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This Day in Wrestling History (Nov. 15): The Rock Wins The WWF Championship

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Today’s TDIPWH will be presented in two parts. The second part will focus the career and life of Randy “Macho Man” Savage, who would have turned 64 today.

this day in wrestling history

33 years ago today in Allentown, Pennsylvania, The Soul Patrol (Tony Atlas & Rocky Johnson) defeat The Wild Samoans (Afa & Sika) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. Despite the title change, The Wild Samoans defended the titles on the house show circuit until the title change airs on December 9.

27 years ago today, NWA presented Clash of the Champions IX: New York Knockout (WWE Network link) from the RPI Fieldhouse in Troy, New York.

  • The Fabulous Freebirds (Jimmy Garvin & Michael Hayes) defeated The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Animal & Road Warrior Hawk) by disqualification.
  • Doom (Butch Reed & Ron Simmons) defeated Eddie Gilbert & Tommy Rich.
  • The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane) defeated The Dynamic Dudes (Johnny Ace & Shane Douglas)
  • Steve Williams defeated The Super Destroyer.
  • The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner) defeated The Skyscrapers (Dan Spivey & Sid Vicious) by disqualification. Of note, Nitron made his NWA debut. He wouldn't be around long, but the man would make a name for himself as actor Tyler Mane, most famous as Sabertooth in the movie adaption of the popular comic book series X-Men.
  • Lex Luger defeated Flyin 'Brian to retain the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship.
  • Ric Flair defeated Terry Funk in an "I Quit" match to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. The bout was rated five stars by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, but only finished fourth in the Match of the Year category by the same publication. The Steamboat-Flair trilogy got the top three spots. Flair vs. Funk did win Feud of the Year.

18 years ago today, WWF presented Survivor Series (WWE Network link) from the Kiel Center in St. Louis, Missouri. 19,322 were in attendance, with 478,000 homes watching on PPV. That's not only nearly double the 1997 edition (250,000 buys), it's more than the 1997 and 1996 editions combined (449,000 buys).

For just the second time in the event’s history (the only other being 1992), there was no traditional Survivor Series match. However, they didn’t entirely remove the elimination aspect of the show. The show’s hook was a one-night single-elimination tournament, dubbed the Deadly Game, to crown a new WWF Champion.

The title had been vacated following Breakdown when The Undertaker and Kane double pinned then-champion Stone Cold Steve Austin. Two attempts (one the next night on RAW, and again at Judgment Day) have been made to fill the vacancy, but Austin interfered in both of those (Austin crashed the championship ceremony the night after Breakdown, then Austin counted a double pin at Judgment Day in the WWF title match).

The Undertaker and Kane were given byes into the second round, but they would have to face each other to advance further. The fourteen-man bracket was similar to the only other WWF Championship tournament in company history—Wrestlemania IV—where Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant were given byes into the second round, but had to face each other to advance further.

In matches broadcast on Sunday Night Heat:

  • Too Much (Brain Christopher and Scott Taylor) defeated The Hardy Boys (Matt and Jeff Hardy).
  • Bob Holly and Scorpio defeated The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal).
  • Val Venis defeated Tiger Ali Singh.

Non-tournament matches in order of occurrence (the matches took place following the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds respectively):

  • Sable defeated Jacqueline to win the WWF Womens Championship. Marc Mero was the special referee. Sable would wind up holding the title until she left the WWF in May 1999 amidst harassment allegations.
  • The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg Jesse James & Badd Ass Billy Gunn) defeated The Nation (Owen Hart & D-Lo Brown) and The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) in a triple threat tag team match to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

Deadly Game Tournament First Round:

  • Mankind defeated Duane Gill in just 30 seconds.
  • Al Snow defeated Jeff Jarrett.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Big Boss Man by disqualification.
  • X-Pac and Steven Regal fought to a no contest, eliminating both men from the tournament.
  • Ken Shamrock defeated Goldust by submission.
  • The Rock defeated Big Boss Man in just four seconds. Triple H was originally supposed to face The Rock, but was injured prior to the event. The Big Boss Man was reentered into the tournament by Mr. McMahon, and was quickly rolled up and defeated. The four-second win was at the time the fastest in WWF history.

Deadly Game Tournament Second Round:

  • The Undertaker defeated Kane.
  • Mankind defeated Al Snow
  • The Rock defeated Ken Shamrock.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin was given a bye into the semifinals as a result of Regal and X-Pac's double elimination.

Deadly Game Tournament Semifinals:

  • Mankind defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin.
  • The Rock defeated The Undertaker by disqualification.

Deadly Game Tournament Final:

  • The Rock defeated Mankind by "submission" to win the vacated the WWF Championship. The story should have been The Rock becoming the youngest WWF Champion in company history, but it's not. In a direct rehash of the previous year's Montreal Screwjob, McMahon called for the bell as The Rock had Mankind in the Sharpshooter. Initially claiming The Rock had no knowledge of what happened, Vince and Shane McMahon and The Rock hugged it out in the middle of the ring, revealing that it was an elaborate ruse.

12 years ago today on RAW from Indianapolis, Indiana (WWE Network link), William Regal and Eugene defeat La Resistance (Rob Conway & Sylvan Grenier) and Rhyno and Tajiri in a three-way dance to win the World Tag Team Championship.

11 years ago today in Rome, Italy, Nunzio defeated Juventud to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

10 years ago today, TNA Impact its official debut in primetime with a two-hour special.

  • Samoa Joe defeated Jay Lethal.
  • The Naturals (Andy Douglas & Chase Stevens) defeated Team 3D (Brother Devon & Brother Ray) in a tag team tables match.
  • Christian Cage defeated Rhino in a barbed wire six sides of steel cage match.
  • Christopher Daniels defeated AJ Styles and Chris Sabin in a three way match to win the TNA X Division Championship.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Abyss.

8 years ago today at UFC 91 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Brock Lesnar defeated Randy Couture by TKO in the second round to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

The win made Lesnar the first man to win heavyweight championships in the NCAA, WWE, New Japan, and UFC.

7 years ago today, TNA presented Turning Point from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.

  • The Amazing Red defeated Homicide to retain the TNA X-Division Championship.
  • ODB, Sarita and Taylor Wilde defeated The Beautiful People (Lacey Von Erich, Madison Rayne & Velvet Sky). Both the TNA Knockouts singles (held by ODB) and tag team championships (held by Wilde and Sarita) were on the line in this match, with the champions retaining.
  • The British Invasion (Brutus Magnus & Doug Williams) defeated Beer Money Inc. (James Storm & Robert Roode) and The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) to retain the TNA World Tag Team Championships in a triple threat match.
  • Tara defeated Awesome Kong in a steel cage match.
  • Rhino & Team 3D (Brother Devon & Brother Ray) defeated D'Angelo Dinero, Hernandez & Matt Morgan.
  • Scott Steiner defeated Bobby Lashley in a falls count anywhere match.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Desmond Wolfe.
  • AJ Styles defeated Daniels and Samoa Joe in a three-way match to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

6 years ago today, WWE presented its first ever Old School RAW special from the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

WWE legends appeared and the set was modified to look like a 1993 episode of RAW, complete with the old RAW letters replacing the minitron.

  • Dolph Ziggler defeated "Sexual Chocolate" Mark Henry.
  • Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel defeated The Hart Dynasty (David Hart Smith & Tyson Kidd). Post-match, Tyson turned on David.
  • Ezekiel Jackson defeated The Brooklyn Brawler in just 50 seconds.
  • John Cena defeated Alex Riley.
  • Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov defeated The Usos (Jimmy & Jey).
  • Kofi Kingston defeated David Otunga.
  • Wade Barrett defeated R-Truth.
  • Alberto Del Rio defeated Sgt. Slaughter.
  • Mae Young defeated Michelle McCool & Layla in a 1-on-2 handicap no disqualification match in just 54 seconds. The win made Mae, age 77, the oldest person to win a match in WWE history.
  • Daniel Bryan defeated Jack Swagger.

2 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Glory by Honor XIII from the San Antonio Shrine Auditorium in San Antonio, Texas.

  • In a preshow match, J. Diesel defeated Shane Taylor.
  • Tommaso Ciampa defeated Romantic Touch.
  • Hanson defeated Mark Briscoe, BJ Whitmer, and Moose in a Four Corners Survival match.
  • Frankie Kazarian defeated Roderick Strong.
  • reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly) defeated The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Michael Bennett) to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
  • Will Ferrera defeated Adam Page.
  • Jay Lethal defeated RD Evans to retain the ROH World Television Championship.
  • Adam Cole defeated Christopher Daniels.
  • Jay Briscoe defeated ACH to retain the ROH World Championship.

1 year and one day ago today, Lucha Underground taped its second season opener from the Temple in Los Angeles, California.

  • In a preshow dark match, Bengala, Drago, and Famous B defeated Cage, Cortez Castro, and Mr. Cisco.
  • King Cuerno defeated Fenix to win the Lucha Underground Gift of the Gods Championship.
  • Ivellise defeated Angelico and Son of Havoc in a triple threat match to earn a Lucha Underground Championship match.
  • Mil Muertes defeated Ivellise to retain the Lucha Underground Championship.

1 year and one day ago today, Nicholas Warren Francis Bockwinkel, or simply Nick Bockwinkel, died from an undisclosed illness in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 80 years old.

Born December 6, 1934 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Bockwinkel took up wrestling after a knee injury ended his football aspirations when the University of Oklahoma withdrew his football scholarship. After being trained by Lou Thesz and Nick's father Warren, who was a star on the Midwestern wrestling circuit in the 1940s, he began his career in 1955 at just the age of 16. His first professional match was against Lou Thesz. Nick would team with his father for much of his early career and won his first major singles championship in 1963, the NWA Pacific Northwest heavyweight title. He'd also win championships in Hawaii and California.

Nick's first national exposure didn't come in a wrestling ring, but on a game show; he appeared on a 1968 episode of the primetime version of Hollywood Squares (he won his match). He also had bit roles on The Monkees and Hawaii Five-O.

In 1970, Bockwinkel joined the American Wrestling Association and teamed with Ray Stevens under the management of Bobby Heenan. The duo would win the AWA World Tag Team Championship three times from 1972 to 1975. Jealousy would break up the duo, and Bockwinkel would set out on a singles career.

On November 8, 1975, Nick, just a month before his 41st birthday, would end the seven-year reign of Verne Gagne as AWA world champion (the longest in AWA history) and go on a long reign himself, spanning more than four and a half years (the second longest in company history). During his run, he would feud with many of the top stars in the company including The Crusher, Dick the Bruiser, Verne Gagne, Greg Gagne, Mr. Saito, Otto Wanz, and Jerry Lawler. He was also a part of the first ever AWA-WWWF unification title match in March 1979 against Bob Backlund in Toronto; the match went to a double countout.

On July 19, 1980, Nick Bockwinkel would lose the title back to Verne Gagne in Chicago. Gagne would retire from wrestling while still champion, and in May 1981, much to the anger and dissatisfaction of AWA fans, Nick was awarded the title back. The title switch solidified Bockwinkel as the most hated man in the company. That worked hate would turn into a shoot hate in June 1982 when Hulk Hogan defeated Bockwinkel for the AWA world title. AWA president Stanley Blackburn reversed the decision and awarded the title back to Bockwinkel, who would then lose it to Otto Wanz just two months later. Hogan, seeing the writing on the wall, left for the WWF, and the rest is history. In February 1984, Jumbo Tsuruta defeated Bockwinkel for the AWA world title.

Bockwinkel would capture the AWA World Heavyweight Championship one last time in 1986 at the age of 52 when champion at the time Stan Hansen failed to appear for a title defense against Bockwinkel. He would not lose it until almost a year later at AWA SuperClash 2 when he was dethroned by Curt Hennig thanks to a roll of coins handed to him by Larry Zbyszko. Nick's four world runs totaled 2,990 days, longer than the combined reigns of Mad Dog Vachon, Larry Zbyszko, Rick Martel, Curt Hennig, Jerry Lawler, and Mr. M combined (and still more than 1,600 days behind Verne Gagne). Nick would get payback on Larry using another roll of coins in one of Bockwinkel's final matches. Bockwinkel would retire from active competition in 1987, but would wrestle a one-off for UWF International in Japan in May 1992 against another longtime rival in Billy Robinson.

Post-retirement, he would work as a road agent for the WWF and occasionally serve as color commentator. He wrestled another one-off match at Slamboree: A Legends Reunion in May 1993 against Dory Funk, Jr. Bockwinkel would serve as the on-screen commissioner of WCW in 1994. He also served as a commissioner of shoot-style promotion Japan Pro Wrestling Association in 2000, but demand for the shoot style had been low since the collapse of UWFI.

In March 2007, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and in 2010 made a cameo appearance on RAW as part of a legends lumberjack match. Bockwinkel is also a part of the inaugural class of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003. Nick served as President Emeritus of the Cauliflower Alley Club. He was the organization's president from 2007 to 2014, stepping down due to declining health in August 2014. Nick made his final public appearance at the 2015 Cauliflower Alley Club reunion.

Nick would die of undisclosed health issues on November 14, 2015. He was 80 years old. He is survived by his longtime second wife Darlene, two children from his first marriage, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

The best of cSs on this day:

2015: The Cesaro Section is strong: Fans vote Swiss Superman to win WWE title tournament (36% of fans in a poll want Cesaro to win the WWE title—he didn’t even make the final four)

2014: Hulk Hogan calls Stone Cold Steve Austin a coward, says he would 'love to put a can of whoop ass on him' (Hogan in an interview with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area pokes at Austin, obviously angling for a match at Wrestlemania 31)

2013: Report: Hulk Hogan WWE return negotiations 'looking good'; Jimmy Hart thinks he can work a few matches (Jimmy Hart in an interview with The Baltimore Sun and Arda Ocai says that the Hulkster has a couple matches left in him if he were to return to WWE)

2012: CSS fantasy Survivor Series draft results and tournament announcement (Sixteen Cagesiders put together a dream Survivor Series team and sell why their collection is the best of the bunch)

2011: That was awesome! (clap clap clapclapclap): Thank you, Canadian Destroyer (How one man’s wrestling fandom was reignited with one of the most dazzling moves in wrestling history)

2010: Wow, WWE now thinks Randy Savage is a bigger star than Cena, Flair, Hogan and Bruno (amongst others)! (WWE’s Top 50 Superstars of All Time list leaks ahead of its DVD release)