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By Doug Maynard on 5/6/2008 2:40 PM
AWA Championship Wrestling
On ESPN Classics
May 6, 2008
Doug Maynard
Back again with more classic wrestling goodness from the AWA on ESPN Classics. It's coming from late January of 1988 and is from Minot, North Dakota. I'm the "Salt Tossing, Recap Writing, Wizard of What The...??"... and you're not. But my friends call me Doug. How are ya? Let's get right to it.
We start off with Larry Nelson in the AWA Studios. He tells us about what a great show we're going to be seeing. Yeah, if you say so, Larry. It'll be Curt Hennig defending the AWA World Championship against "Mr. Magnificent" Kevin Kelly. Plus we get to see a replay of the ever so exciting match from last week between Adrian Adonis and Greg Gagne over the AWA International Television Championship. And Zoldat Ustinov too. What more can we want? Nelson mentions his "Fan of the Week", a Myra Peabody from Rhode Island. She was in her seventies then. Think she'll be reading this recap? Nope! Me neither.
To the first match. Rod Trongard and the lovely Donna are doing the commentary.
Ricky Rice vs. Cowboy Bob "Ace" Orton Jr.
They start off with Orton backing Rice into the corner. Clean break by "Ace". Two big hip-tosses by Orton and a headlock. Shoulders and a quick stomp by Cowboy Bob. Rice fights back by ramming Orton's head into the turnbuckle a few times and going after the arm. Orton with a hip-toss and a dropkick. Rice does him one better by hitting two dropkicks. Orton bails to the floor to regroup.
Orton climbs back into the ring and hits a knee to Rice's guts. He tosses Rice to the floor. Orton climbs to the top rope and nails Rice on the outside with a double-axehandle clubbing blow. The ref calls for the bell since jumping off the top rope was illegal back in the 80's AWA.
Winner by DQ: Ricky Rice
Orton keeps up the attack by slamming Rice on the floor and then rolling him back into the ring. He sets up Rice and it's superplex time. Orton covers Rice, but the ref tells Bob he's been disqualified. Orton takes it well and nails Rice some more with stomps and knees. He hits the referee and tosses the other ref that's come to the ring to the floor. A piledriver on Rice by Orton and then to cap it all off, a knee and then Orton blows his snot on Rice. A couple of jobber guys - I recognize Darryl Olsen - come to the ring to chase Orton away. Randy with one last knee to one of the jobbers and he finally leaves the ring.
We go back to Larry Nelson in the studio. He talks briefly about how Orton will do anything to win and intimidate. So, that's where his son gets it from? We now go and take another look at the rematch between "Adorable" Adrian Adonis and Greg Gagne for Gagne's AWA International TV Championship. We only get to see the closing few minutes on the show, but through the wonders of "cut & paste", here's the recap from last week of the entire match and what went down afterward.
AWA International Television Championship Match
Greg Gagne (c) vs. Adrian Adonis w/ Cowboy Bob "Ace" Orton
Greg starts off strong with two hip-tosses and a slam. Adonis goes to the floor. After climbing back into the ring, Adrian with a knee, but Greg comes back with two more slams. Adrian bails to the floor again to regroup. After a little stalling, Adrian gets back into the ring. Greg goes after the arm. Adrian bails to the outside and pulls Greg out to the floor with him. Adrian tries to whip Gagne into Orton, but Greg reverses the whip and Adonis collides with Orton on the outside instead.
Greg pulls Adrian back into the ring and locks up the arm. Backdrop by Greg and he locks up an abominable stretch on Adonis. Adrian with a punch to break free, but Greg with the drop toehold on Adonis to keep the advantage. Adrian rips at the eyes and hits some elbows and a shoulder-block on Gagne. But Gagne moves too fast and quickly, Adonis is back in the drop toehold again as Greg goes back to the leg.
Adonis slams Greg's face to the mat and slams Greg into the corner. Adonis with the big splash in the corner for a two-count. Gagne makes the ropes. Adonis with punches and two slams to the corner. Gagne fights back and both men are exchanging fists. Adonis to the eyes again and a big splat from the second rope on to Greg. A snap-mare and a big knee by Adonis for two. Adonis tries for a splash, but Greg catches him with a fist to the throat and some punches. A splash by Adonis for another two count.
Adrian with his patented sleeper, "Goodnight Irene!" Greg escape by ramming Adonis's head into the corner. Greg whips Adonis to the far corner and Adrian with a partial "Flair Flip" as he goes upside down and bounces back into the ring. Greg is "Gagne-ing" up. Fists, backdrop and a dropkick by Gagne and he locks in the "Shades of My Daddy" sleeper. Adonis moves and Greg is tossed to the floor. Here is Orton with a series of punches to the face of Gagne. Adonis is out and he's looking to ram Greg into the ring post. Greg escapes and rams Adonis into the steel pole. The ref sees and calls for the bell. It's an automatic DQ.
Winner by DQ: "Adorable" Adrian Adonis
We have a little confusion as the referee calls for the belt, but he eventually gives it to Gagne since the title doesn't change hands on a DQ. So Adonis wins the match by DQ, but Gagne retains the title. Gagne is disgusted and throws down the title belt. Orton, seeing an opportunity, slides into the ring and steals the title, giving it to Adonis. Orton and Adonis flee to the back with the title belt as Gagne climbs down from the ring.
It's back to Nelson who says that promoters did get the belt back for Greg and he is still the AWA International Television Champion. Coming up later is Curt Hennig defending the AWA World Championship against the challenge of "Mr. Magnificent".
AWA World Tag Team Championship Match
Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty (c) vs. Mike Smith & Mark Wagner
Michaels and Wagner start off. Wagner with a fist and Shawn tags out to Jannetty. Double-team by the Rockers as they do the double-arm twist and a double-chop. Marty with a fist and Smith tags in. This is a big dude, but he looks lost. Shawn tags in with a cross-body for two and goes after the arm. Smith with a slam and a leg drop. He goes up to the second rope for another leg drop, but this time, Shawn moves and Smith crash & burns. Marty tags in and it's "Make A Wish" time as they each grab a leg of Smith and pull. Then it's both to the other corner for a "Shades of The Rock & Roll Express" double-fist on Wagner. Smith is up and tags out to Wagner. Marty with a punch and a tag out to Shawn. Double DDT by the Rockers and Shawn covers for the easy pin.
Winners: Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty - The Midnight Rockers.
We go back to Larry Nelson who is in the studio with Shawn Michaels. Shawn says that the Rockers are back and going 100%. Everyone is gunning for them and their titles. Shawn names off the Nasty Boys, Mr. Magnificent and his people, Soldat Ustinov is looking for a partner, etc. They've been the champs twice and have only lost one match in over two years, so Shawn thinks that means that they're the best. He goes over their travel schedule - to Memphis to face Lawler & Dundee, to Japan, etc. and says that the Midnight Rockers are open to challenges from anyone.
Shawn steps out of the picture and Soldat Ustinov steps in. He has a partner in Sheik Adnan El Kassey. Ustinov puts out a challenge to the Rockers and starts to do a rambling rant as Nelson ends the segment.
Darryl Olsen vs. Soldat Ustinov w/ Sheik Adnan El Kassey
A big "USA" chant fills the arena as Soldat & Adnan come to the ring. Soldat starts with a shove for Olsen. Clubbing blows by Soldat and some stomps and kicks. A hip-toss and a slam. Soldat misses an elbow. Olsen throws a few punches, but Soldat is quickly back in control with a big bearhug for Olsen. He slams Olsen into the corner and lifts him up for the "Shades of Bruno Winning The WWWF Title In 1963" back-breaker. Olsen quickly submits and the ref calls for the bell.
Winner: Soldat Ustinov w/ Sheik Adnan El Kassey
After the match, both Soldat and Sheik get in a few stomps at Olsen for good measure before the referee can get them out of the ring.
Jim Thomas vs. Chief Wahoo McDaniel
Thomas starts off by shoving Wahoo. Wahoo shoves back and gives a chop for good measure. Thomas bails to the floor to escape. He comes back into the ring and offers a handshake to Wahoo. Wahoo doesn't shake his hand, so Thomas gives Wahoo a slap across the face before bailing once again to the outside. Ouch! That's gonna cost him.
Thomas argues with some fans and takes his time climbing back into the ring. When he finally gets back into the ring, he's history. Wahoo with punches and chops. More big chops and the big chop off the ropes. Cover and easy pin by Wahoo.
Winner: Chief Wahoo McDaniel
We go back to Larry Nelson who plugs the big main event. He brings in the AWA Ladies Champion, Madusa Miceli and her charge, "Mr. Magnificent" Kevin Kelly. Madusa says that this is Mr. Magnificent's chance to be the AWA World Champion and he will win. And Kelly starts to talk. He rambles about how he's been beating up people for over a year and it's about time that he got his shot at the title. It's his chance and there's no place that Curt can hide. Kelly has been thinking about the AWA Championship day and night and he's going to beat Curt. 1988 is his year and he tells all the fans that this will be the match of their life. He puts over his manager, Madusa, as the AWA Ladies Champion and says that he will be the AWA World Champion.
And now, it's to Rod Trongard and Donna for the main event of the evening.
AWA World Heavyweight Championship Match
Curt Hennig (c) vs. "Mr. Magnificent" Kevin Kelly w/ Madusa Miceli
Both men are booed as they come to the ring. But Kelly gets a few more cheers. I guess having a hot blond chick as your manager has some benefits. A quick handshake between Kelly and Hennig and the match begins. Kelly with a hard shove on Curt. Curt goes to the ring apron while Kelly flexes for the crowd. He's definitely becoming the crowd favorite here. Kelly with an elbow. Curt with the arm-drag. Kelly hits a clothesline and Curt bails to the floor.
After a lot of stalling, Hennig gets back into the ring and trades kicks with Kelly. Curt again bails to the floor. Looks like he's been watching Zbyszko tapes about how to stall. Curt gets back in the ring again and backs Kelly into the corner. It's a "Shades of Ric Flair" chop by Hennig. Woooo! Kelly no-sells the chop. Curt reaches down and goes after the leg of Kelly. He pulls and twists at the leg of Kelly and drags him to the corner. Curt slams Kelly's leg against the steel ring-post. A step-over toehold by Hennig and he gets a couple of two-counts by grabbing the ropes for extra leverage. The ref catches him and breaks the hold.
Curt with more kicks to the leg and it's time for an Indian Deathlock by Hennig. He grabs the ropes again for extra leverage. The ref catches him again and calls for the break. Curt with punches and kicks. Kelly fights back with punches and a big backdrop. A big elbow by Kelly for two. A power-slam by Kelly for another two. He picks up Curt for a slam, but Curt grabs hold of the ropes to prevent the move. The referee knocks Curt's hands from the ropes with a kick and Hennig & Kelly tumble backwards with Curt landing on top of Kelly. The ref counts three and Curt pulls out a win.
Winner and Still AWA World Champion: Curt Hennig
Kelly is upset and attacks Hennig with punches and kicks. Kelly grabs the AWA title belt and tosses it down on Hennig in disgust. Kelly poses for the fans and flexes as Hennig grabs his belt and slides out of the ring, heading towards the back.
We go back to Larry Nelson again who reads part of a letter from his "Fan of the Week", the 75 year old Myra Peabody, from Rhode Island. He says that Hennig and Mr. Magnificent will probably meet again. He talks about the men we got to see wrestle such as Gagne vs. Adonis with "Ace" Orton getting involved and Wahoo has recently as well. Plus we saw Soldat Ustinov. Larry thanks the fans for watching and tell us to join them next week.
And there you go. Not a bad show, but nothing special. Total middle of the road for me. I've seen better, but I've definitely seen worse. Kevin Kelly showed some fire in his match against Hennig. Too bad he ended up as "Nailz" and his career later ended up in the dumpster. He could have been a contender.
I hate to cut this short, but time is not my friend today and I have much to go do right now. So that's it for today. Send comments and questions to And come visit me at MySpace at Add me as a friend. You know you want to.
And speaking of MySpace, over at my MySpace blog, I was bored over the weekend and decided to do some fantasy booking. What would it be like if the AWA was to have a reunion show, much like ECW did with the "One Night Stand" PPV a few years ago. So I decided to put my mind at work and book a show for the AWA and recap it as if it was happening here in 2008. It turned out pretty well, in my opinion. So if you get the chance, go visit my blog at MySpace ( and check it out. It's titled "AWA Night of Legends 2008 (Fantasy)". Any feedback would be appreciated as well.
And that's all for me. I'm Doug and I'm outta here like Rodney King at a L.A.P.D. Police Convention. Have a great day and always be a fan. I'll see you tomorrow.