Match Point is an ongoing series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, first-time matchups, or hotly anticipated rematches. This edition will focus on the third meeting between Alex Hammerstone and Jacob Fatu. 

Each promotion has an era-defining trilogy. With WCW, fans think of Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat. Ring of Honour fans think of CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe. New Japan fans think Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada. Some eras mark the end of growth periods, like the final Wrestlemania match between The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. A potential era-defining trilogy for Major League Wrestling (MLW) is just around the corner.

At the Melrose Ballroom in New York, Alex Hammerstone takes on Jacob Fatu in a match being taped for a future episode of Fusion. Two of the independent scenes most dynamic heavyweights will clash for a third time. The history behind their first two bouts, each fighter’s character arc mixes modern dynamic heavyweight action with traditional wrestling storytelling.

Alex Hammerstone vs. Jacob Fatu III: What to Know Before the Match

MLW’s Role 

Before the Pandemic, MLW had gained notoriety for being a promotion to watch. Hybrid wrestling matches showcased up-and-coming wrestlers who were cutting their teeth before going to WWE and later AEW. The likes of Swerve Strickland, Matt Riddle, Darby Allin, Karrion Kross, and MJF gained attention in MLW.

The promotion has made its World Heavyweight Championship feel prestigious. Champions have been given long reigns; title matches are promoted like big boxing fights and those wrestlers who hold the strap exude an old-school/MMA style presence that makes them seem believable credible ass-kickers, and wins and losses carry consequences. Even when top wrestlers lose, MLW often books satisfyingly clever finishes that fit the characters and context.

This booking, alongside the sheer talents of Alex Hammerstone and Jacob Fatu, has allowed their first two matches to be must-watch affairs.

The Fight to Hold Up the Company 

The first two World Heavyweight Championship matches between Alex Hammerstone and Jacob Fatu had more to them than title implications. These bouts felt like a contest between two Atlas’ competing to hold the company on their shoulders. With other MLW mainstays, like Richard Holliday and Myron Reed, Fatu and Hammerstone were signed to exclusive MLW contracts in 2020. Differently, Fatu and Hammerstone became the two company leaders during the Pandemic. Fatu led MLW into the Pandemic and Hammerstone took the company through to the tail end of COVID, before dropping the championship to Alex Kane.

Hail Contra! Hail Fatu!

Immediately upon debuting, Jacob Fatu was made a championship challenger. Fatu attacked then MLW World Heavyweight Champion, “Filthy” Tom Lawlor, who the “Samoan werewolf” would take the belt from in July. Aligned with the terrorist-inspired faction, Contra Unit, Fatu was positioned as an unstoppable force who headlined MLW’s first pay-per-view, Saturday Night SuperFight.

In a clever piece of storytelling, Contra Unit physically hijacked MLW and shut the company down as the Pandemic restrictions began. When the company returned to broadcasting, the MLW National Openweight Champion, Alex Hammerstone was pegged as the man to beat Fatu.

Hammer Ready to Fall

The seeds of the feud were planted in the first episode of Fusion. Hammerstone was presented as the main instigator and leader in freeing MLW from the Contra Unit’s occupation. Hammerstone became the number one contender, but he had to get through the diversion of Contra’s newest recruit and big powerhouse, Mads Krüger.

During this time Hammerstone and Fatu were built as the all-conquering hero and indestructible villain. Hammerstone’s charisma helped turn him into a fan-favourite and Fatu’s vicious and violent presence made him a killer. Overcoming the odds of Contra and then winning MLW’s Battle Riot, MLW’s weapons-laden Royal Rumble match, Hammerstone got his title opportunity.

In classic MLW style, the bout became a title vs. title affair. Everything is on the line. The future of MLW was to be decided. At the third Fightland, in a forty-five-minute brawl, Hammerstone overcame the odds to win the MLW World Championship. In the aftermath, Jacob Fatu turned his back on the Contra Unit after War Chamber. Mirroring Hammerstone, Fatu began feuding with former stable mate, Mads Krüger. Through vignettes that exposed Fatu’s Samoan cool and various weapon-filled brawls against the giant Krüger, Fatu became a fan favorite the fans had wanted him to be.

The Biggest Rematch in MLW History: Alex Hammerstone vs Jacob Fatu III

Symmetry occurred at the next Battle Riot. Fatu outlasted thirty-nine other fighters to get the win and a championship opportunity, just as Hammerstone had the prior year. Fatu now had the chance to challenge Hammerstone to regain the heavyweight title from the man who defeated him.

At MLW Underground, the story was more than just a rematch for the world championship. Fatu was reinvented, his own man with his family behind him. Hammerstone alluded to how he knew this rematch would eventually come. Commentary foreshadowed the story: Hammerstone beat Fatu, but not with his finisher, The Nightmare Pendulum. Could the champion beat his greatest foe with his most effective move?

Like the first match, it was a physical. The crowd dynamic had shifted; Philly backed the challenger and booed the champion. Hammerstone, came out guns blazing. He hit Fatu with everything. Yet neither man could get a breakthrough until Fatu grabbed a steel chair. The referee allowed the violence to escalate, but Hammerstone ripped away the chair. Hammerstone was too slow to hit Fatu, who superkicked him. Fatu went to the top rope for the moonsault, but Hammerstone got his knees up. Then set up and hit it. The Nightmare Pendulum. One. Two. Kick out! Fatu became the first man to kick out of the manoeuvre in MLW.

In the end, the champion retained after sending Fatu head-first with a release German suplex through a board. A second Nightmare Pendulum. One. Two. Three. Hammerstone retained but Fatu looked strong in defeat having kicked out of one of the most protected moves in MLW. Fatu showed the champion respect before the lights went out and the next The Calling attacked.

Third Time, But What’s at Stake for Hammerstone and Fatu?  

At present, there is no context for this third installment. There is no championship on the line. Fatu did not regain the championship from Alex Kane at Fightland. Hammerstone returned as the heel, joining with World Titan Federation. There are no stakes yet, but this is MLW. This third match won’t be for the hell of it.

During the taping and the subsequent weeks of Fusion, expect the reasoning for this third chapter to be made clear. Their first two encounters were treated as seismic events. Why would the third be treated as lesser? In theory, both men are key to MLW’s future, until their contracts are up in 2025. Although, that’s debatable.

In the recent work shoot with Hammerstone’s MLW contract, some sources have speculated whether Hammerstone could be seeking to leave as early as the start of next year. If this is the case, could this be Hammerstone’s last match in MLW?  Or, if this is speculation, will this match play an important role in the aftermath of One Shot’s World Heavyweight Championship landscape?

If Kane retains, could going 3-0 over Fatu give Hammerstone the rematch he wants against Kane? Or if Matt Cardona wins, will Hammerstone become the Mads Krüger obstacle Fatu has to overcome to become the first and only two-time MLW World Heavyweight Champion? Will other stakes be revealed?

If you would like to learn more about Alex Hammerstone, check out the article: Alex Hammerstone: Top Prospect. If you would like to learn more about Jacob Fatu, check out the article: Jacob Fatu: Most Promising Wrestler

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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