A new wrestling company hits the airwaves Friday night at 8, as Court Bauer's Major League Wrestling debuts with “Fusion” on BeIN Sports.
The brainchild of former WWE writer Court Bauer, MLW is the resurrection of a promotion that ran from 2002-2004. While MLW has existed since then in the form of a website, and most notably a podcast network, the rebirth marks a new player in the growing world of wrestling offered on television.
They bring a diverse roster to the screen, including former WWE stars MVP and Low Ki, international stars Pentagon El Zero M, Rey Fenix and Jimmy Havoc and rising stars Shane Strickland and Matt Riddle.
However, one of the most noteworthy names involved with MLW: Fusion will be behind the commentator's desk, as Tony Schiavone returns to wrestling. Schiavone was most known as the voice of WCW, and was the play-by-play man for Nitro and Thunder for their entire run. However, after WCW went under, Schiavone walked away from wrestling, only briefly appearing in TNA, and never calling another wrestling match until now.
“To be honest, I didn't want to do it [at first]. I had walked away from the business,” Schiavone said. “But Court's MLW, which hosts podcasts, he gave me a start with my podcast and I thought that I'd do it to say thanks for what you've done for me.
“Then I got into it, and I realized that there's some great kids who are trying to get ahead and make a name for themselves and move up in the sport. If I can lend my voice to that to help them enhance their career, why not give it a shot? And I'm really into it now.”
While Bauer heading it up appealed to Schiavone, he also understands that it's not just about who is at the head of the company. It's about the team around him, and how they can make the show look as good as possible.
“[Bauer] has Dan Bynum as his director, Dan worked in WCW for many years,” Schiavone said. “Nelson Sweglar ,who is his director of production, was Vince [McMahon's] right hand man for many years. Bruce Prichard works behind the scenes as a producer. Bruce is well known in wrestling and in podcasting. Court brought me in and Rich Boccini. He has many people in place that have a great amount of wrestling knowledge.”
Despite the production team, and the talent that MLW is bringing in, Schiavone still isn't sure how long he will do it. By his own admission, he was miserable at the end of the WCW run, and felt that the day McMahon bought the company was one of the best days in the history of wrestling, as it put everyone out of their misery. But MLW has a completely different environment.
“I compare it to the end of WCW. Every time we went to do a show, it was terrible,” Schiavone said. “It was a terrible place to work. Now, we go and do an MLW show, and everybody is happy, everybody is in a good mood, and wants to work. There's no backstabbing, there's no conniving. Everyone just wants to have a good product. That's refreshing. That's one of the reasons I'm sticking with it.”
The one issue for Schiavone is that he's still a bit unsure if he can keep up with the current product. While he still has his broadcasting chops, and while he hasn't been broadcasting wrestling, he still has been doing PBP for the Braves AAA team in Gwinnett, the in-ring product has changed so much that he still has to learn new things about it.
“There's nothing the same about it. I think you'll realize on Friday, people will say, ‘Man, Schiavone doesn't know any of the holds.’ They have new names now. Especially with the luchadores that we have, like Pentagon and Rey Fenix, they have do some crazy things that I've never seen before, and I don't know what to call them. I've been going through YouTube videos and twitter looking at videos people have put together to learn all the names of the moves. It's more of a high spot sport than it used to be. I realize the sport has picked up speed, and I need to pick up speed with it.”
Despite the challenges, Schiavone has found the talent to be refreshing. The locker room in WCW was a beat down group. While there were some young wrestlers, they were often held down by the power and egos of the aging wrestlers in the locker room. Not so much at MLW.
“The locker room is great. The kids will do anything at all,” Schiavone says. “Back in the day when a wrestler didn't like what he was presented, he would scoff at doing it and it would change the show around. I've never seen a rewrite for any of the MLW shows. The shows and the finishes that they have, they send me earlier in the week, is exactly what happens on TV.
“Back in the WCW days, we'd have a meeting at 1 in the afternoon, and by 4 the scripts would be completely different because of what wrestlers wanted. All these guys will do whatever it takes to get ahead and get their name out there, and that's refreshing.”
Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section here, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://soundcloud.com/jobbingout