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This Day in Pro Wrestling History (August 14)

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15 years ago today in Toledo, Ohio, Balls Mahoney and Spike Dudley defeat The Dudley Boys (Buh Buh Ray and D-Von) to win the ECW World Tag Team Championships just one day after losing the titles to the Dudleys in Cleveland. The match was originally taped for the debut episode of ECW on TNN, but never made it to air. The match can be found on the rare ECW DVD release, Extreme Evolution.

15 years ago today, WCW presented Road Wild (WWE Network link) from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. 5,500 were in attendance for the free event, with 235,000 homes watching on PPV. In a sign that hard times have hit WCW, the number of buys is down from 365,000 buys just one year earlier. It is the final PPV of the Eric Bischoff era as head of WCW. The mounting losses in revenue would force Bischoff from his management position just two days before Fall Brawl. It is also the final Road Wild PPV, as it would be replaced with New Blood Rising the next year.

  • Rey Mysterio, Jr., Billy Kidman and Eddie Guerrero defeated Vampiro and The Insane Clown Posse (Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope).
  • Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) defeated Kanyon and Bam Bam Bigelow to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
  • The Revolution (Saturn, Shane Douglas and Dean Malenko) defeated The West Texas Rednecks (Barry Windham, Curt Hennig and Bobby Duncum, Jr.).
  • Buff Bagwell defeated Ernest Miller.
  • Chris Benoit defeated Diamond Dallas Page in a no disqualification match to retain the WCW United States Championship.
  • Sid Vicious defeated Sting.
  • Goldberg defeated Rick Steiner.
  • Randy Savage defeated Dennis Rodman.
  • Hulk Hogan defeated Kevin Nash in a retirement match to retain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. As a result of the loss, Nash was forced to retire. (He would return two months later.)

14 years ago today, three championships change hands on WCW Monday Nitro, but only one of the three titles changed hands in a match. The Filthy Animals (Rey Mysterio, Jr. and Juventud Guerrera) defeat The Dark Carnival (Vampiro and The Great Muta) to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship. Lance Storm, at the time WCW United States, Cruiserweight, and Hardcore Champion (at the same time), gives two of his titles away. Elix Skipper is awarded the Cruiserweight Championship, and Carl Ouelette is awarded the Hardcore Championship, though Carl would lose the title later in the show to Norman Smiley.

9 years ago today, Masahiro Chono defeated Kazuyuki Fujita in the final match to win the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax tournament for the fifth time.

9 years ago today, TNA presented Sacrifice (pay link) from the Impact Zone at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. The show featured the finals of the Super X Cup tournament to determine the challenger for Christopher Daniels' X Division Championship at Unbreakable in September.

  • Preshow: Apolo & Sonny Siaki defeated Jerelle Clark & Mikey Batts
  • Chris Sabin, Shark Boy & Sonjay Dutt defeated David Young, Elix Skipper & Simon Diamond.
  • Alex Shelley defeated Shocker.
  • Abyss (w/ James Mitchell) defeated Lance Hoyt.
  • 3 Live Kru (Konnan & Ron Killings) defeated Kip James & Monty Brown in a Tag Team Match with Special Guest Referee BG James.
  • Christopher Daniels defeated Austin Aries.
  • Jerry Lynn defeated Sean Waltman.
  • Team Canada (A1, Bobby Roode, Eric Young & Petey Williams) defeated America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm) & The Naturals (Andy Douglas & Chase Stevens).
  • Samoa Joe defeated AJ Styles in the Super X Cup Final.
  • Jeff Jarrett & Rhino defeated Raven & Sabu. As a result of the win, Jeff Jarrett would get a shot at Raven's NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Had Jarrett and Rhino lost, Jarrett could not challenge for the title for an entire year, regardless of who was champion.

8 years ago today on an episode of RAW from Charlottesville, Virginia, Lita defeated Mickie James to win the WWE Championship for the third time.

5 years ago today, Nick Dinsmore, aka Eugene, was released from WWE just one week after returning to the company.

3 years ago today, Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Tetsuya Naito in the final match to win the NJPW G1 Climax tournament.

3 years ago today, WWE presented Summerslam (WWE Network link) from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. A sellout crowd of 17,404 were in attendance, with 296,000 homes purchasing the event on PPV. That was down from 350,000 in 2010.

  • In a preshow dark match, Dolph Ziggler defeated Alex Riley
  • Kofi Kingston, John Morrison and Rey Mysterio defeated The Miz, R-Truth and Alberto Del Rio.
  • Mark Henry defeated Sheamus by countout.
  • Kelly Kelly defeated Beth Phoenix to retain the WWE Divas Championship.
  • Wade Barrett defeated Daniel Bryan.
  • Randy Orton defeated Christian in a no holds barred match to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • CM Punk defeated John Cena in a title-for-title match to win the undisputed WWE Championship. Triple H was the special referee.
  • Alberto Del Rio defeated CM Punk to win the undisputed WWE Championship. Del Rio used his Money in the Bank cash-in for the title match.

2 years ago today, WWE taped the first ever Saturday Morning Slam match in Austin, Texas. For the record, Kofi Kingston defeated Heath Slater.

Today's the 33rd birthday of Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah, aka Kofi Kingston. Born in Kumasi, Ghana, he and his family immigrated to the United States less than two years after he was born and grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. Shortly after graduating from Boston College, he trained to become a professional wrestler. He made his pro wrestling debut in February 2006 and signed a WWE developmental contract just seven months later while working the New England independent circuit. He worked for Deep South Wrestling in Georgia and Kentucky-based Ohio Valley Wrestling before moving to new developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling for the second half of 2007. He debuted on WWE television for ECW in December 2007 as Jamacian-born Kofi Kingston. He would go undefeated in singles competition until a loss in May 2008 to Shelton Benjamin. Kingston was drafted to RAW in the 2008 Supplemental Draft, and in his first match on the RAW roster, Kingston would a championship for the first time, the WWE Intercontinental Championship from Chris Jericho. Kingston would win the World Tag Team Championship with CM Punk late in the year. Over the next five years, he would win the Intercontinental Championship three more times, the United States Championship three times, and have two runs as WWE tag team champion. Kingston has also displayed his world class athleticism, using the environment around him to avoid eliminations in the battle royals, using the barricade, steel steps, chairs, even walking on his hands (which garnered him a Slammy in 2012).  Here's a tribute from Youtuber Lavs.

Today's the 52nd birthday of Jeff Farmer. Born in New York City, he began his career as "Lightning" Jeff Farmer in the early 1990s, even feuding with Harlem Heat for a brief period in 1993 for WCW as one half of Thunder and Lightning. He returned to WCW in 1995 as Cobra, a military officer who was abandoned, then reported as AWOL by Sgt. Craig Pittman. The two traded victories in their short feud. His big break came as nWo Sting in 1996 and was even a part of the War Games match at Fall Brawl pitting the nWo versus the Horsemen and the real Sting. He gained popularity as a member of nWo Japan and later TEAM 2000 as Super J. He used the nWo Sting gimmick until well into the 2000s, even winning the Ultimate Pro Wrestling heavyweight championship in 2005. Farmer, now a project manager for a research group at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, became something of an Internet meme in recent years as his promo for a match with Motley Cruz for IPW is regarded as the worst wrestling promo of all time.

Today would have been the 53rd birthday of Thomas Edward "Eddie" Gilbert, Jr, aka "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert. Born in Lexington, Tennessee, Gilbert always had a love for wrestling. He began his career in 1979 as Tommy Gilbert Jr. in honor of his father. He would make up booking sheets and matches like his idol Jerry Lawler while Gilbert was in school. He had a cup of coffee in the WWF in the early 1980s, but a serious car accident derailed his push in 1983. He would return to the company with the inspiration of then-WWF Champion Bob Backlund. After leaving the WWF, he would wrestle for Mid-South and CWA Wrestling as Eddie Gilbert. Gilbert and Tommy Rich as "Fargo's Fabulous Ones" would win the AWA Southern Tag Team Championship. After splitting up, the duo had a brief but intense feud before Gilbert left for the Universal Wrestling Federation in 1986, where Gilbert arguably had his greatest successes. "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert, he formed Hot Stuff International, Inc., which included a young Sting, Rick Steiner, Ultimate Warrior, Dick Murdoch, and Missy Hyatt all before they were big names. In fact, Gilbert married Missy in 1988.  As a booker, Gilbert was the brains behind the infamous Battle of New Orleans in 1987.  Gilbert won best booker for Wrestling Observer Newsletter in 1988. He would remain with UWF until Jim Crockett Promotions bought UWF in 1989. During his brief time with JCP, he would feud with the Varsity Club and the Horsemen while teaming with Rick Steiner, Ricky Steamboat, and Lex Luger. After leaving WCW, he divorced Missy and returned to the independent circuit, most notably the USWA where he feuded with his idol Jerry Lawler and in the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance, a precursor to ECW. He also briefly married Madusa in 1990. He and Doug Gilbert also worked for the Global Wrestling Federation, but left in 1992 as their North American Heavyweight Champion due to a contract dispute. His final wrestling and booking days came in 1995 for Puerto Rico's World Wrestling Council. Gilbert is also credited with pioneering the wrestling shoot video when he sat down with Bob Barnett after leaving ECW. The video, Looking for Mr. Gilbert, is highly sought after among wrestling collectors. Gilbert died of a heart attack in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico in February 1995. He was just 33 years old.

Today's the 65th birthday of Robert Lee "Bob" Backlund. Born in Princeton, Minnesota, he was a phenomenal athlete in high school and college. He was a state finalist in wrestling, and a two-sport All-American as a college freshman. Wrestling for Waldorf Junior College in Forest City, IA, he finished in the top three in his freshman and sophomore years at 190 pounds before winning the Division II national championship at the same weight for North Dakota Sate in 1971. He finished 5th in the Division II Nationals in 1972. He debuted for the AWA in 1973 under the training of Eddie Sharkey, and Backlund's clean cut demeanor and superior technique quickly made him a fan favorite. He would work various territories for the NWA from 1974-1976, winning tag team championships in Georgia and Florida, and defeating Harley Race for the NWA Missouri Heavyweight title in 1976. Backlund joined the WWWF in 1977 and under the management of Arnold Skaaland, he quickly found himself in contention for the WWWF Championship against Superstar Billy Graham. He chased Graham throughout the year, but finally won the title in February 1978. Just days after winning the title, he fought NWA world champion Harley Race to a one-hour draw. He would take on world champions of other promotions including AWA's Nick Bockwinkel, Race, Ric Flair, NWF's Antonio Inoki, and NWA Florida Champion Don Muraco. Backlund also won the WWF tag team championship with Pedro Morales, but under the WWF's "one person, one belt" rule at the time, the titles were vacated. Bob would also find success overseas, as he and Inoki won the MSG Tag Team League tournament in 1980, defeating Hulk Hogan and Stan Hansen in the final (Backlund and Inoki never lost a match, winning seven of nine matches; the other two went to double countout). Backlund's schitck was wearing thin with fans late in his run, especially after cutting his hair and losing his muscle mass. Vince McMahon looked to get the title on new acquisition Hulk Hogan, but when Backlund decided against turning heel (and dropping the title outright to Hogan), he had dropped the title to The Iron Sheik. Bob would never again get another shot at the WWF title in his initial run, leaving the company in August 1984. After a brief run in Pro Wrestling USA, he went into semi-retirement, coaching amateur wrestling in Connecticut. Backlund returned to a very different WWF in 1992. He toiled in the midcard, but had a standout performance in the 1993 Royal Rumble match, going an hour and 70 before being eliminated by the eventual winner, Yokozuna. He would turn heel following a match on WWF Superstars in 1994 against then world champion Bret Hart. He slapped Hart and applied the crossface chickenwing submission hold, only to snap back to normal horrified at what he'd done. The eccentric gimmick would lead him to the WWF Championship at Survivor Series that November. He'd lose it just three days later in Madison Square Garden to Diesel. To date, it's the last time the WWF Championship changed hands at a house show. Backlund never again reached main event status for the WWF, notably submitting in an "I Quit" match at Wrestlemania XI to his own submission hold against Bret Hart. He would make sporadic appearances for the company in 2000, late in 2007 (after spending the first half of that year in TNA), and in 2012 and 2013. Backlund was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 2004, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2008, and the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

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