MLW Anthology: Mance Warner Review – May 23rd

“For nearly twenty years, Major League Wrestling has showcased some of the greatest athletes, legends and classic title fights in our sport. Now MLW looks back at some of those great moments…”

Rich Bocinni

After the success of last week’s focus on LA Park, MLW Anthology returns this week with a pair of brutal, bloody, skin tearing, muscle shredding encounters featuring everyone’s favourite southern psychopath, Mance Warner!

Ol’ Mancer is possibly one of the most entertaining people in the business at the moment, so this promises to be a great hour of action.

So, with all that said, let’s go to the ring!

Falls-Count-Anywhere, Loser Leaves Town match: Mance Warner vs. Sami Callihan (Waukesha County Expo Center, Milwaukee, June 2019)

Pre-match, we get some footage of Josef Samael delivering a message on behalf of CONTRA – apparently the flags of CONTRA fly high from MLW HQ and we never saw this coming. Beneath this speech is footage of Davey Boy Smith Jr lying in a bloody mess in a stairwell, and Jacob Fatu looking particularly menacing. That match is going to be fire when we finally get it.

This is an interesting match to choose, because although it’s a really good, hard hitting brawl, it almost gets overshadowed by the shenanigans between Callihan and Cornette at the start of the match. This was Callihan’s last match for the company and the two men had legitimate heat with each other. So when Callihan comes out for his entrance and spits water at Cornette, Cornette goes apes**t, swinging his tennis racket at Callihan and screaming at him, to which Callihan gives him the middle finger in response. From there, Cornette peppers his commentary throughout the match with some descriptions of Callihan that go beyond the pale of heel colour commentator and into a more personal zone that is in equal measures exciting and uncomfortable.

Thinking about it, Cornette didn’t last much longer with MLW after this match either. I don’t know if the two things were related, or whether Cornette left to join the NWA, but it’s certainly easy to join certain dots.

Thankfully, the action of the match itself refuses to let the Cornette/Callihan conflict overshadow it, as Callihan and Ol’ Mancer are both known for being up for a good old-fashioned extreme scrap, and this is what we got here. They fight at the concession stand, throwing each other against a chain link fence, and then up into the metal bleachers amongst the crowd, where Sami suplexes Mance across the bleachers in a painful looking moment. Callihan then puts a bin over Ol’ Mancer, only for Mance to start ‘bin-butting’ Sami, before missing a charge and hitting the fence! Brilliant.

Back in the ring, Sami gets out a staple gun, stapling Mance right in the forehead (ouch!) and later stapling three dollar bills to his arms and forehead (triple ouch!), which looks bloody painful when Mance pulls them off. A piledriver off the middle rope through a spare ring board laid across two chairs only gets a two for Sami, which leads me to believe Warner is invincible.

Mancer spears Sami through a second ring board in the corner, which then leads to a Mexican stand off in the middle of the ring, with both men sitting on chairs and slapping the taste out of each other’s mouths, until Sami sends a wad of spit in Mance’s direction and Ol’ Mancer goes berserk with fists. Sami comes back with a tombstone piledriver onto an opened steel chair in a genuinely brutal moment, before putting the staple gun to use again…on Mancer’s tongue! Mance manages to detach himself from the ring board his tongue had become intimate with and uses it to batter the living hell out of Sami, before hitting a running knee into the board, handily propped up by Callihan’s face, for the 1-2-3.

This was a great match that I remember watching at the time but enjoyed a lot more on second viewing. It was brutal, bloody, hard-hitting and successfully managed to escalate its brutality throughout the match so that the dramatic spots near the end really made the required impact.

A great match.

Mance Warner Anthology title card

No-Rope Barbed Wire Match: Mance Warner vs. Jimmy Havoc (Nytex Sports Centre, Dallas, January 2020)

We start with a little look back at what led to this match; Jimmy had started working for Promociones Dorado and, under the instruction Salina de la Renta, made it his mission to rid MLW of the thorn in Salina’s side, Ol’ Mance Warner. Things escalated, with Priscilla Kelly helping Jimmy to leave Mance in a bloody mess. And so, things would be decided by this match.

This was a good, solid match, that is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed it. It wasn’t overlong, it made its wire spots count and both men bled, Mance in particular juicing a gusher that must have been sore in the morning.

The two men started off cautiously, Mancer with a chair and Jimmy with a barbed wire baseball bat, teasing wire spots that had the crowd anxious and breathless. In the end, it was Havoc who tasted wire first. But he soon compensated for that…

A suplex on the wire made Warner writhe. Havoc followed that up with chair shots and then ground Mance’s head into the wire like meat being minced. Later, Havoc would use wire cutters to get a strand of wire to wrap around Mancer’s head and pull back, and later around his mouth, to horrific effect. Havoc staples Mance’s shirt to his back, and the two men exchange low blows with a barbed wire bat and a staple gun (good look with having children, boys!) Mancer pulls out a door from under the ring(!), which Havoc kindly DVD’s him through – that’s one way to show someone the door!

In the end, Mance sealed the deal by knocking some powder Havoc was preparing back into Havoc’s face, hitting a lariat and piledriving Havoc onto a chair for the pin.

Afterwards, we see a promo from a bloody Mance, who warns Hammerstone he’s coming for his gold. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long now.

The Roll Call

This is the section of the show where MLW’s stars update us on their thoughts and feuds (and gets aired as a separate thing in itself on YouTube for people who just want to watch The Roll Call).

This week, Hammerstone and Holliday let each other know that they’ve re-signed on a multiple year deal for MLW. Holliday wonders who signed for the most money and for the longest term, but Hammerstone doesn’t want to get involved in that.

On his birthday, Kevin Von Erich celebrates with his family with a candle-lit cake. Tom Lawlor, on the other hand, bemoans the fact that he has to share his birthday with Von Erich.

Dan Lambert announces he has notified every sports association in America of Low-Ki’s mental instability and he won’t be allowed to perform in the ring anymore.

Myron Reed and Jordan Oliver individually hype up Injustice. Reed says they have a new member primed but he doesn’t “kiss and tell”.

Ol’ Mancer has had the revelation that you shouldn’t be doing welding whilst drunk…

And the Park family once more threaten CONTRA. Now there would be a good six-man match…

Final Thoughts

Mance Warner drinking a cold one

Again, MLW delivered the good with another well-selected, entertaining Anthology. The two-match format is just right, allowing them to put on longer, engaging matches as opposed to choosing short matches just to fit the hour timeslot.

Mance Warner might not be for everyone, in that extreme wrestling of course isn’t for everyone. But he’s damn good at it, and across the wrestling industry today, he is one of the key performers who just has the magnetic charisma and character which screams out ‘star.’

Once the wrestling industry (and the world) gets back on track after the pandemic, MLW is Mance’s for the taking.

Raise a light beer!

Chris Flackett

Written by Chris Flackett

Wrestling obsessed since '91. Lived through the Monday Night Wars and is still here to tell the tale. Major fan of Strong Style, technical and Super Jr. Wrestling, as well as big versatile hosses smacking the hell out of each other. Lives in Manchester, England.

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