Photo credit- MLW
After months of anticipation following their most recent hiatus, Major League Wrestling is BACK and in a big way. 40 men will enter the ring for a shot at an MLW World Title Match. There will be surprises, shock and spectacle over the next hour. Who will reign supreme over 39 other competitors? Let’s find out!
MUST WATCH: Cesar Duran (formally known as Dario Cueto) comes to the ring to address the crowd. He talks about the historical wrestling significance of Philadelphia and its extreme love of violence and says that this could potentially be a good place to build his new temple. Duran welcomes back his believers and brags about his past accomplishments, promoting the best luchas and introducing the best luchadors over the past century and says that he will continue doing this in MLW under the banner of Azteca Underground. Cesar also says that he reached a deal with Court Bauer to become MLW’s newest official matchmaker. However, he is interrupted by Jordan Oliver and Myron Reed of INJUSTICE, who say that they want an MLW tag team title shot. However they are also interrupted by Konnan who introduces the newest edition of LAX composed of Dr. Julius Smokes, Rivera (formally known as Danny Limelight) and Slice Boogie. Konnan says that LAX deserves a title shot against Los Parks, but they get into an argument with INJUSTICE. The two teams begin to brawl until LAX get the upper hand and take out INJUSTICE. Overall, a fantastic way to start the show. The long awaited return of Dario Cueto (now Cesar Duran) to the wrestling world is an amazing sight for any fan of Lucha Underground. The debut of a new version of LAX is huge for an already stacked MLW tag division and a feud between LAX and INJUSTICE should be very fun.
GREAT: Alicia Atout is backstage with the tumbler that will determine the numbers for the competitors in the Battle Riot match later tonight. Atout introduces her first guest, one of the newest signings to MLW, “The Judge” EJ Nduka. EJ picks his number but before he gets a chance to properly say anything, the feed is interrupted by CONTRA Unit. Josef Samael talks about how fans have been anxiously waiting for the new era of MLW, but what they weren’t expecting is a new season of terror. Mads Krueger says that the black flag of CONTRA will hang triumphantly after CONTRA conquers Battle Riot. I’m a bit disappointed that EJ didn’t get a chance to say anything in his MLW debut considering he’s a really good talker and comes across as very comfortable and charismatic, but his performance later tonight certainly makes up for that ten fold. However, with that being said this was still a really good segment. It gave the MLW fans a brief little introduction to EJ Nduka and reminded the fans of the terror that CONTRA Unit delivers onto the MLW roster.
GOOD: Rich Bocchini and Saint Laurent introduce a new mini series coming to MLW known as MLW Fusion: Alpha. While not much is known about what exactly the show is, the hype package hints that it will involve Azteca Underground in some capacity. I’m really interested to see what MLW does with this new mini series.
GREAT: Alicia Atout is back at the tumbler again, this time with Team Filthy’s Kevin Ku and “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. Lawlor and Ku continuously spin the tumbler to the point where it annoys Alicia, but Lawlor says that this takes proper technique to do correctly. He also reinforces the point that he was the first ever winner of the Battle Riot, so no one should doubt him or his strategies as he is on track to become the first ever two time winner. Ku seems to get an ok number, but Tom’s on the other hand might not be what he expected. He says this number might be good for a “practice run” to which Alicia reinforces that everyone only gets one shot in the match. Nduka shows up once again, saying that the Judge is in the building and that Team Filthy is going down. Tom hilariously retorts by saying that this isn’t a courthouse and asks what EJ is even the judge of. He also hilariously points out that his name literally has the word “law” in it. EJ says that Lawlor can find out right now or he can find out in the Battle Riot. However, Team Filthy runs away before anything can happen. Overall, a really fun segment. Lawlor plays the hilarious prick perfectly and EJ was showcased really well here as opposed to earlier. Here he got a chance to talk and look intimidating and Team Filthy put him over well by being afraid.
MUST WATCH: Up next is the long awaited 40 man Battle Riot match. First up is another long awaited return, the return of the “American Wolf” Davey Richards in at number one. Really awesome seeing Davey finally back in a wrestling ring once again. At number two is Tom Lawlor, confirming everyone’s suspicions of Lawlor having a terrible number. For the sake of not making this terribly long I will not go through every individual number, but rather give notable highlights throughout the match. Number 4 was the debut of Lee Moriarty who had a really impressive first showing in MLW, showing off his unique repertoire known as “Taiga Style.” Kit Osbourne comes out at number 5 to The Von Erich’s theme, continuing his gimmick of Rip Von Erich while simultaneously swerving the crowd. A fun spot. Number 8 saw another MLW debut, this time from Arez. Arez is a highly talented luchador who showcases his “strange style” of wrestling and this match was no exception. Number 10 is Zenshi, who had an absolutely phenomenal showing in this match, having several Kofi Kingston- esque spots like being flung onto the announce table by Calvin Tankman and hanging his feet on the barricade. Number 11 is another debut in Aramis, another amazing luchador to enter the match. Number 12 is another MLW debut with American Top Team’s newest member Alex Kane. This man is absolutely fantastic. His wide array of suplexes is highly impressive and makes him come across as superbly legit. This man even suplexed the 300+ pound Tankman with EASE. Alex Kane is definitely gonna be a man to watch out for in MLW going forward. Number 13 is the Middleweight champion Myron Reed. Reed is another amazingly underrated talent in MLW, his high-flying array of moves being some of the best I’ve seen in a long time from a non luchador. Number 16 is the debut of the Beastman, who outside of a fun standoff with Tankman didn’t really do much in this match. Numbers 17 and 18 are members of LAX, who bring a shopping cart of weapons to the ring. It’s nice seeing weapons finally being used in the match considering the show is in Philadelphia. Slice Boogie puts Reed and Oliver through a wooden door, continuing their feud that started earlier tonight rather nicely. LAX also delivered the first elimination of the match, eliminating Savio Vega much to the chagrin of the crowd. Number 19 is the MLW return of Matt Cross, who some people may know better in Lucha Underground as Son of Havoc. Tom Lawlor is eliminated not too long after by Davey Richards. At number 22 is the debut of “The Judge” EJ Nduka. If there was ever a man to call the MVP of this match, it is 100% EJ Nduka. Talk about a breakout performance in this match. Nduka comes in and immediately eliminates Beastman with a thunderous clothesline over the top rope, making it look easy to eliminate a 350+ pounder.
Nduka goes on to set a Battle Riot record and eliminates 12 men in this match. At number 23 is a surprise entrant, Kim Chee! Yes, Kamala’s former handler Kim Chee. However, he doesn’t last more than a minute before he’s eliminated by Nduka. Number 24 is another surprise entrant, the debut of the “Outlandish” Zicky Dice, a notable wrestler on the independent circuit. Number 26 is the debut of KC Navarro, another amazing young star in MLW that’s gonna be a big player one day. Number 27 is another surprise debut, Lance Anoa’i. A decent showing for Lance in this match but nothing too notable. I do hope MLW ends up signing him, he would be a good get for them. Tankman and Nduka come to blows and try to eliminate each other, however they’re both eventually eliminated by LAX. INJUSTICE then eliminates Rivera and Boogie, but are pulled out themselves by a vengeful LAX. I’m really looking forward to this LAX and INJUSTICE feud. Number 28 is LA Park, who’s looking a bit slimmer than usual. Park hits several of the participants with a chair until he is subsequently unmasked to reveal that it’s actually Tom Lawlor in disguise! Lawlor is then eliminated quickly thereafter. This was a fantastic spot that genuinely no one in the crowd saw coming. We were all fooled into thinking it was the real LA Park. From this point on, the entrances of CONTRA unit members like Samael, Simon Gotch and Ikuro Kwon creates a great story for the duration of the match as the numbers game proves too great for the MLW roster. CONTRA have several gruesome spots like Daivari choking Navarro with the CONTRA flag and hanging him from the ropes with it and he and Gotch actually waterboarding competitors with the flag as well. Number 31 is the most notable surprise in the match, the Blue Meanie! Really nice seeing an ECW original in the match and Meanie got a great reaction from the Philadelphia faithful. At number 35 is the odds on favorite to win the match, the National Openweight champion Alexander Hammerstone. Hammer comes in and cleans house, demolishing the various members of CONTRA. The final surprise entrant is at number 37 with Kwang! A fun little New Generation era surprise for the match. The final entrant is the Black Hand of CONTRA Mads Krueger. The story of the match from this point on becomes Hammerstone vs CONTRA, Hammer being hell bent on winning Battle Riot to get his long awaited world championship match against Jacob Fatu. Mads Krueger continues to clean house as well, eventually leading to Krueger vs Hammerstone in the final two. A really fun back and forth but ultimately Hammerstone emerges victorious after clotheslining Krueger out. Hammerstone wins the Battle Riot and this was 100% the right decision. Hammerstone becoming World champion is the absolute right move going forward and the crowd reaction Hammer got should signify that. Post match, Hammerstone poses like Hulk Hogan and has a stare off with world champion Jacob Fatu to end the show. Overall, a very fun and enjoyable match. A lot of great in-ring action, pleasant surprises, great ways to further existing feuds and create new ones and above all, the absolutely perfect winner. The only minor complaint I have with the match is that sometimes the production work wasn’t the best, sometimes almost missing important spots or eliminations in general. However, the addition of an entrance camera while not leaving the in-ring action is a great addition.
Result: Alex Hammerstone won after throwing Mads Krueger over the top rope.
John Cerenzio WR Star Rating: 4.25 stars
Overall, this was a very enjoyable show from top to bottom and a great first installment for Major League Wrestling after a three month hiatus. A great opening segment with Cesar Duran riled up the crowd as only Duran can and the debut of a new LAX is a major get for the MLW tag team division. The backstage segments were very enjoyable as well, showcasing good promos from EJ Nduka, Josef Samael and Tom Lawlor. While the show only had one match, you can’t go wrong with a royal rumble style match. A really fun match from top to bottom rich with great action, enjoyable surprises, hilarious spots and a perfect winner. The match had several MVP’s like Tom Lawlor for his hilarious antics and Alexander Hammerstone for being the perfect face to take down CONTRA. There were several great elimination saves from Zenshi, Davey Richards’ iron man performance was wonderful and the debut of EJ Nduka is one we’re gonna talk about for a while. A majorly successful return for Major League Wrestling.
Show Theme & Presentation: 6/10
Storyline Progression: 8/10
Crowd Reaction: 9/10
Overall show rating: 8.3/10