Indie Promotion Turns Fans Away For The First Time Thanks To Lucha Stars, Matt Riddle

Former UFC fighter Matt Riddle has found his footing in the wrestling business following his release from World Wrestling Entertainment in September 2023. At New Japan Pro Wrestling's "The New Beginning in Sapporo" event, he captured the NJPW World Television Championship from Hiroshi Tanahashi, and he recently made his first title defense at an event with so much hype behind it that fans had to be turned away at the door.


That show was Major League Wrestling's Intimidation Games, which took place on February 29 at the Melrose Ballroom in New York City. The show had so much demand, according to PWInsider Elite, that MLW had to turn fans away before the show aired, as the event was sold out — a first in the promotion's history. MLW were obviously extremely pleased with the New York crowd and credited the increased interest in the show to Riddle's star power (he was the most over person on the show in terms of ring entrances, per PWI), MLW founder and CEO Court Bauer playing closer attention to booking, and the inclusion of CMLL star Mistico, who defeated Rocky Romero for the MLW World Middleweight Championship. The show was headlined by an MLW World Heavyweight Championship match between two Japanese legends, as champion Satoshi Kojima successfully defended his title against Minoru Suzuki. Riddle and the stars of CMLL were also present for the "Once Upon a Time in New York" taping that took place on the same day, which will air on YouTube on March 16.


Back in October, MLW launched a joint partnership with CMLL and New Japan Pro-Wrestling, the home promotion of Kojima and Suzuki. If Intimidation Games is anything to go by, it seems from the early returns that MLW is benefiting greatly from the relationship, which could eventually bear even sweeter fruit as CMLL and NJPW are also partners with All Elite Wrestling.