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This Day in Wrestling History (Nov. 4): THEY LIVE

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this day in wrestling history

34 years ago today in Norfolk, Virginia, Greg Valentine defeated Wahoo McDaniel to win the NWA United States Championship.

28 years ago today, They Live is released in theaters.

The movie, directed by John Carpenter, is Roddy Piper's first starring role in a featured film. Piper plays John Nada (Nada was never named until the closing credits), an unemployed drifter who discovers after putting on a pair of sunglasses, he is surrounded by aliens manipulating the world around them to their benefit through subliminal advertising. Keith David is also one of the main protagonists, playing construction worker Frank Armitage who befriends Nada.

The film, costing over a little over $3 million to make, is the top grossing movie that weekend with $4.8 million, but audiences quickly bottomed out and makes a total of just $13 million in its initial release.

Though it was a small success financially, the movie has gone on to become a cult classic among fans and critics alike. They Live has been referenced in video games Duke Nukem 3D and Saints Row IV, in an episode of South Park (the Timmy vs. Jimmy fight from the "Cripple Fight" episode includes a near shot-for-shot remake of the They Live fight), and on street art featuring Andre the Giant. The fight scene (the second video below) is among the most iconic in movie history. At just under six minutes, it's also one of the longest.

They Live's signature line: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubble gum."

The iconic fight scene.

The fight scene side by side with the South Park “Cripple Fight” fight scene.

The fight scene in video game form in Saints Row IV from 2013, released nearly 25 years to the day of the release of They Live.

You can stream the movie through Xfinity Streampix, but if you don’t have it, you can rent it for $2.99 or own a digital copy for under $10.

20 years ago today on RAW from Fort Wayne, Indiana (WWE Network link), Dwayne Johnson makes his WWF debut as third-generation wrestler Rocky Maivia.

He runs in following a Goldust versus Stalker match as members of both Survivor Series teams get involved in a post-match melee. Though the episode was taped two weeks earlier (consistent with WWF’s practices at the time), this was Johnson’s television debut.

The story of the show was what went down between the pre-taped matches, and will go down as one of the most controversial angles in wrestling history.

Brian Pillman, recovering from an ankle injury at the hands of Stone Cold Steve Austin (that happened just over a week prior on Superstars; the method in which Austin injured Pillman—wrapping a chair around a prone ankle—became known as Pillmanizing), was to be interviewed by Kevin Kelly at his home in Walton, Kentucky, about 20 miles southwest of Cincinnati. In the early moments of the interview, Brian, his wife Melanie, and Kelly were informed that Stone Cold Steve Austin was heading to Pillman’s home. Pillman, as it turned out, was ready for him just in case. In his words, “when Austin 3:16 meets Pillman 9mm Gun, I’m gonna blow his ass straight to hell!” Oh, and yes, Brian was indeed brandishing a legit 9mm gun.

Austin would get to the Pillman residence, but he was met with resistance from some of Brian’s friends in the neighborhood. Eventually, Austin fights his way through the line of defense and into the Pillman house. Austin breaks in using a tire iron to break the glass door panel. When Austin approaches, he’s met with Pillman holding the gun ready to shoot Austin where he stood, probably. The satellite feed cuts.

The feed is restored about five minutes later (after a commercial break), and Pillman is restrained by some of his friends, while Kelly reports in the mass confusion that Austin ran away when he saw the gun. No shots were fired, though the on-scene director mentioned there were “a couple explosions” around the time of the incident. Moments later, Austin returns to the house, but is pushed away before he could get to Pillman. Brian, still holding a gun, demands his friends to let him go, saying he’ll “kill that son-of-a-bitch”. And he let off another four-letter word in his anger. Unlike the rest of the show, the Austin-Pillman segments aired live, meaning those curse words got out on live television, with no way to edit it. Oh dear.

Both Pillman and the WWF were forced to issue on-air apologies for the incident later in the week under threat that they would be cancelled by USA Network.

Despite the show being crushed in the ratings by Nitro (3.4 to 2.3), the show, known in wrestling lore as “Pillman’s Got A Gun”, is often seen as a key moment in the introduction of mature-themed storylines into WWF programming.

Also of note: this was the first episode of RAW to have a 7:57pm start time.

14 years ago today on RAW from Buffalo, New York (WWE Network link), Dave Batista makes his RAW debut with an 85-second victory over Justin Credible.

1 year ago today in Dublin, Ireland, WWE Champion Seth Rollins is injured during a no-disqualification match against Kane.

The injury came late in the match when his right knee buckled during a sunset flip powerbomb. The injury was a pretty severe one: torn ACL, torn MCL, torn medical meniscus.

With a recovery time of six to nine months, Rollins vacates the WWE World Heavyweight Championship the next day, with a new champion to be crowned in a tournament final at Survivor Series.


The best of cSs on this day:

2015: Cameron learns a hard lesson: Do not slap Asuka (Cameron slaps Asuka, immediately gets ARMBARED. Also gets choked out less than two minutes later)

2014: First he was Malcolm X, now he's James Brown...is Xavier Woods WWE's black Damien Sandow? (Xavier Woods repackaged as a preacher in a vignette promising “A New Day is coming”)

2013: John Cena talking like he'll defend the world heavyweight championship at WrestleMania XXX (In an interview with The New Orleans Times-Picayne, John Cena expresses his desire to bring back some prestige to the Big Gold Belt)

2012: Is it game over for Linda McMahon, as fatigue sets in? (Days after Hurricane Sandy, President Barack Obama endorses Chris Murphy in the Connecticut Senate race, likely dooming McMahon’s chances of winning)

2011: That was awesome! (clap clap clapclapclap): Shawn Michaels lays out Shelton Benjamin with an amazing superkick (Member… member that time Shawn hit that one superkick on Shelton Benjamin and Shelton kinda died? It was awesome, right?)

2010: WWE Releases 3rd Quarter Results (Despite many of its divisions—and attendance and PPV buys—being down, WWE still makes money thanks to that Mattel deal; also that WWE cable network’s coming. Promise.)