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What, Beefcake? Put him and Sandy Duncan together and they have two not-wonky eyes.
I'm pretty sure there is a CHV where Spivey even does the big boot/leg drop combo (I only remember that because Scooter Keith took him to task for it in his review).Dan Spivey even wore the same trunks as Hulkster and didn’t they play up the fact that they went to the same high school?
I love career arcs like Kevin Kelly’s. Start as a blue chipper, bright eyed babyface and end us a grizzled, wild man veteran. See also Salvatore Bellomo (although Idk if Sal ever worked Verne’s territory haha)
I was thinking at work today that VInce even took Baron during the summer, I wonder if Vince saw Crockett bankrupting in spring and decided to go all in on killing off Verne once and for all?I mean, technically, Verne did push him like he would Hogan or Crusher. Technical guy as champ (/Bockwinkel/Hennig) and Hall was the powerhouse guy being put in with the top guys, except by the time Hall got there, the top guys were not guys who were going to draw serious money.
IIRC Hall came in right about the same time they got ESPN (late Aug 85) and he was in the mix with the "top guys" into 1986 and in and out in 1987.
From recent youtube viewings, I'm willing to stamp June/July of 88 as the AWA's bottom period. They had just lost the Rockers and Hennig was wrapping up, so they had NOTHING on top. They made Ricky Rice and Derrick Dukes into Rockers clones, Bad Company were basically the top heels and they and World champ Lawler spent as much time doing territory shots as they did AWA High school charity shots.
Baron VR feuding with Ustinov and Khan was basically their top angle once Hennig was done.
They had to join WCCW and Memphis to fill out TV,
Here's a random east coast show from the period, drawing a healthy 42 fans!
6/24/88 – New Haven, CT
AWA Tag Team Champions Badd Company Pat Tanaka & Paul Diamond dcor Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson
AWA Champion Jerry Lawler defeated Curt Hennig
Wahoo McDaniel dcor Manny Fernandez
Madusa Macelli defeated Heidi Lee Morgan
Cheetah Kid defeated Cactus Jack
Damien Kane defeated Ray Odyssey
Reported Attendance: 42
(Morton would quit almost right after this and be back on TBS. Wahoo and Manny feuded for another 8 months.)
A month later and this appears to maybe be the only actual house show AWA ran this month They did tape TV (with Rocky Mountain Thunder appearing!) to keep the mirage of a promotion alive.
7/29/88 – Two Rivers, WI
Wahoo McDaniel defeated Teijo Khan
Baron Von Raschke defeated Soldat Ustinov
AWA Tag Team Champions Badd Company Pat Tanaka & Paul Diamond defeated Top Guns John Paul & Ricky Rice
Greg Gagne defeated Terminator Riggs via DQ
Terminator Wolf defeated Stoney Burke
If there's a deeper dive into this match I'd love to hear/read it.
Didn't see a thread about this, but RMT was originally supposed to be former Denver Broncos defensive lineman Greg Boyd. Boyd didn't show up for the taping.
They gave the gimmick to a California indy guy named (I believe) Dean De La Rosa, who had worked in CA as The Armored Saint. They (allegedly) did this because AWA had already created a TV graphic for someone named "Rocky Mountain Thunder". Why let it go to waste, right?
hunder was an Eddie Sharkey guy - "discovered" IIRC by John Nord - RMT was another bar bouncer turned wrestler basically. I think he may have actually been related to Nord somehow.
Thunder didnt have much training, worked that short couple months for Verne, exclusively in squashes, then went away.
I believe he may have worked briefly for Sharkey's PWA about 3-4 years later, but I'm not sure.
If only the racism was only wrestling related. I have a few family stories....
Guest Booker Greg Gagne 1985
I should start by saying I’m a Greg Gagne apologist. The Greg hate stems from Gagne being a victim of circumstance. He was derided for being on top of a dying promotion that his Daddy owned and thus was an easy target to mock. His physique looked bad in the steroid era – but he was able to look legit in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I feel Greg was a real solid talent and could even cut a good promo every now and then.
His much mocked megapush only stemmed from the fact that the AWA’s other top options after Hogan left all didn’t pan out for one reason or another: Martel (charisma deficit) Da Crusher (Nostalgia couldn’t hide his age forever) Road Warriors (Jumped ship for big money) Blackwell (Mounting injuries and obesity issues) Sgt Slaughter (skills eroding, one note gimmick and demanding a big guarantee to appear at shows).
Snuka came in when the AWA was enjoying its last gasp of success – WrestleRock 86 in April – business dropped off almost right after the 20k+ attending a big name laden effort in the Metrodome (Brody, Rotondo, Windham, Race, Kamala and many others came in from out side of the AWA spectrum). Snuka had drug issues of course and was stuck in a somewhat tasteless racist feud with the talented vet Col Debeers. Snuka left mid-program (drugs???) and then came back months later and failed to re-ignite the heat that had been building. BTW – if you haven’t seen the Snuka/Debeers angle that started that feud – FIND IT NOW! An exhausted Snuka is about to finish off IIRC Larry Zybysko via a Superfly Splash in a No. 1 contender’s match – when Col Debeers trots out, knocks Snuka to the floor and pile drives him onto the concrete. Snuka bleeds like crazy and the fans are disgusted with Debeers – The Col. Is almost attacked by several of the front row patrons as he gloats over Snuka’s broken body. Fantastic stuff.
Got off track there – my bad – Greg had one final thing go against him, his partner Jim Brunzell jumping ship to the WWF in the Summer of 85 left Greg without a go to option for working tags on top of the card and being a legit tag title contender. Brunzell leaving and Mr Saito being jailed ruined the AWA’s big plans for the mid- late 1985 timeline as Jim and Greg were to spend much of the time attempting to avenge Verne Gagne being assaulted by Saito and Bockwinkel during a big card on April 21, 1985.
Brunzell was replaced on top when Sgt Slaughter – fresh off a hot WWF run – took Gagne into his boot camp and made him wear fatigues that exposed Greg’s belly button and a head band – “Rambo” Greg Gagne was born! Worse yet – when the AWA put the boot camp angle on a VHS release, they replaced the original music (IIRC Bruce Springstein’s “Glory Days”) with something that sounded vaguely porno worthy.
The premise for this “Guest Booker” is Greg Gagne is given the head booker spot of Pro Wrestling USA in late 1984– without the politics stopping the promotions from dissolving the group into oblivion.
Gagne says Vince stole talent and angles from the other promotions. Verne tried to combine all the territorial promoters together to fend off McMahon’s assault. Greg says Vince bribed his way into established time slots and cut off the ability for others to expand and sustain their territories.
Greg memory is bad as he thinks “The Crusher and Mad Dog in a cage” was planned for San Fran in 84 and Vince stole the TV and cut off the ability for AWA to run there. Greg then claims AWA nationally was getting “a 25 rating and a 60 share nationally” MALARKEY!!! Sean Oliver gently tries to call him on his tall tales.
He then claims Vince bribed AWA local promoters with upwards of 250K to switch to the WWF brand.
Greg says the concept was screwed from the start as Watts, Crockett, Verne, Jarrett etc had huge egos and all wanted Pro Wrestling USA to be in their vision.
Vince would rent arenas in 3 year clips to block anyone from getting any shots. Greg regrets not suing Vince over that now.
Jim Crockett tried to steal the AWA’s top babyface Jerry Blackwell at the very 1st PW USA card. Greg says Verne felt all southern promoters other than Jim Barnett were untrustworthy.
Greg jumps head to 1988 and says the SuperClash PPV was suppose to be divided up by promotional lines and each territory was suppose to pay for their own talent. Then each promoter told their talent that Verne was in charge of pay offs – so Verne got all the heat when everyone was stiffed.
Greg says in the Summer of 83, Vince came to Verne and offered to buy the AWA. Verne had partners including Wilbur Snyder and Dick the Bruiser among others who had to be bought out too and they refused. Vince then told Verne “I don’t negotiate!” and soon after Hogan jumped ship.
Greg says Hogan vs Bockwinkel in a cage was planned for April 84 – and Hogan was going over for the belt. Greg says the fall of 83 saw Andre and Hogan have a confrontation during a battle royal (this is legit – I’ve seen it) and it was to lead to a series of Andre vs Hogan matches that February to set up Hogan’s big title win. Greg claims Hogan made 17 grand his last week of AWA matches.
Greg claims Verne ran a PPV out of Milwaukee in 1983 – I assume he’s misremembering a close circuit event or something.
Greg tells an amusing story of rookie Iron Shiek saying “Dropkicks urrr BULLSHIAT!!” So Verne takes him to the barn and KO’s Shieky Baby w/ a flying kick to the mush.
Now we dive into the actual “Fantasy Booking”:
Greg says he was against going to New York – he thinks the promotions should have run big shows in each of their core areas.
Greg explains the difficulty of trying to appease all the promoters who each had their own booking styles. Some hot shotted – Dusty loved blood – AWA ran very few angles and dragged them out through the year etc
Greg claims the AWA flopped in attendance every summer – says Hogan drew 260K in March and 60K in May in back to back trips to one particular arena to validate his point.
Greg “drafts” Ted Dibiase, Dr Death Steve Williams, Butch Reed, and Kamala from Mid South – Terry Funk, Dory Funk , Slaughter, Tony Atlas and Harley Race from the indies – Kerry Von Erich, Jake Roberts, Freebirds and Jim Cornette from World Class – Rock and Roll Express, Savage and Lawler from Memphis Bockwinkel, Blackwell, Road Warriors, Brunzell, Greg Gagne, Baron Von Rasche and Billy Robinson from AWA – Flair, Magnum TA, Dusty, Ole, Arn, Tully, Nikita and Ivan from JCP
“The Freebirds were a pain in the ass and drunk most of the time – missing shows left and right”
Greg lets Sean Oliver pick the PW USA champ, so as to not show bias – he takes Ric Flair. Then Sean takes the RnR Express as tag champs. – Greg agrees w/ Flair and says the Andersons would have been his tag team pick.
Greg says Cornette goes with the Andersons because the Midnight Express wouldn’t get over nationally.
Greg switches the tag belts to Tully and Arn – who beat the RnR Express in August in this version of history. They are booking from Oct 84 to April 85 – which is a Supercard
Oct – Tully/Arn vs RnR Express – Cornette gets Tully/Arn DQ’d
Nov – Tully/Arn vs RnR Express (No DQ rule) – Ole runs in
Dec – Tully/Arn/Ole vs RnR Express/Kerry Von Erich – later on they switch Kerry out for Dusty
Greg decides to build to a Flair vs Bockwinkel – they ramble on for a good 15 mins trying to figure out how to build it – it’s sort of dull to watch – lots of ummm-ing and staring at the roster sheets.
Oct – Flair vs Dibiase (1 hr draw)- Bockwinkel promo
Nov- Flair vs Magnum TA – Bock pins Dibiase
Dec Bock over Magnum
Jan Flair over Billy Robinson
Feb Flair over Greg Gagne
March Flair over Kerry VE
Apr Flair vs Bock – Tully/Arn/Ole vs Dusty/Road Warriors in a cage
They go over and over the hows and whys as far as each month and match is booked – way too much rotating ideas and off shoots to transcribe. They run short of time and jump right to the April card:
Flair vs Bock – 30 mins – Terry Funk costs Bock match
Cage: Dusty/Roadies vs Ole/Tully/Arn – 12- 15 mins Good guys win
Sgt Slaughter vs Snake Roberts (build to bootcamp match) 14-16 mins – Jake DQ’d
Bruiser Brody Squash – 3-4 mins
Gagne/Brunzell vs RnR Express (20 min draw)
Kerry Von Erich Squash – 6 mins
Dibiase vs Butch Reed—10-14 mins – Ted wins – Reed attacks after
Rick Martel/Curt Henning vs Ivan/Nikita -- 8-12 mins – Curt eats pin
1st portion was fun – 2nd half was a bit tedious to watch – Oliver says it was almost 4 am when they finished taping, so if true, the guys were probably brain dead…