600 days. By the time Jacob Fatu defends his MLW Heavyweight Championship against Jordan Oliver on Fusion he will have held the belt for over 600 days. That is an amazing amount of time, and while some of it is due to the pandemic, Fatu has still been incredibly dominant. Whoever takes the title off of Fatu will instantly gain notoriety, and as such, it’s important to think carefully about who ends such a frightening reign. MLW is full of strong men, but Fatu has such strong that all have fallen to him. How do you then make a convincing opponent who could beat such a monster? It’s a problem with monster heels on streaks that have beaten some of the best with no problem so what is a newer talent going to be able to do? MLW, fortunately, has a large roster of men who could still beat Fatu, and could benefit from it. Each win would take the company in a new direction, and you have to think about what the title change will do to MLW as well as what it will do to the wrestler’s career. That being said, here are five potential new champions.
This whole article could be moot in a week if Jordan Oliver pulls off the impossible. I say impossible, but that’s really within the context of the story. On March 3, after months of Contra making Injustice’s life a living nightmare, Oliver gets a shot at Fatu. Injustice is outnumbered, outsized, and Oliver has been made to feel miniscule next to Fatu. But there’s a reason so many people are excited about this match: Oliver is a star. At GCW Fight Forever, Oliver defended his Synergy Pro title in a 2 hour Ironman Match. I’ll say it again, two entire hours. If he can do that then of course he can beat Fatu. But that doesn’t change the narrative of Oliver as the ultimate underdog here. And you know what? I’ll buy into it. I know Oliver is one of the best out there, but I’d love to see the scrappy young gun beat the most dominant champ there is. This would set MLW in a new direction with Injustice having newfound confidence, Contra on defense, and would set up a Myron Reed versus Contra feud while Oliver defends his new title against other competitors like Hammerstone who is still ranked number one on the PWI top ten. Speaking of:
#4: Alexander Hammerstone.
Man I love Hammerstone. We have spent months building to Hammerstone’s inevitable match with Jacob Fatu, which is the one thing keeping me from being too sure of Oliver getting the feel good win. They’ve invested way too much time into Hammerstone versus Fatu for the match to not be for the belt. Hammerstone needs to sort out his relationship with Richard Holiday first, as Dynasty has been in shambles since MJF left, and there is now a weird face/heel dynamic between Holiday and Hammerstone. Once that’s all taken care of, Hammerstone vs Fatu is going to be big. Hammerstone has the physique and strength that his match with Fatu won’t be David vs Goliath like Oliver’s will be, it’s going to be a hoss fight. Hammerstone is one of the few wrestlers on the roster who can get into a strike contest with Fatu and stand tall at the end. Every person on this list will have to worry about the wrath of Contra after their win, unless another group can distract them. If Azteca Underground or Injustice can keep Contra’s attention then maybe Hammerstone can escape the feud as champion; otherwise he'll have hell to pay in the rematch for the title. We could see a great dynasty break up match of Hammerstone vs Holiday or Hammerstone vs Gino Medina. If he can’t keep Contra’s attention elsewhere we will have at least one rematch with Fatu that could lead to shenanigans. I truly think that Fatu should not regain the belt, at least for quite some time. 600 days is a long time, and if they are going to head in a new direction from that, it’s best that it be a committed decision.
#3: Tom Lawlor
Coming off the spectacle that was Filthy Island, Filthy Tom Lawlor is one of the most entertaining weekly characters in MLW. Between the Filthy Island story, his feud with ACH, his feud with the Von Erichs, and the possible joining of Team Filthy with Azteca Underground, Lawlor has been getting some of the most screentime in MLW to the point where, apart from Fatu, he could be considered the face of the show. Lawlor isn’t just a character though: he’s a mighty good wrestler. He won the 2020 Opera Cup beating the incredible lineup of Rocky Romero, ACH, and Low Ki. If that doesn’t put someone in contention to face Fatu I don’t know what would. Lawlor has the fight background that he wouldn't look out of place beating Fatu. For whoever beats Fatu, they need to either barely win with a rollup or another surprise move, or be so impressive that if they win with a finisher and solid pin that Fatu still looks good even in defeat. Lawlor is believable as champion, and would look nice next to his Opera Cup win. The one issue I would have with Lawlor winning is he is the man that Fatu beat to begin his reign. I’m not sure if after 600 days we should just go back in a circle.
#2 Calvin Tankman
Tankman is one of the strongest, quickest, scariest men on not just the MLW roster, but in all of wrestling. I was beyond excited to see Tankman join MLW because I know just how good he is. He hasn’t had many matches yet, but he’s looked dominant in all of them. Tankman has faced off with plenty of great wrestlers over the last couple years like Erick Stevens, G-Raver, Lee Moriarty, Daniel Garcia, and O’Shay Edwards. Tankman moves like a cruiserweight and hits like a heavyweight, and that makes him a great choice to be champion of a company that prides itself on hybrid style wrestling. Tankman isn’t currently involved with any of the faction storylines like Injustice, Dynasty, Azteca Underground or even Contra. It’s rare today to find someone who hasn’t crossed paths with Contra, and that’s what would be so interesting about putting the belt on him. Contra has controlled MLW for quite some time now, and letting them drop out of the spotlight for a while to let some of the new talent shine wouldn’t be bad at all. Overexposure is always a worry, and while I don’t think Contra is there yet, letting the title picture be filled with things like a Tankman vs Davey Boy Smith Jr. rematch and Tankman vs Low Ki would be a nice change of pace. It would be bold to put the belt on Tankman now, but I think he can handle it.
1: Mil Muertes
I said it when Mil Muertes debuted: he’s the perfect choice to beat Fatu. Fatu will still look incredibly strong even in defeat, because it’s Mil Muertes. Muertes beat Ricochet at Ultima Lucha in Lucha Underground to win the championship, and I think the same thing could happen here. Like Fatu, Ricochet(under his Prince Puma persona) was a strong champion that would have to lose in a big way. For months we wondered who could possibly take the title off of him, and Muertes answered that call. Muertes is supposed to have a sort of supernatural strength, think early 90’s Undertaker, and that makes him winning always expected. Fatu could lose this match and not lose any of his luster as everyone loses to the man of 1000 deaths. The one problem I see is would MLW want to go from one unstoppable champion to another? Lucha Underground did it having Muertes lose to Jeff Cobb, but I think I see MLW’s idea here. It’s not just about Muertes, it’s about Azteca Underground. I’ve spoken at length about my love of this storyline and how I’m absolutely convinced that Dario Cueto is the owner of Azteca Underground. Having Muertes win the title would shift the main storyline of MLW from Contra to Azteca Underground, and I think that’s when the owner will be revealed. They’ve been playing the long game, and I think champion Muertes is the end goal.
Can you think of anyone else who could take the title off Fatu? Let me know below and keep watching MLW.
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