The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling – 02.13.88
OH HELL YEAH. I’ve been dying for more AWA for years now and they finally dropped another 8 episodes on the Network out of nowhere. Shitty end-of-the-line era stuff, but I don’t care, I’m reviewing it all and I don’t even mind if it dies on the blog like the lovechild of Mid-Atlantic and Lucha Underground jobbing to Jeff Hardy on RAW in 4:00.
Taped from Minot, ND
Your hosts are Rod Trongard & Ray Stevens. Plus Larry Nelson, who promises EXCITING ACTION, and Greg Gagne in the main event. If you fed that statement into a robot’s brain you’d cause it to blow up from the logical contradiction.
The Nasty Boys v. Ricky Rice & Tom Johnson
Very early in the career for Sags and Knobs, who had been working as a referee and a jobber respectively up until this point. The Nasties double-team Johnson and pound him down. You can see Johnson going for a small package on Sags, who immediately cuts him off and drops him on the top rope instead, and Knobs adds some punishment on the floor as these poor fuckers can’t even get a single move’s worth of shine on these two. Johnson actually comes back in with a sunset flip, by which I mean he pulls himself up on the ropes and flops helplessly like a fish until Sags helps him by falling backwards and leading him into the move, and that gets two. Hot tag Rice, and Sags immediately cuts him off as well with a backbreaker and Knobs pounds on the guy’s back. Back to the corner and Sags drops an elbow, and it’s back to Tom Johnson as Knobs finishes with a flying clothesline at 5:13. The Nasties were just AWFUL in 1988 and completely gobbled the poor kids. 0 for 1.
Curt Hennig joins Larry Nelson, wearing what appears to be ski goggles and a Christmas sweater as his outfit.
They should have put that on the episode’s thumbnail.
Curt Hennig v. Daryl Olsen
Olsen hails from Cumberland, Kentucky, for those keeping track. The pudgy jobber gets a couple of shots in, but Curt gets fired up and hits him with an Axe attack and then finishes with some kind of fisherman’s suplex at 2:10. He hit that move absolutely…line? Flawless, I guess. Maybe better than flawless if there’s a word for that. We’ll go with that. 0 for 2.
Verne Gagne joins Larry Nelson in HIS Christmas sweater, and he wants to talk about Olympic events because the Winter Olympics were a thing happening in Calgary that year. Exciting, I know.
Soldat Ustinov v. Alan West
Yes, it’s the AWA Dollar Tree Russian, as Verne Gagne ordered Nikita Koloff from Wish and got Soldat Ustinov. And they threw in “Magnum TA” and Alan West was in the box instead. Verne should have known when it was only $5 with overnight shipping. West chases Ustinov out of the ring and wants a test of strength, and they do that until West stomps on the hands to win and sends him out of the ring again. Meanwhile on commentary, Donna Gagne gives us some background on West, who apparently played with a football team called “The Blue Bombers”. Sounds made up to me. How many Grey Cups do THEY have? One? LOL. Ustinov pounds on him with forearms in the corner and gets a hiptoss for two, before going back to the CLUBBING FOREARMS. He goes to the COMMUNIST CHINLOCK, the most evil of all chinlocks, but West fights out and gets a dropkick for two. Ustinov chops him down again and tosses him, but West comes back in with a bodypress while the ring announcer calls the final minute at 7:00 into the match. Are they just making up random times? Stopwatches were invented in 1988, I’m pretty sure. Ustinov drops a leg for two and they clothesline each other, but West hits a belly to belly as time expires at 9:00. They gave West a ton of offense and he had an impressive mullet, so of course he never wrestled again after this. 1 for 3.
Out of curiosity I tried to look him up to see what happened and there’s zero information on the guy after this show. I did find this publicity photo, however:
Right back atcha, big guy.
Tom Zenk joins Larry Nelson while Larry is talking about the upcoming tour that’s coming through Ladysmith, WI and Braynard, MN. Oh man I think I was at that show in Braynard in 1988! No wait, I’m lying.
Greg Gagne v. Adrian Adonis
It wouldn’t be an AWA main event in 1988 without Greg Gagne. We’re joined in progress for whatever reason, with Greg chasing Adrian to the floor via bodyslams. Adrian gets some advice from bodyguard Bob Orton. That advice? “Watch out for moose if you’re driving in Canada”. If only someone had heeded that advice. Back in the ring, Groovy Greg works the arm and backdrops Adrian, then goes to an abdominal stretch, which is less than effective. So Greg takes him down with a drop toehold and we get a thrilling segment of laying on the mat in a leglock. Man, I heard Adonis was trying to lose weight at this point in hopes of getting back in Vince’s good graces, but he was seriously bigger than ever at that point. This was a sad, sad period in his life. Adonis finally hits Greg with an avalanche to take over, and that gets two. Adonis chokes him out and gets the big fat splash for two, but he tries another one and Greg hits him in the waddle on the way down. Hey, I have to watch it, so you have to picture it. Adonis keeps coming with the sleeper, but Gagne escapes and gets his own sleeper, the GAGNE SLEEPER, which is like a regular sleeper but it keeps getting booked in World title matches long past its prime, and they fight to the floor for some kind of disqualification or countout or some combination therein at 10:00 and Adonis might be the new International TV champion or maybe not depending on whether Stanley Blackburn changed the rules this week or probably not. I’ll give you a minute to recompose yourselves after all the excitement. 1 for 4.
Oh man I’m in heaven. PLEASE KEEP ADDING THIS AWFUL SHOW and I promise I’ll review every episode and love every minute of it. I understand the AWA also existed before 1988 but I’ve got enough good wrestling in my life as it is, thank you very much.