22 years ago today at All Japan Pro Wrestling's 22nd anniversary show in Tokyo, Japan, Toshiaka Kawada defeated "Dr. Death" Steve Williams to win the All Japan Triple Crown Championship.
21 years ago today, WWF presented In Your House 4: Great White North (WWE Network link) from the Winnipeg Arena in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. 10,339 were in attendance, with 90,000 homes watching on PPV, though some estimates have the number of home buys as high as 125,000.
When the PPV went off the air, legend has it that Vince McMahon was so disgusted with the main event, he slammed down his headset and screamed “Horrible!”, leading to the decision to end Diesel’s long reign as WWF Champion a month later.
- In a preshow Free for All match, Bob Holly defeated Rad Radford.
- Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeated Fatu.
- The Smoking Gunns (Bart & Billy Gunn) defeated Razor Ramon & The 1-2-3 Kid to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
- Goldust defeated Marty Jannetty. This was Goldust’s in-ring debut.
- King Mabel and Yokozuna fought to a double countout. Undertaker was supposed to face Mabel in the match, but he suffered a broken orbital bone injury when he was cracked with an errant fist to the face about two weeks prior. Undertaker wrestled a few more dates before the pain became unbearable.
- Dean Douglas is awarded the WWF Intercontinental Championship via forfeit due to a Shawn Michaels injury. The injury stemmed from a confrontation with a group of US Marines at a Syracuse, New York nightclub on October 14. No arrests were made in the attack, as Michaels checked himself out of a hospital and flew home before he could be questioned by police. The injuries prevented Michaels from competing for about a month, making this the second time Michaels had lost the Intercontinental title without being beaten for it.
- Razor Ramon defeated Dean Douglas to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship. The win made Douglas the shortest reigning Intercontinental Champion in WWF history at just 11 minutes. The record still stands.
- The British Bulldog defeated Diesel by disqualification in a WWF Championship match.
- In a post-show dark match, Henry O. Godwinn defeated Sycho Sid.
- In a post-show dark match, Bret Hart defeated Isaac Yankem.
- In a post-show dark match, Owen Hart & Yokozuna defeated Bam Bam Bigelow & Savio Vega.
16 years ago today, WWF presented No Mercy (WWE Network link) from the Pepsi Arena in Albany, New York. 14,332 were in attendance, with 550,000 homes watching on PPV, more than 200,000 more than the 1999 edition.
The main draw was the in-ring return of Stone Cold Steve Austin, out of action since the previous year's Survivor Series due to a neck injury.
- The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) last eliminated Right to Censor (The Goodfather and Bull Buchanan) to win the Dudley Boyz Invitational tables match. Other participants were Tazz & Raven and Too Cool (Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty).
- The APA (Bradshaw and Faarooq) and Lita fought T&A (Test and Albert) and Trish Stratus to a no contest.
- Chris Jericho defeated X-Pac in a steel cage match.
- Val Venis and Steven Richards defeated Chyna and Mr. Ass.
- Stone Cold Steve Austin fought Rikishi to a no contest in a no holds barred match.
- William Regal defeated Naked Mideon to retain the WWF European Championship.
- Los Conquistadores (Edge and Christian in masks) defeated The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.
- Triple H defeated Chris Benoit.
- Kurt Angle defeated The Rock in a no disqualification match to win the WWF Championship.
15 years ago today on RAW from Kansas City, Missouri (WWE Network link), four championships change hands, including three title changes in consecutive matches.
- Lita and Trish Stratus defeated Ivory and Mighty Molly.
- Tajiri defeated Billy Kidman to win the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.
- Kurt Angle defeated Rhyno to win the WCW United States Championship.
- Bradshaw defeated The Hurricane to win the WWF European Championship.
- Kane and The Undertaker defeated Booker T and Test.
- Rob Van Dam defeated The Big Show to retain the WWF Hardcore Championship. He’s the only champion out of five to win their match on the show.
- Chris Jericho and The Rock defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.
13 years ago today at an NWA-TNA weekly PPV taping in Nashville, Jeff Jarrett defeated AJ Styles to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
10 years ago today, TNA presented Bound for Glory from the Compuware Sports Arena in Detroit, Michigan.
Of note, this is the first TNA PPV to take place away from the Impact Zone or the Asylum. Needless to say, it got a record attendance for a TNA event at the time, about 4,400 fans. Also of note, this is Kurt Angle's TNA PPV debut.
- In a preshow match, Bobby Roode defeated Lance Hoyt.
- Austin Starr last eliminated Jay Lethal to win the Kevin Nash Open Invitational X Division Gauntlet Battle Royal. Other participants were Sonjay Dutt, Maverick Matt, Jay Lethal, A-1, Zach Gowen, Kazarian, Sirelda, Shark Boy, Alex Shelley, D-Ray 3000, Johnny Devine, Elix Skipper, Short Sleeve Sampson, Norman Smiley, and Petey Williams.
- Team 3D (Brother Ray & Brother Devon) defeated America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris &James Storm), The James Gang (B.G James & Kip James) & The Naturals (Chase Stevens & Andy Douglas) in a four corners match.
- Samoa Joe defeated Abyss, Brother Runt, and Raven in a Monster's Ball match. Jake Roberts was the special guest referee.
- Eric Young defeated Larry Zbyszko. As a result of the loss, Zbyszko was fired.
- Chris Sabin defeated Senshi to win the TNA X Division Championship.
- Christian Cage defeated Rhino in an 8 Mile Street Fight.
- Latin American Exchange (Hernandez and Homicide) defeated A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels in a Six Sides of Steel cage match to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
- Sting defeated Jeff Jarrett to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Kurt Angle was the special enforcer. Had Sting lost, he would have been forced to retire.
9 years ago today on RAW from Omaha, Nebraska (WWE Network link), Beth Phoenix defeated Candice Michelle 2-0 in a best of three falls match to retain the WWE Womens Championship.
The match went to a rushed ending when Candice broke her clavicle when Beth ran the ropes, knocking Candice off and falling in an awkward position.
Though Candice returned the following February 2008, her career never recovered. In her first match back in March, her clavicle is essentially shattered when it’s broken in four places. The injury took her out of a scheduled tag team match at Wrestlemania just two weeks later. Though she would return in September, Michelle rarely contended for the women’s title, and after being drafted to Smackdown in April 2009, she wouldn’t be used at all; Candice was released that summer.
5 years ago today at Pro Wrestling Guerrilla’s Steen Wolf in Resada, California, El Generico defeated Kevin Steen in a ladder match to win the PWG World Heavyweight Championship.
It's a happy 74th birthday to the WWWF's first Triple Crown (and Grand Slam-albeit unofficially) champion, Pedro Morales.
Born in Culebra, Puerto Rico to a very large family (his mother's side alone had nearly 100 cousins), he moved to Brooklyn, New York to live with an aunt as a teenager. Through a mutual connection, he came across a wrestling club and quickly took interest. Practicing in school and at a local YMCA, he began competing as an amateur wrestler at age 13. Around this time, he became a pro wrestling fan, following the careers of fellow Latinos Miguel Perez, Sr. and Antonio Rocca. At age 16, he was selected in the first year draft for Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico, that country's Major League Baseball counterpart. He declined to return to Puerto Rico and focused on becoming a professional wrestler.
Pedro began his pro career in 1959 at just seventeen years old, training under Barba Roja. He wrestled mainly out of New York and the surrounding tri-state area before travelling to Virginia and North Carolina in 1961. He would often team with the top Puerto Rican and Latino wrestlers of the day during his travels, including Pepper Gonzales, Gypsy Joe, and Gory Guerrero.
In the fall of 1962, he relocated to Washington, DC and would team with Miguel Perez, Sr. and Argentina Apollo. They would team over the next two years and engage in a number of high profile feuds before joining Worldwide Wrestling Associates in California in 1965, an organization that served as something of a West Coast version of the NWA. In March 1965, he would win his first championship, the WWA World Heavyweight Championship, defeating Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer.
He would not be champion long, losing the title just four months later to Luke Graham, but Morales would respond quickly by taking Graham's Brass Knuckles title in a best of three falls chain match less than a month later, then taking the world title from him in October. He would hold the WWA world title until the following August when Morales, at this point a double champion after winning the WWA tag titles with Luis Hernandez, lost to Billy Austin. He would focus primarily on tag team wrestling for the remainder of the decade, winning the WWA tag titles three more times with three different partners and the NWA Hawaii tag titles three times and the Hawaii version of the NWA North American Championship twice in 1969 and a third time in 1970.
Morales debuted for the WWWF in November 1970. What was originally a one-shot deal became one of the most successful runs in pro wrestling history. In January 1971, he defeated Pat Patterson to win the vacant WWWF United States Championship, only for him to vacate it a month later because he became the WWWF world champion when he defeated Ivan Koloff (the man who ended Bruno Sammartino's eight-year world title run). The win made Morales the first Latino wrestler to win a "Big 3" world championship. In his first year and a half as champion, he engaged in heated feuds with Lou Albano, Freddie Blassie, and Stan Stasiak among others.
In July 1972, Mr. Fuji during a tag match threw salt in the eyes of both Morales and Sammartino, leading the two blinded combatants to fight one another. When their vision cleared, they kept fighting, much to the surprise of the crowd. This led to what was dubbed "The Match of the Century" in Shea Stadium on September 30, 1972. Morales and Sammartino, both fan favorites, but leaning heavily towards Morales, wrested to a time-limit draw due to curfew regulations. In his final month as champion, Morales made an appearance at an AWA event, defeating Ray Stevens in a best of three falls match, then beating Larry Hennig. He would lose the title to Stan Stasiak on December 1, 1973, ending his world title run at 1,027 days, the fifth longest championship reign in WWE history and by far the longest by run by any Latino-born wrestler. Morales would remain in the WWWF until March 1975.
After successful runs in the AWA, and Championship Wrestling from Florida, New Japan, and the independent circuit, Morales returned to the WWF in May 1980, and he picked up right where he left off. He became #1 contender to the tag team titles with WWF Champion Bob Backlund, and won the tag team titles from the Wild Samoans at Showdown at Shea that August. But Bob holding the WWF title precluded him and Pedro from holding the tag titles, so the titles were quickly vacated. He returned to singles competition chasing Ken Patera's Intercontinental Championship and winning the title on December 9, 1980; in a side note, no footage of the match exists as the bout wasn't televised. Unrelated, it probably wouldn't have aired that night if it did as it came just one day after famed musician John Lennon was shot and killed in New York City. The win made Pedro the WWF's first and only Triple Crown champion until Bret Hart did it in 1992. Including his United States title reign nearly a decade earlier, Pedro won every championship there was to win for him at the time.
He would hold the Intercontinental title until the following June when newcomer The Magnificent Don Muraco defeated Morales. They would engage in a bloody feud for most of the remainder of the year, culminating in a Texas Death Match in Madison Square Garden in November 1981, when he regained the title from Muraco. He would hold the title for the remainder of the year and all of 1982, losing the title back to a returning Muraco in January 1983. After unsuccessful attempts to regain the title, he left the WWF for his native Puerto Rico. Morales found success for Captial Sports Promotions (today known as World Wrestling Council), challenging NWA world heavyweight champion Ric Flair in his first appearance in April 1983, and winning the the CSP tag team and North American titles.
Morales would wrestle primarily in low- and mid-card bouts in his final run in the WWF, most notably in an NFL vs. WWF battle royal at Wrestlemania 2, a losing effort to Harley Race at The Big Event, and failing to win the tag team and Intercontinental titles in 1987. His final in-ring appearance came in November 1987 in a battle royal. In the months following the event, Morales made occasional appearances on camera as a WWF official.
Following his retirement, he provided commentary for both WWF and WCW, but has largely kept a low profile since the sale of WCW, appearing in a few wrestling conventions (one in 2007 with his Showdown at Shea '72 opponent Bruno Sammartino) and at WWC's 40th anniversary event in 2013.
Morales is often praised and recognized as among the most influential performers in wrestling history, appearing in many top ten lists of greatest Intercontinental champions of all time. His combined runs of 619 days to this day remain the most by anyone in WWE history.
Pedro has been married for 50 years to his wife Karen, who share one son, Pedro Jr. Today, he resides in New Jersey, where his wife is a teacher. He continued to travel to Puerto Rico for many years following his retirement, but lingering injuries and advanced Parkinson's disease prevents him from doing so today. The 1972 Pro Wrestling Illustrated Wrestler of the Year was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1995 and was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame last year.