The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPN Classic (08.17.11)

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The SmarK Rant for AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPN Classic (08.17.11)

– Taped from Las Vegas, NV

– Your hosts are Larry Nelson and Lee Marshall, and we’re in early 1988, since Curt Hennig is still champion.

Baron Von Raschke v. Pistol Pete

Baron takes Pete down with a hiptoss, and adds an elbowdrop and a creepy smile.  What a babyface.  He looks like Chris Hansen should be showing up and asking him to take a seat.  Pistol Pete tries to make a comeback, but Baron pokes him in the eye and gives him the 10 turnbuckle shots.  He pounds away and gets a god-awful backdrop, then finishes with the IRON CLAW at 2:40.  The “thousands in attendance” appear to be about 100 people judging by the embarrassingly empty sea of seats.

Ricky Morton shows up to cut a random promo after getting fired from the NWA.

Rocky Mountain Thunder v. Daryl Nickle

Try to guess which one is the jobber!  It’s Nickle, but either one would be a valid guess based on the names.  Mr. Thunder looks like the lovechild of Blackjack Mulligan and one of the guys from FUBAR’d.  There’s actually a story behind this goof that’s far more interesting than his short career in the ring, as the character was supposedly intended for a football player who wanted to wrestle, but he no-showed and they were so enamored of the gimmick that they gave it to a jobber who looked big.  The jobber was basically some indy goof who actually flew himself to the tapings in Vegas and offered to work for free, thinking the exposure would help his career. Given that no one saw him again after his few weeks on this show, that theory would be proven wrong.  Thunder tosses the jobber around and then sends him to the floor for no adequately explored reason, and back for a powerslam and the big splash to finish at 2:00.  He managed to fuck up a big splash and almost overshot the jobber in the process, that’s all you need to know.  Not quite Great Khali levels of bad, but holy shit was this guy terrible.  Nickle had a pretty good look for a job guy, they should have pushed him instead.

Greg Gagne introduces footage of Billy Robinson v. Ray Stevens from a random European match for some reason.  It’s JIP at about 15:00, with Robinson tossing Stevens out and accidentally running him into the ringbell.  Back in, Stevens tries to put Robinson into the boston crab, but Billy reverses out and backslides him for the pin.

The Big K (Who?) offers advice to Pat Tanaka in advance of his TV title shot at Greg Gagne and offers his managerial services to a variety of heels.

Curt Hennig, cutting a promo from what looks like someone’s bathroom, has words for Wahoo McDaniel before their title match, LATER TONIGHT.  He points at the camera a lot, so you know he means business.

International TV title:  Greg Gagne v. Pat Tanaka

Not just a TV title, but an INTERNATIONAL title.  Tanaka taunts Gagne and runs away a lot to start, but Gagne takes him down with a wristlock.  Tanaka claims a hairpull, so the ref forces a break.  I’m having trouble recapping the intense action here, as a 10:00 draw seems inevitable unless someone drops dead from a heart attack.  Come to think of it, that’s about the only way anyone was going to get that vanity belt off of Greg.  Greg really ramps things up with a side headlock takedown, as Rod Trongard is STILL apoplectic over how Badd Company cheated and won the tag titles.  Actually I recall it was a pretty clean win, all things considered.  Tanaka reverses to a headscissors, but Gagne goes right back to that headlock as we’re already at 5:00  with absolutely nothing happening.  Tanaka makes the ropes and Lee Marshall is all “LOOK OUT, IT’S PAUL DIAMOND!” and then of course nothing happens.  And now, it’s another favorite, as Tanaka plays the game of “hide the foreign object” to really rile up the 100 people in the crowd and takes over on Gagne.  A fan’s sign really sums up the hatred of the fans for Tanaka’s tactics:  “Boo”.  Boo, indeed.  Tanaka tosses Gagne out for some damage from Diamond, but Gagne comes back with a backdrop and makes the comeback.  Dropkick and he hooks the dreaded GAGNE SLEEPER, but Diamond hooks the leg and Tanaka falls on top for two.  Gagne chases after him, and the ref calls for the DQ at 8:45, which gives Tanaka the win.  I don’t really get that one, but Trongard is positively aghast at the shoddy quality of the refereeing as of late.  I think only a sign in the crowd saying “Boo” could sum up the injustice here.  If you can’t trust the integrity of a professional wrestling referee, what can you trust?   *1/2

AWA World title:  Curt Hennig v. Wahoo McDaniel

Hennig makes the mistake of trading chops in the corner, and winds up on the floor.  A sign there declares that Hennig is “Minnesota’s Grossest Athlete”.  That’s just hurtful.  Back in  the ring, Wahoo grabs a headlock, so Hennig bails to escape and stalls for a bit.  Back in, Wahoo pounds him with chops and we get some quality selling from Hennig, as he bumps to the floor yet again.  Back in, Hennig finally gets a cheapshot and takes over, stomping Wahoo down and then getting into a slugfest.  He takes out Wahoo’s knee and works on a stepover toehold while holding the ropes.  Wahoo is somehow bleeding now, because why not?  Wahoo fights back with the big chop for two, and Trongard is once again complaining about the refereeing.  Wahoo suplexes him for two.  Hennig bails to the apron and takes some chops, but shoulderblocks him down and gets the pin at 9:11 with his feet on the ropes.  I swear Rod Trongard was on the verge of going down to ringside and pulling a gun on anyone wearing a referee shirt by the end here.  **1/4  Afterwards, Wahoo suggests that the only solution is to settle things in a cage match.  Uh, I don’t really follow his logic there.  Hennig could still have pinned him with his feet on the ropes in a cage match.

I’m never going to get to sleep tonight thinking about the refereeing problem in America.  That’s what Obama should be concentrating on!