There's been a subtle trend in wrestling in recent years where the American in-ring style has moved towards more grappling and mat-based action. That's something that Tom Lawlor specializes in as he has competed in MMA for over a decade.
Lawlor was asked by Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman what he thought about pro wrestling moving that direction when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast.
"I think it's kind of a normal continuation of the ebbs and flows of how the business goes. If you look at shoot-style wrestling, it's come in and out of vogue in the Japanese world for a while," stated Lawlor. "We've had more and more people exposed to Japanese wrestling and we try to bring that style back to the USA. It was inevitable that the shoot-style would grasp a hold of some of the fans."
He noted that a lot of wrestling fans don't like MMA and MMA fans don't like wrestling. There is some crossover but there wasn't an avenue over the last 10-20 years for a more shoot styled pro wrestling presentation.
"Now that we've gone so far in one direction, much like what happens many times, it's only natural to be pulled back in the opposite direction. I don't think there's anything wrong with high spot-style wrestling but I think there's a place for that and there's a place for shoot-style wrestling. Up until a few years ago I don't think there was much of a place for it and I don't think the fans appreciated it as much as they do now. Quite frankly, I'm f***ing happy to see it," admitted Lawlor.
Along those lines, MLW presented a Bloodsport-styled match between Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Simon Gotch in Dallas earlier this year. Lawlor talked about these kinds of matches being necessary without being over the top.
"The thing about these kinds of matches is that – it is a different stipulation – but it's not convoluted. It's not an 'Eye for Eye Match' that's so out-of-this-world ridiculous that it's gonna take someone out of it," said Lawlor. "This would be a legitimate way if two people hated each other and you can't settle it in a pro wrestling contest with pinfalls.
"What's more satisfying: pinning someone for three seconds or knocking them out and making them submit? It's knocking them out or making them submit. As a stipulation to insert into a feud, it's the perfect setting for the guys to work this style. I think that's a great way to use it and we saw that with Davey Boy and Gotch."
"I didn't watch it. I know they did it and it's kinda similar to a Lion's Den from what I caught. But I didn't catch it," said Lawlor. "With the pandemic to be honest, I haven't been watching much wrestling. I can watch matches but to sit there for a 2-3 hour show during this time is not happening for me.
"There's a number of matches that happen in that style throughout the world. The biggest names that have done it on a larger scale have been Riddle and Thatcher. But myself, Dom Garrini and Erick Stevens, we're all in a hotel room with Team Filthy and hanging out and watching Daisuke Ikeda and Yuki Ishikawa who are 50-year-old guys with battle scars have a killer fight in WXw this past year. There's still guys out there throughout the world working this style in front of fans – big crowds, small crowds and crowds that really enjoy it. Riddle and Thatcher are phenomenal wrestlers and there's probably 50 guys in that same mold for the fans out there who enjoy that kind of style. If they haven't seen some of the other shoot-style wrestlers out there, I think they'll really enjoy it."
Tom Lawlor can be seen every week as part of MLW Fusion on BeIN Sports and DAZN. For more information please visit www.MLW.com. Tom's full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.