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AWA

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American Wrestling Alliance (AWA) was one of the "Big Three" promotions of the 1980s, alongside NWA and the WWF. Led by nine-time AWA World champion Verne Gagne, the AWA was a strongly rooted territory out of Minneapolis but stretched far outside of Minnesota, regularly running shows in Vancouver and Seattle down to Las Vegas, Nevada. Unfortunately, AWA (specifically Gagne) never fully adapted to the paradigm shift in the business to focus on cable television and pay-per-view, although AWA aired shows on ESPN and SuperClash III was on PPV in December 1988, so they gave it an honest attempt but, by that point, it was not enough to keep pace with the juggernaut of the WWF's Rock 'n' Wrestling campaign.

The biggest draws in AWA in its final years were Curt Hennig (who left to the WWF while champion), Larry Zbyszko (who left to WCW while champion), and Sgt. Slaughter (who left to the WWF to become champion). By the time AWA folded in early 1991, its gates were drawing so poorly that they recorded its last set of shows in an empty arena as a part of an ill-fated, albeit somewhat creative, angle known as "Team Challenge Series," which basically blended wrestling with sports league scoring like that of the NHL (unfortunately, it better resembled game show scoring like that of "Family Feud").

The following WWE Hall of Fame inductees had success in AWA: Hulk Hogan, King Jerry Lawler, Harley Race, Jesse Ventura, Ric Flair, Road Warriors, Curt Hennig, Shawn Michaels, Fritz Von Erich, Sgt. Slaughter, Mean Gene Okerlund, Sensational Sherri, Nick Bockwinkel, Verne Gagne himself (of course), and others.

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