AWA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING ON ESPN CLASSIC REPORT
By Doug Maynard on 3/1/2008 2:22 PM
AWA Championship Wrestling
March 1, 2008
(Originally Aired July 22, 1986)
We're back again with another look at AWA Championship Wrestling, airing each
and every night on ESPN Classics. Before I get started, my apologies for no
recap of the show on Thursday night. I had every intention of watching and
doing the show, but basketball was running late on the ESPN
show and I fell asleep while waiting for it to end. What can I say? It had
been a long day and I needed my beauty sleep. Too bad it didn't work. *Sighs*
But I'm back again and ready to give it another shot. Hopefully, this will be
a regular thing. After all, what else do I have to do at 1am every night? I
have no life. *Double Sighs*
So here you go - the AWA from the glory days of professional wrestling. I'm
Doug and I approve this recap. Heh! Heh! Let's do this.
It's from the Showboat Hotel in Las
Vegas, Nevada. The men at ringside are Ron Trongard, Lord James Blears
and Larry "The Axe" Hennig.
Curt Hennig vs. Don Fargo
It's Curt "I'm Pretty Damn Good, But Will One Day Be Perfect" Hennig
taking on the wily veteran, Don Fargo. This Fargo is a sight to see. I did a
google search on the man and he's got quite a history in the ranks of
professional wrestling as one of the "Fabulous Fargo Brothers". He's
a legit tough hombre with a long history of big matches and headlining
territories. But this was in the twilight of his career (age 58) and he was
playing the role of enhancement talent for the up-and-coming Curt Hennig.
Fargo is covered with tattoos and looks like a Moondog left out in the rain
Lots of stalling at the start by Fargo and then he takes down Curt with a
handful of hair. Of course, he denies it to the referee. He's innocent! Fargo
keeps control with a headlock and then takes Hennig to the corner where he's
pounded with chops and fists and a good old-fashioned choke for good measure.
It's all Fargo as he cuts loose with some knees to the belly on the young
Hennig. Hennig finally explodes, grabbing Fargo by the beard and letting loose
with a big left that sends Fargo flying to the floor. Fargo stalls a bit and
argues with the crowd before climbing back on the ring apron and being greeted
by a "Perfect" punch to the head. Curt goes to work on the leg and
scores with a leg drop. Fargo decides to again flee to the floor to get away
from Hennig. Fargo slowly makes his way back in and after some hair-pulling
behind the referee's back, Fargo locks in a big chinlock. The man has targets
tattooed on both of his elbows. This dude is a freak! Fargo hits an elbow off
the ropes, but misses the next attempt as Hennig pulls out a move from his
daddy's playbook and scores with a forearm shot to the face of Fargo, also
known as "The Axe!" Curt hits a dropkick off the second rope and
then drops an elbow to pick up the win.
Winner: Curt Hennig
Boris Zhukov (with Sheik Adnan El Kassey) vs. Tim Patterson
No interview segment this week as they go straight to another match after the
commercial break. It's a total squash as Zhukov just clubs away and beats on
Patterson. It's clobbering at it's best as Patterson eats turnbuckle and then
eats floor. Zhukov decides to wrestle a bit and goes to work on the arm and
locks Patterson into a hammerlock. In a classic "Anderson Brother"
move, you see Zhukov with the hammerlock slam on the rookie, Patterson.
Patterson does try to mount a comeback with some punches, but a big boot to
the face quickly puts an end to that. The crowd is about as bored with this
match as I am watching at home. It all came to a merciful end when, after a
slam and a clothesline (Russian Sickle?), Zhukov climbed to the top and hit
his finisher. I think it's a couple of fists to the chest of the fallen
victim, but it's hard to tell exactly since Zhukov came up a couple of feet
short in his jump. But the guy was out and Zhukov got the pin.
Winner: Boris Zhukov (with Sheik Adnan El Kassie)
After the match, Zhukov and Kassey stomp and kick around Patterson for good
measure. This seems to wake the crowd up a bit and they respond with a lot of
boos for the Russian and his manager.
It's interview time now as Larry Nelson talks to Sheik Adnan El Kassey and his
entire army, consisting of Boris Zhukov, Nord the Barbarian and a new guy, Ali
Khan. It's a lot of rambling and chaos and hard to understand what anyone is
talking about at this point. Zhukov makes some comments about Nick Bockwinkle
and Kassey puts over his newest monster, Ali Khan. Nord, who is huge and loud,
has a stretcher with him and goes on about how anyone who tries to fight their
army or tries to touch the Sheik will end up on the stretcher. No mention is
made at this point of Bruiser Brody, who just a few weeks ago was the pride
and joy of Adnan's army, so I guess he had left at this point (I don't believe
he was in the AWA for more than a few months anyhow) and I'm assuming that
Nord was his "replacement". He does look like a
"Brody-Light". He would eventually move on as well to the WWF where
he was known as "The Berserker". Anyhow, very confusing and loud
interview segment that really didn't say anything.
Special Programming Note Here: Tonight (Saturday) on ESPN Classics at 10:00pm
- they will be airing the "Best of Butterbean". I wonder if they'll
show the "Brawl For All" knock-out of Bart Gunn? If you're a fan of
Butterbean (and who doesn't like big bald guys in red, white and blue trunks),
check it out.
And now, we go to Larry Nelson who introduces the next match and gives us a
back-story. On June 29th, AWA World Champion Stan Hansen was scheduled to face
Nick Bockwinkle and defend his World Championship. Hansen refused to wrestle
Bockwinkle and left the arena. So Hansen has been stripped of the title and it
was awarded to Bockwinkle. But the night before, in Oakland,
CA - Hansen did defend the title against the challenge of Crusher Jerry
Blackwell. So what they're airing is the Hansen - Blackwell match, which was
Hansen's last title defense before being stripped of the AWA World
Championship. Have you got all that? Yeah, it was about as confusing as it
sounds. Anyhow, let's head back to the ring.
This is from June 28, 1986
AWA World Championship Match
Stan "The Lariat" Hansen (c) vs. "Crusher' Jerry Blackwell
It's just what you'd expect from these guys - an all-out brawl. The men
exchange punches at the start and then Blackwell hits a headbutt that sends
Hansen to the floor. Stan tries to get back into the ring a few times, but
keeps getting nailed by Blackwell. Finally, Hansen grabs Blackwell's leg and
pulls him down and pounds away at the huge monster of a man. Blackwell is down
and Hansen kicks and stomps away. Hansen is already busted open at this point,
probably as a result of one of the earlier headbutts by Blackwell. Stan scores
with a knee, but misses a charge into the corner as Blackwell moves away at
the last second. The fists and kicks are flying again as both men trade blows
and brawl in the center of the ring. Hansen decides to try a body-slam on
Blackwell, but it nearly backfires and Stan's legs give away, allowing
Blackwell to crash down on Hansen for a two count. Blackwell locks in a
bearhug as Stan tries to punch his way out. Finally, Hansen rips at the eyes
and escapes. the referee gets bumped by a wayward elbow and goes down.
Blackwell hits another headbutt and the big splash for the cover, but there is
no referee to make the count. Blackwell goes to check on the referee and
Hansen takes advantage to slip his boot off. Hansen attacks Blackwell with the
boot and busts him open. Stan also nails the referee, who was starting to
recover. Another referee comes out and Stan nails him too. While Stan is
beating up the referee, Blackwell gets hold of the boot, which Hansen had
dropped and goes after Stan, whooping him with the boot. Hansen flees to the
floor as one of the referees call for the bell. Hansen has been disqualified
for using the boot (and attacking the referee). Blackwell wins the match, but
Hansen retains his title since belts don't change hands on a DQ.
Winner (by DQ): Crusher Jerry Blackwell
After the match, Larry Nelson got to talk to Stan Hansen in the ring. Hansen
is just rambling. He's a bloody mess. He talks about Nick Bockwinkle and their
upcoming match in the Twin Cities (the one he refused to wrestle and was
stripped of the title for) and how Bockwinkle will get hurt and is a cheater.
And then Stan yelled something about how Blackwell attacked him and used the
boot in their match and should have been disqualified. So Blackwell cheated
and not Stan - at least, according to Stan. Stan closes the interview by
yelling about how he'll beat people up all across the USA.
This was actually a pretty good match. Neither man is known for his technique,
but both are good at brawling and telling that story in the ring and did a
great job of that. It's not a classic five-star match, but it was entertaining
and the crowd was into it big time and that has to count for something. Hansen
was a wild man in the ring, to be sure, but he knew how to take care of
business and put butts in the seats. That's for sure.
Time for the main event...
Ali Khan (with Sheik Adnan El Kassey) vs. Brad Rheingans
I've been trying to find some information on this Ali Khan dude, but haven't
had much luck yet. I did find someone by the same name who teamed with Joe
Blancard (Tully's daddy) in 1969, but I'm not sure if its the same guy or not.
Probably not. I'm surprised to see Rheingans in the main event. He was (and
is) a fantastic wrestler and one of the best "mat-wrestlers" in the
business, but he didn't have much of a personality or charisma. Very similar
to Bob Backlund. But I guess actions speak louder than words and he was a
fantastic in-ring technician. As for Khan, he has a nice beard that must itch
a lot. He sure is spending a lot of time scratching it. I wonder if he needs a
new flea collar? Brad quickly takes control with some amateur moves and
take-downs. Khan tries a headlock, but Brad uses the head-scissors to escape
and lock Khan up. Khan escapes and flees to the floor to talk to his manager.
We see some back and forth with Khan throwing punches and Rheingans throwing
the forearm shots. Finally, Brad goes back to basics and locks up the arm with
a hammerlock and then some twists to the arm of the bigger Khan. Khan rips at
the eyes and does some choking on the ropes before chopping away at Rheingans,
sending him to the outside of the ring on the floor. The Sheik takes advantage
and gets in some shots from the outside as well. Brad staggers around on the
outside before getting a second wind and coming back with a huge shoulder-shot
to the mid-section of Khan. A backdrop by Brad and the ref gets bumped. I'm
beginning to see a pattern around here. Khan whips Brad into the referee, just
to make sure the ref is stunned. But Brad is still fighting and scores with an
atomic drop on Khan. Brad hits the flying shoulderblock and goes for a pin,
but there is no referee to make the count. As Brad goes to pick up the
referee, we see Sheik El Kassey hand Khan something from the outside of the
ring. Khan clubs Rheingans with the foreign object as the referee finally
wakes up and calls for the bell.
Winner (by DQ): Brad Rheingans
After the match, Khan and The Sheik continue to beat up on Brad before sending
him flying into the corner. Brad does the "Flair Flip" over the
corner and tumbles to the floor. Boris Zhukov is out now with the Russian flag
in his hand. Its looks as if Larry Nelson is climbing into the ring for an
interview, but nope, the show ends here.
It was another good show with a nice, healthy dose of nostalgia for the old
time fans. I'm not sure why they would have the Rheingans - Khan match as the
main event when the Blackwell - Hansen match was definitely the best match of
the night, but then again, why ask why? It was a good show and a nice way to
spend an hour remembering the way things used to be. If you get the chance,
check it out.
I'll be back next week with more recaps of AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPN
Classics. I hope ya'll are enjoying these recaps as much as I am writing them
because I'm having a ball.
Until the next time, I'm Doug. Have a great weekend and always be a fan.
I decided to write about wrestling because I never want to be rich or famous
and it's working!