The SmarK Rant for NWA-TNA PPV #1 – 06.19.02
Live from Huntsville, AL
Your hosts are Mike Tenay, Don West & Ed Ferrera
I decided to try the Impact Plus subscription deal through Fite.TV. At $8 a month it might be worth it to review some non-WWE stuff.
All the way back to the very first Total Nonstop Action show we go, as the Jarretts grabbed all the leftover WCW guys and indie geeks they could find with a weekly $10 per show business model that was a giant flop. Go figure.
In the dark segment before the show, one of the guys was so fat that he broke the ring, and so they had to fix the ring before the live show. The show hadn’t even started and already things were falling apart.
Jeremy Borash introduces some NWA legends to start, including Harley Race, Dory Funk Jr, Jackie Fargo, Bob Armstrong, Corsica Joe, Bill Behrens, and Ricky Steamboat (who has the Ten Pounds of Gold for the winner of the main event tonight.) I actually like the version made for the current incarnation of the NWA better. Steamboat explains that the belt is like the Stanley Cup for hockey, or the World Series for baseball, or the Super Bowl for football. And of course Jeff Jarrett immediately interrupts, burying the idea of a “stupid battle royale” for the title. I love shoot comments that aren’t supposed to be shoot comments. So to punish Jarrett for his insolence, Jackie Fargo makes him the first entrant in the stupid battle royale. This brings out Ken Shamrock and his ridiculous sideburns, and he also thinks that the battle royale idea sucks. And then this brings out Scott Hall, fresh off getting fired by the WWE. The announcers are all “OH MY GOD HE’S DOING STUFF FROM ANOTHER SHOW THAT YOU MIGHT REMEMBER!” He also agrees that the battle royale sucks. Jarrett feels like all the old farts can stick it.
Oh this was quite the start to the TNA era, what with everyone bitching about how stupid the title match concept was and all.
Meanwhile, Goldie Rocks introduces Puppet the Psycho Dwarf.
AJ Styles, Low Ki & Jerry Lynn v. The Flying Elvises (Sonny Siaki, Jorge Estrada & Jimmy Wang Yang)
The graphic lists them as “The Flying Elvis Impersonators” as the LOLTNA starts with the first match. Also, the fact that the very first match has three guys dressed like Elvis. Mike Tenay tries to explain the concept of the X Division, which 18 years later still doesn’t make any particular sense. The babyfaces immediately clear the ring and AJ powerslams Yang for one, but he fires back with a leg lariat for two. Over to Lynn, who hits Yang with a tilt a whirl backbreaker for two. Tornado DDT, but Yang lands on his feet and it’s over to Siaki. Lynn gives him a flying headscissors and a bulldog gets two. Low Ki comes in and beats on him with chops, but Siaki hits a neckbreaker for two. They trade kicks and Siaki hits an over the shoulder backbreaker for two. Who’s dumb idea was it to take someone jacked like Siaki and have him wear a jumpsuit? Estrada comes in and hits Ki with a neckbreaker out of the corner, and a standing moonsault gets two. Ki dropkicks the knee to take him down and then kicks him in the face. AJ comes in with his springboard inverted DDT, but Estrada puts him down with a leg lariat for two. Estrada hits Low Ki with a spinebuster for two, but Jerry Lynn hits him with a cradle piledriver. Siaki saves and it’s BONZO GONZO as everyone goes for their finishers, but Ki accidentally kicks Styles in the face and Yang finishes with a moonsault at 6:50. This was definitely all action. ***1/2
MIDGET MADNESS: Hollywood v. Teo
Puppet the Dwarf has already promised to do a run-in earlier but sadly doesn’t keep his word. They trade chops and Teo gets a mule kick in the corner, but Hollywood gets a sit out slam for two. Teo with a legsweep and he goes up with a senton to finish at 2:45.
So at this point Ed Ferrera brings out a parade of women for next week’s lingerie battle royale, mostly people you’ve never heard of before, or “HEY REMEMBER WHEN THIS PERSON USED TO BE IN ANOTHER PROMOION!” like Francine or Daffney. Plus a young Alexis Laree, aka pre-implant Mickie James. Francine and Elektra bitch at each other and Elektra gets her top ripped off before Don West covers her up. Completely brutal waste of time.
Meanwhile, Mortimore Plumtree introduces his tag team, the Johnsons, while Goldie makes funny faces in the background.
Dick & Rod Johnson v. Psicosis & James Storm
The Johnsons are the often-recycled Shane Twins, playing two guys in flesh color bodysuits and named “Johnson”. GEE GUESS WHO’S BOOKING THIS SHOW? Or at least the guy he worked in another promotion. Oddly enough, this was the week where Russo was hired by the WWF and lasted a day before getting fired again, leading to the conspiracy theory about him doing it to get out of his WCW contract so he could work for TNA instead. James Storm is so very young here, as Ferrera buries him for having a cowboy gimmick. Yeah and who’s the one still around in the business 18 years later? Dick Johnson with a pair of suplexes on Psi, but he comes back with an enzuigiri. Storm with a missile dropkick on Rod as the former Alecia Webb comes out to watch and Tenay is all HEY REMEMBER WHEN SHE WAS IN WCW WITH ANOTHER NAME? The Johnsons double-team Psicosis with a flapjack, but one of them tries a powerbomb and Psi does the Kidman reversal and makes the hot tag to Storm. Storm beats off both Johnsons, but they double team him and the manager trips him up and one of the Johnsons gets the pin at 5:00. The Johnsons made a mess all over the ring here. And then the referee gives Webb some cash on the way out. This is so fucking stupid. *
Meanwhile, we meet the Dupps, who harass Goldie and go to drink some beers in the locker room. Bill Behrens stops by and tells them not to drink on the job. So why is there a damn tub full of beer in the locker room then? THIS SHOW IS SO STUPID.
Next up, we meet NASCAR DRIVERS! Tenay explains that one of them is the leader in the Winston Cup points deal, so he’s like the NWA World champion. So this brings out K-Krush, who is sick of hearing about racecar drivers in a wrestling ring. He’s telling the TRUTH. He’s an athlete and they just turn left. This man Ron Killings is speaking TRUTH. One of the drivers gets in his face, but then Brian Christopher (“HEY HE USED TO BE IN ANOTHER PROMOTION AS GRANDMASTER SEXAY!”) makes the save and they throw Krush out of the ring. This was the usual nonsense where a promotion in the south assumes that anyone outside of Alabama gives a shit about NASCAR and that’s one of the primary reasons why they failed so hard. Along with making sure to point out EVERY TIME that someone used to have another gimmick in a more successful promotion.
Christian York & Joey Matthews v. Stan & Bo Dupp
So the joke here is that the Dupps are hillbillies who are dating their cousin Fluff Dupp, and this is double Russo-lite nonsense because the name is a pun (“Stan Dupp”) but “Bo Dupp” (aka “bowed up”) is a southern slang term that doesn’t mean anything outside of the limited area they were running. Also, Stan Dupp is a very very young and thin Trevor Murdoch. I didn’t even realize that until I looked it up just now. Joey Matthews of course went on to be Joey Mercury and got much better. The Dupps double-team Matthews, but York springboards in with a dropkick on them. The faces get a double suplex on Stan for two, but he comes back with a full nelson slam on Matthews. Bo Dupp comes in (he’s no one, by the way) comes in with a big boot and a splash for two. Stan tries a backslide and gets cut off with a neckbreaker, and York gets a hot tag and cleans house on the Dupps. Senton on Bo gets two as Tenay informs us that the senton is called “The Cutting Edge”. Yeah no one cares what the name of a fucking senton is. York goes up and Fluff trips him up and Bo gets the pin at 3:42. This was nothing. *
Meanwhile, Toby Keith (no relation) wonders how we like him now. I have no strong opinion on the matter, sorry Toby. Yes, we’ve had country music, hillbillies, and NASCAR drivers thus far. God bless Jerry Jarrett and Vince Russo’s non-union dreadlocked equivalent. And then we get a live performance from Toby, as he sings THE ANGRY AMERICAN. It’s about how you don’t mess with the USA. This was apparently the hottest song in America at this point. WE’RE GONNA BLOW UP THE MOON.
Just had to drop that one in there.
Also watch Mr. Show. It’s awesome. But maybe skip the first season unless you’re a hardcore fan.
Anyway, thankfully Jeff Jarrett interrupts before we can finish hearing about the Statue of Liberty coming to life and putting her boot up the ass of whatever foreign country is disrespecting AMERICA, and it’s time for the main event.
Gauntlet for the Gold:
We start with Jeff Jarrett at #1 and Buff Bagwell at #2, and Buff tries to throw him out immediately but can’t get him over the top. Buff Blockbuster, which you may remember from another promotion, but he poses and Jarrett backdrops him over the top at 1:07. Lash LeRoux is #3 and REMEMBER HIM FROM THE MISFITS IN ACTION is actually a thing that Mike Tenay says. Jarrett throws him out of the ring and drops him on the railing, then back in for the Stroke and Lash is over and out at 2:30. Screamin’ Norman Smiley is #4 at 3:00 and REMEMBER WHEN HE WAS IN WCW AS HARDCORE CHAMPION? REMEMBER WHEN HE DID THAT DANCE IN WCW? Jarrett beats on him in the corner, but Norman gets the spinning slam, so Jeff kicks him in the big wiggler and hits the Stroke before throwing him out at 4:00. Apolo is #5 at 4:45 and we don’t remember anything about him. But he’s big and tall and pretty good so he gets some heat on Jarrett and throws him around. K-KRUSH is #6 at 6:20 and REMEMBER WHEN HE WAS K-KWIK IN THE WWF? He saves Jarrett and beats on Apollo in the corner. Slash is #7 (aka Wolfie D) and REMEMBER WHEN HE WAS IN THE WWF? Del Rios is #8, and I’m shocked Tenay doesn’t remind us of when he used to be the Spellbinder. REMEMBER WHEN HE PULLED OUT THAT JOBBER’S UNDERWEAR IN THE WWF? Anyway, now he’s dressed like Scott Steiner, complete with bleached hair and beard. Justice is #9, looking like a thinner Rhyno, and you guessed it, it’s baby Abyss. He hits Rios with a Black Hole Slam as the WWF and WCW castoffs and ripoffs start piling up on us. Konnan is #10 and he gets his shit in as Mike Tenay notes how Sinister James Mitchell is. REMEMBER WHEN HE WAS THE SINISTER MINISTER IN ANOTHER PROMOTION? Bruce is #11, aka the former Alan Funk, now doing a gay tag team with Lenny Lane to replace Lodi. Because they’re already doing substitutions before introducing the team on their first show. Rick Steiner is #12 and there’s no chance he’s selling anything while collecting this payday. So he lays everyone out with clotheslines and dumps Slash out at 16:33. Justice gets clotheslined out at 16:49. Malice is #13, aka the guy who was the Wall in WCW and is still fucking terrible. He chokeslams everyone and tosses Bruce at 18:10, then K-Krush at 18:16 and Del Rios at 18:21. Konnan goes out with a half-assed bump at 18:33. Rick Steiner charges him and goes out at 18:48. Scott Hall is #14 after “leaving the WWF by mutual agreement” and he’s got “KLIQ” on his ass. REMEMBER WHEN HE WAS A PART OF THE KLIQ? Toby Keith is #15 and he gives Jarrett a suplex (or more accurately Jarrett suplexes himself) and throws Jarrett out at 21:25 to get his revenge before eliminating himself and leaving. Who is this show supposed to be appealing to? Chris Harris is #16 and then Vampire Warrior runs in at #17 as they were probably running super long and needed to get things moving. We barely even have time to REMEMBER WHEN HE WAS GANGREL IN THE WWF? Devon Storm is #18 and REMEMBER WHEN HE WAS CROWBAR IN WCW? So more geeks slug it out on the ropes while Hall just stands there in the corner and hangs out, giving zero fucks about this match. Steve Corino is #18 and REMEMBER WHEN HE WAS NWA WORLD CHAMPION BEFORE? Corino gets his shit in and this match is seriously dragging already as they’ve used up all their spots and it’s just guys kicking and punching. Ken Shamrock is #19 and REMEMBER WHEN HE WON THE KING OF THE RING IN THE WWF IN 1998? Real thing said by Mike Tenay, folks. More laying around on the ropes and Brian Christopher is #20 to close out the field. He dumps Devon Storm, Chris Harris and Vampire Warrior at 29:26. Corino gets clotheslined out at 29:50. But then Malice chokeslams him and Shamrock throws him out at 30:20.
Final Four: Scott Hall, Malice, Ken Shamrock and Gran Apolo.
What a finale. Malice backdrops Apolo out at 30:45 and then backdrops Hall out at 30:59, so there’s Hall’s one bump for the match.
NWA World title: Ken Shamrock v. Malice
We are RAPIDLY running out of time, so special ref Ricky Steamboat sprints into the ring and we start the title match. Shamrock slugs away on Malice, but walks into a sideslam that gets two. Malice with a suplex for two. He tries a chokeslam, but Shamrock reverses him into an armbar. Malice makes the ropes and slugs out, but Shamrock gets the anklelock this time and Malice gets the ropes. Then Shamrock pulls him back into the anklelock again and Malice gets the ropes again. Shamrock goes after the leg again, but Malice goes for the chokeslam and Shamrock reverses to the belly to belly for the pin and the title at 37:45. Whole thing was worth maybe ***.
And the Jeff Jarrett and Scott Hall brawl to end the show, setting up our main event for next week. Apparently at this point about half of the crowd had filed out of the building and they had to beg everyone to stay and move to the hard camera side so they could shoot the second episode. So a promising start!
Anyway, was this idea worth $10 a show at the time? No chance. $8 a month, though? Maybe. We’ll see. This was an OK debut with a hot crowd at least, and you can’t say there’s not lots of stuff to talk about here. Unless my eardrums explode from Mike Tenay remembering stuff before next week.