Last year saw the debut of the Super Strong Style 16 tournament in PROGRESS – a two-day, 16-man tournament with the winner getting a shot at the championship at the end of it. With this year’s SSS16 tournament coming up next week, it’s time to go back and do a #BACKFILL for last year’s two-day tournament…
This was the spiritual follow-up to 2014’s World Cup show, which worked well because the football World Cup took place at around that time as well. Entrants into the inaugural tournament included the likes of Will Ospreay, Mark Haskins, Marty Scurll and Zack Sabre Jr, with fly-ins limited to Tommaso Ciampa and Roderick Strong.
The show opened with a montage of fans saying who they thought would win, before the pre-show amble featured the return of Kris Travis to say a few words to the Camden faithful.
Super Strong Style 16 – First Round: El Ligero vs. Will Ospreay
Watching this show in 2016, it’s so odd seeing El Ligero as the babyface, and not the heel he’s become. On paper, this is a tasty match, and in the opening minutes Ospreay out-luchas Ligero, before they almost scissor each other with duelling dropkicks. A dropkick thwarts Ospreay moments later, as Ligero connects with one during a handspring attempt.
A second handspring attempt is successful, with Ospreay connecting with a spinning kick, before connecting with a missile dropkick and a standing shooting star press for a near-fall. Ospreay takes too long going for a 450 or 630 Splash, and that legs Ligero get back into it, dropping Ospreay with a pumphandle into a facebuster for a near-fall. Ligero follows up with a wheelbarrow facebuster for another two-count, with a reverse ‘rana and springboard Ace crusher getting him closer still.
Ospreay goes crazy with some kicks – starting out with a turnbuckle kick after stuffing Ligero’s head under the top turnbuckle – before landing a couple more as a prelude to the Essex Destroyer, and that final flurry is enough to get him the win. Great opener to the show, without either guy setting the bar too high. ***¾
Super Strong Style 16 – First Round: Mark Haskins vs. Jack Gallagher
Again, watching this in 2016, it’s night and day the cheers that Haskins got here compared to what he’s getting these days. Gallagher was making his PROGRESS debut here, and he went straight into an armbar by Haskins, with the pair trading counters in the early going, including a neat headstand escape from a grounded headlock for Gallagher.
Gallagher managed to score a pinfall attempt out of a pair of armbars, but quickly found himself rolled up by Haskins for a Sharpshooter before making the ropes. Haskins then sidestepped a charging Gallagher, before nailing a dive at the second effort. Back in the ring, Haskins worked over some headscissors, before standing up and getting grounded when Gallagher caught a kick and turned it into a leglock.
A Dragon screw in the ropes sent Gallagher to the mat, but Haskins was unable to retain any advantage, taking a uranage backbreaker from the debutant. That said, Haskins surged into victory with the Made in Japan (pumphandle into a Michinoku driver) followed by a Stretch Muffler for a tapout win. Both guys looked exceedingly good in this one ***¼
Super Strong Style 16 – First Round: Big Daddy Walter vs. Rampage Brown
Another PROGRESS debut here, featuring the Austrian behemoth Big Daddy Walter, who has around 50lb on his opponent here, Rampage Brown. Walter chops Rampage early on, and they largely stick to strikes, with Rampage being the first man to go to the mat via a shoulder tackle off the ropes.
Rampage finally sends Walter to the floor, after sending him into the ropes and going over the top with a clothesline to the outside, as the chop battle resumes, before Walter pulls out the old Earthquake sit-down splash for a near-fall, earning Walter a rare “das ist gut, ja?” chant.
Rampage caught Walter in a fireman’s carry, only to collapse under the weight of it, but he is able to roll away as the Austrian comes crashing off the top rope with a really big splash. A shoulder block off the top helps Rampage take Walter down for a near-fall, but Walter easily back body drops his way out of a piledriver as Rampage tried to follow-up.
After hitting a German suplex, Walter was taken to the mat via a lariat from Rampage, again for a near-fall, before Rampage successfully pulled off a Samoan drop. The piledriver was then successful at the second attempt, and Rampage secured the win. Another good match, with the story being around Rampage being in the rare situation of overcoming a bigger opponent. ***½
Super Strong Style 16 – First Round: Tommy End vs. Roderick Strong
Onto the only first-round match featuring two non-Brits here, as Dutchman Tommy End faced the American Roderick Strong. Strong’s attire got him mocked throughout, albeit mostly his wrestling boots (and not the John Cena-inspired “The Champ is Here” t-shirt).
Strong shoves End during his own introductions, and we get a fair amount of stalling, with Strong choosing to respond to the crowd’s “shitty little boots” taunts. Once we get going, End kicks Strong in the thigh after being shoved, but it takes a dropkick from Strong to get him into the game, but his attempts to go for the Strong Hold early on ends up with him taking a stiff kick to the chest for a near-fall.
A flash rolling knee off the ropes got End a two-count over Strong, who then tries to drop End onto the apron, eventually succeeding after yanking the Dutchman on the apron, and then throwing him up into the air. Back in the ring, Strong caught End in a rear chinlock, and started working over End in the corner wick kicks, before scoring a near-fall with a back suplex. More stomping on the ground followed, but End dazed Strong with a big boot before hitting diving double knees off the top rope.
End decks Strong with a kick to the head after a barrage of strikes, with a bridging German suplex scoring a near-fall, before another roundhouse kick earned the Dutchman a two-count. Strong comes back with high knees before nailing a reverse lungblower, but that angers End, whose kicks and a high knee scores a two-count, as they go back and forth. In the end, Strong snatches the win with a kick to the head, followed by the End of Heartache (release suplex into a lungblower). Good match, although I’m never a fan of stalling to start things out with, when it got going, it was great ***¾
Post-match, two guys in black bodysuits and Anonymous-like masks – the Faceless (a heel group that had started out trolling PROGRESS on social media) – ran in to attack Tommy End. Eventually, a third guy in a mask appeared on-stage, ordering the two guys in the ring to unmask as Danny Garnell and Damon Moser. Faceless #3 unveiled a new member – a dark/heel El Ligero – before revealing himself as Nathan Cruz.
The unveiling of the Faceless turned into the death of the group, and the birth of the Origin. The resulting promo saw Danny Garnell being tossed out of the group, before Ligero and Cruz took control of the tag title shields from Moser and the now-deposed Garnell.
Before the second half of the show could start, Tommy End burst through the curtain to announce that Michael Dante had just gone to the airport and was going to take on the Origin – or to quote End, he was going to “eat their souls”. Jim Smallman looked positively thrilled at that.
Super Strong Style 16 – First Round: Marty Scurll vs. Eddie Dennis
At this point, Eddie Dennis was at a bit of a loose end, having seen his FSU tag team partner Mark Andrews go to TNA full-time (before they stopped being quite so restrictive with bookings, by the look of it).
Scurll was on the way to being a fully-fledged Villain, and he got the better of Dennis in the opening stages, going for a chicken wing, but seeing the move blocked as Dennis delivered a back body drop. Scurll poked the eye of Dennis, before finger snapping his way out of a fireman’s carry after Dennis had caught a cross-body attempt. Dennis kept on soaking up punishment, but he kept firing back, and managed to hit a pop-up flapjack on Scurll whilst on one knee.
After missing a charge into the corner, Dennis gave Scurll a boot to the head as he tried a headstand in the corner, but Scurll’s “Just Kidding” superkick downed the Welshman, before a diving uppercut gave him a near-fall. Dennis tried to go for the Next Stop Driver, but Scurll countered into a blocked chicken wing, before the pair ended up outside. Dennis caught Scurll’s low-pe, before dropping him on the apron with a swinging side slam, which was followed up with a crucifix buckle-bomb and a lariat for a near-fall.
The finish came when Scurll hit a tornado DDT into a headlock, but Dennis rolled out of a chicken wing, but saw a Next Stop Driver effort countered with yet another chicken wing for the win. A good match, but it felt a little like it was at half-speed compared to the prior bouts in the tournament. ***
Super Strong Style 16 – First Round: Dave Mastiff vs. Noam Dar
Dar started out by going for a handshake, but instead got taken to the corner and attempted a waistlock on the much bigger Mastiff. That went as well as you’d expect. Dar was able to use his size to his advantage, escaping out of a powerbomb attempt after he’d been caught trying to scoot through Mastiff’s legs, before tossing him to the outside.
A suicide dive from Dar connected with Mastiff on the floor, before enlisting the help of two people from the front row to whip him into Mastiff… who then caught him, only to get shoved into the ringpost. Back in the ring, Dar went for a cross-ring dropkick, but got met head-on by Mastiff, as the butting heads floored the young Scotsman, and sent Mastiff out for cover. Dar looked loopy, but refused to let the match be stopped. Then followed a protracted period where Dar tried to steady himself, and that ended up being a cue for Mastiff to attack him from behind, deliver an uppercut, that sent Dar to the mat like a sack of potatoes.
Another headbutt from Mastiff sent Dar into the corner for cover, before Dar stood up to block a cannonball attempt, only to take another headbutt and a big boot. Mastiff missed a cannonball in the corner, allowing Dar to just about connect with a double stomp on the knee of Mastiff, who then drilled Dar with a deadlift German suplex into the bottom turnbuckle.
Dar again refused to let the referee stop the match, and managed to lock in his Champagne Super Knee-Bar hold, but Mastiff rolled free and starting to kick away at the head of Dar, and that forced the referee stoppage. In hindsight, if this was a storyline, it came across as really awkward, but if Dar was genuinely hurt, the match should have stopped, tournament be damned. These two are capable of putting on a much better match than this, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt *½
Mastiff helped up Dar after the match, but went to the back as staff checked on Dar in the ring.
Super Strong Style 16 – First Round: “Big” Damo O’Connor vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Ciampa was making his PROGRESS debut here (another one, eh?), starting off with a comedy spot where he brought some hair clippers so that the referee could shave Damo’s back – but then starts by hitting a sweet dropkick over the referee and into the face of Damo.
Damo took five running knees into the corner from Ciampa right at the start of the match, before retaliating with an uppercut as Ciampa tried to dive. Ciampa gets dropkicked to the back of the building – via a few rows of seats – before the “Psycho Killer” recovers to hit a somersault off the apron.
Inside the ring again, Ciampa peppers away with forearms to Damo as he rises to his feet, only for one forearm to send Ciampa down with ease. They follow that up with a comedy spot where Damo squashes Ciampa by standing on him, before missing a back senton splash… Ciampa is successful with his version, but Damo’s popped up as if it were nothing.
Ciampa’s efforts at superplexing Damo failed, but he managed to score a near-fall from a victory roll, before hulking up Damo for an Emerald Fusion for another two-count. They resumed trading strikes, but it was the knees of Ciampa that seemed to be more effective for the North American indy star. Damo nailed Kenny Omega’s One Winged Angel (Electric Chair Driver) for a near-fall, before going to the crowd for a chair to use as a weapon.
Damo went for a chair-assisted Coast-to-Coast dropkick, but the 300lber ended up taking the chair to the face, before almost spilling off the top rope. They saved it by going for a superplex, but Ciampa slipped over and connected with a running powerbomb out of the corner to secure the win. Another good tournament match, with a nice saved finish to boot. ***½
Super Strong Style 16 – First Round: Zack Gibson vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
I have a feeling Zack’s going to win this one, although Messr Gibson took an awful lot of stick after his Liverpool team had lost 6-1 earlier that weekend, and was coming into this match with a broken finger.
Simple stuff early on as ZSJ took down Gibson, working a headlock/cravat, before forcing a rope break when catching Gibson in a modified surfboard. Gibson remained grounded with a leglock that turned into a version of an Indian deathlock, with ZSJ’s bridge adding extra torque to the hold, before the two Zacks jockeyed for position for a leglock.
The pair continued to work a good technical match, with ZSJ having a counter for seemingly everything that Gibson had thrown at him, but the Scouser edged into an advantage by dropping ZSJ into the turnbuckles in a hammerlock. Gibson enjoyed a spell of offence, working over ZSJ with various holds, but it was ZSJ’s kicks that got him back into the match, before flipping out of a sunset flip that Gibson was trying to counter into a Boston crab.
Gibson kicked out of a penalty kick at two, before being taken to the corner where the referee had to step in to break up ZSJ’s repeated forearms, but Gibson got back into things with a lungblower off the top rope for a near fall, before a cross-legged brainbuster garnered a similar result for the Liverpudlian. In the end though, ZSJ snatched the win with a Northern Lights suplex that transitioned into a cross-arm breaker for the win by tapout – capping off the first round of the Super Strong Style 16 tournament with the best match so far. ****
The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) vs. The Regression (Jimmy Havoc & Paul Robinson)
The London Riots came out to a loud cheer, making their return eight months after losing a loser-leaves-town match at Chapter 15 (which we’ll get to eventually in #BACKFILL). Formerly part of Regression, the Riots’ return to PROGRESS has them more akin to the role that the APA played in WWE, as far as being company enforcers and having a t-shirt that at first glance, resembles a cross of the Wendy’s fast food logo and the old APA logo to boot.
Meanwhile, the Regression were greeted with middle fingers from all, with Paul Robinson getting the salty reception first, before Jimmy Havoc’s entrance seeing him getting into it with various fans at ringside.
The action started out thick and fast with Havoc taking a back body drop, before being met with a tope from James Davis after rolling outside for cover. Paul Robinson was then turned into a human missile by Rob Lynch, chokeslammed onto the pile outside. Jimmy Havoc took a ride through several rows of seating, as this match turned into what became the typical London Riots car-crash of a match, with Havoc being tossed head first into the wall that’s projected onto for the PROGRESS video screen.
Havoc got Regression back in front with an Acid Rainmaker on the apron to Rob Lynch, something that was followed up by Havoc powerbombing James Davis to the floor as he tries to superplex Robinson there. Davis stayed down on the outside as the Regression worked over Lynch inside the ring, including a fun spot where Jimmy Havoc kicked Lynch square in the arse, as if he were Bishop Brennan.
Lynch fired back with a pair of overheard belly-to-belly suplexes on Havoc and Robinson, but that cover attempt was immediately broken up as Havoc played the numbers game, before firing away on chops to Lynch… so much so that Havoc’s hand must have gotten sore. James Davis eventually came back in, but was taken down by a Havoc headbutt, before firing back with a double clothesline and an Exploder suplex on the two Regression members.
Robinson broke up a pinfall after Davis hit a sitout powerbomb on Havoc, before Rob Lynch hit a German suplex onto the tandem of Havoc and Robinson at once. Davis missed a top rope moonsault as Havoc rolled out of harm’s way, before the ensuing melee saw Lynch catch Havoc with his own move – the Acid Rainmaker. Someone from the crowd yelled “you crazy bastard” as Lynch went for – and missed – the Spiral Tap off the top rope, with Robinson hitting a diving knee of the top rope, before Havoc got a near-fall with an Acid Rainmaker on Davis.
Robinson managed to escape out of a District Line powerbomb, but wasn’t so lucky when his attempt at a missile dropkick was caught and turned into the move at the second attempt, as Lynch followed up by hurling Havoc into the corner with a German suplex. One pop-up spear later, the Riots piled on top of Havoc and secured the win following a fun-but-chaotic match ***¾
For the first night of the tournament, this was a blowaway show – apart from the injury-hit match with Dar and Mastiff, there wasn’t a single stinker on the card, and we got a healthy dose of storyline advancement as well with the Faceless’ “reveal” and progression into the Origin.