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This Day in Wrestling History (April 25)

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35 years ago today, the WWF and NWA world heavyweight championships were defended in the same building. The Kiel Auditorium played host to the title bouts. WWF Champion Bob Backlund defeated Bulldog Bob Brown to retain his championship, and NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race successfully defended against Ric Flair. On the same show, Ken Patera defeated Kevin Von Erich to win the NWA Missouri Championship.

32 years ago today in New York City, Jimmy Snuka defeated Superstar Billy Graham. This was Graham's last major appearance for the WWF. A few days earlier, he was rushed to a hospital following an overdose of pills. Graham left for the AWA a few weeks later, and would not return to the WWF until 1987.

26 years ago, WWF taped the 21st Saturday Night's Main Event (WWE Network link) from Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa. The episode aired May 27.

  • King Hacksaw Jim Duggan defeated Rick Rude by countout in a WWF Intercontinental Championship match.
  • Randy Savage defeated Jim Neidhart.
  • Hulk Hogan defeated The Big Boss Man in a steel cage match to retain the WWF Championship. Prior to the match, Hogan was attacked by Tiny "Zeus" Lister (who appeared in the movie No Holds Barred) to set up a storyline that would run for the remainder of the year.
  • The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard) defeated Demolition (Ax & Smash) by disqualification in a WWF Tag Team Championship match.
  • Jimmy Snuka defeated Boris Zuhkov. This was Snuka's first appearance in the WWF after a three-year absence.

23 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jimmy Snuka defeated Sal Bellomo to become the first ECW heavyweight champion. The promotion at the time was known as Eastern Championship Wrestling and would be a part of the NWA until their very public breakup in August 1994.

16 years ago today, WWF presented In Your House 28: Backlash (WWE Network link) from the Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island. 10,939 were in attendance, with 398,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 309,000 homes from the April 1998 event, In Your House: Unforgiven. This would be the final WWF PPV to be presented under the In Your House banner, as non-Big Five events were given permanent names following the event. The show's hook was a series of matches that stemmed from the events from and after Wrestlemania XV, thus the name "Backlash".

Sunday Night Heat matches:

  • Val Venis & Nicole Bass defeated D'Lo Brown & Ivory.
  • Droz & Albert defeated Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor.
  • Kane defeated The Big Bossman.
  • Viscera defeated Test.

PPV matches:

  • The Ministry of Darkness (Bradshaw, Faarooq & Mideon) defeated The Brood (Christian, Edge & Gangrel).
  • Al Snow defeated Hardcore Holly to win the WWF Hardcore Championship.
  • The Godfather defeated Goldust to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
  • The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & Road Dogg) defeated Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart.
  • Mankind defeated The Big Show in a Boiler Room Brawl.
  • Triple H defeated X-Pac.
  • The Undertaker defeated Ken Shamrock.
  • Steve Austin defeated The Rock in a no holds barred match to retain the WWF Championship. Shane McMahon was the special referee, but it was referee Earl Hebner that counted the fall.

15 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dean Malenko defeated Scotty 2 Hotty to win the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship. On the same show, Crash Holly defeated Matt Hardy to win the WWF Hardcore Championship. But the show's most remembered for Steve Austin's first appearance on WWF programming since being undergoing neck surgery the previous November. He used a crane to drop a steel beam on the DX Express tour bus, crushing the bus in the parking lot and somehow blowing it up. The full episode is here courtesy of WWE Network.

15 years ago today at a WCW Thunder taping in Syracuse, New York, David Arquette defeated Eric Bischoff to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. No, Bischoff wasn't the champion, but the belt was on the line in a tag team match between Diamond Dallas Page (the champion) and Arquette versus Jeff Jarrett and Bischoff. Kimberly Page was the special referee. As Arquette got the deciding fall in the match, he won the belt. The title change was seen by many as a (or the) death blow for WCW's credibility, as they had put their top championship on an actor. Arquette to his credit donated his earnings from his brief run as WCW champion to the families of the late Brian Pillman, the late Owen Hart, and Darren Drozdov.

5 years ago today, WWE presented Extreme Rules (WWE Network link) from the First Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. 12,278 were in attendance, with 182,000 homes watching on PPV. That's about the same number as the April 2009 event, Backlash. The show's hook was that every match on the show would carry some sort of hardcore rules stipulation.

  • In a dark match, Kofi Kingston defeated Dolph Ziggler.
  • The Hart Dynasty (David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd) defeated ShoMiz (The Big Show and The Miz), John Morrison & R-Truth, and the World's Strongest Tag Team (Montel Vontavious Porter & Mark Henry) in a gauntlet match to win a Unified WWE Tag Team Championship match.
  • CM Punk defeated Rey Mysterio. Had Punk lost, he would have been forced to shave his head.
  • JTG defeated Shad Gaspard in a strap match.
  • Jack Swagger defeated Randy Orton in an Extreme Rules match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Sheamus defeated Triple H in a street fight.
  • Beth Phoenix defeated Michelle McCool in an Extreme Makeover match to win the WWE Women's Championship.
  • Edge defeated Chris Jericho in a steel cage match.
  • John Cena defeated Batista in a last man standing match to retain the WWE Championship.

4 years ago today, WWE presented the 2011 WWE Draft. This was the final Draft Lottery WWE presented, as the brand extension would no longer be recognized that summer. Despite that, WWE still had two world champions until December 2013. In all, 31 men and women were moved, with John Cena being moved twice.

Live Draft

Pick #

Brand (to)

Employee

Brand (from)

1

SmackDown

John Cena

Raw

2

Raw

Rey Mysterio

Smackdown

3

SmackDown

Randy Orton

Raw

4

SmackDown

Mark Henry

Raw

5

SmackDown

Sin Cara

Raw

6

Raw

Big Show

SmackDown

7

Raw

Alberto Del Rio

SmackDown

8

Raw

John Cena

SmackDown

Online Draft

Pick #

Brand (to)

Employee

Brand (from)

9

SmackDown

Daniel Bryan

Raw

10

Raw

Jack Swagger

SmackDown

11

SmackDown

The Great Khali & Ranjin Singh

Raw

12

SmackDown

Jimmy Uso

Raw

13

Raw

Kelly Kelly

SmackDown

14

Raw

JTG

SmackDown

15

SmackDown

Alicia Fox

Raw

16

SmackDown

William Regal

Raw

17

SmackDown

Yoshi Tatsu

Raw

18

Raw

Drew McIntyre

SmackDown

19

SmackDown

Natalya

Raw

20

Raw

Curt Hawkins

SmackDown

21

Raw

Chris Masters

SmackDown

22

SmackDown

Jey Uso

Raw

23

Raw

Kofi Kingston

SmackDown

24

SmackDown

Ted DiBiase

Raw

25

SmackDown

Tyson Kidd

Raw

26

SmackDown

Tamina

Raw

27

Raw

Tyler Reks

SmackDown

28

SmackDown

Alex Riley

Raw

29

Raw

Beth Phoenix

SmackDown

30

SmackDown

Sheamus

Raw

1 year ago today, WWE superfan Connor Michalek died of complications from brain and spinal cancer. He was just eight years old. Battling cancer for most of his life (at age four, his parents were told he would have just a year to live following surgery), MIchalek received considerable media attention after a social media campaign was launched for Connor to meet his favorite wrestler, Daniel Bryan. The video, first posted on Youtube in October 2012, quickly got the attention of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Connor finally got to meet Daniel Bryan in late December. They met again in October 2013 and at the 2014 Royal Rumble. Connor got his own entrance a few hours before RAW just before Wrestlemania XXX, and knocked out Triple H with one punch. At Wrestlemania XXX, Connor and his family were in the in the front row to see his hero Daniel Bryan win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Posthumously, a video released in his memory quickly went viral. That summer, WWE launched Connor's Cure, a nonprofit organization launched through the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh dedicated to curing children's cancer. In March 2015, just under a year to the date of his passing, Michalek was the first recipient of the Warrior Award, an honor given to one person who best embodies the spirit, courage, compassion, and strength of the Ultimate Warrior. His father Steve and brother Jackson accepted on Connor's behalf. The award makes Connor the youngest WWE Hall of Famer ever.