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This Day in Wrestling History (July 4): For America!

Happy birthday, America! Don't forget why you're celebrating this day. If you see a soldier, thank him or her.

WCW The Great American Bash 1987 - War Games by Bluthor

28 years ago, "War Games: The Match Beyond" makes its debut on the feature show of Jim Crockett Promotions' 1987 Great American Bash tour from the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia. Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, the Road Warriors, and their manager Paul Ellering defeated The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and their manager JJ Dillon) when Dillon surrendered after being bloodied by the Road Warriors and Ellering.

27 years ago, Keith Franke, best known as "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, is one of three people killed in a single-car accident in Lewisporte, Newfoundland, Canada. Adonis was a AWA tag team champion with Jesse Ventura in 1980 and a WWF tag team champion with Dick Murdoch in 1984-85. Following the split with Murdoch, Adonis traded in his biker gear for pink gear and lots of make up, calling himself "Adorable". Adonis' most famous feud was against Rowdy Roddy Piper, culminating in a hair versus hair match at Wrestlemania III. Adonis, Victor Arko, and Dave McKingney were all killed in the accident when driver William Arko swerved off the road to avoid a moose, but the car careened into a lake. Arko was the lone survivor of the accident.

25 years ago, Ed Leslie, best known as Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, suffered serious facial injuries while parasailing in Florida. It took eight steel plates, more than forty screws, and a hundred plus staples to repair his face. The accident would have been fatal had it not been for B. Brian Blair, who was with Leslie at the time of the accident. Leslie would make a full recovery, but would not return to the WWF until 1993 (outside of a brief comeback in 1991 as the masked Furface). Leslie was rumored to be the next man in line for the WWF Intercontinental Championship at Summerslam a month later.

23 years ago today, former Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission physician Dr. George Zahorian III was found guilty on twelve counts of selling steroids, but found not guilty on two counts of steroid distribution charges. During the trial in Harrisburg, it's revealed he sold steroids to, among others, Vince McMahon, Roddy Piper, and Hulk Hogan. Zahorian is sentenced in April 1992 to 36 months in prison.

22 years ago today aboard the USS Intrepid in New York City, Lex Luger (via helicopter arrival) bodyslammed WWF Champion Yokozuna. The slam kickstarted Luger's new All-American babyface gimmick designed to make him the heir apparent to Hulk Hogan. The slam sets up an angle that ultimately led to Luger versus Yokozuna at Summerslam.

21 years ago today, WWF referee Joey Marella, adopted son of Gorilla Monsoon, is killed in an auto accident on the New Jersey Turnpike while traveling from a WWF Superstars taping in Ocean City, Maryland. Marella is best known as the referee for the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant main event at Wrestlemania III and the Summerslam 1992 main event between Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith. Marella was just 31.

10 years ago today on RAW from Sacramento, California, Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels and defeated Kurt Angle and Carlito. Post-match, Michaels turns heel for the first time since since the end of his last WWE run in 1998 when he superkicks Hogan. The surprise Sweet Chin Music sets up an angle that ultimately led to an Icon vs. Icon match between Michaels and Hogan at Summerslam.

9 years ago today on ECW on Sci-Fi from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Big Show defeated Rob Van Dam in an extreme rules match to win the ECW World Championship. The title change comes just one day after Van Dam had lost the WWE Championship to Edge. Two days earlier, Van Dam was arrested on drug possession charges, and as a result would serve a thirty-day suspension for a violation of the WWE's wellness policy. Big Show's win makes him the first (and to this day, only) person to hold the WWF, WCW, and ECW world championships.

Happy 55th birthday to Barry Cinton Windham. The son of Blackjack Mulligan, Windham was a member of the second incarnation of The Four Horsemen. Though he won WWF tag team gold with his brother-in-law Mike Rotunda as one half of the US Express, his greatest successes came in the NWA and WCW, where he won nearly every major championship possible there, including the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 1993. Windham was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012 as part of the Four Horsemen.

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