Major League Wrestling turns heads in primetime showcase

PHILADELPHIA, AP - Alexander Hammerstone groaned in pain while he held his championship belt against the right leg. The Major League Wrestling heavyweight champion suffered a severe sprain to his ankle in an early title match. He then fought on one wheel for the remainder of the bout.
His opponent Jacob Fatu impressed Hammerstones most with his fortitude.

Fatu, who was watching Hammerstone's left ankle wrap backstage, couldn't believe Hammerstone wanted to continue wrestling, even though it could have ended the match.

You said, "I told you no!" Continue!, Fatu repeated, recalling the in-ring conversation.

The match smashed down the house -- in this instance, South Philadelphia's ECW Arena. Fatu-Hammerstone delivered the brutality promised by Vice TVs first MLW primetime television special.

Hammerstone stated that I was going to go out with the boys for drinks, but now I don't know what I think.

Hammerstone can take a break and enjoy a cold beer while he watches the match on Vice at 10 p.m. on Thursday. This is part of MLWs Fightland special, which airs just after the wrestling documentary series Dark Side of the Ring.

Court Bauer, Founder of MLW, pulled the strings from the staging area and immediately saw six different angles of the match on a monitor. Hammerstone had been hurt by a bicycle kick.

Hammers leg is OK. Please, let me know. Give me a thumbs up. Bauer quietly says this over his headset to the referee.

Ref checks Hammerstone's health and gives a quick thumbs-up to let him know that he is okay but cannot continue. Hammerstone is examined later by a physician from the state athletic commission. One wrestler shouts instructions to clear space -- we need to get rid off that coffin!

Prowling is a wild sport. One must be able to move props in order to give them away for a good match.

Hammerstone's back was covered in confetti but he wasn't in terrible shape. There was a earlier casket match among the 15 bouts on Saturday. Hammerstone chatted with his girlfriend, while Davey Richards, a veteran wrestler, taped the ankle.

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Hammerstone will not be absent for long and will likely be fit enough to defend his title when MLW returns to Philadelphia in November. MLW has largely remained the best American wrestling organization outside of the billionaire-run AEW or WWE since its rebirth in 2017. Bauer relied on company veterans like Hammerstone, Fatu, and developed future major promotion stars. He also incorporated nostalgia acts such Savio Vegas and The Blue Meanie to differentiate himself from other lower-level promotions Ring of Honor and the NWA.

Brian Heffron was a pro wrestler when he made his debut in 1994 in Wallaceburg, Ontario. He continued to perform as The Blue Meanie over the next 25 years, participating in most of the major and independent promotions. Heffron was in the thicket of the wrestling industry's ups and downs. ECW, the company that made his name, closed in 2001. It is enough to know that Bauer, MLW, has steered him on a positive path.

It bums me that so many people are focused on AEW or WWE right now. But here is MLW who is putting on a just as good or perhaps better product than those two, Heffron stated. I believe MLW is more interesting than WWE right now. I hope that their next venture with Vice TV will lead to greater growth.

MLWs weekly series MLW Fusion Alpha airs Wednesdays via YouTube and Saturdays through Mondays on beIN Sport. Fightland features the Hammerstone-Fatu champion match as well as a four-way fight with Tajiri, a former WWE star, for the MLW World Middleweight Championship.

Bauer claims that MLW is still in the black despite having filmed very few films for 16 months due to the pandemic. Bauer hopes that a ratings hit from Vice -- wrestling is big again among the advertiser-coveted 18-24 demographic -- will lead to a stable rights deal and help the company raise the necessary cash.

Bauer stated that they were still free agents in some ways.

The rights money could allow MLW to sign young talent such as Maxwell Jacob Friedman and Brian Pillman Jr., who currently wrestle for Tony Khan, a billionaire businessman.

Bauer stated that we couldn't afford to keep them. We will pay them as we improve our rights agreements. We tell talent that we will grow with them. Trust the system if you believe in it. All the promoters want this because they know you are there.

You could also run bigger arenas. Philly's old wrestling house was filled with fans wearing Vince Papale T-shirts and Blue World Order Tshirts. If they had turned around at just the right moment, they might have seen two female wrestlers in the concession stand.

Bauer was a programmer for WWE for many years and now does the heavy lifting for MLW. He assembled the members of the 5150 faction, and his words leapt off the page. I'm the ring! Ring the bell! Bauer, 43, also stepped in as a substitute for a wrestler who was late to rehearsal and was ready to take a bump.

That's what Vince McMahon taught us. Bauer stated that you should show them what you want. You can't expect them to see the vision if they don't visualize it. It is important to show them the steps so that they can experience it.

As it prepares to host live events in Philly, MLW can feel its transformation into a major player.

Hammerstone stated that we have been the best kept secret in wrestling for a while. It's time to make a splash and get in front more people. If tonight is any indication, it will be some big things.


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