AWA Championship Wrestling – March 4, 1986

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I’d originally intended to go through the WWE Network chronologically, but my rreal aim was to introduce myself to wrestling that I’d never watched before, so I’m going to jump around between territories a lot more, and probably veer over to YouTube as well. This is my first taste of watching AWA television, so here goes. The show starts out with Larry Nelson introducing Judy Moore, the General Manager of the Showboat Casino in Las Vegas, the location of today’s show. Larry runs down tonight’s card, then heads to the ring, since he’s also today’s ring announcer. A man of many talents.

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First up is Buddha Khan against last year’s Central States Rookie of the Year Shawn Michaels. Shawn gets the boos when his name is announced. The commentators for this show are Ken Resnick and Greg Gagne. This match showcases the young, athletic Michaels frustrating the veteran Khan with his speed and agility. At one point in the match, Khan grabs the ropes to escape a hold applied bu Michaels, and is admonished by the referee after the rope break, who tells him to wrestle his way out. That’s something I’ve never seen before. Michaels finishes off Khan with a super-kick followed by a splash from the extremely loose top rope. That performance won him over with the crowd, as his victory is greeted by cheers from the casino crowd. Larry Nelson interviews Michaels after the match, who states that he’s looking for a tag team partner, and that the tag team titles will be his first step toward the world heavyweight championship. Prophetic words indeed.

Next we have Tim Patterson and the absurdly named masked man “Bun Boy” Barton taking on “Wild” Bill Irwin and Scott “Hog” Irwin, the team known as The Long Riders. While this wasn’t a competitive match at all, it took an age for the Irwins to get win. Finally, Bill Irwin pinned Patterson after a big boot off the ropes. For what really should have been a squash match, this went on forever. Maybe with a bit of luck, Patterson and Barton can win the rematch. In a post match interview, the Long Riders question why they haven’t been given a shot at the tag titles held by the “pretty boys” Scott Hall and Curt Hennig.

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Tonight’s final match is “Pretty Boy” Doug Somers (that’s what happens when you don’t have writers) versus one half of the tag team champions of the world “Big” Scott Hall. Somers is a practitioner of the lost art of stalling. Hall finally catches him with a huge powerslam for the pinfall victory. Another match that went on too long for what they were trying to achieve. Post match, Curt Hennig challenges Stan Hansen, who had recently injured his neck.

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Th show ends with a sit down interview between Larry Nelson, Larry Zbyszko and Marty Jannetty. Jannetty announces that he is going to team up with Shawn Michaels (that was quick) as the “U.S. Express”.  Larry cuts Marty off and runs him down in typical Larry fashion, questioning whether Jannetty has the mean streak that is needed to make it in professional wrestling. Larry Nelson apologizes that Zbyszko stole all Marty’s interview time, but we’ll be right back. Except that’s the ends of the show. The main event was announced as Jerry Blackwell against Boris Zhukov, but for some reason, it’s missing from the WWE Network.

Not the greatest wrestling show. The atmosphere was very subdues in the casino arena, with many empty seats to be seen. The kids in the audience seemed to be enjoying themselves, but the adults were pretty indifferent. I’d guess they were all casino patrons given free tickets. Worth watching for a glimpse of Shawn Michaels and Scott Hall early in their careers, but from the brief highlights package, Marty Jannetty was the stand-out high flyer of the day. Scott Irwin was very strong on the microphone, but none of the post-match interviews lacked substance, and only hinted at possible future matches, rather than built to any particular match to look forward to.  Larry Zbyszko was excellent as always, but there are much better examples of his work. Maybe that Blackwell-Zhukov match was a five star classic. We’ll never know.

You can watch this show on the WWE Network.

You can follow me on Twitter as I live tweet the next show @krisswrestling.

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WCCW Episode 48 – November 11, 1982

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World Class Championship Wrestling for the Sportatorium in downtown Dallas, Texas. Again hosted by Bill Mercer and Jay Saldi. They talk about the ongoing bounty angle, which has been running through all the shows so far, but is hard to follow since there are missing episodes. There is a bounty on the Von Erichs, and King Kong Bundy knows something about it. Hopefully all will be revealed soon.

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Straight into tag team action with Bugsy McGraw and Al Madril taking on ‘Wild’ Bill Irwin and The Checkmate, managed, of course, by the omnipresent Armand Hussian. Checkmate has a brand new mask. I’m sure there’s a story there, but I’m none the wiser. A very old school finish to this match, and one that I absolutely hate. Madril had Irwin in a figure-four leg lock, but was very near to his opponent’s corner. Checkmate came in the ring and stomped Madril to break the pin, which the referee didn’t see. This was enough to allow Irwin to pin Madril. So far, so bad. Now referee Bronko Lubich comes to the ring from the back and reverses the decision. McGraw and Madril win by disqualification. It wasn’t an uncommon finish for a reversed decision disqualification to end a match after an illegal pin, but it really makes no sense at all. Not a great match buy the standards of the participants here. It was pretty long for a television match, 12 minutes or so, and Irwin’s punch-drunk selling was great. Checkmate not showing any of the slick wrestling skills from weeks previous. Maybe it was the new mask. King Kong Bundy joins in the post-match shenanigans before the losers bail out of the ring.

Next up we have Destroyer #2 against David Von Erich. The ring announcer helpfully informs us that Destroyer #2 is wearing blue and David Von Erich is wearing black. It makes them much easier to tell apart. Armand Hussian isn’t managing here, so I don’t hold out much hope for Destroyer #2, but Joe Saldi informs us that if he can win this non-title match against Von Erich, he will be contractually guaranteed a shot at David’s Texas heavyweight title. Von Erich wins with a very ugly reverse elbow drop off the ropes. At least it didn’t last long.

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Thankfully we go straight into our next match, which sees The Dragon (who seems to have lost his magic) and The Great Kabuki (looking quite different from when we last saw him), managed by Armand Hussian, take on the ‘toast of the coast’ The Fabulous Freebirds. I’ll have to say, the ring announcing has been very lackluster on this show, like the man with the microphone would rather be anywhere else but here. Then a gorilla enters the ring, which in the wonderful of professional wrestling, is nothing out of the ordinary. He has a quiet word with the Freebirds before leaving the ring. The last time we saw a gorilla was a few weeks ago in Mid-South Wrestling.Who’s in the suit this week?  A good match as expected, with some unexpected athleticism from both Gordy and the Dragon. Gordy drops a huge elbow on the Dragon for the win after the Japanese team controlled most of the match. Disappointingly, the Freebirds leave the ring in quick fashion, denying us Michael Hayes on the microphone.

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Bill Mercer explains the bounty! Ric Flair paid Gary Hart to have someone injure Kerry Von Erich. King Kong Bundy revealed this to Fritz Von Erich, and we are about to find out why. Bundy is now on strike and working at the docks, and eating chicken. In Atlanta, Ric Flair gave Bundy a check for $12,500 to give to Hart. Bundy didn’t want to be the delivery boy, and tried to sell the information on the bounty to Fritz, who would only offer $5,000 when Bundy wanted $10,000. Since Bundy was on strike, he had to take the money. This is all very complicated, and Bundy is even getting his lawyer, Saul Goldberg (father of Bill) from Atlantic City involved. Bundy is now an independent operator, so why his appearance earlier on the card?

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Rick Flair was unavailable for comment.

The final match has Kerry Von Erich, now back from injury and hungry for his rematch with Flair, facing Killer Tim Brooks. Brooks has the appearance of a hobo who has been left out in the sun. Kerry wins with a sunset flip after a horribly botched dive over the top rope into the ring. Post-match, Kerry states that he needs another month, then he’ll be 110% and ready to challenge Ric Flair for the world title.

A very mediocre show this week. None of the in-ring action was noteworthy at all. Worth watching for the King Kong Bundy interview for the explanation of the bounty, such as it was, and for watching Bundy talk with his mouth full of chicken. The gorilla though… I need to keep on watching.

You can watch this show here on the WWE Network.

You can follow me as I review these shows on Twitter @krisswrestling.

WCCW Episode 46 – November 2, 1982

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Continuing with chronological journey through every non-WWE show on the WWE Network, I’m watching the second available episode of WCCW. The show is again hosted by Bill Mercer and Jay Saldi from the world famous Sportatorium in downtown Dallas, Texas.

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The first match is a handicap match with another wrestler from the stable of Arman Hussian, The Great Kabuki, facing the team of the masked Raul Castro and The Samoan. Kabuki’s pre-match garb is as terrifying as his martial arts wrestling style is devastating. The rules here are a bit strange. Kabuki faces both men at once, but they only tackle him one at a time, much like in a bad kung-fu movie, but this is an elimination match. Castro is the first to go, submitting while taking too much punishment to his knee after a series of leg-scissor drops. This wasn’t a submission move, Castro just gave up to Kabuki’s offence. The Samoan managed to get some light offense in before missing with a top rope diving headbutt, and submitted in the same way as his partner. The announcers play up that Kabuki had injured Kerry Von Erich with the same move. A decent match, making Kabuki look like a monster, both literally and figuratively.

Before our next match is even introduced by the ring announcer, King Kong Bundy and Wild Bill Irwin attack the Freebirds. Eventually, this is too much even for the Freebirds’ opponents, and they make a futile attempt to stop the beat down while the ring announcer pleads for help from the dressing room over the microphone. Eventually, it’s up the the toughest man in WCCW, referee David Manning (see the first match from this show), to restore order and banish Bundy and Irwin back to the dressing room.

After all that, everyone is just about able to carry on, and we have The Fabulous Freebirds, Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy going against Gran Markus II and Destroyer #1. The masked team are managed by, you guessed it, Arman Hussian. The fans absolutely love Hayes and Gordy. Chanting for them for the entire match. The end comes when Gordy flings the Destroyer out of the ring and he and Hayes deliver a spike piledriver to Gran Markus. Post match, Hayes challenges Irwin and Bundy. Hayes describes Bundy as a “washing machine smoking a cigar.”

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Kerry Von Erich sat down for an interview with Bill Mercer, responding to Ric Flair’s comments from a few weeks ago. Kerry has proof that Flair put a bounty on his head, but he won’t give us that proof until he has to, the tease. Talking wasn’t Kerry’s strong suit, especially going head to head with Flair, but I still really want to see them fight.

Another tag team match next, with The Checkmate and The Magic Dragon, along with the hardest working man in Dallas, Arman Hussian, taking on Bugsy McGraw and ‘Big’ Al Madril. Al Madril is still just regular sized, although his hair is enormous. A long competitive match here. For some reason, Checkmate did almost all of the work for his team, although he spent about half of the match curled up in his ‘armadillo’ position. Not much in the way of great action, which is unsurprising since Bugsy McGraw was playing a lovable buffoon character here. The match ended with Madril pinning Magic Dragon, which was all he deserved seeing the poor shift he put in.

The final match of the show is ‘Wild’ Bill Irwin taking on Kevin Von Erich. This match revolved around Kevin putting Irwin in various submission moves, with Irwin always just managing to escape until he was snared in an abdominal stretch in the middle of the ring. In an attempt to grab hold of the referee, he knocked him out, causing a disqualification and giving the win to Von Erich. The end was pretty confusing until the announcers explained what had just happened.

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Who was Danny Angelo?

A fun show. I have to mention the crowd. They loved every minute of this, chanting continuously for everyone who was in the ring. I also want to point out the crowd was predominantly female, probably 70%, but they weren’t just cheering for the handsome young men. Bugsy McGraw was every bit as popular as Kevin Von Erich. Worth watching here are the opening match with Kabuki being promoted as a threat unlike any other in wrestling, and the whole Freebirds match, from the pre-match brawl to Hayes’ excellent post-match speech.

You can watch this show on the WWE Network here.

Follow along as I live-tweet the next show @krisswrestling

Mid-South Wrestling – October 30, 1982

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Another voyage into the unknown as I get my first taste of Mid-South Wrestling today. The show is presented by Boyd Pierce, who I’d always heard had a very interesting choice in suits. Today he’s just wearing a blue three-piece. I’m disappointed. Boyd throws it to Bill Watts who is interviewing Houston promoter Paul Boesch in the crowd, which includes a man in a gorilla suit, about the upcoming matches.

The first match is joined in progress and comes from Houston. Andre the GiantMil Mascaras and Junkyard Dog versus Killer KhanGino Hernandez and Tully Blanchard. Mil Mascaras is the star man here, showing some nice high flying and even a cross-body from the top rope. This is even more impressive given that these are the loosest ring ropes I’ve ever seen. Great finish to the match with Tully throwing Mascaras over the top rope where he’s by Andre, who throws him back over the ropes and onto Tully for the pin. A very creative finish which I’ve never seen before.

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The first match proper for this show is a very bored looking Ted Allen (I think he’s going for intense and failing) against Kamala “The Ugandan Giant”.  Kamala gets a ring entrance with music, so the winner isn’t in much doubt. A complete squash, literally. Kamala is presented as a savage who was discovered in Africa. His entire offence consists of chops and a big splash, and also an Irish whip, which all Ugandan children learn at an early age.

The main event is up now, a no disqualification match for the Mid-South tag team championship. The North American champion Ted DiBiase and Matt Borne face the champions Junkyard Dog and Mr. Olympia. Stipulations galore here, since the loser of the fall must leave Mid-South for 90 days, meaning that DiBiase could be stripped of his title if he’s pinned. JYD is wearing his belt on backwards for some reason, but Mr. Olympia seems to have forgotten his. Great match, with a lot of emphasis on both teams taking advantage of the no disqualification rule. The way Bill Watts called the match really helped tell the story here. The match ends when the gorilla (remember him?) attacks Mr. Olympia, then lays out JYD in the ring, allowing DiBiase to hit him with his loaded glove the pin and the title. We won’t see Junkyard in Mid-South for 90 days, or will we?

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Next up we have Grappler II versus “Mr. U.S.A.” Tony Atlas. Atlas controls most of the patch with some impressive displays of power, then pins Grappler II with a big splash. Interesting that Atlas and Kamala used the same finishing move, something that I always thought was a no-no on the same card.

They are playing up that each match is with television time limit remaining, and that they are all stand-by matches that were scheduled in case the tag team match finished before the television hour finished. A nice little old school touch that you don’t see now.

The next match is “Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez versus Jesse Barr. Another squash match. Barr didn’t really get in any offence, save for an early full nelson. Gorgeous Gino wins after an elbow drop from the second rope, since top-rope moves are banned in Mid-South. Gino poses for the crowd after the match to some light booing.

Paul Boesch interviews Ted DiBiase, Matt Borne Jim Duggan. They gloat about owning all the titles and that Junkyard Dog is out of Mid-South for 90 days. I wonder if they spoke too soon?

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Plenty of standby matches left. Now it’s Marty Lunde against another sequel, Mr. Wrestling II. Lunde had no offence in this match and was pinned after a running knee. Amazing that, hairstyle aside, Lunde looked the same age in 1982 as he did in 1997 when he retired. That age being 39.

One match left, the tag team of Hiro Matsuda and Yoshi Yatsu take on Vinnie Romeo  and Tim Horner. Matsuda pinned Romeo with a pin that was so out of nowhere I had to rewind, because I was watching the other two wrestlers in the ring. The match started very slowly with both men from Japan working over Horner’s leg. I suspect the rapidly ending show time caused the abrupt finish.

That was interesting show. I liked that they put the main event on early, to tease that the match might be a long one. It only went about 12 minutes in the end. Junkyard Dog being pinned and having to leave for 90 days really took the wind out of the crowd, and they weren’t really excited about the four subsequent matches, which were all completely one sided squash matches. Watch this show for the tag title main event, and early signs of future greatness from Ted DiBiase in his post match interview.

This show was rated TV-14 for violence, but it’s extremely tame compared to most of the TV-PG shows produced by WWE today.

You can watch this show on the WWE Network.

I live-tweet these shows as I watch them, along with other wrestling related goodness @krisswrestling.

WCCW Episode 43 – October 15, 1982

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I’ve never watched anything from World Class Championship Wrestling before, and haven’t really watched much of anything from wrestling’s past save from some of the major WWF and NWA shows. The show is presented by Bill Mercer and Jay Saldi.  Saldi was a Dallas Cowboy at the time, and is a surprisingly passable co-host.

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Frank Dusek’s magnificent, magnificent robe.

First up we have Captain Frank Dusek versus David Von Erich. These Texas crowds were very easily pleased, with girls screaming when even Dusek removed his robe. I am less pleased since Captain Frank isn’t in great shape, and we don’t get to see his robe any more. Terrible match. Von Erich is a tall man, but wrestles like a normal sized man, so even a simple maneuver such as ducking under a clothesline looks awkward. Dusek really couldn’t be bothered here, either in his selling or his offence. The match ended with Dusek and the referee getting into a argument, with Von Erich getting a quick roll-up in 4:05 (no, I didn’t time it) after the referee slapped Dusek. I’m not sure what they were going for here, since that ending made everyone look bad, except for referee David Manning, who is apparently a badass who can down a man with a single slap, and of course, Dusek’s robe, which could never look bad.

Straight away, we’re into Jose Lothario and ‘Big’ Al Madril (not big at all) versus the Magic Dragon from Macau and the Checkmate from the Isle of Man, surely the only wrestler to call that his home. The masked tag team are managed by the honorable Arman Hussian, who gives his pre-match speech to his charges in what can only be described as gibberish, which luckily is the official language of both Macau and the Isle of Man. Hussian also constantly blows a whistle. Think Bill Alfonso, but more annoying. Most impressive in this match is the ‘young’ Checkmate. Behind the mask, Checkmate was 42 year-old British wrestler Tony Charles, a 23-year veteran of the mat. The match ends in a very entertaining time limit draw. They really upped the tempo in the last 30 seconds with a lot of quick pin attempts, well as quick as aging referee Bronko Lubich could manage. He could only get down to one knee to count a fall, and that took him at least three seconds.

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Next we have an interview with Ric Flair running down the Von Erichs. This was Ric Flair in softly spoken mode. Something you have to go back into the early 1980s to find. Naturally, it’s a fantastic interview,  and I really want to see Flair take on Kerry Von Erich right now. Ticket sold.

Back to the matches, and it’s Gran Markus II, another in the stable of Armand Hussian, who still has his infernal whistle, against The Samoan, not a Samoan, but The Samoan. Well, that was a match. Gran Markus II won with what the WWE Network called a senton splash and Bill Mercer more accurately called a flying body drop. Bronko Lubich again taking so long to get down to make the count that I was worried he wouldn’t be able to get up again.

The final match on today’s show is Roberto Renesto versus the man that we’ve been hearing about since the show started “The Fabulous Freebird” Michael Hayes. Bill Mercer can’t decide whether to describe Hayes as “cool” or “way out”. He’s down with the kids. After a match that was 90% stalling from Renesto and strutting from Hayes, admittedly one of the finest strutters in the game, Hayes finished off Renesto with a bulldog followed by a piledriver. Hayes, 240 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal, gives a great speech after the match promosing to bring along brother Terry Gordy soon. We also learn that, back in 1982, Bad Street was in Party Town on Planet Rock, rather than Atlanta, GA.

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The show ends with Bill Mercer and Joe Saldi hyping next week’s card. A fun show. I really enjoyed Saldi bringing up what the wrestlers had done in other territories previously, it gave a nice little insight into what it might have been like to be a fan back in the territory days. Next week’s main event will be Michael Hayes versus Wild Bill Irwin, but that isn’t on the WWE Network yet, unfortunately, so we’ll have to make do with something else. I can recommend this show for the tag team match, the Ric Flair interview, Michael Hayes post-match in-ring work and, of course, Frank Dusek’s robe.

You can watch this show on the WWE Network.

Check out my twitter @krisswrestling.

WWE Old School

Pretty simple idea, with this blog, I’ll be reviewing anything and everything on the WWE Network, starting with the oldest shows and working forward. One rule. Only the non WWE shows. Why? Why not? Follow @krisswrestling to see me live tweet the shows I’ll be blogging about.