MLW Fusion #96 Recap: Fatu vs. Pillman For The Major League Wrestling World Title
MLW Fusion is one of those shows worth catching every Saturday. The build of each show is generally solid and Major League Wrestling lets you know what to expect as the next episode approaches. The 2/8 episode—MLW Fusion #96—featured three matches and some strong build for the storylines going on in the company. Let’s dive in before this week’s episode.
Josef Samuel Threatens Brian Pillman Ahead of MLW World Title Bout
The show opens with an announcement from CONTRA Unit, one of the three main heel factions in the company. It’s also the faction with probably the coolest logo in the industry. Headed up by Josef Samael—who sometimes wrestles and was a former NWA World Champion—its big star is Jacob Fatu.
CONTRA Unit’s beef is with The Hart Foundation which is now just Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Brian Pillman Jr. Young Brian is getting a shot at Fatu’s MLW World Heavyweight title but Samael says things aren’t going to be easy for The Hart Foundation.
As a matter of fact, he threatened them with his Sentai Death Squad, two masked goons. CONTRA Unit has enough goons but more never hurt. After he finishes, the intro video play but the CONTRA Unit logo pops up again and he actually finishes his threat on the Harts.
“Filthy” Tom Lawlor Trashes The Von Erichs
So, MLW Fusion #96 was at Houston’s NYTEX Sports Center in North Richland Hills—just outside of Fort Worth. Yes, we’re in Von Erich territory! So much Texas wrestling history and—oh, here comes “Filthy” Tom Lawlor and his goon with the awesome mustache.
He’s throwing up the Von Erich Claw mockingly before going into dissing the Von Erich clan. The crowd tells him to remove the Von Erich shirt. Always willing to comply, he removes it wipes himself with it, then teabags it before throwing it into the crowd. Lawlor continues trashing people when the fan tries feebly to toss the shirt back in.
As expected, the fan catches the fade from Tom Lawlor. He says that the Team Filthy dojo is looking for bonafide fighters, trashes high flyers, and introduces their attack dog for tonight: Dominic Garrini. Great work on the mic by Lawlor.
MLW Fusion Opening Bout: Dominic Garrini vs. Zenshi
Garrini has a background in judo and Brazillian jiu-jitsu. He would definitely be in MLW’s middleweight division but the guy is built like one of those odd hybrid juniors: stocky and solid. As you’d expect, he’d either be great at throws and on the mat or oppressing conventional cruisers.
Speaking of conventional cruisers, Zenshi is a high flyer billed from Chile but I don’t know, folks. Both are good at what they do when paired against opponents of similar styles. Zenshi flies and has some graceful counters while Garrini’s style is raw, mat-based, with brute force submissions. At times it can look sloppy but for some reason, it works for me.
As for the clash between these two, it was…oof. Awkward. There were moments where I just couldn’t with this match. Things just didn’t gel with these two. It ended with Dominic Garrini busting up Zenshi’s arm and slapping on his Mighty Mouse cross arm breaker for the win.
Dominic Garrini def. Zenshi via The Mighty Mouse (SUBMISSION)
Afterward, Lawlor dances around the fallen Zenshi. He got back on the mic and said that it might seem like Garrini went too far but Team Filthy would be showing no mercy! Following the match, we get footage of Davey Boy Smith Jr. saving Brian Pillman Jr. from an ambush by the Sentai Death Squad.
Dynasty Has A Special Announcement About An Upcoming MLW Fusion!
MLW National Openweight champion Alexander Hammerstone—a talent WWE passed up several times—always has some sort of big news. He’s joined by Dynasty members MJF and Gino Medina. MJF gets a ton of deserved praise for his mic skills and heel work but Hammerstone is no slouch and he’s pretty dope in the ring.
The trio does their bit about fellow member Richard Holliday’s lawyer/father before Hammerstone announces that strings were pulled and they will be producing an episode of MLW Fusion. Major League Wrestling does this often where wrestlers are in charge of promoting a show.
Often, when the heels get their chance, matches are booked in their favor. This time is no different. While we’re on the subject of Dynasty…
Richard Holliday vs. Savio Vega
MJF is out here to do guest commentary as “The Most Marketable Man in Wrestling” Richard Holliday takes on Savio Vega. Richard Holliday is a really solid all-rounder who can go in a singles match but shines in a tag match. He has a look and can get it done on the mic as well.
Young Holliday asks MJF to watch his AirPods. This is very important and the two gush about Holliday trusting MJF with them. Yes, there was a hug. Savio came out with the old IWA Puerto Rico Caribbean title. It’s his pride and joy. Honestly, there wasn’t much to the bout but MJF’s color commentary was golden. Like the showers he claimed AJ Kirsch enjoys. Kirsch denies it. I’m not one to judge.
It was a short, pretty even brawl with Richard Holliday picking up the win with the Market Crash (or the Final Cut).
Richard Holliday def. Savio Vega via The Market Crash (PIN)
After the match, MJF raises Holliday’s hand and they take a lap around the outside in celebration. For good measure, the duo snags Savio’s Caribbean title. How dastardly!
Brian Pillman Jr. Preps To Face Jacob Fatu
We get backstage to find Davey Boy Smith Jr. telling Brian Pillman Jr. to be careful in his match and that he has his back. CONTRA Unit is not to be trusted and the Harts are down a member. The Von Erichs show up and say that they have Pillman’s back as well.
Pillman seems nervous but Ross Von Erich says he has some advice on how to deal with Jacob Fatu. Young Pillman leaves with the Von Erichs to talk strategy.
MLW hypes Killer Kross coming soon. As we know, he signed with WWE. We also get a short interview with Mance Warner—a good brawler with a redneck gimmick—who calls Dynasty some assholes. Ha! Facts! Before MLW World Heavyweight title bouts, Major League Wrestling does a roll call of former champions. I always thought this was dope. Plus MLW has a short enough history to pull it off without it being lengthy. Classy.
We also had some more packages. L.A. Park is coming back soon. We know how awesome he still is in his 50s. Also, the trio of Injustice has been on a tear about shoddy referee work. This has resulted in them taking matches into their own hands. The commentators noted that Major League Wrestling will have new protocols in place to make sure quality referees handle important matches.
MLW World Heavyweight Title: Jacob Fatu (c) vs. Brian Pillman Jr.
Jacob Fatu is an agile brawler who is great at his role as a dangerous wrecking ball. Honestly, MLW is full of people I’m surprised WWE and AEW haven’t just plucked yet and Fatu is one of them. Fatu defeated Tom Lawlor for the belt in July 2019 and has gone on to have three successful defenses as of this taping. Each bout was a war.
Brian Pillman Jr. is a hot up-and-comer who only gets better with each year. He’s still in his mullet phase but once he hits the tights and loose cannon phase, Young Pillman will be a threat! Fatu had some trouble with the fiery Pillman but it was a back-and-forth bout.
I tell you what, that Air Pillman springboard lariat will shift the momentum of the match if you’re not careful. He was really feeling the match and could see that the ball was in his court! Backstage, the Sentai Death Squad ambushes DBS! Dastardly.
I won’t say Pillman had this won but interference from Jordan Oliver and MLW World Middleweight Champion Myron Reed turned the tide. Both are members of Injustice and you never know when they’ll show up.
The interference allowed for the match to shift back in Jacob Fatu’s grasp and he put Pillman away with two clean Moonsaults. This heavyweight runs up the ropes—no touch—and hits them so buttery smooth. Or as buttery smooth as a 300lbs guy landing on a 205lbs guy can.
Jacob Fatu def. Brian Pillman Jr. via Moonsault Press (PIN) ~ 4th Defense
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