Though the first run for MLW went well and was at the right time it only lasted though from 2002-2004 before filing for bankruptcy. A few years ago the company returned and not only has this time around been more successful financially, but in general for the company. Though a lot of the news about the company has been simple a majority of the news has been positive. Recently, some historic news has come down from matchmaker Cesar Duran for the event scheduled for January 21, 2022, at MLW Blood & Thunder.
For the first time in over forty years the Von Erich family will challenge for championship gold in Dallas, TX. During the territory era each region had their top stars, but Texas was different because they had a family not just a top star. The Von Erich family name is one of the most well known families in the history of wrestling. On January 21, Ross and Marshall not only get the chance to continue the family legacy, but they're getting the chance to become the first tag team to win the MLW tag title on two occasions.
The first time around the Von Erich's won the tag team titles in November 2019, holding the gold for over 400 days. Los Parka's would end the title reign for the Von Erich boys in January 2021. Ross and Marshall had been off television recently with both boys having some time with family especially for one of the brothers who had recently became a father.
In over twenty years as a fan of this great sport I've never seen a free market with the amount of wildly known household names on the market. As I fan I didn't believe that I was the only one that took note of this and I wasn't with Major League Wrestling has adopted a new policy to go hand and hand with the free agent frenzy. The best way to piece together what this means is by using a quote taken directly from the article on MLW.com
"While the majority of MLW’s roster features contracted competitors, a percentage of each card will now feature free agents, ensuring exciting and unpredictable matchups." This tells me that they will likely have cards here and there with free agents joining the show as a way to keep the fans guessing and wondering who can show up. According to the article though this new open door policy will not be going into practice until next month as MLW looks to deliver dream matches to fans will the opportunity is in front of them.
“Whether they fight one night or 10 years in MLW, the open door policy will showcase and give exposure to a wide variety of talent and create the best cards for fans while creating…. opportunities,” continued Duran. “Who will step forth? Let’s find out!” Short term or long term, big name or just a familiar face this is a great idea and one of many ways to maximize the opportunity that this free agent market has afforded to active wrestling promotions nowadays.
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At the War Chamber event this weekend we saw it finally happen when former World Champion Jacob Fatu turned on his faction The Contra. Fatu then proceeded to get into a shoving match with former stablemate Madds Krugger. It seems based on these events Fatu has moved to the side of the good guys and will be a top baby face for MLW with Madds getting a bit of a push to take Jacob's old spot in the group. It will be interesting to see Jacob Fatu finally on the good side after spending his entire tenure with MLW on the dark side thus far.
One of the main things that were on my mind having to do with this event was the finals of the "Opera Cup" which came down to Davey Richards and TJ Perkins. Davey had been sparsely seen in the squared circle since 2018 having basically retired from wrestling before returning to the ring earlier this year. Davey took home the cup and dedicated it to all the fans in Philadelphia on the night. Currently, Davey is one half of PWR Tag Team Champions with long time partner Eddie Edwards. Honestly, I'm happy to see Davey in the midst of his second act getting another chance to do what he's one of the best at and that is wrestle.
Side notes, the MLW tag team division will be getting some added assistance with The Von Erich's returning to the promotion in the very near future after a bit of a break. As well it seems MLW will be heading to Mexico for tapings next month using Cesar Duran as an explanation for taping TV south of the boarder. However, the promotion will be returning to Philadelphia starting in January on a monthly basis once again.
In the modern wrestling landscape we don't often hear much about promotions across the Pacific other than New Japan. However, it was announced on Twitter on October 27, by MLW Owner Court Bauer that current MLW World Middleweight Champion Yoshiro Taijri will defend his newly won championship in All Japan Pro-Wrestling. The challenger for Taijri's championship will be AJPW star Atuski Aoyagi and the event will be held on Sunday November 28. This contest will not only mark Taijri's first title defense, but it will also be the first time that an MLW World Championship has been defended in All Japan Pro-Wrestling since 2003.
The World Middleweight Championship had just changed hands early last month when Taijri defeated then champion Myron Reed for the gold in a four way match also including Aramis and Arez. Taijri won the gold at the Fightland event which also played host to the most highly anticipated match in modern MLW between Hammerstone and Fatu.
At 51 years old, Taijri is showing that he's just as good as all the youngsters and if he's anything like he was a few years ago in the Cruiserweight classic then he's just as good as he's ever been. Every roster needs a few veterans to help to teach the youngsters the proper way to carry on in the world of wrestling. WWE doesn't exactly allow veterans to be assets. It's always good to see companies treating veterans as assets instead of liabilities and Taijri wouldn't be in this position if he wasn't considered an asset. Atsuki Aoyagi has a tough test ahead of him against a true legend of pro-wrestling on November 28.
Since the relaunch of Major League Wrestling in 2018, there have been three names that helped carry the banner for the promotion and rebuild the new image. Those three names are Jacob Fatu, Alexander Hammerstone, and "Filthy" Tom Lawlor. From the standpoint of telling the MLW story I will save that for another article that is just meant to focus on Tom Lawlor. Timing is everything in wrestling and Lawler had been released from his contract with UFC on August 13, 2018, two months before his suspension was set to end.
In a quote taken from an MMAsports.com article Lawlor had this to say regarding his release: "While the timing is unexpected, hopefully this opens the doors for me to continue with my mixed martial arts career as well as in the squared circle (squared circle is an old term for pro wrestling)." Lawlor had likely been eyeing up moving to pro-wrestling after his two year suspension from MMA and thought it was now or never. As I mentioned though, timing is everything in pro-wrestling and within less than a year of being granted his release from UFC he not only made the move to pro-wrestling, but became a World Champion.
Tom Lawlor would become one of the first homegrown stars for MLW since the relaunch the year before and he gave some instant credibility to the still developing brand. As I mentioned in the past with regards to my lacking coverage of ROH in the past I know I could've easily not given MLW it's own tab, but I thought with regards to who left the promotion it was fitting. Lawlor is currently the Strong Openweight Champion in New Japan so at least we know where he'll be headed next, but he joins the list of proven draws on the free agent market. Lawlor has not only made a smooth transition to the world of pro-wrestling, but helped establish MLW as one of the more underrated promotions in wrestling today.
With the finals of the Opera Cup tournament coming up this weekend I thought it would be fitting to dive into the history of the Opera Cup and offer more information to those who might be aware. Up until I started noticing more advertisements from MLW I had no idea what the Opera Cup tournament was other than an interesting name for a tournament being conducted by an underrated promotion. Seeing these quotes definitely caught my interest though:
“The oldest professional wrestling tournament in history will add a new chapter to its legacy as the 2021 edition of the “classic” comes to a conclusion on November 6th.”
“Held annually for nearly 50 years at various turn-of-the-century opera house locations from New York City to Boston, the Professional Wrestling Opera House Cup was a grueling multi-day tournament.”
Pro-wrestling has an insanely rich history that a lot of promotions seem to ignore for whatever reason. Likely most of it having to do with the thought that fans might not be interested in hearing about historical events that happened 70-100 years ago. However, it seems to me that MLW is out to keep the history alive and not just that, but keep those names from the past in the conversation.
After a seventy-one year hiatus the Opera cup returned in 2019 and to show the importance the cup has it was constructed by the craftsmen who have worked on the Stanley Cup for the NHL. I’ve never seen names like George Hackenschmidt, Waldek Zbyszko, or Stu Hart mentioned on an active wrestling companies website outside of their Hall of Fame page.
“Inspired by the legends whose names are immortalized in plaques on the sides of the cup, including: George Hackenschmidt, Stu Hart, Leo Pardello, William Muldoon and Waldek Zbyszko, “the classic” has returned to reignite the spirit of the greats who preceded today and tomorrow’s greats.”
The opera cup is still deeply rooted in mystery, but I am a huge fan of tournaments, especially tournaments that carry a lot of weight. I would still love to learn more about the tournament and it's roots, but from what I have learned I am extremely interested. One can point out the idea that having the craftsmen who have worked on the Stanley Cup to construct your cup is enough, but this quote adds a little bit more to the perception of the tournament.
“The Professional Wrestling Opera Cup is dedicated to the great men who have fought valiantly before us to ensure our passion, professional wrestling be cemented and respected in the annals of time.”
For more articles and all up to date information on Major League Wrestling visit www.mlw.com or for more on the Opera Cup click here!