NWA Powerrr | Ep 12 | "Something Left To Prove"
No pre-show countdown this week; instead Powerrrrrrr launches with a package that underlines just how personal things have gotten for Tim Storm against Nick Aldis. We swing from Aldis keeping Storm's head in the game through Aldis's betrayal back around into Tim's killer promo from last week that made him the heart and soul, not just of the NWA, but pretty much of professional wrestling in general. It's a brief but effective package, reminding us what these two wrestlers mean to each other.
Out of the intro, Joe Galli and Stu Bennett throw to David Marquez who has Tim Storm at the interview station, Tim's wearing a Momma Storm t-shirt, and I get the mental image of Tim sitting at the gimmick table, signing 8 x 10s of him and Momma Storm, and can't help but smile. If this was Memphis, Momma Storm (all 95 years young of her) would be in the ring to smack the Champ upside his head before the feud was over. Storm makes clear his intent to wreck the Champ's shit. He addresses the point that the stipulation from his last World title match of never being able to challenge again was a gentlemen's agreement and non-binding, except as Storm keeping his word. Aldis making a fool of him clearly has him thinking that over now. Championships aside, though, Storm's present goal is to kick the Champ's ass. On cue, Aldis (with Kamille) step out and get in Storm's space, and Tim goes deadly serious, staring past Kamille like she wasn't there. Aldis, conversely is playing everything involving him now (the TV tournament, Storm's anger, Ricky Morton's disrespect... even the crowd's boos) for a personal joke, and Nick gets a good verbal jab on Storm and Morton as "Randy the Rams," all hanging on too long. Aldis ends the segment reiterating that his title is only belt that matters.
You couldn't do this more perfectly for Tim Storm. He's as solid and respectable a babyface as you can produce in modern wrestling, and I understand wanting to get things clear cut and understandable for those new fans who are hopefully watching now, which I presume is the point of getting Aldis into full-on heel mode. I mean, you can't not look at what Aldis is doing right now and not make Ric Flair comparisons. The problem is, Nick ain't Ric.. but nobody else is either, so trying to be is a fool's errand. Nick's character of the bastard who did the right thing (mostly) because he knew he should, not because he wanted to... the bad guy who wants to be cheered and keeps a code of honor because it's what a good guy would do... it had depth and made him interesting. Now, we're edging towards "Shut up, fatboy!"-era Flair in Aldis's delivery, and he's going two-dimensional. But that does bring the narrative towards a more traditional face/heel dynamic, and that's certainly more likely to draw money. So I don't know... I don't want Aldis to be twirling a moustache and tying Momma Storm to railroad tracks, but it's probably going to do a better job of setting up a rasslin' match than thoughtful examinations of existential angst regarding his inner motivations as a person and a competitor.
I think the missing piece here is just what Aldis's motivation in setting up and turning on Tim Storm was, because it makes progressively less sense on the surface. Nick had, completely above board, maneuvered Tim into taking himself out of contention for Aldis's title. The only thing keeping Tim out of contention was being honor-bound by his own handshake agreement. Now, Aldis turning on Storm makes honoring that agreement moot. This is the only way Storm would go back on his word; if Aldis wasn't being honorable himself. Really, the only way it works, is if Aldis eventually reveals he regretted forcing Storm into the position, and saw pushing him like this was the only way to get him to push back. But that begs the question of why the hell Aldis would care enough about Tim to bother with all the manipulation. Hopefully there's an endgame here, and some solid motivation is forthcoming. I mean, maybe Aldis is just a dick and is tired of trying not to be... but make it make sense, y'know?
Well, after that pontification, we return to Aron Stevens, wearing full Mongrovian kah-rah-tay gear and carrying the National Championship like a lunchbox, coming out for what Señor Marquez announced as a "submission exhibition" match with that young go-getter Sal Rinauro. Rinauro is well on his way to becoming the Lee Scott of the new millennium, as he looks only marginally more dangerous than Galli, who himself looks like 110 pounds of milk-fed veal in a suit. Stevens is, of course, booed lustily, and the crowd has officially adopted Rinauro by breaking into a "SAL! SAL! SAL!" chant at his introduction. Hoo-boy... Sal is going to be wearing a mask and calling himself The Ampersand by the next set of tapings if this keeps up. Bell rings, and Bennett quips that Duane Johnson just isn't getting any roles in Hollywood now with Stevens around. Galli meanwhile rightfully observes that karate seems like a really dumb thing to be using in a submission match, unlike, say jiu-jitsu. Stevens heels it up, stopping to towel off his hands after touching Rinauro at one point, getting a chuckle out of me. Galli casually mentions how he's trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and now I'm wondering how things worked out when he tried to throw a rear naked choke on a bully in junior high. Stevens looks like an adult playing with a child out there with Rinauro, throwing him around easily. If nothing else, as long as Sal is hanging around, Ricky Morton won't have the worst hair on the roster. Stevens starts winding up the crowd while Bennett simultaneously begins touting his immense concentration and skill, comparing him to Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Stu is channeling his inner Bobby Heenan here; all it really needed was for Galli to throw in a "Will you stop!?". Stevens gives Rinauro a hope spot that Sal uses to break out into Flair-style theatrics before attempting a figure-four, and that ends about as well as you'd expect, with Stevens sinking in a Cobra Clutch on Rinauro for a tap out. Stevens keeps it locked after the bell, flailing Sal around until Trevor Murdoch comes in for the save.
Interesting evolution for Stevens now. Apparently he really is picking up the Mongrovian kah-rah-tay, as he looked like a legit threat in the match. It was a far cry from Ricky Starks schooling him early on in their matches. Bennett is loving working more heel commentary in and Rinauro makes an excellent tomato can, so great job all around. Also, I'm begging for more insight into the extensive Brazilian jiu-jitsu training of "Shooter"Joe Galli.
Murdoch and Stevens take their disagreement to the interview desk, and Trev cracks me up unintentionally when he calls Stevens out for taking advantage of a "young guy" like Sal Rinauro (who, if Wikipedia is to be believed, is a 20 year veteran and only two years younger than Murdoch, at most). It's wrestling, though, so we'll let that go. Trev calls back to Aron's interference in his PPV match, which leads to Stevens accusing Murdoch of trying to maneuver himself into a National title shot. Murdoch demurs on a title shot (would have been a good time to put over being focused on the TV title tourney, Trev) but would nevertheless quite enjoy partaking in the kicking of Aron's ass. Stevens furthers his BELTSBELTSBELTS Quest by insisting Murdoch put his berth in the tourney on the line to get the match. Murdoch, being Murdoch, agrees.
We return to Murdoch and Stevens in the ring, and basically everything Stevens built as a threat against Rinauro evaporates against Murdoch, though he does get some especially vicious offense in in the middle of the match. Fun note, one of Murdoch's knee sleeves is torn and looks like he's probably had it since the WWE days. I'm hoping Trev's just said "Fuck it, I ain't buying a new one 'til I have to. This thang's fine." Trev is a pro, and gets over Stevens's Cobra (nee Mongrovian) Clutch as a threat by going straight for the ropes twice when Stevens tries to sink it. Trev finishes the match with a Full Nelson Slam to set up a motherfucking Indian Deathlock (!!) that has Stevens tapping out with both arms. Awesome to see Trev get a strong win, but again, could you shit on the National title any more, NWA? Murdoch just tapped the champ out clean as a bleached sheet after declaring he didn't even want a title shot. Have Stevens cost Trev his tournament match, and then put the National title on Murdoch at the next PPV after interference from the Question Mark backfires. Then you can set up Stevens using that as motivation to betray him after learning the forbidden secrets of Mongrovian kah-rah-tay. Stevens is great as the hubris-ridden heel, but don't shit on your #2 title just to further that.
On to a clip of a sit-down with the Pope and Outlaw, Inc., apparently from a new web series called Powerrr Surge. Guess the nod from Dinero to Kingston last week was indeed a tease. This sounds like an extension of the low key, semi-out of character interviews we've had before like most recently with Marty Scrull, and frankly, I'm not liking the style. In the clip, Eddie Kingston is putting of a vibe of wanting to be anywhere but in that chair in front of a camera, and Homicide isn't much more interested. Maybe it's just me, but there seems like a hint of Pope trying to put a wedge between Kingston and Homicide, outright saying he could see Eddie as World Champion, and Eddie pointing out that Homicide HAS been a world champion. Judgement reserved until I see the whole segment, of course.
Nice, subdued video runs, hyping the Hard Times PPV set to an eponymous Billy Corgan tune. I'm still a cheap bastard, so I probably won't buy the show. I know, some fan I am.
We're back, with a quick cut to last week's tipsy Eli Drake, and now Eli is out with Marquez to do his shtick. The focus, between the call and answer stuff with the crowd, was Drake accusing Aldis of ducking him. Drake segues via the Aldis/Morton interaction into how he needs a partner to go after the Rock 'N' Roll's Tag titles. Interesting... we seem to edging away from Eli Drake, MegaFace, and moving back towards Eli Drake, Disturber of Shit, as he gives the Aldis/Morton non-issue a little poke and is in turn challenges the beloved old timers. Good. If Aldis is moving into a less nuanced character, I like Drake shifting back into territory that keeps me guessing about where he stands. We get some great continuity in this segment all around, as Eli namechecks his one-week tag team with Tim Storm, and then makes sure to shit on "two-time loser" Ken Anderson. This brings Colt Cabana, Earnest Man of the People, out to defend his buddy. Colt being just being a decent guy who isn't looking for a fight, but still wants to stick up for his pal, is great. Again, Colt Cabana is so much better when he's dialing down the goofiness and just acting like a relatable human being. Colt makes a point to not excuse Ken's part of the things, but seeks to quash their beef as settled. Drake, still on task, asks Colt to team up, which is a hard nope due to Cabana's loyalty to Anderson. Colt makes a point of underlining Drake's possible duplicity. "Sometimes I think, Eli, maybe you're not a good guy." Eli demurs on the point, instead positing to Colt that teaming with Anderson isn't going to lead to title gold. Colt turns it back around, reminding Eli that he's held the World title twice before, to Eli's zilch. Things are getting tense when Anderson walks out to join the conversation. Eli isn't backing down at all, but Colt continues to try to play peacemaker, holding Anderson back until officials also get between them. Good segment; it was a good way of keeping a feud rolling despite one guy taking two clean losses. High-five to whomever booked this segment out for excellent continuity. I'm actually interested to see where this is going when it could easily have felt like wheel-spinning for all three, and getting me interested in a Ken Anderson program is no small feat.
Clips are run from another new NWA web series, this one called Girl Powerrr. Man, that's as lame as my ideas for Aldis's faction's name. They show a group photo of most the women wrestlers and crew all in matching t-shirts in front of a "Girl Powerrr" logo that would get Genndy Tartakovsky's lawyers fidgeting, then cut in to a segment with Melina Perez, Thunder Rosa, and Marti Belle basically having a shit-talking session about Allysin Kay. I'm tickled by the way they're in "casual" gear (Melina looks like she just had a shower and is ready for breakfast; that is by no means a complaint) but Rosa has her war paint on. Kay and the other faces are also sitting around, with Allysin looking for support. I'm still not a fan of this format. but certainly don't mind another venue for expanding on motivations.
Transition to Tasha Steelz already in the ring for a match with Marti Belle, who enters with Melina. The announcers sell Tasha's "impressive" debut at Into the Fire, but all I saw was the finish of her getting beat by Rosa, so I'll have to take them at their word. I don't know Steelz… I'm woefully undereducated about independent women's wrestling. I'll probably repeat that every time someone new is added to the women's roster. Interesting: she's in her early 30s, but only debuted in 2015. Late bloomer. Belle works the match hesitant and unsure, but it's part of the gimmick right now, with her relying too much on Melina and her approval and not being her own woman, so I guess it's a feature, not a bug. At least it's finding booking that covers the weakness. Marti always just looks awkward to me, though. For instance, Tasha goes for a twisting neckbreaker that ends up looking less like Marti selling the move, and more like she just fell over. I mean, it didn't even look like she was being maneuvered or controlled by Steelz's neckbreaker; just that she moved entirely of her own accord. That leads into Steelz kind of doing an RKO around Belle's head, with Marti going down to her knees and rolling over to be pinned in an upset. It was just... off; like their timing wasn't quite there, and there was just enough hesitation in Belle's selling to make it look unrealistic. I don't know, maybe Steelz should have taken a firmer grip on the moves, but I'm not certain Belle would have flowed with the motion, and Steelz would have looked worse in the process. Anyway, the crowd at least was into the match and it told the story well enough, but the technical issues stuck out bad for me. After the match, Melina sells frustration over the loss with all the gravitas of a telenovela and bitches Marti out for the loss.
Interstitials run, and mention next week will feature Eli Drake and James Storm vs. Cabana and Anderson vs. Wild Cards. Honestly, that sounds like a clusterfuck waiting to happen, but I guess we'll see.
Bottom-tier backstage interview guy (Kyle Davis) and silent lawyer lady from last week (Anastasia Fletcher) are on a set with the TV title and the fishbowl to draw two more names for the tourney. Somebody in booking has a bit of a fetish for silver-haired silent ladies, it would seem. Fletcher was in the Girl Powerrrrrrrr photo, so presumably she's on staff, and not just a one-off from last week. Avatar of indy sleaze Zicky Dice and the remarkably underutilized Caleb Konley are drawn.
Main Event time: Tim Storm is out for his revenge. Aldis and company come out (with May Valentine as well, this time)... with Nick still in street clothes. Apparently Nick's not having fun with this TV tournament thing anymore, so he's giving his spot to his teammate, Royce Issacs. Incidentally, we find out the faction's name is "Strictly Business." Well shit, I think I like my awful ideas better. Also, I guess that statement last week of the NWA banning seconds for outside interference during the tournament got forgotten about. Storm and Issacs have a fine little power match, with Storm hitting his finisher for a strong win, and we get a coda of the Rock 'N' Roll coming out behind Aldis to give him a little shock, then celebrate with the audience. If that isn't a set-up for Storm/Morton/Gibson vs. Strictly Business, I don't know what is. Anyway, credit roll, and we're out.
Good episode; the stories kept moving and threads are being set up. Can't ask for much more three weeks out from a PPV.