The SmarK Rant for AWA All-Star Wrestling–04.10.88

The SmarK Rant for AWA All-Star Wrestling – 04.10.88

And so we come to the end of the line for AWA on the Network, not coincidentally also the end of the line for Shawn Michaels as a part of the AWA. I will say that there was much, MUCH more entertaining stuff outside of the crap that was mostly featured on these shows. We pretty much missed out on the whole Curt Hennig title run, for one thing.

This was actually a really weird time for the AWA, as there was a story in the Observer from that week talking about how Verne Gagne didn’t actually want to promote anymore and moving forward the company would transition to being a booking office for other promotions. This actually fit in with the Midnight Rockers’ situation at that point, as they were actually contracted (sort of) to Jerry Jarrett and just worked week-to-week for Verne, much like the Rock N Roll Express. So basically we’re in a world where JERRY JARRETT is providing better payouts than Verne Gagne. No wonder the AWA died. Anyway, this new attitude led to the Jerry Lawler World title run, where Verne must have envisioned himself as some sort of peacekeeping facilitator trying to bring together Memphis and World Class under his umbrella without having to actually pay anyone. Well I guess it’s the dream of every promoter.

Soldat Ustinov v. Greg Robertson

Robertson was the poor geek from a couple of weeks ago that the announcers were trying to put over as a hot new talent while Paul Diamond was stiffing the shit out of him and cutting off all his offense. I don’t see him faring any better against Ustinov. Soldat throws him around while some guy holds up a sign saying “FAG!” in the background. A British visitor looking for some smokes, I’d assume? Suplex gets two while Teijho Khan mugs for the camera. Trongard keeps pronouncing it “T-Joe Khan” for some reason. I guess the “zh” sound was tricky? Robertson gets tossed and beat up on the apron, and back in Ustinov finishes with an entirely unconvincing body vice at 3:00. Holy shit this goof may have been one of the worst fake Russians ever.

Let us take you back to that god-awful match between the Baron and the Sheik a few weeks ago, which has apparently kicked off a vicious blood feud between the two old men.

Ricky Morton v. Dennis Stamp

The most 80s match ever, maybe? Morton takes him down with a headscissors and works a headlock as my wife laughs at Morton’s feathered hair and ripped up shirt. I have to explain to her that he was once the height of sexy for lonely southern teenaged girls and housewives everywhere, but I don’t go into the whole tag team formula lecture. Stamp comes back with some chokes on the ropes, but Morton dropkicks him and finishes with a high cross at 3:35.

“Mat Classic” this week is another shitty Baron v. Sheik match, which could be from 40 years ago for all I can tell since they both have looked the same since 1965. Adnan finishes with a foreign object to the head after Baron holds him in the claw for an eternity.

Meanwhile, Ricky Rice introduces his new partner…Wahoo McDaniel? So much for Wahoo’s mentoring of Billy Jack Strong.

Greg Gagne v. Daryl Nickle

I’d say Nickle has at least a nickel bag worth of roids pumped into him. He immediately trips over his own running of the ropes and Gagne covers with a spinning toehold, and then backdrops him out of the corner. Nickle proceeds to take a bump on his ass instead of his back. Is this seriously his first match or what? Gagne hits a dropkick that Nickle decides to kick out of, but then the ref is like “Nuh uh, fucker, you’re done” and awards the match to Greg instead to end this fiasco.

Speaking of fiascos, The Big K once again is here to tell us how he knows everything about wrestling and everyone in the promotion is an idiot who should listen to him. That was seriously his whole schtick.

AWA World tag team titles: The Midnight Rockers v. Badd Company

Holy shit, they actually left “Bad Company” intact for the entrances on this one! And whatever shitty hair metal song the Rockers were using! Who was asleep at the switch for that one? They might actually have to cut a royalty payment to Paul Rodgers now. Meltzer’s thoughts on the future of the challengers: “A guy named Diamond Dallas Page is being brought in to handle Tanaka & Diamond. He looks like he could do all right.” Well that’s a pretty understated Observer debut for poor DDP. This was set up by Badd Company beating the Rockers in a non-title match, but unlike the 50/50 booking of today, the Rockers never got that win back. The Rockers clean house with double dropkicks and Shawn sends Tanaka into the corner for a Jannetty clothesline on the apron. They try it a second time and Tanaka ducks the clothesline this time, but stops to gloat and gets clotheslined by Shawn instead. I approve of this. The Rockers continue double-teaming him to death, so he tags out to Diamond. And now Paul gets pinballed in the Rocker corner, but he fights back with an elbow on Shawn and a pretty wicked superkick from Tanaka follows. And so the world is right again as Shawn takes a beating in the corner, but he quickly fights back with a double clothesline and makes a hot tag to Marty. It’s a PIER SIX BRAWL and the heels collide, but they toss Marty over the top rope, and then whip him into the post for a dramatic bump and the stunning upset for the tag team titles at 8:02 as a result. “How can this be?” Lee Marshall wonders. Probably because Vince had them signed away and they needed the belts off them immediately. Now, I should note that the Big K had spent the whole show talking about how he revealed the Rockers’ secret weakness to Badd Company, and now the secret can be revealed: You throw the guy over the top rope behind the ref’s back and then run him into the post and split his head open. Hopefully they didn’t pay too much for that advice, but hey, it worked! Match was a major, major disappointment, like the first few minutes of a really great tag match that never got to finish. But the heat for that finish was tremendous. **1/2 Diamond and Tanaka actually held those belts for a year before they too got poached by Vince.

The Pulse

Farewell, AWA. This was not a great show to finish up with, to say the least.  If you want REAL entertainment, track down the 3/28/88 issue of the Observer that details these tapings because Dave is in full on burial mode and it’s HILARIOUS.