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This Day in Wrestling History (Nov. 27): CM Punk’s Exit Interview

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this day in wrestling history

67 years ago today, National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Champion Orville Brown forfeits the title to Lou Thesz due to injuries suffered in a car accident. The accident would end Brown's career.

As for Thesz, he would spend the next three years unifying every version of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, completing his task in Los Angeles when he defeated Baron Michele Leone in 1952.

30 years ago today, NWA in association with Jim Crockett Promotions presented Starrcade '86: Night of the Skywalkers (WWE Network link) from the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina and The Omni in Atlanta, Georgia.

The venues would alternate having matches; when their venue wasn't having a match, it would show the match in progress via closed-circuit television. The exact same configuration was used for the prior year’s Starrcade, and would be used by the WWF earlier that year when Wrestlemania 2 emanated from three different cities.

  • Tim Horner and Nelson Royal defeated Don and Rocky Kernodle.
  • Hector Guerrero and Baron Von Raschke defeated Shaska Whatley and The Barbarian.
  • Wahoo McDaniel defeated Rick Rude in an Indian Strap match.
  • Jimmy Valiant defeated Paul Jones in a hair versus hair match. Manny Fernandez was locked in a cage away from the ring to prevent interference.
  • Tully Blanchard defeated Dusty Rhodes in a first blood match to win the NWA World Television Championship.
  • The Rock 'n' Roll Express defeated Ole Anderson and Arn Anderson in a steel cage match to retain the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
  • Brad Armstrong fought Jimmy Garvin to a draw.
  • Krusher Khruschev and Ivan Koloff defeated Bobby Jaggers and Dutch Mantel in a no disqualification match to retain the NWA United States Tag Team Championship.
  • Sam Houston defeated Bill Dundee by disqualification to retain the NWA Central States Heavyweight Championship.
  • Big Bubba Rogers defeated Ron Garvin in a street fight.
  • The Road Warriors defeated The Midnight Express in a Skywalkers match. That's another name for a scaffold match. Jim Cornette was injured in the match when he fell to the ring from the underside of the scaffold.
  • NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair and NWA United States Champion Nikita Koloff wrestled to a double disqualification. Magnum T.A. was originally scheduled to face Flair at the event, but two months before the show, Magnum, real name Terry Allen, was involved in a single-car accident less than two miles from his house. The accident resulted in Allen's C4 and C5 vertebrae to explode and the right side of his body to be temporarily paralyzed. The accident forced him to retire. Koloff, citing respect for Magnum, took his place in his feud with Flair.

25 years ago today, WWF presented Survivor Series: The Gravest Challenge (WWE Network link) from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. 17,500 were in attendance with 300,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 400,000 buys the previous year.

In an interesting bit of trivia, this is the first Survivor Series to feature a singles match of any kind, as the show's gimmick has always been a show full of elimination tag team matches. And in an odd bit of booking, that singles match was slotted in the middle of the show.

  • Ric Flair, The Mountie, Ted DiBiase and The Warlord (defeated Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Virgil and Davey Boy Smith 4-3 in a Survivor Series match. Five of the seven eliminations occurred at one time when Dibiase, The Mountie, Hart, Piper, and Virgil broke out into a major brawl and they were all counted out.
  • Sgt. Slaughter, Jim Duggan, The Texas Tornado and Tito Santana defeated Col. Mustafa, The Berzerker, Skinner and Hercules 4-0 in a Survivor Series match.
  • The Undertaker defeated Hulk Hogan to win the WWF Championship.
  • The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags) and The Beverly Brothers (Beau and Blake) defeated The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty) and The Bushwhackers (Luke Williams and Butch Miller) 4-1 in a Survivor Series match.
  • The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) and The Big Boss Man defeated The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon) and Irwin R. Schyster 3-1 in a Survivor Series match. To this day, it's the only six-man Survivor Series elimination match in the history of the event. Sid Justice was to be a part of the match, but had to drop out due to injury. Jake "The Snake" Roberts and "Macho Man" Randy Savage were removed from the match following the snake bite angle that took place the weekend before the event.

17 years ago today, Yasuhiro Kojima, best known to wrestling fans as Hiro Matsuda, dies of colon cancer. He was 62.

Born July 22, 1937 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan, Yatsuhiro adopted his ring name while he competed in the Southern United States. He first wrestled for Rikidozan's Japanese Wrestling Association before competing in the States, though occasionally he returned to Japan to compete, often with longtime friend Antonio Inoki.

He would have two runs with WCW in the late 1980s, once in 1987 as a manager for Lex Luger in his feud with Dusty Rhodes, and again in 1989 as a manager of a renamed Four Horsemen (called the Yamasaki Corporation) and an agent for Terry Funk's J-Tex Corporation. He would also serve as a spokesman for Japanese talent that came into WCW, most famously The Great Muta.

Most famously, Kojima was the trainer of some of the most successful wrestlers in history, including Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger, Ron Simmons, Keiji Mutoh (Great Muta), Scott Hall, and Paul Orndorff. His stiff, no-nonsense style was designed to teach new trainees respect for the business and toughen them up. Legend has it that he broke Hulk Hogan's leg on his first day of training. When Hogan returned to his school, Matsuda would properly train Hogan from then on.

11 years ago today, WWE presented Survivor Series (WWE Network link) from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. About 15,000 were in attendance, with 400,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 325,000 for the 2003 edition.

This was the first PPV following the death of Eddie Guerrero earlier in the month.

  • In a dark match, Juventud defeated Simon Dean.
  • Booker T defeated Chris Benoit in the first match of the Best of Seven series for the vacated WWE United States Championship.
  • Trish Stratus defeated Melina to retain the WWE Womens Championship.
  • Triple H defeated Ric Flair in a last man standing match.
  • John Cena defeated Kurt Angle to retain the WWE Championship. Davari was the special referee.
  • Theodore Long defeated Eric Bischoff. This bout was voted by Wrestling Observer Newsletter as the worst match of 2005.
  • Team SmackDown! (Batista, Rey Mysterio, John Bradshaw Layfield, Bobby Lashley, and Randy Orton) defeated Team Raw (Shawn Michaels, Kane, The Big Show, Carlito, and Chris Masters) 5-4 in a Survivor Series match. Following the main event, The Undertaker, last seen encased in a burning coffin, returned from said burning coffin.

2 years ago today, the 226th episode of Art of Wrestling podcast is released.

The podcast hosted by Colt Cabana is noted for its guest and its subject matter: Cabana’s guest was longtime friend CM Punk. On the episode, he speaks for the first time about his very public walkout from WWE following the Royal Rumble back in January. He had a lot to get off his chest to say the least:

  • Punk says he's the happiest he's been in a long time.
  • He doesn't take full credit for the change that went on in WWE in the runup to Wrestlemania XXX, but he does stop short of saying Daniel Bryan's run to the WWE Championship probably wouldn't have happened if Punk were around.
  • The environment is "creatively toxic" according to Punk, citing examples where something suggested to Vince initially would be rejected, only for John Cena to do it later.
  • He questions WWE's concussion protocol, saying there's a culture of fear of losing their spot if they don't work injured.
  • Their injury protocol: not much better, with Punk accusing WWE's medical personnel of not doing anything about the large growth on his back.
  • WWE was "just a pit stop" for Punk and he will not be defined by what he did there and anyone calling him a quitter could go to hell.
  • Punk was fired on his wedding day. Via FedEx.
  • He tried to politick his way into the main event of Wrestlemania before landing with the Undertaker.
  • Speaking of which, he went into that match with a huge chip on his shoulder, wanting to steal the show that night.
  • He has come to grips that his main goal of main eventing a Wrestlemania would never be realized.
  • The Ryback feud took years off his life because of his carelessness in the ring.
  • He talked about a meeting with Vince McMahon and Triple H on the day of his walkout: scheduled to give a urine sample, he went in a meeting with the two saying he'd lost his love for the business, he was concussed, he was hurt, he was injured, and all they were worried about is getting the urine in a cup. The meeting ended with Vince and Punk hugging while McMahon cried, and Punk shaking Triple H's hand.
  • His wife (girlfriend at the time) AJ convinced Punk to go to a doctor in Tampa to get the mass checked out. Turned out it was a staph infection, and a potentially fatal one. He was given three months of antibiotics.
  • Punk was suspended for two months following Wrestlemania, but Vince did an end around saying during an investor call that Punk was on sabbatical. It was then Punk realized he hadn't received a royalty check in a while.
  • After contacting his attorney, he sued WWE for back royalties and settled for an undisclosed amount (Punk only said he got everything he wanted and thensome).
  • He has no interest in returning not just to WWE, but to professional wrestling anywhere.

Needless to say, the fallout from the interview, ironically sponsored by WWE 2K15 at the time of its original broadcast (which spans into a second episode released the next week) is immediate. WWE sues Punk and Cabana, and they countersue. The suit is still in litigation to this day. Punk is basically persona non grata on WWE programming (hardly surprising, as it’s standard operating procedure with the company). Allegedly, all active WWE personnel is barred from going on the podcast.

Surprisingly, Vince McMahon responds to the accusations on the first podcast with an apology on the Stone Cold Podcast a few days later (an apology Punk did not accept on the second podcast).

And in perhaps the biggest of all surprises, less than a week after the second Art of Wrestling podcast, CM Punk signs an eight-fight deal with UFC.

Our own Geno Mrosko listened to and transcribed the podcast just hours after its release; the Cliffs Notes version is here. The full transcript of the podcast (very NSFW and uses the F-word more than three hundred times) is here (there’s a supercut of all of Punk’s F’s—no, seriously—here). And the full audio of the podcast from Colt Cabana’s Soundcloud is here.