36 years ago, WWWF Champion Bob Backlund wrestled Antonio Inoki at Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan to a one-hour draw in a best of three falls match. Inoki drew first blood with a fall in 20 minutes, with Backlund tying the match at a fall each at 36 minutes.
16 years ago today, WWF tapes the first episode of Sunday Night Heat from the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California. In the main event, WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock and Owen Hart defeated Mankind and Kane in a #1 contender's match for the WWF Tag Team Championship.
14 years ago today, famed NWA and WCW ring announcer Francis Jonard Labiak, better known as Gordon Solie, passes away from throat cancer in his home in New Port Ritchey, Florida. He was 71. Solie's calm demeanor (compared to other announcers of the era-and since for that matter) made him stand out in the field. He is remembered by most younger fans as the voice of WCW Pro in the mid-1990s, though he'd been voicing matches for the company for years prior to that. His final days with the promotion were tumultuous. Macho Man Randy Savage pushed for his father Angelo Poffo to be inducted into to the WCW Hall of Fame, though Solie opposed it, feeling wrestlers shouldn't push themselves nor family members for the honor. Both Solie and Poffo were inducted in 1995, but Gordon had left the promotion by the time of his induction. Solie was to commentate the Heroes of Wrestling PPV in 1999, but could not make the show due to his health. Solie entered the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004, the NWA Hall of Fame in 2005, and the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. The above video (starting at 2:44) is his official WWE Hall of Fame induction video.
13 years ago today, famed women's wrestler Rhonda Sing, best known as Bertha Faye in the WWF and Rhonda Singh and Monster Ripper internationally, passed away in her hometown of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She was just 40 years old. Sing was trained by Mildred Burke in 1978 and went to All-Japan Pro Wrestling in 1979. She became the first Stampede Wrestling Womens Champion in 1987, and would win the World Wrestling Council Womens Championship in Puerto Rico five times from 1987 to 1990. She spent a year in the WWF, and though she would win their Womens Championship, she became frustrated with the gimmick, as she was forced to reduce her moveset and be a comic relief wrestler. The same situation would befall her in her brief stint in WCW, even appearing as Nitro Girl Beef. Following retirement, Sing would return to Calgary and work as a caregiver for the handicapped. The above video is her WWF debut from the April 3, 1995 RAW.
12 years ago today at the Murphy Recreation Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Low Ki became the first Ring of Honor Champion by scoring the most falls in a 60-minute four way Ironman match that featured Christopher Daniels, Spanky (Brian Kendrick), and Doug Williams. In this unique bout, a decision in the wrestler's favor was +2 points, while the person pinned or made to submit was -1 point. Only three decisions were scored in the bout: Christopher Daniels pinning Low Ki (Daniels 2, Low Ki -1), Low Ki submitting Spanky (Low Ki 1, Spanky -1), and Low Ki submitting Williams (Low Ki 3, Williams, -1). Daniels had Low Ki in the Dragon Clutch as time expired, but Low Ki did not submit. The above video is the complete match.
11 years ago today, WWE presented Vengeance (WWE Network link) from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. This was the first Smackdown-only PPV since the roster split of last year, though brand-exclusive PPVs only began the previous month with RAW's Bad Blood. About 9,500 were in attendance, with 322,000 homes watching on PPV. The show featured the crowning of the first WWE United States Champion, with the company using the lineage that dated back to the NWA and later WCW United States Championship.
- In a preshow match on Sunday Night Heat, Ultimo Dragon defeated Chris Canyon.
- Eddie Guerrero defeated Chris Benoit in a tournament final to win the WWE United States Championship.
- Jamie Noble deated Billy Gunn.
- Bradshaw defeated Shannon Moore, Doink the Clown, Faarooq, Brother Love, Nunzio, Matt Hardy, Chris Canyon, Danny Bashum, Doug Bashum, The Easter Bunny, Sean O'Haire, John Hennigan, Orlando Jordan, Funaki, Los Conqistadors (Rob Conway and Johnny Jeter), The Brooklyn Brawler, Johnny Stamboli, Chuck Palumbo, Matt Cappotelli and Spanky in an APA Invitational Bar Room Brawl by being the last man standing.
- The World's Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) defeated Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
- Sable defeated Stephanie McMahon in a no countout catfight.
- The Undertaker defeated John Cena.
- Vince McMahon defeated Zach Gowen .
- Kurt Angle defeated The Big Show and Brock Lesnar in a No Disqualification triple threat match to win the WWE Championship.
10 years ago today, two championships change hands at a Smackdown taping at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio. First, Spike Dudley defeated Rey Mysterio to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. In the main event, Booker T was the last of eight men standing in an elimination match for the vacant WWE United States Championship. Other participants (in order of elimination) included Charlie Haas, Rene Dupree, Kenzo Suzuki, Billy Gunn, Luther Reigns, John Cena, and Rob Van Dam.
4 years ago today at an Impact taping at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, Hamada and Taylor Wilde defeated The Beautiful People (Lacey Von Erich and Velvet Sky) to win the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship. They would remain champions until early December when Hamada was released from TNA. Hamada herself was relieved of the tag titles earlier in the year when her other partner Awesome Kong was released from the company.
Birthdays, birthdays, birthdays! Nicholas Nemeth, best known as Dolph Ziggler, is 34 today. Here's his career highlight, his Money in the Bank cash-in to win the World Heavyweight Championship from the RAW after Wrestlemania 29.
Happy 45th birthday to Paul Levesque, best known as WWE superstar/chief operating officer/husband of Stephanie McMahon Triple H. Here's a tribute video from the Monday Night RAW just before Wrestlemania XXX.