AWA 1989: A Financial Savior Is (Badly) Needed

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the autumn wind

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Sep 19, 2022
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It's 1989 and the AWA is in a complete shambles.

It's hard to believe that just four short years ago this promotion was still one of pro wrestling's Big 3 in North America (along with the WWF and NWA).

Now the promotion is on life support and in dire need of a serious short-term or long-term cash infusion just to stay afloat for the forseeable future.

Attendance at live shows has dwindled downward so sharply in most cases that several house shows a month are having to be cancelled or moved to the local high school or community center.

AWA programming is now almost unwatchable. ESPN, the promotion's cable network carrier, has become indifferent to AWA shows to the point that they put the newest shows on whenever they feel like and don't bother to inform the viewing audience or those in the AWA.

The syndicated AWA program (All-Star Wrestling) is now on only a fraction of the stations it was just a few short years ago.

Recently, Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff and Tully Blanchard all appeared in the promotion. But these men, all major stars who could have helped breath new life into the AWA, stopped in only briefly before heading elsewhere.

Verne Gagne is at a crossroads. What does he do?

Should he:

1) Try to bring on a money man (or woman) to get much-needed cash and try to lure some big name talent to the promotion in an effort to make it a major respectable promotion once again?

2) Sell the promotion outright to an interested party (if there is one) and let new blood run the whole show.


3) Just shut the promotion down for good.

Verne, his son Greg and Verne's closest associate for decades, Wally Karbo, have different opinions on what should be done.

But the final decision lies with one man...and that's Verne Gagne.

Verne's known to be very stubborn and set in his ways when it comes to the business. What will he decide to do?

The answer could leave many long-time promoters, wrestlers and fans stunned.


the autumn wind

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Sep 19, 2022
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Verne Gagne and son Greg were sitting in the den of Verne's upscale home in the affluent Minneapolis suburb of Lake Minnetonka.

They had just finished eating dinner with members of the family on a cold early spring evening and the two had gone into the den to watch some TV and talk about the future of the AWA.

The once legendary, vibrant promotion was now tanking at an alarming rate.

Verne: Son, I keep racking my brain to see if I can come up with any ideas to turn our fortunes around. But I can't think of anything; can't think of something that would spark a serious rebound in business. What are your thoughts? Any ideas on what we could to right the ship?

Greg: You know my thoughts on the matter, dad.

Verne: I know. I know what you want to do. You think we should sell the promotion.

Greg: That's right. There might be someone out there who would buy it.

Verne took a drink of his iced tea.

Verne: Can't you be a team player with your old man here, Greg? I mean, I built the AWA from the ground up. I put a lot of hard work into making the AWA the success it was.

Greg: Was, dad. It 'was' a success. Now it's a promotion in freefall.

We have virtually no big name talent left. The fans are leaving in droves. We draw crowds of barely around a thousand at the St. Paul Civic Center these days. The WWF and NWA are kicking our tails around the block and then some.

We don't have the money, dad.

Verne: Maybe we could look at trying to bring on a money man. A cash infusion would help...

Greg: It would help.

But we don't just need money. We need people who can bring fresh ideas to the table so we can thrive once again. And that starts at the top.

Dad, you know I love you. Your vision launched the AWA and made it what it once was....

Verne: And can be again.

Greg: The promotion needs new blood who is in tune with where this business is headed now and in the future.

Verne: Are you saying my ideas are outdated?

Greg: As hard as it is for me to say, dad, you have not done a good job keeping up with the times...

With that, Verne got up and walked out of the room. Greg could hear his father walking upstairs and then heard a loud SLAM! as Verne angrily shut his bedroom door.

Greg sat alone in the den. A look of worry plastered on his face. He took a gulp of his tea and wondered where all this was headed.

the autumn wind

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It's just after 7am on a crisp, cold early spring morning and Greg Gagne is sitting in a booth at a St. Paul Denny's sipping his coffee.

A man walks into the restaurant. He's wearing a heavy coat. Greg sees him and waves him over.

The man removes his gloves while walking to the table. He takes off his heavy coat and places it on the seat next to him as he slides into the booth across the table from Greg.

The man's name is Al Derusha. He's the producer of all AWA TV programming.

Greg: Morning, Al. Thanks for coming.

Al: What's this about, Greg? You made it sound awful urgent on the phone last night. Couldn't we just talk at the office?

Greg: That wouldn't be a good idea right now since dad will be there.

Al: Why?

The waitress walks over to the table.

Waitress: Morning, gents. What can I get you?

Greg: I'll have the Grand Slam with my eggs over easy.

Waitress: And you, sir?

Greg: Breakfast is on me, Al.

Al: I'll have the same but with my eggs scrambled.

Waitress starts to walk away.

Al: Oh! And a large orange juice.

Waitress stops, writes it down and then walks off.

Greg: Last night, dad and I had a strong disagreement about what should be done with the promotion.

Al: Again?

Greg: Yep. I made the mistake of telling dad the truth and telling him that his ideas regarding our business were outdated and he got up and left the room and I never saw him again last night. Waited in his den for two hours and he never came back down so I finally went home.

Haven't talked with him since.

Al: I'm sure you brought up selling the promotion again, lock, stock and barrel.

Greg: I did. We need new blood running the show. They need to be younger and more in tune with the way this business is moving now. It's not 1979 anymore.

Al (sighs): I know, Greg. You don't need to tell me.

The waitress brings Al his OJ.

Al: Thank you.

The waitress nods and heads off.

Greg: So you agree with me and think we should sell?

Al takes a sip of his juice.

Al: Greg, your dad took a chance on me when he hired me as a referee. He then took a bigger risk when he and members of the production crew showed me the ropes behind the camera and he made me the producer of his television. I'm very loyal to Verne, you know.

Greg: I know that. And don't think I don't appreciate it. But there comes time for change and we need it soon or there will be nothing left of the AWA but memories.

Al: Verne's mentioned trying to find a financial benefactor to give the promotion much needed capital.

Greg: He seems to think that's all we need. But it's not. We need fresh ideas brought to the table. Ideas that will make the fans sit up and take notice and start watching the AWA on TV and coming out by the thousands to our house shows again. Dad's set in his ways and he ain't gonna change and things are dying because of his mindset.

The waitress brought the pair their breakfast.

Greg: Thank you.

Waitress: You're welcome. Will there be anything else, gents?

Greg politely waved her off.

Greg: That's all.

Al dived into his breakfast before the waitress was gone form the table.

Greg sipped his coffee and then started eating his breakfast.

The two stopped talking for a few minutes to chow down.

Greg: How is it?

Al (looking up over his glasses): It's Denny's.

Greg laughed.

Greg: I get it.

After eating some more, Al spoke.

Al: I tend to lean in your direction on this matter, Greg. Bringing in a money man would help procure talent and may even improve some of our production values. But with the same tired old thinking comes the same tired ideas no matter who's on your roster.

I believe Verne is tired. He's gone as far as he can. He's poured his heart and soul into the AWA. But there comes a time to step down or at least step back and let some new people have a crack at running things. We're at that point now. You're just wasting money without new ideas that are

Greg wiped off his mouth and took a quick drink of coffee.

Greg: I'm glad to know someone's on my side on this. This is why I wanted to have this meeting several miles away from the office. If dad were around, we might both be afraid to talk openly like this to one another about this matter.

Al finished his last bites of food.

Al: I'm headed to the office. You coming now?

Greg: I'll be in later this morning.

Al: OK.

Al slid out of the booth and stood up and grabbed his jacket. As he put it on, Greg finished off his meal and was slowly finishing off his cup of coffee.

Al waved to Greg and started to turn and walk away but then stopped and turned back around. Al put his hands on the table and leaned in to say something to Greg.

Al (softly): Let's just keep this between you and me for now, huh? We'll discuss this more at a later time.

Greg nodded in agreement.

Greg: That's a good idea. And let's keep these conversations out of the office for the time being.

Al: I agree. See you around, kid.

Greg: See you, Al.

Al turned and walked out of the restaurant as Greg gestured to the waitress.

Greg: Another cup.

Waitress: Coming right up.

Greg turned and looked out the picture window at the cold St. Paul morning. His mind was on one thing: selling the AWA before it completely sunk into oblivion.


the autumn wind

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It had been a week since Verne Gagne got angry at his son Greg for calling his ideas regarding the wrestling business 'outdated'.

The two had barely spoken to one another since, and then only on professional terms at the office.

Verne was sitting alone in his office. He took a long drag off a cigarette and placed it back on the ash tray.

He was in deep thought when the phone rang. Verne picked it up after two rings.

Verne: Hello.

Brief pause as Verne listened to the person on the other end of the phone.

Verne: Let me grab a pen. Go ahead, give me those houses for Bismarck and Fargo.

Verne listened intently as he started to write something down on a piece of paper.

Verne: Uh-huh.

That's all that showed.

Verne started getting depressed as he listened to more from the person on the other end of the phone.

Verne: It's hard to believe those used to be two great towns for us.

Verne listened to the person a little more.

Verne: You got any ideas how to get this thing headed back in the right direction?

Verne listened.

Verne (chuckled): Buy the WWF and call it the AWA. I see.

Alright. I'll talk to you later.

Verne listened for a moment.

Verne: OK. Bye.

Verne hung up the phone and sat with his elbows on his desk and placed his hands upon his head. He shook his head 'no' and just sat there like that for a couple of minutes.

Verne then picked up the phone and dialed.

Verne: Wally, could you come to my office right now.

Verne listened to Wally briefly and then hung up the phone.

About a minute later there was a knock on Verne's office door.

Verne: Come in, Wally.

Wally Karbo, Verne's right-hand man since the creation of the AWA in 1960, walked in and sat in a chair across from Verne at his desk.

Verne took one last drag on his cancer stick and then put it out.

Wally: What's going on, chief?

Verne tossed the piece of paper he'd just written on a few minutes ago across the desk to Wally.

Wally looked at if for a brief moment.

Wally (whistled): It's not surprising, Verne. We know the promotion's in bad shape. These numbers only solidify that fact.

Verne: We used to pack the arenas in Bismarck and Fargo. Now look. 488 in Fargo and 216 in Bismarck. What was the main we booked in those two cities again?

Wally scratches his chin.

Wally: It was Larry Zbysko defending the World Title against Ken Patera. Both nights went to a double count out finish.

Verne: Those guys are two big names and it's a good main. Why aren't the fans interested in seeing them clash?

Wally: They may be big names, Verne, but they're not big enough names.

Larry and Ken would not be headlining in today's WWF or NWA. They'd be near the top but not at the top.
They're not looked at as top tier guys in the eyes of the fans anymore so they just aren't buying it. I hate to say that. We need some bigger names.

Verne: Do you think I should put the World Title on Sgt. Slaughter?

He's your biggest name. But it's hard to tell how much interest he'd spark in terms of ticket sales if he becomes World Champion. Being here in the AWA, it's like he's been somewhat forgotten because of how far we lag behind Vince and Turner*.

Verne: The money's not there to acquire big names. It takes time to train and build up wrestlers so that the fans will invest in them. Wally, what's your take on all this?

Wally: Verne, of all the choices you have at your discretion, I think you should close it down.

Verne: You think so?

Wally: The AWA was your creation. You made it the great success that it was...

Verne: And can be again.

Wally: Turning things around where they stand right now, I'd say that's a long-shot at best.
You've made millions. You've got a great home and family. You and Greg will reconcile because your bond is too strong. The AWA will be your lasting legacy and you will be remembered for all the good things associated with it much more than its demise. Enjoy the rest of your life without this anvil hanging over your head. Shut it down.

Verne leaned forward in his chair, placed his elbows on the desk and rubbed his hands together.

Verne: I'm torn. Closing up shop is an option. But I have this nagging thought in the back of my mind that if I don't make one last-ditch effort to see if I can save the company then I'll drive myself crazy wondering what if.
Wally: It's up to you, Verne. But if I were in your shoes I'd remember the great run I had and let it go.

Verne reached over and pulled a cigarette out of the pack, lit it, drew in a long drag off of it and slowly exhaled as he and Wally sat quietly in Mr. AWA's office.


(* Now owned by Turner Broadcasting.)

the autumn wind

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It had been 12 days since Verne Gagne and his son Greg had their falling out at Verne's home when Greg suggested his father's ideas regarding pro wrestling in 1989 were outdated.

The two had only spoken to each other at the AWA offices and it was only on business-related matters.

One early April morning, Greg pulled into the parking lot of the AWA headquarters. As Greg got his stuff together in his car, Verne pulled into the parking lot. Verne parked his car as Greg started to get out of his.

Verne quickly exited his vehicle and called out to his son.

Verne: Greg!

Greg looked over.

Verne: Can we talk in my office?

Greg nodded in the affirmative.

Greg: Sure. Just give me a minute to put this stuff on my desk.

Verne: Alright.

Verne walked into the offices with Greg several steps behind. Verne made a goodwill gesture by holding the door open for Greg.

Greg: Thanks, dad.

Verne headed to his office and Greg his to put his stuff on his desk.

Greg started to head down the hall but first stopped off in the break room to grab a cup of coffee.

Greg yelled down the hall.

Greg: Hey, dad!

Verne yelled back.

Verne: Yeah!

Greg: Want some coffee?!

Verne: Not right now! Thanks, anyway!

Greg made his coffee and briskly walked down the hall and into his dad's office.

Verne: Close the door, would ya?

Greg closed the door and took a seat across from his father at his dad's desk.

Greg: Look. I know we haven't...

Verne waved his hand.

Verne: I'm sorry for getting angry at you that night at home. It's hard to face getting older and things changing so rapidly around you. It just hurt hearing that my own son thought my ideas were outdated.

Greg: I'm sorry for saying it, dad. I'm sorry it ever came out of my mouth. Let's just bury the hatchet, huh?

Verne: Agreed.

There was something I wanted to talk about with you.

Greg: What's that?

Verne: I talked with Wally (Karbo) a few days ago and he thinks I should just shut down the company. Have to admit there are times I've wondered if that's the way to go myself.

Greg: Mmm-hmm...

Verne: But there's also a part of me that would like to try and find an investor to give us a much need cash boost.

As you know, it's hard to let go of something you built. I would love to give it one last try to turn things around.

Greg: Dad, we've had this discussion before.

Verne: You think I should sell the company outright and bring in new people with different ideas.

Greg: That's right.

Verne: So, we have three options on the table and different opinions as to what we should do.

I was thinking that you, Wally and I could have a meeting one day soon and maybe come to a consensus on what ought to be done.

Greg: That sounds good to me, dad. And I would like to bring one more person into this meeting.

Verne: Who?

Greg: I'll just bring him and let him speak for himself.

Verne: You can't tell your old man who it is?

Greg: I don't feel comfortable doing that.

Verne: It's not that smarmy-ass guy from sales Eric Bischoff, is it?

Greg: I'd rather not say.

Verne: Gosh, Greg. Please tell me it's not that guy.

Greg: Just have to wait and see.

Anyway, I'm glad we could make up and get past our disagreement from a couple of weeks ago.

Verne: Me too, son. Me too.

Greg: I got some work waiting for me on my desk so I'm gonna take care of that right now.

Verne: Talk with you later.

Greg: Yeah.

Greg left the office and closed the door behind him.

Verne sat brooding at his desk wondering who this mystery man was Greg was bringing with him to this important meeting.

Verne (shaking his head): There's no way it's Bischoff. It can't be.


the autumn wind

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Sep 19, 2022
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It's mid-April and the weather is slowly getting nicer in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

At the AWA headquarters in St. Louis Park, MN, the big meeting between Verne Gagne, his son Greg, Wally Karbo and a fourth unnamed party is just a few days away. The meeting will be about discussing the fate of the promotion.

Verne Gagne is still puzzled why Greg won't tell him who this fourth meeting attendee is.

Verne quickly sucks down a smoke at his desk and then gets on the intercom and tells his secretary to send Eric Bischoff to his office.

Verne has a look of deep thought on his face as he awaits the arrival of the young Bischoff.

A couple of minutes later there's a knock on Verne's office door.

Verne: Come in.

In walks Eric Bischoff. Bischoff is in a suit and tie. Bischoff is 33 years old, intelligent and highly driven. Verne's heard from people in the office that young Bischoff has some ideas he thinks could help the company.

Verne has no respect for the salesman. Bischoff's never been in the business and how dare he come into the offices of the established AWA, a promotion built by true wrestling minds, and just think he can throw around ideas on how to turn around the fates of the sinking company.

Bischoff opened the door and stepped in.

Eric: You wanted to see me, sir?

Gagne: Come in and have a seat.

Bischoff started to walk towards Verne's desk when Verne stopped him.

Verne: Eric.

Verne pointed.

Verne: The door. Close the door.

Eric: Oh! Sorry.

Bischoff went over and closed the door and came over and sat down at Verne's desk across from Mr. AWA.

Eric: Sir, am I being let go or something?

Verne: Let go? Hahaha. No, son, you're not being let go. I just wanted to talk to you for a moment.

Bischoff breathed a sigh of relief.

Eric: Thank you. I need this job.

Verne: I'm gonna be blunt.

Eric, have you been invited to a meeting in a few days?

Eric: What meeting?

Verne: So, you haven't been invited to a private meeting?

Eric: I haven't been invited to any meetings. I know we have some occ...

Verne: Greg didn't ask you to come a specific meeting?

Greg hasn't asked me to come to any meetings.

Verne: You're sure now?

Eric: I can tell you with 100% certainty that I have not been invited to any meetings by your son or anyone else.

Verne: Think real hard. No one has asked you to attend a very important, private meeting in a few days?

Bischoff was nervous.

Eric (stammered): I...I swear to you, as God is my witness, I have not been invited to any private meetings.

Verne leaned forward in his chair and had an intensity in his eyes.

Verne: I hear you've been talking to some of the staff here and telling them some of your ideas on how you think we could save the company.

Eric: I've never said anything about saving the company. But I certainly want it to be around for a long time to come.

I just threw around some ideas that were floating around in my head. Just water cooler talk. Nothing more.

Verne relaxed a bit.

Verne: Well, Eric, everyone wants to be an armchair booker. Take a number and get in line because you're just another one of them.

What's your position here?

Eric: I'm a salesman, sir.

Verne: That's right. A salesman. Your job is to sell ad time and try and get our syndicated program on new stations. That's your job, correct?

Eric: Yes it is.

Verne: Then you stick to what you do best, sales, and we on the wrestling side of things will handle the wrestling. Am I clear?

Eric: Yes, sir.

Verne: Good. Then we'll have no more talk from guys like you about how the wrestling side of things should be run. Understood?

Loud and clear.

Verne: That's good to hear.

Now, go back and sell, sell, sell the AWA.

Bischoff nodded in the affirmative and got up and quietly exited Verne's office and closed the door behind him.

Verne sat back in his chair and felt satisfied.

Bischoff then suddenly re-opened the door a crack and stuck his head in. Verne wasn't happy.

Verne (agitated): Didn't I tell you to go back and...

Eric: Team Challenge Series.

Verne: The what?

Eric: Team Challenge Series. It's an idea I've come up with, sir. Just give me a few minutes of your time to explain it.

Verne: The Team Chall... No! Not having it! Just go sell!

Eric: But...

Verne: No buts! Just go, Eric! Now!

Bischoff quickly closed the door and fled the scene.

Verne laughed and shook his head in disbelief.

Verne: The Team Challenge Series.

Verne chuckled.

Verne: What is a Team Challenge Series?

Verne suddenly went into deep thought.

Verne: Team...Challenge...Series. The concept? Hmmm...

Maybe I should hear more about this idea before making up my mind.



the autumn wind

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Verne Gagne called both Wally Karbo and son Greg Gagne into his office at the AWA HQ.

Wally arrived first. The door was open.

Wally: Cadet Karbo reporting for duty.

Wally gave a mock salute. Verne laughed.

Verne: Have a seat, Wally.

Wally came in and sat in a chair across the desk from Verne.

Greg then showed up.

Greg: Knock, knock.

Verne: Come on in, son.

Greg walked in and sat down in a chair next to Karbo.

Verne: I called you guys in here to let you know that we'll be having our big meeting in two days. Come ready to pitch your ideas as to what we should do with the company.

Greg, I talked to Eric Bischoff the other day and he swears he's not the fourth man coming to the meeting. I'm looking you in the eye, son. Was Bischoff telling me the truth?

Greg: Dad, you know another person's coming. But I can guarantee you it's not Eric Bischoff.

Verne: He told me that he has an idea for something called the Team Challenge Series. Do either of you know what it is?

Wally: Never heard of it.

Greg: Heard mention of it but that's about it.

Verne leaned forward, placed his elbows on the desk and rubbed his hands together.

Verne: Hmmm...

Do you know any details about it?

Greg: Nothing. But it sounds like it could be an intriguing concept.

Verne: I was thinking that myself.

Wally: Maybe we could invite him to the meeting and have him explain it to us. It doesn't hurt to listen.

Verne: And he isn't the fourth man you mentioned the other day, Greg?

Greg: A thousand times no. Bischoff is not who I was speaking of.

Verne sat contemplating the situation.

Verne: Wally, tell Bischoff he's coming to our meeting in two days and that he needs to explain this...Team Challenge Series.

Wally: OK, boss. Will do.

Greg: So, five of us will be there now.

Verne: Looks that way.

Greg: Looks like the road to resolving the future of the AWA has begun.

Verne and Wally nodded in agreement.


the autumn wind

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It's 10 am in St. Louis Park, MN.

At the AWA headquarters four men are sitting around a table in the conference room.

Those men are: Verne Gagne, Greg Gagne, Wally Karbo and Eric Bischoff.

The mystery person Greg has promised would arrive has yet to make their appearance.

Verne: Where is this person you promised was going to be here, Greg?

Greg: They got stuck in traffic but he'll be here. They're just a little behind schedule.

Verne: We don't have all day and this meeting is the most important one we've ever had. The fate of the AWA hangs in the balance here.

Wally: Maybe we should use that as an angle.

Verne: What?

Wally: The fate of the AWA hanging in the balance. Fans would tune in every week to see if we're still on the air...

Greg: Maybe we could have someone like Bischoff here play an evil TV exec threatening to pull the plug on the TV show every week.

Eric: Guys...

Wally (excitedly): We'll put him in a black cape and top hat! He'll be like Snidely Whiplash!

Verne was getting agitated.

Greg: Maybe we could have Wayne Bloom or Mike Enos play Dudley Doright and come in and save the day!

Greg and Wally were laughing out loud.

Verne (boiling): Alright! That's enough! Cut the crap you two! This is serious!

Greg and Wally toned down their revelry.

Greg: Sorry, dad. Just trying to lighten the mood a little.

Verne: Well... This is no laughing matter. We could be closing our doors soon.


Eric: Yes, sir.

Verne: Do you have your presentation for this Team Challenge Series idea ready to go?

Eric: I do.

Verne: Good. We'll start with that when the person Greg invited to the meeting arrives if they ever get here.

Greg: They'll be here.

Verne looked at his watch.

Verne: It's 10 after 10. Meeting was supposed to start at 10. I'll give them 20 more minutes to arrive and if they aren't here then we'll just have to start without them.

Greg: If they arrive after the meeting starts then I'll fill them in on what they missed.

Verne: How about some food and drink?

Wally: Sounds good to me.

Eric: Fine.

Greg: OK.

Verne picked up the phone at the head of the conference table where he was sitting and dialed.

Verne: Jessica, could you bring us some coffee and pastries.

Verne listened briefly.

Verne: OK. Thank you.

Eric was poring over his presentation.

Verne: Everything OK, Eric?

Eric: Yes, sir. Just making sure I have everything in order for the presentation.

Verne: That's good. Remember, you only get one shot at this. Don't blow it.

Eric: Understood.

There was a knock on the door.

Verne: Come in.

Verne's secretary Jessica opened the door and came into the conference room pushing a cart.

Jessica: Good morning all.

Verne, Greg, Wally and Eric all said 'Good morning' in unison.

Jessica wheeled the cart over and off-loaded the platter of pastries and coffee onto the table. She then started placing paper cups, sugar, cream, napkins and plasticware on the table.

Verne: Is Tamra home?

Jessica didn't hear Verne's question as she was busy off-loading.

Verne: Jessica.

Jessica stopped what she was doing.

Jessica: Huh?

Verne: Is Tamra home?

Jessica: Oh! Yes, she is. Tamra's back from her trip. You should see this mask she bought. Really creepy.

Verne: That's good.

Jessica finished off-loading.

Jessica: Will there be anything else?

Verne: That's all, Jessica. Thank you.

Jessica wheeled the cart out of the conference room and shut the door behind her.

The guys ate and drank coffee during a few minutes of uneasy silence.

Verne again looked at his watch.

Verne: Greg, it looks like your invitee is not going to make it by the designated time unless they arrive in the next few minutes.

Greg: They're coming. Don't worry about it. They would not miss this.

Verne: Well, I'm about to call this mee...

There was a knock on the door and everything seemed to stop dead in its tracks.

Verne looked up at the door.

Verne: Come in.

The door opened slowly and it was...


the autumn wind

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The door to the conference room opened and a man walked into the room.

Verne: Al?!

It was AWA TV producer Al Derusha.

Verne: What are you do... Greg, was Al the man you refused to tell me was coming to the meeting?

Greg: It was, dad.

Al sat down next to Greg.

Verne: What does Al have to do with this matter? Al, get back to putting together the TV's.

Al: I need to be here, Verne.

Verne: Why?

Al and Greg looked at one another.

Greg: It'll all be explained later. Maybe we should get on with the meeting.

Verne shook his head in disbelief.

Verne: Let's get started.

Eric, go ahead and deliver your presentation.

Bischoff stood up from his seat.

Eric: Thank you for inviting me to this meeting.

As you know, I've come up with an idea called the Team Challenge Series. I think after reading it and tweaking it here and there you all will, hopefully, find it interesting.

Here is the Team Challenge Series concept:

There will be three teams competing for a million dollar first prize; $100,000 second prize and $50,000 third prize.

There will be a draft, similar to the NFL draft, to stock the teams.

The teams will be comprised of both faces and heels to make things more interesting.

Some of the matches will be stan...

Verne: Hold on. Who told you what faces and heels mean?

Eric: Uhhhhhhhhhh...

Greg: I told him.

Verne: That's a violation of kayfabe, son. Some money will be coming out of your next check.

Greg: Got it.

Eric nodded in appreciation towards Greg and Greg nodded back.

Verne: Continue.

Eric: Where were we? Oh!

Teams a mixture of faces and heels.

There will be both stipulation matches and regular matches.

Teams will earn different levels of points. A win by pinfall or submission will garner the highest amount of points. A win by disqualification or countout will net fewer points.

Verne: What about for a double countout or double DQ?

Eric: Both teams will get a point apiece in that case.

Verne: You've really thought this out, Eric.

Eric: Thank you, sir.

Verne: Have you got an exit strategy for how to wrap this Team Challenge Series all up?

Eric: Well...not exactly.


I thought about it and I think we just need to let things play out over a period of time and then we can look at how to end it and when to wrap it up. We would just need to book on the fly.

Book on the fly? Greg, another kayfabe violation. The fine just got a little bigger.

Greg shrugged.

Greg: Well.

Verne: Eric, the idea, I must admit, is interesting. But you need to come up with a definitive end to the program. This concept could only run for so long before the fans tired of it.

Eric: It would end in a reasonable amount of time.

Verne sat back and contemplated the matter for a moment.

Verne: OK. Work on your idea some more. And try to come up with a time frame for the whole thing from start to finish. Lay out a tentative match plan with the match-ups and possible finishes. Also, give me a rough idea of who you think should be on the respective teams.

Sound good?

Eric: It does. I will come back with a more detailed plan.

Verne: When?

Eric: Er... A few weeks.

Verne: Have a detailed plan on my desk two weeks from today.

Eric (smiling): Yes, sir.

Eric sat back down.

Verne: Eric.

Eric was all smiles as he turned and looked at Verne.

Verne: You can go now. Thank you for your presentation.

Eric: Oh! Thank you for your time.

Verne: You're welcome.

Go back to your sales job and get us some new advertisers.

Eric quickly picked up his papers, nodded at the group and left the room and closed the door behind him.

Verne: Now, onto the real business at hand.



the autumn wind

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THE MEETING (The Final Chapter)

Before we get into what to do with the AWA, I did want to bring up something else I was thinking about.

Al: What is it?

Verne: We still do TV tapings at the Showboat in Las Vegas. We've never had the World Title change hands there.

We still draw pretty well in Vegas for those tapings. It's one of our two or three best cities right now.

Wally: What did you have in mind?

Greg: Who are you looking to put the belt on?

Verne: I'm gonna keep who I'm putting the belt on a secret until we get to Vegas for the next tapings.

I have an angle worked out and this will take place over three shows.

Larry's already advertised to defend the title in Vegas against Ken Patera.

We'll announce that Patera was injured a few nights earlier in a match and can't compete.

Then we'll announce we're having a Battle Royal on that show and the winner faces Zbysko for the title in two weeks.

In the middle of the tapings, we'll have interviews with both champion and challenger to hype the match that will air the following week.

Wally: Of course it will all be taped that evening in Vegas.

Verne: That's right. We'll save the World Title match for the last match of the night to keep the fans around as many of them have a tendency to walk out during our lengthy TV's there.

Greg: Why not just have Patera beat Zbysko for the title that night. Why the angle?

Verne: Because I have something else in mind. Something that I hope will spark an uptick in attendance and interest in the AWA.

Al: It sounds like it's worth a shot.

Greg: I agree.

Wally: As long as you don't put the belt on Greg.

Greg glared over at Wally.

Greg: Don't you have a filling station to run in Mayberry, Wally?

Wally: Hahaha!

Verne: Alright. I think we're gonna run with it.

Wally: Have you told Larry and the next champ about it?

Verne: Nothing's revealed until Vegas.

Wally: OK.

Verne: Now, on with the meeting.

Let's go around the table and see what each of you thinks we should do. We'll start with Wally.

Wally: Said it before, Verne, the AWA was your creation from the ground up. I think you should close the doors and let it be your legacy good, bad or ugly.

Verne: Greg, I already know your take but say it anyway.

Greg: I think we should look to sell the promotion and let new blood run it and continue your legacy, dad. I believe the AWA can be salvaged but it needs changes starting at the top.

Verne: Al, you can finally tell us why you're here and what you think we should do.

Al: Verne, we've been friends for a long time now. You've been a fantastic boss. And I'm loyal and thankful to you for all you've done for me over the years.

But I think it's time to sell and move on and let someone else deal with it.

Verne: You agree with Greg then?

Al: Yes.

Greg: Dad, we've been having private meetings at Denny's the last few weeks.

Al: Over Grand Slams.

Wally: Oh! I love their pancakes. Light butter and heavy syrup. Yum! Yum!

Al: I really enjoy their...

Verne (exasperated): We're having a meeting to discuss our futures and all you can discuss is pancakes?! Jeez!

Why the need to meet in secret?

Greg: I contacted Al about this matter and we agreed that we wouldn't discuss things with you until we felt the time was right.

Verne: I'm a little shocked, Al. My door was always open to you.

Al: I'm sorry I had to go behind your back, Verne. But realistically, if the AWA is to survive, it needs new people running it with fresh ideas. We've had a really good run. But all good things come to an end. And it seems like the writing is on the wall for us. You, me, Wally, we've had our run and now it's time to step down with class and dignity.

Wally: Class? Now there's a word I've never heard associated with the wrestling business.

Verne just stared at Wally for a moment and then shook his head in disbelief.

Verne: Well, Al, I think I might have one more good run as promoter and booker. I would like to see us reach out to some of the money people we know and see if they'd be interested in financially backing us.

Greg: What would be in it for them?

Verne: Money.

Al: How could we pay them back plus profit if this thing keeps hemorrhaging money?

Verne: It would take time.

Greg: Dad, we need to be realistic. A turnaround is going to take time. And when I say time I'm talking about, at minimum, two to three years.

Al: You've worked hard, Verne. You've been in this business for over 40 years now. You're in your 60's. Step aside and smell the flowers and enjoy the golden years of your life.

Verne looked down at the table while twirling a pen around in his fingers.

Verne (sad): I love to work. I love what I do. This is not an easy decision.

Al: There's no guarantee of finding a money man willing to risk the investment needed to try and save the AWA. The financial risk factor is very high here.

Verne: The same goes for someone who would buy the company.

Greg: We know. But if someone's willing to shoulder the entire burden, then the entire responsibility falls on them.

Dad, you're battling to save your home on Lake Minnetonka. New talent takes lots of time to learn the ins and outs of this business. You can't train guys fast enough to replenish our diminishing ranks.

And there's one more thing.

Verne: What is it?

Greg looked over at Al Derusha.

Al: Verne, have you talked with anyone about investing in the AWA?

Verne: Not yet. Why?

Al: Greg and I have been putting out feelers to see if there might be anyone interested in buying the company.

Greg: And there might be a couple of interested parties out there nearly ready to strike a deal, dad.

Verne: You went behind my back and offered up the AWA for sale?! Nothing's been decided yet and you do this to me?!

Al! Of all people! Would you like to stick the knife in deeper?!

Al (calmly): We knew you'd be upset when we told you what we were up to. But it doesn't hurt to cover your bases in a case like this.

Verne placed his head in his hands and sat like that for a moment. The room was silent.

Finally, Verne looked back up.

Wally (softly): Shut it down, Verne. End the headache of dealing with it.

Verne (calmly): The Team Challenge Series idea from Bischoff. Do you think that could help?

Greg: Not unless we get more established talent. We use the roster we have now and it won't make a bit of difference.

Al: You're gonna have a to make a decision, Verne.

Verne (softly): I know. I know.

There are three ways we could go here.

Verne paused in deep thought.

Verne: I'm going to talk to some old friends and see about financing.

But, Greg and Al, as much as it pains me to do this, you keep looking for a potential buyer. Keep me updated on the process.


Wally: Yes.

Verne: Sometimes you're a real idiot. But I love you like a brother.

Wally chuckled.

Wally: Feeling's mutual, ol' pal.

Verne: Alright. This meeting is over. Right now we'll concentrate on the Vegas tapings and the World Championship.


the autumn wind

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It's the day of the monthly marathon AWA on ESPN TV tapings that take place at the Showboat Sports Pavilion...

Larry Whistler, better known to fans as Larry Zbysko, is sitting on the edge of the bed in his hotel room sipping a Diet Coke, watching TV and awaiting the arrival of his guest.

Zbysko received a phone call from Verne Gagne. Gagne told Zbysko he needed to have a private conversation with him.

About 20 minutes after the call there's a knock on Zbysko's door.

Zbysko opened the door and let in his boss.

Larry: Hey, Verne.

Verne: Larry.

Zbysko gestured to the bed. Verne sat down on the edge of the bed and Zbysko sat down beside him.

Verne: Larry, I think the time has come to shake things up a bit in the AWA. So, I've decided that tonight you're dropping the belt.

Zbysko: I'm dropping it to Patera. OK.

Verne: Uh, no. Change in plans.

We're going to announce that Patera was injured at a house show a few days ago and cannot face you for the championship.

We'll announce a Battle Royal with the winner getting the shot at the belt.

Zbysko: Who am I dropping it to?

Verne: Sgt. Slaughter.

He'll win the Battle Royal at tonight's first show taping.

At the second show taping, you and he will do promos to set up the title match. It's going to be the last match that goes on because we want the fans to stick around since some have a tendency to leave while the taping is going on and those empty seats don't look good on TV.

Are we good?

Zbysko: I'm fine with it. What I don't get is why not just have me drop the belt to Patera?

Verne: I chose Sarge because I think it's time to stop teasing the fans and actually putting the World Title on him and I'm hoping he can spark an uptick in business as champion.

Zbysko: Is he here yet?

Verne: Not yet. Robert (Warren) is picking him up from the airport around 4 o'clock.

Zbysko: Well, let's give 'em a show.

Verne patted Zbysko on the back.

Verne: Sometimes a guy doesn't take it too well when you tell him he's losing his championship. You took it in stride and I appreciate that.

Larry: Just a piece of business in The Business.

I do have a question, though?

Verne: What is it?

Zbysko: Word is the promotion could be sold. Is that true?

Verne: Just between you and me, yes, the promotion could be sold or close its doors at some point in the near future if things don't start turning around. Hence, putting the title on Slaughter.

The two men stood up.

Zbysko: Good luck, boss.

Verne: Thanks, Larry. And thank you for putting Sarge over tonight.

Zbysko: No problem.

The men shook hands and Verne let himself out of the room as Zbysko went back to watching TV and drinking his soda.



(Just kidding about the Crazy Horse part...maybe!)

the autumn wind

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Robert Remus, better known to fans as the iconic Sgt. Slaughter, had just walked into his hotel room at the Showboat and put his travel bag down when the room phone rang.

Slaughter let out a deep breath and went over and answered the phone.

Sarge: Hello.

Brief pause.

Sarge: Yes, Verne.

Brief pause.

Sarge: OK. I'll see you in a minute.

Brief pause and Sarge hung up the phone.

Less than five minutes later, Verne came knocking. Sarge opened the door and let Verne in.

Verne: How was your flight, Sarge?

Sarge: It was alright. Little bit of a stiff back from being in one of those cramped coach seats but I'll be OK. What did you need to talk to me about?

Verne: There's been a change in plans at the tapings tonight.

Larry was scheduled to defend the title against Ken Patera.

But instead, we're going with the worked backstory that Ken was injured in a match a few nights ago and can't compete tonight.

We're going to have a Battle Royal to decide who faces Larry for the belt. You're going to win the Battle Royal and then you're going to win the World Championship.

Sarge: I like the sound of that. What brought about the change?

Verne: You're the top guy on our roster. I decided to put the belt on you in the hopes that it can spark an uptick in business and overall interest in the AWA.

Sarge: Are you bringing in any new heels for me to face when I'm the champion?

Verne: I'm working on it. Our budget is very tight right now since business is down.

Since I'm hoping to keep the belt on you for a long run, I'm gonna have to get creative with the roster we have.

Sarge: Does Larry know about this?

Verne: Told him about it two hours ago and he has no problem with it.

You've been a huge star for years, Sarge. But now is your time to be the top guy and run with the ball.

Sarge: I can handle it. You can count on me, Verne.

Verne: I know I can.

The two shook hands.

Verne: Let's start turning around our fortunes.

Sarge: I'm gonna do my part as best I can.

Verne: Great. See you at the Sports Pavilion in a couple of hours.

Sarge: Alright.

Verne left the room and closed the door behind him.

Sarge went and sat on the side of the bed, picked up the phone off the nightstand and dialed.

After a couple of rings:

Brief pause...

Sarge: Honey! You won't believe it...


the autumn wind

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90-minutes before the start of the AWA on ESPN TV tapings are set to begin.

TV producer Al Derusha and Wally Karbo are having a discussion in the back corridor on the side where the faces enter the arena.

As the two talked, Greg Gagne power-walked up to them.

Wally: What is it, Greg?

Greg: Guys, I have some huge news.

Al: Don't leave us in suspense.

Greg: I'm gonna let my dad know about this after the tapings are over.

We have someone who may be interested in buying the promotion.

Wally: That's great! Who is it?

Greg: You may not have heard of him. His name's Jeff Smulyan.

Al (shaking his head): Don't know the name.

Wally: Never heard of him.

Greg: He founded and runs Emmis Broadcasting which is a giant in the radio industry. He owns several radio stations.

Wally: Wow! Bet this Smulyan guy has money.

Greg: And get this...


Al: Tell us!

Greg: He is the largest investor in a group that just purchased the Seattle Mariners!

Wally: The baseball team?!

Greg: Yup! The group purchased the team for $75 million bucks. And Smulyan contributed $35 million of that $75 million.

Al: If this guy buys the AWA we might be able to compete with Vince again like we did in '84 and '85.

Greg: That's right.

Not a word about this to anyone. Smulyan
might be interested. Nothing's set in stone.

Wally: Even if he decides against buying us, putting his name out there and letting people know he explored buying the AWA could improve our chances greatly of selling the promotion.

Al: With his money I sure hope he buys Verne out. Can you imagine the raises?

Al rubbed his hands together greedily and laughed.

Greg: We'll just have to wait and see what happens. And if he buys the promotion he might just overhaul everything and several of us could be out of jobs.

Wally: That's true.

Al looked disappointed.

Al: Thanks for bursting my bubble, Greg.

Greg: We'll see which way dad wants to go with it after I tell him the news.

Al looked at his watch.

Al: I gotta production staff meeting to get to.

Greg: I've got some stuff I gotta do to get ready as well.

Wally: Talk with you guys later.

The three men went their separate ways.


the autumn wind

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(1st Taping Re-Cap)

Ring Announcer/Interviewer Larry Nelson, with mic in hand, is standing by with special guests.

Nelson: Welcome to AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPN!

I'm Larry Nelson.

With me right now are AWA promoter Verne Gagne and one half of the World Tag Team Champions Ken Patera.

Ken, you were scheduled to challenge Larry Zbysko for the AWA World Championship. But as we can see you're left arm is in a sling.

Tell us what happened.

Patera (minus his tag title): Well, Larry, a few nights ago, I suffered an arm injury in a match.

Because of the injury, unfortunately, I am unable to challenge for the World Championship right now.

The good news is the injury won't keep me sidelined for long. The doctor said I should be back in the ring very soon and hopefully I'll be able to defend the tag team titles with Brad again as well.

Nelson: We're sorry to see you lose your title shot, Ken. Best of luck in your recovery.

Thank you.

Nelson: Verne Gagne. You're suddenly left without the World Title match that had been promised to these fans in Las Vegas.

But I hear you have come up with an alternative plan.

Verne: I have, Larry.

Ken, I hate seeing you miss out on the chance of a lifetime. World Title shots don't come along everyday.

Patera nodded in agreement.

Verne: But being the top-caliber wrestler you are, these fans know you'll get that shot at the gold in the very near future.

Since Ken was the #1 contender for the World Championship, I had to come up with something that would be fair to these great fans out here.

So, we're gonna have a Battle Royal tonight, and the winner will challenge Larry Zbsyko for the World Championship.

Fans cheered.

Nelson: That's big news. As you can tell by the reaction these fans love it.

Verne: Someone is gonna get a chance they weren't expecting to...

Crowd booed as Larry Zbysko, in street clothes and carrying the title cradled in his left arm, made his way down the heel aisle to the ring.

Nelson: Larry Zbysko is here.

Zbysko climbed into the ring and angrily walked up to the three men.

Verne: What do you want, Larry?

I want to make it quite clear that I am outraged! I had...

Fans booed and Zbysko stopped talking and glared at the crowd.

Zbysko: I signed a contract to defend the title against Ken Patera here in Vegas! I did not sign a contract to defend the belt against anyone else!

Larry, as the promoter, I have the right to make changes when I deem them necessary. Like it says on the posters promoting our show that are posted throughout the Showboat Hotel the card is subject to change. Patera's injury necessitated a change.

Zbysko: So you want me to step into this ring and face someone who I didn't properly prepare for?!

Verne: That's the nature of the sport sometimes.

Zbysko: What are you going to do, Verne, if I walk out of here with the belt and don't defend it here in Vegas?! Hmmm... What about that, smart guy?!

Well, if you refused to defend the World Title and walked out of here with the belt...I'd strip you of the title and the final two men left in the Battle Royal would square off in a match for the vacated belt!

Crowd cheered. Patera pointed and laughed at Zbysko as Zbysko freaked out.

Zbysko: No way! No way! You can't do this to the Living Legend!

Zbysko paced around in the ring for a moment.

Zbysko: I want it known right now!

Zbysko pointed at Verne.

Zbysko: You better let Stanley Blackburn know that I am wrestling this World Title match under protest!

Boos from the crowd.

Zbysko: You got me?!

Zbysko poked Verne in the chest three times as he spoke.

Patera stepped in between the two and Zbysko backed off.

Zbysko: What are you gonna do, you one-armed bandit?! Haha! We're in Vegas and I called you a one-armed bandit!

The two men stared at each other.

Verne: There's no need for this. Larry. Ken.

Zbysko and Patera had words off-mic with each other and Zbysko poked Patera in the chest a couple of times.

Zbysko (picked up on a mic): What are you gonna do, tough guy?!

Crowd cheered as Patera answered that question by slapping Zbysko hard across the face. Zbysko staggered and dropped the title and had to grab the top rope to steady himself.

Zbysko grabbed at his jaw and looked over at Patera. Patera was ready to fight with just one good arm.

Zbysko picked up the title and climbed out on the apron.

Zbysko was picked up on a mic.

Zbysko: Ex-con! Jailbird! Professional license plate maker!

Patera lunged at Zbysko and tried to grab the champ but Zbysko quickly dropped off the apron to the floor.

Zbysko walked over to the other side of the ring as Patera looked on from the ring.

Zbysko, from the floor, called Larry Nelson over. Nelson walked over and held the mic out so Zbysko could speak.

Zbysko: Ken! Isn't committing the crime of posing as a professional wrestler a violation of your parole?!

Patera snapped and charged over and dropped from the ring to the floor as Zbysko backed up. Patera started to run after Zbysko and Zbysko took off. Patera chased Zbysko once around the ring and Zbysko beat a hasty retreat up the heel entrance aisle.

Verne: Everybody just needs to calm down. We need to get this situation under control.

Patera looked back up at Verne and Nelson in the ring and then started heading over to the face entrance aisle.

Verne and Nelson were facing the camera and had their backs turned. Verne started to say something...

Crowd reacted as Zbysko charged back down the heel aisle to the ringside area and came up behind Patera and struck Patera in the back of the head with the title and Patera stumbled forward and went down.

Zbysko tossed the belt onto the ring apron and ran over to the announcer's/timekeeper's table and grabbed the ring bell off the table.

As Patera started getting to his feet, Zbysko circled around the ring, came up behind Patera and bashed Patera in the left arm with the ring bell, Patera staggering and grabbing his left arm in agony. Zbysko struck Patera in the left arm with the ring bell again. Patera staggered off holding his left arm and in severe agony.

Verne: I've seen enough!

Crowd popped as Verne Gagne took off his sports coat and dropped to the floor. Verne glared at Zbysko as Zbysko looked at Verne in disbelief.

Zbysko picked up on a mic.

Zbysko: Are you serious, old man?!

More crowd cheers as Sgt. Slaughter, Wahoo McDaniel and Greg Gagne came down to ringside. Zbysko quickly fled the scene with ring bell in hand.

Verne, Sarge, Wahoo and Greg checked on the injured Patera.

Commercial Break

The next two segments on the first taping featured two squash matches and interviews with the victors of those matches: The Top Guns (Ricky Rice & Derrick Dukes) (F) and Baron Von Raschke (F).

IT'S THE AWA ON TOUR! We'll be at the high school in (insert town here). THE AWA IS THE MAJOR LEAGUE OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING!

After another commercial break:
Larry Nelson was standing in the ring with Verne Gagne.

Nelson: We are back on AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPN. With me is Verne Gagne.

Verne, can you tell us what's going on right now with Ken Patera?

Verne: Larry, a doctor is looking at Ken's left arm in the dressing room right now and he might have to go to the hospital for further examination.

It looks like Zbysko probably caused more damage to Ken's left arm with the ring bell.

Nelson: It looked like you were ready to tangle with Zbysko after his attack on Patera.

Verne: Larry Zbysko is a guy that I just don't like. But I've tolerated him because he's a good wrestler, even though he can be a dirty snake at times, and our World Champion.

But he crossed a line with what he did. I could not stand by and allow it to continue. I was ready to fight if I had to

Nelson: Will Zbysko be stripped of the title?

Verne: I was on the phone with Stanley Blackburn a few minutes ago. We decided not to strip Zbysko of the World Championship. He will be defending it against the man who wins the Battle Royal as planned!

Crowd cheered.

Nelson: Is a fine or suspension coming?

Verne: A fine is definitely coming and it will be heavy. As for a future suspension we'll have to wait and see.

Nelson: Ladies and gentlemen! Wrestling legend and AWA promoter Verne Gagne...

Verne: Can I just say one more thing, Larry?

Nelson nodded in the affirmative.

Verne: I want to thank Sgt. Slaughter, Wahoo and my son Greg for coming out here and making sure Zbysko didn't do further damage to Patera.

They are three honorable, stand-up guys...which is more than I can say for Larry Zbysko!

More cheers.

Nelson: Verne Gagne, everybody! More action on the way!

Back from commercial break

Akio Sato (H) won a squash match.

Announcer Lee Marshall discussed what happened earlier in the evening with Zbysko attacking Patera and further injuring Patera's left arm with the ring bell and said Patera had been taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.

Said the the Battle Royal, where the winner earns the right to challenge Zbysko for the AWA World Title, was coming up next!

Commercial Break

Back from commercial: All the wrestlers were already in the ring.

Battle Royal (Winner receives an AWA World Title shot!)
(Participants: Tommy Jammer, Tom Zenk, Wayne Bloom, Mike Enos, Sgt. Slaughter, Jake Milliman, Col. DeBeers, Wahoo McDaniel, Manny Fernandez & Jonnie Stewart)

Order of Elimination:

1) Jammer - Eliminator: Bloom - Thrown over the top rope down to the floor - :17

2) Wahoo - Eliminator: Bloom and Enos - Enos tried to toss Wahoo over the top rope but Wahoo put up a struggle and was dangling on the top rope and Enos couldn't push him over when Bloom charged over and intentionally bumped Enos and the impact forced Wahoo over the top rope down to the floor - :44

3) Fernandez - Eliminator: Slaughter - Clotheslined over the top rope down to the floor - 1:15

4) Zenk - Eliminator: DeBeers - Backdropped over the top rope down to the floor - 1:42

5) DeBeers - Eliminator: Milliman - Dropkicked DeBeers in the back and DeBeers toppled over the top rope and crashed to the padless floor - 2:34 (Crowd went nuts for Milliman eliminating someone.)

6) Stewart - Eliminator: Slaughter - Clotheslined over the top rope down to the floor - 3:43

7) Milliman - Eliminator: Enos - Threw Milliman over the top rope down to the floor - 4:31

This left Sarge and the Destruction Crew as the final three men in the Battle Royal.

Bloom and Enos immediately went to work and jumped on Sarge and started pounding away on him. Sarge staggered away from the beating but Bloom and Enos stalked him and pounded on him some more. Crowd cheering on Sarge. Sarge once again staggered away from the beating from Enos and Bloom. The pair once again slowly stalked Sarge. Enos spun Sarge around and went to hit Sarge with a head shot but Sarge blocked the punch try and nailed Enos with a trio of head shots of his own. Enos staggered. Bloom clubbed Sarge with a forearm smash to the upper back killing Sarge's offense. Bloom whipped Sarge into the buckles. Bloom looked to nail Sarge with a running clothesline but Sarge moved and Bloom crashed front-first into the buckles. Crowd popped. Bloom quickly extricated himself from the buckles and Sarge caught Bloom with a head shot. Enos moved in and Sarge whirled around and popped Enos with a head shot. Sarge then went back and forth belting the men with head shots. Bloom and Enos staggered. Sarge grabbed Enos and went to try and throw Enos over the top rope but Enos put up a fight and refused to go over and a struggle ensued. As Sarge tried to eliminate Enos, Bloom recovered enough and came up and belted Sarge with a double sledge to the back. Sarge lost his grip on Enos and Enos remained in the match. Bloom and Enos again joined forces in pounding on the Sarge. The dastardly duo then whipped Sarge into the ropes and looked to catch him coming off with a double clothesline but Sarge ducked the move and came back and blasted Enos and Bloom with a double clothesline of his own. Enos and Bloom crashed to the mat as the fans cheered. Sarge stumbled forward and fell front-first against the ropes. Crowd cheering on Sarge.

Sarge regained his bearings as Enos made it to his feet. Enos charged at Sarge just as Sarge separated himself from the ropes and turned around. Enos went to hit Sarge with a running clothesline but Sarge backdropped Enos over the top rope and down to the floor. Crowd roared its approval. Bloom moved in and caught Sarge with a boot to the gut. Sarge doubled over holding his gut. Bloom then grabbed Sarge and attempted to hoist him up for a piledriver but Sarge twice blocked the move and pulled Bloom's legs out from under him and Bloom crashed to the mat. Sarge then catapaulted Bloom into the corner and Bloom slammed head-first into the ring bolt that connects the post to the buckle. Bloom staggered out of the corner and walked right into a series of head shots by Sarge. Bloom on wobbly legs. Sarge reared back belted Bloom with a big roundhouse right to the jaw. The impact of the blow spun Bloom around facing the ropes. Sarge grabbed Bloom and threw Bloom over the top rope and down to the floor as the bell rang. Fans cheering.

Ref climbed in the ring and raised Sarge's hand in victory.

Nelson: In a time of 7 minutes, 52 seconds, your winner of the Battle Royal...and the man who will be facing Larry Zbysko for the AWA World Championship...Sgt. Slaughter!

Fans cheered some more as a sore Sarge slowly left the ring, dropped to the floor and headed back up the face aisle to the dressing room, slapping hands with fans along the way.

WINNER: Sarge - Eliminated Bloom by throwing him over the top rope down to the floor - 7:52)