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This Day in Wrestling History (Nov. 25): The Original Screwjob

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this day in wrestling history

31 years ago today in New York City, the Fabulous Moolah, disguised as The Spider Lady, defeated Wendi Richter to win the WWF Womens Championship.

There was much controversy surrounding the title change. Wendi Richter was riding a huge wave of momentum as part of the "Rock ‘n Wrestling Connection". Billed as “150 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal”, Richter may have arguably been the second biggest star in the WWF, behind the WWF Champion Hulk Hogan.

Unfortunately for Richter, that success didn't come with a bigger pay check. In fact, she was criminally underpaid. According to Wendi, she was guaranteed a paltry $25 per house show, and factoring in the gate, she was looking at about $500 on this night. Wendi tried to negotiate for a new deal, but was often shot down. Just two weeks before the event, Wendi was offered a new deal, but did not accept saying she wanted her attorney to look at it first. The plans were set in motion to separate the title from Richter.

With the dispute ongoing, Richter was set to defend the title against the masked Spider Lady (a role regularly played by Moolah protege Penny Mitchell). Richter knew something was amiss when Moolah showed up; it was not like Moolah to be at an event she wasn't scheduled to be a part of. The quick bout ended with a small package by Moolah, and despite Wendi clearly kicking out before the three, referee Dick Kroll acknowledged the pinfall. Wendi pulled off the mask post-match, then Wendi snapped, kicking and punching at Moolah, and even hit her with the championship belt.

Richter, just 24 years of age at the time of the incident, left the arena--and the WWF, never to return...until nearly a quarter century later when she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Not surprisingly, Richter and Moolah never spoke to one another again.

The win made Moolah, who was 62 at the time of the controversial victory, the oldest champion in WWF history (she herself would break that mark in 1999).

A full breakdown of the events leading to the "Original Screwjob" written by David "The Masked Man" Shoemaker for Grantland from 2013 can be read here.

24 years ago today, WWF presented Survivor Series (WWE Network link) from the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio. 17,500 were in attendance, with 250,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 300,000 the previous year.

There was just one elimination match on the show, compared to full cards of them in previous years.

To say the road to Survivor Series was a turbulent one would be an understatement. Here's a list of all the major happenings from Summerslam to the night of the show:

1. Ric Flair wins the WWF Championship...

2. ...only to lose it to Bret Hart just days after he suffers an inner ear injury.

3. Shawn Michaels wins the Intercontinental Championship from Bulldog...

4. ...who is fired from WWF after he is busted for receiving HGH shipments from England.

5. The Natural Disasters lose the WWF Tag Team Championship to Money Inc.

6. The Nasty Boys turn babyface.

7. Nailz and Undertaker feud, but it never gets off the ground (Nailz would be fired by the WWF about three weeks after the show after getting into an altercation with Vince McMahon).

8. Legion of Doom leave the WWF.

9. The Ultimate Maniacs (Macho Man Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior) form...

10. ...and break up when Warrior is fired from the WWF two weeks before Survivor Series despite being (a) on the promo poster and (b) in the main event with Savage (a combination of missing shows and receiving an HGH shipment got Warrior fired for the second time in as many years)...

11. ...necessitating a face turn for Mr. Perfect, changing the main event of Survivor Series.

12. Oh, and Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth get divorced.

13. Papa Shango and Bret Hart briefly feud.

14. Yokozuna debuts.

15. Doink debuts.

16. The Mountie leaves the WWF... but for only a few months (he returns the following summer).

17. The Bushwhackers were originally a part of the show, but they were booted from the card altogether.

18. The Sensational Sherri-Shawn Michaels partnership dissolves.

19. Marty Janetty returns...only to get released soon after he was suspected of being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at the 1993 Royal Rumble event.

20. Bob Backlund returns to the WWF after an eight-year absence.

The result: this mess of a card that features the first Bret Hart-Shawn Michaels match on PPV. Omelette, eggs, that sorta thing.

  • In a dark match, Crush defeated The Brooklyn Brawler.
  • The Headshrinkers (Samu and Fatu) defeated High Energy (Owen Hart and Koko B. Ware).
  • The Big Boss Man defeated Nailz.
  • Tatanka defeated Rick Martel.
  • Randy Savage and Mr. Perfect defeated Razor Ramon and Ric Flair by disqualification.
  • Yokozuna defeated Virgi.
  • The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags) and The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon defeated Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster) and The Beverly Brothers (Beau and Blake) 4-2 in a tag team Survivor Series match. Eliminations occurred in pairs; when one member of a team was eliminated, his partner was eliminated as well.
  • The Undertaker defeated Kamala in a coffin match.
  • Bret Hart defeated Shawn Michaels by submission to retain the WWF Championship. Michaels' Intercontinental Championship was not at stake in this match.

10 years ago today in Edison, New Jersey, Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal defeated The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Claudio Castignoli) to win the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship.

3 years ago today on RAW from Uniondale, New York (WWE Network link), Total Divas (Natalya, The Bella Twins (Brie Bella and Nikki Bella), The Funkadactyls (Naomi and Cameron), JoJo, and Eva Marie) defeated True Divas (AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka, Kaitlyn, Alicia Fox, Summer Rae, Rosa Mendes and Aksana) 7-4 in a Survivor Series match. Eva Marie and the Bella Twins were the sole survivors for the winning team.

This is the second time in as many nights the match was done. The rematch finished sixth in the Worst Match category for 2013 by Wrestling Observer Newsletter readers. Progress, probably, as their first encounter would win the award.

1 year ago today, Tyler Kluttz, best known to wrestling fans as Brad Maddox, was fired from WWE.

The reason for his firing: according to PWInsider, before a dark match against R-Truth at a Smackdown taping in Indianapolis, Indiana the previous night, he used the line “cocky pricks” in a promo. Uproxx followed up saying he referred to the crowd as such.

Kluttz did well for himself on WWE’s developmental circuit, winning the Ohio Valley Wrestling’s heavyweight and television championships, then the Florida Championship Wrestling Florida tag titles twice, and was the last FCW 15 Champion.

On the main roster, he was best known as the referee that cost Ryback a Hell in a Cell match against CM Punk for the WWE Championship in October 2012. He had a brief stint as RAW general manager in 2013 and 2014, but was sparsely used on television after his stint ended.

His last television appearance for WWE came about two weeks prior when The Undertaker tombstoned a turkey-suit clad Maddox on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon as part of a promo appearance for the upcoming Survivor Series.

It's a happy 70th birthday for John L. Sullivan. In some circles, he's Thomas Sullivan, but wrestling fans know him best as Johnny Valiant.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he grew up with and became friends with Bruno Sammartino. Sullivan began his career in the Detroit wrestling territory working with The Sheik. After training under Kangaroo Al Costello, Sullivan began traveling North America, settling in the WWWF in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As a mid-card babyface, he'd often lose to the top heels of the company, but would get the better of most of the roster.

He While in Ontario, Sullivan met James Farring, aka Handsome "Jimmy Valiant". The two would become the Valiant Brothers in the Indianapolis-based World Wrestling Association and would win their tag team championship from Bruno Sammartino and Dick the Bruiser. The Valiants also won tag gold in the WWWF, winning the titles in 1974 and again (albeit with a different storyline brother, Jerry) in 1979.

Following his wrestling career, he transitioned to managing. He managed Hulk Hogan in the early 1980s in the AWA and would manage Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake to the WWF Tag Team Championship in 1985. He would also manage Dino Bravo in 1986 and 1987. After leaving the WWF following the 1987 Survivor Series, he returned to the AWA and would manage the Destruction Crew (Mike Enos & Wayne Bloom) to the AWA World Tag Team Championship.

These days, Sullivan, still going by his ring name, is a comedian and actor, having appeared on multiple episodes of The Sopranos and Law & Order, and has a cameo appearance in the 2008 film The Wrestler. In 2008, the original Valiants were a part of a pair of documentaries, both titled The Absolute Truth About Pro Wrestling. Sullivan, now living in Queens, New York, is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame class of 1996.


The best of cSs on this day:

2015: Former NXT writer calls for 'complete overhaul' of WWE Creative (In the wake of the least-watched RAW in the three-hour era, former NXT writer Rob Naylor goes on a rant on Twitter saying a complete change in creative is needed)

2014: GIF: Luke Harper rearranges Dean Ambrose's face with his boot during a break in the talking on the November 24th WWE Raw (Luke Harper delivers some Sweet Chin Music to Dean Ambrose’s jaw)

2013: Former WWE Writer compares handling of Daniel Bryan's 2013 with Rey Mysterio in 2006 (Former writer and occasional cSs contributor Alex Greenfield says in an interview on The Shoot podcast that Vince McMahon’s ‘little guy can’t beat big guy’ mentality is killing Daniel Bryan the way it killed Rey Mysterio)

2012: CM Punk drops the ball as the Official Grand Marshal of the McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago (CM Punk serves as Grand Marshall of the annual Thanksgiving parade in Chicago, then answers a couple questions about his pending match with The Rock)

2011: Why won't WWE turn John Cena heel? (Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer breaks down why John Cnea will never turn heel. The tl;dr: money)