• 08/25/2008 (8:05:53 pm)
  • Georgiann Makropoulos


August 23rd aired a 1990 episode of Verne Gagne`s AWA All-Star Wrestling.


The show opened with AWA founder and former world champion Verne Gagne joining Lee Marshall in introducing the matches for this episode. Verne mentioned that he had just attended the Goodwill Games, and an Olympics festival in Minnesota.


Marshall asked Verne about this thought on some of AWA`s top young talent. He spoke of Tommy Jammer being popular with the female fans, The Trooper was of championship caliber, and that the Texas Hangmen were tough, but he was looking to have the bullropes they bring to the ring banned.


Verne spoke about the main event, where seven time NWA world heavyweight champion "Handsome" Harley Race is facing AWA world heavyweight champion "Living Legend" Larry Zbyszko. Verne said that Race was the only non-AWA wrestler, to answer Zbyszko`s challenge to other wrestling organizations. Marshall had mentioned that although both men have wrestled for a longtime, this was their first encounter.  


 John "Pistol" Pistulka versus Tommy Jammer


Baron Von Raschke accompanied his teammate on Baron`s Blitzers, Tommy Jammer to the ring. Pistulka pushed Jammer, as Baron slapped hands with fans at ringside. Pistulka leg swept Jammer, but Jammer ducked Pitsula`s punched and atomic dropped him.


Pistulka was smashed to the turnbuckle, whipped to the corner, but moves away from Jammer`s corner charge. Jammer hit the buckles, then Pistulka raked and clubbed him in the corner. Pistulka whipped Jammer to the opposite corner, and drove into Jammer with a cross body corner splash.


Pistulka snapmared Jammer, but took to long with an elbow drop, and only met canvas. Pistulka kneed Jammer in the corner, then whipped him to the opposite corner. Jammer stopped Pistulka`s charge with a running clothesline.


Jammer whipped Pistulka to the ropes for a gut punch, then bulldogged him near the corner. Jammer charged the ropes and leaped up fort a splash onto the downed Pistulka, and gained the 3 count victory. This match was under three minutes. Baron entered the ring to give the thumbs up and raise Jammer`s arm.  


Backstage, Eric Bischoff interviewed former NWA world champion Harley Race. Race mentioned that this was his first time meeting Larry Zbyszko in the ring, and that it could not please him more to win the AWA world title in this introduction match.


Race said that he had been champion more times, than most wrestlers have stepped into a ring. Race restated that nothing on earth would please him better than to take the coveted crown that very few have held.


Race said that he knew Zbyszko was a very capable wrestler, that he was not going to intimidate. Race said that Zbyszko had tons of wrestling knowledge, but Race displayed that he had an inch more knowledge, and that would be the determining factor in this match.


Race felt that even though Zbyszko has accomplished great feats in wrestling, that he believed even Zbyszko had self doubt as to whether he has lived up entirely to his reputation. Race said "I plan on walking out as world heavyweight champion"



 Tony Denucci & Steve Berg versus Killer & Psycho of the Texas Hangmen


The Hangmen removed their black leather studded hoods to revceal near silver masks with a red longhorn symbol on the forehead. Hangman #1 locked up with Berg, but neither man budged. Hangman clubbed Berg, but Berg scooped up Hangman for a body slam.


Hangman #2 entered and Berg introduced him to his body slam. Berg yelled out with short "whoos" while having the Hangmen in control. Hangman #1 made a false complained of mask pulling to the referee. Hangman #1 elbowed out of Berg`s hammerlock, and was body slammed again. Hangman broke from Berg`s arm wringer with an eye gouge, and when the other Hangman charged in, Berg hip tossed him.


Berg twisted Hangman#1`s arm, brought him to the mat and leg dropped the locked arm. Berg then brought Hangman to the corner, for a tagged Denucci flying club from the middle rope. Denucci then immediately tagged Berg back, holding Hangman for Berg`s flying middle rope club to the arm.


Berg elbowed Hangman`s arm, then tagged Denucci in to repeat the middle rope strike. Hangman raked Denucci`s eye and whipped him to the ropes. Hangman ducked down to back drop, but Denucci leapfrogged over him.


Denucci sprung off the ropes, ducking Hangman`s back elbow, and nailed Hangman with an off the ropes dropkick. Hangman is corner whipped, and Denucci somersaults into a hand spring elbow on the cornered Hangman.


Denucci pin cover, and received a 2 count before Hangman #2 pulled him off. Denucci whipped Hangman#1 to the ropes, but Hangman avoided the dropkick, and Denucci crashed to the mat. Hangman planted Denucci with a DDT, tagged Hangman #2, and lifted Denucci under his arm.


Hangman #2 leaped off the top ropes, driving his forearms into Denucci`s chest, as Hangman #1 drove Denucci down with a sidewalk slam. The referee signaled for the bell, and disqualified the Hangmen, closing the match in under five minutes.


The Hangmen stomped Denucci, and Berg came over and slammed the Hangmen`s heads together. Berg went to a football three point stance, and the Hangmen exited. The referee was citing the new AWA rule where a wrestler on the top rope cannot land on another wrestler prone on the mat.


A commentating Verne Gagne did not understand the ruling, because the replay showed that Denucci was held off the mat by Hangman#1, when Hangman #2 struck down. Verne`s co-broadcaster Lee Marshall thought that this match would be reviewed.



Backstage, D.J. Peterson & The Trooper gave comments. DJ said that he had a long history with the AWA world tag team champions "Mean" Mike Enos & Wayne "The Train" Bloom of the Destruction Crew. DJ said that he knew Trooper would stand behind him, then DJ commented that other wrestling leagues were looking like Walt Disney.


Trooper said that after working with several partners, that DJ gave him confidence in pushing his way to the top of the tag ranks. Trooper said that The Crew`s tactics were getting old, wearing thin, and he promised that they would be in for a bumpy ride.



 Gary Richards versus The Trooper


Trooper backed Richards to the ropes. A headlocked Richards shoved Trooper to the ropes, but Trooper charged him down. Trooper ducked Richards` clothesline and right fist, to atomic drop him. Trooper nailed Richards with a high dropkick, hooking the leg for a pin count of 2.


Trooper twisted Richards` arm, then took him to the mat with a grapevine arm roll. Trooper brought Rochards face down on the mat with a wristlock, then extended the arm out. Trooper looked to the crowd, and then landed a series of knee drops, as he held the arm in place.


Richards broke from an arm bar with an eye rake and knees to the stomach. Trooper was clubbed back to the corner, then smashed to the turnbuckle in the next corner. Trooper reversed an Irish whip, then with a back drop, held Richards to his back. Trooper then pancaked Richards to the mat. Verne said that he had never seen that move before.


Richards was then Irish whipped for a flying back elbow, then whipped for a back body drop. Trooper raised his arms, awaiting Richards to rise. Trooper jumped up and landed down on Richards with the Big Pinch to the lower part of the neck.


Referee Gary DeRousha checked Richards, and signaled for the bell for a Trooper submission victory. This match was under four minutes. Trooper sat Richards up, and slapped his back to wake him.



Eric Bischoff then aired a ringside video, introducing a new wrestler to the AWA, Larry "The Butcher" Cameron. Cameron said that he came to the AWA for one reason, and that was for the million dollar prize of the Team Challenge Series.


Cameron said that AWA world champion Larry Zbyszko brought him in, as a member of Larry`s Legends team. Cameron yelled that he was Zbyszko`s ace in the hole, who would beat his opponents from pillar to post to the pin victory. Cameron then flexes with a most muscular pose.


Eric Bischoff wondered if Cameron had more on his mind, and if his intersity would backfire on Zbszyko`s plan, making Cameron a dangerous contender for the title.



In a Team Challenge Series update, Lee Marshall mentioned that Larry Zbyszko`s Legends team were flunking in their new train of thought for motivation. Zbyszko had lost a 2 out 3 falls match to The Sniper`s teammate "Russian Nightmare" Nikita Koloff, while Legends teammates The Texas Hangman lost a 2 out of 3 falls match to the Sniper`s Tokyo Bullets.


The current standings have Baron Von Raschke`s Blitzers far ahead with 44 points. Sgt. Slaughter`s Snipers breaking ahead of the Legends with 34 point, and the Legends stuck at 31 points.



Harley Race`s backstage interviewed was replayed, then comments by AWA world champion "Living Legend" Larry Zbyszko aired. With the Larryland amusement park graphic in the background, Zbyszko told Bischoff that he would expect something more original from Race.


Zbyszko stated that Race was good, known around the world, with a reputation as big as former champions Bruno Sammartino and Nick Bockwinkel`s. Zbyszko addressed Race`s belief about Zbyszko not living up to his claims, and Zbyszko asked how dare Race bring up such a cockamamie story.


Zbyszko proclaimed that he has lived well beyond every reputation and expection, as he is the one who mangled Sammartino and crippled Bockwinkel. Zbyszko declared that Race would be the third notch on his belt. Zbyszko held back in frustration, frowned, then shouted "get ready to kiss my Zbyszko!"



 "Handsome" Harley Race versus AWA world heavyweight champion "Living Legend" Larry Zbyszko


Donna Gagne served as ring announcer, stating that this match was for one fall, with a sixty minute time limit. She announced Race as being an right time NWA world champion, when he actually reigned for seven times. Zbyszko entered the ring first, to Tina Turner`s song "Simply The Best"


Race entered the ring, wearing a purple double strapped single, with a gold crown symbol, as he was one WWE`s King. Some of the crowd had already started with the "Larry sucks!" chant. Commentator Lee Marshall had mentioned that Race had defeated greats such as Dory Funk Jr., Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, and Jack Bisco.


The match began, and Zbyszko jeadlocked Race. Zbyszko was shoved to the ropes, where he charged down Race. Zbyszko would get caught with a hip toss, then hit with Race`s knee drop to the head, before exiting.


Zbyszko slapped the ring apron in frustration, as a commentating Verne Gagne mentioned that Joe Blanchard had done a heck of job as AWA president. Zbyszko returned to get backed to the corner. Zbyszko spun and hit Race with a heel kick to the stomach, then punched Race.


Zbyszko brought Race to the mat with a front face chancery. As referee Gary DeRousha tried to check if the hold was a choke, Zbyszko would lower his shoulder to block from DeRousha`s view, and yell "no choke!"


Race escaped, and rolled up Zbyszko with an inside cradle for a pin of 2. Zbyszko re-applied the chancery, and was grinding it on. Zbyszko was backed to the corner, where he clubbed at Race. Zbyszko punched Race, who did 360 degree flip on the ropes to the floor.


Zbyszko told DeRousha that he hit Race with an open hand, then went to the floor, slamming Race`s head into the timekeeper`s table twice. Zbyszko returned to the ring and raised his arm. An upset Verne Gagne said that resorting to those tactics shows that Zbyszko does not know how to wrestle.


Race got the rng apron, and Zbyszko flipped Race into the ring. Race clenched his fists as Zbyszko applied a chinlock. Race backed Zbyszko to the ropes, headbutted him twice, then dropped Zbyszko with an uppercut.


Race planted Zbyszko into the mat with a piledrive, drove a knee to the head, and received a pin count of 2 before Zbyszko got his right foot to the rope. Zbyszko was whipped to the ropes, and wrapped up in Race`s sleeper hold.


Zbyszko waved his arms, and his leg shook as Race brought him to a seated position. Zbyszko got his right foot to the rope to break the hold. Race delivered a knee drop. Verne mentioned that Race`s technique was of slow deliberation with no wasted movement.


Race threw Zbyszko from the ring, then tried to piledrive Zbyszko on the mat-less concreet floor. Zbyszko lifted Race up and took him to the floor with a back body drop. Fans count along as referee DeRousha reached nine before both men re-entered.


Race in on the ropes, as Zbyszko nails a spinning heel kick, then clobbered Race witha right fist. Zbszyko clubbed at Race`s chest, snapmarred him, then rakes the sides of Race`s face with a double boot rake.


Zbyszko stomped the right hand of Race, applied a chinlock and yelled "shut up!" to those chanting "Larry sucks!" Zbyszko then yelled "ring it!" to referee DeRousha, as Zbyszko felt he had Race out.


Verne mentioned that AWA fans have an appreciation for true wrestlers, saying that Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior would not answer Zbyszko`s challenge. Verne said that only Race was man enough to come forth. Lee Marshall added that Harley Race would not back down anyone, not even a Mack truck.


Race Irish whipped Zbyszko for a clothesline, suplexed him and Zbyszko stopped the pin count at 2 with a foot to the rope. Zbyszko suplexed Race, but met canvas, when Race moved away from the elbow drop.


Zbyszko picked up Race for a body slam, and when he backed to the ropes, both men tumbled to the floor. Both competitors exchanged right rights on the floor, and Race slammed Zbyszko`s shoulder into the steel ring post. Referee Gary DeRousha signaled for the bell, closing the match in under twelve minutes, and it looked as if Race had been disqualified for using the post.


Back in the ring, Race punched Zbyszko. As Zbyszko went for Race`s left leg, Race headbutted referee DeRousha down, and Zbyszko landed combination shots on the stomach of a cornered Race. After being eye gouged, Zbyszko bear hugged Race.


Eight wrestlers came from the back to break up the post match battle, Race headbutted down Jamie Magnum, punched down Denucci, knocked by Berg, and headbutted down Randy Gust. Race then rammed Magnum, Denucci, Berg, Gust¢s head together, forcing all men to fall backwards. Zbyszko escaped as Race was blocked off by W.T. Jones, Tom Bennett, John Pistulka and Kent Carlson.


Race yelled "Come on!" as Zbyszko had exited the ring. Referee Gary DeRousha told the announcers that the reason the bell had rang was because both men did not return to the ring before the 10 count. This match is ruled a draw.


Harley Race told Eric Bischoff at ringside, that Larry Zbyszko was no dummy, and a hell of a good wrestler. Race said that the hunt has only just begun, and Race will be knocking on the door everyday until Race ushered in a new era. Race warned Zbyszko "you're not going to escape like you did tonight"



Catch the legends of AWA Monday to Friday at 12am est on ESPN Classic.




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