MLW Fusion Report: June 1, 2018

MLW: Fusion
MLW: Fusion - Friday nights on beIN SPORTS

When I was a kid, I looked forward to Saturday because I could watch WWF Superstars. When I was a teenager, Monday night became my designated night of wrestling with Raw is War. I used to miss those days when I would anticipate a day of the week because of wrestling. Well, those days are back because MLW Fusion has made me look forward to Friday nights. This week’s episode rewarded my patience as I trudged through my work week (albeit a shortened work week).

The show opens up ANOTHER new interviewer. This time, her name is Vanessa Craft.

Let me just pause for a moment and congratulate (or maybe “thank” is a better word) Court Bauer for hiring these beautiful women to hold the microphones backstage. A job well done, Court, a job well done.

Anyway, Craft is outside Jeff Cobb’s dressing room when Stud Stable shows up with a stretcher. Colonel Robert Parker hypes the debut of Jake Hager (Jack Swagger) and pretty much says Cobb is going out on the stretcher.

The opening title sequence rolls. Schiavone, in a voice over, welcomes us and runs down the night’s card (we never actually see Schiavone and Bocchini tonight).

Jake Hager vs. Jeff Cobb

We head to the ring where Col. Parker introduces “the man that rules the world,” Jake Hager. I know Parker managed Sid Vicious for a long time, but that doesn’t give him the right to steal Sycho Sid’s tag line. From where I stand, Sid still rules the world. Hager just lives in it.

Watching Hager, I can’t believe it’s been ten years since he was the rookie with the irritating smile calling himself the “All-American American” and beating Matt Hardy for the ECW Championship. That was really the best he was ever portrayed. I hope he can have a return to greatness in MLW.

Cobb comes out next. I’m excited to watch Cobb without the Matanza get up.

This is a match of two big boys and it moves at a pace that I’d expect from two former heavyweight wrestlers. It’s slow, but it’s not boring.

Hager controls much of the match, which I guess makes sense because it’s his debut. The match should be his showcase. I would have figured that if he was going to get this much offense, he should be in there with a jobber.

Cobb impresses me with his strength and agility. At one point, he executes a powerslam and quickly follows it up with a picture-perfect standing suplex. He also goes for a sweet looking standing shooting star press, but he misses.

In the end, Cobb goes for a move that looks like Wade Barrett’s Wasteland, but Hager seamlessly reverses it into an ankle lock submission. Cobb taps out.

Cobb really sells an ankle injury. I just recently found out that a shoot ankle lock can break your ankle in seconds, so I appreciate what MLW is doing here.

We go to a commercial and when we return, we got a shot of an ambulance that Schiavone tells us is going to bring Cobb to the hospital. Wow. What a way to make the ankle lock and Hager look dangerous. The one criticism I have is that Schiavone tells us that MLW is going to look into Hager’s conduct. What conduct? Winning the match? Did I miss something? Did something get lost in the editing of this episode?

We get a series of segments and promos. First, MLW World Heavyweight Champion Shane “Swerve” Strickland is interviewed about his title match with Pentagon from last week. He calls the encounter one of his most painful matches. He doesn’t want to got through that type of match again but he’s still the champion. When he’s finished, he walks outside and spots Salina de la Renta, who approaches him and blames him for getting hit in the eyes with Pentagon’s red mist. Swerve tells her that she brought it on herself. She threatens the introduction of a mystery person. He basically tells her to bring it on, which prompts her to warn the champ to be careful what he wishes for. I’m sensing some tension between these two. Maybe she has the hots for him.

After a graphic announces that Fred Yehi will face Tom Lawlor next week, we get our next segment. Lawlor and Simon Gotch (Team Filthy) walk into the arena and are approached by an unseen interviewer. The interviewer asks about Lawlor’s match next week and Team Filthy starts making fun of the name “Yehi.” Lawlor even calls him Yeti. Hey, that’s what I said a few weeks ago! Lawlor follows the comedy up with saying that Yehi’s been out in the wild. Um, let’s just move on from that. They keep ragging on his name and say it sounds French, leading Gotch to ponder if Yehi was part of the Louisiana Purchase. You know, because we bought Louisiana from France. If MLW was going for two d—heads who thought they were funny but weren’t, they succeeded.

And then…sigh…Sami F’n Callihan. This promo did not make me hate him less. Let’s just get this over with.

Callihan says he’s a sociopath that doesn’t care about offending people. That’s true. He offends me every time I see him and he still shows up on my TV. Next, he says that what he did to MVP he’ll do to the whole roster. His army of…sigh… “like-minded individuals” will make people listening. I wish I could stop listening at this point. He proclaims that the like-minded army is pro wrestling, they are what this world needs, and they’re taking over everything. The promo ends when he makes the thumbs up/thumbs down gesture, which he feels the need to say “thumbs up, thumbs down” while he does it. I guess he’s doing that for the blind. I wish I was also deaf right about now.

Schiavone runs down the top ten contender’s list for June. It goes as follows.

  1. Tom Lawlor
  2. Pentagon
  3. Rey Fenix
  4. Sami Callihan
  5. MVP
  6. Jimmy Havoc
  7. Barrington Hughes
  8. Joey Janela
  9. Jake Hager (already?)
  10. ACH

Swerve, of course, is still the champ.

Kotto Brazil vs. Rich Swann

Swann is also making his debut in MLW tonight. His song isn’t asking if you can handle this, but his trunks are.

Swann cuts an inset promo in which he says he is a bunch of adjectives, but oddly none of those adjectives include “spousal abusing.”

The crowd chants “Can you handle this?” Swann gets on the ropes and encourages the chant. Schiavone is stunned that Swann has personality. I guess Tony hasn’t watched much wrestling in the past two years.

Watching Brazil and Swann move in the ring makes me realize that one needs a lot of core strength in order to be a wrestler. I’m 40 pounds overweight, so…yeah, a career in wrestling is not in the works for me.

I have to say, this is a really great match between these two. The story being told is that Brazil is a scrappy young fighter who’s looking for that breakout performance while Swann is the cocky veteran that showboats too much to the crowd.

There are a lot of submissions from this match. One of them is a variation of the Stretch Muffler, which Swann locks on to Brazil. I love Stretch Mufflers. I could watch an entire hour of Stretch Mufflers.

Brazil doesn’t go down easy. There are a lot of close two counts, including one after a handspring stunner by Swann. I’m starting to think that Brazil might actually get the upset.

Never mind. The match ends with a second rope Phoenix Splash by Brazil for the three. They fist bump after the match. The announcers say that it was a “defining match” for Brazil and I agree. He looked awesome tonight. Between this match and the match Brazil had with Trey Miguel two weeks ago, I think middleweight division (which I believe MLW is going to start calling their light heavyweight guys) is really going to be something special.

Sami Callihan vs. Joey Janela

They tease a commercial but quickly cut back to the show, where we find Brazil being blindsided by a bat attack from Sami Callihan as he’s trying to head backstage. I guess we’re going right to the main event.

Callihan walks down to the ring with his two goons. Wait, two? There was only one last time. Who is this second guy and when did he join the fray? Sometimes MLW doesn’t explain these things. Another example would be the announcement of Fenix joining Promociones Dorado right before his match with Pentagon a few weeks ago. When did this happen and why? Please explain this stuff! This is like when people turn heel or face in WWE for no reason. Don’t be like WWE.

Anyway, the new guy’s name is Fulton. This army of “like-minded individuals” looks like a poor man’s Sanity.

Martin J. Friedman has been at ringside at a private table with a lady friend since the Swann/Brazil match. Janela comes out and…oh, I see what’s happening here. If you don’t remember, Janela trashed MJF’s dressing room last week, leaving behind cigarette ashes, domestic beer, and a “prophylactic.” Something’s gonna go down, and I think Mr. Janela should have eyes in the back of his head.

Aria Blake looks like one of those 12-year-olds whose parents put her on the Maury show because she’s a terror at home and in school and they want Maury to send her to boot camp where she’ll be reformed and turned into a nice little girl again.

Back in the wrestling ring, Janela and Callihan have a hard-hitting brawl. Late in the match, Janela covers Callihan and gets a three count, but the ref takes it back when he sees Callihan’s foot on the rope. I don’t know if they ref botched the count or what, but the match continues.

Callihan hits a piledriver, but Janela pops right up and hits a superkick. That looked pretty sweet. I like when one guy gets hit with a devastating move but still musters up enough energy to knock his opponent out before collapsing.

The match goes outside, where Janela collides with Friedman and his date. The couple, their table, and their champagne crash to the floor. Before Janela can get back into the ring, Friedman bangs Janela’s head multiple times into the ring post and one of the arena’s support posts. Callihan takes advantage of the interference by hitting the Cranial Contusion in the middle of the ring, which garners him the victory.

Callihan’s army leaves the ring. Friedman stands over Janela and pours champagne over him.

As the show ends, the MLW medical staff check on Janela, who was busted open when Friedman smacked his head into the posts.

Final Thoughts

  • The audio on this show was a little weird. The ring sounded really loud. Sometimes the announcers were too low. The exchange between Swerve and de la Renta had muffled at times.
  • For some reason, I really like Stud Stable. Maybe it’s just the fact I like factions, but then again, I dread seeing Sami Callihan and his army on my screen. In Stud Stable, you have the tag team in the Dirty Blondes, the powerhouse in Mike Parrow, and the technical master in Jake Hager. It’s a great mix, but at the same time, they all have a communality- they’re a bunch of big red state s— kickers. Well, Parrow is from New York, but he looks like he belongs in a red state and he will still kick the s— out of you. With the talker in Col. Parker, this faction gets a big “thumbs up” from me (Oh, I’m sorry, do you need Callihan to show you what a “thumbs up” is?).
  • The Brazil/Swann match may be one of the best examples of story telling that MLW has produced on Fusion so far. It was clear, it was laid out well, and it was relatable. I could watch a rematch between these two…or three or four.
  • Did I mention that I hate Sami Callihan?

That’s it for this week. Follow me on Twitter (@CliffofDoom). I’m going to stop being a hermit that watches too much wrestling and get some sunshine. Bye now!