By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NWA Hard Times Pay-Per-View
Aired live January 24, 2020 on FITE TV
Atlanta, Georgia at GPB Studios
Billy Corgan’s “Hard Times” played to the opening video… The broadcast team of Joe Galli and Stu Bennett checked in from their desk and ran through the lineup. They said they would have a major announcement regarding the scheduled Tim Storm vs. Ken Anderson match in a moment…
1. Question Mark vs. Trevor Murdoch in an NWA TV Title tournament match. The NWA TV Title was on a podium at ringside. The broadcast team noted that the tournament matches had a 6:05 time limit. They also spoke about having three judges for ties.
Question Mark was in offensive control early. Murdoch came back with a bulldog from the top rope. Question Mark shot right up, but Murdoch hit the move a second time and scored the pin. Murdoch will face the winner of Zicky Dice vs. Dan Maff in the semifinals…
Trevor Murdoch defeated Question Mark to advance to the semifinals of the NWA TV Title tournament.
Powell’s POV: The broadcast cast team noted that Murdoch ended Question Mark’s winning streak. I’m not sure if they got much out of the winning stream concluding, but it’s not like it was a major storyline. The match was fine with the live crowd liking both men. The audio mix seems slightly off with the broadcast team a little more quiet in the mix than usual. Plus, I have poor hearing, so I didn’t catch everything about the judges and whether they are in play for each tournament match or if they come into play for potential draws later in the tournament.
2. Zicky Dice vs. Dan Maff in an NWA TV Title tournament match. Maff was introduced as being from ROH. Galli noted that he held the ROH Tag Titles twice and appeared on the first ever ROH event. Bennett noted that Dice is a powerhouse in his own right and told viewers not to let his theatrics fool them.
Maff performed a wicked suplex. Dice kicked him and then went to the ropes and leapt off into a Maff spear. Maff followed up with a cannonball in the corner and a running senton before scoring the pin. Maff will face Murdoch in the second round.
Dan Maff beat Zicky Dice to advance to the semifinals of the NWA TV Title tournament.
Powell’s POV: You had to assume that they didn’t bring in an ROH wrestler to lose in the first round of the tournament. Maff looked impressive in plowing through Dice. I’m looking forward to the Murdoch vs. Maff matchup.
3. Ricky Starks vs. Matt Cross in an NWA TV Title tournament match. Galli referred to Cross as a journeyman and said that Starks wants to be a true people’s champion. Starks went for his Buster Keaton finisher early, but Cross avoided it and came back with a couple of clotheslines. Cross performed a handspring back elbow and a cross body block for a near fall.
Cross performed a nice standing double stomp for another near fall. Cross followed up with a cutter and then went to the top rope and went for a shooting star press. Starks moved, but Cross landed on his feet. Starks avoided a running knee and then hit his finisher for the win. Starks will face the winner of the Tim Storm vs. Ken Anderson match in the semifinals…
Ricky Starks defeated Matt Cross to advance to the semifinals of the NWA TV Title tournament.
Powell’s POV: It’s nice to see Cross, who appeared on WWE Tough Enough and more recently worked as Son of Havoc in Lucha Underground. Cross was given a lot of offense before he put over Starks in the end.
The broadcast team spoke at their desk briefly and then sent things over to Dave Marquez at the interview desk. Marquez introduced Tim Storm. He wore a “Momma Storm” t-shirt, which led to loud “Momma Storm” chants. Marquez said they heard the rumors about Anderson, and he knows Storm wasn’t pleased about moving on in a bye. Storm referred to the fans as family and thanked them.
Storm said he heard a rumor that Anderson would not appear. Storm said he was looking forward to their match. He said his mom didn’t raise him to take the easy way, but it is what it is. Storm said that he’d take the W and move to the next round. Storm said his goal was to make Momma Storm proud by becoming the NWA TV Champion. Marquez wished him luck…
Galli announced that Ken Anderson was not medically cleared to compete in the tournament. Galli said Bennett had some news for the fans…
Bennett stood up and grabbed a house mic while standing next to something covered by a black vail. “I’m afraid I’ve got some breaking news,” Bennett said. He said that could become a catchphrase. Bennett thanked GPB Studios for being great hosts for their first two pay-per-views. Bennett said the next pay-per-view will take place in April and will be held “somewhere bigger.” Bennett unveiled the Crockett Cup and said the pay-per-view would be the 2020 Crockett Cup…
Powell’s POV: It will be interesting to see where they run the Crockett Cup, how much bigger the venue is, and whether the NWA can sell enough tickets to make the move worthwhile. Meanwhile, I’m surprised they didn’t find another opponent for Storm rather than simply giving him a bye.
4. “The Rock & Roll Express” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson vs. James Storm and Eli Drake vs. “The Wild Cards” Thom Latimer and Royce Isaacs (w/Kamille) in a Triple Threat for the NWA Tag Titles. Mae Valentine came to ringside with Isaacs, but she went to the back and Kamille remained in the Wild Cards’ corner. Marquez delivered in-ring introductions for the title match.
One member of each team was allowed in the ring. Storm made a hot tag to Drake at one point, but the referee was distracted and didn’t allow the tag because he didn’t see it. Storm caught Isaacs with a Codebreaker and made a tag to Drake, who worked over Latimer while Gibson sold in the corner. Morton checked in and hit his Canadian Destroyer on Latimer. Kamille tried to enter the ring, but Gibson stopped her. Morton set up for another Canadian Destroyer on Drake, but Isaacs grabbed his leg. Drake hit his Gravy Train finisher on Morton and pinned him.
James Storm and Eli Drake defeated The Rock & Roll Express and The Wilds Cards in a Triple Threat to win the NWA Tag Titles.
After the match, Morton and Gibson congratulated Storm and Drake, then hugged htem and raised their arms. Morton led the crowd in an “NWA” chant…
Powell’s POV: I had some buffering issues and missed the first part of the match, but what I saw was entertaining. Morton and Gibson winning the tag titles was the feel good moment in season one, and they retained the titles through season two (Tuesday’s show was the finale). It was a nice story, but I like that the NWA is moving forward with modern stars holding the tag titles. Morton and Gibson will be just fine without the tag straps.
Storm and Drake went to the interview desk where Marquez held the microphone. Drake spoke about going for gold. Storm spoke briefly before Drake cut him off and wondered if they should be called Beer Muscles, Bottoms Up, or Drinking Buddies. Drake said the only thing that mattered for now is that they can be called champs…
Footage aired of Melina forcing Allysin Kay to beat Marti Belle in a No DQ match on Tuesday’s NWA Powerrr…
5. Allysin Kay vs. Thunder Rosa for the NWA Women’s Championship. Rosa had her full face painted rather than just the usual one half look. Marquez delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. The bell rang and the women raced together and traded punches until Kay performed a takedown. Kay put the boots to Rosa in the corner, then performed a nice suplex into a bridge for an early two count.
Rosa came back and targeted the left arm of Kay and applied a crossface. Kay rolled out of the hold and threw punches at Rosa before rolling her into a guillotine. Rosa reached the ropes to break the hold. Bennett said that would have been the end of the match if Kay had applied the hold in the center of the ring. Rosa went back to work on Kay’s arm by wrenching it over the middle rope while falling to the floor.
Rosa returned to the ring and applied a submission hold on the arm while wrenching the fingers of Kay. A short time later, Kay fired kicks to the leg of Rosa, who took her down and reapplied the submission hold on the bad arm, then gave it up and slammed the arm onto the mat. Kay rallied briefly, but Rosa caught her with a German suplex and got a two count.
Rosa went up top, but Kay rolled to ringside. Rosa went for a somersault dive off the ropes, but Kay caught her and slammed her onto the edge of the ring. Kay brought Rosa back into the ring and covered her for a two count. There were dueling chants for Kay and Rosa. Rosa rolled Kay into a pin for a two count, then blasted her with a knee or a kick to the head. Rosa went up top and leapt at Kay, who was apparently supposed to catch her, but couldn’t quite pull it off. Kay set up for a move, but Rosa performed a Canadian Destroyer for a good near fall.
Rosa caught Kay in an octopus hold in the middle of the ring. Kay powered out and performed a tombstone piledriver for a good near fall. A “this is awesome” chant broke out with others chanting “fight forever.” Kay placed Rosa on the ropes and went up for a superplex, but Rosa shoved her away and hit a nice missile dropkick.
Kay came back and hit her AK47 finisher and still only got a near fall. Kay showed frustration. Kay and Rosa traded strikes on their knees and as they got to their feet. Rosa caught Kay in a guillotine, but Kay powered up and drove Rosa into a corner of the ring. Rosa stood on the ropes and took punches and a chop from Kay, who set up for a superplex, only to have Rosa counter into a Canadian Destroyer that led to a two count.
Kay threw a kick to the head of Rosa and charged toward her in the corner, but Rosa moved and reapplied her arm submission hold again. Kay powered up with Rosa on her back, but Rosa slipped away, threw a knee to the head, and performed her driver finisher and scored the pin…
Thunder Rosa defeated Allysin Kay in 18:05 to win the NWA Women’s Championship.
Rosa celebrated in the ring. Melina and Marti Belle came out. Marti hugged Rosa, then Melina did the same. Melina and Belle held up Rosa’s arms and applauded her before the trio left the ring and headed to the back…
Powell’s POV: That was a hell of a match. There were a couple of clunky spots, but they both worked their asses off and I’m not sure if anything will top this for match of the night. Rosa winning the championship is an interesting move given that she’s been playing second fiddle in the Melina faction. All seemed fine between them afterward, but I wonder how long that will last given that the Melina character seems to be totally out for herself.
Footage aired of Nick Aldis showing up at ROH events and attacking Flip Gordon…
Joe Galli stood on the interview set and introduced Marty Scurll, who came out dressed in non-wrestling attire. Galli asked Scurll why it was so important for him to be there to support Flip Gordon. Scurll said he was at Hard Times for the same reason he was at Into The Fire, he wants a shot at the NWA Championship. Scurll said Aldis already beat him and wondered what he was afraid of. Scurll also called for Aldis to put the title on the line in his match against Gordon.
Nick Aldis made his entrance and spoke about how Scurll doesn’t have the same stroke in the NWA that he has in ROH. Aldis said he would put the NWA Title on the line against Gordon, but if Aldis wins, then all of his dealings with Scurll in the NWA or in ROH will fall on his terms. Aldis said it starts tonight and if he’s going to put the title on the line then Scurll had to leave the building.
Galli asked Scurll if he would do it. Two security guards came out. Scurll said Aldis had a deal. Scurll left the interview set and waved to the fans while security followed him to the back. Aldis said that’s why he’s the real world champion and the national treasure, then he also headed to the back…
Powell’s POV: A good segment, though I’m not sure why they didn’t set up the title match in advance so they could advertise it rather than listing it as a non-title match. Nevertheless, they are doing a nice job of building to the eventual Aldis vs. Scurll showdown match. I’m curious to see if that match takes place at the Crockett Cup event or on an ROH event.
6. Dan Maff vs. Trevor Murdoch in an NWA TV Title tournament semifinal match. The big men traded blows to start the match. Maff sold it by acting woozy, then came right back with a big spear. In the end, Murdoch performed his top rope bulldog on Maff and scored the pin. Murdoch’s chest was a mess after taking the early blows from Maff…
Trevor Murdoch defeated Dan Maff to advance to the finals of the NWA TV Title tournament.
Powell’s POV: A good hoss fight style match, though this is the first time in the tournament that I wish the wrestlers had more time to work with.
7. Tim Storm vs. Ricky Starks in an NWA TV Title tournament semifinal match. Galli tried to play up Storm being fresh since he had a first round bye, but he also said Starks appeared fresh as well during his entrance. Storm performed a spinebuster. Storm followed up a short time later with a sidewinder backbreaker for a near fall. Starks came back briefly, but Storm caught him sidewalk slam, but he opted against going for the pin.
Storm went for a suplex, but Starks avoided it and rolled him up for a two count and picked up another near fall moments later. Storm went for a clothesline, but Stars rolled him into a crucifix pin for the three count. Storm shook the hand of Starks afterward. Starks then rushed over and hugged Storm before he left the ring…
Ricky Starks defeated Tim Storm to advance to the finals of the NWA TV Title tournament.
Powell’s POV: Meh. There were some clunkiness during the match. It was also hard to buy into the idea of Storm being fresh as a storyline when the tournament matches are so brief. I’m sure Storm will cut a hell of a promo putting over Starks, but I didn’t feel like this was good use of the popular Storm in the moment. I’m surprised to see a babyface vs. babyface finals with Starks vs. Murdoch.
Footage aired of Aron Stevens and Question Mark performing their karate demonstration on Tuesday’s NWA Powerrr, which led to Ricky Starks attacking Stevens…
8. Aron Stevens (w/Question Mark) vs. Scott Steiner for the NWA National Championship. Question Mark came out wearing a yellow jumpsuit with a black line on the arms and legs. Stevens wore his karate gi. Fans chanted “Steiner’s gonna kill you.” Steiner was dominant early. Stevens went to ringside and Steiner followed and continued the assault.
Back inside the ring, Stevens came back with an eye rake. Steiner responded with a belly to belly suplex. Stevens came back and nearly got a pin while using the ropes for leverage. Steiner caught Stevens leaping from the ropes and put him down with a Flatliner. Steiner applied the Steiner Recliner, but Questin Mark attacked him from behind for the DQ.
Scott Steiner beat Aron Stevens by DQ in 6:30 in an NWA National Championship match.
Steiner quickly regrouped and put Question Mark in his submission finisher. Once Steiner released the hold, he tossed the referee to ringside and then played to the crowd. Steiner grabbed the title belt and placed it on Stevens before heading to the back…
Powell’s POV: I’m fine with the DQ finish because the build to the match was nonexistent. Let’s face it, the build to Stevens vs. Steiner is likely to be more fun than the actual match at this point in Steiner’s career. So this gives them a chance to step back and deliver the proper build to the rematch. I am surprised that they are closing the show with the tournament finals rather than the Aldis vs. Gordon match.
9. Nick Aldis vs. Flip Gordon for the NWA Championship. Aldis came to the ring without Kamille and the other members of Strictly Business. Dave Marquez delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Referee Bran Hebner held up the title belt before calling for the bell to start the match. The wrestlers fought to ringside and Gordon tried to suplex Gordon onto the broadcast team’s desk, but he blocked it and they returned to the ring shortly thereafter.
Gordon went for his stunner from the ropes, but Aldis stuffed it and pushed him aside before going to ringside. Gordon set up for a dive, but the referee didn’t allow it, which led to loud boos. While the ref was looking at Aldis, Gordon performed a flip dive over the top top of the ref and onto Aldis at ringside.
Back in the ring, Gordon applied a cross arm breaker. Aldis powered him up and slammed him back down. Aldis went on the offensive. Aldis applied a figure four. Gordon rolled it over, so Aldis grabbed the ropes to break the hold. Gordon rallied and hit a moonsault for a two count. Later, Gordon hit his Star Spangled Stunner twice for a good near fall. Gordon ended up on the shoulders of Aldis and tried to roll him up, but Aldis sat down and scored the clean pin…
Nick Aldis defeated Flip Gordon in 15:20 to retain the NWA Championship.
After the match, Royce Isaacs and Thom Latimer came to the ring and celebrated with Aldis and helped him to the back…
Powell’s POV: A well worked match that was hurt a bit because there was no reason to think there would be a title change. Gordon continues to feel like the low man on the totem pole in the Villain Enterprises faction. To this day, I have no clue why ROH opted to put one of their most likable and marketable young stars in such a bland role, but I guess that’s ROH’s problem.
The broadcast team spoke at their desk about the NWA Title match and then the updated NWA TV Title bracket was shown…
10. Trevor Murdoch vs. Ricky Starks in the tournament finals for the NWA TV Title. Both men were cheered by the fans. Marquez delivered in-ring introductions for the title match and said the match was one fall with no time limit and there had to be a winner.
Murdoch had Starks down in the a corner of the ring and slapped at him. Starks fired up and ran the ropes, but Murdoch dumped him over the top rope to the floor. Back inside the ring, Murdoch suplexed Starks and covered him for a two count.
A short time later, Starks caught Murdoch on the ropes and showed impressive strength by walking with him a bit before powerbombing him. Starks speared Murdoch and got another two count. Starks hit his finisher and scored the clean pin…
Ricky Starks defeated Trevor Murdoch in 9:20 to win the NWA TV Title tournament.
Galli closed the show by telling viewers they would be back on Tuesday with NWA Powerrr…
Powell’s POV: A good match to close the tournament and the show. The Starks win is surprising if only because it looked like they were setting him up for a feud with Aron Stevens for the NWA National Championship based on the karate demonstration angle. I don’t know if that was meant to be a red herring or if they simply changed directions. Either way, Starks has stood out as a bright young star for the promotion, so it was cool to see him win his first NWA title.
Overall, a solid show, though not as fun as Into The Fire or most of the weekly Powerrr episodes. The NWA focused more on the in-ring product this time around. And while there were some solid to even very good matches, I enjoy the mix of brief matches and promos that we typically get from the NWA. There’s a place for longer matches in the NWA, but they had a lot of matches to work in this time around due to the tournament and I suspect that may have caused things to be less balanced. In fairness, those who prefer mostly in-ring action are sure to have enjoyed this approach more than I did.
I will have more to say about NWA Hard Times in my post show audio review for Dot Net Members coming up shortly. Let me know what you thought of the show by assigning it a letter grade in our post show poll available on the main page.
Join me for live coverage of WWE World Collide on Saturday, and for the WWE Royal Rumble on Sunday.
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