The show kicked off with a well put together video package to build up the “Death Match” between Jimmy Havoc and Shane Strickland.
The show is being called by Tony Schiavone and Rich Bocchini.
Matt Riddle and Jeff Cobb drove up in what was the worst looking rental car in the history of the trope within professional wrestling. Cobb was attacked by Tom Lawlor and Seth Petruzelli and they slammed the car down on his right hand before being chased away by Riddle. The question looming is whether this will take Cobb out of the tag match between the two teams tonight.
THE DIRTY BLONDES (LEO BRIEN & MICHAEL PATRICK) VS JASON CADE AND JIMMY YUTA
Schiavone compared Cade and Yuta to a young Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood, which is quite the comparison to make for Schiavone. You can definitely see in Yuta’s style that Steamboat is an influence.
The Blondes got the heat after Patrick pulled down the middle rope and Cade spilled down onto the floor.
The Blondes hit a double Alabama slam to Yuta, but Cade made the save.
Brien accidentally hit Patrick with his spit cup and led to the finish with Cade landing a top rope splash and Yuta landing a top rope elbow drop for the win.
WINNERS: JASON CADE AND JIMMY YUTA AT 7:14
Yuta and Cade worked well as a young babyface tag team. I like the Dirty Blondes as characters and the match was fine for what it was in the opening spot. Yuta was the standout and with experience, I could see him developing into a great babyface.
There was a shot of Cobb being tended to backstage and continuing the tease of whether Cobb can compete.
Saieve Al Sabah came down to the ring, Schiavone compared Al Sabah to his Sunday morning preacher. He began to speak about his revolution and was interrupted by Mike Parrow. Bocchini explained that Parrow had been in the news recently as he recently announced he was gay and only told his friends and family four-years ago.
Parrow then tossed Al Sabah to the floor and Parrow’s opponent entered the arena.
MIKE PARROW VS VANDAL ORTAGUN
Parrow is in control when Al Sabah returns with brass knuckles and leads to Ortagun attacking Parrow’s knee and followed by Al Sabah hitting Parrow with the brass knuckles and the bell is called.
WINNER: MIKE PARROW BY DQ AT 1:22
Al Sabah and Ortagun embraced after the match and appear to have formed an allegiance.
Aria Blake is the backstage interviewer and spoke with Matt Riddle, he called Tom Lawlor and Seth Petruzelli “cowards”. He said the match is happening even if it’s a handicap match. He said he would fight them in the ring, the street or even CHILI’S.
They listed the following dates for MLW events this year in Orlando: February 8th, March 8th, April 12th, May 10th, July 12th, September 6th and November 8th.
Maxwell Jacob Freidman came out, he ran down the people as “zeroes”, he will win the tournament to become the MLW world champion and is better than you.
MAXWELL JACOB FRIEDMAN VS BRODY KING
King lit up Friedman with a series of chops. King misses a cannonball into the corner and his hand was stomped by Friedman.
King caught Friedman coming off the middle rope and hit him with a sit-out powerbomb and got a two-count.
Friedman hit the South Hampton Plunge, which is a piledriver off the middle rope, which King kicked out of. Friedman misses with an Asai moonsault and was powerbombed onto the edge of the apron by King.
King brought him back inside the ring and hit the Cradle Shock to win the match.
WINNER: BRODY KING AT 7:09
The match started off with the idea Freidman would work over the hand, but it was a minimal part of the match. It built to some big spots at the end without doing too much. Freidman has a lot of charisma and is a very good heel.
Jamie Iovine is backstage and complained that King should have been disqualified and then interviewed Stokely Hathaway. He cut a promo on MVP and that he would learn about doing business “the wrong way”. He guaranteed MVP will leave on a stretcher after his match with Low Ki.
CHICO ADAMS VS BARRINGTON HUGHES
Hughes has resolutions for the new year, including being bigger than he already he is and being more dominant.
Hughes immediately hits a uranage and wins the match.
WINNER: BARRINGTON HUGHES AT 0:08
Just a fun, quick squash match and this is a character they have built upon each MLW show. The announcers added whether there is anyone in MLW that can lift him.
The physician is recommending that Jeff Cobb goes to the hospital for an x-ray. Cobb says he is only missing this match “if I’m dead” and insists she wraps up his hand. If this physician worked in the WWE, Bryan Danielson would be working WrestleMania.
SAMMY GUEVARA (w/ Salina De La Renta) VS DARBY ALLIN
There was lots of stalling from Guevara to stop any momentum that Allin would gain.
They fought on the floor and led to a Coffin Drop from Allin off a guardrail that was seamless in its execution as he hopped onto the rail and leaped backward onto Guevara.
Guevara took over after Allin ran back first into the post from the edge of the apron.
Bocchini warned Allin to have his “head on a swivel”.
De La Renta distracted Allin and gave Guevara enough time to get his knees up for a Coffin Drop off the top. Guevara continued to attack Allin’s back and landed a shooting star press to the back for a near fall.
Bocchini corrected himself when he called the shooting star “a 450 splash” and Schiavone responded, “there are so many moves, you can’t get all of them right”.
The two traded strikes and led to Allin applying a bridging Inverted figure-four, that Allin calls “The Last Supper” and Allin got the win.
WINNER: DARBY ALLIN AT 14:36
De La Renta was upset with Guevara for losing the match.
Allin has a lot of personality and he had a great year in 2017 in terms of getting his name out there to a larger audience. Guevara is very young but has a lot of tools that you can see him becoming a standout in the future.
The match wasn’t an insane Darby Allin style of performance, but it didn’t call for it either and focused more on the Guevara dynamic with De La Renta.
MJ JENKINS VS SANTANA GARRETT
Garrett went for a leap out of the corner and it was mistimed and may have caught Jenkins with a knee.
Jenkins was in control until Garrett landed Eat Defeat and started to fight back.
Garrett hit a handstand huracanrana off the ropes and followed with a handspring back elbow to Jenkins in the corner. Garrett won with the Shining Star Press, which was a handspring off the ropes into a standing moonsault.
WINNER: SANTANA GARRETT AT 6:25
The match had a few hiccups and you can see the difference in experience as Jenkins only started wrestling in 2016.
Jamie Iovine spoke with Tom Lawlor and Seth Petruzelli, Lawlor said at “Never Say Never”, Riddle applied a choke going for his windpipe and it was deplorable and did the Kurt Angle defense of claiming he never submitted.
REY FENIX VS PENTA EL ZERO M (w/ Salina De La Renta)
It was clear this was the match the audience had the most interest for and were all on their feet for the entrances and made this feel important right away.
The announcers played up the brother angle.
The match started with a sequence of kicks with each one receiving a louder reaction than the one prior and going nuts when both went down from simultaneous kicks.
Fenix hit an insane tope con giro through the ropes to the floor and into the chairs.
As a live show performer, there are few at Pentagon’s level and his ability to maximize everything through facial expressions and doing both subtle and not so subtle techniques is incredible to watch in this setting.
Fenix leaped off the apron with a huracanrana that took both into the audience as they crashed down.
Fenix springboarded to the top and landed a Spanish Fly for a two-count.
Penta leaped off the second turnbuckle into a Canadian Destroyer for a two-count of his own.
Penta sent Fenix up in the air and he rotated over to come down in a powerbomb, snapped the arm of Fenix and then delivered the Pentagon Driver for the win.
WINNER: PENTA EL ZERO M AT 14:07
This was excellent, the crowd treated this as the main event and was a well-structured match without doing everything you can imagine and your head is spinning at the end. There are few performers at Penta’s level when it comes to the non-wrestling performance side and how much he can convey without words. This is the match to seek out on this event.
There was a video package on Tom Lawlor training guys and teaching them the art of fish hooking. This was great, it was Lawlor teaching fighters how to cheat and fight dirty. Riddle was interviewed and referred to Lawlor simply as “TOM” with such disgust in his voice. Lawlor revealed his partner as Seth Petruzelli and called him “one of the greatest fighters in mixed martial arts history”. This was a great video package. Lawlor is an awesome personality but playing off Riddle made this so great with the contrast.
Schiavone calls this next match “UFC against UFC”.
“FILTHY” TOM LAWLOR AND SETH PETRUZELLI VS MATT RIDDLE AND JEFF COBB
Cobb was selling his right hand so effectively that he didn’t even use both hands to remove his t-shirt before the match.
Bocchini made the comparison of Riddle to Kerry Von Erich.
Riddle and Petruzelli traded open hand strikes and then exchanged leg kicks. Petruzelli checked a leg kick and Riddle sold it big.
Cobb tagged himself and attacked Lawlor without using the right hand. Lawlor cut him off by attacking the injured hand. From this point, Lawlor and Petruzelli cut off the ring and worked over Cobb.
Riddle received the hot tag and hit Lawlor with the Bro 2 Sleep and a bridging German suplex for a two-count. Petruzelli tagged in and the two went for Chasing the Dragon but Riddle countered and landed a flying knee onto Lawlor.
It went back to Riddle and Petruzelli exchanging leg kicks, Riddle caught him with a snap powerbomb and landed a running knee and pinned Petruzelli.
WINNERS: MATT RIDDLE AND JEFF COBB AT 14:11
This was a very good tag match and a totally different presentation from the match that preceded it. The audience peaked for Penta and Fenix but were into this match as well. Cobb’s selling was strong. Lawlor has all the natural instincts that will help set him apart. I like Lawlor being in a tag team as he and Petruzelli had the mechanics of a great heel tag team on display in this match. Petruzelli didn’t leave a strong impression on me but the leg kick spots with Riddle were well done.
There was a video on the history of MVP with Black Friday Management, which was a group in the original MLW with Gary Hart and Low Ki. These are exceptional at bringing up to speed on the issue and through the use of strong personalities such as MVP and Stokely Hathaway.
LOW KI VS MVP IN A “SUPER FIGHT”
The ring announcer alerted the audience this was a “Suuuuuuuuper FIGHT”.
MVP dumped Low Ki to the floor after a pair of running boots into the corner.
Low Ki attacked MVP with kicks while he was seated in a chair, MVP got up and rammed the chair into Low Ki’s face.
Low Ki was thrown into the chairs on the floor and the brawl continued.
Low Ki was pressed in the air, landed on the shoulders of MVP and came down with a dropkick to MVP.
The referee Frank Gastineau was warning Low Ki and he slapped the official and followed with a kick to the back of the head. The bell is called and the two are separated by officials and the fans began to chant “bullshit”.
WINNER: NO CONTEST AT 9:39
The match seemed more to build to something in the future and keep the MVP vs. BFM issue ongoing. The audience didn’t take the finish but that’s always the risk in doing something like that especially late in a show where the audience is conditioned to having a finish. The brawling element was very good and hopefully, Low Ki is around as he is one of the most talented performers to build a promotion around.
They announced the brackets for the “Road to the World Championship” tournament with the following opening round matches:
*Tom Lawlor vs. MVP
*Matt Riddle vs. Jeff Cobb
*Shane Strickland vs. Brody King
*Maxwell Jacob Freidman vs. Jimmy Havoc
There are alternates in the tournament that have signed “CONFIDENTIALITY RELEASES”. The announcers explained that Low Ki is out of the tournament after striking Gatineau the last match. They are positioning Low Ki as the outlaw of the promotion.
Shane Strickland cut a promo on Jimmy Havoc stating he isn’t trapped in this Deathmatch with Havoc but instead, Havoc is trapped in this match with him.
SHANE STRICKLAND VS JIMMY HAVOC IN A “DEATHMATCH”
The beginning of the match took place on the floor with chairs being used and they fought onto the bar set up. Havoc hit him with a DDT onto the bar. The audience was chanting for Havoc.
They made it into the ring and Havoc used a staple gun onto the back of Strickland. He starts stapling Strickland’s chest, but Strickland keeps walking towards Havoc and uses the staple gun on Havoc. Strickland takes a $5 bill and staples it to the forehead of Havoc and then staples one to his own shoulder.
Strickland staples Havoc right near the crotch and prompted Schiavone to ask, “what is wrong with the world?”
Havoc had the bill and placed it across the edges of Strickland’s mouth to papercut him. Havoc poured a bag of thumbtacks onto the canvas. Havoc sat on the chair with thumbtacks on them and they trade shots with each seated in a chair facing the other.
Both had tacks placed in their mouth and let to double boots to the face and each went down. Schiavone admits he is enjoying this.
A pair of barbed-wire boards were brought into the ring and the finish came with Havoc hitting the Go Home Driver onto the barbed-wire board and Havoc pinning Strickland.
WINNER: JIMMY HAVOC AT 18:13
Havoc shook Strickland’s hand after the match.
This was easily the most violent match on the show and it would have been very difficult to have anything follow this. The audience was into the spots and they did tell a story with Strickland diving into Havoc’s specialty and showcasing how violent he could be. These types of matches are not my cup of tea and this had the feel of a crazy Lucha Underground gimmick match. I did like the post-match deal with Havoc endorsing Strickland, who feels like the franchise player that they are building things around.
The show ended with Santana Garrett being interviewed by Aria Blake and was asked about Priscilla Kelly’s ongoing obsession with Garrett. Garrett walked into a room and it was a shrine with dozens of photos of Garrett on the wall with the word “WONDER” written across them. She then saw a video on the monitor inside the room and it was this creepy video of Priscilla Kelly entering Garrett’s home and filming her sleeping.
This was a very enjoyable show and easy to watch with a great structure to the show.
There was a show-long story with the injury to Jeff Cobb, there was the direction for the future with regards to the inconclusive finish of MVP and Low Ki’s issue and the looming title tournament and you ended the show with the second angle on the show with Priscilla Kelly’s continual stalking of Santana Garrett.
The show also had a distinct undercard where the first half of the show wasn’t designed to steal the show or blow the rest out of the water, they were matches designed for character building and younger talent getting experience while the latter half of the show was the big matches to concentrate the focus upon.
Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix had the match-of-the-night and the audience never reached this level of enthusiasm with the matches that followed.
I really enjoyed the tag match as Tom Lawlor and Seth Petruzelli can be a terrific heel tag team and conversely, Matt Riddle and Jeff Cobb have already been teaming for a while and have their chemistry down.
The deathmatch main event is the type of match I can do once a year, but there was a story attached to the match and they tried to make the big spots mean something as opposed to gratuitous, but I’m not the audience for these types of matches.
One final note is that videos were limited to the three top matches and was way better than every match having one to where the important ones would mean less. Each video package had a different theme for the match with the obnoxious bully in Tom Lawlor, the deep history between MVP and Low Ki and the violence laid out for the main event deathmatch. The closing angle with Santana Garrett and Priscilla Kelly also worked well with me, it easily could have come across as “campy” but the performances, in particular of Kelly made the presentation.