Saturday, June 4, 2016

AWA Superstars 2-28-88

The WWE Network has added a ton of AWA stuff, although it's super-spotty. In that sense, it's kinda fitting that I'm randomly going through it like ESPN Classic did when they first started re-airing AWA a decade ago - which was a blast to go through in real-time on the DVDVR board alongside the dreadful Abrams UWF. Here, we've got the Superstars show - which I think was their syndicated show as All-Star Wrestling was the ESPN show. Tonight's card has the Midnight Rockers against Adonis and Bob Orton Jr, which should be really good since Adonis was also at least good even at his biggest and Orton's fundamentals ensured an enjoyable match well into his '40s.

OH MY GOD is the intro to this show great. You've got wacky generic techno, graphics straight out of 1981, and shots of Larry Nelson getting random stuff thrown at him on the set and then wearing a clown wig. Larry or rather "Little" Larry, which has to be a rib, welcomes us to the show. We're told by the camera guy, who may have been Polish Joe at this point, that they're calling him that because he looks short. Larry explains that it's because he's in an orthopedic chair, then explains how great they are for the back before saying it's uncomfortable - unless they're selling them, in which case, they're the greatest things in the world. Already, I love this show.
Yup, Polish Joe is our director! Larry breaks the fourth wall a ton here and it's glorious. Greg Gagne defends the TV Title against Knobbs, Hennig defends the WORLD TITLE against Kevin Kelly, and the Rockers defend against Orton and Adonis on this "Day of Champions" show. Knobbs and Saggs used to come out to "Nasty Boy" by Janet Jackson, and now have an okay little knock-off of it and gear that looks like their later stuff - just really generic by comparison. Definitely a rough draft, but it works.
We get a crowd shot of the dimmest building since Impact. They show a crowd shot from a Showboat show with far more people in it. Ray Trongard and Ray Stevens are on commentary. Greg sloppily armdrags him and locks on an armbar. Greg looks like a little league coach in every possible way. We get a nice close-up of the TV Title, which isn't too bad a belt honestly. A big generic, but not bad. Ray talks about how big the tourney was for it and Ron says he beat Adonis in the finals.
Lots of armwringers here. Leg pick by Greg and an avalanche rollthrough into a seated Indian deathlock. Saggs cheats and gives Knobbs a brief edge. Choke. More riveting choke action. Greg tries a Bret buckle bump and it gets 2. Lots of chinlocks, and we're down to 3 minutes left in the time limit. If you're Knobbs, STOP DOING CHINLOCKS NOW because you only have 3 minutes. Greg punches the gut, then the face - no warning from the ref. Some awful buckle smashes by Greg and Greg misses the dropkick for 2. Miscue by the heels sends Knobbs into Saggs for a 2 - shocked that wasn't the finish. Greg knocks him down off a shoulderblock, and then Knobbs tosses him over the top for a DQ - because Knobbs couldn't do a job here for some reason.
We go back to Little Larry and THE BARON with a mustache! Baron says he wants a jackal, a coward! He wants to face Sheik Adnan, and holy God does that sound awful. Larry says that the Baron wants revenge for TREACHERY! Hennig vs. Kelly is here "courtesy of ESPN", so we get Donna Gagne on commentary. Kevin Kelly is a nothing mid-card...I think face here, while Hennig is a main event heel that isn't drawing a dime for the company. Lots of stalling by Hennig here leads to a "boring" chant. I like Hennig working on the knee and then using the ropes for added leverage. A mild slugfest breaks out and Donna talks about Kelly winning a toughman contest, and he wins that war. Back elbow gets 2 for Nailz. He lands the sloppiest running slam ever and doesn't even hold onto him for the last couple of seconds. I like the finish here - Kelly goes for a second slam, but Hennig holds the ropes - so the ref kicks his hands away and Curt falls onto Kelly for the pin after holding the tights. A fan flips off Hennig as Rod says "a fan is calling Hennig number one!" Kelly kicks his ass and drops the belt on Hennig.
Tom Zenk comes into frame with Larry and says Curt is ducking him before introducing Ricky Rice. Ricky says he played hockey, wrestled in school, and Tom says they're now a team and hey ladies, they're both single! The world's most uncomfortable ring announcer intros the challengers and we get...shots of kids running around in the aisle. Adonis is "adorable", but wearing his NYC robe. Instead of "Living After Midnight" the Rockers get generic rock instead. Not sure why they aren't just using their WWF theme here. This theme is kind of like the Ultimate Warrior's theme. Adonis is a giant lump here. Wow.
Long sideheadlock by Marty leads to him throwing Orton into the buckle, Orton ducking, getting up cockily, eating a dropkick and THEN going into the buckle. Glorious. No one does anything like this now, and it's so simple and logical. That gets 2 and then Michaels comes in for a ground headlock. Rod thanks the camera crew and the lighting crew for amazing lighting. Bullshit.
Adonis runs in during a headlock, and Marty hops up, headscissors Adonis down while headlocking Orton down to the mat as well. That was pretty damned innovative back in '88. Donna talks about turning down an offer by Adrian to get a makeover and says that the Big Apple name for NYC is due to Adonis. Orton comes in, lands a backbreaker and Adonis runs in for a jumping Demolition Decapitation. Adonis lands some standing bionic elbows and gets back raked. Donna talks about Adonis taking out Piper and Tommy Rich. Orton lands a delayed suplex before posing.
Orton lands a butterfly powerbomb in what would be the earliest appearance chronilogically that I can recall that move being done. Orton was pretty darn state of the art in some ways just by modifying existing things and putting new spins on them. That gets 2, so he works on the back with a bearhug before a "rock and roll" chant breaks out. Adonis comes in with left hand punches and elbows. Adonis lands a kneedrop, then a second before hitting a third and getting 2. Great bit where Orton tags in, but Adonis blocks Shawn's path while Orton rakes the face - so the ref can't see it and HBK also can't make any progress towards Marty. Orton eats some punches, but eats a lariat. Orton slingshots him into a lariat. Adonis goes for a splash, but Shawn gets the knees up - so he has hope!
Orton comes in and lands an inverted calf branding and a forearm gets 2. More double teaming by the heels leads to Marty getting a tag, but the ref doesn't see it. Michaels gets tossed over the top - but because he's dealing with Marty, he doesn't see it. Absolutely perfect match psychology-wise. Adonis blocks the ref and Orton punches Michaels on the floor. Adonis misses a corner charge and gives HBK a chance - a powerslam hits for HBK, but the knee misses. Adonis hits a snap suplex and tags in Orton, who lands a PERFECT neckbreaker that looks absolutely devastating.
Kneedrop and a kneeling headbutt get 2 for Orton. HBK comedically tosses him into the buckle at a very low rate of speed so of course Orton hits the buckle and hops up to eat kicks and then gets crotched in such a way that a blind man in the back row, or perhaps in the parking lot, can see him in pain. Now that Orton's balls have been destroyed, Shawn HAS A CHANCE! AND HE MAKES THE TAG!

Marty runs wild and tosses Adonis into the buckle, but he can't flip over, so he just somersaults onto the mat. Marty covers Adonis, but gets pulled to the floor by Orton. Mayhem is amuck on the floor, with the mats on the floor looking exactly like Slip 'n Slides. Jesus. IT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE A SLIP AND SLIDE because the top cover is just moving all over the place. No one could possibly get a good footing on anything here. They fight in the ring and Orton eats a shot and we get a double countout. Back to the set where Larry talks about next week's SURPRISE match. Larry says that if you want the AWA in your town, call Rob Rusten and then mocks Bump the Butt and gets a giant AWA logo to cover his body. Someone comes in and plays Smoke and Fire with Larry, who RE-EXPLAINS THE ORTHOPEDIC CHAIR! End credits with Polish Joe getting an "Everything Else" credit. I love it - the AWA comes off as a total mom and pop company, and it's endearing.

Screenshot gallery -


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