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This Day in Wrestling History (Mar. 19): Apple Pies and Geek Goddesses

Now the title makes sense. If it doesn't, it will soon enough. I promise.

73 years ago today, El Santo defeated Murcielago Velazquez to win the Mexican National Middleweight Championship.

33 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, WWF Champion Bob Backlund, Andre the Giant, and Jimmy Snuka defeated Afa, Lou Albano, and Big John Studd 3-0 in a best of five falls six-man tag team match. Former wrestler Swede Hanson was the special referee.

27 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, Erica Shishido, who would go on to great fame in Japan as Aja Kong, defeated Manami Toyota to win the vacated AJW Singles Championship. The championship was vacated a month earlier when reigning champion Mika Komatsu retired.

24 years ago today in Tijuana, Mexico, El Hijo de Santo defeated Esperanto, Jr. to win the WWA World Welterweight Championship.

21 years ago today, WCW presented Uncensored (WWE Network link) from the Tupelo Coliseum in Tupelo, Mississippi. The show's hook was a series of "unsanctioned" matches. 5,782 were in attendance with 180,000 homes watching on PPV, though some estimates have it as high as 200,000 buys. The show was voted the Worst Major Wrestling Show of 1995 by Wrestling Observer Newsletter readers. The 1996 edition would also get the award.

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

  • In a Main Event preshow match, Alex Wright defeated Mark Starr.
  • In a Main Event preshow match, Steve Austin defeated Tim Horner.
  • In a Main Event preshow match, Stars 'n Stripes (Marcus Alexander Bagwell and The Patriot) defeated Dick Slater and Bunkhouse Buck.
  • The Blacktop Bully defeated Dustin Rhodes in a "King of the Road" match. The match actually took place a few days earlier outside Atlanta, Georgia and was heavily edited for broadcast (thereby immediately contradicting the PPV's name) due to both competitors bleeding, a no-no for WCW at the time. Both men were fired following the event. (-2/5)
  • Meng defeated "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan in a martial arts match. (-2/5)
  • Johnny B. Badd defeated Arn Anderson in a boxer versus wrestler match via knockout 22 seconds into the third round. (2.5)
  • "Macho Man" Randy Savage defeated Avalanche by disqualification. (1.25)
  • Big Bubba Rogers defeated Sting. (2.5)
  • The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags) defeated Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) in a Texas tornado match. (2.5)
  • Hulk Hogan defeated Vader in a leather strap match. Flair was the man tied to the strap at the end of the match and Hogan touched all four corners. Don't ask me how that constitutes as a Vader defeat. As it turned out, neither Hogan nor Vader wanted to do a clean job for the other. Also of note, The Renegade made his WCW debut. This disappointed many as Hogan eluded to the "ultimate surprise" as being the WCW debut of The Ultimate Warrior. (3.5)

16 years ago today, WCW presented Uncensored (WWE Network link) from the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. About 5,000 were in attendance, with just 60,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 325,000 homes for the 1999 edition, or an 81% drop.

Of note, this was the last WCW PPV before the returns of both Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo. Also of note, this is the final Uncensored PPV.

  • The Artist defeated Psychosis to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship. (0.5/5)
  • Norman Smiley and The KISS Demon defeated Lenny Lane and Rave. (-1)
  • Bam Bam Bigelow defeated The Wall by disqualification. (0)
  • Brian Knobbs defeated 3 Count (Evan Karagias, Shannon Moore, and Shane Helms) in a 3-on-1 handicap match to win the WCW Hardcore Championship. (1.5)
    • Knobs pinned Helms.
    • Knobs pinned Karagias.
    • Knobs pinned Moore.
  • Billy Kidman and Booker defeated Harlem Heat 2000 (Big T and Stevie Ray). (1.25)
  • Vampiro defeated Fit Finlay in a falls count anywhere match. (2.25)
  • The Harris Brothers (Ron and Don) defeated The Mamalukes (Big Vito and Johnny the Bull to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship. (0.5)
  • Dustin Rhodes defeated Terry Funk in a bullrope match. (1)
  • Sting defeated The Total Package in a "lumberjacks with casts" match. (0.5)
  • Sid Vicious defeated Jeff Jarrett to retain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. (1.25)
  • Hulk Hogan defeated Ric Flair in a "Yavapai Indian" strap match. (2.25)

15 years ago today, WCW presented Nitro from the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. During the show, it was announced by Eric Bischoff that the next edition of Nitro, a night of champions, would be the last on the Turner networks. The decision was made a few days earlier by Jamie Kellner, who had recently taken over as the head of TBS.

  • Jason Jett defeated Disqo.
  • Shane Helms defeated Billy Kidman to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.
  • Bam Bam Bigelow defeated Shawn Stasiak.
  • Kanyon defeated M.I. Smooth.
  • Rick Steiner defeated Konnan by disqualification.
  • Team Canada (Mike Awesome and Lance Storm) defeated WCW World Tag Team Champions The Natural Born Thrillers (Sean O'Haire and Chuck Palumbo).

That same evening, they taped the final episode of Thunder. Created in January 1998 as a supplement to WCW Monday Nitro, Thunder would be one of the most expensive wrestling programs ever produced, costing $12 million to $15 million per year, all of which WCW had to pay for (Eric Bischoff alleges in his book Controversy Creates Cash that TBS didn't pay a dime in production costs). But declining attendance (and the match quality as top stars rarely appeared on the show in its latter days) in 1999 and 2000 forced WCW to combine Nitro and Thunder tapings in its final six months.

  • The Yung Dragons (Yang & Kaz Hayashi) defeated Air Raid (AJ Styles & Air Paris).
  • Jason Jett defeated Cash.
  • Ernest Miller & M.I. Smooth defeated Chris Kanyon & Road Warrior Animal.
  • Hugh Morrus defeated Rick Steiner.
  • Shane Helms, Rey Mysterio Jr., and Billy Kidman defeated Chavo Guerrero Jr., Kid Romeo, and Elix Skipper.
  • Chuck Palumbo defeated Mike Awesome.
  • Scott Steiner & Jeff Jarrett defeated Dustin Rhodes in a handicap match.

15 years ago today on RAW is WAR from Albany, New York (WWE Network link), Edge & Christian defeated The Hardy Boyz to win the WWF Tag Team Championship...only to lose them about an hour later to The Dudley Boyz. Of note, ECW World Heavyweight and Television Champion Rhyno and Spike Dudley both made their WWF debuts. On the same show, Raven defeated The Big Show to win the WWF Hardcore Championship.

14 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, William Regal defeated Diamond Dallas Page by submission to win the WWF European Championship. On the same show, X-Pac returned to the WWF as the newest member of the nWo.

9 years ago today on RAW from Indianapolis, Indiana, ECW Champion Bobby Lashley became the first man (officially) to win the Masterlock challenge by breaking out of Chris Masters' submission hold. On the same show, Edge won a ten-man last chance battle royal, last eliminating Ric Flair, to enter the Money in the Bank ladder match at Wrestlemania 23.

5 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Manhattan Mayhem IV from the Manhattan Center in New York City.

  • Adam Cole & Kyle O'Reilly defeated Michael Elgin & Mike Mondo.
  • Tommaso Ciampa defeated Grizzly Redwood.
  • Mike Bennett defeated Steve Corino.
  • The All-Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus) defeated The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe).
  • El Generico defeated TJ Perkins.
  • The Kings Of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli) defeated The Latin American Exchange (Hernandez & Homicide).
  • Davey Richards defeated Christopher Daniels in a "Pure Wrestling Rules" match. Under Pure rules, competitors were limited to three rope breaks.
  • Eddie Edwards defeated Roderick Strong to win the ROH World Championship.

3 years ago today, TNA taped two more PPVs in their One Night Only series.

First, they taped One Night Only: Hardcore Justice II from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando. The PPV would not air until three and a half months later (July 5). The show's hook: you guessed it: hardcore matches.

  • The Latin American Exchange (Hernandez & Homicide) defeated The Disciples of the New Church (Sinn & Slash) in a no disqualification match.
  • ODB defeated Jackie Moore
  • Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels & Kazarian) defeated Generation Me (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) in a $20,000 ladder match.
  • Shark Boy defeated 2 Cold Scorpio, Crimson, Devon Storm, Funaki, Gunner, Johnny Swinger, Little Guido, and Sam Shaw in a hardcore gauntlet match.
  • Bob Holly, James Storm & Magnus defeated Aces and Eights (DOC, Mike Knox & Wes Brisco) in a six-man elimination tag team match.
  • Joseph Park defeated Judas Mesias in a Monster's Ball match.
  • Brother Runt & Jeff Hardy defeated Aces and Eights (Bully Ray & Devon) in a tables match.

Second, they taped One Night Only: Tournament of Champions 2013 from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando. The show's hook was a one-night tournament of past TNA world champions.

  • Play-in match
    • James Storm defeated Mr. Anderson.
  • Quarterfinals
    • Samoa Joe defeated Jeff Hardy.
    • Austin Aries defeated Kurt Angle.
    • James Storm defeated Bully Ray by disqualification.
    • Bobby Roode defeated Sting.
  • Semifinals
    • Samoa Joe defeated Austin Aries.
    • Bobby Roode defeated James Storm.

  • Finals
    • Bobby Roode defeated Samoa Joe.

1 year ago today, WWE announces that legendary puro wrestler Tatsumi Fujinami will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. A former WWF junior heavyweight champion, Fujinami, a protégé of Antonio Inoki, is best known for his work in Japan, where won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship six times, a record that stood for sixteen and a half years. In 1991, Fujinami defeated Ric Flair to become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.

It's a happy 29th birthday today to April Jeanette Brooks, best known to wrestling fans as AJ Lee.

Born April Jeanette Mendez in Union City, New Jersey, she was the youngest of three children. Mendez moved around a lot in her childhood, living in motels, other people's houses, even their own car. Her brother Robert's interest in the WWF got April interested herself. Her interest only grew when she met then-WWF diva Lita at age 12 at an autograph signing. As an homage to her brother, who served in the US Army, Mendez once wore camouflage wrestling attire.

After graduating from Memorial High School in West New York, New Jersey, April saved up money to support her family and enroll in wrestling school. She was briefly enrolled in New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, but family and financial problems led Mendez to drop out just six months in.

April began working full-time and enrolled in a nearby wrestling school in 2007 training under Jay Lethal. She made her debut that September on the independent circuit as Miss April. She lost her Women Superstars Uncensored debut in October 2008 to Jana, but would find success soon after. In February 2009, Miss April and Brooke Carter captured the WSU Tag Team Championship from the Beatdown Betties (Roxie Cotton and Annie Social). Two months later, Miss April and Jay Lethal won the co-promoted WSU-National Wrestling Superstars King and Queen of the Ring tournament, defeating Janny and Danny Demanto in the final. In May, she left WSU and vacated her half of the WSU tag titles for a shot at the WWE.

After paying $1,500 to attend a tryout camp, Mendez signed a deal with WWE in May 2009. She was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling, WWE's developmental territory at the time. Initially debuting as April Lee in August, her name was changed to AJ Lee.

In February 2010, AJ defeated Serena Mancini to become the Queen of FCW. She held the crown (no, literally, it was a crown) for most of the year before losing to Rosa Mendes. During AJ's time as Queen of FCW, she feuded with the first ever FCW Divas Champion Naomi Knight. The feud turned AJ into a villain, and in December, AJ defeated Naomi to win the FCW Divas Championship. She held it until April 2011, when she was defeated by Aksana.

Also, while being FCW Divas Champion, AJ Lee made her WWE television debut as a participant on the third season of NXT. Her character, a fan favorite, was based on her geek fandom (she's heavy into comics and video games). A romantic on-screen relationship was teased between AJ and her pro Primo, and the two finally kissed on the finale. She also struck up a friendship with fellow competitor Kaitlyn, who would go on to win the competition. Despite getting the most wins in the competition with six, AJ finished third.

AJ and Kaitlyn would make their main roster debuts together in May 2011 as The Chickbusters. They were led by mentor Natalya, who would lose to Alicia Fox and Tamina on consecutive shows. AJ picked up her first singles win in June with a victory over Tamina. The Chickbusters and Natayla feuded with Fox, Tamina, and Rosa Mendes through most of the summer. Eventually, Natalya turned on the Chickbusters and aligned with Beth Phoenix to form the Divas of Doom. AJ and Kaitlyn repeatedly lost to the duo, causing tension between them, and their eventual breakup.

Late in the year, she began an on-screen relationship with Daniel Bryan, who had just won the World Heavyweight Championship. Well, the love wasn't exactly reciprocal. She stood by him, even when she was kayfabe injured by Big Show, saved Bryan from a Big Show attack, and was told by Bryan to shut up and not get in the way. The turning point came at Wrestlemania XXVIII, when right after AJ gave Bryan a good luck kiss, Daniel was quickly defeated by Sheamus (18 seconds, one of the fastest championship matches in Wrestlemania history) for the World Heavyweight Championship. Despite repeated attempts to mend the relationship, Daniel broke it off. Attempts to comfort AJ by Natalya and Kaitlyn proved unsuccessful and Lee became "mentally unstable".

She would have an on-screen relationship with CM Punk and would be involved in two WWE title matches, one in which she refereed. After being left behind by CM Punk following Money in the Bank in 2012, AJ accepted Daniel Bryan's proposal. But there would be no wedding: at RAW 1000, Vince McMahon announced that AJ would be the new general manager of RAW. In her first major acts, she forced her ex Daniel Bryan to go under a psychological evaluation and inserted CM Punk into a WWE Championship match at Summerslam. AJ's sometimes rash decision making would put her in the crosshairs of both Vickie Guerrero and Paul Heyman, who both eyed the GM job themselves.

In October, AJ stepped down from her GM in response to a scandal concerning her relationship with John Cena. Despite Cena showing reluctance, the two began a relationship... one that wouldn't last long. AJ turned on Cena in a Money in the Bank ladder match against Dolph Ziggler at TLC. The relationship was solidified the next night when the debuting Big E Langston attacked Cena on AJ's behalf. After briefly feuding again with Daniel Bryan in the leadup to Wrestlemania 29, AJ was ringside when Dolph Ziggler successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank to win the World Heavyweight Championship.

Later in April, AJ became the #1 contender to Kaitlyn's WWE Divas Championship. She played mind games with Kaitlyn, using Big E Langston as Kaitlyn's secret admirer. On June 16, 2013, she defeated Kaitlyn for the title (AJ would later get a tattoo on her back with that date in tally marks). AJ didn't stop berating taunting Kaitlyn, and the two were a part of the first ever Divas Championship contract signing segment about a month later. That night, AJ retained the Divas title, but cost Dolph Ziggler the World Heavyweight Championship later that night. The next night, Ziggler broke up with AJ; as revenge, she cost Ziggler a non-title rematch. That led to AJ and Big E Langston taking on Ziggler and Kaitlyn at Summerslam, with Ziggler and Kaitlyn winning.

Soon after, AJ turned to the cast of Total Divas, cutting a worked shoot promo on the group. A bout between three members of the cast, Naomi, Natalya, and Brie Bella, never got under way when they all turned their attention to AJ. Despite that, AJ retained her title at Night of Champions in a fatal four way match. In late September, she would enlist Tamina Snuka as her bodyguard. Her feud with the cast would extend to the end of the year where AJ's team of "true divas" lost to the Total Divas cast in a 7-on-7 elimination tag match at Survivor Series 7-5, with Natalya eliminating both Tamina and AJ to win the bout. Total Divas would win the rematch the next night 7-4. Natalya challenged for the Divas Championship at TLC, but AJ defeated her.

The next month, AJ surpassed Maryse as the longest-reigning Divas Champion in WWE history. That record would run through Wrestlemania XXX where AJ won the first ever WWE Divas Championship match in Wrestlemania history where won a 14-woman match. AJ's record-breaking run ended the next night at 295 days when the debuting Paige quickly defeated her for the title (AJ's record has since been surpassed by Nikki Bella, who had a 301-day reign spanning most of 2015). She took time off following the defeat.

She returned on June 30 without Tamina by her side, and quickly defeated Paige for the Divas Championship. She would lose the title back to Paige at Summerslam, then win it back from her in a triple threat match involving Nikki Bella at Night of Champions, making her the first three-time WWE Divas Champion ever. Two months later at Survivor Series, AJ lost the title to Nikki Bella in 33 seconds after Nikki's sister Brie distracted her. After losing a rematch at TLC to Nikki, she again took time off to heal a nagging neck injury.

AJ got herself into quite a stir over the treatment of WWE's female performers in February 2015; Stephanie McMahon posted a tweet praising actress Patricia Arquette for the advancement of women's rights and encouraging them to "use [their] voice". AJ used hers: she responded saying that WWE's female performers receive a fraction of wages and screen time in comparison to its male talent despite having some of the most-watched segments on WWE programming and generating record revenue in merchandise sales. Both Stephanie and her father and WWE CEO Vince McMahon acknowledged the issue.

AJ returned to WWE in March and aligned herself with on-again, off-again frenemy Paige, who was being assaulted by the Bella Twins. The two teams met at Wrestlemania 31, with AJ and Paige winning. On April 3, 2015, less than a week after wrestling in a six-man tag on RAW, April retired from WWE. In a brief statement two days later, AJ said in a Twitter post, "Break the rules. Be a fighter. Any dream is possible if you are brave enough to do it YOUR way. Thank you all."

Post-retirement, she's appeared in an ASPCA campaign to end dog fighting (she's an avid animal welfare advocate) and appeared in a promotional short for EA Sports' Madden NFL 16. Brooks, a self-described "tomboy",  was the first woman to win WWE's Superstar Challenge, an annual 16-person video game tournament centered around the company's annual video game. Brooks was also the first woman to win Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Woman of the Year award three consecutive years, winning it from 2012 to 2014 (of note, Trish Stratus is the only woman with more total, with four). In the same publication, she was the #2 ranked female wrestler in the world in their annual PWI Female 50.

In June 2014, AJ married Phillip Brooks, aka CM Punk. The couple resides in Chicago and Milwaukee. She was previously in a relationship with her trainer Jay Shipman, aka Jay Lethal. A memoir covering her life and upbringing is in the works: Crazy is My Superpower is scheduled to be published early next year.

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