clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This Day in Wrestling History (Oct. 4): Ric Flair Involved In Plane Crash

this day in wrestling history

41 years ago today, a twin engine Cessna 310 plane heading to Legion Stadium in Wilmington, North Carolina from Charlotte for an evening show crashes as they approach Wilmington Airport.

The plane, piloted by Vietnam War veteran Joseph Michael Farkus, carried Ric Flair, David Crockett, Bob Bruggers, Tim Woods, and Johnny Valentine. To lighten the plane’s heavy load, the pilot chose to dump fuel instead of redistributing weight through the plane. The choice proved costly, as the plane ran out of gas, sank from about 4,000 feet, and crashed just 100 yards short of the runway, missing a nearby water tower.

Everyone aboard initially survived the plane crash, though they were all seriously injured. David Crockett, who wasn’t supposed to be on the plane, suffered head and arm injuries and lost two teeth. Bruggers, Valentine, Woods, and Flair all suffered back injuries. Woods also suffered a concussion and bruised ribs.

Bruggers would undergo back surgery and have a steel rod inserted into his spinal column. Though he could have continued to wrestle, Bob ultimately decided to retire.

Flair’s back was broken in three places. Recommended by doctors never to wrestle again, Flair underwent rigorous physical therapy and returned to the ring just eight months later.

Valentine perhaps suffered the worst: in addition to his broken back, a bone fragment became embedded in his spinal column. A clamp would need to be inserted to hold the bones in his back together, rendering Valentine paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.

Farkus also suffered back injuries and went into a coma. He never came out of it, succumbing to his injuries just two months later. He was 28.

34 years ago today in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sgt. Slaughter defeated Ricky Steamboat in the finals of a tournament to crown the new NWA United States Champion.

The tournament was commissioned when Wahoo McDaniel was forced to vacate the title due to injuries suffered by Abdullah the Butcher. Other participants in the tournament included Pat Patterson, Mike David, Nikolai Volkoff, Leroy Brown, Super Destroyer, Ivan Koloff, Ron Bass, Johnny Weaver, Jay Youngblood, Steve Muslin, Jacques Goulet, Dusty Rhodes, Ole Anderson, and Ron Ritchie.

23 years ago today at a WCW Saturday Night taping in Columbus, Georgia, Marcus Alexander Bagwell and 2 Cold Scorpio defeat The Nasty Boys to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.

17 years ago today on Nitro from Kansas City, Missouri (WWE Network link), Disco Inferno defeated Psicosis to win the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.

The championship was awarded to Psicosis after WCW was forced to pull Lenny Lane off television due to Standards and Practices.

On the same show, Bret Hart defeated Chris Benoit in what was billed as a tribute match to the late Owen Hart. Both Bret and Chris trained in the Hart Dungeon in Calgary. This was Bret's first bout since his brother's passing back in May.

7 years ago today, WWE presented Hell in a Cell (WWE Network link) from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

The event, replacing No Mercy, was the first gimmick PPV since King of the Ring was introduced in 1993. 12,356 were in attendance, with 283,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 261,000 for the October 2008 event No Mercy.

The event had three Hell in a Cell matches, the only time three such matches were held in a single night in WWE history.

  • In a preshow dark match, Matt Hardy defeated Mike Knox.
  • The Undertaker defeated CM Punk in a Hell in a Cell match to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • John Morrison defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Mickie James defeated Alicia Fox to retain the WWE Divas Championship.
  • The Big Show & Chris Jericho defeated Batista & Rey Mysterio to retain the WWE Unified Tag Team Championship.
  • Randy Orton defeated John Cena in a Hell in a Cell match to win the WWE Championship (21:24)
  • Drew McIntyre defeated R-Truth.
  • Kofi Kingston defeated The Miz & Jack Swagger in a triple threat match to retain the WWE United States Championship.
  • D-Generation X (Triple H & Shawn Michaels) defeated The Legacy (Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase) in a tag team Hell in a Cell match.

1 year ago today, TNA presented Bound for Glory from the Cabarrus Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. Of note, this was the last live event presented by the promotion until January as they looked for a new network for the second straight year.

  • Tigre Uno defeated Andrew Everett, DJ Z, and Manik in a Ultimate X Match to retain the TNA X-Division Championship.
  • Tyrus last eliminated Mr. Anderson to win a Bound for Gold gauntlet battle royal for a future TNA championship match. Other participants included Abyss, Aiden O'Shea, Al Snow, Chris Melendez, D'Angelo Dinero, Eli Drake, Jessie Godderz, Mahabali Shera, Robbie E, and Tommy Dreamer.
  • The Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards) defeated Brian Myers & Trevor Lee to retain the TNA World Tag Team Championship.
  • Bobby Roode defeated Lashley to retain the TNA King of the Mountain Championship.
  • Gail Kim defeated Awesome Kong to retain the TNA Knockouts Championship.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Eric Young in a no disqualification match.
  • Matt Hardy defeated Ethan Carter III and Drew Galloway in a three-way match to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Jeff Hardy was the special referee.

1 year ago today, AAA presented Heroes Immortales IX (Immortal Heroes 9) from Domo San Luis in San Luis Potisi, Mexico. The event took place on the weekend of the ninth anniversary of the passing of AAA’s founder, Antonio Peña.

  • Taya defeated Goya King, La Hiedra, Lady Maravilla, and Lady Shani in a five-way match to retain the AAA Reina de Reinas Championship.
  • Los Güeros del Cielo (Angélico and Jack Evans) defeated Pentagón Jr. and Joe Lider and Daga and Steve Pain in a three-way match to win the AAA Tag Team Championship.
  • Brian Cage and El Mesias defeated Drago and Fenix.
  • Taurus last eliminated La Parka to win a ten-man battle royal to win the 2015 Copa Antonio Peña (Antonio Peña Cup). Other participants were Cibernético, Blue Demon Jr., Averno, Hijo de Pirata Morgan, Electroshock, Aero Star, and Chessman.
  • Rey Mysterio, Jr., Psycho Clown, and Garza Jr. defeated Myzteziz, El Texano Jr., and El Hijo del Fantasma.
  • El Patron Alberto defeated Johnny Mundo to retain the AAA Mega Championship.

It's a happy 68th birthday to former WWE President and CEO and former US Senatorial candidate Linda Marie McMahon.

Born Linda Edwards, she was an only child in a military family in North Carolina. She met her future husband, Vince McMahon at age 13, and got married to him shortly after her high school graduation in 1966.

The couple struggled for several years (Vince was an independent promoter under his father's Captiol Wrestling Corporation, while Linda worked for a corporate law firm in the DC area), even filing for bankruptcy while Linda was pregnant with Stephanie. In 1979, Vince founded Titan Sports, and Linda worked at the Cape Cod Coliseum cooking sandwiches for the attendees at the events. In 1982, Vince would buy Capitol Wrestling, known then as the World Wide Wrestling Federation.

Linda was brought along for administrative purposes, and her knowledge of intellectual property rights eventually made her a valuable asset, negotiation the company's first toy line in 1984, expanding the audience of the product, and the WWF's television deal in 2000. Linda would become the WWF's President in 1993 and CEO in 1997.

Linda has come under fire, most notably in the early 1990s when prosecutors introduced to evidence of a 1989 memo that physician George Zahorian was facing imminent federal drug charges. The "tip-off memo" as it became known, would be a political liability in her Senate campaign in 2010.

In 2009, McMahon stepped down from her post as WWE CEO to run for the United States Senate. Despite spending about $50 million of her own money, she was crushed in the polls by Richard Blumethal, losing by 11% of the vote in the general election, making it one of the costliest election defeats in American history. She ran again two years later seeking the seat vacated by Joe Liberman, but would lose by about 12% to Chris Murphy. With an estimated $101 million, it's the most spent by one person to win a federal office in American history.

McMahon appeared in several storylines for the WWE, first appearing on the May 3, 1999 RAW is WAR, and feuded most notably with her husband on-screen until Wrestlemania X-Seven in 2001. Linda said in a 1999 interview that despite working with her husband, she had no prior knowledge of how storylines would advance.

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