My Memories Of TNA’s First PPV Taping In Huntsville

Bill Behrens

TNA recently announced it’s return to the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville, AL on Sunday, Nov 16, 2008. That was the location of the first TNA PPV taping.

Here’s are a collection of my memories of that event.

First thing I recall is that tickets sold very poorly with only hundreds actually sold. Nashville promoter Bert Prentice was working the town as best he could but to fill the building it ended up that thousands of tickets had to be given away, which was not what the ownership expected for sure. This was a big event, staged big and at big expense. It ended up being a reality check that led to a quick move to a smaller Nashville building, Municiple Auditorium, then to the even smaller Nashville Fairgrounds facility that became TNA’s first real home, The Mecca.

I was given two jobs at the 1st show, one helping in the “Go” or “Gorilla” area (named after Gorilla Monsoon who worked the spot for years at WWE), and a second job on the show as the NWA Representative.

I ended up doing the Gorilla spot alone after this show (later with Tony Falk helping in Nashville), and then in Orlando (with Ron Niemi helping), but on this night I shared the spot with Dutch Mantel and was primarily running to get people while Dutch was on the headset. I remember nearly screwing up on sending Toby Keith to the ring during the Gauntlett match because nobody had smartened us up that he was supposed to go. Thanks Jeff:)

My NWA Rep spot involved a vignette with the Dupps (Bo, Stan & Fluff) that I remember took way too many takes. I also had a great couple of mark-out in ring spots, first appearing with the NWA Legends while the ring was being fixed early in the show, then later being sent out when Shamrock won the NWA Title beating Malice (The Wall).

I recall being underwelmed by Cheeks, a very large (fat) black wrestler from the Carolinas, who appeared in a dark match and was not booked again. I thought the Johnsons were a really dumb idea, although I really liked Mortimer Plumtree, the manager.

Look back on the roster at that first PPV, and then look at TNA’s roster today, and it’s amazing how few of that 1st crew are around now and were in TNA without interuption since. Only Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles & James Storm remain as wrestlers having been there since day 1. Don West, Mike Tenay, & Jeremy Borash still remain. Bob Ryder has stayed around. TNA refs Andrew Thomas and Rudy Charles were there but were back-up guys. Dutch Mantel was there. That’s about it.

Everybody that was there remembers the ring breaking just before belltime and the Harris Brothers managing to fix it in remarkable time.

It was a great night, and I was blessed to be part of it and lots of other nights to follow. There was something special about this first PPV and the Nashville years that followed. TNA is a much different and likely “better” company now, or at least a more viable business, but I miss those early years beginning in Huntsville then in Nashville. And whatever happened to girls dancing in cages? Now that was Total Non-Stop Action.

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