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This Day in Wrestling History (Jan. 11): The First Monday Night RAW

25 years ago today in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Ric Flair defeated Sting to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He also is recognized as the first WCW World Heavyweight Champion. WWE does not recognize his first WCW world title run as one of his world titles; that run is recognized as an NWA world title run that extended to the birth of the WCW world title. Flair remains the champion until he leaves WCW in July.

23 years ago today, WWF presented the first episode of Monday Night RAW from the Manhattan Center in New York City. The show replaced the long-running Prime Time Wrestling on the USA Network, and was a first for televised wrestling, with matches and angles being played out before a live audience as opposed to matches being taped in a studio or an arena with commentary dubbed in later.

The show was genuinely live in its first few months, but it took a toll on the company financially (and at a particularly trying time for the WWF). Within six months, WWF began taping multiple episodes, sometimes as many as four in one sitting through 1997. From March 1997 to Smackdown's debut in August 1999, WWF alternated live and taped episodes of RAW; when Smackdown was introduced, RAW became a live weekly show again, and saved for a few special cases, usually holiday and international shows, it's remained that way ever since.

Also, save for a five-year stint on TNN (rebranded Spike in 2003), RAW has been with USA Network in the States since its beginning.

  • Yokozuna defeated Koko B. Ware.
  • The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) defeated The Executioners (Duane Gill & Barry Hardy).
  • Shawn Michaels defeated Max Moon to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
  • The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) defeated Damien Demento.

Ricky Steamboat vs. Dustin Rhodes-U.S Title by Stinger1981

23 years ago today at a WCW Saturday Night taping in Atlanta, Georgia, Dustin Rhodes defeated Ricky Steamboat by countout to win the vacated NWA/WCW United States Championship. The bout was originally commissioned to determine the #1 contender for the title, but when Rick Rude was forced to vacate the title due to injury, the match was made for the title instead.

19 years ago today, ECW presented House Party '97 from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Highlights of the event would be played on the January 18January 25, and February 5 episodes of ECW Hardcore TV (WWE Network links).

  • The Sandman defeated Raven.
  • Chris Candido defeated Louie Spicolli.
  • Mikey Whipwreck defeated Spike Dudley.
  • The Eliminators (John Kronus & Perry Saturn) defeated Axl Rotten & D-Von Dudley to retain the ECW World Tag Team Championship.
  • The Gangstas (Mustafa & New Jack) defeated Ricky Morton & Tommy Rich.
  • Tommy Rich defeated Ricky Morton.
  • Mike Awesome defeated Balls Mahoney.
  • Buh Buh Ray Dudley versus Pitbull #2 went to a no contest.
  • Brian Lee defeated Terry Funk.
  • Pitbull #1 defeated Shane Douglas by countout in a ECW World Television Championship match.

17 years ago today on RAW is WAR from Houston, Texas (WWE Network link), Chyna last eliminates Vince McMahon to win the "Corporate Royal Rumble". The win gives Chyna the #30 entry into the Royal Rumble match, making her the first woman to enter the annual battle royal.

Chyna wasn't the only woman to win a match against a man on that show: Luna Vachon defeated WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Duane Gill. It would be the first match for Gill in his most famous gimmick, the Goldberg parody Gillberg.

16 years ago today at a Thunder taping in Erie, Pennsylvania, Brian Knobbs defeated Norman Smiley to win the WCW Hardcore Championship.

15 years ago today, Eric Bischoff and Fusient Media Ventures announced their intent to acquire World Championship Wrestling from AOL-Time Warner. The attempt ultimately proves unsuccessful when Turner pulls all wrestling programming two months later. That opened the door for the WWF to buy WCW just a few days after the announcement of WCW's cancellation.

11 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Tampa, Florida, The Basham Brothers defeated Rey Mysterio & Rob Van Dam, Booker T & Eddie Guerrero, and Mark Jindrak & Luther Reigns in a four-team elimination match to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.

7 years ago today, TNA presented Genesis from the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  • Eric Young & Latin American Exchange (Hernandez & Homicide) defeated Jimmy Rave, Kiyoshi & Sonjay Dutt 3-2 in a six-man tag team elimination match.
    • Sonjay Dutt eliminated Eric Young.
    • Jimmy Rave eliminated Homicide.
    • Hernandez eliminated Kiyoshi.
    • Hernandez eliminated Sonjay Dutt.
    • Hernandez eliminated Jimmy Rave.
  • Alex Shelley defeated Chris Sabin to become the new TNA X-Division Champion.
  • Shane Sewell defeated Abdul Bashir.
  • Beer Money Inc. (James Storm & Robert Roode) defeated Lethal Consequences (Consequences Creed & Jay Lethal) and Abyss & Matt Morgan in a triple threat match to win the TNA World Tag Team Championship.
  • ODB, Roxxi & Taylor Wilde defeated The Kongtourage (Raisha Saeed, Rhaka Khan & Sojournor Bolt). With ODB getting the deciding fall, she became the #1 contender to the TNA Knockouts Championship.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Jeff Jarrett in a no disqualification match.
  • Sting defeated Rhino to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
  • The Front Line (AJ Styles, Brother Devon & Mick Foley) defeated Cute Kip & The Main Event Mafia (Booker T & Scott Steiner) in a hardcore tag team match. The match was originally ruled a double countout, but it was restarted under hardcore rules.

5 years ago today, former WWE announcer (and briefly RAW General Manager) Mike Adamle is arrested in Chicago on DUI charges. Adamle, who was on medication for epilepsy at the time, is eventually cleared of all charges. Today, Adamle is the sports director for the NBC affliliate in Chicago.

5 years ago today, TNA announces Jesse Neal signed a three-year deal with the company. He would last less than one before being released when Neal turned down going to Ohio Valley Wrestling.

5 years ago today, PWInsider reports that Ring of Honor would end its ROH on HDNet show following the contract's expiration in April. There were discussions of some ROH events airing live on the network, but it would not come to pass. A few months later, Sinclair Broadcasting would not only take over their TV; they would buy the company.

3 years ago today, PWInsider reports that Mick Foley would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. WWE themselves would confirm it later in the day.

It's a happy 74th birthday for Lawrence Robert Shreve, best known to wrestling fans as the legendary Abdullah the Butcher.

Born to a deeply impoverished family of ten in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, he took up karate and judo in his younger days, and eventually taught other children in the neighborhood.

He would eventually catch the eye of Montreal promoter Jack Britton, and the 6-foot, 360-pounder made his professional wrestling debut at just 17 years of age in 1958. He went through a few gimmick names including Pussycat Pickens, Kuroi Jujusushi, and Zelis Amara before settling on Abdullah the Butcher, an evil Arabian sadist. In a bout against Jack's son, Gino, Abdullah put himself on the map by breaking a chair over Gino's head, then beating him with the leg.

The Abdullah the Butcher character spoke no English, so he usually had a manager doing the speaking for him; he had well over two dozen managers in his career, including Paul Jones, Gary Hart, Oliver Humperdink, J.J. Dillion, Harley Race, the Original Sheik, Paul E. Dangerously, Adnan El-Kassey, Skandar Akbar, and The Grand Wizard. Of note, Lawrence really did speak English, and would speak for himself when doing promos in Japan.

Abdullah the Butcher is a pioneer of hardcore wrestling, participating in some of wrestling's most violent and bloody brawls. His excessive use of razor blades throughout his career has created some divot-like scars on his head; scars so deep that Mick Foley claimed he could put gambling chips in them, and would often demonstrate this unique talent at casinos.

The well-travelled Abdullah wrestled on six continents; because he moved around constantly, he was rarely more than a special attraction. That's not to say he wasn't successful. In 1967, Abdullah won the NWA Canadian Tag Team Championship with Dr. Jerry Graham. In the early 1970s, he won the NWA Canadian Championship and six North American Heavyweight Championships while wrestling for Calgary-based Stampede Wrestling. He had a heated rivalry in Detroit with the Original Sheik, and in 1975, won the NWA United States Championship from Bobo Brazil. He would also win championships in New Zeland, Japan, and Puerto Rico (where he was declared the first ever World Wrestling Council Universal Heavyweight Champion in 1982; he would go on to win the championship five times).

Abdullah would of course wrestle in the States as well, most notably competing for WCW in 1991, ECW in 1993, and Ring of Honor in 2002. He returned to Puerto Rico for WWC's anniversary show in 2007, and returned to Japan competing for Dragon Gate and Hustle in 2009, followed by an appearance for New Japan Pro Wrestling at Wrestle Kingdom IV in 2010.

In 2012, Canadian wrestler Devon Nicholson claimed he contracted hepatitis C from Shreve when he bladed him without consent; in 2014, an Ontario court ruled in favor of Nicholson and ordered to pay Shreve $2.3 million in damages.

In April 2011, Abdullah the Butcher was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in Atlanta, where he currently resides. He has a restaurant there, Abdullah the Butcher's House of Ribs and Chinese Food. In addition to being a WWE Hall of Famer, Lawrence is a member of the charter class of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996, and in 1991 was ranked among the 50 best pro wrestlers in the world by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

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