Hello everyone and welcome back to another WNW Retro Review, it's been quite some time since the last review I did but we are near two decades of TNA/Impact Wrestling continuing on as a wrestling promotion, so in honor of that I'll be reviewing the very first show in TNA Wrestling history which took place in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville Alabama.
By the time you're reading this article it will be 19 years and 11 months since TNA officially aired its first show on June 19th 2002, now as many of you know the Monday Night Wars came to an end in the early months of 2001 when Vince McMahon bought the rights to World Championship Wrestling and later Extreme Championship Wrestling thereby being the only wrestling promotion in town.
On March 26th 2001, the final episode of WCW Nitro aired around the same time Monday Night Raw was simulcasting and among many of the iconic wrestling moments to occur on this date, the most infamous would have to be Vince McMahon firing Jeff Jarrett live on television after threatening to no show No Mercy 1999 unless he was paid the amount of money he was owed, plus Jarrett was jumping to WCW and he was the Intercontinental Champion at the time so McMahon begrudgingly agreed to Double J's demands.
Then on one faithful fishing trip between Jeff, his dad Jerry and friend, Bob Ryder they began the idea of running a wrestling promotion and with the help/creditability of the National Wrestling Alliance, Total Nonstop Action was born, and they ran over 100 Weekly PPV's including this one until they eventually made the move to Fox Sports 1 in 2004.
After the quick video package and pyro display, we are introduced to our commentary team for the night: Ed Ferrara, Don West and of course 'The Professor' Mike Tenay who runs down the rules for night's main event which is a gauntlet for the gold aka a royal rumble like match to crown the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion with the final two men having to beat the other via pinfall or submission to become the winner.
Fun fact the previous person to hold the NWA title before this event was none other than former WWF/MMA star Dan Severn, but for reasons he couldn't appear on the show to defend the title and if you'd like to learn about that, be sure to check out the link to the article right here:
Your ring announcer for the night is Jemery Borash who introduces a list of former NWA superstars like Harley Race, Jackie Fargo, Bill Behrens, Dory Funk Jr., Bullet Bob Armstrong, Sarah Lee and Corsica Joe and finally Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat who comes down to the ring with the NWA World Championship.
Steamboat gives a speech about the respect he and all of the legends in the ring have when it came to winning the NWA Championship and he also mentions that in the main event he'll be the special guest referee which gets a good reaction from Mike Tenay and the crowd.
Out comes the TNA Founder, Jeff Jarrett to spoil the festivities and informs the crowd that the main event was a joke, stupid and that it was "The biggest bunch of crap I've ever heard in my life." ....Ok not sure what Jarrett's problem is with the main event being a battle royal for the title but I'm sure his got his reasons.
Jackie Fargo takes the mic and tries to talk but Jarrett is still too busy talking, before Fargo tells Double J to kiss his ass and that he'll be the first entrant in the gauntlet for the gold.
Ken Shamrock the world's most dangerous man appears on the stage and tells Jarrett that he agrees with him about how the main event is going to suck and that he (Jarrett) isn't going to be whooping the ass of number 19 in this match which just so happens to be Shamrock.
Suddenly, the fans are exploding with applause as a familiar face emerges from the crowd in the form of the Bad Guy, Scott Hall (RIP); Hall has a microphone and utters the famous 'Hey-Yo' before also mentioning how the main event is going suck for some reason and that he'll be a part of the match as well...this was a strange segment and that's saying something compared to the really outlandish stuff will be seeing throughout the rest of the night but the idea that Shamrock and Hall who are suppose to be the babyfaces in this whole thing are agreeing with the heel (Jeff Jarrett) on how the main event to crown a new NWA World Champion is going to suck is really a weird decision.
Were introduced to backstage interviewer, Goldy Locks who interviews midget wrestler, Puppet the Psycho Dwarf (RIP) who's best known not just for his early appearances in TNA but for being a part of one of the Jackass movies with Johnny Knoxville and even having his own TV show on SPIKE TV called the 'Half Pint Brawlers'.
Puppet mentions how the show should start off with midgets fighting each other in the ring and goes on an intense rant about how his after "midget blood" before the interview is interrupted by a pissed off Jeff Jarrett walking all the way to the back.
We then transition back with a shot of one of the TNA cage dancers who were stable for the promotion during the early years of the company and helped to inspire the WWE when they decided to use a similar idea for RAW Underground back in 2020.
The opening contest is the very first X Division match in company history, it's a six man tag match as 'The Phenomenal' AJ Styles, Low Ki and Jerry Lynn take on the Flying Elvises that's Jorge Estada, Sonny Siaki and Jimmy Yang who went on to become 'The Asian Redneck' Jimmy Wang Yang in the WWE.
The Flying Elvises vs. Low Ki, Aj Styles & Jerry Lynn in a Six Man Tag Team Match
The action starts off with the Elvises sneak attacking their opponents but not for long as Lynn, Styles and Ki are able to reverse it before taking control of the match. Tenay mentions that next week's show will see the very first TNA X Division Champion being crowned as Styles, Lynn, Low Ki and Psicosis battle it out in a four way elimination match....spoiler alert it was AJ Styles who won.
A running knee by Yang only gets a two count, Styles manages to tag in Jerry Lynn who hits Yang with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a tornado DDT which Yang manages to no sell and hits and dropkick onto Jerry.
Siaki gets tagged in as Lynn responds with a hurricanrana and a wheel barrel turned into a bulldog before going for the cover but only gets two. Low Ki gets tags in and continues the assault however Siaki is able to regain control and tags in Estada who delivers a nice split leg moonsault for the cover but only gets a two count.
Back and forth the action goes as both teams make the tag with Styles hitting a clothesline that turns Yang inside out followed by a springing off the ropes inverted DDT. Low Ki sends Yang to the outside but soon gets hit with a spinebuster by Estada who himself then gets hit with a cradle piledriver by Lynn as the action once again begins to break down.
Some miscommunications between Low Ki and Style following a running kick in the corner which allows Jimmy Yang to head to the top to hit a moonsault for the three count...and the Flying Elvises win.
Star Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
This is easily the best match of the entire night and if anything helps to show just what fans could expect from the X Division, in fact the match was so good that it wouldn't have been out of place in today's era of wrestling...If you haven't seen this match do yourself a favor and watch it's that great.
Teo vs. Hollywood
Next up is the midget match in Jemery Borash's own words as The World's Most Extreme Athlete, Teo takes on Memphis midget wrestler, Hollywood...The referee prematurely rings the bell as Teo is still pandering to the crowd leading to Hollywood attacking him from behind before shooting Teo off into the ropes and hitting a rough looking tilt-a-whirl backbreaker that drops both men.
Teo sends Hollywood into the corner where he lifts up his opponent's shirt and starts battering him with knife edge chops to the chest and leaping really high in the air with the help of the ring ropes to deliver a diving headbutt into Hollywood's nuts.
Some corner punches by Teo before Hollywood turns things around with powerslam that only gets a two count; Hollywood begins arguing with the ref leading to Teo going for the cover but another two count as Hollywood drops the extreme midget with a clothesline before heading all the way up the top rope to hit a tadpole splash but only gets two.
Teo gets back into it with some stiff looking punches, a side midget leg sweep before going to the top rope for a twisting like maneuver onto Hollywood and just like that...Teo wins.
Star Rating: 2 stars out of 5
It was an ok match between the two midget wrestlers, not all of the action was a crisp as the previous contest, but it did what it was suppose to do which was showing off the wrestling abilities of the mini wrestlers.
Another shot of the TNA cage dancers before we head back to the ring with Ed Ferrara and Don West who mention that next week will be a lingerie battle royal and they decided to bring out the ladies that will taking part in this match.
The ladies who will taking part in the battle royal are:
- Daffney (RIP)
- Alexis Laree aka Mickie James
- Taylor Vaughn
- and more
Francine proceeds to call Don West 'puggy' which I guess he likes as we cut back to him giggling and smiling before the former ECW star chastises the other women in the ring.
Elektra then takes the mic and starts questioning who made Francine the 'Queen of Extreme' before making claims that Francine was responsible for ECW going out of business which leads to a big ole catfight emerging in the ring with Elektra getting his shirt ripped off.
Don West then covers up Elektra with Ferrara's jacket as Francine says that she'll do that to all of the other ladies in the lingerie battle royal next week...the winner of that match by the way was Taylor Vaughn.
We then head backstage as Goldy Locks interviews a guy holding a giant wooden paddle by the name of Mortier Plumtree, who looks like the stereotypically headmaster of a prep school.
Mortimer mentions how he was tormented growing up but has somehow turned the two men who bullied him as a child into his own personal servants/ tag team and he tells them what to do, when to speak and what to wear plus their names are Rod and Richard aka The Johnsons who are two bulky looking wrestlers dressed up in outfits that make them look like well...Johnsons.
The Johnsons vs. James Storm and Psicosis
We now go back to the ring for some tag team action as the Johnsons accompanied by Mortimer Plumtree take on the makeshift tag team of Psicosis and 'The Tennessee Cowboy' James Storm taking part in his first of many matches as part of TNA Wrestling.
One of the Johnson's hit a few suplexes onto Psicosis for a few quick covers but only gets a two count, meanwhile Storm is banging on one of the turnbuckle pads in order to fire up the crowd; Psicosis quickly gains control before tagging in Storm who hits a missile dropkick onto one of the Johnson's.
The cameras quickly turn their attention to a random blond woman named Alicia (who apparently was the valet for the Maestro in WCW according to Mike Tenay), and she's just standing outside of the ring with her hands on her hips but she does distract the Johnsons for a little bit before the action resumes.
Storm is quickly sent out of the ring but not entirely as his able to pull himself back in and gets the momentum back on his side. Referee Slick Johnson (no relation to the Johnsons) is constantly looking back at Alicia for whatever reason as constant jokes and sexual innuendos about the Johnson's are running wild on commentary mainly from Ed Ferrara and there about as funny as you can imagine...in that there not.
The Johnsons begin double teaming on Storm until the cowboy is able to recover but it doesn't last for too long as Plumtree pulls Storm leg where referee doesn't see it allowing one of the Johnson's to hit a finishing move to pick the win.
After the match, referee Slick Johnson is on the outside when his being pulled back by Alicia which leads to the ref handing over some money to her as she sticks into underneath her shirt while looking pretty pleased with herself.
Star Rating: 1 star out 5
The action was decent and that's really the only positive thing you can say about this tag match as the combination of Johnson jokes from Ferrara, the subplot if you want to call it that of the referee and Alicia going on and an uninterested crowd makes this one of the least amusing matches on this whole card.
By the way don't expect any type of resolution when it comes to the Alicia/Slick Johnson stuff as she was never seen again on TNA programming after this and the 'storyline' was dropped. The Johnsons would have one more match before they turned on Plumtree and disappeared from the company as well leaving Mortimer to manage other wrestlers including AJ Styles if you can believe it.
And of course we now what happens to James Storm after this match, he goes on to win the tag titles multiple times, wins the TNA World title and the rest is history.
Goldy locks is seen interacting with a bunch of nose picking rednecks with the blonde haired one actually being (future NWA Superstar Trevor Murdoch); Goldy meets a farm girl inside the locker room and it's revealed that the nose pickers and the girl in the locker room are The Dupps who are family members but also in a relationship... yup, a group of incestuous, nose picking, pro wrestling hillbillies ...Just...why?
Back in the ring as Borash introduces the then NASCAR Winston Cup Points Leader, Sterling Marlin; Marlin is accompanied by Hermie Sadler who was the 1993 Bush Series Rookie of the Year, a member of the famous Sadler racing family and it you can believe it would go on to his own internet exclusive interview show on the Impact YouTube channel.
Both men are given a respectable applause from the crowd which makes sense as the South are usually big race car fans and Borash asks some questions to Marlin regarding his current success in the Winston Cup.
Thankfully, the segment is interrupted by Ron 'The Truth' Killings aka R-Truth who will go on to have quite a lengthy run in the promotion even becoming the first African American to be recognized as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion on two different occasions.
Killings or K-Krush as his called here, mentions how his sick of people talking about race car driving and that this is pro wrestling where athletes are suppose to compete, but he gets cut off by Sadler which leads to some physicality until it's broken up by Brian Lawler aka Grand Master Sexay (RIP) who attacks Killings before the future R-Truth gets thrown out of the ring by Sadler and Sterling which gets a huge pop from the crowd.
The segment ends with Lawler challenging Killings to a match next week with Sadler and Sterling at ringside...which Lawler would win by the way.
Backstage, Jarrett is seen choking Jackie Fargo near a fence wall until security comes in to break it up and then we go in the next match which sees Christian York and Joey Matthews (aka Joey Mercury) taking on Stan and Bo Dupp aka The Dupps with their farm girl cousin/love interest, Fluff Dupp at ringside.
Christian York and Joey Matthews vs. The Dupps
The Dupps sneak attack York and Matthews before hitting a double team flapjack but York is soon able to turn things around by hitting a springboard dropkick that takes down Bo and Stan.
York and Matthews hit a double team suplex on Bo which leads to the cover but Dupp kicks out on two; Stan Dupp hits a Full Nelson Slam onto Matthews before tagging in Bo who is just a house of fire in this match as well as Christian York who soon gets tagged in and starts putting the offense on both of The Dupps.
York goes for the cover, but it's broken up by Stan who then gets sent out of the ring by Matthews with both men down onto the concreate floor. York hits a tornedo DDT on Bo Dupp and heads to the top to hit something but gets crouched up on the top rope thanks to the interference of Fluff Dupp.
Bo Dupp then runs over for the cover, pins and gets the three count for the win before once again picking his nose and then giving a big ole smile and a thumbs up to the camera.
Star Rating: 1.5 star out 5
This tag match was a little bit better than the ones with the Johnsons and everyone was able to get as much action as possible in the amount of time they were given, however it the match itself never really got out of first gear which is why it's only getting one and a half stars instead of two....and The Dupps are certainly a unusually gimmick that would not fly in today's era of wrestling.
Now it's time for a musical segment involving legendary Country Star and CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, Toby Keith who sings the song 'The Angry American' while playing on his guitar on the entrance ramp and if you know anything about your history regarding TNA/Impact Wrestling you know what happens next.
Just a few minutes into the song, Jeff Jarrett shoves Toby Keith and his microphone to the side, providing one of the most iconic moments in the early days of the company's history.
Keith is looking pretty annoyed and wants a piece of Jarrett but his restrained by security who escorts him to the back and now it's time for the main event!!!
The Gauntlet for The Gold
Jeff Jarrett's already in the ring waiting for the second entrant which is revealed to be former WCW superstar, Buff Bagwell making his first and only appearance inside a TNA Wrestling ring. Bagwell starts unloading a lot of offense onto Jarrett and even hits his blockbuster finisher, but not too long afterwards Jarrett is able to send Bagwell out of the ring and now his eliminated less than 65 seconds into the match.
Up next is Lash LeRoux who was Lieutenant Loco in the Misfits in Action stable in WCW and he gets...beaten up by Jarrett both in and outside of the ring before Jarrett hits The Stroke onto LeRoux and sends him over the top, making that two eliminations for Double J.
By the way I should mention that some of the entrants in this match come out way too early with some of them coming down to the ring before the countdown clock reaches zero. Anyway Number four is 'Screamin' Norman Smiley, who actually gets a few punches in on Jarrett and even does his signature dance move 'The Big Wiggle', but a quick kick into the nuts, the stroke by Double J and Smiley is gone...Jarrett is basically the iron man in this contest.
The countdown clock finally reaches zero as the number five is Apollo, who goes on to join the early iteration of what would be the Latin American Xchange aka LAX. Apollo has much of the control over Jarrett and up next is number six...K-Krush aka Ron 'The Truth' Killings.
At number seven it's Slash who's accompanied by Father James Mitchell; Apollo starts to regain the upper hand in this match until all of the heels decide to jump on him and at number eight it's Del Rios who I swear looks like Scott Steiner all the way from the blond hair, the muscles and the outfit his wearing...I guess Big Poppa Pump couldn't be bothered to take part in this match.
At number nine it's Prince Justice who may look a little familiar as it's fresh faced, Chris Parks aka Abyss, he wouldn't become 'The Monster' until his return to company a little over a year later.
Former WCW and AAA superstar, Konnan is the next person in this match as the ring is starting to get filled up with more and more bodies and no one else has been eliminated just yet. Out comes former ECW star, Joel Gertner who delivers a raunchy promo before introducing the eleventh entrant in this match...Bruce or Brucie of the Rainbow Express who is basically playing an overtly homosexual gimmick and to say that there was no subtle for this character is an understatement.
Number 12 is 'The Dog Faced Gremlin' Rick Steiner who gets a great reaction from the crowd and he wasted no time as we get are first elimination in quite some time as Steiner eliminates Slash with a suplex and then eliminates Justice with a massive clothesline. Number 13 is Malice (aka The Wall in WCW) who is also accompanied by Father James Mitchell and Malice is on a spree in the first few minutes in the ring as his chokeslamming almost everyone in sight before eliminating Bruce, K-Krush, Del Rios, Konnan and then Rick Steiner in quick fashion.
At Number 14 it's the bad guy, Scott Hall who starts raining down punches onto Jarrett and Malice before hitting the Razor's Edge onto Double J. Toby Keith starts walking down towards the ring, however his not a competitor in this match instead his looking to get some revenge on Jarrett and here comes iconic moment #2
Toby Keith picks up Double J in an almost delayed suplex and slams him to the ground leading to Keith and Scott Hall throwing Jarrett out of the ring and now his finally eliminated.
Number 15 is 'The Wildcat' Chris Harris and mere seconds after he comes in up next is number 16, The Vampire Warrior aka Gangrel not sure why he came out as soon as he did but whatever.
At number 17 it's Devon Storm also known as Crowbar in WCW as a series of knife edge chops ring throughout the arena, meanwhile the cameras pick up Scott Hall just relaxing in the corner and decides to take a little break on the top turnbuckle. Number 18 is 'The King of Old School', Steve Corino who begins pummeling most of the competitors in this match.
James Mitchell saves Malice from being eliminated near the corner and after that out comes number 19 'The World's Most Dangerous Man', Ken Shamrock who delivers a series of kicks and punches that just drops the likes of Corino, Devon Storm and Vampire Warrior before hitting a snap powerslam onto Chris Harris and then staring down Malice who then just slams Shamrock down to the matt.
And finally, number 20 it's Brian Christopher and his on a roll upon entering the ring as he eliminates Chris Harris, Devon Storm, Vampire Warrior and Steve Corino before getting squashed by a big chokeslam courtesy of Malice; Ken Shamrock then throws Christopher out of the ring as were down to the final four: Apollo, Scott Hall, Shamrock and Malice.
Malice is able to lift Apollo over his shoulders near the ropes leading to an elimination followed by an attempt at the Razor's edge which leads to Scott Hall getting eliminated and now we come to the final two in Malice and Ken Shamrock with the only way to win this part of the match is by pinfall or submission.
Malice vs. Ken Shamrock for the Vacant NWA World Championship
Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat heads to the ring wearing a referee shirt as the match starts with Malice dropping Shamrock with a big boot.
A sidewalk slam and suplex leads to the cover but Shamrock is able to kick out, Malice is looking to hit the chokeslam, but Ken reverses it into an armbar which takes quite a while for Malice to get to the ropes to break it up. Another big boot by Malice but again Shamrock catches him and applies the ankle lock which again takes Malice a while to get to the ropes
And it's here we have a really awkward moment in which Malice's hand in on the ropes and the referee is counting for Shamrock to let go but for whatever reason Shamrock isn't letting go and it's only by the time Steamboat reaches the count of seven when the former WCW superstar has to shove Shamrock to let go of the hold which leads to a little heated conversation between Ken and the Dragon.
Some kicks to the injured ankle by Shamrock but he gets caught by Malice in a chokehold, but it's quickly broken up with a belly-to-belly suplex by the world's most dangerous man leading to the 1..2..3
And just like that, Ken Shamrock is the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion and the first ever World Champion to be crowned in TNA Wrestling history.
In terms of the Gauntlet for the Gold, Star Rating: 4 stars out of 5, But for the Shamrock/Malice match, Star Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Initially I was going to give the gauntlet match 3. 5 stars out of 5 but I'm giving it an extra half star for the iconic interactions between Jeff Jarrett and Toby Keith before and during the match; I thought the match was solid and really fast paced main event.
On the other hand, I'm giving the Shamrock vs. Malice match only 2 stars because the action was pretty clucky plus there were times it looked like Malice was tapping but I guess it didn't count and of course that really awkward moment with the ankle lock and Steamboat having to get Shamrock off of Malice after he passed the five count.
That being said, the moment of Shamrock winning the NWA Championship is a tremendous moment in not only the career of Ken Shamrock but the history of TNA Wrestling as someone of Shamrock's pedigree being your world champion is a big deal which why I gave the Shamrock/Malice match an extra star.
Backstage Jeff Jarrett is exchanging some heated words with Jackie Fargo and Toby Keith before heading back to the ringside area where his basically repeating the same stuff he said earlier in the show, and this leads to Jarrett getting physical with some the NWA legends.
Jackie Fargo makes the announcement that next week in the main event will be Scott Hall vs. Jeff Jarrett and this leads to the bad guy coming back to the ring to fight Double J while security attempts to restrain them as we fade to black.
- Styles, Low-Ki and Lynn vs. The Flying Elvises
- The Gauntlet for the Gold
- Jarrett Shoving Toby Keith
- Toby Keith Suplexing Double J
- Shamrock Winning the NWA World Title
- Jarrett, Hall and Shamrock saying the main event is going to suck
- The Johnsons vs. Storm and Psicosis & The Dick Jokes
- Ed Ferrara's commentary in general
- The Dupps
- Shamrock vs. Malice & Shamrock refusing to let go of the Ankle Lock
Overall, not the best show to start off a wrestling promotion to but it could've been worse, and I did enjoy certain parts of it, plus the company has been around for 20 years...so they must done something right
If you like to read more articles I've written on TNA's Asylum Era (that aren't too long) check the links below:
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