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This Day in Wrestling History (June 13): Mitsuharu Misawa Passes Away

Before I begin, I have a bit of anniversary, so allow me a moment to put myself over.

2 years ago today, I took over the This Day in Wrestling History feature for Cageside Seats. I like to thank Geno and Sean for continuing to let me do this, and to you, the Cagesiders, for not only reading this, but correcting me on those occasions I muff up a fact or stat due to fuzzy math. I couldn't have done it without you all.


76 years ago today in Kansas City, Missouri, Orville Brown defeated Bobby Bruns to win the Kansas City version of the Midwest Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Championship. It would be the first of eleven times he won the championship over the next nine years. In 1948, Brown would be recognized as the first ever champion of the National Wrestling Alliance.

34 years ago today, Peter Fanene Anderson, known later as Fanene Leifi Pita Maivia, but known to wrestling fans as "High Chief" Peter Maivia, died of cancer in Hawaii. He was just 45.

Maivia was the maternal grandfather of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and is a member of the famed Anoa'I family. Maivia has a small role in the 1967 James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice. He also served as an uncredited stunt coordinator. In 2008, Maivia was posthumouosly inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his grandson Dwayne.

26 years ago today, WCW presented NWA Clash of the Champions XI: Coastal Crush (WWE Network link) from McAllister Field House on the campus of the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.

  • The Southern Boys (Steve Armstrong & Tracy Smothers) defeated The Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin).
  • Tommy Rich defeated Bam Bam Bigelow (with Sir Oliver Humperdink) via disqualification.
  • Tom Zenk & Mike Rotunda defeated Fatu & The Samoan Savage.
  • "Mean" Mark Callous defeated Brian Pillman.
  • The Rock n Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) defeated The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane) via disqualification in an NWA United States Tag Team Championship match.
  • Barry Windham defeated Doug Furnas.
  • Lex Luger defeated Sid Vicious.
  • Doom (Ron Simmons & Butch Reed) defeated The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) to retain the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
  • Paul Orndorff defeated NWA World Television Champion Arn Anderson in a non-title match.
  • The Junkyard Dog defeated Ric Flair via disqualification in an NWA World Heavyweight Championship match.

24 years ago today, the World Bodybuilding Federation presented the second—and last—WBF Championship from the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center in Long Beach, California.

Lou Ferrigno, best known for playing comic book superhero The Incredible Hulk in the television series of the same name, was billed to take part in the event, but a deal between the WBF and Ferrigno fell through. Then-former wrestler Lex Luger was scheduled to take part as well, but he couldn't due to a motorcycle accident.

Just 3,000 homes bought the event; in fact the buyrate for the event was so low that most cable outlets considered it to be zero. For the record, Gary Strydom won the event for the second straight year, with Jim Quinn finishing second, Aaron Baker finishing third, and David Dearth and Berry de Mey rounding out the top five.

With the second WBF Championship turning out to be the lowest-grossing event in PPV history (at the time), the World Bodybuilding Federation shut down just a month later.

23 years ago today, WWF presented King of the Ring (WWE Network link) from the Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio.

It was actually the seventh King of the Ring tournament, but the first on PPV (the tournament dates back to 1985). It's also the first new PPV for the WWF since the 1989 Royal Rumble. About 6,500 were in attendance, with 284,000 homes watching on PPV, though some estimates have it at only 245,000 buys. The show's hook was, of course, the bulk of the King of the Ring tournament, where the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals would take place.

  • In a preshow dark match, Papa Shango defeated Owen Hart to retain the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship.
  • King of the Ring Quarterfinals:
    • Bret Hart defeated Razor Ramon.
    • Mr. Perfect defeated Mr. Hughes.
    • Bam Bam Bigelow defeated Hacksaw Jim Duggan.
    • Tatanka fought Lex Luger to a 15-minute time limit draw. As a result, both men were eliminated.
  • King of the Ring Semifinals:
    • Bret Hart defeated Mr. Perfect.
    • Bam Bam Bigelow received a bye into the finals with Tatanka and Lex Luger's time limit draw/double elimination.
  • King of the Ring Final:
    • Bret Hart defeated Bam Bam Bigelow to win the King of the Ring tournament.
  • Non-tournament bouts in order of occurrence:
    • Yokozuna defeated Hulk Hogan to win the WWF Championship. The bout was Hogan's first with the company since winning the WWF title at Wrestlemania IX—and his last on television. The feud continued on the house show circuit through August, then Hogan and Jimmy Hart sat out the remainder of their contracts. It wouldn't be until a year later that Hogan returned to the ring in the States, but for WCW.
    • The Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart) and The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) defeated The Headshrinkers (Samu and Fatu) and Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster).
    • Shawn Michaels defeated Crush to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

17 years ago today, WCW presented The Great American Bash (WWE Network link) from the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. 11,672 were in attendance, with 185,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 290,000 homes for the 1998 edition.

The event is noted for the return of Sid Vicious, who was last seen in WCW in 1993 when he was fired after stabbing Arn Anderson several times with safety scissors in a hotel in England.

  • Hak defeated Brian Knobbs in a hardcore match.
  • Hammer defeated Mikey Whipwreck.
  • Buff Bagwell defeated Disco Inferno.
  • The No Limit Soldiers (Konnan and Rey Misterio, Jr.) defeated The West Texas Rednecks (Curt Hennig and Bobby Duncum, Jr.).
  • Ernest Miller defeated Horace Hogan.
  • Ric Flair defeated Roddy Piper by disqualification. With the somewhat ill-gotten win (Buff Bagwell interfered and cost Piper the match), Flair became President of WCW.
  • Rick Steiner defeated Sting in a falls count anywhere match to retain the WCW World Television Championship. The honest to goodness ending: Sting was attacked by dogs and the referee stopped the match.
  • The Jersey Triad (Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon) defeated Chris Benoit and Perry Saturn to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
  • Kevin Nash defeated Randy Savage by disqualification to retain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

12 years ago today, WWE presented Bad Blood (WWE Network link) from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. About 9,000 were in attendance, with 290,000 homes watching on PPV.

  • In a dark match, Batista defeated Maven.
  • Chris Benoit and Edge defeated La Résistance (Sylvain Grenier and Robért Conway) by disqualification in a World Tag Team Championship match.
  • Chris Jericho defeated Tyson Tomko.
  • Randy Orton defeated Shelton Benjamin to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Trish Stratus defeated Victoria, Lita, and Gail Kim in a fatal four way match to win the WWE Women's Championship.
  • Eugene defeated Jonathan Coachman.
  • Chris Benoit defeated Kane to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Triple H defeated Shawn Michaels in a Hell in a Cell match. At 47 minutes, 33 seconds, it's the longest Hell in a Cell match in WWE history (the record still stands today).

10 years ago today, WWE presented the first episode of the rebooted ECW on Sci-Fi from the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey.

In the opening segment, Rob Van Dam was presented with the ECW Championship (making him a Triple Crown champion for that promotion, as he had won the tag team and television titles in the original ECW), making him the first ECW Champion since the promotion shut down in 2001. As he was the WWE Champion as well, he became the first (and only) man to hold two world titles at once in the brand extension era.

Also on the show, 19-year old Barbie Blank made her debut as exhibitionist Kelly Kelly for "Kelly's Expose". Oh, and there was a wrestling show too.

  • The Sandman defeated The Zombie in just 17 seconds.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Justin Credible by submission.
  • Sabu last eliminated Big Show to win a 10-man extreme battle royal for a match with John Cena at Vengeance for the WWE Championship. Other participants were Al Snow, Danny Doring, Stevie Richards, Roadkill, Balls Mahoney, Tommy Dreamer, Tony Mamaluke, Little Guido, Big Guido, and Big Show (who had all the eliminations in the match but the winning one).

8 years ago today, AAA presented TripleMania XVI from Palacia de los Deportes in Mexico City.

  • The Black Family (Dark Cuervo, Dark Escoria, Dark Ozz, and Dark Espíritu defeated Real Fuerza Aérea (Aero Star, El Ángel, and Super Fly) in a 4-on-3 handicap lucha libre rules match.
  • Alan Stone, Octagón, and Brazo de Plata defeated Los Vipers Revolution (Black Abyss, Psicosis II, and Histeria).
  • The Mexican Powers (Crazy Boy, Último Gladiador and Ricky Marvin) defeated La Legión Extranjera (Bryan Danielson, Jack Evans and Teddy Hart) and La Familia de Tijuana (Extreme Tiger, Halloween and T.J. Xtreme) in a three-way elimination tag team match.
  • Faby Apache defeated Mari Apache 2-1 in a best of three falls hair versus hair match. With the loss, Mari was to have her head shaved, but Gran Apache sacrificed his own hair instead.
  • Vampiro and El Mesias fought to a draw when both men were deemed unable to continue.
  • La Legión Extranjera (Bobby Lashley, Electroshock and Kenzo Suzuki) defeated Chessman, La Parka and Silver King.
  • Cibernético defeated El Zorro to retain the AAA World Heavyweight Championship.

7 years ago today, puroresu legend and Pro Wrestling NOAH founder Mitsuhara Misawa died of heart failure during a match in Hiroshima. He was 46.

Born June 18, 1962 in Yubari, Hokkaido, Japan, Misawa was a fan of wrestling growing up, especially All Japan Pro Wrestling. He dropped out of school to begin his training at an early age, but a chance encounter with Jumbo Tsuruta convinced Misawa to go back and at least complete his high school education. Very little else is known about Misawa's personal life; fellow wresters who had known him for decades didn't even know he had children or was married.

After placing fifth in the 1980 freestyle World Championships as an amateur, Misawa turned pro. He trained under Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer, Shohei "Giant" Baba, and Dory Funk, Jr. He made his professional wrestling debut for All Japan in August 1981. He also spent some time training under La Fiera in EMLL in Mexico. In August 1984, he succeeded Satoru Sayama as the legendary Tiger Mask. He would wrestle under the mask for most of the next five and a half years (save for about a nine month period where he was sidelined with a knee injury).

During that time, Misawa transitioned to the heavyweight division after spending the first five years of his career as a junior heavyweight. In April 1990, he fought future WWF Champion Bret Hart to a time limit draw at a WWF/New Japan/All Japan supershow in the Tokyo Dome. Later that month, Genichiro Tenryu abruptly departed All Japan, and Giant Baba, realizing he needed a new ace for the company, turned to Misawa. He voluntary unmasked during a tag team match in May 1990.

Less than a month later, Misawa upset Jumbo Tsuruta at Nippon Budokan. Now a bonafide main eventer and threat to the All Japan Triple Crown, he took on Stan Hansen for the championship in July, but it was a losing effort. Later in the year, he teamed with Toshiaki Kawada and finished third in the World's Strongest Tag Determination League. They finished four points behind the Miracle Violence Connection (Terry Gordy & Steve Williams). In July 1991, Kawada and Misawa would win the tag titles from the MVC in July 1991. In a historic title defense that September, Misawa submitted Tsuruta to retain the tag titles. After chasing the All Japan Triple Crown for two years, he finally won it in August 1992 from Hansen. He would win the championship five times over the next seven years, the first reign lasting nearly two years.

Misawa would go on to become the face of All Japan Pro Wrestling in the 1990s. In addition to the five All Japan Triple Crown Heavyweight Championships, he would win nine tag team championships with five different partners, two Champion Carnivals (1995 and 1998) and win the World's Strongest Tag Determination League four years in a row (1992 to 1995). In addition, he would have twenty-four five-star rated matches (all but two taking place in the 1990s) by Wrestling Observer Newsletter, more than anyone in history, and would be a member of that publication's inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1996.

Following the death of All Japan head booker and founder Giant Baba in 1999, Misawa inherited the position of president of the company. After clashing with widow Motoko Baba and his subsequent removal by a board of executives, Misawa shocked the wrestling world by leaving All Japan in May 2000. He took nearly everyone with him, with 23 of the other 27 members of the roster leaving as well. Misawa formed Pro Wrestling NOAH, inspired by the Biblical story of Noah's ark. He would return to All Japan just twice, both times occurring in 2004. Misawa would go on to win three Global Honored Crown Heavyweight Championships, the last reign lasting about 15 months.

Misawa maintained a full-time schedule until his death. During a tag team title match with Go Shiozaki against GHC tag champions Aktoshi Saito and Bison Smith on June 13, 2009, Misawa lost consciousness following a belly to back suplex. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death as outlined in the official police report was a spinal cord injury that caused cardiac arrest. The official cause of death is not known due to Misawa's family invoking a law that prohibits disclosing such cause.

7 years ago today, AAA presented Triplemania XVII from Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City.

  • In a dark match, Los Psycho Circus (Psycho Clown, Killer Clown, and Zombie Clown) defeated Real Fuerza Aérea (Laredo Kid, Superfly, and Aero Star).
  • Billy Boy, Sexy Star, Polvo de Estrellas and Mini Abismo Negro defeated El Elegido, Faby Apache, Pimpinela Escarlata, and Octagoncito.
  • X-Pac, Charly Manson, and Rocky Romero defeated El Zorro, Dark Ozz, and Dark Scoria. As a result of the loss, El Zorro was caned ten times with a Singapore cane.
  • Extreme Tiger defeated Alex Koslov, Crazy Boy, and Alan Stone in an elimination hardcore match to win the AAA Cruiserweight Championship.
  • La Hermandad 187 (Nicho El Millonario and Joe Lider) defeated Latin Lover and Marco Corleone to retain the AAA World Tag Team Championship.
  • Dr. Wagner, Jr. defeated El Mesías to win the AAA World Heavyweight Champiuonship.
  • Team AAA (El Hijo del Santo, La Parka, Vampiro, Octagón, and Jack Evans) defeated La Legion Extranjera (Silver King, Chessman, Kenzo Suzuki, Electroshock, and Teddy Hart) in a steel cage match. With the win, Joaquin Roldan regained control of AAA.

ROH VideoWire June 17, 2009 by rohfan4life

7 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Manhattan Mayhem III from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The show began with a ten-bell salute to the late Mitsuhara Misawa, who died earlier in the day.

  • The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) defeated Kenny King & Rhett Titus.
  • Necro Butcher defeated Jimmy Rave.
  • Roderick Strong defeated Sonjay Dutt.
  • Jimmy Jacobs defeated Tyler Black in a first blood match in just 11 seconds.
  • Colt Cabana defeated Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castagnoli, and D-Lo Brown in a four corner survival match.
  • The American Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards) defeated El Generico & Kevin Steen in a submission match to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
  • Jay Briscoe defeated Little Guido Maritato.
  • Austin Aries defeated Jerry Lynn and Tyler Black in a three-way dance to win the ROH World Championship. Nigel McGuinness was the special enforcer. The win made Aries the first man to win the ROH World Championship more than once.

6 years ago today, TNA presented Slammiversary VIII from the Impact Zone at Universal Orlando. This was the first Slammiversary since 2006 to take place in the Impact Zone and the first ever to not feature a King of the Mountain match.

  • Kurt Angle defeated Kazarian.
  • Douglas Williams defeated Brian Kendrick to retain the TNA X Division Championship.
  • Madison Rayne defeated Roxxi in a title versus career match to retain the TNA Knockouts Championship. The loss by Roxxi banishes her from TNA.
  • Jesse Neal defeated Brother Ray.
  • Matt Morgan defeated Hernandez by disqualification.
  • Abyss defeated Desmond Wolfe in a Monster's Ball match.
  • Jay Lethal defeated A.J. Styles.
  • The Enigmatic Assholes (Jeff Hardy and Ken Anderson) defeated Beer Money, Inc. (James Storm and Robert Roode).
  • Rob Van Dam defeated Sting to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

Today would have been the 65th birthday of AAA founder Antonio Hipolito Peña Herrada.

Born in Mexico City, he grew up in a wrestling family watching his uncle Ponzona compete as Espectro in the 1950s and 1960s. After training under his uncle, Rojas, Isaias Rodriguez, and Tono Hernandez, he began his wrestling career as El Genio in 1974. Eventually, with his father's blessing, Antonio would take on his uncle's persona and began wrestling as Espectro Jr. His superior technique and psychological tactics would make him one of the top rudos in Mexico in the 1970s, challenging for the welterweight and middleweight championships.

In 1980, he took a risk and radically changed his persona again, wrestling as Kahoz, a sinister rudo who would invoke dark spirits. He carried live pigeons to the ring and would release them towards his opponent during matches and smear the blood of a pigeon on himself (not really; the blood was fake and he really didn't rip pigeons' heads off). Though Peña would never win a title as Kahoz, he was one of the most sought after wrestlers in all of Mexico. He gave up the gimmick in 1985 as Espectro de Ultratumba (The Ghost from Beyond the Grave) and passed on his Kahoz gimmick. Peña would eventually pass on the Espectro de Ultratumba in 1986 to his cousin, and eventually retired from full-time competition. He attempted comebacks in 1994 and 2001.

Peña always had a mind for gimmicks, storylines, and booking, so when he retired, he was hired by Mexican promotion EMLL (Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre, or Mexican Wrestling Enterprise) to work in public relations. Eventually, he would begin writing storylines for the company, and Pena and Juan Herrera would combine to make EMLL the top Mexican promotion in the late 1980s. The promotion would break away from the NWA in 1989 and rebrand themselves as CMLL (Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, or World Wrestling Council, not to be confused with the Puerto Rican promotion of the same name). Following the rebranding, Herrera and Peña would clash over who to spotlight. Herrera favored the heavyweights, while Peña wanted to go with younger and faster (and smaller-sometimes literally) competitors.

In the end, Herrera's philosophy won, and Peña started a booking agency for the Televisa-owned AAA promotion in 1992. Quickly, the promotion flourished with young talent including Rey Mysterio Jr., Psicosis, Konnan, and Los Gringos Locos. The new company caught on so quickly, the Universal Wrestling Association, another wrestling promotion out of Mexico, went out of business.

At their peak in the mid-1990s, their first Triplemania, today considered Mexico's equivalent of Wrestlemania, drew over 48,000 fans, a record crowd for a Mexican wrestling show (the record still stands today). Peña's AAA co-promoted When Worlds Collide with WCW and had a TV show in the United States in 1994. The foundation fell apart not long after the event: Art Barr passed away, and his stablemates in Los Gringos Locos (Eddie Guerrero and Madonna's Boyfriend) left the company. Top stars including Rey Mysterio, Psicosis, La Parka, and Juventud Guerrera also left, and a downturn in the Mexican economy caused other stars to follow.

Peña was AAA's Vince McMahon, meaning he had the final say on all matters in the company. His shocking passing left a void in the company, though his brother-in law and his son have tried to fill it. Several promotions paid tribute to Peña following his death. Today, AAA holds memorial events every year around this time, highlighted by the Copa Antonio Peña (Antonio Peña Cup) tournament. The tournament is the highlight of the Heroes Inmortales (Immortal Heroes) event.

It's a happy 73rd birthday for Otto Wanz.

The Austrian-born Wanz was the creator of the Catch Wrestling Association, a promotion that mixed mat wrestling with strongman competitions, and was at the height of its popularity one of the top wrestling promotions in Europe.

While his biggest successes came in the promotion he founded (he won the CWA world title four times), he also competed for New Japan Pro Wrestling in the early 1970s and for the American Wrestling Association in the early 1980s. In 1982, Wanz ended Nick Bockwinkel's 15-month run as AWA World Heavyweight Champion (a rumor persists that Wanz paid Gagne off to get the title run; the rumor has never been formally confirmed). In the late 1980s, Wanz would have a long rivalry with Bull Power (who would go on to great success as Big Van Vader). Wanz is on the short list of people who had bodyslammed both Andre the Giant and Yokozuna.

After retiring in 1990, Otto focused on promoting the CWA until its closure in 1999. Today, he organizes strongman competitions in his native Austria.

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