[Flashback PPV Recap] NWA-TNA Weekly PPV #1 – June 19, 2002
Ten years ago, TNA debuted as a weekly PPV event. Relive the first episode through my insanely detailed recap which I guarantee will have you saying “HOW THE F*CK DID THEY SURVIVE PAST THE FIRST YEAR?!?” by the end of it. Click “read more” for the whole rundown.
The old school TNA intro plays (old NWA logo which gets blown up by the new NWA TNA logo) and we go live to Huntsville, Alabama (oh fun fact: not all the “Asylum” shows took place at the Asylum) where a pyrotechnics/smoke display welcomes everyone to the first edition of the show. Jeremy Borash introduces the first commentator of the group Don West. West has a mic and hypes up the crowd before introducing broadcast partner #1 Ed Ferrara. Ferrara comes out to a ridiculously cheesy theme song sporting even more ridiculous dreadlocks. Ferrera also has a mic and says that he’s not only about TNA in a wrestling sense he’s about in the other sense too. This man used to write for mainstream wrestling television folks. Ferrara throws it over to the third commentator Mike Tenay who is already sitting at the table. He welcomes the home audience and says that this evening all revolves around history. He talks about the legends in attendance and the fact TNA will crown a new NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
The champion will be crowned in the “Gauntlet for the Gold” and Tenay runs down the rules of the match. It’s essentially a Royal Rumble match with the twist that the final two participants left then wrestle in a 1 on 1 match to decide the winner of the whole thing. Ferrara says that the Gauntlet for the Gold is his kind of match because it’s “Dawinism in action”. West sends it out to Borash who’s in the ring.
The NWA Legends Parade
Borash does MC duties and announces each legend as they head to the ring. The legends are as follows: Harley Race, Dory Funk Jr., Jackie Fargo (who isn’t a former NWA Champion but he’s a Southern wrestling icon), Bob Armstrong (another Southern legend), Corsica Joe and his wife Sarah Lee (don’t know who they are), Bill Behrens (an executive with the NWA at the time), and Ricky Steamboat who gets the loudest reaction of the parade. Steamboat is carrying the NWA World Heavyweight Championship with him. Tenay talks about each wrestler’s accomplishments as they walk out with Ferrara cracking jokes about them because his gimmick is that he doesn’t respect the history of the business.
Steamboat gets on the mic and talks about the time he won the NWA World Heavyweight Title in 1989 by beating Ric Flair. He says that this belt means more to him and the legends than any other championship (fun fact: he didn’t actually win that version, he won the “big gold belt” version). Steamboat says the NWA Title is the ultimate goal for any professional wrestler. Steamboat says 20 wrestlers have been selected for the “Gauntlet for the Gold” and he says then when it comes down to the final two wrestlers he will be the one to referee the match. Tenay and West go absolutely over the top nuts at that announcement.
The familiar music of the “King of the Mountain” plays and out comes Jeff Jarrett to interrupt the proceedings. He hasn’t changed his theme music in ten years. Jarrett stops at the entrance stage and has a mic in his hand. Jarrett calls the “Gauntlet for the Gold” the biggest bunch of crap he’s ever heard in his life. He rhetorically asks the former NWA Champions if they won their world titles in a battle royal and then says that this version of the belt is the most ridiculous he’s ever seen.
- Thoughts: Well that doesn’t seem like a great way to build up your top championship right from the get go.
Fargo grabs a mic and tells Jarrett to kiss his ass and tells him he doesn’t do the Fargo Strut the way he does. He then does said strut which isn’t exactly that great. Fargo tells Jarrett that he’ll be the first entrant into the “Gauntlet for the Gold” tonight. Jarrett says that’s fine with him because he’ll be walking out the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Generic rock music hits and out comes Ken Shamrock to a good pop and over the top Tenay enthusiasm. Shamrock agrees that the Gauntlet for the Gold sucks (HA!) but says Jarrett may whip 18 others’ asses tonight but he won’t be whipping his.
More generic music hits and we cut to the crowd where Scott Hall makes his entrance. More over the top Tenay enthusiasm. Hall lets out a “Hey, Yo!” and the crowd goes wild. Hall also agrees that the “Gauntlet for the Gold” sucks but tells Jarrett and Shamrock to quit whining about it. He tells them to focus on just trying to beat him up as opposed to the others. Jarrett tells everyone to stick it and tells Fargo he’s going to regret this day for as he long as he lives.
- Thoughts: What a weird opening segment to start off the show. Jarrett, Shamrock, and Hall all completely crapped on the “Gauntlet for the Gold” and did nothing to sell the match to the viewers or those in attendance. It was a giant burial job by the three biggest names in the gauntlet and the fact they went that route is mind-boggling to me. I mean what does that say to your viewers, you know? Just awkward stuff all around. And who is Corsica Joe? TO WIKIPEDIA!
Goldilocks is backstage. She says that she’s got “Total Nonstop Action” right here and kneels down to interview Puppet The Psycho Dwarf. Puppet says midgets are the true stars of the world and runs down the other two midgets wrestling tonight, Tio and Hollywood. He says that he wants to see some midget blood tonight and he thinks he can provide that. They are interrupted by Jeff Jarrett walking the hall and kicking things over while cursing Fargo’s name.
- Thoughts: I love Puppet the Psycho Dwarf; that guy is really into what he does and he cuts one hell of a promo. Goldilocks however…her “enthusiasm” came off so fake and forced that it also felt like she was making fun of the job she was being paid to do. Maybe she gets better over time.
Back out to the arena we get a shot of the TNA Cage Dancers (2002 was a weird time) as Borash does ring introductions for the opening contest, a six-man tag team match. The first team out is the group of AJ Styles, Low-Ki, and Jerry Lynn. Tenay talks about how this match features six members of TNA’s “X-Division” which isn’t about weight, it’s about style. Their opponents tonight are announced second: THE FLYING ELVISES! (Jorge Estrada/Sonny Siaki/Jimmy Yang). We cut backstage and the NWA Legends are in disbelief that The Flying Elvises exist. Tenay talks about how the X-Division isn’t going to have weight limits like the old Cruiserweight and Light Heavyweight division which is funny since all 6 of these guys look like Cruiserweight wrestlers (with maybe the exception of Siaki who just looks like a fake Rock).
- Thoughts: I f*cking love The Flying Elvises and I love the fact they are in the first match of the night. I can just imagine the people who ordered this on a whim going “…oh my god what the hell did I just sign up for?” before reaching for the strongest alcohol they could find.
Match #1: AJ Styles/Low-Ki/Jerry Lynn Vs. The Flying Elvises (Jorge Estrada/Sonny Siaki/Jimmy Yang)
The Flying Elvises attack right at the bell, but the good guys quickly fight back and the Elvises quickly retreat. Ki and Lynn hit high flying moves to the two outside of the ring while Styles catches Yang with a powerslam in the ring. Yang fights back and hits a leg lariat for a quick 2-count. Styles hits a flying forearm and tags into Lynn. Lynn reverses an Irish whip and hits a Tilt-a-Whirl backbreaker for a 2-count.
Lynn connects with a tornado DDT out of the corner but Yang no-sells it and hits a dropkick almost immediately after. Siaki tags in but misses a somersault legdrop. Lynn ducks a clothesline and hits a multiple revolution head scissors takeover. Lynn connects with a bulldog for a 2-count. Ki tags in next but Siaki hits a spinning neckbreaker and gets a 2-count. Siaki sends Ki into the corner but runs into a savate kick. Siaki ducks another kick and hits an over the shoulder backbreaker. Siaki goes for the pin. 2-count.
Estrada tags in and hits a split legged moonsault and goes for the pin. 2-count. Ki reverses an Irish whip but Estrada floats over and crotches him on the top turnbuckle. Estrada hits a neckbreaker from the corner and goes for the pin. 2-count. Ki slides under Estrada and dropkicks his knee. A series of hard kicks to the seated Estrada with the final one snapping off of his head. Styles and Yang get the tag for their respected teams. Styles hits a flying forearm and follows it up with the inverted DDT after flipping off the rope. Yang responds with another running leg lariat and he goes for the pin. Ki breaks up the count. Everyone starts hitting everyone and finally Yang connects with a moonsault on Styles for the 1…2…3!
Winners [via Pinfall]: The Flying Elvises (6:27)
- It’s obvious TNA wanted to show how different their in-ring action was compared to WWE at the time so they went all out in the opening six man tag team match. It was fast paced and chaotic, and the ending sequence where everyone was falling like dominoes was hard as hell to follow. A total spotfest but one that set the tone for the “X-Division”. Bonus unintentional comedy points to West who didn’t know a damn thing about wrestling and kept questioning its logic when DQ’s weren’t being called. Perfect example of learning on the job. (B-)
After an awesome Elvis dance by Yang to celebrate the win, we cut to the TNA Cage Dancers as Tenay recaps the match we just saw. We accidentally hear Ferrara ask if he was supposed to head to the ring now, but he’s shut down and Borash goes right into the ring introductions for the second match of the evening. It’s the midget match and the Alabama crowd is all about it. Hollywood is already in the ring and his opponent Tio follows right after to the same music.
- Thoughts: TNA could’ve edited out Ferrara’s gaffe but they chose to keep it in. I have to hand it to the company: they are willing to put themselves out there, warts and all. Same can’t be said for others.
Match #2: Tio Vs. Hollywood
Hollywood attacks Tio at the bell but Tio fights back. He tries a head scissor but they go crashing down before he can finish. Tio chops down Hollywood in the corner then hits a diving headbutt right into the family jewels. Tio takes the corner mount and hits a series of rights. Hollywood falls to the mat. Hollywood gets the advantage with the Michinoku Driver and gets a 2-count. Tio rolls him up for a 2-count but Hollywood hits him with a lariat. Hollywood goes to the top rope and hits a splash for the 1…2…kick out!
Hollywood continues the attack but Tio starts fighting back. Tio connects with a Russian legsweep and heads to the top. An awkward twisting Senton follows and Tio covers Hollywood for the 1…2…3!
Winner [via Pinfall]: Tio (2:49)
- Outside of lucha libre, midget matches normally make me uncomfortable just because of just how exploitative they are; it’s presented as a joke and is treated as such by the fans and the commentators. It sucks too because you can tell Tio and Hollywood were going all out trying to impress people. The match wasn’t all that stellar but Tio had some good moves and I know he and Puppet are damn good being that I’m one of a handful of World Wrestling All-Stars fans in the entire universe. (C)
We go right back to the TNA Cage Dancers as Tenay hypes the website. He then sends it to the ring where Ferrara and West are standing. Ferrara talks about next week’s “Lingerie Battle Royal” and tells the Alabama crowd they are going to get a special preview of the match right now.
- Thoughts: Next time someone tells you how awesome wrestling was back during this time, slap them really hard in the face.
West and Ferrara handle the introductions for the women. They are as follows: Francine, Miss Jody, Shannon (WCW’s Daffney), Alexis Laree (now known as Mickie James), Sasha (I think?), Baltimore Ravens cheerleader Erin, Elektra (of ECW fame), Taylor Vaughn, and Teresa Tyler. They all pile into the ring and West says they will be a part of the “biggest catfight in television history” next week and the winner will be named Miss TNA. Francine grabs a mic and says none of the women deserve to be in the ring with her. Francine says she’s the Queen of Extreme. Elektra says this is a new company and essentially blames Francine for bankrupting ECW. Francine jumps her and a rolling catfight ensues while the other women watch. Francine tears Elektra’s top and West covers her with his jacket. Francine says he’s going to do the same to every woman in the match next week and will be crowned Miss TNA.
- Thoughts: What…the…f*ck. 10 years ago I’m sure I would’ve been super excited about this but now I’m completely uninterested and frankly annoyed that I had to sit through this. I’m really f*cking glad these bullsh*t women’s “matches” don’t exist anymore. I’m already dreading the next show. This “preview” was enough to make me want to drink gasoline.
And if that wasn’t enough we’re right back to the cage dancers. Tenay pitches it to Goldilocks backstage who’s with manager Mortimer Plumtree. Plumtree hypes up his tag team. Apparently they used to torment him when they were kids but now he “owns” them and can make them do whatever he wants. Plumtree then names his tag team: The Johnsons. Oh sh*t, here we go.
- Thoughts: I actually really like Plumtree and am kind of sad he’s been forgotten nowadays. He was a good Cornette-style heel manager. But considering the team he managed on the very first show he was pretty much doomed to fail.
Mortimer Plumtree comes out with The Johnsons, who are dressed head to toe in flesh-covered tights and mask. This really happened. Their opponents tonight are the team of Psicosis and…“The Cowboy” James Storm. Now that’s an odd couple for you. Storm is full on Cowboy here, even shooting off cap guns.
Match #3: James Storm/Psicosis Vs. The Johnsons (w/ Mortimer Plumtree)
Psicosis and Johnson start off. Johnson overpowers him and splashes him in the corner. Johnson hip-tosses Psicosis to the mat and goes for the pinfall. 2-count. Snap suplex by Johnson for another 2-count. Psicosis ducks a couple of clotheslines and hits a spinning heel kick. Other Johnson comes in and Psicosis hits him with an enziguri. Storm tags in and hits a Missile Dropkick. Both Johnsons roll out to regroup with Plumtree. Alicia (WWF’s Ryan Shamrock) shows up in the aisle to watch the match.
Storm and Johnson fight in the ring and Storm gets his arm wrung by Johnson. Johnson throws him out but Storm skins the cat and takes it to whatever Johnson is in the ring. Psicosis tags in and dropkicks Johnson. Both Johnsons come in and drop Psicosis face-first onto the mat. Johnson hits an overhead suplex and Other Johnson tags in. Double clothesline by The Johnsons. Other Johnson goes for a power bomb but Psicosis reverses it into an X-Factor.
Storm gets the hot tag and attacks both Johnsons. Hurricanrana by Storm to one and a superkick to the other. But The Johnsons recover and they deliver release suplexes to both Storm and Psicosis. Storm rolls up Johnson for a 1-count. Storm goes for a tornado DDT but Johnson tosses him off. Plumtree distracts the Cowboy, which allows whatever Johnson is in the ring to hit an F-5 looking move for the 1…2…3!
Winners [via Pinfall]: The Johnsons (4:52)
- The Johnsons were a terrible idea and they deserved to be ridiculed (the gimmick, not the ones who portrayed them). But Plumtree did do his best in explaining it by saying he was forcing his old bullies to dress like this for his own amusement. Either way it’s a dumb gimmick that led to horrible Ferrara jokes and the match itself was not much to write home about. (C)
The ref, Slick Johnson, goes to head to the back but Alicia stops him. Slick gives her money and leaves, and Alicia follows.
Goldilocks is stopped backstage by The Dupps (Bo Dupp/Stan Dupp). They act all gross and hillbilly-like and follow Goldilocks to the dressing room where their (as in both of them) cousin/girlfriend Fluff Dupp is hanging out. They start drinking beer but Bill Behrens shows up to admonish them. Stan Dupp jokingly says “who’s ever heard of someone getting drunk on beer?” to Bo and Goldilocks excuses herself from the situation.
- Thoughts: Yes it’s a horrifyingly insulting stereotype but I like The Dupps and I like the balls on TNA for throwing in an incest storyline. They made me laugh which is the first time any of the “comedy” on this show has done so. That’s a win. Also fun fact: Stan Dupp is portrayed by former WWE star Trevor Murdoch.
Back in the ring, Jeremy Borash announces two NASCAR guests: Hermie Sadler and Sterling Marlin. This being Alabama, the crowd goes nuts. The two make their way to the ring, slapping hands with the fans as they go. Borash interviews Marlin about his upcoming race this Sunday and his position as NASCAR Series points leader. They are interrupted by K-Krush (current WWE star R-Truth and the future Ron “The Truth” Killings) who walks to the ring saying that Sadler and Marlin aren’t athletes and don’t deserve to be in the ring. K-Krush says that “his” kind are athletes while Marlin’s “kind” just drive cars. Sadler tells K-Krush to shut up and makes fun of the way he’s dressed (jeans, tank top, vest, your basic “Ethnic Stereotype #5: Black Man From the Streets” wear). K-Krush damns them and damns Alabama and says he’s going to introduce them to professional wrestling.
K-Krush gets in Sadler’s face and out comes Brian Christopher to make the save. He connects with the Superkick to drop him and then he’s thrown out of the ring by Sadler and Marlin. Christopher grabs a mic and calls K-Krush a “mofo” before challenging him to a match next week with Sadler/Martin in Christopher’s corner. K-Krush accepts as he’s being tragged away by the all-white TNA Security.
- Thoughts: Well that was good ol’ fashioned Southern racism. WCW didn’t have sh*t on TNA when it came to embracing the culture below the Mason Dixon line. Also unintentional comedy alert: Sadler mocked K-Krush for dressing the way he does but being fine with Christopher who’s dressed even more ridiculously. Nice. Dumb segment, and an awkward one at times, but that’s TNA in 2002 for you.
Backstage Jeff Jarrett has Jackie Fargo by the throat and is yelling at him before officials break them up.
We go back to the ring as Borash handles the introductions for the next match, a tag team encounter. The first team is Christian York/Joey Matthews and their opponents tonight are The Dupps!
Match #4: The Dupps (Bo Dupp/Stan Dupp) [w/ Fluff Dupp] Vs. Christian York/Joey Matthews
The Dupps go right on the attack at the bell. Double faceslam by the duo to Matthews. Matthews ducks a clothesline and York springboards off the top rope and lands a double dropkick. Double suplex to Stan Dupp and Matthews goes for the pin. 2-count. Stan catches Matthews and hits a Bubba Bomb. Bo tags in and slaps Matthews in the face twice before landing a right hand. Matthews fights back but runs into a big boot. Standing splash by Bo. Stan tags back in but Matthews hits a Virginia Necktie (reverse neckbreaker).
Bo and York both tag in, and York gets the advantage. York beats on Bo in the corner and hits a back elbow to Stan. Fireman’s carry to Bo followed by a standing Senton. Stan breaks the count. Matthews body blocks Stan and they both go to the outside. York hits Bo with a tornado DDT and goes to the top but Fluff jumps to the apron and crotches him. Bo covers York for the 1…2…3!
Winners [via Pinfall]: The Dupps (3:41)
- An alright match but I didn’t sense The Dupps were even a heel team until Fluff helped them win by nefarious means. Some good springboard action by York and good power stuff from Bo Dupp. Definitely the better tag team match of the night, by a mile. (C+)
After a Toby Keith music video plays, we go live to Keith on the entrance stage to perform “Angry American” acoustically. For those of you who have never heard the song, it’s the sort of generic ‘merica song that sounds more like a parody of country music than an actual song but the crowd is all about this. Before he can finish out comes Jeff Jarrett to begin the “Gauntlet for the Gold” main event. He angrily brushes by Keith, who wants to retaliate but referees hold him back. Jarrett gets into the ring and runs down Keith and tells him to haul his ass out of her because he has a World Title to win. The crowd is ready to eat Jarrett alive. I wonder if this goes somewhere later…
Match #5: The Gauntlet for the Gold
Jarrett starts the match off with Buff Bagwell. Bagwell takes it to Jarrett early and connects with a neckbreaker. Jarrett reverses an Irish whip but gets a clothesline for his troubles. Bagwell tries to eliminate Jarrett but Jarrett slithers back in. Bagwell sends Jarrett head-first into the turnbuckle and later connects with the Buff Blockbuster. Bagwell goes to clothesline Jarrett over the top but Jarrett backdrops him out. Buff Bagwell is eliminated.
Lash Leroux makes his way out next as the third entrant. Jarrett immediately attacks him as he rolls in. They go through the second rope and Jarrett drops Leroux on the guard rail. They roll back in and Jarrett hits the Stroke. Jarrett then tosses Leroux out. Lash Leroux is eliminated.
Norman Smiley is the next participant and out he comes. Smiley does the Wiggle and Jarrett clotheslines him. Smiley fights back and hits a nice bodyslam and Jarrett lays on the second rope. Smiley goes for the Big Wiggle but Jarrett low blows him and hits The Stroke. Jarrett then tosses him out. Norman Smiley is eliminated.
Apolo is the next man to try his luck against Jarrett. Jarrett immediately attacks once again but Apolo hits a seated power bomb followed by a couple of running right hands (should’ve been clotheslines). Jarrett tries a hip toss but Apolo reverses it into a neckbreaker. Apolo goes for the elimination but Jarrett avoids it and rolls back in. Apolo continues putting the boots to Jarrett as the next participant makes his way out. It’s K-Krush. Krush and Apolo go at it, and Krush hits the axe kick then yells at the crowd. Krush keeps it up as Jarrett takes a breather.
Apolo fights back but Jarrett attacks him from behind. Corner mount by Jarrett into a series of rights. Krush then does the ten punches of doom immediately after. Krush and Jarrett try to eliminate Apolo as the next entrant makes his way out. It’s Slash (no, not that one) with manager James Mitchell. Slash tries to beat down Apolo but Apolo DDT’s him. West is very impressed. Apolo goes for a press slam but Jarrett kicks him. Repeated elbow drops by Slash follow.
The next entrant comes out. It’s a man known as Del Rios who is made up to look like a carbon copy of Scott Steiner (Superman “S” on the trunks and everything). Del Rios goes for a belly to belly but Slash bites him on the head to stop it. Slash beats on Del Rios in the corner as Jarrett tries to eliminate Apolo in another corner. Belly to belly by Del Rios on Slash.
The next entrant makes his way out to the ring, a man known as Justice (the future Abyss). Justice hits a big boot on Apolo, Jarrett, and Del Rios. Justice then hits the Black Hole Slam on Del Rios. Konnan makes his way out next to the Gauntlet and the crowd goes wild. Konnan goes right to Jarrett and hits his rolling clothesline. Konnan then beats on Justice and plays to the crowd. Slash attacks Konnan from behind to stop his momentum.
Jarrett attempts to eliminate Apolo as the countdown commences. The next entrant into the Gauntlet is…Joel Gertner? He does a dirty poem then introduces the actual next entrant: Bruce (Alan Funk, maybe?). He’s accompanied by Lenny Lane. Bruce is immediately flattened by an Apolo clothesline. It’s already time for the next entrant and it’s Rick Steiner! Steiner makes his way out and the crowd commences barking. Steinerline to a whole bunch of guys right away. Steiner suplexes Slash over the top rope and onto the floor. Slash is eliminated. Steiner then eliminates Justice easily. Justice is eliminated.
New entrant time! Out comes Malice (best known as WCW star The Wall), also managed by James Mitchell. Chokeslam to Konnan. Chokeslam to K-Krush. Malice tosses Bruce, Krush, Del Rios, Konnan, and Steiner out of the ring. Bruce, K-Krush, Del Rios, Konnan, and Rick Steiner are eliminated. Nice.
Scott Hall makes his way out next to enter the Gauntlet. Hall lays into Jarrett as Apolo lays into Malice. Apolo connects with a superkick to Malice. Hall hits Jarrett with the Outsider’s Edge. Toby Keith makes his way out to interfere and hits a suplex on Jarrett as the crowd roars. Hall and Keith toss Jarrett out of the ring. Jeff Jarrett is eliminated.
Hall and Apolo take turns chopping Malice and then they shake hands. The next entrant makes his way out. It’s Chris Harris. Harris goes right at Apolo and hits a Thesz press. All of a sudden, Vampire Warrior also makes his way out. I guess he’s also in this match. Warrior lays into Apolo and attempts to eliminate him. Hall and Malice go at each other, and Warrior and Harris fight one another. The next entrant makes his way out: Devon Storm (former WCW star Crowbar). The battle royal turns into a giant chop fest for a couple of seconds. Hall takes a breather and watches the action as everyone beats on one another.
The next entrant in the Gauntlet is Steve Corino. He double clotheslines Warrior and Storm. Malice almost gets eliminated but Mitchell pushes him back in to avoid it from happening. Storm hits Hall with a superkick as the countdown finishes. The next entrant is Ken Shamrock. Shamrock lets loose on everyone who comes near him. Power slam to Harris by Shamrock. Malice beckons him to hit him. Shamrock goes for a kick but Malice catches him and throws him to the mat. The action continues in true battle royal form (chaotic and a bit generic at the same time).
The next and final entrant makes his way out and it’s…Brian Christopher. Sigh. He tosses out Harris and Warrior. Chris Harris and Vampire Warrior are eliminated. Christopher and Corino trade blows and Christopher clotheslines him out of the ring. Steve Corino is eliminated. Malice catches Christopher with a chokeslam. Shamrock then attacks him and throws him out. Brian Christopher is eliminated.
Apolo goes to eliminate Malice but gets back bodydropped to the floor. Apolo is eliminated. Hall goes for the Outsider Edge but gets backdropped out by Malice. Scott Hall is eliminated.
Winners: Ken Shamrock and Malice (30:55)
- Like with most battle royals I started losing my interest towards the end. But it was fun to see some old faces and although I don’t like Keith’s music I admit that even I was popping when he suplexed Jarrett. Got to respect a star like him for not treating wrestling like an embarrassing joke. But overall this gauntlet dragged and dragged and dragged and…(C)
Main Event: Ken Shamrock Vs. Malice for the vacant NWA World Heavyweight Title [Special Referee: Ricky Steamboat]
Malice uses his size and power to get the early advantage and hits a side slam. He goes for the pin. 2-count. Malice connects with a suplex and goes for another pin. 2-count. Malice drives Shamrock face-first into the turnbuckle. Shamrock goes for a sunset flip but gets a right to the face for his troubles. Shamrock tries to fight back but Malice rakes the eyes. He grabs him for the chokeslam but Shamrock locks him into a Cross Armbreaker. Mitchell pushes the rope in and Malice grabs it to force the rope break.
Malice quickly gets back up and connects with a headbutt. Shamrock ducks a clothesline and catches the big boot. Shamrock turns it into the Ankle Lock. Malice crawls towards the ropes and grabs them to force the break. However Shamrock pulls him away and keeps the Ankle Lock applied. Malice hooks the ropes and Shamrock is finally forced to break. Shamrock gets into Steamboat’s face and they start arguing.
Shamrock continues working on the now-injured left leg of Malice. Shamrock chokes him on the top rope as they audibly call a spot. Shamrock gets a boot to the face during a splash attempt and Malice grabs him for the chokeslam. Shamrock counters into a belly to belly suplex for the 1…2…3!
Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Ken Shamrock (5:46)
- An okay 1 on 1 match I guess at the end but I’ve got to be honest: they picked the two most unexciting people to meet in the finals here. And Shamrock winning the belt? Just seems so…off. He was over with the Alabama crowd but even in 2002 I remember being shocked that he was the one given the chance to be on top. (C)
Pyro goes off as Shamrock holds the NWA World Heavyweight Title above his head. Steamboat raises his hand in victory and Bill Behrens enters the ring to shake his hand. We go to the announce table and Ferrara mistakenly calls Malice “The Wall”. Tenay goes into closing remarks, but we cut to backstage where Toby Keith and Jackie Fargo are being held back by security as Jeff Jarrett continues to jaw at him. Jarrett makes his way out with a mic. He once again calls the “Gauntlet for the Gold” a joke. He lays out Bob Armstrong and another legend. Out come Fargo and Keith. Fargo grabs the mic and announces that next week Jarrett will meet Scott Hall. Hall and Jarrett brawl in the aisle and are separated by security as the show comes to an end.
- Thoughts: So Shamrock wins the biggest prize in TNA and they end the show with this whole thing instead? It’s like they already knew they had picked the wrong guy to win the belt. Overall not a great way to end the first episode, and a Hall/Jarrett match isn’t a sufficient hook (but again I’m watching this ten years later). I have to imagine that this first show got savaged by the wrestling media ten years ago. I can’t imagine any positive notes other than “yay a new competitor!” coming out of anyone’s mouth. Total trainwreck stuff. We’ll see how they fare on “next week’s” show.
Overall Show Grade: C-
- Favorite Match: Styles/Lynn/Low-Ki Vs. The Flying Elvises
- Least Favorite Match: Tio Vs. Hollywood
- Favorite Moments: Toby Keith suplexes Jeff Jarrett, The Dupps’ backstage shenanigans, Puppet’s promo
- Least Favorite Moments: The Lingerie Battle Royal “Preview”, Ed Ferrara on commentary, The Johnsons existing, Sadler/Marlin getting just racist enough on K-Krush to make it weird, Brian Christopher talking, Ken Shamrock winning the NWA World Heavyweight Title, Del Rios being a HORRIFYING rip-off of Big Poppa Pump