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MLW Fusion recap & reactions: Tom Lawlor is ready to make history as a denim god

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MLW Fusion kicked off the Opera Cup tournament in episode 111. Richard Holliday crashed TJP’s party, and Tom Lawlor took step one against Rocky Romero toward making history. Also, Salina de la Renta is back!

Let’s break it all down.

Earlier in the day, Richard Holliday passed by Gino Medina when entering the venue. Medina was on the phone and made a side comment about it smelling like an asshole. Holliday understood the Spanish insult and confronted Medina’s snide remark. They argued back and forth about whether Medina quit or was fired from the Dynasty. Medina threatened Holliday with an injury and replacing him in the Opera Cup.

Opera Cup opening round: Richard Holliday vs TJP

This bout was about TJP’s speed versus Holiday’s size. TJP would often be too quick to handle and take a position advantage, but Holliday would muscle out of the predicament. The first big move was a springboard dropkick by TJP down to the floor. Back in the ring, Holliday smartly leaned into the ropes to knock TJP off the turnbuckles. Tactics like that never allowed TJP to reach full momentum.

TJP tried to wear down Holliday with submissions. Whenever TJP left his feet, the result was not so hot. For example, Holliday caught a crossbody for a cradle side slam. In the end, TJP had momentum with a tornado DDT and a triple suplex train. He went high risk to miss a swanton. Holliday pounced for a spinebuster and his 2008 corkscrew neckbreaker finisher at 10:25.

The Von Erich family sent a Happy Thanksgiving message from Hawaii.

A nosy cameraman bust in on Lio Rush’s recording session. Rush positively responded to Myron Reed’s challenge. Rush was down for a big debut with a big title fight.

King Mo and Dan Lambert were annoyed that Low Ki was in the Opera Cup while Mo was not. Athletic commissions should not sanction Low Ki.

Salina de la Renta interrupted Rich Bocchini and Jared St. Laurent. She was furious that MLW would try to cancel her contract. If they don’t live up to their word on the contractually obligated executive produced episode on January 6, she will sue MLW and drop a bomb on everyone.

Calvin Tankman vs Robert Martyr

Tankman plowed through the competition in his MLW debut. All of Martyr’s feeble attempts at offense had no effect. Tankman finished it with a sitdown shoulderbreaker piledriver at 1:14.

Tankman is excited to finally make his debut. Now it is time to beat everyone in his path until he gets to the champ.

Alexander Hammerstone’s injury status included ribs contusion, hyperflexion of the neck, and transverse myelitis after Hammer was attacked last week by a monstrous Contra Unit goon. Hammerstone felt cheated about being kept on the sideline. His injuries won’t even keep him out of the gym. Hammerman issued threats to Contra.

Josef Samael hacked into the broadcast with a message for Hammerstone. Hammer put a target on his own back with the nickname, “The Contra Hunter.” The black hand of Contra dealt Hammerstone the death card.

Opera Cup opening round: Tom Lawlor vs Rocky Romero

Lawlor entered wearing cut-off jean shorts. When he removed the outerwear, his actual trunks had fake jean print. Dominic Garrini was by Lawlor’s side.

The contest was a chess match car crash with equal parts strategy and slobberknocking. Romero had the early momentum on an octopus stretch. Lawlor broke free for a reverse surfboard. Later, Lawlor escaped a guillotine choke with an exploder suplex. Romero rallied back for a tornado DDT.

A nifty sequence took place with an armbar from Romero into a rear naked choke from Lawlor into a Sliced Bread attempt off the turnbuckles from Romero. Lawlor was able to counter out, so Romero slapped him and blasted him with a high knee. That set up a running Sliced Bread.

The closing stanza began with an exchange of fisticuffs in the center of the ring as leg kicks led to palm strikes. Romero earned the upper hand by going low for a dropkick to the knee. Lawlor countered a Sliced Bread off the turnbuckles into a backslide. Romero kicked out, ducked a clothesline, then went for a roll-up. Romero tried to get fancy with a bridge, so Lawlor snatched his back for a rear naked choke attempt. As Romero fought it off, Lawlor transitioned into a sneaky pin to trap Romero on the mat for the three count at 17:43.

Lawlor expressed his dissatisfaction at being robbed at his chance to make history by not being included in last year’s Opera Cup. He just gave Romero a taste of what is to come for everybody else. Lawlor’s name will join George Hackenschmidt and Stu Hart as Opera Cup winners.

The broadcast closed with what seemed like news that Contra’s black hand will wrestle next week, but the feed was hijacked with Contra visual propaganda before Bocchini could finish the announcement.


The Opera Cup kicked off with two solid matches. Richard Holliday looked better in the ring than I remember so many months ago. He effectively used his size to make me believe he could be a legitimate tournament winner, as opposed to someone just getting the push.

The chemistry between Tom Lawlor and Rocky Romero was most impressive. Their shifty sequences felt completely natural and not manufactured for a spot. The finish was fire. Lawlor’s passionate victory speech has me convinced that he is going to claim the Opera Cup. I’m still riding with the defending champ Davey Boy Smith Jr., but I’ll be darned if I wouldn’t hedge my bets with Lawlor. He’s also becoming a fashion icon for denim aficionados. Lawlor’s fake jean trunks will no doubt become all the rage as underwear.

Calvin Tankman lived up to the hype in his squash match. With the way he was being described prior to his debut, I had a feeling Tankman would remind me of Willie Mack, and that he did with comparable body shapes and athleticism. I’m definitely interested in seeing what else Tankman has in his bag of tricks.

The bruja is back. Salina de la Renta is aces when storming the scene to scream and shout. One of these days, she’ll finally get comeuppance, and it will be glorious.

Share you thoughts on episode 111 of MLW Fusion. Which match stole the show?

MLW Fusion streams on Fubo Sports Network Wednesday nights at 7 pm ET and 10 pm ET, posts on YouTube Wednesdays at 7 pm ET, and airs on beIN SPORTS Saturday nights at 10 pm ET. You can also check out MLW streaming on demand with DAZN. In addition, MLW is broadcast in over 20 countries.