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Former NXT wrestler enters tournament to win 106-year-old Opera Cup trophy in MLW

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Recently released NXT wrestlers have started making the rounds now that they are free and clear to sign outside WWE. Jake Atlas and Taylor Rust competed in ROH at the Death Before Dishonor PPV. Alex Zayne won a world title shot at that same event. Mercedes Martinez will make an appearance for Impact’s all-women show. The latest acquisition sees a member of the Undisputed Era join MLW to compete for the 106-year old Opera Cup trophy.

That man is Bobby Fish.

Fish spoke with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated about his decision to compete for the Opera Cup.

“I’m ready to jump in headfirst into MLW, especially with the Opera Cup. I welcome this new challenge. I’m in a situation now where I have extra room for creativity with what you see in the ring. That’s what I’m here to push. MLW has some very talented athletes, and I’m excited to see how we mix it up.”

The Opera Cup is an 8-man tournament hosted by MLW. The trophy was originally introduced at the Manhattan Opera House in 1915. Stu Hart had been the final winner in 1948 until the Hart family donated the trophy to MLW for the contest to come back in 2019. Davey Boy Smith Jr. emerged victorious in the first Opera Cup tournament held in 51 years. Tom Lawlor won the second go-around under MLW’s watch and stands as the reigning cup holder.

The complete lineup for the 2021 version of the Opera Cup includes:

  • Tom Lawlor
  • Davey Richards
  • TJP
  • Calvin Tankman
  • Matt Cross
  • Bobby Fish
  • Lee Moriarty
  • Alex Shelley

The Opera Cup style is more in the mat technician mold. Lawlor, Richards, TJP, Fish, and Shelley have shown their fighting skills through the years. Moriarty is the young gun on the block looking to flex his Taigastyle. The outliers are Cross and Tankman. Cross is more of a high-flyer known to cruise the open road as Son of Havoc, while Tankman is a powerhouse threat.

Picking a winner is a tough call. I think Lawlor would be a smart bet for the finals. As defending conqueror, Lawlor has a chance to be in the conversation of greatest MLW wrestler. In addition to Lawlor’s Opera Cup success, he won the inaugural Battle Riot and held the MLW World Heavyweight Championship for 154 days. A second Opera Cup win makes his MLW résumé tough to top.

As for the favorite to match Lawlor in the final, the field is pretty even. I’d lean with Richards or Tankman. Both men could use the honor to cement their status within MLW.

The Opera Cup first round and semifinals are scheduled for MLW’s Fightland event on October 2 in Philadelphia. That show will be headlined by the epic title versus title heavyweight clash between Jacob Fatu and Alexander Hammerstone. The Opera Cup final is scheduled for November 6 in Philadelphia.

MLW returns from hiatus next week with Fusion Alpha on Wednesday, September 22. The program will be available on YouTube and later that Saturday on beIN SPORTS.

Who are you picking to win the Opera Cup? Which opening round matchups are you hoping to see? What is your dream final?