1.Bunkhouse Brawl: Team Filthy vs Von Erichs ***
2.KC Navarro vs Gino Medina **3/4
3.Davey Richards vs TJP ***1/4
The show that originally was promised to start airing during August has finally launched. It's almost funny but at a time when pro wrestling is increasingly becoming competitive, with AEW alone producing over five hours of content a week, MLW has seemingly decided they'd prefer to drop some goodwill and trust that fans have for them. They've done a few acts this year alone that sound more like the normal behavior of lucha libre companies than one promoting themselves as a major US brand.
It is what it is. I want every company to do well, but MLW really makes it hard to root for them.
Anyway, lets go ahead and check out the spinoff. They clearly are hoping to grab the attention of fans at home that are waiting for Dynamite: Grand Slam to start at 8. It ran over a bit so anyone that might have been doing that likely cut out before the show finished.
The show begins with Dario C...I mean, Cesar Duran greeting us with the promise of violence as he runs down the card. You can admittedly see the difference between how Lucha Underground handled the actor and how MLW is going to.
Match one, after Lawlor cut a cheap heat promo, was a chaotic bunkhouse brawl. Music played over the opening stretch before someone finally realized that they should cut it off. It was a giant mess but also pretty fun. If you like the old ECW style you'll like this.
They ran clips from Battle Riot and promoted Fightland's big champion vs champion match.
They then promoted the new women's...featherweight division. It really should have been openweight. I mean, they finally are launching a women's division while also making a statement that feels like something a frat boy would say.
"No fat chicks."
Something like that.
The main event was promoted with backstage promos and then we were reminded again of Fightland and then again that the opener participants were still brawling backstage.
Sea Stars, Brittany Blake, Zoey Skye, Willow Nightingale, and Nicole Savoy are announced for the featherweight division.
Instead of seeing the brawl, we then move to Cesar looking at a painting of himself. A CONTRA logo appears for a moment and then Cross interrupts. They shared a moment.
Fatu vs Hammerstone is once again promoted.
They didn't have footage to air. Instead, we're told about it and that Lawler was sent to Cesar's office. Maybe he'll get detention.
It looks like the new LAX already has had their name changed to 5150.
Alex Kane is promoted for next week. What the fuck happened to the tapings they did with The CRASH?
KC and Media worked a solid midcard match. Not much meat there, but it was good for a throwaway filler match.
Josef warned Hammerstone in a recorded package.
Richards was promoted and had a promo aired.
They promoted Fatu vs Hammerstone for the 100th time.
Lawler came in and had a chat with Cesar. It ended with Lawler vs Hammerstone being announced.
The main event was good tech-heavy stuff, though perhaps a little rough around the edges at times. Davey had just worked a small handful of matches prior to this one and then nothing else since 2017, so that's impressive. He won which was the right move.
The installment ended with a graphic promoting this year's Opera Cup and the participants. For those that care, they are Fish, Richards, Shelley, Cross, TJP, Lawlor, Moriarty, and Tankman. I have no idea if Moriarty will actually be able to participate unless they're going to use the match he had with Tankman on this set of tapings for that situation.
So, I've been a bit negative throughout but admittedly MLW has done a lot over the years since their return to make me feel a bit jaded. They promote matches that should rock and then the quality if far from expectations. They promote announcements that never come. They announce this show, Fusion: Alpha, as debuting in August, say literally nothing, and then later release it at the end of September. Alpha doesn't feel at all different than normal Fusion, either. Sure, Cesar is there, playing what feels a bit like a watered down version of Dario, but what else is truly different?
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I will say that this episode had a lot to like, too. As an old ECW dude, I enjoyed the bunkhouse brawl more than most might. The midcard worked for what it was and I really like seeing Richards back.
So, while I cannot recommend this episode of wrestling outright, I want to still give MLW credit for at least delivering a decent hour of action, warts and all. I likely won't be watching too many full episodes after this one, but I'll make time for the bigger matches.
Overall Rating: 65/100%