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This Day in Wrestling History (Mar. 23): WWF Buys WCW (And Austin Bleeds... A Lot)

32 years ago today in Kallang, Singapore, Ric Flair defeated Harley Race to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. This comes just three days after Race defeated Flair for the title in New Zealand. Neither of the title changes are recognized by the NWA or WWE.

24 years ago today in Memphis, Tennessee, Brian Christopher defeated Jimmy Valiant to win the USWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. This would be the first of 25 championship reigns for Christopher.

19 years ago today, WWF presented Wrestlemania 13: Heat! (WWE Network link) from the Rosemont Horizon in suburban Chicago, Illinois. 18,197 were in attendance, with just 237,000 homes watching on PPV. Not only that's down from 290,000 homes for Wrestlemania XII, this is the lowest buyrate for a Wrestlemania ever (pre-WWE Network). Hell, the Royal Rumble two months earlier got more buys (one of only two times that happened in WWF history; the other was 1991). This was probably not helped by the fact that the show's main event wasn't finalized until just before RAW is WAR went off the air the Monday before Wrestlemania.

Also of note, the show didn't sell out, the first and only time that has happened in company history.

Match ratings are from Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer as recorded in the Internet Wrestling Database. All ratings are out of 5 stars.

  • In a Free for All preshow match, Billy Gunn defeated Flash Funk.
  • The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) defeated The New Blackjacks (Blackjack Windham and Blackjack Bradshaw), The Godwinns (Henry and Phineas Godwinn), and Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon in a four corners tag team elimination match to become the #1 contenders for the WWF Tag Team Championship. (-1.5/5)
  • Rocky Maivia defeated The Sultan to retain the WWF Interncontinental Championship. (1.25)
  • Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeated Goldust. (2.25)
  • Owen Hart and British Bulldog fought Mankind and Vader to a double countout in a WWF Tag Team Championship match. (2.5)
  • Bret Hart defeated Steve Austin via referee stoppage in a submission match. Ken Shamrock was the special referee. A bloodied Austin passed out after being in the Sharpshooter for an extended period of time. Not satisfied with how he won the match, Bret Hart continued to attack Austin until he was physically restrained by Shamrock. Hart left to a chorus of boos, virtually turning him heel for the first time since 1987. Steve Austin walked to the back on his own power, refusing help, making him a babyface. (5)
  • The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) and Ahmed Johnson defeated The Nation of Domination (Crush, Faarooq and Savio Vega) in a Chicago street fight. (3.5)
  • The Undertaker defeated Sycho Sid in a no disqualification match to win the WWF Championship. The win gave The Undertaker his first WWF Championship since 1991. (1.25)

15 years ago today, after initial rumors that WWF was not in the running to buy WCW, WWF announces via press release they bought WCW.  The press release that shook the wrestling world:

STAMFORD, Conn., March 23, 2001 - World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWF) today announced its purchase of the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) brand from Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS Inc.), a division of AOL Time Warner.

The purchase of WCW creates a tag team partnership with the World Wrestling Federation brand that is expected to propel the sports entertainment genre to new heights.

In keeping with the company's strategic alliance with Viacom, new WCW programming is anticipated to air on TNN in the near future. The possibility of cross-brand storylines and intrigue, however, may start as early as Monday night during WWF Raw Is War on TNN and the final performance of WCW Monday Nitro Live on Turner Network Television (TNT).

The binding agreement provides World Wrestling Federation Entertainment with the global rights to the WCW brand, tape library, and other intellectual property rights.

"This acquisition is the perfect creative and business catalyst for our company," said Linda McMahon, Chief Executive Officer of World Wrestling Federation Entertainment. "This is a dream combination for fans of sports entertainment. The incendiary mix of World Wrestling Federation and WCW personalities potentially creates intriguing storylines that will attract a larger fan base to the benefit of our advertisers and business partners, and propel sports entertainment to new heights."

"The acquisition of the WCW brand is a strategic move for us," said Stuart Snyder, President and Chief Operating Officer for World Wrestling Federation Entertainment. "We are assuming a brand with global distribution and recognition. We are adding thousands of hours to our tape library that can be repurposed for home videos, television, Internet streaming, and broadband applications. The WCW opens new opportunities for growth in our Pay Per View, live events, and consumer products divisions, as well as the opportunity to develop new television programming using new stars. We also will create additional advertising and sponsorship opportunities. In short, it is a perfect fit."

Brad Siegel, who made more than a few enemies at CNN Center after keeping WCW employees out of the loop during the process, issued the following internal announcement after the deal went down:

"Today, World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. is announcing that we have reached an agreement for the sale of WCW. This agreement with WWF holds tremendous potential for the WCW brand and assets. The press release announcing the news is attached.

As we told you last week, WCW programming will not appear on TNT and TBS Superstation after March 27. We will share more information with you about the WWF's immediate plans for WCW in the all-staff meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 28, at 10 a.m. at the Power Plant. Thank you."

In a conference call, Linda McMahon said (among other things) that the possibility of a wrestling channel is there, but not imminent. Linda was also asked how much did WWF get for WCW, but she would not say. The figure, depending on who's telling the story, ranges anywhere from $2 million to $7 million, or a LOT LESS than what WCW was worth in its prime (an SEC filing late in the year revealed that WWE bought WCW for just over $4 million, including trademark costs, the tape library, about two dozen wrestler contracts, and legal fees concerning cases involving WCW).

Stuart Snyder, at the time WWF's chief operating officer, said that negotiations went on for about a month, and due to their connections with Viacom (WWF programming was on Viacom networks at the time), cancelling WCW programming needed to be done before they could further negotiations with AOL Time Warner. (Translation: Fusient never had a chance.) WWF had plans to keep WCW as a separate entity, but the brand wound up being so tarnished, there would be no official revival of the company.

As for the WCW meeting: their staff was let go; they weren't even allowed to return for their personal effects. When the meeting ended, they were walked out of CNN Center; one staffer even lost an entire screenplay he had been working on. WCW employees were allowed to submit applications to the WWF Human Resources staffer on hand, but only a few would be brought in.

Kurt Angle is named GM of Smackdown by Stinger1981

12 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kurt Angle announces he is the new general manager of Smackdown. This comes one day after former GM Paul Heyman was drafted to RAW (and subsequently quit). He also announces in his first act he traded Triple H for the Dudley Boyz and Booker T. On the same show, Bradshaw introduces his new gimmick, John "Bradshaw" Layfield.

8 years ago today, Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Giant Bernard to win the 2008 New Japan Cup and an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match. Tanahashi, the first man to win the tournament more than once, failed in his title match against Shinsuke Nakamura a week later.

3 years ago, SHINE Wrestling presented SHINE 8 from the Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida.

  • Nikki St. John defeats Luscious Latasha.
  • Su Yung defeats Brittney Savage.
  • Jayme Jameson defeats Brandi Wine.
  • Santana defeats Sojournor Bolt.
  • Mercedes Martinez defeats Nikki Roxx.
  • Kimberly defeats Leva Bates in a Fans Bring The Weapons I Quit match.
  • Reby Sky defeats Jessicka Havok in a career vs. respect match. Had Reby lost, her career would have been over.
  • Valkyrie (Allysin Kay, Ivelisse, Rain, and Taylor Made) defeat Amazing Kong, Angelina Love, Christina Von Eerie, and Mia Yim.

NEW JAPAN CUP 2014 Finals - Bad Luck Fale vs... by thebrownmind

2 years ago today, Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Bad Luck Fale to win the 2014 New Japan Cup and his choice of championship match between the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. He chose Hiroshi Tanahashi's Intercontinental Championship, which he would win at Invasion Attack 2014 on April 6.

It's a happy 45th birthday for Hiroyoshi Yamamoto, best known to wrestling fans as Hiroyoshi Tenzan.

The legendary puro wrestler is one half of the only tag team (the other half being Satoshi Kojima) to win All Japan's World Strongest Tag Determination League and New Japan's G1 Tag League tournaments (they won them both in 2008). Tenzan is a four-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, former NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and 11-time IWGP Tag Team Champion, a NJPW record.

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