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This Day in Wrestling History (Oct. 19): Road Warrior Hawk Passes Away

this day in wrestling history

31 years ago today in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carlos Colon defeated Abdullah the Butcher to win the WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship.

15 years ago today in Yokohama, Japan, Vader and 2 Cold Scorpio defeated Jun Akiyama and Akitoshi Saito in a tournament final to be crowned the first Pro Wrestling NOAH GHC Tag Team Champions.

15 years ago today in Perth, Australia, Road Dogg Jesse James defeated Jeff Jarrett to become the first World Wrestling All-Stars World Heavyweight Champion.

13 years ago today, WWE presented No Mercy (WWE Network link) from the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. About 8,500 were in attendance, with 254,000 homes watching on PPV, down from 300,000 the previous year.

Of note, one of the show's featured bouts was a father-daughter "I Quit" match. Intergender matches at the time were forbidden under Maryland State Athletic Commission rules, but WWE paid the fine in advance to have the match go on as planned.

  • In a preshow Sunday Night Heat match, Billy Kidman defeated Shannon Moore.
  • Tajiri defeated Rey Mysterio to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
  • Chris Benoit defeated A-Train.
  • Zach Gowen defeated Matt Hardy.
  • The APA (Faarooq and Bradshaw) defeated The Basham Brothers (Danny and Doug).
  • Vince McMahon defeated Stephanie McMahon in a "I Quit" match when Linda McMahon threw in the towel on Stephanie's behalf. This would be Stephanie's final WWE television appearance until RAW Homecoming in 2005. Just days after the match, Stephanie married Triple H.
  • Kurt Angle defeated John Cena via submission.
  • The Big Show defeated Eddie Guerrero to win the WWE United States Championship.
  • Brock Lesnar defeated The Undertaker in a Biker Chain match to retain the WWE Championship.

12 years ago today, WWE presented Taboo Tuesday (WWE Network link) from the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Just 3,500 were in attendance, with 174,000 homes watching on PPV.

This was the first PPV in WWE history where match stipulations and opponents were determined by a fan vote. This was also the first WWE PPV to air on a day other than Sunday since Survivor Series in 1994, which aired in its then-traditional Thanksgiving eve spot.

  • In a preshow dark match, Sgt. Slaughter defeated Muhammad Hassan by disqualification.
  • Shelton Benjamin defeated Chris Jericho to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Shelton won the right to challenge for the title with 37% of the vote. Batista finished second with 20%, and in a surprising third place, Jonathan Coachman with 7%.
  • Trish Stratus defeated Molly Holly, Stacy Keibler, Victoria, Gail Kim, Jazz, and Nidia in a “Fulfill Your Fantasy” Battle Royal to retain the WWE Womens Championship. The ladies all wore schoolgirl outfits, as decided by 53% of the vote. Other choices were French maid (30%) and nurse's uniform (17%).
  • Gene Snitsky defeated Kane in a Weapon of Choice match. The weapon of choice was a chain (40%), beating out steel chair and lead pipe (30% each).
  • Eugene defeated Eric Bischoff in a "Choose the Loser's Fate" match. The loser's fate as determined by fan vote was a head shave (59%), selected over wearing a dress and becoming the winner's servant (21% each).
  • Chris Benoit and Edge defeated La Résistance (Sylvain Grenier and Robért Conway) to win the World Tag Team Championship. Prior to the match, it was revealed that Shawn Michaels won the world title challenger vote. The two that did not win the vote would challenge for the tag titles.
  • Christy Hemme defeated Carmella DeCesare in a lingerie pillow fight. The pillow fight won with 57% of the vote. Other options were evening gown match (33%) and an aerobics challenge (10%).
  • Triple H defeated Shawn Michaels to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. Despite suffering a torn meniscus the night prior, Shawn Michaels won the right to challenge for the title with 39% of the vote, with Edge finishing second at 33%, and Chris Benoit finishing third with 28%.
  • Randy Orton defeated Ric Flair in a steel cage match. Steel cage was the runaway fan choice for stipulation with 68%, followed by falls count anywhere with 20%, and submission match with 12%.

12 years ago today, Michael Hegstrand, best known to his many fans as Road Warrior Hawk, died of a sudden heart attack in his home in Indian Rocks Head, Florida. He was 46.

Born September 12, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois, Hegstrand moved to Minneapolis as a boy. After graduating from high school in 1976, he worked odd jobs to make ends meet, such as meat butchering and bouncing for a bar. It was while he was a bouncer he caught the eye of trainer Eddie Sharkey, thinking Hegstrand, along with Joe Lauriniaitis, and Barry Darsow, could make something of themselves in wrestling.

Hegstrand would begin his wrestling career as Crusher Von Haig as part of the Traveling All-Stars in Vancouver. Despite his love for power lifting, he was considered small and many thought he did not have the skills to make it. Hegstrand would grow weary of road life, so he along with Sharkey trainee Rick Rude headed back home to Minneapolis.

In 1983, Hegstrand in a pinch would be paired with Joe Lauriniaitis (Joe's original partner was facing legal issues) and Ole Anderson would dub them the Road Warriors. The duo would be paired with manager Paul Ellering in Georgia Championship Wrestling. Michael and Joe would be renamed Hawk and Animal, and together the trio would be the Legion of Doom. Inspired by the movie Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, the duo would have mohawked heads, studded dog collars, spiked shoulder pads, and face paint, usually red, black, and white.

Over the next few years, their smashmouth, no-nonsense style and bombastic promos (often trademarked by Hawk's "WELLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!" and "OOOOOOOOOHHHHHH, WHAT A RUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSHHHHHHH!") would prove to be a hit with the wrestling world, winning tag team championships in Georgia Championship Wrestling, AWA, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and by the end of 1988, the NWA. Despite being heels for much of their initial run, fans loved their style, which was innovative for their time.

The duo would land in the WWF in 1990 and would feud with their counterparts, Demolition initially, and at Summerslam 1991, the duo would add the WWF tag team titles to their trophy case. They briefly left the WWF following losing the titles in January 1992, but returned with longtime manager Paul Ellering and a wooden dummy. Both members of the team thought the gimmick was stupid and Hawk left the WWF entirely.

Hawk would find moderate success as a singles competitor in Japan and Europe, wining the IWGP tag titles twice for New Japan Pro Wrestling with Kensuke Sasaki as the Hellraisers, but no North American promoter though of bringing the new duo over. He would also win the Catch Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Championship before making his way back to the States in 1993.

Hawk would compete in NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling for a spell, then returned to WCW as a partner for Dustin Rhodes and Davey Boy Smith. He left WCW again following Starrcade 1993, and after a brief run in 1995, returned full-time with longtime partner Animal in January 1996. They unsuccessfully challenged for the tag titles, and with the rise of the New World Order, they left again for the WWF.

LOD would be a part of the border war feud with the Hart Foundation in the summer and fall of 1997, and would defeat the Goddwins to win the WWF tag titles in October 1997. They'd lose the belts a month later to upstart team the New Age Outlaws. The duos would feud through the latter part of the year, with one of Hawk's Mohawks being shaved by the Outlaws.

They would be repackaged as LOD 2000 with Sunny as their manager, but she would not be with the duo long. They were then paired with former football player Darren "Puke" Drozdov and would be a part of a controversial storyline involving Hawk's real-life alcohol and drug issues. It would be later revealed (in storyline) that Hawk was enabled by Puke, ultimately leading to Hawk's "suicide" on-air. That hit a little too close to home, and both Hegstrand and Laurinaitis left the company soon after.

While Michael struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, Joe would wrestle solo. In 2001, Hegstrand was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, preventing him from wrestling for a while. By the next year, the duo would work regularly again, mostly on the independent circuit aside from one wrestling appearance each for TNA and WWE in 2003. Michael's final bout came two weeks before his death teaming with Joe to take on Greg Valentine and Buff Bagwell.

Hegstrand as part of the Legion of Doom would be inducted into the WWE and Professional Wrestling Halls of Fame in 2011, and was a part of the original Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame class in 1996. In 2012, Hegstrand was posthumously inducted into the NWA Hall of Fame.

9 years ago today, Kristal Marshall was released from WWE after turning down an angle where she would turn heel and align with Edge.

The angle would have stemmed from Teddy Long's wedding gone wrong to Kristal a few weeks earlier. Ultimately, the role was filled by Vickie Guerrero.

9 years ago today in Las Vegas, Nevada, Chris Hero defeated Human Tornado, Rocky Romero, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, and Claudio Castignoli to win the 2007 ROH Survival of the Fittest tournament.

Other participants in the tournament, but not qualifying for the final, included TJ Perkins, Karl Anderson, Delirious, Davey Richards, ROH champion Nigel McGuineess, Bryan Danielson, Tony Kozina, and Shane Hagadorn. Of note, Hero scored all five eliminations in the final match.

8 years ago today, Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling debuted on CMT, with appearances by Rob Van Dam and Bill Goldberg.

The ten cast members for the show's only season were former child actor Danny Bonaduce, boxing champion Butterbean, former child actors Todd Bridges, Dustin Diamond, and Erin Murphy, former NBA player Dennis Rodman, reality television star Trishelle Cannatella, former teen pop singer Tiffany, model Nikki Ziering, and actor/singer Frank Stallone. Tiffany was eliminated on the debut episode. Todd survived elimination that week and ended up in the final before losing to Dennis Rodman.

1 year ago today, Thomas Latimer is reinstated by TNA after domestic battery charges and false imprisonment charges were dropped by the Florida State Attorney’s Office.

Latimer, who wrestles for TNA as Bram, was arrested on August 30 in Gulfport, Florida on one count each of domestic battery and false imprisonment after his girlfriend alleged he held her down by the throat and refused to let her leave the bedroom. Latimer was arrested and released two days later after posting a $5,000 bond.

Ten days after the charges were dropped, Latimer finalized his divorce to Ashley Fleihr, who wrestles in WWE as Charlotte.

It's a surely happy 45th birthday to Julia Hamer-Bevis, known to wrestling fans as "Sweet" Saraya Knight, or as WWE diva Paige calls her, Mum.

Born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, Hamer left her home when she was 18 to become a chef for a holiday camp. It was there she met professional wrestler Ricky Knight. The two became inseparable and eventually began travelling together. Over the next few months, Hamer would make wrestling costumes for Ricky and put up and take down the ring. Julia debuted during that summer as Ricky's manager Saraya. By 1993, Ricky proposed that Julia should wrestle, and she agreed.

After two decades of promoting and wrestling throughout the United Kingdom, she made her American debut for Shimmer Women Athletes in March 2011 with her daughter Britani, managed by Rebecca Knox (today known as WWE's Paige and Becky Lynch, respectively). The Knight Dynasty won their open challenge against Ariel and Nikki Roxx.

They would unsuccessfully challenge for the tag titles against the Seven Star Sisters and the Knight Dynasty fell into a tailspin, resulting in mother and daughter feuding. Daughter Britani defeated mother Saraya at Shimmer Volume 44, Britani's final match before leaving for Florida Championship Wrestling. Saraya would remain with Shimmer, ultimately defeating Cheerleader Melissa at Volume 48 for the Shimmer Championship in March 2012. She would hold the title until the weekend of Wrestlemania 29 before losing it back to Cheerleader Melissa in a steel cage match.

Julia is married to Ricky Knight, and the couple have two children, both in the wrestling business. She also owns her own wrestling promotion, Bellatrix Female Warriors, operating out of Norwich, England. A documentary was produced on the Knights in 2012, Fighting with My Family.

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