It’s an incredible time for fans of professional wrestling as there are more options now than there has ever been in terms of wrestling programming. There’s WWE with their new FOX deal in full effect, AEW on TNT, New Japan Pro Wrestling, the continued resurgence of Impact Wrestling, and more. In the eyes of many, AEW is the program for “change” for those that are tired of WWE’s product, and in terms of being legitimate competition to Vince McMahon’s empire, AEW is indeed the best of the lot. However, if you’re truly after something unconventional and unique in 2019, AEW Dynamite, SmackDown on FOX is not the answer, NWA Power is.
With all the talk surrounding WWE’s switch to FOX and AEW’s debut episode of Dynamite, NWA debuted their weekly show airing on YouTube, Power. In a week, it has garnered almost half a million views. Received an abundance of praise, including a shout out from the one and only, Rock. They’ve struck a chord with the audience and for multiple reasons, but primarily because they are presenting pro wrestling in a way that no other company in 2019 is.
The immediate thing that sticks out in NWA’s presentation is the fact they’ve returned to Atlanta, GA in a small TV studio, and built a set that resembles the same venue where ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair cut countless legendary promos. In an era where WWE and AEW pack big arenas weekly, and other companies try to punch above their weight and look bigger than they are, NWA is embracing their small, intimate fanbase. When wrestlers like Nick Aldis and Eli Drake spoke and looked to the crowd, the people watching were inches away from the performers, and they felt like a major part of the show. Add in the retro, eighties graphics displaying the title ‘NWA Power’ and the “Into the fire” intro song, it was an old school presentation that felt brand new.
In addition to the nostalgic presentation, there was a reoccurring theme of NWA being the place for “men.” It felt like they were drawing a verbal line in the sand, and challenging other promotions, and at the same time, setting themselves apart from the rest. A big part of this theme had to do with NWA attempting to be a no-nonsense wrestling show, and ridding themselves of goofy antics like you’d find in other companies, much like the company was in the eighties compared to the then over the top World Wrestling Federation. In WWE and AEW, you see acts like the 24/7 title and Orange Cassidy, and in other promotions, there’s a talent like Joey Ryan. Those acts felt like child’s play when you tuned into NWA Power. This show was grounded in realism, it was gritty, and hell, I challenge fans to try and find the insanely overused suicide dive manoeuvre in episode one of Power, because a superplex and an accidental clothesline from Aldis on Camille popped the crowd more than any spectacular aerial move could have.
Most importantly, though, the show did not over-saturate wrestling fans with a plethora of angles and high profile matches. They did what Nick Aldis told SteelChair in an interview back in July, they take one match and tell that “story so completely and so well.” While other talent did get chances to shine, make no mistake about it, the fifty-eight minutes was all about the main event pitting the old-guard Tim Storm versus the young, confident champion Nick Aldis. That story kicked off the show when Nick Aldis gave us a promo worth “ten pounds of gold.” Then video packages gave us their back-story, and then right before Tim Storm’s final shot at the NWA title, he cut a passionate promo about how much the gold means to him. It was a perfect story arc with a beginning, middle, and a conclusive end. As well as grabbing us emotionally, they also made the world title feel like the prestige’s belt that Ric Flair once held. It felt like a prize one must-have, which few companies do today.
Now, this approach may not be one that takes the company to the heights of WWE and AEW, as they are catering to a smaller portion of wrestling fans. People that either lived through the National Wrestling Alliance’s heyday in the eighties, or ones that share philosophies held by Power’s legendary personality Jim Cornette, will lap up this old is new approach by Nick Aldis and co, but that’s likely it. Going by the reactions to various comedic acts and high flying matches featuring The Young Bucks, there is a large portion of wrestling fans clamouring for the variety that AEW is so expertly providing right now.
They’ll also lack the extra eyeballs other companies, including Impact Wrestling, have attained over the years by incorporating celebrities and stars from other industries, a tactic they are likely not thinking about, and cannot afford. However, it’s clear Billy Corgan has a direction in mind for NWA, and capturing the masses is not in his plans. The company has an audience they are targeting, and are determined to present pro wrasslin’, not entertainment or “sports entertainment.”
So with all the talk of “change” and “alternative” surrounding AEW, the real change in professional wrestling came from a small throwback studio show that goes by the adage of less is more, and simple and effective wrestling that you can believe and invest in.
A new episode of NWA Power can be found on YouTube every Tuesday.