Major League Wrestling

Major League Wrestling, LLC (MLW)[4][5] is an American professional wrestling promotion based in New Rochelle, New York. The promotion was founded in 2002 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by former WWE writer Court Bauer.[6][7]

Major League Wrestling, LLC
Major League Wrestling
TypeHolding[1]
Industry
FoundedJune 12, 2002 (2002-06-12) (original); July 2017 (2017-07) (revival)
FoundersCourt Bauer
Headquarters
Key people
Products
  • Publishing
  • Television
  • Merchandise
  • Pay-per-view
  • Live events
ServicesLicensing
OwnerCourt Bauer
Divisions
  • MLW Radio Network
Websitemlw.com

The promotion originally ran live events between until 2004; these events were taped and aired on the television series, MLW Underground TV. MLW returned to promoting events in July 2017, with a new weekly television show named MLW Fusion premiering on beIN Sports in April 2018.

HistoryEdit

Formation (2002–2004)Edit

Following the closures and acquisitions of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now known as the WWE) in 2001, Major League Wrestling (MLW) was founded on June 16, 2002. Shortly after its founding, the promotion spent three months moving their headquarters from Philadelphia to New York.[8] MLW styled itself as an alternative to WWE's sports entertainment, following in the tradition of ECW.[9]

In 2003, MLW again moved their base of operations to Florida, and negotiated a deal with Sunshine Network to air a television series titled Underground TV, which ran between April 7, 2003 and February 14, 2004.[8] The series was hosted by Joey Styles and consisted of pre-taped matches from prior events. Furthering MLW's ties to ECW, the promotion highlighted many former ECW talents, such as Sabu, Terry Funk, Shane Douglas, and Steve Corino. This led to criticism of MLW for being an imitation of ECW in comparison to Ring of Honor, another Philadelphia-founded promotion that launched five months prior to MLW's formation.[8][10]

After shuttering in 2004[citation needed], Major League Wrestling would return in 2011[citation needed] as a podcast network, initially focused on producing broadcast and digital content relating to the professional wrestling industry.[11] Many prominent professional wrestling figures have appeared on the network, including former WWE and WCW stars Kevin Sullivan, Jim Duggan, MVP, current WWE executive Bruce Prichard, former WCW and current AEW commentator Tony Schiavone, and former WCW President and WWE executive[12] Eric Bischoff.

Revival (2017–present)Edit

In 2017, MLW announced that it would once again be promoting wrestling events. Tickets for their first event, MLW One-Shot, went on sale on July 21, 2017.[13] In the same year, MLW announced it would run more shows in Orlando in 2018.[14] Given the success of their independent outings, MLW was able to secure a television deal with beIN Sports for a new program, titled MLW Fusion, which debuted on April 20, 2018.[15] Their first episode featured Pentagon Jr. against Fenix as the main event.[16]

In July 2018, MLW continued its expansion by presenting their first two-hour special on beIN Sports, the inaugural Battle Riot, where the winner would earn a title match for the MLW World Heavyweight Championship.[17] MLW began introducing contracts as part of their growth strategy.[18] In August, the promotion started a working agreement with Mexican-based promotion Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide (AAA).[19][better source needed] On September 19, it was announced that MLW expanded its partnership with beIN Sports to air Fusion in Spanish.[20]

In October, MLW announced a second two-hour, Halloween-themed, Fusion television special,[21] and announced the signings of PCO and Richard Holliday as full-time members of the roster on October 18.[22] It was also reported that Court Bauer and several MLW executives would travel to Monaco for Sportel, with intentions of making a big push internationally.[22] Also announced was a project between MLW and Spiff TV.[22]

ExpansionEdit

On November 8, MLW held a Fusion television taping, named Fightland, in Chicago at Cicero Stadium. Bauer claimed that the event drew the highest attendance in MLW history, shattering the previous attendance record of 1,536 people for the June 20, 2003 event, Hybrid Hell, in Florida.[23][24] On November 29, Bauer announced that Fusion would be broadcast live on beIN Sports on December 14, an announcement which had previously been teased on November 22. This coincided with their two-day television tapings in Miami: Never Say Never and Zero Hour; the live episode was an hour of Zero Hour's events.[25][26][27]

MLW continued to air live Fusion specials throughout 2019, including SuperFight in February and Intimidation Games in March.[28] The company brought former manager Jim Cornette on as a color commentator starting March 2, 2019.[29] He continued to work for the company for Rise of the Renegades, Battle Riot II, and Fury Road.[29] He also worked unofficially in an agent-like role for the company. This includes coaching younger talent on their television presentation and promos.[30] In addition to SuperFight and Intimidation Games, Rise of the Renegades and Battle Riot II were all revealed to have sold out.

In April 2019, MLW would move their operations into a corporate office building in New Rochelle, New York.[31] On April 18, MLW announced the creation of a new title: the MLW National Openweight Championship, with the inaugural champion to be crowned during Fury Road in Waukesha, Wisconsin.[32] In June 2019, International Wrestling Association (IWA-PR) owner Savio Vega was brought in as an on-air talent and backstage agent. This working relationship resulted in the use of the IWA Caribbean Heavyweight Championship in MLW storylines.[33] On August 18, 2019, MLW teased the formation of its women's division, later announcing its official launch on October 18, 2019.[34][35] The division's first official match would be later held at MLW Blood and Thunder on November 9, 2019.[36][37]

On July 5, it was announced that MLW would hold its first pay-per-view event, Saturday Night SuperFight, which would be held on November 2.[38][39] On July 26, MLW announced a working agreement with Japanese-based promotion Pro Wrestling Noah, which would include a talent-exchange agreement and content collaboration between the two promotions.[40][41] On August 8, MLW announced that they had reached a new deal with FITE TV to carry MLW pay-per-view events, with the first event being Saturday Night SuperFight.[42] Four days later, MLW announced a working relationship with Mexican-based promotion The Crash Lucha Libre termed as a "strategic alliance".[43] On August 23, MLW and The Crash announced they would co-promote their first event on October 5 at the Auditorio Fausto Gutierrez in Tijuana, Mexico.[44]

On February 1, 2020, MLW announced a working relationship with Japanese promotion Dragon Gate (DG), which would include a talent-exchange between the two promotions.[45]

On October 7, 2021, MLW began a working relationship with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) known as "The Forbbiden Door" of Professional Wrestling.[46]

Post-COVID-19Edit

On June 9, 2020, MLW reached a new media rights deal to stream their programming on DAZN.[47] CEO Court Bauer also announced during the same month that reruns of MLW Underground TV would air on BeIN Sports throughout the summer.[48]

In August 2020, after an eight-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MLW announced that Fusion TV tapings will resume in October of that year.[49] On September 10, it was announced that MLW Fusion would move to Wednesday nights on fubo Sports Network.[50] On October 10, it was revealed that Fusion would return on November 18 at 7pm EST and new episodes would also premiere on MLW's YouTube channel on the same night.[51]

In October 2020, MLW announced a "strategic alliance" with IWA-PR for the “celebration of inter-promotional events, direct support to the events of each of the companies and collaboration in other types of promotions”.[52] MLW would also began incorporating story elements from the now-defunct Lucha Libre promotion and television drama, Lucha Underground, into an angle involving IWA-PR. Talent formally associated with Lucha Underground were brought into MLW as part of the "Azteca Underground" stable.[53][54]

In April 2021, MLW announced a television deal with Vice TV.[55] A block of MLW programming, including reruns of Fusion, began airing on Saturdays starting May 1.[56] The agreement would further expand when it was announced on September 17 that Vice would air MLW's Fightland as a television special on October 7.[57]

On April 29, 2021, MLW announced a partnership with Revolution Pro Wrestling.[58]

In June 2021, Dave Meltzer reported that MLW would begin taping content in Los Angeles for a spinoff series that would "resemble Lucha Underground" with plans to film vignettes in the summer and matches in the fall.[59] It would later be revealed on August 4, 2021 that MLW had signed a deal to produce a new series centered around Azteca Underground, featuring a different roster from that seen on MLW Fusion.[60]

On July 7, 2021, it was announced that Shimmer Women Athletes co-founder Dave Prazak had joined MLW to help relaunch its women's division; later to be announced in September as the MLW Women's Featherweight division.[61][62] During the premiere of Battle Riot III on July 24, 2021, MLW announced a new season of Fusion that would air on "a new home" in the Fall, and the premiere of a new mini-series, titled MLW Fusion: Alpha.[63][64] It was later announced on September 6 that Fusion: Alpha would premiere on September 22 on MLW's YouTube channel, and would air on Saturdays and Mondays on BeIN Sports.[65][66]

Touring and TV tapingsEdit

In the beginning, MLW would hold one show a month, originally from the Viking Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By the end of 2002, MLW began running two shows a month and, in 2003, multiple shows in a weekend were held in New York. The first time MLW left New York was December 20, 2002, for King Of Kings from the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The promotion primarily held events in Florida prior to closing its doors in 2004.[67]

Since their return in 2017, MLW was running shows back in Florida, but also returned to New York in 2018 as a result of their successful deal with BeIN Sports. MLW's touring pattern changed drastically. Instead of running regular shows in cities where the company had a following, MLW began focusing more on cities that carry its television show.[68][69][70][71] On September 18, 2018, MLW announced their debut in Chicago.[72] On October 19, 2018, MLW announced that they would return to Florida to make their Miami debut.[73]

PersonnelEdit

ContractsEdit

In 2018, after the promotion was revived, MLW signed some talent to exclusive contracts.[74] It also gave MLW power over the performers' dates. Their wrestlers are allowed to perform for other promotions but have to prioritize MLW events.[74] MLW's roster mainly consists of independent contractors who have also appeared in other promotions (namely Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide and Impact Wrestling).

PartnershipsEdit

MLW currently has working relationships with Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide, the International Wrestling Association, Pro Wrestling Noah, The Crash Lucha Libre, All Elite Wrestling, Impact Wrestling, New Japan Pro-Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling.

ChampionshipsEdit

CurrentEdit

As of October 18, 2021.

Championship Current champion(s) Reign Date won Days held Location Notes
MLW World Heavyweight Championship Alexander Hammerstone 1 October 2, 2021 16+ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Defeated Jacob Fatu at Fightland 2021.
MLW National Openweight Championship Vacated - October 13, 2021 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Vacated by Alexander Hammerstone after winning the MLW World Heavyweight Championship at Fightland 2021.
MLW World Tag Team Championship Los Parks
(El Hijo de L.A. Park and L.A. Park)
1 January 13, 2021 278+ Orlando, Florida Defeated The Von Erichs (Marshall Von Erich and Ross Von Erich) on MLW Fusion.
MLW World Middleweight Championship Tajiri 1 October 2, 2021 16+ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Defeated Myron Reed at Fightland 2021.
MLW Women's Featherweight Championship TBD

FormerEdit

Championship Date won First champion(s) Date retired Final champion(s) Days active Notes
MLW World Junior Heavyweight Championship September 19, 2003 Sonjay Dutt February 13, 2004 Sonjay Dutt 144 Dutt defeated Christopher Daniels to win the title in a tournament final. The title was no longer listed as active after the company stopped hosting events.

Other accomplishmentsEdit

Accomplishment Latest winner(s) Date won Location Notes
Battle Riot Alexander Hammerstone July 10, 2021 Queens, New York Last eliminated Mads Krügger to win.
Opera Cup Tom Lawlor December 23, 2020 Orlando, Florida Defeated Low Ki in the finals of an eight-man single elimination tournament.
Caribbean Heavyweight Championship King Muertes July 10, 2021 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Though officially a IWA-PR title, it has been featured exclusively in MLW since its re-introduction. Muertes won the title at Battle Riot III.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit