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 411mania » Wrestling » TV Reports

411's AWA on ESPN Classic Report 05.13.08
Posted by Randy Harrison on 05.14.2008

411's AWA On ESPN Classic Report

AWA Championship Wrestling

We're at the Showboat and Larry Nelson is ringside with Verne Gagne, with them talking about the renewal of the contract between the AWA and ESPN. Gagne is excited, talking about two or three or four more years of great wrestling action on ESPN. It's 1988, so I don't even think Verne got to the two years he was talking about. They talk about all the great action we're going to be seeing in today's show and then we get a commercial break two minutes in.

Match One: AWA Tag Team Championship
Pistol Pete and Buddhakahn vs. The Midnight Rockers (c)

Rod Trongard and Lee Marshall are at ringside for the call on this one and the action starts out with Pete and Jannetty as Jannetty gets a standing arm-wringer in the middle of the ring that gets reversed by Pete. He forearms Jannetty down but he gets the tag to Michaels after firing back with a couple of shots and they double-team Pete with a whip into the ropes and a double-DDT. Michaels covers and gets the 1-2-3? Wow, that was brisk.

Winners: The Midnight Rockers (pinfall, double-DDT)

Match Analysis: Who did Pete piss off behind the curtain to get completely destroyed like that in such an embarassing fashion. One move and he gets pinned. He must have made fun of Verne's lisp or something.

Match Two:
The Surfer vs. Rocky Mountain Thunder

The Surfer is the jobber, while Rocky Mountain Thunder is some guy that looks like a junior high school teacher with a HIDEOUS mullet and a gigantic mustache. Just to perpetuate the sterotype of him being from the mountains, he has a piece of rope for a belt. Why not a tattered extension cord or something Verne? Thunder takes over with some hard shots and a snap mare, sending Surfer flying before hip tossing him out of the corner. They both try for a bodyslam and Thunder wins that one, slamming him HARD. Turnbuckle smash by Thunder and he picks him up for a HOLY JESUS I THINK HE CRIPPLED HIM!!! It was like a completely unprotected Widow's Peak move. Wow, that was REALLY dangerous. Luckily Surfer can still walk, but Thunder just hip tosses him out of the corner again, pinning him for the three-count.

Winner: Rocky Mountan Thunder (pinfall, hip toss)

Match Analysis: Three words. What. The. Fuck? I'm moving on before my head explodes.

Larry Nelson pimps Mr. Thunder and then pimps the main event featuring Debbie Combs and Ms. Olympia before throwing it to comments from the Rock n' Roll Express about the AWA. Ricky Morton says that they're there to face the best the AWA has to offer and that they want the tag team titles, no matter who's holding them.

Match Three:
Daryl Nickle vs. Baron Von Raschke

Nickle attacks Baron from behind while he's taking off his robe, hitting him with knees and forearms in the corner before biting Baron's forehead. Baron takes over with a reverse elbow and fires a couple of right hands off before ramming Nickle into the top turnbuckle. Baron whips him into the ropes for a knee and Baron just squeezes on the face and head of Nickle. Snap mare over and Baron gets an armdrag, stomping on Nickle's chest before snap maring him over once again. Baron rakes away at the face and whips Nickle into the ropes for a back bodydrop, goose-stepping his way right into the CLAW HOLD!!! He mounts Nickle with it and gets the pinfall!!

Winner: Baron Von Raschke (pinfall, CLAW HOLD!!)

Match Analysis: Must be something in the water in the jobber dressing room because they're just getting ripped apart in no time tonight. Cool to see Baron in action, but he really shouldn't have been because he was just way too old to do anything of note. He still had some support from the crowd, but really who else were they going to cheer for? Rocky Mountain Thunder?

Match Four:
Mando Guerrero and Ricky Rice vs. Badd Company

Nelson calls this an "Australian Tag Team Match", which I've heard before on some of the old World Championship Wrestling shows with Gordon Solie, but I have no clue what it means so, meh. Sad to see Mando Guerrero being reduced to jobber status though, especially having to be stuck with Ricky Rice. This sounds like Mando's first AWA appearance as the announcers talk about his father Gory, as well as his background and family like it's all new information. Guerrero and Tanaka start things out and Tanaka doesn't look like he knows what to do with the speed of Guerrero. A lockup leads to Guerrero giving Tanaka a clean break against the ropes. Guerrero gets a deep hammerlock into a takedown and then surfboards Tanaka on the mat before jumping onto his back and sunset-flipping him over for two. Guerrero front flips over to the heel corner and scares both of them half to death. Diamond tags in and gets a HUGE press slam on Guerrero before he flings him through the ropes to the floor.

Guerrero hops back up to the apron but Diamond just sends him flying out through the ropes on the other side. Diamond tries it for a third time but Mando catches himself in the ropes and mocks Diamond, pissing Diamond off into a charge, which Mando avoids, sending Diamond through the ropes and to the floor. Mando hits a tope to the floor, which the camera mostly misses and then he backflips off the top rope while Diamond is on the floor. Tag in to Ricky Rice and things should go downhill from here. Standing arm-wringer gets reversed by Diamond into a side headlock. Rice tries to shoot Diamond into the ropes but he won't let go. A second attempt gets him free and there's a shoulderblock and a dropkick from Rice on Diamond. Tanaka in and he gets one too!! Both are out to the floor and trying to get themselves together as Rice and Guerrero stand tall in the middle of the ring.

Diamond slides back in and takes over with a knee to the gut and a big bodyslam on Rice, tagging in Tanaka but Tanaka misses a diving headbutt and staggers into his own corner. Diamond grabs Rice and takes over with a cheap shot and Tanaka gets a right hand into a side headlock. Shoulderblock from Tanaka as he's shot into the ropes and he runs the ropes again right into a cross-bodyblock from Rice that gets a two-count. Around this point in the contest, someone on the hard camera side decides to be cute and wave around a sign with a rather dergoatory term for homosexuals. Scraping the bottom of the gene pool when you're going to Las Vegas to see the AWA I suppose.Rice with the tag to Guerrero and Tanaka is begging off. MONKEY FLIP FOR TANAKA!! MONKEY FLIP FOR DIAMOND!!! It's short-lived though as Diamond attacks from behind and Tanaka then takes over with an Irish whip that gets reversed before Tanaka does his cartwheel into a thrust kick spot.

Chops from Tanaka and he tags in Diamond for an Irish whip into a BIG clothesline. Diamond gets an Irish whip but Guerrero sunset flips him for a two-count. They mess up a cross-body spot but get it right the second time for another Guerrero two-count. Irish whip into the corner by Diamond but he misses the charge and gets crotched on the second turnbuckle. Tanaka is in and Rice dropkicks him and gives another to Tanaka. All four men in the ring and Rice is trying to push Diamond into the ropes for a roll-up. WAFFLED in the throat by Tanaka and A KICK IN THE THROAT!! Diamond hooks the leg and gets the 1-2-3!!!

Match Analysis: A really fun little tag match that actually made you think that Rice and Guerrero might get the upset. You knew damn well they wouldn't, but Tanaka and Diamond sold like champs and with Guerrero doing most of the heavy lifting for the face team, it kept Rice from screwing the match up with his greenness. A very, very good tag match for what was essentially an established team against a job team. Well done by all four men.

We're in a wood-paneled office and it's Curious George with a cowboy hat in the office talking about how when you want the inside wrestling knowledge, you come talk to the "Big K". He talks about Badd Company and how great they are, saying that he's found a weakness in the Midnight Rockers and that if Badd Company would listen to him that they could be world champions. He moves on to Baron Von Raschke getting hit with the board and talks about watching films from Singapore. That's just sick and depraved and absolut...oh, he meant wrestling tapes and he's talking about Teijo Kahn from Singapore. We get the shot of Ustinov breaking the board over Kahn's head again. The guy behind the desk claims to be the voice of professional wrestling in North America. Ugh. Just a worthless segment all the way around.

We're back from the break and it's mat classic time, from Denver, Colorado on September 13, 1981. Greg Gagne is in the studio introducing the clip of a six-man tag team battle!!

Match Five:
Adrian Adonis, Jesse Ventura and Crusher Blackwell vs. Jim Brunzell, Greg Gagne and Hulk Hogan

Joined in progress with Gagne trying to make a tag to Hogan and he gets it with the crowd going wile. Hogan works over Adnois and Ventura as Blackwell takes out Gagne and Brunzell on the outside. Hogan hits a BIG elbow to the head of Adonis off the ropes and then whips him in for an AXE BOMBER!! It only gets a two-count as Ventura breaks up the pin. Whip in by Hogan and a big boot!! LEGDROP!! Brunzell is in the corner fighting with Ventura and Blackwell hits a headbutt to Hogan's back to break up the pin attempt. Blackwell with a HUGE slam on Gagne and Adonis goes up top to splash on him but Hogan throws him off the top with a slam. BIG RIGHT HAND to Blackwell sends him outside. Hogan gets Ventura in the corner, hammering away before sending him into Adonis with an Irish whip. The faces clear the ring and the clip ends there.

Match Analysis: The glory days of the AWA, which just makes the shows that they had to put on in the late-80's that much sadder. It was great to get to see Adonis here as well because he was in the best shape I've ever seen him in. A great six-man brawl, though it would have been more fun if we got to see a finish. The crowd was MOLTEN for the entire thing as well.

Match Six:
Ms. Olympia vs. Debbie Combs

This one is for a number one contender's slot to the AWA Women's Champion, Madusa Miceli. Combs makes her way to the ring with Madusa in her corner, and Madusa has her arm in a sling, I'm guessing from a previous title defense. She still looks skanktastic though, even with the sling. At least it's her left arm in the sling, since I've always preferred righties. Combs and Miceli walk around ringside, badmouthing the crowd and the announcers. Combs makes her way into the ring and immediately pushes Olympia into the ropes for a hard forearm shot. She throws Olympia down into a splash and gets a two-count before she gets a front facelock, pulling Olympia's hair behind the referee's back. Combs chokes away on that front facelock and then chokes her across the top rope before clubbing her down with a forearm to the back. Standing dropkick from Combs and she gets another long two-count as the crowd is pretty much dead for this one. Side headlock from Combs, which I'm sure will liven things right up. More choking across the top rope and she just STEPS ON OLYMPIA!! Camera cuts to Miceli on the outside, looking white hot as always and I have to say that in this period, she was really at her peak.

Combs with an Irish whip into the ropes and she clotheslines Olympia down before jawing with the crowd. Forearm smash to the chest by Combs, and to say that Combs is a handsome woman would be an understatement. She whips Olympia in again for another big clothesline and gets another LONG two-count off of that. Combs pushes Olympia into the corner with a couple of knees but gets reversed on an Irish whip into the corner. Olympia with some shots and she gets a slingshot on Combs, and ANOTHER!! The crowd is finally into it and Combs is on her way to the floor to get consoled by Madusa Miceli. Combs gets back into the ring and gets a single-leg takedown into a leglock, using the ropes for extra leverage. She then uses Madusa on the outside for the extra leverage. Rod Trongard: "Come on Madusa, get out of there!!" Me: "Yeah, go back to the showers!!! PLEASE!!" The referee catches them and makes Combs break the hold and she does, leading to a bodyslam that gets another two-count for Combs. Choking from Combs in the middle of the ring before she rakes at the eyes.

A shitty looking knee lands for Combs and she gets an Irish whip that gets reversed into a bodypress by Olympia that only gets a one-count. Combs comes right back but ends up getting clotheslined down by Olympia and she's all FIRED UP NOW!! Dropkick from Olympia and a forearm to the face that gets a two-count. BIG slam from Olympia and it's another close two-count. Combs gets a trip on Olympia and works over a double-leglock, adding a chinlock for even more pressure on the legs and back. Olympia rolls over and kicks Combs away, working her over with forearm shots in the corner before Combs leans outside to talk to Madusa for a moment. Combs gets Olympia into a full nelson, but Olympia reverses it to one of her own and Olympia transitions to a bodyscissors on the mat. Combs turns into it and starts choking away at picks Olympia up for a snap mare into a two-count. Olympia gets a sunset flip off the ropes but it's only a two-count. Combs gets a slam on Olympia and the time limit has run out on the match!!

Winner: None (time limit draw)

Match Analysis: A decent women's match, but nothing that really set the world on fire. Combs could work, Olympia looked a little green and Miceli was the hottest chick out of them all, on the outside. It just didn't seem to do a lot for me, and the announcers kept hammering home that it didn't make sense for Madusa to be in Combs' corner when they'd end up wrestling if Combs won, but they never paid it off. I guess it's just personal opinion, but it was just one of those matches that was there.

After the match, Combs continues to beat on Olympia, getting a big suplex before heading out to celebrate with Madusa. Larry Nelson announces it as a time limit draw and gets backed down by Combs and Miceli, cowering like a bitch as the show fades to black.

Final Thoughts

Another middle of the road show from the AWA. They really should have had the tag match with Badd Company in the main event slot since it was a hot tag match that seemed to really have the crowd along with it. I'm always kind of weird in thinking that the best match should be in the main event slot, but that's just me. The mat classic, as I said before, was great to see, but really sad to see at the same time. The first half-hour sucked because of how quick the matches were, but things managed to pick up a little bit at the tail end.

Fun With Comments

From OB1 Jabroni:
"The more I watch Bad Company now the second time around, the more I dig them.
Easily one of the most underrated teams of the day. I can't seem to shake the
midget sex comment from G-Walla from my mind. Thanks for the sleepless nights
ahead bro lol"

I agree about Badd Company, because they were a really great team, and I'm glad that they got some semblance of due as The Orient Express. It's just too bad that that turquoise zebra-print look didn't follow them to the WWF. That would have been instant money.

"Midget sex...that's hilarious.

There are DVDs available of that."

Ew. Just....EWW.

From G-Walla:
"OB1, I do what I can.

Slaughter's music saved this show for me. That and Larry Nelson freaking out
every few minutes. I was hoping for a few more segments with the Baron and
Ustinov or whatever that Russian guy's name is. I obviously can't be bothered
to scroll up the page to see.

I did miss hearing Badd Company, though."

I also missed hearing Badd Company, and the Slaughter music was terrible. Just terrible. The Baron and Ustinov segments weren't completely awful but you didn't miss much, trust me.

From Arnold_OldSchool:
"I wonder if the Sarge match is the same that was released on one of the AWA's
VHS series (yes they put squash matches on Best of Comps) Sarge even referenced
the WWF in his 1st AWA promo IIRC"

I believe I've actually seen the Slaughter VHS in question and I think that match is indeed on that tape. You've got to love references to the competition with your first promo in the new company though. Way to get in good with the boss.

Finally from Joe K. :
"Randy, you're right. Some team needs to bring back the slingshot into the DDT.
It's great not only because it looks cool but because it leads to a lot of
possibilities for counters & different match finishes (say, slingshot into
a crossbody by accident).

And I didn't know the epidemic of Russians using boards as weapons was so
rampant!It was like Nelson was doing a PSA for it."

I honestly thought that a move like that slingshot finisher would have been perfect for a team like TWGTT when they were running on top with the tag belts. Nowadays, a team like the Motor City Machine Guns could use a move like that and get it over like crazy. Yes, the board thing was going a little overboard, though it was funny to hear Nelson's "OH CRIMENY, JEEZ AND CHIMNEY!!!" when he was freaking out over Ustinov cracking the board over Kahn's head. Great unintentional comedy there.

That does it for the comments and does it for another edition of the AWA on ESPN Classic here at 411mania.com. Cheap Seats has a spelling bee and I love watching kids get mocked, so I'll see you all tomorrow for more wrestling action.


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