NWA Into the Fire
December 14, 2019
Meet our previewer
Andy LaBarre: Host of the World Wrestling Fantasia podcast (@wwfantasia), where a rotating panel of guests draft different things each episode and oftentimes make cool mix/comp tapes. Angry at the removal of the WWE Hidden Gems.
NWA National Championship
Colt Cabana (c) vs. Aron Stevens vs. Ricky Starks
Despite the red-hot start of NWA POWERRR, It’s easy to see that while the YouTube streams remain relatively impressive, the show’s staying power seems to be in a bit of flux. Even for me, a guy who really values the type of production and wrestling on display from the NWA on a weekly has had a hard time maintaining the pure excitement and thrill that the first two episodes offered. It’s encouraging that the NWA brass has stated that each “season” will feature a rotating cast of talent different from the past that cycles in alongside the more established “signed” talent in an effort to keep things fresh. I’m using that idea as a bit of a guide with this match. Colt Cabana won his National Championship back from James Storm on an episode of Powerrr, but it was made clear quickly that the hottest new talent in the NWA – Ricky Starks had his eye on the title. Aron Stevens aka Damien Sandow has been a troll through the season’s eight episodes – equal parts obnoxious and genuinely funny. I think Stevens has caught on enough that the NWA will keep him around at least for another season (though his character makes it easy to write him off at any time), but I don’t think his primary role will be as a wrestler. With Jim Cornette gone, I’d love to see a SLIGHTLY more subdued Stevens step into the commentary booth in the future. Anywho, I don’t expect this match to be very good, and while I’d love for Ricky to win (and I think he will eventually), I don’t see it here. While he was one of the more impressive talents early on, he wasn’t truly built up. He WILL be, hopefully by the end of season 2. Prediction: Colt Cabana
NWA World Tag Team Championship
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) (c) vs. The Wild Cards (Thomas Latimer and Royce Isaacs)
Let’s get one thing clear: Stop the tongue-in-cheek narrative that The Rock N Roll Express have as much of a case of “tag team of the year” as anyone. It’s not even close to true. They have the only case. They are the tag team of the year.
Ok I’m joking, but they are definitely one of the really “feel good” storylines in wrestling in 2019, working NWA (and winning the title), working NJPW and indies and so many other places. Plus – Ricky Morton throwing the best Canadian Destroyers out there. I have to imagine their title win was just that, a win and they won’t be keeping those titles through the PPV. The Wild Cards (terrible name, by the way), are actually a pretty cool looking tag team and all things considered are probably the “in-ring” mvps of the first season. Thomas Latimer looks like a pretty unstoppable beast most of the time, and Royce Isaac’s full-nelson-into-a-regular German suplex doesn’t make sense but it looks good. Somehow, I dig the Wild Cards and I expect them to win here. There could be shenanigans from the Dawsons or Kingston & Homicide, but I expect a title change regardless. Prediction: The Wild Cards
Eli Drake vs. Ken Anderson
I (dis)honestly had zero idea Ken Anderson was even in the NWA. Has he done anything? I can’t remember. A bunch of these dudes blend together, even if they are ok at promos. Ken Anderson has been known as a “promo guy” his entire career, but just about everyone has run laps around him here. Eli is one of those guys, and while I can’t tell you anything that has ever happened in an Eli Drake match – the dude is on the upswing and is 100% taking this match. Prediction: Eli Drake
Allysin Kay & Ashley Vox vs. Melina, Thunder Rosa or Marti Belle
The women’s “division” might be one of the weirdest booked areas in the whole of the NWA, and has struggled to keep me invested. I’ve never really understood some individual’s praise of Allysin Kay, though I recognize that she is a strong champion for the company. She has a “badass” character everywhere she goes that connects with people, just not me and her in-ring doesn’t do a whole lot either. Ashley Vox is a fun little pickup, I always love watching her in Beyond, CHIKARA or in her killer matches with Kris Statlander in Limitless Wrestling. Marti Belle is legit one of the worst wrestlers I’ve ever seen, and I’m not someone to say that. I’m curious to what Melina can bring to the table. And Thunder Rosa fuckin rules. She looks like a million bucks, she would seem scary to little kids, she is in crazy good shape and in her matches so far has been far and away the most brutal worker of the women. Forget the tag match, strap Thunder Rosa up. Prediction: Team Melina
Question Mark vs. Trevor Murdoch
The two most over guys on the roster. What a world. I find the Question Mark gimmick fun, but it has a tremendously short shelf life and the fans reactions to him have already jumped the shark on the tapings. Murdoch is a guy that I have always loved and am glad to see getting a little veteran shot here in the NWA. I hope he stays through the second season, because he is definitely a solid hand. I don’t expect a whole lot here, especially with the Question Mark wrestling a more comedic match. The Question Mark storyline hasn’t been completed, so he is gonna get the win here before it’s revealed to be who we all know it is – but that’s ok. It’s fun, it’s silly, It’s NWA. Guys – keep Murdoch on. Indie promoters: book Trevor Murdoch. Prediction: The Question Mark
Best Two-out-of-Three Falls – NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship
Nick Aldis © vs. James Storm
As an added stipulation, it was revealed that each of the first two falls will feature a hand selected referee by the competitors. James Storm selected head official Brian Hebner (zzzzz). Nick Aldis selected former champion and rival Tim Storm (yayyyyyy). If the match goes to a third fall, a coin toss will decide which ref will call the third fall. Conventional wisdom would assume that Aldis calling his former rival (and now buddy) Tim Storm to his side would spell disaster for him, with Storm turning on the man who ended his chance of ever being champion again – but I believe it will actually be the opposite. Storm will have the match all but won, and Storm will intervene in someway to keep the belt on Aldis, leading to a very long-form story where Storm can hold this above Aldis, forcing ONE MORE SHOT a year from now, where his whole career is on the line if he loses.
But without looking too far into the future – this should be the best match on the show, because both of these workers are solid main-event level guys. It will definitely be given enough time (I wouldn’t be surprised if it pushes 40ish minutes), and I would hope that we get a bit of blood, given the way that Aldis likes to work these big main events and the PPV’s poster. I don’t expect this to be a super late addition to the MOTY tracker or anything, but I think the floor is probably around 3 ¼*. Don’t overdo, just go in hate-filled and work a solid, escalating, classic NWA style title match and I could definitely see myself entering into the 4 ½* range. I’m not terribly excited about the match, nor the way it was built (totally wonky), but I’m confident that these two dudes can deliver in the big spot. Prediction: Nick Aldis