NWA On Demand
NWA On Demand started as NWA Classics in 2015. It's not exactly a competitor to WWE Network, nor really a supplement, but a streaming service nonetheless. The NWA name is a bit of a misnomer, as the service is really almost entirely based around Bruce Tharpe/NWA owning the rights to arena tapes from the Sam Houston Colosseum and whatever Paul Boesch had the rights. Since WWE owns the rights to almost every major NWA territory, what this means is that NWA On Demand basically just has matches from the Houston area. Some of which can actually be found on WWE Network or various DVD releases from WWE. If you were thinking this would have all these rare classics, you're going to be very disappointed in the service. The vast majority has been easily found online for many years, and is edited or short TV matches. Before I get into the matches, I want to review the service itself.
1. Match Selection
Probably the most important part of a streaming wrestling service. The selection, even after a year and a half in existence, is still very sparse, and almost everything is edited or very short to begin with. The majority of matches are from TV shows, and edited even then. You're not going to be getting long Flair/Harley/Brisco/Funk classics on this. You're going to get a lot of random matches from Mid South shows, and I think there might actually be more AWA Championship matches than NWA Championship matches on the service.
2. Video Quality
Terrible. All you need to do is look at the difference in quality between the same matches that are on WWE Network. Very obvious that no restoration process was done at all, meaning the video quality is what you'd expect from digitized VHS videos from the early 2000s. Even worse, all of the videos are stretched to 16:9 ratio. The video player is as bare bones as possible, only having play/pause and volume options. You can't change the quality, there is no jump forward or backward option. Basically anything that has been common for a video player in 10 years is not available on this service.
3. Customer Support
This is where my biggest issue with the service is. It's not actually through the NWA or Bruce Tharpe. Your account is through a third party video provider, Cleeng, which is not made clear at all until after you've given them your card information. And once you have, the only way you can access your account information is from a link sent to you in your email as a receipt. The default size of the NWA On Demand and the poor lay out means multiple options are cut off unless you shrink your browser by 50%. That's not usually the first thing people think of, so as far as you know just by looking at the site, you can't access your account information without using the email link. Worst of all, when you sign up for your free trial, it automatically sets you up to be signed up for the $99 a year plan, which, again, you can't even see access to by default without going to a different website. It feels extremely scummy.
Overall, I can not recommend this service. Between the video quality, the lack of content, and questionable customer service support, there is really nothing on here that makes it worth spending around the same amount of money you could be spending on WWE Network or NJPW World. Both of those services offer better content and quality by magnitudes, for about a dollar more per month. I suggest doing the one week trial, watching what looks interesting to you, and making sure to cancel your trial before it runs out. It only adds 2-3 matches per week, and sometimes none at all. The value for your dollar is just not there.
Wild Bill Curry vs Johnny Valentine 1969
Wild Bill has the greatest eyebrows in the history of this great sport. Bill is just going to punch Johnny in the ear every chance he gets. This is the largest crowd in the building in 15 years. Bill is a fascinatingly ugly man. Kind of amazing that he's wildly popular here. Johnny is working a chinlock/cravat/smother hold. Ref should really check that. I don't think you're allowed to cover the nose and the mouth. Bill gets free and keeps throwing hands. Johnny is far more animated than his son. A surprising amount of fisticuffs in this. Johnny gets the first fall with a headlock takeover.
Fall two starts much the same, with a lot of punches being thrown from both men. Loooool at Johnny's Ric Flair level blatant blading in the middle of the damn ring. Bill wins the second fall via TKO.
Fall three continues with the punches. This has basically been a boxing match. The ref got punched, so the third fall is immediately thrown out. They continue to brawl around ringside.
Bob Backlund vs Afa WWF Championship
Bruce Tharpe has some nerve putting up a WWF title match on his service. I know he technically can, but that seems like playing with fire to me. Bob starts with his trademark leg sweeps. I love Bob using weird leverage moves to over power Afa. Really weird ass amateur shit. At the same time, Afa is all about those nerve holds and chokes. That's basically the whole match. Which is not great, but I'm endlessly fascinated by how weird Bob Backlund is. Bob hits a piledriver and follows it with an O'Connor roll for the win. Title retained.
The Fantastics vs Dutch Mantell/Bill Dundee
Do you think Bruce Tharpe has the rights to Sharp Dressed Man? Bill and Dutch attack before the bell. It takes a bit for things to calm down and for the match to actually begin. Fulton and Dundee begin. Dundee was such a sneaky little cunt. Man, Tommy Rogers was in incredible shape. A real shame he was so short. He could have had a bigger run outside of the territories, I believe. That look and ability but 4-5 inches taller would have had a huge push in WCW/WWF. I think Paul Boesch might be drunk. Dude is rambling and going off on the weirdest tangents. He spends like 2 minutes straight talking about Dutch's body hair. It was bizarre. This seems oddly edited. Rogers' whole FIP segment is cut just to go straight to a hot tag. Bill accidentally hits Dutch, who knocks heads with the ref. Fuckery is on the way! Bill accidentally hits Dutch AGAIN, then Tommy (who was not the legal man) wins with a top rope crossbody. Why is this short, edited TV match on this service? This was like...7 minutes, probably.
Andre The Giant vs Harley Race NWA Championship 1/7/79
Now this is something you'd hope for out of a NWA on demand service. What you wouldn't hope for is randomly flashing the NWA on demand logo directly onto the footage. This has no commentary, which is kind of neat. Andre controls the opening minutes of the match. With ease. Just straight jacketing Harley. How do you get out of something like that? Getting into the corner, I guess. Lol at Harley trying to suplex Andre. God, this ring looks miserable to bump on. No give at all. Andre's gonna hit a tiger suplex! Could you imagine? Not that far out of the realm of possibility, really. He was doing jumping tombstones and pedigrees in the 70s. Andre is wearing down the champ. Lots of arm work. Always love seeing him do technical stuff, since the most minor of holds look brutal when he's doing them. There's a lot of down time, but it is a 2/3 falls match with Andre, and Andre is working holds the whole time instead of just standing around. The first fall ends in a count out after Harley body slams Andre ON THE FLOOR.
There is a LOT of downtime before the second fall starts. Harley stick with the back, which is certainly not feeling great after the slam on the floor. Still, I'm not sure a bear hug on Andre makes a ton of sense. I don't buy that Harley and his beer gut are strong enough for Andre not to be able to fight off, and certainly not strong enough to actually squeeze Andre down to the mat. Andre fires up, and he sure loves working in the corner for this. Andre wins the fall with a splash.
Fall three starts with Andre still on fire, then Harley is just...back on offense. Andre just kind of stopped. It was weird. As it tends to happen, the third fall is short and has a non-finish, as Harley made sure he and Andre got counted out. I would say this was interesting more than entertaining. It's a very clear example of how wrestlers respected the Japanese audience much more than the American audience, because you can see either of these guys in Japan at the same time period doing so much more than what they did here.
Jake Roberts vs Lord Humongous Steel Cage Match 11/29/85
Jake is wearing his own hockey mask. Jake hits a flurry of offense right at the beginning that has no impact on Humongous. Jake wisely doesn't fall into the trap of trying to match power, instead relying on his speed advantage in this match. Lol at the spot of them both ramming each other into the cage, and both no selling it since they're wearing hockey masks. That's perfect. How could you have this match without that spot? Humongous gets Jake's mask off, which does not bode well for Jake. Jake is quickly busted open HUGE. He fires back up, using his boot as a weapon. But Humongous is not to be trifled with. The Nightmare throws a chair into the ring. It backfires, as Jake hits the DDT on the chair. Jake wins! Shame this had seemingly random edits to it, because it was pretty good from what was there. Jake is always known as a great heel, but he was just as good as a sympathetic face.
Terry Gordy vs Steve Williams 5/30/86
This was a semi-final match in a tournament to crown the first ever UWF Champion. HOSSES! Of course, this is also edited to shit. Really can not figure out why they're putting up all of these edited matches on the service. It's about 5 minutes of action. Action is being generous, as nothing happens beyond the most awkward roll up exchange you'll ever see. Gordy uses a pair of brass knux to steal the win and advance in the tournament.
The Von Erichs vs Gary Hart/Killer Brooks/Dutch Mantell
This is a six man tag with two rings. It's also two out of three falls. The rules are, there will be two men in each ring having a match, with the third member of each team in the middle and able to tag in to either ring. That's....a bit convoluted. It also means that half the audience can barely see half the match, and since the hard cam isn't set between the rings, it means you can't see much of the match going on in the back ring as a television viewer. Dutch and Fritz are going at it in the back ring, but the camera is focused on David and Killer Brooks doing nothing. Why not just have a regular six man? Because of the format, there's no kind of match structure or story, so it's just a really busy brawl that you can't see all of. Kevin rolls up Gary Hart in the back ring to win the first fall.
Lol this is a mess. Might as well be a battle royal. Kevin dives over both sets of ropes on Dutch to win the second fall and match.
Dusty Rhodes vs Ivan Koloff Texas Death Coffin Match
A casket match! In the 70s! With Dusty! Legit ass coffin in the ring. Dracula gonna pop up outta that bitch. It will be interesting to see how similar the psychology of the match here is compared to the versions of the match that started in the 90s with Taker. There's obviously a difference being that the coffin is in the ring itself, with the guys jumping over it or kicking it out of the way. Well, there are pins in this, so I don't know exactly what the rules are. I assumed it would be putting your opponent in the coffin, but I'm not sure now. Dusty wins the first fall with a small package OUTTA NOWHERE. Ivan picks up a fall shortly after. I don't understand any of this. A normal Texas death match would be someone gets pinned and then has 10 seconds to get back to their feet. What role does the coffin play in this? There's no ten count, and there is nothing to do with the coffin after each pin. So why bother with the pins at all? There's some brawling on the floor, which sees Ivan busted open via chair shot. Okay, so Dusty is trying to put Ivan in the coffin...is it an automatic win if you get your opponent in the coffin? That would make sense to me, but the death match part of it seems confusing, since the ref did no counting after falls. Dusty also gets busted open. There ends up being 5 falls. The finish comes with Ivan trying a flying knee drop with Dusty on part of the coffin, but Dusty moved, then hit Ivan hit a double punch to knock him into the coffin. Dusty wins! No idea what the Texas death match part was about, but overall it was worked in much the same way it would be worked 25 years later.
NWA On Demand is not a good service.
Of this selection of matches, I'd say the Jake/Humongous cage match was the best of the group. It's just not a good service, and not a good selection of matches. There are only a very small handful of matches that you couldn't find online in the same or better quality.