By Jared "JHawk" Hawkins
May 12, 2002, 20:52
Retro Recaps from JHawk's Beak: AWA Wrestlerock
by Jared "JHawk" Hawkins
We're going old school baby!
In an effort to recap some tapes that aren't done at most sites...and to get mind off of the WWF and WWE and that bullshit, I dug into my vault of over 600 wrestling tapes and dug out the AWA's Wrestlerock 1986. You all owe me a video or DVD of my choice for sitting through this, as it runs close to four hours and is an interesting little piece of work.
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with Wrestlerock...or the AWA for that matter...Wrestlerock was Verne Gagne's idea to capitalize on Vince McMahon's rock 'n' wrestling craze. Just like Verne...a day late and a dollar short. There was one main problem with the AWA. It's kind of like puroresu...it might be good, but if you're not used to it four hours is a long damn time to watch it. Except puroresu is usually pretty good and the AWA wasn't after about 1983 or so.
Anyway, onto the show, and you'll notice a different format from my TV rants since we don't have this split up into segments like we do for Raw and SmackDown! We'll do what we can here though.
April 20, 1986
From the Metrodome (Minneapolis, MN)
A look at the PWI Almanac shows that the first match, not on my copy of the tape, had Brad Rheignans defeating Boris Zhukov. I like Rheignans and hate Zhukov, so call that one a wash.
Midget Tag Team Match scheduled for one fall with a 15 minute time limit: Lord Littlebrook/Little Tokyo vs. Little Mr. T/Cowboy Lang
Ring announcer Gary Michael Capetta nearly introduces Little Tokyo as Little Mr. T. Your broadcaster is Ron Trongard, who you'll never recognize if you didn't follow the AWA because he sucked. Although he did do a few house shows for the WWF just so McMahon could fuck with Verne's head. In fact, Trongard's main contribution to the WWF was claiming "I don't know anything about The Rockers" on an episode of Prime Time Wrestling, when in fact not only did he know about The Rockers, but he called most of their AWA matches. Tokyo and Lang start, and Tokyo gets a side headlock. Yes, a resthold in a midget match. Tokyo tags in Lord Littlebrook, and Littlebrook targets the head and shoulder. Hair takedown into an armbar, and referee Gary Lumpkin calls for the break. Littlebrook goes back to the arm. Reverse chinlock now. Tokyo tagged back in, and he uses chops and open hand slaps. Headlock is countered, but Lang still can't tag. Oops, spoke too soon, and we have our rematch of SuperClash 1. It's all Little Mr. T. Dropkicks. Side headlock. Tokyo breaks it with a handful of punches. Eye gouge. And now the double team in full view of the referee. Misdirection spot leads to Littlebrook choking Tokyo against the ropes and not realizing it. Yeah, cute. Littlebrook against T now, and Littlebrook gains the advantage with thumbs to the throat. Backdrop at the 5:00 call. Reverse chinlock. Littlebrook is apparently slipping it into a choke as he shields it from the referee. Another heel miscommunication spot, and Littlebrook yells at Tokyo for it. Tags on each end, and Lang takes down Tokyo with a Beell throw, then jumps on top of him. Tags on each end again, and it's T with the headlock. Tag to Tokyo, and he backdrops T. T comes back with a headbutt, then with an airplane spin for a nice pop. Cover, but Littlebrook makes the save, and we redo the spot again, complete with save. All four in and the rowboat spot, and then the dogpile on the referee spot. T and Tokyo back at it, and T backdrops Tokyo over. Tag to Littlebrook, tag to Lang, and Lang with a scissor roll into a pin for the win at 10:01. *
Capetta introduces a local horse owner and talk show host. I didn't catch the name and don't really care.
One fall with a 15 minute time limit: Col. DeBeers vs. Chief Wahoo McDaniel
DeBeers, the ultimate white supremecist gimmick, and Native American McDaniel. And you thought Vince McMahon exploited racial stereotypes. DeBeers' gimmick could never be done today, but it was actually gold in 1986. Seriously. Your referee is Steve Olsonoski, aka Steve O, who was a pretty solid technical wrestler in his own right. Lockup, DeBeers gets McDaniel into the corner and breaks clean. DeBeers goes into the wristlock, but McDaniel breaks it with a chop. Headlock by McDaniel, into the corner, DeBeers with a knee, Wahoo with a right hand. Wahoo goes into a wristlock and focuses on the arm. Neat wrestling sequence ends with Wahoo using a hammerlock. DeBeers counters it into an armbar, and on the break DeBeers begins to go into brawling mode. Of course, Wahoo's all "You wanna brawl with me? OK" and begins to Tomahawk chop away. DeBeers out to the floor for a Tastykake break, but when he gets back in it's more of the same. DeBeers finally gets into the match with knees to the head and brawls into control, tossing McDaniel to the floor. McDaniel back to the apron, and they exchange blows until Wahoo gains an advantage and reenters the ring. Stereotypical war dance into many chops knocks DeBeers out of the ring, and when DeBeers reenters, Wahoo throws DeBeers over the top rope and gets disqualifed at 5:03. Wahoo is pissed because the over the top rope rule sucked, and he does much much damage to DeBeers on the floor after the match. My guess is they did rematches around the circuit, and they couldn't have been much worse. 1/2*
Capetta shills the souvenir stand, complete with cassette tapes of the "Wrestlerock Rumble".
The guest ring announcer is the sports director at Channel 11.
Larry Nelson interviews Buddy Rose and Doug Somers, who want to use The Midnight Rockers as a steppingstone to the World Tag Team Title. And coincidentally, it's next!
One fall with a 15 minute time limit: "Playboy" Buddy Rose and "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers (w/"Not Yet Sensational" Sherri Martel) vs. The Midnight Rockers
Yes, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty are the Midnight Rockers. Rose is listed at 271 pounds but claims to weigh 217. The actual number at the time was closer to 240, but by 1990 was about 315. Martel is a "manageress" and not a "valet". Get it right. Referee Marty Miller, most famous for being the referee for Jerry Lawler vs. Kerry Von Erich at SuperClash 3, finally calls for the bell. Martel will be wrestling in a 10-lady battle royal later tonight as if there wasn't enough crap on the card. Rose and Jannetty start, and Rose does four one-arm pushups. Jannetty does a few because this is apparently good psychology in the AWA. Now a trade of kip-ups. Jannetty tags in Michaels, who backflips off the top rope. Rose goes to attempt it, but hops off the top rope before he falls off. He tries again, but Shawn shakes the ropes and down goes Rose. Finally Somers tags in and we have contact. Michaels with a series of armdrags into an armbar. Trongard admits Rose is closer to 247 pounds, thus ruining the entire gimmick. Rose in, and after a shoulderblock, he gets armdragged down coming off the ropes and into the armbar we go. Jannetty in, and he bodyslams a whale...OK, it's just Buddy Rose. Another armbar...notice a pattern here? Somers tags in, but he gets an armbar for his trouble. Somers whips Jannetty in the corner, but misses the charge and hits the shoulder on the ringpost. NOW you do the armbar! Double team by the Rockers, double chop, tag to Rose. Single-leg by Rose, cartwheel (!), and jumping jacks. A decent wrestling sequence ends with Jannetty cartwheeling to avoid a monkey flip at the 5:00 call. Jannetty in the wrong corner, but...you guessed it...heel miscommunication spot and Rose chops Somers. Michaels tagged in, and he puts Rose in an arm stretch and gets two. Rose rolls over until Shawn is on his shoulders, and there's 2, but Jannetty in to reverse and Miller ignores the infraction and counts 2 anyway. Hiplock, armdrag, tag to Jannetty. Jannetty with a kneedrop to the arm. And an armbar. Get rid of the armbars and this is actually not that bad so far. Double team leads to a kneelift for 2, and Michaels covers for 2. Somers with a cheap forearm, and the heels finally get to do some damage of their own. Plenty of quick tags and doubleteaming. Rose with a flying elbow for 2. Somers in, and a suplex gets 2. Rose in, and a hard whip into the corner at the 10:00 call. Front facelock, but a suplex attempt is countered by Michaels. Tags on each side, and Jannetty goes to work on Somers. Flying elbow and a cover for only 1. Powerslam for 3, BUT Rose had put Somers' foot on the ropes so the match continues. Trongard said Sherri did it, but whatever. All four in the ring. Double atomic drop on Rose. Double backdrop to Somers followed by a double elbowdrop. Jannetty up top, but Rose trips him off the top rope! Somers covers, Jannetty's foot is on the ropes, but Miller doesn't see it, as Sherri shoves the foot off while Miller makes the official three count at 12:03. Decent once it got going. **
Nelson interviews the winners and their manageress, who do some bragging and denying there was any unfairness whatsoever.
Capetta introduces University of Minnesota athletic director Paul Gill. Are there any so-called celebrities in attendance that non-Minnesotans have heard of? NOT named Gagne? Oh.
Ken Resnick of RollerJam fame interviews Buck Zunhofe about his match with Tiger Mask. Of course, since he's "Rock 'n' Roll" Buck Zumhofe, he's carrying a boom box that plays "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits. As a result I can't understand a damn thing he's saying. That's a good thing. The problem with the gimmick is A) it's asinine and B) Zumhofe looks more like Alan Jackson than any rock 'n' roller I've ever met.
One fall with a 15 minute time limit: Buck Zumhofe vs. Tiger Mask
I think this is the second Tiger Mask and I can't keep any of them straight as to who was playing the role when, although I'm sure I'll be e-mailed about it. Then again, this is a Verne Gagne promotion, so for all we know it could be Paul Diamond under the mask. He's too short to be Diamond though. Your referee is Larry Lisowski. I've never heard of him either. Trongard has never seen Tiger Mask before, so he's going to be more lost than usual. Lockup, into the ropes, clean break. Wrestling sequence ends with an armbar. Let's just call that "spot #1" and the armbar "move #1" from now on to save some typing. Zumhofe with a standing wristlock, but Tiger Mask flips around until he reverses it, and Zumhofe is quickly out of it. Another wrestling sequence ending in a spinning toehold. Legsnap by Zumhofe, and another. Finally, strategy not involving the arm. Conventional toehold into a spinning toehold, and occasionally the shoulders hit the mat for 1 and 2 counts. Zumhofe with a shitty Boston crab, and Tiger Mask rolls out of it. Trongard is impressed because he was raised on AWA action. Beautiful dropkick by Tiger Mask gets 2. Tiger Mask decides to keep focusing on the arm...well, it was fun while it lasted. Wrestling counter sequence ends with Tiger Mask snapmaring Zumhofe down and going back to an armbar. Zumhofe gets a hiptoss in for two. Mask with a high cross body for 2. Vertical suplex for 2. Trongard seems surprised the match isn't over. I guess a suplex was a finisher after 1963 in the AWA. Zumhofe decides to go for the mask (who's the face here anyway?), but of course it doesn't work. Bodyslam for 2. Earringer followed by a faceslam and another 2 count. Tiger Mask comes back with some alleged martial arts and gets 2. Zumhofe with an abdominal stretch, which hadn't gotten a submission in about three years at this point, and Mask hiptosses Zumhofe out of the ring and uses what might be the AWA's only plancha ever. Zumhofe finally makes it back in at 8. Mask goes for a dropkick but Zumhofe avoids it. Zumhofe goes for a suplex, but Mask blocks it, slams him down, and uses a standing somersault senton from the top rope for the pin at 10:55. Eh, not horrid, but still rather flat, as the crowd didn't really want to root for Zumhofe but didn't know Tiger Mask enough to cheer for him either. *1/2 Plenty of near falls and that makes a match much easier to get into in my opinion.
A local radio guy and the governor of Minnesota come in to make a special presentation to Verne Gagne and declare April 20, 1986 "Verne Gagne Day" in the state of Minnesota. Christ, he already retired as champion 15 years past his prime, so now he needs to be given his own day--celebrated statewide--on a show that he promoted too? If there's anybody in the business with a bigger ego than Hulk Hogan, it's Verne Gagne. Gagne shows his appreciation by making the governor an honorary member of the AWA, complete with Wrestlerock T-shirt. I'd have rather seen the Boris Zhukov match.
Resnick interviews Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo, who are making their first appearance as a tag team since Windham left the WWF six months earlier. But Mike, what about Danny Spivey?
A new guest ring announcer, who is another local radio guy.
One fall with a 30 minute time limit: Barry Windham/Mike Rotundo vs. The Fabulous Ones
YES YES YES! For those who don't know, the Fabs are "Sweet" Stan Lane of Midnight Express fame and Steve Keirn, who you'd know better as Skinner from early-1990s WWF. That's at least two or three times they've called Windham and Rotundo "former WWF tag team champions". Well, at least they're not the "hot new team on the horizon". Windham and Lane start. Shoves exchanged after the third lockup, but other than that, a feeling out process to start. Finally action, as Windham off the ropes with a shoulderblock. Monkey flip teased by Lane, but Windham hits him to avoid it. Lane with an arm wringer, reversed by Windham, tag to Rotundo, and Rotundo with Spot #1. Quick tags by Windham and Rotundo as they both work on the arm. Keirn tags in, but the faces still work on the arm. Keirn and Rotundo exchange forearm smashes. Trongard gets Rotundo and Windham completely confused. You thought JR was bad with Jericho and Benoit. Windham has a reverse chinlock on Keirn at the 5:00 call. Trongard calls Windham "Rotundo" three times before he finally catches his mistake. Where's Ed Ferrara to imitate him when we need him. Rotundo tagged in, double dropkick, and Rotundo into the reverse chinlock. Rotundo finally makes a mistake as he misses the charge into the corner and hits the turnbuckle shoulder first, and now The Fabs are doing the double teaming. Of course, the Fabs are using heel tactics and aren't focusing on the arm. Rotundo is thrown out of the ring by Lane, and Windham helps him in. Rotundo tries for a sunset flip but Lane avoids it. Keirn in, front facelock with an incognito choke that Trongard doesn't even catch, and Lane is tagged in. Swinging neckbreaker. Elbowdrop attempt misses, and Rotundo tags in Windham. Windham on both men. Powerslam onto Lane and Keirn makes the save at 2. Lane with a crawling headbutt. Tag to Keirn. Reverse chinlock with an incognito choke that Trongard only catches because Rotundo complains about it as we get the 10:00 call. Windham with a sunset flip, but Keirn has the referee distracted so we get a 10-second two count. Small package, but again the ref is distracted and again it only gets 2. Keirn in now and he uses a side headlock. Windham punches out of it, but Lane tags himself in. Irish whip, Windham with a kick to the head. Criss cross into a collision spot. Windham makes the tag, dropkick by Rotundo. Elbowsmash. Legdrop to the groin. Airplane spin (Rotundo's finisher at the time), and Keirn trips Rotundo, which causes Lane to fall on top for 2. That probably should have been the finish. Lane goes for a piledriver, but Windham comes off the top with a flying lariat, and Windham covers for the pin at 14:01. Normally I'd complain that the illegal man got the pin, but I'm already disappointed that the match was as boring as it was. * Too many restholds and both teams were capable of going that long at a blindingly fast pace.
It's Minneapolis, so introduce the state attorney general.
And from disappointment to putting the suicide note next to the VCR, as it's One fall with a 20 minute time limit: Bulldog Bob Brown vs. Shohei "The Giant" Baba.
The late Brown was a former Central States champion who is well past his prime at this point. The late Baba, accompanied here by the Great Kojima, has to be the most overrated wrestler in the world. Ever. His style's slow, he's about 7'4" and 100 pounds (well, 316 pounds), and yet somehow he managed to become a Japanese legend and three time NWA World Champion. I'd assume he kissed Rikidozan's ass but Rikidozan was dead before Baba ever got started in the business. Oh sorry, the match. Move #1 by Baba. Brown gets to the ropes and chops Baba. Baba returns the chop with a shitty chop of his own, and the dead crowd is "loving it" according to Trongard. Yeah, well, it's Minnesota, they apparently love being snowed in and show just as much enthusiasm about it as they do about Baba. Baba with a headscissors. Kick to the midsection. I assume that's move #1 but he's literally holding it like "OK, now do I twist it, or clamp down, or what?" This guy was a fucking legend? Weak knees to the midsection. I swear, it doesn't look like he's even trying. Brown rakes the back and eyes and it looks stiffer than those knees did. Baba avoids the legdrop and begins "punching" Brown at the 5:00 call. Christ, end already! Baba with a Big Boot (that actually looks decent) for the pin at 5:09 officially, closer to 5:45 and about 5:50 too long at any rate. Thank God it's over! DUD, because that's as low as the scale goes. How the fuck did Baba ever get over anywhere?
Introduce another no-name to a dead crowd, Gary! You know you want to! Ah, there we go, the GM of some local TV station.
Ken Resnick interviews 8-time NWA World Champion Harley Race, who is ready to take on former AWA World Champion Rick Martel. Race says he wants his shot at Stan Hansen's AWA World Title.
Your guest ring announcer is some local radio guy, but he was the ring announcer in St. Paul so at least it makes sense. I guess Gagne was afraid he'd lose the market in his hometown if everybody even remotely involved in the local media went unnoticed.
Battle of ex-champions scheduled for one fall with a 20 minute time limit: Harley Race vs. Rick Martel
They're called "ex" champions because "former" champion implies they have a snowball's chance in hell of actually beating Stan Hansen. Side headlock by Race, Martel throws him into the ropes and hiptosses him over. Into move #1, but Race sends him into the ropes, leapfrogs (!) over Martel, but Martel with an armdrag into and armbar. Martel backdrops Race while maintaining the armbar. I'm starting to think AWA stands for "Armbar Wrestling Association". Race catches Martel off the ropes and comes down with a kneedrop. Diving headbutt, and then a reverse chinlock. I think the reverse chinlock is officially move #2. Boring chants start as Martel tries to power out of the chinlock. Martel is able to get a near fall before going back to...you guessed it, the armbar. The AWA is the greatest wrestling in the world if you don't know about the WWF. Race breaks the armbar with headbutts. Powerslam for a count of 2. Suplex, but Martel lands on his feet behind Race and puts him in a sleeperhold. Race finally breaks it by ramming Martel's head into the turnbuckle. Reverse neckbreaker, and Race up top. Martel catches him and slams him down, then follows up with a kneedrop for 2. Headbutt by Race to change the momentum, and then they exchange punches. Martel with the headlock, Race with a back suplex out of it. Diving headbutt misses. Martel with a backbreaker. Slingshot splash for 2. Martel came up with the slingshot splash "five years ago" in "1983". I present to you Ron Trongard: Super Genius. Race with a piledriver and a diving headbutt for 2. Elbowdrop for 2. And Race into move #2. Martel breaks it with elbows. Martel goes for a springboard bodyblock, but Race side steps and drops a knee for 2. European uppercut. Martel with forearms of his own. Race whips Martel into the corner, but Martel reverses and the momentum sends Race over the top rope. Martel brings him back into the ring with a suplex, but misses with the elbowdrop. Race with a shoulderbreaker for a count of 2. Swinging neckbreaker and another count of 2. Side headlock, but this time it's Martel using a back suplex to break it. Martel eventually gets a cover for 2. Race does another over the top rope bump that came out of nowhere. Race with a shoulderblock to give himself some room to reenter the ring. Piledriver is countered with a backdrop. Martel with a gutwrench suplex and a cover for 2. Race with a small package for 2. Martel comes back with punches...whip..dropkick...cover...Race in the ropes at 2. Martel begins to target the legs of Race with elbows and knees before going into a legscissors. Race breaks it with a hair pull and a leg to the head. Race puts a bearhug on Martel at the 15:00 call. Race turns it into a belly-to-belly suplex for 2. Kneelift. Series of punches in the corner. Martel blocks a suplex and counters with one of his own. Martel attempts a splash but is met with Race's knees into the stomach. Martel goes for a slam, but both men tumble over the top rope and brawl until they're both counted out at 17:29. Oh you're shitting me. Race and Martel continue to brawl postmatch, but shit. If you're going for a draw, and you're letting it go that long, let it go the full damn 20 minutes. Nobody wanted to see the draw anyway, but at least with the time limit I feel like I'm getting my money's worth. The crowd was totally dead for this one, but I have to admit I enjoyed the hell out of that one once we got past the first five minutes. **1/2
Cappetta introduces some of the Minnesota Vikings in attendance.
10-Woman Battle Royal
We here in the internet wrestling writing committee call this "a waste of time". This is where the last 2:31 of Martel-Race went. Special referee is Stu Boyce, a member of the Minnesota Vikings all-time team. Your participants include Sherri Martel, Luna Vachon (with red hair), Joyce Grable, Kat LeRoux, Rose Divine, Taylor Thomas, Christina (or Justina) Montega, Misty Blue Simmes, Debbie Combs, and women's champion Candi Divine. I only know half of these women, but I'll try to follow the eliminations. I think I already missed one. Trongard missed it too though. It was Rose Divine, I think. Debbie Combs can't eliminate Montega. Thomas is eliminated off camera. Simmes and Leroux, who had a long running feud at one point, are eliminated at the same time. There goes "Leona" Vachon and we're down to five. Candi Divine eliminates Montega. Martel eliminates Candi Divine and we're down to 3. Martel and Grable are double teaming Combs, but Combs makes her comeback and backdrops Grable over the top rope. Martel had fallen out of the ring under the ropes seconds earlier, so Combs thinks it's over, but Martel attacks Combs from behind and eliminates her for the win at 7:30. Battle royals usually suck, and this was no exception, as it was complete with the traditional heel battle royal victory finish. DUD Still better than Baba-Brown though. Postmatch, Martel is rewarded with a check for "$50,000" and Rose and Somers challenge for the World Tag Team Titles.
Well, that's half the card, and dear God have parts of this been brutally painful to watch. The stuff that should have been good, particularly Windham/Rotundo vs. The Fabulous One, wasn't. The stuff that should have sucked, particularly Baba vs. Brown, lived up to expectations. Race-Martel saved the first half of this show even though the live crowd disagreed with me, and the Rockers against Rose and Somers was one of their first meetings so chalk it up to being unfamiliar with each other. They would have an amazing series of matches for the title before the end of the year. What scares me is there's only one match on the second half of the card I care to see, so I can't picture it getting much better from here.
We start the second half of the card, and according to the PWI Almanac, Americas Champion Sgt. Slaughter beat Kamala in a match not included on my tape. I can't say I'm disappointed that I missed that one, but even a Kamala match is better than a Giant Baba match.
Resnick interviews Scott Hall and Curt Hennig. Weird to hear Scott Hall without the Cuban accent.
From now on if we mention a guest ring announcer, I'll just go "Ditto."
One fall with a one hour time limit for the AWA World Tag Team Championship: The Long Riders vs. Scott Hall and Curt Hennig (champions)
The Long Riders were Bill "The Goon" Irwin and his late brother Scott "Hog" Irwin, and according to the WWF page a day calendar, they were WWF Tag Team Champions as The Yukon Lumberjacks in 1978. The Yukon...Minneapolis...I can see how you could get them confused. They also had a run in World Class as The Super Destroyers. Scott Hall receives a "Most Popular Wrestler" trophy before the bell, and it remains in one piece to violate Pro Wrestling Rule #1: "All trophies shalt not make it to the locker room without being destroyed by one of the losers." The champions won the title in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is AWA-speak for "Rio de Janeiro". Larry Nelson has joined Ron Trongard, so at least Trongard's work will be cut down by about 2% and make things easier to bear. Nelson actually makes Torngard sound like Gordon Solie though. Hall and Hog start, and Hall grinds away with a headlock. Apparently the Irwins are wearing regulation wrestling gear (and motorcycle T-shirts) because of controversy over their normal ring gear, specifically their boots. Hennig in, and he dropkicks Bill Irwin halfway across the ring. Hennig chases Bill around the ring and hiptosses Bill once back in. Hall back in with a side headlock. Bill Irwin with a single-leg, but Hall kicks off and we have a stalemate. Trongard is talking a little too much about Hall's good looks for my comfort. We should introduce Trongard to Goldust, I think they'd really hit it off. Hall with an armbar. What a shock. Hennig with a couple of right hands and a dropkick for 2 at the 5:00 call, and apparently I missed a tag as Hennig goes into armbar mode. They talk about how Hennig's 245 pounds means he isn't too small. It's not like he weighs 215 or 205. Is that a subtle jab at Greg Gagne? Methinks it is. I love stirring the pot though, so... Oh yeah, the Irwins are in control now, as Bill grinds a headlock. I assume Hog's hurt as he's been in the ring for about 30 seconds of the entire match. Bill rolls out of the ring, and Scott tries to use lucha libre rules and sneak into the ring, but referee Buddy Lane catches him and shoos him out to the apron because it's American rules. Hennig with a monkey flip on Bill Irwin and rolls over for a 2 count. The announcers can't figure out why nobody's tagging out. Um...because these two one on one might end up being a good match, but their respective partners suck? Just a thought. Hog Irwin tags in at the 10:00 call, and Bill hits a vicious clothesline that has Hennig in convulsions. The challengers double team Hennig, and they are pounding away at him. Bill misses a flying kneedrop though, and Hennig makes the hot tag to Hall. Hall dominates both men, and Hennig is quickly tagged back in. This should be the setup for Pro Wrestling Rule #2: "If the face in peril is tagged back in less than 30 seconds after the hot tag, he shalt be pinned in the next minute." Nice dropkick by Hennig and all four men are in. Hennig is thrown over the top rope behind the referee's back, but he comes back in with a flying dropkick off the top to pin Bill Irwin and retain the title in 12:59. Christ, two rules violated in 13 minutes. At least it's different. I'm surprised Vince Russo didn't break them and call them "edgy". Hog leaves the ring and grabs his loaded boot and takes a couple of swings after the match. Eh, OK match once it got going, but it took 10 minutes to get going. * Hall and Hennig would lose the titles by countout to Rose and Somers a month later in a decision that was never actually explained. It was the reason for Hall leaving the AWA and Hennig turning heel, which might have been the whole point after all.
Nelson interviews the champions, and they complain about Hog Irwin's loaded boot.
Ditto. Why the hell are we even paying Capetta at this point? Actually, with Verne Gagne, he might not be getting paid in this one.
European Rules Match scheduled for 10 2-minute rounds with each man wearing four ounce karate gloves and special referee Larry "The Axe" Hennig: Larry Zbyszko vs. Scott LeDoux
Before he was suing over a nickname he stole first, Zbyszko was in a meaningless feud with former boxer Scott LeDoux over something too boring and pathetic to bother with explaining. That and I don't actually know the point. He comes to the ring with somebody in a ninja outfit and carrying a Singapore cane. Ken Resnick interviews LeDoux, who says he's going to knock Larry out. LeDoux is seconded by former Viking Bob Lurtsema. Why would you want a second named "Benchwarmer Bob" in your corner? So your stool is warm between rounds?
Round 1: They fumble their way around until LeDoux full nelsons Larry, then he turns Zbyszko into a left hand. Larry, who was backing up before the punch, leaves the ring. Back in, and Larry stalls by going to the apron. Zbyszko with a single-leg takedown, and a series of elbows as he goes for a pin. The round ends before anything of note happens. Nelson forgets this is under rounds and bitches about the bell. I scored this one for an imaginary round card girl.
Round 2: LeDoux paws at Larry, so Larry surprises him with a spinning back kick and takes LeDoux down. LeDoux fights back but misses the haymaker. Larry takes him down with an armdrag takedown and LeDoux knocks him down with a series of punches from him back. Zbyszko is able to LeDoux down and kicks away at him, then powerslams him, but LeDoux rolls to his side before Larry can cover. Larry is leveling LeDoux with punches when the bell rings. I score this one for Zbyszko.
Did you know Scott LeDoux fought eight former Heavyweight Champions of the World? I guess sparring sessions counts. LeDoux's eye is swelling shut.
Round 3: Zbyszko punches LeDoux and takes him down with a shoulderbreaker, and LeDoux again refuses to be covered. Front facelock, and now a series of right hands. Back heel kick and a takedown. Thumb to the eye. Larry continues to target the eye and gets another single-leg takedown. Front facelock, and more eye gouging as the bell rings. Another round for Zbyszko.
Round 4: Zbyszko misses the spinning back kick and LeDoux dominates with punches and thumbs to the eye. And LeDoux throws Zbyszko's head into the turnbuckle repeatedly. Bodyslam. Series of uppercuts, thumbs to the eye, and punches to the midsection. Again to the turnbuckle. Zbyszko gets in one shot. Huge roundhouse right knocks Zbyszko cold, but he's saved by the bell. I scored this round to my brother for bringing me a beer. It's my scoring system, I'll cheat if I want to.
Zbyszko is bleeding from the forehead now. He's also been slipped a foreign object.
Round 5: The fight goes to the floor immediately. Zbyszko sends LeDoux into the ringpost, which is an automatic disqualification in the AWA because Verne Gagne is a moron. The ninja comes in with the kendo stick, but Larry Hennig disposes of him, then knocks Zbyszko out of the ring with a roundhouse right. LeDoux wins by stupid rule disqualification 12 seconds into the round.
Not as bad as it should have been. Hard to rate since it wasn't really wrestling, but it was fun. *1/2
Larry Nelson interviews LeDoux, who is pissed because he wanted to knock Zbyszko out and didn't. He mentions a "next time" and I say "It wasn't that fun."
One fall with a one hour for the AWA World Heavyweight Championship: Nick Bockwinkel vs. Stan Hansen (champion)
Hansen is on loan from Baba's All-Japan Pro Wrestling, and was actually a pretty good champion before Gagne politics came into play. This is the match of the second half I was looking forward to, by the way. Hansen knocks Larry Nelson down before the match and becomes my new favorite wrestler. The brawl starts before the bell, and they're battling on the floor literally ten seconds after the bell. Bockwinkel gains the advantage and Nelson yells "Come on, Nick!" I thought broadcasters were supposed to be impartial, but he did get dumped on his head. Nelson admits to being biased and wishes death to Hansen. They trade kicks, and Hansen whips Bockwinkel into the ropes and gains the advantage with some elbows. Bockwinkel works his way into a hammerlock. Hansen to the ropes, so Bockwinkel punches Hansen, which is a mistake as Hansen begins to outbrawl Bockwinkel. A bodyslam and a kneedrop gets 2. Bockwinkel with a sunset flip for 2. And Move #1, the armbar. Hansen tries to chop out of it, but Bockwinkel punches away before finally taking a headbutt. Hansen counters a headlock with a headscissors (!), then breaks and puts on Move #2. Hansen drops the elbow at the 5:00 call and gets 2. Bockwinkel regains the advantage, and the story here appears to be that whenever somebody tries to wrestle and get an advantage, the opponent brawls into the advantage. Bockwinkel puts Hansen into a sleeper to a HUGE pop (impressive because both men are heels), and Hansen gets to the ropes and both men tumble outside. Both men back in and they trade punches. Hansen ends that by dropping Bockwinkel throat first on the top rope and covers for a one count. Bockwinkel blocks a suplex and counters with one of his own and gets a two-count. Nelson: "Almost only counts at drive-in movies." Bockwinkel with a backdrop for 2. A bodyslam gets 2. Another bodyslam, and Hansen's legs hit Steve O and knocks him down, so the cover goes uncounted. Bockwinkel with a high cross body and again no count. Rule #3: The first cover after a ref bump will be made by the eventual loser. Bockwinkel with a piledriver for a 2 count at the 10:00 call, and Hansen backdrops Bockwinkel over the top rope for a disqualification at 10:08. They continue to brawl after the match, as Nelson acknowledges that Hansen wasn't trying to get disqualified because he'd rather beat somebody up. Hansen keeps the title after an awesome brawl. *** Excellent brawl with some solid wrestling thrown in, and I'm amazed at the face heat Bockwinkel was drawing against Hansen. Hansen would hold the title another two months before Verne decided a past-his-prime Bockwinkel was more deserving to be champion. Hansen knew it wasn't Baba's call though, so he took the belt to Japan while officially Bockwinkel was given the belt by default. How Hansen thought it was Baba's call is still beyond me, but I don't think I'd take orders from Verne Gagne either if I could avoid it.
Bockwinkel is interviewed by Nelson, who admits that he used to get disqualified to keep his title but wasn't as arrogant as Hansen when he did it. What kind of heel were you then?
They took this intermission to set up the cage for the main events, and it gives me a chance to take a much-needed break. Hansen-Bockwinkel finally gives us our first above average match of the evening, and you have no idea how badly I needed to see that type of match at that point in the card. But what was the point of even having Zbyszko-LeDoux on the card? I know there was some sort of storyline for it, but I refer to Pro Wrestling Rule #4: All variations of the Boxer vs. Wrestler match shalt suck. Sadly though, the only one that was better than Zbyszko-LeDoux was Roddy Piper-Mr. T, and that really isn't saying a whole hell of a lot.
Now we show things out of order.
Steel Cage Match with no time limit: The Barbarian/King Kong Brody vs. Superfly Jimmy Snuka/Greg Gagne
That's Nord the Barbarian and Bruiser Brody. Brody had to be called King Kong Brody because Dick the Bruiser threw a fit. Snuka is making his first AWA appearance and is subbing for Jerry "Crusher" Blackwell. If Gagne's team wins, Verne gets 10 minutes with Sheik Adnan-Al Kaissie (General Adnan). Pro wrestling Rule #5: If there's a stipulation allowing the face or his manager so much time against the heel manager, the face must win. Brody and Gagne start, and Brody has injured Gagne before. Of course, Brody is a great brawler and Gagne weighs 200 with 10 pounds of bricks tied to his ankles, so Brody gets the advantage. Nord is tagged in and gains an advantage, but Gagne breaks free and tags Sunka. Snuka has an advantage until Nord finally grabs him, and Snuka is brought into the corner and double teamed. Big Boot by Brody, and another, and both looked stiff as hell, largely because they were stiff as hell. Snuka finally gains the advantage on Brody with a chop. Snap mare by Snuka is followed by a chop off the second turnbuckle and Nord makes the save. Nord is in now, and he gains the advantage because Snuka didn't tag in Gagne. Gagne is finally bought in, and he does a number on both of this opponents until Nord catches him. Brody is chopping away at Gagne at the 5:00 call. Brody sends Gagne into the cage, and Gagne is bleeding. Brody with a running piledriver, and Nelson roots for Gagne to make the tag. Brody covers and Snuka makes the save. Tag to Nord. Gagne makes some room for himself with kicks, but Nord prevents the tag with a front facelock. Gagne eventually maneuvers Nord into the cage, and the hot tag is made to Snuka. Brody and Nord both hit the cage and are both busted open. Snuka off the top with the flying headbutt on Brody and Nord makes the save. Nord and Brody again gain the advantage and work over Snuka in the corner. All four men in, and the attempted train wreck spot is reversed into a train wreck spot by the faces. Double dropkick onto Nord at the 10:00 call. Gagne holds Nord as Snuka goes for a flying headbutt, but Nord moves and Snuka hits Gagne. It's not every day you see a face miscommunication spot. Nord is stomping away at Snuka and grabs him. Brody tries to dropkick Snuka, but Snuka moves, Brody dropkicks Nord, and Snuka covers Nord for the pin at 11:27. Snuka and Brody tried, but it couldn't hold my interest at all. * All four men brawl on the Metrodome floor and into the locker room. And all that leads to:
Steel Cage Match scheduled for one fall with a 10 minute time limit: Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie vs. Verne Gagne
If this goes anywhere near the time limit I'm going to cry. Apparently Adnan broke two of Verne's ribs in Chicago a year or so prior to this. Gagne cheap shots Adnan on the floor before the bell ever rings and throws Adnan into the cage. Adnan is already busted open as he tries to climb the cage to get away from Verne. Gagne takes off Adnan's gun belt and whips Adnan with it. I hope to hell those are active bullets because one solid shot will set them all off. Actually, they'd probably just kill the fans that paid to see this atrocity. Gagne dominates and kneedrops Adnan for a near fall. Now if Gagne was really concerned with getting revenge over Gagne wouldn't he want the time limit to expire? Adnan finally gets some punches in, but Gagne regains control and puts him a Gagne Sleeper. Adnan actually breaks the hold and goes to work with punches, kicks, and double-axhandles. Nelson brings up Adnan's Olympic background but fails to mention his teaming with Jay Strongbow. Bodyslam by Adnan gets 2. Adnan goes for another one, but Gagne rolls him up in a small packaage for the pin in 3:49. This actually had all the action of that previous tag team match crammed into four minutes of unoffensive good--um, decentness. *
Nelson interviews Gagne, who announces his retirement and says he hopes it's his last one. I hope it is too, Verne, but at least I know if you try getting back in the ring you won't be the head booker.
Ditto, and we cut back to before the first cage match for another Steel Cage Match with no time limit: Michael "P.S." Hayes and Jimmy Garvin (w/Precious) vs. The Road Warriors
Hayes hasn't had his haircut yet. Garvin is not yet a Freebird, but this one goes back to September 1985. Hayes and Terry Gordy appeared to have won the AWA World Tag Team Titles from the Road Warriors at SuperClash 1, but because the match had ended in a clusterfuck, the decision was reversed and the titles returned to the Warriors. The next night, the Freebirds interfered to help Garvin and Steve Regal (no, not the current William Regal) win the belts from the Warriors. That in itself was Gagne's biggest problem outside of refusing to put the title on Hogan, as title changes would take place at a house show the night after a stadium show or live ESPN broadcast. Anyway, Regal's left the company at this point, so we get this match as the blowoff. Hawk and Hayes start, and Hayes struts. Hayes with a kick to the midsection, some forearms, and a piledriver, which of course is no-sold and Hawk goes to work. Hawk rams Hayes into the cage, and that's enough to bust him up. Gorilla press followed by a fistdrop, which is so blown that even Trongard and Nelson acknowledge it. Hayes tries to tag out, but Garvin is smart and walks away from it. So Hayes tries to escape, but Hawk follows him up and headbutts him off. Hawk with a splash from the top rope for 2. Garvin in, but he is dropped on his face by Hawk. Animal finally tags in and powerslams Garvin for 2. Gorilla press by Animal, and Garvin goes for the tag, but this time Hayes walks away from Garvin. Garvin with a low blow and Hayes finally agrees to tag. Hayes with some punches, but Animal reverses the whip and clotheslines Hayes. Hawk is back in and Hayes continues to get beat half to death. Garvin tags in and is able to slow Hawk down. Garvin with a kneeling headbutt at the 5:00 call. Hayes tags in and puts Hawk in a figure-four, and if you weren't paying attention you'd think Hawk had it on Hayes. Hawk turns it over to reverse the pressure, but Garvin tags in. Quick tags by the heels, but Hawk reverses a Hayes suplex attempt. Tag on both sides, and we quickly degenerate into a four way brawl. Marty Miller tries to get Hawk into his corner. Garvin holds Animal and Hayes comes off the top, but Animal moves and Hayes punches Garvin. Animal covers Garvin and gets the pin at 7:18 as Hayes makes no attempt to save. The replay shows that Hayes has some taped brass knuckles around his hand on the finish. ** Essentially a Road Warriors squash, but realistically there was no other way to book it.
END OF SHOW
Three cage matches on one card are entirely too many, but the crowd was into them so I can't complain too much. None of them were actively bad, but they weren't that good either.
Overall, it's an interesting show, as there is a solid cross-section of talent from around the world on it. Many of the wrestlers on it were either coming from or on their way to the WWF, while the rest were basically the core AWA guys. This is good for a nostalgia kick, but I've been to house shows that were more satisfying than this. My biggest fear is this is how the Jarrett NWA promotion is going to end up because I highly doubt too many people will pay $9.95 a week for old school booking.
If you've read this review and want a copy of Wrestlerock, check out www.johnmcadam.com, which is where I got this gem. In fact, give John a look anyway if you're looking for old school footage.
Until next time, do the Wrestlerock Rumble! Verne needs the royalties!
Jared "JHawk" Hawkins
E-mail me at [email protected]
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