We’re getting the second round of matches for SSS16 tonight as well as a big time PROGRESS world title match between the champ Travis Banks and the Atlas champion WALTER. We also have a 6 woman tag match with a mystery partner on the babyface side.
Let’s dive into the show!
Zack Gibson def. Pete Dunne via DQ
This wasn’t nearly as fun as I’d hoped it’d be. Zack Gibson is a terrific agitating heel and who better in the tournament field to shut him up with a satisfying beatdown than Pete Dunne? Dunne is one of the absolute best at working from the top which makes his anti-heroic babyface character real fun to watch.
The problem with Gibson is: he gets so much heat but he’s not a bump and sell heel. Dunne’s NXT match with Adam Cole was great fun, because Cole bumped around for Dunne like a pinball. Compare that with this, where Gibson took Dunne’s offense seemingly in great stride. There was never a satisfying “Take that, Gibson!’ moment. It’s simply not one of Gibson’s strengths, unfortunately.
And then we had the finish, which was confusing and even less satisfying. Entropy (Jimmy Havoc, Mark Haskins and Flash Morgan Webster) ran in with weapons. Dunne fought them off with a chair that Havoc brought down, like the world beater he is. He then nailed Gibson with the chair out of instinct, leading to his DQ.
Entropy’s attack seemed incredibly random. Dunne had feuded with Havoc last year but not with the other members, so their agenda was muddled. I guess I should’ve known Dunne wouldn’t drop a fall, but the way this was done gave the Grizzled Young Vets more go away heat for me than anything else. I was not a fan of all this. **3/4
Afterwards Entropy beat Dunne up and ordered Flash to finish him with the barbed wire bat, but Flash hesitated long enough for Tyler bate to make the save. Flash’s story of “will he turn or won’t he” continues.
Jordan Devlin def. Chuck Mambo & TK Cooper
Part of Mambo’s entrance involves the crowd showering him with beach balls, which is neat. Devlin backflip kicked a beach ball into the crowd prior to the match. It was quite impressive and got him way over.
This was very fun! Sure, it was of minimal consequence. As was pointed out on commentary none of these men wanted to lose twice on the weekend, though. The action here was tight and fast-paced. The three way spots were inventive and not too contrived. There was a sense of urgency throughout and no extended “guy rests on the floor” spots. The crowd was real into Mambo after his stellar Night 1 performance, but Devlin was the standout here. He got the win with a package piledriver on Mambo. ***3/4
Jimmy Havoc, Mark Haskins, & Flash Morgan Webster def. Chris Brookes, Joey Janela, & Mark Andrews
The action here was good but this was largely forgettable. The babyface team felt very jumbled together. The story here still revolves around Flash and whether he is truly a bad guy.
Janela ate a Rainmaker low blow and was subsequently double teamed and killed. The real intrigue came afterwards when he challenged Havoc to a deathmatch on Night 3. It’s on! ***
Keith Lee def. Angelico
This was very good, one of Angelico’s best singles performances I’ve ever seen. A spot early on saw Angelico attempt strike after strike against Lee and Lee literally walked right through every one of them. Lee wasn’t no selling them; he was blocking them, nonchalantly like in an anime. No joke, it was one of the best spots I’ve seen all year.
Lee has really improved his striking, which was one of his weak points a couple of years ago. His overhand chops were absolutely devastating. One such chop almost made time stand still, as Angelico had a delayed reaction of pain as if his body was trying to shield his mind from registering the pain. Another chop made Angelico crumple in the corner, as if reverting to childhood. Angelico’s selling and bumping was terrific here. Lee has truly mastered his big man style of match.
Lee was attempting a moonsault but Angelico went to crucifix powerbomb him off the turnbuckle. He held Lee in the air for a breathtaking few seconds before Lee escaped, killed Angelico with a pounce and finished it with Ground Zero. Great match. ****
Zack Sabre Jr. def. David Starr
This was my favorite match of the tournament thus far. These two had an absolute war. The technical wrestling here was fantastic, as Sabre looked to dominate in that regard but Starr was no slouch. Starr’s big move in this match was his Han Stansen lariat, which he threw against Sabre numerous times from a straight standing position. Starr used the standing lariat much like how WALTER uses chops. Starr would hammer Sabre with it to create distance and stop Sabre’s grappling rhythm and momentum.
Sabre looked to tear Starr’s knee apart here. Sabre, much like on night 1 was letting all his vicious hang out, as he continually broke Starr’s leg down in a variety of impressive ways. There were so many incredible exchanges here, and Starr’s selling was tremendous. The escalation all worked and Starr eventually connected with a running Han Stansen lariat but was too slow to cover because of his knee. Starr on one leg could not ward off Sabre for long as Sabre outwrestled his injured opponent and trapped him in Orienteering With Napalm Death. Starr was forced to tap. What a fantastic match. ****1/2
Laura Di Matteo, Millie McKenzie, & Sierra Loxton def. House of Couture (Chakara, Jinny, & Nina Samuels)
Laura Di Matteo is back! She’s the mystery partner. Tons of history with Jinny so it’s a good move to bring her back. House of Couture’s entrance I found very compelling for some reason. They looked like a true force of a unit, carried by Jinny’s great presence as the leader. Di Matteo was less impressed than me and hit them all with a suicide dive in the aisle. Hot start!
Di Matteo has improved quite a bit. She’s semi-abandoned the shooter gimmick and is now just a silent no nonsense killer. Her exchanges with Jinny were hot and I anticipate them meeting on a big stage. Nina Samuels has become one of my favorites lately and she wasn’t the focus here but was still great. Chakara is still young and shows promise. Millie is a prodigy and future superstar and Loxton is…fine.
Millie had her usual Brock Lesnar spot where she gives everyone German suplexes. Nina has this fun bit of character work where she tries to run away, only to get caught and German suplexed anyway. Millie sidestepped Jinny who went sailing to the outside onto Nina. Millie then climbed the top turnbuckle and cannon balled onto everyone on the outside.
Matteo finished off Chakara with a tilt a whirl into a Russian leg sweep into a grounded octopus stretch. Fun match. ***1/4
Tyler Bate def. Kassius Ohno
This match ruled. Ohno worked his old bully style against a terrific babyface in Tyler Bate. Bate is everything you want in your hero. He’s young, handsome, undersized, yet incredibly capable and full of heart and determination. He’s the perfect leading man.
Bate would continually fight from underneath and demonstrate great feats of strength while Ohno pummeled him with strikes again and again. Bate would suplex Ohno and Ohno would crush Bate’s jaw in kind. Ohno also had Bate’s big moves scouted as he continually cut him off as Bate would attempt them.
Eventually Bate just let it all hang out and slugged away at Hero with closed fists, putting everything he had into every strike. Bate continues to impress me with his unique ways of escalating his matches. Ohno hit Bate with his own Tiger driver before destroying him with a rolling elbow to the back of the head. Bate kicked out and the crowd went nuts.
Ohno tried to finish him with Death By Elbow but Bate intercepted it with a Koppo kick. Bate pulled Ohno off the top turnbuckle Burning Hammer style, but it wasn’t for a Hammer, it was for a giant airplane spin! That was amazing and bate immediately followed it with the Tyler Driver 97 for the win. This was excellent. ****1/4
WALTER def. Travis Banks via countout
Banks kept moving and used hit and run tactics to keep WALTER off balance early. There was a great sense of urgency throughout and the match felt chaotic. Banks throws everything at WALTER but WALTER can turn the tide with but one chop. Banks, unlike Zack Gibson, is also a great bump and sell heel. He took a great ass kicking throughout this.
After emptying the playbook against the big man Banks took his title and walked away. That’s how this ended. …
Ok so there’s no getting around it. This finish sucked. I hated it. I get that Banks beat everyone clean for 6 months and people got tired of it and now they’re doing something different, but this was the main event of this show. Yes, there’s a night 3, but this was still a wholly unsatisfying way to close this night.
The match itself was actually very good! That’s what’s so upsetting about this. There are some people who have soured on Banks but I still feel he is one of the best wrestlers in the world. His fire and ability to realistically sell gutsiness when it counts is absolutely world class. And WALTER is currently my Wrestler of the Year, and continued to be an incredible unstoppable force in this match as well.
This was on its way to being ****+ when the lame finish happened. The rematch better have a better conclusion than this. ***1/4
A better ending to the main event and we would’ve had one of the best PROGRESS shows in awhile. As is, this was still a very strong show with some excellent tournament matches.