47 years ago today in Gifu, Japan, Antonio Inoki & Michiaki defeat Buddy Austin & Mr. Atomic to win the vacated JWA All-Asian Tag Team Championship. This would be Inoki's last title reign in JWA.
Inoki, allegedly trying to pull a coup on JWA management, would be fired in December 1971 while still one-half of the tag champions. In the end, it worked out for Inoki as he would form his own company a few months later. You may have heard of it: it's called New Japan Pro Wrestling.
26 years ago today, WWF taped The Main Event IV (WWE Network link) from the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Of note, a scheduled Nikolai Volkoff vs. Sgt. Slaughter match never took place due to Slaughter attacking and incapacitating Volkoff before the bell.
- In a dark match, The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty) defeated The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) 2-1 in a best of three falls match to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.
Some important notes here: this match was originally supposed to headline a Saturday Night’s Main Event card, but NBC demanded that WWF produce a one-hour Friday night special instead (at the time of the taping, there hadn’t been an episode of The Main Event since February), so this match, which went nearly 26 minutes, got cut from the broadcast, which aired on November 23 (just a day after that year’s Survivor Series).
Furthermore, Jim Neidhart was about to be released from the WWF, making the title change necessary, but Neidhart and the WWF came to an agreement on a new deal soon after the bout. The Rockers made a few title defenses on the house show circuit, but when Neidhart rejoined the company, the titles were given back to the Hart Foundation.
To cover for this. WWF explained that a ring rope broke during the second fall of the match (which really happened), and the match was deemed unfit for television. This nullified what would have been the only WWF tag team championship win for the Rockers. They would never win the titles together before being broken up just over a year later.
- The Ultimate Warrior defeated Ted DiBiase by disqualification to retain the WWF Championship.
- Mr. Perfect defeated The Big Boss Man by countout.
- Rick Martel defeated Tito Santana.
15 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Cincinnati, Ohio (WWE Network link), Christian defeated Bradshaw to win the WWF European Championship.
On the same show, Booker T & Test defeated The Rock & Chris Jericho to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.
9 years ago today, Solofa Fatu, Jr., aka Rikishi, aka Junior Fatu in TNA, leaves the company just six weeks after making his debut due to a financial dispute.
9 years ago today at an ECW taping in Uniondale, New York, Mark Henry defeated Big Daddy V, Kane, and The Great Khali in a “Monster Mash” battle royal.
The bout was voted by Wrestling Observer Newsletter readers as the sixth worst of 2007. In an interesting bit of trivia, the four competitors would be involved in six of the top ten matches on the list. None of them won the award, however: that “honor” went to Chris Harris versus James Storm in a blindfold match from Lockdown.
4 years ago today, WWE '13 is released in North America.
It's the last WWE video game to be released on the Nintendo Wii and the last to be released by THQ, as the company would file for bankruptcy just three months after its release. Copies of the game were temporarily recalled, but re-released when Take-Two Interactive acquired the WWE game license.
The game's hook is the "Attitude Era" mode, where players can play through key matches and moments of WWE's most successful period.
An interesting little nugget: CM Punk wasn’t the first choice to be on the cover of the game. According to Punk in an Art of Wrestling podcast just before the game’s release, that man was Sheamus:
The company [WWE] still has the guys that they want in the limelight that they want to kind of shove down people's throats. And I've obviously come to terms with the fact that I will never be that guy…They just kept throwing, you know, a certain somebody at them [THQ]. No, no, this is the guy that we want. Not Punk…not Punk.
Paul Heyman, who was involved with developing the game’s Universe Mode, corroborated the statement in an interview with the New York Post:
I've known since day one WWE does not consider CM Punk to be the poster boy for this company so this decision was made by THQ against WWE's wishes to put CM Punk on the cover.
The well-received game would sell 2.82 million copies across three consoles (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii), slightly up from 2.81 million copies for WWE ‘12 on the same platforms.
3 years ago today, Chris Jericho launches his own web comedy series, But I'm Chris Jericho. The series starring Jericho is loosely based on his life as an ex-wrestler struggling to make it as an actor.
It's a happy 43rd birthday to Adam Joseph Copeland, best known to wrestling fans as Edge.
Trained by Sweet Daddy Siki and Ron Hutchinson, he wrestled on the independent circuit in Ontario and the northern United States before landing a WWF developmental deal in 1997. The next year, he debuted as the loner Edge. His first singles championship, the WWF Intercontinental Championship, came in July 1999, but his biggest early success came on the tag team circuit, winning the WWF Tag Team Championship seven times in 2000 and 2001 with his childhood friend Jay Reso, aka Christian. Three of the seven tag title wins came in the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches.
He would win his first world title, the WWE Championship in 2006, and would go on to win ten more. He would amass 31 different championships in his career: 4-time WWE Champion, 7-time World Heavyweight Champion (a WWE record), 5-time Intercontinental Champion, United States Champion, and 14-time tag team champion (also a company record). He's also the first man to win a King of the Ring (2001), Money in the Bank ladder match (2005), and a Royal Rumble match (2010). (Sheamus joined him in July 2015 after winning Money in the Bank; he had won the 2012 Royal Rumble and the 2010 King of the Ring prior to that). At the time of his retirement in 2011, Edge won more total championships than anyone in WWE history. He would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012.
These days, he's an actor, appearing on the SyFy series Haven as Dwight Hendrickson. He also appeared in the fantasy film Highlander: Endgame, WWE Studios comedy Bending the Rules, and as Atom-Smasher on the CW series The Flash. Most recently, he appeared in the recently released WWE Studios film Interrogation, has a recurring role on the History Channel series Vikings, and hosted the WWE Network original series The Edge and Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness.
Copeland is currently with former WWE wrestler Elizabeth Kocianski, who wrestled for the company as Beth Phoenix from 2005 to 2012. The couple have two daughters, Lyric Rose and Ruby Ever.