Monday, July 3, 2023

21 Years Ago In TNA #03 - Tag (July 3rd, 2002)

We continue our free journey into the early days of NWA-TNA... for some reason.

The show opens with a recap of last week's show and after the opening pyro, NWA President Jim Miller (or is it Jim Wilson like the graphic says?) gives Mike Tenay a trophy as a welcome to the NWA and announces that the NWA World Champion will face off against Takao Omori, a Japanese wrestler who was working for the Pro Wrestling NOAH promotion at the time. Well, that's something to look forward to for next week, at least. Don't know if it enticed anyone to pay ten bucks, but it's something, at least.

James Storm and Chris Harris defeated The Johnsons in a so-so match to advance in the tag-team tournament and apparently, this is the end of the Johnsons, as they would chokeslam their manager (Mortimer Plumtree - a snobby fellow if there ever was one) and walk off into the sunset. This is a tournament to crown new NWA Tag Champs, which brings about a funny story that I found while looking things up. 

The Johnsons were portrayed by the Shane Twins, a fairly talented team on the independent circuit whom most people might know for their brief WWE stint under the name Gymini - a flunky tag team for so-called fitness guru Simon Dean a.k.a. the repackaged Nova of ECW fame. Coincidentally, the Shane Twins also happened to be the reigning NWA Tag-Team Champions, but since TNA had exclusive rights to both the World and Tag titles and the Shane Twins ceased to be to make way for the Johnsons, we needed new champs and there you go. Too bad about the Twins, though. I always thought they were a decent team that never got a proper break.

Later in the show, the future AMW would be seen bloodied and bruised backstage and thus Jerry Lynn volunteered to fill in for the duo in the tournament finals. His partner? Reigning X-Division champion A.J. Styles, who also has a match. So is Jerry Lynn the culprit?

Jeremy Borash brings out Scott Hall, who only gets a Hey You out before Jarrett comes out and interrupts him. Hall tells Jarrett to bring it, but Jarrett is stopped by the NWA President guy, allowing K-Krush to attack Hall from behind. Good for Ron - he went to feuding with NASCAR racers to ambushing Razor Ramon. It's a step up, at least.

Monty Brown defeats some jabroni in a couple minutes. This was his debut match and while his name might not ring a bell these days because he's been out of the business for a good long while, he would be somewhat synonymous with TNA for the next few years. I recall Monty Brown being one of the few guys who actually stood out from the crop and had he stuck around... oh well.

The Rainbow Express (Lodi and Bruce) defeated the team of Buff Bagwell and Apolo to advance in the tag-title tournament, with Bagwell eating the pin. The story was Bagwell being his usual cocky self and that ended up being his undoing. Ed Ferrara - yes, he's still here and he's just as annoying as ever - tries to interview Buff, but Buff says "Don't call me Buff. I'm Marcus and I got beat by two gay guys. I'm going home." And then he gives Ed his hat. I've heard about this, now that I've seen this happen... well, let's let it play out and see where it goes.

There's a segment with NWA World Champion Ken Shamrock... it's still weird writing that all these years later, but yes, Ken Shamrock was the reigning NWA World's Heavyweight Champion in 2002... those sideburns did all the heavy lifting, I'm sure. Anyway, he addresses all challengers to his belt, then the lights go out, and Malice beats him up. Yippee.

Then a bunch of stuff happens that I am more than willing to skip over. Another interview, another little bastard match, and another women's match. I did catch a clip of Ed Ferrara's hand on Francine's breasts and getting whipped for it as a result. Whatever you want to say about the guy as a writer or a commentary guy, he was more than willing to be the whipping boy whenever needed for the sake of your entertainment and he should be commended for that much at least.

NWA World Champion Ken Shamrock defeated Malice to retain the title in a match that lasted about six minutes and saw Malice get most of the offense before Shamrock made his comeback and eventually got the submission win. More of a showcase of Malice than anything and while the match wasn't great or anything, at least they were TRYING to get the guy over as a threat.

X-Division Champion A.J. Styles defeated David Young in a quick fun match to retain the title, and then joins with Jerry Lynn to challenge the Rainbow Express, who attacks the duo before the match begins. And so the main event saw the team of AJ Styles and Jerry Lynn - who were both fighting each other for the X title that Styles held - defeated the Rainbow Express to win the vacant NWA Tag Titles and thus making Styles a double champion in TNA... even if Jerry did most of the work, but I won't hold that against him because A.J. was forced to do double duty. Again, quick match, but fun while it lasted.

Oh wait... scratch that. That wasn't the main event because having a title match close out the show would've made sense.

Jeff Jarrett and K-Krush defeated Scott Hall and Brian Christopher in a perfectly acceptable tag match that saw Hall eat a kick from Brian and a stroke from Jarrett, which is apparently enough to earn the dude a stretcher job... only for Jarrett to keep attacking... so, are they writing Hall off this show? What about my main man Jackie Fargo? What happened to that guy?

Three weeks in and we've established A.J. Styles as a potential star in the making and Jeff Jarrett as an arrogant ass of a heel. I don't know if his recent AEW appearances have anything to do with it, but I'm enjoying Jarrett's act here a lot more than I thought I would. I suppose years after the fact allows you to mellow out and enjoy the show a bit. And then I pop in an episode of 2003 RAW and I'm like fuck it.

All in all, a perfectly fine show. Some good stuff, some not so good stuff. No complaints.

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