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NWA-TNA ON PPV
MMII: The TNA Year in Review
January 3, 2003

by Scotty Szanto-Nicodemus
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I am in a unique position when it comes to writing an end o’ the year recap because of NWA: TNA’s brief existence and the fact that they produced only one show per week.  So what I am going to do is recap some of the highs and lows of each show, then at the end of the column I will present some of my favorites from the year.  Before I get started, please be advised that I don’t have all XXVI shows on tape…I neglected to buy Week III because it was the tournament for the tag team titles, and at the time they really didn’t have any tag teams that I felt were worth paying money to see.  The other show that I don’t have is Week XII because it was a recap show during the week of Labor Day.  Besides that, I’ve got all of the other XXIV shows on tape, and so without further ado, here is my recap of each program:

Week I

Best Match: X-Division Six Man Tag Match: AJ Styles, Low-Ki & Jerry Lynn v. The Flying Elvises (Jimmy Yang, Jorge Estrada & Sonny Siaki) – This was the very first match presented on TNA’s very first program, and it managed to set a precedence for exciting matches concentrating on the athletic instead of sports-entertainment…a precedence that TNA followed at times and abandoned at times, but lets not get into that right now.

Best Promo: Jeff Jarrett confronts the legends of the NWA – Once again, this is the first promo from the first show, and Jarrett interrupted all of the former champions (including Jackie Fargo, Harley Race, Dory Funk Jr., and Ricky Steamboat).  Jarrett was there to complain that the NWA Title Match would be contested under Battle Royal rules.  Fargo never won a title in a battle royal, and Jarrett confronted them to declare that he would beat all other nineteen competitors in order to obtain his dream and win the NWA World Title.

Highlight: Buff Bagwell eliminated from the Gauntlet for the Gold in less than a minute – Fargo ruled that Jarrett would be the first entrant in the match due to his interference, and Bagwell was the other person to start the match…another competitor would enter the match every 90 seconds, and Jarrett sent Bagwell in about 50 seconds.

Lowlight: I have two nominations for this “honor”: First, The Dupps go over – This also set a precedence, as the Dupps would go on to defeat several much more worthy teams.  Second, a Toby Keith video package was followed immediately by a live performance by…Toby Keith! – There was a lot of extraneous bullshit during the first couple of months, and Toby Keith’s involvement started it all…Keith would later enter himself in the Gauntlet for the Gold match and eliminate Jarrett 

Wrassler o’ the week: Jimmy Yang receives the honor for scoring the pinfall in the Six-Man Tag Match, and Jeff Jarrett receives an honorable mention for his work in the Gauntlet Match, eliminating not only Bagwell, but Lash Laroux and Norman Smiley in less than a minute each.

Week II

Best Match: X-Division Round Robin Title Match: AJ Styles v. Psicosis v. Low-Ki v. Jerry Lynn – This match determined the first X-Division champion, and it was a double elimination match.  Once again, the emphasis on athleticism wins again, as the rest of the show featured Lingerie Battle Royals and NASCAR drivers and such.

Best Promo: Joel Gertner endorses The Rainbow Express – I thought that the Rainbow Express was presented in a good light, and it began with this promo.  Gertner said that even though Lenny and Bruce are gay, they are talented wrasslers and that is all that should matter.

Highlight: Styles becomes the first ever X-Division Champion – This match received even more pyrotechnics than the World Title Match did, and it was one of the best matches that I had seen in quite some time, as far as storytelling goes…more on this match in just a moment.

Lowlight: Toby Keith interferes in Jeff Jarrett’s match – This show was recorded the same night as the first show, and since I’ve already ranted on Keith, I’m also going to nominate: NASCAR drivers interfere in K-Krush’s match – Both of these instances of interference happened in plain view of the referee, and neither resulted in a disqualification.

Wrassler o’ the week: AJ Styles – This is basically a no-brainer.  Styles won the X-Division Title in impressive fashion, first eliminating Psicosis and Low-Ki, then pinning Jerry Lynn twice to win the match.

Week IV

Best Match: X-Division #1 Contenders/ Elimination Match: Low-Ki v. Elix Skipper v. Kid Romeo v. Tony Mamaluke v. Chris Daniels v. Jerry Lynn – Have I mentioned yet that X-Division Matches are going to dominate the “Best Match” category?

Best Promo: Lynn & Styles brawl backstage – This promo helped to set-up the one feud that would encompass the entire XXVI week run for NWA: TNA.  During Week III Lynn & Styles won the Tag Titles, and Lynn all along felt that Styles was neglecting to offer Lynn the proper respect.  This promo started the period in which Lynn would attack Styles and demand respect.

Highlight: Harley Race takes a chairshot from Jarrett – Race was sitting ringside for the World Title Match between Shamrock and Takao Omori, and when Jarrett interfered to cause a DQ, Race came into the ring and took a chairshot to the head with his arms down by his side, denting the chair in the process.

Lowlight: Briscoe Brothers v. Hot Shots gets only two minutes – Immediately after Ed Ferrara claims that these two teams belong in TNA and are about to “turn it up a notch”, Malice comes in to cause the DQ, taking-out all of the members of both teams.

Wrassler o’ the week: Low-Ki – By virtue of winning the X-Division Elimination Match and becoming the #1 Contender for the title…also, the fans were rabid for Low-Ki as they began chanting his name during the match before he was ever tagged-in for the first time.

Week V

Best Match: Flying Elvises (Siaki & Estrada) v. Christopher Daniels & Elix Skipper – It was hard for me to not vote for Low-Ki v. AJ Styles for the X-Division Title, but I figure that the X-Division is getting enough props from me in this column.  This tag match was when TNA fans found out what a valuable performer Sonny Siaki is.  While Estrada battled in the ring, Siaki sat-in on commentary.  Siaki claimed to have trained both Estrada and Yang, and each time that Estrada would land an impressive move Siaki would claim to have taught him that.  It was a great all-around showing by Siaki.

Best Promo: Jerry Lynn confronts AJ Styles in the ring – Just when you thought that Lynn was going to be the heel in this equation, Styles turns the tables by agreeing to pay respect to Lynn, then attacks him when his back is turned 

Highlight: “It’s Sabu!!” – The opening match was scheduled to be Malice v. Jarrett in a Ladder Match to become #1 Contender for the World Title, and when Jarrett was suspended, Malice issued an open challenge, and when the lights went out, Sabu was in the ring when the lights came on again.  Honorable mention goes to Jerry Lynn with the Release-Northern Lights Suplex into a ladder that was set up in the corner.

Lowlight: Meatball (The World’s Largest Midget) brings a shopping cart of food to the ring for his match – That should really need no explanation.

Wrassler o’ the week: Sonny Siaki wins this category hands-down.  His commentary during his tag match was top-notch, and his in-ring actions were spectacular.  Siaki got the win in his match with his finisher, the Money Clip (a move that will later be re-named the Siakalypse).

Week VI

Best Match: Amazing Red v. Low-Ki – This was the first match of the night, and was also Red’s debut match for TNA.  He blew the live crowd and me away, and it didn’t hurt that Low-Ki was his opponent, someone that he has wrassled a number of times for various indy promotions…at least one of which I have on tape and will be recapping for you some time after the new year!

Best Promo: K-Krush becomes “Tha Truth” – This storyline took some heat for playing the race card, but in hindsight, it was well played-out.  I’m confident that the whole “race card” thing was planted by TNA in order to raise awareness for their product.  When K-Krush (and later Ricky Steamboat) spoke of “Them”, he was really talking about Vince McMahon and the powers of the WWF.

Highlight: The debut of “The Amazing” Red – There was a lot of good on this show, but Red went on to become one of the true superstars for TNA.

Lowlight: The Dupps promo was one of the lowest points so far in all of their shows, but basically it is just a weak promo that goes too long.  The true low point came in the World Title Match between Sabu and Ken Shamrock…when Malice entered to cause a DQ.

Wrassler o’ the week: Jerry Lynn – In their World Tag Team Title defense, Jerry Lynn was knocked outside the ring and busted open.  At the end of the match as AJ Styles was climbing to the top turnbuckle to deliver his finisher, a groggy Lynn crawled back into the ring to score the pinfall…also, Lynn’s crimson mask was the most gruesome display yet on TNA programming.

Week VII

Best Match: Tie: AJ Styles (champ) w/Jerry Lynn v. Elix Skipper (X-Division Title Match) and Jerry Lynn w/AJ Styles v. Low-Ki (X-Division #1 Contender’s Match) – The feud raged on, as Lynn sat-in on commentary for Styles’ match, and Styles was on commentary for Lynn’s match.  The difference came after the matches, of course, when Lynn congratulated Styles and celebrated with him…but after talking him up during the whole match, Styles attacked Lynn after his match.

Best Promo: Jarrett has a “Mini Stroke” – There was a lot of good stuff on this program, and it received the first vote for Show o’ the Year honors, but when Jarrett brought a midget to the ring and attacked him, it was truly good stuff.  He said that NWA officials said that he had to start from the bottom, and so he would…by beating up a midget!  When he delivered his finisher on the little guy (Todd Stone), he grabbed the mic and said, “Oh my god, I just had a Mini Stroke!”  Funny, funny stuff.  There were a few honorable mentions in this category: Bruce challenges Taylor Vaughn for the Miss TNA crown, and Tha Truth calls-out one of the TNA Grrrls.

Highlight: Ricky Steamboat grants Ron “Tha Truth” Killings a title shot – I mentioned this storyline above, and this promo was the payoff, with Steamboat realizing that he had been held-back by “Them” when he was IC champ in the WWF (by never having the opportunity to challenge for the World Title), and now that Steamboat is one of “Them” in TNA, he is going to prevent Killings from being held-back in a similar fashion.

Lowlight: The debut of Jive Talkin’ – Disco Inferno’s short-lived interview segment (think about a bad version of “Piper’s Pit”).  Oh, and an honorable mention goes out to Don West, who debuted his monochromatic wardrobe on this broadcast…in honor of that, I am using the color of his outfit that night for all of my bold type in this column…RED.

Wrassler o’ the week: AJ Styles – Styles really came into his own as a heel on this broadcast after being cheered by the fans for most of TNA’s run.  Just about all of the performers started as “Tweeners”, and the heels had to establish themselves as such in order to be boo-ed by the audience.  By continually attacking Jerry Lynn (who was trying to teach him respect for the business), Styles quickly became everyone’s favorite person that they loved to hate.

Week VIII

Best Match: Low-Ki v. Jerry Lynn v. AJ Styles (champ) X-Division Title Match – Lots of good stuff in this match, including the storytelling…and it didn’t hurt that the title changed hands, either!  One of the highlights of the match was when Low-Ki used Styles’ own finishing move against him, only to turn and have Lynn use Ki’s finisher against him…not to be left out, Styles used Lynn’s own Cradle Piledriver against him.  These three guys together could make a Staring Contest exciting!

Best Promo: Hands down it was Ricky Steamboat using a play on words to prevent Jeff Jarrett from getting his title shot for another week – In setting-up the match between Jarrett and Apolo, Steamboat made it sound like a #1 Contender’s Match by telling Apolo that if he won, he would get a title shot; he then turned to Jarrett and said that if he won, Steamboat would “give him” Tha Truth.  After Jarrett won the match against Apolo, Steamboat revealed that he was going to give Jarrett Tha Truth as a tag-team partner to challenge for the straps next week.

Highlight: Ron “Tha Truth” Killings becomes the first-ever black NWA World Heavyweight Champion – It might not have been the best match of the night, but it was good enough.  Shamrock held his own in the match, and the ending was kind of convoluted with a bunch of run-ins, but Killings was not to be denied.  On this night he put his name in the wrasslin’ history books.

Lowlight: The Dupps eat-up two consecutive segments totaling 17 minutes – First they took over Disco Inferno’s “Jive Talkin’” portion to explain the rules of The Dupp Cup (check the archives if you need to know, I fast-forwarded through this part), then they had a “match” against announcer Ed Ferrara.  This was probably the worst segment that I’ve ever seen from The Dupps, whom I consider to be the worst tag-team in wrasslin’ today.

Wrassler o’ the week: Tie: Tha Truth and Low-Ki – Each of these guys won titles on this show, and while Tha Truth won the world title and Low-Ki won the “lesser” X-Division Title, Ki’s match was much more athletic and exciting.  Congrats to both men on their huge accomplishments.

Week IX

Best Match: Low-Ki (champ) v. The Flying Elvises (Yang, Estrada and Siaki) X-Division 4-Corners Elimination Match – This was an awesome way to weave the Flying Elvises disintegrating team into an important match.  The crowd was red-hot for Low-Ki, and the seeds were being sown for Yang and Estrada to be turned babyface by the monster-heel Siaki.  Honorable mention goes to the Tag Title Match pitting Jeff Jarrett and Tha Truth against the champs Jerry Lynn and AJ Styles.  The titles were held-up after Styles and Jarrett scored pinfalls simultaneously, and was used as a way to quietly remove the belts from Lynn and Styles so that they could escalate their feud against one another next week.

Best Promo: Jerry Lynn attacks AJ Styles at the White Trash Café – Just the fact that they were able to find someplace called the White Trash Café is enough to score points with me, but the icing on the cake was when Styles walked out of the café backwards and said “I got your tip between my legs!”  Wonderful.  I also have to give props to Bruce for channeling Andy Kaufman by challenging women out of the audience to fight him for the Miss TNA crown.

Highlight: Brian Lawler can’t pry chair loose from female fan – During Lawler’s attack on Jarrett, he reached into the crowd and grabbed a chair, but a woman standing there grabbed it and wouldn’t let go.  Several fans in the area were offering their own chairs to Lawler as he unsuccessfully attempted to pry the chair from her grip.  Funny stuff.

Lowlight: Dupp Cup match against Teo the midget – Again, I fast forwarded through this part, but I have nightmares remembering how painful it was to watch the first time!

Wrassler o’ the week: AJ Styles – He really started to become a dominate force around this time, and everything he did on this broadcast was golden…from the promo to the match, to his reactions to having the tag titles held-up, on this night AJ Styles was the man.

Week X

Best Match: If I have to choose just one I guess it would have to be Sonny Siaki v. Jimmy Yang (with Jorge Estrada ringside) in a 2/3 Falls Match – The main reason that I am choosing this match is because when I watched it the first time, I convinced myself that Estrada was going to turn heel and join Siaki, but not only did that not happen, but there was no interference in the match at all…and it was a really good match, too!  Several other matches were in contention, including AJ Styles v. Jerry Lynn in a Best of Three Series (first match was Falls Count Anywhere, second was No DQ, third was 10-Minute Ironman Rules)…more on that match in a bit.  Low-Ki (champ) v. The S.A.T. (Jose and Joel Maximo and The Amazing Red) in yet another 4-Corners Match for the new X-Division champion.  Tha Truth’s first title defense against Monte Brown was exciting and well worked as well, but on a night with so much X-Division excitement, it didn’t stand a chance in this category.  Even the less-exciting matches were well worked on this night, and this show catapulted to the forefront in the “Show o’ the Year” rankings.

Best Promo: Ron “Tha Truth” Killings first promo as World Heavyweight Champion – He said that Monte Brown should be kissing his black ass and thanking him because “Abe Lincoln freed the slaves, but I [Tha Truth] freed the African American Sports Entertainer.”  God bless Tha Truth!!  Low-Ki also had a top-notch promo when he challenged Jerry Lynn and AJ Styles to a Triple-Ladder Match for next week, but again, I will get more into that in just a minute.

Highlight: Styles scores two pinfalls to start the Ironman Match – After landing the Styles Clash on a steel chair and scoring the pinfall in the No-DQ match, the Ironman Match started immediately, and while Lynn was still out from the Styles Clash, AJ was able to score two pinfalls before the Ironman match was 15 seconds old.  I thought that was a very creative way to start the match.

Lowlight: Jeff Jarrett’s comedy match was given the main-event slot – After one of the most exciting, most physical 3-match series ever, Jarrett came out to battle “The Bullet”, whom everyone assumed was Bob Armstrong, until Armstrong came to the stage during the match…total fluff that did not deserve to close the show on a night with so many top-quality matches.

Wrassler o’ the week: Tie: AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn, with a special shout-out going to Low-Ki – OK, here’s how it went down…The show opened with Styles v. Lynn in the Falls Count Anywhere Match.  A tremendous match that was won by Jerry Lynn.  Later in the night they came back for the No-DQ match, and again it was an incredible match, which was won by Styles as described above.  During the 10-Minute Ironman Match, Styles was up 3 pins to 1 at one point, but Lynn came back to tie it at three pins apiece with just under two minutes to go in the match.  At that point Low-Ki came to the top of the ramp (with a ladder) and watched the final moments of the match.  Lynn and Styles reversed moves on one another, but in the end neither was able to score the deciding pinfall and the match ended as a draw.  Normally that would be quite disappointing, but Low-Ki entered the ring and raised the arm of both Styles and Lynn, only to kick both of them and leave them both laying in the ring as he returned to the stage (and the ladder).  From there he cut a fantastic promo, telling Lynn and Styles that they would now be playing by his rules, and next week the three of them would face-off in a Triple Ladder Match.

Week XI

Best Match: Jerry Lynn v. AJ Styles v. Low-Ki (champ) Triple Ladder Match – I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I had already penciled this match in as Match o’ the Year before I even decided to do this Year in Review column.  There was some incredibly inventive highspots in this match…and keep in mind that this show and the last one were taped together on the same night.  That means that Lynn and Styles wrassled the 3-Match Series and this match in the same night.  Likewise, Low-Ki wrassled in the Elimination Match against the S.A.T., then against Lynn and Styles just over an hour later.  Some of the best wrasslin’ that I’ve ever seen was all recorded by the same three guys in the span of less than four hours.

Best Promo: The Flying Elvises display friction in the ranks – Jimmy Yang repeatedly misquoted Elvis songs, much to the chagrin of Jorge Estrada (who would be the lone babyface to emerge from this feud), and the promo ended with Sonny Siaki telling us that if we take our vitamins and say our prayers…we will probably lose our hair prematurely!

Highlight: “Holy Shit!” chant starts before Lynn connects with his finisher in the Triple Ladder Match – A Cradle Piledriver from the third rung of a ladder is just as impressive to see as it is to imagine, and Low-Ki didn’t move at all after absorbing the impact from the move, and the crowd was so hot for this match that they started to chant while Lynn was setting-up for the move.  Just about everything in this match was pure gold, I tell ya.

Lowlight: Brian Lawler’s “I’ll tell you right now” promo was interrupted…twice – I really couldn’t care less about just about any storyline involving the young Mr. Lawler, and this one annoyed the hell out of me.  He repeatedly attacked Jarrett over the course of several weeks, and was always yelling, “I know what you did” during the attacks.  So last week and again this week he “agreed” to tell everyone and us what it was that Jarrett did.  Last week his opponent Slash attacked before he could reveal the secret.  This week the show opened with Jarrett attacking just before the revelation, and then later Tha Truth interrupted.  Luckily, this storyline was just dropped soon after.

Wrassler o’ the week: Jerry Lynn – I would really like to nominate both Styles and Low-Ki for this honor again because the Triple Ladder Match was just that good, but this was Lynn’s night as he won the X-Division Title for the first time.

Week XIII

Best Match: Jerry Lynn v. Tha Truth (champ) World Heavyweight Title Match – The entire show was scripted around this match, and it catapulted Lynn from the level of Babyface to that of Monster Face.  Lynn’s crimson mask had me reminiscing of days gone by when I would watch Ric Flair bleed all over the arena, and when Tha Truth had him tied-up in a Surfboard-like submission move, Lynn stretched out and touched his forehead to the bottom rope in order to break the hold.

Best Promo: Sonny Siaki’s babyface promo – Not only did he speak in the first person, using “I” instead of referring to himself by name, but he encouraged all of the X-Division members to get behind Jerry Lynn in his quest for the World Title…of course, it was Siaki’s interference that caused Lynn to lose the match.  They did a good job of presenting Lynn as a viable contender, and also of presenting Siaki as a loyal X-Division member.

Highlight: CM Punk!! – Just a few weeks prior to this show, I had gotten a tape from Jersey Championship Wrestling that featured Punk, and I was really excited to see him getting some national exposure.  For those that have never seen CM Punk, he has the appearance of Steve Corino covered in tattoos, and he has a big “X” written on the back of his hands on his wrist tape.  If you aren’t familiar with the Straightedge symbolism, the black X’s represent that he is drug and alcohol-free.  I’m not Straightedge myself, but I do not drink alcohol, and so I have a lot of respect for CM Punk’s resolve.

Lowlight: Screech v. “Tiny” the Bell Keeper – This show was just after Fox’s Celebrity Boxing in which the guy that played Screech on Saved By the Bell won his match, and so somebody at TNA decided that it’d be big-fun to bring him in for a “match”.  Screech threw two punches, one to the gut and one to the head.  The match ended with the ref counting only to five before the match and segment ended…but I was still left wishing that I could get back my five minutes that I spent watching it.

Wrassler o’ the week: Jerry Lynn – As I said, this program was all about presenting Lynn as a viable contender to the World Title.  The secondary storyline that was in this show was the presentation of Sonny Siaki as a believable face so that we’d be surprised when he turned on Lynn in the main event, so kudos go out to Siaki as well.

Week XIV

Best Match: AJ Styles v. Low-Ki (X-Division #1 Contender’s 2/3 Falls Match) – The story here is that the loser of the match would drop to the bottom of the X-Division rankings, and Low-Ki would go on to disappear shortly after this, so I guess this match started the process of writing him out.  As for the match itself, it was as great as to be expected.  Storyline wise, there was also the rematch pitting Tha Truth v. Jerry Lynn, this time for Lynn’s X-Division Title.

Best Promo: Sonny Siaki burns his Elvis jumpsuit – When we watched this show live, my wife pointed out that Siaki was dressed in black pants for his match earlier in the night, but somehow neither of us was prepared to see him toss his jumpsuit into a burning trash can.

Highlight: Low-Ki’s interference gets the win for Jerry Lynn over Tha Truth – Both Lynn and Tha Truth kept possession of their belts in this match that was for Lynn’s X-Division Title.  The story goes like this: Low-Ki was sent to the bottom of the X-Division rankings because of his loss to AJ Styles, but his interference in Tha Truth’s match here elevated him quickly in the World Title picture.  As a confessed Low-Ki mark, I was incredibly geeked to see his status rise so quickly.

Lowlight: April was introduced because Brian Lawler needed something to do – First they tried presenting Lawler as a face, then as a heel, then he attacked Jarrett randomly, and now someone somewhere decided that the fans would love it if he was put in a storyline fighting for the honor of a slut that sleeps-around behind his back.  Bleh.  I need to give an honorable mention to BG James for his promo in which he told us that the G in his name stands for “Get It…Got It…Good”.  Thankfully, James’ shtick didn’t last as long as Lawler’s did.

Wrassler o’ the week: Jerry Lynn – Anytime someone defeats the World Heavyweight Champion, I think that they deserve this honor…whether the win was due to interference or not.

Week XV

Best Match: Low-Ki v. Tha Truth (champ) World Heavyweight Title Match – Low-Ki lost, but on a card that was short on matches that emphasized the sport over the entertainment, you take what ya can get.  AJ Styles v. Jerry Lynn (champ) X-Division Title Match was a close second, but it ended in a Dusty Finish, so I had to give the nod to the World Title Match…at least there the interference was after the match.

Best Promo: AJ Styles tries to “break it up” when Jerry Lynn attacks Sonny Siaki – This was one of the better promos in all of the year, and it was used as the set-up for the Dusty Finish mentioned above.  Lynn attacked Siaki because he had caused Lynn to lose the World Title Match a couple of weeks ago, and Styles came into the picture yelling, “break it up” and “quit it, Jerry”…all the while Styles was holding Lynn for Siaki to attack him.  It was a moment ala “stop hitting yourself” if that helps you to make sense of things.  The promo ended with Styles helping Siaki to put Lynn inside one of the big rolling cases backstage, and then Styles closed the lid and sat on top of the case saying, “you’re lucky Bullet Bob didn’t see that!”  Priceless.

Highlight: Sonny Siaki disrupts Tag Team #1 Contender’s Match – The Flying Elvises (Yang and Estrada) were battling the S.A.T., and when Yang was sent outside the ring, Siaki (who had been standing on the ramp) came to the ring and asked to be tagged-in by Estrada.  Jorge actually fell for it, of course, and when Siaki jumped down from the apron without being tagged, one of the S.A.T. was able to score the pinfall with a Rollup from behind.

Lowlight: The debut of Mr. Wrasslin’ III – He actually wasn’t given a name until next week’s show, but that’s what happened when he jumped Tha Truth after his match against Low-Ki.  I was also rather miffed by the fact that the “big names” came out after the incredibly exciting and hard-fought X-Division Title Match…it was a battle of the WWF(E) cast-offs pitting Brian Lawler and Jeff Jarrett v. BG James and Syxx Pac – A very Russo moment, because it says to me that every show has to end with a main event that is an all-over the arena brawl.

Wrassler o’ the week: AJ Styles – The storyline might have been meant to overshadow his match, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t bust his ass…and he was also in the best promo of the night (and one of my favorite promos in recent memory, at that), so he was a shoe-in for this honor.

Week XVI

Best Match: X-Division Ironman Match: Kid Kash v. Tony Mamaluke v. Ace Steel v. Low-Ki – This was a 15-minute Ironman contest, and it was set to end with all four men scoring one pinfall each…but then Senior Official Scott Armstrong allowed a pinfall that clearly was after the bell had rung to end the match, and there was also interference by Mortimer Plumtree (see below).

Best Promo: After brawling with Sonny Siaki, Jerry Lynn is thrown off the stage.  His leg is injured and the X-Division Title Match scheduled for later might have to be cancelled. – This show was probably the best written from beginning to end, as one storyline arched across the entire program.  Siaki injured Lynn after the first match, but he was set to defend the X-Division Title against AJ Styles in a Ladder Match.  So the NWA: TNA matchmakers decided to have the X-Division Ironman Match to determine whom would replace Lynn in taking-on AJ Styles for the title.  In the second-best promo of the night, Low-Ki entered to demand that Ace Steel not be given the title shot because of interference by Mortimer Plumtree…so they decided that Steel would take-on Low-Ki, and the winner of that match would immediately go against AJ Styles for the title.  Things weren’t going to be that easy, however.  Plumtree again interfered on Steel’s behalf, and when Low-Ki lost by count-out, Bullet Bob declared that the X-Division Ladder Match was open to “anyone in the back” that wanted to fight for it.  (Keep that in mind as you read below.)

Highlight: AJ Styles hits a Shooting Star Press from the top rope to the floor – That may not seem impressive enough to garner highlight o’ the week honors, but Styles hit this move not from the corner turnbuckles, but from the middle, halfway between the two corners.  When he jumped up onto the top rope, he literally stood on the top rope before leaping forward with a picture-perfect Shooting Star Press to the floor.

Lowlight: There were a few lowlights this week, but the one that had the most impact was when Syxx Pac won the X-Division Title Match – The match was Jose Maximo v. Joel Maximo v. Kid Kash v. Tony Mamaluke v. Ace Steel v. AJ Styles, and at the very end when everyone was out on the outside of the ring, Syxx Pac entered, climbed the ladder and won the title…totally cheapening the X-Division belt in the process.  Another lowlight was when Ron Harris got a Tag Team #1 Contender’s Match – The booking committee had their collective heads up their asses for a few weeks, as Harris lost a Tag Title Match one week, then came back the very next week with a new partner and got another shot at the titles, which they lost…then this week he had another new partner, and got a #1 Contender’s Match, which they lost.  Finally, Chris Rock cut a promo that was shorter than his entrance – I don’t know how much they paid Rock for his appearance (possibly nothing, as he recorded some scenes for his new movie in front of the live audience after the event), but he took just 45 seconds to get to the ring, then cut a 30 second promo.  I’m not saying that I’d rather see him involved deeply in storylines or wrassle in a match or anything like that, I’m just saying that he could’ve been in the ring for more than a minute and said something worthwhile, even if that is only to put-over his new movie.  By putting him out there to recite only two sentences, it just makes us paying customers feel like we were ripped-off.

Wrassler o’ the week: Low-Ki – Very few men could possibly lose two matches on the same show and still emerge as Wrassler o’ the Week, but Ki was written-out of TNA after this show, and his selling of the “leg injury” that they used to write him out was superb, and then he came limping back to the ring to challenge Steel even with a bad wheel.

Week XVII

Best Match: Chris & Rick Michaels v. America’s Most Wanted (champs) World Tag Team Titles Match – This was the debut of Chris & Rick Michaels (no relation) for TNA, and the match was really good.  Unfortunately, nothing really became of this, as Michaels and Michaels would simply disappear soon enough.  I was all set to name AJ Styles v. Syxx Pac as match o’ the week until it ended in a week DQ…see “Lowlight” below for details on that.

Best Promo: Jerry Lynn has “bought and sold punk-ass bitches” like Sonny Siaki for 14 years – Those are Lynn’s words when he addressed Siaki regarding Siaki’s involvement in injuring Lynn’s leg last week.

Highlight: The World Title Match was properly billed as the Main Event – You know, it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but when Jeff Jarrett and BG James and Scott Hall and Syxx Pac, etc. have been brought out after the most exciting matches of the night for so long, it was a treat to see the World Title placed appropriately on the card…even if it was against another WWF(E) cast-off in Curt Hennig.

Lowlight: Speaking of WWF(E) cast-offs, this was the show when TNA tried to out-WWE the WWE – Those of you that don’t watch TNA but do watch WWE will remember the ppv in which the main event ended in disqualification because one of the combatants struck the ref…I never saw that ppv, but I remember that people were riled-up.  Anyway, someone on the TNA booking committee decided that they could use that ending in Syxx Pac’s match and do it even better.  I’m not totally against the DQ ending…if it’s done properly, have Pac turn and physically assault two or three refs, then disqualify him.  The way this was done was just enough to piss people off…Pac had Styles in the corner, and when the ref tried to intervene, Pac waved him away (possibly without even striking the ref at all), and the ref called for the bell.  The ref was never even knocked off his feet.

Wrassler o’ the week: Jorge Estrada – With Low-Ki out with an injury, Jerry Lynn delegated to promo-only status due to injury, and AJ Styles involved in a WWE-lite match, I had to search elsewhere and that’s where I found Estrada.  He opened the show with a promo in which he introduced his new valet Priscilla, and notified us that he would be starting a nationwide search for a new Flying Elvis.  He lost his match to Sonny Siaki, but it was a great match.  So there!

**Disclaimer**  At this point in the reviewing of all of the TNA programs, I came to a crossroads with only a couple of days left and nine more programs to watch.  While it is true that I have been utilizing the fast-forward button up to this point, I have also been happy to watch and re-live some of the more exciting matches (and in some cases, the less exciting ones, too).  Anyway, at this point, I will be getting much more liberal with my use of the FFW button, and as such my details will probably become a little skimpier…one thing that I can say about that is that we are reaching the point in the year in which I started feeling let-down by the programming anyway.  So, let’s make the best of it, and move on…

Week XVIII

Best Match: Sonny Siaki v. Jerry Lynn – Most of the match was dominated by Siaki as he worked-over the knee of Lynn.  In the end, Lynn won with a roll-up from behind.

Best Promo: Jerry Lynn promo on Siaki – Lynn states that young guys like Siaki have been trying to use him as a stepping-stone to further their own careers for a long time.  That’s nothing new…that’s the way the business has always been.

Highlight: AJ Styles wins the X-Division Title in a No-DQ Match – After the travesty that was last week’s X-Division Title Match, Syxx Pac agreed to defend the belt with no disqualification, and when Styles began to apply the Styles Clash, Pac crawled through his legs (in a Boston Crab-like position) and grabbed the rope, only to have Brian Lawler crack him over the head with a foreign object, allowing Styles to hit the Styles Clash and obtain the victory.

Lowlight: Syxx Pac makes Brian Lawler cry – After Lawler’s match, Pac drug April onto the stage and deep-tongue kissed her, causing Lawler to make a series of silly faces, culminating in a weak imitation of someone crying.

Wrassler o’ the week: AJ Styles – The first ever Two-Time X-Division Champion, AJ Styles, that is!!

Week XIX

Best Match: The Amazing Red v. AJ Styles (champ) X-Division Title Match – This match closed-out the show, and it was good to see Red to get the opportunity to headline a broadcast.  Originally, I was going to nominate the rematch of Siaki v. Jerry Lynn, which was a Qualifying Match in the Tournament for the #1 Contender’s spot for the World Heavyweight Title.  See “Highlight” below for the reasoning that changed my mind.

Best Promo: Scott Hall blushes when Tenay mentions his accomplishments – In an “Earlier Today” segment, Tenay conducted a sit-down interview with Wrasslin’s Real Outlaw, and when he began listing the titles that he has held (4X Intercontinental Champ, Multiple-Time WWF and WCW Tag Champ), Hall began to turn red and was visibly embarrassed.  It was enough to have my wife saying, “Aww…He’s so cute!”

Highlight: The live crowd is red-hot for The Amazing Red – The match was good, but after watching XXXV-plus hours of X-Division excitement over the last week, it all started to run together in my head.  It was when I slowed the tape to regular speed so that I could see how rabid the audience in attendance was each time that Red scored a nearfall that made my decision easy.

Lowlight: Syxx Pac is not there, but his match gets set-up anyway – This was the week that Pac got pushed without working.  Syxx Pac was set to take-on Brian Lawler in a Qualifying Match in the World Title Tournament, and even though he was a no-show they played the replay package to set-up the match, and then allowed Lawler to have two promo segments back-to-back.  That much Lawler is enough to guarantee a spot in this category from me!

Wrassler o’ the week: The Amazing Red – This was really a no-brainer.  Part of Red’s heat came from the fact that AJ Styles is just that good at playing the cocky-heel…I’ll freely admit that.  That doesn’t change Red’s accomplishments over the course of TNA’s history, however.  Last week he won a 5-Way Elimination Match to become the #1 Contender, and the crowd’s reaction to him was…amazing.

Week XX

Best Match: Jerry Lynn v. AJ Styles (champ) X-Division Title Match – The bullshit quotient of the shows was getting turned-up at this point, and so it becomes increasingly necessary to search for the one or two X-Division matches on the card for action that emphasizes the sport over the entertainment.  TNA put together a nice replay package to play before the match, which included quotes from such luminaries as Dave Meltzer, proclaiming Lynn v. Styles “Feud o’ the Year”.  I’m not going to get ahead of myself, but I will say that in this particular match, Mortimer Plumtree deserves kudos for helping the finish to be more impactful.  Plumtree climbed onto the apron when Lynn started to put Styles in position for the Cradle Piledriver…when Styles reversed it, Plumtree turned to the crowd with his arms raised, celebrating.  With his back to the ring, he didn’t see Lynn reverse the move again, and when he connected with the Cradle Piledriver, Plumtree assumed he had heard Styles land a move and get the three-count.  The look on Plumtree’s face as he entered the ring and heard Jeremy Borash announce “The winner and NEW X-Division Champion…” was priceless.  Mortimer Plumtree has become a delightful surprise on TNA programming, as I was certain that I wasn’t going to like him when he debuted with The Brothers Johnson on the first few programs.

Best Promo: Tha Truth has an open contract for Mr. Wrasslin’ III – This was back when this storyline still had hope that an actual wrassler would be under the Mr. Wrasslin’ III hood.

Highlight: 54th Anniversary Show Highlights are shown to open the program – I was partly convinced that they were going to try and convince us that the NWA had been in existence for 90-something years there for a little bit, so I was reassured that someone somewhere is still grounded in reality when they showed these highlights…including footage of Jorge Estrada winning the North American Heavyweight Title, a belt that he would not bring onto TNA broadcasts.  Another highlight from this show, and possibly the best finish to any match on TNA is the finish to the X-Division 5-Way Elimination Tables Match…the finish came when Kid Kash put Joel Maximo on a table on the floor, then climbed to the top turnbuckle with Jose Maximo, and with a huricanrana Jose was thrust onto his brother and both went through the table, scoring the victory for Kid Kash.

Lowlight: Brian Lawler collapses in the ring – When April left the ringside area with Syxx Pac, Lawler grabbed his chest, made a series of goofy faces, and fell motionless in the ring.  April ran back to the ring to be by his side as Don West tried to convince us that Lawler might have just had a heart attack on ppv…the lone saving grace for this segment was that the crowd chanted “Die! Die! Die! Die!”

Wrassler o’ the week: Tie: Jerry Lynn and AJ Styles – Sure, Lynn won to become the two-time X-Division Champion and I should probably give him the nod for that accomplishment, but this match was presented as “The Feud That Put The X-Division On The Wrasslin’ Map”, and as such I think that both men deserve this honor.  The match itself was exactly as exciting as you would expect, and contained a dramatic segment in which each man kicked-out of the other’s finishing move.  I’m fairly certain that it was the first time I’d seen anyone kick-out of the Styles Clash (besides Styles himself), and I am also led to believe that it was the first time I’d ever seen anyone besides RVD kick-out of Lynn’s Cradle Piledriver (maybe Justin Credible or Steve Corino when they battled for the ECW World Title at the very end of ECW’s existence, too).

Week XXI

Best Match: Tie: Jimmy Yang v. The Amazing Red and Kid Kash v. AJ Styles v. Jerry Lynn (champ) X-Division Title Match – I was a huge fan of Red’s before TNA started, and so it is great for me to get to see him on such a prominent spot.  This match against Yang was fantastic, and this was also the first match in which Yang was not wearing his Elvis jumpsuit.  As for the 3-Way Dance, what more can be said about the Styles v. Lynn feud?  Kash was a good addition to this match, as he makes a good tweener…against Styles he played a great face, and then when he was pitted against Lynn the crowd would boo him.

Best Promo: AJ Styles and Mortimer Plumtree reveal that Styles had an automatic rematch clause in his contract – This was the promo that set-up the 3-Way Dance, as Styles announced that the announced Title Match, Kash v. Lynn would not happen.  Lynn anticipated this sort of move by Styles and Plumtree, and had previously gotten approval from the TNA committee to challenge Styles and turn the match into a 3-Way Dance.

Highlight: BG James really is that dumb! – When Jeff Jarrett offers to shake his hand, James says, “How dumb do you think I am?”  Moments later, he shakes Jarrett’s hand, and as wrasslin’ logic dictates, Jarrett kicks him in the gut and the beatdown begins!

Lowlight: Brian Lawler catches April in the shower – Standing outside the shower with shaving cream lathered all over her tits, at least she recognized that Lawler brought a camera into the bathroom and called him on it.  Oh, and at the end of the promo Bruce peeked out from behind the shower curtain…so he’s not gay anymore.

Wrassler o’ the week: Jerry Lynn – Through all the commotion of who is going to challenge for the X-Division Title, Lynn quietly helped to put together a fantastic match, and in the end the champ retains.

Week XXII

Best Match: Red v. Jerry Lynn (champ) X-Division Title Match – Once again Red is put into a prominent position on this broadcast, and he makes the most of it…see below for details.

Best Promo: The Amazing Red slowly loosens-up in front of the camera – In a segment taped earlier today, Mike Tenay interviewed Red in front of the TNA logo on the stage.  At the beginning of the promo, Red simply answers Tenay’s questions (“I’m from Brooklyn…I’m 20…I was trained by Mikey Whipwreck”), but after a few questions he begins to feel more comfortable in front of the camera and we learn that he was inspired to become a pro wrassler by Rey Mysterio, Jr., and later when he began to trade for tapes from Japan.

Highlight: AJ Styles pins both opponents at once in a 3-Way Dance – AJ v. Crimson Dragon v. Jorge Estrada was a good match that would probably get nominated for Match o’ the Night if it weren’t for the very impressive X-Division Title Match.  The finish saw Styles land the Styles Clash on Crimson Dragon from the second turnbuckle onto Estrada, who was lying on the mat below, and Styles was able to get both men’s shoulders on the mat for the 3-count.

Lowlight: Malice chases the cheapest of all types of heat – Any time you see someone come to the ring wearing a vest that says “I HATE YOU” on the back, you know it’s bush-league.

Wrassler o’ the week: The Amazing Red – He was sent out to the ring with the mission of making Jerry Lynn look like a million bucks, and he got himself over in the process…I guess that’s kinda how wrasslin’ works, eh!

Week XXIII

Best Match: AJ Styles v. Jerry Lynn (champ) X-Division Title Match – I really am trying to nominate matches besides Styles v. Lynn for this category, but by this time in the year the shows were littered with Russo silliness and matches that deserved to be dark matches, so it was a little hard to find anything else that was great.  I wanted to give the nod to The Briscoe Brothers v. Divine Storm, but there were a few botches spots and the flow of the match suffered from it at times.  A good match, but Styles and Lynn are seamless when they are in the ring together, and so they get the spot here.

Best Promo: Sonny Siaki will no longer wrassle in any matches besides Title Matches and Main Events – In the last three weeks Siaki has been pitted against Chris Vaughn, in a tag match with EZ Money against Divine Storm, and this week against Crimson Dragon.  After his match against Dragon, he grabbed the mic and made the declaration that he would not have his talents wasted any more.

Highlight: Brian Lawler quits – His promo drug on-and-on, and he tried like hell to cry, but in the end Lawler declared that we would never see him again…of course the very next segment was footage of him leaving out the back door, so we did actually see him again, but as long as he never comes back, I’m not going to quibble!

Lowlight: Alex Winters v. EZ Money – The match itself wasn’t bad or anything, but the fact is that Money hasn’t been on TNA programming long enough to be expected to carry the fourth match on the card (of eight) against someone we’ve never seen before.  Either the match should’ve been first or someone else should have been placed against Winters.

Wrassler o’ the week: Jerry Lynn – When I loaned one of my TNA tapes to a friend that has only seen WWF(E), he said to me, “I didn’t know Jerry Lynn still had it in him.”  ‘Nuff said 

Week XXIV

Best Match: EZ Money v. Kid Kash v. The Amazing Red Joel Maximo v. AJ Styles (X-Division 4-Way Double Elimination Match) – Red was originally slated to be in the match, but he was attacked during his entrance by Styles, and so when he was injured he was replaced by his cousin Joel.  The match was good, although not quite on the same level of the first 4-Way Double Elimination Match that was put on in the X-Division, but that match was to crown the very first X-Division Champion, so the comparison is unfair.  A good match, which was won by EZ Money.

Best Promo: Sonny Siaki will beat Jerry Lynn for the X-Division Title, whether the match is tonight, next week or next month – Goldy interviewed Siaki, and between sexual innuendos aimed at Goldy, Siaki declared that he would beat Lynn regardless of when the match takes place…it turns out that Lynn was injured last week in his match against Styles, and so the match that was scheduled for tonight is postponed until next week.

Highlight: Athena is finally brought out – It might not have turned-out pleasant in the end, but after weeks of seeing “We Want Athena” signs in the audience, it was nice of them to finally bring her out and let us see her.

Lowlight: Lame-ass New Church stuff eats up several segments – This was the week in which Harris & Storm faced Slash & Lee in two singles matches, with the winners of the two matches getting Father Mitchell in a 3-Way Leather Strap Match.  Of course Harris & Storm won their matches, and of course Father Mitchell refused to get in the ring until they were both knocked-out, and of course Belladonna was offered as a sacrifice, and finally of course I fast-forwarded through it all the second time around!

Wrassler o’ the week: EZ Money – I was just beginning to come around to EZ Money when ECW went under, and I didn’t watch WCW so I never saw him there, so this was the first time I had gotten to see him in a couple of years.  It didn’t take long for him to win me over again…it will be interesting to see if they can find a believable way to use him as time goes on.

Week XXV

Best Match: AJ Styles v. The Amazing Red – A grudge match from last week when Styles attacked Red on the stage, Red was able to eek out a victory with a huricanrana from the top turnbuckle…a ‘rana so powerful that it caused Styles to flip 450°, landing on his stomach.  Also, I want to point out that Red was wearing an S.A.T. shirt that is available from Ring of Honor.

Best Promo: AJ Styles sits-in on commentary after his match – When Tenay and West welcome him to the broadcast table, he asks, “What happened?”  When told that Red defeated him in their match, Styles hollered, “He cheated!”  Mortimer Plumtree vowed to file a petition against “Junior Official” Rudy Charles.

Highlight: Jason Cross debut – For those of you that don’t know Cross, I saw footage of him from NWA Wildside on the Best of AJ Styles tape that we picked-up at the 54th Anniversary show.  Cross had played a fake-AJ Styles at one point in Wildside, in fact.  His debut had added significance because just last week he was featured on the TNA syndicated program.  Oh, and I also wanted to lay a little 3-Degrees of Separation on you…This is Cross’ debut for TNA against Tony Mamaluke; I have vivid memories of Mamaluke’s debut for ECW against Mikey Whipwreck (those that remember it remember that Mamaluke appeared to break his frickin’ neck landing on the guardrail); and Mikey Whipwreck made his debut in WCW against Billy Kidman on a ppv that I saw, and I can remember predicting big things for Whipwreck’s future in WCW.  Hey, I never claimed to be Nostradamus!!

Lowlight: Jorge cut his hair! – Yes, the era of the afro wearin’ Elvis is over.

Wrassler o’ the week: AJ Styles – He was in the match o’ the night, the promo o’ the night, and the highlight o’ the night involved someone that used to play his impersonator…nobody else even comes close!

Week XXVI

Best Match: X-Division Gauntlet Match (Jason Cross v. Amazing Red v. Tony Mamaluke v. Jimmy Rave v. Sharkboy v. Kid Kash v. Ace Steel v. Jose Maximo v. Joel Maximo v. David Young) – The rules from the original Gauntlet Match were tweaked to accommodate the high flying X-Division competitors, so instead of being a standard Battle Royal, each man was eliminated via pinfall or submission.

Best Promo: BG James imitates Jim Ross – During a beatdown by Sports Entertainment X-treme, James took-over the broadcast position and hollered such JR-isms as “Business is about to pick up!” and my favorite, “Stone Cold wins!  Stone Cold wins!”  More on the Sports Entertainment X-treme shenanigans below.

Highlight: Jason Cross wins the X-Division Gauntlet Match – The fact that he was the first entrant in the match should have been my first clue.  Actually, the first clue should have been the fact that two weeks ago he was featured on the syndicated show, last week he was in the opening match of the ppv, and this week he is in the #1 Contender’s Match.

Lowlight: Low-Ki returns to television as part of the nWo B-Team ’02 – I had been screaming for Low-Ki to come back for weeks at this point, but when it was as part of Russo’s B-Team I was incredibly disappointed.  Ki had been featured prominently for the first four months of TNA programming, and all along he had gotten over with the fans based almost solely on his in-ring ability.  Also, the fans cheered him, demanding that he would be face.  Then after Ki disappeared for a couple of months, somebody decided that in order to get him over again he would have to be wrapped-up in Russo’s ridiculous gimmick…now all of a sudden his in-ring ability isn’t enough anymore.

Wrassler o’ the week: Jason Cross – As described above, going from the syndicated program to #1 Contender in the span of less than a month is enough for Cross to grab all of the Best of awards for this week’s program.  I am also going to give a sarcastic nod to Vince Russo for this award.  I have tried to avoid harping on Russo and his stupid gimmick that has dominated the last month of TNA programming.  I wanted to make sure that my column concentrated on the guys that bust their asses in the ring, but in the end it was difficult to ignore the fact that Russo was on screen for more than 25 minutes, with more than 5 more minutes devoted to people cutting promos directed at Russo.  That means more than ¼ of this show was devoted to Vinnie Ru…and that doesn’t include the matches involving members of Sports Entertainment X-treme in which the majority of the commentary was devoted to Russo.  With three out of five matches involving members of his faction, which easily means that more than half of the program was devoted to Vinnie Ru…at the height of the nWo, Hulk Hogan wishes he could’ve done so well!!

…And now, here are some of my favorite (and least favorite) events and personalities from NWA: TNA programs in 2002.

Wrassler o’ the Year

1.  AJ Styles
2.  Jerry Lynn
3.  Ron “Tha Truth” Killings

As far as the voting from “Wrassler o’ the Week” goes, Styles and Lynn received eight votes each, clearly running away with that voting.  I am not basing the Wrassler o’ the Year solely on those results, however…as Low-Ki finished next with four votes, then there was Siaki and Red, who received two votes each, and the following men received a single vote each: Yang, Jarrett, Killings, Estrada, Money, Cross…and Russo.  Anyway, I really felt that Styles was the “go to guy” on each and every TNA broadcast.  Lynn was the consummate professional, continuously helping to elevate some of the younger X-Division guys…and getting himself over each and every week in the process.  Tha Truth really impressed me as Heavyweight Champ, and when we met him at the Anniversary show in Corpus Christi, he carried himself with the aura of a champion…except for the fact that we saw him outside smoking a cigarette!

Match o’ the Year

1.  Triple Ladders Match (AJ Styles v. Jerry Lynn v. Low-Ki) – Week XI
2.  Three Way Dance (Low-Ki v. Jerry Lynn v. AJ Styles) – Week VIII
3.  3-Match Series (AJ Styles v. Jerry Lynn) – Week X
4.  Tag Titles Match (Flying Elvises v. AJ Styles & Jerry Lynn) – Week VI

From the moment that I took-over these recaps and had a public forum to express my opinions I have talked about how great the Triple Ladders Match was, so I’m not going to rant too much on it here.  The 3-Way Dance that I selected was the match in which Low-Ki won the X-Division Title.  The Styles v. Lynn 3-Match Series was recorded the same night as the Ladders Match of course, and just to show how fair I can be, I nominated the Elvises Tag Title shot.  This was the match when Siaki came to the announce table and presented commentary while Estrada carried most of the match.

Feud o’ the Year

1.  AJ Styles v. Jerry Lynn
2.  Flying Elvises come apart

Were there any other storylines that lasted long enough to qualify?

Show o’ the Year

1.  Week X
2.  Week XVI
3.  Week VII

Weeks X and XI were the ones recorded together, and that was when they really hit the bull’s eye…for me, at least.  Week X featured the 3-Match Series between Lynn and Styles, of course, and also a 2 out of 3 Falls Match between Sonny Siaki and Jimmy Yang.  There was an X-Division Title Match as Low-Ki defended the belt in a 4-Corners Match against all three members of the S.A.T., and Tha Truth carried Monty Brown to a fantastic World Title Match.  Week XVI was the show that featured X-Division Chaos.  When I first viewed this program I didn’t think I liked it because it appeared that there were a couple of legitimate injuries that went along with the worked ones.  Upon second viewing, I am less bothered by the fact that Mamaluke might have injured his shoulder…considering that he came back out for the title match and didn’t seem to be hindered by it.  This was also the show in which Styles stood on the top rope before launching a Shooting Star Press to the floor.  Week VII was the show that Styles and Lynn escorted one another out for their individual matches, only to see Styles turn on Lynn after his match.  Jarrett had a mini-stroke, Bruce challenged for the Miss TNA crown, and Tha Truth convinced Ricky Steamboat to grant him a World Title Match…these things helped this show make it onto this list because of the impact that it had on the history of TNA.

Most Over-Rated

1.  Malice
2.  Monty Brown

I don’t know whose ass Malice had to kiss in order to get pushed to the main event at the beginning of TNA programming, but I HATE HIM.  I don’t have any real animosity towards Brown, but I just don’t think that he was ready for the main event.

Most Under-Rated

1.  Briscoe Brothers

Their match on Week IV was cut short due to interference by Malice, so they were never really given an opportunity to shine (at least not with the cameras on), and they wouldn’t show up again until Week XXIII.  With Low-Ki, Christopher Daniels and Elix Skipper joining Russo’s B-Team, hopefully the Briscoes will get the opportunity to come back and battle against them.

Best Heel

1.  AJ Styles
2.  Tha Truth

These two guys literally were the driving force behind TNA championship storylines, with all three titles being held by one of them at different times…and once the fans got to know them, they couldn’t stop boo-ing!

Worst Heel

1.  Malice
2.  Brian Lawler
3.  The Dupps

Malice quietly disappeared, then came back, but he seems to have quietly disappeared again; Lawler announced that he quit; and the Dupps declared that they would not return after losing the Dupp Cup to Teo the midget.  If things stay the course, then I’ll be 3-for-3!

Best Face

1.  Low-Ki
2.  Jerry Lynn
3.  Jorge Estrada

I don’t care if they are trying to make Ki a heel now, since I’m not recapping anymore!  They teased making Lynn heal at the beginning of his feud against Styles, but in the end it’s easier to cheer for the veteran with the cocky young heel gunning for him.  Finally, Jorge Estrada was the consummate gentleman when my wife and I met him in Corpus Christi, so I had to make sure that he made my list somewhere!

Worst Face

1.  Brian Christopher

What can I say; during his first couple of appearances the fans cheered him.  Of note, I was not in the live audience.

Most Missed Performer

1.  Slick Johnson
2.  Briscoe Brothers
3.  Devon Storm

Slick Johnson is the bald referee with a goatee, and I liked him because he was much more animated than such men as Rudy Charles…and I forget the name of the other “Junior Official” that they have.  I have already addressed my issues with how they handled the Briscoes.  As for Devon Storm, he was only featured on a few shows, and was never really given the opportunity to shine on his own…he was stuck in the convoluted New Church storyline.

Best Finisher

1.  Sty les Clash
2.  Red Star Press
3.  Cradle Piledriver
4.  Shooting Star Legdrop

The fact that I bought the Best of AJ Styles tape at the Anniversary show should have given you a clue as to how some of these categories were going to go…I’m certainly not going to apologize for repeatedly voting for my favorite wrassler!  The Red Star Press is a Twisting Senton from the top turnbuckle, and Red can really heat-up a crowd with it.  As for Jerry Lynn and his Cradle Piledriver, I voted for it here because of his tendency to apply it from the middle turnbuckle, or of course from the third rung of a ladder!  The Shooting Star Legdrop is what elevated Jason Cross to the top of the card so fast.

Best Move (Non-Finisher)

1.  AJ Styles’ Moonsault into an Inverted DDT
2.  Amazing Red’s Red Star Press
3.  Jorge’s Running Shooting Star Press

When Styles lands the Moonsault into an Inverted DDT it is poetry in motion, and if I could capture that move in a bottle I could give it to people as an example of why I love wrasslin’.  About a year ago when I got a tape that featured Red and I got to see his Standing Shooting Star Press, I quickly became a mark for him.  Jorge’s Running Shooting Star is actually the more impressive move, but I’m not quite the mark for Jorge that I am for Red.

Here are a few odds-n-ends to finish off the column:

The first show without Ed Ferrara – Week X.  I never had anything against Ferrara’s commentary, but after re-watching all the shows I am happy that they allowed Don West to be more of a presence.

Best Chant – “Zip Your Pants!  Zip Your Pants!”  Tha Truth was doomed to be the recipient of this chant in his first title defense against Monty Brown.  A classic moment.

Best Sign – “It’s Still August 21st” was seen during the August 28th show.  Funny.  Also there was “Hire Balls Mahoney”, which I am partial to because I met Balls once after an event in Green Bay.

Finally, I present to you the Evolution of the New Church:

Disciples o’ the New Church – Slash & Tempest (debuted Week IV)

New Disciples o’ the New Church – Slash & Kobain (debuted Week XI)

NEW New Disciples o’ the New Church – Slash & Brian Lee (debuted Week XIX)

PEACE

E-MAIL SCOTTY
BROWSE THE PPV RECAP ARCHIVES

In addition to enjoying pro wrasslin', Scotty is an avid photographer.  His family website contains over 700 pictures, and has a photo-album dedicated entirely to The Sport of Kings (including a picture from the night he & his wife met New Jack), and is available at: http://www.msnusers.com/TheSzantoNicodemusWedding.


  
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