clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This Day in Wrestling History (Oct. 23): High-Definition Impact

this day in wrestling history

22 years ago today, WCW presented Halloween Havoc (WWE Network link) from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. About 14,000 were in attendance with 210,000 homes watching on PPV (though some estimates have it at 220,000 homes), more than double the number of buys the 1993 edition got. The hook of the show was a career vs. career world title match between Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair.

  • In a preshow dark match, Booker T defeated Brian Armstrong.
  • Johnny B. Badd and The Honky Tonk Man to a 10-minute time-limit draw for the WCW World Televeision Championship. It was the final PPV appearance for the Honky Tonk Man. Prior to Starrcade, Honky, real name Roy Ferris, got into a dispute with WCW management and was fired.
  • Pretty Wonderful (Paul Orndorff and Paul Roma) defeated Stars 'n' Stripes (The Patriot and Marcus Alexander Bagwell) to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
  • Dave Sullivan defeated Kevin Sullivan by count-out.
  • Dustin Rhodes defeated Arn Anderson.
  • Hacksaw Jim Duggan defeated Stunning Steve Austin by disqualification to retain the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship.
  • Vader defeated The Guardian Angel.
  • The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags) defeated Terry Funk and Bunkhouse Buck.
  • Hulk Hogan defeated Ric Flair in a steel cage career vs. career match to retain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Mr. T was the special enforcer. As a result of the loss, Flair was forced to retire (which, of course, did not stick).

21 years ago today on Monday Night RAW from Brandon, Manitoba, Canada (WWE Network link), Alundra Blayze defeated Bertha Faye to win the WWF Womens Championship.

She would be the company's last champion until 1998 (the division would be abandoned following Survivor Series a month later). Two months later, she appeared on Nitro and dumped the WWF women's title belt.

On the same show, Owen Hart wins a 20-man battle royal for a future shot at the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

17 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ECW stunned the wrestling world with the return of former ECW world champion Mikey Whipwreck after spending the last two years in WCW. He lost to then-ECW world champion Mike Awesome.

As it turned out, he wasn't the only ECW world champion to return. Sandman came back too, less than a year after leaving for WCW. Also on the card, ECW World Television Champion Rob Van Dam and Sabu wrestled to a 30-minute time limit draw.

16 years ago today on RAW is WAR from Harford, Connecticut (WWE Network link), The Hardy Boyz, disguised as Los Conquistadores, defeated Edge in a handicap match to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. Though Edge and Christian tried to dispute the outcome, the decision stood.

16 years ago today, Rodney Agatupu Anoa'i, best known to wrestling fans as Yokozuna, dies of pulmonary edema, a buildup of fluid in the lungs. He was just 34.

Born October 2, 1966 in San Francisco, Anoa'I grew up in the famed wrestling family and was trained by his uncles, the Wild Samoans. After wrestling in Japan and Mexico as the Great Kokina, he entered the AWA as Samoan superstar Kokina Maximus managed by Sheik Adnan El Kassey. Anoa'I is in AWA lore for breaking the leg and ending the career of Greg Gagne.

On Halloween 1992, Anoa'I debuted in the WWF as Japanese sumo wrestler Yokozuna under the management of Harry Fujiwara (aka Mr. Fuji). As Yokozuna, he was pushed as a monster heel in every sense of the word. AtSurvivor Series, he easily defeated Virgil. Two months later he defeated Koko B. Ware on the first Monday Night RAW. He eliminated a match-high seven competitors, last eliminating Randy Savage to win the 1993 Royal Rumblematch, and with it, a WWF Championship match at Wrestlemania IX. Yokozuna in the first few months was rarely knocked off his feet; only Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Savage were able to do so in his first six months in the company.

At Wrestlemania IX, Yokozuna defeated Bret Hart to win the WWF Championship, only to lose the title just two minutes later to Hulk Hogan. Hogan would not defend the title in his two and a half months as champion, losing it back to Yokozuna at King of the Ring (at this point he weighed about 570 lbs.; he entered the WWF at 505 lbs.) with, ironically, a leg drop.

With Yokozuna and Fuji claiming they ended Hulkamania (in reality, Hogan had indeed left the company to pursue an acting career), they issued a Bodyslam Challenge on the Fourth of July. After dozens of amateur and professional athletes tried unsuccessfully, Lex Luger, arriving via helicopter, did so. This established Luger as the next man up for Yokozuna's title. Luger would go on to defeat Yokozuna at Summerslam, albeit by countout. Despite it being Luger's one and only shot at the title, the two would feud for most of the remainder of the year.

Yokozuna feuded with the Undertaker during the holiday season and into 1994, culminating in a casket match at the Royal Rumble event. With the help of a dozen competitors and a broken urn, Yokozuna defeated Undertaker. At the same show, Bret Hart and Lex Luger co-won the Royal Rumble match, establishing both men as challengers to the title at Wrestlemania X. While Luger got disqualified in his title bout with Yokozuna, Bret Hart defeated the behemoth to win the WWF Championship. With Yokozuna's championship days behind him, he tagged with Crush for a few months, then finished his feud with Undertaker; this time with the Deadman defeating Yokozuna in a casket match.

Yokozuna wrestled sporadically until Wrestlemania XI when he was revealed as the surprise tag team partner of Owen Hart. Together, they knocked off the Smoking Gunns to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. They would hold the titles until In Your House 3: Tripleheader in September when Shawn Michaels and Diesel defeated them for the titles-sort of (Davey Boy Smith subbed for Owen Hart in the match, yet it was Owen who got pinned). Michaels and Diesel were forced to return the belts the next night back to Owen and Yokozuna, but they would lose them by the end of the hour to the Smoking Gunns.

While Yokozuna's weight increased, his in-ring success decreased. By 1996, he ballooned to 650 pounds and he was becoming an increasing liability. Jim Cornette tried to broker peace between Yokozuna and newcomer Vader, but it did not work out; Yokozuna turned face, retaining his original manager Mr. Fuji (waving an American flag as opposed to a Japanese flag in his previous three years in the company) and speaking English. The two super heavyweights feuded until shortly after Wrestlemania XII when Vader broke Yokozuna's leg (in reality, it was to give Yokozuna some time off to lose weight). Post-match, Yokozuna had to be carried off on a forklift. Yokozuna defeated Vader at In Your House 8: Beware of Dog, but the match never aired due to a severe thunderstorm in the area. A rematch was done two nights later, this time won by Vader.

Three months later in an event eerily similar to his humiliating defeat at Wrestlemania X, Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Yokozuna in the Summerslam preshow. The next night, he seemingly turned heel again, facing WWF Champion Shawn Michaels in a non-title match, but lost. After appearing at Survivor Series that November, Yokozuna was taken off TV again to lose weight. Despite losing over 100 pounds, he could not be medically cleared to wrestle and was finally released in 1998.

Yokozuna's last notable appearance was in October 1999 for the infamous Heroes of Wrestling PPV event. He was set to take on King Kong Bundy in a featured bout, but an intoxicated and inebriated Jake Roberts forced a change in the match, with Yokozuna (now at 760 pounds and getting bigger in an attempt to break the world record for heaviest pro wrestler ever) teaming with Roberts to take on Bundy and Jim Neidhart, with the latter team winning.

At the time of his death, Rodney weighed about 580 pounds, about his weight at the time of his WWF title win in 1993. Anoa'I, the only man with victories over both Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan, was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his cousins the Usos in 2012.

15 years and a day ago today in Tokyo, Japan, Eiji Ezaki, aka Hayabusa, is paralyzed following a botched Lionsault attempt during an Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling event.

Hayabusa attempted a springboard moonsault from the second rope, but did not get enough bounce to flip backward onto Mammoth Suzuki; he lost his footing and landed on his head, cracking two of his vertebrae (the L4 and L5) and paralyzing him instantly. He developed a fever and required surgery.

The paralysis of Ezaki would be a fatal blow to FMW, as he was the face of the company. About a million dollars in the red to various Japanese organizations possibly connected to the Yakuza, FMW would shut down in February 2002. FMW founder Shoichi Arai, one of Ekazi’s closest friends, was found hung in a park in Tokyo just three months later.

As for Ezaki, he would become a singer in 2007. Late in 2015, Ezaki would regain use of his legs and stand on his own and walk with a cane. On March 3, 2016, Ezaki died of a subarachnoid hemorrhage in his home in Tokyo. He was 47.

15 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Omaha, Nebraska (WWE Network link), The Dudley Boyz defeated The Hardy Boyz to win the WCW Tag Team Championship.

Though the titles were WWF-owned, the win made the Dudleys the only duo to win tag team championships in the WWF, WCW, and ECW. They would be the last team to hold the titles, as they were unified with the WWF tag team titles following Survivor Series a few weeks later.

14 years ago today at an NWA-TNA weekly PPV taping in Nashville, Tennessee, AJ Styles defeated Syxx-Pac to win the TNA X Division Championship.

12 years ago today in Highland, Indiana, CM Punk defeated AJ Styles to win the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship for the fifth time.

11 years ago today, TNA presented Bound for Glory from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.

This was the first TNA event in the Impact Zone era where priority seating was offered; those who paid for tickets for their weekend Total Nonstop InterAction fanfest were the first to get seats for the show, as Universal Orlando prohibits charging admission for shows on their property.

  • Sonjay Dutt defeated Alex Shelley, Austin Aries and Roderick Strong in a four-way match.
  • Samoa Joe defeated Jushin Liger.
  • Diamonds In The Rough (David Young, Elix Skipper and Simon Diamond) defeated Apolo, Shark Boy and Sonny Siaki.
  • Monty Brown defeated Lance Hoyt.
  • Team Canada (A1, Bobby Roode & Eric Young) defeated 3 Live Kru (BG James, Konnan & Ron Killings).
  • Petey Williams defeated Chris Sabin & Matt Bentley in a #1 contender's Ultiimate X match for the TNA X Division Championship.
  • America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm defeated The Naturals (Andy Douglas & Chase Stevens) to retain the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
  • Rhino defeated Abyss, Jeff Hardy, and Sabu in a Monster's Ball match.
  • AJ Styles defeated Christopher Daniels 1-0 in a 30-minute Ironman match to retain the TNA X Division Championship. Styles scored the only fall of the match with two seconds remaining.
  • Rhino defeated Abyss, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Kip James, Lance Hoyt, Monty Brown, Ron Killings, Sabu & Samoa Joe in a Gauntlet Battle Royal to become #1 Contender to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Rhino defeated Jeff Jarrett to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Tito Ortiz was the special referee.

10 years ago today, Monty Brown and Larry Zbyszko were released from TNA.

Brown would turn up in WWE three months later as Marcus Cor Von, but only stuck around a few months before leaving due to family issues.

10 years ago today, WWE airs the 700th episode of Monday Night RAW (WWE Network link). In the show's main event emanating from Chicago, Illinois, Randy Orton defeated Triple H.

8 years ago today, TNA Impact enters the high-definition era with a live episode from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is the first episode of Impact to take place anywhere other than the Impact Zone in Orlando or the Asylum in Nashville.

The big story of the evening was the formation of the Main Event Mafia, a group of former world champions that made their name elsewhere: Kurt Angle, Sting, Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, and Booker T.

On the same show, the TNA Legends Championship (which would go through several name changes before being finally retired in August 2016) is born and Booker T christens himself as the first champion.

6 years ago today at UFC 121 in Anaheim, California, Cain Velasquez defeated Brock Lesnar via first-round TKO to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

5 years ago today, WWE presented Vengeance (WWE Network link) from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. About 8,000 were in attendance, with just 130,000 homes watching on PPV. With 70,000 domestic buys, it's at the time the least-bought PPV in the States since December to Dismember in 2006 (55,000 buys).

  • In a preshow match, Wade Barrett defeated Daniel Bryan.
  • Air Boom (Evan Bourne & Kofi Kingston) defeated Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Dolph Ziggler defeated Zack Ryder to retain the WWE United States Championship.
  • Beth Phoenix defeated Eve Torres to retain the WWE Divas Championship.
  • Sheamus defeated Christian.
  • The Awesome Truth (The Miz & R-Truth) defeated CM Punk & Triple H.
  • Randy Orton defeated Cody Rhodes.
  • Mark Henry fought The Big Show to a no contest for the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Alberto Del Rio defeated John Cena in a Last Man Standing match to retain the WWE Championship.

It's a happy 29th birthday to cheerleader and fitness model-turned-wrestler Leah Van Dale, known to wrestling fans these days as Carmella.

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Leah is the daughter of 1990s WWF jobber Paul Van Dale. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with a Bachelor's in marketing. She spent three years as a cheerleader for the New England Patriots and one season as a Los Angeles Laker Girl.

In June 2013, Van Dale signed with WWE and joined their NXT developmental program that September. It would not be until September 2014 she made her television debut as soon-to-be-unemployed hairdresser to Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady, With Enzo and Cass' foolish actions costing Carmella her hairdressing gig, she turned up at the WWE Performance Center asking for a job.

Carmella debuted a few weeks later on NXT defeating a local jobber. The jobber, Leva Bates, would gain a modicum of popularity as Blue Pants. Carmella defeated her again, but would lose to her on the January 1, 2015 episode. Carmella was being wooed by Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy during the spring, but it was all a ruse; Carmella was neutralized by Alexa Bliss at NXT Takeover: Unstoppable, clinching the successful tag title defense for Blake and Murphy.

She briefly contended for the NXT Womens Championship when she won a #1 contender’s battle royal, but was unable to defeat Bayley for the title.

After a one-off appearance at the WWE Network special Roadblock in March when she accompanied Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady, she was brought up to the main roster as a singles act in the 2016 WWE Draft. She was drafted to Smackdown and began feuding with the returning Nikki Bella.

Leah, a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer, is a lefty, and cites Miss Elizabeth and Trish Stratus as her favorite performers growing up.

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