The biggest weekend in the PROGRESS calendar is upon us once again. Super Strong Style 16 is traditionally the beginning of the Summer long story. With only half the field considered PROGRESS regulars and there being an utter lack of a standout contender, the tournament was wide open. 

PROGRESS Wrestling
Super Strong Style 16 Night 1
May 4 2019
Alexandra Palace
London, England

Watch: Demand Progress

Unusually there was seven PROGRESS debuts on the card with Kyle O’Reilly of the Undisputed Era being the headline name amongst the group.

SSS16 First Round
Ilja Dragunov def. Chris Brookes

I can fully understand why this match was chosen to open the show. Brookes is beloved by many and Ilja is a PROGRESS regular but sadly this first time ever singles match was not a hot opener. There were clunky awkward exchanges throughout the match, slow plodding offense from Ilja early on not the what this crowd wanted. Ilja’s selling of his leg that Brookes worked over for less than a minute was inconsistent and really rather annoying. Brookes, as is to be expected had some flashy, cool offense but that just isn’t enough to bring up what was a pretty poor match. Torpedo Moscow would get the job done for the WWE contracted talent and see Chris Brookes eliminated in Round 1 for the second consecutive year. **

SSS16 First Round
Kyle Fletcher def. Daga

Kyle Fletcher would have been considered an outside favourite before the weekend began and he would move into the quarter finals courtesy of a one man Fidget Spinner. The Aussie Arrow and the debuting Daga seemed to struggle with each other and the match lacked the smoothness I would expect from Fletcher. Daga, despite some issues (an early somersault tope during which he landed on the top of his head being an example), displayed unexpected strength catching a Fletcher crossbody and powering him into a brainbuster as well as a deadlift gutwrench powerbomb. A match that never quite seemed to escape second gear but the result those in attendance wanted **3/4

SSS16 First Round
Travis Banks def. DJ Z

The only former PROGRESS World Champion in the tournament kicked off his attempt to become the first two time SSS16 winner as Travis Banks defeated a very game DJZ. DJZ was another PROGRESS debutant and I have no doubt he left Alexandria Palace with a few more fans. His unique offense continually frustrated Banks, a pop up dropkick being a personal highlight. Banks did counter a number of attempted ZDT’s by DJZ and when Z was finally able to put it on Banks he was just too worn out to capitalise. Banks would advance after a Kiwi Krusher and continue his quest to return to the top of the PROGRESS mountain ***1/4

SSS16 First Round
Jordan Devlin def. Lucky Kid

The Irish Ace Jordan Devlin began his weekend taking on the winner of the 2019 wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament Lucky Kid. These two actually have history as eight years ago they toured together in Zero1 in Japan but this was their first one on one match. After a slow start, this match would really pick up about halfway through. Momentum would swing both ways and Devlin would very nearly tap to a crossface from Kid when twice he was rolled back to the centre of the ring as he attempted to reach the ropes. An avalanche springboard cutter from the corner by Devlin had the most beautifully disgusting landing and a DevlinSide (pull up Saito suplex) would follow to send the Irishman into the quarter finals. A good match but these two are capable of so much more together. ***1/2

SSS16 First Round
Trevor Lee def. Aerostar

A pair of PROGRESS debutantes battled in what was really a nothing match. Trevor Lee’s promo before the match began was the highlight of it all and it was interesting to see a guy lean into being signed by WWE treated as a heel in modern day PROGRESS. Aerostar had limited opportunity to showcase a mixture of his high flying lucha attacks before a low blow by the Carolina Caveman secured the win. **1/2

SSS16 First Round
David Starr def. Artemis Spencer

I don’t hide the fact that I am a massive David Starr fan; he is the most complete professional wrestler in the world right now. Artemis Spencer I was totally unfamiliar with before this match but I will now be seeking out more of his work. Through a combination of David Starr being the most over man on the show, Spencer’s spectacular offense and Starr’s regular high standard of work made this the best match of the night.

Not only was the action in ring captivating, it also established Spencer as a threat for anyone in PROGRESS and Starr as the man to beat in this years tournament. Spencer’s variety of suplexes and strikes as well as an unusual top rope senton while Starr was lying on the top rope left an impression. A Han Stanson lariat followed by a Kaepernick (powerbomb onto a knee) was enough to send the INDEPENDENT Starr to the quarter finals. ****1/4

SSS16 First Round
Paul Robinson def. Darby Allin

David Starr aside Paul Robinson is my favourite current PROGRESS regular. His hatred and utter contempt for the fans, other wrestlers and anyone that crosses his path is a joy to behold. Not since Napoleon Bonaparte has a man so small been so feared by the British public. He just so happened to be paired with a similarly small in stature but equally lacking in fucks in Darby Allin.

This one began as wild as you would expect with Darby attacking Robbo while he was in the middle of jaw jacking some fans. A short brawl outside the ring followed before the match began proper once they returned to the ring. Allin is so smooth and crisp much in all of his movements that I have no doubt he will be a major star in AEW. A daring coffin drop to the outside would be Darby’s undoing however as Robbo would avoid his opponents fall allowing the ring crew to take the impact. A Curb Stomp by Robinson as Allin crawled back into the ring would send the Essex native into the next round. ***1/4

SSS16 First Round
Kyle O’Reilly def. Chris Ridgeway

Kyle O’Reilly defeating Chris Ridgeway shouldn’t come as a surprise but that’s not to say it made sense. Riddy, as evidenced by the chants throughout this match, is over with the PROGRESS crowd and if there is one thing PROGRESS are struggling with it is creating stars of their own. Having already lost a title match against WALTER earlier this year, SSS16 would have appeared to be the perfect opportunity to build Smashmouth back up.

The relationship with WWE has given PROGRESS consistent access to WWE contracted talent but matches like this one prove that that isn’t always a good thing. O’Reilly wrestled within himself and while the match was fine, the grappling exchanges being the highlight, this very much felt like a match that was put together with little thought for long term consequences. Ridgeway would tap out to a kneebar and get his MOMENT™ of playing air guitar with O’Reilly after the match. A disappointing end to an average show. ***

Final Thoughts:

A lacklustre opening to the weekend with the show being bookended by a pair of disappointing matches. David Starr versus Artemis Spencer was the lone highlight of the show amongst a sea of mediocrity that does not leave me eagerly anticipating Nights 2 & 3. With the talent at its disposal PROGRESS really need to be delivering better shows than this.