The Big Takeaways:
A smoke-filled Gilt nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was the venue for two MLW title matches as Myron Reed successfully defended the Middleweight title against Brian Pillman Jr. while World Champion Jacob Fatu retained his title against Davey Boy Smith Jr.
After seven long months, MLW finally returned with new episodes of Fusion called #TheRestart.
F4W’s own "Filthy" Tom Lawlor was a major part of the opening video montage as a collection of modern and historical footage kicked off the show. From Joey Styles opening the package with 2003's MLW Underground, it went on a journey through some of the champions including Satoshi Kojima, Steve Corino, Low Ki, Lawlor and Jacob Fatu.
We then saw the tirade of chaos that Fatu’s CONTRA stable caused throughout MLW in more recent times. There was a shimmer of hope as a recent uprising from Injustice, the Von Erichs, Los Parks and the Dynasty tested CONTRA’s resolve and set the scene for tonight’s return to action.
National Openweight Champion Alex Hammerstone defeated Jason Dugan in a non-title match (:20)
Rich Bocchini and Jared St. Laurent's welcome was longer than the opening match. Hammer hammered poor Dugan with a clothesline and the Nightmare Pendulum and then called out Fatu. Hammerstone has been number 1 in the MLW rankings for weeks and now he wants his title shot. In a nice new feature, a clock and namebar shows the fighters in action, very similar to UFC.
Middleweight Champion Myron Reed (w/ Jordan Oliver) defeated Brian Pillman Jr. to retain (11:17)
Before the hiatus, Injustice (Reed and Jordan Oliver) had jumped Pillman in a parking lot and slammed his skull through a cinder block. Their bad blood dates back to December 2019 but they finally clashed here with the Middleweight gold on the line. As Pillman showed up in AEW earlier in the year, his absence was noticed during the Pulp Fusion episodes that helped keep the storylines ticking during the lockdown. That was until he made a shocking steel chair laden return in early autumn to put the rumors of he and Davey Boy Smith Jr leaving MLW to bed.
Reed said he wanted to beat some respect into Pillman and called him a clown during recent episodes of Pulp Fusion. Pillman didn’t do his reputation any favors by delaying his entrance and letting his music play three times before he eventually came out to challenge for the title he has been saying he deserves.
One of the main stories of the match was the slow face turn for Reed. He took to the sky early with a dive to the floor as the commentary team talked up his outspoken stance during the lockdown, hinting that a face turn is on the horizon due to what he has been standing for in his local Louisville, KY, community. In stark comparison, it was Pillman who continually tried to ground the high flying Reed as the commentators talked up his cocky and arrogant nature as of late.
Reed continued his babyface actions by removing his chest protector he wore during his heel run before the hiatus. He later nipped up, fired up, and made a courageous babyface style comeback.
They traded top rope springboard near falls as Pillman hit his crossbody before Reed hit his cutter. The finish came when Reed pulled his chest protector in the way of Pillman’s running knee in the corner and finished him off with the Captain Crunch (Celtic Cross / Emerald Fusion).
It was a nice little throwback to remind us of his heelish past, but Reed showed signs of a future babyface run here. Reed called out one of MLW’s newest signings, Lio Rush, after the match and wants him as his next challenger.
-- The 2020 Opera Cup brackets were revealed: Tom Lawlor vs. Rocky Romero, Laredo Kid vs ACH, Low Ki vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr., and Richard Holliday vs TJP. Alternates were also announced: Gino Medina, Jordan Oliver, Hijo de LA Park, King Mo, Dominic Garrini, and Daga. However, it wasn't explained how an alternate would work given the tourney formatting.
-- On the last Fusion episode before lockdown, CONTRA took over MLW headquarters in New York City and hold a firm grasp of control within the company. The reason they were able to take control so easily was they paid Salina de la Renta who let them into the building. Konnan brought us up to speed with this latest claim as we heard that Salina’s manager license was suspended. However, she will be on the show next week with a statement on her current situation.
MLW World Champion Jacob Fatu defeated Davey Boy Smith Jr. to retain (10:22)
The list of challengers for Fatu’s title slowly grew during lockdown as Jordan Oliver, LA Park, and Alex Hammerstone led the charge to be the first contender to challenge the reigning champ.
However, it was Davey Boy Smith Jr. who was granted the first title shot. Like his Hart Foundation stablemate Pillman, Smith’s absence during the first weeks of Pulp Fusion was noticed, but before lockdown, Smith was left in a bloodied heap at the bottom of a stairwell. When he was announced as Fatu’s first challenger, the hype for his revenge kicked into full gear.
A noticeably slimmer Fatu looked and moved great here, matching Smith in the power department in the early going, trading shoulder blocks, forearms and headbutts. The champion was on the receiving end of a trademark powerslam and delayed suplex within the first five minutes. Smith also got his knees up on Fatu’s handspring moonsault, showing he had been scouting him.
Fatu worked on Smith’s back when he was on offense, causing Smith to delay going for a pin attempt and having to really push through the pain to finally suplex the Samoan. Later, when going for his running powerslam finisher, he crumbled to the mat holding his back. Fatu grasped the opportunity and hit a Samoan drop and springboard double jump moonsault to pick up the win and retain his title.
Fatu took the mic after the match and called out Hammerstone, who came out to meet the champ face-to-face but was jumped by a new masked CONTRA assailant who chokeslammed him on the apron of the ring as Fusion went off the air.
The Opera Cup kicks off with two opening round matches: Tom Lawlor vs Rocky Romero and Richard Holliday vs TJP.