PROGRESS Wrestling makes its debut in New York City, as Matt Riddle gets his Atlas Championship rematch against WALTER. After having his WWE United Kingdom Championship match cancelled due to an injury to reigning champion Pete Dunne, Jack Gallagher squares off against Liverpool’s Number One, Zack Gibson. Read on for our full review and match ratings…
(Winner via pinfall: Jack Gallagher)
Jinny & Deonna Purazzo
Dahlia Black & Dakota Kai
(Winners via pinfall: Jinny & Purazzo)
Timothy Thatcher (with Stokely Hathaway)
#1 Contender Match for PROGRESS Atlas Championship
(Winner via submission: Timothy Thatcher)
No Disqualification Match
(Winner via pinfall: Jimmy Havoc)
(Winner via submission: Mark Haskins)
Trent Seven & Tyler Bate (“British Strong Style”) (with Pete Dunne)
(Winner via pinfall: Travis Banks)
PROGRESS Atlas Championship
(Winner via submission, and new champion: Matt Riddle)
PROGRESS Wrestling: New York City was to be a huge moment in the international growth of PROGRESS Wrestling. The company had sold out the venue they were performing in, despite it being their first time in NYC, and WWE had allowed them to book Dakota Kai and Jack Gallagher, the latter being scheduled to face PROGRESS World Champion Pete Dunne for his other piece of gold; the WWE United Kingdom Championship. Unfortunately, on the eve of the show, Pete Dunne was carelessly cut open when performing for another company, resulting in multiple stitches to his head and lack of clearance to perform at PROGRESS‘ NYC show.
The use of Jack Gallagher for a WWE United Kingdom Championship match had got them a lot of media exposure, and no doubt many of the final tickets shifted as a result of that advertised contest, so from just a business perspective this could’ve been a disaster for the company. However, PROGRESS did a great job dealing with this situation, even though I’m sure they were absolutely devastated.
The show opened with a lot of mic time, something I am not particularly accustomed to from PROGRESS. They dealt with the Dunne injury immediately, and after a tease of a future match between Gallagher and Dunne, we got a good promo between Gallagher and Zack Gibson. The latter somehow generated as much heat from the New York crowd as he does at a show in Manchester, England, and once again confirmed he’s one of the best heel workers on the mic right now. Honestly, I never expected to see a US crowd react to Gibson in the manner that they did. They got their reward with a bloody well fought battle between the two men, with Gallagher wrestling in a style that was slightly more hard-hitting than he does on WWE television each week. You could tell he enjoyed being on this independent show, even if he wasn’t competing in the match that was originally booked for him.
The women’s tag match was crazy, too. Superb work from Jinny and Purazzo on Black’s previously injured leg, and even better selling from Black. Honestly, these focused attacks on Dahlia Black’s weak point were sometimes uncomfortable to watch, but were something of a masterclass in how to use old injuries within the story of a match. I was legitimately surprised to see Dakota Kai eating the pin, given I thought WWE would’ve insisted that neither of their two loaned out talents were made to look weak by being pinned.
The Jimmy Havoc and Joey Janela match was one asked for by the fans, and I suspect they got exactly what they wanted, as these two mad men went all out in their war. Great spots here, and there were also many great spots in the fatal four way that followed it. The only thing that the four man contest lacked was a little more psychology, something to add that little piece of drama to proceedings.
Speaking of drama, I can only imagine the scenes backstage when TK Cooper dislocated his ankle. Smallman and co. were probably wondering what else could go wrong at that point, but I felt they dealt with the situation very well again, and the resulting British Strong Style versus Travis Banks match was decent for something put together right there in the ring. It did somewhat knock the wind out of a show that had been absolutely flawless up until that point.
After speaking to Matt Riddle at PROGRESS Wrestling: Vote Pies, and learning a little about how he treats championships, I had a feeling he was winning back the PROGRESS Atlas Championship the moment I saw him come out with the WWN Championship. The match itself was a grower, which is often the case with Riddle matches that are more wrestling contests than striking battles, and when Riddle won the title, I did wonder if the only reason he lost it in the first place was to get him a big pop on American soil for winning it back.
All in all, PROGRESS Wrestling: New York City was a fantastic wrestling event. The American crowd gave more to the show than anyone could’ve expected, and there were multiple matches that are up there with some of the best PROGRESS has seen in 2017. It progressed the current storylines nicely, too. Expanding their following in the US seems to be a no brainer, and shows like this will help ensure that that happens.
Match of the Night
Mark Andrews vs. Mark Haskins vs. Keith Lee vs Austin Theory