Progress SSS16, EVE and FCP weekend live reviews

Progress SSS16, EVE and FCP weekend live reviews

Progress Super Strong Style 16 2018


Hiya! Arnold Furious here. I just got home from Progress’ annual SSS16 tournament and I have had a fine time. Here are the details:


MAY 4 2018





Having woken up, showered and got ready I was on my way to Birmingham for the first leg in my weekend. Seeing as I was off anyway, I figured I’d take in the latest Marvel movie; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1. Bromsgrove was warm but overcast as I set off, loaded with nervous excitement for a top graps weekend. The first shows I’d been to since 16 Carat. Not a bad way to follow up the biggest tournament in Germany, with the biggest tournament in the UK.



At Broad Street for Infinity War. Reading a book in Costa because I’m 40 minutes early. Feel like a total hipster. I’ve already made a tremendous mistake in sporting a Fight Club: Pro hoodie with the temperatures rapidly on the increase. Taking two hoodies and no shorts was a disaster. It’s never this hot in early May!

I don’t feel so good….


Rush hour train to Wolves, packed with idiots. People who don’t have the common goddamn sense to move out of the way and just stand in the doorway despite not getting off at the first stop. Anyway, fuck those people.



Into the Brit (yeah, it’s the murder hotel, what of it?) and then ‘Spoons where Mark Anthony is holding court over a table of at least ten including Gary from Ireland, Golazo, Sideburns, and two other American gents David and Maxi.



A trek to Starworks. We get there just before showtime but this is the ‘Spoons Effect. It would not be the last occurrence of it.




Showtime! Trent Seven monologue and complaints about the startling increase in prices at the bar kicks us off. I swear it used to be way less than £4.50 for a beer. I don’t expect to pay London prices in Wolverhampton. That’s the whole point of going there. A double JD & coke set me back £6.



  • Travis Banks vs. David Starr. A very good little sprint. Both guys were energised and got the crowd going. The beginning of an anti-Starr movement was there. When announced as “he’s really good at Twitter” he was met by derisory laughter.
  • Omari vs. Keith Lee (Part 3). An even better match, only hurt by slight awkwardness at times. Keith was clearly here to finish off the mini-feud, given that he’s ‘going away’ soon. It was nice for Omari to get a decisive win and they had another cracking match. Probably the least of their three matches but still around ****.
  • Mark Davis vs. Clint Margera. A no DQ match that had shades of Joe vs. Necro about it but ended up having all manner of floor brawling and carnage. I ended up standing by the far bar and having a chat with Tyler Bate’s mom Jill. She’s not keen on the ultraviolence.
  • Millie McKenzie won a scramble match (a staple of FCP shows). Involved were Angelico, El Phantasmo (Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man pic), Jordan Devlin, Kyle Fletcher, Pete Dunne and Sean Kustom. Some serious talent in here. Kustom is improving.
  • Moustache Mountain vs. Hunter Brothers. The first ever FCP tag champs retained their titles in a tidy match.
  • Meiko Satomura vs. Chris Brookes.

Not only did I finally get to see Meiko wrestle but I got to have a quick chat with her too. Lovely woman. Match was good but the spectacle of seeing Meiko was better.



Overall FCP put on a solid show with Omari-Lee being the stand-out match but everything being worthwhile. A solid start to the weekend and it’s coming to something when this was probably the worst show of the five I went to as it had terrific variety and was great entertainment.


After the show we went on a search for food with Eddie Sideburns before heading over to the Giffard. We got chicken but Maxi, in search of ribs, was disappointed. The Giffard is a small, old fashioned pub with an overtone of heavy rock. On a Friday night, May bank holiday weekend it was pretty crowded. Although far less than Elite Friday the previous year where we couldn’t even get inside. It’s a popular haunt for post-FCP shows although there weren’t as many wrestling fans as I expected and we were outnumbered by workers. Then we danced and drank until 4am. While this was exactly the kind of start to the weekend I was hoping for it lead to a downward trend in my bodies capacity to deal with the world in general and I headed down to London feeling like a bag of shit.


MAY 5 2018





I wake up drunk, which is, frankly, acceptable. Waking up hungover would have been bad. I have brought water and ibuprofen to ensure a successful beginning to Saturday but only realise my lack of sleep when Mark tells me we got to the hotel at 5am. So, I only had 4 hours sleep? Apparently so.

I threw on my newly acquired Sendai Girls t-shirt, bought from Meiko the night before and struggle to wake up properly. I hit both coffee and Monster just to stay awake. Normally a can of Monster has me bouncing off the walls and today it just makes sure I don’t nod off in Wolverhampton train station. It’s a warm, hazy morning and before too long my hoodie is packed away never to be touched again.



Mark, Maxi, David and myself hop on the same train to London. It’s pretty much the only direct one. I’ve immediately made a balls of the press commitments for the weekend as I’m supposed to be at Alexandra Palace at 2pm. That’s not happening. The train journey is uneventful as I’m largely asleep.



London Euston Station. As per usual bustling with people, all down in the Big Smoke for whatever bank holiday weekend shenanigans they can get into. Here’s where I part company with my new American chums as they’re off to an Air B’n’B while I’m headed to the hotel by Alexandra Palace where I’ll be camped out for three days. My usual deal with London is walking everywhere as I’m not at work and I like to use it as exercise. However it was hot in London and I wanted to get to the hotel quickly so it was off into the Underground.



I get into the White Lodge Hotel, a small Suburban town house conversion with 20 rooms. It’s a nice little building and I’m up at the very top. Room 20.

A room with a direct view of Alexandra Palace. So you can see how close in we got with the rooms.



I enjoy (or maybe not) a stroll across Alexandra Park to get to the venue. The hill is a lot steeper than I was expecting and I pretty much attacked it direct. By the time I got to the top I was already devoid of energy. By the time I walked into the palace itself everyone was seated and I found myself standing at the back with Mort, Ed, Keir and Matt Yano. A good bunch of guys. And also Keir.




I’d not made it to the last Progress show in Alexandra Palace but I’m a bit of a venue snob and the idea of a big square room doesn’t excite me at all. However on arriving I discovered that by standing either at the back, or off at the side, I had a terrific view of the ring. Completely perfect in every way. The kind of view I’ve got at the Electric Ballroom on a handful of occasions when I’ve gotten there quite early and had standing discipline. I realised I’d judged the building without realising it’s actually a great venue.


So yeah, shit.




  • Pete Dunne vs. Doug Williams. I was very happy how this played out. They had Doug look valiant and strong but come up just short. Then in a backstage skit, aired on their Twitter feed, have Pete tell Doug he had a lot left in the tank. This felt special to me but your mileage may vary based on your history with Doug.
  • Zack Sabre Jr vs. Chuck Mambo. Some were questioning why Chuck was even in the tournament. As I was quick to point out he’s one of the hardest working men in wrestling. He’s covered the country training, getting experience and just turning up everywhere. That all paid off with this match, Chuck grabbing the brass ring with an excellent performance against the always outstanding Sabre. Easily match of the night and the best match of the weekend so far at around ****1/4.
  • David Starr vs. TK Cooper. A comedown by comparison. The rumblings of discontent regarding Starr continuing with a lot of discussion about his masturbatory habits overwhelming the match itself. TK did good work in cutting off Starr’s ‘List’ and Starr finished with a brutal version of his brainbuster over the knee.


  • Angelico vs. Mark Andrews. I wasn’t overly keen on this one because Mandrews kept throwing punches and other strikes way over Angelico’s head and I found it very distracting. Hopefully this isn’t something that he does all the time or I may have lost interest in him as a wrestler. Eddie Dennis caused Mark to lose, but ultimately Mark caused Mark to lose. He chose to get distracted.


INTERMISSION. Great Mort beer story here. He’d put his drink down on a chair in the back row and when someone walked past the look of panic on his face was incredible. The prospect of it being knocked over suddenly becoming very real. We also saw tape for the forthcoming Freedom’s Road, which has been taped aiming at the Lucha Underground crowd. The original series was a mixed bag but this looks more focused. Hey, if it has Mambo and the O.J.M.O. on it then it’ll be good.


  • Tyler Bate vs. Jordan Devlin. There was still an opinion going around that Devlin was no good, which stems entirely from him shitting the bed on that WWE UK show over a year ago. While he didn’t totally dispel it here, in a middling match, this would be a good weekend for him.
  • Zack Gibson vs. Joey Janela. The Grizzled Young Veterans didn’t name the participant until James Drake had wrestled half the match. Janela did some fun stuff here like a running senton off the ring steps.
  • Keith Lee vs. Flash Morgan Webster. This finished perfectly in time for everyone to head over to York Hall for EVE. Flash got too much offence in but I’m surprised how many people thought he was actually winning here. The mind boggles. It’s Keith Lee!


Sidenote: We missed the Chris Brookes vs. Kassius Ohno match by having to take the Graps Bus to York Hall. I’m still a little irritated that the two companies couldn’t have worked something out between each other regarding show times. The crossover felt quite large but apparently it wasn’t that many people. Also a late EVE start time allowed most of the Progress roster to hop over and watch, including main eventer Chris Brookes.



Steve has arranged a Graps Bus to take 40 fans from Alexandra Palace to York Hall. It’s a tough journey any other way. It takes about an hour, with bus and two tubes being the best option. The Graps Bus managed it in 40 minutes! I sat next to Ian Hamilton and we got to talk over the show, the FCP event the night before and shoot the shit about reviewing stuff.



The Graps Bus delivered us to the venue 5 minutes before the show was due to start. Ideal right?






York Hall is notoriously tough but EVE’s insistence at putting on a meet and greet had given them less time to get fans in. Then someone had a knife and security tightened up considerably. So the line didn’t move and they confiscated everything. Someone with a badge on almost had it confiscated as a stabbing weapon. There’s being safe then there’s being sensible.







  • War Games. I was a little alarmed at how many people, supposed wrestling fans, that didn’t know the rules to War Games. I’m not a gatekeeper or anything but there was a War Games on an NXT Takeover a few months ago. Anyway, this was lots of fun with Emi Sakura giving the stand-out performance. Jamie Hayter was brilliant on the floor, getting Emi in an armbar through the cage. Also Addy Starr killed it. Her rampage when she came in was perfect. The faces win with four submissions, when Rhia remembered what body part she was trying to hook. Very good match. Superb start to the show. How many times do you get War Games opening a show? A bold statement.
  • Jetta vs. Kris Wolf. Great little match. Jetta introduced as the “Princess Diana of wrestling” in a sensational start. Erin Angel refereed this in assless chaps. Not a look I’d want Chris Roberts to go in for. They worked in some nice comedy involving Wolf’s wolf mask, including an animal urination spot in the corner with a bottle of water and Jetta pinning Erin Angel before an eventual double pin. So both women were added to the ladder match.
  • The ladder match. Winner gets a title shot via briefcase. Nina Samuels came out on top in another action packed outing. Only marred by an injury to Leah Owens on a poor legdrop off a ladder spot where she was never in the right place. Helped to the back by security. Luckily it appears to be nothing serious. In a weird finish they left a ladder set up out in the crowd.
  • Kay Lee Ray vs. Meiko Satomura. This was legitimately outstanding. It’ll be in MOTYC reckoning. KLR giving it everything and Meiko not backing down. The false finishes were great and KLR ends up winning by roll up to sell the exhaustion. ****1/2.
  • Aja Kong vs. Viper. This suffered a bit from following KLR/Satomura and also from Aja, who is getting on a bit now, working quite soft. It reminded me of Ishii’s first UK match with Damo. It was perhaps a little tame but solid.
  • Charlie Morgan vs. Sammii Jayne. This went on so late I thought curfew would cut it off at 2 minutes tops but instead they went 20 minutes with all manner of madness. Morgan looked like an absolute star. It was also Sammii Jayne proving she belonged. The match will be remembered for the balcony spot, where the ladder provided access courtesy of the earlier match but there was also a killer sudden table spot. ****1/4



This show absolutely killed it. I’ve never seen a show overdeliver like this and the ending, where everyone came out to celebrate with Charlie including a lot of the heels showed how vital this show was for women’s wrestling in the UK. They’d seemingly done the impossible and come very close to selling out York Hall with only women on the card. It’s tough to argue with that outcome. I hope they go on from here to capitalise on it, shaking the reputation EVE has as a smaller company with organisational issues. The vast majority of wrestling fans want a successful women’s promotion. EVE, having taken on a huge challenge, is now leading the way in Europe. Not just currently but ever. There’s never been a European based promotion that’s put on a show of a) that quality and b) that significance. A massive, massive win for EVE.



Given the overrun I headed right into the Dundee Arms for beers with Mort, Jackson, Big Chris and Steve. Mort insisting that he “doesn’t drink” unless he’s in the UK, ploughing through his 12th beer of the day.



Left Dundee Arms. Decided to take a stroll.



Got back to hotel. I got to walk along some of Regent’s Canal and it was a pleasant enough middle of the night stroll but fuck me, was I ever exhausted afterwards.


MAY 6 2018





Goddamn it. Why can I not sleep this weekend? Despite no sleep the night before, two shows and a two hour walk home I still only sleep for 4 hours. I take advantage of the time afforded to me to pop down to Sainsbury’s and pick up some lunch and get some light reading done.



Having organised with the arriving American contingent I pop on my Yuji Nagata “Blue Justice” 25 year anniversary shirt (completely forgetting it’s the one with the face underneath) and we jump in an Uber to meet Eddie Sideburns at the local Spoons. I’m three beers deep before we grab a bus to the venue and it looks like we’re into another big drinking day. On the bus the chat is as ridiculous as it is amusing and Max’s assertion that “the Big Wiggle is the pinnacle of pro wrestling” has everyone in stitches.




Keir looks rough and has “thrown up four times this morning”. Ed meanwhile has injured his ankle and can’t make it up the hill. All a part of Progress’ post show entertainment the previous night. I’m a little sad I missed this and notice everyone’s voice is fucked from singing wrestlers entrance music all night. Or if you’re Jeff you spent the day in the pub in Camden. Fuck you Jeff.




The Matches:

  • Zack Gibson vs. Pete Dunne. This got a little booking heavy with a lot of interference from James Drake before Havoc and Haskins also got involved. Dunne going out was a bit of a surprise but he has already been champion for ages. Dunne was disqualified.
  • Jordan Devlin vs. Chuck Mambo vs. TK Cooper. If Mambo had his breakout Progress match on N1 then Devlin had his here. Aided by a spectacular Scorpion kick on one of Mambo’s beach balls pre-match he became a mega babyface in ten minutes. The jury among Progress fans has been out on Devlin for 18 months. This should do it.
  • Jimmy Havoc, Mark Haskins & Flash vs. Chris Brookes, Mark Andrews & Joey Janela. This was basically here to set up Havoc vs. Janela in a Deathmatch on N3.
  • Keith Lee vs. Angelico. This was really good.
  • Zack Sabre Jr vs. David Starr. Another great ZSJ match. Starr bringing meaty clotheslines. Sabre devastating slaps. ****
  • Millie McKenzie, Sierra Loxton & surprise partner Laura DiMatteo vs. House of Couture. There was a lot of speculation as to who the third woman would be. I actually called it on the day although I was wavering between a couple of other options until Jim tweeted #welcomeback. This was fine. Laura is genuinely good now so I’m glad she’s back in the mix. Plus it makes sense given her history with Jinny.
  • Tyler Bate vs. Kassius Ohno. If you want to see bby Tyler take on Chris Hero it’s on YouTube from 2014. This was not that match. Tyler showing his worth and overcoming Ohno with a huge airplane spin. The bad news is he injured his shoulder in the process. He’s still a big strong boi. ****

  • WALTER vs. Travis Banks. I wouldn’t call the finish here, a count out, a cop out but rather a necessity. They’d booked themselves into a corner here with WALTER and Travis both unable to lose as they both represent a division. The idea intensified post match with WALTER seemingly giving up the Atlas title to concentrate on getting his hands on the Progress World Championship.



A much stronger card than N1 with Bate/Ohno, WALTER/Banks, Lee/Angelico and especially Sabre/Starr all delivering. Plus Jordan Devlin had a breakout performance. Nothing but wins here, although the crowd seemed disgruntled with the outcome of the main event. It’s like CMJ says; it can’t be Christmas every day.



Danny (Mondinho) took us on a stroll down the hill to the Spoons and Brother Mort discovered the pleasure of the Wetherspoons App. “Why don’t we have this in Denmark?” he asked out loud. Then we told him to post his table number out there onto Twitter.

You know how people get sent peas and milk and shit like that? Mort got beer, a fireball, Long Island Iced Tea and some crisps from Auntie Sarah. Speaking of the Long Island Iced Tea…

You’ll notice the time tag there is 11.15pm. That was at the end of quite the sesh. Anyway, back to the hotel and could I sleep? Of fucking course not. Fast forward to 2am and I finally finish DMing people, having had a lengthy chat with Jim Smallman about the show…and Wetherspoons.


MAY 7 2018





So we decided to walk to the Spoons, returning to the scene of yesterday’s debauchery and I have to tell you, I was feeling pretty fucking mouldy at this point. My limbs were aching. My throat was sore. My brain was utterly pissed off with me to the point where it was refusing to remember words (I spent 30 seconds staring into space and still couldn’t come up with the word “calories”). So for the second time this weekend I had to resort to Monster. Then promptly fired right into them Long Islands.


On the way we bumped into this random crazy street guy. He was partial to “mind grenades” and claimed he rode a T-Rex into town yesterday. He insisted that Maxi look after me today. It isn’t London without some random crazy street guy.



“Kota Ibushi is like Bruce Wayne” – Jackson. He goes on to explain that the Ibushi family is well off but Kota has used the money to ‘research’ and rich guy weirdness. He’s pretty wholesome. He doesn’t fight crime though because he gets lost too easily.



More Long Islands.



Off to the venue and I get into a conversation about pornographic terms with Keir and Ed. The heated debate over what constituted ‘frotting’ is not how I expected to spend my pre-show. It did lead to the possibility of Danshoku Dino vs. David Starr being brought up though, so we got back onto the wrestling. The building is insanely hot today. The official temperature was 26C but it was made warmer by all the bodies in the building. At this point I was thrilled we weren’t in the Electric Ballroom. I would have probably died.




The show was more about angles and promos than matches, which is weird but it totally worked. Eddie Dennis turned up at the Junior gig the night before and assaulted Mark Andrews’ tour manager. This was suitable provocation for Mark to finally want to fight Eddie. So basically Dennis has won already. He’s got what he wanted. Eddie’s behaviour here was majestic. When Mark told him to “grow up” Eddie did a little visual height comparison thing. Big pop. The fake weeping was brilliant too. Eddie choking Mark out is a reminder that he’s bigger and stronger and Andrews has an uphill battle here.


Wasteman Challenge. This was fun with Ohno rapping his old music, although I feel people didn’t get that. Jim Smallman interjected to point out it was a now 7-way match for a second chance at SSS16. Ohno won his way back in and in doing so delivered an insane spot where he elbowed Jordan Devlin out of the air in mid moonsault. Incredible spot. So well timed by both guys. Devlin came across like a total star here.


Mark Haskins & Flash Morgan Webster vs. Maverick Mayhew & Connor Mills. It was nice for M&M to get on the show but they got creamed and quickly submitted. It didn’t really feel like it belonged but instead acted as a cool down before Sabre-Lee.


Zack Sabre Jr vs. Keith Lee. This was a fantastic display of Big Power Guy vs. Technical Guy. ZSJ is the best in the world at what he does and Keith is too. ZSJ using Keith as a climbing frame was beautiful. Great match. Easily over four stars. ****1/4


Joel Allen’s favourite cheese is halloumi.


Kassius Ohno vs. Zack Gibson. Having gotten a second chance Ohno found himself against Gibbo and a constantly interfering James Drake. I would have preferred Tyler vs. Gibson as that match made sense and in having to re-hash the tournament (hastily rebooked on Monday morning) we ended up with a Sabre/Ohno final, which is basically Sabre/Lee II. Oh well. Gibson played his role fine here.


Joey Janela vs. Jimmy Havoc. Deathmatch. They did a lot of crazy stuff in this. Utilising an assortment of horrific weaponry. The most sickening spot was a toss up between the cinder block over the chair bump Janela took or Jimmy landing his bare feet into thumbtacks. The match felt special for the most part, especially as Havoc got to use “I Hope You Suffer”. Janela’s back got shredded and it was very violent. However no one will remember that match because of afterwards;


Havoc cutting a sensational shoot promo on Smallman, Progress and British wrestling in general. Essentially saying because he didn’t have a WWE contract he was being overlooked. This led to the return of Will Ospreay with Havoc’s axe. Jimmy putting his head on a chair and encouraging Ospreay to put him out of his misery was extraordinary stuff. Havoc’s promo is arguably the best promo ever delivered in British wrestling. There was so much heart and truth in it. Then Will’s promo was almost as good. Telling Havoc he’d lost it and he wanted Havoc at Wembley. I am sold.


INTERMISSION. I was wondering around here in a daze. Almost completely speechless. Mark Ashford bumped into me and couldn’t get complete sentences out of me. That promo was that devastating. Hats off to Havoc.


Coming off the back of that they had CMJ come out and announce a future opponent for Pete Dunne; it’s only Ilja fucking Dragunov. So that match is happening this year at some point. God, I love the wrestling.


Toni Storm vs. Charlie Morgan. This suffered from being in the midst of a lot of amazing shit being announced and people freaking out. Plus Toni seems indestructible so it almost felt like a foregone conclusion as we’re still working towards Storm/Jinny. Given the incredible standard of her matches I hope Toni keeps the belt for years.


WALTER vs. TK Cooper. Total squash. This is when WALTER gave up the Atlas title. Again creating interest in the product going forward. There was a lot of potentially exciting stuff happening here. Building blocks for future stuff.


Zack Sabre Jr vs. Kassius Ohno. You could argue Ohno has lost a step since his incredible 2016 run where he was one of the best wrestlers in the world. This was a throwback to that. Best match from Ohno since his last match with Sabre for EVOLVE in January 2017. The heat in the building took the crowd out of it a little bit but generally people had saved some energy during the previous two matches. Great match. Sabre with his fourth banger of the weekend. ****1/2


On winning Zack was given the microphone. “Wembley innit”. Sabre is headlining Wembley against the Progress Wrestling World Champion. Whether that be current champion Travis Banks or WALTER or Jack Sexsmith. Nothing is set in stone yet…apart from Sabre’s challenge. Unlike the same situation with Travis Banks last year this angle benefits from Sabre being largely unavailable for shows due to New Japan commitments.


After the show I found the perfect word to describe how I felt when talking to Matt Richards. “Satisfied”.



Another fantastic weekend for the sport of professional wrestling. Great shows from Progress on Nights 2 and 3 plus breakout performances from the likes of Mambo and Devlin. Sabre killed it all weekend long. Keith Lee was great. Meiko Satomura was great. Love the wrestling.



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