Wrestling for a Cure: AWA Benefit Show 8/26/1985

Sgt. Slaughter is given a hero’s welcome as the AWA and Jerry Lewis raise money for the MDA

From Northeastern University in Boston.

This is a show benefiting the MDA foundation.

We open with a gloriously cheesy superhero comic based intro. The match line up graphics use some largely out of date pictures for several of the wrestlers.

Hosted by Lee Webb (?) with some other dork working as a roving reporter.  A Boston based radio guy (Eddie Andelman) is calling the action, with Killer Kowalski providing color.  WTF? Where is Rod Trongard, Ken Resnick, etc?  I’m stunned Verne Gagne isn’t front and center putting himself and the AWA over for this charity show.

We open with Sgt. Slaughter and several fans saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and then we get an instrumental of the Star Spangled Banner.  Lee Webb pantomimes wiping away a tear.

Larry Zbyszko cuts a promo from the locker room. Bob Backlund skipped his promo because “he’s illiterate”. Solid logic. The backstage geek says Backlund’s special move is an “atomic knee drop”, blowing his one line… I love this show.

They claim 5,000 fans are in the arena, but the place seems almost half full.

Bob Backlund vs. Larry Zbyszko

Eddie Andelman says Larry’s “the mean guy” and Backlund “has been struggling lately”. Shoot comments!

Zbyszko stooges for Backlund early. Backlund dominates with some robotic takedowns. They have an awkward exchange coming off the ropes where neither guy knows what move is coming next, and follow that up with Backlund hitting a very fake looking dropkick.

The announcers joke about Zbyszko possibly getting diarrhea while Backlund works a headlock. Zbyszko gets some heat briefly, but Backlund rallies. A Backlund piledriver opens up the chance for Andelman to mention how Zbyszko will have to abuse pain pills to recover.

Backlund hits the atomic drop. With hope all but lost after that devastating move, Zbyszko tosses him over the top rope to take a DQ loss at 6:52. Kowaski buries the finish as he declares that no such rule exists in Connecticut. This match was fine, botches and all. The goofy production and bad announcing is entertaining me way more than most matches would.

The Road Warriors cut a promo on the Long Riders.

80’s COMMERCIAL BREAK!!! AT&T has a soccer commercial about calling West Germany?!? Sieg Heil! Snuggle Bear is next! A man in a sports coat sells me trucks. I prefer my truck dealers to wear flannel. A female model seductively promises me that Sprint has a better rate than AT&T.

Jerry Lewis reads off a cue card about tonight’s action, cracks wise towards Sgt. Slaughter and makes goofy faces.

The Long Riders retort that they don’t need to work out like the “Road Runners” because they are naturally tough. Paul Ellering is seen in the background of the hallway (accidentally?) and the backstage geek derails the interview by trying to call Ellering and the Road Warriors over. The Riders lose their rhythm from this unplanned moment and the promo turns into a lot of screaming and talking over one another. This is the best show ever.

AWA World tag team champions The Road Warriors vs. Bill and Scott Irwin

Bill Irwin looks physically terrible. His brother Scott would die of a brain tumor less than 2 years after this, but is still bulky here. I honestly thought I might have mixed them up due to their physiques, but it seems not. The camera crew interview some local “celebs” and we miss the Warriors opening charge and attack.

As the teams brawl, Andelman screeches out a very annoying “western” cinematic theme. Kowalski ignores him and keeps calling moves. Andelman calls a leg drop a “tooshie sit”. Kowalski calmly informs him that it is actually a leg drop. I wonder if Kowaski was ready to put this clown in a claw yet?

The teams fight goes back and forth, as you would expect. Hawk makes the hot tag and Animal runs over both of the Riders. Hawk sneaks in a clothesline from the apron as the ref is distracted. The ref is delayed in making the count, and poor Scott has to lay there for far too long as Animal still scores the pin at 7:27. Andelman says the fans are mad that the bad guys won and refers to the Irwins as the favorites. Is he being a heel or is he clueless? Both? Augh!

Greg Gagne vs. “Mr. Electricity” Steve Regal

The ring announcer says Gagne weighs an “amazing” 218 pounds. Gagne is in full camo gear. Slaughter joins him at ringside. Gagne takes the gimmick off and works in yellow tights. LOL.  Regal bumps around to put Gagne over in the opening minutes. The announcers talk about how businesses bought “thousands” of seats for this charity event, as the camera shot shows hundreds and hundreds of empty seats.

Andelman follows my lead from above and says Gagne is wearing sissy colors. Kowalski overcomes this albatross of an announcing partner by saying that yellow is bright like the sun, and Gagne is a bright, young wrestler. Well done, Killer!

These guys have a perfectly acceptable wrestling match. Andelman continues ruining things by singing “bouncing, bouncing ball” as Gagne slams Regal into the turnbuckle. Gagne snags the win with a flying crossbody at 5:49. Andelman flat out says “the owner’s son won the match, we need to look into this”.

Sgt. Slaughter is shown going around Boston meeting fans, seeing landmarks and taking charity donations. BONUS: We get to hear some of the music from the “Sgt. Slaughter Rocks America!” album that came out around this time.

Brad Rheingans vs. Billy Robinson

These guys are both babyfaces, so they work a clean match. Andelman says he doesn’t like matches like this and prefers good guys against bad guys. He then joins in the crowd as they chant “boring” during a headlock. Andelman follows this up by saying Robinson “looks like he had his bar mitzvah 35 years ago”. That earns a chuckle from Kowalski.

The match is a good exhibition of clean counters and holds, which isn’t bad by any stretch, even if it lacks pizzazz. Rheingans scores a backslide win just past the 4-minute mark.

Robinson was “managed” by two local DJs, one dressed like Michael Jackson, and the other doing a “Sheik” gimmick. He ignored them during the match. I wanted him to suplex them both on the cement for making a mockery of the sport. The DJs are interviewed after the match, as Robinson stands behind them and isn’t acknowledged.

80’s COMMERCIAL UPDATE: We get a He-man commercial for Burger King. I award this 5000 stars.

AWA World champion Rick Martel vs. Nick Bockwinkel

The “controversy” around the match is that Bockwinkel agreed to this match in spite of it having a brief time limit due to the TV restraints. Andelman outs Bockwinkel as having wrestled for over 30 years, just to make sure everyone knows the AWA is full of old guys.  As the men do the opening feel out process, Andelman says this match is a “2 out of 10 so far”. Please tell me the AWA never ran this commentary on any of their “real” shows if highlights were used?

These guys do work a slow pace, working arm bars and such. A more competent announce team might put over Martel drawing out the match in order to use the time limit to his advantage. Bockwinkel takes over and hits a rapid series of pin attempts. It is all for naught as the match ends in a 10-minute draw. This was a fine start to a 30-minute battle, but instead it was a tease of what they could do. The crowd groaned at the finish.   I suppose it doesn’t matter in the long run, but I would propose you put a Greg Gagne/Bockwinkel match on here to play off their feud, and use Regal to put over Martel since he’s the champ and all.

Greg Gagne appears at ringside in order to talk to the announcers. Verne missed the show due to getting a fish hook in his eye while vacationing in Alaska. Holy ouch!

Alan Dershowitz is interviewed in the crowd. He is dressed in army garb to support Slaughter. This kind of blew my mind as he is still appearing on right-wing news to this day. He looked young here, but apparently was already around 40. I had no idea he was relevant before the era of infotainment.

Sgt. Slaughter vs. Boris Zhukov

Larry Sharpe is standing in for Sheik Adnan. Sarge attacks Sharpe, knocking him into Andelman. Andelman is upset that his testicles have been abused and mourns for his wife not being able to sexually perform with him. Sarge hits a knee to Boris’ “tummy” according to Andelman.

Zhukov runs in fear after Slaughter’s early assault. Sarge tries a short clothesline, but Zhukov ducks it to Slaughter’s surprise and it comes across as a botch. Slaughter is sent to the corner and takes his famous over the corner bump to the floor.  Boris abuses Slaughter for the next bit with boots and chokes.

Sarge rallies for a bit, before missing a corner charge and crashing into the steel post. Boris tries a top rope attack, but is slammed off and pinned at 9:06. Slaughter is attacked after the match. The brawl goes to the floor before Zhukov makes a run for it. Paint by numbers stuff, but once again this was perfectly enjoyable wrasslin’.

The fans storm the ring as security loses control. Dozens and dozens of people rush ringside and into the ring. The TV cuts away so they can regain control. ECW! ECW! ECW!

80’s COMMERCIAL UPDATE: “Purolator” carriers run an ad that pokes fun of the fact that people can’t pronounce their name correctly. Fine job there by whoever came up with that brand name. It appears they are still Canada’s top delivery service, at least according to the google machine.

We close the show with Andelman giving us an update on his genitals. I wish I were kidding.

Final thoughts: This card could easily be tossed up on the WWE Network’s “Hidden Gems” in an instant. The card has good star power to promote, and the horrid announcing should create some buzz amongst us wrasslin’ geeks.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.