Still in their hiatus before July's live TV taping, MLW took another turn back to 2003 this week featuring a debuting Samoa Joe against former MLW World Champion Mike Awesome while Super Dragon debuted in the main event against Christopher Daniels.
Terry Funk opened the show and continued his feud with Steve Corino and build to their upcoming MLW title match. Footage was shown of Funk jumping Corino at the merchandise stand as the fans were entering the arena before tonight's show, busting Corino open with barbed wire before the other Horsemen eventually saved their leader.
Jimmy Yang defeated Juventud Guerrera in a J-Cup USA first round match
JOey Styles let us know that Yang had signed his WWE contract by the time this episode aired and mentioned if he won the tournament, he would still have to return to MLW every 30 days to defend or he would be stripped of the J-Cup crown.
After a smooth opening sequence of reversals and feints, the action picked up but stayed relatively grounded -- much more than you would imagine going into it. Maybe Yang's upcoming move to WWE was on his mind and he was not ready to take too many risks.
Gurrera hit a pair of tilt-a-whirls and spinning heel kicks and dropped Yang on his face with a power bomb dominator. Hard shots and chops back and forth followed, but a Juvi driver and a twisting fisherman's buster couldn't put Yang away.
Yang caught Guerrera with a dropkick out of nowhere and hit a Yang Time twisting splash off the top, his only high flying move of the match, for the win.
-- Backstage. Dr. Death Steve Williams hyped up his upcoming taped fist match with PJ Walker (Justin Credible), calling him a thorn in his side before Walker blindsided him with a superkick.
Mike Awesome defeated Samoa Joe
Earlier in the night, Awesome promised to power bomb Joe through a table over the top rope and smash a chair over his head. He got his chair shot in, but the table that was set up remained unbroken.
To keep up with the junior heavyweights, Awesome hit a suicide dive over the top rope landing on his feet. He later hit his slingshot shoulderblock to continue his heavyweight high flying. Joe hit some of his now signature moves: the uranage out of the corner, stiff front kicks and chops, an array of suplexes, and his jackknife pin into an STF.
Joe put up a good fight and kicked out of a sit-out Awesome Bomb but couldn't kick out after a top rope splash with a chair placed on his chest.
-- Vampiro was backstage with NOSAWA who announced himself as a Juggalo as he aligned with Vampiro. Later, CM Punk caught us up with the action we did not see. He said someone spiked NOSAWA's drink which caused him to lose a match to Raven. Vampiro then returned to MLW to save NOSAWA after the match, so a future Vampiro vs. Punk or a three-way with Raven should all be on the card soon.
-- The Extreme Horsemen, complete with new members Barry Windham and PJ Walker, cut a backstage promo announcing their expansion. We learned the Samoan Island Tribe will be facing Horsemen members CW Anderson and Simon Diamond soon for the Tag Team titles.
Christopher Daniels defeated Super Dragon in a J-Cup USA first round match
Dragon made his MLW debut and similar to the earlier J-Cup USA match, this started with some slick chain and mat wrestling before the action picked up with Dragon hitting a headscissors takeover from the top rope and a somersault suicide dive to the floor.
Daniels came back with a nice running jumping neckbreaker and a rolling neck snap. He stayed on top with a smooth slingshot legdrop from the apron. But he took too long on the top rope which gave Dragon time to run up and hit an armdrag from the top.
Daniels rolled through a Fujiwara armbar during Dragon's comeback. Dragon then locked in a cross armbreaker as he continued his focus on the arm, but Daniels stopped all momentum with a uranage out of the corner.
The finish came as Daniels had to grab the referee to block a German suplex. With him distracted, Daniels kicked back with a low blow. He then quickly hit his Last Rights (a rolling reverse DDT) to pick up the win to advance.
In what is becoming a regular and good occurrence on these shows, the junior heavyweight matches were fast, explosive, exciting and full of great technical moves that would still hold up in today's wrestling landscape -- very similar to the style of the early WCW Nitro episodes.
Daniels, Super Dragon, Guerrera and Yang all deserve credit for their showings. The matches weren't as high-flying as Sonjay Dutt vs, Yang for example, but still good action.
It was also great and really interesting to see a young blonde Samoa Joe sharpening his teeth before he was let loose in ROH and TNA a few years later.
The advertised Raven vs. NOSAWA match that CM Punk announced last week didn't air, but we were informed of the storyline progression involving Punk, Raven and Vampiro which was intriguing, to say the least.