Last month was the 18th anniversary of Impact Wrestling—NWA-TNA or TNA Wrestling. The company hit the scene with the weekly NWA Total Non-Stop Action PPVs which garnered a lot of praise at the time for presenting an exciting alternative to WWE after ECW and WCW fell.
In some ways, TNA was a WCW offshoot that ended up lasting much longer than the original. Anyway, it’s time for some First Month Fire with NWA Total Non-Stop Wrestling.
The midget match between Teo and Hollywood? Get that out of here, could’ve done without it. Then again, this was a two-hour show so a midget match that is under 3-minutes isn’t going to hurt anyone. That’s an angle or a commercial break. The match was just bad.
Also bad was James Storm and Psicosis teaming up against The Johnsons. This was a match to eat up some time and that’s cool since this is the debut episode and the roster hasn’t even been established yet. It’s 2002 and we haven’t seen how good James Storm would end up becoming.
Remember The Dupps? No? Trevor Murdoch/Trevor Rhodes was one of them. Still nothing? Well, they defeated the team of York & Matthews—a known, long-running team on the indies with ties to the Hardy Boyz—in under 4 minutes.
This much of a cool down between matches is pretty ridiculous and they’re all back-to-back.
The main event saw Ricky Steamboat as a special guest referee. He was a member of the NWA Board or Impact Wrestling’s on-screen authority at the time. The NWA World Title is vacant with Ken Shamrock and Malice (The Wall from WCW) being the contenders.
Shamrock becomes the new NWA Champion and Impact Wrestling’s first world champ—in short fashion. I couldn’t even say this match was mediocre at best with a straight face.
It wasn’t a squash match; it was meant to be an actual title bout and was given squash time. On top of that, it had the audacity to be a bad match.
The one defense I have for this match is that if there’s a battle royal on the card and wrestlers in it have singles matches to do, those singles matches are going to suffer. Just look at WCW Starrcade 1995.
The Gauntlet For the Gold battle royal was pretty fun to watch. I’m mixed on battle royals since they tend to take a while before things really get going. It’s like…you want a fun, fast-paced, exciting game of Uno but you’re playing Monopoly and it stopped being fun ten or fifteen minutes ago.
Those are how battle royals tend to be and that was the case here.
What worked for the Gauntlet is some of the entrants. Devon “Crowbar” Storm was there, “Grandmaster Sexay” Brian Christopher, Buff Bagwell, and “Mr. In Your House” Jeff Jarrett was here as well.
Who else is in this match? A young Abyss, a young Chris Harris, and a young R-Truth? All here. Konnan, Norman Smiley, Rick Steiner, SCOTT HALL, Corino, and Gangrel? They were in the match!
Oh yeah, Ken Shamrock and The Wall were here as well. I was actually stoked to see Shamrock wrestling again when this first aired.
There were some thrills and spills in the match as well but it suffered from running long. And not just a little long, like ten minutes long for a subpar payoff. Honestly, this could’ve been the main event. There was no need for a garbage one-on-one afterward.
The opening match was short but good. We have the early 2000s kings of the indies trio of Jerry Lynn, AJ Styles, and Low Ki teaming up against The Flying Elvises of Sonny Siaki, Jorge Estrada, and Jimmy Yang.
Compared to the rest of the episode, yes this was an exotic-tier bout and the best part of the episode. If anything, they could’ve axed the main event, axed the midget match, and gave this match more time.
Of course, this was a double taping. Regardless, this match really shined on this card.
NWA Total Non-Stop Wrestling #1 Verdict: 5/10
The first episode for Impact Wrestling just wasn’t good. One match stood out, there was a lot of unnecessary bouts, the battle royal ran long, the main event was trash, the standout match was short—but there was a reason for all of that. Regardless, the episode could’ve been better structured.
On that note, it did live up to the name. This episode was very well-paced. The action might have been trash-to-mediocre for the most part but the show just breezed by. The matches alone give it a 4 but there were angles, interviews, and build for the next episode that was all well done.
Also, Mike Tenay and Don West? What a commentary team they would become.
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