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 411mania » Wrestling » News

411's AWA on ESPN Classic Report 06.04.08
Posted by Randy Harrison on 06.05.2008

411's AWA On ESPN Classic Report

AWA Championship Wrestling

The usual two schmucks run the show down and it looks like it should be interesting. Soldat Ustinov, The Top Guns, Baron Von Raschke, and Brandy Mae against Madusa in the main event is what we have on tap today and it's time to get to the ring for our first match-up.

Match One:
Greg Robertson vs. Soldat Ustinov w/Teijo Kahn

They're in the Showboat in Las Vegas again and the entire crowd is dark except for the first three or four rows, which tells me that there's probably no one there to see this taping and the sad decline that leads to the end of the promotion has truly begun. Teijo or Ti Jioe as the graphic calls him, is on the outside looking crazy. Really, the AWA shows have the worst graphics and spelling errors out of any wrestling show I've ever seen, even including two-bit local promotions. Ustinov tries to shake Robertson's hand and when he finally suckers him into it, he smacks Robertson upside the head like an angry Russian pimp. Ustinov throws him to the mat off of a couple of lockups and then pushes Robertson into the corner, landing a hard forearm shot to the chest. Robertson actually gets a shot back of his own which kind of stuns Ustinov a little bit. Side headlock by Ustinov into a couple of shoulderblocks and when he tries for a third, Robertson actually gets a hip toss. Short-lived advantage for him though as Ustinov goes to the eyes and then chokes him across the middle rope. Irish whip into the ropes and a BIG boot to the face from Ustinov gets a two-count , before Ustinov starts dropping elbows to the top of Robertson's head. Robertson tries a comeback but Ustinov goes to the eyes to break it up, hitting a delayed vertical suplex for another pin attempt. Ustinov picks Robertson up at two and then starts cranking away at Robertson's head. Robertson tries another mini-comeback and gets an Irish whip into the corner but Ustinov reverses it and CLUBBERS him with a clothesline out of the corner for the three-count.

Winner: Soldat Ustinov (pinfall, clothesline)

Match Analysis: It's almost like they were trying to make Ustinov into a 1985 version of Nikita Koloff, but Ustinov is no Nikita and Teijo is no Ivan, so it comes off as a bit of a lame attempt. No real heat for the match outside of a USA chant near the end of it, but at least both guys had their work boots on so the match was decent. The AWA should have still fired that graphics guy though.

Larry Nelson's with Verne Gagne, trying to get information on a big announcement that Verne will be making next week. Verne says it's going to be a blockbuster within all of wrestling, but then tells Larry he'll have to wait. Verne talks about some horse riders in the Colorado mountains and gives shout-outs to some of the eighty-year old men that go on the ride. Verne seems crushed that he can't go in 1988. Don't worry Verne, another couple years and you'll have all the time in the world to ride horses.

We're back from the break with Larry Nelson talking about the AWA house show circuit before we hear from Brandy Mae in the interview area. Lee Mullet says that Brandy's been training hard for her shot at the belt, and she says that she has been and that she's ready for the opportunity. She says that Madusa may be very tricky, but she's ready for it and that whenever she's in the ring, she's fighting for all the country folks. Madusa gets her rebuttal, saying that there is a country bumpkin trying to take her belt. She says that she's going to show Brandy Mae what it's all about and that she's ALWAYS going to be the AWA Women's Champion.

Match Two:
Hunter Thompson and Dennis Stamp vs. The Top Guns

Don't ask me how they got him out of hiding and into the ring, but I'm a big fan of Fear and Loathing, so I'm happy. Seriously, that arena is so dark that at certain points the camera nearly loses Rice and Paul as they make their way around ringside for their ass-kissing handshakes. The heels attack as the Guns get into the ring and the Guns fire back with some stereo hip tosses and fistdrops and Thompson and Stamp bail to the outside. Stamp and Rice get set to start this match properly with Rice getting a top wristlock into a straight armbar and Rice drops a leg onto the arm before tagging in Paul. They whip Stamp into the ropes and hit a double-reverse elbow that gets a two-count. Paul tries another Irish whip but Stamp blocks it and Paul just takes him over with an armbar and legdrops his arm before tagging Rice back in. Rice hits a leapfrog over Paul onto Stamp's outstretched arm and goes back to the armbar but Stamp catches him with a shot and takes over with another shot to the throat, choking Rice across the top rope. He rams Rice's head into Thompson's knee and makes the tag as Thompson comes in and hammers away at Rice before grabbing a side headlock. Rice shoots him off and shoulderblocks Thompson down, allowing him to make a tag to Paul. Paul nearly gets a flash pinfall off of a roll-up and there's a tag to Rice with a big powerslam and he tags Paul, who comes off the top rope with a really awkward-looking shoulderblock. Did I say the shoulderblock looked bad? Well the double-team finisher looks hideous, with Rice jumping for the dropkick, realizing he's not going to get it and just kind of whacking Thompson with his forearm for the three-count. Yuck.

Winners: The Top Guns (pinfall, Rice forearm shot)

Match Analysis: Ugh. The Guns had a ton of energy, but they weren't very polished in the ring, at a time when Verne needed all the hands that he could get in the ring. They did alright in this one and looked good until the botch at the end, which was just kind of bleah. They're still a hundred times better to watch than Cousin Luke, but it seems a lot like too much, too soon for these kids.

After the commercials, The Top Guns get a bumper promo with Rice saying that they don't scare easy and that Teijo and Soldat are a stepping stone for them and Paul says that they have the fans on their side while the two loser foreigners don't.

Match Three:
Randy Greenway vs. Pat Tanaka w/Diamond Dallas Page and Tonya, The Diamond Skank

DDP snatches the mic from Larry Nelson and cuts a meandering promo about Badd Company and being asked about all of his diamonds and his tag team and his Diamond Dolls. The music hits and here comes a new Diamond Doll, who looks a little less like the butterface that the last one was. She's leading Tanaka down to the ring and seeing Tanaka in two straight singles matches makes me think that Paul Diamond is probably hurt. They hit a lockup and Greenway pushes Tanaka into the ropes for a clean break before Greenway takes him over with a good armdrag takeover. Another lockup and Greenway gets a standing arm-wringer that sends Tanaka scurrying to the ropes for the break. Greenway gets a top wristlock and ends up getting taken over by a hairpull from Tanaka, which leads to a Tanaka armbar. Tanaka rams Greenway into the top buckle and Irish whips him into the corner but it gets reversed and Greenway gets another armdrag takeover into an armbar out of the corner. Tanaka gets to his feet and whips Greenway into the ropes, missing a clothesline and bumping himself off the middle rope, making the new guy look like a million bucks. That ends pretty quickly though when Tanaka drops him with a hard shot and chops the piss out of him before hitting a headbutt. Tanaka gets an Irish whip into the ropes and Greenway reverses it, but Tanaka reverses the reversal as Greenway tries for a back-bodydrop and DDT's him down for the 1-2-3!

Winner: Pat Tanaka (pinfall, DDT)

Match Analysis: Tanaka did his usual work, bumping his ass off and making the other guy look good, which leads me to wonder if Greenway was just a jobber that they wanted to run fairly even with Tanaka because he had some talent, or if he was a guy that they maybe had hopes for in terms of keeping him with the company and turning him into something.

More rundowns of the house show circuit by Larry Nelson leads to Lee Mullet talking at ringside with AWA World Heavyweight Champion, Jerry Lawler. Lee asks who Lawler sees as top challengers and Lawler names off guys like Curt Hennig, Greg Gagne, and Kerry Von Erich, who all think that they're champions. Lawler says that the belt means that HE is the real World's Heavyweight Champion and all the rest are just contenders.

Match Three:
Kevin Collins vs. Baron Von Raschke

Baron's gotten rid of the weird mustache and looks like the Baron we all know and love now. Quick armdrag from Baron, well as quick as it can be with him being so old. He gets a fireman's carry into an armbar and we cut to see Magnificent Mimi in the front row, with Lee saying that she's the number-one challenger to Madusa's women's title in his mind. Way to cut the legs out from your main event, jackass. Collins pushes Von Raschke into the ropes and gets a clean break before Baron gets a go-behind into a takedown for a one count. Someone must have yelled at Lee on the headset because now he talks about how there are a bunch of other great women's contenders and mentions Brandy Mae at the top of the list. Collins and Baron hit a lockup with Collins getting a forearm on the ropes and then Irish whipping Von Raschke into the ropes. Baron kicks Collins in the face and then nearly falls over dropping a forearm. He snap mares Collins over and cranks on Collins' head. Baron gets a knee to the gut off of an Irish whip and grabs a front facelock, forcing Collins into the corner for the break. Knee to the gut from Collins now and he picks Baron up for a big bodyslam into a two-count and Baron comes right back with a couple of forearms and a hip toss. BARON'S GOOSE-STEPPING AND HERE COMES THE CLAWHOLD~! Collins is down and it's all over after a three-count!!

Winner: Baron Von Raschke (pinfall, clawhold)

Match Analysis: I've said it before and I'll say it again. Baron had no business being in the ring, though he would be wrestling right up until the end of the promotion. Sad, sad, sad. The good part is that at least he didn't fall over at all in this match, though he came close a couple of times.

Larry Nelson is back to pimp the huge announcement and a bunch more of the house show matches before throwing it to Soldat Ustinov, with Teijo Kahn. Soldat cuts a terrible promo, saying that Baron is going to be destroyed for the millionth time before challenging Badd Company and saying that they'll be the future AWA Tag Team Champions. Honestly, just terrible stuff. Why they didn't give these guys a mouthpiece and make them silent and violent is beyond me. Commercial break, Big K, these guys have to listen to me and I'll make them stars, I tell it like it is, yada, yada, yada. From what I can tell, he talks about Gagne, Lawler, Snuka and Larry Nelson and Lee Marshall.

Back from the break, we get to hear from former AWA champ, Curt Hennig and he says that Jerry Lawler is running and hiding from the greatest wrestler in the world. He says that he's going to do all the promoters in Michigan and Wisconsin a favor by showing up to wrestle there against Greg Gagne or Wahoo McDaniel, saying that he's determined and unpredictable. He says that you can throw any type of garbage in front of him and he'll sweep it under the rug where it belongs.

Match Four: AWA Women's World Championship
Brandy Mae vs. Madusa Miceli (c)

Miceli has Curt Hennig with her and he grabs the microphone, saying that he's tired of the way that the AWA has been treating them both before saying that he's there to make sure that justice is served and no foul play takes place. He badmouths Larry Nelson off-mic and Larry just throws his hands up and leaves. Brandy Mae heads to the back, and I'm sure you all know who she's coming back with. Oh CHRIST, it's Big Mountain Fudgecake. Well, that was a swerve for me cause I was expecting Cousin Luke for sure. Miceli and Brandy Mae badmouth each other and because Fudgecake has no manager's license, he's going to have to leave. Hennig has one so he's good to stay. Mountain threatens Hennig, but Hennig just brushes him off and sends him on his way. Awesome.

Brandy Mae finally gets into the ring and Miceli is rocking a Jackie Joyner-Kersee look today, in a zebra-print. Rod Trongard almost seems like he's going to start fwapping at ringside. Madusa shoves Brandy Mae and they circle each other and blab at each other before Madusa throws her down off of a lockup. Side headlock from Miceli and Brandy Mae shoots her into the ropes, but Madusa reverses it into a hip toss. Miceli takes a powder by leaning outside the ropes and then comes back in with a big slam on Brandy Mae. Brandy Mae gets a trip takedown off of a lockup and then they hit the same side headlock/hip toss sequence, but with Brandy Mae working the offense. Brandy Mae gets an armdrag takedown into an armbar but Madusa is able to headscissor her way into a reversal. Madusa lays a couple of boots in on Brandy Mae but she comes back with another couple of armdrags before working the armbar again on Madusa.

This is all pretty sloppy work so far, by the way, and Madusa goes to the eyes before trying to hit her own version of a Perfect-plex, but she fucks that one up pretty badly. They don't seem to know what to do now and the match kind of pauses before Brandy Mae trips Madusa to the mat. Brandy Mae gets a hard bodyslam into a long two-count, but Madusa takes over with some forearms before hitting an AIRPLANE SPIN INTO A SAMOAN DROP!! EYERAKE WITH THE BOOT!! Now THIS is what I want to see!! Madusa works over Brandy Mae with some kicks to the gut but Brandy Mae fires back with a couple of kidney shots before whipping Madusa in for a clothesline. Another Irish whip into a big back-bodydrop and Brandy Mae gets a slam for another pinfall attempt, but she's too close to Hennig and he shoves her off before the referee can get to three. Madusa gets a roll-up while Brandy Mae is arguing with the referee and they roll too far, putting Brandy Mae on her stomach. Madusa spanks her and nearly gets a handful of cooch before just mounting Brandy Mae and pinning her for the three-count.

Winner: Madusa Miceli, (pinfall, botched roll-up)

Match Analysis: This was BAD. I mean, botches all over the place, really fake looking offense from both women and an awful finish. I actually had some hopes for it, but nope, this was just rough from start to finish.

After the match, BMF comes back out and gets in the referee's face about the Hennig interference before he turns his back and HENNIG ATTACKS HIM!! BIG BABYFACE POP FROM ME!! Hennig tries a shoulderblock on BMF and can't take him down, but drops him with a big clothesline before Hennig heads to the back with Madusa. The best way this show could have ended. Oh wait, Larry Nelson's up in the ring with BMF and Brandy Mae. Brandy Mae shrills her way through a promo, saying that it proves how low they'll go to keep the belt. BMF says that he'll take Hennig anytime, anywhere and he's going to get it and he's going to pay!! We get a replay of the finish with Lee Mullet and Rod Trongard at the announce table. Trongard's jacket is spectacular, looking like he ripped the fabric for it off of the comforter in his hotel room at the Showboat.

Final Thoughts

This show was really light on the wrestling, what wrestling there was was terrible, and there was no Mat Classic. BOOOOOOO-URNS. This is an easy thumbs-down for me because honestly, the best part of it was after the finish of the main event when Hennig waffled BMF. Thirty seconds of decent compared to forty-three and a half minutes of crap means that I'm wishing I had that hour of my life back. Let's get to the comments before I get any more bitter.

Fun With Comments

From Guest:
"You know I feel like an idiot because I never recognized Khan as The
Barbarian's partner in the all time film classic "Body

That being said Tanaka-Guerrero was enough for me to give it a thumbs
up. Sometimes a match just does it for me to save a show and it did."

To me, Grunt: The Wrestling Movie, will always be way better than Body Slam, though they're both pretty awesome. I need to find those on DVD somewhere because I haven't seen those movies in years. Tanaka/Guerrero was good, but like I say, the stalling at the beginning kind of killed it for me at a time when they needed to go all-out, all-action to save the show.

From Joe K. :
"Luke ties his shoes and waves to the crowd like a Special Olympian...

Now we know where Nick Dinsmore got his inspiration to perfect the
Eugene character."

Or Luke was Eugene's daddy..which would make him Eric Bischoff's brother if I remember the Bischoff family bloodline correctly in terms of the storylines and that would explain a LOT of what went wrong with WCW near the end of the NWO era.

From Jake:
"Some guy in the crowd yells "BORING" and I couldn't fucking
agree more. Sad thing is that the word is five letters long so it's
probably baffling Luke

BORING Has 6 Letters Not 5... And I am From Tenn..."

I know it has six letters, I was mocking Luke because he would have been so slow, he'd think it was only five letters, but I guess it didn't translate as well to paper. Eh, I'll live with being thought of as stupid.

From Brian:
"Well, well, well...It appears that Cousin Luke is a "kissin'
cuzzin'" (Heh)
Who do you think would win in a match between him and Rocky Mountain
Thunder? Could you stay awake all the way through a Thunder/Luke
match? I think it would be entertaining...instead of a spot fest,
they'd have a botch fest!!! Woo Hoo!!! (Honestly, it would be SO bad,
we'd all be laughing.) Great recap of that match by the way. You had
me snickering. Funny stuff.

Top Guns, AKA: Team Mullet, AKA: NoMoJo, AKA: Gagne/Brunzell
WannaBees...okay, I'll stop.

Seriously, it's kind of depressing to see the AWA like this. I grew
up near Minneapolis and was an AWA fan since the early 70's as a
young child. The AWA circa late 80's, is like seeing Muhammed Ali now
as compared to in his athletic prime.

It just makes you kind of sad."

The world would collapse under the amount of suck that would rain down if there was ever a BMF/Cousin Luke match. I like the names of the teams too, and yes, it was really sad to see what the AWA turned into. The Muhammed Ali comparison is a good one, since at this point the AWA was shaking and twitching its way towards a rest home after being on top of the world.

From OB1Jabroni:
"Being from the south , I always had to either watch AWA on ESPN or
read about it in the PWI, Inside Wrestling, The Wrestler, etc.. Man
I wish for those days now. I usually agree with your recap Randy,
but this was a poor show. Maybe it is from hearing all the parents
of the kids who are going to fail my class blame me for their grades,
or just I don't give a fuck and waiting for the summer to begin. At
any rate, let's hope for a better show 2nite. It could be worse, I
could be a hockey fan I guess"

I used to love the once a week I'd get to go to the drugstore and buy a new wrestling magazine when I was younger. Those magazines were so cool to read, with all the stories from territories that I would never be able to see in Canada. Looking back on it, the show was a lot closer to a dud than on first inspection, but I stick by thumbs in the middle, merely because I know that it's going to get way, WAY worse. Consider it my version of grading on a curve.

From Adam:
"I hope they start showing GWF reruns soon, because this sucks. I
don't know if they show some of the CWA on the AWA shows since Lawler
doesn't want to leave Memphis too often; maybe that will make the
shows better.

I don't care if I see the dying days of the AWA. I would say the top
15 guys in the AWA from 1970-91, excluding Verne and Greg, were: Nick
Bockwinkel, Billy Robinson, Larry Zybszko, The Crusher, Sgt.
Slaughter, Baron Von Raschke, Wahoo McDaniel, Rick Martel, Ray
Stevens, Jerry Lawler, Mad Dog Vachon, Larry Hennig, Jerry Blackwell,
Ken Patera, & Curt Hennig. These guys were seemed to be loyal to
Verne and he seemed to take care of them. How many of these guys are
we going to see between now and when the promotion closes, that can
still carry a match.

About eight years ago, I was at the Nitro grill that WCW used to have
here in Las Vegas waiting for Bret Hart to sign autographs. I was
talking to a guy in line who said that Cousin Luke was his dad. I
feel sorry for that guy every time I see Cousin Luke in the ring.
What was his mother thinking!"

As much as you don't care to see the dying days of the AWA, I'm a total masochist and I want to see the epic rise of Jake "The Milkman" Milliman. To answer your question about who we're going to see between now and when the promotion closes, I think we get Larry, Slaughter, and Ken Patera. That's about it.

From greggagnesucks:
"I dont know if this was mentioned before but ... Is it just me or did
they just give Daryl Nickles a Russian gimmick(Krusher Kruger) and
still keep him as a jobber? That didn't make sense.Were they trying
to make him part of Soldat's team but realized he didn't have what it
takes? Pretty weird even for Gagne standards."

Nickle and Krugnoff were two different guys and I do think that what was happening was that Krugnoff was supposed to end up being another big Russian heel, but he had shit-all to offer in terms of talent on any level.

From Frozen:
"If you think Soldat Ustinov's accent was bad, wait until you get a
load of this guy:


That's pretty hideous. Honestly, he wasn't even trying to change his voice AT ALL!! Korplinko should be ashamed of himself. That Big Poppa Pump beard was pretty funny though.

From Doug:
"This show is getting really, really bad. It's a good thing you are
doing these recaps, because I am curious each day to read how you can
creatively make fun of each show as it just gets worse.

And shouldn't we really have more than ONE Road Warriors clip
throughout this entire ordeal over several years of AWA shows?

Keep up the great recaps."

Yeah, it's getting pretty terrible and unfortunately, my heart wasn't really into this one 100% because it was just depressing. I'll get drunk for tonight's show though, so be prepared for lots of typos and swearing tomorrow. Maybe some crying too, if I get REALLY drunk.

Finally from Brian:
"To Adam...
Great list!!!!! I can't resist adding to it.
Top tag teams: (In no order.
High Flyers
East/West Connection
Crusher/Dick the Bruiser
Road Warriors
The Blackjacks
Nasty Boys
Badd Company
Midnight Rockers
Destruction Crew
Mad Dog/Baron

I'm sure that I'm leaving some out...

And to add to your list of individuals:
Hulk Hogan
Ivan Putski
Tito Santana
Mister Saito
Scott Hall
Leon White (Vader)
Dr. X (I loved him!!!)
Bruiser Brody
Dusty Rhodes
Superstar Billy Graham
Dick the Bruiser
Buck Zumhoffe

and let's not forget Bobby Heenan or "Mean" Gene

:) "

Honestly, it's so sad to see that roster of talent that the AWA had and let go of. I mean sure a lot of those guys were in different periods, but there was lots of room for overlap and if he'd have been able to keep all of those guys, his product would have blown Vince's out of the water and the AWA would be the company that is running on cable today. I don't know if that's entirely a good thing, because I don't think I'd want to see ninety year old Verne Gagne still trying to put himself over in the ring, but it'd be cool because for actual wrestling, the AWA was tops during their heyday.

That's it for me this time, and I'll be back tomorrow as we near the close of this seemingly endless week of hard to watch programs. If that's not a finish that will get everyone coming back to read tomorrow, I don't know what is.


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