WALTER came up against Travis Banks for the PROGRESS title, while the final four of this year’s Super Strong Style 16 were determined.
We’re back inside Alexandra Palace here, with Jim Smallman doing the traditional “why weren’t you here yesterday?”, featuring a man who’d decided to go to the pub instead on night one. Matt Richards and Callum Leslie start us off on commentary for this show.
Super Strong Style 16 – Quarter-Final: Zack Gibson vs. Pete Dunne
Featuring “Pete Dunne whipping folks with an oversized version of the design off of Zack Gibson’s t-shirt”… because someone made that a thing.
Ahead of the match, Gibson took shots at Pete Dunne for having “the easiest ride”, and for only being relevant for throwing a shoe. Cue chants of “shoe-serweight” and anything else the crowd could, erm, shoe-horn in. Someone even gave Dunne a shoe, and of course he beats Gibson and Drake with it, because why not?
Dunne’s got some number games to overcome, as he levelled Drake with a forearm on the outside, while Gibson gets a finger snap as the WWE UK champ looked to work over Gibson’s arm in the early moments. Zack replies by throwing Dunne into the turnbuckle, as Drake takes advantage of Easily Distracted Joel as the Grizzled Young Veterans worked together to edge ahead.
It turns into a bit of a slugfest briefly as Gibson stayed on top of Dunne, grounding him with a chinlock, before Dunne mounted a comeback, blocking a cross-chop and hitting a headbutt. Some Sliced Bread follows out of the corner, before Drake charges in… and gets tossed out as Dunne stayed on top of Gibson, landing an X-Plex for a near-fall. Gibson shifts out of a Bitter End and tries the Shankly Gates, but that too is escaped until Dunne runs into a Ticket to Ride and a lariat that dumped him on his head.
Zack looked for a Helter Skelter, but that is only good for a near-fall, as a rather defiant Dunne leans into forearms form Gibson, and whacks him with one. That unsights the referee, and allows Drake to come in for a Deftones enziguiri, before another Ticket to Ride from Gibson drew yet another near-fall. He goes back to the Shankly Gates, but Dunne bit his way free, as Drake yet again charges in and fails…
Another roll-up from Dunne gets a near-fall as Drake proved to be a distraction as Gibson eventually tried a Ticket to Ride… and saw it was countered into a powerbomb. Jimmy Havoc wanders out for reasons, as does Mark Haskins… Havoc and Haskins eat chairshots, as Vicki Haskins dared Dunne to hit her too. Flash Morgan Webster’s in too to stop it, but instead Dunne just hits Gibson in the ribs with a chair, and there’s your DQ. Living up to the stereotype, Zack Gibson steals a win, as Tyler Bate was forced to make the save as the trios match in Manchester was built up at the expense of a clean finish here. Decent until we had the interference, and thankfully the sixth circle of hell that were all the shoe-related chants didn’t make it to the VOD! ***
TK Cooper vs. Jordan Devlin vs. Chuck Mambo
Going into the tournament, Mambo and TK had a bet on – whomever went out in the first round, had to wear the other’s shirt. Of course, they’re both out, so we had some shirt swapping, while Devlin just liked Mambo’s beach balls so much, he flipped.
— Shirleigh (@ShirleighShirlz) May 12, 2018
Once we got going, we started with everyone falling over each other trying to pin themselves. TK goes for a springboard moonsault that misses as the insanity turned rather more aerial in nature, with Mambo nailing a Blockbuster before taking TK into a surfboard… which Devlin broke up… by pinning Mambo!
After a two-count, Mambo returned fire on the Irishman with the Bad Burrito gutbuster, before TK flapjacked Jordan onto Mambo as a series of headbutts ended with Jordan Devlin… knocking himself out as he tried to wallop TK. Mambo’s right back in with a Reefbreak to TK, and a springboard plancha to Devlin on the outside as Chuck flew… getting a solid two-count over TK when he got back inside.
Devlin gets the crowd back on their feet with a satellite DDT and a cutter to a springboarding Mambo, but it’s too soon for a package piledriver as Cooper forearmed his way free. A Blue Thunder Gutbuster from Cooper leaves Mambo down as a double axekick got TK a near-fall… only for Chuck to give another Bad Burrito, this time to TK. A springboard frog splash looked to have Cooper done, but Devlin picked up Mambo and blasts him with a package piledriver for the win. All action, and never a dull second here. Really fun stuff, and it put the shine on Devlin… although Mambo taking the fall after yesterday was very much a “huh?” moment for those who watch the old Botchamanias… ***½
Chris Brookes, Mark Andrews & Joey Janela vs. Mark Haskins, Jimmy Havoc & Flash Morgan Webster
On paper, this looked like a throwaway tag, particularly since the team that sounded like the world’s worst solicitors – Haskins, Havoc & Webster – were still getting used to the moody child that Vicki had adopted for them.
Chris Brookes had new music here. Well, I say “new”. Welcome, Human Fly!
This was a warm-up for Haskins, Havoc and Webster ahead of their match in Manchester, and it’s Havoc who started out strong, taking Brookes into the corner for a low dropkick and a double stomp off the middle rope. Joey Janela tags in so he can face off against Jimmy Havoc again… but Jimmy flips off everyone and tagged out instead. Fair enough!
Haskins is in, but gets taken down with an uppercut from the Bad Boy… who gets poked in the eye as he taunted Havoc with a tag back in… and now in comes Webster, who reluctantly got involved. Mark Andrews also got the tag, and eats some early armdrags before returning the favour as Andrews’ attempt at a surfboard took Webster into the wrong corner for some chops from Brookes.
We continued the revolving door of tags as Haskins and Havoc worked over the former tag champion Brookes, before Joey Janela got back in with chops for all! Haskins resumed the offence by tripping Janela into the corner, where Havoc more than happily raked away on Joey’s eyes as Flash wanted no part of it. The longer the match wore on though, the more you got the feeling that the crowd were just waiting for Eddie… and that would be something that wouldn’t materialise as the story of the match seemed to be more about Flash slowly getting coerced into “joining the dark side”, as it were.
Janela eventually mounted a fightback, but Jimmy Havoc again stops him from tagging out, before running into a Michinoku Driver. Brookes finally gets the tag in as he cleared house on Havoc and Haskins, finishing with a low enziguiri on Webster… just as the other two come back in, and into the path of a crossbody from Andrews. We break down into a Parade of Moves as a PK off the apron from Haskins is followed by a tope from Webster to Brookes, before Andrews’ tope con giro over Joey Janela wiped out everyone… bar Haskins, who was atop of Janela on route to an apron death valley driver. Yeah, that was a LOT to take in!
Joey turns into new Lykos for the elevated lungblower/back senton deal, but it’s not enough, as another Parade of Moves broke out, ending when Brookes countered Webster’s headbutt into a brainbuster, before the rope-hung neckbreaker’s countered into a Strangler. We’ve got more as Haskins’ death valley driver’s turned into a Stundog Millionaire as we keep going, going back to the Havoc and Janela staredown, leading to a low blow from Havoc as the Kiss of Death finally put away Janela. This was fun for what it was, but you definitely got the feeling the crowd expected something a little more here. By the end it was just one big Parade of Moves, but it hit the key points as far as a warm up should go. ***
Post-match, Joey Janela – sounding a little like Mayor Quimby – launched into a tirade on Jimmy Havoc, saying he wanted revenge. Long story short, we’ve got a death match on night three, as they wanted to bring a taste of their New York match to us folks in the “England region” of PROGRESS.
Super Strong Style 16 – Quarter-Final: Angelico vs. Keith Lee
This one offered up a tasty clash of styles… what’d win? Hybrid lucha-libre, or size and strength?
Angelico started by trying to take down Lee with shoulder tackles early, but that was never going to happen… nor was an early ‘rana as Lee just catches him and throws him aside. A leaping knee’s shrugged off as Keith Lee looked for that double handed chop, and Angelico’s life flashed before his eyes as he avoided them.
Angelico throws some jabs, which had some effect, as did a chop, before a ‘rana took Lee into the crowd for a tope con giro as Angelico… flew! Another attempt to fly from Angelico’s swatted down with a double-handed chop, as Lee began to assert himself, going for clubbing blows and those chops again. Those double-hand chops are telegraphed at first, but then they land, as Angelico crumpled to the mat. A second one’s blocked, so Lee just tossed him across the ring with a Beele throw, taking him into the other corner for… yep, more gunshot-like chops.
Eventually Angelico began a fightback, but the up-kicks just angered Lee, who dropped Angelico onto the top rope with a forearm before teasing a superplex. A gamengiri from the apron worked as Angelico slipped free, following up with a senton off the top rope, as more strikes from Lee get him back in control. Again Angelico tries to change it up, but a knee was caught and turned into a pop-up forearm as both men collapsed to the mat.
Lee tries to catch Angelico with a Spirit Bomb, but Angelico slipped out and hit a bicycle knee to almost land the upset win. More of those knees rile up Lee though, as he catches a third one and turned it into a Spirit Bomb, before teasing a top rope moonsault. He takes way too long though, and Angelico clocks him with another gamengiri as he tried to counter with Fall of the Angels… but Lee drops out and… POUNCE!
One Ground Zero Later, and that’s all folks. A game effort from Angelico, but in the end this was the proverbial men against boys scenario as Keith Lee makes it to the semis. ***¼
They play the trailer for the This. Is. PROGRESS. documentary – one that’s had a few varied reviews from the previews that have gone around the media folks… Jack Sexsmith then comes out, complete with his old Divinyls song, as he has a few words for us all. He’s next in line for a title shot, and after making light of the potential for dying at the hands of WALTER, he’s ready for the challenge… and for the future challenge of the Super Strong Style 16 winner, which he hopes is David Starr. Who’s out next!
Super Strong Style 16 – Quarter-Final: David Starr vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
So, Starr got his full intro here, while I was among those in attendance with various degrees of excitedness, looking forward to see how good this was going to be. Spoiler: REALLY.
This was a repeat of the first round in last year’s tournament, and we started with Starr trying to out-wrestle Sabre on the mat, before the pair went in the ropes with Zack roughing-up Starr at every turn. A chop sent Sabre down to the mat as Starr was already feeling sore from Sabre’s initial offence, but Zack was back in with a leg grapevine that took Starr down as they exchanged a flurry of slaps before Zack targeted the left leg once again.
More kicks kept up the bullseye on Starr’s leg, but David’s back in with a clothesline, before the Pretty Pumped was countered into an Octopus stretch, then back into the Pretty Pumped as Starr landed a pair of those for a near-fall. We’ve another leg grapevine, but Starr countered it into Darby Allin’s Last Supper clutch for a near-fall, before Sabre twists the knee between his legs.
On the apron, Starr pulls Sabre into a Cherry Mint DDT as Zack went for the leg again, before a superkick almost led to the win… but Sabre counters with a Euro clutch as a Han Stansen lariat leaves both men down. Starr’s still clutching at his left leg, and that just makes it easier for Sabre as he toyed with more kicks, while Starr was throwing bombs in the form of them Han Stansen lariats.
Zack’s happy to throw shots too, with palm strikes countering the lariats, but it seemed like Han Stansen was winning out, almost knocking Sabre out of the ring. A Violence Party in the corner is absorbed by Sabre, who’s back to those kicks as yet another lariat waffled Zack into the ropes… where he rounded with a vicious PK as Starr had nothing left to give. Well, apart from catching a running uppercut and turning it into a German suplex, as Sabre rushed back in with a triangle armbar.
Starr escapes that with the OTC back cracker, before damn near murdering Zack with a Blackheart Buster… from the kick-out, we’re into a crossface, but they’re way too close to the ropes, as one more Han Stansen absolutely wrecked Sabre. More kicks and stomps to the quadriceps earn Sabre one more Han Stansen as Starr looked for the Product Placement, but instead we get a Kassius Ohno-like rolling elbow to the neck, before the Product Placement is countered as Sabre took Starr Orienteering with Napalm Death, and that’s your lot. Just as good as their match from Shotgun that aired days later, but completely different. No matter your thoughts on either of these guys (okay, one of them) on Twitter, you can’t deny their talent and ability. Compelling from bell-to-bell. ****¼
Millie McKenzie, Sierra Loxton & Laura di Matteo vs. House of Couture (Jinny, Nina Samuels & Chakara)
This was a trio’s women’s match, with Millie and Sierra being joined by a mystery partner… someone who PROGRESS teased as “knowing how to beat Jinny”. For the first time on a chapter show since last July, welcome back Laura di Matteo!
Laura jump started the match by diving into Jinny in the aisle, and the match started as a six-way slug-fest on the floor. Di Matteo puts Jinny in a chair, and dropkicks her out of it as Chakara and Millie hit the ring, with Chakara fighting to avoid a German suplex, before dumping Millie with a fallaway slam.
Jinny and Nina are in next, as a spinning wheelbarrow from Nina sent Millie into Jinny’s knee, but Millie sidesteps a big boot from Samuels as she spears her and tags in Sierra Loxton. Sierra’s a house of fire, wiping out Jinny, Chakara and Nina, leading in with some vicious hip attacks ahead of another forearm to Jinny as the bad guys powdered to the outside… so they could trip Sierra and crotch her.
The House of Couture isolate Loxton for a spell, with a Chakara backfist and a neck snap from Samuels getting a near-fall, ahead of Jinny returning as the she put the boots to Sierra. Forearms follow too, as does a springboard bulldog, but Sierra’s able to turn it around with a bucklebomb that truly wiped out Jinny!
Finally Sierra makes the tag out, bringing in di Matteo as Jinny had nobody to tag out to… Laura was more than ready for this, and we get a pair of clotheslines and an enziguiri to send Jinny into the corner. A suplex kept Jinny closer than she wanted in the corner, as a missile dropkick folds her in half for a near-fall, thanks to Nina Samuels breaking it up.
Jinny counters back with a Japanese armdrag before bringing Chakara back into the mix, but Chakara can’t quite follow up on a Widow’s Peak as we break out into a Parade of Moves, with Jinny laying out Loxton with a Rainmaker, before di Matteo avoids one and sparks off a series of German suplexes from Millie McKenzie… no matter how much Nina tried to avoid it!
Millie sidesteps a charge from Jinny, who flew head-first into Sierra and Nina in the aisle, ahead of a cannonball from Millie to the floor, while Chakara was pulled into a grounded Octopus as di Matteo picked up the win on her return. A fun trios match, which had its high moments… although the return of Laura kind of packs out a division that was already brimming with not much wider direction. ***¼
Super Strong Style 16 – Quarter-Final: Kassius Ohno vs. Tyler Bate
The streak of “Kassius Ohno has rematches from smaller promotions” continued here, as we topped his first round outing (redoing his match with Chris Brookes from IPW), with this quarter-final match. The first time the former Chris Hero met Tyler Bate one-on-one? November 2014, for Southside, when Tyler would have been 17.
This’d be the first time they’d wrestled outside of Southside… cheap plugs over!
Anyway, the winner of this one was scheduled to take on Zack Gibson in the semis, and Ohno started by taking Tyler to the mat with a toe-hold, but Bate spins out and returns the favour with a wristlock-based takedown as the pair went back and forth on the other’s arms until we hit a stalemate. Tyler’s back in with dropkicks as he tried to outfox Ohno, before a big boot just knocked him into the ropes.
A chop from Ohno forces Bate to the outside, where he takes some more by ringside, before they were swapped for clubbing blows back inside en route to a camel clutch. Tyler got free and tried to go up top, but a punch knocks him silly as a cravat pulled him off the top rope before a cravat-based jawbreaker earned Kassius a near-fall. Tyler’s back with bop and bang, before a discus lariat took Ohno down, but he can’t deadlift Ohno into a German suplex.
Bate avoids a flying Death By Elbow and lands on Ohno with a standing shooting star for a near-fall… but Bate’s rebound lariat gets swatted away with an elbow as somehow he found enough in him to kick out! Ohno tries to follow up with a moonsault, but that misses as Bate manages to get off a bridging German suplex for a near-fall, as the crowd came alive! Ohno tries to block the Tyler Driver, but Bate lands on his feet and unleashes with a series of lefts and rights to Ohno… who just powerbombs him instead. We get a Tyler Driver out of Ohno, who rolled through and hits Death By Elbow for yet another near-fall as you sensed that Kassius might not be getting any further at this rate…
Especially as Bate keeps getting up after a barrage of forearms, and finally responds with more strikes, before countering Death by Elbow with some Koppo kicks. Tyler tried to lift up Ohno into a rack, but he loses him… and then tries it again out of the corner, spinning Ohno in a rack! Good heavens! From there, it’s a Tyler Driver, and Tyler’s booked his spot in the final! That was something special – and not just the shoulder-wrecking feat of strength at the end. ****¼
PROGRESS World Championship: WALTER vs. Travis Banks (c)
Going in, they pushed this one as a battle of the streaks, with neither man having lost in singles action since they won their respective titles at Alexandra Palace last September. Glen Joseph is back on commentary for the main event, as there’s another jump start as Banks leapt into WALTER with a shotgun dropkick amid a sea of streamers. A low-pe to the outside follows as Banks kept on top of WALTER, drilling him with a PK off the apron for good measure, ahead of throwing WALTER into the tied-together chairs.
Yeah… that had to suck.
More kicks keep WALTER in the crowd as Banks seemingly wanted to win via count-out… but WALTER was nowhere near dead, so Banks stays on top of him with punches from above. Eventually that riles up WALTER, who leant into Banks’ kicks before… CHOP! There we go! What we all came to see!
More chops take Banks to the outside, and have the champion scurrying as his attempt to fire back in kind was almost laughable… as he was chopped into the front row as the challenger had no remorse. Back inside, WALTER drops a knee onto Banks’ arm, and we’re back to chops as WALTER uses the basics to good effect. Clubbing crossface forearms left Banks loopy in the ropes, a bit like Sheamus, but without the ridiculous mohawk.
WALTER offers himself up for Banks to make a comeback, but CHOP! Banks manages to shrug that off, tripping WALTER into the corner for a cannonball, but he can’t get WALTER up for a Kiwi Krusher, and we’re back to a slugfest as Banks desperately tried to avoid further chops. It didn’t work. A big boot from WALTER’s met with a leaping lariat from Banks as both men fell to the canvas. WALTER’s back up with more chops, and after Banks escapes a Gojira clutch, a shotgun dropkick took Banks down… only for him to come back up to DDT his way free of a powerbomb. The Lion’s Clutch is next, but Banks can’t keep hold, and WALTER is back to the chops, sending the Kiwi crumpling to the mat, before he rebounds with a crucifix bomb.
Banks goes back to the Lion’s Clutch, before a Slice of Heaven’s caught and countered with a Gojira clutch. There’s an attempt to escape, but TK Cooper comes out, cosplaying as Roman Reigns, and gets his head kicked off before he’s dumped to the outside with a gorilla press slam. Thanks for coming! Taking advantage of the distraction, Banks nails a Slice of Heaven for a near-fall, before he peppered WALTER with more kicks, as another Slice of Heaven’s caught and turned into a Boston crab! WALTER slips out into a STF, which Banks breaks via the ropes, only to get waffled with a lariat as those near-falls begin to mount up.
Another Gojira clutch ends when Banks sent himself and WALTER to the outside… but although Banks gets back to his feet, he teases a walk-out, returning only to grab the belt and leave with a loss… but with his title intact. The crowd booed that, with the initial responses live being along the lines of “cop out”. ***½
WALTER was as pissed at that, as we all were, calling Banks a disgrace to the title and to the promotion. WALTER still wanted the title, but with Banks running with his tail between his legs, all he could do was murder TK some more with a powerbomb to keep the crowd happy.
Compared to night one, this was a much better show, if only for the variety away from tournament action – with a couple of matches sticking up above the pack, as opposed to the constant stuff that was at the same level. My only nitpick was the finish of the main event, which was a good way to extend the story rather than pay it off… but man, there’s something about ending one of your big shows with a count-out that I just don’t get on with. Unfortunately, some tweaks would be needed for night three due to injuries, but Super Strong Style 16 would remain on course to be up there with PROGRESS’ best shows by the time it was all said and done.
- “Chapter 68 – Super Strong Style 16 – Night Two” is available now via Demand-PROGRESS.com – either to rent, buy, or as part of their monthly subscription service.