clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This Day in Wrestling History (Oct. 13): Hiroshi Tanahashi’s Record-Breaking Title Win

this day in wrestling history

41 years ago today in New York City, Bruno Sammartino fought to a draw with Ivan Koloff for the WWWF Championship.

Koloff, most famous for ending Sammartino's eight-year reign as champion in 1971, had to be separated from Sammartino with help from a lot of wrestlers when both men were deemed unable to continue due to excessive bleeding.

35 years ago today in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito defeated Tony Garea and Rick Martel to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

31 years ago today in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ivan and Nikita Koloff defeated the Rock ‘n Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.

24 years ago today at a Wrestling Challenge taping in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster) defeated the Natural Disasters (Typhoon and Earthquake) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

19 years ago today on Nitro from Tampa, Florida (WWE Network link), The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) defeated Scott Hall and Syxx (substituting for Kevin Nash) to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.

10 years ago today, The Marine starring John Cena opens in theaters.

The WWE Studios film makes $15.1 million at the box office, but would make just $3.7 million more over the next nine weeks in the States. It would make its budget back, finishing with about $22 million adding in foreign ticket sales.

It would be WWE Studios' most successful film for more than six years, being surpassed by The Call in 2013.

9 years ago today at SHIMMER Volume 16 from Berwyn, Illinois, Sara Del Rey defeated Sarah Stock 2-1 in a best of three falls match to retain the SHIMMER Championship.

Today, both Del Rey and Stock work with WWE. Sara was a trainer at the Performance Center in Orlando before moving into a producer role in 2015. Taking Sara's place at the Performance Center: Sarah Stock.

8 years ago today, John Parsonage, who wrestled in TNA as "Hot Shot" Johnny Devine, was released from TNA. Two days later, he wrote an op-ed piece for Canadian website Slam!, claiming he left the company because wrestling was no longer fun for him. He would become an analyst for The Fight Network and wrestle on the independent circuit until his retirement in 2013.

Karen Angle was also released from TNA on this day. She would return to the company in 2011.

8 years ago today, New Japan Pro Wrestling presented Destruction '08 from New Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

  • In a preshow dark match, Ryusuke Taguchi and Wataru Inoue defeated Unione (Milano Collection A.T. and Taichi).
  • No Limit (Tetsuya Naito and Yujiro) defeated Prince Prince (Minoru and Prince Devitt) to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.
  • G.B.H. (Gedo, Jado, and Low Ki) defeated Jushin Thunder Liger, Koji Kanemoto and Tiger Mask.
  • G.B.H. (Togi Makabe, Tomohiro Ishii, and Toru Yano) defeated F4 (Hiroshi Yamato, Kai and Satoshi Kojima).
  • Manabu Nakanishi and Yutaka Yoshie defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi and Masahiro Chono.
  • Giant Bernard defeated Hirooki Goto.
  • Takashi Iizuka defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan in a chain deathmatch.
  • Yuji Nagata defeated Masato Tanaka to win the Zero1 World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Keiji Mutoh defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

4 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Glory By Honor XI from the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

  • In a preshow dark match, Chaz Montana & Rip Impact defeated Mathieu St-Jacques & Mike Rollins
  • Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander defeated The Bravado Brothers (Harlem Bravado & Lancelot Bravado).
  • Mike Bennett defeated Mike Mondo.
  • Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin) defeated BJ Whitmer & Rhett Titus.
  • Jay Lethal defeated Davey Richards.
  • Tadarius Thomas defeated Rhino.
  • Adam Cole defeated Eddie Edwards to retain the ROH World Television Championship.
  • SCUM (Jimmy Jacobs & Steve Corino) defeated The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
  • Kevin Steen defeated Michael Elgin to retain the ROH World Championship.

2 years ago today, New Japan Pro Wrestling presented King of Pro-Wrestling from New Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

  • Kota Ibushi, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma and Yuji Nagata defeated Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson and Tama Tonga).
  • Chase Owens defeated Bushi to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
  • K.E.S. (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer) defeated Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima) to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
  • Kazushi Sakuraba and Toru Yano defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka).
  • Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and Kushida) defeated Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero) and The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) in a three-team match to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.
  • Ryusuke Taguchi defeated El Desperado to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
  • Tomohiro Ishii defeated Yujiro Takahashi to win the NEVER Openweight Championship.
  • Meiyu Tag (Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata) defeated Chaos (Shinsuke Nakamura and Yoshi-Hashi).
  • Kazuchika Okada defeated Tetsuya Naito to retain his right to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 9.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated A.J. Styles to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. The win gave Tanahashi New Japan's top prize for a seventh time, a company record.

Today would have been the 90th birthday of Edward Wladyslaw Spunick, best known to wrestling fans as Killer Kowaski.

Born to Polish immigrants in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Kowalski didn't expect to become a wrestler, or go into sports at all for that matter. He majored in electrical engineering in college and worked at the Ford Plant in Detroit to help pay his way. Getting paid just $50 a week and hearing he could make more as a wrestler, he eventually decided to give wrestling a shot.

He began his career as Tarzan Kowalski in 1947, but also wrestled as Hercules Kowalski, the Polish Apollo, and Killer Kowalski (the one that stuck-he even legally changed his name to Walter Kowalski in 1963, though he changed his name to Wladek Kowalski to sound more menacing briefly). Kowalski's earliest recorded match was in May 1948, and by the end of the year, he was taking on Orville Brown for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He would wrestle as a heel usually, unless he faced Buddy Rogers, who was even more heel. Away from the ring, promoters complained about Kowalski's friendly demeanor away from the ring because it broke kayfabe.

Kowalski cemented his status as a hated heel in an October 1952 match against Yukon Eric where he ripped off part of Eric's cauliflowered ear (the injury was accidental). He also accidentally knocked out boxing great Jack Dempsey in a match when he faced Pat O'Connor in 1958. He clawed Australian talk show host Don Lane in 1967. In 1972, Kowalksi was the first man to score a pinfall win over Andre the Giant in North America. Kowalski was Bruno Sammartino's main antagonist in the 1960s and 1970s during his run in the WWWF. Kowalski would win the WWWF Tag Team Championship with Gorilla Monsoon in 1963, and again with Big John Studd as the masked Executioners in 1976.

After retiring in 1977, Kowalski started a professional wrestling school in Malden, Massachusetts. Among his most famous students are Triple H, Chyna, Perry Saturn, John Kronus, Big John Studd, April Hunter, Christopher Nowitski, Brittany Brown, Eddie Edwards, Frankie Kazarian, Damien Sandow, and Fandango. A vegetarian who didn't drink or smoke (nor would he drive with wrestlers who smoked and a lifelong bachelor, Kowalksi married at the spry age of 79 in 2006.

Kowalski was rehabbing a knee injury in August 8, 2008 when he suffered what would be a fatal heart attack. After his family was informed that there was no chance of recovery, Kowalski was taken off life support ten days later. His death was erroneously reported at the time, but he would end up passing away on August 30 at age 81.

Kowalski is a member of the inaugural Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame class of 1996, the same year he went into the WWF Hall of Fame, and would enter the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003. He was honored with the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Stanley Weston Award for lifetime achievement posthumously in 2010.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats