Super Strong Style 16: The Proving Ground Of Legends

With close to half of the field now named for the 2022 Super Strong Style 16 tournament 2022, thoughts begin to turn to which of this year’s field could start to write themselves into PROGRESS – and wrestling – history. 

There have been five editions of SSS16, a tournament that has garnered an incredible reputation amongst fans and has seen some major names in the industry compete over the years.

A notable quarter-final casualty in the 2015 SSS16 was Tommaso Ciampa. It is easy now to look at Ciampa as a two-time NXT Champion and a member of WWE’s Raw roster. However, in May 2015, when the first SSS16 took place, Ciampa was still four months away from heading to WWE. In that year’s SSS16, he beat Big Damo in round one, before falling in the semi-final to that’s year’s losing finalist, Zack Sabre Jr. Ciampa would later tag with Sabre and face him in an epic two-out-of-three falls match in two of his many PROGRESS return visits.

Sabre would enter further SSS16 tournaments, losing in the semi-final in 2017 and then winning the whole thing in 2018. That year, he beat Keith Lee in the semi-finals and Kassius Ohno (Chris Hero) in an epic final. ZSJ has since participated with great credit in many prestigious tournaments in NJPW, having featured in a total of 33 PROGRESS matches.

That was tournament was Hero’s second attempt at winning the competition, having lost in the semi-final the previous year. On that occasion, he lost to Holland’s Tommy End, the overall 2016 winner. Tommy would go on to be known as Aleister Black in WWE and now Malakai Black in AEW, but End’s beginning in SSS16 was less than ideal. He lost in the first round in 2015 to Roderick Strong.

Another first round faller that year was Big Daddy Walter, now known as GUNTHER in WWE. Aged just 27 at the time, the towering Austrian was making his PROGRESS debut in the tournament. He lost to Rampage Brown, and in 2016 only got one stage further before becoming a victim of Chris Hero. However, WALTER was just getting started, and would go on to be a PROGRESS World Champion and multiple time Atlas Champion.

In 2017, the tournament semi-finals featured another former Atlas champ, and a man currently holding WWE gold. Matt Riddle, current tag champ with Randy Orton, lost in the semi-final of 2017’s SSS16 to Tyler Bate, having beaten Bate’s Moustache Mountain partner Trent Seven en route.

Moustache Mountain have been PROGRESS Tag Champions as well as NXT UK tag champs, while Bate was the inaugural NXT UK Champion. He lost that title to Pete Dunne, now known as Butch on Smackdown. Not only are all three Brits PROGRESS mainstays, but Dunne had tournament success alongside Riddle in NXT, as the pair won the Dusty Rhodes Classic in 2020.

Dunne and Riddle claimed NXT tag gold together the following month, defeating Bobby Fish and another former SSS16 competitor, Kyle O’Reilly in 2019. Another losing semi-finalist that year was Ilja Dragunov. Now the NXT UK Champion, Ilja has had an excellent PROGRESS career, most recently returning to face Cara Noir at our 10th Anniversary Show in March.

In the 2019 second round, Dragunov knocked out Trevor Lee. Lee is now known as Cameron Grimes, competing in NXT, where he is the North American Champion.

Also featuring in 2019 was Darby Allin. Although his tenure in the tournament was short, losing in the first round, Allin has been very successful in AEW since its inception, and was hand-picked to be CM Punk’s first opponent after a long hiatus.

Do not miss the opportunity to witness all three days of the Super Strong Style 16 tournament for 2022, and potentially see some of the next huge stars in the wrestling industry. It takes place at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, North London, from 3rd-5th June. Tickets are available now from our online ticket store for all three days.