Rebooking: World Wrestling All-Stars first pay per view – The Inception

The World Wrestling All-Stars was a short-lived promotion that rose out of the ashes of WCW seven months after World Championship Wrestling closed. The WWA did not thrive as WCW’s successor. It was not a well-done promotion and despite having 31 shows to their name over a two-year span, only four made it to air, as the other 27 were house shows.

Those four shows that would air would air as pay-per-views.

The first World Wrestling All-Stars pay-per-view event, Inception, was held at the Sydney Super Dome, in Sydney Australia on October 26th, 2001. The first show drew a nice gate, bringing in 9,000 people in a stadium that held 18,000. With Jeff Jarrett and Nathan Jones as your top draws, that’s remarkable.

Clearly, there was an appetite for this brand; at least at first. The talent wasn’t ever truly there, at least not until they started working with the same guys who would end up in TNA, now known as IMPACT Wrestling. They didn’t have the star-studded lineups that a WWE would have at the time, but there was still something here.

So much so that they ran four shows leading up to the first pay-per-view. That’s right, to hype up the debut show, the company did four other shows in Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, and Wollongong the week leading into the show.

The talent from those house shows would later end up on the Inception pay-per-view.

So who all showed up? There wasn’t a lot of talent, figuratively or literally. Only 16 male wrestlers were on hand who had any name value whatsoever, and the biggest name among them was Jeff Jarrett.

You had some good workers, like Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis, Norman Smiley, and Crowbar. You had some guys, who could put on some good matches depending on who you paid them with, like Lenny Lane, Lodi, Buff Bagwell, Gangrel, and Konnan.

Then you had a random name, Danny Dominion, who would be WWA’s version of Santina Marella for the opening show.

And finally, you had Australia’s ex-convict and literal Goliath, Nathan Jones on hand.

You also had four women on the show as well, with Luna Vachon, Adara James, Quean Bea, and Violet Teross. Luna had lost a step by this point but was still a big enough name to carry a short match.

So the roster isn’t great, and the production values aren’t there. Jeremy Borash and Lawler do a solid job as commentators, but there are production miscues, missed shots, and just a whole lot of inexperience here. It also doesn’t help that Borash was doing double duty as the play-by-play guy and ring announcer.

There was one ace in the hole, however, as Bret Hart was part of the show. He was the kayfabe commissioner of the promotion and would cut a promo that felt longer than it really was, where he called Vince McMahon a “piece of shit”, and went on an odd tangent about 9-11, which was only six or seven weeks prior at this point.

There’s no way you can get him back in the ring, as I’m sure WWA tried and he said no. So while we can still use him, and we will, it won’t be in a match.

I try to focus on the things that are manageable, and the one thing that can be done with no extra money is better booking.  We can’t fix the talent that was here, but we can fix the card. So that’s where we’re going to focus on. Making the match quality as good as possible.

So what was the card?

Original WWA Inception card

WWA International Cruiserweight Championship –  Ladder Match
Juventud Guerrera vs. Psicosis

Dog Collar Match
Konnan vs. Road Dogg

Hardcore Match
Norman Smiley vs. Crowbar

Open Invitational Battle Royale
Buff Bagwell vs. Banana in Pajama’s 1 and 2, Crowbar, Disco Inferno, Graham Young, Jeremy Borash, Jerry Lawler, Mark Johnson, Norman Smiley, “Security Guar”, “Timekeeper”, Stevie Ray, as well as three unknowns

Guitar on a Pole Match
Nathan Jones vs. Jeff Jarrett

Three-Way Match
Road Dogg vs. Lenny Lane and Lodi

Tits, Whips, and Buff Match
Jeff Jarrett vs. Buff Bagwell

Black Wedding Match
Gangrel vs. Luna Vachon

4-Way Skin to Win
Adara James vs. Queen Bea vs. Violet Terossi vs. Danny Dominion (aka Sharon A. Wad)

Cage Match – WWA World Heavyweight Championship match
Jeff Jarrett vs. Road Dogg

This was a bad, overbooked card. The talent wasn’t really there, but the way they used them wasn’t great. Can we save the company with a better-booked event? Maybe, maybe not, but we can certainly try.

So how would we do things? Firstly, there is little, if anything from the original card we’re keeping.

Secondly, we’re going to have a mini-tournament still. This time, however, it’ll just be Buff Bagwell, Road Dogg, Konnan, and Jeff Jarrett. They’re going to open the show, with Buff Bagwell taking on Jeff Jarrett, and Road Dogg taking on Konnan.

Instead of doing some type of Hart promo or whatever that was, we’re going to hit the opening theme, and then go on to old, UFC-style promos, where the talent are filmed cutting promos against an off-colored backdrop. Short, sweet, to the point.

Jarrett and Bagwell will each get some time to talk about their upcoming match and their long-standing issues from their time in WCW together. Specifically about how Jarrett returned to WCW in 1999 and smashed a guitar over Bagwell’s head, and how he wants to return the favor to Jarrett.

The same gimmick will happen with Konnan and Road Dogg but with more pizzazz and such.

After that, we’re moving to a tag team match featuring Luna Vachon and Quean Bea taking on Adara James and Violet Terossi. This probably won’t be a great match, so you keep it to four minutes or so.

After that, you have Bret Hart comes out with Australian personality Rove McManus who does a bit of a short interview with Hart, only to be interrupted by Jerry Lawler. Lawler runs down Hart, but the two are pulled apart.

After that, we go to the WWA International Cruiserweight Championship Match which will feature Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera.

After that match ends, Lawler challenges Hart to a match later in the show. Though he leaves the challenge vague, saying he can beat anyone in the arena, including Hart.

Next up we’d get a six-man tag, where Lenny Lane, Lodi, and Danny Dominion (who originally competed on the original show in drag), will take on Stevie Ray, Disco Inferno, and Crowbar. They’ll really sell Ray, Inferno, and Crowbar as a “championship-caliber trio”.

Following this match, which will go a bit longer than expected, Hart will be shown backstage with Rove again, where Hart says Lawler should be careful about what he wishes for because Hart will see that Lawler’s challenge is accepted.

Then we move on to the hardcore match featuring Norman Smiley and Gangrel. In typical Norman fashion, Smiley will spend the entire match afraid of Gangrel. Smiley will start backstage, walking through the dark, where Gangrel surprises him and scares him. Things go on from there.

Following that, Rove will do an interview with Road Dogg, hyping up his history with Jeff Jarrett and how he waited years to get his hands on Jarrett for stealing his thunder when they were Double J and the Roadie in WWE back in the 90s.

Stevie Ray will then come out to ringside to do commentary with Borash as Lawler enters the ring. Hart, coming out in his wrestling gear, starts to get in the ring before grabbing a mic. He asks Lawler if Lawler really believes he can beat anyone in the arena, including Hart. Lawler of course says yes, and Hart says anyone? And then introduces Nathan Jones, and says; “Ok, tough guy, beat him. If you beat him, you can face me.”

Jones then does a five or six-minute match with Lawler that basically has Lawler stalling, powdering, and at one point attempting to run away from Jones, who just hooks his singlet, forcing Lawler to run in place.

After that, we do another promo spot with Rove, where he interviews Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett tells Road Dogg that he gave him his break when he was the roadies, and like with real-life roadies, they’re only there to support the real talent. He says Dogg was highly replaceable then, and can’t even last five minutes with Jarrett, let alone beat him.

Hart, who hasn’t left the ring since the end of the Lawler match, comes out and says he’s here to make sure there isn’t any nonsense like in Montreal.

The main event will end up being a smoz but considering Road Dogg’s in the match, you have to overbook this.

Reshuffled WWA Inception

WWA World Title Tournament Semi-Final
Jeff Jarrett vs. Buff Bagwell

WWA World Title Tournament Semi-Final
Konnan vs. Road Dogg

Tag Team Match
Luna Vachon, Quean Bea vs. Adara James and Violet Terossi

WWA International Cruiserweight Championship Match
Psicosis vs. Juventud Guerrera

Six Man Tag
Stevie Ray, Crowbar, Disco Inferno vs. Leni Lane, Lodi, Danny Dominion

Hardcore Match
Norman Smiley vs. Gangrel

Singles Match
Jerry Lawler vs. Nathan Jones

WWA World Heavyweight Championship Match
Road Dogg vs. Jeff Jarrett

How does the card shake out?

There’s only about an hour and a few odd minutes of actual wrestling on this two-and-a-half-hour show. Considering there was only one match that went 10 minutes, we can goose some more time out of this card as is. We’re going from 10 matches to 8, and we’re pairing up some really good talent with one another.

WWA World Title Tournament Semi-Final
Jeff Jarrett vs. Buff Bagwell

– Bagwell and Jarrett do their usual shtick. You can probably get 10 minutes out of this opener, with Jeff Jarrett trying and missing a guitar shot, something Bret Hart will reference later. Bagwell will hit Jarrett with the Buff Blockbuster but Jarrett will roll out of the ring to recover on the floor. As Bagwell drags him back into the ring, Jarrett low-blows Bagwell on the apron, allowing Jarrett to hit The Stroke for the win.

Winner: Jeff Jarrett

WWA World Title Tournament Semi-Final
Konnan vs. Road Dogg

– Konnan and Road Dogg are not a great pairing, especially in 2001. Konnan can still move some, but he’s about five years away from being retired, so he’s not as good as he once was. We’ll build the match around Konnan trying to use submission moves to bring Dogg down, not wanting to get into a brawl with the ex-Marine Corp member. Eventually, Road Dogg will mount a comeback, and just as it looks like he’s about to win, he sets up Konnan for the Pumphandle Drop, but Jarrett, arriving at ringside,  goes to hit Dogg with a guitar but misses and hits Konnan. Dogg gets the win.

Winner: Road Dogg

Tag Team Match
Luna Vachon and Queen B vs. Adara James and Violet Terossi

– As long as there are minimal bumps and no botches, we can make this work. Vachan is a champ, and Adara James had some experience as a wrestler, but by all accounts, Violet Terossi and Queen B never wrestled before. Queen B, according to Jeremy Borash, is Claudia Loveno, the August 1999 Penthouse Pet, though I have my doubts. And yes, we’re going to lean into the supposed Pet aspect a lot, as this is 2001. Vachon and Adara will do most of the work until Queen B is tagged in, where Adara starts to tear at her clothes. Luna responds in kind against Violet. Adara tries to help her partner but Queen B hits a low blow but to no effect. This allows Luna to bumrush Adara, get the legal tag, and then beat Adra.

Winners: Luna and Queen B

WWA International Cruiserweight Championship Match
Psicosis vs. Juventud Guerrera

– You’ve seen this match a dozen times before. Just do that, but with Juvi winning.

Winner: Juventud Guerrera

Six Man Tag
Stevie Ray, Crowbar, Disco Inferno vs. Leni Lane, Lodi, Danny Dominion

– Danny Dominion should get a lot of rub in this match, with him doing most of the damage against team “All-Star”. Dominion in the ring and Lawler at ringside should both question their status as All-Stars. Eventually Stevie gets the hot tag and pins Lodi after Dominion leaves them high and dry.

Winner: The WCW “All-Stars”

Hardcore Match
Norman Smiley vs. Gangrel

– Starting out in the back we see Norman Smiley wearing garlic, a cross, and holding a dozen-odd steaks. And no, that’s not a misspelling. Gangrell appears upside down behind Smiley, and Smiley tries to stab Gangrel in the chest with them, before dropping them. Gangrel smiles and says “Wrong kind of stakes”.  Gangrel then begins hunting Smiley down throughout the back, and when he finally catches up with him, the hardcore action begins. All the usual spots, including a makeshift blood bath, where Gangrel drops buckets of “blood” on Norman Smiley. Eventually, Smile spears Gangrel off the stage and into a bunch of tables for the win.

Winner: Norman Smiley
Post Match: Gangrel gets up right away, and tells Norman good job, and that he’s hungry. Smiley runs away in sheer fright.

Singles Match
Jerry Lawler vs. Nathan Jones

– After Bret Hart fakes out Jerry Lawler into accepting the match against Nathan Jones, Lawler goes full ham on Jones. He does his typical move set and Jones just lets it happen. Eventually, Lawler goes for a piledriver, and Hart tells Jones to stop screwing around. Jones then beats the hell out of Lawler. He hits two bicycle kicks, a delayed vertical suplex, and eventually a double-chokeslam; which ends up for the win.

Winner: Nathan Jones
Post Match: After Jones wins, Lawler will low-blow him, and hit him with a steal chair. Lawler, thinking he’s got Jones good, doesn’t see Jones stand right up and stare at him. Hart gets in the ring tells Lawler to turn around, and ends up eating a third bicycle kick. Hart then follows suit with the Sharpshooter.

WWA World Heavyweight Championship Match
Road Dogg vs. Jeff Jarrett

– The match will play out in three stages. The first stage will see Jarrett get his ass kicked for a good four minutes. Dogg will abuse him and maybe even bloody him up from the “punches”. Jarrett will get his guitar, smash it on Road Dogg and get the pin.

Jarrett will begin to celebrate until Hart overturns the results, saying that he won’t allow cheating in the most important match in company history. So the match re-starts.

Jarrett, with the upper hand, proceeds to beat on Dogg for a few minutes until Dogg mounts a comeback, but a well-timed dropkick from Jarrett and an accidental crotching by Dogg see Jarrett getting ready to win. Buff Bagwell comes out, however, and slides a steel chair into the ring. The ref goes to get it as Buff takes the opportunity to hit the Blockbuster on Jarrett. Dogg pins Jarrett and gets the win.

Bret Hart again reminds everyone that there won’t be any of that nonsense in this match. So he restarts it again but brings out Jones to serve as the ringside enforcer. The two men, now beaten and bloodied, will throw haymakers at one another to try and win. Jarrett and Dogg will both have color at this point and will reverse each other’s finishers. Eventually, Dogg hits Jarrett with his Stroke, and after kicking out, Jarrett will drop Dogg with the Pumphandle Dorp.

Jarrett can’t get the three, allowing Dogg to get back to his feet. After knocking Jarrett down with a clothesline, he’ll go for the Shake Rattle and Roll, but Jarrett will move away right as Dogg drops his knee, allowing Jarrett to knee Dogg in the head, and then drop him with another Stroke.

Jarrett gets the “clean” win and wins the WWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Winner: and new champion, Jeff Jarrett
Post Match: Hart raises Jarrett’s hand as pyro goes off from the ring and stage, and we go to a close.