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This Day in Wrestling History (Dec. 30): Stone Cold Stuns Everybody

this day in wrestling history

19 years ago today at a RAW is WAR taping from New Haven, Connecticut (WWE Network link), Jeff Jarrett defeated Barry Windham to win the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship.

The episode, airing January 5, would be most remembered for Stone Cold Steve Austin's infamous "Stunner barrage", attacking anyone who was considered a threat to win the Royal Rumble match later in the month.

18 years ago today, longtime promoter Sam Muchnick died of internal bleeding in his home of St. Louis, Missouri. He was 93.

Born Jeshua Muchnick on August 22, 1905 in Ukraine, he and his family moved to St. Louis at age 6; after moving, his father changed his name to Sam as he thought Jeshua was inappropriate for a Jewish kid. After graduating high school, Muchnick worked for the US Postal Service for a couple years before joining the St. Louis Times in 1926. He covered the hometown Cardinals as well as professional wrestling, which is how he met Midwest promoter Tom Packs. After the Times and St. Louis Star merged, he would leave the paper to work as Packs' publicist.

The two were together for nearly a decade, but had a falling out after getting stiffed following a promotion of a Joe Louis title fight in 1941 (the bout drew a $14,000 profit, but Sam only saw $200 of it). Sam would enlist in the Air Force in 1942 after doing some shows, but when he returned from service, Packs still had the clout in the Midwest he had when Sam left.

Muchnick's first wrestling card was in December 1945 at the Kiel Auditorium that drew over 3,700 fans. In mid-1948, Muchnick, along with promoters Pinky George and Tony Stetcher, came up with the idea of a new wrestling union (never mind that at the time, one had already existed in the National Wrestling Association). Their idea: a collaboration of promoters who would share the bookings of the world champion and top wrestlers, while splitting the gate. The three promoters with two others and Orville Brown would then form the National Wrestling Alliance in Waterloo, Iowa, with Brown as its first champion. Their first big acquisition: "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. Their second big acquisition: the National Wrestling Association, as the two NWA's became one Lou Thesz's NWA was being outdrawn consistently by Muchnick's NWA. It wasn't all bad for Lou: he would unify the two NWA world titles in November 1949.

Muchnick would be elected NWA President in 1950, a position he would hold for 22 of the next 25 years (often elected unanimously). While in office, he formed the St. Louis Wrestling Club, produced Wrestling at the Chase for KPLR-TV (one of the longest running wrestling shows in television history, running from 1959 to 1983), and signed agreements with territories in Mexico, the Far East, Europe, and the Caribbean. He also scouted talents such as Terry Funk, Dory Funk, Jr., Ric Flair, and Harley Race, all of whom would eventually become NWA world champions.

Muchnick promoted cards until his retirement on January 1, 1982 (the above video is his retirement show); following his retirement, the NWA's power base eroded. Vince McMahon left the group and expanded the World Wrestling Federation to a national company. Mid-South Wrestling and World Class Championship Wrestling both withdrew from the NWA in their bids to go national; Mid-South, later the Universal Wrestling Federation, was bought out in 1987 by Jim Crockett Promotions (which would be bought by Ted Turner just a year and a half later and rebranded World Championship Wrestling; WCW officially broke away from the NWA in 1993).

Top international promotions Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL), All Japan Pro Wrestling, and New Japan Pro Wrestling all withdrew from the NWA by the end of the 1980s. WCCW merged with the Continental Wrestling Association and the American Wrestling Association, but AWA would fold in 1991, while the other two would merge to form the United States Wrestling Association; they folded in 1997.

Perhaps the fatal blow for the NWA as a viable national promotion came at the hands of Eastern Championship Wrestling when in August 1994, they shockingly and publicly seceded from the group.

On December 30, 1998, Muchnick was involved in a car accident. He would die later that morning of internal bleeding. He was 93.

Muchnick was inducted to the first Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame class in 1996, and posthumously inducted into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003, the NWA Hall of Fame in 2005, and the St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007. Just a year before his death, Muchnick made one of his last major public appearances at the WWF Badd Blood: In Your House PPV.

16 years ago today in Gait, California, Christopher Daniels defeated Donovan Morgan to win All Pro Wrestling's King of the Indies tournament. Daniels and Morgan would become the first Ring of HOnor tag team champions two years later.

13 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Laredo, Texas (WWE Network link), Rey Mysterio defeated Tajiri to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

9 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Final Battle from the Manhattan Center in New York City.

  • The Vulture Squad (Ruckus & Jigsaw) defeated Matt Cross & Bobby Fish.
  • Larry Sweeney defeated Claudio Castagnoli.
  • Jack Evans defeated Necro Butcher in a No Disqualification match.
  • Naomichi Marufuji defeated Davey Richards.
  • The Hangmen 3 (Adam Pearce, Brent Albright, and BJ Whitmer) defeated Delirious, Kevin Steen, and El Generico in a "Tables are Legal" match.
  • Rocky Romero defeated Ernie Osiris.
  • Erick Stevens defeated Roderick Strong to win the FIP World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Bryan Danielson defeated Austin Aries, Chris Hero, and Takeshi Morishima in a Four-Way Fray to earn an ROH World Championship match at ROH 6th Anniversary.
  • The Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black) defeated the Briscoe Brothers (Jay & Mark Briscoe) to win the ROH World Tag Team Championship.

The best of cSs on this day:

2015: Wrestler of the Year 2015: Nikki Bella (A one GIF case for Nikki Bella being the best wrestler of 2015)

2014: The Authority returns: Reasons to be Excited and Afraid (Sean Rueter breaks down what the return of The Authority means)

2013: WWE Raw missing top stars tonight (Dec. 30, 2013) thanks to house show in Toronto (WWE schedules RAW and a house show on the same day, leaving mostly a skeleton crew for RAW)

2012: Cageside Seats Year-End Awards: 'Event of the Year' (Cagesiders pick the best event of 2012)

2011: Poll: Do television ratings and pay-per-view buyrates matters? (Cagesiders weigh in on whether TV ratings and PPV buyrates matter—53% say they matter somewhat)

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