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 - Jim Zordani

After Nick Bockwinkel regained the AWA heavyweight championship from Otto Wanz on October 9, 1982 in Chicago, Illinois, Rick Martel was first in line to challenge Bockwinkel. On October 17, 1982 in St. Paul Minnesota, Martel beat Bockwinkel in a non-title match. Rick's non-title victory set up a rematch with Bockwinkel for the AWA title on November 25, 1982 in St. Paul. The rematch on November 25, 1982 ended in an inconclusive no contest. Another title bout was signed between Bockwinkel and Martel which took place on January 16, 1983 in St. Paul. Nick emerged victorious in this bout winning by disqualification. Rick lobbied for another crack at the crafty veteran Bockwinkel saying Nick had not pinned him or made him submit. Martel was awarded another title shot against AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel on March 13, 1983 in St. Paul. Rick gave a very game effort but in the end it was Bockwinkel scoring the victory. Even though Rick Martel did not capture the AWA title from Nick Bockwinkel, getting four matches against Bockwinkel in the AWA's backyard of St. Paul, Minnesota showed how highly regarded Martel was by AWA fans and promoters.  

Martel and Bockwinkel battled in many other AWA cities during late 1982 and the first half of 1983. I'll list their battles for everyone to see. 

11/14/82 Green Bay- Nick Bockwinkel no contest Rick Martel 

11/26/82 Denver- Nick Bockwinkel no contest Rick Martel 

12/12/82 Green Bay- Nick Bockwinkel no contest Rick Martel 

12/27/82 Denver- Nick Bockwinkel beat Rick Martel 

2/6/83 Denver- Nick Bockwinkel beat Rick Martel 

3/20/83 Denver- Nick Bockwinkel beat Rick Martel 

3/25/83 Milwaukee- Nick Bockwinkel beat Rick Martel DQ 

4/9/83 San Francisco- Nick Bockwinkel beat Rick Martel DQ 

5/3/83 Salt Lake City- Rick Martel beat Nick Bockwinkel DQ 

6/13/83 Salt Lake City- Rick Martel beat Nick Bockwinkel DQ 

On June 26th, 1983 in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Sheiks Jerry "Ayatollah" Blackwell and Ken "Lawrence of Arabia" Patera defeated Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell to capture the AWA tag team titles. The circumstances that brought Blackwell and Patera together are interesting. Blackwell started teaming with Sheik Adnan El Kaissey in late 1981. Over a period of time, Jerry "Crusher" Blackwell was transformed into Sheik Ayatollah Blackwell. Blackwell and Sheik Adnan quickly became the top contenders to AWA tag team champions Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell. Sheik Adnan's arm was eventually broken by Verne Gagne and Mad Dog Vachon. Adnan decided to buy a new partner for Blackwell. In an angle that developed over a three week period, Adnan purchased the contract of Ken Patera from Bobby Heenan paying Heenan 250 thousand dollars for the rights to Patera's contract and giving Patera 250 thousand dollars to be Blackwell's new tag team partner. The team was pushed to the hilt at they beat the High Flyers for the AWA tag team titles. 

Fast forward to the August 7th, 1983 edition of All Star Wrestling, the AWA's weekly television program. Blackwell and Patera were facing Rick Martel and perennial whipping boy Tom "Rocky" Stone. Blackwell and Patera easily dispatched of Stone and brutally beat up Martel getting themselves disqualified. Martel enlisted the aid of Steve Olsonoski to gain revenge. Soon Olsonoski too was out of the picture and Rick needed another partner to battle Blackwell and Patera. Enter Maurice Mad Dog Vachon. Vachon had been injured by Blackwell several months earlier and had made it his mission to rid professional wrestling of Blackwell. Mad Dog jumped at the chance to be Martel's partner.   More...

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