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AWA SuperClash III

by Scrooge McSuck

- To be fair, this wasn't just an AWA show, as talent was borrowed from other promotions, such as World Class Wrestling Association (formerly WCCW), Memphis' Championship Wrestling Association, and some women's company (Powerful Women of Wrestling?). Imagine the AWA, in the Winter of 1988, trying to sell a PPV with just their talent. This was after the WWF's latest raid of names such as Curt Hennig and the Midnight Rockers, so just imagine how depleted it was at that point.

Personally, I've never been a fan of the AWA. I know they were home to some big stars over the years, and were easily the most brutally raided by Vince McMahon during the 80's Expansion, but honestly, from 1986 and on, how much did the AWA really contribute to the wrestling world? How many people bring up wrestling from the late 80's and say "hey, remember how awesome the AWA was?" Anyway, personal opinion of the company aside, the drama and fall-out for this show can be found online with a simple google search, so let's get to the action...

- Originally broadcasted on Pay-Per-View (yipes) from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, IL, with a pathetic gate of roughly 1,600 people. Unless each of those marks paid $10,000 per ticket, I don't see this being a financial success... did I mention that Vern Gagne practically stiffed everyone of a pay day for this show, too? Some people deserve what they get in the end. Speaking of that miserable douchebag, he's joining Lee Marshall at the broadcast table.

Opening Match: Chavo, Hector, and Mondo Guerrero vs. Cactus Jack & The Rock N' Roll RPM's:

If there was ever proof I was a WWF fan (and lesser extent, a WCW fan), here it is: I have absolutely zero knowledge on any Guerrero other than Eddie and Chavo Jr., and I have no clue who the RnR RPM's are. It's Tommy Lane and Mike Davis, according to a Wikipedia search. Cactus (Mick Foley) was pretty much an unknown on the national scale. Hector (looking most like Eddie) and Lane start. They do a criss-cross that wipes both RPM's out, and Hector with the head scissors/headlock double takeover. Cactus and Mondo go at it next... and hey, it's Mike Enos, a.k.a Blake Beverly, as the referee. Cactus dumps Mondo to the floor, but takes a beating and back drop on the exposed concrete. Mondo sweeps the leg, and the Guerrero's take turns working the leg. Cactus tags out to Davis (I'm assuming). We're getting ZERO information about the heels, so you know this is a squash. Chavo takes him over with a head scissors, continuing a trend. Chavo ducks a double clothesline and body presses both men. The Guerreros with splashes to all three heels for a dog pile, and thankfully Enos doesn't make the count. Cactus with a snapmare and elbow on Chavo for two. Chavo ends playing face-in-peril for about a minute. Hector with dropkicks to all three heels. We get heel miscommuncation, Mondo and Hector with planchas to the floor (we miss Hector's thanks to poor camera work) and Chavo with a top rope moonsault onto Lane for the three count at 6:35. The Guerrero's were energetic and tried to get the crowd into it, so kudos to them. Just a squash to open the card.

- Jerry Nelson is with Nina, the P.O.W.W. Champion. No, despite the company being Powerful Women of Wrestling, the initials are formed into POWW. What clever marketing. Nelson says this is a serious competition. I say he's full of shit. Nina would go on to more fame as Ivory in the WWF by the 90's end.

WCCW Light-Heavyweight Championship Match:
Jeff Jarrett vs. "Flambuoyant" Eric Embry:

You know it's a blast from the past when Jeff Jarrett is a Light-Heavyweight. I guess back then, anything under 235 was considered Light-Heavyweight, but whatever. Jarrett was green as baby snot at this point, and Embry was a few months away from being the face of USWA and being the main opposition to Devastation, Inc. A few months back YouTube had a great playlist of that saga, not sure if it's still available. Lockup, with neither man gaining the advantage. They trade hammerlocks until Embry grabs the ropes in frustration. Wristlock sequence ends in another stalemate. They fight over a hip toss until being tangled up in the ropes, again. Embry counters an arm bar with a hip toss, then puts Jarrett down with a clothesline. Jarrett returns the favor, but misses a body press, spilling to the floor in the process. Back inside, Embry works the arm. Whip to the corner, Embry meets the boot on a charge. Jarrett with a missile dropkick from the second rope, but the shoulder still hurts. Sunset flip by Jarrett for two. Backslide for another two count. Small package for one. Embry counters another sunset flip and rolls Jarrett up for three at 4:13, making him a 4-Time Champion of a belt created barely a year earlier. This had potential, but had a start, a finish, and no middle. Lee Marshall gets a post-match interview from Embry.

"Boogie-Woogie Man" Jimmy Valiant vs. Wayne Bloom:

Here we go with an AWA Exclusive Match, on PPV, and it's a Jobber against a guy I would generously say was 10 years past his prime, except for the fact Jimmy Valiant never really had a prime. Yes, that's a rip off from Major League, go and watch it in honor of pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training. Bloom attacks before the bell with rights and stomping. Valiant sells poorly and mounts the comeback with rights of his own. Whip to the ropes, elbow, and an elbow drop gets a bogus three count at the 24-second mark. Are you kidding me? What's the point of this horseshit ON A PAY PER VIEW?! This would be like WWF putting on WrestleMania IV, and having, say, Ted Dibiase squash Rex King. What is the friggin' point.

- We continue to hype the $10,000 Women's Battle Royale... I don't think the entire gate of this card would cover that kayfabe amount. David McLane is there too, looking like someone who might touch people of an inappropriate age. The POWW Lingerie Street Fight Battle Royal is coming up later... Vince Russo would love that over-booking nonsense.

WCCW Texas Heavyweight Championship Match:
"Iceman" King Parsons vs. Brickhouse Brown:

Another Championship Match, and I'm pretty sure neither man has anything to do with the AWA. How did they get Gary Michael Cappetta to do ring introductions? I thought he was working for JCP/WCW. Trash talking and shoving to start. Brown comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle and sends Parsons to the floor with a dropkick. Back in the ring, Brown grabs a headlock. Gagne is absolutely worthless on commentary, by the way, meaning LEE MARSHALL is carrying things. Sloppy as hell swinging neckbreaker turned into a pin attempt for two, and it's back to the floor for Parsons. Criss-cross sequence ends with Parsons hitting a running high knee, Harley Race style. Parsons with a clothesline for two. Snap suplex for another two count. Brown ducks under a clothesline and comes off the ropes with a body press for two. Parsons with a pair of lefts for two. He sets for a piledriver, but Brown back drops free. Brown with boots to the midsection, followed by rights and lefts. Parson begs him off, with no luck. Whip to the ropes, Brown with a back elbow. Whip to te ropes again, and a diving forearm hits weakly. Parsons grabs a foreign object, KO's Brown, and covers for three at 5:41. Another brutally rushed match, but I'm not complaining here. All punch-kick or sloppy in general.

Mixed Tag Team Match: Top Guns & Wendi Richter vs. Badd Company & Medusa Miceli (w/ Diamond Dallas Page):

The over-booking continues. Both the AWA Ladies and AWA Tag Team Championships are on the line, and it's only men vs. men and woman vs. woman. I've seen Rice do jobs on WWF syndication back when, but have no knowledge of Derrick Dukes, and we all know the fate of Wendi Richter (the original Screwjob). Bad(d) Company (har har...) is a less gimmicked Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond (a.k.a the good version of the Orient Express), and Medusa went on to WWF fame as Alundra Blayze and dumping the WWF Women's Belt in the trash on WCW Nitro. DDP is currently getting Jake Roberts clean via a Yoga workout. Talk about a mouthful of an introduction.

Everyone brawls to start things, with the faces in control. Top Guns (har har...) with a diving elbow on Tanaka. Whip to the ropes, and Dukes slingshots in with a shoulder. Tanaka takes flight on a back drop, but the referee is distracted. Dukes works an armbar, because you need resting in a 6-person tag and a match that will be horribly short. Tanaka over-sells a clothesline that had no business getting that good of a selling treatment. Diamond with a knee from the apron, then comes in with a side suplex. Diamond with a double underhook suplex for two. Medusa gets a cheap shot in, as does Tanaka. Diamond misses a dive into the corner, a spot he used often as Kato in the WWF. Richter tags in, so that brings Medusa in. She hangs Richter across the top rope, then takes her over with a suplex. Whip to the ropes, and Richter misses a dropkick. She recovers to powerbomb Medusa, but it only gets two. Everyone brawls (again), until we get heel miscommunication from Tanaka and Medusa. Richter covers, and it's three at 5:43, retaining her title. Post-match, the Guns spank Medusa, because that's the classy thing for babyfaces to do. The Top Guns celebrate like they won the titles, too, but only the winning fall decided the title change. Match was an ugly mess towards the end, and just typical paint-by-numbers formula the rest of the time.

AWA International Television Championship Match:
Greg Gagne vs. Ron Garvin:

The title is held up here for reasons no one cares to explain. I bet Greg got a cut of the gates, because.... you know. The crowd boos him, because he sucks and was pushed down everyone's throat like the second coming of Jesus. Lockup around the ring until Garvin introduces Gagne to the turnbuckle. Gagne misses a charge to the corner, Garvin with a takeover and slaps on a chinlock. Gagne fights back with rights and chops, followed by a back drop for two. Gagne looks absolutely pathetic as any kind of serious threat for the top of any promotion, daddy booker or not. They do a few more near falls before going to a stand off. Gagne works the arm, boring the crowd to sleep. They trade blows, but somehow Garvin's hands of stone aren't dominating like they should. More stuff happens for the sake of happening. Gagne with mounted blows in the corner. He goes for the dropkick, but Garvin hooks the ropes to escape. Garvin with a small package for two. They tumble over the ropes (after an hour of trying) on a body press. Garvin practically threw himself over. They brawl until Gagne rolls in the ring to beat the count, winning the disputed title at 5:52 to a chorus of boos. Nice of Greg to job the belt to himself, then never lose it before retiring. Class fucking act them Gagne's, weren't they? Gagne's nepotism continued, and Garvin literally showed up on WWF television the next week.

P.O.W.W. Lingerie Street Fight Battle Royale for $10,000:

(Participants: Nina, Luna Vachon, Pali The Syrian Terrorist, Bambi, Peggy Lee Leather, Brandi Mae, Malibu, Laurie Lynn, and Pocohantas)
This has classic written all over it. You can win by being tossed out or stripped of your clothes. And people thought women's wrestling was set back during the Attitude Era. Hard to set something back that had nowhere to go back to in the first place. I'm guessinf the heavy set girl is heel. David McLane is on commentary for this, by the way. Laurie Lynn is thrown out first. Luna is nearly pantsed by Pocohantas while McLane nearly soils himself. This is embarrassing on so many levels. Almost as bad as my lack of spell chekking. Pocohants is elminated. Nina and Malibu are both thrown out. Peggy Lee Leather gets nailed with a clothesline, but not out. Bambi with a crummy hip toss on Peggy Lee. They blow a spot near the ropes, it seems. Peggy Lee and Bambi are both thrown out by Brandi Mae while fighting on the top rope. Luna to the top, but she gets crotched and takes a neat bump to the floor, leaving Brandi Mae and the Terrorist. They play cat-and-mouse for a while until Brandi Mae (the Farmer's Daughter, duh) starts ripping at the Terrorist's clothes. This nightmare keeps dragging on until Brandi Mae is thrown out at 8:36, giving it to the Terrorist. Absolute disgrace to women, wrestling, and anyone with an ounce of decency. How did THIS get more time than anything else, so far?

- Bill Apter gives the PWI Inspirational Wrestler of 1988 Award to Jerry "The King" Lawler. I say fix.

Boot Camp Match: Sgt. Slaughter vs. Col. DeBeers (w/ Diamond Dallas Page):

I'm not too familiar with Slaughter and the G.I. Joe license, but he's constantly listed as G.I. Joe: America's Hero on the screen graphics. Another AWA vs. AWA match, so you can expect the usual here. Col. DeBeers is working the South-African white supremicists angle back when it made sense, in comparison to the WWF Truth Commission in the tail end of the 1990's. Slugfest to start, won by Slaughter. He quickly goes to work on Debeers with... something. It must've been his riding crop. DeBeers with a cheap shot (not really, but play along) and chokes Slaughter out with his belt. You know how sad this crowd is? It's almost entirely in the dark, and you can still see a big section of empty red chairs on the main camera view. Slaughter with a snapmare, followed by a stomp to the face. He dumps DeBeers over the top, to the floor. More aimless brawling from DeBeers and Slaughter. DeBeers puts on Slaughter's combat helmet and bops him with it. Now that's just mean. DDP tries to get involved, and you guessed it, HEEL MISCOMMUNICATION! Slaughter with a clothesline and headbutt's DeBeers repeatedly with the helmet on. Whip to the ropes, clothesline, and Slaughter slaps on the Cobra Clutch for the submission victory at 5:38. Suddenly, Shiek Adnan Al-Kahassey (eventually known as General Adnan) runs in, as does the Iron Sheik. They do a beatdown on Slaughter, because using the Iron Shiek simply for a run in makes a lot of sense. Speaking of making sense, the Guerrero's make the save and Slaughter blades. Match was complete trash, by the way.

WCCW Tag Team Championship Match:
The Samoan Swat Team (w/ Buddy Roberts) vs. Michael P.S. Hayes & Steve Cox:

For those unfamiliar, the SST are Samu and Fatu, also known by their WWF name, the Headshrinkers. Hayes is doing a sort-of protege angle with Cox, but considering Hayes wound up back in WCW by the end of January, I don't think there was much to it. Hayes and Samu start, locking up into the corner. They slug it out, and surprisingly, Samu sells the shots to the head. Cox tags in and quickly starts working on the left arm. Fatu casually runs in to attack, but Cox holds onto the arm, and Hayes crotches Fatu between the ropes as payback. Whip to the ropes, Samu misses a body press, and Cox back to the armbar. Cox avoids a double team effort in the corner, giving us another example of heel miscommunication. They try again, with the same end result. Whip to the ropes, Fatu pulls them down, causing Cox to spill to the floor. Samu sends Cox to the ropes, and slams him down face-first, courtesy of two handfuls of hair. Fatu to the top with a sledge. Whip to the ropes, and he drops Cox across the top rope, Hot Shot style. Fatu with a snapmare, and it's time for a samoan death grip. Cox with elbows to escape, and a double clothesline puts both men down. Hayes gets the hot tag and unloads on both Samoans. Everyone slugs it out and Cox with a no-hands plancha onto Samu. Hayes with a DDT on Fatu, but the referee is distracted. Roberts runs in and KO's Hayes, allowing Fatu to roll on top for the three count at 7:53 to retain. I didn't expect Hayes to take the fall. Not great or anything, but very lively, as if everyone involved gave a shit.

Indian Strap Match: Manny Fernandez vs. Wahoo McDaniel:

For reasons unknown, we're introduced to IWGP Heavyweight Champion Tatsumi Fujinami before the match. Fernandez takes exception to this, and winds up being double teamed before we can officially start the match. I'm pretty sure this is an AWA Exclusive. I guess this feud included the ever-classic destruction of a sacred head-dress. See also: Tatanka, I.R.S. Wahoo whips Fernandez, then snaps him over with the strap. Fernandez takes over with chops, but can't drag Wahoo's old, wrinkled ass around the ring (50 years and counting here), so he slaps on a front facelock. Crowd sounds less than thrilled, to say the least. Wahoo blades for the sake of blading, and you can tell he took his aspirin that morning. More slaps, chops, and whipping with the strap. That's been the entire match. Fernandez blades, too. Showing color - the alternative to actually working a good match. I never understood the "pull the opponent" to the corners idea... why not fight until there's a pinfall or submission? What purpose does dragging someone around the ring have? It's not exactly a match that's produced more than a handful of classics, either. Things keep dragging until Wahoo touches 'em all at 7:48. Sucked, next please.

Main Event; AWA/WCCW World Heavyweight Championship Unification:
Kerry Von Erich (WCCW Champion) vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler (AWA Champion):

Here's a main event for you... I'm surprised this match only drew a miserable 1,500, but I guess Chicago isn't Memphis, and the Von Erich's light had slowly dimmed as the 80's progressed. Lawler won the belt from Hennig (on his way out to the WWF) back in the early days of Summer. Von Erich's pre-match promo is damn near incoherent, too. Surprised? Lockup to the corner, Von Erich mises a cheap shot and Lawler rams the arm across the buckle. Von Erich apparently sliced his arm during introductions, when taking off his robe. REALLY? Lawler tries for a cheap shot in the corner, also unsuccessfully, and gets sent to the floor to rethink his strategy. In a cheap way to get them over, Marshall runs down Hogan, Randy Savage, and Ric Flair as having lost to Lawler and Von Erich in the past. I don't have a problem with a simple nod to history, but running down THE WORLD CHAMPION'S of the two biggest companies, and the overall biggest star in the world, is low class territory. Von Erich with a surprise roll up for two. They lock knuckles for a test of strength, advantage to Von Erich. Lawler sweeps the leg to escape, but misses a fist drop, and Von Erich connects with a clothesline for two. Lawler grabs the arm and starts gnawing at the cut like a savage beast. Lawler with jabs in the corner, and a big right sends Von Erich over the top, to the floor. They slug it out from the apron with Von Erich coming out on top, but a splash back into the ring meets the knees.

Lawler drives a knee into the midsection and connects with his signature piledriver, but Von Erich pops up as if he were a Road Warrior, and connects with a discuss punch for two. Von Erich with a snapmare and goes for the Claw, but Lawler's blocking. Lawler with a snapmare for two. Von Erich with a piledriver of his own, but the referee was knocked loopy during the last kick-out. He recovers in time to make a two count. They spill to the floor, allowing Kerry to work in the discuss punch hits the post spot. Lawler digs deep for a foreign object and levels Von Erich with a simple right. He climbs the ropes and connects with a fist drop. Looks like Von Erich has bladed, and it's looking good. Lawler continues to attack the cut, but one too many attempts leads him into leaping right into the Claw. Von Erich switches from the midsection to the head, and he's looking like a bloody mess. Lawler hooks the ropes to force a break, but Von Erich goes right back to the Claw, dead center in the ring. Whip to the corner, Von Erich misses a charge. Lawler with another cheap shot from the mysterious, unseen weapon in his trunks, then whacks Von Erich again after letting the refere check his trunks. Lawler pounds away on Von Erich like a punching bag, showing off his famous Rocky impersonation. Von Erich offers a comeback and gets two off of a punch. He goes to the Claw again, and suddenly the referee calls for the bell at 18:53, awarding the match to Lawler because of Von Erich's awful, awful cut. You know, if you're going to do that finish, make it look like the bleeding is effecting the wrestler. He has never once shown any signs of fatigue from the blood loss. "Bullshit" chant errupts. OK Match, but I'm not particularly fond of the style that either man works, so it's hard to enjoy.

The Rock 'n' Roll Express vs. The Stud Stable (w/ Miss Sylvia):
(Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson vs. Robert Fuller & Jimmy Golden)

No introductions here, which seems quite odd. I don't see the point of "one more match", other than to send the fans home happy, but the last finish was just too stupid and disappointing that putting the RnR Express over isn't going to do much to sway anyone's opinion. Robert Fuller is probably better known (maybe) as Col. Robert Parker in WCW (and a very brief WWF run as Tennessee Lee), and Golden wound up as his protege Bunkhouse Buck. Go figure. Morton and Golden start. Morton grabs a headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder. Criss-cross ends with a hip toss. Fuller runs in and meets a dropkick, and the Express quickly clear the ring. Morton works a bridge out of a pin attempt, then takes Golden over with a suplex. The Express clean house again, forcing the Stud Stable to come up with a new plan. Gibson and Fuller (battle of the Robert's!) do a criss-cross sequence until Golden rams a knee into the back of Gibson. Sylvia with a cheap shot with the kendo stick. Back inside, Robert gets to roleplay, getting to fill the role of Ricky Morton. Gibston gets tossed to the floor and takes another beating with the kendo stick. Golden with an abdominal stretch, and I'm too bored to make the usual joke. Morton gets the hot tag, some stuff happens, and a brawl on the floor ends in a DOUBLE DISQUALIFICATION? FOR WHAT?! Wow, you give the fans a go home happy match and fuck that up too. Way to go. Match was completely paint-by-numbers, too.

Final Thoughts: I'm not going to lie, this was a hard show to get through. There was a decent opener, a solid tag match for the WCCW Tag Titles, and a good, if disappointingly short effort between Jarrett and Embry. Even Lawler vs. Von Erich had its moments, and I'm sure others would enjoy it more. However, this card is littered with some really odd choices: the pointless strap match, the pointless boot camp match, the "I'm embarrassed being a member of the human race" Women's battle royale, a squash match featuring someone pushing 60 years old, and a complete trainwreck of a mixed tag match where even the employees didn't know what the accurate stipulations were. Throw in the fan-backlash to Super-Gagne going over and one of the cheapest, lamest, suckiest ways to not job someone in a match that needed a decisive winner, and you have yourself one hell of a trainwreck for a PPV.

While not on level of the atrociousness we would see in years later from Independent promoters like the guy behind Heroes of Wrestling, Rodman Down Under, or most of those WWA PPV's from 2002-2004, the fallout after the show is far more interesting than the mediocre at best wrestling put on. According to who you want to believe (anyone other than the Gagne's makes good sense), outside of a handful of people, the payouts for most of the talent used, even main event draw Jerry Lawler, never came to be. Most notably, Lawler, in protest, held the AWA Title hostage for his payday, and ended up never giving it back (they just made a newer version), and AWA managed to burn every last bridge when it came to having a working relationship with any of the territories that still had life in them. Obviously AWA's problems would continue, to the point they were doing some TV tapings in a big pink room and working live tapings in front of a scattered couple hundred people before going out with barely a whimper. Strongest recommendation to avoid the show, but reading and hearing about what a colossal dumpster fire the promotion became in the late 80's is always a good waste of time.

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