Well, I can’t find that darn Nitro tape… I’m also without the Internet at the time of this writing, as was documented in my 11/12/2003 TNA recap – so what better way to kill time than to start at the beginning of my current favorite little group from Tennessee.
Dear GOD! They had PYRO at the beginning??? I’d completely forgotten. Pyro costs money. JEREMY BORASH stands in the ring all alone – ready to introduce some people. We start with DON WEST, who’s ready to make a little history. He wants to bring out the most influential man in wrestling – OKLAHOMA! Ferrera’s replaced the cowboy hat and bell’s palsy with dreadlocks. He’s all about the TNA, and he doesn’t mean Total Nonstop Action, yuk yuk. He sends it over to the professor of vanilla – MIKE TENAY. Tenay talks about respecting history, and states they’ve got some legends backstage. But not only will they be respecting history, they’ll be making some history by crowing a new champion in the Gauntlet For The Gold! 2 guys start, and every 90 seconds someone new makes their way from the back. You can eliminate them by throwing them over the top, or getting a pinfall or submission. The final two guys then wrestle a regular match, and the winner of that is the new champion of the world. Ferrara says this is just like it is in real life – every man for himself.
Back to the ring – Borash is still standing around, ready to introduce the legends. We’re greeted by HARLEY RACE (without Vader), DORY FUNK JR., JACKIE FARGO, BOB ARMSTRONG, CORSECA JOE, SARA LEE, BILL BEHRENS, and RICKY STEAMBOAT. Steamboat carries the NWA World Title with him while Tenay has an orgasm. Steamboat remembers in 1989 when he won the World Title – and says that it meant more to him than any other championship he won in his lifetime. Steamboat compares it to the Stanley Cup, the Super Bowl, the World Series, and Wimbledon. Tonight, 20 lucky guys are getting a chance to win the World Title. Ferrara suggests Harley’s eyeballing the belt. Steamboat says he’s going to referee the match once it’s down to 2 guys, and a this point, Tenay can’t handle himself any longer – spraying not only his shorts own, but letting loose his translucent man goo all over those fans who were “smart” enough to pay for front row seats. TRIPLE J’s decided this segment has gone long enough without him and comes out. Jarrett calls the Gauntlet the biggest load of crap he’s ever heard about. He asks Steamboat if he won the World Title in a stupid battle royal? What about Dory’s title in 1902? (Hah!) Jarrett says he wins it man to man, and Fargo tells him to kiss his ass. Based on some of the stories I’ve heard about Fargo – no doubt that was a shoot, wink wink. Fargo struts and Tenay can’t contain himself. Fargo says if he wants to prove himself – he’s going to book Jeff Jarrett as the #1 entrant in the Gauntlet. Jarrett says that’s fine, he’ll kick 19 other asses and walk out the champion. KEN SHAMROCK with his wild sideburns walks out on stage – and agrees the battle royal concept sucks. GEE YOU GUYS MAKE ME WANT TO SEE THE MATCH… Shamrock says that while Jarrett might throw out 18 guys, he’s not whipping the 19th guy…him! Ferrara: “It’s on like neckbone.” The ghost of Stevie Ray haunts us all. (He’s not dead ya twit!) From the crowd, SCOTT HALL walks down and the fans go NUTS! His music is fantastic – and he looks like a STAR. That right there is STILL one of the coolest moments in TNA history. Hall: “Hey yo!” Hall throws in his 2 cents – stating the battle royal sucks. Who in the hell decided THAT was a good way to hype their friggin’ money match? I love the Gauntlet! Hall says that Shamrock and Jarrett should focus their attention on just one guy – and that’s Scott Hall. Jarrett tells everyone to stick it, and threatens Jackie Fargo.
We meet GOLDILOCKS backstage for the first time, and I don’t care what anyone else says about her backstage attitude or whatever – her on screen presence is phenomenal and she has great interviewing skills. She interviews PUPPET THE PSYCHO DWARF. Puppet says the day he came out of his momma, the doctor’s just stopped and stared. Today, he’s going to prove that midgets are the true stars of the sport, and he wants to see some midget blood! Meanwhile, TRIPLE J throws a shit fit in the background.
AJ STYLES, LO KI, and JERRY LYNN vs. THE FLYING ELVIS’
THE LEGENDS are backstage, and don’t seem thrilled with the idea of Elvis impersonators in wrestling. Tenay suggests that these guys will be what the X division is all about – and we’ll learn a whole lot more about that belt in future weeks no doubt. Styles, Ki, and Lynn offer the hand of friendship but get blown off. Foolishly, they turn their backs and the Elvis’ attack! Pier 9000 brawl. The faces clear the ring – and Lynn flies with a plancha to the outside. In the ring, Yang and Styles, and Styles hits a powerslam on Yang for 2. Yang elevates Styles and follows with a leg lariat for 2. Yang tries a suplex, but Styles catches him in mid-move with a crossbody block and tags in Lynn. Lynn hits a backbreaker on Yang for 2. Next week, Lynn, Psychosis, AJ Styles, and Lo Ki for the X Title! Lynn hits the tornado DDT, but Yang is right back on his feet and hits the enzuigiri! To the corner, Yang hits a moonsault on Lynn’s chest and in comes Siaki. Siaki misses a standing somersault legdrop, and Lynn follows with a tilt-a-whirl rana! Into a bulldog, Lynn gets 2. Lo Ki gets in some stiff chops, but is caught with a neckbreaker from Siaki for 2. Ki comes back with a kick to the head of Siaki – but Siaki blocks the follow up and hits a backbreaker for 2! Death Valley Driver is good – and Estrada enters with a split legged moonsault for 2! Lo Ki misses a blind charge and hits the turnbuckle. Estrada puts him up top and plants him with a neckbreaker off the top! That’s followed by a STANDING SHOOTING STAR PRESS for 2!!! Lo Ki comes back with the kicks and hits the Buzzsaw kick to take Estrada out. Styles is back in – and Yang misses a crossbody. Styles doesn’t miss his flying Jalapeno or Scorpion Death Drop! That’s a 2. Styles tries a German suplex – but Yang lands on his feet and hits a flying leg attack for 2!!! Lo Ki knocks Yang out to the floor with a Tidal Crush, but doesn’t count for Estrada hitting a sitdown powerbomb for 2! Lynn rushes in with a Cradle Piledriver – but Siaki comes in with the Siakalypse! Styles comes in and dropkicks Yang – holding him hostage for Ki! Ki tries his backspring kick – but Yang moves and he hits Styles! Estrada uses a missile dropkick to take out Ki, and Yang hits the Yang Time on Styles for 3!!! (6:25) ***1/2 Holy shit that was spot-tastic! Man alive, those guys used to MOVE! Kinda weird to see Styles curtain jerking AND jobbing.
HOLLYWOOD vs. TEO
Teo is the world’s smallest extreme athlete. Teo hits some sort of crossbody thing and chops away on Hollywood. He runs up the corner and drops his head on the crotch of Hollywood. On the second rope – rug muncher/10-punch count-a-long. Hollywood comes back with a powerslamfor 2. Teo with a rollup…and we have 2. Hollywood with a clothesline, and…well, I’ll let Ferrara. “Going all the way up to the bottom rope!!! WHOA – the top rope!” Froggy splash, 1, 2, Teo kicks out! Teo comes back with a series of right hands and hits a Russian legsweep before heading up to the top. Swanton, 1, 2, 3! (2:50) * That was fun for what it was, but I can’t thank them ENOUGH for not keeping these guys around.
TNA SKANKS dance in cages while Tenay plugs NWATNA.com.
In the ring, DON WEST and ED FERRARA are standing around. Ferrara can’t wait for next week’s Lingerie Battle Royal – ANOTHER brilliant idea. My god this place has changed. So they decide to introduce the women now. FRANCINE, MISS JOANIE (who is not Chyna), SHANNON (who was Daffney in WCW), ALEXIS LAREE (since signed a WWE contract), a woman whose name sounds like SANDRA?, ERIN, ELEKTRA (ew), TAYLOR VAUGHN, and finally THERESA TYLER. And only ONE of these ladies can be Miss TNA! Francine gets a microphone and says that none of the women there deserve to be in the same ring as her, because none compare. She wants to know what any of them have done for the wrestling business? Elektra gets on the mic and says this is a new company, and doesn’t hear “Extreme” in the company – and suggests that Francine single handedly bankrupted ECW. A catfight erupts and Francine tears off the top of Elektra. Don West is there with a coat to cover her chest in short order. Francine says nobody’s gonna see her in her lingerie – as she’s going to be crowned the first ever Miss TNA. West shakes his head a lot while Ferrara cops a feel.
In the back, GOLDILOCKS stands with MORTIMER PLUMTREE. Mortimer says he’s lived a tormented life – but now his tormenters are his servents. They don’t speak unless he allows them to, and now he calls upon them to make their presence known. They are…The Johnsons. We don’t see them. However, I bet that changes in short order.
THE JOHNSONS (with Mortimer Plumtree) vs. JAMES STORM and PSYCHOSIS
The Johnsons, as you might remember, were supposed to be wrestling penises – but they’re nothing more than a couple of guys in yellowish bodysuits. It sure got the Internet in a big huff at the time though didn’t it? Psychosis and…well, one of the Conquistadore look-a-likes start. Even Tenay doesn’t know. He hits a snap suplex for 2. Psychosis comes back with a spinning heel kick, and hits the other with an enzuigiri. In comes Storm with a missile dropkick off the top! RYAN SHAMROCK wanders down to ringside, know known as Alicia apparently. Both Johnsons take a conference call with Plumtree on the floor while Alicia looks on. Back in comes a Johnson against Storm. He drives a knee to the midsection and armdrags Storm. A clothesline sends Storm over the top – but he hangs on and skins the cat. Back in, he bulldogs a Johnson. Psychosis chops away at the Johnson – but the other one comes in and pulls Psychosis down by his hair. Double flapjack drive him down hard. Overhead release suplex from one of the Johnsons hits – and they follow with a double team clothesline. One of ‘em tries a powerbomb, but Psychosis took a lesson from Billy Kidman and hits an X-Factor on the way down! Storm takes the hot tag and hits a rana! The other one takes a superkick. They attempt a double team whip to the middle of the ring – but the Johnsons reverse and send Storm and Psychosis into eachother. Double team overhead uranage suplexes hit each man – but Storm recovers enough to roll one of them up for 1. Storm goes to the second rope and tries a tornado DDT, but gets shoved off. Plumtree then hooks the leg of Storm long enough to distract him, and the Johnson hits a TKO for 3. (4:49) *1/2 Perhaps Storm would have done better with a different tag-team partner, neh? After the match, Alicia confronts SLICK JOHNSON, who we TRUST is no relation to Rod and Richard. He hands her a wad of bills, and she leaves him alone. Who cares, let’s move on.
In the back, GOLDILOCKS bumps into THE DUPPS, and FLUFF DUPP, who happens to be Bo and Stan’s girlfriend. They start to drink beer, but they’re stopped and told beer drinking is unacceptable in TNA. Goldilocks gets away from them as quickly as possible.
JEREMY BORASH wastes time by bringing out HERMIE SADLER and STERLING MARLIN. Tenay compares Sterling to the NWA World Champion, as far as NASCAR goes. They talk about a bunch of racing stuff that nobody outside of the Southern United States gives a fuck about, at which point K-KRUSH mercifully interrupts. He says watching these damn race car drivers makes him sick to his stomach. “You guys call yourselves athletes?” Hah! “Your kind drive your car around in a circle, in the left handed position. My kind, we dunk basketballs, we throw touchdowns, we run for touchdowns, we do armlocks, we do leg drops, my grandmother could do what you do.” AMEN BROTHER!!!! Hermie tells Krush to shut up, and Tenay’s erection is back! Hermie points out all the NASCAR fans in Alabama. Yeah…they would be in Alabama. “Damn you, and damn Alabama, I’m gonna introduce you to professional wrestling.” BRIAN LAWLER rushes the ring before Krush can do anything exciting and gives him an atomic drop followed by a superkick. NOW Hermie and Sterling have balls, and throw him over the top, where Krush takes a MANSIZED bump, not pausing on the way down and landing right on his back! Lawler suggests Krush’s kind pick on his kind. “Me and you, I’m challenging you, the G Master wants you in the ring next week.” BLACK SHIRT SECURITY hauls Krush to the back, while Lawler dances.
To the back! TRIPLE J is choking out JACKIE FARGO. Yeah, that’s it…
CHRISTIAN YORK and JOEY MATTHEWS vs. THE DUPPS (with Fluff Dupp)
The Dupps clear the ring to start. Matthews gets back in, and flapjacked by the cousins. York gets on the apron – springboards in, and hits a dual dropkick! York and Matthews hit a double team suplex on Stan for 2. Stan comes back with a full nelson slam on Matthews! Bo gets in, and slaps Matthews a bunch. He’s likely setting him up to squeal like a pig… Big boot by Bo, and a big splash gets 2. In comes Stan who attempts a backslide, but Matthews counters with the Virginia Necktie! Tags on both ends, and we have a hot tag to York at the 2 minute mark. He tries a sunset flip on Bo – Bo sits down, but York moves and he hits nothing. Into the corner, 10 punch count-a-long, Stan tries to break it up, but takes a jumping back elbow! Bo meets a fireman’s carry slam followed by a Cutting Edge for 2! Matthews hits a Cactus Clothesline on Stan while York nails a tornado DDT on Bo! York heads up to the top, but Fluff is on the apron to cut him off, and crotches him. York falls in, Bo cradles, and scores the pinfall. (3:40) 1/4* Great way to start guys, by booking the EXACT same finish 2 matches in a row – and jobbing the far more talented team to a one note gimmick, again in both instances. Bo does his best Bushwhackers impression after the match.
Here’s a look at more things that aren’t wrestling! Toby Keith won a CMA, and as a result we get to watch the music video. Yeesh.
Back to the arena, where TOBY KEITH is there live. And we get subjected to MORE of this Southern crap. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not bad, and in a non-wrestling program perhaps I wouldn’t mind his appearance – but this is just SO pathetic for a first ever show. Once again though, I’m saved, this time in the form of TRIPLE J who takes exception to this on a wrestling program, walking right by and shoving Toby out of the way in the middle of the song which is HILARIOUS. I’ll give ‘em credit though, because the building pops HUGE for Toby getting ready to kick Jarrett’s ass, and nearly boos Jeff out of the building for stating nobody’s interested in hearing him sing. “Get your ass out of here, I’ve got a World Title to win.”
GAUNTLET FOR THE GOLD
BUFF BAGWELL joins Jarrett as the #2 entrant. Hey, I remember when these guys were part of the Final 8 in the 32-man tournament to crown a WCW champion. Booker T was jobbed in the first round while Madusa got 3 matches. That tournament sucked. Bagwell hits a neckbreaker on Jarrett and clotheslines him when he gets up. Bagwell goes to dump Jarrett, but can’t, so he opts to send him face first into the turnbuckle instead. The Blockbuster is set up…and it hits! He then charges Jarrett like a tool, and gets dumped. (1:03) Later Marcus! #3 is LASH LEROUX, and Tenay makes a rare error, calling Lash the 1998 WCW Rookie Of The Year, when in fact it was 1999. Don’t ask ME why I remember that stuff, I just do. He’s also no longer a Cajunweight, having put on about 30 pounds. Jarrett tosses him out through the middle rope with ease, brings him back in, hits a Stroke, and dumps him. (2:29) I used to like Lash, but after watching that I’m attempting to remember why. NORMAN SMILEY is the next WCW reject to join us, and promptly gives us the wiggle. Man, he used to tease us for 10 minutes before he’d do that. Sellout. Norman nails Jarrett with his windup slam, and goes to smack that bitch up! Instead, he takes a lowblow, a Stroke, and says goodnight. (4:04)APOLO is next – and he’s a 6 time IWA World Champion, and 4 time IWA Tag-Team Champion. With Uncle Zebekiah in charge these days, gotta wonder how long it’ll be before he comes back? Apolo hits a neckbreaker, goes to dump Jarrett, but Superman hangs on. Apolo tries again, but this time he sends Jarrett through the middle. Jarrett hangs on anyway. He goes for a gorilla press on Jeff, but at this point K-KRUSH hits the ring and saves the day at #6. Krush hits an axekick on Apolo and stomps away. Apolo comes back with a clothesline on Krush, so Jarrett rejoins the attack and gets some shots in. 10 punch count-a-long on Apolo from Krush, and Jarrett joins him to try to dump him. SLASH is #7, and is joined by THE LOUNGE SINGER. Apolo backdrops Slash and hits a jumping DDT. Gorilla press on Slash is attempted, but Jarrett saves and hits a vertical suplex on Apolo. Slash drops some elbows, and #8 joins us in the form of DEL RIOS, looking EXACTLY like Scott Steiner, down to the Superman “S” on the back of his tights. Ferrara: “He’s got a bit of a familiar look, but I can’t place it.” Tenay: “I just told you, it’s Del Rios, I explained his background.” Ferrara: “Yeah…that must be it.” Rios goes for an overhead belly to belly on Slash, and Slash uses the most unique counter to that I’ve ever seen by biting the forehead. Krush and Jarrett try to dump Apolo while Rios hits an overhead belly to belly on Slash. #9 is JUSTICE, who I’ve never heard of, though to be quite honest, he bears a resemblance to Abyss – and hits a Black Hole Slam to further make me question it. Watching him move about, I’m fairly certain but I don’t have Internet access at the time of this writing to actually go and confirm it, so we’ll let it go. KONNAN is in at #10 and hits the Rolling Thunder clothesline on Slash. A second one hits Del Rios. Justice no sells the clothesline, but not a jawbreaker – and I’m 100% certain now that Justice = Abyss just based on his selling. JOEL GERTNER comes out instead of #11, having lost a ton of weight. “Well, well, well… I chase anything in a skirt, and I get right up in that dress. I’m gonna be with 5 girls in Huntsville, ‘cause I don’t settle for less. I’m gonna tear up that hotel room, and make the bed sheets a mess. But first, I got some business with the Rainbow Express. So while all you girls are thinking, about drinkin’ a jug of joy juice, let me introduce, and all you clowns get your asses ready, for the man they call BRUCE!” LENNY accompanies him, having dumped Lodi I assume. Bruce gets in, and hammers any man that walks. Apolo takes exception and takes him down. RICK STEINER hits the ring at #12. Steiner takes out EVERYONE with clotheslines, and makes Del Rios his target. Heh. Slash gets dumped by Steiner’s overhead belly to belly. (16:33) Justice takes a powerslam, and gets dumped on a Steinerline. (16:50) Jarrett takes a backdrop from Steiner, and gets choked out on the ropes. MALICE, who is The Wall having dropped 100 pounds and taken up heroin is #13. Mitchell accompanies him as well, double dipping in the Gauntlet. Rios, Bruce, and Konnan take quick chokeslams from Malice. K-Krush takes one soon after. Back to Bruce, he’s dumped by Malice. (18:10) Krush is next. (18:15) Del Rios is right behind. (18:20) And finally Konnan. (18:31) Well, that thins things out a little bit. Steiner takes some shots at Malice, but Malice ducks a charge, and pulls down the rope, leaving Steiner to tumble over the top. (18:45) We’re left with Apolo, Jarrett, and Malice. The heels attempt to dump Apolo, because HEAVEN FORBID Malice start chokeslamming Jarrett. SCOTT HALL is #14, and now the crowd really wakes up! Scott Hall takes both heels out, and goes to work on Jarrett. Apolo superkicks Malice while Hall gives Jarrett the Outsiders Edge!!! Malice tries to dump Apolo, but Scott Hall stops that, and turns back to Jarrett. TOBY KEITH comes down at Scott Hall’s urging, and gives Jarrett a vertical suplex!!! Together with Hall, they dump Jarrett!!!!!! (21:20) I guess Toby was #15, because nobody answered that call, and Toby eliminates himself. (21:25)CHRIS HARRIS makes his TNA debut at #16, though it’s less than spectacular mostly because nobody knows who the hell he is. Harris hits Apolo with a Thesz Press, and GANGREL rushes out before his cue. He attempts to dump Scott Hall, but you and I both know that ain’t happening. DEVON STORM is #17, and hits a front suplex on Harris. Scott Hall and Devon Storm start chopping people for kicks. Harris doesn’t take kindly to Storm’s chops – and starts to work away with a series of his own. Scott Hall sits on the top turnbuckle, watching the action. #18 is STEVE CORINO who hits a running kneelift to Harris. Malice almost gets dumped, but Mitchell stops that, and shoves Malice back in. Ring is getting cluttered again. Devon Storm superkicks Scott Hall while we’re joined by #19 KEN SHAMROCK. Shamrock powerslams Harris and tries to attack Malice, getting powerslammed for his trouble. BRIAN LAWLER is #20, rounding out the gauntlet. Lawler dumps Harris immediately. (29:10) Devon Storm (29:16) and Gangrel (29:18) are right behind that. Lawler and Corino duke it out – and a clothesline ends Corino’s night. (29:43) Lawler’s momentum quickly ends with a chokeslam from Malice. Shamrock pounces on the fallen Lawler and throws him over. (30:16) Malice tries to chokeslam Apolo and Scott Hall at the same time but they block it. Apolo charges, but gets backdropped. (30:37) Scott Hall goes for an Outsiders Edge on Malice, but Malice turns it into a backdrop instead – sending him out and taking the crowd a little out of it. (30:55)
MALICE (with The Lounge Singer) vs. KEN SHAMROCK (for the NWA world heavyweight title)
RICKY STEAMBOAT immediately hits the ring to referee this match. Malice hits a big boot to start and rakes Shamrock’s eyes. Malice hits a sideslam for 2! Malice connects with a vertical suplex for 2. Shamrock is sent headfirst to the turnbuckle, but comes back with a sunset flip that does nothing. Malice tries a chokeslam, but it’s stopped in mid-air and turned into an armbar! Malice fights it while Steamboat gets in close to see if he wants to give up. Cross armbreaker is fully applied now – and Malice is fighting. The fans chant “GIVE UP!” but Malice breaks the hold by hitting the ropes. Malice gets up and delivers a headbutt. A big boot is stopped and turned into an anklelock from Shamrock! Malice crawls with everything he’s got and barely makes the ropes. Shamrock pulls him back to the middle of the ring again, and NOW he’s in trouble. Malice crawls and crawls, but the ropes look so far off. Finally, in a last ditch effort, Malice gets the ropes, and Steamboat insists he breaks. Shamrock uses his 4 seconds – and gets into Steamboat’s face. Shamrock kicks away at the leg of Malice and chokes him out on the top rope while the fans chant “LET’S GO SHAMROCK!” Malice gets a big boot – and goes for the chokeslam! Shamrock turns it in the middle of the move to a belly to belly suplex, goes for the pin, 1, 2, 3!!! (5:47) The gauntlet and this match together gets *** from me, while fireworks celebrate the win from Shamrock. Shamrock shakes hands with everyone in sight. Ferrara: “Getting into a fight with Ken Shamrock is like running in the special Olympics, you’ve got to be retarded to do it.” Controverial TNA moment #1 of many. Tenay chews him out for his stupidity.
TRIPLE J returns and says that this match was the biggest hunk of crap he’s ever seen. He gets in the face of DORY FUNK JR. and HARLEY RACE, once again demanding to know how a World Title could change hands in a Battle Royal, and decks BOB ARMSTRONG. JACKIE FARGO and TOBY KEITH come storming out from the back – with Fargo ranting up a storm. Fargo promises to get someone to whip his ass next week, but Jarrett doesn’t want to wait. So Fargo makes the call to the bullpen, and in comes right-handed reliever SCOTT HALL to take over. They meet in the aisle and trade punches – but we are out of time!
Good effort, but this show came off so indy compared to what we get now. Granted everybody needs a little time to make their mistakes, and make their own stars, which we’re finally getting after 18 months of work.
#9 is JUSTICE, who I’ve never heard of, though to be quite honest, he bears a resemblance to Abyss – and hits a Black Hole Slam to further make me question it. Watching him move about, I’m fairly certain but I don’t have Internet access at the time of this writing to actually go and confirm it, so we’ll let it go.
ding ding ding we have a winner.
He wrestled as Prince Justice in Wildside and showed up on Worldwide a few times near the end of WCW.
The Wall having dropped 100 pounds and taken up heroin is #13.
Brian -- A few things: A) Not to back Jay Leno (since I'm more a Conan fan anyway), but at what period was David Letterman killing Leno in the ratings? B) Just remember Leno's lead-in is not Must See TV, it's your late local news.