AWA… The (British) American Wrestling Association!

This is a British wrestling group/show from the early nineties, 1993 unless I’m wrong, and I believe the person running the show and who trained most of the guys was John Holt, better known as Johnny “Muscles” England from the World of Sport day. His whole deal was that he was a preening and posing bodybuilder, based on having been a competitive bodybuilder in his earlier days. I think he’s said that he recruited a bunch of bodybuilders from a gym he worked out at as well as assorted hard nuts he knew. They’re trying to capitalise on the American wrestling boom in the UK around this time, which was just petering off in favour of other stuff. Mixed results, not for lack of trying, but we’ll get there.

Commentator Tricky Ricky Diamond (actually, I believe, filmmaker Liam Galvin, who has uploaded this and lots of boxing stuff to his YouTube channel) welcomes us to De Montfort Hall in Leicester, which sounds somewhat upscale, but Leicester is a bit of a dump.

First up, interview with heel manager Rocky Stone, who sounds like actor Phil Cornwell and is wearing a fetching combination of leather jacket and trousers and a Hawaiian shirt. He runs down who his wrestlers are and denies any improprieties such as being involved in fixed matches or bribery or stealing from his wrestlers. He just has to take expenses out first for transport, accommodation, contract negotiations, training… This is followed by an interview with the Russian Bear Uri Vlasov, who only seems to know “da” and “nyet”.

Uri Vlasov vs. The X-Terminator

Commentators are Ricky Diamond and “AWA President” Tim Turner, who just make up a lot the back stories for the wrestlers for their own amusement. X-Terminator is a bodybuilder in black tights and black boots, black leather jacket and shades, doing a Terminator gimmick. He attacks straight away, before Uri no-sells an Irish whip into the corner, then runs into a pretty big back bodydrop. Samoan drop, and the X-Terminator stays down on him and pins him in less than a minute. He also gives Stone the same move and walks over him on his way out. Well, that was unexpected.

Backstage, Ricky talks to the Hypnotist, who has painted-on sideburns and eyebrows. He hypnotises his assistant, Captivating Carol, into kissing Ricky, who wants more. #metoo

The Hypnotist vs. The Terrible Turk

Rocky Stone is still in the ring from the last match, so the Hypnotist brings him back to life and sends him back on his way as a nice guy. Hypnotist with punches in the corner to start, followed by a monkey flip. Turk just about gets Hypnotist for a slam and then launches him where he just about gets enough rotation so that he doesn’t break his neck. Gutwrench suplex follows, so Hypnotist goes to his crystal ball for power like the Undertaker going to the urn. Hypnotist is just about turning on Irish whips as well, to show how amateurish the wrestling is. He does get a nice roll-up out of nowhere for two. Just about up on back bodydrop, which ends up with him landing with his feet on the rope. Turk’s manager, Luscious Laura, tries to attack Hypnotist and gets frozen to the spot. Same with Turk, who goes through a badly acted bit down to the mat, then gets pinned with a boot on the chest. A wrestling hypnotist gimmick sounds good for a laugh, but doesn’t work.

Backstage, Ricky interviews “Scottish” heel manager Mad Angus McGregor and his charge, Spartacus. Even Angus is an oiled up bodybuilder. Spartacus is massive, wearing leather gladiator gear while chewing a piece of gum constantly.

Young Hawk vs. Spartacus

Young Hawk is a bodybuilder with a bow and arrow, giving sweets to the kids and trying to get as many kisses off the women in the front row as possible. Spartacus is still chewing the gum. “Angus has such a big mouth that he could eat a banana sideways!”, says Ricky. I’m actually stealing that line. Angus says something on the mic in the ring, but the sound system doesn’t pick it up. Spartacus attacks Hawk right away with a flying clothesline. Spartacus is pretty handsome and well built, but also looks like the actor Kevin Eldon on steroids, for anyone who’s familiar. Side suplex, called a reverse kneedrop by Turner. After two or three minutes, Hawk gets a comeback, flipping through a monkey flip and delivering a dropkick where he lands on his feet. Karate kick and then a double axehandle off the top. I need to mention as well that the ring is massive and you could probably have two matches going on at the same time. Spartacus blocks a second axehandle with a punch to the gut and does a jumping tombstone. Sounds more impressive than it looks, he jumps up and down before dropping, but his knees are all over the place and the head of Hawk (luckily) never touches the canvas. Flying clothesline to finish.

The video actually ends there, but there is more on YouTube, so let’s finish with a battle royal from the same show as a separate clip.

Battle Royal

It’s actually a Royal Rumble match, with the match joined in progress as Young Hawk enters. In the ring already is Johnny England, the Preacher Man, Uri Vlasov and Corporal Punishment. Hawk and the Corporal drop elbows on Uri, then Preacher comes over and helps eliminate him. Next in is the VAT Man (17 fights, 17 wins, one draw… they call him Mr. 17.5%), which is obviously an IRS ripoff. He attacks Hawk. He’s as sweaty as Mike Rotunda, but built better. The Terrible Turk comes in a minute later and helps VAT Man eliminate the Preacher Man. Next in is the Hypnotist as Hawk and England take it outside. Next, Dashing Dave the Cavalier, and he helps eliminate the VAT Man with Hypnotist. Turk takes out Corporal Punishment with a Cactus Jack clothesline. Spartacus next in, who whips Hawk into a group of other wrestlers. Johnny England tumbles out. Hercules, the tag partner of Spartacus and AWA champion, comes in next. He’s even bigger and more ripped than Spartacus. The commentators tout him as a potential challenger for Hulk Hogan. The gladiators (who you have to imagine were dreamed up off the success of Gladiators at the time) beat up Hypnotist and Dave. Next in is Malicious Mel, a ginger biker. He comes into the ring and then gets straight out. Gladiators eliminate Hypnotist and Dave, with Mel finally coming back in. The last man in is the X-Terminator. Nice running leap over the top from the entrance ramp to double clothesline the gladiators, but Mel gets a crappy DDT to halt his momentum. The commentators talk up X-Terminator being indestructible, but he doesn’t look it from this. Mel goes for a charge and X-Terminator ducks it to send him flying out. The gladiators pound X-Terminator and do a painful deal where they drop double legdrops on his legs, which ends up more with their arses landing right on his shoulders. Looks like a recipe for two broken arms. X-Terminator ducks a double clothesline and hits both with a flying clothesline. Spartacus is clotheslined out, leaving AWA champion Hercules against top star X-Terminator. X-Terminator almost knocks Hercules out with a clothesline, then they look like they’re humping one another on the bottom strand. Mad Angus distracts X-Terminator, then pulls down the top rope with his cane when he goes for a final clothesline, causing him to tumble out and leaving Hercules as a winner.

The Bottom Line: Well, what did this show have? Wrestlers in really good shape, seeing as they were all recruited from a gym in the West Midlands. They seemed to have been taught a match to do and a few impressive moves, but seemingly no idea why they were doing them. Also, the booking was far too heavily weighted towards making the heels look dominant and the good guys weak, which when you’ve got guys who look like He-Man figures is bewildering. No shock, the promotion didn’t last much longer as interest dwindled.