After a knock-out show with day one of the Super Strong Style 16 tournament, PROGRESS wrapped up the second half of their first ever double header with a ten-match strong card that also featured the first ever women’s match on a main chapter show. Let’s get to it with another edition of #BACKFILL…

Just as a head’s up – day one weighed in at three and a half hours, with day two being over four hours long. Just in case you’re going to block out time to watch either or both of these shows!

The second day started with a cool highlight package set to Rammstein’s “Sonne”, showing clips of each match from the first night – a fine way to sum up day one!

Super Strong Style 16 – Quarter Final: Mark Haskins vs. Will Ospreay
I’m interested to see how the crowd react to this, given the pre-show jokes were about how everyone was hungover from the first night. The crowd did come across somewhat muted, but Ospreay woke them up with his traditional high-flying array of moves, with Haskins pulling a page out of Zack Sabre Jr’s book, utilising a modified surfboard stretch before rolling into a Boston crab.

A standing shooting star press from Ospreay earned him a two-count, before dropping Haskins with an STO and hitting a split-legged moonsault for another near-fall. Ospreay then started doubting himself, going up top for a shooting star press, before going to the middle rope, and then back up top before missing the move, and that allowed Haskins back into the match, where he started going after Ospreay with kicks and a lariat.

Ospreay leapt out of a Dragon Screw, turning it into a double stomp onto Haskins, before a standing moonsault got nothing but Haskins’ knees, who followed up with a roll-through into a death valley driver for a near-fall. Ospreay turned a Made in Japan attempt into a hurricanrana for a two-count, before seeing a handspring set-up for a dive caught by Haskins in the ring, turning it into a Blue Thunder bomb in a neat little counter.

More kicks from Ospreay staggered Haskins, but he took too long going up top again, with Haskins whipping Ospreay to the mat before going for the Stretch Muffler, only for Ospreay to roll through and roll-up Haskins for the win. A good match, albeit not spectacular, to kick off the second day, but since the winner would have at least one more match on this show, it’s not surprising that they didn’t go all-out **¾

Super Strong Style 16 – Quarter Final: Roderick Strong vs. Rampage Brown
This started out pretty much similar to Strong’s match from night one, with a lot of stalling, and a lot of flak from the crowd for his wrestling boots. The crowd teased Rampage to “do a flip” onto Strong as he spent a lot of time outside the ring, before trying his best to take Strong’s “shitty little boots” off.

Once the match got going, it was pretty good, with Strong hitting the first big move of the match – a lungblower out of the corner after escaping Rampage’s 10-count punches. Again, the crowd’s chants became the story of the match, but Rampage and Strong sought to return the attention to the action in the ring, with Rampage dropping Strong with a shoulder tackle off the middle rope.

Rampage gets back body dropped out of a piledriver attempt, with Strong adding to the pressure with a high knee and an Olympic slam for a near-fall, as the crowd chanted “that’s not your move” and “you suck” at the former ROH champion. A Samoan drop in response got Rampage a near-fall, before Strong blocked another piledriver, returning fire with a superplex for a near-fall, and a Death by Roderick (fireman’s carry into a gutbuster)… only to be flattened by a lariat from Rampage almost immediately.

That being said, after a two-count from the lariat, Rampage called for the piledriver once more, but Roderick just about managed to roll through, and scored the pin in a fairly flat finish to what was shaping up to be a pretty good bout. ***¼

Super Strong Style 16 – Quarter Final: Dave Mastiff vs. Marty Scurll
Dave Mastiff came into this fairly fresh, given his truncated match over Noam Dar the prior day – with Dar being forced out of today’s show due to the concussion he suffered.

Scurll opened fire on Mastiff at the start, but a back senton didn’t go well as Mastiff popped up as Scurll mugged to the crowd, before an attempted cross body was caught and turned into a long stalling suplex by “the Bastard”. Mastiff then missed a back senton of his own, with Scurll going for a 450 Splash, missing then taking a dropkick into the corner before rolling to the floor for safety.

They ran a cute spot where Scurll’s top-knot hairstyle came loose, so he redid it… only for Mastiff to grab the hair-tie and tie-up his beard. That was followed up with a really unwise chop battle, which didn’t faze Mastiff… and an even more unwise choice to try a surfboard on the 300-plus pound Mastiff.  Scurll’s bad decisions continued when he was powerbombed into the ringpost after a superkick attempt was caught, as Mastiff flattened him with a deadlift suplex and a deadlift German suplex for a near-fall.

Scurll then jumped off the top rope into a piggy-back position on Mastiff for a chicken wing, but Mastiff threw him off easily before missing a cannonball in the corner. Scurll then rolled through a tornado DDT into a chicken wing, but Mastiff rolled out of it, and drilled him with a release German suplex, as Noam Dar came down to the ring for whatever reason. Mastiff confronted him on the apron, allowing Scurll to hit Mastiff with an umbrella, then locking in the chicken wing for the submission win.

A decent match, but I could have done without Dar’s involvement at the end – at least until after the match had concluded, anyway. **¾

Post-match, Dar cut a promo challenging Mastiff to one last match – with no more interference in each others’ matches until then.

Super Strong Style 16 – Quarter Final: Tommaso Ciampa vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
The quarter-finals wrap up with another intriguing contest between two guys who could well find themselves against each other in 2016’s WWE Cruiserweight Classic.

They started with the ground game, with ZSJ going for early headlocks, before replying to a headlock by turning it into a Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall, as the pair switched to working over a Greco-Roman knuckle-lock. We then got a tease of a triple-threat as the referee tentatively went for a lock-up, before reverting back to his day job as ZSJ scored a near-fall from a backslide-with-a-bridge.

Ciampa pulled the old Bryan Danielson spot of going for four-counts whilst choking ZSJ with a boot, before pointing out “I have ‘til 5”, as ZSJ retaliated with a bodyscissor’d armbar to a standing Ciampa, whose response was to drill his head into the turnbuckles to break the hold.

ZSJ went to work on the wrist of Ciampa whilst on the top rope, but after ducking down, Ciampa ended up being kicked in the wrist before he drilled ZSJ with an elevated Flatliner, using the top rope to prop the Brit up on. A series of kicks ended with ZSJ sweeping Ciampa’s legs out from under him, before going back to the wrist manipulation, with Ciampa’s efforts at blocking the penalty kick being caught and turned into an armbar attempt.

Ciampa scored a near-fall with a front suplex into a knee, before a discus clothesline drew similar results. ZSJ landed on his feet from a Project Ciampa, but could only get a near-fall after delivering two penalty kicks. Out on the apron, ZSJ kept working over Ciampa’s arm, but that didn’t go too well as Ciampa drilled Zack with the Emerald Fusion on the apron for a near-fall. Another attempt at Project Ciampa was turned into an armbar, with ZSJ rolling the pair into the middle of the ring, only for Ciampa to escape by lifting ZSJ into Project Ciampa, as both men crumpled to the mat.

The match continued with the pair trading forearms, then kicks and knees, but Ciampa got caught when he went for a bodyslam, and ZSJ turned it into a double armbar with added kicks to the head, forcing Ciampa to throw the towel in on what was a stellar match. Both these guys worked exceedingly well together, and I can’t wait to see them go at once more. ****¼

No Disqualification – Jinny vs. Pollyanna
This was the first ever women’s match on a “main chapter” PROGRESS show, with both Jinny and Pollyanna earning their spot after a string of great performances on the ENDVR shows.

Pollyanna had a bit of a Mortal Kombat look to her, whilst Jinny was out with her PA, Elizabeth. Jinny leaves the ring at the bell, and is met with a load of “Tesco Value” chants – quite the opposite of the upper-class fashionista gimmick that Jinny plays!

After a distraction from Elizabeth, Jinny runs back into the ring and attacks Pollyanna from behind, but gets taken down by a clothesline-come-STO by Pollyanna out of the corner, who then uses the hair for several snapmares, making the most of the no-DQ stipulations.

Elizabeth pulls Jinny out of the corner as Pollyanna was about to go in knees-first, with Pollyanna following up with a dropkick through the ropes to the outside, as the weapons came into play! Elizabeth took away a Singapore cane from “Hardcore” Polly, giving Jinny enough time to go the other way around the ring to grab the cane… and then accidentally smashed Elizabeth in the head with it. There’s no other way to say this: but that looked brutal!

Pollyanna took a fan out of his seat – just so she could sit Jinny down in it – as a precursor to a running double knee into the seated Jinny, smashing the chair in the process. At this point, I’d guess a lot of the Electric Ballroom crowd didn’t see it, because a chant of “something happened” broke out, as several more chairs were thrown into the ring.

Back in the ring, Jinny took control briefly, crotching Pollyanna on the top rope and going for a superplex, but after an attempted reversal, Jinny hit a facebuster onto the chair. Elizabeth brought the Singapore cane back into play, where it was used to choke Pollyanna in the corner, before it was smashed into pieces across Pollyanna’s back.Elizabeth then got involved again, holding Pollyanna across the middle rope by the arms, as they teased the Tommy Dreamer Singapore cane spot, and they delivered, with half a dozen cane shots, before Jinny only got a two-count from that.

Jinny went up top with Pollyanna for a reverse superplex, with Pollyanna managing to drape Jinny across the middle turnbuckle, crashing through her with a double stomp for another near fall. A second Singapore cane came in, but Jinny missed a shot and ended up getting several receipts from Pollyanna, with Elizabeth trying in vain to save her boss. Security came over to check on Jinny, only to end up as extra padding with Pollyanna doing a somersault plancha off the top rope onto the pile.

Pollyanna took a chair to the face by Jinny, who escaped the worst of that dive, before Jinny set up two chairs next to each other, looking to put Pollyanna through them with a double stomp; only to get met with a chair herself, and dropped through them with the Pollinator (Angel’s Wings) through the opened chairs for another near-fall.

That seemed to make Pollyanna snap, and grab a table from under the ring. Jinny grabbed some lipstick and painted her up, Beautiful People-style, before taking a drop toe hold into the chair, with Jinny following up with a DDT off the top rope for another two-count. The table then came into play by Jinny, setting it up in the middle of the ring, and it was immediately used when Pollyanna caught a kick, before lifting Jinny up into a powerbomb through the table for the win. That was an amazing debut for women’s wrestling on these main shows, and a good use of the no-DQ stip without it turning into a flavourless weapons-filled match. A sleeper hit from this double-header ***¾

Super Strong Style 16 – Semi Final: Roderick Strong vs. Will Ospreay
The boots are back! And those boots had been saving themselves for this, as he attacked Will Ospreay with a high knee during the ring announcements, getting a two-count out of the gate, as they went to the floor (and into the crowd, in Ospreay’s case), before Strong launched Ospreay from a fireman’s carry position into the ringpost.

The assault continued with a Torture rack on Ospreay, before he was launched into the apron almost like a version of Shock Treatment, with Ospreay doing the New Japan “play dead until the last possible second” before beating the count-out spot. Strong kept up the pressure though, with a two-count from a back suplex into a pancake, but a Slingblade from Ospreay gave him a glimmer of hope. Ospreay followed up with a dive to the floor that just about caught Strong, before returning to the ring with a tornado DDT through the ropes onto the PWG champion.

Strong clocked Ospreay with a high knee, before seeing a Death by Roderick attempt reversed into a hurricanrana for a near-fall, and a Strong Breaker attempt blocked with a shooting star press and a spiral tap for a count of two. Ospreay flipped out of a back body drop, then handsprung himself into a bicycle kick to take down Strong, before missing a double stomp off the top and falling to a Sick Kick, Death By Roderick and a fold-up powerbomb into the Strong Hold as Roderick cycled through his signature maneuvers. As Strong leant back, Ospreay managed to get himself free, and roll back on Strong to secure the win. Another good match from a tournament that has continued to exceed high expectations ***¾

Super Strong Style 16 – Semi Final: Marty Scurll vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
The pair were greeting with chants of “Leaders” – harkening back to their “Leaders of the New School” tag team which started back in 2008, and is still making sporadic appearances to this day on the indy circuit.

There was a lot of comedy and stalling early on, with the referee getting propositioned before the bell even rang, as the crowd started duelling chants for “chicken wing” and “armbar” in the battle between their two finishers. The match spent a long time in first gear, with ZSJ trading holds at just-under full speed with Scurll, who spent an age trying to escape a wristlock on the ground.

ZSJ did continue to work over Scurll with a heel hook, before transitioning into a modified surfboard after more World of Sport-esque comedy, with ZSJ bridging up out of a cover into some… erm… provocative positions, shall we say? Scurll found his knees getting rubbed like it was a noogie, before ZSJ dished out a Chinese burn as the two guys rolled over, whilst still grapevined by the legs, and slapping each other whilst upside down. This is how you have a wrestling match, add in a little comedy, and keep it a wrestling match, I guess!

Things finally went serious with Scurll and ZSJ rolling through several times to avoid/keep close to a crossface attempt, before Scurll turned himself into a human torture rack, spreading ZSJ’s legs apart. Not like that. Okay, kind-of like that.

The comedy wrestling continuee with endless sunset flip rolls that don’t even come close to getting a one-count, before they traded near-falls from sunset flips and backslides. ZSJ worked a full nelson into a Dragon suplex after using Scurll’s backside as a pivot, and they went back to going for submission holds. ZSJ almost hit the Chaos Theory rolling German suplex, but took a reverse suplex from Scurll, before dropping to a lungblower and a chicken wing… but Scurll lost the hold, before they went for each other’s finisher, before Scurll eventually tapped to an armbar with added kicks.

Truth be told, this match left me conflicted – on one hand, I was looking forward to a straight wrestling match between the two, but instead we got comedy match that felt like it was at half-speed. Not that that was a bad thing, and indeed, the World of Sport-style comedy worked well with this crowd – and with so many stellar matches already on the card, another four-star effort may well have increased the risk of burn-out. ***¾

PROGRESS Tag Team Titles: The Origin (Nathan Cruz & El Ligero) (c) vs. Sumerian Death Squad (Tommy End & Michael Dante)
So, to sum up this storyline – on night one, the Faceless revealed themselves as Damon Moser and Danny Garnell, with El Ligero turning heel, being joined by the leader Nathan Cruz. The Faceless then “rebranded” as the Origin, with Cruz and Ligero assuming the tag titles won by Moser and Garnell, with the latter then being expelled from the group. Got that? Oh, and Tommy End got his Sumerian Death Squad partner Michael Dante to fly in at short notice to face the new Origin in a tag-title match, after the Faceless/Origin reveal involved them beating him up after his elimination from the first round of the Super Strong Style 16 tournament.

Damon Moser met the Dutchmen in the aisle to try and start the match early, with Cruz and Ligero behind him, but that plan went really badly, with Moser being dispatched as the match started on the floor. The fight went to the bar, with End and Cruz taking a tour of the Electric Ballroom, whilst Ligero and Dante fought it out in amongst the first few rows of the crowd.

The very early stages of this war didn’t come close to getting to the ring, and the crowd cheered when Ligero teased going into the ring, only for the newly-turned Ligero to take Dante back into the crowd, whilst End got hurled into several rows’ worth of chairs by Cruz. Ligero finally took the match to the ring with Dante, with the bell to start the match getting a loud cheer as Cruz and End stayed in the crowd for a little longer.

With the match finally underway, we got the usual hard hitting affair out of the Sumerian Death Squad, but the Origin pulled off some nice double team moves, including a hotshot/kick combo from Cruz and Ligero, and a dropkick-assisted suplex for a near-fall on End.

A wheelbarrow DDT from Ligero into a German suplex earned Cruz a near-fall as the champions retained the advantage, before Ligero avoided a running knee from End by pulling the referee in front of him. With the referee out, Cruz hit his C4L tornado DDT, before Damon Moser came in to join the beatdown, bringing in the tag team championship shields as additional weapons.

After originally joining in, Moser then had a change of heart when he was ordered to use a chair on the prone Tommy End, but his delaying meant he took a spear from Dante, but Dante was promptly whacked on the head with a chair for a near-fall as a new referee finally entered the ring.

Cruz was taken out with a pair of high knees (from End) and a Dante back senton, before rolling out for Ligero to take a kick and the Black Mass (release suplex from End into a powerslam from Dante) as the Sumerian Death Squad won the titles! **¾

The match told a really good story, with Dante coming true on his threat of “eating the souls” of the Origin, as the match spent almost as much time out of the ring as it did inside. That being said, I can’t help but feel as if the “Faceless become the Origin, lose the tag titles 24 hours later” story was a bit on the rushed side, especially as this was a quickly-booked tag title match from the events of night one.

Post-match, Ligero and Cruz turned on Damon Cruz (presumably for his stalling), kicking him low as he was booted out of the Origin.

Zack Gibson vs. Big Daddy Walter vs. Jack Gallagher vs. “Big” Damo O’Connor vs. Eddie Dennis
Unfortunately, the “live” audio quality took a bit of a dive from here on in, with a lot of distortion when it came to ring entrances. This was originally meant to be an eight-way match featuring all of the guys eliminated in the first round of the tournament, but with Noam Dar injured, El Ligero suddenly becoming a tag team champion, and Tommy End getting a tag title shot, this became a five-way.

Repeating his shtick from night one, Zack Gibson again asked for the competitors to go easy on his broken left fingers… and his newly-injured right shoulder as well. So basically, just work on the midsection and legs? That could be a good long-term gimmick for someone, you know, the whole “don’t work on my injuries” deal…

Damo immediately headbutts Gibson to the mat, before the two big guys go toe to toe, with the smaller guys barely lasting for a cup of coffee as Walter and Damo were slugging it out. Jack Gallagher and Eddie Dennis got in for a brief spell, with Gallagher out-wrestling the Welshman as the two big guys continued to slug it out on the floor.

The two big guys pulled off an amazing feat of strength, with Damo seemingly setting up Gallagher and Dennis for the Michael Elgin “fallway slam/Samoan drop” combo, but Walter came in to join the fun, hitting a German suplex on Damo, sparking the domino effect. That was certainly something! Zack Gibson came in to pick apart the bones, but could only score a bunch of two-counts, before grabbing a fork from his boots… which Damo easily slapped out of his hand.

Damo drilled Gibson with the move better known as Kenny Omega’s One Winged Angel (Electric Chair Driver), before Eddie Dennis tossed Gallagher with a crucifix buckle bomb. The hard hitting move parade continued with a powerbomb by Walter on Dennis, and a reverse suplex on Gallagher by Damo, who rolled through into a Dragon sleeper, only for it to be broken up by Dennis’ Next Stop Driver for the win. A good five-way match, albeit a throwaway match, but it served it purpose in getting some of the newer guys over. **½

Super Strong Style 16 – Final: Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
And it’s all come down to this – the Super Strong Style 16 tournament final, with the winner getting a crack at Jimmy Havoc’s title. Dave Mastiff accompanied ZSJ to the ring, with the pair of them being sponsored by SPLX (the tournament sponsors). Both guys got greeted with streamers, further enhancing the “Japanese-feel” of this final.

A fast-paced start saw the pair trade kicks, before Ospreay ‘rana’d ZSJ to the outside, meeting him with a dive and a springboard Ace Crusher to the inside for a near fall inside the opening minutes. After that, things slowed down a little bit, with the pair selling like you’d expect for their third match of the night, with Ospreay’s woes being added to when ZSJ kicked him in the head and arms whilst in mid-handspring.

ZSJ started targetting Ospreay’s left arm, stomping away at the elbow and stretching the limb, before kicking his opponent to the mat and demanding that the referee start a standing ten-count. Ospreay crumpled to the mat when he tried another handspring, and continued to scream in pain when ZSJ continued to manipulate the arm. In spite of that, Ospreay was able to leap up the ropes for a ‘rana, and hurled himself into the top two ropes for a springboard into a kick, as he adjusted his offence to not need his left arm.

The story of Ospreay being hesitant on the top rope returned throughout the match, with ZSJ headbutting him onto the top turnbuckle as he took his time going for an aerial assault, but Ospreay was able to avoid any further punishment and scored a near-fall with a DDT that spiked ZSJ onto his head. Ospreay caught ZSJ into an armbar, but was easily reversed as ZSJ stomped on his head, before turning Ospreay inside out with a penalty kick and a Dragon suplex for a near-fall. Hesitation again cost Ospreay as he was up top, before ZSJ brought him crashing to the mat with a cross arm-bar off the top rope, but Sabre’s insistence on trying for the move got him rolled up twice for near-falls.

A Dragon superplex attempt from ZSJ was blocked and turned into a reverse ‘rana off the top rope by Ospreay, who finally overcame his fear by hitting a shooting star press to the back of ZSJ, then again with a Red Arrow for the win! Will Ospreay wins the tournament and gets the title shot, in a match that capped off a fantastic tournament ****½

After a brief period of celebration, after being confirmed as the new number one contender, Jimmy Havoc crashed the party, with his Regression henchmen Isaac Zercher and Paul Robinson joining him to attack both ZSJ and Ospreay as the crowd chanted for just about anyone to make the save. Acid Rainmakers took out both men, as Havoc launched into a prolonged attack on the PROGRESS fans, before taking things a wee bit too far, by grabbing an axe from under the ring and threatening to behead Will Ospreay.

Those threats continued as he gave some demands: to get booked on PROGRESS’ dates at the Download music festival, to get a pay rise, and to have his title match with Ospreay a no-disqualification match. All of those were agreed to, continuing the build for Chapter 20 – Thunderbastard: Beyond Thunderbastard. Whilst the beheading seemed ridiculous, Havoc’s character was unhinged enough to at least have a chance of being believable (even in the context of pro-wrestling).

Weighing in at over four hours long, this was a monster of a show – and anyone who was there for both night one and night two should be applauded for making it through almost eight hours of action. Not that any of it was torturously bad, or even close to it, there was just so much of it! That being said, these are well worth going out of your way to see, with Zack Sabre Jr. in particular having four memorable matches across the two shows, and of course, the women’s match on day two in addition to the (rushed!) Faceless/Origin angle.

In short: watch these shows!