ANNOUNCE TEAM: Joe Dombrowski and Matt Striker
Promo Package focusing on The Calling, showing their history as a group and the intersection between themselves and the Second Gear Crew. This is the kind of fully formed storytelling that has felt sorely lacking over the past few weeks.
Second Gear Crew will be facing The Calling for the MLW Tag Team Titles later tonight. Finally, a Fusion match with some heat on it.
Mister Saint Lauren starts the live to tape portion of episode 189 with a promo where he informs us that Matt Cardona will be receiving an MLW title match against Alex Kane (or Jacob Fatu) at MLW One Shot.
MATCH #1- Mance Warner vs Talon
We start off the in-ring action with a nice win for Mance Warner who picks up a needed win over Talon after a decent but fairly stock standard TV match; exactly what was needed for Mance Warner at this point in time.
We get a recap of the return of Tony Deepen who attacked Kevin Blackwood and aligned with T.J Crawford. Tony Deepen is still suspended in kayfabe by MLW as a result of these attacks. Even though this particular story has been quite basic thus far, MLW are doing a good job making Deepen feel both dangerous and more intriguing through this angle.
We cut to the parking lot where Matt Cardona arrives and is greeted by Mister Saint Lauren, who goes on to present him with a brand-new BMW. Cardona then literally makes out with the hood of the car.
Being brutally honest, Cardona making out with the car came off as a parody of a heel wrestler being schmoozed by a heel manager, and came off silly rather than cocky or arrogant on Cardona’s part.
We then cut to another backstage promo from champion Alex Kane, who badmouths Jacob Fatu and claims that it is in fact Kane, not Fatu; who’s top dog in MLW, and he has no plans to lose the title any time soon. Then he yells his “BOOMBAYE” catchphrase multiple times before the segment cuts.
This felt like a fairly similar promo from the one we saw last week from Alex Kane. Since episode 189 was yet again, taped at MLW Slaughterhouse; it is really obvious that they had Alex just record several of these to air over subsequent weeks.
In ring, Alex Kane makes for a great champion but the promos aren’t really building any steam for him.
A mouthpiece such as Salina De La Renta or MSL would probably be a good thing for Alex Kane, at least until he feels comfortable in his own skin cutting promos.
We get a promo highlighting the recent return of Filthy Tom Lawlor, who frankly is currently the best talent on their roster in my opinion.
We cut to MSL and Lawlor in MSL’s office. MSL seems determined to entice Lawlor even more towards joining with him, but they don’t really convey any new information here that wasn’t otherwise already put across in other segments. There is an over usage of backstage segments in MLW.
Another backstage promo, this time a decent promo from the new leader of The Calling, Ricky Shane Page, who as of last week became the group’s new leader. He came across better in that role this week than he did last week which is a good thing to see.
We then get back to back promos from Matt Cardona and Jacob Fatu- decent work, however we have still only had one match so far that went under 2 minutes and we’ve already focused on these two a lot this episode.
MATCH #2- J Boujii vs Brett Ryan Gosselin
Gosselin starts off with the classic heel attacking the babyface while he’s taking his shirt off. The two of them go and forth with quick offense before Gosselin picked up a win. Nice to see that heels get wins in MLW with regularity. However, this still only went a few minutes, under 5 in my estimation.
We then get a badly done comedy skit with Love Doug, who low key harasses some lady hoping to meet up with B3cca. Minoru Suzuki walks up and smacks Doug in the face. So,all in one 30 second span, we get a bad comedy bit plus Suzuki is already doing silliness on MLW.
There is then a backstage segment where in MSL pays off some random guy to blame Jacob Fatu for an earlier attack on Mr Thomas. The idea here was that MSL wants to turn Alex Kane vs Jacob Fatu into a personal issue in order for Matt Cardona to pick the bones and take the title at One Shot. The problem is, such a segment is difficult to pull off within the auspices of a pro wrestling show. Lucha Underground was able to regularly do these kinds of intricate stories because their show was formatted as scripted television, not a wrestling show. This didn’t work and also by this point, I was getting worn out by all the segments.
We then cut to another segment announcing Don King will deliver another message next week. When we last saw King on episode 181, I praised his work even though he has clearly no interest in wrestling outside of the pay check.
However, I find myself feeling less than confident about it given the lack of quality control that has become apparent in the intervening weeks since.
We once again go to the back and Alex Kane and Jacob Fatu have a very fake pull apart fight before another random dude walks up with a phone and reveals to Kane that MSL and Cardona set this whole thing up. Kane then vows revenge and that’s it.
This was by far the most frustrating element of the episode. Why bother with the set up only to pay it off in such a non-impactful way?
MATCH #3- MLW Tag Team Title Table Match: (c) The Calling (Akira and Rickey Shane Page) vs. Second Gear Crew (1 Called Manders and Matthew Justice)
Finally, we arrive at the main event. When it was announced at the top of the episode, I was pumped but by the time it actually started the episode had well and truly fallen out of favour with me.
Everyone involved tried to get heat on this but it ended up feeling clumsy and messy and it ended in a no contest even though it was a table match so theoretically can’tend without a winner, but I guess now it can? This also didn’t break the 9-minute mark time wise.
We then top it off with a very lame segment of Jacob Fatu speeding off in Cardona’s new car. Once again, why not spend time building up the car as something important to Cardona rather than blow that angle off right now?
I had high hopes that episode 189 would be a return to form for Fusion but contrary to that hope, this was in fact the worst episode I’ve reviewed since I began covering the show. The same major problems persist- Too many segments, nothing taped live, nothing given time to breathe and develop.
FINAL THOUGHTS & RATING:
This was a rough episode to get through after starting so promising. I really hope MLW pull it together soon for the sake of everyone there.
There is simply too much wrestling out there in 2023 for this to be considered an acceptable standard of TV. Without wanting to be too harsh, this episode veered way too close to AEW territory for comfort.