Celebity appearances have been plentiful enough to make WCW Hog Wild and WrestleMania blush. Racer Hermie Sadler, Country singer Toby Keith, Dustin "Screech" Diamond (Saved By The Bell), Movie star / raunch comedian Chris Rock. How about former NWA-WCW play by play man - Tony Schiavone!

Big name WWE talent has found it's way to the Asylum in Tennessee after being released by McMahon Inc. Among them are Raven (who has gone on to become a cult hero and main eventer), Syxx Pac (who walked out after several weeks of work claiming he wouldn't be able to work with new writer Vince Russo) and the most recent ... D-Lo Brown. The jury is still out on D-Lo. He received the loudest ovation in the history of the show when he debuted - but was been somewhat flat in his in-ring debut last Wednesday.

Rumors have recently been flying that Crash Holly is about to be released from his WWE deal and could land in TNA as well.

The pipeline has gone both ways though. A one legged, high flying youngster by the name of Tenacious Z recently signed with the WWE after a couple of very impressive showings on TNA. Shark Boy wrestled sporadically for TNA, and is now being seen in WWE dark matches. Malice (formally known as The Wall / Sgt. AWOL in WCW) has had on again - off again chats about coming back to WWE after turning some heads as TNA's top big man.

The late Curt Hennig wrestled his last pay per view match in TNA when he defeated David Flair on Jan 8th in an "Ax Handle on a Pole" match. Hennig was victorious. Just weeks before his death, Hennig had been involved in a major angle with World Champ Jeff Jarrett, but did not manage to win his first NWA belt.

All of these names aside TNA revolves around (more like lives and dies with...) their heart and soul talent of AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn, Amazing Red, Ron Killings, Sonny Siaki, James Storm, Chris Harris, The SAT's, Kid Kash, Jorge Estrada and Low Ki..

Recapping a single episode is daunting enough; to accurately review eight months is near impossible. Instead, here are some highlights and lowlights over the past nine months, as well as the TNA title history.

Low Points:

  1. Big Clumsy Wrestlers: Unlike the cult favorite Ring Of Honour Promotion where many TNA stars compete, large uninspiring wrestlers with low work rates have been given opportunities to shine and have more often than not fallen flat on their face and done little more than take away valuable time from the X-Division. The Dupps, "The Alpha Male" Monty Brown, Apolo, Cheeks, The Johnsons and everyone's favourite, The Harris Brothers, are just a FEW examples.
  2. Inability to keep talent on consecutive shows: It has happened on many occasions where TNA has put time into promoting a star or an angle only to later find out that a key player will not be able to compete for them for quite sometime. Case in point. Low Ki, Eliz Skipper and Christopher Daniels formed a Wolf Pac-esque trio known as Triple X. They were carrying the tag titles before Ki and Daniels accepted bookings in Japan for a solid month, forcing TNA to panic and suspend the titles. Another example is Malice. The monster made his return to TNA last week after a long absence (he has been booked solid working with numerous other promotions) and was placed in a blow-off match with members of Sports Entertainment Extreme this week. The day after the show TNA executives were informed that Malice had been booked to compete in Japan this week. This lack of control and lack of planning tarnishes the company's reputation.
  3. Handling of the Tag Team Titles: As of Wednesday morning, the Tag belts have switched hands seven times and been held up twice. That is what die-hard WWE fans hate about their brand of wrestling. Constant title switches and blatant disregard for the title, only to just hold them up at a moment's notice. TNA is trying desperately to establish their own stars in the tag ranks, but cannot do it by flipping the champions so often that casual viewers don't have a chance to figure out who's who. Harris and Storm should be marketed stronger while also pushing teams like The New Church and Triple X (if they agree to stay in the United States during their program).
  4. Production: Yes, their production values have been moderately better than the now-defunct company that used to be based in Philadelphia, but wrestling fans have been spoiled. They are used to seeing Titan-Trons, slick double feature replays, excessive pyro and great camera work. TNA has had problems in this area. Some examples: On a recent episode, hosts Mike Tenay and Don "OH! DID YOU SEE THAT MOVE?" West were calling the instant replay action on a split screen ... however, no split screen was seen by the viewing audience through the entire show; When a third or fourth person joins the broadcast team, there are almost ALWAYS sound issues. Microphone 3 is down. Make that 2. No, it's 2 AND 3. Is anybody on the air?; Also on a recent episode, Kevin Sullivan made a surprise appearance and while cutting his promo, a transformer in the arena blew, causing the show to air nothing but black for the next five minutes.

High Points

  1. X-Division: For the first 12 weeks it was on the air, the only thing people were talking about was the X-Division. WCW turned the cruiserweight division into a joke. The WWE never handled it much better, and certain wrestlers have refused to work within that group knowing that there is a glass ceiling for the lightweights. FINALLY, someone gave the fans what they wanted. Long, well-worked matches by hard working athletes who could chain wrestle, hit height spots and steal the show. The X-Division was explained as being about a certain style, and not about weight limits. More often than not, X title matches have been the main event of the evening. Could you imagine EVER seeing Rey Mysterio and Dean Malenko headline a WCW pay per view? Would the WWE even put Tajiri and Nunzio in the Smackdown! main event? Clearly no. The ability to focus on talent and not necessarily marquee names or monster sized men, reminded fans of the very popular rebel organization that did much of the same: Extreme Championship Wrestling.
  2. Creation of The Truth: Allegedly the WWF told Ron Killings that they didn't have anything for him before releasing him. The former K-Kwick came to TNA determined to get himself over and make everyone in New York regret that decision. After cutting golden promo after golden promo, Killings eventually started referring to himself as "The Truth" - and offered bits of his "truth" regarding the "real reasons" he was released from the WWF. Those reasons allegedly being an unwillingness to put over an African American. Killings gained tremendous steam and eventually won the World Title, simultaneously transforming himself from a curtain puller to a legitimate superstar.
  3. Tradition VS S.E.X.: Love him or hate him, since Vince Russo made himself an on-air character in the battle between Sports Entertainment and Traditional wrestling, the buy rates have steadily increased. Clearly fans are intrigued by this angle. While a long awaited blow off match has not yet materialized and Russo has inexplicably removed himself from the show over the last few weeks (claiming he has retired from the business), this angle continues to be the focal point of each show and fans are responding.
  4. Division VS. Luchadors: You won't find many Internet fans who have anything kind to say about Konnan over the last six years. The former Mexican champion has slowed down in the ring and is a shadow of his former self, but with his talent on the mic and ability to produce various Latino stars, this feud has become very compelling. For those who don't know the premise... Konnan appeared on TNA mad as hell about the fact that the incredibly popular X-division was a Lucha Libre rip-off. This has caused countless online discussions and lead to some wonderful matches. The X-Division representative has been Jerry Lynn and not the current champion (strangely enough), Kid Kash. Lynn has been in the ring with Super Crazy, Juventud Guerrera, Damien, Halloween and Konnan himself. With the exception of last week's tag team loss, Lynn has always come out on top, adding fuel to K-Dawg's fire.

Title History

A.J. Styles 6/25/02
WORLD CHAMPION
Ken Shamrock 6/18/02
Won the "Gauntlet for the Gold" on the first episode of TNA, last defeating Malice of the Disciples of the New Church
Ron Killings 8/07/02
Defeated Ken Shamrock
Jeff Jarrett 11/20/02
Defeated Ron Killings
X DIVISION
Four way, double elimination match. Psicosis was eliminated first, then Low Ki, and then Jerry Lynn.
Low Ki 8/07/02
Defeated A.J. Styles in a three way dance that included Jerry Lynn
Jerry Lynn 8/21/02
Defeated Low Ki and A.J. Styles in a three way dance ladder match.
TITLE HELD UP
Syxx Pac 10/9/02
Former DX member wins the title in a ladder match
A.J. Styles 10/23/02
Defeated Syxx Pac
Jerry Lynn 11/6/02
Defeated A.J. Styles
Sonny Siaki 12/11/02
Defeated Jerry Lynn
Kid Kash 2/5/03
Defeated Sonny Siaki
TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS
AJ Styles and Jerry Lynn 7/3/02
Tournament Final - defeated Lenny and Bruce
TITLES DECLARED VACANT 8/14/02
A.J. and Jerry faced Ron Killings and Jeff Jarrett. Each time had one man pinned simultaneously and the NWA declared the titles vacant.
Chris Harris and James Storm 9/18/02
Defeated Ron Harris and Brian Lee in a tournament final
Slash and Brian Lee 11/13/02
Defeated Harris and Storm
Chris Harris and James Storm 1/8/03
Defeated Slash and Lee Elix Skipper and Low-Ki 1/22/03
TITLES DECLARED VACANT Double pin occurred in a match between Skipper / Ki and Harris / Lee.
Low Ki and Christopher Daniels 3/18/03
Defeated Harris and Storm.

Preview

The Wednesday March 26th edition of NWA-TNA (available on pay per view) airs live at 8PM EST and will feature an 8 man tag team between S.E.X. (Harris Brothers and two members of Triple X) versus the Disciples of the New Church (Brian Lee, Slash and two NEW members ... rumored to possibly be America's Most Wanted or The Lost Boys). Also confirmed: Jerry Lynn and Konnan will attempt to determine once and for all which style is dominant: The "X" wrestler or the Luchador.

Come back to SLAM! Wrestling on Thursdays for the weekly TNA PPV recap.

Donnie Abreu has been a wrestling journalist for eight years and is the co-founder of IceCold Media (http://www.icecoldmedia.com). Visit IceCold Media for all your custom media design needs. Mention that you read Donnie's column on SLAM! and receive a 20% discount!


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   Wed, March 26, 2003



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Catching up on NWA-TNA
By DONNIE ABREU - SLAM! Wrestling


On June 19th 2002 NWA-TNA did what no one ever thought could be done. They launched a major new wrestling company on pay per view without a national television deal.

Vince McMahon himself had commented in online chats and interviews that this was not a model for success. He asked rhetorically how they were going to promote their paid weekly events, and felt they were relying a little too heavily on the Internet wrestling fan.

Nine months later, NWA-TNA has defied all reasonable logic and despite some struggles and various business issues have continued to broadcast their Wednesday night program and have had tremendous success.

To recap...

Guest appearances have included: Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sabu, Ken Shamrock, Takao Omori, Scott Hall, X-Pac, Juventud Guerrera, Super Crazy, Julio Dinero, The Sandman, The Road Warriors, Nikita Koloff, Big Van Vader, The Rock 'N' Roll Express, Shark Boy, Johnny Swinger, Simon Diamond, Tony Mamaluke, Steve Corino, Larry Zbyzsko, Lash LeRoux, Rick Steiner, Vampire Warrior (Gangrel), Jasmine St. Clair, Francine, Jonah from Tough Enough 3, even a Moondog!

We've also seen 'The Original Big Sexy' Luther Biggs - now known as the Elvis parity "Disgraceland".

Celebity appearances have been plentiful enough to make WCW Hog Wild and WrestleMania blush. Racer Hermie Sadler, Country singer Toby Keith, Dustin "Screech" Diamond (Saved By The Bell), Movie star / raunch comedian Chris Rock. How about former NWA-WCW play by play man - Tony Schiavone!

Big name WWE talent has found it's way to the Asylum in Tennessee after being released by McMahon Inc. Among them are Raven (who has gone on to become a cult hero and main eventer), Syxx Pac (who walked out after several weeks of work claiming he wouldn't be able to work with new writer Vince Russo) and the most recent ... D-Lo Brown. The jury is still out on D-Lo. He received the loudest ovation in the history of the show when he debuted - but was been somewhat flat in his in-ring debut last Wednesday.

Rumors have recently been flying that Crash Holly is about to be released from his WWE deal and could land in TNA as well.

The pipeline has gone both ways though. A one legged, high flying youngster by the name of Tenacious Z recently signed with the WWE after a couple of very impressive showings on TNA. Shark Boy wrestled sporadically for TNA, and is now being seen in WWE dark matches. Malice (formally known as The Wall / Sgt. AWOL in WCW) has had on again - off again chats about coming back to WWE after turning some heads as TNA's top big man.

The late Curt Hennig wrestled his last pay per view match in TNA when he defeated David Flair on Jan 8th in an "Ax Handle on a Pole" match. Hennig was victorious. Just weeks before his death, Hennig had been involved in a major angle with World Champ Jeff Jarrett, but did not manage to win his first NWA belt.

All of these names aside TNA revolves around (more like lives and dies with...) their heart and soul talent of AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn, Amazing Red, Ron Killings, Sonny Siaki, James Storm, Chris Harris, The SAT's, Kid Kash, Jorge Estrada and Low Ki..

Recapping a single episode is daunting enough; to accurately review eight months is near impossible. Instead, here are some highlights and lowlights over the past nine months, as well as the TNA title history.

Low Points:

  1. Big Clumsy Wrestlers: Unlike the cult favorite Ring Of Honour Promotion where many TNA stars compete, large uninspiring wrestlers with low work rates have been given opportunities to shine and have more often than not fallen flat on their face and done little more than take away valuable time from the X-Division. The Dupps, "The Alpha Male" Monty Brown, Apolo, Cheeks, The Johnsons and everyone's favourite, The Harris Brothers, are just a FEW examples.
  2. Inability to keep talent on consecutive shows: It has happened on many occasions where TNA has put time into promoting a star or an angle only to later find out that a key player will not be able to compete for them for quite sometime. Case in point. Low Ki, Eliz Skipper and Christopher Daniels formed a Wolf Pac-esque trio known as Triple X. They were carrying the tag titles before Ki and Daniels accepted bookings in Japan for a solid month, forcing TNA to panic and suspend the titles. Another example is Malice. The monster made his return to TNA last week after a long absence (he has been booked solid working with numerous other promotions) and was placed in a blow-off match with members of Sports Entertainment Extreme this week. The day after the show TNA executives were informed that Malice had been booked to compete in Japan this week. This lack of control and lack of planning tarnishes the company's reputation.
  3. Handling of the Tag Team Titles: As of Wednesday morning, the Tag belts have switched hands seven times and been held up twice. That is what die-hard WWE fans hate about their brand of wrestling. Constant title switches and blatant disregard for the title, only to just hold them up at a moment's notice. TNA is trying desperately to establish their own stars in the tag ranks, but cannot do it by flipping the champions so often that casual viewers don't have a chance to figure out who's who. Harris and Storm should be marketed stronger while also pushing teams like The New Church and Triple X (if they agree to stay in the United States during their program).
  4. Production: Yes, their production values have been moderately better than the now-defunct company that used to be based in Philadelphia, but wrestling fans have been spoiled. They are used to seeing Titan-Trons, slick double feature replays, excessive pyro and great camera work. TNA has had problems in this area. Some examples: On a recent episode, hosts Mike Tenay and Don "OH! DID YOU SEE THAT MOVE?" West were calling the instant replay action on a split screen ... however, no split screen was seen by the viewing audience through the entire show; When a third or fourth person joins the broadcast team, there are almost ALWAYS sound issues. Microphone 3 is down. Make that 2. No, it's 2 AND 3. Is anybody on the air?; Also on a recent episode, Kevin Sullivan made a surprise appearance and while cutting his promo, a transformer in the arena blew, causing the show to air nothing but black for the next five minutes.

High Points

  1. X-Division: For the first 12 weeks it was on the air, the only thing people were talking about was the X-Division. WCW turned the cruiserweight division into a joke. The WWE never handled it much better, and certain wrestlers have refused to work within that group knowing that there is a glass ceiling for the lightweights. FINALLY, someone gave the fans what they wanted. Long, well-worked matches by hard working athletes who could chain wrestle, hit height spots and steal the show. The X-Division was explained as being about a certain style, and not about weight limits. More often than not, X title matches have been the main event of the evening. Could you imagine EVER seeing Rey Mysterio and Dean Malenko headline a WCW pay per view? Would the WWE even put Tajiri and Nunzio in the Smackdown! main event? Clearly no. The ability to focus on talent and not necessarily marquee names or monster sized men, reminded fans of the very popular rebel organization that did much of the same: Extreme Championship Wrestling.
  2. Creation of The Truth: Allegedly the WWF told Ron Killings that they didn't have anything for him before releasing him. The former K-Kwick came to TNA determined to get himself over and make everyone in New York regret that decision. After cutting golden promo after golden promo, Killings eventually started referring to himself as "The Truth" - and offered bits of his "truth" regarding the "real reasons" he was released from the WWF. Those reasons allegedly being an unwillingness to put over an African American. Killings gained tremendous steam and eventually won the World Title, simultaneously transforming himself from a curtain puller to a legitimate superstar.
  3. Tradition VS S.E.X.: Love him or hate him, since Vince Russo made himself an on-air character in the battle between Sports Entertainment and Traditional wrestling, the buy rates have steadily increased. Clearly fans are intrigued by this angle. While a long awaited blow off match has not yet materialized and Russo has inexplicably removed himself from the show over the last few weeks (claiming he has retired from the business), this angle continues to be the focal point of each show and fans are responding.
  4. Division VS. Luchadors: You won't find many Internet fans who have anything kind to say about Konnan over the last six years. The former Mexican champion has slowed down in the ring and is a shadow of his former self, but with his talent on the mic and ability to produce various Latino stars, this feud has become very compelling. For those who don't know the premise... Konnan appeared on TNA mad as hell about the fact that the incredibly popular X-division was a Lucha Libre rip-off. This has caused countless online discussions and lead to some wonderful matches. The X-Division representative has been Jerry Lynn and not the current champion (strangely enough), Kid Kash. Lynn has been in the ring with Super Crazy, Juventud Guerrera, Damien, Halloween and Konnan himself. With the exception of last week's tag team loss, Lynn has always come out on top, adding fuel to K-Dawg's fire.

Title History

A.J. Styles 6/25/02
WORLD CHAMPION
Ken Shamrock 6/18/02
Won the "Gauntlet for the Gold" on the first episode of TNA, last defeating Malice of the Disciples of the New Church
Ron Killings 8/07/02
Defeated Ken Shamrock
Jeff Jarrett 11/20/02
Defeated Ron Killings
X DIVISION
Four way, double elimination match. Psicosis was eliminated first, then Low Ki, and then Jerry Lynn.
Low Ki 8/07/02
Defeated A.J. Styles in a three way dance that included Jerry Lynn
Jerry Lynn 8/21/02
Defeated Low Ki and A.J. Styles in a three way dance ladder match.
TITLE HELD UP
Syxx Pac 10/9/02
Former DX member wins the title in a ladder match
A.J. Styles 10/23/02
Defeated Syxx Pac
Jerry Lynn 11/6/02
Defeated A.J. Styles
Sonny Siaki 12/11/02
Defeated Jerry Lynn
Kid Kash 2/5/03
Defeated Sonny Siaki
TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS
AJ Styles and Jerry Lynn 7/3/02
Tournament Final - defeated Lenny and Bruce
TITLES DECLARED VACANT 8/14/02
A.J. and Jerry faced Ron Killings and Jeff Jarrett. Each time had one man pinned simultaneously and the NWA declared the titles vacant.
Chris Harris and James Storm 9/18/02
Defeated Ron Harris and Brian Lee in a tournament final
Slash and Brian Lee 11/13/02
Defeated Harris and Storm
Chris Harris and James Storm 1/8/03
Defeated Slash and Lee Elix Skipper and Low-Ki 1/22/03
TITLES DECLARED VACANT Double pin occurred in a match between Skipper / Ki and Harris / Lee.
Low Ki and Christopher Daniels 3/18/03
Defeated Harris and Storm.

Preview

The Wednesday March 26th edition of NWA-TNA (available on pay per view) airs live at 8PM EST and will feature an 8 man tag team between S.E.X. (Harris Brothers and two members of Triple X) versus the Disciples of the New Church (Brian Lee, Slash and two NEW members ... rumored to possibly be America's Most Wanted or The Lost Boys). Also confirmed: Jerry Lynn and Konnan will attempt to determine once and for all which style is dominant: The "X" wrestler or the Luchador.

Come back to SLAM! Wrestling on Thursdays for the weekly TNA PPV recap.

Donnie Abreu has been a wrestling journalist for eight years and is the co-founder of IceCold Media (http://www.icecoldmedia.com). Visit IceCold Media for all your custom media design needs. Mention that you read Donnie's column on SLAM! and receive a 20% discount!