It’s been two weeks since Filthy Island left us completely deflated, but with a short break, MLW Fusion has returned with hopefully a new focus. Certainly, the promotion has set up two big title fights for this episode. The tag team titles will be defended as Los Parks take on a tough challenge in the form of CONTRA’s Simon Gotch and Daivari. CONTRA will appear once again in the main event, as MLW Heavyweight Champion Jacob Fatu will take on InJustice’s Jordan Oliver in the main event. I’ve had my problems with the CONTRA/InJustice feud in the past, but I’m certainly intrigued by what this match might bring to the table.
The time for talk is over. Let’s head to the ring!
MLW Tag Team Champions Los Parks vs. Simon Gotch & Daivari
This was nicely and perhaps a little surprisingly heated from the start, as both teams got into each other’s faces before the bell rang, the ref having to say he’d throw the match if both teams didn’t settle down (a nice touch—I wish more refs would say that).
There was a nice mixture of brawling and submissions on display, with Daivari, in particular, working over the limbs of the Los Parks boys. The CONTRA boys were not shy of the brawl though as they met the gambit laid down with fists by the Los Parks boys. And while it wouldn’t be fair to say that the Parks boys brought the Lucha to the match, a stereo suicide dive to the outside was an impressive sight indeed, especially considering LA Park is no longer the slim young man of yore.
The champs tried to snatch victory using a method now familiar to viewers: having Salina de la Renta distract the ref whilst Park Jr rolls from under the ring and pulls Park Sr back under the ring, so as to use the advantage of the fresh man to land the killing blow and steal a win. This backfired at first for the champs; the ref saw the imposter Park and went to deal with him. This, however, allowed InJustice to come out and dismantle a CONTRA double-team manoeuver, allowing LA Park to nail Daivari with a spear for the win.
An enjoyable match, with a twist on the imposter trope. They need to stop doing that, though, before it wears thin.
Meanwhile, the Von Erich brothers want to host their own ‘Wrestle Island’ show, with Tom Lawlor vs. a Hammerhead shark being the feature attraction. Marshall, in particular, seems very excited about the idea of Tom Lawlor being chomped to bits, but he doesn’t want Lawlor to die so he would have to put the shark in the claw so he could let the mauled Lawlor go. Ok, then…
Parrow vs. Jason Dugan
Parrow has returned to MLW, and my word, is he a big guy! Dugan valiantly attacked before the bell, but it was to no effect. A nice fallaway slam into the buckles, a chokeslam, and a sit-down powerbomb he calls the ‘Murderbomb’.quickly sealed the deal. Afterward, Parrow made it clear he was sickened by what Mil Muertes did to Savio Vega and call him out for a match in the future. What with Muertes, Tankman, and now Parrow, it does look like MLW is getting behind the super-heavyweights. If the matches are good, it might help them to stick out from the pack more. We’ll just have to see.
Lawlor Fumes, Dao Challenges
We get a few segments now. An enraged Tom Lawlor cuts a promo blaming the Von Erichs for ruining Filthy Island. He then calls Low Ki ‘Low IQ’ for smashing Von Erich’s jeep window when they’re supposed to be his friends. Fair point! He dares any one of his rivals to face Kevin Ku.
Bu Ku Dao makes a short but sweet statement, stating that as TJP treated him as a bully would, why doesn’t TJP meet him one-on-one like a man? I imagine TJP is going to want Dao to prove himself first, but the build is underway for this one nicely.
Lastly, Jordan Oliver proclaims that Fatu can pound on him for as long as he likes; Oliver won’t be overcome. He will be the new MLW Heavyweight Champion. “That’s justice,” chips is Myron Reed. It remains to be seen…
Laredo Kid vs. Calvin Tankman
This is the first time we’ve seen Laredo Kid since he lost his AAA title to Lio Rush (does that make Lio a belt collector too, Kenny?), and he’s not going to get an easy ride with Tankman. Thankfully, Tankman didn’t squash Kid, as that wouldn’t have been smart booking considering Kid’s talents. On the other hand, I do have to question whether he really should have been able to Tankman over easily with a flying head scissors, considering Tankman’s size.
That size difference ultimately gave Tankman the win, shoulder tackling Kid literally halfway across the ring, whilst also power bombing him for a near-fall, and finally finishing up with the Tankman driver. Not a bad match at all, but certainly just there to showcase Tankman.
Still, it appears to be a good reason for that. Tankman speaks after to say how he’s got mouths to feed and that he knows with a title belt comes big money. He warns Jacob Fatu he can’t avoid him forever. Now, THAT’S a match I can get behind.
Alicia Despairs, Gino Derides
Meanwhile, Alicia Atout confronts Hammerstone and Richard Holliday about a rumor Salina de la Renta has started that Holliday is Alicia’s “toy boy.” I’m more amused that Alicia is upset about being associated with Holliday when the implication via the words “toy boy” is that Salina is calling Alicia old. Holliday denies starting the rumor, and Hammerstone says he’ll take care of Salina. Hammerstone teasing a clearly embarrassed Holliday about having a crush on Alicia was pretty cute, it must be said. Also, why is Hammer dressing more like a beach bum than dynastically nowadays? Sort him out, Richard!
We cut to Gino Medina, who says that his father was tagged as part of the Gringo Locos tag team and that Gringo Loco is insulting his family heritage as he is not even a real luchador. He threatens to show everyone the truth about Loco real soon. I like the reasoning behind the feud; simple and sensible. Let’s get them in the ring.
MLW Heavyweight Champion Jacob Fatu vs. Jordan Oliver
Ok, I didn’t think Oliver would win here, and he didn’t. But I also didn’t think this match would be that hot. I was happy to stand corrected. This was possibly the best Oliver has looked in a match, and I like how there was a story being told here: that Oliver was young and full of fury but may have gone out of his depth by fighting Fatu. Oliver even looked nervous when he got in the ring, which was a nice subtle touch that I appreciated. I also appreciated how he leapt out of the ring onto Fatu as the champ made his entrance, indicating that Oliver knew he would have to get the jump on Fatu if he stood a chance of winning.
A second dive onto Fatu outside the ring didn’t fare as well; Fatu caught Oliver in mid-air and nailed him with a Samoan drop on the floor in an impressive feat of strength and speed. From there, Oliver took a pounding, with only brief respites to show that he was still in the game. I did like Myron Reed grabbing Fatu’s leg whilst the ref was distracted so that Oliver could nail the champ with a superkick. It goes to show that although InJustice might be babyfaces now, they have not lost their street smarts and are certainly not above breaking the rules.
Near the end, Fatu tried to go up top to hit his patented moonsault but his knee was troubling him, giving Oliver time to get up and German suplex from the top! A stunner followed as Oliver started to build momentum and a springboard cutter hit the mark. However, when Oliver went for a second springboard cutter, Fatu was able to catch him and smash him down to the canvas with a hard Samoan drop. The top-rope moonsault followed for the 1-2-3. Credit where credit’s due: it was a good match, and Oliver came across in the best way.
Afterward, Daivari, Gotch, and the Death Squad all came down to the ring to give Myron Reed and Oliver a pounding. The Death Squad were just zipping up the body bags on the InJustice two when Calvin Tankman came running out and cleared the ring, even shoulder blocking Fatu out of the ring in a potentially star-making moment. It looked good…but why now? All the build is going towards the now-inevitable Fatu-Hammerstone confrontation, so why send Tankman down as the save-the-day hero? Why not build Tankman slower, so he faces the winner of Fatu-Hammerstone? Don’t get me wrong; I like Tankman. I’m just not quite sure yet if this won’t take away from the Fatu-Hammerstone feud.
This was the best episode of Fusion in several weeks. I feel part of the reason the show feels flat nowadays is how they use individual video promos to build feuds rather than through more organic means. Of course, the pacing and ratio of matches to promos throughout the show could do with a bit of a rejig to make it feel less bitty. The show delivered here with solid action and a main event I was actually invested in. There’s still work to do, but this was a good stepping stone to start from.
I’ll join you next week, grapple fans, for more hybrid action from MLW Fusion!