REVIEW: Major League Wrestling Fusion returns after seven-month hiatus

By Oliver Taylor

Alexander Hammerstone, holder of the MLW National Openweight Championship, opened last night’s show. (Photo via Creative Commons)

Major League Wrestling’s flagship show Fusion returned to airwaves last night(WEDNOV18) after the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic prevented the company from taping content for seven months.

It was worth the wait.

Three marquee matches were advertised for the show; MLW National Openweight Championship holder Alexander Hammerstone in action, Myron Reed defending the MLW World Middleweight Championship against Brian Pillman Jr and Jacob Fatu defending the MLW World Heavyweight Championship against Davey Boy Smith Jr in the main event.

By having two major championship matches on its return show, as well as Hammerstone in a non-title bout, MLW immediately set the tone for the restart. Big stars, big matches, big stakes.

Hammerstone began the show with a dominant 20-second victory against an enhancement talent following a devastating Nightmare Pendulum manoeuvre.

Hammerstone grabbed a microphone from ringside to discuss his long-standing status at the top of the MLW rankings and re-iterated his desire to challenge for the MLW World Heavyweight Championship.

“Fatu! It’s time to stop running,” he warned. “It’s time to give the people the fight that they want to see! I’m waiting on you.”

Reed versus Pillman Jr for the MLW World Middleweight Championship was second on the card. The duo first had an altercation last December and this match was the culmination of an 11-month rivalry.

Reed made his fourth successful defense of the championship after 11 minutes and 17 seconds. It was a past-faced, competitive match until Pillman Jr drove his knee into Reed’s loaded chest protector, giving Reed the window he needed to secure victory.

Backstage, Reed challenged new MLW signing Lio Rush to a future match. Rush was released by WWE in April and is a great addition to MLW’s middleweight division, offering legitimate name value and exciting in-ring ability.

The full bracket was then revealed for the 2020 Opera Cup. The Opera Cup, revitalised last year, is a new annual tournament competed under single-elimination rules with an eight-man bracket. The winner receives a future opportunity at the MLW World Heavyweight Championship.

On the left side of the bracket, Tom Lawlor faces Rocky Romero from New Japan Pro Wrestling and ACH faces Laredo Kid from Lucha Libre AAA World Wide.

On the right side, 2019 tournament winner Smith Jr faces Low Ki in a rematch from last year’s first round and Richard Holliday faces TJP.

MLW competitors Dominic Garrini, Gino Medina, Jordan Oliver, Hijo de L.A. Park and King Mo and AAA’s Daga were named as tournament alternates.

As mentioned before, Smith Jr won last year’s Opera Cup to earn the right to challenge Fatu. Stakes were raised in May when Fatu and the rest of CONTRA Unit – a villainous group dubbed as global merchants of violence – attacked Smith Jr backstage causing a (storyline) broken back.

MLW owner Court Bauer revealed in press interviews that Fatu versus Smith Jr was tentatively planned to headline a pay-per-view event in the famous 2300 Arena in Philadelphia in July. However, the event has been rescheduled to April 10 next year due to the pandemic.

Choosing to air the match on the return of Fusion, largely available to fans worldwide for free on YouTube, this further affirms MLW’s commitment to providing fans with pay-per-view calibre matches straight out of the gate.

After 10 minutes and 22 seconds of hard-hitting action, Fatu made his sixth successful defense of the MLW World Heavyweight Championship by pinfall following his patterned Moonsault.

With Smith Jr set to become a free agent next month (a fact Bauer has confirmed in multiple interviews) and Fatu signed with the company until late 2025, perhaps real life circumstances served as a hint of what was to come on-screen.

Fatu grabbed a microphone from ringside and responded to Hammerstone’s earlier claims: “Hammerstone! Your b***h a** don’t want none of this, you better get right! Hail CONTRA!”

Unsurprisingly, Hammerstone did not let Fatu’s remarks go unanswered and came out to confront him. However, before he could reach the ring, he was attacked by CONTRA’s newest member Logan Creed to close out the episode.

Overall, the episode succeeded in concluding existing storylines while also creating new ones. Reed defeated Pillman Jr in a good match and immediately challenged Rush. It only seems a matter of time until Hammerstone and Fatu collide in a monstrous clash, perhaps with both championships on the line.

The Opera Cup also offers interesting matchups and various interpromotional possibilities. It will be worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks.

With Calvin Tankman’s debut set for next week as well as Lawlor versus Romero and Holliday versus TJP in first round matches, MLW’s electric restart does not seem to be running out of power anytime soon.

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