The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – AWA Christmas Night 82
Back to the AWA! It’s Christmas Night in St. Paul, 1982, back when watching wrestling was a traditional thing to do on Christmas.
Baron Von Raschke v. Sgt. Jacques Goulet
We’re joined with Goulet, who has apparently joined the French Foreign Legion between the 81 show and this one, holding a lengthy chinlock on the Baron, and dropping an elbow for two. Curt Hennig is working as a referee at this point, for whatever reason. Goulet turns the lengthy chinlock into a lengthier choke on the mat, and then TWISTS THE EARS and that just makes the Baron upset. Baron runs him into the turnbuckles to make the comeback, but Goulet takes him down and stomps him blatantly low to cut that off before going to a bearhug. Trongaard notes that we’re nearing 7 minutes, and my timer says 6:00 at this point, so Goulet literally went to a chinlock ONE MINUTE into the match. I’m not shocked. Goulet goes to the dreaded SCORPION HOLD, which is a claw to the back of the neck and I’m not even making that up. This gets two and then it turns into another chinlock as Baron sells and sells for this goofy submission hold and even the AWA crowd is losing patience with this. Finally the Baron powers up and we get the amazing sight of Baron using the CLAWHOLD to counter the dreaded, painful Scorpion hold. Goulet bails to the apron to escape and Baron makes the comeback, but Goulet dropkicks him, only to fall victim to a small package at 11:47. 0 for 1.
Ken Patera v. Steve Olsonowski
So we’re joined 5:00 in, and Steve O is WORKING THE ARM. Patera beats on him in the corner to escape that predicament, but Steve whips him into the turnbuckles and tosses him out of the ring for more damage to the arm. Back in, Patera begs off and then hits him with a cheapshot to take over, and an elbow to the back gets two. Patera with the bearhug, but Steve O fights out of it and sends Patera to the apron with a forearm. Steve hits an atomic drop on the floor (called a “piledriver” by Rod) but Patera recovers first and suplexes him back into the ring, but Steve tries a sleeper on him and Patera runs him into the corner to break. Sunset flip gets two for Olsonowski. Slam and elbowdrop gets two. Patera tries to run away again and Steve O gets a backbreaker for two. Neckbreaker and he goes up for an elbowdrop that gets two. Another neckbreaker is blocked and Patera drops his own elbow for the pin at 10:15 shown, making sure to use the ropes like a good heel. This was a good match and Olsonowski was a damn good worker in his day. 1 for 2.
Rick Martel v. Bobby Heenan
Martel got screwed in his last title match with Bockwinkel, so now he’s taking out his frustrations on the manager in an attempt to get another one. Joined with Martel beating on Bobby in the corner, but the Brain goes to the eyes with some kind of “foreign substance” to blind him. Geez, hope it wasn’t the old “chocolate pretzel” move from Mallrats. He could get pinkeye! Heenan goes to the chinlock and Martel throws him to break and then works on the leg in the corner. Heenan goes to the eyes again and gets a clothesline for two, but Martel hits a bodypress for two. Martel slugs Heenan into the ropes and he’s tied up, but Rick misses another bodypress and lands on the floor. Heenan won’t let him back in, so Martel runs him into the post and makes the comeback as Heenan goes flailing all over the ring with every shot. Atomic drop that sends Bobby into the ringpost finishes at 7:34. Bobby knew exactly what to do in his role and always did it perfectly. 2 for 3.
AWA World title: Nick Bockwinkel v. Billy Robinson
We’re joined with Robinson grinding a headlock on Bockwinkel, and then taking him down after a forearm shot. Heenan tries to interfere and the ref shoves him off the apron so you know he’s a TROUBLESHOOTING ref. Bobby was trouble and he got SHOOTED. Bockwinkel fights out and Robinson sends him out, so Nick thinks it over. Back in, they go with the test of strength and Robinson quickly takes him down and goes with the facelock this time, so Bockwinkel wisely runs away. Back in, Nick tries a headlock, but nope, Robinson quickly reverses to his own and forces Bockwinkel to kick out of several pin attempts while holding it. Now THAT’S smart. What a great touch you don’t see anymore. Headlocks don’t have to be boring, as long you’re doing stuff. Bockwinkel escapes with a backdrop and Robinson immediately hiptosses him in retaliation, but accidentally wrenches his shoulder in the process and Nick goes to work on it. Another nice touch as Bobby Heenan picks up on the injury and immediately yells at Bockwinkel to go after it, thus serving his purpose in kayfabe. Robinson tries to make a comeback but hurts himself while throwing a forearm, and Bockwinkel stomps the shit out of the shoulder and goes to a hammerlock on the mat. Robinson fights up, but Bockwinkel hangs onto the armbar through a hiptoss. Robinson then does an amazing reversal where he steps over Bockwinkel’s head and puts him in Pedigree position, then just pulls back on the arms as a submission. Bockwinkel gets to the ropes to escape, so Robinson gets all fired up with a forearm and neckbreaker for two and a Perfect necksnap for two. Backdrop suplex into a backbreaker gets two. They slug it out by the ropes and Robinson tumbles to the apron, but Bockwinkel gets a sleeper from inside the ring and Robinson pushes back and falls on top for the apparent pin at 16:27. BUT WAIT! Turns out that Bockwinkel got his shoulder up and he retains. And the crowd is PISSED. This was a great, old school title match. 3 for 4.
Hulk Hogan & Tito Santana v. Bobby Duncum & Ken Patera
Not sure why Patera is working double duty on this show. Bobby gets double-teamed by the babyfaces as we pick things up, and Hulk manages to switch off with Tito during an armbar and then the ref actually CATCHES them! Like, seriously, how dumb would the ref have to be for that to work, anyway? Duncum finally manages a tag to Patera and Hulk wants it brung, drawing a virtual line in the sand for him to cross. Patera tries a lockup and gets overpowered by Hulk, and then charges and gets pinballed by the babyfaces in their corner. And then Hulk pokes him in the eyes and Tito gives him an atomic drop into the ropes, and then nails Duncum off the apron while Patera is rebounding. However, Patera quickly regroups and hits Tito with a knee to the back and a slam to take over. The heels abuse him in the corner and Hulk can take no more of this bullshit, but while he goes after Duncum, Patera hits Tito with a suplex for two. To the bearhug, but Hogan chases Patera around with a chair and poor Tito gets more beating put on him by Duncum. Tito fights back on Patera and the crowd goes crazy, and it’s HOT TAG Hogan. Big boot for Duncum and he drops elbows on Patera. Back to Tito, who hits Patera with dropkicks and dodges a blind charge. Hulk comes in and drops the leg on Patera’s outstretched leg. Tito wraps up Patera in a pinning combo, but Hogan selfishly goes to beat up Heenan and distracts the ref. Tito gets tossed, so Hogan makes his own comeback and throws Patera over the top rope to give the heels a DQ victory at 11:00. Lots of heels going over on Christmas Day! It’s probably a gross understatement to call Tito as the heat guy and Hulk as the hot tag guy one of the great tag team dynamics I’ve ever seen, but they were GREAT. 4 for 5.
What a fun show!