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This Day in Wrestling History (May 17): The Bruno Sammartino Era Begins

53 years ago today in New York City, Bruno Sammartino defeats Buddy Rogers in just 55 seconds to win the WWWF Championship.

Sammartino would hold the championship for the remainder of the 1960s and wouldn't lose it until January 18, 1971, a full 400 weeks later. That's over seven and a half years, two years longer than the next longest reign (Bob Backlund from 1978 to 1983), and by far the longest world championship reign in WWE's long history.

30 years ago today in Hammond, Indiana, Playboy Buddy Rose and Doug Somers defeated Scott Hall and Curt Hennig by countout to win the AWA World Tag Team Championship. Though it was later explained that for this match, the championships could change hands via countout, no specific reason was given why.

30 years ago today in Baltimore, Maryland, Dusty Rhodes and the Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) defated Baron Von Raschke and the Koloffs (Ivan & Nikita) to win the NWA Six-Man Tag Team Championship.

24 years ago today, WCW presented Wrestlewar '92 (WWE Network link) from the Jacksonville Coliseum in Jacksonville, Florida. About 6,000 were in attendance, with 105,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 150,000 homes for Superbrawl I, the event held in May 1991.

  • In a preshow dark match, Diamond Dallas Page and Thomas Rich defeated Bob Cook and Firebreaker Chip.
  • The Freebirds (Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes) defeated Terry Taylor and Greg Valentine to win the WCW United States Tag Team Championship.
  • Johnny B. Badd defeated Tracy Smothers.
  • Scotty Flamingo defeated Marcus Bagwell.
  • Ron Simmons defeated Mr. Hughes.
  • Super Invader defeated Todd Champion.
  • Big Josh defeated Richard Morton.
  • Brian Pillman defeated Tom Zenk to retain the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship.
  • The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner and Scott Steiner) defeated Tatsumi Fujinami and Takayuki Iizuka to become #1 contenders for the IWGP Tag Team Championship.
  • Sting's Squadron (Sting, Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff) defeated The Dangerous Alliance (Steve Austin, Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton and Larry Zbyszko) in a WarGames match. The bout was awarded five stars by Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the second straight year the WrestleWar main event got such a rating.

23 years ago today on Monday Night RAW from the Manhattan Center in New York City (WWE Network link), Marty Jannetty in his first match back with the WWF after being fired following the 1993 Royal Rumble, defeated his former tag team partner Shawn Michaels to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship. It would be Jannetty's only singles championship with the company.

On the same show, The Kid defeated Razor Ramon in what is still considered one of the biggest upsets in WWF history. Post-match, Randy Savage led the crowd in a chant of "1-2-3" towards Ramon. Naturally, he would soon be known as The 1-2-3 Kid. The name stuck until he left the company in 1996.

21 years ago today, Savio Vega makes his WWF in-ring debut during an Action Zone taping and defeats Eli Blu.

19 years ago today, Terry Funk defeated Raven, Stevie Richards, and The Sandman in an elimination match. During the bout, Funk dropped a steel barrier on to Richards' back and neck, injuring him. It would be Stevie's last match in ECW; he announced his retirement from wrestling soon after. His retirement less than two months; he signed with WCW that summer—then would be released that fall after he fails a physical.

18 years ago today, WCW presented Slamboree (WWE Network link) from the Worcester Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts. 11,592 were in attendance, with 275,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 220,000 homes for the 1997 edition.

  • Fit Finlay defeated Chris Benoit to retain the WCW World Television Championship.
  • Lex Luger defeated Brian Adams.
  • Ciclope defeated Chavo Guerrero Jr., Damien, El Dandy, El Giro, Evan Karagias, Johnny Swinger, Juventud Guerrera, Kidman, Lenny Lane, Marty Jannetty, Psychosis, Silver King, Super Calo, and Villano IV in a battle royal to earn a WCW Cruiserweight Championship match. Turned out it wasn't Ciclope really; it was the returning Dean Malenko.
  • Dean Malenko defeated Chris Jericho via submission to win the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.
  • Diamond Dallas Page defeated Raven in a bowery deathmatch.
  • Eddie Guerrero defeated Ultimo Dragon.
  • Goldberg defeated Perry Saturn to retain the WCW United States Championship.
  • Bret Hart defeated Randy Savage by disqualification. Rowdy Roddy Piper was the special referee.
  • Sting & The Giant defeated The Outsiders (Kevin Nash & Scott Hall) to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.

7 years ago today, WWE presented Judgment Day (WWE Network link) from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. 14,822 were in attendance, with 228,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 252,000 homes for the 2008 event.

  • In a preshow dark match, Mickie James defeated Beth Phoenix.
  • Umaga defeated CM Punk.
  • Christian defeated Jack Swagger to retain the ECW Championship.
  • John Morrison defeated Shelton Benjamin.
  • Rey Mysterio defeated Chris Jericho to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Batista defeated Randy Orton by disqualification in a WWE Championship Match.
  • John Cena defeated The Big Show.
  • Edge defeated Jeff Hardy to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.

6 years ago today on RAW from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Bret Hart defeated The Miz via submission in a no disqualification match to win the WWE United States Championship. It would be Hart's first major championship win since Bret won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 1999.

5 years ago today at an Impact Wrestling taping at Universal Orlando, Eric Young defeated Gunner to win the TNA Television Championship.

4 years ago today, TNA announces via press release that Brooke Hogan, Hulk Hogan's daughter, signed a deal with TNA. The press release:


New York, NY, May 17, 2012 - Television personality and recording artist Brooke Hogan is joining the cast of the highly-rated weekly wrestling program, TNA's "IMPACT WRESLTING" starting Thursday, May 31 on Spike TV. Brooke's role will be as the Executive in Charge of the female wrestling division, The Knockouts.

Brooke will join a star-studded cast of the biggest names in professional wrestling, including her father, wrestling legend Hulk Hogan. TNA's flagship series, "IMPACT WRESLTING," telecasts on Spike TV and is one of the network's top-rated series on Thursday nights with young men and currently ranks among the top shows on cable in its timeslot with Men 18-34.

In addition to overseeing the traditional duties of the Knockouts Division, Brooke will bring a new energy and direction to the role working with the girls in a variety of capacities.

"I have really gotten to know Brooke by working with her on her music career this past year and a half," said Dixie Carter, President of TNA Wrestling. "When we did talk wrestling, I not only loved her passion and knowledge of it, but the fresh, creative ideas she would come up with. She is very savvy. I asked if she would consider teaming up with me in this capacity while she also worked on her music, and I was thrilled when she said ‘yes.' A big personality runs in her genes, obviously, and I know she is going to take an already exciting division of Impact Wrestling to another level."

Brooke is heading to New York next week for a media tour to promote her addition to the IMPACT WRESTLING team. Brooke will also promote "IMPACT WRESTLING's" move to 8 PM and that the series will telecast LIVE for the summer starting Thursday, May 31. TNA's 10th anniversary SLAMMIVERSARY pay-per-view-event is set for June 10th in Dallas, Texas.

The TNA roster features many of the top names in wrestling including the aforementioned Hulk Hogan, Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Bobby Roode, Sting, James Storm, Rob Van Dam, and the lovely and lethal Knockouts.

Brooke Hogan, a native of Tampa, Fl, is a successful television personality, singer and songwriter. Brooke starred in two acclaimed non-scripted shows on Spike's sister network, VH1, including "Hogan Knows Best" and the spinoff, "Brooke Knows Best." Both were #1 rated shows for the network. Brooke has also released two albums, "Undiscovered" in 2006 which peaked at #28 on the Billboard Hot 100, and "The Redemption" in 2009. Her song, "Everything To Me," peaked at #1 twice on Billboard's Top Single Chart. Hogan's film credits include "Little Hercules in 3D," "Sand Sharks," and "Devour."

The reality star/singer/actress would only last a year with the company before being released due to budget cuts.

4 years ago today, NXT held its very first TV taping from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.

Taping #1 (airing June 20):

  • In a dark match, Xavier Woods defeated Dean Ambrose.
  • Bo Dallas defeated Rick Victor.
  • The Ascension (Conor O'Brian & Kenneth Cameron) defeated CJ Parker & Mike Dalton.
  • Tyson Kidd defeated Michael McGillicutty by submission.

Taping #2 (airing June 27):

  • Seth Rollins defeated Jiro.
  • Jinder Mahal defeated Jason Jordan by submission.
  • Leo Kruger defeated Aiden English by submission
  • The Ascension (Conor O'Brian & Kenneth Cameron) defeated The Usos (Jimmy & Jey).
  • Richie Steamboat defeated Rick Victor.
  • Antonio Cesaro defeated Dante Dash.
  • Derrick Bateman defeated Johnny Curtis.

Taping #3 (airing July 4):

  • In a dark match, R-Truth defeated Epico.
  • Sofia Cortez defeated Paige.
  • Seth Rollins defeated Camacho.
  • Corey Graves & Jake Carter defeated CJ Parker & Nick Rogers.
  • Kassius Ohno defeated Mike Dalton.
  • Jinder Mahal defeated Derrick Bateman by submission.
  • Hunico, Camacho, and Michael McGillicutty defeated Bo Dallas, Seth Rollins, and Tyson Kidd.
  • In a post-show dark match, Richie Steamboat defeated Leo Kruger.
  • In a post-show dark match, Bray Wyatt defeated Aiden English.
  • In a post-show dark match, Sheamus defeated Alberto Del Rio to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.

3 years ago today, WWE cleans house in their developmental program to coincide with the opening of their Performance Center in Orlando.

Given their walking papers were Derrick Bateman, the winner of NXT Redemption, Ryan Nemeth, the younger brother of then-World Heavyweight Champion Dolph ZIggler, Percy Watson, a member of the NXT Season 2 cast, Brandon Traven, a Harley Race protégé in Missouri, Anna Bogomazova, a Russian kickboxer, Audrey Marie, and Sakomoto, who was paired with Tensai in 2012.

2 years ago today, Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling co-presented War of the Worlds from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.

  • In a preshow match, Caprice Coleman defeated Adam Page.
  • ACH, Matt Taven, and Tommaso Ciampa defeated Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero) and Takaaki Watanabe.
  • The Decade (B.J. Whitmer and Roderick Strong) defeated The World Class Tag Team (Gedo and Jado).
  • Jay Lethal defeated Kushida to retain the ROH World Television Championship.
  • Bullet Club (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson) defeated The Briscoe Brothers (Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe) to retain the IWGP Tag Team Championship.
  • Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Kevin Steen.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Mike Bennett.
  • reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly) defeated The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) to win the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
  • Adam Cole defeated Jushin Liger to retain the ROH World Championship.
  • A.J. Styles defeated Kazuchika Okada and Michael Elgin in a three-way match to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

1 year ago today, WWE presented Payback from the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. About 10,000 were in attendance, with 54,000 homes watching via traditional PPV.

  • In a kickoff show match, R-Truth defeated Stardust.
  • In a kickoff show match, The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) defeated The Meta Powers (Macho Mandow & AxelMania).
  • Sheamus defeated Dolph Ziggler.
  • The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) defeated Cesaro & Tyson Kidd 2-1 in a best of three falls match to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Bray Wyatt defeated Ryback.
  • John Cena defeated Rusev in a "I Quit" Match to retain the WWE United States Championship.
  • Naomi & Tamina Snuka defeated The Bella Twins (Brie Bella & Nikki Bella).
  • Neville defeated King Barrett by countout.
  • Seth Rollins defeated Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton, and Roman Reigns in a fatal four-way match to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

It's a happy 49th birthday for Lori Fullington.

Lori's best known for her time in ECW as Peaches (as in peaches and cream from the song "Mr. Sandman"—suddenly the Sandman gimmick name makes sense), where she was involved in angles with her real-life husband Jim Fullington, aka The Sandman.

Lori was revealed to be The Sandman's wife in her second ECW run in 1996 during The Sandman's feud with Raven, where the latter brainwashed her and her son Tyler. The family reconciled in 1997 after Raven turned on the Fullingtons.

Lori's last involvement with ECW came in 2000 during The Sandman's feud with The Network, where in a span of four months, she was gored through a table, piledriven through a table, and got a swirlie (head dunked in a toilet) on PPV all at the hands of Rhino.

Lori and Jim are no longer married, but the couple had three children: Kelly, now age 29, Tyler (age 27), and Oliver (age 22). Tyler made his professional wrestling debut as Twisted Sand in August 2008.

It's a happy 67th birthday for twin referees Earl and Dave Hebner.

Dave began refereeing in the Richmond area in the late 1970s, while Earl got his start with Jim Crockett Promotions. Dave was most famous for refereeing the Randy Savage versus Ricky Steamboat match at Wrestlemania III, whileEarl is best known for refereeing the "I Quit" match between Magnun T.A. and Tully Blanchard in 1985 and the first ever televised WarGames match in 1987.

Their most famous moment together came during The Main Event (WWE Network link) in February 1988 in the infamous "twin referees" storyline. Dave, the original referee, was locked in a closet while Earl quick counted Hulk Hogan down to end his four-year WWF Championship run and award the title to Andre the Giant. Of course this turned out to be an elaborate conspiracy that involved evil Earl, Andre, and Ted DiBiase. Dave came out afterwards and there was much confusion. In that confusion, Earl kicked Dave and legit broke his ribs, pretty much killing the planned storyline dead. Earl ended up coming clean and was a mostly model referee for the next decade, serving as the third man for many of WWF's most important matches.

Earl, of course, was the third man in the ring during the infamous Montreal Screwjob in November 1997. Because of his role in the incident, he was chastised for years, especially in Canada. Earl and Bret have spoken to one another about the incident and revealed in a 2011 interview that he and Bret had since buried the hatchet.

The Hebners were released in July 2005 after allegedly getting busted for selling counterfeit WWE merchandise. They both would land in TNA (Dave in December 2005, Earl in February 2006). Earl is still refereeing for the company today. Earl's son Brian is also a referee for TNA, and his daughter Katie is training to become a wrestler. Dave is also still in the business, managing the Lumberjacks of the Mid-Michigan Wrestling Association. Earl was inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame in 2015.

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