Tom Lawlor talks MLW return, AEW opportunity, CM Punk’s WWE return and more

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 18: Tom Lawlor enters the ring during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling - G1 Climax 32 Final at Nippon Budokan on August 18, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 18: Tom Lawlor enters the ring during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling - G1 Climax 32 Final at Nippon Budokan on August 18, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

Longtime MLW star Tom Lawlor previews his upcoming clash with Satoshi Kojima, being back in MLW after two years away, an AEW appearance falling through and more.

As Major League Wrestling looks to rebuild in light of recent departures, a familiar face has returned to add depth to the roster, cause chaos and pick up right where he left off.

“Filthy” Tom Lawlor is back in MLW and intends to stay awhile.

The former MLW World Heavyweight champion made his first appearance for the promotion in nearly two years at its Slaughterhouse event in October, where he unsuccessfully challenged reining MLW champ Alex Kane.

Now, he has his sights set on rekindling his rivalry with Japanese legend Satoshi Kojima, who he’ll do battle with at Thursday’s One Shot event in Queens, NY.

“Unfortunately for me, I have faced Kojima before in front of no fans during the pandemic,” Lawlor told Daily DDT. “This is a big opportunity for me to show everybody out there that not only am I the best MLW World Heavyweight champion of all-time by defeating the very first MLW champion of all-time, I also want to prove that in wrestling internationally, not just in the U.S., you are looking at one of the top guys on this planet.”

The Filthy One recalled being a fan of Kojima in college and praised his accolades as the first man to hold both the IWGP and All-Japan Triple Crown championships simultaneously. Although he came out on top in their last one-on-one encounter, he still has revenge on the mind.

It’s part of a larger plan for him and the rest of Mister Saint Laurent’s World Titan Federation to seize complete control of MLW and dominate the competition.

In fact, it was MSL who was responsible for bringing Lawlor back to MLW as a last-minute replacement for Davey Boy Smith against Alex Kane for the MLW World Heavyweight title at Slaughterhouse.

“The whole thing was kind of like a whirlwind,” Lawlor said. “I got a call on a Wednesday afternoon: ‘Hey, can you come fight Alex Kane this weekend?’ Yeah, I was happy to do so. In the meantime, I talked to my old buddy MSL, who was there when I started with MLW and took my first-ever bump. He was sitting in the back and scouting in the back and it’s finally paid off for him 18 years later.”

The WTF “Superstars” also consist of MLW stalwart Alexander Hammerstone, Steph De Lander, newcomer Josh Bishop, and Matt Cardona, who will take on Kane for MLW’s most prestigious prize in the main event of One Shot.

Lawlor referred to the faction as a “fantasy video game stable” that essentially excels in every area. As for his own goals, he’s determined to capture gold once again in some form or fashion.

“I’m greedy, to be real. I can cut a few pounds and go middleweight,” Lawlor said. “Josh Bishop is now in town. I’d love to have the MLW World Tag Team titles alongside him. Yeah, I do have goals, and one of them is to beat Satoshi Kojima, and I’m not stopping after that.”

With MLW now having working relationships with both New Japan Pro-Wrestling and CMLL, the possibilities are endless in terms of the matches he can have. Even with the many notable names who have left the company in the past year, the roster is growing at a rapid rate and Lawlor is excited to help usher in this new era.

The expression “Rising tides raise all ships” can especially be applied to the wrestling business. MLW thriving only allows for more wrestlers to be afforded opportunities, and many top talents in WWE and AEW today competed in an MLW ring at one point or another.

“I think that the more eyes on the MLW product, the better off it’s going to be for wrestling and obviously for MLW,” Lawlor said. “The more exposure MLW gets, it allows MLW to grow and to show different styles. If you look at the shows the way they’re formatted now, they’re like a two-hour pay-per-view block on FITE, and throughout that, you’ll get a variety of different things.”

As for Lawlor himself, his work can also be seen over in NJPW and countless other independent promotions. He almost popped up at AEW and NJPW’s Forbidden Door joint show earlier this summer for a match against Adam Cole before being pulled prior to showtime due to an injury to Cole.

There were also rumblings he was set to challenge Jon Moxley for the AEW International Championship at WrestleDream before Moxley suffered a concussion in a match with Rey Fenix, but Fightful Select later revealed that was never set in stone.

“The rumor was I was going to face Jon Moxley before he got injured, but I don’t know whether that was ever confirmed or not,” Lawlor said. “It was never confirmed with me. There have been other times I’ve, I guess, been on standby? I honestly don’t know how to… I’m in the hole. Whatever’s not on deck. That’s where I was. Honestly, I don’t know. I haven’t really spoken to anyone there since then.”

Although he had hopes of a rematch for the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship currently held by Eddie Kingston, that’s looking unlikely at the moment with the belt being up for grabs in the ongoing Continental Classic.

“I wish beyond a wish of all wishes that I would get a return shot for the New Japan Strong Openweight Championship on AEW TV, but it appears the mouth of Eddie Kingston is going to swallow up all of these belts for a Triple Crown, so I don’t know if that’s in my cards, either,” he continued. “I don’t know what the hell’s going on with myself, other than that I’m wrestling damn near every weekend and I’m trying to keep myself busy. If I’m never on American television on a regular basis and fans don’t get to see what I love to do most, sure, it’s going to hurt in the long run, as long as my bank account’s all right, I don’t really care.”

Lawlor also trended worldwide with his comical X/Twitter post during Survivor Series about CM Punk’s shocking return to WWE, though it concluded with him joking it was about the Peacock movie “Strays” and not the AEW-turned-WWE star.

He came clean and revealed that while he didn’t actually see “Strays”, he was in disbelief with what he was seeing during Survivor Series.

“I didn’t watch [“Strays”],” he admitted. “The three-second Google search for me to find a movie that I could associate with that situation was worth it to me. But yeah, I hate to break kayfabe. I may go back and watch it after how many people responded saying they enjoyed the movie.

“I really did have to go back and rewind [Survivor Series] to be fair,” he added. “The show was kind of over. I think I was texting the West Coast Wrecking Crew. Jorel Nelson and I were arguing over the quality of the women’s WarGames match, which I was a big fan of, and then the whole CM Punk thing happened and I sat there and looked away from my computer. I had to go back and make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. In the grand scheme of things, I wasn’t surprised, but I was surprised it happened [at Survivor Series] because of all the back and forth and people saying it wasn’t going to happen and that there were no confirmations one way or the other.”

Beyond Kojima at One Shot, Lawlor wants to further prove himself as a hardcore wrestler, mentioning Second Gear Crew and The Calling as the MLW stars killing it in that department these days. His history of matches with Mil Muertes and Sami Callihan is enough proof that he can go to the extreme when need be.

“I want to show everyone that not only am I the best fighter out there, but that I’m also the best street fighter, too,” Lawlor said. “AKIRA. Rickey Shane Page. Matthew Justice. 1 Called Manders. I’d like to do some hardcore matches and take on everybody.”

MLW One Shot airs live on FITE TV this Thursday, December 7th.