After two years away, Super Strong Style 16 returned – with 16 names looking to claim the vacated PROGRESS title at the end of it all.

Quick Results
Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Charlie Dempsey submitted Charles Crowley in 12:44 (**¾)
Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Malik pinned Callum Newman in 11:23 (***)
Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Kid Lykos submitted Maggot in 10:26 (***)
Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Aramis pinned Robbie X in 9:53 (***¼)
Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Chris Ridgeway pinned Dean Allmark in 11:17 (***½)
Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Warren Banks pinned Big Damo in 8:42 (**¾)
Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Gene Munny pinned Rickey Shane Page in 14:32 (**¾)
Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Johnny Progress pinned Jack Evans in 12:06 (**¾)

We’re back at the Electric Ballroom for the first of three nights of this year’s Super Strong Style 16 tournament. Of course, 2020’s was cancelled due to the pandemic, and it’s just as well that booking at Alexandra Palace didn’t carry over because some of the photos from show day looked sparse. Simon Miller’s wearing sunglasses for “Johnny PROGRESS” – who’d been a late replacement after Swerve Strickland pulled out. Johnny’s Cagematch has to be at two lines now when it comes to aliases, right? Once we get past the video package of the entrants, commentary, as ever these days, comes from Hustle Malone and Olie Spring…

Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Charles Crowley vs. Charlie Dempsey
Crowley’s not exactly welcomed to the Ballroom, while Charlie “Dempsesy” was making his main show debut for PROGRESS, having done pre-show matches here in a former life.

Dempsey had Crowley down early, working the left arm before he nearly countered out of a counter… with a Fireman’s carry takedown as he proceeded to stretch Crowley. Things stay on the mat as Crowley looked to get free, only to eat some uppercuts and a cravat as an inside cradle drew an early one-count. Dempsey goes back to the mat with some headscissors, but Crowley’s able to get up for a side headlock… only to get pushed free as a shoulder tackle had him down. A BUSHI-roll backslide’s next out of Dempsey for a near-fall, as a knuckle lock then looked to give Crowley an opening. He trips Dempsey down for a one-count, but the knuckle lock’s just bridged by Dempsey, who held Crowley’s weight as he stood on said neck bridge.

Crowley misses a back senton as he surfed on the neck bridge. A Dragon screw takes him down after a breather outside, as a half crab then took Crowley into the ropes for a break. The enziguiri helped Crowley get free, but Dempsey’s right back on Crowley with some forearms from above, before Crowley tried his luck with some pinning attempts. A whip takes Dempsey into the corner for some shots, but Dempsey returns the favour ahead of a gutwrench suplex for a near-fall. Duelling forearms knock both men down, before Elijah appeared on the stage. He came down to ringside as Crowley hits a Merry Go Round for a near-fall, before a springboard back elbow took Dempsey down. Commentary surmises that Crowley’s showing off for Elijah as he tries it again… but Dempsey countered it into a German suplex, following with a butterfly suplex and a beautiful bridge… before a STF’d Chicken Wing forced the submission. **¾

After the match, Crowley and Elijah argue in the aisle on their way to the back…

We teleport outside with So Cal Val and Charlie Dempsey, who’s looking forward to his second round opponent… and then another teleport job has Crowley in the interview space, as he blamed Elijah for distracting him. Crowley said he “does fine on his own,” which is a bit of a U-turn from the plans he’d apparently had with Elijah last time they were around… and then promised not to leave this weekend.

Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Callum Newman vs. Malik
Newman had Joe Lando and Danny Black out with him for this, while Kosta Konstantinou was conspicuous by his absence next to Malik.

Malik looked for a knock-out at the bell, punching out Newman before turfing him outside. Callum gets onto the apron to beat the count, then caught Malik with a springboard cutter… taking him back outside of a tope con giro that nearly took Callum to the bar. I’m sure there’s quicker ways to get there…

Back inside, a springboard’s cut off with a dropkick from Malik for a two-count. A snap powerslam adds another two-count, while another slam dropped Newman into the ropes. Uppercuts follow as Newman began to fight back, flipping out of a clothesline before he was met with a dropkick. Malik’s shuttering Newman’s offence here, but runs into a Blue Thunder Bomb and a hiptoss/knee, as Newman picked up a two-count from that brief flurry. A Dragon suplex, then a reverse roundhouse kick sets up for a swinging Flatliner as Newman pushed on. Newman lands on his feet as Malik avoided a shooting star press, before clotheslines wore down Newman… a reverse ‘rana to Newman ends with a Shining Wizard to Malik in return, before the pair traded kicks on the apron. It led to Malik getting hung in the ropes as he ended up teetering long enough for a rope-walk stomp from Newman.

Back inside, Newman scores with a 450 splash, but Malik’s up at two, so Newman goes back up top… only to get stopped by Malik. Headbutts try to knock Malik down, but Newman went for an avalanche Code Red… it’s blocked and turned into an avalanche Jig ‘n’ Tonic, and that’s enough for the win. A heavy hit to win after Malik had tried to shut this one down in seconds. ***

Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Kid Lykos vs. Maggot
Maggot won the four-way on the last chapter show to get this, while Kid Lykos apparently engineered the whole set of circumstances that made this tournament for the title.

Lykos jumped Maggot before the introductions, but a turnaround sees Maggot land a shoulder tackle before tripping up the wolf. A Thesz press followed from Maggot, who strutted his way to kick Lykos to the outside, before a kick off the apron took down Lykos II. Chasing back into the ring, Lykos scored with a neckbreaker through the ropes, but Maggot takes it to the corner for some mounted punches in return. A back suplex from Maggot gets a two-count, but an eye rake and a DDT has Lykos ahead for a near-fall. Mudhole stomping follows, as Lykos then tied up Maggot in knots. He lets go for a stomp, then a chinlock, complete with some cheating behind the ref’s back… eventually faking out for an eye rake as he caught Maggot with a low dropkick.

Lykos tries for a Howling, but gets shoved off the top as a crossbody sparked a comeback from Maggot. We’ve a back body drop for a two-count, before a front kick and a spinning Crucifix Bomb nearly nicked it for the Shotgun champion. Lykos sneaks in a backslide, then a package facebuster and a diving knee to turn it around, before a crossface ended in the ropes. Staying on Maggot, a corkscrew back senton’s undone as Lykos telegraphed a brainbuster… then sparked some pinning attempts back-and-forth, before a diving boot spun Lykos to the mat. Maggot’s looking to push ahead, but Kid Lykos II slides in a resistance band before distracting the ref… it allowed Lykos to twang the band into Maggot’s eyes, before a superkick drew a two-count. From the kick-out, it’s back to the crossface, with Lykos II pulling the ropes away, before the distracted ref missed Lykos going to the eyes again. He turned around in time to see Maggot tap, and that’s what mattered, I guess, as Lykos’ constant eye rakes paid off. ***

Outside, So Cal Val’s with the Lykii. Lykos said he’d do anything to win the title, so he can stand on his own two feet, alongside Kid Lykos II. I have questions, but they’re not important. Lykos called himself a generational talent, while Warren Banks was a “flash in the pan,” as they built up to that particular pairing.

They then play a promo from Anthony Ogogo – he’s coming in for a non-tournament match on night three, coming in direct from Vegas. This was put in on the Network version of the show, which is a curious move given his last match was cut out…

Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Robbie X vs. Aramis
Time for a change of pace here… Robbie X was making his return to PROGRESS after eight years away (having previously lost to Pete Dunne in the second Natural PROGRESSion Series back in 2014).

Opening with a handshake, both men scrambled for a hold before we had shoulder tackles and kip-ups. Leapfrogs and roll-throughs led to some headscissors from Robbie X, tying up Aramis in the ropes ahead of a stand-off. Stopping to acknowledge chants, they burst out of the blocks as a short DDT and a stomp from Aramis gets a two-count, before Robbie X returned with a hiptoss and a cartwheel dropkick. A standing moonsault keeps Robbie X ahead, as did a levering armbar, then a side headlock as Robbie tried to ground the luchador. Aramis uses the ropes to flip free, countering with a sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall. Chops and forearms take Robbie X to the corner, but he vaults free and trapped Aramis in the corner with a revolution kick, following with a running shooting star for a near-fall.

The pair trade clotheslines before a backflip kick from Robbie X earned him “the most Spanish Fly” from the Mexican Aramis. A chop followed ahead of a springboard ‘rana from Aramis, then a tope into the crowd. Throwing Robbie X back into the ring led to a handspring kick and a moonsault on Aramis, before a Spiral Tap nearly won it. Robbie X has pulled down his knee pads ahead of a squatting Finlay roll, before he backflipped over Aramis into a powerbomb for another near-fall. A bare knee strike sets up for an X-Claimation, but Aramis kicks it away before a spinning rack bomb proved to be enough to get the win. A solid sprint as Robbie X still looks for his first win in PROGRESS. ***¼

Outside, Aramis is with So Cal Val. He puts over Robbie X, and is looking forward to locking horns with the former Johnny Mundo. After updating the brackets, Robbie X gets the next interview as he was still buzzing over the PROGRESS crowd.

We’ve another announcement – PROGRESS’ next show at the Electric Ballroom on July 24 features the debut of Nick Wayne.

Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Chris Ridgeway vs. Dean Allmark
Winner gets Charlie Dempsey in the quarter-finals… and there’s priors here, with Dean Allmark having beaten Ridgeway at Chapter 112 in the closed-set era. Ridgeway’s out with his GHC Junior tag team title belt, which he’d won on his most recent trip to Japan.

These two shoot out of the blocks with headlock takedowns, headscissors and the like, before Ridgeway looked for a cross armbar. Scrambling on the mat sees them go for front facelocks before Ridgeway got the hooks in, only for a crucifix to end in the ropes. Allmark follows with a Deathlock, then a Staffordshire Knot (the grounded, tied-up Cobra Twist), as Allmark threw in some pinning attempts in for good measure. The ropes force a break, as Ridgeway came back with an armbar, which Allmark rolled out of… only to have his wrist thrown into the mat. Allmark returned with a side headlock, which Ridgeway rolled down to the mat in search of a pin, but some palm strikes from Allmark end up delaying Ridgeway, who threw a right hand to knock him down.

Ridgeway and Allmark trade mid kicks from there, before a sunset flip led to see-saw, ref-trolling pinning attempts, ending with Ridgeway bridging out of an O’Connor roll for a near-fall. Magistrals back-and-forth keep the ref-trolling up, and nearly wins it for Ridgeway. Blocking headscissors gives Ridgeway another near-fall, before a Ruby Cutter from Allmark and a Clash Driver swung the match back his way. Only for Ridgeway to roll Allmark down in an ankle lock… an enziguiri tries to break it, but instead Ridgeway just swapped the ankle, then pulled Allmark into a German suplex. Another German suplex bridges for a near-fall, before a roundhouse kick and a sheer-drop brainbuster spiked Allmark for the win. This was another good sprint, with the pair clawing for that quarter-final spot. ***½

Outside, Chris Ridgeway’s with So Cal Val talking tomorrow’s match with Charlie Dempsey.

Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Warren Banks vs. Big Damo
Kid Lykos is waiting for whoever wins this tomorrow.

Opening with a handshake and duelling chants, things are taken to the corner early on before the pair tried shoulder tackles. Damo’s barely moved, before he returned with a crossbody to knock Banks down. Banks tries for a whip into the corner, but Damo blocked it and threw Banks into the buckles, before a shoulder tackle spun Warren down. Banks tries a clothesline from the apron, but got dumped into the ring with a uranage ahead of a senton atomico from the Belfast native. Uppercuts follow, as Banks then got turfed outside and put into the front row… where a cannonball knocked Banks out of his chair. A quick trip back to the ring gets Damo a near-fall, as Banks then tried to muscle in with a German suplex… before an O’Connor roll was blocked.

A low dropkick finally has Damo down, as Banks then tried for the German again. Elbows stop that, but third time was the charm for the German suplex as Banks then took things to the corner for a dropkick to the knee. It’s only good for a one-count though, as Banks then teed up for something… only to run into some forearms. Banks catches a shotgun dropkick, but the resulting knee bar ends in the ropes. A Meter Burn knee’s countered into a choke bomb by Damo for a near-fall, as Damo then dumped Banks for a back senton… but he took too long going for a Vader Bomb as Banks kipped up and brought him down with a German suplex off the middle rope. The Bullet Vehicle spear follows from there, and that’s your lot as Banks chopped down the proverbial tree to make it to the quarter-finals. **¾

Outside, Warren Banks tells So Cal Val he’s not forgotten what Kid Lykos did to him… and he’s looking forward to getting some payback.

Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Rickey Shane Page vs. Gene Munny
Winner gets Malik tomorrow… and the whole “Gene 4 SSS16” campaign culminated in weird fashion a month earlier. Although it could end at the first hurdle here…

We’ve got comedy as RSP tries to hitch up his gear at the start, while the crowd was far more split than I expected they’d be. RSP backs Gene into the corner… then got a receipt before they traded headlock takedowns and armdrags. Page tries to put Gene away early, but Munny kicks out at two, only to get bodied by the ropes. A step-up headscissors from Munny gets him an opening, as did a Finlay roll… then the pull-up falling splash out of the corner, leading to a two-count. Munny’s springboard armdrag keeps him ahead, before he tripped RSP in the ropes, which led to RSP offering his jaw for a forearm. Munny obliges.

A boot out of the corner led to a crossbody from RSP, then a backbreaker, before a back body drop and a kick on the way down had Munny in trouble. RSP keeps going with a splash into the corner, then a suplex throw out of it, before more splashes and a back suplex had Munny on the proverbial ropes. Munny’s able to get his knees up to block a senton, following up with pop-up knees and a uranage. RSP tries to get back in it, but runs into a spinebuster for a two-count before Gene took things up top. A gamengiri delayed Munny, who ends up getting brought down with a superplex, as RSP then added a backbreaker and a cutter for good measure.

RSP heads up top and faked out a fall from a rope-walk frog splash, but Munny kicks out at two before he caught RSP with a powerbomb for a near-fall. Munny’s up to go for Ainsley Lariat, but gets booted down, then spiked with a death valley driver, before he rolled up out of a chokeslam for a near-fall. Munny fakes out an Ainsley Lariat to hit a DDT, then hit the real thing seconds later for the win. **¾

Outside, Gene’s with So Cal Val, looking for some ibuprofen as he’s ready for Malik tomorrow.

Super Strong Style 16 2022 First Round: Jack Evans vs. Johnny PROGRESS
Aramis gets the winner tomorrow… while Evans turned on the crowd ahead of this Lucha Underground reunion, saying he only cared about those from Liverpool.

Johnny called Evans aside for a pre-match photo, but Evans tried to sneak a roll-up before the bell even rang. It’s counted… just because. A BUSHI-roll from Evans gets a two-count as the match started, before he backflipped onto the apron… then saw a roll-in ‘rana blocked as Johnny dumped Evans to the floor. An apron PK from Johnny’s blocked as he’s swept to the floor, following with a superkick aimed at Evans, before he kicked Evans into a chair, and kneed him out of it. Johnny resets the count but ended up getting met with a series of kicks from Evans ahead of an Irish whip that sent Johnny through the crowd and at the bar.

Evans keeps going, putting Johnny in the crowd ahead of a spinning roundhouse off the apron to the floor, then a moonsault off the top rope to boot. A chair comes into play as Johnny jabbed it at Evans in full view of the ref… to no DQ. Yup. At least commentary tries to cover it, as Evans ended up getting slingshotted into a fan’s walking frame. Another trip to the ring’s just a diversion as a guillotine elbow drop left Evans laying at ringside, before Johnny cleared some seating out and threw a fan’s jacket so he could punch Evans. Johnny throws Evans into the wall from there, before a return to the ring had them way too close to the ropes for a pinning attempt. After moving, Johnny gets a two-count, before he hit the Moonlight Drive neckbreaker… it puts Evans by the corner, but a standing shooting star keeps Jack down for a near-fall. Starship Pain looks to follow, but Evans nips up and hits an avalanche German suplex, only to miss a follow-up moonsault.

Evans’ roundhouse kick connected though, as did a standing corkscrew moonsault, but its not enough to put Johnny away. A handspring back elbow and a Northern lights suplex followed from Evans, then a Falcon arrow, but still Johnny kicks out, then countered Evans’ springboard with a dropkick in mid-air. They trade right hands from there, before Johnny’s Alabama slam was fought out of, leading to both men crumbling to the mat. Evans gets up to hit a Destroyer seconds afterwards, then went up top for a 630 splash that hit nothing… as a Shining Wizard and a follow-up Starship Pain caught just enough of Evans to get the win. Easily the match that the Ballroom crowd reacted the most consistently to, but also a match that didn’t feel “PROGRESS-y.” A sign of the times! **¾

The way they somehow conspired to not make the event that was the first Super Strong Style 16 in three years not feel like a big deal… was just odd. It led to the noticeably-low crowd, as running Super Strong Style two months on from their last title-tournament weekender didn’t help, but this is just another sign that the rebuild job is going to be deeper than everyone expected.