“Ricky.” I love that the person who made this sign was like, “well ‘The Dragon’ and ‘Steamboat’ are his name, but Ricky is CLEARLY short for Richard.”
So, in Chapter Six of the NWA TNA Wrestling saga we met the new, Josh Peck-ass Disco Inferno, met a tag team with a “look at our PENISES” gimmick, and saw another black guy get hanged. Things are going great at The Asylum, which is not being run by the inmates, it’s being run by 10 confused old men who’ve never run an asylum before.
Previewing what you’re about to see in Chapter Seven might actually cheapen it, as TNA offers arguably their worst storyline reveal ever and plays through one of the very worst segments they’ve ever done. It’s like they doubled down on being a wrestling company that chose to call themselves “NWA TNA.”
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, and it doesn’t look like they’re ever going to fix it.
And now, chapter seven of the TNA Wrestling story for July 31, 2002.
For Everyone Who Thought Puppet The Midget Killer Jacking Off In A Trash Can Was The Low Point Of The Midget Division, Hold On To Your Butts
This is one of those moments you always hope you’ll get to write about, but don’t think you ever will. If TNA is the Upside Down of WWE, this segment is Hogan and Andre at WrestleMania 3 but like, in the dark, with a bunch of toilet paper scraps floating around it.
On last week’s show, which I feel the need to remind you happened only one week ago, two major things happened in the TNA main event scene: Jeff Jarrett was suspended for 60 days, and Malice ruined the Ken Shamrock vs. Sabu NWA Heavyweight Championship match by stealing the 10 pounds of gold and leaving with it. How does TNA pay that off? By (1) having Jeff Jarrett open the next show announcing that he’s no longer suspended, and (2) the commentary team explaining that TNA management called Malice and got him to give back the belt. That’s it. The Bob Balaban-ass TNA management team reasoned with an evil, 6-foot-10 tattoo cult monster over the phone, off-screen.
Don’t worry, by the end of this you won’t even remember how ridiculous that is.
Part of Jarrett’s return announcement is bringing up how Bill Behrens told him that if he ever wanted an NWA World Heavyweight Championship match, he’d have to “start from the bottom” and work his way to the top. To illustrate, he reveals that he has brought a midget to the ring in a burlap sack and will beat him up as the prestigious first step toward becoming NWA Champion. Before he can kill a midget, Puppet — a dwarf whose entire thing is killing midgets — shows up to stop him.
And how would a dwarf be able to defeat Jeff Jarrett, you might be asking, assuming you didn’t look too closely at the header image for this section? Why, by pulling a fucking gun on him, of course. Welcome to the total, non-stop action of the NWA, where a little person with a pistol is going to mass-murder a security team until Jeff Jarrett can stop him with sneaky chair-shots.
- Puppet’s shirt makes him look like Vampire Hunter D’s hand
- This proves the old saying, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a second, larger bad guy with a folding chair.”
“Ricky” Steamboat shows up and a match is made: if Jeff Jarrett can defeat this 49-year old General Manager character, he gets an NWA title shot. If Jarrett loses, he’ll accept the 60-day suspension that he already proved he doesn’t have to accept. What happens if he violates it, MORE NWA title shots? Steamboat agrees and hops into the ring, but the match ends before it begins when Scott Hall sneaks up on Jarrett and cheapshots him.
I just wanted to put this entire thing into perspective for you. TNA’s actual plan for a segment is, “announce that everything that mattered from last week is the opposite, then have Jarrett try to kill a midget until a dwarf who loves killing midgets shows up and tries to kill HIM, with an ACTUAL GUN, but then Jarrett saves everyone, and our GM agrees to fight him for doing it until the only good guy we’ve mentioned so far shows up and attacks him from behind.” You know, if a 7-foot tall mummy had shown up at some point and tried to fuck Jarrett from behind, this would’ve been the perfect segment.
Update: The NWA Tag Team Champions Still Hate Each Other
A quick recap, because these are fun to do: neither AJ Styles nor Jerry Lynn were in a tag team tournament, then somehow won it all by asking if they could be in the finals. Lynn got mad at Styles for winning the match, despite being the guy who chose Styles to be on his team so they could win matches, and attacked him. They made up, but then they won a second match where Lynn got the pinfall, and apparently nobody on the team is allowed to win tag team matches.
This week, AJ Styles defeats Elix Skipper to retain the X-Division Championship, with Lynn on commentary. Later, Lynn faces Low Ki with Styles on commentary. In that one, Lynn loses when Styles decides to kick him in the back of the head for doing well at the wrestling. Yes, without me needing to type it, the NWA Tag Team Championship story about the champs feuding with each other and literally no one else managed to seep into and ruin both of this episode’s good matches. This, of course, sets up Lynn vs. Styles vs. Ki for the X-Division strap on next week’s show. Hope the animosity between Styles and Lynn doesn’t cost them personally, somehow!
In other free roaming, loose associations of vaguely heel characters news, the Disciples of the New Church debut a new aspect of the gimmick this week: the Ark of the New Church, a small, decorative dragon box Father James Mitchell definitely bought at a Head Shop or from that table at a flea market that sells weapons and armor, containing the “blood of the audad.” If you’re wondering, an audad (or aoudad) is a North African Barbary sheep. Yes, the origin of the Disciples of the New Church is that James Vandenberg bought a knife at the mall and was like, “whoa, this box is cool, I should keep BLOOD IN IT.”
So the blood makes its first appearance after Slash defeats Sonny Siaki with one of the goofiest finishers you’ll ever see: a neckbreaker where he puts a bag over your face before it, then removes it immediately after. No, seriously:
No wonder Buff had to leave the show, he can’t bag as well as this guy.
Having been thoroughly defeated by props, Siaki gets audad blood rubbed on his face in an act of “desecration.” Also desecrating tonight’s show is Don Harris, whom you may know as one half of any number of garbage tag teams from the Harris Twins to WCW’s “Creative Control” to Skull of the Disciples of Apocalypse. Here, he’s TNA’s head of security and makes the save for Siaki by powerbombing everybody. Imagine if Nitro segments ended with Doug Dellinger hitting the ring and clotheslining nWo guys over the top rope.
Later in the episode, Harris runs out to make the save AGAIN when Malice defeats Apolo and, as pictured, gets audaded. Note: if you get your tax return back and it’s smeared in sheep’s blood, you may be being audaded. Anyway, Harris, who has not actually been a wrestler at all up until this point, challenges Malice, a guy who literally stole the NWA Title last week, to a first blood match on next week’s show. Really hope the feeling out process in that is Malice throwing a dead sheep at Harris’ face and winning immediately.
There’s A New Women’s Champion, And Guess What He Is
TNA’s women’s division began as a 10-woman bra and panties match pajama battle royal, with the winner (and the winner only) becoming “Miss TNA” and getting a TNA contract. Francine, who wanted a contract very badly but didn’t get one because she lost, spent several weeks showing up to attack the lady who won. And also to pretend she’d give people blowjobs before hitting them in the nuts. That led to a feud between Francine and Jasmin St. Claire, who ALSO doesn’t work there, which ended with the Blue Meanie (who also doesn’t work there) DDT’ing her.
This week we catch up with the one lady who actually works here, just in time to see her (1) accept the challenge of Bruce of the Rainbow Express to a match for the “Miss TNA” crown, (2) pretend to blow him only to hit him in the nuts and promise to kick his “homo ass,” and (3) subsequently lose the match to the guy in like one move. So seven (7) episodes into the history of the promotion and we’ve given the closest thing we have to a women’s title to a guy. Don West lets us repeatedly now how “disgusting” this is, and Mike Tenay instantly tries to start shit between the Rainbows, asking if Lenny Lane is watching at home and is jealous.
When The Heel Who Has Been Lynching People For The Past Few Weeks Makes A Cogent Point
There are so many run-ins and segments that bleed together on these episodes I can’t even mention them all sometimes. So, remember how I mentioned in passing that the show opened with AJ Styles vs. Elix Skipper? Well, Elix loses, so Monty Brown — the partner he left high and dry for a beatdown and a hanging last week — shows up to brutally suplex him for several minutes. Skipper is still in the ring for the entire Jarrett -> Puppet -> Ricky Steamboat -> Scott Hall -> ??? -> profit bit, occasionally getting stomped as an acknowledgment that he exists and probably should’ve rolled out to the floor a while ago.
A little later in the show, The Truth confronts an African-American cage dancer we’ve never seen before right now about how they made her be a dancer so they could exploit her for money. This turns into him calling her a whore — more on that in a second — and triggers a brawl with Monty. That ends with Truth hitting him with a 2×4 and leaving.
In the very next segment, “Ricky” Steamboat calls out The Truth. See how even the most basic puzzle pieces of this show don’t fit together like they should?
In a vacuum, this segment is great. In it, The Truth confronts Ricky Steamboat about his own career, using logical points and references to historical fact (and WrestleMania 3) to explain how yeah, racism in pro wrestling is real, and it affects both the good (Steamboat) and the bad (Truth) alike. He argues that as a man now in a position of real political power in a wrestling promotion, Steamboat should remember what it was like to be hungry for an opportunity and passed over because of your skin color and give him a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. In an absolutely groundbreaking moment that’s still way too ahead of its time, Steamboat is like, “you know what? You’re right. I’ll give you a title match. Sorry everything sucks.” The heel has such a good point that even the babiest babyface hears it and has be like, “true, true.”
The problem is that this segment about how The Truth might ostensibly be a heel character but has some merit in what he says is directly destroyed by prefacing it with a segment about how The Truth is full of shit. Why does he show up, bring up rude but socially valid points about this cage dancer, quickly devolve that into “you’re a slut,” get beaten up, leave, and then come back in the very next segment fresh as a daisy with nobody attacking him to make a point of COMPLETE UNDERSTANDABLE MERIT and get what he wants? Am I crazy?
I get that wrestling goes for “shades of gray” these days instead of “good guy” and “bad guy,” and that they were doing this times a billion in 2002, but I feel like you can do that without contradicting yourself in back-to-back segments and confirming that you didn’t do it on purpose by having nobody mention it.
The main event of the show is supposed to be Scott Hall vs. Jeff Jarrett in a stretcher match, I think, but they use one of those old cloth stretchers that look like a prop from M.A.S.H. and kinda pretend jab each other in the chest with it. Jarrett has been this furious, violent tornado of nothing since TNA started — like Stone Cold Steve Austin if he had nothing to rage against and looked like one of your friends from adult Bible study — and Hall really has no reason being out here if he’s only here to get attacked and do stretcher jobs. Especially since in 2002 he was looking more and more like a drunk guy who wandered into an elementary school to pick up his kids and has no idea how any of this works.
To compensate for this, here’s the finish of this match:
- Hall has the match won with Scott’s Edge, but Truth pulls the referee out of the ring
- Truth pulls Jarrett onto Hall, but Hall kicks out at two
- Monty Brown returns and starts brawling with Truth around the building
- Jerry Lynn shows up for some reason, hits a splash on Jarrett for some reason, and pulls Hall onto him for some reason (Jarrett kicks out at two)
- AJ Styles shows up, attacks Lynn, and tries to hit a Spiral Tap, only to be-
- stopped by Don Harris, who is back and taking his frustrations out on Styles for some reason, until-
- The Disciples of the New Church show up and brawl with Harris around the building
- Styles and Lynn also start brawling around the building
- The referee accidentally gets bumped here, this far into all these run-ins
- Jarrett tries to use a chair on Hall, but is stopped by “Ricky” Steamboat
- Hall tries to use the chair on Jarrett, but is ALSO stopped by Steamboat
- Steamboat and Hall struggling with the chair allows Jarrett to hit a Stroke onto the chair
- the referee is revived and counts the three for Jarrett
Vince Russo’s love of “what if everything was happening all at once, whether it makes sense or not, and then things you don’t expect are also happening, look at everything ever happening” really set the tone for Zack Snyder’s entire career, didn’t it?
Jive Talkin’, Tellin’ Me Lies
I want to leave you this week with the first episode of Jive Talkin’, Disco Inferno’s pay-per-view talk show segment. Episode one, the very first one, is about how he’s been watching TNA and has seen a lot of A, but not a lot of T. Yes, Disco Inferno’s talk show segment and Jasmin St. Claire’s appearance have the same story foundation. But yeah, Disco’s first guest is Goldy Locks, who he announces as a “hot sexy dumb bitch” who will “show us her naked breasts.”
Goldy shows up and is like, “heh, just here to talk about music,” and says she’s sometimes compared to a “female Kid Rock.” The only way it could’ve been better is if she’d been like, “you know, I grew up listening to Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water and just really wanted to pay homage to my influences.” I want to sit and talk to Goldy Locks for an hour about why Crazy Town is a better band than 311.
As you might’ve guessed, Goldy has the improv skills of a half-inflated kick ball and Disco isn’t working with anything more ambitious than “your tits, maybe?” so that’s all it is. Disco says SHOW US YOUR NAKED BREASTS, so Goldy says that nobody wants to see his HAIRY BALLS. Ho ho! She also cuts a brief promo about how women are worth more than their naked bodies, which the audience boos. They pop for Disco telling her to blow him, though. Oh, and the segment ends with a run-in from Paulina from Tough Enough season one, identified cleary by Mike Tenay as, “PAULINA FROM TOUGH ENOUGH SEASON ONE.”
To explain the importance of Paulina From Tough Enough Season One™, here is her complete, unedited career history from Online World of Wrestling:
Even this Diva Dirt article about where the Tough Enough contestants are now just ends the Paulina section with, “There’s no indication that Paulina is still in the wrestling business.”
That should be Impact’s slogan in 2018. “There’s no indication that Impact is still in the wrestling business.”
Join us next week for Chapter Eight of the TNA story, featuring the announcement of the first Dupp Cup Invitational, the introduction of a TNA hardcore division where you get points for attacking strangers using an animal, and Don Harris losing a First Blood match after getting busted open on a side slam. No, really. See you next week for Event Horizon, or whatever we’re calling this series.