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This Day in Wrestling History (May 18): British Bulldog Passes Away

24 years ago today, WWF taped the 300th episode of Wrestling Challenge from the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Debuting in September 1986 (one day after its sister show WWF Superstars of Wrestling debuted), Wrestling Challenge followed a similar format to Superstars, recapping recent events, airing mostly squash matches, and promoting upcoming house shows and TV tapings. The show would last for ten years, ending in September 1996.

  • Bret Hart defeated Brian Costello by submission.
  • The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags) defeated Kevin Kruger & Shawn Patrick. At 2 minutes, 41 seconds, this is the longest match on the episode.
  • The Undertaker defeated Dan Robbins.
  • Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster) defeated Butler Stevens & George Anderson.
  • Virgil defeated Kato.
  • Repo Man defeated Chris Hahn.
  • The Legion of Doom (Animal & Hawk) defeated Burt Stiles & Red Tyler.

19 years ago today, WCW presented Slamboree (WWE Network link) from the Independence Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. 9,643 were in attendance, with 220,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 155,000 homes for the 1996 edition of the event.

  • Steven Regal defeated Ultimo Dragon via submission to win the WCW World Television Championship.
  • Madusa defeated Luna Vachon.
  • Rey Misterio Jr. defeated Yuji Yasuraoka.
  • Glacier defeated Mortis by disqualification.
  • Dean Malenko defeated Jeff Jarrett via submission to retain the WCW United States Championship.
  • Meng defeated Chris Benoit via submission in a deathmatch.
  • The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner) defeated The Dungeon of Doom (Hugh Morrus & Konnan).
  • Steve McMichael defeated Reggie White.
  • Kevin Greene, Ric Flair, and Roddy Piper defeated The nWo (Kevin Nash, Scott Hall & Syxx).

14 years ago today, Davey Boy Smith, also known to wrestling fans as The British Bulldog, dies of a heart attack in Invermere, British Columbia. He was just 39.

Smith was one of the greatest to never hold a major world championship in pro wrestling history. First achieving stardom and success as one of half of the British Bulldogs with his cousin Tom "The Dynamite Kid" Billington (the duo won the WWF Tag Team Championship in 1986), Smith struck it big on his own as a singles competitor, winning the WWF Intercontinental Championship in front of over 80,000 of his countrymen at Summerslam 1992 from his brother-in-law Bret Hart.

In 1997, Smith won a tournament to become the first WWF European Champion, defeating another of his brothers-in-law, Owen Hart in the final. He lost that championship in his home country at One Night Only in September 1997 to Shawn Michaels. He also held WWF tag team championship gold with Owen.

He left WWF following the Montreal Screwjob and had minimal success in his second run in WCW in 1998 (he had somewhat moderate success there in his first run in 1993) before being hospitalized with a spinal infection after landing awkwardly on a trap door during a match. Smith had one last run with the WWF in 1999, and though he challenged for the WWF Championship, he never won it, though he did win the hardcore and European titles. He was released from the WWF late in 2000, a few months after Davey and his wife Diana divorced.

Around that time, Bulldog was sent to rehab due to his addiction to prescription painkillers and morphine. Rumors of his relapse led to his release. At the time of his death, Smith had been training for a comeback and even wrestled three matches that weekend with his son Harry. An autopsy revealed that anabolic steroids and other drugs, combined with the stress on his body, led to his death.

14 years and six days ago today, Eric Kulas died from complications of gastric bypass surgery at his home in Cranston, Rhode Island. He was just 22.

Kulas lives on in pro wrestling infamy for his role in a match in Revere, Massachusetts in 1996. Known as "The Mass Transit Incident", Kulas, wrestling as said Mass Transit, got on an ECW house show as a fill-in for Axl Rotten in a tag team match with D-Von Dudley against The Gangstas.

Kulas, who had just turned 18 at the time of the match (though his father screamed he was 17), lied to ECW owner/booker Paul Heyman not just about his age (he said he was 19), but his credentials (he claimed he was trained by Killer Kowalksi... which could have easily been verified seeing Kowalski was actually in the building that evening).

Kulas bladed profusely during the bout (New Jack cut a little deeper than usual) and Kulas was beaten with toasters, crutches, and whatever else was in the area. The event was not televised, but a fan cam recorded the event, which would later be used in legal proceedings. The video went viral among the Internet wrestling community.

The incident would lead to the cancellation of ECW's first PPV, Barely Legal. Through some begging and pleading, the PPV, originally scheduled for Christmas Eve 1996, went on under certain conditions in April 1997. New Jack was charged with assault, but was ultimately acquitted. Kulas sued New Jack and ECW for emotional distress and permanent disfigurement, but the suit was dismissed.

13 years ago today, WWE presented Judgment Day (WWE Network link) from the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. About 13,000 were in attendance, with 315,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 373,000 for the 2002 event. The event is noted for the return of the WWE Intercontinental Championship. It was unified with the World Heavyweight Championship the previous September, then deactivated.

  • In a Sunday Night Heat preshow match, The Hurricane defeated Steven Richards.
  • John Cena and The F.B.I. (Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli) defeated Rhyno, Spanky and Chris Benoit.
  • La Résistance (Sylvain Grenier and René Duprée) defeated Test and Scott Steiner.
  • Eddie Guerrero and Tajiri defeated Team Angle (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) in a ladder match to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Christian last eliminated Booker T in an over-the-top-rope battle royal to win the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship. Other participants were former Intercontinental Champions Val Venis, Chris Jericho, Lance Storm, Test, Rob Van Dam, Kane, and Goldust.
  • Torrie Wilson defeated Sable in a bikini contest.
  • Mr. America defeated Roddy Piper.
  • Kevin Nash defeated Triple H by disqualification in a World Heavyweight Championship match.
  • Jazz defeated Victoria, Jacqueline, and Trish Stratus in a fatal four-way match to retain the WWE Womens Championship.
  • Brock Lesnar defeated The Big Show in a stretcher match to retain the WWE Championship.

12 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Las Vegas, Nevada, Chavo Guerrero, Sr. (wrestling as Chavo Classic) defeated his son Chavo Guerrero, Jr. and Spike Dudley in a triple threat match to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

11 years ago today, Diamond Dallas Page reportedly released from TNA. Sources reported that management was not happy with Page not putting over Monty Brown without outside interference from Phi Delta Slam. Some believe the move was purely political and it was connected with Dusty Rhodes stepping down from his booking duties.

On the same day, Jeff Hardy was suspended from TNA after arriving several hours late for Hard Justice. Hardy, who was scheduled to face Raven, was replaced by Sean Waltman.

9 years ago today, WWE cleans house, releasing developmental talent Angel Williams, ECW vixen Shelly Martinez (who was working as Ariel), as well as Scotty 2 Hotty and Spirit Squader Nick "Mitch" Mitchell.

Williams, who was released the same week she debuted for Ohio Valley Wrestling, would head to TNA after a brief stop in AAA. She would become TNA's most successful female competitor, winning their Knockouts Championship six times and their tag titles once. Williams recently gave birth to her first child, David Vincent Richards, named after the ring name of her husband, Davey Richards.

In a 2013 interview, Martinez alleged her release was as a result of a confrontation she had with Dave Batista, specifically over his relationship with Melina. Since her release, she had a stint in TNA as Salinas, done modeling, reality television, and appeared on the independent circuit. Martinez returned to TNA earlier this year for the Knockouts Knockdown 4 special in a losing effort to Rebel. The match has been panned as among the worst this year, if not ever.

In a 2009 interview, Mitchell alleged that his relationship with then-WWE diva Torrie Wilson stifled his success with the company, saying that he was "a young, fresh meat WWE guy who 'didn't deserve' the most beautiful diva". Mitchell and Wilson dated for five years before breaking up in 2011. Mitchell retired from wrestling in 2008, and began training for MMA. He lost his only MMA fight in 2010.

Scotty 2 Hotty, real name Scott Garland, still occasionally wrestles today, and even made multiple appearances for WWE since his release. Garland has wrestled as Scotty the Hotty and Scotty 2 Hotty for over 30 different promotions since leaving WWE in 2007, including IWA out of Puerto Rico and Pro Wrestling Noah. Today, Garland's a firefighter and an EMT in Orlando, Florida.

8 years ago today, WWE presented Judgment Day (WWE Network link) from the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska. 11,324 were in attendance, with 252,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 242,000 homes for the 2007 edition.

  • John Cena defeated John "Bradshaw" Layfield.
  • John Morrison and The Miz defeated Kane and CM Punk to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Shawn Michaels defeated Chris Jericho in a non-title match.
  • Mickie James defeated Beth Phoenix and Melina in a triple threat match to retain the WWE Women's Championship.
  • The Undertaker defeated Edge by countout in a match for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Jeff Hardy defeated Montel Vontavious Porter.
  • Triple H defeated Randy Orton in a steel cage match to retain the WWE Championship.

7 years ago today, WWE and the NBA hit an impasse regarding the May 25 date at the Pepsi Center. The originally scheduled RAW was running up against what would be the fourth game of the NBA Western Conference Finals series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets.

1 year ago today on RAW from Richmond, Virginia, Kevin Steen, aka NXT Champion Kevin Owens, makes his WWE debut as a challenger in the John Cena United States Open Challenge. This comes two weeks after Owens' opponent for NXT Takeover: Unstoppable later that week, Sami Zayn, made his debut in a similar bout (Zayn injured his shoulder during his entrance).

The match never takes place as Owens attacks Cena, then gives him a pop-up powerbomb. The act sets up an Owens-Cena match for the Elimination Chamber reboot later in the month.

Plenty of birthdays today, so the profiles will be brief.

Turning a blue 43 is Brian Daniel Heffron, best known to wrestling fans as The Blue Meanie.

Inspired by the creatures of the same name in the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine, Heffron is best known for his runs in ECW from 1995-1998 and 2000 (as Blue Boy) and in the WWF from 1998-2000, with a brief return in the summer of 2005 (where he was injured at the hands of JBL at One Night Stand. Today, Heffron occasionally wrestles and is a trainer at The Monster Factory, a wrestling school in Paulsboro, New Jersey.

It's a happy 66th birthday for Jim Harris, best known to wrestling fans as The Ugandan Giant, Kamala.

Actually born in Senatobia, Mississippi, Harris moved to Florida in 1967 at the suggestion of local police (Harris had become a habitual burglar around this time). Eight years later, he landed in Michigan, where he met Bobo Brazil and began wrestling training. He trained alongside Michael Hayes, Percy Pringle, and Terry Gordy, before moving to Arkansas to further his training.

Harris made his pro debut in 1979 and would go under a few names before adopting the name Kamala. With Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler, the three molded the gimmick, a simple-minded Ugandan cannibal. He wrestled for Mid-South Wrestling in the early 1980s, then would appear off and on for the WWF for a decade. He drove a truck following his WWF run for a couple years, then had a cup of coffee in WCW in 1995. Kamala wrestled sporadically for WWE in the early and mid-2000s, most notably as part of the Gimmick Battle Royal at Wrestlemania X-Seven, but had mostly been on the independent circuit.

Harris, who also dabbled in songwriting (he's written over 100 songs, many of them about his experiences in the wrestling business), lost both his legs due to high blood pressure and diabetes. His left leg was amputated in 2011, his right leg just a year later. Today, Jim lives with his niece Ashley in his birthplace of Senatobia.

And a happy 73rd birthday to James William Reiher, best known to wrestling fans as Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.

Snuka, a former amateur bodybuilder, wrestled for several NWA territories before joining the WWF in 1982. Though he was a heel initially, fans took to his high-flying style and would become a face by 1983. In October 1983, Snuka dove from the top of the cage in Madison Square Garden onto Don Muraco. A number of wrestlers, including Bubba Ray Dudley, Tommy Dreamer, Mick Foley, and the Sandman cite this as one of the reasons they pursued a wrestling career. Snuka would be a primary player in the WWF until his release in August 1985, just a month before Hulk Hogan's Rock ‘n Wrestling debuted (he still made it in the cartoon series).

After three years in the AWA, Snuka returned to the WWF in 1989 as a jobber to the stars. Snuka is most known during this run for being the first man to lose to the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. His final television match came against Shawn Michaels in February 1992. A month later, he arrived in Eastern Championship Wrestling and became its first champion. He remained with the company until just before the name change to Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1994.

Snuka, a member of the WWE Hall of Fame class of 1996, has appeared mostly on the independents since, though he has made appearances for both WWE and WCW. He has filmed a reality show with his wife and has taken part in poker tournaments. He has two children, Jimmy Jr., and Tamina, and not surprisingly, they both wrestle.

In May 1983, Snuka was suspected, but never charged, in the death of his then-girlfriend, 23-year old Nancy Argentino. Autopsy findings showed she suffered more than a dozen cuts and bruises and died of undetermined craniocerebral injuries. The case was left open, and Argentino's parents won a civil suit in 1985.

In 2013, the case was reviewed by Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin and was turned over to a grand jury in January 2014. In September 2015, Snuka was arrested on third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges. This came just a month after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. Following his arrest, Snuka's WWE Legends contract was indefinitely suspended and his page removed from the WWE's Hall of Fame website. As for the murder case, it's still in litigation, as a hearing is taking place this month in regards to Snuka's competency to stand trial.

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