NWA/YouTube

Nick Aldis and Marty Scurll became “instant friends” 15 years ago in England. Now they’re fighting for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

By Justin Barrasso
April 24, 2019

SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

Nick Aldis and Marty Scurll Go Way Back

Nick Aldis defends his NWA World Heavyweight Championship this Saturday against “The Villain” Marty Scurll at the Crockett Cup pay-per-view in Concord, North Carolina.

The Crockett Cup is a tag team tournament steeped in NWA tradition, with The Road Warriors winning the first event in April 1986 at the Louisiana Superdome. This year’s card will feature a tag team tourney, as well as a world title match between Aldis and Scurll, who first met 15 years ago at Dropkixx Academy in Purfleet, England.

“Marty wasn’t old enough to drive, so the owner, Frank Rimer, asked if I could give Marty a lift every week,” said Aldis. “We just became instant friends, and I always knew Marty would make it in this business.”

There is a significant difference in size between the 6'4" Aldis and the 5'9" Scurll. Wrestling was traditionally a business built on size, and it was Aldis who first tasted success when he won the TNA world title in 2013. But Scurll has also built a career of note, most notably with his time in Ring of Honor and New Japan, as well as in his time in The Elite.

“I always knew Marty would make it,” said Aldis. “I’m taller, so I got opportunities quicker than he did, but he has created the best character in all of wrestling in the past decade with ‘The Villain.’ It’s the most effective, most unique, and most commercially successful, especially without the WWE machine behind it.”

Many of Aldis’ brethren in TNA have gone on to star in WWE. His championship reign was preceded by AJ Styles, who now plays an integral role in WWE, and followed by Eric Young, Bobby Lashley, Kurt Angle, EC3, Matt Hardy, and Drew McIntyre.

“It’s gratifying to see so many people who were my peers at TNA riding so high in WWE,” said Aldis. “For whatever reason, I never got an opportunity with WWE. For me, I had a dark period because I had to come to terms that WWE was not an option, even though no one can give me a straight answer as to why. So, at the time, I didn’t know what my place was. But what I thought was the end was the best thing that happened to me.

“Your greatest disappointment can often be the catalyst for profound reinvention, and that absolutely applies to my situation with the NWA.”

The NWA World Heavyweight Championship dates back to 1948, but was last truly relevant when worn by “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair in 1993. The belt has grown in stature in recent years, though, after Smashing Pumpkins musician Billy Corgan purchased the NWA and announced plans to revitalize the once-proud brand. Aldis first won the title in December 2017, lost it at “All In” in September against Cody Rhodes, then reclaimed the title at the NWA’s 70th Anniversary show in October by defeating Rhodes in a two out of three falls match.

With public endorsements from former NWA champs in Harley Race and Dory Funk Jr., Aldis is looking to set a new standard for the title, which is wrestling’s most famous ten pounds of gold.

“I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do and what we’ve been able to achieve, but I am really hungry to take this as far as I can,” said Aldis. “There is still a huge amount of ground to cover.”

Aldis is working nonstop to make the NWA championship as legitimate and well-known as possible, and his match with Cody Rhodes at All In was a memorable moment for the title and the promotion.

“Nothing really changes in this business, it still comes down to emotion,” said Aldis. “When you think back to what made you become a fan of this business, it’s the moments. And I’m planning to have a big moment this Saturday against Marty.”

The Crockett Cup will be a mix of today’s highlights combined with the NWA’s historical might, punctuated by a world title match that is appointment viewing for wrestling fans.

“This match is 15 years in the making,” said Aldis. “This is the HBO Boxing of wrestling. You may not see us as often as you see other promotions, but when you do see us, you know you are going to see high quality.

“We’ll celebrate where this great NWA brand has been, where it’s going, and I am going to show why I am one of the most respected champions in the business.”

The Mystery regarding All Elite Wrestling’s television deal

After reports earlier this month that All Elite Wrestling may be close to a television deal, the situation is still far from set in stone. 

Tony Maglo of The Wrap reported that, if AEW appears on TNT, then it is far more likely that AEW will pay TNT for the airtime than the other way around.

The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer reported that there are multiple bidders interested in airing AEW.

Both reporters have well-trusted sources, and I have also heard that multiple stations (Turner, WGN) are interested in airing AEW. Television people whom I trust have repeatedly questioned the idea that AEW, because it is a start-up, will not receive big licensing fees until it proves it can generate a consistent stream of viewers every week over a period of time.

The addition of Dustin Rhodes adds some star power to the AEW roster, but a key component in any AEW television deal is the role of Jim Ross.

Ross is an extremely meaningful hire for AEW because he is the single most recognizable broadcaster in the world of wrestling. Hiring Ross allows AEW to legitimately boast to television suitors that they have the signature voice of WWE—who is known for his time calling Monday Night Raw—as part of their team.

The story is still developing, and Sports Illustrated will continue to report on the news as it develops.

The Miz Vents About His Fantasy Baseball Team

Mike “The Miz” Mizanin has a pregnant wife and a new baby at home, the “Miz & Mrs.” show on USA, and an ongoing feud with Shane McMahon—in addition to a subpar start in fantasy baseball.

Anyone who has played fantasy sports can relate: a scheduling conflict that leads to an autodraft can ruin an entire season. And that is exactly what Mizanin is dealing with at the current moment. His team hit its first snag during the March 24 draft.

“I was driving and stopping every time I had a pick to draft,” said Mizanin. “The problem is I had no service. So I had to autodraft, which is the biggest slap in the face in fantasy. I have so many players I did not want.”

An autodraft takes place when someone cannot be present for the draft, but it is far less damaging if the fantasy manager knows about it ahead of time and queues up players to be drafted. In this case, however, Mizanin expected to be the one who, as Bill Parcells would say, was picking the groceries.

“A big part of the problem with the autodraft was overdrafting players,” said Mizanin. “I got Madison Bumgarner, and he was good, but I feel like he’s a tier-four pitcher now and I was drafting him as a tier-one. I got Yu Darvish, and he’s another tier-four. I like to stock up on my pitching, and this thing did not stock up on my pitching.”

Miz promised to show his expertise and find hidden gems on the waiver wire, but competing for a fantasy baseball championship this season will not come easily.

“I don’t have any home run hitters, I have no base stealers, and I have no relief pitching,” said Mizanin. “I have Andrew Miller, which is great, but Andrew Miller alone is not going to get me the saves I need to get at least into the middle.

“It’s so aggravating. I need to make some trades to figure this all out.”

“The Butcher of Buffalo” Comes to Beyond Wrestling

Andy Williams is the guitarist for Every Time I Die, as well as “The Butcher of Buffalo” in wrestling. But regardless of whether he’s on stage or in the ring, he oozes punk rock.

“That’s all I want to do,” said Williams. “I want to wrestle on the indies for the rest of my life.”

As an 11-year-old, Williams sat in his elementary school art class in North Tonawanda, New York, 20 miles north of Buffalo, and was given an assignment: take a photo from a magazine and turn it into a painting.

Williams chose a magazine cutout of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine mutilating “Rowdy” Roddy Piper from their infamous dog collar match from Starrcade 1983.

Thus, the “The Butcher” was born.

The 6’3”, 265-pound mustachioed monster, who wears a monocle in tribute to G.I. Joe villain Doctor Mindbender, is quickly becoming a staple of the indie wrestling scene. His biggest appearance to date took place during the Bloodsport show during WrestleMania weekend, where he tapped out to Chris Dickinson but won over the crowd with his style.

Next on his list is his debut in Beyond Wrestling, which takes place this Wednesday for the online Uncharted Territory show. Williams is tagging with Pepper Parks (Braxton Sutter from TNA), who is known as The Blade in a match against the Beaver Boys.

“I legit got emotional when I found out we were wrestling the Beaver Boys,” said Williams. “I’m so f---ing excited to face one of my favorite tag teams. If you thought we went hard before, this match is going to be insane. We’re going to go as hard as we possibly can, and we’re definitely going to get some eyes on us.”

In addition to tagging together, they also have a podcast, Kickin’ Ass with Jesse and Andy, (“The Blade, Braxton Sutter, Jesse—he has about 19 different names,” said a joking Williams) with a new episode set to drop this Wednesday. Williams has found a way to intertwine all of his passions into his wrestling persona, which is a play off of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “The Running Man” movie.

“I am ‘The Butcher of Buffalo,’ and Ben Richards is the Butcher of Bakersfield, which was one of my favorite movies as a kid,” said Williams. “And ‘The Blade’ character is based off a character from the “Nightbreed” film that wore a mask with a raincoat and was a slasher.”

The 41-year-old Williams was trained by Parks. He has only been wrestling for three years, but has a hunger on display in his work that will be apparent this Wednesday.

“I’ve found that wrestling is a lot like writing a song,” said Williams. “It’s the same emotions as going to see a band play a set list you like. But in the music scene, I get an hour to do that. In wrestling, I get 12 minutes.

“This is the biggest tag match we’ve ever had. They have some great tags, and the chance to get in the ring with them is f---ing awesome.”

The (Online) Week in Wrestling

• Bray Wyatt is back and, thankfully, remains the leader of a cult.

• Ever wonder what wrestling in a cave looked like? Ryukyu Dragon Pro Wrestling answered that question.

• PWInsider’s Paul Crockett wrote about three independent talents ready to burst out onto the national scene

• Hornswoggle’s show this weekend looks fantastic.

• Former WWE writer Brian Gewirtz explained Passover in wrestling terminology.

• CM Punk sharing his stories from the ring is beyond captivating.

• And you be the judge: was the masked man really Punk? 

Conrad Thompson on This Week’s “Something to Wrestle”

Conrad Thompson returns this Friday to “Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard” to discuss the career of John “Bradshaw” Layfield.

“JBL is a story that most people never saw coming,” said Thompson. “John ‘Justin Hawk’ Bradshaw? He became an accidental superstar.”

Thompson will explore Layfield’s origin into the business, his friendship with Prichard, as well as his start in WWE.

“JBL got in the business just before the end of the territory days, then had some brief stops in Mexico and Japan before making his way into the WWE with Dutch Mantel,” said Thompson. “We’ll cover all the incarnations of his characters in WWE.”

Bradshaw made his WWE debut in 1995, but struggled to find his place for four years (The New Blackjacks, Brawl for All, a singles career that floundered in the mid-card) until a partnership with the great Ron Simmons took his career to the next level.

“Layfield and Simmons were put together, almost out of nowhere, as The Acolytes,” said Thompson. “They started as background characters and slowly into evolved into beer-drinking, card-playing bad ass babyfaces. After that, WWE took a shot on John and put him in the world title picture. We’ll examine who was for it, who was against it, and spend time on his feud with Eddie Guerrero, the making of John Cena, and some of his missteps, including getting fired, that happened along the way.”

Layfield is also infamous for creating controversy behind the scenes in WWE.

“I really want to hear Bruce speak about the rumor and innuendo that JBL is a bully,” said Thompson. “Justin Roberts wrote a book that identified JBL as a bully, and that built off past stories about him bullying Joey Styles and the Blue Meanie.

“A lot of wrestling folks say, ‘Well, that’s just the way the business was.’ And maybe that’s the story—maybe John didn’t change with the business, and maybe Vince McMahon oddly liked that. When he was a bully on commentator, was JBL just repeating what Vince told him to say? So we’ll explore how much of this was John carrying out Vince’s actions. Our show is a deep dive into the psyche of Vince McMahon, and this show is going to bring a lot to light.”

Tweet of the Week

It’s tweets like this that make me happy the internet exists.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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