COMMENTATORS: Rich Bocchini & Joe Dombrowski
MLW makes its way to the historic Grady Cole Center in Charlotte, NC for Fusion this week, bringing a surprising new matchmaker in the form of Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. The World Middleweight Championship is also on the line as Myron Reed defends against TJP, and generations collide as The Von Erichs tangle with Ricky & Kerry Morton.
- MLW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: Alexander Hammerstone
- MLW WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION: Myron Reed
- MLW NATIONAL OPENWEIGHT CHAMPION: Alex Kane
- MLW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Hustle & Power (“The Judge” EJ Nduka & Calvin Tankman)
- Myron Reed [c] vs. TJP for the MLW WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (***1/2) [RECAP]
- Matt Cross vs. Richard Holliday (**3/4) [RECAP]
- The Von Erichs vs. The Mortons (*3/4) [RECAP]
FULL SHOW RECAP
Cesar Duran makes his way to the ring, flanked by a masked Azteca henchman. Duran welcomes his renegades to Fusion and gets a “LUCHA” chant going. Duran calls Charlotte a trash can full of ghosts (HEH?) and tonight is full of consequences. Duran’s diatribe is interrupted by RICKY “THE DRAGON” STEAMBOAT, Chicago Bulls theme and everything! Steamboat gives Charlotte a hello, Duran is amused to see an “old-time great” and is happy that he’s come to kiss his…RING. Steamboat doesn’t kiss anybody’s ring and says MLW has put Duran under investigation and until the investigation is final Duran is OUT OF HERE. The masked henchman tries to attack Steamboat, Steamboat drops him with a chop and Duran gets escorted out of the ring, calling Steamboat “dead” and “a ghost.
Steamboat, now in charge of matchmaking in the interim, has some good news to share but before he can he’s interrupted by Richard Holliday and Alicia Atout. Steamboat admires Holliday’s swagger, Holliday sarcastically welcomes him to MLW. Steamboat says he was in the Grady Cole Center before Holliday was even born, Holliday stops him again and says Steamboat has an opportunity to shake things up as the matchmaker by putting him in line for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. Steamboat asks what the fans think, they are not on board. Atout says her man deserves a big man, Steamboat asks if that’s what he wants, a “big match”, and makes one: Holliday will wrestle…Matt Cross! That’s not what Holliday said, Steamboat says it doesn’t matter because he’s the matchmaker.
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Well that was all over the place execution-wise but as a diehard Steamboat fan I rolled with it. Guessing MLW taped a decent amount in Charlotte if they’re replacing Duran with Steamboat for the time being. If we get one of those Lucha Underground-style vignettes with Steamboat & Duran that is going to be HILARIOUS.
-Bocchini & Dombrowski welcome the home audience and hype tonight’s show while also paying tribute at being in such a historic venue.
-After a clip of their title win on last week’s show, we go to comments from Hustle & Power (EJ Nduka & Calvin Tankman). Nduka thanks his family and God, Tankman says this is a big step and dedicates his title to his 7 year old. Myron Reed congratulates Hustle & Power and hang out with all their gold. Nduka & Tankman hype Reed up ahead of his title defense.
-PRERECORDED COMMENTS: TJP and Myron Reed throw shade at each other ahead of tonight’s title match, TJP saying he knocked off more on his bucket list at 24 than Reed has, Reed calls him a culture vulture and vows to get him out of here.
Myron Reed [c] vs. TJP for the MLW WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
TJP brings Reed to the canvas and grabs a chinlock, Reed counters into a wristlock, TJP escapes and counters with a headscissors. They lock knuckles, Reed surprises TJP with an armdrag and a legsweep into a cover, TJP quickly escapes and goes for a Cross Armbreaker, Reed escapes and they reset, crowd giving them a round of applause. Reed calls for a fist bump, TJP responds with a short-arm clothesline. That’s on Reed. Reed connects with a dropkick, TJP counters with a dropkick of his own when Reed attempts a springboard, landing on his shoulder. TJP focuses his attack on said shoulder, throwing him into the post. TJP stomps the arm and follows up with a slingshot senton for the 1…2…Reed easily kicks out since TJP didn’t even bother to hook a leg. TJP catches a kick, Reed lands on his feet out of a suplex and connects with a jawbreaker, Reed goes for a springboard cutter but TJP counters into a Cross Armbreaker attempt. Reed keeps his fingers clasped so TJP changes gears and wrenches the arm off a hammerlock. TJP traps Reed in a surfboard stretch and puts the shoulders down for the 1…2…Reed kicks out and the match continues after the break.
TJP continues the offensive, scraping his boot across Reed’s face and connecting with a sliding boot that sends himself to the floor to gloat. This wakes Reed up though and he comes crashing with a crossbody out of nowhere and goes on the offensive, connecting with a legdrop across the middle rope. Reed thinks about a springboard but his shoulder is in too much pain and readjusts. Reed misses one kick but connects with the second. TJP moves to the apron and Reed tries a cutter but TJP blocks it and connects with a neckbreaker followed by the Mamba Splash for the 1…2…Reed kicks out! Reed counters a fireman’s carry into a rana for the 1…2…TJP counters into a sunset flip for the 1…2…Reed kicks out and connects with a superkick. Reed misses the No Cap springboard 450 and TJP traps him in a Regal Stretch, Reed makes it to the ropes to force a break. TJP catches a superkick, Reed switches to a jumping enzuigiri. Reed flips off TJP, TJP hops up and over and drills Reed with a tornado DDT and connects with an Octopus Bomb for the 1…2…Reed kicks out! TJP comes off the top with a second Mamba Splash but REED COUNTERS WITH A CUTTER for the 1…2…3!
Myron Reed [c] defeated TJP via pinfall to retain the MLW WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (13:09 shown)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: No real complaints here, that was a damn good match to open the show. Reed having to switch up his offensive due to the shoulder getting hurt was a nice touch and as iffy as TJP is as a person you can’t discount how good he is in the ring. I honestly didn’t know how this one was going to turn out by the end. I can’t believe Reed is only 24 I feel like I’ve been watching him wrestle since I was in my 20s (which is longer ago than I want to admit). (***1/2)
-EARLIER THIS WEEK: The Von Erichs donate a World Class World Championship belt to the University of Texas. There’s a whole ass Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Texas y’all, give it to them!
-NEXT WEEK: Holidead vs. Shazza McKenzie.
Matt Cross vs. Richard Holliday [w/ Alicia Atout]
Holliday tried to politic his way into a World Title shot earlier tonight but interim matchmaker Ricky Steamboat put him in a match with Cross instead, in case you forgot what happened twenty minutes ago.
Holliday works Cross over in the corner with clotheslines and back elbows to the jaw. Cross responds with a headscissors takeover followed by a back handspring elbow and a tope suicida on the floor that sends Holliday into the guardrail. HELL YEAH M-DOGG. Cross rolls Holliday and covers but Holliday quickly kicks out at 1. Cross stuns Holliday with a kick and climbs the buckles, Holliday trips him up and sends him neck-first into the top buckle, following up with a clothesline. Holliday continues the offensive, connecting with a neckbreaker for the 1…2…Cross kicks out, Holliday goes for a butterfly suplex but Cross escapes. Holliday regains control and stomps away at Cross, then distracts the ref so Atout can get a slap in. Holliday connects with a butterfly backbreaker for the 1…2…Cross kicks out. Holliday drops the elbow and covers again for the 1…2…not yet. Cross flips out of a suplex attempt and hops over Holliday, connecting with a pair of pump kicks and a springboard crossbody for the 1…2…Holliday kicks out. Cross charges, Holliday hits a backbreaker, Cross counters 2008 with an inside cradle for the 1…2…Holliday kicks out, Cross hits the Cross Cutter for 1…2…Holliday kicks out again! Cross rolls through a Shooting Star Press attempt when Holliday rolls out of the way, Holliday stuns Cross with a strike and hits the 2008 for the 1…2…3!
Richard Holliday defeated Matt Cross via pinfall (6:42)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Good match and a solid win for Holliday. Forgot he didn’t have the Airpods anymore but he doesn’t really need him, he’s still got that douche aura on lock. I’m a little more invested in a Hammerstone/Holliday match than I thought I’d be, got a little Dynasty nostalgia going on. (**3/4)
Bocchini stops Holliday & Atout in the entryway. Atout snatches the mic and tells Bocchini to get out since she’s the Interview Queen. Atout asks what’s running through his mind, Holliday says it’s her of course, then reminds everyone that The Dynasty was always him. Holliday says MLW is the Clout Couple’s now.
-VIDEO: A special look at “The Judge” EJ Nduka. Three sport athlete in high school, played professional football in Canada and Arena Football in the states, moved onto bodybuilding thanks to his friend Will Henry. Nduka got an opportunity to go to WWE thanks to Scotty 2 Hotty and spent two years there, but got released during the height of the pandemic. Nduka got calls from everywhere after being released, the last call coming from Court Bauer and MLW. What drew him to MLW was they didn’t talk about what happened, they only talked about his future and what the plans were. Nduka is who he says he is and will do what he sets out to do.
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Nice profile on a wrestler I’m too familiar with yet but after last week I definitely can’t wait to see more of. Didn’t know he was in the developmental system for WWE that long or that he got released during the pandemic. This is the second profile I’ve seen of an MLW wrestler gushing about how the company plans for their future and hires people with an idea where to go, which is cool. I hope they do more of these, I like getting to know the performers like this.
–Emilio Sparks stops Alex Kane to ask what’s next for the National Openweight Championship but gets brushed off for being unprofessional. I mean he’s not wrong you don’t JUMP AT PEOPLE WHEN THEY’RE WALKING IN THE HALLS.
The Von Erichs (Ross & Marshall Von Erich) vs. The Mortons (Ricky & Kerry Morton)
Ross grabs a waistlock, Kerry counters into one of his own and brings him to the canvas, covering for a quick one-count and reset. Kerry floats over nobody in the corner but catches Ross with a back elbow followed by a crossbody for a two-count. Ross drops Kerry with a shoulderblock, Kerry nips back up but misses a dropkick and sweeps the legs from Ross; Ross kicks out of a pinfall attempt and Kerry grabs a chinlock. Ricky gets the tag and connects with a kneedrop, Bocchini geeking out at the chance to call a Ricky Morton match. He’s not in the match for long, tagging out to Kerry and hitting a double strike to Ross. Ross reverses an Irish whip and connects with a running boot, Marshall tags in and connects with a HIGH-angle dropkick, Kerry surprises Marshall with a roll-up for the 1…2…Marshall kicks out and connects with a sliding clothesline. Ross tags in, Von Erichs connect with a double dropkick and Ross covers; Kerry tries to kick out immediately but Ross traps the leg for the 1…2…not yet. Marshall brings Kerry out of the corner with a hip toss, Kerry lands on his feet so Ross drops him with a big boot. Marshall connects with a standing moonsault for the 1…2…Ricky breaks it up. Ross runs in, Ricky hits him with a CANADIAN DESTROYER, Marshall traps Ricky with an IRON CLAW. Kerry tries to break it up but Ross beats him down in the corner then the Von Erichs hit the Claw/back suplex combo for the 1…2…3.
The Von Erichs defeated The Mortons via pinfall (5:25)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Barely over five minutes long and Ricky still got his sh*t in with the Canadian Destroyer, bubba! Match was what it was, lots of jank to it but had a lot of energy. Von Erichs apparently wrestle in street fight gear now. (*3/4)
Marshall takes too long to relinquish the Claw, Kerry Morton getting in his face for taking liberties. Ricky Morton is pissed as well and the teams jaw jack at each other as tempers flare. Von Erichs calm down and apologize but they get interrupted by 5150’s Julius Smokes. Smokes calls everyone in the ring trailer trash and hates North Carolina. Rivera and Slice Boogie attack both teams from behind, forcing the Von Erichs & The Mortons to work together to clear the ring. Smokes continues talking sh*t but gets drowned out by the Von Erich’s music, vowing that the Von Erichs will die. Well…don’t say to a Von Erich dude, jeez. Von Erichs & Mortons shake hands and raise each other’s hands in victory as the show concludes.
Seems like I picked a weird week to get back into MLW as Cesar Duran got booted and replaced with Ricky Steamboat of all people. Most likely just for the North Carolina tapings but an interesting wrinkle nonetheless. Good episode of Fusion this week, with Reed/TJP being the highlight. Looks like the Lucha Underground spooky stuff has waned which is disappointing but maybe I picked the wrong week. Definitely much better than their pandemic-era empty arena shows and this was fun enough to give them another shot. ONE DAY MLW WILL CLICK WITH ME.
- FAVORITE MATCH: Myron Reed vs. TJP
- FAVORITE MOMENT: Ricky Morton hitting a Destroyer just because and it having no effect on anything in the match. That made me laugh.