AWA Championship Wrestling
On ESPN Classics
April 3, 2008
Are you ready for some rasslin’? Its the AWA on ESPN Classics. I’m Doug – the recapper who stays up each and every night to bring you the very best action from the vaults of ESPN Classics and Verne Gagne’s AWA. And why do I do this? Just crazy, I guess. Let’s get right to it, OK? And away we go…
It’s from the world famous Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. The men calling the action are Greg Gagne & Larry Nelson. And the date? Sometime in mid-1986. I’m figuring about May.
Rev. Willie Pampas vs. Col. DeBeers
Col. DeBeers quickly takes control of the grappling Pastor with a hip-toss and an arm-drag. DeBeers works on the arm and then just decides to start beating the crap out of this guy with elbows, kicks, stomps and punches. A knee drop and inverted suplex-like slam for two, but DeBeers pulls Pampas up. A big elbow smash for another two-count and DeBeers again pulls Pampas up. Nelson and Gagne have their schedules confused and say that next week, we’ll see The Midnight Rockers taking on Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham. And maybe tonight, Tiger Mask versus Buck “Rock & Roll” Zumhoffe. Or is that for next week too? They never seem too sure and neither am I.
Back to the match. DeBeers continues to just assault Pampas with a brutal pile-driver. He again pulls him up at the two-count. A few kicks and stomps and again DeBeers pulls up Pampas at the two. DeBeers hits the face-driver and covers. And for the fourth time, he pulls Pampas up at the two. This is getting so old. Referee Scott LeDeoux is getting PO’ed and even I’m feeling sorry for the guy DeBeers is slaughtering. And finally, one more face-driver and DeBeers covers. This time. he allows LeDeoux to make the three count and picks up an easy (and brutal) win.
Winner: Col. DeBeers
And now, after the commercial, it’s tag team action. It’s Vader Time! Well, we’re a few years shy of that, but saying it’s “Baby Bull Time” doesn’t have the same effect.
Leon “Baby Bull” White & Jesse Hernandez vs. “Playboy” Buddy Rose & “Pretty Boy” Doug Somers
Rose starts off by correcting ring announcer Larry Nelson about his weight. He’s not 271lbs. He’s only a dainty 217lbs. Ha! That never gets old. I still don’t think Nelson believes him though. White is in the ring to start the action and both Somers & Rose go to the outside. They don’t want to fight the former NFL Super Bowl Champion. So Hernandez starts for his team against Rose.
Rose takes a slap at White as he circles the ring with Hernandez and grins. Rose signals to White to kiss his fat ass. Funny! Rose and Hernandez trade arm-locks and then Rose nails Jesse with a big chop before locking up the arm. Jesse punches free and reverses the arm-lock and then tags in White. There goes Buddy as he bails to the floor.
We see a lot of stalling by Rose and Somers before they come back into the ring. They try everything to get White down, but he’s too big and strong and sends both men reeling across the mat. Rose tries to back away and beg off, but White nails him with a Vader splash in the corner. A big headbutt by White and a big punch and Rose goes flying over the ropes to the floor.
Somers tags in and he manages to get White over to the corner where Rose rips at the eyes and gets in several shots from the outside. Lots of double-teaming by Rose & Somers on the big man, White. Rose tags in and tries to slam White. What is he thinking? White picks up Rose and delivers a huge power-slam. Somers breaks it up before White can get the three-count though.
White tags out to Hernandez, while Rose tags Somers in. Somers take control with punches and shoulders and then Rose gets involved as they keep up the double-team on Hernandez in the corner. Somers is working over Hernandez in the ring. Rose comes across the ring and takes a shot at White, causing White to chase Rose around the ring. While White is distracted, Somers nails Hernandez with a big suplex in the ring to get the pinfall and win.
Winners: “Pretty Boy” Doug Somers & “Playboy” Buddy Rose
After the match is over, Somers & Rose try to do the double-team on White, but the man who will be Vader is too big and too strong and sends both Somers and Rose flying to the floor.
Larry Nelson talks to Somers & Rose after their match. Rose starts off by talking about White. He (Rose) didn’t come to play football. He came to wrestle. He compares himself to that guy who’s leg was broken, Joe Theisman, and thinks White needs to go back to playing football. Rose wants to know where Windham & Rotundo are? Where are Michaels & Jannetty? Where are the tag team champions?
Somers chimes in and brags about what he did to Mike Rotundo’s eye. Damn, his voice is rough. Sounds like he gargles with broken glass. No wonder he rarely ever gets to talk.
Nelson wants to know where Sherri Martel is. Rose says that Sherri is at Cesar’s Palace and taking care of business and signing big contracts for the team of Rose & Somers. And Larry Nelson cuts off the interview as we go to commercial.
And now, we go to Larry Nelson again as he introduces a new segment called “Feature Match”. Wow! That’s catchy(?). This match comes from St. Cloud, MN.
“Pretty Boy” Doug Somers (with Buddy Rose / Sherri Martel) vs. Shawn Michaels (with Marty Jannetty)
Shawn with the headlock and then it’s criss-cross time. I never understood this maneuver, but it’s a staple of older matches and the fans like it, so I’m not complaining about how absurd it seems to be. Shawn catches Somers with a slam. Somers with a kick. Shawn with the arm-drag and he locks up the arm. Somers with a slap to the chest and he bails to the floor.
Somers in on the apron as Michaels flips him back into the ring and goes back to the arm. We see the two men exchange blows in the corner and Shawn takes control with a dropkick and a head-scissors. Inverted drop by Somers and a big suplex for two. Somers with the chin-lock and a little choking for another two-count. More punches are exchanged and Shawn with another dropkick. Backdrop and a “Shades of Jerry Lawler” flying fist-drop by the future “Heartbreak Kid”. Somers bails to the floor again and wants a time-out.
Punches and kicks by Somers as he takes back control after returning to the ring. Shawn reverses things and pounds on Somers in the corner. Shawn cuts a back flip and then delivers a backdrop to Somers. It’s a weak looking super-kick by Shawn. Somers rakes at the eyes, but misses a big elbow drop. Shawn catches Somers with the cross-body splash and appears to have the match won, but Buddy Rose is in to break it up. Jannetty is quickly in as well and it’s OINGO BOINGO time. We see Michaels & Jannetty with the stereo dropkicks and backdrops on Rose & Somers and we see the two bleached blonds bail to the floor and head to the back.
Winner by DQ: Shawn Michaels
Ken Resnick (I had forgotten about him) talks to Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty. Shawn talks about how Buddy Rose likes to stick his nose in their business. Well, they don’t need a phone book to find them – they’re right there. Shawn tells Rose & Somers to quit running away from the ring.
Jannetty chimes in about Rose & Sherri Martel. Marty says that he’d never hit a woman, but Sherri isn’t a woman and he may slap her in the face. Jannety says that when Rose claims he weighs 217lbs, he must be talking about 217 kilos. And then Marty has to explain that kilos are more than pounds. This was the 80’s. We didn’t know this stuff. Marty says that Rose needs to go on the grapefruit diet and says that they had better be ready for WrestleRock. Shawn is doing a silly “Buddy Rose” impression as they close out the interview segment.
And after the break, we go to Larry Nelson, who is with Sheik Adnan El Kassey and the Barbarian. They’re up next in the main event. Sheik is a lousy talker and it’s hard to understand his ranting and babbling. He says that Slaughter thinks he can defeat the Sheik’s Army? Well, look at Barbarian. He’s nothing but dynamite. Or as Jimmie Walker would be saying, “Dyn – no – mite!” Sheik controls Barbarian because he pays money and takes care of Barbarian.
Barbarian chimes in with how the Sheik pays him and Brody lots of money and they love it. That’s how they live. We hear Slaughter’s music starting as he’s heading towards the ring area. Barbarian closes by saying that the Sheik has insisted that Barbarian beat up Sgt. Slaughter and that Slaughter had better have something up his sleeve if he wants to survive.
Americas Championship Match
Sgt. Slaughter (c) vs. The Barbarian (with Sheik Adnan El Kassey)
Slaughter comes to the ring and hands out a few small flags. Sheik is holding Barbarian in the corner by his beard. Awesome! A big “USA” chant fills the Showboat as Slaughter and Barbarian circle in the ring. Barbarian takes early control with punches and kicks and a choke in the corner. Sarge fights back with some hard forearm shots and Barbarian bails to the floor to talk to the Sheik for a little bit.
Barbarian climbs back in the ring. Slaughter with punches and kicks and a dropkick. Barbarian rips at the eyes and after a hard kick, whips Slaughter face first hard into the corner. Ouch! Stomps and punches and a big back-breaker by Barbarian for a two-count. A big boot and another two-count for the Barbarian. More punches and a power-slam and Barbarian with another two-count. It’s all Barbarian to this point.
I spoke too soon as Sarge fights back with hard forearm shots and a clothesline. Barbarian is caught in the ropes and Slaughter sends him hard to the floor. Barbarian climbs on the ring apron and Slaughter moves in and locks in the Cobra Clutch. Sarge has it locked in even though Barbarian is outside the ring on the apron.
And here comes Bruiser Brody from out of nowhere as he climbs into the ring and clubs Slaughter from behind to save his partner in crime. The referee quickly calls for the bell.
Winner by DQ: Sgt. Slaughter
Brody and Slaughter are slugging it out in the ring. Sarge hits a clothesline on Brody and locks in the Cobra Clutch. Brody fights it for a second, but is quickly out and taking a nap. Barbarian is back up and, along with the Sheik, pulls their fallen comrade away from Slaughter and out of the ring. Sheik, Brody and Barbarian flee to the back as the referee raises Slaughter’s hand in victory.
Larry Nelson talks to Slaughter. He starts off by apologizing to everyone on ESPN and at the Showboat. It’s not because he didn’t shave or because he’s losing his hair. Maybe it’s because of the awful matches he’s been having? Nope, that’s not it either. He apologizes for not having as many small flags to hand out to the fans. Someone has been stealing them and he thinks it’s the Sheik.
Slaughter gets some comments off about Libya and Iran and declares war on the Sheik’s army. He had the Barbarian beat and ended up leaving both Barbarian and Brody laid out and embarrassed. He wants matches against both men and the Sheik as well. Slaughter is here to stay and nobody escapes the Cobra Clutch. He ends the interview by saying that the USA is # 1.
And that’s the show. Not too bad, but did we really need two matches featuring Doug Somers? I like Doug and all that, but he reminds me so much of a Hardcore Holly in the ring. Tough as nails and a good wrestler, but not all that exciting to watch for any extended period of time. It was an OK show. Nothing special or fancy, but the nostalgia factor kept me interested enough.
What happened to Slaughter though? I watched Slaughter wrestle literally hundreds of times in the early 80’s in the Carolinas and he was aggressive, exciting and a strong character. But the last few times I’ve seen him in these AWA matches, he’s just plodding around the ring and going through the motions. It’s like a whole different person from what I remember. Maybe he just needed some motivation? He was back on track when he went to the WWF a few years later, so I don’t know what it was for him during this time frame.
Anyhow, that’s it for me. Questions and comments can be sent to Doug28352@yahoo.com. Come visit me at MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/salt_palace. And a new edition of my column, “Tossing Salt – Worldwide News” is up at my blog. Check that out while you’re there.
As the legendary Baron Von Raschke would say, “Dat is all de’ people need to know!” I’m Doug and I’m out of here.
Have a great day and always be a fan. See you tomorrow.