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 411mania » Wrestling » Video Reviews

411's AWA on ESPN Classic Report 06.03.08
Posted by Randy Harrison on 06.04.2008

411's AWA On ESPN Classic Report

AWA Championship Wrestling

Larry Nelson welcomes us to the show and runs down everything we're going to see, including a main event featuring Mando Guerrero vs. Pat Tanaka. HELL YES!!

Match One:
Chris Curtis vs. Cousin Luke

If it wasn't for Mando/Tanaka, I'd turn this show off right now. I'm still waiting for my gif of Cousin Luke high-stepping with Larry Nelson, which was hilarious. Cousin Luke's got Brandi Mae with him this week, presumably to pop the crowd for the short shorts. If they're really Tenneseeans, they probably really are cousins. Watch for the wedding ceremony on next week's episode. Luke ties his shoes and waves to the crowd like a Special Olympian before Curtis makes the world-renowned pantomime for Luke being an idiot. They hit a lockup and Luke pushes Curtis into the ropes, with Curtis complaining about a hairpull. Curtis pushes Luke into the ropes but doesn't break clean and hits him with a forearm before begging off. Curtis does the exact same thing again and then it's a third time, but Curtis turns his back and Luke hits him in the head with a double-sledge. 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. They lockup into the corner and Curtis rakes the eyes before Luke takes over with a couple of right hands and a turnbuckle smash. Curtis goes back to the eyes and hits some knees in the corner before trying an Irish whip and Luke ducks under, catching Curtis with a big clothesline on the return. Irish whip and Luke hits a double-sledge again and hits the big splash off the ropes which prompts Lee Marshall to excitedly exclaim "Whooo!". You can take the mullet out of the trailer park, but you can't take the trailer park out of the man. Three count mercifully finishes and here comes Brandi Mae and her ass-shorts. Yum.

Winner: Cousin Luke (pinfall, splash)

Match Analysis: Do you even really need to ask?

Larry Nelson's in the ring to interview Cousin Luke and this should be like watching a young Cronkite in action. Luke says he had inspiration in his corner and he says they call it "Country cousins". I swear to you, I couldn't make this stuff up. Brandi Mae gets on and says that she was glad to help him out "country style" and be his back-up. Nelson brings up Luke's winning streak and Luke says that every Saturday night, they either have a bath or a ho-down. My guess is that there are about 50 ho-downs a year. Nelson gets a kiss on the cheek and nearly blows a load in his pants but Luke follows it up with a kiss of his own, sending Nelson's fantasy-land into shambles.

After the break, Bill Apter is with the Top Guns for another AWA Press Conference. He runs down all the names the tag team has been called and surprisingly misses "The Losers of the Match" and "The Greatest Tag Team Never To Reach Six Wins". Apter asks about where they started and Rice says that they grew up together, played hockey together and now they're a tag team. He says that they want the AWA belts and that anytime Badd Company is willing to sign, they'll take them on. Talk turns to Teijo and Soldat and Paul says that it's a way for them to move up the ladder to get their tag title shots. Apter speculates that the way that they put down America might upset the Top Guns. Can't imagine why really. There's no formal challenge coming to Badd Company yet, but it's coming according to the Guns. Paul is asked for their American pledge and he holds up his hand like he's swearing himself under oath and says "I did not have sexual relations with that wom..." Wait, wrong pledge. He says "We pledge to win the AWA tag team belts". So the pledge is basically the same thing they said through the entire interview. Why not just start with the pledge so that everyone could have been spared the five minutes?

Match Two:
Larry Biccone and David Koorijion vs. Soldat Ustinov and Teijo Kahn

I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Sheik Adnan El-Kaissie. He'd make these two stiffs a lot more interesting. Kahn and Koorijion start things out and Kooriijion gets a shitty armdrag takedown that Kahn doesn't even bother to sell and he just chokes at Koorijion against the bottom rope. Kahn drags him out and chops the piss out of him and drops him with a headbutt, before sending Koorijion in for an Irish whip. The godawfullest excuse for a powerslam I have EVER seen in my life follows and Kahn gets a shot to the ribs and another before tagging in Ustinov. Ustinov with a BIG turnbuckle smash and an even bigger yell before he picks Koorijion up and clotheslines him across the top rope. That gets a two-count and Ustinov Irish whips him in and Koorijion botches a hip toss bump. Another two-count and the heels trade tags before Kahn Irish whips Koorijion into the ropes for a HUGE Ustinov clothesline that gets the 1-2-3!!

Winners: Soldat Ustinov and Teijo Kahn (pinfall, Ustinov clothesline)

Match Analysis: Squash to the tenth power. Sadly, both teams end up looking horrible because Koorijion's selling and botches made it look like Ustinov and Kahn didn't know what they were doing. I mean sure, both guys were a little green but those were all on Koorijion. At least they kept a brisk pace while they did it.

Match Three:
Bryan Costello and Pete Sanchez vs. The Top Guns

Paul and Rice run around ringside to slap hands with the front row like the ass-kissers they are and Rice and Sanchez get things underway with a lockup. Sanchez gives him a clean break and looks REALLY proud of himself for it. The crowd, not so much and he tells them to shut up. Sanchez tries an Irish whip but eats a kick for his troubles and after a little bit of nothing, Rice loads up with his HUGE dropkick and puts Sanchez to the floor, while Paul hits Costello with a dropkick of his own to send Costello reeling. Costello and Sanchez share a man-hug on the outside and Sanchez sloooooooooooooowly makes his way back into the ring. Top wristlock from Rice and he starts cranking away at the arm before tagging in Jon Paul for a modified Mexican armdrag. Sanchez tags in Costello and they lockup with Paul giving a clean break off the ropes. Costello pushes Paul into the corner and lands a forearm before following it up with some hard knees and headbutts. He goes to the eyes and blinds Paul for a moment before Irish whipping him across into the corner. Costello charges in and hits a running splash before trying the Irish whip again. Paul counters this time and makes the tag to Rice, who comes in and works the arm-wringer before whipping Costello into the ropes for a big back bodydrop. Rice tags Paul and hits a HARD powerslam before Paul comes off the top rope with a flying elbow. Paul with the pin and it's all over!

Winners: The Top Guns (pinfall, Paul top-rope elbow)

Match Analysis: They tried really hard with the Guns, but to me it just alway seemed like something was missing. If they had been able to team someone with Ricky Rice who had the same amount of potential, both in-ring and on the mic, I think that the team would have done a lot better. This match was pretty much the same as any other Top Gun match from the time period with them putting their rudimentary high-flying moves on display every chance they got.

Bumper promo from Madusa and she calls Mimi a broad again before saying that she needs to have some credentials before she even thinks of stepping in the ring with Madusa. Miceli tells Mimi to get a partner, but doubts she can because no one knows who she is. Madusa says that her and Debbie Combs will take on Mimi if she can manage to scrounge up a partner. If she's wrestling Combs, Mimi's tag partner better be her lunch and dinner.

Match Four: Mat Classic
The Fabulous Ones w/The Crusher vs. The Road Warriors w/ Paul Ellering

Sadly, this is the same Mat Classic that they've shown previously between these two teams which means I won't bother to do it again. Still fun to see Winnipeg Arena full for the AWA though.

Back from commercial and it's Big K time. He shittily acts through a "phone call" with DDP before starting in with his idiocy. He talks about Cousin Luke and says that the guy is "greased lightning". He tries to put over The Top Guns and talks up on them before saying that he wants to see Kahn/Ustinov vs. The Top Guns. He talks about Hennig and Gagne's match, saying that if Hennig wanted to win, he should have listened to Big K. If I have to hear him say that one more time, I jam a pencil into my eardrum just so I won't have to "listen to Big K". Surprisingly though, he keeps it short. He must have used all his material up when he was acting earlier.

Larry Nelson throws it to comments from Teijo Kahn and Soldat Ustinov and Ustinov says that Kahn is crazy like him and then they threaten Baron Von Raschke and Ustinov says that he has a partner in mind for Baron. He suggests the Sgt. Slaughter before talking shit on Slaughter, saying that he's nothing more than a cartoon character and that he means nothing to the Russian people.

Match Five:
Mike Luca vs. Manny Fernandez

This should be short and violent unless Luca's chest hair gets a chokehold on Manny. Fernandez pushes Luca into the corner and chops him before getting whipped into the corner and Luca catches him with a back bodydrop out of said corner. Not a good idea, Mike. Fernandez pushes him into the corner again and lands a couple of headbutts before hammering with a forearm. Irish whip into the corner and Fernandez CHARGES and rams headlong into Luca. Irish whip off the ropes and a SNAPPING chop lands for Fernandez before he does a little war cry to mock Wahoo. Reverse elbow off the ropes from Fernandez and he calls for THE BURRITO!! Lee Marshall explains that a burrito is a Mexican sandwich and that Fernandez sandwiches his opponent. That doesn't make any sense at all. It's FLYING BURRITO TIME~! There's the three-count and Fernandez comes off the second-rope with a flying kneedrop. He goes up for another one and we cut to some woman laughing in the front row and HERE'S ANOTHER KNEEDROP FOR YOU!! Fernandez yells about how bad he is and here comes a stretcher for Luca.

Winner: Manny Fernandez (pinfall, flying burrito)

Match Analysis: It was short and it was violent. I still get that they were trying to make Manny out as the legitimate badass and maybe he was, but to me I just don't feel it. Personal distaste aside, I'm sure that the people watching at the time bought into it at least a little, so it worked to an extent. If he'd picked a fight with anyone other than Wahoo though, it probably would have been dead in the water.

Post-match, Fernandez steals the mic again saying that it's all about "pain, dues, and agony" and that he's been running around the world trying to beat all the trash that they put in the ring with the best wrestler in the world. He talks about Wahoo and his Indian pride again and HERE COMES WAHOO!! Wahoo says that he's whipped his ass once before and that Fernandez needs to take his ass back to the locker room so that Wahoo can talk! Wahoo turns his back and FERNANDEZ ATTACKS!! DOWN GOES WAHOO!! FERNANDEZ TEARS UP HIS HEADDRESS AND DROPS THE FEATHERS ON WAHOO!! Wahoo makes it back to his feet and he's PISSED. Larry Nelson comes in and asks Wahoo how he's feeling and Wahoo says that it's embarassing. He says that it's not funny because it means a lot to him. He says it's not something you just go and buy somewhere and talks about how it was handed down to him by his father. He says it's embarassing because it's like his heritage was torn up and then Wahoo tells him to get ready because that headdress is nothing like what Fernandez is going to look like when he's finished with him.

Match Six:
Mando Guerrero vs. Pat Tanaka w/Diamond Dallas Page

DDP says that because Badd Company is too good as a team, they will be split up to wrestle as singles from time to time. He messes up his B-A-Double D catchphrase and after some of the usual stalling, this one is underway. Mando mocks Tanaka with the Crane pose again and Tanaka doesn't like it at all. Mando flips himself out through the middle and bottom ropes to chase after DDP and Tanaka comes out to protect his manager. The match finally gets underway with Guerrero getting a wristlock on Tanaka, reaching down deep with it before taking Tanaka over. Mando lands a series of kicks before taking Tanaka down again, dropping some elbows on the outstretched arm of Tanaka. Mando works the rowboat on Tanaka's arm before landing three straight heel strikes to Tanaka's face. Mando mounts Tanaka and gets a two-count before Tanaka executes a bridge to break the pin attempt. Tanaka reverses it and Guerrero has him cradled, rocking him up and down a little before Tanaka goes to the eyes to spare himself further embarassment.

Tanaka lands some shots in the corner before moving to an arm-wringer, transitioning that into a hammerlock. Mando flips over Tanaka onto his back, kips up and gets a roll-up off the ropes for a two-count. Tanaka claims a pull of the tights and Guerrero responds by getting a go-behind into a bodyscissors. Mando rolls Tanaka around the ring with the bodyscissors before getting a pin attempt that scores him a long two-count. Guerrero ties up Tanaka's arms around his own neck and Tanaka breaks that with a foot to the gut before Irish whipping Guerrero in for a flying forearm. Tanaka with some right hands and he rams Guerrero into the turnbuckle before getting a snap mare into a side headlock. Guerrero gets a belly-to-back suplex out of that though and a vicious pair of forearms before he puts Tanaka down with a standing dropkick. Two-count for that and Guerrero moves to a backslide for another two-count.

Armbar from Guerrero gets broken up by a Tanaka knee and Tanaka tries an Irish whip into the corner but it's reversed, though Mando misses the charge, ramming his shoulder into the buckle. Tanaka takes over with a hard chop into a headbutt that gets him a long-ish two-count. Reverse chinlock from Tanaka and Guerrero gets to his feet and rams Tanaka head-first into the top turnbuckle before getting a series of right hands and a chop. Tanaka in the corner and Mando gets a MONKEY FLIP! Double-stomp to the gut from Guerrero and he follows that up with a weird looking suplex. Guerrero sets Tanaka up for the Mexican Surfboard and Tanaka sells it even before the hold is applied, screaming to be let go from it. Once Guerrerro cranks him into the air he REALLY starts selling, screaming blue murder and HERE COMES PAUL DIAMOND!!! STOMPS TO MANDO!! IRISH WHIP FROM DIAMOND AND MANDO FLIPS OVER A BACK BODYDROP ATTEMPT AND AVOIDS BOTH MEN LONG ENOUGH TO HIT A DOUBLE SPLASH!! The referee calls for the bell and Badd Company hits a double-clothesline before they hit their WGTT finisher. Tanaka slugs down the referee and they tie Mando up in the ropes feet-first. Tanaka hammers away on the outside and DIAMOND THROWS THE REFEREE TO THE FLOOR!! HERE COME THE TOP GUNS FROM THE BACK!! BADD COMPANY TAKES THE HIGH ROAD!!

Winner: Mando Guerrero (disqualification, Diamond-ference)

Match Analysis: A little too much stalling in the beginning and a pretty predictable finish, but still a lot of fun in the meantime. Mando was still doing all of his next-level stuff and Tanaka was a guy that could keep up with it and bring his own innovations to the match. I loved Tanaka's selling the whole way through and after seeing him a few times, they really should have tried to keep him around and get him further up the card, but no one thought that people would be interested in that at the top of the card back then I suppose.

Rod Trongard is DISGUSTED and calls it some of the most despicable actions he's ever seen. Lee Marshall is DISGUSTED!! I'm DISGUSTED...at the show, and we're out for another edition of the AWA on ESPN Classic!!

Final Thoughts

A pretty fair show all the way around, but it all came off fairly flat. The main event was really solid with two seasoned professionals, but even that was still only enough to get my thumb to the middle. The only guys that seemed like they had the crowd's full attention were Mando and Tanaka and even their good match wasn't enough to offset the suck that was Cousin Luke. Thumbs in the middle, but still a much better show than I thought it was going to be when it started out with that retarded hillbilly.

Fun With Comments

From James:
"All due respect, Arnold, but I think I posted that WON tidbit a few shows back.
(the Meltzer recaps on the "Passion for the Business" board are
awesome, are they not?) I bet Randy will put up with DDP's annoying interviews
knowing that it could have been the Big K there instead. Even if I am now
marking out for K in spite of myself, just cause these segments are so bad
they're good. If you disagree, you need to use Baron Wron Rashley's baseball
bat as a toothpick (see the gems you miss by FF'ing the segments????)

When did DDP meet Kimberly, BTW?"

Yeah, Kowalski would do a little better with his promos if he didn't sound like he was chewing on a couple donuts at once. As for DDP meeting Kimberly, that was around 1990 or so at one of his nightclubs in Florida as I've heard it told a few times. It seems solid enough for me, so I'll go with that.

From Greg:
"K, here's something that annoyed during the 6man. WHY THE FUCK DOESN AWA CUT TO
A CROWD SHOT EVERY TIME THE HEEL DO A MOVE! Sorry for the caps but that drove
me nuts.

I can only imagine the conversation Paul and Rice had in the back when they
went looking for a partner

Rice" K, who wants to join us in a fight against a guy with a fake russian
accent, an asian who can';t work, and a mexican who won't sell and is stiff as


Paul" There's a 40 of JD in it for whoever joins us"

Gibson" I'm in" "

Sadly, that's probably not very far off from the real conversation. Still hilarous though, so well played.

From Guest:
"I've never heard a more dead crowd for a Hennig or Saito match than the Mat

If I'm not mistaken Curt was just coming off of his Portland run and at the
time in the AWA was still really only known as Larry Hennig's kid and came down
with the Greg Gagne Syndrome where your matches get no heat because the only
thing people know you for is who your daddy is.

Saito was a known commodity, and could get heat, but he was never booked as a
big time player in the AWA until his matches with Zbyszko so the crowd didn't
have any reason to care about the match.

Shame too because it was fine in-ring work, and probably better than some of
the other stuff on the card featuring people like Mad Dog Vachon and the

That was by far the deadest crowd that I've seen for pretty much anything on the AWA shows. You're right about the work being decent enough, but the crowd just killed it for me.

From Frozen:
"I agree w/ Greg re: the cutaway shots. It's really maddening when they cut to a
fan while a pin is being attempted.

Also, on the subject of the fans, it's interesting to see how many senior
citizens were fans back then as opposed to today's wrestling. Same thing with
women. There seemed to be more chicks at the matches back then."

There were lots of seniors in the crowd, which leads me to believe that they must have taken a wrong turn on their way to the Showboat's early-bird buffet. As for the women, I don't think Chippendales was a Vegas attraction yet and the men needed somewhere to drop their ladies off before hitting the strip clubs.

From Rob:
"Wow. Now THAT'S what the AWA was missing - action between wrestlers that fired
the crowd up. That was one hell of a brawl after the six-man match was thrown
out. Just all out mayhem. Logically, you would think they'd do a cage match
to contain those guys, but we'll see.

How did they miss the boat on Mando Guerrero? That guy was way over, but I
don't recall him ever getting a big push. He would have been a much better TV
champ than Greg.

One thing Verne did get right was how he made Badd Company seem like a very big
deal. I get fired up now when that music starts and they stroll out to the ring
like true badasses. Too bad Vince wasted them as the Orient Express, because
these guys could go."

Funny you, thinking that the AWA would do anything logically. To me, they probably didn't push Mando because he was just a special attraction that was probably only going to work the tapings before heading back to Mexico. As for Vince wasting The Orient Express, they were never quite as over as they were in the AWA because they got stuck in a corner when Sato left and I don't think they could have just dropped Diamond in and recreated Badd Company. They had to plop Diamond into the Express under a hood and despite them having good matches, they could never catch the lightning they had in the AWA.

From Scrotum Pole:
" "HARD" chops by Fernandez." Are there any other?
Tramp stamp shot of the night: "He is a giant, yellow, black hole of
suck." BULLSEYE!"

Well, I call them like I see them, giving my behind the scenes scoop of all the action from twenty years ago.

From Guest#2516:
"I know one way Mimi could have improved her interview. Tell us how Gene taught
her how to choke people out until they mess their pants."

That would make anything more interesting really. Judo Gene is the man.

From Joe K. :
"Did you notice that when the Top Guns were interviewed, Rice was mouthing Paul's
lines from the teleprompter when Paul was talking. Tremendous amateur hour stuff

And to prove Big K was once the smartest man in wrestling, he once lost a match
to The Crusher in the early 70s over the right to use the name crusher (as Big K
was Crusher Kowalski). So what did Big K do? Come back the next week as KRUSHER
Kowalski! With a K! HHH couldn't have been any smarter!


I did notice that. It was pretty funny in a high-school newscast kind of way, and showed that even their interviews were green. As for Big K, I'd be loathe to call him smart for any reason, but that's a good way to get a gimmick over and get some decent paydays from The Crusher when he was huge. That part is smart. The rest of it is classic Big K. Terrible and seemingly pointless.

From Kayfaber:
"The multiple dropkicks outside the ring officially got Ricky Rice's foot in the
door with me. Gotta give props to that."

Yeah, I'm sure those helped, though they seemed pretty high on him to begin with. I'd give him some props if he hadn't nearly crippled himself on that dropkick in the ring. That was ugly and he's lucky he didn't end up seriously hurt off of that one.

Finally from Guest. :
"Sick last night, and the usual guy who puts the AWA stuff up on Youtube didn't
have the 2nd part of the tag match, so I didn't see that, but show thoughts.

1: I have to give it to Verne for his beliefs in promoting Amateur Wrestling,
even if it was boring TV. I'd like to see him still around today, having
grabbed Lesnar and Benjamin, just to see how hard he'd have pushed those two.

2: Am I the only one who noticed the goofy look on Diamond's face when he came
out? It being the time period, I'd have no doubt he was on something coming
into the match, though Paul Diamond high is still better than 75% of the
wrestlers today.

3: I wonder if Mondo Guerrero was only in the AWA part-time, because along with
Badd Company, he's really becoming a fun part to watch, even if the quality goes
down before our eyes.

4: Honestly, when the Top Gunns announced their mystery partner, I was thinking
Wahoo, or Greg Gagne since he usually was that guy. Morton.... not a good
choice. Don't get me wrong, real good wrestler, but the R&R Express were
already out of the AWA, as mentioned by Page's promo, he was gone as well, so
why not further the Wahoo/Manny feud, or hell, throw Raschke in there for that
feud. Morton made for a good match but he really didn't have any long-term

5: Got to mention, I saw this right before I began vomitting the second time,
but I loved the look on Khan's face after that throat chop, in what I don't
think was a planned spot, and was the teams improvising as it'd been stupid not
to do that at that point."

Sorry to hear about the sickness. Get better soon. As to your comments...

1. He'd have pushed them to the moon and they still wouldn't have been able to save the territory. The simple reason being that they'd have no one to work with. I get what Verne was trying to do with his commitment to amateur wrestling, but still, it was TV time he could have used to get someone else over that was actually with the company.

2. Yeah, something was up with Diamond, but honestly, he has the same goofy look in nearly every interview they did in front of that hideous pink backdrop. Diamond was weird in that when you looked at him from far away, he looked tremendous, but when you closed in on him, he had that kind of goofy looking face. Must be why Vince stuck him under the hood.

3. I'm fairly certain that he still was, making himself available to the AWA for the TV tapings and the odd spot show while still maintaining a pretty full schedule in Mexico. They really should have tried to bring him in full time though. I mean it wouldn't have saved anything, but Mando deserved a shot because his work was pretty much the best stuff on this show at the time besides Badd Company and Hennig/Lawler.

4. There were lots of better ways they could have gone with that six-man, but my guess is that they wanted Gibson in there to legitimize the Top Guns as the new rock n' roll team. Kind of a passing of the torch or something like that. That and I'm sure that Verne wanted to get as much out of Gibson for the money he'd already paid them before Gibson took off.

5. Kahn had some decent facial expressions, I'll give you that. Too bad he couldn't work worth a damn to go with it. If he'd been a decent worker and knew a little about psychology he'd have been pretty good but he was learning on the job and didn't really get the time to be any good.

That's it for comments, and that's it for me, I'm out!! See you all tomorrow!!

The 411
Final Score:  0.0   [ Torture ]  legend


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