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This Day in Wrestling History (March 13)

29 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, Riki Choshu defeated Mitsuharu Misawa, then wrestling as Tiger Mask II, at an All Japan Wrestling event in Budokan Hall. This was the first meeting between two men who would go down as among the greatest in Japanese wrestling history.

15 years ago today on RAW is WAR from East Rutherford, New Jersey, Dean Malenko defeated Essa Rios to win the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship. Earlier the same day, Pete Gas defeated Crash Holly at Newark Airport to win the WWF Hardcore Championship, but during RAW, Crash would win it back from Pete. Malenko would hold it for all but eight of the next 365 days.

14 years ago today at a Sunday Night Heat taping in Anaheim, California, Crash Holly defeated Dean Malenko to win the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship. The win ends Malenko's 322-day run as champion, the second longest in the history of the second version of the championship (#1 goes to Duane Gill who held it for 453 days from November 1998 to February 2000).

11 years ago today, WWE held their Hall of Fame Ceremony at The Hilton in New York City. It would be the first Hall of Fame Ceremony for the company since 1996. The ceremony has since become a yearly tradition thanks to the successful DVD release of the event. The 2004 class included Jesse Ventura, Don Muraco, Tito Santana, Superstar Billy Graham, Sgt. Slaughter, Greg Valentine, Bobby Heenan, Harley Race, Pete Rose, and posthumous inductions Big John Studd and The Junkyard Dog.

8 years ago today, wrestling legend Arnold Skaaland passed away died of natural causes in his hometown of White Plains, New York. He was 82.

Born January 21, 1925 in White Plains, New York, Skaaland served in the US Marines during World War II. After a failed boxing career, Skaaland tried his hand at professional wrestling. He debuted under his real name in 1946, but was billed from Norway. He was given the nickname "The Golden Boy" for his using his agility, speed, and wits rather than strength and power. He wrestled as Bobby Weaver in Georgia in the late 1950s, and in the early 1960s, challenged both Pat O'Connor and Buddy Rogers for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, but was unsuccessful. In 1962, he refereed a bout between Freddie Blassie and Rikidozan in Japan.

The next year, Skaaland joined the New York-based World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). In 1967, he became one-half of the United States Tag Team Champions with Spiros Arion when Spiros' regular partner Tony Parisi had to vacate his half due to injury. His lone championship reign didn't last long; they lost them just six weeks later to the Sicilians (Lou Albano and Tony Altimore). Skaaland wasn't just wrestling for the company; he was a shareholder and one of Vince McMahon Sr.'s right-hand men, serving as an agent for Andre the Giant and producing shows in Westchester County in New York.

Skaaland managed two WWF champions in Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund. Skaaland turned to managing full-time in 1978 around the time of Backlund's title win; though Arnold would step in the ring in the event of an emergency. Arnold perhaps is best known for throwing in the towel on Backlund's behalf on December 26, 1983 when Iron Sheik had Backlund trapped in the camel clutch to win the WWF Championship.

Arnold makes a cameo appearance in the 1987 music video, "Piledriver", the title track for Piledriver: The Wrestling Album 2 (he's next to Koko B. Ware as a foreman). In 1994, Skaaland was one of seven men inducted into the inaugural full class of the WWF Hall of Fame.

Skaaland died with his wife at his side on March 13, 2007. At the time of his death, he was survived by his wife, three sons, and four grandchildren.

6 years ago today. Andrew Robert Patrick Martin, best known as Test, was found dead in his home in Tampa, Florida. He was just 33.

Born St. Patrick's Day 1975 in Whitby, Ontario, Canada, he broke into the wrestling business after a meeting with Bret Hart at a restaurant. For the next eight months, Martin trained under Hart and another famed Canadian wrestler, Leo Burke. Martin debuted in 1997 on the Canadian independent circuit and wrestled as Martin Kane and TJ Thunder. He continued his training at Dory Funk, Jr.'s Funkin' Dojo in Ocala, Florida.

With just a year of wrestling experience, Martin made his WWF debut in October 1998 on Sunday Night Heat as a bodyguard for rock band Motley Crue (the group performed during the same taping). In a scripted event, Martin threw a fan trying to rush the stage. Six weeks later, he made his RAW is WAR debut as Test (short for Testosterone), assisting The Rock in attacking Triple H. The newest member of the Corporation stable made his in-ring debut a week later. His first PPV came at the 1999 Royal Rumble, with his first Wrestlemania coming two months later in an unsuccessful effort to win the tag team titles with D-Lo Brown from Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett. On the same show, Test had a hand in Shane McMahon retaining the WWF European Championship against X-Pac.

And it would be Shane McMahon that kicked Test from the Corporation. Test, along with ex-Corporation members Ken Shamrock, Mankind, and Big Show formed The Union and briefly feuded with their old stable. With Mankind out due to injury, the group quietly disbanded soon after.

Around this time, Test began (in storyline) to date Stephanie Mcmahon. With Stephanie's brother Shane disapproving of the relationship, the two feuded, with Test coming out on top. Test and Stephanie were engaged to be married, but a case of amnesia put the wedding on hold briefly. Two months later, on the night of their wedding, Triple H revealed that he had married a drugged-up Stephanie in Las Vegas. It would turn out to be a ruse that both Triple H and Stephanie were in on, ushering in the McMahon-Helmsley Era.

After briefly feuding with and being broken by Triple H and D-Generation X, Test turned heel and joined Albert and Trish Stratus to form T&A. Though the duo had a few notable wins (over Head Cheese at Wrestlemania 2000 and Backlash later in the month over the Dudley Boyz), the duo never won the tag titles before breaking up in January 2001. He had a brief run as WWF European Champion, winning it the night after the 2001 Royal Rumble from William Regal and losing it at Wrestlemania X-Seven to Eddie Guerrero.

Test would be a central figure in the Invasion storyline. After being falsely accused and beaten by the Acolytes for being a mole for the Alliance, Test would cost them the WWF tag titles in August 2001 and join the Alliance. Test would win some tag team gold himself the next month, teaming with Booker T to defeat The Brothers of Destruction (Undertaker & Kane) to win the WCW tag team titles. They'd lose them just 11 days later to The Hardyz. The duo would win the WWF tag titles from The Rock & Chris Jericho, but again lost them just 11 days later to the Hardy Boyz.

Test soon returned to singles competition, feuding with Edge over the Intercontinental and United States championships. Though he lost the unification match at Survivor Series, Test won an Immunity Battle Royal on the show, preventing him from being fired for a year. The story went nowhere, as it was dropped in the new year.

Test meandered for the next few months, but made it to the semifinals of the 2002 King of the Ring tournament, losing to eventual winner Brock Lesnar. That summer, Test along with Christian and Lance Storm formed The Un-Americans, a group of wrestlers who felt mistreated by Americans. The group added William Regal, but was dispatched by Undertaker at Summerslam, and disbanded following an eight-man tag team match in September 2002.

In the fall of 2002, Stacy Keibler became Test's on-screen girlfriend and "image consultant", referring to Test's fanbase as "Testicles" (like The Rock's "people" and Hulk Hogan's "Hulkamaniacs"). Test cut his hair short and began wearing trunks. In early 2003, Test teamed with, then feuded with, Scott Steiner. Test would lose, then regain, Stacy's managerial services, and briefly, won Scott as a manservant, but when Scott attacked Stacy post-match, the team reformed. The team split again when Mick Foley in his brief run as general manager of RAW fired them both, freeing Stacy from her obligation to them. In a side nugget, around this time Test and Stacy had an real-life relationship; The duo would be rehired by Eric Bischoff, but never won the tag titles together. Test would spend most of the first half of 2004 on Sunday Night Heat. In July 2004, Martin underwent spinal fusion surgery; four months after the surgery, Martin was released. Martin was promised a look when he was fully healed from surgery, but at the time, his release was not well-received among the roster and wrestling pundits. In a curious oddity, Test's first tag team partner, Albert, was released on the same day.

Martin returned to the ring in May 2005 and worked the independent circuit, most notably as "Big Foot" in Italy-based Nu Wrestling Evolution. He even defeated Samoa Joe during his time on the indies.

WWE made good on their promise to bring Martin back (though he was quite critical of WWE's medical practices and the use of Eddie Guerrero post-mortem), and in March 2006, Martin returned under his old gimmick Test. He worked dark matches for RAW and Smackdown before being assigned to the ECW brand in July 2007. He was a part of the ECW New Breed vs. Originals feud that spanned most of the year. His high point during his ECW run came at December to Dismember when he eliminated Hardcore Holly and Rob Van Dam in the Extreme Elimination Chamber match before being defeated by the eventual winner, Bobby Lashley. After failing twice in January to win the ECW world title from Lashley, he was taken off television-for good. Turned out he had violated the WWE's Wellness Policy, garnering him a 30-day suspension. A week into his suspension, Martin was released, after which he released a statement saying he requested his release. During his second run in WWE, Martin was in a relationship with Barbie Blank, aka Kelly Kelly, though the two split about two months before his death. Andrew once credited Barbie with saving his life when he had a medical emergency.

Martin had a brief run in TNA as "The Punisher" Andrew Martin, but worked without a contract. He worked one match for the company, a Doomsday Chamber of Blood match at Hard Justice in 2007 where he, Abyss, and Sting defeated Christian's Coalition (Christian Cage, Tomko, and AJ Styles). With TNA concerned about his locker room demeanor and his physique (the company was being investigated by the United States Congress in the wake of the death of Chris Benoit), Martin was released.

Andrew announced his retirement from wrestling in December 2007, but actually continued to make appearances and was slated to do a European tour just before his death.

Martin was found dead in his home in Tampa, Florida on March 13, 2009, just four days shy of his 34th birthday. Police were called after a neighbor spotted through a window that Martin had been motionless for several hours through a window outside his condo. Police retrieved the body and believed he may have actually been dead for some time. His death was ruled as an accidental overdose of oxycodone. It was later determined that Martin had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the same form of brain damage that Chris Benoit suffered prior to his death a few months earlier. His body was cremated, with the remains sent to his family in his hometown of Whitby, Ontario, Canada.

4 years ago today, WWE announces Drew Carey would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The induction was more of a promotional deal, as around the time the Price is Right host was promoting a new series for the Game Show Network...a series that would last all of eight weeks.

4 years ago today, TNA presented Victory Road from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando. The show was noted for its short main event. The event won Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Worst Major Show award for that year. In the days that followed, Jeff Hardy was indefinitely suspended from the company, and TNA offered fans who ordered the show six free months of TNA on Demand.

  • Tommy Dreamer defeated Bully Ray in a no disqualification, falls count anywhere match.
  • Rosita and Sarita defeated Angelina Love and Winter to win the TNA Knockouts Tag Team Championship.
  • Hernandez defeated Matt Morgan in a first blood match.
  • Kazarian defeated Robbie E, Jeremy Buck, and Max Buck in a Ultimate X Match to retain the TNA X-Division Championship.
  • Beer Money Inc. defeated Ink Inc. to retain the TNA World Tag Team Championship.
  • A.J. Styles defeated Matt Hardy.
  • Mr. Anderson and Rob Van Dam fought to a double countout to determine the #1 contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Sting defeated Jeff Hardy in just 88 seconds to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

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