Back when the Monday Night Wars ended with the demise of WCW (and ECW already dead in the water), the indie landscape took a turn for the better. With WWE securing up the head of the pro wrestling industry from a mainstream standpoint, suddenly there was a plethora of talent emerging with no viable options to head too unless the WWE wanted them – which at the time, they did not due to size and an emerging style of athleticism that didn’t fit their programming. But that did lead to the formation of some of the top indie promotions of today, such as Ring of Honor (ROH, 2002), Impact Wrestling (2002), CHIKARA (2002), and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG, 2003). Another upstart promotion at the same time, Major League Wrestling (MLW), also began in 2002. The founder of the company was former WWE Creative member Court Bauer, but the company lasted only two years before closing down. Bauer moved on to other projects, including shifting MLW to a radio network that expanded into a Podcast network – it’s the home of podcasts from the likes of Jim Cornette, Bruce Prichard, Dutch Mantell, Kevin Sullivan and more.
Although MLW only lasted for two years, it offered an alternative to what the WWE was doing, combining the aggressive attitude of ECW with what became the traditional athletic norm for indie wrestling today. It became a new home for such ECW stars as Shane Douglas, Jerry Lynn, and Steve Corino, and became a launching pad for new indie stars like Christopher Daniels, CM Punk, Homicide, Daniel Bryan, Teddy Hart, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Rocky Romero, Low Ki…you get the picture.
After closing down in 2004, no one would ever expect to hear Major League Wrestling again. At least not beyond the world of wrestling podcasts. But on October 15, 2017, MLW returned as a promotion for an event aptly named MLW One Shot, with a card that featured Ricochet, Shane Strickland, Jeff Cobb, Santana Garrett, Mia Yim, Sami Callihan and more, including former UFC Middleweight fighter “Filthy” Tom Lawlor and former UFC Heavyweight/Light Heavyweight fighter Seth “The Silverback” Petruzelli. After that, many assumed that it was a one and done, a nostalgic reminder of one of the 2000s indie revolutions original combatants. But they returned again last December with MLW Never Say Never and just last week held MLW Zero Hour. It would appear that MLW was back to stay, once again run by Court Bauer himself, and this time with a stronger team behind him. But don’t call MLW and indie promotion, as he pointed out in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated just prior to Never Say Never:
“We’re not an indy. Look at who is involved. Connect the dots. It’s so much more. MLW has a pedigree production team featuring Nelson Sweglar (head of WWF TV from the early 1980s – mid 1990s; proceeded by Kevin Dunn). Joining Nelson is the former head of ECW Production, Charlie Bruzzese, who worked on the original MLW. Former WWE creative executive Alex Greenfield serves as a supervising producer, joined by another WWE alum in Robert Karpeles, who is a producer at MLW. MVP and Jimmy Havoc joined MLW behind the scenes as agents. MSL and I work as agents on matches as well.”
At next month’s MLW Road to the World Championship, Major League Wrestling looks to kickstart its titles once again, beginning with the Big One. The original MLW World Championship was held by such men as Shane Douglas, Satoshi Kojima, Mike Awesome and Steve Corino, before becoming inactive following MLW’s shutdown in 2004. This time, it will be decided by an 8-man tournament at February’s event, featuring the following eight men.
— Major League Wrestling (@MLW) January 17, 2018