Monday, June 26, 2023

21 Years Ago In TNA #02 - Improvement On The Second Show (June 26th, 2002)

So last week, I revisited the very first NWA-TNA PPV and it was a thing that happened. The show may have opened with a recap of prior events, but I will not. You'll just have to read my previously posted post from last week to catch yourselves up.

Anyway, we're continuing onwards with the second-ever NWA-TNA weekly PPV, which you can watch on Youtube for free because Impact is such a loving company that's willing to give stuff for free and hope it's enough of a selling point to subscribe to their Impact Plus service. We'll see if this, as well as the next three shows that are also available for us freeloaders, will do just that.

For the record, I have not seen this show in decades... as in, the last time I saw this show was when it first aired. So this is definitely going to be revisiting some forgotten realms... please don't sue.

After a recap of last week's event, we get our opening contest in the form of Jeff Jarrett taking on Scott Hall, who is flanked by country singer Toby Keith and the late, great Jackie Fargo, which means that yes, this odd Jarrett/Fargo feud that was a thing in the last show for some reason is continuing onwards with this show. I expressed a bit of fascination in seeing this play out; not because it's good or anything, but because... well, it's just one of those unexplainable things that has you going... huh.

Anyway, Scott Hall defeated Jeff Jarrett with outside interference from K-Crush, Fargo, and Keith, who landed the low blow on Jarrett to help Hall win. Well, last week's show opened with a fun little exhibition. This week's show opened with a less than stellar match riddled with outside interference up the wazoo. Not what I would call a hot start.

We get a recap on last week's catfight, which is apparently being used to hype up a lingerie battle royal that's going to take place later in the show. I'd ask if Vince Russo was writing this show, but then I stopped myself and realized, "Wait. This is TNA. Of course, he's writing this shit."

The sad state of affairs doesn't get any better, as we have Cheex squashing some dude in a couple minutes. For those who don't know, Cheex is this really-short, really-obese fellow whose only claim to fame was that he did a dark match prior to the first PPV and ended up breaking the ring, which prompted the whole deal with the legends to open up the first show since they needed time to fix the ring so that it wouldn't fall apart for the next few shows... because you see, this show was taped right after the first show ended, and so a lot of faces that appear during this taping cycle would eventually not appear down the road, such as some of the people in the crowd who left after the first show ended.

So not only did they get this obese man in a dark match that broke the ring before your very first show went on air, which could've been a disaster, but you can actually put this fucker on television for the world to see how much of the drizzling shits he is. There have been plenty of rather rotund talents that have proven popular and also somewhat talented... and then you have Cheex, who gets blown up not even a minute in and by the time the match is over, the poor bastard looked like he was about to have a heart attack. This wasn't just sad to watch; it was actually quite unsettling. Never did the words "at least it was short" hold more poignance than it did here.

There's not much information on what happened to Cheex a.k.a. Mike Staples other than he once underwent gastric bypass surgery that resulted in a stroke. He did compete for a short while in 2014/2015 under the name Rolling Thunder. That's all I could dig up, so hopefully, he's doing well.

Backstage, Jeremy Borash gives some lady backstage money for some reason. Took me a while to realize that lady was Alicia Webb, who had a cup of coffee in WWF playing Ryan Shamrock, Ken's work sister who was quickly forgotten about afterwards. You see, not everything from the Attitude Era was memorable; I had to look this shit up. And now that I've registered this on the written word, I will promptly forget about her again. Sorry.

Brian Christopher (who was still doing the goofy Too Cool/Grandmaster Sexay gimmick that he was probably best known for in WWE... hey, if it worked for Scotty 2 Hotty...) defeated K-Krush with plenty of outside interference from the NASCAR guys from last week whose names I don't recall. This was a thing that happened. Nothing more, nothing less.

One point that I overlooked and was brought up; K-Krush is the heel in this program because he wants this wrestling show to focus on wrestling rather than two jabronis from some other sport. The future R-Truth has a point and I agree with him, especially on a show that I'm spending ten dollars on... but no, let's waste time on two NASCAR guys I don't know whose names I'm gonna forget the next day... and I'm supposed to boo the wrestler for wanting more wrestling on the wrestling show... why is this even a thing?

There's a lingerie battle royal featuring a bunch of ladies I don't know. I could probably pick out one or two at most that I do know... but the whole thing is won by some lady who eventually gets stripped by Francine of ECW fame. Oh yeah, this is a lingerie battle royal; which means everyone starts in pajamas and if you're stripped of your sleepwear, you're eliminated. By this point in my life, I had access to the Internet and Internet Porno was a thing that exists and could easily be accessed, which means you can see actual boobs on line for free if you look hard enough rather than pay ten dollars to see a shitty battle royal that only teases you with the boobage.

Oh shut the fuck up. You know EXACTLY why they booked this match the way it did and it sure as shit had nothing to do with women's wrestling being a thing.

On top of that, we follow up with a backstage interview where the interview girl is interviewing one of the wrestlers (Apolo, I think his name was) and ends up in a catfight with another girl.

Next match, Apollo faces off against David . Apollo ends up winning the match. This was a perfectly acceptable wrestling match, which makes it the best match on the card so far.

Joel Gertner comes out and taunted the Rainbow Express, the team of Lodi (of WCW fame) and Bruce (he of the Alan Funk fame whose only notable thing I remember of him was his WWA appearances impersonating Hulk Hogan). The Rainbow Express are apparently a gay team and that's what makes them controversial... this was low-hanging fruit stuff for 2002. It does nothing for me, either way. So, their scheduled opponents, the Dupps, refuse to fight the gay tag-team... low-hanging fruit... so we get the first appearance of James Storm and Chris Harris, the future America's Most Wanted tag-team who would have quite the run in TNA.

And what a start to that run this is... the match itself was alright. Lodi and Bruce may have controversy in their bag, but they provide good fodder for the better team to defeat. If nothing else, it's a good showcase for Storm and Harris; a sampler of things to come, if you will. That's what I got out of this whole deal. All that other stuff... I'm sure that appeals to someone out there, somewhere... I'd much rather move on. Thanks.

Ricky Steamboat - who is still wearing his ref shirt from last week - presents the new NWA World champion Ken Shamrock, which Don West finds damn skippy. Shamrock promises to take on all challengers, which brings out the Sinister Minister himself, James Mitchell, who also promises to ensure that his New Church controls the title, which brings out DA WALL, BRUTHA... er, I mean, MALICE to beat on Shamrock for a bit before Mitchell calls him off... so we're getting Shamrock/Malice II for next week's show, huh? Okay, then.

And in the main event, AJ Styles defeated Psicosis, Low-Ki, and Jerry Lynn in what was dubbed a "Double Elimination Four Corners" match to win the inaugural X-Division championship. The first "elimination" came when Styles hit Psicosis with a Styles Clash for the pin, but apparently, you're supposed to be beat twice to be eliminated. I would've been happier if they had just kept things simple and made it so that if you're pinned or submitted, you're out. This was trying to remake the rules a bit and it didn't quite work. You'll find a lot of things that TNA tried to experiment with don't quite work out.

In any event, despite the somewhat convoluted ruleset, this was a pretty good showcase of AJ Styles, who got the most eliminations in this match and the last stretch between he and Lynn was just tremendous stuff. This AJ Styles kid looks like he has a bright future ahead of him. TNA would do well to groom this kid well so he could be a top star in their promotion a few years down the line.

So this was a bit of a step up, at least. NWA-TNA Episode 2 had a bit of a rough start, but once you got past all the stupid shit, things started to pick up the pace. The X-Division title match was a goddamned spectacle of talent and athletics.

Hey, you know what? Skip the first part up until the Storm/Harris vs. Rainbow Express match and you've got some good stuff to look forward to.

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