Are you ready to RIOT?!?!
MLW returned with fresh shows for the Battle Riot IV match streaming free on Pro Wrestling TV (here). The contest is the equivalent to the Royal Rumble. Rules dictate 40 competitors arriving in 60-second intervals. Eliminations are pinfall, submission, or over the top. No disqualification, so anything goes. The winner earns a world title shot anytime, anywhere.
Let’s break it on down.
Battle Riot pre-match excitement
Rich Bocchini and Joe Dombrowski welcomed viewers to the program. Backstage with interviewer Sam Leterna, tag team champions Calvin Tankman and EJ Nduka picked their numbers from a gold tumbler. Neither wanted to share their spot with the other. Leterna was great with facial expressions of curiosity and nosiness trying to peak. Little details such as the tumbler are touches to make the match feel special.
Cesar Duran (alias Dario Cueto) arrived as MLW matchmaker. Just seeing our homeboy on screen added instant pumpitude of excitement for the festivities. Duran booked an impromptu match for Alexander Hammerstone to defend the MLW World Heavyweight Championship against an Azteca goon. Hammerstone made quick work of the masked man for an easy victory. Boom! Richard Holliday attacked his former Dynasty bro from behind with a chair to the spine. Holliday tenderized Hammer’s ribs and left him bleeding from the mouth with internal injuries. Holliday shared a smooch session with squeeze Alicia Atout.
A vignette aired showing Mads Krugger’s mysterious recovery from the Weapons of Mass Destruction fight with Jacob Fatu. Krugger’s mission doesn’t end until his target (Fatu) is eliminated. I could be mistaken, but it sure looked like Prince Nana (ROH & AEW) was in that scene.
Myron Reed and Alex Kane picked their numbers from the tumbler. Kane distracted the referee, so Reed could keep picking until he grabbed a number he liked. Reed repaid the favor for Kane to do the same.
Battle Riot notable moments
With a bout containing 40 participants, let’s hit the important moments and surprises before getting to the finish.
Tim Barr hyped the Battle Riot with his golden pipes. Count me as a fan of Barr’s booming voice.
It turned out that Nduka and Tankman were #1 and #2 to enter the contest. The tag champs tentatively squared up. Tankman grabbed a waistlock, but Nduka escaped for a stalemate. Mr. Thomas was #3, and the champs teamed up on him. After a few more wrestlers entered, Tankman and Thomas were throwing punches on the apron. Nduka ran over for a double clothesline to eliminate both. Tankman was not happy with his partner. As Nduka reached down over the ropes for a handshake of peace, Arez and Lince Dorado hit a double dropkick to send Nduka over the top. Nduka and Tankman were both prime candidates to win, and they were both eliminated early.
Surprises included Kim Chee (handler of Kamala), Sami Callihan from Impact, Kwang (Savio Vega under the mask), Homicide, Rickey Shane Page with a trashcan of plunder, Mance Warner, Taya Valkyrie making history as the first women to compete in the Battle Riot, and Parker Boudreaux at #40.
Kim Chee was comically eliminated when he tapped out in a five-man submission. Kwang spit green mist at Budd Heavy. RSP had a moment eliminating KC Navarro. Page was on the apron when Navarro leaped over the ropes trying for a hurricanrana. Page caught Navarro and countered for a powerbomb through a table. When it was Taya’s turn, she ran in with fury to spear Callihan. Viva La Wera Loca!
Taya didn’t last long. Bourdeaux came in as a wrecking ball and smashed Taya out of the ring.
As for Callihan, I suspect he was part of an exchange for when Davey Richards wrestled in Impact at Slammiversary this year. Callihan returned to MLW for his first time back since 2019 when he lost a loser leaves town match against Warner. When Warner entered, it was like their feud never cooled. Warner and Callihan poked eyes and gouged sockets. Callihan had the weirdest moment of the evening when he goozled Little Guido’s crotch then smelled his own fingers in satisfaction.
The best moment was 400+ pound Juicy Finau landing a flying splash. Upon impact to the mat, everyone in the ring fell down from the tremors.
The best call on commentary was from Joe Dombrowski upon arrival of Warhorse. Dombrowski wondered about Warhorse, “Can he possibly rule enough asses to win Battle Riot?”
The standout performances came from Microman, Killer Kross, and NZO. Microman rocked the ring with lucha libre theatrics. The Battle Riot was filmed back in June, so that explains Kross’ appearance while currently signed to WWE. Both Kross and NZO were the ironmen of longevity for the bout. Kross was indeed a killer not backing down from anyone and slamming fools with anger. For example, Guido gave the fanculo motion to Kross, so Killer lifted the Italian over the ropes for a hanging cutter. Kross also went toe-to-toe with Boudreax without fear and had a hand in eliminating baby Brock Lesnar. NZO was a schemer constantly rolling out of the ring to pick his spots of attack. He racked up a few eliminations that way. The most impactful was kicking Microman off the apron. Instant heel heat erupted with boos showering down.
Battle Riot nitty-gritty
40 wrestlers entered, 1 would remain. The nitty-gritty came down to Mads Krugger, Mance Warner, Sami Callihan Parker Boudreaux, Killer Kross, Jacob Fatu, and NZO. Warner was goozled on the apron by Krugger. Warner poked the monster in the eyes, so Krugger clobbered Warner down for an elimination. Krugger’s vision was impaired due to the eye poke. That allowed Fatu to dump the mercenary from behind over the ropes for an elimination. Callihan and Kross worked together to toss Boudreaux.
Callihan, Kross, Fatu, and NZO were the final four. Callihan tossed NZO over the ropes, but Real1 skinned the cat for a headscissors on Callihan. Both were on the apron throwing blows. Punch by NZO, headbutt by Callihan, punch by NZO, low blow kick by Callihan. As Callihan worked the crowd for a ‘thumbs up, thumbs down’ piledriver, Fatu superkicked Callihan down to the floor for an elimination.
Kross and NZO teamed up on Fatu. When NZO ate a foot to the face from Fatu, Kross tried to dump Fatu. NZO ran over from behind to flip Kross over the ropes. Nope. Kross was still standing on the apron and glared a death stare to NZO. Kross hit a Pedigree on Real1. As Kross worked up the crowd, Fatu tossed him out.
Down to Fatu and NZO to determine who won the world title shot. Kross manhandled a referee out of frustration. While the officiating crew corralled Kross, NZO charged at Fatu. The Samoan Werewolf dodged, and NZO crashed into the referee. Fatu dumped NZO out of the ring, but no referees saw it. NZO returned to the ring for Eat Defeat on Fatu. Real1 tossed Fatu over the top, but Fatu hung on to be saved by the ring steps. I guess technically that meant he was safe, but it didn’t matter anyway since the referees never saw that moment either. NZO thought he won, but Fatu came from behind for an ejection to win Battle Riot IV.
Fatu celebrated with the Samoan Swat Team. He cut a promo about hard work and sacrifice then dedicated the victory to his kids.
Battle Riot IV was tons of fun. The Royal Rumble concept is always a delight, and this one did not disappoint. Even though 60-second intervals are a sprint, the flow never felt rushed. The layout was effective in maintaining interest throughout. The match started with a story between Nduka and Tankman, then it transitioned to lucha libre style with Microman running wild. The contest progressed with interesting surprises and big-time players with plenty of oohs and aahs. Comedy bits brought smiles, such as the submission train on Kim Chee. The flying splash from Juicy tore the roof off as a larger then life moment. Aggressiveness picked up when it was time to get serious, such as Kross, Taya, and Boudreaux with a point to prove. The finish was memorable with Fatu outsmarting NZO for victory.
One aspect I enjoyed was how different personalities were evident in the action. For example, NZO is a schemer and wrestled that way by sneaking around the outside spying advantageous situations. Kross was a killer taking no guff from anyone. Taya was loca. Kwang, Vega, RSP, Warner, and Callihan all used signature tactics.
Fatu is a strong selection as winner for MLW to set up a monster rematch with Hammerstone for the world title. It will be interesting to see how fans react to their interactions. Last time, Fatu was 100% bad guy in Contra. Now, he’s made a turn as a fan favorite. MLW’s two biggest stars are on a collision course, and I can’t wait to see them smash.
The order of entrance for Battle Riot IV included: 1. EJ Nduka, 2. Calvin Tankman, 3. Mr. Thomas, 4. Lince Dorado, 5. Arez, 6. Microman, 7. Mini Abismo Negro, 8. La Estrella from Dragon Gate, 9. KC Navarro, 10. Kim Chee, 11. Joel Maximo, 12. Killer Kross, 13. Sami Callihan, 14. NZO, 15. Gangrel, 16. Kwang, 17. Budd Heavy, 18. Little Guido, 19. Jose Maximo, 20. Davey Richards, 21. Lance Anoa’i, 22. Ken Broadway, 23. Homicide, 24. Rickey Shane Page, 25. Juicy Finau, 26. Azteca #80 (Duran henchman), 27. Dr. Dax, 28. Jacob Fatu, 29. Mads Krugger, 30. Will Maximo, 31. Warhorse, 32. Myron Reed, 33. Azteca #33, 34. Azteca #22, 35. Matt Cross, 36. Mance Warner, 37. Alex Kane, 38. Savio Vega, 39. Taya Valkyrie, 40. Parker Boudreaux.
The order of elimination for Battle Riot IV was:
1 & 2. Mr. Thomas and Calvin Tankman by EJ Nduka
3. EJ Nduka by Lince Dorado and Arez
4. Kim Chee by Microman, Lince Dorado, Arez, KC Navarro, and Joel Maximo
5. Joel Maximo by Killer Kross
6. Arez by Killer Kross
7. Mini Abismo Negro by Sami Callihan
8. Microman by NZO
9. La Estrella by Sami Callihan
10. Budd Heavy by NZO
11. Kwang by Killer Kross
12. Gangrel by Sami Callihan
13. Lince Dorado by Killer Kross
14. Jose Maximo by Homicide
15. Little Guido by Davey Richards
16. Ken Broadway by Sami Callihan
17. Homicide by Lance Anoa’i
18. Azteca #80 by Juicy Finau
19. Lance Anoa’i by NZO
20. KC Navarro by Rickey Shane Page
21. Dr. Dax by Jacob Fatu
22. Will Maximo by Mads Krugger
23. Azteca #33 by Jacob Fatu
24. Juicy Finau by Rickey Shane Page, Mads Krugger, Sami Callihan, and NZO
25. Azteca #22 by Jacob Fatu
26. Matt Cross by Jacob Fatu
27. Warhorse by Mads Krugger
28. Rickey Shane Page by Mads Krugger
29. Myron Reed by technically Alex Kane when shoved by Davey Richards
30. Alex Kane by Davey Richards
31. Savio Vega by NZO
32. Taya Valkyrie by Parker Boudreaux
33. Davey Richards by Sami Callihan and NZO
34. Mance Warner by Mads Krugger
35. Mads Krugger by Jacob Fatu
36. Parker Boudreaux by Killer Kross and Sami Callihan
37. Sami Callihan by Jacob Fatu
38. Killer Kross by Jacob Fatu
39. NZO by Jacob Fatu
Winner: Jacob Fatu
Share your reactions to MLW Battle Riot IV.