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Compare and Contrast TNA and AEW: TNA Weekly PPV #3, 07/03/2002

Barrett Tribe continues his look back at TNA/Impact’s early days with Compare/Contrast of their third weekly PPV, now 100% Dupp-free.

Hey Gatecrashers! This week I’ll watch and shit on the third TNA weekly PPV from July 3rd, 2002 at the Nashville Auditorium. Let’s see if there’s any Good or Mid in our Good/Bad/Mid of TNA’s Weekly PPV #3. You can watch the PPV legally here!

LET’S GO!

BEST: NO DUPPS

NO DUPPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pictured above: NO DUPPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bad: Wardrobe Provided By Spirit Halloween Clearance Section

Fucking book ‘em, Dango.

Mid: “Big In Japan” Jim Miller

Mike Tenay has a rinside segment with NWA President Jim Miller. Jim missed the first couple TNA shows because he was in Japan, scouting talent. He has a big surprise which he pushes off for all of 30 seconds by welcoming TNA into the NWA family with a very cool trophy that certainly is still in a place of honor on Jerry Jarrett’s mantle. Then Jim drops that he’s bringing in Takao Omori who will take on NWA World’s Champion Ken Shamrock next week. I’m not a huge All Japan head but apparently he had a significant singles run in the 2010s.

“Mr. Tenay, I’m here to award you with the World’s Most ‘Um, Actually’ Announcer Award.”

Oh, yeah, they pipe Jim’s half of the audio to the audience. Jim is answering Mike’s questions but the audience is hearing Jim speak without context. There is literally no reaction when he drops Omori’s name. In 2002 Omori had been shipped off to Harley Race’s federation after Omori blew up a spot or something in a Pro Wrestling Noah show. Unless you were a tape trader or a huge fan of Troy Missouri’s World League Wrestling his name meant nothing in America. Jim could have said Misawa was going to be there next week and gotten the same reaction from this Nashville crowd. Meanwhile in Philadelphia ROH would go into the red to bring in The Great Muta to pop 500 people… and drive DVD sales, to be fair.

I tried to find info on Jim Miller and there isn’t much. He was the NWA President from 2001-2002. He runs a promotion called Pro Wrestling Express out of Pittsburgh. They did a lot of work with the NWA until the mid 10s. His LinkedIn profile picture is the same as the screenshot above from a different angle. Was he ever a wrestler himself? Why did he stop being the NWA President? I don’t know and I can’t spend any more time looking, OKAY?!?

I would say this whole segment has no value, but I did get 3 paragraphs out of it, so it has value to me, dammit! It has MID value! So does the next section!

Mid: Building Tension

Hall comes to the ring to build up the main even with him and Jeffery Jarretty. “Heyo.” Jeff’s theme song/Amber Alert notification interrupts Hall. “HEY YO MY ASS” says Jarrett, the same guy who could not BELIEVE Steve Austin would say “ASS” on TV 4 years ago. Jarrett is such a sweet lil country boy. We get the ol’ “Don’t sing it. Bring it.” from Hall. Jarrett starts coming down the ring but gets cut off by Jim “Japan Excursion” Miller. “This is the NWA. You’re in our house now.” Jarrett backs off, leaving Hall to get jumped by K-Krush. Krush loses the upper hand pretty quickly.

This is fine. Paint by numbers stuff.

Good: “The Alpha Monster” Monty Abyss

Monty Brown’s debut match! It’s a squash! Of course it is! He wins with The Alpha Bomb which is just a Powerbomb!

Monty cuts a promo on the way to the ring. He’s rough but he has a lot of charisma. It’s like he hasn’t figured out how to merge his own big personna with what he thinks a wrestler is supposed to SHOUT LIKE!!! He shoots right for the top, calling out Ken Shamrock. Love it. Everybody should be looking to take a title.

Also fun/weird/cool is that Monty’s theme song is what we all think of as Abyss’ theme song. THE STRINGS GO BRRUM BEEM BEEM BAAM BAM BUMBUMBUM BRRUUUM BEEM BEEM BAAM BAM BUMBUMBUM. THE DRUMS GO GUHGUGUH CLANG CLANG GUHGUHGUH. Except there are lyrics? I tried to find this theme on Youtube and got nowhere.

I would have booked Monty to squash The Dupps every week for two months.

Bad: Puppet is a shameless name dropper

Goldie is backstage talking to three security doodz. She can’t find Jim Miller and nobody knows where he is! Did she check to see if he was selling illegal DDT Pro dubs behind the bleachers?

She stops two young blond wrestledoodz called The Hot Shots who mutter that they haven’t seen Jim. Puppet the Psycho Midget grabs the mic, pulls Goldilocks down to his face and cuts a promo on Gary Coleman (“he’s a has been”), Mini Me (“You’re takin’ all my money in the movies”), and Stern Wack Pack alumn Beetlejuice. He’s not leaving until he kicks some “midget ass”. Yikes.

Later Puppet has a match with little person Todd Stone. It’s complete trash. After the match Puppet whacks annoying referee Slick Johnson, Jeremy Borash, Don West, and Ed Ferrara with a kendo stick. It’s not as much fun as it sounds!

Bad: Alicia’s Money Heist

Alicia does her weekly match interruption by visiting Ed “Dreamsicle” Ferrara and taking money from him while this guy behind them shoots his shot.

You used to call me on my landline.

Time for this week’s edition of “Let’s make up a reason why Alicia is collecting cash!” Ed’s family keeps giving him money to get his terrible dreads cut off, but instead of doing us all a favor, Ed hands that cash to Alicia so she can invest it with her buddy Bernie Madoff. I’m sure it’ll all work out great!

Good: Ken Shamrock beats the WHAT! chant

Ken Shamrock cuts a promo from the stage, responding to Monty Brown’s challenge. The crowd starts “WHAT!”-ing him. He gets a little frustrated and then just chuckles. The crowd responds. He leans into the dumb WHATs and uses them as punctuation. He says he’s got to beat Malice tonight, “this japanese punk next week” and then he will be happy to beat Monty Brown and shove his head up his AAAAASSSSSS!!!!

The lights go down and THE SINISTER MINISTER JAMES MITCHELL evils a promo from the rafters. When the lights come up we see Malice standing over Shamrock. Shammy gets the neckbrace and stretcher treatment.

Someone doesn’t skip leg day.

Later Goldi checks to see if Ken Shamrock is able to fight tonight. Some actual EMTs attempt to act. As an actor may I say… I don’t come to your ambulance and tell you how to… shove the blood back into the… dying guy.

Shamrock and Malice that match for the title despite the beatdown. Malice works the wounded Shamrock over until Shammy hits a flash belly to belly suplex (which I will try to remember to call The Shamwow in all future columns) for the pin. It lasts 6 minutes. Way to make the title look important!

BAD: Mr. Treehorn treats objects like women, man!

We get a recap of the embarrassing Women’s Lingerie Battle Royal. Francine comes to the ring and is joined by Miss TNA Taylor Vaughn. Miss TNA does not mean you have a belt, a trophy, a sash or a crown. There’s no proof she is Miss TNA! ANYONE COULD CLAIM THEY ARE MS. TNA!. Francince pulls out a belt and starts whipping and choking Taylor before the bell rings. Taylor looks absolutely lost here. The ref gets the belt away from Francine. Taylor snatches it from him and then whips Francine. Francine does some good selling here for what are some really weak looking belt shots. The ref tells TAYLOR to leave for some reason. I guess it’s a DQ?

Ed Ferarra joins Francine in the ring, hands her the belt and then raises her hand  that she is the winner. Then he cops another feel… “he’s a hands on announcer”… fuck. Francine whips him and then the segment is over. Everybody comes out looking worse. How fun!

Bad: It doesn’t get much Sadler than this.

Borash interviews NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler and his face stable THE PIT CREW… er, I mean, his actual pit crew. OF COURSE K-Krush interrupts this fluff interview. Krush shits all over race car driving and then asks Sadler if he wants to “do something”. So then the NASCAR driver does a double leg take down on Krush.

Sadler DRIVES Krush to the floor!

Krush then challenges Sadler to a match next week. Sadler accepts. We all wonder how bad this will be.

Spoiler alert: K-Krush will be NWA Champion in 4 weeks!

Mid: The First Ever X Division Title Defense

AJ Styles will defend his X Division title against… a guy who lost handily last week due to his manager distracting HIM from doing his job. Oy.

I mentioned this last week; AJ and David Young are both from NWA Wildside and, from what I understand, they wrestled each other a lot. David Young wrestles as if Steve Corino was trying to be AJ Styles. He’s a mish mash of high flyer, old school rassler and powerhouse. David enters with his manager/valet Bobcat, who is dressed like the inside of Dave Navarro’s coffin.

“Flames. Flames! Flaaaames…on the side of my face, breathing, breathless, heaving breaths.”

Tenay name drops Alex Marvez here, which blows my mind. Wrestling columnist Marvez loved the Round Robin Four Way Eliminator Tournament for the X-Division Title last week. I’m glad he liked it. I’m even more glad he wasn’t on commentary.

“How long you gonna be tryin’ on clothes, honey?”

Of course the match isn’t bad; AJ is just too exciting and Young knows how to work with him. The match comes in at under 10 minutes. Normally I’d say that’s too short but SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN LATER IN THE SHOW. Bobcat is on her phone at ringside. She looks like a completely different person from the previous week. Last week’s Bobcat looked like someone’s drunk aunt coming into the party in a gown screeching “I CAN STILL FIT IN MY PAGEANT DRESS.” This week she looks like a college girl in 2002 from the suburbs trying to come up with a halloween costume based on what she THINKS an exotic dancer dresses like.

There’s not a whole lot to talk about with the actual match. Young has a pretty badass looking spinebuster. We get to see the first time AJ reverses a top rope hurricanrana attempt into a second rope Styles Clash.  This match is fine but it doesn’t make the title or AJ look particularly strong.

Bobcat gets in the ring and dances around even though David Young lost.

So, yeah, why is David Young facing AJ? The better choice would be anyone from The Flying Elvises. They are all X Division types and actually won a match!

A Quick Good: Almost America’s Most Wanted

Chris Harris and James Storm are more or less real tag team now! After their fluke team up and flash win over The Rainbow Express last week, they’ve stuck together and will be part of the One Night TNA Tag Team Title Tournament.

Bad: The Tag Title Tournament

This tournament is rrrrrough. The first rounds feature America’s Kinda Wanted vs. The Johnsons, which I expected to be pretty bad but is a peppy affair. Keeping this under 5 minutes helped keep the Shane Twins from getting blown up. It’s hard to get excited about a five minute match though. 

AI YAI YAI

Storm gets caught on an attempted flying lateral body press by a Johnson, then is dropkicked into a pin by Harris. After the match, Mortimer Plumbtree dresses down the Johnsons. Johnson #1 and Plumbtree can’t figure out how to do a chokeslam so #1 shoves him to the ground. This is literally the second time we’ve seen these three and they’re already broken up. I get the Johnsons wanting to ditch their gimmick as soon as possible but, like… this literally goes nowhere. I may be wrong but I’m pretty sure this is the last time they would be seen in TNA. They go on to join Ohio Valley Wrestling, then FCW, then they were Gymini in WWE during an era where I wasn’t watching WWE so I didn’t even know they were the same dudes until literally just now.

The aimless Plumbtree will fart around TNA for the next year before being relegated to backstage duties. The worst part is I don’t think he’s a bad performer or has a bad character. I just don’t know why this Ivy League douchebag is involved in wrestling. Give me a reason why he’s here!

A theatre actor’s first time on camera.

About 3 minutes later we see America’s Second Tier of People Who Are Wanted bloodied and beatdown backstage. It looks like Storm and Harris legit gigged for about 10 seconds of footage. TNA Official Bill Bherens is panicking. WHO DID THIS THE TOURNAMENT IS RUINED. Backstage Gadfly Goldilocks provides helpful commentary like. “Wow. What is happening here. Woah.”

The next match is The Rainbow Express vs. TWO RANDOS MYSTERY TEAM. The Rainbow Express gay panics their way to the ring. Goldilocks interviews The Mystery Team and it’s not Derrick Comedy. It’s Apolo and FUCK NO GODDAMMIT BUFF BAGWELL. Bagwell calls Goldilocks “Goldilick”. I hate this fucking guy so much. Buff is dressed in his “time travelling bounty hunter Abraham Lincoln” gear.

“I’M HERE TO KILL DINOSAUR HITLER AND CHEW BUBBLEGUM AND AT THIS TIME PERIOD THERE’S NO BUBBLEGUM.”

Buff brags that he won the WCW title 6 times with 5 different partners. Buff says Apolo is #2 and Buff is #1. Apollo tries to talk and Buff cuts him off. Great, a tag team that doesn’t get along. Do you like CAN THEY COEXIST tag team storylines instead of actual competent writing? Then you are going to LOVE TNA FOR THE NEXT 20 FUCKING YEARS.

If you’ve seen any 96-99 WCW Nitro lower-card filler then you’ve seen this tag match. Boring boring boring. Don West, the face commentator, is non stop trashing The Rainbow Express. He’s practically begging for Buff Bagwell to do a hate crime, not realizing that a Bagwell match is already a hate crime against ME.

Buff plays to the crowd and eats a shitty Superkick from Lenny for the pin. Buff gets a 1000 yard stare after losing. Apollo leaves him in the ring. GODDAMMIT ED FERRARA GIVES BAGWELL A MIC.

Buff says “Y’all know my name is Marcus. I’m not Buff anymore.” “I’m a six time world tag team champion and I just got beat by– TWO– GAY GUYS.” He says he’s Marcus and he wants to go home, adding “Buff” has ruined his career. He hands his dumb hat to Ed and then bails while the crowd sings “HEY HEY HEY GOODBYE.” This is yet another bit that goes nowhere. Buff makes 2 more appearances this year guaranteeing that this story is dead on arrival. TNA also does this EXACT SAME “I am shoot dropping my gimmick” angle with Brian Christopher in a week or two. Great.

RIP

We’re still fucking around with this tournament. Bill Bherens is backstage on his cell phone doing that thing where he’s talking real fast which means there’s nobody on the other end of the call. Jerry Lynn keeps butting in, offering to find a partner and take America’s Most Injured’s spot. Bherens tells him to fuck off.

Later Golidlocks interviews Joel Gertner and The Rainbow Express. Gertner points out that there’s no teams left to fight, the Express are the rightful NWA Tag Team Champions. Gertner hits on Goldilocks then kisses her without consent. Bruce and Lenny yell “GROSS”. I AGREE!

The Rainbow Express come to the ring to get their titles, but the NWA has ruled that they must have opponents for the finals. So now JERRY LYNN AND AJ STYLES ARE IN THE FINALS. ANOTHER “TWO RANDOS” TAG TEAM.

The Rainbow Express are mediocre. Jerry Lynn and AJ do their best but there’s not much they can do to make this exciting. This is a huge clash of eras, or at least wrestling styles based on eras. The Express is pure early 90s tag team filler. Styles and Lynn are ahead of their time here unless you were way into the J Cup or ROH. There is a… ahem, style clash here that can’t be overcome. The end result is 12 minutes of meh meh meh. Styles and Lynn go crazy for about 30 seconds at the end of the match, hitting ALL THE COOL SHIT. AJ flippy swippies the Spiral Tap for the pin.

AJ STYLES AND JERRY LYNN ARE YOUR FIRST NWA TNA TAAAAAAAAAAAAG TEEEAAAAAM CHAMPIONS! STYLELYNN ANE PROFYLYNN!!!

FACE THE HARD CAM FELLAS.

AJ is the first Double Champion and it’s only week 3. This dude has a rocket on his back.

I should also point out that Jerry Lynn looks kind of frustrated after Styles got the pin. I’m sure it’s nothing.

Let’s sum this whole tournament up; Storm and Harris, a newly formed tag team, beat The Johnsons. The Johnsons leave and never come back. Then Harris and Storm are beat up and then cut from the tournament. The Rainbow Express beat “two randos” Buff and Apolo, who then break up. Then The Rainbow Express faces off against another two randos who weren’t even a tag team 40 minutes ago and that’s the team that wins. Why so much ga ga? It’s such a tortured way to get the tag title on AJ Styles. Why not just have AJ take the week off from the X Division and have Stylelynn beat Harris and Storm or The Johnsons? WHY NOT HAVE THAT HAPPEN RUSSO FROM 20 YEARS AGO?!?!

TNA just loves making things unnecessarily busy and confusing. Nobody comes out of this thing looking particularly good or strong. BOO.

BETTER THAN GOOD: You can’t spell “FUN” without “FU”!

During the show, Goldie finds Jim Miller tied up in the back with FU written on his big ol’ belly. Goldilocks sells this like she just got a third ticket on her car this week.

This outfit is Lenny Kravitz approved 100% AMERICAN WOMAAAAAN

Just… just look at that screenshot. Pure gold.

Bad: RANDOS ALL AROUND

Even though we have the finals of the Tag Title Tournament AND and an NWA title defense, wheeee Jeff Jarrett has to be in the main event. It’s “two randos” Jarrett and Krush vs. “two randos” Hall and Christopher here. The match spills into the crowd almost immediately. Nothing of note occurs. They get back in the ring. Nothing of note occurs. These guys spend so much time laying around on the mat that you’d think there was a gas leak. There’s a double down with Hall and Jarrett followed by a double down with Hall and Krush and then a double down with Hall and Jarrett and Krush which leads to Brian Christopher pulling away from the hot tag in our FIRST EVER TNA DUMB HEEL TURN FOR NO REASON  and I mean for NO REASON. In a couple weeks Brian will be a face, attacking Jeff Jarrett for INCREDIBLY VAGUE REASONS THAT MAKE HIM YELL AND GRIT HIS TEEETH!!!

The match ends with the ref bumped, Hall getting hit with The Stroke and The Hip Hop Drop before getting pinned by Jarrett. RUSSO Y’ALL.

Jarrett gets on the mic and hollers that he’s going to run Hall out of the NWA, then hits him with the Ringcrashers Fall 2021 Fantasy Booking trophy. Hall goes out on a stretcher. Jarrett keeps beating him up while hollering about how fucking great he is.

Everybody gets a trophy in this snowflake cancel culture touchy feely bah bah bah

This whole segment feels like a retreading of late era WCW. People yell at each other and turn on each other and hate each other for no reason. Not compelling, not interesting.

—-

And that’s the show!

This show was pretty fucking frustrating BUT… it was the best of the 3 TNA PPVs so far. There was sexism and homophobia but no out and out racism! Not even any implied racism! THIS WILL NOT LAST.

The wrestling definitely took a step down this week. There was no standout X Division match, the NWA title match was dull and the tag stuff was formulaic. There wasn’t a ton of story movement either; Bobcat is still a distraction, Francine is still a meanie, and Jarrett has convinced two other wrestlers to hate Scott Hall for some reason. We can look forward to Omori vs. Shamrock and if we squint real hard you can also look forward to actual wrestler K-Krush vs. NASCARMAN Hermie Sadler.

I had to remind myself that people were expected to pay $9.99 to watch what would have been a pretty bleak episode of Nitro. Even a big wrestling fan would have felt pretty ripped off after buying three weeks of this, let alone one. On top of all this, Jeff and Jerry Jarrett were getting fed false information about the PPV buys, giving them a false sense of security until the truth came out. Definitely give the My World Podcast episodes 4-9 a listen for more context into what was happening behind the scenes in early TNA.

Next up: I’ll be watching and writing likely more complimentary things about AEW’s Fight for the Fallen 2019! 

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