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This Day in Wrestling History (Mar. 16): Sting Picks A Side

22 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, Hiroshi Hase defeated Rick Rude to win the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship. He holds the title for just eight days before Rude regains it from Hase.

WCW Sting Returns 1997 by ewartmillard

19 years ago today, WCW presented Uncensored (WWE Network link) from the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, South Carolina. 9,286 were in attendance, with 325,000 homes watching on PPV.

This edition of Uncensored did break the streak of winning Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Worst Major Show of the Year (the 1995 and 1996 editions both won the award). It only managed a fifth place finish in the category. So... improvement (another WCW show, Souled Out, would get the award).

Match ratings are from Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer as recorded in the Internet Wrestling Database. All ratings are out of a possible five stars.

  • In a preshow dark match, Ice Train defeated Maxx.
  • Dean Malenko defeated Eddie Guerrero to win the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship. (3.75/5)
  • Último Dragón defeated Psychosis. (3.5)
  • Glacier defeated Mortis. (1.75)
  • Buff Bagwell defeated Scotty Riggs in a strap match. (1.25)
  • Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) defeated The Public Enemy (Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge) in a Texas Tornado match. (2.5)
  • Prince Iaukea defeated Rey Misterio, Jr. to retain the WCW World Television Championship. (1.5)
  • Team nWo (Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Hollywood Hogan, and Randy Savage) defeated Team Piper (Roddy Piper, Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael, and Jeff Jarrett) and Team WCW (Lex Luger, The Giant and Scott Steiner) in a three-team elimination match.

    Entry was via WarGames rules (5 minute first segment, followed by new entrants at 2 minute intervals. Elimination was via pinfall, submission, or over the top rope. Rick Steiner was to be a part of Team WCW, but was assumed to be attacked by the nWo and did not participate in the match. With the nWo victory, they could freely challenge for any championship as they please. Had Team WCW won, the nWo would have been forced to vacate all championships and been banned for three years. Had Team Piper won, Roddy Piper would have faced Hulk Hogan in a steel cage.

    Post-match, Sting made his first WCW in-ring appearance post-match since the previous September and decimated the nWo. (NR)
    • Scott Hall ducked Giant, who went over the top rope and was eliminated.
    • Kevin Nash eliminated Jeff Jarrett (over the top rope).
    • Scott Hall eliminated Steve McMichael (over the top rope).
    • Scott Hall eliminated Scott Steiner (over the top rope).
    • Hulk Hogan eliminated Roddy Piper with help from an interfering Dennis Rodman (over the top rope).
    • Scott Hall and Kevin Nash co-eliminated Chris Benoit (over the top rope), eliminating Team Piper.
    • Lex Luger eliminated Randy Savage (submission).
    • Lex Luger eliminated Kevin Nash (over the top rope).
    • Lex Luger eliminated Scott Hall (submission)
    • Hulk Hogan eliminated Lex Luger (pinfall), eliminating Team WCW and winning the match for Team nWo.

Owen Hart vs. Triple-H European Title by Stinger1981

18 years ago today at a RAW is WAR taping in Phoenix, Arizona (WWE Network link), Triple H defeated Owen Hart via referee stoppage to win the WWF European Championship.

15 years ago today, WCW Monday Nitro and WCW Thunder are both cancelled by the Turner networks. The call was the first major programming decision made by recently installed Turner Broadcasting CEO Jamie Kellner, who previously was the chief executive of the WB Network. Kellner, who had a hand in tinkering or cancelling Silver Age WB shows including Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and Histeria!, wanted to attract affluent viewers to the Turner family of networks.

Wrestling had been a staple on Turner programming since the 1970s beginning with Georgia Championship Wrestling, but the company falling on hard times (operating at a $60 million loss in the previous year) combined with high production costs and expensive contracts made it an easy target for downsizing now that they were under the AOL Time Warner banner.

The move would have sweeping consequences for the wrestling world: the sudden disappearance of its television programming suddenly made WCW unattractive for Fusient Media Ventures, who were on the verge of buying the promotion.

The story via The New York Times:

The Turner Broadcasting System, a division of AOL Time Warner, will stop showing professional wrestling on its TNT and TBS cable channels later this month, the company said on Friday.

The cancellation of wrestling marked the end of an era at Turner Broadcasting, the cable franchise built by Ted Turner, in part, on the strength of professional wrestling.

Mr. Turner, now the vice chairman of AOL Time Warner, began showing matches of the World Championship Wrestling league on his first television station, WTCG-TV in Atlanta, in the early 1970's. He later used wrestling to attract viewers to TBS and TNT.

But the league has fallen on hard times. Though it was, at one point, the dominant wrestling franchise on television, in the last couple of years, it has consistently lost in the ratings to the World Wrestling Federation, which was first on USA network and later on TNN and MTV.

With high production costs and expensive contracts for wrestlers, World Championship Wrestling is estimated to have lost tens of millions of dollars.

Turner Broadcasting said in January that it would sell its controlling interest in the league to Fusient Media Ventures, a fledgling media concern, but that it would continue to show wrestling on TNT and TBS for years to come.

Everything changed two weeks ago when Jamie Kellner, the chief executive of WB network, became the head of TBS, executives at AOL Time Warner said.

The executives said Mr. Kellner, in consultation with the president of Turner Entertainment, Brad Siegel, had decided that wrestling should be canceled sooner rather than later.

It was the first programming move made under Mr. Kellner's leadership and is an indication that he wants to attract more affluent viewers to TNT and TBS.

A TBS spokesman, Jim Weiss, said: ''Basically we've decided that professional wrestling, in its current incarnation, is not consistent with the upscale brands we've built at TNT and TBS. Therefore, we will not be carrying it.''

Mr. Kellner had no comment.

Though TBS and TNT are consistently among the top-rated cable networks, the two networks have been criticized by analysts for lacking a clear identity.

Both networks offer a mix of reruns of popular network television shows, movies and sports, though TNT has also ventured into original programming.

TBS shows a two-hour W.C.W. program, ''Thunder,'' on Wednesday nights; TNT shows a two-hour program ''Nitro'' on Monday nights.

With the cancellation, the deal with Fusient is also off. AOL executives said there was a chance that Fusient could still buy the league and show its programming on a network owned by another media company. But, they said, other bidders have shown interest as well.

There was speculation on Friday that the World Wrestling Federation would buy its rival, but a W.W.F. spokesman had no comment.

Just one week after WCW is kicked from Turner, the WWF does buy WCW for a reported $2.5 million. Including legal fees involving cases in litigation at the time, WCW is bought out for just over $4 million.

9 years ago today, MTV removes their scheduled airing of the final episode of Wrestling Society X despite being listed on MTV's website and in TV Guide. A few days earlier (March 13 to be exact), five consecutive episodes of the series aired in a marathon in what was essentially a burnoff; the show had been cancelled by MTV earlier in the month.

No official reason was given for the episode's removal, though one MTV source claimed the episode, which had an exploding steel cage match, was never set to air. The series finale was finally made available when the series is released on DVD later in the year.

8 years ago today at Rey de Reyes in Monterrey, Mexico, Cibernetico defeated El Mesias to win the AAA Heavyweight Championship. Cibernetico holds the title until he legitimately quits the promotion in October. On the same show, El Zorro defeated Abismo Negro, Jr., Mr. Niebla, and Alan Stone in an elimination match to win the 2008 Rey de Reyes tournament.

5 years later, TNA announces via press release that anyone who ordered Victory Road from earlier in the week would get a six-month paid subscription to TNA's on-demand video service as long as they sent in their cable bill showing they ordered the event. The release in part:

TNA Wrestling strives to give fans who purchase our pay-per-views as close to a full three-hour event as possible. This past Sunday's "TNA Victory Road" fell short of that standard. Your support of TNA is never taken for granted. To show you how we value that support, we would like to offer six months of free access to the library.

2 years ago today, CM Punk makes his first public appearance since his abrupt walkout from WWE... but not in a wrestling ring: on The Talking Dead, the post-show for the hit AMC television series The Walking Dead. There was only one reference made to his then soon-to-be former employer: Phillip Brooks' wrestling name as his Twitter handle (@CMPunk).

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