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A Special Look Back at the First Days of NWA-TNA

After the WrestleCrap induction of the wrestling penises (or is that pen-i?) known as The Johnsons a couple of weeks back, I have been bombarded with requests for some of the more...how can I put this nicely?...idiotic characters and angles that plagued the first few weeks of NWA-TNA's existence. In fact, my inbox has been jammed with suggestions as to individual personas and storylines that really need a home here at the Crap.

I was torn, however - for starters, most of the stuff mentioned in the emails, while idiotic in and of themselves, really didn't warrant, in my mind, full blown inductions. While it might seem easy for me to rant and rave about how stupid having a fat guy named Cheex was, in reality, I can only come up with so many words for something as limited as to what that character really was. So while I was dying to cover him, I really didn't know quite how to do so.

Enter my fellow Crappers over at the Official WrestleCrap Forum, specifically a guy with the handle of CXRhodes: "So far you have The Johnsons from TNA, but I wonder if you would ever consider a precedent-setting decision and inducting TNA as a whole?"

Now let it be known that I do not hate TNA. In fact, I think that a lot of the promotion is actually pretty darn good. Sure, I hate the fact that no matter what happens, Jeff Jarrett will always be on top, but there is a LOT to like about the company, especially that guys who would never EVER get a chance in WWE, like AJ Styles, sometimes get huge pushes in the organization. The idea, therefore, of inducting the company as a whole was something I shrugged off.

But then I happened to pop in some tapes of the early TNA shows...and my GOD was it brutal. Perhaps Blade Braxton summed it up best: "It was so damned SOUTHERN...I felt like I should have been required to have chewing tobacco in my mouth and country music playing softly on my stereo while viewing it."

I won't go that far (probably because I am a hick myself), nor can I in good conscience induct TNA as a whole. However, I think it would be an equal miscarriage of justice to let the early days of TNA slide by unnoted. Because trust me, those first shows were well and truly WrestleCraptastic. In fact, I remember several articles right before and right after TNA's first show where columnists claimed that the company was trying to appeal to the WrestleCrap crowd.

Again, let me explain to any future wrestling promoter out there: being at WrestleCrap is a sign you did something BAD, not GOOD. I know it's a tricky concept, but really, putting on stuff that just so I can make fun of it, while flattering, isn't a very sound business strategy.

In case someone at home didn't know who was footing the bill for the show, it was made very apparent when the first wrestler to appear on stage was none other than Jeff Jarrett, who proceeded to claim that having a battle royal to determine the first ever NWA-TNA champion was really stupid.

Just in case someone thought, "Well, he's a heel, so he's supposed to say stuff like that", babyface Scott Hall came out and said the exact same thing.

I love that - nothing like tell fans how dumb the promotion is that they are watching right off the bat. You know, WCW used to do stuff like that all the time.

Just thought I'd mention that.

Still, though, if you were looking for ugly women dancing in cages, TNA was your place. In fact, back on those first few shows, it was very clear to even the densest mark that TNA stood for anything but "Total Nonstop Action."

And yes, these hoochies would swivel and gyrate in their cages liked sexed up rats, all the while basked in near darkness. And for that, I was very relieved - in the few instances where the spotlights flashed upon their mugs, it became readily apparent that light was not their friend.

Trivia time!

Can you name the participants in the first ever televised TNA wrestling match?

Christopher Daniels? BZZT!

Raven? Nope!

Ken Shamrock? Uh uh!

Nope, it was none of those guys. But if you guessed "The Flying Elvis Impersonators", step right up and choose your prize!

Save the hate mail - I will be the first to admit that these guys (Sonny Siaki, Jorge Estrada, and Jimmy Yang) were quite good in the ring. That's not my point. My point is that having dudes dressed up as Elvis in your VERY FIRST MATCH kind of detracts from the talent they have, talent that, on their own, could easily differentiate the promotion from others.

(And besides that, there's only room for one Elvis impersonator, and that man is Wayne Ferris. Thank you very much, you're a beautiful audience.)

I know what you're asking. What could possibly follow flying Elvises? There's but one word:

MIDGETS!

(Or should that be midgets?)

Here we have Teo, the extreme midget. I don't know about you, but I really don't need my midgets "extreme." Call me a puss, but midgets with tattoos and nipple rings just flat out scare me. I appreciate the thought of trying to be hip and fly and cool and dope and whatever the hell else kids say these days, but to be fair, I'll take just a plain ol' Haiti Kid any day of the week.

Sadly, Teo wasn't just an extreme midget, he was an extreme midget rapist, as during one episode of the show, he actually hopped in with one of the cage dancers and attempted to have his extreme midget way with her.

That's totally disgusting. Surely even a social outcast like Teo could have found someone a little less ho bag-ish.

Speaking of, look - it's an ALL SKANK BATTLE ROYALE! There was Francince, Elektra, Daffney, and a bunch of other tramps, no doubt leftovers from Amateur Night at the local Gold Club.

Although all of the girls eventually ganged up on Francine, sadly none of them proclaimed that she had a gap wide enough to drive a truck through.

Of course, we all remember the Johnsons, whose gimmick was that they were real, live wrestling penises. What you might not remember, though, was the follow up tandem of the Hot Shots. There gimmick was that they had huge schlongs (the visual accomplished by jamming tubesocks into their tights).

For your edification, I present to you their first (and hopefully last) promo reprinted verbatim and in its entirety:

"We're pricks.
We are proud.
And we are protruding!!!"

They then proceeded to grab their nether regions.

I don't know what it was, but TNA sure loved their penis gimmicks.

Odds are you don't remember him, but there was yet another Johnson that made appearances in TNA's early days: referee Slick Johnson.

Who cares, right? Well get this - Johnson, who I will remind you was a referee, actually pantomimed along with every move being performed in the ring between the combatants!

Take a look at the photo to your right. Scott Hall is whipped into the turnbuckle, so Johnson HOLDS HIS BACK.

You know it's a powerful move when the REF sells it.

Enough Johnsons. Let's talk more about women - specifically, those that don't wrestle!

Here Alicia Webb (known as Ryan Shamrock in the WWF and Symphony in WCW) makes her appearance as a gal who guys pay money to because...well....we never found out. It's right up there with the Baby Doll-Dusty photos on the wrestling mystery chart.

Here she propositions Jeremy Borash, who looks to have already creamed his jeans, a sight that I believe ranks up there with a midget rapist as one that would do little to encourage viewers to order future pay-per-views.

You know, not a week goes by when I don't get an email asking where the ECW inductions are. Well, gang, here's one, ironically enough stuck inside a TNA retrospective. It's the Dupps - Bo Dupp, Stan Dupp, and their cousin/girlfriend, Fluff Dupp. They were basically inbred hillbillies, and Bo's gimmick was that he had his hand shoved up his ass about half the time.

You know, maybe I SHOULD give them a full blown induction one of these days. After all, it just wouldn't be right to try to squeeze all the intricacies of the DUPP CUP into just a 200 pixel box.

I'm not sure, but I think this is Disco Inferno's talk show segment "Jive Talkin'." That or he is conducting a live remote from grandma's yard sale.

Hmm, I wonder if granny would take $5 for that worn down end table?

In an effort to get the attention of NASCAR fans, TNA also imported race drivers Hermie Sadler and Sterling Marlin...

...and also brought in Toby Keith to attract country music fans.

To be fair, I have no real issue with bringing in folks to attract new fans. But when you start putting these guys in the ring? Come on. Leave the action inside the ring to the wrestlers. They're the real athletes. Why, just look at...

...Cheex, who was so fat that he made Rikishi look like Kendall Windham by comparison. The guy was so obese that he actually had to stop on his way to the ring and catch a breather. Now I'm no physician or anything, but I'm guessing that's probably not healthy.

I should also point out that his valet was named BROWN EYE GIRL, which might be the single worst monicker I've heard in the history of this great sport of ours.

Why not just call her Sphincter Face and be done with it?

Speaking of asses, we'd be remiss to not bring up the fantabulous Buff Bagwell "shoot" interview (conducted here with a dreadlocked Ed Ferrara), in which he claimed that he wasn't Buff anymore, he was just Marcus Bagwell.

You know, if you're going to rip off bad WCW angles, at least import Gary Spivey and do it right.

 

Believe it or not, there was even more repeats of horrible WCW stuff, such as the Rainbow Express of Lenny Lane and Bruce (Kwee Wee), who openly promoted their alternative lifestyle.

Just in case someone didn't quite catch onto the fact "alternative lifestyle" = GAY, Bruce decided that he wanted to be Miss TNA.

Hmmm...you know, perhaps TNA was just trying to appeal to a whole new demographic, that being one that enjoyed guys showing off their big weiners, fat guys named Cheex, and guys in garters showing off their asses.

I'm guessing that is probably a pretty small demo, but to be fair, the company IS still in business two years later, so what do I know?

The coup disgrace, however, had to be this little fella here. Now you may ask, didn't we already see midgets? A midget rapist, no less? Why yes, yes, we did. But this guy deserves special attention. Maybe psychiatric attention.

This is Puppet the Midget Killer.

See, he's a Midget Killer because he's not a midget - he's a dwarf.

Allow me to reiterate what I just wrote: HE'S A DWARF AND HE WANTS TO MURDER MIDGETS.

You'd think the high point in his career would be what we see to the left, with him waving his gun in the air, no doubt looking to add Little Beaver's head to his trophy wall.

But oh no; there was something for which he would become far more famous.

He was the first - and to my knowledge, only - midget...umm, I mean dwarf to ever get caught spanking his monkey in a trash can on a wrestling show.

To prove that he was in reality a very courterous bloke, he even offered Goldilocks some of his, and I am quoting here, "porridge."

I am very glad my mother never read me the TNA version of that particular fairy tale when I was a child.

The amazing thing to me is that not only did TNA run these early, largely awful shows, but here they are, over twenty-four months later, still in business. There was no one who gave these guys even the slightest chance to survive (least of all me!), but they did, and they are now unquestionably the number two wrestling promotion in the US.

Somehow, given the early shows this company ran, "number two" seems very appropriate.


Puppet the Midget Killer: "Two weeks ago, TNA brought me in and they've got these two midgets taking my limelight. They let them wrestle. Well, I want to beat some midget ass! I want to make a midget bleed tonight! Why don't you bring in that Gary Coleman? Oh, that's right he's a has been! Or how about Mini-Me? Yeah, Mini-Me, I'll beat your ass, you're taking all my money in the movies! Or why don't you bring in that drunk midget from the Howard Stern Show, Beetlejuice? I will wipe the floor with you! I am not leaving here tonight until I beat some midget ass! I want to see a midget bleed! And that's a promise!"