So assuming I have readers (a reader?), some of you may notice that my review of Wrestling On Fire wasn’t posted earlier this week. This wasn’t because I got too hopped on the joy juice this Memorial Day Weekend (though I did!) but because Wrestling On Fire was preempted…by an infomercial. This is not the first time this is happened. Wrestling On Fire is more or less glorified paid programming and they pay for their slot on the local MyNetworkTV affiliate and I guess the producers of the Ab Roller infomercial really wanted that 10:30 A.M. Saturday Morning time slot this week.
“No worries!” I thought. Wrestling On Fire hypes the fact that they have all of their episodes on their website. Except the last episode posted on the website was the one that featured a Tito Santana-Tony Atlas match from a month or so back and like I’m going to watch that again. So after scrolling through their video archives, I thought I’d do something a little bit different and present a review of a “classic” episode of NWA On Fire that I found on YouTube from roughly three years ago today! So let’s go in the not very wayback machine to the Spring of ’10. Dave Batista was leaving WWE for what would surely be a staggeringly successful career in mixed martial arts. A young songstress named Ke$ha was enchanting the nation and The Jay Leno Show gracefully bowed off of television! Let’s see what was going down in NWA On Fire, the weekend before Memorial Day Weekend in 2010.
NWA On Fire
May 23rd, 2010 (Taped April 12th, 2010)
Taped From Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, Maine
(Wrestling Data.com actually had the results for this show which is mildly surprising only because neither of the NWA On Fire shows they ran at the Stevens Avenue Armory in Portland around this same time are on here. In fact, the one NWA On Fire show I went to might have been on this exact weekend!)
Tommy Savoldi narrates “highlights” that preview tonight’s show. We’ll see a 13 man battle royal to determine the #1 Contender for the NWA On Fire title, “Juicy” Justin Corino taking on one half of The Latin Hit Squad, Nico and in our main event, NWA On Fire Champion “Golden Boy” Bobby Robinson defends his title against the winner of aforementioned battle royal.
We open with a studio segment with Tommy Savoldi and his co-host Tommy Hunter, who I would consider a generic babyface talking head interviewer except for the fact that he always wore a doo-rag and looked like Vince McMahon during his ECW World title run. They’re hosting the show from Tommy’s basement in front of a bunch of shelves, jam packed with VHS. Tommy and Tommy talk about NWA On Fire doesn’t give out cash prizes for their battle royals but they do give out NWA On Fire title shots. We take a commercial break then come back with our first match.
13 Man, Over The Top Rope
Royal Rumble Battle Royal for a shot at the NWA On Fire Championship
As evidenced by the snarkiness, this isn’t a traditional battle royal but a battle royal with Royal Rumble rules that they can’t call a Rumble for legal purposes. Our first two entrants in the ring after the commercial break are Makua (#1) of the Samoan Warriors, who is still with NWA On Fire and Nico (#2) from The Latin Hit Squad, who were sort of a poor man’s Puerto Rican version of the Nasty Boys. The fans aren’t sure who to cheer because both guys are brown and this is rural Maine. Chris Steeler (#3), an NWA On Fire wrestler I completely forgot about enters next and him and Nico double team Makua. Steeler’s tag team partner Justin Corino sneaks in the ring (#4). #5 is NWA On Fire newcomer Chris Mathews. He’s one of the longest stalwarts of the Maine indy scene (usually goes by Cameron Mathews though), having wrestled on shows here since I started following local shows in the early ’00s. The other Samoan Warrior Fala is #6. The Warriors duke it out with Steeler and Corino. The other member of the Latin Hit Squad, Chico is #7 and immediately goes after Nico. I guess they had a Latin Hit Squad EXPLODES angle that I completely forgot. We take a commercial break.
The Warriors squash Steeler. A generic masked rookie they call The Patriot enters in at #8. It’s not Del Wilkes or even a guy in a Del Wilkes Patriot costume but some green horn wearing a generic stars and stripes mask, long sleeve Underall, and wind pants. He gets his ass kicked by Makua. “The Pride of Augusta, Maine” Chef Baker comes in at #9. Tommy Savoldi hopes he brought some cupcakes with him. Even the announcers seem to be burying how crowded the ring is getting. Crazy Chainsaw is #10 and attacks Makua. Everybody but Makua gangs up on Fala and tries to eliminate him. Makua makes the save. Some pudgy thirtysomething dude I don’t remember named Black Thunder is #11 and gives the announcers an excuse to make “This Thunder is rumbling” comments. Roadblock comes in at #12. Unfortunately, I’m 99% sure this is not the former WCW jobber but another pudgy thirtysomething guy with a goatee who floundered in the NWA On Fire mid-card during this era. He immediately gets his ass kicked. Our 13th and last entrant is a Malaki, a goof who did a supernatural heel gimmick during this era. The Tommys put over how “crazy” he is as he slowly chokes Roadblock. This match, if you can’t tell is WAY too cluttered and it’s clear NWA On Fire had no idea they wanted to put over here and they end up putting over nobody. And for some reason, we cut to the final two and it’s Chris Matthews and Chico. Mathews clotheslines Chico out of the ring and almost eliminates himself but hangs on and wins the battle royal. Savoldi is flabbergasted and says he had Mathews at 400 to 1 odds. Winner: Chris Mathews, after eliminating Chico. This match basically had everything I hate about indy Royal Rumbles. Guys wandering in with no rhyme or reason and random intervals. No cohesion to the booking, just aimless brawling. Pieces of shit like this make me appreciate even the worst WWE Rumbles. Also featured NWA On Fire’s senseless editing. I mean, this encapsulate why I started blogging about how terrible this promotion is. D
Tommy and Tommy talk about Matthews’ upset win in the NWA On Fire video library and discuss his chances against Champion “Golden Boy” Bobby Robinson. The Tommys throw it to ringside for a battle between “Juicy” Justin Corino and Chico.
Justin Corino Vs Nico
An even fatter “Conn Man” Bob Conn is the ring announcer for this. This Conn Man must have picked up all of the weight the other Conn Man lost. Corino I think is the heel here. I vaguely remember The Latin Hit Squad (and them being mildly entertaining brawlers) but didn’t remember they feuded. This was one of the periods where I wasn’t following NWA On Fire so close. Tommy Savoldi points out the irony of a former NWA On Fire Tag Team Champion Chico taking on one half of the current tag team champions The Dream Team, “Juicy” Justin Corino. That’s not ironic at all, Tommy! Hunter points out that “Juicy” Justin has the advantage because he has more experience as a singles wrestler. Another impressive setup for the crowd. It’s a small gym with the crowd scattered all over, if they gathered all of them to sit on one half of it, it might not look bad but since this is NWA On Fire…they don’t! Nico tries to use his slight size advantage to take over but Corino quickly outspeeds him and clears him out of the ring. Corino hits an axhandle off the apron and the two brawl all over ringside. I see a merchandise table in the background that consists of a single NWA On Fire t-shirt and LOL.
Justin works the arm. Corino looks a lot more swoll. Corino works Nico’s arm. The announcers chide Corino for using a closed fist, which is a bit strange since Corino’s playing the babyface here. Nico capitalizes on Corino being a bonehead and works him over. Savoldi mildly chides the elderly referee “Frenchy” for wonky officiating as we head to commercial break. The commentary is weird as Nico is working as a heel but the announcers are putting him over as a likable guy. We get a double clothesline spot as if this match couldn’t get more boring. Corino launches the comeback. Savoldi ribs Frenchy by railing about terrible his reffing is. Frenchy admonishes Corino for using closed fists, leading to Frenchy getting in the way and no-selling some worked punches from Corino. Nico pulls out brass knuckles and nails Corino with them. Wow. Frenchy shakes his head and DQs Nico. I LOL at the stupidity of that finish. WTF is this shit. Once again, we had a match where NWA On Fire kind of wanted to put both guys over and as a result, nobody was put over. Also, Frenchy was horrible in the finish. It’s almost like they were sort of building up a heel ref character but I think ultimately, Frenchy’s character was that he was an incompetent old hick that was the only guy The Savoldis could afford to hire as the ref. Winner: Justin Corino via DQ after Nico whacks him with brass knuckles. 80% of this match was sloppy, basic Wrestling School 101 stuff. A modest improvement over the opener but holy crap, that finish blew. D After the match, Nico stomps Corino and sulks to the back. Corino stumbles to the locker room.
The Two Tommys put over how great NWA On Fire officiating is. WHAT!? They spent 99% of the last match (justifiably) mildly burying it. Granted, kayfabe wise, Frenchy made the right call but it was a blatantly obvious call. It’s like complimenting a Major League outfielder for catching a routine pop up.
I completely forgot NWA On Fire’s bumpers for most of its run ripped off the later day graphics of WCW Saturday Night. Next we head to NWA On Fire’s interview segment, Tommy’s Corner where old Tommy (Savoldi) interviews “The Conn Man” Bob Conn and welcomes him to NWA On Fire. Bob Conn dryly explains his broadcast experience and says it was destiny for him to join NWA On Fire. Tommy Savoldi puts this over as if JR decided to join the NWA On Fire announce team.
The Two Tommys put over our main event and the shock value of a newcomer like Chris Mathews earning an NWA On Fire title shot in one of his first matches over experienced NWA On Fire veterans but if you’ve seen some of the veterans in action, you wouldn’t be that surprised.
NWA On Fire Championship Match: “Golden Boy” Bobby Robinson (c) Vs Chris Mathews
Matthews is a fairly decent worker who has never really broken out of the Maine indies. I saw him carry a sixty something Bushwhacker Luke to a reasonably entertaining match at a big indie show last year. Surely, there’s a place for him somewhere. Robinson is probably NWA On Fire’s biggest homegrown talent as he would go onto to become Luke, the runner up on the last season of WWE Tough Enough. Former NWA TNA Star Apollo and current ROH TV Champion Matt Taven are probably slightly bigger names that were, at one point, prominently involved in NWA On Fire but were established elsewhere. Robinson was the center of NWA On Fire TV for like a solid two years. He’s also my Facebook friend and a fan of my stand up comedy act but don’t hold that against him.
Mathews and Robinson trade holds. Mathews might have the shortest tights I’ve ever seen on a wrestler. Everybody makes fun of me when I point something like that out but they’re seriously, seriously short. Might be why he’s never made it big. Robinson works a headlock. The announcers put this over as Mathews’ “only shot at the title”. I love it when Tommy Savoldi freaks out over “First Week of Wrestling School” chain wrestling like he is here. Mathews uses his speed to take an early advantage but that backfires as Robinson dodges a Mathews charge and sends Mathews flying out of the ring. Robinson does some heel mugging to the jeers of the crowd at Medomak Valley Gymanisum. We get a long heat segment on Mathews. Not much of note happens except for I get a laugh out of some of Robinson’s heel antics.
Mathews gets some hope spots with backslides and schoolboys. Both guys do a knocked out spot. Robinson grabs an abdominal stretch but Mathews breaks out of it. This match definitely is repetitive. It’s Robinson has heat segment on Mathews, Mathews reverses a move, gets hope spot, runs into Robinson’ offensive maneuver, wash, rinse, repeat. It’s an extended squash worked at the pace of a current WWE main event. Robinson nails Mathews with a sick DDT and goes for some Sweet Chin Music but gets a dose of his own medicine when Mathews hits him with a SCM. Mathews takes over on offense for an extended period for the first time in the match. Mathews hits a piledriver that gets a two and gets pissed it didn’t finish it and YANKS OFF HIS WRIST TAPE! THE HUMANITY! Mathews goes for a springboard moonsault off the ropes and Robinson grazes him with a superkick and gets the three count. Winner: Bobby Robinson after superkick. I really wanted to like this match more than I did. Robinson’s heel antics were entertaining. He was pretty green at this point but didn’t do anything too crazy or that he wasn’t able to do. But Mathews was sloppy as hell at times and this match really felt like a 5-6 minute match that was stretched to 15. I liked the story that it told of the arrogant heel’s overconfidence nearly costing him a match against a plucky, upstart unknown rookie but it could have been told in half the time that it was. C+
After the match, Robinson is exhausted and sits at an empty ringside chair and the guy next to him offers the NWA On Fire Champ a peanut. I laugh.
And that’s pretty much it for this week’s look back at this week in NWA On Fire in 2010. In some ways, this promotion has come a long way in the past three years. Production wise, the show has modestly improved, especially since incorporating footage from other Northeast promotions. Workrate wise, I think they’ve improved marginally. I think the talent level of the best wrestlers in 2013 Wrestling On Fire is slightly better than the talent level of the best wrestlers in 2010 NWA On Fire but the real improvement is seen in the undercard. Not that the current mid-carders are great but wow, the undercard in 2010 NWA On Fire is one of the sorriest lots of wrestlers I’ve seen.
Still I think there’s a lot of charm to these shows. Wrestling On Fire’s current shows is just mediocre, run of the mill indy wrestling while NWA On Fire ’09-’11 had certain so bad, it’s good quality. By improving its workrate somewhat, it’s lost some of the low rent charm of the earlier shows. There will always be something to make fun of on these shows but in its search of respectability, I think Wrestling On Fire’s lost some of the sense of the cartoonish fun that made me like the show in the first place.
Next Week: Let’s hope Wrestling On Fire doesn’t get preempted by Melrose Place’s Jack Wagner telling us all about Time Life’s Easy ’80s Box Set!