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MLW Fusion: Mance Warner & Sami Callihan steal the show, Brian Pillman Jr. one step closer to gold

MLW Fusion episode 58 graced us from the Melrose Ballroom in New York City. The feature bouts were Mance Warner & Sami Callihan in grudge tag action against Ricky Martinez & Hijo de LA Park, Daga vs Minoru Tanaka in strong style, and the National Openweight semi-final of Rich Swann vs Brian Pillman Jr.

On to a recap and review of the show...

The show opened with a sleek rundown of the matches. The presentation, music, and voice work set the mood right. I was already hyped, but that made me extra hyped.

Hijo de LA Park & Ricky Martinez vs Mance Warner & Sami Callihan

There were two promos during the entrances. The first was a funny conversation between Mance Warner and Sami Callihan. Callihan was sitting in a Bobcat utility vehicle. His issues with Promociones Dorado make him frustrated, and he likes to do yardwork to calm down. Warner offered a light beer to calm Callihan but reneged since it was his last light beer and already half-empty. Warner proposed that they hop on the Bobcat and ride down to the liquor store. Callihan told Warner to hop in then shouted, “Onward!”

The other promo was ambush style from a “Gringo pendejo” for Salina de la Renta. Low Ki’s contract status? Shut up. LA Park cashing in? Whenever the opportunity presents itself. Will they be at next week’s title match? No words from de la Renta; only a coy smile.

Let’s do this bout. Warner and Callihan stood on the entrance ramp to give each other a spit-filled handshake.


They rushed the ring to brawl. And brawl they did. The majority of the fight took place around the ring. Softer weapons were used, such as a cameraman’s camera wire, Red Bull can, floor mat, umbrella, and belt of Hijo de LA Park. Two moments stuck out to me. First was Callihan whacking Martinez and Hijo with the belt. Mancer got so excited that he wanted a whack to himself, so Callihan obliged. The other moment was Hijo with a running crossbody off the entrance ramp.

In the ring, Hijo shimmied his hips while standing over Warner, so Warner punched up directly at Hijo’s balls. Top moves include a brainbuster by Martinez and a frog splash by Hijo. For the finish, Callihan hit a piledriver on Martinez to win.

After the match, the foursome continued brawling despite protestations from the bell ringer person clanging away. The brawl spilled backstage into a hallway with empty catering trays. Papa Park came out of a doorway to swing the odds in favor of Promociones Dorado. With Callihan and Warner pummeled on the floor, Salina de la Renta said in Spanish to Callihan that when you play with fire, you get burned.

Rich Bocchini was claiming this was all a set-up. I’m not buying that idea. If so, it is an extremely convoluted plan for something as simple as Park making it 3-on-2.

Austin Aries’ video tease played again this week.

Daga vs Minoru Tanaka

This was a very fine bout. I’d guess it was a strong style clash, but I’m not going to pretend I know what strong style truly means. Strong style sounds like a hoss fight I watched on the WWE Network between Ted Arcidi and Big John Studd. I kid. I mean I know strong style refers to a Japanese style of wrestling, but I couldn’t tell you specifics.

Daga and Minoru Tanaka exchanged mat work, kicks, and submissions. Highlights include a suicide dive by Daga, a corkscrew plancha by Daga to the outside, and an Asai moonsault by Tanaka.

Daga also hit a sweet deadweight standing German suplex. For the finish, Daga delivered forearm blows to Tanaka’s face. Daga ran the ropes, but Tanaka surprised him with a kick to the head. Daga caught Tanaka’s foot on another kick, however, Tanaka transitioned into a cross armbreaker into a fancy roll-up pin to win. Tanaka fixed his hair before kipping up to celebrate.

Promo time

In an airport escalator promo, MJF talked smack about the Von Erichs signing. Everyone wants to talk about the Von Erich dynasty, but there is damn sure only one Dynasty in MLW. MJF doesn’t want to the hear the Von Erich name. That time has passed. The Dynasty’s time is just getting started.

The Contra Unit talked about Jacob Fatu dismantling the previously undefeated Barrington Hughes last week. Hughes became another sacrifice to the cause.

Tom Lawlor was in a podcast studio holding his passport. He’s traveled the world. His passport has been stamped by beautiful places and also absolute war zones. After dispatching England’s most dangerous man Jimmy Havoc, Lawlor has a new challenge in “Avalanche” Robert Dreissker from Germany. Lawlor researched avalanches. Avalanches fall apart and crumble at the top of the mountain due to its weight being too much. “That’s exactly what is going to happen next week here on MLW Fusion, because your world is going to crumble when you reach the top of the mountain.”

National Openweight semi-final: Rich Swann vs Brian Pillman Jr.

Myron Reed joined Rich Swann ringside. Both again wore the word Justice taped over their mouth. Reed had a picture in picture promo about not trusting anybody, even a biased ref in MLW. Reed has to be there to witness the homey Swann beating whoever it is he is going to beat.

Brian Pillman Jr. entered solo without any Hart Foundation backup. Ring announcer Tim “Candy” Barr happened to be walking by on the floor as Pillman took off his jacket. Pillman tossed his outerwear perfectly onto the head of Barr. I don’t know if that was planned. I prefer to think not, because it sure looked funny.

The winner of this bout will go on to face Alexander Hammerstone in the National Openweight Championship finals at Fury Road in Milwaukee on June 1.

One story of the fight was Reed cheating on Swann’s behalf. Reed would distract the referee on Pillman’s pin covers. Pillman got payback by dropkicking Reeed through the ropes.

Top highlights were a 450 back body drop by Pillman and a twisting flying crossbody by Pillman.

The other story was Swann becoming frustrated once again with referee Doug Markham. For the finish, Swann nailed Pillman with a DDT, but Pillman kicked out at two. Swann grabbed Markham by the shirt. Markham broke free then shoved Swann into the corner.

Reed hopped up on the apron to yell at Markham. Behind their backs, Pillman got a roll up into the ropes knocking Reed down.

Markham slapped the mat one, two, three in Pillman’s favor. I could see an argument for the count being a little too fast.

Alexander Hammerstone with Kaci Lennox

Hammerstone cut a backstage promo on his thoughts of facing Pillman in the finals. Hammerstone has 5 to 6 inches and a 50 to 60 pound weight advantage on Pillman. Hammerstone laughed at Pillman’s magical genetics. “News flash, Brian. Just because your father is a great wrestler, that does not mean that you are.” Hammerstone is the one with a genetic advantage. It is as if God himself created Hammerstone just to win the National Openweight Championship. “I can assure you. On that day, Brian, you will not make your father proud.”

Hot damn. Episode 58 of MLW Fusion delivered the goods. Last week felt a little low. Not so, this week.

Mance Warner and Sami Callihan stole the show. Their promo on the Bobcat was a hoot. I don’t know how long MLW plans on keeping them together, but I’d love see an H2tv style show for Warner and Callihan. Even if they only discuss different methods for going to the liquor store to buy light beer, I’d be pleased. If the light beer buying suggestions get too wild, MLW might have to put a disclaimer of, “Don’t try this at home.”

The chemistry of Warner and Callihan together is a draw. Not a lot of exciting wrestling happened in their tag team match, but that didn’t matter. Their chaotic style was captivating enough.

Daga vs Minoru Tanaka was a super solid bout. On the lucha libre beat, I constantly see cool high-flying. This bout was a splendid change of pace. It was more a gritty close quarters style in comparison. As for the victor, it is too bad Daga lost since he also recently lost to Low Ki. However, Tanaka is a challenger I really want to see for Tom Lawlor’s world tour defending the MLW Heavyweight Championship.

Rich Swann vs Brian Pillman Jr. was okay. I would have preferred more of a focused contest rather than referee mischief. My preference is clean finishes for high stakes bouts. It looks more impressive to build up the resume. That said, the finish worked well. Referee Doug Markham shoving Swann was comical.

I was already interested in Alexander Hammerstone against Brian Pillman Jr. in the National Openweight finals due to the feud between the Dynasty and the Hart Foundation. Hammerstone’s promo at the end made me sold. That last line about how Pillman is not going to make his father proud was cold. Will there be anyone on Earth rooting for Hammerstone to win? With how heels always have a varying level of fan support, that I have to seriously ask is evidence to how well MLW has positioned these two.

Which match was your favorite from episode 58 of MLW Fusion? What was your favorite moment? Have you ever drove a Bobcat to buy light beer at the liquor store? What is the craziest vehicle you have driven to the liquor store? Do donkeys count as vehicles?

MLW Fusion airs on beIN SPORTS Saturday nights at 9 pm ET / 6 pm PT. New episodes are posted on YouTube Mondays at 7 pm ET. Fusion is also broadcast in the UK, Ireland, and Israel.

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