Wednesday, December 12, 2018

AWA Super Sunday (April 1983)

Time for something a little bit different.

Originally airing on April 23, 1983, it's the American Wrestling Association's Super Sunday extravaganza. I'm watching this on the WWE Network and while an old AWA stadium event wouldn't be enticing to me normally, this show does contain a rather famous match that has tide shifting potential.

Brad Rheingans defeated Rocky Stone. My lack of familiarity with both guys might have something to do with, but this wasn't a particularly great opener. It wasn't offensive nor was it overly terrible; it was just there and didn't exactly get me excited for the rest of the show, which is the whole point of an opening contest to a wrestling supercard.

Buck Zumhofe defeated Steve Regal. Confusion Defusion Alert: This is not the Lord Steven William Regal of WCW/WWE/NXT fame; this is another Steve Regal who was a regular fixture in 1980s AWA. Again, nothing really special; this was just a thing that happened. I'm sure back in 1983, this would've been a fine little match, but sadly... I couldn't get into it.

Jerry Lawler defeated John Tolos. This was a thing that happened and not much I can say about it. It was alright, I guess.

AWA Women's Tag-Team Champions Wendi Richter and Joyce Grable defeated Judy Martin and Velvet McIntyre to retain the title. This would've been your typical women's wrestling match of the 80s; lots of hair dragging, lots of basic moves, nothing stands out. A far cry from the more athletic endeavors of today's women's wrestling.

Wahoo McDaniel defeated Ed Boulder, who would go on to be Brutus Beefcake, Butcher, Zodiac Booty Man, E. Harrison Leslie, etc. This was a thing that happened and not much else to say here.

Jesse Ventura, Ken Patera and Blackjack Lanza defeated The High Flyers (Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell) and Rick Martel. Once again, this was a thing that happened and not much else I could say in this regard. It's difficult for me to comment on these matches because I'm sure back in the day, this sort of match would've been fine, but for me, it's a by-product of a past era. Maybe I'm not much of an AWA fan.

Hulk Hogan defeated Nick Bockwinkle to win the title... except not really because according to AWA commissioner Stanley Blackburn, Hogan knocked Bockwinkle over the top rope and that's grounds for a disqualification... so Bockwinkle wins via DQ and retains the title. I can remember watching this match way back when they would show some old AWA clips on the ESPN Classics Canada channel and they'd show this match. This is a pretty historic match in that it sort of revealed the mindset of the old-timer promoter in Verne Gagne, who refused to put the title on the hot new deal and stick with his trusted champion instead. There's various stories as to why the title change didn't happen, but honestly, even for a short term, Hogan as champion would've been an interesting run and I'd imagine gain a few more eyeballs on AWA.

Not a knock against Bockwinkle, who was a very well-spoken, classy gentleman who happened to be one of the great wrestlers of the time and certainly could've gone the distance a few years afterwards and did... but Hogan was the new hotness that people were into and Verne stuck to his guns rather than go with what the people wanted. And so Hogan eventually fucked off, did more shows in New Japan, came back for a brief bit, then finally went to New York where history is made... or whatever other hyperbole you prefer to insert here.

The reversal of the decision and the announcement that Hogan was disqualified, thus not winning the title also showed a different sort of crowd compared to today. It's one thing to hijack a show, play with beachballs, and come up with lewd chants; it's another to show legitimate anger by pelting the ring with garbage. I don't recall a Hulk Hogan appearance attracting as much garbage as this did until he joined the nWo in 1996. We need to bring that back because THAT sends a more powerful message than just... well.

Fortunately, we don't have a bullshit finish to end the show. Instead, in our main event that ISN'T a World title match, Verne Gagne and Mad Dog Vachon defeated Jerry Blackwell and Sheik Adnan Al-Kassie to send the crowd home happy and try to make them forget that the hottest star in the company got screwed out of a World championship because the owner didn't want to play ball or something. And so Hogan took his ball to New York, beat Iron Sheik for the WWF title and the rest is history, brutha.

AWA Super Sunday does not hold up to the test of time. I want to say that this is due to the show being an older flavor of wrestling before my time, but I do recall enjoying the Starrcade show from that same year quite a bit. The only reason to care about this show would be for the Bockwinkle/Hogan match and that's probably more out of historical curiosity than anything. It makes one wonder if Verne actually had the balls to push Hogan to the moon as champion and how things would've turned out.

But I guess it's a good thing everything went the way it did. I can't imagine Hogan lasting long in the AWA anyway.

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