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This Day in Wrestling History (Dec. 29): Mankind Wins the WWF Championship

this day in wrestling history

31 years ago today, the NWA and AWA co-presented Star Wars from the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

  • Ron Bass defeated JJ Dillon.
  • Little Tokyo defeated Cowboy Lang to retain the NWA World Midgets Championship.
  • Sherri Martel defeated Debbie Combs to retain the AWA World Womens Championship.
  • Carlos Colon defeated Konga the Barbarian.
  • Jake Roberts defeated Paul Ellering by disqualification.
  • The Rock ‘n Roll Express (Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton) defeated The Long Riders (Bill & Scott Irwin) to retain the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
  • Sgt. Slaughter defeated Chris Markoff and Boris Zhukov in a handicap match.
  • Magnum TA defeated Tully Blanchard to retain the NWA United States Championship.
  • Ric Flair defeated Dusty Rhodes by disqualification to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
  • The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) defeate Ivan Koloff and Krusher Khruschev.
  • Stan Hansen defeated Rick Martel by submission to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship.

25 years ago today, WCW presented Starrcade: Battlebowl '91: The Lethal Lottery (WWE Network link) from the Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia. About 9,000 were in attendance, with 155,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down slightly from 165,000 for Starrcade 1990.

The show's hook was the Lethal Lottery, where 40 wrestlers would be drawn at random to form teams of two for tag team bouts, with the winners advancing to the Battlebowl dual-ring battle royal main event.

  • Marcus Bagwell and Jimmy Garvin defeated Michael Hayes and Tracy Smothers.
  • Steve Austin and Rick Rude defeated Van Hammer and Big Josh.
  • Dustin Rhodes and Richard Morton defeated Larry Zbyszko and El Gigante.
  • Bill Kazmaier and Jushin Liger defeated Diamond Dallas Page and Mike Graham.
  • Lex Luger and Arn Anderson defeated Terrance Taylor and The Z-Man.
  • Ricky Steamboat and Todd Champion defeated Cactus Jack and Buddy Lee Parker.
  • Sting and Abdullah the Butcher defeated Brian Pillman and Bobby Eaton.
  • Big Van Vader and Mr. Hughes defeated Rick Steiner and The Nightstalker.
  • Scott Steiner and Firebreaker Chip defeated Arachnaman and Johnny B. Badd.
  • Ron Simmons and Thomas Rich defeated Steve Armstrong and PN News.
  • Sting last eliminated Lex Luger to win the BattleBowl battle royal.

21 years ago, ECW presented Holiday Hell, from the Lost Battalion Hall in Queens, New York.

It was the first ECW show ever to emanate from the New York City area. The show was the final major appearance (save for a couple of one-off appearances in 1999) for The Public Enemy, who would leave for WCW a couple weeks later.

  • Taz defeats Koji Nakagawa.
  • JT Smith defeated Hack Myers.
  • Mikey Whipwreck defeated Too Cold Scorpio to win the ECW World Tag Team Championship & ECW World Television Championship. Following the bout, Whipwreck chose Cactus Jack as his tag team partner.
  • The Eliminators (John Kronus & Perry Saturn) defeated The Pitbulls (Pitbull #1 & Pitbull #2).
  • Tommy Dreamer defeated The Blue Meanie in just 12 seconds.
  • Tommy Dreamer defeated Stevie Richards in just 12 seconds.
  • Raven defeated Tommy Dreamer to earn an ECW World Heavyweight Championship match later in the show.
  • Bruiser Mastino defeated El Puerto Ricano.
  • Buh Buh Ray Dudley defeated The Blue Meanie in just 70 seconds.
  • The Sandman defeated Raven to retain the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.
  • The Gangstas (Mustafa & New Jack) defeated The Public Enemy (Johnny Grunge & Rocco Rock).
  • Sabu defeated Cactus Jack.

20 years ago today, WCW presented Starrcade (WWE Network link) from the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. 9,030 were in attendance, with 345,000 homes watching on PPV.

  • Ultimo Dragon defeated Dean Malenko to unify the WCW Cruiserweight and J-Crown Championships.
  • Akira Hokuto defeated Madusa to win the WCW Womens Championship. She would be the only woman to hold the title, as Akira returned to Japan the next year following The Great American Bash where she defeated Madusa again.
  • Jushin Thunder Liger defeated Rey Mysterio, Jr.
  • Jeff Jarrett defeated Chris Benoit in a no disqualification match.
  • The Outsiders (Scott Hall and Kevin Nash) defeated The Faces of Fear (Meng and The Barbarian) to retain the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
  • Eddie Guerrero defeated Diamond Dallas Page to win the vacant WCW United States Heavyweight Championship.
  • Lex Luger defeated The Giant.
  • Roddy Piper defeated Hollywood Hogan via TKO. Of note, WCW never explicitly stated that Hogan’s WCW World Heavyweight Championship was not on the line until after the match had ended, leading many to believe for a brief moment that Piper had indeed won the WCW world title.

19 years ago today on Nitro from Baltimore, Maryland (WWE Network link), Ultimo Dragon defeated Eddie Guerrero to win the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.

On the same show, Booker T defeated Disco Inferno to win the WCW World Television Championship.

In the show's main event, Sting and Hollywood Hogan went to a no contest for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The events of those two nights would ultimately cause the title to be vacated on the debut episode of Thunder a little over a week later.

18 years ago today at a RAW is WAR taping from Worcester, Massachusetts (WWE Network link), Mankind defeated The Rock to win the WWF Championship.

The match gains infamy when it airs six days later opposite a Monday Nitro event that advertised the rematch from Starrcade ‘98 with Kevin Nash defending the WCW World Heavyweight Championship against former champion Goldberg.

During the show’s third hour, Tony Schiavone on Eric Bischoff’s instructions spoiled the outcome of the WWF title bout, infamously saying that Mankind (who once wrestled for WCW as Cactus Jack) winning the WWF Championship would “put some butts in the seats”. Though the match did not air for another half hour, as many as 600,000 people switched from the live Nitro to the taped RAW to see the title change for themselves.

The legend of the match grew in a roundabout way when WCW fails to deliver its advertised main event, instead putting on a farcical world title bout between Kevin Nash and the returning Hollywood Hulk Hogan. The bout, made infamous for the Fingerpoke of Doom, is regarded as a tipping point in the WWF-WCW Monday Night War.

One more thing: this is the second time in six months that the WWF’s top prize changed hands on RAW. The WWF Championship changed hands twice total (once on a vacancy) in the show’s history (dating back to 1993) before then—both in 1997.

7 years ago today on ECW on Sci-Fi from East Rutherford, New Jersey, Zack Ryder defeated Tommy Dreamer.

The bout was Dreamer’s last with the company. The last connection to the original ECW had asked for and was granted his release a week prior. His release was made official on January 4.

Dreamer, who had multiple stints in TNA and founded his own promotion, House of Hardcore, briefly returned to WWE in November 2015 during the ECW Originals versus the Wyatt Family feud.

7 years ago today, "Dr. Death" Steve Williams dies of throat cancer at St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, Colorado. He was 49.

Born May 14, 1960 in Lakewood, Colorado, he was a three-sport athlete in high school at Lakewood High, wrestling, playing football, and was a part of the track team all four years. Williams went to and graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1981, where he also wrestled. He made it to the finals of an NCAA tournament, losing to Bruce Baumgartner, who would go on to medal in four Summer Olympics (including gold in 1984 and 1992) in freestyle wrestling. Williams knew he was heading for the professional ranks; in fact, he had a nickname ready to go: "Dr. Death", so named for his junior high school wrestling days when he wrestled in a hockey goalie's mask.

After training under Bill Watts and Buddy Landel, Williams began wrestling for Watts' Mid-South Wrestling in 1982. Three years later, he was in his first major feud, teaming with Ted Dibiase against Eddie Gilbert and The Nightmare. Williams would capture the renamed Universal Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Championship from Big Bubba Rogers in 1986. The company would be bought out by Jim Crockett the next year, and Williams was one of the few people that benefitted from the sale.

After initially feuding with Kevin Sullivan's Varsity Club, Williams would join the group in late 1988. He and Sullivan would win the NWA United States Tag Team Championship, and a few months later, he and fellow Varsity Club member Mike Rotunda won the NWA World Tag Team Championship from the Road Warriors. The duo would be stripped of the titles in May 1989, and the Varsity Club disbanded. He would team with Terry Gordy to form the Miracle Violence Connection and the duo would win the WCW and NWA world tag championships (from the Steiners and Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham, respectively) in a one-week span. They held them until September 1992 when they lost the unified championships back to Rhodes and Windham. The highlight of Williams' WCW run came in December 1992 when he wrestled in place of Rick Rude against Ron Simmons for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Williams lost by disqualification, and would leave WCW shortly thereafter.

Steve would become one of the most successful gaijins (foreign wrestlers) in Japanese wrestling history during his run in All Japan Pro Wrestling, winning their Triple Crown Heavyweight title, eight tag team championships with four different partners (five of the eight with Terry Gordy), and win the World's Strongest Tag Determination League in 1990, 1991, and 2000. Williams also won their annual Korakuen Hall heavyweight battle royal in 1995 and 2000. Williams also was a part of three five-star bouts as rated by Wrestling Observer Newsletter, including the 1996 Match of the Year (Williams & Johnny Ace vs. Mitsuhara Misawa & Jun Akiyama on June 7). He also went a full decade without being cleanly pinned. That run came to an end in February 1997 during his brief run in ECW at Crossing the Line Again. He defeated Axl Rotten in about two minutes, but would lose an impromptu ECW world title match moments later to champion Raven.

In 1998, Williams landed in the WWF and participated in their "Brawl For All" tournament, a legitimate fighting tournament. Expected to win the tournament and challenge Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWF Championship, Williams suffered a torn hamstring in the semifinal round and was knocked out by eventual tournament winner Bart Gunn. Williams would return in early 1999 after missing some time due to the injury seconded by Jim Ross where he would attack people with suplexes. Longtime manager Jim Cornette later said that Williams harbored ill feelings toward Ross following his disappointing WWF run. He had a brief run in WCW in late 1999 feuding with the Misfits and Vampiro. He wrestled sporadically over the next few years, including All Japan, WWE, and Major League Wrestling. He had his lone mixed martial arts bout in 2004 for K-1, losing in just 22 seconds to Alexey Ignashov.

In 2004, Williams underwent surgery for throat cancer. Told initially he had just six months to live, he was declared cancer-free by 2005. By 2006, he was back in the wrestling business, training and occasionally competing for Ohio Valley Wrestling. Following the death of longtime rival and friend Mitsuhara Misawa in June 2009, Williams decided to retire from wrestling. He wrestled his final match in October 2009, just two months before his death. His final appearance came at a wrestling convention in New Jersey less than three weeks prior to his passing. The throat cancer by then had returned, and Williams' health quickly declined; the illness would take his life.

Williams was posthumously inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 2011. At the time of his passing, he was survived by his son Wyndham, and two brothers, Jeff and Jerry.

4 years ago today at a RAW taping in Washington, DC (WWE Network link), Wade Barrett defeated Kofi Kingston to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.

2 years ago today on RAW from Washington, DC, The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) defeated The Miz & Damien Mizdow to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.

On the same show, Daniel Bryan, out with a neck injury since May, announces he will enter the 2015 Royal Rumble.

The best of cSs on this day:

2015: Joey Styles shoots on complaining WWE fans, or the 'Internet Wrestling Complainers' (Joey Styles responds on Twitter to common complaints raised among Internet wrestling fans)

2014: Cageside Seats Year-End Awards: Promo of the Year (VOTE) (Cagesiders pick the best promo of 2014)

2013: Did John Cena kill the Nexus? Edge provides new evidence on the latest episodes of Talk is Jericho (Edge and Chris Jericho discuss the Summerslam 2010 main event on Talk is Jericho)

2012: Cageside Seats Year-End Awards: 'Feud of the Year' (Cagesiders pick their favorite feud of 2012)

2011: WWE 2012 pay-per-view schedule is all set with 13 events (Capital Punishment out, Bragging Rights back in on the PPV schedule

2010: UFC Announces Chuck Liddell's Employment as VP of Business Development (The retired MMA fighter gets an office job with UFC—Lidell was among 10-15 employees let go earlier this month in a cost-cutting measure)

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