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 - Jim Zordani

The two on one attack perpetrated by Nick Bockwinkel and Ray Stevens against Red Bastien in a televised match on August 28th, 1971 was important for several reasons. It signified the formation of the hated Bockwinkel and Stevens tag team. It established a feud between Bastien and the team of Bockwinkel and Stevens. Plus the attack showed Bockwinkel and Stevens would do whatever it took to maim their adversaries.

Red Bastien and Hercules Cortez had won the AWA World tag team titles from Mad Dog and Butcher Vachon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 15th,1971. Two months into their tag title reign, tragedy intervened and changed the course of AWA wrestling history. On the night of July 23rd, 1971, Bastien and Cortez were involved in a car accident just north of St Cloud, Minnesota. The 39 year old Cortez, whose real name was Alfonso Chicharo, was killed in the car accident. The 40 year old Bastien suffered a few injuries but was not seriously injured. Red took a month off from wrestling to recuperate from his injuries and upon his return chose the Crusher to take Cortez's place as Bastien's AWA tag team championship partner.

The stage was set. The AWA tag team champions, Red Bastien and the Crusher, would feud with the newly formed team of Nick Bockwinkel and Ray Stevens. For the next few months, the two teams battled several times with Bastien and Crusher holding on to the AWA tag team titles. On January 20th, 1972, Nick Bockwinkel and Ray Stevens defeated Red Bastien and the Crusher in Denver, Colorado to capture the AWA tag team titles. According to the Crusher record book published by George Lentz, the finish of the title match happened this way. Bastien was about to apply his "Atomic Drop" finisher to Stevens when he was kicked in the stomach by Bockwinkel. Bastien fell to the mat and was pinned by Stevens.  With AWA champion Verne Gagne getting up there in age and as a result opting for a lighter work schedule, Nick Bockwinkel and Ray Stevens in their role as AWA tag team champions more often than not found themselves in the main event on AWA house shows. Early in their first AWA tag title reign, Nick and Ray defended the tag straps against such teams as Mad Dog and Butcher Vachon, Billy Robinson and Wilbur Snyder, Dr X and Bill Watts, Bruiser and Crusher and Dusty Rhodes and Larry Hennig. Having Bockwinkel and Stevens beat the former AWA tag team champions Mad Dog and Butcher Vachon cleanly was terrific booking by the AWA.  More...

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