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This Day in Wrestling History (Apr. 16): Super Cruiserweights!

33 years ago today in Greensboro, North Carolina, Roddy Piper defeated Greg Valentine to win the NWA United States Championship.

22 years ago today, New Japan Pro Wrestling hosted the first ever Super J Cup from Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall) in Tokyo, Japan.

The interpromotional junior heavyweight tournament would become one of the most sought after events on the tape trading circuit for years and is considered one of the greatest events in professional wrestling history.

  • First Round:
    • Gedo defeated Dean Malenko.
    • Super Delfin defeated Shinjiro Ohtani.
    • Black Tiger (a masked Eddie Guerrero) defeated TAKA Michinoku.
    • El Samurai defeated Masayoshi Motegi.
    • Ricky Fuji defeated Negro Casas.
    • Jushin Liger defeated Hayabusa. This was the debut of the Hayabusa character.
    • The Great Sasuke and Wild Pegasus (a masked Chris Benoit) were given byes into the second round.
  • Quarterfinals:
    • Gedo defeated Super Delfin.
    • Wild Pegasus defeated Black Tiger.
    • Great Sasuke defeated El Samurai.
    • Jushin Liger defeated Ricky Fuji.
  • Semifinals:
    • Wild Pegasus defeated Gedo.
    • Great Sasuke defeated Jushin Liger.
  • Finals:
    • Wild Pegasus defeated Great Sasuke to win the Super J Cup.

16 years ago today, WCW presented Spring Stampede (WWE Network link) from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. 12,556 were in attendance with 115,000 homes watching on PPV. That's less than half the number of home buys compared to the 1999 edition (255,000 homes), but it's nearly double their last PPV a month earlier, Uncensored (60,000 buys).

The show's hook was to crown new champions after a hard reboot of the promotion a few days earlier. Many of the matches on the show were tournament bouts (ten of the fourteen bouts on the show were either United States or tag title tournament matches, with the main event being the finals of a world title tournament that began the previous Monday), usually pitting Millionaire's Club members against the New Blood.

Note: Show results are out of order but are grouped by championships for easier reading. Matches are listed in order of occurrence in relation to the show.

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

  • United States Championship Tournament:
    • Scott Steiner defeated The Wall by disqualification in a quarterfinal match. (0/5)
    • Mike Awesome defeated The Cat in a quarterfinal match. (2.25)
    • Sting defeated Booker T in a quarterfinal match. (3)
    • Vampiro defeated Billy Kidman in a quarterfinal match. (2.5)
    • Scott Steiner defeated Mike Awesome by submission in a semifinal match. (1)
    • Sting defeated Vampiro by submission in a semifinal match. (0.75)
    • Scott Steiner defeated Sting by referee stoppage to win the vacated WCW United States Championship. (2.75)
  • Tag Team Championship Tournament:
    • Team Package (Ric Flair & Lex Luger) defeated The Harris Brothers (Big Ron & Heavy D) and The Mamalukes (Big Vito & Johnny the Bull) by submission in a handicap match. (1.25)
    • Buff Bagwell & Shane Douglas defeated Harlem Heat 2000 (Big T & Stevie Ray). (0)
    • Buff Bagwell & Shane Douglas defeated Team Package to win the vacated WCW World Tag Team Championship. (2.25)
  • Non-tournament matches (also in order of occurrence):
    • Mancow defeated Jimmy Hart. (0)
    • Terry Funk defeated Norman Smiley to win the vacated WCW Hardcore Championship. (2.75)
    • Chris Candido defeated Crowbar, Juventud Guerrea, Lash LeRoux, Shannon Moore, and The Artist in a six-man suicide match to win the vacated WCW Cruiserweight Championship. Of note, Tammy Lynn Sytch, best known as Sunny from her days in the WWF, made her WCW debut. (1.5)
  • Jeff Jarrett defeated Diamond Dallas Page to win the vacated WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Late in the match, DDP's wife Kimberly turned on Page and aligned with Eric Bischoff and the New Blood. (3.5)

15 years ago today on RAW from Knoxville, Tennessee (WWE Network link), Triple H defeated Jeff Hardy to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

12 years ago today, Steve Austin leaves WWE for a second time after the two sides fail to come to an agreement on a long-term contract.

9 years ago today on RAW from Milan, Italy, Anthony Carelli makes his WWF debut. Debuting as wrestling fan Santino Marella (a homage to the late Gino Marella, best known as WWE Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon), he was handpicked by Vince McMahon to be the opponent for then-WWE Intercontinental Champion Umaga.

In one of the biggest upsets in WWE history, Santino actually wins. Ok, it was in a no disqualification match and Bobby Lashley, who was in a rivalry with Umaga at the time, did most of the heavy lifting. But Santino, a fan (basically), won a WWE championship in his debut match.

7 years ago today, WWE reboots Superstars for WGN America. The show's hook at the time was a one-hour show featuring one match from representatives from all three brands (RAWSmackdown, ECW), with their respective commentators calling their brand's match.

On the debut show, The Undertaker defeated Matt Hardy, Christian defeated Finlay to win an ECW Championship match, and Cody Rhodes defeated Shane McMahon by disqualification.

Despite lasting only two years on WGN America, the show lives on in international markets and through weekly airings on WWE's streaming service, the WWE Network, as well as Hulu Plus.

6 years ago today, WWE is forced to abandon creative plans after all flights out of the United Kingdom are grounded due to an erupting volcano in Iceland. What does this have to do with WWE, you ask? Turned out the RAW crew were over in the UK and they were due back in time for a show in East Rutherford, New Jersey two days later. The volcano forces the Smackdown crew to go in their place that Monday.

Plenty of birthdays today, so I gotta skimp on the profiles. Sorry in advance.

It's a happy 27th birthday to Stephanie Bell. Known to most wrestling fans as Mia Yim, Stephanie competes for TNA as Jade.

The current (as of this writing) TNA Knockouts Champion is best known for her work on the independent circuit, having competed most notably for Ring of Honor, Combat Zone Wrestling, Shimmer Women Athletes, and Shine Wrestling. In Shine, she won both the singles and tag team championships (she won the Shine Championship in China in November 2014; she won the Shine tag titles with Leva Bates). Last month, she won a gauntlet match at TNA One Night Only: Knockouts Knockdown 4 to earn the title of Queen of the Knockouts.

Bell is half-Korean, and can speak Korean fluently. She is also proficient in sign language, which she uses to communicate with her deaf boyfriend. Bell was ranked the #20 female wrestler in the world by Pro Wrestling Illustrated in the PWI Female 50 in 2014.

It's a happy 36th birthday for Paul Michael London.

Training under Rudy Gonzales at Shawn Michaels' wrestling school, the Texas Wrestling Academy, London was a featured player in Ring of Honor's early days. He also appeared for Pro Wrestling Zero-One and TNA before joining WWE in 2003. Initially teaming with Billy Kidman, the two would win the WWE Tag Team Championship in the summer of 2004. The duo eventually split up and feuded. London would succeed on his own, winning the WWE Cruiserweight Championship in March 2005. London's title reign has a bit of infamy: in August, he lost it on Velocity to Nunzio, the only time a championship has changed hands in the show's history.

London would team with Brian Kendrick (the two would first team when London came to WWE in dark matches back in 2003) and would win the tag titles at Judgment Day in 2006. They would hold them for the next 11 months, the longest reign since the belts were introduced in 2002 (the record still stands). They continued to team until June 2008 when the two were split up following the WWE Supplemental Draft.

After being released from WWE in November 2008, London competed on the independent circuit, most notably for Big Time Wrestling, Dragon Gate USA, Lucha Libre USA, Ring of Honor, Family Wrestling Entertainment, Insane Championship Wrestling, and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.

The self-proclaimed "Intrepid Traveler" and once boyfriend of ex-WWE diva/valet Ashley Massaro has won championships for 15 different promotions and was voted Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Most Underrated Wrestler of 2004. The next year, he was ranked one of the top 50 singles wrestlers in the world by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. He also won PWG's DDT4 Tournament in 2010.

It's a happy 48th birthday for Vickie Lynn Lara. Known today as Vickie Benson, she's best known as Vickie Guerrero.

The widow of famed wrestler Eddie Guerrero (the couple were married from 1990 to Eddie's death in 2005), Vickie's best known as an on-again, off-again on-screen authority figure who often garnered some of the most negative reactions among WWE audiences. Guerrero managed over a dozen wrestlers and even had romantic storylines with a few of them, most notably Edge, Eric Esocbar, and Dolph ZIggler.

The oft-hated Guerrero left WWE as a fan favorite when she threw Stephanie McMahon into a pool of pudding on an episode of RAW in June 2014, then mouthed "I love you" to the crowd and did Eddie Guerrero's signature taunt. Vickie, who is pursuing a career in medical administration, has also since remarried: he married Kris Benson (no relation to the former baseball player of the same name) in September 2015.

Vickie had two daughters from her marriage to Eddie: Shaul, who briefly had a wrestling career (she's now age 25), and Sherilyn, age 19.

It's a happy 79th birthday to William James Myers, best known to wrestling fans as George "The Animal" Steele.

Before turning to wrestling, Steele was a five-sport athlete in Michigan and played college football for the Michigan State Spartans, but knee problems cut his football career short. He graduated from Michigan State and later Central Michigan. He became a teacher, amateur wrestling coach, and football coach at his alma mater Madison High School in Madison Heights, Michigan.

Myers supplemented his income by wrestling in the Detroit area. He was soon scouted by WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino and after a run for Studio Wrestling in Pittsburgh, he was invited to the WWWF for a run. His gimmick was that of a wildman who would tear the turnbuckle with his teeth and used the stuffing as a weapon. He would also have a green tongue, a stooped posture, and a bald head with a fury back. Commentators often remarked that he was the "missing link".

While he could cut eloquent promos, that changed by the 1980s when Vince McMahon thought someone with the gimmick of an "animal" shouldn't make so much sense. Out of frustration, Steele cut an incoherent promo. Surprisingly, McMahon was so impressed, Steele would use that promo style for the remainder of his WWF run.

Steele gained popularity during the wrestling boom of the 1980s. Once one of the most vicious heels in all of wrestling, George turned face in May 1985 when his tag partners Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik abandoned him during a six-man tag against the US Express and Ricky Steamboat. Albano would take Steele under his wing.

George's most famous feud was with "Macho Man" Randy Savage in 1986. He had a crush on Savage's valet, Miss Elizabeth. The feud proved popular with fans; the feud pegged to last only a couple of months would last more than a year (Steele notably played a role in Steamboat winning the Intercontinental Championship from Savage at Wrestlemania III). Steele was to participate in the Wrestlemania IV battle royal, but he suffered a knee injury in a house show prior to the event, so he was on the outside for much of the match. Due to Crohn's disease, Steele called it a career in late 1988.

He briefly came out of retirement in 1988 as part of the Oddities. His last notable match was for WCW in January 2000 when he was one of three legends set to challenge Jeff Jarrett on Nitro. In 2008, Steele appeared as a groomsman for the wedding of Jay Lethal and SoCal Val at TNA Slammiversary.

Steele made his acting debut in 1994 in the film Ed Wood. He played actor turned wrestler Tor Johnson, whom Steele was often confused for early in his career.

Myers resides in Cocoa Beach, Florida with his wife Pat; the couple have been married for 60 years and have three children together: sons Pat and Jim, and daughter Felicia.

Steele is a member of the WWF (1995) and Professional Wrestling (2005) Halls of Fame. In 2004, he was honored by the Cauliflower Alley Club. In 2003, Steele was ranked among the 500 greatest singles wrestlers of the PWI Years by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

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