[TV Recap] ‘#MLWFusion 96’ – Fatu vs. Pillman, Vega vs. Holliday, MJF’s Caffeine Rush

YOUTUBE PREMIERE: February 8, 2020
COMMENTATORS: Rich Bocchini & AJ Kirsch

The feud between CONTRA and what’s left of The Hart Foundation rages on as Brian Pillman Jr. challenges Jacob Fatu for the MLW World Championship.


  • MLW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: “The Samoan Werewolf” Jacob Fatu
  • MLW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Von Erich Brothers (Ross & Marshall Von Erich)


  • Zenshi vs. Dominic Garrini
  • Savio Vega vs. Richard Holliday


-VIDEO: Recap of the CONTRA/Hart Foundation feud, including a FIREBALL TO THE FACE of Teddy Hart pre-blacklisting. 

-CONTRA interrupts the usual Fusion opening. Josef Samael hypes the World Title fight coming, saying Brian Pillman Jr. will dance with the Death Squad. HAIL CONTRA.

“Filthy” Tom Lawlor makes his way out, wearing a Von Erich shirt to further twist the knife in his feud with the Tag Team Champions deep in the heart of Texas. Lawlor is flanked by a nameless (to me anyway) dude with a THICC mustache. The ring announcer also has a THICC mustache. I want a THICC mustache. Crowd wants Lawlor to take the Von Erich shirt off, he obliges…then spits into it, stuffs it down his pants, and throws it. A fan throws it right back and hopefully runs off immediately after to wash his hands. Lawlor mocks the fan for not throwing it back in the ring correctly, saying he failed just like the Von Erichs. Lawlor is no longer going to associate with the “CON Erichs” anymore, he wants Team Filthy Dojo to have real fighters, and introduces Dominic Garrini for the opening contest. Lawlor continues talking, saying they are here to show everyone what it’s like to be a REAL fighter, not like his flip flop luchador opponent he calls the sacrificial lamb.

Zenshi vs. Dominic Garrini [w/ “Filthy” Tom Lawlor]

Garrini charges, Zenshi cartwheels out of the way. Knuckles lock, Zenshi tosses Garrini to the mat. Garrini catches Zenshi with a knee to the gut followed by a judo throw into a wristlock. Zenshi springs off the ropes and tries to reverse it, but Garrini hangs on. Zenshi rolls through, Garrini grabs a kneebar. Zenshi misses a couple of enzuigiris but manages a roll-up for the 1…2…not yet. Zenshi with an O’Connor Roll for the 1…2…Garrini kicks out and Zenshi does an unnecessary flip as they reach a stalemate. Zenshi catches Garrini with a rana and a roll-up for the 1…2…Garrini escapes and splashes Zenshi, followed by a quick cross armbreaker before a rope break. Zenshi sweeps the legs and cartwheels over Garrini leading into a dropkick and lateral press for the 1…2…Garrini shoves him off. Zenshi with a pair of sentons, Garrini counters a standing shooting star into a triangle-looking choke. Zenshi flips over into a roll-up for the 1…2…kickout. Garrini throws Zenshi into the corner and catches him with a kick, then goes to work on the arm. Yeah that’s a way to stop a dude who flies around the ring. Garrini grabs a rear-naked choke, Zenshi escapes via snapmare and connects with a somersault dropkick. Zenshi brings Garrini to the floor, skins the cat and hits a springing corkscrew splash. Zenshi flips into nothing and Garrini stomps the arm. Ref holds Garrini at bay so a medic can check on him in the corner. No bell is run though so Garrini connects with another judo throw and locks in the Cross Armbreaker, the ref immediately calling for the bell.

Dominic Garrini defeated Zenshi via referee stoppage (6:55)

  • I respect MLW for putting on a style clash like this but the execution was pretty bad. I am very much not a fan of Zenshi; I love high spots and flippy sh*t but everything he does barely connects and feels half-baked and it drives me nuts. I want to like what he’s doing but I just can’t. Garrini has the “real fighter” credentials and could 100% kick my ass but that gi is so goofy-looking that I can barely take him seriously either. I think that might be PART of the point judging by that cowboy boot store segment (I think) on last week’s show though. Either way a good idea on paper and it got Garrini a dominant win in his first fight under the Team Filthy banner but it wasn’t much fun to get through.

Garrini keeps the hold (called “Mighty Mouse” I guess, German into the armbar) applied a few seconds longer to add insult to injury, then celebrates with Lawlor as the medic checks on Zenshi. After a replay we go back to the ring where Alicia Atout tries to interview Garrini. Lawlor takes over and says he did nothing wrong; they are martial artists and it’s a game of life or death. From here on out Team Filthy shows NO MERCY.

-BACKSTAGE: CONTRA’s Death Squad attacks Brian Pillman Jr. as he enters the arena. Luckily for him Davey Boy Smith Jr. is right behind him

-LAST WEEK: Josef Samael has found the demise of the Hart Foundation: his DEATH SQUAD.

-LAST WEEK: Marshall Von Erich beats MJF with the Iron Claw.

-EARLIER TONIGHT: Alicia Atout is with part of The Dynasty (MJF, Alexander Hammerstone, & Gino Medina). MJF has just drank caffeine for the first time, having taken Richard Holliday’s coffee, and he is FIRED UP. Hammerstone is the ice cream man with all the scoops; MLW is afraid of Holliday’s lawyer SLASH father and have granted them an MLW episode produced by The Dynasty. They will be involved in EVERY match. Medina will face Septimo Dragon, MJF walks off to drink some water and calm down, Hammerstone will be taking on Aerostar, and MJF/Holliday will get a rematch for the World Tag Team Titles. 

  • MJF was hilarious here. Great stuff. When he’s not doing the low-hanging fruit heel thing he’s as good as people say he is.

-A hyper MJF joins the commentary table while Richard Holliday removes his AirPods in the ring. BIG HUG for The Dynasty brothers, Holliday wants MJF to hold his Pods. What an honor. 

-EARLIER TONIGHT: Alicia Atout got some words from Savio Vega, who has the IWA Caribbean Championship with him. Vega says he represents all of the Caribbean people and after he beats Holliday tonight he will take Atout to a salsa dance. Dude she could be your daughter, settle.

Savio Vega vs. Richard Holliday

MJF says Vega reminds him of a really old and disheveled Kwang. SNAP. Vega brings both the Caribbean Title and a Singapore Cane to the ring. Vega’s feuding with The Dynasty due to Gino Medina turning on Konnan and joining the group. Vega was also injured last summer in a match with Hammerstone.

Holliday drops Vega with a shoulderblock but decides to boast to the crowd instead of follow-up. Vega grabs a standing side headlock, Holliday escapes via Irish whip and connects with a dropkick. Vega gets the better of their third exchange, clotheslining Holliday out to the floor. Holliday rams Vega into the apron and connects with a series of chops. Back in the ring Holliday blindsides Vega with a back elbow into a lateral press for a two-count. Holliday kicks, Vega drops him with a right hand. MJF brags about Holliday’s “Hogan ‘91” tan. Vega connects with a superkick, covers for a two-count. Holiday dodges the spinning heel kick, following up with a big boot and the 2008 (3008? Honestly I couldn’t hear very well) for the 1…2…3.

Richard Holliday defeated Savio Vega via pinfall (5:03)

  • Konnan might wanna find someone else to fight for his honor because Savio is doing a REAL BAD job of it, losing a third time to someone from The Dynasty. Honestly I was expecting this one to be a little more competitive than it was; yeah Savio got some shots in but it was mostly Holliday and won cleanly and distinctly. 

MJF hugs Holliday and they do a victory lap as the former holds the latter’s arm up. Holliday grabs Vega’s Caribbean Championship and takes it with him, saying his lawyer/father made it a title match so it’s his now. 

Davey Boy Smith Jr. tells Brian Pillman Jr. that he has his back, as tonight is his night. The Von Erich Brothers also assure Pillman they have his back as well. Pillman doesn’t know if he’s ready for this and needs their help. Smith tells him to go out there and be confident.

-HYPE VIDEO: Killer Kross is coming.

-NEWS: Philadelphia has “won” the right to host the third-annual Battle Riot on July 18th. I’m reviewing this show as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on so I’m not sure if this is still going to be happening or not.

-VIDEO: MLW is partnering with Japan-based promotion Dragon Gate. This is probably as close to a DGUSA rebirth as I’m going to get so I’ll take it.

-LAST MONTH: Gino Medina turns on Konnan, joins The Dynasty. Medina takes on Septimo Dragon next week, Konnan will be in Dragon’s corner.

-HYPE VIDEO: LA Park returns soon. 

-Clips of various issues with MLW referees and Injustice; Bocchini announces that going forward referees will be graded after each match and only the top-ranking officials will get to call title main events. All refs will also go through a more thorough background check.

-ANNOUNCEMENT #2: MLW and AAA will hold its first co-promoted event in Mexico in March.

-NEXT WEEK: Fusion will be executive-produced by The Dynasty, with all members in action.

-Alicia Atout is standing by backstage with Mance Warner and his light beer. She asks for his take on The Dynasty, Warner takes a few sips and simply says “Assholes”. Warner hands Atout a light beer and tells her to have a good evening. PERFECT.

-Camera catches up with Zenshi backstage, a medic still checking his arm. Zenshi says the only zen he wants is REVENGE.

“The Samoan Werewolf” Jacob Fatu [c] [w/ Josef Samael] vs. Brian Pillman Jr. for the MLW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

I absolutely love the way MLW presents its title fights, from the tale of the tape to the in-ring introductions. That’s the kind of sports-like intrusion into pro wrestling that I like.

Fatu attacks Pillman immediately, throwing him halfway across the ring and posing with the CONTRA Unit flag before following up with a splash. Pillman fights back, dodging a seated splash and lighting the champ up with chops, Fatu brushes them off and drops his challenger with a big chop of his own. Pillman catches a charging Fatu with a back elbow, Fatu catches Pillman out of mid-air and drives him into the canvas with a swinging urinage…and time to slow things down with a nervehold. BOOOOO. 

Pillman escapes with a leaping jawbreaker and connects with a series of forearms. Fatu shoves Pillman, Pillman ducks a clothesline and connects with a superkick that rocks the champ. Pillman goes FLYIN with a crossbody for a two-count. Picture in picture backstage of Davey Boy Smith Jr. & The Von Erichs fighting with CONTA Unit’s Death Squad. Samael distracts the ref, Injustice’s Kotto Brazil and Jordan Oliver come out to distract Pillman. Pillman splashes them both, Myron Reed hits Pillman with his loaded chest protector and rolls him in. Fatu takes advantage with a back handspring moonsault for the 1…2…Pillman kicks out! Fatu hits two more springboard moonsaults from the top for the 1…2…3.

Jacob Fatu [c] defeated Brian Pillman Jr. via pinfall to retain the MLW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (5:29)

  • Fatu’s undefeated streak continues as does his World Title reign. Match was decent, Fatu dominated most of it as he should since he’s the champ, and I appreciate Pillman getting that one last kickout before finally going down. Injustice essentially costing Pillman the match made sense to continue their feud but to be honest it didn’t even really feel like Fatu needed it, he had the thing mostly under control. I wonder if Pillman is headed towards Middleweight gold.

Fatu and Samael antagonize the crowd as Pillman is helped to the back by a referee. CONTRA Unit still controls MLW as the episode concludes.


FINAL THOUGHTS: Opening match aside an entertaining episode of Fusion this week. Love seeing a World Title match even if it’s essentially one-sided/a storybuilder. The Dynasty continue to prove they are the true golden geese of MLW, and I hope one day we get a full on faction war between them and CONTRA Unit. I NEEDS ME A FATU/HAMMERSTONE MATCH.


  • MATCH OF THE NIGHT: Jacob Fatu vs. Brian Pillman Jr.
  • MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Mance Warner’s promo. Perfect setup. What a goddamn treasure he is for pro wrestling.