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This Day in Wrestling History (July 25): The Return of CM Punk

23 years ago today at a Monday Night RAW taping (WWE Network link) in Alexandria Bay, New York, Jim Cornette makes his WWF debut. Cornette, the founder and head of Smoky Mountain Wrestling, would serve as the American spokesperson for then-WWF Champion Yokozuna. He would also manage The Heavenly Bodies (Tom Prichard and Jimmy Del Ray). Cornette would join the WWF full-time in 1996 shortly after SMW's demise.

16 years ago today, WWF presented Fully Loaded (WWE Network link) from the Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo, New York. 16,605 were in attendance, with about 360,000 homes purchasing the event on PPV.

  • Jeff Jarrett defeated Edge to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
  • The Acolytes (Faarooq and Bradshaw) defeated Michael Hayes and The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff) in a Handicap match to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • D'Lo Brown defeated Mideon to win the WWF European Championship.
  • The Big Boss Man defeated Al Snow to win the WWF Hardcore Championship.
  • The Big Show defeated Kane. Hardcore Holly was the special referee.
  • Ken Shamrock defeated Steve Blackman in an Iron Circle match (essentially, a parking lot brawl).
  • Road Dogg and X-Pac defeated Mr. Ass and Chyna. With the win, Road Dogg and X-Pac won the rights to the "D-Generation" X name.
  • Triple H defeated The Rock in a Strap match to become the #1 contender for the WWF Championship. Unlike a traditional strap match, the bout could only be won by pinfall or submission.
  • Steve Austin defeated The Undertaker in a First Blood match to retain the WWF Championship. As a result of Austin's win, Vince McMahon could never appear on WWF programming again. (He would appear on WWF programming again less than two months later.)

7 years ago today, Diamond Dallas Page and rapper/mogul Jay-Z come to a settlement in a lawsuit stemming from Jay-Z's use of the diamond cutter hand signal that was a trademark of Page's career. In the settlement, which was for an undisclosed amount, Jay-Z agreed to pay Page, while Page agreed to drop his claim.

4 years ago today, Rey Mysterio defeated the Miz in the finals of a tournament to win the vacated WWE Championship. The tournament started the previous week following CM Punk's departure from the company as WWE Champion.

Mysterio's moment in the sun would not last long, as just an hour and a half later, John Cena would beat Rey Mysterio to win the WWE Championship. Then a funny thing happened on the way to another Cena title run: CM Punk returned with his WWE Championship belt.

So if you're scoring at home, the night began with no WWE Champion and ended with two. Count Rey Mysterio, and three men in a span of two hours were recognized as WWE Champion. Punk and Cena would both be recognized as WWE Champion until their Summerslam match a month later.

Happy 34th birthday to Fergal Devitt, known these days as NXT Champion Finn Balor. Best known as Prince Devitt, his biggest success has come in New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he's the most one of the successful junior heavyweights in company history. Devitt's a three-time IWGP junior heavyweight champion, a six-time IWGP junior heavyweight tag team champion, and one of just four men to win their annual Best of the Super Juniors tournament more than once (he did so in 2010 and 2013). He's also competed for many other promotions before joining WWE, most notably CMLL, NWA UK Hammerlock, New England Championship Wrestling, and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Next month, Devitt will defend the NXT Championship at Takeover: Brooklyn against Kevin Owens.

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