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KELLER'S TNA REPORT 5 YRS. AGO (7-23-03): Styles, D-Lo, Harley Race, Erik Watts, Ricky Morton, Zbyszko, Raven, Sting

Jul 25, 2008 - 2:31:31 PM
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By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

KELLER'S NWA-TNA PPV REPORT
JULY 23, 2003
LIVE FROM NASHVILLE, TENN.


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

-A.J. Styles retained the NWA World Hvt. Title in a best of three match series ending with a ladder match draw.

-America's Most Wanted retained the tag title via DQ against Simon Diamond & Johnny Swinger.

-Harley Race, Ricky Morton, Corsica Jones, Sara Lee, and Larry Zbyszko appeared to endorse the NWA authority figure, Erik Watts. The "Eric" he was talking about for weeks turned out to be himself.

-Crash Holly debuted with a new name, "Mad Mikey," losing to Elix Skipper.

DETAILED RESULTS AND ANALYSIS OF THE SHOW

-After the opening montage and some crowd shots, Mike Tenay welcomed viewers to Total Nonstop Action and said they were going right to the ring for the first in the best of three falls series between D-Lo Brown and A.J. Styles.

1 -- A.J. STYLES (w/Trinity) vs. D-LO BROWN - NWA World Hvt. Title match (first fall)

Styles came out with Trinity, but not Vince Russo. Hurrah. No mentions by the announcers of "Where is Vince Russo?" Instead, they focused their pre-match talk on the title, the stipulations, and the wrestlers. Jeremy Borash did his Michael Buffer-style (in terms of wording) "big event match" ring introduction. The cameras focused on the wrestlers, who had their game faces on, giving the match an aura of importance. A.J. chomped on his gum with the "I'm great, I'm not the least bit nervous" nervous look. After the bell rang, Tenay did address Russo (which was the appropriate time, as a side note, not the primary thought on everyone's minds). He said Russo had been banned from the arena. D-Lo tossed Styles to the mat with a powerful shoulder block. Styles bumped to the floor a moment later, but D-Lo quickly threw him back in the ring and then hit him with a top rope clothesline for a two count. Tenay and West breathlessly talked about the strategies of the wrestlers as if the match were real, a refreshing change from the WWE style, where announcers often seem worried their friends who watch the show are going to rib them for taking their silly jobs too seriously. Styles took over offense at 3:00. The opening ten minutes of the show and five minutes of the match created a great setting for a wrestling fan who likes to get wrapped up in an "important big-time title match." D-Lo was going to dive onto Styles at ringside, but Trinity interfered. For some reason the director chose to cut away to a close-up of Styles at that moment, so the Trinity interference was missed. Styles hit a flip splash onto D-Lo in the ring for a near fall. Styles then made his way to the top rope, but D-Lo knocked him off balance to crotch D-Lo on the top rope. D-Lo then gave Styles an overhead fallaway slam off the second rope. Scary looking move due to D-Lo's size. At 7:15, as Trinity distracted the ref, Sonny Siaki ran out and gave D-Lo the Siakilypse. The ref turned and counted the pin on D-Lo.

WINNER: Styles at 7:32.

STAR RATING: **1/4 -- A great opening seven minutes of a four-star 18-24 minute match, but the sudden interference finish cut that short.

-Tenay and West previewed the rest of the show including the new NWA Director of Authority announcement.

-A intro vignette aired on Elix Skipper which dwelled on that silly "pound for pound best wrestler" catch phrase he's clinging to. As said last week, this "pound for pound" thing just makes it sound like Elix is building in an excuse for not being able to beat anybody bigger than him. Elix issued an open challenge to anyone in the back.

2 -- "PRIME TIME" ELIX SKIPPER vs. MAD MIKEY

An intro vignette then aired on a new wrestler named "Mad Mikey." It turned out to be the former Crash Holly. Tenay acknowledged he was previously known as Crash Holly. The crowd didn't react much to him, so I'm not sure they recognized him. Tenay talked about Crash's title history in WWE, including winning the tag titles with Bob Holly from Mick Foley & The Rock. Mikey went to the top rope, signalled for the top rope splash, and then landed on his feet and then splashed Elix. Tenay said that was the "Hop Splash." Mikey executed it sarcastically, as if he knew it looked stupid. The crowd thought they caught him screwing up. Tenay called it an effective move.

WINNER: Skipper at 6:32.

STAR RATING: *1/2 -- Solid six minute match.

-A vignette aired on Legend and I still don't know much about him.

-Legend gave a long promo in mid-ring. He is articulate, but it was a generic "I'm a mean heel" promo that you'd expect from Rhyno. He ripped on Jeff Jarrett, then issued a challenge. Two open challenges in a row. TNA needs to work on their repeating concepts back-to-back.

3 -- LEGEND vs. ALTAR BOY LUKE & MATT SYDAL

At 2:00, Jarrett walked out and sat on the stage with his guitar watching the match. That led to a brief advantage by Luke and Sydal. Legend gave Stone Cutters to Luke and Sydal and covered both for a double three count.

WINNER: Legend at 3:19.

STAR RATING: 1/2* -- Decent squash.

-Afterward, Jarrett asked the ref if the match was officially over. Since it was, Jarrett attacked Legend in the ring. He a Stroke to Legend, then wound up the guitar. Two members of security separated them before he could use the guitar. Jarrett gave one security member (identified as Kevin Northcutt by Tenay) a punch, sending him retreating.

-They cut backstage to Russo yelling to Styles, who told Russo he worries too much. Hudson tried to get a word from Styles, but Styles walked right past him.

-Another vignette aired on "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels. He said, "Sports entertainment is growth, sports entertainment is improvement." Are we still talking about "sports entertainment?" When was that the least bit interesting the first year TNA dwelled on the non-issue that it justifies going back to it again now? Come on, move on.

4 -- A.J. STYLES vs. D-LO BROWN - NWA World Hvt. Title match (second fall)

As D-Lo came out to the ring, Siaki attacked D-Lo. Styles then clipped D-Lo from behind. D-Lo favored his left leg throughout the opening minutes of the match. Despite a brief comeback, Styles locked D-Lo into a Sharpshooter. D-Lo crawled toward the bottom rope, but Styles dragged him back to the middle. D-Lo managed to reverse the hold, and Styles tapped out quickly.

WINNER: D-Lo at 6:03.

STAR RATING: *1/4

-Tenay said Styles's quick tapout was a smart move because he still has another fall to wrestle. West agreed.

-A sitdown interview aired with Tenay and Don Callis, sitting at a desk in an office. Callis referred to TNA's fans as "our customers." Tenay asked what "management consultant" means. Callis said there have been two types of leaders in wrestling over the years - those who understood wrestling, but not business, and those who understood business, but not wrestling. He said he is the first person in power who understands both. Tenay asked him why he's against hardcore wrestling. Callis said it's not his opinion, it's the result of market research that says fans are against hardcore style wrestling. He added the the market research also says fans don't want to see scantily clad women fight. Tenay, silent on the hardcore issue, spoke up about the women issue. He said the crowd pops have been great. Callis said Tenay isn't qualified to argue with someone of his education. Callis concluded by laughing at Tenay and saying, "Since when does the customer know what they want." I'm intrigued by this new character; we'll see where they go with it. The risk is that it's yet another gimmick that's talking about what wrestling should be like rather than just doing a good job with wrestling. I'm not sure how many viewers are interested in a constant discussion about what types of wrestling (sports entertainment/traditional wrestling/hardcore/women/etc.) they're going to feature.

-Nurse Veronica called for the TNA Girls, Lolly Pop and April, in the cages to head to the ring for a brawl. Security intervened. Ref Rudy Charles begged security to "let them fight," starting a chant. Security did let them loose. Trinity ran out the ring and attacked the TNA Girls.

-Another 3 Live Crew segment aired titled: "B-Jizzle Goes to the Hood." James said he was nervous around black people in the hood. James screwed up by asking black guys if they had guns. They got mad for assuming. One guy got mad he asked him that in front of his son, so in front of his son he began swearing up a storm. Konnan and Truth intervened and told him if he didn't watch it, they'd become 2 Live crew. They threatened to leave James alone in the street, but he freaked out and begged for them not to leave him. They showed James on a shopping trip, and he came out dressed like a loud pimp.

-Glen Gilberti, standing in the ring, asked Jeremy Borash to get into the ring. He insisted that Borash dress up as a woman and become a Cowgirl valet for America's Most Wanted. Borash wouldn't put it on. AMW charged the ring and stripped Gilberti to his black briefs.

5 -- AMERICA'S MOST WANTED vs. JOHNNY SWINGER & SIMON DIAMOND

Harris took a beating for the first few minutes, then Storm got a hot-tag at 3:30. Soon Diamond and Swinger took over on Storm, though, including the Simon Series of consecutive unreleased suplexes. Both Swinger and Harris were given hot-tags at 7:30. Harris scored a series of offense against both heels. AMW went for the Hart Foundation finishing clothesline, but Swinger pulled down on the top rope, so Harris fell over the top rope to the floor. Simon then sidekicked Storm, leading to a near fall. Harris returned the favor by pulling down the top rope as Swinger bounced into the ropes. Harris then hit the top rope legdrop finisher on Swinger, prompting Gilberti to interfere for the DQ. The three heels whipped AMW with cowbells and ropes afterward. Then then hogtied them.

WINNER: AMW via DQ at 9:17 to retain the NWA World Tag Team Titles.

STAR RATING: *** -- Very good ten minute tag match. Typical AMW match. Fundamentally solid. Swinger & Simon are good opponents for them, too.

-A video feature aired on the Raven-James Mitchell feud.

-Hudson interviewed James Mitchell and Shane Douglas with Slash & Brian Lee in the background. Mitchell said he hates Raven so much it makes him want to peel his own skin off, twist it, and use it as a noose to hang Raven. Douglas said, of course, that Raven better get ready to get "franchised."

6 -- RAVEN & JULIO DENIRO & C.M. PUNK vs. SHANE DOUGLAS & SLASH & BRIAN LEE.

Raven and his Gathering charged the ring to jumpstart the match. After some six-way action, Raven and Douglas began the mach one-on-one. Douglas immediately tagged out to Slash. After Punk tagged in, the heels worked him over for a few minutes. Deniro moved out of the path of Slash's top rope flip splash. Raven then got the hot-tag. Raven and Douglas brawled out of the ring. An arm reached through a curtain and yanked Raven backstage. Douglas laughed and returned to the ring where he and his partners enjoyed a three-on-two advantage.Douglas gave Punk a top rope clothesline. Slash then got a table from under the ring. What are all those tables for, anyway? At 8:00 they showed a bloodied Raven crawling on all fours back to the ring as James Mitchell laughed in the background. Raven entered the ring and took it to Lee and Slash. The ref got knocked down in the process. Raven DDT'd Lee as Mitchell freaked out. Raven was about to DDT Douglas when Mitchell entered. That gave Douglas a chance to recover and spear Raven through a table leaning in the corner. The ref came to and counted the pin.

WINNER: Douglas & Lee & Slash at 9:24.

STAR RATING: ***1/4 -- One of those chaotic matches with a solid storyline throughout that played into the feud and the primary personalities. Well booked match. Not the greatest wrestling exhibition, but a smart match.

-"Sting: Beyond the Pain, part 4" - Tenay asked Sting about Christianity. Tenay said he's talked to The Road Warriors and Nikita Koloff about their faith. Sting said Christianity is the focal point of his life right now. "Wrestling was really, really good to me over the years, I mean really good. But at the same time it was really bad. So much good and so much bad that went with it. I am thankful for wrestling and what I went through. God was molding me all along, but it hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized what being like a dad and husband was all about. I gave my life to Christ in August of 1998. My life changed overnight." He said it was tough to walk into the arenas and still deal with his colleagues after his life changed so much. He said Ted DiBiase and Nikita Koloff entered the arena and talked about god and religion and it embarrassed him a bit and made him uncomfortable. He said it turned out later they'd help him get his life back on track and save his marriage and his life. "I was pretty bad there for a while," he said. Tenay thanked Sting for the sitdown interview.

-Standing in the ring were Ricky Morton, Harley Race, Larry Zbyszko, Corsica Jones, and of course Sara Lee (a Nashville veteran) who always shows up in any TNA legends segments. Mike Tenay introduced each of them, and yes, Ricky Morton still has the same haircut. Tenay turned up the praise several notches for Race, whom he called the greatest wrestler on God's Green Earth!" He said they were all there to endorse the new NWA authority, who would be introduced momentarily. Kid Kash walked out and said he didn't mean to disrespectful, so he wanted to thank those legends in person. He took a shot at Corsica Jones for having Alzheimer's Disease. He took a shot at Ricky Morton, although I couldn't get over how much shorter Kash is than Morton. Kash took a shot at Race for winning the NWA Title eight times, but getting pinned nine times. Actually, he only lost the title eight times if he only held the belt eight times. Morton told Kash that he wouldn't have a ring to stand in if it wasn't for them. Kash slapped Morton. Kash then hid behind Sara Lee. Erik Watts entered the picture and chokeslammed Kid Kash. He then held him so Harley Race could punch him. Watts introduced himself as the New Director of Authority.

-West plugged next week's show: Chris Sabin defends the X Title against Michael Shane (cousin of Shawn Michaels) and Jeff Jarrett vs. Legend (double pole match with a guitar and baseball bat on poles in opposite corners). Before he could announce another match, Raven interrupted from the rafters. He stood next to Deniro and Punk, saying he likes the taste of his own blood. He told James Mitchell he's just getting warmed up. He announced next week would be a six-way Raven's Clockwork Orange House of Fun match. Tenay said that would be historical.

7 -- A.J. STYLES vs. D-LO BROWN -- NWA World Hvt. Title match, third fall

D-Lo got the ladder at 1:30. They showed Russo watching from the backstage area behind rafters, shouting encouragement to Styles. Styles flip dived onto D-Lo at ringside at 3:30. Styles then hit D-Lo across the back with a chair. Styles whipped D-Lo into a ladder in the corner. The ladder then fell onto a prone D-Lo on the mat. D-Lo came back at 6:00, but Styles shoved the ladder into D-Lo's face again and then into his gut. Styles climbed the ladder to reach for the NWA belt, but D-Lo slammed Styles to the mat. D-Lo then climbed the ladder and got his hand on the belt, but Styles tipped the ladder over and D-Lo landed on the top rope. Styles threw the ladder onto D-Lo. Styles then grabbed another table from under the ring. He set it up, but D-Lo had enough time to recover and he back suplexed him onto the entrance ramp. D-Lo punched D-Lo onto the table. He then set up the ladder. D-Lo leaped off the top of the ladder without hesitation and crashed onto D-Lo, crushing him and the table in the process. Scary looking! West proclaimed, "A.J.'s gotta be dead." D-Lo then set up the wobbly ladder in center ring and climbed it, but Siaki came out and knocked the ladder over. D-Lo bumped to the floor below, grazing a table in the process. Styles managed to roll back into the ring. D-Lo crawled back into the ring, too. Styles climbed the ladder first as fans chanted, "D-Lo, D-Lo." Styles grabbed the belt, but D-Lo punched him. They both grabbed the belt at the same time, and then fell off the ladder at the same time. They both had a grip on the ladder. Russo ran to the ring and got in the ref's face. Borash begged the ref for an explanation. Borash announced that because Styles wasn't decisively defeated, the belt would remain with him. Russo celebrated and kissed the "prop" (the NWA Title belt) as the show ended. Styles and D-Lo were still knocked out cold.

WINNER: A.J. STYLES retains NWA World Hvt. Title at 10:10.

STAR RATING: ***1/2


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