OPENING SEGMENT - Pete Dunne comes out to cut a promo. He was supposed to wrestle tonight but he's injured so he won't. He heels on the fans by telling us all that he wouldn't want to risk his body wrestling for us even if he wasn't injured, and also that he makes more money than everyone else. Also, he claimed to own, New York, PROGRESS, and the WWE. Jack Gallagher (who I assume Dunne was supposed to defend his title against tonight) came out to a HUGE pop. He called Dunne out on his claim to own WWE by saying "I didn't see you last week at TV," which was a great line until you realize that the TV in question was 205 Live and Dunne occasionally showing up on NXT to defend his UK Title has him feeling like a much bigger star than Gallaher has ever felt like in WWE by being on Raw and 205 Live.
Gallagher was all polite and gentlemanly, saying that while he was looking forward to winning the title from Dunne tonight, he understands that Dunne is injured so maybe they can have their match in the future when he is all healed up. He offers a handshake, but Dunne snubs him and walks off.
Gallagher cuts a promo saying he came here to compete. Zack Gibson comes out and says he is the best wrestler in PROGRESS (while receiving his customary stream of constant boos from the crowd). He responded to them by cutting an excellent heel promo on the crowd, calling them a "parody of the great British crowds." He also called Gallagher "a parody of a professional wrestler," which got a pop out of me. He challenges Gallagher to a match and Gallagher accepts, so we get...
JACK GALLAGHER vs. ZACK GIBSON - 6.75/10
This started off with Gallagher giving Gibson a sucker-headbutt, which didn't seem very gentlemanly to me at all. Other than that this was quite the great opener, using a few big spots to punctuate a very simple story.
Tonight's commentary is by PROGRESS' Glen Joseph and EVOLVE's Lenny Leonard.
DEONNA PURRAZZO & JINNY vs. DAKOTA KAI & DAHLIA BLACK - 6.75/10
I get that this is a tag team match and such things are to be expected, but giving Deonna a high five after her entrance might well be the first time I've ever seen her get along with anyone. As Lenny Leonard would later diplomatically put it "Jinny doesn't play well with others." Jinny is pretty much the best female heel in the wrestling business right now not named Alexa Bliss!, and that was on full display here, with her facials, her body language, and the viciousness of her assault on Dahlia's only recently-healed leg. Deonna got in on it, too with her methodical work on the limb, but Jinny was the real force here.
Dahlia's selling was excellent as well, and aside from the big spot in Dahlia's comeback where Jinny wound up taking an extremely scary bump on her head, this was a wonderfully-executed rendition of your basic tag team story. Deonna continues to improve every time I see her, as she now seems to have shored up the biggest weakness I saw in her game the last time I saw her, which was in-ring charisma. Deonna got the win here, which probably means they're going to bring her over to the UK at some point, because Deonna Purrazzo goes everywhere.
PROGRESS ATLAS TITLE #1 CONTENDERSHIP MATCH:
Donovan Dijak vs. Timothy Thatcher (w/Stokely Hathaway) - 6.5/10
Thatcher worked over Dijak's arm (try not to be too surprised) so Dijak had to rely on using his size by throwing his body around to create some offense. Unfortunately it was Stokely was ultimately the difference-maker, providing distractions at two key points during the match, including one which led directly to the finish.
NO DISQUALIFICATION MATCH:
Joey Janela vs. Jimmy Havoc - 8/10
All you really need to know about this match is that Joey Janela performed the single most amazing reversal to a monkey flip in the history of professional wrestling. You'll know what I'm talking about when you see it.
Okay. I take that back. There is more to know about this match than that, but I'm not going to tell you anything specific for two reasons. First, because I don't want to spoil anything for you, and second because watching some of this stuff made me physically uncomfortable, so I really don't want to relive it mentally in order to type about it. This was my ultra-violent match for the year. I really hope I don't accidentally stumble across any more of them. Joey Janela is a f*cking idiot for taking some of the stuff that he took, and I am going to have nightmares about that thing with the thumbtacks.
AUSTIN THEORY vs. KEITH LEE vs. MARK HASKINS vs. MARK ANDREWS - 7.75/10
This was ten minutes of insanity. It was, admittedly, a spotfest, and was full of those multiple-person spots like the TNA X-Division used to do back in the day, but these guys managed to make them all look completely organic.
PROGRESS TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
British Strong Style(c) (w/Pete Dunne) vs. South Pacific Power Trip - no rating.
Dahlia Black is not out with the SPPT (I assume) because she's selling the injuries she suffered to her leg in her match earlier. And speaking of the South Pacific Power Couple and leg injuries, the reason this match gets no rating is because early on T.K. Cooper suffered what was thought to be an extremely severe leg injury while landing on a dive. Thankfully you couldn't see anything on the angle they had (I didn't even realize he was injured until the referee ran over and then held up the X sign), but the guy who recommended this show to me was there live, and he told me it was quite gruesome-looking. One of those injuries where you knew it was extremely bad just from the way his leg bent when he landed.
We faded to black, which should tell you how severe this is, because promotions that don't use unlicensed music almost never do that. I was told that it was quite a while before they got T.K. to the back. When we cut back in you can see him being carried out down the aisle by a contingent of the larger wrestlers. PROGRESS promoter Jim Smallman and EVOLVE promoter Gabe Sapolsky both came out to check on him, which should be another indication of how bad this was, because in all my years of watching shows he has booked, the only other time I can remember Gabe running out to check on an injured wrestler was Mark Briscoe under-rotating on a Shooting Star Press to the outside and landing on his head at Supercard of Honor II. Much like Mark's brother Jay Briscoe did in that match, T.K. Cooper's tag team partner Travis Banks wanted to continue the fight in honor of his injured comrade, so after check with British Strong Style and the crowd, Jim Smallman booked an impromptu...
British Strong Style (w/Pete Dunne) vs. Travis Banks - 5/10
The heels beat Banks down and worked him over but he wouldn't give up, overcame everything they threw at him, and managed to pull out a win, to the extreme delight of the crowd... which was exactly what should have happened here. Other than the referee not disqualifying British Strong Style for multiple things Pete Dunne did that should have warranted a DQ, this was as good a match as they could have possibly had under the circumstances.
PROGRESS ATLAS TITLE MATCH: WALTER(c) vs. Matt Riddle - 8.25/10
The story here was the size difference between the two men. Riddle's strategy was to make up for the size differential with pure heart and determination, and, shockingly, it worked. I say shockingly because Riddle winning the title back was just about the last thing I expected. I'm not a fan of short title reigns, especially when they are only done to get a big pop when you switch the belt right back, which is what this feels like. It's also surprising because Thatcher is the #1 contender, and Thatcher vs. Riddle has already been played out this year. Furthermore, if Riddle was going to win the belt here the I'm not quite sure why he didn't make WALTER tap in the WWN Title match on the EVOLVE show earlier in the day (as opposed to tapping out hometown guy Tracy Williams, whose feud with Riddle also feels like it needs to end in a singles match, not a four-way).
This was a very fun show from PROGRESS. It was wrestling that made you feel good while watching it. The wrestlers all worked their asses off, and the crowd deserves a lot of credit as well, both for being hot all night and for their conduct during the T.K. Cooper injury. I shouldn't have to commend a crowd on something like that, but wrestling crowds can be infamously sh*tty about things like this. I was told by my source in the building that out of the 1,500 people in the building, there was a grand total of one asshole, who quickly had to be removed from the building for his own safety because other fans nearby were ready to kill him.