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This Day in Wrestling History (July 2): WCW's Awful Reboot

14 years ago today, WWF presented the first WCW match since its shutdown back in March on RAW is WAR from Tacoma, Washington. WCW Champion Booker T defeated Buff Bagwell by disqualification to retain the title in what is often considered one of the worst main events in RAW history. Bagwell was clearly not in ring shape and had his first match since the sale the night before. Booker T wasn't much better. His first wrestling appearance since the sale was at King of the Ring a few days earlier. Though he was in better shape, he was in no position to carry Bagwell. The match is criticized for its overreliance on rest holds as opposed to what could have—or should have been—a briskly paced bout between the two to emphasize the quality of WCW performers. Word was that Vince McMahon hated the segment. The crowd in Tacoma surely did, chanting "boring" and "this match sucks" for much of the bout's duration, a bout only saved by the run-ins by Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kurt Angle. For Bagwell, this would be his only WWF television appearance; he was fired less than a week later. The negative reaction would be the latest in a series of setbacks associated with the Invasion storyline, one that never saw its full potential. For what it's worth, RAW is WAR the next week was in Atlanta, the home of WCW.

13 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Boston, Massachusetts, Edge and Hulk Hogan defeated Billy and Chuck to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. This is the first time Edge wins the WWE Tag Team Championship with someone other than Christian as his partner. Amazingly, in Hogan's four-decade wrestling career, this is first (and ultimately, only) tag team championship.

8 years ago today in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Phil Astin III, the personal physician for Chris Benoit, is indicted by a federal grand jury on seven counts of illegal distribution of prescription drugs. In the days following the death of Benoit, a search of the home and Astin's office produced evidence that would lead to the indictment, including a prescription for a (on average) ten-month supply of anabolic steroids to Benoit about every four weeks from May 2006 to May 2007, and multiple prescriptions for two unnamed patients that were not dated. The DEA also pointed out that the investigation was in progress at the time of the indictment. Astin was released on $125,000 bond, was forced to surrender his medical license, and was subject to electronic monitoring.

Ultimately, Astin would face 175 counts of illegal distribution of prescription drugs spanning a five-year period. Astin pled guilty in January 2009, and was sentenced later that year to 10 years in federal prison.

8 years ago today on RAW from Dallas, Texas, Umaga defeated Santino Marella to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.

3 years ago today, Hazem Ali, best known as Armando Alejandro Estrada, was released from WWE. Ali was first with the company back in 2007, primarily as ECW General Manager. His second run actually began in December 2010, but only made a single notable appearance before his release: on the May 26, 2011 episode of WWE Superstars. In a most bizarre twist, WWE Creative actually forgot he was even signed with the company.

2 years ago today, Jesus Rodriguez, aka Ricardo Rodriguez, is suspended 30 days following his first violation of the WWE Wellness Policy.

1 year ago today, Tenille Dashwood, best known to WWE and NXT fans as Emma, was fired... then rehired. The release stems from Dashwood allegedly shoplifting an iPad case from a Wal-Mart in Hartford, Connecticut. The value of the case: $21.14. Dashwood was charged with sixth degree larceny and was sentenced to one day community service and was ordered to take an online course, upon which the charges would be dismissed. Dashwood's attorney claimed that she simply forgot to pay for the case at a self-checkout.

That afternoon, WWE announces on their website that Dashwood was released:

WWE has come to terms on the release of WWE Diva Emma as of today, July 2, 2014. WWE wishes Emma the best in all her future endeavors.

This came in the midst of some serious budget cutting following the disappointing WWE Network subscriber numbers following Wrestlemania XXX. When news got out of her release, the Internet pounced, quick to point out that those that had more serious charges (i.e. Cameron and Jack Swagger—both arrested for DUI) weren't as harshly reprimanded.

Just an hour later, WWE issues another statement on their website and announced that Dashwood was not fired after all:

Upon further evaluation, WWE has reinstated Tenille Dashwood (WWE Diva Emma) but will take appropriate punitive action for her violation of the law.

For what it's worth, Emma seems to be experiencing a career resurgence in NXT. Interestingly enough, she has not won a match on RAW or Smackdown since her arrest.

Happy 45th birthday to Amy Marie Weber. The actress and model was a part of the 2004 RAW Diva Search, finishing fourth (side nugget: she was presented as 27 at the time of the contest, but in reality was in her mid-30s). She still got a contract and landed on Smackdown as a member of John "Bradshaw" Layfield's Cabinet as his "image consultant". She defeated fellow Diva Search contestant Joy Giovanni in her only WWE match. She quit WWE in February 2005, alleging harassment. These days, she's a dance pop singer, releasing Let it Rain in 2012.

Happy 51st birthday to Charles Shane Robinson. Robinson, often called Little Naitch for his striking resemblance to wrestling legend Ric Flair, began refereeing in 1995, but gained national prominence when he joined WCW in 1999. He joined the WWF following the sale of WCW, and he remains with the company to this day.

Happy 58th birthday to wrestling legend Bret Hart. A second-generation member of the famed Canadian Hart family, "The Hitman" is often credited as one of the most revolutionary wrestlers of the 1990s with his high-quality performances and superior in-ring psychology. Hart was the second-ever triple crown champion in WWF history and held their company's world title five times as well as the tag team title twice and a two-time Intercontinental Champion.He also won the 1991 and 1993 King of the Ring tournaments and co-won the 1994 Royal Rumble match with Lex Luger.  In November 1997, he left the WWF after fourteen years amidst major controversy following the infamous "Montreal Screwjob". Though he was also a triple crown champion in WCW (making him the first to win both WWF and WCW's triple crown), his run there is largely seen as disappointing. His full-time wrestling career ended after suffering a concussion in late 1999. Hart was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006. He made a brief comeback in 2010 when he won the WWE United States Championship at age 52. Hart is also a member of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (1996) and Professional Wrestling (2008) Halls of Fame and won the Iron Mike Award from the Cauliflower Alley Club in 2008.

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