasp when the lights went out and a groan went up from the crowd. But Tommy was ready for what was coming and smartly moved to the other corner of the ring, so that when the lights came back up the nefarious shit Mikey Whiplash was left looking confused at Tommy’s absence, only to eat a roundhouse kick right to his face. Andrews would have been a fool not to capitalise, regardless of whether Mikey’s intervention had been successful or not, and he almost did just that after a brutal poison Frankensteiner, followed by an SSP for the nearest of near-falls. Tommy regained his composure and measured Andrews with yet more brutal elbows, but the smaller man wouldn’t stay down and Tommy was dumbfounded as Mandrews demanded he hit him harder. Eventually, Tommy obliged and hit a brutal roundhouse to secure the win and a future title shot! Post-match, Tommy dedicated his win to the late Kris Travis before thanking the fans, the wrestlers and PROGRESS for a fantastic weekend of action.