Wednesday, August 8, 2018

AWA Superclash III

The American Wrestling Association was on its last legs.

Superclash III is perhaps best known for two things; for being the AWA's one and only attempt at a pay-per-view event that drew dismal numbers and also for the title unification match between AWA champion Jerry "The King" Lawler and WCCW champion Kerry Von Erich. That match has been featured on a number of DVD compilations - most notably the Spectacular Legacy of the AWA set that is worth checking out if you can find a copy - but I've never seen the full show until recently, with the show being readily available on the WWE Network.

This event was a joint venture between Verne Gagne's AWA, Jerry Jarrett's CWA based in Memphis, and the Von Erich's World Class promotion. Several years later, the CWA and WCCW would be merged into the USWA and AWA would go out of business... so, I'm guessing the show didn't turn out so well.

And if you need an even less subtle hit, this is being posted on a day where I follow an annual tradition of reviewing a bad game. Said review is coming later today for those who care.

But enough about that. Let's get on with the show!

The show opens up with an onimous voice letting us know that this show has been rated TV-MA, due to the violence, adult themes, and NUDITY featured in this program. Fuck me, the AWA had NAKED PEOPLE on their one PPV? How did this not do better in the buyrates?

Chavo Guerrero (Senior), Mondo Guerrero, and Hector Guerrero (the future Gobbledy Gooker) defeated Cactus Jack and The Rock 'n' Roll RPMs - because I guess we couldn't afford the Rock 'n Roll Express. Said RPMs are the team of Mike Davis and Tommy Lane.

Eric Embry defeated WC Light Heavyweight champion Jeff Jarrett to win the title in a little over four minutes.

What's that? Four minutes not fast enough for you. How about a 20+ second match featuring The Boogie Woogie Man, Jimmy Valiant, making quick work of that youngster Wayne Bloom. Jimmy Valiant wasn't yet wrinkly at this point, but good lord, even watching this vintage footage, I knew that the man was up there in years... man, that Verne. Sticking with the old guys rather than trying to give people a reason to care about the younger folks that might've stuck around if anyone cared... doesn't that sound familiar?

WCCW Texas Champion Iceman "King" parsons defeated Brickhouse Brown to retain the title in a short but sweet match. Brickhouse Brown is a big guy and I almost have to fight the urge to make a "Shithouse Brown" reference, if only because Scott Keith stuck it there first.

Greg Gagne defeated former NWA World Champion Ron Garvin via countout (both guys went over the top rope and Gagne was the first to make it back in the ring; no visible countout was seen, but I guess, that's the finish) to win the vacant AWA International Television championship that he had held at one point, but then lost it to Garvin in less than clean fashion before the title was held up and... Jesus Christ, who books this shit?

Also, Greg Gagne, for those who are slow-thinking, is indeed Verne's son.

Next up is the POWW Lingerie battle royal, featuring commentary from David McLane. McLane is the genius responsible for the old GLOW promotion that's the focus of a Netflix series, as well as the short-lived Women of Wrestling promotion in the late 90s as well as the POWW promotion featured here. McLane is also an irritable shit with an annoying shill voice and a puncheable face. Anyway, we have a bunch of women dressed in costumes that can be considered outlandish or cartoonish. I want to say that I'd pay more attention if they treated these women a little more seriously... but then I fast-forward to today where women wrestlers ARE treated a little more seriously and I still don't care... unless it's anything with the Japanese folks.

For those who care, the winner of the battle royal is a woman dubbed the Syrian Terrorist. Yeah, try and get THAT over today. See how far that gets ya.

Sgt. Slaughter defeated Colonel DeBeers in a Boot Camp match. A bunch of run-ins follow and I don't give a shit. Iron Sheik got his at Wrestlemania X-7 and that's what I'll stick with. Match was worthless.

WCCW Tag Team champions The Samoan Swat Team defeated Michael P.S. Hayes and Steve Cox to retain the titles.

Wahoo McDaniels defeated Manny Fernandez in an Indian Strap Match that featured both guys bleeding and the usual strap match business. This was nowhere near the level of brutality and severity of the Roddy Piper/Greg Valentine chain match from Starrcade 83; this was two old guys and one moderately-aged fellow fumbling about in a ring and I'm wondering how the AWA could ever hope to challenge the WWF or even the NWA for that matter when they were putting out all the old timers. Shit, if you want to give me an old timer match, at least stick Nick Bockwinkle in there. That man is class.

AWA World Champion Jerry Lawler defeated WCCW World Champion Kerry Von Erich via referee decision due to Kerry bleeding like a stuffed pig to unify both championships.

So a somewhat bloody affair that saw two World titles unified into one is not a bad way to end what was an otherwise...

What's that?

There's one more match?

You mean they actually found the money to pay the Rock 'n Roll Express to show up and they're throwing them out there to end the show?

Oh! Okay! Well, let's get on with it then.

Seven minutes later, the match between the Express and the team of Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden ends in a double countout... an otherwise lame finish to a somewhat less than stellar outing between four guys... and THAT's how we close out the AWA's sole PPV outing.

The buyrates and the gate was abysmal, prompting ol' Verne to pocket the profits for himself and his inner circle while stiffing the other promoters who probably still never got paid if you were to take Jerry Lawler at his word. A month later, Lawler would be stripped of the AWA title for no-showing events (likely because he never got paid and refused to show up until he got his cut) and thus this whole title unification business became entirely pointless... except in the CWA and WCCW territories, which would eventually merge (for real) into the USWA promotion that would last until mid-97, while the AWA would wither away and die by the turn of the decade.

I cannot go back and watch this show when it aired in 1988 because I do not have the ability to go back in time. I also do not have the ability to view this show with the mindset of somebody watching this show back in 1988 because I would've been seven or eight years old and at that time, pro wrestling to me was whatever Hulk Hogan was doing at the time... and I wasn't as deep into it as I would be in my older years. I can only watch this as someone watching this show some three decades later and in sitting through this entire show, I was just indifferent.

A lot of the matches were quick and over before they got started, a lot of the matches weren't very good, and for a show that is supposed to be their first real Pay-Per-View showcase, the whole thing felt like a cheap television taping rather than an elaborate event and maybe the AWA could spend a bit more on the production side, whether it'd be set-dressing, updated graphics, better quality video... whatever the case may be. Anything to make this feel like a bigger deal than it was, because as it was, it looked like something out of 1983.

One thing worth noting is that this was a cross-promotional venture; only a handful of matches would be considered purely AWA matches while there were either cross-promotional bits with other promotions or the title unification match. Okay, fine, whatever. This still was not a very good show. Nowhere near the misery of a Great American Bash 1991 or the awful yet curiously intrigue of a Heroes of Wrestling, but not something that is worth sitting through all the way through.

The only notable match on the card can be found on various DVDs (The Spectacular Legacy of the AWA DVD has it on there) and that's probably the only exposure to Superclash III that anyone needs to subject themselves to these days.

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