Wrestling Night in America Reunion: PWTorch columnist Greg Parks is joined by former PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill for a full match-by-match preview of WrestleMania 36
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•DAWSONS (W/POPE) VS. THE BOUNCERS (W/EDDIE KINGSTON) – HIT, SHOCKINGLY: I was all prepared to hate this match. Cowboy was doing his best Hangman impression while tag partner, Eli Drake, was on guest commentary, and I was already annoyed. Then the Dawsons, who I initially thought would be powerhouse tag champs immediately but have just been shuttled from cold feud to cold feud, enter with Pope, who is just annoying. At this point, I’ve written “miss” on this segment. Then the Bouncers come out in all their slovenly schlubby glory and I’m glazing over at the fact that I have to watch this! It was a bad match that had a good ending… kind of like most Wrestlemania cards! From the weak, mostly fingertips chop fest at the beginning, to Bruiser biting one of the Dawsons but proclaiming he doesn’t have teeth, this was all carny sideshow. Suddenly, Milonas came in and created some sneaky fast running of the ropes for a crossbody that was impressive and the tandem finish of superplex from Milonas and frog splash from Bruiser swung this to “hit”. I would never rewatch this match in a million years, but it provided enough to surprise and entertain.
After the match, Cowboy poured multiple beers in the nearby-displayed Crockett Cup and the two fat guys and he shared it as Drake abstained. I have no idea what they’re trying to do here, but if you don’t have enough weird drinking wrestler storyline action from AEW, then come on over to NWA Power and double up.
•THOM LATIMER AND KAMILLE (W/GALLI) – MISS: Oftentimes, NWA uses these bumper segments to really put over a talent before the next match. This is not one of those times. Thom Latimer sounds like a character from dinner theatre. He’d be rife for a job at Medieval Times. He did his best to sound like a tough guy, but it felt unnatural and just bad. He wants to beat Tim Storm (next); Strictly Business is fine; Drake and Storm aren’t a team; Kamille never talks. I didn’t need these three minutes or so to hear Thom unconvincingly say this, as I pretty much assumed it or would assume he’d think so. Blah. This sucked.
•THOM LATIMER W/ KAMILLE VS. TIM STORM – 49.5% MISS: Aw man, so close to neutral, but sadly, it was a miss. These two have zero chemistry in ring and the more I see Tim, the older he moves. And that’s fair, Tim is 50 or older, I’d reckon. Also, it didn’t help that most of Latimer’s offense looked so protected and light. His working punch I could spot lighten up in mid-swing; he pulled back on a short-arm clothesline too soon; he pummeled Tim’s chest with elbow strikes directly into his own hand covering Tim’s chest. Do better, Latimer. In the end, Latimer goes over with an implant DDT and I think that’s the right call. Most of season two was all about Strictly Business just losing every match not involving Aldis, that now two weeks in a row, we’ve seen 70s Porn and Long Hair win. This does, however, make me question NWA and their booking again. Forget whatever they’re doing with drunkard Cowboy Storm, his first cousin, Tim, loses EVERY SINGLE MATCH. He’s your top white-meat promo and after a while, there ain’t enough Mama Storm mentions to reinvigorate the audience into cheering for a certified loser. Get to the point in his story arc as soon as possible. KTHXBAI.
•TREVOR MURDOCH (W/ MARQUEZ) – NEUTRAL: This could have swung either way, 49.9 percent miss or 50.1 percent hit, instead neutral is fair. Trevor Murdoch continues to shine as just a rough-and-tumble babyface who just wants to put on a good show and make the fans proud and goddang it, it works for me. He wants a rematch against Shooter Stevens for the National Title. Question Mark interrupted after Murdoch called him stupid. And guess what? This was indeed stupid. He grunts into the mic and Marquez covered his right breast with his left hand, which kudos for him to recognize the Mongrovian anthem because I had no idea what was going on. It ends with Question Mark grunting, “MEEEEEE, YOOOOOOU, KAHRAHTAAAAAY!” at Murdoch, and both Bennett and myself were left asking wonder what that means? It’s time to say it. I’m over Question Mark. I think it’s run its course and cannot be concluded under its own volition. And really, when you have a guy like Murdoch, a straight shooting character, being in a feud with Question Mark just hangs a lantern on how goofy Question Mark really is.
•TWO MINUTES WITH SEAN MOONEY – HIT: These quick recaps by Sean Mooney prove to be just what Power needed, and it shows because we’re not bombarded with video recaps this week so far. He informed us as to the encounter between Aldis and Scurll at Free Enterprise, where Scurll made the counteroffer that since Aldis says the belt is worth $500k to himself, if Scurll loses, he’ll cut Nick a cheque for that amount. Nick later accepted the counteroffer. (Readers, I wrote cheque here instead of check because in a title feud between two Englishmen, I couldn’t fight the urge to use my normal spellings!) There’s also some new programming coming with The Circle Squared (their version of Tough Enough), Powerrr Surge (sit down interviews), and something called Super Powerrr at month’s end. Color me sad that there’s no word on Girl Powerrr.
•NIKITA KOLOFF PROSELYTIZES – WOW: I had no idea where this was going, which seems to be a theme with the Cousins Storm and their booking, but this was different. Nikita Koloff is holding the TV Title of yesteryear at his outdoor, woodsy home and he’s growling about something–that in 1993, he found salvation in the Christ! And since then he’s done workshops and talks helping others find salvation too. Holy cow. I mean, hey, Tim Storm has dropped Jesus on the show, Jocephus Claus sang about the newborn king on the show, and now the Russian Nightmare is proselytizing through an advertisement. I mean, okay? Couldn’t we just get RNR Express hotline again? Clearly, this show taps into its southern roots, and as a southern person, I get it, but when are we going to have ad time or spots with Richard Petty or Terry Labonte on?! Or how about Kamille’s Krystal Corner (can’t do three Ks) where she just orders some mini chicken sandwiches, sits down and blinks at the camera before enjoying those tasty sliders?
•NWA TV TITLE: RICKY STARKS (C) VS. MATT CROSS – 49.99999% MISS: This match was fine but you want to know what made it good? Joe Galli and Stu Bennett worked hard putting over a lot of information and trends. They immediately highlight the 6:05 time limit. They quickly put over the Lucky 7 (now with a cool graphic) and discuss how with such fast matches and challengers bringing their best, seven successful defenses won’t come easily at all. As the match wore on, Galli and Bennett suggested that Cross has changed his gameplan and highlighted a specific spot where Cross changed his usual move sequence and then near the end, reiterate it by commenting on how Cross never climbed a single rope and kept everything at ground level. So far, the match is whatever, but commentary is great. We’re hovering at 60 percent hit alone just on the commentary.
And this is where we dive into miss territory. Remember the 6:05 time limit? I knew this would be a draw as soon as I saw it was a first round rematch from Hard Times. So Matt Cross hears 30 seconds remaining, hits a cutter, poses for the crowd to acknowledge he can do his splash off the rope and then time expires before he even gets to the second rope. I like having a time limit draw because two evenly matched wrestlers, who also just wrestled three weeks ago (kayfabe). It SHOULD go to a draw especially because we’ve seen Matt Cross change his entire modus operandi, which would conceivably leave Ricky Starks ill prepared for this match.after making deliberate changes to their gameplans, but they just did a very poor job of this particular ending. And that’s how we get to just barely a miss. You telegraphed from the jump that these two are going to wrestle to a draw, and that’s fine, but don’t have them look stupid in getting to that point.
MARTI BELLE AND ALLYSIN KAY W/ DAVIS – HIT: I was a bit nervous for Marti Belle to be out there on her own but she held up well. When Kyle Davis began to imply Melina was a cult leader, Marti snapped and defended Melina strongly and believably… and also like someone who could be brainwashed. Kay did a good job in showing compassion and still caring for her friend and vowing to support her regardless. For such a short and quick segment, this really did evolve the storyline some. We’ve officially planted the seed of Melina the Manipulator, suggested that she’s wrestling tonight to get herself into title contention, and that Marti is firmly entrenched into Melina’s web.
•MELINA VS. TASHA STEELZ – HUGE MISS: Let me compliment Tasha Steelz first because I think this is her first good performance from soup to nuts; her selling has improved and she had a very convincing fire up and hope spot that brought me back into the match. Tip of the cap, Tasha.
Melina is awful. She did her very best Victoria (first WWE run) meets Daffney impersonation, complete with all the posing, posturing, and screaming. It was just god awful. She has very few moves that look good, but she did have this awesome looking face plant where she kicks her leg for momentum. Outside of that, she’s a huge bust. I’m just glad this wasn’t Ashley Vox in this match losing. Although, next week, Melina said she will challenge Thunder Rosa for the Women’s Title and deemed it herself, skipping right over William Patrick Corgan, first of his name. Oof. Not looking forward to that one. Good luck dragging her to a 2.5 star match even in studio format, Rosa.
•MAIN EVENT: ISAACS & ALDIS VS. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL EXPRESS – HUGE MISS: I’ll say it again and every time RNR are featured in main events or title matches–they’re done. This was embarrassing. All the times we saw Gibson unable to get up from a bump or pinfall in prompt time for the next spot, all the botched setups or transitions because they’re not quick enough or nimble enough, this just fully exposed RNR can no longer go. But then again, were any of us in the camp that thought they could? They’re not even worth the nostalgia pop, especially considering YOUR WORLD’S HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION HAS TO SELL TO THESE OLD GEEZERS! It was so bad that Isaacs was overselling to near-HBK-versus-Hogan proportions. This was bad. Just so bad. It was its worst where Robert was getting up from kicking out and as Morton walked by to address Aldis in the corner, Robert Gibson stopped him to pull himself up off the mat. Woof.
Aldis and Isaacs got the win when Isaacs pinned one of RNR using the ropes as leverage. Two wins in a row for Royce and more wins for Strictly Business. At least we’ve got that going.
•OVERALL – MISS: This was somewhere between a holdover pattern show and just filler. I know I railed against Hard Times being one month after Into the Fire, but putting off the next show til April at Crockett Cup makes me think we’re going to get a few more of these types of shows. Nothing much happened here, and there were a few questionable booking decisions. If you’re looking for a show to skip in the NWA Power library? Well, this is the one, and that’s considering the canned show after firing Cornette.