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This Day in Pro Wrestling History (July 4)

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Happy birthday, America! Don't forget why you're celebrating this day. If you see a soldier, thank him or her.

27 years ago, "War Games: The Match Beyond" makes its debut (pay link) on the feature show of Jim Crockett Promotions' 1987 Great American Bash tour from the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia. Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, the Road Warriors, and their manager Paul Ellering defeated The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and their manager JJ Dillon) when Dillon surrendered after being bloodied by the Road Warriors and Ellering.

26 years ago, Keith Franke, best known as "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, is one of three people killed in a single-car accident in Lewisporte, Newfoundland, Canada. Adonis was a AWA tag team champion with Jesse Ventura in 1980 and a WWF tag team champion with Dick Murdoch in 1984-85. Following the split with Murdoch, Adonis traded in his biker gear for pink gear and lots of make up, calling himself "Adorable". Adonis' most famous feud was against Rowdy Roddy Piper, culminating in a hair versus hair match at Wrestlemania III. Adonis, Victor Arko, and Dave McKingney were all killed in the accident when driver William Arko swerved off the road to avoid a moose, but the car careened into a lake. Arko was the lone survivor of the accident.

24 years ago, Ed Leslie (best known as Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake) suffered serious facial injuries while parasailing in Florida. It took more eight steel plates, forty screws, and more than a hundred staples to repair his face. The accident would have been fatal had it not been for B. Brian Blair, who was with Leslie at the time of the accident. Beefcake would make a full recovery, but would not return to the WWF until 1993. Leslie was rumored to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship at Summerslam the next month.

23 years ago today, former Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission physician Dr. George Zahorian III was found guilty on twelve counts of selling steroids, but found not guilty on two counts of steroid distribution charges. During the trial in Harrisburg, it's revealed he sold steroids to, among others, Vince McMahon, Roddy Piper, and Hulk Hogan. Zahorian is sentenced in April 1992 to 36 months in prison.


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21 years ago today, Lex Luger (via helicopter arrival) bodyslammed then-WWF Champion Yokozuna aboard the USS Intrepid in New York City. The slam kickstarted Luger's new All-American babyface gimmick designed to make him the heir apparent to Hulk Hogan. The slam sets up an angle that ultimately led to Luger versus Yokozuna at Summerslam.

20 years ago today, WWF referee Joey Marella, adopted son of Gorilla Monsoon, is killed in an auto accident on the New Jersey Turnpike while traveling from a WWF Superstars taping in Ocean City, Maryland. Marella is best known as the referee for the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant main event at Wrestlemania III.


9 years ago today, Shawn Michaels turns heel following a tag team victory in which he and Hogan defeated Kurt Angle and Carlito on RAW from Sacramento, California. The surprise Sweet Chin Music sets up an angle that ultimately led to an Icon vs. Icon match between Michaels and Hogan at Summerslam.

8 years ago today, The Big Show defeated Rob Van Dam in an extreme rules match to win the ECW World Championship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania just one day after Van Dam had lost the WWE Championship. Two days earlier, Van Dam was arrested on drug possession charges, and as a result would serve a thirty-day suspension for a violation of the WWE's wellness policy. Big Show's win makes him the first (and to this day, only) person to hold the WWF, WCW, and ECW world championships.

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