Just when I thought I was out… you know the rest. This is going to sound conceited almost immediately, but to the untrained eye, not much will have changed over the course of the last two weeks of Underground. However, in the most subtle of ways, it feels like an almost seismic shift in the way the episodic television is actually put together; no more does Joey Styles have to be the ultimate source of exposition because there isn’t enough tape to cobble together a story. No more do we have matches that very obviously occurred on different nights airing on the same episode. No more do we have performers in the main event one week, only to disappear the next. Over the last two weeks, we have had matches with actual in-ring and backstage build, characters that feel specific to MLW and a hierarchy of performers that seemed almost non-existent for months.
This show had been built so incredibly in the first six weeks and I wished dearly for that show to return. It hasn’t, but something else has come along in its stead. Admittedly, what we are getting now is still making its way down a bumpy road, but what happens on the previous show has a direct effect on the next week’s show. That has not been the case for twelve weeks, at least not beyond the main event scene.
Speaking of the main event scene, there is one! With Steve Corino as champion, MLW has the ability to craft storylines with other wrestlers that frequent the promotion. While Mike Awesome is still working his way toward another challenge, it is totally plausible that Sabu, Christopher Daniels or even Raven could find their way into a title match. Speaking of Raven, he and CM Punk are tonight’s main event. While I haven’t heard much about their feud in MLW, their rivalry in ROH is the stuff of brutal legend, so I can’t wait to see what that match has in store.
Maybe it was due to all of the obvious connections with ECW, but Styles opens the show by welcoming new viewers because the program had expanded its syndication over previous weeks. While I may have had issues with a lot of what was happening in previous weeks, apparently they were doing something right because they were getting paid to show their television show in new places—whether or not it was at three o’clock in the morning remains to be seen.
Michael Shane w/Francine vs. Homicide
I think Michael Shane is going to die. The last time we saw Homicide, he looked like an absolute psychopath in the best way. I had no idea just how fast and agile he was when it came to classic pro wrestling. Shane, a direct relative of Shawn Michaels, definitely looks more like a “WWE guy” when juxtaposed with Homicide’s streetfighter persona. I have seen Homicide stab people in the head and stomp their faces in; the man exudes danger and violence. Beyond that, we have also seen a couple of backstage promos from the man Eddie Kingston now refers to as “Old Man Logan”.
JESUS CHRIST! I don’t know if Homicide uses the Cop Killer as a finisher anymore, but it would make sense if he didn’t. I legitimately thought Shane broke his neck. The only reason Shane was able to continue was because of Francine’s involvement. This is a very physical battle after the commercial break. In fact, it WAS a pretty great match until the sexual assault that completely took me out of it. I understand that it is a troupe of the time, but it was a ghoulish one nonetheless. Focusing purely on the wrestling talent of Homicide, he looked like a world champion, and Shane looked fairly strong in defeat. I expect to see Homicide make his way to the top of the card while Shane solidifies his spot in the mid-card.
James Mitchell actually cuts a pretty fantastic promo on Sabu and his addiction to the pain and suffering of professional wrestling. This is easily the best promo in the history of Underground, not that there have been very many, but once again there is a story being built using different characters across the spectrum of the company. It is a run of the mill Mitchell promo, but that is a novelty on this show.
Sabu’s rebuttal is unfortunately concocted by a gnarly toothed Bill Alfonso. If you have read my articles, you know how much I am irked by Bill Alfonso…so, moving on. Also, Sandman and Dr. Death bust into The Extreme Horsemen’s dressing room and beat them up for about two seconds before it cuts off. Hey, they are at least attempting to tie things together, and it was significantly better than the Horsemen beating up Dr. Death. You win some, you lose some.
CM Punk vs. Raven
This is not long before Punk began attaining true cult status. For as young as he was, you could definitely see the makings of a superstar every time he spoke. While he had not perfected his promo delivery by this point, the skeleton of what he was bringing to the table seemed like it could eventually be special. Raven is absolutely jacked at this point in wrestling history. I hate to propose that Raven was on the gas…but I don’t remember him being this stacked in ECW, WCW or WWF. If I am wrong, please correct me…but good lord.
For whatever reason, for months Joey Styles has been playing off of the fact that CM Punk is straight edge and Raven is essentially the opposite of that. I suppose Raven was totally fine with Styles putting his business out there in such a way, but it comes off as a bit crass in the moment. Regardless of build, both of these guys are extremely talented wrestlers and I am interested to see what they did together before their feud was acclaimed the way it would be in the near future.
It is pretty incredible that not drinking and not doing drugs makes you a detestable heel; reminiscent of Daniel Bryan being an evil environmentalist. They immediately cut a little bit out of this match but it looks to be a pretty simple beat-down of Punk by Raven before Raven produces a chair. There is a little bit of back and forth before Michael Shane breaks up Raven’s pinfall. Punk hits a DDT and wins.
One of the biggest problems with Underground has reared its ugly head: a main event that seemingly has a significant amount of hype that doesn’t deliver on any level. Norman Smiley saves Raven for some reason and I guess these four are going to tag with each other. If this were in the middle of a card, I wouldn’t care. These five-minute matches have seriously gotten on my nerves over the last two months, but at least we get a nice little Steve Corino promo to close out the show…the man that SHOULD be in the main event does have the final spot on the show, so I have to give them credit for that.
I think I need to stop thinking of the main events as main events and start thinking of them as “a match”, because that is usually what they are. I will say that watching this episode was an absolute breeze. In the past, I have had a tendency to check how much time is left in an episode before the final match, but I enjoyed the majority of this show on a basic level. The shift in my “main event” mindset can only serve to bolster my enjoyment of the show and we definitely have some interesting feuds coming into the next few weeks.