Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Preview: MLW Intimidation Games (2/29/24)

A promotional graphic for MLW Intimidation Games 2024.

This Saturday, MLW returns to the Melrose Ballroom in Queens, New York for their latest PPV event on Triller TV+. This is MLW’s fourth Intimidation Games, with last event under this name took place in 2022. The last time at MLW was at the Ballroom, was December’s One Shot PPV/ Holiday Rush special. Since then, the MLW landscape has altered. Company cornerstones Alex Hammerstone and Jacob Fatu have left. A new World Heavyweight champion in Satoshi Kojima.

Six contests are advertised for Saturday. This includes with the debut of a former WWE wrestler, street fight violence and a technical wrestling clinic. Two big championship matches in the men’s heavyweight and middleweight division will see two huge international names vying for the gold.

But first, in case you missed the last special, here’s  recap of events not linked directly to tonight’s card of the last MLW special:

The Burning Crush Recap

  • Tony Deppen, TJ Crawford, and Griffin McCoy beat Wasted Youth and Nolo Kitano.
  • Zayda won the featherweight’s four-way beating Tiara James, Notorious Mimi and a distracted Delmi Exo. Salina de la Renta on commentary again caught the eye of Exo, costing The God Queen another victory. This led to a post-match fight between Exo and Salina’s. Then after this, Zayda, with her new BBF Brett Ryan Gosling, made it clear again Zayda wants a shot against Salina’s client, the MLW Featherweight Champion Janai Kai.
  • “Filthy” Tom Lawlor defeated Matthew Justice, but again, the fight continued post-match.
  • In a lumberjack and jill match, Brett Ryan Gosling secured the win over Love, Doug due to assistance from Zayda.
  • Coz Max (Satoshi and Okumara) defeated WTF’s Davey Boy Smith Jr and Richard Holliday.
  • Main event, the Balkei Brawl: Mads Krule Krugger left Jacob Fatu decimated and defeated. The Samoan Werewolf took punishment and was uncharacteristically the smaller man in the contest. At times Fatu somersaulted when hit by Krugger’s offense.
  • Post-match, Contra Unit’s Sentai Death Squad members put Fatu in a body bag and carried him away. Fatu is now a free agent, which you can learn more about

AJ Francis (FKA Top Dolla) Debuts

AJ Francis debuted The Burning Crush with a pre-recorded message for the former MLW World Heavyweight Champion, Alex Kane.

Francis at first praised Kane and gave him his flowers for what he has done as a champion and for their community. Comparing them both to Black Panthers, Francis said the difference between them is that’s he’s Huey P., a real leader and man of action, whereas Kane is T’challa, a fictional character. This sets the groundwork for a future feud based as much on a conflict on ideas, representation, and black identity.

Francis makes his debut at Intimidation Game. Fighting under the banner of the World Titan Federation banner, this is a perfect fit given Francis’ prior work in WWE. Plus, in comparison to previous WTF opposition for Kane, Francis is a different of obstacle.

Francis’ opponent has not been named. Opponents across promotions have taken shots at Francis for his infamous top rope botch, do keep in mind Francis has shown himself to be in good in-ring shape and capable of athletic feats. Just look at his GCW match against Joey Janela. Francis can be the bully.

5 Minutes $5,000

Salina de la Renta brings the kick demon, Janai Kai to New York for an exhibition in brutality. If any fighter can last five minutes in the ring with the unstoppable knockout artist and MLW Featherweight Challenge. Kai has had impressive performances against MLW talent and Japanese joshis, including Maki Itoh.

Renta seems convinced there will be no survivors, but will Delmi Exo step up to the challenge to earn herself a title shot? Or the WTF’s Federette Zayda? Will this be a demonstration in destruction or another possible embarrassment for Salina’s Promociones Dorada?

King of the Bros vs. New Japan

Matt Riddle vs. Big Bad Tito

At The Burning Crush, Matt Riddle called out anyone on the New Japan roster to step up, come to Queens and face him. Answering the call is a man who has revenge on the mind following his loss to Riddle in tag team action at NJPW’s Battle in the Valley. TMDK’s Bad Dude Tito.

An impressive powerhouse, Tito chops hard and slams harder. Billed as a former underground fighter, the Panamanian American will offer Riddle a challenge. Tito had an impressive showing on the undercard of the G1 last year. This year, “big bad” is looking to break out and turn heads, even if he has to literally snap opponents’ necks.

Riddle is unlikely to be able to out strike Tito but with his technical prowess and Riddle never lacks confidence in his abilities. Undefeated so far since his return to MLW and riding the momentum of a huge victory in his first match in Japan where Riddle beat Hiroshi Tanahashi for the the NPJW World Television Championship. Riddle is going to want to stack another body on the pile as he perhaps now looks for singles gold in MLW also.

Death Comes to New York’s Streets

New York City Tag Team Street Fight
AKIRA and Jake Crist vs. The Calling (Rickey Shane Page and Sami Callihan)

Jake Crist has joined the side of Raven and AKIRA (along also with the Blue Meanie) in their fight against The Calling. This civil war escalates after the DQ win for Crist at The Burning Crush. Crist showed relentless abandonment and fighting spirit that surprised Rickey Shane Page. A potential upset seemed likely.

Crist’s former friend, Callihan got involved costing Crist the Openweight Championship. The championship has almost been a corrupting force on RSP’s shoulders. It was the loss of the MLW World Tag Team Championship that led to AKIRA’s split.

After the match, Christ hit Cannonball with a flying chair shot to the head to send the 300 pounder through a table! More violence will follow in this street fight contest. Given all the players and their individual creative capacities with weaponry and inflicting pain, this be a frenetic, bloody bout. Violence begets violence.

Things will escalate further Saturday. This match can’t be confined to the ring. It would be interesting to see if it remains in the building! Or if an assortment of New York themed weapons is used.

Given this is no DQ, expect Cannonball and other Calling followers to get involved and Raven and the Blue Meanie to act as equalisers. Given the escalation and War Chamber on the horizon, maybe this will be the only way to stop the bloodletting.

Who will Hit Harder?

Bobby Fish vs. Alex Kane W/ Mr Thomas

This match has a grappling/ MMA-style feel and strategy for both men will be key. Two very capable wrestlers. One returning to the company wants to punch his ticket to a championship shot and prove his capacity. The other the former MLW World Heavyweight Champion looking to rebound and build momentum to a rematch.

Bobby Fish hits different. Fish’s lethal kicks are delivered by the most educated feet in pro wrestling. Kane has not faced someone like Bobby Fish who could equal him in his grounded style. Whether or not Fish can cut down Alex Kane with buzzsaw shots like a giant red wood is debatable. Those kicks might be dangerous, but if Kane gets his hands on Fish’s limbs then the leader of the Bomaye Fight Club will be taking Fish on an all expenses paid trip to Suplex Island.

Yet Kane has shown self-doubt. Opening The Burning Crush, Kane seemed ready to quit MLW because he felt he let the fans down. At least until Mr Thomas came out to remind Kane of who he is and the meaning of Bomaye. Any lingering doubt will be ceased on by Fish who look to exploit it. Even with the slightest crack, Fish can exploit and manipulate this.

Despite the Kane Francis feud foreshadowed, it would be a mistake to think this match was a foregone conclusion. And given AJ Francis will be in the building, there could be a chance of mind games before, during or after the match. If there is a time for an upset victory it is now.

You can read my profile of Alex Kane for Black History Month here.

MLW World Middleweight Championship Match

Rocky Romero W/ Salina de la Renta © vs. Mistico W/ Cesar Duran

The king returns to MLW after a successful debut win against CMLL adversary Averno. On Mistico’s mind is gold. Rocky Romero has held the MLW World Middleweight Championship for over 130 days. Romero has defended it against MLW competitors and CMLL luchadores, but does “Azucar” feel like he can beat Mistico?

Mistico is one of Mexico’s biggest box office draw wrestlers and one of the featured players in CMLL for a reason. Rocky is a modern global trotter, but it was clear at The Burning Crush when this match was made by Salina, Rocky was not initially confident. Given the last time they fought on US soil on AEW’s Rampage, Mistico came out on top. Beyond the championship and professional pride are greater stake.

Cesar Duran returned at Super Fight to Salina del la Renta’s shock. Salina believed she had dealt with El Hefe. Yet his return has already led to a deal between Duran and MLW’s CEO Court Bauer. Duran is bringing more lucha to MLW with Azteca Lucha in May. Already announced on Duran’s books are Mistico, Atlantis and Bárbaro Cavernario . The latter previously wrestled for Salina’s Promociones Dorado. This match is as much about territory as it is gold.

Whichever man walks away with the championship gives their promoter power. The result will impact the future of Azteca Lucha. Which lucha promoter will come out on top?   

MLW World Heavyweight Championship Match

 Satoshi Kojima © vs. Minoru Suzuki

Two Japanese legends known for their hard-hitting styles clash bringing a taste of Korakuen Hall action to New York. Chops. Lariats. Suplexs. Piledrivers. Will both men make it out of this match alive? I am serious. Definitively, neither man can leave Saturday in one piece, that’s guaranteed.

The first recognised MLW World Heavyweight Champion returned last year and did the unimaginable. Kojima became the first two-time MLW World Heavyweight Champion.

Like a Purorseu Terry Funk, Kojima secured victory and looks to make his first defence on Saturday. In his way is another Japanese wrestling legend. Known lovingly as the murder grandpa, Minoru Suzuki is one of the most respected and feared fighters in the world. Despite age, he is still one of the most dangerous.

The Pancrase co-founder last competed for MLW at Slaughterhouse last year where he was able to beat former MLW World Champion, Jacob Fatu. Since then, Suzuki has not slowed down and continues to wrestle anyone and everywhere.

The iron is still sharp, as countless North American opponents, as Adam Copeland learned recently. There will be respect, but I doubt there will be no mercy until the match finishes.

Kojima will not relent. He is no easy target. Terry Funk reference aside, physically Kojima is still a beast. And what Kojima might lack in terms of physicality (which is not much), is more than compensated for in fighting spirit.

The leader of bread club might be obsessed with bread, but his resolve and will to win has lead him to put down men who are in their prime. The cozy lariat has put down younger men in their prime in MLW from Alex Kane to Richard Holliday to Sami Callihan and “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. Why should Suzuki be any different?

More From LWOS Pro Wrestling

Header photo – MLW – Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. MLW FUSION airs every Thursday on YouTube at 8 PM EST and every Saturday on beIN SPORTS at 10 PM EST. 


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