The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – The Road to SuperClash III – 09.18.88
Yeah, NXT is up on the Network now, sure, but how can I watch that when I have 2.5 hours of an AWA TV taping reconstructed as a Hidden Gem? This is literally like catnip for me.
So yeah, the idea here is that the fine folks at the Network have taken all the available footage from an AWA/World Class/Memphis/Continental combined TV taping in 1988, leading up to the disaster that was SuperClash, and mashed it together into what is basically a complete show. Like, how cool is that?! I wish they’d do that with Superstars or Challenge tapings from the 80s and add the dark matches and everything. Anyway, most of this ended up on the ESPN show, I believe.
Taped from Louisville, KY
Your hosts are Lee Marshall & Frank Dusek, with Verne Gagne stepping in at various points.
Ricky Rice & John Paul v. The Beast & Terry Adonis
I have no idea why they have two guys named “Terry” teaming up with “The Beast”, since there was also another guy named Terry Garvin (not that one) around this time who did a “Beauty and the Beast” tag team gimmick. This leads to a discussion of why you’d have two guys named “Garvin” as well but 1988 AWA already defies so much logic that it’s pointless to worry about it. The Guns double-team Adonis with headlocks for a while and Rice finishes him with a dropkick at 3:20. They literally could not be any more of a Rockers ripoff, dressing exactly the same and even styling their hair the same way as Shawn and Marty. ½*
Scott Steiner v. Ron Garvin
Ron Garvin is the prestigious International TV champion, although the title is not on the line here. I know what you’re thinking, but this is 1988 and Steiner was a rookie jobber and not yet out of his mind, and Garvin was unmotivated and lazy as fuck during this run, so this was likely not as awesome as you’d anticipate it might be. They trade chops and Garvin slugs him down for the Garvin Stomp, but they fight to the apron and Scott comes in with a flying bodypress that misses by a mile. Hands of Stone finishes him at 1:43. ½*
Kerry Von Erich v. Gary Young
Young clubs Kerry down for two and they slug it out in the corner, but that leads to Kerry hitting the discus punch. Dusek on commentary gives the line again that Kerry has beaten Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, which is patently untrue. So this ridiculous bit of “trivia” came about because the AWA was using the point that Kerry and Lawler had, BETWEEN THEM, beaten Flair, Hogan and Savage. Which could be true because Kerry beat Flair and Lawler could conceivably beat a young Hogan and a young Savage at various points. However, this somehow got corrupted into they BOTH beat all three guys, when in fact Kerry never even worked with Hogan and Lawler certainly never beat Flair that I can remember. Young tries a bodypress and Kerry rolls through for the pin at 1:40. Well this is quite the brisk taping thus far.
Mean Mike Enos v. Groovy Greg Gagne
Gagne works a hammerlock and Enos reverses him to a headlock, but Greg escapes and gets a high knee that Enos barely moves from. Enos bails and Greg slingshots him back in and goes to work on the arm. Dusek’s over the top descriptions of Gagne’s technical prowess are kind of hilarious at this point in Greg’s career. Gagne makes a comeback and backdrops Enos into a dropkick, then finishes with a sleeper at 3:33. The crowd was completely silent for supposed top babyface Greg Gagne. They weren’t even being subtle about the Greg overpush at this point. *
Madusa Micelli & Sylvia & Magnificent Mimi & Wendi Richter
Wendi works an extended bodyscissors on Madusa while we’re blessed on commentary David McLane. Mimi comes in and Lee Marshall points out that this showdown is what everyone has been waiting for. I think Mimi’s only notable mark in the sport was doing a nude photoshoot around this time if I’m remembering correctly. And they do some armdrags. So, I guess in the world of the GLOW TV show, Bash Howard is kind of the analog for David, which isn’t particularly flattering to him based on the third season. Mimi works a hammerlock but gets double-teamed in the heel corner. Madusa drags in Richter and the announcers have no idea who’s legal because this match is terrible and they’re all stumbling through it. Madusa chokes out Richter, but Wendi comes back with a shoulderblock in the corner and hangs Madusa in the Tree of Woe. Sylvia, who isn’t actually a wrestler but is just Robert Fuller’s wife at the time and occasional valet, comes in to save and has no idea what to do even for those 15 seconds. Madusa gets a kind of half-assed suplex and both shoulders are down, but I think one of them gets a shoulder up, and then the bell randomly rings at 7:50 for no discernable reason and the match just kind of ends. Apparently the babyfaces won? No one has a explanation forthcoming. Based on this, Richter demands a title match right now, with NO INTERFERENCE. What interference? I don’t understand anything happening right now. -** Richter keeps yelling her promo and no one comes out to answer, and then they just leave. Lee Marshall would like to stress that Badd Company are absolutely not here and thus can’t help out Madusa should she answer.
Badd Company v. Nature’s Best (Bill & Darryl Justin)
I have no idea who these geeks are, but their career didn’t last long. Although, I should note that the timing of this is perfect, because I can only assume that if someone is going to go after an Asian, it’s someone named Justin. TIMELY POLITICAL HUMOR FOR THE WIN. Tanaka and Diamond double-team the jobbers and hit a Demolition elbow for two before picking up whichever Justin is in the ring and they do an extended beatdown, but Diamond misses an elbow and the other Justin comes in and gets a couple of slams, but Diamond superkicks him into a Tanaka suplex for the pin at 4:50. I’m assuming Nature’s Best went on to form a granola company or something. Overly long squash here. ½*
The Rock N Roll Express v. The Hangman & Terry Adonis
The Hangman is not in fact wearing a mask, and appears to be someone they found cooking meth in the back alley and/or working in a Dexy’s Midnight Runners tribute band. The Express double-teams Hangman and they bring in Adonis for the double dropkick at 1:35.
World Class Texas title: Iceman Parsons v. Michael Hayes
The crowd legit goes crazy for Hayes, the first person on this taping to get any kind of superstar reaction. They slug it out to start and Hayes gets a lariat to send Parsons running to the floor. Back in, Hayes with a headlock and he chases Parsons again and stops to strut. Back in, Iceman puts him down with a headbutt and stomps away to take over, and a clothesline gets two. Parsons with a chinlock, but Hayes tries a sunset flip, so Iceman slugs him down. Iceman misses a charge and Hayes comes back while the announcers talk about a superheavyweight battle royale coming up, where the favorite is a young kid named “Bull Power” Leon White. Never heard of him. Anyway, the SST runs in for the DQ at 4:17. This was the closest thing to a real match thus far on this show, but still no good. *3/4 We’ll break two stars yet, I can feel it!
Terry Garvin v. Steve Cox
See, here’s the other Terry and other Garvin, in the form of Terry Garvin, who is ripping off Jimmy Garvin at this point. Terry Garvin slaps some Cox in the corner, but gets slammed by Cox for two. Verne Gagne notes that Cox is a young boy, so I’m assuming he’s right up Terry Garvin’s alley. Oh wait, sorry, wrong Terry Garvin. I keep forgetting. Cox wins with a Russian legsweep at 1:30. You never want to see Cox finishing that fast. ½*
USA v. USSR: Sgt. Slaughter v. Soldat Ustinov
Ustinov can barely be bothered to shave his head at this point and looks more like your gym teacher than a scary Russian. Ustinov is seconded by Singapore bad guy Teijo Khan, so Slaughter goes to the dressing room and finds jobber Keith Erick and I guess this is a tag team match now?
Sgt Slaughter & Keith Erick v. Teijo Khan & Soldat Ustinov
Erick is a pudgy jobber and even Verne Gagne is burying him on commentary. So the babyfaces double-team Khan with armbars, but shockingly Erick gets wiped out by the heels. Ustinov gets a suplex for two and picks him up for more punishment. Ustinov drops a leg and he can barely run the ropes properly. This guy makes Vladimir Petrov look like Ivan Koloff. Ustinov gets a powerslam for two and picks him up again, and Khan gets a clothesline for two and picks him up yet again. Erick comes back with a clothesline for a double down and makes the hot tag to Slaughter, who quickly gets the cobra clutch on Ustinov, but then lets it go and chases after Col. DeBeers and gets counted out at 6:14. And then he comes back and beats up both heels to get his heat back anyway. That’s the closest you’re getting to Sarge doing a job in 1988. What the fuck was the point of this nonsense? Really, Keith Erick was the best he could find? Was Rocky Mountain Thunder busy with something else? DUD
Meanwhile, the jobber has taken a piledriver on the floor from DeBeers. Because he’s black, you see, and DeBeers hates them colored people even more than Justin Trudeau does. Now I’m wondering if I should go back and edit out that previous Trudeau joke and go with this one as the big one instead. Of course, if I did that, this entire aside wouldn’t mean anything to you, the reader, and I don’t want to betray your trust that way, so I’m gonna leave it in. So Slaughter cuts a promo over the dead body of his partner, who is probably concussed or bleeding out or whatever, it’s not important, because DeBeers is back with a stretcher and Slaughter challenges him to a match RIGHT NOW. Finally some other wrestlers come out to help the poor dead jobber while Slaughter cuts another promo and challenges DeBeers to a Boot Camp match. Slaughter’s hilariously callous disregard for the well being of the guy who literally sacrificed his body for him is tremendous. AND HE’S THE BABYFACE! The poor bastard was probably back in the dressing room having a sandwich or something and Slaughter came and dragged him out to get killed. I hope he at least paid for the medical bills afterwards out of his GI Joe money.
Hell of a show thus far here at the halfway point. Living up to all my expectations and then some.
Wahoo McDaniel v. Manny Fernandez
This should at least be something. Manny slugs away in the corner but gets chopped down and backdropped. They trade wristlocks and Wahoo chops him down again and retains control of the wristlock. Manny takes him to the corner and goes after the knee, and then adds his own chops and goes to work on the knee. This naturally reminds Verne Gagne of a clash years ago between Hans Schmidt and Killer Kowalski, as he turns into Grandpa Simpson before our ears. Wahoo naturally gets busted open after getting brushed on the forehead, but he fights back with chops and Manny is selling it like crazy because apparently he doesn’t realize he’s on an AWA TV taping in 1988 and that kind of professionalism is way out of place. Manny flies out of the ring and Wahoo hauls him back in for another chop that gets two, and then they fight on the floor and trade more crazy stiff chops for the double countout at 7:02. Didn’t go anywhere but they were having a real match and everything. **1/2
OK, we got over the two star mark, everything afterwards is gravy.
Hector & Chavo & Mondo Guerrero v. The Rock N Roll RPMs & The Hangman
Apparently the Guerreros work a style called “Lucha libre”, as we all learn something. Hector gets double-teamed by the RPMs in their corner, but the Guerreros give Tommy Lane a triple atomic drop to chase the heels. Dusek, back on commentary here, notes that SuperClash is so huge that they should call it “The Clash of Champions” instead. I feel like that would cause some legal problems. Just a hunch. Mike Davis comes in and Mondo takes him down with a monkey flip and the Guerreros do some fast-paced triple-teams in their corner and work on Davis’s leg. Lane gets a cheapshot on Mondo from the apron and the heels take over on him, but he flips off Lane and brings Chavo in, and he cleans house with dropkicks and it’s BONZO GONZO. We get the three-way heel collision and the Guerreros do the rowboat spot for fun, then Mondo hits a damn plancha while Hector hits a tope suicida, and Chavo finishes the Hangman with a MOONSAULT at 5:30. HOLY SHIT. The Guerreros were so ridiculously ahead of their time that no one knew what to do with them. This was a spectacular trainwreck match and the clear highlight of the show thus far. ***1/2
Col. DeBeers v. Alan Reynolds
DeBeers conveniently brings a stretcher with him, just in case it’s needed later. DeBeers beats the jobber down and hits him with an enzuigiri, then goes to the middle rope and drives a knee into the back of his neck. Gotch piledriver finishes at 1:40. Well that ended our hot streak for quality matches at 2.
The Samoan Swat Team v. Ray Odyssey & Sean Baxter
Odyssey later became an early ECW mainstay, and Baxter appears to be CC Deville moonlighting as a wrestler. Seriously, did no one point out that perhaps he could have laid off on the hairspray a LITTLE BIT? He literally looks like he’s cosplaying Axl Rose in the “Welcome to the Jungle” video! The SST no-sells all the stuff from the jobbers and destroys them in their corner as Marshall stresses that you can’t see SuperClash on regular TV, only PPV. Well, until like a week later, when they aired the entire PPV at various points on their TV to fill time. Odyssey gets double-teamed as they continue stiffly beating on him and hit a double superkick, and then Fatu takes him to the top rope for a nasty backdrop suplex to set up a flying splash for the pin at 4:14. They were taking some liberties out there for some reason. But it was pretty entertaining for a squash.
Jerry Lawler v. Terry Adonis
Yes, it’s our THIRD match featuring Adonis. Hope he was getting paid extra. Or, you know, getting paid period. Lawler just squashes the shit out of him and finishes with a top rope fistdrop at 1:53.
Robert Fuller & Jimmy Golden v. Brickhouse Brown & Bill Dundee
Brown cleans house on the Stud Stable to start and chases them out of the ring, and back in the babyfaces hit stereo atomic drops to crash the Studs into each other. They take turns choking them out in the corner and Brickhouse whips Fuller into Golden, and everyone brawls on the floor. Back in, Golden gets worked over in the babyface corner as Verne speculates that Crocodile Dundee was based on the life of Bill Dundee. OK then. Golden backs off and goads Dundee into the heel corner, and the Stud Stable goes to work on his arm. This leads to a wacky spot where Fuller accidentally works on the arm of his own partner after Dundee switches out, and the crowd goes crazy for this simple stuff. See, these guys knew exactly how to play to this crowd in Louisville. Sylvia gets a shot on Dundee with a kendo stick, but Fuller accidentally drops an elbow on Golden and Brickhouse gets a hot tag. Dundee heads out and beats on Downtown Bruno while Brown gets a bodypress on Fuller for the pin at 7:28, which the camera misses. Fun southern tag team match. **1/2 And then it turns into a big brawl with Jeff Jarrett and Cactus Jack getting involved as well and the babyfaces clearing the ring.
The Rock N Roll Express & The Top Guns & Jeff Jarrett v. Badd Company & The Rock N Roll RPMs & Cactus Jack
Jack gets double-teamed by various combinations of the babyfaces, but slugs away on Jarrett to escape. Mike Davis comes in, but Jarrett fights out of the corner and brings in John Paul. The babyfaces control Pat Tanaka, but Diamond slugs away on Jarrett and then gets caught in the babyface corner and pinballed by them. Robert gets a DDT for two and Ricky gets a suplex for two, but John Paul comes in and gets caught in the heel corner. Lane gets a backdrop and Davis adds a sideslam, and Jack gets a back elbow for two. Paul fights back and Robert Gibson gets a hot tag, but misses a dropkick on Tanaka and a flying chop gets two. And then everyone comes in for the brawl and Morton trips up Tanaka in the chaos, allowing Gibson to get the pin at 10:24. As usual, the camera missed the finish. Not much to this one. **
Afterwards, Jeff Jarrett hypes a tag match for SuperClash with himself and Jimmy Valiant against Tommy Rich and Buddy Landel, which is definitely not where it ended up. Also, the Top Guns are high on dropkicks, not drugs. I’d like to see a test proving that because Jon Paul seems like he did a lot of coke.
Jimmy Valiant & Jerry Lawler v. Kerry Von Erich & Michael Hayes
Speaking of being high on drugs and not dropkicks, Kevin Von Erich was supposed to be here but he “suffered a concussion” according to Kerry. Probably suffered a baggie full of concussion and couldn’t make the show. Lawler starts with Kerry and gets overpowered while Lee Marshall claims to have seen Jerry Lawler beating Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. PERSONALLY SEEN IT HIMSELF. Good lord. Kerry tries the discus punch and Lawler slugs him down to counter, and chases Kerry into the corner. They knock each other down and Lawler gets a standing dropkick, so Kerry gets his own in response for two. And they both try dropkicks and miss. Valiant and Hayes come in and this should be something. Jimmy goes low and Team Memphis works Hayes over in the corner, but Michael tosses Valiant and Kerry gets a cheapshot from the apron, and then everyone is counted out at 9:00 for the bullshit finish. At least the camera was filming that one. And then everyone brawls, of course.
So yeah, this was definitely a thing. I love me some AWA, although this was not exactly the best period of their existence, to say the least. Still, some fun wacky matchups amidst all the crap squashes here, and I considered it a fine use of my 2 hours.