Welcome back to MLW Fusion. After the triumphant return (for some people) last week, we look to continue the momentum with the beginning of the Opera Cup 2020. Today, we’ll see the first two opening matches with Richard Holliday taking on TJP and “Filthy” Tom Lawlor battling Rocky Romero. Alongside that, we’ll see the debut of Heavyweight Hustle, Calvin Tankman as he looks to carve a path of destruction through MLW. Let’s get into it!

Opera Cup: Richard Holliday defeated TJP (w/Bu Ku Dao) via 2008 Market Crash

The show opened with the first opening-round match for the 2020 Opera Cup. It would be the “Caribbean Champion” Richard Holliday taking on the submission specialist, TJP. Holliday was going in with something on his mind as Gino Medina had threatened him with the most un-dynastic of actions. Meanwhile, TJP was busy trying to make a good impression on his attendee Bu Ku Dao. They started with lock-ups where Holliday showed his power and TJP showed off his speed and ground game. TJP got the best of the exchange by escaping a head-scissor with a headstand and dropkicking Holliday in the mouth. The pair continued to trade technical exchanges until a stalemate was reached. Holliday was shocking everyone with his ability to keep up with TJP with very few “smart-cuts.” He locked in a kneebar that TJP escape with a headstand head-scissors then sent TJP to the mat with a shoulder tackle. The pair traded counter for counter until TJP was able to dropkick Holliday out of the ring. TJP followed him out with an over the turnbuckle Tiger Feint kick and went to the top rope but Holliday crotched him. He stomped at TJP’s legs and punished him with a series of wrist-clutch shoulder tackles into a bridging Northern Lights. TJP kicked out and baited Holliday into a Sharpshooter, then transitioned it to a Muta Lock. Holliday tried to counter into a chin-lock but TJP countered it into a hammerlock arm-breaker. The pair went back to ducking and countering until Holliday downed TJP with an apron lariat. TJP locked in an armbar over the ropes and took Holliday on a trip with a wrist-clutch hurricanrana. Holliday caught him out of a crossbody and swung him onto his neck. He locked TJP in another chin-lock and tried to power him up for an underhook move but TJP escaped and dropped him with a Tornado DDT into a trio of front suplexes. He missed a Swanton Bomb so Holliday made him pay with a high angle Spinebuster into the 2008 Market Crash for the win. Both men just put on a wrestling masterclass as Holliday punches his ticket to the Opera Cup Semi-finals with no shenanigans.

Calvin Tankman defeated Robert Martyr via Tankman Driver

Next up was the debut of the Heavyweight Hustle, Calvin Tankman. He had promised to carve a path of destruction through MLW and his first victim was going to be No Peace Underground feature, Robert Martyr. Never has a name been so accurate. Martyr rushed Tankman with a dropkick but Tankman no-sold it, gave him the leapfrog, duck under treatment and hit him with a dropkick of his own. He chopped down Martyr, then caught him out of a charge into a backbreaker and lariat. The Tankman Driver followed and it was game over. A massive debut done in destructive fashion. Tankman showed a fraction of what he could. He’s coming for the gold and you better believe it’s going to take an army to beat him.

Between the matches

  • Richard Holliday giving a health update on Hammerstone in his special way, claiming Hammerstone will be fine, before arguing with Gino Medina.
  • A Thanksgiving message from the Von Erichs.
  • Lio Rush responding to Myron Reed’s challenge and accepting to make a big debut with a big title fight.
  • King Mo and Dan Lambert reacting to Low Ki’s inclusion in the Opera Cup.
  • Salina de la Renta offered a warning to MLW that if they tried to cancel her, she would not only sue the company but drop a bomb on the company. She promised she wasn’t alone and that Konnan was wrong in what he’d said about her.
  • Hammerstone did give his own health update and claimed he was more than fine to fight. He was at 80%, which wouldn’t even keep him out of the gym. He was coming for the Black Hand when CONTRA’s frontman Josef Samael cut into the feed to rub salt into the wounds.

Opera Cup: Filthy Tom Lawlor (w/ Dominic Garrini) defeated Rocky Romero via Gedo Clutch

Last but not least, we had the main event. The second Opera Cup opening round match would see NJPW’s Rocky Romero come to try and claim the Cup in the name of NJPW. His opponent, fellow NJPW fighter and former MLW-Heavyweight champion Filthy Tom Lawlor. A win here would help Lawlor not only get back on a title track but net him the condom sponsors he has fought so hard for. They started with technical trades as Romero tried to turn a head-scissor into a mini piledriver but Lawlor was offended and pummelled Romero until Romero tried to score a quick pinfall. The early stages were kind of hard to document as it was a lot of clever trading and counter plays, wrestling chess to better describe it. We went into the battle of the Romero Side Headlock and a barrage of traded shoulder tackles where Lawlor took down Romero. His momentum didn’t last as Romero fired back fast and took him out on the outside. He gave a little bit of the Azucar and waited for Lawlor to recover. He continued to control Lawlor with a face-lock and trapped him in an Octopus off the ropes. Lawlor trapped his legs but Romero was able to convert it to a hand-walking head-scissor. Lawlor shook it off and put Romero in a deathlock and a bow and arrow. He punished Romero with Muay Thai knees and a rolling neck snap. Lawlor continued to strike down Romero and barred his arm into a leg sweep, then went back to the armbar. Romero got out and locked in his own double armbar but Lawlor made the ropes. They went into a slugfest, then Lawlor locked in a Heel Hook. He worked up to an ankle lock and got downed by a Rewind Kick from Romero. He hit Lawlor with more strikes and locked in a Tornado Guillotine choke but Lawlor fought out and launched him with an Exploder. Romero fought out of a sleeper hold and nailed Lawlor with a Tornado DDT.  He kicked Lawlor in the ropes and hit a double stomp to Lawlor’s back. He went back to the arm with a diving knee drop and gave him more knees to the ribs. The pair fought over armbar and rear-naked choke attempts, then Rocky blasted Lawlor with a right hand and knee and nailed a running Shiranui. Romero launched a string of forever clotheslines, then got caught into a massive spinebuster. The pair traded more strikes and kicks, then after a failed rear-naked attempt, Lawlor trapped Romero in a Gedo Clutch for the win. I might have called the first match a technical masterclass, that was a technical masterpiece.

Lawlor was sure to give a post-match interview with Dominic Garrini warning everyone else that he was going to join the other prestigious names who have held the Opera Cup. So far, Richard Holliday and Filthy Tom Lawlor are the first two semi-finalists. Next week, we’ll see who joins them as Davey Boy Smith Jr looks to repeat history with Low Ki and ACH returns to battle AAA’s Laredo Kid. Plus, I imagine we’ll see more from CONTRA, Calvin Tankman and so many more when MLW grace our screens again. Also, happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it as we just broke down the MLW on Thanksgiving special.

All images courtesy of MLW Twitter, Videos courtesy MLW YouTube