AWA Championship Wrestling
On ESPN Classics
March 21, 2008
Happy “Good Friday” to everyone and Happy Easter as well. It’s time again for more classic AWA goodness, courtesy of the fine folks at ESPN Classics. It’s been a week of good shows thus far. Can the streak continue? Let’s find out.
It’s from Sin City, USA aka “Vegas” at the world-famous Showboat Sports Pavilion. The men at ringside are Rod Trongard and Lord James Blears. Larry Nelson is doing the interviews. And I’m Doug. I do the recap thing. Let’s get right to the action.
All the AWA is telling us tonight is that the show is from one week after last night’s show. No actual date is given, but one week would mean this show originally aired on August 12, 1986 (give or take a day or two). See. All those years of sleeping during my math classes have finally paid off. I can count
“The Alaskan” Jay York vs. AWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkle
The special guest referee is Earthquake Ferris. I guess this is better than letting the boy wrestle.
Nick quickly rolls York up for a quick two-count. And York complains that Nick pulled the tights. Well, he can’t claim the hair because in that area, York is strongly lacking. Maybe he should do what Zbyszko and Chavito did? Wait! This was 22 years ago. Never mind. York lacks up Nick’s arm and York pulls the hair to get an advantage. And it works so well the first time, York does it again to get the advantage in a test of strength. Nick decides enough of the shenanigans and busts York in the face with a forearm shot. “The Alaskan” locks in a bear hug. Nick punches his way loose, but York surprises him (and all of us) with a picture perfect hip-toss. Say what you will about York – he’s an ugly scoundrel, but the guy knows how to wrestle.
Front face-lock by York. He keeps the advantage with some punches, kicks and rips at the eyes. Bockwinkle finally has enough and grabs York by the beard before ripping at the mouth of big Alaskan. Nick punches away and York bails to the floor.
Bockwinkle follows York to the floor and after a few more punches, Nick rams York’s head into the ring apron. They climb back into the ring and Bockwinkle rolls up York for a two-count. Front face-lock by the champ and he follows through with some shoulders in the corner. A knee to the gut and a picture perfect dropkick by Bockwinkle. Who would have thought? Nick locks in the “Shades of Verne Gagne” sleeper and York goes night-night. Or as the late Johnny Weaver would sing in an off-key voice, “Turn out the lights – the party’s over!”. The ref checks on York and this match is over.
Winner: Nick Bockwinkle
After the match, we see Bockwinkle massage the neck of York before “waking him up” with a big slap to the head. Great stuff. York awakes quickly and is lost and confused as the referee raises Bockwinkle’s hand in victory.
Larry Nelson speaks with Nick Bockwinkle. He’s now a 4-time AWA Champion. Nelson and Bockwinkle bury Stan Hansen for “turning tail and running”. They talk about how Hansen was in the building and left before defending his title against Bockwinkle. Nick feels he earned the title and is happy to be champ for the 4th time. He’s been getting great responses from the fans and they’ve finally gotten to him. He plans on defending the title as he always did before with no quarter asked and no quarter given. And Nick closes by thanking Hansen once again for the compliment by running away from him.
Caption: On June 29, 1986, Nick Bockwinkle became the AWA World Champion for the 4th time.
Alex Knight & Dennis Stamp vs. Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty – The Midnight Rockers
Shawn and Stamp start. I’m quickly becoming a fan of Dennis Stamp through these old matches. The guy didn’t have “the look”, but he’s a fantastic wrestler. Stamp flips Shawn to the mat and locks up the arm. Shawn switches things around and gets an arm-bar of his own secured. Stamp with a quick head-scissors to escape. Shawn attempts another arm drag, but Stamp bails to the floor. Knight tags in. Shawn tags out to Jannetty. Jannetty hits a dropkick for a quick two-count. He locks up the arm and tags in Shawn for a double-elbow from the Rockers. Shawn with a power-slam for a two-count. Suplex by Michaels and he tags in Jannetty. Jannetty with a power-slam and a tag to Michaels. Shawn gets Knight up and attempts something, but pretty much just drops Knight down on his face. Superkick by Shawn and another slam for two on Knight before tagging in Jannetty. Knight throws some punches and tags in Stamp. Stamp with punches and a choke on MJ. Jannetty fights back and scores with a “Shades of Wrestling II” knee-lift. Shawn comes in with some punches and a dropkick. Knight tags in, but gets suplexed by Michaels. A big splash by Jannetty and the Midnight Rockers take another trip to the pay window.
Winners: Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty – The Midnight Rockers
Larry Nelson talks to the Rockers. Shawn says that they’ve been told that the only thing standing between them and the tag team titles is the ability to kick someones face in. Rose & Somers can run, but they can’t hide. Jannetty says that Rose runs his mouth too much and makes an analogy comparing Buddy Rose with a walking blizzard. Sooner or later, the belts will be on the line and the Rockers will be the champs and get the titles.
Brad Rheingans vs. Pete Sanchez
The announcers for this match are Rod Trongard and Nick Bockwinkle. What happened to Lord Blears? I guess even old Hawaiians need a bathroom break sometimes too.
Rheingans with an amateur-style take-down. Trongard and Bockwinkle are really putting over this guys credentials as a coach for the U.S. Olympic team. Sanchez goes after the arm, but Rheingans with a flip, a headlock, a cross-body splash for one and a neckbreaker for two. Brad goes back to the headlock. Sanchez fights back with some punches and a big slam. Sanchez climbs to the top rope from the outside and argues with the fans. Rheingans with a “Shades of Ric Flair” slam off the top rope for Pete Sanchez. And at a big house in Charlotte, NC, Ric Flair rolls over and wakes up with a start from a good sleep. Someone used his move. Wooooo! Fists and a backdrop by Rheingans and it’s time for a “Shades of Magnum TA” belly-to-belly suplex. Brad climbs to the second rope and scores with “The Bullet”, a shoulder block, to pick up the win.
Winner: Brad Rheingans
And after the commercial break, it’s time for the main event. The announcers for this match are Lord James Blears and Larry “The Axe” Hennig.
“Pretty Boy” Doug Somers, Col. DeBeers & “The Living Legend” Larry Zbyszko (w/ Sherri Martel)
Curt Hennig, Greg Gagne & “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka
Before the match even starts and during the introductions, Larry Zbyszko is arguing with the referee, the fans, and Larry Nelson. DeBeers complains about Jimmy Snuka being part of the match. It was supposed to be Scott Hall in the match. Snuka is not a Caucasian and DeBeers refuses to wrestle against a non-white. He goes to the apron and Larry Z. comes in to start the match against Greg Gagne. A huge “Larry sucks” chant fills the arena. And of course, Larry starts complaining and stalling and arguing with anyone and everyone he sees. Classic Zbyszko and this goes on for three or four minutes while Gagne waits with a bemused look on his accountant-like features.
They finally lock up and Greg takes down Zbyszko with a hip-toss. And of course, Larry complains about it. Greg with an arm-drag and an arm-bar. Somers grabs Gagne from the outside for a double-team. Zbyszko with a running-knee, but Gagne moves and Larry nails his own partner, sending Somers to the floor. Larry bails to the floor as well as Sherri checks on her fallen man on the floor. DeBeers tags in to Larry. We see Gagne tag off to Snuka. DeBeers refuses to lock up with Snuka and tags out to Doug Somers. And we take a commercial break.
Somers and Zbyszko are double-teaming on Snuka. DeBeers comes in and gets some cheap shots in, pounding away at Snuka. He won’t “wrestle” him, but has no problem with just beating him up. I love heel-logic. DeBeers stomps and kicks away before tagging back out to Somers. Somers hits a knee before tagging out to Zbyszko. Larry clubs away at Snuka, but Jimmy fights back with some kicks and chops. A flying fist by Snuka and he tags off to Curt Hennig. Hennig hits a dropkick to get a two-count on Zbyszko and then unloads punches on Somers and DeBeers for good measure. Hennig with an elbow drop for another two. Gagne tags in and goes all chop-suey on Larry’s chest. Gagne misses a dropkick and Zbyszko tags off to Somers.
Doug unloads a series of knees on Gagne. Larry Z. gets in some choking on Greg from the outside of the ring. Somers with a choke as well. Larry holds Gagne while Somers distracts the referee as even Sherri gets in on the action from the outside and slaps Gagne a few times. Snuka comes around to chase Sherri away while in the ring, Somers locks up Gagne in a front face-lock. Gagne fights over to make a tag to Hennig, but Zbyszko has the referee distracted and he doesn’t see or allow the tag. DeBeers is in with punches and a big slam to Gagne. Zbyszko tags in and locks up Gagne with a front face-lock which seems to be more of a choke. But Larry is sneaky and hides it from the referee. A huge “Larry sucks” chant fills the arena again. Those fans really hate this guy.
Greg fights to the corner again and tags off to Hennig, but again, the referee is distracted and doesn’t allow the tag. Can’t allow it if he doesn’t see it. Somers in, but Gagne manages to lock in a sleeper hold. DeBeers is in to break it up. We see a mid-ring collision as Somers and Gagne crack heads. Greg covers Somers for a two-count. Sunset flip by Gagne for another two-count. Greg with the fists and a big knee-lift. DeBeers is in and pounds away at Gagne. Greg fights back and scores the hot-tag to Jimmy Snuka. DeBeers tags off to Somers and Snuka just cleans house on Somers with kicks, chops and a headbutt. Hennig comes in and levels Somers with some chops and punches. Curt climbs to the top and hits a picture-perfect “Shades of Val Venis” missile-dropkick from the top rope. Cover and quick pin.
Winners: Curt Hennig, Greg Gagne & “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka
As the match ends, we see Snuka go after DeBeers. DeBeers assaults Snuka in the corner and slams Snuka repeatedly into the turnbuckle. Snuka no-sells the corner shots and gets all psycho on DeBeers ass. DeBeers quickly bails to the floor and joins Zbyszko and Somers as they head for the back.
And the show ends. Another winner by the AWA. The Rheingans match wasn’t very exciting, but it was short and can be overlooked. The six-man main event was fantastic as we got to see a good mix of talent that normally wouldn’t be in the ring together. And everyone worked hard and it paid off in spades. This has been a good week with a lot of great matches. I only hope that next week is just as good.
And that’s it for me. Have a Happy Easter everyone and I’ll see you again on Tuesday morning. Send questions and comments to Doug28352@yahoo.com. And visit me on MySpace athttp://www.myspace.com/salt_palace.
In the words of the great Baron Von Raschke, “Dat is all de’ people need to know!”. I’m Doug and I’m outta here.