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AWA SuperClash IV
by Scrooge McSuck
- Who knew we'd be going back to the final days of AWA here at DWS? We've covered the infamous Team Challenge Series, as well as the unaired pilot to the TCS. What more could there have been? Well, the WWE Network uncovered another Hidden Gem that piqued my interest. Most thought the final SuperClash was just a token house show, and based on the lineup, it's hard to argue coming to that conclusion. With the company out of money and running on a shoe-string budget, there's no way they recorded it. We were all wrong. Despite their financial limitations, taping shows in empty rooms, and coasting on fumes, cameras were present for the final AWA "Supercard", and yours truly gets to torture himself one more time.
- Taped on April 8th, 1990, from the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, MN with a reported 2,000 in attendance. Based on their TV tapings at the time, that might be an incredibly generous number. There's tons of empty seats as the camera PANS THE ARENA during the playing of the national anthem (no, the budget didn't allow someone to sing it, just a recording from approximately 1943 over the house speakers). There's no commentary here, which automatically makes it better based on the work of guys like Lee Marshall during those final episodes on ESPN.
- The show opens with the announcement that the Junkyard Dog won't be here due to a "torn knee ligament" suffered in Norfolk the day before. I guess that's carny code for "signed with WCW to stink up the ring against Ric Flair." He'll be replaced on the card by Baron von Rashke, which draws a decent pop. Who knew Minnesotans approved of Nazis?
Jake "The Milkman" Milliman vs. Todd Becker:
Before you complain, remember, WrestleMania VI opened with The Model vs. Koko B. Ware… OK, even that looks better on paper. This is more like if WrestleMania VI opened with Iron Mike Sharpe vs. S.D. Jones. Milliman is a short and stout mainstay of the AWA, best known for his involvement in the infamous Great Turkey Hunt match featured the previous November. Becker attacks from behind and sends Milliman to the corner. Hip toss out of the corner and Becker with a choke across the top rope. Milliman reverses a second whip and hits Becket with a soft elbow before taking him over into an arm-bar. Milliman with a shoulder tackle and back to work on the arm. Becker fights free, plants Milliman with a slam, and grabs a chin-lock. BUT IS IT A SUPER-CHIN-LOCK? No, but he does use the tights to keep Milliman grounded. Milliman escapes with elbows but runs into a knee. Becket with a slam for our first pin attempt of the night. Whip and Milliman with a sunset flip for three at 4:27. Not a lot of finesse here, and more basic than you'd imagine. We're off to a great start. ½*
D.J. Peterson & Brad Rheingans vs. The Texas Hangmen:
The Hangmen are Killer and Psycho. In my final installment of the Team Challenge Series
, I did a brief recap of all the players and where their careers went after AWA folded, so for the sake of going through all that again, I'd highly recommend reading Part IV in that series. I love that the referee signals for the bell and no one rings it. HARD F'N JOB. Rheingans and Psycho start. Lockup into the ropes and Psycho complains about mask pulling. Psycho with a cheap shot over the shoulder f the referee and a rake of the eyes using the top rope. Whip to the ropes and Psycho with a shoulder tackle. Crisscross and Rheingans with a hip toss and working on the arm. Killer tags in and immediately gets caught with a hip toss and slam. Peterson with his own hip toss and arm drag into the arm-bar. A pair of shoulder tackles put Killer back down and Peterson goes back to the arm. Rheingans with a fireman's carry into the short-arm scissors. Psycho comes in and breaks the hold with a double axe-handle. You mean you can just enter the ring and break a hold without distracting the referee?! Rheingans gets caught in the corner and choked with the bull rope. Whip and Rheingans surprises Psycho with a rolling cradle for two. He connects with a tilted back suplex, but Psycho recovers first and grabs a chin-lock. Oh God, he busted out the shin over the neck choke? When was he trained, 1963? Rheingans with a German Suplex but Killer saves. We get heel miscommunication, allowing Peterson to FINALLY tag back in. He hits both Hangmen with a double clothesline and nails Psycho with a dropkick. Whip and a power-slam for two. Whip and a double clothesline puts both men down. One fan can clearly be heard yelling, "YOU FAT TUB OF SH*T." Killer makes the illegal switch and cradles Peterson for three at 11:57. Peterson earned that paycheck, working maybe 90-seconds of that. Wait, who am I kidding, the check probably bounced. OK-ish, I guess. *1/2
Baron von Raschke vs. Col. DeBeers (w/ Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie):
Oh God, please keep this short. I've had the privilege of covering DeBeers in the AWA and Herb Abrams UWF. By privilege I mean misfortune. Raschke is "only" 49 here, but he looks older than dirt, and DeBeers, only 5 years his Junior, looks a generation younger. We've got a Nazi vs. pro-Apartheid South African. I guess I'm rooting for the Nazi, too? I'll set the over/under for actual wrestling moves at 4.5. DeBeers teases an attack, but Raschke sees him. He sends DeBeers into the buckle, so Col. Mustard takes a powder on the floor. Back inside, Raschke works the arm, but DeBeers makes the ropes. Whip to the corner and DeBeers misses a charge. Raschke teases the CLAW, but DeBeers hides. They play that up a lot. DeBeers climbs the ropes and gets slammed down. He doesn't sell for long, raking the Baron's eyes across the ropes and pounding away in the corner. DeBeers with a slam, but he misses a diving headbutt from the top rope. Raschke with the Nazi Rally. His strikes are so soft, how did he get over?! DeBeers gets trapped in the Andre Special, AND THE NAZI GOOSESTEPS TO FIRE UP THE CROWD. Al-Kaissie saves DeBeers from the CLAW and takes the hold himself. The distraction allows DeBeers to attack from behind, but Raschke sees through that and grabs him with the Claw, too. Suddenly, the bell rings at 6:19, and the referee awards the match to Baron von Raschke by Count-Out. I would've guessed Disqualification. This lived down to my expectations. -**
Tommy Jammer vs. Tully Blanchard:
Yes, Blanchard did some work for the AWA after his termination from the WWF and Jim Herd reneging on the contract offered to him due to his substance abuse. It didn't hurt Tully's dad was working for the company at the time. Lockup to the ropes and Jammer gives a clean break. Jammer reminds me of a nondescript character in a second-rate side-scrolling beat-‘em-up. Blanchard with a bit of chain wrestling, but Jammer counters and drags him in from the apron with a hammerlock. Blanchard scrambles for the ropes and takes a powder… insert your own cocaine joke here. Back inside, Jammer avoids a cheap shot in the corner and works the arm. They should've called this Arm-Bar Clash IV. They must be pacing to go long with the work they've done. Jammer rolls through a snap mare with the arm-bar applied. Blanchard has a manager at ringside that I don't recall ever seeing in any of my AWA recaps. I want to say it's Bert Prentice, but he seems too small. Blanchard escapes long enough to take a bump from a hip toss before we go back. To. The. F*CKING. ARM. Blanchard finally escapes and throws Jammer to the floor. Jammer doesn't waste time going back to what brought him to the dance, an offense straight out of second day training camp. Blanchard escapes and goes for a half-assed crab, but Jammer sends him to the floor. Why is Jammer taking the entire match? They seriously aren't going 30-minutes, are they? Blanchard with a handful of tights to throw Jammer out, again. Back inside, Tully with a snap mare and knee across the chest. Whip to the corner and Jammer lands a knee to the midsection. Whip and Jammer counters a hip toss with an abdominal stretch. Tubby McGee's distraction does nothing. Jammer goes for a suplex, but Fats Domino's Pizza sweeps the leg and holds it down, allowing Blanchard to get three at 14:54. Post-match, Blanchard gives Jammer an atomic drop on the concrete. YOU MONSTER. He makes up for the weak sauce of that by repeatedly smashing the guy's knee with a chair. That's 15-minutes of my life wasted. Tully couldn't find Jesus faster. Out of respect for Blanchard's dead career, call it a DUD.
Yukon John Nord vs. Kokina Maximus (w/ Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie):
We've got future Berzerker vs. Yokozuna. I'm intrigued by this one. Couldn't be any worse or any more boring than the last two matches, right? ... RIGHT?! Most of our underneath geeks are hanging around as Lumberjacks. Nord playfully puts his fur headgear on the referee and takes a bump for the hell of it. Now the bell rings without the referee's signal. Whatever. Just get this how over with. Shoving match to start. Lockup into the ropes and a semi-clean break from Maximus. Nord blocks a cheap shot in the corner and rocks him with a right hand. They do a test-of-strength, and boy this crowd does not give a crap. I particularly enjoy the one guy resting his head on his hand in boredom. Kokina no-sells a chop and barely budges from a shoulder tackle. Nord goes with Plan B, a side headlock. Plan A would've been the arm-bar, for those wondering. Nord with more shoulder tackles, rocking the giant Samoan. Crisscross and a diving shoulder tackle finally takes him off his feet. Maximus bails, and the lumberjacks are doing a sh*t job of restoring order. Back inside, Kokina rocks Nord with a headbutt and chokes away in the corner. Snap mare and Kokina with his (in)famous nerve hold. He must be channeling 1995 Yokozuna, because he holds this for a solid few minutes. The crowd HOWLS to rally Nord, and it works, as he fires off elbows and rights. Whip to the ropes, Nord ducks a clothesline but runs into a Super-Kick. Kokina with a running clothesline, sending Nord over the top rope. Nord wanders aimlessly because he's probably drunk. It's the only explanation for taking AWA bookings in 1990. Back inside, back to the nerve hold. I know they need to pad the run time of the show, but Jesus. Nord avoids the corner avalanche and lays the big man out with a running boot. Al-Kaissie trips Nord, so the good guys toss HIM in the ring for Nord to abuse. Of course, Kokina is out of position, so they wait forever to do the spot. Nord with the mysterious briefcase, smashing it on Kokina and covering for three at 12:07. Is that money in the briefcase, or the pile of I.O.U's from Vern Gagne's dresser? Post-match, Kokina lays out Al-Kaissie and splashes him. SUPERCLASH MOMENT™! This had moments of being fine, but damn there was tons of resting. *1/2
AWA World Championship Match:
Masa Saito (c) vs. Larry Zbyszko:
AWA Legend and former World Champion, Nick Bockwinkel, is the special referee for the match. Riki Choshu is introduced to the crowd because reasons. Saito won the belt during a tour of Japan, so it's time to drop it back to Larry Legend. I have no idea who is supposed to be the babyface here. I guess it's Saito, but Americans were trained to boo foreigners. Even the referee is a classic heel! The WWF had Hogan vs. Warrior. WCW had Sting vs. Flair. AWA in 1990 had Zbyszko vs. Saito as their top match. Lockup to the corner and a semi-clean break. Saito snaps off an arm drag, surprising everyone. Zbyszko grabs a waist-lock but Saito counters with an arm-bar. Zbyszko with a fireman's carry into the arm-bar. If you took a shot after every arm-bar, you'd probably be in the ICU by now. Saito fires off a series of palm strikes and knocks Larry silly with a headbutt. He continues to work Zbyszko in the corner, drawing the ire of Bockwinkel. FIX! Whip to the ropes and Saito grabs a sleeper. Poor Zbyszko is selling it like an epic clash, but nobody cares. This is almost sad to watch. Zbyszko finally escapes and lands a spinning kick to the midsection. He scoops Saito and plants him with a slam for two. Back breaker for two. Zbyszko with a blatant choke to remind everyone that neither guy is a babyface, making it one hell of a confusing booking decision. Whip and Zbyszko with the abdominal stretch. Saito counters, still nobody cares. Seriously, that guy is STILL resting his head on his hand. IS HE DEAD?! Zbyszko rallies, ramming Saito repeatedly into the turnbuckle. My browser signed me out at this point, it couldn't take any more. Saito with chops and now it's Larry's turn to taste the turnbuckle. Zbyszko with a sunset flip for only a one-count. Saito with a suplex, but he misses a clothesline, landing awkwardly in the ropes. AWFUL swinging neck breaker from Zbyszko for two. Saito lays out Zbyszko with a running avalanche and turns him over with the Scorpion Death Lock (Choshu's submission move of choice). Saito with a whip and clothesline for two. Small package for two. Angled back suplex for two. Whip and a collision knocks both men silly. Saito with a back suplex and bridge, but he has his shoulders down, Zbyszko gets the shoulder up, and The Living Legend regains the belt at 16:01. What an awful AWA finish. You deserve losing all your fans with that crap. It wasn't very good, especially that finish, but at least they tried to have something resembling a World Title Match. **
Non-Title Steel Cage Match:
The Destruction Crew (c) vs. The Trooper & Paul Diamond:
THIS is closing the show of AWA's annual WrestleMania/Starrcade equivalent event. I feel even more depressed now. Crooked BABYFACE and former NFL Player Bob Lurtsema is our special referee. Vern loved his washed-up athletes as much as Vince loves his C-list celebrities. Enos and Bloom stall forever entering the cage. Trooper and Diamond help them find their courage and pound away with awkward unsynchronized spots. Enos gets to taste the unforgiving steel structure first, and I doubt he's going to blade. Diamond with a slingshot into the Cage and hey, Enos has color! I guess I was proven wrong for once. Lurtsema blatantly prevents Bloom from helping, allowing Trooper and Diamond to double-team Enos. WHAT A DOUCHE. Why not quick count too, you jerk? Whip and Diamond with a double handful of hair to slam Enos face-first to the canvas. Bloom in to get pounded on, too. Bloom blocks being rammed into the cage and takes the eyes. He tries climbing out, but escape isn't part of the rules, I don't think. Trooper pulls him back in and for a moment, I thought we were getting a stupid Tower of Doom spot in 1990. Nope, instead t's uninspired brawling. Trooper misses an elbow from the top, allowing the DC to take over. Trooper tastes the steel and gets worked over to mask his blading. Bloom uses him as a battering ram, with a cornerman holding up a chair for good measure. Jesus, a chair AND the cage? No wonder Del Wilkes had substance abuse issues later in lie. I'm surprised Lurtsema is making any counts for Enos and Bloom, to be honest. Whip and a sloppy double-team body-drop. Everything looks so soft or poorly timed. Lurtsema gets tossed to a HUGE POP. The Crew nails Trooper with the Destruction Device, but Lurtsema refuses to count and sends Bloom into the cage. He drops a leg on Enos and puts Trooper on top for three at 10:02. Post-match, Lurtsema gets abused for blatantly screwing the Destruction Crew. Unfortunately, the wide shot means exposing all the empty seats in the building. Cookie cutter cage match with mostly green workers. As thrilling as that sounds. *1/2
- We conclude with 15-minutes of promos and bloopers, some featuring a young(er) Eric Bischoff. No, I'm not going to waste my time with this after sitting through that card.
Final Thoughts: A mostly boring show with a dead crowd. Maybe the acoustics were terrible (1,000-ish people in a building meant for WAY more than that might be the problem), but nothing that happened really felt big enough to justify any special reactions. As someone familiar with the AWA at this point, I knew what to expect, and still, it's depressing to see how poor of a "Super-Card" they were able to scrounge up. Not only were they lacking in star power, but the talent mostly comprised of aging wrestlers with limited mobility or a lot of green guys who were put in situations to work matches longer than they should've. Nothing stood out as worth watching for any positive reasons, and even for a bad show, it's not Heroes of Wrestling levels of awful, either. It's mostly dull, and that somehow makes it even worse. Strongest Recommendation to Avoid, unless you're an AWA death-rattle enthusiast.
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