Chat! culturecrossfire.slack.com

Brody and Friends talk about the AWA (Brody has no friends)

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster

If I read that the Russian Brute died in January, I've already forgotten.

I was 7 when this match aired and it was big time stuff. Mr. GI Joe vs A nasty giant Russian! Ox Baker looked like a monster and cut great promos. He'd move on to managing young Bryan Clarke as the Nightstalker in the AWA before both men signed with WCW.

The bitter end of 1989/90 AWA still resonates in my heart. (I already have 1989 TV in reasonably full form on DVD, I really should order a 1990 set).
Curtis Hughes made his national TV debut as one of Sarge's TCM squad. Sarge cut the promo, Hughes' contribution is a snarling "meow".
The Texas Hangmen as the new heel team. One episode was to have Tommy Jammer and the Baron face them in the main event, but one of the Hangmen loaded his mask and head butted the Baron during a promo. I can't recall if Jammer fought 2 on 1 or another hoser took the spot, but it stuck with me to see the Baron hurt!
The Yukon Lumberjacks goofy gimmick. They dressed like my Daddy and were hosses!! From the actual results, it doesn't seem like they teamed too many times, and Norton vanished again (Japan?) leaving Yukon John to wrestle solo and cut promos about reading the bible or somesuch.
Rookie Scott Norton in 89 was calling out Hogan, Flair, Larry Z, Tyson, etc on TV and challenging them to arm wrestle. IIRC Norton left the AWA for a bit or whatever, so Larry finally showed up on the arm wrestling set and cut a promo on Norton being a chicken.
The Olympians! Brad Rheingans and Ken Patera finally beat Badd Company to end a long reign as tag champs. They ran an angle soon after where Enos and Bloom challenged them to a car lifting competition. After Patera showed them up, the heels attacked and injured both men. Patera wound up vanishing, but Brad came back eventually.
I recall a tag match in a cage where Enos/Bloom hit the Doomsday Device on Patera with an overhead camera capturing the move. It may have been a different babyface honestly.
b3fa298da8a6ee7fb2269aadab8bbedd.jpg

The PINK ROOM OF DOOM tapings! I was watching this unfold as it happened. IIRC Eric Bischoff came on TV and plugged the AWA 1900 number asking fans to call in and vote if the AWA should return to ringside fans being in attendance. The taping was done in storyline to prevent heel interference.
The Trooper (Del Wilkes) was doing an off brand Big Bossman gimmick, but I liked him a lot.
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster

I was around 4 when this aired and it HORRIFIED me. Even watching in the current day the bump Snuka takes off the top rope (7:50) is brutal! Then Snuka takes a piledriver on the cement and blades a gusher!!! Some ringside fans appear ready to attack Col Debeers.
Only flaw is Snuka put Larry Z out of position for the finish. Snuka had to climb up a certain corner with his back to the entryway so Debeers could sneak attack him.
---
Larry Nelson had a zany personality. It's a shame the WWF never stole him instead of taking Verne's long time buddies Rod Trongard and Rodger Kent.

---
Vince McMahon outright trolls Verne in an early TNT episode. He shows new comer Mad Dog Vachon walking out (I think in the Twin Cities) but not the match or clips. Then he has Hogan cut a promo on how the DeRusha's are now in the WWF running the cameras. If it was on the Twin Cities syndicated feed...ok....but national TV?

---
Verne was credited with being a good pay off guy, but maybe the Minnesota land grab of his land and ensuing years of litigation changed his view? There are stories all over 84-86 of Verne screwing with paydays (once the bottom fell out in the Summer of 86, it's more understandable). I am unsure when the Minnesota lawsuits began.
Brody almost quit after headlining a big card in a six man because Verne split the main event pie 6 ways and Brody only got 900 bucks.
Jim Brunzell was not paid for his Remco royalties and had to sue.
The Road Warriors no showed ESPN tapings looking for more money and travel perks.
Crockett and Verne had almost a 90K difference in the SuperClash 1 attendance money. Verne may have claimed it for himself. Nonetheless, JCP stopped doing Pro Wrestling USA for the most part in response.
--
Verne actually brought in a different batch of talent for Pro Wrestling USA to help replace other promoters dropping out of PWUSA. For one or 2 tapings the Samoans, The Youngbloods, Kendo Nagasaki, the Tonga Kid, and others were pretty much just the "east coast" roster to supplement a few AWA stars who would work on top.
It looks like a lot of the PWUSA videos were scrubbed off Youtube. One of these B-team tapings had a dude named the Mighty Zulu or something like that have an awful awful match against a jobber. I can't find it. Tonga Kid debuted 3 months or so after leaving the WWF after a string of no showing main events where the 18/19 year old was teaming with Snuka vs. Piper and his cronies. Kid came on PWUSA and cut a promo on Piper and Orndorff (and they aired it!) only 3 weeks or so before Mania 1.
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster

Star Wars 85:
The event drew over 18,000 fans. The main event was a tag team battle royal with Road Warriors,Ivan & Nikita Koloff, Greg Gagne & Jim Brunzell, Kamala & Billy Robinson, Jay & Mark Youngblood, Jerry Lawler & Baron Von Raschke, Bob Backlund & Jimmy Valiant (a sub for Carlos Colon), Mr. Saito & the Masked Superstar, Nick Bockwinkel & Dory Funk Jr., Jimmy Garvin & Larry Zbyszko, Jerry Oski & Steve Keirn and Sgt. Slaughter & Jerry Blackwell. Blackwell was removed from the match for failing his blood pressure test done by the state commission. Some speculation arose that the promoters forgot to bribe someone and thus the negative test resulted, but I am not unconvinced that it wasn’t just an angle to put over Sarge as he went in alone and won the match without any help.

The card also saw NWA champ Ric Flair pin Harley Race. AWA champ Rick Martel came up short against Garvin as he was disqualified for throwing Jimmy Jam over the top rope. The AWA tag champion Road Warriors beat Baron Von Raschke (subbing for Tommy Rich) and Jerry Lawler when the Baron was pinned. Ivan and Nikita Koloff bested Jimmy Valiant (a sub for Stan Lane) and Steve Kiern. Larry Zbyszko, Nick Bockwinkel and Dory Funk Jr. bested the Youngbloods and Jimmy Valiant. Kamala squashed two jobbers, Billy Robinson (replacing Ray Stevens) fell to Bob Backlund and Jim Brunzell and Greg Gagne took Mr. Saito and the Masked Superstar to a draw.

As you can tell, the card was littered with replacements. Terry Funk missed the show in order to tape a TV series and Ray Stevens was never planning on coming as he had told Verne for months that he did not want to come out of retirement. The Baron was the original partner for Jerry Blackwell, but he was “hurt” by the Road Warriors on PWUSA TV and Slaughter stepped up to take his spot.


--
Another note from a non-WON newsletter of the time says Race and Dory were almost pulled from the show as the WWF had the commissioners challenge whether they were under 45 years old. NY had a rule against wrestlers being any older.
 

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster
New Jersey had weird licensing issues which led to Vince McMahon having to publicly admit wrestling was staged (Brody's forefathers gasp) in the late '80s in order for WWF to be able to run there and WWF not running any televised events there for almost a decade.

Then again, New York City also banned MASKED WRESTLERS for decades so who knows.
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster
I’ve seen too many Moolah matches at MSG to buy that last bit, but maybe they meant New Jersey?
I think the green blinded a lot of "rules" from enforcement.

--
Kamala do u know the ironic story of the first masked man to work in a hood in MSG? (late 70s IIRC)
 

snuffbox

Integral Poster
In their heyday, the AWA was doing things like this:

8/3/65 – Davenport, IA @ the Municipal Stadium
Cage Match: The Crusher defeated Harley Race
Death Match: Verne Gagne defeated Larry Hennig
Tex McKenzie defeated Tiny Mills
Pampero Firpo defeated Rene Goulet
Danny Hodge defeated Chris Markoff

Result from: http://crazymax.org/newsite/results/awa-results-1965

I wish I'd been born 50 years earlier. That would've been worth a few hour drive.
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster
The angle where Greg Gagne promises a mystery partner to face whatever pair of heels he was up against, only to pull Pampero Firpo, THE WILD BULL OF THE PAMPAS out to the ring sounded awesome when Cornette told it on the Wrestling Gold DVDs. I can only hope its locked away in the WWF vault.

--
Cegh4zxWQAEyCGr.jpg:large



After having a successful run vs Bruno in the WWWF, Verne decided to change Volkoff's name for his AWA run because there had been a Nikolai Volkoff who wrestled in like the 40s and 50s. The first guy was a fake Russian.
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster
I was just listening to Peter Winson breaking down why Andy Kaufman would not have worked in various other territories, which reminded me that Mr. T's people supposedly went to the AWA first in 1984 (Chicago being his home and the AWA strong hold) and was turned down (due to $$$$ demands IIRC).
So there's a strange alternative universe where Wrestlemania takes place in Chicago, with Hogan and T tangling with Nick Bockwinkel and Bobby Heenan, while Verne and Wally Karbo argue in the back with Greg about what "Pay Per View" is.
Co-main: Kozrow Vaziri and Boris Breznikoff vs the High Flyers.
 
As someone who watched AWA reruns before going to eighth grade on the specialty Canadian fight channel, I’m disappointed the initial post was like the worst year for the fed lmao

The Rockers and therefore HBK, Mr. Perfect, Scott Hall, DDP, HULK HOGAN these are just some of the names off the top of my head that perfected their craft in the AWA and would not be who they were without it. All these guys showed up super green and they all left to become stars within a couple of years of leaving, save DDP.

Verne had a lot of respect from talent and in a way was great at holding onto them because of his background in the business as well as the fact that he trained so many people. But that was also his downfall because he held on too tightly to the old school and alienated his potentially loaded roster.

oh man how could I forget about the Road Warriors! Obviously they had better matches elsewhere but their best squashes were in the AWA. Straight up Powerslam City.
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster
Was Verne's movie any good? I've always been curious.
Depends how you choose to view it, If you know 70s AWA guys, there's tons of cameos to enjoy. Jabronis like Bull Bullinski and Scrap Iron Gadasky I think even appear aside from much bigger names. The Texas Outlaws steal the movie in one scene.
Verne pitches in the movie to the real Vince McMahon Sr (maybe Jim Crockett Sr also, I can't recall who the 3 promoters in the scene are) about unifying the world title. Verne has to defend himself for being unmarketable due to his age and baldness. He names Dory Jr as being NWA champ despite being balding too.
Billy Robinson is the main antagonist, but I can't recall if he heels it up. I feel they are trying to build to a old man Verne vs young sensation Billy Robinson title match in a face vs face way. Billy's big finish is the dropkick.
It's played straight.
Ed Asner plays a key role, and I THINK there's a side story where he wants to bang his secretary or something like that. I bet it plays well in 2021 eyes.

God Damn it, I'm going to have to get my DVD out this weekend. They sold it in the dollar bins at Wal-mart with a fake cover like a decade ago. Probably trying to confuse the market with Mickey Rouke's movie.
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster

Oh yeahhhhh...just the first 30 seconds makes me want to watch it all!

--
 
Last edited:

Valeyard

Burn
Everyone playing themselves except Verne and Robinson is really funny. Greg even got to be Greg. Also Horst Hoffman is a name I haven't heard in a long time.
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster
Also Horst Hoffman is a name I haven't heard in a long time.
7179c2bb8fa7ff586ef856d0b61a9ffc.jpg

Nazis are always picking on those Pollacks.

---
awa.jpg

Of all the territories to take a Kayfabe breaking group photo... If the old timers ever explained this, I've forgotten the answer.
---


When Verne was doing his endless AWA title run August 31, 1968 - November 8, 1975, he began to really cut back in the ring. Da Crusher and a rotation of partners were generally in the mix on the top of the cards with Verne AWOL.
Here's his total defenses for 1973 for example:
02/09Chicago, ILBlackjack MulliganW
02/26New York, NYEddie Graham (non-title?)W (14:35)
03/04Green Bay, WISuperstar Billy GrahamL (DQ)
05/05Chicago, ILJimmy ValiantW
06/30Minneapolis, MNBill RobinsonW
07/14Milwaukee, WISuperstar Billy GrahamW (DQ)
07/25Honolulu, HISuperstar Billy GrahamW (DQ)
08/13Davenport, IANick BockwinkelW
08/16Winnipeg, MB, CANSuperstar Billy GrahamW (18min pin)
08/25St. Paul, MNBill RobinsonL (DQ)
09/23Sapporo, JPNStrong KobayashiL (34:20 DQ)
09/27Nagoya, JPNStrong KobayashiW (21:11)
11/14Honolulu, HIEd FrancisW
11/27Omaha, NESuperstar Billy GrahamW (DQ)
12/01St. Paul, MNNick BockwinkelW (17min pin)
12/14Chicago, ILNick BockwinkelL (DQ)

One spot show (if Davenport isn't considered a big market????) and nearly a 3rd of his defenses taking place outside of AWA territory.

When Bock took over in Nov 75, he had 5 defenses in before the end of the year.
 

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster
Isn’t Davenport one of the Quad Cities? Combined it’s like four small markets making a medium ish sized market. It’s probably considered a big market by territory standards
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster


I'm almost positive I watched the first match at my Grandma's house. Mr GI JOE Sgt Slaughter fighting for the World title on Sunday morning wrasslin! Sarge goes for "Slaughter's Cannon" but Larry dodges and the ref is wiped out instead. Sarge goes on to win the match when a second ref comes in, only for the result to be overturned when the first ref recovers.

I have no recollection of the rematch with 2 refs. but that first match's finish is definitely etched into my head.
---
 

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster
If you haven't listened to them already, @BruiserBrody , you should seek out the episodes of "Pro Wrestling Spotlight- Then & Now" where they interview Larry Z. There's one from Summer/Fall of '90 where he talks about how he beat that fat loser Sgt. Slaughter out of the AWA. Also lot of talk about how the Anabolic Warrior is too afraid to face him in a Title Vs Title match lol.
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster

I mentioned a few days ago about Verne bringing in his own B-team to run PWUSA towns with. I thought the African worked as Zulu, but he was actually "Power Uti". He and Mr. Tossell have a rough go as they blow several spots. Uti was a star in his native land IIRC for years. Tossell, perhaps upset that the crack AWA staff couldn't bother to spell his first or last name on the TV screen properly, would go on to work outlaw vs Verne a few years later.

I'm going to do a lil write up in this thread on the AWA Outlaw groups one of these days.
 

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster
Great Power Uti probably works to this day in Nigeria, going over the WWE undercard talent of 5-10 years ago. Luke Gallows and Cliff Compton have a great story about working him in the mid 2010s.
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster

Kind of funny that Verne gets the "out of touch" label while booking a ladder match 7+ years before Vince, and had at least one 3 way dance match at least 7 years before the WWF did. (4-5 years before ECW popularized the gimmick.)
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster

I've always wondered how Bob Roop managed to not have a big run in the AWA given his NCAA and Olympic wrestling credentials. Here Roop says Roop saw how Jim Raschke was "forced"/made to be a ring crew guy for a year meanwhile Roop went to Florida and got a push from Eddie Graham right away. Plus Verne snubbed Roop at the 72 Olympics for whatever reason, so Roop felt he was an ass.
 

AboveAverage484

Integral Poster
So I watched a bunch of AWA lately and something about it just seems... off. It's just kind of bland compared to Memphis, Mid-South, World Class, etc. I enjoyed what I saw but it is definitely my least favorite of the "big" non-WWF/Crockett promotions of the 80s.

However, I will say that I love Nick Bockwinkel. Underrated talker, too. I saw a promo where he explained how his sleeper differed in legality from Greg Gagne's and he was just so pissed off while explaining it that I believed him! Heenan, of course, was another highlight of early 80s AWA. Also, Hogan was monstrously over after Rocky III, even more so than I had originally thought.
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster
Yeah the TV isn't going to compare to most of the other big groups. The promos carried the show and the wrestling was going to be squashes on anything pre ESPN for the most part.
 
Top