Flashback: AWA on ESPN Classics – March 20, 2008

AWA Championship Wrestling
ESPN Classics
March 20, 2008
Doug Maynard

Happy Hump Day to everyone. It’s Wednesday night (or technically Thursday morning ) and it’s time for some classic wrestling action from the AWA. Yeppers! It’s AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPN Classics. I’m Doug Maynard and I’m the man who recaps the classic AWA goodness each and every night so that you don’t have to. But if you get the chance watch, you should. It is that damn good.

The action is coming from the Henry J. Keiser Convention Center in Oakland, CA. It’s the AWA “Battle At The Bay” and was taped on June 28, 1986. Rod Trongard and Lord James Blears are the men who are calling the action from ringside. And Larry Nelson is the man who asks all the probing questions. And now that we know who everyone is, let’s get right to the action.

ALI KHAN (with Sheik Adnan El Kassie) vs. EARTHQUAKE FERRIS

It’s Al Khan, the wild man from Afghanistan, versus the part-time referee and home-town boy, Earthquake Ferris. This guy (Ferris) is a big boy and gets a big pop from the crowd as he comes out, but he’s one of the worst wrestlers I’ve ever seen. His precision and technique make Boris Zhukov look like Ric Flair in comparison. And Khan looks as if he forgot to change his flea collar as he keeps scratching his beard.

The two huge men do the “shoulder off the ropes” thing and neither looks ready to budge. Ferris manages to shove Khan to the mat and scores with a backdrop. Khan rolls to the floor and takes a quick breather. Khan comes back in the ring and unloads a kick to the mid-section before clubbing away at Ferris. Choke by Khan as he steps on the throat of Ferris. Khan locks in the chin lock of doom.

Ferris fights his way up, but Khan grabs the tights to pull him back to the mat. Khan misses a clothesline, but hits a “Shades of Harley Race” running knee. Neckbreaker and Khan goes back to the chin lock again. Ferris fights back with some punches and whips Khan into the corner. Sloppy “Stinger Splash” in the corner by Ferris. He tries it again, but runs into a boot by Khan. Out of nowhere, Ferris hits a sloppy power-slam and gets a quick pin.

Winner: Earthquake Ferris

After the match, Khan and his manager, Sheik Adnan attacked Ferris and threw him to the floor. Mr. Ferris – meet Mr. Ringpost. Adnan and Khan slam Ferris into the steel ring post before heading towards the back as the referee checks on Ferris.

I have to wonder, after watching this match, just how Ferris kept a job. He was lost in that ring and very sloppy. I guess someone must have had some incriminating pictures of Verne Gagne stashed away? Who knows? But this guy is just bad and so was the match. There was no chemistry between the two wrestlers and Khan’s stalling and heel tactics couldn’t save this stinker of a match.

JAY YORK vs. “SUPERFLY” JIMMY SNUKA

Larry Nelson introduces Snuka as being from “The Island of Samoa”. Snuka is from the Fiji Islands and it even says so in the graphic under his name. I guess someone forgot to update his notes before making the ring introduction. Lord Blears and Trongard even mention that Snuka is from the Fiji Islands as the match begins.

York is in the ring and is complaining to the referee about Snuka’s bare feet. The referee goes to check something and York attacks Snuka with a cheap-shot ambush and some clubbing blows. York applies his “Alaskan Cobra Clutch” to Snuka. Snuka flips York around, but can’t escape. Snuka finally powers out and locks in a body-scissors. Snuka hits two big “butt-busters” on York. I swear, this is the first time I’ve ever seen this happen in a men’s wrestling match. Usually, only the ladies do the “butt-buster” thing. I guess Snuka & York were feeling a little sweet that day. York reverses the body-scissors into a single-leg crab. Snuka gets up, but York ties up the arm and takes Snuka down. York chokes Snuka on the ropes and finally Snuka has had enough. Dropkick and some chops by the “Superfly”. A big kick and Snuka climbs the ropes and delivers a sloppy cross-body press to get the pin.

Winner: Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka

Another sloppy match, but I liked this one better than the first. Ever since I realized who York was, and what he did to Johnny Valentine as payback for a vicious prank, he’s become one of my favorite old-time performers. Plus he showed a few really good moves during the match. The match still sucked, but Jay “The Alaskan” York has certainly earned my respect as a performer.

Larry Nelson talks to Jimmy Snuka. Nelson again introduces Snuka as a Samoan, but Snuka is too out there to notice or care. He puts over Greg Gagne as his tag team partner and says that whenever Gagne needs him, he’s there “brother”. Nelson brings up Stan Hansen and the AWA World Championship. Snuka says he’s been around for a long time (and 21 years later, is still around) and if he has to start at the bottom and work his way up, he’ll do it, “brother”. Snuka doesn’t need to be allowed to talk much. But for him, it was an OK interview, brother.

AWA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
STAN “THE LARIAT” HANSEN vs. CRUSHER JERRY BLACKWELL

It’s a World Championship match? Why is it not the main event? I don’t get that. Oh yeah, its Blackwell as the opponent. ‘Nuff said! Hansen attacks with fists and elbows and kicks. Blackwell fights back with punches and a headbutt. Jerry clubs away at Stan and Hansen rolls to the floor. As Hansen tries to get back into the ring, he’s introduced to the turnbuckle by Blackwell and gets pounded by another headbutt. Stan falls back to the floor. Blackwell reaches down and grabs Hansen and unloads some punches to the head. Hansen reaches into the ring and grabs Blackwell’s leg, pulling the bigger man down to the mat. Hansen with some clubbing forearms from the outside of the ring. Stan takes a bite out of Blackwell’s head. Hansen is already busted open and pouring out blood, probably from the headbutts earlier. Hansen finally gets back into the ring and scores with a knee. Hansen charges into the corner, but Blackwell moves and Hansen crash and burns.

It’s brawl city as the two men go back and forth and trade blows. Hansen is throwing wild punches and kicks, while Blackwell is just clubbing away with the occasional headbutt for good measure. Hansen tries to pick up Blackwell for a slam, but Jerry is too big and Stan’s legs give out. Blackwell gets a 2 1/2 count from the referee. Blackwell moves in and locks in the “Shades of Mark Henry” bear hug. Hansen rips at the eyes to escape, but seconds later, he’s right back in it again. Stan goes to the eyes again and the referee gets bumped by a wayward elbow or something. The referee is down. Jerry with a headbutt and the big splash. But there is no ref to make the count.

Blackwell goes to check on the referee and Hansen takes his boot off. He just unloads and beats the crap out of Blackwell with his boot. Hansen nails the referee too and is just going to town on Blackwell. Another referee is in and Hansen just goes after the guy and tosses him around, Blackwell gets hold of Hansen’s boot and nails the big Texan in the head. Blackwell is swinging the boot at Hansen as Stan bails to the floor. The first referee is finally up and calls for the bell. It’s a DQ, but they never quite clarify who was DQ’ed. I’d think Hansen, but with the AWA, who knows for sure. Stan grabs his belt on the outside and raises his arm in victory.

Winner by DQ: Stan “The Lariat” Hansen

Larry Nelson is with Stan Hansen. Nelson says that Hansen was DQ’ed, but is still the winner. What the…?? Hansen is rambling and talks about an upcoming match against Nick Bockwinkle. Hansen tells Bockwinkle to come on because he doesn’t care. Hansen gives his side of what just went down and says that Blackwell cheated, Blackwell took Stan’s boot off and used it to get himself intentionally DQ’ed. Stan closes the interview by saying that he’s going to kick ass all over the United States.

And now it’s time for the main event…

The announcers for this match are Rod Trongard & Greg Gagne

“PLAYBOY” BUDDY ROSE, “PRETTY BOY” DOUG SOMERS & ALEXI SMIRNOFF (w/ Sherri Martel) vs. CURT HENNIG & THE MIDNIGHT ROCKERS (SHAWN MICHAELS & MARTY JANNETTY)

Buddy Rose and Curt Hennig start off and immediately do the criss-cross thing. I’ve never understood the point to this, but the fans like it so I guess it’s all good. Hennig with a backdrop and a dropkick. Rose goes to the floor. Rose comes back in and hits a slam on Hennig. And Rose flexes for the crowd. Another slam for Curt and Rose flexes some more. Buddy Rose is an awesome entertainer. Hennig grabs Rose and slams him twice. Somers in. He gets slammed. Smirnoff in. He gets slammed. Hennig is slamming everyone and clears the ring. Sherri gathers her troops on the outside to regroup while Curt waits in the ring.

Smirnoff and Michaels are the next two men in. Smirnoff hits a boot and a slam, but misses a leg drop. Somers is tagged in, but gets kicked and back-dropped by the future “Heartbreak Kid”. Atomic drop by Michaels and he picks up a two-count. Jannetty tags in and after a couple of leap-frogs on Somers, locks up the arm of the “Pretty Boy”. Rose tags in and it’s double-team time on Jannetty. Alexi tags in and scores with a kick and a suplex followed by a diving headbutt and a knee. Another tag and the heels are tagging in and out regularly and working over Marty Jannetty in the ring.

Finally, Jannetty sunset flips both Somers and Rose and tags out to Shawn Michaels. Michaels hits a super-kick on Rose and tags out to Hennig. Hennig gets some shots in and tags out to Jannetty. Now, it’s the faces who are switching constantly and going back and forth on their opponents. Smirnoff brings it all to an end when he leapfrogs Hennig and then scores with a big boot to the head. Somers tags in and hits an inverted backbreaker on Hennig. Somers and Rose work over Hennig and Rose takes Curt to the corner where he sets him up for a superplex. Hennig shoves Rose off and Rose tumbles to the mat. But as Curt stands on the turnbuckle, Rose lurches forward and clips the legs. Hennig hits a high note. Somers is back in and pounds away at Hennig. Smirnoff gets some shots in from the outside as well. Curt takes a beating for a while, but finally uses the chops to escape and tag off to Jannetty.

Jannetty throws punches at everyone and some dropkicks as well. Jannetty with a power slam on Somers. Everyone enters the ring at this point and it’s OINGO BOINGO time. The Rockers and Hennig team up to sling Somers, Rose and Smirnoff all together in a “meeting of the minds”. Hennig hits a dropkick on Somers. We see Shawn Michaels pick up Jannetty and launch his partner into a slam on top of Somers. Jannetty covers and the referee counts three.

Winners: Curt Hennig and The Midnight Rockers – Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty

We go to Larry Nelson with Hennig and the Rockers. Hennig talks about how he’s become more aggressive as of late and says that the AWA is # 1. His recent change in attitude is a result of dealing with people like Col. DeBeers, Buddy Rose and Doug Somers, etc.

Jannetty is next and calls Buddy Rose a “fat jelly-belly, Pillsbury Doughboy”. MJ talks about a match they have coming up the next night in Denver and says that there will be new World Tag Team Champions.

And Shawn speaks. They beat Rose & Somers in singles matches, tag matches, and in the six-man tag matches. They beat them every time they face them and coming up tomorrow night, it’s for all the marbles. The Doughboys are going down and the Midnight Rockers will be the new World Champions.

And that’s the show for tonight.

The first match was bad. The second match was better. And the last two matches were pretty decent. Another good show for the AWA that got better as it went along. The AWA is an acquired taste, but I’m liking it pretty well thus far in this current run on ESPN Classics.
Anyhow, that’s it for me today. Send comments & questions to Doug28352@yahoo.com. Visit me at MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/salt_palace. Add me.

And on that, as the great Baron Von Raschke would say, “Dat is all de’ people need to know!”. Have a great night and always be a fan.

I’m Doug and I’m gone.

Ubuntu!

@00 @ 1 1 a awa

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