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American Wrestling Federation: Episode #19

by Scrooge McSuck

- I've held out hope that I'd come across the rest of the 2nd season of "Warriors of Wrestling", but no luck. If it hasn't surfaced by now, I don't think it ever will, so we'll close the chapter on the AWF with the last episode available through the magic of Tube You. We'll finally figure out who the mysterious boyfriend of Angel Baby is! HURRAY?

- Taped somewhere, who cares. Mick Karch and Lord Alfred Hayes are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. Lord Alfred looks as enthusiastic to watch this show as I am. BREAKING NEWS: Tito Santana has healed sufficiently and will get in the ring to defend his Championship against Cowboy Bob Orton. Hayes says Tito is letting his monstrous ego get in the way of better judgment, and he'll get what he deserves today. Also, we'll see Konan 2000, The Texas Hangmen, the Boyfriend of Angel Baby, and the Blacktop Bully.

Konan 2000 vs. Rick Thames

Thames is introduced as one half of the Southern Posse. I incorrectly identified him as "Rick Bane" last time, so there's my one correction. Oh, my goodness, the audio sweetening is out of control, and we're 30-seconds into the show. Konan 2000 is better known (maybe) as Scott Putski, son of Polish Power. He has his hair braided, looking like a low-rent version of early 90's Davey Boy Smith. Lockup and Thames powers out of a top wrist-lock. Konan wins the wrist-lock battle and comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Lockup into the corner and Bane pounds away. Whip across the ring and he charges in with a clothesline. Konan reverses another whip, takes Thames over with a back body-drop, and turns him inside out with a clothesline. President Paul Alperstein cuts an inset promo about lifting the suspension on Bob Orton before he could serve long enough to miss one episode. Back to the action, Konan with a hip toss and dropkick. He takes Thames over with a snap mare and comes off the ropes with a leaping elbow drop for two. Back breaker for two. Konan nails Thames coming off the second rope and takes him over with a belly-to-belly suplex. Release German Suplex drops Thames on his head and that's good for three at 3:06.

- Ken Resnick is standing by with Rico Suave and the Tag Team Champions "The Family", Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and Tommy Rich. The big question is what did Rico Suave give Virgil money for when he was referee for the Tag Team Championship Match." "What's a Virgil?" is a great response. Next week, they will defend the titles against Tony Atlas and Koko B. Ware by orders of Commissioner Jim Brunzell. I didn't know until years later that Rico Suave (real name Steven Signore) ended up being a stooge to some mafia-related issues in the mid 90's and was a former convicted felon. I guess he belonged in professional wrestling more than I thought he did.

The Texas Hangmen (w/ Boogaloo Brown) vs. Steve Storm & Rick Anderson

Seriously, the audio sweetening is so bad, and the mixing of the commentary team talking over all the ring introductions, makes it almost impossible to think. I had to google the results of these shows just to figure out what the names were for the enhancement talent! I have no idea what to make of this random combination of manager and wrestlers. Probably a friend of the promoter. The only thing I can find with a "Boogaloo Brown" associated with it is the old LPWA from the late 80's. These aren't the same Hangmen we've seen in other promotions like the AWA, so who knows with the use of an unfamiliar name. Psycho and Killer attack before the bell. They dump Storm out, but Anderson shows a little fire. Whip to the ropes and Psycho lays him out with a soft clothesline. Inset promo from the wonder-team of Koko B. Ware (with Frankie) and Tony Atlas. Whip and the Hangmen with a double elbow. Killer with a slam, followed by a shoulder tackle from the second rope. Anderson rolls away from an elbow and tags in Storm. He unloads with rights but is quickly cut off with a clothesline. Psycho with a running powerslam. Combination hangman's neck breaker and flying axe-handle finishes at 2:54.

- Ken Resnick is in the ring for a special interview with Angel Baby. Her boyfriend's back in town. UGH. This is painful. The big reveal is THE HONKYTONK MAN, using his WWF entrance music. I hope someone got sued for that. Honky says this is where the big boys really play. No, like the Billionaire Ted segments say, this is where the old boys really play.

The Blacktop Bully (w/ Big Mama) vs. Chris Nelson:

Did the AWF blow their entire budget on worthless managers and valets or what? I know we've seen the Bully in action before, but wow is the AWF disregarding character trademarks from both the WWF and WCW. Big Mama has an airhorn that I'm sure won't get old within 20-seconds. Nelson is an overweight, out of shape schlub that's missing teeth. The Bully quickly takes Nelson to the canvas and pounds away. Whip to the ropes and the Bully with a clothesline. I want to shoot whoever was in charge of audio mixing. Karch calls this sadistic, I call it boring. Inset promo from Fidel Sierra (with Fantasy) targeting Slaughter and Santana. Bully keeps working Nelson over with clubbering. He hooks a modified hammer-lock, and THAT wins it at 2:28. Barry Darsow gobbled up a jobber worse than anyone on this show.

- Ken Resnick is standing by with Bob Orton and Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissey, then AWF Champion Tito Santana for their final words before the big Championship Match.

AWF Championship Match:
Tito Santana (c) vs. "Cowboy" Bob Orton (w/ Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissey):

The hottest feud going in the AWF. One of the ONLY feuds going in the AWF. I guess I should be thankful the last AWF match I recap is something meaningful and not a scrub match with guys like the Blacktop Bully or Honkytonk Man gobbling people up like they're the Road Warriors. Santana limps to the ring and immediately attacks Orton with right hands, knocking him out of the ring. Orton hops on the apron and continues to take a pounding. He sends Orton to the turnbuckle and grabs a front face-lock. Whip to the ropes and Tito with a fist to the midsection. Orton counters a back body-drop attempt, but Tito quickly regains control, straddling Orton across the top rope. Orton wants timeout, but the AWF only deals in rounds, so Santana continues to pummel him like fate pummeling America in 2020. Santana slams Orton's head into the canvas for a two-count. Inside cradle for two. Whip and Santana hooks an abdominal stretch to close out the 1st round. Score it for Santana.

Round 2 begins with Orton begging for more time, but Santana shows no mercy (I still love that game, by the way). Santana pounds away until Orton falls backwards through the ropes. He follows, slamming Orton's face into the ring apron. Back inside, Santana continues to wrench on the neck of Orton. Orton counters with an inverted atomic drop and stomps down across the midsection. Orton with a stomach buster for two. He nails Santana with another low kick and nails him with a well-placed right hand between the eyes. Now it's Orton relentlessly pounding away on his opponent. He attempts a piledriver but Santana counters. Orton rakes the eyes at the bell and gets another gratuitous rake after the bell. I guess I'd call that round for Orton.

Round 3 begins with Orton bum rushing Tito in the corner, clobbering him with elbows. Orton with a most unusual move where he slams Santana backwards across the knee. I can see where son Randy got his innovative back breaker spot from. Santana tries to fight from his knees, but Orton is in clear control, peppering Santana with left jab and a huge right hook. Orton with a snap suplex for two. He continues to go for covers but Santana bridges out. Orton pounds at the midsection as we see Mr. Fuji (in his Oddjob outfit) slowly make his way to ringside. Orton hooks a sleeper, but you can't keep Tito down. He escapes with elbows to the midsection but runs into a boot. Orton goes to the top rope and hits a Cowboy Bomb for a near-fall. Falling forearm across the forehead for another two-count. Knee to the throat for two. Orton with another cover, with his feet on the ropes, but the bell signals the end of round 3. Giving it to Orton.

Round 4 begins with little time left for TV. Orton again starts by attacking the groggy Santana and sending him into the turnbuckle. Orton tries another Bomb, but Santana brings up the knees. Santana fights from his knees with right hands and backs Orton into the corner. They trade blows, with Santana getting the better of it. Whip to the ropes and Santana with the back body-drop. He signals for the finish but Fuji hops on the apron to distract the referee while Al-Kaissey trips Santana up and Orton cradles him for three and the AWF Championship at 1:46 of Round 4! THE FIX WAS IN! Nothing spectacular, but they told a good story and worked well with the rounds, a gimmick that has handicapped some of the AWF roster across the two seasons. I'd probably rate this in the **1/2-*** neighborhood based on the story told, even if most of the action was very punchy-kicky.

Final Thoughts: Unless things sprout from obscurity, that's the end of the American Wrestling Federation. To give everyone closure, Santana would regain the belt from Orton at the same taping set, while Tommy Rich and Greg Valentine remained as the only team to hold the AWF Tag Team Championship. The AWF failed for obvious reasons, but I do give them more credit than the UWF, with several long-term feuds that ran across the two seasons taped. Sure, it wasn't stuff anyone really wanted to see, but the tapings made sense, unlike the Herb Abrams owned UWF, which was stuff taped for sake of running a show, with no thought put behind 99% of the content put on television. You can argue they lacked star power, but the true killer for me is producing too much TV like old weekend syndicated shows with tons of squash matches and only scattered matches featuring name vs. name talent. I'm guessing using that template meant more clean finishes, but that's on the booker to arrange talent willing to do business, but alas, the AWF came and went without much fanfare. Most of the enhancement talent used wouldn't register on the national radar, and most of the stars were in their twilight years. Any talent with name value that would return to the "big leagues" were usually in part-timer or non-wrestling roles. The owner/founder of the AWF, Paul Alperstein, passed away in 2014 at the age of 58 (wait… he was only 40 when he started this company?!). I don't know if the AWF tapes are in public domain or not, but the footage was used some years back for a "unauthorized" documentary on the WWE, which makes zero sense. Maybe some day we'll see the rest of the shows, but spoilers, nothing ground breaking will be discovered except for Tito regaining his gold.

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