Continuing on with the Network’s limited AWA run, the only listed TV episode from 1987, featuring an introduction from Rodger Kent against what sounds like the disco version of Star Wars. I have to imagine they’d had this for about ten years or so by this point. Introduced by Larry Nelson and Gary Ron… I’ve never heard of him, either.
From the Showboat.
Shawn Michaels vs. Frankie DeFalco
Rod Trongard on commentary says this is the first time we’ve ever seen Shawn in singles action, despite the fact that the last episode I looked at had his debut as a singles wrestler. Lord James Blears is the other half of the hip and happening announce team. Shawn has grown his hair out at this point and has his Midnight Rockers gear. He fakes out DeFalco on a kick to Marty’s amusement outside, who follows up by coming over and giving him some mocking encouragement. The way to think about them is that Shawn was the obvious star, while Marty was his goofy, funny bastard partner, although he’s completely lost his mind now. Shawn takes requests from the audience on how many times they want him to drop the knee on Franke’s arm (“I hate you, Las Vegas!”, DeFalco spits out in response). He gets his revenge on Shawn with a choke and a slam, but misses an elbow off the second, which Shawn casually gets out of the way of. Flying fistdrop off the second finishes for Shawn. Funny squash match.
Backstage interview with the Midnight Rockers after the match. Marty wears a vest from his trainer’s (Ted Oates) gym. They talk about chasing after the tag champs, Rose and Somers, for the belts. Nelson goes line-for-line with them in the interview, which was actually the same when it came to snorting coke.
Mike Richards vs. The Super Ninja
Not Rip Oliver for the latter, actually Shunji Takano, brother of George, the Cobra. He’s accompanied by Larry Z., who’s wearing a nifty blue kimono. Ninja is abnormally tall, dressed like Shinobi (not Al Snow!). Richards is a short doughboy who would end up as one half of WCW legends Disorderly Conduct. Ninja plays with him for a bit before hitting two karate kicks and finishing with a butterfly suplex that he bridges with into a pin. Nice move, and cool to see a guy that big doing a bridge. The half dozen people missing from their chairs in the front row on camera may disagree.
Backstage interview with Larry and Masa Saito, out of prison. Ninja pops up in the background. Saito talks about being gone for two years and not knowing what’s up with Nick Bockwinkel turning babyface since he’s been gone. Larry takes it over to accuse Ray Stevens coming out of mothballs to join his over-the-hill gang while Ninja screams in the background. Fun enough, I loved listening to Masa’s broken English promos, so he always gets a pass.
Nick Bockwinkel vs. Curt Hennig
This is a recap of a recent match, with Nick still heel at this point and the champ. Curt is bleeding and is quickly maturing into his championship look, with the blue and white trunks. They’re seven minutes away from having wrestled an hour. To annoy me further, there’s even more visibly empty seats in the Showboat, despite the match having some heat. Curt makes a comeback with axes while 90% of his face is covered in thick blood, and Nick has decided to join him with the blading too. Curt does his goofy neck twist move out of a piledriver position, then a superkick, which I’m kinda surprised he didn’t use more because he could get his legs up for it. Fourth axe for two. Larry Nelson at ringside manages to catch one of their teeth. With three minutes remaining, Curt rams Nick’s head repeatedly into the corner, with Nick still going after he stops in a funny bit. Hennig gets a suplex, but is too exhausted to roll over for the pin. Kneelifts and elbowdrop with two minutes remaining. Figure four with just over a minute remaining. Nick tries to escape in the final minute as Trongard talks up the match as one of the legendary matches of all time before it’s even done. Fifteen seconds with the crowd counting it down. Nick lasts to the end, with Curt thinking he’s won, but it’s a draw. Obviously it was one of the great AWA matches towards the end of the promotion, and this seven minutes was all action, but not enough to call it legendary by itself.
Backstage interview with Curt Hennig recapping his experience of 1986, losing the tag belts to Somers and Rose via Colonel DeBeers, then becoming a challenger to Nick Bockwinkel and swearing to get the belt from him when he returns from a Japanese tour. Good intensity, more in line with the Mr. Perfect we’d get to know.
Superfly Jimmy Snuka vs. Rick Gantner
Snuka on the outs from the WWF in a period where he was doing too many drugs to even be with them. Gantner would go on to be biker Bull Pain. He stalls as long as he can, then gets hit with a flying headbutt and Snuka quickly finishes with the Superfly splash off the top, which is always impressive. Rod threatens a backstage interview with Snuka, but we get a match instead.
Playboy Buddy Rose and Pretty Boy Doug Somers vs. Tom “Rocky” Stone and Earthquake Ferris
Pretty sure Ferris has been covered before, but he’s so fat that Buddy is making fat jokes about him. Buddy “strips” out of his tag belt at the start. Sherri Martel manages the champs, in full pissed off mode from the start, looking cold. The jobbers actually dominate early on until Somers gets a suplex on Stone. Stone tries a comeback, but Rose gets the DDT for the pin. The replay actually shows that Stone’s head never actually hit the mat on the move.
Backstage interview with Boris Zhukov, sans Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie. Zhukov, formerly one of Sgt. Slaughter’s Privates, challenges the main member, the big Sarge himself. He then gets confused as to whether it’s supposed to be him or Adnan from Russia and Iraq respectively before walking off. Rose and Somers take it over, with Rose finishing off his point for him while announcing he’s now weighing 210 pounds (“Yes, I’ve lost seven more pounds!”). You’d think Somers was a statue if not for him stroking the belt with his thumb. Nelson and Ron call a close to the show after that.
The Bottom Line: Fine show with some decent matches, just to a dwindling audience.