Saturday, January 10, 2009

Does anyone have a DVD of this match?

AWF Pumpkin Brawl 1996 with Tom Zenk, Sgt. Slaughter, Santana, Nailz, Sheik

By Brian Hoops, Specialist Contributor

PW Nostalgia Review
"AWF Pumpkin Brawl 1996"
By Brian Hoops, Specialist Contributor
October 19, 2007

This week's look at nostalgia takes us back to the American Wrestling Federation and the "Pumpkin Brawl 96." The AWF was a national professional wrestling
organization, founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1994 by promoter Paul Alperstein. The organization was short-lived, lasting only until December 1996 and enjoyed only limited success. The company ran several house shows and was building towards running a PPV event, but closed before a PPV card could be put together. The AWF did have syndicated television, however it was on a very limited basis. Sportschannel America, a satellite company carried the program in its weekly block of wrestling during 1995 and 1996. The AWF heavyweight champion was Tito Santana and the tag team champions were Greg Valentine and Tommy Rich.

One of the house shows the company ran occurred October 23, 1996 in Minneapolis, Minnesota called Pumpkin Brawl 1996. The reason this show makes our nostalgia review was the autograph session held prior to the wrestling card and the legends that appeared. As Minneapolis was the heart of AWA territory, several former AWA stars were on hand before the card in an autograph signing session. Stars that were signing autographs included; Rock & Roll Buck Zumhoff, Tito Santana, Sgt. Slaughter, Tom Zenk, Baron Von Raschke, Eddie Sharkey and Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie. The show was broadcast on local cable access with Mick Karsch handling the play-by-play duties.

First match of the evening was Wayne Bloom against the Joker. Wayne Bloom was a former AWA World Tag Team champion and former WWF World Tag Team champion, as one half of the Beverly Brothers. The Joker was a small, local guy in a mask. Bloom didn't work very hard and the match wasn't very good. Finish came when the Joker threw Bloom into the ropes and tried to follow up with a splash. Bloom moved and rolled up the Joker for the three count.

[photo by Wade Keller (c) PWTorch]

Next match is tag team action, featuring former AWA alumnus, former WCW World TV Champion and former WWF World Tag Team Title holder Tom Zenk teaming with local wrestler Billy Blaze against local wrestlers the Chi-Town Thug and The Hater. The Hater had a tryout match with WCW in the late 90's. This was a pretty-good match, considering local independent talent worked most of the match. Zenk worked early in the match, gaining the upper hand on the Thug before tagging in Blaze. Thug and Hater worked over Blaze most of the match, before Blaze made the hot tag to Zenk. Finish came when Blaze threw Thug into Hater's elbow and Blaze covered thug for the pin. Zenk gave Hater a superkick and threw him into the wall after the pin.

Lenny Lane vs. Horace the Psychopath is next. Both guys are local Minneapolis based wrestlers, but Lane would go on to wrestle for WCW in the late 90's, winning the WCW World Cruiserweight Championship. Being at the event live and seeing Lane for the first time, you could tell he had a ton of potential. Horace was doing the escaped inmate from the insane asylum gimmick, but he could hold his own in the ring with Lane. This was a very good match, that had ample time to build. In fact, it was a better match than the majority of what WCW or WWF would put on PPV in 1996. Finish came when Lane gave Horace a flip tope over the top rope to the floor and rolled Horace back into the ring. Lane tried to do a moonsault off the top rope, but Horace moved and did a senton onto Lane then covered him for the win.

Local wrestlers J.B. Trask and Dan Jesser were in the next match. Trask received a tryout match a few years later with WCW in a dark match prior to Nitro. Match itself was nothing special with Trask rolling Jesser up for the pinfall.

Next match is a tag team match; Tito Santana & Sgt. Slaughter vs. The Black Top Bully (Barry Darsow) & Nailz (Kevin Wacholz). Nailz and Bully were managed by Sheik Kaissey. From a nostalgia standpoint, the match was great as all four had wrestled previously in WWF and AWA and had numerous championships between them, however all the guys were past their primes and the match itself wasn't very good. All four guys were counted out of the ring for the finish.

Main event was an over the top battle royal, called "The Pumpkin Brawl." The guys used in the battle royal were the local, independent wrestlers. The in ring action was very good. Horace the psychopath was the Pumpkin Brawl battle royal when he eliminated Lenny Lane.

Summary: I was at this house show live and it was fun seeing some of the stars of the AWA that I grew up watching. The wrestling on the show was very good with the independent wrestlers putting on a strong effort and several showing potential. It was a fun evening of wrestling.

Next week we look go back 15 years and look at the WCW Halloween Havoc 1992 PPV.

I hope you enjoyed this week's column. As always your questions, comments and thoughts are always welcomed, and you can contact me at vs. Jushin Liger (late '95) – 28 (3)

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