MLW aired the first episode of their ‘2021 Open Draft’ on YouTube last night, announcing the first new signing under the draft as being veteran grappler Davey Richards. Chris Flackett takes a look at what went down…
When MLW announced they would be replenishing their roster via an Open Draft that would take place episodically on YouTube, in time for their return to action in front of an audience in July, I thought it was a clever and appealing idea. MLW prides itself on its sports-like presentation, something more often than that it manages to live up to, and an open draft only made that concept seem more authentic, like the equivalent of an NBA or NFL draft, except they’re not scouring the colleges for talent of course (maybe they should one day…could be interesting).
What was also interesting was that it was announced that members of Dragon Gate Pro Wrestling and Revolution Pro Wrestling would be on the MLW Championship Committee as part of the draft process. With the implication of working relationships with top-tier international promotions being teased, the open draft became even more exciting.
The only problem I had with the open draft was that the way it would be presented was vague. It was said that it would air on YouTube and would take place over more than one episode. But how many episodes? What could we expect from the format? How long would each episode last? Would we see the MLW Championship Committee on-screen? Reasonable questions each, but none that received definite answers until the first episode of the draft aired last night on May 21st.
I’m sure no one was expecting that the draft episodes would be one new announcement per episode, nor that this opener would last a little under nine minutes. But that’s exactly what we got. To say that the format didn’t live up to expectations is an understatement. There was no championship committee, no real pomp or sense of occasion per se. Alicia Atout led the programme and I will say she did a good job hosting what we got.
What did we get? Well, we got confirmation that of the current roster, staying on so far will be The Von Erichs, Gino Medina and Mil Muertes, who has decided to go by the name of King Muertes. We also got the reveal of the first new signing and this, admittedly, was exciting: former American Wolves member, Davey Richards!
This was a pleasant surprise. Presumed retired since 2017, Davey Richards is a very talented individual who has won gold in Ring of Honor, Impact and Pro Wrestling Guerilla amongst other places. A versatile wrestler who can equally strike hard as he can fly through the air, Davey Richards is a great example of what MLW calls “hybrid wrestling” and will be a great experienced hand to have the younger members of the roster.
Alicia Atout interviewed Richards via zoom and Richards looked good (as good as you can on a zoom call anyway). He sounded positive as he spoke about bringing violence to MLW and aiming for the World Heavyweight title, as well as commenting on how he wants to grow the MLW brand and complimenting MLW on their sports presentation, which was apparently a big draw for Richards. He always looked to give a sporting presentation in the ring and felt if the wrestling was good enough, that would be entertainment in itself. It’s a good attitude and one that certainly does tally up with the MLW ethos. I think Richards is a solid signing for the company.
The question occurs: who would I want to see square off with Davey Richards in an MLW ring? Well, it depends who stays and who is brought onto the roster during the draft, but a Davey Richards-Myron Reed match would be fire, I think, as would a bout with TJP. Fatu would be another great opponent, as would Daivari; I think Richards could have great matches with both men. I’d also like to see what Davey Richards could bring to the table against the likes of other versatile performers like Tom Lawlor and Hammerstone. I would happily take any of those matches and will be very pleased should any of them occur.
What did you think of MLW announcing the signing of Davey Richards? Let us know in the comments and keep with Sports Obsessive for more announcements and thoughts on the MLW Open Draft as they occur.