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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

1/24 Debut Of NWA Charlotte

Courtesy of Larry Goodman:

You don’t get a second chance a first impression. NWA Charlotte stepped up to the plate in the heart of the old NWA Mid-Atlantic territory Saturday night and knocked the ball out of the park.

Their debut show exceeded the expectations of just about everyone involved. This was, in my experience, a rare thing – a new promotion in a new facility, and promoter J. D. Costello and company had all their ducks in a row.

Over 400 fans filled the newly constructed NWA Coliseum. A very hot crowd. I got the sense that a lot of these fans were not used to attending live shows, and were seeing pro wrestling through relatively fresh eyes.

The Coliseum is a warehouse space built to the specifications of a wrestling arena – intimate and big league at the same time. On three sides, it has floor seating to accommodate 500 plus bleachers. The fourth side has the entrance ramp and a stage for interviews. There’s a big screen for video. The lighting and sound are both excellent. With a tad more lighting, it would be perfect for shooting TV. Mad props to Brady Parker, the man responsible for building it out from scratch.

Right from the start, this show clearly defined the major players and stories, and made the titles feel important. The ringwork was generally quite good. It had the kind of atmosphere that brings people back for more, and they made sure to give them reasons to come back by with angles to set up matches for the follow up shows.

No show is perfect. Two matches involving legends was one too many. Including the cruiserweight title story with Mike Jackson was overkill. Edit that out and the show ends in under 3 hours and maybe the crowd doesn’t start to fade like they did. The other negative was the repetitive postmatch beatdowns on the babyfaces by sore loser heels. Fixable things for sure.

Pre-show, the new NWA National Champion Phil Shatter was interviewed by Eddie
Rich. Shatter was really impressive on the mic, supremely confident and crystal clear with his delivery.

Three generations of the Young family were introduced as the referees: Tommy Young, his son, Tim and grandson, Ace.

An awesome introductory video was played on the big screen. This was major waving of the NWA flag. It talked about the all-time greats from the Mid-Atlantic territory. Naturally, there was a mega pop for Flair. The cool thing was the way it linked the NWA’s rich heritage to the present by showing all of the current major NWA champions (the only one missing was Mike Quackenbush).
The closing line – “Get ready to believe again.”

Costello addressed the crowd. He worked Jim Crockett back in the day. Costello talked about tradition and promised low prices. He introduced NWA Executive Director Bob Trobich. Trobich said NWA Charlotte was going to give the fans pro wrestling not Sports Entertainment.

“The Voice of NWA Charlotte” Jay Joyce introduced the first match. Joyce is a man of mammoth proportions. He’s a got a great voice but they need to keep him away from the wrestlers, because most of them look like dwarfs by comparison.

(1) Chaotic Agony (Joey Agony & Ryan Chaos) beat Jeff Lewis & Kimo (with Attorney Jeff G. Bailey) in 9 minutes. Chaotic Agony were the weakest workers on the show. The crowd was so jazzed to see wrestling it mattered not. They were popping for basic moves. The key thing was Kimo really got over as Bailey’s psychopathic Asian assassin. The mere removal of Kimo’s hood got a reaction. It should. The guy looks like he’s completely out of his skull. But it was Kimo’s devastating offense that really got the crowd going. Chaos took the brunt of it. Finish was Agony pinning Lewis with a roll up, while Kimo was busy destroying Chaos.

Lewis & Kimo gave the faces a beating after the match. This would become a pattern. Kimo applied the Information Extractor to Agony.

(2) Dylan Kage beat Joey Silvia in 8:20. This was spotfest style with the fans reacting bigtime like an ROH crowd. Kind of early on the card, but it was the only match of that type on the show, so I thought it worked fine. Silvia is a little guy that was immediately over with the prototype babyface look. Kage has this Vampiro thing going. It’s interesting. He needs to work on his body some. The work was so smooth that it looked like they’ve worked each other a lot, although apparently that was not the case. Lots of flashy, innovative moves. Kage hit Doug Williams’ Chaos Theory for a near fall. I can guarantee that 99% of these fans had never seen it. Silvia used this amazing back flip suplex deal that I can’t begin to describe. Kage pinned Silvia after taking his head off with a spinkick.

Ivan Koloff was interviewed by Lodi. Koloff started by thanking his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Koloff said he had wrestled all over during his 40 year career, but his heart was in the NWA. He speculated about the condition of Barbarian. Was he still a monster or was he fat from eating too many pineapples? Barbarian came out looking amazingly close to the way he did 20 years ago. Bailey was with him. Bailey said Barbarian was “an uber legend” that was still benching 800 pounds.

I’m glad to hear you’ve got a personal relationship with Jesus, because you’re gonna need him.

Barbarian attacked Koloff from behind and choked him with his chain until security intervened. Costello threatened to fire Barbarian. He added a stipulation to their Legends title match – it was now a Russian Chain Match.

(3) Truitt Fields beat Ryan O’Reilly in 8 minutes. O’Reilly’s body has changed since his days in WWE developmental. He’s beefy – almost like a Mike Knox. He looked gigantic compared to Fields, who has great muscular definition but average height. O’Reilly worked over the knee with Fields selling it great. His knee got hung up in the ropes, and O’Reilly really went to town. O’Reilly gave Fields a wicked body slam into the ropes. When O’Reilly went for a kneebreaker, Fields went over the top with a sunset flip for the pin.

O’Reilly clocked Fields after the match. He said Fields won the battle but not the war and declared his intention to become the NWA Charlotte Heavyweight Champion.

(4) New Wave (Derrick Driver & Steven Walters) beat The Naturals (Chase Stevens & Andy Douglas) in 14 minutes.Solid match. New Wave had a few shaky moments but not a problem with Naturals to steer the ship. Naturals bumped and sold for New Wave’s offense early. Walters went for an ill-advised up & over and Stevens countered with a killer Alabama Slam to start the heat. Douglas hit a big backbreaker, and showed off that new physique with a double biceps pose. Crowd got behind New Wave here. They did a cool double down spot to set up the hot tag – Douglas leveled Walters with a lariat from the apron, then Driver returned the favor by leveling Stevens. New Wave busted out the combo move. It went four way and they did a four man tower of doom spot with Douglas on top taking the superplex. Douglas came back to hit a huge double underhook faceplant on Driver. Finish saw Walters avoid Stevens hard charge into the corner and roll him up on the rebound.

Naturals gave New Wave a massive beatdown after the match and got a lot of heat in the process. They gave Walters a stuff piledriver. Stevens had Driver tapping in a submission.


(5) Mike Jackson pinned Ultimate Dragon to retain the Southeast Cruiserweight Championship in 11:40 with a spinning neckbreaker. Jackson earned the crowd’s respect as being very tough and athletic for 59 years old. He did his ropes walk deal. Bad match. Dragon was lousy. Lots of loose spots and it dragged to the point the crowd wanted Jackson to get it over with, and they popped when he did.

Kage came out. “You, old man, are the past. You’re looking at the future.” Kage said he believed fairies after seeing Jackson do the ropes walk. Kage slapped him. Jackson fired up and clotheslined Kage out of the ring.

Rich announced Awesome Kong vs. MsChif for the NWA Women’s Title for the February 14 return - “Thorns & Roses” - with all ladies admitted free.

(6) Ivan Koloff beat The Barbarian (with Jeff G. Bailey) in a Russian Chain Match to win the NWA Charlotte Legends Title (8:40). Watching Ivan make his way into the ring, I was expecting the worst. He really does not need to be in a wrestling ring at the age of 66. Amazingly, the match worked. Koloff attacked Barbarian before the bell. He beat on Barbarian with the chain. Barbarian bailed and Koloff yanked the chain to post him. Barbarian bled a bit. Barbarian used a low blow to take over. They traded chair shots on the outside. Barbarian missed the diving headbutt. The crowd chanted for Ivan. He crotched Barbarian with the chain and beat him senseless with it. The finish worked great. Koloff touched three corner. As he went for the fourth, Bailey grabbed him by the leg. Tommy Young was distracted by Bailey’s antics and didn’t see Koloff make the touch. While Koloff was fooling with Bailey, Barbarian touched the fourth turnbuckle. Young saw that and signaled for the bell. Koloff had the “what just happened?” look. Fan outrage ensued. Hearing the pleas from the NWA officials and the fans, Young reversed the decision.

Barbarian went berserk. He attacked three generations of the Young family. He gave Tommy Young a headbutt. Tim Young ate a big boot. Ace got tossed out of the ring. Then he nailed a couple of security guys with the chain and beat on Ivan. Costello made a rematch for February 14. Crowd popped huge when Ivan said he would have Nikita Koloff in his corner.

(7) Phil Shatter retained the NWA National Championship going to a double DQ with Mikael Judas (10:20). These guys always have good matches and this was no exception. Shatter has that heavyweight champion aura about him. Judas’ entrance made an impression. On the surface, there’s nothing babyface about it, but the crowd took to him as the babyface. Maybe they just hated Shatter. Judas was destroying Shatter early. Shatter broke free of a choke slam goozle, Judas countered the PTSD, although these fans didn’t recognize it as Shatter’s finisher. The action spilled out of the ring where Shatter gave Judas a suplex on the ramp. Body of the match was Shatter working on the back of Judas and fighting off the occasional choke slam attempt. Shatter used a major league Boston crab and a spinebuster slam. The DQ came when ref Ace Young got tossed by both men as he tried to force a break. That didn’t stop Judas, who thrashed Shatter with a suplex into the turnbuckles.

Costello started talking about the NWA Charlotte Heavyweight Title. Judas was still in the ring holding Shatter’s National belt. Shatter was at ringside. O’Reilly came out and said he wanted a title shot. Fields came out to remind O’Reilly that he beat him, so he should get the shot. Costello told them to lower the testosterone, because he was bringing in “The Insane Lumberjack” Timber as a contender. It wasn’t clear who Timber would be facing or if the National Title and the NWA Charlotte title were one and the same. (After the show, Trobich clarified that the NWA Charlotte Title would be introduced as a new title). Presuming that the National title is going to be defended here, that’s too many singles titles (National, Charlotte, Legends and Cruiserweight).

(8) Adam Pearce beat Brent Albright to become the number one contender for the NWA World Heavyweight Title in 16 minutes. A battle between two former world champions (twice for Pearce). Crowd was needing to catch their second wind. Pearce stalled. Crowd was hating him for it. They chanted “Repo Man” at him. He bit Albright’s forehead to start the blood flow. That got a “you sick freak” chant. Albright crotched Pearce on the top and hit a superplex. Both men struggled to their feet at 9. The action moved to ringside, Pearce bled. Back inside, they traded brutal, stiff blows with both men on the verge of exhaustion. Albright scored a series of near falls. Pearce snuck one in with his feet on the ropes. The big spot was Pearce giving Albright a DDT on the apron. Albright barely beat the 10 count. Crowd came back strong for the false finishes. Albright kicked out of piledriver. Pearce kicked out a half nelson suplex. Peace shielded the ref as he donkey kicked Albright in the groin, and then pinned him with a piledriver. Well done. It had the big match feel. They actually exceeded the announced time limit, which was cut down from the scheduled 20 minutes to 15.

NOTES: Krissy Vaine was in the house looking gorgeous as always…Commentary for the video production was provided by Lodi and Tim Dixon. It was a three camera shoot…Dick Bourne from the Mid Atlantic Gateway was introduced to the crowd as was long time Charlotte fan, Peggy Latham…Current plans call for shows on the second and fourth Saturday of every month (opposite NWA Anarchy on the first and third Saturdays)…Trobich said that due to the great look and atmosphere of the facility, the NWA will be giving consideration to shooting some television shows there…For photos by Blake Arledge check www.nwaphotos.com, but give him a few days to get them posted.