FIVE YEARS LATER – NWA: TNA Report 6.19.02

Five years ago today, TNA debuted on PPV with weekly Wednesday night shows for $9.95. For former WCW fans frustrated with WWE booking of the Invasion, TNA was the first and thus far only alternative to Vince McMahon’s view of professional wrestling. This is my live report of the show, done in realtime as it aired on June 19th 2002…

NWA: TNA Report 6.19.02
Live From Huntsville, AL
Announcers are Ed Ferrera, Mike Tenay and Don West
Report by Widro

The set is not too bad, and the production is about on par with WCW so far. It’s not super foggy and the sound is clear.

Ed Ferrera, looking crazy with dreadlocks and a mic, comes down to ringside and talks about wanting to see TNA, and he doesn’t just mean Total Nonstop Action. Har.

Announcers are Mike Tenay, Ferrera and Don West, who hype the show, and Gauntlet for the Gold match and rules. 90 second intervals for a Royal Rumble type match, and the last two face each other in a regular match.

Jeremy Borash is in the ring, introducing the legends. Harley Race is first. Then Dory Funk Jr. Next is. Jackie Fargo (called by Mike Tenay as first ballot Wrestling Observer Hall of Famer). Next is an old couple I didn’t catch the name of. Bill Behrens. Finally is Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, who has the title belt!

He has the mic, and talks about the prestige of the title. It was his dream, and he finally won it against Ric Flair in Chicago in 1989. He talks with some passion about the title. Then some music plays, and here out pops Jeff Jarrett, and he bashes the idea of the Gauntlet for the Gold. He and the legends argue. Jackie Fargo tells JJ to kiss his ass. Fargo does some kind of strut, and Tenay has an orgasm that Fargo has does his trademarked strut. Fargo then books Jarrett as the #1 entrant in Gauntlet for the Gold (GFTG). Apparently Jackie Fargo has match making power. Jarrett is upset, and then Ken Shamrock comes out. He has long sideburns and cuts a promo about how Jarrett will have to deal with him. Next out is Scott Hall from the crowd, and he does his trademarked “Hey Yo”. None of the three like the idea of a battle royal for the belt. Scott Hall says everyone will have to deal with him. So the talent starts out by bashing the promotion, interesting

Goldilocks, who is a hot interviewer like Pamela Paulshock, and she has Puppet

Jerry Lynn, AJ Styles, Low Ki and vs. The Flying Elvis Impersonators (Sonny Siaki, Jimmy Yang, Jorge Estrada)
Chaos to start, and Styles powerslams Yang in the ring. Next week is a round robin tournamenet to crowd the first ever X CHAMPION. Lynn tags in, and goes to work on Yang. Tilt a whirl backbreaker. Tornado DDT by Lynn, but Yang no sells and dropkicks Lynn. West occasionally blurts out something like “THAT WAS INCREDIBLE GUYS”. Tenay talks about the Yung Dragons history for Yang. Lynn with a head scissors takeover. “NOW THIS IS WHAT I CALL TOTAL NONSTOP ACTION” Bulldog by Lynn. Siaki and Low Ki go at it, sick backbreaker by Siaki, and some double teaming on Low Ki, including a split legged moonsault by Estrada. Neckbreaker off the top rope by Estrada. “LOOK AT THESE MOVES!” Running senton by Siaki. Low Ki up and does some stiff kicks on Estrada. Both are down, both tag, Yang and Styles tagged in. Styles goes to work on Yang. Inverse DDT by Styles. German suplex, Yang lands on his feet, and then a “flying leg attack” called by Tenay. Low Ki is in against Yang. Tidal Crest (Cartwheel kick) by Low Ki sends Yang to the floor. Siaki in, Low Ki kicks him, Lynn in and hits the cradle DDT on Siaki. Match is breaking down, high spots are everywhere. Yang Time – twisting moonsault by Yang on Styles and he gets the pin!
Winners: Flying Elvis Impersonators

The ladies dance at the entrance in cages

Hardcore Midget Match
TEO vs. Hollywood
Hollywood attacks as TEO posture on the corner. TEO quickly rebounds and goes to work. 10 count punch along. Tenay puts over Rey Mysterio Jr as TEO’s idol, and how he was originally approached to wrestle as a midget, but instead became a big star. Hollywood goes up top, and hits a frog splash! TEO kicks out! Side Russian legsweep by TEO. He goes up to the top rope. Twisting Senton off the top and he gets the win.
Winner: TEO

The TNA girls dance.

Ed Ferrara and Don West are in the ring. Ferrera has a purple shirt on, and West has a Hawaiian shirt. Ferrera hypes a lingerie battle royal for next week. So they preview it for us, and they call all the girls to the ring. First, Francine. Joanie. West: YOU KNEW HER IN ECW, UH UH, I MEAN WCW AS DAFFNEY, WE GIVE YOU, SHANNON! Alexis Marie, Sasha, Erin, Elektra, Taylor (not tough enough), Teresa. Wow, what a lineup of stripper-looking trash. Francine has a mic. She calls Don West “pudgy” and says none of these ladies can compare to her. Some other lady has a mic, and says Extreme isn’t in the title here, because that company is out of business. Francine attacks her, and they have a pull apart. Francine flees, has a mic again and says she’ll be crowned the first Miss TNA. Don West holds back the other girl.

Goldilocks is backstage with Mortimer Plumtree. He looks like a preppie dork type with a paddle. He brought his tag team, they do what he tells him. He brings you his tag team: The Johnsons.

The Johnsons w/Mortimer Plumtree vs. Psicosis and Cowboy James Storm
Tenay says Plumtree has been the center of internet controversy. Huh? Who ever heard of him? Richard and Rod Johnson. Dick and Rod, ho HOO the hilarity. James Storm looks like a poor man’s Joe Gomez. He has a cap gun and he fires it in the corner to the fans! I’m not making this up. The Johnsons are dressed in full bodysuits. They are pretty big, and have masks as well. Psicosis starts against one of the Johnsons. Butterfly suplex. Snap suplex and Psicosis is down for 2. Alicia wanders down to the ringside, and Tenay says that she was in WCW with the Maestro! Shoutout to Strozilla! The Johnsons are dominating, and when their opponents get a move in, they switch because they look the same. Storm skins the cat on the top rope after being clotheslined over the top, then does a bulldog on a Johnson. Double pancake by the Johnsons on Psicosis. Plumtree is an old school heel manager, yelling at the faces, and directing his team. Rana by Psicosis OH MAN NOW THAT’S INCREDIBLE. Storm with an enziguri. Johnsons back up, and do a dueling belly to belly on the faces. Ferrera is making Johnson jokes, but is delivering them as if he is mocking the idea. One Johnson does a top rope slam of some sort on Storm and gets the pin.
Winners: Johnsons

Alicia confronts the referee Slick Johnson after the match, and finally he gives her a wad of money.

The Dupps find Goldilocks backstage, and they find some cute girl who is one of their girlfriends. They open some beers, and some old guy tells them they can’t drink backstage, because they don’t want drunk wrestlers in the ring. Goldilocks leaves disgusted.

Borash in the ring, introduces Sterling Marlin, who gets a big pop. With him is Hermie Sadler. Borash interviews Marlin about NASCAR, but then K Crush (K Kwick) comes out and runs down NASCAR and says they aren’t athletes like wrestlers are. Hermie Sadler yells at K Crush about how he looks like a punk. Sadler says there are a lot of NASCAR fans in Huntsville Alabama, and they KNOW these guys are athletes. They argue, Crush goes to attack Sadler, but out comes Brian Christopher to make the save. He has the goggles. The NASCAR guys toss Crush over the top rope. Brian on the mic, he cuts a Grand Master Sexay style promo. He challenges K Crush for a match for next week.

Backstage, Jeff Jarrett chokes Jackie Fargo for booking him as #1.

Christian York and Joey Matthews vs. The Dupps w/Fluff Dupp
The Dupps look like total hicks. Bo Dupp and Matthews go at it after the match settles down. Standing splash by Bo for 2. Back and forth stuff. York with a tornado DDT on Bo. Matthews and Stan Dupp on the floor brawling. York goes for a moonsault. Cousin Fluff Dupp (not a girlfriend after all. Or maybe she will be) crotches York on the top, he falls off, and Bo Dupp rolls him up with tights for the win.
Winners: Dupps

Instant feedback from
“Good lord, if you’re going to recap this thing, at least get some perspective on wrestling from before V.K. McMahon.”

I have some perspective, but also this guy Fargo is 71 years old, I’m not entirely sure who they are trying to attract by putting him over in several segments so far, but whatever.

Toby Keith sings his song “The Angry American”

Gauntlet For The Gold
#1 is Jeff Jarrett and #2 is Buff. He runs down to a nice pop, and goes to work on JJ. 90 seconds until the next guy. Jarrett eliminates Buff when he is celebrating. They bring out #3 early. It’s Lash Leroux! The Ragin Cajun is BACK! Jarrett sends Lash through the ropes, and Jeff follows. They brawl on the floor, and JJ brings him back into the ring. Jarrett tosses Lash and his L-shaped sideburns over the top rope. Borash calls out the next “contestant” in GFTG and it’s Norman Smiley. Quick big wiggle, but JJ is all offense. Smiley goes back on offense and slaps his bitch up on Jarrett, but JJ does a mule kick and sends Smiley to the mat. JJ tosses Smiley. #5 is APOLO! He is a large man, and Jarrett goes right to work on Apolo. Sitout Powerbomb by Apolo. HE IS IMPRESSIVE. HE IS IMPRESSIVE LOOKIN’. LOOK AT THIS GUY. Don West really adds nothing here. Necbreaker by Apolo. He goes to toss JJ, who stays in the ring. He stomps away on Jarrett. #6 is K Crush and he saves Jarrett who is being military pressed by Apolo. Axe kick by Crush and he yells at Apolo. JJ takes a breather and the others go at it. Apolo takes control on KCrush, and JJ attacks from behind. 10 punch count along by JJ. #7 is Slash, being led to the ring by Minister James Mitchell (Sinister Minister). Tenay says he has been in WWF and OVW. Apolo with a nice DDT on Slash. Apolo was born in NY then moved to Puerto Rico, says Tenay. Del Rios is next, he is a buff blond guy. Tenay questions why Jarrett would save Slash from being eliminated by Apolo, and I gotta agree. I never understand why people would save others just because they were both heels or both faces. Anyway. Slash is biting Del Rios! KCrush and JJ work together to try to eliminate Apolo, and the other two brawl. #8 is JUSTICE is a large man who is former NWA Wildside champ, says Tenay. Big boot by Justice on Jarrett. HE DESERVED THAT ONE. What does that even mean, Don West? Ferrera has a very pleasant voice as color commentator and adds to Tenay’s PBP. Slash and JJ try to eliminate Apolo, no go. Slash with an inverted DDT on Rios. They really shouldn’t repeat marquee moves so many times. #9 is Konnan, who Tenay intros as having beaten Chris Jericho for the WCW TV Title. Konnan looks good and is WAY over. He beats up Justice as the others just stand and sit around the ring for “breathers”. #10 is Joel Gertner? He comes out and does a promo. Crowd doesn’t really react at all to him. He has business with the Rainbow Express. Here is #10: Bruce.

He comes out arm in arm with Lenny. Bruce is short but in good shape. Has balding blond hair kinda like Hogan, but not nearly as bald. Just that quickly is #11, and boo it’s Rick Steiner who gets a big pop and some WOOFs. He comes in and clotheslines a lot of people. Slash is eliminated by Steiner, then Steiner does a suplex of some sort on Justice then eliminates him. Steiner goes after Jarrett, and does a sloppy back body drop. #12 is Malice, who is also in the Disicples for the New Church managed by James Mitchell. These two guys Malice and Slash actually have cool goth/horror looks that stand out against all the indy hick-type looks in the promotion so far. Bruce eliminated by Malice. And K Crush. And Del Rios. And now Konnan! And now Rick Steiner! Malice and Jarrett go to eliminate Apolo, and he skins the cat back into the ring. Scott Hall is #13. Only four are left, Malice, JJ, Hall and Apolo. Superkick by Apolo on Malice. THIS GUY IS IMPRESSIVE, MAN! Hall goes for a Razor’s Edge on Jarrett. It’s like it’s 1995 for the WWF IC Title all over again. For some reason, Hall doesn’t go to eliminate Jarrett and goes to attack Apolo. Ferrera calls Hall on it! #14 is apparently country singer Toby Keith and he does a cool vertical suplex on Jarrett! Hall and Toby Keith eliminate Jarrett. Ferrera doesn’t like it. Dueling chops by Hall and Apolo on Malice, who is about as tall as Hall or maybe taller. #15 is the “Wildcat” Chris Harris. He is very small, and looks tiny compared to Apolo, Malice and Hall who all three look like top stars of this promotion. Vampire Warrior (Gangrel) comes out randomly, I guess he’s #16. Don West doesn’t think that’s right. Match slows down. #17 is Devon Storm. He runs into the ring and goes to work on Apolo, who is in the longest thusfar. Malice and Apolo chop each other. That would be a good feud for them to build. Hall just chills in the corner as the others brawl. #18 is Steve Corino. Brawling continues. #19 is Ken Shamrock. Tenay says Shamrock beat The Rock and to win King of the Ring in 1998. Shamrock attacks many, and then can’t BUDGE Malice! Vampire Warrior almost eliminates Chris Harris, who sneaks back in. Corino tries to eliminate Hall. Apolo and Storm brawling. #20 is Brian Christopher who hip hops down to the ring. So that’s everyone. BC tosses Chris Harris. HE’S GONE CHRIS HARRIS IS GONE! Storm is out. Vampire Warrior is out. Corino brawls with BC, who clotheslines Corino over the top. Malice with a cool chokeslam on BC. Malice is the early star of this show. He has a bunch of tattoos. Malice, Apolo, Shamrock and Hall circle around BC, Shamrock grabs him and tosses him. Hall and Apolo double team Malice, but Malice backdrops Apolo out of the ring. Hall goes for an Edge on Malice, but also gets backdropped out of the ring. It’s Shamrock vs. Malice.

NWA World Title
Malice vs. Ken Shamrock
Ricky Steamboat is the ref. Malice would be a cool choice to build the title around. Malice is 6’9. He powers down Shamrock over and over. Shamrock fights back, but Malice is unaffected. Grabs Shamrock by the throat, and chokeslam? No, Ken grabs the arm and rolls through to a cross arm breaker! Malice reaching for the ropes. And he gets the ropes. They go back and forth, and Shamrock grabs the ankle lock! Malice crawling to the ropes. And he gets it! Shamrock pulls him off the ropes! SHAMROCK HAS SNAPPED! Steamboat is not DQing Shamrock. Malice gets the ropes again, and Steamboat tries to get Shamrock to break the hold. He finally does, and Steamboat pushes Shamrock and they argue. Mitchell confers with Malice, but Shamrock is back on Malice and goes after the legs. Malice goes for a chokeslam, Shamrock gets out of it, does a belly to belly suplex and gets the clean pin.
Winner and NEW NWA Champ: Shamrock

Backstage, people hold back Jeff Jarrett from attacking Toby Keith and Jackie Fargo with a guitar. Then JJ comes down and runs down the concept of GFTG again. He attacks some of the legends. Jackie Fargo and Toby Keith run down with TNA security. Fargo cuts a promo, and sets up a match between Scott Hall and JJ next week. JJ and Hall brawl in the aisle, and the show ends.

Next week: Lynn, Styles, Low Ki and Psicosis in a round robin for the X Title, Brian Christopher vs. K Crush and Scott Hall vs. Jeff Jarrett.

Overall a pretty enjoyable show. I’m not sure this was worth $10, but it had strong production, and featured a lot of new talent. The Jarretts will have to cycle through a lot of talent to see how many will be keepers (Malice, Apolo), which are washed up (Rick Steiner) and how many seem bush league (Del Rios, Chris Harris). Don West already needs to go, as he is adding nothing to the broadcast. Tenay and Ferrera did a fine job as announcers, even if Tenay did get overexcited at times. I’m interested to see if this promotion will have to time to develop new stars, because there is promise in the booking, production and in-ring work seen on their premiere show tonight. Of course the PPV concept is a huge barrier, but I came in with super low expectations, and some did really suck, but some was very enjoyable and a nice change from WWE.