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MLW is a promotion worth keeping an eye on

Major League Wrestling (MLW) began as a promotion in 2002, but they would close up shop in 2004. Their reputation was an, “Imitation of ECW and later Ring of Honor.” Talent featured names such as Sabu, Terry Funk, Shane Douglas, and Steve Corino.

Fast forward to 2017, MLW came back for a second go around. MLW first blipped on my radar when Sermon on the Mat mentioned Kevin Sullivan participating in Battle Riot. See, using legends actually does work for piquing interest. I’ve only heard positive things since then.

The roster includes familiar names; Tony Schiavone, Colonel Rob Parker, Sami Callihan, Teddy Hart, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Brian Pillman Jr., LA Park and son, Joey Ryan, PCO (Carl Ouellet), Shane Strickland (aka Killshot), and others. The current champs are Low Ki (Heavyweight), Fenix and Pentagon (Tag Team), and Maxwell Jacob Friedman (Middleweight).

Now that season four of Lucha Underground has finished, it is time to see what MLW has to offer. Let’s dive in to Episode 31...

The show emanated from Cicero Stadium in Chicago.

Opening introduction

The images are of Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Sabu, and others I don’t recognize. That must have been from their first stint in 2002. The images transitioned into current times with MVP and Low Ki holding the World Heavyweight Championship. Most of the action looked of the extreme nature.

That was a nice intro package. The music has an epic vibe, and the images show a good representation of what to expect.

Highlights from last week’s main event of Low Ki vs Daga were shown. The ring looks smaller in dimensions. That was the bout where Low Ki tore Daga’s ear. Oh, hey there. They showed the tweet of Cageside Seats’ story about that feud. I’m not going to lie. That was pretty cool and caught me off-guard.

Konnan & Promociones Dorado stairway scene

Konnan was greeted by Low Ki, Salina De La Renta, and Ricky Martinez upon entrance. Low Ki looked smooth in a black vest and red tie, similar to the Hitman video game character. Low Ki began talking smack to Konnan. Daga’s ear, Fenix’s mask, Shane Strickland’s pride all look good in his trophy case. Low Ki is looking to add more, such as something from head honcho Konnan.

Konnan was warned to stay out of Promociones Dorado’s business. Low Ki said, “This is a new era. This is a new age. You and I, we are not the men we once were. We’re more sophisticated, so we handle our disputes more, well, like men. ... I’m going to give you a chance to redeem yourself for your past mistakes by handling this unfortunate incident like men. You and I, one-on-one, mano a mano.”

Konnan replied by brushing off the challenge. “You know full well that if you really wanted some smoke, you would have pulled this ten years ago. Not now when I don’t train and I don’t wrestle. Okay? So, no.”

Salina De La Renta called Konnan an old ass little bitch. Konnan returned the name calling. “Keep yapping and you just might get what you want.” Konnan left toward the locker room.

That was an intriguing way to start the show. I didn’t know what the feud was all about, and they explained enough of it so that I’m clued in. The segment was simple and to the point with touches of spunk for greater effectiveness.

I really enjoyed Low Ki’s promo. He came across like a true evil villain. His voice and cadence made me feel like I was watching a comic book movie.

A second intro video rolled on screen. It showed neat moves with words here and there. Brawling. Hybrid. Strong style. Technical wrestling. Lucha libre.

Tom Lawlor had a pre-taped promo from earlier that day. He was outside by a fence with barbwire on top. Lawlor had a message for Low Ki and Sami Callihan. Chumps. They thought they got one up on him? Nope. Not even close. Lawlor can smell Low Ki’s fear and see it in his eyes. He proceeded to threaten Callihan for their Chicago street fight main event. “If I have to, I’m going to take that baseball bat you love so much and I’m going to shove it right up your ass.”

Ricky Martinez squashed Doctor Rex Bacchus

Ricky Martinez was accompanied by Salina De La Renta. She has that hip shaking strut down cold. Martinez wore a face protection mask from a broken nose. Imagine the ones that basketball players use. He had jamming theme music. It reminded me of a funky Shaft beat with Latin horns mixing it up. I could get in the groove with that song.

Doctor Rex Bacchus is from Muscle Beach, CA. He must have forgotten his muscles at home. Bacchus looked like a dirty hippie string bean. I didn’t catch any mention of which field of specialty the doctor earned his title.

Martinez struck first by using his face mask to headbutt. Martinez made quick work of the doctor. Highlights include a face-plant slam off his shoulders then transitioning to a behind-the-back gut suplex. Martinez won with a piledriver variation.

That squash match achieved all its goals for me. Ricky Martinez looked impressive and left me interested to see more. Based on his name, look, and hometown, Doctor Rex Bacchus was the kind of jabroni that I could root for one day as a lovable loser.

Cut to a backstage conversation between Tom Lawlor and Simon Gotch. Lawlor was doing some shadow boxing with Gotch’s hands as mitts. Lawlor asked, “Are you going to be ready tonight? I need you there instead of waxing your mustache or doing Hindu squats.” Tonight, Gotch has Lawlor’s back and even set up a press conference for later. The door behind them said, “Arms Room.” Is that the entrance to the gun show?

Size Matters defeated the Dirty Blondes

The Dirty Blondes entered to harmonica rock music. They looked like an old school Southern tag team. Tubby physiques with bleach blond hair to automatically make them lover boys.

Joey Ryan tagged with Swoggle (aka Hornswoggle) as the team Size Matters. Their theme song had a guitar riff that reminded me of Ted Nugent’s, “Stranglehold.” Ryan put his used blow pop into another dude’s eager mouth. Swoggle followed suit with one of those giant little kid lollipops.

Ryan was wearing a shoulder sling due to tearing his chest muscles the previous evening. He cut a promo about it to let the crowd know.

The blonde goobers ambushed to start. This was also a fairly quick match. The big men pounded Swoggle until Ryan busted with the hot tag. Highlights include a thumb to Swoggle’s eye, a belly-to-back suplex by Swoggle, and Swoggle’s between the legs superkick.

For the finish, Ryan stuck a blow pop into one of the Blonde’s mouth then superkicked (Sweet Tooth Music) him. Swoggle finished the match with a tadpole splash.

Ryan did a post-match promo thanking the fans for support. He put over Chicago and was grateful to wrestle there one more time, in case he is out of action due to surgery.

Losing to Size Matters was not a good look for the Dirty Blondes. This was my first time watching them, and they lost to a mini and a one-armed man. (Not that arm. Otherwise, I could understand.) My impression is that they are jobbers, but I’m sure if they are supposed to be.

The bout was an enjoyable outing from Swoggle. He was electric and entertaining. The other three get a pass. Ryan was injured and the Dirty Blondes took it easy on him as to not do further damage.

Sami Callihan had a promo from the bowels of the stadium. He was on the other side of a prison door. Callihan is okay with being known as a mercenary for hire, because Promociones Dorado keep paying him. “The Draw” likes to make money hurting people. MVP, Shane Strickland, and Jimmy Havoc have been his targets. His street fight with Tom Lawlor will be no different.

Callihan isn’t afraid of Lawlor’s UFC experience. He is afraid of what he will do to Lawlor in a street fight. You can’t train for that. He will send Lawlor back to the UFC, because this is his business. Callihan is professional wrestling.

News: Battle Riot 2 will be on April 5, 2019 in New York City. Konnan had a backstage press conference where he accepted Low Ki’s challenge. Big fights were announced for the cards Never Say Never and Zero Hour on December 13 and 14 in Miami.

Tom Lawlor cut another promo on Sami Callihan. “Mister Death Machine? No, Sami. You’re nothing but a troll, a chump, a punk. Simon Gotch exited the Arms Room to lead Lawlor to the ring.

Shane “Swerve” Strickland was supposed to have a backstage interview about his match next week against Low Ki. He ignored the lady’s question, put his earphones in, and walked off.

Chicago Street Fight: Tom Lawlor beat Sami Callihan

Tom Lawlor’s music kind of reminded me of music from the movie Snatch. He looks like an in-shape version of Balls Mahoney. Hairstyle, not wrestling style.

Sami Callihan charged at Lawlor with a kendo stick before the opening bell. Weapons aplenty for this street fight of approximately 20 minutes in duration. A trash can, metal barriers, a soda can, spit, eye gouges, chairs, a paper cup, a poster board that said, “Use my sign,” tables, a huge nail spike, a VHS tape, low blows, and a baseball bat. The action was fierce but not vicious.

Highlights include a piledriver on the apron by Callihan, a Death Valley Driver through a table by Callihan, and Callihan using the poster board to give Lawlor paper cuts on his lips.

The finish was pretty cool. Callihan got his baseball bat, taunted Lawlor, then was low blowed. The two duked it out on their knees. Lawlor caught a pump kick and turned it into a slam. Callihan lunged for his bat, but Lawlor stepped on his hand and grabbed it first. Lawlor broke the bat in half over his knee.

Callihan charged forward into a snazzy application of a rear naked choke. Callihan wore Lawlor like a backpack then fell backward into a table to break the hold. Callihan was busy pointing to his brains, so Lawlor crawled up and locked in the submission once again. Callihan had a piece of the broken bat in his hand. Lawlor astutely maneuvered Callihan’s hand to stab himself in his own throat. Lawlor firmed up the choke to win.

The street fight was a-okay. It might have been more enjoyable had I known the story elements better. For example, I get the feeling that Lawlor breaking the bat was supposed to be a big moment, but I didn’t care that much because I haven’t seen previous episodes.

The winning submission was badass. Executing a chokehold so Callihan stabbed himself in the neck was quite the visual.

Good luck to Tom Lawlor as he competes tonight on the Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz PPV event. Get that $25,000 payday.

Simon Gotch is a fink

Simon Gotch assisted a worn-out Tom Lawlor to the press conference. “Tom, you so deserve what’s about to happen. You want that belt? You want Ki? Don’t worry, you’re going go get Ki.” They entered through a door that said, “Do not open.”

Inside stood Low Ki, Salina De La Renta, Ricky Martinez, LA Park and son. Simon Gotch closed the door behind and leaned on it with a smirk as beatdown noises could be heard. The announcer yelled, “What an absolute rat bastard move!”

That was a hilarious ending to the episode. I love to laugh at evil shenanigans. I was thinking all the promos from Lawlor throughout was a bit much, but it all paid of in the end with that story swerve.

Episode 31 was an enjoyable experience for my first time watching MLW Fusion. The matches weren’t the best, but that is to be expected with a squash match and Joey Ryan being injured. The talent on their roster shows that the quality of wrestling won’t be an issue going forward. I don’t doubt the potential for greatness in the ring.

The backstage scenes were on point. I like how they told stories, both separately and throughout the episode. Everything was simple and easy to follow.

The production wasn’t bad at all for a promotion their size. Nothing bush league. The camera work and lighting were fine. The music and video packages were pleasing and informative. The announcers painted a picture nicely. I enjoyed phrases such as jugular vein and how they mentioned little details like Ricky Martinez’s mask being cleared by the doctor. Tony Schiavone and Rich Bocchini (aka Rich Brennan) seemed like they were having a good time. Their enthusiasm carried over to enhance the broadcast.

MLW is definitely a promotion worth keeping an eye on, in my opinion. It seems like they pay attention to the small details, which only makes the matches and stories better. Even if you just watch the main events, like Shane Strickland vs Matt Riddle, the time invested should be worth it.

What is your opinion about MLW? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

MLW Fusion airs live on beIN SPORTS Friday nights 8pm ET / 5pm PT. New episodes are posted on YouTube Saturday nights at 6:05pm ET. Episode 32 is already up with a title fight main event of Low Ki vs Shane Strickland. Enjoy!

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