In terms of second generation wrestlers, Greg Gagne may not have been a David Von Erich, but he certainly wasn’t a David Sammartino, Erik Watts, or George Gulas.
The story is supposedly that Verne wanted to put the AWA belt on Greg, but the other promoters in the territory protested and the idea was shelved.
I just feel that it’s kind of odd because Verne was pretty much stubborn in the way he ran things (like pushing Nick Bockwinkel as champion while he was in 50’s and sticking by the rest of his geriatric stable of wrestlers like Mad Dog Vachon, Crusher, Bruiser, and Baron Von Raschke).
Looking back now, was giving Rick Martel the belt in 1984 a much better decision than Greg? When people were leaving the territory like Curt Hennig, wasn’t putting the belt on someone like Verne could trust, make sense? Even his son in law, Larry Zybysko jumped to WCW when the AWA was at death’s door and he was AWA Champion at that time.
Well, to be fair, it’s not like he was trying to make Greg the champion while the promotion was actually drawing money. It was pretty much just at the end of the line when Hennig and the rest were jumping at the same time and it was becoming kind of a last resort situation for him. In 1984 Rick Martel was absolutely worth a try as champion, although it didn’t work out very well for anyone, and yeah, he was at least better than Greg would have been. In retrospect, in the aftermath of Hennig basically screwing him over and then Lawler walking out with the belt, I can see how Groovy Greg might have been an appealing choice for Verne. Even Dave was speculating at the time that Greg would end up with the belt.