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This Day in Wrestling History (Mar. 10): Do You Know Who I Am?

19 years ago today, WWF presented RAW is WAR (WWE Network link) from the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. This was the first edition of the rebranded show, coming two weeks after a TV taping in Germany, and one week after the show did a near-record low rating. The rebranding came with a brand new set, show-opening pyrotechnics, and a new intro, "The Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson (a theme that would resurface in 2001 for Smackdown). Though ratings bounced back to a respectable 2.3 (consistent with what WWF was doing at the time), Nitro still crushes them with a 3.5.

Also of note, it was the 200th episode of RAW (not counting the Thursday RAW Thursday special).

  • Rocky Maivia defeated Tony Roy in a non-title match.
  • Pierroth, Heavy Metal, and Pentagon defeated Latin Lover, Hector Garza, and Octagon.
  • Ahmed Johnson defeated Roy Raymond.
  • The New Blackjacks (Windham & Bradshaw) defeated Owen Hart & The British Bulldog via disqualification in a non-title match.
  • Miguel Perez defeated Leif Cassidy.
  • Billy Gunn defeated Aldo Montoya.
  • Goldust defeated Tim McNeedy.
  • Vader & Mankind defeated The Undertaker & Sycho Sid.
  • In a post-show dark match, The Undertaker defeated Faarooq by disqualification.
  • In a post-show dark match, Sycho Sid defeated Bret Hart in a steel cage match to retain the WWF Championship.

13 years ago today on RAW from Cleveland, Ohio, The Hurricane defeated The Rock in a no disqualification match. Of note, this is the last time The Rock lost a non-PPV match.

8 years ago today, famed football player and wrestler Ernest Ladd, aka "The Big Cat" Ernie Ladd, died of colon cancer in Franklin, Louisiana. He was 68.

Born November 28, 1938 in Rayville, Louisiana and raised in Orange, Texas, he was a two-sport athlete in high school, excelling in football and basketball. He was coached by William Ray Smith, Sr., father of another Pro Football Hall of Famer, Bubba Smith. Ladd attended Grambling University on a basketball scholarship.

Ladd was drafted in the fourth round of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears (48th overall), but he went with the American Football League's San Diego Chargers, who picked him in the 15th round (119th overall). Ladd was a part of four AFL championship games, all with the Chargers, and was a part of the AFL championship winning team in 1963. He was a four-time AFL All-Star, from 1962-65. He was a part of a group of players that organized a boycott of the 1965 AFL All-Star Game due to racism experienced in New Orleans (the game was moved to Houston).

Contention between Ladd and the front office led Ladd to be suspended by the Chargers at the beginning of the 1965 season, and by the end of the season declared a free agent. After refusing to re-sign with the Chargers, Ernie played for the Houston Oilers in 1966 and the Kansas City Chiefs in 1967.

At 6'9" and 315 pounds, Ladd was said to be one of, if not the, strongest men in football in his time. So of course pro wrestling came calling.

Initially wrestling as a publicity stunt in the San Diego area in 1961, Ladd began to wrestle full-time during the AFL's offseason. When a knee injury ended his football career, Ladd turned to wrestling full-time in 1969. Though initially a fan favorite, Ladd become one of the most hated men in wrestling during the 1970s, in part to his arrogant, colorful, and politically incorrect interviews, and by repeatedly taking a countout loss when he was in danger of being pinned. Ladd also gained infamy when he used his taped thumb during matches (like Umaga a few decades later). His controversial antics made him the first notable nationally recognized African-American heel in wrestling.

Ladd feuded with other giants of the time including Andre the Giant, whom he once called "The Big Fat French Fry". He also had championship matches with Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, and Bob Backlund. After leaving the WWWF, he wrestled for Bill Watts' in the Mid-South territory. He feuded with the likes of Paul Orndorff, Ray Candy, and Junkyard Dog. He briefly managed the Wild Samoans and had a tag team run with Bad Leroy Brown. He also assisted in booking the territory and was credited in part for the development of Sylvester Ritter (aka The Junkyard Dog).

In 1986, Ladd retired from wrestling as a competitor due to recurring knee problems. He called a couple of events for the WWF later that year, including the 20-man battle royal at Wrestlemania 2, and The Big Event at CNE Stadium in Toronto before quietly leaving the company. In 1995, Ladd was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame. One year earlier, he was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame (one of just 17 men inducted there), and in 1996, he was part of the inaugural Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame class.

Post-retirement, Ladd, a longtime friend of George W. Bush and Jim Ross, owned and operated Big Cat Ernie Ladd's Throwdown BBQ Restaurant in New Orleans. The restaurant was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

In late 2003, Ladd was diagnosed with colon cancer. Told he had at most six months to live, Ladd would survive for more than three years before succumbing to the illness at age 68. At the time of his death, he was survived by his wife of 45 years, Roslyn, and four children.

8 years ago today on RAW from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Chris Jericho defeated Jeff Hardy to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Turned out there was a reason for it: the next morning, Hardy was suspended for a second violation of the WWE's Wellness Policy.

5 years ago today, John Morrison and Melina, one day removed from her 32nd birthday, got themselves in hot water--or cold water for that matter--when they jumped into the pool at Hollywood nightclub Skybar. They drenched more than a few of the patrons there and got themselves "banned for life" from the club according to their Twitters. (pic via @TheRealMorrison on Twitter)

That hot water carried over a month later when Morrison more or less stiff-armed Trish Stratus at Wrestlemania XXVII, in part because he allegedly wanted Melina in Trish's spot in the match. Both Morrison and Melina would be gone from the company by the end of the year.

3 years ago today, TNA presented Lockdown from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Of note, this was the first TNA domestic event to have 10,000 fans in attendance.

  • Kenny King defeated Christian York and Zema Ion in a three way match to retain the TNA X Division Championship.
  • Joseph Park defeated Joey Ryan.
  • Velvet Sky defeated Gail Kim in a steel cage match to retain the TNA Knockout Championship.
  • Robbie T defeated Robbie E.
  • Austin Aries and Bobby Roode defeated Christopher Daniels and Kazarian & Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez in a three-way match to retain the TNA World Tag Team Championship.
  • Wes Brisco defeated Kurt Angle in a steel cage match.
  • Team TNA (Sting, Samoa Joe, Magnus, James Storm, and Eric Young) defeated Aces and Eights (Devon, Mr. Anderson, Mike Knox, DOC, and Garett Bischoff) in a Lethal Lockdown match.
  • Bully Ray defeated Jeff Hardy in a steel cage match to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Post-match, Bully Ray announced he was the President of the Aces & Eights.

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