41 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, Giant Baba wins the All Japan Pro Wrestling Open Championship tournament. Baba bested the 20-man field with 11 points, beating Abdullah the Butcher and Dory Funk, Jr. by a single point.
21 years ago today in Augusta, Georgia, Debrah Miceli returns to WCW television on WCW Monday Nitro (WWE Network link), fresh off from being fired by the WWF in an effort to cut their losses.
Last seen in WCW in 1993, Miceli, aka Madusa, brought a gift: the WWF Womens Championship belt. With the encouragement of Eric Bischoff (and by that, I mean on his orders), she drops the belt in a trash can, effectively killing the championship. In a 2010 interview with WWE.com (which you can read here), Debrah expressed regret over the incident, essentially saying she was just doing her job:
"The longest running question to this day is why in the hell did you throw the title in the trash can? Well, I was under contract and [former WCW President] Eric Bischoff told me to do it. It was either that or I was out the door. If I was a guy I would've been on the cover of every magazine. Because I was a woman, I was called a disgrace to the business. That's the truth."
In essence, that’s exactly what happened. The incident was all but forgotten about on WCW programming a week later; of course WWF made no mention it (and why would they? Their belt just ended up in the garbage). The incident did have far-reaching consequences: legend has it the title dump played a role in the infamous Montreal Screwjob nearly two years later.
As it turned out, the belt didn’t stay in the garbage forever; in January 2012, Madusa tweeted a photo of her wearing the old WWF women’s title belt.
As for Madusa, after sporadically appearing on WCW programming through June 1997, Madusa took a two-year hiatus before returning as a member of Team Madness. She was a regular on WCW programming and became a trainer at WCW’s Power Plant training facility until just before WCW’s sale in 2001. When she got wind that Vince McMahon was going to buy the company, she left and became a monster truck driver full-time. Miceli as Madusa still drives her own truck to this day.
In 2015, Miceli as Alundra Blayze was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Though things appear to be good between Miceli and WWE now, don’t look for her to make any wrestling appearances any time soon. As she explains it in an August 2016 interview on the Bischoff on Wrestling podcast, the title dump more or less scarred her for life:
“Do you know what I went through, Eric? I went through crap. That was the defining moment for everybody for twenty years. I had to live with that. It ruined me. Basically. I never did an interview for wrestling or went to a wrestling signing. This is the second or third podcast that I’ve ever done since I retired. I’ve only done two signings since I retired. That’s it. That’s it. I’m doing my third one in my who retirement since 2001 in November. Besides AXXESS and WrestleMania.
I remember calling Vince’s office because Monster Jam was going to put together about Madusa and her Monster Truck. So I called up there, I’ll never forget this, I’ve never shared this with anybody. I’ll never forget calling up there and saying, ‘Hi,’ and I’m speaking with Vince’s secretary at the time. I said, ‘This is Deborah. Do you think Vince would mind if I could get some copies of a video for us to use at Monster Jam.’ Boy, she laid in to me like you wouldn’t believe. I hung up that phone in tears. I thought, ‘Is that what everyone thinks?’ I didn’t know anyone thought about me that way. That was my first rude awakening. ‘How dare you! Vince is so taken back and so hurt by what YOU did!’ I’m like, ‘(crying) But I was told I was under contract and ahhhhhhh…’ You know? I was like, ‘What the frick just happened?’
Never did I ever feel like you owed me something by what you did. Because I knew that you didn’t know exactly what the outcome was going to be. You didn’t know what the outcome was going to be. I knew that you knew that it was going to have an impact but I truly want to believe, in my own mind whether it’s true or not, that you had my back all along and stuck up for me and that’s what I’m going to believe until my grave.”
21 years ago today at a RAW taping from Newark, Delaware (WWE Network link), Diesel defeated King Mabel in just eight seconds.
The match, airing on New Year’s Day 1996, would be Mabel's final RAW appearance. It was a precipitous fall for the 1995 King of the Ring. Just two months after hitting his career high, he was nearly fired for injuring then-WWF Champion Diesel when he did a sitdown splash onto his lower back during their bout at Summerslam.
Just five days after the RAW match airs, Undertaker defeated Mabel in a casket match on WWF Superstars. He would be gone from the WWF later in the month after he was the third man eliminated in the 1996 Royal Rumble match.
16 years ago today on RAW is WAR from Greenville, South Carolina (WWE Network link), The Rock and The Undertaker defeated Edge and Christian to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.
12 years ago today, WWE taped Christmas in Baghdad (WWE Network link) from Camp Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq.
- Booker T defeated Rene Dupree.
- The Undertaker defeated Heidenreich via countout.
- Hardcore Holly defeated Kenzo Suzuki.
- Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio defeated Kurt Angle & Luther Reigns.
11 years ago today, WWE presented Armageddon (WWE Network link) from the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. About 8,000 were in attendance with 320,000 homes watching on PPV. That’s up from 230,000 homes for the 2004 edition.
- In a Sunday Night Heat preshow match, Jamie Noble defeated Funaki.
- John "Bradshaw" Layfield defeated Matt Hardy.
- MNM (Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro) defeated The Mexicools (Super Crazy and Psicosis).
- Chris Benoit defeated Booker T to win the fourth match in the best-of-seven series for the vacant WWE United States Championship. Benoit still trailed the series 3-1.
- Bobby Lashley defeated William Regal & Paul Burchill in a 1-on-2 handicap match.
- Kid Kash defeated Juventud to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
- Kane & The Big Show defeated Rey Mysterio & Batista.
- The Undertaker defeated Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell match.
10 years ago today, Oleg Prudius makes his WWE debut as Vladimir Kozlov. He proclaimed his love for "double double E" and proclaimed his superiority in in-crowd promos over the next few weeks.
Prudius would eventually be taken off television completely for further development, not wrestling a main roster match on television until April 2008.
Prudius would be the center of controversy when Jerry Jarrett scouted him back in 2005. Without seeing him wrestle, WWE signed him in January 2006. The fallout would create a rift between Jerry Jarrett and his son Jeff. The two would not speak to one another again until 2015.
As for Oleg, the former United States sambo champion flamed out on the main roster, winning just one championship: the tag titles with Santino Marella in 2010. Prudius was released in 2011.
6 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Final Battle from the Manhattan Center in New York City.
- The All Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus) defeated Futureshock (Kyle O'Reilly & Adam Cole).
- Colt Cabana defeated TJ Perkins.
- Sara Del Rey & Serena Deeb defeated Daizee Haze & Amazing Kong.
- Eddie Edwards defeated Sonjay Dutt.
- Homicide defeated Christopher Daniels.
- The Briscoe Brothers (Jay & Mark Briscoe) and Mike "Papa" Briscoe defeated The Kings Of Wrestling (Claudio Castignoli & Chris Hero) & Shane Hagadorn.
- Roderick Strong defeated Davey Richards to win the ROH World Championship.
- El Generico defeated Kevin Steen in a Fight Without Honor. With the win, Steen was banished from Ring of Honor; had El Generico lost, he would have been forced to unmask.
It's a happy 39th birthday for William Welch, best known to wrestling fans as The Messiah.
Though he had made his professional debut in 1996, it wasn't until Welch began wrestling as self-proclaimed holy man The Messiah for southern California-based Xtreme Pro Wrestling that his career took off. Defeating ECW alumni including Chris Candido, New Jack, and Sabu, he became one of XPW's mainstays, becoming the only man to hold XPW's heavyweight and King of the Deathmatch championships at the same time in parts of 2000 and 2001.
After leaving XPW, he turned to Philadelphia-based Combat Zone Wrestling in early 2002. Late in the year, he would win the Ironman Championship (one of their midcard championships at the time) from Nick Mondo, but lose it back to Mondo in February 2003. He would briefly hold the CZW World Heavyweight Championship in May 2002, but he would win it again that December, and again in March 2004. When he left CZW in 2006, his second and third world title reigns would be the longest in company history at 315 and 336 days respectively (the mark has since been surpassed by Drake Younger world title run in July 2008 at 567 days).
In August 2002, Welch was attacked by two men in his home and had his thumb cut off. The assault received mainstream coverage, as it was profiled on the crime series America's Most Wanted just over a month later. The attack was alleged to have been in response to Welch having an affair with his Rob Black's (his former boss at XPW) wife Lizzy Borden. The alleged assailants were never caught. Welch himself would be back in a ring at the end of August.
Following his exit from CZW, he'd largely been away from the wrestling business, wrestling sporadically, most recently for Jersey All-Pro Wrestling in 2011.
It's a happy 46th birthday for Robert Alex Szatkowski, best known to wrestling fans as Rob Van Dam.
Best known for his time in the original ECW, where he held their World Television Championship for an astounding 700 days, Rob's won championships everywhere he's been. He's amassed 21 championships in his career, including being the only man to hold world championships in WWE, ECW (the rebooted ECW), and TNA. He's also a five-time tag team champion, six-time Intercontinental Champion, the last WWE Hardcore and European Champions, and a former TNA X Champion.
In 2001, Van Dam was ranked the top pro wrestler in the world by Pro Wrestling Illustrated, and won the publication's most popular wrestler in 2001 and 2002. He is also an innovator in weightlifting, inventing the Van Dam lift, where one lifts a dumbbell from the floor to the waist while performing a split between two benches. Not surprisingly, Van Dam holds the record, currently at 166.5 pounds.