American Wrestling Federation: The Lost Episodes #1
by Scrooge McSuck
- I never thought this day would come. Years ago, I recapped a 4-disc, 18-episode collection of a short-lived promotion that was shopped around in the mid 90's, funded by money-mark Paul Alperstein. The AWF had a death timeslot on the MSG Network in my area, but didn't find much success, doing limited shows and TV tapings filled with freebies. All of the episodes from that DVD set (which is long since out of production) were from the first "season", featuring the Tournament for a Heavyweight Champion, as well as some matches from the forgotten Tag Team Championship Tournament. It wasn't until years later I found out a second "season" was taped, but other than a few short clips, it was mostly lost to time and indifference... until now. An anonymous YouTuber has uploaded several episodes from this season, so you know what that means: Me suffering.
- Sgt. Slaughter is still the poster boy for the introduction, but we have a revamped montage featuring some new faces that weren't around for Season 1, to go along with the spoilers of who are the reigning tag Team Champions.
- From "last week", Ken Resnick is in the ring, along with manager "extraordinaire" Rico Suave, looking like an obese (and still living) Dino Bravo, and he just casually introduces us to Hawk and Animal, the Road Warriors (and to my surprise, they come out to Black Sabbath's "Iron Man"). Animal says Tommy Rich and Greg Valentine don't want any of them, because they aren't a couple of Johnny Come Latelys. They're hit to bust heads and win titles. If you're going to have a bunch of has-beens in a promotion, at least the LOD were still somewhat relevant and had a cool factor around them in an era where the big two promotions were spinning their wheels trying to come up with the next big idea.
- Mick Karch and LORD ALFRED HAYES are "sitting at ringside" in front of the most obvious green-screen effect you'll ever find. Hayes was a victim of the WWF cutting costs in the Summer of 1995, and not to sound heartless, he had zero presence in the company since they scrapped Update and Special Report sometime during the Spring of 1994, other than recycling his voice for the paid sponsorship spots on each show.
Sgt. Slaughter vs. The Lebanese Assassin
Good to see Slaughter still finding work, employing a Senior Citizen as his flag bearer... I mean an older senior citizen than who was working in the ring. Lockup to the corner and the Assassin with a shove. Lord Alfred can't help but refer to him as obese. The Assassin telegraphs a right hand by a few hours and gets dumped over the top rope. Fidel Sierra is standing by in the Warrior's Corner with a promo targeted at Slaughter. The Assassin takes control, sending Slaughter into the corner and planting him with a slam. He makes a trip to the top and misses a dive that looked like an obvious "I'm taking a bump on my side" spot. Slaughter with a short-clothesline. Slaughter with a second clothesline, and the Cobra Clutch finishes at 3:11 of Round 1 (yes, we still have Rounds). Post-match, a bunch of geeks rush the ring to celebrate with Slaughter.
- Ken Resnick is standing by for an interview with The Z-Man, Tom Zenk... or "Zink", based on the graphic on screen. Zenk has never worked in a promotion with rounds, but he's excited to be here. Resnick says there's a rumor of Zenk teaming up with Slaughter, but he won't confirm those rumors.
The Blacktop Bully (w/ Big Mama, The Highway Honey) vs. The Puerto Rican Punisher .... SERIOUSLY. That's the jobber's name. I don't know who came up with them, but I hope they were slapped upside the head for it. Big Mama looks a bit rough, but with that name, do you expect a high-end model? The canned reactions rivals late 80's WWF. Bully with a quick takedown into an aggressive chin-lock. Last time I saw the hold done that way, it was from Smash of Demolition. The Punisher has axes on his trunks. I'm shocked he wasn't called the Ethiopian Executioner. NAILS cuts an inset promo on Tony Atlas. HOW DID THEY GET AWAY WITH THIS?! Bully grabs an odd arm-hold called the "Breaker-1-9", and that finishes at 2:18 of Round 1. Bully probably did one move for each $5 bill in his paycheck that night.
- Ken Resnick is at ringside with the AWF Champion, Tito Santana. He's scheduled to defend the belt against Bob Orton, the thorn in his side. Orton, along with Sheik Adnan-Alkahassie, comes to ringside, with Orton on crutches. Wait, I thought he was managed by Sir Oliver Humperdink! MR/. FUJI comes to ringside too, and the distraction allows Orton to reveal he's gold bricking and decks Santana with the crutch. OK, when was this taped? Fuji was still making semi-regular appearances for the WWF all the way through 1995. Commissioner Jim Brunzell shows up threatening a fine of $2,500 to Orton for his actions. I guess now we know how they keep funding this promotion. Resnick, the road scholar he is, calls this a premeditated attack.
Koko B. Ware & Tony Atlas vs. Nails & Bob Bradley
Koko and Atlas (dressed in bizarre Captain America inspired tights) come out to Koko's "Bird, Bird, Bird" music. Koko even has the sides of his head painted like it's 1989! Bradley attacks Atlas from behind, but Atlas no-sells. In another world, it's Saba Simba vs. Battle Kat. Atlas plants Bradley with a choke-slam. "Gentleman" Chris Adams is standing by for an inset promo, introducing his new partner, "Chief" Charlie Norris. Ew. Whip and Atlas with a clothesline. Atlas no-sells some more and throws Bradley with a press slam for three at 1:35 of Round 1. Koko never tagged in, and Nails never even got in his corner. Post-match, Nails beats up Bradley, no doubt inspiring Vince Russo's "Crash TV" style booking. Tony Atlas returns to ringside to check on Bradley, but Nails wants no part of him... for now.
- Ken Resnick is standing by with "The Family", Rico Suave and AWF Tag Team Champions, Greg Valentine and Tommy Rich. Suave downplays pooping his pants in the presence of the Road Warriors. The lighting is so bad, Suave looks like he's a key witness of a trial who's identity is being kept secret for a television interview.
- Some 50's inspired valet named "Angel Baby" babbles about something as we head to a commercial break. This wasn't me being lazy, the audio was poor. Whoever this is had to be either a relative or love interest of the promoter, because she's awful.
The Super Destroyer vs. Ronnie Twist
I'm not sure, but I think Twist used to go by the name "Ron Powers." This is taking place instead of Santana vs. Orton. Bait-and-switch? Oh my God, this DID inspire Vince Russo! Lockup and the Super Black Scorpion with a waist-lock takedown. Inset promo from a "young man who's always ready", Konan 2000. Mick Karch announces a "Halloween" themed show for October 19th. Oh, my goodness, this is televised in the latter parts of 1996?! The Ultra Executioner wants a handshake, but Ronnie Mashed Potato declines. The Mega Space Invader controls with underhanded tactics. You know it's a scrub match when we go the full first round without a fall. Inset promo from Sgt. Slaughter between falls. The Mysterious Masked Man attacks to kick off the 2nd Round. He takes Twist down with a back suplex as we get an inset promo from Mr. Hughes, Hercules, and Sheik Adnan Al-kahassie. Twist makes his comeback, but splashes the knees. Twist with an airplane spin into a Fallaway slam for three at 1:38 of Round 2.
- Ken Resnick continues to get the most screen time. He's here to tell us all about the Tag Team Championship Match between Tony Atlas & Koko B. Ware and Greg Valentine & Tommy Rich. The match went the scheduled 10-rounds. The two judges at ringside each had a 6-4 score, one for each team, meaning the in-ring referee had the final say... and Resnick brings in VIRGIL, who scored the match 9-1 in favor of Valentine and Rich. Resnick has footage of himself walking in on Virgil receiving a cash payoff from Rico Suave. I wonder if he followed him after the show to Olive Garden for some meat sauce linguine?
- Mick Karch apologies that we won't be seeing Tito Santana vs. Bob Orton. Maybe we'll get an explanation next week, as well as an update on Santana's condition. Next week! The debut of The Road Warriors, The Z-Man and Fidel Sierra will be in action, and a tag team Main Event of Chris Adams & Charlie Norris vs. Mr. Hughes & Hercules.
Final Thoughts: It's been years since I watched the majority of "Season 1", and I can see a few differences already. Instead of an endless parade of squash matches, there was more focus on developing actual storylines. They're pushing forward with Santana/Orton over the AWF Title, introduced the Road Warriors as threats to Valentine and Rich, as well as a fictitious angle shot with VIRGIL, and pushed a rivalry between Tony Atlas and Nails. The other difference is lower production values. Ringside is a little dank, and the lighting for some of the interviews was poor. The roster is mostly the same, with a few additions and subtractions, but most of the "new" faces are tired faces cast-off from WWE (Virgil, Mr. Fuji, Lord Alfred Hayes, among others).
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