The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling – 02.20.88
Taped from Minot, ND. The city’s motto is, I believe, “Minot? Why not!” Actually after the world stops being so infected with disease I want to go down to Minot and do some shopping so I shouldn’t make fun of them so much. I also want to visit Fargo, because DUH.
Your hosts are Rod Trongard & Donna Gagne
Bodyguard Ace Cowboy Bob Orton Junior v. Ricky Rice
Orton takes Rice down and stomps him on the mat, but Ricky runs him into the post and goes to work on the arm. Donna notes that Rice prefers wrestling with superior talent because then when you win, victory is sweeter. Obviously a Cobra Kai man. Rice dropkicks him out of the ring for his bit of shine, but Orton takes him down to the floor and COMES OFF THE TOP ROPE with a forearm onto Rice, which is apparently a DQ at 2:48. In what universe is that a DQ? The opponent wasn’t prone and the move wasn’t illegal. I guess in Verne’s mind anything where you leave your feet was a dangerous highspot. Anyway, Orton also hits a superplex for good measure and continues beating on the kid, and then adds a piledriver, which was apparently invented by Bob Orton Sr. according to Donna. I’m gonna have to call bullshit on that one. Regardless, he made young Ricky into Rice Krispies here so I’m gonna give it a point. Well, I mean, it’s the AWA so budget-wise it’s more likely generic toasted rice cereal from Wal-Mart. Unless they somehow end up doing a wrestling show sponsored by an actual cereal company someday BUT HOW LIKELY IS THAT LOL? 1 for 1.
Last week: Main event superstar Greg Gagne defends his WCW International Board of Directors Saskatchewan Hardcore TV Gold Belt title against Adrian Adonis and it ends in a DQ win by Adrian. Amazingly, they don’t even hold up the title and have Stanley Blackburn rule on it the next week! So they actually do clarify the rule, which is that yes, the title can change hands on a DQ, but only if the referee determines that the champion intentionally got himself disqualified in an attempt to save the title, which apparently is not what happened there and so Greg is still champion. So they screwjobbed a screwjob.
The Midnight Rockers v. Mike Smith & Mark Wagner
The Rockers were your AWA tag team champions at this point, although that reign would not last long because Vince was calling. They double-team Mike Smith, and he’s a tall drink of water who manages to slam Shawn and drop a leg on him, but he goes up and misses a senton. So the Rockers clear the ring and Smith lets Wagner give it a try. So the Rockers hit him with a double DDT and finish him at 2:30. More DDTs? What am I watching, ECW? 1 for 2.
Larry Nelson chats with Shawn Michaels as a solo for some reason, and his voice sounds like he was just up for 36 hours straight partying. You know, theoretically. And then Soldat Ustinov bursts in to cut a promo, but Nelson just brushes him off.
Soldat Ustinov v. Daryl Olson
Verne needs to stop ordering Russians from AliExpress. Ustinov beats on Olson in the corner and biels him out of the corner, but misses an elbow and Olson makes a sad comeback attempt before Ustinov finishes him off with the body vice at 2:00. I still don’t get who thought making this guy into a “Russian” was a good idea. He looks like a redneck mechanic from Kentucky. Unsurprisingly, like most Russians in wrestling, he’s actually from Minnesota. 1 for 3.
Wahoo McDaniel v. Jim Thomas
Thomas is pretty built and has the American flag on his ass like Apollo Creed so I’m shocked he didn’t get more of a look. I can’t find any information on him so I assume he didn’t stick around very long. Thomas stalls for a bit and then fakes a handshake and hauls off and mockingly chops Wahoo before running away, which probably won’t work out for him. So Wahoo chops him a bunch of times and pins him at 2:43. Simple story here, and it was fine. 2 for 4.
Larry Nelson chats with Madusa Micelli about her man’s impending title shot. That man is “Mr. Magnificent” Kevin Kelly, who looks like this in 1988…
What drugs did this idiot do between 1988 and 1992 that he ended up looking like Nailz? Seriously, man.
AWA World title: Curt Hennig v. “Mr. Magnificent” Kevin Kelly
Kelly always had a weird look during this phase of his career, with really jacked upper body and then skinny legs that make him look like a He-Man figure or something. And no, I haven’t watched He-Man yet, I’ve still got 4 episodes of Cobra Kai to get through first. Curt offers a handshake and Kelly overpowers him and offers a muscle pose, actually getting over with the Minot crowd as a result. Hennig whips him into the corner, but Kelly comes out with a clothesline and Hennig bails to think it over. I’m pretty confused about the alignments here because Hennig was 100% a heel at this point and so was Kelly, and in fact Madusa was frequently in Hennig’s orbit as well. But I guess Kelly is playing babyface tonight. Back in the ring, they slug it out and Kelly sweeps the leg…
…to take over. Fucking Kreese, by the way. I hate that fucker. Anyway, you don’t have to ask Curt twice to take an ass-over-teakettle bump off that. Next up, Curt tries some chops in the corner, but Kelly no-sells as there’s really not much of anything actually happening in this match. So Curt takes him down and goes after the leg, wrapping the knee around the post to take over. Given how skinny his legs are, you could cripple him like that! Curt works the leg and uses the ropes for leverage, but the ref catches him, so he goes to a spinning toehold and then turns it into some kind of Indian (sorry, GUARDIAN) deathlock. Yes, I know, don’t even bother with the “actually…” comments. They slug it out and Kelly makes the comeback with a backdrop, clearly playing babyface. Back elbow gets two. Powerslam gets two. Kelly tries another slam, but Curt grabs the ropes to block it, so the ref kicks Hennig’s hands off and inadvertently causes Curt to fall on top for the pin with a handful of tights at 10:32. So I guess if Kelly is “Mr. Magnificent”, then Curt Hennig can call himself Mr….I dunno, what’s something better than Magnificent? I’ll have to think about it and get back to you. Good match once it got going, with a hot crowd, actually. Hot take: Curt Hennig is a hell of a wrestler. 3 for 5.
Larry Nelson brings out Red Bastien for your random interview of the week. Did he just happen to be hanging around backstage? And that’s where they end the show! Because AWA, where RED BASTIEN gets a main event interview slot in 1988.
God I love this show, and sometimes it even produces really good matches, too, like this week.