With the vast ecosystem of wrestling around the world, there are many companies which get lost and forgotten about. Major League Wrestling is certainly one of those. It is a promotion born in 2002, dead in 2004, reincarnated in 2017, and more importantly, it is perhaps stronger than ever. With its weekly hour-long MLW Fusion TV show the promotion has garnered a limited spotlight, and yet a spotlight nonetheless.
I am a relatively new convert to MLW, due to the pandemic giving me a lot more time to watch all manners of different wrestling. I have expanded my horizons in Japan beyond NJPW, whilst also getting more engaged in companies like AEW and MLW. The latter is of course the subject of this piece, as I’m going to go through the reasons why you should start watching MLW.
With great wrestlers like “Filthy” Tom Lawlor, Jacob Fatu, Lio Rush, and more, the company is certainly an interesting one to check out.
Before I continue, it is important to hold certain expectations when heading into MLW. If you are after work-rate 5-star matches, then this isn’t for you. It instead puts storylines before match quality. As an ardent star rater this took some getting used to, but if you hold reasonable expectations of what MLW will offer, you’ll be well set.
Salina de la Renta and Promociones Dorado
On the subject of storylines; the most intriguing currently ongoing is definitely the sale of Promociones Dorado to an incredibly rich, anonymous source. Salina’s faction is now a subsidiary of Azteca Underground, Inc. (a California based company), leading to a lot of speculation surrounding the possibility of some sort of Lucha Underground ties.
This is indeed a very interesting story, and one which will span many episodes of Fusion. Therefore, it is one to keep an eye on in the near future, as MLW is good at slow, patiently built storylines.
In her own right, Salina de la Renta is one of the best non-wrestling personalities, not only in MLW, but in the wrestling world as a whole. She is incredibly talented in her role as a manager and promoter of her faction. Its notable members are the legendary L.A Park, his duo of sons (L.A Park Jr. and El Hijo de L.A. Park) and the faction’s most recent addition, Mil Muertes – serving to fuel the fire of Lucha Underground rumours.
With L.A Park and El Hijo de L.A. Park as the reigning MLW World Tag Team Champions, Promociones Dorado have a few storylines ongoing simultaneously to the Azteca Underground speculation. This ensures that Salina and her faction’s actions remain a keen area of interest in MLW’s weekly TV show – definitely something to keep an eye on.
Not only does MLW have the stars for today (and some from the past – I’m looking at you Savio Vega), it has a plethora of up-and-coming talent. At the top of the list are the likes of Jordan Oliver, Myron Reed, and Richard Halliday.
First, the Injustice members Jordan Oliver and Myron Reed:
They are both very promising talents, who I am confident have bright futures in their respective careers. Oliver at 21 and Reed at 24, are beginning to become more well-known within the industry.
They are both very talented individuals, but with the right nutriment and experience they could be top US talents. MLW is a great place for this – serving as sort of a launching pad for the young stars of wrestling. We saw this with Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF), for example, who left MLW for the hottest company in America, AEW, in early 2020. This is a great place for MLW to be the attractive bridge between the indies and the big leagues.
Also, perhaps more interestingly, Richard Holliday has been a real star of MLW in recent months. He has taken over the role MJF vacated, becoming the lone figure representing Friedman’s former ‘Dynasty’ faction. Of course, this invites parallels between the two, but Holliday is a unique wrestler in his own right.
His current feud is with the aforementioned Savio Vega, over the IWA Caribbean Heavyweight Championship, which he stole from then-Champion Vega. He “retained” his unofficially held title in a Strap Match a couple of weeks ago when former NBA referee Tim Donaghy (whose career was ended by a betting scandal, in 2007) aided him to victory. This is another one to keep an eye on, much like the Promociones Dorado dealings, because it will be a cleverly done slow-burner.
There are a flurry of titles in MLW: the Tag Team (held by L.A. Park’s father and son), Middleweight (held by Lio Rush), National Openweight (held by Alexander Hammerstone) and the World title (held by Jacob Fatu).
The Championships are key fixtures of the MLW Fusion episodes, proving that despite the strong storyline sway of the product, championships and accomplishments are still the main desire of the wrestlers involved.
No more is this evident than with the ‘Man of the Hour’ and cross-promotional champion, Lio Rush. He holds both the prize of the MLW Middleweight division (which he calls the “Moneyweight” division) and the AAA World Cruiserweight Championship, winning the latter in a Champion vs Champion match against Laredo Kid on February 10th.
Getting to watch Lio Rush is a great reason to tune in to MLW, as his character work has been very strong in recent weeks. He is definitely one to watch in the coming episodes, with it signalled he is going to be playing a bigger role as a result of his new found Double Champion status.
The company’s two biggest titles are the MLW National Openweight Title, and above that the World Heavyweight belt. Alexander Hammerstone and Jacob Fatu hold these respective Championships, and are truly great gems of the wrestling world. I suspect they both have even bigger things to come in future, especially Fatu, who is a good wrestler, with a big ceiling.
Jacob Fatu is the spearhead of MLW’s most prominent faction, CONTRA Unit, who are a brutal, chaos-inducing group. Despite their late mention in this piece, they are a very important part of MLW, as they continuously manage to build intriguing stories with various other roster members.
By watching MLW, you learn the importance of factions to storylines and the overall structure of the shows – an element I personally really enjoy. MLW holds a strong resemblance of kayfabe, making it great escapism wrestling, which is something we could all do with at the minute. At just one hour per week, it is a great product to dip your toe into, just to get a feel if its distinct style aligns with your own wrestling tastes.