clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This Day in Wrestling History (July 15): Hell Freezes Over

52 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bobo Brazil defeated Johnny Barend to win the WWWF United States Heavyweight Championship. He becomes the first man to hold the championship more than once.

48 years ago today in San Francisco, California, NWA United States Champion (San Francisco version) Ray Stevens defeated WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino via countout. Stevens thought that meant he would become the new WWWF Champion, but the WWWF had a differing opinion, stating that the title could not change hands on a countout.

32 years ago today in St. Louis, Missouri, Ric Flair defeated David Von Erich in the finals of a one-night tournament to win the vacated NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship. The title was vacated back on June 10 when Harley Race won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

23 years ago today, Vince McMahon informed the International Federation of Bodybuilders that the World Bodybuilding Federation was disbanding. The decision comes just a month after the second WBF Championship event (won again by Gary Strydom), which records one of the lowest PPV buyrates in American history.

The bodybuilding company was formed to great shock and awe in September 1990 following the Mr. Olympia competition. Promising "the richest prize money in the history of the sport", 13 IBFF regulars soon jump aboard the McMahon train. Almost immediately, the WBF runs into a litany of problems: wrestlers resented the bodybuilders as they were getting bigger paychecks with WWF revenue sinking; bodybuilding fans didn't want wrestling infused into their sport; physician George Zaharian is convicted of selling steroids, setting off a federal investigation into the WWF and their dealings with drugs; WBF employees would be subjected to the same stringent drug testing the WWF employees were.

The dominoes only fell faster the next year when the WBF fails to land Lou Ferrigno and new signee Lex Luger has a motorcycle accident a few months before the second competition. The WBF folded with about $15 million in losses, making this at the time the biggest financial failure in WWF history. The WBF "BodyStars" were allowed to return to the IFBB after posting a fine for breaching their original contracts; at least one WBF contract would be paid out in full.

20 years ago today, ECW presented Heatwave '95 from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • Mikey Whipwreck defeated Mike Norman.
  • Tony Stetson & Don E. Allen defeated Raven & Stevie Richards by countout.
  • Hack Meyers defeated Big Val Puccio.
  • Tommy Dreamer and The Pitbulls defeated Raven, Dudley Dudley, and Snot Dudley.
  • Dean Malenko & 2 Cold Scorpio defeated Eddie Guerrero & Taz.
  • Sandman defeated Axl Rotten in a Barbed Wire Bat match to retain the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Luna Vachon defeated Stevie Richards by submission in a steel cage match.
  • The Gangstas (New Jack & Mustafa) defeated Public Enemy (Johnny Grunge & Flyboy Rocco Rock) in a steel cage match.

Debuts- Eric Bischoff debuts as a new GM of RAW... by cenbey_a

13 years ago today on RAW, hell truly froze over at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Eric Bischoff, former President of World Championship Wrestling, made his WWE debut as the RAW General Manager. An interesting side nugget: that role nearly went to Vince Russo. Russo laid out a similar scenario for McMahon when he briefly returned to the company the previous month, but the creative team talked McMahon out of it when they heard Russo's ideas. Russo, who wanted to reboot the WCW invasion, was then moved into a consulting role, but left for TNA shortly thereafter, where he could reboot a WCW invasion. As for Bischoff, he did not arrive into the building until about 15 minutes before the show began and spent most of the first hour in a limo in the parking lot. Bischoff to on how the deal went down:

"We've been talking unofficially through third parties for almost a year now. We've come close to doing something a couple of times, but for a variety of reasons it's just never worked out. About a month or two ago, we'd gotten a little bit more serious in our conversations, and I got a chance to talk directly to Vince (McMahon). I think we were able to break a lot of ice, just over the phone. Once we did that, it just seemed like it was much easier to move forward and get a deal done for sure. Really, this just came together within the last week or 10 days."

Bischoff would stick around for quite a bit, holding the General Manager post for most of the next three and a half years. His tenure ended when literally is thrown out with the garbage on RAW in December 2005.

9 years ago today, Brock Lesnar is stripped of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship following a dispute between Lesnar and New Japan Pro Wrestling management regarding a title defense against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Lesnar leaves the company as well as a result. Tanahashi would win the vacated title two days later against Giant Bernard in the final. Interestingly enough, the Inoki Genome Federation still recognized Brock Lesnar as the IWGP Champion when that promotion was founded in 2007. Both the New Japan and IGF versions of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship would be unified in February 2008 by Shinsuke Nakamura.

9 years ago today, WWE presented (an almost live) Saturday Night's Main Event (WWE Network link) from the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.

  • Batista, Bobby Lashley and Rey Mysterio defeated King Booker, Finlay and Mark Henry.
  • Carlito and Trish Stratus defeated Melina and Johnny Nitro.
  • D-Generation X (Shawn Michaels and Triple H) defeated The Spirit Squad (Johnny, Kenny, Mikey, Mitch and Nicky) 5-0 in a two-on-five elimination match.
    • Michaels pinned Mitch.
    • Triple H pinned Johnny.
    • Triple H pinned Mikey.
    • Triple H pinned Nicky.
    • Triple H pinned Kenny.
  • Sabu pinned Stevie Richards in an Extreme Rules match.
  • John Cena defeated WWE Champion Edge by disqualification in a WWE Championship match.

9 years ago, Ring of Honor presented Death Before Dishonor IV from the National Guard Armory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • Delirious defeated Seth Delay.
  • The Embassy (Jimmy Rave & Sal Rinauro) defeated Colt Cabana & Jay Lethal.
  • Nigel McGuinness defeated Roderick Strong by countout to retain the ROH Pure Championship.
  • The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) defeated Irish Airborne (David Crist & Jake Crist).
  • AJ Styles defeated Davey Richards.
  • Bryan Danielson defeated Sonjay Dutt by via referee stoppage to retain the ROH World Championship.
  • Team ROH (Ace Steel, Adam Pearce, BJ Whitmer, Bryan Danielson, Homicide & Samoa Joe) defeated Team CZW (Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Eddie Kingston, Nate Webb & Necro Butcher) in a Cage Of Death match.

8 years ago today, TNA presented Victory Road from the Impact Zone at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.

  • Christopher Daniels won a Ultimate X Gauntlet match to become the #1 contender for the TNA X Division Championship. Other participants included Jay Lethal, Puma, Homicide, Sonjay Dutt, Petey Williams, Shark Boy, Elix Skipper, Kaz, and Senshi.
  • The Voodoo Kin Mafia (B.G. James and Kip James) defeated Basham and Damaja
  • James Storm defeated Rhino.
  • The Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley) defeated Jerry Lynn and Bob Backlund.
  • Eric Young and Gail Kim defeated Robert Roode and Ms. Brooks.
  • Christian Cage defeated Chris Harris.
  • Sting and Abyss defeated A.J. Styles and Tomko.
  • TNA World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle and TNA X Division Champion Samoa Joe defeated TNA World Tag Team Champions Team 3D (Brother Ray and Brother Devon) to win the TNA World Tag Team Championship. Under the prematch stipulation, whoever was defeated lost their championship to the winner. As a result of the victory, Samoa Joe got to choose his tag team partner to be the other half of the tag champions. He ultimately decided to defend the titles alone.

5 years ago today, TNA announces they have signed Bobby Lashley and Ayako Hamada.

5 years ago today, Chris Jericho responds on Twitter to speculation that ABC cancelled Downfall, the game show he hosted, after just five episodes:

"FYI-Downfall wasn't pulled or canceled. Due to a faster paced edited show, we simply ran out of contestants after the fifth show and didn't have enough material for a sixth show. We re gonna film more episodes in the fall. Sorry haters.."

Sorry, Chris: the haters were right. After bottoming out at just 3.37 million viewers for the finale, ABC does indeed discontinue the series.

3 years ago today, WWE presented Money in the Bank (WWE Network link) from US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. 10,800 were in attendance, with 188,000 homes purchasing the event on PPV, which was down slightly from the 195,000 in 2011.

  • In a preshow match, Kofi Kingston & R-Truth defeated Hunico & Camacho.
  • Dolph Ziggler defeated Damien Sandow , Christian, Santino Marella, Tensai, Tyson Kidd, Cody Rhodes, and Sin Cara in a Money in the Bank ladder match for a future World Heavyweight Championship match up to one year.
  • Sheamus defeated Alberto Del Rio to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Primo & Epico defeated The Primetime Players (Darren Young & Titus O'Neill).
  • CM Punk defeated Daniel Bryan in a no disqualifcation match to retain the WWE Championship. AJ Lee was the special referee.
  • Ryback defeated Curt Hawkins & Tyler Reks in a handicap match.
  • Tamina Snuka, Kaitlyn, and Layla defeated Beth Phoenix, Natalya, and Eve Torres.
  • John Cena defeated The Big Show, The Miz, Kane, and Chris Jericho in a Money in the Bank ladder match for a future WWE Championship match up to one year.

1 year ago today, WWE moves CM Punk's profile on their website from the active roster to the Alumni page. The move, standard operating procedure for talent no longer working with the company, indicates that his contract had either expired or was set to expire. The move ends nearly six months of speculation as to whether Punk, real name Phil Brooks, would return to the company after walking out following the 2014 Royal Rumble event. The sides had little communication once talks of him to return broke down in February. Punk's first official comments following the release came via his Twitter:

Nope, thank YOU.Thanks for all the help and support through the years. Health and happiness above all.Don't ever take any shit from anybody.

A month before his contract expired, Punk married AJ Lee (real name April Mendez), who retired in April. Punk has maintained since leaving WWE that he's done with pro wrestling and he's concentrating on his mixed martial arts career, and is set to debut for UFC late this year or early next year. He opened up about his final days in WWE in a podcast with Colt Cabana last Thanksgiving.  Any chance of Punk returning to WWE is probably out the window: in September 2014, Punk sued WWE for back royalties. This past February, WWE doctor Chris Amann sued Punk and Colt Cabana (real name Scott Colton) for defamation.

Happy 32nd birthday to Heath Miller, known to wrestling fans as Heath Slater. Slater, the fourth place finisher of the first NXT competition, is a three-time WWE Tag Team Champion, all with Justin Gabriel. For about two years, Slater led the Three Man Band stable with Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre. Miller was also prominently featured on the web series The JBL and Cole as JBL's nephew, Clem Layfield.

Happy 38th birthday to Kitana Baker. Born Christi Michell Josenhans, the model/actress is best known as one of the Miller Lite Catfight Girls from the series of 2002 ads. Wrestling connection: most notably, she appeared at Wrestlemania XIX reprising her role with fellow "Catfight Girl" Tanya Balligner. It wasn't her first appearance; that came six months earlier at Unforgiven when she nearly got to perform "HLA" (Hot Lesbian Action) on Stephanie McMahon.

Happy 64th birthday to James George Janos, best known as Jesse "The Body" Ventura. After serving six years in the United States Navy, Jesse Ventura wrestled for nearly a decade, most notably for the AWA (where he won their tag team titles with Adrian Adonis) and the WWF. A blood clot ended his in-ring career in 1984, but he attempted a comeback the next year, teaming with future world champion Randy Savage.  He retired again in 1986 and transferred to the commentary booth, teaming most notably with Gorilla Monsoon and Vince McMahon. Ventura was the first notable heel commentator on WWF programming. Around this time, he got into acting, appearing in prominent roles in Predator and The Running Man. Just before Summerslam 1990, Ventura was released.

The next year, Ventura successfully sued Titan Sports (the parent company of the WWF) for back royalties. The suit was finally settled in 1995, with Ventura awarded over $800,000. The lawsuit is considered a landmark case in the law of restitution. The lawsuit would also play a part in severing the friendship between Jesse Ventura and Hulk Hogan; during the suit, he found out it was Hogan that told McMahon of Ventura's attempt to form a labor union in 1984. Also, as a result of the suit, Ventura's commentary was removed from some WWE home video releases.

Ventura spent the early 1990s not only commentating for WCW, but as mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. Ventura was let go from WCW in 1994 by Eric Bischoff, allegedly for falling asleep during a WCW Worldwide taping, but possibly due to the influence of Hulk Hogan.

Eventually, the WWF and Ventura kissed and made up, but not until after Jesse shockingly won the gubernatorial seat in Minnesota in 1998. Most notably, he appeared as the special referee for the main event of Summerslam 1999, in the commentary booth for the XFL, and in interview segments in the 2000s. Ventura and McMahon reunited on commentary in 2009 for one night only on RAW. In 2004, Ventura was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Since leaving office, Ventura has remained politically active and has considered a presidential run for next year. He's authored eight books (five since leaving office), hosted a few TV shows (most notably Conspiracy Theory for TruTV) and made a number of TV and movie appearances. Ventura has a wife, Terry, and two children, Tyrel and Jade.

Happy 73rd birthday to Aaron Rodriguez, best known as lucha libre legend Mil Mascaras, the man of a thousand masks. A member of lucha libre's original Big Three (along with El Santo and Blue Demon), Rodriguez is considered one of the most influential wrestlers in the history of wrestling, credited for introducing high-flying maneuvers including the plancha and tope suicida to Japanese fans. A career tecnico (babyface), Mascaras wore a different mask for every match. Though he most famously wrestled in Mexico, he also competed for All Japan, IWA, WWF, World Wrestling Council, and WCW. During his time in the WWF, he became the first masked wrestler to compete in Madison Square Garden.

Away from the ring, he's starred in over a dozen movies. Most came in the 1960s and 1970s, though he continued to star in movies well into the 21st century. Despite his massive popularity in Mexico, wrestlers have criticized his unwillingness to sell moves or put people over, including Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, and John Layfield, who once called Mascaras "the most egomaniacal, selfish human being that ever lived".  Mascaras defended his behavior, citing cultural differences in wrestling between Mexico and their US counterparts.

Mascaras, the uncle of famed luchador Alberto El Patron (who had success domestically as Alberto Del Rio), wrestles sporadically to this day. Last July, he celebrated his 50th anniversary of his professional wrestling debut. The two-time World Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Champion is a member of the inaugural Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame class in 1996, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2010, and the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats