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Winfree’s MLW: Never Say Never Review 3.31.21

April 1, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
MLW: Never Say Never
6.5
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Winfree’s MLW: Never Say Never Review 3.31.21  

Alright everyone, MLW caps off the month of March with their Never Say Never event. This one is all Contra Unit all the time, Simon Gotch will take on Jordan Oliver and Myron Reed meets Daivari while MLW world champion Jacob Fatu will defend the title against Calvin Tankman. So with that bit of set up, let’s get to it.

Video package opens things, Fatu says Tankman is just going to be another addition to his body count while Tankman says he’s different from the rest of the roster and that if Fatu plays games with him he’ll wake up without his title. The usual stuff from both men, nothing great but neither man looked foolish.

Commentary then runs down the card as we start, then head to the ring for our first match.

Match #1: Simon Gotch vs. Jordan Oliver

Gotch after the arm early, Oliver trying to wrestle because nothing sells animosity like a double leg. On the mat Gotch starts working the leg, Oliver counters towards a toe hold, Gotch into a chinlock and starts cracking the neck. Oliver is rolling and gets to the ropes to force a break, and Gotch lands a knee as they break. Gotch gets a crucifix, he’s fishing for a banana split and starts landing headbutts as Oliver fights out of that attempt. Oliver to the apron, lands a right and then switches places to knock Gotch out of the ring. Gotch avoids a dive, they get back into the ring and Oliver springs out of the corner into a blow to the lower back. That might give Gotch a target. Gotch in control laying in stomps and kicks. Oliver fires back with elbows but Gotch shuts that down with kicks then starts looking for an americana. Oliver nearly into an armbar but he gets to the ropes then slides out of the ring. Gotch follows him and they start trading blows on the floor, then Gotch hits a snap suplex. Back into the ring, Oliver kicks out of a pin attempt and Gotch resumes laying in knees and elbows while in side control. Gotch starts in on the small join manipulation, then kicks Oliver in the head for another near fall. Oliver tries a single leg but the attempt is anemic and Gotch blasts him with a right. Oliver counters a scoop slam into a DDT and both men are down. They fight back up and start trading strikes again. Running forearms are traded, then Oliver hits the Marufuji style clothesline off the ropes behind the opponent and starts in on offense. Gotch clobbers Oliver with an elbow, then counters a jumping cutter into a choke attempt, Oliver slips free and then hits the jumping second rope cutter to win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Jordan Oliver won at 9:13

Rating: 2.5 stars

My antipathy towards Oliver grows, I know Gotch might be on his way out of the company which would explain his recent booking but I do wish he’d be used to put over someone better. The match was executed well, no major botches and neither man got lost so kudos for that.

We’ll get some kind of interview segment between Richard Holliday and Gino Medina, so we can look forward to that. Contra hacks the feed and Samael is talking. He says Never Say Never is a romantic western notion, tonight time is up for the enemies of Contra. Injustice are just typical Americans, complaining on their over price iphones and trying to convince the world that their little revolution can work. But this isn’t a revolution, this is war. A war he’s trained Contra for, and Tankman’s been wasting time with the media while Fatu has been butchering opponents. Tonight the black flag of Contra will fly over the broken bodies of the infidels, and that’s justice. Josef Samael is really good in this role in case you forgot.

Video indicates there’s an upcoming collaboration between MLW and Dragongate. They had plans to partner up but the pandemic slowed that, but we’ll get more information coming up on the partnership between the two.

Match #2: Daivari vs. Myron Reed

They start brawling right away with Daivari getting the better of it. Reed tosses Daivari out of the ring, then suicide dives onto him. Reed gets thrown into the stage then Daivari starts laying in kicks. Back into the ring Daivari starts abusing Reed. Daivari tosses Reed out of the ring, wants a piledriver on the hard wood but Reed back drops him out of it. Reed onto a speaker and dives onto Daivari again. Back into the ring, Daivari avoids a springboard cross body and Reed eats the mat. Daivari starts working the leg now as Reed seemed to come down on that knee badly. Figure 4 from Daivari, Reed has to move to the ropes and force a break. Reed counters a suplex into a stunner and both men are down. Reed starts to fire up, slams Daivari down then hits a couple of leg drops for a near fall. Daivari hits a powerslam for a near fall and he gets to take over. Daivari takes the chest protector from Reed and puts it on himself, he body slams Reed then heads up top but badly misses a frog splash. Reed takes off the chest protector then hits the springback cutter. The chest protector back on for Reed, hits the springboard 450 to win.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Myron Reed won at 8:05

Rating: 2 stars

Serious clash of styles here, they tried to make it work but Daivari’s in ring style doesn’t mesh all that well with Reed’s. Reed is still a solid cruiserweight but I do question his overall ceiling.

Hammerstone talks now, he says his match against Mil Muertes is right around the corner and he can feel the excitement. He says Muertes planned this whole thing wrong, and tells Salina not to bother waking Muertes up after Hammerstone is done with him.

Alicia Atout has a Zoom meeting with Holliday and Medina. Holliday says he should be referred to as the Caribbean champion, he and Alicia bicker, Medina tells the both of them need to stop being so thirsty and that we should get to it. Medina and Holliday trade insults and argue about which of them is “dynastic”. Alicia mocks the amount of cologne that Holliday wears, Medina says he’s not here to argue with brunette Barbie or dime store Ken, he’s here to talk business. Holliday objects, he thinks his figure would outsell Ken and this is just part of why he fired Medina. They argue about whether there was a firing or a quitting. Alicia says there’s going to be a Caribbean title fight between Holliday and Medina. Holliday objects, Medina says he’ll have that gold soon. OK, that was painful. The problem here is that both Medina and Holliday are heels, they’re both the same kind of heel, and while there’s animosity between them you kind of just hope a toilet seat breaks off of the international space station and strikes the ring rather than root for either of them (I really hope at least one person reading gets that reference).

Main event time.

Match #3 – MLW World Title Match: (c) Jacob Fatu w/ Daivari vs. Calvin Tankman

They tie up but neither man has a strength edge off the bat. Tankman gets a side headlock, then hits the ropes but can’t knock Fatu over. They clash again, this time Fatu falls between the ropes and has to recover on the outside. Back in the ring Tankman with punches but he runs into a back elbow and Fatu starts laying in strikes in the corner. Tankman off the second rope and hits an armdrag then a jumping calf kick to drop Fatu. Fatu slips to the apron over the top rope, then hits a springboard clothesline to take over. Super kick from Fatu then headbutts to follow up. Tankman walks into a Samoan drop for a near fall. Fatu takes some tape wrapping off and chokes Tankman with it for a bit. Tankman fights back with chops but Fatu hits him with a throat punch and more headbutts. More headbutts from Fatu. Fatu with offense in the corner, then a cannonball senton and super kick to the seated Tankman. Fatu goes to a nerve hold, giving Tankman more time to get his air back I think. Tankman fights to his feet with chops, hits the ropes but runs into a leaping back elbow and Fatu is still in control. More punches from Fatu but Tankman is firing up and they start trading rights. Fatu avoids a spinning back fist and lands a chop but they hit the ropes and Tankman hits a pounce to knock Fatu out of the ring. Tankman with a suicide dive, his foot caught up on the rope and that was almost very bad. Back in the ring Tankman with a running shooting star press, ugly but the man is over 300 pounds so I’ll cut him a little slack. Tankman sets in the corner tries an RKO but Fatu does the handstand counter, lands a super kick then a handspring moonsault for a near fall. Tankman with a pop up spinning back elbow then a back breaker and a clothesline for his own near fall. Daivari up on the apron and into the ring but runs into a headbutt, behind the refs back Fatu blasts Tankman with a flag shot, hits the double jump moonsault and retains the title.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Jacob Fatu retained the title at 10:44

Rating: 3 stars

That’s a very soft 3 stars. Tankman is capable of spurts of offense that are impressively athletic for a man his size, but he really struggled to keep a full match of this length compelling. The spots are there, but the connective tissue isn’t for Tankman just yet. Fatu squaring off with someone closer to his size was a nice change of pace, and he’s the champion for a reason as he’s one of the better wrestlers in the promotion.

Fatu celebrates with the belt to close the show while commentary wonders who on Earth can stop Jacob Fatu.

6.5
The final score: review Average
The 411
Average trending towards good here, the show was less than an hour which has pros and cons built in. On the pro side it's a smaller time investment while on the con it kind of means all three matches plus the other production stuff means things get a little rushed. I take minor issue with the booking, it felt a little like Oliver and Reed won to try and set up drama for the main event because intellectually there's no way Tankman was taking the belt off of Fatu at this point. MLW continues to more or less maximize what they have, but this felt more like a Fusion episode than a special event.
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