Welcome back to MLW Fusion ALPHA and the beginnings of the Opera Cup 2021.  With the Fightland hype behind us, it was time to see what ramifications the show would have on the company. Alexander Hammerstone would address his MLW future, Calvin Tankman would go to war with Lee Moriarty, the Women’s Featherweight Division kept the momentum rolling with Delmi Exo taking on Brittany Blake, and in the main event of the evening, Filthy Tom Lawlor looked to the journey to back-to-back Opera Cup wins by beating Davey Richards in the first round. Let’s see who picked up the wins and who picked up the losses tonight.

Calvin Tankman defeated Lee Moriarty via Tankman Driver

Up first tonight was the singles debut for TAIGASTYLE Lee Moriarty for MLW. That would be a reason to celebrate but he was going head-to-head with the Indestructible Calvin Tankman. It was going to be a clash of styles as Moriarty was going to have to duck, weave and lock to avoid being thrown around. Moriarty instantly tried to show off that technicality but it seemed to only have limited success as Tankman overpowered him. He got faster and stunned Tankman with a sliding kick but Tankman quickly shut that down with a fist to the face. Moriarty had to get creative and kept finding fun and unique ways to stop Tankman’s assault before sending him flying with the WAHOO Arm-Drag. Tankman refused to be outdone and showed his speed and agility before throwing Moriarty across the ring. Thus began the methodical destruction of Moriarty as Tankman smashed and stomped all while trash-talking. He cut off Moriarty’s comeback with a slam and tried to break his back under his boot. The heart of Moriarty wouldn’t be stopped though and he stopped Tankman with a headbutt and caught him with an Enzuigiri. The shots kept coming as Moriarty found his rhythm and dropped Tankman again with a leg-capture knee into a brutal PK. Moriarty stomped away and tried to lock in an Arm-Breaker. He kept wrapping Tankman up, breaking at the arm and trapping him in an Octopus. He dragged Tankman through the ropes but couldn’t land a DDT or double stomp and ran into an Apron Powerslam through the ropes. Moriarty fired up again with a barrage of palm strikes but Tankman cut him off with a Pop-up Powerbomb. He tried to follow up with the Hidden Blade but the ref got in the way and Moriarty ducked to land a head-stomp and a jumping low uppercut. He rushed Tankman with a shotgun dropkick but he still only got two. Moriarty took to the top and waited for Tankman to get up but dived right into a spinning back elbow. He did his level best to avoid the Tankman Driver but Tankman countered another springboard and wasted Moriarty with it. This was bloody awesome. Moriarty and Tankman knew exactly how to work with each other and their styles meshed perfectly. This is the perfect way to open your show.

Post-match, American Top Team’s King Mo and Alex Kane tried to recruit Calvin Tankman. They watched the match, were incredibly impressed but wanted to help mould him into a killer. The crowd was vehemently against it and Tankman refused to give them an answer, saying he’d think about it.

Delmi Exo (w/Ashley Vox) defeated Brittany Blake via Pedigree

The Sea Stars were back again this week as their other half, Delmi Exo got her big debut within the MLW Women’s Featherweight Division. It wasn’t going to be an easy ride though as her opponent was another debutant intent on showing out, without making friends, Brittany Blake. She’d already shown her distaste for the fun and games other contenders had shown and was down to fight. Blake opened with an unclean lock-up and Exo knocked her down for it. Blake tried to play it smart during a knockdown exchange but Exo caught her arm and rolled her into a pinfall. Exo kept utilising her power and smashed Blake with a corner elbow and tanked through an elbow barrage to dump Blake with a bridging Northern Lights. She went for a corner knee but Blake dodged and Exo knocked her knees on the buckles. Blake took full advantage with a rope-hung backbreaker and choked out Exo before stretching her out. Blake kept finding ways to choke Exo and cracked her with a back kick for a two-count. She always seemed to have Exo’s number and sent her to the apron with a rolling head-scissor and followed her with a Tiger Feint Kick before dropping her on her head again through the ropes. Blake went for a corner combo of her own but Exo countered a bulldog and powered through a nasty slap to pummel Blake with short-arm clotheslines. She tried for a T-Bone but Blake blocked so Exo snapped her with a Cutter instead. Blake fired back with an Enzuigiri and hopped the ropes for a Tornado DDT but once again only got two. Exo dodged a double stomp and booted Blake into a Pedigree to take the win. Exo had gotten the Sea Stars an MLW win and had taken one hell of a beating to come back and shut down Blake. Once again, both of these women showed the hell out and put on another excellent match to establish the division.

Between the matches:

  • The show opened with a recap of Fightland, showing how Hammerstone became a double champion and the fate of the Middleweight title. They also recapped later down the line that Will Ospreay is coming to MLW in the fall and name-dropped Enzo but failed to elaborate on it.
  • CONTRA had sent in another propaganda tape to show they weren’t too fussed about losing that title as they’d taken Hammerstone’s leg. He might have cut off one head of the snake but there were plenty more there. Josef Samael spewed his venom and challenged Hammerstone to meet them in the War Chamber. It would be team Hammerstone vs Team CONTRA. That CONTRA team was going to be Samael, Jacob Fatu, Ikuro Kwon, and Mads Krügger. Hammerstone had Richard Holliday and EJ Nduka so far with one spot left to fill, Nduka leaving a mark by killing off an ambushing Kwon. That monster of a match will be taking place at the 2300 Arena on November 6th.

  • Speaking of Hammerstone, he went to see Cesar Duran and turned over the National Openweight champion. He’d reached the peak of Muscle Mountain and he was going to give everyone else something to chase. He wasn’t going to hold the division in a stranglehold.
  • Alicia Atout gave an expose on Cesar Duran and released footage of him fleeing his old office as trouble came for him. Whilst no one knows who he’s running from, they had footage of him in Brazil before his return to the USA. They had also recorded a dubious phone call of him speaking to some unknown confidante and footage of a mysterious woman ransacking his office in search of something. Safe to say, Duran was not pleased but had no interest in debating the charges.
  • To close out the show, we got two more backstage segments. Firstly, Cesar Duran addressed Richard Holliday and tried to imply that he and Alicia Atout were an item, so the trouble she was causing would be his trouble too. He was going to force Richard Holliday to defend the Caribbean championship against King Muertes. Holliday was not happy and threatened action from his lawyer/father.
  • The show ended with an Injustice message to 5150 that erupted into another 5150’s attack as Slice Boogie, Rivera, and Dr. Julius Smokes ambushed them and drove off, reminding the duo that it was always on sight.

Opera Cup 2021 First Round: Davey Richards defeated Filthy Tom Lawlor (w/Kevin Ku) via Ankle Lock

Last but not least, the main event. The first match of the 2021 Opera Cup. Filthy Tom Lawlor was ready to go for back-to-back tournament wins but his journey was going to be challenged early on as he had to deal with one of the American Wolf Davey Richards. These two have very similar styles and were more than familiar with the other’s work. Safe to say, everyone was ready to see this. Richards has been on the tour of a lifetime since coming back and now, the Opera Cup was in his sights. This opened exactly as expected with a feeling-out process as the pair tested their grappling skills going for wrists and ropes. Both men had counter-holds ready and were always ready to go on the attack or defend, with Richards inflicting extra damage with a rope kick and Lawlor causing an ad break by throwing Richards into a railing. They beat each other around the outside and Lawlor blocked a ring post headshot to smash off Richards’ arm on the steel. Lawlor kept using the outside furniture to mangle that arm and gave him no respite as he kept attacking in-ring and crushed Richards in the corner. A strike and kicking contest broke out and Richards ruined Lawlor’s knee with a rope-trapped Dragon Screw. He kept the pressure on that knee with a Cloverleaf and tried to shake off that arm damage for a Suplex. Lawlor countered into a Guillotine however, it couldn’t be fully locked in as Richards locked an ankle and forced Lawlor off him. Lawlor fought off the hold and tried for multiple chokes but Richards just threw him off with an arm-wringer and Backdrop Driver. He flew in with a forearm and crushed Lawlor with a double stomp for two. Richards held on through the pin and reapplied the Ankle Lock but Lawlor transitioned it to an armlock. Sadly, for him though, Richards went right back to the Ankle Lock. He desperately tried to fight out but couldn’t reach the ropes and passed out from the pain, middle fingers outstretched. Richards had just taken the former champion out of the tournament after one hell of a technical war. This lived up to the hype as these two mixed their technical and brawling acumen to tell a compelling little story of limb destruction. Seriously damn fun to watch.

All images courtesy of MLW, Basil Mahmud, video courtesy of MLW YouTube

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