Wednesday, January 9, 2013

AWA History Part 2

 I'm finally back with an update and it's another installment of AWA matches.  Lead-up history for each match is in italics, courtesy of khawk20 from the DVDVR boards.

Nick Bockwinkel w/Bobby Heenan v. Billy Robinson-December 25, 1981, St. Paul Civic Center
This was Bockwinkel’s first major title defense in the Twin Cities after his feud with Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie had dominated the cards in that area in the late summer and fall. Robinson, as noted, was a perennial challenger to Bockwinkel and was an ideal opponent for the big Christmas Night Twin Cities show.
This match started slow with Billy working Bock over with a ton of headlocks. Bock couldn't get a damn thing working. Heenan was in Bock's corner and it was noted that Ken Patera was the newest member of the Heenan Family. Heenan tried to argue with the ref about a hair pull and got on the apron but got shoved back down by the ref. Too bad Gorilla Monsoon wasn't calling this match as he'd have argued that the ref has no business laying his hands on anyone. This thing got going after Bock threw Billy into the ropes, tried a monkey flip that Robinson cart wheeled out of, and fell right into a back drop. 

Then, he tried a hip toss but Bock countered it with his own and Billy hurt his right shoulder. Bockwinkel began working on the shoulder/arm and Billy tried a forearm but hurt himself too much. Bock locked in a mean standing arm bar until Billy finally countered into a double underhook position. However, Nick backed him into the ropes and delivered a stunning right hand that sent Billy flying outside. Billy was mad now and ready to fight as he hit a series of moves and pin attempts. He nailed a hangman's neckbreaker and a suplex into a back breaker on his knee but he tried for a flying kick and missed, landing on the apron. Bock locked in a sleeper and pulled Billy back in over the top rope. Robinson then landed on top of Nick but his shoulders were on the mat and only one of Bock's was. The ref counted three and the place went nuts thinking Billy won and even Heenan thought so. Turns out, the ref counted out Billy for the pin and Bock won as Robinson was quite pissed afterwards. This little gem fired up after a slow build-up and the arena was hot for Billy. The final few minutes were great as Billy had a wonderful comeback.

Hulk Hogan/Baron Von Raschke/Buck Zumhoffe v. Bobby Heenan/Ken Patera/Bobby Duncum-February 28, 1982
In Mid-December of 1981, a TV tag match between Ken Patera & Bobby Duncum and Buck Zumhoffe and Tito Santana ended in chaos with Heenan destroying Buck's Boom-Box Radio and the faces battered and bloodied. Hulk Hogan made the save and as a result it began Hogan's rivalry with The Heenan Family. The aftermath of this match saw Hogan square off with Duncum in January 1982, followed by this 6-man revenge match on the next card. The 6-man match added the Heenan-Zumhoffe rivalry to the mix, which had been off-and-on for a couple of years at this point.
The one thing to be learned from this match is you don't ever want to team with Buck Zumhoffe. Every time this guy came in, he started out on fire but got shut down very quickly! I guess when you have Hulk Hogan on your team, you can afford to make mistakes. Lots of tags in and out with select Heenan spots and lots of weasel chants. One spot I liked was when Zumhoffe tried a cross body on Duncum who basically stood and blocked it as Buck went to the mat hard. Zumhoffe was the only face in peril on two occasions. Baron came in on a hot tag and then Hulk and they did double elbows to Patera and Duncum. 

Later, Buck was hurt again but dodged a Duncum charge in the corner and tagged in Hogan. For some unknown reason, Heenan came running in and Hulk threw Duncum into him. Baron hit the Claw on Duncum but Heenan eye raked him and Zumhoffe came charging in. He went for a middle rope Vader splash and totally missed followed by a pin from Duncum as everyone else was brawling. The brawling continued and Heenan got thrown into a steel post and hit with a chairshot to the head, as he bled. By the end, nothing was really settled and Hulk was just more pissed at Heenan. Lots of heat in this one and Hulk and Heenan were the main draws. Hogan looked like a huge star here.

High Flyers v. Tito Santana/Rick Martel-August 29, 1982
In June of 1982, Santana and Martel won a number #1 Contenders match against Ken Patera and Bobby Duncum to earn a title shot against Gagne and Brunzell. Their first title match, on 7/18/82, was a half-hour scientific affair that ended in a Countout win for the Champions. Brunzell and Martel engaged in a very competitive singles match on the 8/8/82 card, and a rematch of the original tag match was signed for the 8/29 card. The tag division in the AWA was really hot at this point with The High Flyers defending against Santana/Martel, Ray Stevens and Pat Patterson engaged in a series of “#1 contender” matches against Blackwell and Adnan, and Ken Patera and Bobby Duncum (aka “The Black 'n' Blue Express”)  biding their time waiting for a title shot of their own while feuding with Otto Wanz and Baron Von Raschke.
Wow, what a match this was! I'm not easily impressed by matches but this thing was amazing. It was a back-and-forth battle that was built almost perfectly and played out great with a fantastic finish. Martel and Santana were in control in the beginning with headlocks but that all unraveled quickly. They didn't quite dominated as Gagne would fire off counter attempts a lot. Brunzell finally got in and was taken down by Tito going into a commercial break. It resumed and immediately Gagne came in and came off the top with a knee on Tito. He followed that up with an Indian Death Lock that would've made Triple H jealous. The pressure got too much for Greg and Brunzell had to tag in and alleviate him but also went right into a Figure Four to keep work on Tito's knee. Tito rolled him up for a two-count and Brunzell tried again to which Tito kicked him away and tagged in Martel. Martel went to work on Brunzell's kidneys but hurt his own knee on a backbreaker. By this point, it was a complete stand still with Martel and Brunzell both down and they both made tags simultaneously. Tito flew in for a dropkick but Gagne totally saw it coming and dodged it. Santana was going in for the kill on that one. Gagne tried more work on his knee but Tito fought him off and tagged in Martel, who tried another backbreaker but had no problems this time. Tito got a tag and was sent into the ropes. Gagne tried an elbow that Santana ducked and nailed a huge crossbody for a two-count. 
The place was going nuts and Tito was desperate for a win, hitting a dropkick and a slam. He tried a second slam but Gagne got behind him with his sleeper and it was reversed by a mare. Tito was back on offense and hit an atomic drop but Gagne made the tag mid-move and Tito never saw it. Brunzell came in and delivered the hugest dropkick imaginable, right to Tito's head, and got the win. Tito never saw the damn thing coming at all and it was a straight death blow. Tito's facial right before he took the dropkick was priceless and totally oblivious. The announcer said it was like he got hit by a locomotive. Fantastic finish and a fantastic finale that had a couple false finishes that I actually fell for. Go find this match now. 
Dropkick (sorry for the bad pic, it's the best I could do)

Indian Death Lock

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