Why Wrestling Fans Should Be Watching NWA Powerr

One of the biggest complaints for wrestling fans who grew up during the territory days and the boom of the 1980s Rock and Wrestling era, is that today’s product is not for them. Many long for the days of wrestling where two guys had a beef with each other and settled it in the ring, or fought for the quest of being the champion, not wrestling invisible men, fighting with fire, glass bulbs, or other crazy ideas. Even towards the end of the Monday Night Wars, especially with WCW’s storylines, the matches were changed throughout the show minutes before the matches,with ridiculous endings like someone winning the title belt via disqualification in a NO-DQ match (like the recent WWE Hell In A Cell result between Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt where the “no rules” match ended on a DQ finish have recently shown, but this was on a weekly and monthly basis). There is still a group of wrestling fans who would rather watch the older , traditional wrestling shows as opposed to today’s product.
Growing up, I was a fan of the WWF and their cartoonish characters, along with the classic Jim Crockett NWA shows, and other territories, like the American Wrestling Alliance (AWA) and World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW). Many who stopped watching wrestling may not know, but the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), which brought stars like Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and The Rock N Roll Express never really went away when Ted Turner turned Crockett’s territory into World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

The National Wrestling Alliance was originally a group of promoters who wanted to have one true champion, and dated back to the early 1900s. The group of promoters who were in the NWA (at one time or another) included Vince McMahon Sr, Sam Muchnick, and Verne Gagne, before Gagne and McMahon decided to go off on their own (McMahon started his WWWF, which is now current WWE, and Gagne ran the AWA). During the 1980s, the NWA was known for wrestlers like The Four Horsemen, The Midnight Express, Lex Luger, and Sting. The NWA was considered gone after Ric Flair showed up with the title on WWF television as the “Real World Champion,” but the NWA made its appearances on WWF, when Jim Cornette, Jeff Jarrett, The Rock N Roll Express, and Barry Windham had an “invasion” storyline, which fizzled out quickly. The NWA title was still defended around the country, and was merged with TNA for a time before TNA withdrew from the alliance.
The current NWA is owned by musician Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, a band who I never cared for their music. Corgan had some experience during his time with TNA, along with Dave Lagana (who has worked with TNA, WWE, and Ring of Honor). The current show, NWA Powerr, is shown on youtube and Facebook, and is causing a buzz around wrestling fans who long for the “good old days” of wrestling. If you are not watching this show yet, here are my reasons you should be following :

 

  1. The Tradition.
    The setting is similar to the 1980s NWA shows that aired on WTBS Saturday Mornings and nights. Fans that long for the studio wrestling days (even back to the Pittsburgh, PA studio wrestling with Bruno Sammartino, Dominic DeNucci and Bill Cardille in the 1960s and 1970s run by Toots Mondt), this is the place to be. The crowd is facing the camera, where two announcer tables are set at opposite sides of the front section; one for the wrestlers to come out and do their promos, and the other for the play by play announcers. Many fans have stated that this is similar to the Memphis or the Crockett NWA studios, with the ring being miked for the fans to hear the sounds of the action. If you miss the studio feel of wrestling, the NWA has you covered. Even the theme song from the 1980s band Dokken helps in its nostalgic targeted audience.

 

NWA Champion Nick Aldis

2. Nick Aldis
The current NWA Champion has come a long way from his former TNA days. I was not a major fan of his TNA days story lines, being a member of the second Main Event Mafia with Sting, Samoa Joe, and Kurt Angle. Since Sting was my favorite wrestler, I did not see the reasons why Aldis was put in the group, being placed in the “elite” group and continued with a losing streak. Maybe it was the writing of the creative team not knowing what to do with him, but watching Aldis’ matches against Cody Rhodes last year, fans can see why he is the top star of the NWA. His promo on episode #1 of Powerr (and his first title match vs Tim Storm on the same show) proved what the champions today are lacking; class. He came out for his interview in a suit, did not talk down to his opponent, and gave the viewers a promo of how proud he was to be in the league. He made fans believe that Storm (a former champion) was a major threat to the championship, for those who were not familiar with his work.
Today’s wrestler promos are way too scripted, to the point that they are not emotional or believable. Aldis ,on his promo alone, showed the tradition of a classy champion, like Nick Bockwinkel or Flair.

 

Kamille is the talk of the league

3. Kamille
There are many great women wrestlers right now in the world. My favorites are Becky Lynch, Alexia Bliss, and Tenille Dashwood. Dashwood and Tessa Blanchard are in Impact (the former TNA), which I do not even get to watch, and I can only get an occasional match of Lynch or Bliss (I do not have cable TV, nor am I going to pay for the WWE Network until more AWA and other territory footage is added).
The “Insurance Policy” of Nick Aldis, who appeared with him in his match against Cody at NWA 70, has been the talk of the show, without saying much. That is because she hasn’t said anything character-wise (yet), but has taken a bump from an Aldis move outside the ring, that was more believable than some of the flips and dives of the men in other leagues. Kamille has been known on the indy circuits as Kamilla Kaine (youtube videos of her from Real Pro Wrestling can be found). She is a former softball player and women’s football player. Her character development is paced nicely to where fans want more, but creative are not rushing it (which is another plus for NWA-creative is letting the promos and stories develop naturally without rushing). With Kamille in the NWA, she will get to develop skills while still being able to let fans see her, as opposed to being on ROH or Impact, where very few people will get to see her, due to the lack of exposure both have right now. I also think that the WWE would just place her in NXT to lose every week, not knowing what to do with her. Kamille is a great find for the NWA right now to give a strong woman personality, while letting the others in the women’s division shine. All the WWE would do with her is job out (lose) to Charlotte every week , or keep her off air, like Liv Morgan has been, another female who I enjoyed (many know how I am not a fan of Ms. Flair). Kamille could be one of the top stars of the NWA if not already. Male fans are already watching just due to her presence.

 

Among the many stars, Aron Stevens provides fans with entertainment in and out of the ring.

4. Top Stars Along With Up and Comers
A league with a television show needs to have stars to help out the younger talent. The NWA has several former TNA stars like James Storm, Eli Drake (who reminds me of a young Steve Austin from his “Stunning Steve ” days at times), Thomas Latimar (aka Bram) and others like Ken Anderson, The Rock N Roll Express, and Aron Stevens; the former Damien Sandow. I was a fan of Sandow for years, with the exception of his tag team with The Miz in WWE, where I thought Sandow was not being used properly (and not a fan of The Miz’s in ring work). Sandow is one of the few wrestlers during the first batch of tapings who has gotten under the fans’ skin, to when he walks out , he gets the fans going (NO spoilers, but he adds comedy to every promo). The mixture of top stars, and newer ones (The Dawsons, Ricky Starks, and Thunder Rosa) who may have been on the wrestling scene, but have not been noticed as much, are balanced nicely, where some of the top ones are not afraid to put the younger ones over.

 

Me meeting Jim Cornette in 2018

5. Jim Cornette
There are few people who knew the glory days of the 1980s NWA better than Cornette, who was the famous manager, announcer, and on the creative team during the NWA/WCW years before the Eric Bischoff days. Besides Bobby Heenan, no other announcer can come up with one liners to put over wrestlers on a whim any better. Not only is Cornette’s commentary comical at times, but he also is a wrestling historian, who gives the background of the history of the NWA, mentioning former champions or memorable wrestling stories. Again, stars are needed, and who is a bigger name (besides Ric Flair or Tully Blanchard), when it comes to the NWA than Cornette? The Rock N Roll Express have made their appearances recently as well, which helped build the attention of older fans who want to see some of the classic stars. With his two podcasts, Cornette is also available to plug the show to millions throughout the week for an extra added promotional push.

 

6. The Format
Since the NWA is on Youtube, the program’s run time is an hour. No fillers. No twenty minute opening with a wrestler talking and another comes out to interrupt before a match is booked. The limited promos are not so scripted that they are unbelievable; they are emotional and, at times, just basic, which is a good thing. When the announcer hounds the champion Aldis to speak with Kamille , and she looks at the announcer and walks away, that’s it until the following week to develop the story. There weren’t cameras backstage following her around into the locker room in seven more segments when a match could have been booked. The matches have the wrestlers come in from the black curtain and start wrestling-no five minute introductions with tons of pyro, and have the wrestler standing in the ring for four more minutes of commercial time. Also, since Powerrr is on youtube, if fans miss the debut, they can watch it anytime during the week, or several times a week, without a subscription fee. The limited time is actually a plus for the fans, where they are left wanting more , but have to wait a week to see it.

Fans that are longing for the studio days of wrestling, with a history of tradition that doesn’t shy away from its past (as opposed to some leagues who want you to totally forget this wrestler had a different gimmick two months ago and is repackaged too often), the NWA is the way to go. Some may want to praise the work of the other televised leagues, where three of the wrestlers use the same five moves every match 17 times, NWA Powerr is the show to be watching every week. I have had friends and co-workers who have not watched wrestling for years tuning in to the NWA show. Although I was never a fan of Billy Corgan’s music, he has the right product filled with quality wrestling, nostalgia, and solid pacing for a wrestling show. I believe that having different leagues will help not only fans, but the wrestlers, and this show is attracting a frustrated group of fans who left watching a long time ago. Powerr is the best wrestling show at this time.

NWA Powerr debuts each week on Tuesdays at 6:05 PM Eastern time on facebook and youtube.
For information about the National Wrestling Alliance, visit their website at : https://www.nationalwrestlingalliance.com/

Book Review: Creating An Inside Look Into Wrestlemania

Cover Design :Franco Malagisi

Being an honest reviewer, I admit I am skeptical of books released under the WWE brand. The books (at least in the past) have been mostly written with the wrestlers in character throughout, or sometimes, without the wrestlers’ involvement in the telling of their own stories. However, Jon Robinson’s  “Creating The Mania: An Inside Look at How Wrestlemania Comes to Life” (ECW Press/WWE Books, 2018) is an enjoyable book that dispels this notion of past WWE related books.

This book interviews many of the top WWE wrestlers, film producers, and other WWE employees to give an inside look at all the work that goes into the Wrestlemania card, including the events during the week that have grown beyond just having a wrestling show, which made its debut in 1985.

Vince McMahon Jr, who created the Wrestlemania concept, is interviewed early in the book, telling the story how he created the idea of Wrestlemania when he started to turn his then WWF league into a national, and eventually, world-wide extravaganza. Robinson interviews people such as John Saboor, the Executive VP of WWE Special Events, who details how the city of the event gets picked, and how the WWE wants the city’s community to be involved since Wrestlemania is full of events all week, including the Hall of Fame Ceremony, WWE Axxess (that includes fan events and meet and greets with some of the stars), and how the WWE expects to work with the city chosen for years to come, not just a one time deal with the big event. Saboor also states that the WWE plans their major PPV events three years in advance. This part was especially interesting when Saboor states a group of WWE executives meet every three weeks with the city officials, holding meetings that last as long as 8-10 hours a day. Most fans think that the WWE just shows up to the city and puts on the show, which is far from the truth. The planning and execution is extremely detailed and time consuming. The people behind the scenes are just as much champions as the talent seen in front of the cameras.

The book involves many of the WWE stars and their thoughts on Wrestlemania, their favorite Mania matches (as a fan or participant), along with some encounters that they have had, such as wrestlers getting knocked off the card, or matches being switched at the last moment due to injuries or the signings of new stars or celebrities.

The surprising part of this journey is how the writers and wrestlers discuss their involvement with other leagues. In the past the WWE would never mention that a wrestler was a part of another company, but this book mentions Ring of Honor, TNA, and Japanese leagues, which makes it a refreshing read. Another area that is surprising is that the people interviewed for the book talk about how some of the storylines were changed, and bring out subjects that fans may not have known about; such as Braun Strowman being scheduled to win the Andre The Giant Battle Royal before the WWE got football player Rob Gronkowski involved (which switched the ending) and how the creative team did not know if Brock Lesnar was going to beat The Undertaker until McMahon finally made the call during the day of the show. Proposed matches were set like Jason Jordan vs Kurt Angle, Kane vs Finn Balor, and how UFC star Ronda Rousey was going to be used in her first match are covered.

Interviews with Elias, Jeff Jarrett (right before his Hall of Fame Induction), and producer “Road Dogg” Brian James, who informs the reader how The Royal Rumble is planned, are informative, along with the Alexa Bliss/Nia Jax friendship turning into an on screen storyline. There is also a touching story about announcer Corey Graves, and how he had to learn the skills needed to be an announcer after his career ended by injury (His describing all the voices he hears in his headset during a program gives a new respect to the position for those that may not know what goes on during the televised parts of the shows).

“Creating The Mania” has great insights of the wrestlers stating their opinions on future storylines that they’d like to be a part of , or would like to see, including a possible Reigns vs Rock match. This was entertaining, and who knows a possible tease, for fans to converse.

Overall the book has insightful interviews by people in front and behind the screen, with plenty of photographs throughout the book. It takes the reader right before Wrestlemania. The last chapter has a summary of the WrestleMania 2018 results, so the reader can see what happened from the planning stages to the final product. “Mania” also has an interesting section where some of the wrestlers list their all time favorite Wrestlemania match, which is worth the read. The behind the scenes from planning storylines to how the television production is handled is refreshing compared to past WWE sponsored books. “Creating The Mania” is a different approach covering the WWE Universe. Robinson writes well and engages the reader, so much that the reader may go through the whole book in a few days (like I did). The interviews are wonderful, and the reader does not have to be a die hard fan to understand the topics, because it is easy to follow the flow of the stories. Do not let previous stereotypes of past WWE books prevent you from checking this one out. This is worth your time.

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of ECW Press and WWE Books.

 

“Creating The Mania: An Inside Look at How Wrestlemania Comes to Life” by Jon Robinson (ECW/WWE Books, 2018 ISBN: 978-1-77041-450-1 hardcover, 978-1-77305-271-7 ePub, 978-1-77305-272-4 PDF) can be found at http://www.ecwpress.com and is available August 7, 2018.

 

For information about the author, Jon Robinson’s Twitter account is  @JRobAndSteal.

Cat and Caitlin: Spelling Softball Champions with 2 C’s!

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A shot I took of Firestone Stadium where the Akron Racers play. 2008

Sometime after I graduated college (I graduated in 2002) I was sitting around flipping through the TV channels on a Saturday Afternoon. Much like many things on cable, there was nothing on worth watching. I happened to pass through ESPN and they had women’s college softball on, so I decided to stop and check out a few innings.
I never made it past that channel. I was hooked until the end of the game.
There standing in the pitcher’s mound was a tall superhero, striking out batters right and left from the University of Texas. Not only was she dominating the opposing team, she was also very beautiful and conducted herself with class on the mound. Her name was Cat Osterman.

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Cat Osterman. Photo is from USSA Pride.

For anyone that follows softball or sports, Osterman became a legend in the softball world (yes the word “legend” is used way too much but she well deserves the name in this case). Many people my age may think of Jennie Finch when asked to name a softball player, but this generation may have been brought up on Cat Osterman.
After watching that game I became a fan of women’s softball and started having my favorite players (which were Osterman and Arizonia Wildcat Caitlin Lowe). I started to watch every game I could get access to, especially when it came to the College World Series. I even got printed in the USA Today in 2008 when I wrote about how harmful it was to female athletes when the Olympic Committee decided to remove the sport from their Olympic Events.
( The article can be read on USA Today linkhttp://usatoday30.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20080827/letfeat27.art.htm )

Osterman pitched her last game Monday Night as she announced her retirement. Although it was a losing effort, it takes nothing away from the legacy she has had on the sport. Here are a few stats to show it:
3 Time Big 12 Female Athlete of the Year, (the only athlete male or female to get that honor more than once), 4 Time Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year, 4 Time All American, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2008 Silver Olympic Medalist, 1st Overall pick for National Pro Fastpitch League (NPF) and a 2012 University of Texas Hall of Famer.
This is only some of the achievements she has had, as well as being Champion in the NPF and a commentator for ESPNU, on top of getting her Master’s Degree.

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This is a photo I took of Caitlin Lowe when she was with TEAM USA at a 2008 game against The Akron Racers. I tried to be creative and get a shot of a player away from the team and press , just having a time to herself.

Caitlin Lowe is also retired with an impressive career too , being in both Olympic Medal Teams with Cat and was 2006 and 2007 College World Champion and 3 Pro Titles. She has many records for the Arizona Wildcats, including leader in stolen bases, and Top 10 in hits, triples and runs. And she graduated college too.

 

I had the honor in 2008 to see Osterman and Lowe when the National Team was going around to gear up for the Olympics by playing some of the Pro Teams in Akron Ohio, when they came to face the Akron Racers. Even though Osterman did not play that day, I was honored to see Lowe play, even though a thunderstorm and lightning in the distance prevented me from staying after the game to meet the players (deciding to race the hour plus drive home instead).
The world of Women’s sports lost two great athletes in the past two years in the retirements of Lowe and Osterman on a national level, however both still give back to the sport in other ways, with clinics and coaching. With all the media focusing on male players in the NFL or MLB who are horrible role models, these two athletes not only showed class can be a part of determination to win, but also brought many people to the sport as followers. There will never be another Cat Osterman or Caitlin Lowe, but that’s what made them special.
Thank you to Cat and Cailtin for bringing many people to the sport, including a guy who just happened to stumble across the sport flipping channels one day. I still wear my Arizona Wildcat “Back to Back” Championship, my “Bound for Beijing 08,”and my Cat Osterman “Team USA” shirts with pride.