Rock Star Gary reflects on AWA on ESPN 07-15-1986

Taped from Las Vegas, NV

Airdate: July 15, 1986 (taped 07/05)

Attendance: unknown

Hosted by Larry Nelson, Rod Trongard, Lord James Blears, & Nick Bockwinkel

Can Zhukov upset Bockwinkel to become World champion? What do Snuka, DeBeers, and the tag champions have to say these days? Prepare yourself for a wild ride!

Opening montage.

Match 1 for the AWA World tag team titles: “Playboy” Buddy Rose & “Pretty Boy” Doug Somers (w/ Sherri Martel) versus Jake “the Milk Man” Milliman & Chad Bardeux


  • For those unaware, this match did NOT occur in Las Vegas, but the site couldn’t be determined. It may have been Hammond, IN after Rose and Somers stole the tag titles from Hennig and Hall.
  • Rose stalled thanks to Milliman’s efforts to start a “dough-boy” chant and referee Scott LeDoux’s stepping in to thwart an alleged left hand from Rose.
  • When Rose applied a full nelson, Milliman escaped much to the disgust of Rose.
  • Tags were exchanged on both sides, and Somers slammed Bardeux.
  • As Rose tagged in, he mounted the second turnbuckle, and the champs dealt Bardeux their version of a Hart Attack.
  • Somers tagged in and suplexed Bardeux.
  • After Rose tagged in, he PLANTED Bardeux with a DDT. Unfortunately, Bockwinkel must have never seen a DDT before, so he referred to it as a “piledriver.”
  • 1-2-3.
  • Rose and Somers won at 5:20.

Rating: ½*

Summary: Showcase match for the tag team champions.

In the ring, Nelson interviews the champs and Sherri. Rose cuts a promo on the Midnight Rockers as well as the former champs Curt Hennig and Scott Hall. Next, he claims there’s no conspiracy between them and Colonel DeBeers.

Now, we head to Vegas. Cue the showgirls!

Match 2: Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka versus Dennis Stamp


  • Snuka leapfrogged Stamp twice before chopping him down to the mat.
  • As he fed Stamp a backbreaker, Snuka mounted the top turnbuckle and uncorked a Superfly splash.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Snuka won at 4:29.

Rating: ½*

Summary: Showcase match for Snuka who refused to mail it in against Stamp.

In the ring, Nelson interviews Snuka who’s ready to team with Greg against the tag champions. Also, he passive-aggressively referred to DeBeers as either a sergeant or lieutenant. He’d better be careful.

Match 3: Colonel DeBeers versus Jesse Hernandez


  • For those unaware, Hernandez signed on as a referee in 1990 for Herb Abrams’ UWF during the Reseda tapings.
  • The special guest referee for this match was Earthquake Ferris.
  • When DeBeers dealt Hernandez a backbreaker, the Vegas faithful showered him with a “U-S-A” chant.
  • DeBeers booted him to the floor and rammed Hernandez face-first into the apron.
  • As Hernandez rebounded with a knee to DeBeers’ back, he charged but ate a knee to the midsection.
  • DeBeers piledrove and pinned Hernandez at 4:08.

Rating: DUD

Summary: Showcase match for DeBeers. Thankfully, we don’t get a disgusted Nelson trying to interview a delusional DeBeers afterward.

Match 4 for the AWA World title: Nick Bockwinkel (champion) versus Boris Zhukov (w/ Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie)


  • Zhukov applied a full nelson, but the Vegas faithful chided him with a “U-S-A” chant.
  • As Bockwinkel escaped, he mule-kicked Zhukov and held a series of side head locks.
  • Bockwinkel reversed a cross corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through injuring his left shoulder.
  • When he rammed Bockwinkel’s arm and shoulder into the ring post three times, Zhukov head-butted the shoulder.
  • He fed Bockwinkel an Anderson slam and rammed the shoulder into the top turnbuckle twice.
  • After Bockwinkel rebounded with a cross corner whip, he backdropped Zhukov.
  • Referee Gary Derusha reprimanded Bockwinkel enabling Zhukov to mount the bottom rope and launch a flying head butt. High-flying Soviets?
  • While he put his feet on the ropes, Zhukov rolled up Bockwinkel.
  • Do we have a new champion?
  • 1-2-NO!
  • Derusha noticed Zhukov’s chicanery prior to counting the pin; nevertheless, Zhukov celebrated like he won the title.
  • As Al-Kaissie stepped into the ring, Bockwinkel dropkicked Zhukov from behind and hooked a rollup.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Bockwinkel retained at 13:45.

Rating: **½

Summary: This match was held during the weekend of America’s 210th birthday in the midst of the Cold War. Do you truly believe a Soviet would steal the title at this juncture? Nonetheless, with the psychology by both Bockwinkel and Zhukov, the patriotism surrounding it, and Bockwinkel’s keen timing kept the Vegas faithful enthralled.

In the ring, Nelson interviews a FURIOUS Al-Kaissie who disputes the result of the match. He challenges Bockwinkel for either Zhukov or Nord the Barbarian and wants to bring his own referee. Meanwhile, Zhukov demands a Russian chain match to end the show.

Conclusion:  Since Bockwinkel was handed the World title on a silver platter, the AWA had to make him look strong by pinning Zhukov. In the meantime, Snuka and DeBeers appeared to be on a collision course. The tag champs believed that the Midnight Rockers weren’t worthy challengers.

Hmmm…I might have already reflected upon one of their matches from early September that would determine their worthiness.

Regardless, hop aboard the AWA train as we head into the autumn of 1986. Get your tickets now!

TV Rating: NONE

Stay tuned for AWA 09-23-86!

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!