Professional wrestling is on the verge of hitting a new boom period, and in the midst of WWE’s season premieres, broadcast debuts and NXT changes, along with the debut of AEW’s Dynamite show, it was easy to miss the debut of another new wrestling series: NWA Powerrr. Billy Corgan’s relaunch of the venerable wrestling brand kicked off this week, and in an era where nearly every other company tries to compete with WWE in terms of production value, the National Wrestling Alliance is taking the opposite approach and embracing what makes them different.
When the NWA’s weekly show was announced, it was pitched as a throwback, but I don’t think many realized just how much of a throwback it’d be. For starters, Jim Cornette welcomes viewers to the action, alongside Joe Galli. The show is taped in a studio, just like the NWA shows of yesteryear, and forget WWE’s “LED everything” strategy — there wasn’t even so much as a tron to be found on the small set, instead opting for blue curtains, flags from countries around the world and physical signs. The intro felt like something straight out of the ’80s, and overall the show’s presentation felt as if somebody was somehow transported back to 1981 with a 4K camera.
Studio wrestling just feels different from the massive arena wrestling of WWE and now AEW. If WWE is a Taylor Swift concert, NWA is your favorite band, before they were cool, in a dingy rock club. This comparatively tiny venue could run the risk of feeling small-time, but instead it feels intimate and makes you feel like you’re truly a part of something, rather than merely observing a spectacle.
The in-ring action itself was solid, featuring a squash by tag team The Dawsons, NWA Tag Team Champions The Wild Cards vs. Danny White and Mims, and a main event of NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion putting the Ten Pounds of Gold on the line against former champion Tim Storm.
More impressive were the promos, cut in a much more intimate and authentic style than we’re used to seeing in WWE’s hyper-produced, highly scripted environment. Former Impact World Champion Eli Drake introduced himself to the NWA audience with a great speech, James Storm had several recurring segments, and Tim Storm cut an impassioned promo about what the NWA title means to him before the man who carried the Ten Pounds of Gold in some of the NWA’s darkest days lost in a hard fought rematch against current champ Nick Aldis.
NWA Powerrr is such a throwback that it’s almost jarring to see such a product in 2019, but I mean that as a compliment. Instead of attempting the losing game of competing with WWE or AEW in what they do best — slick, expensive production — the NWA is presenting themselves as a truly old school product in a new school world. And if last night’s premiere episode is any indication, old school is still cool.