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Posted in: The Crow's Nest
The Crow's Nest - Re-Visiting the Past: TNA's Very First Show
By TheCrow
Jul 23, 2012 - 1:13:09 AM



1) Re-Visiting the Past: TNA's Very First Show (22/07/12)



June 19, 2002: Huntsville, Ala.

A little over a year before this date, the world of professional wrestling had been forever changed as both World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling had gone out of business, leaving the World Wrestling Federation as the only true game in town for anyone hoping to make a name for themselves in the industry. Both WCW and ECW had been in financial trouble before they closed their respective doors, and when they went under, many television executives began to view wrestling as bad for business. The history of the industry might beg to differ, but that did not change the reality that, with only one game in town, things might begin to change for the worse.

At least those were the topics being discussed by three men on a fishing trip shortly after these industry-changing events. Jeff Jarrett, Jerry Jarrett, and Bob Ryder were together discussing their respective futures in the wrestling business, and that led to a discussion about a hypothetical wrestling company that didn't rely on television stations, but rather went straight to PPV on a regular basis. While Ryder and the elder Jarrett considered this to just be "fishing talk", Jeff Jarrett took the idea and ran with it. After finding the financial backer needed to set up a fresh wrestling company, Jarrett was ready to venture out on his own. NWA:TNA was ready to be born, and on June 19, 2002, their first show was aired.

They did face a setback at the beginning of the show when, during a dark match, one of the ropes snapped after a 450 lb. wrestler named Cheex hit them hard. The show was set to go live in only a few minutes, and the estimated repair time was significantly longer than that. The producers did their best to shuffle their segments around so that the non-wrestling action would go on first, but the lack of those segments didn't offer a lot more time. It came down to everyone doing what they could, and hoping for the best…

******

I've been writing about TNA for what seems like forever now. I've stuck with the company through their worst moments, no matter how frustrating they were, and now my dedication is finally paying off. TNA is in a better position now than they have been in a long time, and with more fans finally deciding to give their product a chance, they're on the road to becoming a true alternative for wrestling fans on a mass scale. I'm under no illusions that TNA is going to take out WWE any time soon, but I am very optimistic that they are going to become a stronger #2 product. Over the next few columns, I'm going to be taking a look at old TNA events to celebrate the recent success of the company. I figured there was no better way to start than by reviewing the very first TNA event in the company's history. So welcome to a very special edition of The Crow's Nest.

******

The show opens with a large pyro display before Jeremy Borash's introduces Don West as one of the night's hosts. Ed Ferrara is introduced next, followed by "The Professor of Vanilla" Mike Tenay.

The three men convene at the announce booth as Tenay runs down the night's agenda. He says they are there tonight to not only acknowledge history, but to respect it. Tenay says that NWA legends such as Harley Race, Ricky Steamboat and Dory Funk Jr. are in attendance. On top of all that, Tenay says they are here tonight to make history by crowning a new NWA World Heavyweight Champion in a "gauntlet for the gold" later in the evening. Two men will start, and every 90 seconds someone will join. They can be eliminated by being thrown over the top rope, but once it is down to the last two competitors, the final decision will come down to pinfall or submission.



Don West says it's great to be there tonight, but it's time to see some legends! West sends it over to Jeremy Borash in the ring. Borash first introduces "Handsome" Harley Race, who comes out to a solid ovation. Tenay puts him over as one of the absolute best of all time. Next out is Dory Funk Jr., followed by Jackie Fargo. "Bullet" Bob Armstrong, Corsica Joe, Sarah Lee and Bill Behrens are out next. But coming out to the largest ovation of anyone, and carrying the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in his hands, is Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. The legends all join together in the ring as Steamboat grabs a mic.

Steamboat thanks the fans for coming out tonight, and says that it's an honour to be back in the squared circle. He reflects on his match with Ric Flair when he first became the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He says that this belt means more to him than any other belt he has held before, calling it the "ultimate gold". He says that he, along with the other NWA representatives in the ring with him, has selected 20 wrestlers to compete for the belt tonight, announcing that he will be the special guest referee for the final fall of the gauntlet match. The crowd cheers loudly for this announcement as Tenay puts over the championship match.

Jeff Jarrett's music hits, and out he comes to the entrance ramp. Jarrett says that this battle royal tonight is a joke, saying that none of the legends in the ring won the belt in a battle royal, that it used to be all about man-to-man encounters. Jackie Fargo interrupts Jarrett, telling him to shut his mouth. Fargo says that Jarrett is going to be the first man in the gauntlet match tonight, and if he wants to win that belt, he's going to have to beat 19 other men. Jarrett accepts the challenge and turns to walk away.

Ken Shamrock's music hits before Jarrett can leave, and he comes out to announce that he will also be in the championship match tonight. Shamrock says that Jarrett might beat the other 18 guys tonight, but he isn't going to beat #19: KEN SHAMROCK!

Scott Hall's music hits and the crowd goes insane. Hall is shown walking through the crowd with a mic, signalling for his music to be cut. Hall says that he agrees that the battle royal for the belt sucks, but that it's going to happen and they need to stop crying about it. Hall says that both men should focus on one man, SCOTT HALL.

Jarrett says that Hall and Shamrock can both stick it, and says that Jackie Fargo is going to regret his decision to put him in the match at #1. As Jarrett returns to the locker room, Tenay sends the action backstage to Goldy Locks.

******

Locks is backstage with Puppet "the Psycho Dwarf". Puppet says that they're going to see some midget action tonight. He says that he wants to see some midget blood, and he is just the guy to provide that. The interview is interrupted by Jeff Jarrett, who storms through the backstage area kicking over chairs and tables.

******

Match 1: AJ Styles, Low Ki, Jerry Lynn VS The Flying Elvis' (Jorge Estrada, Sonny Siaki, Jimmy Yang)

Styles, Lynn, and Ki offer a handshake before the match starts, but the Elvis' all deny the offer. The Elvis' attempt to ambush their opponents, but are quickly thrown out of the ring.

Styles and Yang start off in the ring, with Styles dominating the action early. He hits a big power slam, before Yang counters with a big head scissors. Styles makes it to his corner and tags in Jerry Lynn. Lynn hits a big backbreaker on Yang for the 2-count before setting Yang up for the tornado-DDT. Yang counters and throws Lynn into his corner, spearing Lynn into the turnbuckles. Siaki is tagged in, but Lynn recovers and dominates the action again.

Lynn hits a bulldog for another 2-count, and tags in Low Ki. Siaki drops Low Ki with a neckbreaker for a 2-count before throwing him into the corner. Low Ki counters a clothesline attempt with a big kick to the face, but Siaki manages to drop Ki with a modified backbreaker for a 2-count. Siaki tags in Estrada, who hits a split-legged moonsault for a 2-count. Estrada pushes Low Ki into the corner and hits a couple of loud chops. Estrada sets Low Ki up on the top rope and hits a big neckbreaker. Estrada nails a running moonsault for a 2-count. Low Ki manages to recover long enough to hit Estrada with a massive kick to the head before tagging Styles back in.

Styles hits an inverted DDT for a 2-count on Estrada. Estrada counters an Irish Whip attempt with a leg-lariat as Low Ki tags himself back in. Estrada hits Low Ki with a big clothesline. All the men are in the ring now after Jerry Lynn hits Estrada with a piledriver. AJ Styles backs Siaki into the corner and Low Ki goes to set up a cartwheel-kick, but Siaki ducks and Styles takes the hit instead. This allows Yang to come back in the ring and hit his finisher on Styles for the win.

Result: The Flying Elvis' win via pinfall (6:26)

Jeremy Borash is in the ring to introduce the next match, which he says will be a "midget match". He introduces Hollywood who is already in the ring, and then introduces his opponent Teo, who makes his way to the ring.

Match 2: Hollywood VS. Teo

Hollywood attacks Teo as he plays to the crowd, but Teo quickly counters and dominates the action. He hits a flying headbutt off the top rope for a 2-count. Hollywood counters a slam attempt and gets a 2-count of his own. Hollywood makes his way to the top rope for a frog splash, earning another 2-count.

Teo recovers and backs Hollywood into the corner for a few big chops. Teo drops Hollywood with a Russian Legsweep before climbing to the top rope to hit a Swanton and earn himself the pinfall.

Result: Teo wins via pinfall (2:49)

Mike Tenay plugs the NWA:TNA website as the "TNA Girls" dance in cages at the top of the ramp. He sends the action back to the ring with Ed Ferrara and Don West.

Ferrara says that something big is coming up next week, and he couldn't wait to tell the fans about it. He says that next week, the fans are going to get to see a lingerie battle royal. But before that, he wants to give the fans a taste of that action. He says that he's going to bring out some of the most beautiful women in the industry who will be competing next week for the title of "Miss TNA".


In case you didn't know, Alexis Laree is the fourth one from the left there. You might not recognize her without her boobs, but that is pre-surgery Mickie James.


Francine, Miss Joni, Shannon, Alexis Laree, Psycho, Erin, Elektra, and Taylor Vaughn are brought out to the ring as Ferrara and West hype the match for next week. Francine grabs a mic and says that none of those women deserve to be in the ring with "The Queen of Extreme". She questions what any of them have ever done for the wrestling business. Elektra grabs a mic of her own and asks who died and named her "The Queen of Extreme". Elektra says that there's a lot of talent in the ring right now, and questions why Francine deserves special treatment since she single-handedly destroyed another wrestling company already. Francine pounces on Elektra and beats her down before rolling out of the ring. Francine retreats up the ramp and says that next week, she's going to be crowned the FIRST "Miss TNA".

******

The TNA Girls are shown in their cages again as Tenay sends the action back to Goldy Locks.

Goldy Locks introduces Mortimer Plumtree. He says that his tag partners do what he tells them to do and wears what he tells them to wear, because they know that they owe their freedom to him. He calls on his partners to make their presence known in this arena tonight, to help him rewrite history: THE JOHNSONS.

Match 3: The Johnsons (w/ Mortimer Plumtree) VS. Psicosis & "The Cowboy" James Storm

Psicosis and one of the Johnsons start off in the ring. Johnson A starts off with some big power moves, but Psicosis is able to counter with a head scissors before tagging in James Storm. Both Johnsons are thrown from the ring and chastised by Plumtree as the camera cuts to Alicia on the ramp.

Back in the ring, Johnson B is tossing Storm around the ring. Storm gets back in the ring and hits Johnson B with a series of punches before dropping him with a bulldog and tagging Psicosis back in. The Johnsons double-team Psicosis before Johnson A throws him into a corner, nailing him with a massive suplex. Psicosis counters a powerbomb attempt and drives his opponent's face into the mat, giving Psicosis enough time to tag Storm back in.


So many "johnson" jokes were made during this match, I actually lost count.


The Johnsons counter, and hit simultaneous suplexes on Storm and Psicosis in the centre of the ring. Storm counters a fireman's carry into a rollup for a quick 2-count. Storm attempts to hit a tornado DDT, but is distracted by Plumtree from the outside. Storm turns around and is slammed to the mat by Johnson B for the pinfall.

Result: The Johnsons win via pinfall (4:51)

The referee backs out of the ring and hands Alicia a handful of cash as Tenay reviews the action of what they just saw.

******

Jeremy Borash is in the ring again, and he introduces Sterling Marlin and Hermie Sadler from NASCAR. Borash says that Sterling is the current leader in the Winston Cup, putting over his race on Sunday. Sterling says that he's very excited, and ready to take it all. Borash turns to interview Sadler, but K-Krush is out to interrupt.



K-Krush says that he's not going to put up with some car racers in his ring, because this is professional wrestling. Krush says that these "athletes" have no business being inside a wrestling ring. He says that his kind are athletes, and that Sterling's kind drive a car around in a circle repeatedly. He says that his grandmother can do what they do. Sadler grabs a mic and asks how anybody can take Krush seriously when he looks like he does. He says that Krush may not know who he is, but there's a lot of NASCAR fans here in Huntsville.

Krush says damn him, and damn Alabama, he's going to introduce Sadler to professional wrestling. Brian Christopher runs down from the back and hits Krush with a big inverted atomic drop and a super kick. Sterling throws Krush out of the ring.

Christopher grabs a mic and tells Krush to listen up. He challenges Krush to a match next week to show what "his kind" can do. He says that Sterling and Sadler will be in his corner next week to support him. Krush is backed up the ring by security as Christopher and the NASCAR drivers celebrate in the ring.

******

Jeff Jarrett is shown backstage choking out Jackie Fargo before security comes to break it up. Jarrett screams at him that he's going to remember this night forever.

Match 4: Christian York & Joey Matthews VS. The Dupps (Stan and Bo) (w/ Fluff)

The Dupps double-team York and Matthews to start the match before York dropkicks both men. Stan and York start things off. Matthews is tagged back in, and they hit a double suplex on Stan for a quick 1-count. Bo is tagged back in and counters an Irish Whip attempt into a massive boot to the face of Matthews for a 2-count. Bo tags his partner back in, throwing Matthews into the corner with a hard whip. Matthews hits a neckbreaker as both men crawl to the corner to tag their partners in. York hits Bo with a big clothesline and attempts to pin him with a sunset flip, but Bo counters. Stan enters the ring but York tosses him aside. York hits a senton splash for a 2-count, but Stan breaks up the pin. Matthews runs in and clotheslines Stan over the top rope.

York heads to the top rope for a moonsault, but Fluff interferes and knocks York down. The ref turns around just in time to see Bo pin York for the win.

Result: The Dupps win via pinfall (3:41)

The Dupps retreat to the back as Tenay reminds everybody of the upcoming gauntlet match. He says that they're going to hear from CMA Award Winning Vocalist TOBY KEITH.

A segment of Keith's music video for "How Do You Like Me Now" is shown before the camera cuts back to Jeremy Borash, who introduces Toby Keith on the stage for a live music performance of "Courtesy of the Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)".



Before Keith can finish the song, Jeff Jarrett comes running out of the backstage and pushes Keith aside. Keith drops his guitar and goes after Jarrett, but is held back by referees and TNA officials.

Jarrett goes into the ring and grabs a mic, saying that no one wants to see Toby Keith and hear his awful song. He tells Keith to beat it so they can get started with the main event of the evening. Jarrett says he has just a few words for Keith and everyone else in the building: "HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW".

Keith is backed up the ramp as Jeremy Borash says that it's time for the main event of the evening. Jarrett prepares himself in the ring.

NWA World Heavyweight Championship: 20 Man "Gauntlet for the Gold"

Before Borash can finish the introduction of the match, Buff Bagwell runs down the ramp, and it looks like he and Jarrett will start things off. Bagwell unloads on Jarrett with a series of punches, countering a hip toss attempt by Jarrett into a big clothesline. Jarrett almost gets thrown over the top rope, but manages to hang on. Bagwell attempts to clothesline Jarrett over the top, but Jarrett ducks down and drops Bagwell over the top for the first elimination of the match.

Borash announces the next competitor as Lash LeRoux. Jarrett throws LeRoux through the ropes and proceeds to beat him down outside the ring. Jarrett brings him back in the ring and hits The Stroke before tossing LeRoux out of the ring.

Norman Smiley comes out as the fourth competitor in the match. Smiley dances around a bit before Jarrett hits him with a big clothesline. Smiley hits a powerslam and plays to the crowd before Jarrett counters with a low blow. Jarrett throws Smiley over the top rope for his third elimination.

Apollo comes out, and Jarrett immediately pounces on him. Apollo doesn't stay down for long as he hits a massive chokeslam on Jarrett and unloads with a couple of big clotheslines. He counters a clothesline attempt from Jarrett into a neckbreaker and attempts to throw Jarrett over the top, but Jarrett manages to hang on. Apollo picks him up and tried again, but Jarrett manages to hang on again. Apollo hits a series of stomps on Jarrett and picks him up, slamming his head into the turnbuckle as the timer runs out and a new competitor makes his way out.

K-Krush runs out and beats down Apollo before he can eliminate Jarrett. Jarrett attacks Apollo from behind and backs him into a corner, hitting him with a series of punches to the head. K-Krush does the same, and Apollo collapses into the corner. Jarrett and Krush attempt to lift Apollo over the top rope as the timer runs out, and here comes our next competitor.

Slash hits the ring, accompanied by James Mitchell. Slash and Apollo battle it out in the ring, with Apollo taking control early with a big back body drop. Apollo nails Slash with a DDT, and he is now the only man on his feet. Apollo lifts Slash in the air and attempts to throw Slash over the top, but Jarrett interferes before that can happen. Slash hits a series of elbow drops on the fallen Apollo, and here comes our next competitor.

Del Rios hits the ring and tries to even the odds for Apollo, but Slash takes control, biting him on the head before backing him into a corner. Jarrett and Krush are in the other corner attempting to eliminate Apollo as Del Rios hits Slash with a release suplex. Del Rios stops Jarrett and Krush as the timer runs out again.

Justice comes into the ring and quickly drops K-Krush, Apollo, and Jarrett. Del Rios backs Slash into the corner, but is stopped by Justice who hits him with a big side slam. Jarrett tosses Apollo over the top, but Apollo manages to hang on. The counter runs down as Slash drops Del Rios with an inverted DDT.


You can't tell by this picture, but Justice is actually a man named Chris Parks, better known to modern wrestling fans as Abyss.


Konnan comes out to a series of boos and immediately drops both Jarrett and Slash with clotheslines. He goes after Del Rios and Justice, and for a moment he is the only one standing. Slash and Jarrett double-team Konnan before Jarrett goes after Apollo again. Del Rios interferes before Apollo drops over the top as our next competitor makes his way out.

Joel Gertner comes out from the back to introduce Bruce from the Rainbow Express as the next competitor. Bruce goes after Apollo but is quickly taken down with a clothesline. The timer runs down again.

Rick Steiner is our next competitor, and out he comes to the loudest reaction so far. He goes after everybody in the ring, dropping them with clotheslines. Steiner grabs Slash and suplexes him over the top rope. Justice attempts to clothesline Steiner over the rope, but Steiner counters with a suplex before clotheslining Justice over the top. Steiner turns his attention to Jarrett and hits him with a big drop as the timer runs out yet again.

Malice runs down to the ring, greeted by James Mitchell. He hits Bruce with a big chokeslam before doing the same to Konnan and K-Krush. Malice grabs Bruce and tosses him over the top, quickly doing the same to both Del Rios and K-Krush. He grabs Konnan next and tosses him over. Steiner attempts to clothesline Malice over the top, but Malice drops down and Steiner is eliminated instead. We are now left with Apollo, Jarrett, and Malice as the next competitor is about to come out.

Scott Hall runs out to the ring and unloads a series of punches on Malice and Jarrett. Rick Steiner is shown on the outside yelling at a referee. In the corner, Apollo is attempting to eliminate Malice. Hall picks Jarrett up and hits the Razor's Edge to a loud crowd reaction. Malice drags Apollo into the corner again and hits a series of stomps as the timer runs out.

Toby Keith enters the ring as the next entrant and immediately guns for Jarrett. He nails a delayed vertical suplex as the crowd goes INSANE. Keith and Hall grab Jarrett and toss him over the top rope, eliminating him from the match. Keith eliminates himself from the match and stalks Jarrett up the ramp.

Apollo and Hall take turns chopping the chest of Malice before shaking hands in the centre of the ring as the timer runs out again.

"Wildcat" Chris Harris runs into the ring and takes out Apollo. Gangrel enters the ring early and takes Harris down before attempting to eliminate Apollo. Gangrel backs Harris into the corner, but Harris counters with a series of punches as the timer runs out and the next competitor is announced.

"Dangerous" Devon Storm runs down to the ring and attempts to throw Apollo out of the ring. Harris attempts to clothesline Storm, but Storm counters with a vertical suplex. Malice tries to take out Apollo, but Hall interferes and they double team Malice into the corner. Storm and Gangrel double team Harris in the corner with punches and chops. Hall sits on the top rope watching the chaos.

Steve Corino is the next entrant in the match and comes to the ring, attempting to eliminate Harris. Hall and Storm are battling it out in one corner as Apollo tries to eliminate Malice in another. Storm hits Hall with a big jawbreaker before kicking him into the corner as the timer runs out again.

Ken Shamrock is the next entrant, and he slowly makes his way down to the ring. He nails a big kick to the side of Corino's head, proceeding to take down both Gangrel and Hall. He tries to kick Malice, but Malice grabs Shamrock and slams him to the ground. Gangrel attempts to eliminate Harris, but Harris hangs on and backs Gangrel into a corner with a series of kicks to the gut. The timer counts down, and we're about to meet our final competitor of the match.

Brian Christopher runs to the ring as the final man in the match. Christopher grabs Harris and quickly tosses him out of the ring. Gangrel attempts to clothesline Christopher out, but he counters and drops Gangrel over the rope instead. Corino tries to take Christopher down, but he counters and clotheslines Corino over the top. Malice grabs Christopher and drops him with a chokeslam. Shamrock picks Christopher off the mat and tosses him out of the ring. Apollo and Hall double team Malice, but Malice counters a clothesline attempt and tosses Apollo out. Hall attempts a Razor's Edge on Malice, but Malice drops Hall over the top rope. Ken Shamrock and Malice are the final two competitors, and will battle it out in a singles match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Special Referee Ricky Steamboat makes his way to the ring.

Shamrock charges Malice, but Malice drops him with a big boot to the face. Malice hits a side slam for a 2-count. Malice nails a vertical suplex for another 2-count. Shamrock slowly tries to get to his feet, but Malice slams his head into the turnbuckle. Malice whips Shamrock into the ropes, and counters Shamrock's sunset-flip attempt with a punch to the head. Malice grabs Shamrock by the throat for a chokeslam, but Shamrock counters and snaps on a cross-armbreaker. Malice struggles attempting to reach the ropes, but Shamrock cinches the submission on even tighter. James Mitchell screams at Malice from the outside as Malice reaches out and grabs the bottom rope.


Alberto Del Rio needs to take notes on how to make the cross-armbreaker look like a legitimately painful finishing move.


Malice gets to his feet and whips Shamrock into the ropes, but Shamrock snaps on an ankle lock right in the centre of the ring. Malice again struggles to make it to the ropes, but Shamrock drags him back to the middle of the ring.

Shamrock drops to his knees, holding on to Malice's ankle. Malice tries to reach the ropes again and does, hooking his arm over the bottom rope. Shamrock refuses to break the hold at first, but does when Steamboat almost counts him out. Malice backs into the corner and Shamrock meets him with a series of kicks to the leg. Malice counters a clothesline attempt and grabs Shamrock by the throat. Shamrock counters with a belly-to-belly suplex for the pinfall victory.

Result: NEW NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ken Shamrock wins via pinfall (39:08)

The crowd goes crazy as Shamrock celebrates in the ring with his new title belt. The announcers hype Shamrock as a force to be reckoned with. Ferrara says that challenging Ken Shamrock to a fight is like running in the Special Olympics: even if you win, you've gotta be retarded to do it.

Cameras cut to backstage as Jarrett confronts Toby Keith, but both men are held back by TNA officials. Ferrara says that if Toby Keith hadn't interfered, Jarrett would have won the title match tonight. Jarrett comes storming to the ring with a mic in his hand, saying that it's wrong that the NWA World Championship was decided in a battle royal match. He approaches the legends at ringside and punches Bob Armstrong in the head before Jackie Fargo and Toby Keith come back to ringside. Fargo calls Jarrett a bunch of names, saying that if Jarrett wants to run his mouth, he's going to get a match next week. Scott Hall runs out and brawls with Jarrett as the show goes off the air.

******

I did not get to watch this show live back in 2002, but I will never forget the day that a friend of my parents' brought me this tape. From the get go, before I even realized how important the show I was watching really was, I was hooked. It didn't matter that this wasn't WWE, because these guys made it WORK. I knew from that day that I was going to be a lifelong fan of this new TNA product, and so far that has proven true. It hasn't always been easy defending this company and I won't pretend there hasn't been times that I've considered not watching anymore, but as I mentioned earlier my dedication as a fan is starting to pay off in a big way. TNA is becoming better than ever before, and I got to watch that evolution from the beginning.

And to think, this might have never happened had it not been for that fateful fishing trip…

That's all for now folks, but I'll be back soon to delve even deeper into the history of TNA. So until next time, thanks for stopping by.

******

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