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silentkiller



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At the beginning of 1986 the AWA was a major league promotion but by the time the year ended the promotion appeared to be on its last legs. What caused the promotion to take such a drastic downturn during the year and was there anyway that the promotion could have avoided the massive fall that they took in 86?

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The beginning of 86 was smoke and mirrors. They had a lot of talent in place that was not going to be sticking around for the long haul and I think they knew it.
Look at all the talent at Wrestlerock that was basically gone after that event...that's when things changed as a marker for me.

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silentkiller wrote: At the beginning of 1986 the AWA was a major league promotion but by the time the year ended the promotion appeared to be on its last legs. What caused the promotion to take such a drastic downturn during the year and was there anyway that the promotion could have avoided the massive fall that they took in 86?

Vincent Kennedy McMahon happened.  He raided the AWA of most of its bigger names as well as making it difficult to run cards in many of its hot spots..
Here in Winnipeg I'm pretty sure t That was when cards stopped being held at the Winnipeg Arena and started being held at the Convention Centre or elsewhere.
Verne or anybody else out there could afford to pay what the WWF was paying and Vince wasn't even really using many of the guys or he was jobbing them out.

khawk
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Angelic Assassin wrote: silentkiller wrote: At the beginning of 1986 the AWA was a major league promotion but by the time the year ended the promotion appeared to be on its last legs. What caused the promotion to take such a drastic downturn during the year and was there anyway that the promotion could have avoided the massive fall that they took in 86?

Vincent Kennedy McMahon happened.  He raided the AWA of most of its bigger names as well as making it difficult to run cards in many of its hot spots..
Here in Winnipeg I'm pretty sure t That was when cards stopped being held at the Winnipeg Arena and started being held at the Convention Centre or elsewhere.
Verne or anybody else out there could afford to pay what the WWF was paying and Vince wasn't even really using many of the guys or he was jobbing them out.The AWA was right out of Winnipeg after January of 1986.
Vince did his damage over time and mid-1986 was when it really started to show.

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The AWA shows in the Summer and Fall of '86 started to look a little bit better, but the writing was on the wall big time.

Angelic Assassin



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khawk wrote: Angelic Assassin wrote: silentkiller wrote: At the beginning of 1986 the AWA was a major league promotion but by the time the year ended the promotion appeared to be on its last legs. What caused the promotion to take such a drastic downturn during the year and was there anyway that the promotion could have avoided the massive fall that they took in 86?

Vincent Kennedy McMahon happened.  He raided the AWA of most of its bigger names as well as making it difficult to run cards in many of its hot spots..
Here in Winnipeg I'm pretty sure t That was when cards stopped being held at the Winnipeg Arena and started being held at the Convention Centre or elsewhere.
Verne or anybody else out there could afford to pay what the WWF was paying and Vince wasn't even really using many of the guys or he was jobbing them out.The AWA was right out of Winnipeg after January of 1986.
Vince did his damage over time and mid-1986 was when it really started to show.

There were a couple of Winnipeg shows after. In 88 with an attendance of 500. And 1 or 2 others I saw. Pretty sure those would have been Convention Center  shows and one time in Brandon where they got over a thousand.  
Sad to see when they had been here every 3 weeks for so many years.

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Angelic Assassin wrote: khawk wrote: Angelic Assassin wrote: silentkiller wrote: At the beginning of 1986 the AWA was a major league promotion but by the time the year ended the promotion appeared to be on its last legs. What caused the promotion to take such a drastic downturn during the year and was there anyway that the promotion could have avoided the massive fall that they took in 86?

Vincent Kennedy McMahon happened.  He raided the AWA of most of its bigger names as well as making it difficult to run cards in many of its hot spots..
Here in Winnipeg I'm pretty sure t That was when cards stopped being held at the Winnipeg Arena and started being held at the Convention Centre or elsewhere.
Verne or anybody else out there could afford to pay what the WWF was paying and Vince wasn't even really using many of the guys or he was jobbing them out.The AWA was right out of Winnipeg after January of 1986.
Vince did his damage over time and mid-1986 was when it really started to show.

There were a couple of Winnipeg shows after. In 88 with an attendance of 500. And 1 or 2 others I saw. Pretty sure those would have been Convention Center  shows and one time in Brandon where they got over a thousand.  
Sad to see when they had been here every 3 weeks for so many years.
You are right of course, I was thinking you meant that there were Winnipeg shows still going on more into 1986.
...and yeah what happened in Winnipeg was the bitter reality for those in towns that had the WWF take over. No more localized angles and tv, everything was generic around-the-horn sort of stuff, and that bit...which is also why the shows went from every three weeks to every couple of months (if you were lucky).
A place like St. Paul/Minny in the AWA vs. WWF case was different since a localized flavor was added to directly compete with the AWA, but when the competition was driven out of town, that was the end of that.

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Didnt they lose The Road Warriors, The Freebirds, Rick Martel, Jimmy Garvin all around the same time ? That's a big chunk of their main event guys right there. That hurt.

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Last appearance for all those guys was Wrestlerock.

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I think what hurt the AWA as much as anything was its adherence to outdated booking and TV production formats. The TV show was almost entirely squash matches with a great emphasis on interviews. Angles were few and far between. That made it to a sitting duck once fans had a chance to see other promotions. The AWA was the home team, but I enjoyed the more modern seeming WWF in the mid 1980s and getting to see World Class with its big main events.

The stars slowly drifted away during 1984 and 1985. The final exodus of in their prime stars happened during the first months of 1986. After that the promotion had guys that were too young, were too old, and/or were obvious second division players or lower. Yet even in the face of that, the AWA didn't go to a more modern, angle driven booking style. I don't know if it would have worked, but maintaining the status quo didn't work. Later attempts at innovation came off as amateurish.

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I think another important aspect is how WWF signing Brad Rheingans to a deal effectively put him on the road long enough to upset the routine the AWA had used for years in order to supply rookie stars for their own shows. After Verne stopped doing camps and Brad was the successor in that role, after 1985 you didn't see the cards stocked with new talents as in the past, and in 1987 with Ray Stevens and Wahoo McDaniel booking talent, you saw an influx of southern talent like Original Midnight Express, Tommy Rich and Dick Slater. The younger guys like Mitch Snow, DJ Peterson and JT Southern hadn't been pushed much elsewhere but they were used instead. By the time Brad was done with WWF and training again, the next crop of guys he trained were too green to make an impact for a group which had lost a lot of momentum during his absence.

Last edited on Wed Apr 29th, 2020 07:25 am by One Fan Gang

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One Fan Gang wrote: I think another important aspect is how WWF signing Brad Rheingans to a deal effectively put him on the road long enough to upset the routine the AWA had used for years in order to supply rookie stars for their own shows. After Verne stopped doing camps and Brad was the successor in that role, after 1985 you didn't see the cards stocked with new talents as in the past, and in 1987 with Ray Stevens and Wahoo McDaniel booking talent, you saw an influx of southern talent like Original Midnight Express, Tommy Rich and Dick Slater. The younger guys like Mitch Snow, DJ Peterson and JT Southern hadn't been pushed much elsewhere but they were used instead. By the time Brad was done with WWF and training again, the next crop of guys he trained were too green to make an impact for a group which had lost a lot of momentum during his absence.

Interesting. I never thought of that.  Do you think this was a conscious decision by VKM realizing this would affect the AWA  talent pool effectively as much as taking say, The Crusher. 
Brad Rheingans is an odd choice otherwise to be signed by WWF  He didn't fit in with what they were looking for at all in terms of in ring talent.I don't remember.  Did he perform in the role of trainer with the WWF.  I can't even distinctly remember a wrestling match even.

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Ok so it looks like Brad Rheingans did wrestle in the WWF a fair bit in 87, mostly it seems, beating Frenchie Martin. Can't remember a single match. 

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I think it was a specific target, to remove one of Verne's unique tools from his arsenal. Crusher was effectively out after SuperClash 85 and didn't really get signed away, as he was effectively retired, save for one off returns with WWFcards in traditional AWA stronghold cities. With Rheingans, it appears his schedule in 1987 was frequent enough to keep him on the road, away from his home base where he potentially might double dip by training someone.

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tamalie wrote: I think what hurt the AWA as much as anything was its adherence to outdated booking and TV production formats. The TV show was almost entirely squash matches with a great emphasis on interviews. Angles were few and far between. That made it to a sitting duck once fans had a chance to see other promotions. The AWA was the home team, but I enjoyed the more modern seeming WWF in the mid 1980s and getting to see World Class with its big main events.

The stars slowly drifted away during 1984 and 1985. The final exodus of in their prime stars happened during the first months of 1986. After that the promotion had guys that were too young, were too old, and/or were obvious second division players or lower. Yet even in the face of that, the AWA didn't go to a more modern, angle driven booking style. I don't know if it would have worked, but maintaining the status quo didn't work. Later attempts at innovation came off as amateurish.
I didn't get to see much of the AWA and by the time I did, it was after 86 and they were clearly on their way out.  It is interesting that you note the amount of squash matches.  The WWWF and even the WWF had that same formula as well but I guess spiced things up.  The NWA territories always seemed to have decent matches for TV and furthered story lines on TV.  Basically, Vince just spent them all to death and was probably somewhat fortunate to survive himself.  The NWA and the territories never really represented a united front against Vince and I suspected he knew they never would despite the one effort.  

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How long was Blackjack Lanza a spy for Vince while working for Verne? A couple wrestlers have said this. I think Heenan mentioned this and few others. That's so slimey

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Lanza was doing office work for Verne in the early Pro Wrestling USA days in 1984 as his in the ring duties were winding up. I heard the stories of Jack being a mole going back 25 years ago. If not mistaken, both he and Nick Bockwinkel took over Winnipeg as a market by 1986 from Verne and Jack may have gotten sole oversight later on, at which time he switched to Vince. The first appearance I recall is Lanza at WM3, "sneaking up behind Mary Hart" while she entered the ring, to quote Jesse Ventura's commentary.

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I think Rheingans wrestled once or twice on TV, on Prime Time Wrestling. I remember Bobby Heenan blasting him and saying: "the reason the US boycotted the Olympics was because they knew Rheingans was going to be their coach".

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I remember one of his first matches he got beat by Tiger Chung Lee. That was a WTF type of loss considering he had only been there a little while, but it spoke volumes about why he was hired in the first place, to hurt Verne.

Last edited on Thu Apr 30th, 2020 12:22 am by khawk

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Ultimark wrote: tamalie wrote: I think what hurt the AWA as much as anything was its adherence to outdated booking and TV production formats. The TV show was almost entirely squash matches with a great emphasis on interviews. Angles were few and far between. That made it to a sitting duck once fans had a chance to see other promotions. The AWA was the home team, but I enjoyed the more modern seeming WWF in the mid 1980s and getting to see World Class with its big main events.

The stars slowly drifted away during 1984 and 1985. The final exodus of in their prime stars happened during the first months of 1986. After that the promotion had guys that were too young, were too old, and/or were obvious second division players or lower. Yet even in the face of that, the AWA didn't go to a more modern, angle driven booking style. I don't know if it would have worked, but maintaining the status quo didn't work. Later attempts at innovation came off as amateurish.
I didn't get to see much of the AWA and by the time I did, it was after 86 and they were clearly on their way out.  It is interesting that you note the amount of squash matches.  The WWWF and even the WWF had that same formula as well but I guess spiced things up.  The NWA territories always seemed to have decent matches for TV and furthered story lines on TV.  Basically, Vince just spent them all to death and was probably somewhat fortunate to survive himself.  The NWA and the territories never really represented a united front against Vince and I suspected he knew they never would despite the one effort.  


JCP had a lot of squashes and could drive fans nuts with the "We gotta go!" deal after the main event caliber match they spent all episode hyping up started 60 seconds before the show ended. However, it had the key interviews and angles while the squash matches were broken up by some quality competitive bouts. They used TV to get somewhere. The WWF had mostly squashes but was so good at getting over the pushed wrestler's look, personality, finishing move or hold, and whatever feud he was in. The number of angles was low, but it was like Memphis compared to the AWA and at least they led to big business. The AWA's shows were mostly a bunch of matches with nothing binding together any storylines beyond some very basic issues.

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Great summary by Tamalie. JCP really did drive the angles down everyone’s throats. All of their programs were intertwined. To
They’d replay the angles, but most importantly every interview had a purpose to push angles, even if the wrestler wasn’t involved. I’m watching the 8/15/87 Sat Night show and Ivan Koloff comes out, and all he does is talk about the upcoming Flair vs Ronnie Garvin match and the Dusty vs Luger Weaver-lock challenge coming up.

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Blazer wrote: Great summary by Tamalie. JCP really did drive the angles down everyone’s throats. All of their programs were intertwined. To
They’d replay the angles, but most importantly every interview had a purpose to push angles, even if the wrestler wasn’t involved. I’m watching the 8/15/87 Sat Night show and Ivan Koloff comes out, and all he does is talk about the upcoming Flair vs Ronnie Garvin match and the Dusty vs Luger Weaver-lock challenge coming up.

It seemed like the rule in every JCP interview was that you had to put over at least three other guys. Ric Flair could start a promo about nothing much, and three minutes later there were four contenders, and you wanted to see every one of them fight Flair.

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Flair pushing three or four contenders was smart on his part because JCP didn't standardize its cards to the point that on each day of the week, the lineups in all cities were the same. He might have matches with Nikita in most cities, but would also face Ronnie Garvin in some, Dusty would take a break from feuding with Tully to get a shot somewhere, and perhaps there'd be a match for a guy like Brad Armstrong in a smaller JCP market like Macon. Flair got that if he went on TV to bang the drum only about Nikita, the fan who was thinking of buying a ticket to see him against someone else might view the bout as unimportant and not worth his time and money. Flair pushed those bouts too and got fans in the house.

Last edited on Wed Jun 10th, 2020 08:58 pm by tamalie



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