Filthy Island Fails To Thrill On Fusion

MLW Fusion Review: February 17th 2021

After several weeks of hype and sponsors dropping out in droves, Filthy Island is finally upon us. The Fyre Festival-parodying event should be fun, if quite unlike what we’re used to from MLW. The opening segment, where Tom Lawlor advises Dominic Garrini that the spam (?!) for catering is not being released from the dock and so Dominic will need to go down there and do something that will require him to use mouth wash after (those who have seen the Fyre Festival documentary will get the reference), sets the tone from the jump, as does Filthy Tom’s greeting to the show with a confused looking Dan Lambert and a table full of spam.

That’s not a lot I can really add to that, so let’s head to the island and let them ring the bell!

Why spam?!?

Dominic Garrini vs. Mauna Loa

It’s so obvious that this is being filmed in somebody’s back yard. That’s the joke, of course, that Filthy Tom is ripping people off by presenting Filthy Island as this glamorous event and then trying to pass off a back yard as Hawaii. I’ve seen some complaints online about this, that MLW shouldn’t be doing this, but I quite appreciate the joke in and of itself. What’s really going to matter is whether the matches are any good. So Kevin Ku playing the entrance music on a ghetto blaster, and people sitting on a couch watching doesn’t bother me as much as perhaps it should.

On the other hand, getting someone to dress up in Hawaiian gear with splashes of black face paint, pretending to be the 14-time Pacific champion, to wrestle in the first match is a rubbish idea. As is Garrini trying to bribe him with spam. The matches themselves shouldn’t be a joke, which this was by lasting only 39 seconds as Garrini choked Loa out.

Mercifully, it was only short. Thank God.

“Many Muscles But Little Intelligence”

We go over to Los Parks, somewhere in Mexico. They tell CONTRA that when they wrestle on March 3rd, it is not going to be easy for them. LA Park wants all the gold in MLW, as the Heavyweight title would make a nice gift to their new boss, the mysterious new owner of Promociones Dorado. This prompts Park’s son to ask why he doesn’t go for Hammerstone’s National Openweight title as well, prompting Park to hillariously call Hammer a man with “many muscles but little intelligence.” I’m saying I agree, but I appreciated the quality of the insult!

LA Park puts the challenge out to Hammerstone. Now, that’s an interesting proposition. If MLW follows up on that, then we’ll got a big hoss fight on our hands. Not that Hammerstone has responded yet, he was busy with Richard Holliday on the island expressing his disappointment at Hawaii. He looks quite well for a man who was supposedly injured by Mads Krugger two weeks ago.

Speaking of the new boss of Promociones Dorado, we also get a short advert pop up on the screen: “Opportunities Abound For Believers.”.

If all this is just a Lucha Underground tease, people are going to be p****d. Please, let this be the start of a LU revival. Please don’t mess this up.

Kevin Ku vs. Zenshi

Zenshi made a grand entrance for Filthy Island by hitting a spinning dive onto Ku from a tree overhanging the ring in a brilliant moment. I’ve never seen a wrestling dive from a tree before! That’s new.

Zenshi used his speed early on but Ku cut him off by dropping him on the apron. Zenshi returned fire by hanging off one of the ring posts and kicking Ku out of the way. Ku countered another kick with a lovely martial arts roll and then attempted to twist the leg for a submission. A Boston crab followed but Zenshi was able to turn it into a roll up for a two count.

Ku showed his derision for his opponent by kicking him in the back and chopping him, all the while taking his time. Zenshi began to build up a little flurry of offense and used a headbutt to buy himself some breathing space. Ku responded by throwing Zenshi into the ring post. Zenshi fought back but a dragon suplex with a bridge was enough for Ku to get the victory.

Not a bad match for what it was. Was it mind blowing? No. But it was fun and sometimes that’s all you need.

The Von Erichs cut a promo afterwards where they decide to crash the Filthy Island party. Lawlor responds by threatening to have them arrested for trespassing. Lawlor is killing it on commetary, it must be said.

Aztec Jungle Fight: Savio Vega vs. Mil Muertes

From Filthy Island, we cut to Chichen Itza, Mexico, as a camera and a torch light pokes around in the jungle in the night. Rich Bocchini and St. Laurent are on commentary for this event. St. Laurent points out that Salina de la Renta has handed him a note from the new owner and signed ‘El Jefe’ saying that blood will pour on the Aztec temples tonight for the believers. Salina de la Renta is standing waiting with the ref when Savio Vega appears and the two appear, trading furious words in Spanish. Mil Muertes puts an end to that though by attacking Vega from behind.

This is similar to the Baklei Brawl of a couple of weeks back. Two men fighting in the dark as a shaky camera films it all, except we’re in the jungle now. Even worse, we get 30 seconds of fighting before the camera cuts out? What the hell?

In fairness, the camera feed did kick back in later after another match and we got another couple of minutes of kick-punch action. Savio then grabbed a crow bar but Muertes was able to wrestle it off him and smack Vega in the head with it for the win.

Salina then told Muertes to finish things, which led to Muertes begin to dig a grave in the jungle. Probably best not to do that on camera. Blood might be spilling on the temple, but a video of you burying someone alive on video won’t look good in a court of law.

TJP Has No Respect for Dao

‘The Interview Queen’ Alicia Atout has got TJP on a Zoom call to ask him why he reacted as harshly as he did to Bu Ku Dao when they lost to Los Parks a couple of weeks back. I quite like how Alicia kept pushing at TJP as he subtly gave clues as to his superiority complex; he’s got nothing left to prove in the Cruiserweight division; his trophy cabinet is something others can only dream of. He talked about how he wants to help others become the best but Bu Ku Dao just doesn’t have that winning drive and so he can’t teach Dao more than he already has. It’s up to Dao to win. As Alicia kept pushing, TJP got nastier, picking on Dao’s height before acting the diva and ending the segment.

Very well done.That’s how you make a heel.

Gringo Loco vs. Rocky Romero

Look, I like Gringo and I love Rocky, but this match just didn’t really go anywhere. It was just sort of there. It seemed to exist just so Rocky could give his jacket to one of the ‘fans’ at ringside and Gringo could be caught out by a lack of ropes to bounce off. I did like Rocky’s hurricarana to the outside and Gringo’s dive onto Rocky on the couch at ringside, but two good spots do not a good match make.

The end was quite nice, as Rocky nailed some fluid take downs before using the ring post to aid a big tornado DDT to take the win. But otherwise, the match just fell flat. A shame, as both competitors here are extremely talented.

Afterwards, Tom Lawlor tried to convince Alex Hammerstone and Richard Holliday to invest in Filthy Island. I have to admit, this segment was gold. Holliday’s disgust at the surroundings and the smell of spam made me laugh, as did Lawlor drinking the dregs from a used Starbucks cup on the ground and opening the can of spam with his teeth. Hammerstone, meanwhile, seemed quite at home and partial to any spam that might come with the investment deal.

I can’t believe I’ve just written that.

Low Ki vs. King Mo

One problem with Fusion lately has been the short amount of time given to main events and eight minutes left on the clock here, it looked like we would be treated to the same here at Filthy Island.

Ki went straight after Mo showing some great heat. Mo caught the leg and began working it over with leg submissions and viciously slamming Ki’s leg against the mat. Ki managed to get a choke in and…what? The fight is over in a minute and a half? Lawlor and Lambert went mad on commentary, stating that Mo was reaching for the ropes (there were no ropes). Team Filthy ganged up on Ki, stomping a mudhole into him. Only for a moment though. A truck pulled up and out leapt the Von Erichs to even the score. While I enjoyed the ensuing brawl, with Low Ki throwing Lawlor onto the truck, smashing the windscreen, I couldn’t help feel short-changed. Was that really all we were getting for the main event?

Final Thoughts

Regular readers will know that I’ve felt Fusion has been flat since the restart, but this wasn’t flat and it still didn’t work. It was a good idea in fairness. It played well into Lawlor’s character and the comedy segments that featured him were very funny.

The problem was that this concept stretched over a whole show felt a little like a joke that wore thin through repetition. The actual matches themselves were pretty poor outside of Ku and Zenshi, and for the main event, why promote something like a big grudge rematch that people really wanted to see, only to have the match last a minute and a half?

MLW Fusion returns on March 3rd. I hope MLW rethinks their approach in the meantime, because a show that used to have such a buzz around it is becoming a real shadow of itself and I think it’s a damn shame.

Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments!

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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