Major League Wrestling (MLW) has signed a deal with beIN Sports for a one-hour weekly show, becoming the latest professional wrestling promotion with weekly television.
The series, which will be called “Major League Wrestling: Fusion”, will premiere on Friday, April 20th at 8 pm Eastern, its new regular timeslot on beIN Sports USA.
Talks between the two groups began around the time of MLW’s return last October with their “One Shot” card. Terms of the deal have not been released, although we were told that MLW is being paid a rights fee for the programming and it is said to be a multi-year deal.
The MLW crew was in Orlando this past week filming material for a series of upcoming commercials to promote the launch of the series. The talent at the shoot included Low Ki, MVP, Tom Lawlor, Col. Rob Parker, Santana Garrett, Barrington Hughes, and others.
The series will feature the return of Tony Schiavone as a weekly wrestling announcer. He will be teaming with Rich Bocchini (formerly Rich Brennan with the WWE). For Schiavone, it will be his first television role with a wrestling promotion since WCW went out of business in March 2001, which by coincidence was 17-years ago today. Aside from working for the ill-fated XWF project in late 2001 and appearing for NWA TNA in 2003, Schiavone had largely stayed out of professional wrestling since 2001. Over the past year, he has resurfaced both with MLW and his weekly podcast with Conrad Thompson on the MLW Radio network.
The promotion has worked out several deals for their main talent, including allowing performers to wrestle for other promotions such as Impact Wrestling, with the only restriction being WWE. They have also worked a deal with Lucha Underground, where MLW will be able to use Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix for their television product under those names.
One of the more interesting cases is Tom Lawlor’s (who has been featured on MLW’s recent shows) and whether his UFC contract would prohibit him from appearing on television. Lawlor is currently serving a two-year suspension from USADA after a failed drug test in October 2016 for Ostrarine, which Lawlor maintains he never knowingly took. Several fighters, such as Tim Means and Josh Barnett, have been able to prove the banned substance was found in tainted supplements.
The production staff working on the show includes Nelson Sweglar (former producer at WWE), Dan Bynum (former director with World Class Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling and Ring of Honor), Charlie Bruzzese (former producer with Extreme Championship Wrestling), Alex Greenfield (former lead writer on WWE SmackDown), Robert Karpeles (former writer at WWE), and Bruce Prichard, who is working as a supervising producer on the show.
The original MLW was launched in 2002 by Court Bauer and ran for two-years, featuring a television series called “Underground TV” on the Sunshine Network in Florida. After the collapse of the company, Bauer worked for the WWE as a writer from 2005-2007. In 2012, he brought MLW back as a podcast network with personalities such as Konnan, Jim Cornette, and later Bruce Prichard, before its return to promoting live wrestling events last October.
In speaking with Bauer, he stated that the biggest difference for this incarnation of MLW is the sponsorship support it has received. He also has hopes of expanding the television product to include a Spanish language version in the future.
As of November 2017, beIN Sports USA was available in 22 million homes in the U.S. If they can get onto beIN Sports Espanol, it would represent an additional 18.4 million homes MLW would be able to enter.