NWA TNA Chapter Four: Malice In The Palace

In Chapter Three, National Wrestling Alliance Total Nonstop Action — just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? — broke in their new building, “The Asylum,” by having a team of wrestling penises turn on their manager, having Marcus Bagwell stop being “buff” because he “lost to a couple of gay guys,” and continuing the ESPN Top 10-quality “Ed Ferrara won’t stop grabbing Francine’s boob because he thinks they’re gonna have sex in the ring” angle.

In Chapter Four we’ll improve the women’s division by replacing the local furniture models with actual porn stars, find out how the hillbilly tag team narrowly avoids eating their own waste, and put a NASCAR driver over a wrestler in a wrestling match. Everything is great, move along.

If you’d like to keep up with these columns as they go, be sure to check out the NWA TNA Wrestling: The Asylum Years tag. Again, I’d give you a direct link to the shows but the Global Wrestling Network redirects everything to their main page, because they really want you to watch the latest episode of Impact.

And now, chapter four of the TNA Wrestling story for July 10, 2002.

The First Tag Team Champions In The Company Are Feuding With Each Other After One (1) Title Defense

It’s fair to say that not a lot makes sense in the 2002 version of TNA — or arguably any version — but even with the wrestling penises and lingerie battle royals and physical superiority of country music stars and tiny NASCAR guys, the story of Jerry Lynn and AJ Styles might be the worst. This thing is breaking the land-speed record for confusion.

Here’s the story so far. On episode three, the NWA held a four-team tournament to crown TNA’s first NWA Tag Team Champions. In the first round, Chris Harris and James Storm beat the Johnsons and the Rainbow Express beat Buff Bagwell and Apolo. That set up Harris and Storm vs. the Rainbows in a rematch from episode two in the finals. This is actually really good storytelling for only three episodes. But then we find out Storm and Harris have been attacked in the back and can’t compete. Instead of giving the titles to the other team in the finals or subbing in the team Harris and Storm defeated, Jerry Lynn gets into the tournament with a partner of his choosing because he was near a front office guy when that guy was on the phone. His choice? AJ Styles, a guy who (1) already won a title in episode two, and (2) had literally just finished defending said title in a 10 minute match moments before the tag tournament finals began. Lynn and Styles won, and became Tag Team Champions.

This week, they have their first title defense as a team against The New Church, “Slash” (aka the former Wolfie D of PG-13) and “Tempest” (the former Devon Storm and/or Crowbar). It’s a really watchable, entertaining tag match that Styles wins by tagging himself in and hitting the Spiral Tap. Jerry Lynn is instantly concerned about this, eyeballing Styles because he “stole his pin.” But hey, he won. This is the beginning of a long story where Lynn gets increasingly more and more worried about having picked a flashy, self-obsessed and gold hungry partner, right? No. Okay, it’s the beginning of a long story where Lynn resents Styles’ youth and talent, becomes worried that he’s obsolete and lashes out despite the success Styles has brought him, right?

Nope, about half an hour later we jump backstage to Lynn and Styles brawling in the hallway. They’ve exploded after one (1) match as Tag Team Champions. And it’s so bad that they’re smashing each other into walls, crashing through tables and delivering Gotch piledrivers onto boxes. A lot happens in the coming weeks, but long story short, they forget they’re tag champs and have them interfere in each other’s singles matches until the titles are vacated. And then they feud over the X-Division Championship until that title is vacated. This is the story of the first Tag Team Champions in the history of the company.

The Rest Of The Tag Team Division Is Worse

If you’re wondering how the rest of the tag team division might be doing, here’s Goldy Locks and her signature “who crapped their pants” face interviewing the Dupps as they (1) explain that, quote, “If it looks like shit, if it smells like shit, if it feels like shit, don’t put it in your mouth, because it’s probably shit,” and (2) take turns making out with their cousin’s boobs in the background.

Amazingly, this is not the worst segment Goldy participates in this week. That honor goes to the bit where she kneels beside Jerry Lynn to ask him why he beat up his own tag team partner. His response is to stand up, put his crotch in his face and tell her to, “open up and say ah.” Warning: Do not put TNA in your mouth.

An Attitude Adjustment

Long before TNA actually said “F U” to the NWA, they pretended to say it by tying up executives from the NWA backstage and writing “F U” on their naked old man bellies. It’s never (really) brought up again.

This is one of those bits you see cited on “TNA forgot their own storyline” compilations, but that’s not actually true; when Vince Russo shows up in the company to simultaneously write the shows and appear on them to tell you how much the NWA sucks (18 pay-per-views later), it’s revealed “F-U” is his thing. He paints it on his face, and it’s part of his entrance music. He drops it pretty quickly, though, when he comes up with something “S-E-X” can stand for. Yes, Vince Russo is the guy who writes “ass” when video games ask him to enter his initials.

These Guys Need To Find A Body Shop

One of this week’s unexpected highlights is the debut of Dem Boys, Mark and Jay Briscoe, during their “Hardys in flower pants” period when they were rail-thin indie wrestling teens. Jay, a future 2-time Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Champion, and his brother Mark, a Confederate Monchhichi that does karate, take on the “Hot Shots,” Cassidy O’Reilly and Chase Stevens. In true WCW fashion, the match ends when more important characters, The New Church, wander out to beat up all four of them for an unrelated angle.

The Briscoes only show up in TNA one more time: pay-per-view 22, which we’ve managed to mention twice in this column. The Hot Shots, however, become an official TNA tag team the only way we know how: by stuffing socks down the front of their shorts and doing a gimmick about how they have big dicks. Early TNA is basically a wrestling promotion run by HR Giger.

Speaking Of Sex …

Last week, Brian Christopher turned on Scott Hall. This week, he explains that he turned on Scott Hall because … he’s tired of people calling him Jerry Lawler’s son. So now he wants to be called “Brian Lawler” instead of Brian Christopher. Because taking your dad’s last name is a way to show how much you hate your dad? And hating your dad is a good explanation for turning on one of several co-workers who used to work with him? Or something?

The good news here is that Lawler’s first match is against this man:

God bless Norman Smiley, the best wrestler who makes the least amount of sense. I could spend a month trying to explain why people like him and not do it. If you’ve never seen him before, imagine if Mr. Bean was a black man in tiny banana underpants who screamed like a woman when he got hit, and tried to fuck you in the ass when he was on offense. And he’s MASSIVELY OVER. I think my favorite part of the “Big Wiggle” is that he has to look around first, like he’s only going to put it in your butt if nobody’s watching from a distance.

Oddly, Smiley gets most of the offense in a match that’s supposed to be about how Brian Lawler is a serious wrestler who’s done screwing around. And literally while the announce team is saying “Lawler isn’t showboating anymore,” he starts dancing and jawing at the crowd. It’s that moment in a submission match where somebody instinctively goes for a lateral press, as an acting style.

In less believable sex news, Jeremy Borash loses his virginity (?) when he gets a lapdance from porn star Jasmin St. Claire, making her debut because she’d been watching TNA but didn’t see any TNA. Get it? She promises to show both (1) tits and (2) ass. If you weren’t surfing for porn on the Internet in the late ’90s, Jasmin is famous for, as Wikipedia delicately puts it, “performing a record-breaking 300 sex acts with 300 men in a 24-hour period.” Don West and Mike Tenay are practically masturbating at ringside.

Just before Jasmin shows T or A, Bill Behrens totally stops the action and covers her up. Ed Ferrara gets into the ring and spears him to stop him, but Bill mostly no-sells it. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be mad that we didn’t get to see the ring announcer rub one out, or what.

The Only Person Actually Getting Screwed This Week Is Ron Killings

Look at that picture. Who would win that fight? The 6-foot-2, 220-pound muscular athlete who fights for a living; or the 5-foot-8, 150-pound ersatz Todd Chrisley who sits in a car for a living? If you’re the wrestling promotion, your answer is, “not the wrestler.”

Sure enough, the payoff for weeks of K-Krush getting attacked and beaten up by NASCAR guys is K-Krush getting beaten by a NASCAR guy. He doesn’t actually “lose” — Hermie kicks his ass and fucking POWERBOMBS HIM, but Krush wins with his feet on the ropes — but the referee reverses the decision after the match because K-Krush won’t stop fighting. So Hermie wins, sells the damage of the match by not dreaming of selling a single thing, and ends the segment with the bras d’honneur.

Fun note: the reason for all of this is that Hermie Sadler was supposed to drive a stock car covered in TNA logos. Good plan, except that Hermie failed to qualify and didn’t drive shit. K-Krush would become the World Champion in like four episodes.

Don’t Worry, TNA Will Continue Letting Anyone Who Is Not A Wrestler Beat Up Their Wrestlers

If you were like, “aw, no more NASCAR drivers beating up our top stars?” don’t worry, here’s Jeff Jarrett getting his ass kicked by the Tennessee Titans. TNA’s mission statement in the first year was seriously, “find ANYONE who is even mildly famous for ANYTHING other than wrestling and put them on our wrestling show to try to get mainstream coverage.” WWE does this with Shaquille O’Neal or Floyd Mayweather or Ronda Rousey. TNA’s like, “nobody’s watching, feed our best wrestlers to Frank Wycheck.”

The best part of this bit is that Jarrett shows up during the Ken Shamrock vs. Takao Omori NWA World Heayvweight Championship match and destroys them both with a steel chair. Harley Race gets into the ring, and Jarret lays him out, too. So in TNA’s universe, football players in the front row are greater than Jeff Jarrett, who is greater than the top two heavyweights in the company and a 7-time NWA Heavyweight Champion. *mwah*

The other weird thing about the Jarrett segment is that he gets attacked by Malice and the New Church. We’re on episode 4, and there are so few functional babyfaces in TNA that they’ve got the top heel faction attacking the top heel. Meanwhile, the NWA Champion is wrestling a guy making a one-off appearance from Japan. And that’s ending in a no decision, because there’s nothing more indie wrestling in the world than bringing over a guy from Japan to wrestle your champion, ending the match with some bullshit and having them team up against a heel. The only way it could’ve been more low-rent indie is if they’d put a raffle in the middle.

That’s Not All Omori’s Here For, Though

He also is featured in a backstage segment where he stops doing Hindu squats to give Aleesha money. You’re never going to find out why this is happening, so try not to think about it. The actual reason is, “TNA wanted X-Pac to wrestle for them, so they paid his girlfriend to do nothing.”

The X-Division Is Still The Best Part Of The Show

As you might’ve guessed from the Styles/Lynn write-up this will change soon, but for now, the X-Division is still the best part of the show. This week’s main event is an “X-Division rankings match,” a six-man elimination match where the first person eliminated is the number six competitor for the X-Division title, the second man eliminated is number five, and so on. It’s got a few faces we’ve seen before — Low Ki and Jerry Lynn, most notably, because somebody’s gotta pull double duty every week — and some new ones, including future Important TNA Guys Christopher Daniels, Elix Skipper and the Amazing Red. ECW’s Tony Mamaluke and former WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Champion Kid Romeo are also here.

It’s a crazy mess and not as good as the four corners double elimination match, but it’s 22 minutes (!) of some of the most notable early 2000s independent stars going awkward full-tilt, and that’s at the very least a fun watch. Low Ki wins with a Ki Crusher on Daniels, setting up Ki vs. Styles for next week. Jerry Lynn is already feuding with the X-Division Champion but is the first person eliminated, because TNA.

That victory brings out the Flying Elvises, who attack everyone because they’re mad they weren’t included in the match. They get outnumbered, and that somehow leads to the Jarrett getting his ass kicked by the Titans bit, which goes into Jarrett vs. the New Church and ends the show. Legitimately surprised they didn’t top it off by having Don West hit a Falcon Arrow on Puppet the Midget Killer for not letting him see Bobbi Billard’s boobs.

Join us next week for chapter five, featuring a man who’s never appeared in TNA before becoming the number one contender to the NWA Heavyweight Championship (shocker), Jasmin St. Claire wrestling in a wet t-shirt, and the Jarretts continue to try to illustrate “having sex, with poop!!” as a wrestling promotion.