The SmarK Rant for AWF Warriors of Wrestling – Episode 1
GODDAMN YOU MANIACS MADE ME DO THIS
So yeah, this is the “famous” American Wrestling Federation, promoted by Paul Alperstein in the mid-90s, featuring whatever also-rans and leftovers from the Big Two that they could scrape together.
Taped from somewhere in the Chicago area, I assume. I have no idea what the taping or airdate was, just that it’s sometime in 1994.
Your hosts are Mick Karch & Terry Taylor
The Ultimate Destroyer v. Tito Santana
I will say that the production values are pretty good by standards of the time. Although Taylor calling Tito “one of the most popular young stars of our time” is hilarious on a lot of levels. The matches are contested in rounds for whatever reason, going for that lost World of Sport audience I guess. They trade some normal mat wrestling stuff to start while the really obvious canned crowd reaction goes crazy for the headlocks and go-behinds. Destroyer gets some less than Ultimate offense, but Tito hits him with an atomic drop and Destroyer goes over the top rope on the bump. Taylor declares that it’s an immediate DQ, but sadly nothing about this match is immediate, and Tito comes back in and makes a comeback with a dropkick as time expires on round 1 at 4:00.
Round 2 and the announcers will not shut up about their “innovations” like a clock in the corner and a girl walking around with a round card. Taylor thinks this break between rounds is great. “Nowhere else do you see this! It’s a fresh start! Round #1 doesn’t count!” SO WHAT’S THE FUCKING POINT OF THE ROUND SYSTEM? Tito makes another comeback with a dropkick and finishes with the flying forearm at 6:14. So yeah, this did a tremendous job of not explaining whatsoever why the round system is a thing and why it’s any better than what every other wrestling promotion in the world was doing. Also we learned that promoter / money mark Paul Alperstein is the figurehead president of his own promotion, who makes all the rules and enforces law and order, because of course he is. *1/2.
Meanwhile, Killer Ken Resnick declares Tito “the answer to trivia questions for years to come”, and Tito stops by to do a promo about how the AWF is “good old wrestling” and the round system will favor “tacticians” like himself who are in great shape. He says as he’s sucking wind after a 5 minute match.
Greg Valentine v. Billy Joe Eaton
Valentine is managed by our first generic fat manager of the show, Rico Suave. I’m assuming he was succeeded by R.U. Jimmy Ray sometime in the early 2000s. “By nature, Valentine has a very plodding and methodical ring style” notes Karch, really putting over the young talent on display here. Eaton works on the arm, but Hammer clubs him down with a clothesline and a gutbuster to take over. Suave, at ringside, is using a portable phone to “call 911” according to Taylor, just in case you were confused about who they’re ripping off badly. Valentine beats on Eaton in the corner while we get an inset promo from Chris Adams, who never met an indie in the 90s that he didn’t like, and Valentine finishes with the figure-four at 3:05. *
Tony Atlas v. Sonny Rogers
Yes, we’re a couple of years after even WCW at their low point was like “Nah, we’re gonna pass on using you on TV” and here’s Tony Atlas back on TV. Rogers tries to get some offense on Atlas, but Tony just lets him bounce off a few times and then throws him around while this poor guy has to hurl himself around the ring to pretend like Atlas can still move. Rogers flies to the floor off of nothing in particular and buys some time out there while the announcers remind us again that President Paul Alperstein is the man of law and order in the AWF. Rogers rakes the eyes a bunch of times and drops an elbow for two as I’m shocked that Atlas even agreed to go the ground, but that ends quickly as he slowly tosses Rogers around and the jobber again has to defy physics by taking bumps from phantom blows until the round expires at 3:50.
We take a break and return with round 2 as Atlas gets a clothesline and we get an inset promo from JOHNNY GUNN, who promises to “house quake the nation”. Is that a threat? I feel threatened by that. Atlas sends Rogers into the turnbuckle and he flies back like Shawn Michaels in the Hogan match, and then Atlas hits him with a press slam and splashes him for the pin at 5:39. This was so sad and yet hilarious to watch at the same time. *1/2 for Rogers desperately trying to get any kind of a match out of the immobile Altas.
Meanwhile, Killer Ken introduces the man, the myth, the legend, PAUL ALPERSTEIN, and he’s here to enforce the rules. No throwing anyone over the top rope! God forbid. Kids these days HATE when people go over the top rope in wrestling.
Nails v. Rick Thunder
Yes, we’re two years removed from Kevin Wacholz getting drummed out of the WWF and he’s still desperately clinging to the gimmick. I have no idea how he didn’t get sued here because he’s literally using the same name and gear as his WWF run. Nails tosses him and runs him into the railing and then tosses a stool at him before beating on him with a chair, and that’s a DQ at 1:45. 1/4* because Rick Thunder is a great name. The beating continues after the bell as the announcers appeal to the highest power in the land: PAUL ALPERSTEIN. Sadly he doesn’t make the save.
Meanwhile, Killer Ken chats with Oliver Humperdink, who presents his new tag team: The Texas Hangmen. Oh yeah, it wouldn’t be a second rate promotion without the Texas Hangmen.
Sgt. Slaughter v. Ken McGuire
Oh my god this show has a talent pool old enough to headline a Saudi Arabia PPV. Slaughter is at least in better shape than the end of his WWF run. Frankly I’m shocked he didn’t try to get a WCW deal for another run with Hogan. And of course, OF COURSE, where there’s Slaughter, there’s Sheik Adnan doing an inset promo. They trade forearms for a bit and Sarge knees him in the gut while the announcers fat-shame the jobber, and Slaughter finishes with the Slaughter cannon and cobra clutch at 2:28. Considering Slaughter was probably wearing a girdle to keep his gut in check at this point, I’m not sure that making fun of the flabby jobber is such a great look. DUD.
Meanwhile, Slaughter stops by to talk with Ken and you know that he’s putting over the greatness of Paul Alperstein!
Koko B. Ware v. Bobby Bradley
Bradley is not slightly more famous enhancement guy Bob Bradley, aka Battle Kat. Koko still hadn’t even changed his puffy pants after getting fired by the WWF, and he hits Bradley with a dropkick and drops a fist on him. Bradley bails to escape this assault and then takes over with some biting in the corner and chokes him out on the ropes for two. Bradley with a chinlock, but Koko escapes from that, so Bobby chinlocks him again. But then Koko reverses to a sleeper as the round ends at 4:00.
Second round and Bradley chokes him out with his own suspenders while we get an inset promo from Mr. Hughes as we run through a veritable who’s who of everyone who was available for a discounted price at the time of the taping. Bradley with a facelock, but Koko fights out of that somehow and makes the comeback with a half-assed missile dropkick for two. Brainbuster finishes at 6:38. *
Meanwhile, Killer Ken chats with Rico Suave, who is talking about “a woman with a computer” at ringside for Greg’s match earlier, which is absolutely not a thing that we saw. And then he jokes about how Greg beat “Ronny Vegas, who was so screwed up that he went back to Atlantic City”, and again, that’s not who he wrestled. So I presume this was the crack production team already messing up the taping order on the very first show.
So yeah, that was the first show of the AWF. The main thing that jumped out at me, besides spending the entire hour putting over the promoter, is that there were no actual storylines or feuds or angles or any kind of hook for next week. Just a bunch of old fat WWF castoffs looking for a payday and doing squashes, with inset promos promising another group of old fat WWF castoffs next week. Also the round system didn’t even come into play, like at all. Like you couldn’t even do one match where it went to a three round draw and the ref has to make a decision?
But there’s only 18 episodes so yeah, I’m gonna keep watching. The production values are at least good and it’s an easy watch.