34 years ago today in Chicago, Illinois, Nick Bockwinkel defeated Otto Wanz to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship.
Nick would hold the title for the next 501 days before being defeated in Japan by Jumbo Tsuruta.
21 years ago today, New Japan Pro Wrestling presented New Japan vs. UWFI: All Out War from the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. About 67,000 fans were in attendance for the interpromotional event.
- Tokimitsu Ishizawa & Yuji Nagata [NJPW] defeated Hiromitsu Kanehara & Kazushi Sakuraba [UWFI].
- Shinjiro Otani [NJPW] defeated Kenichi Yamamoto [UWFI].
- Yoshihiro Takayama [UWFI] defeated Takashi Iizuka [NJPW].
- Naoki Sano [UWFI] defeated Jushin Thunder Liger [NJPW].
- Riki Choshu [NJPW] defeated Yoji Anjo [UWFI].
- Masahito Kakihara [UWFI] defeated Kensuke Sasaki [NJPW].
- Shinya Hashimoto [NJPW] defeated Tatsuo Nakano [UWFI].
- Keiji Muto [NJPW] defeated Nobuhiko Takada [UWFI] by submission to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
15 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Moline, Illinois (WWE Network link), Billy Kidman defeated X-Pac to win the WCW Cruiserweight Championship. This was Kidman's first bout since suffering a knee injury just after Invasion.
14 years ago today at an NWA-TNA weekly PPV taping in Nashville, Tennessee, Syxx-Pac defeats Kid Kash, Tony Mamaluke, Ace Steel, AJ Styles, Jose Maximo and Joel Maximo in a ladder match to win the vacated TNA X Division Championship.
12 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, Kensuke Sasaki defeated Kazuyuki Fujita to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
11 years ago today, WWE presented No Mercy (WWE Network link) from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. About 7,000 were in attendance, with 219,000 homes watching on PPV, down from 240,000 for 2004's event.
- In a preshow Sunday Night Heat match, William Regal and Paul Burchill defeated Paul London and Brian Kendrick.
- The Legion of Doom (Road Warrior Animal and Heidenreich) and Christy Hemme defeated MNM (Joey Mercury, Johnny Nitro, and Melina) in an intergender tag team match.
- Bobby Lashley defeated Simon Dean.
- Chris Benoit defeated Booker T, Christian, and Orlando Jordan in a fatal four-way match to retain the WWE United States Championship.
- Mr. Kennedy defeated Hardcore Holly.
- John "Bradshaw" Layfield defeated Rey Mysterio.
- Randy Orton and "Cowboy" Bob Orton defeated The Undertaker in a handicap casket match.
- Juventud defeated Nunzio to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
- Batista defeated Eddie Guerrero to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
10 years ago today at an Impact taping at Universal Orlando, Kurt Angle makes his TNA debut.
Angle appeared after Samoa Joe refused to return the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt under threat of termination. Angle and Joe had a staredown, after which Angle headbutted Joe. Kurt celebrated with the belt, until a bloodied Samoa Joe rose and to his feet and gave Kurt an enzuigiri. Joe and Angle would throw hands; during the fracas, Jeff Jarrett took his belt back.
After security removed Joe from the ring, Kurt Angle told the crowd he wasn't fired from WWE, he quit. He also said he was back and Vince McMahon could kiss his Olympic ass.
6 years ago today, Paul Heyman launches the Heyman Hustle Youtube channel, which you can check out right here.
5 years ago today, AAA presented Heroes Inmortales V (Immortal Heroes V) from Arena Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico. The show was the fifth annual Antonio Pena memorial show, dedicated to the founder of AAA.
- Jennifer Blake, Sexy Star & Velvet Sky defeated Cynthia Moreno, Fabi Apache & Mari Apache in a Six Man Tag Team lights off match.
- El Elegido, Octagoncito & Pimpinela Escarlata defeated Alan Stone, Mini Histeria & Polvo de Estrellas in a trios lumberjack match.
- La Sociedad (Abyss & Chessman) defeated Extreme Tiger & Jack Evans in a tables, ladders, and chairs match to win the AAA World Tag Team Championship.
- Electroshock defeated Brutus Magnus, Cibernetico, El Zorro, Jeff Jarrett, Joe Lider, LA Par-K, La Parka, Silver Cain in a Royal Rumble match to win the 2011 Antonio Pena Cup.
- El Mesias and Sting fought to a no contest.
- Dr. Wagner Jr. defeated Perro Aguayo Jr. in a bull terrier match to win the AAA Latin America Championship.
- The Psycho Circus (Monster Clown, Murder Clown, and Psycho Clown) defeated Los Perros del Mal (Damian 666, Halloween, and Nicho el Millonario) in a masks vs. hair steel cage match. As a result of the loss, all three members of Los Perros del Mal got their heads shaved bald.
It’s a happy 35th birthday to Daniel Puder.
Puder gained fame in 2004 during the $1,000,000 Tough Enough. In one of the early rounds of the competition, he volunteered to face Kurt Angle in a shoot match. After locking Angle in a kimura lock, Puder was quickly counted down though his shoulders weren’t down. Angle was visibly upset about it, but Puder rode the momentum of the near win to an actual win six weeks later when he won the competition and the contract.
Daniel would have just one match on the main roster though; he appeared in the 2005 Royal Rumble match. He was chopped by Chris Benoit, Hardcore Holly, and Eddie Guerrero before being eliminated by Holly. Puder was sent down to developmental, but was released that September, less than a year after winning Tough Enough, after he turned down a developmental deal to join Deep South Wrestling. Daniel briefly competed for Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling before calling it a career.
When not wrestling, Puder was a mixed martial artist, winning all eight of his professional fights. Following retirement from combat sports, he founded an anti-bullying and youth development program.
It’s a happy 45th birthday to Michael Stephen Manna, best known to wrestling fans as Stevie Richards.
The well-traveled Philadelphian has wrestled for every major organization and a few notable independents in the country, most notably ECW, WCW, WWF/E, TNA, Chikara, Ring of Honor, and Extreme Rising.
Most notably, Manna as Richards was a 21-time WWF/E Hardcore Champion (only Crash Holly with 22 and Raven with 27 have more), a two-time ECW World Tag Team Champion with Raven, and the first ever Extreme Rising world champion. Manna still wrestles today, primarily on the independent circuit. Currently, he is the Freedom Pro Wrestling television champion, as well as the Wildkat Pro Wrestling heavyweight champion.
The former Blue World Order and Right to Censor leader started a technology podcast in 2007, The T4 Show (Tech Today Tech Tomorrow). He still podcasts today with It’s All A Work, focusing on conspiracy theories. In 2011, Manna pitched a perfect game on MLB 2K11. Under past circumstances, it would have netted him a million dollars, but the contest had not started at the time he did it. Brian Kingrey, a music teacher from Hammond, Louisiana, would win the money, pitching a perfect game just two hours after the contest officially began.
It’s a happy 84th birthday to Ivan Gene Lebell.
Born in Los Angeles, LeBell took up interest in combat sports thanks to his mother, who promoted boxing and professional wrestling. He learned wrestling under Ed “Strangler” Lewis at just age 7, then learned boxing under Sugar Ray Robinson at 11. He began taking up judo at age 14 and moved to Japan after obtaining a black belt to further his training.
At age 20, LeBell won the heavyweight and AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) National Judo Championships. With fame and fortune in his eyes, LeBell gave pro wrestling a try. Though he did not get over right away, he gained fame and notoriety as a promotion’s unofficial enforcer.
In 1963, boxer/writer Jim Beck opined that a boxer could beat a martial artist in a straight fight, and offered $1,000 ($7,807 today when adjusting for inflation) to anyone that could prove him wrong. LeBell took Beck on his offer, and took on boxer Milo Savage, who had a background in amateur wrestling. After the two sides came to an agreement on the rules, the bout went down in December in Salt Lake City.
LeBell, despite suffering a shoulder injury, would defeat Savage with a rear naked choke in the fourth round. Fans weren’t too happy with this, as they littered the ring with bottles, chairs, and whatever that could be picked up. The riot was quelled somewhat when another hometowner, boxer Jay Fullner, congratulated LeBell. LeBell and his team helped revived Savage post-match. It did prevent a full-scale riot, but a man still tried to stab Gene on the way out. LeBell credits this as the first televised MMA bout in the United States.
After leaving combat sports, Gene and his brother Mike operated NWA Hollywood Wrestling from 1968 to 1982. In 1976, Gene, selected from over 200 applicants, refereed the boxer versus wrestler bout between Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki in Tokyo. He also had a hand in opening two martial arts schools.
LeBell is also known for his stunt work, appearing in over 1,000 filmed works (TV shows, movies, commercials), including working on the set of The Green Hornet TV series and as a stunt coordinator for Out for Justice, a 1991 action film starring Steven Seagal. One story alleges that Seagal challenged LeBell to choke him out, saying he couldn’t do it because his aikido training makes him immune to being choked out. LeBell implied that the incident happened in a 2012 interview, but never outright said it did. Seagal denies the allegations.
LeBell has authored a dozen books on combat sports, primarily judo and wrestling, but he’s also penned self-defense books. Gene has had a hand in training many well-known wrestlers and martial artists, including Chuck Norris, Roddy Piper, Mando Guerrero, and Ronda Rousey.
Gene was the recipient of the Iron Mike Mazurki award in 1995 and was awarded the Frank Gotch Award by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Dan Gable Museum in 2005 for his contributions to wrestling. In 2011, LeBell was inducted into the NWA Hall of Fame.