Rock Star Gary reflects on AWA 03-12-1988

Taped from Las Vegas, NV

Airdate: March 12, 1988 (taped 02/19)

Attendance: 2,000 (Yikes!)

Hosted by Larry Nelson, Ron Trongard, & Lee Marshall

Will Lawler defeat Hennig to become World champion? Can Greg retain the illustrious International TV title? How will this match contend with famous (infamous?) wrestling shows in the past?

Opening montage.

POINT OF CLARIFICATION: For the sake of accuracy, I use closed captioning during my reflections. Nevertheless, the WWE Network/Peacock makes me chuckle each time during Nelson’s spiel during the opening montage. Instead of interpreting the product as “mat action,” the closed captioning reads “man action.” THAT would be an entirely different show that some may enjoy, but I won’t be reviewing them.

We revisit the main event from last week when the Midnight Rockers defeated the Nasty Boys albeit controversially. Nelson threatens us with AWA President Stanley Blackburn but not yet.

Match 1: “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel versus Samoan Joe


  • Incredibly, Joe no-sold a chop from McDaniel like it was an insult.
  • McDaniel won a chopfest, gave Joe a cross corner whip, and chopped him down.
  • When another chopfest occurred, Joe caught McDaniel with a back elbow.
  • McDaniel rebounded with another chop to the chest followed by a chop to the head.
  • 1-2-3.
  • McDaniel won at 2:36.

Rating: DUD

Summary: Showcase match for McDaniel although Joe wanted to be a tough guy initially.

Match 2: Badd Company versus Bill Anderson & the Hurricane Kid


  • No, RSG-ites, Sean Waltman wasn’t hiding in the AWA back in ’88. The Hurricane Kid was a Samoan wrestler whose details I failed to locate. Fortunately for this Kid, he’s not the same Hurricane Kid who got decimated by an errant chair shot by Ruckus in CZW.
  • WARNING: This video is VIOLENT.
  • Tanaka tagged in and played “got your nose” with the Kid.
  • As Tanaka gave him an Irish whip, the Kid botched a rope spot quite grotesquely.
  • Tanaka tossed the Kid down to the concrete floor and distracted referee Gary DeRusha.
  • Meanwhile, Diamond rammed the Kid face-first into the apron. SNEAKY!
  • Tanaka returned the Kid into the ring the hard way and tagged in Diamond.
  • When Diamond clotheslined him, the Kid didn’t sell it properly.
  • Tanaka tagged in, but the Kid obliterated him with a head butt.
  • After the Kid missed a dropkick, Anderson tagged in and attempted a back drop.
  • Tanaka cartwheeled to avoid it and landed a savate kick.
  • While Diamond tagged in, Badd Company turned Anderson’s lights out with a catapult/DDT combo.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Badd Company won at 3:40.

Rating: -*

Summary: Who let this Kid wrestle on national TV? He’s so raw the oysters at Joe’s Crab Shack felt overcooked in their shells.

We revisit last week when Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie tried to disfigure Baron Von Raschke’s claw hand. Afterward, Nelson interviews Von Raschke who vows “the claw is back” and cuts a promo on Al-Kaissie.

Match 3 for the AWA International TV title: Greg Gagne (champion) versus Destroyer Samoan


  • Destroyer attacked him before the bell and dealt Greg a back elbow.
  • When Destroyer landed a diving head butt, he got 2.
  • The match segued to the concrete floor, and Destroyer rammed Greg face-first into the apron.
  • As he scooped Greg up, Destroyer sandwiched him against the ring post. OUCH!
  • Destroyer tossed him back into the ring and mounted the top turnbuckle.
  • After Greg caught him, he slammed Destroyer down to the mat.
  • Greg dropkicked Destroyer twice and applied a sleeper.
  • While referee Scott LeDoux raised Destroyer’s arm thrice, Greg retained at 3:13.

Rating: ½*

Summary: Showcase match for the TV champ. Are we done with these squash matches yet?

At ringside, Marshall interviews Hennig who’s wearing a Hard Rock Café t-shirt from Honolulu, HI. Hennig believes he would pound Greg into a pile of goo. Greg interrupts and challenges Hennig for the World title, a shoving match breaks out, but cooler heads prevail.

Match 4: “Cowboy” Bob Orton versus Kevin Collins


  • Let’s hope Kevin brought his brother Tom so we can have some cocktails.
  • For some odd reason, this match was joined in progress.
  • Orton dismantled Collins in the corner before ramming him face-first into the mat.
  • As he fed Collins a gutwrench slam, Orton delivered a swinging neckbreaker.
  • He hoisted Collins atop the top turnbuckle, joined, and dealt him a superplex.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Orton won at 2:50 shown.

Rating: ½*

Summary: Showcase match for Orton. Now they’re done, right?

After the match, Orton piledrives Collins behind referee Gary DeRusha’s back. How dastardly!

Nelson interviews Soldat Ustinov without Al-Kaissie. While Ustinov cuts a horrible promo on Von Raschke, he refers to his nemesis as a “coward.” Someone please teach this goof how to do promos.

Match 5 for the AWA World title: “Cool” Curt Hennig (champion) versus Jerry “The King” Lawler


  • Allegedly, prior to this match, Hennig received a call from Larry Zbyszko and learned the art of stalling.
  • After six whole minutes of limited interaction, they traded shots until Lawler BLASTED Hennig over the top rope down to the concrete floor.
  • Hennig threatened to leave yet beat the count. Had he not beaten the count, Hennig would have lost the title.
  • When Lawler reversed a cross corner whip, he BELTED Hennig.
  • He mounted the second turnbuckle and launched a fist drop.
  • Do we have a new champion?
  • 1-2-NO!
  • As Lawler jabbed at him, Hennig kicked a FIELD GOAL.
  • Fortunately for Lawler, referee Scott LeDoux did not disqualify Hennig. Unfortunately for us, the match continued.
  • Hennig CLOCKED Lawler sending him over the top rope down to the concrete floor.
  • While Hennig joined him, he rammed Lawler face-first into the apron.
  • Lawler dropped the strap so you knew he meant business.
  • After Lawler scored with another fist drop, he knocked Hennig silly and out of the ring again.
  • Lawler joined Hennig and tried to ram him into the ring post.
  • However, Hennig thwarted and made Lawler HIT THE POLE instead.
  • LeDoux called for the bell ruling the bout a double DQ at 12:45.

Rating: *½

Summary: Despite the enthusiasm of the Vegas faithful, this was a convoluted mess that no one would dare to clean up. Methinks Lawler and Hennig saw how few patrons were in the stands and dogged the s--- out of this match.

After the match, Hennig tries to wallop Lawler but HITS THE POLE instead. He’ll need more than Excedrin for that one, Monsoon. As Lawler rams Hennig’s injured hand against the ring post again, Hennig retreats to the locker room while Lawler stands tall.

Before the show ends, Nelson interviews McDaniel who wants a shot at Hennig. Nelson believes that Lawler will get a rematch. We can only hope it’s better than what we just witnessed.

Next week, the little people invade the AWA.

Conclusion:  Please forgive me for a moment.

OK, I feel better now.

What a shitshow! Was this a TV taping or an exercise in futility? I’d lean toward the latter in this episode’s case. It was absolute DRECK. From untrained wrestlers to doofuses who want to stand up to McDaniel to main events that stink up the whole city of Las Vegas, this was the drizzling shits. Herb Abrams must have studied this episode when he compiled the Fury Hour episode preceding Summerslam ’91. It was THAT bad. Do not walk away from this episode.

You have been warned.

TV Rating: NONE

Stay tuned for AWA 03-19-88!

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