Rock Star Gary reflects on AWA Battle By The Bay

Live from Oakland, CA

Airdate: June 28, 1986

Attendance: 1,500

Hosted by Larry Nelson, Rod Trongard, Lord James Blears, & Greg Gagne

Can Blackwell achieve greatness by defeating Hansen? Will Devine retain against Sherri? What will Bockwinkel do against Nord the Barbarian? How will the Midnight Rockers and Hennig fare in the main event? Let’s uncover the mystery right now!

Opening montage.

Nelson stands with Blears and AWA President Stanley Blackburn outside the Kaiser Convention Center to hype tonight’s card. As Blackburn promotes the AWA as he has been president for 27 years, he stumbles over who’s currently in the promotion. Next, he declines the use of instant replay by stating “if the referee doesn’t see it, he can only call what he sees.” The Oakland faithful rightfully boos him.

Commercials air including your favorite–delicious Budweiser.

Match 1: Earthquake Ferris versus Ali Khan (w/ Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie)


  • For those unaware, Khan was portrayed by Tom Lintz.
  • Ferris was the hometown hero who resembled neither John Tenta nor Matthew Broderick.
  • When Ferris backdropped him, Khan took a powder on the concrete floor.
  • Khan missed a clothesline but smashed Ferris with a high knee.
  • As Khan fed him a swinging neckbreaker, Ferris gave him a cross corner whip followed by an avalanche.
  • He gave Khan another cross corner whip but ate knee on his follow-through.
  • After Ferris powerslammed him, he pinned Khan at 5:59.

Rating: *

Summary: Showcase match for the hometown kid as the Oakland faithful went nucking futs for him.

After the match, Khan demolishes Ferris and makes him HIT THE POLE. Afterward, all tremors in the Bay Area subsided at least until 1989.

Promo airs for roller derby followed by grueling AWA action on Tuesday nights beginning at 8pm.

At ringside, Nelson interviews Ray “The Crippler” Stevens and former San Francisco 49er Leo Nomellini who tout the Bay area for its wrestling tradition and proud fans. If not for the cost of the rent, I’d bet this show would have emanated from the Cow Palace.

Match 2 for the AWA Women’s title: Candi Devine (champion) versus Sherri Martel (w/ “Playboy” Buddy Rose)


  • Devine approached the ring to Bob Seger’s “Her Strut.”
  • As Devine took Sherri down with a flying headscissors, Blears shilled the show in Denver tomorrow night. Hmmm…I heard something important happened during that show.
  • Devine hooked a Boston crab, but Sherri escaped.
  • When Sherri gloated about her feat, Devine countered with a sunset flip but didn’t receive a count.
  • Devine gave Sherri a cross corner whip but ate a back elbow on her follow-through.
  • After Devine backdropped her, Sherri tossed her down to the wooden floor.
  • Rather than Sherri returning her to the ring, Devine dragged her over the top rope down to the wooden floor.
  • Devine slammed her on the wooden floor twice and brought her back in the hard way.
  • While Devine catapulted her twice, she blocked a hip toss and dealt Sherri one of her own.
  • Sherri fed Devine a leg drop for 2. Subtle dig at Hogan, no?
  • As Sherri gave Devine a cross corner whip, referee Gary DeRusha got stuck in the corner.
  • Sherri attempted to secure a flying headscissors on Devine but caught DeRusha instead.
  • When she gave Devine a cross corner whip, Sherri followed with a shoulder block to the abdomen.
  • Sherri gave her another cross corner whip, but Devine mounted the second turnbuckle and trapped her in another sunset flip for 2.
  • After Devine complained about the count, Sherri rolled her up while hooking the second rope. How dastardly!
  • 1-2-3.
  • Sherri won at 8:40.

Rating: *½

Summary: A distracted finish costs Devine the title. Smell the excitement!

At ringside, Nelson interviews Donna Gagne who gossips about Sherri possibly heading to Hollywood.

More commercials including YOUR favorite–Bud Light.

Catch the AWA on tour!

  1. 6/29 in Denver, CO (Rose/Somers versus the Midnight Rockers)
  2. 7/5 in Las Vegas, NV (ESPN TV Taping)
  3. 7/11 in Arlington Heights, IL (Bockwinkel versus DeBeers)
  4. 7/12 in Milwaukee, WI (Snuka versus Zbyszko)
  5. 7/13 in St. Paul, MN (Rose/Somers versus the Midnight Rockers)
  6. 7/18 in Appleton, WI (Hennig/Hall versus Rose/Somers)
  7. 7/19 in Chicago, IL (Bockwinkel versus Nord the Barbarian)

At ringside, Nelson interviews Frank Biner and Mick Gillette. For those curious, Gillette was the founder of the Tower of Power.

Commercials including a trailer for Big Trouble in Little China.

Match 3: Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka versus Jay York


  • York may have better known as the Alaskan and was 47 years old at the time.
  • When York hooked an extended cobra clutch, the Oakland faithful got restless. Perhaps they were wondering, much like I was, where in the blue heel Sergeant Slaughter was.
  • Snuka escaped and rang York’s bell.
  • As York applied a single-leg crab, they got too close to the ropes.
  • York hooked a cross arm breaker, but Snuka countered with a head lock.
  • After Snuka rebounded with a dropkick, York reversed a cross corner whip.
  • Snuka mounted the top turnbuckle and launched a cross body block.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Snuka won at 8:53.

Rating: *

Summary: Despite the resemblance of workrate, York’s style didn’t translate well in the 80s; nonetheless, Snuka’s high-flying saved this match from the garbage heap.

In the ring, Nelson mistakenly refers to Snuka’s homeland as Samoa, yet Snuka touts his tag team partner Greg Gagne. Also, he wants a shot at Hansen.

At ringside, Nelson interviews Bockwinkel who doesn’t hide the fact that he’s older than most wrestlers. Nevertheless, he’s ready to encounter Nord the Barbarian.

Match 4: Nick Bockwinkel versus Nord the Barbarian (w/ Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie & Boris Zhukov)


  • Barbarian gave Bockwinkel a cross corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • As Bockwinkel rammed Barbarian’s arm into the ring post three times, Barbarian slammed him.
  • Bockwinkel worked on Barbarian’s knee, attempted a figure-four leg lock, but Barbarian blocked it.
  • When Greg promoted the upcoming Bockwinkel/Hansen match on tomorrow night’s card, Bockwinkel reversed a cross corner whip and backdropped Barbarian.
  • Bockwinkel dropkicked Barbarian over the top rope and down to the wooden floor.
  • After Barbarian returned, Bockwinkel applied a sleeper.
  • Barbarian made the ropes to escape, so Bockwinkel annihilated Al-Kaissie on the apron.
  • With Bockwinkel distracted with Al-Kaissie, Barbarian uncorked a big boot.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Barbarian defeated Bockwinkel at 12:19.

Rating: **

Summary: Bockwinkel used a lot of psychology to keep Barbarian at bay, but shenanigans by the Sheik allowed Barbarian to steal a huge victory.

At ringside, Nelson interviews some local musicians.

IN THIS CORNER: Nelson and Zbyszko interview Greg Gagne who argues with Zbyszko about who’s the better wrestler. We then revisit the 12/03/85 episode when Zbyszko went 5150 on Greg to the glorious tunes of Van Halen’s “Jump.” We return to ringside, and Zbyszko defends having Ninja Go at his side. After all, it pays to have a golfing buddy.

Match 5 for the AWA World title: Stan “The Lariat” Hansen (champion) versus Jerry Blackwell


  • Hansen attacked him before the bell, but Blackwell responded with a head butt.
  • When Blackwell sent him to the apron, he made Hansen HIT THE POLE.
  • Another head butt sent a BUSTED OPEN Hansen down to the wooden floor, but he gnawed on Blackwell’s head to retaliate. Has he been taking lessons from Road Warrior Hawk?
  • As Hansen finally removed his vest, he whipped Blackwell into the corner but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • Blackwell gave Hansen a cross corner whip yet ate boot on his follow-through.
  • Astonishingly, Hansen attempted a slam, but Blackwell fell on top of him.
  • Do we have a new champion?
  • 1-2-NO!
  • Blackwell applied a bear hug, but Hansen made the ropes to escape.
  • After Blackwell reapplied the hold, Hansen raked the eyes.
  • Blackwell applied it a third time and tried to sandwich Hansen in the corner.
  • In the process, they SQUISHED referee Rich Frisk.
  • Blackwell headbutted Hansen and followed with a splash.
  • With Frisk still down on the mat, Blackwell earned a false pin.
  • Hansen removed his boot as Blackwell checked on Frisk.
  • While Hansen repeatedly bludgeoned him with the boot, Blackwell was BUSTED OPEN too.
  • Hansen obliterated Frisk, so Gary DeRusha jumped into the ring to stop Hansen from committing felonious assault.
  • When Hansen manhandled DeRusha, Blackwell grabbed Hansen’s boot and returned fire.
  • Frisk finally rose to his feet and called for the bell.
  • As a result, Blackwell won by DQ, although Hansen retained at 8:48.

Rating: **

Summary: A bloody brawl that resembled two men fighting over either women or money.

In the ring, Nelson interviews Hansen who challenges Bockwinkel for tomorrow night.

AWA tour plug #2 airs.

At ringside, Nelson interviews Jim Gabbert from San Francisco’s KEMO-TV while some knuckleheads hold up a large BEER sign. Who’s thirsty?

Match 6: AWA World tag team champions “Playboy” Buddy Rose & “Pretty Boy” Doug Somers & Alexis Smirnoff (w/ Sherri Martel) versus Curt Hennig & the Midnight Rockers


  • For those unaware, the babyfaces’ entrance was “Living After Midnight” by Judas Priest.
  • A criss-cross started the match, and Hennig backdropped Rose.
  • As Hennig dropkicked Rose out of the ring, the babyfaces electrified the Oakland faithful.
  • Rose rebounded by slamming Hennig twice, yet the Oakland faithful chastised him with a “doughboy” chant.
  • When Hennig blocked a third slam attempt, he dealt Rose some of his own medicine.
  • Somers illegally entered the ring and earned the same punishment.
  • After Hennig fed Smirnoff the same cocktail of violence, the heels retreated to the wooden floor.
  • Tags were exchanged on both sides, and Michaels gave Smirnoff a cross corner whip but ate boot on his follow-through.
  • While he slammed Michaels, Smirnoff missed a leg drop.
  • Somers tagged in, but Michaels backdropped him for 2.
  • As Michaels fed him an atomic drop, Somers ate a forearm smash from Jannetty in the babyface corner.
  • Tags were exchanged on both sides again, and Jannetty leapfrogged both tag team champions.
  • When Jannetty hooked a double sunset flip, he got 2.
  • Smirnoff tagged in and suplexed Jannetty.
  • After Smirnoff delivered a diving head butt, Somers tagged in and hit a knee drop to Jannetty.
  • Rose tagged in, but Jannetty secured another sunset flip for 2.
  • While Michaels tagged in, he leapfrogged Rose twice and scored with a superkick for 2.
  • Hennig tagged in, mounted the second turnbuckle, and lowered the boom on Rose.
  • As he unloaded an elbow drop, Hennig got another 2.
  • Michaels tagged in, and the Midnight Rockers rewarded Rose with a kick to the (ample) midsection followed by a knee lift but couldn’t get 3.
  • When Michaels missed a leg drop, tags were exchanged on both sides yet again.
  • Smirnoff booted Hennig down and got 2.
  • After he slammed Hennig, Smirnoff mounted the top turnbuckle.
  • Hennig caught and slammed him down to the mat.
  • While Hennig attempted a splash, he ate knees.
  • Somers tagged in and planted Hennig with a gutbuster for another 2.
  • As Rose tagged in, he placed Hennig atop the top turnbuckle, joined, and attempted a superplex.
  • Hennig blocked it and sent Rose down to the mat.
  • When Hennig mounted the top turnbuckle, Rose crotched him on the top rope. Poor Leonice!
  • Somers tagged in and distracted referee Gary DeRusha.
  • Meanwhile, the heels double-teamed Hennig in their corner. SNEAKY!
  • Smirnoff tagged in and levelled Hennig’s face with a jump kick.
  • After Hennig escaped a slam, he hooked an O’Connor roll.
  • Unbeknownst to Hennig, Somers tagged in and broke it up.
  • Somers unleashed a second gutbuster to Hennig but couldn’t get the pin.
  • While Smirnoff tagged in, Hennig rebounded with an abdominal stretch.
  • However, he’s too close to the heel corner, so Rose hammered him.
  • Rose tagged in and placed a pair of knees to Hennig’s midsection. Hopefully, Hennig didn’t have tacos this evening.
  • Regardless, Somers tagged in, but Hennig brought together a meeting of the minds between the tag champs.
  • Hot tag Jannetty.
  • As he powerslammed Somers, Jannetty got 2.
  • All six wrestlers were in the ring, and the babyfaces rammed the heels together mid-ring.
  • When Hennig mounted the second turnbuckle, he blasted Somers with a missile dropkick.
  • The Midnight Rockers executed a vaulted splash atop Somers, and Michaels pinned him at 11:40.
  • Whew!

Rating: ****

Summary: Exhilarating and intoxicating tag match where each wrestler played his part to perfection. Bravo, gentlemen!

After the match, Hennig and Jannetty whip Smirnoff into a Michaels dropkick, and the babyfaces celebrate their victory. During the replay of the pinfall, Michaels presents the Oakland faithful some more excitement with a plancha atop Rose.

In the ring, Nelson interviews Hennig and the Midnight Rockers. While Michaels holds up a sign jeering Rose, Hennig displays a fierce attitude and Jannetty’s ready to win the tag titles tomorrow night. Michaels struggles but gets his point across to finish the interview.

Before the show ends, Nelson introduces Frank Biner and the Soul Patrol. The Midnight Rockers join them onstage to jam.

In other matches: Colonel DeBeers defeated Brad Rheingans while Zbyszko and LeDoux battled to a no contest.

Conclusion:  AWA’s attempt at a live show did not disappoint. The main event showed the up-and-coming youth of the promotion, and matches such as the men’s and women’s World title bouts offered a little bit of everything.

BREAKING NEWS: Remember that show in Denver? Nick Bockwinkel was awarded the AWA World title because Stan Hansen refused to relinquish the belt. In fact, when he ultimately returned the belt to Verne, the long-standing rumor of his running over the belt with his pickup truck was subtly confirmed in a shoot interview. While Hansen appreciated being champion, he stated that the AWA didn’t promote him well with solid opponents to draw money. Therefore, you just witnessed the last AWA match for Hansen. Ultimately, he’d end up in WCW who wasn’t stupid enough to put their World title on him.

TV Rating: NONE

Stay tuned for AWA 07-15-86!

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!