Since the relaunch of their flagship show Fusion in November, MLW has been a curious proposition. When even the ‘Wrestling Snob’ Adam Leavelle, a known MLW superfan, is (constructively) criticising your show, then you know something must be up. In all honesty, the show has felt a little flat at times. It’s understandable with performer’s concerns about COVID that a lot of the promos and storytelling is being done through video segments that are obviously filmed at different locations. The problem, though, is that it doesn’t offer a particularly dynamic edge to the show. Look at how ROH have used pre-recorded interviews before matches to enhance the sporting feel of the show. It really works to help the show stand up and elevate it from a basic empty arena show. MLW feels like it is lacking a little in the innovation stakes.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been great matches. I’ve particularly enjoyed Tom Lawlor and Rocky Romero, ACH’s battle with Laredo Kid, and Richard Holliday defeating TJP in an entertaining encounter. The talent and the matches are there. They just need the stories around them to be made to shine.
So, with all that being said, let’s head to the ring!
Before we can get to the ring, though, the CONTRA logo interrupts the opening credits—a novel idea—and Josef Samuel kicks into a generic promo by his standards. Saying that, even a generic Samuel promo is better and more passionate than a lot of other people’s, but there was nothing majorly distinctive to take from it; CONTRA are recruiting soldiers and InJustice are going to pay. Cue the rest of the credits and away we go.
An inessential opening—not ideal when you’re trying to draw in those Wednesday night viewers…
AAA Cruiserweight Champion Laredo Kid vs. Zenshi
Laredo Kid is someone who’s appearances in Fusion I’ve been enjoying, so this should be good.
And good it indeed was. The early part of the match saw Zenshi use his speed to be able to slip out of the way of danger as well as put the hurt on Laredo Kid. This worked until the Kid was able to use some speed and evasion of his own, managing to land on his feet on the outside after missing a moonsault, and instead rocking Zenshi with a Michinoku driver on the floor. Ouch!
Both men showed their aerial ability as the pace picked up. It must be said, the shooting star press seemed to be used as a bit of a transition move at points, the amount of times it was used. It was pretty interesting, however, to see Zenshi hit a snap here off the top turnbuckle—that’s a new one on me.
Just as the match seemed like it was about to really switch gears, the end came out of nowhere with Laredo Kid landing a Spanish fly from the top out of nowhere for the 1-2-3. A shame that, because it was a good start but it felt like it was just going to start taking things to the next level.
Afterwards, Laredo Kid cut a promo backstage where he said he wants to be a double belt holder and wants Lio Rush’s Middleweight title. Can a grappler legitimately hold two titles that are each from a different weight class? Apparently so here. Saying that though, Laredo Kid and Lio Rush would be a great match to see.
We get a few different promo videos now, starting with Myron Reed, who thanks CONTRA for sparking off the evolution of Myron—now they’re going to go to war! Myron’s a great speaker, he really gets passion across in his promos. I’m still not sure I buy him as a face but I’m intrigued to see where this goes, as I can’t see CONTRA putting InJustice over.
Over on Kauai, Kevin Von Erich is working his boys hard and telling them to “don’t let up”. Ross seems a bit subdued, Marshall animated. Natural promo men they are not, but you can’t help but like them.
The LA Park family are dismissive of the “bunch of idiots” Violence Is Forever, bizarrely have a go at “hairless Thai boys” and proclaim themselves “the most famous family and champions in the world. “ I was only dad they weren’t cooking as well…
Gino Medina pulls up the arena to say he will be watching tonight’s. main event and Richard Holliday getting “cracked with the whip”. He means strap, of course, but it makes me realise how surprised I am that Vince has never booked a whip match. Thank God he hasn’t.
Mads Krügger says Hammerstone is on borrowed time until next week’s bareknuckle ‘Baklei Brawl’ next week. Mads puts over the fact that he’s fought in these brawls before back in South Africa, but what are they? Apart from reference to a nightmare for Hammerstone, how are we supposed to care about the stakes of this match? Could we not have seen some clips of these fights, forged or otherwise?
Last but not least, Tom Lawlor denied that he or any of Team Filthy were involved in injuring ACH, although he did manage to casually drop in the fact that maybe ACH wasn’t ready for Fatu and if they’d just gone to the Opera Cup winner instead…brilliant. I do hope Filthy Tom gets back in the title picture at some point. Lawlor’s just got the ‘It’ factor, 100 per cent.
Violence Is Forever (Dominic Garrini & Kevin Ku) vs. TJP & Bu Ku Dao
Who has the best mullet in MLW, Dominic Garrini or Brian Pillman Jr? That easy—it’s Garrini; Pillman Jr is pretty much an alumni at this point.
This was a solid match. Garrini and Ku work well as a team and mix up a hard-hitting MMA style with good old fashioned double teaming, such as getting Dao choked out in the corner whilst the ref was distracted with TJP trying to interject himself. Speaking of TJP, he looked crisp here and used his speed to run circles around the heels and attempt to lock Garrini in the octopus stretch.
If there was a weak point here, it was Bu Ku Dao. More often than not he seemed uncertain and was not always able to execute his offence to real affect. Case in point: the finish of the match saw Dao hit Ku with a bulldog off the top, allowing TJP to follow with frog splash for Dao to get the cover and the win. I say it was a bulldog; it was so clumsily done, I’m not actually sure what it was meant to be. A shame, because there were some good moments here. Luckily for us, violence is forever…
Post -match, King Mo put out a ‘sincere’ message that he’s concerned about Low Ki’s damage to his head—he saw Ki spelling his name backwards on an autograph he was signing—and wants MLW to ban Ki from wrestling before he does in the ring, especially if he gets in the ring with Mo. I do hope Ki shows up in the background of one of these promos one week and chokes Mo out in a sneak attack. Then we’ll see what argument the king resorts to—hopefully one made with his fists!
Caribbean Strap Match: Carribbean Champion Richard Holliday vs. Savio Vega
This was, in theory, the culmination of a feud that has been going on for months. Holliday cheated Savio Vega out of the Caribbean title, Savio Vega disputed Holliday’s claim to the belt and here we are, months later, finally looking to settle things.
First things first, this was the main event and yet was the shortest match on the card. That can work sometimes, but for a big feud-settling match like this? It deserved more time. Not only that, but considering how heated the feud had gotten, there was a distinct lack of heat in that bloodless ring. It’s not like MLW is shy of sharing the crimson in a feud-ending encounter—I’m thinking Mance Warner against both Sami Callihan and MJF—so why did the strap feel so under–utilised? You’d expect Savio Vega to give Holliday a damn thrashing but it really didn’t happen.
The ending came when the ref refused to move to let Savio Vega touch the fourth turnbuckle, allowing Holliday to sneak in and hit his fourth buckle and take the championship. The post-match interview made it clear through its denials that there had been collusion between the ref and Holliday. Savio Vega chased them off, suggesting that this feud is far from over. With that being the case, and David having been cheated twice now, I hope the heat is burning for their next encounter. Richard Holliday has really come into his own since MJF has left MLW and he really has major star potential; I want to see him have that big match that will put him over the edge. This, unfortunately, wasn’t it.