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FINALLY! A show where I don’t need to discuss the opening montage, so let’s get into this 90 minute edition, shall we?
•ROBERT GIBSON W/ MARQUEZ – MISS: This was 90-120 seconds of nothing. Sadly, loyalty is no longer a hoax because Gibson now has on a RNR Express shirt instead of his weird QAnon looking shirt. He’s happy for Morton and he’s his number one fan, but outside of that, blah.
•TASHA STEELZ vs. THUNDER ROSA – HIT: I’m giving this a hit because visually, Thunder Rosa is wearing the purple and teal reminiscent of the Charlotte Hornets and looks very babyface in it. However, all of her moves, her foot on the throat and attitude is very heel. So we get to see what a babyface Rosa would look like but it’s juxtaposed against such a viciousness heel character. Best of both worlds, for now. Rosa took the lead in this match and we’re all the better for it because Tasha has the look and attitude, but she’s a bit clunky as we’ve seen in other matches and looking at the weird headlock out of the corner that seemed missed or lost in communication. Rosa goes over with a powerful sit-out Sunday Bloody Sunday type maneuver. Afterwards, Thunder Rosa talks with Marquez who asks about what Melina plans but Rosa says ask her because she doesn’t know.
•ALDIS VIGNETTE – MISS BUT NECESSARY: I could have done without this but it was needed to further the Aldis-Scurll rivalry. In short, Aldis will be at Free Enterprise in Baltimore and wants NWA fans to show up and make it their show.
•ROYCE ISAACS AND MAE VALENTINE W/ GALLI – MISS: Do we really need another Drake Maverick story? So, recap this quickly because it sucked. 70s Porn is on a losing streak and Joe says it started when Mae came around and 70s Porn volunteers that it’s not because they haven’t had sex yet. WHAT? COME AGAIN, err, well, you know what I mean. We get it. Royce is a loser dork but damn yall.
•THOM LATIMER vs. TREVOR MURDOCH, TV TITLE TOURNAMENT MATCH – HIT: First, let’s not bury the lede here. On Ten Pounds of Talk, Kelly and I say Lat-ih-mur, Mike says Lat-ih-meer. Stu Bennett and Joe Galli say Lat-ih-mur, but Dave Marquez announced him as Lat-ih-meer! HOW DOES NO ONE KNOW HOW TO SAY HIS NAME DEFINITIVELY?!
That said this was built to be a slugfest that ended up being Latimer getting all the offense in and somehow Murdoch winning with a roll-up out of the corner while never successfully executing a move or landing a strike, at least according to commentary. I’m not checking the tape. The best part of this match, to me, was seeing how mean Latimer is, because as a heel stable, none of Strictly Business is mean and evil. Latimer slugged and beat up Murdoch like he took pleasure in it and that gives Strictly Business some bite to their bark.
•MELINA MONTAGE – HIT: The NWA video editors prove they’re magicians by taking that garbled word vomit from Melina’s first sit-down and later promos and using it as connective and cohesive tissue to show the history of the feud between her and Allysin Kay. They turned chicken sh-t into chicken salad.
•ALLYSIN KAY AND MELINA W/ GALLI – MISS BUT NECESSARY: I reckon this was supposed to heat up the beef between Kay and Melina but instead it just kept them farther apart while standing directly in front of each other. At least Allysin Kay says what we’re all thinking when Melina asks her to understand what she says clearly. She retorts with something like understand what saying, when do we ever?! When do we ever indeed. Melina drops a weak F-bomb and then somehow becomes head booker and inserts Kay in a title match at Hard Times against Thunder Rosa AND a no-DQ match immediately against Marti Belle. And for some reason, Allysin just accepts and gives Melina booking powers. OK? I get that Allysin is the babyface champ of sorts and thus shouldn’t run away from challenges, but who the hell is Melina and why does she get to book the women’s division? Weak segment but at least we get a women’s title match involving this stable finally.
•ALLYSIN KAY vs. MARTI BELLE, NO DQ – 53% HIT: I’m bringing back the just barely hit because that’s what this match was. What creeps it just past neutral and into hit territory? Allysin Kay wrestling on Power and winning. What weighs it down? Allysin Kay puffs her chest out and stands bold to receive strikes from Marti that just suck you out of believability; this is the second match in a row to go outside the ring, as Latimer-Murdoch did, but this is no-DQ so it made sense; Marti grabbed a chair from outside the studio but Allysin gingerly took it without even trying; Marti Belle got the chair back and taps Allysin in the midsection with the top of the chair with the full force of a feather; the two walk and brawl up the stairs and that audience seating is just not conducive to wrestling and looks bad.
That said, there were three great spots in this match. Marti Belle uses the gap in the back of the chair to execute a camel clutch of sorts on Kay, making a great visual. Allysin Kay’s forearms to the chest of Marti are strong and stiff looking and resonate without the need of any leg slaps. Also, whatever that move Allysin won with looked really great and Marti took it effectively.
Marti got a chair and it’s gingerly taken away but she gets it back and then gingerly taps Kay in the midsection but does a decent looking hair pull camel clutch through the chair
•ALDIS-MORTON VIDEO PACKAGE – HIT BUT UNNECESSARY: Again, yall, NWA makes great video packages and this retells how we got to tonight’s main event for the title but it also started the show and we’re only 40 minutes in. Did we really need a reminder?
•SPIRITUAL ADVISOR’S GUIDE TO SELF-HYPNOSIS VHS – HIT BUT WTF?: I LOVE these weird kayfabe adverts sprinkled in Power episodes, but this was so bizarre. A VHS of a bald woman just staring at us. OK? I hope we get a second one though.
•THE POPE AND EDDIE KINGSTON PROMO – MISS: I just don’t like Pope. I don’t get why they’re putting him with Kingston, the best talker on the NWA roster next to Drake. Even here, Kingston says little but outshines Pope, and Pope ran his mouth the most. Allegedly Pope is trying to push Kingston and maybe Homicide to greatness while also looking for his Four Horsemen to change the NWA, but why? Do we need two stables with such a short roster too?
Eddie Kingston is brilliant at showing how much he’s a brother to Homicide by taking the blame upon themselves for wrestling too soon and refusing to enter the TV Title tournament in Homicide’s place because he’d rather be with Homicide. All of this said, if Pope is looking for a game changing group, hanging around Kingston and Homicide seems too lower-middle of the card.
•SHOOTER STEVENS KARATE DEMONSTRATION – HUGE HIT: I just continue to eat all the crow on the Shooter Stevens character. Well, actually I hated Aron Stevens, not Shooter. Sure, I’m splitting hairs, but so what?! Shooter introduces Question Mark, who comes to the ring with two masked Mongrovians bearing wood and the flag and the crowd is hot for Question Mark. We learn that there’s a $99/week Mongrovian Karate dojo somewhere, and that Mongrovian Karate is so effective, the “country” doesn’t even have a nuclear program. WOW!
After some poses and defense showings from Question Mark against his two lackeys that would make even Dwight Shrute jealous, it comes time to break the wood but Shooter wants to do it to earn his fourth degree black belt… I expected a swerve here but not the one we got. I thought oh okay, as soon as Shooter stopped and turned his back to the demonstration, Question Mark would turn on Stevens in an attempt to garner heat again since he’s the most over babyface. Instead one of the lackeys hits Shooter and it turned out it was Ricky Starks! Everything but the ending was great to me, but I can let bygones be bygones here because although Ricky is in the TV Title bracket, why not also chase the National Title too? And they have history also, so good stuff.
•LAST CHANCE “GAUNTLET” FOR ENTRY INTO TV TITLE BRACKET – MISS: So this was part gauntlet match, as one could lose by pinfall or submission, and part battle royale, as one could lose by going over the top rope. What? Why? Why are we overcomplicating this? I really don’t feel like discussing this stupid match in full. Also they don’t even tell us WHY this match is for entry into the bracket. I had to ask Kelly Wells! The Zane Dawson hand injury left a spot open, so this is to fill that spot with one of the many losers from past matches. Let’s wrap this up already. It began with CW Anderson and Caleb Konley, and they provided all the actual action and wrestling in the match; Shooter did Shooter things and hid under the ring until just Colt Cabana and Ken Anderson were left; Ken Anderson cheats Colt out of a handshake and wins with a roll up and after the match Mic Checks him in the ring and outside the ring against the ringpost. Oh, and somehow he looks fatter than Trevor Murdoch, Ken Anderson does. This was just a bunch of dumb. And the tease of having Zicky Dice come out mid match to say he’s already fought twice to qualify made me think oh poor bastard doesn’t know he’s about to fight again but nope! He doesn’t! So why even come out?! What was this entire foolishness?!
•JAMES STORM AND ELI DRAKE W/MARQUEZ – HUGE HIT: LET HIM TALK TO YA! YEAH! The duo are asked about Ricky Morton’s chances and what follows is babyface gold. Drake does his normal shtick but James Storm was in rare form here. He credited Morton for making him want to be a tag team wrestler and conducts a prayer for the Lord to give Morton the strength to unseat Aldis. (Yall, I know NWA is in the south, and us southerners are presumed to be quite Christian, but really? Again with the Jesus stuff on “national television”?) Cowboy’s line of Ricky Morton is like Dale Earnhardt, “number three on the track, number one in my heart, raise hell, praise Dale!” made me pop as a huge Intimidator fan. Look at Cowboy playing to the older audience. Eli gets the mic back lights everything on fire. He began listing people to beat Aldis, “Eli Drake! James Storm! Tim Storm! Mama Storm! Thunderstorm! Sandstorm! Hell, even Dave Marquez!” I don’t care if that was improvised or planned, it was great! Just a great babyface promo from the two and babyface without being white meat and also being so dang entertaining.
•BREAKING NEWS – MISS BUT NECESSARY: Joe Galli, who left commentary early to do this I reckon, fills in the blank spots in the TV Title tournament. Matt Cross has the open spot against Ricky Starks and Dan Maff has the other one vs Zicky Dice. I have no idea who Dan is but he did a good promo until he started screaming but it looks dire for Zicky because Dan is huge. We also got a Flip Gordon promo, and I’m not sure but it looks as if he’s heel in ROH which would be a miscast if you ask me. Galli announces Shooter Stevens vs Scott Steiner because f— you, that’s why, and a tag title match if Morton doesn’t win the 10 pounds. I think it’s good that they have a working relationship with ROH seeing how thin the roster is, but for me, a person who doesn’t watch ROH, I’ve got zero interest in these people. It also shows how rushed they were to get back to PPV without having a real plan, or so it seems to me.
•MAIN EVENT – RICKY MORTON vs. NICK ALDIS (C), NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH – MIIIIIIIIISS, JUST A BIG, BIG MISS: Let me address the good. Billy Corgan was on commentary and was decent, especially when he had Stu announce no “seconds” would be allowed at ringside, thus sending Gibson and Strictly Business to the back. Corgan explained this as waiting to announce it during the match as to prevent having to deal with Aldis’ politicking and hounding. That was a well played move. Also, upon being on commentary, the crowd chanted BILLY and not WILLIAM! Good job, studio audience!
Everything after this stunk and stunk big time. Seeing a younger, more spry Aldis sell these weak strikes from Morton was laughable, but keeping Morton to just punches and strikes was a smart move. The pacing of this match was dreadfully slow and yet never felt deliberate. It didn’t feel like Aldis was controlling the match and being slow to cut the fire out of the crowd, it just felt slow because hey Morton doesn’t have a tag partner and has to be in ring the whole time so they had to keep a sloth-like pace. Corgan seemed to highlight this by saying Morton has been taking people’s best for 30 years in regards to a spinebuster on the ringpost. I think saying 30 years was supposed to seem nicer than saying Morton is 60-plus, instead it made him feel even older in my mind.
In the end, we got the slowest huracanrana into a pin you’ll EVER see, and Aldis damn near had to put Morton’s arms around his legs it was so slow and assisted, closely followed by the slowest small package reversed into another small package, which allowed Aldis to sneak out with a victory.
This match did nothing for Aldis as a heel nor as a champion. It was a plodding watch and I can’t take anymore RNR matches.
•OVERALL – MISS BUT NECESSARY: Look, I get it. They did very little to build out a full card for Hard Times so they just threw 90 minutes at us, some exposition, and breaking news segments to get there, but even still they could’ve trimmed this down to 70 minutes. We didn’t need all the video packages or the VHS advert. Aldis-Morton went on too long to be so slow. The stupid gauntlet battle royale was just a cluster-f. This show could’ve been trimmed neatly and made it a hit. Oh well. Let’s just hope after Hard Times, NWA doesn’t announce a February, March, or even early April PPV.
RECOMMENDED: NWA POWER HITS & MISSES 1/14: Scott Steiner & Wild Cards vs. Robert Gibson & Eli Drake & Storm, Cabana and Anderson, Outlaws Inc. vs. Aron Stevens & Question Mark, Psychologist Austin Idol