MLW turns One-Shot into Never Say Never.
One shot at love, one shot (one shot at love…)
That’s all you get
(James Todd Smith)
When Court Bauer and Major League Wrestling started promoting One-Shot, even thought its name signified a one-time deal, I think many were wondering if this was going to be a return to the wrestling business. Not that MLW ever really left the wrestling business.
Originally, MLW was a wrestling promotion that ran from 2002-2004. After that, Bauer worked in WWE creative, starting at WrestleMania 21 through the summer of 2007. I’d hear Bauer pop up on podcasts with Bryan Alvarez and Dave Meltzer. But he’d be on the podcast airwaves in a bigger way in 2011 with the rebranding of MLW as a sports media company. His MLW Radio show with Konnan and MSL was a must-listen wrestling podcast before wrestling podcasts became mainstream.
Today, MLW’s podcasts are some of the most popular sports podcasts out there with Bruce Prichard’s “Something To Wrestle With” and Tony Schiavone’s “What Happened When” both currently in the top 100 sports podcasts on iTunes.
But now, MLW is back in wrestling in a big way and could be back full-time.
I watched their comeback show, One-Shot (which is just $4.99 on-demand) and it was everything that’s good about the current independent wrestling scene. Indy wrestling is hot and most of my friends who are into wrestling love their local indy more than they enjoy the current WWE product.
One-Shot had a slightly different feel though. Held inside the GILT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the show had a more intimate feel, like if WWE decided to redo the original version of Shotgun Saturday Night without the sleaze. While some indies today are trying to test how big their audience by booking larger buildings, the smaller nightclub feel felt just right for this show.
The show was booked around the main event between Shane Strickland and his friend Richochet. The match was built through MLW360, which was a series of digital shorts that showcased their friendship, but also their rivalry.
(Full disclosure: I helped shoot the interview with Dave Meltzer that was shown on the 7th and final episode of the series.)
Some of the MLW360 features were shown on the broadcast to help remind folks of what was still to come. It was a really nice touch because it felt like the show was truly building to a climax. Strickland won the match over his friend and rival.
My favorite match on the show was “Filthy” Tom Lawlor’s match with Jeff Cobb. It was built as a UFC fighter facing an Olympic wrestler. Lawlor was using his strikes and submission game , while Cobb was trying to suplex him out of his shoes every chance he got. Lawlor won the match and then called out indy darling Matt Riddle. They’ll headline the next show, which is titled Never Say Never (and is also a pretty good Justin Bieber song). Tickets are already on sale.
Tony Schiavone and Rich Bocchini were the broadcast team for the show. Bocchini is the former Rich Brennan who worked for WWE on the NXT and Smackdown broadcasts. It was really nice hearing Schiavone on a pro wrestling show again. It seemed like he was very much enjoying himself and that came out through his work.
There were some standouts on the undercard. Tama Tonga showed up as a nice surprise to kick off the show. He’s an athletic marvel. Seth Petruzelli, who famously beat Kimbo Slice on an EliteXC show, was in the second match, winning it for his tag team with an arm bar. MJF, who is a heat magnet, beat Jimmy Yuta in my favorite of the undercard matches. Huge Barrington Hughes did his best King Kong Bundy impersonation, winning his match in just seconds. And Darby Allin beat Jason Cade, setting up a tag match for the next show against Shane Strickland’s team.
Edit: John Morrison has just been announced for the match.
— #MLWNsN December 7 (@MLW) November 6, 2017
Overall, the show felt tight. Everything moved. At around 2 1/2 hours, it was the perfect length for a wrestling show. You never felt like you were watching something that wasn’t going anywhere.
MLW isn’t just promoting their next wrestling show. They’re also promoting WaleMania IV, which will be WrestleMania weekend in New Orleans. Tickets go on sale Tuesday morning.
This is the fourth WaleMania and what I originally called the underrated event of WrestleMania weekend is now a very popular event that kicks the entire weekend off. I attended both WaleMania and WaleMania 2 and had excellent times at both events. I can’t recommend it enough.