Major League Wrestling returned to Cicero Stadium in Chicago, IL this Saturday night for a combined MLW: FUSION television taping and one-hour live special on the beIN SPORTS network.
ProWrestling.com staff including Doug Enriquez and Managing Editor Mike Killam had the pleasure of attending the event to provide live onsite coverage. Check back in the next few weeks as we’ll also be dropping brand new, exclusive interviews with MLW talents and more!
- General public started filtering in about an hour before the show began. It’s now officially being advertised as a legitimate sell-out, and by the looks of the rapidly shrinking amount of free chairs and bleacher space that appears to be accurate.
- Sound check is over, they’re done testing the lights, and the ring announcer has taken his place to start the tapings! The very first announcement of the night is a brand new addition to the MLW broadcast team. Ladies and gentlemen, your new MLW color commentator… Jim Cornette!?
(1) ALEXANDER HAMMERSTONE def. ISAIS VELAZQUEZ in a short match after a stalling vertical superplex from the top rope, into a great-looking modified Jackhammer sit-out sideslam.
(2) TEDDY HART def. MYRON REED. Great mix of high-flying maneuvers and hard-hitting violence as they were really laying their stuff in. While not confirmed I believe Teddy suffered an injury to his ribs during the match. He was spitting up what looked like blood, but don’t quote me on that. Both guys worked well together. Myron hit a beautiful springboard Super Frankensteiner, but crashed and burned on a springboard 450. He argued with the referee over a nearfall and Teddy rolled him up for the win.
(3) PENTAGON JR. & REY FENIX def. LAREDO KID & TAURUS. A match of one million moves. Some truly impressive acrobatics and incredible teamwork, especially from the Lucha Bros. The crowd was red hot from start to finish. If I’m nitpicking, after the 10-minute mark they had done so many ridiculous moves, and kicked out of so much, the moves sort of started to lose all meaning. In retrospect I couldn’t tell you 1/10th of the stuff they did looking back.
- We’re taking an early intermission so the ring crew can set up the steel cage. This took quite a long time so they put tickets for their return to Chicago on-sale at the box office which gave people something to do.
(4) “Filthy” TOM LAWLOR (c) def. LOW-KI in a Steel Cage Match to retain the MLW World Heavyweight Championship. Personally, I enjoyed the slow pacing and technical back-and-forth of this fairly traditional cage match. Would I have done it in front of this crowd? No. Would I have gone with a slower paced match after asking people to wait so long while they put the cage together? No. The crowd started hot and was chanting “Filthy Tom” but lost interest as the match went on. They fought on top of the cage and teased a ridiculous hanging double foot stomp, but it never happened. They fought on the outside of the cage, back and forth for way too long (just… fall and win the match?) until Lawlor hit the ground first.
- Simon Gotch, Jacob Fatu and Josef Samael came out with the cage still up and beat the hell out of Tom Lawlor. Fatu actually hit a Superfly Splash from the top of the cage that was picture perfect, and easily the best spot of the entire night. Officials and EMTs came out to help the champion to the back.
- And… it’s intermission time again. Intermission II: Electric Boogaloo. Unfortunately by the time they were done taking the cage down, many of the fans were chanting “we want wrestling!”
(5) ACE ROMERO def. SIMON GOTCH via disqualification when Jacob Fatu and Josef Samael came back out and attacked Acey Baby. The crowd was really into Romero early on, especially after he hit a giant suicide dive. Samael attacked him with a spike and made him bleed heavily. More EMTs came out to help the big man to the back.
(6) RICKY MARTINEZ def. AIR WOLF. I don’t know how this will come across on TV but Wolf got dropped on his neck two, if not three times during the match. I’m not the only one who thought it looked bad, as several others in the media area were shaking their heads and cringing. One spot in particular saw Wolf get dropped hard neck-first into the metal barricade.
(7) ACE AUSTIN def. DJZ. Good match that was all action from start to finish. DJZ always finds a way to do something I’ve never seen before and Austin is on his way up through the ranks in the indie scene. Big win for him.
(8) THE JOBBERS def. JACOB FATU & JOSEF SAMAEL via disqualification. I did not come up with that title. The “jobbers” did not have an entrance and were not announced, so the crowd started chanting it. Yet again the match quickly ended as Samael used a spike to bloody both guys.
- The beatdown continued for a long, long time. Jacob Fatu squashed both guys with brutal top rope moonsaults and Samoan Drops. Samael pulled out a F***ING FIREBALL out of nowhere. EMTs rushed out again and stretchered out the guy who took a fireball to the face, but while they were lifting him up Fatu did another moonsault through him and the stretcher! The crowd was PISSED at this point due to all the distractions in almost every match, not to mention almost an hour of downtime with assembling and disassembling the cage. Samael started throwing tons of water all over the fans at ringside. At first the fans were just booing it, but he kept soaking everyone in water to the point where it looked like some of them were about to jump the rails and fight the guy. The crowd littered the ring with trash, and continued doing so as they went up the ramp getting into it with the fans. INCREDIBLE old school heat.
(9) DAGA def. ARIEL DOMINGUEZ. Solid match. Daga had to be twice his opponent’s size. Ariel tried to chip him down to size and got in some great offense. No complaints here.
- Low-Ki ran out and tried to attack Daga, but the two were separated by officials and other backstage personnel. Good segment.
(10) PUMA KING def. HIJO DE LA PARK. I don’t know if maybe they announced something for “TV” that we just didn’t see live, but this was billed as a regular match despite both guys using weapons repeatedly. It was strange because we’d seen several DQs already on the same show. The match was actually a lot of fun, just curious as to why it didn’t make sense live. I was surprised at all the weapons spots and the outside interference since they probably could have had a great lucha-style match, but opted to go that way instead. I’ll have to see how it all comes off on TV.
- MJF came out and cut a scathing promo about how Stu Hart wasn’t looking down from heaven, because he was looking up from the pits of hell. He said Stu left his legacy in the hands of a moron named Teddy Hart, and now that legacy means absolutely nothing. His name is MJF and he’s better than you, and you know it.
(11) DAVEY BOY SMITH JR. & TEDDY HART (c) def. MAXWELL JACOB FRIEDMAN & RICHARD HOLIDAY via disqualification to retain the MLW World Tag Team Championships. Teddy did in fact have his ribs bandaged from the early match and appeared to be in an incredible amount of pain, despite flying around and executing the best Lionsault I’ve ever seen before in my life. Holiday got great heat putting him in the Sharpshooter, but Davey Boy broke it up and slapped the hell out of him. Alexander Hammerstone ran out through the crowd and hit the champs with a steel chair to cause the DQ finish, which to me made absolutely no sense.
- Friedman, Holiday and Hammerstone beat the hell out of the new Hart Foundation and posed together as a new force as the crowd booed the hell out of him. I’m still confused as to why Hammerstone would intentionally cost his new friends a title match.
(12) GRINGO LOCO def. MYRON REED. I liked this match quite a bit. Lots of back-and-forth counters early on. Myron kept throwing him around the ring with some great maneuvers, but Gringo kept doing backflips and landing on his feet. Gringo did an awesome rolling powerbomb and set up for a piledriver, but Reed fought out and hit him with a Spanish Fly. Gringo hit a massive tope con hillo to the outside which woke up the fans considerably, then hit a springboard cutter and a corkscrew splash for the win.
- In a super awkward spot, the ring announcer’s microphone wouldn’t work. They spent several minutes trying to get it to work, until he just mouthed the words to the next entrance, I suspect so they can dub over it later for television. At one point they sent someone out to — and I’m not kidding — turn the microphone off and on again by the switch, like the announcer didn’t already try that in all the time he was out there.
- MJF and his new gang of Richard Holiday and Alexander Hammerstone came out and the crowd rained down boos on them until the microphone started working again. MJF announced that Teddy Hart was in jail again. Why? No idea. Must have been an angle for TV. Brian Pillman Jr. ran out and we have a match….
(13) ALEXANDER HAMMERSTONE def. BRIAN PILLMAN JR. The crowd was fully behind Pillman after all the interference and B.S. finishes throughout the night, and were chanting “Starlord” at Hammerstone for some reason. Pillman tried to fight his way back with heavy chops and slaps, hit a running crossbody, but eventually Hammerstone hit his modified Jackhammer to win.
(14) LA PARK def. MANCE WARNER in a Death Match.
THOUGHTS FROM THE SHOW
I’ve seen a lot of promotions try, but I don’t think there’s a way to effectively pull off a steel cage match at a show where it’s not already hanging from the rafters before the event begins. There’s just no way to include so much downtime and not lose the crowd’s interest. And it’s damn near impossible to get the crowd back, especially a crowd that’s 90% lucha libre fans who weren’t at the show for these wrestlers, with a slow-paced traditional cage match.
All total I was inside the venue from 6PM until just before midnight, which is borderline ridiculous unless the name of your event starts with “Wrestle” and ends with either “Mania” or “Kingdom”. But television tapings are always a little awkward, no matter the promotion. To me, this was a case where they tried to do way too many things — a full television taping, a steel cage that had to be set up and taken down bringing the whole thing to a screeching halt, and a live television special in the middle of the whole thing.
Even all that you could probably get away with, if a solid half of the matches on the show didn’t end in disqualification. Because it’s a TV taping and we’re not seeing the conclusion to a lot of this stuff, you get a lot of the frustrating “negative” stuff (that’s actually really good heel work) from both the MJF group and the Simon Gotch group, but because there was never a moment of retribution for any of it, all of that mess ends up just feeling very dissatisfying.
I don’t want to come across entirely negative. There were many good matches from a lot of excellent wrestlers. A lot of it was either overshadowed or just hard to remember because of the length of the show and all the distractions.
I will say, I’m very interested to see how this all comes across on television. In particular this new group led by Simon Gotch, which started with random, annoying interferences and by the end of the taping resulted in so much heat the fans were literally hurling trash into the ring. That felt like a truly special moment. Old school heat, if you will. People just don’t work like that anymore. All the MJF & Co. stuff was excellent as well. Again, it’s just way too many consecutive segments where it’s nothing but heels going over constantly.
As always, despite having a few negative opinions on the show, we appreciate being invited to the event by Major League Wrestling and hope that our feedback is taken as constructive.