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By Doug Maynard on 3/12/2008 2:11 PM
AWA Championship Wrestling
March 11, 2008
ESPN Classics
Doug Maynard
Good morning all. Happy Monday to ya, if there is such a thing. Doug here again with another recap of some classic goodness from the AWA. Yeppers! It's AWA Championship Wrestling from ESPN Classics. No time for chit chat this morning. Let's get straight to the action.
The graphics just say that this aired in 1986. No exact date is given. Larry Nelson is here and he puts over the first match featuring the hot rookie sensation, Earthquake Ferris. Ferris is pretty popular in the city of Oakland, CA and is the hometown boy. So I guess that means this match was taped in Oakland? With the AWA, you never know for sure.

Earthquake Ferris vs. Col. DeBeers

It's the wily veteran versus the popular young rookie. The fans are behind the big kid, Ferris. Or they just really hate DeBeers. You decide. DeBeers starts off with a headlock, but they quickly move to the running shoulders off the ropes scenario. DeBeers can't move Ferris. So he responds with a snap-mare and goes after the arm. Ferris with a big slam for 2. DeBeers moves quickly to the floor to stall and plan out his next move.
Ferris goes back after the headlock. DeBeers responds by pushing him into the corner and working over Ferris with knees and punches. Ferris hits a running splash into the corner for two. Hip-toss and a big slam by Ferris for another two. DeBeers escapes by choking and slapping his legs together on the young rookie's head. DeBeers unloads with some punches, elbows and a headbutt. Ferris keeps coming back with a knee and a "Shades of Bob Backlund" atomic spinebuster for a one-count. Ferris hits the power slam for a pin, but DeBeers gets his foot into the ropes. Ferris hits an elbow, but looks kind of lost in the ring. DeBeers with a small-package. Ferris is in the ropes, but the referee doesn't notice and counts the three.
Winner: Col. DeBeers
Larry Nelson talks to DeBeers and says that he must lead a charmed life. DeBeers doesn't know or care if Ferris was in the ropes - just that he won. DeBeers rags on Americans and how they're physically, but mentally small. He compares Ferris to Scott Hall in that they're big, but have no brains. Hall is not in control of himself and is a raging animal with no principles. DeBeers says that he is both muscle and brains and you need to have both to compete. If you face DeBeers, you will be disciplined because no man in North America can compete with the man from South Africa. DeBeers welcomes the challenge of Scott Hall, but claims within 15 minutes, Hall will be begging DeBeers for the punishment to stop. The interview cuts off here as they apparently have ran out of time.
And now we go to the actual program as Larry Nelson and the announcers, Rod Trongard and Lord James Blears all refer to this as the first match of the evening.
The graphics on-screen say that this match originally aired on March 11, 1986.

Gus Torrez vs. "The Legend" Larry Zbyszko

We get a graphic as the match is introduced that says Larry Zbyszko is a former "Americas Champion". Zbyszko is giving Larry Nelson a hard time as he tries to make the introduction and is "boxing" with him and just making an ass of himself. Funny! Larry is talking and complaining constantly to the referee as well as anyone else who might listen. The fans are chanting "Larry Sucks!" and Zbyszko goes to the ringside table to rag on the announcers for a bit and complain about the fans shouting "obscenities" at him. Larry is in classic Zbyszko-stall mode and this goes on for at least five minutes.
Finally, Zbyszko gives Torrez a little slap and the match is on. Torrez gets a headlock and Larry responds with a take-down. A knee and some clubbing forearms by Zbyszko, followed by a slam and a stomp. Suplex by Larry for a two-count. Torrez starts throwing the punches and tries to a comeback. He stops for a second to play to the crowd and Zbyszko nails him with a punch and a backbreaker. Larry clamps on some sort of maneuver that has Torrez bent like a pretzel for a few moments and then decides to end it all with a very stiff piledriver.
Winner: Larry Zbyszko
Larry Nelson interviews Zbyszko. Larry Z. is complaining about how the fans want to get all cocky. He says the fans are not even people - they're fat, toothless, moronic, out-of-shape slobs. Geez, Larry. Tell us what you really think. Larry continues his one-man filibuster as he complains about how he beats the odds and goes against the machine. He's all alone - Bockwinkle turned on him and stabbed him in the back, but he doesn't need friends or allies. He can't even get a shot at Stan Hansen. Nelson says that they're out of time and Zbyszko gets in a final shot at Scott LeDeoux. "LeDeoux, you're dead brother!"
We come back to Larry Nelson after the commercial and he says that the next match is controversial and the fans want to see it one more time. It's from Oakland, CA and it's Candi Divine defending the AWA Women's Championship against Sherri Martel. No date is given for this match, but according to the PWI Almanac, it took place on June 28, 1986.

AWA Women's Championship
Candi Divine (c) vs. Sherri Martel (with Buddy Rose)

We join this match already in progress. Candi has a headlock on Sherri. Sherri escapes with a head scissors. Candi gets out and goes back to the headlock. Sherri throws an elbow shot and knocks Candi to the floor. Buddy Rose comes over and taunts Divine as Sherri keeps the referee distracted. Sherri gets too close to the ropes and Divine pulls her to the floor and gives her two bone-jarring body-slams on to the floor. Candi gets into the ring to break the referee's count and Rose helps Sherri back into the ring. Candi flattens Sherri with a catapult maneuver twice before locking back in the headlock. Sherri fights back with a hip-toss and some punches before starting to choke Candi on the ropes. Sherri snaps Divine's head off the top rope and scores with a leg drop for two.
Sherri works over Divine with punches, chokes, ripping at the eyes and just about every other dirty deed she can manage. Sherri whips Divine into the corner, but the referee is in the way and gets squashed in the corner by Divine's body. Sherri flies in as Divine moves and catches the referee in a flying head-scissors. Yes, you read that right. Sherri took down the referee with a head-scissors. Funny spot! Candi yells at the shaken up referee as Sherri hits her from behind with a clubbing forearm and a rip at the eyes. Candi hits a sunset flip for a very slow and suspect two-count. Candi goes to argue with the referee again and Sherri comes up from behind and rolls Candi up for a pin. And of course, Sherri grabs the ropes for extra leverage as the referee counts three.
Winner and NEW Champion: Sherri Martel (with Buddy Rose)
This was an interesting match. The ladies weren't nearly as polished as the girls who wrestle today, but it was rough, gritty and still exciting to watch. And after watching these ladies in action, I've no doubt that they were every bit as tough as the guys and could kick some major-ass if they wanted to.
Another thought as I watched this match. I kept picturing, in my head, Steve Perry (Oh Sherri) and Iggy Pop (Candy) watching at home and cheering these two ladies on. Or maybe I should quit listening to so much music from the eighties? Well, Iggy's song was from the early 90's (and kicked ass), but you know what I mean. Anyhow, that was my random thought of the evening. Moving on.

In This Corner with Larry Zbyszko: Tonight's Guest - AWA World Champion Nick Bockwinkle

Zbyszko and Nelson are here for another edition of "In This Corner". Nelson mentions that Nick Bockwinkle is the new AWA World Champion. And Zbyszko goes off about how sick and disgusted he is that Bockwinkle was handed the title on a silver platter by Stanley Blackburn and the AWA.
We take a special look at Nick Bockwinkle with a highlight video featuring the song, "Roll Over Beethoven". We get to see Bockwinkle beating up on such legends as Jerry Lawler, Greg Gagne, Sgt. Slaughter, Verne Gagne, Wahoo McDaniel, and of course, Larry Zbyszko. Plus, if you look closely, you can see a few shots of Ray "The Crippler" Stevens looking on as Nick's partner in some of these matches. Cheesy video, but I'll still give it two thumbs up just for the nostalgic factor.
We come back and the Larry's (Zbyszko and Nelson) are with Nick Bockwinkle. Larry Z. wants Bockwinkle to tell how it feels to be the champion when you were just handed the belt and don't deserve it. Nick says that Larry is whimpering and whining as usual. Larry threatens Nick and storms off the set as Nelson continues to talk to Bockwinkle.
Bockwinkle again says that Zbyszko is whimpering and whining and says that he earned the title. He talks about how they had a signed contract and Stan Hansen was at the arena, but then left before facing Bockwinkle in the title defense. Nick does a lot of talk trying to justify the AWA and Stanley Blackburn's decision to give him the World Championship. Nick mentions his credentials as a former 3-time champ and says that the fans were cheering in the arena when he was given the title.
Larry Z. comes back in and he's carrying a pair of nunchakus. Larry asks Nick if he remembers these and starts talking trash. Bockwinkle stands up and they're starting to argue as Larry Nelson says that they're out of time and ends the segment.
After the break, we go to Larry Nelson again and he's in the ring with Crusher Jerry Blackwell. Blackwell is injured and can't wrestle against Stan Hansen tonight, but he's glad that Curt Hennig is getting a shot at Stan Hansen and the AWA World Championship. Stan Hansen comes out and says that Blackwell is a coward for not being able to wrestle him. He gripes about how Blackwell and the AWA make him sick. He prepared for a match against Blackwell and not Hennig. Hansen attacks Blackwell and quickly beats him down with the AWA Championship belt and goes to work on the already injured ankle of Blackwell.
Curt Hennig comes running out and throws some fists and a hip-toss to take Hansen out of the ring. Curt posts Hansen and then Stan returns the favor by ramming Hennig's head into the post as well. Hansen grabs a chair and resumes his attack on Blackwell's ankle. Several other referees come from the back and pull Hansen away and help Blackwell from the ring area and to the back.
After getting back into the ring, Stan and Curt exchange kicks and Curt hits an elbow that sends Stan to the floor. I guess the match is on even though we never had a bell ring to signify the start of the match. The referee is out there and counting so....

AWA World Championship Match
Stan Hansen (c) vs. Curt Hennig

Curt is punching and kicking away. Hansen returns the kicks and punches and hits a slam and an elbow for a two-count. Hansen with the chinlock and he clubs away at Curt for good measure. Curt fights back with more punches and kicks and stands on Hansen's throat for the choke. The punches and kicks are exchanged rapidly and it just keeps going back and forth. Damn, these guys are working stiff. Stan whips Hennig face-first into the corner and scores with some punches and knees to the gut. Hansen hits an elbow, but Curt fights back and feeds Hansen a face full of turnbuckle. Hennig with the flying body-press for a two count. They both roll to the floor and Stan slams Hennig on a row of empty chairs. Ouch!
Stan is throwing the punches and Curt is fighting back, giving as good as he gets. They fight their way back into the ring and Stan headbutts Curt in the stomach before scoring with a suplex. Stan hits a weak piledriver, but Curt makes the ropes before the referee can count three. Hansen hits the knee and goes for another piledriver, but Hennig backdrops Hansen to escape his clutches. Mule-kick by Hennig and he give Hansen a monkey-flip across the ring. Curt tries the same move again, but Stan holds on to the ropes to block the second attempt. Dropkick by Hennig for two. Stan rips at the eyes and lands a stiff forearm shot for two. Hennig hits another flying body-press for another two-count. Hennig hits a suplex attempt and both men are down. They both slowly get up and the fists start flying again. Curt hits a 'Shades of Wrestling II" kneelift. The bell rings as the time expires. Yep! Time has run out and the match is declared a draw.
And the show ends abruptly at this point. Here's what I don't get. They make a big production about Nick Bockwinkle being the new AWA World Champion and he's the featured guest in Larry Zbyszko's segment, "In This Corner". But then they close the show with Stan Hansen, who is still at the time of the match, the AWA World Champion, defending the title against Curt Hennig and also working an angle with Crusher Blackwell. I just don't get it.
But the match with Hansen versus Hennig was exciting and brutal. Larry Z. was entertaining as always and the negatives of the show were far outweighed by the plus factors. Another fun blast from the past.
A couple of quick corrections. In a few of the past AWA Recaps, I've referred to announcer Rod Trongard as "Ron". His name is "Rod". Oops!
Also, in one of the recaps from last week, I mentioned singer Jeff Healey (Angel Eyes) who passed away last weekend from cancer. I said that Healey appeared in the movie "Road House" with actor Patrick Swayze as well as Terry Funk and John Studd. Well, as it was pointed out to me, John Studd was NOT in the movie "Road House". Funk and Swayze were in that movie, but the former "Executioner #2" and future WWE Hall of Famer wasn't. So I goofed. I got that movie mixed up with another 80's movie called "Harley Davidson and The Marlboro Man" which starred Mickey Rourke & Don Johnson and DID feature "Big" John Studd. So I messed up. But both were decent movies and I'd suggest if you get a few free hours, take a trip to the local video store and check out both movies. You'll like them.
Come visit me at MySpace at www.myspace. com/salt_ palace. Send questions and comments to Doug28352@yahoo. com.
I'm Doug and I'm out of here. Have a great day and always be a fan. See you tomorrow.