PROGRESS Wrestling‘s Super Strong Style 16 returns this weekend, emanating from the historic Alexandra Palace in London. The tournament is always a huge night on the PROGRESS calendar and can often catapult wrestlers right to the top of the pack. The winner of the tournament gets an opportunity at the PROGRESS World Championship at a future show. Past winners include Will Ospreay, Tommy End (now Aleister Black in NXT), and Travis Banks. Ospreay and Banks both went on to win the title, while End failed to lift the gold before departing for Orlando.
The Alexandra Palace is a brilliant choice for the venue. PROGRESS held their first show there in September last year for their, as of writing, biggest show ever. That show, which was Chapter 55: Chase The Sun, saw Travis Banks using his Super Strong Style 16 victory to take the PROGRESS World Championship from Pete Dunne, ending his reign at 287 days which is the second longest in history.
Here’s a rundown of all the competitors in this year’s tournament.
Tyler Bate rose to the top of the mountain at the start of 2017, overcoming 15 other men to be crowned WWE’s inaugural United Kingdom Champion. Although he lost the title to British Strong Style partner Pete Dunne in May, he remained on top of the PROGRESS tag team division as he and Trent Seven became two-time PROGRESS Tag Team Champions. While competing sporadically for WWE’s UK division and on NXT, Bate was also lighting up crowds at Fight Club: PRO and RevPro, while also winning the CHIKARA King of Trios as part of British Strong Style. More recently, Bate again teamed with Seven to become the inaugural FCP Tag Team Champions. A busy year for the 21-year old.
Jordan Devlin was also part of that UK Championship Tournament, and was actually eliminated by Tyler Bate in the quarterfinals. Devlin has been making waves as part of OTT, where he’s the current OTT World Champion. He’s dubbed himself “The Import Killer”, and rightfully so having beaten several international stars, including Angelico, Timothy Thatcher, and Mike Bailey. The Irishman hasn’t been seen in PROGRESS since February 2017, where he lost to current World Champion, Travis Banks. With that being his only PROGRESS appearance, it was only a matter of time before he returned.
Angelico will be making his PROGRESS debut in this year’s Super Strong Style 16. The South African sensation has been competing worldwide for a number of year, bursting on to the independent scene thanks to his tremendous work in Lucha Underground. His incredible dives through the air put him on a completely separate level from everyone else. He recently won another tournament, the Light Heavyweight World Cup, over in the German Wrestling Federation. What a statement to make on your debut night than to win the biggest wrestling tournament the UK has to offer.
Mark Andrews has so far competed for WWE and Impact Wrestling in his career. The 26-year old from Wales was the season two winner of Impact’s British Boot Camp, leaving it behind to pursue the WWE United Kingdom Championship. White Lightning was another in last year’s inaugural tournament, besting Dan Moloney and Joseph Conners before losing to Pete Dunne in the semifinals. Andrews is no stranger to gold in a PROGRESS ring, holding both the World and Tag Team Championships alongside current rival Eddie Dennis. Mark has the chance to add to his ever-growing list of accolades, but Eddie might have something to say about it. Only time will tell.
Chris Brookes is perhaps most well known as a terrific tag team wrestler alongside Kid Lykos. With Lykos once again injured, Chris has been proving he’s just as good at singles wrestling. The past few months have been quite exciting for the CCK member. Despite losing his Fight Club: PRO Championship to the legendary Meiko Satomura, Chris was competing over in Germany for wXw, making it to the quarterfinals of this year’s 16 Carat Gold until losing to Keith Lee. He was also in New Orleans recently for WrestleMania weekend, losing to Jeff Cobb in the first-ever Thunderbastard Match outside of the UK, as well as making his debut for EVOLVE Wrestling.
Current NXT star Kassius Ohno returns to PROGRESS for the Super Strong Style 16, thanks to PROGRESS’ working relationship with WWE. Kassius is one of the most decorated names in wrestling today, being a former EVOLVE World Champion, PWG World Champion, and CZW World Heavyweight Champion as well as holding several sets of tag team titles alongside Claudio Castagnoli (Cesaro these days). The Knockout Artist has competed in Super Strong Style 16 before, defeating Mark Andrews and Big Daddy Walter in 2015 until he failed to defeat eventual winner Tommy End.
Keith Lee makes his Super Strong Style 16 debut in this year’s edition, possibly his last chance given the likelihood of him signing with WWE. He calls himself Limitless, and that comes as no surprise if you’ve seen some of the things he can do in the ring. The former WWN and PWG World Champion is surprisingly athletic for a man of his size, busting out moonsaults and somersault dives like there’s no tomorrow. In the past 12 months, Lee made it to the finals of PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles, and the semifinals of wXw’s 16 Carat Gold, two of the other prestigious tournaments in wrestling. He’ll be looking to go one step closer when it comes to the Super Strong Style 16.
Flash Morgan Webster
Flash Morgan Webster has been having mixed fortunes in PROGRESS as of late. He won this year’s Thunderbastard Match and announced he would invoking his championship opportunity at the next show. After being unable to defeat Travis Banks for the World Championship at the end of March (although he’ll tell you otherwise), The King of the Mods teamed with former enemies Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins over WrestleMania weekend. This trio proved to be a success as they defeated the dream team of David Starr, Matt Riddle, and Keith Lee. Webster’s also been getting his name recognised outwith the UK, debuting for PWG in last year’s Battle of Los Angeles and competing at WrestleMania Axxess.
Former PROGRESS World Champion, Pete Dunne looks to get back in the title hunt by entering this year’s Super Strong Style 16. 2017 was arguably the year of The Bruiserweight. He became the WWE United Kingdom Champion (a title he still holds to this day), while also competing regularly in the UK and overseas. After capturing the PROGRESS World Championship at the end of 2016, Dunne held on to it for the majority of 2017 until he lost it after 287 days. This is the second longest in history, behind only Jimmy Havoc at 609 days. The man he lost it to? Last year’s Super Strong Style 16 winner Travis Banks. It would be bittersweet for Pete if he were to become a two-time champion by beating the man who took the gold from him.
British wrestling icon Doug Williams will enter the tournament this year in what could potentially be his final year as an active competitor. Doug has had quite the career, being signed to an Impact Wrestling contract in 2008. While there, he became a Television, X Division, and World Tag Team Champion, while also winning the IWGP Tag Team Championships thanks to Impact’s relationship with New Japan at the time. Williams has never entered the Super Strong Style 16 before. With a retirement seemingly on the horizon for the legendary Brit, what a way to go out than to retire with the PROGRESS World Championship around his waist.
Chuck Mambo was desperate to get a spot in this year’s tournament. Although many may view him as a comedy act, Mambo can be serious when he needs to be and get the job done. A graduate of PROGRESS’ training academy, Chuck has been showing what he’s got on the Live at the Dome shows, with wins over Sid Scala and Australian sensation Adam Brooks. Perhaps a dark horse pick to win it all, Chuck Mambo will relish in the opportunity to hang with some of the world’s best.
Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack Sabre Jr. has been untouchable since arriving in New Japan last year. After regaining the RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship on his first night, ZSJ joined the villainous Suzuki-gun stable. He’s since won the 2018 New Japan Cup and came within inches of ending Kazuchika Okada‘s record-shattering IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign. On top of all this, Zack is a former EVOLVE World PWG World Champion, winner of the 2015 Battle of Los Angeles, winner of the 2016 16 Carat Gold, and made it to the final four of WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic. One thing he’s never won however; Super Strong Style 16.
Joey Janela makes his first PROGRESS appearance in the UK, having previously competed on shows for them in New York and New Orleans. Since bursting on to the indies, Janela has captured the hearts of many, and with that comes championship gold. The Bad Boy has held several titles throughout his career, including the CZW Wired Championship, the Alpha-1 Outer Limits Championship, and is the current AIW Intense Champion. The man who has become infamous for hosting Spring Break events over WrestleMania weekend may end etching his name in the history books as a Super Strong Style 16 champion.
The Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake & Zack Gibson)
The last entrant (or should that be entrants?) announced for this year’s Super Strong Style 16 were the current PROGRESS Tag Team Champions, The Grizzled Young Veterans. As of writing, it’s unclear whether it’ll be Zack Gibson or James Drake entering the tournament. The GYV are currently in their second run with the tag titles after defeating Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins to regain them at the end of February. While they’re enjoying tag success, both men have also made it big-time, with Gibson appearing on both 5 Star Wrestling and World of Sport, and Drake being part of WWE’s UK division.
TK Cooper is one of those guys you just have to love. His in-ring work is some of the best PROGRESS has to offer. Fans were devastated when he an Dahlia Black had to leave due to their visas expiring. The pop they received upon returning was insane, and TK soon found himself back where he belongs. He hasn’t won the most titles, having only held the WrestleForce Great British Championship and the MCW Heavyweight Championship, which he lost the same day. Cooper would possibly have to face his good friend Travis Banks for the World Championship if he were to win the tournament.
Last but not least, we’ve got David Starr. The man with all the nicknames in the world has quickly become one of the most well respected names on the independent wrestling scene. After recently winning CZW’s Best of the Best 17 tournament, Starr looks to add another tournament to his list. The former three-time wXw Shotgun Champion won’t rest until everyone realises how good he truly is. Luckily, WALTER isn’t in the tournament so there’ no-one that could definitely 100% eliminate David right off the bat
Now that we’ve got the competitors out the way, here are the first round matches;
- TYLER BATE vs JORDAN DEVLIN
- ANGELICO vs MARK ANDREWS
- CHRIS BROOKES vs KASSIUS OHNO
- KEITH LEE vs FLASH MORGAN WEBSTER
- PETE DUNNE vs DOUG WILLIAMS
- CHUCK MAMBO vs ZACK SABRE JR.
- JOEY JANELA vs THE GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS
- TK COOPER vs DAVID STARR
Other matches scheduled for the shows include;
- PROGRESS World Championship Match: Travis Banks (c) vs WALTER (Night 2)
- Six Woman Tag Team Match: The House of Couture (Jinny, Chakara & Nina Samuels) vs Millie McKenzie, Sierra Loxton & A Mystery Partner) (Night 2)
- PROGRESS Women’s Championship Match: Toni Storm (c) vs Charlie Morgan (Night 3)