Aloha, and welcome back to the PROGRESS Prerogative! This is the weekly column that takes a look back at each PROGRESS Chapter, in turn, to see how they hold up. This week we’re reviewing Day 2 of the PROGRESS Super Strong Style 16 (SSS16) tournament from 2016. There has been a ten-man elimination match added as the show opener between all the losing wrestlers from Day 1. That’s due to Mark Haskins being unable to compete due to dehydration from the previous day. I assume this was a shoot, and so this was the right course of action to take. Let’s get going with that massive 10 man scramble match.
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 30: Super Strong Style 16 Day 2. April 30th, 2016. The Electric Ballroom, Camden, UK
SSS16 Redemption Scramble Match
Mark Andrews vs Kenny Williams vs Rampage Brown vs Matt Cross vs Damon Moser vs TK Cooper vs Dave Mastiff vs Pete Dunne vs Nathan Cruz vs El Ligero
The highlight of the early match sees Matt Cross and Mark Andrews going back and forth countering one another’s flying head scissor attempts with cartwheels on Day 2 of the PROGRESS Wrestling SSS16 final. It’s a thing of beauty to behold. Damon Moser is ‘eliminated’ from this first fall wins the match after taking a tombstone from Nathan Cruz and being lugged to the back by the crew. I’m not sure what the thinking is there as it makes Moser look a bit of a putz. Knocking him down when he would be better served being built up.
Another standout sequence sees Matt Cross nail eight of the guys on the outside with a Space Flying Tiger Drop. That is then immediately followed by Rampage diving from the top onto the same group plus Cross. The lads sprint through a load of spots, including Dave Mastiff murdering TK Cooper with a high, released German suplex. It all comes down to one of the great rivalries of modern times in BritWres as Mark Andrews and Pete Dunne face off. And it’s Mandrews who earns the second chance at SSS16 as he pins the Bruiserweight following a beautiful Shooting Star Press. There’s no time for him to celebrate though as Mikey Whiplash runs out to the ramp and batters the Welshman…
SSS16 Quarter Final
Mark Andrews vs Mikey Whiplash
Whiplash throws Mandrews straight back into the ring (and a malingering Kenny Williams out of it) and shouts for a referee. Paz runs down to count the initial pin attempt, but it’s only a count of two. For the following minute or so Mikey thrashes Mandrews with forearms and kicks. Shockingly, Andrews simply reverses a whip into the ropes and gets a rollup for the three count out of nowhere to advance to the semi-finals. That was an exceptionally brief encounter clocking in at a grand total of two minutes. Whiplash tries to get even after the bell, but the ring crew and referees pull him away before he can strike with a steel chair. Day 2 of SSS16 is off at an absolutely breakneck pace with an excellent scramble match and shock quarter-final.
SSS16 Quarter Final
Jack Gallagher vs Zack Gibson
If ever there were two men whose ring style was suited to one another it would be Jack Gallagher and Zack Gibson during Day 2 of the PROGRESS SSS16 final. A technical clinic would be the best and the only way to describe their contest here as chain wrestling is the order of the day. Gallagher takes charge to begin as he executes a delightful sequence of countering a wristlock by repeatedly standing up then laying back down. Another excellent exchange has Jack G rolling Gibson around the ring in a cradle until Liverpool’s Number 1 is comically dizzy/squealing (see above photo). It isn’t completely one-sided though as Gibbo does have his way for a long stretch wearing down his opponent’s arm. Gibson matches Gallagher move for move and it’s a thing to behold watching two masters of the craft at work.
I had Jack G pegged to advance but it is Zack Gibson’s time to shine as he takes the win with the Shankly Gates. Gallagher taps out immediately, putting the move over strong which is nice to see. In case you hadn’t gathered already, I enjoyed that match very much. The remaining matches are going to have to produce something rather special to top that one.
SSS16 Quarter Final
Big Daddy Walter vs Chris Hero
Fortunately, next up is something completely different as Walter and Chris Hero lock horns like the bulls they are. Not exactly the opposite of the prior match, just massively different as the wrestlers smash into each other with an urgent fury. Big strong moves are the order of the day for these big strong boys, with Walter getting the best of early exchanges. The Austrian smashes Hero with lariats and chops, whilst Hero returns fire with forearms and cyclone kicks.
The oohs and aahs ring out from the Ultras as the two behemoths do their level best to keep one another down, and I was no different watching on-demand. The final sequence is particularly visceral as Hero smashes Walter down to his knees with repeated forearms to the back of the head. A final diving forearm to the base of Big Daddy’s neck only yields a two count though. Hero seals the deal with a Gotch piledriver to advance to the semi-finals to face the winner of the following match. That was a bruising clash and one that was a great change of pace from the match that preceded it. Great stuff.
SSS16 Quarter Final
Tommy End vs Sami Callihan
A clash of two absolute badasses comes next as Tommy End and Sami Callihan vie for the last semi-final place. It’s another short but sweet match clocking in at just over five minutes. Sami takes the fight to Tommy from the get-go throwing him into the crowd and nailing him with a diving senton straight through several chairs. Back in the ring Tommy gains the advantage with some knee strikes but loses his footing attempting to run up the ropes for Sliced Bread No 2. Callihan rescues a near botch by turning it into a nasty looking Teabag Driver for the two count. Soon after he gets a low blow and Mantis Bomb for another near fall, but then runs straight into a Black Mass kick. And that’s all she wrote as Tommy End takes the final semi-final spot. Like I said, short but sweet.
Super Strong Style 2016 Semi-Final
Mark Andrews vs Zack Gibson
The second half of the show kicks off with PROGRESS champion Marty Scurll joining the commentary desk as Mark Andrews and Zack Gibson contest the first semi-final. A great contrast to both wrestlers’ first quarter-final matches, this is fought at a great pace. Gibson, having gotten the crowd going with some stellar mic work prior to the bell, controls a lot of the match. Mandrews bounces around him and off of him and generally plays up to the size difference between them.
Indeed, the best description of the match would be that of a big man vs little man. Gibson, as always, plays his part perfectly by bullying Mandrews around the ring and grounding him with smooth submissions. Unlike Jack Gallagher, Andrews manages to weather the storm of the Shankly Gates not once but twice. Perfect booking for the underdog there. Almost immediately after his second escape, Andrews rolls Gibson up for the pin and advances to the final! That’s a stunning turnaround for someone who was eliminated on day 1 of SSS16. Great storytelling for the tournament from PROGRESS, and great storytelling in the ring by Andrews and Gibson. Thumbs up.
Super Strong Style 2016 Semi-Final
Tommy End vs Chris Hero
Kicks, knees, and forearms oh my! Chris Hero and The Anti Hero Tommy End face off to determine the SSS16 final. Also to determine who can smash the other so hard that their knees buckle and they crumple to the mat. Yes, this is very much a contest between two heavy hitters and they absolutely do not disappoint. They trade the advantage near constantly which only partially comes to the detriment of realistic selling.
Highlights see Hero put End through a bunch of chairs in the first few rows with a running senton (a throughline for the show). A battle on the stage by the commentary booth also sees End take a pasting. He takes a Cyclone Kick that may have won the match if had happened inside the ring. The Dutchman fights back with typically robust kicks and knees to Hero’s bandaged mid-section. I’ve never quite understood what good a bandage is supposed to do to an internal injury in a wrestling match.
The finish suffers slightly from no sell syndrome, particularly due to how dangerous the move that precedes the pinfall is. Hero executes a Gotch style piledriver from the second rope which Tommy’s head appears dangerously low for. It’s a very near fall but then End leaps into a short victory cradle for the three count. I really enjoyed the match, but that quick finish after such a devastating move felt a tad off. As he leaves the arena Chris Hero has a confrontation with Marty Scurll. He had been shouting “loser” at him as he walked by. Hmmmm.
Super Strong Style 2016
Sweet Jesus vs Dazzler Team
Chuck Mambo and Pastor William Eaver collide with Darrell Allen and Earl Black Jr in a street fight to determine the number one contenders to the tag team titles. Sweet Jesus makes their entrance second with a shopping trolley full of weapons. Spotted were: baking trays, steel chairs, a mystery bag, a watermelon, and a baseball bat. It’s like the Generation Game remembering those. All are employed to good effect in a street fight that more than lives up to the billing. Yes, even the watermelon gets used as Mambo smashes it over Allen’s noodle.
Eaver then hilariously leaves Mambo hanging as he holds a hand up for a high five. Foreshadowing of Chuck’s firing from Do Not Resuscitate some four years later? Almost definitely (definitely not). When the match ‘settles down’ we get an excellent table spot as Mambo gets launched through one from the top rope – and it actually breaks! Wahey!!! The mystery bag is revealed to contain drawing pins that actually play into the finish rather than just being used as a spot. After the heels have each taken a bump onto them Pastor Bill takes a Dazzler Drop (assisted suplex) squarely onto the pins to take the loss for his team. This was all action and the right team won considering the London Riots are now tag team champion.
Super Strong Style 2016
Roy Johnson’s Wasteman Challenge
It’s time for Roy Johnson’s Wasteman Challenge before we get to the PROGRESS SSS16 Day 2 of the tournament final. The challenger this time around is Eddie Dennis who admits he can’t freestyle and so sings Goldie Lookin’ Chain’s classic…
Johnson fires back with his trademark wit and the Challenge is declared a draw. Dennis hands Big Wavy a can of lager to celebrate but, Stone Cold-style turns on him after taking a drink and hits him with a Next Stop Driver.
Super Strong Style 2016 Final
Tommy End vs Mark Andrews
Tommy End and Mark Andrews collide in the main event to determine the winner of the PROGRESS SSS16 Day 2 of the tournament. Despite the show length clocking in at around three and a half hours, they only go for around ten minutes. It seems an odd choice as there have been longer matches during the show. You would assume the final to be an epic, but hey ho. Tommy and Mandrews fight on fast forward for their allotted time, but nothing overly sticks in the memory save for the finish. At one point Mikey Whiplash attempts to interfere but is immediately eliminated with a roundhouse.
Look, I’m certainly not saying that the match is bad, but it could have been leaps and bounds better given more time to breathe. The Anti Hero takes the win, and the tournament, after hitting a beautiful Black Mass kick straight to Mandrews’ mush. Following the victory, Tommy dedicates his win to Kris Travis which prompts a prolonged standing ovation. He’s still very much missed.
And that was the story of 2016’s Super Strong Style 16, an uneven couple of shows in truth. When the action was good, as in Jack Gallagher vs Zack Gibson, it was very, very good. But the tournament didn’t build to a crescendo as you would expect it to, with the matches somehow getting progressively shorter. Of course, an uneven PROGRESS show is better than most other companies’ best shows, so this might be considered pernickety.
PROGRESS is back in Manchester for Chapter 31, and so I’ll see you back here next time. We’ll find out if and when Tommy End will cash in his PROGRESS SSS16 Day 2 win against The Villain. So long for now.