NWA Hard Times, the second pay-per-view event of the NWA Powerrr era, airs this Friday night, January 24, live on Fite TV. The show features a tournament to crown a new NWA Television Champion, Nick Aldis in an inter-promotional match against Ring of Honor’s “Mercenary” Flip Gordon, and more. Most notably, ?THE QUESTION MARK? Here’s the complete card, as of publication.
NWA Hard Times Card:
1. Inter-promotional Match: NWA’s Nick Aldis vs. ROH’s Flip Gordon
2. NWA National Heavyweight Championship Match: Shooter Stevens (c) vs. Scott Steiner
3. NWA World Women’s Championship Match: Allysin Kay (c) vs. Thunder Rosa
4. Triple Threat Match for the NWA World Tag Team Championship: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (c) vs. The Wild Cards vs. Eli Drake and James Storm
5. NWA World Television Championship Tournament First Round Match: Tim Storm vs. Ken Anderson
6. NWA World Television Championship Tournament First Round Match: Zicky Dice vs. Dan Maff
7. NWA World Television Championship Tournament First Round Match: Ricky Starks vs. Matt Cross
8. NWA World Television Championship Tournament First Round Match: The Question Mark vs. Trevor Murdoch
9. NWA World Television Championship Tournament Semi-Finals Match: Winner of Storm/Anderson vs. Winner of Starks/Cross
10. NWA World Television Championship Tournament Semi-Finals Match: Winner of Dice/Maff vs. Winner of Question Mark/Murdoch
11. NWA World Television Championship Tournament Finals Match
If you haven’t been watching Powerrr (which you really should be doing, it’s only an hour long and uploaded for free on the National Wrestling Alliance’s YouTube channel), you’ll find everything you need to know below.
As mentioned, you can watch the event on Fite TV. Fite is available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android and iOS devices, computers (of course), and smart TVs.
The NWA Championship Pictures
One of the most interesting and unexpected aspects of Hard Times is that NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis won’t actually be defending his championship; instead, he’s in an “inter-promotional,” non-title match against Ring of Honor’s Flip Gordon.
You would’ve expected him to either defend against The Villain, Marty Scurll, who showed up to confront him at the end of the previous pay-per-view, Into The Fire. Scurll looked like the obvious next challenger, but Scurll never actually showed up to that set of tapings, multi-tasked trying to work multiple brands, and then re-signed with Ring of Honor for “WWE main roster money.” Aldis was left without a challenger, so he started showing up to Ring of Honor events and attacking people, trying to get Scurll’s attention. The champ attacked Gordon in one of the attacks, so Gordon stepped up to face him at Hard Times. And then Marty Scurll sent in a video message that was like, “see you at Hard Times, Nick!” So [shrug].
Aldis going over Gordon seems like a foregone conclusion, until you remember that Scurll could just as easily pop in to cost the champ the match and embarrass him. That’d be a pretty easy way to set up an actual title match between Aldis and Scurll down the road, if they’re going in that direction.
The women’s side of things is a little less clear. The women’s division in the NWA is a hard group of characters to follow; you’ve got Melina leading a pair of minions, with Thunder Rosa as the group’s top actual star, and Marti Belle serving as one of the Putties. Rosa gets cheered because she’s good, and because they aired a series of videos about her foray into mixed martial-arts that treated her like a hero. Meanwhile you’ve got World Women’s Champion Allysin Kay, who is kinda evil for bringing in her less talented friends and stocking her own division with people she knows she can emotionally control and beat, but who is also kind of good for being in contrast with Melina. Long story short, almost everyone in the women’s division is a shade of grey, in a more confusing than interesting way.
Regardless, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Thunder Rosa take the championship here. The division feels like it’s in transition from what they thought it’d be before Powerrr started to what they want it to be now. If Rosa doesn’t win, I’d expect Kay’s next challenger, presumably someone with name recognition we haven’t seen on Powerrr yet, to step up and challenge her afterward. Nick Aldis got that at Into The Fire with Scurll, and Ricky Morton got it on Powerrr with Scott Steiner, so it’s Kay’s turn, right?
The worst/best match of the night will certainly be the National Heavyweight Championship match between “third degree champion” Aron SHOOTER Stevens and Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner. On one side, you’ve got a guy who’d rather be an actor dressing up to play karate — karah, tay — while adding “stripes” to his championship belt, riding the coattails of a masked guy he imported from a fictional foreign country, and selling things in the most ridiculous way you’ve ever seen. On the other, you’ve got a 57-year old SCOTT STEINER. This should be terrible, and wonderful. I hope Scott Steiner does karate.
Just assume I’m pronouncing it properly.
Then there’s the NWA Tag Team Championship picture, with the champions being decided in a triple threat match. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, despite being in their sixties, managed to upset the previous champs, The Wild Cards, and then pin them again to retain at Into The Fire. The Cards have been working on themselves in the interim, however, with official positions in Nick Aldis’ STRICTLY BUSINESS faction, Thom Latimer coming clean about his relationship with Kamille, and Royce Isaacs also getting a girlfriend, only he can’t sleep with her yet, which causes him to lose. That faction’s got a really clear pecking order.
Rounding out the match is the hodgepodge team of Eli Drake and James Storm, who are both looking for direction after coming up short in their other endeavors. Drake offered this spot to Colt Cabana, who turned it down because he thought his clearly evil best friend Ken Anderson wasn’t going to turn on him. He almost immediately turned on him, so now Colt’s gotta sit in the back and watch James Storm take his spot and maybe win the Tag Team Championship.
The Television Title Tournament
The meat and potatoes of Hard Times will be the tournament to crown a new NWA Television Champion via a series of six minute, five second time limit matches. Powerrr isn’t actually on TV, it’s on YouTube, but that’s close enough. The tournament and title are mostly prestigious because the old NWA Television Championship is one of the prettiest belts ever, and anybody who grew up watching the NWA wanted one.
The tournament’s made up of two halves, in a way; one half featuring one-on-one matches between stars who regularly appear on NWA Powerrr, and one half featuring NWA Powerrr stars making WORLDS COLLIDE against people from other promotions. On the purely NWA side, there’s Tim Storm vs. Ken Anderson, which will presumably involve some Strictly Business and Colt Cabana involvement. With the winner of that match facing the winner of a babyface vs. babyface match in the same bracket (more on that in a second), things don’t look good for Storm. I think I speak for everyone when I say I hope Timmy Storm wins it anyway. There’s also The Question Mark vs. Trevor Murdoch, which, if there’s a just God in the universe, sends the show’s best and most popular character to round two. He’s got a great match-up waiting for him there.
The inter-promotinal matches in the tournament are Ricky Starks vs. Matt Cross, and Zicky Dice vs. Dan Maff.
Starks vs. Cross is a great opportunity to give Starks a fast-paced, showcase match against a guy who can go, but isn’t really stopping by to win it all. Matt Cross is a world traveled veteran at this point, and via Lucha Underground is one of the best in the world at North American studio wrestling. If anybody knows how to put over Ricky Starks big-time in less than six minutes, it’s M-Dogg. Then you’ve got OUTLANDISH~ Zicky Dice, a relatively new but ridiculous and strong character, going up against Ring of Honor original Dan Maff. It’s a perfect kind of match-up: a weird, brash little guy who doesn’t really look like he should be winning many fights going toe-to-toe with an actual bulldozer who doesn’t take shit from anybody. So OF COURSE Dice is going to find some kind of unbelievable — dare we say, outlandish — way to get the victory.
As mentioned, the winner of Starks and Cross faces the winner of Storm and Anderson in the semi-finals. If we assume Starks moves on, that either sets him up as a pure babyface against rampant dickbag Mr. Anderson, or puts him nose-to-nose with Tim Storm. That could be the money bout, as Starks has been floating around the Nick Aldis story for weeks now, and might end up being a Strictly Business sleeper agent or something. Those are the two who should be making it to the semi-finals anyway.
If we don’t get The Question Mark vs. Zicky Dice in round two of the tournament, I’m demanding a refund.
So that’s what you need to know about Hard Times. If you’re watching the show tonight or on one of the replays, please use the comments section below as a sort of unofficial open discussion thread for the event. Until then, drop down there and let us know what you think will happen at the show. Make sure you’re here later tonight for complete results, as well. I’ll be watching through the eye holes of my Question Mark mask, while draping myself in the Mongrovian flag.