MFPW "Step Into The Arena": Vetter's review of the show that served as the climax of the AppleTV+ Monster Factory series
August 30, 2023
CategoriesNEWS TICKER Other TV Reviews TV REVIEWS
By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
We are looking for reports on all WWE, AEW, NXT, Impact Wrestling, MLW, ROH, GCW, and other notable live events. If you attend a show, you are encouraged to send a report or even basic results to [email protected]
Fight Life “With the Quickness”Replay available via YouTube.comJune 30, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena
Apple+ released a six-part documentary this spring about the New Jersey-based Monster Factory wrestling training school. It specifically followed head trainer Danny Cage and students Goldy, Bobby Buffett, Notorious Mimi, Gabby Ortiz and Twitch. The show appears to be filmed from late fall 2021 (about when Mimi got signed by WWE) and built to the promotion’s debut show at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia in June 2022. I STRONGLY recommend checking out the show if you have Apple+. I found the students relatable and likable, and you can’t help but cheer for them all to break out, succeed, and become stars. I hurt for Notorious Mimi, who vanished early in the show for the NXT training school, knowing that she would have just a handful of TV matches as “Sloane Jacobs” before she was cut, and she’s now back on the indies. Also, Goldy has had three AEW Elevation matches and just appeared on one of the NJPW shows last the weekend.
So, this isn’t a review of the series; there are plenty of reviews out there. Instead, this is a review of “Step into the Arena,” the June 30, 2022, show that was the climax of the docu-series. This wrestling event is available for free on youtube.com. As you can tell, a number of well-known Monster Factory graduates returned to appear on this special show.
We know from watching the docu-series that Kevin Kelly is there to call the action and D’Lo Brown is in the crowd. There is a lot of eyeballs on these students, and for many, a 2300 Arena crowd is probably the largest they’ve been in front of before. I don’t pretend to know the capacity of the 2300 Arena, but it appears packed. (NOTE: before match #11, Kevin Kelly said it’s a sellout.)
* Like in the docu-series, the show opened with Twitch singing the National Anthem. Kevin Kelly and Puran Burgandy on commentary. 1. Steve Maclin defeated Beer City Bruiser at 6:08. BCB jawed at Kelly. Kelly talked about how Maclin graduated from the Monster Factory and went to NXT, before heading to Impact Wrestling. Maclin is the face; he clotheslined BCB to the floor, then he dove through the ropes at 1:30. When is the last time you saw Maclin do a dive like that? They brawled on the floor. In the ring, BCB beat Steve down with some basic moves. Maclin hit an impressive back suplex for the pin. An acceptable match for the time given, and intriguing to see Maclin in a babyface role.
* Danny Cage came to the ring and hugged Maclin. Maclin left, but two Black men with Kelly on their gear came to the ring. They want a match! Out came… Josh Woods! Based on Kevin Kellly’s reaction, he was not announced in advance. 2. Josh Woods (w/Danny Cage) defeated Westfield Kelly (w/Grayson Kelly) at 5:18. Westfield has a bit of a height advantage and he has a good physique; I’ll compare him to Kenny King. Woods tossed Westfield to the floor. Back in the ring, Woods hit a Chaos Theory rolling German Suplex for the pin. Fine but too short. Grayson attacked Danny after the match, drawing loud boos! 3. Miranda Vionette defeated Nevaeh Madonna at 4:28. Miranda is an arrogant heel; my first time seeing her. Madonna has black hair with some purple streaks and she has a fighting background. Miranda yanked Nevaeh to the mat by her hair and was loudly booed, and she hit a running knee to the jaw for a nearfall at 2:30. She hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for the pin. Definitely some newer students but it was fine. 4. Jafar defeated Mantequilla, Delirious, Anthony Bennett, Marvelous, and Daniel Alexander in a six-way to retain a medallion at 9:55. Jafar is holding the medallion as we begin. I’ve seen the masked Mantequilla on several House of Glory shows from New York, and he’s pretty good. Bennett is somewhere between Montez Ford and Swerve Strickland. Marvelous is similar to a shorter RUSH. Alexander is Black and he has stuffed toys on his hands and he danced to the ring; I’m not sure what his gimmick is. Is he crazy and deranged? I love Delirious; been watching him since 2003 when he and Matt Sydal first came to MN (a 12-hour drive from St. Louis!) Delirious of course went crazy at the bell and he beat up on Jafar; I bet he’s had more matches than these other five combined.
Montequilla and Alexander traded quick offense. Bennett hit a dive to the floor on Delirious. Jafar hit a tombstone piledriver on Alexander. Delirious hit his leaping clothesline, then his series of Hogan legdrops at 5:00. We had stereo superplexes, then stereo frogsplashes, as the energy is pretty good here. Montequilla hit a superkick on Marvelous at 7:30, then a Code Red for a nearfall, but Delirious stopped the ref from making the three-count. Delirious hit a stunner move for a nearfall. Bennett hit a Crucifix Driver, then a Sliced Bread, on Delirious. Alexander hit a flip dive to the floor on everyone. In the ring, Alexander hit a 450 Splash for a believable nearfall. However, Jafar hit a Death Valley Driver into the corner to pin Alexander. Good scramble. 5. Xander Alexander and “South Philly’s Finest” Jimmy Konway and Luca Brazzi (w/Missy Sampson) defeated “World Renowned” Nick Battee, Christian Rocco, and Brian Morris (w/Jon Alba). Missy Sampson has a smaller role in the Monster Factory docu-series. SPF are overly-stereotypical goons with long trench coats and bats, and they are over as babyfaces. The World Renowned guys all wore basic black trunks, as if they are Young Lions, and they were beat up on early and often. They started to beat up one of the SPF guys in their corner. Xander (a tall Black man) made the hot tag at 7:00 and he beat up the heels; he reminds me of Angelo Dawkins but thinner. The babyfaces hit a trio suplex spot, drawing a pop. SPF did the Dudleys’ “Wassup” headbutt to the groin spot. Xander hit a Bulldog Powerslam. An SPF put an opponent in a Sharpshooter, and he tapped out. I didn’t really know who was who in this match (I had to get correct spellings later); the crowd was into this action. Missy slapped Jon Alba after the match and hit a clothesline on him.
* Monster Factory graduate D’Lo Brown was introduced and he joined Kevin Kelly on commentary. They explained rules for a Royal Rumble where multiple people come in, at different intervals; it sounds a bit too convoluted for my tastes. It is WWE-style rules of throwing people over the top rope to the floor. 6. Ruby (the referee!) O’Connor won a 3-2-1 Royal Rumble at 36:18. Hyena Hex is No. 1. MSG is No. 2 (He recently teamed with his brother LSG on an ROH taping.) XVX is No. 3. D’Lo said, “I dare you to name a school that has sent more people to WWE.” Two guys walked to the ring and bad-mouthed Philadelphia, the local sports teams, and ECW. So, the match finally began with the five in the ring. Loverboy Larry Jax and Valorie Vermin and Samuel Thompson are entrants 6-7-8. Vermin and Thompson beat someone up, then they passionately kissed, drawing the required “get a room!” line. Savannah Rose and Kevin Matthews jumped in the ring; we don’t have names appearing on screen so it’s hard to know who they all are. Savannah Rose (think Piper Niven in size) eliminated KM!
Grayson Kelly entered at 4:00; the crowd is quiet as they don’t know anyone. Carter Scott got in the ring, among others. “The Headbangers” Mosh and Thrasher came out together at 7:00, bringing the crowd alive; they flipped Valerie Vermin high in the sky and she slammed down hard to the mat. The Headbangers hit the Stage Dive legdrop on Samuel Thompson, then they tossed them both. TK Lewis came to the ring; he removed a shirt and he is flabby with zero muscle mass. Black Jeez entered at 10:30. “I thought he was doing time!” Kelly said. Royal Money and Cheeseburger joined the fray. We’ve had several eliminations but I’m counting 11 men and 1 woman. D’Lo left commentary to help the Headbangers beat up a kid with a loud chop.
We have more guys coming out, Peter Boylin and Mark Raspen. (Sorry, guessing on spellings here.) We see Savannah Rose beating up on the chubby TK Lewis. Danny Cage came out at 14:00 to a huge pop. He hit the Thesz Press and a series of punches on Grayson Kelly, doing his best Steve Austin performance, with D’Lo and Kevin Kelly playing along. However, Danny got tossed almost immediately! Brian Rosario, Colton Charles and Xander hit the ring. Savannah Rose was tossed. (I feelt bad that these guys aren’t even getting their own entrances!) Kevin Kelly said we are back up to 16 in the ring. Rico De La Vega hit the ring at 19:00. This match has devolved a bit, but we have at least 15 guys still in the ring. The Blue Meanie and an aging Gary Wolfe entered at 23:00 to a nice pop. We began having some rapid-fire eliminations. Both Headbangers were tossed.
We still have more guys coming in, in groups of 1, 3 or 5, so we are right back up to more than dozen guys. I only know Cheesburger and Blue Meanie of those still in. A female referee named Ruby hit the ring in orange wrestling gear. Grayson Kelly immediately chopped her at 31:30, and she rolled to the floor. “You are out of the will!” Kevin Kelly shouted. (They’ve had fun all night with the notion that hte white Kevin Kelly is related to the Black twin Kelly brothers.) They hit a low blow on Blue Meanie and tossed him. It is down to Cheeseburger, Tim Huges and Grayson Kelly at 34:00, with the two heels beating up Cheeseburger. Cheesburger hit his Shotei palmstrike to eliminate Tim Hughes. It goes without saying that Grayson Kelly is taller with more muscle mass than Cheeseburger. Grayson hit a Mafia Kick to eliminate Cheeseburger. Grayson celebrated as if he has won. However, Ruby snuck up behind him and pushed him off the corner and out of the ring to win the match! Way too long but it gave a lot of green kids an opportunity on this showcase event. 7. Gabby Ortiz defeated Mandy Leon at 5:12. If you watched the docu-series, you know that Leon was late arriving and Ortiz was unable to go over the match with her in advance, and it was driving Gabby nuts. Basic mat reversals early on. Mandy hit a snap suplex at 2:30 for a nearfall. They got up and Gabby hit some forearm shots and a Rude Awakening standing neckbreaker for a nearfall. Gabby hit an X-Factor faceplant for the pin. Just so-so match; Gabby tugged at her homemade outfit the entire match, which was really distracting, either pulling the bottom away from her butt or pulling the top up so she wouldn’t fall out. 8. “The Unstable” Kodiak and Michelle defeated “The Righteous” Vincent and Bateman (w/ Vita VonStarr) at 5:31. Michelle has scary facepaint and wrestles barefoot. Kodiak has the body hair of A-Train and George Steele, and he’s a bit flabby. Michelle started with Vincent. The Righteous beat up Kodiak. Kodiak hit a backbody drop and a Boss Man Sideslam for the pin. Wow this was really bad. I don’t know if Kodiak got hurt or was just really gassed, but he was having trouble even staying on his feet. 9. Deonna Purrazzo defeated Clara Carreras at 7:14. Ciara wore a colorful outfit and she’s shorter than Deonna. Purrazzo took control early and worked the left arm. Clara hit a crossbody block for a nearfall at 4:00. Deonna hit a chop that Clara really sold. Clara hit a rolling cannoball into the corner, then a second-rope moonsault for a nearfall at 6:00. Deonna applied the Fujiwara Armbar, switched to a Rings of Saturn, and Clara tapped out. Fine for the time given. 10. Max Sterling defeated Mike Zee to win the MFPW Arena Championship at 4:32. The loser will be the winner’s “personal assistant.” Sterling looks like a chimney sweeper from Mary Poppins. Zee is popular and wore blue trunks; he looks a bit like Trey Miguel. Sterling took control earlier; he has a significant height and overall size advantage. Sterling hit a low blow mule kick and a slam for the pin. Underwhelming. Sterling sold well his shock and excitement that he won, and that Zee will be his servant. 11. “The Golden Era” Brett Waters and Shawn Vanore (w/Goldy) defeated “The Rottweilers” Homicide and Ricky Reyes at 9:17. I thought Reyes was retired; maybe that happened sometime in the months after this match took place. The Golden Era are the cocky, rich jerks and were profiled in the Monster Factory docu-series.Waters has longer hair; Vanore’s hair is shaved on the side of his head. Homicide beat up on Waters early on. Vanore got pulled off the ring apron, allowing the Rottweilers to keep beating down Waters. Homicide bodyslammed Waters on a thin padding on the floor, then he hit a suplex onto the concrete floor at 4:00.
Vanore finally made the hot tag at 6:00 and he hit a handspring-back-stunner. Homicide and Reyes quickly began working over Vanore, and were right back in control. Reyes hit a superkick. Vanore missed a Swanton Bomb. Reyes got a rolllup for a nearfall; Vanore reversed the rollup and got the fluke pin. Solid. The crowd was really happy to see the Golden Era win. 12. “Twitch” Lucas DiSangro defeated Crowbar for the MFPW Supersonic Championship at 11:21. As shown in the docu-series, Twitch sang his way to the ring, then cut a promo. (He chose the ‘Twitch’ nickname because he has Tourette Syndrome, which causes him to shake/twitch/have tics uncontrollably, more often when he’s nervous. I remember when I was young, the MN Twins had an outfielder with Tourette Syndrome.) (The on-screen graphic embarrassingly says ‘Luis’ not Lucas. How on earth did that happen, especially as they had to know he was being featured in the docu-series?) Crowbar attacked before the bell and hit a Northern Lights Suplex. Kely and the other commentator talked about Twitch’s Tourette Syndrome. The crowd is a bit quiet; not these guys fault, but this show is really long.
Crowbar grounded Twitch and stayed in control. He choked Twitch in the ropes. Twitch fired back with a series of European Uppercuts at 6:00 and he applied a sleeper. Twitch hit a superkick, sending Crowbar rolling to the floor. They brawled on the floor. Back in the ring, Twitch hit the Acid Bomb faceplant (Jordan Oliver has been doing this of late.) He hit a flying forearm in the corner and a running knee for a nearfall at 9:30. Crowbar hit a Death Valley Driver for a believable nearfall. Crowbar hit a series of forearms in the corner and repeatedly stomped him. Twitch hit a Helluva Kick, then a (soft) clothesline to the back of the head for the pin. Decent match. If the announcers hadn’t told us about his Tourette Syndrome diagnois (and if I hadn’t seen the series), I wouldn’t have known by watching this. 13. Bobby Buffet defeated Travis Jacobs, Goldy, and LSG in a four-way for the MFPW Heavyweight Championship.. Jacobs wore a singlet and showed some confidence/arrogance as he strolled to the ring. Goldy has a bright future; he has the right look. It feels like I’ve been watching LSG compete in ROH for a decade so I don’t know if you can really call him a student anymore; he got decent heel heat from this crowd. Bobby Buffet is a heavyset Black man, maybe 325-350 pounds, and he carried his title belt and a trophy cup; he’s been champion 264 days, and he’s the beloved babyface here. They took turns playing to the crowd before anyone locked up at 2:00. Jacobs and Goldy worked together to hit a back suplex on Buffet. Kevin Kelly said “there is a host of scouts looking at Goldy right now.”
Buffet hit a rolling cannonball off the ring apron onto everyone on the floor at 5:00. In the ring, Bobby hit a crossbody block on LSG for a nearfall, but Goldy made the save. Goldy hit a double dropkick at 7:30. LSG hit a swinging neckbreaker on Goldy for a nearfall. LSG hit a double blockbuster at 11:30. Goldy hit a Swanton Bomb for a nearfall, and everyone was down. Goldy hit a LIonsault Press and nearly came down on his head. Bobby charged at Goldy, but Goldy countered with a kneestrike for a believable nearfall at 13:00. LSG hit a second-rope elbow drop for a nearfall. Buffet hit a powerslam on LSG, then a uranage on Jacobs, then a huge backbody drop on Goldy.
Buffet jumps and stomps, causing an ‘earthquake’ with the other three men falling to the mat. Buffet hit rolling cannonballs on each of them, then a running splash onto all three for a nearfall at 17:00. (Kelly just said Buffet is 335 pounds so I was in the ballpark.) Jacobs hit a neckbreaker over his knee on Goldy, then an Exploder Suplex on LSG. Jacobs slammed Goldy onto LSG and he celebrated. However, Bobby got to his feet and he brawled with Jacobs. Jacobs hit a suplex at 19:30, then he hit a flip dive to the floor on all three opponents. In the ring, Jacobs hit a second-rope crossbody block on Buffet for a nearfall. They did a tower spot, with Goldy on top and crashing hard to the mat. LSG hit a top-rope Phoenix Splash, and everyone was down at 22:30.
Jacobs hit a pumphandle faceplant on LSG. Buffet hit a spear on Jacobs. Goldy hit a springboard kneestrike on Buffet. Goldy tried to put Buffet on his back; he got him up and hit a Death Valley Driver-style drop over his knee for a believable nearfall. The crowd popped for the move and the kickout. Buffet put Goldy on his shoulders and nailed a Burning Hammer to score the pin. A good match; perhaps it could have been trimmed a bit, but I enjoyed it. Again, with Buffet and Goldy as prominent characters in the docu-series, I couldn’t help but cheer for them both.
Final Thoughts: This is a very long show, coming in at 3 hours, 45 minutes, and I wouldn’t blame you if you skip around. The awkward, clunky Royal Rumble is certainly working skipping. Again, go watch the documentary on Apple+. The six episodes are about an hour each, then come back and check this out on YouTube. At least watch the matches with Twitch, Gabby Ortiz, Bobby Buffett and Goldy.
We don’t really know when Mandy Leon showed up and if she and Gabby had any time to talk through their match. I do feel bad for Gabby though… as this was clearly not the level, the quality, of a match she wanted to have that day. And I think if they had been been able to go over their stuff in advance, they could have had a better match than this one here. Compare it to the Twitch-Crowbar match, where in the docu-series we got to see them do some planning, and the match was clearly better for it. I want to add that if Kelly was aware of the docu-series while he was calling the show, he never talked about it on commentary. (He was shown several times in the series, but maybe they taped that later?)