By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor
MLW Fusion Episode 04: “Filthy Fighting”
May 11, 2018 – Gilt Nightclub – Orlando, FL
The views and opinions expressed herein are those solely of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of the rest of the human race.
Before we get underway, a quick note about how this will go. If you’re here for play-by-play, star ratings, or discussions about booking or finishes, you’re in the wrong house. Our tagline here at The Gorilla Position is, “Telling the stories of pro wrestling’s storytellers.” That is how the matches will be recapped – not move-for-move, but the story being told in the ring. Also, this is a live event, not Game of Thrones. There are spoilers here insofar as results.
With that out of the way, as Tony Schiavone would say, “Let’s go to the ring!”
Wowsers. It’s been more than six years since I’ve been able to recap an MLW television show. Remind me to tell you the story about I had an interview set up with Court Bauer at precisely the wrong time during the first iteration of MLW.
Jimmy Havoc opens with a taped promo about how he and Joey Janela bring out the best – and worst – in each other. Havoc promises blood later tonight.
Tony Schiavone and Rich Bocchini welcome us to let us know what we can expect this week, based on last week. Kinda like this:
“FILTHY” TOM LAWLOR (with Team Flthy – Seth Petruzelli and Simon Gotch) vs. ACH
Before the match, we see a quick ACH promo putting Team FIlthy down for their cowardice last week. According to ACH, MMA stands for “Mixed Martial Asshats.” Heh. He’s not bad at this talking thing when he’s given a chance.
Lawlor keeps sitting and/or laying down and giving ACH “free shots,” but then confounding with chokes and tie-ups. ACH keeps escaping and countering with his aerial razzle-dazzle. The subplot is style vs style – aerial vs MMA – but the story is Lawlor being a dick while ACH wants to prove he’s better. Lawlor brings things to a halt via front chancery as he wants ACH to tap out, by hook or by crook. Bocchini is on point with the story beats, reminding us that most of Lawlor’s UFC wins were by submission.
Lawlor brings ACH to his “home turf” – the mat – but ACH is able to fight his way up to his feet and overwhelm Lawlor from all sides. However, Lawlor won’t stay down, showing some of the heart that an MMA competitor should have. ACH gets a little too fancy for his own good and Lawlor is back on the attack with suplexes and grappling. The rear naked choke nearly ends it, but the “H” in ACH stands for Heart. ACH fires back and the rest of Team Filthy senses trouble. They provide the distraction so Lawlor can finish the job.
Finish comes when ACH, distracted by Gotch and Petruzelli, is nailed in the back of the head by Lawlor’s cast on his injured arm. The pin afterward is academic. As tony said here, “Great contrast in styles.” He’s not wrong. Pretty solid stuff from these 2. Would love to see what they can do with a little more time.
MLW World Champion Shane Strickland and Salina De La Renta in back. Strickland tells De La Renta he’s not hard to find and Pentagon proves thi by sneaking up on him and spitting mist in Strickland’s eyes! Schiavone and Bocchini fear for the champ’s eyesight as we go to break.
Back from break, Strickland having eyes washed out with water. Swear one of the agents looks like Zack Sabre Jr…
MAXWELL JACOB FRIEDMAN vs. FRED YEHI
MJF is a rich douchebag. Fred Yehi is “short, angry and pissed off.” This should be a lot of fun.
Yehi starts off out-wrestling the snot out of MJF, who keeps having to bail and regain his bearings. MJF starts using his size to gain a momentary advantage, but Yehi shows his sadism by stomping on the arm of NJF as he drops down. MJF keeps trying to use size and chicanery and Yehi keeps countering with a balance of straight wrestling and mean spirits. The running theme is whether or not MJF can connive his way ahead of Yehi and seems to do by taking advantage of his surroundings, wrenching Yehi’s arm across the top rope.
MJF’s attack on the arm is relentless and almost fair. There’s some skill to go with the underhandedness. Yehi is able to gut his way through the pressure on his arm and strike his way back on top, using knees and feet to knock MJF damn-near unconscious. MJF is resilient, which just seems to make Yehi angrier. But MJF takes advantage of that and resorts to duplicity.
Finish comes when MJF heads off a corner attack from Yehi by pulling the referee in the way. As the referee frees himself, MJF gouges Yehi’s eyes and holds the tights for the pinfall victory. MJF took enough of a whipping here but overcame like the true heel he is. Nice dynamic between the two.
Post-match, MJF steals a chair from a fan to sit while he brags about his superior skill to the audience, telling them they boo him out of jealousy. MJF shows again that he’s not the villain we need, but the one we deserve.
Back from break, we get a recap of last week when Sami Callihan choked out MVP with a baseball bat at the beginning of the show. Callihan is on the mic now and informs us he is creating an army to take over EVERYTHING. The stranger from last week (who looks an awful like PJ Friedman, no relation) appears at his side. So Impact Wrestling isn’t the only place he’s raising hell, it seems.
Earlier toay, MLW CEO Court Bauer announced that MLW is headed to New York. Earlier tonight, Pentagon blinded MLW World Champion Shane Strickland. Since Pentagon was the #1 Contender, MLW officials have announced that, because of the attack on Strickland, he’ll have to fight for that honor a second time and take on Fenix to regain that spot next week. Nice touch here to show that unwarranted attacks aren’t just excused like they would be a promotion that doesn’t take this stuff as seriously. A little realism goes a long way.
JOEY JANELA (with Aria Blake) vs. JIMMY HAVOC – Bogus Adventure Match
Tony Schiavone informs us of the rules of of a “Bogus Adventure” match – no disqualification, no count-out, there must be a winner. Seems simple enough. I can’t help but feel that Blake coming out with him for such an encounter may be a mistake. Time will tell.
Both open the proceedings by kicking each other simultaneously. A couple times. Before taking the fight outside. Ye olde “2 guys who hate each other” brawl ensues as Janela finds multiple uses with the same chair. Janela is lackadaisical about the first cover but keeps the pressure on after Havoc kicks out. A manly battle of knife-edge chops gives way to Havoc taking over with wrestling moves (!). Havoc pulls the plunder from under the ring – including a door – and Bocchini is all over the Bill & Ted references.
Although this seems to be a contest of one-upsmanship with weapons and brutality, the conflict here is Janela’s innovation with chairs versus Havoc’s cruelty. Janela takes a right turn, though, in painting a bull’s-eye on Havoc’s ribs. Take away a man’s ability to breathe and he’s done for. Havoc has a better idea, though – take away a man’s consciousness and you get the same result. Janela seems to have it won with a package piledriver on a set of chairs, but Havoc is a tough bastard who can make a hell of a comeback when needed.
Finish comes when Havoc hits a hellacious combo on Janela that includes – in order – a shotgun dropkick that puts Janela through the aforementioned door, a Death Valley Driver on to the aforementioned stack of chairs, and a ripcord lariat as the coup-de-grace. Not a bad brawl. For the record, Havoc’s promise of blood was unfulfilled.
Havoc leaves through the back and (literally) bumps into Team Filthy. All three take exception and gang up on Havoc outside of Gilt Nightclub. Apparently the attack was for Havoc getting blood on Lawlor’s outfit. But I didn’t see any…?
Fusion is proving to be a decent character showcase for guys we see on the independents but very rarely elsewhere. This may sound weird, but having less matches on the television shows may give guys a better chance at showcasing what they can do, both on a mic and in a ring. It’s a minor complaint for what looks to be a show still getting its footing. We’re four weeks in, after all. There’s plenty of time and room for growth, both on television and elsewhere.
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MLW Fusion TV Taping – Tag Team Titles to be decided on June 7, 2018 in Orlando, FL! Buy your tickets here!