The following report was originally published 15 years ago this month on PWTorch.com…
USA Championship Wrestling
June 13, 2003
In Gainesville, Ga. at the Mountain Center
By Larry Goodman, PWTorch.com correspondent
A.J. Styles retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title in his hometown of Gainesville, Georgia on the debut show for USA Championship Wrestling. The show, titled “Georgia Mountain Memories – a Night of Superstars and Legends,” was long on nostalgia and short on ringwork. They drew a crowd of 500 to the Mountain Center, the building run by WCW and the NWA for many year. A return date for August 15 was announced with possible appearances by Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat. Styles defeated Kid Kash in a very good match that was the best thing on the show by a wide margin.
(1) Derrick Booth (with City Councilman Mark Musselwhite) beat Jimmy Hart (with Ian Harrison) in 40 seconds. “The Hardcore Giant” Ron Niemi from IPW Florida opened the show by insulting the people of Gainesville. Niemi introduced Hart, who gave the ugly women in the house five seconds to hit the exit. Booth, from local radio station WDUN, demanded an apology. Hart wouldn’t do it. Hart used a low blow. Musselwhite hit Hart with a chair. A second ref ran in and counted the pin.
(2) Viscera (with Mysterious Benefactor & The Barbarian & Mr. Hughes) beat Frankie Capone. It took all of a minute. The heel group, lead by Benefactor, is known as the Darkside. Viscera gave Capone the Brain Damage and pinned him with a splash. Viscera squashed him flat with two more splashes in the post-match. That brought out Jim Duggan with his 2×4 to a weak “USA” chant.
(3) “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan beat The Barbarian in 7:00. Is the 2003 or 1983? Slooow pace. Damned if Duggan didn’t get the crowd behind him by working that played out “USA” chant. Duggan got in the football stance and hit Barbarian with a lariat for the pin. Darkside destroyed Duggan in the post-match. Barbarian threatened to hit Duggan with his own board, while refs Jimmy Rivers and Rudy Charles tried to protect him. Benefactor said Duggan had never faced an enemy like The Darkside, so I guess we’re in for more of this on the return show.
(4) Ricky Morton beat Bobby Eaton in 4:15. Nothing much to this. Eaton went heel. Eaton got a near fall with a swinging neckbreaker. Morton got the duke with a small package.
Morton said Midnight Express with Eaton were his toughest matches. Morton said he might have hated Eaton but he always respected him. Eaton acted like he didn’t want to do it, but Morton got him to come into the ring to shake hands.
Niemi introduced A.J. Styles to the hometown crowd. Respectable pop but nothing fantastic. Styles said that after attending wrestling at the Mountain Center as a kid, wrestling in the building was like a dream come true. Niemi addressed Styles’ title defense against Kid Kash. Styles said he wasn’t Tommy Rich and he didn’t plan to lose the belt after only a couple of days. Niemi said that Rich lost the NWA Title (to Harley Race in 1981) in Gainesville after holding it for only five days.
(5) The Road Warriors beat The New Bluebloods (David Taylor & Ian Harrison) in 8:22. Road Warriors were over strong. They didn’t look all that bad in the ring either, especially Hawk. Hawk took a bump into the post and Bluebloods got some heat on him before he hit a double clothesline. Warriors pinned Taylor using the Doomsday Device.
Intermission. Ring announcer, David Penzer said USA was negotiating to have Ricky Steamboat appear on the return show set for August 15. There was mob around Raven and Konnan at the gimmick tables. Bagwell did some business. Glen Gilberti/Disco Inferno did little.
Tony Schiavone came out to present plaques to the legends. Schiavone has picked up a good bit of table weight since his WCW days. “I have stories on everyone I bring out here and most of them I can’t tell.” Schiavone said that when WCW got hot in the mid 80s it was partly because they had the best tag team wrestling in the world. Eaton came out first. Crowd wanted a speech but Eaton wouldn’t talk. Morton was next. Schiavone put over Morton’s singles matches with Ric Flair for the NWA belt in the mid 80s. Schiavone introduced Paul Orndorff by mentioning his WWF cage match with Hulk Hogan. Orndorff really connected with the crowd with his mic work. Orndorff recalled wrestling in the Gainesville Civic Center in the old days. He offered his services as a troubleshooter type (an offer that the promotion accepted). Schiavone said that Michael Hayes was the first to bring music into wrestling. Hayes got a great pop. Hayes joked about Schiavone’s intro. Questioned whether he lit up every town he was in or was he lit up in every town. Said he heard that he had a helluva a career but he didn’t remember any of it. Hayes paid tribute to all the Freebirds: Jimmy Garvin, Buddy Jack Roberts and “The Man” Terry Gordy.
(6) Ray Gordy (w/Michael Hayes) beat David Flair in 8:10. They both worked hard here. Flair came out to the 2001 theme. Crowd was “whooing” on Flair’s chops. Gordy worked Flair’s arm early. Flair hit a back suplex but Gordy got a foot on the ropes. At 6:30 Flair took a slam off the top. Gordy mounted a comeback with an enzuguiri and fisherman suplex. Good near fall with a senton bomb. Flair was looking to set up the figure four when Hayes delivered a one punch KO. Gordy rolled Flair up for the 1..2..3.
Flair issued a challenge for tag match on the August 15 show. Flair said he was bringing in his dad. Hayes said he would make Slick Ric his bitch instead of Triple H’s.
Penzer was quick to say that he couldn’t confirm an appearance by Ric Flair on the August show. Penzer said that if they were able to make the match, it would be announced on WDUN and at their website, www.creativestages.com.
(7) A.J. Styles beat Kid Kash to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title in 13:03. Like night and day compared to the rest of the show. Fans were clearly drawn in by quality of the wrestling. There were a couple of rough spots, but they covered them well. Chain wrestling until Kash leveled Styles with a clothesline at 3 minutes in. Styles sent Kash to the outside with a kip up huracanrana. Styles moonsaulted to his feet from the apron. Kash hit an awesome slingshot huracanrana to the outside. Styles vaulted the rail and superkicked Kash with authority. Styles snapped Kash’s head back with a dropkick. Kash caught Styles as he came off the top with a dropkick to the nuts. Kash busted out a Baron Von Raschke claw and a camel clutch. Styles outdid Jason Cross with his brainbuster. Styles did his version of the Novacaine. Kasn did some kind of tripped out fisherman bomb thing. They had the crowd popping for the false finishes. Kash got in ref Rudy Charles’ face about not counting three. Charles shoved Kash down. Kash countered a powerbomb with a huracanrana and hit a tornado DDT. Styles barely kicked out. Kash went for a top rope huracanrana and Styles countered with a Clash off the ropes for the pin.
Charisma from “American Idol” did a brief performance onstage that the fans treated as a quick smoke break. Penzer was trying to move things along at this point because the show was running late and they’re trying to present a family friendly show (USA ise moving the starting time to 7:30 for the return date).
(8) Konnan beat Disco Inferno in 5:35. Konnan’s mic work was way over. There’s a sizeable Mexican population in Gainesville and the promotion did succeed in drawing some Hispanics to the show. Match itself was pretty lousy. Disco attacked Konnan. Konnan lost his shoe early in the match and threw it at Disco. Inferno hit a russian legsweep to set up the debut of The Village People’s Elbow. Konnan won it with a facebuster. Disco said the decision should be reversed because his nose was broken on the finish.
(9) Raven beat Buff Bagwell in 11:12. What were they thinking when they booked this match? Bagwell came out during Raven’s music. He looked juiced to the gills. Bagwell reminisced about having his first WCW match in Gainesville before he turned on the crowd. The one thing (the only thing?) Bagwell has going for him at this stage of the game is that the crowd seemed to hate him with a passion. Strong pop for Raven. He said Bagwell’s promo was garbled, as if he had something in his mouth. Raven said let’s make it a Raven’s Rules match. Raven sold like a maniac for Bagwell’s offense, taking some good shots into the rail. Bagwell did his posing routine and gave the crowd a full moon. Raven gave Bagwell a drop toehold onto a chair. Bagwell hit Raven AND the ref with low blows. Bagwell missed with the Blockbuster. Raven superkicked Bagwell for the pin. Bagwell got his heat back with an electric chair drop and a Blockbuster on Raven.
NOTES: Styles and Bagwell had an altercation on Thursday night at the Sportstime bar during a pep rally for the show. Seems that when Styles came in, Bagwell made a comment to Styles about shaking his hand last. They got in each other’s faces at that point. All indications are that it was a shoot since nothing came of it during the show itself…USA had sponsorship from WDUN-AM and Magic 102FM in Gainesville. Schiavone works as an announcer for WDUN… USA is being backed by Centerstage Sports, an offshoot of the Centerstage Theater where WCW used to tape television… Some fans expressed the opinion that the crowd size was held down because the promotion was late in getting the word out about the show…Some also felt that a general admission price of $15 was too steep… Talked with the brother of A.J. Styles. He mentioned how surreal it was to see his brother beating up Road Warriors on NWA-TNA, since they grew up watching them on TV.