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This Day in Wrestling History (Nov. 19): Ric Flair Returns To The WWF

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this day in wrestling history

50 years ago today in Omaha, Nebraska, Mad Dog Vachon defeated Dick the Bruiser to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship for the fifth time.

26 years ago today at a WWF Superstars taping in Rochester, New York, Mr. Perfect defeated "The Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

25 years ago today, WCW presented Clash of the Champions XVII (WWE Network link) from the Savannah Civic Center in Savannah, Georgia. This was the first Clash to be presented without an official subtitle.

  • Big Josh defeated Tommy Rich in a lumberjack match.
  • Bobby Eaton defeated Firebreaker Chip.
  • The Z-Man defeated The Diamond Studd.
  • Steve Austin defeated PN News to retain the WCW World Television Championship.
  • Cactus Jack defeated Van Hammer.
  • Dustin Rhodes & Ricky Steamboat defeated The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko) to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
  • Flyin' Brian defeated Johnny B. Badd to retain the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship.
  • Rick Rude defeated Sting to win the WCW United States Championship.
  • Lex Luger defeated Rick Steiner to retain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

22 years ago today in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Chris Candido defated Tracy Smothers in the finals of a one-night tournament to win the vacated NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Candido was the first NWA world champion since Shane Douglas vacated the belt in a scathing shoot on August 27. Other participants in the tournament were Devon Storm, Eddie Gilbert, Johnny Gunn, Al Snow, Tony Anthony, Jerry Lawler, Osamu Nishimura, and Lou Perez.

21 years ago today, WWF presented Survivor Series (WWE Network link) from the USAir Arena in Landover, Maryland. 14,500 were in attendance, with just 128,000 homes watching on PPV, though some estimates have it as high as 179,000 buys. Either way, it's down from 254,000 for the 1994 edition and was the lowest buyrate in the event's history at the time.

This was the first Survivor Series to not take place on Thanksgiving eve or Thanksgiving night. This was also the first PPV event to feature the Spanish announce table. Sole survivors in bold.

  • In a preshow dark match, The Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart) defeated The Public Enemy (Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge).
  • The BodyDonnas (Skip, Rad Radford, Tom Prichard, and The 1-2-3 Kid) defeated The Underdogs (Marty Jannetty, Hakushi, Barry Horowitz, and Bob Holly) 4-3 in a Survivor Series match.
  • Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe, and Lioness Asuka defeated Alundra Blayze, Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa, and Chaparita Asari 4-3 in a Survivor Series match. This was the final WWF PPV for Alundra... and all the other women in the match for that matter. Less than a month later in a match on RAW, Kong legitimately broke the nose of Asari. Kong was immediately fired and the women’s division was essentially scrapped.
  • Goldust defeated Bam Bam Bigelow. This was Bam Bam Bigleow's final WWF PPV, as he left for ECW following the show.
  • The Darkside (The Undertaker, Savio Vega, Fatu, and Henry Godwinn) defeated The Royals (King Mabel, Jerry Lawler, Isaac Yankem, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley) 4-0 in a Survivor Series match. Undertaker scored all four decisions for The Darkside, three by pinfall, and one by countout.
  • Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, The British Bulldog, and Sycho Sid defeated Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Razor Ramon, and Dean Douglas 4-1 in a Survivor Series match.
  • Bret Hart defeated Diesel in a no disqualification match to win the WWF Championship. The win ended Diesel's WWF Championship reign at 358 days, the longest title reign since Hulk Hogan's year-long reign from Wrestlemania V to Wrestlemania VI, and what would wind up being the longest WWF Championship run of the 1990s.

16 years ago today, WWF presented Survivor Series (WWE Network link) from the Ice Palace in Tampa, Florida. 18,602 were attendance, with 400,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 448,000 for the 1999 edition.

  • In a preshow Sunday Night Heat match, Val Venis defeated Jeff Hardy.
  • Steve Blackman, Crash Holly, and Molly Holly defeated T & A (Test and Albert) and Trish Stratus.
  • The Radicalz (Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Perry Saturn) defeated Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, Chyna, and K-Kwik 4-2 in a Survivor Series match.
  • Kane defeated Chris Jericho.
  • William Regal defeated Hardcore Holly by disqualification to retain the WWF European Championship.
  • The Rock defeated Rikishi.
  • Ivory defeated Lita in Singles match for the WWF Women's Championship.
  • Kurt Angle defeated The Undertaker to retain the WWF Championship.
  • The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) and The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff) defeated Edge and Christian and The Right to Censor (Bull Buchanan and The Goodfather) 4-3 in a Survivor Series match.
  • Steve Austin and Triple H fought to a no contest in a no disqualification match. How is that possible, you ask? Austin and Triple H eventually fought their way to the outside and Triple H tried to escape in a waiting car. Stone Cold Steve Austin lifts Triple H's car via a forklift and drops it some 30 feet upside down with Triple H inside, presumably to his death. The match obviously was immediately stopped at that point.

15 years ago today, WWF begins the post-Invasion era with RAW from Charlotte, North Carolina (WWE Network link). It was quite the memorable evening.

  • Even before the opening theme plays, there’s footage of Mick Foley on Vince McMahon’s plane. Foley knows he was probably getting fired, so he beats him to the punch and resigns from his commissioner post instead.
  • In the show’s opening segment, Paul Heyman was formally fired by Vince McMahon, essentially leaving an open seat at the commentary table. Taking Paul’s place: the returning Jerry “The King” Lawler. Lawler hadn’t been on WWF programming since February when his then-wife Stacy “The Kat” Carter was fired from the company, with Lawler quitting in protest.
  • Later in the evening, Shane and Stephanie McMahon were told their services were also no longer required (you know, since they were leading the Alliance and all that). Shane took the news well. Stephanie: not so much; she had to be physically removed from the building.
  • But Vince McMahon did have a moment of benevolence: he offered to re-hire one member of the Alliance on the condition that that person kissed Vince McMahon’s ass. William Regal took the offer and he was indeed rehired after he kissed McMahon’s ass. No, like he actually kissed McMahon’s ass. Seriously. It’s not a metaphor.
  • In the show’s closing segment, McMahon was set to award the WWF Championship to Kurt Angle for his help in winning the Winner Take All match at Survivor Series the night prior when the familiar tune of Also Sprach Zarathustra played on WWF programming for the first time since 1993. As any wrestling fan will tell you, that’s the entrance theme of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, who last appeared on RAW on its third ever episode.
  • And it turned out Flair had a surprise announcement: when the McMahon kids sold their stock to a consortium to form the Alliance, the consortium was Ric Flair. That essentially meant that Ric Flair had been sitting on 50% ownership of the WWF for months and Vince didn’t know.
  • Oh, and Stone Cold was essentially turned face again.

You’d think with all this, there was no wrestling on the show. You’d be wrong, of course. There was indeed wrestling on this show, including a world title match.

10 years ago today, TNA presented Genesis from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando.

  • In a preshow match, Robert Roode defeated Eric Young. The referee post-match noticed Roode used the ropes for leverage, so the match was restarted. Then Eric Young defeated Robert Roode using the ropes for leverage. TNA, everyone.
  • The Voodoo Kin Mafia (B.G. James and Kip James) defeated Kazarian, Maverick Matt and Johnny Devine.
  • The Naturals (Andy Douglas and Chase Stevens) defeated Sonjay Dutt and Jay Lethal.
  • Christopher Daniels defeated Chris Sabin to retain the TNA X Division Championship.
  • Ron Killings and Lance Hoyt defeated The Paparazzi (Austin Starr and Alex Shelley).
  • Christian Cage defeated A.J. Styles.
  • The Latin American Exchange (Homicide and Hernandez) defeated America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm) to retain the NWA World Tag Team Championship. Post-match, Jim Cornette nullified the decision and stripped LAX of the tag team titles. The decision would later be reversed.
  • Abyss defeated Sting by disqualification to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Yes, this really did happen. Back in 2002, a rule was instituted in TNA that anyone that intentionally disqualifies himself could lose their title. Sting clotheslined Rudy Charles and the ref called for the bell. This pissed people off for multiple reasons, including but not limited to (1) changing a championship via disqualification basically goes against any and all wrestling tradition and logic, and (2) TNA instituted this rule four years prior, yet rarely enforced (two notable examples involved the tag titles. Kid Kash & Dallas lost and won back the tag titles on a disqualification in consecutive shows in April 2004.)
  • Kurt Angle defeated Samoa Joe by submission. The submission is the first time Samoa Joe was defeated in a TNA match.

9 years ago today, Chris Jericho made his return to the WWE after a two year absence on RAW from Fort Lauderdale, Florida (WWE Network link).

In his first promo back, he declared that he returned to save us from Randy Orton and he was coming for the WWE Championship.

5 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Glory by Honor X from the Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago Ridge, Illinois.

  • In a preshow dark match, Andy Ridge defeated Mike Sydal.
  • Michael Elgin defeated Adam Cole, Grizzly Redwood, and Mike Bennett in a Four Corner Survival Match.
  • Jimmy Jacobs and Tomasso Ciampa fought to a no contest.
  • Tommaso Ciampa defeated Harlem Bravado.
  • Eddie Edwards defeated Kyle O'Reilly.
  • The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) defeated The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson).
  • Jay Lethal defeated Roderick Strong in a Proving Ground Match.
  • Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin) defeated The All-Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus) to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
  • Davey Richards defeated El Generico to retain the ROH World Championship.

4 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, Masato Tanaka defeated Karl Anderson in a tournament final to become the first NEVER Openweight Champion.

The championship, originally intended as a developmental title to be defended at events of the same name, has since become a third-tier championship, similar to WCW's World Television title and WWE's European title. Another interesting nugget: until Evil’s title win on November 5, every man who has held the title has been in their thirties or forties (Evil is 29).

Though the title does say “Openweight”, it’s not truly openweight; New Japan classifies it as a heavyweight championship, meaning anyone weighing under 100kg (220 pounds) cannot contend for the title. Not that it stopped its current champion Katsuyori Shibata from winning it—twice; his billed weight is 95 kilos (209 pounds).

One more nugget: New Japan has not held a NEVER event since the title tournament ended.

2 years ago today, TNA announces in a joint press release with Discovery Communications that Destination America has acquired the TV rights to their programming effective January 2015.

The announcement comes after a very turbulent five months for the promotion; in July 2014, Spike TV cancelled Impact Wrestling allegedly over the company keeping its rehiring of Vince Russo secret (the network ordered the promotion not to rehire him; Russo was outed by PWInsider’s Mike Johnson after Russo cc’d him on an email in error).

The press release in part:

DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS ACQUIRES EXCLUSIVE BROADCAST RIGHTS TO TOP PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING LEAGUE, TNA IMPACT WRESTLING, FOR DESTINATION AMERICA

(Silver Spring, Md.) - Discovery Communications announced today that it has signed a multi-year deal with TNA (Total Nonstop Action) IMPACT WRESTLING to bring the popular league to homes nationwide on Destination America, the only network dedicated to celebrating the people, places and stories of the United States. Destination America officially enters the ring with its first world premiere of IMPACT WRESTLING in January 2015. The series features some of the biggest names in professional wrestling, including Jeff Hardy, Bobby Roode, Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley and Gail Kim. The partnership includes the U.S. premieres of additional TNA WRESTLING series and specials and provides Discovery Communications with international broadcasting rights in select regions, to be announced at a later date.

"Our partnership in this uniquely entertaining franchise with TNA IMPACT WRESTLING provides a significant addition to Destination America's programming strategy," said Henry Schleiff, Group President of Destination America, Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel, Discovery Fit & Health and Discovery Family Channel. "The enduring, cross-generational enthusiasm of pro wrestling is felt by millions of fans around the country, from coast-to-coast and throughout the heartland. We are delighted to bring this beloved American pastime to the one and only network dedicated to celebrating the unique spirit of the U.S., Destination America."

"Our knockout partnership with TNA IMPACT WRESTLING continues Destination America's mission of bringing our viewers the best of all-American entertainment, and going center ring with one of the world's foremost professional wrestling leagues fits perfectly within our DNA," said Marc Etkind, general manager of Destination America. "Wrestling has created a fiercely loyal, passionate and widespread fan base, and we look forward to being part of the TNA family."

"We are very excited about Destination America being the new network for IMPACT WRESTLING and the partnership with Discovery Communications both domestically and across the globe. Their commitment to promote and grow our brand in innovative and compelling ways was instrumental in knowing we had found the right home," said TNA President Dixie Carter. "Together we will create an experience that takes our fans on a new journey that will push the envelope of technology, including where we take our cameras, going deeper into our superstars' lives and showing the reality of what it takes to create a weekly professional wrestling show, all while showcasing the very best male and female athletes in the world."

Though Impact would be the most-watched show on Destination America, the show wasn’t cost-efficient for the network (it had after all lost about 60% of its audience in leaving Spike, and the advertising costs were not making up for it). In May 2015, Discovery informs TNA that all their programming was cancelled effective September, the earliest they could exercise their out.

Today would have been the 56th birthday of Elizabeth Ann Huellete, best known to wrestling fans as Miss Elizabeth.

Born in Frankfort, Kentucky, Hulette, a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a degree of communications, was best remembered as the manager of her real-life husband, "Macho Man" Randy Savage. The two met while working International Championship Wrestling shows. The couple married in December 1984, but Elizabeth wouldn't make her WWF debut until the following summer.

With several managers competing for the services of Savage, it would be the then unknown attractive woman that won him over (in fact, even former WWF Champion Bruno Sammartino was blown away by her beauty on air, referring to her as "some sort of movie star"). That unknown attractive woman would soon be known as Miss Elizabeth. Over the next few years, Elizabeth would play a central role in storylines involving Randy Savage.

In 1986 and early 1987, George "The Animal" Steel had a crush on her. In late 1987, Elizabeth was pushed down by the Honky Tonk Man and hit Savage with a guitar. Elizabeth escaped further harm and got Hulk Hogan. That rescue effort was the formation of the Mega-Powers. At Wrestlemania IV, it would be Elizabeth that got Hogan again, this time helping Savage win the WWF Championship. That summer at the first Summerslam, Andre the Giant and Ted Dibiase, on their way to victory over the Megapowers, was "distracted by the sexy", as Elizabeth ripped off her skirt to reveal red panties. The distraction would be enough for Hogan to recover and win the match for the team.

It would be Elizabeth that ultimately came between the Megapowers, as Savage grew jealous of Hogan's affections toward her. Elizabeth was in a netural corner for Savage's WWF Championship bout against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania V, a match won by Hogan. Following the event, Savage replaced Elizabeth with Sensational Sherri. As for Elizabeth, her appearances would be sporadic over the next two years, most notably at Summerslam 1989 and Wrestlemania VI, both in managerial roles. Also in the interim, Miss Elizabeth briefly co-hosted WWF Wrestling Spotlight with Vince McMahon.

Elizabeth and Savage would have an emotional reunion at Wrestlemania VII when she came to the rescue of an irate Sensational Sherri after Savage lost a retirement match to the Ultimate Warrior. The reunion would be punctuated by Savage holding the ropes for Elizabeth after she did the same for many years for Savage. The couple would finally storyline marry at Summerslam. At the wedding reception, Elizabeth opened a package containing a live snake, frightening her. This would bring Savage and Roberts together in a memorable feud, which would include Savage being bitten by a cobra and Elizabeth being struck down by Roberts. Roberts was about to hit Elizabeth with a steel chair following a match at Saturday Night's Main Event in February 1992, but the Undertaker stopped him, setting up a rivalry between them.

Elizabeth's final major WWF angle involved Ric Flair, who made accusations toward Savage that Elizabeth was with him first, even producing doctored photos to prove it. With Mr. Perfect, Flair promised that they were going to show a nude photo of Elizabeth at Wrestlemania VIII after Flair retained the WWF Championship. The picture would never be shown, of course, as Savage defeated Flair for the title. Post-match, Flair kissed Elizabeth, but Elizabeth slapped him away, and Savage beat on Flair until the two had to be separated. That was Elizabeth's final WWF television appearance; she would leave the company following their European tour in April 1992.

Elizabeth would be used in storylines until the early summer when the real photos of Savage and Elizabeth were printed in WWF Magazine. Shortly after, the couple divorced, and in a rare moment for the WWF at the time, the company acknowledged it in a statement in their magazine. The divorce was never referenced on WWF television. Savage would remain with the WWF until late 1994; as for Elizabeth, she covered speedboat racing events for ESPN.

In January 1996, Miss Elizabeth returned to wrestling as a manger for Savage, but she would turn on him to join Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen; she would later turn on them and join Hulk Hogan and the New World Order (nWo); her ex-husband soon followed. She would turn on Savage in June 1998 and join nWo Hollywood. She would accompany Eric Bischoff for the next few months and would deride Savage. Savage coldly reminded her that he "got over her a long time ago" and didn't need her.

Hulette would briefly marry attorney Cary Lubetsky, a South Florida attorney, in December 1997. The couple divorced just 15 months later.

Elizabeth's most memorable storyline in WCW came on January 4, 1999 (the night of the infamous Fingerpoke of Doom), she was the alleged victim of aggravated stalking by Goldberg, who was challenging for the WCW title that night. Goldberg was arrested, but was later released when it was revealed that she made it all up. A returning Hulk Hogan took Kevin Nash's place and would win the WCW world title. Elizabeth would accompany Lex Luger (and occasionally Kevin Nash) to ringside following the incident, and be involved in a hair versus mask match at Superbrawl IX (i.e. Elizabeth's hair vs. Rey's mask). But days before the match was to take place, Luger was injured by Rey Mysterio when he slammed a limo door into Luger's biceps. Luger would be replaced by Scott Hall, and the reunited Outsiders would win the match. Elizabeth took time off with Luger as he rehabbed his biceps.

Elizabeth's next high profile storyline would not come until the following year, when she was one-third of Team Package with Ric Flair and Luger to take down Hulk Hogan. In a somewhat infamous moment, Hogan gave Elizabeth the atomic drop and Elizabeth no-sold it, rolling out of the ring. On the Bubba the Love Sponge show later that week, Hogan claimed that because Elizabeth wasn't wearing panties under her skirt, she would not take a bigger bump. The group would split up during the New Blood-Millionaires Club storyline, with Elizabeth wrestling for the first time in her career that spring. Her first official match came on May 8, 2000 against Daffney. She would have just two more: one against Rhonda Sing (aka Bertha Faye of WWF fame) and Madusa. Later that summer, Elizabeth would be released from her WCW contract.

Elizabeth and Luger would be a couple until her passing; following the end of her WCW run, she worked the front desk at Main Event Fitness, a gym Luger and Sting opened together. Elizabeth accompanied Luger on the World Wrestling All-Stars European tour in November and December 2002, but never made an on-screen appearance. Just weeks before her death, Elizabeth was involved in a domestic dispute with Luger, alleging that he struck her in their townhouse garage in Marietta, Georgia. Huelette was badly bruised: both eyes bruised, a head bump, and a cut lip. Luger was charged with a misdemeanor battery and released on $2,500 bond. Just two days later, Luger was arrested for DUI after rear-ending another car. Luger, who according to the arrest report had slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and trouble finding his license, had a 9mm handgun in the car. Elizabeth was also in the car at the time.

On May 1, 2003, Luger called 911 and reported Huelette was not breathing. She did not respond to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and paramedics rushed her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. She was 42. The Marietta Daily Journal reported that at the time of her death, she had a 0.29 alcohol level, more than triple the legal limit to drive in Georgia. Her death was ruled an accidental overdose.

During the investigation of her death, Luger, real name Larry Pfohl, was arrested and charged with 13 felony counts of possession of a controlled substance, and one misdemeanor count of distribution of dangerous drugs. Luger, released the next day on $27,500 bail, would plead guilty to the charges in February 2005. He was sentenced to five years probation, random drug screening, and fined $1,000.

In a WWE.com countdown earlier in 2012 (redone in 2015), Miss Elizabeth was selected as the most beautiful person in sports entertainment history.


The best of cSs on this day:

2015: NXT spoilers: Eva Marie vs. Bayley for the Women's title, TakeOver: London build, James Storm, more! (Results of NXT tapings leading to Takeover: London highlighted by Eva Marie nearly winning the NXT women’s title)

2014: TNA officially announces Discovery partnership and new home for Impact on Destination America channel (TNA finds a new TV home, securing their immediate future)

2013: WWE wrestlers too scared to complain about their payoffs to Jane Geddes (Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer reports that wrestlers are keeping mum about payouts for fear of their jobs)

2012: WWE TLC video promo for Dec. 16 pay-per-view in Brooklyn (Promo for TLC PPV spoofs daytime TV lawyer ads)

2011: Matt Hardy arrested again after getting kicked out of WWE sponsored rehab (Just two months after entering rehab, TMZ reported he was kicked out of the program, then arrested when he got home for violating a court order)

2010: WWE releases a bunch of people including Luke Gallows (Black Friday comes before Black Friday as Shad Gaspard, Luke Gallows, Vance Archer, Caylen Croft, Tiffany, and Jillian Hall all get their walking papers; longtime writer Chris DeJoseph also left the company)