Best of the 80's Page 2
- Nick Bockwinkel v. Hulk
Hogan. Bockwinkel survives Hogan’s lethal array of elbowdrops and comes back
to hammer him in the corner. Hogan rams him into the turnbuckles 10 times (with
Lee Marshall helpfully counting along with him for those, like himself, who have
trouble remembering what comes after "7") and a suplex gets two. The
big boot and legdrop looks to finish, but Bobby Heenan nails Hogan with an
international object to break it up. Hulk up, and Heenan tosses the object in
again, but Hogan intercepts it, nails Bockwinkel, and gets the pin and the
title. The crowd goes bonzo. The referee vehemently refuses to reverse his
decision, and Hogan is absolutely, positively, finally the AWA World champion.
Until a week later, when Stanley Blackburn personally reversed the decision.
Dusty Rhodes had nothing on Verne Gagne. This match is not to be confused with
Super Sunday, where Hogan again "won" the title, only to have the
decision reversed, but this time right in the ring, which nearly triggered a
riot at the arena.
- Nick Bockwinkel v. Otto
Wanz. Wanz is a big fat Austrian. Dunno why they went with this title change,
unless Verne coveted the Austrian wrestling audience or something. Otto reverses
a piledriver and holds on for the pin. From here we’re missing footage, so we
skip from Bockwinkel to Jumbo Tsuruta to…
- Jumbo Tsuruta v. Rick
Martel. Jumbo was given the title as the ultimate suck-up to Shohei Baba, which
nevertheless resulted in the total destruction of the AWA-AJPW relationship
shortly after. Martel hits a cross-bodyblock here to get the pin and his only
brush with the World championship.
- Rick Martel v. Stan
Hansen. Hansen works on the back a bunch, finally getting a Boston Crab (and
pushing his head into the turnbuckles for leverage) and holding on until Martel
has no choice but to submit. Okay, a few people asked me why I referred to this
as a "fiasco" in the last AWA rant, and here’s why: This was the
match that led directly to the downfall of the AWA. Whereas in *wrestling*
terms, Hansen was a smart choice to put the title on, in business terms this was
suicide. Hansen, never a dependable performer at the best of times, was much
closer to Baba than Gagne, and in fact he considered himself an AJPW employee
rather than an AWA one, and thus didn’t consider decisions made by the
American promoters binding. So when Gagne told Hansen that he was dropping the
title to Nick Bockwinkel some six months later, Hansen wanted the O.K. from Baba
first, and when that O.K. didn’t come, Hansen headed back to Japan and
defended the title over there without Gagne’s permission. So the AWA stripped
the title from Hansen and put it on Bockwinkel, impressing no one, and basically
killed the lineage of their own title for good. Hansen didn’t return to the US
for another 4 years.
- Nick Bockwinkel v. Curt
Hennig. This is the last couple of minutes of the 60-minute draw that aired on
ESPN and was the closest thing to a ***** match that the AWA’s TV deal ever
produced. A Hennig title win is teased at the end and the face pop is HUGE, so
of course they turned him heel so as to not overtake Greg’s heat. Seriously.
Both guys bled huge here, with Curt wearing the crimson mask as the match ends.
- Nick Bockwinkel v. Curt
Hennig. This was the inevitable end for the main event run of Nick Bockwinkel,
as there was no possible way to avoid having Curt Hennig finally win the World
title after literally months of chasing it. It’s a decent match that ends with
longtime Bockwinkel-hater Larry Zbyszko lending a hand by giving Hennig the
famous roll of dimes, which shatters all over the ring, and Hennig gets the pin
and the title. Much arguing follows, including a classic yelling match between
Larry and the ref, but the decision ends up standing. And thank god for that.
- Curt Hennig v. Jerry
Lawler. Hennig held the title for more than a year, basically getting great
matches out of people who had no right to have great matches, and as inevitably
as the tides Vince McMahon came calling as a result. So in May of 1988, the AWA
decided to take the belt off Hennig before he showed up in the WWF wearing it.
And Jerry Lawler, chasing a World title since the 70s, got the honor, in
Memphis, on "Jerry Lawler Day", with Jackie Fargo as the referee. Man,
do ya THINK Lawler was gonna win there? The match ends with a famous spot that
has influenced every Hennig match since: Lawler slingshots Hennig into the
ringpost and pins him, with Fargo messing up the count. HUGE pop for that, duh.
- Lawler got an 8-month
title reign, making the title more interesting than it had been in YEARS by
defending against basically anyone from any territory, until politics reared
it’s ugly head again and all those territories wanted Lawler to wrestle dates
for them, an idea that Gagne and Lawler both disagreed with, and pretty soon
Lawler and Gagne started disagreeing over how much money Lawler was worth to the
AWA, and finally the whole situation blew up and Lawler was stripped of the AWA
World title and the wrestling historians began writing up the toe tags for the
promotion. So Verne Gagne, seeing all his top stars fleeing for the WWF like
rats deserting a sinking ship, put the title on the one guy he knew would never
double-cross him: Larry Zbyszko. Ironically, Larry himself ditched the AWA for
Turner months later, retiring the AWA title in the process once and for all.
- Larry Zbyszko v. Sgt.
Slaughter. The final controversy for the AWA title sees Slaughter win a screwy
decision over Zbyszko for the belt in 1990 (Larry was ready to bolt for WCW and
they wanted the title off him), but then the WWF came after *Slaughter* so they
had no choice but to put the title back on Zbyszko and hope he’d be classy
enough to leave the title with the AWA before he left. Lucky for them, he did.
- Chapter Four: Tag Team
- Jesse Ventura &
Adrian Adonis v. Greg Gagne & Jim Brunzell. Short clip of the High Flyers
winning their second, and last, tag titles.
- The High Flyers v. Ken
Patera & Jerry Blackwell. Brunzell gets a figure-four on Blackwell, but
Adnan El-Kaissie smashes a cast over Brunzell’s head to break. Patera misses a
top rope kneedrop and Brunzell figure-fours him, but Blackwell hits the BIG FAT
SPLASH on the helpless Brunzell (good bit of psychology there) and Patera pins
him to win the tag titles.
- Jerry Blackwell &
Ken Patera dropped the titles to Da Crusher & Baron Von Rashke, who in turn
got squashed by the young and hungry Road Warriors to win their first tag
- The Road Warriors v.
Jerry Blackwell & Boom Boom Bundy. This is just a quick clip of a huge brawl
that sees Hawk pin Bundy after a lariat. Bundy is the same guy as King Kong
Bundy, by the way.
- The Road Warriors v. The
Long Riders. Another big huge brawl that ends in a double countout.
- The Road Warriors v.
Jimmy Garvin & "Mr. Electricity" Steve Regal. Different guy. This
was a total squash in theory and practice, but the Freebirds suddenly storm the
ring and punk out Hawk, putting Garvin on top for the pin and the titles,
freaking out the crowd. The Warriors left for Crockett Promotions soon after and
become the biggest thing in wrestling.
- We skip over Hall &
Hennig winning the titles, and head to…
- Scott Hall & Curt
Hennig v. Buddy Rose & Doug Somers. This was a weird finish to another
improbable title change, as Hall gets rammed into the ringpost by Col. DeBeers
and is counted out…giving the titles to Rose & Somers. It was never quite
explained to anyone’s satisfaction. Hall left soon after.
- Buddy Rose & Doug
Somers v. The Midnight Rockers. This is the bloodbath match from ESPN, featuring
all four men bleeding like pigs, and the Rockers wearing white tights to boot.
ROCK ON! I have the match in it’s entirety on another comp, and it’s pretty
damn awesome. The whole thing is a shmoz and a huge pull-apart brawl erupts. The
Rockers would chase the titles for months, until finally on their very last
- Buddy Rose & Doug
Somers v. The Midnight Rockers. On a nothing house show, the Rockers finally get
the clean pin on Somers with a Rockerplex and win the tag titles.
- For some reason we skip
over Zukhov & Ustinov winning the titles, and from there Jerry Lawler &
Bill Dundee winning them in Memphis, and from there Hector Guerrero & Dr. D,
and back to Jerry Lawler & Bill Dundee, and finally…
- Jerry Lawler & Bill
Dundee v. The Original Midnight Express. Quick clip of Paul Dangerously bopping
Dundee with the phone and Condrey gets the pin. The Express got SERIOUSLY over,
and this time instead of the WWF, the NWA came calling, so…
- The Original Midnight
Express v. The Midnight Rockers. Quick squash for the Rockers as we do the
cliché double-suplex ending with Jannetty lifting his shoulders at two for the
pin and the titles. But now the WWF came for the Rockers, so…
- The Midnight Rockers v.
Pat Tanaka & Paul Diamond. This worked out well because Badd Company was
pretty damn good and well deserving of the tag titles. Jannetty goes to the post
and bleeds all over the place, dropping the fall to Diamond. They would enter
the WWF shortly after, as Badd Company became completely unstoppable monster
heel champions for the next 12 months.
- Badd Company v. Ken
Patera & Brad Rheingans. Heel miscommunication gets the pin for the
Olympians, as Pat Tanaka got the callup to the big leagues (oooo, the Orient
Express) and they needed to get the belts off the only credible champs they’d
had in years.
- For god knows what
reason, Patera and Rheingans couldn’t job the titles to the new hot team, the
Destruction Crew, so the AWA did an injury angle and stripped them of the titles
and held a 4-team tournament instead. Given that only one team had any
credibility, it was pretty much a given who would win.
- Tournament final: Paul
Diamond & Greg Gagne v. The Destruction Crew. Kokina Maxius runs in and
splashes Greg Gagne into retirement (go Kokina!), as Bloom & Enos have their
way with Diamond and finish him to claim the tag titles. We stop here, as the
final tag title change (to DJ Peterson and the Trooper) hadn’t happened at the
time of the tape’s production, although most consider Bloom & Enos to be
the last AWA champions of any note.
- Chapter 5: Ladies of the
80s. Quick overview of Wendi Richter, Sherri Martell, Madusa Micelli, and a few
others. Nothing of note here.
- Chapter 6: Mega-Events
of the 80s. Rather ironic coming from the AWA. We cover "Super
Sunday", featuring the Hogan-Bockwinkel riot match and the Gagne/Vachon v.
Sheik/Blackwell tag match. Then Superclash I, in Chicago’s baseball stadium.
WrestleRock from the Metrodome follows. Then Superclash II, with the Hennig/Bockwinkel
title switch and Russ Francis wrestling. Finally, Superclash III, as everything
fell apart for them.
- Chapter 7: Thanks for
the Memories. This is the "former AWA wrestler" montage that they
recycled for the PPV I reviewed last night. Sure, just re-use 10 year old
footage, why not?
- Chapter 8: The Final
Bell. Same dead wrestler montage, which explains why the dead wrestlers covered
stopped at 1990.
- Chapter 9: Wrestling
Interview Memories. Again, same as the PPV.
- Chapter 10:
Wrestling’s Greatest Hits. Same as the PPV.
- Bischoff says they’ll
be looking forward to bringing us the best of the 90s in a few years, but the
AWA was already dead by the time this video hit the shelves in 1991.
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