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By Doug Maynard on 5/1/2008 3:18 PM

AWA Championship Wrestling
On ESPN Classics
May 1, 2008
Doug Maynard
To steal a certain sports-entertainers catchphrase, "Finally, the AWA has come back to the Showboat!" Yep! After several long and hard to get through days of the AWA in Nashville, they've come back to 1988 and the world famous Showboat Pavilion. It's about damn time. Rod Trongard is calling the action and is joined along the way by Ray "The Crippler" Stevens, the lovely Donna (Gagne) and Nick March (whoever that is!)
I'm Doug and I'm your recapping host with the most and I'm ready to do this. So let's do this. Yay!
OK, I'm officially pissed off. I had the recap typed up and finished. I was actually running early (for once) and damn, if I do say so myself, it was good! But then I go to cut and paste and send to Dave & Mike... and somehow, I erased the whole damn thing. Except for the small part above this rant. I hadn't saved it yet, so that means an hour of typing - wasted and gone to computer limbo! Aaaaauuuuuggghhhhh!!!
I picked a helluva week to quit smoking crack! Geez! (Just kidding!)
So instead of the long, play-by-play version of the AWA from last night, this will be a cliff-note style version. Just the basics with little flash and few extras. Typing this up one time was hard enough. Twice is almost too much to bear. I'd rather be chewing glass or watching a Great Khali versus Mark Henry match with Mike Adamle, Don West & David Crockett on commentary. Just give me a gun now and let me end this suffering!
OK, no gun. So I guess I may as well just try it again.
We start with Larry Nelson talking about their "Fan of the Week" and then plugs the main event for the night. The Midnight Rockers vs. The Original Midnight Express for the AWA Tag Team Titles. There was some controversy, but AWA President Stanley Blackburn has made a decision. More on that later.
To the matches.
Van Van Horne & Jake "The Milkman" Milliman vs. Nick Kiniski & "Mr. Magnificent" Kevin Kelly w/ Madusa Miceli
It's what you'd expect. Nick and Kevin Kelly were the new, hot young studs for the AWA and I'm guessing were there to replace the departed Rose & Somers as the top heel team. Kiniski is the son of former NWA World Champ Gene Kiniski and Kelly is NOT the future WWF announcer. This guy is jacked! As for the match, Milliman does his shtick and rolls around a bit before tagging in Horne. Horne gets over-powered by Kelly and just butchered by Kiniski in what was a short and sweet squash match. Lots of tags by Kiniski & Kelly, who are showing some charisma and flash. Piledriver by Kiniski on Horne for a quick pin in about four minutes or so.
Winners: Nick Kiniski & Kevin Kelly w/ Madusa Miceli
We get a caption as we go to commercial with the AWA Tag Team Rankings. It's the Original Midnight Express on top as the champs, followed by The Midnight Rockers, Kevin Kelly & Nick Kiniski, and the Nasty Boys. There was another team listed, but I missed it. Ooops!
Destroyer Samoan & Dennis Stamp vs. Steve Olsonowski (Steve O) and Ricky Rice
I'm not sure, but I think this was before Rice was named one of the Top Guns. He's just getting started in the AWA. Steve O. had been working as the masked Ninja, the second Mr. Go, for Larry Zbyszko, but at this point in time, Larry had taken off for a cup of coffee in WCW so the Ninja role was pointless and Steve O. was working as himself.
Rice starts off against Samoan and keeps the early advantage with the speed. Stamp tags in and takes control with punches and kicks. Steve O is in and throws a dropkick. The fast tags between Steve O and Rice begin and they keep Stamp on the defensive. The Samoan comes in to throw a few kicks and chops, but tags back out to Stamp again. It's Steve O and Rice keeping control with the switches and fast tags. Steve O hits the backdrop on Stamp and tags in Rice. Rice scores with two dropkicks and a cross-body splash to get the pin.
Winners: Steve O & Ricky Rice
Another caption as we go to commercial. Keep the letters and cards coming and be the AWA "Fan of the Week".
Tom "Rocky" Stone vs. Billy Jack Strong
Another new face. Billy Jack Strong - a living example of steroids gone wild. He looks like the love-child of Billy Jack Haynes and Hulk Hogan. And no, that's not a compliment. He's a big goof so muscle bound that he can barely move. And the match is just no-selling and dominance by Strong. Stone gets a few shots in, but it's just Stone with the power moves - slams, kicks, clotheslines, etc. We see Strong with a badly done DDT from the second rope and then a "Shades of the Undertaker" tombstone piledriver for an easy win.
Winner: Billy Jack Strong
Another caption as we go to the commercial break. The most popular wrestlers in the AWA are... The Midnight Rockers are in second place. I can buy that. I didn't get the last two names because I went numb and in shock at the first name. The most popular wrestler in the AWA, according to the AWA, is.. Greg Gagne. Go ahead and laugh. I know I did. Nepotism was running strong and fast in the AWA and Verne really loved his kid.
Now to Bill Apter of Pro Wrestling Illustrated and a special "AWA Press Conference" with Wahoo McDaniel.
Wahoo claims to be "King of the Strap Matches" and talks about a match he had against Curt Hennig. Wahoo won, but doesn't like the way he won. He puts over Paul E. Dangerously as a smart guy and good manager for the Original Midnight Express and says that they probably wouldn't be where they are if it wasn't for Dangerously. He talks about how Billy Jack Strong is a good "Indian boy" and how he's been helping to train Strong. Wahoo mentions that he helped train Ric Flair and says that Strong is coming along fast and if he listens, he could be a new World Champion.
Another match.
Soldat Ustinov vs. Dennis Stamp
Stamp starts off by going after the arm. Soldat with some slams and clubbering. Elbow for two by Ustinov. Ustinov with headbutts and fists and a whip on Stamp to the corner Ustinov charges and Stamp moves. Dennis in control, but runs into a boot by Ustinov who covers for the pin.
Winner: Soldat Ustinov
Another caption from the AWA Notebook as we find out who's the most hated in the AWA. The first three names were Curt Hennig, Paul E. Dangerously and Soldat Ustinov. Didn't catch the other two names, but I think one was Col. DeBeers. I just know it wasn't Greg Gagne. He's "Mr. Popularity" after all.
We go back to Nelson in the studio and he plugs some upcoming shows in Minneapolis. MN. Then he puts over the next match. It's the main event. This match was filmed in Vegas on December 27, 1987.
AWA World Tag Team Championship Match
Randy Rose & Dennis Condrey - The Original Midnight Express w/ Paul E. Dangerously (c) versus Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty - The Midnight Rockers
Shawn and Dennis start off and Shawn is quick with the fists. Dennis bails to the floor. As Shawn distracts the ref, Jannetty sneaks up and gives Condrey an atomic drop on the floor. And one for Randy Rose too. The fans love it and Paul E. Dangerously is livid. The Express starts to leave and head to the back, but Jannetty goes and gets the title belts from the announce table and tosses one to Shawn. The Rockers raise the belts in the ring and the Midnight's do a u-turn and quickly return to the ring to restart the match.
It's Condrey versus Shawn. Dennis hits a knee, but gets nailed by Jannetty on the outside with a clothesline. The Express takes a breather to talk things over and then work Shawn into the corner. Dennis holds and Rose goes for a clothesline. Shawn moves and Dennis gets bumped to the floor. Rose and Jannetty are in the ring now and Marty takes control with a flip and a hip-toss. Tag out to Shawn. Paul E. is there to distract the ref and we see Dennis pull down the top rope as Shawn comes across the ring. Shawn to the floor and Condrey attacks with a back-breaker and by ramming Shawn into the ring apron. He puts Shawn back up to the ring and Rose takes over by suplexing Shawn into the ring.
Rose with some clotheslines before tagging in Condrey. Dennis with kicks, stomps and a back-breaker for a two-count. Shawn with some punches, but Dennis rips at the eyes. Rose in with a knee before tagging Dennis back in. Dennis gets a two-count and starts trading punches with Michaels. Fists are flying and both men go down. Rose quickly tags in and hits a slam and a splash from the second rope for a two-count. HBK fights back, but Rose ties him up with a drop-toehold and tags in Dennis. Knees and punches by Condrey and he taunts Jannetty.
As the ref deals with Marty, Dennis works over Shawn. A tag to Rose and an attempt at a double-clothesline, but Shawn ducks and comes back with a clothesline of his own and sends both Rose & Condrey flying. Shawn makes the hot tag to Jannetty who comes in with slams and punches and cleans house. A roll-up on Dennis for a two-count. Shawn is back in and all four men are fighting in the ring. It's OINGO BOINGO time! The referee is losing control, but gets bumped as Condrey lifts up Shawn for a suplex. Another ref is out there and and is coming around the ring as Marty rolls up Dennis. The ref counts three from outside and comes in to raise the arms of Michaels and Jannetty. The two refs speak and then both refs raise the arms of the Midnight Rockers as the pin counts.
Winners and NEW AWA World Tag Team Champions: Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty - The Midnight Rockers
We go back to the studio and Larry Nelson. Larry puts over the Midnight Rockers as the NEW tag team champs. He's practically giddy with glee. He puts over Billy Jack Strong and then the Rockers again. Nelson mentions his three "Fan of the Week" winners again and closes by saying that the AWA is "the major leagues of professional wrestling!"
And that's the show. The main event was good and I'd forgotten just how good a worker Dennis Condrey really was. The rest of the show.. blah! But just for that main event, I'd still give it a thumbs up. Plus, none of this was the crapola from the Nashville tapings and that means a lot too.
OK, I'm running so late already today, I'm going to close this up. Questions and comments can be sent to
I'll be back tomorrow with more classic AWA goodness from ESPN Classics, so look for it. I'm Doug and I'm out of here.
Have a great day and always be a fan. I'll see you tomorrow.