AWA Championship Wrestling
On ESPN Classics
April 5, 2008
Thank God it’s Friday! That’s all I can say. Doug back again with another batch of classic AWA wrestling goodness from the fine folks at ESPN Classics. Will it be an episode that we haven’t had the chance to see yet or will it be another repeat from a few weeks (or days) ago that was so good, ESPN thought that we needed to see it twice, like the show last night? Stick around and we’ll find out together.
It’s from the world famous Showboat Sports Pavilion in Las Vegas, NV. The announcers are Greg Gagne & Larry Nelson. We’re sometime in mid-to-early 1986 in the time-frame situation. And it’s raining pretty hard outside and the win is getting rough. Can we do this? Of course we can.
Earthquake Ferris vs. Leon “Baby Bull” White
So far, so good. I don’t remember seeing this match before. These are two big guys. White weighs about 375lbs, while “Anthony” (Gagne keeps calling Ferris by his first name) weighs in at about 350lbs. That’s a lot of beef in that ring. Ferris hits a chop. White hits a very weak looking sissy-chop. And Ferris no-sells it. White decides to show off his vast wrestling skills and locks in a headlock on Ferris before nailing him with a shoulder-block. Damn! The future “Vader” just did a cartwheel. And a dropkick. He flies through the air with the greatest of ease. And nails Ferris about waist high with his “Shades of Jerry Blackwell” dropkick. If I hadn’t seen it, I’d never believe it.
And then it’s time for the classic big man vs. big man power moves. White off the ropes and Ferris no-sells. Ferris off the ropes and White no-sells. Double clothesline and both men sell like crazy as they both go down hard and look like they’ve been hit by freight trains.
Ferris, who ironically enough works as a part-time referee for the AWA, goes to the eyes of White and chokes him on the ropes. Some illegal knees in the corner by Ferris. A whip to the ropes and White avoids a backdrop by using a wrestling move – a sunset flip. White manages to hold on to Ferris and gets the pin.
Winner: Leon “Baby Bull” White
And after a brief commercial break, we come back and Larry Nelson is in the ring for the introductions for the next match.
Americas Championship Match
Sgt. Slaughter vs. Bhudda Khan
The special referee is Scott LeDeoux. We see some slow go behinds and reversals by both Khan and Slaughter. They’re both moving in slow motion tonight, so that should at least make it easy to recap. Sarge goes after the arm and Khan reverses it into a big hammerlock. The Sarge flips Khan away to escape the hold and the fists start to fly. Khan with fists. Slaughter with forearms. And I have the yawns. They really need to pick this up a bit.
Khan with a forearm shot to Sarge’s back. Sarge returns the favor. A big USA chant comes from the fans in the audience. They’re really into this match and Slaughter. They must all be drunk? I guess Larry Nelson has been sharing his bottle with the crowd? Khan pounds away at Slaughter and slams the former D.I.’s head into the corner. The Sarge makes the comeback and introduces Khan’s face to the turnbuckle. The Sarge keeps control with punches and an elbow and rubs Khan’s face across the top rope. More punches and forearm shots by Sarge and he hits a sloppy, but stiff clothesline. Cobra Clutch by Slaughter and mercifully, this match comes to an end.
Winner: Sgt. Slaughter
This match was just awful and I can’t even blame the Sarge. Sarge was slow and plodding as usual, but this Bhudda Khan dude was just awful. He had some size and was a big fellow, but he was just a lousy wrestler. Where is Rocky Stone when you need him? Or Dennis Stamp? Two big, slow, plodding uninspired men does not a good match make. And this was not a good match by anybodys definition of the term.
Larry Nelson talks to the Sarge. Slaughter speaks about the Barbarian and King Kong Brody. He was prepared for them two weeks ago when they wrestled and he’s prepared for them now. He puts over the AWA and ESPN for bringing in the biggest and toughest talent. We hear Slaughter admit that being the Americas Champion is taking a toll because his title is always on the line. He makes it clear though that despite the other stuff, the appearances, the GI Joe deal, the album, etc., his main focus is and will always be wrestling. He’s after Brody and Barbarian. And he mentions Stan Hansen. Slaughter has beaten Hansen twice before and we all know what they say about the third time. He closes by challenging Hansen to a match any place and any time and tells Nelson that he’d love to have it right there in Vegas.
And now we go to a very special segment.
In This Corner with Larry Nelson & Larry Zbyszko
It’s the brothers Larry and their guest is none other than Curt Hennig. Zbyszko mentions that they’ve been getting tons of letters about Curt Hennig. Larry has a copy of “Ducks Unlimited” magazine and jokes that he didn’t even know this magazine was real. And truthfully, I didn’t either. There’s a feature column in the mag about Curt Hennig and some other wrestlers and their passion for hunting. Zbyszko says that he far more important things to do than spend thousands of dollars to attempt to outsmart ducks.
Why did a picture of Zbyszko and Daffy Duck in my head doing the old “rabbit season – duck season” loony-toon skit just pop up? We take a patented “AWA Special Look At Curt Hennig & Scott Hall”. Yep! Cue up the bad music and cheesy video.
We come back and Curt is sitting with Zbyszko and Nelson. Nelson & Hennig talk about the spread in Ducks Unlimited and the great outdoors. Hennig mentions that lots of wrestlers enjoy hunting and fishing. Larry Z. chimes in and says that’s that difference between himself and people like Hennig and the Gagnes. Larry is about wrestling and he’s always working and training in the ring or in the Dojo. He’s a fighter so Larry’s not impressed by the hunting and fishing and all that. But does Curt think he has to blame someone else?
Curt doesn’t get what Larry is talking about so Larry Z. explains. Larry wants to know about wrestling. Curt has finally made it to the top in tag team wrestling, but can he function without a partner or Daddy to back him up? Larry says as a singles wrestler, Curt has never amounted to anything except in tag teams and is nothing. Curt takes offense and tells Zbyszko to don’t call him “nothing”. Words are being exchanged and Curt threatens to slap the glasses off Larry Z.’s face.
And then my DirecTV signal went out. It’s pouring rain outside and the wind is pretty rough. It’s 1:24 am. Will it come back on? Wait and see. But while we kill some time, let’s have some fun.
Meaningless Trivia Time: Did you know that “The Living Legend” Larry Zbyszko is a recording star? It’s true. He released a single in 1980 called “Boo On Me”. I’ve heard it just once when I was younger – it was played regularly by famed DJ Dr. Demento. And Larry’s got a good voice. I don’t know where you would go to find a copy of this rare CD now, but I guess it’s available on Ebay. If anyone finds a place that has this CD for sale, let me know. Just another reason why Larry Zbyszko is a “Living Legend”.
OK, it’s now 1:38am and my signal just came back on. And it looks like I missed a match. It was the match from WrestleRock 86 featuring Chief Wahoo McDaniel versus Col. DeBeers. I’ve never seen the match, but I’ve seen both DeBeers and Wahoo wrestle plenty of times so I think I can still do a play-by-play for the match. I know that DeBeers won by DQ in the end (thank you Pro Wrestling Almanac). Let’s give it a try…
From WrestleRock 86…
Col. DeBeers vs. Chief Wahoo McDaniel
DeBeers stalls at first and goes after the arm of Wahoo. Wahoo reverses with an arm-drag. And another. DeBeers gets rough with the fists and kicks on Wahoo. Wahoo fights back with chops. DeBeers bails to the floor to stall. Wahoo follows and DeBeers slams him into the ring apron. Punches by DeBeers as Wahoo gets back into the ring. DeBeers is dominating the match. He rips at the eyes. Wahoo with chops. Wahoo is busted open and you can see the fire in his eyes. Wahoo and DeBeers go toe to toe exchanging punches and chops. Wahoo gets the advantage and is pounding away at DeBeers in the corner. The referee tries to pull Wahoo back, but Wahoo nails the referee and continues to pound away at DeBeers. The ref calls for the bell.
Winner by DQ: Col. DeBeers
The bell rings, but Wahoo isn’t done. DeBeers and Wahoo fight down to the floor and are brawling on the outside of the ring. DeBeers finally manages to get away as the referee intercedes and calms down Wahoo before sending him to the back.
OK, how’s that. It may not even be close to what really happened, but if I know Wahoo and DeBeers like I think I do, it’s pretty close to what actually happened.
Anyhow, enough of the fantasy match. Let’s get back to what’s actually happening on the TV screen as Larry Nelson is with Col. DeBeers. DeBeers calls Wahoo a “jungle savage” and claims that Wahoo doesn’t follow the rules of the ring or society. DeBeers admits that he uses the rulebook to his advantage, but he doesn’t abuse it. DeBeers goes on to say that this is only the beginning of Wahoo and himself and he’ll do whatever it takes to take Wahoo out of the jungle and train him to the ways of an educated society. Nelson mentions that Wahoo wants to wrestle DeBeers again and DeBeers says that all Wahoo has to do is just show up.
And now we go to the main event…
Boris Zhukov (with Sheik Adnan El Kasey) vs. Brad Rheingans
And whoops! There goes the TV signal again. That rain is really coming down outside. It’s now 1:43am. But considering that a Rheingans versus Zhukov main event has about as much appeal to me as attending a class by Jimmy Snuka about how to give exciting promos, I’m not too upset. I think it’s safe to assume that the first part of the match is Brad using the amateur moves to get the early advantage. Zhukov stalls for a bit and then uses the power moves and a rip at the eyes to take control, And then it breaks down into a brawl.
OK, at 1:48am, the signal is back. Will it last? Who knows? But now, I can call me some rasslin’ action.
Zhukov rips at the eyes and drags Brad by the leg over to the corner. Zhukov slams Rheingans legs into the ring post. Ouch! That’s going to leave a mark. Zhukov is biting Brad on the leg. Awesome! Zhukov takes a few stomps and drags Rheingans to the middle of the ring where he attempts a figure-four leglock. He can’t get it hooked and Brad rolls over to reverse it before Zhukov reaches the ropes and forces a break.
Zhukov continues to work on the leg with more kicks and stomps. A big slam and Zhukov goes up to the top rope. He comes off with a knee-drop, but Brad has moved and nobody is home. Brad takes control with punches and chops and a big backdrop. The fans chant “USA”. Rheingans now goes after the leg of Zhukov and works on it with elbows and by dropping his full weight across the knee of Zhukov. Brad takes Zhukov and ties him to the “Shades of Kevin Sullivan” Tree of Woe in the corner. Brad continues his assault with a series of knees. Sheik is up on the ring apron as Rheingans is biting Zhukov on the leg. The bell rings as Zhukov falls to the floor.
Results: A TV Time Limit Draw – No Contest…
Brad isn’t done on the floor and continues to go after Zhukov and Sheik Adnan. Zhukov picks up a chair to defend himself as Brad finally gets calmed down by the referee. Sheik and Zhukov head to the back.
Larry Nelson talks to Rheingans. He’s upset that it was a draw. He wants to be able to wrestle Zhukov one on one, but it always ends up wrestling two people or more. Zhukov hasn’t gotten what he has coming yet. Rheingans wants Stanley Blackburn to sanction and keep Sheik out of the corner and Rheingans says he’s going to break Zhukov’s leg and send him back to Russia. And Zhukov knows what he can do with that flag when he gets back to Russia. Rheingans storms off and we go to a commercial break.
We come back and Larry Nelson is with Greg Gagne. Gagne says that something has to be done about the Sheik and mentions that we’ll be hearing from King Kong Brody in the future. They talk about how the Long Riders are chasing Hall & Hennig, the tag team champions, and everyone wants a shot at Stan Hansen. They say that next week will feature a match with Giant Baba. And also, Jimmy Snuka, Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham will all be there in the future as well. Gagne thanks the fans, everyone at the Showboat and ESPN to close the show.
And that’s another one in the books. Not too bad, but nothing special. As was often the case, Larry Zbyszko had the most entertaining segment with the “In This Corner” bit. I would have loved to see the Wahoo – DeBeers match, but DirecTV and the weather just didn’t want to cooperate. But based on their track record so far, I’m sure that ESPN will probably repeat this episode of AWA Wrestling at least a dozen times over the next month or so.
Anyhow, that’s it for me today. It’s still raining outside. It’s going to be a long day.
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I’m Doug and I’m out of here. Have a great weekend and always be a fan. Until the next time…