AWA Superstars 13th of March, 1988.
Like a blogging Scott Bakula, my quantum leaping through the ages brings me back to the AWA this time in the year 1988 to see just what the past has in store for me. This time out is a special St Patrick’s day edition of AWA’s version of Superstars and Larry Nelson is in the mood to celebrate with his co host Kathleen. Instead of the traditional celebrations of copious drinking and sudden views on political union, Kathleen’s idea of tribute is to decorate Larry’s face in shiny Shamrock stickers. The Faith and begora continues as the screen turns green, because Ireland I guess. Anyway during this we learn that today’s show will feature Bad Company in action, the legendary Baron Von Raschke and The Midnight Rockers facing recent arrivals the Nasty Boys in the main event.
A surprise familiar face appears as the action moves back to the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas for the first match pitting Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond of Bad Company against Tim Patterson and Greg Robertson. The familiar person in question is Lee Marshall, the late former WCW personality and weasel joke enthusiast who in addition to doing introductions also joins Ron Trongard on commentary and I must say for someone new to his role, Marshall’s deep voice and enthusiasm is actually pleasant to listen to. That might not sound too encouraging but (spoiler) this show is a little light on enjoyment.
This is a good old-fashioned squash match to highlight the future Orient Express, Bad Company as a force within the tag team ranks. Patterson and Robertson barely make any impact on the match before Robertson falls prey to a lovely catapult from Diamond into a DDT by Tanaka to finish off the match. The finisher was something very special indeed and would make for a great tag move even now but the match was perfunctory at best.
A un-stickered Larry Nelson interviews Wahoo McDaniel in a buffer segment before the next match, Wahoo praises Bad Company for their decisive win before expressing his wish to wrestle Curt Hennig for the AWA Championship. So it looks in the time since I last checked out the AWA Hennig finally got his mitts on the big belt after all. He speaks authoritatively and confidently and it’s hard not to be entranced by McDaniel’s promo.
Despite being on in the middle of the show, the second match is the Main Event and sees Baron Von Raschke face Sheik Adnan Al Kaissie, who is perhaps more well-known in his turn inciting race hate while standing next to Sgt. Slaughter as “General Adnan” in the WWF when it felt the need to exploit the Gulf War for our “entertainment”.
Jumping Raschke at the bell, the two “legends” proceed to have one of the most boring matches I have ever witnessed. Kaissie’s main move seems to be a back rake as he repeatedly uses it on the Baron. His other big move is to bail out of the ring to antagonize the crowd which he also does with irritating regularity. Raschke’s moveset seems to meekly flail his limbs at Adnan in an effort to lock in his Claw finisher. He manages this but Kaissie falls out of the ring to escape and before the Baron can apply it again, Adnan retrieves a spike from his singlet and stabs Raschke in the head and right hand with it in full view of the referee, getting disqualified in the process. Raschke manages to send Adnan fleeing to the locker room despite his claw hand being damaged and in a post match interview with Lee Marshall, he promises revenge when next they meet. This was absolutely tedious from start to finish. Both of these men were far too old even here to make this interesting with far too much stalling and woeful action when it did occur. Raschke especially looked positively ancient here and no amount of skill or charisma could make me shake the feeling that I was watching a kindly geography teacher goose-stepping around the ring.
Time for the main event. The Midnight Rockers put their tag team championship up against the Nasty Boys. It’s amazing to see just how little the Nasties changed over their careers, here they are looking exactly as they did when I first encountered them in the WWF and in the second volume of Clinton years when they returned to WCW in 1994. A little slimmer perhaps but weren’t we all back then. The story here is that the big, strong Nasty Boys are well, big and strong and it’s up to the Rockers to use their superior speed and technique to overcome the Nasties’ onslaught. Knobbs and Sags do eventually get their hands on Shawn Michaels and take turns battering the poor guy from pillar to post until a superkick from nowhere gives Michaels the chance to tag Marty Jannetty who after holding off both opponents, dives off the top rope to catch Knobbs with a crossbody to keep the titles around the waists of the Rockers. Standard fare for sure but this was by far the most entertaining thing on the show.
After Greg Gagne reveals to Larry Nelson that Raschke’s hand is indeed injured as a result of Adnan’s spike attack, a wild Russian appears! Soldat Ustinov walks into camera to swear revenge on Raschke on behalf of Sheik Kaissie. A burly Russian paired with an evil Sheik? In the words of Morrisey, stop me of you think that you’ve heard this one before.
“How Irish is Larry?” is the tease leading into the last segment where Larry and Kathleen hype the next show’s main event of Jerry Lawler vs Curt Hennig as a sea of shamrocks cover Larry’s face. That leaves me with an even worse taste in my mouth as that episode isn’t part of my particular timeline, instead I got an okay match, a squash match and an exercise in absolute tedium before I leap through the time stream once more. Steer clear of this one peoples and look elsewhere for your retro kicks.
Thanks for reading.
Martin Dixon ( @BunnySuicida ).