We are in Manchester for the final show before the third ever Super Strong Style 16 tournament. We have two qualifier matches, our first one opens the show, lets get to it.
James Drake is against “Flash” Morgan Webster in as close to a grudge match you can get without it being billed as one. Drake is hoping to continue his winning streak that started in Manchester 7 months ago and make his mark on the tournament at the expense of the Modfather. Drake slowly makes his way through the crowd towards the ring and is suddenly blind sided by Flash. Turnabout’s fair play when your opponent has used bullying tactics during his tenure in Progress, enough is enough.
Flash gestures for the crowd to part, wasting little time once the coast is clear to lunge at Drake with a running Thesz press, forcing him onto the empty chairs. Drake manages to pull himself together for some dirty tricks of his own, wrapping the ring apron around Webster’s head and stomping on it from a height. This dazed Flash, who managed to shake off the damage and continued to inflict his own.
Back in the ring, Flash nails a fireman’s carry into a neck-breaker. A modified Angels Wings impresses but Flash is unable to capitalise. Drake hits hard with forearms to the head, follows with a headbutt. It looks to be all over when Drake grabs the tights after a rolling pin. Flash kicks out and later ends up using his opponents own momentum to flip Drake on his back for the win.
Jinny is on an impressive winning streak as of late, she is looking to become the first ever Progress Women’s champion. Session Moth Martina is not in the final at the end of the month, but is looking to increase her chances of a title shot further down the line with a victory. Equipped with glow sticks and a can of Carling she is ready for the challenge.
We see how important a can of beer is in Session Moths eyes as early on a series of near falls by both competitors sees not a drop of alcohol spilt. While Moth may not be the most technical of wrestlers, she makes up for it in strength. She holds Jinny up in a vertical suplex for what seems like an age before slamming her down on the canvas. A tarantula style submission tries to wear down the Fashionista, no beer spilled here either!
The choice of the beverage, or where Moth got it from must have infuriated Jinny completely. She sees the Tesco bag from whence it came and flips out! Kerb stomp follows kerb stomp, Jinny then uses the carrier bag to suffocate Moth for further insult. A headbutt and a vicious lung-blower sets up nicely a sitout facebuster from the second rope for the finish.
Our third match is a tag team match. The London Riots are continuing to be the measuring stick for up and coming teams in Progress, their next opponents are no strangers to the Progress faithful; Sweet Jesus. All four members are known for taking risks, this quite surprisingly starts with a series of wrist locks. Chuck Mambo tries to gain the upper hand while not quite knowing how to get out of the wrist lock, every time he thinks he has it – he’s back at square one.
Later, Rob Lynch catches Pastor and suplex’s him on the mat, adding a running senton for further damage. Pastor clings on to the ropes to stop any further momentum being gained by the Riots, he manages to tag Mambo later on in the exchange and while the Riots are gathering their thoughts a flying Chuck flies over the top rope but is caught by the Riots.
Carnage follows, which is a trait found in many a Riots match. James Davies picks up his opponent with an awesome deadlift sit down powerbomb, Rob Lynch almost turns Chuck Mambo in two with a spear. Sweet Jesus however, become victorious after a crucifix type manoeuvre quickly turning into a pinning combination which seemed to be against the tide. The Riots will not be happy with that result after being in control for so much of this match.
The first half main event is a first for Progress; Travis Banks vs Trent Seven. I have had the pleasure of witnessing this match previously under different circumstances and was looking forward to the different dynamic going into this match. With South Pacific Power Trip stable mates TK Cooper and Dahlia both back in New Zealand, would the Kiwi Buzzsaw be able to gain the advantage over one half of the current Progress tag team champions?
This match didn’t even wait for the bell to ring before turning into chaos. A topei by Travis kicked off the action outside, a PK type kick from the apron echoing throughout the O2 Ritz to follow. Trent countered the slaps and kicks outside with some of his own before reaching for a steel chair to even out the playing field. He threw the chair at Travis who knocked it out of mid air with his forearm in front of the shocked crowd, this happened again and again until Trent retreated into the ring. The bell rings, and we’re underway!
Travis gets Seven into the corner and connects with a cannonball and then lifts him up into a brainbuster. Trent manages to fight back and tries to finish it quickly with a dragon suplex and a Zangief style spinning piledriver but only gets a 2 count. A flurry of chops, slaps and kicks punch both wrestlers, Trent screams “fuck you” in defiance before getting pummelled again. Travis tries a foot-stomp and a coast to coast but only manages a 2 count, he misses wildly with a leaping corner kick and is caught off guard by Trent grabbing the tights and scoring the victory.
Our second half starts with the last qualifier in the Super Strong Style 16 tournament. Nathan Cruz is hoping to enter the tournament at the expense of relative Progress newcomer; Rockstar Spud. Nathan tries to taunt the Birmingham native by using his size and weight advantage in the collar and elbow tie up, he then navigates this into a headlock to wear down Spud in the process.
Cruz continues to have the upper hand and can’t resist an opportunity to play dirty when he uses the top rope to choke Spud, further weakening him and causing him to gasp for air. A brief reprieve from the onslaught sees Spud hit a triangle dropkick and an enzuigiri but this is short lived as when going for a high risk manoeuvre, Cruz is able to lift his knees up in time and lands a blow which winds Spud.
Spud shakes off the cobwebs and tries for a triangle head scissor take-down but misses. Nathan Cruz puts Spud away with the third attempt at his fireman’s carry Michinoku driver and advances to the tournament at the end of the month. Spud seemed in a lot of pain after crashing down on Cruz’s knees, I hope for a speedy recovery.
Next up is a non title match between Tyler Bate and Matt Riddle. The King of Bro’s is willing to take on all comers and many people would consider this a dream match considering the talent on display. Tyler starts off by stalling and playing up to the crowd, but this is broken up swiftly with a gut-wrench suplex and some knee strikes for good measure by Riddle, before releasing him hard onto the mat.
A slap sends the WWE UK Champion pleading for a time out, but this is seen as more stalling tactics and Riddle is not having any of it. A series of knees, a beautiful exploder suplex and a high senton are only enough to get a 2 count for the SPLX athlete. Tyler connects with a standing shooting star press before lifting Riddle into a powerbomb, but he scouts this and locks in an armbar submission which almost ends it.
Tyler tries to pick Riddle up for a suplex, but this is countered into a leaping tombstone piledriver in which Tyler narrowly gets his shoulders up before the 3 count. A rear naked choke seems to have Riddle down but somehow he manages to break the hold, frustration takes its toll on the tag champ and a disqualification finish ends the bout when his tag team partner comes from backstage and interferes. A great match with a disappointing ending means we can only hope there is a conclusion further down the line involving these two. Not to mention possible retribution for Travis been as he lost to more Trent shenanigans earlier.
The main event is a triple threat for the Progress championship. Mark Haskins continues in his quest to regain the title he was forced to give up due to injury, he faces both Mark Andrews who is also entered into this match following the inconclusive number one contenders bout between them at the last chapter, and the reigning champion: Pete Dunne. Haskins is on the receiving end of an attack by Dunne while the competitors names are being read out, he manages to give as good as he gets however.
Dunne is obviously showing a strategy here by allowing the two Marks to battle it out first, potentially opening up a weakness he can exploit later on to his advantage during the match. He gets involved a few times early in the contest, slamming his forearm into Mark Andrews as he tries a springboard attack. He retreats as quickly as he enters, leaving Haskins and Andrews to tire each other out by running against (and sometimes through) the ropes in an attempt to hit some high risk offence.
Haskins manages to catch both opponents in a single leg crab for a possible submission victory, but this is short lived. He tries a Death Valley Driver but this is broken up for a 2 count. Pete is the victim of a double bite attack by the challengers. Andrews converts a wheelbarrow into a stundog millionaire but misses with the shooting star press to finish the job. Haskins tries another double submission, this time an arm lock but is unable to gain the victory this way either. More interference occurs by British Strong Style, Dunne hits a pedigree after a dastardly low blow chalking up another successful title defence through interference.
Pete then proclaims himself to be unstoppable, challenging anyone in the locker room to try their best. Riddle has unfinished business with British Strong Style and tries to even up the odds but it is not his night. The crowd are firmly behind Travis Banks after his recent showings cementing him as a fan favourite but he decides not to intervene. Unfamiliar music hits the speakers and the 700 strong crowd are on tenterhooks. Arses shuffle forward in anticipation, a furry flurry of red, silver, blue and black move into view, closely followed by a tall man in a cephalopodic adorned leather jacket – CCK have entered the Ritz and upset the balance completely!
Mondai Lykos and Chris Brookes are no strangers to the UK wrestling scene, and now they are in Progress. The crowd is on their feet, beer is flying around and strangers are hugging each other. It feels like the times are changin’ and CCK may be the catalyst which shakes up the whole promotion. Familiar chants of “This is Progress” are followed by new ones of “CCK”, sick tag moves disperse the ring and one man and his Wolf stand proud and tall.
It was one of those moments you are caught up in and this was clearly emotional for co-owner Jim Smallman who sat in the middle of the ring after the melee. I was lucky enough to be there, my next Progress show is the phenomenal Super Strong Style 16 tournament, will the actions of British Strong Style have ramifications for their role in the tournament? When will we see CCK again? Anything can happen in pro-wrestling, as usual, I can’t wait to find out. Hope to see you there!