Last week's MLW Fusion was a great episode. We had an absolute banger in Lee Moriarty vs Calvin Tankman, the Opera Cup started, and the Women's Division was showcased. Despite all of that, my favorite moment of the episode was a conversation. Not the talk between Cesar Duran and Richard Holliday, but the one between Duran and Alexander Hammerstone. Hammerstone vacated the National Openweight Championship with a great speech about how he didn't want to pull the ladder up behind him. He spoke about how the National belt was a tremendous opportunity. As soon as he said that word both my ears and Duran's perked up. Back in Lucha Underground, when Duran was known as Dario Cueto, he was known for giving what he called "unique opportunities."
These could vary from a new belt, to wager matches, to a best of five series where the winner gets a title shot, but the loser leaves the company. That last bit is important, as Cueto's opportunities often came with a price or a risk. Duran said he liked the word opportunity, and you could already see the gears turning in his head. Next week we'll look at who should be the next National Openweight Champion, but today I want to look at how we should get our next champion. After all, this is an opportunity to book anything we want.
Fresh Faces Tournament
Similar to NXT's Breakout Tournament, the idea here would be to spotlight new MLW stars. The only rule would be that all the competitors must have never challenged for any belt in MLW. On one hand, this means new stars like Alex Kane are eligible, but even new names like Arez, Aramis and Matt Cross are disqualified. It leaves a very interesting field, as you still have guys like Zenshi who have been around for a while but never had a shot. Everyone would be able to cut promos about how this is truly their first chance in the company, and the ultimate winner would be a fresh star for MLW.
Another option is to just throw everyone in the ring and see what happens. Battle Royals can be great for creating new feuds, having unique interactions, and crowning unlikely champions. We'll talk more about this next week, but EJ Nduka is on my shortlist of next champions, and he could very easily win this type of match. As I said earlier, Duran is known for his risky offers, and the first person eliminated could have a punishment, such as being kicked out of MLW. It makes the choice of whether to even enter the battle Royal a tough one, and could create some very good storytelling.
Another match that EJ Nduka could do very well in, a gauntlet is always fun. There have been some very memorable gauntlet matches the last couple of years, and a dedicated episode of Fusion to a gauntlet could be really special and join those ranks. We still talk about Seth Rollins and Kofi Kingston's gauntlet runs, and there's no reason MLW couldn't do the same for someone. It's a bit harder of a match to make work, but when it does, it shines.
I love a multiperson ladder match, and MLW hasn't really had any. With all the new influx of Lucha talent into the company, a ladder match could be fantastic. Just imagine Arez, Aramis, Gringo Loco, and more flying around off of ladders. I feel like the match kind of sells itself, but I'd love to see a risk-reward version of a ladder match(no not feast or fired), with a ticking clock. The belt begins fairly low above the ring: it could be grabbed with a decent step-stool, but the longer the match goes, the higher the belt rises, until you need one of those Edge-spear sized ladders to reach it. So with every passing minute the wrestlers will need to risk more to win. It's a unique take that I could see MLW trying.
Now we're getting into true Justin territory. So a couple months back I covered ZMAK wrestling in Greece. One match I talked about was the Prison Break match. As far as I know, this hasn't been done anywhere else. The match is like Elimination Chamber without the chamber, and the four waiting wrestlers are handcuffed to the turnbuckles. I've attached the match above, and it seems the kind of weird stipulation MLW would love. It has a certain grime that I think would fit not only the company, but Cesar Duran as well. I can already see his giddy grin as the wrestlers get handcuffed.
So there's five options for how to crown a new champion. Next week we'll look at who that champion should be, but what do you think of these stipulations? Be sure to let me know and check back next week.