The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling – 03.26.88
I had that dream again last night for my birthday. You know the one, where Greg Gagne pops out of a cake singing “Happy Birthday” and wearing nothing but his AWA International TV title. I think we’ve all been there.
Taped from Las Vegas, NV
Your hosts are Rod Trongard & Verne Gagne
Soldat Ustinov joins Larry Nelson with a piece of wood and what is apparently “Baron Von Raschke” written on it in Russian. And he introduces new parter TEIJHO KHAN, yes that Teijho Khan, the father of estranged brothers Tony and Nick, and Ustinov breaks the board over his head to show how tough he is. Larry Nelson is so shocked that he yells “OH GEEZ OH CRIMINY!” I should note that it literally looks like someone wrote on the board in crayon to make those supposed Russian letters.
Ricky Rice v. The Hurricane Kid
For those keeping track, Hurricane Kid is the random samoan who looks like Islander Tama. One bit I forget to add from the 1990 Observer yesterday was Dave relating a match between Rice and a young Jerry Lynn on the indies, which someone gave ***1/2, and he watched the match himself and BURIED it. Poor Ricky. Rice puts the Kid down with a shoulderblock and goes to work on the arm while Verne puts over the future of these young Samoans, although even all these years later with the power of the internet and thousands of nerds working as one, we still can’t figure out who the hell any of them were outside of Samoan Joe. Rice works the arm while Verne informs us that he played a lot of hockey, really earning his payday as color commentator. The Kid fights back with a dropkick and tosses Rice, and back in for some samoan offense and choking. I should note that they call the 5:00 mark at 4:00, which is something they would do ALL THE TIME on these shows and it drives me nuts. STOPWATCHES ARE A THING. Rice fights back with his own dropkicks and a crossbody for the pin at 4:48. Ricky is about as flavorful as Minute Rice. With no salt or butter! 0 for 1.
Meanwhile, Baron is unafraid of Ustinov and Khan, because, you know, THE CLAW.
Steve Olsonoski v. Dennis Stamp
Yes, Verne has once again booked Dennis Stamp. A sign in the crowd says “Dennis Stamp, next TV champ”. God I hope not. Greg is literally the only thing holding this promotion together! Steve O works the arm, but Stamp takes him to the corner and chokes him out on the ropes while color man Lee Marshall accuses all the wrestlers out of Amarillo of being “flagrant rulebreakers”. Pretty slanderous there Lee. Stamp tosses Steve O and beats on him as he tries to get back in the ring, but Steve comes back in with a sunset flip for the pin at 3:21, licking Stamp once and for all. 0 for 2.
Meanwhile, Larry Nelson chats with Olympia, OK? She is apparently here to challenge Madusa for the AWA Women’s title, OK? Also she can’t really cut a promo, OK? I have no idea who she is, OK?
Tag team attraction: AWA International TV champion GREG GAGNE & Wahoo McDaniel v. Curt Hennig & The Bodyguard Ace Cowboy Bob Orton
Orton tries to slug on Wahoo in the corner to start, but Wahoo chops him down. Hennig comes in and takes some chops as well, and Wahoo grabs a headlock and then brings in Gagne to continue with that. Rod notes that Greg and Curt have been feuding since before they were even wrestlers, carried over from the feud between their fathers. That’s incredibly sad. Orton comes in and the babyfaces work the arm, but Hennig kicks Wahoo in the face from the apron and tags himself in. Nice. Hennig goes to a facelock and Wahoo reverses to a hammerlock as they trade holds on the mat, but Curt puts the boots to him and Orton comes in with a high knee in the corner, but Wahoo no-sells and brings Greg back in. Thankfully Greg misses a dropkick and Orton drops a knee on him and follows with a backbreaker to finally get some heat going. Hennig with a pair of backbreakers for two, but Greg fights back and slugs Hennig down for two. Orton cuts off a comeback attempt and takes Greg to the corner, but Greg gets the dreaded GAGNE SLEEPER on the champion of the World. Wahoo comes in and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and the ref disqualifies the heels at 7:39 for throwing Greg over the top rope. They should get bonus points for actually making Greg take a bump at this point. 0 for 3. Orton gives Wahoo a piledriver for good measure afterwards. Well I suppose it could have been Greg pinning Curt Hennig so I’ll count myself lucky.
Madusa talks with Larry about the challenge laid out by Olympia, and it’s 1988 so she’s not very good at promos at this point either. But then Greg Gagne and Wahoo McDaniel barge in and they’re sick of this thing with Curt Hennig and Bob Orton and want to settle it once and for all!
Sheik Adnan v. Kevin Collins
Wait, we were supposed to have the rematch between Baron and Sheik this week, I thought? I can’t believe Verne Gagne would false advertise! Adnan claws at the eyes of Collins and you can literally see the front rows are half-empty on the camera side. Why wouldn’t you move people over to at least pretend that it’s full in the Showboat? I’m assuming they were 7 hours into the tapings at this point and people realized that there weren’t any more Greg Gagne matches left to stick around for. Sheik works on a nerve hold while Verne reminisces about Bob Geigel doing that to him years ago. Adnan slams him and goes to the abdominal stretch, and yes, the jobber submits at 3:10 as we have now seen a submission to an abdominal stretch TWO WEEKS IN A ROW. 0 for 4.
Sgt. Slaughter v. Mike Moore
No idea what this is from, as it’s filmed at the Tropicana in Atlantic City but Verne Gagne is doing commentary. Moore grabs a headlock but Sarge backdrops him and follows with a dropkick, but Moore hits him with knees in the corner until Sarge comes back with the cobra cannon and finishes with the cobra clutch at 3:13. I believe, if I’m doing my jobber math correctly, that Moore is the guy who had a brief push in WCW as The Motor City Madman. Not too bad of a squash, in fact. 1 for 5.
The Midnight Rockers v. Badd Company
I thought this was the title change but it’s actually non-title. The title change would come pretty quick after this though because Tanaka and Diamond won the titles in March, actually about a week before this show was airing. The Rockers double-team Diamond and work the arm to start and the crowd is REALLY empty at this point. The crowd thinning out over the course of this taping is a metaphor for the AWA itself at this point. Tanaka comes in and throws a superkick, but Marty takes him down and goes for the arm again, then adds a dropkick and Tanaka backs off. Marty backdrops him and it’s over to Shawn, who leapfrogs Tanaka and slugs him down, only for Diamond to jump him from behind. We get a pier-six brawl and the Rockers send the heels into each other and dropkick them out to the floor in some classic Rock N Roll Express ga-ga. Back in, Shawn works the arm, but Tanaka trips him up and the heels go to work and take turns dropping elbows on his back. Tanaka gets two off that and Diamond gets a gut wrench for two, and they hit a Demolition Elbow for two. Tanaka goes to a chinlock, but Shawn fights back and runs into a flying forearm to put him down again. Diamond cuts off another comeback, but misses a blind charge and crotches himself in the corner before falling back and making the hot tag to Marty. He cleans house with dropkicks and it’s BONZO GONZO as Badd Company collides in the middle, sending Tanaka to the floor to fight with Marty as the ref is bumped. Tanaka runs Marty into the post in the melee while Shawn rolls up Diamond, and Tanaka uses a foreign object to knock out Shawn and Diamond gets the pin at 10:25 in what was accurately described by Rod as a stunning upset at that point. This was a pretty great match to cap off the usual trainwreck of a show. 2 for 6.
The Midnight Rockers rage about the non-title loss to Larry Nelson, and Badd Company isn’t just gonna march in and take their titles! Well actually they did just that.
And that’s the current end of the AWA on the Network! Hopefully they add some more but I’m not holding my breath.