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This Day in Wrestling History (Dec. 13): Rock Bottom

this day in wrestling history

45 years ago today, Antonio Inoki's apparent coup to take over the Japan Wrestling Association goes up in flames when he's fired from the company.

At the time, Inoki was the NWA United National Heavyweight Champion, so he was forced to vacate the title. Inoki would start his own promotion, New Japan Pro Wrestling, the next year.

Giant Baba, JWA's other big name, leaves the next year too to form his own company, All Japan Pro Wrestling. Without their two biggest names, the Japan Wrestling Association isn’t long for this world; they lose their affiliation with the National Wrestling Alliance to All Japan, and JWA shuts down in 1973.

29 years ago today in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Dynamite Kid suffers a severe back injury during a tag team match between The British Bulldogs and Don Muraco & Cowboy Bob Orton.

Kid was kneed in the back, then took several chair shots to the back. He would be rushed to the hospital to repair two torn lumbar discs. According to Kid, real name Tom Billington, while in the hospital, the WWF sent in Bret Hart to pick up his WWF Tag Team Championship belt. Billington refused.

Billington soon checked out of the hospital, but WWF chairman Vince McMahon insisted they drop the titles to the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. Billington agreed to drop the titles, but only to the Hart Foundation, which they would do in late January 1987.

The injury all but ended the British Bulldogs’ run as a top-tier tag team in the WWF. The duo split up in 1990. Billington would continue to wrestle regularly until 1991, and retired for good in 1996.

29 years ago today, AWA in association with World Class Wrestling Association (formerly known as World Class Championship Wrestling), Powerful Women of Wrestling, and Championship Wrestling Association presented Superclash III from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois.

The lone AWA PPV was a financial failure, with just 1,672 fans in attendance and only about 40,000 homes watching on PPV.

The financial disaster resulted in many of the participants on the show not seeing a dime of the revenue, basically killing AWA founder Verne Gagne's working relationships with the other promotions. WCWA and CWA merged soon after the event to form the United States Wrestling Association. AWA and PWOW (though they called it POWW-don't ask) would fold two years later.

  • Chavo Guerrero, Hector Guerrero, and Mando Guerrero defeat Cactus Jack & The Rock 'n Roll RPM's (Mike Davis & Tommy Lane).
  • Eric Embry defeated Jeff Jarrett to win the World Class World Light Heavyweight Championship.
  • Jimmy Valiant defeated Wayne Bloom in just 24 seconds.
  • Iceman King Parsons defeated Brickhouse Brown to retain the World Class Texas Heavyweight Championship.
  • Badd Company (Pat Tanaka & Paul Diamond) & Madusa Miceli defeat The Top Guns (Derrick Dukes & Ricky Rice) & Wendi Richter.
  • Greg Gagne defeated Ronnie Garvin by countout to win the AWA World Television Championship. (Side nugget: Garvin was the television champion coming in, but he had signed a deal with the WWF and he refused to job clean to Gagne on the way out, so the AWA made up a story about how the title was held up and the title could be won on a countout.)
  • Pali defeated Bambi, Brandi Mae,Laurie Lynn, Luna Vachon, Malibu, Nina, Peggy Lee Leather, and Pocahontas in a $10,000 Street Fight Lingerie Battle Royal. Participants could be eliminated by being thrown over the top rope or by being stripped to their bra and panties.
  • Sgt. Slaughter defeated Col. DeBeers in a Boot Camp match.
  • The Samoan Swat Team (Fatu & Samu) defeat Michael Hayes & Steve Cox to retain the World Class World Tag Team Championship.
  • Wahoo McDaniel defeated Manny Fernandez in an Indian Strap match.
  • Jerry Lawler defeated Kerry Von Erich via referee stoppage (excessive blood loss by Von Erich) to unify the AWA and WCWA World Heavyweight Championships. Side nugget: the match probably shouldn't have happened. The WWF allegedly went to the Illinois State Athletic Commission and pointed out an old rule that stated amputees could not compete in championship bouts--Kerry lost his foot once, but it was not common knowledge. However, the Commission would not investigate the claim until the next day, so the WWF dropped it. In another interesting twist, Von Erich bladed himself in the bicep before the match began.
  • The Rock 'n' Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) versus The Stud Stable (Jimmy Golden & Robert Fuller) fought to a double countout.

27 years ago today, WCW presented Starrcade '89: Futureshock (WWE Network link) from The Omni in Atlanta, Georgia. About 6,000 were in attendance, with 135,000 homes watching on PPV.

The hook of the show was a pair of one-night round robin tournaments featuring the top four singles wrestlers and top four tag teams in WCW. 20 points were awarded for a pinfall or submission win, 15 for a countout, 10 for disqualification, 5 for a time-limit draw, and 0 for any loss.

  • The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) defeated Doom (Ron Simmons and Butch Reed) by countout.
  • Lex Luger defeated Sting.
  • The Road Warriors (Hawk and Animal) defeated Doom.
  • Ric Flair defeated The Great Muta in just under two minutes.
  • The Steiner Brothers defeated the Road Warriors.
  • Sting defeated The Great Muta.
  • The New Wild Samoans (Samoan Savage and Fatu) defeated Doom.
  • Lex Luger and Ric Flair fought to a time-limit draw.
  • The New Wild Samoans defeated The Steiner Brothers by disqualification.
  • Lex Luger defeated The Great Muta by disqualification.
  • The Road Warriors defeated The New Wild Samoans, winning the Iron Team tournament with 40 points. The Steiner Brothers were second with 35, followed by the New Wild Samoans with 30, and Doom getting shut out.
  • Sting defeated Ric Flair, winning the Iron Man tournament with 40 points, Lex Luger finished second with 35, followed by Ric Flair with 25, and Great Muta with 0.

27 years ago today in Huntsville, Alabama, The Colossal Connection (Andre the Giant & Haku) defeated Demolition (Ax & Smash) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. The championship would be Andre's last in his long career.

23 years ago today in Poughkeepsie, New York, Alundra Blayze defeated Heidi Lee Morgan in the finals of a tournament to win the vacated WWF Womens Championship.

The WWF Women’s Championship, laying dormant since February 1990, would be held by Blayze for 539 of the next 730 days (three title reigns in all; her first lasted 342 days) before famously junking the belt on Nitro less than a week after her release in December 1995.

21 years ago today, the WWF Women’s Championship is deactivated.

The title’s deactivation came when its champion Alundra Blayze—and the entire women’s division—was let go by the WWF due to cost-cutting measures. The decision comes just two days after Aja Kong legitimately broke the nose of Chapparita Asari during a match on Monday Night RAW.

Just five days later, Alundra—real name Debrah Miceli—returned to WCW where she reprised her role as Madusa. In her first act (on orders of Eric Bischoff), she dumped the WWF Women’s Championship belt in a garbage bin.

The WWF women’s division was dormant until the the fall of 1998, and remains active to this day.

18 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, Rob Van Dam and Sabu defeated The Dudley Boyz (Buh Buh Ray and D-Von) to win the ECW World Tag Team Championship.

18 years ago today, WWF presented In Your House 26: Rock Bottom (WWE Network link) from the General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia. 17,677 were in attendance, with 287,000 homes watching on PPV.

In matches airing on Sunday Night Heat:

  • Gillberg defeated Matt Hardy in just 62 seconds to retain the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship.
  • Kevin Quinn defeated Brian Christopher.
  • Triple H defeated Droz in just 97 seconds.
  • The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) defeated The Acolytes (Faarooq and Bradshaw) by disqualification.

In matches airing on PPV:

  • D-Lo Brown & Mark Henry defeated The Godfather & Val Venis.
  • The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher) defeated The Oddities (Golga & Kurrgan).
  • Steve Blackman defeated Owen Hart by countout.
  • The Brood (Christian, Edge & Gangrel) defeated The JOB Squad (Al Snow, Bob Holly & Scorpio).
  • Goldust defeated Jeff Jarrett by disqualification in a striptease match. As Jarrett lost, Debra (Jarrett's manager) had to do a striptease. It ended up being just that: a tease, as Blue Blazer ended it before Debra took off her bra.
  • The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & Road Dogg) defeated Ken Shamrock & The Big Bossman to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • Mankind defeated The Rock by knockout in a WWF Championship match. As The Rock was not pinned or made to submit, the championship did not change hands.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Undertaker in a Buried Alive match to qualify for the 1999 Royal Rumble match.

17 years ago today on Nitro from New Orleans, Lousiana (WWE Network link), The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) defeat Bret Hart & Goldberg to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.

13 years ago today in Zurich, Switzerland, Sting defeated Lex Luger and Malice in a three-way match to win the World Wrestling All-Stars World Heavyweight Championship.

11 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Springfield, Massachusetts (WWE Network link), Batista & Rey Mysterio defeated MNM (Joey Mercury & Johnny Nitro) to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.

8 years ago today in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, John Morrison & The Miz defeated CM Punk & Kofi Kingston to win the World Tag Team Championship.

7 years ago today, WWE presented the first TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs (WWE Network link) PPV from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. 15,226 were in attendance, with 228,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 193,000 homes from the event that replaced it, Armageddon in 2008.

  • In a preshow dark match, R-Truth defeated CM Punk.
  • Christian defeated Shelton Benjamin in a ladder match to retain the ECW Championship.
  • Drew McIntyre defeated John Morrison to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Michelle McCool defeated Mickie James to retain the WWE Women's Championship.
  • Sheamus defeated John Cena in a tables match to win the WWE Championship.
  • The Undertaker defeated Batista in a chairs match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Randy Orton defeated Kofi Kingston.
  • D-Generation X (Shawn Michaels & Triple H) defeated Jeri-Show (Chris Jericho & The Big Show) in a tables, ladders, and chairs match to win the WWE Unified Tag Team Championship.

6 years ago today, WWE presented the 2010 Slammy Awards on a special edition of RAW from New Orleans, Louisiana (WWE Network link).

  • Shocker of the Year: The Nexus take out Mr. McMahon
  • "Despicable Me" Award (most disgusting moment): CM Punk sings "Happy Birthday" to Rey Mysterio's daughter
  • Guest Star Shining: Pee Wee Herman vs. The Miz
  • Holy $H!+ Move: John Cena's AA from the top of a car through the stage
  • "Oh Snap!" Meltdown: Edge destroys the RAW GM's computer
  • Knucklehead Moment: Lay-Cool gets beaten by Mae Young
  • Diva of the Year: Michelle McCool
  • Moment of the Year: Undertaker retires Shawn Michaels
  • Superstar of the Year: John Cena

1 year ago today, WWE presented Tables, Ladders, and Chairs (WWE Network link) from the TDGarden in Boston, Massachusetts.

  • In a preshow match, Sasha Banks defeated Becky Lynch by submission.
  • The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) defeated The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto & Sin Cara) and The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) in a three-team ladder match to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Rusev defeated Ryback by submission.
  • Alberto Del Rio defeated Jack Swagger in a chairs match to retain the WWE United States Championship.
  • The Wyatt Family (Braun Stowman, Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, and Luke Harper) defeated the ECW Originals (Tommy Dreamer, Rhyno, and the Dudley Boyz) 4-1 in an elimination tables match.
  • Dean Ambrose defeated Kevin Owens to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Charlotte defeated Paige to retain the WWE Divas Championship.
  • Sheamus defeated Roman Reigns in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Today would have been the 33rd birthday of Kristoffer Darren Travis, or simply Kris Travis.

Born in Sheffield, England, Travis began wrestling in Northern England. He wrestled primarily for Grand Pro Wrestling and Norton British Wrestling. In the late 2000s, Travis as a part of Project Ego with Martin Kirby would win tag team championships all over Europe, including 1PW, IPW: UK, Revolution Pro, and 3CW. In August 2012, Travis defeated Lionheart for the Preston City Wrestling Heavyweight Championship.

In October 2014, Travis announced he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and was forced to take a hiatus from wrestling. Many wrestlers gave words of encouragement as Travis did charity work to raise funds for cancer research. Travis made a notable appearance for Insane Championship Wrestling in April 2015, but in a non-wrestling role.

In June 2015, Travis announced he had beaten cancer and he would return to the ring. On August 7, 2015, Travis defeated Sha Samuels in his return bout. Two days later, Project Ego reunited to win the Southside Wrestling Entertainment tag team titles. Two weeks later, Travis had his highest-profile match, a loss to Drew Galloway for the ICW World Heavyweight Championship. On September 6, at PROGRESS Chapter 21: We Don’t Like to Use the Sit Down Gun, Travis defeated Marty Scrull.

On September 21, 2015, Travis announced the stomach cancer had returned and that he would retire from wrestling. The cancer would claim his life on March 31, 2016. He was 32. Just a month before his passing, Travis married his long-time girlfriend.

Tributes for Travis poured in from all over the wrestling world, and fans and pro wrestlers petitioned the WWE for him to be posthumously given the Warrior Award. Said longtime tag team partner Martin Kirby following his passing, "Sleep well my friend. You no longer need to suffer.”

In April 2016, Cody Rhodes and Tomasso Ciampa began Our Ladder, a fundraising campaign dedicated to raising money for Cavendish Cancer Care in Travis’ hometown of Sheffield, England.

Today would have been the 64th birthday of Sylvester Ritter, best known to wrestling fans as The Junkyard Dog.

Born in Wadesboro, North Carolina, Ritter played football for Fayetteville State University, twice earning All-American Status and is honored in their sports hall of fame. After graduating with a degree in political science, he began a wrestling career.

After working for Jerry Jarrett, Nick Gulas (as Leroy Rochester), and Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling (as Big Daddy Ritter, where he won their North American heavyweight title twice), he debuted for Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling in the early 1980s under his most famous gimmick, The Junkyard Dog. Wearing white boots and a dog collar with a chain attached (and pushing a cart full of junk early on), Ritter struggled, but eventually he would catch on with fans; over time, he became the top face in the company. Junkyard Dog is often regarded as one of the first African-Americans to be the top face of their promotion.

In one of his more infamous feuds, he was blinded by the Fabulous Freebirds when they blinded him with hair cream. At the height of the feud, Ritter's wife gave birth to their first child. In storyline, Ritter's blindness caused him to miss the birth of his daughter, giving the Freebirds so much heat, they needed police escorts in and out of the ring. The feud culminated with the Junkyard Dog and Michael Hayes facing off in a dog collar match.

JYD also feuded with his one-time tag team partner and friend Ted DiBiase; the feud ultimately ended with the latter turning heel and winning a loser leaves town match with help from a loaded glove. But the Dog wouldn't stay gone forever; he returned as the masked "Stagger Lee" and would defeat the competition, including DiBiase. Eventually Junkyard Dog rode out the loser leaves town clause as Stagger Lee, returned as himself, and won the North American Heavyweight Championship. Junkyard Dog was in a heated feud with Butch Reed before being eventually lured away by the World Wrestling Federation.

Ritter made his WWF debut in August 1984. His interaction with young fans made him an instant hit. JYD feuded notably with Harley Race, the Funk Brothers, Adrian Adonis, Greg Valentine, and "The Outlaw" Ron Bass. Though he never won a championship, he did win the Wrestling Classic tournament in 1985, knocking off Moondog Spot, former world champion the Iron Sheik, and future world champion Randy Savage. Ritter left the WWF in October 1998.

Two months later, he debuted for the NWA at Clash of the Champions IV, saving Ivan Koloff from an assault from The Russian Assassins. Success came quickly for Ritter; he won a $50,000 "bunkhouse battle royal" at Starrcade '88.

By the middle of 1990, Junkyard Dog was a main eventer, notably defeating Mean Mark Callous (who would go on to somewhat moderate success as The Undertaker) in just 39 seconds. He briefly feuded with Ric Flair over the world heavyweight championship. Though he'd defeated him in non-title bouts on the house show circuit, he could not take the title from him, winning via disqualification at Clash of the Champions XI. He feuded with television champion Arn Anderson late in the year, defeating him on the house show circuit three times in less than ten seconds in non-title bouts.

In February 1991, JYD would win his first championship, the short-lived WCW six-man tag team titles, winning them with Ricky Morton & Tommy Rich over Dr. Z, Dutch Mantell, and Buddy Landell. They would hold them for about four months before losing them to the Freebirds. He would leave WCW later that summer to improve his conditioning. He returned in February 1992 to save Ron Simmons from an attack by Abdullah the Butcher. He would spend most of the remainder of his time in WCW wrestling in tag team bouts, teaming with Simmons, Barry Windham, Big Josh, the Big Cat, and Jim Neidhart. He left WCW for good in July 1993 and largely retired.

On June 2, 1998, as Ritter returned from his daughter Latoya's high school graduation in Wadesboro, North Carolina, he fell asleep at the wheel and suffered what would be a fatal single-car accident in Forest, Mississippi. He was 45.

Ritter was active in the wrestling business until his death, training husband and wife Rodney and Carlene Begnard (aka Rodney Mack and Jazz) and appearing at ECW's Wrestlepalooza '98 just a month prior to his passing. His daughter Latoya and sister Christine Woodburn represented Sylvester when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. He was also posthumously inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012.

A day late but a happy 93rd birthday to Robert William Barker, or simply Bob Barker.

The one-time RAW guest host (he hosted the Labor Day 2009 edition of the show, one that got him a WWE Slammy Award for best guest host) and longtime animal rights activist had a long career in radio and television. He hosted The Bob Barker Show from 1950 to 1956 on a radio station in Burbank.

From there, he would host a few game shows. He hosted the television version of Truth of Consequences from 1956 to 1974, The Family Game, Simon Says, and That’s My Line, but he is most famously known as the longtime host of the daytime version of The Price is Right from its premiere 1972 to his retirement in 2007 (he also hosted three seasons of the nighttime version in the late 1970s). His thirty-fifth and final season made The Price is Right the longest-running game show in North America history (the series still runs today with Drew Carey as host).

Barker has made three appearances on the show since his retirement, once in 2009 to promote his book, Priceless Memories, once in 2013 to celebrate his 90th birthday, and on April Fool’s Day in 2015 when he took Drew’s place in the show’s opening moments.

Barker married his high school sweetheart Dorothy Jo Gideon in 1945; the couple remained married until her death from lung cancer in 1981.

The best of cSs on this day:

2015: Chad Gable and Jason Jordan are over as hell (United Kingdom NXT fans do a Jason Jordan and Chad Gable chant to the tune of popular 90’s techno hit “No Limits”… and it’s pretty awesome

2014: Dean Ambrose on WWE's 'hidden' plan for The Shield's breakup: Vince McMahon pulled the plug right before showtime (Ambrose on Talk is Jericho says the breakup of The Shield was an eleventh-hour plan told to its members on the night of the breakup)

2013: End of an Era: How WWE is making a mistake in the long-run (Contributing editor Chase Thomas argues the world title unification may not be what’s best for business)

2012: John Cena on WWE television being PG: I want to use my TV time to set a good example (John Cena on a recent conference call makes a case for WWE’s PG programming)

2011: Undertaker vs Triple H WrestleMania rematch planned for April 1 in Miami (Undertaker and Triple H set for a third head-to-head Wrestlemania bout at Wrestlemania XXVIII)

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