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Major League Wrestling marks return with MLW Fusion: ALPHA

While most wrestling fans’ eyes were locked on Flushing Meadows (and Twitter), Major League Wrestling took advantage. After being mostly inactive since last fall, MLW restarted their television program with the season premiere of MLW Fusion: ALPHA.

In 2019, Court Bauer’s group seemed to have carved a nice position for themselves after the success of their Saturday Night Superfight pay-per-view. However, the COVID-19 pandemic put an abrupt halt to the promotion.

Last summer, the program returned with empty arena shows, but it lacked the raw, gritty spark that separated the league from AEW and WWE. Now, the promotion is back, and with a swagger.

The show kicked off with a word from Cesar Duran, who Lucha Underground fans knew as Dario Cueto. With the mysterious Azteca Underground group looming in the shadows, Duran has taken over as MLW matchmaker. Duran was a highlight of the old Lucha Underground, and his presence gave Fusion a new sense of life.

Next, we saw a Bunkhouse Brawl between Marshall & Ross Von Erich and the Team Filthy contingent of Kevin Ku and Kit Osborn. “Filthy” Tom Lawler referred to Osborn as “Rip Von Erich.” The name is a play on the Rip Van Winkle character and a terrible World Class storyline, where Texas indy worker Rick Vaughn was billed as Lance Von Erich, a cousin of the famed clan. The older Texas crowd instantly turned on the gimmick. Using Osborn as a bogus cousin was a hilarious nod.

The match was a wild blunder-brawl, which best used the Von Erich boys’ rugged and athletic skillset. It ended after Marshall Von Erich moonsaulted through a board onto both members of Team Filthy.

Next, we had a look back at Alexander Hammerstone’s Battle Riot III win, which set up his October 7 MLW Fightland match for Jacob Fatu’s MLW World Title.

Then, we were presented with the competitors in the upcoming MLW Women’s World Featherweight division.

Later, we got another glance at Duran. This time, he was confronted by a newly-arriving Matt Cross. Cross played the Son of Havoc character on LU, and the two acknowledged their history together. Just how much of Lucha Underground is continuity is questionable, especially with that show’s various murders and magical whatnot.

After a Gino Medina victory over KC Navarro, we were introduced to Konnan’s 5150 group. Taking a page from LAX, we met new members Julius Smokes, Slice Boogie, and Daniel Rivera (formerly known as Danny Limelight in NJoA and AEW). After that, we were then treated to a quick look at the monstrous Alex Kane, who debuts next week.

Later inside Duran’s office, “Filthy” Tom addressed the new boss and demanded a title match. El Jefe agreed, but rather than pitting Lawlor against Fatu, he was given a match against National Openweight Champion, Hammerstone. These moments can be challenging to pull off on a pro wrestling show, but Duran, a trained actor who carried much of Lucha Underground, brought a fun spin to a played-out wrestling trope.

This lead us to our main event: TJP vs. the returning Davey Richards. Richards walked away from pro wrestling in 2017 but has been remarkable on his comeback tour. Richards looked like he hasn’t missed any time, and is a perfect addition to this roster as humble babyface. Richards got the submission victory with an ankle-lock after an intense match.

The show was a fun hour of wrestling and a huge step up from their disappointing pandemic-era shows. The company is leaning heavily into the Cesar Duran character, which is risky because he isn’t a professional wrestler, but Duran is so good in the role, and he brings a credibility to his performance that few wrestlers can match.

If MLW can steer into what made Lucha Underground successful and avoid some of its more bizarre tendencies, they could carve out a unique position in the booming North American wrestling scene.

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