Powell’s MLW Fusion TV Review: Brian Pillman Jr. vs. TJP and Timothy Thatcher vs. Richard Holliday in Opera Cup tournament matches, ACH and King Mo vs. Kotto Brazil and Jordan Oliver

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

Major League Wrestling Fusion (Episode 88)
Taped December 5, 2019 in Queens, New York at Melrose Ballroom
Aired December 14, 2019 on beIN Sports

Fusion opened with the Injustice trio of Myron Reed, Kotto Brazil, and Jordan Oliver taunting the live crowd in the ring. The broadcast team of Rich Bocchini and AJ Kirsch checked in and said the trio was complaining that they were not in the Opera Cup tournament even though they are alternates in the tournament. Injustice sat down in the ring.

King Mo made his entrance. In a shocking development, Dan “F’n” Lambert returned to pro wrestling television by joining the broadcast team on commentary.

Powell’s POV: Lambert was all over TNA television at one point. He’s the founder of America’s Top Team and for some reason Impact officials thought he made a great heel and put him all over television (or they just really wanted him to invest in the company). He had some decent performances to go along with some real clunkers, but here’s hoping he’s limited to sitting in on commentary and singing buddy King Mo’s praises in MLW.

ACH made his entrance and shook hands with Mo while the Injustice trio fled to ringside and huddled up. The ring announcer said it was now a tag team match…

1. King Mo and ACH vs. Kotto Brazil and Jordan Oliver (w/Myron Reed). The idea was for Mo and ACH to throw simultaneous knees at Brazil and then double up to toss him, but the timing was way off. ACH was isolated and then run into the barricade by the heel trio while the referee was caught up bickering with Mo. Later, Brazil applied a Sharpshooter, but ACH reached the ropes to break the hold.

ACH finally made a hot tag. Mo worked over Brazil until he went for a powerbomb, which Brazil countered with a huracanrana. Oliver tagged in and Mo hit a double spear on the heels. ACH tagged in again and got the better of the heels. Mo tagged in and splashed Brazil while ACH simultaneously kicked him. Mo powerbombed Brazil and applied a kneebar for the win…

King Mo and ACH beat Kotto Brazil and Jordan Oliver.

Powell’s POV: Lambert spent the match stating in various ways that Mo is all about making money in MLW. ACH would be a nice addition to the MLW roster, but he tweeted after this event that he was quitting the business. Hopefully he finds happiness, as this has been a really tumultuous stretch for him and something seems off based on his online antics. The match itself felt like went longer than it needed to and lost the crowd a bit.

The brackets for the Opera Cup showed first round matches: Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Low Ki, Alex Hammerstone vs. MJF, Timothy Thatcher vs. Richard Holliday, and Brian Pillman Jr. vs. TJP. Kirsch noted that the Opera Cup trophy was at stake for the first time in 71 years. He hoped the tournament matches that would air on this episode…

An MLW merchadise ad aired…

Footage aired of Konnan speaking with Gino Medina in a stairwell. The camera spied on Konnan reading through some paperwork and shaking hands with Medina…

The latest Lifestyles of the Rich and Dynastic aired. Alex Hammerstone and Richard Holliday were at a bar when Hammerstone asked what Grogan was up to. Holliday said he was working for his lawyer/father by cleaning out some orphanages because they need the land (funny).

MJF showed up and asked if they were ready for the greatest Hanukah/Christmas present. MJF presented Holliday with giant AirPods and said they weren’t on the market yet. Holliday got emotional and the trio hugged. MJF asked what Holliday got him. Holliday said he didn’t want to give it to him now, implying that it wouldn’t live up to MJF’s gift. Holliday introduced Max Mini, a small guy dressed like MJF, who wasn’t impressed by the gift…

An Opera Cup video package aired and included classic photos and told the story of Davey Boy Smith Jr. inheriting the Opera Cup and donating it to MLW…

Ring announcer Mark Adam Haggerty was identified in a graphic and introduced the first tournament match…

2. Timothy Thatcher vs. Richard Holliday in an Opera Cup tournament first round match. MJF and Hammerstone walked out with Holliday, who gave his AirPods to MJF. Bocchini made a big fuss over Holliday removing his AirPods. The crowd chanted, “Thatcher’s gonna kill you.” Holliday rolled up Thatcher and held the tights for a close near fall at one point.

Later, Thatcher applied a double underhook. Holliday pressed him over into a pin for a two count. Thatcher held onto the hold and suplexed Holliday and then covered him for a two count. Thatcher went for a superplex, but Holliday countered into a 2008 neckbreaker and got a two count. Holliday applied a Fujiwara armbar and Holliday quickly tapped out…

Timothy Thatcher defeated Richard Holliday to advance in the Opera Cup tournament.

The updated tournament graphic was shown, as was the Opera Cup, which was positioned on a platform on the stage. Kirsch noted that Thatcher will face the winner of the main event in the second round…

Powell’s POV: A solid match. The broadcast team did a nice job of running through all of the Holliday character’s heel traits. If someone were watching Fusion for the first time, they came out of this match knowing everything they need to know about Holliday’s heel character. Thatcher winning felt like the right move. The Holliday character has been established nicely and he and the rest of Dynasty are plenty over as heels and can absorb losses. Meanwhile, Thatcher has had good matches in losing efforts in MLW and the tournament feels like a way to showcase him by having him go deep into the tournament or perhaps even win the tournament (I’ve avoided spoilers thus far).

Alicia Atout interviewed Salina de la Renta, who blew her off when she spotted Gino Medina. Salina walked away with Medina…

Powell’s POV: So the idea is clearly that Konnan and Salina are in a battle to sign Medina.

Mance Warner was featured in an outdoor promo with his buddy Moon Man standing behind him. Warner spoke about the Prince of Darkness (blindfold) match and said he would lay out Jimmy Havoc…

A video package touted the January 11 return to Dallas…

Ross Von Erich and Marshall Von Erich were shown venting to their father Kevin Von Erich about Tom Lawlor turning on them. Kevin said he thinks Lawlor did them a favor. He said it always comes down to money and this happened to him when Chris Adams turned on him. Kevin told them to do their best and keep the good part of themselves, but in the ring they just need to do what feels right…

A Contra Unit video aired. Josef Samael said soldiers emerge in all corners of the world including Japan, where they found Ikuro Kwon. Samael stood next to Jacob Fatu and said the fire rises… Bocchini hyped the main event…

Kirsch set up a promo from “The Strong Hearts” CIMA, El Lindaman, and Irie. Cima spoke in Japanese and said they will destroy Contra Unit completely in Japanese style, then said “no, hybrid style”…

3. Brian Pillman Jr. vs. TJP in an Opera Cup tournament first round match. Kirsch said he just received a text indicating that Tom Lawlor will appear on next week’s show and has a major announcement. Late in the match, TJP superplexed Pillman and followed up with a brainbuster for a two count. TJP threw a kick at Pillman and covered him for another two count, then applied a leg lock. Pillman reached for the ropes, but TJP gave up the hold and hooked his neck, but Pillman eventually reached the ropes to break it.

The broadcast team noted that TJP seemed to be showing some signs of frustration. TJP threw a few kicks at Pillman, who fired back with a chop. TJP returned fire with an uppercut, which led to a back and forth series of forearms. TJP fired a few kicks at Pillman, who caught him with a superkick. TJP blocked a kick and then suplexed Pillman. The wrestlers jockeyed for position. Pillman avoided what appeared to be an Eat Defeat or Sole Food, then blasted TJP with a knee to the head. Pillman followed up with a neckbreaker and scored the upset pin…

Brian Pillman Jr. defeated TJP to advance in the Opera Cup tournament.

Bocchini hyped additional first round action for next week, and the updated brackets showed that Pillman will face Thatcher in the second round of the tournament…

Powell’s POV: A good match with a surprising finish. The broadcast team made it clear that TJP was the favorite without laying it on so thick that it would be obvious that he was going over. An example to the contrary was the way the Raw broadcast team laid it on so thick that it was painfully obvious that Humberto Carrillo was going to beat Andrade. This was a good match and while TJP vs. Thatcher was more appealing on paper, I like the idea of giving Pillman an upset win. I’m surprised they didn’t make a big fuss afterward over Pillman beating the winner of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic tournament.

The presentation of the Opera Cup tournament was strong. The actual cup looks great, the video package on the history of the cup was well done, and the broadcast team did a really nice job of putting over the cup and the wrestlers. I don’t mention enough that MLW does a really good job of selecting music. They found the right theme for the tournament in that it creates a prestigious feel, and in general they have good music for most of their wrestlers and events. Bad music stands out (see a certain someone’s irrational hatred of Dolph Ziggler’s terrible entrance theme), but good use of music just feels right even if it’s not something that gets mentioned very often. And while musical tastes vary, Contra Unit wouldn’t be the same with a bad theme, and the Dynasty theme also stands out to me as being perfect for the trio.

Overall, this was a good episode and one of my favorites in Fusion’s recent history. The tournament format is spotlighting good in-ring work in longer matches, which is a nice change of pace from a lot of the hardcore styles matches we get in MLW. There’s a place for both and the show is called Fusion after all, but there have been times when MLW leaned more on the hardcore style. I’m surprised we didn’t a bunch of tension between MJF and Hammerstone on this episode given that they will be meeting in a tournament match, but perhaps that will occur next week.



The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ROH COO Joe Koff confirming plans for a weekly ROH online series, discussing his decision to call off ROH events due to the coronavirus outbreak, making Marty Scurll the head booker, ROH's partnerships with NJPW and the NWA, and much more...


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