Rock Star Gary reflects on AWA on ESPN 10-12-1986

Taped from Las Vegas, NV

Airdate: October 12, 1986

Attendance: unknown

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

Can Hennig shut Zbyszko up or will King Spudhead prevail? And how does Zbyszko fair up against a Wisconsin attorney? Also, the Midnight Rockers are here, so gather your friends together for this one.

Opening montage.

Match 1: “Big” Scott Hall versus Tom “Rocky” Stone


  • Stone cheated like a mofo until Hall backdropped him.
  • When he slammed Stone, Hall bulldogged him.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Hall won in 4:30.

Rating: *

Summary: Showcase match for Hall whom the Vegas faithful fawned over.

After the match, Nelson interviews Hall who’s ready to demolish his foes in battle royals across the country.

Match 2: George Gordienko & Alexis Smirnoff versus Mike Richards & Frankie DeFalco


  • Oh, c’mon, Verne! Gordienko was 58 years old when this match occurred. Verne must’ve owed him money.
  • Richards gave Smirnoff a cross corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • As Smirnoff backdropped him, Gordienko tagged in and dealt Richards an elbow drop.
  • Tags were exchanged on both sides, and Smirnoff slammed DeFalco.
  • When Smirnoff landed a leg drop, Gordienko tagged in and scored with his own leg drop, brother.
  • Tags were exchanged on both sides again, and the Vegas faithful chanted “U-S-A.”
  • After Gordienko tagged in, he mounted the top turnbuckle and dropped a flying stomp to Richards.
  • Smirnoff tagged in as the Soviets drew closer to ripping Richards’ left arm off.
  • While Gordienko tagged in, he delivered another flying stomp.
  • Gordienko applied a hammerlock, and Richards submitted.
  • As a result, the Soviets won at 6:09.

Rating: **

Summary: Showcase match for the Soviets. I understand using “Soviet” wrestlers to rile up the crowd, but these guys were no spring chickens in 1986. Instead, they’re Canadian, but their goose was cooked.

Match 3: The Midnight Rockers versus Dennis Stamp & Tony Leone


  • Stamp fed Michaels a knee drop for 2.
  • When he slammed Michaels, Stamp missed an elbow drop. It must have been postage due.
  • Jannetty tagged in, and the Midnight Rockers double-suplexed Stamp and followed with stereo elbow drops.
  • As tags were exchanged on both sides, Michaels launched a spectacular dropkick to Leone. He got some HEIGHT on that one.
  • Stamp tagged in and gave Michaels a HARD cross corner whip.
  • After Leone tagged in, he mounted the second turnbuckle and lowered the boom onto Michaels.
  • Speaking of Michaels, he received an Irish whip but unloaded a vicious knee lift to Leone.
  • Jannetty tagged in and delivered a flying elbow to Leone.
  • While he slammed Leone, Jannetty got 1.
  • Stamp distracted referee Robert Warren, so Michaels came in and clobbered him.
  • When the Midnight Rockers uncorked a double superkick, Michaels suplexed Jannetty atop Leone.
  • 1-2-3.
  • The Midnight Rockers won at 4:32.

Rating: **½

Summary: Showcase match for the Rockers who blew the roof off the Showboat thanks to the extremely vocal Vegas faithful.

In the ring, Nelson interviews the Midnight Rockers. Jannetty wants a crack, er, shot at Rose and Somers, and Michaels believes they’re the best and wants Rose and Somers’ “ass(es).” Oops, can’t say that on ESPN, Michaels.

IN THIS CORNER: From Stevens Point, WI, Larry Zbyszko consults attorney Jim Lonsdorf from Wausau, WI about the AWA’s handing Bockwinkel the World title. Lonsdorf believes that Zbyszko isn’t ranked high enough to earn a title shot. I’m surprised he doesn’t represent Rittenhouse since he knows how to deal with people shooting things off.

Match 4: Larry Zbyszko (w/ Mr. Go) versus Curt Hennig


  • If Zbyszko’s trying to earn a World title shot, defeating Hennig would be paramount.
  • As the Vegas faithful chanted “Larry sucks,” their nemesis stalled like a ’72 Pinto.
  • Over three minutes later, he and Hennig locked up. Meanwhile, my breakfast was ready.
  • Five minutes in, and Zbyszko continued to stall much to Hennig’s chagrin.
  • When Zbyszko exchanged chili recipes with referee Gary DeRusha, Hennig nailed Go on the apron.
  • Hennig slammed him, gave Zbyszko a cross corner whip, and followed with a back drop.
  • After he rang Zbyszko’s bell, Hennig hip-tossed him.
  • To counter a side head lock, Zbyszko dealt Hennig a belly-to-back suplex.
  • Hennig dropkicked him out of the ring, but Zbyszko yanked him out with him.
  • While they brawled at ringside, DeRusha counted both wrestlers out at 11:17.

Rating: **

Summary: Per Zbyszko’s contract, it took FOREVER for this match to get going, but Hennig’s energy fired up the Vegas faithful. The disdain for Zbyszko by the Vegas faithful was ALIVE.

Nelson interviews Hennig who implies that he wants a lumberjack match against Zbyszko. Also, he’s ready to win the battle royals to become the #1 contender for the World title.

Conclusion:  While the heat for the main event was off the charts, the result leaves much to be desired. In the meantime, the Rockers looked sharper this week. Hall looked like the favorite to win an upcoming battle royal, but those “Soviets” need to be exchanged for younger models.

TV Rating: NONE

Stay tuned for Nick Bockwinkel versus Curt Hennig!

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!