The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems–AWA Christmas Night 1983

The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – AWA Christmas Night 83

Back to Minnesota for another Christmas night showdown.

Hosted by Rod Trongaard

Brad Rheingans v. Billy Robinson

Billy takes him down with a top wristlock, but Rheingans elbows him out of the ring and then works a headlock back in the ring. The crowd already starts with the “boring” chants and Billy does a neat headstand escape, and then Rheingans goes right back to it again. Robinson fights out and Rheingans immediately goes to a headscissors instead. This gives us the slightly disturbing image of Robinson with his head buried in Brad’s crotch while Rheingans makes an O-Face while selling. Hey, whatever gets you off, I guess. Robinson really gets the party started with a neck vice, but Rheingans is in the ropes. So Robinson gets a neckbreaker and keeps going back to the neck vice and Rheingans keeps going to the ropes. Finally Rheingans makes a comeback with forearms and Robinson bails. Back in, they do a test of strength and trade pinfall reversals in a nice little sequence and Rheingans gets a neckbreaker for two. Brad with an atomic drop for two, but Robinson is in the ropes. Rheingans gets some armdrags with time running out and a slam for two. Robinson cuts off the comeback with shoulderblocks, but Rheingans catches him with a belly to belly suplex for two. They slug it out and time expires at 20:00, 13:28 aired. Dull but technically sound. 1 for 1.

Jesse Ventura v. Steve Olsonoski

And since it’s Jesse, we’re joined in a chinlock. He argues about hair-pulling with the referee, but Steve O gets a bodypress for two. Steve comes back with an elbow off the middle rope and a dropkick for two. Slam gets two, and Jesse decides to leave for a breather to MASSIVE heat. The man’s got blood clots in his lungs! Let him catch his breath, you jackals! Back in, Jesse backs off and backs off and then hits Steve with a cheapshot and stomps him down and out of the ring. Jesse won’t let him back into the ring, so Steve trips him up and wraps the leg around the post. Then he grabs one of the ringside ropes and chokes Ventura out with it, and they head back in for another comeback from Olsonoski. Airplane spin, but Body grabs the ropes and knocks him down. Steve goes up, but misses an elbow, and Jesse drops a knee on his back and finishes him off with the body vice at 8:23 aired. This was rather energetic for a Jesse Ventura match. 2 for 2.

Rick Martel v. Superstar Billy Graham

Intriguing. I didn’t know Kung Fu Graham passed through the AWA at this point. They fight over the knucklelock and Graham wins that one, and Rod actually points out that Graham was WWF champion in 1977 and beat Bruno. Martel fights out of the knucklelock and reverses it, but Graham gets the ropes right away. Graham follows with a bearhug and that goes on for a while. Martel with a sunset flip for two, but Graham uses KUNG FU to slow his roll and pounds him with forearms in the corner. Dropkick from Martel, but Graham uses Tai Kwon Do and tosses Martel over the top rope for a DQ at 7:00 aired. 2 for 3.

Blackjack Lanza joins Mean Gene for an interview where he tries to explain a bunkhouse match and poor Gene has to keep pointing out which camera to speak to. Apparently the match originated in Texas, where cowboys would fight in the bunkhouse to blow off steam, and other cowboys would surround the area to keep any cowards from trying to run away. So then Gene moves onto the announcement of the main event tonight, and oh by the way Hulk Hogan won’t be here tonight and the crowd is PISSED.

Greg Gagne, Jim Brunzell, Ray Stevens & Baron Von Raschke v. Jerry Blackwell, Ken Patera, Mr. Saito & Sheik Adnan.

So the crowd gets Baron Von Raschke instead of Hogan, who is “in Japan”. Oh yeah, he’s in Japan all right. And by “Japan” we of course mean “Allentown, PA, at the WWF TV tapings”. You can pretty much pinpoint the downfall of the entire promotion to the moment where Mean Gene makes that announcement. So this is pretty historic, in fact. Also, the idea that the BARON is somehow an equivalent replacement for Hulk Hogan is ridiculous even by Verne’s standards. The babyfaces work on Blackwell for a while, and Gagne gets a double stomp onto the stomach, but misses a dropkick. Patera goes to work on him and Adnan comes in with back rakes and soon it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA. Finally the ref regains controls of these hooligans and Adnan goes to a bearhug. Greg was looking really skinny at this point – was Verne not feeding him properly? Maybe he should switch to formula. Blackwell with a big splash on Greg for two and he drops him on Patera’s knee. The crowd at this point turns on the match and chants “We want the Hulk”. Well, you’ll have to watch the WWF for that, guys! Saito tries a leglock, but the babyfaces break it up and Brunzell gets the hot tag. And then Patera immediately cuts him off, so he brings Baron in for the claw on Adnan, and the High Flyers slingshot in with a splash to finish at 10:25. Frankly I’m shocked that the heels didn’t go over here just to really screw over the fanbase. Match was good enough for what it was. 3 for 4.

AWA World title: Nick Bockwinkel v. Mad Dog Vachon

Really tapping into the youth movement there, Verne. Now, the Crusher is in Mad Dog’s corner, so why didn’t they stick HIM into the 8 man tag to replace Hogan? The crowd would have been fine with that. Bockwinkel quickly jumps Mad Dog and chokes him out in the corner, and then takes him down for another choke. Vachon basically fish-hooks him to escape and then does it again, even more blatantly this time. He gets a slam and then bites on Nick’s leg, living up to his name. Bockwinkel wisely runs away, but Vachon slams him back into the ring for two. Mad Dog bites him in the corner, but charges and hits the post. Bockwinkel tries a piledriver, but Vachon backdrops out and chokes him out on the ropes some more, and a slam gets two. Piledriver gets two, but Bobby and Crusher all run in and it’s a DQ at 8:30. The crowd, however, is led to believe that it was a pinfall and Mad Dog is the champion, of course, until the ring announcement is made much later to reverse the decision. Yay, Verne. 3 for 5.

Main event screwjob aside, I really enjoyed most of this show and would give it a recommendation.