Aug. 9, 1958
A Lack of Entitlement
Minnesota wrestling hero and former Chicago Bear Verne Gagne defeats NWA Champion Edouard Carpentier in Omaha, but there’s a problem. The National Wrestling Alliance had already redacted Carpentier’s title victory over Lou Thesz due to disqualification. Still, Gagne never receives an official championship match despite his victory. The slight leads Gagne and promoter Wally Karbo to form their own organization — the American Wrestling Association — in order to give Verne the recognition he deserves.
Aug. 16, 1960
The AWA is Born
Throwing down the gauntlet to the NWA, the newly formed AWA recognizes NWA Champion Pat O’Connor as their first official champion. The legendary grappler from New Zealand is then given 90 days to defend the AWA Title. When he fails to do so — as expected — Verne Gagne is awarded the championship. (MORE ABOUT VERNE GAGNE)
July 4, 1964
Cruising for a Bruising
The AWA’s first big holiday show in Minnesota’s Metropolitan Stadium is main evented by a two-out-of-three-falls showdown between Gagne and Dick the Bruiser. A former Green Bay Packer, the cigar chomping Bruiser is a dirty fighter, but the agile Gagne manages to outwit his foe to hang onto the title. In the years to come, Dick the Bruiser becomes one of the AWA’s most recognizable faces.
Oct. 20, 1964
Mad Dog Unleashed
A former amateur wrestling associate of Verne’s by the name of Maurice Vachon resurfaces in the AWA as the vicious Mad Dog. Relatively small, but as mean and nasty as a pitbull, the gravel voiced terror from Montreal defeats Gagne for the AWA Title in Minneapolis and becomes the organization’s dominant champion over the next three years. (MORE ABOUT MAD DOG)