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 - Jim Zordani

Curt Hennig scored the biggest victory of his then 8 year career when he won the AWA heavyweight title from Nick Bockwinkel on May 2nd 1987 in San Francisco California at Super Clash II. Curt received a roll of coins from Larry Zbyszko to knock Bockwinkel out cold to win the bout and the AWA championship which cemented Hennig's full fledged heel turn. Nick Bockwinkel was ready to retire and Hennig after all these years had finally been chosen as Nick's successor.

The AWA booked a grudge match between Zbyszko and Bockwinkel which saw Zbyszko injure Nick at the end of the bout. Bockwinkel only wrestled a few more matches after his bout with Zbyszko. Larry claimed on television that he retired Bockwinkel which actually wasn't the case. Zbyszko would rant on his television interviews that he was indeed the true living legend of professional wrestling because he had retired both Bruno Sammartino and Nick Bockwinkel. That was Larry's story and he was sticking to it.

Looking back on it now, Curt Hennig was an excellent choice by Verne Gagne to replace Nick Bockwinkel as AWA kingpin. Hennig was relatively young at age 29. Curt had improved his wrestling skills immensely over the years and now had the ability to carry a less than average wrestler to a watchable match. Hennig was an up and coming star with a tremendous upside. The only question about Hennig as champ was whether the AWA could establish a heel persona for Hennig that would make fans pay to see Curt defend the championship.

The people in charge of the AWA namely owner Verne Gagne and booker Ray Stevens weren't exactly marketing geniuses. Gagne and Stevens believed professional wrestling in 1987 should be presented in the same fashion as it was in the 60s and 70s. They were both from the old school and didn't see any reason to change. Verne Gagne's belief was the mid 80s wrestling phenomenon was a fad. Verne felt the fad would soon wear off and then fans would return to watching the AWA and its outdated style of wrestling.

Keeping the above paragraph in mind, it should not shock anyone that Gagne and Stevens gave their new heel AWA champ a lame persona.  More...

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