News NWA Hard Times preview: Can Steiner defeat the power of karate?

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NWA is rolling out the second PPV of the Powerrr era with Hard Times tonight (Friday, Jan 24). It will feature a clash between NWA and ROH as Nick Aldis aims to teach a lesson to Marty Scurll through beating up Villain Enterprises’ Flip Gordon, Scott Steiner challenging Aron Stevens (fka Damien Sandow) and the power of karate for the National Championship, Thunder Rosa getting a title shot against Allysin Kay, and the TV title tournament to crown a new champ.

Let’s break down the card and get you ready for Hard Times, available tonight through Fite TV at 7 pm ET.

NWA vs ROH: Nick Aldis vs Flip Gordon

This bout is a stepping stone toward an eventual clash between Nick Aldis and Marty Scurll. Scurll appeared at the end of the last PPV, Into the Fire. Scurll wants a shot at Aldis and the Worlds Heavyweight Championship. Aldis returned to the favor to show up on ROH grounds. Aldis beat down Flip Gordon in the process. Thus, the match was made. That’s where we are at now. Scurll hacked into the go-home episode of Powerrr to message that he will be at Hard Times. Aldis has already committed to a tag team main event at ROH’s Free Enterprise show on February 9. Aldis will team with Rush to wrestle Scurll and PCO.

The finish will be telling as to how the main feud will proceed. Aldis could win a clean one-on-one contest. Aldis’ crew, Strictly Business, could interfere on his behalf. Scurll could get directly involved. Or Scurll’s crew, Villain Enterprises, could show up in full force. This feud has enough moving parts to either be one and done at NWA’s next PPV or stretch out another 6+ months across both promotions.

Prediction: Nick Aldis handles business to win relatively clean. I would be surprised if shenanigans from both sides are not afoot, but I think Aldis goes to work to show he is the superior man. That would boost the status of NWA and also Aldis as a showdown with Scurll looms.

NWA National Championship: Aron Stevens (c) vs Scott Steiner

Damien Sandow has reinvented himself as Aron Stevens, a smug Hollywood actor who took up karate lessons for his latest movie role starring in, “Shogun of Malibu.” Stevens hired the enigmatic sensei, ¿The Question Mark?, for karate lessons to enhance his acting performance. Stevens amazingly took to karate like a duck to water and earned a third degree black belt in five weeks of training. At Into the Fire, Stevens utilized his newly learned skills to win the National Championship from former holder Colt Cabana in a three-way with Ricky Starks. ¿The Question Mark? usually has a hand in providing timely distractions or direct contact to assist Stevens.

Scott Steiner came onto the scene by aligning with Nick Aldis in Aldis’ feud with Ricky Morton of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. Steiner was given a title shot against Stevens, because... Who are you to deny Big Poppa Pump a chance at gold? The contest was announced last-minute. There has been no interaction yet between the microphone dandies. Let’s cross our fingers that Steiner and Stevens will share the interview podium for verbal fireworks before the bell rings.

Prediction: Scott Steiner uses his peaks to please his freaks. In all likelihood, Stevens will find a way to retain. However, I just can’t envision the Big Bad Booty Daddy going down to a karataaaay blow from Stevens. I even question the effectiveness of ¿The Question Mark?’s Mongrovian throat strike on the Genetic Freak. Steiner’s throat muscles probably have muscles. For that reason, I’m picking Freakzilla.

NWA World Tag Team Championship: Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (c) vs Wildcards vs James Storm & Eli Drake

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express became 9-time NWA tag champs against all odds. They took the belts off Wildcards, Thom Latimer (fka Bram) and Royce Isaacs. Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson retained in the rematch at Into the Fire.

As far as the matchup for Hard Times, there has been little direct build. Morton spent most of the time setting up a title match against Nick Aldis for the go-home episode of Powerrr. Latimer and Isaacs are in Aldis’ Strictly Business faction, so they have been crossing paths with RnR.

James Storm & Eli Drake won a three-way against Colt Cabana & Ken Anderson and an absent Wildcards to get into the picture. Storm and Drake have also been angling for title shots with Aldis, so they have proxy beef with Wildcards.

Prediction: Rock ‘n’ Roll Express retains. I’m not a huge fan of 60+ year olds holding the tag titles, but it feels like there is a lot of juice left to $$$queeze from the veins of Morton and Gibson. They are too intertwined into the NWA fabric to be sent packing at the moment.

NWA World Women’s Championship: Allysin Kay (c) vs Thunder Rosa

This bout appears to be a stepping stone toward Allysin Kay versus Melina, but Thunder Rosa is a badass. You can’t count Rosa out from winning the women’s belt. I mean, how can you not like her after this tweet?

For some reason, before I have a very important match I watch #manamitoyota and my heart fills fuel of craziness, violence and pain......... #joshiwrestling #inspiration pic.twitter.com/4wkRjezPMO

— Thunder Rosa (@thunderrosa22) January 24, 2020
Melina came on the scene by recruiting Thunder Rosa then Marti Belle, former best friend of Kay. Melina believes herself to be a living legend and that Kay does not respect the role as champion. Thus, she has come to show Kay what’s up. Melina is supposed to be the heel, but I don’t view Kay in much of a positive light as a face. Kay gives off vibes of being snobby, in a queen of the trailer park kind of way.

This particular bout was set up by Melina. In the go-home show, Melina declared that Rosa would challenge Kay for the title if Kay could beat Belle. Kay did, and here we are. Yes, it is odd that Melina is dictating the terms to the champ, but Kay has a strong desire to mow down Melina’s partners to get to her main rival.

Prediction: Thunder Rosa becomes champ. This is a fan pick. I want to see her with the gold. Rosa is the best performer in the women’s division, and arguably top three in NWA (behind Nick Aldis and Eli Drake, in my opinion). I believe she could take over any promotion if given the opportunity.

NWA TV Title tournament

NWA is bringing back the TV title. They held qualifying matches to determine the PPV tournament field. There were two open spots for competitors outside the promotion. The winner will walk away with the TV title.

Describe what this title makes you feel in one word. #NWAHardTimes | Friday 7pm on @FiteTV Hard Times PPV — NWA pic.twitter.com/a9jA6t1IEv

— NWA (@nwa) January 24, 2020
Here is the bracket:

NWA

This is a tough one to predict. I’d say Tim Storm is the favorite. He is a former Worlds Heavyweight Champion. Ricky Starks is a strong underdog. His persona screams stardom, and winning the TV title would be a heck of step to establish him. I’d actually pick Dan Maff as the favorite, but I have to scale him down to underdog due to being employed with ROH. He filled one of the open spots as an outsider, so you have to question if he could legitimately win the tournament. Same for Matt Cross (aka Son of Havoc) but to a lesser extent.

Prediction: Let’s go round by round. Tim Storm over Ken Anderson. Ricky Starks over Matt Cross. Dan Maff over Zicky Dice. ¿The Question Mark? over Trevor Murdoch. I’m pretty confident in those choices.

The second round is where I have doubts. Something tells me there will be a new member of Nick Aldis’ faction, Strictly Business, and that winner will be the new TV champ. A swerve would make sense for the finals, but Storm vs Starks is grabbing me. Aldis has beef with Storm and is always putting over Starks as a star of the future. I want to pick Starks, but his attack of Aron Stevens on the go-home show makes me pause. That kind of solidified Starks as a good guy and veers toward continuing their feud soon. For that reason, I’ll pick Storm.

Maff over ¿The Question Mark? I have to actually see a big monster dude selling the Mongrovian throat strike before I can believe it as an effective maneuver on the big stage.

Storm over Maff to win the TV title. In the
debut episode of Powerrr, Storm lost a title match against Aldis. There was a stipulation that Storm would be out of the Worlds title picture with a loss. Storm is a huge fan favorite, and winning this tournament would give him future direction. Plus, it would be a great feel-good moment, especially if they trotted out Mama Storm in the victory celebration.

Hard Times
airs Friday, January 24 at 7 pm ET. It can be purchased to view on Fite TV (here). Get in the mood by listening to an interview (here) with Stu Bennett (fka Wade Barrett). Bennett has replaced Jim Cornette to handle color commentary. The interview doesn’t have newsworthy snippets, but it is still interesting to hear Bennett speak about why he enjoys the NWA product.

What are your predictions for Hard Times? Which match will steal the show?

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