After the purchase of WCW by WWF in 2001, there were many new promotions vying to be the #2 company in the wrestling world. Jimmy Hart launched the XWF and the Jarretts founded NWA-TNA, but the first out of the blocks was Andrew McManus, who not only set up the World Wrestling All-Stars promotion in his native Australia, but got onto pay-per-view to fire the first shot of the would-be war.
Never heard of Andrew McManus? That’s probably because his background was not in wrestling, but in concert promotion. You might recognize this scenario as the plot of “Body Slam,” and I can assure you that the results were just as wacky as the Dirk Benedict film, but with many more in-ring sex acts.
See, McManus hired WCW (and now TNA) announcer Jeremy Borash to book the matches in his new promotion because apparently Vince Russo was not available. That is not a joke.
By WWA’s surprisingly filthy debut pay-per-view in October 2001 (January 2002 in the U.S.), Borash had assembled a who’s who of who’s-pissed-off-Vince McMahon, such as Road Dogg, Jeff Jarrett, and Buff Bagwell. However, the first talent to be seen on-air was Bret Hart.
You might recall that by this point, Hart had suffered a career-ending concussion and thus wouldn’t be wrestling. You might also recall that Inception was held after Steve Austin’s feud with Vince McMahon, which proved to promoters everywhere that every wrestling program needed its angles to revolve around an on-screen authority figure such as Vince Russo, Terry Funk, Kevin Nash, Mike Sanders, Ric Flair, Ernest Miller, Don Callis, Mick Foley, William Regal, Eric Bischoff, Stephanie McMahon, Paul Heyman, Kurt Angle, Teddy Long, Jonathan Coachman, Mike Adamle, Vickie Guerrero, Tiffany, a laptop computer, John Laurinaitis, Triple H, Booker T, AJ Lee, Brad Maddox, Erik Watts, Jeff Jarrett, Dusty Rhodes, Larry Zybysko, Jim Cornette, Dixie Carter, Hulk Hogan, Brooke Hogan, or some combination thereof. Thus, Bret Hart served as the commissioner of the new organization, flown in to Australia for the all-important duty of handing the new belt to the winner of a tournament.
I take that back. The belt wasn’t new, but had in fact already been won by the Road Dogg the week before, only to be vacated for the purposes of holding a tournament at a major event. Road Dogg’s first reign was stricken from the record. That’s sort of the opposite of Buddy Rogers winning the WWWF title in a fictitious Rio de Janeiro tournament before dropping it to Bruno at MSG.
In his promo, Hart explained that because he had never really been beaten for his WWF title at Montreal, nor for the WCW title he had to forfeit, that meant that he was still the champion of both organizations and that the belt he was giving away tonight was basically the undisputed championship of wrestling. Nice try, Bret, but by that logic, Shawn Michaels never lost his title in 1997 after losing his smile, nor did Sting ever lose the WCW title in 1999 that Bret ended up winning in a tournament, so every title lineage is basically a lie anyway.
Then, a strange thing happened: the announcers’ microphones went live, blasting their commentary to the audience through the loudspeakers in the arena. If WWE adopted this practice and piped Michael Cole or, heaven forbid, Tony Dawson commentary throughout arenas, they would have to start filming in an empty studio like the AWA to cover up the drop in attendance. Nonetheless, fans in attendance were treated, whether they liked it or not, to the insights of Jeremy Borash and Jerry “The King” Lawler.
Oh, did I not mention The King? He dropped by to do commentary shortly before being rehired by the WWF in November. He thus not only got to share his love of puppies with the thousands in attendance, but also got to remind the American PPV audience in 2002 that they were paying to watch a re-run.
The first match of the evening was a ladder match featuring Juventud Guerrera, who was somehow allowed back into Australia after his naked PCP-fueled freak-out on WCW’s tour down under. As punishment, he was given the Macarena as his entrance music.
Juvi’s opponent was future Mexicools partner Psicosis. Neither man could be very comfortable in this match, as they had to contend with Borash and Lawler’s distracting live commentary, plus the mostly-silent crowd of fans paying too much attention to said commentary to make any noise at all outside of the high-spots.
Within minutes, fans and wrestlers alike realized the pitfalls of miked commentary. For instance, yeah, it might not ever make any sense at all to bring a second ladder into the ring when the first one is already set up, but it didn’t help when the announcers second-guessed this decision for everyone in the audience to hear. I also don’t think the referee appreciated Lawler’s hysterical laughter after the official accidentally got hit in the head by a ladder.
Juvi won the match to win the prestigious week-old cruiserweight title (previously held and then vacated by Psicosis) and advance in the WWA title tournament.
Next came the dancing “Starettes,” WWA’s answer to the Nitro Girls. Kimberly Page and the gang, however, never had the luxury of instant perverted feedback, provided on this night by the King, who has never gotten over the fact that some people are women.
Speaking of “puppies” (or, more accurately, squealing of puppies), the next match was a dog-collar match pitting Konnan against Road Dogg. Scratch that, it was “Konan” vs. “Road Dog,” with no signature double-letters. I guess WWA didn’t want a cease-and-desist letter from Jerry McDevitt (or, as he would have been known in WWA, Jery McDevit).
Things got personal when Konan grabbed the mic and pointed out that the Dog was the only DX member not gainfully employed (correctly implying that wrestling for WWA wasn’t a real job).
Konan used a crowbar unbeknownst to the referee, despite the announcers’ protests going out over the loudspeaker. I don’t know how the use of weapons jibed with the rules of a dog collar match, but this commentary set-up required referees to be even more stupid and oblivious than ever before, ignoring blatant rule-breaking that was literally being yelled at them. The poor refs couldn’t even use fan noise as an excuse, as the crowd for this and most other matches was absolutely silent.
Four turnbuckles and one simulated act of rape later and the D-O-Single-G picked up the win to advance to the semi-finals.
The non-tournament hardcore match between Norman Smiley and Devon Storm saw Jerry Lawler show off his knowledge of WCW, which is astounding considering that nowadays the King doesn’t even watch his own company’s shows unless he’s physically at the announce table. Norman Smiley, whose screams throughout the match proved indistinguishable from Lawler’s trademarked horny squeals, performed the Big Wiggle twice on his way to winning not only the match of the night, but the second consecutive bout to feature dry-humping.
Right before the battle royal, Bret Hart opened the match up to anybody who worked for the WWA. It ended up being an eleven-person contest after backstage announcer Stevie Ray, commentators Jerry Lawler and Jeremy Borash, a cameraman, two referees, a female backstage interviewer, and previous match participants Storm and Smiley all took advantage of the offer to take on Buff Bagwell and Disco Inferno. Does that mean the battle royal was originally scheduled to be one-on-one?
Jerry Lawler provided another act of mock-sodomy for our third consecutive match, settling on Norman Smiley because the one woman in the match had fled after King jumped on top of her. Of course I’m not kidding.
Bagwell picked up the victory after two guys dressed as children’s cartoon characters Bananas in Pyjamas eliminated Disco Inferno. Buff had already survived a scary neck injury once before; he should have known better than to join WWA and dive head-first into such a shallow pool of talent.
The final first-round match-up pitted Jeff Jarrett against Nathan “The Front Row” Jones in a Guitar on a Pole match. Again, I assure you that Vince Russo had nothing to do with this pay-per-view. The Sydney native with lactating nipples (source: The Wrestlecrap Book of Lists) had hometown appeal, which WWA milked for all it was worth, putting Australian TV host Rove McManus in his corner to make the perfect pair.
Rove ended up taking the guitar shot to the head (rendering the match stipulation moot), and Jarrett pinned Jones before either man could pretend to penetrate the other, thus breaking that streak at three consecutive matches. Nathan Jones nursed his injuries backstage.
For some comic relief, Jerry Lawler invited the “two fruits” into the ring, but just as he was starting his interview with the guys in banana suits, the flamboyant West Hollywood Blondes came to ringside. Get it? Two fruits? King joked that we now had four fruits in the ring! Get it? Four fruits?
Turner and company might have pulled the plug on the West Hollywood Blondes gimmick, but nothing was stopping WWA from reviving ideas deemed too bad for WCW, so Lenny and Lido (Source: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pro Wrestling) were up to their old tricks.
Commissioner Hart then arrived and ordered the two fruits to leave. But which two fruits was he talking about? Get it? Two fruits? Anyway, Hart announced a change to the upcoming semi-final match, bringing out Road Dog(g) but replacing the now-injured Juventud with Lodi and “Lonny” (Had the Hitman been studying the Complete Idiot’s Guide, too?).
After orchestrating yet another comedic saddle-backing spot, the Road Dog beat the odds…
…first by escaping a three-count when the referee hallucinated a kickout…
…then by taking advantage of a miscommunication to score an hilarious 69-style pin.
Simulated sex act count: Six.
The sexual nonsense would end right there, however, as Jeff Jarrett and Buff Bagwell next got down to business in a… “Tits, Whips, and Buff” match? You know you’ve got a problem when Jerry Lawler is too bashful to repeat the name of the match stipulation. By this point, it was safe to say that Andrew McManus’s only knowledge of the pay-per-view medium had come from lonely hotel stays.
Buff Bagwell’s bountiful bevy of skanks brandished whips and acted as lumberjacks to keep both men in the ring. Jeff and Buff then had the unenviable task of working a match as Jerry Lawler and Jeremy Borash discussed their S&M experiences for all the arena to hear. How did Bagwell even keep his concentration when Jerry Lawler complained that he wasn’t getting whipped enough?
It’s no wonder that when one of the whip girls made an unofficial three-count for Bagwell behind his back, Buff was utterly convinced that he had won, despite the announcers repeatedly shouting on the loudspeaker that the pinfall didn’t count. Jarrett took advantage with a Stroke to beat Bagwell for real.
Luna Vachon wrestled her own husband The Vampire Warrior (known in WWE as Gangrel) in a “Black Wedding Match.” The premise was that Luna was angry at her husband for losing matches, but Vampire Warrior refused to hit his own wife. The match was about as entertaining as any match can be where one opponent refuses to execute any offense. Nah, it was even less entertaining than that. Vampire Warrior eventually gave in to anger after Luna grabbed his genitals with tongs and spat in his face, planting his wife with a DDT to win the inaugural PDV (Pointless Domestic Violence) match.
Next up was the “Skin to Win” match, a four-way women’s match where the object was to rip off the other three girls’ tops. This, by the way, came the same night Bret Hart called the WWA a wrestling promotion with integrity. It had so much integrity, in fact, that one of the participants was actually a straight man in drag sneaking in to beat up and strip the much smaller women.
Proving that even their smut matches were less classy than the WWF’s, two of the participants were nude models. Not Playboy Playmates, mind you, but Penthouse Pets. Didn’t Bad News Brown used to keep sewer rats as pets?
After the man in drag got his wig ripped off, the announcers eventually realized that it was Danny Dominion, a quick Wikipedia search of whom reveals that he has no Wikipedia page. He snagged the two Penthouse girls’ tops and threw the women out of the ring by their hair. The fans gave their biggest boos of the night, not for the violent degradation of the two women, but because they were both wearing giant pasties. Thanks to a save by Stevie Ray, Adara James (the only competitor who was both a woman and a wrestler) got the victory. Incidentally, this match was dropped from the U.S. broadcast on principle, despite being as titillating as the Finkel-Wippleman tuxedo match.
Before the main event, Jeremy read a note hinting at Scott Steiner’s arrival in the WWA. If he wanted to call himself the “Big Bad Booty Daddy,” he certainly came to the right place, as long as he didn’t mind contending with Road Dogg, Norman Smiley, Jerry Lawler, and Lodi for that title.
Disco Inferno then called out the Bananas in Pyjamas for costing him the battle royal. Mr. Gilberti threw one of the “Fruits” off the cage onto a table before singing a celebratory verse by KC & The Sunshine Band.
The main event was a cage match pitting Road Dog against Jeff Jarrett, both of whom had endured eight grueling minutes of action during the two previous rounds. Both men quickly escaped the cage for no particular reason, seeing as you couldn’t win the match that way. One ref bump later and Bret Hart refused to ring the bell when Jarrett locked in the sharpshooter to make Road Dogg tap out. One more ref bump later and Bret again refused to ring the bell when Jesse James locked in his own version of the sharpshooter to make Jarrett tap out. Bret started leaving with the belt, as he was not going to let another wrestler win the title with his signature hold (except maybe Konnan, who taught Bret the move in the first place).
Finally, one of the referees came to in time to count Jeff Jarrett’s pin on the Road Dog, awarding Jeff what looked like a piece of Power Rangers merchandise.
Hart then argued with Jeff in the ring, leading Borash to rail against how bitter the commissioner was. Again, this commentary was going out live and Hart could hear every word. Bret then put the bloodied Jeff in the sharpshooter, which would have solidified his heel turn if the audience had cared about the story line in the first place instead of just wanting to see Bret Hart. The WWA never had a TV show, so why should the fans have gotten involved in angles they would never see develop?
The PPV ended up doing a 0.6, which would have been a pretty good buy rate. I say “would have been” because that wasn’t the buy rate at all, but rather the average number of simulated sex acts per match. Given the sub-par wrestling, dead crowds, poor presentation, intergender violence, and rampant poop-chute shenanigans, it’s no wonder the WWA didn’t catch on.
However, the pay-per-view was clearly influential to TNA. I like to think that Jarrett took the cage match stipulation, combined it with the concept of having a gimmick for every single match on the card, and came up with the Lockdown pay-per-view. If not, he at least took the concept of world champion Jeff Jarrett winning every match and built a company around it.
Either way, I can only hope that WWA Inception taught Aussies not to let just any wrestler enter their outback.