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This Day in Wrestling History (August 24): Happy Birthday Vince

30 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine) defeated the US Express (Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

28 years ago today, Don Bass defeated Jerry Lawler to win the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. The win ended Lawler's fiftieth reign as champion. Dating back to the Mid-Atlantic version of the NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship, Lawler would win the title a total of 52 times from 1974 to 1997.

25 years ago today in East Rutherford, New Jersey, The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) defeated The Rock ‘n Roll Express to win the NWA United States Tag Team Championship.

21 years ago today, WCW presented Clash of the Champions XXVIII (WWE Network link) from the Five Seasons Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The show featured the final match of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat until 2009, as he suffered a career-ending back injury during his match. Adding insult to injury, Steamboat, who had been associated with the NWA for most of the previous 20 years, would be fired via FedEx the next month.

  • The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags) defeated Pretty Wonderful (Paul Orndorff & Paul Roma).
  • Ricky Steamboat defeated Steve Austin in a no disqualification match to win the WCW United States Championship. Steamboat was forced to vacate the title at Fall Brawl due to a back injury.
  • Dustin Rhodes & Dusty Rhodes defeated Bunkhouse Buck & Terry Funk by disqualification.
  • Antonio Inoki defeated Lord Steven Regal via submission.
  • Ric Flair defeated Hulk Hogan by countout in a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match.

17 years ago today, WWF Tag Team Champions Mankind and Kane fought each other to a no contest in a Hell in a Cell match. This was one of only three Hell in a Cell matches to not occur on PPV.

16 years ago today, WWF taped the first ever episode of Smackdown (WWE Network link) from the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. Though there was a pilot shot four months earlier, this taping, airing two days later on UPN, is considered the debut episode. This is also the first WWF event in Kansas City since Owen Hart's death at Over the Edge three months earlier. The show got a 5.8 rating, with about 9 million viewers watching.

  • Mr. Ass defeated Jeff Jarrett.
  • The Undertaker and The Big Show defeated Kane & X-Pac & The APA to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • Big Bossman defeated Al Snow to win the WWF Hardcore Championship.
  • "The Road Dogg" Jesse James defeated Chris Jericho by disqualification.
  • Shane McMahon defeated Mankind.
  • Tori defeated Ivory in an Evening Gown Match.
  • Triple H defeated The Rock to retain the WWF Championship. Shawn Michaels was the special referee and had a direct hand in the finish: Michaels hit Sweet Chin Music on The Rock as he was going for the People's Elbow. It would be Michaels' final appearance for the WWF until May 2000.

12 years ago today, WWE presented Summerslam (WWE Network link) from the America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. 16,113 were in attendance, with 465,000 homes watching on PPV, which was down 75,000 from 2002's edition. The show featured the debut of Rob Conway, who interfered in the World Tag Team Championship match and the shortest elimination chamber match in WWE history, as participants entered in three-minute intervals instead of five.

  • In a preshow Sunday Night Heat match, Matt Hardy defeated Zach Gowen via forfeit.
  • In a preshow Sunday Night Heat match, Rey Mysterio defeated Shannon Moore to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
  • La Résistance (René Duprée and Sylvain Grenier) defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) to retain the World Tag Team Championship.
  • The Undertaker defeated A-Train.
  • Shane McMahon defeated Eric Bischoff in a no-disqualification, falls count anywhere match.
  • Eddie Guerrero defeated Chris Benoit, Rhyno and Tajiri in a fatal four-way match to retain the WWE United States Championship.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Brock Lesnar via submission to retain the WWE Championship.
  • Kane defeated Rob Van Dam in a no holds barred match.
  • Triple H defeated Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton and Kevin Nash in an Elimination Chamber match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
    • Chris Jericho eliminated Kevin Nash.
    • Goldberg eliminated Randy Orton.
    • Goldberg eliminated Shawn Michaels.
    • Goldberg eliminated Chris Jericho.
    • Triple H eliminated Goldberg.

12 years ago today, Kent Walton died due to a stroke in Guildford, Surrey, England. He passed away just two days after his 86th birthday.

Born in Cairo, Egypt as Kenneth Walton Beckett and raised in Haslemere, Surrey, he tried his hand at acting until World War II broke out. He then served as part of the Royal Air Force as a radio operator and front gunner. He returned to acting following the war, but hit his mark as a sports commentator, working football and tennis matches, but in November 1955, he would become ITV's lead voice for wrestling for World of Sport. His "Greetings grappling fans!" would become a signature of his broadcasts for over thirty years.

At the height of its popularity, as many as seven million people (the number rose to 12 million for FA Cup finals days) watched ITV wrestling matches, including several members of the Royal Family-even Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister at the time Margaret Thatcher were fans of the show. Perhaps as a sign of foreshadowing, in the 1979 World of Sport Annual, Walton was concerned that gimmicks would overtake the art of wrestling someday.

In 1988, after 33 years on the air, wrestling was indeed pulled from ITV. Walton was also a voice actor, film producer, and a radio presenter. Walton is a member of the 2011 class of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. The above video is a short documentary on the long-running British wrestling program narrated by Walton, Everything Stops at Four O'Clock, the time the show ran on Saturday afternoon.

5 years ago today, it was made public that Serena Deeb had been released from WWE (though her actual relase came four days earlier). Her release caused quite a bit of controversy, as the reason given for her release was allegedly she, as a member of the Straight Edge Society stable, was caught drinking in a bar. The above video is Deeb's only WWE match, which aired three days after her announced release.

3 years ago today, Ariane Andrew, aka Cameron, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Tampa, Florida. The news didn't come out until a week later during the WWE's annual Australian tour. Andrew, who tried to bribe one of the arresting officers to the tune of $10,000, had already performed on one of the shows, but was sent home prior to the second. She was suspended for fifteen days on August 29.

Today is the 47th birthday of Shochi "Sho" Funaki. Born in Tokyo, Japan, he began his career as a shoot style wrestler for Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi before moving to Battlarts, then Michinoku Pro Wrestling. It was at Michinoku Pro he transitioned to the lucha libre style and teamed with Taka Michinoku, Dick Togo, Men's Teioh, and Shiryu to form Kai En Tai. Togo, Teioh, and Funaki would all find their way to the WWF in 1998 as Kai En Tai and would at first feud with, then eventually partner with, Taka Michinoku.

Togo and Teioh were released in early 1999, leaving Funaki and Michinoku as a comedic tag team, often having their promos dubbed with Funaki responding with a simple "INDEED!" Michinoku would leave the WWF in 2001, leaving Funaki as the stable's sole survivor. He would wrestle in the lower card and adopted the gimmick of "Smackdown's #1 Announcer". Funaki would win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at Armageddon in 2004, defeating Spike Dudley. He lost the title to Chavo Guerrero two months later at No Way Out, but not before having a successful title defense in his home country of Japan.

During a Velocity taping in 2006, he would suffer a Grade 2 concussion and miss most of the year. He would return to WWE television in 2007, again as jobber fodder in the tag team and cruiserweight divisions. He would change his name to Kung Fu Naki in the fall of 2008, but it wouldn't last long; he wrestled for about two months under the gimmick before being taken off television.

He made one other television appearance as part of the preshow battle royal for Wrestlemania XXVI. He was released shortly thereafter. Funaki has since cameoed for WWE as a special referee for Japanese house shows and has opened his own training facility, the FUNAKI Dojo in San Antonio, Texas.

Today's the 70th birthday of Vincent Kennedy "Vince" McMahon, the majority owner/chairman/CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Born in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Vince had a tough childhood. Vince spent the majority of his childhood living with a string of stepfathers and his mother, as his biological father, Vincent Jess and Vince Jr. didn't meet until age 12 when his father was promoting for Capitol Wrestling Corporation. In a 2001 interview, Vince claimed one of his stepfathers beat his him and his mother while trying to protect her, saying he wished he could have killed him. He overcame dyslexia and graduated from a military school in Virginia in 1964 and from East Carolina University with a business degree in 1968.

Though Vince Sr. was not thrilled with his son getting into the wrestling business, Vince Jr. got into the wrestling business in 1969 as an in-ring announcer for WWWF All-Star Wrestling. He promoted his first card in Maine in 1971, and later in the year becoming the regular play-by-play announcer for the WWF, a role he would regularly serve until November 1997. Vince McMahon would play an integral part in promotion within and outside of the company in the 1970s, including promoting the boxer-wrestler bout between Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki in 1976, changing the WWWF to the WWF, and buying the Cape Cod Coliseum.

By 1980, had become chairman of the WWF, and two years later, as part of Titan Sports Inc., he would buy Capitol Wrestling Corporation from his father. From there, McMahon expanded from the Northeastern territory to a true national promotion, acquiring top talent from other territories, use pop music stars in pro wrestling storylines, rebrand and market wrestling to a family audience, and promote some of his biggest shows on pay-per-view. His biggest acquisition, Hulk Hogan in late 1983, would be the face of the late-1980s pro wrestling boom, highlighted by a record (yet disputed) crowd of over 93,000 at the Pontiac Silverdome for Wrestlemania III.

The treading into other territories would not go unnoticed; the infamous Black Saturday of 1984 drew the ire of Georgia Championship Wrestling fans, and Ted Turner's WCW fought tooth and nail with Vince's WWF for years, driving the WWF to the brink of bankruptcy. He also driven to near ruin in a much publicized trial when he was accused of distributing steroids to his performers in 1994, but despite admitting to taking steroids in the 1980s, McMahon was acquitted on all charges.

Things began to turn for the WWF ironically when McMahon manipulated Bret Hart out of the WWF Championship on his last night with the company in an incident dubbed "The Montreal Screwjob". From real-life drama, the Mr. McMahon character was born. Around this time, it was revealed Vince McMahon had owned the company he did the announcing for. His feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin was the focal point of the Attitude Era that resulted in a second wrestling boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a boom that would ultimately result in the WWF purchasing WCW and its assets for just $5 million in 2001 (though the final purchase price changes depending on who's telling the story). McMahon would also acquire the defunct ECW in 2003, leaving the renamed WWE as the only major wrestling promotion in North America for years.

Wrestling-wise, McMahon, believe it or not, is a former WWF and ECW world champion, having won them in 1999 and 2007 respectively. He also won the 1999 Royal Rumble match. McMahon would expand his ventures outside of professional wrestling on multiple occasions, often failing spectacularly, most notably the World Bodybuilding Federation in the early 1990s and the XFL in 2001. Vince McMahon has two children with his wife of nearly 40 years Linda, as well as six grandchildren. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is a member of the first Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame class in 1996.

Today's the 71st birthday of Wayde Douglas Bowles, aka Rocky Johnson. To younger wrestling fans, Rocky Johnson is the father of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Born and raised in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Johnson moved to Toronto at age 16, where he wrestled, drove trucks, and even tried his hand at boxing, even sparring with Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. In the mid-1960s, he began wrestling for the NWA, challenging world champions Terry Funk and Harley Race, but found success in the tag team circuit, winning several regional tag belts. In 1983, Johnson and Tony Atlas, together dubbed The Soul Patrol, defeated the Wild Samoans to win the WWF Tag Team Championship, making them the first black duo to hold the belts.

Following his retirement in 1991, Rocky and Pat Patterson would train his son Dwayne and played a role in getting Dwayne into the WWF later in the decade. Rocky would make on camera appearances, most notably at Wrestlemania 13, helping his son ward off The Sultan and Iron Sheik. Johnson is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2008; the week before his induction, Johnson wrestled his final match in Toronto.

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