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Match Of The Week: Angelico Vs. Keith Lee

A wonderful clash of styles between two first-time opponents...

Hello, and welcome to the first of a new series, where I take my favourite wrestling match of the past week and explain why I thought it was so good. I'll give background info - including any important history between the competitors - and a rundown of the bout itself.

If you're familiar with my 'Wrestlers of the Week' series on our YouTube channel, this works along similar lines. Matches are in contention if they aired over the course of the previous week. Live TV and pay per view matches are fine, but results from TV tapings and events yet to be made available online will have to wait before being eligible for selection. This week's match actually took place over a week ago, but only went up on demand a few days ago - therefore it's acceptable. Trust me, it's fine. Don't worry about it. Don't think about it too much.

Anyway, without any further ado, let's get on with my first match of the week!

PROGRESS


Angelico vs. Keith Lee
PROGRESS Super Strong Style 16 2018 - Day 2
Alexandra Palace, London, UK

Background: None. No, seriously - if PROGRESS' commentary team is to be believed, this is the first match between Angelico and Keith Lee in any promotion.

However, in the interest of making this an entertaining read, I'll provide some context. For the unfamiliar, Super Strong Style 16 is PROGRESS' annual single-elimination tournament, throwing 16 of the biggest UK and foreign talents together, with the winner earning a title shot. Simple.

This match is a second-round affair, with Angelico defeating Mark Andrews on Day 1, and Lee bulldozing through Flash Morgan Webster to join him.

A quick word on the two competitors; they both think quite a lot of themselves. A major part of this match-up's appeal is that both men adopt very smug personas - and despite both being babyfaces, it was quite nice knowing that one would be sent crashing out of the tournament. Let's look at both men.

Angelico is a cocky, agile pretty-boy from South Africa. There's a decent chance that you (like me) first heard of him thanks to Lucha Underground - where, for lack of a kinder term, he played the role of a massive f***boy. Thrust into a love-triangle storyline with Son of Havoc and Ivelisse, he earned a daredevil reputation after performing a crazy running dive from the roof of Dario Cueto's office into the ring. This risk was taken in order to save an injured Ivelisse, which sort of sums up Angelico's whole vibe: a total show-off, but one with a heart of gold.

Keith Lee is - as his theme music states - the man of the hour, having signed a WWE contract around the time of WrestleMania weekend. This seems like validation for a man who has quickly become one of the hottest acts on the independent scene, thanks to his excellent work in promotions like EVOLVE and PWG over the last couple of years. In the ring, Lee is always entertaining. He's a huge, strong dude, and wrestles like he knows exactly how much of a huge, strong dude he is. He has some of the best facial expressions in the game right now, and a freakish amount of agility in relation to his size.

So yes, even before the opening bell, we have a great clash of size vs. speed - but also a lot of similarity in terms of personality. Both men think they're destined to win, because they're so cool and good at wrestling, obviously. Whose style will prove them right?

PROGRESS


The Match: I'm honestly not sure if this match is the best of Super Strong Style 16 2018 - but I'm sure that it's my favourite.

Over the course of the three-day tournament, various bouts made a case for match of the weekend. I winced at David Starr and Zack Sabre Jr.'s stiff exchanges. I gasped as Tyler Bate hoisted the much bigger Kassius Ohno into a no-handed Airplane Spin. I was thoroughly impressed as Sabre and Ohno put on a fittingly dramatic final.

But no match made me smile as much as Angelico vs. Keith Lee. For a pair who'd apparently never wrestled one another beforehand, they clicked like storied rivals. Re-watching it now, here are a few of the best moments:

  • The opening exchanges, where Angelico decides to unload all of his strikes early, and the bigger man just keeps walking forward like a horror movie villain.

  • Lee basking in the adulation of the crowd, allowing his opponent to surprise him with a cheap chop - which is hilariously no-sold.

  • Angelico's immediate regret at said chop.

  • Lee finally getting the upper hand, charging at a cornered Angelico, only for the South African to meet him with a flash knee to the face. Keith stiffens immediately and tumbles to the canvas, the best sell of the match, and a moment which convinced many that he was KOd for real. Impeccable timing from both men.

  • Lee's double-overhand chops, a pair of which are so thunderous they actually earn a standing ovation from the crowd.

  • Angelico's mad decision to go for his Crucifix Buckle-Bomb, somehow holding Lee above his head like Atlas holding up the Earth. He doesn't manage to hit it, but it's a crowd-popping feat of strength nonetheless.


Ultimately, this proves to be Angelico's downfall. Lee escapes, hits the ropes, and blasts him with a running pounce. It's like a rhino hitting a swan. The Ground Zero follows, and Keith advances to the semi-finals.

PROGRESS


Aftermath: With Angelico a PROGRESS newcomer, and Lee presumably off to the Performance Center soon, it's quite unlikely that either man would go on to win Super Strong Style 16. Keith is knocked out in the semis by eventual winner Zack Sabre Jr., caught in a surprise European clutch.

Angelico finds himself in a scramble match with various other tournament losers, but loses out on his chance to re-enter.

Still, in this seemingly-innocuous second round clash, both men discover an unlikely natural chemistry - the sort that can bring a crowd to its feet several times throughout the course of a bout. I'd hazard a guess that both men are eager to face one another again, and for our sake, I hope that's true. However, with Lee departing the indies for WWE soon, it could be a while before we see the rematch.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

Head of News at Cultaholic.com | [email protected]cultaholic.com