46 years ago today, NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dory Funk, Jr. and Antonio Inoki fight to a 60-minute draw in the first NWA world title match in Japan since 1957.
41 years ago today in Kagoshima, Japan, Giant Baba defeated Jack Brisco 2-1 in a best of three falls match to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He would lose it just one week later back to Brisco.
18 years ago today, British wrestling legend Big Daddy dies of a stroke in Halifax General Hospital in is hometown of Halifax, England. He was 67.
Born Shirley Crabtree on November 14, 1930, he was a former Rugby League player who rarely saw the pitch due to his fiery temper. He was a coal miner and served as part of the Coldstream Guards of the British Army before following in his father's footsteps and becoming a professional wrestler.
Shirley began his career in 1952; by the end of the decade, the man known as Blond Adonis Shirley Crabtree's strength and physique made him one of the most popular blue-eyes (babyfaces) in Britain. He won Joint Production's European Heavyweight Championship and a portion of the British Heavyweight Championship before harassment from former champion Bert Assirati drove Crabtree to quit in 1966.
Shirley would return to Joint Productions in 1972 as the heel Battling Guardsman, based on his time in the British Army with the Coldstreams. His once chiseled physique had deteriorated during his time away, unfortunately just in time for his first appearances for ITV's World of Sport. (It did land him in the Guinness Book of World Records for his 64-inch chest) Fortunately for Shirley, his brother Max, who had been one of the bookers for Joint Promotions, tweaked his gimmick.
Based on a character in the film adaptation of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Shirley Crabtree would become known as Big Daddy in 1974, but it wasn't until 1975 when Big Daddy got some serious attention. He would team with newcomer Giant Haystacks and would dominate the sport, crushing blue-eye opponents. Big Daddy late in the year would enter a feud with the notorious Kendo Nagasaki late in the year, even unmasking him briefly, albeit in a losing effort. The feud would garner him cheers, and he would slowly turn blue eye, cementing it in 1977 when his partnership with Giant Haystacks broke up. The duo would feud for more than a decade. Crabtree also feuded with Dave "Fit" Finlay, Drew McDonald, and Mighty John Quinn, while he teamed with future stars including Sammy Lee, Chris Adams, and Dynamite Kid.
Crabtree as a babyface made him a favorite particularly among children and elderly women (and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher). He would enter with a sequined cape or a Union Flag jacket and top hat. Like Shawn Michaels would do more a decade later, Shirley recorded his own entrance theme in 1980, "We Shall Not Be Moved" originally performed by The Seekers. He had a simple wrestling style similar to many monster heels, relying on throws and body slams and finishing with his "Big Splash", much to the delight of crowds chanting "Easy, easy!" He was so popular, a Saturday morning television show was being built around him, but had to pull out on his doctor's advice (at the height of his popularity, Shirley weighted about 375 pounds).
Tragedy befell Crabtree in 1987; during a tag team match with his nephew Steve, after performing his trademark splash on King Kong Kirk, Kirk turned an unhealthy color and had to be rushed to a hospital. Kirk was pronounced dead on arrival. The death devastated Crabtree, even though an autopsy showed he was not responsible for his death (Kirk had an undiagnosed heart condition). The next year, ITV would cancel Joint Productions Wrestling, citing the show was not representative of their new image. He continued to make regular appearances until 1993, usually only in tag team bouts.
Shirley at the time of his death was survived by his wife of 31 years, Eunice and six children. Shirley also had a brother and three nephews in the wrestling business at the time of his death.
15 years ago today, WWF presented Rebellion (WWE Network link) from the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England. The UK-exclusive event was released on WWF home video on February 27, 2001.
- The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) defeated Edge and Christian and T & A (Test and Albert) in a three-team elimination tables match.
- Edge & Christian eliminated Albert after pulling him off the top rope.
- The Dudleyz eliminated Christian after a 3D.
- Ivory defeated Lita to retain the WWF Womens Championship.
- Steve Blackman defeated Perry Saturn to retain the WWF Hardcore Championship.
- Crash Holly defeated William Regal to win the WWF European Championship.
- Chyna and Billy Gunn defeated Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero.
- Kane defeated Chris Jericho.
- Bull Buchanan and The Goodfather defeated The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy) to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
- The Undertaker defeated Chris Benoit.
- Kurt Angle defeated Rikishi, Steve Austin, and The Rock in a fatal four-way match to retain the WWF Championship.
8 years ago today, TNA presented Turning Point from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando. The show is remembered for not only for the promotion's first "Feast or Fired" match (a match with four cases hanging on poles, three containing title shots and one containing a pink slip; whoever drew the fired case would of course be "fired"), but for Samoa Joe's shoot just before the main event, drawn primarily from Scott Hall's failure to appear at the event.
- Johnny Devine and Team 3D (Brother Ray and Brother Devon) defeated Jay Lethal and The Motor City Machineguns (Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley) in a tables match.
- Velvet-Love Entertainment (Angelina Love and Velvet Sky) defeated ODB and Roxxi Laveaux.
- Eric Young defeated James Storm.
- Scott Steiner, Senshi, B.G. James, and Petey Williams each won a Feast or Fired briefcase. Other participants were Shark Boy, Lance Hoyt, Christopher Daniels, Elix Skipper, Homicide, Hernandez, Kip James, Jimmy Rave, Chris Harris, and Sonjay Dutt.
- Petey Williams won the world title briefcase, but would lose it to Scott Steiner. Steiner lost his world title match.
- Scott Steiner won the X Division title briefcase, but gave it to Petey Williams a few months later. Williams would win the X Division title with his cash-in. Steiner would get the world title case, but would lose his title match.
- BG James won the tag team title briefcase, but lost the tag title match.
- Senshi won the Fired briefcase, but would lose it to Christopher Daniels. Daniels wound up being fired when the contents were revealed.
- Gail Kim defeated Awesome Kong by disqualification to retain the TNA Womens Championship.
- Abyss and Raven defeated Black Reign and Relik in a Match of 10,000 Tacks.
- Kaz and Booker T defeated Christian Cage and Robert Roode.
- Samoa Joe, Kevin Nash, and Eric Young defeated The Angle Alliance (Kurt Angle, A.J. Styles and Tomko).
5 years ago today, Hassan Hamin Assad, born Alvin Burke, Jr., aka MVP, asks for and is given his release from WWE. He would end up in New Japan Pro Wrestling as the first ever IWGP Intercontinental Champion. More recently, he joined TNA in 2014, but would leave earlier this year following the fallout of Hernandez leaving Lucha Underground for TNA will still under contract with the Mark Burnett outfit.
It's a happy 49th birthday for Kensuke Shinzaki, best known to wrestling fans as Jinsei Shinzaki and Hakushi.
A pioneer of the luchador style that would be embraced worldwide in the mid-1990s, Shinzaki began with Universal Lucha Libre in 1991 as the masked Mongolian Yuga. He unmasked when he joined Great Sasuke's Michinoku Pro Wrestling in 1993 and adopted the name Jinsei.
In 1994, he joined the WWF as Hakushi, meaning White Death or White Master. Defeating mostly jobbers in his early run, he briefly feuded with Bret Hart in 1995 and Barry Horowitz and Bodydonna Skip in 1996. Horowitz, a career jobber on WWF programming, distracted Skip, leading to Horowitz's first televised win. Horowitz also defeated Hakushi, which was surprising to many fans considering that he looked to be in good standing following his Hart feud.
After leaving the WWF and a brief stint in ECW, he returned to his native Japan. Shinzaki took over Michinoku Pro Wrestling as the promotion's president in 2003 when Great Sasuke devoted more of his time to his political career. Shinzaki is also a co-founder of Sendai Girls' Pro Wrestling along with joshi Meiko Satomura.
Following the 2011 tsunami that devastated his country, he traveled around the Tohoku region delivering food and drinks. That same year, he returned to the States and along with Dick Togo and Great Sasuke made it to the semifinals of the Chikara King of Trios tournament, losing to FIST (Chuck Taylor, Icarus, and Johnny Gargano).