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[1984-08-16-AWA-Winnipeg, MB] Rick Martel vs Nick Bockwinkel

Superstar Sleeze

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AWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel vs Nick Bockwinkel - AWA 8/16/84

Martel versus Bockwinkel has all the makings of a classic championship series that has been overlooked due to AWA not being a sexy territory until a resurgence of interest from the AWA DVDVR project. I have watched a couple of their matches in the past, but I can't remember which ones so I am basically starting fresh. Six matches made the AWA set, but I will be starting with the three highest ranked ones and when I have more time, I will go back and watch the other three. The first match we see is the first match to make the set since Martel has won the title from Jumbo Tsuruta and is being contested in AWA hotbed, Winnipeg, which seems to be a popular place for where we get a lot of AWA footage from.


At first watch, I was a bit underwhelmed by this match, but upon watching the rematch the next month also from Winnipeg, I realized this was intended to be a first match in a series match and in that context this is excellent. It whets your appetite, but leaves you very hungry for more. That's why I was underwhlemed, because I was left hungry and did not realize they would feeding me a heaping helping of double bitchiness with a side of fantastic selling in the rematch. The most important thing about this match is that it established Bockwinkel's most effective counterpunching strategy: the quick jab to the midsection. He uses this to great effectiveness in the rematch and it serves him well here. They start the match off with a bang with a wicked double cross body collision that Martel wins. Martel decides to focus on Bock's arm and Bock tries to cheat as best he can to turn the tide, but Martel is relentless. During one of his tries, Bock rams the bad shoulder into the turnbuckles, OW! When Martel goes for a kneedrop to the arm, Bock gets a quick fist to the ribs and throws him out. They are just teasing king of the mountain as Martel fires up. I love how he gets back in the ring by rolling around to avoid Bock and then nailing him. I love how they treat getting back into the ring as a disadvantage and Martel has to use his speed and intelligence to avoid being attacked upon re-entering. Again, Bock gets that short jab, but can't consolidate with the piledriver instead Martel gets his own. Bockwinkel goes back to the short jab to the ribs and this time it sets up his sleeper. He takes a header into the top turnbuckle. Martel looks to set up for his dive by working the back, Heenan gets up on the apron, but Bockwinkel ends up running into him. Martel tries to take advantage to hit slingshot bodypress, but eats knees. Bock immediately tries a pin, but only gets two. I love the idea! Bock hooks on his patented sleeper, but the Survivor Series 1996 finish does him in.


As a standalone match this is very good, but as a place setter for the awesome rematch, this match is a great one. Martel looks awesome here using a combination of technique, speed and intelligence to get the best of Bockwinkel at every turn. Bockwinkel has to rely on cheating, experience and his short jab to set up his big bomb, the sleeper. It really made for a cool story that they really escalated to the next level in the September 1984 Winnipeg match. ****

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