|Major League Wrestling|
|Founded||June 12, 2002(original); July 2017 (revival)|
Major League Wrestling, LLC (MLW) is an American professional wrestling promotion based in New Rochelle, New York. It was founded in 2002 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by former WWE writer Court Bauer before the promotion moved its bases to New York City and later to Orlando, Florida. The promotion ran several live events and tapings for a television show named Underground TV that aired on the Sunshine Network. Founder Court Bauer described MLW's product as "the most violent, hard-hitting action mixed with cutting edge storylines", also described as "Hybrid Wrestling" a mix of wrestling styles.
Bauer resumed promoting events in July 2017, with a new weekly television show named MLW Fusion premiering on BeIN Sports in April 2018. MLW currently has working relationships with Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide, the International Wrestling Association, CyberFight (formerly Pro Wrestling Noah), The Crash Lucha Libre and New Japan Pro Wrestling. In April 2019, MLW moved its operations into a corporate office building in New Rochelle, New York.
Following the closures and acquisitions of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now known as the WWE) in 2001, Major League Wrestling (MLW) was founded on June 16, 2002; shortly after, the promotion took three months of hiatus to move their headquarters from Philadelphia to New York. MLW styled itself as an alternative to sports entertainment, with founder Court Bauer describing MLW's product as "the most violent, hard-hitting action mixed with cutting edge storylines", following in the tradition of ECW.
In 2003, MLW moved their base of operations to Florida and negotiated a deal with the Sunshine Network to air their television series Underground TV, which ran between April 7, 2003 and February 14, 2004. These shows were hosted by Joey Styles and consisted of pre-taped matches from prior events. During this time, MLW promoted many former ECW wrestlers such as Sabu, Terry Funk, Shane Douglas, and Steve Corino, leading some fans to criticize the promotion as a mere imitation of ECW and that company's other prominent successor Ring of Honor. MLW ceased operations in March 2004.
Revival and MLW Fusion (2017–2018)
In 2017, MLW announced it would once again be promoting wrestling events, the first one was named One-Shot with tickets going on sale July 21, 2017. In the same year, MLW announced it would run more shows in Orlando in 2018. Given the success of their independent outings, MLW was able to secure a television deal with beIN Sports for a new program, MLW Fusion, which debuted on April 20, 2018. Their first episode featured Pentagon Jr. against Fenix as the main event.
In July 2018, MLW continued its expansion by presenting their first two-hour special on beIN Sports, Battle Riot. Their first Battle Riot was won by Tom Lawlor, who would go to cash it in to win the MLW World Heavyweight Championship. Additionally, Major League Wrestling began introducing contracts as part of their growth strategy. In August, MLW started a working agreement with Mexican-based promotion Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide (AAA).[better source needed] On September 19, it was announced that MLW signed another deal with beIN Sports to air MLW Fusion in Spanish.
On October 13, MLW announced their second two-hour special on beIN Sports, Halloween Special. On October 18, it was announced the signings of PCO and Richard Holliday as full-time members of the promotion. It was also reported that Court Bauer and several MLW executives would travel to Monaco for Sportel, with intentions of making a big push internationally. Also announced was a project between MLW and Spiff TV.
Live programming (2018–present)
On November 8, MLW held a Fusion television taping, named Fightland, in Chicago at Cicero Stadium. Owner Court Bauer claimed that this was the highest attendance in MLW history, shattering the previous attendance record of 1,536 people for the June 20, 2003 event Hybrid Hell in Florida. On November 29, Bauer announced that Fusion would be broadcast live on beIN Sports on December 14, an announcement which had previously been teased on November 22. This coincided with their two-day television tapings in Miami: Never Say Never and Zero Hour. The live episode was an hour of Zero Hour's events.
MLW held live specials on BeIN Sports for their first two events of 2019, SuperFight in February and Intimidation Games in March. The company brought former manager Jim Cornette on as a color commentator starting March 2, 2019. He continued to work for the company for Rise of the Renegades, Battle Riot II, and Fury Road 2019. He also worked unofficially in an agent-like role for the company. This includes coaching younger talent on their television presentation and promos.
In the beginning of 2019, their first four events, SuperFight, Intimidation Games, Rise of the Renegades and Battle Riot II were all revealed to have sold out. In April 2019, they moved their operations into a corporate office building in New Rochelle, New York. On April 18, 2019, MLW announced the creation of a new title: the MLW National Openweight Championship, with the inaugural champion to be crowned during the promotion's Fury Road 2019 show in Waukesha, Wisconsin. In June 2019, International Wrestling Association (IWA-PR) owner Savio Vega was brought in as an on-air talent and backstage agent, this de facto working relationship resulted in the use of the IWA Caribbean Heavyweight Championship in storylines.
Tony Schiavone returned to commentary in July 2019. On July 5, it was announced that MLW would hold its first pay-per-view event named Saturday Night SuperFight, which would be held on November 2. On July 26, MLW announced a working agreement with Japanese-based promotion Pro Wrestling Noah, which would include a talent-exchange agreement and content collaboration between the two promotions. On August 8, MLW announced that they had reached a deal with FITE TV to produce content for their streaming network, with the first MLW event produced for FITE TV being Saturday Night SuperFight on November 2. Four days later, MLW announced a working relationship with Mexican-based promotion The Crash Lucha Libre termed as a "strategic alliance". On August 23, MLW and The Crash announced they would co-promote their first event on October 5 at the Auditorio Fausto Gutierrez in Tijuana, Mexico.
On June 9, 2020, MLW reached a new media rights deal with British media company DAZN Group to broadcast MLW programming on DAZN. CEO Court Bauer also announced during the same month that reruns MLW Underground TV would air on BeIN Sports throughout the summer.
In August 2020, MLW announced #TheRestart, with Fusion TV tapings to resume in October of that year. On September 10, it was announced that MLW Fusion would move to Wednesday nights on fubo Sports Network. On October 10, it was revealed that Fusion would return on November 18 at 7pm EST and new episodes would also premiere on MLW's YouTube channel on the same night.
In October 2020, MLW announced a "strategic alliance" International Wrestling Association (Puerto Rico) for the “celebration of inter-promotional events, direct support to the events of each of the companies and collaboration in other types of promotions”.
Touring and TV tapings
In the beginning, MLW would hold one show a month, originally from the Viking Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By the end of 2002, MLW began running two shows a month and, in 2003, multiple shows in a weekend were held in New York. The first time MLW left New York was December 20, 2002, for King Of Kings from the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The promotion primarily held events in Florida prior to closing its doors in 2004.
Since their return in 2017, MLW was running shows back in Florida, but also returned to New York in 2018 as a result of their successful deal with BeIN Sports. MLW's touring pattern changed drastically. Instead of running regular shows in cities where the company had a following, MLW began focusing more on cities that carry its television show. On September 18, MLW announced their debut in Chicago. On October 19, MLW announced that they would return to Florida to make their Miami debut.
MLW Radio Network
MLW returned with a changed business model in 2011, initially focusing exclusively on producing broadcast and digital content within the professional wrestling category. MLW Radio Network has grown to consistently have 5 - 6 podcasts in the iTunes Top 100 in the Sports category on the average day. Many prominent professional wrestling figures have appeared on the network, including former WWE and WCW stars Kevin Sullivan, Jim Duggan, MVP, current WWE executive Bruce Prichard, former WCW and current AEW commentator Tony Schiavone, and former WCW President and WWE executive Eric Bischoff.
In 2018, after the promotion was revived, MLW signed some talent to exclusive contracts. It also gave MLW power over the performers' dates. Their wrestlers are allowed to perform for other promotions but have to prioritize MLW events. As a result, MLW's roster mainly consists of independent contractors who also appear in other promotions (Namely Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide and Impact Wrestling).
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Reign||Date won||Days held||Location||Notes|
|MLW World Heavyweight Championship||Jacob Fatu||1||July 6, 2019||569+||Cicero, Illinois||Defeated Tom Lawlor at Kings of Colosseum.|
|MLW National Openweight Championship||Alexander Hammerstone||1||June 1, 2019||604+||Waukesha, Wisconsin||Defeated Brian Pillman Jr in a four-man single elimination tournament at Fury Road to become the inaugural champion.|
|MLW World Tag Team Championship||El Hijo de L.A. Park & LA Park||1||January 13, 2021||12+||Orlando, Florida||Defeated Marshall Von Erich & Ross Von Erich on MLW Fusion.|
|MLW World Middleweight Championship||Lio Rush||1||January 6, 2021||19+||Orlando, Florida||Defeated Myron Reed at Kings Of Colosseum.|
|Championship||Date of entry||First champion(s)||Date retired||Final champion(s)||Days active||Notes|
|MLW World Junior Heavyweight Championship||September 19, 2003||Sonjay Dutt||February 13, 2004||Sonjay Dutt||144||Dutt defeated Christopher Daniels to win the title in a tournament final. The title was no longer listed as active after the company stopped hosting events.|
|Accomplishment||Latest winner(s)||Date won||Location||Notes|
|Battle Riot II||LA Park||April 5, 2019||Queens, New York||Last eliminated Sami Callihan to win.|
|Opera Cup||Tom Lawlor||December 23, 2020||Orlando, Florida||Defeated Low Ki in the finals of an eight-man single elimination tournament.|
|Caribbean Heavyweight Championship||Savio Vega||June 15, 2019||N/A (MLW Fusion vignette)||Though officially a IWA-PR title, it has been featured exclusively in MLW since its re-introduction. On January 11, 2020, Richard Holliday proclaimed himself champion and has retained the belt since.|
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