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American Wrestling Federation: The Lost Episodes #4

by Scrooge McSuck

Bob Orton Jr.

What is my unhealthy obsession with the American Wrestling Federation? What else can I say about what the AWF was, other than it was a short-lived company that a money-mark pumped money into, hoping to become a player during an era where mainstream professional wrestling was struggling. Well, that was when the AWF first launched, way back in the Summer of 1994. At this point, we're in a broadcast period that I'm told is the late fall of 1996, and the game has changed. The WCW was red hot, ECW was an established alternative, and even Vince McMahon was FINALLY moving away from the cartoon characters and attempting to do more serious storylines. No one will ever know why Paul Alperstein decided to give it another try with the AWF considering the failures of running television and attempting to promote live events.

We're greeted by Killer Ken Resnick and Missy Hyatt, who talk about how last week's Main Event for the AWF Championship was still in progress and we'll resume with the action immediately. Well that's another episode I don't have in my archives, since the last episode I've been able to find a copy of had a Main Event of Bob Orton defeating Tito Santana for the Championship under dubious circumstances. Mick Karch and SUPERHEEL Lord Alfred Hayes are calling the action, unless otherwise noted.

AWF Championship Match:
Bob Orton Jr. (c) (w/ Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissey) vs. Tito Santana:

Sgt. Slaughter is at ringside, handcuffed to Adnan Al-Kaissey to prevent interference, so we can expect someone else to interfere. We're JOINED IN PROGRESS with the match in the 3rd Round. Just like their last meeting, Mr. Fuji (back in his Oddjob attire) makes his way to ringside while Orton appears to be in complete control of the action. I actually went back to watch the last match between the two, just in case it was some bullcrap like AWA when it came to recycling matches. The padding at ringside has a slogan that reads "Pro Wrestling The Way It Should Be." I hope Jim Cornette sued for ripping him off. Orton with a series of forearms across the throat. He winds up for a third but Santana punches him on his way down. Santana fires off a series of strikes and slams Orton face-first to the canvas, Orton begs him off but Santana shows no mercy, repeatedly ramming him into the turnbuckle. He goes to work on the leg, but the bell rings to end the 3rd round. Round #4: Orton stalls coming out of his corner to start the round, then buys more time by offering a handshake. Orton uses the referee as a distraction to land a sucker punch. They don't call him Boxing Bob Orton for nothing! Orton with boots to the back of the head, followed by an inverted atomic drop for two. Meanwhile, Mr. Hughes and "Maniac" Manny Fernandez make their way to ringside. Orton drops Santana throat-first across the top rope for a near-fall to finish the round.

Round #5: Orton teases using the stool while Mick Karch mentions how overbooked this is getting with FIVE people now wandering around ringside. Orton with knees across the chest, followed by a slingshot beneath the ropes. Orton comes off the TOP ROPE with the reverse splash (see: Vader Bomb) for a near-fall. Slaughter has words for the Sheik, probably blaming him for costing him the WWF Title at WrestleMania VII. Santana fights back with right hands. Orton cuts him off and attempts a piledriver, but Santana counters. He goes for the FLYING BURRITO (the name they are actually calling it) but ORton ducks and the referee takes the hit instead. Santana with a swinging neck breaker but there's no one to count. Orton rakes the eyes and stacks Santana up in the corner, using his feet on the ropes to steal the victory at 3:14 of Round 5. BUT WAIT! Jim Brunzell interrupts the celebratory speech to eject everyone that doesn't belong at ringside and orders the match restarted.

Round #6: Seems unfair to start the round with Santana still on the floor and referee Jesse Hernandez trying to count him out. Orton brings Santana in from the apron with a suplex. He tries to roll into a cover but Santana counters with a cradle and gets the three-count at 0:37 of Round #6 to regain the AWF Championship. Lord Alfred claims this was a conspiracy against Bob Orton. The ring floods with the babyfaces of the locker room, including Koko B. Ware, Steve Doll, and Konan 2000 among others. Perfectly fine action, though that finish seemed too out of nowhere all things considered.

Missy Hyatt is standing by with Ricco Suave, the manager of the AWF Tag Team Champions Greg Valentine and Tommy Rich. Hyatt wants to know who the next challengers are going to be. Suave suggests Sigfried and Roy, but Hyatt wants to know about the Road Warriors. The Champions are absent, relaxing on the yacht. Hyatt makes fun of Ricco's chest hair before throwing it back to ringside. I'll hold back any accusations about Suave to save myself a threatening email from someone pretending to be the guy in 2023.

Fidel Sierra (w/ Capitana Natasha) vs. Mike Morcello:

Karch and Alfred are still pushing a rivalry between the Cuban Assassin and Sgt. Slaughter. It's 1996 and we're STILL trying to push foreign menace storylines?! We cut to a commercial as Sierra makes his way to the ring, and when we return, he hits Morcello with a gourd buster, and Karch is screaming about how Sierra has been relentlessly assaulting his opponent during the break, and the referee has had enough of it and calls for the match to end before it even began! Sierra continues the assault, putting Morcello down with a sleeper. To add insult to injury, Natasha lays the Cuban flag across Morcello's body. The referee orders Sierra to revive his opponent, and Sierra obliges like it's 1982. Sierra couldn't be bothered to remove his entrance vest.

"Gentleman" Chris Adams is here to tell us how much he loves the AWF, the rounds system, and the fans.

"Gentleman" Chris Adams vs. Butch Long:

I can't say I recognize Butch Long, but the name comes up as a guy who frequently did enhancement work for the WWF and WCW in the early-mid 90's, so maybe it's the same guy. I didn't notice until now the "Pro Wrestling: The Way It Should Be" slogan on the ringside padding. Lockup into the corner and Adams gives a clean break. Long with a shove and Adams responds with a forearm. Adams with a side headlock takeover, and boy is the audio sweetening ridiculous. Mick Karch is shouting out the various stations carrying the AWF as Adams controls with a headlock. We cut to a pre-tape from "Blacktop" Bully and Big Mama. He has words for Sgt. Slaughter and Tito Santana, neither of whom featured in this match. Whip to the ropes and Adams with a shoulder block, followed by a hip toss and cross arm bar. Adams with a powerbomb for a near-fall. SERIOUSLY? Adams with a Super-Kick for three at 2:47 of Round 1. Please tell me Long wasn't trying to kick out of that, too.

The MVP vs. Billy The Kid:

This is, best to my knowledge, the first appearance of "The MVP" on the AWF tapings. WWF fans might remember the MVP, a.k.a. Abe "Knuckleball" Schwartz, played by Steve Lombardi (best known as the Brooklyn Brawler), but the MVP here is Dale Torberg, known best to WCW fans as "The Demon." Baseball fans might not know him as a player (his career ended prematurely due to injuries that caused depth perception injury), but he's held several positions in the majors as a strength and conditioning coach, notably with the World Series winning Florida Marlins (2003) and Chicago White Sox (2005). He's wearing a black and white color scheme, giving off White Sox vibes. Billy rolls under the arms of MVP to avoid locking up. MVP lands a boot to the midsection and sends Billy to the corner. Whip across the ring and MVP follows in with a clothesline. MVP with a choke across the rope as Karch tells a BS story about the legends at the Cauliflower Alley having glowing praise for the AWF. MVP comes off the ropes with an elbow drop. Billy tries fighting back, but MVP takes him down with a back body-drop. MVP with a scoop slam and he puts Billy out with a sleeper (called "Yerrr Out of Here!") at 3:06 of Round 1. Not the worst I've seen in the AWF. Odd they would hit the audio sweetening button after the bell instead of for the duration of the match.

We're so desperate to fill the hour, we replay the final minutes of Tito Santana vs. Bob Orton. I see the AWF is digging into the AWA playbook of recycling content.

NEXT WEEK: "The Sensational" Steve Doll! The Blacktop Bully with Big Mama! Sgt. Slaughter! In the Main Event, it'll be Chief Charlie Norris, Billy Two Eagles and Konan 2000 against The Super Destroyer and Boogaloo Brown's Texas Hangmen. (Spoilers: I don't have this episode)

Final Thoughts: Half the episode is dedicated to a Tito Santana/Bob Orton Championship Match (well, most of the match, at least) and I guess we should be thankful to get that. The rest of the show is the same formula of AWF TV, mid 80's squash matches presented as cutting edge in 1996. There doesn't seem to be much effort in developing more rivalries like the first season attempted, so everything feels empty. I have one more episode of Season 2 in the archives, the penultimate AWF episode to broadcast at 2 a.m. across the country (on all 3 stations carrying the show), so we'll take at least one last look at the AWF sometime in 2025.

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