NWK Reviews NWA-TNA PPV #1

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NWK Reviews NWA-TNA PPV #1

Post by NWK2000 » Mar 29th, '21, 09:32

June 19, 2002
Huntsville AL


For my money, 2002 was the most transformative year in wrestling. WCW's Time Warner contracts were expiring, and ROH/TNA were rising up to combat the monopoly. We've looked at ROH's first year, so why not look at the NWA-TNA PPV era of TNA, starting with the first. Will this blow expectations, or just blow chunks? Let's find out.


Starts out with an old timey intro, and then explodes into rockin intro with electrcity sounds. Delightfully 2002, but not very helpful in describing what we're seeing.

Opening segment: Great! First Don West gets introduced by Jeremy Borasch, who comes down the ramp and then introduces Ed Ferrara, who also gets an entrance. Poor Mike Tenay doesn't get one, so he has to sell u s on the product as Don and Ed take their seats. We finally get told about the Gauntlet for the Gold. NWA legends are introduced, most notably, Harley Race, Dory Funk Jr, Jackie Fargo, and Ricky Steamboat. Ed isn't happy about it and gives Mike crap for it. Ricky gives a speech about the NWA Championship, which makes the other legends visibly emotional. He also announces he'll be the ref for the final two wrestlers, meaning TNA got started on the "pinfalls finish a battle royal stip" early, Jarrett, interrupts to complain about the title being decided in a battle royal. Jackie Fargo calls Jarrett a loser, chastizes him for interrupting the ceremony, and makes him Entry #1. Hall and Shamrock both show up to complain about the battle royal, but they at least frame it in a "Oh well, I'm going to kick ass anyway," kind of way. Jarrett stomps off on a huff.

I liked this segment a lot, and consider it a textbook example of how an opening segment of a premiering wrestling show. Set up what's most important and introduce us to the main event players.

Goldielocks interviews Puppet the Midget Killer: Goldielocks gives Puppet a super amped up introduction, and is playing along but gets progressively more weirded out by Puppet's (admitedly awesome) 80s style promo. We also see Jeff Jarrett kicking shit over because he's mad about being screwed by Fargo.

Six man tag
AJ Styles, Low Ki, and Jerry Lynn vs The Flying Elvises (Sonny Siaki, Jimmy Yang, and Jorge Estrada)

Styles, Ki, and Lynn get positive reactions from the legends in the back while the Elvies get confused reactions. Which presents the quandary of who is kayfabe booking this show? Don't you think the NWA reps would know about the people on the card if this was an NWA show.

Anyway, this is a spotfest that, while I'm sure was completely nuts in 2002 (as evidenced by Don West's near coronary on commentary), this isn't anything beyond what you can see on any show today. Everyone shows off, but they get over the fact that Ki, Lynn, and Styles 3/4s of the X-Division Title match next week, and we're given further juice to that storyline when Ki accidentally Tidal Crushes Styles, allowing Yang to hit Yang Time for the win.


Midget Match
Teo vs. Hollywood
The guys do moves, but it's also one of the stiffest midget matches I've ever seen. This, and Don West clipping the mic marking out for a Hollywood splash. Teo wins, and they're building towards rekindling Teo vs Puppet from WWA.


"Miss TNA" hype segment : bad.
Don West and Ed Ferrara introduce the women for the Miss TNA Lingerie Battle Royal next week. They either have the entrance order wrong or somebody has the cues wrong in the back because it's all out of synch. Dafney has a different name for some reason. Francine cuts a budget Shane Douglas promo, and Elektra tells her off, accusing her of bankrupting ECW (?) this prompts a catfight. Don and Ed break it up and the other girls just kind of watch. It's a shame when the two women capable of talking have to carry the storyline for an entire battle royale.

Mortimer Plumtree promo: I'm mixed. Plumtree's delivery is pretty good, but he and his team has way too complicated a backstory that he has to get in this two minute promo, not to mention what the crux of these characters is super dumb.

Psicosis and James Storm vs The Johnson (Richard and Rod) (w/ Mortimer Plumtree)

The Johnson's used to be Mortimer's childhood bullies, but now they're his slaves for some reason, and as payback he makes them dress up like the male sex organ. Like what? And why is Psychosis, the other 4th of the big title match next week, being treated like a jobber here?

James was a cult of personality even this early in his career, and he and Psicosis do some interesting, 80s high flying tag team stuff, which the crowd is super into. Unfortunately the Johnsons' offense is super basic. One of the Johnsons just kind of stands there while the other gets a huricanrana during a hot tag. Storm gets distracted way too easily by Plumtree which allows the legal Johnson to hit an...Ace Crusher? I can't tell because the camera messes up the shot for the three.

Poor James Storm, Poor Psichosis, they dragged these two limp dicks kicking and screaming to a...

Post match: Alicia (fka Ryan Shamrock, who has been watching the match) takes some money from referee Slick Johnson. Complete waste of time.

The Duffs waste Goldielock's time: A young Trevor Murdock and someone who could pass for Bushwacker Luke's son demands Goldielocks meet their cousin/ girlfriend Fluff Dupp. Ha ha! Incest jokes! Some dweeb says they can't have beer in the locker room and Trevor asks "whoever heard of gettin' drunk on beer?" which, for as dumb of a gimmick as this was, was a funny line. Fluff meanwhile barely makes it through the one sentence she has to say. Goldielocks does a great job acting disgusted.
Hermie Sadler/Sterling Marlin/ K-Krush/Brian Lawler segment: Decent. The NASCAR boys show up for some cross promotion, K-Krush calls them not real athletes, they get into it, but Brian Lawler breaks it up with the craziest reverse atomic drop in history) and the NASCAR boys pitch him out, which leads to Lawler vs Killings next week.
Jeff Jarrett has bloodied Jackie Fargo backstage: They're really putting the stank on Jarrett as a heel, only adds to that later tonight

The Dupps (Bo and Stan) (w/ Fluff) vs. Christian York and Joey Matthews

The heels jump the faces, but they make a comeback, They work over Matthews forever until a hot tag, and York takes them on by himself until Fluff crotches him, and Bo grabs the tights for the win.

This was a better technical match than The Johnson's match but, the finish was worse.

"How Do You Like Me Now?" by Toby Keith music video: Completely random. Toby harasses a girl with teleportation powers... This transitions into...
Toby Keith sings "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue" live in the Impact Zone: As random as his appearance seems, this was actually a crazy get. This, along with "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood were unironic post 9/11 anthems, and the crowd response here puts that over. Jarrett interrupts, shoving Toby for MAJOR heat on the way to the ring for.

The Gaunlet for the Gold

Jarrett plays the role of Brock Lesnar in the 2020 Royal Rumble, eliminating Buff Bagwell immediately after a Blockbuster , Lash LaRoux, and Norman Smiley Apollo is #5 and holds his own against Jeff.

K-Krush is #6. He saves Jarrett and they double team Apollo until he makes his own come back

#7 Slash shows up but Apollo gets the upperhand after some heat. Del Rios is
#8 and his punches are so lame the heels just attack him with no issue.
#9 is Justice, who goes after Apollo and then Jarrett with identical big boots. He tries on Del Rios, but everything Del-Rios does is lame including his selling so Justice says fuck it and he hits a...Black Hole Slam? Wait...Justice is Abyss!
#10 is Konnan. He hits his completely ridiculous rolling clothesline on everyone, Justice no sells him so he gets the Bella Buster (I'm never not calling the sitout facebuster that shut up) for his trouble.
Joel Gertner is out when the clock strikes 0. He is out here to introduce #11, one half of the Rainbow Express Bruce. He immediately runs into an Apollo clothesline, great job.
#12 is Rick Steiner, who runs wild with Stienerlines and eliminates Slash with a T-Bone, then Justice with a Steinerline
#13 is Malice. He eliminates Bruce, K-Krush, Del Rios, Konnan, and Rick Steiner after Chokeslamming everyone on that list except Steiner, who he low bridges. Jarrett and Malice work together to throw Apollo over, but he skins the cat. In a weird moment, Apollo climbs to the top like he's going to crossbody Jarrett and Malice as they wait for #14 Scott Hall, but he just abandons it. Hall hits the Razor's Edge on Jarrett, who beckons out Toby Keith, who suplexes Jarrett to a huge reaction. He and Hall eliminate Jarrett. Hall and Apollo tee off on Malice is Toby leaves the ring, stalking after Jarrett
#15 is Chris Harris, who does nothing.
#16 is Vampire Warrior, FKA Gangrel, who jumps the timer completely.
#17 is Devon Storm, who gets to do a Gordbuster suplex in the middle of the ring on Harris, good for him. Wildcat and Devon tee off on chops.

#18 is Steve Corino. He double clotheslines VW and Harris, and does the Otani Face Wash on Harris. James Mitchell keeps Malice from being eliminated.
#19 is Ken Shamrock. Shamrock beams Corino with a kick to the head, and kicks everyone's ass, but eventually runs into a brick wall with Malice and eventually gets slammed for his trouble.
#20 is Brian Christopher who pitches out Chris Harris, Crowbar, and Vampire Warrior. Christopher and Corino tussle but Corino gets eliminated. Christopher does The Running Man but turns around in a chokeslam by Malice. For some reason the final four have a standoff and Shamrock eliminates babyface Christopher. Hall and Apollo double team Malice. Hall tells Apollo to do a running clothesline, but he gets backdropped out of the ring for his trouble. Hall goes to Razor's Edge Malice for some reason but also gets backdropped out. This leads to...

NWA World Title Match (w/ Ricky Steamboat as Special Referee)
Ken Shamrock vs Malice w/ James Mitchell

This match gets its own introductions from JB, which I think is something that's lost in the "pinfalls count in the final two of a battle royal" stip. Ken immediately runs into a big boot from Malice. Ken tries to fight back, but Malice rakes the eyes and powers Shamrock around, Shamrock tries for a sunset flip but is denied. A chokeslam is countered into an armbar, but Mitchell practically gives Malice the bottom rope, which, to be fair, was so subtle a movement I almost missed it. Malice takes back the momentum A kick is countered into the most realistic Ankle Lock I've ever seen Malice gets the rope, but Shamrock gets him horizontal instead of standing on one leg this time. Malice makes it to the roped and Steamboat counts really slowly and shoves Shamrock off in lieu of a DQ. They argue, while Mitchell gives Malice something. Shamrock works the leg, but Malice eventually gets him goozled, only for Shamrock to hit him with a Belly-to-Belly out of nowhere for the win.

As a complete package, this was very akin to the 2020 Royal Rumble and a miniature 2001 Royal Rumble, where the guy with the most shine on him doesn't go all the way. Once Jarrett was eliminated though, it felt like a separate Battle Royal with everyone going for spots. Plus, you had some Royal Rumble tropes like the midcarder who went all the way and the big monsters, who you get in relatively unknown names like Apollo, Malice, and Justice, which is a ballsy move for a new promotion and I respect it.
Shamrock vs Malice was an excellent "technical vs power" match, made even more impressive by how long Malice was in the match when compared to Shamrock

8/10 overall

Post match: Shamrock celebrates with the belt. We get some alone time with the announcers, but then.

Jarrett, Toby Keith, and Jackie Fargo segment: Jarrett bitches to the NWA legends (who had come out to congratulate Shamrock, but were ambling around after he left) about a title being decided in a battle royal, punches Bullet Bob over the announces table and shoves Dory Funk. Jackie and Toby come out held back by security. They announce they'll be in the corner of Scott Hall when he wrestles Jarrett next week. Hall comes out and brawls with Jarrett as we fade to black. This is a good segment. It's consistent with Jeff's behavior, gets Jarrett his heat back and sets up another match for next week.


Hot take: This is a better show than The Era of Honor Begins. ROH and TNA's first show had one similar problem, cold tag team with stupid gimmicks, and the main event in TNA's debut show doesn't measure up to ROH's. HOWEVER, TNA were smart enough to get a champion crowned on the first show, and use more traditional wrestling tricks (brawls and in-ring segments, to set things up for next week. I can't wait for the next TNA show, because that's the big X-Division Round Robin tourney!
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