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Compare and Contrast TNA and AEW: AEW Fight for the Fallen 6/13/19

Hello, Gatecrashers! I’m Barrett and I’m about to mark the fuck out for AEW’s Fight For The Fallen! This event took place on July 13, 2019 at the now familiar Daily’s Place. Per Wikipedia “The company held the charity event to support victims of gun violence, with all gate receipts from the event being donated to these victims.” The charity aspect was directly in response to the Jacksonville Landing shooting at a video game tournament in 2018. This show was free in North America with the gate proceeds donated to charity.

Time for The Buy In! Watch it with me!

Bad: ALEX MARVEZ NOOOO

I figured out why Marvez doesn’t work for me. He’s Bizzaro-Michael Cole. Cole YELLS EVERYTHING HE SEES AT THE SAME VOLUME, SO EVERYTHING IS IMPORTANT SO NOTHING IS IMPORTANT. Marvez delivers everything like he’s on an international flight and  he’s trying not to wake up the person next to him. With Marvez it’s nothing is important so nothing is important.

Good: Sonny Kiss’ Entrance!

JAZZ HANDS!

Mid: Kisshhhhhhh

Peter “The Librarian” Avalon and Sonny “The Limber-rarian” Kiss have a short inoffensive match. Sonny is stupid flexible and fast but them strikes are very weak. Avalon does some old school heel work, a lot of “SHUT UP”’s to the audience. “The Librarian” Leva Bates helps Sonny back into the ring like a nice person should, but then later distracts Sonny by showing him the cover of…  let me zoom in on the video… “Hello Sunshine” which is I guess related to “Sonny” or maybe Kiss just likes novels about Youtube cooking hosts who get doxxed.

Sonny Kiss is queer and nobody on commentary makes a bid deal out of it. There’s no face announcer Don West telling us that everything he does is gross or “why can’t he do that in the privacy of his own home?” It’s so refreshing to have announcers focus on Kiss’ wrestling instead of 20 year old TNA trying to gay panic me.

You can read about my feelings on The Librarian gimmicks in the two previous AEW columns.

Good: When Dustin Cuts a Promo

Cody and Dustin Rhodes (aka The Brotherhood) are interviewed by Jenn Sterger to hype up their match with the jerky Young Bucks. Cody is pretty measured, but Dustin goes BIG on his half of the interview. Best line: “I personally am going to powerslam you both SO HARD, your SOULS are going to LEAVE YOUR BODIES.” Cody fields a question about Sean Spears’ brutal ass chair attack a couple weeks ago at Fyter Fest.  Dustin drops a quick Goldust *chomp* at Jenn on the way out. Great stuff.

Good: Boring people vs WILD CHARACTERS

Generic Face Britt Baker and unused stack of copy paper Riho face off against the Big Beast Tokyo Joshi Pro Champion Shoko Nakajima and spoopy evil Stardom Champion Bea Priestly.  Shoko is dressed like a white wolf with full headpiece and tail.

Pictured: Shoko Nakajima and Shoko Nakajima again

Priestly looks like the Negative Universe Britt Baker here. They’re both tall, lanky, strong and all over the place in wrestling quality. Years ago a friend was telling me about a band he was in. He said the guitarist was a beginner and an expert at the same time. He could play basic chords or play high speed off time Dillinger Escape Plan-y stuff, but he didn’t know about how to build a song or how to discuss music. That’s kind of what Baker and especially Priestly are like. Some great moves mixed with the basics with a lot of fuck ups and dangerous mistakes between them.

At one point Baker goes to the wrong corner to tag Shoko and it’s great.

Shoko and Riho work SUPER great together. They’re about the same size, allowing them to do, like, POWER MOVES and SLUGFESTS along with a bunch of flippy shit.  It’s all very smooth and fun to watch.

The match is pretty hot from start to finish. Shoko reverses a hurricanara from Riho into a pin. After the match Baker and Priestly go at it. Their tag team partners pull them apart. 

Good/Bad: Closed Captioned for the Hearing Impaired and the Hearing Unimpaired

I forgot this was the PPV where the captions came on for some reason but they’re all fucked up.

I’ve always said that Kip Sabian is an iQRIK) a “ 3 ; PgS]   V=.<ZJy&uU.

Not to skip Kip here. He has a good promo about being an afterthought in the upcoming contest with Adam Page. Kip is a good promo and worker. It’s too bad he’s been lost in the shuffle since… this match.

The Buy In has been bought. Let’s get to the PPV!

Good: Everybody gets a story, everybody gets a payday

We got a six man tag featuring the mostly Young Guns of AEW. “Cody’s Other Brother” MJF, “No Panda Head BOOO” Sammy Guevara and “The Ch10r Man” Sean Spears vs. Darby Allin, Jimmy Havoc, and THE BAAAD BOY JOEY JANELLA! When The Dapper Yapper says “THE BAAAAD BOY” he sounds like he’s talking about a little kid who is naughty.

MJF has heat with Spears since Spears jumped BFF Cody at the last event. MJF is super pissed and definitely doesn’t want to be on the heel team but, you know, he’a fucking heel for life. He talks more shit to Spears than his actual opponents. “HEY SPEARS! TAKE NOTES! TAKE NOTES!” They steal tags from each other, they flip each other off, they steal taunts… it’s great. The audience can’t decide if they hate Spears of MJF more.

The story of this match is TENSION. Allin stares down Janella after a tag to Havoc instead of Allin. Allin is mad at Spears as well since he stole Allin’s moment after the draw vs. Cody at Fyter Fest. Havoc hates MJF because of course he does. Allin is driven crazy by Guevara’s arrogance.

Darby is reaping the benefits of the draw with Cody. The crowd is chanting for him and popping for all his big moves. AEW knew he was money from Day 1.

Janella legit says “FUCK YOU CORNETTE” to the camera along with the BIG BIRD!

The match ends with Spears hitting the Death Valley Driver on Allin after Allin loses track of who the legal man is.

This is a great opener, getting eyes on the lower and midcard AEW talent while keeping the wrestlers healthy. We’re also getting a bit of character development and teases of possible future feuds. Right now AEW needs some stories. Great matches will only go so far into keeping people engaged.

Good: Brandi and Allie Build

There’s a video package for Brandi vs. Allie that is super good. Brandi expresses a lot of self doubt here and it’s very real.

Bad: Allie Out

Brandi shakes hands with Allie, but then Awesome Kong’s music hits while Brandi laughs. She’s the heel for the match which feels bad after the video package. Kong comes to ringside to MENACE and STARE.

The match isn’t very good. They stay away from the old WWE hair pulling spots, but their moves are awkward and sluggish. They lose the crowd pretty early and don’t get them back. Brandi wins with a BIONIC SPEAR. She has a surgically repaired clavicle so I guess her spear hurts more? Because of screws?

Brandi and Kong beat down Allie after the bell. AJA KONG STEPS OUT OF THE TUNNEL. IT’S A KONG STAREDOWN.

THE QUEEN OF KONGS

The refs break it up before things get too fucking amazing. Also the world breaks up this matchup before things got too fucking amazing. Awesome Kong was too injured to work any matches at this point and would soon be gone from AEW. We can’t have the nicest of things!

Good: Uno, Stu, Three Way Tag

It’s the first OFFICIAL appearance of The Dark Order in tag action. They do the “Creepers make a creepy throne” bit. The as yet unnamed Hybrid2, Jack Evans and Angelico, do some flips and breakdancing. The crowd pops when A Boy and His Dinosaur (Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus) come to the ring accompanied by Marko Stunt. The winner of this match gets a first round bye in the Tag Tournament. Mr. Saurus and Mr. Boy are definitely the most over here. The Dark Order and Evans/Angelico get respect claps for their work but nobody is losing their shit for anything they do. 

They liked this.

I notice that Jungle Boy has already dropped his “I was raised by wolves who were raised by apes” body language and silent act, which is for the best. Currently in late 2021, Jungle Boy is getting a character rehab in his feud with Adam Page. At this point he’s a tough wrestler who I guess likes jungles. Kind of like Kevin Steen and zoos. OH GIVE ME THAT TAG TEAM JUNGLE BOY AND KEVIN STEEN AND CALL THEM THE WORLD WILDLIFE FOUNDATION.

Luchasaurus is the true star of this match, at least for the audience. Everything he does gets a pop. He gets tons of chants. When I saw these early AEW shows I was convinced that he’d be in the main event picture, but a knee injury put him on the shelf and ate up some of his heat.

Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy have similar issues; they can’t be AEW singles champions with their current gimmicks. I think either would make great TNT or AEW Men’s World Champions with some continued tweaks for Mr. Boy and a complete revamp for Mr. Saurus.

Me when I’m throwing the bulk paper towels on the top shelf.

Oh, yeah, I was talking about a match. It’s another good PWG style pre-intermission showcase. A couple of blown spots and the ref just letting Marko Stunt do flippy shit in the ring are small marks against a fun, if quiet, match. The Dark Order win with some great strategy, clearing the ring, working over a Boy and a Dinosaur with team moves before pinning Boy with the FATAL1TY. Their story was that they were ring generals but the announce team doesn’t pick that up.

Good: Meaningless Fun

Sabian vs. Page here. Unfortunately this feels like filler; Page is already booked for the AEW title match. Everything Sabian gains here is in the abstract; he’d look good for a future title shot if he gets a win over the Page if Page actually wins the title. Which, as we all knew in 2019, was inevitable seeing as how Page was in The Elite and OF COURSE they will put the belts on themselves as soon as possible!

KIP IS GONNA KISS YOU! KIP IS GONNA KISS YOU!

It’s easy to forget how charismatic Sabian is. He’s shown sparks of it here and there but hasn’t had the opportunity to do anything since Gamer Miro. I know he’s currently working a post-modern Shia LaBeouf thing but until he shows up on Dynamite he’s going nowhere. The guy is too good to be relegated to WCW Alex Wright status.

The story of the match is hard-hitting but hamstring-injured Hangman vs. the speed of Sabian. Sabian has trouble pressing his advantage; Page keeps absorbing the attacks and laying Sabian out. Unfortunately this leads to a lot of slow back and forth for the middle stretch of the match. Even the sprint at the end is more like a jog. Page wins after reversing some… leg thing… into the Deadeye. Sabian takes Page to 19 minutes of a 20 minute time limit, but that isn’t enough to make it memorable or consequential. It’s a perfectly fine match but not a hidden gem by any stretch.

Good: WHO IS THAT MASKED MAN oh it’s jericho

Post match a fully clad blue eyed Creeper comes into the ring behind Page and jumps him, eventually connecting with a Codebreaker. OH EMM GEE IT’S CHRIS JERICHO!!! Page comes up bloody and eats a Judas Effect. Jericho flips off the audience and leaves.

Okay, I love this BUT. This is the second time that Jericho has shown up in an AEW-ish event and pulled the Mask Reveal bit. He did it at All In after Omega beat Penta by replacing Penta and then doing the beatdown on Omega, then pulling the mask off to reveal that BY GOD IT’S JERICHO! Now he does it again here… but in both cases I have to ask “why?”. What purpose does the mask serve? In neither case does it help him get the drop on anyone. He attacked Omega and Page while their backs were turned, so the mask is only there to disguise him from the audience. I’ll talk about AEW Mask Reveals more down the line.

My theory is that Chris Jericho the character is still bitter about the ol’ Malenko/Ciclope bit from Slamboree 98, but he still hasn’t figured out that the mask reveal wasn’t the important part, but that it was part of a longer strategy by Malenko to get another shot at Jericho. It’s all about the mask coming off, baby! Masks! Pull off a mask! What’s the point of a mask if not to pull it off and have people go OMG IS JERIMAN!!!

The Painmaker: Origins

Good: Big Bad Beetle Bros

“Just by a chance freed a ghost who made them luchadores!”

The Lucha Brothers face off against SCU: Skyzarian Configuration. We are in the “Penta is so fucking over” phase of The Lucha Brother’s career. Penta is such a badass here, taking no shit and giving no fucks. There’s a rare “face gets ejected from ringside” bit as The Lucha Bros beat up Daniels on the outside, only for Daniels to hit an Arabian Moonsault. That’s enough for Aubrey to send him away by referee-al decree.

BING! BANG! BONG!

J.R. is in full “old man yelling at spots” mode. “How many DDTs are we going to see here? Somethings gotta give, fellas!”

The match is tight all of the way through. Skyzarian look super strong here, even though they lose after getting hit with the Stomp Package Piledriver combo. Both teams deliver here. Definitely worth watching.

After the match The Bros grab a color scheme matching ladder, racking the returning Daniels and dumping the rest of SCU outside. Penta gets on the mic, tapping the rhythm of “Cero Miedo” while climbing to the top of the ladder with Rey. Rey says “What about a ladder match? The Young Bucks vs The Best Tag Team on the Planet, the Lucha Brothers! Chicago, All Out! The Best tag team on the planet, nahnahnah The Universe!” Well, fuck.

Bad: Kenny Omega is a fucking loser!

Kenny HAS YET TO WIN A SINGLES MATCH and they’re trying to tell me that if he doesn’t win soon he’ll be overlooked. Ludicrous storytelling.

Good: I hope you like Metoras

CIMA vs. Omega is a match that has taken place across thousands of Total Extreme Wrestling simulator seasons, but this was the first time they met in real life. It’s not quite a DREAM MATCH, more like a “Wouldn’t that be cool” match.

This match feel so unexpected. We knew both Cima and Omega were capable of just stellar matches. Both have at least one 5 star match from Meltzer. The only thing we needed to see was if they’re styles would mesh. Shockingly, they do!

There is real “All/New Japan Energy” here. The match has a measured pace, then they both target their opponents limbs, then lots of strikes, an extended section outside the ring, then spamming signature moves before teasing the finish.

For fans of long term storytelling: Kenny doesn’t show a ton of personality here, but halfway through the match he gets violent. He was jumped by Moxley at All Out, then returned the favor at Fyter Fest. Moxley is trying to infect Omega and it’s working. Kenny clears the timekeepers table and SURPRISE MOTHERFUCKER it doesn’t work out!

“METEORA!” – Immortan Joe

Kenny isn’t THERE yet. And, truly, the Omega that Moxley wanted, the vicious man who would do anything to win, doesn’t appear until the Deathmatch in March of 2021.

CIMA does as many Meteoras (see above) as Kenny does V-Triggers. Some people aren’t fans of Signature Spamming but I love it. Signatures don’t win matches; they set up finishers. Kenny knees people in the head over and over again so that the One Winged Angel hits that much harder.

They do one of those spots I love where an injury affects the match. Cima dropkicks Kenny into the ropes but his knee gives out when he tries to cross the ring, leaving him open to another V-Trigger.  Cima tries to counter and reverse intot pins, but it’s not enough. Kenny kicks out of a crucifix pin, Cima can’t stand up and eats another V-Trigger followed by a One-Winged Angel for the pin.

Great match that really feels like the transition from NJPW Omega to AEW Omega. The notes are the same, they’re just being played a bit differently.

Mid: A Red Mark(er) On Your Record

Jericho gets some mic time. He says he has Hangman Page’s blood on his hand, but it’s obviously Raspberry Red Scratch N Sniff Marker.

If you put the marker up your nose and breathe in real hard you can see God.

This is part of Jericho’s “Thank You Tour”, where he wants a thank you from AEW. The fans chant “Thank You” and he says “NOT FROM YOU!” He also calls Jacksonville “Jerksonville”, “Jackoffville.” and “The White Trash Rivera”. Not his best work.

He makes claims that all the successes of AEW are due to him, including the new TNT TV Show (“starting in October”). He said he was looking at the Casino (Battle) Royale from the last PPV and wondering who would be the winner, including a dig at “Brandon Cutler, the Young Bucks cabana boy.” SPEAKING IT INTO EXISTENCE.

Jericho says if he loses to Hangman it’s the beginning of the end of AEW and Jericho as well. He can’t accept that it’s the end, so he has to beat the hangman, has to beat the hangman, has to beat the hangman, has to beat the hangman, HAS TO BEAT THE HANGMAN!

“This federation deserves a better class of wrestler. And I’m gonna give it to ’em.”

Page runs out and lays a BEATIN’ on Jericho. First Ever TNA Tag Team Champion Jerry Lynn and some less adorned refs come out to break things up. Eventually the lower end of the locker room joins in. Peter Avalon gets a “SHHHH”… chant(?) as he holds Jericho back. 

The segment is whatever. Painmaker Jericho does his best to put over why he attacked Page, to give some personal heat on the match, but it’s not a super great promo. The “blood” is a symbol of the angle; it looks fake and it’s trying too hard. I think being the first AEW World Champion is all the heat the match needs.

Good: Stardust and Goldust vs. Generation Me

Technically Cody is still part of the Elite at this point, but in spirit he left the group at the end of All Out. Cody begins his alternate AEW timeline in this match. He lives in a parallel world where The Elite do not tread. The villains cross over but Cody hasn’t been seen alongside The Bucks in well over a year at this point (this point being December 2, 2021).

The Bucks have been acting like complete dickheads on BTE, making fun of the heartfelt moments from All Out. Instead Cody reaching out to his bloodied brother, Nick reaches out to a ketchup covered Matt. In this case the fake blood actually helped tell the story!

There’s a really nice sequence at the top of the match where Nick and Cody are going at it. They are both going for signature moves but their opponent is not there. It’s miss after miss after miss until Nick just BARELY misses a headkick to Cody and then gets in his face. It’s all a very effective way to show how well they know each other.

The Bucks figure that Dustin is the weak link in the match, so he spends a lot of time on defense. The Bucks work heel here, cutting off the ring, blocking the tags… I mean, #FTR all you want, but this is textbook southern heel work. 

TAG.

Tides turn when Matt gets a shoulder injury. Cody and Dustin work him over. When Nick gets the hot tag he goes shit-nuts with kicks, knees and running clotheslines. Nick is so goddamn athletic. After this the ref just lets them all wrestle. Lots of mirror moves going on here; double flips, double Sharpshooters, double Figure Fours, double Power Slams, double RAM THE JEWELS.

MELTZER DRIV- NO DISASTER KICK!

EVEN MORE DOUBLE STUFF HERE! The Bucks fake the Double Superkick, then do the Rhodes’ drop down Uppercut, then the Brotherhood hit Double Superkicks, then eat Superkicks of their own! Nick hits CrossRhodes! MELTZER DRIVERRRRRR for the pin. Great tag match, watch it!

Excalibur: THAT IS IT!
Marvez: that is it…

After the match The Bucks make peace and they’re about to make things fully right with The Brotherhood, but then Kenny’s music hits. Matt says “We must be running out of time” and it’s true. Kenny, Jurassic Express, Shahid Khan, Brandi Rhodes and  Brian Hughes from the Jacksonville Mayor’s Office come down with a big ol $150k check for the Victim Assistance Advisory Council.

Cody mentions that there was “counterprogramming” for this event. I totally forgot that WWE put the Evolve 10th anniversary on the network against Fight For The Fallen. WWE’s history of counterprogramming failures will continue!

Kenny takes the mic and refocuses the event on the charity aspect. He changes his catch phrase for this event “I must bid you adieu, GOODBYE SMOOCH AND GOODNIGHT BOIIIIING!”

CONCLUSION

AEW hasn’t been around for too long, but this is their first forgotten show. Not much of consequence happens. It’s like a pre-season game except the teams are actually trying. The only real feud going in was Bucks/Brotherhood and that’s wrapped up after the main event. We get some unnecessary heat between Jericho and Page for the upcoming AEW men’s title match but it feels forced. You could easily skip from Fyter Fest to All Out and not feel like you missed anything.

Let’s compare and contrast with the third weekly TNA PPV from 2002!

Wrestling:

AEW again delivered. Sometimes all you need is good wrestlers in the ring together and just let ‘em fight. TNA’s Tag Tournament did not result in any bangers or even bongers, just blanders.

Story:
Neither company is doing well at this point. TNA just has a bunch of people with anger issues yelling at each other or bum rushing each other for no explicable reason. AEW is taking the saner approach; put the wrestling up front to cover for the lack of established relationships. The Jericho/Page build is more along the lines of TNA’s RAGE ARGUING but at least Jericho immediately explains why he jumped Page instead of what TNA is going to do; keep the reasons for acrimony secret for as long as possible because they don’t have a payoff. RUSSO!

No explicit movement with Moxley and Omega this go around. We aren’t sure why Brandi is being such a meanie but she’s sticking with it for another event!

Identity:

TNA has found it’s lowest common denominator lane and is sticking with it.

But what is AEW? Fight for the Fallen doesn’t answer any questions in that regard. It’s “wrestling first” but so was early Ring of Honor. The Code of Honor was a nice shortcut for good vs. bad and it felt like going to an underground hardcore show. AEW was slick and produced and had great action, but… were they ROH 2.0? New Japan? NXT? PWG with less jokes? It was hard to say. Getting Dynamite definitely helped transition the wrestlers into characters and the matches into storylines.

Audience Satisfaction:

AEW wins here again. The show ends with a great match, friends making up with each other, and a gift to charity. TNA wins with a pointless swerve and Jarrett beating Hall with a trophy. It’s barely a cliffhanger and nobody leaving that night could have felt super great on the way back to their car.

Best Matches
TNA
4 Way X Division Championship Match – TNA Weekly PPV 2

AEW
The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Brothers for the AAA Tag Titles – Double or Nothing 2019
Cody Rhodes vs. Dustin Rhodes – Double or Nothing 2019

Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho – Double or Nothing 2019
The Elite vs. The Lucha Brothers and Laredo Kid – Fyter Fest 2019
Kenny Omega vs. CIMA – Fight for the Fallen 2019

Next week: TNA’s fourth weekly PPV, featuring GODDAMMIT THE DUPPS, The Flying Elvis Impersonators, Satanists, Norman Smiley, NASCAR MAN, Kid Romeo and the reason I tape traded for these first 8 TNA PPVS back in the day! WHO WAS THE WRESTLER THAT ROPED ME INTO BUYING THIS TRASH ON VHS? Join us next time to find out!

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

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! 

Categories
Uncategorized Wrestling

Compare and Contrast TNA and AEW: AEW Fyter Fest 06/29/19

Hello, Gatecrashers! Let’s talk AEW! Last time we saw what might be the greatest first PPV for any wrestling company ever. Matches that ranked from good to unforgettable. Characters and motivations being established. A guy in a mask sitting on other guys in masks. It was AEW’s Double or Nothing.

All In and Double or Nothing showed that The Elite were capable of bringing it business wise. Only the most jaded would consider Double or Nothing a fluke. Fyter Fest wasn’t expected to beat Double or Nothing, but it was an opportunity for AEW to solidify it’s reputation as the cool alternative to WWE.

Fyter Fest had a unique setup for a couple of reasons. First, it was part of an annual video game fighting festival called CEO (Community Effort Orlando). The previous year had been a showcase for New Japan. Kenny Omega had helped put that show together and since he was the main contact for the CEO event, he brought AEW onboard.

The second strange thing is the name. Fyter Fest was a play on the disastrous Fyre Fest that was the subject of two competing documentaries around the time of CEO. In the alternate universe of BTE, Kenny became obsessed with Fyter Fest, making extravagant promises and nearly bankrupting AEW. The weird thing is… they are still using Fyter Fest in 2021. Fyre Fest is long in the rearview of popular culture. Maybe they can update the name every year to match whatever hilarious meme is big at the time. Like… I don’t know, Tiger King of the Ring 2020.

But enough background… IT’S TIME… FOR THE MAIN EVENT! I mean THE GOOD/BAD/MID of FYTER FEST 2019!

Well Handled: Bikini Babes

The set for the show has elements of Fyre Festival, mainly quonset tents and women in bikinis. Shockingly the camera does not linger on any of the bikini babes. They are there as part of the set. I mean, they could have had masculine presenting people on stage in speedos or whatever, but this is as tasteful as you can get with eye candy. The only interaction the wrestlers have is when Trent shakes one of their hands. No gross leering or groping. I’ll take it over the TNA cage dancers

Good: I’ll Buy In

The first match in the Buy In (watch the whole thing here) is a three way tag team match between The Best Friends, Private Party and the Skyzarian version of SCU. The winner gets a first round bye in the upcoming tag team title tournament.

The story of the match is the two veteran teams working over Private Party. Private Party get a lot of high spot pops early in the match. The Silly String causes folks in the front row to jump to their feet. After that SCU and The Best Friends isolate Cassidy for a while.

Impressive every time.

Skyzarian’s double team work here is fantastic. At one point Sky hits a reverse elbow on Cassidy. This starts a Rube Goldberg machine of moves; Kaz with a jumping lungblower, pushes Cassidy into a Sky kick, Sky Double Stomp assists a Kaz Unprettier. I’m such a sucker for this stuff.

In the end The Best Friends take control, hitting the Strong Zero for a win and a first round bye.

Great choice for an opening match. Having SCU and The Best Friends in there with Private Party gave the match shape instead of being a bunch of cool spots.

It’s sort of nuts to think how this match could be the main or semi-main event on a PWG show a year earlier.

BAD: The Horny Order

The Dark Order interrupts Taylor and Trent’s celebration with a video promo. Uno cuts a gross promo about how TBS will be their first victims and that “you never forget your first but don’t worry, we’ll make it quick.” Barf. Stu says “NO I WANT TO ENJOY EVERY SECOND OF THIS.” BARF.

Uno snaps his fingies and the lights go out. When they come up, the ring is surrounded by CREEPERS who don’t do anything for a full 30 seconds before the lights go down and they disappear. We get a shot of Alan “No Use For A Number” Angels as a lowly creeper.

This is what they call an “eVster eVgg”.

GOOD: NO MARVEZ ON THE BUY IN

Marvez is not at the desk!

I don’t know who these two guys are but they aren’t Marvez!!!!

Logan Sama, Goldenboy and Excalibur are a very strong booth for the Buy In. Logan is a Grime DJ and wrestling fan, Goldenboy does eSports commentary, Excalibur is, well, Excalibur. You’d think this combo might be a trainwreck but they’re really good!

Good: BTE content

There’s a pre-taped bit where the Bucks and Kenny parody the Fyre Festival documentaries. Fyter Fest is hemorrhaging cash, the only tents are tents left over from the Fyer Festival documentary, and they are stuck eating CHEESE SANDWICHES LIKE A BUNCHA PLEBS. They blew half the budget making the show so they have to cut 2 of the four models from the stage setup. A slender looking QT MarSHALL escorts a couple bikini babes backstage. They get replaced by mannequins in swimwear. It’s a weirdly satisfying payoff; the women weren’t there just to be satirical eye candy. They’re part of the story! Love it!

Mannequin 2: On The Move

MID: A Good Beach Read

This bit continues with Leva “The Librarian” Bates entering, then hearing SHHHHHUSSSHING from inside the tent on the stage. The two remaining real live models bail as Leva reveals “The Librarian” Peter Avalon. Peter charades-es that he and Leva should work together. When Leva rejects him, he throws the tent in the pool and knocks the head off one of the mannequins.

Leva and Peter then try to get the gamers to read books. Avalon does his best but he’s really cartoony and the whole thing feels half baked. I can’t believe they’ll be saddled with this inside baseball anti-gimmicks for over a year.

BAD: Shhhhhhhhhhhhit.

Allie (The Bunny) jumps around like a human can of Red Bull on her way to face off with Leva. Her gimmick is that she’s overcorrecting for being the weird demonic meanie in Impact by being a weird peppy band nerd in AEW. SHE DIED IN IMPACT BECAUSE SATAN.

This is the first ever 1 on 1 womens match in AEW and it… isn’t great. Leva spends a lot of time shusshing and Allie just isn’t *there* yet. All the credit to Allie, she has come on strong in late 2021. The match can’t decide if it’s a comedy match or an actual contest, which leaves it directionless. I liked it better on this second watch than when I saw it live, but it’s still pretty mediocre. It’s the first real “bleh” match in AEW.

“C’mere, I gotta read this to you.”

HEY BRITT BAKER STOLE THIS BIT

Allie wins after Peter Avalon accidentally distracts Leva by throwing her a book and then Leva doesn’t hold it in front of her face like she was supposed to but she eats a Superkick anyway.

I can’t give this a BAD but it’s definitely in lower MID territory.

GOOD: “The Roadd Dogg” Kenny Omega

There’s another backstage bit with Kenny having to do all the work to set up the instruments, but then Brandon tells him that Blink One Hundred and Eighty Two pulled out. Kenny is distraught. Short but sweet.

Shockingly Good: Jebaited

So, like, I don’t follow eSports so I definitely had to have Alex Jebailey explained to me. He’s the head organizer of CEO and eSports legend. He faced Michael Nakazawa at the 2018 NJPW show even though Jebaily had a broken ankle. You can watch that match here but I don’t recommend it. So this year it’s a HARDCORE REMATCH! JEBAILEY REVENGE!

It’s a fun match and the crowd is INTO IT. The oil spots are pretty fun. Jebailey doesn’t know how to hit the ropes, but that hardly matters. Jebailey beats Nak down with on of those big 8 button fighting sticks. They fight into the floatie pool with some more comedy bits before getting back to the ring. Nak wraps a corded Xbox controller around Jebailey’s neck and then hits the buttons. A table spot to the outside! Nak beats Jebailey with a kendo stick! Nak pulls a speedo out from under his tights! I’m still using exclamation points! Misses with the Venom’s Tentacles into a slightly mistimed RELEASE GERMAN BY THE CEO!  A BAG FULL OF JEBAILEY BRANDED ARCADE PUSHBUTTONS! BACK BODY DROP ONTO THE BUTTONS BY THIS DOUGHY GUY! MAGISTRAL CRADLE BY JEBAILEY REVERSED INTO A PIN! NAK WINS!

This was SO much better than it should have been. The comedy bits worked, the hardcore stuff protected Jebailey’s lack of athleticism, and the few moves he hit looked… okay! Fun stuff.

That’s it for The Buy In. Time for the PPV!

GOOD: NO MARVEZ IN THE MAIN SHOW!

“He’s the DJ, I’m the JR.”

The Grime DJ is replaced by the grim JR. Marvez starts to carry a cot and alarm clock with him to every venue since he pretty much lives in the back from here on out.

Good: Daniels vs. Cima

Awwww shiiiiiit, it’s Chrisopher Daniels vs. Cima. Two veterans who have worked together before. Cima was about 40 here, which in the modern era is considered “near peak”; you have all the experience and your body can still go. He shoots around the ring like a lightning bolt.



Daniels is a great choice of opponent. He’s not nearly as fast but he has so many counters that he can hang with Cima. They’ve also been wrestling each other on and off since 1999. 

The match only gets 10 minutes and it feels like they do the first half of a 20 minute match. There’s a little bit too much stalling which gets in the way of the pace. They really needed to cut some of the brainy stuff and keep the pace brisk.

In the end this was a credibility builder for the upcoming Omega/Cima match. Daniels is kind of a proto Omega; a strategist with a big fucking finisher. Cima wins this with a Metora. Good match given the time restraints.

MID: Nyla Rose is a nerd

Look at this nerd shit.

Good: I Dream Guillotine

Three way dance between Mayo Rhio, Genderswapped Aladdin Yuki Sakazaki and Nerdy Nyla Rose. Rose weighs as much as the other two competitors combined. She hits a ton of power moves and throws the two women at each other. The spots look very contrived. I did like when she put both of them in a submission hold at the same time.

The match is shaky all the way around. Riho and Yuki keep having timing issues. Nyla is always a mixed bag. She needs the right opponent to look good. The Flying Guillotine Knee’s setup is too long but it looks fucking deadly.

NO THANK YOU

Nyla is also stupid as fuck, she goes to the top instead of pinning, gets held up by Yuka, then goes for a Swanton after, like, two minutes. Riho moves, Nyla eats shit but then she CATCHES BOTH WOMEN after consecutive Lateral Presses. 

Look at Aubrey’s and Grey Shirt Guy’s reactions.

The match definitely picks up after this, it’s mostly EVERYBODY IN THE RING stuff which is so much more fun for 3 Way matches. Riho wins with a roll-though leg capture pin thing. Nyla jumps Riho after the match. Yuka makes the save but Riho pushes her away.

There were really two matches here. The first was a sloppy affair. The second was an exciting and clever match featuring the strengths of all three women. The end really saves this from being Mid. Worth watching especially for everything after the Guillotine Knee.

Mid: Revenge on the Nerds

MJF trashes the audience for a few minutes. It’s all very low hanging fruit here; gamers are smelly virgins who live in their mother’s basements. He then trashes his four opponents:

A Dollar Store Tarzan (Jungle Boy)
A 65 Year Old Grown Man who is still in his emo phase from High School
Sea Buscuit

Not MJFs best work here. Strangely it was too surface for a crowd that has been hearing AND SAYING these things for years. It’s hard to out-troll a room full of trolls.

Good: Revenge FOR the Nerds

Image courtesy of NBC Universal

This club has everything; scarf jerks, jungle twinks, balding goths, and millennial cowboys who keep missing their meds.

It is a fun mix of wrestlers here. You’ve got your guaranteed first AEW world champion Adam Page, your future main event heel with MJF, exciting midcarder with a weird gimmick Jungle Boy and lower card hardcore maniac Jimmy Havoc. This was all set up at Double or Nothing when MJF interrupted the AEW Title Gender Reveal, got into it with Page, then was chased out of the arena by Page, Havoc and… Boy. Based on that logic it should be a 3 on 1 match with everybody taking turns supericking MJF’s face until it looks like red jello, but instead it’s a competitive match between all four.

Jungle Boy is still acting like he was raised by jungle pigs or whatever here. He squats, picks at his hair, looks around vapidly… is Jungle Boy secretly a Dupp?

Beverly KILLS 90210

But then he does amazing shit like this and gets over immediately. 

It’s nice to have a match with some level of story in it. MJF and Page are in a mini feud so their interactions have more heat. MJF works over Page’s taped up hamstring, taking a moment to do Bret Hart’s taunt before getting the Sharpshooter reversed on him. MJF attempts to set up an alliance with Havoc by giving him a thumbs up. Havoc flips the ol’ bird in response. Smart stuff; they are both the most heel-ish guys in the match, but there is NO WAY IN HELL that Havoc would work with MJF. In other companies heels often work with heels regardless of personality. Havoc is a straight up punk and he has no respect for MJF.

The match ends when MJF ducks a Buckshot Lariat, which hits Havoc. Page with a Deadshot  to Havoc and the match is over.

Good, fun stuff here. Nothing world shattering but a good, safe exhibition of 4 talents.

Good: Jocks vs Goths

I love Allin. He looks like an Alkaline Trio album cover was an unlockable character in THPS2. He’s a fully realized character from day 1. The music, the paint, the bodybags, it all serves the character he made, a character that is basically him turned up to 11. His intro video is him wearing a printed out Cody “mask” which he then sets on fire.

The dash of story to this match is that Cody and Allin are 1-1 in the indies and this is the deciding match as to who is better. It’s a fun juxtaposition; the conventionally handsome All American Boy Cody Rhodes vs the brooding, darkly attractive “I can fix him” Darby Allin. Plus they are both pretty damn good wrestlers.

Excalibur tells the story of Darby’s uncle dying in a drunk driving accident with a five year old Darby in the car. “On that day Darby Allin lost all faith in humanity.” Fucking hell, Excalibur. JR says “Darby is not expected to win this match.” They’re setting up a great story here; the hero vs the anti hero, the veteran vs the rookie, the old school vs the daredevil, the man with nothing to gain vs the man with nothing to lose. This story KEEPS PAYING OFF for another year or so. They could easily put Cody and Allin back in a program tomorrow and it’d be compelling both in and out of the ring.

After all that, guess what, the match fucking rules. Darby mix and matches his very good technical wrestling with is daredevil work. He also gets in Cody’s head; he offers a handshake and then turns that into a hamerlock-Magistral Cradle. Cody LOSES it, slapping Cody and then throwing him in between the turnbuckles to hit the ring post. THEN HE DOES PUSH UPS LIKE A DICKHEAD.

Post Punk

Cody spends the next five or so minutes just wrecking Darby. Cody was usually the smaller guy in WWE, but here he’s the monster heel. Darby slams Cody’s hand into the ring post but is unable to capitalize. Cody keeps selling the hand; he can’t keep a grip on his underhook. Cody is still in control though. He throws Darby around. All the suplexes are released, dropping Darby on his back and neck over and over again. It’s an absolute dismantling.

Darby takes some control back after wrenching Cody’s hand during a stall suplex.

A firm grip during a handshake shows that you are ready to do business.

Darby then just twists Cody’s hand and wrist mercilessly to take control of the match. He straight up mounts Cody’s arm and reigns punches down on Cody’s hand. Things get more and more even from here; they trade moves and counters and pin attempts. Time is counting down. The big moves come out. An inverse Superplex by Cody, Darby BITES CODY’S HAND, COFFIN DROP TO THE APRON FUUUUUUUCK

How about a Knuckle Sammich?
Coffin Flop Sketch from I Think You Should Leave Season 2 on Netflix

Darby grasps at the body bag. Cody pump kicks him down and then puts Darby in the bag. He DISASTER KICKS DARBY, but has to take him out of the body bag to prove the shoulders are down. This takes to long. Darby kicks out. 1 minute remaining! Another kickout! Cody WHIPS DARBY with the weight belt! Cody is LOSING IT. Darby reverses the Crossroads, into a flipping Cutter, reversed into a Crossroads! Cody goes for the cover as time runs out! TIME LIMIT DRAW! 1-1-1! The rivalry continues and can do so forever as far as I’m concerned.

The crowd chants “FIVE MORE MINUTES”. Shawn Spears slides into the ring and gives Cody an unprotected chair shot which sucks. Cody is busted open the hard way. MJF runs in to make the save but it’s too late.

Bleh.

This match was pretty great even with the gross headshot at the end. The fact that it’s part of a very lengthy rivalry makes it even better. Necessary viewing for how to build a RIVALRY as opposed to a feud.

Good: To live is to fight, to fight is to live!

Another rivalry here with a twist. The Bucks vs. The Bros always have standout matches as seen in EVERY TIME THEY FIGHT but this time we get the full Elite vs The Lucha Bros and Laredo Kid. The Kid is definitely underrated in America. I have seen him wrestle live and he is legit. You should check out his match with Belt Collector Omega for the AAA title.

The Elite come to the ring in Street Fighter inspired gear. Kenny’s Akuma gear got lost or something so he just has the red hair and devil’s mark on his back. Matt Jackson makes Justin Roberts say “Round One… FIGHT!” Nick Jackson does “idle animation” in between moves.\

Unlockable Cosmetics

I’m not going to try and recap this match. Much like the last Bucks/Bros match, there’s no way to sum up what happens here. It’s just all SO FUCKING GOOD AND INNOVATIVE. I’ll just grab some gifs.



Kenny has to pull out the One-Winged Angel to put away Laredo Kid. He was always there to take the pin.

Match of the night here. The gifs don’t show how the match hangs together. It’s not just spots, it’s a series of moves that lead logically from one to the next. PLUS THEY ARE WILLING TO HAVE FUN EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE

Good: The Night The Lights Went Out In Daytona

Moxley vs. Janella is built around Moxley leaving the Deathmatches for the PG world of the  WWE and how Janella took up the mantle as the next big deathmatch wrestler. Technically this match is not part of Fyter Fest. It’s an optional bonus level. The match is Lights Out/Unsactioned because AEW doesn’t want to be responsible for what happens. The lights go down to signal the end of Fyter Fest and the beginning of… not Fyter Fest.

Janella and Mox both get their intros. I don’t think they should. Since this is not part of the official show, they should’ve made it feel different. Have one of the people in the booth leave because they don’t want to be part of it. Some of the ring crew bails. Whatever, that’s just my opinion.

Mox is absolutely jacked here. He looks like he dropped weight but kept his muscle. Janella looks completely outclassed. Janella has made some drastic changes between 2019 and 2021.

This is a good ass hardcore match. Early in the match Janella is offered a prosthetic leg from the audience, so he boots Mox in the face. Janella swantons into a chair. Mox gets a barb wire wrapped chair from the ring, puts it on Janella and stomps on it. This ends up biting him when he gets second rope Hurricanran-ed onto it. There’s a sick looking russian leg sweep from the apron onto a table.

Mox pulls out a barb wire board and puts it in the corner. Janella Fireman Carry THROWS Mox into the wire then drags him off the board. Mox is a bloody pincushion.

Then this LADDER SPOT FUUUUUU

UUUUUUUUUU

UUUUCK.

More barbed wire shenanigans happen. Mox drops thumbtacks on the mat, takes off Janella’s shoes and then repeated dumps him on the pile, eventually smashing his bare feet into them.

Facing de-feet. I’m sorry.

MORE tacks.  Paradigm Shift into the tacks and John Moxley wins.

Center of the Venn Diagram for S&M + Foot Fetish.

The only negative thing I’ll say about this is a personal gripe. I don’t have any problem with Deathmatch wrestling. I just want a reason why they are trying to kill each other. This felt like the GCW thing; they have deathmatches because they have deathmatches. It just seems like a bunch of lunatics throwing each other into glass because that’s just what they do.

The eventual Omega/Mox Deathmatch feels earned. A year and a half of assaults means they HATE each other. The deathmatch is the only way to end it. You gotta get there. Deathmatch wrestling for it’s own sake is rushing to the end of a story. It’s spectacle with no heart.

Good: Chicken Fight Reference

Omega runs down to the ring and V-Triggers Mox, then sandwiches him between two tables. DOUBLE STOP FROM THE ROPES TO THE FLOOR! Omega drags Mox to rampside(?), then starts beating him with the unused music equipment.

HAHAHAHAAAA WIPEOUT

Kenny goes to the back. The refs pick up Mox and take him to the ramp. Omega COMES BACK AND BRAINS MOX WITH A TRASH CAN! This is the AEW version of the Family Guy Chicken Fight. I hope that’s the only Family Guy reference I ever make.

Mox, beaten, lays on the ramp and laughs like a weird weirdo.

“Just remember something funny I heard on the radio.”

And that’s it! Fade to black!

This was another good AEW PPV. It doesn’t hold a candle to Double or Nothing. Fyter Fest didn’t need to prove as much. AEW just needed reasons to put on shows. It didn’t matter if it was a typical PPV or crossover with a gaming event. AEW needed to keep their name out there and put on good, strong shows that showcased their brand. This achieved that goal. It won’t go down as one of the greatest AEW PPVs of all time, but it’s good fun with a couple standout matches.

Let’s compare and contrast with the second weekly TNA PPV from 2002.

Wrestling:
TNA had one incredible banger of a match; the four way elimination match for the X Division title. I legit would have loved to see a match of that quality on this card. It was definitely much better than the Fyter Fest 4 way.

Other than that, AEW wins hands down. Even the most mediocre match outshone everything TNA had to offer that didn’t involve TFRCIYITPTE.

Fun Factor:
AEW definitely delivered on the fun. The Fyter Fest BTE bits to the Jabaley match to the Street Fighter costumes all add a level of pure enjoyment to the show. You can tell that everybody is having a good time.

TNA does not seem like anybody is having a good time. The poor women in the Lingere Battle Royale look like they’d rather be anywhere but in that ring. All the men are so pissed off all the time. The announcers just bicker bicker bicker. It’s NOT FUN. It’s tedious!

Story:
Both companies are working on why people are fighting. AEW has the win/loss thing but with this being the second PPV, they aren’t hitting it too hard. Neither company has any solid stories yet. AEW only has rivalries and TNA only has jingoism and racism, which aren’t really storylines. TNA hasn’t given us a reason to be invested other than “this person is an obvious face”, “this person is an obvious heel”, or “this person wrestle good.”

TNA did set up Shamrock with an actual feud vs. Mitchell and his New Church, but it smells of placeholder pasta. Jarrett is feuding with Hall for what seems like no reason other than they are “big names”.

On the AEW side, they are also struggling with storylines. The Mox/Omega feud is heating up. Mox is trying very hard to bring out the most dangerous version of Omega he possibly can and it’s working. MJF is kinda feuding with Page. Other than that there aren’t any true feuds or strong stories being told.

Identity:
TNA definitely solidified it’s identity this week. Misogyny, racism, jingoism, homophobia, X Division, Jeff Jarrett.

AEW also solidified its identity: wrestling, wrestling, fun, wrestling. AEW is a ‘wrestling first’ company to this day.

Best Matches
TNA
4 Way X Division Championship Match – TNA Weekly PPV 2

AEW
The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Brothers for the AAA Tag Titles – Double or Nothing 19
Cody Rhodes vs. Dustin Rhodes – Double or Nothing 19

Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho – Double or Nothing 19
The Elite vs. The Lucha Brothers and Laredo Kid – Fyter Fest 19

Next week:
TNA’s third weekly PPV, featuring more Johnsons, the debut of Monty Brown, the debut of… Buff Bagwell, a tournament for the NWA Tag Titles, and our first turn for no fucking reason! Let’s get into it!


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Compare and Contrast TNA and AEW: TNA’s 2nd Weekly PPV, 06/26/02

Hello, Gatecrashers! It’s time to take a look at the second TNA weekly PPV from June 26, 2002. I reviewed the first TNA PPV last week (check it out here) and it was not great! Jingoism, racism, sexism, homophobia and Jeff Jarrett as a main event heel. It’s going to be a while before TNA stops being the worst expression of American fears. At least I’ll have a lot to talk about!

———————————————————————–

Last week, Ken Shamrock won the Gauntlet for the Gold to become the AND NEW NWA champion. Former four time WCW champion (all reigns in 1 ½ months) charged into “top heel” position by running down the show just as it started, courting death after interrupting Toby Keith’s ode to boots, asses and 9/11, and then brawling with this week’s opponent Scott Hall.

TNA got it’s first look at fresh-faced AJ Styles who goes on to do some stuff of note. K-Krush started a feud with two NASCAR drivers and “Too Racist” Bryan Christopher. The Dupps did a bunch of shitty redneck tropes. A bunch of women who looked lost along with Alexis Laree, Francine and SHANNON (AKA DAFFNEY) came out to set up the Lingerie Battle Royal. Goldilocks smelled a fart. Ed Ferrara and his white guy dreads embarrass everybody in the world.

Ed. What are you doing. 

MID: WCW Booking is Back Baby!

Jeff Jarrett’s “My World” theme is so useful; the alarm noise lets us know that we can hit the fast forward button. Jeff insists that the purported main event of him vs. Scott Hall starts RIGHT NOW! Hall comes down with Toby Keith and Jackie Fargo.

Jarrett does some super awkward chain wrestling to start before Hall takes control. Jarrett gets dumped to the outside and comes face to face with TALL COUNTRY SINGER. Jarrett gets a sleeper hold on Hall for a full minute but somehow it feels much longer. They double down right afterwards, fulfilling the promise of TOTAL NONSTOP NOTHING. Hall takes control and things are pretty good for a couple minutes. He HOISTS Jeff up for the Razors Edge but K-Krush. makes the ga-ga save for some reason. Fargo decks K-Krush and then gets chased out by Bryan Christopher. Jarrett sets up the stroke but gets hit in the yambags by Toby Keith. He really should have put his BOOT IN HIS ASS FOR AMERICA. Hall gets the pin.

A fine but indicative start to a TNA PPV. Lots of interference, a dirty finish, and a celebrity getting over on a wrestler. It’s not the last time it’ll happen tonight!

BAD: Clap ‘Em?

It’s the debut of Cheex! Cheex is billed at 402 lbs. Ferrara cannot stop with the fat jokes. I mean he CAN’T STOP. Combine this with a TERRIBLE match and you have an huge waste of time.

Cheex was in the dark match that broke the ring last week. I’ll assume it was due to the ring not wanting to be party to shit wrestling.

Cheex wrestles a bald white guy who probably thought he was the next Ole Anderson.

MID: Gimmie my money!

Alecia is back, collecting money from an incredulous Jeremy Borash. The implication is that Alecia is a sex worker, but I’d rather make up a new reason ever week as to why she’s interrupting a wrestling show to get that cash.

Okay, so… Alecia lent Jeremy Borash $100 to get a haircut. Alecia was so offended by his “fashion don’t” frosted tips that she wanted her money back RIGHT NOW YOU LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT BORASH GIVE ME MY MONEY

YOU AREN’T BOY BAND MATERIAL BORASH

This gets a Mid since the camera cuts to Hair Care Fashionista Alecia during the Cheex match. I’d rather watch a dumb plot that doesn’t go anywhere than hear Ed make fat jokes while Cheex tries not to run the ropes.

BAD: 

They replay almost all of the “NASCAR drivers talking shit” segment from last week to prep the K-Krush “Your Kind” vs. Bryan Christopher “My Kind” six man tag. Which, turns out, isn’t a six man tag, I guess I misunderstood when Christopher pointed to “his kind” Hermie Sadler and Sterling Martin and then asked K-Krush to get “your kind” for a match next week. Bleh.

K-Krush has his own face airbrushed on his ring gear. Five stars.

SHIRTS IS WATCHIN’.

Christopher comes to the ring with Hermie Sadler and Sterling, oh, I’m sorry… STERLIN Marlin.

“Hurlin” Sterlin Marlin

Christopher is still dressing and acting like Grand Master Sexay; a pastiche of a white person’s idea of what a rapper dresses and acts like. It’s pretty hilarious that a guy who is appropriating black culture is accusing a black man of reverse racism.

Christopher has the lamest no-sell “Hulk Up”. He wiggles his knees and yells. The crowd LOVES everything Christopher does despite his utter lack of charisma. They are all over K-Krush. Krush gets crotched on the middle rope by Marlin and Sadler. Huge pop.

LOOK AT THESE ATHLETES.

Hip Hop Drop for the pin. Crowd is on their feet even though the match was very mediocre. I can’t figure out why they were so involved! WHAT COULD POSSIBLY MAKE THEM CHEER A BLAND WHITE GUY WHO IS FACING A BLACK GUY?!?!?

BAD: Lingerie Battle Royale

“The competitor with their clothes on wins the battle royale and will be crowned Miss TNA.” Ferrara says “We’re all winners in this one.” No. This is definitely a “No matter who wins, we lose part of our soul” situation.

Jeremy Borash fucks up immediately by introducing Francine first, skipping… some other lady. I don’t mean to be dismissive but 2/3rds of the women in this match are obviously not wrestlers. They have NO CHARISMA and do not look like they want to be there. Shannon (Daffney) shows enough personality for everybody else.

“YAAAAAAHHHH!!!!”

All of them are wearing the same set of top and bottom pajamas. Under that is a mix of normal to sexy underwear. Mileage may vary. SASHA IS OUT AND I AM UP.” – Ed Ferrara. GROSS MAN DON’T BONER TALK ME. When the women are eliminated they RUN to the back as fast as possible. This whole thing is more embarrassing than Ed Ferrara’s dreads.

Three women gang up on Francine to take her out of the ring. She has a wardrobe malfunction and fights to keep her pajama top on until she can get it figured out. Ferrara comes out to console her at ringside and cops a feel on Francine. “He said he’d be hands on but not that hands on.” – Mike Tenay. NO MAN STOP. Francine DROPS TO HER KNEES and takes off his belt like she’s about to give Ed a binger, then WHIPS THE SHIT OUT OF HIM with the belt which is the only good part of this trainwreck.

Taylor Vaughn wins the match. Francine whips her from behind. Who is Taylor Vaughn? I don’t know! I don’t want to look her up. I think she’s had enough bad press already. Her ‘reign’ as Miss TNA does not go well!

Alexis Laree was in this match as well. A complete waste of talent but at least she got paid. I fast forwarded through this match so IDK when she was eliminated. I don’t know when anyone was eliminated. When I saw someone roll out of the ring in their skivvies I just felt bad for them. Yes, run to the back. Run to the back and keep running until the Von Braun Center is far, far behind you. Run until the memories fade.

MID: Young Talent

Goldilocks interviews Apolo and gets interrupted by new character Bobcat and her client Daivd Young. We haven’t met these people so Bobcat is just some lady with a boa yelling at Goldi. David Young says NOTHING. Ed Ferrara says that “Bobcat isn’t professional but dresses like a professional.” Fucking hell.

David Young was the other ‘get’ from NWA Wildside along with AJ Styles. They wrestled each other A LOT in that promotion. David Young is… not good. He can’t hang with the early 00s Super 8/Ted Petty style and he can’t merge what he does have with a more ‘old school’ style. He doesn’t have a superstar look either. He and I can be best described as “doofy lookin’”.

OOF MCDOOF.

Bobcat flirts with Borash, distracing David Young throughout the match. He hits a “perfect Arn Anderson spinebuster” but gets distracted again before missing a moonsault. SUPERKICK WITH LEG SLAP by Apolo into an F-5 Stunner thingy. The match is fine but doesn’t need this ga-ga.

Bad/Mid: BE GAY DO WRESTLING

Joel Gertner does his boring horny rhyming and then channels Connor4Real’s “Equal Rights (Not Gay)” rap to explain why The Qintissential Heterosexual Studmuffin is managing The Rainbow Express. “There are people with alternative lifestyles who live better lives than you do.” PREACH. “When they get the ring, they are all business” which is a lie, they just do a bunch of gay baity moves; trying to hump their opponent, jaming their crotch on the back of someone’s head, sexy covers… which doesn’t get as much heat from the audience as you’d think.

In a rare moment of homophobia working to my favor, the Dupps refuse to wrestle the Rainbow Express. Bill Bherens drafts nearby wrestlers Chris Harris and James Storm to fill in. We don’t know it yet but this is the inception of one of TNA’s biggest homegrown successes, America’s Most Wanted.

Chris Harris is absolutely ripped in this match. In my head he always looks like Braden Walker.

Don West goes APOPLECTIC when this happens.

Lenny does “The Tiger Tamer” because he looks like Chris Jericho, I guess? Too bad he doesn’t wrestle or cut promos like him.

Storm and Harris win with a roll up. It’s really a story of two matches; One with all the “gay” wrestling that barely got heat and an actual tag match that was fine. Storm and Harris are legit good as a team right away. This match doesn’t show off what they are truly capable of but we’ll see plenty in the years to come.

Mid – Not very nice, very evil

Ricky Steamboat introduces Ken Shamrock. Shamrock cuts a pretty good promo, promising to defend the title around the world. Minister James Mitchell interrupts to announce that he’s on a MISSION FROM GOD BUT NOT YOUR GOD and his Disciples of the New Church are going to take control of the NWA.

I always liked Mitchell’s gimmick, but it has the same problem as most “spooky boo” gimmicks. Why are you here? What does wrestling do to help your eeeeevil plans? If he said that he wanted to have the NWA championship in his stable because it would help spread the “new gospel” to more people, but instead it’s just… I’m evil and I have wrestlers.

“MWAHAHA I AM GENERICALLY EVIL FOR REASONS.”

Mitchell challenges Shamrock to face PG-13 rated Slash, but R rated Malice jumps Shamrock from the back. “Might makes right, and the meek shall inherit… nothing.” That’s good stuff! WHY ARE YOU HERE THOUGH. GO BE SATAN IN THE WOODS

BEST but confusing – The X Division Championship Tournament but it’s not a tournament

With almost no ceremony we learn the X Division title will be crowned tonight. The competitors in this tournament are AJ Styles, Low Ki, Jerry Lynn and Psicosis. Which is nuts because…

“They (The Flying Elvises) defeated three of the four men in this round robin matchup!” – Mike Tenay

YEAH!!! I AGREE!

So you have three guys who LOST last week competing for a title and three guys who WON last week steaming the wrinkles out of their jumpsuits at home. Why didn’t they make last week’s six man tag a qualifier for the X Division? Why not book TFRCIYITPTE to win so they EARN the shot? You could even have Psicosis and Storm booked as well, but then Storm jumps into the Rainbow Express match, giving up his shot at the X Division title! But no, we get three losers and Psicosis for no particular reason.

We get another overcomplicated TNA specialty match. This is a double elimination tournament, you have to lose twice to be eliminated, but it’s also EVERYBODY at once, so it’s not a tournament. When you get a pin, another opponent enters and a new match starts. I’m still not sure what’s happening.

AJ is only 3 years into his career here and already looks super crisp. He lacks personality though; he’s a pretty face and an exciting moveset. He pins Psicosis in just under 2 minutes with the Styles Clash. That’s one loss for Psicosis.

Low Ki is next for some reason and lays his signature stiff kicks on AJ. Styles hits a hurricanrana FROM THE GROUND. These two had fought on the indies a bunch. They work very well together. Lots of innovative counters. Ki throws AJ over the top turnbuckle into the post, then pulls him back from the top rope into a Dragon Sleeper. This does NOT GET A SUBMISSION. They stiff the fuck out of each other until AJ hits a rolling German into a Facebuster for the pin. This also gets 2 minutes and feels like a compressed 6 minutes of a normal Ki/Styles match. One loss for Ki.

Lynn in next to take on AJ. Cradle piledriver immediately and gets a pin. TACTICS WILEY VETERAN Under 30 seconds there. One loss for AJ.

Psicosis vs. Lynn, which would be an AMAZING match if they got 15-20 minutes. It’s still pretty great although MUCH more WCW Cruiserweight than indie spectacle. Lynn and Psicosis are very smooth together. Lynn hits another Cradle Piledriver and gets a win. Psicosis is eliminated. 3 minutes!

Ki hits one Kawada style kick to Lynn’s chest to start. Ki’s strikes are so goddamn stiff. It’s almost like he’s not sure it’s a work. Low Ki would have loved working in UWF.  Ki just works over Lynn for most of their section. The announcers are saying that Lynn has been in for a while and is “running on fumes”. He’s been in for all of 5 minutes at this point. Lynn goes for the Cradle Piledriver, Ki reverses into a Triangle Armbar. Lynn pulls Ki up for a powerbomb for 2. Ki goes for a Ki Crusher but gets reversed into a rolling DDT. Lynn adds a level of psychology to Ki and it’s great to see. Lynn with another Cradle Piledriver, removing Ki from the contest.

AJ back in. Discuss clothesline but only gets two. A “STYLES CLASH AAAHHHGG!!!” gets reversed into a Hurricanrana. Mike Tenay says “We are 15 minutes into this contest! Can you believe it!” Yes, I can. They haven’t been in there for more than 5 minutes a piece. “THESE ARE THE GREATEST ATHLETES I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!” – Don West. He LOVES this style of wrestling so much. When he says “I’ve never SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS” you know it’s true. It’s like he’s becoming a wrestling fan in front of us. He loses his goddamn mind when AJ hits a leaping two foot jump off chest backflip dropkicky thingy.

The Leaping Jump Off Chest Backflip Dropkicky Thingy

A lot of great ACTION before AJ hits a Styles Clash. Now they both have a loss. Whoever gets the next pin or submission wins. Ricky Steamboat comes in to referee the final fall. There’s a long pin reversal situation before a double down. They go to the outside, AJ hits an inverted DDT on the floor. They go back to the ring where AJ gets two. Now they go into a segment with reversals into BIG MOVES; suplexes, DDTs, a spinning inverted Gory special, a flipping facebuster… it’s nuts. AJ wins with the Spiral Tap, which he don’t do no more.

This move goes to 11.

FIREWORKS CONFETTI THEME SONG AJ STYES IS THE FIRST X DIVISION CHAMPION

YEAH BRO GET IT!!!

“REMEMBER THE NAME, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! AJ STYLES! THE FUTURE OF OUR SPORT HAS ARRIVED!” – Mike Tenay

The entire AJ/Lynn section got 13 minutes and they are super great. If you like these two together, then you have a lot to look forward to in the next few months of PPVs. Unless you like good stories along with good matches. Then you won’t like it.

I know I kinda crapped on the rules and the short time that the first eliminations got but this is BY FAR the best match that TNA has had so far. The X Division is here and it will SAVE so many PPVs and TV shows.

Watch the match yourself! It’s on the official Impact Youtube page. Of course it’s uploaded in the wrong aspect ration. LOL TNA.

GOOD: This little dickhead who is now, like, 30 years old.

blah blah blah

Hahaha!

My reaction when Buff Bagwell wrestles

This is while the booth sets up next week’s show. A one night tournament for the Tag Titles. Scott Hall and Bryan Christopher vs Jarrett and K-Krush. Ken Shamrock vs. Malice for the NWA title. This is a pretty good starter feud for Shamrock but he doesn’t feel like the center of the show. 

————————————————————————

And that’s it!

This show is slightly better than the first weekly PPV, mostly due to the final X Division match. It’s so fucking good. I don’t care that the pins came so fast and furious. It made the match feel important. Everybody was pulling out all the stops and taking big risks to get their hands on the new belt.

Aside from that, we had a continuation of all the racist, sexist and homophobic storylines from last week. At least we didn’t have to deal with the Dupps for more than 30 seconds or roided up dick men.

Next week we’ll Compare/Contrast with “The Most Luxurious Gaming & Wrestling Festival of All Time”, AEW’s 2nd PPV; Fyter Fest!

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Compare and Contrast TNA and AEW: AEW Double or Nothing 05/25/19

Hey, Gatecrashers! My name is Barrett and I’ll be reviewing the early years of TNA and compare/contrasting them with AEW. Please go check out my review of the 1st TNA weekly PPV, especially if you like some jerk dunking on 20 year old wrestling tropes.

It’s time for the Good/Bad/Mid of AEW Double or Nothing, May 25, 2019.

————————-

Prologue:

“In May 2017, professional wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer made a comment that the American professional wrestling promotion Ring of Honor could not sell 10,000 tickets for a wrestling event. The comment was responded to by professional wrestlers Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks… They promoted and held an independent professional wrestling event called All In in September 2018, featuring wrestlers from ROH as well as other promotions. The event sold out in 30 minutes and had the largest audience in attendance for a professional wrestling show in the United States held and organized by promoters not affiliated with WWE or World Championship Wrestling (WCW) since 1993. The event was acclaimed, and it led to much online speculation that Cody and The Young Bucks would expand their ambitions and create their own professional wrestling promotion or do a second All In event. People in the television industry were also very impressed with the show.”

Wikipedia – All In (Professional Wrestling Event

All In kicked ass. Great card with no stinker matches. I’ll cover it down the line.

All In made such an impact that Tony Khan, son of billionaire Shahid Khan (part owner of The Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham F.C.), got together with Cody, Omega and The Bucks to start a brand new wrestling company: All Elite Wrestling. The four Elite members were signed as wrestlers and executives in the organization.

There were a couple of press conferences announcing signees such as SoCal Uncensored , “Hangman” Adam Page, Britt Baker, Joey Janela, Pac, The Lucha Brothers, The Best Friends and the biggest catch of them all, Chris Jericho.

The second press conference announced the date of the first official AEW PPV, aptly titled Double or Nothing. All In was a huge gamble and it paid off, but now it was time to push the chips back in and bet on this new venture.

—————-

DOUBLE OR NOTHING REVIEW STARTS NOW!

BAD: Alex Marvezzzzzzzzzz

Alex Marvez is incredibly frustrating on this show. He’s nowhere near as offensive as PrEDator Ferrara, mind you. Marvez is just not ready for this. Whoever put him behind the desk as a color commentator made a huge mistake. His first moments on camera you can see him mouthing along with Excalibur like a kid in an elementary production of “Cinderella”. His color commentary is a lot of insight-less stuttering and dead air.

He seems like a sweet fella.

“Are you excited for Double or Nothing, Alex?” “I… me… I… UHHH back to you, Super Dragon.”

MID: The Rules to the Casino (Battle) Royale

I
have seen a bunch of Casino (Battle) Royales since this show and I still don’t understand how it works. The Gauntlet for the Gold rules are so much simpler than this.  There are suits and groups and… buh. Also, we’re supposed to believe that the person who draws the Joker is always some huge surprise? Bleh.

Five Simple Rules For Wrestling My AEW Champion

Good: The Match I Just Trashed

The first “Clubs” of wrestlers is:

  • Dustin Thomas, a bilateral amputee
  • Malcom Jacob Freidman
  • Sunny Daze, indie wrestler and DDPY video editor
  • Brandon Cutler, wrestler, cameraman and huge nerd
  • Michael Naka-Naka-NAKAZAWA!

There are 3 good IRL stories here. Cutler was a good friend of The Bucks and came up with them in the indies. He quit wrestling ostensibly to take care of his family, but it really seems like he didn’t think he was good enough. The Bucks hired him for backstage work and then surprised him with an AEW contract on BTE. Very touching.

Sunny Daze, who I guess is an egg that turned into a man and then went mad with self-realization, was another invite. He had an in with being an employee of Diamond Dallas Page, but seeing how his hometown crowd reacted to his invite was very touching. They chanted “You deserve it” and they really meant it.

Dustin Thomas became a wrestler because he dedicated his life to it and he earned this spot. He’s still working in the indies.

When the bell rings, OF COURSE MJF immediately stomps on Dustin, yelling “SORRY ABOUT THAT LIEUTENANT DAN!” When people say that MJF has finally gone too far, remember this moment. He lives his life on the wrong side of the line.

MJF and Cutler were having a mini-feud on Twitter prior to the PPV. “YOU’RE JUST A FAVOR FOR THE YOUNG BUCKS! YOU’RE NOBODY!” MJF hollers, not knowing how over Young Boy Cutler would be in 2021.

Naka covers himself in oil, giving Sunny Daze an even cooking surface so he doesn’t stick to the pan.

The Diamond Mine.. er, the Diamonds enter next.

  • Brian Pillman Jr, looking like a time travelling Freebird.
  • Isaiah Cassidy, the second most over Cassidy in AEW.
  • Jimmy Havoc, who was released after his ex-girlfriend exposed him as an emotional abuser with alcohol addiction issues. AEW made sure he got some mental help before letting him go.
  • The BAAAD BOYYYY, Joey Janella with The BAAAD GIRRRL Penelope Ford. He’s so over here but his career lost steam after he became an AEW regular.
  • Shawn Spears, who is ALSO wicked over, gets the “10” chants and a huge pop when he takes off his head towel scarf thingy. Crazy to think how fast the shine came off that bloom.

The Hearts!

  • Silly” Billy Gunn!
  • “The World’s Coldest Math Teacher” Glacier!
  • “Jim Ross Will Call Him ‘Jungle Jack Perry’” Jungle Boy!
  • “Marqy Marq” Marquen!
  • “The ACEY of Hearts” Acey Romero!


Spades. I’m out of bits.

  • Luchasaurus
  • Marko Stunt
  • Sonny Kiss
  • Tommy Dreamer

So… it’s a battle royale. I like battle royales a lot, but there’s only so much you can say about them. There are some fun moments. MJF taunts pretty much everyone that gets in the ring, and then eats their signature moves. Rise, repeat. Great stuff. Janella smokes a ciggy, then Havok staples it to Joey’s forehead. Glacier freeze mists Sunny Daze, causing his blood to run cold. Brian Pillman Jr. with a nice looking springboard clothesline. ACEY ROMERO WITH A FUCKING TOPE SUICIDA.

JOKER IS ADAM PAGE AND HE GETS A BIG POP WHAT GOES AROUND COMES ARROUUUUUNNNDDD!!!!

Page wrecks shop when he gets through the ropes. There are still a bunch of people in the ring. Janella and Page have a history from All In so they trade blows in the center of the ring. Acey POUUUUUNCEes Marko over the top rope onto Private Party.

Dustin Thomas hits a 619 on Janella and then this crazy 450 pull up… just look at the gif.

What do you even call this?

Janella takes a scary chokeslam from the ring to the floor through a table. Sonny Kiss shows the Hardcore Legend the Butt Butt. Orange Cassidy wanders into the ring, hits Sweet Shin Music on Tommy Dreamer and then gets eliminated from a match he wasn’t even in.

Page appears to have won after “low bridging” Luchasaurus but MJF, who snuck under the bottom rope like a sneaky sneak, sneaks back in the ring and sneakily throws Page over the top. Page skins the cat, buckshot lariat, MJF over the top. PAGE WINS THE CASINO (Battle) ROYALE TO FACE OFF AGAINST SOMEONE FOR THE AEW CHAMPIONSHIP AND HE DEFINITELY WILL WIN BECAUSE HE’S IN THE ELITE AND THEY ARE ALL GOING TO GET THE TITLES RIGHT AWAAAAYYYYYY!!!!

Alex Marvez calls the whole thing like a golf match. “Wow. That was quite the move from Page.”

Mid: SHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhutup

Kylie Rae gets an interview segment with Alcia Atout and, god, she’s just so fucking bubbly. Then “The Librarian” Peter Avalon sssshhhhhhes the women to be quiet. Leva Bates “The Librarian” shusshes Peter and then they shush each other while Kylie struggles to keep a smile on her face.

TFW Mom and Dad are fighting.

I don’t think I can Bad a segment with Kylie in it. The Librarians will continue to shush people for a long time. Leva hasn’t officially dropped the gimmick. The bit was that AEW is making fun of bad gimmicks but if it’s a bad gimmick then don’t saddle someone with it for 2 years.

Kylie ended up leaving AEW due to mental health issues. I know what it’s like to appear happy and smile when I’m around people or performing, but then to fall into depression as soon as I am alone. Kylie retired in 2019 but she has recently returned to wrestling. I hope she’s happy!

GREAT: SAMMY PANDA HEAD

SAMMY PANDA HEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good: Twinsies!

Sammy Guevara faces “Superbad” Kip Sabian. They have similar looks, similar wrestling styles and similar asshole cocky heel behavior. Sammy morphs into the heel; he does more taunts, and is generally more of a dick. What really makes the match work is that it’s “really good wrestling”. The audience doesn’t know these two. They get the crowd into the match by, shocker, wrestling. They play their roles, they hit their moves, they tell a story, and they do a bunch of super impressive high flying. It’s two equals proving who is better through pure wrestling.

Scary indie wrestling moment of the match:

NOOOOOOOOO

Match ends with Sabian getting the knees up on Guevara’s unreal 630 splash then hitting the Deathly Hallows for the pin.

Good: “This is the worst column I have ever been in!”

It’s hard to go wrong with SCU (Christopher Danlies, Kazarian, Scorpio Sky) vs. OWE’s Stronghearts (CIMA, El Lindaman, T-Hawk), two veteran teams who know how to work and work a crowd. They set the pace instead of trying to steal the show. This match isn’t Do Fixer vs. Blood Generation good, but CIMA has barely lost a step in the intervening 13 years. It’d be nearly impossible for these six competitors to have a bad match. They have to TRY and fuck up, and even then it’d still be better than any Dupps match.

The last two minutes are shnertz and impossible to sum up. The finish is Kaz and Daniels hitting the BEST MELTZER EVER, which is a twisting moonsault to assist into a piledriver. Great opener to the main card.

Please give me John Silver vs. El Lindaman! Squat meaty men slapping squat meat!

BAD: Marvelous Marvez Moment

Alex Marvez: Excalibur, a NINE HOUR time difference between here and China. I was talking to–

JR: More than that.

Marvez:  (sputtering) Well, I mean–

Excalibur: (Talks over Marvez to get him to shut up)

Later Marvez says that Kaz, Daniels and Scorpio are finding their way as a team RIGHT AFTER EXCALIBUR SAID HOW DANIELS AND KAZ WERE IN THE ADDICTION FOR YEARS.


Good: AAAAAWWEEESOMMMMEEEE KONG.

Kylie Rae vs. Nyla Rose vs. Britt Baker are scheduled for the first women’s match in AEW history. Before the match starts, Brandi Rhodes interrupts from the ramp. She’s in her FULL GEAR, teasing that she’s inserting herself into the contest. BUT IT’S A FUCKING FAKEOUT HERE COMES AWESOME KOOOOOOONGGGG!!!!!!!!!!! The crowd goes unglued for the first big surprise of the show.

“What is Welfare Queen doing in the Impact Zone?”

After everyone in the ring stops praying to God for mercy, the match starts.

Kylie is the best overall wrestler in the match. She works crisp and sells strong. On top of that she has a great, identifiable character. If you liked NXT Baley, then you’d love Kylie.

Kong works super stiff and bumps throughout the match. This is even more impressive since she hadn’t worked in a while and had a serious back injury. The moments when Nyla and Kong match up are pretty special. You don’t get a “hoss fight” on the women’s side very often.

Baker looks good in this match, but it’d be a while before she really came together in the ring and as a character.

There’s very little of the “two people out of the ring, two people in the ring” until the end. Nyla speared Kong into the stairs, brains herself and neither of them make it back inside the ropes. At the end of the match Kylie gets 2 countering an O’connor Roll into a DEADLIFT EVEREST GERMAN, but takes her eye off the ball for a moment, allowing Britt to Superkick and Ushigoroshi for the pin.

GUUUHHHH.

It’s a shame that Kylie Rae wasn’t able to stay with AEW. A lot of the complaints about how shallow the women’s division was would have been squashed with her around. I would have loved to see her vs Thunder Rosa in an AEW ring.

GOOD: A Hidden Gem

Best Friends vs. The Hybrid2 in an EXTREMELY good, fun match. I’m running out of hyperbole for this PPV. To be honest, the Best Friends look outclassed in this match. They’re still great, don’t get me wrong, but Angelico and Evans are just so slick, making their complicated high flying look easy. Evans is still using the same offense he did in 2004 but crisper and safer. 

JUMP OFF A GUY ONTO A GUY

The finish is a Doomsday Sexy Chuckie Knee followed by an assisted Stump Tag Team Crusher from The Best Friends.

The crowd was HOT for the last half of this match, giving it the ol’ “This is awesome!” chant. Put these teams in a best of 7 series for 2022!

Bonus GOOD for this match: Trent’s Bill Murray kneepad. 

BAD: “WHO ARE YOU?”

An excerpt from my first Gatecrashers Article “History of the Dark Order

“The Best Friends were facing off against The Hybrid2 at the inaugural AEW PPV, Double or Nothing. The Best Friends picked up the win after 25 minutes of intense action. The two teams met in the center of the ring in a moment of respect. Jack Evans and Angelico were happy to shake hands and move on, but the Kings of Hug Style weren’t leaving until hugs were had by all. Just as the teams embraced, the lights went out.

The announcers were confused. They guessed the blackout was due to the lack of experience by a fresh tech crew.

The lights came back, revealing a bald warrior and a hulking masked man standing in between The Hybrid2 and The Best Friends. The lights went to full black again.

When the lights came on this time, the ring was surrounded by men in black and green masks. The grunts yanked Chuck and Angelico to the floor, allowing the bald man and his masked associate to beat down Trent? and Jack Evans. A beat down ensued, the Hybrid2 and The Best Friends eating finisher after finisher.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the crowd started to turn, chanting “WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU?” while Trent? ate a tag team finishing move. Only a smattering of boos were heard as the hulking man sat on a throne formed by his henchmen’s own bodies.

Despite Stu and Uno’s best efforts, the Dark Order was born into confusion and apathy.”

So it didn’t go well is what I’m saying.

GOOD (but just barely): AAAAAWWEEESOMMMMEEEE. KONG.

6 Woman Tag! Team 1 is Riho, Ryo Mizunami and Shida. Riho comes out with all the personality of a stick of margarine. Mizunami makes up for the charisma sink that is Riho by doing EVERYTHING; dyed red hair, wild gear, sunglasses indoors, yelling and posing. Shida can’t hold a candle to Ryo’s energy but she looks like CM Punk next to Riho.

Team 2 is Yuka Sakizaki, Emi Sakura and Aja Kong. A MAGICAL GIRL, a genderbent Freddy Mercury, and a gum-chewing Kaiju with a trash bin. This team makes no sense.

The big problem with this match is it feels like an exhibition. It’s not to say the women in this match aren’t good, they are, but nothing feels like it means anything. There’s no heels or faces. It’s pretty much a soccer “friendly” if the match had Jack Lambert working midfield. Aja Kong is Lambert for this metaphor. Jack Lambert was a linebacker with no teeth who hated quarterbacks.

Aja gets good pops, but they are, like, respect pops. It’s obvious her knees are shot. A lot of the match consists of folks jumping at her so she can drop them on their heads or punch their teeth out. She’s literally 3 times heavier than Riho. Kong treats her like a labrador with a rubber ball. It’s entertaining in it’s own way.

Emi Sakura is the only one working a heel style, but she’s dressed as Freddy Mercury, who is as pure an IRL face as you could ever have. She gets the crowd to stomp and clap the rhythm to “We Will Rock You”, which causes the hard came to literally shake.

BUT THEN THE END GETS BOTCHED! Emi hits a moonsault on Shida, gets two but the bell rings and then Shida’s music plays WHOOPS YOU FUCKED UP.

The actual finish is Kong accidentally backfisting Emi in the face, causing her brain to fly out of her ear. Shida clips Emi with the Ōhōri no Tamashii for the three count.

A good popcorn match in that it feels like eating popcorn. Good but not memorable.

GOOD/BAD: TNT WE KNOW DRAMA

KABLURSH!!!

This is so fucking great but also so fucking corny but also so great but also so… fucking… Cody. The crowd EATS IT UP.

GREAT: Brothers don’t shake hands. Brothers gotta hug!

There’s a lot of meta setup in this match. IRL brothers Cody and Dustin were teased to face off multiple times in the WWE but it never worked out. They finally had a match at Fastlane in 2015. By this point Stardust (Cody) had become a shitty version of the 1966 Riddler in a Rockstar Energy Drink costume. Golddust (Dustin) was wrestling his brother to… get him to stop being Stardust? I guess? They got about 9 minutes and then Goldust won with a crucifix pin. The ref screwed up the count so the finish didn’t even look right. BOO BAD MATCH.

As far as the AEW build goes… it’s MUCH  better! Brother vs. Brother! Nightmare vs. Natural! Generation vs. Generation! The video packages are stellar. Dustin sheds himself of Golddust creating a new face paint of red and black to merge The Bizarre One with The Natural. Cody, on the other hand, is looking to take Dustin out of the game for his own good. Cody is the hero and the villain, the young gunslinger looking to retire the old broken down old sheriff.

ADDITIONALLY, these are both second generation wrestlers, the sons of the great Dusty Rhodes. Dusty passed away about 4 years before Double or Nothing. His legacy weighs heavily on the ring.

So there’s all that. And they. Use. All. Of. It.

Fuckyoudust

Dustin is on fire in this match. He pulls off moves we haven’t seen him do before. He does a rolling senton off the apron! He also gets in his hits; powerslam, uppercut from the mat, rackin’ someone in the jewels.

Cody entered as the most over face in AEW, but he tweens and heels as the match goes on. He taunts, he powders, he drop toe holds Dustin into the exposed turnbuckle busting Dustin open, he WIPES HIS BROTHER’S BLOOD ON HIS CHEST.

Once Dustin starts bleeding things get… uncomfortable. He ends up with a full face of red, half from his paint, half from the blood. The audience goes quiet as his blood stains the mat. Cody looks at the splotches of blood on the canvas. You can see a moment of doubt on his face. “What am I doing?”

Fuck.
FUCK.

Excalibur calls it a “WATERFALL OF BLOOD” which sounds like a song from Metalocalypse.

Cody kicks the shit out of bloody brother until the eventual comeback which involves this moment I blocked out.

Dustin’s got a hankerin’ for a spakerin’.

Dustin gets his revenge, hitting a superplex and a CROSS RHODES but only gets two. The crowd is on their feet. I can’t describe how good and engaging this match is. Cody hits the DISASTER KICK into CROSS RHODES for two! Cody is COVERED his Dustin’s blood.

This is, like, 4 minutes after the last gif.

Dustin hits ANOTHER CROSS RHODES for two! People in the audience are making prayer hands. They clubber and throw each other around. Cody hits a VERTEBREAKER followed by CROSS RHODES for the finish.

“If you think I look bad, you should see the other guy! He’s right there!”

Dustin starts unlacing his boots in the center of the ring. This goes by pretty quick, but if you’re a wrestling fan you know that when someone leaves their boots in the ring, they’re leaving the business. Cody re-enters and Dustin backs into the corner. Dustin is visibly crying. Cody takes the mic.

“You don’t get to retire here. You don’t get that. Cuz I gotta ask you a favor. In front of God and the whole world. Before AEW was a thing, before we filled this place up, it was me, it was Kenny, it was Matt, it was Nick, it was Tony. And I put my name on a piece of paper for our show next month in Jacksonville for “Fight for the Fallen”. And you know what the match I put my name down on? It was myself and a partner of my choosing against what I think is the best tag team in the world, the Young Bucks. But Dustin, I don’t need a partner. I don’t need a friend. I need my older brother.”

They cry. They hug.They bleed.

——

I also cry! FUCK MAN.

EVERYBODY thought this was Dustin’s last match. Dustin gave a blood sacrifice to wrestling that day, the same blood sacrifice his father gave over and over. Instead of this being his final ritual, it signaled another re-birth for the Rhodes that everyone had given up on, the Rhodes that had given up on himself. And now, two years later, he’s still in the ring and running his own school for the next generation who grew up watching Cody and Dustin and Dusty. 

Good: A Big Belt, a bigger asshole.

The audience DEFINITELY needed a break after Cody/Dustin. What better way to switch things up then to give them A BIG BELT and A BIG BRET HART. Bret introduces the AEW World Title, which I think is a fucking rad looking belt. It’s a mix between WCW’s Big Gold and the IWGP Heavyweight Belt before New Japan made it look like a gaudy X-Wing.

“Hangman” Adam Page, who, as we ALLLL know, becomes first AEW Champion, joins Bret in the ring. But then that sneaky sneak MJF does not sneak out but instead just walks to the ramp. Before he even starts talking the audience shouts “ASSHOLE”. Excalibur says “They’re giving him an anatomy lesson.”

MJF says “LOOK OUT BRET THERE’S A FAN IN THE RING”, referencing the recent WWE Hall of Fame ceremony when a fan jumped Bret and then got the shit kicked out of him by The Revival.

MJFs whole promo here is stellar. He’s just so clever and cutting. I’d hire MJF to sit in my office in the winter because he’s a HEAT MACHINE. Bret Hart can barely stop himself from smiling when he’s getting roasted. Jungle Boy, Jimmy Havoc, and Page surround MJF and beat the hell out of him. It’s great! Take that, jerk!

GREAT: Bucks vs. Lucha Bros for the AAA Tag Team Titles

Quick backstory: The Bros jumped the bros at an AEW press conference. The Bucks then beat the other bros for the AAA Tag belts. Now they fight!

The Lucha Brothers entrance gear is, of course, fire. They look like hella evil hardcore kids.

The Young Bucks pay tribute to TNA’s famous Flying Elvis Impersonators from my first review.

What a shock, The Lucha Brothers and The Young Bucks have a fantastic match. It’s masterful work. These teams mesh in a very special way. If you are a Bucks hater, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe imagine it’s a different team that you don’t have a preconception of. A team like, I don’t know… Generation Me. Maybe that’ll help you appreciate this pure gooooooold!

I’d like to pick my favorite moments from this match but it’s not a match of moments. It’s a match of flow, of non-stop storytelling, of TACTICS. So saying “This crusher was unreal” or “The counter to the Driver blew my mind” doesn’t make sense. Like a good movie, you need context for the beautiful shots and compelling plot.

ANYWAY, they kick the shit out of each other in a myriad of ways. 

The Bucks win with a MELTZER DRIVER and retain the AAA titles.

Five stars. FIVE “FIVE STARS” STARS.

GOOD: Chris Jerk-io vs Kenny No-Win-a

THE MAAAAAIN EVENT! These two tore it up in New Japan about a year before. Jericho was on a world tour to prove he’s the best by attempting to Bruiser Brody his way through the top stars of NJPW. Omega, then IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, defeated Jericho in a brutal No DQ brawl. Jericho beat the crap out of Kenny and is looking to do it again.

Jericho’s entrance is SO AWESOME. He has body doubles pose as different Jericho eras. Jericheras? 

Lionheart

Listicle Jericho
Lite Brite Jericho
Painmaker/The Alpha Jericho

Judas plays and nobody knows the words and it’s… pretty weird?

Kenny enters as NJPW Kenny Omega

No Eyebrowed Angel.
This happens at about minute two.

This match mirrors their NJPW bout at the start. Jericho and Kenny throw each other around on the outside. Kenny leaps on the barrier for a springboard moonsault, gets caught by Jericho who pushes him into the front row. Jericho grabs a camera and starts filming Omega. You can set up a fun Disney 4D experience by spraying water in your face right when Kenny spits a drink into the camera lens.

AEW Double or Nothing Brought To You By KleenBrite Car Wash

Somewhere in all this Kenny gets popped in the nose and bleeds through the rest of the contest.

Jericho pulls a table out from under the ring, eats a baseball slide into the table, then Omega diving onto the table onto Jericho, then Omega drops the table on Jericho, then springboard double stops the table. I haven’t seen a table get abused this much since I tried to teach myself SQL.

Kenny takes over after turning Jericho into a piece of used gum. Lots of crisp Omega offense. Jericho counters his way out of disaster more than once. Jericho shows Kenny what the top of the table looks like by tossing him through it. Jericho again “Bruiser Brody”’s himself into control of the match. Jericho counters an Omega leap into a Codebreaker for a two count.

Another slick counter by Jericho; Kenny goes for the V-Trigger into the ropes. Jericho absorbs it, grabs the ankle and then turns it into a Walls of Jericho and then a legit Liontamer. There’s an awkward DDT reversal from Jericho to Kenny but they are both professional enough to know that KENNY should go for the pin based on what happened before the fuck up. They come back around to it later and nail it. Kenny sells the codebreaker like he’s got a slinky for a spine.

Jericho hits The Judas Effect for the FIRST TIME EVER and takes the win in a stellar rematch.

Another monster match here for Double or Nothing. Maybe it shouldn’t have been the main event considering how epic Cody/Dustin and Bucks/Lucha Brothers were. There’s no way to predict that kind of thing though.

GREAT: ALL FUCKING IN

Jericho does some masterful heel work after the bell. He shits on the fans, and insists that AEW exists because of him. “Chris Jericho is AEW. This is not a company for the fans. This is a company for me.” FUCK THAT’S SO GOOD. He demands a thank you AND THEN FUCKING JON FUCKING MOXLEY RUSHES IN THROUGH THE STANDS AND ROLLS INTO THE RING! THE CROWD GOES MENTAL!


Jericho berates Mox and gets a PARADIGM SHIFT!!! The ref also learns that THE PARADIGM IS NOT THE SAME AS IT WAS!!! Mox is eating this up. He looks like a new era Stone Cold here. Mox pulls up Kenny for another Paradigm Shift, but Kenny fights back. They tumble out of the ring, then fight through the crowd, up to the top of the giant stack of poker chips by the stage. DEATH RIDER OR WHATEVER ON TO THE CHIPS! MOX THROWS KENNY OFF THE STACK TO THE STAGE BELOW!!!!

AEW Double or Nothing brought to you by “Y: The Last Man”

FADE TO BLACK THE END WOWOWOWOWOW

Conclusion: It’s pretty much a perfect first PPV. AEW had a lot of pluses that most new companies don’t; money, a built in fan base, money, knowing what pitfalls to avoid, money, established stars, money, top tier production and money. It’s a show for wrestling fans by wrestling fans.

So let’s finally, FINALLY Compare/Contrast with TNA PPV #1!

IDENTITY

Per the “My World” podcast Jarrett wanted to make sure there was something for everyone in TNA, so he made sure the show had a variety of acts without considering IF THEY WERE WORTH HAVING. TNA tried to appeal to everyone in some misguided belief that if you hit all those demographics they will keep coming back. The problem is it robs the product of an identity. It’s everything and it’s nothing. It’s like making a stew using one ingredient from every aisle in a supermarket, like a demented Guy’s Grocery Games.

AEW made sure that there was something for everyone, as long as that something was WRESTLING. Singles matches, battle royale, tag matches, trios matches, legends, surprises and more. Anything that wasn’t directly happening in the ring was kept pretty short or played to the drama of the next match. Highly produced video packages instead of long promos. Comedy bits that don’t wear out their welcome. No matches created only for cringe humor. Women who wrestle instead of appealing to the non existent “I only watch wrestling for the hot chicks” demographic.

GIMMICKS

The first match for TNA was a trios match between AJ Styles, Low Ki, and Jerry Lynn vs. The Flying Elvis Impersonators (Jorge Estrada, Sonny Siaki, Jimmy Yang). The first match of the Double or Nothing main card was a trios match between SCU and The Stronghearts.

Again, on the “My World” podcast, Jarrett wanted these unknowns to have gimmicks. So he dressed up three guys in “Halloween Spirit Overstock” Elvis costumes. Styles, Ki and Lynn were three mismatched dudes with six packs.

SCU came in with a built-in gimmick of… hating cities, I guess… but the Stronghearts didn’t have any gimmick other than “they are Japanese wrestlers who work in China”.

Here’s the thing I didn’t cover in my TNA review; everybody in that trios match got pops in their 8 minute spotfest. They got pops for THE COOL MOVES and SINGULAR CHARACTER MOMENTS. As soon as Ki booted an Elvis in the torso, everybody knew everything they needed to know about him; intense kickman hate chests, is intense. Same for when AJ hit a dive or Jerry did a suplex. The Elvis’ did flashy offense but got muted, confused responses. What does doing a standing flip leg drop have to do with dressing like The King? What are we watching?

AEW didn’t try to do that. Everybody in SCU is an individual and you can tell that from the moment they enter. Same themed gear, but they all talk, walk, and act differently. And The Stronghearts come in with even less continuity. So what gets them over with the audience? Great fucking wrestling. I didn’t know who El Lindaman was when I saw this show, but I did afterward. The WRESTLERS become interesting in large part due to their WRESTLING. Having a gimmick just to have a gimmick is what leads to Mantaur, Bastion Booger and Glacier.

This is true of pretty much the whole AEW show. The only dumb gimmicks were to make fun of dumb gimmicks. Nobody had to dress like a wang to “get over”. Especially since Joey Ryan wasn’t there. THANK GOD FUCK JOEY RYAN

WRESTLING

It’s very unfair to “apples to apples” 2002 TNA and 2019 AEW. TNA had some good talent in the first show but they weren’t big names yet so they jerked the curtain or worked the mid card. TNA figured out pretty quickly that AJ Styles was their ace though.

AEW had 3 of the best wrestlers in the world as executive vice presidents and another who was very good and a great storyteller. On top of the EVPs, they had dozens of wrestlers you could build a small to large promotion around. TNA didn’t have that. They had Jeff Jarrett, Ken Shamrock and Scott Hall.

That being said… in spite of its name, TNA is a wrestling show. If you have to cut stuff for time, maybe don’t cut the wrestling? I’m not EXCITED about a Dupps match, but I’d take 8 more minutes of Bo Dupp jumping 6 feet in the air while sniffing his butthole than a set up for a women’s lingerie match that was happening NEXT WEEK.

CONTENT

AEW showed wrestlers wrestling. All other aspects of their personality were secondary to their desire to be the best wrestler possible. They didn’t change their gimmicks, they didn’t dunk on them, they didn’t fall into lazy racist tropes and they didn’t tell you that one gender was solely there for you to look at. They had wrestlers wrestling.

Every woman’s appearance in TNA was to be ogled or belittled. Straight wrestlers were dressed up as gay stereotypes solely to infurate the audience. Wrestlers were dressed up as dicks in hopes that it’d get some reaction. A black man was told to get “his kind” to wrestle a white man’s “my kind”.

Here’s the thing you have to keep in mind. This wasn’t edgy content or “owning the libs”. This was just good ol’ bookin’, guaranteed to get heat on folks and pops when the gay/poc/woman gets her comeuppance.

Here’s the thing; TNA wasn’t a house show. This was supposed to appeal to more than the Huntsville audience. A lot of America had moved on from this kind of lazy storytelling. Gay characters weren’t just the villian or the victim anymore, they were the best friend of the hero! 

Okay, there was still a lot more work to do but it was definitely an improvement.

And this is where Jarrett’s “something for everyone” philosophy falls apart. There wasn’t something for everyone. There was something for every straight cis white male. Little People to laugh at. Gays to be afraid of. Black men to be mad at. Women to leer at. Big strong white men to be emulated.

I was wrong, it wasn’t a stew using one ingredient from every aisle in a supermarket. It’s a stew using tainted ingredients.. A stew of toxic masculinity.

——————————————————-

And not to say that AEW is perfect, but they were and still are doing their best. Sonny Kiss was never called out as being gross when they performed the “Butt Butt” on Tommy Dreamer. Nobody said they were disgusting and should keep that stuff behind closed doors. None of the announcers told you to look at this body part of Britt Baker or slut shamed Shida.

Here’s an example of AEW doing more: they made it “sensory inclusive” so those that have issues with loud noises and bright lights could have a space to go where they could still watch the show with less intensity. They had noise-cancelling ear covers to mute the explosions. Nobody would have known if they hadn’t done it. It cut into profits but it was the right thing to do.

If wrestling should have something for everyone, then it should be for everyone.

Except you. Get the fuck out of here.

——————————————————-

WOW THAT WAS HEAVY

Next column, TNA PPV #2,  June 26, 2002 in Huntsville, Alabama! I swear it won’t be 6000 words.

—————————————————-

Barrett Tribe is a writer and comedian based out of Austin TX. All opinions and errors in this article are his, so don’t blame Gatecrashers. Follow Barrett on Twitter @bdottribe.

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Compare and Contrast TNA and AEW: TNA’s First PPV, 06/19/02

Hey, Gatecrashers! My name is Barrett and I’ll be reviewing the early years of TNA and compare/contrast them with AEW. Twenty years of changes in the business and culture seems like a fertile ground for me making a lot of jokes about Jeff Jarrett and gushing about The Elite.

These first few Compare/Contrast articles will be pretty long; there’s a lot to set up here. Down the line I’m hoping to combine the TNA and AEW reviews into one big supercolumn.

So let’s get into the Good/Bad/Mid of TNA’s inaugural PPV, 06/19/02

—————————————————————————————

Back in the early 00s I tape traded to get the first eight TNA PPVs on VHS so I could see one particular wrestler in action. Who will it be? Put your bets in now!

BAD: Vamp-pires everywhere!

During the dark match right before the show starts, the ring breaks.

The cameras go live. To buy time TNA had every person who came to the ring in the next 15 minutes have an entrance, and I mean EVERY person. Don West enters dressed like he’s ready to unwindulax.  Ed Ferrara is next, looking like a Predator that owns a strip club. He spouts out the TNA double entendre as fast as he can, confirming that he is a in fact Predator that owns and DJs at a strip club. He probably hunted down and captured local dancers and put them in the TNA cages before taking them back to Planet Predator.

Total Nonstop Aliens vs Predator

Tenay, who is too boring to get an entrance and is already glued to the announcer’s table, explains the Gauntlet for the Gold, which is a modified Royal Rumble. A new contender enters the ring every 90 seconds with over the top rope eliminations, but the last two competitors wrestle a regular 1 on 1 match. I think it’s a good concept! Nobody else will! The winner will be crowned the new NWA champion.

Real quick aside about the announcers; Don West is good on this show. He’s a bit lost but super excited. Tenay is the pro. He holds this shaky first show together. Eventually he becomes SUPER ANNOYING. Ed Ferrara is a poor man’s Jerry Lawler and I don’t like Jerry Lawler, so you can imagine what a bummer Ed is.

Borash introduces a bunch of legends to start the show off with a whimper. On the “My World” podcast, Jarrett let us know that the show was supposed to start with The Future ROH Champions If You Include The Pure Title Express vs The Flying Elvises… yeah, hang on, we’ll explain THAT shortly. All the Legends get an entrance to buy more time. This show is forced to vamp more than an episode of “What We Do In The Shadows.”

The Legends:

Harley Race


Dory Funk Jr


Jackie Fargo


“Bullet” Bob Armstrong (Father of Scott, Steve, The Road Dogg, and Arachnaman)


Corsica Joe


Bill Beherens


and Ricky Steamboat with the NWA title. Steamboat gets a big pop. He worked the NWA and WWF during the 80s boom so everybody north and south of the Mason Dixon knows him. 

Jarret’s “My World” theme hits for the first time. The guitar sounds like an annoying alarm clock which is appropriate for Jarrett. He’s irritating and I want to hit him until he shuts up.

Let’s get this out of the way. I was not a Jarrett fan at any point in his wrestling career. He stunk on ice. He was the first wrestler who gave me “go away” heat vibes. I never liked his promos or his matches. However, the “My World” podcast has turned me around on him as a person. He’s so amiable it’s hard to hate on him. But I will. I must. Podcast Jarrett is my guy. Wrestler Jarrett is my sworn enemy.

Jarrett trashes the Gauntlet for the Gold and runs down the NWA Legends. Jack Fargo, who was pretty drunk according to Jarrett, interrupts and tells Jarrett that he’s first rassler in the Gauntlet for the Gold. Fargo is on the NWA High Council and can unilaterally make match stipulations, I guess. Jarrett says he’s going to kick everybody’s ass. Ken Shamrock enters from the Face Tunnel, shits on the Gauntlet and then says he’s number 19. Scott Hall “Heyyo”s his way through the audience. Scott ALSO says the battle royal sucks. Hall’s promo is the best of the three; short, informative and character driven.

It turns out that only Jarrett was supposed to say the Gauntlet for the Gold sucked. Somehow wires got crossed and everybody crapped on the main event of the first show in a match they all would be in. This whole segment eats up 15 minutes. I know the ring needed a-fixin’ but woof, it’s boring.

Bad but also Good: Goldilocks smells a fart/Backstage Storytelling

Woo, let’s talk about Goldilocks, the backstage interviewer. We never get a reason why she is named Goldilocks. I mean, Excalibur never came out and said “When I wrestled I was called Excalibur and when I was on Play by Play in PWG I was Excalibur and so I am still Excalibur which is why I wear a mask, this is my Excalibur mask. Also, I want to be left alone when I walk down the street.” so I can’t really get on this too much.  But it bothers me! Why is that her name? HER SHOOT NAME IS MOON SHADOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One of the big problems with Goldilocks is she  only has three facial reactions to anything.

1. I smelt a fart.


2. WHO FARTED?

3. It was me and I’m all in on that fart.


She’s never engages with any promo. She grabs one of these three fart faces regardless of what’s being said.

She’s interviews “The Midget Killer” Puppet, who is working a hardcore violence gimmick. I’ll be saying this a lot… 20 years have gone by and the accepted term is “little people” so we say that instead of what Puppet is saying here. Puppet tries for intensity but it’s that cartoon wrestling version of intensity where he looks like he’s about to pop a blood vessel while yelling like Yosemitie Sam.

Suddenly Jeff Jarrett storms past, kicks over some chairs and rants about how he’s getting screwed. Here’s where TNA strikes gold; the backstage is alive. A promo might be interrupted by a fight. Someone could be looking for X wrestler for an interview but finds Y wrestler beat up on the floor. It helps tell the story of the ENTIRE show in an efficient, fun, and unexpected way. That doesn’t mean the backstage segments are GOOD, just well thought out..

Good: The actual start of the show

The Super 8 Cup 2001

The Future ROH Champions If You Include The Pure Title Express  (Jerry Lynn, Low Ki, AYY JAYY STYYYYYLES) vs. The Flying Elvises (Jorge Estrada, Sonny Siaki, Jimmy Yang). Why are they The Flying Elvises? Jeff Jarrett, noted podcaster, said “they needed a gimmick to get over, to give them personality”, but this isn’t a personality or a gimmick, it’s just three guys in white sequined jumpsuits forgetting to do anything Elvis-y. I guess it’s a callback to “Honeymoon in Vegas”, a 1992 romantic comedy starring Nicholas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker. The movie made $10 million dollars but it was hardly a hit. I mean, why reference a 10 year old movie? If wrestlers need a gimmick then why is TFRCIYITPTE just two relative unknowns and Jerry Lynn? Slapping the same costume on people isn’t a gimmick, it’s a theme party.

Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Shit

The match is VERY much a spotfest with almost no downtime or storytelling. Most likely the match was shortened due to the vampire attack at the top of the show. There’s a lot of flipping around. TFRCIYITPTE definitely looks better but each member of the Airborne Elvi get their spots in. AJ, Ki and Lynn have great three-way timing together along with SCINTILLATING strikes and DANGEROUS dives. The finish is Jimmy Yang hitting the Yang Time on AJ Styles. JIMMY WANG YANG has a win over AJ STYLES and this will never be erased from the history books… or, really, cagematch.net. After retirement, Jimmy would open Jimmy’s Redneck Party Bus in Ohio. Nobody knows what happened to AJ Styles.

What am I doing? Just Yangin’ out.

BAD BAD BAD AND IT NEVER STOPS: The Dupps

Backstage, Goldilocks runs into 2021 NWA champion Stan Dupp, his cousin Bo and sister Fluff. Stand Up, Bowed Up and Fluffed Up. GET IT? PUNS. EXCEPT BOWED UP WHAT IS THAT

Ben Dover, Elieen Dover, Skip Dover

The Dupps are horrific southern stereotypes; dumb, drunk, ignorant and incestuous. I’m not sure how this is supposed to appeal to the majority southern TNA wrestling audience. If they were the least bit funny or entertaining it might be tolerable, but they aint. Anyway, they say a bunch of dumb shit about how Fluff is Bo’s girlfriend but also Stan’s girlfriend. Bill Beherens tells them not to drink backstage. Stan says “Hey, Bo, who ever heard of getting drunk on beer” before he spits tobacco on the floor while Bo picks his nose. It’s Hee Haw with a head wound.

Later that night the Dupps go up against another actual tag team, Joey Mercury and Christian York. Quick cagematch.net research shows that York had his last match in 2018. Matthews was recently run out of ROH’s training school due to erratic behavior and substance abuse issues.

York is absolutely jacked here and has a great look except for his dumb hair. I’ll be honest, Bo Dupp has some VERY crisp big man offense here. If he wasn’t saddled with such a stinker gimmick he might have gone further in the business. Anything where he’s not picking his nose and asshole.

THIS IS A STANDING FROG SPLASH!!!

The match gets all of 4 minutes. Fluff trips up York on the top rope, he falls into the ring and gets pinned by Bo. Not enough time to see anything worthwhile. Perhaps time was cut due to the ring repair, but if I was going to cut time from anything, it’d be what comes in the next few paragraphs.

Bad: NASCAR + Racism = Total Nonstop Action

Sterling Martin and Hermie Sadler, two NASCAR drivers make an appearance and get a SIX MINUTE SEGMENT. They both get big pops. The Venn diagram between Southern rasslin’ fans and NASCAR nerds is basically one big circle. People forget how HUUUUGE NASCAR was in the late 90s. Jarrett is pals with Sadler and Sadler is a big wrestling fan which is how they got the NASCAR drivers for the show.

K-Krush (aka R Truth) breaks up Sterling Martin’s less than sterling promo. He says NASCAR doesn’t belong here and that “his kind” are real athletes. Krush is on fire, despite the racial implications of his promo. The crowd fucking HATES him. I wonder why?

Hermie grabs the mic and does some  surprisingly good trash talking. Krush prepares to beat the down when fucking Brian “Grand Master Sexay” Christopher sprints to the ring and just absolutely destroys Krush. The audience pops like Adam Cole just pointed his thumb at his head. I… don’t think the crowd reaction is for Christopher. It’s for seeing Krush get beat down, which is super gross.

Martin and Sadler throw Krush over the top and he flat back bumps on the floor. Christopher, still wearing his Too Cool gear with “Sexay” airbrushed on the leg, calls K-Krush a “mofo” and then says “Why don’t YOUR KIND come down here and pick on MY KIND right here, right now!” The ring has three white men in it. Chrisopher then makes a match for next week between Christopher, Sterling and Hermie vs. Krush and two TBAs. This whole thing is tinged with racist overtones and I hate it. It gets worse before it gets better. Whee!

BAD: Can’t have a johnson without the plums.

I’m not even sure how to talk about Richard and Rod Johnsons. College move antagonist and wrestling manager Mortimer Plumbtree was matched with the roided up Shane Twins. A real trio of “never-was’s” here. TNA wanted as many wrestlers as possible to have some kind of gimmick, so the Shanes were squeezed into flesh colored bodysuits and matching masks and called “The Johnsons”. The story was that Plumbtree had hired two of his schoolyard bullies, dressed them up like dicks and then made them wrestle in Nashville. The Johnsons look more like rubber inflation fetishists than penises. Which is apt, the Shanes are so roided out that their muscles are about to burst like balloons.


“MMMHMMMHMMMHMMMHMMM I wonder how the Dean learned about your dirty drunky sex party, Mikey? Seems Alpha House will have a new squash court once your dilapidated frat house is closed for good! Come, perverts, it’s tea time!”

The Johnsons face off against a team I call “The Cowboys”; James Storm is a Cowboy and Psicosis is dressed like Kool-Aid Cow-Boy. 

All cowpokes aside, this random pairing has identifiable, engaging gimmicks. Storm comes out in his 5 gallon hat, two six shooters, ten fingers and one pretty rad quickdraw show for the crowd. Psicosis’ gimmick is “Hey, everybody, I’m Piscosis from WCW, you know me, now watch me fling myself at two veiny dongs.”

This match ain’t much. The only real highlight is Storm whipping out a pretty sweet standing hurricanrana. The Johsons win in about 4 minutes, 2 of which were spent cutting to…

BAD: Sex Work is Work but can’t tell if Sex Work

… Alicia, aka Ryan Shamrock, standing in the entranceway. Her storyline is she takes money from men for several weeks before she disappears like Casper the Implied Sex Worker Ghost. Maybe she was supposed to be a madam or a sex worker who… works on credit or something? Misogynist garbage that mercifully went nowhere. Ken really should have talked to his sister about this.

Mid: “I like ‘Merican Music.”

TNA plays most of a Toby Keith video, then he sings a full song at the entranceway. If you don’t know who Toby Keith is, imagine a giant cowboy with a Van Dyke who loves ‘Merica. He had a lot to sing about 9/11 and how awesome the War on Terror was. Eventually he’d sing about red Solo cups and how awesome they are at holding liquid. He sings “Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)” which is a sweet ballad about putting our collective American boot in Osama Bin Laden’s asshole.

Jarrett stomps out like a big baby and shoulder blocks Toby Keith just as the song ends. The crowd goes fucking nuclear. Jarrett says nobody wants to hear that song and Toby Keith needs to get out so Jarrett can win the title. I legit think Jarrett was putting his life on the line here. 9/11 was still super fresh in everyone’s head and, as much as I disagree with Keith’s jingoistic bullshit, he was connected with this crowd. Jarrett was basically saying that his title shot was more important than 9/11, which is about as dangerous a tactic for getting heat that there ever was.

I give this a Mid because, while I’m not into Toby Keith or his music or Jarrett, it is incredibly effective at making Jarrett the hottest heel in the company in a matter of seconds.

Mid: A Flair for the Gauntlet

Jarrett is first. He acts like a dickhead while waiting for ENTRY NUMBER TWOOOOOO

Marcus “Buff” Bagwell comes out to a “HEY I ‘MEMBER HIM” pop. Jarrett vs. Bagwell is the nadir of wrestling for me. Bagwell sucks, Jarrett sucks. I saw them wrestle in WCW once and I get a migraine just thinking about it. In an act of mercy for my cranium, Bagwell gets eliminated in under 90 seconds.

Next is WCW’s Lash Leroux. Last info I could find is that he retired and became a youth pastor in 2018. Jarrett also eliminates him in under 90 seconds.

“Screamin’” Norman Smiley hits the ring. Smiley was one of wrestling’s greatest grapplers, but I guess when you can switch to a low impact comedy gimmick, you take it. If you want to see his true brilliance, check out his UWF stuff on Youtube and Vimeo. He gets kicked in the yarbos when he tries the Big Wiggle and is also eliminated in under 90 seconds.

The big Puerto Rican Apolo hits the ring and beats the piss out of Jarrett. We can discuss Apolo at a later time. He’s about to gorilla press Jarrett to the floor when K-Krush joins the match.

And now the rest, in order of appearance with asides as necessary

Slash, former Wolfie D of PG-13, now satanist.

Del Rios, who gets a pop when people think he’s Scott Stiener. Why do they think he’s Scott Stiener? Take a look!

“LARGE DADDY SWOLE  IS YOUR DRUG CONNECTION!”

He’s fucking terrible and we never see him again. I don’t even know if I got his name right. I’m not even going to “where is he now” him.

Justice, who would be repackaged as THE MONSTER, LAWYER.

TNA PRESENTS HARD JUSTICE

Konnan gets a “I MEMBER HIM TOOOOO!!!” pop. The difference between 1997 Konnan and 2002 Konnan is drastic. It’s like the 97 version is moving underwater.

Joel Gertner, aka ECW’s Max Caster, does some dirty rhyming and then introduces The Rainbow Express. This is some “fucking yikes” gay panic shit. The team of  Lenny Lane and Bruce (formerly Kwiwi) walk arm in arm down the… wait, I think I just got a joke from 20 years ago. Lenny. Bruce. Lenny Bruce. UGGG THAT’S SO DUMB. Lodi is part of the Express but he’s out with an injury.

The whole thing is offensive. We can say it’s a product of it’s time but it shouldn’t have happened in 2002. What a terrible time for queerness in wrestling. Even the cool kids promotion ROH had The Christopher Street Connection where two straight guys would have over-the-top makeouts and then get their teeth kicked in by the “heroes”. I hated it then and I hate it more now. AND THIS SHIT GETS WORSE.

Ric Steiner and his Dog Face!

Malice, the former Wall, now satanist.

Scott Hall and his Normal Face!

WHOOPS THIS GUY AIN’T SUPPOSED TO BE HERE! Toby Keith runs into the ring and suplexes Jarrett. The crowd goes banana. He’s the most over babyface in the show!

“The Wildcat” Chris Harris knocks on the door and is let into the ring.

The Vampire Warrior (Gangrel © White Wolf Studios) fucks up his entrance and comes in about 30 seconds after Harris. God, he must have loved all the vamping at the top of the show.

“Dangerous” Devon Storm (Crowbar © Valve Studios), not yet a satanist.

Zero-1’s Steve Corino!

Ken Shamrock! INTENSITY!!!

Bryan Christopher and his “too cool” goggles are back to complete the Gauntlet. Thanos snapped his fingers and suddenly half of the jobbers in this match were turned to dust, never to be seen again.

Wrestling happens. People go over the top rope, the Gauntlet portion ends, leaving Malice vs. Shamrock to face off.  A WWF main event gatekeeper vs a WCW midcarder. Shamrock sniffed around the World Title scene but Vince McMahon never pulled the trigger. The Wall was an accurately rated big man, neither over or under in the ratings. Their one-on-one match gets 10 minutes and, despite it’s alright-ness, it is the best thing on the show. Shamrock’s believable offense goes a long way. It finishes with Shamrock countering a chokeslam goozle into a Belly to Belly Suplex, making Shamrock the first NWA TNA champion! HOLY SHIT IT’S NOT JARRETT! IT’S NOT JARRETT!!!!

Pictured: Not Jarrett!!!

Bad: “A little bit of everything!”

A piece of Jarrett’s booking philosophy is that wrestling is a three ring circus and you need something for everyone. This ends up leading to a disjointed show with a lot of boring, half assed or straight up offensive segments. Let’s blitz through a few.

1. The Hollywood vs.Teo little people match is surprisingly inoffensive, both in wrestling content and shitty Ed Ferrara commentary. Mike Tenay spams commentary, calling every move he can so that Ed Ferrara can’t get out more than one or two short jokes. Hollywood hits a very nice looking frog splash from the top, but Teo (which stands for Total E Outstanding if you can believe that) picks up the win after a twisting senton.

2. The Lingerie Battle Royal sneak peek. This is a set up for next week’s pre-Pornhub perv content. PrEDator Ferrara skeezes it up as the MC while looking for new employees to work at his combination strip club/starship. Every single woman gets their own entrance, but the cameramen are focusing on the wrong entranceway about half the time, so you get a shot of some poor lady just standing there waiting to hear her name called.

Do I go now? …Now? Do I go… now?

WHO WE GOT?

Francine

Miss Jody

Shannon (Daffney)

Alexis Laree (Mickie James)

Sasha I think

Erin 

Electra

Taylor Vaughn

Theresa Taylor

Francine and Electra cut promos on each other, bringing up ECW and how Francine somehow bankrupted the company. Must have been some Freaky Friday thing where Francine and Heyman swapped souls. This really pisses off Francine for some reason, so they catfight and Francine rips Electra’s shirt off. Everybody else just stands there. The only one with any personality is, no surprise, Shannon. She never drops character even when all this stupid shit is happening around her.

Queen.

3. Cage dancers so the show has some T and A.

“Free me before the Predator comes back!”

4. The main event seems to end too early. The announcers drink the blood of the innocent for a minute until we cut to Jarrett yelling at Keith backstage, coming to the ring, yelling more, getting into another altercation with Keith before Scott Hall pops him in the chops as the show wraps up.


—————————————————————————————

Yeah, so, this show was pretty bad. It did not make a good impression. The booking seemed to pick up where 99-00s WCW left off. Characters with no direction, half-assed gimmicks, mediocre wrestling, women = eye candy,, a dickhead on commentary and Jeff Jarrett as a top star.

It takes TNA about 4 years to find it’s identity, then lose it about 2 years later, then find another crappy identity about 2 years after that, then meander through moments of brilliance until the shift to Impact where they have been in a solid groove for about 5 years. It’s nuts to think that WCW lasted 12 years and TNA is just a few months away from 20 years!

The wrestler I bought the tapes to see wasn’t on this show! Keep guessing!

Please join me next time for our Compare/Contrast with AEW’s first PPV, All Out!