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411's AWA on ESPN Classic Report 07.10.08
Posted by Randy Harrison on 07.11.2008

411's AWA On ESPN Classic Report

AWA Championship Wrestling

The AWA is back and so am I! I still think that that Larry Nelson bit during the open is an actionable statement, especially with the nobodies that and lack of actual wrestling from the past couple of shows.

Match One:
M.L. Williams vs. Buddy Landell

I won't even call Landell his nickname since I think that it's a disgrace to both Buddy Rogers and Ric Flair. They circle a little and Landell just kind of shoves Williams into the corner. Williams gets a go-behind and tries a roll-up but Landell reverses it and rides him a little before hitting a forearm to the back. Snap mare over from Landell and he goes to a reverse chinlock on Williams. Williams pushes Landell into the corner and gets a clean break of the hold leading to another locku..NO! Landell kicks him in the gut and fires him into the corner for a reverse elbow before going back to the chinlock. They get to their feet and Landell just flings him out through the ropes to the floor, stomping on Williams' hand as he tries to get up on the apron. Shoulderblock by Williams on the way back in and he gets all the way back into the ring with some right hands into an Irish whip into the corner. He catches Landell with a back bodydrop and tries another Irish whip into the ropes but Landell holds onto the ropes and Williams misses his dropkick attempt. BIG elbowsmash from Landell and he goes straight into the figure-four leglock and Williams gives it up!!

Winner: Buddy Landell (submission, figure-four leglock)

Match Analysis: Call me biased, but I can't stand Buddy Landell. This was bland and heatless and a terrible way to start the show for me.

Match Two:
Tony Leone vs. Adrian Adonis w/Paul E. Dangerously

Dangerously always looks so proud of himself after he makes those introductions. You can barely see Adonis making his way to the ring because the area with the crowd is SO dark to try to cover up all the empty seats. He finally makes it into the light and gets a little razzing from the front row on his way into the ring. Leone makes some motions to Dangerously and turns his back on Adonis and Adonis attacks!! Forearm shots and chops lead to Adonis taking Leone over with a snap mare and a hip toss. Leone tries a top wristlock but Adonis just shoots him over as Dangerously gets on one of the commentary microphones and says that they're going to show why no one leaves the Dangerous Alliance without paying a price. Kneelift from Adonis pushes Leone into the ropes and he hits a DDT!! Adonis picks up the limp Leone and whips him into the ropes for a reverse elbow and he goes down again. Adonis picks Leone up for a suplex but drops him stomach-first ONTO THE TOP ROPE!! He gets the slingshot clothesline on Leone with his neck under the bottom rope and rakes Leone's eyes across the top rope. Fingernail rake from Adonis now and he gets a standing short-elbow to the top of the head before he locks in GOODNIGHT IRENE!! Leone is out cold and the referee is calling for the bell!!

Winner: Adrian Adonis (submission, Goodnight Irene sleeper)

Match Analysis: Squash, but it served the purpose as they're still trying to get Adonis over as a legit threat. Not to mention that it furthered the angle between Rich and The Dangerous Alliance, which isn't a terrible thing. The feud might not end up being any good, but A for effort in just trying to keep some coninuity going.

After the match, Adonis refuses to let go of the hold and HERE COME THE JOBBERS!! THERE GO THE JOBBERS!! Adonis elbows Mike Tolos down and throws Lance Allen out of the ring as HERE COMES TOMMY RICH!!! Adonis thinks better of it and takes a walk to the floor as Rich checks on Leone's condition. Adonis and Rich have a staredown on the floor as Dangerously tries to drag Adonis away from the situation. He finally does and Tommy Rich heads back to his locker room as Rod Trongard speculates on if we'll see Rich and Adonis locking it up in the future.

We're back with Larry Nelson in the AWA studios and he says that the AWA has just released the latest rankings for all divisions of the promotion. We look at the Top Five Ladies first and it breaks down like this;

5. The Killer Tomato
4. Susan Green
3. Despina Montages
2. Madusa Miceli
1. Candi Divine

He assumes that that will change as Miceli has just eliminated Divine from the women's title tournament. From there it's the tag team division. America, here is YOUR top six!!

6.The Nasty Boys
5. Kevin Kelly and Nick Kinitchki
4. Wahoo McDaniel and Tommy Rich
3. DJ Peterson and JT Southern
2. The ORIGINAL Midnight Express
1. Soldat Ustinov and Boris Zhukov (champions)

His little insights are hiliarous as he reads the listings off and he promises that we'll see the numbers two and three teams against each other in a grudge match to see which team gets to challenge the Russians for the championship. That should be terrible.

From there we "quickly" get to the Top Eleven in the men's rankings. I love how the AWA subtly tries to get itself over. We have SO MANY STARS, they can't possibly be contained in a measly top ten. TOP ELEVEN BABY~!

11. Kevin Kelly
10. Jerry Blackwell
9. Jerry Lawler
8. DJ Peterson
7. Larry Zbyszko
6. Tommy Rich
5. Nick Bockwinkel
4. Wahoo McDaniel
3. Adrian Adonis
2. Greg Gagne
1. Curt Hennig (champion)

What a load of HORSESHIT!! Adonis has squashed a bunch of nobodies and is at number three, Zbyszko will have a stroke when he finds out he's at seven. Of course, Greggy-Boy is in the number two slot. What a disaster. Thankfully the segment is over.

Match Three: AWA World Heavyweight Championship
Mike Tolos vs. Curt Hennig

Some skank in the crowd is shrieking at Curt while waving an 8x10 of Wahoo McDaniel. I hate to tell you honey, but he's not going to autograph someone else's glossy so sit down and shut up. They lockup and Hennig gives Tolos a clean break off of the ropes. Another lockup into the corner and Hennig paintbrushes him this time. Go Curt!! Side headlock from Hennig and Tolos shoots him off into the ropes, taking a shoulderblock, getting leapfrogged and then nearly getting dropkicked out of his boots by Hennig. BIG hip toss out of the corner from Hennig and he follows it up with a big dropkick again. Irish whip from Hennig and Tolos reverses it and follows in with a reverse elbow. Another Irish whip into the corner by Tolos and he pops right out of it WITH THE AXE!!! PERFECT-PLEX!!! THREE-COUNT!! Hennig looks PISSED!!

Winner: Curt Hennig (pinfall, Perfect-plex)

Match Analysis: Pissed-off heel Hennig delivers an epic ass-kicking. I don't even think Tolos got a move in. Not to mention that I love getting to see the Perfect-plex anytime makes me a happy camper.

Match Four:
Rick Gantner vs. Greg Gagne

Ring announcer Mick Karch calls Gagne "sensational" and I call him "a liar". They hit a lockup and Gantner gets a side headlock but Gagne goes to a top wristlock. Gantner gets a handful of hair to reverse the hold and Gagne reverses that into a hammerlock. Gantner complains about a hairpull but gets taken right over with an armdrag. Gagne chases Gantner around the ring and locks him up in the corner for a hip toss. Gagne gets a go-behind into a hammerlock but eats a reverse elbow from Gantner before he takes over with right hands and a choke in the corner. Irish whip into the corner from Gantner and he does the SLOWEST.....CHARGE....EVER...and eats a kick to the gut. Gagne rams Gantner into the top turnbuckles, taking him from corner to corner around the ring and Irish whipping him into the opposite corner, catching him coming out with a back bodydrop. Gagne hits a pair of dropkicks and Gantner goes down, allowing Gagne to pin him for the 1-2-3!!

Winner: Greg Gagne (pinfall, dropkick)

Match Analysis: Eh. The same match Gagne has with any jobber. The funny thing is that everyone gets on Bret Hart and John Cena for being guys that have limited movesets or "Five Moves of Doom", but Gagne was the same way. All of his jobber matches were total formula and he'd use the same moves in usually the same sequence with an Irish whip leading to a backdrop, leading to dropkicks and either a pinfall or the sleeper. Bleah. Not very entertaining to me.

Larry Nelson hypes the battle royal series after the match and brings in Mitch Snow for some words. He begs Snow to give us the thumbs and Snow gives us the "hang loose". Snow talks abou the big things happening in the AWA including the TV title tournament and he mentions that he's drawn Larry Zbyszko in the first round. Good luck there, Mitch. He moves on to talk about the battle royal series and how he can wear his cowboy boots and his spurs and pull them off to hit someone in the head. He leaves stage right and in from stage left comes Kevin Kelly, Nick Kinitchki and Madusa Miceli. Nelson acts like a letch around Madusa in her red leather outfit and then tries to get a few words with Kinitchki. He says that there are two reasons why they're going to win that battle royal, pointing to himself and Kelly and he says that they have the bodies, they have the babes and after the battle royals they'll have the bread too. Kelly agrees and says that the NFL has just went on strike and he shows all the letters that the NFL teams have sent to him begging him to join their teams. He runs down those teams and says that he and Slick Nick are coming to tear it apart in every town.

Match Five:
The ORIGINAL Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose) vs. JT Southern and DJ Peterson

Paul E. rips the microphone from Larry Nelson and says that the three things you never do are that you don't fight city hall, you don't bite the hand that feeds and you don't mess with The Dangerous Alliance before he introduces his ORIGINAL Midnight Express. Dangerously mocks Tommy Rich and wonders where he is before Nelson can introduce their opponents. All four men threaten each other with their ring gear and this one must be a VERY serious match because Condrey has taken off his bandana dickie around his neck and tied it around his knee. Ugly JT and Condrey start things out and the crowd chants "Paul E. sucks" as they lockup and Condrey pushes Southern into the ropes. They lockup again and Condrey shoves Southern off a couple of times before pushing him back into the corner and getting a kneelift to the gut and another. Condrey mounts the ropes for some punches but Southern comes out of the corner with a reverse atomic drop. Regular atomic drop for Randy Rose and the Express slam into each other and decide to take a powder out to the floor. Condrey is almost all the way to the back as Randy Rose calls for a timeout. Dangerously's jacket is off and he's flung it to the floor after that last exchange.

Tag from Condrey to Rose as Southern works some right hands and I don't think Southern's noticed it. Knee to the gut from Condrey and here comes Rose with some right hands but Southern gets a side headlock takeover before tagging in Peterson. They lockup and Peterson gets a side headlock clamped on and Rose pushes him into the corner, tagging Condrey who takes over with a couple of punches to the stomach. Peterson goes right back to the side headlock on Condrey though, cranking at it until Condrey tries to reverse into a top wristlock. He can't get it reverses and tries to reach out for the tag but Peterson kicks Rose's hand away. Rose takes exception and gets into the ring but ends up getting caught and Peterson takes both men over with a headlock/headscissors combo. Hip tosses GALORE for the Express and they head back out to the floor to talk it over as Southern and Peterson exchange high-fives. Condrey does the old "line in the sand" bit in this corner and looks for a finger-lace before getting a side headlock on Peterson.

Tag to Rose and he gets some shots in before Peterson fires back and gets right back to the side headlock. Peterson gets shot off into the ropes but gets a BIG right hand on Rose that drives him off into the corner. Another side headlock from Peterson and Rose shoots him off again but this time Condrey eats the right hand and Rose ends up right back in the side headlock. They work the headscissors reversal spot a few times between Peterson and Rose and Rose makes it over to tag in Condrey. Condrey with a shot to the gut and he snap mares Peterson over before he misses a kneedrop. Tag to Southern now and they hit a double-reverse elbow before Southern goes to a reverse chinlock. Condrey pushes him into the ropes and buries a knee to the gut before punching him square in the face. Tag to Randy Rose and he whips Southern into the corner but misses the charge. Southern drops an elbow and gets a two-count before going back to the side headlock takeover.

Rose pushes Southern into the corner and drives his shoulder into Southern's stomach before chopping him hard. Big bodyslam from Rose and he's up on the second rop but he MISSES THE FISTDROP!! Tag to Peterson and he holds a full nelson as Southern kicks him in the stomach. Side headlock on Rose and he manages to tag in Condrey, who works an Irish whip into the ropes. Rose knees Peterson in the back from the outside and Condrey takes him down with a BIG clothesline. Double-chop to the throat from Condrey and he rakes his nails over Peterson's back. A big atomic drop from Condrey lands and he tags in Rose, who starts stomping away at the lower back of Peterson before grabbing a reverse chinlock. Peterson is close to being out but fights out of it and elbows Rose in the gut. He rushes of the ropes with a shoulderblock and tries it again but Rose takes him down with a VICIOUS clothesline. Rose cuts off Peterson and Irish whips him in before tagging Condrey in. Drop toehold from Rose and Condrey drops a big elbow before hitting a backbreaker.

Snap suplex from Condrey gets a long two-count and he goes back to the reverse chinlock. He works the chinlock a little more before dropping some right hands down on Peterson's head. Tag to Rose after he rams his head into Rose's knee and Rose keeps working over the back before punching away at Peterson in the corner. Peterson tries to fire back but gets cut off and there's a tag to Condrey. Irish whip in and Peterson ducks under a double-clothesline before he takes both men down with clotheslines of his own. HOT TAG TO SOUTHERN!! BODYSLAM ON ROSE!! RIGHT HANDS FOR CONDREY!! IRISH WHIP AND CONDREY EATS A CLOTHESLINE!! 1-2....NOOO!! Southern has the abdominal stretch locked in but the referee is trying to get Peterson out of the ring. ROSE HAS THE PHONE!! HE'S ON THE SECOND ROPE!! He WAFFFFLES THE FUCK out of Southern with the phone just as the referee turns around and he calls for the bell.

Winners: DJ Peterson and JT Southern (disqualification, phone shot from Rose)

Match Analysis: A pretty good and pretty hot formula tag match that I was hoping would actually get a finish. I figured it would be a phone job because they had to keep both teams strong, but after it being such a decent match, I was kind of hoping they'd avoid it. One of the better main events that they've had on lately, even if it wasn't anything that would set the world on fire.

After the match, DJ waggles the phone at Larry Nelson as he makes the announcement of the winners of the match before he tries to help his partner to the back. He is PISSED OFF!!

Larry Nelson welcomes us back to the studios now and he talks about all the excitement going on in the AWA with the Women's title tournament and Television tournament and gets into Kevin Kelly and Madusa Miceli. He talks about the return of the Mat Classic and I'm pissed that I didn't get to see that. He promises to hopefully see another Mat Classic next week. He talks about Wahoo being pissed off at Curt Hennig and that his reputation has been damaged by Curt Hennig, as well as his vision. He brings up the main event and the interference at the end of the match and how DJ Peterson and JT Southern are the number-one contenders. He moves to the Fan of the Week from Sweden and pimps where to send in your cards and letters before closing out the show.

Final Thoughts

A middle of the road show with a lot more wrestling than talking, which is good. The bad news is that a lot of the wrestling was just kind of there. Nothing major in terms of the squashes minus Hennig looking awesome, and the main event was good but not great. I liked that there was a lot less of the talking and that the show was paced a little better this time, but it's not enough to get it all the way to a thumbs up. Thumbs in the middle for me on this one, though again, the main event was a pretty good bout.

Fun With Comments

From Barack Says:
"Col. DeBeers needs to work on his South African English. He sounds like he's from the South. "

I personally found it funny that the angrier he got, the more he lost his accent. It was the only thing that kind of humanized him and gave a little nudge and wink that it was a character. Otherwise he'd have pretty much been a monster and hideous human being. I mean I get that that was the point, but still. It just made me chuckle to hear him drop the accent from time to time.

From Guest. :
"You know, haven't posted in a while, but its just so odd, the late 87 shows bored me to death, compared to the '88 shows, although those ones didn't have Steve O and Mitch Snow and Tommy Rich for the most part pushed. Tonight was the best show since Bockwinkle/Zbyszko, even with the three black holes of charisma, so I was interested in it. I loved how the dimes flew everywhere right after Hennig KTFO Wahoo, and how he was pretty much carrying the company at this point. "

That part with the dimes flying was awesome and I am planning on nominating Hennig for a Hidden Highlight this week because you could see him tearing the roll open with one hand before he waffled Wahoo with it to ensure that they'd fly everywhere. That was tremendous.

From elguapo1974:
"I remember the "turkey hunt" match. It's probably the only match that Jake Milliman (yes, the Milkman) ever won on TV. DeBeers ended up in this position because Slaughter had gone to the WWF(E). I think it was the last match the AWA ever aired on ESPN before now. Vern was beyond broke by this time, hence the need for the "closed facility." "

I think everyone remembers that turkey hunt match, just because of the silliness of it, as well as the Milliman win. Call me a sucker but that closed facility gimmick was kind of cool. Sad, but still kind of cool too.

From Gary:
"Eric is wrong,it was Kelly Kiniski(another son of Gene's)that was a jobber in World Class,not Nick. "

Eric will address the Kiniski situation later.

From Bryan:
"Wow that was some kind of propaganda piece by Donna. The AWA was just sounding so pathetic in 1987 trying to push there "we wrestle" campaign. I will say that Mitch Snow was about the last person that I would think would break out the power bomb in 1987 in America.

The turkey hunt match was not the last AWA match on ESPN. It was not even the last match in the Team Challenge Series. After Millman won the turkey match, there was a little feud between him and DeBeers where DeBeers tried to get his revenge. The last match in the Team Challenge series was a battle royal from what I remember. By this time they were back into some small arena and not in the pink security room.

There is a clip on YouTube of a Harley Race vs Larry Zbyzsko title match which was from the final AWA tv show. "

That last AWA show was so damn sad. And yes, the last match in the Team Challenge Series was the battle royal that ended up determining the winning team.

From Adam:
"UWF wrestling Sunday Morning!!!! Wait...what am I saying, has it come to this? "

I don't even know what that means, but if there's UWF wrestling on Sunday, I'll be watching it.

From Joe K. :
"It was hilarious when they showed the replay of Hennig plowing Wahoo with the roll of dimes and Zbyszko exclaims "Wow, looks at the beads of sweat flying all over the place!" in reference to the dimes flying in the air. Tremendous!

And yeah, I marked out in hearing Paul E.'s dead on Wildfire impression. He's done that at conventions and once in a blue moon on ECW TV and it's always a laugh riot. YOU READY TO GET FARRRRRRRRED UP? WHEN IT'S CRAZY TIME, IT BE CRAZY TIME! HIGH FIVE, LARRY NELSON! HIGH FIVE! DO THAT CRAZY OL' PERVERT DANCE YOU DO! "

Wildfire will be a constant source of entertainment in this column until the very end. He was unintentionally hilarious. Zbyszko on commentary was gold and it sucked that they took away his edge on the WCW shows. He could have been as good or better than Heenan if they'd let him go full-on heel.

From KayFaber:
"It was funny to see Donna say the AWA is all about "wrestling, not gimmicks," at the moment her video montage showed a fake Russian getting choked with a chain. "

That irony wasn't missed on me either. I guess she forgot to include gimmick matches and pretend foreigners.

From Rob:
"Larry Zbyszko was pure GOLD on commentary during the title match. Talking about how Wahoo had to resort to low tactics like chopping a man in the throat and between the eyes. It was just beautiful. As was Larry talking about how Wahoo brought the stretcher job on himself by only doing "chop, elbow, kick, chop, elbow, kick", while Curt brought "the science" to the match. If he had called it "the game of human chess", it would have brought tears of joy to my eyes. If Hennig hadn't been so great and so hot as a heel, Larry would have been the perfect heel champion for the AWA in '87. "

Again, Zbyszko on commentary was awesome and he was the best color guy that the AWA could have had. They really should have had him do color and wrestle since he was that good at it while still being one of the top heels on the wrestling side.

From John Doe:
"The Turkey on the Pole match was not even close to being the last match in the AWA. This match took place around late 1989 and the AWA continued on for about another year.

The Pink Studio thing came about because something happened and they weren't able to use their regular arena for their tv tapings. The kayfabe reason was that there was too much interference in the matches so the room with security guards would be more secure. "

Yeah, there was still a lot of disaster left in the AWA before it finally tapped out and called it quits.

Finally, from Eric:

Both Kiniski brothers wrestled in World Class in the 80s, just in different time periods.

Nick rose to early fame with the old Southwest Championship Wrestling/Texas All-Star Wrestling promotion in the early 80s, where he generally played the face role. Amusingly enough, he tag teamed with Paul Diamond as the "American Breed". Neither one was American. Go figure.

Nick's brother, Kelly, never played a face role. Nick did until he moved to the AWA. He wound up in WCCW (after spending roughly a year with the AWA) where he ultimately retired. He career lasted roughly seven years. Wikipedia lists Kelly as briefly wrestling in the AWA in the 1984 timeframe but I don't recall him on any house shows in the Chicago area. Nick came in when the AWA was slowly declining, and never made it above mid-card with Kevin Kelly as a tag team partner.

His brother, Kelly, didn't fare much better. Low to mid-card all the way.

The Kiniski family had a pretty strong connection to Verne Gagne. Gene Kiniski was one of the first wrestlers to hold the belt (other than Gagne) in the AWA. He also worked with Dick the Bruiser in Indiana. So the whole family did quite a bit of time in the Midwest.

And I'm out... "

Thanks for all the information on Canada's number-two wrestling family behind the Harts ( I said behind the Harts, don't come shooting on me Bret!!), and thanks for the great post as usual Eric

That's it and we're out for today. See you all tomorrow when the AWA comes back cause IT BE CRAZY TIME!!!


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