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The NWA TNA One-Year Anniversary (Week 49) Preview

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One year ago today…well…one year ago today TNA still didn’t exist…but one year ago tomorrow (Thursday) will mark the one-year anniversary of the promotion. Since TNA runs on Wednesday’s…this is as close as we can get.


Despite this week’s show being labeled the “big” week, it was last week’s show that saw the major change that many people have been waiting for. AJ Styles pinned Jeff Jarrett to become the 4th NWA Champion of the TNA era. Styles, to me, represents everything that I love about TNA. He’s young, he’s one of the best workers in the company, he’s one of the most over people in the company…and he is the champion. He’s all of those things…and he’s a cruiserweight. Make no mistake…if AJ Styles had signed that WWE developmental contract he would be jobbing to Bill DeMott or A-Train in three-minute squashes on Velocity. Some people may look at that and say, “Well…he’s only getting that push because he’s not playing with the big names in the WWE.” That’s exactly correct. It is not, however, an indication of the talent that a wrestler has. When Kevin Nash is headlining a show that the Hurricane isn’t even on…well…that’s pretty much everything you need to know about my feelings on Vince McMahon and the cruiserweight bias.


NWA TNA started broadcasting live wrestling available only on pay per view on June 19, 2002. Three arenas, four NWA champions, twelve months and even more missteps later we arrive at the Asylum this Wednesday night for a show that no one thought would happen. Let’s take a look back at the past year and hand out some awards, shall we?


Now…all of these are only my opinion…so feel free to disagree and make your own awards then email me at [email protected] with your opinion.



Most Improved Wrestler of the Year


D-Lo Brown


Even if I don’t include his WWE work (where he spent most of the year) D-Lo is at the top of this list. When he arrived he worked hard but it took some time to shake the WWE style off and really cut loose. After he started teaming with AJ Styles…the WWE style was completely gone. In recent weeks we’ve seen D-Lo do things that he’s never done before. He’s resurrected his career as a wrestler…even if it meant taking a huge pay cut to do so.


Honorable mentions: David Young (went from a terrible gimmick to a solid contribution), Kid Kash (improved a bunch in the ring…but it seems to have fallen back apart lately).




Feud of the Year


AJ Styles vs. Jerry Lynn


The TNA feud with the best matches…and it made Styles a star. Lynn vs. Styles carried TNA through its first few months. Unfortunately another match between the two inexplicably followed the blow-off match…and strangely the two haven’t met since. Slightly askew booking aside…this feud is what people will always remember about the beginning of TNA.


Honorable mentions: America’s Most Wanted vs. The Disciples of the New Church (in a word: Intensity. This blood feud MADE AMW), Ron “The Truth” Killings vs. the X division (A weird but fun as hell feud that brought Truth’s title reign it’s best matches (Lynn and Low Ki)…and a high risk X-like offense from the Champ that was so cool).



Promo of the Year


Truth gets his shot from Ricky Steamboat


All the way back on week 7, Ron Killings was the hottest thing in TNA. At the same time Ken Shamrock wasn’t working out as NWA Champion. Timing is everything. This promo (which may in fact be the sole example of a racist storyline working) further elevated Killings to the level of legitimate title contender. Truth had been on a hot streak of promo’s redefining his character and showing off his near limitless charisma. After this particular promo…he went from “guy who is better than I thought” to “guy I want to see win the title”. The next week…TNA delivered.


Honorable mentions: Russo vs. Piper (surreal…and controversial in the worst way possible. Piper blames Russo for Owen Hart’s death on live TV), Jeff Jarrett and Raven (Raven explains that politics are holding down his destiny…and the Triple J chants fill the arena).



Best title reign of the year


Jeff Jarrett’s NWA title reign


Perhaps it should have ended with Raven vs. Jarrett (alright…so there’s really no “perhaps” about it) but Jarrett’s long title reign did more to get the NWA title over as a major title than anything else I can remember. Title matches were treated as big events and the crowd heat and anticipation was off the charts. Plus…he put over Styles last week as cleanly as can be hoped for (and strangely exactly the way he won it himself).


Honorable mentions: AJ Styles’ first X title reign (it started with the match everyone was talking about…and ended with a terrific three-way. Put the X division on the map.), America’s Most Wanted’s first NWA tag title reign (a nice streak of hot matches that ended with one of the best feuds in the companies history).



Tag Team of the Year




Some might consider this pick an upset…but these guys have (usually Christopher Daniels and Elix Skipper) have just flat out had the best tag matches in TNA’s first year. AMW may have been around from the beginning…but XXX made up for lost time by dominating and stealing the show.


Honorable mentions: AMW (could easily be the TTOTY), Disciples of the New Church (who new Brian Lee could be that entertaining?).



Wrestler of the Year


AJ Styles


Everything Styles touched turned to gold. Feud of the Year with Jerry Lynn, First (and only) Triple Crown winner in TNA history, Great matches with Red, Surprisingly good feud with Glen Gilberti (in fact…Styles got Gilberti over for the brief time that it lasted), Short-lived but fantastic tag team with D-Lo Brown. Styles did it all. And he did it all…better than everyone else.


Honorable mentions: Jeff Jarrett (carried the non-X division, made NWA title mean something), Jerry Lynn (universal winner of the end of 2002 awards…but he fell off big time since then. Did have brief revivals during the luchadore storyline, and when teaming with Red).



Match of the Year


AJ Styles vs. Low Ki vs. Jerry Lynn


This would be from week 8, and is the non-ladder match version. Simply put…this was a phenomenal match. Fast paced and exciting, it was the first time that Styles and Lynn were able to face off in a TNA ring since they started their feud…and Low Ki won the title.


Honorable Mentions: Jeff Jarrett vs. Truth (Jarrett wins title), AJ Styles vs. Red (both times), AJ Styles vs. Jerry Lynn vs. Low Ki vs. Psicosis (from week 2), Christopher Daniels and Elix Skipper vs. Jerry Lynn and Red (also the 4 way tag match from the week before it), XXX vs. SATs (ended 2002 with a bang), and then a whole bunch of others.



It’s fun to reminisce…but the year’s not quite over yet:


The NWA TNA One-Year Anniversary (week 49) Preview


And here you thought there were 52 weeks in a year. Technically this should be week 53 (as last week would have been the 52nd week of the TNA year). Where did we lose 4 weeks? First TNA aired a “best of the X division” special that I don’t count as a week since it was not new programming. Then they took off September 11th since it fell on a Wednesday. Lastly, they had to take off both Christmas and New Year’s, which also happened to fall on Wednesdays. So…there you have that.



D-Lo Brown, Frankie Kazarian & Sandman vs. Sonny Siaki, David Young & Don Harris


You know…this match may not make sense…but if Sandman and Don Harris weren’t in it…it would rock. I don’t know what this is…or why it exists. Siaki and Sandman have a little feud going on. David Young is Siaki’s lackey. That explains half of the match. Frankie Kazarian is going to get a push to an eventual match with Chris Sabin. D-Lo is far to good for this…and um…Don Harris sucks. This match will probably the opener to get the crowd going. I expect to see D-Lo do some neat things…and his team will win. Um…I still don’t get it. If I stretch my imagination I can buy that D-Lo wants to get at S.E.X. but Kazarian is way out of place then. D-Lo vs. Siaki and Kazarian vs. Young would have been better.



Mike Sanders vs. New Jack


This is a hard 10 match. I hate these stupid matches. Actually…last week Devon Storm gave Sandman a pretty good (and for hard 10 that means excellent) match. This one won’t be nearly as pretty. New Jack sucks. The only saving grace is that this match will probably end with a balcony dive that takes way too long to set up. You know…if you like that sort of thing, which I do.



Jerry Lynn vs. Justin Credible


I’ve been racking my brain to try and remember a good Justin Credible match that DIDN’T have Jerry Lynn in it. That doesn’t mean that this will be good…but it gives it a damn good chance. Unlike the first two matches on the preview this one actually does make sense. The two had a falling out in the first round of the Anarchy in the Asylum tournament…ending in a fun pull-apart brawl. Last week they got into an argument during the “Interrogators” segment. These two know how to work together…but Lynn is really dying out there without a solid direction. He’s spent the last two weeks on Xplosion (more on that in a bit), and Credible isn’t an X division wrestler…making me wonder what Lynn’s current direction is. I thought he was going to bring back the X division…and then he became a tag wrestler and now is feuding with a heavyweight. All that being said…they could throw him an NWA title shot at any time against Styles and I would be happy. I would imagine that this won’t be a one-match feud…so I think Credible will win here to move the feud forward. Should be…well…the best Justin Credible match since the last time these two had a go.



Chris Sabin vs. Paul London


This is for Sabin’s X division title. London became the #1 contender…about a month ago but was overseas and unable to get his shot until right now. I know TNA is high on London so if his schedule allows for it I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get the strap. That being said…they are also high on Sabin and they know his schedule. Could go either way…and it should be a real good one. They’ll have some pressure on them, though…as this is maybe the first real match between the new generation of the X division. With Styles obviously moved on to better things, Lynn in limbo, Low-Ki, Elix Skipper and Christopher Daniels doing the tag thing, Kid Kash feuding with women and Erik Watts and Red’s spotty schedule…these guys are the thing right now (along with Frankie Kazarian it would seem). That’s not really a bad thing, in my view. With Styles as the NWA champion we’re pretty much guaranteed good heavyweight title matches, and the same goes for XXX in the tag team division…speaking of which…





This is for XXX’s NWA Tag Team titles. Once again, the roles of XXX will be played by my favorite version: Christopher Daniels and Elix Skipper. This is a match between (undeniably) the two best tag teams in TNA history. They’ve met before, and had some good matches. If you’ve been following TNA then you know that America’s Most Wanted has gone through some break-up storylines lately…but they are now together in full force. The storyline didn’t really work and took heat away from AMW instead of putting it on them…but this match would be the end of that story-arc nonetheless. I fully expect to see AMW finally reclaim the tag titles here…and I also expect this to be the best match of the night. That’s great for this week…but next week they are going to run into a major problem. If AMW wins…there are no tag teams left for them to face. They can do a rematch with XXX…but AJ and D-Lo are gone, the New Church has disappeared (and they had a long feud anyway), and that’s about everyone not named Harris (who they seem to be smart enough not to push). Note to TNA: Must get more tag teams. Second note to TNA: Must not have Tag Team champions wrestle on Xplosion for two weeks straight. Xplosion is starting to drive me nuts...mainly because I can't get it.



AJ Styles and ??? vs. Jeff Jarrett and Sting


Last week’s big announcement is that Sting will be making his debut this week. I am not a Sting fan, but it is a pretty big deal for TNA. Sting is the last of the WCW top guys that WWE hasn’t snatched up. It’s also cool that on the one-year anniversary of a promotion that wasn’t expected to make it…they are bringing in their biggest name to date. I have no idea what all of that means…but there it is. According to Jeremy Borash, this will not be a one-time deal for Sting in TNA. Although I have no way of knowing what kind of deal he has…I’ll take a guess that it’s somewhere around a four show contract (the kind used for Scott Hall). Sting has the ability to give someone a major rub that they just can’t get from anyone else in TNA. Whatever Sting’s contract is for…it should be used to build up to a title match with Styles where Sting puts him over. That’s just my opinion.


The far bigger news is that ??? man, after all of his weeks of service (sometimes working more than once a show) is finally getting the push he deserves. Who will be the mystery partner for AJ Styles? No one knows. And when I say “no one” that might be a literal answer to the number of people both inside TNA and out that actually know at this moment. There really aren’t a lot of options that I can see. If it’s someone inside of TNA the only person who can really fit the bill is Raven. Storyline wise that makes no sense…since Raven hates Russo…but Raven hates Jarrett too, so there would be just enough to get by. I suppose they could pull D-Lo out of his meaningless match to team with Styles…but they really took that option away when they broke up the team to go after the gold…now held by Styles. As a last resort Shane Douglas would make the most sense since he helped Styles win last week by taking out Raven. He could be in Russo’s camp and it would work perfectly. Even better is that Raven could come out and take out Douglas leaving Styles to lose 2 on 1 and still look strong…all the while building towards Sting vs. Styles. That all fits so perfectly that it both won’t happen and won’t make anyone happy…since no one cares about Douglas.


If we look outside of TNA for a partner there really isn’t all that much more to find. Sabu can’t find the arena…and neither can Syxx-Pac. Scott Hall is a big name and I think he’s still in good standing with TNA…but he’d have to be a heel here…and that almost defeats the purpose. Vampiro has history with Sting and would make sense. He’s big in the indy’s and everyone seems to like him. In fact…that would make a lot of sense…so don’t expect that either. Randy Savage thinks he’s worth more money than God, and Lex Luger would be shot on site. So…who knows?


It really doesn’t matter…as the point is to trot Sting out and make everyone happy. The match shouldn’t be bad when Styles and Jarrett are in…and Sting is one of those guys that’s fun to watch. This should be a solid main event on a show that should have 2 real good matches…with a chance at a couple more.



Other stuff going on:


Truth, Konnan and B.G. James will have an interview. All three of these guys are better on the mic than in the ring…so that can’t be bad. Sadly…only one of them is even competent in the ring to go along with the mic skills.


Last week Kid Kash brought in a big guy to help even the score with Erik Watts. We have since learned that he is from the IWA promotion in Puerto Rico and that he went by the name Abyss…but they’ll be giving him a new name (although that one is pretty cool). I know nothing else about him. Borash said he’s one of the best big men in the business. If I had a nickel for every time I heard that one I wouldn’t be writing these columns…oh no…I’d be swimming in my nickels like Scrooge McDuck.


Raven is absent from the line-up…but you know he’ll be around to do something at some point. By my count he has about 5,463 feuds to finish at this point. (Styles, Jarrett, D-Lo, Douglas, Red, Russo, Gilberti…)


It’s gonna be a long second year for Raven.


Hopefully…for TNA as well.

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