Monday, June 27, 2011

AWA Wrestlerock '86 Co-Review

J: First off, welcome to another Co-review. We all get a kick out of doing these and I think they make for fun reading. This show looked to be AWA’s answer to WrestleMania, although they didn’t get the memo that celebrities sold a lot of those tickets. They went big, as this is a Dome show but my god at least during the first half is this arena empty, as if there were a bedbug scare, or it was a Kevin Federline concert. Without further ado, onto the matches.

A: It’s always fun to do a co-review and this will be my first co-review with Jessie since we tackled the WWE High Flyers set back in the early part of the year. I picked this show especially since I know we are both fans of the old school. Plus, we don’t really see or review much AWA and judging by the card, on paper, this looked like one of their strongest line-ups ever. The Minneapolis Metrodome was the host for this behemoth which clocked in at just under four hours so let’s get cracking!!

1) Brad Rheingans vs. Boris Zhukov – J: 3 A: 3

J: Rheingans is a guy who all the collegiate guys blow as an inspirational leader; it looks more like he could use the Blow Away Diet (inside wrestling joke) I’ve always thought, for one reason or another, that Zhukov was a reliable hand so I was a little excited about this. Not a lot happened honestly. Rheingans laid around the outside for far too long during the first bunch of minutes for my taste. I dug that he constantly did a back bridge when he kicked out; something like that, performance wise, can def. set you apart. This never really got going but had a good suplex finish.

A: Gagne had a hard on for great amateur wrestlers and while Rheingans definitely has those credentials, he strikes me as very dull with the charisma of a road sign. Not really a lot here that was outstanding. Felt more like the main event of an episode of AWA TV. Boris had a pretty good sell as he got his knee wrapped around the ringpost. Agreed Jess, this didn’t really ever get going but I think the bigger question is did they ever want to go anywhere to begin with? Crowd popped at the finish with Rheingans busting out a belly-to-belly suplex.

2) Lord Littlebrook & Little Tokyo vs. Little Mr. T & Cowboy Lang – A: 1 J: 3

A: Not really sure what was happening here with these four midget veterans. The comedy spots worked well but the serious wrestling just killed the crowd (or lack thereof). I didn’t like a single minute of this and I was glad when a simple rolling manuever finished it. Pretty sure this was the same match these four worked around the circuits.

J: Not sure if my daughter jumping around pretending she was finding clues with Blue the dog at the same time I was watching these guys jump around and doing their comedy schtick made me enjoy this more, but I was enjoying myself. Honestly, there wasn’t much crowd to kill here. It still hadn’t filled out. The premise of this was the heels kept fucking it up and blasting each other. Sure you’re right about that one; you don’t mean the human cockfighting circuits that started in Colombia do you?

3) Wahoo McDaniel vs. Col. DeBeers – J: 3 A: 3

J: This bout could have easily garnered a 5 or maybe higher had it been more than a stiff brawl and a fuck finish but alas, it wasn’t. Wahoo is a guy with a great reputation, and I kind of saw flashes of it here. Loved his smooth transitions and the chops were legendary. From people who’ve went back and studied Debeers, he’s gotten high marks; I saw a characterization of a pro wrestler more so than an actual one and would much prefer to watch Buster Bluth ham it up than this faux militant whelp.

A: No holding back on the punches here as they threw some hard ones in an exchange in the corner. Took a few minutes but after they figured each other out, this got pretty fun and pretty stiff in parts. I wonder if those people you mentioned who went back and studied DeBeers are the same ones who said Ian Rotten was one of the best wrestlers on the planet in 2006? The finish blew but I dug the post-match chop exchange. It was like they were fighting each other for the last bowl of chicken soup at the old folks home.

4) Buddy Rose & Doug Somers vs. The Midnight Rockers – A: 4 J: 4

A: Stalling at the beginning with Rose and Jannetty trying to one-up each other on demonstrations was ridiculous. Once the action got going, it was fairly decent. Rose and Somers are better bumpers that I remember. Michaels had some good selling as part of the face in peril section. Jannetty took a hell of a bump on the top buckle when Rose crotched him. Rockers offense was suspect and not quite there yet but they were still somewhat green so I’ll cut them some slack. A precursor of some of the bloody battles to come between these two teams.

J: You’re right; this was a total one note act sort of tag match that on the surface doesn’t offend but you knew they were capable of more. You have to love the 80’s; when sunglasses were real sunglasses. Agreed; the heels brought their bumping textbooks with them but Rockers were peeling green like paint in a decrepit farmhouse you may take your girlfriend to for some motorboat action. Finish worked, have to love a good crotch bump and it lead to a fun false finish as well.

5) Tiger Mask vs. Buck Zumhoffe – J: 5 A: 4

J: Has anyone in the history of existence thought up this dream match? If so, it happened. Only thing I remember from my youth of Zhumhofe is a) stupid name b) asinine gimmick as “King of Rock n’ Roll” and c) creepy ginger moustache. But he held up well, like a rosemary & olive oil bagel from Bruegger’s. Loved the natural way he took Misawa’s armdrags and I thought all the arm lock stuff flowed extremely well. Relied a little too much on rest holds for a 8 minute match though; Buck fell back on them constantly as I’m sure his wife did the bottle and the strapping Indian paperboy while Buck was on the road during his 2 week tours through the hellish snowy roads of Minnesota. Misawa busted out a few of his token spots, the spin kick, the plancha, but it was a front flip splash off the top rope that secured him the win; it was quite cherry, he had more float than Remedios the Beauty (sorry, there’s always at least one reference only .5% of the reading audience will get.)

A: I think the reason Zumhoffe relied on the rest holds so much is that he probably didn’t know how to work with Misawa. I could almost guarantee that ol’ Bucky doesn’t speak a word of Japanese. Him being called the “king of rock-n-roll” is a really dumb idea. If having the aforementioned ginger moustache and carrying a boombox makes you the king of rock, then I’m sure that Elvis or Run DMC would have something to say about that. Really liked Misawa’s spots that Jessie mentioned as they pretty much saved the match.

6) Mike Rotundo & Barry Windham vs. The Fabulous Ones (Steve Keirn & Stan Lane) – A: 5 J: 4

A: The pace set early on gave the match a feel different that anything on the show thus far. Windham airballs a shoulder block that Keirn bumped for anyway. Crowd popped for Windham’s offense. Great sell by Windham after getting thrown head first into the buckle. Some good heel tactics by the Fabulous Ones, interfering at random and distracting the referee. Giant legal man issue at the end with Windham interfering and dropping an elbow on Lane and the referee counting the fall even thought Rotundo was the legal man. Still, not a bad match though.

J: I actually reviewed this match back in sept. 2008- I’ve just rewatched this match and my review and stand by it. Paraphrasing, I’ve never dug the Fab Ones, and I didn’t see the chemistry evident here. Windham and Rotundo (by way of their shoot interviews) both have stated this was a one shot payday because they are not pouring it on here like they normally would. This had the old “double heat” section in it but I almost think I could get more heat by opening my freezer door and shoving my head in. I think Adam covered everything pretty well though and this is not a match you need to see.

7) Giant Baba vs. “Bulldog” Bob Brown – J: 1 A: 3

J: You’re only as good as your dancing partner and to say Brown has two left feet would be an understatement; it’s more like Brown has the hoove of a horse and the right foot of a Brontosaurus. He’s old, washed up and doesn’t want to sell shit. Now, at this point, Baba is used to being bumped around for and protected; here he’s exposed like a guy holding a lightning rod in a thunderstorm. His chops look even more wimpy than usual and his finishing big boot, well the only good thing I can say about it is, he didn’t fall on his ass while performing it.

A: Brown looks like a tough old brute. I can just imagine him spending his spare time in dark, smoky bars playing poker, chomping on cigars, and knocking back scotch a la Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men. For as mean as he looked, his offense sure lacked. Baba looked as if he was just coasting through. Can’t believe that Gagne flew him across the Pacific and halfway across the U.S. for a five-minute snoozer.

8) Harley Race vs. Rick Martel – A: 5 J: 5

A: Nice kneelift from Race knocked Martel loopy. Good reversal from Martel hooking in a sleeper off of a suplex attempt. Some good selling by Martel as he didn’t get much offense in during the first half. Race working a slow, methodical pace. Feels like they’re working towards a draw as Harley controls with a headlock halfway in. Martel almost botches a springboard out of the corner. Harley does the Flair corner-bump where he flips over the top to the floor. Race delivered a pair of punches in the corner that would KO an elephant. Brawl on the outside that culiminated with Race taking a crazy back drop on the floor was probably the best part of the match.

J: The announcers keep comparing these two in the same light, at this point, as far as accomplishments and work ethic, that’s a hard sell but as far as what they are doing in the ring during this match, Martel looks on equal footing with Race here. Martel’s selling was on, no doubt, but that springboard was a complete botch. Had the same feeling of the draw aspect, but the back and forth did keep my eyes on their toes (?) as I liked that aspect of this. Having a dirty brawl outside and ending that way cheapens what they tried to do here and had heat like you wouldn’t believe but keeps this thing out of my recommended category.

9) 10-Woman Battle Royal – J: 2 A: 1

J: This is one of the more sexist things I’ve ever written on this blog, but I think I’ve pinpointed a genetic anamoly that occurred sometime during when the 90’s came around: Women have gotten much, much hotter as a whole. I mean, some of these brutes were so scary, I hate to use the word “dogpound” but….if the collar fits. I haven’t even gotten into the wrestling, on a whole, I saw a couple good moves but a battle royal is about fighting and their fighting looked about as real as Donald Trump’s chances of becoming our next president. There was a strange false finish, which was possibly the only heel victory on the whole show when Sherri emerged to deposit Candi Devine on no so devine backside. One spot I must mention, forgive for me not knowing who they were, but one woman was trying with all the strength in her body to suplex another one over the top for an elimination and would not give up, but man time stood still waiting for her to accomplish this; it took several tries.

A: Never heard of half of these ladies before … or since, however it did feature Sensational Sherri and a young Luna Vachon. These were some scary looking women, so scary in fact that Freddy Krueger probably wouldn’t jump in the sack with half of them. Enough with the sexist comments, let’s look at the match. To be honest, I couldn’t really tell what was even going on until it got down to about three ladies. Highlight for me was Sherri taking a wild dropkick from Debbie Combs. Ladies legend Joyce Grable through a few nasty shots too but the match didn’t really amount to anything at all.

10) Kamala vs. Sgt. Slaughter – A: 4 J: 3

A: Not exactly what I was expecting from the outset. I was expecting a big brawling type match but the pace was kept methodical early and they worked a nerve hold to kill some time. Slaughter did an awesome sell after getting hit with a foreign object. Great spot where Slaughter slammed Kamala. Man, Kamala is great at selling big offensive moves! Crowd got really into this when Slaughter was on offense, until then they just sat on their hands. Wish there hadn’t been a DQ finish as it was just starting to get good.

J: I have no problem with nerve holds, but that started out the match and I think that psych sucks. Yeah Kamala was reverberating like a giant Jello mold after that slam. Those slow motion clotheslines were quite a sight as well. I actually really wanted to like this, as watching some Texas stuff I’ve started garnering a small respect for Kamala, but this seemed pretty planned out and didn’t get past the 6 minute mark.

11) The Longriders (“Wild” Bill & Scott “Hog” Irwin) vs. Curt Hennig & Scott Hall – J: 4 A: 4

J: This bout features two guys who went on to be huge stars in their profession and the other two guys, well, did not. Watching this bout, you can see there’s a reason for that. Hall was greener than allergy mucus and seemed like a novice dancer, not sure what spot to stand in for each spot. But he had the basics down. Hennig was dynamite, and I think he’s quickly moving into my top 10 of all time great punchers. His 1st offensive flurry consists of coming in and lighting up Irwin’s face like he’s toking some hasheesh with Wade Boggs. This is also one of those old time matches where Hennig works a headlock for like 65% of the time he’s on offense. Wild Bill is known to all of us World Class-ophites and if ever there was a good illustration of the wrestling term “good hand”, it’s pretty much him. His selling is a bit cartoonish, he has a good boot and knows how to move crowd heat up and down and that’s the extent of it. Now Scott, he’s a load of crap. I could totally see him being that loud obnoxious guy in a bar, who’s always had too many, pinches all the waitresses’ asses and will end up being punched out by the end of the night. He can’t punch, he can’t sell, he’s useless. Finish was prettier than Trish in a see through nightie.

A: Wild Bill had a decent career, a short stint in ’93 WCW and then resurfacing in ’96 WWF as The Goon, but the real stars of this match were Hall and Hennig. Hall looked so much like Tom Selleck that he could’ve been his stand-in on the film Mr. Baseball. Loved the big punch exchange between Hennig and Bill Irwin. Longriders are very vocal in the ring and just throw hard kicks and punches as their main offense. Curt had a great sell of a Wild Bill clothesline. Hot tag seemed kind of lukewarm. Hennig was just a bump machine throughout the match. Kind of a messy finish where I couldn’t tell who was the legal man after a big brawl.

12) Larry Zbyszko vs. Scott LeDoux – Boxing Match – A: 2 J: 1

A: I’m confused by the stipulations here. This has 10 2-minute rounds and they’re wearing boxing gloves so I can see this being a boxing match. But if it’s a boxing match, then why are they wrestling like it’s a normal match with all the usual moves? End of round 4, LeDoux hits a really telegraphed punch that knocked Zbyszko down and the announcers act like they’ve found the successor to George Foreman. Round 5 ends rather abruptly with special ref Larry Hennig calling for a DQ after Zbyszko rammed LeDoux into the ringpost.

J: I think this was one of those wrestler v. boxer matches that happened often back in the day, where both sets of rules apply. I have to say, this blew large green chunks of shit you didn’t even know you ate. Zybyzsko was just doing all his usual killing time shit and I just wanted this to end. Hell yeah that was telegraphed, as a matter of fact, I received an actual telegraph from Larry Hennig from 1986 telling me that punch was coming and it’s a fuckin ugly work. Thanks Ax

13) Stan Hansen vs. Nick Bockwinkel – J: 4 A: 5

J: I’m realizing that there’s a small treasure trove of really good Hansen US dream matches that he worked before he ever went to Japan. I discovered one from Florida last year where he and Harley Race fought the Road Warriors. Here’s another one. Hate this only got 10 minutes as the mat work was really awesome here. Hansen was hanging with Bock in reversals and they were coming a plenty. This was the most mat work I’ve seen Hansen do actually. Bock was such a pro, I think he topped Sarge’s body slam from earlier in the show with a slick one here on Hansen. I think if this match had went in a different direction, it could have been the star of the night.

A: The more I see of Bockwinkel, the more I love his work. To me, he’s the Ric Flair of the AWA, suave and debonaire, great on the mic, and able to work and adapt to any style as evidenced here. Some great little brawling segments where they just trade shots and wail on each other. Bock’s facials on selling were just fantastic, especially the spot where Hansen was choking him on the apron. Ref bump I though was unneccesary as was the over-the-top rope DQ finish. More time would’ve helped this a lot but having a bad finish along with a truncated version of what could’ve been a really great match keeps me from issuing a recommended rating.

14) Bruiser Brody & Nord the Barbarian vs. Jimmy Snuka & Greg Gagne – Steel Cage Match – A: 5 J: 5

A: I remember seeing this match on an episode of AWA on ESPN Classic and not thinking much of it. Gagne seemed really fired up and really motivated for some reason. Maybe someone put ants in his pants or something. Stiff looking piledriver from Brody. I think this may have been Snuka’s only shot for the AWA but I’m not sure. After seeing him here, I can understand why Verne never brought him back as his performance was complete shit. Gagne and Brody both got some serious blood. Lots of brawling at the end with Brody getting dropkicked and tripping over Gagne allowing Snuka to get the pin.

J: So you’re saying, if you’d run into Greg post match, you would have asked him “Are those ants in your pockets or are you just happy to see me?” This may have been my favorite bout of the night, it’s not the prettiest, but neither is Cheryl Hines and for some reason I have a cougar crush on her. I think this is the most motivated Greg Gagne I’ve seen, his selling and stature really made his opponents seem like Viking giants come to claim our lands and women while raping and pillaging everything in their way. Snuka was obviously inebriated with some sort of illegal substance; he didn’t contribute a lot but did get off his typical highspots; disappointing because I was really looking forward to seeing him in action. Brody was just as fun as always here, giving and taking, piledriving and booting and Nord was just tall.

15) Verne Gagne vs. Adnan Al-Kassie – Steel Cage Match – J: 1 A: 2

J: This was a post match stip for old Verne, and yes, he did semi-main this show against a manager that went 4 minutes. He busted Kassie open pretty gnarly but other than that this was as flaccid as Verne himself at this time.

A: Jessie pretty much covered this one. Best part was seeing Adnan get busted open really bad.

16) Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin vs. The Road Warriors – Steel Cage Match – A: 4 J: 3

A: This felt quite short. Hawk took a piledriver right at the beginning and completely no-sold it. Match seemed like it was just all four guys brawling with each other. Only wrestling hold I remember seeing was a figure-four. Garvin and Hayes had facial reactions like they were afraid to lock horns with the Road Warriors. Hayes got out a foreign object for the finish and accidentally hit Garvin coming off the top rope. Fun little match to close out a rather bland show.

J: Hell yeah this was short, what a rib. I didn’t have as much fun watching this one as Adam did. After seeing so many quality performances from Hayes & Garvin in World Class, you could tell they were either a) goldbricking it here or b) too damn scared to get pummeled from the LOD. This is one of those things that on paper look good but after it’s all over it doesn’t do anyone a damn bit of good, sort of like Charlie Sheen’s comedy tour.


Brian said...

not bad gentlemen.. - sounds like a rough show, though.. with nothing really scoring recommended status.. - loved Jess' motorboat line.. - yea Adam Scott Hall couldn't have been Selleck's double as Mr. Baseball wouldn't come out for another six years.. - i wonder why Zumhoffe didn't attend Mitsuharu's wake.. must have had a gig

Jessie said...

thanks...i quite enjoyed the end result....nope, not at all....felt akin to an early Mania where they book so many matches nothing gets much time.....i could see someone recommending that tag cage as it had a lot of merit

Anonymous said...

You read 100 Years of Solitude? Damn, you're a braver man than I.

Jessie said...

haha....there we go....someone got it....yes....i struggled through most of the middle.....had to take notes to keep the names straight since every generation has someone of the same name.....the ending blew my mind

Anonymous said...

just watched this on WWE Classics. Verne didn't have to fly Baba & Tiger Mask in for the show, they were already in the US for NWA's Crockett Cup the night before WrestleRock. It may not of been a good match but if you have the chance to get a Japanese wrestling legend like Baba on your show it's foolish to pass it up. Maybe they should of had Baba & Midnight Rockers vs Rose, Somers & DeBeers. I think this show could have been great using all of the same talent if there were a few minor changes to the card & maybe the location because the crowd was weak.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blog after Googling the card match-ups. It was a fun read. I didn't see the whole event but the syndicated AWA program I watched as a kid in Denver featured a music video with highlights that I wore out on a VHS I taped. Check it out.

Burning Down the House came on while I was in the pool today and that's how this whole thing came up.

On a side note, Snuka did wrestle a few more matches in the AWA after his Wrestlerock appearance. He feuded with Colonel Debeers after the latter interfered in a Snuka match, knocking him off the top rope, busting him wide open and putting him out of action for a while with a "neck injury". I'm sure there's video on Youtube. I remember being really worried about him (I was 11 and couldn't bring myself to believe it was all staged).

Anyway, thanks for the memories.