Contra Unit has been the dominant force in MLW throughout 2019 and 2020. In fact, once MLW ran out of television tapings, the storyline consisted of Contra Unit taking over the television show. While everyone within Contra Unit is highly skilled in one way or another, I am a humongous fan of Jacob Fatu. My first experience seeing Fatu was at a live event in Texas City for Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling promotion. Not a single person in the crowd knew who he was. He had a competitive squash match with a local enhancement talent. I left my seat when I saw him do his moonsault finisher. Fatu is now the MLW Champion and has been for quite some time, deservedly so. Consisting of Fatu, Ikuro Kwon, Josef Samael and Simon Gotch, the belligerent heel stable has been making its mark on the world of professional wrestling through dastardly tactics, blistering promos, and excellent technical in-ring work.
Contra Unit vs. Stronghearts (New York City, NY – January 2020)
Stronghearts are led by Japanese wrestling legend Cima, who some of you may have seen involved with AEW last year. Stronghearts are a contingent out of China’s OWE (Oriental Wrestling Entertainment). OWE was meant to have a working relationship with AEW, a relationship The Young Bucks seemed particularly excited about. I have been attempting to research what has happened to said relationship for months because I don’t believe OWE has had a single moment of representation on Dynamite. Nonetheless, Stronghearts are ready to go against the most dominant force in MLW.
You have to be a little bit excited when a match begins with a brutal chop fest. From the very beginning, you could tell this was going to be a physical affair. Fatu looked especially monstrous when squaring off with the smallest competitor in Stronghearts, Lindaman. I have seen Lindaman in matches on several occasions and I am always impressed. He is a little ball of muscle. Lindaman came quite close to giving Fatu a body slam, but no such luck. After getting pounded by the Contra Unit, Lindaman was finally able to tag out to Stronghearts largest member, Shingehiro Irie.
Shingehiro has, according to commentary, had runs in All Japan and DDT. He was unfamiliar to me but after seeing some of his inventive offence, I became a fan fairly quickly. My favorite move of his was piledriving Samael ON Simon Gotch. But, then it was time for the two beastly boys to square off. I am always amazed by Fatu’s feats of athleticism. I imagine he is quite happy in MLW, considering he is the champion, but if Fatu had the opportunity for more eyes to be on him, he would be an absolute superstar.
This match was pure fun. I love a dynamic six-man tag, and when every competitor has something different to offer, you can make pretty special in-ring moments. While it probably won’t be a match that sticks in your mind for the rest of your existence, you’ll be buzzing about it the next day.
Jacob Fatu vs. LA Park – MLW World Championship match (Chicago, IL – November 2019)
I actually watched this match as it happened. It was MLW’s first global pay-per-view and this was the match I was least excited about. On previous Fusion episodes, I had not found LA Park to be my cup of tea inside the ring. While I knew being in a championship match would probably elevate the work, I was not expecting what we got on the night. After watching the match, the only thing I really remember was being taken aback by the level of intensity and violence. It probably wasn’t a match that I would have watched again on my own accord, so I was happy to learn it was on this episode of Anthology.
LA Park won the 2019 Battle Riot, which automatically made him the number one contender for Jacob Fatu’s championship. As I said, this was not the number one contender I had been hoping for, but it exceeded every expectation. Chicago is known as the land of the “smart marks” and they were split between the two contenders. Salina de la Renta and Josef Samael are at ringside in a managerial role for LA Park and Fatu respectively. Commence violence.
I wish there were a more diplomatic phrase to describe the first few minutes of this match, but… they are beating the s*** out of each other. Each competitor was attempting one powerful move after another with neither man truly getting the upper hand. It was not until Samael got involved on the outside that things begin to take a turn for the worse for LA Park. The major turning point of the match comes when Fatu begins ripping off Park’s mask; Salina complains to the official and when the official is distracted, Samael uses the opportunity to drive a spike into LA Park’s face. Officially a blood bath.
After being opened up by Samael, the crowd turns on Fatu. Instead of 50/50, it is much closer to 70/30. Park was getting dismantled for a solid seven or eight minutes when he was finally able to hit a power slam in order to get some of his fire back. When LA Park hit a springboard twisting senton on Fatu, he got me on his side… crowd: 80/20. Now, the weapons! Fatu gets legitimately busted open by the ring bell being slammed into his face. Once the match made it back inside the ring, it legitimately felt like either man could win.
Honestly, I don’t even want to give a description of what happens in the final five minutes because everyone just needs to watch it for themselves. For MLW’s first pay per view, this felt like a true main event; this is a triumph for me, considering the men involved. It is fast, BRUTAL, surprising and endlessly entertaining. WATCH.THIS.MATCH.
Jacob Fatu is the antagonist of a monster movie. What he does in the ring doesn’t seem at all possible. The Contra Unit is one of the reasons I started watching MLW on a regular basis. They are also a reason to continue watching because they have not slowed down one bit since their debut. Contra Unit feels like a dangerous entity in a time when everyone understands the business of professional wrestling. The ability to buy into an act is everything and The Contra Unit makes me feel like they will come to my home and kidnap me if I don’t buy-in. Consider me bought.