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This Day in Wrestling History (June 17): Who Needs Austin Anyway?

31 years ago today at a WWF TV taping in Poughkeepsie, New York former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk makes his WWF debut. He defeated Aldo Marino by submission. Prior to the match, Funk attacked ring attendant Mel Phillips when he put Funk's hat on his head because his hands were full of Funk's ring gear.

Also making his debut in the same taping with a win over Aldo Marino is Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Most recently from the Memphis-based Continental Wrestling Association, Savage came in to the WWF billed as "wrestling's hottest free agent". Managers Bobby Heenan, Mr. Fuji, Freddie Blassie, Jimmy Hart, and Johnny V all were at ringside scouting Savage.

The taping also featured a title change: the US Express (Mike Rotundo & Barry Windham) defeated The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

21 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Sandman defeated Cactus Jack via knockout in a "Barbed Wire Massacre" to retain the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. Highlights of the match aired on the June 27 edition of ECW Hardcore TV (WWE Network link). NOTE: The match does contain graphic content and may not be suitable for all viewers.

Referee Bill Alfonso refused to award the decision to Cactus Jack after Sandman did not answer the 10 count, saying a barbed wire match could not be won on a standing ten count KO. Sandman then grabbed Cactus Jack from behind and choked him with barbed wire, knocking him out and winning the match.

When fans finally realized that Cactus did not win the title, they were PISSED. Alfonso was being chased around the ring by Paul Heyman and 911 (who wanted to chokeslam Alfonso). The audience surged and shoved the railing against the ring apron in an attempt to trap Alfonso. He barely jumped into the ring and eventually made it backstage. Alfonso had to be smuggled out of the building in the trunk of a car because fans were waiting for Alfonso by his car with baseball bats.

On the same show, The Gangstas (New Jack & Mustafa Saed) made their ECW debuts, attacking ECW tag team champions Public Enemy.

Austin's Walk Out And Rock's Return 6 17 02 by Yosihait

14 years ago today on RAW from Oakland, California (WWE Network link), Vince McMahon addressed the walkout (and subsequent firing) of Stone Cold Steve Austin publicly for the first time since his walkout a week earlier. In a surprise appearance, so did The Rock.

9 years ago today, TNA presented Slammiversary V from the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The show featured the first television interview of Jeff Jarrett following the passing of his wife Jill of breast cancer the previous month. Jarrett said he did not know when or if he would wrestle again. Jarrett returned to the ring in September 2008.

  • Rhino & Senshi defeated Latin American Xchange (Homicide & Hernandez).
  • Jay Lethal defeated Chris Sabin to win the TNA X-Division Championship.
  • Jerry Lynn & Frank Wycheck defeated James Storm & Ron Killings.
  • Bob Backlund defeated Alex Shelley.
  • The Voodoo Kin Mafia (Kip James & B.G. James) defeated Basham & Damaja.
  • Eric Young defeated Robert Roode.
  • Team 3D (Brother Ray & Brother Devon) defeated Rick Steiner and Road Warrior Animal to retain the TNA World Tag Team Championship. Scott Steiner was scheduled to compete with his brother Rick, but he suffered a life-threatening injury while competing in Puerto Rico a few weeks before the show.
  • Sting defeated Christopher Daniels.
  • Abyss defeated Tomko in a no disqualification match.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Samoa Joe, A.J. Styles, Chris Harris, and Christian Cage in a King of the Mountain match to win the vacant TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

5 years ago today in an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Shane McMahon openly addressed for the first time his decision to leave WWE, a decision he called "brutal".

In the interview, Shane said that while he was considered one of the successors, he saw that his father Vince "wasn't going anywhere". He goes on to say that "it was the hardest decision I've ever had to make... I didn't want to wake up when I was 70 and say, ‘I should have done that'". Shane also said that tension between he and his father exists to this day over his exit. Whether or not the tension remains today is a question that can only be answered by the McMahons; Shane returned to the company in February 2016.

5 years ago today, TNA releases former Ring of Honor world champion Steven Haworth, aka Nigel McGuiness.

He spent a largely disappointing 18 months there as Desmond Wolfe. He had been largely off television in his final few months, though near the end of his run, he was the commissioner of TNA Xplosion. He revealed in a podcast late last year that he had tested positive for Hepatitis B. He returned to ROH two months later at the first ROH on Sinclair tapings.

5 years ago today, a jury in Georgia awards the Benoit family, represented by Nancy's mother Maureen Toffoloni, $125,000 in compensatory damages and $19.6 million in punitive damages after Hustler magazine published nude photographs of the late Nancy Benoit in March 2008, nine months after her murder at the hands of Chris Benoit in June 2007.

Right after the verdict was announced, the judge presiding over the case, US District Court Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr., ruled the magazine was only liable for $250,000 in punitive damages, citing the state of Georgia's law in regards to a cap on punitive damages, meaning LFP Publishing Group was only liable for a total of $375,000 in damages. The lawyers representing Benoit's family filed an appeal, citing the defendant acted with intent to harm. In May 2012, the 11th Circuit US Court of Appeals in Atlanta throws out the judgment in its entirety, citing lack of evidence.

TL;DR: the nearly $20 million awarded to the Benoit family was reduced to $375,000 on a technicality, then reduced to $0 on appeal.

4 years ago today, WWE presented No Way Out (WWE Network link) from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. About 10,000 were in attendance, with 194,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 170,000 for the June 2011 event, Capital Punishment.

  • In a preshow match, Brodus Clay defeated David Otunga by countout.
  • Sheamus defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Santino Marella defeated Ricardo Rodriguez in a tuxedo match.
  • Christian defeated Cody Rhodes to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
  • The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O'Neil) defeated Epico & Primo, International Airstrike (Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd) and The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) to become the #1 contender for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Layla defeated Beth Phoenix to retain the WWE Diva's Championship.
  • Sin Cara defeated Hunico.
  • CM Punk defeated Daniel Bryan and Kane in a triple threat match to retain the WWE Championship
  • Ryback defeated Dan Delaney & Rob Grymes in a 2 on 1 handicap match in just 98 seconds.
  • John Cena defeated The Big Show in a steel cage match. As Big Show lost, general manager John Laurinaitis was fired. If John Cena lost, he would have been fired.

It's a happy (hopefully, it's happy) 48th birthday today to puroresu legend Minoru Suzuki.

Suzuki is a two-time All Japan Pro Wrestling Triple Crown champion, a former IWGP tag team champion, and the current GHC Heavyweight Champion in Pro Wrestling NOAH. Suzuki is also an accomplished mixed martial artist and amateur wrestler. He's the founder of Pancrease, one of the world's first MMA organizations, and was their second ever world champion. He was an alternate for the Japanese Olympic wrestling team and a former national champion in freestyle wrestling. He also was a motion capture actor for the Tekken series of video games.

Today would have been the 54th birthday of puroresu legend and Pro Wrestling NOAH founder Mitsuhara Misawa.

Born 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.

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