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This Day in Wrestling History (May 3): Dontaku!

24 years ago today in Chicago, IL, The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) defeated Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.

23 years ago today at NJPW Wrestling Dontaku '93 in Fukoka, Japan, Hulk Hogan defeated The Great Muta. Neither the WWF Championship held by Hogan nor the IWGP Heavyweight Championship held by Muta was at stake in the match. The event is best remembered in the States for a pre-match interview by Hogan claiming that WWF Championship he held was just a toy, and that the IWGP title was the one he really wanted. Hogan claimed the interview was mistranslated when word of the interview got to WWF officials. Hogan gave that interview in English.

A Flair for the Gold with The Hollywood Blondes by TSteck160

23 years ago today, WCW taped a "Flair for the Gold" segment featuring the Hollywood Blondes. The segment would set up Flair's return to the ring for WCW a month later.

21 years ago today, New Japan Pro Wrestling presented Wrestling Dontaku '95 from the Fukoka Dome in Fukoka, Japan.

  • Yuji Nagata defeated Manabu Nakanishi by submission.

  • Takayuki Iizuka and El Samurai defeated Norio Honaga and Akira Nogami.

  • Wild Pegasus defeated 2 Cold Scorpio.

  • Sabu defeated n Koji Kanemoto to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

  • Junji Hirata defeated Hiro Saito.

  • The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) defeated Scott Norton and Road Warrior Hawk.

  • Terry Funk and Shiro Koshinaka defeated Masahiro Chono and Hiromichi Fuyuki.

  • Ric Flair defeated Hiroshi Hase by submission.

  • Antonio Inoki and Koji Kitao defeated Riki Choshu and Genichiro Tenryu.

  • Kensuke Sasaki defeated Hiroshi Tenzan.

  • Keiji Mutoh defeated Shinya Hashimoto to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

20 years ago today, Carl Ray Stevens died in his home of a heart attack in Fremont, California. He was 60 years old.

Born September 5, 1935 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, Stevens wrestled from the age of 15; one of his mentors was "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, who called him one of the most graceful and talented wrestlers he's ever watched. Stevens' matches with Gorgeous George made him a main-eventer before he was old enough to vote. His first major championship came in August 1959 when he won the NWA World Tag Team Championship as one half of the Shire Brothers (Ray was Ray Shire, and his "brother" was Roy). The Shires once competed in a boxer versus wrestler bout with former world champion boxer Archie Moore.

Stevens reverted to his real name when he began wrestling in San Francisco in March 1961 and most famously feuded with Pepper Gomez, a man who was said to have an iron stomach. The heated rivalry drew a record crowd at the time for any event at the Cow Palace the next year. The rivalry got a little too real in 1963 when Gomez accidentally knocked out Stevens with a ring bell. Though Ray was taken to a hospital unconscious, Stevens suffered no serious injuries. In fact, the biggest injury came to the wallet of Gomez, who was fined a hefty $5,000 for the incident (about $39,000 today when adjusted for inflation).

During his time in San Francisco, he became an impeccable bumper, inventing the turnbuckle flip in 1965, and was often praised for his ability to make his opponent look good in the ring. His vicious demeanor both in the ring (his "Bombs Away" top rope knee drop to the throat was one of the most devastating maneuvers of the day) and on the microphone made Stevens the most hated—and most beloved—wrestler in the area.  He would capture the San Francisco version of the NWA United States Championship nine times from 1960 to 1970 , and win the NWA World Tag Team Championship in 1965 with Pat Patterson as The Blond Bombers. In July 1967, Stevens defeated Bruno Sammartino two falls to one in a best of three falls match, but did not win the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship, as he had won the deciding fall by countout, and WWWF rules stated titles could not change hands on a countout.

In 1971, Stevens joined the American Wrestling Association, and success found him there too, winning the AWA World Tag Team Championship four times (three with Nick Bockwinkel, and one with his old partner Patterson), and three more NWA world tag titles. It was in the AWA where Ray went from Blond Bomber to Crippler when in 1972, he hit his knee drop while Dr. X was tangled between two leg ropes (in reality, it was a write-off so Dr. X—real name Dick Beyer—could work in Japan as "The Destroyer"). Stevens' knee drop would be banned from the company. After a falling out with manager Bobby Heenan, Bockwinkel and Stevens would have a bitter feud in 1977

Stevens would eventually land in the WWF under the management of "Classy" Freddie Blassie, then later Captain Lou Albano. But thirty plus years on the road and a shift in philosophy among promoters made Ray obsolete and his tenure in the WWF a short one.

His final days in the ring came for the AWA. Stevens was on commentary for the Nick Bockwinkel-Curt Hennig AWA world title match in May 1987. Zbyszko's use of a roll of coins led to Hennig winning the title. After the championship was held up due to a protest by Bockwinkel and Stevens, the original decision stood, and Hennig was allowed to keep the title. Stevens would feud with Zbyszko before finally calling it a career in 1992.

On May 3, 1996, Ray Stevens died of a heart attack while sleeping in his home in Fremont, California. He was 60 years old. At the time of his death, he was survived by five children.  Posthumously, he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame, and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2006, where he was inducted for both his singles and his tag team accomplishments.

18 years ago today at a WWF house show in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Adam Copeland defeated Christian Cage. For Christian, this was his very first WWF match. For Copeland, he would continue to wrestle under his real name before making his television debut as Edge seven weeks later. Christian would debut at Breakdown in September. The two would go on to become one of the most successful duos in WWE history, winning their tag titles seven times together.

18 years ago today, ECW presented Wrestlepalooza '98: On Enemy Turf (WWE Network link) from the Cobb County Civic Center in Marietta, Georgia. The event was subtitled "On Enemy Turf" due to the event being in close proximity to Atlanta, Georgia, the home base of World Championship Wrestling.

Prior to the beginning of the event, a legends ceremony was held, honoring Dick Slater, Bob Armstrong, The Assassin, and in his final public appearance before his death just a month later, The Junkyard Dog. Backstage, New Jack got into a physical confrontation with the Junkyard Dog over money allegedly owed to him.

As for the event itself, it finished fifth in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter for Worst Major Wrestling Card of 1998.

  • The bWo (The Blue Meanie and Super Nova) defeated The F.B.I. (Little Guido and Tracy Smothers).

  • Justin Credible defeated Mikey Whipwreck.

  • Chris Candido and Lance Storm defeated The Hardcore Chair Swingin' Freaks (Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten) to retain the ECW World Tag Team Championship.

  • Bam Bam Bigelow defeated New Jack.

  • Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman defeated The Dudley Boyz (Buh Buh Ray and D-Von).

  • Rob Van Dam and Sabu fought to a 30-minute time limit draw in an ECW World Television Championship match.

  • Shane Douglas defeated Al Snow to retain the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. It was the final PPV appearance for Snow; he would return to the WWF that summer.

13 years ago today, Marissa Vaziri, daughter of Hossein Khosorov Vaziri, best known to wrestling fans as the Iron Sheik, was found dead by Clayton County police in the apartment she shared with boyfriend Charles Reynolds. She was 27.

According to the medical examiner, Vaziri was strangled to death. Reynolds contacted his pastor after the strangulation, and after some convincing, turned himself in. Reynolds was arrested with three members of his church in his apartment at the time, including Reverend Mark Medlin. Reynolds, 38 at the time of the murder, confessed to and was charged with the murder. Reynolds was ultimately convicted and received a life sentence.

10 years ago today in Fukoka, Japan, Koji Kanemoto defeated Tiger Mask to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

6 years ago today on Impact from Universal Orlando, Rob Van Dam defeated Desmond Wolfe to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. It would be the final TNA match on Monday nights, as Spike TV decided the next day to abandon the Monday night experiment and move back to Thursday night after just two months. For the record, RAW again trounces Impact in the ratings, 3.0 to 0.78.

5 years ago today at a Smackdown taping in Orlando, Florida, Randy Orton defeated Christian to win the World Heavyweight Championship. The title change came just two days after Christian won the title at Extreme Rules. With the loss, Christian became the first person to hold the World Heavyweight Championship for more than one day without a successful title defense.

4 years ago today, New Japan Pro Wrestling presented Wrestling Dontaku 2012 from the Fukoka Kokusai Center in Fukoka, Japan.

  • YOSHI-HASHI, Jado & Tomohiro Ishii defeated Strong Man, Captain New Japan & Tama Tonga.

  • TAKA Michinoku & Taichi defeated Ryusuke Taguchi & KUSHIDA.

  • Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask defeated Rocky Romero & Gedo.

  • Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima to win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.

  • Minoru Suzuki & Yoshihiro Takayama defeated Togi Makabe & Yuji Nagata.

  • Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Karl Anderson.

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tetsuya Naito defeated Masato Tanaka & Yujiro Takahashi.

  • Kazuchika Okada defeated Hirooki Goto to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

1 year ago today, New Japan Pro Wrestling presented Wrestling Dontaku 2015 from the Fukoka Kokusai Center in Fukoka, Japan.

  • Jushin Thunder Liger, Máscara Dorada, Tiger Mask and Yuji Nagata defeated Captain New Japan, Kushida, Manabu Nakanishi and Ryusuke Taguchi.

  • Kota Ibushi and Yohei Komatsu defeated Sho Tanaka and Tetsuya Naito

  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima and Tomoaki Honma defeated Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Cody Hall and Tama Tonga)

  • The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) defeated Roppongi Vice (Beretta and Rocky Romero) and reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly) in a three-team match to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.

  • Kenny Omega defeated Alex Shelley to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

  • The Kingdom (Maria Kanellis, Matt Taven and Michael Bennett) defeated Bullet Club (Amber Gallows, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson).

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi, Katsuyori Shibata and Togi Makabe defeated Kazushi Sakuraba, Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano.

  • Bullet Club (A.J. Styles and Yujiro Takahashi) defeated Chaos (Kazuchika Okada and Yoshi-Hashi).

  • Hirooki Goto defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

Today would have been the 101st birthday of Stewart Edward Hart, or Stu Hart for short.

Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, Stu lived in a tent with his family, living off the land and wild game Stu took down with his slingshot. In 1928, Stu and most of his family was forced to move to Edmonton after his father was arrested on failing to pay back taxes. There, he began competing in amateur wrestling, joining the Edmonton YMCA in 1929. Trained by other boys in catch wrestling, in 1937, he would win a gold medal in the welterweight division for the AAU of Canada. In 1940, after two years with the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos, Hart won the Dominion Amateur Wrestling Championship in the light heavyweight class.

Hart would enlist in the Canadian Navy and serve as their Director of Athletics. During his service, Stu was introduced to professional wrestling. After recovering from a car accident, Stu would entertain the troops with exhibition matches. Hart debuted under the training of Toots Mondt in 1946, and once wrestled a tiger and a grizzly bear. Two years later, Hart formed Stampede Wrestling; three years later, he purchased a mansion in the Patterson Heights area of Calgary. The basement of that mansion would become the legendary training ground known simply as The Dungeon.

There, Hart would train prospects in the shoot style, with the idea that learning these submission moves would lead to a sharper in-ring style. Today, the Hart House is considered a historical site. A short list of those trained in the dungeon include all eight of his sons, most famously Bret and Owen, "Superstar" Billy Graham, the Junkyard Dog, Greg Valentine, Davey Boy Smith, Brian Pillman, Jushin Liger, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Lance Storm, Edge, Christian, Mark Henry, Natalya Neidhart, and Tyson Kidd, the last person to graduate from the Dungeon.

Stu, a longtime supporter and mentor of the Calgary community (he supported more than thirty charities and civic organizations), was married for 53 years to American-born Helen Smith. The couple would have twelve children, many of whom would have some involvement in the business. They also had 36 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Helen died in November 2001. Stu, suffering from diabetes and arthritis, was admitted to Rockyview General in Calgary on October 3, 2003 with an elbow infection, and then developed pneumonia. He had a stroke and died thirteen days later at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He was 88.

In 2010, Stu was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the inaugural Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame class in 1996, and is a member of the Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame.

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