Hello, hello, helloooo, and welcome once again to The PROGRESS Prerogative. This is the weekly column that looks back at each of PROGRESS’s Chapters in turn. This time we’re looking at the first day of the second annual SSS 2016 Day 1 of the tournament. SSS16 is a two day (later three-day) tournament wherein the victor can claim a PROGRESS title shot at a date of their choosing. Will Ospreay won the inaugural tournament and went on to dethrone Jimmy Havoc just over a month later. This year’s lineup is absolutely phenomenal, so let’s get cracking with the first round matches.
PROGRESS Chapter 30:
SSS 2016 Day 1. April 29th 2016. The Electric Ballroom, Camden, UK.
Mark Haskins vs Pete Dunne – SSS16 First Round
Mark Haskins and Pete Dunne kick off SSS16 with an absolute belter of a contest. They charge one another at the opening bell and barely stop for breath in the duration of their match. As a showcase for the evolution of both men’s in-ring style and characters, it works like a charm. Haskins is determined, all business babyface grinding his opposition down. Dunne is a horrible little Rottweiler who batters people to the floor and kicks them when they’re down. Haskins tries repeatedly for the Sharpshooter whilst Dunne hits high impact moves such as the X Plex, it’s tremendous back and forth action.
Surprisingly, with the Sharpshooter having been set up throughout, it’s the armbar that forces Dunne to tap out, meaning Mark Haskins advances to the quarter-finals on day 2. These lads went at each other like they meant to make full contact throughout and it gave the match a truly vital feel. Great start to the show.
Damon Moser vs Mikey Whiplash – SSS16 First Round
Mikey Whiplash, the man who cost Tommy End the PROGRESS title at Chapter 29, faces off against Damon Moser next. I was under the misapprehension that this would be a squash match. Due to his positioning against Tommy End, it seemed logical to build him up as much as possible. It isn’t quite a squash but Whiplash does win in quite rapid fashion. Moser gets some good offense in including a nice looking flipped neck breaker. He undoes himself when he misses a Van Daminator which allows Whiplash in for the finish. Mikey gets the pin following a Death Valley Driver that looks slightly odd from the angle PROGRESS shot it at. A decent showing from both men that establishes Whiplash as a force.
Kenny Williams vs Zack Gibson – SSS16 First Round
The first of several debuts takes place next when Kenny Williams collides with Zack Gibson. Liverpool’s Number One does what he does and proves that he can work opposite any style. Kenny Williams flies around the ring with his Lucha libre influenced styled and Gibson is always there to meet him. He’s never out of position and knows exactly what to do and when as the hated heel in the match. But we all know Gibson is great, right? It’s nice to see Kenny Williams inside a PROGRESS ring as he’s someone with a lot of talent.
One of many who isn’t being the platform he deserves in NXT UK, he acquits himself very well here. It would be great to see him back on the black and white canvas sooner rather than later. Despite his best efforts here though Kenny takes the loss to the Shankly Gates and taps out. Gibson goes forward to the quarter-finals of SSS16.
Jack Gallagher vs TK Cooper – SSS16 First Round
TK Cooper tries to polish Jack Gallagher off before the bell rings in their first-round match as he lays into him with knees and fists. After Jim Smallman has sped through the ring introductions, Gallagher catches TK in a heel hook for the near-instant tapout. The match settles into a far steadier pace from there. The Extraordinary Gentleman grinds at Cooper’s leg for the duration, attempting to set him up for the King Crab. TK comes back several times with reasonably simple offense but keeps getting distracted by his corner lady Dahlia Black.
Indeed it’s his preoccupation with blowing her kisses that cause him to take a running corner dropkick straight to the mush. Three slaps of the mat later and Gallagher has advanced to the semi-finals. This was match was fine; nothing great but certainly not bad by any stretch.
Big Daddy Walter vs Dave Mastiff – SSS16 First Round/Atlas Division Group Match
Dave Mastiff and Walter’s match has the unusual distinction of being a match with a foot in two tournaments. Not only will the victor advance to the SS16 quarter-finals, but they will also win two points in the Atlas Division. That second stipulation is absolutely fitting because Mastiff and Walter are very much ‘big lads wrestling’. And they don’t mess about for long before they start hitting the big moves. At one point Walter hits a beautiful gut wrench suplex to The Bastard during which he lifts him so high elicits gasps of delight. The most impressive spot has Mastiff launch, Walter, from the top rope with a superplex. Lovely stuff.
Surprisingly, it’s the giant Austrian who claims the win (his first in PROGRESS!) with a Butcher’s Hook chokehold. I think that’s the strongest Mastiff has put anybody over to the date that this show took place. Very nice work from both men.
Mark Andrews vs Chris Hero – SSS16 First Round
Mark Andrews and Chris Hero’s clash is the best of the show thus far. Hero, the debutante, is given a rousing ovation by the Ultras as his reputation on the indies was sky high at this point. There is still plenty of support for Mandrews though, as half of FSU he is evergreen in that regard. The match is fought at an absolutely blistering pace with both bringing out the big guns throughout. Hero hits multiple Cyclone Kicks, Roaring Elbows, and a great jumping piledriver. None of those moves are enough to put the Welshman away, however. Mandrews fights back with the quickfire offense: a poisoned ‘rana, plancha straight to the floor, and a snap German suplex.
The finish sees Mandrews get put over in a big way despite being the one to eat the loss. Hero hits him with elbows, kicks – all his big moves to no avail. It takes a giant Tombstone piledriver to keep the smaller man down for the three counts and draw the match to a close. What an excellent match between two wrestlers firing on all cylinders. Hero requests that his music is cut as he leaves to allow the crowd to applaud Mandrews. Classy.
Matt Cross vs Sami Callihan – SSS 2016 Day 1
Matt Cross and Sami Callihan both make their debut for PROGRESS in the penultimate opening round contest. The tone of the match is set instantly when M Dogg and the Death Machine take turns smashing into one another with topes. They both get shot into the crowd in turn in a match that feels absolutely chaotic. They stay on the outside as Callihan flings chairs around the place and again takes turns with Cross getting launched into the fans. Things don’t settle down as such when they finally make it into the ring: these two seem determined to batter the hell out of their opponent.
It’s the more natural brawler in Callihan who emerges victorious, though not without a touch of skulduggery. A low blow behind referee Joel Allen’s back leaves Cross open for the match-winning Mantis Bomb. That match was absolutely dynamite! Strange to think that two guys who hadn’t wrestled for the company before embodied that early punk ethos so perfectly in this match.
Rampage Brown vs Tommy End – SSS 2016 Day 1
The last man to go through to the quarter-finals of Super Strong Style 16, to face Sami Callihan. It will be either Rampage Brown or Tommy End. Glen Robinson tells us on commentary that this is the match that the Ultras were most anticipating when polled. They don’t disappoint. Each man seems intent on pretty much destroying the other it seems from the content of their contest. Highlights see Rampage lawn dart Tommy into the ring post on the floor at 100 mph. The Antihero fires back with vicious knee strikes to Rampage’s face and back and squashes his left arm with a foot stomp from the top.
A leaping piledriver by Rampage only earns a two count; a first in a PROGRESS ring. That leads to a flurry of stiff kicks from Tommy that rattle the former PROGRESS champion. Rampage stands on rubber legs as the Dutchman strikes with a Black Mass kick to claim the victory. That lasted all of five minutes, but my goodness it was fantastic heavy-hitting wrestling.
SSS 2016 Day 1
The London Riots vs The Origin (c) – PROGRESS Tag Title Match
It’s main event time at Super Strong Style 16 as The Origin defend the PROGRESS tag team titles against The London Riots. The Origin starts off strong and comes out swinging against the challengers, but the Riots quickly overpower them and hit the District Line on Nathan Cruz for a near fall. That’s two matches in a row to feature a previously impervious finishing move being kicked out of. What the hell is this, WrestleMania? The match takes a fairly traditional back and forth route for quite some time, with The Origin being largely in control until El Ligero decides to go rogue.
Following a near fall on Rob Lynch, he takes his frustration out on referee Chris Roberts and kicks him straight in the groin. Just do your bloody job, Roberts! He is replaced by Paz who immediately walks into the firing line of Cruz, Ligero and fellow Origin members Dave Mastiff and Zack Gibson who have sidled out to ringside.
You can probably see where this one is going: yes, Paz is taken out by all four members of The Origin too. That only leaves one more referee in the building and SPLX’s Joel Allen runs out to take charge of the match. As luck would have it, his entry into the main event coincides with the Riots rallying against the shellacking they had been taking. It’s time for Cruz and Ligs to get thrown around the ring courtesy of the Riots’ German suplex and spear sequences. Speaking of spears, Rob Lynch has Cruz down for a count of three following a spear but Ligero drags the last ref standing out of the ring.
El Ligero El Fuego
The Mexican Sensation tries to punch Allen but the man in stripes blocks that and gives Ligero a punch of his own! Damon Moser, who was a member of Origin forebears The Faceless remember, clears Mastiff and Gibson from ringside with the help of a steel chair. It’s been nearly a year since Moser was ejected from The Origin so this seems a bit of an odd callback to me. In any case, that is the shot in the arm Davis and Lynch needed to inch ahead. From there, the Riots launch Ligs from the top rope into a spear for the win and the PROGRESS tag team titles.
That was a nice, feelgood ending to Day 1 of Super Strong Style 16 and a very good card all in all. The standouts were definitely Sami Callihan, Matt Cross, Tommy End and Rampage Brown who all fought in a way that suggested they genuinely wanted to hurt their opponents. I’m looking forward to seeing what they all get up to during Day 2, which we will cover in next week’s column. Until then, have a great week and I’ll see you next time.