Hey Gatecrashers! Here’s another opportunity for me to CRASH and BASH on TNA! It’s the 5th weekly PPV from July 17, 2002 at the Nashville Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, the last we’ll see of the Auditorium as TNA’s home due to FINANCIAL MALFEASANCE. Definitely listen to Jarrett’s podcast “My World” with Conrad Thompson for more info. I swear it’s worth suffering through 90 Geico commercials.
Bad: Cold Open
TNA comes through with the bad stuff right away by having Ken Shamrock walking through a park with a camera in front of him. Then Goldilocks comes jogging up from behind, haranguing Shamrock for an interview. Shamrock gets mad and calls her a bitch, which is fucked up, and then shoves the camera.
Okay, so, if the cameraman is there with Goldi, why are they in front of Shamrock? He would see them already and be mad about that. The camera should have been with Goldilocks! It don’t make no sense, I says!
Shamrock storms off and Goldi shrugs before making her famous “it was me and I’m all in on that fart” faces.
Good: A backstage brawl in 2003 is good?
The show opens with Jeff Jarrett and Scott Hall fuckin’ messin’ it up backstage in a really good looking brawl. This stuff was very played out in ‘02 but they make it look really good! I’m praising Jarrett here folks! Mark your calendars!
They finally get pulled apart and Bill Bherens tells Jarrett that, due to this brawl, he’s forfeited his spot in the #1 Contender’s Ladder Match with Malice. Jarrett gets the night off and I breathe a sigh of relief.
Good: Zoot Suit Riot
The only thing to note here is Mike Tenay calling Don West “The Zoot Suit Daddy” and I am here for it.
It’s been a minute since I talked about the announce team, but they have definitely improved. They moved the needle from a strong Bad to a weak Mid over the past 4 shows. They still say offensive shit and the face announcers are on the side of the sexists, racists and homophobes while Ed Ferrara makes the worst arguments about why sexists, racists and homophobes are wrong.
Good: The Elephant Boy vs. Malice
Reverend Mitchell, Slash, Tempest and Malice come down to the ring to a theme song that sounds really good in the arena but terrible IRL.
Mitchell does his best Cryptkeeper impression by punning “Mr. Jarrett will not be able to bleed here tonight.” which gets a boo/groan from the audience. He makes an open challenge because Malice wants another chance to “wash his hands in the crimson life essence of another victim.” Yeah, bro, we know you mean blood.
The lights go out and IT’S ORANGE CASSIDY! No, wait, it’s SAB-FUCKIN-U! Everybody loses their goddamn minds and it’s awesome.
The match is REALLY GOOD! Malice vs. Sabu in a ladder match sounds terrible on paper but they really bring it here. This might be Malice’s best match ever. The just absolutely fuck each other up. Sabu breaks his own nose on a botched ladder spot and keeps going because, well, Sabu.
It’s not perfect or anything, there are plenty of botches and delays with getting the ladder involved in the match. The crowd is ELECTRIC though, and that definitely adds to the action. They’re popping for literally everything.
The match finishes with malice on top of the ladder, Sabu pushes him OVER THE TOP ROPE THROUGH A TABLE before he climbs the ladder and grabs the #1 contender’s contract! Sabu vs. Shamrock is official!
This is the best TNA match so far that doesn’t involve AJ Styles. I’m re-watching this as I’m typing and I’m marking out. FIND THIS MATCH!!!
The Disciples pull a beatdown on Sabu after the match, and I do mean a beatdown. He gets chokeslammed from the apron through a table. THIS IS SUCH GOOD STUFF!!!!
Bad: EVERYBODY YELLS
Apparently Bherens and Jarrett have been yelling at each other outside the building during that ENTIRE MATCH. THey’re just HOLLERING at each other and it’s indecipherable. Pointless reiteration.
Mid: JERRY LYNN YELLS
AJ Styles comes to the ring to call out co-tag team champion Jerry Lynn. Jerry Lynn interrupts and LOUDLY CHASTISES Styles. Jerry SHOUT TALKS about how AJ doesn’t have the same experience and life experiences as Lynn. It’s all fine if overblown. He ends by saying “You WILL respect me” because what wrestling needs is another respect-based angle. Lynn does the dumbest thing and turns his back on AJ. AJ with a standing Enziguri to the back of the head! Styles Clash! WHAT? A TAG TEAM THAT CAN’T GET ALONG? OMG HOW ORIGINAL MR RUSSO PLEASE MORE OF THIS TONIGHT TO PAD THE SHOW
BAD: Casual Misogyny
We get a recap of sex worker Jasmine St. Claire’s attempted strip tease in the ring, which then leads to Goldie attempting to get an interview with St. Claire. Before she can even get a sentence out, Francine comes in and beats down St. Claire. St. Claire rolls around on the shower floor holding her stomach.
The segment lasts all of 30 seconds BUT, lucky for us, there’s a follow up segment. Jasmine limps to the ring, selling her rib injury, and cuts a surprisingly cogent promo on “The Queen of Extreme” Francine. She’s still wearing the same wet t-shirt so all the announcers can be all horny about boobs. Francine joins her in the ring and we have a “match”, which is mostly them pulling clothes off each other, Francine whipping St. Clair, and then her boyfriend, The Blue Meanie gives Francine a DDT. Francine does a stretcher job. The announcers, who seconds ago were making tit puns use their serious voices. It’s all so fucking gross and useless.
Good: K-Krushing it on the Mic
Again, Ron Killings is a genius during his in-ring promo. He calls out the implied racism by both TNA and “WWF, WWE WHATEVER THE HELL THEY ARE CALLING THEMSELVES.”
“My whole life I’ve been held down, my wjhole life I’ve been treated like a second class citizen. The reason is they know I’m better than them, and they are afraid of that.” This legit turns a segment of the crowd to K-Krush’s side. A “K-Krush!” chant breaks out multiple times.
“Don’t get it twisted, I’m not an angry black man. I’m just the truth. And the truth will not be denied!” Oooh, foreshadowing in the age of Russo? How can it be?
Absolutely fantastic promo here, essentially making Krush a tweener for the more progressive fans. I gotta admit, after the reverse racism that Krush has been dancing with for 4 weeks, it’s really refreshing to hear him just straight up call actual racism out.
Of course Tenay and West, the faces, say that Krush is a whiner who talks too much. Ug.
After the promo Krush has a peppy match with “The Screamin’ Shooter” Norman Smiley. Krush and smiley both look good here. The match lasts about 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Post match, Krush whips the SHEEIIT out of Smiley with a bondage belt and then hangs him over the top rope. Then Norman Smiley’s wife, who looks like a very talented Mary Kay salesperson, rushes out to try and break up the racist-tinged attack. It’s pretty ugly! Will it lead to another, longer, better Krush/Smiley match? I don’t know, I watch these shows in order!
BAD: PUPPET JERKS OFF IN A TRASH BIN
Goldilocks is wandeing around trying to find our “favorite” little person, Puppet. Who’d have guessed, he’s beating his meat in a trash can. Is this supposed to be funny? I don’t get it. If he’d cut a promo about how he can’t stop masturbating over the last couple of shows then I guess it’d be earned… or just DON’T HAVE A WRESTLER JERKING OFF FOR NO REASON.
The promo is full of insipid puns and Goldilocks gets verbally abused as usual. I don’t even want to recap the terrible “jokes” in here, although he mistakenly calls Macaly Culkin “Macauly Cucklin” which is a great 2017 burn.
AND THEN SHE RUNS INTO THE FUCKING DUPPS GODDAMMIT. BO IS HUMPING FLUFF’S LEG WHILE STAN IS PLAYING WITH A BIC LIGHTER AND THEN SAYS THAT HE LIKES GOLDIE’S “LIPS” AND YEAH IT’S WHAT YOU THINK IT IS
What a waste of time. I hate the Dupps but even they deserve better than this.
A bit later Puppet has a 6 ½ minute match against “Meatball, The World’s Largest Midget”. Meatball isn’t that tall, he’s just kinda overweight. There’s a shopping cart by the ramp for no reason other than for Meatball to grab some pre-match Cheetos and then for the two of them to hit each other with pies and Cheez-Whiz and it’s all so stupid. Both me and the crowd can give a fuck. On the podcast Jarrett defends the little people matches are “a little bit for everyone” but, I mean, who is this catering to? There can’t be that many little person wrestling fans to spend 10 minutes of a sub 2 hour show on this and the Francine/St. Clair stuff. Krush and Smiley could have had 10-15 minutes in there if you’d cut all this horrible shit, damn you!
Good: S.E.X.: The Prequel
Two of the Flying Elvises head to the ring. Estrada must have gotten a note because he’s doing non-stop Elvis shit. This makes Siaki stand out as a pure heel. He refuses to do Elvis moves and just taunts the crowd.
They’re facing the thrown together tag team of Christopher Daniels and “Prime Time” Elix Skipper. These two will go on to do some AMAZING STUFF as S.E.X. in TNA down the line.
Siaki jumps off the apron and joins commentary, For some reason he’s super blown up, breathing hard while saying “It’s all about me, me, me.” It’s obvious they really want him to be The Rock but he’s just not there. “Nobody cares about the Flying Elvises. The Elvises are cool.” What a mess.
The match is Standard Total X-Division Action, a lot of fun but not a ton of story. Elix Skipper does pull out a BUCK-SHOT LAR-EEE-ET which is pretty sweet. Elix looks like a god-damn Spider Man. Check this out:
It’s a little awkward but who cares? Elix often has this thing where he looks like he’s about to completely botch but then recovers somehow. This match is good, but nothing to chase down. Skipper and Daniels look really good here. Shades of a S.E.X.y future.
Skipper hits a Play of the Day but the ref is distracted for a good full minute with Daniels and Siaki fighting on the outside. Siaki slides with no tag in and gets a pin with a twisting neckbreaker called The Money Clip.
Then the Dupps come to the ring with breakable Karate boards. Siaki bails and Estrada eats three plank shots to the dome. Then the Dupps dance around and fake kiss Fluff. Fuck me.
VERY GOOD: ROH Lite
I meeaaaaaannnnn… you know that 2002 Ki/Styles is gonna be great, right? They’d probably faced each other a dozen of times on the indies by this point. They know each other so well and just tear it down. The crowd sits on their hands for most of this. BOO CROWD COME ON.
TNA also does a great job of selling this as a tactical match. There’s a segment prior to the match showing off their finishing moves, the Dragon Sleeper, The Ki Krusher 99 (Fisherman’s Buster) and The Styles Clash (), which Tenay describes as a tarantula into a Pedigree style drop. Ferrara says “VCR’s were whirring this week with these two watching tape of each other.” Love it!
It’s a great 11 minute match for sure. You can legally watch it here which you should do right now. They’d have a much more intense match with a molten crowd in ROH about a month later. I can’t find a legal upload of that match, but after watching it on DVD I can say it’s much better than this, which is nuts, because this is a hot one. Unfortunately the ROH match has an offensive “Cornette-Like” call which puts a shadow on the match but what can you do, it was 2002.
AJ wins with this insane reversal.
Then this happens:
Another post match fight between the Tag Team That Just Can’t Get Along ©Vince Russo. It’s just nuts to think that Jerry F’n Lynn would be so short sighted as to risk TAG TEAM GOLD just to beat some respect into AJ. And what did AJ do to deserve this? He GOT THE PIN THAT WON THEM THE BELTS. Absolutely insane if you think about it for more than 10 seconds. Maybe if they painted Lynn as insecure due to the fact that he was always overlooked and wasn’t going to let that happen again, but make that happen AFTER THEY LOSE THE BELTS. Noooo, Russo says everything has to happen right now.
Bad: The Lame Event
The main event is Brian Lawler vs. Scott Hall. Scott passed away this week so I really don’t want to trash this match. Luckily the match is so short that I don’t have much to say about it. The reason this is Bad is that Lawler gets, and I’m not kidding, SIX MINUTES to come to the ring and sluggishly cut a very overwrought heel promo and two of them are spent pretending he doesn’t know Hall is behind him. Lawler shits all over his father, saying he’s been married three times (big deal) and that his wives were all younger than Brian. He also says that he left a ticket for Jerry, but he didn’t show up, because “every Wednesday night he likes to hang out at the local high school with a fist full of candy.” Hall enters through the crowd and stands behind Lawler FOR-EH-VERRRR before finally starting the match. This is definitely one of those “LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU” moments in wrestling. If you’re a wrestler, just check every now and again.
The match is 80s Memphis-y from top to bottom with Lawler getting his ass handed to him for about two minutes before he takes over in an extended, dull heat segment. K-Krush rushes the ring and eats a Hall fist, allowing Hall to take the W with the Razor’s Edge.
Two on one post match beatdown on Hall, he does a stretcher job, and then Jeff Jarrett attacks him dressed as a paramedic in a dastardly move to sneak back in the building. JEFF JARRETT ENDS THE SHOW LOOKING STRONG NO WAAAAY.
And that’s the show!
This… was not a good one. TNA is an exhausting watch because when it’s bad it’s terrible, and when it’s good, it still gets marred by bad booking and dumb storylines. It’s like eating moldy bread, bland, gross, barely nourishing and you only do it because you have to. I DID THIS TO MYSELF OKAY NOM NOM NOM
There are two matches worth tracking down, the Malice/Sabu clusterfuckfun and the Ki/Styles which you can watch anytime you want on Youtube. The rest is forgettable, laughable or too offensive to enjoy… kind of the standard for early TNA, TBH.
Next up: It’ll be AEW Full Gear 2019, which I’ll probably gush over but struggle to make any jokes about.