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This Day in Wrestling History (Oct. 6): Gorilla Monsoon Passes Away

Today’s TDIPWH will be presented in two parts. The second part will focus on the longest reigning WWE Champion ever, Bruno Sammartino. He turns 81 today.

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this day in wrestling history

19 years ago today, WWF’s RAW is WAR (WWE Network link) gets stomped in the ratings by WCW Monday Nitro (WWE Network link), but the WWF show creates the bigger impression with a pair of controversial moments.

In one segment, Jim Cornette shoots on WCW. He made these comments previously on his audio show, and Vince McMahon decided to let him air his grievances to a larger audience.

"This is Jim Cornette, and the views that I'm about to express are not necessarily those of anybody else but me. But they ought to be. And as a matter of fact, they probably are. You know, a lot of things in the wrestling world make me cranky these days. Especially the way some talent is treated and some talent is looked at, by not only the promoters, but some wrestling fans as well.

"For example, a man like Arn Anderson, who just had to retire from this sport, after giving it his entire life, because of some injury he suffered. A guy like "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, who in my opinion, is one of the greatest talents in the history of this business. Guys like Mankind, Cactus Jack, Dude Love, whatever you want to call him. Great talents in the WWF or WCW.

"But who gets a lot of the attention, from the wrestling fans especially? Guys like the NWO, the New World Order. You know, all the fans think these guys are so cool and so 'sweet', and so funny. Well, as far as I'm concerned, the NWO is like a bunch of guys meeting out in the backyard in a clubhouse in a tree. They're guys who, all they have to do, they've got the easiest job in the world, all they have to do is go out there and be themselves. Childish, obnoxious, adolescent guys with a case of severe arrested emotional development, and a fixation on trying to act macho.

"You've got a guy like Kevin Nash, 40 years old, trying to act like a teenager. Far as I'm concerned, the biggest "no talent" in the business. He's got six moves, no mobility, and enough timing to cover up for some of it. But what he does is he goes around and manipulates. Kevin Nash had a multi-million dollar promotional company, the WWF, push him to the moon to make him a star, and what does he do? He leaves, after he gives his word he's staying, so by the way, he's a liar too, he leaves and he goes to WCW for a big contract. Why? More on that later.

"You've got a guy like Scott Hall, who's a good wrestler, but good is about it. He's the best of the bunch. But he had the same million dollar promotional company make him a star, after being in the business 10 years without putting three asses in a seat. And what does he do? He goes to WCW for a big contract. Why? More on that later.

"And then you've got a guy, Syxx, 1-2-3 Kid, his name's Sean Waltman. Whatever you want to call him. As far as I'm concerned, the only reason he's employed is because the other guys think he's funny when he gets drunk and throws up on himself. He has the distinction, in case you haven't noticed, of being the only guy since this wrestling war got started, that was released from a valid contract for one company to go to the other side, which shows you how valuable he is.

"You know why they're all employed? Why they're all in the spot they are today? Because of Eric Bischoff. The boss of WCW, not the NWO. Look at the credits on the PPV, if you can get one for free. The idiot's name is on it. He's the boss of WCW. He works for Ted Turner, and he throws a billionaire's money around, just like water, so he can have guys that he likes to hang out with.

"Because, even more than being a mark, yeah, for his own face and his own voice, Eric Bischoff is a guy who's a big fan of hanging around studly guys with long hair and beards, that smoke cigars, and ride Harley's, so that some of that can rub off on his little pansy-ass frame. So he takes that billionaire's money, and he throws that around like water to buy guys that he can hang around, to prove that his "johnson" is bigger than everybody else's.

"And that's the sole reason the NWO guys are employed.

"I think, me personally, that it's about time that the wrestling fans and the promoters, all of them in this business, start recognizing guys like "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, like Arn Anderson, like Cactus Jack. Guys who bust their ass, who work hard, and have ability and talent to get where they are. Instead of a bunch of guys that get to their spot by hanging around with the boss and sucking-up.

"I'm Jim Cornette, and that's my opinion."

Cornette has since apologized to Waltman for comments relating to him. The commentaries would continue on WWF programming for most of the remainder of the year before returning to a managerial role in early 1998.

In another segment, Vince McMahon interviewed Melanie Pillman, widowed just a day after her husband Brian was found dead in a hotel room in Bloomington, Minnesota, via satellite from her home.

Melanie believed that the death should serve as a wakeup call, fearing that prescription drug abuse was the cause of his death (autopsy later concluded a heart condition that went undetected; it wasn't much of a wake-up call, as many wrestlers fell victim to death by drug abuse since).

Then it got real uncomfortable as Vince asked how Melanie was going to support her kids. Needless to say, the segment was universally panned by critics and fans alike. Unsurprisingly, the interview won the Wrestling Observer Newsletter award for Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic. The above video is the ten-bell salute to Pillman that opened RAW is WAR.

17 years ago today, Robert James "Gino" Marella, best known to the wrestling world as Gorilla Monsoon, died of heart failure brought on by complications brought on by diabetes in his home in Willingboro Township, New Jersey. He was 62.

Born June 4, 1937 in Rochester, New York, Marella was a three-sport athlete in high school, and despite weighing over 300 pounds, he was affectionately called "Tiny" by his teammates. At the University of Ithaca, he set school records in college wrestling and finished 2nd in the 1959 NCAA Championships. During the summer months, Marella worked in construction; one of the buildings he helped construct was the Rochester War Memorial, where he's now a part of their wrestling hall of fame.

Marella after college began working for New York promoter Pedro Martinez. Debuting as Italian-American babyface Gino Marella, he gained a modicum of popularity, but his monster heel gimmick caught fire. Standing at 6'5" and 350 pounds and now growing a beard, Gino Marella became Gorilla Monsoon, a terrifying giant of a man born on an isolated farm in Manchuria that spoke no English, ate raw meat, and drank the blood of his victims. His heel gimmick got him over with fans--as in fans were legit afraid of him--and found himself face to face with Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Championship in 1963 in Jersey City, NJ. Monsoon won by disqualification, setting off a series of matches in Madison Square Garden between the two.

Around this time, the WWWF, the dominant promotion in the northeastern United States, broke away from the NWA. Marella would strike a friendship with WWWF owner Vincent J. McMahon and became a 1/6 shareholder of the company. Marella as Monsoon would become one of the company's top heels and despite weighing over 400 pounds, often kept up with Sammartino, wrestling the WWWF champion to a number of one-hour draws.

Monsoon teamed with Killer Kowalski and briefly held the United States Tag Team Championship, and in the late 1960's became the first-and possibly only-team to defeat Bruno Sammartino and Victor Rivera. As a babyface in the 1970s, he feuded with Superstar Billy Graham, Killer Kowalski, Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd, and as a heel again in 1977, Andre the Giant. He even airplane spinned and slammed Muhammad Ali in 1976 in Philadelphia. In June 1980, in front of a rabid Madison Square Garden crowd, Hulk Hogan quickly defeated Monsoon, and the rabid crowd became unruly, chasing Hogan out of the building and tipping over his car.

In August 1980, after losing to Ken Patera, Monsoon retired from full-time competition. He would wrestle just four times more, last competing in an old-timers battle royal in 1987 won by Lou Thesz.

In 1982, Vincent K. McMahon took over his father's company, but was asked by his father to take care of his longtime employees that were loyal to him. Vince, Jr. did so by buying Marella's shares in exchange for guaranteed lifetime employment. In addition to being a confidant of the younger McMahon, Gino would pair up on commentary with Jesse "The Body" Ventura, calling five of the first six Wrestlemanias together.

When Ventura left in 1990, Monsoon would be paired with another charismatic heel in Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. The duo would form a real friendship away from the ring and booth, with Heenan speaking of Monsoon highly during his Hall of Fame speech in 2004. Monsoon's pro-babyface "voice of reason" would seamlessly mesh with Ventura's and Heenan's pro-heel commentary. Monsoon would serve as lead commentator for four WWF programs in the 1980s and 1990s: All-Star Wrestling, Wrestling Challenge, All-American Wrestling, and Prime Time Wrestling. He also served as the co-host of Georgia Championship Wrestling with Vince McMahon for a brief period. Many of Monsoon's quips would become a part of wrestling lore: "History has been made!", "right in the kisser", "Pearl Harbor job", "Will you stop?", and most famously "the irresistible force meeting the immovable object".

Monsoon stepped away from the lead commentary position at Wrestlemania IX to make room for Jim Ross, but would call PPVs for WWF Radio. He returned to television commentary briefly in the summer and fall of 1994 calling that year's King of the Ring with Randy Savage and Survivor Series with Vince McMahon. Marella transitioned once again to a backstage role, appearing frequently on WWF programming and becoming the on-screen authority figure in the summer of 1995. Roddy Piper was briefly WWF on-screen president in early 1996 before Monsoon assumed the post again. Health concerns forced Monsoon to step away from the role in the summer of 1997. Monsoon's final television appearance was at Wrestlemania XV, when he was introduced to a standing ovation as one of the three judges for the Brawl for All match

Marella was married to his wife Maureen for more than forty years and had three children together, one of them adopted. Their adopted son, Joey Marella, was killed in an auto accident on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1994 after refereeing a WWF event, just one month after Monsoon was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame.

On October 6, 1999, Marella died of heart failure brought on by complications of diabetes. He was 62. Gino is buried next to his son in Cinnaminson, New Jersey. Both WWF and WCW paid tribute to Monsoon following his death, with Vince McMahon calling Monsoon on the RAW is WAR following his death "one of the greatest men [he'd] ever known".

Monsoon's legacy lives on in the wrestling world: The recently retired Anthony Carelli was given the gimmick name Santino Marella when he debuted in the WWE in 2007 as a tribute to Gorilla. The staging area just before the entrance was often where Gorilla was found at WWF events and is now appropriately named "the Gorilla position". Monsoon is also a member of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame class of 2010 and a member of the professional wing of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2011.

9 years ago today in Edison, New Jersey, Nigel McGuinness defeated Takeshi Morishima to win the ROH World Championship.

5 years ago today, Bruce Pritchard replaced Vince Russo as head of creative for TNA. Just over a year later, he would be promoted to senior vice president of programming and talent relations, effectively putting him in charge of TNA’s talent. Pritchard would be released in July 2013.

4 years ago today in Providence, Rhode Island, Dave Bautista his MMA debut with a first-round knockout victory over Vince Lucero at a CES MMA event. It would be the only MMA bout for the former WWE world champion.

3 years ago today, WWE presented Battleground (WWE Network link) from the First Niagra Center in Buffalo, New York. 11,700 were in attendance, with just 114,000 watching on PPV.

It's the least bought PPV for WWE since December to Dismember in 2006, making the theme song for the event very appropriate: "The Mighty Fall". The show was a runaway winner of Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Worst Major Wrestling Show of 2013.

  • In a preshow match, Dolph Ziggler defeated Damien Sandow.
  • Alberto Del Rio defeated Rob Van Dam in a Battleground Hardcore Rules match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • The Real Americans (Jack Swagger & Cesaro) defeated Santino Marella & The Great Khali.
  • Curtis Axel defeated R-Truth to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • AJ Lee defeated Brie Bella to retain the WWE Divas Championship.
  • Cody Rhodes & Goldust defeated The Shield (Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns). As a result of the win, Cody Rhodes and Goldust would be reinstated by WWE. Had they lost, they, along with Dusty Rhodes, would have been banned from WWE for life.
  • Bray Wyatt defeated Kofi Kingston.
  • CM Punk defeated Ryback.
  • Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton fought to a no contest for the vacant WWE Championship.

1 year ago today, Matt Hardy vacates the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

The announcement comes just hours after former champion Ethan Carter III filed an injunction against Hardy to appear on Impact with the title belt due to what had occurred at Bound for Glory:


My name is Ethan Carter the Third (the third of my name,) the only undefeated World Champion in TNA History and, as preposterous as this is to say, the only undefeated former World Champion in Wrestling History.

For the two years I've been in TNA I have thrived and succeeded. Like many, I started at the very bottom, I had to earn my successes. Fortunately I was blessed with determination, resolution, a formidable skill set, and most importantly, unwavering fan support. Through these gifts, the world watched on 7/01/15 EC3 (me) defeat the greatest champion of our time, Kurt Angle, and culminate a life's work by becoming THE World Champion.

One does not take that honor lightly. As my reign as champion began, I made a promise wrestling fans across the globe that the sanctity of that title would be upheld. The World Title would be contested with one thing in mind.


Well FAIR COMPETITION is not what transpired on 10/04/15 in Charlotte, NC.

Collusion is defined as "secret cooperation for an illegal purpose" and in the court of public opinion, allow me to present you with the facts.

-The owner of the company, with her own interests in mind, change the originally scheduled EC3 v. Galloway World Title Match, to a triple threat AFTER the contracts were signed.

-The owner of the company changed the official of the contest without giving the champion more than one week's notification.

-The official is not only a disgruntled former employee of the champion but also the FREAKING BROTHER OF THE CHALLENGER.

-The official was directly involved in the match's conclusion by assaulting the champion.

Those are simply the facts.

These facts, this evidence of collusion, was enough that my legal team saw and was granted an injunction via the seventh circuit court that prevents Matt Hardy from appearing on Impact Wrestling as TNA World Champion.

Matt Hardy has two options now. Relinquish the title back to my possession, striking your win from the record books, and I will see it fit you have a one-on-one match in a fair setting, or, never appearing on TNA Television again.

I am the champion this company needs, and even through this tumultuous time I still feel deserves.

Justice will be served.

The story—kayfabe of course—played out over the course of the day, with Hardy ultimately agreeing to vacate the title.

In reality, TNA ran this story to cover for its then-uncertain future, as there were no plans—or money—to tape new shows. The next day, they announced that a World Title Series would take place over the remainder of the year in a World Cup-style tournament. The group stage and a portion of the knockout round used footage from unaired One Night Only PPV events already taped, with the final four taking place on the first Impact of 2016. Ethan Carter III would defeat Matt Hardy in the final.

It’s a happy 52nd birthday to TNA owner, chairman, and chief strategy officer Dixie Carter-Salinas.

Born in Dallas, Carter graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1986 with a Bachelors of Business Administration. While in college, she worked as an intern for marketing and advertising firm Levenson and Hill. She would join the firm full-time following graduation, and at just age 32, became the firm’s vice-president. Three years prior, she started her own business in Nashville, focusing on sports and music representation.

In 2002, Carter joined TNA Wrestling in marketing and publicity. Late in that year, Carter was contacted by founder and part-owner Jeff Jarrett that his promotion was in dire straits (its primary financial backer, HealthSouth, was being investigated for accounting irregularities) and needed money. Carter contacted her parents Bob and Janice, the owners of Dallas-based energy company Panda Energy International.

In October 2002, Panda Energy purchased a 71% stake in TNA for just $250,000 ($334,704 today when adjusted for inflation). J Sports and Entertainment would be renamed TNA Entertainment. Early the next year, Carter was appointed its president, a position she held until August 2016 when Billy Corgan took over the post. Carter remains on with the company as its chairman and chief strategy officer.

Carter sporadically appeared on TNA programming until become a somewhat regular on-screen authority figure in 2010. She lost her authority in a coup perpetrated by Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. She would regain said authority at Bound for Glory in October 2011 when Sting defeated Hulk Hogan.

In 2012, Carter was the focus of a storyline when she was accused of having an affair with AJ Styles by Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian. Daniels and Kazarian revealed compromising footage of the two together. Carter’s real-life husband Serg Salinas made an appearance during the storyline knocking out AJ Styles. It turned out to be a misunderstanding as they were helping a mutual friend, Claire Lynch, work through her drug addiction.

Carter returned to television in September 2013 to respond to AJ Styles’ comments on how she ran the company. Styles had the opportunity to respond, but had the lights shut off on him and his mic cut off by Carter, essentially turning her heel. Soon after, she ripped Styles’ new contract, then gave Hulk Hogan an ultimatum to “join the Dixie train”. Hogan declined and quit the company altogether. Despite her machinations to prevent Styles from defeating Bully Ray for the TNA world title, AJ would win the title. Dixie tried to make peace with Styles by offering a new contract, but Styles left, taking the title with him. An interim champion was crowned at Final Resolution, with Magnus defeating Jeff Hardy in the “Dixieland” match with help of Rockstar Spud and Dixie’s storyline nephew, Ethan Carter III. Magnus would unify the titles when he defeated AJ Styles in January 2014 in what would be Styles’ final TNA match.

Soon after, Carter feuded with storyline investor MVP over control of the company. MVP would win control when his team (himself, The Wolves, and Willow) defeated Carter’s team (Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, and the Bromans) in a Lethal Lockdown match. Special referee Bully Ray, supposedly insurance for Carter, interfered on Team MVP’s behalf. Afterwards, Bully Ray developed an obsession of putting her through a table; Bully would do just that on the August 7 episode (though the incident was originally recorded in late June).

Carter atoned for her actions for the past year and a half on the July 8, 2015 episode of Impact, claiming she was on a power trip and that the company belonged not to her or her nephew, but the fans. Her remarks essentially turned her face.

Carter is married to Serg Salinas, a music producer for TNA; the couple has two children.

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