TNA Year 1 DVD Review
After almost a year of only one wrestling promotion running North America due to the demise of WCW and ECW there was a void that needed to be filled. The door was left open for a hungry and upcoming promotion to come knocking on the door with a unique format that was never tried in the sport of wrestling. It was on June 19, 2002 that Total Nonstop Action, also known as NWA: TNA, would go live as a weekly 2 hour PPV format which was never tried before. At a price of $9.99 per week, you would get 2 hours of wresting with no commercial interruptions. While the concept proved to be successful, how does TNA represent their first year with this DVD?
Being a fan of TNA since its inception, I was looking forward to this DVD like no other in the TNA lineup of DVD’s. The total runtime is 210 minutes and a good portion of that is dedicated to the documentary clocking in at 105 minutes. This is one of those DVD’s that will not only allow us to relive some of the exciting moments of Year 1, but will also help introduce new fans to how TNA got its roots even though I felt a bit underwhelmed by this release. Production values, this has to be hands down TNA’s best effort yet and they seem to be improving with each DVD release, especially the picture quality on this one has an extra bump………now all we need is the sound to get up to par and were in business.
For the most part, the documentary was well done as we get many interviews especially from Dixie Carter, Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles, Chris Harris, BG James, Mike Tenay, Don West, James Storm, Elix Skipper, and Christopher Daniels. We see many of these wrestlers multiple times recounting their stories and experiences since they were in TNA since day 1. It was a joy to see Jeff Jarrett and Dixie Carter go over their thoughts and recounting their relationship and how TNA came about. Poor Jeff Jarrett, he looked so tired and worn out in this documentary that you can see both excitement and exhaustion in his face. Considering what Jeff has gone through the last 5 years to get TNA off the ground, but worse the events over the last year haven’t helped either.
One thing that I do want to complain about this DVD and I’m not too sure where Bill Banks and crew were coming from, but what happened to chronological order? There are times the documentary skips around which can get a newcomer a bit lost.
The documentary opens up with the final audio check live from their first PPV in Huntsville, AL with Mike Tenay and Don West as we have text scrolling on a black background. Very awesome approach; and it shows that TNA knows how to start their DVD’s and PPV’s with such an engaging intro. As the sound check is going on, we see words flashing that the ring has broke minutes before TNA is to go on air and if it wasn’t for the Harris Brothers making the save of the night…….their first PPV would have been a disaster. This reminds me a lot of ECW’s first PPV Barely Legal where the main event literally goes the limit and the power shuts down a few seconds later in the building, talking about a close call. Then we cut to Jeremy Borasch recounting 10 most memorable moments from TNA’s Year 1.
This is where it all begins, Jeff Jarrett shares with us how there was a void with no more WCW and that he was still under contract sitting at home. He only had 2 choices, go work for the guys up North or start his own promotion. Enter Bob Ryder, as we start to recount the final days in WCW with both guys and how the weekly PPV idea came from Bob. For those that don’t know who Bob Ryder is, he always has taken care of the travel arrangements for WCW talent and now TNA. Everyone admits during the documentary that they had their doubts about TNA lasting weeks with this weekly PPV format.
One fact that I never knew until watching this DVD was that the ring broke right before the first show. What a nightmare as your trying to get off the ground with your first show and disaster strikes. Both the Harris brothers come to the rescue to fix the ring, plus they show us a clip of the Harris brothers running up the side of the ramp as the show starts……they were literally seconds away from being embarrassed. I hope Jeff has both brothers on the payroll for life; they made the save of a lifetime.
I really liked the Dixie Carter bits; she goes into detail on how she and Jeff actually met years before down in Texas as neighbors, but never really spoke with each other until years later during the meeting for Jeff trying to get investors on board. Then we get to the bits where Dixie goes over that her husband helped build and paint the stage/arena to the point where they were exhausted. There wasn’t enough money to get professionals to come in and remodel so it was left up to them with some help from Menards materials.
Another joyful piece had to of been the story on how America’s Most Wanted formed from just being 2 singles wrestlers with a dream to getting to the main event, but due to being such talented individuals TNA decided to pair them together as AMW. AMW will go down as TNA’s premier tag team and one of the best tag teams to ever grace the circle. Spending considerable amount of time with both Storm and Harris was a nice addition and see both these boys as main event stars in the future of TNA. At this point, it leads to the AMW vs. XXX feuds that literally tore apart TNA. We get interviews from Christopher Daniels and Elix Skipper throughout this point and the “X” division portion of the doc.
It was interesting that we learn about the origination of the “X” division from the actual ESPN X games. AJ Styles was their main focus when the division first started. Then we go to the very first “X” division match, Jerry Lynn, AJ Styles and Low Ki vs. the Flying Elvises, Sonny Siaki, Jimmy Yang and Jorge Estrada in a match that West coins as “tearing down the house”. This is where we get AJ Styles hinting that he would never leave TNA since it is the one promotion where “X” stars can main event a show unlike anywhere else.
Both Jeff Jarrett and Don West speak about TNA’s first major acquisition from the other guys, a guy named Raven. Raven coming to TNA and the way that this feud was booked turned to utter brilliance that really drew the fans in by the numbers, to the point where there were 2,000+ fans waiting outside the Asylum the day of the Jarrett vs. Raven match for the title. This was TNA’s first match ever of epic proportions that also drew some of the highest buy rates at the time. To this day as a fan, I still wish that Raven would have walked out of the Asylum as the champion. It would have probably of changed the course for TNA towards the tail end of Year 1, but the past is the past.
This is the one area where I was a bit disappointed from the aspect that we only get 4 matches from Year 1 instead of getting just 1 DVD with documentary and matches/extras. This was a perfect opportunity for TNA to include these 4 matches on DVD 1 and then have a second DVD with more matches.
The match listing for this DVD has 4 excellent matches from Year 1 that I was glad to see on here.
June 26, 2002 – Jerry Lynn vs. AJ Styles vs. Psicosis vs. Senshi in a Elimination Match to Name the First Ever X Division Champion.
August 28, 2002 – Triple Ladder Match For The X Division Championship Jerry Lynn vs. AJ Styles vs. Low Ki (C)
January 8, 2003 – World Tag Team Championship Match America’s Most Wanted, Chris Harris and James Storm vs. The Disciples of the New Church, Slash and Brian Lee (C) with James Mitchell and Belladona
April 30, 2003 – World Heavyweight Championship Match Jeff Jarrett (C) vs. Raven with The Gathering, Alexis Laree and Julio Dinero
I really enjoyed some of the extras on this DVD, and of course one of my favorites on here has to do with the Tribute to the late Curt Hennig. Hennig didn’t have a long stint in TNA’s first year, but is a true legend of the sport so we have many TNA superstars speak about Hennig that worked with him in TNA.
Legends, Legends, Legends! In Year 1, TNA went through a phase of having former wrestling legends appear on their shows in one capacity or another. We have Harley Race, Nikita Koloff, Dory Funk Jr., Percy Pringle, JJ Dillon, Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat, Vader, Bob Armstrong, The Rock N’ Roll Express, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Jackie Fargo, and The Road Warriors. Each one of these legends, wrestled in the ring, were a special guest that night, or had some part in a match. Then we also had celebrity appearances such as Jeff Hammond, Dustin Diamond, Toby Keith, and Chris Rock to name a few that round out the Year 1 Special Appearances extras.
Then we get both Chris Harris and James Storm’s tryout match on 6/1/02 from the Asylum. I think that a lot of focus has been placed on these two young men as TNA management does see them on another level which is a great thing. AMW is one of those former tag teams that revitalized the tag team scene for not only TNA, but all of wrestling as in the 00’s tag team wrestling has been dead to some organizations.
The Bottom Line
I enjoyed this DVD a lot and thought the production has come a long way with TNA DVD’s. If I have only 1 complaint, this should have been a 2 or even 3 disc release. There were so many great matches in Year 1, that a compilation like this deserves justice. Where is Ken Shamrock winning the NWA title from PPV #1 in the Gauntlet Match, or the first Ultimate X match, or etc. I do hope that this series does continue with TNA going through each year, but please make this a multi-disc effort to showcase the best matches of that year. I would also like to see the top feuds of that year fleshed out a bit more on these releases during the documentary. I give this release a thumbs up and recommend it to all TNA fans and even ones that want to know what TNA is about.