NWA:TNA Rewind 7.18.02

Welcome to NWA:TNA Rewind. Each Thursday, I’ll take a look back at Wednesday night’s PPV, talk about the highs and lows of the show, and where the promotion itself is headed. This new column will definitely have to grow and change, and I would love feedback on the column and the promotion itself.

The Big Surprise

No one knows how to create an internet buzz quite like Vince Russo, and with a couple simple promises on nwatna.com and on an audio show, Russo promised a surprise for the first 15 minutes of the show. A “former NWA champion” was promoted as appearing on the show, and immediately skeptics pointed to Dan Severn or Steve Corino. However, NWA:TNA delivered Sabu, who as a surprise for internet fans is a welcomed sight. His ladder match against Malice wasn’t an HBK/Razor classic, but it was brutal and generally enjoyable and got the event off to a hot start.

Not Those Lips

Last night’s edition of NWA:TNA was the first with Vince Russo publicly contritbuting major ideas, and it was quite evident. The promo’s by K Krush and Brian Lawler, which featured several Russo trademarks (low card guys complaining about being held down, making grandstand challenges that cannot lead to a money match and mocking WWE and Vince McMahon), and the angle with Krush and Norman Smiley’s wife reeked of Russo. Most notably was the overbearing use of profanity in promos by Ken Shamrock, Jerry Lynn and others, and the incredibly high sexual content on the show.

The sexual innuendo and flat-out obvious stuff was overdone last night. It’s great to feature some blatant sexuality to flaunt the fact you are on PPV, but to do so in almost every segment was overkill. From Jasmine St. Yuck’s wet t shirt, to Puppet the Psycho Dwarf jerking off, to the Dupps lude remarks at Goldy Locks and the incestuous Dupp makeout sessions, the whole show was littered with sexuality.

While it is great that NWA:TNA is on PPV and thus has the liberty to do almost whatever they want, the promotion needs to choose an identity and stick with it. When they chose to take the NWA name and promote the World Title belt with a ceremony featuring retired former champions, they made a statement of tradition. The X Division is an attempt at generating a buzz and interest with quality in-ring work, and none of the shock TV that has been so prevalent in WWE and WCW in the past five years. But last night’s show minimized the tradition and innovation, and put an emphasis on the crass. If NWA:TNA is intent on making itself a shocking promotion with smut and cursing, it cannot expect to attract the same audience as it seemed to want in its first four weeks.

X Division

The X Division is the darling of NWA:TNA, and last night’s PPV was largely built around it. There were two matches with X Division wrestlers – The Flying Elvises vs. Chris Daniels and Elix Skipper, and AJ Styles vs. Low Ki – and both delivered in the ring. Some will say that the tag match was a bit sloppy, which it was, and that the X Title match was a bit short and below expectations. However, the X Division still has a feeling of something new, that all the wrestlers are working incredibly hard, and it looks and seems different than anything in WWE. As the WWE has a homogeny across all parts of its card, even grounding its cruiserweights, NWA: TNA has a stark different in styles (no pun intended) between its X Division and heavyweight division.

In addition to delivering in the ring, NWA:TNA has stepped on providing storylines to the X Division. The AJ Styles vs. Jerry Lynn feud is an old school respect feud, although it seems a bit on the rushed side. It will still be great to see every match they face off against each other, while still remaining a team as the Tag Champs. The Flying Elvises are actually involved in two storylines. One where the team feels slighted by the NWA for not being ranked as X Title contenders (since they win all their matches), and another breakup angle with Sonny Siaki headed for an exit.

Speaking of the rankings of the X Division, it’s an interesting idea, and one that again separates the NWA: TNA from WWE. After Low Ki’s clean loss to AJ Styles, Tenay noted how he would invariably move down the rankings, and suggested that the Elvises move up. This emphasis on the importance of in ring wins and losses can really lend credibility to the division, and provide a reason for each X Division match to have meaning. The downside is that it could create discord in the lockerroom for “low ranked” wrestlers, and might do too much to telegraph matches and angles that would come in future weeks.

Limiting Use Of Moves

Something that has bothered me about the first five weeks of NWA:TNA is seeing the same highspots in consecutive matches, or seeing moves used as finishers by some, used as transition moves by others. The most notable example was on last night’s show, several wrestlers used belly to belly suplexes as transitions to other moves, not even trying to cover after the belly to belly. Ken Shamrock, who they are trying to get over as their World Champion, is using the belly to belly as his finisher. While I don’t agree with Shamrocks’ choice of finisher, it weakens it substantially if Elix Skipper uses it in the middle of a match with no fanfare.

The same is true of other moves that seem to be seen in every match on some NWA:TNA shows. I remember in either the first or second show, about three matches featured a Tornado DDT. There needs to be better communication and separation of highspots to make each wrestler and match have unique movesets and trademarks.

The Announcers

I think the announcers for NWA:TNA thusfar have done a very decent job at providing commentary and play by play. I like Mike Tenay as the leader, and Don West cracks me up with his random and uninformed comments. Ed Ferrera has a very generic voice, and has yet to find his niche as a heel announcer. He isn’t a comedy heel like Jerry Lawler, and doesn’t seem to as fully support heels blindly like Jesse Ventura. And I cannot believe Goldy Locks has gotten poor reviews. She has a presense and carries herself extremely well on the mic, putting Pamela Paulshock, Terri and other young woman backstage announcers to shame. Plus she is super hot.

Feedback

Each week on the Rewind I will feature emails and comments from you the 411 reader about the previous night’s NWA show. Send me your comments about the show, my report or commentary or just general thoughts about NWA:TNA.

Allenwoods sent me this live report:

Just thought I’d pass along a few live notes from the TNA show last night.

2 dark matches taped for the Saturday morning show aired in Nashvegas. The Lost BOys beat the Briscoes to retain their titles. Both teams were VERY green!

The Dupps beat a couple of jobberts when the bald jobber turned on the non-bald jobber. Very little pop for this match.

During the show, the biggest pops were for Jeff Jarrett, Jerry Lynn, Scott Hall, Puppet (huge pops throughout the night), Sabu, and the Dupps joke about the interview chick’s “lips”. Strange that two heels (Jarrett and Lynn) got big pops. The fans mostly cheered for the names they recognized. Biggest heat went to K-Krush for his interview and Bert Prentiss (who did commentary on the Saturday show). The biggest pop of all, though, was for CHAD! A guy in crowd (his signs were on tv all night) who was as entertaining as the wrestlers. Crowd was dead for the Elvis match, but towards the end they got a huge “Chad sucks!” chant going. Overall, a fun show.

We’re Outta time

A Tony Schiavone Nitro trademark that has seemingly been on every NWA:TNA broadcast thusfar, so that’s how I will end each of the Rewinds. Send me feedback on NWA:TNA. See you next week for live coverage of NWA:TNA!