Rock Star Gary reflects on AWA on ESPN 02-13-1988

AWA Championship Wrestling 02-13-88

Taped from Minot, ND

Airdate: February 13, 1986 (taped 02/06)

Attendance: unknown

Hosted by Larry Nelson, Ron Trongard, & Ray “The Crippler” Stevens

Can Greg overcome Adonis to retain the TV title? How will West fare against the evil Russian Ustinov? What’s on Hennig’s mind this week? Let’s travel onward to see how far the AWA will go.

Opening montage.

Match 1: Nasty Boys versus Ricky Rice & Tom Johnson

Highlights:

  • In case you’re curious, Johnson was related to neither Ahmed nor Duane Johnson.
  • Nasty Boys tossed Johnson down to the floor and sent Rice out there as well. If they had sent lefse instead of Rice, the Minot faithful would’ve forgone the concession stand.
  • When Knobbs clotheslined him, he fed Johnson a back elbow.
  • Sags tagged in and dealt Johnson a leg drop, brother.
  • As Sags blocked an attempted inside cradle, he guillotined Johnson with the top rope.
  • Sags tossed Johnson down to the floor again and distracted referee Marty Miller.
  • After Knobbs gave Johnson the business, Sags guillotined him with the top rope again.
  • Sags distracted Miller again, so Knobbs rammed Johnson face-first into the apron. SNEAKY!
  • While Johnson re-entered the ring via sunset flip (on a second try), he got 2.
  • Knobbs tagged in and slammed Johnson.
  • When Sags tagged in, he missed an elbow drop.
  • Rice tagged in and dropkicked Sags.
  • As he dropkicked Knobbs off the apron, Rice hit dropkick #3 to Sags.
  • Speaking of Sags, he reversed an Irish whip, missed a clothesline, and countered a cross body block with a backbreaker.
  • After Knobbs tagged in, he slammed Rice. Lovers of the San Francisco treat will not be thrilled.
  • Sags tagged in and delivered an elbow drop.
  • While Sags slammed Rice, Knobbs tagged in, mounted the second turnbuckle, and scored with a flying clothesline to Rice aided by a cross corner whip from Sags.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Nasty Boys won at 5:09.

Rating: **

Summary: Showcase match for the Nasty Boys. This Rice kid may have something, but the Nasty Boys were all offense at this juncture.

Your mileage may vary.

Nelson runs down the upcoming AWA cards:

  1. 02/13 in Brainerd, MN (no results available)
  2. 02/19 in Las Vegas, NV (ESPN TV taping)
  3. 02/20 in Rhinelander, WI (Mr. Saito hid under a mask as the Pirate)
  4. 02/21 in Ladysmith, WI (Greg/Wahoo versus Orton/Pirate)

Next, he interviews Hennig, dressed in turquoise and ski goggles. Either he just came in from a Minneapolis blizzard, wanted to pattern himself after “Macho Man” Randy Savage, or just completed a bender at Slippery’s Tavern. Knowing him, it’s probably a combination of all three. Regardless, he touts himself as the best before Nelson cuts him off.

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

Highlights:

  • Hennig hooked a rollup on Olson for 2.
  • As he dealt with some heel shenanigans by Olson, Hennig planted him with a standing dropkick.
  • He fed Olson an Axe and finished him with a Hennigplex at 2:02.

Rating: DUD

Summary: Showcase match for the World champion.

Nelson interviews Verne who discusses Olympic hockey. For those curious, the US men’s hockey team had a 2-3 record. They defeated Austria and Norway; however, they lost to Czechoslovakia, the USSR, and West Germany. And we wonder why none of those exist in its current form today. Nevertheless, Verne mentions Jill Trenary, his “next-door neighbor,” who finished 4th in women’s figure skating.

Match 3: Soldat Ustinov (w/ Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie) versus Adam Alan West

Highlights:

  • Wait a minute! Batman’s cousin had to defend the USA against this guy?
  • For those curious, Donna Gagne joined the broadcast table for this match. Why is Fleetwood Mac now playing in my head?
  • The rabid Minot faithful chided Ustinov with a ‘U-S-A” chant, and West won a test-of-strength much to its delight.
  • When West hip-tossed him, Ustinov sought refuge on the floor with Al-Kaissie.
  • West scooted between Ustinov’s legs and dropkicked him.
  • As Al-Kaissie distracted West, Ustinov took control and hip-tossed West for 2.
  • He clotheslined West and milked another “U-S-A” chant out of the Minot faithful during a chin lock.
  • After West rebounded with a dropkick, he delivered a back elbow.
  • With two minutes remaining, Ustinov tossed West down to the floor.
  • Ustinov distracted referee Marty Miller, so Al-Kaissie rammed West face-first into the apron. How dastardly!
  • While West returned and scored with a cross body block, he got 2.
  • One minute left, and West hooked an inside cradle for another 2.
  • When Ustinov slammed him, he dropped a leg for 2, brother.
  • A double clothesline took both wrestlers down to the mat with mere seconds remaining.
  • As West connected with a belly-to-belly suplex, he only got 2.
  • The bell rang, and Miller ruled the bout a time-limit draw at 8:56.

Rating: ***

Summary: Patriotism told the story here, yet West couldn’t achieve glory to bring American pride to the Minot faithful. West would have only one more match in the AWA where he would face Hennig for the World title on February 27 in Minot, ND but fail to capture the strap.

Nelson touts the upcoming TV taping in Vegas on 2/19 while the AWA threatens to tour both the east and west coasts. Upon checking the 1988 AWA calendar, the tour bounced between Memphis, Portland, and the Midwest. Those in mentioned cities Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Charlotte would have to stick with either the WWF or Jim Crockett Promotions for their live wrestling entertainment.

Afterward, Nelson interviews Tom Zenk who has returned to the AWA after a three-year hiatus. He cuts a promo on Hennig before Baron Von Raschke invades our TV screens to run down Ustinov.

Match 4 for the AWA International TV title: Greg Gagne (champion) versus Adrian Adonis (w/ “Cowboy” Bob Orton)

Highlights:

  • Joined in progress, Greg hip-tossed Adonis twice and slammed him.
  • Greg escaped a slam attempt and slammed Adonis twice more.
  • As the match segued to the floor, Greg reversed an Irish whip causing a meeting of the minds between Adonis and Orton.
  • Greg reversed a corner whip and backdropped Adonis.
  • When Greg wrapped him in an abdominal stretch, Adonis raked the eyes to escape.
  • He countered a leg bar by ramming Greg face-first into the mat.
  • After he gave Greg a cross corner whip, Adonis followed with an avalanche for 2. I mean Adonis truly SQUISHED him.
  • Adonis raked his fingernails across Greg’s back but told Greg that he only wanted to be friends.
  • Seriously, he fed Greg a running guillotine to knock more air out of him.
  • He splashed Greg but only got 2.
  • While Adonis missed a second splash, Greg attempted slam #4.
  • On the other hand, Adonis collapsed atop him.
  • Do we have a new champion?
  • 1-2-NO!
  • Adonis trapped him in a sleeper, but Greg used momentum to send him face-first into the top turnbuckle.
  • As Greg reversed a cross corner whip, an Adonis flip occurred.
  • Greg gave Adonis a cross corner whip and backdropped him again.
  • When he dropkicked Adonis, Greg hooked his own sleeper.
  • To counter, Adonis used momentum to send Greg between the ropes to the floor.
  • Adonis distracted referee Marty Miller, so Orton took liberties with Greg on the floor. Nefarious!
  • After Adonis joined him, Greg made him HIT THE POLE.
  • Miller called for the bell and disqualified Greg at 12:50 (10:56 shown).

Rating: **

Summary: Hold on a minute! The babyface used chicanery to keep his title.

After the match, Orton steals the TV title belt much to the chagrin of the Minot faithful.

Next week, Hennig defends the World title against “Mr. Magnificent” Kevin Kelly.

Conclusion:  In a fascinating twist, the babyface champion shoehorned himself into getting disqualified to save his belt. Greg can claim innocence all he wants, but we all know the real truth. Also, this is the second instance where I’ve seen Orton in Minot—the other being for UWF Rampage ’93.

West failed to blow the roof off the arena by defeating Ustinov, but I’m betting Von Raschke did OK for himself on house shows against him. Nonetheless, Hennig showed off in a quick match, and the Nasty Boys gobbled up their showcase match much like the Fleischkuechle at Kroll’s Diner. As far as recommendations go…

Pass unless you need more Hennig in your diet.

TV Rating: NONE

Stay tuned for AWA 02-20-88!

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 and Herb Abrams’ UWF!