Flashback: AWA on ESPN Classics – April 30, 2008

AWA Championship Wrestling
On ESPN Classics
April 30, 2008
Doug Maynard
Before I get started on the recap for the Tuesday night show, I have to apologize. I goofed yesterday. When I typed up the recap, I totally forget an entire segment. That’s what I get for waiting until late in the day to type up the recap and having to rush. My bad! So here ya go! This is what happened in between the end of the Lawler – Von Erich match and the incredibly cheesy Sgt. Slaughter video.
Larry Nelson is in the studio with Sheik Adnan El Kassey and The Iron Sheik. Nelson asks Adnan if they’re a part of SuperClash III and Adnan tells Nelson that it’s no one ‘s business if they’re part of it or not. But they have a big surprise. Then the Iron Sheik speaks up. Intelligent American people know about the Iron Sheik. He’s come to the tough and dangerous area called the “AWWA” and sees King Jerry Lawler as the champion. He sees tough people like Wahoo, Greg Gagne, Sgt. Slaughter, etc. But he’s here for one reason and take the World Championship from King Lawler. Then Adnan starts with some kind of rant and Sheik joins in and Nelson ends the interview segment.
So that’s what was missing from yesterday’s recap. Aren’t you glad I caught that and remembered to put it in today? Two crazy Arabs doing a rant. Wrestling and sports-entertainment at it’s best.
And now, on to Tuesday night’s show. It’s the AWA and it’s on ESPN Classics. Lord, I hope we’re finished with Memphis. Let’s do this.
It’s still 1988 and evidently, we’re still in Nashville. Lee Marshall and Ray “The Crippler” Stevens are doing the commentary.
Gary Young & Cactus Jack w/ Downtown Bruno vs. Billy Travis & Scott Steiner
Scott still has the black hair and this is before he joined his brother in WCW to dominate the tag team world. Right now, he’s just a big rookie with a great amateur background. And Cactus was the journeyman crazy-guy just waiting to go to WCW for a taste of fame and then ECW / Japan where he became a legend.
Cactus and Steiner start off. Cactus with some forearm shots and he tries to whip Scott into the corner. Steiner isn’t moving. Steiner with the whip, the backdrop and some dropkicks for both Cactus and Young. Arm-drag on Cactus by Steiner and a power slam. Then he locks up the arm before tagging in Travis. Double-elbow by Steiner and Travis and Billy gets a two-count. Cactus with a hard slam and he tags in Young. Young walks into an arm-drag by Travis. Young with some forearm shots, but Travis ducks out and hits two more arm-drags on the bigger Gary Young. Travis misses the “Shades of the Stinger” splash in the corner and tags in the always dangerous Cactus Jack.
Double-elbow by Jack & Young and Jack follows with a knee-drop for two. Punches are exchanged and Cactus hits the “Shades of Hulk Hogan” leg-drop. Young tags in and he pancakes Travis to the mat and tags back in Cactus. Cactus with the punches, but Travis fights back with punches of his own and does the hot tag to Scotty Steiner. Steiner comes in and just cleans house on both Cactus and Young. He’s a monster on a rampage. Young rolls to the floor and Steiner rolls up Cactus in a small-package. But the ref is busy trying to get Travis back on the ring apron. Gary Young has one of Downtown Bruno’s boots in his hand and cracks Steiner across the head. Cactus rolls Steiner over and gets the pin.
 
Winners: Gary Young & Cactus Jack w/ Downtown Bruno
After the commercial break, we go to the next match. Jerry Lawler has joined the guys at the commentary table.
Teijo Khan w/ Soldat Ustinov vs. Mike Enos
I remember seeing Teijo during a brief run here in the Carolinas as part of Paul Jones “Army”. Had a great look and stood out, but not really many memories about him. He was in and out pretty quickly. Mike Enos would later go on to team with Wayne Bloom and find success in the AWA as the tag champs, and then in WCW as “The Destruction Crew” and in WWE as “The Beverly Brothers”. At this point, he was still pretty green and was a part-time wrestler and part-time referee for the AWA.
Khan starts off with a chop but Enos quickly comes back with a cross-body for two. Arm-drag and arm-bar by Enos. Khan escapes with a big back-breaker. Khan with the choke on the top rope, some fists and a slam. It’s to the top for a fist-drop. What the…?? Khan doing a fist-drop on an opponent while Jerry Lawler is at ringside with the commentary. Isn’t that against the law in TN? Someone has some major balls here! I’m sure Lawler didn’t appreciate that.
Khan with the “Chin-lock of Doom!” Khan with punches and a power-slam. He takes his time in following up and misses the elbow-drop. Enos is coming back with punches and a hard whip to the corner for Khan. Khan comes out with a sick clothesline and it’s over for Enos. Karate-thrust to the throat and Khan gets the pin.
Winner: Teijo Khan w/ Soldat Ustinov
We now go to Greg Gagne in the SuperClash III Control Center. Greg is talking about the big Title Unification Match that will take place at SuperClash III between Jerry Lawler and Kerry Von Erich. And then we go and take another look at the entire match between Von Erich and Lawler that set up the need for this whole “Title-Unification” thing. It’s cut and paste time from Monday night’s show.
Title Unification Match
AWA World Championship versus World Class Championship
Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Kerry Von Erich
Kerry starts off by “Flair strutting” and then shoves Lawler to the corner. Lawler with a shove of his own and then we have a long lock-up with neither man able to maintain an advantage. Lawler with a headlock and a shoulder-block and then it’s Lawler with some “Fargo-strutting” all his own. Kerry takes control with a kick, a clothesline, another kick and another clothesline. Lawler with a small-package for two. Lawler with the clothesline and Kerry rolls to the floor to escape the ring.
Kerry returns to the ring and Lawler and Von Erich trade fists. Kerry with a slam, but misses an elbow drop. Lawler goes up top and jumps right into the Von Erich Iron Claw. Kerry has the claw locked in on Lawler. Jerry elbows and punches his way free and the strap comes down. Lawler and Von Erich just trade punches. The ref gets too close and both men turn and, in a magical moment of in-stereo action, punch the ref. Kerry takes control with more punches as the second referee, Frank Morell, comes to the ring and calls for the bell. Both men are disqualified.
Double Disqualification – No Contest
Kerry gets the mic. He didn’t come all the way from Texas for a disqualification. He’s not leaving that ring until there is a winner. Lawler says OK, so the ref calls for the match to re-start.
Lawler and Von Erich are trading punches and the ref gets squashed and bumped in the corner. Von Erich catches Lawler with a big pile-driver and the ref is down to count the three-count.
 
Winner: Kerry Von Erich
The other ref is up. The pile-driver is illegal in TN, so Von Erich is automatically disqualified. Lawler wins by DQ.
Lawler gets on the mic. According to World Class rules, titles change hands on a DQ, so Lawler says that he is also the new World Class Champion.
Kerry on the mic. In World Class, they don’t have any sissy rules like the pile-driver being illegal. So as far as he’s concerned, he’s the World Champion.
The referee’s raise Lawler’s hand as the announcers explain that the pile-driver, while legal in the AWA and World Class, is illegal in the State of TN, by order of the State Athletic Commission, so Kerry’s using the pile-driver was an automatic DQ.
 
Winner by DQ: Jerry “The King” Lawler
And after enjoying the flashback from last night, it’s back to “new” programming that we haven’t seen yet (at least not for the past twenty years or so).
AWA International Television Championship Match
Ronnie Garvin (c) vs. Alan Reynolds
After a couple of false starts, Reynolds with a shove on Garvin. That’s the end of any offense for him as his next move is missing a splash as Ronnie just steps out of the way. It’s time for the Garvin Stomp! Reynolds tries to escape by going to the floor, but Ronnie follows and punches him a few times before suplexing him back into the ring. Ronnie with some stomps and a half-hearted pin attempt for two. Ronnie breaks the hold before the ref can count three and just shoves Reynolds over. Garvin rakes his nails across the back of Reynolds and lands a few headbutts. Backdrop and stomps and Garvin is just playing with this guy. Big fist as Ronnie uses the “Hands of Stone” to get the easy pin.
Winner: Ronnie Garvin
And to the next match.
 
Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson – The Rock & Roll Express vs. The Hangman & Keith Erick
Ricky and Robert get a big pop from the crowd and look pretty happy. The fans in TN loved their hometown heroes. Ricky and Erick start off and Erick throws a few punches. Ricky with a boot to Erick’s face and a tag to Robert. Gibson with the knee-lift and another tag to Ricky. Morton scores with the dropkick and Erick tags out to the Hangman. Morton with the take down and a tag out to Gibson. It’s back and forth by Ricky and Robert as they switch back and forth a few times with quick tags and just keep working over the Hangman. It’s “make a wish” time as the Rock & Rollers split Hangman in half. Hangman attempts to fight back, but Morton and Gibson are too fast and he’s unable to do anything but take a butt-whipping. Finally, it’s the double-fist by the Rock & Rollers to knock Erick to the floor off the apron. A double-dropkick by Morton and Gibson on The Hangman and Ricky covers for a three-count.
Winners: The Rock & Roll Express
And now, it’s to the final match of the evening. It’s the main event. Verne Gagne has come to join Marshall on the commentary.
Sgt. Slaughter vs. Soldat Ustinov w/ Teijo Khan
Sarge comes to the ring handing out flags and is really working the crowd. This man needs to run for political office someday. He could sure give Hillary, Obama and McCain tips on how to suck up. Ustinov is just the generic fake Russian that was so prominent in wrestling in the 80’s. But he’s a big fellow, so that should count for something.
Soldat starts off with a headlock and then it’s into the ropes for a shoulder-block. Sarge no-sells. Another try and no one moves. One more and then Soldat decides to bail to the floor to think things over. After a few seconds, he’s back in the ring and Sarge with the headlock and then a hammerlock. To the ropes for a break and Soldat gets the advantage with a hammerlock of his own. Some more shoulder-blocks and no one moves. And then it happens. Sarge hits the shoulder-block and Soldat goes down. Ustinov with the big boot. Ustinov with a back-drop for a one-count. Soldat pounds away at Slaughter before tossing him to the floor. The referee is down to make sure that Teijo doesn’t get involved.
Sarge walks it off and gets back into the ring. Ustinov with a punch, but Slaughter with the big backdrop. Slaughter with the dropkick and a big clothesline. Sarge goes for the Cobra Clutch. Here comes Teijo into the ring and he nails Slaughter with a karate thrust. Soldat goes for a clothesline and Slaughter ducks, so Soldat nails Teijo. Slaughter cleans house and chases both Khan and Ustinov from the ring.
Winner by DQ: Sgt. Slaughter
Lee Marshall climbs into the ring to talk to Slaughter Slaughter has the Russian flag in his hands and threatens to tear it up, but doesn’t and Khan & Ustinov, who are lurking around the ring, get their flag back before going to the back.
Sarge says that the USA is “Number One!” and will do whatever they have to in order to keep their freedom and don’t you ever forget it! He says that the only way that Ustinov was going to escape the Cobra Clutch was with help because no one has ever broken the Cobra Clutch. Ok, if you say so, Sarge! I saw Barry Windham do it in 1982 in Lumberton, NC, but I guess that doesn’t count.
Sarge is the Americas Champion and wants to face the winner of the Lawler – Von Erich title unification match at SuperClash III. And he’s sick of Col. DeBeers mouth too and wants a piece of him.
And the show ends.
Again, not a great show, but the nostalgia factor kept it interesting. That Garvin match almost put me to sleep, but then again, Ronnie Garvin matches almost always have that effect on me. It was cool to see a pre “Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner back when he was still throwing dropkicks and could move around that ring. And Lawler was funny on commentary… a sign of things to come, I guess.
I guess that’s it for me today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another recap of great AWA goodness from ESPN Classics, so look for it. Questions and comments can be sent toDoug28352@yahoo.com.
And on that, I’m out of here. Have a great day and always be a fan.
Ubuntu!
@00 @ 1 1 a awa

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