Friday, May 18, 2018
Following a night one filled with good matches, Super Strong Style 16 continues onto night two. We’ll set up the final four participants for night three, the women of PROGRESS are on the card, and we’ll see a highly anticipated PROGRESS World Championship match.
Jim Smallman’s opening spiel saw him question the whereabouts of the fans who were there for night two but missed night one.
Zack Gibson’s pre-match promo focused on how “easy” Pete Dunne’s schedule is. When Pete’s baby on the way was mentioned, it got “BRUISERBABY” chants. Dunne shut him up by beating him and Drake with a shoe. It worked as enough of a distraction for Gibson to take control when the bell officially rang. He worked at a methodical pace, not wanting to waste too much energy with more tournament matches ahead of him if he were to win. He also kept trying for quick wins, which made sense. With Gibson having his number, Dunne had to pull out something new, hitting Sliced Bread No. 2. Grizzled Young Vets used a distracted referee to regain the upper hand. It ended up backfiring and Dunne countered Ticket to Ride into a big powerbomb. Unfortunately, out came Haskins/Havoc/Haskins/Webster. A chair got involved and Dunne threatened to use it on Vicky. Flash stepped in front to protect her. Dunne ended up hitting Gibson with the chair, getting DQed in 10:04. A disappointing finish, though the rest of the match was strong. It does help set up the six man tag for Victoria Warehouse.
Post-match, Tyler Bate ran out to save Pete Dunne. He threw shoes at the attackers.
All three lost in the opening round on night one. Mambo had a breakout performance, TK was his usual self, and Devlin showed improvement. Interestingly, Mambo and TK had a bet that the loser of the first round would have to wear the shirt of the other guy. Both lost, so both wore each other’s shirt during their entrance. The match saw a lot of creative spots. My favorite might’ve been Mambo putting TK in the Romero Special and Devlin attempting to cover Mambo. They also played up the hard Samoan head wrestling rule with TK, even though he’s from New Zealand. Devlin had a great spot where he hit a Satellite DDT on TK and then immediately caught a springboarding Mambo with an Ace Crusher for a great near fall. He picked up the win shortly after with a Package Piledriver on Mambo at 7:22. Hella fun three way. They packed a ton of action into it and included some fun, creative spots. Another impressive showing from all three guys and I’m ready for more Devlin in PROGRESS.
Talk about an oddball group of babyfaces. Havoc spent a good chunk of the match avoiding Joey Janela, not interested in a rematch from their wacky New York match last year. After a fast paced start, Brookes was isolated and played the face in peril role for a while. Surprisingly, it was Janela, not Andrews, who got the hot tag. It worked as the crowd was into the “Bad Boy” and his offense had a lot of fire. Following a wild Janela Death Valley Driver on the apron, the match broke down. Everyone started hitting big offense and bringing the barrage you’d expect in a match like this. It came down to Havoc and Janela, with Havoc hitting a low blow that set up the Kiss of Death for the finish in 15:22. It probably went a bit long, but it was fun. The heel unit continues to work well and the added dynamic of Webster is an interesting one. The faces worked well together, with Janela shining.
Post-match, Haskins got in Webster’s face, most likely for his unsure status with the team. Janela got on the microphone to challenge Havoc to a Death Match on night three, which would be a rematch from PROGRESS: New York.
Yea, “Bangarang” fits Angelico. When Lee gets to play the dominant role, his matches usually work. That was the case here. I got a kick out of Lee swatting away Angelico attacks as well as Angelico avoiding a chop and walking away relieved that his chest was okay. Angelico would sucker him in, which was a good strategy, but any Lee offense would just floor him. Some of his chops just sounded like Angelico’s chest was going to cave in. Angelico kept finding little hope spots and every piece of his offense was believable. That’s very important against a guy like Lee. His knees strikes looked great. He impressed when he tried for Fall of the Angels, managing to hold Lee up for a few seconds. Alas, he couldn’t hold him for long. Lee slipped out and hit the POUNCE (PERIOD) followed by Ground Zero to win in 14:35. Like Lee’s match with Webster in the first round, this was damn good. He was so great as the big aggressor, while Angelico fought from behind with an array of strong, realistic offense. I like.
The trailer for the This.Is.PROGRESS documentary looks great. Following intermission, Jack Sexsmith was brought out for a word. He had “I Touch Myself” back as his theme. He just came out to say he’d find out tonight who his opponent would be for his PROGRESS World Title shot in a few weeks. Either current champion Travis Banks or WALTER. He admitted to being timid about facing WALTER before and having lost to Banks in the past, but this is a different Jack Sexsmith. In his mind, you’re looking at the next PROGRESS Champion. He ended by introducing the man he hopes will win the tournament, David Starr
In last year’s tournament, Sabre bested Starr in an opening round banger (***¾). Similar to that match, Starr looked to work the mat against Sabre and show that he could hang with the best. For the most part, he did. The match got progressively more vicious as it went on. At one point, they just sat in the middle of a submission slapping the hell out of each other. Sabre focused on Starr’s legs, doing damage on both to the point where Starr had trouble standing. Starr fired up and reeled off HAN STANSEN lariats, but Sabre wouldn’t stay down. The final few minutes were absolutely wild. Starr broke a triangle choke with a sick looking Project Ciampa and added a ridiculous Blackheart Buster, but his leg was too hurt to cover instantly. No matter, as he took the kickout and went right into a crossface, only for Sabre to be too close to the ropes. Starr kept hitting lariats and going for Product Placement. Sabre had it scouted at every turn and eventually turned one into Orienteering with Napalm Death. You need to see that move, because it’s deadly. It’s show Sabre won the New Japan Cup and how he advanced here at 15:57. The best match of the weekend up to this point. Some fantastic wrestling, great selling, dramatic exchanges, and an awesome finish. Just excellent.
The babyface team had a mystery partner and it was the returning Di Matteo. I believe the last time I saw her, she lost one hell of a match to Toni Storm. She’s very good and has a history with Jinny. On cue, Laura took out the House of Couture with a dive during their entrance. Things started hot, with Loxton getting a shot to run wild. Once it calmed down, Jinny was either being aggressive in the ring or directing traffic from the apron. She did her best to avoid Di Matteo, but her partners weren’t able to make it to the apron when Laura got tagged in. Di Matteo got her chance to beat up Jinny and mostly succeeded. We got a barrage of offense from everyone late, including Millie taking girls to Suplex City. She also hit a somersault to the outside onto a pile. That left Di Matteo alone with Chakara, who she made tap to an Octopus in 10:56. This was fun. A few spots came off looking awkward, but it had a lot of energy and the Di Matteo/Jinny stuff was intriguing.
Jim Smallman announced that the Wasteman Hangover Challenge returns on night three.
What is this, NXT? Tyler Bate got introduced as a, “Big strong boy.” Like what I said about Keith Lee earlier, Ohno as the bully just works for him. It’s even better when he has a guy like Tyler Bate to play off. Bate started well enough, but got too cocky and Ohno laid him out. Ohno wrecked Bate with his powerful offense over and over. Any time it looked like Tyler might get something going, Ohno was there to knock him down. The fans came alive as Bate refused to stay down. He began swinging wildly, throwing everything he had at Ohno. However, when Ohno hit his own Tyler Driver ’97 and rolled Bate through for Death By Elbow, everyone believed it was over. Bate somehow managed to kick out and fight some more. Though Bate struggled to lift Ohno at first, he used the turnbuckle to help get him on his shoulders. From there, Bate did an incredible airplane spin! He added the Tyler Driver ’97 to advance to the finals in 15:00. That ruled. An absolute banger that played into the strengths of both men. Ohno reminded us how good he is, while Bate, at just 21, showed again why he’s among the best on the planet. This was special.
The video package for this match focused on how neither man has lost since winning their respective titles at Alexandra Palace last September. Knowing he was outmatched, Banks dropkicked WALTER during introductions and kept up the assault outside. Of course, that couldn’t last and WALTER began to dominate. Commentary kept harping on how Banks hasn’t been dominated this way since winning the title. Once that segment was up, Banks and WALTER began trading some big offense. You believed each guy had won at several points. WALTER survived the Lion’s Clutch and caught the Slice of Heaven into the Gojira Clutch! However, TK Cooper ran out and got in the ring wearing a Roman Reigns vest. His offense attempt was stopped with ease by WALTER. Banks came close with the Slice of Heaven, but WALTER started throwing lariats. After being dumped outside and the referee reaching nine in his count, Banks grabbed his title and walked off, getting counted out in 16:42. That finish holds it back from being truly great, but I understand why it was done. You’ve got a reason for the rematch. The match itself was very good, with hard hitting exchanges and some good drama late.
Overall: Night one was very good from top to bottom. Night two managed to improve on that. Again, nothing went under three stars and the show had a higher ceiling. WALTER/Banks was great outside of the finish, while Lee/Angelico was strong. Bate/Ohno and Sabre/Starr were among the best matches in PROGRESS all year long. A fantastic show that makes me feel good about what’s next for PROGRESS. I’m excited to see night three.