In this episode, TNA is looking to pick up the pieces after last week’s chaos. We’ll see what fallout there will be for Jeff Jarrett after his actions in last week’s tag match. The new NWA Tag Champions will face their first challengers in the Disciples of the New Church, Ken Shamrock will defend his NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Omori, K-Krush will face Hervey Sadler, and much more. So, let’s see how they’re doing!
The pyro was delayed a bit, but we get it. Mike Tenay welcomes us to the show and gives us a quick rundown of the evening’s proceedings: Two World Title Matches (Heavyweight and Tag, I’m assuming) and six of the top cruiserweights will fight to be the #1 Contender to face AJ Styles for the X Division Championship.
Not wasting any time, our first match is starting up.
NWA Tag Team Championship Match: AJ Styles and Jerry Lynn vs Disciples of the New Church (with James Mitchell.
Disciples of the New Church, Slash and Tempest are out first to little reaction.
We get a recap of the Tag Team Tournament, including the beatdown of Storm and Harris, who are probably selling their injuries, because they have a good case for being #1 Contenders to the Tag Titles, given what happened last week. Lynn and Styles get a great pop and there still seems to be a little…dissention in the ranks. Styles seems a lot more excited than Lynn, but that might just be Lynn’s personality. I believe I said last week that Malice wasn’t ready for primetime, well neither are the other members of the New Church. Slash and Tempest have great looks for their gimmicks, both have great moves, but Lynn and Styles are totally outclassing them.
One thing the Disciples are doing right here is keeping their moveset simple, though Tempest just hit a plancha back into the ring and onto Styles that was pretty impressive. This match is pretty back and forth, Tempest hit a rather rough looking hurricanrana on Styles that I wouldn’t suggest he ever do again. Styles hits a springboard dropkick that bring Slash and Lynn in and we have chaos. Lynn and Styles are a great team. Lynn is doing a great job of keeping things going. We get things under control and we’re back to Styles and Tempest. New Church seems to have decided that they’re tired of playing nice, but their cheap shot attempt doesn’t work. Tempest hits an impressive Death Valley Driver that Styles kicks out of.
Okay, Slash and Tempest are impressing me here. Lynn tries to help Styles, but somehow the ref ignores the blatant double team to yell at Lynn. (It’s a good thing I know this is a work because all these refs would be fired for incompetence. It seems that Styles is taking all the punishment to make up for not doing a lot last week in the tag match. He sends Malice head first into Tempest and tags in Lynn, who just starts tearing up the place. Malice does the most leisurely run-in I’ve ever seen and gives Tempest the opening for a low blow. Tempest goes for his sloppy hurricanrana from the top turnbuckle again, but Lynn catches him and shoves him to the floor.
Tempest goes for the Death Valley Driver again, but Lynn executes a rough looking counter and hits the piledriver, but Malice does a better run in before he can go for the pin. Styles tags himself in right before Malice pulls Lynn outside. Styles hits the Corkscrew Senton and gets the pin. Oddly, Lynn isn’t happy about this or he’s not happy about how Styles did things. Lynn won’t get in the ring to celebrate with Styles and stalks off. We’ve got the seeds of a feud starting.
Result: Styles and Lynn win by pinfall.
Comment: That was a good match. I have to slightly modify my comment about The Disciples not being ready for primetime, they both have the makings of top heels, but they still need some work. The planting of the seeds for Styles vs Lynn is interesting. While I appreciate TNA promoting other NWA territories, I don’t think doing that while showing the TNA girls dancing is such a great idea.
Tenay and company are giving us a recap of Jeff Jarrett’s antics last week, but I can’t take my eyes off the godawful purple-with-black pinstripes suit jacket Don West is wearing. Tenay says that they’re going to try and get Scott Hall on the phone. We get Hall on the phone but he’s a little hard to understand, but he promises vengeance on Brian Christopher, K-Krush, and Jarrett.
After that, we’re on to our next match.
Brian Christopher vs Norman Smiley
Christopher is out to a loud round of boos. The commentators seem to realize that Hall made a huge mistake in having Christopher as a tag partner because Christopher and Jarrett grew up together in the business and we get the first mention of Christopher being Jerry Lawler’s son, which was never acknowledged by WWE until the Cole/Lawler feud. Christopher gets the mic but the crowd is making too much racket to hear him very well. He says that there comes time in everyone’s life when they make the transition from a child to an adult, a child to a man and that he’s been labeled a child. More than that, he’s been labeled ‘Jerry Lawler’s son’
- Girls make that child to adult transition too and 2. You are Jerry Lawler’s son, like it or not.)
He then says he’s lived his whole life in his dad’s shadow and that he always hears that the only reason that Brian Christopher is in the wrestling business is because he’s Jerry Lawler’s son. He says that he calls bulls**t. He says that after being in the business for fourteen years, he can finally say ‘Screw Jerry Lawler’. That does NOT go over well with the crowd. Christopher says that the crowd has never been in his shoes. He then bashes his father and says that Lawler was never a father at all. He wanted someone to look up to but his dad was never there. (Brian, he was trying to make a living).
Christopher says that all that changed last week at the expense of ‘Hey, yo’ because last week he kicked some ass and rode off into the sunset and that he feels good and can tell his dad to go to hell. (I hope he told his dad about this promo before doing it) This promo is quickly turning whiny because Christopher complains that his dad was never around when he needed him because he was too busy giving his attention to the wrestling business and Vince McMahon. This makes no sense to me because if Christopher’s been in the business for fourteen years, he would’ve debuted in 1988, before Lawler went to WWE in 1992. (Okay, someone come shut him up) Christopher says that from now on it’s going to be all about him and that he’s going to make himself famous and that it’s going to be all about Brian Lawler. (Huh, he tells his dad to f**k off, but decides to use the Lawler name) Well after all that, Brian’s opponent finally comes out and it’s Norman Smiley, who gets a much nicer welcome from the crowd.
Lawler gets the jump on Smiley and stomps the hell out of him. Lawler seems to be relishing his heel role, but he’s still playing to the crowd too much. Smiley gets his bearings and takes it to Lawler, but his moves are a little slow. Okay, I have no idea what is going on, but the crowd does. Lawler hits a NASTY DDT and gets control of the match back. This match isn’t great. I’m not familiar with Norman Smiley and this match is not leaving a good impression. Lawler played the crowd for a good minute before heading for the corner and Smiley didn’t move. Christopher hits the Hip Hop Drop, and gets the three count, even after playing to the crowd again. Afterwards, Lawler gets the mic and tells Scott Hall that he hopes he was watching the match because he’s next on Brian Lawler’s list.
Winner: Brian Lawler by pinfall.
Comment: The promo by Lawler was about the only good thing about this match and I have my issues with that.
We go to the back where Goldilocks is trying to catch up with Jarrett and the NWA VP Behrens. Jarrett thinks he’s got a title match against Shamrock tonight and the hapless Behrens is trying to explain that not only does Jarrett NOT have a title match tonight, he doesn’t have a match at all. Jarrett says that he’s the #1 Contender, which is news to everyone. Behrens tells him that he doesn’t have a match. Jarrett is livid and grabs Behrens and demands the match that only he thinks he has. Behrens also implies that Jarrett was behind what happened to Jim Miller (the NWA President whose name no one could remember last week) and if he (Behrens) can prove it, Jarrett will be suspended. Jarrett basically tells Behrens to suck his d**k and storms off.
While all that was going on, we kept hearing another argument going on off camera. From the upshot, it sounds like someone has an issue with Jerry Lynn. We go black before Goldilocks can see what’s going on, and when we come back, we’re back at ringside for the next match. Up next is K-Krush vs Hervey Sadler, which already sounds like a trainwreck.
K-Krush vs Hervey Sadler
K-Krush is out to a loud round of boos and he doesn’t like it. He says that this is the last time he’s coming to ‘Trashville’ (Nashville) because the fans are a**holes. He insults the crowd some more but I’m not totally sure what he’s saying. He threatens and insults anyone waving a NASCAR sign and generally gets the crowd good and pissed off. Sadler comes out with his pit crew and a checkered flag because…I honestly don’t know. Even the commentators think Sadler’s an idiot for agreeing to this match, but they admire his guts. We start with trash talk and shoving. Apparently, someone has been giving Sadler some training because he shows some moves, but Krush ain’t having it.
This match is okay, Krush really plays up the arrogant heel with Sadler, who is basically a ragdoll that kicks out. Finally, Krush gets tired of this and locks Sadler in the Figure Four and after several minutes, Sadler turns it over, but Krush gets to the ropes. Krush goes for a Frankensteiner, but Sadler counters with a sit out powerbomb. Finally after a near fall and a failed dropkick, Krush uses a double leg takedown and feet on the ropes to pin Sadler for the win. Afterwards, Krush cheap shots Sadler for the hell of it.
Result: K-Krush by pinfall, with an assist from the ropes, but because of the cheap shot, the ref reverses the decision and gives the win to Sadler, because cheap shots after a match NEVER happen in wrestling. :eyeroll:
Comment: I hate it when celebrities or non-wrestling athletes wrestle and Sadler did a good job, but Krush needed to win this one to maintain the respect of wrestling, the reversal was a stupid move that really did nothing but keep Sadler from looking stupid, which should not have been a problem since he had no business being in a wrestling ring.
Moving on, we get our first look at Omori, who is warming up for his big match. Alicia comes up and gestures to him and Omori pulls a handful of bills out of his bag. West and Tenay demand an answer from Ferrara, who tries to demure, but Ferrara will only say that he’ll tell them later.
Coming back from commercial, it’s time for our next match.
Hot Shots vs The Briscoe Brothers
The Hot Shots, a generic looking pair of blond guys are out first and their opponents, another pair of generic looking guys, only these two are bald, are already in the ring and promptly bail out. According to the commentators, the generic bald guys are the Briscoe Brothers, and I only heard one of the names, but it sounds like it’s the same Briscoe Brothers that have become legends in the indys. This match is surprisingly good, this may be a tryout match for both teams and they’re making the most of it. It’s a little hard to keep up with the action and type, but it is fast and furious, and very fun to watch. For some reason, Slash storms the ring and take out all four competitors before throwing them all out of the ring.
Result: No Contest due to Malice’s interference.
Comment: While I get the reason why they had Malice do the run-in, it ruined the makings of a great match.
James Mitchell comes in and says that they aren’t leaving until the blood of Ken Shamrock is on the hands of Malice, because, apparently, they didn’t get the memo that Shamrock won fair and square last week and says that Malice will hurt everyone in the arena unless Shamrock comes out. To prove their point, they grab some random TNA tech person, but before the beating gets anywhere, Shamrock comes out and is in big trouble, but Omori, who doesn’t want to lose out on the title shot he flew in from Japan for, comes to Shamrock’s aid and the send the Disciples of the New Church running for the hills. Shamrock and Omori face off and it almost looks like it’ll come to blows, but we are sent backstage to the forever put upon Goldilocks.
One of the Dupps is kissing Fluff Dupp, who is still his cousin, in case you were wondering. Goldilocks is wearing a cowboy hat for some reason and is looking very disgusted by the whole situation. She asks the Dupp NOT trying to have sex with his cousin about their match with the Flying Elvises and asks how they plan on dealing with that, but the other Dupp is more interested in picking his nose. Other Dupp scoffs at the idea of ‘strategy’ and then uses horny coon dogs as a metaphor for what they plan to do with the Flying Elvises, which I hope doesn’t involve humping their legs.
Goldilocks is disgusted and still has to deal with the Dupp who had been making out with Fluff earlier, while the other Dupp cops a feel on Fluff in the background. (I couldn’t make this up if I tried!) Hat Dupp’s promo makes even less sense than the horny coon dog promo did and Goldilocks is about over all of this.
Back to the ring, we’re onto our next match and there’s a problem with the music. For some reason, a woman is coming out to the ring. She’s identified as Jasmine St. Clair of ECW. Ferrara and West say she’s a ‘movie’ star, but I don’t think porn really counts in this situation. Why she’s here is a mystery to everyone, including Borash.
Jasmine grabs the mic and shoves Borash away. Jasmine says she’s been watching TNA for three weeks and for three weeks she’s been waiting to see some ass, since everyone knows what the letters T ‘n A stand for. Everyone, including Borash and the commentators are excited for this. She tries to demure since she interrupted the tag team match, but no one really cares. The ref scheduled for the Dupp match shoves a chair into the ring. Apparently, Ms. St. Claire doesn’t like to dance without a partner and hauls Borash into the chair and gives him a lapdance, making him the most envied man in the building.
Before this gets too far, NWA VP Behrens tries to stop it and gets speared by Ferrara, while Jasmine keeps dancing. Behrens isn’t giving up and covers Jasmine up and makes her leave, despite the efforts of Ferrara and Borash, who now has to get both his brains back on business. Tenay asks Ferrara about the spear and Ferrara claims he thought it was a fan. They are in the Bible Belt, so a fan being offended by a striptease isn’t the stupidest thing ever heard of.
Dupps (with Fluff Dupp) vs Flying Elvises (Jorge Estrada and Sonny Siaki)
The Dupps finally come out and no one’s happy to see them, or they aren’t happy to see the guys, Fluff is very over. The Flying Elvises are out next, and they’re a little more over with this crowd. Apparently, no one told the Elivises how the real Elvis actually moved or Estrada’s just a really bad dancer because his Elvis moves are the pits. Elivises get the jump on the kissing cousins and we’re off. For some reason, Mortimer Plumtree comes out, with either a paddle or a tennis racket, and seems to be assessing the situation before joining the commentators.
I’m not sure what to call this match. Interesting is putting it nicely, a collision is a little more accurate. There is a real style contrast and it’s not meshing very well. It looked like Blond Dupp had the thing won until the ref realized that the Elvis in question had his feet on the ropes. There’s some shenanigans with the Elvises and and Hat Dupp that nearly gets the Elvises a win. Never mind being nice, this match is a mess. Siaki badly botched a moonsault that looked like he really hurt himself. Somehow, Siaki and Estrade pull off a switcheroo and get the pinfall on Blond Dupp.
Result: Flying Elvises by pinfall.
Comment: How sad is it that the attempted striptease was a better segment than this match?
We go backstage and Lynn and Styles are having a fistfight, why is anyone’s guess. Lynn drops one of the belts on Styles and calls him a ‘glory hound’ before storming off. Guess we’re short a Tag Team Champion.
Now it’s time for the NWA Heavyweight Championship match.
NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match: Ken Shamrock vs Omori
Harley Race is coming to the ring to represent the NWA, for some reason. Omori is out first to a minimal pop. Shamrock gets a great pop. This match starts out better for Shamrock than last week against Malice, Shamrock’s actually getting in some moves, but Omori isn’t doing well. Omori finally gets some offense in, thank heavens. This match is a lot more interesting than the title match from last week, but the contrast in styles of Shamrock and Omori is a little hit or miss. That said, Omori is a very good wrestler and is holding his own.
Just when it looks like Shamrock might get Omori to tap to the ankle lock, Jarrett runs in with a chair and lays out Shamrock and Omori. Harley Race tries to intervene and gets whacked with the chair for his troubles. Security comes out but after a couple of their guys get KO’d, the rest stay out of the ring. Bob Armstrong, who just watched his son Scott, who was the referee, get leveled by Jarrett is LIVID and I think he just told Jarrett that he’s being suspended. Jarrett is demanding the title shot that he thinks he was promised. Harley Race is back on his feet before Shamrock or Omori. Everyone’s more worried about Harley Race than the two wrestlers that took several chairshots.
Result: No Contest due to Jarrett’s interference.
Comment: The match was okay, but it definitely felt like they were just waiting for Jarrett or the Disciples of the New Church to come out.
Backstage, Goldilocks is trying to talk to Jerry Lynn, who is rocking back and forth while crouched against a wall. Goldilocks tries to get an explanation from Lynn about what happened, but Lynn tells her to suck his d**k and leaves. As Goldilocks gets up to leave, she bumps into James Mitchell, who promptly calls her the Whore of Babylon. Goldilocks is NOT happy about this and Mitchell changes tactics, asking her, in a very condescending way, to tell Jeff Jarrett, if she sees him, that he (Mitchell) really wants to talk to him. He tries to couch it in the supposition that Jarrett is about to commit a sin and he can’t allow that and compares himself to God, which Goldilocks doesn’t appreciate. Mitchell says that if Jarrett won’t come speak to him, he can be the bearer of light or the bringer of great darkness. He then threatens Goldilocks by saying she can either lose the smirk or have it cut off. As Goldilocks is dealing with that, she, and we, hear some muffled yelling. Going to investigate, we find Bill Behrens, NWA Vice President, tied up and marked like Jim Miller was last week.
Six Man Match To Determine Ranking for the X Division Title Contenders: Low K vs Elix Skipper vs Kid Romeo vs Tony Mamaluke vs Christopher Daniels vs Jerry Lynn
We get the rules for this: Your ranking depends on when or if you are eliminated. First man to be pinned or submit becomes the #6 Contender for the X Division Title, second man is #5 and so on. Last man standing is the #1 Contender, though no mention is made of what happens to the rankings if the #1 Contender beats Styles. The commentators point out that if Jerry Lynn wins the match, he becomes the #1 Contender against his own tag team partner, who he just beat up backstage. Another wrinkle: You have to stay on the apron and tags can’t be refused.
Not surprisingly, this match is fast and furious, so it’s a little tough to follow, plus, I’m not familiar with most of the competitors, so I’m having trouble telling who’s who. Jerry Lynn seems to be the target of the other competitors, either due to his skill, having wrestled earlier, or what happened to Styles. Elix Skipper just had a botch. It looks like he was supposed to wrap his arms around the ropes to counter a move by Low Ki, but he missed and fell out of the ring.
Elimination #1: Jerry Lynn by ten count because Lynn didn’t stay on the apron, so he’s at the back of the line for a X Division title shot.
Elimination #2: Tony Mamaluke by pinfall by Elix Skipper
Elimination #3: Elix Skipper by pinfall by Christopher Daniels.
Elimination #4: Kid Romeo by submission to Low Ki.
Elimination #5: Christopher Daniels by pinfall to Low Ki.
Winner: Low Ki by pinfall after a Fisherman Buster…I think that’s what they called it. While Low Ki and the fans are celebrating, the Flying Elvises, who were not invited to be part of this match or the X Division Championship Round Robin, storm the ring and beat everyone up. Afterwards, Sonny Siaki grabs the mic and tells Tenay that they weren’t invited to the match and that they ARE the X Division and if the NWA doesn’t want them involved, screw them.
Back in the ring, Elix Skipper has come back and is fighting Jorge Estrada, but Sonny Siaki saves his partner. Tony Mamaluke and Kid Romeo storm in and the Elivises clear out.
Comment: This match was amazing! All six guys did a great job and the six man did feel like they were just putting guys in to make the match longer, every guy looked like they could’ve won the match. The elimination of Jerry Lynn was odd, it was probably to protect Lynn from taking a pinfall, but a count out elimination was strange because NO ONE else was counted out.
Next week: AJ Styles will have an X Division Championship Match against Low Ki, Scott Hall will face Brian Lawler, Puppet will be back and facing the World’s Largest Midget, Meatball.
While all this is going on, Jeff Jarrett comes out again, chair in hand, still looking for the title shot he thinks he’s owed. He yells at Tenay and vows that he WILL get his title shot next week. He insults the Tennessee Titans and gets into what I hope is a worked altercation with some members of the aforementioned team. This must be a work because one member of the team has the worst looking punches I’ve ever seen. James Mitchell and his crew come running to the rescue, but Jarrett’s had enough of this nonsense and is swinging his chair at anything moving, including the Disciples. Slash attacks Jarrett and it is complete and utter chaos. The show ends with Slash and Jarrett fighting among the fans.
So, how was TNA now that we’re past the first few introductory episodes? This was a really good show overall. They’re ironing out the awkward spots and things seem to be running much more smoothly. One major issue I’m still having with TNA is the treatment of women. It’s easy to write off the treatment of Goldilocks as just how things were in 2002, or that it was TNA being ‘edgy’, but it’s more than that. Whoever was writing for TNA at this time had serious issues with women and what I watched wasn’t ‘edgy’, it was misogynistic and sickening.
The other issue I had was the Sadler/K-Krush match. As someone who doesn’t like celebrities and non-wrestling athletes getting in the ring and wrestling, I found the match very hard to sit through. Sadler had obviously taken the time and made the effort to train so he could do the moves and he did a good job, but for him to get a victory over K-Krush was a stupid move that does more for Sadler than K-Krush.
An interesting angle that’s developing is the status of Jeff Jarrett, especially after tonight’s episode. Is he the top heel or is he a really unlikeable babyface? When the show started, I would’ve say he’s the top heel and I think that’s where he’s going to stay for awhile, but the issue with James Mitchell and his Disciples of the New Church and the events at the end of the show makes Jarrett look like an extremely unlikeable face. It’ll be interesting to see how TNA builds on this next week.
Another interesting angle is the attacks on NWA higher ups that has been going on the last couple of weeks. The obvious choice would be Jeff Jarrett since he’s having so many issues with the NWA. After this week’s episode, though, I’m beginning to rule him out as a suspect. It’s too obvious and given the comments and actions of James Mitchell and his congregation, I’m willing to be that they’re doing it either to set Jarrett up or to get into his good graces, or both.
Stinker: K-Krush vs Sadler. Both guys did a good job but I hated the whole storyline and the finish. In terms of match quality: Elvises vs Dupps or Brian Lawler vs Norman Smiley.
Snoozers: Shamrock vs Omori. It felt like they were just waiting for Jarrett to come out.
Match of the Night: X Division match. That was an amazing match and every guy looked good.
Final Thoughts: I’m really starting to get into TNA and I can’t wait for the next episode.
Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 1 (3/25/2012)
Branching out beyond the safety of the American coastlines, Chairshot Classics begins to delve into PROGRESS. Harry starts the journey at the logical, with in depth coverage and finer details on what made the matches happen.
What I Watched – A Chairshot Classics Presentation
PROGRESS Chapter 1: ‘In The Beginning’
By Harry Broadhurst
Man, been a while since I’ve done one of these. Greetings and salutations all. My name is Harry Broadhurst. A little bit about myself: I am the host of the ‘Raw Reaction’ here on the Chairshot Radio Network along with Tony Acero and Andrew Balaz (one of the big wigs here at thechairshot.com). I’ve been a part of the podcast network since it launched as the Raw Reaction just celebrated it’s fifth anniversary back in April.
Back in the days when this website was still WrestlingSmash, I used to be the guy who did what Steven Mitchell does. I would review Raw, SmackDown, Impact and Main Event under the title of “What I Watched”. I did some DVD reviews for another website a while ago as well but those eventually slowed down when schedules changed. I’ve been wanting to get back into reviews and I figure that now that I have a bit more free time, I want to spotlight more independent companies that don’t usually get highlighted.
I spoke to Greg about this and we both agreed that one of the hottest promotions in the world right now is the England based PROGRESS Wrestling. While we were talking, the idea that there isn’t a lot available on the history of the company came up and we intend to change that. Jim Smallman and his crew have created some of the most buzz we’ve ever seen for an independent wrestling company. They have even gotten themselves noticed to the point that the WWE’s NXT is going to be partnering with PROGRESS when it launches NXT:UK. The WWE UK Championship has been defended in PROGRESS and multiple members of the active WWE roster have appeared on the shows, both before and during their times in the WWE itself.
Well, even a promotion as big as PROGRESS has a beginning. ‘In The Beginning’, to be specific. We go back to the twenty fifth of March in 2012 for this one. And this show helps set the stage for the first PROGRESS Wrestling Heavyweight champion to be crowned. Into the way back machine we go and it’s now time for ‘In The Beginning’ or PROGRESS Chapter 1.
WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews will not be a play by play recap. I’ve done that style in the past and honestly, I don’t especially care for it. Instead, it’ll be more of a stream of consciousness review as I talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.
WRITER’S NOTE #2: Due to the fact that Greg considers reviews to be opinion pieces, I am of the opinion that you should be able to form your own thoughts of the matches. Therefore, I will not be posting any of the finishes inside the review itself. But if you want to know, I will post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contest. The final show review will be after that, so if you want to read that without seeing results, I recommend scrolling to the bottom and moving up the page.
MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating. In addition, keeping with my run here with the Chairshot, I’m going to issue a ‘Final Reaction’ at the end of the reviews. Best match/moment, worst match/moment, Final Score and MVP (Most Valuable Performer).
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 1
‘In The Beginning’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: March 25th, 2012
Run Time: 1:55:45
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton and www.backbodydrop.com for some of the research that I did while working on this review.
*No opening promo from Smallman, which would become a fixture of the company. Instead, a quick graphic for the company takes us to a quick graphic for our opening contest.
*General Notes: The lighting for this venue is awful. At least a third of the ring is in relative darkness. Hopefully that gets fixed quickly going forward…the crowd is super hot for this show. The play-by-play announcer? Not so much. Not sure if he’s the same guy around to this day. If he is, he has improved tremendously. If it’s not, it’s easy to see why…commentary note: upon doing a bit of research, apparently it was Jim Smallman doing commentary in studio afterward under the name Jimmy Barnett. Makes sense that he would turn those reigns over, given his other duties with the company…setup is really weird with where they have the hard cam placed. You can clearly see monitors directly in front of the hard cam. One of them is clearly for music. The other looks like it’s set to Microsoft Excel…the ending graphics give all the information about social media presence. I can start including that stuff in the reviews if you guys want me too.
*Semifinal #1: Noam Dar vs. El Ligero
The Who: Yes, the Cruiserweight Classic’s (and now 205 Lives‘) Noam Dar as he is one of the guys who would move on to work for the WWE after getting some notoriety here in PROGRESS. El Ligero is a guy who fans of What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW from here on, though it is now known as Defiant Wrestling) are very familiar. I can’t say I’ve seen a whole lot of him personally, but I have heard good things
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the first of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: I may be wrong, but I think Smallman is the ring announcer, which I believe is a job he still does to this day…the inset promos are a nice touch. Not something you traditionally get from what basically amounts to an independent show…crowd makes it very clear very early who they are rooting for in this contest…have to say, a little sloppier then I expected to open. I’ll chalk that up to nerves though…and the first dive out of the ring happens at the minute and a half mark. Yep, indie wrestling…at least to me, Dar is clearly the more proficient of the two. It really doesn’t surprise me that he has found his way to a WWE contract…Dar with a really nice airplane spin that he combos into a Northern Lights. Very well done…Ligero with what looks like a version of the ‘S.O.S.’ but coming out of it, Dar catches him with a good looking burning clothesline…the roaming cam is not the same quality as the hard cam, but it’s a lot less distracting due to the monitors…Dar with a leg grapevine for an extended period before Ligero gets the ropes. Luckily, the crowd doesn’t seem to mind it as they are still very into it, especially for Ligero’s escape…one of the issues with PROGRESS can be the fan’s snarkiness. Pretty sure I just heard a slur for homosexual chanted by them here. Not exactly the impression you want to leave with potential first time viewers. Little surprised that hasn’t been edited out…and there’s the finish. Solid little match to open. Nothing super groundbreaking, but still worth the time that it runs for. (ABOVE AVERAGE)
*Semifinal #2: Nathan Cruz vs. Colossus Kennedy
The Who: I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about Nathan Cruz. I don’t believe I have seen him compete before and if I have, I clearly don’t remember it. I’ve heard of him though. I can’t say the same of his opponent as this is the first time I’ve even heard of Colossus Kennedy. The name is definitely fitting though as the guy looks to be every bit of six foot five or six and three hundred pounds.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the second of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: That is a big boy in Colossus for sure…both men get inset promos for this match. Nathan comes off far more charismatic then Kennedy does. Nathan knows the character he wants to portray, whereas Colossus is just your average generic big guy…six foot six and three hundred sixty pounds. Really big boy by Indy wrestling standards…early chants from the crowd compare Kennedy to both the ‘Funkasaurus’ (that was a thing on Raw at the time) and Earthquake. Let’s not throw around the good name of John Tenta too freely, shall we?…Kennedy is a little clunky, so I don’t imagine he’s been wrestling all that long at this point. He does move well for a guy his size. He does a tabletop suplex (fall away slam position into a vertical) that looks really sloppy, though…they play up a pretty simple ‘big guy, smaller guy’ dynamic here. The crowd is into hating on Cruz, so it works. The ‘shit Zack Ryder’ chant does make me chuckle…the announcer attempts to put the crowd over as one of the most comedic he’s ever been around. He just says it so blandly that it loses meaning. To be fair (and I know I’ve ripped the guy twice already), he’s commentating by himself. Few can pull that off serviceably. Even fewer (Joey Styles and Lenny Leonard spring to mind) can do so and be entertaining…Kennedy impresses me with the selling of the leg, as he reverses Cruz into the corner. He then tries an avalanche but the leg gives out on him as he attempts to get across the ring…the commentator spent the entire match putting over Kennedy’s Lariat, even mentioning that his favorite wrestler to watch was Stan Hansen. So, it’s a little bit of a surprise that it’s not the finish when he hits it, as Cruz cleanly kicks out…and there’s the finish. I think the right guy wins here, as there is clearly a drop in talent between the two. The match itself is serviceable, but nothing you would remember by the end of the show most likely. They tell a good story but it never really gets out of first gear. (AVERAGE)
*Semifinal #3: ‘Loco’ Mike Mason (with Becky James) vs. Colt Cabana
The Who: Mike Mason and Becky James, I have never heard of. To give a visual comparison for fellow independent wrestling fans, the closest I could give you would probably be “Mr. Showtime” Scot Summers or Davey Richards. Colt Cabana, I don’t think I need to expand upon. Arguably the biggest competitor currently in independent wrestling at the time, Still to this day, Cabana is a huge draw on the Indy circuit, even if his appearances are a lot less frequent then they used to be.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the third of four participants in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: Cabana is one of those guys promoters bring in to give a local a marquee match against a name talent. That or he’s there to make people laugh. I’ll assume one of those is going to be the M.O. here…pre-match, Colt throws what I believe are tennis balls at Mason and Becky. Make your own jokes here…man, there is a noticeable size disparity between the two. Colt is not a huge guy by any stretch (he’s muscular but not tall), but he towers over Mason…it’s the not family friendly Colt this evening as he stands on the bottom turnbuckle, pushes out his groin and states “I do have a foreign object” or something to that effect…the crowd gets on the referee for not checking Cabana, but really, it’s the right call…Cabana stuffs his singlet with a tennis ball and the announcer quickly takes the ‘pleased to see us’ route…this is all before the opening bell, mind you…opening bell finally does ring and it’s tennis ball shenanigans…a series of tennis ball tosses with the crowd lead to a very snarky ‘this is wrestling’ chant as the announcer points out that Mason is a replacement for RJ Singh…it eventually breaks into a bit of a mat wrestling contest, where Cabana dominates…more shenanigans such as a dancing sequence and then an airplane spin that leads to Colt exclaiming “I’m getting so fucking dizzy”…James gets involved and Cabana tumbles through the ropes to finally put Mason in control of the contest…there’s a dog theme to Mason’s gimmick, but if I’m being honest, I’m not seeing a lot of steak to go with the sizzle thus far…a shoulder into the ring post turns the tide back into Cabana’s favor…it’s hard to describe Colt matches, because while there is a lot of stuff going on, most of it isn’t actual wrestling…Cabana gets the Billy Goat’s Curse (reverse Boston Crab) on, but Becky James gets onto the apron and distracts both Cabana and the referee…and that leads directly into the finish. As I said during the course of the match, Cabana matches make for entertaining experiences, but not a ton on the actual wrestling scale. This was basically Colt playing the hits of the kind of matches he would normally have. Mason could have really been anyone else in the locker room, outside of the shenanigans with the tennis ball (BELOW AVERAGE)
*Semifinal #4: Zach Sabre Jr. vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The Who: Where to begin here? Not that either of these guys need a formal introduction from me, but here goes: Sabre Jr. people will know from the ‘Cruiserweight Classic’, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and a host of other places. I think you can make the argument that Sabre is the best technical wrestler in the world. ‘Party Marty’ as he’s known here has become an international superstar in his own right as the ‘Villain’ Marty Scurll in many of the same places that Sabre Jr. frequents, with the exception of the ‘Cruiserweight Classic’, but that was due to Marty being under a NJPW contract at the time of that taping. Back here at this show in March of 2012, these guys were part of a tag team known as the ‘Leaders of the New School’. This is by far my most anticipated of the first round matches.
The Why: Semifinal match to help determine the fourth and final participant in the PROGRESS Wrestling title match later in the show.
The Match: Sabre Jr. points out that he ‘chuffing loves arm-bars’ in his pre-match promo. That may be the understatement of the DVD thus far…my intro to Marty Scurll was as ‘Party Marty’ in wXw (Germany), but man is it weird watching a Scurll match in 2018 and not seeing the ‘Villain’…even as early as we are here, you can see the ‘Villain’ in there. Especially with how he works the crowd. One of the most charismatic men in wrestling…noticeable differences for these two with the power game of Scurll and the mat game of Sabre. It’s an easy story to tell…and we have the first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant that would become a staple of the company going forward…despite not being as good as Sabre on the mat, Scurll more then holds his own. It’s easy to forget with the frat boy character he had at the time that Marty could really go…dead lift suplex attempt by Scurll countered into a rolling cross-arm breaker by Sabre. So pretty…Sabre really put the torque on an abdominal stretch variation. Despite being partners, they are definitely not holding back against each other…super high and tight on the Liger Bomb and rolled right into another arm bar variation. Scurll quick to the ropes, but man, did it look vicious…everything is so fluid between these two…and right as I type that, a pretty decent piece of miscommunication going into the double down, but they recover well enough from it…for all the praise he gets for being so technically gifted, Sabre’s kicks either look really good and don’t hurt or are legit stiff as all hell…and there’s the finish. A little surprised by the decision but given where they’d both end up in the company, not a complete surprise. That said, quite far and away the best thing on the card thus far. These two do not hold back, as they lay in the strikes and kicks. Not only that, but the ground game was on point as well. Multiple ‘This is PROGRESS’ chants are well earned here. Early leader in the clubhouse for best match in PROGRESS history. (VERY GOOD, CLOSE TO EXCELLENT)
*BWC (British Wrestling Council) Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Zack ‘Diamond’ Gibson vs. ‘Dazzling’ Darrell Allen vs. Xander Cooper ©
The Who: I have not a clue who two of the three people in this match are. The names Darrell Allen and Xander Cooper mean nothing to me, as this is the first I’ve heard of both. Zack Gibson I am familiar, though. Zack was the winner of the UKCT 2, giving him a chance to take on Pete Dunne for the WWE UK Championship on Night 2 of the WWE UKCT2 special. He is no where near ‘Liverpool’s Number One’ here though. Even though he’s a heel (being announced from Liverpool drew boos from the fans, who wouldn’t know good ‘footy’ if it bite them in the ass), he has long hair here, looking nothing like what we would see of him in the WWE.
The Why: Triple threat, one fall to a finish (I think) for the BWC Scarlo Scholarship. Apparently, upon doing a bit of research, this belt was put together as a well to promote talent from the most reputable schools on the British scene.
The Match: Inset promos from all three before the match. As a Liverpool FC fan, I’m immediately biased towards Gibson. Much like I was during the aforementioned UKCT2…commentator mentions that there will be a BWC match on every PROGRESS show going forward. We’ll see how long that lasts…not sure what the hell that was supposed to be, but they managed to save it…‘Man for All Seasons’ is a pretty nice little nickname. Give Cooper credit for that one…seems weird to see a high flyer as a heel, but that’s what Cooper is. Allen is a high flyer as well, but he’s a baby face…sunset bomb out of the corner with a avalanche exploder gets the sixth ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant and first of the match…and one of the fans informs Cooper that he sucks a large dick. Keep it classy, lads…this match is falling into that traditional three way troupe of two guys in, one man out. It takes away from the special feeling of a triple threat when there is rarely any interaction between all three…fans are definitely not with Cooper. I believe they are calling him the ‘drizzling shits’…Cooper is relatively fluid in the ring and works the crowd well. Curious if he’s still involved with wrestling…sunset flip/German combo is only the second or third spot since the start of the match to involve all three…Gibson looks surprisingly tall here to me. Wonder if I just didn’t realize it or if the other two are just that small…maybe just me, but Gibson kind of looks like CM Punk during his ROH days here…alright, I’ve never seen that spot before. Very innovative…some very cool looking rollups in the ‘fish out of water’ sequence…Cooper looks like he was going for a hammerlock DDT, but Gibson gets out and eventually into a flying lungblower…fans are turning around on Gibson here. They started booing the crap out of him, but now appear to be behind him. Ring work won them over…this is the match of the enzugiri. At least six of them…Allen botches a 450 splash, landing with his knees right across the chest of Gibson. Don’t think that was supposed to happen…and there’s the finish. For what is essentially a ‘student’s match’, this actually turned out to be pretty good. Nothing great from any of the three, but there are several innovative spots (I watch a ton of wrestling and even I saw some stuff for the first time here) and there is nothing blown to the point that it takes you out of the match. The finish is cheap, but given where the belt ends up, it makes sense that they’d go the way they did here. Color me impressed by all three lads here. (GOOD)
*Main Event: PROGRESS Wrestling Championship Staff (Not Title): Fatal Four Way Elimination: El Ligero vs. Nathan Cruz vs. ‘Loco’ Mike Mason vs. ‘Party’ Marty Scurll
The Who: The four men who were victorious in the qualifying matches earlier in the show. It is at this point that I realize spoilers are inevitable for this contest. My bad, ya’ll. This one’s on me.
The Why: To crown the first ever PROGRESS champion. Seems pretty obvious. It’s an Staff instead of a title. Pretty sure that would end up sticking around for a while if memory serves.
The Match: Smallman getting shitty about the fans calling the PROGRESS Staff a ‘Nazi Staff’ is by far and away the most entertaining that he ever is at commentary. It’s easily the most personality he’s shown, even with the unnecessary shot at Santino Marella thrown in…rolling flip dive over the ring post and to the floor by El Ligero. Impressive…and through the crowd they all go, as fans are already complaining about lack of visibility. It’s like a 1998 WWF pay-per-view main event…and some crowd interaction leads to a double chop on Cruz by Ligero and Scurll…upon thinking about it, definitely would compare Mason more towards Richards then Summers. Not sure if that’s a compliment, though…we’re focused on Ligero and Cruz, but you can clear as day hear Scurll shill his t-shirts and photos (12 and 3 pounds respectively). Ever the worker that Marty is…El Ligero gets the ‘ole’ chants in support. Makes me wonder if he’s any relation to that ‘Generico’ fellow who is now helping orphans down in Mexico…Ligero takes a backdrop out of a piledriver attempt on the stage. The building is a bar with a stage area, similar to the building CHIKARA has run in NYC before…hey, we’ve actually turned into something resembling a real wrestling match now. It only took us ten minutes to get there…why isn’t Mason disqualified for Becky pulling out the referee? If this is elimination, that seems like it would be grounds…shortly thereafter, a distracted Ligero is the first one gone…and then he immediately leads into the elimination of Mason…crowd is solidly behind Scurll here, but that’s no real surprise…Cruz keeps the edge for a bit, but Scurll gets an inverted fireman’s carry into a back cracker to put both men down…you’d think Cruz would have better conditioning here, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Scurll looks ready to go still, despite his match earlier being about twice as long as Cruz’s…‘Nazi Staff’ chants again from the crowd as Smallman moans about it on commentary. Still kind of funny, so, curious if it becomes a running theme…Smallman calling out John Cena for a move annoys me though. You are a little fish, Jim. Cena’s a shark…never understood the count the next number thing that crowds do on a double down…the ref bump looked terribly contrived. Just awful…visual fall for Scurll leads to him trying to wake up the referee. A low blow followed by a diamond cutter from Cruz gets two…and there’s the finish one last time on the evening. I think the who makes sense. The how even makes sense as well, as they set up Chapter Two. What I didn’t care for was spending the first ten minutes of this match to be spent brawling all around the small building (attendance was approximately 250) with bad camera angles and a ton of missed moments. Once we got into the ring however, the match itself was well worked and very easily sets up the way for things going forward into the company. Call the main event a success, but with some reservations. (VERY GOOD, OPENING KEEPS FROM EXCELLENT)
Semifinal #1: El Ligero pins Noam Dar with a in-ring rope springboard tornado DDT @ 12:01 (Above Average)
Semifinal #2: Nathan Cruz pins Colossus Kennedy with a sliding dropkick to the side of the head @ 10:40 (Average)
Semifinal #3: ‘Loco’ Mike Mason pins Colt Cabana with a chain shot to the head @ 10:06 (Below Average)
Semifinal #4: ‘Party’ Marty Scurll pins Zach Sabre Jr. with a deep cradle sunset flip @ 21:44 (Very Good+)
BWC Scarlo Scholarship Championship: Xander Cooper © defeats Darrell Allen and Zack Gibson when he pins Gibson after stealing the pin from Allen @ 13:43 (Good)
Main Event: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff: Nathan Cruz wins 4 way elimination match @ 26:04, last pinning ‘Party’ Marty Scurll with a sliding dropkick to side of head (El Ligero eliminated @ 15:16 via sliding dropkick from Cruz. Mike Mason eliminated @ 15:53 via roll-up by Marty Scurll) (Very Good)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
The biggest issue I feel is the venue itself. It does not translate well to video. Thankfully, it would get better I hear. But as I mentioned at the top of the review, when half the ring is in darkness, that’s a problem.
Another issue that I had is lack of knowledge on competitors. Yes, there were people I knew. Colt Cabana, Zach Sabre Jr., Marty Scurll, Noam Dar and Zack Gibson being the main ones. But of a 11 man roster, that’s less then half that I’ve previously heard of. Granted, the idea was to have PROGRESS focus on the future of British and not be a super Indy. I get that, but a few more big names for the debut at least (like they way they used Cabana) wouldn’t have hurt.
Jim Smallman has done a wonderful job for himself with where PROGRESS has gotten to. The one thing Jim Smallman should not be allowed to do ever again is commentary by himself. He has a few moments here and there, but by and large, the commentary is a major turn off. Unnecessary shots at big name talent, general indifference to what’s going on in the ring and worst of all, not being able to even hear anything Smallman is saying hurts the show from a audio prospective.
Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. does not disappoint. I raved and raved about it during the review, so I won’t do so again here. The main event is a very strong match once we get past the brawling throughout the arena. Fun for the fans in the crowd? Sure but there were those who were complaining about the lack of visibility. Fun for the guy at home with a Roku remote in his hand? Not so much. The triple threat match for the ‘students’ is actually pretty good as well and a fun story was told by it.
They knew they had to crown a champion and they did so in the very first show. A lot of companies make the mistake of postponing the crowning of a champion and it leads to drops in attendance because you don’t know who the marquee attraction of the promotion is going to be. Here, going into Chapter Two, you have a champion people will pay to see get beaten and a probable challenger that the fans will be willing to pay to see win the title. It’s brilliant marketing.
Overall, a pretty fun little debut for the company that would end up taking British wrestling by storm. PROGRESS would obviously have things that would need to be worked on, as I addressed above. But where does that leave us? Well, it leaves me looking forward to going back to check out Chapter Two. It hopefully leaves you willing to come back and check out the show in question here to see if you agree or disagree with me. It leaves PROGRESS at the start of it’s path to being one of the, if not thee, driving force in the resurrection of the British Indy wrestling scene. Finally, it also leaves me needing something to eat. It’s been a long review.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Without a doubt, it’s a match and it’ll be the Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. match. Honorably mention to ‘Nazi Staff’ chant which drew a legit chuckle.
Worst match/moment: Moment here and it’s the setup. The lighting and the design of the arena was just awful. Made especially difficult with the opening to the main event.
MVP: I’m going to ‘Party’ Marty Scurll here. Despite the fact that he doesn’t walk out with the title, he stands out as the clear #1 guy for the company going forward. In addition, he was involved in both of the best matches on the show.
FINAL SCORE: 6.5/10
Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Catch you all for Chapter Two.
Chairshot Classics: NWA-TNA Episode 23
NWA-TNA Episode 23: November 27, 2002
Goldy is introduced and sings ‘God Bless America’ and sounds lovely as usual.
Opening: We open with Borash in the ring and he says that since it’s the day before Thanksgiving and because everyone is feeling grateful, despite everything the country has been through and is about to go through (the War in Afghanistan was about to start, I think), everyone at TNA is thankful to the fans for supporting them.
Briscoe Brothers vs Divine Storm (with Trinity): The Briscoes are back! They’re going up against generic new comers, Divine Storm.
This match was much better than Divine Storm’s previous outing last week. They and the Briscoes worked together very well and put on a really good match. Trinity got involved, hitting a hurricanrana on one of the Briscoes. There was also a really cool spot where one member of the Briscoes and one member of Divine Storm hit stereo diving sentons on each other’s opponent.
Ultimately, Divine Storm would win this round with a cradle suplex.
At ringside, Tenay addresses the revelation that Vince Russo was Mr. Wrestling III. The usually calm, neutral Tenay minces no words about how he feels. He does NOT like Vince Russo, he does NOT want to be associated with him, and vows to not let Russo destroy TNA the way he did WCW. West is a little stunned by Tenay’s anger, claiming that he didn’t realize that Tenay disliked Russo that much.
After the commercial break, Tenay is in the ring and he’s wanting to interview Jeff Jarrett. He gets Vince Russo instead. Russo seems to see no reason to play nice. He throws Tenay out of the ring and tells him to go sulk in the commentary area. Apparently Tenay had vowed to quit if Russo was allowed into TNA and Russo called his bluff, telling him he can go home and pout like Sean Waltman and they’ll replace him with a chimpanzee that will have more personality.
Addressing the audience, and seemingly unaware of just how many people hold him responsible for the destruction of WCW, Russo introduced himself as the Anti-Christ of wrestling and said that he came back because the business was ‘in the shitter’, without seeming to accept that he’s very much to blame for the state of the business.
Russo then tries to claim credit for Jarrett’s rise in the late 90s, claiming to have befriended him in WWE, despite the Double J gimmick, though it should be pointed out that Russo’s ‘friendship’ didn’t help Jarrett get out of the mid-cards in WWE. Russo then clams that the Jarrett’s begged him to come in and help TNA, saying that TNA means ‘Tits and Ass’ not ‘Total Non-Stop Acton’.
Proving that he has no clue what he’s doing, Russo disrespects the NWA greats who have been putting up with his garbage, and claims he’s saving TNA, instead of destroying it.
But Russo’s wants us all to know that he’s not a total psychopath. He offers Jarrett, who owns the company and put up with Russo’s BS even when it nearly closed the company down, be in on what he’s got planned for TNA, which will include some drastic changes. He will expect an answer by the end of the show.
After Russo leaves, an incensed Tenay calls Russo a cancer, stating that Russo is everything that is wrong with professional wrestling and says, point blank, that Russo killed WCW.
Throughout the evening’s show, there were various TNA on-screen talent plugging a silent auction to benefit a school for autistic children and for breast cancer awareness. The segments were pretty lame, so I’m not going to mention them past this point.
America’s Most Wanted vs The Hot Shots: Hot Shots don’t get a ton of love from the crowd,but there are some cheers. AMW are extremely over, but they aren’t in good moods after losing their rematch to New Church last week. The match was pretty typical for these teams. AMW was ground and pound, while the Hot Shots were a lot of flash and cockiness, butthe match was really good.
During the match, James Mitchell and Bella Donna come out, which distracts Storm and Harris, just when they had the match won. AMW pursued the Not-So-Good Minister and his lady, getting themselves counted out in the process. Mitchell, proving that there is no honor among thieves, ran for his life and left Bella Donna to the wolves.
Storm and Harris, proving that they are equal opportunity ass-kickers, were ready to hit the Death Sentence on Bella Donna, when Mitchell returned to half-heartedly try to save her. As the AMW were distracted, the New Church attacked from behind. Mitchell grabbed Bella and they got away, but Bella needs to rethink her life choices.
Backstage, Goldylocks is looking to talk to Jeff Jarrett about his upcoming match against Ron Killings and, presumably, Russo’s offer, but Dory Funk Jr is barring the door.
Funk, lets Goldy know that while Jarrett IS in the locker room, he doesn’t want to talk to anyone since he’s focusing on the match. When Goldy asks if he’s Jarrett’s manager, Funk simply says that he’s got a vested interest in the match.
NWA Tag Team Championship Match: BG James and Curt Hennig vs New Church (with James Mitchell and Bella Donna): I’m not sure why the Harris Twins aren’t in this match since they’re supposed to be the #1 Contenders for the tag titles, but we’re getting James and Hennig. It was supposed to be James/Waltman, but Tenay informs us that Waltman has refused to show up because he doesn’t to be associated with Russo.
Michell gets on the mic and says that he doesn’t care about the difference between professional wrestling and sports entertainment, he’s just interested in being evil.
This match was really basic, which is probably the best option for everyone involved. Hennig looks like he’s laid off the booze and hit the gym a little more, but there’s no hiding the fact that his ring skills are lacking, though he shows some of his former brilliance with an interesting modified figure-four.
AMW run in, causing James and Hennig to be DQ’d just when they thought they had the match won. All hell breaks loose with AMW not only brawling with the New Church, but with the angered James and Hennig who feel that they were robbed of their opportunity. AMW would chase New Church into the back, but it’s clear that AMW have made enemies of James and Hennig.
Alyx Winters vs EZ Money: For reasons that I can’t explain, EZ Money has gotten over with the higher ups at TNA and is back for another match. His opponent is Alyx Winters,who reminds me a little of the Wunderkind from WCW.
The match has a pretty basic start, but there’s an interesting reverse Boston Crab/swing hold by Money. There’s a spot where Winters was supposed to float over Money, but Money didn’t run in and when Winters landed, it was balls first on Money’s knee. After that stupid spot,that Money was very proud of, the match went rapidly downhill. Money picked up the win with a cradle suplex and left poor Winters in the ring.
Backstage, we find Goldylocks with Bruce, who has been in middle of the drama that is the relationship of Brian Lawler and April. After seeming to be caught in the shower with April and probably NOT conserving water, unless April gets turned on by saving the Earth’s oceans, Bruce found himself fending off not only an enraged Lawler, but his former partner, Lenny Lane, who tried to claim that Bruce was ineligible to be Miss TNA because he was actually straight. If you find that confusing, join the club.
This week, Bruce has ditched the pastels and his fetching Miss TNA number for a pretty basic…guy look, long-sleeved shirt, baseball cap.When Goldy introduces him as Bruce, he corrects her and says that his name is now Allen Funk. A confused Goldy asks him about the April situation and Funk claims that he felt sorry for April because of how Lawler treated her and tried to comfort her. What that has to do with showering together, I have no idea.
Furthermore, Bruce states that he is gay, but that his heart got involved and that April is a very sexual person. Goldy makes a really bad joke, but asks what Funk plans to do with the Miss TNA gear, and Funk says he’ll give it to April.
Crimson Dragon vs Sonny Siaki: Last week, Crimson Dragon made a mediocre debut in a match involving AJ Styles. This week, Dragon and Siaki meet one on one. Dragon’s changed his look and looks like a very stylish ninja, while Siaki looks bored,though he gets a bit of a pop from the crowd.
The match was okay, Siaki does his best, but Dragon sucks. He botches several spots before Siaki can put him away with a super overhead-toss and a Money clip.
Once Crimson Dragon is vanquished, a disgusted Siaki gets on the mic and states that he’s tired of the lackluster opponents he’s been getting. If TNA won’t give him better competition than this, he doesn’t want to say. Sonny Siaki, in his own mind, should only be wrestling top guys and be in title matches.
Backstage, Goldylocks is with April, apparently, Goldy was wanting to interview Lawler, but found April instead. April says that Lawler has been in the production truck watching the footage of the shower scene all day. April doesn’t seem to get what the problem is, Bruce is gay and she’s faithful to Brian, which shows that either she’s an idiot or he is.
Goldy points out that no one believes her, especially after last week, to which April coyly implies that Goldy’s jealous. Angry and fed up…FINALLY, Goldy tells the cameraman to cut off the interview because she’s ‘done with this bullshit’.
To add more drama to this mess, Lawler goes to ringside, not dressed to wrestle and looking very sad. According to him, he gave everything he had to a woman and that April cheated on him and made him look like an idiot, though it must be said that Lawler was already doing a good job of making himself look like an idiot before April got there. In play at sympathy, Lawler then claims that April and Goldylocks had an affair, which didn’t win him much sympathy. Fed up, Lawler says he’s quitting the wrestling business and does his really bad crying act before walking away.
Tenay and West are dumbstruck, with even West saying that that was weird.
Thing get weirder back stage when Goldylocks tries to talk to Lawler, but finds him being comforted by Priscilla, Jorge Estrada’s manager. Lawler is STILL doing the fake crying thing, telling Priscilla that she’s the only one that cares. They walk away together, but we see Lawler grabbing Priscilla’s butt, so I don’t think we have to worry about him bouncing back from April.
X-Division Championship Match: Jerry Lynn vs AJ Styles (with Mortimer Plumtree): The rivalry between Styles and Lynn is well-known, so I won’t go into it here. Styles won the right to face Lynn last week after defeating Jorge Estrada and Crimson Dragon.
The match was okay. Even the best rivals have a clunker and this was that match for Styles and Lynn. I’m not sure what was going on,but they just could seem to mesh as seamlessly as they usually do.
Added to the trouble was Plumtree, who was trying to use some heel manager tactics and not doing a great job at it. Unfortunately, Plumtree’s antics would end up costing Styles the match when the brass knucks Plumtree tossed him ended up with Lynn, who knocked Styles into next week for the pin.
In a pre-show interview, Tenay interviewed Dory Funk Jr. Funk, who has none of his brother’s personality, talked about how much being NWA champion meant to him, and talked about what he learned from all the greats he worked with, and plugged the Funking Conservatory wrestling school. For whatever reason, the person typing up the names of the former NWA greats Funk mentions spells Jack Brisco’s name as ‘Briscoe’.
Funk stated that he believed that the Jarrett/Killings feud was the future of the NWA and would be seen as a great rivalry in twenty years. As for Russo, Funk makes no bones about the fact that he doesn’t like Russo and feels that Russo’s sports entertainment had no place in professional wrestling.
NWA Championship Match: Jeff Jarrett vs Ron Killings: It’s time for the rematch. Both men get great pops, though Jarrett’s is a little mixed. This was a really great match, much better than last week’s. Jarrett and Killings took each other all over the arena, actually resulting in a double countout, but Bob Armstrong demanded that the match be restarted so that there could be a definitive winner.
There was a really lame ‘take out ref’ spot that was only saved by Armstrong’s selling, While Armstrong was ‘out’, Russo showed up, seeming to help Jarrett, handing Jarrett his guitar to finish Killings off. Instead, Jarrett breaks the guitar over the turnbuckle to the crowd’s delight, choosing to put Killings away with three Strokes to retain the title.
Angered, Russo go on the mic as Jarrett was leaving,demanding to know Jarrett’s answer, but the show ends before we hear what Jarrett has to say.
Overall Thoughts: So, how was Week 23 of NWA-TNA? Not great. There were a lot of blah matches andstupid/awful segments and only a couple of really good matches to cover for it.
The use of Russo was interesting, he seemed to truly NOT get that most people hold him responsible for what happened to WCW, a fact that bears out if you ever listen to him and seemed to honestly think that the wrestling business needed him. Spoilers: It doesn’t. In my opinion, having watched this show from the first episode to now, Russo’s involvement has been what’s kept TNA from really flourishing in the early stages, which nearly put the company out of business.
I’m glad the Lawler/April/Bruce/Goldy thing seems to be finally over because it was godawful to watch. Siaki getting fed up with having to deal with mediocre job guys was interesting, but they’re still trying to make him a Rock clone and it’s not getting over with fans.
Overall, this was an okay show. I’m hopeful next week will be better.
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