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By Doug Maynard on 3/5/2008 10:56 AM
AWA Championship Wrestling
on ESPN Classics
March 5, 2008
(Originally Aired October 6, 1986)
Doug Maynard
It's another night of AWA Championship Wrestling from the vaults of ESPN Classic. This episode originally aired on October 6, 1986 and as always, comes to us from the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lord James Blears and Ron Tronguard are butchering the commentary at ringside.
I'm Doug. I'm the recap guy. And I'm jacked tonight. Because things are starting off with the man... the myth... wrestling's only true "Living Legend" (besides, Bruno that is...) - I'm talking about Larry Zbyszko. Let's do this.
"Living Legend" Larry Zbyszko (with Mr. Go) vs. Butch Cooper
It's time for a trip to Larry-Land as Zbyszko is wrestling tonight in the opening event. And being Larry Z., you know that mouth is going at full capacity. Larry starts off by telling the fans at ringside to "grow up" and then argues with the referee for a bit. He stalls for several minutes in classic Zbyszko style before finally locking up and backing Cooper into the ropes. Clean break by Zbyszko as he'd rather complain to the referee a bit and then goes to the far side of the ring to talk to Mr. Go, his own personal "Ninja". Finally, Larry explodes with an arm-drag and then an arm-bar. The fans explode in excitement because Zbyszko finally did a move. Larry is still talking as he pulls back on the arm and tightens up his hold. Back-kick into the gut by Zbyszko and a big shoulder-breaker. A couple of slams and Zbyszko goes to argue with the crowd even more. Geez! I wonder how this guy ever got a reputation as a "loud-mouth"? He never shuts up. Backbreaker by Larry Z. and then he hits a perfect piledriver to get the easy win.
Winner: Larry Zbyszko
Mr. Go comes in to raise his bosses hand as Larry Nelson enters the ring with a mic.
Guess what? As if his ranting during the entire match wasn't enough, Larry Zbyszko is going to talk. Larry talks about how he's been through everyone and taken down everyone. He took out Greg Gagne for six months and now, he wants his chance at his destiny. He wants Nick Bockwinkle and the AWA World Championship. Larry Nelson mentions that he spoke to Bockwinkle earlier and Nick called Zbyszko a "hot head!" Zbyszko goes off on hearing this and his mouth kicks into over-drive as he calls the fans "spud-heads" and says that if Bockwinkle doesn't like his mouth, he can come out and shut it. Larry continues to rant and rave as Nelson ends the interview by saying that they've run out of time.
Bill Tabbs vs. Brad Rheingans
Time for another match as the former amateur standout, Brad Rheingans is taking on a big young guy by the name of Bill Tabbs. At least I think that's what they said his name was. Tabbs starts off as they lock up by picking up Brad and carrying him across the ring and placing him on the corner. This is a strong kid. But Rheingans doesn't look impressed. Brad takes the bigger man down with a headlock and then a cross-body for a quick one-count. Another headlock take-down by Rheingans. Tabbs decides to fight back with some punches and a choke on the ropes. Brad comes back with a dropkick and goes back to the headlock. Tabbs hits a knee off the ropes and scores with a big slam, but misses a kneedrop. Rheingans throws a punch and hits a big backdrop for two. Kick and slam by Tabbs and he climbs to the second rope, but misses a dive. Rheingans climbs to the second rope and scores with a flying-shoulder to pick up the pin.
Winner: Brad Rheingans
Larry Nelson talks to Rheingans who talks briefly about the setbacks he's had to endure in his career, but he's on the comeback. He has a new weapon, the "Bombs Away", which we just witnessed (the flying shoulder, I guess) and it'll be the bullet for the Sheik's army.
And since there's time left, Nelson then talks a moment to boxer-turned-referee Scott LeDeoux. LeDeoux talks about how he's been training hard and working out. He's had problems with some of the wrestlers around (Nelson mentions Zbyszko) and LeDeoux says his biggest problem is remembering the rules. He likes to take care of things his own way. We also find out that LeDeoux's best wrestling move is the open-handed slap. Hey, he said it - I didn't.
I missed most of this (had to go let the dog in and the cat out - at 1:30 in the freakin' morning.... geez!), but a video promo thingy aired talking about a big monster of a man called "Silo Sam". He was (allegedly) bigger than Andre the Giant and he looks to be a monster of a guy. I remember seeing something about this guy in one of the old "Apter Mags" where he appeared with the Fantastics at some Mid-South events. But he didn't stay in the business for very long. Anyhow, the video puts over how big this dude is and says that he'll be popping up sometime in the future. Just picture the Great Khali and Hillbilly Jim having a love child. Add some overalls and a cowboy hat. And that was Silo Sam.
It's time for another match. A young lady named Donna (Verne Gagne's daughter?) joins Trongard on the commentary.
The Midnight Rockers - Shawn Michaels & Marty Janetty vs. Pamelo Crenshaw & Eddie Sweat
Ha! Larry Nelson introduced Crenshaw by the wrong name. He corrected himself though. And the AWA has finally started spelling Shawn's name right. Marty is coming in with bandaged ribs that are a result of matches against Doug Summers and Buddy Rose. So he's the walking wounded tonight.
Marty and Crenshaw start off and trade blows before MJ locks up the arm and then applies a front face lock. Crenshaw takes over with a headlock and a shoulder-block. Shawn tags in and after a hip toss, goes right to work on Crenshaw's arm. Marty tags in and we see a quick double-team by the Rockers as the referee makes his count. Crenshaw manages to get Marty on the ropes and scores with a knee and a chop. MJ fights back with a boot and a flying elbow-smash to the face. Sweat tags in and goes after MJ. Shawn tags in and throws some punches and a slam. Crenshaw comes in and gets double-hip-tossed by the Rockers. Double dropkick for Sweat. Shawn and Marty do some awful looking move at the end where Shawn does the suplex and Marty does a cross-body, but it was flubbed and looked terrible. But it still worked and the Rockers pick up the quick pin.
Winners: Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty - The Midnight Rockers..
Larry Nelson talks to the Rockers. Shawn talks first and says that at Wrestlemania, he'll be the man to retire Ric Flair. Ooops! Wrong Michaels promo. My bad.
Shawn talks about their problems with Buddy Rose and Doug Summers. They caught Marty and him off guard in the beginning, but the Rockers never quit and never say die. They say something - they back it up. Marty talks next and puts over his sore ribs. But that doesn't matter to him. No matter what injuries, the Rockers won't stop until they get to the top and that's the World Championships.
Col. DeBeers vs. Robert Burroughs
DeBeers starts off with a headlock and a stomp. He drops Burroughs across the top rope and lands a couple of knee shots. Suplex by DeBeers and then he plants Burroughs with a face-driver for an easy pin. Complete squash!
Winner: Col. DeBeers
DeBeers talks to Larry Nelson and mixes politics with wrestling as he claims that there are no clear policies in the U.S. or in the AWA. The AWA should impose sanctions on Scott Hall for use of steroids. The AWA is weak, the USA is weak and Scott Hall would be weak if he didn't use steroids.
I can't believe they're using this as a storyline. Can you imagine someone today blasting a fellow wrestler for "using steroids". I hope that no Congressmen or the National Enquirer ever get hold of these DeBeers promos. They would have a field day.
Anyhow, DeBeers wants the AWA to give Hall either a blood test or urine test to check for steroids. DeBeers fears no man and especially not Scott Hall, but DeBeers still wants Hall to be tested. Nelson cuts the interview short as he claims they're out of time. DeBeers continues to rant as they go to commercial.
And now we go to the main event. It's from Minneapolis, MN and took place on April 20, 1986. This took place in April, but this show originally aired in October? Something doesn't sound right here. And we wonder why the AWA eventually went under. *Sighs*
Greg Gagne & "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka (with Verne Gagne) vs. The Barbarian & "King Kong" Brody (with Sheik Adnan El Kassey)
* If Gagne & Snuka win - Verne Gagne gets ten minutes in the ring with the Sheik) *
Brody starts off with Greg Gagne and just chops him down. Gagne fights back, but a boot by Brody just levels him again. Barbarian tags in and hits a knee and a big slam on Gagne. Greg fights back again and tags in Snuka. Snuka with lots of chops and a chinlock on the Barbarian before moving to the arm. Brody comes in and pounds away on Snuka and just kicks and stomps at him. Brody goes for a headlock (in a cage match?) and Snuka throws some chops. Brody plants Snuka and gets a two-count before Gagne breaks it up. Snuka fights back and tags in Greg who plays Superman with the knees and fists as he dominates both Brody and the Barbarian. (Yeah, I believe it too!) Barbarian puts an end to that with the boot and a slam. Brody in and he chops Gagne before making him eat steel cage. Gagne is busted open. Brody hits a piledriver on Gagne, but Snuka breaks it up before he can get the pin. Barbarian in with some more kicks and Greg is fighting back as well. Barbarian eats cage and everyone is into the ring. It's OINGO BOINGO time. Brody gets busted open by Snuka with a combination of chops and the cage. Snuka hits a flying headbutt on Brody for a two-count. It's just pure chaos at this point and everyone is everywhere doing everything. Snuka misses a chop off the top rope and nails his partner, Greg Gagne. Barbarian nails a clothesline on Snuka and holds him for Brody. Brody goes for a dropkick on Snuka, but Jimmy moves and Brody levels the Barbarian instead. It's another moment of chaos and Snuka ends up pinning the Barbarian to the mat for the three-count in all the confusion.
Winners: Jimmy Snuka & Greg Gagne (with Verne Gagne)
And the show abruptly ended right there. The closing credits began to run and that was that for the night. Another good show. The matches weren't all that and some of the moves were downright brutal, but it was still a refreshing change from the over-polished WWE or TNA product that we watch today. And the promos were awesome. The guys are putting over the titles and make it clear that it's the gold belts that matter. And hearing Larry Z. call everyone "spud-heads" - that's classic. And as I said earlier, could you imagine a wrestler as politically incorrect as Col. DeBeers having any kind of success today? Or demanding that his rival be tested for steroids? It's just awesome stuff. It's crude and raw. It's the AWA on ESPN Classics and yeah, it is that damn good.
Well, that's it for me. I'm Doug and I'm outta here. Questions or comments, write me at Visit me at MySpace at
Until the next time, take care and always be a fan.