Powell’s MLW Fusion TV Review: Jacob Fatu vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. for the MLW World Championship, Myron Reed vs. Brian Pillman Jr. for the MLW Middleweight Championship, MLW National Openweight Champion Alex Hammerstone in action

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

Major League Wrestling Fusion
Taped in Orlando, Florida at GILT Nightclub
Aired November 18, 2020 on Fubo Sports, Pluto TV, and MLW’s YouTube Page

MLW opened with a video package that showed off some classic footage from the MLW Underground era as well as some modern footage from the Fusion era. The modern footage included Contra Unit taking over the company followed by the recent “restart” angle…

Rich Bocchini and Jared St. Laurent checked in on commentary (Blake Chadwick was the ring announcer) after Alex Hammerstone made his entrance for the opening match. Bocchini noted that Contra Unit broke the back of Davey Boy Smith Jr. months ago and now Smith is back to challenge Jacob Fatu for the MLW World Championship. St. Laurent also hyped the MLW Middleweight Title match between Myron Reed and Brian Pillman Jr. Bocchini hyped the reveal of the Opera Cup brackets for later in the show… The MLW Fusion opening aired…

1. MLW National Openweight Champion Alex Hammerstone vs. Jason Dugan in a non-title match. Dugan’s entrance was not televised. Hammerstone clotheslined Dugan and then hit his Nightmare Pendulum finisher. Hammerstone placed his foot over Dugan while the referee made the three count.

MLW National Openweight Champion Alex Hammerstone defeated Jason Dugan in a non-title match in 0:20.

After the match, Hammerstone delivered an in-ring promo in which he stated his desire to challenge Fatu for the MLW World Championship. St. Laurent noted that Hammerstone has been No. 1 contender for six months and was tired of waiting…

Powell’s POV: This was just a quick squash win for Hammerstone. The post match promo was really well delivered. Hammerstone is always fun in the Dynasty videos, but he seemed more poised and confident than usual while delivering this actual promo. MLW has done a big upgrade to the onscreen graphics they use and they look great. They are also using a timer clock that lists the match time along with the names of both wrestlers that appears on the top middle of the screen. There are no fans in the venue, but the hard camera shot is tight on the ring and faces the entrance stage, so there’s not a consistent shot of a bunch of empty seats to serve as a constant reminder that the venue is empty. There’s also some background noise that reminds me of the low hum ambient crowd noise that Major League Baseball used in their broadcasts during the pandemic. The background noise goes a long way when it comes to improving the atmosphere.

An Injustice video package aired and included footage of Brian Pillman Jr. attacking them with a chair… A tale of the tape graphic aired for the MLW Middleweight Title match…

Brian Pillman Jr.’s entrance music played, but he didn’t come out. The music restarted, but he still didn’t come out. St. Laurent noted that Myron Reed and his wife recently welcomed a new child. The cameras cut to Bocchini and St. Laurent, who were standing in front of the MLW backdrop. Bocchini said he was being told that Pillman didn’t want to make his entrance for whatever reason and they hoped to have more info coming out of a break… [C]

A Lio Rush video teased him as “coming soon” to MLW… An MLW Radio ad aired… A Stephen P. New attorney ad aired… Pillman made his entrance coming out of the break. The Contra logo flashed on the screen. Myron Reed made his entrance along with fellow Injustice member Jordan Oliver. The broadcast team questioned whether Pillman’s delay in making his entrance was due to Hammerstone’s match ending so quickly…

2. Myron Reed (w/Jordan Oliver) vs. Brian Pillman Jr. for the MLW Middleweight Championship. Reed wore his chest protector. The broadcast team explained that he suffered a chest injury that should be healed by now. They also said they don’t know what’s in the chest protector. St. Laurent noted that Reed won 33 percent of his matches using aerial moves.

Reed removed his chest protector and tossed into into the corner of the ring. Pillman caught Reed leaping off the ropes and used a backslide to get a two count. Pillman followed up a short time later with a cross body block from the ropes for another near fall. Reed came back with a cutter from the ropes, then followed up with an inverted suplex that resulted in a near fall.

Pillman performed a sit-out cradle powerbomb with a near fall. Reed ended up in the corner and placed his chest protector over the middle rope. Pillman charged at Reed in the corner, but Reed moved and Pillman slammed his knee into the chest protector. Reed followed up with his finisher and scored the pin…

Myron Reed defeated Brian Pillman Jr. in 11:17 to retain the MLW Middleweight Championship.

Powell’s POV: A well worked match. Reed was really clicking prior to the pandemic pause and delivered some good promos during the Pulp Fusion run. Pillman looked more confident and was more consistent in the ring than he was prior to the pandemic. The chest protector finish was fine as they continue to play up the idea that it’s loaded.

A post match promo aired with Reed and Oliver standing backstage in front of the MLW backdrop. Reed called out Lio Rush. He said he wants to prove himself against the best and wants to face Rush next…

Powell’s POV: Reed vs. Rush? Now that’s a match to look forward to.

A Los Parks video aired with the trio delivering a promo from a gym in Monterrey, Mexico that was translated via subtitles. They spoke about taking the company offices back from Contra Unit and how they intend to go after the various MLW titles…

Bocchini was about to reveal the brackets for the Opera Cup tournament when the Contra Unit logo interrupted him. Josef Samael delivered a promo in front of a Contra backdrop. Samael spoke about how he was far away preparing soldiers for the next wave of the war. They cut to footage of Jacob Fatu talking about how Contra has never stopped. He said he broke the back of the British Poodle and would cripple him again. They cut back to Samael, who said the Bulldog would be broken and the black hand of Contra “will put you in a death grip”…

An MLW merchandise ad aired… Bocchini noted that Konnan revealed on a recent edition of Pulp Fusion that Salina de la Renta was paid to help Contra gain access. Footage aired of the Konnan promo. Bocchini said MLW has revoked Salina’s manager and promoter’s license and fined her. Bocchini said Salina would appear on next week’s show to make a statement. He questioned why they were giving her more air time and said she would just try to spin things…

Bocchini set up a video package on the history of the Opera Cup. It was noted that Davey Boy Smith Jr. won last year’s tournament. The brackets for the 2020 Opera Cup were revealed – Tom Lawlor vs. Rocky Romero, Laredo Kid vs ACH, Low Ki vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr., and Richard Holliday vs. TJP. The alternates will be Gino Medina, Jordan Oliver, Hijo de LA Park, King Mo, Dominic Garrini, and Daga…

Powell’s POV: The tournament looks really good on paper. Smith vs. Low Ki is a rematch of a tournament match from last year.

Footage aired from “earlier today” of Alicia Atout interviewing Davey Boy Smith Jr., who spoke about training with Josh Barnett in the United States and Sakuraba and Tiger Mask in Japan. She asked if this was the biggest fight of his career. Smith said that it would be. He looked back on debuting in MLW while he was still in high school and wanting to make a big impact with tag partner TJ Wilson. He said all the blood, sweat, and tears over the last 15 years now come down to one night. He said it’s his destiny to win the MLW World Championship…

Bocchini hyped the main event as coming up after a break… [C]

A Richard Holliday hosted “Dynastic” coffee mug ad aired… Another attorney ad aired… A Calvin Tankman teaser aired for his arrival on next week’s show…

Richard Holliday checked in from a “Caribbean beach” and said he was stuck there. Holliday blamed Alicia Atout for him being stranded while assuming it was revenge for him trying to stop her from crossing the Canadian border. Holliday asked how they could do the restart without him…

Kevin Von Erich, Ross Von Erich, and Marshall Von Erich checked in from Hawaii. Kevin spoke about Court Bauer and Gary Hart’s relationship, then told his sons that it was time to get back to work…

A graphic touted next week’s show as a Thanksgiving edition of Fusion. Bocchini encouraged viewers to kick off their Thanksgiving with the return of the Opera Cup on next week’s show…

Powell’s POV: Holliday is advertised for the tournament, so either he did appear at the restart tapings or they will be using an alternate. Hopefully it’s just a storyline for this week and he will make his return for the tournament.

The MLW Champions roll call video aired and then a tale of the tape was shown for the main event…

Ring entrances for the main event took place. The babyface challenger didn’t get much of a pop. Wait, never mind. The broadcast team noted that Josef Samael stated in his earlier video that he was in Asia. Fatu came out alone and walked past a pair of Contra flags that were set up on the stage. Bocchini said you never know when Samael would show up despite his earlier claim of being out of the country…

3. Jacob Fatu vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. for the MLW World Championship. St. Laurent spoke about how there were fans who “paid the big bucks” to sit in socially distanced box seats in the balcony area (no fans were shown). Bocchini noted that it was easier to hear the wrestlers talking smack in the ring to one another due to the circumstances. St. Laurent questioned whether Fatu would target the back of Smith during the match. A graphic listed Lawlor vs. Romero in an Opera Cup tournament match for next week.

Smith performed an early powerslam that resulted in a two count. Fatu popped right up. St. Laurent said Smith has an 84 percent chance of winning if he keeps his opponents grounded for the bulk of the match. Smith delivered a series of headbutts and then covered Fatu for a two count. Smith held up Fatu before suplexing him, then covered him for another two count. Smith sold lower back pain.

Fatu took offensive control while the broadcast team noted that most of his title defenses haven’t lasted as long as this match. Fatu went for a handspring move, but Smith put his knees up. St. Laurent pointed out that Fatu was in the best shape of his life and there’s not as much girth in his mid-section to protect him from crashing onto Smith’s knees. Smith threw some strikes at Fatu and knocked him down with a big boot before following up with a leg drop that led to a two count.

A short time later, Smith caught Fatu on the ropes with a headbutt. Smith placed Fatu over his shoulder, then sold back pain before collapsing. Fatu performed a Samoan Drop and followed up with a top rope moonsault that led to him scoring the pin.

Jacob Fatu defeated Davey Boy Smith Jr. in 10:22 to retain the MLW World Championship.

After the match, Fatu celebrated his win and yelled “Contra” into the camera a few times. Fatu took the mic and was censored as he spoke about Contra running the company. Fatu questioned who is next. He said Hammerstone shouldn’t want any of this.

Alex Hammerstone made his entrance and jawed at Fatu from the floor. Hammerstone punched out a man at ringside. A big, bald, muscular masked man (Grogan?) showed up and attacked Hammerstone from behind. St. Laurent assumed the man was the “black hand of Contra.” The masked man slammed Hammerstone onto the ring apron. The Contra logo flashed on the screen and included “Mads” in a logo to wrap up the show…

Powell’s POV: A clean win for Fatu, though Smith was given the out of his back injury costing him. Hammerstone has been a heel as part of the Dynasty faction. It remains to be seen whether he will end up working as a babyface or if this will simply be a showdown between heel champions. It also remains to be seen whether they intend to unify the championships.

Overall, the restart episode was a success. The production was improved from a graphics standpoint, and the way the show was shot didn’t provide constant reminders that no fans were present. The only time the lack of fans was a factor was during the main event, as there just wasn’t the same buzz that they would be in normal times for a title match with good near falls. Jordan Oliver being at ringside and making some noise during the MLW Middleweight Title match made it less of an issue during that match.

The new broadcast team clicked. Bocchini has worked with a variety of partners in MLW, but he has emerged as the true voice of the company. St. Laurent is the righthand man of Court Bauer behind the scenes, so one of the perks of him being on commentary is that he knows exactly what type of story they want to tell during the matches. He’s also incorporating a lot of analytics into the matches. I’d like to see the company reenforce some of that date with onscreen graphics, but I did enjoy that sports-like call that Bocchini and St. Laurent provided. My audio review of MLW Fusion will be available for Dot Net Members after the AEW Dynamite and NXT television shows tonight.


Readers Comments (1)

  1. Production wise, this looked great. The matches were good and wrestled like actual fights. Reed vs Rush does nothing for me since it will be a midget flip contest like every other bad indy match these days.

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