Daniels and Homicide Begin Their Legends

MLW Underground Review – September 19th

THIS is the Underground main event I have been clamoring over for about five straight weeks. Christopher Daniels vs. Homicide. Two guys who, in 2020, are bona fide legends, but were in the early portions of their careers they would stop at nothing to prove themselves. I know this to be true because I have seen their other work from the mid-2000s and it is exactly as I described—two men WWE apparently had little interest in that deserved a bigger, more diverse stage. THIS is what MLW is supposed to be in 2003. Satoshi Kojima going against Johnny Smith, entertaining for what it was, is not what I am looking for out of this show. Half of a seemingly interesting match between La Parka and Sabu, that was followed by a significantly shorter and less violent version of the same thing, absolutely took the wind out of my sails. Dr. Death and PJ Friedman in a three minute tag match? No… just… no. Christopher Daniels vs. Homicide gets an emphatic, Bryan-like “YES”!

I would like to pump up the next big show MLW was producing at this point, but I have no confidence that we will see a single second of it, so I am not going to base any of my excitement off of the build to that. I will be watching Underground as a singular entity, because that is how it exists in reality. There have been feuds that disappeared, main event blow-offs that have gone unseen, and the seemingly “biggest stars” on the brand have been absent for extended periods. Joey Styles does absolutely everything he can to make this show come off as episodic, and on the surface, he is wildly successful in doing so. Obviously, the vast majority of the company’s resources were going to these “video specials”, so they didn’t have very much to run during those several weeks of television. Well, the fact of the matter is we should be well past the “Tabu in Orlando” disappointment. Give me some wrasslin’!

I swear, I am not a negative person when it comes to wrestling, and I am not cynical when it comes to the vast majority of the wrestling I watch. One reason I was excited for this particular episode is because I saw it had a run-time of forty-eight minutes. Every other episode of that length had at least two matches, and more than likely three. The first ten minutes of this episode is the previously aired Kojima defense against Johnny Smith.

At least Joey Styles doesn’t tease me, he lets me know right off the bat that Hybrid Hell already happened. Honestly, I find that to be a relief. I can move on from the mystery surrounding what I will or will not see. That being said, Joey Styles also tells us that we will be seeing five brand new fighters on Underground, with Homicide being one of those. He did not make the distinction, however, whether or not they would be wrestling, but it seems like that may be the case.

Hot Commodity vs. Nosawa & Masada

Nosawa and Masada make their entrance on MLW Underground

HOLY HELL! We have got a match, people! EZ Money and Julio Deniro make up the team of Hot Commodity. Apparently a mid-card tag team in the latter days of ECW, Styles is putting them over big in terms of how they have gotten into shape over the previous two years since he has seen them. Nosawa and Masada have been the definition of successful journeymen. In 2003, their most notable run was in CMLL, but as a team they also had championship success as a junior tag team in DDT and AJPW. To be honest, I am not familiar with either of these teams, but that is exactly what I want out of MLW in 2003… revelation. Also, Nosawa and Masada look genuinely frightening.

Japanese juniors that are just as barrel chested as Japanese heavyweights get me excited. Masada was only about thirty years old at this point, but he makes his way around the ring like a fifty year old Yuji Nagata, and I mean that as a compliment. Juxtaposed to the way he moves about, Masada’s striking is lightning fast. You can tell he is the type of wrestler that would be able to make anyone look like a star. Speaking of quickness, I was expecting Hot Commodity to be significantly slower than they actually are. The early 2000s were not a great time for big men. Moving like the Ultimate Warrior in a time where we had already seen guys the likes of Jeff Hardy around the main event doesn’t make for the most exciting television. WWE was guilty of pushing such talent on a regular basis in the mid-2000s. EZ and Julio look like a legitimate dynamite tag team; while Masada has been dangerous and explosive, he and Nosawa have not shown nearly as much team work. Nosawa seems to be waiting in the wings for that hot tag… it might be spectacular.

I was almost right… he immediately throws down a shining wizard and doesn’t do much else. I was expecting a solid two minutes of blistering comeback. While the tag element begins to break down, the excitement ramps up. Masada gets absolutely plastered on the concrete outside of the ring by EZ Money, and Hot Commodity are able to use their multi-year history as a team to come out on top of the wily juniors.

THAT IS WHAT I WANT! I want wrestlers I haven’t seen before getting a chance against some hidden gems of Japan. A very fun match that leads me to believe I should seek out more of Masada, specifically. When I get a match like this on Underground alongside a solid main event, I am a happy boy.

While Joey does his usual episodic exposition, there is one moment that jumped out at me. Styles mentioned a Junior Heavyweight Championship Tournament, naming Fuego Guerrera (Amazing Red) specifically. If this is something we get to see on Underground television, then count me in. Another spectacular revelation is that we WILL be getting the MLW Championship match between Mike Awesome and Satoshi Kojima that has been promoted for weeks. You are winning me back, Underground… you are winning me back. However, this Kojima championship recap is eating up my Homicide time… wrap it up.

Christopher Daniels vs. Homicide

Christopher Daniels makes his entrance with Jerry Lynn on MLW Underground

Two of the most respected individuals in all of wrestling, Christopher Daniels and Homicide could not be any more different as far as individual characters. Both are a sort of Vito Corleone to wrestlers and wrestling fans alike; even more incredible, both men are just as active as ever. While Homicide is seven years younger than Daniels, he has probably seen more brutality throughout his years. I am honestly not all that familiar with the majority of Homicide’s career, but I do know that Eddie Kingston thinks of him as a god… I listen to Eddie Kingston. Daniels I am more familiar with; obviously his X Division matches are the stuff of legend, but his runs in ROH and AEW as a member of The Addiction and SCU are something to marvel at. Hitting Arabian moonsaults at fifty years of age with nearly thirty of those years being in the ring? Wow. Sure, he can’t move like he used to, but you know his mind is probably one of the most priceless assets backstage in AEW.

BUT, none of this matters because we have traveled back in time to the Underground! While there are only about six minutes remaining in this episode, I have to imagine these guys will pull out something interesting. I haven’t decided how I feel about the Fallen Angel gimmick of Daniels. I imagine the character development was far more significant in other promotions, and perhaps I should purchase Impact Plus in order to have a more fully formed opinion. After about thirty seconds of this match, I couldn’t care less.

Homicide is beating the absolute piss out of both Daniels and Jerry Lynn at ringside. He looks legitimately dangerous as he hits dead sprints across the ring. If I had never seen Homicide before this night and I was in that live crowd, I would have absolutely lost my mind. One would think that Homicide would be slower than Daniels at this point in wrestling history, but I’m not sure that’s true. Homicide is a far more phenomenal athlete than I ever knew. Homicide hits Daniels with an insane Mafia kick that looks like it could have easily knocked every tooth out of his head. I was shocked to see Homicide get the pin.

Very short match, but if I get to see more of the 2003 version of Homicide on my television, I don’t care if it is six minutes or sixty minutes… I just want more of that.

Final Thoughts

Joey Styles gives his thoughts in front of the MLW banner

This episode is much closer to what I want out of Underground; a couple of really quick and brutal matches showcasing talent that were not well known at the time. Once again, I can appreciate that MLW is probably still making money off of the Hybrid Hell DVDs, but I do feel as though it would be in their best interest to put those shows on YouTube for, at least, a limited amount of time. When ROH was unable to run this year’s Supercard of Honor, they instead aired the previous three year’s shows, including the G1 Supercard, for free. It seems to me that you would have more viewers (of all ages) potentially becoming more interested in the imminently returning product by doing something similar. And let’s be really honest, they are going to lose a significant amount of viewers in the move to Wednesdays on Fubo TV. I think it is safe to say AEW and NXT will probably beat them in the ratings, and nobody is going to buy DAZN specifically for MLW unless there is something specific that grabs their attention. That being said, we do get to see Mike Awesome and Satoshi Kojima battle it out for the title next week, so I will take that win.

Written by Andrew Stewart

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