KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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•OPENING MONTAGE – HIT: I’m not sure I’ll always include these, but I really like how they use 45 seconds to a minute just to recap prior events. Wrestling is an episodic show, so utilizing a “Previously, on NWA Powerrr…” is a nice touch and tone of anticipation to kick off a show.
This week is still all about Kamille and her deal. We are shown all of her antics and actions over the past seven weeks while Aldis’s promo from last week is spliced in between, reiterating him saying her actions are her own.
•JOE GALLI INTRODUCTION – HIT: I was soft on this at first, whether to include it in Hits & Misses or not, even whether to judge it as a hit or miss. Galli makes the first major announcement for the December pay-per-view, Into the Fire saying Nick Aldis will defend the World’s Heavyweight Title in a two-out-of-three-falls match. But who shall be his opponent? Oh, Galli, you temptress, you. Temptor, maybe? Anyway, he keeps the cards close to the vest but suggests three possibilities in Ken Anderson (yuck), Colt Cabana, and Aron Stevens (huge eye roll and double yuck). This was a good set-up to our next segment though because Galli mentions how even Eli Drake wants to be considered and then throws to video of a promo. Now why is this a hit? Well, because we do get convincing enough challengers to Aldis’s title and we do find out the stipulation and the stipulation is fine. Building anticipation is always a hit.
•ELI DRAKE PROMO – HIT: Let him talk to ya! Eli Drake stood in the center of the ring with Dave Marquez from a Championship Wrestling in Hollywood show and blessed the mic with a really strong promo mostly directed at Nick Aldis. While including scenes from Eli’s early years at NWA Hollywood/Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, he states he started in the NWA, left for other places, but came back to the NWA only to find that Aldis filled the void Drake left. Eli says Aldis requested NWA bring in a challenger for him and there’s one person ready to challenge him and that’s E-LI-DRAKE!
At this point the crowd is into the promo and chants E-LI-DRAKE but not before he completely flummoxed me by informing us all that people want to see him and Ken Anderson fight, going as far as to call it a dream match. GOD NO. That’s no one’s dream, Eli. Not at all. Yuck. But Drake closes with the difference between himself and Ken Anderson is Eli doesn’t stop and he won’t stop. He’s got undeniable kevorka and can talk you into the building. His wrestling skills may not be as high as his verbal but it’s adequate enough, but the guy knows how to look into the camera and sell you on a fight. That’s talent, people.
•GALLI INTERLUDE #2 – NEUTRAL: Nothing important here outside of announcing the NWA Tag Team Titles will be on the line next week between the champion Wild Cards and the former eight-time champs Rock & Roll Express
•THUNDER ROSA “INTO THE CAGE” PT. 1 – HIT: I really enjoyed this even though it had absolutely nothing to do with Thunder Rosa as a wrestler or character. Rosa had her first MMA match for Combates America (which I think was the El Patron Alberto venture) and the first part was a focus on her training and preparation for her first fight in the cage. We get to see her steely determined look as she worked out with her coaches from Brazilian Top Team Texas and at one point she jokes about wearing face paint while training. We learn about her life’s work with differently abled children and ignored students and how dealing with those kids’ troubles really pushed Thunder Rosa more into wrestling as an escape and way to release. Again, this had nothing to do with any storylines or her as a wrestler, but as a piece focusing on a person’s background and other combat sport dabblings, I really enjoyed it. It didn’t have the glitz and polish of a Cody segment leading into Full Gear, but regardless I liked the grittiness of her story as it compared to the rawness of the footage. Good stuff in a tight situation. (Tight situation? More on that later)
•GALLI INTERLUDE #3 – HIT: Joe Galli announces a National Title match for Into the Fire… well, kinda. Next week, The Question Mark will fight Ricky Stevens and the winner will challenge Colt Cabana for his NWA National Title at the pay-per-view. Oh, but why is this a hit you ask? Joe Galli plugs Question Mark’s new shirt and it’s hideously awful and that is why it is brilliant and I want one.
•ARON STEVENS/QUESTION MARK PROMO – MISS: I don’t play coy at all when it comes to Question Mark. I am a fan of all of the silliness, but this pairing with Stevens is just too much. You can’t add goofy throwback to scenery chewing ham and expect it to go over well. Aron Stevens is dressed like he just left the set of a Vivid Pictures film and insists on heavy handed overacting, which is saying a lot for this being professional wrestling. Aron continues with not allowing Marquez to look at him, he went to the same joke twice saying karate normally while Question Mark informs him it’s pronounced kah-rah-taaaaaay and there’s dead silence. Why is there dead silence? Oh, Dave Marquez tells the heels that Question Mark will face Zane Dawson in an empty studio match. That’s what makes Aron’s act all the worse; he hams it up and delivers these stupid jokes to no studio audience, so everything just hangs in the air like an needless apostrophe. Oh, but we did find out that last week when Jim Cornette said Question Mark was from “Mongrovia,” that he was indeed correct because Stevens said the masked man is from “the deepest, darkest corners of Mongrovia.” So, yes, I reckon Question Mark is also from Africa, potentially doubling down on the Ethiopia fiasco. This was a bad segment to lead into.
•QUESTION MARK VS ZANE DAWSON, EMPTY STUDIO PLUS MASK VS. SHAKESPEARE MATCH – HIT: This was a hit for the most part. Now, if you didn’t watch this show and you’re reading the headline for this segment, you’ve got to be wondering what the hell just happened. For some reason, it was announced that if Question Mark lost, he’d have to unmask. Sure, why not? I mean Dawson and Question Mark have no previous history really so why not add such an overwhelming stipulation that lets you know immediately who is going to win. Not to be outdone though, Aron Stevens asks that the Dawsons read Shakespeare if they lose because acting is hard! He’s right, it’s hard. He’s overacting in an attempt to be a bad actor as a character and there’s so many Inception-like layers to it that the whole thing is bad and proves he’s having a tough go with this acting thing.
This was a quick squash with Question Mark going over in mere minutes with the Mongrovian Spike after issuing a half decent missile dropkick that the chosen camera angle showed barely made contact, if any. I did like Question Mark using his textbook trapezius chops and gimmicky offense while the gruff Dawson used the dragging-the-eyes-across-the-rope on a masked wrestler, so that has to be so painful. It was just a good squash that was simple and easy.
One thing though that struck me as hilarious was that this was billed as the main event. So we got a squash match main event in a show that featured no other matches. Yeesh. (More on this later.) The Dawsons did indeed read Shakespeare, at first terribly while Zane sold the injured throat, and then less terribly and more passionately and with conviction! See, they hammed it up in their second attempt and it worked. But we got back to the terrible acting when Aron Stevens reached under the ring for a lined wastebasket to kayfabe vomit! And boy did he try to ruin this entire segment but Question Mark saved it again doing the little things of holding his head close to the bin while pinching his hair back like a great friend after a Friday night of college binge drinking.
•GALLI INTERLUDE #4 – HIT: Another match for Into the Fire is announced as Question Mark will fight Trevor Murdoch. I want to see this, even though I think Trevor Murdoch is capable of so much more, I just want to see how they handle someone as rough and tough as Murdoch when paired against the ultra gimmicky Question Mark. Joe Galli makes this interlude a hit by pulling out his mobile phone and saying he slid into Question Mark’s direct messages on Twitter to ask how he’ll prepare and that Question Mark’s reply was “KA-RAH-TAAAAAAAY!” And yes, Joe even grunted it out and did the hook hand motion.
•MELINA INTERVIEW WITH JOE GALLI – HUGE STINKING PILE OF MISS: Okay, people, before I focus on the overwhelming negatives, I learned in a teaching camp something called “bullseye feedback”. The aim with bullseye feedback is layering; you begin with a compliment, insert the areas that need work and then close with another compliment.
I love that NWA Power uses two chairs and ringside in an empty studio for these interviews. This just works. The bright blue and yellow of the ring apron pops against the darker colors usually worn by the guests, the production is usually a little slicker, and it just comes off as real rather than forced. Unfortunately, Melina has to sell why she’s in NWA and that’s when things just go off the rails.
Let’s start with Melina telling us she loved wrestling as a kid and that was a time when wrestlers fought for a cause, for heritage, for family name. Sounds like she liked lucha to me and that tracks. She came to the NWA because she wants to innovate and be different, and that’s fine and here’s the first major car crash.
Joe Galli, bless his heart, ask “You used the term ‘revolutionized’ and I think, just as an outside observer, your work in the ring helped revolutionize women’s wrestling…” I watched a lot of Melina and I fail to see where she revolutionized much, but she lets us know. She was the first to pay attention to entrances and presentation, and she was the first to use her flexibility. I mean, seriously, I don’t even know what to do about this or what to do with this, but sure, Melina, it’s your world and we’re just living in it.
Moving the focus to the Women’s Champion, Allysin Kay, we get the most confusing three minutes of word vomit I’ve heard in a long while. Melina says Kay thinks she’s the best but she isn’t (even though she’s champion but okay). Melina then befuddles me saying you can’t be the best until you’ve beaten someone that makes you feel worthless, which I guess Melina has? Sure? And then we get the huge 10 car pile up that I watched five times to see if maybe I’m stupid or she’s just not making any sense.
So let me slowly walk through this with you, reader. Melina says Allysin Kay treats the title like an accessory while telling the women they aren’t ready for a title shot. Melina then adds that she would make the women work for title shots. Melina immediately follows this saying all of the girls are worthy contenders because they try hard and get back up from a fight. So let’s run this all back. Allysin tells the women’s division they’re not worthy of a title shot; Melina, on the other hand, makes women work for title shots but also believes all of the women are worth a title shot simply because they are there. Five times, y’all. I watched this part five times.
She closed this horrendous interview segment letting us know that she is indeed a living legend, seriously, and that the Women’s Title deserves more than “Allysin mmKay”. Okay, that was a good one, mmKay, I can give credit where it’s due.
Some people need scripted promos, and that’s okay. Joe Galli let the interview breathe and didn’t force in questions, but also Melina didn’t stop yammering about nothing long enough to let Galli ask much. However, for all of her word vomit, she looked like a star, so that’s something.
•THUNDER ROSA “INTO THE CAGE” PT. 2 – HIT: We return to the second half of the package about Rosa’s first MMA fight. There’s some candid footage of Rosa in her hotel with fellow tag team partner and Twisted Sister, Holidead, six hours before the fight. I liked seeing that, especially considering shortly after this cage fight, they had a great “Last Time Ever” match at Ladies Night Out 8. There are some scenes of fight preparation including hand wrapping, sparring, wrestling practice, and prayer.
Thunder Rosa lost the fight in a unanimous decision, 30-27 score from all three judges, but her coaches were extremely proud of her. I loved the raw mixed emotions from Thunder Rosa, as we see her vacillate between happiness, sadness, relief, and exhausted. It really was a great shift from the acted emotions of scripted combat to the real emotions of shoot fighting. I found this second part to be a beautiful poetic counterpart to the first half. Thunder Rosa fought hard for her students and often left feeling exasperated and spent but took delight in the small victories, though the journey hurt. I think we could draw a parallel to her journey from training to post fight.
It may have nothing to do with wrestling, but this is a good package and I see a huge babyface in Thunder Rosa down the road.
•GALLI CLOSING – HIT: Galli adds to the card for Into the Fire: Allysin Kay and Ashley Vox vs any combination of Melina, Thunder Rosa and Marti Belle. He gives us a reminder for next week’s matches of Colt Cabana vs Ricky Starks in a non title match and Rock & Roll Express vs Wild Cards for the Tag Team Championships. The final revelation was who shall challenge Nick Aldis for the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship and it’s none other than Cowboy James Storm, which really makes us wonder what did Kamille whisper to him last week and how will Aldis feel about this and deal with this and her. This Kamille thing is good stuff because I just get more invested every week thanks to their opening montages and reminders of how much of a constant thread she is in a lot of goings on.
•OVERALL – HIT*: I kept parenthetically adding “more on this later” at parts of these hits and misses and now let’s get to that. I say this show is an overall hit because we now have a card for Into the Fire and a title match that makes sense and has a lot of intrigue around it that has been building since the first episode and that’s a great payoff so far.
I also call this a hit because this couldn’t have been the original Power #8. They had one in the can but shelved it after the Cornette ordeal because this had no wrestling except one match that was done in an empty studio and had weird stakes for no reason. That suggests that Lagana or Corgan or both went to the drawing board, packed a show with Thunder Rosa in MMA and a wretched Melina interview and a quick match to have some kind of wrestling on this show. That’s my guess as to why this episode is a bit disjointed from the rest. It had that feel of a clip episode of your favorite sitcom somewhere around episode 100, just enough to satisfy hunger while keeping its part in your weekly routine. They did a good bit with less and it worked well enough.
RECOMMENDED: 11/26 NWA POWER TV REPORT: The Question Mark vs. Zane Dawson in an Empty Arena match, Drake’s return interview, replay of James Storm vs. Colt Cabana, overall a bad recap episode that does damage