The SmarK Rant for NWA-TNA PPV #2 – 06.26.02
Taped from Huntsville, AL
Your hosts are Mike Tenay, Ed Ferrera & Don West
So this show was taped after the first PPV, at which point most of the crowd went home and they had to herd the remaining crowd to the hard-camera side so the arena didn’t look completely like a (pre-Covid 2019) Smackdown taping.
Jeff Jarrett v. Scott Hall
Jarrett stalls forever, but Hall slugs away in the corner and clotheslines him to the floor, where Jarrett runs away from elderly Jackie Fargo and country music star Toby Keith (no relation). What’s he gonna do, hit him with a beer cup?
Was that him? The red solo cup guy? I think it was. Eh, I’m calling it a successful burn and moving on.
Jarrett grabs a sleeper and they fade out and then in again for what appeared to be a commercial break slot, so I’m assuming this is the version they sold as a syndicated show in local markets rather than the actual PPV one. Not sure why that would be. Hall reverses to his own sleeper, but Jarrett escapes with a sleeper for two. Hall comes back with various clotheslines and sets up for the Non Trademarked Edge, but K-Krush runs down and trips him up to break up the move. This somehow doesn’t result in a DQ, so Jarrett takes over with a faceplant while Brian Christopher chases K-Krush away, but now Toby Keith (no relation) runs in and hits Jarrett in the (censored for the benefit of Google) and Hall gets the pin at 7:00. This was every Razor-Jarrett match from 1995 in slow motion with a ridiculously overbooked finish. * Next week: Jeff Jarrett & K-Krush v. Scott Hall & Brian Christopher.
Cheex v. Frank Parker
The freakshow nature of this show continues as Cheex is horribly obese, making Mabel look like Booker T. He no-sells all of Parker’s offense and slams him, then follows with a butt splash in the corner. Parker tries a sunset flip for god knows what reason and Cheex sits on him for two, and then finishes with a splash at 2:08. Probably still better than Big Daddy. -** Cheex was so fat that he actually broke the ring during his dark match, and delayed the live debut of the first PPV, which sounds like the punchline of a weak Yo Mama joke but is sadly a true story. Like, why would they even have bothered to put this on a free TV show, let alone a show that cost $10?
Last week: K-Krush messes with the wrong racecar drivers!
K-Krush v. Brian Christopher
So for those keeping track, Brian is fighting for racecar drivers everywhere to prove they’re real athletes. Brian Christopher doing the Too Cool dances on his own is just so sad. I will say, they’ve already stopped with the HEY REMEMBER WHEN HE WAS IN THE WWF stuff so that’s a huge improvement. Christopher hits a neckbreaker right away and follows with a bulldog. He tries it again and Krush dodges him in the corner and comes back with the leg lariat for two. Krush with a chinlock, but Christopher slugs out of it and gets an enzuigiri before following with a stunner. You wish, buddy. Krush puts him down with an atomic drop, but the racecar drivers crotch him on the middle rope, which is somehow not a DQ, and Christopher finishes him with the Alabama Jam at 4:50. Just to point out here: K-Krush was fighting THREE-ON-ONE odds and he was supposed to be the HEEL?
Lingerie Battle Royale
Last one to be stripped down to her underwear is the winner and gets crowned Miss TNA. It’s been 18 years since this show aired and I have no earthly idea what happened in any of these matches, but I’m betting one of the Rainbow Express guys somehow end up winning it because Dreadlocked Russo had his fingerprints all over it. Actually, never mind, I think that comes later. So the only people of note here are Francine and Elektra from ECW, plus Daffney and future biggest star of all Alexis “Mickie James” Laree. So they all come in wearing white pajamas and then proceed to tearing them off within the first 30 seconds and doing some staggeringly awful “wrestling”. Francine loses her gear and she’s wearing a bra so tiny that it barely covers up her nipples, at which point Ferrera goes over and feels her up while helping her up. Good fucking god. So she pretends to take his pants off, but then pulls his belt off and whips him with it. Taylor Vaughn (the former “EMT” BB from the WWF) pulls off Elektra’s clothes for the win at 5:00 but then Francine pulls off HER clothes to get her heat back. This was everything misogynistic and awful about wrestling stuffed into five minutes. -***
Meanwhile, Goldy Locks is interviewing Apolo, but future blog meme Bobcat interrupts with whoever her man is, although she never bothers to mention his name, and Goldie cuts off the segment. THIS WAS SO MONEY!
Apolo v. David Young
Wow, and now we get the blowoff to this exciting feud already? Young attacks to start, but Apolo gets a tilt-a-while slam and suplexes him out of the ring. Back in, Young slugs away in the corner while the announcers completely bury Bobcat and point out what a horrible manager she is while she completely ignores the guy she’s supposed to be managing and seduces Jeremy Borash instead. Young is distracted by this and gets rolled up for two, but comes back with an enzuigiri for two. Young gets a suplex for two and follows with a spinebuster, but Bobcat is busy giving Borash a lapdance and Young gets all distracted and stands there on the ropes yelling at her. Apolo comes back with a superkick and TKO to finish at 5:20. Ferrera notes “Apolo goes over!” No one’s over here, Ed. ½*
The Rainbow Express (Lenny Lane & Bruce) v. The Dupps
OK, so lots to unpack here. The Express are managed by Joel Gertner, who does his usual spiel at the beginning but then stresses that although the Express ARE gay, he is completely not gay, but it’s totally OK that his team are gay as he tries to do this weird gay-positive speech but still be a heel. Also, every goddamn midcard act in this two-bit promotion has a different valet or manager or quasi-celebrity in their corner or some combination of all three, so no fucking wonder the Jarretts were bleeding money and had to be bailed out by Panda. Next up, Mike Tenay introduces the Rainbow Express as “the team too controversial for WCW in late 1999” because they were PRETENDING to be gay but then got revealed to be brothers, but apparently now the storyline is that they were ACTUALLY gay the whole time and just got shoved into the closet by standards & practices. Oh, but then Tenay clarifies that they aren’t actually the team who were in WCW, because Lodi is out with a neck injury and so Bruce is taking his place, which basically renders the whole backstory meaningless BECAUSE IT’S NOT EVEN THE SAME FUCKING TEAM. So, like, they’re super-gay for each other, way gayer than the fake gay team on that OTHER promotion’s show, but one guy is injured so they’re only temporarily gay for each other until he gets back.
OK, then we get to the actual match. But not. Because The Dupps are backstage and refuse to wrestle anyone with an “alternative lifestyle”, so the makeshift team of James Storm and Chris Harris get offered the spot, as Bill Behrens tells them to just go out in their street clothes to take their place. Just want to note that the Dupps calling the Rainbows “a couple of left-wingers” was a frighteningly prescient vision of the bleach-injecting Trumpian nightmare future. And there’s a backstory to that makeshift team to cover as well, as Storm and Harris had a match against each other on an indie show a couple of nights before the first TNA taping that tore the house down, and thus got brought into TNA as a result. As a tag team. The future AMW cleans house to start, but the alternative shenanigans of the Rainbow Express turn the tide and Lenny gets a suplex for two while grinding and cavorting on Storm in a manner that would make 1995 Goldust look subtle. Lenny gets the “tiger tamer” crab (BECAUSE HE LOOKS LIKE CHRIS JERICHO GET IT?) but Harris gets a hot tag and cleans house for a bit. Lenny tries a slam and Harris reverses to a cradle for two and then gets a backslide for two. Lenny collides with Bruce and Harris rolls him up for the pin at 4:50. This was a completely horrible mess but better days would be ahead for the babyfaces. DUD
Ken Shamrock joins us to cut a promo as NWA World champion, but James Mitchell interrupts, and he’s on a mission from God. And that mission is to ensure that his New Church controls the championship, so next week it’s Shamrock defending against Malice in a rematch. So Malice sneaks in from behind and chokeslams Ken before choking him out until refs pull him off. Really, Mitchell was the only manager that was needed for these early shows.
X Division title: Jerry Lynn v. AJ Styles v. Psicosis v. Low Ki
So this is a double elimination tournament because reasons.
AJ Styles v. Psicosis
We start with this one, as Psi controls to start, but AJ superkicks him for two. Blind charge misses and Psi gets a leg lariat out of the corner and follows with a top rope legdrop for two. He tries a rana, but AJ reverses to the Styles Clash for the first win at 2:00
AJ Styles v. Low Ki
Low Ki puts him down with an ezuigiri and chops him in the corner, but AJ catches him on a handspring elbow attempt and tries the Clash. Low Ki reverses out of that and chokes him out with a guillotine in the corner, but AJ is in the ropes. They fight on the ropes and Ki knees him down and goes up with a Phoenix splash that misses, which allows AJ to hit the strike combo and a rolling german into a facebuster for the pin at 4:20.
AJ Styles v. Jerry Lynn
Lynn runs in immediately and hits the cradle piledriver on AJ for the pin at 4:41.
Jerry Lynn v. Psicosis
Psi comes in with a missile dropkick for two, but Jerry gets a flying headscissors and follows with a bulldog off the top for two. Psi takes him to the floor with a rana and follows with a tope con hilo. Back in, Psi with a top rope leg lariat for two. Lynn with an inverted DDT for two and cradle piledriver for the pin at 7:41 and Psi has two losses so he’s out.
Low Ki v. Jerry Lynn
Ki comes in throwing kicks for two and drops a Muta power elbow for two, and chops Lynn into the corner with STANK on it. Blind charge hits boot, but Ki gets a top rope rana, and Lynn rolls through for two. So Low Ki pops up and kicks him down again, and Lynn hits his own kick and they slug it out before Lynn hits a backdrop and gets all fired up. They fight on the apron and Lynn legdrops him there, but tries the cradle piledriver and Low Ki reverses into an armbar from the bottom. Lynn powerbombs out of that for two, although Ki clearly forgot to kick out in time. Ki tries the cradle DDT, but Lynn reverses him into a DDT in the corner in a dangerous spot, and comes back with a short arm clothesline to set up the cradle piledriver for the pin at 12:01. Low Ki was so stiff and wild here but looked like a major star in the making, and they went 100 miles an hour here and it was AWESOME. So that leaves…
Jerry Lynn v. AJ Styles
Winner here gets the title, but Lynn hasn’t lost yet so AJ needs to pin him twice. Styles attacks and tries the Styles Clash right away, but Lynn reverses to a rana. So AJ puts him down with a leg lariat for two, but Lynn gets a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Tenay excitedly declares that we’re already 15:00 into the match. Well, 13:00, but close enough I guess. AJ slugs away in the corner and moonsaults off Lynn’s chest, but walks into a DDT that gets two for JL. They fight over a suplex and AJ turns it into a neckbreaker for two. AJ tries a rana out of the corner, but Lynn powerbombs him for two. AJ comes back with the Styles Clash for the pin at 16:25, but that’s only one loss for Lynn. So they do it again.
Jerry Lynn v. AJ Styles
Ricky Steamboat is now special ref, so they do a crazy series of near-fall reversals in tribute and then clothesline each other for a double down. Ed Ferrera is again talking about “putting people over” to show how inside and edgy he is. They fight to the floor and Lynn runs AJ into the railing, but AJ pops up onto the apron and moonsaults into the DDT on the floor because these two are fucking nuts. Back in, that gets two. AJ moonsaults into another DDT, but Lynn reverses THAT into a reverse suplex onto the top rope and follows with a draping DDT for two. Lynn pulls out a spinning vertebreaker attempt, but AJ lands on his feet and tries a rana, which Lynn reverses into a facebuster for two as even this dead hick crowd is up on their feet in shock. Lynn tries a powerbomb but AJ reverses into the ushigoroshi for two. They fight over a suplex and Lynn turns it into a brainbuster for two. Lynn with a sleeper, but AJ escapes with a jawbreaker and goes up. Lynn cuts him off with a superplex for two, but AJ takes him down again and goes up with the SPIRAL TAP to finish and win the first X title at 25:58. Mike Tenay declares that AJ Styles is the future of the sport! Let’s not go crazy here. I mean, maybe if he wins the IWGP and/or WWE titles they might have a point. ****1/2
Anyway, this was actually a fantastic concept for a four-way match and I really wish someone would bring it back because it felt fresh and different, even though “Two losses and you’re eliminated” is a pretty simple concept. This was truly Total Non-Stop Action, as they went in overdrive and the match got better as it went along, and nearly saved the show by itself, although realistically any show with this match is an instant thumbs up regardless of how abysmal the undercard was. And it was pretty abysmal.
Next week: Jarrett & K-Krush v. Hall & Christopher! Shamrock defends the title against Malice! And the tag team titles get decided somehow.