FIVE YEARS LATER – The SmarK Rant For NWA: TNA #1

The SmarK Rant for NWA: Total Nonstop Action #1
Originally posted on 06.22.2002.

– I got the tape for this on Thursday, but I’ve been going through the very stressful and irritating ritual of apartment-hunting for the past few days and that’s why the Smackdown rant pretty much sucked. I didn’t want to review this show until I had enough time and low enough blood pressure to actually sit down and give it a fair viewing. So yes, if I sounded completely distracted and zoned out for the Smackdown rant, I was. And I decided to completely avoid any reviews of this show on the ‘net, just to make sure I was being totally fair about it.

– Live from Huntsville, Alabama.

– Your hosts are Mike Tenay, Ed Ferrera (looking like Rocco Rock) and some guy named Don West who I guess does a shopping channel thing in the US, but adds nothing but excess carbon dioxide to this show.

– We kick things off with the legends ceremony. Bob Armstrong looks older than dirt – I mean, geez, even a few years ago in SMW he still looked 40, but holy crap did he take a fast train on the grey-hair express. Bill Behrens doesn’t really meet my personal qualifications for a legend. Ricky Steamboat gives a nice speech to put the belt over, but Jeff Jarrett interrupts and points out that running a battle royale for the NWA title is a stupid idea. That’s a great move, Jeff. Jackie Fargo rambles incoherently in response. Ken Shamrock, with sideburns on loan from the National Civil War Recreation Society, also thinks the match will suck. Well, this just fills me with confidence. Scott Hall emerges from the audience, looking like a bigger star than everyone else, and he too agrees that the match will suck. Okay, great start, guys.

– Meanwhile, Puppet the midget cuts his usual good wrestling promo.

– Opening match: AJ Styles, Low-Ki & Jerry Lynn v. Jimmy Yang, Jorge Estrada & Sonny Siaki. The foreign contingent would all be dressed as Elvis. Now THAT’S high-concept comedy. Sonny Siaki is actually quite large and looks like a good fit for the freakish Titan world. The Elvii attack but get highspotted to death. Styles powerslams Yang for two. Yang comes back with a faceplant and a nasty leg lariat for two, which Tenay calls a “Hunka Hunka Burning Leg Lariat”. Tornado DDT, but Yang no-sells and gets an enzuigiri, which is known as the “In the Ghetto Blaster”. The Elvii work Lynn over, but Siaki misses a legdrop and Lynn headscissors him. Lynn gets a Rube Goldberian DDT for two. Low-Ki comes in, but walks into a neckbreaker (“Neckbreak Hotel”, apparently), which gets two. He comes back with a superkick, but Siaki gives him a body-vice drop (“Backbreak Hotel”) and that gets two. Samoan drop sets up an Estrada moonsault (“Blue Moonsault Over Kentucky”) and that gets two. They head up and Estrada gets his own version of Neckbreak Hotel off the top, for two. Low-Ki dropkicks the knee and gets a buzzsaw-like kick, hot tag Styles. AJ & Yang collide, but Styles gets an inverted DDT for two. (“It’s almost like an inverted DDT!”, sez Mike). Yang comes back with another Hunka Hunka Burning Leg Lariat for two. A rydien bomb, rather quaintly renamed by Tenay into the “Peanut Butter and Banana Bomb”, gets two. Lynn gets the cradle piledriver, but Siaki DDTs him, but Styles kicks him, but Low-Ki kicks HIM by mistake, and Yang finishes Styles with a twisting senton off the top at 6:26. Spot-tastic and it didn’t hang around long enough to wear out it’s welcome, like say a recapper making up retarded Elvis-related movenames and blaming it on Mike Tenay might. ***

– MIDGET MEGALOMANIA! – Hollywood v. Teo. Hollywood attacks, but Teo chops away in the corner. He goes low (down where? WAAAAAAAAY down there) and hammers away. Hollywood comes back with a Michinoku Driver for two. Teo rolls him up for two. Hollywood goes to the top for a Tadpole Splash, and that gets two. Bad-looking miscommunication follows and Teo legsweeps him to set up a swanton that misses by two feet but apparently has enough residual force ringing through the mat to stun Hollywood and get the pin at 2:51. I don’t rate midget matches.

– Ed Ferrera & Don West give us a thrilling sneak peek of the lingerie whatever next week, bringing out hordes of washed-up (and probably unwashed) skanks and hos who look like they were plucked off the streets just for this show. That includes Francine and Elektra, but not the lovely and talented Daffney, who sadly has nothing to do here. Elektra and Francine get into a thrilling verbal confrontation, although it’s hard to follow because every time Francine turns to the side she disappears. SMELL THE RATINGS! Oh, wait, that’s just Francine, sorry.

– Meanwhile, some manager named Mortimer Plumtree does his best Dean Douglas imitation and introduces us to the Johnsons.

– Richard & Rod Johnson v. Psychosis & Cowboy James Storm. Ferrara steals my bit about cowboy gimmicks being outlawed in 1992, but it’s a good bit so I’ll forgive him. One of the Johnsons pounds on Psychosis (can’t we just call him “Nicho” like they do in Mexico, which two advantages: 1) It sounds like a villain from a Clint Eastwood western and is thus cool, and 2) It’s easier to type.) and gets a butterfly suplex for two. Psychosis gets a leg lariat and the Johnsons bail. Alicia Webb, who has gone through ANOTHER transformation and now looks nothing like either Ryan Shamrock OR Symphony, joins us at ringside to rehash the Stacy Keibler role as Miss Hancock. Back in, a Johnson pounds away on Storm. He comes back and Psychosis comes in to chop away. I’d go for the obvious penis jokes, but really I couldn’t possibly be any less funny than Ed Ferrera, so why even try? The Johnsons double-team Psychosis and toss him around, and dang if that don’t go on for a good spell, Jethro. Psychosis reverses a powerbomb, because apparently you can’t powerbomb him either, and makes the hot tag to Storm. I wasn’t even aware we had entered the face-in-peril portion of things. It’s kinda Bonzo and maybe a little gonzo, but I don’t have much enthusiasm about it. The Johnsons stereo-suplex them, however. Storm goes up for a tornado DDT, but Plumtree trips him up and one of the Johnsons does whatever, which the camera misses, and gets the pin at 4:48. I personally am disappointed with the Johnsons’ gimmick – they looked nothing like Kevin Nash or Shawn Michaels! ½*

– Meanwhile, the Dupps drink beer and harass the bimbo who’s playing interviewer.

– Jeremy brings out some race-car drivers as audiences all over PPV-land go “click”, then realize it’s a PPV and they’re paying $9.95 for it, click back, realize what they’re paying $9.95 for, go get a beer to try to forget, realize the fridge is out of beer, then just go “f*ck it” and head over to the store to get more beer while K-Krush and Brian Christopher stir the racial pot. By the time our hypothetical viewer has returned, the sketch is over and thus I don’t need to review it.

– Meanwhile, Jeff Jarrett tries to kill Jackie Fargo. Good luck there – Mother Nature’s been trying for like 70 years with no luck so far.

– Christian York & Joey Matthews v. The Dupps (Stan & Bo). Okay, I get the joke with “Stan Dupp”, but what the hell is “Bo Dupp” supposed to translate to? The Dupps beat down Joey to start, but York saves and cleans house. Double-suplex gets two. Stan gets a full-nelson slam and Bo pounds away on Matthews. Big boot and splash get two. Joey gets a neckbreaker on Stan, and tags abound. York takes on both and dodges a buttdrop. Senton gets two on Bo. Tornado DDT, and York goes up, but Fluff Dupp forgets her cue or something and the poor guy has to stand around up there so long that Ed Ferrera grows dreadlocks in the meantime (ha ha ha ha ha ha no) until she crotches him and Bo gets the pin at 3:40. LAAAAAME. ½* York & Matthews have a major problem (and not just that half of their offense consists of them posing and going AAAAAAAAARGH like they’re passing a kidney stone or something) in that they’re too buff to be teen idols. Part of the appeal of guys like Jeff Hardy and Ricky Morton is that they look so skinny and helpless that every woman in the audience assumes that they’re gonna die out there and thus wants to mother and protect them. Christian York looks like just another pumped up wrestler. Who cares if he gets killed or not, he can take it.

– We get a video of country guy Toby Keith (no relation, unless there’s something my grandparents aren’t telling me), and god knows there’s no better way to get a good review out of me than putting a f*cking COUNTRY MUSIC VIDEO on there. Yee haw. Quick oldie but goodie: What happens when you play country music backwards? You get your dog back, your wife back, your truck back and your house back.

– And hey, it’s more of Toby, as he sings live and I fast-forward from the dog to the house until Jeff Jarrett (what’s with the guy, is he related to the promoter or something oh nevermind) breaks things up and DEMANDS that the battle royale start right now.

– Gauntlet for the Gold: Jeff Jarrett is #1, and Buff Bagwell is #2. Buff earns his pay for the evening by hitting his finisher and then getting tossed to put the boss over. Make sure you say “Yes sir, thank you sir” when you collect your paycheque and go home, Marc. Lard LaRoux is #3, and Jarrett beats on him outside and then tosses him over the top rope to end that threat. Whew, this has been a barnburner so far. Norman Smiley is #4, and he dances right into an elimination. Apollo is #5 (although for maximum gag value he should have been #13) and he’s a big dude. He powerbombs Jeff and gets a neckbreaker, but can’t toss him. Of course not, he’s got NEPO-POWER! K-Krush is #6 and saves Jarrett. The crack announcing team speculates as to the relationship there. Maybe the big plot next week will be that Jeff Jarrett is secretly BLACK! He can start hitting people with gimmicked buckets of friend chicken instead of guitars. TUNE IN NEXT WEEK! Krush gets his ridiculously overblown axe kick on Apollo, and the heels work him over. Some guy named Slash is #7. Well, no funny hat, so it’s not Saul. Apollo backdrops him and gets a DDT. The heels triple-team Apollo until Del Rios, who has pathetically been made up to look like Scott Steiner, enters the fray at #8. Del actually used to be a pretty decent worker called Spellbinder back in the USWA’s heyday in the early 90s, and had the inside track on a WWF job until he got one dark match so hideous that they never wanted to see him again. The gimmick involved him doing parlor tricks to intimidate his foe. I cannot make this shit up – he would do shit like the endless-hankie-from-the-sleeve trick and this was supposed to scare the crap out of the jobber, I guess. His name was Fantasia, but the magician gimmick idea eventually morphed into the character that became voodoo hypnotist Baron Samedi, which was the original gimmick given to Charles Wright before it settled into Papa Shango. Which is weird, because “Fantasia” actually was used in WCW as potential gimmick names twice – once with Brad Armstrong in the character that became “Badstreet” due to potential legal trouble with Disney, and once with Jerry Lynn in the character that became “Mr. JL”. So there you go. Anyway, the guy sucks now. It should be noted that in no other sport do you see this sort of thing happening – you don’t go to a minor-league hockey game and see the promoter having a guy wearing “99” and leaving his sweater untucked on one side in hopes of drawing some extra money. Justice is #9, and I don’t know him either, but he appears to be Rhyno without the beard and without the toned body. Hey, dawg, check all dis punching and kicking, word. Jarrett & Slash work over Apollo. Konnan is #10, and he goes right after Jarrett, and Rios, and having exhausted his entire two-move offense he falls into the corner and gets stomped down by Slash. Joel Gertner reads us a poem and introduces “Bruce” from the Rainbow Express – played by Alan Funk at #11. Rick Steiner is #12 and he wastes no time in getting right to being an asshole, hitting a bunch of guys with stiff clotheslines. Slash is gone. Justice is gone. Malice (The Wall minus 100 pounds, plus one gimmick name that sounds like a TV movie title) is #13 and he establishes himself by chucking Bruce, Krush, Rios, Konnan and Steiner. Hall is #14 and he clean house. Razor’s Edge for Jarrett, but he doesn’t take advantage. Toby Keith makes an appearance to suplex Jarrett and Hall tosses him. Toby leaves, having served his revenge cold. Apollo & Hall work Malice over with chops. Apollo & Hall appear to be dressed exactly alike. Tag team partner or rehab sponsor? TUNE IN NEXT WEEK TO FIND OUT! “Who The Fuck Is” Chris Harris is #15, but Vampire Warrior hits the ring at #16 right away, because I think I read somewhere in an Anne Rice novel that one of the rules of vampirism is that stopwatches don’t apply to them. Devon Storm is #17 and he’s the proverbial house of fire. I myself am the proverbial house of bored out of my f*cking mind watching this shit. Steve Corino is #18 and he’s still clinging to that blonde hair and beard like an 18-year old kid clinging to a security blanket from kindergarten. Maybe he should ask to borrow Ken Shamrock’s sideburns. Still nothing going on. Ken Shamrock is #19 and he kicks everyone. Malice no-sells and slams him. More standing around. Brian Christopher is #20 and he tosses Harris, Storm, Vampire and Corino. Malice chokeslams him to stop the path of rage. Shamrock finishes the job, and Malice backdrops Apollo and Hall out at 31:08, leaving

– NWA World title: Ken Shamrock v. Malice. If you’re gonna push a WCW reject, why not make it Shamrock v. Hall so at least there’s some name value? Get your money’s worth out of the guy for pete’s sake. Malice stomps away and gets a sideslam for two. Suplex gets two. He blocks a sunset flip and hammers away (I knew he’d do that, not because of my latent precognitive powers, but because the ring is miked so loud that every time Malice calls a spot you can hear it six channels over), but Shamrock blocks a chokeslam with a cross armlock. Cute. Malice makes the ropes. Anklelock, but he makes the ropes again. Ken keeps on the leg and chokes away on the ropes as the camera zooms in on them for dramatic effect and practically records their plans to go for dinner afterwards in the process, and sure enough as promised by Malice, he goes for a chokeslam and Ken reverses to a belly-to-belly suplex for the pin at 5:46. The NWA: We’re so old-school that our World title changes hands via a transition move! Call it *1/2 for the whole 40 minutes.

The Bottom Line: Looks like another WWA to me. More recycled WCW rejects, more of the same booking, more of the same indy-level gimmicks and indy-level bad matches. This is not an alternative, it’s just more watered-down sports entertainment. Using the same faces under three new initials does not equal a better product.

Thumbs way down for NWA: Total Nonstop Ass.

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