Rock Star Gary reflects on AWA New Year’s Eve 1987

Taped from Las Vegas, NV

Airdate: December 31, 1987

Attendance: unknown

Hosted by Larry Nelson, Ron Trongard, & Verne Gagne

Who will win the vacant TV title? Can the Midnight Rockers defeat Kelly and Kiniski? The champ is here plus a BONUS match. If you’re craving excitement, look no further! Dive in!

Match 1: Beach Patrol versus Tom “Rocky” Stone & Pete Sanchez

Highlights:

  • For those unaware, Beach Patrol was comprised of “Jammin’” Mitch Snow and Adam West.
  • Snow slammed Sanchez for 2.
  • When heel miscommunication made the enhancement talent look foolish and the Vegas faithful laugh, Beach Patrol double-dropkicked them.
  • West tagged in, and Beach Patrol uncorked a drop toehold/leg drop combo upon Stone.
  • As West slammed him, he dealt Stone an elbow drop for 2.
  • Sanchez tagged in, got reversed on a cross corner whip, and ate a back elbow from West.
  • After Snow tagged in, he missed a dropkick.
  • Sanchez fed Snow a back elbow and whipped him into a Stone back elbow.
  • While tags were exchanged on both sides, West delivered a gorgeous belly-to-belly suplex to Stone yet picked him up at 2.
  • Snow tagged in, mounted the top turnbuckle, and hooked a sunset flip.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Beach Patrol won at 4:52.

Rating: *

Summary: Showcase match for Beach Patrol.

Match 2 (non-title): AWA World champion “Cool” Curt Hennig versus David Price

Highlights:

  • Upset about the feud between the Gagne and Hennig families, Verne excused himself from the broadcast table. Mick Karch substituted for him on color commentary.
  • Hennig dealt Price a knee lift much to the dismay of the Vegas faithful.
  • As he fed Price a snap suplex, Hennig got 2.
  • Price reversed a cross corner whip and clotheslined Hennig.
  • When Price gave Hennig another cross corner whip, he ate an Axe.
  • Hennig delivered a short-arm clothesline followed by a Hennigplex.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Hennig won at 3:35.

Rating: ½*

Summary: Showcase match for the World champ. Could be the earliest rendition of the fisherman’s suplex implemented by Hennig. Allegedly, Race used it previously, but I’ve not seen him perform it.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve, Nelson interviews the Midnight Rockers at Slippery’s Bar & Grill Jukebox Saturday Night. Michaels cuts a promo on the Original Midnight Express while Jannetty claims that someone stole his wallet. HA!

Following a commercial break, Nelson interviews “Jammin’” Mitch Snow who’s seeking the TV title in ’88.

Match 3 for the vacant AWA TV title: “Adorable” Adrian Adonis (w/ Paul E. Dangerously) versus Greg Gagne

Highlights:

  • When the Vegas faithful chanted “Paul E. sucks,” Karch mentioned the infamous ten-minute time-limit.
  • Adonis gave Greg a cross corner whip resulting in a sternum-first bump.
  • As Adonis reversed a cross corner whip, he locked on “Good Night, Irene.”
  • Greg escaped by using momentum to send Adonis face-first into the top turnbuckle.
  • After he escaped a guillotine, Greg applied his own sleeper.
  • Dangerously got up on the apron to toss powder, but Greg nailed him before he could do so.
  • While Greg reapplied the sleeper, “Cowboy” Bob Orton jumped into the ring to nail him.
  • Referee Marty Miller called for the bell to disqualify Adonis at 5:50.
  • As a result, Greg Gagne became the TV champion.

Rating: *

Summary: If anything, this match had storytelling with a touch of psychology. To say Greg’s sleeper didn’t match the efficacy of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s sleeper from WrestleMania III earlier in the year would be an understatement. And just who wins a title via disqualification?

After the match, Orton feeds Greg a back elbow, and he and Adonis join on a double-team. Before Orton could piledrive Greg, Wahoo McDaniel storms the ring to even the odds. The babyfaces clear the ring to the delight of the Vegas faithful.

In the ring, Karch interviews Greg who offers title shots to both Orton and Adonis. In addition, if a tag match is scheduled, he’ll grab McDaniel as a partner to battle them.

Catch the AWA LIVE:

  1. Grafton, WI on 1/10 (Tom Zenk versus Kelly)
  2. Minot, ND on 1/15 (ESPN TV taping)
  3. Oshkosh, WI on 1/17 (Hennig versus Gagne)
  4. Tomah, WI on 1/23 (Hennig versus Kelly)
  5. Wausau, WI on 1/29

Match 4: Midnight Rockers versus “Slick” Nick Kiniski & “Mr. Magnificent” Kevin Kelly (w/ Madusa Miceli)

Highlights:

  • As the Midnight Rockers entered the ring, Kiniski and Kelly tried to ambush them.
  • Instead, the Midnight Rockers dealt them a double noggin knocker followed by a double dropkick.
  • In case you’re curious, Ray “The Crippler” Stevens joined Trongard to perform color commentary for this match. As long as Jannetty stays awake, the Midnight Rockers should be fine.
  • Kiniski gave Michaels a cross corner whip, but Jannetty softened the blow in the corner.
  • When Michaels reversed a cross corner whip, Kelly tried to soften the blow for his partner but got punted.
  • Trongard spoiled my surprise at the end of the reflection, but I won’t.
  • After Kelly distracted referee Bob Warren, the Midnight Rockers illegally switched. SNEAKY!
  • Jannetty took Kiniski down on a series of turnbuckle side head lock takeovers, Kelly distracted Warren again, and the Rockers illegally switched again. Clever!
  • While the Midnight Rockers fed Kiniski a drop toehold/elbow drop combo, Michaels got 2.
  • Kelly tagged in, showed off that he never worked out on leg day, and placed a knee into Michaels’ midsection.
  • As he delivered a military press slam, Kelly sent Michaels down to the concrete floor.
  • Kelly distracted Warren again so that Kiniski could slam Michaels on the concrete. Wicked!
  • When Kiniski brawled with him at ringside, he tossed Michaels back into the ring.
  • Michaels attempted a cross body block, but Kelly caught and crushed him with a backbreaker.
  • After Kiniski tagged in, he hit a sidewalk slam for 2.
  • He dismantled Michaels with a pair of backbreakers for another 2.
  • While Kiniski applied a bear hug, Michaels hip-tossed him to escape.
  • Kelly tagged in and prevented the hot tag.
  • As Kelly secured his own bear hug, he leaned Michaels’ shoulders down for 2.
  • The female contingent of the Vegas faithful screamed out for him, and Michaels pounded away on Kelly to escape.
  • Hot tag Jannetty.
  • When Jannetty bounced a back elbow off Kiniski, he gave the bleach-blond heels a double noggin knocker.
  • The Midnight Rockers ping-ponged the heels into one another with cross corner whips, and Jannetty dropkicked Kelly out of the ring.
  • After the Midnight Rockers double-dropkicked Kiniski, Michaels mounted the top turnbuckle and onto Jannetty’s shoulders.
  • Suddenly, Miceli got up on the apron and shoved Michaels down to the mat. How dastardly!
  • Warren saw the chicanery and called for the bell.
  • As a result, the Midnight Rockers won by DQ at 13:54.

Rating: ***

Summary: Incredibly solid match by the Midnight Rockers as they had their way with the heels at one point, got stuck in a funk thanks to the heels’ use of shenanigans and psychology, and triumphed—albeit not in the way they envisioned.

After the match, Jannetty chases after Miceli, and Kiniski pummels Michaels’ back into silly putty. Jannetty and Kelly brawl at ringside, yet Miceli holds Michaels for Kiniski. As Michaels ducks, Kiniski and Miceli careen down to the concrete floor. Jannetty tosses Kelly into the ring, and the Midnight Rockers score with a double superkick. While the Midnight Rockers celebrate victory, the Vegas faithful comes UNGLUED.

To close out the show, Nelson sits inside a dunk tank with Eric Bischoff standing alongside. Michaels tries to hit the plunger but misses. When Jannetty takes his turn, his attempt was JUST A BIT OUTSIDE. Methinks the New Year’s Eve festivities may have affected him a bit. Nevertheless, he ambushes the plunger and drowns Nelson in the tank. Coming up for air, Nelson wishes us all a Happy New Year!

BONUS Match 5 for the vacant AWA Women’s title: Candi Devine versus Madusa Miceli (w/ “Slick” Nick Kiniski)

Highlights:

  • For those unaware, Sherri Martel left the AWA in July thus vacating the Women’s title.
  • Miceli ambushed her prior to the bell, but Devine reversed a cross corner whip and backdropped her.
  • When Devine slammed her, Miceli sought refuge at ringside with her protégé.
  • Miceli tried to slam her way out of an arm bar, but Devine maintained the hold.
  • As Devine escaped a headscissors with a somersault rollup, she got 2.
  • She backdropped Miceli again, slammed her, and got another 2.
  • After Miceli rebounded with a knee to the midsection, she suplexed Devine but couldn’t get 3.
  • She clotheslined Devine but missed a second attempt.
  • Instead, Devine scored with a cross body block for 2.
  • The match segued to the concrete floor where Miceli slammed Devine. OUCH!
  • While Devine returned to the ring, she face-planted Miceli using Miceli’s BIG HAIR. After all, it was 1987.
  • Devine dropkicked Miceli and followed with a monkey flip.
  • When Miceli retaliated by ringing her bell, Devine botched a slam almost injuring herself.
  • Do we have a new champion?
  • 1-2-NO!
  • Devine applied an abdominal stretch, but Kiniski jumped onto the apron to interfere.
  • As Devine slapped the taste from Kiniski’s mouth, Miceli caught her with an O’Connor roll, hooked the tights, and got the pin.
  • WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!

Rating: **

Summary: Miceli was greener than a California farm during the rainy season, yet Devine worked some magic to carry her through the match. Of course, heel shenanigans helped Miceli score the title, but that’s part of the deal, right?

After the match, referee Marty Miller tries to give Miceli the belt, but Devine spills her to the concrete. While Miceli and Kiniski celebrate, a frustrated Devine complains to Miller.

In the ring, Karch interviews Miceli with Kiniski. Miceli flaunts her championship victory, and Kiniski touts his valet’s success.

Conclusion:  Since not a single promoter would sanction Greg as World champion, a new title was created for him. Surprisingly, he only won it by disqualification. The Midnight Rockers showed that their skills had improved since their first AWA stint. Lastly, Miceli’s having the title gave her tag team some notoriety.

Happy New Year, RSG-ites!

TV Rating: NONE

Stay tuned for AWA on ESPN 1-24-88!

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