Rock Star Gary reflects on AWA on ESPN 03-19-1988

Taped from Las Vegas, NV

Airdate: March 19, 1988

Attendance: 2,000

Hosted by Larry Nelson, Ron Trongard, & Verne Gagne

What happens next in the Von Raschke-Al Kaissie feud? Does Ustinov have a say in the matter? Can Steve O become Steve Champion by beating his buddy, Greg? Will the little people outshine some of the riffraff in the undercard? Let’s sweep through this episode to find out!

Is that Uncle Herbie?

Opening montage.

We revisit the atrocity that was the main event from last week when Hennig and Lawler stunk up the Showboat Sports Pavilion. Let’s hope this week’s episode is an improvement.

Match 1: The Nasty Boys versus Greg Robertson & Kevin Collins

Highlights:

  • In case you’re curious, Donna joined the broadcast table for this match although no rumors were flying from her gums at the onset.
  • The Nasty Boys ambushed Collins and Robertson before the bell and dispensed them onto the concrete floor.
  • When Knobbs clotheslined Collins, he got 2.
  • Sags tagged in, and an abundance of empty seats could be seen.
  • As Sags slammed Collins, Knobbs tagged in, but Collins hooked a sunset flip for 2.
  • Sags tagged in and distracted referee Gary DeRusha so that Knobbs could give Collins the business. SNEAKY!
  • After Knobbs tagged in, he slammed Collins but missed an elbow drop.
  • Sags tagged in and clotheslined Collins for 2.
  • While tags were exchanged on both sides, Robertson gave Knobbs a cross corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • Knobbs powerslammed Robertson and tagged in Sags.
  • When Sags fed him a leg drop (brother), he pinned Robertson at 4:27.

Rating: DUD

Summary: Showcase match for the Nasty Boys who exhibit brute force but not much else at this point.

Nelson interviews Ricky Rice briefly before the Nasty Boys ruin Nelson’s evening. Knobbs continues to complain about the match against the Midnight Rockers to ZERO effect. Sorry, Knobbs, but we’re not kidnapping President Stanley Blackburn from his assisted-living facility to overturn it.

Match 2: Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie versus Tim “Spitball” Patterson

Highlights:

  • Verne joined the broadcast table for this match because his daughter was too bashful to compare her freakishness to Al-Kaissie.
  • As the meager Vegas faithful testified to Al-Kaissie’s freakishness, their nemesis allegedly claimed it was a lonely period in his life and wished to move on from it.
  • Al-Kaissie slammed Patterson and hooked an abdominal stretch.
  • Unfathomably, Patterson submitted; therefore, Al-Kaissie won at 5:01.

Rating: DUD

Summary: Waste of time as Al-Kaissie was worthless in the ring at this stage.

Nelson interviews 1984 Olympic gold medalist in Greco-Roman style wrestling Jeff Blatnick. While Blatnick bores us with amateur wrestling minutiae, 1976 US Olympic competitor Brad Rheingans joins to put over Blatnick. Unfortunately for Blatnick, his cancer returned, so he couldn’t compete in the 1988 Summer Olympics. He also died in 2012 due to complications from heart surgery. What a shame!

Following a commercial break, we revisit the match between Al-Kaissie and Baron Von Raschke from the 3/5 episode. Meanwhile, my wardrobe is in dire need of refolding.

Match 3 for the AWA International TV title: Greg Gagne (champion) versus Steve Olsonoski

Highlights:

  • A criss-cross led to a drop toe hold by Olsonoski.
  • When Olsonoski applied a full nelson, Greg escaped and applied one of his own.
  • A member of the Vegas faithful chanted “bor-ing,” but nothing worthwhile occurred to change his mind.
  • As Greg slammed him twice, he dropkicked Olsonoski out of the ring.
  • Olsonoski chopped the not-so-toned one and caught Greg in the midsection.
  • After he dealt Greg a gutbuster, Olsonoski got 2.
  • He applied an abdominal stretch as two minutes remained.
  • While Greg escaped with a hip toss, he got 2.
  • Olsonoski put a knee into the midsection but missed an elbow drop.
  • With one minute left, a mid-ring collision put both wrestlers down on the mat.
  • Olsonoski attempted an atomic drop, but Greg blocked it and successfully scored with one of his own for 1.
  • When Greg trapped him with an O’Connor roll, he pinned Olsonoski at 9:11.
  • Simultaneously, the bell rang, but Greg retained. Marshall put his spoon of Frosted Flakes down too soon to monitor his stopwatch.

Rating: **

Summary: As you’d expect from two guys who train together regularly, this was neck-and-neck until Greg pulled it out of his ass at the end. Did he elevate Olsonoski or barely beat the equivalent of a JTTS for 1988? I’d lean toward the latter.

A disheveled Nelson interviews Soldat Ustinov who denies another opportunity for Von Raschke’s against Al-Kaissie. Instead, Von Raschke gets in Ustinov’s face and scares him off with the threat of the claw. Von Raschke cuts a promo on Al-Kaissie until Ustinov CLOBBERS him from behind with a wooden board. While Nelson screams for medical attention, Ustinov drapes the Soviet flag over Von Raschke. Insta-feud!

Match 4 (non-title): AWA World tag team champions the Midnight Rockers versus Samoan Joe & Destroyer Samoan

Highlights:

  • Jannetty gave Destroyer a cross corner whip followed by a clothesline for 2.
  • As Destroyer belted Jannetty on the SOUTH end of the Vegas strip, Michaels tagged in.
  • The Midnight Rockers fed Destroyer a drop toe hold/elbow drop combo, and Michaels mounted the top turnbuckle to deliver a flying fist drop. Was Lawler coaching everyone for this taping?
  • When Joe tagged in, Michaels gave him a cross corner whip followed by a chop.
  • Jannetty tagged in and dropkicked Joe.
  • After Michaels tagged in, the Midnight Rockers dealt Joe a double gourdbuster.
  • 1-2-3.
  • The Midnight Rockers won at 3:10.

Rating: **

Summary: Showcase match for the champs.

At ringside, Lee Marshall interviews the Midnight Rockers. Jannetty names Lawler/Dundee and the Nasty Boys as top challengers before mentioning their opponents NEXT WEEK in Badd Company. Afterward, he alludes to the arrival of the Rock’n’Roll Express. Michaels credits Badd Company as a tough challenge but is also appreciative of the Rock’n’Roll Express.

We revisit the previous two episodes for a quick peek at Badd Company.

Match 5 (dwarf): Karate Kid & Cowboy Lang versus Killer Cruz & Bad Boy Brown

Highlights:

  • Can the little people add some excitement to this episode?
  • Kid tagged in, whipped Cruz into the corner, and dropkicked him.
  • When he gave Cruz a cross corner whip, Kid came up empty on his follow-through.
  • Cruz slammed Kid, mounted the top turnbuckle, and landed a senton splash.
  • As he slammed Kid again, Cruz mounted the opposite top turnbuckle but missed a second senton splash.
  • Kid hooked a full nelson, but Brown stormed into the ring.
  • Instead of nailing Kid, Brown inadvertently belted Cruz.
  • Lang tagged in, and a switcheroo on the full nelson transpired.
  • In lieu of smashing Lang, Brown mistakenly clobbered Cruz again.
  • Cruz dealt Brown a shot before tagging him.
  • After Lang whipped Brown into the corner, he followed with a boot to the midsection.
  • Brown reversed a cross corner whip and fed Lang some of his own medicine.
  • While Brown gave Lang a cross corner whip, Kid softened the blow for his partner.
  • Lang knocked down Brown and double-whipped him to avoid Cruz.
  • With all four wrestlers in the ring, Kid and Lang whipped the heels into one another.
  • Lang and Kid applied a rowboat and mistakenly tripped a frustrated referee Gary DeRusha.
  • When tags were exchanged on both sides, Kid scored with a spin kick to Brown for 2.
  • Cruz tagged in and military-press-slammed Kid.
  • As he backdropped Kid, Cruz delivered an elbow drop.
  • Kid leapfrogged Cruz and followed with a pair of flying headscissors.
  • After he planted Cruz with a thrust kick, Kid got 2.
  • Kid’s kickout sent Cruz into DeRusha’s arms, so DeRusha flung him back atop Kid for another 2.
  • While Cruz slammed Kid, he got 2.
  • Kid’s kickout sent Cruz into DeRusha’s arms again, so the infuriated DeRusha dumped him near the apron to quite an objection.
  • When Brown tagged in, Lang distracted DeRusha allowing Cruz to annihilate Lang in the heel corner. How dastardly!
  • Cruz tagged in, and a criss-cross ensued.
  • As Lang applied the brakes, Cruz didn’t and looked absolutely ridiculous.
  • Brown tried to stop him, but Cruz ran him over like a freight train.
  • After Brown tagged in, Lang backdropped him and hit a senton splash.
  • Kid tagged in and dropkicked Brown.
  • While he missed a second dropkick, Kid squirmed away from Brown leading to further heel miscommunication.
  • A dogpile ensued leading to a victory for Lang and Kid at 10:27.

Rating: *

Summary: Entertaining match although they didn’t follow the tag formula. Hence, the Vegas faithful got a kick out of them but didn’t excitedly leap from their seats.

Nelson interviews Greg who provides an update on Von Raschke. As Greg cuts a promo on Al-Kaissie, he states Von Raschke may have a concussion.

Prior to the end, we revisit the Ustinov attack of Von Raschke.

Conclusion:  The Ustinov-Von Raschke angle saved this show from the abyss where the previous episode exists. As the little person match made for good afternoon entertainment, the TV title match was every bit of a Von Erich-Adias match from WCCW as it could be.

Once again, unless little person matches are your Michelangelo, I beseech you to…

TV Rating: NONE

Stay tuned for AWA 03-26-88!

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!