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How Ken Anderson Rose Again In The NWA

Shaun Pond looks at the rise of Ken Anderson in the NWA.

There’s a surprising star enjoying a career re-emergence in the NWA and his name is Mr. Anderson… Anderson.

It was over a decade ago that Ken Kennedy first appeared on WWE programming. From the off, he looked poised to launch directly into the main event. He battled with the biggest names around, including Shawn Michaels and Eddie Guerrero. He won the Money in the Bank. Surely the next stop was to be immortalised as a World Champion. Well, no, not for Kennedy it wasn’t.

A combination of injuries, drug scandals, and unsafe in-ring work led to the brash youngster being released by WWE in 2009.

That could quite easily have been all she wrote for his still embryonic career. But luckily for him, TNA was in the business of taking on any and all WWE castoffs. He debuted there with the name he has used ever since, Mr. Anderson.

Under the TNA banner, it didn’t take the unapologetic A-hole long to establish himself as a bonafide main eventer. He worked with Kurt Angle, Abyss, and Rob Van Dam in very short order, coming close to grabbing the TNA World Title in the process. He continued that momentum through a long feud with a heel Jeff Hardy and his Immortal stablemates, eventually becoming a two-time World Champion working as both a face and a heel.

Once the bloom fell off the rose, Anderson settled into a Big Show-esque role whereby he flopped between heel and face more times than anyone should be bothered to count. He was a member of Aces and Eights as well as being a rival of leader Bully Ray. He worked with Samuel Shaw and James Storm as time went on, but it was clear that fans were over Anderson as a star. Eventually, he was fired from TNA for failing an on the spot drug test in 2016.

After that point, he worked a one-off match for ROH and some other sporadic independent matches but was largely considered inactive. Until 2019, that is, when he reappeared on a major stage by popping up as a partner for Colt Cabana on NWA Powerrr.

Matches with Eli Drake and James Storm have followed as Anderson continues to be featured prominently.

The question is, how has a man who most were bored with over half a decade ago become a favourite once again?

The answer may well lay in the simple, old school presentation favoured by the NWA. It’s a style that doesn’t demand an awful lot from wrestlers. Compared to the breakneck speed of the work in AEW and beyond. It has allowed Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson to reign supreme once more and has provided a platform to rugged performers such as Trevor Murdoch. It has also heavily favoured the severely limited Anderson.

He was never a wrestler who could be relied upon to turn in a five-star classic. His charisma is what saw him reach the heights he did, and that is what NWA showcases best. He is given time to talk, which he does very well, and in doing so he has rebuilt his connection with the fans. He doesn’t need to be putting his body through hell keeping up with the likes of Fenix and Kushida to get over because no one else is. Anderson simply needs to do what he’s always done best.

Moreover, NWA is a nostalgia-fest for the most part. A very good one, but it is still a programme that revels in the past far more than it looks to the future and so a familiar face with the cache of Anderson has a perfect home there. Many of the fans in attendance want to relive the olden days of wrestling described by Jim Cornette. So someone like Anderson, who wasn’t around then but is very much of that ilk, is someone that they can take into their hearts.

Given time he may well return to his past poor behaviours and ruin this third chance at glory, but for now, Anderson does seem to be carving out a respectable run for himself in his new home. A likely feud with Colt Cabana should be fun after he properly turns heel once more. He isn’t going to be lifting Sweet Charlotte, but he has, against all odds, risen again.

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You can find the author of this article on Twitter @Impers0nalJesus. Thanks for reading!

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