It was quite the weekend for the NWA. This past Saturday was its first all-women PPV, EmPowerrr, and on Sunday NWA 73 took place, with both events emanating from The Chase in St. Louis. As with NWA Powerrr, these PPVs aired exclusively on FITE. If you want to watch EmPowerrr, you can do so here, and NWA 73 can be watched here. So how was NWA 73, and which of these two PPVs was the best? Read on for my thoughts.
Prior to NWA 73 officially starting, the company aired a free-to-watch pre-show that ran for just over 25 minutes. It featured a match where the newly crowned NWA World Women’s Tag Team Champions, The Hex, teamed up with Lady Frost to go up against Taryn Terrell, Jennacide, and Paola Blaze. It was an entertaining enough pre-show match, and The Hex and Lady Frost walked away with the W. The pre-show also featured a bout between PJ Hawx and Colby Corino, where PJ prevailed. Again, another entertaining affair, but nothing to write home about.
The first video that fans were greeted with at the start of the PPV was another retro-inspired interview segment, this time from “1968,” featuring “Shooter” Stevens & “Krusher Kratos” talking about class. I think I may have preferred this to the one that aired on EmPowerrr the night before. Regardless, Aron Stevens is brimming with talent, as evidenced by both of these segments, not to mention his match later in the show.
Next, we were greeted with one of the highlights of the evening. Legendary actor and St. Louis native, John Goodman, narrated the opening video package. It was well written, included some terrific archival footage, and John Goodman’s delivery was fantastic, providing this special show with a level of gravitas it otherwise wouldn’t have. As I’m writing this, I stopped to watch the opening video package again, and it’s even better the second time around. I got chills multiple times while watching it. What a masterstroke by the NWA to enlist John Goodman as the voice for this particular piece! I hope it’s not the last time we hear him in the NWA because he’s a perfect fit for creating that big-fight feel on special occasions.
THOM LATIMER VS CRIMSON VS TIM STORM IN A BRAWL IN THE LOU MATCH
The opening match isn’t what I’m looking for from the NWA . . . ever. I’m all for hardcore wrestling, when appropriate, but this show just kicked off with a video package about history and tradition, and the first match they feature is this?
Thom Latimer is terrific, as is Tim Storm, but this match did no one any good, and the juxtaposition of the John Goodman piece and this hardcore match was jarring. I’m not sure who made this decision, but it was a terrible one. In the end, Tim Storm won, but in a match like this it meant nothing.
MICKIE JAMES VS KYLIE RAE
Next up we got Mickie James, the Executive Producer of EmPowerrr, against Kylie Rae. This was a pretty good match. However, there were some moments that left me scratching my head. For example, at one point Kylie Rae went for a senton bomb on Mickie James while Mickie was standing next to her. In other words, Kylie tried to hit a move on the empty canvas, and that’s exactly what she did. It was one of the dumbest and most awkward looking moments in recent memory. It wasn’t quite as bad as Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior at Halloween Havoc, but Mickie and Kylie did have some serious timing issues. They finally got it together, and Mickie won the match.
NWA TELEVISION CHAMPION TYRUS/ THE MASKED SCION/ JORDAN CLEARWATER (WITH AUSTIN IDOL) VS DA POPE/ THE END (PARROW/ODINSON)
This six-man tag was a throwaway match that felt like it was added to pad the show. Considering this PPV lasted nearly three hours and thirty minutes, it wasn’t needed. Also, this was a missed opportunity to have the always terrible Tyrus defend his NWA Television Championship. It’s a shame that Pope, who is exceptional, didn’t get a bigger platform on NWA 73. Pope deserves better, and so do we. Austin Idol’s team won, and, thankfully, the next match was much better.
THE NWA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: CHRIS ADONIS(C) VS “COWBOY” JAMES STORM
James Storm is always fun to watch, and the fans have loved him for years. Chris Adonis is decent, but James Storm brought this match to a whole different level. This big man came to the ring swilling beer and then proceeded to deliver high-impact offense, including a Frankensteiner from the top rope to Adonis. This was a fun contest, with Adonis retaining his NWA National Championship in the end.
Following the Adonis and Storm match, was arguably the second best moment of the night, aside from the main event. Ric Flair came to the ring. Why he didn’t have his traditional music, which is a classical piece, not an original one owned by WWE, is beyond me. Instead, he came out to some irritating synthesizer crap. Aside from the poor and puzzling music choice, Ric’s promo was perfect for this event, and I could tell it meant a lot to him. After all, this is a place where he wrestled numerous times. He talked about WWE, Hunter, Shawn, Vince McMahon, and others. It was stream of consciousness, but it in a good way. It was Naitch being Naitch. It was yet another spectacular way that the NWA incorporated tradition into this anniversary show. It was great witnessing Ric Flair’s return to the NWA. Let’s hope they have him back again soon.
12-MAN BATTLE ROYALE FOR THE NUMBER ONE CONTENDERSHIP FOR THE NWA NATIONAL TITLE
The battle royale was entertaining enough. These kinds of matches aren’t my favorite, unless it’s the Royal Rumble. There were some decent spots throughout, but there wasn’t anything worth raving about. Judias, who was accompanied to the ring by the amazing Father James Mitchell, won the match, even though JTG would have been a much better choice.
NWA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP: KAMILLE (C) VS THE WINNER OF THE NWA EMPOWERRR WOMEN’S INVITATIONAL CUP, CHELSEA GREENE
One of the best matches of the night was between these two talented ladies. Seeing Kamille lock horns with Chelsea Greene was highly enjoyable. Chelsea has really stepped up her game, exhibiting a level of technical wrestling that shows she’s putting in the work. I’m very happy for her recent string of success in IMPACT Wrestling and the NWA. Like Mickie James, she was unceremoniously cut loose from WWE, yet both of these women have used that setback as a way to elevate their careers in a way that is inspiring. Despite her best efforts, Chelsea tapped out and Kamille retained.
NWA TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: ARON STEVENS/ KRATOS (C) VS LA REBELIÓN (BESTIA 666/MECHAWOLF)
This was another fantastic bout. Both teams gave it their all, and I was thoroughly impressed by everyone involved. It was also cool to see Konnan come to the ring with La Rebelion. I just saw him in MLW in July. This man is popping up everywhere! By the final bell, new NWA Tag Team Champions were crowned, ending the reign of Aron Stevens and Kratos. A really solid match where both teams looked strong.
NWA HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: “THE NATIONAL TREASURE” NICK ALDIS (C) VS TREVOR MURDOCH
The main event of NWA 73 was the highlight of this entire show. The storytelling going into this match was beautifully done, including having Trevor Murdoch’s family at ringside. He was wearing a coat that paid tribute to Harley Race, and Trevor is a hometown boy; so all of these elements, including the fact that he was putting his career on the line, made for a moment in time that was simply perfect. One humorous thing worth noting is during the pre-match pep talk, the referee referred to Harley Race, who is very much dead, as a “living legend.” I understand that he misspoke, but it still made me chuckle. Not the best word choice, ref! After this faux pas, Trevor and the NWA Champion of more than 1,000 days went at it. But, in typical Aldis fashion, Nick gave Trevor a cheapshot while he was talking to his son at ringside.
The two brawled all around the room before the bell to start the match even rang, resulting in a moment where Billy Corgan and Pate Kenney came out to try and get them both back into the ring. Seeing Billy Corgan almost trade blows with Nick Aldis was pretty hilarious. Hopefully Billy won’t pull a Dixie Carter and become a central character in the promotion because we all know how that turned out for her . . . and him.
This contest was a heated one, with both guys giving it their all. I was thoroughly impressed by both. From Aldis delivering a flying elbow to Trevor on a table outside the ring, to Murdoch nailing a Code Red on the National Treasure, they pulled out all the stops. Murdoch gave Aldis a Harley Race piledriver, which he quickly followed up with a flying bulldog off the top rope, securing himself the match and, at long last, the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship.
The crowd erupted in applause, Trevor Murdoch’s family came into the ring, as did Ric Flair, to congratulate him. And Billy Corgan came out to offer his praise as well. It was a heartwarming and satisfying way to end this historic show. While there were some low points, and I’d argue that EmPowerrr was the better show overall, NWA 73 was completely worth watching, especially to see Trevor Murdoch achieve his dream and dethrone Nick Aldis as the champ.