AWA Superclash II (5.2.87) review
May 2, 1987
We’re in San Francisco, at the Cow Palace. 2,800 in attendance. Hosts are Rod Trongard and Ray Stevens. Watching AWA is a sad experience. They’ve gotten progressively worse over the past three years and are careening from one disaster to another. I have to warn you ahead of this review, gentle reader, that things are not going to improve tonight in San Francisco.
As is demonstrated by the attendance. It is not ideal to have a bunch of empty seats on the hard-cam side.
Buck Zumhofe vs. Sheik Adnan Al-Kassie
It is also not ideal to open the show with a paedophile. Please keep in mind this is 1987, after Zumhofe had already been jailed for sex crimes against a minor. I don’t get the whole ‘turning a blind eye’ thing with Zumhofe either, who is a talentless horseshit worker who looks like a badger’s arsehole. How is this cunt selling any extra tickets? Well, look at the crowd, he’s not. I’ll still watch the match, out of respect for Adnan, who passed away last month (Sept 2023) aged 84. He’s into his 40s here and clearly past his best. Buck runs through his crappy repertoire but gets caught in the corner and pinned. Awful pro-wrestling. Truly dreadful. At least the paedophile lost, I guess? If we’re looking for positives.
Super Ninja vs. DJ Peterson
This is the 80s, so ninjas are cool. Or at least cool enough for Verne Gagne. I always thought DJ Peterson had a decent look. He looks like Terry Allen, only older. His in-ring doesn’t compare. He’s rough around the edges and finds anything complicated absolutely beyond him. Sadly he passed away in a motorcycle crash in 1993 or he may have ended up working for the WWF in their period of struggles. Although I’m sure Vince would have turned him into an actual DJ. Or a painter-decorator, pizza chef, pet shop owner or some shit. That Dave Peterson, he loves painting animals on his pizzas.
The match has a dynamic where Super Ninja’s pal, Ryuma/Ninja Go, gives him an unfair advantage. Go doesn’t do very much though? As soon as I type that, he administers a judo chop. The match has odd moments of quality but it’s just too long. Super Ninja does a lot of rest holds. It’s nothing to write home about. Peterson’s selling interests me because it’s a shade unconventional. Like he actually hurts himself on a bump and then struggles to get from that short, sharp stab of pain to the actual selling. Anyway, the match is only good in bits and pieces and the rest is boring rest holds. We hit 15:00 and a time limit draw.
AWA Women’s Championship
Sherri Martel (c) vs. Madusa Micelli
This is our first look at Madusa, and she literally debuted around here. She wouldn’t get good until working in Japan. Sherri is at the end of her run as AWA women’s champion, because she’s going to jump to the WWF. However, Verne isn’t aware of this so he doesn’t take the belt off her. Won’t be the last time, Verne, don’t worry. To give you an idea of how green Madusa is; she can barely lock up. Sherri has to work hard to make anything look right. Madusa’s bumps are hit and miss. A dropkick is bumped sideways. The result is a very basic match, which coasts by on Sherri getting heat. Considering Madusa has no experience, it’s not a disaster. Madusa has it won with an airplane spin, with a brutal landing, only for Doug Somers to distract the ref and Sherri wins with a roll up and a handful of tights. Sherri would jump to the WWF the next month, so Madusa ended up as champion anyway.
AWA World Championship
Nick Bockwinkel (c) vs. Curt Hennig
Hennig came really close to the title in my 1986 MOTY; a televised 60 minute draw. Given that this is the AWA’s big show; surely now Hennig wins the belt, right?
Stanley Blackburn is at ringside. Someone screams “eat shit” at him. Yeah, fuck you old man! He’s the authority figure guy who keeps screwing over the babyfaces. Everyone hates him. They do some excellent holds and counter holds, rolling around the mat going from one thing to another. They did an outstanding job doing this last year. It was an intense tactical battle. This has a similar feel but the crowd seem less invested, which is unfortunate. Should have just switched the belt last time.
Spud-head Zbyszko is at ringside, as the #1 contender. The crowd let him have it. Again, this is a contrast to the November ESPN Hennig title shot, when all eyes were on the ring. I’ve gotten a new sense of appreciation for Bock doing this project. When things go wrong, he’s one of the best at just making it look like nothing went wrong. Bock works over Hennig’s arm and Hennig has to defensively change tack to protect it, which includes him slapping on a Figure Four, so he can just rest his arm.
They do a wicked reversal where Hennig is whipped into the corner and Bock just hurls him into that buckle. I audibly react to it! What I really appreciate about this match is how they try and maintain realism and don’t just do Wrestling Movez. Everything logically moves from one thing to the next. A mistake leads to an opening. A focus on a limb leads to an opening. The realism does result in a lack of cleanliness on some of the contacts and bumps. I like that though. If you keep it consistent, it’s ok. Hennig socks Bockwinkel in the face, after a chat with Zbyszko and a turn to the dark side, the title is won.
This is technically a heel turn, but one met with thunderous applause because the crowd are happy Hennig finally won the belt and don’t care how he did it. Verne tries hard to ruin the moment by having Stanley Blackburn jump in there and fuck it up. Ray Stevens, stooge, jumps in to point out Zbyszko gave Hennig a roll of quarters. Blackburn wants to hold the belt up. Of course he does. The most AWA of AWA things. In a rare move for sanity, Hennig was allowed to retain the title because he hid the roll of quarters perfectly. The crowd hate that they didn’t see a title change, even though they saw a title change. How do you fuck this up?
Anyway, the match was great, but Verne fucked the title change angle up. I can see why some people don’t rate it highly, but I really enjoyed the in-ring aspects. Bockwinkel vs. Hennig is always a good time at the wrestles. ****. Rumour has it that they were originally going to hold the belt up, so they could gleam another match out of it but Hennig got an offer from Vince McMahon, so Gagne just kept the belt on him so he’d stay.
Nov 15, 1986: Hour long Broadway on ESPN. ****½
Dec 25, 1986: Decent follow up with bad, AWA style, Dusty Finish. ***¼
May 2, 1987: Superclash II. The deciding final match. Curt turns to the dark side to win the belt. ****
Doug Somers, Kevin Kelly & Buddy Wolfe vs. Shawn Michaels, Marty Jannetty & Ray Stevens
Kevin Kelly is not the commentator but rather Kevin Wacholz aka Nailz. Buddy Wolfe, the Hackensack Hammer, came out of retirement for one last AWA run. He’s not been a full time wrestler since 1979. If you’ve turned up for a classic Midnight Rockers performance, then you can forget about it. Nailz is a weird one to watch with the benefit of hindsight as he looks fantastic here. A shock of blonde hair, muscles, tan. He looks like a young Steve Austin. Compare that to boiler suit Nailz and it’s like, what happened brother? It’s like he turned 30 and just exploded. Meanwhile, in the match, Jannetty eats heat for the entire thing. Shawn is involved occasionally, without tagging in, and he won’t sell anything. He is bizarre to watch. They eventually, and I mean “eventually”…it takes ages, hot tag to Shawn. He hits a few punches and Stevens wins with an inside cradle. This was horrendously boring. Possibly the worst match Shawn has ever been in.
Boris Zhukov vs. Jerry Blackwell
Oh, fuck me, what did I do to deserve this Verne? This is the semi-main event.
Jerry gives me even bigger “this guy is just a fan pretending to be a wrestler” vibes than most CZW talent. That said, he’s still a better worker than Zhukov. As a barrel on legs, Jerry is able to make various splashes and stuff look effective. This is the kind of match you might see in a social club, if you go to shit tier indies. Blackwell would probably be the promoter as well and Zhukov is his cousin, who he’s talking into doing this shit. Seeing Boris Zhukov wrestle makes me think that one day I too could be a professional wrestler (I’m 47 but hey). It also makes me wonder if Jerry is short for Jerrence. This is another horrendously boring match, which is why I’m all over the place. Not content with merely boring me, they do a ref bump and Adnan runs in, which means nothing as Blackwell makes his own save and beats Zhukov with a clothesline. Good lord this sucked.
Jimmy Snuka & Russ Francis vs. The Mercenary & The Terrorist
Yep, they’ve got a masked guy called “The Terrorist”. At least he isn’t called the Ultimate Solution, I guess. Russ Francis is an NFL player who wrestled quite a bit in the late 70s. When he appeared in the WrestleMania 2 NFL battle royal, I guess it got the juices going again because he’s back with the AWA. Francis is the second recently deceased person in this review as he died in a light aircraft crash earlier this month (October 1, 2023).
The Mercenary is Ron Fuller. The Terrorist is Brian Knobbs. Originally, Colonel de Beers was in this match instead of Fuller as they were originally pushing the whole racist button on top of the patriotism button. Francis is 6’6”, 240lbs so they needed a big dude like Fuller to offset that. Fuller is actually a decent worker, out here to take bumps for Snuka’s trademark spots. I’m shocked he never got into WWF (besides a few matches in the mid 70s). The simple fact of the matter is that Verne has booked a main event that’s an old Snuka and a football player versus two masked nobodies. The most interesting aspect of the match is Russ Francis teasing that he’s going to wallop referee Scott LeDoux. Let’s hope they have a boxing match! Francis pins Knobbs after a splash off the top. This was awful.
Obviously, there’s only one good match on this show; Hennig vs Bockwinkel. Everything else is dogshit. It’s an awful show from an awful promotion. I will leave you with this shot of Jimmy Snuka, looking stoned out of his gourd, during the post-show promo because that’s how I looked watching this fucking show.