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NWA Hard Times 2 HOT TAKE

December 1, 2021

We thought we knew.

We thought we understood.

Hard Times.

Those two words epitomized the greatness of the late Dusty Rhodes, the common man tasked with fighting to overcome insurmountable odds, overbearing numbers and devious Horsemen. Dusty was the man who raised the call to action. He was the one who threw a lasso around the neck of evil and brought it to its knees. He inspired loyalty and with one look to the left or the right, one flurry of Bionic elbows, one clubbing series of punches, he could bring untold thousands to their feet, cheering his every victory.

Beneath it all, however, we didn't really know what Hard Times truly were. We could never understand the pressure to perform, the endless need for creativity, the struggle to trudge ever forward against the elements that surrounded him and the doubts within. The Corporate Cowboy, the American Dream, the Bull of the Woods may have touted that it was his lightning and his thunderbolt, but it wasn't.

It was ours. He was just blessed and cursed with being the man of the people who spoke for every single one of us. He was the one who was blessed with the ability to speak to all of us and to stand forth against all who challenged him, for us.

The last several years, we have all faced Hard Times. We'll never know what went through the heart, mind and soul of Dusty Rhodes and others like him, who battled through the dirt, the muck and the smoke to have their arms raised in victory, not for money or titles, but for a belief, a revolution, a feeling from within to accomplish the greater good, to inspire, to stand with the Gods while maintaining the humility of a mortal.

Like Dusty Rhodes, we have all attempted to battle our way out of the haze of oppression, of fear and whether we are combatants in the National Wrestling Alliance or the spectators who cheer those fighters to victory, we have all been united as one in facing Hard Times.

This Saturday, December 4th, the Peachtree State of Georgia is once again the epicenter of the hottest wars and the most unbridled rivalries as the National Wrestling Alliance presents Hard Times 2, live on FITE, for Dusty, for you, for me, for all of us.

Hard Times 2 will feature the following:


Over the last several years under NWA President William Corgan, the legendary NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship, the Ten Pounds of Gold has once again become the most acclaimed and cherished prize in the sport of professional wrestling. For much of the last year, Trevor Murdoch, the everyman who has fought to put food on his family's plate, has given chase of Nick Aldis to finally achieve the dream of every person that has stepped foot inside a squared circle, that moment of absolute bliss where you get to call yourself champion of the World. That perfect moment, however, was soon shattered when Murdoch's former friend Mike Knox secreted himself inside a steel cage where Murdoch was greeting the NWA faithful, blindsiding and beating the champion down.

Even in a world where decorum is nothing but a word, Knox took the dirtiest, cheapest route to ascend to the throne, seeking his own muddied moment of egotistical bliss to displace the hard fought route Trevor Murdoch used to become the NWA Worlds Champion. At Hard Times 2 on FITE, Knox, having already beaten Murdoch into a corner, will find out what happens when Kansas City's finest fights back for his family, his friends and his dignity while the Ten Pounds of Gold hang in the balance.


While the National Wrestling Alliance is not just steeped in tradition, it literally defines the tradition of professional wrestling, it has never shirked away from the progression of the sport and those fine athletes who define the different eras of its greatness.

Over the last several years, the NWA's Women's division has rightfully taken center stage. Whether it be the Empowerrr PPV, the evolving story of Kamille or the return of legendary veterans like Mickie James, the classic tales of battle and the overcoming of the odds inside and beyond the ring trace back to the days of Mildred Burke and continue to enrapture the audience as they rise and fall with the stars of today.

Hard Times 2 will celebrate all of these wonderful women, stars who have battled against adversity and even each other to prove their toughness, to shine like stars across the cosmos and to leave the ring with the thing every athlete cherishes the most, the deep sigh of content that comes when victory and self respect intersect.

Hard Times 2 will celebrate the greatness of Jazz, one of the toughest women of the modern era, who captured championships, quantified extremism in the ring, broke barriers in the industry and shattered opponents across the globe. As the competitors of today and tomorrow rise to enter combat, they are all shadowed by the greatness of the former NWA Women's World Champion, Jazz, who will be honored in a special in-ring tribute celebrating her legacy.

Then, Jazz and the collected global FITE audience will all stand witness to two prestigious Championship matches at Hard Times 2.

Impact Wrestling Knockouts Champion Mickie James has made her home here in the National Wrestling Alliance, both as a competitor and as the Executive Producer of NWA Empowerrr. Her rivalry with Deonna Purrazzo resulted in James capturing yet another Championship in Impact Wrestling and now she makes history yet again, defending that championship against AEW's Kiera Hogan. Hogan has been one of the most resourceful and versatile competitors across numerous leagues in recent years, but can she overcome one of the NWA's definitive fighters? James has been in the zone in recent weeks, taking down Mercedes Martinez in Impact Wrestling and helping to navigate the NWA Women's division as it charges towards 2022. In order to hit the New Year unblemished as the reigning Knockouts Champion, James will have to overcome a truly hungry Kiera Hogan.

Not to be outdone by any singles bout, The NWA Women's Tag Team Division will be on full display at Hard Times 2 as Marti Belle & Allysin Kay, the Hex step into a three-team war in defense of their NWA Women's World Tag Team Championship. Lady Frost, who has turned heads around the world in recent months will align herself with The Russian Crush, Natalia Markova, creating an international superpower inside the ring as they seek to curse the Hex into oblivion. Not to be ignored is the ever resourceful and vibrant Kylie Rae, one of the NWA's most beloved combatants as she unites with Tootie Lynn, who comes off an incredible NWA Empowerrr performance. While The Hex have had an iron-clad grasp on the championships, Hard Times could indeed be defined by having to contend with four very different challengers and having to strategize a way beyond them, all at once. Belle and Kay have their work cut out for them.

Then, of course, the ultimate prize in the National Wrestling Alliance for all female competitors will be on the line as Kamille walks the aisle, carrying with her the legacy that dates all the way back to 1937 as The Brickhouse will attempt to charge through the legendary Melina Perez. Since coming to the National Wrestling Alliance, Perez has continued to build upon the legacy she carved for herself in the WWE, taking down foes and leaving chaos in her wake. If there is one competitor who has battled to overcome injury, setbacks and indeed, Hard Times of her own making, it is Melina. Now, she stands at the precipice of everything she needs to once again scream to the world that she is Hollywood's shining star and that all the paparazzi should center around her. In order to achieve those three glorious seconds needed to ascend to that promised land, however, Perez will need to somehow figure out the riddle of the sphinx by breaking down the seemingly indestructible Kamille before falling prey to the champion herself. Hard Times, indeed.


From Danny Hodge to Chavo Guerrero Sr. to Jushin Liger, the NWA Junior Heavyweight Championship has always found its way around the waist of the most worthy professional wrestlers across the history of the world, being passed from champion to champion as a baton epitomizing the greatest technical finesse, scientific strategy and, in rare cases, downright dirty tactics.

As the sport of professional wrestling ebbed and flowed, the NWA Junior Heavyweight Championship sadly slipped into suspended animation in 2017. Now, several years later, the magnificence of Junior Heavyweight Wrestling, the style from which Cruiserweights and X-Division athletes alike were all birthed from will take center stage at Hard Times as the NWA moved forward in restoring the division and the championship to its former elegance and might.

With the NWA Junior Heavyweight Championship tournament forthcoming, Hard Times 2 will feature several matches spotlighting and celebrating the division while also testing the competitors involved, putting them through a grueling initiation as they seek to claim the revitalized Championship Gold.

First, the teacher will meet the student when Austin Aries, the brash competitor who has earned championship gold in every weight division imaginable storms Atlanta to face Rhett Titus, a renowned competitor who has continuously evolved and remade himself to evolve every forward with a true foundation in the honor of professional wrestling. Having learned under Aries early in his career, this bout is a full circle for Titus, as if Daniel LaRusso found himself tasked with battling Mr. Miyagi. For Aries, this match is a chance to once again grandstand and spout his greatness. To the victor go the spoils, a chance to qualify for the NWA Junior Heavyweight Championship title battle.

For an unlucky dozen of other Junior Heavyweight combatants, Hard Times 2 means they will be plunged into an unknown Squid Game that could be their making or their undoing. Whether it be veteran competitors like CW Anderson or Homicide, young upstarts like Kerry Morton and PJ Hawx, worldwide stars seeking to add another notch on their belt like Ariya Dairvari, journeyman tough guys like Jeremiah Plunkett or Luke Hawx or talents seeking to shock the world like Darius Lockhart, Alex Taylor, Sal Rinaruo or Victor Benjamin, all find themselves equal, having to battle through a Gauntlet where no one knows who the next entrant will be. It could even come down to father vs. son in a battle to earn their place as a finalist in the NWA Junior Heavyweight Championship Tournament. For all the dreams of all twelve, it's either going to be glory or annihilation, live on FITE.


In the annals of professional wrestling, the title fights have always brought the most spectacle, the largest amounts of attention, the electric intensity, the majesty of the mighty. Whether it be Parades of Champions, Novembers to Remembers, Starrcades or Showdowns on Superstations, these mega events were defined by that moment where the champion and challenger faced off, waiting for the bell to ring, signifying that for all witnesses and observers gathered, Christmas morning had at long last arrived.

Hard Times 2 will present a true championship parade, an endless procession of title belts from not just the National Wrestling Alliance, but beyond.

The NWA National Champion Chris Adonis, the master of the Masterlock full nelson, steps into the right with the unbridled horrific might of Judais, a beast who can only be leashed by one man. Unfortunately for the wrestling world at large, that one man is the most sinister of ministers himself, Jim Mitchell, who contains no conscience and retains no regret. The intense fighter from the Heart of Darkness, Judais is seeking the greatest victory of his career, but to do so he'll have to overpower and pummell Adonis, who has fought on the largest stages afforded to professional wrestlers, emerging victorious time and time again. Let's not kid ourselves here, either, Adonis has proven himself time and time again to be a warrior without valor. He showed the world time and time that like other members of Strictly Business, he will do anything within his power to achieve victory and retain his position of power. This may be a story crafted in which competitors can use their aggressive power early in an attempt to enforce their will against the other, true beasts inside the ring trying to outmatch the other without a care in the world or a regard for the rules.

While the state of Ring of Honor remains in flux, the reigning and defending ROH World Tag Team Champions The OGK, Mike Bennett and Matt Taven have staked their claim to greatness of late in the National Wrestling Alliance. At Hard Times 2, promotional boundaries will once again be shattered, as Aron Stevens and his mountain of muscle, JR Kratos will challenge for the ROH Championships. With ROH's Final Battle: End of Era coming ever closer, could the entire balance of power within professional wrestling change with two of the NWA's most ruthless reshaping the entire battle ground?

The legendary Austin Idol has shown there is zero he won't attempt to insure the NWA World's Television Championship remains with his charge Tyrus. Idol went as far as to interfere to prevent the masked man known only as Cyon from earning a chance at Tyrus' coveted gold. Cyon rebounded, earning a title shot by virtue of being a member of the winning team of the NWA Championship series. Ever the schemer, Tyrus laid out that the bout would have no disqualifications and even no time limit, stipulations that would tip the scales in favor of the defending champion. Seeking to balance the scales of justice, NWA President Billy Corgan shocked the world by decreeing that The Pope, Elijah Burke, would be the third man inside the ring as the special guest referee. Hard Times 2 on FITE promises to contain one of the most important TV Championship defenses in recent history.

Of course, the end is indeed here for The End. Having battled their way through a grueling championship contender tournament, upending Luke and PJ Hawx at the end, they now find themselves under the spotlight afforded by a bout for the NWA World Tag Team Championship, taking on luchadors supreme, the defending Champions Mecha Wolf 450 and Bestia 666. Odinson and Parrow have ravaged their way across the National Wrestling Alliance since September 7th in a quest to become the best. On December 4th, they enter the ring and ignite combat against a team that is truly their polar opposite in terms of style but their equals in heart. When the smoke clears, the Tag Team Champions standing tall, no matter who they may be, will certainly have proven themselves worthy of the NWA Legacy.


The National Wrestling Alliance is the haven and safeguard of all things great about professional wrestling, both home and abroad. Hard Times 2 will see one of those unique dream matches that diehard fans could spend generations debating over who might emerge the victor if it never took place, but live on FITE, British legend Doug Williams will touch down in Atlanta and take to the ring in what could truly be one of the last great matches of 2020 as he takes on second-generation superstar Colby Corino. It is nearly impossible to imagine what it is like following in the footsteps of a former NWA Worlds Champion, but if there is someone who has laid out the blueprint for doing it while establishing his own unique identity and independence through work ethic and the grappling arts, it is Colby Corino.

Since coming to the NWA, Corino has tested and bested some of the best competitors to populate the league and now, he seeks to once again steal the show and have his arm raised in victory against one of the most heralded, perfect professional wrestlers who have ever walked on God's Green Earth. From his early days in NWA Hammerlock UK to Impact Wrestling and beyond, Williams has broken men and shattered careers. He is not traveling across the world at this stage of his life unless it's an opponent and a challenge worthy of his time and interest. Williams is coming to break Colby Corino if he can. Meanwhile, Corino is coming to once again outlast and outperform in order to bask in the NWA spotlight.

Corino vs. Williams may be a purist wrestling fan's dream, but the issues between former NWA Worlds Champion Nick Aldis and his Hard Times 2 opposition, Thom Latimer have descended into Nightmares for all involved. For a long, glorious period of time, Aldis and his brethren in Strictly Business controlled the flow of all things within the NWA. With the Championship came the power, the glory and the clout.

Once Aldis' long reign as NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion ended in the climax of NWA 73 at the hands of Trevor Murdoch, the balance of power within Strictly Business began to shift, temperatures rising and alliances crumbling. On October 5th, live on NWA Powerrr on FITE, Aldis was attacked and left for dead by his former stablemates. From there, Latimer targeted and attacked Aldis both home and abroad, once traveling all the way to Poland to blindside and beat down his former friend. With blood boiling to the point one can taste the copper in the air, Aldis vs. Latimer will face off, officially at Hard Times 2.

With all seconds and associates banned from ringside, this grudge match may be settled once and for all, perhaps even within the legal regulations of the ring. NWA President Billy Corgan has proclaimed that should either man be disqualified for going beyond the sanctioned confines of the National Wrestling Alliance, they will be suspended for two months.

For Nick Aldis, Hard Times exemplified everything he has suffered through in recent months. A fall from grace. The loss of glory. The destruction of all he held dear. With a victory over Latimer, Aldis can signify that he is on the rebound and back in pursuit of Sweet Charlotte. A loss, however, could prove to be impossible to overcome, not just in the eyes of the fans but within Aldis' psyche as well. Nick Aldis has always lived his life as if he is the absolute best professional wrestler in the world. So, what happens if that undeniable fact becomes shattered evermore, especially at the hands of someone who betrayed Aldis when his support was needed the most. A victory for Latimer may prove to seal the power vacuum that has erupted since NWA 73, laying Thom's foundation for future victory and sealing Aldis' fate, once and for all. Hard Times indeed.

Not everything needs to feel so bleak, however. While Hard Times are upon the stellar competitors of the National Wrestling Alliance this Saturday live on FITE, the NWA's own personal Santa Claus, hardcore legend Mick Foley will be making a special appearance. Even in the darkest of times, the bleakest of nights, the spirit of the holidays shines through and if there is a shining light in terms of excellence in professional wrestling, it is Mrs. Foley's baby boy.

One more time, to close out 2020, The National Wrestling Alliance takes to the ring to face Hard Times head on. They are doing it for you, for me, for the legacy of the NWA, the love of the game, to prove themselves the best, to stand forthright as champions and because it's what Dusty Rhodes would have done.

Hard Times 2 on FITE is upon us. Put on your best Bunkhouse gear and buckle down, because the spirit of all that is great in professional wrestling will once again bestow us with the gift of the king of sports, the National Wrestling Alliance.

Mike Johnson is the lead reporter for PWInsider.com and has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He can be found on Twitter @MikePWInsider and MikeJohnsonWrites.com.