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Super Happy Fun Time Review: AWA Super Sunday

January 30, 2007 | Posted by John Goozie
3.5
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Super Happy Fun Time Review: AWA Super Sunday  

I guess this bares a bit of explanation. I’ve decided that in my ever expanding wrestling library I should extend my scope of reviewing to anything and everything that isn’t normally covered by other writers here at 411. Furious is on a WCW rampage, Brad and Jacob have ROH masterfully covered, J.D. Dunn seems to be finding Coliseum videos by the boatload, and Puro is covered by several guys (though I doubt they’ll be reviewing any Big Japan…which I’m considering doing). So in any case, this is the start of a branching off from my usual IWA Mid South reviews, and thus will be put under a different heading: The Super Happy Fun Time Review. Why that name? Because I wanted it and it sounds like a Japanese game show.

So what do we have first? Why, here’s something new: the AWA! I got this DVD from some tape seller at local Chicago shows. It’s burned off ESPN Classic in Canada. Man, I wish ESPN Classic in the States showed this instead of bowling.

The date is April 24, 1983. Gene Okerlund provides a voiceover emphasizing the importance of this event. Apparently the demand was so large for tickets that a nearby arena was given a closed circuit broadcast of the event and THAT arena sold out as well. That’s pretty damn impressive.

#1: BRAD RHEINGANS vs. ROCKY STONE
Rheingans is an Olympian. Gene Okerlund is wearing awesome sunglasses. They shake hands which is weird since Stone is obviously the heel. Stone gets heat for going into the ropes. Bodyslam and armdrag into an armbar by Brad. Stone elbows out of it but Brad armdrags him again and goes right back to the armbar. Brad lifts Stone up from the mat by his arm and slams him down. I like. He does it again. Brad cranks at the armbar from several angles. Stone finally gets out of it. Brad goes to vertical leapfrog Stone but Stone elbows him in the gut in midair. Interesting move. Stone isn’t selling the arm much which annoys me considering he was in an armbar for about 3 minutes. A few nearfalls by Stone. Brad tries to recover but Stone goes to the eyes and tosses Brad onto the apron. Brad gets his head smashed to the buckle twice. Stone chokes Brad on the ropes. Crowd pops big when Brad starts his sudden comeback. Gutwrench suplex by Rheingans gets the 3 at 7:02. *3/4. I’m judging these accordingly to the time period. This is very 70s style stuff. Action was decent enough, though I would like to see Rheingans in a more technical match than this. Finish was also pretty sudden, too.

After the match, Okerlund interviews Rheingans. He also makes me believe the last match had some clipping when he refers to the match time as 9:34. Brad thanks the crowd pretty plainly.

#2: STEVE REGAL vs. BUCK ZUMHOFFE
No, sadly, this isn’t that Steve Regal. Buck Zumhoffe has a rock and roller gimmick, complete with boombox. I find this amusing because Buck looks to be in his late thirties, and this is 1983, not 1963. Zumhoffe has a Light Heavyweight Title shot next month. Buck is very over. They go to the mat for a bit. Buck avoids a monkey flip and nails Regal with a dropkick. They trade bodyslams. Regal takes control with some buckle shots. Regal grabs an armbar. Crowd begins chanting for Zumhoffe. Buck goes for a comeback but gets a knee to the gut for a cutoff. Back to the armbar. AWA: Armbar Wrestling Association. They trade punches but Buck gets knees to the gut again. Elbow smash from the 2nd rope gets 2 for Regal. JIP and we move to Buck’s comeback. Hiptoss and dropkick sends Regal out of the ring. Gene says we’re at 10 minutes so I’ll go by that time. Buck gets cut off by a knee lift. Buck comes back with a bodyslam followed by a Vader Bomb for the 3 at 8:52 shown of a 11:05 match. **. This is made watchable by Buck’s energy and Regal being a better heel than Rocky Stone. Still, this stuff hasn’t aged very well. Okerlund interviews him post match which is really bad.

#3: JERRY LAWLER vs. JOHN TOLOS
Tolos is a Canadian with the nickname of the Golden Greek. This is right after the Kaufman angle on Letterman, so Lawler is the babyface. Tolos jumps Lawler before the bell. Tolos works over the arm of Lawler, including a few stomps from the second rope. Tolos grabs an armbar. Dear lord, I hate that move now. Big punch from Lawler. Tolos tries to avoid another punch. A side headlock wears Tolos down followed by a big punch. Headlock, punch, headlock, punch. That is all Lawler ever does. Sunset flip by Lawler gets 2. Both men go down after a shoulderblock. Tolos knocks Lawler over the top rope and that’s a DQ at 5:15. Well it should be but once Lawler gets back in the ring the ref continues the match with a 2 count on Lawler. Yeah, I don’t know why either. Flurry of punches from Lawler. Fist drop on Tolos. Lawler posts himself. None of this flows by the way. Tolos misses a flying knee drop. Piledriver and it’s over at 7:56. ¼*. I’m not a Lawler fan of this Tolos guy looks like my great uncle in tights. The DQ thing was just stupid. Moving on.

#4: AWA LADIES TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Joyce Grable and Wendi Richter © vs. Judy Martin and Velvet McIntyre
McIntyre and Richter start. Grable and Ritcher are the heels here it seems. Richter throws Velvet out of the ring a few times before McIntyre moves out of the way and Richter tumbles to the floor. Grable tagged in. Guess what McIntyre grabs as a submission? Just guess. Martin in and she grabs the same damn submission. Martin ducks Grable’s offense and hits a punch. Richter back in. More arm wringing. This isn’t very enthralling stuff. The heels seem more over as babyfaces. Martin back in with a big clothesline on Richter for 2. Martin gets hung in the tree of woe and double teamed. Heel team work as the ref continually gets distracted. Martin gets the tag from McIntyre. Dropkick and a flying headscissors from the red-haired Irish girl. Grable tries to intervene but gets whipped into her partner. This stuff is not pretty. Pair of 2 counts on the heels. Martin misses a splash. Then Grable misses a splash. Then McIntyre misses one. Richter misses one. Crowd kind of pops for the nice comedy. Grable hits McIntyre from the apron. Canadian backbreaker applied by Richter. See, there’s a nice move. Double team backbreaker followed by a double team POWER BOMB by the heels. Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. That gets 3 at 14:08. I guess we weren’t getting anywhere. *1/4. A hot last minute or so. Otherwise it was quite sloppy and not very good. I’m beginning to wonder why AWA had the reputation for technical wrestling when there was nothing technical about any of this. The heels cut a terrible promo afterwards.

#5: WAHOO McDANIEL vs. EDDIE BOULDER
Anyone else think Wahoo looks like a Native American Dusty Rhodes? Or is it just the man cans? Boulder on the other hand is pretty ripped. Wahoo catches Boulder with a chop. Wahoo reverses a test of strength into a hammerlock then into a wristlock. He works over the arm. Hey, some psychology. Boulder looks pretty good. Jumping leg drop gets 2 for Boulder. Lawler on commentary discussing his win. Wahoo gets flipped in the buckle. Wahoo fires back with a suplex for 2. Wahoo with very boring offense. Hey, what’s this? A fast forward button? Excellent. A tomahawk chop and an elbow drop get the win for Wahoo at 7:04. DUD. Boulder at least had a good look. Wahoo was out of shape and boring. This show isn’t shaping up to be much.

#6: JESSE VENTURA, KEN PATERA, and BLACKJACK LANZA w/ Bobby Heenan vs. RICK MARTEL, JIM BRUNZELL, and GREG GAGNE
Heenan gets a “Weasel” chant. Gagne and Brunzell are the AWA Tag Champions. Martel and Patera start off. Armdrag into that damn armbar again by Martel. Brunzell in and he works the arm, too. Atomic drop by Brunzell gets 2. Ventura in and he gets his arm wrung. Tag to Gagne who leaps off onto the arm. That looked good. An arm move gets 2 for Gagne. Ventura carries Gagne over to the heel corner and Gagne gets worked over. Lanza in now and he beats on him. Martel in to a big pop and he dropkicks Lanza. He works over Lanza for a minute then Brunzell comes in. Crowd gets on Heenan’s case. Big slam by Patera on Brunzell then Ventura gets in. Bearhug by Jesse. Gagne in and he fights off all the heels until his partners enter and they do the same. Flurry of dropkicks by Gagne then he grabs the sleeper on Patera. Ventura back in to get him off. Heels team up on Gagne. Atomic drop gets 2 on Gagne. Gagne tries to get over to his corner but gets cut off. He fights out of a bearhug by Patera into a near fall. Gagne gets free, HOT TAG to Martel. He drives Lanza into the buckle. Martel misses a dropkick and now he’s in peril. Elbow from Patera gets 2. Suplex by Patera gets 2. Ventura blocks Martel from making a tag. He gets the tag to Brunzell. Figure four by Brunzell on Lanza and everyone comes in. Brunzell nails Heenan on the apron. Patera comes in. I like how the ref made him get back on the apron to make the tag. Nice touch. Brunzell goes for a Indian deathlock but Patera hits him with something and gets a 3 count at 17:09. Or does he? Yes, he did though there is some confusion. Brunzell is selling the brass knuckle shot. Faces go nuts and knock the heels out of the ring but they’ve already lost. ***. Good match that crowd went nuts over. It was very formula style but lots of effort involved from everyone. Slow motion replay shows Heenan handing Patera the knuckles during a wild brawl. Smart stuff to take advantage of the chaos to cheat.

#7: AWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Nick Bockwinkle © w/Bobby Heenan vs. Hulk Hogan
Lots of heat for Bockwinkle. Crowd goes absolutely BONKERS for Hogan and his “Eye of the Tiger” entrance. Seriously, the entire crowd is on their feet here. He tries to go after the champ right away but refs hold him back. He’s wearing a shirt that says “we want the belt”. Well apparently Mr. Verne Gagne doesn’t share your sentiment, Terry. Bockwinkel takes a powder at the bell. Dear lord Hogan is over. Lots of stallling before Hogan knocks Bockwinkle down with a shoulderblock. Finally, Bockwinkle grabs a headlock but gets knocked down again. Another powder by Bockwinkle. Big kick by Hogan. 10 knee strikes send Bockwinkle down. Crappy backbreaker gets 2 for Hogan. Bockwinkle takes control with some knees to the ribs and a front facelock. The ref tells Nick to break the hold because he’s choking Hogan with his far hand. Good heelishness. Hogan backdrops Bockwinkle. Headbutt to the ribs on Hogan. What is that? Working a body part? That’s not an arm? EUREKA! Big boot in the corner by Hogan. A series of punches gets 2 for Hogan. Clothesline and an elbow drop gets 2. Shoulderbreaker gets another 2. Running bodyslam gets ANOTHER 2 count. Crowd makes noise every time Hogan motions to them. And I mean a lot of it. Leg drop…..misses. Bockwinkle takes control after that with punches. The champ tries to slam Hogan but Hogan lands on him for a 2 count. Hogan kicks him in the gut. Elbow drop gets a weird looking 2 count. Crowd gets on the ref’s case. Sleeper by Bockwinkle. Hogan flips him over but right onto the ref. Bockwinkle goes back to the sleeper and Hogan accidentally smashes the ref in the corner. Back to the sleeper and Hogan flips Bockwinkle out of the ring over the top rope. Remember that one. Suplex by Hogan followed by the leg drop for 3 at 18:32. Place goes WILD for the win. Then comes a reverse decision for Hogan flipping Bockwinkle over the top rope. Then comes a ton of crap into the ring. Hulk attacks Heenan and Bockwinkle afterwards. **. Lots of stalling but it’s worth a look.

#8: VERNE GAGNE and MAD DOG VACHON vs. JERRY BLACKWELL and SHEIK ADNAN AL-KASSIE
Verne is coming out of retirement to help his longtime partner Vachon. Clips are shown of things leading up to the match. The announcement of Verne being Mad Dog’s partner makes the crowd go nuts. He had been out of the ring since 1981 so this was a pretty big deal. Vachon and Gagne chase off the heels before the match. Vachon works over Sheik to start. Sheik has an illegal cast gimmick at this time. Because we all know the WWF was the first to use that. Action spills outside and Vachon gets hit with the ring bell. Vachon begins throwing weapons into the ring, all of which get used on him and he’s busted open. Gagne hits the heels with a chair. Weakly by today’s standards. Ref tries to keep order. Bodyslam by the fat as hell Blackwell. Ab stretch by Adnan on Vachon. Gagne comes in to break it up. Gagne gets tagged in and crowd pops big. Dropkicks for the heels. Bodyslam by Blackwell again. Gagne moves out of the way of a splash. Sleeper by Gagne. Mad Dog makes Sheik use the loaded cast on Blackwell. Gagne rips the cast off and nails Kassie. Vachon and Blackwell brawl outside and Vachon uses a chair. Gagne stomps the injured arm on Kassie from the second rope and that’s it at 12:12. *. Well that wasn’t much of anything. I have to say though, for being 57 years old Gagne was in great shape. Still, too much plodding brawling that wasn’t as over as other things on this card.

The 411: My first AWA experience. Can't say I was impressed much. After hearing it was the technical territory of its time, all I see is lots of punch/kick style and really basic stuff. There's no counterholds, no working a body part, no mat wrestling, just plodding slugfests. The only submissions I saw were a figure four and an assload of armbars. The 6-man tag was good, and Hogan/Bockwinkel is worth a look, but the rest is pretty crappy. And as much as I dislike Hogan, Verne was a total idiot for not seeing his potential. Maybe I just don't understand the old school style, but I'm calling this one like I see it.
 
Final Score:  3.5   [ Bad ]  legend

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