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  " The Gravel Pit "

Wrestling

From the Outside
Posted by Bryan "bps 'The Truth' 21" Staebell on Aug 6, 2003, 03:42

You may have noticed that this column isn’t called the NWA TNA Week xxx Preview. Now don’t worry I still know my role on this site and I also know that the last thing it needs is another WWE opinion column, so this is still a TNA based article. The problem with writing a TNA Preview is that TNA sometimes doesn’t let us know the card (or as much of it as they let us know anyway) until the day before the show. Now sure, coming out of last week’s show we already knew the main three matches for tonight...but that’s NOT the norm. You can still come here for my take on their next show, but I really want to try and turn this into a hub for all TNA related information. We’ll look at current feuds, the roster and how it’s used...basically everything that people write about the WWE in columns...just about TNA instead. It’s time to move on anyway...I wrote that preview for a full year and didn’t get ONE mention from Jeremy Borash in his “From the Inside” Column. So I stole his title instead.


Last Week

Of course Dames’ does his TNA diatribes every week and you can find last week’s on the site...but there’s nothing wrong with multiple opinions. I’m not going to do a review since everyone does that...I’m just going to do a list of things of note from last week. We’ll call it the top 8. Why 8? Why 10?

8. An honest to God pole match that didn’t suck. Pole matches always suck...but the double pole match main event between Jarrett and Legend was actually a well put together little match. Sure it was completely forgettable (especially when the post match stuff blew it away) but hey...it was a POLE MATCH that DIDN’T SUCK.

7. Ricky Morton. I have to admit...I was surprised with how well Morton carried himself last week. I haven’t been the biggest fan of veteran’s working matches...but if they’re going to get after it as hard as Morton did...and then put the younger guy over...

6. Michael Shane’s debut. There’s nothing quite like making your debut with a good match. I have seen Shane’s Ring of Honor work...and I wasn’t very impressed. He suffers from Christian syndrome where no matter what kind of match he’s working...and no matter what speed he’s working at...he’ll...throw...on...a...headlock. It really makes for some boring matches. I didn’t see any of that last week, and that’s a definite step in the right direction.

5. Frankie Kazarian is the greatest referee in the history of Professional Wrestling. His counts were crisp and added to the suspense of all the near falls. He was always in position and never took away from the action with his presence...despite being in a feud with one of the wrestlers. That is until the angle they ran...which led to one of the greatest near falls I can remember. He nailed Sabin with his finisher and then went for the three count...and another ref ran in and stopped the count as his hand was coming down. Genius.

4. Lynn vs. Skipper given unannounced...twice. I could debate putting Lynn over twice when they’re supposed to push Skipper...but it bothers me more that Lynn and Skipper would have a match on the show without TNA telling everyone first. Last week’s lineup looked weak going in...and announcing Lynn vs. Skipper could have probably added a few buys. I understand trying to get over the “you never know what you’ll see” thing...but if you want us to pay for it...I’d pretty much rather know what I’m going to see.

3. He’s...you know...mad. The Mad Mikey video was strange. At first I didn’t like it...but then he crawled out of his car window and through the drive through and I dug it. This will get him over. This will make people forget that Crash Holly was the biggest jobber in WWE history. Those are definite pluses. This is also why Vince Russo isn’t a complete negative for a company like many say.

2. Clockwork Orange House of Holy Shit...that WAS fun. Two weeks in a row this Raven/Douglas feud has brought the goods. That Clockwork Orange match was out of control. Alexis took another beating and Slash continued to be the unheralded God of TNA. Best of all, Raven taking the fall again continues to build the Raven/Douglas feud in exactly the right way. No matter how often Raven loses...he just keeps getting more and more popular.

1. Say it with me now...Christopher Daniels: Main Eventer. Every week I watch those video packages for Daniels thinking how great it would be for him to get a serious push. This past week’s video informed me that Daniels would return next week. That was a stroke of genius. Can you remember the last time someone who was on the show just a MONTH earlier made such a grand entrance? It was shocking, it was perfectly timed, and it was exactly what TNA needed.



This Week

Michael Shane vs. Shark Boy vs. Joey Matthews vs. Danny Doring

This is being billed as a four man qualifying match to determine the #1 contender to the X title. I love when TNA brings in new talent to contend for their titles. I thought it was great last week when Michael Shane received a title shot without having worked even one PPV match for TNA.

Maybe I should clarify. I love the idea of bringing in new talent to defend the NWA title (and to a lesser extent the NWA Tag Team titles) against...as those are supposed to be the two titles that aren’t “company” titles but are “World” titles. We take for granted what the words “World Heavyweight Title” mean. HHH and Kurt Angle hold versions of the “World” title...but only defend them against people on their own roster. One of the things that makes the NWA title a little more special is the fact that we’ve seen Jeff Jarrett go across the ocean and defend the title against guys not on the roster like Nathan Jones and Sting (prior to his TNA time). In fact Jarrett went all over the place with that title. Even recently AJ Styles defended the title at a Ring of Honor show. On that show he faced fellow TNA member Chris Sabin...but I get the feeling that there wouldn’t be any problem from either end putting Styles against a non-TNA wrestler on a future show (he does work for them too after all). Styles actually defended the X title on a Ring of Honor show before too. During Ken Shamrock’s short title reign we even saw TNA bring in a non-TNA wrestler for a title match (Takao Omori). Those things should only add to the prestige of a title...but it just doesn’t work that way in the real world. Styles could take that title and defend it every night all over the world against a different wrestler every time...and no one will view it as more important than the WWE title...even if it’s only defended against the Big Show and only twice a month at that.

It’s easy to dismiss that with a simple “well...everyone knows about the WWE and no one knows about TNA” response. I’m not talking about general perception though...I’m talking about everyone...including me. Regardless of how big the WWE is compared to TNA...why should their title be viewed as more important? There are far less people with a chance to grab hold of the top prize in the WWE then there are in TNA. AJ Styles would be getting squashed by Albert on Velocity every week regardless of how much talent he has, or how over he gets. Furthermore...look at the lineage of those WWE titles for a moment. The WWE title was held by Vince McMahon, and (if we accept that it contains the history of the WCW title) the World title has been held by Vince Russo and David Arquette. The closest that the NWA title comes to an embarrassment on that level is probably Mike Rapada...because I’ve never heard of him.

The belt on AJ’s shoulder is the same title (although not physically of course) that was held by Lou Thesz, Harley Race and Ric Flair. Flair and Steamboat set the world on fire in 1989 over this very object. Why is it that our perception of a belt’s worth has ceased to be about the quality of the men who have held it or the matches they have put on, and become more about the size of the company that it is used in? Somewhere in the answer to that question lies the key to why there will probably never again be a number 2 company to compete with the WWE.

Anyway...I like that TNA keeps hitting the refresh button on their roster. That being said...Shane is going to win this match in a walk. Shark Boy is a comedy gimmick (although I guess there is an outside chance that he could win here...if only because his masks are about to go on sale), Doring is making his first TNA appearance and I didn’t even know Matthews was a singles wrestler.

I wouldn’t expect this match to be anything too special...but I guess you never know. I liked what I saw of Shane last week (and I really am not a fan of his work in Ring of Honor, outside of his stuff with Paul London). I think he should be commended for putting on a good match last week. That may sound odd since people should put on a good match every week....but this was probably Shane’s first ever live TV appearance. I’m sure he’s done a TV taping and obviously he’s done video’s for RoH...but being in front of a live camera for the first time does strange things to a man. Just this week Paul London gave an interview where he discussed how nervous he got the first time he was on TNA (also his first live TV appearance). Shane pretty much gave the most impressive TNA debut since Chris Sabin.

Normally I would expect this to be the opener...but they might have to lead with the cage again for logistical reasons (it takes longer to put a cage up than take it down). This could be entertaining, and it could be a train wreck. Either way it sounds like fun.


Larry Zbyszko vs. Kid Kash

Last week Kash defeated Ricky Morton in a surprisingly solid little match, and this match is along the same lines as that one. This all stems from the legends ceremony TNA held two weeks ago to announce Erik Watts as the new commissioner. Kash came out and disrespected the legends and now they’re trying to beat some respect into him. We’ve seen Zbyszko work with Styles very effectively previously in TNA, so I would think this won’t be too bad either. I’d expect to see Kash win with some help from Abyss. Abyss is interesting to me. I saw him work a match on the IWA TV show a few weeks back and he looks good...but TNA keeps him out of the ring. Kash’s current story line is helping Abyss get over as a monster though...and that’s a good thing. When this is all over I’d be interested in seeing Kash and Abyss join the tag division.


America’s Most Wanted vs. Simon Diamond and Johnny Swinger

There’s a funny story here that I can’t at all prove is true. I believe the plan was to bring in the top teams around the indys and have them job to AMW in tag title matches. First of all, I obviously love that idea. Guys like the Briscoe Brothers and the Backseat Boys have come in and done lower profile jobs in TNA before...so I don’t think they’d have a problem lining up talent. It’s probably worth it to most of them just to get the exposure...and if they put on a good show they may find another place to make some money in the middle of the week.

Enter Diamond and Swinger. These guys are obviously best known for their work in ECW, and they had worked for TNA twice before. They were brought in to job to AMW (just as I believe other teams would still be doing right now) and put on such a good match that TNA had to capitalize on it. There was really no way TNA could just move on when they struck gold their first time out. I don’t know if we’ll ever see that idea come up again, but I’d imagine we will as AMW has to find something to do after this feud is over.

This match is a non-title match (which means Diamond and Swinger have a better than average shot at winning it). It’s also a “Rawhide Strap Match”. Translated that means there will be a leather strap tied to each rope and you can grab them and beat your opponents with them. This stems from a beatdown Diamond and Swinger did with...wait for it...leather straps.

Although that particular gimmick will probably hurt the overall flow of the match, this should still be a very good tag match as both teams have the tag formula down perfectly and have rocked the house in their previous matches.


Chris Sabin vs. Frankie Kazarian

This match is for Sabin’s X title. Sabin and Kazarian have had an interesting feud...and not exactly in a good way. Their first match was absolutely tremendous (it was the same week as the AMW/XXX cage match) but their subsequent matches haven’t even approached it in terms of quality. That being said...I do really like the way this feud has been booker. Sabin is a better heel champion than Styles is at this point...but I think most of that has to do with the politics of being the NWA Champion.

The way this feud has played out I would expect Kazarian to win the X title here. That doesn’t really bother me (even though I am a huge Sabin fan) but I can find more positives in leaving it on Sabin. Sabin still seems like the freshest of the two (and really the whole X division roster) even though he’s been getting such a big push...not to mention Sabin is just a more versatile and talented wrestler. I think we’ll finally see another real good match between the two here...when given time (like the first match) they really click well together.


AJ Styles vs. D-Lo Brown


This is a cage match for the NWA Title. The last cage match TNA put on rocked...and if you didn’t see it...the cage is TALL. I spent a lot of that match fearing for the safety of Elix Skipper. Given D-Lo’s recent penchant for highspots...I assume I’ll be fearing for his safety in this match.

I guess some could argue that it’s too soon to bust out the cage again...but it does make sense for two reasons:

1. You know it’s the blow-off to the feud. This is pretty important after staging a 2/3 falls match without a winner.

2. If you recall...when AJ and D-Lo started the feud one of the first things that they did was beat the hell out of each other...in the cage. It makes sense for it to come full circle. In that confrontation Vince Russo prevented D-Lo from hitting AJ with a frog splash off the top of the cage. I’d imagine we’ll be seeing that spot this time around.

Now...Styles is going to win but whether or not it’s clean is a different matter entirely. The point of the cage is to keep everyone out...and Watts went one better in barring Sonny Siaki, Trinity and Legend from ringside. He also decided to handcuff Russo to himself at ringside...so who knows if he’ll play a role (although the smart money says he will).

Styles needs this win...and he needs it clean. What’s going to kill me if the finish isn’t clean is the reasoning behind it. There’s no way Brown has a problem laying down clean here...so if it doesn’t happen it’s either Russo or Jarrett that made it so. I can’t even to begin what their motivation would be...but we’ll see.

This match is worth ordering the show for. Add to this the two other proven winners and a potentially fun 4 way match and it’s going to be worth 10 dollars. TNA put on a fun show last week without a lineup half this strong...so maybe they’re starting to get on a roll.

Vengeance was awesome, last week’s TNA was good, this week’s looks better and Pride’s best line-up in the history of Mixed Martial Arts is on Sunday. It’s a good time for Pay Per View...and a bad time for your wallet.


Also on the show we’ll see the advancements of the feuds that will become next week’s card (Daniels/Jarrett, Raven/Douglas and probably Skipper vs. the world) as well as another Three Live Crew video and another Mad Mikey video. Last week they gave the impression that Mikey would return this week...but that seems to have been put off for whatever reason.



Current Feuds

In this section we’ll take a look at all the feuds currently running through TNA. We’ll see where they’ve been, where they’re going and how it should end.

Elix Skipper vs. Jerry Lynn

I was left with the impression last week that Skipper and Lynn were only just beginning. Since they aren’t pushing Lynn up to the heavyweight division anytime soon (Styles and Daniels are filling those slots) he should be used to put over X division talent. Last week Lynn beat him twice...but I think we’ll see Skipper get ahead eventually. This is in the very early stages...but if done right could really put some credibility on Skipper as he advances through the X division towards an inevitable title run. The only problem I have with it is...Skipper HAD credibility coming off of all those awesome XXX matches. Oh well...the matches should be good.


Jeff Jarrett vs. Christopher Daniels

This is another feud that started last week. I’d expect to see this run for the next month at least (it all really depends on Daniels’ Japan schedule). In the end, Jarrett always wins...but we’ll see Daniels get out to a big lead first. I’ve heard Jarrett say (prior to Daniels becoming a TNA regular) that the Fallen Angel was the guy he most wanted to have in TNA...so I really think we’re going to see Daniels get a huge push here. The matches...once again...should be real good.


Raven vs. Shane Douglas

This has been one of the best booked feuds I’ve seen in a while. You have to give Raven credit for this...from Raven/Dream to Raven/Sandman to Raven/Jarrett to Raven/Douglas...when he has input his feuds are always memorable. Douglas has been pinning Raven in matches that are far more entertaining than I thought they’d be. The problem here is that I don’t know how good a one on one match between the two can be. The crowd heat should be off the charts though, as Raven continues to get over...all while putting over Douglas. This is what a well booked feud that helps everyone looks like. We’re not too far away from Raven winning the blow-off...but the question remains: Who is the man who keeps beating up Raven (I’ve heard it’s the debuting Bull Buchanan...but...you know...I’m on the outside) and what role will he play?


America’s Most Wanted vs. Diamond and Swinger

As I discussed earlier this feud seems to have been a last minute decision, but it’s been a good one. I’d expect that we’ll see the blow-off in just a couple weeks, with AMW going over. I think the window on Diamond and Swinger actually winning the tag titles has closed now that this week’s match is non-title...but they probably will win this week nonetheless.


Chris Sabin vs. Frankie Kazarian

I believe that this week will probably be the blow-off...but I couldn’t tell you whose going to win. They could try dragging it out another couple of weeks but I don’t see the point. Borash mentioned that there will be an X division tournament coming up soon so these guys may be going in a completely new direction shortly. There is the matter of the #1 contenders match this week as well. Someone has to win here so that the next person can step up. I’d put my money on Sabin...but I could be totally wrong.


AJ Styles vs. D-Lo Brown

The blow-off is this weak. Styles is going to win. The match will rock. Order the show.



Notes from the INSIDE

*All quotes taken from Jeremy Borash’s From the Inside column found weekly at nwatna.com

“Representatives of a major video game company were in attendance last Wednesday night and were said to be very impressed with the program. Nearly every week, we seem to be entertaining potential business partners at our events, which is a clear indicator on how good the future looks for our company.”

1. I hope it’s AKI.

2. Get me this friggin game announcement already...and while we’re at it...stop telling us how close you are to video games and DVDs and don’t say ANYTHING until you’re ready to announce it.

“Look for more streaming media available on the net from TNA very soon. We are working on getting Xplosion available for free over the internet.”

That sounds like a great idea. Make it so.

”You will be able to see many of the top stars of TNA coming to Buffalo, NY for a show in conjunction with the Bisons baseball team later in the month. More on this next week.”

Oh yeah. As someone who resides in a suburb of Buffalo...I’m ALL OVER IT. From what I can gather from my local wrestling radio show we’re looking at a 5 match card with 3 crappy non-TNA related matches and then AJ Styles vs. Kid Kash and Jeff Jarrett vs. Raven. It’s going to take place after a Bisons game the day after my birthday (August 24th for the show) and it’s 15 bucks for a seat on the field and a ticket to the meet and greet afterwards. If there are any TNA fans in the Western New York area I suggest attending just to show JJ what we showed Paul Heyman back in the ECW days: Buffalo is a great place to make money. Now...I know TNA doesn’t travel...but on the off chance that they do one day I want Buffalo on the very top of their list of places they can make money. The only potential problem is that the show is the same day as SummerSlam. The game is at like 12:30 though, so if you live close you could make both.


”Look for new merchandise for 3 Live Krew and Trinity in the upcoming weeks.”

Trinity is a heel and I’m still waiting for my “You can’t handle the Truth” T-shirt dammit. They blew it on the Truth merchandise...and to a lesser extent they blew it on the XXX merchandise.




Random Notes

On September 10th TNA will be offering a 1 cent pay per view in place of their actual show (the fair is in town. Boy...that can’t help a companies image). In any event...this is a GREAT idea. If they cut together a best of show they could deliver the show of the year for only 1 penny. Prediction: It’s the most purchased TNA show ever. If used even remotely right it should bring in some more buys the following weeks as well. This is really turning a negative into a positive and a really clever way to get some TV exposure without being on TV.


Ron Killings continues to be the most underused person on the roster...and strangely B.G. James (while getting the same exact job as Killings) continues to be the mot overused person on the roster.


If I was starting a wrestling promotion the first two people I would call would be Shelton Benjamin and Chris Sabin. Benjamin is the real deal, and Sabin is the next AJ Styles.


If your in the Nashville area and want to work for TNA head over to nwatna.com and check out their intern positions that are available. I’ve crunched the numbers in my head and the weekly drive from Buffalo to Nashville to do an internship probably wouldn’t work out.


Well...I’ve run out of things to talk about...but I’ll try it again next week. Unfortunately I don’t have any cool WCW stories to throw in.

Instead I have this:



Until next week...find me at [email protected]




 

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