18 years ago today, the WWF Hardcore Championship is introduced on RAW is WAR from Houston, Texas (WWE Network link), with Mankind being awarded the title.
The tattered championship belt (not made from remnants of a championship belt smashed by Mr. Perfect in 1990) would get around quite a bit in its nearly four-year history; 48 different men and four women held the title, changing hands a total of 240 times. Nearly all of title changes, especially after February 25, 2000, came after the introduction of the “24/7 Rule”, meaning the title was at stake at all times, and anyone can challenge for it as long as there is a WWF official present.
The title was retired by Rob Van Dam in August 2002 when it was unified with the Intercontinental Championship. It was briefly brought back in 2006 by Mick Foley and Edge before being retired for good at One Night Stand; there’s some debate as to whether this is considered the last hardcore title reign.
17 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (WWE Network link), Mankind and Al Snow defeat the Hollys (Hardcore and Crash) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. It's the ninth time the tag titles have changed hands since August 1.The longest reign during that period was the New Age Outlaws at 21 days.
16 years ago today, WWF issues a statement that they have settled their wrongful death lawsuit with the Hart family:
World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. Announces Settlement in Owen Hart Case
STAMFORD, Conn.--Nov. 2, 2000--World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWF) announced today that it has agreed to a settlement in a previously disclosed lawsuit filed by the members of the family of Owen Hart, a professional wrestler, whose accidental death occurred while performing under contract with the Company. Under the terms of the agreement, the WWFE will receive a full release from any further liability in the case.
`It has always been our intention to settle this case and we tried to do what we felt was in the best interest for all those involved, particularly for the family of Owen Hart,'' said Linda McMahon, CEO.
As a result of the settlement, the WWFE will take a charge of $7 million which is net of its insurance recoveries and will retain the right to pursue contribution and indemnity from the companies that manufactured and sold the equipment involved in the accident. The charge will be recorded in selling, general and administrative expenses for the quarter ended October 27, 2000.
The settlement, approved by Kansas City Circuit Court Judge Douglas Long, Jr., resulted in $18 million for the Hart family, a portion of which would be used to start the Owen Hart Foundation to benefit the less fortunate in the Calgary area.
A wedge was driven in the once close-knit Hart family in the months and years following the lawsuit. Said Martha in an interview following the settlement:
"This is not a close-knit family and I'm not part of it anymore -- we carry the same last name but that's as far as it goes. They betrayed Owen by working against me and his children and I will never consider myself, or my children, a part of that family anymore. I will respect Owen's parents and I will stay in touch with a select few of them but people need to know that Owen was a white sheep in a black family."
Two more suits were filed regarding Owen Hart; in 2001, Martha sued Diana Hart (Owen’s sister) over comments made in the book, Under the Mat, Inside Wrestling’s Greatest Family. The book was pulled from shelves as part of a settlement in January 2002.
Martha sued WWE a second time in 2010 over their use of Owen’s name, likeness, and personal photos on the Hart family anthology DVD, Hart & Soul, as well as failure to pay royalties on said DVD. The suit was settled in April 2013, just two months before the matter was to go to trial.
A DVD on Owen Hart’s career was released in December 2015, Owen: Hart of Gold.
12 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in St. Louis, Missouri (WWE Network link), keeping it real went very, very wrong.
During a $1,000,000 Tough Enough competition, two of the contestants took on Kurt Angle in a shoot-style wrestling match. After quickly disposing of Chris Nawrocki, Daniel Puder volunteered. Puder put Angle in a keylock and was in danger of submitting Angle (or worse, breaking his arm), when referee Jimmy Korderas fast-counted Puder's shoulders down, though one of them appeared to be up. Angle and Puder got into a verbal confrontation after the match.
Puder got a modicum of popularity following the incident and rode it right to the end, ultimately besting Mike Mizanin in the final to win the competition and the contract.
9 years ago today, Harry Smith (aka David Hart Smith) and Chris Mordetzky (aka Chris Masters) were suspended after they were found to be in violation of the WWE's Wellness Policy.
They're the first performers to be publicly named in violation of the policy following a change in the policy instituted just a day earlier that anyone caught would be publicly identified.
Smith was suspended for a month, while Mordetzky was suspended for two months following a second violation. Chris would subsequently be released.
9 years ago today, Mary Lillian Ellison, aka The Fabulous Moolah, died of a heart attack in Columbia, South Carolina. She was 84.
Born July 22, 1923 in Tookiedoo, South Carolina, a small town near Columbia, Ellison was the only daughter and the youngest of five children. Her mother died of cancer at age eight and lived with her paternal grandmother and worked on her cousin's cotton farm to make ends meet. Still affected by her mother's death, her father began to take her to local wrestling matches. She eventually moved back in with her father and brothers in Columbia, but married a 21-year old man at just age 14. The couple had a daughter together, but would divorce just a year later. She left her daughter with a friend and Ellison set out on a wrestling career.
Ellison broke into the wrestling business under famed women's wrestling promoter Billy Wolfe in the late 1940s. Her debut bout came in May 1949 against June Byers. Wolfe, a notorious womanizer, encouraged his talent to enter sexual relationships to guarantee more bookings. Ellison did not go along with this, but eventually wound up in a relationship herself, and through that relationship and a couple of contacts, served as a valet for Buddy Rogers and Elephant Boy. After a near-death experience (she was nearly stabbed when she kissed Elephant Boy (real name Tony Olivas, who was thought to be black but was really Mexican, at a show in Oklahoma City), she worked for a promotion in Boston before landing in Captiol Wrestling Corporation in 1955.
The next year, Ellison defeated Judy Grable in a 13-woman battle royal to win the vacant World Women's Championship, which shared the same lineage with the NWA World Womens Championship. Initially, she was not recognized as the champion due to Billy Wolfe controlling the promotion. Following the bout, Vince McMahon Sr. gave her a new ring name: The Fabulous Moolah. June Byers challenged Moolah for the title, but was unsuccessful in taking the title from her. Moolah would hold on to the championship for the next ten years, defeating top contenders including Judy Grable and Donna Christanello, and befriending some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood, including Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Moolah would finally be recognized as the NWA Women's World Champion in 1964 following June Byers' retirement. In 1966, Moolah lost the title to Bette Boucher, but would get it back just weeks later. She lost to and regained the title from Yukiko Tomoe in 1968. Neither of these reigns are officially recognized by WWE today. On July 1, 1972, Moolah became the first woman to wrestle in Madison Square Garden (in fact, she had a hand in overturning the ban on women's wrestling in New York, even taking down football player Rosey Grier on The Mike Douglas Show). Moolah would reign as women's champion until Sue Green defeated her in the Garden in 1976. Again, Moolah regained the title a short time later. Her reign would go uninterrupted, save for a two day run by Evelyn Stevens in 1978, until 1984. (Green's and Stevens' championships are also not recognized officially by WWE.) Around this time, Moolah bought the legal rights to the NWA World's Womens Championship. She would sell the rights to Vince McMahon Jr. in 1983 and agreed to appear exclusively for the WWF, making her the de facto first WWF Womens Champion.
Moolah would be a key figure in the Rock ‘n Wrestling Connection, getting caught in the feud with singer Cyndi Lauper and manager Captain Lou Albano. Each would send a charge to act on their behalf to settle their issues. Albano chose Moolah, while Cyndi chose Wendi Richter. The July 23, 1984 bout at the Garden, broadcast live on MTV, was dubbed The Brawl to End it All. Richter won the match, ending Moolah's 28-year stranglehold on the women's championship. Wendi would lose the title the title the following February to Lelani Kai, who was managed by Moolah. Richter regained the title at the first Wrestlemania a few weeks later, setting up a possible rematch. The rematch in reality, was most unexpected. In November 1985, Richter was on sour terms with the WWF, and a decision was made to take the title off her. Moolah, dressed as "The Spider Lady", quickly defeated Richter in a match dubbed "The Original Screwjob" to regain the title. Richter promptly left the WWF, while Moolah held the title (save for a six day run by Velvet McIntyre In 1986) until July 1987, when she was defeated by Sherri Martel.
She wrestled and made appearances somewhat regularly over the next few years, and in 1995, would become the first woman to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. In the late 1990s, Pat Patterson and Ellison kicked around the idea of a comeback. The comeback would prove a reality, as she and BFF Mae Young returned to the WWF in 1998. Mostly appearing in comedic roles, a 76-year old Moolah shocked the world in October 1999 when she defeated Ivory to win the WWF Womens Championship, making her the oldest champion in professional wrestling history. Her reign was not nearly as long as the others, as she lost the title back to Ivory just eight days later. In 2003, Vince McMahon made good on his promise to give Moolah a match on her 80th birthday, and a couple months after her 80th birthday, Moolah defeated Victoria on RAW. Moolah would make sporadic appearances until Summerslam2007, her final appearance before her death.
Ellison wrote her autobiography, The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle in 2002, and was criticized for keeping kayfabe, something that is not looked at as positively in the 21st century as it was during her prime. Ellison was often praised and criticized for her training and promoting efforts, and often chided for strong-arming her protégés into giving up possible primed positions, even accused of being a pimp for various wrestling promoters.
Ellison was married three times and had six grandchildren, five biological, one adopted. She lived with longtime friend Mae Young from 1991 to her death in 2007. She also lived with midget professional wrestler Katie Glass and Donna Christanello off and on for 40 years. In addition to being a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, Ellison is a member of the NWA Hall of Fame 2012 class, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum class of 2003, and is the winner of the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Stanley Weston Award for lifetime achievement in 1991.
6 years ago today, Linda McMahon lost her bid to become a Senator for the State of Connecticut, losing to Richard Blumenthal. Blumenthal would easily win the seat, with 55% of the vote to McMahon's 43%.
The 2010 self-funded campaign would be among the costliest in United States history, with McMahon spending $50 million in her losing effort. McMahon would try again for the other Senatorial seat two years later, but lose to Chris Murphy.
5 years ago today, Mick Foley appeared as the special referee for a RAW house show match in Dublin, Ireland between John Cena & John Morrison and The Awesome Truth (Miz & R-Truth). This was Foley's first appearance in WWE since just before Summerslam 2008.
It's a happy 72nd birthday to perhaps the world's most well-known ring announcer, Michael Buffer.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his parents divorced at 11 months old, leaving Buffer to be raised by foster parents. Like his biological father, Buffer served in the Armed Forces (Michael in the Army during Vietnam, his father in the Navy during World War II).
After holding various jobs, including selling cars and modeling, in 1982 at age 38, Buffer began his legendary ring announcing career. Within a year, Buffer would announce for Bob Arum's Top Rank boxing matches for ESPN. By 1984, Buffer developed the trademark that would be his calling card for all matches that he announced: "Let's get ready to rumble!" The phrase, born from an inspiration from a Muhammad Ali catchphrase (“Rumble, young man, rumble”) would get a federal trademark in 1992. The five-word phrase has appeared in music, on various merchandise, even in video games.
Buffer would become the exclusive ring announcer for all events held at Trump-owned casinos. His fame would connect him with long-lost family members, including his birth father in 1989, and half-brother Bruce Buffer, who served as his agent and manager before Bruce became the ring announcer for UFC events.
Buffer also served as the ring announcer for WCW main events until its closing in 2001, thanks to parent company Time Warner owning HBO, which broadcast Top Rank bouts of which Buffer was their announcer. He also did ring announce on a couple of occasions for WWE (once in 2007 and again for the 2008 Royal Rumble event) and twice for early UFC events.
Through his career, Buffer has announced for pretty much every major sporting event and has appeared on countless television shows, cartoons, and video games. In 2008, he was the chief antagonist in the Adam Sandler movie, You Don't Mess with the Zohan. That same year, Buffer was treated for throat cancer.
Buffer has married three times; currently, he and his wife Christine live in Southern California. Buffer has two children from his first marriage.
Today’s Best of cSs:
2015: Ronda Rousey wants to be a part of the WWE Divas Revolution (The MMA fighter/wrestling fan in an interview with Rolling Stone feels her presence in WWE could be an improvement for women’s wrestling)
2014: Still looking for El Rey network on your channel guide? Watch full video of Lucha Undergrond's fantastic Johnny Mundo (John Morrison) vs. Prince Puma (Ricochet) main event HERE! (Full match of Lucha Underground’s first ever main event)
2013: WWE Top 10 Video: Greatest Stolen Finishers (A staple of the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression eras, a video of superstars using the move theft ability)
2012: Aces and 8s continue driving down its road of mediocrity in TNA (The former Luke Gallows is unmasked as the newest member of TNA’s Big Bad stable; nobody cared—or knew who he was)
2011: WWE: Is Vince McMahon no longer the pro wrestling genius he once was? (Following a horrific RAW, Our own Geno Mrosko asks is McMahon out of touch with his audience? And his locker room? Wrestling Observer Newsletter thinks so)