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This Day in Wrestling History (Nov. 28): Dusty Finish

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this day in wrestling history

31 years ago today, NWA in association with Jim Crockett Promotions presented Starrcade '85: The Gathering(WWE Network link) from the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina and the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia.

The multi-venue idea would be used by both WWF and NWA for their big events, with the NWA using the same two buildings for Starrcade '86, while the WWF used three arenas (Nassau Coliseum, Rosemont Horizon, and the LA Sports Arena) for Wrestlemania 2. The arenas would alternate matches; when their arena wasn't having a match, the match in progress from the other building would be broadcast via closed-circuit television.

Greensboro Coliseum:

  • Krusher Khruschev defeated Sam Houston to win the vacant NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship.
  • Ron Bass defeated Black Bart in a Texas Bullrope match.
  • James J. Dillon defeated Ron Bass in a Texas Bullrope match.
  • Buddy Landel Terry Taylor to win the NWA National Championship.
  • Magnum T.A. defeated Tully Blanchard in a "I Quit" steel cage match to win the NWA United States Championship.
  • The Rock 'n Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) defeated Ivan and Nikita Koloff in a Steel cage match to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.

The Omni:

  • Manny Fernandez defeated Abdullah the Butcher in a Mexican Deathmatch.
  • Billy Graham defeated The Barbarian by disqualification in an arm wrestling match
  • Billy Graham defeated The Barbarian by disqualification.
  • NWA National Tag Team Champions the Minnesota Wrecking Crew (Ole and Arn Anderson) defeated Wahoo McDaniel and Billy Jack Haynes.
  • Jimmy Valiant and Miss Atlanta Lively defeated The Midnight Express in an Atlanta Street Fight.
  • Dusty Rhodes defeated Ric Flair to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. The decision was later overturned by referee Tommy Young and changed to a disqualification win for Rhodes due to interference by Arn Anderson, allowing Flair to retain the NWA world title. So the real decision (which wasn't revealed until a week later)...
  • Dusty Rhodes defeated Ric Flair by disqualification in an NWA World Heavyweight Championship match. This perhaps is the most well-known and polarizing of "Dusty finishes" in wrestling history, a finish that teases one result (usually in favor of a babyface, usually for a title), only to have said result reversed on a technicality (i.e. outside interference or intentional over-the-top-rope throw).

6 years ago today, actor Leslie Nielsen dies of complications of pneumonia at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida hospital. He was 84.

Best known for his role as Lt. Frank Drebin in the television series Police Squad! and the Naked Gun film series (from which Police Squad was based), Nielsen made a few cameos for the WWF in the leadup to and at Summerslam 1994 as a man on the case to find the real Undertaker. Drebin was his most famous role, though he had appeared in more than 100 films and 150 television programs, portraying over 200 characters.

It’s a happy 33rd birthday of Danielle Moinet, best known to wrestling fans these days as Summer Rae.

Born in Manhasset, New York, Moinet attended East Carolina University and was a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. Moinet played four seasons for the Lingerie Football League (known today as the Legends Football League)'s Chicago Bliss as a cornerback and was the team's captain.

Just a few months after playing her final game for the LFL, Moinet joined WWE and was assigned to their developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling. Initially entering FCW under her real name, she was given the ring name Summer Rae by 2012. She served as a manager, ring announcer, and FCW's general manager. In one of her first acts, Summer deactivated the Queen of FCW crown.

Summer returned to ring announcing for the 2012 reboot of NXT before transitioning to an in-ring competitor in early 2013, attacking Paige because she was getting popular and successful. The two finally faced off in May, with Paige winning. Despite the setback, she would eventually find herself challenging Paige for the women's title by taking out the #1 contender Emma. Paige would ultimately retain.

In September 2012, Summer would align herself with Sasha Banks and form the Beautiful Fierce Females (BFFs). The two would feud with Paige and Emma, and would eventually add Charlotte to the group.

In April 2013, Moinet would join WWE's main roster (as Summer Rae, of course) as Fandango's dance partner and valet. After a brief feud with Chris Jericho and Dancing with the Stars competitor Edyta Silwinska, Summer's in-ring debut wouldn't come until six months later at Hell in a Cell where Fandango and Summer defeated The Great Khali and Natalya in a mixed tag team match. It wouldn't be until December 19 on Superstars that Summer got her first singles win, defeating Kaitlyn.

Summer would renew her NXT rivalry with Emma in the new year, with Emma defeating her in well... just about everything, including dance-offs on RAW, dance-offs on Smackdown, and defeating her twice on WWE programming. Shortly after Wrestlemania XXX, Fandango broke it off with Summer and introduced Layla as his new partner (the write-off was necessary as she was to film The Marine 4).

Summer returned about a month later attacking Layla, leading the two to feud. It ended a month later at Money in the Bank with Layla winning a bout between the two. Ironically, the two would soon form an alliance, dubbed "The Slayers" after Layla and Summer both attacked Fandango. The duo quietly disbanded earlier this year when Layla underwent surgery for an undisclosed ailment. As for Summer, she has since been aligned with Damien Sandow, Rusev, and Tyler Breeze.

Summer Rae’s last notable appearance on WWE programming came during the preshow for Wrestlemania 32 when she was on the losing side of a 10-woman tag team match. She has been sidelined recently recuperating from recurring injuries.

Summer in addition to appearing in The Marine 4 has had a recurring role on the WWE reality series Total Divas.

Yesterday would have been the 54th birthday of Davey Boy Smith, best known to wrestling fans as The British Bulldog.

Smith was one of the greatest to never hold a major world championship in pro wrestling history. First achieving stardom and success as one of half of the British Bulldogs with his cousin Tom "The Dynamite Kid" Billington (the duo won the WWF Tag Team Championship in 1986), Smith struck it big on his own as a singles competitor, winning the WWF Intercontinental Championship in front of over 80,000 of his countrymen at Summerslam 1992 from his brother-in-law Bret Hart.

In 1997, Smith won a tournament to become the first WWF European Champion, defeating another of his brothers-in-law, Owen Hart in the final. He lost that championship in his home country at One Night Only in September 1997 to Shawn Michaels. He also held WWF tag team championship gold with Owen.

He left WWF following the Montreal Screwjob and had minimal success in his second run in WCW in 1998 (he had somewhat moderate success there in his first run in 1993) before being hospitalized with a spinal infection after landing awkwardly on a trap door during a match. Smith had one last run with the WWF in 1999, and though he challenged for the WWF Championship, he never won it, though he did win the hardcore and European titles. He was released from the WWF late in 2000, a few months after Davey and his wife Diana divorced.

Around that time, Bulldog was sent to rehab due to his addiction to prescription painkillers and morphine. Rumors of his relapse led to his release. On May 16, 2002, Smith died of a heart attack in his home in Inverene, British Columbia, Canada. He was 39. At the time of his death, Smith had been training for a comeback and even wrestled three matches that weekend with his son Harry. An autopsy revealed that anabolic steroids and other drugs, combined with the stress on his body, led to his death.

Today would have been the 67th birthday of Marshall Aaron Mayer, best known to wrestling fans as Lee Marshall.

Born in Los Angeles, Marshall was a longtime radio announcer, working in a number of radio stations around the country and in Canada, and he appeared in the West Coast Rap All-Stars video, "We're All in the Same Gang".

Marshall was for many years in the wrestling industry, hosting AWA on ESPN and calling many matches in the promotion's latter days, and was the ring announcer for the Los Angeles portion of Wrestlemania 2 (his only WWF appearance).

In the mid- and late-1990s, he was a part of World Championship Wrestling's broadcast team. He's most notable for his "Road Report" segments where he always got a dig in at Bobby Heenan at the end of his segment. His last major wrestling gig came at 2001 where he worked alongside Heenan for Women of Wrestling's only PPV, Unleashed.

Post-wrestling, he secured one of the most sought-after gigs in voice acting: he succeeded Thurl Ravenscroft as the voice of Tony the Tiger in 2005 (a role Marshall actually had part-time since 1999).

On April 26, 2014, Marshall died of esophageal cancer in Santa Monica, California. He was 64. At the time of his death, he was survived by his wife Judie, his son Jason Marshall VanBorssum, stepdaughter Eve Borders Ottis, and granddaughter Kate.

Today would have been the 78th birthday of famed football player and wrestler Ernest Ladd, aka "The Big Cat" Ernie Ladd.

Born in Rayville, Louisiana and raised in Orange, Texas, he was a two-sport athlete in high school, excelling in football and basketball. He was coached by William Ray Smith, Sr., father of another Pro Football Hall of Famer, Bubba Smith. Ladd attended Grambling University on a basketball scholarship.

Ladd was drafted in the fourth round of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears (48th overall), but he went with the American Football League's San Diego Chargers, who picked him in the 15th round (119th overall). Ladd was a part of four AFL championship games, all with the Chargers, and was a part of the AFL championship winning team in 1963. He was a four-time AFL All-Star, from 1962-65. He was a part of a group of players that organized a boycott of the 1965 AFL All-Star Game due to racism experienced in New Orleans (the game was moved to Houston).

Contention between Ladd and the front office led him to be suspended by the Chargers at the beginning of the 1965 season, and by the end of the season declared a free agent. After refusing to re-sign with the Chargers, Ernie played for the Houston Oilers in 1966 and the Kansas City Chiefs in 1967. At 6'9" and 315 pounds, Ladd was said to be one of, if not the, strongest men in football in his time. So of course pro wrestling came calling.

Initially wrestling as a publicity stunt in the San Diego area in 1961, Ladd began to wrestle full-time during the AFL's offseason. When a knee injury ended his football career, Ladd turned to wrestling full-time in 1969. Though initially a fan favorite, Ladd become one of the most hated men in wrestling during the 1970s, in part to his arrogant, colorful, and politically incorrect interviews, and by repeatedly taking a countout loss when he was in danger of being pinned. Ladd also gained infamy when he used his taped thumb during matches (like Umaga a few decades later). His controversial antics made him the first notable nationally recognized African-American heel in wrestling.

Ladd feuded with other giants of the time including Andre the Giant, whom he once called "The Big Fat French Fry". He also had championship matches with Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, and Bob Backlund. After leaving the WWWF, he wrestled for Bill Watts' in the Mid-South territory. He feuded with the likes of Paul Orndorff, Ray Candy, and Junkyard Dog. He briefly managed the Wild Samoans and had a tag team run with Bad Leroy Brown. He also assisted in booking the territory and was credited in part for the development of Sylvester Ritter (aka The Junkyard Dog).

In 1986, Ladd retired from wrestling as a competitor due to recurring knee problems. He called a couple of events for the WWF later that year, including the 20-man battle royal at Wrestlemania 2, and The Big Event at CNE Stadium in Toronto before quietly leaving the company. In 1995, Ladd was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame. One year earlier, he was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame (one of just 17 men inducted there), and in 1996, he was part of the inaugural Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame class.

Post-retirement, Ladd, a longtime friend of former President George W. Bush and Jim Ross, owned and operated Big Cat Ernie Ladd's Throwdown BBQ Restaurant in New Orleans. The restaurant was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

In late 2003, Ladd was diagnosed with colon cancer. Told he had at most six months to live, Ladd would survive for more than three years before succumbing to the illness on March 10, 2007 at age 68. At the time of his death, he was survived by his wife of 45 years, Roslyn, and four children.