Wrestling: American Wrestling Association

"From coast to coast and around the globe, the greatest wrestlers in the world bring you the greatest wrestling in the world... that's the AWA!"
Tagline of "AWA Championship Wrestling" on ESPN

The American Wrestling Association (AWA) was an American professional wrestling promotion based in Minneapolis, Minnesota that ran from 1960 to 1991.

You can find the basics about the company's history at The Other Wiki.


"The major leagues of professional wrestling tropes":

  • Affably Evil: Nick Bockwinkel was much like former top star Verne Gagne, a loyal company man, agreeable if not as friendly, he even wrestled similar to Gagne. Bar Bockwinkel's ego, lack of sportsmanship, and tendency to insult them, fans liked him. Sgt. Slaughter as well, not in style so much but he was a patriot.
  • Anti-Villain: Nick Bockwinkel. Sure he cheated and called fans "cretinous humanoids", but he was just so eloquent and well spoken that you could always see where he was coming from. When he finally turned face in the mid-80s, it was a fairly seamless transition.
  • All American Face: Verne Gagne was a decorated amateur wrestler before founding the AWA with multiple Big Ten and AAU championships as well as a spot on the 1948 U.S. Olympic team to his credit. Also, Sgt Slaughter, a more militant example(obviously)
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: Pat Tanaka's, of the Tag Team Badd Company, Red Baron was "The Sensei." Despite the fact that he was born in Hawaii.
  • Ax-Crazy
    • With names like "Butcher" and "Mad Dog," how could the Vachons not qualify? They used to terrify audiences but their antics eventually fell into the realm of nostalgia, making them baby faces by default. Foaming mouth crazy baby faces.
    • Larry Hennig was known as "The Ax" for a reason.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Nick Bockwinkel, though he still had standard ring gear for actual matches
  • Bald of Awesome: "Superstar" Billy Graham and Jesse "The Body" Ventura amongst others.
  • Big Eater: The explanation for Scott Norton's "Flapjack" nickname was that he had supposedly eaten all the pancakes at the lumberjacks' camp by himself in one sitting.
  • Cool Mask: Double X and Dr. X had black masks
  • Cool Old Guy: Nick Bockwinkel during his final World Title run at age 52. Not to mention that Bockwinkel was able to rap better than everyone else, including the younger talent, in the WrestleRock Rumble video.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Pretty much every match on All-Star Wrestling was this.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: Hulk Hogan beat Nick Bockwinkel for the AWA Title, despite Bobby Heenan cheating against him, only to have the title stripped away by AWA President Stanley Blackburn because Hogan had also cheated(to defend himself from Heenan and Bockwinkel). Hogan won the title a second time by throwing Bockwinkel over the top rope, which would be a disqualification in AWA rules except, given the way he was stripped of the title last time, was done in a no disqualification match. Unable to find an excuse for Hogan not to be champion, Blackburn simply took the belt from Hogan anyway. The fans nearly rioted and were only pacified by Hulk Hogan giving an extra beating to his tormentors.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: Baron Von Raschke(Germany), Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie(Iraq), Abdullah the Butcher(Sudan), Kamala the Ugandan Giant, Boris Zhukov(Russia), Akio Sato(Japan), Soldat Ustinov(Russia), Col. DeBeers(Poland), etc.
  • Gimmick Matches: Punching was legal in all Brass Knuckles title matches, which were often taped fist matches as well to discourage grappling. Sometimes actual brass knuckles were used openly.
  • Gorgeous George: "Superstar" Billy Graham and later, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, though they were less ambiguously gay than most examples.
  • Heel-Face Return: Of a sort. Hulk Hogan was the bad guy in Rocky III but being in a movie still made the fans treat him like a superstar baby face.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja - Larry Zbyszko's training partner Mr Go was supposed to be a ninja.
  • I Call It "Vera": During Baron Von Raschke's late-1980s feud with the the Sheik's (Adnan Al-Kaisse) Army, he carried around a baseball bat he called his "Louisville Sleeper."note 
  • Invincible Hero: Verne Gagne right before he retired. Gagne couldn't get NWA Champion Pat O' Connor on his show, so he broke away from the NWA, declared O' Connor the AWA Champion, and then "stripped" O' Connor of the belt for "failing" to defending it for 90 days, Gagne awarding it to himself.
  • Insistent Terminology: For a time in the mid-1980s, the announcers would refer to the DDT as a "short piledriver."
  • Power Stable: The Heenan Family, The Diamond Exchange
  • Real Song Theme Tune:
  • Ring Oldies: The combination of the AWA style resulting in less wear and tear on the wrestlers bodies and the WWF signing away their younger talent made the AWA especially prone to this in the 80s. Nick Bockwinkel, Verne Gagne, Da Crusher and Baron Von Raschke all had World Heavyweight or Tag Team title runs past the age of 50.
  • Rule of Cool: Da Crusher's signature move, the bolo punch, ran on this.
  • Spiritual Successor
    • In 1996, former AWA employees in Wrestling Superstars Live began using the AWA name and selling rights to its use to other promotions in the UK, Canada and Japan. In 2007, WWE filed a lawsuit on the grounds it owned the right to the AWA name, causing the break up of this new alliance and ending the use of AWA properties among those purchased from WSL. National Wrestling Superstars would continue on for two more years after the suit before closing, meaning the closest thing to a continuation of the AWA ended up being a few regional promotions such as Carolina Wrestling Federation Mid-Atlantic. The AWA title belts continued to be to defended in various Japanese promotions, despite the suit, but none had any connection to each other, beyond Zero 1 getting the most of them.
    • Also in a real case of Artifact Title, AWA Australia, which opened in 2006.
  • Stout Strength: The 5'10 450 lbs "Man Mountain" Jerry Blackwell.
  • Unrelated Brothers: Da Crusher and Dick The Bruiser, though more commonly billed as cousins.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Hulk Hogan did not have an amateur wrestling background and was not deemed a good enough technician on the mat to be a singles champion. He was bigger and stronger than most however and popular enough to justify having him hover around the top. Gagne himself would have made an exception to "Champion must be the best technical wrestler" but was making money having Hogan chase the champion and wanted to keep milking it...leading Hogan to leave to promotions that would shoot him to the top more quickly, leaving AWA without a top draw that were set to rely on for years down the line.
  • World's Strongest Man: Ken Patera was billed as this.
  • Wrestling Doesn't Pay
    • The Lumberjacks (John Nord and Scott "Flapjack" Norton)
    • The Trooper (Del Wilkes)
    • The Asian Assassin Akio Sato. Obviously wasn't racking up kills while on TV.
  • Wrestling Family
    • Larry Zbyszko was part of the Gagne family by marriage, but this was never mentioned on camera.
    • The Gagnes (Verne & Greg), the Vachons (Butcher & Mad Dog) and the Hennigs (Larry & Curt).
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: As their manager Diamond Dallas Page would say, "Badd Company, and that's B-A-DOUBLE-D BADD!"
  • You Look Familiar: Averted with "Big" Scott Hall who sported an afro, porn stache and extremely muscular physique during his AWA run but looked much different by the time he showed up in the WWF as Razor Ramon.