The SmarK Rant for AWA Superstars – 02.28.88
I’m pretty sure Vince McMahon would have something to say about that syndicated title.
Your host is Larry Nelson from a studio god knows where in Minnesota. This is vaguely like the Verne Gagne version of Primetime Wrestling. The theme for this week: DAY OF CHAMPIONS! Plus Greg Gagne.
TV title: Greg Gagne v. Brian Knobbs
Truly this is a main event in any arena in the country. Knobbs is relatively svelte at this point in his career, as the Nasty Boys were still a couple of years away from the national stage with WCW. I have no idea where this is taped, but the arena is certainly fuller than the usual Showboat crowd. A sign in the crowd says “Minot, ND”, so I’d assume that’s the answer. Isn’t Minot in Minnesota? Or is this like some kind of wacky Kansas City dual state nonsense things? They trade armbars to start and Greg takes him down with a leghold and the indian deathlock and we’re at 5:00 with absolutely nothing of note occurring. Finally Sags gets a cheapshot from the apron and Greg starts selling all of Knobbs’ crappy offense, and we hit the chinlock. That’s right, slow down the torrid pace, I’m having trouble recapping this barnburner. Knobbs holds him in the chinlock and we’re already counting down to the 10-minute draw. At least Kevin Owens does his own hilarious commentary while he lays around in a chinlock. Gagne makes an all-too brief comeback, but Knobbs cuts him off again and calls for Sags to help. Greg runs them together and gets two off that, but Knobbs tosses him over the top for the DQ at 8:00. The Nastys threaten a beatdown, but Greg chases them off by himself. They really dodged a bullet there. ½*
Baron von Raschke (with a sweet Little Bill pornstache right out of Boogie Nights) has words for Sheik Adnan, but hell if I know what they are.
AWA World title: Curt Hennig v. Kevin Kelly
Joined in progress with Kelly chasing Hennig around the ring, and this is an oddball matchup as both guys are heels and in fact I think both were managed by Madusa at this point! I don’t remember Kevin Kelly turning babyface at any point when I watching in 1988, but I don’t discount the possibility that it happened. Kelly overpowers Hennig and hurts Curt’s knee in the process, and Kelly no-sells some chops in the corner. Finally Hennig has had enough and wraps Kelly’s knee around the post to take over, and he works the knee with some prodigious cheating. The ring announcer reveals we’re about 10:00 into the match at this point. Hennig wraps him up in a leghold and continues cheating, but Kelly fights back with a babyface comeback and a back elbow for two. Kelly gets a sloppy bodyslam for two, but another try is reversed by Hennig with a handful of tights for the pin to retain at I guess about 13:00, with about 5:00 shown. And then Kelly throws a tantrum and beats him up afterwards. I have no idea what was going on there, but Hennig was almost done anyway. *1/2
Tom Zenk is also wanting a title shot, and he introduces the world to Ricky Rice, who was pushed off and on as Verne’s golden boy until the end.
AWA World tag team title: The Midnight Rockers v. Bob Orton & Adrian Adonis
Adonis’s AWA run was incredibly sad, as he was nearing the end of his life (unknown to him, of course) and was clearly well beyond giving a shit about working for this particular promotion. I’ve heard the feeling was mutual from Verne’s end of things. He was reportedly trying to get back into the WWF at this point, but of course that didn’t happen. Orton does some wacky selling for the Rockers and Shawn controls with a headlock. The Rockers do the babyface control spots on Orton, but Shawn gets caught in the heel corner and Adonis takes over with a bulldog. Orton comes in with a delayed suplex and a butterfly suplex for two. Adonis comes in and slugs away, finally showing a bit of fire here, and he drops a knee for two. Color commentary Donna Gagne attempts a bon mot about Adonis: “I’ve seen him do some serious weightlifting recently: With a fork in a restaurant!” This wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t take her four tries to get the line right. NEVER REPEAT THE SPOT! Shawn makes a comeback, but Orton does the vicious knee off the middle rope for two. Back to Adonis and now he’s getting into it, coming in without a tag and freely choking away behind the ref’s back, then hitting a running powerslam for two. False tag to Marty and the heels toss Shawn over the top rope behind the ref’s back, as we get all the greatest hits of the Rock N Roll Express and they all work like magic still. Orton runs him into the post and we get some quality outrageous cheating, but finally Shawn comes back with a slam on Adonis, but misses a splash. Why didn’t you make the tag, fool? And indeed, Adonis drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex to teach him a lesson about not showing off, and Orton drops a knee for two. Finally Shawn fights them off and it’s HOT TAG Marty and the crowd goes nuts. This is a clinic in tag team wrestling. Marty cleans house, but Orton pulls him out from the floor and they brawl outside for the bullshit double countout. Really, twenty minutes for that finish? This was a fantastic tag team match that unfortunately ended up not going anywhere, with Adonis getting more and more into it as the match went on. **** Adonis was fired/quit/whatever soon after this and we know what happened to him from there.
First two matches were worthless, but the Rockers match is must-see for tag team wrestling nerds like myself.