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AWA Championship Wrestling 02-20-88

Taped from Minot, ND

Airdate: February 20, 1988 (taped 02/06)

Attendance: unknown

Hosted by Larry Nelson, Rod Trongard, & Donna Gagne

Can Kelly defeat Hennig to become the “Magnificent” champion? The Midnight Rockers light up the North Dakota night while Orton, McDaniel, and Ustinov ply their trade for our amusement. With a World title match on the card, this must be a great show, right?

Opening montage.

Match 1: “Cowboy” Bob Orton (w/o Adrian Adonis) versus Ricky Rice


Rating: *

Summary: Bullshit decision that makes the AWA look weak. If Orton is allowed to continue without punishment, the match doesn’t leave a stain on the promotion. It’s one thing to send your opponent into the ring post, yet it’s another to outlaw something Randy Savage had been doing without issue for over two years in the WWF.

After the match, Orton slams Rice on the floor, tosses him into the ring, hoists him atop the top turnbuckle, and superplexes him. See…THAT’S the logical finish. A relentless Orton shoves down DeRusha and deals referee Marty Miller an elbow smash before tossing DeRusha between the ropes to the floor. Next, he piledrives Rice much to the chagrin of the Minot faithful.

We revisit last week’s episode when Greg “accidentally” got disqualified for making Adonis HIT THE POLE. Referee Marty Miller returned the belt to Greg, but Orton absconded with it. Nelson clarifies that the belt was returned to Greg. Isn’t possession 9/10th of the law?

Match 2 (non-title): AWA World tag team champions the Midnight Rockers versus Mike Smith & Mark Wagner


Rating: *

Summary: Showcase match for the Midnight Rockers.

Nelson interviews Michaels who must have paid a quick visit to Slippery’s Tavern prior to his arrival at the studio. As Michaels stumbles over his lines, he namedrops Jerry “The King” Lawler and “Superstar” Bill Dundee as upcoming challengers. Before Nelson could run away, Ustinov makes his presence felt by calling his manager—Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie—his tag team partner. Good for you, Ustinov. I’m sure your parents are very proud. Oh, wait…

Match 3: Soldat Ustinov (w/ Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie) versus Darrell Olson


Rating: DUD

Summary: Showcase match for the useless one.

Match 4: “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel versus Jim Thomas


Rating: DUD

Summary: Showcase match for McDaniel.

After the match, McDaniel returns the slap to Thomas before exiting the ring.

Nelson interviews AWA Women’s champion Miceli who touts her protégé Kelly. While Kelly cuts his promo on Hennig, he promises to dethrone him to become World champion. That would be magnificent, no?

As expected, Nelson cuts him off, so Kelly threatens a lawsuit. Oh wait, wrong promotion.

Match 5 for the AWA World title: “Cool” Curt Hennig (champion) versus “Mr. Magnificent” Kevin Kelly (w/ Madusa Miceli)


Rating: **

Summary: Hennig didn’t have much to work against here, but he used psychology and momentum to keep his title. Let’s hope Kelly never receives another title shot in his career.

After the match, Kelly throws a tantrum, nails Hennig, and vaults him over the top rope to the floor. He tosses Hennig back into the ring, grabs the belt to a big pop, and drops it onto Hennig with a “next time” gesture to the Minot faithful.

To end the show, Nelson interviews Red Bastien who touts Hennig as well as the modern athlete of 1988. Right, Sam?

Conclusion: Without question, this was a one-match show with Hennig carrying the load that is Kevin Kelly to a watchable match. Since the mark fans of the Minot faithful wanted to see a title change, they put their money on Kelly but ultimately lost. They’ll have to return to Fargo for their own brand of fun.

Hennig’s magic against Kelly was remarkable to say the least. If you must see Hennig drag Kelly’s carcass around for ten minutes, go for it; otherwise, skip the show and locate the nearest cheeseburger joint.

Next week, the Midnight Rockers defend the AWA World tag team titles against Adonis and Orton.

TV Rating: NONE

Stay tuned for AWA 02-27-88!

Comments? Suggestions? Send them to me at rsg@rockstargary.com and follow me on Twitter (@rockstargary202).

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