MLW: Your unofficial guide to the Restart on Nov. 18

MLW LOGO. Courtesy MLW
MLW LOGO. Courtesy MLW /

Major League Wrestling returns from their COVID-induced hiatus on Wednesday. Here’s a little guide to familiarize or refresh yourself on MLW.

Eight months ago, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic (which is still ongoing), Major League Wrestling temporarily rescheduled live events before suspending live events shortly thereafter. It’s been a long time coming, but MLW is set to resume with the “Restart” on Wednesday, Nov. 18 with a fantastic double main event.

Before delving into the unofficial guide to the Restart, however, let’s first give MLW and Court Bauer credit for shutting down during the pandemic. Unlike other organizations that trudged along as if a pandemic wasn’t ravaging the world, MLW (and Ring of Honor) shut down for extended periods while they waited for medical guidelines and implemented a COVID protocol.

Like we’ve seen with ROH, there seems to be more interest in MLW after being on hiatus. MLW was afforded the rarest of rarities in professional wrestling: a veritable off-season allowing for a refresh, or “Restart” if you will. However, along with that comes the fans needing to refresh themselves as they reengage MLW’s current product (their “Underground” series highlighting historical matches has been popular).

Some of the MLW roster

Take a look at this roster (“FIGHTERS”) page. Just looking at the signed talent, it’s a pretty stacked men’s roster, no?

Beginning at the top, the MLW World Heavyweight Champion is the undefeated “Samoan Werewolf” Jacob Fatu. A member of the legendary Anoa’i family as the son of Tonga Kid, Fatu embodies being a World Champion much like many members of his extended family. His physicality, charisma, tenacity, and overall skill make him a surefire star.

I fully expected NXT to make a run at signing Fatu, but he re-signed last year with MLW through 2025, presumably to anchor the promotion.

Fatu also leads the CONTRA Unit faction including Josef Samael, Simon Gotch, and Ikuro Kwon. They basically run roughshod over MLW, much to the chagrin of Bauer and MLW management.

Alex Hammerstone, the MLW National Openweight Champion, is just such a treat to watch. You want a technical match? Check. You want a brawl? Check. You want a New Japan-style 45-minute match? Check. Basically, he can wrestle any type of match, and he wrestles well.

Another of MLW’s factions, #Injustice, is represented among the champions with Myron Reed being the World Middleweight Champion (a prestigious title itself). Reed is the epitome of the burgeoning combo wrestler we’re starting to see lately: the uber-skilled and athletic wrestler who defies all sense of reality. Seriously, if you haven’t, look up some of his matches on YouTube and prepare to be wowed.

The same could be said for his faction member Jordan Oliver. They’re both amazing, and they work seamlessly together.

The MLW World Tag Team Champions are part of another legacy family in the Von Erich brothers, Ross and Marshall (under the tutelage of their legendary father, Kevin). If you’re looking for a young tag team to get behind, to watch their rise to superstardom, then choosing the Von Erich brothers might be just for you. Take a bit of the old school Von Erich style and mesh that with a newer style that incorporates wrestling and jiu-jitsu, and you have a good idea.

Speaking of legacy families, “The Chairman” LA Park and his family are well represented. He’s joined in MLW by his two sons Hijo de LA Park and LA Park Jr. If Lucha Libre is more your style, this generational family definitely fits your needs. Plus, who doesn’t like a little nostalgia with LA Park hitting people with chairs and strutting in the ring?

That’s the thing: just look at the various styles of the wrestlers above. That’s just a smidgen of the roster. For more Lucha Libre, there’s Zenshi, Septimo Dragon, Puma King, Laredo Kid, and others.

For those grappling-inclined viewers, Team Filthy is definitely to your liking. This faction is led by former UFC fighter “Filthy” Tom Lawlor and includes former Bellator fighter and Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal and jiu-jitsu ace Dominic Garrini.

Also, Salina de la Renta is the best non-wrestler character in all of North American professional wrestling. Her promo and emoting ability are second to none. Even as a diminutive woman, she has such a commanding presence you can’t help but pay attention to every word she utters.

There are many more talents to highlight, but I want to make note of three recent signings that, in my opinion, helps make MLW the second-best men’s roster in North American professional wrestling after WWE, rounded out by AEW, ROH, and Impact if you look at how the divisions are booked.

The recent signings of ACH, Lio Rush, and Calvin Tankman to MLW

OK, saying “recent” might be pushing it a little with the latter considering Tankman was signed over the summer during MLW’s hiatus. Still, he’s “recent” in the sense that he hasn’t wrestled for MLW yet, and prepare to add a new wrestler to your list of favorites.

Yes, he’s a big man. Yes, he’s skilled. Yes, he’s talented. I’m already shuddering at the sheer violence a match between Fatu and Tankman would entail.

Tankman is one of those signings that you look back on in a few years and think, “Why didn’t anyone else make a real run at him?” He’s that talented with that much potential.

MLW really set the wrestling world ablaze (well, at least Wrestling Twitter) with

the announcements of Lio Rush and ACH joining MLW for the Restart. Let’s be clear: Rush and ACH are extremely talented individuals, even beyond wrestling. Regardless of how you feel about ACH’s departure from WWE (I still find nothing wrong with how he handled the situation) and Rush’s tumultuous tenure in WWE, we can at least agree on the previously stated statement, right?

Ever since the Top Prospect Tournament in ROH, Rush had been pegged as a future star, and star he is. Like with de la Renta, his smaller stature belies his charisma and presence. He can hold his own on the mic (not to mention he’s an actual recording artist), and away from WWE creative that constantly had him laugh as he spoke, I’m excited to see him being able to speak as himself.

Further, Rush is going to bring a speed that not even the best luchadors can keep up with. He’s able to channel that ferocious speed into his offense and defense so smoothly.

There are a lot of similarities to be said for ACH. He’s not as quick as Rush, but he’s a bit stronger thanks in small part to a bit more muscle mass. While many associate ACH (and Rush) as high-fliers, this label minimizes and erases his technical prowess. ACH can go hold-for-hold when necessary, understanding how to use his greatest strengths (namely skill and athleticism) to his advantage.

ACH also has a very unique character in that he can be bubbly and gregarious (most of his career pre-WWE), or as we’ve seen since his WWE departure, he can be edgy, serious, and violent. Whichever disposition he assumes, he brings another flavor to both in-ring and character presentation.

We also know there is a growing cross-section of professional wrestling fans and manga/anime fans, which ACH is basically the paragon for with his Rock Lee and Goku cosplays being so memorable. This means MLW can grow their audience to a certain extent by highlighting a wrestler like ACH. A bigger audience = more revenue, after all.

These three signings really help solidify and bolster the MLW roster, with presumably more signings to come as MLW reasserts itself.

Final thoughts and where to watch MLW and the Restart

If you’re looking for an alternative to WWE, or an alternative to the alternative in AEW, or just some good wrestling in general, now’s the best time to start following Major League Wrestling!

The Restart has a double main event as Reed defends his World Middleweight Championship against Brian Pillman Jr. and Fatu defends his World Heavyweight Championship against Davey Boy Smith, Jr. What better way to begin again than with two championship matches?

Next. Why MLW's Calvin Tankman is a wrestler to watch. dark

As the tweet embedded above stated (and this link here), MLW is now available on many platforms, meaning MLW should be available for many wrestling fans. For those in the US, YouTube is probably your best bet. However, MLW is also available on Fubo Sports, BeIn Sports, DAZN, and PlutoTV.

MLW airs Wednesdays nights at 7 EST on Fubo Sports and YouTube, with BeIn Sports airing the show Saturday nights at 10 EST. DAZN has on-demand access after the Wednesday night airings.