1) Earthquake Ferris vs. Ali Khan – 3
2) Sherri Martel vs. Candi Devine – 3
3) Jimmy Snuka vs. Jay York – 2
4) Nick Bockwinkel vs. Nord the Barbarian – 4
5) Stan Hansen vs. Jerry Blackwell – 5
6) Buddy Rose, Doug Somers, & Alexis Smirnoff vs. The Midnight Rockers & Curt Hennig – 5
Watching all of the AWA re-runs on ESPN Classic has inspired me to dig out all of the AWA supercards that I have in my collection and take a look at them as an ongoing project. This particular show was a live ESPN special from Oakland and featured a lot of interviews with Bay Area musicians in between matches. The show opened with Larry Nelson, Stanley Blackburn, and Lord James Blears out in front of a throng of people at a so-called “tailgate” party with Blackburn, who was portraying the on-screen AWA president, stumbling over a lot of words.
Ferris and Khan kicked off the action and Ferris was way over, mainly because he was the hometown boy. Sheik Adnan made his obligatory appearance by managing Ali Khan, who kept scratching at his beard. I’ve been impressed with Ferris on the ESPN shows I’ve seen. He’s got good moblity for a 350-pounder and is really over. Khan, on the other hand, seems to be yet another standard evil foreigner, although his facials are great. The match did what it was supposed to do and got the crowd hot early on. The ladies’ bout was just about what you would expect from those two. Martel, who was accompanied by the recently departed Buddy Rose, did her best to help carry Devine to an acceptable bout. I was never a big fan of Devine’s work, especially those shitty matches in 1990 with Mimi, but to her credit she slammed Martel pretty hard on the concrete a couple times. Martel would go on to wind up winning the bout and with it, the AWA Women’s Title. York and Snuka had a total snoozefest of a match. Within second, York was controlling the bout and applied a cobra clutch for what seemd like an eternity. Now why would you have a schmuck like that apply the finisher of one of the top stars five seconds into the match and Snuka doesn’t go down. Doesn’t make sense to me. Anyway, Snuka finally makes his comeback, finishes off York and achieves some hookers and blow. This first half of this show pretty much sucked, hopefully the second half is better.
Bockwinkel and Nord had a decent little bout. Bockwinkel was his usual self, having a good bout with someone who could be totally incapable of otherwise. Nord’s channeling of Bruiser Brody was sort of awkward, especially after they had teamed up a few months before this. In a really odd turn of events, Nord ended up pinning Bockwinkel, thereby becoming the #1 contender for the AWA World Title, in what Greg Gagne called “an upset” on commentary. Funny thing is, Bockwinkel was the one awarded the title the next night after Hansen walked out of the company. The match of the show for me was Hansen and Blackwell as the two big men brawled and bled something fierce. Hansen bled early and tried to slam Blackwell but it wasn’t happening. Blackwell just seemed like a giant obsese dude with limited wrestling skills with body splashes as the norm. The ref took a fall and Hansen nailed Blackwell with his boot, busting him open and leading to a DQ finish in a fine bout that just happened to be Hansen’s last AWA match. Closing out the show was a good six-man tag. The work between the Rockers and Rose & Somers would serve as a precedent for their bloody battles later on in the year, especially the one in Las Vegas. Hennig was teamed up with them because Rose and Somers had just beaten him and Hall for the tag titles. I’m not sure what connection Smirnoff had with the team, other than providing vodka and spirited bevarages afterwards. The hot finish was when Michaels slammed Jannetty onto Somers after Hennig hit a dropkick. Fun match to close out the show. I’m going to go with a marginal recommendation on this one, as you should probably check out at least one of the last three matches. The first half, though, can be skipped.