One of the most frustrating and disappointing things in the world of wrestling since the Covid pandemic began was the way it detailed the momentum the NWA has been gaining since the launch of its flagship show Powerrr in October 2019. One of several promotions, including ROH and MLW, to temporarily suspend their programming in the face of the pandemic, the NWA found new ways to give the NWA family content with new daily videos and interviews but these were also derailed, this time by allegations against then-Vice President David Lagana, who subsequently resigned. The new daily broadcasts were shut down.
From there, there were hints and hopes that the company would be back on the air; their partnership with the United Wrestling Network for Prime Time Live; the release of four episodes of NWA Shockwave, which repackaged the matches from Prime Time Live that featured NWA talent, including some dark matches not previously seen. But still the company would not or could not commit to the return of regular programming.
The main issue at first appeared to be that the promotion did not want to go ahead with Powerrr when part of what made that show so special was the rabid participation of the small studio audience—running shows without this risked sacrificing some of the atmosphere of what made Powerrr so special. Now, of course, there could be several other issues, but the NWA is sensibly keeping their lips tight on what they might be.
But at last, there looks to be some light at the end of the tunnel. On the Keepin’ It 100 and The Angle podcasts, from December 2020 and February 2021 respectively, the NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis has given notice that NWA programming—whether Powerrr or otherwise—will return in 2021. When, we don’t know. But it’s enough to get me excited.
Assuming the NWA does return with Powerrr once again its flagship, and assuming the promotion has taken the time during the break to assess what worked and what didn’t, there are five main things I think the NWA should focus on to make the show the roaring success it deserves to be.
So, without further adieu, I present my five items of focus for NWA Powerrr. Let’s step once more—into the fire!
1. Rebuild and Replenish the Roster
One of the most perturbing things for an NWA fan in 2020 outside of the LaGana situation was the substantial amount of talent. In the space of 12 months, the company lost Ricky Starks, Allysin Kay, Eddie Kingston, James Storm, Zicky Dice, Marti Belle, Royce Isaacs and referee Brian Hebner. Some of these talents were champions and were big parts of the NWA’s stories and booking. To say that the loss of these talents was damaging for the NWA is an understatement.
A quick side note: I’m not one of those fans who begrudges wrestlers moving to other promotions. Sure, they might not always show up where we want them to, but we should be grateful that they show up at all. As much as I, as an NWA fan, was dismayed to see the talent leave in such a vast amount, I strongly believe it’s not for us as fans to begrudge wrestlers going where they think is the best place for them at the time, especially during a pandemic. Indeed, as an NWA fan, I’ve been proud to see the likes of Ricky Starks and Eddie Kingston thrive in new waters and make an even bigger success of themselves.
This does mean, however, that when Powerrr does return, the NWA are going to have to do a lot of work to replenish the roster so as not to impact the quality of the shows and have endless rematches.
If there’s a risk that in the pandemic era the NWA might not be as attractive proposition for talent as it was before, that’s ok; they don’t necessarily need big names to draw people in initially. Before Powerrr originally aired in October of 2019, I was not at all familiar with Ricky Starks, Eddie Kingston, Thunder Rosa and Zicky Dice, and I came to be big fans of each. NWA can do the same again with some well-judged, selective signings. The same now as then, there’s still a big independent market to shop around in. Present this talent in the best possible light and the fans will get on board.
2. Give Thunder Rosa Whatever She Wants to Stay
On the flip side, If there’s one star the NWA needs to keep and push as the feature attraction, it’s Thunder Rosa. No disrespect to Nick Aldis, but Thunder Rosa had a hell of a year in 2020. She, more than anyone else, kept the NWA name in people’s mouths during the pandemic by putting on a string of fantastic matches in several different promotions as part of her “La Mera Mera” tour whilst defending the NWA Women’s Championship.
She also has perhaps the largest profile of any current NWA wrestler to the mainstream fan, working as she has with AEW since last summer and putting a while new lot of eyes on both herself and the NWA. She has the wrestling ability, the star presence and the fan attention—who better to build the relaunch of your show around?
It’s believed that Thunder Rosa’s NWA contract will not expire until sometime this year, although when is not know to the public. When Rosa dropped the NWA title to Serena Deeb last October, there was much speculation that she was done with the NWA, as her other colleagues had been when they dropped their NWA titles around that period too. It was clear the NWA was rebuilding, so it was not unreasonable to wonder if Rosa was done with the company too. And yet, the amount of attention the matter received online, with speculations of both AEW and WWE interest, was confirmation of the size of her stock and worth in the business presently.
This is one performer NWA does not to let slip out of their fingers. It’s not to say Rosa wouldn’t resign, but make it as attractive as possible for her to do so: dates with other companies, increased money, promotion of her own company, Mission Pro Wrestling. Whatever she needs, give it to her. She really is the company’s biggest asset at present.
3. Build New Relationships with Other Promotions, and Strengthen Others
For a company possibly facing the prospect of relaunching with a reduced roster, and especially in the current era of cooperation between promotions, it would be wise for the NWA to bolster themselves by establishing working relationships where they can with other willing promotions.
That’s not to say they haven’t already been doing this. The NWA has long had strong ties with Championship Wrestling from Hollywood and the United Wrestling Network through David Marquez, all the way up to last year’s Prime Time Live series, and there’s no reason to expect this will change anytime soon. Furthermore, the NWA has worked with Ring of Honor twice; once to help build up the Cody/Aldis feud and to help bring about the return of the Crockett Cup; the second time to push for a big rematch between Nick Alfie and Marty Scurll (something that is very unlikely to take place now).
Will ROH still want to work with the NWA once Powerrr returns? It’s uncertain but not impossible. On the one hand, and putting aside any potential hard feelings there might be over Marty Scurll, ROH may just not be interested anymore. They’ve leaned back into a sporting presentation with the Pure Division and pre-match interviews since their own relaunch in September 2020. Will this still be a good fit with NWA’s more old-school, wild, studio approach?
Then again, think about the Ten Pounds of Gold, tradition-and-heritage side of the NWA. The new emphasis on the Pure Division in ROH might chime quite nicely with the side of the Alliance that celebrates the legacies of such serious grapplers and Champions as Lou Thez, Dory Funk Jr and Harley Race. Could we see The Foundation appear in Atlanta demanding that Billy Corgan restores honour to the NWA or they’ll do it for him? That’s a story I could really get behind.
Then there’s the AEW situation. The current NWA Women’s Champion, Serena Deeb, is a contracted wrestler with the Jacksonville-based company. She is not, as I understand it, under any long-term contract with the NWA, a strange scenario for a contemporary champion. Not only that, the former champion, Thunder Rosa, has also been spending her time at Daly’s Place and is now involved in a feud with one of the biggest names in AEW’s women’s division. Why should it end there if it works for both parties? Why not have Nick Aldis or Eli Drake turn up on Dynamite and get in the face of Cody or PAC or Eddie Kingston, or even Chris Jericho? Send FTR or MJF or Brian Pillman Jr and other NWA-compatible wrestlers over to Atlanta to flesh out the roster on a short-term basis and create some fresh, exciting matches to boot. There’s enormous potential here, and that’s before we even add that AEW could bring Impact into the mix too.
4. Strike a Finer Balance Between Wrestling and Comedy
One of the things that seemed to divide audiences during Powerrr’s original run were the moments of comedy throughout. Comedy in wrestling is pretty subjective at the best of times, and these moments were no exceptions.
Sometimes these moments were on the periphery, such as the fake, retro-styled adverts starting Austin Idol and Tony Falk (WAFFLES AND TYRE IRONS!) These I actually enjoyed and because they were short and didn’t impact on the actual wrestling, they were pretty easy to ignore if you wanted to.
Other times, the comedy impacted on the ship’s storylines. I had mixed feelings about this. First of all, there was Aron Stevens. Now, Stevens was perhaps the most divisive figure in Powerrr but I actually really enjoyed his work (apart from that time he ‘vomited’ at ringside—that was just silly). He was genuinely amusing whilst being a perfect slimy, weasel of a heel. On Prime Time Live, he seemed to bring a slightly darker, violent edge to his character, which works well to give him a more dangerous edge. More of this please!
On the flip side, an angle where Danny Deals repeatedly dressed up as Tim Storm’s mother to psychologically get under the skin of Storm was like a poor attempt at a pantomime. Deals was supposed to be funny but it just made me cringe each time. Which is a shame, because the angle went on for several weeks.
Whatever your stance on the NWA’s funny bone, they’re going to need to be careful how they balance it with everything else so as to be able to tickle yours.
5. Bring Back ‘Into the Fire’ as the Theme Tune
I know, I know. It’s such a small point, certainly the least important element in this list. But it does appear that the NWA didn’t really know what they had when they used the classic Dokken track for the them time to Powerrr. It seemed to completely sum up exactly what the show was about and what you could expect once the action began. It was also another factor in what made the show stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Now, I like Pantera, but ‘I’m Broken’ didn’t get you pumped up in the same way and it also didn’t capture the character and feeling of Powerrr. It just felt like any other wrestling theme tune for any show post-Attitude era. There may have been rights issues that we don’t know about but, judging by the amount of people who pester the NWA on social media to bring the song back, but if it can be restored to the show’s theme tune, it will make a lot of the NWA family happy.
What would you like to see from the NWA once Powerrr eventually returns? Let me know in the comments below!