‘NWA Powerrr’ shows wrestling and nostalgia can be perfect tag team partners

first_imgThat’s why in wrestling, the concept of “adapt or die” is crucial to promotions. You either go with where the product is going, or be left in Gorilla position.Or, you could offer something so drastically different that it almost forces people to watch.MORE: WrestleMania 36 date, start time, matches, PPV cost after coronavirus changesSo in the pressure-cooker world of pro wrestling, what’s the biggest challenge for the voice of the National Wrestling Alliance?”I gotta remember all the names to all the damn moves,” Joe Galli told Sporting News with a laugh. “I feel like every move has a different name, I feel like every wrestler has a different name for their move. It’s this running spreadsheet of things I need to remember.”Tucked away neatly in a corner of the wrestling world, away from the grand stage of WWE or the upstart energy of All Elite Wrestling, is the National Wrestling Alliance and its show, “NWA Powerrr.” Yes, that NWA — the former wrestling governing body that featured stars of years past such as Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat and others. While NWA is simply a promotion now — not an overarching governing body — it’s still around, now with a weekly show.It wasn’t long ago I turned on my smart TV and flipped to “Powerrr” — which Galli describes as “new-studio wrestling” — both out of boredom and curiosity. I was curious about its presentation: It was a throwback to the days of ’80s studio wrestling, with minimal pomp and circumstance, free on YouTube, where the characters and wrestlers took centerstage before the pageantry and spectacle of big-budget productions. Also, the first two seasons featured a pretty kick-ass ’80s tune by Dokken.So, full disclosure: I freakin’ love “NWA Powerrr.” It offers something charming, something that I was never familiar with because I grew up a child of the Attitude Era and Sting and not the down-home warmth of Saturday morning wrestling.That’s why it’s so dazzling. Operating with minimal cameras and a small crowd out of a studio in Georgia, “Powerrr” shouldn’t work in today’s wrestling landscape. Period. It doesn’t have the massive budget of a huge wrestling conglomerate, and while its owner William Corgan — that’s the Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins fame — is backing the organization, there are still way too many variables that makes the organization and its show a tightrope act. It doesn’t offer anything particularly new or exciting.But what it does offer, it does extraordinarily well. It gives you top-quality wrestling and storylines. It has a mix of youth and veteran talent. There are a few other factors why it works. Experience among its staff is one. Attitude is another. But — maybe more than anything — it’s passion.”I think what everybody strives for is for our program to be unique,” Galli said. “In the current landscape of professional wrestling, where there is so much wrestling out there, I think we do a very good job of making something that’s different, and that we’re passionate about.If you’re passionate about something, you’re going to put a lot more effort into it.”MORE: NWA champion Nick Aldis vs. Marty Scurll — a match ’15 years in making’That passion has helped the National Wrestling Alliance for more than 70 years in its winding and storied history, leading to “NWA Powerrr” hitting YouTube in October . In between, there has been a rise, a fall, a rebranding and other things that typically spell doom for wrestling promotions.The idea for “NWA Powerrr” was risky. Obviously, there’s a heavy, heavy element of nostalgia built into the product. But as with all things, nostalgia can be both a gift and a curse. That has always been apparent in wrestling. While nostalgia acts and wrestlers — really, sports entertainers — can be good for a quick bump, relying on acts from yesteryear can be a long-term detriment.”That’s the beauty of what we have — we have so much talent,” Galli said. “Whether it’s the relatively unknown people like Ricky Starks, who have really shown up. Or guys who have been around for a long time, like Trevor Murdoch or Eddie Kingston. They’re all incredibly different, but they’re all very good at what they do.”It’s not like the company isn’t guilty of opening up the rolodex and calling up some old-timers. The company gave the tag belts to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson. Scott Steiner made a few appearances. But there was never a reliance on the saccharine nature of wrestling memories — it was about providing a little bit of that nostalgia while furthering good, younger talents and stories.Galli is an admitted wrestling fan, and has worked in studio wrestling before, with a stopover at Championship Wrestling of Hollywood earlier in his career. He himself is a throwback of sorts: He views himself in a Gordon Solie-esque mold, where his professional-over-cartoon approach to interviewing wrestlers helps further storylines and keeps the focus on the story.And what’s most impressive, is it’s done in short, bite-sized episodes at just under an hour apiece.It seems like a difficult task, considering so many storylines, championship feuds and more have to be furthered in such a finite window, though Galli says it’s not the most difficult part of the show. The behind-the-scenes guys and on-screen talent all pull together to put out the best quality show they can, and their roster speaks to that.MORE: Why WWE fans won’t be seeing Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 36Just think of that for a second: If you’re a WWE fan, how often have you sat through “RAW” for the last few years, waiting for something, anything to happen? If a company such as WWE has difficulty fitting three hours of time, think of it in the other direction, where working with one hour can be a difficult task.”The problem you have with other shows — and I’m not throwing anybody under the bus — but when you have a program that lasts for three hours, you gotta fill three hours,” Galli said. “So you have to put in things that probably could be better if they were condensed to a smaller time. So when you start pushing things, it bloats (the show) in order to fill it out. …”The same thing goes for a news broadcast. If you have an hour-long newscast, and not a whole lot’s happening that day, it’s going to be a relatively boring newscast. But if you have a lot of things happening, and you deliver to them in effective, short, digestible amounts, and you move onto the next story to keep people’s attention, then you’re going to have a very good newscast and people are going to have to watch the whole thing.”Maybe that’s why I’ve been particularly drawn to “Powerrr.” The show delivers everything it needs to in a sprint, without feeling like anything is forced or rushed. It’s incredibly balanced with the talent well, too.Ricky Starks is an up-and-coming star. Nick Aldis (known as Magnus during his time in TNA) is the company’s current champion, where he has made a home for himself as one of the faces of the company. Tim Storm is the wily veteran hanging on for one last shot at gold. Trevor Murdoch looks like he was ripped straight from a late ’70s wrestling promotion. Galli didn’t want to play favorites, but he singled out Zicky Dice as one of the rising stars of the company; Dice looks like he was ripped straight from the ’80s with a skillset (and fanny pack) to match.Let’s revisit this: “Powerrr” shouldn’t work. While wrestling is cyclical, the styles and production that worked three decades ago wouldn’t usually work today. But “NWA Powerrr” is more than just nostalgia — it’s a highwire act. But what they do, they do incredibly well: grappling and storytelling. Unfortunately, for the time being, “Powerrr” is on hold, given the coronavirus pandemic stretching across the nation. But all 20 episodes of the main series and some of its side products are available, totally free, on YouTube.For younger viewers, the camp nature of the show can be a turn-off, especially if they’re seeking something a little more edgy. The wrestling oftentimes is wonderful and textbook, but not flashy or dazzling. So why watch?”In the time that it would take me the reasons why they should watch ‘NWA Powerrr,’ they could simply watch Episode 1,” Galli said. “The product will speak for itself.” Evolution, as they say, is a mystery.It’s none more apparent in pro wrestling. Just salivate over these dream matches: The Legion of Doom in a matchup with The Young Bucks, or Cody Rhodes squaring off against a prime Roddy Piper. Talent is apparent for all, but styles make fights.last_img read more