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This Day in Wrestling History (March 11)

51 years ago today, Antonio Inoki makes his professional wrestling debut in Honolulu, Hawaii.

22 years ago today, Adolfo Bresciano, best known to wrestling fans as Dino Bravo, was brutally murdered in his home in Vimont, Quebec, Canada. He was 44.

Born August 6, 1948 in Italy, Bresciano began wrestling in 1970 under the training of Gino Brito. Bresciano often teamed with his mentor as his billed cousin. Bresciano would adopt the name Dino Bravo, based on a 1960's wrestler who teamed with Dominic Denucci. His most notable tag team pairing of the time was with "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods, with whom he held the NWA World Tag Team Championship (Jim Crockett Promotions version).  He also feuded with Blackjack Mulligan over the United States championship and had several shots at Harley Race and the NWA world title.

In 1978, Bravo and Denucci captured the WWWF Tag Team Championship from Professor Tanaka and Mr. Fuji. The duo would hold them through the spring, losing them in June to the Yukon Lumberjacks. Bravo teamed with King Tonga (later known as Haku and Meng), but the duo never found success. Bravo quit the WWF in 1986 when a scheduled main event with he and Hulk Hogan was cancelled on short notice. The reason: allegedly, the WWF did not want the Montreal crowd to cheer Bravo over Hogan (Bravo by this point had become a major star in the Montreal area). When Bravo found out, he left.

He wouldn't stay gone for long. He was back a year later, and noticeably bigger (possibly due to steroids). He dyed his hair blond and was a part of Luscious Johnny Valiant's stable with Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and Brutus Beefcake. Beefcake was kicked from the stable at Wrestlemania III; a few months later, Bravo began a singles run.

His singles run emphasized Bravo as a strongman, eschewing technical wrestling for power-based maneuvers. Legitimately strong (it's been said he could lift more than 500 pounds), Bravo went after the bench press world record at the 1988 Royal Rumble by trying to bench press 715 pounds (at the time, the record was 705.5 pounds). With the help of Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Bravo claimed the lift was a success, and would begin calling himself "The World's Strongest Man". Bravo feuded with Don Muraco, fellow strongman Ken Patera, Ron Garvin, and Jim Garvin. Bravo for much of his strongman era wore the Quebecois Fleur-de-lis and was managed by Frenchy Martin. Following Martin's departure, Bravo joined Jimmy Hart's stable, teaming with another Canadian in Earthquake, and feuding with Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, and Tugboat.

After losing to Kerry Von Erich at Wrestlemania VII in 1991, he mostly disappeared from television, though he had a face run when the WWF came to Montreal. After a European tour in April 1992, Bravo called it a career. Post-retirement, he trained wrestlers in Montreal.

On March 10, 1993, Bresciano was found shot dead in his home while watching hockey in Vimont, Laval, Quebec. He was shot 17 times: seven in the head, and ten in the torso. Though there were allegations that he had been involved in a cigarette smuggling ring, it was never officially proven. Rick Martel, a fellow Canadian wrestler and friend of Bresciano, believes his popularity in the Montreal area upset some members of the mafia. Bresciano, a nephew of Montreal crime boss Vic Cotroni by marriage, may have been linked to Cotroni's organization. In the days prior to his death, Bresciano confided to friends that he knew his death was imminent. Bresciano's murder has never been officially solved.

22 years ago today in London, England, Sting defeated Big Van Vader to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

21 years ago today in Denver, Colorado, Royce Gracie defeated Patrick Smith by submission in just 77 seconds to win the second Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament. The tournament, retroactively named UFC 2: No Way Out, is noted for two things: the first event for famed referee "Big" John McCarthy (he's refereed for UFC for all but one year since), and for having the only 16-man tournament in UFC history.

19 years ago today on Nitro from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, The Steiner Brothers made their surprise return to WCW, but it was in a losing effort. They lost to The Road Warriors.

19 years ago today on RAW from San Antonio, Texas, Mark Henry made his WWF television debut in a pre-taped segment, during which he gorilla press slammed Jerry Lawler.

13 years ago today on RAW from Detroit, Michigan, The nWo (Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan) defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock in a three-on-two handicap match. This was the only time Hogan and Austin were in a match together in a WWF ring.

9 years ago today, Ring of Honor and Combat Zone Wrestling both held events at the New Alhambra Arena (the ECW Arena) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the conclusion of the second event, which saw Samoa Joe defeat Colt Cabana, a huge brawl between ROH and CZW wrestlers broke out.

8 years ago today, TNA presented Destination X from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.

  • The Latin American Xchange (Homicide and Hernandez) defeated Team 3D (Brother Ray and Brother Devon) in a Ghetto Brawl.
  • James Storm and Jacqueline Moore defeated Petey Williams and Gail Kim in a double bullrope match.
  • Senshi defeated Austin Starr in a "crossface chickenwing" match.
  • The Voodoo Kin Mafia (B.G. James and Kip James) defeated The Heartbreakers (Antonio Thomas and Romeo Roselli).
  • Chris Sabin defeated Jerry Lynn 2-1 in a best of three falls match to retain the X Division Championship.
  • Rhino defeated A.J. Styles in an Elevation X match.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Scott Steiner.
  • Sting defeated Abyss in a Last Rites match. During the match, there were very audible chants of "Fire Russo!", at the time the head of TNA creative.
  • Christian Cage defeated Samoa Joe to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

8 years ago today in a battle royal in Japan, the Dramatic Dream Team (DDT) Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship, a championship similar to the WWF's Hardcore Championship during the 24/7 era, changes hands 25 times in one event. Sempai entered the event as champion, but during the battle royal, Naoshi Sano wins it six times, Yuki Miyazaki wins it six times, Taneichi Kacho wins it three times, Kikutaro wins it four times, Naomi Susan wins it once, and Exciting Yoshida wins it twice, holding it last when the time expired. Shortly after the battle royal ended, a ladder fell on top of Yoshida, and the referee counted the fall for the ladder, making the ladder that fell on him the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Champion. It's not the first time this has happened: a ladder claimed the title from Yoshihiro Sakai and Sansiro Takagi in separate instances in 2003.  The ladder actually has a decent run as champion, holding it for three weeks before losing it to Cocolo, a dog. It's also not the first inanimate object to win the title: stuffed dolls, posters, even the belt itself has been DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Champion during its 15-year history. The current champion as of this writing is famed joshi wrestler Aja Kong, who won the title on February 15. For the record, the record for most title changes during a single event is 30, all occurring on December 14, 2000.

7 years ago today, WWE announces that Jeff Hardy had been suspended for 60 days following his second violation of the WWE's Wellness Policy. His first violation came back in July 2007, just weeks after the death of Chris Benoit, but before the Signature Pharmacy scandal that resulted in ten suspensions in September. Hardy is the first wrestler of consequence to be suspended after the policy was amended the previous November to include that violators' names would be made public. The suspension obviously meant Hardy would miss Wrestlemania XXIV, where he was the prohibitive favorite to win the Money in the Bank ladder match.

6 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, former Xtreme Pro Wrestling owner Rob Zicari and his wife Janet Romano, aka Rob Black and Lizzy Borden, pleads guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to distribute obscene materials. Zicari also plead guilty to one count of the same charge on behalf of his video company. The indictment back in 2003 stemmed from a 2002 film featuring his wife that had scenes of simulated rape. The raid and subsequent obscenity charges would contribute to the shutdown of XPW in 2003. Facing a maximum of fifty years in prison and five million dollars in fines, Zicari and Romano were sentenced to a year and one day in federal prison in July 2009. Today, Zicari and his wife host a podcast and calls himself a "porn whistleblower", exposing secrets of the business.

6 years ago today, former WWF Intercontinental Champion, NWA world champion, and mixed martial arts legend Ken Shamrock was suspended for one year and fined $2,500 by the California State Athletic Commission after he was found to have tested positive for three different types of steroids. The ruling comes less than two weeks before Shamrock was set to face Bobby Lashley in a MMA/boxing event in Pensacola, Florida. Shamrock denied taking steroids, but admitted to doing such in a 2014 interview.

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