When I heard that WWE was airing the Greatest Royal Rumble, I thought I was just going to see a replay of the 1992 Rumble. When the show started, I said to myself “This is not the Knickerbocker Arena. Something’s fishy.” My suspicions were confirmed when Triple H and John Cena came out for the first match instead of the The Orient Express and The New Foundation, so I turned it off and watched this week’s episode of MLW Fusion instead.
I totally just made up that story. I watched GRR and recorded Fusion, but after watching the five-hour commercial for Saudi Arabia, I wish I had just watched Fusion live instead.
Fusion’s second week offering starts with a video package highlighting the feud between Shane “Swerve” Strickland and Jimmy Havoc. Havoc has two wins over Strickland and tonight is Strickland’s night to redeem himself. Strickland says “Swerve is Confidence.” Well, I’m glad Swerve is Confidence because Havoc is Psychotic. The dude licked an axe blade.
The Dirty Blondes vs. Team TBD
Rich Bocchini and Mr. Multi-Year Deal Tony Schiavone welcome us to the show and send us to the ring where we see Colonel Rob Parker, who introduces The Dirty Blondes, Leo Brien and Michael Patrick. The Dirty Blondes are members of Parker’s newest version of the Stud Stable faction.
Team TBD, which includes Jason Cade and Jimmy (The Great) Yuta enter next. Cade and Brien start the match. We get some back story as the announcers mention that Cade was sent to a local medical facility- I’m sorry, a hospital- because of The Dirty Blondes.
The bell rings and Cade dropkicks Brien. He hits him with a forearm and tags in Yuta. They execute Poetry in Motion with Cade kneeing Brien in the face. Patrick is tagged in and Yuta locks him into a submission where he uses his feet to twist Patrick’s arms. Cade is tagged in and TBD does a backdrop/backflip combo onto Patrick.
Patrick sneaks a tag to Brien, who blindsides Cade. Brien pays tribute to Dusty Rhodes with a Bionic Elbow. Upon closer examination, it looks like someone took Dusty’s body from the 80s and put Brien’s head on top of it. Eerie. Patrick is tagged in and the Blondes hit a double Bionic Elbows followed by a quick succession of elbow drops.
The announcers mention that there will be an upcoming tournament to crown the first ever MLW Tag Team Champions.
Brien uses some rest holds on Cade. Cade makes a comeback with a bicycle kick and a jumping neckbreaker. Brien tags in Patrick while Cade makes the hot tag to Yuta, who knocks down Patrick with a springboard overhead chop. He dropkicks Brien and chops Patrick some more. Patrick reverses an Irish whip, but Yuta flips over the top rope, kicks Patrick, and hits him with a diving crossbody. Brien breaks up the pin.
All four guys are in the ring now. Brien gets sent to the outside and Cade lands on him with a slingshot tope suicida. In the ring, Yuta runs to the ropes but Parker trips him. Patrick attacks with an elbow drop to the back of Yuta’s head, and that’s all it takes to get the three count and the victory for The Dirty Blondes. Wow. An elbow drop? Hey, they don’t all have to be One Winged Angels and Red Arrows.
Bocchini says that he’s “sure” Colonel Robert Parker got involved to help The Blondes win the match. Well, if he’s a heel manager, he probably did. Plus, instant replayed revealed Parker’s interference. So did watching it in real-time.
Ultimo Ninja vs. Garza Jr.
Last week we got two brothers fighting in Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix. This week, we get a “clash of cousins” between Ultimo Ninja and Garza Jr. What’s with all these luchadores fighting their own family members? It took Owen Hart kicking Bret’s leg out of his leg for the Hitman to agree to fight his brother. These guys just say “You want me to beat up my own flesh and blood? Okay.”
Ultimo Ninja comes out first. Well, I’ll be. I thought the only Ultimo out there was a dragon.
Salina de la Renta comes out next, escorted by two security guards. Following her is her charge, Garza Jr. Garza is wearing shoulder tape. He also looks like he has huge birth marks on his back, but Schiavone informs us that they are marks from suction cups that were used during Garza’s physical therapy.
The match starts with some showing followed by a quick succession of leapfrogs and counters. The two have a stand-off before more action ensues. Ninja hits a handspring back elbow and some kicks. Bocchini informs us that Garza trains in an underwater tank with an octopus. I’ve heard they’re good sparring partners.
Ninja does the “Shh” knife edge chop spot. The crowd chants for one more, but Ninja doesn’t deliver and instead opts for a spinning heel kick. Garza gets in a pair of flying clotheslines. Ninja comes running at him put Garza puts his hand up and yells “Stop!” Then, he does his best Magic Mike impression and rips off his pants to reveal his man parts. Just kidding. He’s wearing red trunks. He throws the pants in the air and Ninja tries to catch them, which leaves him open for a superkick. Garza covers for two.
Garza brings Ninja down with a double underhook slam. He puts Ninja into the tree of woe and connects with a running kick. Schiavone says “Woe, that connected.” Earn that multi-year money, Tony.
Eventually, Ninja is able to send Garza to the outside and flies with an over the top rope tope suicida onto his opponent. The ref starts a 20 count but both men make it back inside.
The announcers talk about how Garza is a rudo (heel) and Ninja is a tecnico (face). Is that considered breaking kayfabe? Do the announcers in CMLL or AAA openly talk about which guys are rudos or tecnicos? I just know that it would be weird for me to hear Michael Cole refer to The Miz as a heel in the midst of calling a match, but maybe that kind of thing is normal in lucha libre.
Ninja bodyslams Garza, which sets him up to execute a backwards somersault into a standing moonsault, which gets a two-count. Garza gets control of the match with a front dropkick, a wheelbarrow double knee gutbuster, and a headbutt. He tries to do the “Shh” knife edge chop spot as well, but the sound the chop makes is underwhelming. He goes for a monkey flip, but Ninja lands on his feet and knocks Garza down with a spinning kick to the back of the head.
Ninja goads Garza into charging at him but moves at the last second, causing his opponent to run into the ring post. Ninja climbs to the top and hits a missile dropkick. They trade pins before trading Rings of Saturn submission holds. Garza gets it on second. Ninja escapes and kicks Garza in the face. Both men are down.
They get back to their feet. Garza pushes Ninja into the ropes, where de la Renta snatches his mask right off his head. Ninja covers his face, giving Garza the opportunity to pin him with an O’Connor roll for the win. Ninja lies on the mat with a towel wrapped around his face while Garza kisses his manager’s hand.
We get a recap of the awesome main event between Pentagon and Fenix from last week. Pentagon earned a shot at Shane Strickland and the World Heavyweight Championship, which is taking place at the May 3 “Intimidation Games” TV taping.
Next is a video package for “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. He says that there is only one star currently in UFC and professional wrestling, and that’s him. Well, Tom, you’re currently suspended from one sport and the other sport you’re in is fake, so I guess your assertion is bunk. The video is also rife with highlights from his training sessions, which includes punching his trainees in the balls. I don’t know if that’s the best way to recruit prospective students.
Rob Parker is interviewed backstage, flanked by The Dirty Blondes. He talks about how he’s managed and had a hand in the success of some of wrestling’s biggest names, including Steve Austin, Sid Vicious, and Harlem Heat. Now, he’s going to do the same for The Dirty Blondes.
MVP cuts a promo on Sami Callahan, his opponent next week. He says that wins and losses matter and he needs to climb MLW’s ranking system. He made a promise to his son to be a good role model and one way he can do that is by winning the MLW World Heavyweight Title. The promo ends with MVP saying that no matter what you’ve done in the past, there’s always redemption. Well, if Impact stays in business, perhaps there WILL always be Redemption.
Shane “Swerve” Strickland vs. “England’s Most Dangerous Man” Jimmy Havoc
We get a second video package for the main event. Strickland says he’s still here, even after losing to Havoc twice. Havoc says Strickland just doesn’t know when to quit. We see Havoc’s handiwork from his hardcore match with Swerve, including putting the champ through a table and double stomping a barbed wired chair on him. Strickland ends the hype video by saying he will beat Havoc and win the MLW World Heavyweight Championship. Wait, isn’t he already the champion?
The tale of the tape analyzes the two competitors’ fighting styles before going back to the arena.
Strickland comes out first. He’s not announced as the World Champion nor is he wearing a title belt, so this must have been recorded before he won the championship. Ring announcer Tim Barr proclaims Strickland as being from Tacoma but the chyron says Seattle. Maybe I’m nit-picking, but I like consistency.
On a side note, I like Strickland’s theme song, “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan and Rufus.
Havoc comes out next sporting a muzzle. Strickland better hope Havoc isn’t hungry.
The match starts and Strickland comes out of the gate with a running boot to the face. Havoc answers back with an elbow smash and a short-arm lariat. He comes at Strickland, who counters with a knee strike and a top rope basement dropkick. He stomps Havoc in the corner and locks in a submission where he hooks both of Havoc’s arms with his legs, bending the right arm back. Havoc screams that his arm “doesn’t bend that way!” I don’t think the hold would be as effective if he bent it the correct way, Jimmy.
Strickland lets the move go. He whips Havoc into the corner but it’s reversed. Havoc charges but Swerve gets a boot up. He hops onto the second rope, but Havoc kicks his leg out from under him, causing the champ to get crotched onto the second rope, leaving him open for a double knee jawbreaker.
Strickland ends up on the apron, where Havoc clotheslines him on the top rope. Swerve spills to the floor. He makes it back in and eats an elbow strike. Swerve hits a spinning kick and a 619 to Havoc’s torso. Havoc tries a sunset flip pinning attempt, but Strickland escapes and kicks havoc right in the back of the head.
We cut to a commercial, and when we come back, it sounds like Bocchini is in mid-sentence.
Strickland gets sent into the corner but fires back with a roll through jumping cutter. He starts to chop England’s Most Dangerous Man, who asks for more after each one. After a few more chops, Swerve is ready to put him away with a running boot, but Havoc catches it and sends Swerve face first into the mat. The champ gets up and is immediately dumped on his head with a Canadian Destroyer. The onslaught continues with another elbow smash/short-arm lariat combination. He covers but Strickland gets out at two!
Havoc stays on the attack and traps his opponent in a Cobra Clutch with body scissors. Strickland efforts his way out of the hold. He goes for a kick but Havoc ducks and kicks the ref. Havoc goes for the Acid Rainmaker but Strickland avoids it and knees Havoc in the face. He covers for an eternity before realizing the ref is still out cold. Strickland tends to the ref, leaving himself defenseless when Havoc low blows him. Strickland gets rolled up. Havoc has a handful of tights but the pin only gets a two count.
Havoc looks to put it away with the Acid Rainmaker but Strickland ducks and hits one of his own. Havoc goes out to the apron. Strickland hits an elbow strike. Havoc falls to his butt, where he gets a superkick. He hangs off the side of the apron and tries to get himself back up. His effort is futile as Swerve sends him to the floor with a double stomp. Strickland gets Havoc back into the ring, where he sits on the mat for what seems like forever as he waits for Strickland to get to the top rope and hit the Swerve Stomp, which earns him the three count. Strickland took too long to get the move off. Havoc was pretty much staring up at Strickland waiting to get stomped. I’d like to think that if this were real, Havoc would have moved. Despite that, it finished the match and gave Strickland his much-desired victory over his nemesis.
After a quick ad for the next TV tapings, Andrea Ocampo interviews the champ. He asks the crowd four or five times who’s house it is. The crowd responds with “Swerve’s house!” Actually, it’s MLW’s house or whoever is hosting their TV taping. Swerve says he finally beat Havoc and that he overcomes challenges because Swerve is Confidence. He asks the crowd AGAIN who’s house it is before ending the promo and this week’s program.
Some of the production on this show was a little weird, like the inconsistency of Swerve saying he was going to become the champion while already being acknowledged as the champ, his hometown being announced as two different cities, and Bocchini’s mid-sentence remarks as the show was coming back from commercial. Maybe that’s not a big deal to some people, but I expect a professional television program so tighten those little things up.
While no match stands out to me this week as mind-blowingly fantastic (which is an unfair expectation for a weekly show anyway), I will say that the person who stood out the most for me this week is Col. Rob Parker. I like the angle of Rob Parker bringing back the Stud Stable and looking to take The Dirty Blondes to the top of the tag team division. They certainly wrestled well enough to convince me that they could be champions, and if they continue to employ the underhanded tactics of the colonel, I don’t see why they can’t.
I wasn’t blown away by MLW’s first World Champion. I’ve only seen Swerve once, but if someone put a gun to my head right now and asked me who I want to win the World Title match at the May 3 tapings, I would unhesitatingly say Pentagon Jr. I was mesmerized by his charisma last week. Plus, he has the in-ring talent that qualifies him as one of today’s best wrestlers. He’s already won the Impact Wrestling World Title. Is the MLW Title in his future?
Those are my thoughts for this week’s episode of MLW Fusion. Come back next week for more recaps and analysis. Have a good week!