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MLW in Manhattan


Guest columnist: ayakoholic


Hammerstein Ballroom
New York, NY

Okay, so I had to drive four hours each way to see the show. Okay, so I missed work today 'cause I didn't get back 'til six this morning. Okay, so I stayed up for almost 23 hours straight, drove for about 9 of those hours, thereby screwing up my immune system, rendering me vulnerable to the cold my wife has and I've been fighting for a week, and laying me out sick today. Do I care? Hell No. Why?

MLW Reload was the best wrestling show I've ever seen, bar none. Let me repeat for emphasis:




My friends and I drove down to NYC from Western Massachusetts. We arrived at the Hammerstein ballroom in the Manhattan Center near MSG, stood in line for a mercifully short time, and went on in just before 7. I had purchased tickets the night before, the highest priced seats, which with ticketmaster charges came to $40 a pop. It's the best $40 I've ever spent-- we had front row seats opposite the ramp. Having said that, though, there wasn't a bad seat in the house. Attendance wasn't big-- it was set up for about 1000-1200 and ended up being about half full-- but the fans were GREAT. Compared to the slime molds I had to share air with at the last WWE show I went to, these people were a joy. They were fans of wrestling, not "sports entertainment," and it really showed. Everyone who worked well, which was pretty much everyone, got major respect.

Anyway, I got my picture taken with Terry Funk, who was visibly limping coming down the ramp. We were hoping that he wouldn't die that night. My friend Benni bought a Funk U shirt, for which Terry was visibly grateful (the man's loaded, but loves his fans). Benni mentioned that he had seen Terry's arm get fucked up at the last XPW show, and Terry said, "yeah, the worst thing about that is that it got all the way down into the muscle." Then he showed us the arm. The man heals like Wolverine! There was a red streak there, but no scar. Uncanny. I also got my pic taken with Shocker, and my friend Jeff got his taken with La Parka.

The show started a bit past 8. Some radio guy came out to announce the main events, and the participants thereof came out and had a quick brawl which was broken up by security.

First up: Super Crazy vs. Fuego Guerrera (The Amazing Red in a mask). This was off the charts. If you buy the tape/dvd, and you should, you should see me and my crew in Super Crazy's entrance-- he came over and posed with us for the camera. This was the perfect way to kick things off: a great match, huge heat for both guys, and mind-blowing spots. Red did a standing Shooting Star Press, for gods' sake. Benni: "That one match was better than the whole XPW show we went to." Not that it was that hard, but IMO, that one match was better than *all* the good WWE matches in the last couple of years put together. Super Crazy took the win with a sitout powerbomb.

Next, Joel Gertner came out and announced he was back. Honestly, no one believed it was him until he spoke-- he's lost a ton of weight and really looks great. He introduced his newest managees: PJ Friedman (looks kind of like a young, bald/cleanshaven Vader), and DR. DEATH STEVE WILLIAMS. Huge crowd pop. Their scheduled opponents had been the Samoan Island Tribe, but apparently they no-showed. The two jobbers who replaced them were pretty pathetic, honestly. One was seriously out of shape, and the other ("Afterburn") looked like the Schwarzenalien with a blond mullet and the worst case of backne (roider!) I've ever seen. The match dragged on for *far* too long, and it was the worst match of the night. However, the last five seconds brought it from negative stars to about 1/2*. PJ hit a release Dragon Suplex on Afterburn, and Dr. Death hit the Backdrop Driver on the other guy for the win. The crowd erupted for that one, and I marked out like crazy.

Next up: La Parka vs. Shocker. La Parka was very over with the crowd, and both of them worked their asses off. Shocker took a SICK bump-- he did a suicide dive straight into a chairshot. OUCH. Excellent match which ended with La Parka hitting his corkscrew body press for the win.

The fourth match was a six man tag, an impromptu since Low Ki no-showed. The Spanish Announce Team (Jose and Joel Maximo) and Quiet Storm vs. Christopher Daniels (w/Fallen Angel gimmick) and the Far East Connection... IKUTO GODDAMN HIDAKA AND DICK FREAKIN' TOGO, BAY-BEE!!! The FEC was *crazy* over. Hidaka got a LOT of cheers, and I've never heard that many straight men chanting "DICK! DICK! DICK!" in my life. Daniels, Hidaka, and Togo were supposedly heels, but the crowd was behind them %100. Excellent match, though the SAT didn't live up to the hype, and they earned the ire of the crowd when they botched the Spanish Fly and seriously screwed up Togo's ankle. I don't think it was broken, but he rolled out of the ring and stayed out for the rest of the match, and he looked genuinely in pain. Daniels took the win after hitting the Last Rites, though I was too busy asking Togo "daijobu ka (are you okay)?" to notice who took it.

Fifth was C.W. Anderson vs. Devon Storm (using that gimmick rather than the Crowbar one). Crowd was pretty firmly behind Anderson, who added some chairs into the mix. The ref couldn't decide whether they were legal or not, seemingly; he sometimes took them away, but gave up after a while. Highlights included Storm sandwiching CW between himself and a chair, ramming CW into the turnbuckle against the chair a couple of times before giving CW a Northern Lights Suplex onto/with the chair. Pretty sweet. At one point, after CW had taken down Storm with a couple of chairshots, the guy next to me yelled, "Kill him!" CW looked right at him, and said in a very heartfelt, almost apologetic tone, "I'm f*ckin' trying, man." We nearly wet ourselves laughing. CW took the win after giving Storm a Spinebuster on a chair.

Next, Terry Funk (w/the biggest pop of the night) vs. Chris Candido (w/Funk style tights and Tammy Sytch [w/visible nipples and frightening ass]). The crowd *loved* Funk-- you can't do anything but love the man and his love for the sport and the fans. Funk, naturally, bled like a stuck pig. The last Jason movie didn't have as much blood in it as this match did. No technical display, just a *wonderful* hardcore brawl. Funk took the win after hitting a piledriver; Candido, pissed at the result, returned the favor after he recovered.

Seventh match of the night was originally scheduled to be Vampiro vs. Steve Corino in a NYC Street Fight. After they cut promos just so you knew who was the heel (Corino) and who was the face (Vamp), Sandman came out to a huge pop to make it a three way dance. Like Gertner, Sandman has lost a LOT of weight. Unlike Gertner, Sandman does *not* look good at all-- his thinness made him look like a heroin junkie. Sandman went out first, and then Corino took the win after a sick-looking top-rope bulldog. After the match, Vampiro got up, still mostly selling, and looked around at the crowd, waggling his thumb up and down to say "well, what'd you think?" The reaction was overwhelmingly positive.

MLW #1 Contender's match: Sabu vs. TAIYO FREAKIN' KEA, BABY. *Excellent* effort from both men-- and I have no great love for Sabu, but last night, he genuinely impressed me. A, he sold more than I've ever seen him do, and B, he didn't blow a single spot. (Really, there were no more than a handful of blown spots in the entire night.) Kea was amazing, and gave and took a stunning array of bumps, including a DDT from Sabu OVER THE ROPES and straight onto his head. The finish saw Kea giving Sabu *two* Hawaiian Smashers (fireman's carry stunner) and his new finisher, the Hawaii 5-0 (essentially a reverse Hawaiian Smasher-- torture rack into a neckbreaker). The crowd, which had been mostly pro-Sabu, nevertheless gave Kea huge props after the match, especially after he shook Sabu's hand.

MLW Heavyweight Championship match: Jerry Lynn vs. SATOSHI FREAKIN' KOJIMA!!! The crowd was very into Jerry... until Kojima made his entrance. I've never heard an American audience go so nuts for a Japanese wrestler. The audience was incredibly fired up for this match, and for nearly half the match, they (and I) chanted "KO-JI-MA" and "ALL JAPAN" until we were hoarse. Lynn got in surprisingly little offense, but what he did get in was very good. Still, I'd have gladly traded all of that awful tag match to get a few more minutes of this one. Finish came when Kojima hit the Koji Cutter lariat (falling Axe Bomber). Lynn raised Kojima's hand to a monster pop, and then Kojima grabbed a mic and spoke slowly and deliberately. "Sank you very much. [huge pop] My name is Satoshi Kojima. [huge pop] I love tempura, sushi, karaoke... and New York City. [enormous pop] I look forward to coming back and defending this championship. Sank you very much. [pop pop pop pop pop] Kea appeared on the ramp for a final staredown with Kojima, and that was the end of the show.

It was nearly midnight, and in return for forty bucks and a hell of a long drive, my friends and I had been given almost four hours of some of the best wrestling I've ever seen. It was worth every penny and my physical state today, and you bet your ass I'm going to be at the next MLW show and buying the DVD of Reload. If you love wrestling and you're in or near the tri-state area, you really owe it to yourself to check out MLW.

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