Calling all ECW fans. MLW has a treat for you.
With MLW’s current Fusion program on hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic, MLW has revisited its past by releasing shows from their original MLW Underground run from 2003. The debut episode features LA Park vs Jerry Lynn, Taiyo Kea vs Malice, Christopher Daniels vs Vampiro, plus other ECW veterans making appearances.
To be clear, I’m not saying MLW Underground is an exact replica to ECW. Just that it has a similar vibe that I think ECW fans may be interested in.
On to a recap and review of the show…
The opening montage featured American strong style, traditional pro, hardcore wrestling, Japanese strong style, luche libre, and Royal Road to mesh into MLW’s hybrid wrestling concept. The theme song was on point. I’m not a fan of that hard rock style of music, but it just fits for MLW Underground.
Joey Styles welcomed us to the broadcast from the ECW Arena in South Philly. MLW Underground is not sports entertainment. It is professional wrestling as real as it gets. Styles went solo on commentary.
Jerry Lynn vs LA Park
This was before LA Park lost the A in La Parka. He entered wearing a white mariachi outfit and holding an LWO steel chair. He played air guitar on his chair to the sounds of Santana. It was nice seeing Park show his skills from back when he was younger and slimmer.
Highlights of the match include Jerry Lynn doing the Pee-wee Herman dance after a bulldog, a flying crossbody by Lynn to the floor, a sweet spinning heel kick from Park, and a corkscrew plancha from Park. In the end, Park missed a twisting senton. That led to a whirling DDT from Lynn to win.
Apparently, this was a tournament match. I must have missed that news earlier. The ring announcer mentioned it in the background when calling out the winner.
A package played of MLW World Heavyweight Champion Satoshi Kojima cutting a babyface promo with good vibes in the ring. I had trouble understanding what was said. He was basically buttering up the fans, and they liked it.
Some dude in a flame mask put over his Zero Gravity finisher. He reminded me of Jordan Oliver.
Taiyo Kea is here to kick ass.
Chapter 1: The Rise of the Horsemen. Steve Corino, CW Anderson, and Simon Diamond were beating up Dusty Rhodes with a chair and a trashcan. The trio then put the boots to Terry Funk. A referee was also assaulted. Corino introduced the new faction as the Extreme Horsemen.
Hey, there. Richard Holliday was enjoying his morning coffee in a Dynastic Coffee mug. For sale at the MLW shop.
Styles informed us of an MLW Global Crown Tag Team Championship tournament. Teams mentioned were Samoan Island Tribe, Nosawa & Masada, Dr. Death Steve Williams & P.J. Friedman, Simon Diamond & CW Anderson, and Los Maximos.
Los Maximos cut a promo about when they started in this business. They were taught honor, respect, and discipline. In MLW, there is none of that. Only pride.
Taiyo Kea vs Jerry “Malice” Tuite
Taiyo Kea is a protege of Great Muta and wrestles in AJPW. This match was two big guys throwing blows. Tuite was more brawler, while Kea was more well-rounded. Big moves were a superplex and a spinebuster by Malice. Kea won after a flurry of kicks and a bridging northern lights suplex.
I assume it was the Samoan Island Tribe who spoke next. They have been blackballed from wrestling federations. They are the toughest SOBs, who were raised on the streets. They have an open contract with MLW to beat the hell out of everybody. They apologized now for beating ass later.
Steve Corino looked at Terry Funk and Dusty Rhodes as heroes when he was growing up. At King of Kings, he defeated both of them in the same match. Corino has achieved the same accomplishments as Funk, and Corino has done it better and quicker. Funk may be a legend in Japan, but Corino is a god over there. Corino challenged Funk to a match.
The tag tournament will begin in two weeks with first round matchups announced on next week’s MLW Underground.
Christopher Daniels vs Vampiro
Christopher Daniels was working his Fallen Angel character. Vampiro was without his dreadlocks and face paint. Vampiro took Daniels down to the mat early to work him over, and Daniels used the heel tactic of exiting the ring to stall for time as he recovered. Daniels got some momentum with a thumb to the eye. Vamp rebounded with a spinning leg lariat.
The action spilled to the outside as Vampiro smashed Daniels into the guardrail, bounced his head off a table, then hit him with a chair. The match went back and forth with highlights of an Arabian Press from Daniels to the floor, a powerbomb by Daniels, and a huge overhead belly-to-belly superplex by Vampiro.
The closing sequence began with a fiery exchange of chops between the two combatants. Vampiro went for a big boot, but Daniels ducked under. Daniels then ran right into a sambo suplex from Vampiro. That was the winning maneuver. Vampiro advanced in the heavyweight tournament.
The show closed with Raven burning a photo of who I’m guessing was Vampiro.
Overall, the debut episode of MLW Underground was enjoyable. It was a treat to see older stars back in their more athletic days. Even though the pace was slow for today’s standard, the high spots of all three matches were exciting. The promos were raw with fire. I like how everyone is there to kick ass.
The production is clearly not the polished product we have come to expect from the modern MLW Fusion. That is both good and bad. On the plus side, the roughness gives an appropriate gritty vibe to match the Underground name. On the negative side, wrestlers weren’t introduced before each promo. I don’t know who some of them are.
My biggest issue is that this show felt like we were dropped into the middle of storylines. I was a little confused. I guess two of the matches were part of a World Heavyweight Championship tournament, but that wasn’t clearly explained. Add to that a promo package of Satoshi Kojima as champ. Did that give away the result of the tournament? As a viewer, I’m trying not to research it that much, because I want the results to remain a surprise as much as possible.
Don’t take those thoughts as a reason not to watch. I liked the show. MLW Underground was produced in 2003, so that needs to be taken into account. It is interesting to observe the seeds of MLW that have evolved over time into their 2020 product. The format is generally the same and the emphasis on hybrid wrestling remains.
My favorite moments in no particular order were Jerry Lynn’s Pee-Wee Herman dance, Taiyo Kea’s fancy feet, and Vampiro’s big superplex.
Kea has me curious. I had never seen him before. He has a good look and sweet kicks. I’m looking forward to more of his matches.
Share your thoughts on the debut of MLW Underground. Will you be tuning in for future episodes? Who stole the show for you?
MLW’s weekly program (Fusion, Anthology, Underground) airs on beIN SPORTS Saturday nights at 10 pm ET / 7 pm ET. New episodes are posted on YouTube Saturdays at 6:05 pm ET. You can also check out MLW streaming on DAZN. In addition, MLW is broadcast in over 20 countries.