The Motor City Machine Guns was a professional wrestling tag team consisting of Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin. The team has worked in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) and Ring of Honor (ROH). The team name, which has been variably Motor and Murder City, is a play on the nickname of Detroit, the hometown of both Shelley and Sabin.
Shelley and Sabin first started teaming in Pro Wrestling ZERO1-MAX in 2006. On August 25 they took the ZERO-1 MAX International Lightweight Tag Team Championship from Minoru Fujita and Ikuto Hidaka, holding them for almost two years before dropping them back to Fujita and his new partner Takuya Sugawara. After returning Stateside, the pair had short runs in the independent promotions Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Ring of Honor under the names Motor City Machine Guns and Murder City Machine Guns respectively until their main employer, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) requested their wrestlers stop taking bookings with certain independent companies.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
Debut and feud with Team 3D (2007–2008)
It was not until April 2007 that the team debuted in TNA, where hence they had been singles X Division wrestlers. After showing brief teamwork while wrestling as opponents in an Xscape match at the annual Lockdown pay-per-view they became regulars in the tag team division, first using the Murder City name, before it was changed to Motor City. On an episode of TNA Today Shelley implied that this was against the team's wishes, saying that "Murder City" was the real name, and "Motor City" was the PG version. After being together for a few weeks in TNA, Kevin Nash—who already had a history with both men, and was also a Detroit native—was brought in as a manager, ending his previous alliances with Jay Lethal and Sonjay Dutt in the process, though his association with the group was short lived.
The team continued to work in independent promotions in parallel with their work in TNA, getting a run with the Illinois–based All American Wrestling's Tag Team Championship between September 2007 and January 2008. In October 2007 at Bound for Glory the team interfered in a tables match between Team 3D (Brothers Ray and Devon) and The Steiner Brothers (Scott and Rick), trying to prevent Team 3D from cheating and effectively helping the Steiners win the match. The following month at Genesis the Motor City Machine Guns surprised Team 3D and defeated them in a tag team match. Later in the event Ray and Devon, embarrassed by their loss, attacked the X Division Champion Jay Lethal and his number one contender Sonjay Dutt after their match and declared a war on the X Division as a whole, demanding that the entire X Division and all the members therein be disbanded and removed from TNA. The entire feud focused mainly upon Team 3D (including a new member in Johnny Devine, who was dubbed "Brother Devine") against the Machine Guns and Jay Lethal.
During the feud, Team 3D awarded the stolen X Division Championship to Devine, The two teams faced off in an Ultimate X match for the title at Final Resolution. Prior to the pay-per-view, it was claimed that Ray and Devon were too heavy to support themselves on the cables, so they "broke" Sabin and Shelley's fingers, making them unable to climb. Team 3D won this match by using a ladder to get Devon up to the title belt (which broke the "unwritten rule" of the match). At Against All Odds, Sabin, Shelley, and Lethal won a Street Fight with the existence of the X Division as a whole (excluding Devine) on the line. Sabin and Shelley were beaten off early in the match, essentially making it a handicap match of Team 3D against Lethal. As agreed in the pre–match stipulations, the win resulted in Lethal being given back the X Division title. And the members of Team 3D would not be allowed to compete in TNA as long as any member was a super heavyweight. Failure to meet the weight limit would result (as it frequently did) in one or more members of the team being disqualified. The stipulation also applied to Devine, although he did not have a televised match when it as in effect.
They were members of Team TNA alongside Kaz and Curry Man in the 2008 edition of the TNA World X Cup, but lost to Team Mexico at Victory Road. They then slipped into the role of tweeners, showing disrespect to Christian Cage, A.J. Styles, Consequences Creed, B.G. James and The Latin American Xchange however still being cheered heavily by the fans and showing respect for the fans.
Various storylines (2008–2010)
On the October 30 episode of Impact!, The Machine Guns along with A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, Jay Lethal, Consequences Creed, Petey Williams, Eric Young and ODB formed a faction of younger wrestlers called The TNA Front Line to oppose The Main Event Mafia.
At Turning Point, Shelley and Sabin received a shot at the TNA World Tag Team Championship, but were defeated by the champions Beer Money, Inc. (Robert Roode and James Storm), after their manager Jacqueline interfered in the match. Earlier in the evening they disrespected Mick Foley as he was addressing the TNA originals backstage. Despite this and other showings of disrespect, they remained fan favorites and a part of the team opposing the Main Event Mafia. However, they would turn heel months later attacking Lethal Consequences (Jay Lethal and Consequences Creed) after losing a tag team match to them. As part of their gimmick they were now described as "TNA Frontline members in name only". At Final Resolution, the Guns were attacked by the debuting Suicide
At Genesis, Shelley defeated Sabin in the finals of a tournament to become the new TNA X Division Champion. At Destination X, Shelley lost his X Division title to Suicide in an Ultimate X match that also involved Consequences Creed, Jay Lethal and Chris Sabin. The Guns and Lethal Consequences spent the next few months unsuccessfully trying to unmask Suicide, initially also claiming that he is Daniels.
On the August 6 episode of Impact!, Shelley and Sabin both turned face once again aligning themselves with Daniels against World Elite when an all out brawl broke out in the Impact! Zone. In September Shelley and Sabin began appearing as occasional commentators alongside Mike Tenay and Taz on Impact! broadcasts. At Bound for Glory the duo won the pre–show match against Lethal Consequences, and immediately afterwards competed in the Ultimate X match for the X Division Championship which was won by champion Amazing Red. On the following episode of Impact!, they won a tag team Ultimate X match against Lethal Consequences when Sabin retrieved the X, to become #1 contenders for the TNA World Tag Team Championships and challenged the champions British Invasion (Doug Williams and Brutus Magnus) at Turning Point. On the November 12 episode of Impact! Beer Money, Inc. defeated the British Invasion in a non–title match to join the Motor City Machine Guns in the Tag Team Title match at Turning Point. At the pay-per-view The British Invasion defeated Shelley and Sabin and Beer Money, Inc. in a three–way match to retain the TNA Tag Team Titles. The following month at Final Resolution the British Invasion defeated Shelley and Sabin to once again retain their titles. At Destination X the Machine Guns defeated Generation Me (Jeremy Buck and Max Buck) in an Ultimate X match to earn another shot at the TNA World Tag Team Championship. Shelley and Sabin received their title shot on the April 12 episode of Impact!, but were defeated by World Tag Team Champion Matt Morgan and Amazing Red, who replaced the injured Hernandez in the match.
World Tag Team Championship reign (2010–2011)
The following month at Sacrifice the Motor City Machine Guns defeated Beer Money, Inc. and Team 3D in a three–way match to earn another shot at the Tag Team Championship. On July 11 at Victory Road the Motor City Machine Guns defeated Beer Money, Inc. to win the vacant TNA World Tag Team Championship for the first time. After Victory Road the Motor City Machine Guns entered a Best of Five Series with Beer Money, Inc., contested for the TNA World Tag Team Championship. Beer Money won the first two matches, a ladder match and a Street Fight, after knocking their opponents out with beer bottles. However, Shelley and Sabin came back to win the two following matches, a steel cage match and an Ultimate X match, to even the score to 2–2 and set up a deciding match for the August 12 episode of Impact!. On the August 12 episode of Impact! the Motor City Machine Guns defeated Beer Money, Inc. in a Two Out of Three Falls match to win the Best of Five Series and retain the TNA World Tag Team Championship. The following month at No Surrender, the Motor City Machine Guns retained their titles in a match against Generation Me. After the match Generation Me turned heel by attacking the Machine Guns and injuring Shelley. On the following episode of Impact! Generation Me laid claim to the TNA World Tag Team Championship, claiming that the champions wouldn't be able to defend them for 30 days, due to Shelley's injury, before stealing Sabin's title belt. Shelley would however make his return two weeks later and promised Generation Me a rematch for the World Tag Team Championship at Bound for Glory. At the pay–per–view the Motor City Machine Guns defeated Generation Me to retain the TNA World Tag Team Championship. Also at Bound for Glory, Team 3D announced their retirement from professional wrestling, but requested one final match against the Motor City Machine Guns, whom they called the best tag team in wrestling. The Motor City Machine Guns accepted and the match took place on November 7, 2010, at Turning Point 2010, where they defeated Team 3D to retain the TNA World Tag Team Championship. After Jeremy Buck pinned Sabin in an eight-person tag team match, where the Motor City Machine Guns teamed with Jay Lethal and Velvet Sky and Generation Me with Robbie E and Cookie, on the November 18 episode of Impact!, the Motor City Machine Guns challenged Generation Me to an Empty Arena match. The match took place later that same night on Reaction with the Motor City Machine Guns coming out victorious. On December 5 at Final Resolution the Motor City Machine Guns defeated Generation Me in a Full Metal Mayhem match to retain the World Tag Team Championship. The following month at Genesis the Motor City Machine Guns lost the TNA World Tag Team Championship to Beer Money, Inc., after Roode rolled up Sabin, following a miscommunication between the Machine Guns, ending their reign at 182 days, two days short of the longest reign in the title's history.
The Motor City Machine Guns received their rematch for the title on the January 13 episode of Impact!, but lost again due to a miscommunication. For the next three months, the Motor City Machine Guns went inactive, as Shelley suffered a collarbone injury and Sabin returned to the X Division. On the April 28 episode of Impact!, Shelley made his return, saving Sabin from a beatdown at the hands of Mexican America (Anarquia and Hernandez). Ironically, the same day Shelley made his return, Sabin suffered a knee injury in his match with Anarquia, who was out of position causing Sabin to tear both his ACL and MCL. Later that same week, Sabin underwent knee surgery, which would sideline him for the rest of the year.
On March 18, 2012, at Victory Road, TNA aired a video, promoting the upcoming return of the Motor City Machine Guns. The Motor City Machine Guns returned on the April 5 episode of Impact Wrestling, defeating Mexican America in a tag team match, before announcing their intention of going for the TNA World Tag Team Championship, held by Magnus and Samoa Joe. On April 15 at Lockdown, The Motor City Machine Guns unsuccessfully challenged Magnus and Joe for the TNA World Tag Team Championship in a steel cage match. During the next month, The Motor City Machine Guns did not make another appearance on Impact Wrestling, instead wrestling exclusively on TNA house shows. On May 21, it was reported that Shelley had chosen not to renew his contract with TNA, instead leaving the promotion and disbanding the Motor City Machine Guns.
Ring of Honor (2007–2010, 2015-2018)
On March 30, 2007, in their hometown of Detroit, Shelley and Sabin made their ROH debut as a team under the name The Murder City Machine Guns by challenging and then attacking Jay Briscoe after he and his brother Mark, who had injured himself during the match, had won back the ROH World Tag Team Championship from Naruki Doi and Shingo. On April 28 in Chicago, IL, at Good Times, Great Memories the Briscoe Brothers successfully defended their tag team titles against Shelley and Sabin. After the event TNA pulled all of their wrestlers from any upcoming ROH shows.
They returned to Ring of Honor in August 2008. On August 1 in Manassas, VA they fought Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson to a 20-minute time limit draw and then a 5-minute overtime draw. The next day in New York City they were defeated by Kevin Steen and El Generico when Steen forced Sabin to submit to the Sharpshooter. The team was scheduled to return to ROH on October 24 and 25, but were pulled from the events by TNA and replaced by the Latin American Xchange.
On February 13, 2010, Ring of Honor announced at their 8th Anniversary Show that the Motor City Machine Guns would return to the company on May 8 in New York City. On May 8 the Motor City Machine Guns were defeated by the ROH World Tag Team Champions Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli) via disqualification, when the Briscoe Brothers interfered in the match.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (2009, 2010, 2016)
On January 4, 2009, Sabin and Shelley defeated No Limit (Tetsuya Naitō and Yujiro) at New Japan Pro Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom III to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. They followed in the footsteps of American Dragon and Curry Man as the only other gaijin team to win those titles. After three successful title defenses, two of which took place in TNA, Shelley and Sabin lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title to Apollo 55 (Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi) on July 5, 2009, at New Japan Pro Wrestling's Circuit 2009 New Japan Soul. On November 8, 2010, New Japan Pro Wrestling announced that the Motor City Machine Guns would be returning to the promotion the following month, competing at events on December 11 and 12. On December 11 the Motor City Machine Guns were defeated by No Limit in their New Japan return match. The following day they defeated Apollo 55 in the fourth ever match between the two teams.
The team disbanded when Shelley retired in 2018.
- Finishing and signature moves
- ASCS Rush
- Made in Detroit
- Skull and Bones
- Theme music
Championships and accomplishments
- AAW Tag Team Champions (1 time)
- TNA World Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- ROH World Tag Team Championship (1 time)