wrestling / Video Reviews

411 Video Review: AWA SuperClash (1985)

October 29, 2002 | Posted by Sydney Brown

To be honest with you, I have never been an AWA fan. I think it dates back to the early days of me getting cable in the mid-80’s and being bored out of mind always watching Larry Zybszko just stand around for five minutes and getting heat off of that. Well, that and seeing their “classic” matches, and it’d be some match featuring an 80 year-old Verne Gagne.

But due to an odd number of requests from some of you who want an AWA review, I’m taking a look at the first SuperClash from 1985. While SuperClash III became the more famous (or infamous) show, SuperClash was a very famous show in its own right. This would mark one of the very few times the AWA and NWA titles were defended on the same show. Verne was much more into cross-promotional stuff than his counterparts were, and as such you tended to see a lot more of this kinda stuff from him. Of course, the fact that Verne liked to take all the profits from these shows tended to put an end to that sort of thing.

The date is September 28, 1985. We’re in Comiskey Park in Chicago with a crowd of about 21,000 which is a great sounding crowd, but when you factor in that you’re in a giant baseball park, it doesn’t look so large. This is not only an NWA / AWA show but also features guys from World Class, Japan, and the IWA. That said……

Here we go:

Match #1

Steve Regal vs. Brad Rheingans

Right off the bat, no, this is not William Steven Regal of the WWE, but “Mr. Electricity” Steve Regal who would team with Jim Garvin to upset the Road Warriors in one of the most asinine AWA tag team title bookings ever, which is saying a LOT. Regal later had a proverbial cup of coffee in the WWF as one of those guys who only appeared on Prime Time Wrestling and would beat the jobbers (like Iron Mike Sharpe) but it would take them about five times as long to do it. Rheingans is an amateur wrestler turned pro, and he is to Bobby Heenan what Test or Marc Mero are to Mick Foley. Rheingans suffered the same WWF fate, though I later recall seeing him train Curt Hennig during Hennig’s rehab back in the day.

This match is for the light heavyweight title at the time held by Regal. A surprising handshake from both men, surprising because Regal is definitely the heel here. Rheingans is described as a “no-nonsense” wrestler which in 80’s terms = boring. Mat wrestling to start, but the crowd doesn’t seem too in to it, until Brad hits a monkeyflip to liven them up. Brad works on the arm, but Regal throws him off. Brad tries a dropkick, but he just misses (on accident) so Regal just stands there no-selling it. Problem is, Brad doesn’t know that, so he starts to get up, sees Regal standing there, and THEN the pain of the missed dropkick enters. Regal kicks him in the face. He sends Brad into the turnbuckle and hits an elbow between the eyes for two. Resthold leads to a “boring” chant as the fans aren’t giving these two guys a chance. Regal ignores it and the resting continues and the chants are growing louder. After about three minutes, Regal gives up and slams Brad to a good-sized pop. Elbowdrop gets two. Another slam, but he misses the second elbow and Brad comes to life, chopping away. Backdrop gets two. Huge atomic drop leads to a pin but Jimmy Garvin distracts the referee. Brad takes a swipe at Garvin, giving Regal a chance to roll him up and grab the tights for the three. Pretty boring match, especially considering half the match was a headlock. *1/2.

Match #2

Sherri Martel vs. Candi Devine

Sherri looks nervous as hell in her promo. Before the match can start though, Rheingans chases Regal and slams him near the bullpen to a huge pop. Sherri throws a fit because the ref wants to check for objects and she doesn’t want him touching her. Sherri’s in Iron Mike Sharpe mode here, screaming at everything. Sherri gets an armbar which Candi turns into a hammerlock, but Sherri makes the ropes. So Sherri hits her in the gut. Sherri takes control, ultimately tossing Candi to the floor. Sherri gets too excited though and doesn’t see Candi sneak in, and she dropkicks Sherri to the floor who sells it beautifully. Sherri tries to avoid a countout by getting in and getting back out of the ring, so Candi slingshots her into the ring, and then catapults her to the other side of the ring. Candi locks on a Boston crab which Sherri reverses into a pinning combination, but Candi reverses THAT for a two count. Sherri clocks Candi in the jaw and drops a leg. Sherri dumps Candi again. Candi tries to get back in, so Sherri knees her in the face a couple times. Candi catches the knee the third time and rams her leg into the post, followed by a slam on the pitcher’s mound.

Back in and Candi goes back to the arm. Sherri regains control with kicks to the head. Sherri hits a backdrop which Candi is supposed to turn into a sunset flip but she loses her balance. So the spot gets to be REPEATED and this time Candi gets it and gets two out of it. If it doesn’t end the match, why redo it? Sherri gets a flying clothesline and a suplex before going to the top rope and hitting a GOD AWFUL splash (damn near Tough Enough -worthy) for the three count and the title. Sherri dances around with the women’s belt, one of the worst looking titles I’ve ever seen. Hysterical cut to a crowd of three middle-aged women, one of whom flips the bird as soon as she sees the camera. Okay match, but the botched moves at the end hurt it.

Match #3

Little Tokyo vs. Little Mr. T

Little Tokyo comes out to “Let’s Hear it for the Boy.” Seriously. Little Mr. T is NOT the Haiti Kid, who wouldn’t get his head shaved like that until 1986 in one of the few Piper’s Pit angles I thought was a bit rough. Speaking of rough, Little Mr. T looks like he’s seen the crueler side of life, his face rather ragged. Midget matches are usually played for laughs, so it’s odd to see this match taken seriously. Rather than go blow-by-blow, let me just mention the things I noticed as this match progressed:

-The “minorities have hard heads” rule is in effect, with Mr. T having the harder cranium.

-There’s an accidental crowd shot showing a large group of people headed to the concession stand.

-Midgets doing restholds are twice as boring, because I expect SOMETHING. Remember, back in the day, midgets were the cruiserweights.

-Larry Nelson says “Anything can happen” with the frequency of Bill Walton screaming “Throw it down, BIG MAN!”

-In scanning the card, Little Tokyo is one of three people on this show who would ultimately appear at WrestleMania III.

-The match becomes so boring, the camera actually pans away to the match to show a full moon.

Anyways, the match gets 10 minutes for some reason, and Tokyo wins with a double chop to the throat. Slightly better than the opener. Emphasis on slightly.

Match #4

Sgt. Slaughter vs. Boris Zuchov

The AWA getting Slaughter in 1985 was a major coup as he was really one of the few WWF guys whose loss meant something financially. Zuchov was one of the C-team Russians in the style of Vladmir Petrov. He was big and bald, but I don’t recall him winning a whole lot. Slaughter naturally is the Americas champion, a title that seemed to go away when Slaughter did.

Zuchov attacks but Slaughter rakes the eyes to stop. And the weird camera work continues as during the match, a fight breaks out in the crowd, so the camera PANS OVER TO IT. Wow. Sad to say, the fight seems more interesting than watching Zuchov and Slaughter trade punches. Zuchov beats Slaughter to the punch and rams his own shoulder into the post, though does it with much less grandeur than the Sarge. Zuchov gets beat up outside the ring, and Sarge pauses to hold up an American flag. He punches Boris then Irish whips him, but Boris reverses and the Sarge hits the post as only he can, and lands outside about ten feet away. Boris slams Sarge on the grass which appears to be the move of choice tonight. Back in Boris dominates, hitting a swinging neckbreaker (or backbreaker as Nelson sees it) for two. Action spills to the floor where Slaughter gets his head smashed into the announcer table. Nelson points out where he is on the screen. “Look, that’s me.” Boris tries to piledrive Slaughter on the grass, but Slaughter backdrops him. Back in, Slaughter slams Zuchov off the top rope. Slaughter goes for the cannon, but Boris pulls the ref in the way. Boris loads up his elbowpad with something, lightly taps the Sarge and Sarge blades like a bastard for it. Zuchov posts the Sarge, and the ref calls for the bell. Sarge hulks up and Boris runs. Sarge gets posted and that’s a DQ? Oh well, at least Sarge bladed, that’s worth something.

Match #5

Mil Mascaras vs. Buddy Roberts

This is our first non-AWA match, featuring the IWA. Naturally, after the Foley book I have a whole new perspective of Mascaras. There was a Mil match on ESPN Classic Wrestling about a month or so ago and all he did was spinning legscissors, just the same move over and over, and the crowd loved it. I say this, because ten seconds into this match, he busts out a spinning legscissors. Buddy puts on a full nelson which Mil just casually escapes, making Buddy look like an idiot. Mil puts on his own, and Buddy’s cool enough to sell. Lots of surfboards from Mil. Buddy finally gets control with a choke and a stomp obviously to the groin for two. Spinning neckbreaker (which Nelson gets right this time) for two. Mil hulks up and Buddy gets his leg caught in the top turnbuckle. Mil blows a suplex, hits a backdrop, and puts him away with a bodypress. Semi-squash.

Match #6

The Long Riders & Harley Race vs. Giant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta, and Genichiro Tenyru

This is for the non-existant All-Asian Six Man Tag. I guess the rule for this show was that every match had to be for a belt. Really weird group of people, you’ve got two former NWA World champions, a former AWA World champ, and the Goon. Scott Irwin and Tenyru start. Apparently, nobody knows how to pronounce “Genichiro” because he’s just called “The Great” Tenyru. Tenyru dominates, so Race tags in. Tsuruta comes in, and Nelson so busy babbling, it takes him a minute to realize it: “Tsuruta’s in, where did he come from?” Bill Irwin tags in, and hits Tsuruta with a clothesline to a huge pop. Irwin starts beating away, and the fans are loving it. Mostly I think, because everybody else had been moving at half speed, and Bill starts bouncing around like he’s ON speed. Irwin ruins it by going to a headlock. Race tags in to a groan, and here comes Baba. Baba hits a God-awful Russian legsweep. Race decides not to sell it much, and Baba gets trapped in the heel corner. Irwin tags in, and he gets pummeled by a resurging Baba. Tenyru tags back in, and that gives Bill a chance to hit a NASTY boot to the throat, that gets the LARGEST pop of the night by far. Scott tags in and gets a high knee and a kneedrop at one. Race tags in but Tenyru busts out an enziguiri for two. Race comes back with a powerslam for two. Race hits a stalling piledriver for two. And the fans are solidly behind the heels. Double elbow from the Irwins gets two. Bill Irwin hits a huge kneedrop for two. Tenyru gets a kick and makes the hot tag to Tsuruta to ZERO reaction. Tsuruta cleans house, and Baba comes in launching Bill Irwin over the top to the floor. Irwin gets tossed back in, and Tenyru tags in. He gets clotheslined, and he tags Baba. Baba hits Irwin with a boot to the face for the three. The crowd gives a mixed reaction. I need to take back my comment earlier, because Bill Irwin made this match worth something. Before he tagged in, it was a very dull, slow match. After Irwin came in, everybody took it up a notch. Even post match, Irwin makes the most of it, screaming some indecipherable stuff to Larry Nelson. Good little match.

Something I’ve noticed in reviewing this show, and I feel like a dork bringing this up, but I’ve noticed the referees for this show are the exact same old bald refs who did The Wrestling Classic PPV a few months later, also in Chicago. Did Chicago just have their own referees or something?

Match #7

Kamala vs. Jerry Blackwell

Naturally, as soon as I say that every match is a title match, the next match isn’t one. This is a bodyslam match with the winner getting $10,000. Sheik Adnan Al-Kassie is Kamala’s manager of the month. Kassie requests to sing the Arabian national anthem which sounds an awful lot like the Russian national anthem. Sheik says he has a big surprise for everybody and it is Kamala! Gee, I think we knew the surprise before you did Sheik, if that’s the case. Kamala dominates with chops, and shows his brilliance by trying to pin Blackwell. Blackwell gets killed for about five minutes, then he Hulks up in a way so blatant he should have been sued. Blackwell punches away, gives Kamala an avalanche, then slams him. Sheik attacks with his sword, using of course the wrong end. (That’s why a sword never works in wrestling. A sword has a SHARP edge. Why would you bash someone with the handle of it?) Blackwell gets decimated and some jobbers come out to help but they get killed too. Finally Baron Von Raschke makes the save with a baseball bat. Oh, and the Sheik eats the check too. *, as if you couldn’t tell.

Okay, let me praise the virtues of wrestletapes.net right quick, because when this tape was released, the NWA matches were all removed because of copyright issues. Well, the folks at wrestletapes.net actually went and dug up the missing NWA matches and put them on here which I thought was rather noble of them. So therefore:

Match #8

The Koloffs / Kruschev vs. Bruiser, Crusher, and Von Raschke

And this is the interpromotional match of the show with the NWA Russians vs. the AWA Fossils. Seriously, the combined ages of the AWA team would have to be approaching 150 if not more so. This is JIP as there’s a pier six all over the ring. Dick the Bruiser is beating on a bloodied Ivan Koloff. Ivan fights back but Bruiser no-sells everything. Baron tags in and gives the sign for the claw. He locks it on Ivan and the other AWA guys attack the Russians to avoid interference. Ivan submits but the ref is busy with the other wrestlers. Nikita hits the Baron with something, I can’t tell because the camera is elsewhere but Ivan pins the Baron. Man, if I was Crockett, I wouldn’t want this match on tape either. The AWA guys just freakin’ SLAUGHTERED the Russians to the point that it would have been hard to take them seriously afterwards. Match clipped too much for me to really rate it.

Match #9

Kerry Von Erich vs. “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin

This is our second interpromotional match as Garvin was in the AWA at the time. Kerry dedicates his match to Mike Von Erich who was suffering from toxic shock syndrome at the time. Garvin gives an appropriate response, saying that he was hoping for Mike’s recovery too, but that he’s gonna whip Kerry anyway. I mentioned in my last column how huge the Von Erichs were. We’re in Chicago, a city that’d never hosted a World Class show, and the fans are RABID for Kerry. Shows you how big syndication was. Kerry wins several lock-ups, then mocks Jimmy’s strut. Two dropkicks later and Garvin bails. Garvin sneaks in but Kerry’s ready with a discus punch that gets two. The two trade punches and Kerry gets an abdominal stretch. Garvin gets out, gains control, and tosses Kerry. Precious taunts Kerry who brushes it off but that lets Jimmy attack. Jimmy tosses Kerry and Larry Nelson throws a hissy because it should be an automatic DQ. Kerry fights back with two discus punches. Kerry tries to put on the claw, but Garvin fights it. Kerry blows a blind charge, and Garvin goes to the top rope. Kerry crotches him, Garvin falls off, and Kerry pins him. Precious berates Kerry which lets Jimmy attack, but Kerry locks the claw on, and Garvin bails. Decent enough.

Match #10

Greg Gagne, Curt Hennig, and Scott Hall vs. Nick Bockwinkel, Ray Stevens, and Larry Zybszko

Oh Dear God. AWA’s in gimmick mode as Greg Gagne’s in Rambo mode here, him being the man LEAST likely to be mistaken for Stallone, and Hall’s in his Magnum P.I. / porn star mode as well. Meanwhile, Hennig’s in “golly gee” face mode, a look and act that NEVER suited him well. This is definitely old school vs. the new breed (at least, the new breed plus Greg Gagne). The ring announcer seems to have a story for each wrestler and even the referee so the intros take about ten minutes, killing what little heat there is. Hennig starts with Bockwinkel, interestingly. Meanwhile, another fight breaks out in the stands, and even the wrestlers stop to watch. Not a great sign. Hennig dominates so Zybszko comes in. He gets shoved out of the ring and Hennig continues the offense. Hall comes in and works on the arm. Bockwinkel reaches for a tag but loses his footing and falls into the ring. Gagne tags in and works on the arm. Bockwinkel tries to attack but the faces stop it. Gagne gets a headscissors, a nice one at that, and decides not to risk it, and tags Hennig in. Bockwinkel tags in too, and he punks out Hennig. Stevens tags in and he tosses Curt. Hennig gets pummeled for about five minutes, but reverses a Zybszko abdominal stretch, but Bockwinkel breaks it up. Hennig gets a bodypress and tags Greg. Suddenly it’s a pier six, ending with Hall powerslamming Stevens for the pin, despite the fact that neither man is legal. Oh well, Stevens was at the end of his days (even for the AWA), so it seemed natural he’d do the job. It had the right ending, which I’ll give it a little credit for. About as thrilling as your typical WWF Superstars main event. Check out how dopey Scott Hall sounds when he talks normally. Makes you realize how much better the fake Latino accent was.

Match #11

The Road Warriors vs. The Freebirds

Easily the biggest pop of the night for the Chicago natives, who blow past Larry Nelson for an interview and destroy Hayes and Gordy. The ‘Birds, with Confederate face paint, leave the entire park, eventually make their way back. Gordy starts, and Hayes ditches him, running around the park. Hawk destroys Gordy, so Hayes gets tagged in, and he wants no part of it. Hawk beats him, and Animal tags in. Animal crushes Gordy. Just read the last two lines again, because that’s what happens. Hawk finally screws up and blind charges his shoulder into the post. But even that, he won’t sell more than thirty seconds. A double elbow sends Hawk down. Gordy piledrives Hawk, Nelson screams about how brutal a move is, and Hawk just gets up. Hawk takes a few more shots, then tags in Animal. Animal kills both men, and all four men get into it. Paul Ellering attacks Buddy Roberts, so Roberts bashes Ellering in the head with a chair. Hawk destroys Roberts, while Animal hits a shouldertackle on Gordy. Animal goes for the pin, but Hayes drops an elbow off the second rope, in FULL VIEW OF THE REFEREE. The ref remembers to turn his head and act like he didn’t see it, then counts the pin on the Freebirds. We move on to the next match, but the situation was later reversed. Sadly, when the infinitely inferior team of Jimmy Garvin & Steve Regal would pull the same trick a month later, it DID stand. Typical Roadies match. I’m using the word “typical” a lot I know, but this IS the AWA we’re talking about here.

Match #12

Ric Flair vs. Magnum T.A.

This is the other NWA match and we’re JIP again. To say Magnum T.A. would have been THE man to lead the NWA into the 90’s would be an understatement. Magnum T.A. had it all, and was well on his way to being the man to beat Flair in 1986, before his Porsche met a telephone pole a year after this match. I STILL remember being in shock listening to Schiavonne announce T.A.’s car wreck on World Championship Wrestling, thinking it had something to do with the Horsemen, not realizing the severity of it.

JIP as Flair applies the figure-four, but T.A. turns it into a small package for two. Slugfest is won by T.A. Flair gets whipped upside down into the turnbuckle to the floor. T.A. rams Flair’s head into the post, and tosses him back in. Flair blades, and Magnum goes to work on the wound. Flair flops, and T.A. gets a two. Huge backdrop gets two. T.A. gets the belly-to-belly but Flair’s leg clips the ref. He quickly comes to, but only gets two. Flair tries a cradle, but Magnum quickly throws Flair to the corner, and he gets his own cradle, but Flair reverses THAT by grabbing some tights for the pin. This was a 25:00 match, of which the last five was shown. But that five minutes was the best part of the show so far.

Match #13

Rick Martel vs. Stan Hansen

Martel was a very odd choice for AWA champion. He was really the first “young” champion, a departure from the old stodgy veteran, and more towards the younger star. And while Martel was a good wrestler, he wasn’t exactly Mr. Charisma, and the Martel days of the AWA were slowly coming to an end at this point. The man to do it would be Stan Hansen, though Hansen’s reign wouldn’t begin for another three months.

Hansen throws a chair in, and attacks Martel before the bell. Hansen tosses Martel, and he won’t let up, bashing Martel in the face with another chair. That lights Rick’s fire who posts Hansen, and the ref calls for the bell. The fans start getting pissed, thinking the match was over, but actually it was him calling for the match to start. Hansen regains control with an elbow to the jaw. Martel recovers with a sunset flip for two. Martel gets a slam but Hansen starts choking away. Hansen tosses Martel again, and hits him with a THIRD chair. He uses a FOURTH chair to the head. Martel responds with a chairshot of his own, and the ref calls for the bell. Hansen grabs his lariat and starts dragging Rick around the ballpark. Martel regains himself and they brawl all over the park. They end up in the dugout and head to the locker room, doing their best Fox and Christie impression. Double DQ which was too bad because it had the makings of an excellent brawl at the beginning. So of course the match ends in about four minutes. Even more sad, the midgets got over twice as much time as the freakin’ main event did.

End of tape.

Well, what can I say? The best match on the show wasn’t technically even supposed to be on the tape. The last five of the Flair/Magnum match was better than anything else on this show. The Hansen brawl gave me hope, only to be let down by a ridiculous DQ finish. Actually, the best match on the show (AWA-wise) was probably the match I expected the least from, the Japan six-man which was completely saved by Bill Irwin. And I think that says a lot when the MVP of a “supercard” is Bill Irwin.

AWA was a bland promotion in 1985, and this show does little to prove otherwise. Nothing harmful or insulting (aside from the Roadies jobbing in their home town), just nothing totally memorable either.

This tape can be purchased at wrestletapes.net, good people who have done me right.

Thumb in the middle with the tiniest of tweaks up, sorta barely recommended, C+

-Sydney Brown

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