27 years ago today in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Candi Devine defeated Judy Martin to win the AWA Women’s Championship for the fifth time.
Wendi Richter, the last champion, vacated the title when she left the company just after celebrating her one-year anniversary with the title. Devine would be the last woman to hold the title; she abandoned it just before the promotion shut down in January 1991.
18 years ago today, Chris Candido and Lance Storm defeat Doug Furnas & Phil Lafon and Axel Rotten & Balls Mahoney in a three-way dance to win the ECW World Tag Team Championship. The win comes just a day after the Can-Am Express (Furnas & Lafon) win the tag titles.
18 years ago today, WWF presented the UK-exclusive PPV Captial Carnage (WWE Network link) from the London Arena in London, England.
The show is noted for Ross suffering a Bell’s palsy attack while commentating the show, coming just hours after his mother died of a heart attack. Ross would not return until just before Wrestlemania XV; WWF for some reason tried making Ross a heel announcer, but after the crowd cheered him kicking Michael Cole in the groin, the plan was soon abandoned and Ross restored to his lead play-by-play spot without incident at Wrestlemania XV.
- Droz defeated Mosh.
- Gangrel defeated Al Snow.
- The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) defeated The Legion of Doom (Droz and Animal).
- Val Venis defeated Goldust.
- Tiger Ali Singh defeated Edge.
- Sable and Christian defeated Jacqueline and Marc Mero in a mixed tag team match.
- Ken Shamrock defeated Steve Blackman to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
- Triple H defeated Jeff Jarrett.
- The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) defeated D'Lo Brown and Mark Henry to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
- The Rock defeated X-Pac by disqualification to retain the WWF Championship.
- Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Kane, Mankind, and The Undertaker in a fatal four-way match. Gerald Brisco was the special referee.
17 years ago today on Nitro from Milwaukee, Wisconsin (WWE Network link), Jushin Thunder Liger defeated Psicosis (substituting for the injured Juventud Guerrera) to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
Three notes: (1) to date, this remains the last time the title changed on American soil.
(2) It was Liger’s eleventh IWGP junior heavyweight title reign, or as many as the combined total reigns of Tiger Mask and Koji Kanemoto (the second and third most IWGP junior heavyweight title reigns, with six and five respectively).
(3) For a few years, it didn’t count. New Japan Pro Wrestling was so embarrassed about the previous week’s title change (Guerrera hit Liger with a tequila bottle to win the title), not only did the company not report it, no Japanese sports media outlet reported it. In fact, it wasn’t until 2007 that New Japan Pro Wrestling finally recognized Guerrera’s seven-day title reign, and by proxy, Liger winning the title back.
14 years ago today, World Wrestling All-Stars presented The Retribution from the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center in Glasgow, Scotland. The event aired on PPV in the United States on February 9, 2003.
- Shark Boy defeated Frankie Kazarian.
- Konnan defeated Nate Webb in just three seconds.
- Buff Bagwell and Johnny Swinger defeated Norman Smiley and Malice.
- Teo defeated Puppet the Psycho Dwarf. Midajah was the special referee.
- Mike Sanders defeated Joe E. Legend.
- Jeff Jarrett defeated Nathan Jones to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
- Sabu defeated Simon Diamond and Perry Saturn in a three-way match.
- Lex Luger defeated Sting to win the vacated WWA World Heavyweight Championship. Scott Steiner, the former champion, vacated the title when he signed with WWE.
13 years ago today, Michael Jerome Tuite, best known to wrestling fans as The Wall or Sgt. AWOL, and more recently Malice, died of a heart attack in Tokyo, Japan. He was just 36.
Born December 27, 1966 in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, Tuite broke into the wrestling business training at Iron Mike Sharpe's wrestling school. Also a protégé of Bam Bam Bigelow, he furthered his training at the WCW Power Plant in Atlanta.
He debuted for WCW in the summer of 1999 as The Wall a bodyguard for Berlyn in 1999, but the gimmick was short-lived as Berlyn debuted around the time of the Columbine massacre. The Wall turned on Berlyn at Mayhem in a chain match. He disappeared for a few weeks, returning at Souled Out in January showing a sadistic streak for attacking the younger members of the roster and would feud with his mentor Bigelow. He also briefly feuded with Hulk Hogan before WCW had a hard reset in the spring, then entered a brief feud with Shane Douglas, who beat him in a tables match at The Great American Bash.
The Wall would be renamed Sgt. AWOL as part of the Misfits in Action, feuding with other stables in WCW at the time, including 3 Count, the Natural Born Thrillers, and Team Canada. With issues involving Hugh Morrus (General Rection) and Chavo Guerrero (Lt. Loco), the group broke up, with Rection and the renamed Wall feuding briefly. It would be his final feud with WCW, as the company was bought out in March 2001. Tuite signed a developmental deal with the WWF, but was given his release to deal with personal matters.
Tuite would wrestle for TNA in 2002 as Malice, and was the last man defeated by Ken Shamrock in a Gauntlet for the Gold match to crown a new NWA World Heavyweight Champion. He was a central figure in James Mitchell's Disciples of the New Church stable. After leaving TNA, he would appear for XPW, All Access Wrestling, and in 2003, for All Japan Pro Wrestling as Gigantes. Tuite was active right up until his death, as he'd wrestle in a six-man tag team match the night before.
On December 6, 2001, Tuite was found unconscious in his hotel room by All Japan Pro Wrestling management and several wrestlers in Tokyo, Japan. He was taken to a Tokyo hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival. The official cause of death was a heart attack, and although no drugs were found in his room, nor found in his system at the time of his death, his history of drug problems may have contributed to his death.
12 years ago today on RAW from Charlotte, North Carolina (WWE Network link), Lita defeated Trish Stratus to win the WWE Women’s Championship.
It was the last time a women’s match closed the show until October 4, 2016 when Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte for the new version of the WWE Women’s Championship.
8 years ago today, Dennis Rodman wins Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling. Rodman bested former child actor Todd Bridges in the final elimination.
7 years ago today, AAA presented Guerra de Titanes (War of the Titans) from Plaza de toros La Concordia in Orizaba, Mexico.
In one of the featured bouts, El Mesias defeated El Zorro in a ladder match to win the vacant AAA World Heavyweight Championship. Charly Manson was the special referee.
The title was vacated a little over a month earlier at Heroes Inmortales 2 (Immortal Heroes 2, also known as the 2008 Antonio Pena Memorial Show) when after Konnan won storyline ownership of AAA, its champion at the time Cibernetico legitimately quit the company.
7 years ago today in Tampa, Florida, Oleg Prudius, best known to wrestling fans as Vladimir Kozlov, officially becomes an American citizen. In an interview shortly after he was granted citizenship:
"Oh to be a U.S. citizen has been like a dream for long time. When I was raised and born in Russia, I had [a] dream to come to United States because U.S. [is a] land of big opportunity. If you work hard, you can reach whatever you want."
6 years ago today on RAW from Louisville, Kentucky (WWE Network link), Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov defeated The Usos (Jimmy & Jey), Mark Henry & Yoshi Tatsu, and the Nexus (Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel) in a four-team match to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.
2 years ago today, UFC announces that they have signed Phil Brooks, best known to wrestling fans as CM Punk, to a multi-fight deal.
The announcement comes just over a week after Punk appeared on the Art of Wrestling podcast detailing his final days in WWE. In his first interview after signing with UFC, Punk declared his wrestling days are behind him:
My professional wrestling days are over.
It's awesome to be here. This is something that has been in the back of my mind for a very, very long time. I have a background in Kenpo, I've done Brazilian jiu-jitsu off and on for a very long time.
But, the idea of being able to step inside the Octagon and find out what's inside myself, test myself, is an opportunity that I was not able to deny myself. I don't think I'd be able to live with myself if I didn't give this a shot. I felt like it was "now or never" three years ago, but I re-signed with WWE, and I tried to give it the old college try.
But, it's now or never for me. I have a limited window just like all fighters do and I'm ready for a fight. I'm here for a fight. I'm here to kick someone's ass or get my ass kicked.
This is my new career 100 percent. I'm going to go full steam ahead, all systems go, after today. It's going to be fun. I have nothing but respect for everyone here in the UFC - everybody who steps inside the Octagon to fight. And when it's all said and done, when I'm finished, everyone will have to respect me because I came here to fight.
Injuries and multiple setbacks delay Punk’s Octagon debut until UFC 202 in September 2016; he fails to land a strike or a takedown before being defeated by Mickey Gall in under three minutes.
Today would have been the 82nd birthday for Nicholas Warren Francis Bockwinkel, or simply Nick Bockwinkel.
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Bockwinkel took up wrestling after a knee injury ended his football aspirations when the University of Oklahoma withdrew his football scholarship. After being trained by Lou Thesz and Nick's father Warren, who was a star on the Midwestern wrestling circuit in the 1940s, he began his career in 1955 at just the age of 16. His first professional match was against Lou Thesz. Nick would team with his father for much of his early career and won his first major singles championship in 1963, the NWA Pacific Northwest heavyweight title. He'd also win championships in Hawaii and California.
Nick's first national exposure didn't come in a wrestling ring, but on a game show; he appeared on a 1968 episode of the primetime version of Hollywood Squares (he won his match). He also had bit roles on The Monkees and Hawaii Five-O.
In 1970, Bockwinkel joined the American Wrestling Association and teamed with Ray Stevens under the management of Bobby Heenan. The duo would win the AWA World Tag Team Championship three times from 1972 to 1975. Jealousy would break up the duo, and Bockwinkel would set out on a singles career.
On November 8, 1975, Nick, just a month before his 41st birthday, would end the seven-year reign of Verne Gagne as AWA world champion (the longest in AWA history) and go on a long reign himself, spanning more than four and a half years (the second longest in company history). During his run, he would feud with many of the top stars in the company including The Crusher, Dick the Bruiser, Verne Gagne, Greg Gagne, Mr. Saito, Otto Wanz, and Jerry Lawler. He was also a part of the first ever AWA-WWWF unification title match in March 1979 against Bob Backlund in Toronto; the match went to a double countout.
On July 19, 1980, Nick Bockwinkel would lose the title back to Verne Gagne in Chicago. Gagne would retire from wrestling while still champion, and in May 1981, much to the anger and dissatisfaction of AWA fans, Nick was awarded the title back. The title switch solidified Bockwinkel as the most hated man in the company. That worked hate would turn into a shoot hate in June 1982 when Hulk Hogan defeated Bockwinkel for the AWA world title. AWA president Stanley Blackburn reversed the decision and awarded the title back to Bockwinkel, who would then lose it to Otto Wanz just two months later. Hogan, seeing the writing on the wall, left for the WWF, and the rest is history. In February 1984, Jumbo Tsuruta defeated Bockwinkel for the AWA world title.
Bockwinkel would capture the AWA World Heavyweight Championship one last time in 1986 at the age of 52 when champion at the time Stan Hansen failed to appear for a title defense against Bockwinkel. He would not lose it until almost a year later at AWA SuperClash 2 when he was dethroned by Curt Hennig thanks to a roll of coins handed to him by Larry Zbyszko. Nick's four world runs totaled 2,990 days, longer than the combined reigns of Mad Dog Vachon, Larry Zbyszko, Rick Martel, Curt Hennig, Jerry Lawler, and Mr. M combined (and still more than 1,600 days behind Verne Gagne). Nick would get payback on Larry using another roll of coins in one of Bockwinkel's final matches. Bockwinkel would retire from active competition in 1987, but would wrestle a one-off for UWF International in Japan in May 1992 against another longtime rival in Billy Robinson.
Post-retirement, he would work as a road agent for the WWF and occasionally serve as color commentator. He wrestled another one-off match at Slamboree: A Legends Reunion in May 1993 against Dory Funk, Jr. Bockwinkel would serve as the on-screen commissioner of WCW in 1994. He also served as a commissioner of shoot-style promotion Japan Pro Wrestling Association in 2000, but demand for the shoot style had been low since the collapse of UWFI.
In March 2007, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and in 2010 made a cameo appearance on RAW as part of a legends lumberjack match. Bockwinkel is also a part of the inaugural class of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003. Nick served as President Emeritus of the Cauliflower Alley Club. He was the organization's president from 2007 to 2014, stepping down due to declining health in August 2014. Nick made his final public appearance at the 2015 Cauliflower Alley Club reunion.
Nick would die of undisclosed health issues on November 14, 2015. He was 80 years old. He is survived by his longtime second wife Darlene, two children from his first marriage, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
The best of cSs on this day:
2015: Bubba Ray Dudley teases “Extreme brother” coming to RAW tomorrow (Bubba Ray Dudley on Twitter says he just got off the phone with an “extreme brother”, possibly teasing another ECW alum coming—spoiler, it was Rhyno)
2014: CM Punk signs multi-fight contract with UFC, debut expected in 2015 (At UFC 181, promotion announces they have signed former WWE champion CM Punk to a multi-fight deal)
2013: WWE announces 'Match of the Year' Slammy Awards nominees (Undertaker-Punk, Cena-Rock, Rhodes Brothers-Shield, and Triple H-Lesnar nominated for the Match of the Year Slammy)
2012: USA happy with returns on WWE moving 'Monday Night Raw' to three hours (RAW’s third-hour ratings decline offset by 35% increase in ratings in first hour versus NCIS says WWE CFO George Barrios)
2011: 'This is not my beautiful house!': A stagnant CM Punk shouldn't cast stones (Sergio Hernandez criticizes CM Punk for becoming the very thing he railed against)
2010: Jeff Hardy almost pulled from TNA's Final Resolution PPV due to showing up in no condition to perform (Multiple reports claim Jeff Hardy’s physical state on the day of Final Resolution nearly led to him being pulled from the show and stripped of TNA world title)