During the coronavirus lockdown, Major League Wrestling has taken a break from their in-ring action.
MLW Fusion was replaced by MLW Anthology – a series of showcase episodes for single, tag team, or stables from throughout the years. We saw current and historic matches from the likes of the Von Erich brothers, Steve Corino and the Extreme Horsemen, LA Park, Satoshi Kojima, Low Ki, the Lucha Brothers, and Mance Warner. And currently, they are showing re-runs of their original weekly series from 2003, MLW Underground, complete with original title music, Joey Styles commentary and historic venues such as the Manhattan Centre in New York.
That’s not to say the current crop of guys and girls have been sitting around building bars in their garden or churning out TikTok videos while isolating in lockdown. Quite the contrary. They have been keeping their storylines ticking along nicely through a weekly montage of self-recorded promos, dubbed Pulp Fusion – a clever play off the old ECW promo montage videos they used to air- keeping us fans up to date for what we can expect when the in-ring action does, eventually, start back up.
Without a weekly first-run show or any in-ring action, MLW has benefited from the ingenuity of their roster to have storylines and matches still feel fresh, some four months since they last had a “traditional” episode of Fusion air. I say traditional as during April, MLW benefited from their partnership with AAA by having five episodes of AAA vs MLW specials in the bank from a recent taping in Tijuana, Mexico, just as the USA was locking down and cancelling events, but just in time to tape in Mexico before they followed suit. This separated MLW from the rest of the North American promotions as they still had a live audience on their shows up until 9 May.
So what has been going on with the modern-day stars of MLW while in lockdown? Here is a rundown of what has been going on, and what we can expect when MLW Fusion re-starts filming.
Los Parks vs CONTRA Unit (and AAA)
LA Park and his family: El Hijo de LA Park and LA Park Jr have been having a lot of fun during lockdown. They have been showing off their impressive culinary skills some weeks, and just recently took a dip in their family pool – with their wrestling masks on of course. But behind the humour has been a growing tension with CONTRA Unit and the competitors from AAA.
The Parks have set their sights on numerous targets throughout the weeks: they announced they are entering the tag division, they have called out Pagano and Psycho Clown from AAA, and also kept their feud with CONTRA Unit going so their destinations may be a bit scattered once they can get back into an MLW ring.
But one thing is for certain, they will be looking to get revenge on CONTRA Unit for the attack LA Park suffered a few weeks ago on Pulp Fusion. LA was cutting a promo when out of nowhere he was blind-sided by a strike as the camera quickly cut away. During the next weeks, we learned it was an attack by CONTRA, so the family’s first port of call will no doubt be revenge, whenever and wherever that may be.
Jordan Oliver vs Simon Gotch
Someone else who has caught the attention of CONTRA Unit is Jordan Oliver.
The Injustice starlet and GCW regular began calling out CONTRA’s Simon Gotch, goading him week after week saying he is better than him and has already surpassed him in in the wrestling world. Oliver has also hinted at a future shot at Jacob Fatu’s world title, but his main focus throughout lockdown has been the former Vaudevillian, Gotch. And recently their one-sided war of words became physical as, during this week’s rant, Oliver was jumped by Gotch and choked out in another example of CONTRA’s physical response to people calling them out.
Watch out for Oliver and Injustice’s revenge in the weeks to come while we build to their inevitable one-on-one battle. With both competitors backed up by their own stablemates this one could explode into all sorts of gang warfare.
Face turn for Myron Reed and Injustice?
Speaking of Injustice, is there a face turn for the faction on the horizon?
With CONTRA being well and truly cemented in the heel side of the locker room, could Jordan Oliver’s face-off with Simon Gotch lead to a default face turn for him and Myron Reed? It may very well be a case of who the fans dislike the most will automatically lead to cheers for the opponent, but the way Injustice and CONTRA have been acting recently it would be hard to boo Reed and Oliver, and/or cheer Gotch and co.
Myron Reed has been quite outspoken during lockdown. The current Middleweight champion has used the goings-on from the outside world to tie them into his promos and talk of himself as being the one to lead MLW into the future. He has called himself the GOAT and alluded to similarities between him and Muhammad Ali, but he has done it in a way that even though his swagger and arrogance is still as strong as it was, he has a purpose and direction now, and one that could very well lead to the fans appreciating his unbelievable talent, and therefore swing the boos to cheers as he joins Oliver in their fight against CONTRA.
Low Ki vs King Mo
The war of words between Mo and Ki has not died down. Ever since Dan Lambert got involved in their fight before lockdown and threw in the towel indicating Low Ki had given up, these two will eventually meet again when they can. Both have continued to bad mouth each other, with Mo calling Ki delusional, and Ki standing firm that he will be biding his time until he can meet Mo again. Ki even ruined a Team Filthy press conference before Fusion filming stopped which only angered Mo, Lambert and the rest of Team Filthy. As Low Ki and Mo set for battle, one can only imagine that Tom Lawlor, Erick Stevens and Dominic Garrini will be backing up their camp-mate and could lead to future clashes for Ki.
“Filthy” Tom Lawlor and Dominic Garrini vs Marshall and Ross Von Erich
Speaking of Tom Lawlor, it seems that his feud with the Von Erich brothers is far from over.
In between his trips to NJPW, Lawlor has spent weeks now trying to one-up the brother’s father Kevin Von Erich, but each week the Team Filthy leader has come up short, with even Lawlor’s own children letting him know they prefer Marshall and Ross to him.
All joking aside, Lawlor and Garrini also have their sights set on the Von Erich’s tag team gold and a match between the four is an inevitability. We have yet to have a blow-off match from when Lawlor turned his back on Ross during his title fight against Jacob Fatu, so a tag or singles match could be the very place, especially if they make the most of the Von Erich popularity the next time they tape in Texas… or perhaps the heavily rumoured Fight Island in Hawaii might also be an optional destination?
Salina de la Renta is back!
The impresaria returned during lockdown and has kept her cards close to her chest with regards to her future plans in MLW. With Los Parks looking like they are going their own way, the future looks bleak for Promociones Dorado, but don’t try to tell Salina that. She has supposedly been in contact with Konnan about deals with AAA, and also been travelling to Puerto Rico to have meetings regarding IWA Puerto Rico, where Savio Vega told us all that “money talks”. And if we know or have learned anything about Salina de la Renta, money does not seem to be an issue.
Richard Holliday vs Savio Vega
Speaking of Savio Vega, his feud with Richard Holliday has not let up during lockdown either. An inevitable match-up between the pair is in the horizon after Holliday stole Vega’s Caribbean title (declaring himself the Caribbean champion), then even buying Vega’s childhood family home just to get one over the Puerto Rican legend. Vega retaliated by challenging Holliday to a match in Puerto Rico in the famous Estadio Roberto Clemente Walker, however, the Dynasty member politely declined citing cleanliness reasons. Whenever Vega is able to get his hands on Holliday, one thing will be for sure: he will be out for revenge for himself, his family, and the people of Puerto Rico. Vega will have a lot of pent up aggression ready for Holliday, so a hardcore match wouldn’t be out of the question, would it?
Mance Warner, Alexander Hammerstone, a Thunderdome cage, a wrestling bear… and a new World title challenger?
Before lockdown halted the progress of Mance Warner towards the National Openweight title, Old Mancer was in line to battle Hammerstone for the gold.
Warner had called out Hammerstone immediately after Mancer’s feud with Jimmy Havoc had ended, saying that he wanted MLW gold and though Hammerstone’s was the gold for him. In the weeks that followed ‘Hammer and Mancer brawled throughout buildings, Hammer took a face first drop into Alicia Atout’s birthday cake, and Mancer’s poor uncle took a right hand knock out courtesy of the reigning National Openweight champion.
But during the lockdown weeks these two have gone on slightly different paths: Hammerstone has been training and competing in bodybuilding competitions, while Warner has been trying to build a WCW style three-tiered Thunderdome cage… and wrestle a bear inside of it.
As long as Mancer has escaped any bear-related injuries during his lockdown scraps, he should be fit and well to be the first challenger for Hammerstone’s Openweight gold- a strap that he has held since June of 2019, making him the longest-reigning champion in modern MLW history. Can Mance Warner take the gold from Muscle Mountain? Once MLW is up and running we will surely find out.
But instead of concentrating on retaining his gold, Hammerstone seems more interested in getting more. On the most recent Pulp Fusion, whilst parading around his bodybuilding trophies from the recent “Hammerstone Invitational”, ‘Hammer laid out a challenge to Jacob Fatu for the MLW World Heavyweight title. A mouthwatering collision if there ever was one, and could MLW be the next company to have a double champion on their roster?
Calvin Tankman is coming!
A new face will be seen when MLW Fusion tapes again: Calvin Tankman has arrived with quite the fanfare, and if his reputation is anything to go by, the MLW fans will be amazed by the high flying 350lb powerhouse. Dives, running shooting star presses, powerbombs, suplexes, Tankman can do it all. He also has the size to compete against Jacob Fatu, an attribute not a lot of the roster can proclaim. If Tankman can make an immediate impact then a title showdown between the two juggernauts of MLW will no doubt send shockwaves throughout the promotion.
Where are the Hart Foundation?
Conspicuous by their absences, Brian Pillman Jr and Davey Boy Smith Jr have been quiet during lockdown (for MLW anyway). We have seen Pillman show up on recent episodes of AEW Dark, going up against the likes of Brian Cage, Shawn Spears and FTR, but we have yet to hear from them in MLW or on Pulp Fusion.
Before lockdown, Pillman was scheduled to face Jordan Oliver in a hair vs hair match, and Smith was lined up for a future world title shot at Jacob Fatu, both of which have now been sidelined. Is this the end for the pair? Or will they be going their separate ways once MLW opens back up? Pillman seems like he is set to continue with AEW while they hold shows, so would that leave the MLW door even more open for Smith to burst through and take the top spot from Fatu? I guess only time will tell, but Pillman definitely has unfinished business in MLW.
Whatever the future holds for MLW, one thing for sure is that they have been able to keep storylines going without a full weekly TV show, something that they should get major plaudits for. In these strange times, they have made the most of the opportunities that they have while keeping their talent as safe as possible. The self-recorded promos have given the talent a chance to express themselves, call out some opponents, and keep their faces and storylines on our screens. All while staying home, staying safe and doing their bit to help suppress any spread of infection.
Whenever they are ready to tape again, Court Bauer and his crew will be ready to showcase the great roster of talent that MLW has at the moment and their charismatic stars ready will be able to explode to the wider world once more.
You can catch MLW streaming anytime, anywhere on DAZN, Youtube and FITE tv, on Saturday nights in the US and Canada on Bein sports, as well as on FreeSports on Monday nights in the UK.