We’re apparently jump starting things tonight with the X Division.
NWA X-Division Championship
AJ Styles (c) vs. “Primetime” Elix Skipper
Skipper is out first, followed by AJ Styles accompanied by his tag team championship partner Jerry Lynn. Styles poses with the belt and gets jumped at the bell by Skipper as Lynn sits down as the announce table. This of course means attention goes from the current match to last week’s match for the tag titles. No mention is made of Elix’s set up on Monty Brown though.
Styles almost necks himself off a moonsault dropkick in the corner. Skipper gets control after a german suplex, and goes to work on Styles keeping his offence grounded. Skipper hits a weird headstand into a leg drop off the turnbuckle getting a two as commentary turns its attention to the betrayal by Skipper.
Skipper starts working on the neck of AJ Styles delivering a series of stiff elbows to a grounded Styles and then drives Styles jaw into the apron. Skipper follows with a nasty looking axe kick. Skipper gets a double underhook going for the submission. Blocks a hurracarana by Styles and drills him neck first into the mat but only gets a two.
Styles reverses an attempt at a Northern Lights into a submission but Skipper breaks out of it. Styles heads to the top aiming for a leg drop but Skipper gets out of the way and AJ crashes and burns. Skipper whips AJ to the ropes, there’s some miscommunication as he gets whipped again to the other side but Styles blocks the attempt with body scissors sending both men to the outside.
Nice sequence on the outside ending in a slingshot press to the outside by Skipper. Skipper takes his time getting back into the ring. He goes for the play of the day but AJ lifts him up and into a Styles Clash, he can’t get the arms hooked and Skipper reverses and rolls over into a sunset flip for two.
Skipper jumps to the top rope, Styles misses with a dropkick and Skipper still sells and bonks awkwardly head first to the mat. AJ goes to the top rope and hits the spiral tap for the three.
Great match shame about the slip up at the end, but the finish should have come from the Play of the Day reversal as that was the big high spot. Lynn and Styles high five and head to the back.
We go to the announce table, Don West is rocking a red silk shirt tonight. Tenay runs down Ricky Steamboat being here tonight. Apparently twenty hours removed from last week’s show Steamboat called a meeting between Malice and Ken Shamrock (among others), and the ruling was made the belt was back around the waist of Ken Shamrock. Ed Ferrara claims Jeff Jarrett did not attend the call of Ricky Steamboat and as a result Steamboat lifted the sixty day suspension of Jarrett in order for us to have Scott Hall vs. Jeff Jarrett tonight.
Monty Brown’s music hits and he confronts Skipper on the ramp. Brown beats Skipper around the ring but Skipper gets some boots in when the action heads into the ring before Brown delivers a military press into a fallaway slam. Brown thinks about leaving but then delivers some more boots and the Alpha Bomb.
We go to the announce table for a few moments before Jeff Jarrett’s music hits and he’s carrying a burlap sack that starts moving as he throws it in the ring. Jarrett claims that Shamrock isn’t here and so he’s hear to entertain the fans. Bill Berehns told him that he would have to start from the bottom and work his way to the top to get a title shot. By the way Skipper is still in the ring at this point selling in the corner.
Jarrett picks up the sack and undoes it to reveal: a midget! Jarrett claims he’s going to cripple a midget on pay per view and lives up to his word piledrivering Todd Stone and then delivering a stoke. Jarrett shouts “I just had a mini stroke” then demands some old women or animals from the back. Music hits and Puppet the Psycho Dwarf comes out.
Puppet gets into the ring apparently hot that Jarrett has stolen his shtick as the “Midget Killer” and Jarrett proclaims himself the “Dwarf Destroyer”. Puppet says “OK Slap nuts,” to a small pop “but we’re going to even up the sides” and pulls out a hand gun. Jarrett immediately backs down and the commentary team go crazy calling for security. Security shows up and Puppet tells them to back away, Jarrett grabs a chair and hits Puppet then Skipper. Jarrett starts laying into the dwarf before the softly spoken Ricky Steamboat is barely heard.
He’s on the ramp with Don Harris and Bullet Bob Armstrong. Steamboat runs down the list of people Jarrett has taken out over the last few weeks and suggests that they can either do things the easy way or the hard way. Jarrett suggests Steamboat sends the other two to the back and they do things the old fashioned way “man to man” demanding a match between Steamboat and Jarrett. Steamboat starts taking his jacket off and sends the other two to the back. The two pose down as Jarrett backs into the corner unaware Scott Hall is behind him. Scott delivers a couple of right hands and clotheslines Jarrett out of the ring as Hall pulls a stretcher out from under the ring.
Hall cuts a promo about how the last couple of weeks he’s been carried out of the ring on a stretcher and tonight Jarrett’s going out on one. Security drags Jeff to the back as we head to an interview segment with Sonny Siaki.
Siaki is scheduled to face Slash from the New Church but his partners Jorge Estrada and Jimmy Yang aren’t with him. Sonny goes into his third person shtick but cuts his promo to Goldie and not the camera. It’s not great he claims one Elvis is better than three.
Slash vs. Sonny Siaki
Slash is out with Father James Mitchell carrying some sort of box. Siaki is out on his own. Slash starts things off driving Siaki into the corner and beating him down. James Mitchell joins the commentary desk, Tenay first has to ask Mitchell about the box; he claims it’s the Ark of the New Church containing the blood of the Auodad (that’s a sheep with horns). There’s a great joke here where Tenay asks what that is an Mitchell challenges him “you’re the Professor you work it out” and Ferrara follows up with “did he wrestle for NOAH or All Japan otherwise Tenay isn’t going to have any idea.”
Siaki takes charge with a hurricanrana to the outside. Slash gets whipped into the guard rail and then back body dropped to the mats on the outside by Siaki. Slash regains control and does a weird X pose before hooking Siaki up for a whirlybird he calls the “Slash and Burn”. It’s very weird as Slash is clearly a heel and Siaki is part of the heel faction so the crowd is practically silent.
Slash hooks in a variation of a cobra clutch as Mitchell leaves the announce table to stalk around at ringside. Siaki’s arm drops twice but keeps it up for the third time Slash responds by sweeping the leg and getting a two. Slash climbs to the top rope Siaki follows him up and the two end up crotching each other on the ropes as Siaki falls down to the canvas. Slash recovers and goes for the senton but Siaki gets out of dodge quickly.
Both men get to their feet and Siaki throws some right hands and elbow. Hooks Slash with a pumphandle suplex but Slash gets his foot on the bottom rope. Siaki hits a suplex and heads to the middle rope, Slash moves out of the way of the senton. James Mitchell is up on the apron distracting the referee, Slash grabs a black sack thrown into the ring bags the head of Siaki, hits a neckbreaker then debags and disposes of the evidence. Tenay and Ferrara sell this beautifully on commentary by asking “what was the point of that?” No idea but it gets Slash the three count.
Post match Mitchell gets into the ring with the Arc as Slash hooks up Siaki’s arms on the top rope. Mitchell says the following: “The blood of the Oaudad can be used to anoint or to desecrate. Now Sonny Siaki obviously chose the wrong path, so let the desecration begin”. Mitchell opens up the Arc and smears blood over the face of Siaki, the commentators have no idea what is going on.
Suddenly Don Harris, the new head of security, runs into the ring and powerbombs Slash. This brings out Malice who has to be restrained by Mitchell from getting involved with Harris, the two stare each other down before Malice backs away with the rest of the church.
We go to the back for another interview and Goldie has changed into a top with what looks like an anti-Dupp merchandise. She’s with Ricky Steamboat, she says since day one things have been totally out of control and wonders how he plans to take control of the situation. Ricky says he’s had his ups and down but the problems are all the same, but the rules of the NWA hasn’t changed. He says if they don’t like those rules then they can lump it. Goldie follows up and says “but they wouldn’t listen to Bill Berehns” to which Steamboat says “I’m not going to answer that you’re trying to compare me to Bill Berehns”. Just before we cut away we see Bruce of the Rainbow Express trying to chase after Ricky.
Tenay says Steamboat is about “class, dignity and most importantly... law and order”.
Truth’s music hits and he comes out and stares at one of the cage dancers a young black woman he calls “my sister”. Truth claims she’s caged up like an animal and they have got her out here exposing herself for the almighty dollar. Truth’s heel work is amazing here capping off his promo on this dancer by shunning her as “nothing more than a two dollar ho” and that she might believe she’s the next Destiny’s Child but “her only destiny is on a street corner of the hood”. Truth gets slapped for his choice remarks and then starts to take off his belt threatening to assault the girl but Monty Brown makes the save and beats Truth over the guard rail into the crowd. Truth whips Monty into a wall and clocks him over the back with a 2x4, security back Truth off to deal with a downed Monty Brown.
Out comes Ricky Steamboat who grabs a microphone and calls the Truth “Ron” and says he’s got Steamboat’s attention. “If there’s something you want to say about ‘them’ well at least come down here and have the balls to say it to my face” says Steamboat. Truth’s music hits again and out comes Ron. Ferrara can’t get over the fact Steamboat is using Truth’s real name and points this out numerous times.
“Look son” says Steamboat, who has the microphone snatched from him by Truth who proclaims “he ain’t nobody’s son” and to talk to him with some respect. Ricky tells him he’s going to have to earn his respect. This segment is fantastic so I’ll try to capture it verbatim:
Steamboat: “Truth, Ron, whatever you call yourself. If you want me to give you respect you’re gonna have to earn it. I’ve been listening to you carrying on here for the last couple of weeks and to tell you the truth I don’t know what card you’ve been dealing. If you’re talking about ‘them’ in an authoritative speaking well you’re talking about me when it comes to authority. Now if you’re talking about ‘them’ when it comes to the colour of skin well then we’ve got another problem. Either way I’m here to listen to you talk.”
Truth: “First of all you consider yourself just like ‘them’. Look again. You’re not. You mean just about as much to ‘them’ as I do. You want me to give you proof? You want more proof to back that up? Let’s talk about your own career OK? As a matter of fact let’s talk about your WWF career, how about that? Now let’s see how can I start this off? The great Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. I grew up a big fan of yours Ricky. Huge fan. People as of right now to this very day is talking about Savage and Steamboat and Wrestlemania 3. And I doubt if it’ll ever stop. But you know what? On that same very night that you reached your goals at a pinnacle time in your career, you became the Intercontinental Champion am I right or wrong?
“Well then why did it just stop? Why didn’t you get an opportunity to become the WWF Champion? Go for the big goal. Why did ‘they’ stop you? Was it ‘them’ holding you back? Like ‘they’ hold me back. Ricky. Dragon. Look me in my eyes and tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. The Intercontinental belt was always for second class citizens.
“Oh yes. Oh yes, Dragon. Fifteen years later ‘they’ pulling the same shiznit on me. I am tired, I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it. You know where I’m coming from Dragon, you’ve been there. You can change all of this. You can do it. You make the decisions and for all of us, make the right one.”
Steamboat: “As much as it hurts my feelings, I know where you’re coming from. You’re talking about ‘them’, I know where you’re coming from. So this is what I’m gonna do: I’m going to give you that opportunity of a lifetime. I’m gonna give you that shot. It’s going to be for the NWA Heavyweight Championship of the world. Ken Shamrock and Ron ‘The Truth’ Killings gonna happen here next week.”
The announcers are incredulous to this announcement. Truth is jubilant and starts dancing and rapping in the ring. The announcers run down the announcement, hopefully you didn’t get enough of the New Church because their music hits for the next match.
Malice vs. Apolo
Malice is out first with James Mitchell who still has the Arc, he’s set to face Apolo who is undefeated in singles competiton. Two big guys in the ring, this should be a good match. Apolo was apparently supposed to be the next in line for the title shot and Malice had to return the title belt that he stole last week. The commentators wonder how the men feel about the announcement made by Steamboat.
Apolo sends Malice to the outside and just about manages a flip dive to the outside. The emphasis is on Apolo’s agility and power, Malice attempts a backdrop to the outside and Apolo lands on his feet. Apolo also does this weird chop thing where he grunts before delivering the chop. Malice sends Apolo into the ring post three times and busts the former number one contender open. Apolo now sends Malice into the barricades a couple of times.
Mad spot as Apolo attempts a Thesz Press but Malice pulls him up and powerbombs Apolo. Malice sets Apolo up on the top rope, hits a superplex, crawls into the cover for a two. Malice hits a leg drop from the middle rope but only gets a two count. Malice starts getting in the face of the referee. The crowd is dead by the time Apolo hits a superkick and gets the three.
Father James Mitchell immediately gets in the ring and starts having words with the official. Malice clubs Apolo on the back and starts choking the referee and then delivers a chokeslam to the referee. Malice turns his attention to Apolo but Don Harris arrives on the scene. Harris big boots Malice to the mat but before he can set up the powerbomb he’s bagged by Slash who delivers a neckbreaker. Malice recovers and chokeslams Don Harris as Mitchell enters the ring with the Arc.
Both members of the Church restrain the Head of Security as Mitchell announces Don has followed the wrong path and is to be desecrated. Mitchell smears more blood over the head of Don Harris. We stay with this for a few seconds and Mike Tenay is so appalled that he goes into shilling TNA merchandise.
Don West is in the ring to introduce Miss TNA Taylor Vaughn; she’s not been on the show for almost a fortnight now. Both Don and Ed are quick to point out that this title was won by competing in a Lingerie Battle Royal. Before Don can get his interview underway Bruce from the Rainbow Express comes out to the ring. Bruce says he was inspired by the Truth and he doesn’t want to be treated like a second class citizen. Bruce demands that she “put that Miss TNA title on the line bitch”, this is too far for Taylor and she accepts the challenge with a low blow.
Miss TNA Moniker
Taylor Vaughn (c) vs. Bruce
A referee comes out, Taylor gets a suplex and a scoop slam on Bruce both only garner one counts. Bruce takes control with a clothesline and locks in an abdominal stretch. Bruce misses a middle rope leg drop, but follows up with a weird face buster and gets the three.
Don West proclaims this as “sick”. Bruce breaks down when he is awarded the tiara and sash. Tenay openly wonders if Bruce’s tag team partner Lenny would be proud or if he’s jealous.
We go to the back and Low Ki is doing pull ups whilst Goldie tries to interview him. Low Ki says “I do my talking out there” and leaves.
Low Ki vs. Jerry Lynn
Jerry is being accompanied by his tag team partner AJ Styles who joins the team at the announce table. Mat wrestling to start us off between Low Ki and Lynn. Just noticed this is the first week the Athena signs start appearing on the hard camera; more on her in later weeks.
Nice stand off spots establishing both guys, Jerry backs Low Ki into a corner but doesn’t break clean. AJ is playing cheerleader on commentary. Very odd to see Low Ki working a mat game considering last week Ki and Red came out and tore the house down.
Lynn pops the crowd with a tilt-a-whirl into a backbreaker but only finds a two. Ki starts to take control with strikes and kicks to Lynn. Ki hooks Lynn up in the Bite of the Dragon; a dragon sleeper whilst his opponent is tied up in the ropes. Lynn takes control with a guillotine leg drop and a Gory Special. Lynn goes for the Cradle Piledriver but Low Ki fights out into an armbar. Lynn fights out with a dirty foot to the face and then drops Low Ki with a front suplex. Lynn starting to show signs of frustration mounting some punches on Ki.
Ki starts to fight back with kicks but Lynn replies with right hands and a clothesline. Ki with the Tidal Crush and some roundhouses to the head of Lynn, but still only gets two. Lynn counters a second attempt at the Tidal Crush with a spinning powerbomb and the crowd start chanting “TNA”. Lynn counters a dragon sleeper with a tornado DDT but only gets two. Lynn motions for the Cradle Piledriver but Ki pushes out and hits a Kuppo Kick motioning for the Ki Krusher.
AJ drops his headset and climbs on the apron, Lynn breaks out whips Ki towards AJ, Ki reverses and whips Lynn into AJ’s awaiting enziguri. The referee is staring right at this and calls for the DQ as Ki hits the Ki Krusher. AJ Styles gets in the face of Jerry Lynn. Low Ki not thrilled about the interference kicks AJ in the face. We have maybe ten seconds to take in AJ doing this intentionally and all his talk on the announce table was him lying before we go to the back.
Don Harris is cleaning up his desecration from earlier, Goldie asks him for some comments on the situation. Don Harris says “do you want me to cut a wrestling promo about what he’s going to do to Malice?”, he sort of does but calmly says he’s going to speak to Steamboat and have him book a first blood match between himself and Malice for next week.
Oh good lord. It’s time for Jive Talkin’. I’m not even going to dignify this man by covering his diatribe, suffice to say this is like watching a stand up comic who thinks he’s funny in his head but doesn’t have the decency to pause for you to try and laugh. This is bad comedy, and not “so bad it’s good comedy” it’s just bad and this is on a program where people paid $10 for an alternative to sports entertainment. Want to know what the alternative was on television on RAW this week... for free non title The Rock vs. Ric Flair.
Disco introduces his first guest who he says will be the first person to expose their “naked breasts” on his show. Out comes Goldilocks who he calls “one dumb bitch” she feels insulted and despite arriving she decides to leave. Disco starts to talk about music and claims ignorance of Kid Rock. Disco gives up on this and tells her to “stand up and show the world your naked breasts”. Surprisingly Goldie refuses and tries to get the crowd to rally behind her and they don’t. Disco makes a blow job joke, Goldie slaps him, Disco starts to choke her and call her a “dirty slut”, Goldie knees him in the balls.
She’s then grabbed from behind by a tall muscular blond woman. Tenay identifies her as “Paulina from the first season of WWE Tough Enough”. The crowd chant for Paulina as she chokes out Goldie and helps up Disco to the back. This segment is now over but apparently there’ll be another Jive Talkin’ next week.
Before we go to the main event Don West does his hype man shtick:
Triple Threat for the X Division Championship: Low Ki vs. Jerry Lynn vs. AJ Styles
First Blood: Don Harris vs. Malice (blood as red as my shirt guaranteed says Don)
NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Ron “The Truth” Killings vs. Ken Shamrock
Don is brilliant at this stuff I can completely forgive him for calling Steamboat Ricky “The Steamboat” Dragon.
Scott Hall vs. Jeff Jarrett
Scott is out first, I should point out this is not a stretcher as you might see on wrestling television. This is a cloth stretcher you’ve probably seen on a sports pitch where two people hold either side. How this is going to work I don’t know. Jarrett’s music hits and Scott Hall jumps him at the ramp.
Straight to a walk and brawl around the outside of the ring sending Jarrett into the steps and then on top of the announce table. Jarrett tries to out pace Hall in the ring but gets caught with right hands and a fallaway slam. Jarrett rolls back to the outside and up to the ramp and they roll to the backstage area. Jeff gets thrown into Jerry Lynn and two doorways.
The two brawl back to the arena and start brawling in the crowd, so far into the crowd that the cameras lose them. Hall throws Jarrett back to the ringside area. Jarrett rolls into the ring as Hall fetches the stretcher and Jarrett dropkicks it into Hall. The momentum switches as Jeff begins to use the stretcher as a weapon.
The weapon spots are a little clunky as it’s essentially looks like a large rolled up umbrella. The crowd is hot for this match and particularly Hall, so it doesn’t really matter what these two do and the two get some good heat with some weapons spots.
Eventually Hall signals for the Edge and drives Jarrett into the mat, the referee counts one, two and then gets dragged off camera by The Truth who then hits Hall with an axe kick and drapes Jarrett over the top. Truth pushes the referee back in who counts one, two, but Hall kicks out. Monty Brown shows up to take care of Truth throwing him over the barricade. Jerry Lynn comes out and delivers a slingshot splash to Jarrett, Hall crawls into the cover and Jarrett gets the shoulder up at two. AJ then clocks Lynn on the ramp, climbs to the top rope but Don Harris comes out and shakes AJ off balance. This sends out the New Church to beat up Don Harris. Hall and Jarrett get back up to clock heads and the referee starts a double down count.
Both men up at nine and Hall gets some right hands on Jarrett. Hall picks up the stretcher to charge at Jarrett who ducks and Hall hits the referee. Jarrett dropkicks the stretcher into the face of Hall, Jarrett rolls to the outside to get a steel chair. Steamboat comes out, Jarrett takes a swing but the chair rebounds off the ropes into Jarrett’s face. Steamboat tries to revive the referee as Scott Hall gets to his feet and finds the chair. Steamboat though stops Hall from using the chair Jarrett takes advantage and drives Hall’s face into the chair with The Stroke. Jarrett makes the cover and gets the three.
We go off the air with Jeff rolling the body of Hall onto the stretcher.
Every wrestling show contains an unequal amount of good and bad matches, segments and promos. Depending on which way the scale tilts you’ll be left with a smile on your face or a bad taste in your mouth. This is one of these shows that has the scale going back and forth.
Let’s start with the good on this show: Ricky Steamboat. I’ll be honest on the last show when they said “Ricky Steamboat is coming to bring law and order” I almost laughed, but on this show where everyone is over the top, loony and screaming at each other the softly spoken Steamboat comes across as authoritative. Steamboat’s presence on this show was so neutral it was a breath of fresh air on this show. The segment with Truth was really powerful for what it was, the content was largely backstage bollocks and politics but what it achieved was a heel talking the biggest babyface in the business into giving him a match.
Second, following on from this: we actually got some build on this show for next week. There’s three matches next week, all of them have some build to them and it doesn’t feel rushed.
Third, the opening match did a good job of recapping last week without a video package talking about Styles/Lynn and Skipper/Truth/Brown.
Finally, the wrestling on the show was pretty good Lynn vs. Low Ki and Styles vs. Skipper were both good matches with wonky finishes. Felt like they reached a peak with a big spot but then kept going, the Tidal Crush reversal into the powerbomb in particular should have been the finish to Ki vs. Lynn.
The bad... pretty much everything else. The problem with being is a writer is you’re always looking for the story and often in TNA the story is there is no story. When you present segments like Jive Talkin’ that show up, go nowhere and then leave you wonder what the point was.
You have to watch these with the mindset that this is their marketing for next week. No matter how much hyping Don West does when your second from last segment is Jive Talkin’ which pushes the main event to be a ten minute clusterfuck, why would you want to see this show and pay for it next week?
TNA has a habit of having all of this stuff on the show and then cutting away from it so it never sinks in. More than once they’ve gone too long and had to cut the show short. Would this not be a sign to the creative team that there is too much going on in your show? Two Goldie segments were rejected requests for interviews. Could those not have been cut for time?
My biggest gripe with the show right now is the AJ/Lynn stuff. The constant flip flopping of this story is nutty plus they are still the tag team champions. There was no reason to turn the story on it’s head again now. When you have the perfect catalyst in them losing their titles to do it.
The main event stuff was just rushed nonsense with everyone coming down to brawl so the announcers could mention that everyone here would also be fighting next week.
I’m moving on with a sense of foreboding, I know the highlights of what’s coming but I’m very much aware despite all of this the company is still going sixteen years later.