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  1. This is the final of the tournament to crown the first MLW World Champion on the first MLW show. For why it’s a three-way match, see my review of the semi-final of the Vampiro vs Taiyo Kea match that went to a time limit draw, only for Douglas to come out and make it a three way. Most of this review is going to talk about the aftermath and the booking, as there is nothing to this match at all, with barely 2 mins of ‘action’. Having already wrestled twice that night, Douglas looks knackered and basically sells for a minute and half as it initially looks like Vampiro and Kea will work together. But very soon Vampiro catches Kea with a kick when Douglas moves, who then hits his belly to belly for the title. (N/R) If you’ve read through my reviews of all the matches on their first show, MLW were clearly and obviously just in ECW rehash mode for their first show. It was in the former ECW arena, it had a load of ex ECW guys on the show, the final was turned into an impromptu three way and then after the match we get a reprisal of the infamous birth of Extreme angle with Douglas throwing down the MLW Title just like he did with the NWA one back in 1994. Unlike the original angle which was ground breaking, edgy and had a point to it, this just felt like a cheap rip off and his promo to go along with it doesn’t make much sense. There’s plenty of swearing and shots at the likes of Vince, Heyman, Flair and The Kliq but nothing about why he doesn’t want the title. The show finishes with referee Jim Molineaux basically squaring up to Douglas and telling him that if he doesn’t defend the title – which he never did, and I don’t think appeared for MLW again – he’d be suspended from wrestling in Pennsylvania by the State Athletic Commission. It’s a terrible ending to a pretty uninspiring debut show from MLW, although I think things start to pick up from their second show when they started to try and forge a bit more of their own identity rather than being a straight ECW tribute rip-off. Most of the matches on the first card are solid, but nothing stands out or even reaches ‘good’ levels, although I will say there is a satisfying amount of clean finishes, and no run ins or cheap endings. There’s a contrast with ROH, which had a great main event on its first show which helped build buzz and the fact that they took till several shows in to crown a champion when they had established some guys and storylines. Will look forward though to seeing how the company progressed at the time moving forward.
  2. This is the first semi-final in the tournament to crown the first MLW Champion. Douglas defeated Corino in the QFs, while Lynn got past LA Parka. On his way to the ring Lynn is confronted by Christopher Daniels who says that he wants to “cleanse him of the sins of his past disappointments” and that all the companies that Lynn’s ever worked for have never treated him with any respect. This is foreshadowing the heel run that Lynn would have in MLW. Douglas gets the jump on him to start the match after faking him out with a handshake – it’s pretty ambiguous throughout the tournament if we are meant to be behind him or not, but is consistent with the Franchise character, I guess. There’s not too much to the match, but it has a decent flow to it. Lynn keeps it relatively interesting, wrestling at speed around Douglas to compensate for Shane’s lack of mobility. If you watch the whole tournament, then in contrast with what you see in modern wrestling, there’s not lots of unbelievable kick outs of big moves, so it gets a good reaction in this match when each kick out of the others finish; Douglas out of the cradle piledriver and Lynn out of the belly to belly. A bit like the Lynn/LA Parka match in the round before, just as it’s starting to look like hitting a big closing stretch, Douglas catches Lynn in another belly to belly to advance to the final. Solid stuff. (** ¼)
  3. Joey Styles on commentary says this a first time ever match and plays up the fact that it’s two former ECW and NWA champions, something that will play into the conclusion of the tournament. Douglas gets the biggest pop of the night coming out, leaning heavily of course on his ECW past. Before the match we get promos from both guys, who both have great delivery, but a lot of the content is very early 2000s with plenty of ‘shoot’ and insider comments which do not age well. Corino’s promo is pretty good, presenting himself as a defender of tradition and how proud he was to wear the NWA Title compared to Douglas who threw it down, but that makes it unclear who is meant to be the heel and face in this, as he veers between being sympathetic and antagonistic. In the end Douglas sucker punches him to start the match. Douglas gets an initial shine and there’s nice punch exchanges from both guys, but outside of that there’s not much to get excited about or invested in. You can see some of the influences that going over to Japan with Zero 1 was starting to have on Corino with him building in things like the facewash in the corner. Douglas in return, outside of punches and the odd suplex, doesn’t bring much of anything. Even by 2002 he feels like something of a relic that wrestling has now passed by. There is a storyline that could’ve been told between the two, of Corino being a younger version of Douglas in terms of his accomplishments, but this never really gets played up in the match. Even the ringside brawling is largely lifeless and non-descript. Douglas ends up winning when he counters the Old School Expulsion neck breaker into his belly to belly. Solid, but disappointing given I thought it would be more heated. (**)
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