This was the second-to-last MLW Underground ever, good timing as the company prepares for their next TV taping this Saturday. This look back at 2004 saw Bryan Danielson made his MLW debut against Teddy Hart while The Stampede Bulldogs clashed with The Havana Pitbulls in tag team action.
Los Maximos defeated Norman Smiley and Julius Smokes
Smokes put down the commentary headpiece for a week to make his in-ring debut here alongside “Black Magic." Smiley interspersed a bit of “wiggle” comedy between some crisp offense early on. Smokes got his shots in too, including dropkicking Smiley in the back while he held a Maximo for a power slam.
The Maximos fought back and similar to their last MLW appearance, their offense was mostly ground based. The commentary team played up their recent defeats and questioned that another loss tonight would be the end of their MLW run.
As the match broke down, Smiley got the hot tag which, of course, included a big wiggle. But “the new aggressive” Los Maximos hit Smokes with a chair behind the referee's back to help them pick up the win.
-- Backstage, Teddy Hart cut a very Teddy Hart promo talking about risking his life for everyone's entertainment. If people hate him, he hates them more, but if they love him, he loves them back. He talked about bringing in a new Hart Foundation and mentioned Bret and Owen Hart by name, saying he had Bret's permission to use the name and his catchphrase. Hart's character is certainly an interesting one. He has all the looks and moves of a cocky heel, but what he said, for the most part, is that of a fiery babyface.
The Stampede Bulldogs (Harry Smith and TJ Wilson) defeated The Havana Pitbulls (Rocky Romero & Ricky Reyes) in the finals of the GTC Carnival Tag Team tournament
The Pitbulls attacked the originally scheduled opponents as they were making their way to the ring to kick off the Global Tag Carnival final earlier than expected, not that anyone was complaining.
This was really good and you could tell these young wrestlers had a bright future ahead of them. The action did not slow down, was technically great, and was filled with a mix of styles. Wilson hit a great slingshot reverse DDT, Romero rocked the Bulldogs with some strong style strikes, Smith used his size and threw the Pitbulls around the ring before Reyes floored the Bulldogs with some suplexes.
The Pitbulls hit a modified Cuban Execution (substituting the knee drop for what looked like a blockbuster) for a near fall. Moments later, the Bulldogs got the upper hand and singled out Romero. They hit him with a Smith running powerslam and a Wilson top rope springboard elbow drop to pick up the tournament win.
-- The much anticipated and hyped MLW Champion Steve Corino vs. Shane Douglas match was built up throughout the show with a video montage opening the episode and multiple cutaways throughout the night where the announce team talked up “one of the biggest matches in MLW history." Interestingly they were also hyping up multiple matches that would take place at the next tapings inside a six-sided ring – a first for the USA they claimed. Those matches would ultimately not take place due to MLW shutting down.
Teddy Hart defeated Bryan Danielson
This was a technically excellent match which was only slightly confusing by the face/heel dynamic. Both characters appeared to be heels by the way they acted and how the announcers were portraying them, but Hart was wrestling as a face by getting sympathy as he was beaten down and pulling out exciting moves while firing up.
Danielson was fired up as he made his entrance, picking a fight with a fan in the front row. They started slowly exchanging holds and warming up the crowd for what would build to a raucous crescendo.
Hart's first high-flying attempt was blocked when he came off the top looking for a hurricanrana, Danielson kept his feet firmly on the mat, but Hart also landed on his feet and swiftly floored the American Dragon with an armbar takedown, starting his relentless arm based attack.
Danielson's strikes were stiff, echoing around the arena when his forearm connected with Hart's chest or jaw. He later ripped off half of Hart's baggy pants which only enraged Hart as he fired back and locked in a cross armbreaker.
Hart leapt off the top rope and spiked Danielson with a DDT before going up top again and hitting Open Hart Surgery -- a twisting corkscrew senton. Upon landing, he seemed to injure his left arm but still went up to the top once more.
Hart leapt off attempting a shooting star press, Danielson moved and immediately locked in Cattle Mutilation, but Hart quickly rolled through and locked in a Fujiwara armbar to get the surprise submission victory.
After the match, Hart did his tribute to Owen Hart by celebrating on the top rope and flipping back into the ring. This only angered Danielson as he was shouting and ordering him to leave the ring. After another flip, Danielson clobbered him with a shot to the back of the head and the two brawled to the back as Underground went off the air.
As I touched upon last week, Bauer's vision of MLW for 2004 was pretty clear from these last few episodes. There were plenty of young, fresh and very good talent on show and a lot of them getting strong pushes as the older generation was getting slowly phased out. The Stampede Bulldogs continued their tag team dominance while we saw a win for Hart against a very strong looking Danielson.
The bigger names would still be used to pull the crowds: Funk, Douglas, Sabu, etc., but the younger exciting talent were getting a chance and being showcased on MLW's weekly television show. Again, like last week, it's a real shame this version of MLW didn't get the chance to play out.