The SmarK Rant for NWA Hard Times 2020 – 01.24.20
Live from Atlanta, GA
Your hosts are Joe Galli & Stu Bennett
NWA TV title round one: The Question Mark v. Trevor Murdoch
So unlike Powerrr, guys have entrances and music and such for the PPV. Time limit remains 6:05 for the PPV matches, although winners in draws will be determined by Billy Corgan, Stu Bennett and the referee. Question Mark quickly gets a dropkick to send Trevor to the floor and they slug it out out there. Murdoch accidentally clotheslines the post, and back in the Question Mark takes over on the arm. He uses some KARATAY palm strikes and follows with a backdrop into a belly to belly suplex for two. Blind charge misses and Murdoch comes back with a flying bulldog, but Question Mark pops up. So Murdoch does it again to finish at 3:10 and advance to the second round. So that ends the undefeated streak of the Question Mark, just like Goldberg losing at Starrcade. *1/2
NWA TV title round one: Dan Maff v. Zicky Dice
Zicky stops to lick the TV title, which seems to fall under the “don’t touch the conference championship trophy” rule for hockey. Also, probably licking a wrestling belt is just a bad idea. Maff is kind of an odd choice to send from ROH here. Do people even remember him? Maff batters Dice with chops to start, but Zicky gets a bulldog for two and stomps him down. Elbowdrop gets one. He goes up with a double axehandle and a lariat for two. He stops to gyrate before a neckbreaker, so Maff hits him with a german suplex and then spears him out of the air. Dice retreats to the corner and Maff cannonballs him and follows with a senton to finish at 3:03. The lesson: Never lick the belt. Pretty hard hitting match for the short time it got. **1/2
NWA TV title round one: Matt Cross v. Ricky Starks
Surprised that Cross didn’t make it into AEW with the other Lucha Underground refugees, but I guess he’s stuck in ROH for the time being. Ricky meanwhile grabs some kid out of the audience and brings him down the stairs. Stu: “Don’t drop him, we don’t want to get sued!” We get a pose-off to start and Cross dropkicks him to the floor and then follows with a planking elbow off the post to the floor. Crazy! Back in, Cross does some more gymnastics, but Starks faceplants him for two. Neckbreaker and dropkick get two. Cross comes back with a handspring elbow and then a flip into a double stomp for two. Oz-Cutter and Cross goes up, but misses a shooting star and Ricky hits the Stroke (Tiger Driver ’98, whatever you want to call it) for the pin to advance at 3:54. This was amazing gymnastic exhibition from Cross. ***
NWA TV title round one: Tim Storm v. Ken Anderson
For whatever reason, Ken Anderson is a no-show, so Tim Storm takes the bye and moves on to the next round, although he’s not proud of it.
And now, Stu Bennett is AFRAID HE’S GOT SOME BREAKING NEWS. It might even become a catchphrase, he’s not sure. Regardless, he announces that the April PPV is the CROCKETT CUP, taking place somewhere bigger than the studios.
NWA World tag team titles: The Rock N Roll Express v. The Wild Cards v. James Storm & Eli Drake
This is 3 in the ring rules, so we start with Ricky, Eli Drake and Thom Latimer. Drake gets a quick neckbreaker on Latimer and teams up with Ricky for some double-teaming, and then they agree to turn on each other for a bit. Isaacs comes in, so Robert teams up with Storm to double-team him and send Latimer to the floor. But then Isaacs jumps Storm from behind and the Wild Cards work him over in the corner. Latimer gets a clothesline for two and goes to a chinlock, and a back elbow gets two as Robert gets taken out on the floor by Kamille. Isaacs slugs away on the Cowboy, but he fights back, so Isaacs gets a powerslam for two. Latimer comes in and pounds the back while trying for a piledriver, but then just rolls him up for two instead. Storm gets a rollup on Latimer, but Isaacs takes the ref while poor Robert Gibson finally crawls back into the ring, half-alive. Hot tag Drake and he drops the elbow on Isaacs, but Latimer hits him with a short powerbomb and he’s down. Ricky Morton gets a hot tag and hits Latimer with the Canadian Destroyer, but tries another one and Isaacs holds the leg to block it, allowing Eli Drake to hit Ricky with the Emerald Frosion and win the titles at 8:21. Definitely the right call. And then Storm and Drake make sure to pay respects. This was a good, fun match. ***1/4
Drake & Storm join Dave at the desk to cut their victory promo, and Drake workshops some team names (Beer Muscles? Drinking Buddies?) but really you can just call them the champs.
NWA Women’s title: Allysin Kay v. Thunder Rosa
They DIVE in for the slugfest right away and Kay beats her down in the corner and follows with a northern lights suplex for two. Rosa gets frustrated and bails, but Kay suplexes her back into the ring for two. Allysin slugs away, but Rosa fights back with forearms and a dropkick and chokes her out on the ropes. Rosa slugs away in the corner and gets a sloppy suplex for two, and this time Kay bails to regroup. Rosa hits her with a baseball slide into the stands and goes to work on the arm out there. Back in, she goes to work with a LaBell Lock, but Kay fights out of that and reverses to a guillotine. Rosa goes back to the arm again and uses some SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION on the fingers, but Kay fights back with chops and gets into a strike battle. And then Rosa takes her down with an armbar and cranks on that, but lets it go. Kay fires back with a german suplex for two as the audio seems to be out of sync with the ring mic, but Rosa gets her own german suplex for two. That’s really distracting. Kay bails again and Rosa tries a somersault senton off the apron, but Kay catches her and powerbombs her on the apron. Back in, Kay gets two off that. Rosa rolls her up for two and hits a shining wizard to put her down, but goes up and gets caught by Kay on the way down. That was a bit ugly. Kay tries for the reverse piledriver, but Rosa reverses to a Code Red for two. Rosa spins up into the armbar, but Kay reverses to a tombstone for two. Kay slugs on her in the corner and they fight for a superplex, but Rosa puts her down with a missile dropkick and makes the comeback. Kay blocks the finisher and they head back to the top again, where Kay hits the body vice drop (AK 47) for two. She works the cover but Rosa is in the ropes. They get into another slugfest and Rosa takes her down with a guillotine, but Kay pushes her to the ropes to escape. So Rosa goes up and Kay follows, but Rosa gets a powerbomb off the top for two. Rosa has one more rally and dodges a charge, and Kay hits the post, allowing Rosa to get a NASTY armbar. But Kay powers out, so Rosa hits her with a neckbreaker and wins the title at 18:09. This was definitely the right call, and they worked HARD here and had a pretty incredible match despite their limitations. ****
Marty Scurll joins us to show support for Flip Gordon, but he ultimately wants a title match with Nick Aldis. But first, he wants to know why Aldis is such a coward and won’t give Flip a title match tonight. So Aldis comes out and agrees to put the title on the line, but only if the Villain leaves the building. The crowd chants “You don’t work here” and security escorts him out.
NWA TV title, semi finals: Dan Maff v. Trevor Murdoch
They slug it out to start and Maff spears him and then pounds away on the apron. Back in, Maff bites him in the corner and follows with an avalanche, then goes to work on the ribs and gets two. Maff misses a charge, however, and Murdoch finishes with the top rope bulldog at 3:28 to advance to the finals. Another one where Trevor took a beating and came back for the miracle win. *
NWA TV title, semi finals: Tim Storm v. Ricky Starks
Tim gets a hiptoss and contemplates some posing of his own, but then decides to throws chops instead. Ricky fires back with his own, but Storm gets a spinebuster for two. Boot to the head gets two. Storm pounds him with elbows, but Starks comes back with a dropkick and goes up for a flying stomp that misses. Storm throws more boots and gets a neckbreaker for two. Starks gets a jawbreaker, but walks into the Perfect Storm for two and makes it to the apron to get a breather. Storm suplexes him back in, but Starks rolls him up for two. Pancake piledriver gets two. Starks blocks another Perfect Storm and gets a crucifix for the pin to advance to the finals at 4:50. This was OK. *1/2
NWA Third Degree National title: Aron Stevens v. Scott Steiner
Question Mark has his Kill Bill/Bruce Lee tracksuit attire tonight, and disappointingly, Stevens has grown his beard back in between the tapings and this show. The soul patch was a much better douchebag look for him. Stevens shows off his KARATAY and tries an armbar, but Steiner immediately reverses to his own and Stevens hides in the ropes. Steiner beats on him in the corner and sends him to the floor with a hiptoss. Back in, Stevens tries a headlock, but gets chased to the floor again right away. Steiner hauls him back in and Stevens runs away again, so Scott chases him out there and throws him into various hard objects. Back in, Steiner gets a suplex for two. Steiner charges and Stevens gets a rollup in the corner for two, but Steiner takes him down with a flatliner. This sets up the Steiner Recliner, at which point the Question Mark runs in for the DQ at 6:00. And then Question Mark takes the Recliner while Stevens runs away. This was really bad and lazily booked as well. -** I much preferred the idea floating around where Stevens would get knocked loopy and then actually hit the Mongrovian Spike in his dazed state to pin Steiner.
NWA World title: Nick Aldis v. Flip Gordon
Flip slugs away in the corner to start and dropkicks Aldis to the floor, but is unable to suplex him onto the announce desk. Back in, Aldis takes him down, but Flip reverses into a hammerlock to control on the mat. They exchange headlocks and Flip controls there and follows with an enzugiri. Aldis bails to regroup and the ref actually stops Flip from doing his dive, but Flip dives over him and hits Aldis regardless. Back in, Flip wraps him up with an armbar, but Aldis fights free and comes back with a fallaway slam off the top for two. Aldis with the chinlock, but Flip fights out, so Nick hits him with a delayed suplex and slugs him down with forearms. Aldis takes out the knee and goes to the figure-four, but Flip reverses it and then comes back with a springboard into a spear. Flip goes up with a moonsault for two, but Aldis crotches him on another try. Aldis with a top rope suplex, but Gordon lands on his feet, so Aldis gets a tombstone and drops the flying elbow for two. Flip reverses into a crucifix for two and goes to a crossface, but Aldis makes the ropes. They slug it out and Aldis tries for the cloverleaf, but Flip bends the fingers to escape and hits the Star Spangled Stunner twice for two. They fight in the corner and Flip gets a victory roll, but Aldis sits down on him for the pin to retain at 15:21. Weird crowd dynamic here as invading villain Flip Gordon was wildly cheered by the NWA crowd. Hell of a match from Flip, though. ***3/4
NWA World TV title: Trevor Murdoch v. Ricky Starks
Murdoch charges in with a big boot and pounds away, but Starks gets a shoulderblock and clothesline for two. Trevor wants the test of strength but then gets a Russian legsweep and tosses him. They slug it out on the floor and Murdoch dodges a shoulderblock off the apron and sends Starks into the stairs. Starks beats the count and Murdoch slaps him around in the corner and dumps him over the top rope. Back in, Murdoch kills him with a backdrop driver for two. Starks tries a tornado DDT, but Murdoch blocks him and follows with a clothesline for two. Murdoch takes him to the top, but Starks escapes with a powerbomb for two. He sets up for the finisher, but Murdoch escapes, so Starks spears him for two and then hits the Stroke to win the TV title at 9:22. They never really got this one off the ground but it was a good match. ***
Overall, the women’s match steals the show, but at 2:30 this breezed by and nothing overstayed its welcome. Only one really bad match tonight and a bunch of good ones make this an easy thumbs up for $20.