SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
MLW was back in New York for the second annual Battle Riot. The first Battle Riot, only eight months ago, is the most popular episode on their YouTube channel. At over 200,000 views, four times Fusion’s YouTube average of around 50,000, it is evidence that people love royal rumble-type matches. In case you missed it last year, the rules of the Battle Riot are as follows: Forty men enter at regularly scheduled intervals and then eliminations can occur by either pinfall, submission, or throwing your opponent over the top rope and causing both feet to hit the floor. There are no disqualifications, meaning weapons are legal.
Without further ado, let’s get to the Hits & Misses from MLW’s two-hour special, Battle Riot II.
Ace Austin: At 22 years old Austin is one of the youngest members of the roster. but despite his age, he has been wrestling full time for over four years and has gotten over 300 matches under his belt across various promotions such as Impact, CZW, AAW, and WXW. MLW has used Austin sparingly, which is a mistake, in my opinion. Austin has tremendous skill in the ring and connects with the audience no matter where he’s wrestling. I didn’t give a hit to the entire match this week, because the match itself wasn’t all that special. It was exactly what you expect and always get from a Teddy Hart match. If MLW wants to change things up, they should be looking at guys like Austin, and giving them some more TV time and actual storylines. Salina de La Renta and the hunt for a better number. Throughout the show, MLW had another hit, with the story of Salina de La Renta going around attempting to get a better Battle Riot number for her guys by any means possible. This lead to a number of different segments that all worked well. La Renta attempted to bribe Brian Pillman Jr. and, when that didn’t work, tried to seduce him. Pillman was very funny in this segment saying he would not give in to her boobery (instead of bribery) and other innuendo-laced slip-ups. Eventually, La Renta would be forced to use to force, and Rickey Martinez and LA Park took Ken Kerbis’ number. Good stuff here. I always love when MLW does these episode-long storylines, as they did with Callihan searching for Lawler a number of months ago. La Renta was spot on as usual.
Battle Riot II: I have to give this crazy match a thumbs up. I for one, like many in the wrestling world, love a battle royal. I especially enjoy this match. The various ways to eliminate someone really open up the story possibilities. You can have someone like Tom Lawler going around choking out dozens of competitors and looking dominate instead of tossing all the opponents over the rope. They showed a great video package at the beginning of the match, where they highlighted all of Lawler’s eliminations from last year. This really highlighted how different and unique this match is. I wouldn’t say this year had as great of a story as Lawler last year, but the Contra angle seemed big, and I like giving the title shot to LA Park. Park is a total wild card and I could see this his cash in happening a number of different ways. I don’t see him taking the belt off Lawler, but a Park Lawler feud can play out over the next few weeks or months on TV. My M.V.P for this year’s match was MJF. Coming out first, he cut a promo saying he wasn’t scared of being the first entrant, but after Dan Sevran was the second entrant, MJF showed his true colors. After Contra Unit was disqualified for laying waste to the entire ring and almost setting everyone on fire, MJF took advantage of the chaos pinning all the entrants Contra left laying. Other surprise entrants include LAX and The Blue Meanie and both got great reactions from the crowd.
The Dynasty smashes a champagne bottle over Teddy Hart’s head: I put this under the Misses section not because it was a bad idea – in fact, I like the general idea behind the attack. It was executed poorly, though. There really wasn’t a logical reason Hart to go over to where The Dynasty were seated in order to do the interview. They don’t normally do interviews by the barricade like that. So it was very obvious that they were setting up an angle here. Then to top it off Hart acts super awkward and the whole thing dragged on for too long before the bottle smash. Also, Hart doing the whole “BeIn Sports balls gag” has gotten old. I’d like to see fewer stupid jokes from Hart and more badass brawling. He should have gotten in the faces of Dynasty for what they did to him the other week, and then a fight should have broken out and then you hit him with the bottle.
NYC Streetfight: I’ve said it much time here on the torch so I won’t go into much detail about why hardcore matches just aren’t my cup of tea. But I usually try to judge any hardcore match separately from my own personal tastes because I know that a lot of people out there really do like these matches, and I’ll admit sometimes they are done well and can be very exciting. Unfortunately, this match didn’t hit that mark for me. I will admit that the crowd was pretty hot for the match, as these types of matches usually make for a good live crowd that enjoys seeing the carnage live. This match was over-the-top. I wasn’t a fan of the blade job Lawler did, as I thought the color wasn’t really necessary in this match.
Jim Cornette: Okay, I know I put him in my hits column last week, but if you recall I did so with hesitation, as I saw Cornette’s over-the-top personality as divisive, potentially coming off as annoying – or entertaining – depending on who you ask or even what week you ask them. This was one of those weeks where Cornette was annoying. His displeasure during the Street Fight was obvious because he basically crapped on the entire match. I get it, Jim, you don’t think this stuff is real wrestling, I’m almost on your side, but as a commentator, your job is to sell the action. I look to the commentary to make me want to keep watching the match I’m seeing, not convince me what I’m watching is garbage and I should probably change the channel. That, and his over-the-top yelling and nonsense metaphors during the Battle Riot had me reaching for the mute button. Tone it down Corney, it’s a bit much. At one point, Cornette said, “Don’t try to put logic in an illogical situation.” I think Cornette thinks he is still working for Stamford.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Thanks for checking out my Hits & Misses from this week’s show. I thought it was another good Battle Riot and a good sample for anyone who hasn’t checked out MLW yet. Looking at the numbers from last year, MLW gained some significant viewership after the first Battle Riot, so here’s to hoping this year brings in even more viewers and Fusion can build it’s viewership even higher. This week marks a full year since MLW started airing Fusion on BeIn Sports and uploading the shows on YouTube 24 hours later. They have seen viewership rise form 10-15K per episode to consistently getting over 50K views every week with this episode of Battle Riot heading toward 100K (watch it below). According to their social media, they are also on a streak of sellouts for their live shows. Business seems to be booming for MLW and I’m very excited to see how they plan to expand in 2019. They recently acquired a UK distribution deal, so maybe an overseas show is in the cards?