THE SPECIALISTS Nostalgia Review: AWA Super Sunday; Hogan vs. Bockwinkel; Gagne/Vachon vs. Blackwell/Shiek Kassie and more.
Apr 27, 2008 - 9:43:45 AM
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By: Brian Hoops, Nostalgia Specialist
This week’s look back at wrestling nostalgia takes us all the way back 25 years to the AWA promoted card “Super Sunday” 1983. The show was held on April 24, 1983 with a sold out crowd of 25,000 people crammed into the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minnesota and another 5,000 watching on closed circuit TV. The AWA was arguably the biggest and brightest U.S. wrestling promotion from 1980-1984, with a huge talent roster, an excellent training camp that produced some of the brightest stars in wrestling and a strong syndicated TV network. It is too bad that this show occurred prior to the PPV era, as this was a show that had an excellent, long-term buildup to the double main event; Nick Bockwinkel vs. Hulk Hogan for the AWA World Heavyweight title and Verne Gagne coming out of retirement to team with Mad Dog Vachon. Vachon and Gagne had been bitter enemies throughout their careers; however Vachon was coming back from injury and wanted help to gain his revenge against Jerry Blackwell and Shiek Adnan Al Kassie.
Ron Traungard was the one man announce team with Gene Okerlund handling the ring announcing and interviews.
1. Former olympic wrestler Brad Rheighans defeated journeyman Rocky Stone by pinfall in 9:34 with a belly to belly suplex. Rheighans was an excellent technician in the ring, but failed to display enough charisma to really connect with the fans. Decent match with a clean finish.
2. Buck Zum Hofe defeated Steve Regal in 11:05 after a very good match that saw each man gain several near falls. It was announced that the winner of this match would get a title shot at the AWA Junior Heavyweight Champion Mike Graham at the next card in St. Paul.
3. Jerry Lawler defeated John Tolos in 8:24. Lawler mainly wrestled in the Memphis area, but had some national recognition after his feud with Andy Kaufman. The Memphis promotion also worked with the AWA closely and Nick Bockwinkel frequently defended the AWA World Heavyweight in Memphis. Lawler worked mostly on the defensive until he hit a piledriver for the clean pinfall victory.
4. For the AWA Women’s Tag Team Championship, Joyce Grabel and Wendi Richter defeated Judy Martin and Velvet McIntyre in 15:28 when Grable pinned McIntyre. Richter used a body vice and a body slam on McIntyre to soften her up for a powerbomb and the pinfall.
5. Wahoo McDaniel pinned Ed Boulder in 9:04 after a chop and an elbow drop. Boulder would go on to wrestle in the WWF as Brutus Beefcake and was in the AWA mostly as a favor to Hulk Hogan. McDaniel was a legendary wrestler and dominated the match.
6. Jesse Ventura, Ken Patera and Blackjack Lanza; managed by Bobby Heenan defeated AWA World Tag Team Champions; Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell, and Rick Martel in 17:03. The match had great intensity and excellent crowd reactions. The Highflyers and Martel gained the upper hand until about the 10 minute mark, until Lanza, Patera and Ventura began to double and triple team Greg. Gagne finally tagged Martel who held a brief advantage. Brunzell finally got the hot tag and hooked on the figure four leglock on Lanza for a near fall. Patera got the tag and Brunzell put Patera in the figure four leglock. However, Patera pulled something from his trunks and hit Brunzell with the foreign object and covered him for the pinfall.
7. Nick Bockwinkel defeated Hulk Hogan by disqualification for the AWA World Heavyweight Title. This was one of the co-main events of the evening. Verne Gagne believed their was big money to be made in the having the face, in this case Hogan; chase the champion, Bockwinkel. Hogan had been after Bockwinkel and the belt since 1982 and Gagne wasn’t ready to give the belt to him at this point as they had booked Hogan and Bockwinkel in a series of cage matches throughout 1983. This was a very good title match as Bockwinkel was excellent at carrying opponents to strong matches and Hogan also worked very hard. Crowd was standing throughout the match with Hogan being in almost complete control of the match. In the finish of the match, Hogan pinned Bockwinkel; and was awarded the belt and announced as the new champion. However, AWA figurehead President Stanley Blackburn came to the ring moments after the match and disqualified Hogan for throwing the champion over the top rope a few minutes before the pinfall occurred. Bockwinkel retained the belt due to a disqualification.
8. Verne Gagne and Mad Dog Vachon defeated Jerry Blackwell and Sheik Adnan Al Kassie in 13:28 when Gagne pinned Kassie. This was the other main event of the evening, that saw Verne Gagne come out of a two year retirement to team with long time enemy Mad Dog Vachon. Vachon had asked Gagne to come out of retirement in his quest to regain revenge on Blackwell and Kassie. Mad Dog had been out of action with an injury at the hands of Blackwell and Big John Studd, and a series of interviews and vignettes including a famous “Pine Box” interview allowed the Dog to build interest and heat for his return. Gagne and Blackwell started the match. Blackwell was in the prime of his career as an excellent big man and bump taker. Vachon was bleeding early after several chair shots from Jerry Blackwell. Vachon made a hot tag to Gagne. Gagne had Blackwell in the Gagne sleeper until Kassie loaded his cast on his arm and tried to hit Gagne. Gagne moved and Kassie hit Blackwell. Gagne and Vachon removed the cast and used it on Kassie. Gagne came off the second rope while Vachon held the Sheik’s arm to “break” the arm and gain the pinfall victory.
Summary: This was a very good card, with strong matches from top to bottom. One has to wonder how differently history would have played out if Hogan had been given the belt at this event and if Hogan had not jumped to the WWF at the end of 1983. I would highly recommend viewing this special card if you can find a copy of this event.
Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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