Monday, August 10, 2015

WWA: The Inception (2001 PPV)

The year is 2001. The World Wrestling Federation had acquired the assets of fledgling rival promotion World Championship Wrestling, Philidelphia outfit Extreme Championship Wrestling went bankrupt, and suddenly there is a tremendous void in the wrestling stratosphere for an alternative to Vince McMahon's wrestling monopoly, as well as a bunch of name talents not employed by the WWF. As such, there were attempts to gather these talents and build a promotion out of them in an effort to provide that much needed alternative... to mixed results.

One of these promotions was World Wrestling All-Stars, an Australian touring outfit run by concert promoter Andrew McManus. Signing a bunch of well-known names such as Jeff Jarrett, Brian "Road Dogg" James, and Bret Hart among others, the promotion would embark on an international tour of live events. Some of these live events were made into Pay-Per-View shows.

The Inception was the first of these PPVs.

Previously taped from some city in Australia, we get a pretty decent looking set-up. Video quality is the greatest thing ever, but it's not necessarily low-rent garbage, either. Our commentary team is former WCW/future TNA announcer dude Jeremy Borash and future Hall of Famer, Jerry The King Lawler, back during his sabbatical from the WWF in 2001. And our commissioner for the show is Bret Hart, who cuts a rambling promo about passing the torch and how he never lost the World title in either WWF or WCW. This was post-concussion, pre-stroke Bret Hart, back when he was still pretty bitter. Some would argue he's still bitter today. I'd settle with giving those arguments a rating of 4 out of 10... is that even a thing anymore?

Opening contest; Juventud Guerrera defeat Psicosis in a ladder match to win the WWA International Cruiserweight title. Lots of spotty, bumpy, high-flying stuff that seemed pleasing enough. It was a fun match for what it was. I'm not going to complain all that much. I liked it well enough.

First-round match; Road Dogg (yes, that Road Dogg, complete with opening spiel) beat Konnan in a Mexican Strap Match to advance. The Strap Match in question is the "touch all four corners to win" variant. Road Dog accomplishes this task after hogtiing Konnan. This was fine for what it was and at the very least, it was good see James do his usual schtick instead of whatever he was doing when paired up with Ron Killings... though I'm surprised at the apparent lack of a lawsuit here.

Norman Smiley beat Devon "Crowbar" Storm in a hardcore match. Said victory came after Crowbar did a big splash from the top of the set onto Norman and a couple of tables. Unfortunately for Storm, Norman recovered first because he was wearing a metal plate... or maybe not. How many people are going to get that? Anyway, this was generic garbage brawling for kids, but it was generally harmless stuff. Nothing to throw a fit over.

First-round match; an open invitation battle royale that's open to anyone working for WWA. As such, your participants include Buff Bagwell, Stevie Ray, Devon Storm, Norman Smiley, Disco Inferno, Jerry Lawler, Jeremy Borash, some random cameraguy, the chick that does backstage interviews, and two guys dressed as Bananas In Pajamas (but are called Fruits In Suits for some reason). The resulting match is hilariously stupid and I laughed my ass off, so mission fucking accomplished. If you want a good belly laugh at something absurd, you could probably find this on YouTube somewhere, so... yeah.

Oh, and Bagwell won the match.

First-round match; Jeff Jarrett beat Nathan Jones (he who had a cup of coffee in 2003 WWE) in a Guitar on a Pole match... too short to mean anything, but that's probably for the best because Jones... well, he ain't that great. That's all I will say.

Semi-final match; Road Dogg beat Lenni and Lodi in a Triangle Triple-Threat Three-Way Dance thing... this was a thing that happened.

Semi-final match; Jeff Jarrett beats Buff Bagwell in a Tits, Whips, and Buff match... that's the stupidest thing I've heard. It's basically a Lumberjack... er, sorry, Lumberjill (that's sexist) match with the dancing chicks with whips as lumberjacks... or something. At one point, the ref gets knocked out, Buff hits his finisher, and one of the dancing chicks counts to three. Buff, thinking he's won, poses for a bit before getting El-Kabonged by Jarrett, who scores the win when the ref proper does the count. Gee, I wonder if Vince Russo was writing this?

There's a supposed comedy match between Luna and Gangrel that I didn't really pay attention to... and there's some other match with a guy in drag... the less said the better.

In an effort to waste more time, Disco Inferno comes out and challenges the Bananas/Fruit/Whatever to a fight. The Fruit comes out, they fight Disco, and one of them takes a huge bump off the cage... because sure, why not?

Jeff Jarrett defeated Road Dogg in a steel cage match to win the vacant WWA championship. There's an odd bit where Jarrett would do a Sharpshooter on his former Roadie and Bret wouldn't allow the match to end. Then D-O-Doulble-G would pull off his own sharpshooter and Bret still wouldn't let the match end. I think that concussion confused him a bit because a sharpshooter is a totally legal wrestling move. However, the Hitman was a-okay with Jarrett El Kabonging Road Dogg for the title. And then, in a genius move, Bret congratulations the new champion by putting him in a Sharpshooter.

The initial outing of the WWA has its bumps; anyone expecting anything within the realm of top-notch technical wrestling here is a bit mental because that is certainly not what we got. The production values are modest if unfantastic; the picture quality feels overly VHS quality, commentary is heard through the PA system which explains the echo, and the overall presentation is not the greatest. But at the same time, there's a bit of a charm here. While the show got pretty overwhelming and ridiculous with the endless stipulations and the comedy matches, it wasn't a completely terrible show. If anything, it was passable fare at best and somewhat watchable at worst. And for the time, it was a nice outlet for former WWF and WCW guys to ply their trade, seeing as there was a sizable lack of big-time wrestling companies in the horizon.

All in all, this show was fine for what it was and, while not exactly MUST SEE, it has its moments and not a bad way to kill a couple hours.

The WWA produced five Pay-Per-View events overall and we'll spend the week taking a look a these events... along with a couple other bonuses here and there.

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