SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
PROGRESS WRESTLING “SUPER STRONG STYLE 16 – DAY 3”
MAY 7, 2018
LONDON, ENGLAND AT ALEXANDRA PALACE
REPORT BY DAVE GREEN (@dagreeno)
The third day of SSS16 saw the semi-finals and finals of the tournament take place, as well as a Women’s Championship match, a Death Match and the now annual Wasteman Challenge.
The day wasn’t without it’s issues. Just before doors opened, PROGRESS announced that Tyler Bate suffered a shoulder injury during the previous night’s match with Kassius Ohno and thus he couldn’t continue in the tournament. Also Pete Dunne was unable to be at the show due to a family emergency.
The show kicked off with footage from the previous night’s gig by Mark Andrews’ band Junior, which showed Eddie Dennis invading the stage to choke out the band’s tour manager/rapper. This continued Dennis’ promise to follow Mark everywhere and hurt the ones he loves. Andrews called out Dennis to the ring. He ran down the things that Eddie had been doing and that he was hoping that the whole situation would blow over and Eddie would grow up. After attacking someone who’s not a wrestler and can’t defend himself, Andrews finally agreed to give Eddie what he wants – a fight. Andrews said he would wait until Eddie was medically cleared and that Eddie could not show up at PROGRESS any more until then. Dennis begrudgingly agreed, but added that he got to choose the stipulations of their match. After a shoving contest, Andrews forced Dennis out of the ring, with Dennis fuming that Andrews would do that when he’s nine weeks out of surgery. Andrews made his way back but got attacked by Eddie on the stage. Back in the ring, Eddie choked Andrews out before finally leaving.
To lighten things up, the Wasteman Challenge was up next. “Big Wavy” Roy Johnson made his way to the ring to oversee events. The challenge is either a match or a rap battle, and much like last year the challenge was answered by several wrestlers: Chuck Mambo, Jordan Devlin, David Starr, Chris Brookes, Angelico and Kassius Ohno.
Mambo attempted a rap, followed by Devlin who absolutely burned Johnson on the mic. Ohno then proceeded to deliver the lyrics of his old Chris Hero theme song. Jim Smallman interrupted proceedings to inform the wrestlers that they were now competing the vacant semi final spot in the tournament.
(1) Chris Brookes vs. Chuck Mambo vs. Jordan Devlin vs. David Starr vs. Roy Johnson vs. Angelico vs. Kassius Ohno
This was all action from the get go. Angelico wrestled the match with a Go-Pro attached to his chest. Johnson kept trying to square up to Ohno only to continually get knocked out. Loads of dives, loads of strikes, everyone looked good, with Devlin getting the lion’s share of the crowd adulation. He unfortunately took the pin here, falling to the Death Blow that saw Kassius Ohno advance back into the tournament in place on the man who defeated him yesterday, Tyler Bate
WINNER: Kassius Ohno
Jim Smallman went to introduce the next match but was interrupted by Mark Haskins, Vicky Haskins and Flash Morgan Webster. Mark angrily demanded a match. The challenge was answered by the popular tandem of Connor Mills and Maverick Mayhew
2: Mark Haskins & Flash Morgan Webster vs Maverick Mayhew & Connor Mills
Haskins started fast, jumping the young pair before the bell and taking out a lot of aggression against both. Flash spent most of the match trying to calm Haskins down and get him to play fair. Haskins pretty much dominated the whole match, taking out Maverick with a dive and locking the Sharpshooter on Mills for the quick tap out. He kept the hold applied until Webster remonstrated with him to let go.
Winners: Mark Haskins & Flash Morgan Webster
(3) SSS16 Semi Final – Keith Lee vs. Zack Sabre Jr
This was a thoroughly engaging match up. Sabre’s wriggling around Lee as he attempted submissions earned him the name of “spaghetti man” from Lee. Surprisingly, Lee only managed to kept one of double chops in against Sabre, who then managed to trap Lee in the European Clutch for the out of nowhere pin. Lee received a standing ovation and bowed to the crowd in what is almost certainly his final appearance in PROGRESS and possibly in the UK independents.
Winner, advancing to the final: Zack Sabre Jr
(4) SSS16 Semi Final Match – Kassius Ohno vs. Zack Gibson (w/James Drake)
Gibson and Ohno engaged in some really good technical exchanges and shoulder tackle bouts, until Drake started getting involved on the outside, causing a distraction. Gibson took control for a long portion of the match, before Ohno made his comeback. Gibson pulled the referee away to complain, while Drake entered the ring to set Ohno up for his DDT, but referee Joel Allen turned around just as Drake was about to start the move. Drake left the ring, but Allen had enough of Drake’s antics. Allen had refereed all of Gibson’s matches over the weekend and finally sent Drake away from ringside. While Drake was being dragged away, Gibson leant over the ropes to protest. Ohno took advantage and hit the Death Blow to get the win and advance to face ZSJ in the finals.
WINNER: Kassius Ohno
(5) Death Match – Jimmy Havoc vs. Joey Janela
This was, of course, an extremely violent affair. Janela was the first to take extreme punishment, being driven through a wooden door. Yes, a door. Janela splashed Havoc through a table off the stage. Havoc hit an Iconoclasm onto a chair with a cinder block on it, which Janela took full force on his shoulder. He later put Havoc and himself through a barbed wire covered table, which badly cut Janela’s back. In a callback to their previous encounter in New York, Janela removed Havoc’s footwear, exposing his feet. Hundreds of drawing pins were piled up on the mat, but Janela was laid down on them. Havoc leapt from the middle rope for a stomp, but Janela moved and Havoc went feet first into the pins! A suplex onto the pins was surprisingly enough for Janela to pick up the win.
WINNER: Joey Janela
Havoc lay in the corner of the ring and held his hand out to Jim Smallman. In what looked to be a callback to Chapter 21 when Smallman helped Havoc to his feet after a similar match, Havoc swatted his hand away and grabbed the microphone. He stated that he doesn’t get enough respect from the fans or the company. He went on to air his grievances at Smallman, stating the reasons why he and Mark Haskins had been acting the way they had, due to be overlooked and management never having anything for them. Havoc stated that he returned to help Smallman, only to be look past for certain roster members that had three certain letters associated with them. He finally stated that the final straw was Will Ospreay being brought back to the company on Smallman’s request, despite having lost a loser leaves Progress match against Havoc, after just six months, when they had never asked Havoc back. Saying that he understood why, that he’s broken, he teased that would probably be hanging the boots up, but sudddenly Will Ospreay’s music hit!
Ospreay entered the arena to a huge reaction carrying an axe. Havoc put his own head across a chair. Ospreay stated he end it all right now, which Havoc responded to go ahead and do it. Ospreay dropped the axe, saying it was too easy. Havoc picked up the axe and sized Ospreay up. “The old Jimmy would have buried that axe in my back by now”. Ospreay went on to state that he agreed with Havoc, that Progress was built by Havoc vs Ospreay, and that while he had progressed with his career in New Japan, Havoc had regressed. Ospreay made the challenge that they needed to end the feud, but that he wanted the old Jimmy Havoc – the sick, twisted Jimmy Havoc. And he wanted it 30th September at Wembley Arena! Havoc accepted, throwing himself into the drawing pins still in the ring.
Although the match will not be to everyone’s taste, the entire segment from Havoc explaining his actions for the last seven months to Ospreay’s challenge is one of the best segments in PROGRESS history. Ospreay’s quietly become one of the best promos in the game and his delivery was thrilling. A wonderful segment.
The second half kicked off with a surprise appearance by Christian Michael Jakobi, the promoter and co-owner of Germany’s WXW. He wanted to address Pete Dunne, but as he was not there would have to make a public address towards Dunne instead. He stated that he was the most powerful man in European wrestling and that he has had a great run of spotting new talent and making them great, siting the names of Aleister Black, Alexander Wolfe, Axel Dieter Jr and Ring Kampf as examples of this fact. He stated outright that Pete Dunne is not, as many believe, the best wrestler in Europe and that if it were true, then Dunne would have to face a certain someone in the future. Namely the WXW Champion Ilja Dragunov!
No date was specified for this dream match, but most are under the assumption it will take place on PROGRESS’ forthcoming tour of Germany with WXW.
(6)Women’s Championship Match – Toni Storm (c) vs. Charlie Morgan
This match was made after Morgan turned on Storm to join the House of Couture stable and had since racked a few wins. Morgan stated in a promo that all she’d heard from people was the question of why she’d joined the group and that she was better than that. Her response – “Yeah, I am”. This infuriated Jinny, who made the stipulation that if Morgan did not win the title tonight, then she would be allowed in the building when Jinny challenges for the women’s title on 20th May in Manchester.
Although Morgan had her supporters that saw her triumphant at Eve two nights ago, she turned the crowd against her pretty strongly. This was one of Storm’s best title defences in PROGRESS, as she comes close to making it to a year long reign as the first women’s champion. Some wicked outside brawling was capped off by a huge Morgan moonsault (which I myself barely avoided!). Towards the end, Morgan’s high risk moves cost her as Storm caught her springboard attempt with a German Suplex followed by the Strong Zero piledriver for the successful title defence.
Winner and still PROGRESS Women’s Champion: Toni Storm
(7) PROGRESS Atlas Champion Walter vs. TK Cooper (Non-title match)
This match was made as a way for Walter to gain a measure of revenge for Cooper’s interference in his match with PROGRESS Champion Travis Banks the previous night. Banks accompanied Cooper to ringside.
This was pretty much a massacre. Although a Banks distraction saw Cooper connect with a low blow and a spear for a two count, a follow up scissor kick was countered with a magnificent lariat, which was one of the best images of the whole weekend. Walter powerbombed Cooper and looked directly at Banks as he applied an STF for the submission.
Winner by submission and generally murdering his opponent: Walter
Banks got on the mic and said Walter failed in his title match and that he should stick to his own weight class. The delusional champion then stated that he would never defend the title against Walter while he remained the Atlas champion. Walter considered this and then handed Jim Smallman the Atlas title belt, seemingly vacating it, and chasing Banks & Cooper to the back.
(8) SSS16 Finals: Kassius Ohno vs. Zack Sabre Jr
A final that had an interesting statistic – these men have wrestled 12 times in the past, each winning 6 of those matches. Seemingly this would be the last time these men would wrestle for the foreseeable future.
This was pretty much everything you would expect it to be. Hard hitting, technical wrestling at its absolute purest. Both men struck each other hard, even on the outside directly in front of me (so much so that Ohno actually fell onto my lap out of exhaustion! I certainly it my money’s worth!). Back in the ring, Ohno nearly scored the win with the only piledriver he hit all weekend! After nearly 20 minutes of amazing grappling, Ohno hit a big boot setting Sabre draped across the top rope. With his opponent in prime position, Ohno removes his arm pad, ran the ropes for the Death Blow, only for ZSJ to catch him off the ropes into a European Clutch for the three count to win SSS16 on his third attempt!
WINNER of the 2018 Super Strong Style 16: ZACK SABRE JR.
This win adds another huge tournament to ZSJ’s tally – WXW 16 Carat, PWG Battle of Los Angeles, IPW:UK Super 8 and of course the New Japan Cup, among others. With this win, ZSJ gets a PROGRESS World Title shot whenever he wants. On the mic, he simply said “Wembley, innit”.
And so ends another big SSS16 weekend. Having missed last year’s, I was immensely happy to be back anyway. Even though Alexandra Palace doesn’t quite equate to the atmosphere of the Electric Ballroom, the last two shows of this weekend were the first time I’ve felt like the atmosphere was the closest it’s ever been to that at a “big event” that PROGRESS have done outside the Ballroom. With this weekend done, PROGRESS now can look ahead to 20th May at the 2000 capacity Warehouse in Manchester where Jack Sexsmith will challenge Travis Banks for the world title, Jinny will challenge Toni Storm for the women’s title and British Strong Style (Dunne, Bate and Trent Seven) will take on Jimmy Havoc, Flash Morgan Webster and Mark Haskins in a trios match. Also the huge Wembley will now seemingly start to take shape, with Zack Sabre Jr the headline title challenger, Will Ospreay vs Jimmy Havoc and, presumably and hopefully, Mark Andrews vs Eddie Dennis.
The VOD of these shows should be on demand-progress.com this weekend at the very earliest (they usually take a week to go up and they won’t go up at the same time as each other) and tickets are still available for the Manchester and Wembley shows.
Also announced was that the This Is PROGRESS documentary feature will premier at the Burning Hammer film festival (yes, a wrestling film festival) in London on the weekend of the 14th-16th September, tickets went on sale for that today.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS REPORT: 5/6 Progress Wrestling “Super Strong Styles 16 – Night 2”: Tyler Bate, Keith Lee, Sabre Jr., Dunne, Gibson, Andrews, Janela, Havoc, Haskins