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This Day in Wrestling History (May 23): The death of Owen Hart

24 years ago today at a WCW Saturday Night taping in Atlanta, Georgia, Steve Austin defeated Barry Windham to win the WCW World Television Championship.

23 years ago today, WCW presented Slamboree: A Legends Reunion (WWE Network link) from the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia. 7,200 were in attendance, with 100,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 105,000 for the May 1992 event, Wrestlewar '92.

The WCW Hall of Fame also had its inaugural class, including Lou Thesz, Mr. Wrestling II, Verne Gagne, and Eddie Graham. Also honored at the event were The Assassin, Ox Baker, Red Bastien, Lord James Blears, The Crusher, The Fabulous Moolah, Greg Gagne, Bob Geigel, Stu Hart, Magnum T.A., Bugsy McGraw, Don Owen, Dusty Rhodes, Grizzly Smith, John Tolos, Mad Dog Vachon, and Johnny Valentine. Also at the event, the Four Horsemen reformed with Ric Flair, Ole and Arn Anderson, and Paul Roma.

  • Marcus Alexander Bagwell & Too Cold Scorpio defeated Bobby Eaton & Chris Benoit.
  • Sid Vicious defeated Van Hammer in just 35 seconds.
  • Blackjack Mulligan, Jim Brunzell & Wahoo McDaniel vs. Dick Murdoch, Don Muraco & Jimmy Snuka ended in a no contest in a legends match.
  • Brad Armstrong & Thunderbolt Patterson defeat Baron von Raschke & Ivan Koloff in a legends match.
  • Dory Funk Jr. and Nick Bockwinkel went to a 15-minute time limit draw in a legends match.
  • Paul Orndorff & Rick Rude defeated Dustin Rhodes & Kensuke Sasaki.
  • Sting defeated The Prisoner.
  • The Hollywood Blondes (Flyin' Brian & Stunning Steve) defeat Dos Hombres (Ricky Steamboat & Tom Zenk) in a steel cage match to retain the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
  • Barry Windham defeated Arn Anderson to retain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Davey Boy Smith defeated Big Van Vader by disqualification in a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match.

17 years ago today, WWF presented Over the Edge (WWE Network link) from the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. 16,472 were in attendance, with 416,000 homes watching on PPV. That's more than double for the 1998 edition (211,000 homes).

The event is most remembered for the sudden passing of Owen Hart, who was scheduled to face The Godfather for the Intercontinental Championship. He was 34. Hart, as the Blue Blazer, was to descend from the rafters when the release mechanism activated far too early. He fell some 78 feet to his death.

Despite the accident, the show went on to its conclusion, a decision debated by many to this day. The death was acknowledged to home viewers, but not to those in attendance. The Hart family would later file a wrongful death lawsuit, but would settle with the WWF out of court. WWF later would successfully sue the company that manufactured the harness. Owen's widow Martha Hart would sue the company again for using his name and likeness without the estate's permission and back royalties. That case would be settled just before they were to go to court over it.

As for the event itself, it was never released on home video in any form; in fact, the first commercial release of the event was on February 24, 2014, the day of the WWE Network launch. All references to Owen Hart have been removed from the broadcast, the events of the evening are mentioned prior to the beginning of the video along with a tribute graphic.

A profile of the career and life of Owen Hart can be read here.

  • In a Sunday Night Heat preshow match, Meat defeated Brian Christopher.
  • In a Sunday Night Heat preshow match, The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy) defeated Goldust & The Blue Meanie
  • In a Sunday Night Heat preshow match, Vince McMahon and Mideon went to a no contest.
  • Kane & X-Pac defeated D'Lo Brown & Mark Henry to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • Al Snow defeated Hardcore Holly to retain the WWF Hardcore Championship.
  • Nicole Bass & Val Venis defeated Debra & Jeff Jarrett.
  • Mr. Ass defeated Road Dogg.
  • The Union (Ken Shamrock, Mankind, Test & The Big Show) defeated The Corporate Ministry (Bradshaw, Faarooq, The Big Bossman & Viscera) in an elimination tag team match.
  • The Rock defeated Triple H by disqualification.
  • The Undertaker defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin to win the WWF Championship. Shane and Vince McMahon were special referees.

Kevin Nash vs. Jeff Jarrett vs... by sir-roddick

16 years ago today at a Thunder taping in Saginaw, Michigan, Kevin Nash defeated Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner in a three-way match to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. This is the fifth (yes, fifth) time WCW's top prize has changed hands during the month, and the ninth time since WCW's reboot on April 10.

11 years ago today on RAW from Green Bay, Wisconsin (WWE Network link), Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff, and Paul Heyman, owners of the big three promotions in the Monday Night Wars, stood in the same ring to promote the ECW One Night Stand. It is believed to be the first time the three met face to face to face on a television show.

10 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Bakersfield, California, Bobby Lashley defeated John "Bradshaw" Layfield in just 82 seconds to win the WWE United States Championship.

In the show's main event, Rey Mysterio defeated Layfield to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. As a result of the loss, Layfield retired. The retirement, of course, did not stick, and Layfield was back in the ring about 18 months later. Ironically, Layfield would be retired for good at Wrestlemania 25 at the hands of Rey Mysterio.

9 years ago today, Jill Jarrett, wife of TNA founder Jeff Jarrett, passed away after a long battle with cancer. She was instrumental in TNA's early years, particularly with overseeing the upgrades of the TNA Asylum in Nashville.

6 years ago today, WWE presented Over the Limit (WWE Network link) from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. About 11,000 were in attendance, with 197,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 228,000 homes for the May 2009 event, Judgment Day.

  • In a dark match, Montel Vontavious Porter defeated Chavo Guerrero.
  • Kofi Kingston defeated Drew McIntyre to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • R-Truth defeated Ted DiBiase.
  • Rey Mysterio defeated CM Punk. With the win, CM Punk was forced to shave his head. Had Rey lost, he would have been forced to join the Straight Edge Society.
  • The Hart Dynasty (David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd) defeated The Miz & Chris Jericho to retain the WWE Unified Tag Team Championship.
  • Randy Orton and Edge fought to a double countout.
  • Big Show defeated Jack Swagger by disqualification in a World Heavyweight Championship match.
  • Eve defeated Maryse to retain the WWE Divas Championship.
  • John Cena defeated Batista in an "I Quit" match to retain the WWE Championship. It would be Batista's last bout in WWE; the next night, he quit the company. He would not return until January 2014.

6 years ago today on RAW from Portland, Oregon, The New Nexus (David Otunga & Michael McGillicutty) defeated The Big Show & Kane to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.

3 years ago today at an NXT taping in Winter Park, Florida, Bo Dallas defeated Big E. Langston to win the NXT Championship.

3 years ago today on Impact from Tampa, Florida, Mickie James defeated Velvet Sky to win the TNA Knockouts Championship.

It's a happy 33rd birthday for Patrick Martin, but he's best known to wrestling fans as Alex Shelley.

Shelley is best known as one half of the Motor City Machine Guns with Chris Sabin. Shelley has won championships for over a dozen organizations, most notably in TNA, where he competed for eight years, and for New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he's competed on and off since 2009 and exclusively since 2012.

Shelley won the TNA world tag team championship with Sabin as well as the X Division Championship once each. He was also on the winning team in the TNA World X Cup in 2006. Shelley is a three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, with two of the three coming as one half of the Timesplitters with Kushida (the other coming with Sabin). The Timesplitters also won the 2012 IWGP Super Junior Tag Tournament.

Shelley has frequented Ring of Honor off and on since 2003, winning the Trios Tournament with Abyss and Jimmy Rave in 2006. After sporadically appearing for the company from 2007 to 2014, Shelley confirmed earlier this month that he had signed a deal to work more regularly with the promotion.

It's a happy 58th birthday for Andrew Allison Carey, or Drew Carey for short.

A former member of the US Marine Corps Reserve, Carey took up stand-up comedy in 1985. His first national exposure came on a 1988 episode of Star Search; three years later, Carey performed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson; Carson was so impressed, he got to sit on the couch by his desk, a rare honor for comedians at the time.

In 1995, Carey along with Bruce Helford developed and produced The Drew Carey Show, which was based on a fictionalized version of his life. The show aired 233 episodes over nine years ; escalating production costs, said to be around $3 million an episode in its late run combined with declining ratings led to its cancellation in 2004. From 1998 to 2006, Carey hosted the American version of improv comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?; his co-stars from The Drew Carey Show were regulars on the series.

Carey would host two more improv shows, Drew Carey's Green Screen Show in 2004 and 2005 (it was a spin-off of Whose Line Is It Anyway?) and Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza in 2011, a sort of reboot of Green Screen Show.

Carey briefly hosted Power of 10, a game show featuring contestants predicting how a cross-section of the American populace responded to a variety of situations, for CBS in 2007 and 2008. It was while filming the pilot for Power of 10 he was considered to replace Bob Barker on The Price is Right. After initially turning it down, Carey accepted the gig later in the summer.

You're all waiting for the wrestling connection, so here it is: while promoting an improv PPV in 2001, Drew Carey was a guest of Vince McMahon for the Royal Rumble event; he entered the show's titular match at #5, lasting just under three minutes before eliminating himself.

Carey, a huge fan of Cleveland's sports teams (and minority owner of Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders), was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.

Today would have been the 74th birthday of Mary Alfonsi, best known to wrestling fans as Donna Christianello.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Christanello was employed as a waitress when after some contacts, connected with The Fabulous Moolah. She and her friend moved to South Carolina in 1963 to train with Moolah. While her friend lasted just one match, Donna would last nearly 30 years in the business. In 1969, she competed on an Australian tour that featured Rita and Betty Boucher, Evelyn Stevens, and Toni Rose, who would go on to be the long-time tag team partner of Christanello.

Toni and Donna won the NWA Womens World Tag Team Championship in 1970 and would hold them for most of the next three years before losing them to Joyce Grable and Vicki Williams in Madison Square Garden. The titles would be defended in the NWA, AWA, and eventually land in the WWF as the first women's tag champions.

Christanello would have a run in the WWF, highlighted by competing in the first all-ladies Survivor Series match in 1987, where she would team with one of her protégés, Sensational Sherri Martel. Christanello would live with the Fabulous Moolah off and on for over 35 years before moving back home to Pittsburgh. Post-retirement, she worked for Wal-Mart's accounting department. Her niece, Marie Minor, was in the wrestling business in 1980s as Angie Minelli.

On August 25, 2011, Mary died of chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease (COPD) in her hometown of Pittsburgh. She was 69. At the time of her death, Mary was survived in her immediate family by her son James, and two siblings, brother Tom and sister Theresa. She was also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Donna is a member of the 2009 class of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.

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