The Main Event Podcast is going retro, taking a look back at the debut of IMPACT Wrestling, then known as TNA, and their first weekly pay-per-view show. Does it hold up 20 years later? Tune in for our full review and analysis.
How It Started
NWA: Total Nonstop Action (NWA-TNA) was founded by Jeff Jarrett and his father, Jerry, in 2002 and launched into a landscape post the World Wrestling Federation’s acquisition of World Championship Wrestling (WCW). While the WWF had signed a majority of the former talent from WCW, many remained unsigned or locked into high value contracts with AOL/Time Warner. Nonetheless, many wrestlers not signed to the WWF, which rebranded to WWE around the same time as NWA-TNA’s launch, found themselves without a place to ply their craft. Australian promotion, World Wrestling-All Stars (WWA) had begun to fill this void but as they mostly promoted themselves throughout Australia and Europe, they did not appeal to many of the Stateside talent looking for work on home ground. Not to mention, due to the way he had departed WWE in 1999, Jeff Jarrett – perhaps NWA-TNA’s most high profile wrestler – was not welcome in World Wrestling Entertainment and needed a place to showcase his own talents, in addition to the other wrestlers previously mentioned. Their first event was broadcast on pay-per-view on June 19th, 2002 from the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama and that is what we’re here to talk about today.
Total Nonstop Action launched onto our screens with the introductions of Don West, Ed Ferrara and Mike Tenay by ring announcer Jeremy Borash. Mike Tenay said that the first night in TNA would be about tradition and history. Tradition – with legends in attendance, and History – making history by crowning a new NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Jeremy Borash then introduced said legends – Harvey Race, Dory Funk Jr., Jackie Fargo, Bullet Bob Armstrong, Corsica Joe and Sarah Jean, Bill Behrens, and Ricky Steamboat. Steamboat explained the tradition of the NWA belt and announced he would be the special referee in the final stage of the Gauntlet for the Gold. The legends were then interrupted by Jeff Jarrett who took exception to the champion being decided in a glorified battle royal. Jackie Fargo retaliated by putting Jarrett at #1 in the battle royal, which brought Ken Shamrock and Scott Hall out to join the party. Both Hall and Shamrock agreed that the battle royal idea sucked but that Jarrett better focus on them rather than the match itself. Jarrett got pissed off and left, bringing the segment to a close.
X-Division Six Man Tag Team Match – AJ Styles, Low-Ki and Jerry Lynn vs. The Flying Elvises
The opening contest launched the X-Division with a six man tag team match when AJ Styles, Low-Ki and Jerry Lynn against the Flying Elvises – Jimmy Yang, Jorge Estrada and Sonny Siaki. Mike Tenay noted that the X in X-Division was for Xtreme and that the division wasn’t about weight limits – it was about no limits. The action came thick and fast with considered tags between the team of Styles, Lynn and Low-Ki. Lynn took momentum in the match with a fast hurricanrana but when he delivered a huge Tornado DDT to Jimmy Yang, Yang telegraphed out of it and was able to tag out to Sonny Siaki, who took control of the match. The elvises dominated Low-Ki for a period before he was able to tag in AJ Styles. Styles dealt with an elvis before all hell broke loose in the match. With everyone in and out of the ring, Low-Ki inadvertently nailed Styles with a kick to the face and Jimmy Yang hit Yang Time – a twisting moonsault – and was able to pick up the win for his team.
Hollywood vs. TEO
Earlier in the night, backstage, Goldilocks introduced Puppet the Psycho Dwarf – a very angry little man – leading to a battle between a “Midget Match” between Hollywood and Teo – the world’s smallest extreme athlete. In a match best forgotten, Teo picked up the win with a Swanton Bomb… ish.
The Participants for the Lingerie Battle Royal Are Introduced
In the ring, Don West and Ed Ferrara hyped the Lingerie Battle Royal for the next week’s pay-per-view by introducing the participants. First up was Francine, followed by Joanie, Shannon, Alexis Laree (Mickie James), Miss Sasha, Erin, Elektra, Taylor Vaughn and Tyler. Francine took the mic from Don West and went on a tirade about how none of the other women deserved to be in the ring with her before getting into a catfight with Elektra and leaving, claiming that nobody would see her in her lingerie because she would be crowned the first ever Miss. TNA.
The Dupps (with Fluff Dupp) vs. The Johnsons (with Mortimer Plumtree)
Backstage, Goldilocks interviewed Mortimer Plumtree, the manager of The Johnsons – Richard and Rod. The Johnsons came to the ring in conquistador style gimp suits to face their opponents, Psicosis and The Tennessee Cowboy James Storm. The Johnsons dominated the early part of the match but they became distracted by Alicia Webb, who came to ringside and stood there in her power suit. Storm and Psicosis took over and showed off their athleticism. James Storm fell foul to a hook of the leg by Mortimer Plumtree and was pinned by a Johnson after a big TKO like manoeuvre.
Toby Keith Performs
Next up, the nonstop action paused once again for a musical interlude – a performance by country music artist, Toby Keith. Just as Keith was getting into it, he was blown past by Jeff Jarrett, who was keen to get the Gauntlet for the Gold started.
NWA World Heavyweight Championship – Gauntlet for the Gold
As promised by Jackie Fargo, Jeff Jarrett was the first entrant in the Gauntlet for the Gold, joined by Buff Bagwell at number 2. Every 90 seconds a new participant would join the match until all 20 men had entered. Elimination occurred by throwing your opponents over the top top until it was down to the last two men, at which time the match would turn into a traditional one-on-one match. With 25 seconds left before entrant #3 arrived, Jarrett was able to back body drop Bagwell over the top rope. The third entrant was Lash Leroux, whom Double J beat up outside the ring and eliminated with 40 seconds left to go. They dispensed with the rest of the time and brought out the fourth entry, “Screamin'” Norman Smiley. Jarrett continued the streak of eliminating folks before the timer expired, removing Smiley with 28 seconds remaining. At number 5, was Apolo. Jarrett was unable to manhandle the big man in quite the same way as his previous opponents and, finally, the two men remained in the ring as a third joined them. This third man was entrant number 6, K-Krush, who went to work on Apolo and gave Jeff Jarrett a breather. Entrant number 7 was Slash, accompanied by Father James Mitchell. With no further eliminations, the ring began to fill up with entrants #8, #9 and #10, Del Rios, Justice and Konnan.
Alliances continued to form within the match as the heels worked to eliminated the babyfaces but not were successful as entrant number 11, Bruce, introduced by the Quintessential Studmuffin Joel Gertner. Business picked up when veteran “Dog Faced Gremlin” Rick Steiner entered at #12. Steiner eliminated Slash and Justice before turning his attention to Jeff Jarrett. Malice, another member of James Mitchell’s stable entered at number #13 and went to work chokeslamming everyone in the ring before eliminating Bruce, K-Krush, Del Rios and Konnan in quick succession. Rick Steiner slowed his momentum for a short period but Malice surprised him by pulling down the top rope and quickly eliminated the Dog Faced Gremlin as well. Scott Hall entered next, at fourteen, and set to work on Malice on Jarrett, nailing the latter with the Razor’s Edge. Entrant number 15 was Toby Keith who, with the help of Scott Hall, suplexed and eliminated Jeff Jarrett. At #16, Chris Harris joined the match followed by Vampire Warrior (Gangrel) who didn’t have a number but oh well, right? The final entrants, “Dangerous” Devin Storm (Crowbar), Steve Corino, Ken Shamrock and Brian Christopher entered without any further eliminations and the battle was on to get down to two. Christopher eliminated Chris Harris, Devon Storm and the Vampire Warrior in quick succession, followed shortly by Steve Corino. The fun ended here for Christopher, though, as he was eliminated by Ken Shamrock after being brutally chokeslammed by Malice. As Shamrock sat back and watched the action unfold before him, Apolo was eliminated by both Malice and Scott Hall. Hall went for the Razor’s Edge but was back-body-dropped out of the ring, leaving two – Malice and Ken Shamrock.
Ricky Steamboat came to the ring to officiate what was now a one-on-one contest for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Malice started the match off quickly with a big boot to Shamrock and used his power to keep the veteran down on the mat. Malice went for another huge chokeslam but Shamrock countered into a Cross Arm Breaker. Malice reached the ropes with the help of James Mitchell and went straight back to big strikes and blows. Shamrock surprised him with an anklelock but Malice once again got to the ropes. The referee Steamboat accidentally let Shamrock get away with one here when he gave him ten seconds to break the hold instead of the five seconds usually allowed by the rules. Malice went for the chokeslam once again but Shamrock countered into the Belly to Belly Suplex and made the pin to become NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
The night wasn’t done there, though! After the match and subsequent title celebration, Jeff Jarrett came back to the ring to complain once again. He punched some of the legends at ringside before he was confronted by Jackie Fargo who said that he’d find someone to kick his ass for him next week – Scott Hall. However, Hall wasn’t willing to wait and made his way back to the ring. A brawl between Jarrett and Hall kicked off on the ramp as the show came to an end.
Dan awards 1 Woman Dancing in a Cage Out of 5
Jez also awards 2 Women Dancing in Cages Out of 5
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Wrestling Theme Covers by JaydeGarrow
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