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This Day in Wrestling History (Nov. 14): A Tribute to Eddie Guerrero

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this day in wrestling history

24 years ago today, FOX aired the final episode of the original WWF Saturday Night's Main Event (WWE Network link).

Taped October 27 at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute, Indiana, the hook of the show was a "title tripleheader" as all three championships were on the line. Save for a one-off special on Wrestlemania XI in 1995, this would be the last WWF show on broadcast television until Smackdown's pilot episode in 1999.

  • The Ultimate Maniacs (Ultimate Warrior & Macho Man Randy Savage) defeated Money Inc. (Ted Dibiase & Irwin R. Schyster) by countout in a WWF Tag Team Championship match.
  • Shawn Michaels defeated The British Bulldog to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
  • Bret Hart defeated Papa Shango by submission to retain the WWF Championship.

17 years ago, WWF presented Survivor Series (WWE Network link) from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. 18,735 were in attendance, with 448,000 homes watching on PPV. That was down from 478,000 for the 1998 edition.

The show is noted for two things: first, the in-ring debut of Kurt Angle, 1996 Olympic Gold medalist in freestyle wrestling in the heavyweight division, and second, Stone Cold Steve Austin being hit by a car. Austin was experiencing increasing discomfort as a result of a neck injury he had suffered at Summerslam two years prior, and the pain got to the point that neck surgery was required.

Austin’s write-off to cover for his pending absence wasn’t exactly the issue for many critics; when they did it was. WWF knew that Austin would not be available for the event, yet he was advertised up to and during the show (until the car ran him down, obviously). The Big Show would end up taking Austin’s place in the WWF Championship match.

For Survivor Series matches, sole survivors are in bold.

  • The Godfather, D'Lo Brown and The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) and The Acolytes (Faarooq and Bradshaw) 4-2 in a Survivor Series match.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Shawn Stasiak. This was Angle’s WWF in-ring debut.
  • Val Venis, Mark Henry, Gangrel, and Steve Blackman defeated The British Bulldog and the Mean Street Posse (Rodney, Pete Gas, and Joey Abs) ) 4-2 in a Survivor Series match.
  • Mae Young, The Fabulous Moolah, Tori, and Debra defeated Ivory, Luna, Jacqueline, and Terri Runnels. This was conducted under sudden death rules.
  • Kane defeated X-Pac by disqualification.
  • The Big Show defeated The Big Boss Man, Prince Albert, Mideon, and Viscera 4-0 in a Survivor Series handicap match in just 87 seconds. The Big Show did have teammates in The Blue Meanie and Kaientai, but he attacked them all during Sunday Night Heat, leaving him to face the opposition alone.
  • Chyna defeated Chris Jericho to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
  • Too Cool (Grand Master Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty) and The Hollys (Hardcore and Crash) defeated Edge and Christian and The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff) (with Terri Runnels).
  • The New Age Outlaws (Mr. Ass and Road Dogg) defeated Al Snow and Mankind to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • The Big Show defeated Triple H and The Rock in a triple threat match to win the WWF Championship.

12 years ago today, WWE presented Survivor Series (WWE Network link) from the Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. About 7,500 were in attendance, with 325,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 450,000 for the 2003 edition.

Sole survivors are in bold for Survivor Series matches.

  • In a preshow Sunday Night Heat match, La Résistance (Sylvain Grenier and Robert Conway) defeated Rosey and The Hurricane to retain the World Tag Team Championship.
  • Spike Dudley defeated Billy Kidman, Chavo Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio in a fatal four-way match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
  • Shelton Benjamin defeated Christian to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Team Guerrero (Eddie Guerrero, The Big Show, Rob Van Dam, and John Cena) defeated Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Carlito, Luther Reigns and Mark Jindrak) 4-1 in a Survivor Series match.
  • The Undertaker defeated Heidenreich.
  • Trish Stratus defeated Lita by disqualification to retain the WWE Womens Championship.
  • John Bradshaw Layfield defeated Booker T to retain the WWE Championship.
  • Team Orton (Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Maven) defeated Team Triple H (Triple H, Edge, Batista, and Snitsky) 4-3 in a Survivor Series match. As a result of the win, every member of Team Orton was allowed to be the GM of RAW for one week each.

11 years ago today, WWE presented a special episode of RAW (WWE Network link) from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The show was a tribute to Eddie Guerrero, who was found dead a day earlier in a hotel room in Minneapolis. Like the Owen Hart tribute show back in 1999, storylines were put on hold in favor of straight wrestling matches. The show was the first half of a supershow taping that took place just hours after Guerrero had passed.

Unusual for the time, both RAW and Smackdown wrestlers appeared on the show. The show opened with a ten-bell salute, and Eddie Guerrero memories were inserted between matches.

In an unusual coincidence, this show would be the first main roster pairing of two longtime rivals: John Cena and Randy Orton.

  • World Tag Team Champions Kane & The Big Show defeated WWE Tag Team Champions MNM (Mercury & Nitro) in a non-title match.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Shelton Benjamin.
  • Rey Mysterio defeated Shawn Michaels.
  • Melina defeated Ashley, Candice Michelle, Christy Hemme, Jillian Hall, Maria, Mickie James, Trish Stratus and Victoria in a battle royal.
  • Eugene defeated Simon Dean.
  • Ric Flair defeated William Regal.
  • John Cena defeated Randy Orton by disqualification.

That week’s Smackdown (WWE Network link) was also taped from the Target Center that evening and also served as a tribute to Eddie Guerrero. Like the RAW tribute show, storylines were put on hold in favor of one-off matches.

  • Matt Hardy defeated Carlito.
  • The Legion of Doom (Heidenreich & Animal) defeated Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch.
  • Chavo Guerrero defeated John Bradshaw Layfield.
  • Juventud Guerrera defeated Brian Kendrick, Funaki, Gregory Helms, Kid Kash, Nunzio, Paul London, Psicosis, Scotty 2 Hotty, Super Crazy, and Tajiri in a Cruiserweight battle royal.
  • Chris Benoit defeated Triple H.

5 years ago today at an Impact Wrestling taping at Universal Orlando, Matt Morgan & Crimson defeated Mexican America (Hernandez & Anarquia) to win the TNA World Tag Team Championship.

Today would have been the 86th birthday of British wrestling legend Shirley "Big Daddy" Crabtree.

Born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, Crabtree was a former Rugby League player who rarely saw the pitch due to his fiery temper. He was a coal miner and served as part of the Coldstream Guards of the British Army before following in his father's footsteps and becoming a professional wrestler.

Shirley began his career in 1952; by the end of the decade, the man known as Blond Adonis Shirley Crabtree's strength and physique made him one of the most popular blue-eyes (babyfaces) in Britain. He won Joint Production's European Heavyweight Championship and a portion of the British Heavyweight Championship before harassment from former champion Bert Assirati drove Crabtree to quit in 1966.

Shirley would return to Joint Productions in 1972 as the heel Battling Guardsman, based on his time in the British Army with the Coldstreams. His once chiseled physique had deteriorated during his time away, unfortunately just in time for his first appearances for ITV's World of Sport. (It did land him in the Guinness Book of World Records for his 64-inch chest) Fortunately for Shirley, his brother Max, who had been one of the bookers for Joint Promotions, tweaked his gimmick.

Based on a character in the film adaptation of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Shirley Crabtree would become known as Big Daddy in 1974, but it wasn't until 1975 when Big Daddy got some serious attention. He would team with newcomer Giant Haystacks and would dominate the sport, crushing blue-eye opponents. Big Daddy late in the year would enter a feud with the notorious Kendo Nagasaki late in the year, even unmasking him briefly, albeit in a losing effort. The feud would garner him cheers, and he would slowly turn blue-eye, cementing it in 1977 when his partnership with Giant Haystacks broke up. The duo would feud for more than a decade. Crabtree also feuded with Dave "Fit" Finlay, Drew McDonald, and Mighty John Quinn, while he teamed with future stars including Sammy Lee, Chris Adams, and Dynamite Kid.

Crabtree as a babyface made him a favorite particularly among children and elderly women (and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher). He would enter with a sequined cape or a Union Flag jacket and top hat. Like Shawn Michaels would do more a decade later, Shirley recorded his own entrance theme in 1980, "We Shall Not Be Moved" originally performed by The Seekers. He had a simple wrestling style similar to many monster heels, relying on throws and body slams and finishing with his "Big Splash", much to the delight of crowds chanting "Easy, easy!" He was so popular, a Saturday morning television show was being built around him, but had to pull out on his doctor's advice (at the height of his popularity, Shirley weighted about 375 pounds).

Tragedy befell Crabtree in 1987; during a tag team match with his nephew Steve, after performing his trademark splash on King Kong Kirk, Kirk turned an unhealthy color and had to be rushed to a hospital. Kirk was pronounced dead on arrival. The death devastated Crabtree, even though an autopsy showed he was not responsible for his death (Kirk had an undiagnosed heart condition). The next year, ITV would cancel Joint Productions Wrestling, citing the show was not representative of their new image. He continued to make regular appearances until 1993, usually only in tag team bouts.

On November 14, 1997, two and half weeks shy of his 68th birthday, Crabtree had a stroke and was transported to Halifax General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Shirley at the time of his death was survived by his wife of 31 years, Eunice, and six children. Shirley also had a brother and three nephews in the wrestling business at the time of his death.

The best of cSs on this day:

2015: Kevin Owens supports 'Peace for Paris' at WWE house show (One day after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Owens tweets out some heartfelt messages and Instagrams a photo of his wristband with the Peace for Paris symbol)

2014: Sources confirm Khali is officially done with WWE (The Great Khali's contract with WWE expires, profile moved to Alumni section)

2013: Paul Heyman beatdown by CM Punk reportedly a TV write off (Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports CM Punk's beatdown of Paul Heyman was to get him off TV, possibly until an Undertaker-Brock Lesnar confrontation at Wrestlemania XXX)

2012: Survivor Series team draft for Cageside Seats game (15 Cagesiders select a five-man Survivor Series team...think we should bring this back, yeah?)

2011: WWE News: Is Booker T ready to give it one last go? (The six-time world champion breaks his silence on Twitter and thinks he's got one more run in him)

2010: Roy Nelson's management is dumb if they think WWE is the solution to his current contractual problems (Management associated with the MMA fighter believes a WWE deal might get him out of his legal pickle; Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer shuts down the idea; for the record, Roy would return to UFC in May 2011)