Powell’s MLW Fusion TV Review: Jake Hager (f/k/a Jack Swagger) vs. Jeff Cobb, Sami Callihan vs. Joey Janela, Rich Swann vs. Kotto Brazil, complete show video included

By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Major League Wrestling TV (Episode 7)
Taped in Orlando, Florida at GILT Nightclub
Aired June 1, 2018 on beIN Sports

The show’s title is “Infinite Swagger”… Backstage, Vanessa Croft said she was going to be joined by Jeff Cobb. Instead, Col. Rob Parker interrupted along with the Dirty Blondes and said Cobb would get his worst nightmare via Jake Hager… The MLW opening video aired… Tony Schiavone and Rich Bocchini were on commentary. Schiavone hyped the matches. The ring announcer was Tim Barr…

1. Jake Hager (w/Col. Rob Parker, The Dirty Blondes) vs. Jeff Cobb. Parker introduced Hager as the man who rules the world. The Blondes brought a stretcher to the ring. Hager dominated the early portion of the match. Cobb powered him up and drove him into the corner and then powerslammed him for a two count. Cobb followed up with a standing moonsault for another two count. Hager came back and applied the ankle lock for the submission win…

Jake Hager defeated Jeff Cobb.

Powell’s POV: A solid match that turned out to be more of a Hager showcase than I anticipated. Cobb has made a good name for himself and the match looked more compelling on paper than it turned out to be in execution. The presentation left a lot to be desired in that both men debuted on MLW Fusion without mission statements or much fanfare. In fact, viewers who were not familiar with Cobb’s work likely came away viewing him as an enhancement guy because he spent so much of the match selling and he wasn’t treated like anything special. So while I have no issue with Hager going over strong, it would have meant more if Cobb had been established as a big deal going into the match.

A shot aired of an ambulance. Schiavone said Cobb suffered a fractured ankle and MLW officials are reviewing the footage…

Footage aired of Shane Strickland beating Pentagon Jr. to retain the MLW Title last week. Backstage interviewer Kaci Lennox asked Strickland how he was feeling coming out of the match. He spoke about being sore and yet happy that the title was still around his waist. Strickland ended up going outside the venue where Salina de la Renta glared at him. She spoke about bringing in more names to take the title from him. He said she could bring in whoever she wants. She told him to be careful what he wishes for…

Schiavone hyped Fred Yehi vs. Tom Lawlor for next week… Footage aired of Lawlor and Simon Gotch talking backstage and mocking Yehi’s name by turning it into a height joke…

Sami Callihan stood in front of the MLW logo. He said he doesn’t care if he offends you or hurts your feelings. He said he is building an army of like minds. The big bald man joined his he spoke about taking over everything…

A shot aired of Maxwell J Friedman and a woman drinking champagne in a special section on the floor…

Schiavone ran through the MLW Top Ten for June: 10. ACH. 9. Jake Hager. 8. Joey Janela. 7. Barrington Hughes. 6. Jimmy Havoc. 5. MVP. 4. Sami Callihan. 3. Rey Fenix. 2. Pentagon Jr. 1. Tom Lawlor.

Powell’s POV: I’m happy to see the top ten return and they seemed to clarify that these will be updated monthly. I’d prefer to see them tweaked weekly based on match results, but it is what it is. The bigger issue is not explaining what has changed and why since last month’s rankings. It’s great to have a ranking system, but make us feel like they actually matter. One of the advantages of updating them more frequently would be showing us that a match between two ranked wrestlers can lead to an immediate change. For instance, let’s say the third and fourth ranked wrestlers had a match. They could acknowledge their rankings going into the match and even show us the change afterward if the fourth ranked wrestler won or even show that fourth ranked wrestler moved down if he lost.

2. Rich Swann vs. Kotto Brazil. Friedman watched the match from ringside. Swann and Brazil shook hands prior to the match. A Swann promo aired as he made his entrance. The broadcast team started to tell the story that Swann was dominant and too experienced for Brazil. Schiavone said it was just a formality and Brazil had no defense. Swann applied a unique submission hold that turned Brazil upside down. Bocchini noted that Swann seemed to be showboating. Swann hit a spinning missile dropkick for a two count. Later, Swann went for another top rope move only to take a dropkick. Brazil followed up with a top rope neckbreaker for a two count. Swann came back with a Lethal Injection for a two count. Brazil hit a Code Red for a two count. Swann came back with a series of strikes and performed a Phoenix Splash from the middle rope and got the pin…

Rich Swann defeated Kotto Brazil.

Powell’s POV: The broadcast team told the story of Brazil showing great heart despite being overmatched. Swann actually came off heelish early on, though that doesn’t seem to be where they are going with him. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing Swann go heel. Fortunately, he ditched the dancing from his 205 Live days and played a more serious role. Meanwhile, I like the story they are telling with Brazil being the hard working underdog.

Brazil played to the crowd and then hung around the stage until Sami Callihan came out and blasted him with a baseball bat shot before making his entrance… [C] An ad aired for the NYC event on July 19…

3. Sami Callihan (w/two men) vs. Joey Janela (w/Aria). MJF remained at ringside sipping champagne. Janela performed a top rope flip dive onto Callihan and his sidekicks. Schiavone labeled the two unnamed men as thugs, and Bocchini said Callihan seemed like a cult leader. Callihan came back with a piledriver on the apron heading into a break. [C]

Janela hit a running death valley driver and got a three count, but Callihan’s foot was on the ropes. Callihan came right back with a shoulder breaker for a two count. A short time later, Callihan performed a piledriver. Janala popped right up and dropkicked Callihan, then sold the piledriver. They fought to ringside where Callihan ended up running Janela into MJF’s ringside table. MJF attacked Janela and then rolled him back inside the ring. Callihan hit the Cranial Contusion and scored the pin…

Sami Callihan defeated Joey Janela.

Schiavone hyped Tom Lawlor vs. Fred Yehi, and ACH vs. Rey Fenix for next week’s show…

Friedman entered the ring and put the boots to Janela. MJF got his glass of champagne and stood over Janela and took a sip, then he poured the rest onto Janela…

Powell’s POV: It felt like viewers were dropped into the middle of the Callihan and Janela feud when the Fusion series started. MLW did some video work with both men to help establish their feud and yet I never felt like I understood what was at the heart of their story. Fortunately, it appears this was the blowoff since they seem to be moving on to Janela feuding with MJF. Do Callihan’s sidekicks have names? How about the third member of Team Filthy? It’s possible they do and I just missed it.

The broadcast team didn’t do a good job at the end of the main event. Bocchini was justifying MJF’s attack by pointing out that he had champagne spilled on his suit and date when he should have been acting outraged by MJF’s actions and making Janela seem sympathetic. Neither Schiavone nor Bocchini seemed bothered by Callihan winning in the manner that he did either, which is counterproductive. Overall, a watchable hour that felt a little sloppy at times. Things should improve as they establish new programs that viewers will be able to experience from start to finish.

Check out my free 60-minute interview with MLW voice Tony Schiavone below.



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