AWA Championship Wrestling is a professional wrestling television series that aired on cable sports network ESPN from 1985 to 1990. It was a continuation of the earlier ESPN program Pro Wrestling USA, the co-operative venture between the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and several National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) affiliates (most notably Jim Crockett Promotions). On February 26, 2008, ESPN Classic[1] began reairing AWA Championship Wrestling episodes. Along with the ownership of the AWA intellectual property by the WWE, all episodes are available on the WWE Network.


In September 1985, the AWA began airing weekly programming on ESPN, giving the promotion the national exposure already enjoyed by the World Wrestling Federation (on USA Network) and the NWA's Georgia/World Championship Wrestling (on TBS). However, weekly AWA shows were not treated with any priority by the cable network, sometimes being delayed, preempted by live programming, or suffering from occasional changes in time slot, making it difficult for fans to tune in on a regular basis. Following the disastrous Team Challenge Series,[2][3] the AWA lost its contract with ESPN and became virtually inactive by late 1990.

Taping locations

For many years, the AWA held their television tapings in their home base of Minneapolis, Minnesota (for their syndicated All-Star Wrestling program), at the WTCN television studios. However, in early 1985, AWA promoter Verne Gagne made the decision to hold some television tapings at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. When Gagne inked the deal with ESPN later that same year, he along with the ESPN management felt that another location for the AWA television tapings was necessary. Ultimately, Gagne and ESPN settled on the Showboat Sports Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both the WWF on the USA Network and the NWA on TBS were able to draw more crowds than the AWA's ESPN program.[4] The ESPN tapings in Las Vegas often took place in front of small, silent crowds.[5] In 1989, they taped from the Rochester, Minnesota Civic Center until their final taping on August 11, 1990.


Rod Trongard's voice was featured on the AWA's weekly ESPN broadcasts, reaching millions of homes around the world. His signature phrase was "From coast to coast, continent to continent, and border to border". During broadcasts, he often included city names in the phrase, signifying the broad reach of wrestling and the AWA's broadcasts at the time. Trongard called matches alongside fellow commentators Lord James Blears and Lee Marshall.[6][7] Ralph Strangis' earliest national exposure was as play-by-play man and ring announcer for the American Wrestling Association on ESPN,[8] where he worked alongside Lee Marshall,[9] and later Eric Bischoff,[10] in the waning days of that promotion.

Notable moments


See also


  1. ^ "AWA on ESPN Classic". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
  2. ^ AWA #7 Page #2
  3. ^ Reynolds, RD. "Team Challenge Series". WrestleCrap. Archived from the original on February 10, 2023. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  4. ^ Pile-driving, gut-busting, back-breaking theater - Minnesota Daily Archived 2008-10-03 at
  5. ^ a b AWA #5 Page #2
  6. ^ Harrison, Randy (2008-04-21). "411's AWA on ESPN Classic Report 04.21.08". 411mania. Retrieved 2009-12-28.
  7. ^ Harrison, Randy (2008-05-14). "411's AWA on ESPN Classic Report 05.13.08". 411mania. Retrieved 2009-12-28.
  8. ^ "What's Ralph Done?". Archived from the original on 2010-03-14. Retrieved 2009-12-24.
  9. ^ Harrison, Randy (2008-08-05). "411's AWA on ESPN Classic Report". 411mania. Retrieved 2009-12-24.
  10. ^ "Eric Bischoff Official Website". Retrieved 2009-12-24.
  11. ^ AWA #4 Page #2
  12. ^ AWA #7 Page #1
  13. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.