So i get this huge batch of discs from the ever expansive NHO tape library labeled AWA TV 1989 and I think "I can't NOT do something with this" so I decide to actually watch/review all of it for the blog. After the 1st episode of quick squashes I quickly realize that would be a lot of wasted time. But every episode ends with a main event match so that's what you're going to get. Quick note; a lot of eps ended with "Classic" matches (and i use those quotes loosely) and clipped stuff so not every week will be covered here.
1) Wendi Richter v. The Dazzler- 3
This match battled back and forth between a 2 and a 3, leaning towards the 2 because there was some embarrassing exchanges were moves were botched and both women looked as uncoordinated as a 5"1 dude with a 24"inch schlong. But, Richter, fueled no doubt from disappointment from her stylist, stiffs the shit out of Dazzler over and over again, notably a big boot and these strange Cena-esque suplex morphing into bodyslams near the end. They worked in a lot of near falls too, which worked as well as most of the story they were trying to tell; one of those you can snag at Half price books in the clearance section.
Double Main Event~!
2) Larry Zybyzsko v. Don Muraco- 3
3) Badd Company v. Tommy Jammer/ Brad Rheingans- 5
Our first match was basically Larry Land controlling the original "Rock" for the duration of the bout in a series of arm and neck locks. Muraco's selling was up for the challenge but there wasn't much life in this one. Muraco did take the equivalent of Nigel's old ringpost bumps but with his sternum, while doing a spit take at the same time. The tag match worked more so than anything else I've seen yet. I kind of dug Tanaka a whole bunch, really quick movement, hard flashy bumps, he had it going on. For some reason this was only a 10 minute match, with time announced every 2 mins, so we already knew the result. Jammer is most certainly not a 2nd cousin of Ricky Morton even though they both have 80's long hair (that goes so well with whitewashed jeans)
4) Badd Company v. Hector & Mando Guerrero- 6
This match was a damn lot of fun. Mando had all this really wacky offense, like switching his headlock from side to side, getting a guy in the corner and throwing like 100 back elbows, etc. The Company didn't do much in the way of offense, just a lot of stooging and bumping for the moustached bros. Really dug the catapult splash off Hector's shoulders for the fin and even though Dusty finishes are played out,especially in the 80's this one was actually pretty creative. Mando's real good, almost as good as Eddie but not quite, haha.
5) 18 Man Battle Royal for AWA World Championship- 4
Participants: Akio Sato, Steve Ray, Wayne Bloom, Derrick Dukes, Mike Enos, Tommy Jammer, Pat Tanaka, Tom Zenk, Paul Diamond, Greg Gagne, Ken Patera, Ricky Rice, Larry Zybyzsko, Wahoo McDaniel, Manny Fernandez, Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Debeers, Mike George
The Battle Royal itself was as non descript as your last piss. Besides some interesting slugfests between names like Slaughter v. Gagne or Zybyzsko v. Rice, not a damn compelling thing happened. Eliminations came and went with not much excitement. Zenk and Larry Z were last two guys in and it came down to pinfalls. Zenk was hitting dropkicks that were awesome in this part, only negative that's pretty much all he was doing. Larry got some good nearfalls out of this part as well. But for the historic occasion of a championship battle royal or "Hall of Fame match" Lee Marshall described, not even close.
5) Badd Company v. Tom Zenk/ Ken Patera- 4
BC is all over this program, always against random put together teams. Zenk looked like Yoshino in this, seriously, was lightning fast and continues to dropkick his way into my heart. Patera looked lousy, as sometime after he lost his blonde hair, he got sad. Bearhugs galore, and I know Patera was a strong man at some point, but here he just looks like a doughy retired accountant. Overall, a flaccid effort.
6) Sgt. Slaughter v. Col. Debeers- 3
Was kind of hoping for a knockdown drag out affair, and while this did largely consist of brawling, it felt more akin to an Impact match instead of a Mid South fistfight. Slaughter took his requisite sick bump into the post but most fun I had watching Debeers was trying to run, looked like a baby with a full diaper.
7) Larry Zybyzsko/ Manny Fernandez v. Wahoo McDaniel/ Tom Zenk- 5
This is probably as big as it got during this time in Minneapolis with this roster. Zenk & Zybyzsko pair off well, and so do Fernandez and Wahoo. I remember both of them being involved in Starrcade 85, and having brutal bloody battles. Wahoo defines the word Grizzled. They get a closeup of his face, his nose and chin are both permanently lacerated. They exchange sick chops when they are in there. Speaking of chops, what a crappy finish but that was the lamest part of the match by far.
8) Sgt. Slaughter v. Col. Debeers- 4
Damn, Slaughter takes a bump out of the ring off a lousy punch; that's like falling into New York traffic everytime you get shoulder bumped, like you're looking for a lawsuit. Bump was still good though. Wow, Slaughter started bouncing Debeers off his feet like he was a seal with a bouncy ball at Sea World. They're def. hanging a lot more loose than their other bout. Page is having fun jawing with Slaughter, attacking him. This ends exactly as the last match though hurting it's score.
9) Badd Company v. Brad Rheingans/ Ken Patera-6
I'll go ahead and recommend this one. It got a huge amount of time, almost 20 minutes and had a historic title change i wasn't expecting. Company was really on here, especially Tanaka. They were great at cut off stuff and Tanaka was bumping as if he had no internal organs. Patera pissed me off because he came in and went right for a bearhug. Rheingans was quite superb here though, he always peppers in little amateur moves like he's spicing a gourmet soup. Love his out of nowhere super fast package rollup, saw him do it in a job match on another ep and here it looks even better.
10) Wendi Richter v. The Dazzler- 3
Fun thing about these two's matches is they always get at least 10 mins, and they really shouldn't so you can see them trying to piece together what the hell they're going to do. Dazzler has the coordination of a Bantha balancing a copy of "Possession" on it's head. Wendi likes it stiff; yep i said it. Great spot where Wendi puts her on the top rope, punches her right her in stomach and just pulls her face first to the mat. Dazzler totally heels it up too; constantly going outside when things aren't going her way. How many people do the Zybyzsko stalling in this fed? Fun brawl ends this to create another rematch; make no mistake there's some criminally bad offense in this too hence the low rating.
11) Greg Gagne v. Akio Sato- 2
I thought Gagne's selling sucked. While in a nerve hold (for about 8 mins. total) he looked like he just told his kid to do something and they ignored him. This style of match is so passe in '89, that it could actually make a comeback and be called "retro." Sato went from leg, to neck, to arm work, none of it meaning anything. Gagne's punches blew as much as his old man haircut; looked like he was throwing for a girls softball team practice. DQ finish and this one's a major dud.
12) Larry Zybyzsko v. Wahoo McDaniel-4
Not much meat here, all gristle; appropo with Wahoo in the match. Liked Larry Z's selling while being put in a half crab, always arching his back trying to not get his shoulders pinned down. Wahoo stayed on him though and chopped him down everytime he stood up. This actually never left 1st base so can't grade it too highly.
13) Larry Zybyzsko v. Thor- 3
If this guy's the God of Thunder, call me Dr. Manhattan. Actually his selling is much more believable than Hollywood hunk Chris Hemsworth's acting in the new film. He jittered and gyrated after a nasty back suplex. Zybyzsko actually was pulling off some fun Loki-esque sneering here. Piledriver to finish could knock someone loopy enough to change their name to Neil Diamond Gagne.
14) Larry Zybyzsko v. Rockin Randy- 2
Quick and painful, back kick nearly left Rockin Randy with even less chance of procreating. Piledriver was quite stiff too
15) Badd Company v. Tommy Jammer/ Derrick Dukes- 4
Dukes was fun part of this match, Badd Company i'm really liking, they are a great utility team at this point. have to love Page before the match pinching the female ring announcer on the butt as she leaves the ring. Dukes on every sell is so into what he's doing, going the extra mile. Jammer on the other hand, has not improved over all these tv tapings. He nearly falls on his face trying a leapfrog. Diamond's selling a little weak too.
16) Wahoo McDaniel v. Mike George- 5
This was a time limit draw, which I actually found interesting that George was booked so strongly. This was just a fight between two stodgy guys who can't do a lot more than hit and chop each other. George took a particularly nasty shot at one point and fell down on his large rumpus with a look of shock like I had watching the episode "Summer Men" from Mad Men Season 4.
17) Peggy Lee Leather v. Shirley Black- 2
Fuck a Kojima, Black's lariat was the stuff! Leather is a gross woman, no way around it but was a fun brute.
18) Tom Zenk v. Paul Diamond- 2
I was actually hopeful for this one but DDp and Diamond were having a lovers spat the whole match, which mostly consisted of headlock spots. Zenk didn't do anything to make you think he should be considered for a title shot, even though they kept pushing it.
19) Destruction Crew v. Wahoo McDaniel/ Scott Norton- 2
Another short match that had no time to develop into anything, becoming a theme here. Norton was scarily pudgy with what looked like no muscle development whatsoever. He worked a lazy armbar for his portion; Wahoo was motivated, maybe because he only knew he had to work for a few moments.
20) Wendi Richter/ Joyce Grable v. Velvet McIntyre/ Judy Martin- 3
I believe Verne pilfered all these talents from Vince when he had a women's division. Velvet was all piss and vinegar and did one of the finest flying headscissors i've seen since Pillman's prime. Her and Wendi worked well together, Martin and Grable also bumped fine but seemed to be non compliant for a few spots and let the younger ladies take care of the legwork.
21) Larry Zybyzsko v. Greg Gagne- 2
This was Gagne's big chance; this was like diarrhea for the eyes. Gagne just blows. The fun thing about watching stuff like this is rediscovering workers you were pretty confident on, or that you never really knew how good they were. I'm finding out despite how much smoke he blows, well, let me break it down in a scientific equation: if Greg Gagne= wrestling and Tara Reid = acting, then Greg Gagne = Tara Reid (meaning, he's shitty) He can't punch, he has a vertical suplex that is sloppy and dangerous and he botches both a leap frog and a small package here. Larry is stalling even more than usual which certifies this as crap.
22) Johnnie Stewart v. Paul Diamond- 4
Not a lot to say here, standard action, Stewart as portraying an 80's heel who got women even though he had gerricurls and acted affeminated. Diamond is now face, even though he does nothing to involve the audience. Stewart actually hit a sweet powerslam and had some fun facial selling when backing off. Angle development was the recipe of the day here, furthering 2 diff. storylines.
23) Paul Diamond v. Akio Sato- 4
This one got much more time than most main events on this show. Sato you may remember as one part of the original Orient Express; he's actually quite a capable hand in a singles situation; again, more Zybyzsko stalling, why does every heel in this fed do this? Diamond continues to be a super bland face with a decent clothesline. He don't have much ups, another guy botching a leapfrog, how hard is it?
24) Greg Gagne v. Mike George- 2
25) Larry Zybyzsko v. Sgt. Slaughter- 5
1st match was only a few minutes with George actually doing some more great selling, using big goofy cowhand facials; should have been wearing a bandana around his neck. Main worked, been a while on this show. Slaughter really upped the drama factor up after taking his giant post bump in the corner, he took a step further by throwing himself over the top rope onto the concrete. Slaughter really sold this huge and made the match. Zybyzsko brought him back in and took over, leading to a Dusty finish that felt big and would have been nice if this had actually been the result.
26) Ladies Battle Royal incl. Magnificent Mimi, Tina Moretti, Farmer's Daughter, Dazzler, The Terrorist, Morgan le Ray, Peggy lee Leather, Talia Star, Malibu, Shirley Black, Bambi- 3
Alright, with the level of stiffness in some of these AWA singles women's matches, I was kind of receptive to this where everyone basically just has to punch each other. Pretty disappointing for the first half where people were just bailing ship like investors are dropping WWE stock lately. Bambi came in wearing a cast, and really getting this thing going. Moretti, who became Ivory in WWE, was a spitfire, and pulled off a couple nice headscissors. Nothing memorable sticks out but can't hate on a chick fight too much.
27) Kokina Maximusv. Jerry Lynn- 3
This was a brutal squash,not near the level of the SST during their AWF run but close. Lynn' pink and neon blue tights are certainly not metal.
28) Mike George/ Johnnie Stewart v. Paul Diamond/ Greg Gagne- 3
Dear god Diamond & Gagne came out to The Final Countdown; Danielson should have never used that song on principle. This wasn't bad though; they werepumping Stewart to be this great rookie prospect; has some charisma definitley like a less charismatic Billy Joe Travis and less athletic Chris Candido. This determined a final team in the TagTitle tourney, yikes. George took a beating, even Gagne seemed to be taking liberties with him. Had a fairly basic plot and with Gagne as face in peril, you're getting as much to work with as when Tim Burton decided to work with live penguins.
29) Sgt. Slaughter/ Baron Von Raschke v. Destruction Crew - 4
Slaughter's combover is more apparent than the Republican Caucus' attempt at sandbagging the next election. Political views aside, this match isn't half bad. Enos is really showing some promise, eating turnbuckles and Slaughter cannons with vigor. Baron is a gross old man, and offers nigh except stodgy convulsions as sells but the crowd does react, give him that. You thought Trips used a sledgehammer unrealistically? You ain't seen nothing yet. The ending just buried the score further than Hoffa's remains.
30) Destruction Crew v. Greg Gagne/ Paul Diamond - 4
This started out really fast, with some good pin combinations, and with more fire than the ROH '11 output i've seen so far. Enos continues to look really tough here. Gagne bores me, but he has learned a hiptoss. he does them so much it feels like that was his best thing in training and he just keeps to it. We had all kinds of heel chicanery closing this out and felt like a hollow moment.
31) Kokina Maximus v. Johnnie Stewart v. The Trooper (Lumberjack Match)- 2
Yikes, Stewart primped, Kokina sucked wind and Trooper looked way too bulky to even keep his breath. LJ's didn't even brawl? No thanks
32) Paul Diamond/ Candi Devine v. Pat Tanaka/ Magnificent Mimi- 5
Well we finally get the resolution of Badd Company's breakup, like 4 months later. This match is filmed in a studio somewhere, with no fans visible and really strange lighting, straight out of a George Michael video from the 80's. But, no this was fun. Both guys were dealing out some of Idaho's best on each other's faces. Tanaka takes one of the best backdrops ever seen in Minneapolis. I'm guessing the Magnificent in Mimi is referring to those massive cannons adorning her chest as they are just pushing that cheap fabric as far as it goes. She actually busts out a sick missile dropkick on Diamond that was highlight of the match. A shitty Devine bump to finish? yikes, and things were going so well.
33) Destruction Crew/ Larry Zybyzsko v. Trooper/ Scott Norton/ Tommy Jammer- 5
Okay, we're back on the set of Berry Gordy's Last Dragon, the disco scene you remember? For some reason some obviously hired "policemen" escort heel manager Johnny Valiant, no, not to jail, but to the corner. May as well get him a dunce cap. Those cops have never passed up on an elephant ear at any carnival, my god. This match has a lot of fun with it's components. Bloom is all about proving he's better than Enos, and does so here. He takes a face plant in the buckle and spins out ala Hennig in a good laughable moment. Later he eats a rough clothesline and his stomping Jammer's head into the mat was delightful. Zybyzsko was wrestling like he pulled a hamstring over the weekend doing yard work. Remember Mike Knox's really boss crossbody he was using on WWE TV? well, Trooper uses it here but it more resembles riding the hood of an Ultima and someone stopping suddenly. But a flash pin on the champion keeps the ever evolving AWA story cog rolling to kudos. I must also point out the ridiculous logo banner hanging on the wall in front of the ring; even the cheapest trophy store could have done better.
34) Destruction Crew v. Bobby & Jackie Fulton (refuse to call them the Fantastics)- 4
Really an unexpected treat to get at least one of the Fantastics here. While Bobby is rocking some wretched metal hair, he still has the innovation that makes that team so much fun to watch. Loving the Jerry Estrada arm toss off the ropes early and his pin reversals. While I've praised the Crew in past matches, I can only say they kept up here. Jackie only came in for a few arm holds and that's it. Bobby took the beating and a Jackie hot tag is as appealing as a marathon of the Bachelor
35) Paul Diamond v. Pat Tanaka- 6
So the partner breakup is heating up....4 months down the road. Seriously though this match was damn fun. Tanaka bumps like no other, keep thinking he has a trampoline back, somehow. Diamond is as lame a babyface as you can get and how did I ever not realize AWA is one of those feds where everyone has a nick name? "Hard Rock" Paul Diamond? That's your top stuff? Tanaka has a nasty chop and busts out a German suplex that would be banned immediately on Stamford's show. Sometimes partner matches fizzle but this had fire and one of the better offerings from this show the whole calendar year.
Double Main Time:
36) Bobby & Jackie Fulton/ Jerry Blackwell v. Destruction Crew/ Johnny Valiant- 3
37) Larry Zybyzsko v. Nikita Koloff- 5
This six man tag was as frightening as the clientele hanging in the casino during tapings. Valiant must have been on something because was damn near in the whole match, and it wasn't 5 hour Energy, if you catch my drift. Jackie did a bit more this time, including the Octopus stretch?!? Overall, this really drug and I'd wished my banal wrestling mind would have just stayed focused on Shark Week instead of finishing this project off. World Title match was a lot more pleasant. Nikita is wild on selling, just flailing around like a dying porpoise or a guy needing a shot to keep his identity disguised, like in Total Recall. Is it just me or does the 3 boob chick always stand out when referencing that? Paper maiche never looked quite as good. Larry stalled sure, but didn't turn it into an artform like usual. The desperation Russian Sickle was a good spot and even though it wasn't a clean finish, it made sense.
38) Larry Zybyzsko v. Masa Saito- 4
So the tought egg shaped Saito is the latest guy brought into challenge Larryland for the belt. Would make one think they don't have enough quality guys on tap to be viable challengers. This is not part of the woefully bad ongoing Team Challenge but was still fun for it's time given. Larry is good at selling really hard strikes, and Saito is good for giving them. He pulls the Saito suplex out with no pop whatsoever; it almost feels like Little Jon showing up to a bar and doing his "Yeaaaaaa" catch phrase and no one turns around, but continues nursing their Molson Lights and unsuccesfully trying to cop a feel on the girl's ass next to them.
39) Destruction Crew v. Brute Force- 3
Is Brute Force an appropriate face team name? It features Ricky Rice (who Lee Marshall states everyone knows) and Dave Casper, a roided out bodybuilder who only seems to know how to do axhandles. Seriously, he comes off the 2nd rop 3 times in this match for hot tags and every time, he drops and exaggerated sledge ala No Holds Barred. The Crew don't seem to be taking this seriously, but had a nice heel showcase before the match when Lee Marshall (on behalf of Bill Apter) presents them with some PWI awards plaques, although never stating what award they are for. They simply throw them on the ground as if they thought they saw a quarter and realized it was a candy wrapper and just drop it back onto the soil. Rice can move, no doubt, but he just doesn't have the ability to make you care. Typical Crew finish and i'm signing off.
AWA 1989, if i gave an overall score to this product, as far as recommending if you take the time and sit through the whole TV year, I'd lean toward a 5, a 6 if you're a hardcore fan of this promotion because there were some winners here. The roster largely stayed the same which made for some mundane matchups for a good chunk of the year but they did allow their boys to get some time on TV to tell stories, which I enjoyed. Also some quality promos, esp. from Larry Z and others. Peace out, Verne Gagne's liver spots.