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This Day in Wrestling History (Apr. 21): HHH vs. HHH

43 years ago today, Giant Baba defeated Mark Lewin to win the first ever All Japan Pro Wrestling Champion Carnival.

36 years ago today in New York City, Ken Patera defeated Pat Patterson to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship. This is actually the first time the WWF Intercontinental Championship was defended, as Patterson was awarded the title as the North American Champion at the time "won a tournament in Rio De Janeiro".

32 years ago today in Greensboro, North Carolina, Ricky Steamboat defeated Dick Slater to win the NWA United States Championship.

18 years ago today, Scott Steiner was arrested for threatening an Atlanta Department of Transportation worker, then hitting him twice with his Ford pickup truck when the worker, who was directing traffic at the time, wouldn't let Steiner drive down a lane that was being worked on in Cherokee County. The worker, Paul Kaspereen, was not seriously injured.

The following March, Steiner pled guilty to aggravated assault and making terroristic threats on a city official. The felonies carry a maximum 30-year jail sentence, but Steiner as a first time offender, was sentenced to 10 days in prison, placed on seven years probation, ordered to pay $25,000 in fines, restitution, and legal costs, and ordered to perform 200 hours community service.

14 years ago today, WWF presented Backlash (WWE Network link) from the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. 12,489 were in attendance, with 400,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 375,000 for the 2001 event.

This was the first WWF PPV at the Kemper Arena since Owen Hart's tragic death at Over The Edge in May 1999. This was also the last domestic PPV under the WWF name, as a British court decides a few weeks later they could no longer use the WWF name.

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.

  • In a Sunday Night Heat preshow match, The Big Show defeated Justin Credible and Steven Richards in a 2-on-1 handicap match.
  • Tajiri defeated Billy Kidman to win the WWF Cruiserweight Championship. (3.5/5)
  • Scott Hall defeated Bradshaw. (0.25)
  • Jazz defeated Trish Stratus to retain the WWF Women's Championship. (1.5)
  • Brock Lesnar defeated Jeff Hardy. (1.5)
  • Kurt Angle defeated Edge. (4.25)
  • Eddie Guerrero defeated Rob Van Dam to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship. (3.25)
  • The Undertaker defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin to become the #1 contender for the Undisputed WWF Championship. Ric Flair was the special referee. (2.25)
  • Billy and Chuck defeated Maven and Al Snow to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship. (2.25)
  • Hulk Hogan defeated Triple H to win the Undisputed WWF Championship. This was Hogan's first WWF Championship since 1993, at the time, the second longest drought between championship reigns in WWF history. (1.25)

12 years ago today at an NWA-TNA weekly PPV taping in Nashville, Tennessee, AJ Styles defeated Jeff Jarrett to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

8 years ago today, WWE presented King of the Ring on a special edition of RAW from Greenville, South Carolina.

  • In a dark match, Ron Killings defeated Trevor Murdoch.
  • Quarterfinals:
    • Chris Jericho defeated MVP by submission.
    • CM Punk defeated Matt Hardy.
    • Finlay defeated The Great Khali by disqualification.
    • William Regal defeated Hornswoggle by submission in just 18 seconds.
  • Semifinals:
    • CM Punk defeated Chris Jericho .
    • William Regal defeated Finlay by knockout.
  • Final:
    • William Regal defeated CM Punk to win the King of the Ring tournament.
  • Non-tournament bouts in order of occurrence:
    • Carlito defeated Hardcore Holly.
    • "Barack Obama" fought "Hillary Clinton" to a no contest when Umaga took out both competitors.
    • Randy Orton, Edge, Chavo Guerrero, and John "Bradshaw" Layfield defeated The Undertaker, Kane, Triple H, and John Cena.

8 years ago today, TNA announces via press release a campaign to "cross the line" and change the future of professional wrestling.

TNA Wrestling Launches 'Cross the Line' Campaign to Challenge Fans Across the World to Change the Future of Professional Wrestling

NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 21  -- Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling today officially announced its launch of "Cross The Line," a worldwide marketing campaign to brand TNA as a call to action for fans of professional wrestling.

"Cross The Line" will encourage fans who have never watched TNA to try it, current TNA fans to recruit others, wrestling stars from around the world to cross the line and join TNA, and it's the official launch of TNA's revolution to call out the competition. The "Cross The Line" will be supported by a multi-layer advertising and marketing campaign including electronic and print placements and a variety of interactive initiatives.

During its first-ever live telecast of "TNA iMPACT!" March 27 on Spike TV, TNA premiered "Cross The Line" with a 30-second commercial, a new opening ID tag, and new graphics. Wrestling fans who attended from around the globe became the first to symbolically "Cross The Line" over yellow TNA "caution tape" as they entered into the "iMPACT Zone" at Universal Studios Orlando. "iMPACT" drew capacity crowds for both the live event and two additional shows throughout the weekend, with thousands more fans being turned away.

"TNA iMPACT!" has grown viewership of its original weekly episode airing to 1.5 million viewers on average per week, which more than doubles the original total average viewership from its debut shows on Spike TV in October 2005.

"We have been overwhelmed by the support and passion of TNA fans. Their demand for TNA can't be silenced, and that energy is what 'Cross The Line' is all about. Nothing challenges the establishment of professional wrestling more than the sound of millions of wrestling fans chanting 'TNA,'" said TNA President Dixie Carter.

1 year ago today, Tokyo Sports magazine reported that Takeshi Morishima would retire from wrestling effective immediately. The announcement comes after a blood test reveals that Morishima had a high level of glycated hemoglobin, a sign of diabetes.

Breaking into the wrestling business in 1998, Morishima was one of two dozen wrestlers in the infamous All Japan Pro Wrestling mutiny of 2000 when Mitsuhara Misawa formed Pro Wrestling NOAH.

With a style comparable to that of the late Terry Gordy, Morishima gained fame when he went on a stateside excursion that saw him win the Ring of Honor World Championship in 2007 from Homicide. He would successfully defend it 20 times over the next eight months, the third most successful defense in company history (Samoa Joe is second with 29, with Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness having the most with 38 each).

Just over a year later, Morishima defeated Misawa to win the GHC Heavyweight Championship (the top belt in Pro Wrestling NOAH) for the first time. He would win the championship again in 2012 and 2014. Morishima had a pair of tryout matches for WWE in August 2008, but was ultimately passed over. A retirement ceremony was planned for later in the year, but Morishima insisted on having one more match, and the ceremony was cancelled.

Today would have been the 45th birthday of Brian Knighton, best known to wrestling fans as Axl Rotten.

Gaining fame as one half of the Bad Breed with John Benson Williams, aka Ian Rotten, Axl gained noterity in ECW in the mid- and late-1990s. After losing a match to The Pitbulls where the losing team was forced to split up, Axl and Ian engaged in a blood feud lasting a year and a half, from hair versus hair to barbed wire weapons matches. Their feud peaked in July 1995 when Axl defeated Ian in a "Taipei deathmatch" where both men had their fists taped and covered with broken glass. Amazingly, the duo reconciled and reunited in early 1996.

In 1997, he teamed with Balls Mahoney as the Hardcore Chair Swinging Freaks. They, along with Spike Dudley and New Jack, feuded primarily with the Dudley Boyz until he left ECW in early 1999. He would perform primarily on the independent circuit for the decade and a half, competing most notably for Xtreme Pro Wrestling, Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, and in one-off ECW reunion shows for WWE and TNA, and non-affiliated Hardcore Homecoming and Extreme Reunion.

A spinal injury in his final years forced Knighton to retire and confined him to a wheelchair. On February 4, 2016, Knighton was found dead in a McDonald's bathroom in Linthicum, Maryland. An autopsy later revealed it was an accidental heroin overdose that contributed to his death. He was 44.

Today is the 58th birthday of Edward Harrison Leslie. Known under a more than a dozen gimmick names, including Brute Force, Brother Bruti, The Butcher, The Clipmaster, The Disciple, Dizzy Hogan, The Man With No Name, The Man With No Face, and The Zodiac, Leslie is best known to wrestling fans as Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake.

Leslie broke into the wrestling business in 1977 as Ed Boulder, the brother of Terry Boulder, aka Hulk Hogan. Leslie wrestled primarily for Mid-South Wrestling, and occasionally the WWF from 1980 to 1982 before joining the WWF full time in 1984. In an important side nugget, Leslie and Hogan were almost always tied at the hip professionally; so much so, the two early in their career were confused for being brothers.

Intially brought in as the vain Brutus Beefcake, he was managed by Luscious Johnny Valiant. The next year, he joined Greg "The Hammer" Valentine as The Dream Team. The duo won the WWF Tag Team Championship in August 1985, holding them until Wrestlemania 2 when they were defeated by the British Bulldogs.

Leslie's most famous gimmick was born just before Wrestlemania III. The combination of Beefcake accidentally cutting Adrian Adonis' hair just before the event, and being left behind by Dino Bravo and Valiant opened the door for the face turn. After Roddy Piper defeated Adrian Adonis at Wrestlemania III, Beefcake would shave Adrian's head (per pre-match stipulations). Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake was born.

Beefcake would feud with Honky Tonk Man over the Intercontinental Championship in 1988, and was set to win the Intercontinental title at the first Summerslam, but was taken out by Ron Bass. In 1989, Beefcake feuded with Randy Savage; that feud would intertwine with Hulk Hogan's feud with Zeus, leading to a pair of bouts in the latter half of 1989, at Summerslam and at No Holds Barred: The Movie/The Match in a steel cage. Both bouts were on by Hogan and Beefcake. At Wrestlemania VI the following April, Beefcake became the first man to defeat Mr. Perfect in a televised singles match.

In August 1990, Beefcake, again on the books to win the Intercontinental Championship, suffered a severe facial injury while parasailing. The driver mistook a cue to take off, and Leslie's friend's feet crushed his facial skeleton. Over 100 metal plates were needed to repair the damage. The injury would keep Beefcake away from the ring for more than two years.

It would not be until the following year Beefcake returned to television (a masked gimmick played by Leslie in early 1991 never made it to television), hosting a talking segment called "The Barber Shop". The segment is most famous for Shawn Michaels' breakup of the Rockers (complete with Shawn throwing Marty Janetty through the set's window) late in the year and Sid Justice destroying the set to build his feud with Hulk Hogan.

Beefcake returned to the ring in early 1993 with a disqualification victory over Ted DiBiase. Brutus' facial injuries would become storyline fodder in the runup to Wrestlemania IX, where the returning Hogan and Beefcake, together as the Mega-Maniacs took on Money Inc. for the tag team championship. The Mega-Maniacs would gain a measure of revenge, but lose on disqualification. It would be Beefcake's final televised bout. He would wrestle exclusively on the house show circuit and internationally until his contract expired in August.

Leslie followed Hogan to WCW in 1994. He appeared primarily as Hulk's bodyguard Brother Bruti. That October, after Hogan defeated Ric Flair in a steel cage match, a masked man, who had been attacking Hogan for months, tried to attack Hogan again. This time, he was caught and unmasked. It was revealed to be Brother Bruti, who would be renamed The Butcher. He along with Kevin Sullivan and Avalanche formed the Three Faces of Fear. The feud led to Leslie's highest-profile bout, a world title main event bout at Starrcade in December 1994 against Hogan, which Butcher lost.

Leslie's vendetta with Hogan would continue into the following year. The group broke up in May 1995, at which point The Butcher became an amnesiac and would be known as the Man with No Name (and also the Man with No Face). Leslie rejoined Sullivan later in the year as the Zodiac, a black-and-white face-painted character who only replied with "Yes!" or "No!" The Zodiac, as it turned out, was a mole for Hogan in his feud with Sullivan's Dungeon of Doom.

In 1996, Leslie became known as The Booty Man, a man infatuated with his own booty (this is a real thing that happened) and had a high knee finisher (as in hiney). He was accompanied by "The Booty Babe" Kimberly Page and feuded with Diamond Dallas Page. The gimmick was phased out around the time the New World Order came into focus. Beefcake tried to join the group, but was attacked by Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hollywood Hogan. Leslie disappeared from WCW programming for more than a year.

Leslie would return as the almost-unrecognizable Disciple, Hollywood Hogan's bodyguard, in February 1998. The Disciple would be outed by Roddy Piper during his feud with Hollywood Hogan. The Disciple would often assist Hogan in beatdowns of his adversaries, often using his new finisher, The Apocalypse (basically the Stone Cold Stunner).

Later that year, The Disciple was abducted by The Warrior. He was brainwashed and eventually became the second member of the One Warrior Nation. After Warrior left WCW, the Disciple was essentially depushed to jobber status before being released in January 1999.

After leaving WCW, he wrestled primarily on the independent circuit and started a wrestling school. Leslie was also a coach on the lone season of Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling. He was on the Hulkamania: Let the Battle Begin tour of Australia in late 2009, and also comepeted in a celebrity boxing event, losing to competitive eater Bill Simmons (no relation to the sports journalist of the same name).

Leslie married long-time girlfriend Melissa Caruso in August 2013. He married two previous times, first to Kirsten Georgi in 1987, then to Barbara McGondel in 1994. Leslie has one daughter from his second marriage, 19-year old Alana. He managed a gym in the Boston area before returning to the ring in 2010.

Leslie was ranked among the best singles and tag team wrestlers in the world in the PWI Years in 2003 by Pro Wrestling Illustrated (#173 and #94 with Greg Valentine, respectively), and was the #75 singles wrestler in the world by the same publication in the 1995 PWI 500.

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