I decided to do a good TNA show this week, because believe it or not they did exist. I actually saw this show originally on The Wrestling Channel here in the UK, as they’d just started showing TNA (Even though they were a few months behind) and this show had FWA regular Jonny Storm on it, so they probably thought it was one of the better episodes to lead with when it came to showing the weekly TNA pay per views.
This show has a Super X Tournament, featuring 8 X Division guys from different parts of the world going at it for a trophy. There’s also a War Games match to close things out featuring the Main Event crew.
This was back when TNA was running a weekly pay per view on Wednesdays and was holding all their events in “The Asylum” in Nashville. It’s a pretty pokey building, but they managed to get a passionate bunch of regulars who were prepared to turn up and get into the action, which at least meant these shows normally had some decent atmosphere.
I was actually quite into TNA at the time due to them doing an ECW Invasion earlier in 2003, and because I was ECW starved at the time I thought it was really cool that guys like Saturn, New Jack, Sandman etc were still doing their thing. That got my foot in the door and allowed me to see that America’s Most Wanted were tearing up the tag scene and the X Division guys were having hot matches, which led to me being into the product pretty much until the whole Hogan and Bischoff thing drove me off never to return.
If memory serves, there’s some really good matches on this one, so let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!
The event is emanating from The Asylum in Nashville
Calling the action are Mike Tenay and Don West
We open up with a video package hyping up the War Games match for later. It’s not a bad one either, although it looks a bit on the cheap side. Still, they were trying their best. Shane Douglas’ look of fear at the match announcement was pretty funny.
Lazz Vs Mad Mikey
Lazz is a guy from NWA-Wildside, whose gimmick would appear to be that he’s a cross dresser who wears Sting like make-up. Well, it’s certainly an interesting visual I’ll give him that. Mikey is the former Crash Holly, going under his real first name. His gimmick here was that he had a short temper.
Oh ho, is funny because Mike Lockwood is short in real life! Oh ho hoooooo!
This one is a comedy match, where Lazz goes for the Adrian Street act of doing inappropriate things in the opening sections until Mikey loses his temper and fights back to win with a double arm DDT.
WINNER: MAD MIKEY
Barely a match, but the crowd found Lazz’s antics funny at least
Mike and Don hype up the tournament and show off the trophy. Don is already beet red as he breathlessly goes into shopping channel mode.
Terry Taylor is interviewing Dusty Rhodes backstage, who cuts a promo saying that lots of people have tried to copy War Games, but tonight will be the genuine article. Dusty will have the key later on. This was Dusty Rhodes cutting a fired up promo about something, so it was pretty much good by proxy.
Super X Tournament – Quarter Final
Juventud Guerrera Vs Nosawa
Juvy of course had a considerable run in WCW until going nuts in Australia and getting sacked. Nosawa worked a lot in Mexico and dated Io Shirai for a while. They were both actually arrested at one stage under suspicion of smuggling weed into Japan, but another wrestler called Takuya Sugi eventually admitted to planting it. Of course Juvy would have never been in such a predicament because he probably would have just taken the drugs before getting on the plane to begin with.
Juvy is over with the crowd and his stuff looks good too, as he runs wild on Nosawa to start. Juvy gets a nice dive out to the floor, but Nosawa takes over back inside with some good looking kicks. Juvy replies with a fantastic looking move where he gets Nosawa in a pumphandle and then flips him over into a face buster, before getting The People’s Elbow of all things for two. Well, he did use to copy The Rock’s promos in WCW, so I guess he kept the gag going on the Indies.
Nosawa gets one more quick flurry following that, but Juvy shrugs that off and gets the Juvy Driver before heading up to the top for a 450 Splash, which not surprisingly puts the game Japanese lad down for three.
WINNER: JUVENTUD GUERRERA
Fun stuff, but it was a bit abrupt
It’s of course TO THE BACK following that, where Taylor is with Father James Mitchell. Mitchell says he’s taught Raven all about pain recently, but next he’s going to have to learn about loss when Shane Douglas takes his hair. Hot take I know, but James Mitchell is a great sinister villain. The former Disco Inferno Glenn Gilberti shows up, and is annoyed because he thinks Mitchell isn’t taking the War Games match seriously enough.
Super X Tournament – Quarter Final
Teddy Hart Vs Jonny Hart
Hart is a supremely talented wrestler who will probably be most remembered for how much he messed up his own career due to his own ludicrous behaviour and attitude. Storm was a regular for the FWA in England and had been getting some exposure in the USA and Japan due to working for companies like XPW, CZW and ROH.
Hart jumps Storm almost as soon as he gets in the ring and mostly dominates the match, although Storm does get a bit of offence in, including a very nice cannon ball dive to the outside. Hart catches him with a cutter back inside though when he goes for a clothesline off the top, and that’s pretty much it for Storm in the match, as Hart gets a big Asai moonsault to the floor and the crowd goes nuts for it. Storm does get one more move in, his pumphandle styled flipping slam called The Wonder Whirl, but Hart shrugs that off and heads up with a graceful as heck Shooting Star Press for the three count
WINNER: TEDDY HART
Same issue as the last match really, where they didn’t have a lot of time and it kind of led to a one sided match. Storm looked good for the few moments he was able to do something though.
Hart has barely celebrated when it’s TO THE BACK, where Sonny Siaki and Trinity are giving NWA Tag Champs Simon & Swinger a team talk. They look less than impressed and are about to attack Siaki, but Shane Douglas enters and puts over how dangerous the match is. That was a good promo from Douglas actually, and he didn’t even swear once!
Super X Tournament – Quarter Final
Chris Sabin Vs Jerry Lynn
Sabin had been X Division Champion for a bit in 2003, whilst Lynn had spent the recent months feuding with Justin Credible and had then moved on to a feud with Don Callis. This one is another sprint, as Sabin attacks Lynn as soon as he gets in the ring and they go right to the big moves. The action is really good, with Lynn showing some good intensity whilst Sabin actually makes an effort to work as a heel by bailing and neck snapping Lynn on the top rope.
We head into the near falls, with Lynn getting two from a TKO and then arguing with the referee, which leads to Don Callis appearing in the entrance way and telling Lynn he will fire him if he hits the ref (Callis had some form of authority during this period, but he wasn’t the top authority figure), which allows Sabin to kick Lynn right in the St Pauls to pick up the three count.
WINNER: CHRIS SABIN
This was only barely more of a match than the opener was. The action itself was good, but the finish was screwy and it felt super rushed in general.
Say it with me; it’s TO THE BACK, where Raven is with his Gathering of Julio Dinero and CM Punk, getting interviewed by Taylor. Raven had a great match with AJ Styles for the World Title the previous week until Mitchell and Douglas cheated him. Raven says that he will need to eliminate those two before he will be free to go after the Title. He also says that they will absolutely not be taking his hair, and that he’s more dangerous now than he was before. Extra, Extra, Raven in cutting great promo shocker!
Super X Tournament – Quarter Final
Frankie Kazarian Vs X Division Champ Michael Shane
Shane had won the Title in the first ever Ultimate X match, which had also featured Kazarian and Sabin. Kazarian’s whole thing here was that he’d be able to defeat whoever the X Champ was in non-Title matches, but when the belt was on the line he just wasn’t able to get it done for various reasons.
This is back and forth action to start, with both men trading the initiative and Kazarian showing some good fire as he tees off on Shane with punches in the corner. The work is good and both men have some decent chemistry together, and in fact they would go on to team together at one stage. Eventually Kazarian counters a Shane powerbomb attempt into a rana and hooks in the pin for the three count.
WINNER: FRANKIE KAZARIAN
More abbreviated, yet fun, action
TO THE BACK, where Taylor is with NWA Champ AJ Styles and Vince Russo. AJ was a heel at the time and Russo was managing him. It was a surprisingly effective pairing actually. AJ thinks this War Games match is unfair and he shouldn’t be in it. Russo thinks AJ’s team won’t even help him, because they will all want to win his belt, but he promises he will keep AJ safe somehow.
Super X Tournament – Semi Final
Teddy Hart Vs Juventud Guerrera
This match has quite the reputation and it is the one most tend to talk about when it comes to this show. Thankfully they can finally allow these matches to have a bit more time now that we’re into the latter stages, and the crowd is into both men. The action is super quick, with both men countering and dodging one another, with it being really good but stopping just short of looking overly rehearsed, which can sometimes be the case with these kinds of matches.
Hart actually does some mat wrestling and submission holds at one stage, and the crowd appreciates it, especially when he adds some flash to it as well, like doing a flying head scissors into a Fujiwara arm bar. The fight heads outside, where Hart moonsaults onto Juvy from the railings around ringside, but Juvy fights off the Asai moonsault Hart hit on Storm in the Quarters and then dives out with a twisting body press into the aisle-way.
The big moves continue, with Juvy getting a rana off the top rope back into the ring, but Hart is able to kick out at two. The near falls keep coming, with Hart showing guts to survive Juvy’s big moves and then gets the Jig N Tonic before heading up top for a Sky Twister Press, which only gets two in a fabulous near fall. Juvy bails following that to catch his breath, but Hart follows and this time manages to get the Asai moonsault, getting some insane elevation in the process.
Hart sells his knee following that though, and that allows Juvy to regain control back inside with a front dropkick for two. Hey, what’s this psychology stuff doing in my high spot match?! Juvy continues to steal moves from The Rock, getting a Uranage Slam for two. All he needs to do is a terrible Sharpshooter and he will have officially stolen Rock’s entire move set! Hart replies with a bonkers looking backflip DDT off the top rope and heads up again with the SSP, but he sells his leg on impact, which allows Juvy to head up for the 450. Hart stops that and the two fight up there, which leads to Juvy giving Hart a taste of the Spring Stampede’s 99 with the Juvy Driver from up there for the three count.
WINNER: JUVENTUD GUERRERA
Not only did this match have some of the hottest moves you’ll see, but it also had some actual selling and storytelling in it as well, with Hart’s leg injury eventually making the difference due to him not being able to follow up on the Shooting Star Press. Bigger and flashier matches have come since, but this was pretty cutting edge in the West at the time and this match deserves the reputation it has for being an excellent outing, because it totally held up for me on this viewing
We don’t even get time to let that incredible match sink in as its TO THE BACK, where Mike and Don are firing off quick fire questions to Kevin Northcutt and Ryan Wilson, who were tagging as Red Shirt Security at the time. Basically, they are the bad guy security guards who help out the heels, whilst the Black Shirt Security are the good security who help out the faces. Russo did something similar in WCW I think by giving the New Blood group their own security detail who worked exclusively for them. I’m not sure what Russo’s fascination with that gimmick was, but there you go.
Super X Tournament – Semi Final
Chris Sabin Vs Frankie Kazarian
Kazarian has changed the colour of his trunks in a nice touch here. These two had been feuding quite a lot building up to this, with Kazarian never being quite able to take the X Title from Sabin, and when it finally looked like he would, Michael Shane ended up taking it instead in the Ultimate X match. They go at it hammer and tongs here, showing good fire, and Sabin actually suplexes Kazarian out down to the floor at one stage before going for a dive, but Kazarian pulls down the ropes to stop that and then DDT’s him onto the apron.
The big bumps don’t cease for Sabin, as Kazarian gives him a sunset flip bomb down to the floor off the apron following that, which gets two back inside the ring. These two have fantastic chemistry, with some of the counters being super slick and looking great. They trade control, with both man getting moments where he has the upper hand, but it doesn’t last long and the other guy always fights back.
We head into the finishing stretch, where Sabin kicks out of the Wave of the Future (Sister Abigail) and then replies with a Muscle Buster for a two of his own. The big moves continue, with Kazarian giving Sabin a Spanish Fly for a double down, and then they do a modified version of the Bret/Owen finish from Mania X, where Kazarian goes for a victory roll but Sabin rolls through and that’s enough for the clean pin.
WINNER: CHRIS SABIN
TO THE BACK, where Taylor is with the America’s Most Wanted team of James Storm and Chris Harris. Simon & Swinger recently cheated them out of the tag belts, and they’re fired up for the War Games. This was a tad generic, but a generally decent white meat babyface promo. Kid Kash and Abyss interrupt looking to cause bother, and that leads to Kash slapping Taylor as they were feuding at the time.
Super X Tournament Final
Chris Sabin Vs Juventud Guerrera
Jeremy Borash does the announcements in the ring here, looking like a reject from a late 90’s boyband. In a refreshing change of pace, they don’t go straight to a jumpstart and instead take some time to do some story stuff with Sabin stalling and slapping Juvy before they work some holds. Having every match start super quick was fun, but it was also getting a bit samey too, so building things in a bit more of a patient manner is appreciated.
Like in previous matches in the tournament, the momentum switches between both men, with neither really doing what you’d consider a proper heel heat segment. The crowd is into the action, and seems to really want Juvy to win, even though he’s not a TNA regular like Sabin is. Sabin does slow things down a bit with some holds on occasion, with the idea being to get the crowd to clap and chant for Juvy, which works and leads to Juvy getting an Ocean Cyclone Suplex for two.
They do a really good fish-tails pin sequence, where they both keeping getting roll ups until they collapse for a double down. That was fabulous! They do some more counter sequences and they are great also, with the timing being spot on and both men gradually getting across how tired they are as the match continues on. This one feels like a contest that happens to have some really hot moves, rather than just being a collection of hot moves like some of the Quarter Finals felt like, and that’s improved it massively for me.
Juvy gets a terrifying spiked sit out Tiger Driver at one stage, which looked like it killed Sabin, but Sabin kicks out at two in a fantastic near fall. The crowd are hugely into these near falls and seem to be just cheering both men in general due to how great the match has been. Some of the selling has been great too, as they have to drag themselves back up after the big moves now due to how exhausted and beat up they are. Juvy heads up top, but Sabin brings him down with a superplex and drapes an arm for two.
Both men trade school boys and Juvy gets the Juvy Driver before heading up top for the 450 Splash, which he makes contact on, but Sabin gets his foot on the rope at the last minute, which protects the move and also works great at showing Sabin to be resourceful. Juvy tries to put Sabin away, but Sabin slips out of his move and then delivers a Fisherman’s Buster for the three count.
WINNER OF THE TOURNAMENT: CHRIS SABIN
This was even better than the Hart/Juvy match for me actually, as they were given a bit more time to tell more of a story and the selling throughout was spot on. Sabin really looked the part here and definitely gained something from the win
Sabin gets given his trophy but we barely get time to see him celebrate until we cut to a video package for Roddy Piper of all people. Bloody hell TNA, can you just let something breathe for once?!
Don hypes up a $0.01 pay per view for next week, which will be a “best of” show featuring some of the best matches of the year.
Wednesday Bloody Wednesday
Guest Referee: Erik Watts
Simon Diamond, Johnny Swinger, Shane Douglas, Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles w/ Vince Russo
America’s Most Wanted, Raven, Jeff Jarrett and D’Lo Brown w/ Dusty Rhodes
Wednesday, Bloody Wednesday!
They’ve combined War Games with Raven’s “Clockwork Orange” gimmick match, which means there are weapons in the cage also. Watts was also the babyface authority figure at the time, so he brings down Konnan, Road Dogg and R-Truth to do the Time Keeping, Ring Announcing and Rind Attending respectively.
Daniels was feuding with Jarrett at the time, so those two start us out. The problem with this one is that they only have one ring and ten entrants, which means it starts getting really hard to do stuff in there once the numbers in the cage start increasing. Daniels and Jarrett don’t even get in the cage right away and instead brawl outside in the crowd, before finally getting in as Don Callis comes down to join the commentary booth. Daniels doesn’t look out of place in the Main Event scene like this, but once this Jarrett feud was done with he ended up heading back to the X Division.
The heels of course win the coin flip, which leads to AJ and Daniels getting to go two on one with Jarrett, using the weapons to work him over. Daniels desperately tries to set a table up, but it takes forever to get it down and by the time he has it set up, Chris Harris joins the match to even it up. Daniels and AJ fend him off long enough to finally put Jarrett through the table, just as Diamond comes down to make it three on two. Jarrett has been busted open from one of the weapon shots, as five people is already probably too many people to have in there.
Harris and Daniels also bleed, as D’Lo Brown comes down for the faces. He had been feuding with AJ over the Title for a while in the months preceding this. The brawling is fine here for the most part, as Douglas joins us for the heels to make it four on three. Aside from the lack of space to do stuff, this has pretty much bean what you’d want from a War Games, with copious amounts of blood and violence, and the heels controlling when the numbers are odd only for the faces to rally once the numbers are even. That’s really all you have to do with this match and I don’t know why people overthink it so much sometimes.
Storm evens things up for the faces, as it looks like Diamond is also bleeding. Jarrett guitars Daniels to get even with him, and Daniels sells it fantastically. Swinger ends up playing the unusual role of being his team’s tank by coming out last, whilst Douglas shows why he was the Dean by just wandering around and hitting people with weapons without taking any real punishment himself. The heels have the faces down which means we’ve reached,
Yes, that. This is of course the cue for Raven to limp down as the fifth and final man for the babyface team, at which point the Match Beyond begins. With eleven guys in their including Watts, the match becomes a bit of a mess now, with it being impossible for anything to really have focus because all the guys are basically on top of one another. In a funny moment, AJ seems at a loss as to what to do, so he just casually whacks some of the faces with a metal bin lid whilst sporting a quizzical look on his face.
There are so many points in the match where one wrestler will be slumped in the corner and another will hit them with a weapon, turn around to see if there’s any room to do anything, realise there isn’t and just hit them again for want of anything else to do. Eventually we get Finisher Madness™, where two people will walk into the middle and do a spot whilst everyone else waits in the corners, and that all leads to Jarrett giving AJ the Stroke off the top rope, followed by a splash and leg drop from D’Lo and Harris respectively, which gives Jarrett the three count.
WINNERS: TEAM DUSTY
Started out as a decent brawl, but it really needed two rings to work and by the end it was a mess
We don’t even have time to focus on Jarrett pinning AJ, as a bunch of people swarm ringside and attack Dusty, leading to a big brawl between seemingly the whole roster, which ends with Douglas cutting off some of Raven’s hair as the show comes to a close.
The Super X Tournament was good fun and featured three stonking matches, so that’s enough for an easy thumbs up, but the constant TO THE BACK and A.D.D production left a bit of a sour taste.
TNA. Even when they do something good they contrive to take the sheen off it somehow