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PROGRESS Chapter 88: Super Strong Style 16 Night One Review

May 24, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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PROGRESS Chapter 88: Super Strong Style 16 Night One Review  

PROGRESS Chapter 88: Super Strong Style 16 Night One
May 4th, 2019 | Alexandra Palace in Haringey, Greater London

I have been keeping up with PROGRESS this year, but haven’t had the time to review their shows. To be honest, I haven’t been as engaged with them as in prior years. They were my Promotion of the Year winner for 2017. However, I wanted to give them their due and review Super Strong Style 16, which has become a yearly favorite of mine. I’m a sucker for a tournament and one featuring Kyle O’Reilly is going to have me hooked.

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I’ve only seen the tournament in 2017 and 2018, but I figured I’d share my top 5 tourney matches.

Travis Banks vs. Tyler Bate – 2017 – ****½
Jeff Cobb vs. Matt Riddle – 2017 – ****½
Kassius Ohno vs. Tyler Bate – 2018 – ****¼
David Starr vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – 2018 – ****
Flamita vs. Travis Banks – 2017 – ****

Jim Smallman ran through his opening stuff and had some fun with the fans.

Super Strong Style 16 First Round: Chris Brookes vs. Ilja Dragunov
Brookes was in the main event of night one last year, while Dragunov debuted shortly after. Dragunov had a lot of hype when he came in and he’s been good, but hasn’t had a major impact. Brookes ran into trouble when he tried trading shots with Dragunov. He had to change his plane and targeted the leg. I liked Brookes looking to take a cheap countout win. It played into #CCK recently beating LAX via countout. When that failed and the fight moved outside, Brookes hit him with a Praying Mantis Bomb on the concrete. Unfortunately, the camera angle showed that Ilja landed safely and he broke the count with relative ease. Once back inside, they kind of just threw big strikes at each other. Dragunov again held the advantage there, so Brookes went back to cheap tactics like pulling tights. After coming close to winning on a rollup, Brookes fell to Torpedo Moskau in 14:18. I thought that was a good match but it did have some awkward exchanges. At times it felt like they were going for an epic and coming up short. [***]

Super Strong Style 16 First Round: Daga vs. PROGRESS Tag Team Champion Kyle Fletcher w/ Mark Davis
I really like Fletcher as part of Aussie Open. Daga was pretty cool during a short stint in Lucha Underground. This was his PROGRESS debut. Daga was given a chance to shine and he did just that. He provided a memorable moment when he nearly spiked himself on a tope, but had more positive moments like an apron DVD and when he cut open Fletcher’s chest with some chops. Fletcher was a great opponent because he’s a great bumper/seller who made all of Daga’s offense look great. Both men threw caution to the win late as they were desperate for a big singles win. Neither could get the upper hand and it made for an even battle. Fletcher used a late flurry to pick up the victory in 14:58. I really enjoyed this. It was a back and forth affair between two very underrated wrestlers. Everything was crisp and pretty exciting. [***½]

Super Strong Style 16 First Round: DJ Z vs. Travis Banks
2017 winner Travis Banks against the flashy DJ Z, who is still carving out his spot in PROGRESS. I liked the way DJ Z got under Banks’ skin. He outwrestled him with some smooth work on the mat and would then signal for his air horn sound effect to play. It also proved to be his downfall, as he got too cocky at points and Banks was quick to take advantage. DJ Z still found openings for hope spots, but he was never able to fully get back to where he was at the very start. He did get to survive the Slice of Heaven, which is kind of big for someone relatively new to the company. However, he couldn’t get up after being hit with the Kiwi Krusher at the 10:35 mark. A bit one-sided at points, but I liked the resiliency DJ Z showed and the intensity of Banks. [***]

Super Strong Style 16 First Round: Jordan Devlin vs. Lucky Kid
This was my first real look at Lucky Kid, while Devlin is a guy who has impressed me a ton over the past year or so. Similar to DJ Z, Lucky Kid took Devlin by surprise early. He did it because his style is unorthodox, so Devlin was caught off guard. The “Irish Ace” had to get aggressive to swing the momentum in his favor. Kid took a rough spill to the outside, but beat the count and started giving strikes as hard as he was getting. Again, it seemed to catch Devlin by surprise. Kid slapped on a crossface that made fans believe he’d pull off the massive upset. Devlin also kicked out of a great popup powerbomb. He then got his key offense going and won it with his Saito Suplex in 13:36. Another strong match. Lucky Kid impressed me, while Devlin continues his string of really good performances. The kind of competitive match I want in a tournament. [***¼]

Super Strong Style 16 First Round: Aerostar vs. Trevor Lee 
An interesting match as neither guy is a PROGRESS regular. Lee just signed with WWE, while I haven’t seen much of Aerostar since the Lucha Underground days. Lee played up being the arrogant American and WWE star, wearing his NXT jacket to the ring and cutting a promo. He wondered why PROGRESS could only get Aerostar and not someone like Fenix or Pentagon. Ouch. His trash talk led to Aerostar attacking him. Lee tuned things around and was keeping up all the antics of drawing heat. However, the crowd was more indifferent to him than anything. They didn’t seem to enjoy what he was doing and it was more of a usually hot PROGRESS crowd sitting on their hands. Lee used a well-timed low blow to steal this in 7:06. Certainly the worst thing on the show so far. This version of Lee is a good character choice but made for a misstep in the ring. Their styles didn’t mesh at all. [**]

Super Strong Style 16 First Round: Artemis Spencer vs. David Starr
Starr is the tourney favorite, while I’ve never seen Artemis Spencer before. Spencer instantly showed that he is more athletic than he looks. He moved with an unexpected quickness and it took Starr by surprise. They had a back and forth match, but it was clear they were going to let Spencer do his thing. He hit a bunch of impressive moves that were kind of breathtaking. His insane senton spot into the Lumbar Check gave us a phenomenal near fall. It helped that Starr sold the moves like death. His kickout came as a surprise, even if he was the favorite. Spencer also showed off a sweet Spiral Tap. Starr rolled outside to avoid the pin, which is a smart strategy. From there, he caught Spencer with a Cherry Mint DDT, Han Stansen, and the Kaepernick to win in 8:00. A fantastic sprint that gave us a bunch of action in a short time. And it did it all while allowing both guys to come across great. [***½]

Super Strong Style 16 First Round: Darby Allin vs. Paul Robinson
The chapter debut for Darby Allin, though he worked some of the US shows last year. Paul Robinson is just a jerk. Before the bell or any introductions, Allin dove out onto Robinson. That set the tone for a brawl. They fought all through the crowd and on the short ramp before finally hitting the ring to officially start this. Though the rest took place in the ring, it wasn’t any less intense. This was basically two small dudes just throwing everything at each other. Allin found himself in trouble before busting out a flip Stunner from out of nowhere. He went for a Coffin Drop but Robinson evaded it and Allin caught a bunch of ring crew instead. He tried, but Allin didn’t have much more left. Robinson won with a Curb Stomp in 8:27. This was good and hard hitting. It lacked some drama and excitement, keeping it from being really good. Still, a solid match that felt different from the rest of the show. [***]

Super Strong Style 16 First Round: Chris Ridgeway vs. Kyle O’Reilly
I came in so excited for this. Ridgeway is someone I really like, while O’Reilly has been one of my favorites for five or six years. There are clear similarities here. Ridgeway can kind of feel like a younger Kyle when he was more of a grapple guy with less goofy antics. Lots of mat work in this one. They grappled extensively for the vast majority of the match. A lot of it was very good, though some little bits missed the mark for me. Like O’Reilly breaking a submission by biting the ropes is something I usually appreciate, but his arms were free and it wasn’t needed so it looked awkward. If you don’t like mat based wrestling, this is a match to avoid. I dig it, so I was in. They progressed to the more hard hitting strikes, evoking memories of O’Reilly from his EVOLVE run back in 2016. The finish kind of came out of nowhere, with Kyle using a knee bar to gain a surprisingly quick tap out at the 19:22 mark. There were definitely a few moments that didn’t work and felt dull at times. That kept this from being truly great. But there was a lot to like. The mat work was smart and smooth as hell. It felt like a true struggle and I go for that more often than not. [***¾]

After the match, Kyle air guitars with Chris to end the show.

The final score: review Good
The 411
I love me some consistent pro wrestling. Other than Aerostar/Lee, this entire show was good. Nothing ever reached that great level you crave, but I’ll take a show that is good from top to bottom any day. A strong start for the tournament and night two looks to have a better card.