On Saturday night, Major League Wrestling returned to Philadelphia for the first time since their first show, MLW Genesis in 2002 at Viking Hall. This time around, the company headed to the iconic 2300 Arena where they held MLW Superfight II as well as conducted TV tapings for episodes of MLW Fusion.
At Superfight, two titles changed hands as the Hart Foundation (Teddy Hart and Davey Boy Smith Jr. w/ Brian Pillman) defeated the Lucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr. and Fenix) and “Filthy” Tom Lawlor defeated Low Ki for the MLW World HHeavyweightChampionship, ending his 15-year undefeated streak in MLW in the process. While those title changes certainly got people talking, the Fusion tapings had a few surprises of their own, including the formation of a brand new faction known as Contra.
Contra Unit is Jacob Fatu and Almighty Sheik. pic.twitter.com/FQpDRDnn4N
— Michael (@mikeVSphilly) February 3, 2019
In late January it was reported that WARBEAST (Almighty Sheik and Jacob Fatu) and Alexander Hammerstone had signed multi-year deals with MLW, with all three expected to make their debuts at 2300 Arena. WARBEAST was one of the premier dominant forces in the West Coast tag team scene due to their brutalizing nature. The group started with four men, Sheik, Fatu, Brody King and their manager/leader Kevin Sullivan. Together, they took over PCW ULTRA in a big way. With a mantra of “All Violence is Legal,” the group was known mainly for street fights and non-DQ matches. In January 2017, Fatu and Sheik captured the tag titles where under freebird rules, they defended them. However, as King went on to become PCW ULTRA World Champion, Fatu and Sheik were the team’s primary representatives. The class of PCW ULTRA’s tag division, WARBEAST has held the titles now for 749 days and counting.
Not ones to wait for the moment to come to them, Sheik and Fatu, now known as Contra, came into MLW on fire. The two faced a team of enhancement talent, easily dismantling them. But that wasn’t enough as after the match, Fatu and Sheik continued their onslaught with Sheik blowing fire and Fatu going so far as to moonsault off the top rope onto one of the competitors as he was being loaded on a stretcher inside the ring. WARBEAST/Contra had arrived.
But the two weren’t done as later in the night, Sheik and Fatu made their presence felt in Simon Gotch‘s match against Ace Romero. The duo came down and destroyed Romero, causing Gotch to lose the match by disqualification. But Gotch didn’t care about the result, he just wanted to inflict violence. The trio did just that, breaking a flag pole with their Contra flag over Romero’s back and stabbing him in the forehead with a spike that resulted in Acey being busted open. After the beatdown, Gotch, presumably, the leader of the group cut a promo introducing Contra and telling everyone to be warned as the “merchants of violence” were here to “burn down MLW” and rebuild it in their image.
For anyone who knows WARBEAST’s work on the West Coast, they know that this declaration of war is not hyperbole. With Contra on the prowl and a tag team division that may suddenly be opening up, MLW’s locker room certainly should certainly be on watch.
Here’s a quick look at the men behind Contra.
An 18-year pro, the 34-year-old Simon Gotch is perhaps best known for his time in WWE, where he was one-half of the Vaudevillains alongside Aiden English. But Gotch didn’t join NXT until 2013, 11 years into his career. Gotch started out with All Pro Wrestling in 2002, primarily working there and Pro Wrestling IRON for his first few years. He made his Pro Wrestling Guerrilla debut in 2003, his Ring of Honor debut in 2004 and his IMPACT Wrestling debut in 2005. But those were all one-off appearances for Gotch, who was developing his niche as an old school style wrestler. In 2009, Gotch landed with World League Wrestling where he won his first title, a tag team championship with Elvis Aliaga/Christian Adonis in 2013.
Gotch joined NXT just a few months later, wrestling primarily live event tag matches. In May 2014 however, Gotch found himself paired with English and together the two found great success as the Vaudevillains. The two became NXT tag team champions a year later and were promoted to the main roster a year after that. While the two received an early #1 contendership for the tag titles on Raw, for the most part, Gotch and English merely hung around the title picture without being featured in it. Unhappy with his position on the card, Gotch asked for and was granted his release, returning to the indies as a re-branded shoot style fighter. In 2018, he debuted with MLW as a member of “Team Filthy.” By the end of the year, Gotch turned on Team Filthy, answering Salina de la Renta‘s bounty on his former friend Tom Lawlor.
Wrestling since 1999, the 44-year-old Almighty Sheik debuted for Future of Wrestling and IPW Hardcore Wrestling in his rookie year. He continued to work for those two promotions before joining Coastal Championship Wrestling in 2004 and Full Impact Pro a year later. Sheik is perhaps best known however, for where his career took him in the late 2000s as he began working regularly for several of the NWA territories/allied promotions including the Midwest, East, Florida, Charlotte, Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, Brew City Wrestling, NWA Optimum, Wisconsin Pro Wrestling, NWA Lucha Chicago, Liberty States Pro Wrestling and more.
Sheik climbed the NWA ladder winning titles in the Midwest (two-time Pro Wrestling Fusion Heavyweight Champion, one-time tag team champion, two-time NWA Midwest Heavyweight Champion) and Florida (one-time NWA Florida Heavyweight Champion) as well as winning the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship, which he held for 451 days and defended against El Generico, Matt Taven and Kazuchika Okada to name a few. In 2011, Sheik won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, defeating Colt Cabana. In his career, Sheik has won over 20 titles including the PCW ULTRA tag team championship he and Fatu still hold today.
Son of the Tonga Kid, nephew to Umaga and Rikishi, cousin to the Usos (Jimmy and Jey) and member of the famed A’noai wrestling dynasty, the “Samoan Werewolf,” Jacob Fatu has been wrestling since at least 2012. Trained by his uncle Rikishi, Fatu debuted for KnokX Pro Academy where he remained for four years before branching out into the West Coast indies. A native of California, Fatu found a home with APW and PCW ULTRA in 2016, going on to be a dominant force in both promotions. With his unique blend of aerial abilities and power, Fatu utilized a take-no-prisoners kind of approach as alongside his WARBEAST teammates, took over PCW ULTRA. In 2018, Fatu wrestled for DEFY, Game Changer Wrestling and The Crash as well, before landing with MLW earlier this year. In his career, Fatu is a four-time champion including in PCW ULTRA and APW where he is the current Universal Heavyweight Champion, the first major singles title of his career.