AWA: War in the Windy City (06.89)

AWA: War in the Windy City
June 23, 1989
Chicago, IL
Odeon Pavilion

The current AWA Champs were as follows:
AWA World Champion: Larry Zbyszko (2/7/1989)
AWA World Tag Team Champions: Ken Patera & Brad Rheingans (3/25/1989)
AWA International Television Champion: Greg Gagne (12/13/1988)
AWA Women’s Champion: Wendi Richter (11/26/1988)

I can’t believe this is the first complete AWA show that I’ll review. I figured it would be a SuperClash, Super Sunday, or even WrestleRock for crying out loud. But nevertheless, this is what you’re getting.

Your hosts are Eric Bischoff and Lee Marshall (without his signature burly mustache). Shows how out of touch Verne was, Marshall is the cool kid on the block.

  • Tommy Jammer vs. Jonnie Stewart

So wait, I thought Lee Marshall was the California Kid. Now they call Tommy Jammer the same thing? Seems as though that nickname means nothing now. Jammer reminds me a little of Johnny Ace when he was merely a Dynamic Dude. Stewart is a pretty boy-type with a cheap Flair robe and looks a lot like Chris Candido. Jammer backdrops Stewart out to start. Back in, Stewart offers the handshake, but that deal goes sour for Jammer. Not so impressive looking AA spinebuster connects, but Jammer reverses a cross corner whip and Stewart heads into the corner for the Ray Stevens bump. Stewart rakes the eyes and catches Jammer with a back elbow for two. Knee lift and a slam, but Jammer avoids the knee drop. Stewart kicks Jammer in the knees anyway and barely catches him with a dropkick. Over in the corner, Stewart misses a corner charge as Jammer delivers a flying body press (from the second rope) for the 1-2-3. (3:09) This felt longer. Pretty bad, too. ¼*

Backstage with Larry Nelson, Scott FLASH Norton challenges Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Larry Zbyszko to an arm-wrestling contest. If any of them beat him, they will get $250 grand of his OWN money. Does Scott Norton at this time look like a large lady to anyone else but me? I think it’s the curly long hair. A fit-looking AWA referee takes a shot at Norton and loses instantly. Hence, the FLASH. Norton calls the loser ref more courageous than those other world champions.

  • Paul Diamond vs. Akio Sato

Just a little note. When they decided to turn Diamond face in the AWA and split him from the Diamond Exchange, Sato replaces him as Pat Tanaka’s partner in Badd Company. However in the WWF, Diamond would replace Sato as Tanaka’s partner in the Orient Express . Diamond is a ball of FIRE to start, but Sato dumps him out and smashes his head off a chair. Once Diamond makes it back on the apron, Sato makes sure to punish him with chops and blows. Back in, Sato delivers a gutbuster and a double stomp. He wants one off the top as well, but Diamond moves. Sato rakes the eyes, but Diamond backdrops a piledriver and throws Sato out. He slams Sato on the concrete and runs him into the post for a DQ. (4:37) Don’t really understand the finish, but the match itself was MUCH better. The fight continues after the bell around ringside. A chair gets involved, but Sato scurries off to the back. **

Backstage, Larry Nelson meets with Paul Diamond. He’s looking to eliminate the Diamond Exchange one by one. He’s MAD and really wants Diamond Dallas Page in the ring. Hey wait a minute, he’s not a wrestler, buddy. Yet, that is. Well, now I want to see Tanaka v. Diamond.

AWA Mat Classic with Nori Helm: NWA women’s tag champs Joyce Grable & Wendi Richter v. Judy Martin & Velvet McIntyre, Super Sunday 4/24/83. Skip ahead to Velvet getting the hot tag. Richter and Grable were the big heel team at the time. Hard to imagine anyone HATING Wendi Richter. The Double Battering Ram finisher misses before Grable and Richter are just run together. They all start splashing and nobody hits anybody. The champs now work over Velvet and give her the backdrop into a powerbomb! HOLY CRAP. That is enough as the champs retain.

Odd video of the Destruction Crew baiting Patera and Rheingans into a major beatdown injuring them both. Patera is back, but Rheingans is still sidelined with a concussion. Then in other happenings, the Destruction Crew caused Wahoo McDaniel to suffer a detached retina in his right eye by beating him with their hard hats and sending him into retirement. That’s where Scott Norton comes into the picture. He was Wahoo’s tag partner in that match.

  • The Destruction Crew vs. Ken Patera & Scott Norton

Why would any wrestler want to come out to any other band but Queen? Can you answer that? No you can’t. Somehow despite being that Johnny Valiant is barred from standing around ringside, he’s allowed to sit down and do color commentary around ringside. Patera does most of the work as you would expect. He plays face in peril and Norton gets the hot tag. He can’t pull of a backdrop, but he can deliver a clothesline and a suplex. Back to Patera, but he runs into the post. Double suplex on Patera gets two. He then reverses a corner whip and tags Norton again. He locks in the BEARHUG on Enos while Patera applies the FULL NELSON to Bloom. Oh what do you know. Johnny V walks inside the ring and jabs Patera with the handle of the sledgehammer (because that’s what you do with a sledgehammer) for the DQ. (6:05) Henails Norton too, but he NO-SELLS and cleans house on the Destruction Crew. Still one of the better matches of the night regardless of how green poor Scott Norton was. *½

After the break, Ken Patera and Scott Norton vow that there will be HELL TO PAY for the Destruction Crew.

Elsewhere, Wayne Bloom and Johnny V want the belts. One thing you can say about the AWA: they never hotshot the tag titles. Teams would have LONG reigns no matter who else got hot.

Moving on, they do an interview with Nick Bockwinkel. He discusses his career, tag team success with Ray Stevens, toughest opponents were Verne Gagne and Billy Robinson, and since his retirement has got into the securities and insurance field.

  • Mike George vs. Rockin’ Randy

Randy gets rocked by Mid-South mainstay Mike George. Canadian Backbreaker sets up the GUTWRENCH SUPLEX. That should be all, but George pulls him back up for the Lariat at 1:57.

Here we go again. Scott Norton gives the world champs a chance at an arm-wrestling match for $250 grand. The Destruction Crew try Norton on for size, but they cry about Norton breaking the rules and head out.

After some commercials, AWA world champ Larry Zbyszko announces that he is not stupid enough to face a gorilla like Scott Norton in an arm-wrestling match. If you want to impress Larry Z, Norton needs to do it in the ring and not on a table.

  • AWA Women’s Champion Wendi Richter vs. Candi Devine

The future Ivory of the WWF joins Lee Marshall for commentary here. Not that she wasn’t in the WWF, but she looks quite pleasant here for the brief shot we get. She is billed as the Ladies Sports Club champion. Richter is still living off her Cyndi Lauper success from 1984-85. Devine is kind of in the same boat, except still around for different reasons. She had her biggest moments in 1985-86 feuding with Sherri Martel. A little bit of psychology here as they work each other’s legs. Richter tries escaping a full nelson into a rollup, but Devine falls back on that. Blah blah blah. Devine misses a splash from the second rope and Richter covers her for the pin. (3:50) Unfortunately, as good as anything you see in the WWE today. ½*

In the back, Ken Patera discourages Flair, Hogan, and Larry Z from trying Scott Norton for that $250 grand. As for the Destruction Crew, he’s got a surprise in store for them and thinks that the tag team titles might get held up if Brad Rheingans can’t return. Nevertheless, some dues are going to get paid. Whatever that means.

AWA Mat Classic with Nori Helm: Bruiser Brody vs. Crusher Jerry Blackwell in St. Paul from November 1984. Brody can’t pin Blackwell with his best stuff, so he resorts to a chair. That backfires and Blackwell slams Brody. Then, Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie stops the ref, which cues Greg Gagne to make the save. Gagne gives Brody a dropkick out of the ring and then holds Adnan in place for a splash by Blackwell for some sort of three-count. If only the AWA could have counted on Bruiser Brody to stick around longer.

Another Nick Bockwinkel interview. Who carries around a roll of dimes, Larry Z? Come on. Also, there’s no real chance of him coming back to take on Zbyszko. This feels like a ‘take two’ of the first interview since there is some repeated answers.

  • AWA World Champion Larry Zbyszko vs. Greg Gagne

Crowd is all over Larry Z for this entire match, which works to his advantage of ducking out and stalling. He tries to slow the pace down with holds on the mat. At one point, Zbyszko gets stuck in the ropes and stomped on the head to spend more time jawing with the fans. Back in, Greg strings a few moves together and Zbyszko heads to the floor. Rinse, wash, repeat. Zbyszko catches Gagne with a mule kick and exposes a turnbuckle to use on Gagne’s face. That gets two. Gagne gets a few hope spots in and makes them look as weak as possible. Forget about who your dad is, how can Greg Gagne with so many years of experience by this point be THIS bad? It blows my mind. Now Gagne uses the exposed turnbuckle against Larry Z and delivers the Flying Knee Drop, but Zbyszko gets his foot on the bottom rope to save himself. He follows up with the SLEEPER as the TV time expires. (12:23) Gagne cries about the time constraints, so Larry Z slaps him and runs off. I love Larry Zbyszko, but not even he can make Greg Gagne look good. ¾*

Final Thoughts: A dark period indeed for the AWA and a really weird place for me to start recapping AWA shows. Unless you find some cheap thrill out of watching a wrestling company clinging onto its glory days with no real hope in sight, feel free to skip this show. This was more like two drunken girls slapping each other in Chicago than any kind of ‘war’ to speak of. As if you didn’t already know, thumbs down for the ‘War in the Windy City’.

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