The other evening, one of my buddy’s had asked what happened to so and so in wrestling…Which this same scholar followed up with the comment ‘Didn’t Tully Blanchard have a ‘jew fro’?”…So, just to paint the picture for you, I am not dealing with Rhodes Scholars, nor sitting in on a NASA debriefing.
The conversation escalated, because for some reason, talking about wrestling from days gone by was more interesting than the Celtics game. Well, that and the fact we had just went out to celebrate one of our buddy’s 34th birthday, so drinks were had. Adult ones kiddos.
Eventually, the comment was made that went something to the effect of ‘They should bring back the NWA’. I said the only logical thing that I knew to say to that, which was “huh?”. Just so you know, it is a widely known fact amongst people who know me, that I am a HUGE fan of wrestling. Whenever these conversations arise, I am thrust into the role of all-knowing trash heap, and I have to admit I am pretty good at it. So, I had to jump on this one. And after explaining that, yes Virginia, there is an NWA and it has nothing to do with Dr. Dre, I started to realize what the issue was. When WCW committed corporate suicide, it didn’t just kill the WCW, it killed the NWA. And to the public, WCW never stopped being the NWA, and now, Vince McMahon owns the rights. To those same people, TNA is just a rasslin’ show that is named after ‘tits and ass’. They have no idea that it started off mooching the NWA name. They don’t realize that WCW never stopped being Jim Crockett Promotions, it NEVER was the NWA.
So that is where the casual fan sits in 2010. Jim Crockett Promotions, and it is easy to see why one would think this, was the NWA. And Vince McMahon owns wrestling. Oh, and MMA is nothing like pro wrestling. So, the casual fan and general public are, in a word, wrong. And it is sad.
Now, how does the NWA reach those folks? How does the NWA let these ‘casual’ fans know that they never went away, just downsized(almost into non-existence, Mike Rapada???). How does the NWA replace the fals notion that Jim Crockett, and in turn WTBS, owned the NWA?
That is a question that many have tried to answer. Bill Behrens tried. Dennis Coraluzzo devoted most of his life to the NWA, or maybe to RUNNING the NWA. Jim Cornette has done everything he can to bring attention to the NWA’s importance. And yet, those men along with countless others have fallen short. They by no means failed, but they fell short of their mark.
Then, it became trendy to joing the NWA about 10 or so years ago. Every small town hack who could barely run a backyard wrestling show and their brother were joining the NWA. There was no uniformity. There were no traveling champions. No Media presence. Nothing. The NWA was whoring it’s name out to anybody who paid the fee and could have the NWA name on their shows that they ran from bars and old folks homes. It was not a very fitting existence for the NWA that I knew.
But what NWA did I know? I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. I knew JCP. So was I in the same boat as those who were mistaken? is that the NWA that I was holding the current NWA accountable to? And the short answer to that is, yes.
Forget the territories, damn the old hotbeds in the Olympic Auditorium in LA, to hell with St. Louis. Forget the Owens in Portland and who cares about Places like Amarillo, The Homer Hesterly Armory, The Chase. All anybody remembers is Greensboro, The Omni, and Baltimore. That’s what the NWA was supposed to be.
That couldn’t be more wrong. Now, I am also old enough to remember the last days of the territories. I knew Georgia Championship Wrestling, I knew the Crockett’s, I knew Florida for more than a gimmick for Rick Steiner to carry it’s title. I knew Memphis, Watts, the AWA, Knoxville, World Class, etc., but it is still hard to get the picture of JCP being the NWA out of your head. Jim Crockett was doing what Vince McMahon would ultimately accomplish. So, if things would have played out differently would the Crockett’s be vilified like McMahon has been with wrestling purist?(which that term is the ultimate oxymoron)
So which would work better for the NWA? Different regions thriving like the 1970’s or a unified single all powerful company like the Crockett’s assembled through buy-outs? You ask some people, and they recant back to their youth and go the single entity direction. If you ask others, like Pro Wrestling Fusion, NWA Anarchy, and the folks in Australia, and you are going to have a differing in opinion.
Some have even said that Dave Marquez is the new Jim Crockett. He is going to attempt to do what JCP did with the NWA. He is going to overtake the different areas and supplant them with his NWA Pro. They point to his affiliations with PWF and others as prime examples. But, let’s face it, Marquez’ shows are not the tri-county fair and middle school gym shows that the other promoters have put on. Marquez has made the effort to book bigger name stars and bigger venues. He has attempted to give the NWANWA, and what it should be. Regardless of if you approve of the lucha libre influence on alot of the NWA product that gets press. Dave Marquez is good for the NWA. He has done more with the NWA brand and it’s identity in the wrestling industry than TNA ever did.
So, to try and prove to my intoxicated brain trust that I was surrounded by, I gave them a brief synopsis of where the NWA stood as of now, and then I sold them on the importance of their show in the Los Angeles market, to which they could see the logic, becasue you might know one of them was a Kobe fan, so they are cool with anything LA. But then I gave them a taste of the NWA Hollywood show, and to my pleasure, they dug. After a small taste of the show, I stopped the player and asked what they thought. And hands down, all said that it was some of the best tv rasslin’ they had seen in years. Alot better than the WWF.(yep, they still call it that)
“That Pearce guy is pretty good.” one would say. ” I could watch this stuff more. I like the champ.”
So positive reviews all around from the group, and I was happy that they liked it. It’s got a chance of making it.
Of course, with every rave review that went around the room after the laptop viewing, there was always a minor set back. and it came in this form; “I’d like it better if Tony Schivonie was still the host.” Sigh.
Keep in mind though, this is the same crowd that asked about Tully’s ‘jew fro’.