AWA Superclash 1985 (28/9/85) – Review
By 1985, it was do-or-die time for companies like the American Wrestling Association. Vince McMahon made several big moves throughout 1984, and then on March 31, 1985, produced the first Wrestlemania. It was a commercial success for the company, with its combination of in-ring action and a bevy of celebrity involvement from the likes of pop star Cyndi Lauper and action television star, Mr T.
For several months, some of the remaining promoters – including AWA owner Verne Gagne – had worked together under the Pro Wrestling USA banner. It culminated in Gagne promoting a big spectacle called Superclash: Night of Champions on September 28, 1985. The event took place at Comiskey Park in Chicago in front of 20,347 fans (announced as 25,000). The live gate receipt was a matter of contention, with Verne claiming $200,000, while Jim Crockett believed it was actually $280,000 (more on that later).
The thirteen match card lived up to its tagline ‘Night of Champions,’ with only two non-title bouts.
Superclash 1985 opened with announcer Larry Nelson welcoming the fans and having a chat with Verne Gagne himself. Gagne also thanked the fans and Nelson labelled this as being ‘the greatest night in professional wrestling history.’ Nelson not only had the enormous task of interviewing all the wrestlers before and after their matches, but also did the commentary solo.
Match 1 – “Mr Electricity” Steve Regal vs. Brad Rheingans (AWA Light-heavyweight Title)
Rheingans offered a handshake at the start which Regal oddly accepted, despite his cocky demeanour. An exchange of holds but Brad got the early advantage. He hit a monkey flip off the ropes followed by a deep arm drag. Regal tried to use cheating tactics, but Brad was ready for it and worked over the arm.
Regal gained the advantage when Rheinghans missed a dropkick. Some boring chants emanated as Regal ground down the challenger with a reverse chinlock. Each time Brad tried to escape, he’d get taken down illegally by his hair. Regal hit a slam and a dancing elbowdrop for a two count, but when he hit a second slam and went for another elbow, he missed.
Rheingans fired up with a series of moves including a big atomic drop but his pin attempt was thwarted by Jimmy Garvin who distracted the referee. Brad punched Garvin but got rolled up by Regal, and with the help of the tights, lost the match. In the post-match interview, Nelson gave Regal an earful and called it a despicable act. ~ **
Match 2 – Candi Devine vs. Sherri Martel (AWA Women’s Title)
Before the match started, the cameras showed Rheingans bodyslamming Regal onto the turf. Nelson referred to Sherri as ‘sensational’ in a piece of foreshadowing. It takes a while for the bell to ring as Sherri refused to let the referee check her.
Finally the match began, and Candi hit a couple of arm drags before Sherri used the hair to gain an advantage. Candi was thrown between the ropes to the outside, which Nelson said is okay, but if they go over the top rope, it’s an instant disqualification (keep that in mind). Candi crawled to another side of the ring and snuck up on Sherri. She gave her a dropkick which sent Sherri over the top rope with no call from the referee for a disqualification.
Sherri fussed on the apron so Candi brought her in the hard way. Candi gave Sherri two slingshots and then tried a boston crab. Sherri did a nice reversal into a pin for a two count. Sherri sent Candi to the outside and wouldn’t let her back in. Finally, Candi had enough and tripped Sherri before sending her knee into the ring post, followed by a slam on the outside (no protective matting here by the way, just solid ground).
Sherri worked her way out of an armbar/wristlock combination and continued with some illegal tactics. Candi took a backdrop which was likely meant to be the very next move, as another attempt of a backdrop got countered into a sunset flip by Candi for two.
Sherri came back with a big clothesline off the ropes followed by a vertical suplex before coming off the top with a dodgy splash for the win. Sherri whipped Devine with her newly won Women’s Title belt to give Larry his second aneurism for the evening. ~ **
Match 3 – Mil Mascaras vs. Buddy Roberts (Mexican Heavyweight Title)
Mil Mascaras defended the IWA World Heavyweight Title (as opposed to the Mexican championship as it’s referred on the show), a title he took as his own after the International Wrestling Association folded in 1978. Technically a title match, but not for a belt that comes under any promotion or sanctioning body other than Mil Mascaras himself (meaning it’s unlikely to ever leave his waist).
Mil got the better of a test of strength before transitioning into a headscissors takedown. Buddy locked on a full nelson, but Mil powered out, dropped down and kicked Buddy with both feet to the midsection. Mil got a full nelson of his own, but when Buddy tried to power out, he couldn’t, and when he dropped down and kicked out, Mil easily avoided it and clamped the full nelson back on to the amusement of the crowd.
Buddy got both feet on the top rope with the full nelson still applied, and when the referee told Mil to let go, he did, which got another hearty laugh from the crowd and Larry Nelson, who said he’d never seen that one before. Mil continued to dazzle Roberts with a variety of holds, including a standing surfboard and a variation of an abdominal stretch.
Finally, Roberts got into the match when Mil attempted a drop toe hold and Roberts gouged the eyes. Buddy used more illegal tactics, including choking Mil with a tag rope, and then hit an elbow off the second rope. Buddy went for repeated pin attempts after a side breaker and a swinging neck breaker but barely got two due to the slow counts from the corpse ref and Mil’s upper body strength.
In the corner, the two exchanged strikes until Mil set the crowd alight with a side headlock and repeated punches to Buddy’s head. Buddy begged off but then whipped Mil into the opposite corner, only to miss a running kick and got hung upside down.
After a while the referee helped free Buddy, only for Mil to hit him with an interesting looking slam, followed by a flying headbutt off the ropes, but got caught with a boot to the head as he ran into Buddy in the corner. However, Mil recovered quickly and reversed a whip into the buckles into a back body drop followed by a flying bodypress off the top for the win when the referee came alive with a quicker count.
The PA system made it hard to hear anything of Mil’s post match interview with Larry, and when it did kick into gear, you couldn’t understand Mil anyway. ~ ***
Match 4 – Greg Gagne, Curt Hennig & Scott Hall vs. Nick Bockwinkle, Ray Stevens & Larry Zybyszko
The AWA ‘establishment’ heels made some short and sweet comments on what they thought would happen. Then the babyfaces talk, with Greg looking like a moron in his Rambo gear. To his credit though, Greg used his interview time to put over partner Scott Hall, so new to wrestling he has yet to acquire a Cuban accent. Hall says a few words and Curt Hennig finished up to a great cheer.
The ring announcements for the match were made by Jack Brickhouse, the “voice of wrestling in Chicago” and major league baseball commentator. As the resident announcer said, “he’s a gentleman that most people in states like Ohio and further east are not even aware he even called a major league baseball game.” Bit of a back-handed comment, this reviewer thought.
Mr Brickhouse gave a long monologue – which he initially said he wasn’t going to do since it’s such an important event but then did it immediately anyway – about ‘how big wrestling was on Channel 9, three nights a week, for nine years, takes him back to those nights, days, tonight.’ After finally announcing the heels, he got to the babyfaces and said the reason he’s here is “because this fella’s (Greg) dad (Verne) told me to come,” and then waxed lyrical about Verne.
Brickhouse introduced the babyfaces eventually, and the match can start. No, the referee is Larry Lisowski, son of Crusher Lisowski, and as the wrestlers got ready for the match, he drifted off about The Crusher as well. (From this point on, Larry called Larry Lisowski by name if he was officiating, but not any other referee).
Finally the bell rang and we see a tale of the experienced foxes against the young lions. After two clean breaks, Bockwinkle hit an armdrag on Curt. The crowd reacted to something happening off camera which Larry spent a bit of time wondering about, but it is never shown. After the crowd calmed, Bockwinkle was supremely confident after he delivered a hip toss and a bodyslam. But Hennig came back with the same sequence – arm drag, hip toss and a bodyslam, which caused Nick to tag in Zybyszko.
Curt gave a clean break from a collar-to-elbow tie up against the ropes, to which Larry pushed Curt, who responded with a shove of his own which sent Zybyszko through the ropes to the apron. He then walked into a nice arm drag. After another good exchange, Curt tagged in Hall, who worked a wristlock and then a standing arm-bar for a while as Larry Nelson went into detail about Hall’s muscles. Sneaky tactics by the babyfaces as Bockwinkle distracted the referee and caused his own man Zybyszko to be illegally hung across the top rope by Greg Gagne.
Hall reapplied the armbar and tagged in Greg (legally this time) who hit an impressive double foot stomp on the arm from the second rope. Greg reapplied the armbar, until it was broken up by Ray Stevens. Larry gained a brief advantage until Greg launched him with a monkey flip and a headscissors takedown.
Hennig tagged in and Larry hit a desperate belly-to-back suplex and made a much needed tag to Bockwinkle. The heels cut the ring in half and distracted the referee to cause illegal damage in the corner. Hall rushed the heels to try and break it up, but with the referee out of position, Stevens threw Hennig to the outside, followed by a slam on the turf by Zybyszko. The heels continually cut Hennig off every time he tried to get back in the ring. When he finally got in, he was caught in an abdominal stretch by Zybyszko.
Curt battled to reach his partners and made the tag to Greg, but the referee was distracted by Bockwinkle and wouldn’t allow it. Curt got some hope spots in but kept being cut off from making the tag. Hennig levelled Bockwinkle with a flying bodypress for two but it’s broken up by Stevens. Bockwinkle got a side headlock but when they ran the ropes, they clashed heads.
Curt made the hot tag and Greg hit all three opponents with a flurry of moves. All six men ended up in the ring, which led to Stevens being whipped towards Hall who scooped him up into a powerslam for the three-count. ~ ***
Match 5 – Little Tokyo vs. Little Mister T (NWA Midget World Title)
Little Mister T was also Haiti Kid, who worked for the WWF when the real Mister T arrived for Wrestlemania and was the subject of harassment by Roddy Piper and Bob Orton, who claimed he wanted to be like Mister T, so the name stuck. He is even dressed in army fatigues like T would wear on The A-Team. Little Tokyo wore traditional Japanese sandals at the start, which eventually came off at some point.
Collar-and-elbow tie up and Tokyo backed T into the ropes. No clean break, as Toyko hit an overhand forearm to the chest. T is enraged and chased Tokyo out onto the apron, where he slingshot him back in over the second rope.
Tokyo came back with a side headlock takedown which T countered into an armbar, but Tokyo hit a slam and applied his own overhand wrist lock, using T’s hair to keep him down. T came back with a straight-forward forearm to the face that sent Tokyo down with a Flair-like flop. Shots to the head of T did nothing. T hit a turnbuckle smash followed by a headbutt for two.
The match was a see-saw battle with a variety of strikes, side headlocks and arm locks. Tokyo hit a backdrop for two. An awkward moment occurred when Tokyo came off the ropes and T screamed about something in the air, followed by a forearm to the face. “What was that all about?” cried Nelson.
Around ten seconds is then spent looking up in the air like a UFO had just flown overhead. Tokyo then sent T into the ropes to do the same spot, only for T to floor him with another forearm. “It worked for the goose but it was feathers for the gander,” quipped Nelson (must be a Minnesota expression). The comedy portion continued in a test of strength where T stomped Tokyo’s bare feet a few times, but the fans seemed to have tapped out.
Tokyo continued with the side headlock and some strikes until T came back with a headbutt. After a couple of “butt- butts” (Larry’s words not mine), he missed a third and Tokyo took advantage. A backdrop and a double thrust chop off the ropes and Tokyo retained his title. In the post-match interview, Tokyo simply repeated that T “was nothing, is nothing to me.” ~ *1/2
Match 6 – Giant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu vs. The Long Riders & Harley Race (Asian Six Man Title)
Harley cut the first decent pre-match promo of the show, and looked to be wearing Brad Rheingan’s USA jacket. Next we got the three Japanese boys imported from All Japan Pro Wrestling, and Nelson welcomed them to Chicago. Baba uttered an awkward ‘thank you,’ and then it’s back to the ring, where the ring announcer completely botched their names. This is for the ‘Asian World Six Man’ titles, but no belts are in sight.
Tenyaroo (their pronunciation not mine) got some early offense in on Scott Irwin and Race. Tsuruta tagged in and Bill Irwin gained control over the former AWA champion. Tsuruta came back with a high knee on Race and a tag to Baba. Baba hit a “variation of a suplay” (actually a side-Russian legsweep) until he found himself in the heels corner. Baba tagged Tenyaroo but got taken down with a big front kick that drew a roar from the crowd (it should be clear at this point that the fans are taking to the American ‘heels’ as opposed to the Japanese ‘babyfaces’).
Scott Hog hit his own Tsuruta-style high knee for a two count. Race and Tenryu exchanged some chops before Tenryu scored with an enziguiri for two. Big cheer as Race came back with a slam and a piledriver. Plenty of offence on Tenryu by the Irwins until the cold tag is made to Jumbo. He hit a series of chops before a tag to Baba, who sent Wild Bill over the top rope with an Irish whip into the corner (no disqualification called).
The young boy Tenryu gets tagged in and after a slam ate a clothesline by Bill. All six men ended up in the ring until Baba hit a big boot on Wild Bill and won the match. Bill went wild on Larry Nelson at ringside who then berated them back saying “you didn’t get the titles!” ~ **
Match 7 – Kerry Von Erich vs. Jimmy Garvin w/Precious (WCCW Texas Title)
Larry spoke with Kerry in the pre-match interview, and Kerry said he’s fighting for his little brother Mike (who was in hospital recovering from toxic shock syndrome, contracted while having shoulder surgery). A high pitched squeal emitted around the stadium at the introduction by the ring announcer of Kerry Von Erich. Precious got in Kerry’s face before the match, to which Nelson called her “a baby rooster.” More squeals when Kerry removed his robe. Possibly with the exception of The Road Warriors, Kerry appeared the most over on this show.
Kerry pushed out of a collar-and-elbow tie up, to which Garvin complained to the official of a pull to the hair. A second tie-up for the same result, only this time, Kerry mocked Garvin’s strut. Garvin bailed out of the ring after getting hit with two drop kicks and tried to ambush Kerry in the ring while he was distracted by Precious. However, Kerry ducked a wild right and delivered an atomic drop followed by a discus punch and made a cover, but Garvin got the foot on the rope.
Garvin regained control which the camera missed due to focusing on Precious. But soon after, Kerry avoided an elbow, but missed with a knee drop himself. Both men traded blows until Kerry trapped Garvin in an abdominal stretch but he escaped and clamped on a chinlock. Kerry got out and hit a shoulder tackle but ate a knee to the midsection.
Von Erich rolled to the outside to catch his breath only to be berated by Precious. After taking up most of the referee’s count, Kerry tried to get back in, only to take another running knee. Garvin called Precious to distract the official, to where he blatantly threw Kerry over the top rope. Larry wondered whether this match was under AWA or NWA rules (which wouldn’t matter either way as they both had the over-the-top-rope rule).
Kerry has had enough and gets back into the ring by hitting a sunset flip over the rope for a two count. A sneaky knee offered a brief respite, but Kerry immediately came back with a couple of discus punches. Garvin begged off in the corner, but Kerry came at him with the Iron Claw, which Garvin blocked. Kerry released the hold when they got to a standing position and whipped Garvin into the opposite buckles and tried a running shoulder tackle but missed and hit the post.
Garvin went to the top rope to take advantage, but Kerry nailed him, which caused Garvin to get crotched on the turnbuckle. He fell onto the mat and Kerry made the cover and won. Precious got back in Kerry’s face to enable Garvin to hit a knee from behind, but soon became the victim of the Iron Claw. Garvin tumbled out of the ring and is on his way as a young female fan tossed a yellow rose into the ring for Kerry. In the post-match interview, Nelson congratulated Kerry on winning and gave his best to Mike. Kerry then stated “I think I’ve found a new home, and that’s Chicago. I will be back.” More shots of emotional female fans are shown with yellow roses. ~ ***
Match 8 – Ivan Koloff, Nikita Koloff & Krusher Kruschev vs. Baron Von Raschke, The Crusher and Dick The Bruiser (NWA World Six Man Title)
The babyfaces comments are cut from the version this reviewer watched so it’s straight to The Russians for their thoughts. As they are introduced, the camera finds a “Kill the Commies” sign. The babyfaces jump started the match and a brawl ensued before it settled down with Crusher and Krushchev. After that exchange, Ivan is already bleeding.
Baron gets a tag and found himself briefly in The Russians corner. “Four wrestlers and not a hairy head among them,” Larry pointed out. Nikita locked up with Baron and pushed him off. No mean feat, since Baron is apparently ‘280-290 pounds,’ according to Larry. A shoulder block doesn’t budge either of them, but when Nikita tried a second time, Baron motioned for The Claw, which Nikita avoided. Ivan tagged in but got hit with a backdrop and a knee off the ropes before a tag to Dick the Bruiser.
Ivan got caught in the wrong corner and got nailed by all three opponents. After trading blows, Ivan and Bruiser contest a test of strength. Bruiser came out of it and tagged Crusher who got sent into the boot of Krushchev. Some brawling between both Crushers and then the Baron came in and hit a knee off the ropes to the midsection, followed by a reverse chinlock.
Baron took an illegal knee from the outside by Nikita which allowed Krushchev to hit a shoulderbreaker and tagged Ivan, who hit a leg drop for two. Ivan missed an attack into the ropes and Crusher entered the fray with a knee off the ropes. Crusher followed with a snapmare and a suspect elbow between the legs. Bruiser came in and hit an awkward clothesline before tagging in the Baron, who hit a leg drop and The Claw.
Krushchev tried to make the save but was crotched on the top rope by Crusher. Nikita was cut off by Bruiser, and then the fight spilled onto Larry Nelson’s table. The camera cut to the ring where Baron was covered and pinned by Ivan. Loud ‘bullshit’ chant from the crowd so it must have been by nefarious means. No ‘sports vision’ is provided (more on that later) so The Russians escaped with the NWA World Six Man Titles. ~ *1/2
Match 9 – Kamala w/Sheik Adnan Al-kaissie vs. Jerry Blackwell ($10,000 Bodyslam Match)
Adnan spoke to Larry and stated he is back, the Arab people wanted this, and Kamala is one of his many surprises. Nelson tried to move on but Adnan cut him off with a few words in Arabic (probably) before he headed to the ring with Kamala. Blackwell said if Adnan even thinks about sticking his nose in his business, he’s got another thing coming AND he’ll cut the damn thing off!
Blackwell got in the ring and chased Adnan around a little before the ring introductions. It is announced that the winner will get a $10,000 cheque. After Kamala is introduced, Adnan cut pretty much the same promo he did with Nelson, and then wanted the crowd to be silent to sing the Arabian national anthem (not sure Arabia is an actual country, but made up of several countries if this reviewer’s geography is correct).
Kamala had the early advantage with a range of chops and kicks. A kick dropped Blackwell and Kamala choked him on the bottom rope. They fought against the ropes above Nelson’s table and he worried that 400 plus pounds was going to fall on him. Blackwell finally came back with some punches and headbutts, and then floored Kamala with a clothesline followed by a big splash.
Both men try and get the slam but it was blocked either way. An overhead chop dropped Blackwell and then Kamala hit a splash, which the referee counted one – in a bodyslam match (this reviewer cannot say too much, he did the same in a submission match). Kamala continued to work on Blackwell with chops to the traps and then a nerve hold.
Kamala hit a series of overhead chops to the head which made Blackwell angry and he responded with rights and lefts to the joy of the crowd, followed by a whip into the buckles and a corner splash. Kamala tried a chop which Blackwell blocked and then out of nowhere got the slam to win the bout. Adnan immediately hit Blackwell repeatedly in the head with the scabbard of his sword and stole the check from matchmaker Wally Karbo.
Larry pleaded with someone to help Blackwell as Adnan and Kamala continued to bash his skull in. Finally a bald headed jobber came out (sounded like Larry said his name was Drew Tossel), who indeed did get tosseled over the top rope by Kamala. A second man who went after Adnan got hit with the scabbard and thrown out, and it actually looked like Rick Steiner, but I couldn’t catch the name. Finally the assault was ended when Baron Von Raschke chased them out with a baseball bat. ~ *
Match 10 – The Road Warriors w/Paul Ellering vs. The Freebirds w/Buddy Roberts (AWA World Tag Team Titles)
The sound system strained to pump out ‘Badstreet’ as The Freebirds came out in Confederate facepaint to mock The Warriors. Nelson asked Gordy where he got the facepaint, and Gordy responded it was none of his business, just like everyone else in Chicago. Hawk and Animal arrived and brushed right past Nelson and into the ring, where they cleared out Hayes and Gordy before the bell had even rung.
“Paul is always in their ring, corner that is,” said Nelson. After some stalling the match got officially underway. Hawk – or The Hawk as Nelson called it – roughed up Gordy who quickly made the tag to Hayes who got similar treatment. “Hawk and Animal don’t like to do anything but fight. Everything else is boring to them,” added Larry, who continued to pontificate about where The Freebirds got the facepaint.
Animal reversed a whip into the corner that turned Gordy upside down. Animal followed up with a big slam before the tag to The Hawk, who flew off the top with a right hand between the eyes. Gordy tagged out to Hayes, who tried a sunset flip but The Hawk countered with a punch to the face. Hayes got smashed in the Warriors corner and tried to tag Gordy, who was hesitant to get back in. Gordy raked the eyes and tried a whip into the corner, but The Hawk reversed it, only to run shoulder first into the post (for the second time on the night).
Gordy hit a vertical suplay and tagged Hayes who tried to slam The Hawk’s head into the buckles but it was blocked. The Hawk slammed Hayes’ head into the buckle until it was broken up with an elbow to the midsection, followed by a side slam. Hawk pressed out of Hayes’ pin attempt, which sent him to the outside. Hayes recovered and with Gordy dropped Hawk with a double-team elbow off the ropes. Gordy hit a piledriver which had little effect, but the ‘Birds continued the offence.
The Hawk got trapped in the ‘Birds corner and was double-teamed until he fought back and out of the corner. Hayes prevented the tag though and levelled him with a clothesline. Hayes hit a slam and looked to finish it with a move off the top rope but The Hawk caught him with a press slam. This caused Hayes to land near his corner so he made the tag.
Gordy and The Hawk clashed heads, and finally Hawk got the tag to The Animal who nailed Gordy with a series of elbows followed by an atomic drop and a powerslam off the ropes. Hayes made the save and all four are in. Buddy Roberts tried to get in but was pulled off the apron by Paul Ellering, who in turn got hit with a steel chair to the back of the head.
The Hawk went outside to help Ellering as The Freebirds tried to double team Animal but failed. Animal press slammed the three hundred pound Gordy and hit a powerslam on Hayes. Animal knocked down Gordy with a flying shoulder block and made a cover as the referee was distracted. Hayes loaded his fist and came off the second rope and nailed Animal in the back of the head. The referee turned back around and registered Gordy’s cover and called for the bell.
“Can it be, that The Freebirds have somehow won the Tag Team championship of the world?!” The announcement was made that a title change had taken place as The Freebirds took off with the belts. Larry Nelson pondered about what had just occurred when he was joined by Verne Gagne. Verne called for the “sports vision” to provide a replay. Apparently, the people in the truck had no idea what he was talking about, which left Verne waiting awkwardly for something that was not forthcoming. This bit was edited out, and in the next shot, The Road Warriors exited with the belts. ~ ***1/2
Match 11 – Sgt Slaughter vs. Boris Zhukov (AWA America’s Title)
Slaughter got mobbed coming to the ring as he passed out small American flags to the kids. Zhukov tried a jumpstart before the bell and the slugfest was on. Slaughter hit some punches until Zhukov begged off in the corner. He tried a kick but Sarge caught the boot, and after a while, spun him around and raked his eyes, followed by a face rake across the top rope.
Camera looked out at the stands for some reason and Larry again doesn’t know what is going on. Both men traded blows until Zhukov was run shoulder first into the ring post for the third time in the night. Slaughter went after the injury with repeated blows on the outside before going back into the ring.
A fan handed Slaughter an American flag which he used like a matador, and caught Zhukov charging in like a bull with a kick to the midsection and some more right hands before kissing the flag and returning it. However, Zhukov reversed a whip into the corner, which sent Sarge flying over the top rope to the outside (no disqualification).
Zhukov hit a slam and some stomps, followed by a running knee on the apron as Slaughter tried to get back in. He continued to work over Slaughter with mostly illegal moves, as well as a stun gun (probably not named that yet). Boris hit a “backbreaker” (swinging neckbreaker) for a two. Boris stomped Slaughter until he ended up on Larry Nelson’s table. A great camera shot is shown of Nelson valiantly trying to call the action as he lost his chair and almost his monitor.
Boris tried a piledriver on the outside but got backdropped. The referee was very liberal with his ten count. Zhukov tried a top rope move but got press slammed. Slaughter followed up with a back elbow, a drop kick and a backdrop. Slaughter went for a telegraphed running clothesline but Boris pulled the referee in front of him. Slaughter attended to the referee as Boris loaded his elbow pad and tried a sneak attack. It was thwarted, but Sarge was caught in the face moments later and blood ensued.
Zhukov continued to go after the cut with punches and then shoved the referee to cause the disqualification. He continued the assault until Slaughter hulked up and chased him away. Slaughter cuts a very patriotic promo, and said he had declared war on every foreign wrestler. USA! USA! ~ **
Match 12 – Ric Flair vs. Magnum TA (NWA World Heavyweight Title)
Of all the many title matches on the show, this was undoubtedly the most important. Magnum promised to take the title, as all it will take is one belly-to-belly to get it done. Flair said he won’t allow Magnum to do anything he doesn’t want to do, and will walk out of Chicago the champion.
Our boy Lisowski went through pre-match instructions to really make this look an important bout. Both men traded holds and counters, neutralising each other’s offence. Magnum got a deep hammerlock on Flair who broke it by backing him into a corner. Magnum got the better of an overhand wristlock into an arm bar. Nelson brought up an interesting topic that got coverage in the magazines of the day, about the possibility of a unification match between the NWA and AWA World champions.
The challenger scored with a hip toss off the ropes, followed by a dropkick and a press slam to cause Flair to beg off. Flair’s stall worked and gained him a breather. He landed a knee out of a collar-and-elbow and lit Magnum up with some chops. Magnum came back with a backdrop and worked back on the arm. Flair attacked the ribs to break the hold and threw him out, but Magnum got right back in went on a flurry of punches, but then missed a dropkick.
Flair kept up the offence and felt confident after hitting a big knee drop to the head, and then followed with a double-underhook suplay for a two count. Flair disputed the count and then locked in an abdominal stretch. Flair played with the referee by using the tights for illegal leverage, and when Larry went looking, Flair pulled the hair, until finally Larry made him break.
The champion showed more frustration with the official. Flair snapmared Magnum and measured him for another knee drop but missed. Big pop when Magnum slapped on a figure four. After a struggle Flair made it to the ropes. Magnum dragged him to the middle and tried the figure four again, but Flair kicked out with his foot to avoid it.
Flair tried a vertical suplay but couldn’t lift Magnum, who gives Flair one of his own for a two count. Magnum almost pinned Flair with a backslide. Flair stopped a series of punches with an eye poke. “Can’t find ‘em if you can’t see ‘em.” Magnum got thrown to the outside and Flair rammed him shoulder first into the post along with a series of chops.
Magnum tried a surprise sunset flip but Flair punched him in the face. Flair trapped him in a hammerlock and used the rope for leverage. Lisowski caught him again and made him break the hold and they get into some banter. Lisowski threatened to throw the match out, Flair responded that he could get him fired. Magnum is put in an armbar on the mat for a long time and Flair continued to use the rope illegally.
Flair suddenly tried to cradle pin Magnum who powered out of the attempt. Flair tried to up the tempo with chops and punches and then tried a whip into the buckles with Magnum reversed and then caught him in a sleeper. Magnum hit a slam and tried a splash but Flair got the knees up. Flair scored with a shinbreaker and transitioned into a figure four. After a while Magnum turned it over but Flair made the ropes.
Magnum got the better of a punch and chop exchange and then Flair tumbled over the buckles after an irish whip. Nelson thought that should be an over the top rope disqualification, but Lisowski thought otherwise. Flair gets juiced after being run head first into the post and then repeated punches to the forehead.
Flair almost got pinned on another backslide and then Magnum hit the belly to belly, but Flair’s leg wiped out Lisowski. Magnum then tried to roll up Flair, who in turn used Magnum’s tights to hold him down and stole the victory. Flair berated Chicago and Magnum confirmed that Flair used the tights and that it wasn’t over between them. ~ ****
Match 13 – Rick Martel vs. Stan Hansen (AWA World Heavyweight Title)
The ‘match’ was chaos from start to finish, as Hansen threw a chair in the ring and brought in the cow bell and pummeled Martel who was already in the ring. Martel was thrown from the ring and they fought amongst the fans, which scattered like it was a bad day in the Budokan. The two traded blows until the referee took off and the bell rang, no doubt a disqualification.
Instead, Hansen and Martel returned to the ring and continued the match like nothing had happened, so everyone let it go. Martel got a sunset flip for two and Hansen booted him in the head. Martel dodged a Hansen charge into the buckles and delivered a slam. Hansen immediately choked Martel and they rolled around the mat scrapping at each other.
Right back out of the ring, Martel got posted and hit in the head with a plastic chair. Hansen got a steel chair and waffled Martel with it, but then got a shoulder in the gut. Rick got the chair Hansen dropped and repeatedly hit him until the referee called for the bell – again! Hansen led Martel toward the dugouts with his bullrope as fans screamed in panic. Martel fought back and even slammed Stan on the wooden boards the wrestlers used to walk to the ring.
The two continued to fight in the dugout, as Verne and Karbo tried to separate them. The announcer officially decreed this a double disqualification. ~ 1/2
The Verdict: Superclash 1985 is not a terrible card, but I found it a bit hit and miss. The standout for me was the NWA World Heavyweight Title bout between Flair and Magnum, which in the end made for a better advertisement for Jim Crockett Promotions, who provided said match. The AWA World Tag Title bout was entertaining from start to finish, although marred a bit by the unnecessary bait-and-switch finish. Kerry Von Erich was very over and had another stellar match with Jimmy Garvin to add to the stuff they’d done already in World Class. You know you’ve made a connection when young female fans cry just over being able to see you up close or accepting a yellow rose.
The main event was the biggest disappointment. I didn’t expect a whole lot from the bodyslam match, or some of the others like Slaughter/Zhukov, or the midget bout. But the AWA World Title match between Martel and Hansen only goes a few minutes to a double disqualification (although the action for those few minutes was good).
We had a few matches with over-the-hill veterans; Ray Stevens had little to do in the six man against the AWA young guns, and Crusher and Bruiser were awkward in their six-man against the Russians. However, you do get some young Curt Hennig, as well as Scott Hall, a relative newcomer to the business. There were some production flaws with the cameras missing a few key moments, the missing ‘sports vision,’ and the pre and post match interviews got repetitive. I must say though, Larry Nelson did a great job under the circumstances doing solo commentary on top of all the interviews.
If we’re looking outwardly, this was not a show that I think would have bothered Vince McMahon, if this was to be the AWA’s answer to Wrestlemania. The quote I provided in the review from the ring announcer describing Jack Brickhouse as a regional sportscaster was in no way going to impress anyone who saw Wrestlemania with Cyndi Lauper, Mr. T (the full grown one), etc. Of course, the emphasis from the AWA was always wrestling, but in 1985, we’re getting close to the era of wrestling pay-per-view, which needed to be more glamorous.
As mentioned in the introduction, there was a discrepancy over the live gate receipts, with Verne apparently saying $200,000, and Jim Crockett Jr saying $280,000. In an interview with 411Mania.com, former AWA announcer Ken Resnick said: “Having been in the AWA (and) around the Gagne’s, any dispute about the house for that Comiskey Park show was not the first disputed gate that had been talked about in the AWA…sometimes payoffs turned out to be much less than the talent thought they were going to be.”
According to the Wikipedia article for Superclash 1985, several JCP wrestlers were pulled from AWA events and some shows had to be cancelled altogether. It does quote Tim Hornbaker’s brilliant book National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly that Strangled Pro Wrestling, only I couldn’t find it in my copy. However, in Hornbaker’s more recent book Death of the Territories, he wrote that Verne and Crockett smoothed things over and on a combined show on December 29 at the Meadowlands, Martel dropped the AWA World Heavyweight Title to Hansen. So apparently, the relationship between AWA and JCP continued on a little bit further before the massive cracks in Pro Wrestling USA appeared.
Overall Rating: ***