NWA Hard Times
January 24, 2020
Hard Times? You don’t know what hard times are daddy. Hard times are when the textile workers around this country are out of work, they got 4 or 5 kids and can’t pay their wages, can’t buy their food. Hard times are when the auto workers are out of work and they tell ‘em go home. And hard times are when a man has worked at a job for thirty years, thirty years, and they give him a watch, kick him in the butt and say “hey a computer took your place, daddy”, that’s hard times! That’s hard times! – Dusty Rhodes
We’re in Atlanta, Georgia. Hosts are Joe Galli & Stu Bennett. The first four matches are TV title tournament bouts. They have very short time limits (6 minutes!). The winners moving on to semi-finals later in the night.
Trevor Murdoch vs. Question Mark
Question Mark is so low rent. I get they’re aiming to recreate shitty 80s studio wrestling but being nostalgic for the mediocre bits of the product is something I don’t understand. Murdoch used to be quite good but he’s in terrible condition now. At least two fat wrestlers having a bad three-minute match brings back memories of 80s wrestling.
Final Rating: DUD
Zicky Dice vs. Dan Maff
Maff is a guy that should have gotten a run somewhere. I’m aware he had a four year run in ROH before getting cancelled in 2005 by Homicide but plenty of other guys have done bad things and gotten more chances. He’s been stuck in the regionals ever since. At 43 years old he’s probably not going to set the world on fire anymore. Dice is ideal for this product. He’s mostly character and he would not fit in to the vast majority of modern promotions. WWE could probably use him but he’d need to improve his conditioning. Maff squashes him.
Final Rating: *
Matt Cross vs. Ricky Starks
This is a huge improvement. Starks is very underrated and has all the tools. He’s just been hidden away in the shadows, not allowing his personality to get over. In recent months he seems to have opened up and he looks more confident. Cross is a good opponent too. A capable and innovative veteran. The level of athleticism is like watching a different sport, rather than a different promotion. They don’t overdo it either, knowing they’ve only got five minutes, and run a lot of clever misses before one finisher ends it.
Final Rating: ***
Tim Storm is out to address his match with Ken Anderson but apparently Ken isn’t here. Oh good! That’s a bonus. Stu Bennett announces the next PPV; 2020 Crockett Cup in April.
NWA World Tag Team Championship
Rock N’ Roll Express (c) vs. The Wild Cards vs. Eli Drake & James Storm
Giving RNR their 8th NWA tag belts was a classy move. They can still go!
There are a lot of moving parts here with the Wild Cards bringing valets and three teams to keep an eye on. Latimer’s presence drags the core of the match down unfortunately. He’s a dreadful wrestler. His timing is bad, his moves are boring and his selling is all over the place. Ricky Morton hits a Destroyer before being pinned by Drake. This was fine, unless Bram was in the ring. Eli suggests the team name of “Beer Muscles” afterwards. My beer muscle is enormous.
Final Rating: *3/4
NWA Women’s World Championship
Allysin Kay (c) vs. Thunder Rosa
I’ve never really rated Kay but she can be in good matches given the right opponent. Thunder Rosa is starting to get low key good. She started her wrestling career late and took a while to settle in but she looks very comfortable in the ring now. The positive of NWA having an old school mentality is they seem to want to enforce body part selling. So if Kay gets her arm worked over then it actually has an effect on everything she does and changes the match accordingly. Allysin occasionally fluffs her lines. The counter of the diving Codebreaker is….nothing really. She does maintain the selling though, which is the central part of the match. Her being unable to hook a leg on pinfalls, especially off her finisher, is integral to Rosa not losing. Kay makes it clear she can power out of most moves and it’s only the arm problem that slows her down.
Rosa ties Kay up and when he can’t get the submission just dumps her on her neck for the pin. Thunder Rosa is the first Mexican woman to win this belt. This was good old school stuff of working the body part and it meaning something.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Video Control gives us a recap of Nick Aldis invading ROH to mess with Marty Scurll.
Aldis certainly dresses like a champion. The NWA vs. ROH feud is an interesting one. NWA very clearly the heels in Ring of Honor territory and yet Scurll is over as a babyface here. Speaking of Scurll; he’s here. Aldis shows up too and they have a spot of verbal.
The next two matches are semi-finals in the TV title tournament.
Dan Maff vs. Trevor Murdoch
Murdoch looks a lot better now he’s in there with another big tough lad. So they slug it out. Maff has a lot of good spots but he still can’t do a convincing stomp in his 40s. Should probably give up on that one. Maff gets distracted and Murdoch catches him with the diving bulldog. The state of Murdoch’s chest after Maff laid in the chops here. Beautiful damage.
Final Rating: **1/4
Tim Storm vs. Ricky Starks
Storm got a bye thanks to Ken Anderson being injured. Storm dominates here. He’s the favourite at this stage to win the whole thing, having been a former world’s champion. They do a good job of making Starks’ comeback make sense and he counters out of the Perfect Storm into a crucifix and Storm is pinned clean. Very good five-minute sprint. Starks delivers again.
Final Rating: ***
NWA National Championship
Aron Stevens (c) vs. Scott Steiner
Remember when Sandow left WWE and everyone thought he’d set the indies on fire and now he’s out here doing a comedy karate gimmick after trying to be an actor for 3 years? Steiner is now 57 years old and looks it. Stevens seems to have little to no ambition when it comes to having a good match and while that makes him stand out it’s not in a good way. This match is absolutely fucking awful. Question Mark runs in for the DQ and Stevens bails while Steiner cripples Mark in the Steiner Recliner. Lots of heat on this but honestly it’s the worst match I’ve seen this year.
Final Rating: -*
NWA World Championship
Nick Aldis (c) vs. Flip Gordon
This is part of the continuing NWA vs. ROH angle. If Aldis wins he gets to call the shots on his continued involvement with ROH. Aldis is a pretty dull worker most of the time but NWA allows him to tell stories. They do a great job with the dive spot here. The ref stops Flip from doing one, leans outside to check on Aldis and Flip flips over the ref. It’s a clever way of playing with the rules and still delivering. I’ve always preferred the mentality of bending the rules rather than outright breaking them. Too many heels cheat in front of the referee nowadays, for example.
The trouble with this match is that, for a title match, it lacks any kind of urgency and just seems to exist to fill time until Aldis vs. Scurll. Obviously Flip isn’t winning here but at least make me think he is. The trouble with wrestling Aldis is his very deliberate style and Flip is a very quick wrestler. The contrast should lead to a lot of near falls but instead Flip finds himself waiting for Aldis all the time. Nick looks confused half the time. It’s a shame for Flip who has an incredible moveset but is constantly looking over his shoulder to make sure Aldis is where he’s supposed to be. The result is a very safe looking match that Aldis wins by blocking a victory roll into the pin.
Final Rating: ***1/4
NWA TV Championship
Trevor Murdoch vs. Ricky Starks
This has been an odd tournament and the time limits have forced the pace of every match.
Now the title is on the line there’s no time limit so they can get stuck in. This allows Starks can sell the abuse he’s receiving. The spot into the ring steps is a good one but the bump face first onto the floor is even better. Murdoch doesn’t lean heel but his size advantage allows him to naturally create the underdog vibe for Starks. Some of his moves; like a vicious lariat, are designed to create that tone to the match. Starks mounts a comeback and captures the title to a good reaction. This was fine but they deliberately used the time to tell the story of how Starks was hurt but overcame the odds rather than had an outright great main event.
Final Rating: **3/4
The NWA TV show has pros and cons for me. One of the major cons is that I’ve seen this kind of TV show before, the first time around, so the old school vibe doesn’t really connect with me. That said they do a lot of things that I miss from wrestling. More often than not relating to making spots mean something and having rule breaking hidden from view. The kind of logic backbone that’s sadly missing from the modern product. However the standard of wrestling often suffers from the studio setting and while the crowd is hot the quality is a deal breaker for me. That said, it also feels like a change of pace compared to normal shows so if I was going to review the kind of volume of shows that Larry Csonka or Ian Hamilton did, I would definitely watch this as the old “palette cleanser”.