Rock Star Gary reflects on AWA on ESPN 03-26-1988

Taped from Las Vegas, NV

Airdate: March 26, 1986

Attendance: 2,000

Hosted by Larry Nelson, Rod Trongard, & Lee Marshall

Can the Rockers shoo away that pesky Badd Company? How will Greg and McDaniel fare against Hennig and Orton? Who’s the newest member of Al-Kaissie’s army? Let’s shake it up and enjoy some wrestling!

Opening montage.

We revisit last week’s episode when Ustinov knocked some sense into Von Raschke. Afterward, Ustinov holds a board with Von Raschke’s name on it in Russian. Oh, crap. Teijo Khan ruins my weekend by making his AWA debut. To welcome him, Ustinov cracks his board over Khan’s head while scaring the BEJEEZUS out of Nelson. It’s no wonder he went out partying with the Midnight Rockers.

Match 1: Ricky Rice versus the Hurricane Kid

Highlights:

  • Dear. God. No.
  • Verne joined the broadcast table, but I don’t believe he’ll find any amateur background in this predictable disaster.
  • When the Kid failed to accomplish a simple shoulder block/leapfrog sequence, he escaped some arm psychology to deliver a dropkick.
  • He tossed Rice to the concrete floor, leaped from the apron, and connected with a double axe handle.
  • As he rammed Rice face-first into the apron, the Kid tossed him back into the ring to feed him a head butt.
  • For those who complain or have complained about WCW announcers always discussing the nWo during cruiserweight matches, Trongard and Verne obliviously discussed Minnesota junior hockey instead of this dreck.
  • Nonetheless, Rice reversed a cross corner whip and hip-tossed the Kid.
  • He dropkicked the Kid twice and launched a poorly executed and filmed cross body block.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Rice won at 4:47.

Rating: *

Summary: Showcase match for Rice, but it was an awful prelim match.

Nelson interviews Von Raschke while holding the broken board. While Von Raschke cuts a promo on Ustinov, he further breaks the board over his forehead. Nelson desperately needs some Stoli to calm his nerves by now.

Match 2: Steve Olsonoski versus Dennis Stamp

Highlights:

  • Unfathomably, a Stamp fan was found among the Vegas faithful with an “Amarillo Assassin” poster. I guess some collect stamps while others collect coins or cards.
  • Verne retreated to the promoter’s office to ensure neither Rice nor the Kid got paid for the previous match, so Marshall took over on color commentary.
  • As Stamp gave him a cross corner whip, he tossed Olsonoski to the concrete floor.
  • Olsonoski reentered the ring via sunset flip and pinned Stamp at 3:21.

Rating: DUD

Summary: Showcase match for neither as Stamp took the match off, and Olsonoski obliged. It would have made more sense for Olsonoski to win the enhancement match before facing Greg.

Nelson interviews Olympia. No, not the beer, and by the looks of her, it’s NOT the water either. Regardless, she’s after Madusa Miceli in what could be her sole wrestling promo. It was THAT BAD.

Following that mishap, Nelson interviews Badd Company who cuts a promo on the Midnight Rockers.

Match 3: AWA World champion “Cool” Curt Hennig & “Cowboy” Bob Orton versus AWA International TV champion Greg Gagne & “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel

Highlights:

  • McDaniel reversed a cross corner whip and chopped the Randy out of Orton.
  • When Hennig tagged in, he brought McDaniel to the concrete floor but ate a chop.
  • Greg tagged in and hip-tossed Hennig.
  • As Orton tagged in, Greg escaped a slam and hooked an O’Connor roll for 2.
  • McDaniel tied Hennig up like a pretzel, but Orton tagged in and fed McDaniel a high knee in the heel corner.
  • After Orton attempted an atomic drop, McDaniel blocked it and dealt Orton one of his own.
  • Greg tagged in but missed a dropkick.
  • While Orton pulverized him with a forearm smash, he military-pressed Greg into a backbreaker.
  • Hennig tagged in and split Greg in two with a pair of backbreakers for 2.
  • When Hennig lost a battle of fisticuffs, Greg got 2.
  • With two minutes remaining, he applied a sleeper to Hennig.
  • All four wrestlers were in the ring, and the heels reversed stereo cross corner whips to ram the babyfaces together.
  • As Orton tossed Greg over the top rope down to the concrete floor, referee Scott LeDoux called for the DQ at 7:29.
  • L.A.M.E.

Rating: DUD

Summary: This match is notable because this was Orton’s final AWA on ESPN match before he flew to Japan to wrestle for Inoki. This TV taping must have been a CHORE to witness.

After the match, Orton piledrives McDaniel inside the ring while Greg and Hennig battle outside. Greg jumps in to checs on McDaniel before more heel shenanigans occur.

Nelson interviews Madusa Miceli while my mouth waters. Miceli cuts a promo and reluctantly agrees to test the waters wrestle against Olympia. Next, Greg and McDaniel cut an angry promo on Hennig and Orton, but it’s all for naught.

Match 4: Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie versus Kevin Collins

Highlights:

  • Verne rejoined the broadcast table because Marshall doesn’t think Al-Kaissie matches are all that GRRRRREAT.
  • Despite this taping occurring in Vegas, the midnight hour must have been approaching as the Vegas faithful were disguised as empty seats.
  • Al-Kaissie slammed Collins, applied an abdominal stretch, and hooked the tights. Nefarious!
  • As Collins submitted, Al-Kaissie won at 3:21.

Rating: DUD

Summary: Waste of time.

We waste even more time as a replay of Sergeant Slaughter against the future Motor City Madman from 12/31/85 was shown.

Match 5 (non-title): AWA World tag team champions the Midnight Rockers versus Badd Company

Highlights:

  • Michaels reversed a cross corner whip, but Diamond floated over.
  • When tags were exchanged on both sides, Tanaka connected with a thrust kick but missed a diving head butt.
  • Tanaka reversed an Irish whip, but Jannetty leapfrogged and dropkicked him.
  • As Jannetty backdropped Tanaka, Michaels tagged in, leapfrogged Tanaka, and belted him.
  • All four wrestlers were in the ring, and the heels cross corner whipped the babyfaces.
  • After the Rockers performed a do-si-do, they escaped stereo belly-to-back suplexes and shoved Badd Company into each other.
  • Double dropkicks by the Rockers sent Badd Company reeling to the delight of the few members of the Vegas faithful still awake.
  • While Diamond tagged in, Tanaka tripped Michaels coming off the ropes behind referee Gary DeRusha’s back. SNEAKY!
  • Diamond dealt Michaels a pair of elbow drops and baited Jannetty into the ring.
  • When DeRusha ushered Jannetty back to the babyface corner, Badd Company double-teamed Michaels with elbow drops. How dastardly!
  • Tanaka shot the half and got 2.
  • As Diamond tagged in, he fed Michaels a gutwrench suplex for another 2.
  • Tanaka tagged in, and Badd Company delivered a backbreaker/elbow drop combo to Michaels.
  • After Tanaka couldn’t get 3, he demolished Michaels with a flying forearm.
  • Diamond tagged in, gave Michaels a cross corner whip, but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • Hot tag Jannetty.
  • While all four wrestlers were in the ring again, the Midnight Rockers provided Badd Company with a meeting of the minds.
  • Michaels hooked an O’Connor roll on Diamond but SQUISHED DeRusha in the corner.
  • When Michaels scored a false pin, Tanaka made Jannetty HIT THE POLE.
  • Tanaka creamed Michaels, and Diamond snagged the pin at 10:16.
  • UPSET CITY!

Rating: ***

Summary: How did one punch from Tanaka knock Michaels OUT COLD? I smell chicanery.

On replay, Tanaka mimicked Mike Tyson albeit with the help of a foreign object. Devious!

To finish the episode, Nelson interviews Marty Jannetty because Michaels had too much tequila the night before. The AWA was trying to make it seem like the interview was right after the match; however, I’m not falling for it. Nevertheless, Jannetty cuts an angry promo on Badd Company who rightfully should be the #1 contenders.

Conclusion:  The main event was the only memorable part of this episode. Fast-forward through the muck to the final match. Please. It’s a matter of maintaining sanity.

TV Rating: NONE

Stay tuned for AWA 05-14-88!

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!