Rock Star Gary reflects on AWA on ESPN 03-04-1986

Taped from Las Vegas, NV

Airdate: March 4, 1986

Attendance: unknown

Hosted by Larry Nelson, Ken Resnick, & Greg Gagne

Will Blackwell destroy Zhukov as well as Al-Kaissie in the main event? What’s going on with the Long Riders? And who are these young newcomers to the AWA? Let’s sift through this in hopes of gold!

Opening montage.

Nelson welcomes us to the program and introduces Showboat Hotel & Casino general manager Judy Moore.

Since I appreciate constructive criticism, I will not be screen capturing or plugging any commercials for this reflection. Please let me know if it’s an improvement or a detriment.

Match 1: Shawn Michaels versus Budokan


  • This match marked Michaels’ AWA TV wrestling debut. Previously, he worked with Paul Diamond in Southwest Championship Wrestling within the tag team American Force. Also, he was a mere 20 years old when this taping occurred. I would bet he’s a heartbreaker.
  • Unfortunately for Michaels, he got booed out of the Showboat during his entrance. This wasn’t Madison Square Garden?
  • I have ZERO information on who Budokan is, was, or ever will be. At least he’s not as big as the martial arts hall.
  • When Budokan rolled Michaels up, he got 1.
  • Greg mentioned that Michaels was trained by Jose Lothario just in case you thought the WWF was lying about it in 1996.
  • As Budokan countered an arm bar with a cradle, he got 2.
  • The male portion of the Las Vegas faithful chanted for Budokan, but Michaels leapfrogged and dropkicked their hero.
  • After Michaels dealt him a ten-punch count-along that earned him a “BOR-ING” chant, he backflipped down to the mat and backdropped Budokan.
  • He uncorked a superkick, mounted the top turnbuckle, and launched a flying splash.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Michaels won at 6:31.

Rating: **

Summary: Showcase match for Michaels who is greener than turtle shit, but his finishing sequence is breathtaking.

In the ring, Nelson interviews Michaels who received a warmer post-match reaction than earlier. Knowing his current limitations, Michaels sets his “first goal” as the World tag team titles. He just needs a partner. So he can do-si-do?

Catch the AWA on tour!

  1. 3/9 in St. Paul, MN (Hansen versus Slaughter in a bunkhouse match)
  2. 3/11 in Milaca, MN
  3. 3/12 in New Ulm, MN
  4. 3/13 in Las Vegas, NV (TV taping)
  5. 3/14 in Albuquerque, NM
  6. 3/15 in Salt Lake City, UT (Hansen versus Blackwell)
  7. 3/16 in Denver, CO (Zbyszko versus Bockwinkel)
  8. 3/17 in Durand, WI
  9. 3/19 in St. Cloud, MN
  10. 3/21 in Manitowoc, WI (Long Riders versus Hennig/Hall)
  11. 3/22 in Hammond, IN (TV taping)

Match 2: The Long Riders versus Tim “Spitball” Patterson & “Bun Boy” Barton


  • In case you didn’t know, Patterson would migrate to the UWF in 1990.
  • Scott tagged in, but Patterson reversed a cross corner whip resulting in a sternum-first bump by Scott.
  • As Barton tagged in, Scott fed him a back elbow.
  • Bill tagged in and put a knee into Barton’s midsection.
  • When Bill slammed him, he got 2.
  • Scott tagged in but missed an elbow drop.
  • After Patterson tagged in, Scott gave him a cross corner whip but ate knee on his follow-through.
  • Tags were exchanged on both sides, and Bill guillotined Barton with the top rope.
  • While tags were exchanged on both sides again, Patterson slammed Scott.
  • Speaking of Scott, he OBLITERATED Patterson with a big boot and tagged in Bill.
  • As Bill DEMOLISHED him with a bicycle kick, he pinned Patterson at 8:05.

Rating: *

Summary: Showcase match for the Long Riders. I could swear Bun Boy would eat the pin because he became toast rather quickly.

In the ring, Nelson interviews the Long Riders. Scott refers to Hennig and Hall as “pretty boys,” while Bill tries to give Nelson an anatomy lesson stating the leg is the strongest part of the body. Although it seems accurate, the masseter is the strongest muscle.

Match 3: Scott Hall (w/ Curt Hennig) versus “Pretty Boy” Doug Somers


  • Hall floored Somers with a shoulder block and followed with a slam.
  • When Hall missed an elbow drop, Somers dealt him a pair of knee drops for 2.
  • Hall reversed a cross corner whip and backdropped Somers into the Vegas sky for 2.
  • As Somers concerned himself with Hennig, Hall hip-tossed him from the apron back into the ring.
  • He slammed Somers, fed him an elbow drop, and got another 2.
  • After Somers responded with a belly-to-back suplex, he got 1.
  • Hall put a knee into Somers’ midsection and hip-tossed him again.
  • While he delivered a back elbow, Hall slammed Somers.
  • Hall missed an elbow drop, reversed a cross corner whip, but ate knee on his follow-through.
  • When Hall reversed an Irish whip, he powerslammed Somers.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Hall won at 8:18.

Rating: **

Summary: Showcase match for Hall. That backdrop has to be seen to be believed.

In case you’re thirsty, a Budweiser ad was shown.

In the ring, Nelson interviews the tag team champions. Hennig touts the wily World champion while still cutting a promo on him. By the way, Hennig and Hall defeated Garvin and Regal on January 18 in Albuquerque, NM. Footage, as far as I can see, does not exist.

Plug #2 airs for the tour.

IN THIS CORNER: After a video featuring Jannetty airs, Nelson and Zbyszko interview him. Jannetty details that he and Michaels will tag together as the US Express. As Zbyszko takes him to task about his look, Jannetty picks on him for wearing a pink shirt. HA! Methinks Jannetty and Michaels will find a better name and could excel in the AWA.

Prior to the main event, we revisit a match from Oshkosh, WI on 2/1 where King Kong Brody and Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie double-teamed Blackwell until the babyface locker room emptied into the ring.

Match 4: Jerry Blackwell versus Boris Zhukov (w/ Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie)


  • At the onset, Blackwell dealt Zhukov and Al-Kaissie a double noggin knocker.
  • He gave Zhukov a cross corner whip and SQUISHED him with an avalanche.
  • As Blackwell unleashed a standing dropkick, Zhukov headbutted him to ZERO effect.
  • The Las Vegas faithful chanted “U-S-A,” and the All-American Blackwell knocked their nemesis out of the ring with a right cross.
  • When Zhukov gave him a cross corner whip, Blackwell took a sternum-first bump in the corner.
  • Zhukov distracted referee Scott LeDoux, so Al-Kaissie nailed Blackwell. SNEAKY!
  • After he fed Blackwell a pair of elbow drops, Zhukov got 2.
  • Zhukov delivered a big boot to a kneeling Blackwell and broke his nose; thus, Blackwell was BUSTED OPEN!
  • While Blackwell began to no-sell Zhukov’s offense, he suplexed Zhukov.
  • Blackwell clotheslined him, but Zhukov rebounded with his own dropkick.
  • Since it didn’t take him off his feet, Blackwell gave Zhukov a cross corner whip.
  • Blackwell tried another avalanche, but Al-Kaissie shoved Zhukov out of the corner just in the nick of time.
  • As Zhukov mounted the top turnbuckle, he missed a diving head butt.
  • Blackwell splashed and pinned Zhukov at 11:09.

Rating: **½

Summary: Blackwell outsmarted Zhukov and took advantage when the moment arrived.

In the ring, Nelson interviews Blackwell who toes the patriotic line. He cuts a promo on Brody and Al-Kaissie, and the Las Vegas faithful stand behind him.

Conclusion:  While this episode reads like an opening chapter in a book, the AWA was steamrolling toward WrestleRock ’86 on 4/20. If you’ve not seen Michaels’ TV debut, check it out. If you truly miss the Cold War, watch the main event too.

TV Rating: NONE

Stay tuned for AWA 03-11-86!

Comments? Suggestions? Send them to me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter (@rockstargary202). Also, please check out all of my reflections at including the Monday Night War and Herb Abrams’ UWF!