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 - Jim Zordani

After they lost the non title human cage match to Dick the Bruiser and the Crusher on July 14th, 1973 at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, Illinois, Nick Bockwinkel and Ray Stevens did not appear again as a tag team in Chicago for over three months. Stevens did wrestle in Chicago two times as a singles competitor during that time span. On the July 28th card at the Ampitheatre, Ray wrestled to a draw with Cowboy Bob Ellis. On the September 29th card, Stevens battled longtime rival Red Bastien to a no contest which set the table for the next month's card in Chicago where Nick and Ray defeated Red and Billy Robinson by countout to once again retain their titles. The storyline of the match was Nick and Ray injuring Red Bastien and emerging victorious. Robinson wanted revenge for his friend Bastien and recruited Dick the Bruiser to be his partner against Bockwinkel and Stevens. The November 9th match at the International Amphitheatre saw Robinson and Bruiser fight Nick and Ray to a no contest. Chicago promoter Bob Luce signed Bockwinkel and Stevens for the November 30th card at the Amphitheatre but this time the opposition would be the Bruiser teaming with AWA heavyweight champion Verne Gagne. Bruiser and Gagne dominated their match with Nick and Ray causing the AWA tag teams champions to get themselves disqualified in order to retain their titles.

During televised interviews, Bockwinkel and Stevens often complained the AWA was conspiring against them by making them defend the AWA tag team titles against such outstanding opposition. The conspiracy theory cry by Nick and Ray would become a recurring theme throughout the next several months. By this time, Bockwinkel and Stevens had held the tag team titles for nearly two years except for the one week tag title reign of Verne Gagne and Billy Robinson. Due to the supposed conspiracy theory by the AWA promoters against them, Nick and Ray would do whatever it took to retain their titles whether it be getting themselves counted out of the ring, getting themselves intentionally disqualified or using a foreign object to get a victory. These classic heel tactics only made the fans detest Bockwinkel and Stevens even more. At the same time because Nick and Ray used such chicanery and barely managed to retain the tag team titles, the AWA fans also felt it was only a matter of time before a team would defeat Bockwinkel and Stevens. In retrospect it was great booking by the AWA because the fans kept turning out in droves to hopefully see Nick and Ray get their tails kicked.  More...

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