Previously on NWA Powerrr: Aron Stevens debuted the trailer for next year’s biggest movie, Tropical Pirates. Plus, the Dawsons continued to beef with the entire tag team division, Kamille still can’t speak (or chooses not to), and Colt Cabana got powdered in the face for pretending to be a cowboy.
If you’d like to keep up with these columns, you can do so on the NWA Powerrr tag page. Again, no idea why there are so many Rs on the end, unless we find out a few weeks from now that Billy Corgan sold the naming rights for the show to a Catwoman from Batman ’66.
Remember, NWA Powerrr and all its extra Rs is free to watch on YouTube, so check out episode four if you haven’t already:
WWE’s Favorite Booking Tropes Done Right
Most WWE shows, at least Raw and Smackdown, open the same way: someone comes to the ring to say they deserve a shot at a championship, or show up with a championship to thank the fans or complain about not being loved enough. They get interrupted by the champion or challenger, yell at each other for about 15 minutes, and then the shit goes down long enough to set up a tag team main event. You’ve seen it at least 100 times in the past 20 years.
This week’s Powerrr(rrrrr) opens the same way, but pays attention to the little things and makes it a more palatable, purposeful experience — and not a total waste of everybody’s time. James Storm opens the program with the NWA National Heavyweight Championship on his shoulder (which looks like a really expensive restaurant placemat about the United States) and calls out his rivals, former National Champion Colt Cabana and current NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis. They’re quickly interrupted by a clearly “going through a mid-life crisis of some kind” Eli Drake, and a deal is made: they’ll have a six-man tag team match later in the night. If Aldis’ team wins, Colt Cabana gets a shot at the National Championship. If Storm’s team wins, Storm gets a shot at Aldis’ World Heavyweight Championship, assuming he abdicates the National belt.
Firstly, the situation works because the match they’re setting up actually has something at stake beyond “momentum” or “bragging rights.” They’re wrestling for a reason, which is an extremely basic thing WWE almost always forgets to include. The idea that wrestlers wrestle so they can eventually be champion so they can make more money and be more successful at their jobs is completely whiffed on most WWE TV shows in favor of “making an impact,” or some other buzzword that ultimately just means, “treading water because the crowd doesn’t care what the wrestlers are doing, they just want to see the wrestlers.” Secondly, there’s a lot of subtle character stuff going on here. Eli Drake is once again weirdly trying to motivate everyone who isn’t himself, Cabana’s trying to be taken seriously, James Storm’s establishing the relationship between the NWA’s top and secondary championship, and Aldis is pretending to be a hero while also setting up Storm in a situation where no matter what the outcome of the match is, he’ll lose the National Heavyweight Championship and stop being the top contender. It’s pretty brilliant in its simplicity, honestly.
When the match happens, Storm ends up bringing in the Tag Team Champions the Wild Cards as his partners. That gives us a tag team match with every (male) title holder present at once, which is another thing WWE loves. And to make it even MORE WWE flavored, Cabana ends up pinning the champion to earn a shot to possibly pin the champion. Only, again, it works because of the context created by the show. Cabana’s enthusiasm and the teamwork between the faces makes it feel like they actually earned something, rather than it happening via corporately mandated booking decision™, and it helps that they’re only four episodes in and we haven’t seen them do the same thing over and over for years. Even the booking tropes we think of as bad or lazy or sloppy can be good if they’re used sparingly, instead of being used like worn-out-ass crutches.
So that leaves us with Cabana earning a shot at Storm’s National Heavyweight Championship, Storm backing himself into a corner by accepting the champion’s gambit and teaming up with two noted unreliable scumbags, and Aldis looks like a genius because he not only set up the elimination of his top challenger, but got people to cheer him doing it, and had Colt Cabana and Ken Anderson more or less do all the work for him. [chef’s kiss]
Bram, Da Duh Duh, Da Duh Duh
Eddie Kingston and Homicide finally get their anything goes match against the Dawsons, and kinda-sorta completely shit the bed on it. It’s weird. Knowing what we know about these wrestlers, you’d expect Kingston and Homicide to absolutely take these guys to the fuckin’ woodshed, but they mostly just get their asses kicked. Kingston gets beaten down on the outside and gets his hand smashed on the ring steps, preventing him from using his spinning backfist with any strength behind it, and Homicide’s mostly there to get hit in the stomach and then the back with steel chairs.
The hook, though, is that the Wild Cards show up to “watch the match,” and of course get involved. They make sure the Dawsons win, because they don’t want Kingston and Homicide challenging them for the Tag Team Championship any time soon, but also take a cheap shot at the Dawsons themselves, presumably to establish territorial heel team dominance. It’s interesting, but not everything I wanted it to be, although I probably need to accept that the new NWA YouTube show isn’t going to occasionally get ULTRA VIOLENT like a 1980s southern wrestling show. The Road Warriors aren’t gonna show up and dig out Eddie Kingston’s eyeball with a spike, or whatever. Different times.
In a nice bit of continuity for the NWA women’s division, Marti Bella (Allysin Kay’s best friend) and Ashley Vox (the Young Girl Allysin Kay personally brought in to job to her) have a match to see who deserves the next shot at, get this, Allysin Kay. Kay passive-aggressively shades them before the match, and then stands at ringside watching them the entire time. Like Nick Aldis, it’s nice to see the champion of a division monitoring and trying to actively manipulate said division and its challengers instead of arbitrarily beefing with whoever’s “next.”
In a nice surprise, Vox pulls off a roll-up win after a series of counters and wins the match. Kay is impressed, and also is probably thinking of a bunch of Tully Blanchard-level mean things to say to Marti Belle on the drive home. First and foremost is probably, “if you wanted a shot at me, why did you wear my t-shirt to your interview about it? That’s weird.”
Also weird: after the match, Thunder Rosa (formerly Lucha Underground‘s Kobra Moon) shows up and tries to offer Marti Belle a handshake and, I guess, “recruit” her to the Darby Allin facepaint club. That’s not the weird part. The weird part is that Rosa’s appearance is randomly accompanied by off-screen drums that sound exactly like the Aztec Warfare drums, so … is that gonna be a thing? Did everyone else hear those drums, or am I imagining things? Is Thunder Rosa appearing to me in a mirror like the Warrior to Hollywood Hogan?
Shapeshifter, Guest Lister
Trevor Murdoch wants a contract with the National Wrestling Alliance, and says he’ll do anything to get it. He called the NWA and said that he doesn’t think Jocephus should be suspended for throwing powder in Colt Cabana’s face last week; he should have a match against Trevor Murdoch, and get his ass kicked about it. Jocephus shows up, and his response is … well …
“I’M TIRED OF EXPERIENCING ALL THESE HUMILIGRATIONS FROM PEOPLE, THESE SHAPESHIFTERS LIKE JAMES STORM AND COLT CABANA, A BUNCH OF CORGAN SHAPESHIFTERS! MY SPIRITUAL ADVISOR HAS SANCTIONED ALL SORTS OF VIOLENCE UPON MURDOCH TREVOR TONIGHT!”
Shit, I like Jocephus now.
They have their mach, and Murdoch puts Jo away fairly easily by utilizing the Alvy Singer cocaine attack. You’ve gotta love that this guy went through the trouble of getting his violent actions sanctioned by his spiritual advisor just to do one cheap shot into the post, a headbutt, a couple of bad forearms, and a failed powder attack. Jocephus is like Orange Cassidy if Orange wrestled in the 1970s.
The other plotline of the episode involves Aron Stevens showing up in a shirt (not a blouse) and quizzing the audience on the existence of Tropical Pirates. The only other person on the show as low key flamboyant as Stevens, Ricky Starks, shows up and acts super weird to him about wanting his hand kissed. When Stevens refuses, Starks kissing his own hand? It’s not the best part of the episode. Starks ends up slapping him, though, and it sets up a match.
I like Stevens’ NWA persona a lot, and I think it’s actually closer to what WWE was trying to do than we realized. The point of Stevens seems to be, at least from Jim Cornette’s perspective, that he’s a great wrestler who is actually kind of ashamed of being a wrestler, and values his bad acting over his good wrestling. Sounds a lot like a couple of Once in a Lifetime types we know, doesn’t it? Stevens is good at what he does, but he’s got no heart, so when Starks tries to escalate the aggression, Stevens turns into a whimpering wuss. He gets O’Connor rolled for a loss, but at least he doesn’t lose a chocolate Money in the Bank briefcase this time.
Also This Week, In Commercials
Who is The Question Mark? I have my theories, but I’m gonna write about them for college. It’ll be my paren-thesis.
The most notable commercial of the week (not counting the rehash of the Tony Falk Waffles and Tire Irons store) is Austin Idol popping in and recommending … drugging women, I think? He wants you to stop being alone, as seen in a “non-wrestler reenactment,” and take the girl next door a “kayfabe cocktail.” He’d tell you what’s in it, but that wouldn’t be kayfabe. So it’s a commercial for a drink you can’t buy, but have to make, and you can only make it if you already know about it. Do they serve it with the waffles?
I honestly think NWA Powerrr exists in the Southpaw Regional Wrestling universe.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express are returning soon! If you aren’t familiar with them, they are very ugly teen heartthrobs in their 60s who love rock and roll, but not like, hard rock. They like Bob Seger. But not like, Hollywood Nights Bob Seger. Just ‘Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll’ Bob Seger. It’s hard to explain. They’re your excitable gay dads, basically, and they’re one of the best tag teams of all time. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express right now are probably a top 20 tag team in the world. I loved them when I was six, and I love them now. I tied bandanas around my legs on more than one Halloween.
Also, they come recommended by Magnum T.A. AND Nikita Koloff, which in NWA terms is like coming recommended by both He-Man and Skeletor.