NWA Powerrr is a fascinating phenomenon. It’s a classic wrestling show in just about every sense, with one little caveat: it’s distributed through YouTube!
But aside from that, you’ve got a pure studio show, based out of the Georgia Public Broadcasting Studios. It’s under an hour every week. And aside from the distribution, the only telltale signs that this is actually from the modern day is the video quality and the roster they’ve assembled.
Of course going for the nostalgia pop is nothing new. But this isn’t about that. The roster isn’t filled with old-timers that can’t go, though it has become something of a safe haven for veterans that might’ve struggled elsewhere.
Familiar names – mostly TNA/Impact alumni – include the likes of James Storm, Eli Drake, Eddie Kingston, Homicide, Aaron Stevens (aka Damien Sandow), Colt Cabana and Ken Anderson among others. But they mix it up with intriguing newcomers like Ricky Starks, Caleb Konley, the Wild Cards and more.
And of course, the long-reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis leads the charge.
Aldis, the former Magnus of TNA in what must feel like another lifetime for him now, is a classic champ in many ways. He’d almost definitely be a midcarder for life in WWE and most other places, but he is a perfect top guy in NWA. He’s not a ground-breakingly talented individual, but skilled and grizzled in spite of his relative youth. Similarly, he’s not a raving revelation on the mic, but he is at all times believable and carries himself like a champion.
He looks the part and acts the part. He is a stalwart champ, and an interesting character in his own subtle way. There are reasons to respect and admire him; fairness and respect shown to worthy challengers, his desire to restore credibility to the title and the name of NWA itself. There are also reasons to resent and root against him; his keeping a ringside charge in Kamille, and seemingly training her not to speak for herself.
None of this is beaten over your head. And as such, none of it feels phony or forced. Whilst a very simple character in a way, he’s allowed to have his nuances. Unlikable in some regards, but not without his principles. In simplest terms… he feels like a real person. He feels like someone that could feud with Harley Race, or perhaps be his closest ally.
I am a big believer that every form of pro wrestling has it’s place.
There’s a lot that I love about modern wrestling, and a lot that I disagree with Jim Cornette on. I’ve never advocated one singular style of pro wrestling to be the ‘correct’ one. Nor have I ever heralded one companies’ product as being the ‘correct’ way of doing things, even if I might prefer it.
Because wrestling is an art, and art comes in many genres. Just as movies can range from Dramas to Comedies to Horror, and music can range from Rock to Rap to Experimental… so too can many, many forms of pro wrestling exist at once.
And the 80s NWA style is one I am very glad to see make a return. I’m not going to claim it’ll revolutionize the business, or build itself into a prime time alternative. Perhaps the 500k views the premiere episode of NWA Powerrr received was the peak, and the fanbase they have currently is the base they’re gonna have going forward.
But if that’s enough to sustain it, then I’m overjoyed for it. Because it deserves to survive, it deserves to persist. It deserves to be there with all the other options currently provided to us. In this time of a pro wrestling boom of sorts, NWA Powerrr should be right there on your tongue with all the other rising products.
It serves as proof that what’s old can in fact be new again. It’s not technically providing anything brand new, and that’s the point. By merely being pro wrestling in it’s simplest form, it stands out as a wholly different show from everything else. No other modern wrestling show has the kind of presentation this one has.
And make no mistake, the true power behind NWA Powerrr is in the presentation.
It’s really the simplest thing. The whole show is based entirely within the ringside area. The setup for the commentator’s area as well as an interview area are remarkably similar to things you’d see in 80s NWA. You wouldn’t think these would be too important but it does so much to help the show stand out right off the bat.
Interviews are also done just outside the ring, another throwback, as well as done sit-down style in pre-tapes, also visibly in the arena.
The content of those interviews is important. It’s clear that there’s no script here, these are old school promos. It’s another wonderful bit of proof that the old way of doing promos is night-and-day better than WWE’s system. Just the sheer interaction with the crowd, who are by design very close up and involved with every occurrence… the freeflowing nature of the show itself…
The keyword should not be nostalgia, but authenticity.
It’s not even just a style or a look, as these are largely very much just indy wrestlers doing barely toned down versions of their usual matches. But the simple act of letting everyone be themselves rather than playing up a character or even necessarily trying to be a face or a heel is such a strong thing. There’s an air of authenticity to every segment.
It’s amazing, and something that a 20-something like me might not quite be qualified to write about. But after decades of one fourth wall destroying angle after another, after every single stupid thing that Vince Russo booked to intentionally expose the business, after years of mourning the death of kayfabe…
It took just one show. One hour long timewarp of a show to get it all feeling real again. All that it took was giving it the chance. All that it took was the want for it to work.
And just like that, for one promotion atleast, the genie is right back in the bottle.