Studio wrestling has returned.
Last night’s debut of NWA Powerrr (YouTube / Facebook) was, as one fan during the show described, “the pro wrestling of 30 years ago with the energy of today.” As someone who didn’t live through studio wrestling’s heyday, I’ve had to consume the medium many years after the fact. Still, my appreciation is all the same. What can I say? I’m a sucker for easy-to-digest stories, interviews in front of the crowd, simple and straight-forward in-ring wrestling, clearly defined stakes, babyfaces, heels… it’s not hard to love.
NWA’s Powerrr will be a jarring experience for any new fan who has never seen studio wrestling before. It is, as intended, 1985 presented in a 2019 package. The polish is at times, in its lack of polish. Visible cameraman, long a no-no in major pro wrestling productions, are seen frequently. Curtains with small splashes of blue light may come across as low-rent to those used to the gigantic productions of WWE and AEW, but for NWA, it works. Interview segments are done with a hint of shadows as wrestlers move around the space. The camera attempts to move with them but sometimes cannot keep up with the action, instead, we switch to a shot in the ring with the ropes covering people’s faces. Again, for those used to the polished and refined approach of WWE pro wrestling production, it’s startling but for those of us who pine for the days when pro wrestling wasn’t so overthought — when simplicity was key.
NWA Powerrr takes place in a small studio space where the performers, interviewers, commentators and fans are within arm’s length of one another. It presents a communal feeling not seen often in today’s pro wrestling world. The flags of other countries dangle from the ceiling, another nod to the classic TBS 6:05 studio show from yesteryear. Everyone cuts promos and does them well. No rehearsed lines, no strategic pauses, just promos and interviews from the heart. They are loud too. The wrestlers want you to feel the passion, get excited, join them on this journey. It’s clear from the first episode, if you can’t talk you are not going to hang on NWA Powerrr. Thankfully, they’ve elicited a roster of elite talkers in men like Aldis, Eli Drake, Eddie Kingston, Ricky Starks and countless others. These aren’t wrestlers that will blow you away in the ring but they’ll sure as hell talk you into the building. It’s a welcomed change. As a child of the “workrate” movement, I long for an alternative now where promos and presentations rule the day. I may have finally found it.
This is the NWA.
This is #NWAPowerrr
I'm proud to be the Real World's Champion and the ultimate renaissance man in professional wrestling.
Join us on this ride at https://t.co/ObqNO648zi pic.twitter.com/izKm6zwSNO
— What's causin' Aldis (@RealNickAldis) October 8, 2019
The announce team of Joe Galli and Jim Cornette were exceptional. Cornette, as always, was a wealth of information and a source of passion throughout the show while Galli, a news reporter by trade, was a welcomed throwback to the days of “newsmen” as pro wrestling commentators. It was Galli’s rigid professionalism that made him the perfect straight man in this wild world of wrestling. Galli at times felt like a guy “on assignment” to cover “the wrestling” but that’s not a negative. In a wrestling world dominated by company spokesmen and screaming fans as play-by-play commentators, Galli’s professional approach harkened back to the days of Dave Brown, Bob Caudle and others.
Each wrestler’s stakes were clearly defined during their interview segments. No nonsense, no clowns, no hidden cameras, nobody running someone over with their car. Simple pro wrestling told in front of a raucous audience. NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis wears a perfectly-sized suit, he tells people he drives a Jaguar. Aldis is the champion and he looks, feels and acts like a champion. He’s cool as fuck. Drake wants to prove to the world that he’s one of the best. The heel Josephus wants to take on Tim Storm but instead, the beer-guzzling badass James Storm confronts him. Storm, like Aldis, is cool as fuck. On the flip side, the heels, they aren’t admirable, they aren’t cool. There is nothing to like about the team of Thomas Lattimore (fka Bram) and Royce Issacs, they are over-tanned dweebs. You can’t like them. It’s impossible. When Kingston comes out to confront them, you are immediately on his side. Kingston—one of wrestling’s best promos—immediately puts The Wild Cards in their place.
This all builds to the final match of the night which sees Tim Storm, one of pro wrestling’s most interesting characters, battle Aldis for the championship. Storm cuts an impassioned promo before the match, shouts out his mom, talks about his job as a school teacher, talks about his grandkids, to Storm tonight is everything. Tonight is proving that the old dog still has it. Aldis, cocky and confident as ever, forces Storm to put something on the line. He’ll give grandpa Storm a title shot but if Storm loses, he can never challenge for the title again. Storm accepts. The crowd rallies behind the endearing and relatable Storm but he comes up empty. Aldis rolls out of the ring, his insurance policy Camille by his side, and lets the world know that he’s here to stay.
Weekly American wrestling is in the best place it’s been… maybe ever. Between AEW Dynamite, NXT’s two-hour block on Wednesdays, AEW Dark on YouTube (which aired directly following this show), MLW and now NWA Powerrr — we’re in a wonderful place.
What’s clear as well, is wrestling fans were ready for this onslaught of content. AEW’s week one ratings were a pleasant surprise to many of us in the wrestling world, NXT on USA has been a tremendous success thus far and NWA Powerrr has, as of this writing, over 121,000 views on YouTube. NWA’s YouTube channel—home of the tremendous Ten Pounds of Gold series—has gained roughly 11,000 new subscribers in the last two days.
People were hungry for alternatives in pro wrestling and they are finally here.
NWA Powerrr was everything I wanted out of the rebooted NWA weekly wrestling show. The clear vision of the look, feel and approach to the show was met perfectly. Will the shine last in the weeks and months that follow? Time will tell but NWA knocked it out of the park on night one.