Friday, August 14, 2015

WWA: The Reckoning (2003 Australian PPV)

Auckland, New Zealand
June 8, 2003 (Taped May 25, 2003)

And so we come to the final WWA PPV show, as shortly thereafter the company would fold and be a forgotten footnote in the annals of wrestling history. As such, this PPV is about unifying the WWA titles into the various NWA-TNA titles. With this in mind, the NWA-TNA champion wins. This much was spoiled on an edition of the NWA-TNA weekly PPVs where they showcased a brief snippet of NWA champ Jeff Jarrett beating WWA champ Sting to unify both belts. Way to kill off any reason for people to want to buy this one last PPV, guys.

Your commentary team comprises Jeremy Borash (who doubles as ring announcer) and the Disco Inferno Glen Gilberti, for the third PPV in a row. No complaints, though. These guys makes the show passable.

Rick Steiner beat Mark Mercedes, a Australian dude who shits on New Zealand. It wasn't much, but if nothing else, the crowd was into it. So I guess it got the job done. If anything, it's easy to forget that this was more of a live event or house show than PPV proper.

Teo beat Puppet and Meatball in a... for fuck's sake. MEATBALL? That's the best name you could come up with? Seriously... Anyway, it's another midget match; the same one we've seen for three shows already only with a third one tossed in for flavor. I'm almost surprised that they never got featured in the first event, given how gimmicky and goofy that show was.

Devon Storm beat Konnan in a hardcore match. This is a thing that happened. Not the greatest thing ever and to be quite honest, there was a point where I was tempted to fast forward, but I can't say it was terrible. It went by rather quickly, so I guess that's something. Part of me wishes that this was just a straight-up wrestling match because the hardcore stip seems tacked on. Almost as if there's a mandate where every Devon Storm match in WWA needed to be a hardcore match, but I know ol' Crowbar could do some decent stuff without the hardcore element. We just never got to see that here and that makes me sad.

NWA-TNA X-Division Champion Chris Sabin defeated WWA Cruiserweight champion Jerry Lynn, Johnny Swinger and Kazarian to unify both titles. Why the need to toss in two other guys in there for the hell of it when a TITLE UNIFICATION is enough of a big deal on its own... I don't know. The match was your usual flippy-flying, fast-paced match that you'd expect from four guys of these ilk, but it's been done before and usually done better. Still, I can't fault them too much; they gave it their all and it was a fun match.

Shane Douglas comes out and talks about his accolades, his career-ending arm injury, and then challenges Sabu to a fight. Joe E. Legend comes out and offers to fight Sabu in Douglas' place. My mind is blank as I'm watching this, as I don't recall the peculiars of Shane's injury - which doesn't seem as "career-ending" as he makes out here considering he had since wrestled several more times - but this did serve to set up the Sabu vs. Joe match, so that's something, I suppose.

Sabu defeated Joe E. Legend in a hardcore match. It's the typical hardcore garbage brawl with weapons, blown spots and stuff. For what it was, it was harmless, but it ran a little too long for my tastes, didn't hold my attention... I've seen better. That's all I could really say.

Here comes Bret Hart, fresh off suffering a stroke and looking a little weathered as a result. Poor guy looks so tired and fatigue that he needs a box to sit out just to look a bit composed as he reminisces about Owen, Bulldog, and other things. Honestly, as much fun as it is to rail on the guy for his occasional observations that seem a bit disagreeable, seeing him in this state was a bit tough. It's really sad that post-wrestling career, Bret Hart comes off more as something of a tragic figure than one of the greats in the squared circle.

NWA World Champion Jeff Jarrett defeated WWA World Champion Sting in a thing that happened to unify both titles. The last time I saw this two in a match, it was at Halloween Havoc 2000 and that was nothing but gimmicky bullshit. Thankfully, copyrights and legal bits prevented that direction from being an option and we're presented with a fairly decent match. Towards the end, Joe E. Legend tries to cut in, but Rick Steiner later stops him and then El-Kabongs Sting, allowing Jarrett to get the win and the titles. All things considered, this was perfectly acceptable fare. It wasn't plodding, it wasn't gimmicky, it was fine for what it was. As far as being a final match for a promotion, this was a good note to go out on.

The Reckoning wass the final WWA event to air on PPV and the final event overall, as the promotion folded shortly afterwards. Obviously, with the existence of NWA-TNA filling the role that this set out to do, WWA more or less ran its course and most (but not all) the talent featured in these various WWA events would either find themselves in TNA, WWE, or various other places.

In watching the Reckoning - to my recollection, the only WWA PPV that I hadn't seen back in the day - there was a small part of me that wanted to like this show, if for no other reason than because it was probably WWA's best show since their first. There's a couple decent matches, the production looks a bit cleaner and a bit spiffier, and the whole thing went by quickly in the 1:40 runtime. In essence, even with some of the weaker points to the whole deal, this was perhaps the most watchable WWA offering that I've seen out of the five.

Ultimately, The Reckoning was a show that I honestly couldn't get into. Despite the passable nature of the thing that made it the best of the WWA shows, there was a part of me that didn't care. Partly due to knowing that this was the final WWA show and thus it was a given as to who would win the title unification matches. Partly due to some matches having no real context to give the viewer significant reason to care beyond "Here's a match with a couple guys you might know." But also partly due to the realization that, in watching this show years after not having watched it in its initial airing, I hadn't really missed much in skipping this the first time and sticking with whatever NWA-TNA shows I could catch at the time because that was the thing that would keep going.

So that was World Wrestling All-Stars... attempted to fill a void early on and later stepped aside to give TNA its chance to shine. For what it offered to the overseas market, it filled its particular niche just fine, I suppose. The ride through these shows were somewhat spotty, but it was a nice trip revisiting some old memories.

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