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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! 

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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!