36 years ago today in Springfield, Massachusetts, WWF Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson defeated WWF Champion Bob Backlund via countout in a champion versus champion bout.
32 years ago today in Chiba, Japan, Stan Hansen defeated Giant Baba to win the Pacific Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Championship. The PWF Heavyweight Championship today is a part of the All Japan Pro Wrestling Triple Crown.
24 years ago today, the NWA finally gets around to stripping Ric Flair of their world heavyweight championship. Flair abruptly left WCW in July and was stripped of their world title almost immediately following a contract dispute. Good thing the NWA did get around to relieving Flair of their world title as he would make his WWF debut (carrying the Big Gold belt he was in possession of still) the next day.
16 years ago, Brian Curtis Hildebrand died of stomach and bowel cancer in Tennessee. He was just 37 years old.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 21, 1962, Hildebrand broke into the wrestling business as a manager at age 22. He briefly managed a young Mick Foley (in his Cactus Jack persona) as Hymie P. Weiss. He trained under Dominic DeNucci in 1986 and wrestled and refereed for Smoky Mountain Wrestling in 1992. He refereed briefly for ECW following Smoky Mountain's shutdown in 1995 before landing in WCW.
He earned the nickname "The Shooter" after he took down and subdued a fan on a Nitro in September 1997. Just one month later, he was diagnosed with stomach and bowel cancer. Following surgery, he continued to referee for a few months, but the cancer would eventually claim him. During Hildebrand's final days, a benefit was held in Rostraver Township, Pennsylvania in his honor. As he was one of the most beloved figures in the industry, stars from all three major organizations appeared in the event, as well as trainer Dominic DeNucci and Hartland Wrestling Association founder Les Thatcher. Hildebrand continued refereeing until just days before his death. At a WCW house show in Baltimore a few days later, Hildebrand was honored with a ten bell salute.
8 years ago today in Johannesburg, South Africa, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch defeated Paul London and Brian Kendrick to win the World Tag Team Championship.
6 years ago today, Lilian Garcia announces that after a decade with the company, she would be leaving WWE at the end of the month. She left WWE following the September 21 RAW, but made a few cameo appearances for the company, most notably on an April 2010 RAW when a volcanic eruption stranded most of the regular RAW crew, before returning to the company full-time in December 2011.
1 year ago today, Sean Christopher Haire, best known to wrestling fans as Sean O'Haire, committed suicide by hanging in his home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He was 43.
Born February 25, 1971 in Hilton Head, South Carolina, O'Haire made wrestled in the latter days of WCW after completing his training at the WCW Power Plant. Soon after debuting, he along with fellow Power Plant graduates Mike Sanders, Chuck Palumbo, Johnny "The Bull" Stamboli, Mark Jindrak, Reno, and Shawn Stasiak formed the Natural Born Thrillers. O'Haire and Jindrak would win the WCW tag titles together twice before pairing up with Chuck Palumbo. The duo feuded with Jindrak and Stasiak after the latter pair became jealous of the former pair's success.
The two remained together when they were picked up by the WWF following the sale of WCW, but not for long; the duo were split up after just two months. O'Haire would spend most of 2002 in WWE developmental territory OVW and on Sunday Night Heat. He returned in early 2003 as a devil's advocate, finishing his promos with the line "I'm not telling you anything that you don't already know". Soon after, he would be mentored on-screen with Roddy Piper and feud most notably with Mr. America and Rikishi. Following Piper's release from the company, O'Haire largely floundered. He was involved in a motorcycle accident in November 2003, and was sent back to OVW once he made a recovery before being released in April 2004. His final days in wrestling came for New Japan Pro Wrestling when he defeated Abyss in 2004 and for Ultimate Pro Wrestling in early 2005.
It was in late 2004 O'Haire turned to mixed martial arts. He briefly competed in K-1 and several small MMA outfits. His most famous MMA bout came at Pride 32 in Las Vegas in October 2006, where he was defeated by Eric "Butterbean" Esch in just 29 seconds.
On September 9, 2014, one day after his suicide, he was found hanging by a bedpost by his father in his home. O'Haire had reportedly been suffering from depression and alcohol addiction prior to his death, and had been to WWE-sponsored rehab multiple times. At the time of his death, O'Haire was survived by his father, one sister, and three brothers.
A slight detour for some life-saving advice: if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. From SuicidePreventionLifeline.org:
No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you'll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.
Happy 37th birthday to Tanea Brooks, best known to wrestling fans these days as Rebel. A former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and dancer and licensed cosmetologist, Brooks' longtime friendship with former WWE Diva and current TNA Knockout Christy Hemme got her in the door of the wrestling business.
Brooks debuted in TNA in May 2014 as Rebel of the Menagerie, a group of carnies. The group didn't last long; Rebel fractured her arm during her second televised match. She wrestled just once more before TNA's hiatus in late 2014. When the company returned in January, she wrestled just once before being taken off TV. Most recently, Rebel aligned herself with the Dollhouse.
Happy 44th birthday to David Arquette. A third-generation actor, he's best known for his roles in the Scream film series, Wild Bill, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He's also a producer, most famously the sitcom series Cougar Town starring his then-wife Courtney Cox (the couple separated in 2010 and divorced in 2013). He's also voiced a couple of video games, ESPN NFL 2K15 and SSX Tricky.
Wrestling connection: he has a starring role in the WCW movie Ready to Rumble. And he happened to win the WCW world heavyweight title on the April 26, 2000 episode of Thunder, a decision he was vehemently against—and one that more or less put the final nail in the coffin for WCW's credibility. He didn't make a dime off his WCW run, as he donated it to the families of Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, and Darren Drozdov. He's since made a few appearances for WWE, including losing a handicap match with Alex Riley to Randy Orton. Arquette also appeared in ads for WWE's Be A Star anti-bullying campaign.
Today is the 51st birthday of Scott Anthony Levy, best known as Raven.
Born in Philadelphia, he broke into the business after graduating from the University of Delaware in 1988 as Scotty the Body, the boytoy of Missy Hyatt in the Continental Wrestling Association. He would float around the independent circuit after leaving CWA over the next few years before landing with the Global Wrestling Federation as "Palm Beach Heart Throb" Scott Anthony. There he gained exposure for his exceptional mic skills on the commentary table.
He landed in WCW in 1992 as Scotty Flamingo, a Florida surfer. He would win the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship from Brian Pillman at Beach Blast in June, but would lose the title just two weeks later to Brad Armstrong. He left WCW for WWF in 1993, and found success there as spoiled rich kid Johnny Polo. He briefly managed Adam Bomb but found his biggest success as manager of the Quebecers, leading the duo to the tag team titles three times. He also was an associate producer for Monday Night RAW and did commentary for Radio WWF (and wrestled every now and then).
He left the WWF in late 1994 and debuted in ECW in January 1995 as social outcast Raven. His promo delivery (stoic and philosophical, yet eloquent) made him an instant hit. Raven's biggest feud would be with Tommy Dreamer, born out of an issue over a girl at summer camp. Raven would defeat Dreamer time and time again over the next two years, finally losing to Dreamer in June 1997 in his final ECW match. Raven's other major feud was with The Sandman, where Sandman's real-life son would be involved. The feud would culminate in a match in October 1996 match where Sandman would be crucified and caned following a victory over Raven; the angle angered Kurt Angle so much, he threatened to sue ECW. Raven would have two runs as ECW champions in 1996 and early 1997, the second reign ending at the first ECW PPV Barely Legal to Terry Funk in April 1997.
Raven debuted for WCW in late June 1997 as a "unsigned free agent", refusing to wrestle unless the match was contested under his own rules. He would eventually gather a group of misfits that would interfere on his behalf known as The Flock. Raven would win the WCW World Tag Team Championship and briefly the WCW United States Championship. In a meeting with all the contracted wrestlers with WCW, Levy accepted Eric Bischoff's offer for an outright release in August 1999 on the condition he did not go to the WWF.
Scott used the loophole to return to ECW just in time for the company's new deal with TNN and won the tag team championship with long-time rival Tommy Dreamer from the departing Dudley Boyz. Despite the fragile partnership, they reigned over the tag division for the remainder of the year, losing the title at Guilty as Charged in January 2000. Surely enough, they feuded again, and both Dreamer and Raven would hold the tag titles again with separate partners.
After his one-year deal in ECW ran out, he returned to the WWF under the Raven gimmick at Unforgiven 2000 by aiding Tazz in victory over Jerry Lawler in a strap match. In December, he would defeat Steve Blackman to win the WWF Hardcore Championship. He would go on to win it 27 times over the next two years, more than any other man in the company (thanks to the 24/7 rule the title was contested under). Levy briefly tried his hand at color commentary for Sunday Night Heat and Excess in 2002 before returning to the ring. Raven's last major storyline revolved around the seven deadly sins, one in which Raven had creative control. Management didn't think the story was over, so it was aborted; Raven was released shortly after.
He turned right around and made his NWA-TNA debut just two days after his WWE release in 2003, hitting his Evenflow DDT on Jeff Jarrett and stealing the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt. Later in the year, he introduced the Clockwork Orange House of Fun match, which would become a staple of TNA for years. He lost his trademark hair in September 2003 following a loss to Shane Douglas in a hair vs. hair match. His stable, The Gathering, would wreak havoc in TNA for many months (a stable which included Alexis Laree, aka Mickie James, and Ring of Honor blood rival CM Punk-the two had a long-standing feud in that promotion due to their conflicting lifestyles) and feuded with James Mitchell's New Church and Vince Russo's Sports Entertainment Xtreme. Raven would also feud with another ECW rival, Sabu, Abyss, and Monty Brown throughout 2004, competing in the first Monsters' Ball match. In the summer of 2005, Raven fulfilled his self-proclaimed destiny of becoming the NWA World Heavyweight Champion at Slammiversary, winning the King of the Mountain match. Raven would lose the title just before TNA made its debut on Spike TV in September 2005 at a Border City Wrestling event in Oldcastle, Ontario, Canada.
Raven would feud with Larry Zbysyko for the remainder of the year and into 2006, ultimately defeating him at Victory Road in a hair versus hair match. Raven would be deemphasized over the next two years (in part due to a thyroid condition), but occasionally wrestling before being ultimately released in March 2008. He would return more than a year later aiding Dr. Stevie and Daffney in their feud with Abyss. Raven would spend most of the second half of 2010 as a part of the Extreme Version 2.0 (EV 2.0) stable with fellow former ECW stalwarts Tommy Dreamer, Stevie Richards, Rhino, and Sabu (among others) before being released November following a loss to Jeff Hardy. Raven has appeared for a number of independent promotions, including Juggalo Championship Wreslting, CWA Pro, CLASH, NWA Charlotte, Extreme Rising, and Resistance Pro.