Prior to my vacation/wedding/honeymoon, I promised a reflection of NWA Great American Bash ’88; however, this show serves as a precursor to it. Therefore, allow me to provide you with said precursor as a turning point for a promotion.

Live from St. Paul, MN

Airdate: April 24, 1983

Attendance: 20,000

Hosted by Rod Trongard

Match 1: Brad Rheingans versus Tom “Rocky” Stone


Rating: *1/2

Summary: Being both a Wisconsin native as well as an Olympic hero, Rheingans was over with the St. Paul faithful. Having said that, he sold Stone’s heel tactics very well. During the replay, Trongard mistakenly called Rheingan’s suplex a “soufflé” instead of “su-play.” HA!

After the match, Okerlund interviews Rheingans in the ring.

Match 2: “Rock’n’Roll” Buck Zumhofe versus “Mr. Electricity” Steve Regal


Rating: ***1/2

Summary: As you would expect from light heavyweights, the action was rapid and exciting. In fact, Zumhofe impressed me with his ability not only to hang with Regal but also to pop the crowd.

After the match, Okerlund interviews Zumhofe.

Match 3: Jerry “The King” Lawler versus the “Golden Greek” John Tolos


Rating: **

Summary: While not great, the crowd loved Lawler.

Match 4 for the NWA World Women’s tag team titles: Wendi Richter & Joyce Grable (champions) versus Judy Martin & Velvet McIntyre


Rating: ½*

Summary: While the St. Paul faithful enjoyed the previous matches, this was their popcorn match. Please pass the salt!

After the match, Okerlund interviews the champs.

Match 5: “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel versus “Dizzy” Ed Boulder


Rating: *1/2

Summary: It would appear that Leslie was still paying his dues at this point of his career.

Match 6 (six-man): Rick Martel, Jim Brunzell, & Greg Gagne versus Blackjack Lanza, Ken Patera, & Jesse “The Body” Ventura (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan)


Rating: ***

Summary: Most exciting match of the night thus far. Either the finish or the camera work was botched as the foreign object spot wasn’t clear.

After the match, referee Larry Lisowski questions Heenan about the foreign object to which Heenan denies any involvement. Chaos then erupts as Martel and the High Flyers attack the heels to a big ovation. Greg and Brunzell even get their hands on Heenan during the melee.

At ringside, Okerlund interviews Martel and the High Flyers who question the sneaky finish. On the replay, the exchange of the foreign object between Patera and Heenan is revealed.

Match 7 for the AWA World title: Nick Bockwinkel (champion w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) versus the “Incredible” Hulk Hogan


Rating: ***1/2

Summary: While the match was very good, the aftermath became quite a story. Let’s continue.

After the match, Hogan celebrates with the belt while thanking the St. Paul faithful. Okerlund then announces that Blackburn noticed Hogan’s toss of Bockwinkel over the top rope and disqualified Hogan. In effect, Bockwinkel remains champion. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! As concessions pelt the ring, a chorus of “BULLSHIT” erupts. To appease the masses and avoid a riot, Hogan then nails both Bockwinkel and Heenan with the belt. After giving Heenan a cross-corner whip, Hogan deliberately tosses Bockwinkel over the top rope.

At ringside, Okerlund interviews Hogan who yells “this is YOUR belt” referring to the fans.

On the surface, it appeared to be a case of déjà vu. Back on April 18, 1982, Hogan beat Bockwinkel but lost on a technicality (foreign object). Here, the AWA fans, firmly in Hogan’s back pocket, were screwed again by a technicality. This fact would not be lost on them going forward.

Conversely, beneath the surface, or should I say behind the curtain, AWA owner Verne Gagne wanted a portion of Hogan’s merchandising profits as well as a piece of his Japanese purse in exchange for the World title. Knowing that he didn’t have to give up a dime to continue working, Hogan rejected the offer and sought greener pastures.

Match 8: Verne Gagne & Mad Dog Vachon versus Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie & Jerry Blackwell


Rating: **

Summary: Absolutely, positively, without question, they HAD to send the fans home with a happy ending after the title match shenanigans.

After the match, Vachon dispatches Al-Kassie then teams with Verne to toss the bloodied Blackwell over the top rope to the concrete floor.

Okerlund interviews Verne and Vachon who states it’s “dog eat dog.”

Conclusion: So how was this show a turning point for the AWA? By not putting the title on Hogan here, the AWA insulted its fan base which led to a downturn in business. Also, Vince McMahon began the WWF national expansion by signing away not only Hogan but also Ventura, Heenan, Brunzell, Patera, Boulder, Richter, Martin, McIntyre, and even Okerlund. In doing so, the AWA had to scramble to make new stars and fell behind the WWF in terms of competition.

As a show, I would definitely recommend it since the Hogan match has significant historical value. Fire up the WWE Network and spend a couple of hours of what could have been long-term success for the AWA and the Gagnes.

Stay tuned for NWA Great American Bash ‘88!

Buyrate: NONE

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

Custom Search

web counter
web counter