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Photo Credit: National Wrestling Alliance | FITE.tv

NWA “Hard Times” Review

Hello AW Universe,

NWA’s second PPV in the Powerrr era was live from the NWA Arena at GPB Studios in Atlanta, GA.

Here is a recap and reactions to the event.

Fast-Count Results

Trevor Murdoch d. Question Mark in the First Round of the NWA Television Title tournament

Dan Maff d. Zicky Dice in the First Round of the NWA Television Title tournament

Ricky Starks d. Matt Cross in the First Round of the NWA Television Title tournament

Tim Storm d. Ken Anderson in the First Round of the NWA Television Title tournament

James Storm & Eli Drake d. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express and The Wildcards for the NWA Tag Team Championship

Thunder Rosa d. Allysin Kay for the NWA Women’s World Championship

Trevor Murdoch d. Dan Maff in a NWA Television Title Tournament Semi-Final

Ricky Starks d. Tim Storm in a NWA Television Title Tournament Semi-Final

Scott Steiner d. NWA National Championship Aron “Shooter” Stevens

Nick Aldis d. Flip Gordon to retain the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship

Ricky Starks d. Trevor Murdoch in the Final of the NWA Television Title Tournament


Trevor Murdoch d. Question Mark in the First Round of the NWA Television Title tournament

The event opened with this match, and we find out from play-by-play announcer Joe Galli that, as with every match involving the Television Title has a time limit of 6:05, that should a match extend past that during this tournament, then a panel of judges would choose the winner. Those judges are also revealed to be NWA Owner William Patrick Corgan, the in-ring official, and colour commentator Stu Bennett, who then freely admits that he’s open to bribes.

Bennett’s openly been in the bag for The Question Mark, Aron “Shooter” Stevens, and the Mongrovian Dojo, so I figured this would be an obvious way to get Question Mark past the old hand, Trevor Murdoch. But no, Murdoch beats Question Mark in less than 3 minutes to advance to the next round.

Dan Maff d. Zicky Dice in the First Round of the NWA Television Title tournament

So I’m immediately 0-2 for my pre-event picks less than 10 minutes into this PPV, as Maff pretty much squashes Dice in a shorter time than it takes me to write this match “review.”

Ricky Starks d. Matt Cross in the First Round of the NWA Television Title tournament

“I’ve seen some pole-dancers pull that move off before… very different end result, though.” – Stu Barnett referring to Cross’ elbow drop after using his core to stall on the outside ring post.

The athleticism is on full display in this match, with Cross hitting a slingshot cross-body, then a slingshot cutter, setting Starks up for the Death From Above shooting star press. Starks rolls out of the way and hits his finisher The Stroke– a stepping Tiger Slam– to advance to the next round.

There aren’t much to these first three matches, as they’re pretty quick without much to say about them, but as the card has 11 matches with all the tournament matches, the bookers made the right choice in keeping these ones short and give the important matches the time to breathe.

Tim Storm d. Ken Anderson in the First Round of the NWA Television Title tournament (via forfeit)

Tim Storm cuts the whitest-of-meat babyface promo by pandering to the crowd and calling everyone “family,” and thanking all the fans.

We’re eventually told that Ken Anderson isn’t going to be wrestling in the tournament as he “hasn’t been medically cleared to compete, so Storm gets through on a bye.

Stu Bennett delivers some breaking news, announcing that the NWA’s next PPV will be the Crockett Cup in April 2020.

James Storm & Eli Drake d. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express and The Wildcards for the NWA Tag Team Championship

A well-worked three-way tag match, that managed to build two concurrent hot tags: isolating James Storm from Eli Drake as the Wild Cards cut off the ring, and leaving Ricky Morton on his apron corner as Kamille covertly kept Robert Gibson down on the outside by attacking him. Ricky Morton eventually gets his tag, just as Drake gets his and hits a Canadian Destroyer, but the win surprising goes to Drake & Storm, who get the rub from R’n’R Express after the match.

Again, a fine match, but not a whole lot to say. But, there’s a reason this match was sub-par, as it let the next match steal the show.

Thunder Rosa d. Allysin Kay for the NWA Women’s World Championship

This match was incredible; at nearly 20 minutes from bell to bell, Thunder Rosa and Allysin Kay put on the match of the night. The two women came out with blistering flurries, with a pace that put every match before to shame– a sign of brilliant card building by the NWA bookers. The match was technically sound, as Barnett points out both competitors’ background in mat-based mixed martial arts, and utilized sublime in-ring storytelling and psychology with stiff spots as Rosa zeroed in on Kay’s left arm, something that played into the finish. This started with Rosa taking the action to the outside, smashing Kay’s arm into the ring post, then locking it into multiple armbars after some more mat wrestling back in the ring.

Kay gets momentum back after powerbombing Rosa onto the apron, eventually setting her up for a back-body Package Piledriver, only for Rosa to counter it into an absolutely gorgeous Canadian Destroyer. Rosa then sets her up for a head-scissors into an Octopus Stretch, which Kay then counters into a Tombstone Piledriver, for her own near fall.

Rosa kicks out of Kay’s finisher, the AK-47, a gut-wrench into a shoulder slam, as this is where the injured arm of Kay begins to play into the finish, as she’s unable to hook the leg on Rosa and get a full cover. This leads into the finishing sequence: Kay kicks out of a Sunset Flip, Rosa then wrenches her bad arm in an armbar, Kay deadlifts Rosa out of said armbar, with Rosa finally winning the match with the Thunder Driver after

Either of these wrestlers could step into the ring against any women on the WWE roster tomorrow, and they put every single member of AEW’s roster to absolute shame. Thunder Rosa is particularly fantastic. She needs some refinement in some of her suplexs to unlock her full potential, but she’s so good everywhere else that you can’t fault her for it.

Trevor Murdoch d. Dan Maff in a NWA Television Title Tournament Semi-Final

These two huge men start things off exchanging stiff chops before Maff gains the advantage with a spear out of the corner. The match moves at a pretty slow pace after this until Murdoch picks up the victory with his off-the-top-rope bulldog.

Ricky Starks d. Tim Storm in a NWA Television Title Tournament Semi-Final

The psychology in this one is pretty good, even if the match itself wasn’t anything special: the veteran Storm doesn’t take the blue-chipper Starks seriously to begin the match, laying into him with some initiation-style chops. Starks mounts some offence, but is ultimately grounded by some old-school moves, namely some boots, standing elbows, and a back-breaker. Storm does hit his finisher, the Perfect Storm, but rolls through the pin.

Starks picks up the win with an unexpected Crucifix pin.

Scott Steiner d. NWA National Championship Aron “Shooter” Stevens (via disqualification)

Galli answers the question we’re all wondering as Big Poppa Pump heads to the ring: how the hell did he get this title match? Turns out Nick Aldis used his pull to book this match as a way of thanking him for joining Strictly Business. Does this mean that William Patrick Corgan is far from a benevolent owner?

Anyway, now we have an explanation as to why the weirdest looking man in wrestling– Barnett refers to him as the “most unhinged wrestler in history,” which is probably more shoot than gimmick– is challenging for the ugliest belt in pro wrestling.

The match is close to a cooler, with Stevens using his chickenshit heel tactics to buy time and stall outside until Steiner gets some offence in on him by smashing his face into the ring steps. Steiner then takes over, hitting Stevens with suplexs and chops, before locking him into the Steiner Recliner. But Stevens wins by disqualification when Question Mark hits Steiner with the Mongrovian Spike, getting himself locked into his own Steiner Recliner, as Stevens leaves his sensei to suffer in the hold.

Nick Aldis d. Flip Gordon to retain the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship

Fantastic build, as it starts off with some mat-based wrestling and holds until Gordon ups the pace with a dive to the outside– a rarity in the NWA– and Aldis hits his own high-spot move, an Avalanche Fallaway Slam. Aldis slows the pace again, locking Gordon into a Figure-Four Leglock, before the smaller challenge hits more Cruiserweight-style moves with a slingshot spear then a gorgeous-looking second rope Moonsault.

Aldis picks up the win after sitting down halfway through Gordon’s attempt at a top rope wheelbarrow pin.

It was a well-crafted match, blending Aldis’ more traditional style with Gordon’s high-spots and fast-pace. Adding to the storyline with Marty Scurll and Villain Enterprises is that Aldis now gets to call all the shots in their feud moving forward.

Ricky Starks Trevor Murdoch for the NWA Television title

Yet another match where the young Starks earns his stripes against a hard-nosed veteran. Starks gets Irish whipped into the ring steps, eats some stomps in the corner, and is then aggressively back-body dropped out of the ring onto the concrete floor. He then immediately takes an ugly-looking Dragon suplex, then eats a stiff clothesline as Murdoch comes out of the corner. Starks then mounts his comeback after really selling the damage he’s taken, then fighting back while up on the turnbuckle, getting a near-fall after reversing it into a sit-down powerbomb. Starks then completely turns the momentum from there, hitting Murdoch with a spear and then The Stroke to win the NWA Television title.

Ricky Starks is the future of pro wrestling. Not just of the NWA, but the entire business. He already has a fully fleshed out character, understands in-ring storytelling, and has clean looking moves.

The future is bright for the NWA with him and Thunder Rosa on their roster. The Women’s title match is a must-see, while the Worlds and Television title matches are very good if you’re in the mood for watching some well told matches with excellent builds.