NWA Into The Fire
December 14, 2019
MEET OUR REVIEWERS
Neil David: Neil watches wrestling with his best pal, Jake The Dog and refuses to wear trousers of any kind when indoors. Follow @chubby_cthulhu
Steve Case: An NWA PPV in 2019. Dokken blasting through the speakers. Only things missing are the mullets. EXCITING times we all live in! Follow @Coachcase44
Eli Drake def Ken Anderson
Neil: Ken Anderson is that ghost that sits on the back seat of a car, occasionally making itself known on long drives. He’s there but he’s not. He is, in theory, a great hire for NWA. He’s a talent with name value, but is thoroughly undesirable to anyone else. Unfortunately, he’s been largely forgettable so far and a good showing here is desperately needed.
This match is as American as the NWA. It’s a throbbing Harley Davidson; its strength isn’t in speed but a relentless, unstoppable power. Every move feels very thick, and Eli Drake seems to know when to follow a big move with an equally powerful follow up.
Ken was clearly plagued with fatigue as this enters the third act, but Eli Drake still had plenty left to give. His leap to the top rope was impressive, but not as impressive as the force with which his taint smashed Anderson in the face. It was a great finish. ***
Steve: Stu Bennett is a really good commentator. But maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s because I’ve watched Powerrr all season, but it’s weird not hearing Cornette. It just is.
Entrance music! That’s a nice surprise to separate the PPV from the TV show. This had the aesthetic of an old school territory match. The younger, more fit, more marketable wrestler the company is obviously behind pushing as a star, versus the older, grizzled looking veteran with name value. The work in the ring was solid, professional, and clean. Things deflated a touch while Anderson was in control, but not enough to take away from the match. I’m a big Eli fan. I think he should be the next guy for Aldis no question. The finish was a little less than desired and anticlimactic, but it fits in with the tone of the promotion and how it’s been booked. ***
Thunder Rosa def. Tasha Steelz
Neil: Tasha Steelz exuded a very likeable confidence as she came down the steps, and a quick interview did a good job of introducing her quickly. It did, however, make me question how suitable the studio format is for a big event. It felt more like an extended episode of Powerrr (Powerrrrrrr, if you will) rather than a flagship PPV. The ‘season finale’ concept is an interesting approach that needs time to settle before it can be reviewed properly.
Thunder Rosa lives up to her name and certainly brought the thunder here. Juxtaposing her ice cold anger with Tasha’s arrogance was a good recipe and it soon transitioned into hair pulls and big chops. It was essentially an extended squash to continue Rosa’s push, so it’s unfortunate that Steelz moves around the ring like a newborn giraffe.
Tasha’s fight back showed a spark of something, but the dyspraxic way she moves around the ring belies the effort. A double stomp from Rosa finished this with a full stop rather than an exclamation point and ultimately this match should have been on the TV and not the PPV.
Ashely Vox came out to save Steelz from a beat down but ended up being stretched into oblivion, clearly setting up a “story” for the tag match later in the show. **1/2
Steve: I have never seen or heard of Tasha Steelz. I like the character though. She cut a pretty good promo pre-match and even dropped an OKURRRRRRRR. Cardi B. Shout out. I also really like Thunder Rosa, as she can be a huge star anywhere.
The match was pretty solid, albeit paint by numbers. There’s not really much else to say other than it was a fine pro wrestling match. Rosa got the W and attacked Steelz after. Vox ran in to save, but got her elbow destroyed instead. This could change the tag match later? **½
The Question Mark def. Trever Murdoch
Neil: The Question Mark is a wonderful example of the hyperreal. The huge question mark emblazoned on his mask directly contradicts the fact that we all know who he is. The audience participates in the faux Miz/Sandow storyline despite no real impetus to do so. It might have worked, but it’s a jigsaw puzzle missing a few pieces.
This Mongrovian karate routine might have garnered a few titters from the audience, but it’s one of those moments where I wonder how I would explain what I’m watching to a non-wrestling fan. If someone asked, I’m not sure I would have an answer for them.
This was a bizarre display of the worst wrestling clichés – the non-American flag, the dreadful othering of foreigners – and I’m not sure why it got any reaction at all. The Question Mark has become a dollar store Kendo Nagasaki and it does very little to endear me to his Mongrovian cause.
Like Eli Drake before him, Trevor Murdoch deserved better. **½
Steve: Big Mark pop! Stevens with the Mongrivian flag and a pre-match promo. This was the correct amount of ridiculous. The unveiling of the flag and singing got a legit laugh outta me. It was dumb/stupid fun. Sue me.
This was another basic match, given just a little extra by how over Question Mark is with the crowd. The Question Mark flag holder was always going to play into the finish, so in a match like this that was meant to be lighter fair, I didn’t mind it. KARATAY. **¼
NWA Tag Team Championship
Rock and Roll Express (c) def The Wildcards
Neil: RnR picked up the surprise win on the last episode of Powerrr, which only served to deflate this match. There’s only so much excitement in that ninth championship reign, and there wasn’t enough to go around.
Each team brought “insurance” – Homicide and Kingston for RnR, Dawsons for The Wildcards – and suddenly it feels like storytime.
Morton and Gibson, understandably, are a few steps slower than they used to be but they told a decent story of being smarter than their opponents. The story did delve into the bizarre at times, with Latimer essentially being duped into wrestling his own partner, but then again Latimer can easily invoke stupidity with an uncanny, natural ability.
There’s little things to appreciate here, such as Morton being able to elicit crowd reactions with a mere look, but we just want to see his Canadian Destroyer and go home.
An unintentional distraction from the Dawsons led to a win for Rock N Roll Express in this absolute cheese sandwich of a match. ***
Steve: So Homicide and Kingston are here with the Rock and Roll and the Dawson’s are our with Wild Card. This will end fair and square I’m sure. This has been said throughout the run, but Ricky Morton can still go. It’s kind of amazing. Gibson? Not so much. The Wild Cards did their part to keep this match together, they are just the least interesting tag team in the world. The Dawsons took out Homicide and Kingston, which distracted Isaacs enough for the Rock and Roll to hit a double drop kick for the win. I don’t know where this division goes from here, but hopefully we get some fresh blood at the tapings. **3/4
Allysin Kay and ODB def Melina and Marti Belle
Neil: I know wrestling is fake, but ODB terrifies me. I don’t really know why; perhaps it’s the unrelenting walk, the barbaric yell or the way she constantly fondles her breasts like she thinks she may have forgotten them.
This match reminded me of Plato’s analogy of the cave. In the cave, several people are chained to a wall and they can only see shadows of the outside world. Eventually, some of them start to think they are knowledgeable about what is outside the cave, but their knowledge is based on the shadows of the birds and the trees rather than the things themselves.
These four wrestlers behave like they’ve been trapped in Plato’s cave seeing shadows of WWE Superstars. It was a cover version of a wrestling match. Melina wrestles like she’s just woken up from a nap and Marti’s offense is just starting to hear rumors of aggression.
Steve: Oh hi ODB! She’s a perfect fit for the NWA. Why is she in this match? I have no idea.
This wasn’t very good. It was sloppy, didn’t have much flow, and no one really looked all that great coming out of it. Maybe Melina can shake some rust off eventually, but I have my doubts. *½
NWA National Championship
Aron Stevens def. Colt Cabana © and Ricky Starks
Neil: If this match was a comedy movie, they blew their best joke in the opening seconds. Describing Aron Stevens’ weight as “refused to disclose” was infinitely funnier than him spending the first half of the match hiding behind a Christmas tree like the Ghost of Christmas Shit.
A pattern is being to develop here. First it was Eli Drake, then it was Trever Murdoch and now it’s Ricky Starks. NWA seem determined to do nothing of significance with wrestlers who actually have identity and interesting characteristics, choosing instead to prioritize Mongrovian stand up.
The relationship between Question Mark and Stevens makes no sense whatsoever. The audience cheer for him like Pavlovian WWE causalities without actually considering why. He isn’t the oppressed talent that Damien Sandow was and he is fully complicit in all of Stevens’ shenanigans. He’s a bizarre memory of a half-decent storyline from a few years ago.
Whenever it’s Starks and Cabana, this match is good. As soon as Stevens crawls out of his box it becomes something that is usually buried half way through a YouTube cringe compilation. *¾
Steve: This was a difficult match for me. The in ring action was actually very good, especially the Starks/Colt stuff. Starks should be the guy that eventually beats Aldis and carries the company (if they can keep him). Stevens is just…ugh. The hiding behind the tree, covering up with a table clothe, it’s the bad kind of ridiculous. Before was the good kind, when he was the mouthpiece. This was very bad. And that finish? I get it, the coward heel got the cowardly win. But that kind of win is the kind that turns people off. Starks better get this back and soon. **1/2
NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship
Nick Aldis (C) def James Storm
Neil: There are sprinklings of good ideas here, but unfortunately it’s impossible to build on shaky foundations. The great idea of having the honorable Tim Storm being involved in a controversial finish is completely negated by the illogical decision to have each competitor choose their own referee. Stipulations are fine, but distributing them haphazardly diminishes everything that comes after.
Haphazard is the only way I can describe Aldis in general. On the one hand, he’s a regal champion who espouses the glory of professional wrestling and the NWA. On the other, it’s strongly insinuated he is a controlling and coercive partner. Complex characterisation goes beyond spraying traits like a burst fire hydrant.
This theme of random nonsense is continued throughout the match, with Kamille wafting around like an after dinner fart causing distractions and lost falls. There is some wrestling, but it feels compulsory and damp. The curtain has already been pulled back with the distractions, coin tosses and referee selection. It’s not wrestling, but “story.”
Nothing exemplifies this more than James Storm considering using the chair to lose the second fall by DQ but gaining a major advantage in the third. It wasn’t logical, but it didn’t need to be because that’s just what happens in two out of three falls matches.
A ripped turnbuckle and a ref bump later, we have a winner. Again, I like the idea of an innocent Storm being unwittingly involved in a controversy, but the road to that point was so contrived it’ll need a stellar episode of Powerrr to get it back on track.
Of course, the biggest news here is Marty Scurll’s appearance which is fortunate for the NWA. It will distract from just how terrible this show was. Whether Marty fans like myself will get much satisfaction from seeing him in the NWA quagmire remains to be seen, but hopefully he is the first in a line of fresh injections for season 2. **¾
Steve: This was EASILY the best thing on the show. Even with a little overbooking in the end, this was a strong world title main event for the NWA. This first fall seemingly added to the Camille story as she willingly or unwillingly distracted Aldis leading to him losing the first fall. Storm controlled much of the second fall. Taking Aldis up the stairs and brawling outside the ring.
Aldis would regain control and even things up leading to the inevitable third fall. I did like that there were no blatant referee screw jobs here. The ref bump was one thing, but the exposed turnbuckle might have been a bit too much. That is unless you are turning Aldis full blown heel. They didn’t here with his babyface promo following the win. But then, MARTY SCURLL shows up to seemingly challenge Aldis. Powerrr viewership bump in the works. ***1/2
Overall this was an extended episode of Powerrr. A good episode yes, but I expected more and a little better. I enjoyed it for what it was, but it seemed too much like old hat. Marty definitely freshens the main event scene up a bit going into the second season of Powerrr. Him showing up also makes things very interesting in the industry moving forward. You would think he’d be there for at least one PPV match, which would be in late January. Could he have possibly signed with NWA? Is he spreading his wings with his newfound freedom? Where else will he pop up? This is a good thing. For NWA and for wrestling.
Many are calling this a TNA PPV in 2019 and I think that’s unfair. It was terrible on its own terms. NWA need to decide what they are. If they want to be a bizarre, Adult Swim-esque wrestling show with their tire iron commercials and the Question Mark, that’s fine. But, they promise a traditional wrestling show. I would suggest they put more effort into the wrestling part.