Torch Flashbacks TNA's 1st PPV Ever PPV: In-depth Keller Match Report with Styles, Shamrock, Flying Elvises
Jun 19, 2005 - 2:01:00 PM
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NWA Total Nonstop Action (week one)
June 19, 2002
Live from Huntsville, Ala.
Originally published in Torch Newsletter #710
By Wade Keller, Torch editor
The show opened with a symbolic gesture to Jerry Jarrett's old Memphis–based wrestling group opening montage—the spinning trophy of wrestlers. It then exploded as the screen changed to a more upbeat, modern collage featuring the TNA logo. The set looked high enough budget to pass as major league, although more in the WCW Thunder category than WWE, but above ECW and well above WWA. The lighting was good and the crowd might as well have been a sellout unless you were looking at the top of your screen for empty seats.
Jeremy Borash introduced the show from center ring and then introduced Don West and Ed Ferrara (sporting dredlocks and trying to look half his age), who each did some mic work on the way to the ring. Ferrara touted the "T&A" aspect of the promotion as if he were a 12 year old whispering to his buds about discovering a Playboy. Kinda pathetic for someone his age. Anyway, then Mike Tenay sitting at ringside provided a somewhat sane and classy appearance in a tux.
Borash then introduced Harley Race, Dory Funk Jr., Jackie Fargo, Bob Armstrong, Corsica Joe, Sarah Lee, Bill Behrens, and Ricky Steamboat. Steamboat brought the current NWA World Heavyweight Title belt with him to the ring. He talked about his 1989 victory over Ric Flair in Chicago to capture the title. He announced that he would be special ref for the title match. Tenay acted as if Steamboat had just announced that Israel and the Palestinians had reached a peace agreement. His reaction was embarrassing considering Steamboat as ref had been announced days earlier on the TNA website; for announcers to have credibility, they ought to know at least as much as the general public ordering the show.
Jeff Jarrett walked onto the stage and interrupted. He's sporting a new haircut (still short, but styled rather than shaved and thankfully no guitar). He said it sucked having a battle royal determine the champion. Fargo, upset with Jarrett's lack of respect, said he would have to be the first entrant in the battle royal. Ken Shamrock then stepped onto the other side of the stage and interrupted Jarrett. He admitted the battle royal was a bad idea for a title contest, but then ripped on Jarrett. Scott Hall then appeared in the crowd. He, too, said the battle royal was a bad idea, but then told Jarrett and Shamrock to "deal with it," adding they needed to worry about one man in the match—that being him, of course. Good dose of TNA's top star power to open the show. Tenay referred to Hall as "wrestling's real outlaw."
Backstage a female interviewer talked to midget Puppet, known as the Psycho Midget. He cut a good promo, although it seemed too much like a kid imitating a wrestler in front
of a mirror. In a nice detail, the camera swung over to Jeff Jarrett in the background kicking chairs and yelling about Fargo.
(1) The Flying Elvises (Jimmy Yang & Siaki & Jorge Estrada) beat Low-Ki & A.J. Styles & Jerry Lynn when Yang pinned Styles at 6:25. The old–timers were shown backstage reacting negatively to the Elvis gimmick. Good spotfest, but a six-man tag with this much talent needs at least 15 minutes to develop an internal logic. Nonstop action with some stiff moves. Good at setting the tone for what TNA can offer, even if it's not as polished as the top WWE matches. (**3/4)
Between segments they showed women dancing inside cages similar to a strip club setting, which was a reasonable way to include T&A as background eye candy.
(2) Teo pinned Hollywood at 2:45 in a midget match. They didn't let the midgets leave the ring, but inside the ring they had a decent short match. This match was expendable, but entertaining enough to earn the three minutes of time it absorbed. If they build a storyline around these three midgets, it could be a solid every-other week type ongoing segment. (*)
Ferrara and West entered the ring to introduce women who will partake in next week's T&A battle royal. Francine, Miss Joanie, Shannan (Daphne), Alexis, Sasha, Aaron (a Baltimore Raven cheerleader), Elektra (from ECW), Taylor, and Teresa. Ferrara announced next week would feature the biggest cat fight in TV history to crown a Miss TNA. Francine spoke up and said none of the other women deserved to share the ring with her. Elektra interrupted and said she single–handedly bankrupt ECW. Francine said nobody deserved to see her in her underwear, so she'd win Miss TNA.
Backstage, Mortimer Plumbtree talked about his tag team, The Johnsons. He said they will do anything he says and wear anything he asks of them because they owe their livelihoods to him. It hinted at a bigger backstory that will be revealed as the weeks go on leading to Mortimer pushing his team "too far" so they snap and turn on him. Mortimer has a Jim Cornette–type persona.
(3) Rod & Richard Johnson (w/Mortimer Plumbtree) beat James Storm & Psicosis when a Johnson pinned Storm at 4:50. Alicia (Ryan Shamrock from WWF, Ken's real–life girlfriend) walked down the aisle during the match for some unknown reason. Morty interfered at the end helping his team win. After the match the ref gave Alicia a wad of cash. Not sure why. The Johnsons look like an '80s musclebound team caught in a timewarp. (*)
Backstage the Dupps doing a hillbilly gimmick picked their noses. Behrens, getting his required TV time, told them not to get intoxicated on TV. One of the Dupps said he didn't know of anyone ever getting drunk off of beer. I hope this humor plays better in the South than with me.
Racers Hermie Sadler and Sterling Marlin came to the ring to be interviewed by Jeremy Borash. Marlin is the point leader in NASCAR and a legit celebrity among NASCAR fans. K-Krush interrupted and did a bit about racers not being real athletes. He used language like "your kind" and "my kind" which came across as thinly veiled race-dividing. Brian Christopher interrupted (although the announcers couldn't decide whether his last name was Christopher or Lawler). They set up a match for next week.
Backstage Jeff Jarrett choked out Fargo.
(4) The Dupps beat Christian York & Joey Matthews at 3:41. Good action, but too short to be much of a match. The Dupps are a bit too Bushwacker to be taken seriously, but may be good for mid-card laughs. (*1/2)
Toby Keith's hit video aired. Then Keith began singing his new controversial anthem that Peter Jennings refused to associate with. Jarrett interrupted (late in the song), shoving him from behind. He said nobody wants to hear him sing. "Get your ass out of here, I have a world title to win," he said, then finished with what may be his new catch-phrase: "How do you like me now?"
(5) Ken Shamrock beat Malace to end a 20 man Gauntlet for the Gold battle royal to capture the vacant NWA World Heavyweight Title at 37:37. Jarrett eliminated the next three entrants in order: Buff Bagwell, Lash Laroux, and Norman Smiley. Then out came Apollo, K-Kwik, Slash (w/Jim Mitchell), Del Rios, Justice, Konnan, Lenny, and Bruce (replacing injured Lodi). Gertner introduced Lenny & Bruce with a limerick. Rick Steiner then came out and eliminated several in rapid-fire fashion. Malice (w/Mitchell) entered next followed by Scott Hall. When Steiner charged Malice with a clothesline, Malice ducked and Steiner flew over the top rope to be eliminated. It came down to Jarrett, Apollo, Malice, and Hall at that point. Toby Keith came back to the ring and suplexed Jarrett with Hall's encouragement. Big pop. Chris Harris came out next, followed by Vampire Warrior, Devon Storm, Steve Corino, Ken Shamrock, and final entrant Brian Christopher. Corino, Vampire, Storm, and Harris were eliminated rapid-fire, then Shamrock eliminated Christopher and Malace eliminated Apollo. Malace then threw out Hall at 31:30. Rick Steamboat entered the ring to ref as Shamrock worked Malace over with submission holds. Shamrock finally finished off Malace with his belly–to–belly slam finisher. Fans got behind Shamrock. Good final seven minutes. (***1/2)
As Tenay began his wrap–up, Jarrett stormed out again and complained about Keith's interference. Fargo and Keith came out to address Jarrett. Fargo announced Jarrett would fight "their guy" Scott Hall on next week's PPV.
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