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This Day in Wrestling History (June 22): Best in the World

36 years ago today in Greensboro, North Carolina, Ray Stevens and Jimmy Snuka defeated Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.

24 years ago today, WCW aired Clash of the Champions XIX from the McAllister Fieldhouse in Charleston, South Carolina. The show was taped six days earlier, the first time a Clash did not air live. The show revolved around the beginning of the NWA World Tag Team Championship tournament. For results and show link, click here.

20 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Chris Jericho defeated Pitbull #2 to win the ECW World Television Championship. The match airs on the July 2 episode of ECW Hardcore TV (WWE Network link).

16 years and 2 days ago today at a Smackdown taping in Memphis, Tennessee (WWE Network link), T&A (Test & Albert) and Trish Stratus defeat Team Xtreme (The Hardy Boyz and Lita) in an intergender match. This was Trish's in-ring debut.

12 years ago today, CZW announces via press release that the promotion is pulling their Fake You TV program from its home station, WGTW-TV in Philadelphia, citing irreconcilable differences with station management. The statement:

To Our Loyal Fans:

In July of 2001, Combat Zone Wrestling embarked on the campaign to deliver its unique brand of entertainment to you, the fans, on a whole new platform, television. This campaign is rarely taken by independent wrestling promotions, which is evident in the many promotions that have been unsuccessful in acquiring airtime and maintaining it. However recognizing its growing popularity, CZW, a small South Jersey promotion at the time, sought to capitalize and successfully negotiated a weekly programming agreement with WGTW-48. Strategically positioned at 9:00PM on Saturday evenings, CZW entered into a tremendous period of growth, as attendance for live events grew and enrollment at the CZW Wrestling School was at its highest level. While the odds were against us, CZW Fake You TV was a success, much like its predecessor.

Unfortunately, recent changes at WGTW-48 have had a detrimental effect on CZW Fake You TV. The executives at WGTW-48 have taken a more conservative approach when it comes to wrestling programming. In what was believed to be an ingenious idea of five-nights of midnight wrestling, WGTW-48 opened the doors to any and all promotions to air their programming, at least those that could afford it. As a result, CZW Fake You TV was moved from its 9:00PM Saturday time slot to a week night at midnight, to compete with other promotions. In the end, the idea was a failure, and CZW Fake You TV continues to thrive.

To date, CZW has produced one-hundred and fifty-four (154) episodes of programming, which has been enjoyed by fans across the Tri-State Area. During this time, CZW has endured every business decision that WGTW-48 has formulated and executed. Unfortunately, this past week was the final WGTW-48 decision that CZW plans to tolerate. For those of you who are not already aware, WGTW-48 executives refused to air the June 18, 2004 episode (ED: a portion of the episode is in the above video) due to its content. WGTW-48 argued that the rising conservative climate in media and FCC regulations and enforcement have forced WGTW-48 to place restrictions on content and deny the airing of programming that the channel decides is inappropriate and in some way violates or is contrary to FCC regulations.

In response and after thoughtful consideration, CZW is sad to announce they withdrawal of CZW Fake You TV on WGTW-48 indefinitely. CZW has experienced many highs and lows and has remained a loyal business associate of WTGW-48 since July of 2001. CZW can no longer exist in a business relationship that is characterized by inconsistency and haphazard decisions that have had only negative effects on you, the fans, and the CZW product as a whole. CZW is confident that it will continue to move forward and is currently in the process of reviewing new avenues for delivering CZW Fake You TV to our loyal fans with the hope of acquiring new fans as well. CZW asks that you, the fans, continue to remain loyal as you have since the beginning and support us in this decision.

In closing, CZW wishes to thank WGTW-48 for providing us with the opportunity to make CZW Fake You TV a reality and provide CZW with a platform to deliver its product beyond its live events. Unfortunately, CZW must terminate is working relationship with WGTW-48 and will continue to remain steadfast in its the belief that our entertainment is not to be censored and that viewers have a choice.

Thank you for your time and patience with respect to this matter. CZW 4 LIFE!


Combat Zone Wrestling Entertainment

CZW continued to air internationally via the UK's Fight Network until its closure in late 2007. Despite gaining an international following, the promotion has not returned to television stateside since its cancellation.

Like most major independent promotions, CZW does offer a streaming service featuring a selection of past events for $9.99 a month. The promotion signed a deal last summer with inDEMAND to produce a pair of live PPVs.

7 years ago today, Donald Trump "sells back" Monday Night RAW to Vince McMahon just one week after buying it. In reality, in the week of his "ownership", WWE got into a bit of hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commission when officials there thought that Donald "buying" RAW was legit, causing stock to plummet a bit. But Trump did go out with a bang, as announced in this press release issued prior to the show:

Trump Gives Money Back

STAMFORD, Conn.---In the fact or fiction world of WWE®, it is a fact that Donald Trump held a press conference today in Green Bay at Austin Straubel Airport. As the new "owner" of Monday Night RAW®, Trump announced that all ticketholders to tonight's RAW event at the Resch Center will receive a ticket refund. The total value of all ticket refunds is approximately $235,000. RAW will be presented commercial free live tonight at 9 pm/8pm CT on USA Network.

Tonight's main event will be WWE Champion Randy Orton® versus Triple H® in a Last Man Standing match.

The commercial-free show did feature some in-show product placement, but it did not feature a winner in the last man standing match. The two were booked to meet again that weekend in a three stages of hell match at The Bash.

6 years ago today, Martha Hart, the widow of Owen Hart, announces she is suing WWE for the company using his likeness and name for marketing purposes. The statement sent out on her behalf:

Widow of Deceased Professional Wrestler Owen Hart Files Lawsuit Against World Wrestling Entertainment, Vince McMahon & Linda McMahon

WWE continues to use Owen Hart's Name and Image for Marketing more than 11 Years After he Was Killed in a WWE-sponsored Stunt; In Violation of Contract and Contrary to Family's Wishes

HARTFORD, Conn., June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Martha Hart, the widow of the late Owen Hart, a professional wrestler who was killed in a May 1999 stunt orchestrated by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) today filed suit in the U.S. District Court here against WWE, Vince McMahon (current chairman and CEO) and Linda McMahon (CEO until 2009). The lawsuit alleges the WWE and the McMahons used Owen Hart's name and likeness without right in dozens of commercial videos and other materials, violated a contract restricting the use of Owen Hart's name, likeness and wrestling footage, and disregarded Martha Hart's wishes against further association of her late husband's name with WWE following his death. (Mrs. Hart and WWE settled a wrongful death lawsuit in 2000. Mrs. Hart established the Owen Hart Foundation later that year.)

"In the eleven years since Owen's tragic and avoidable death, I have worked tirelessly to disassociate Owen's name and likeness from anything related to WWE in order to protect our children from any reminder of the circumstances surrounding their father's death, and to avoid any misplaced perception that I endorse WWE," said Martha Hart in a statement.

"Unfortunately, even though WWE, Vince McMahon and Linda McMahon were and are well aware of my wishes and desire to shield my children from WWE and its activities, I was shocked to learn earlier this year that they have been using Owen's name and likeness in videos, websites, television programs and print materials. Given this callous, insensitive and irresponsible behavior, one must question the moral character of Vince and Linda McMahon and the manner in which they conduct their business."

According to the lawsuit filed today before the U.S. District Court in Hartford,

"Since Owen's death, the WWE and McMahons have sought every available opportunity to further exploit Owen's personality for their own commercial benefit. Their use of Owen's name and likeness draws attention to the WWE's ongoing violent and highly questionable theatrical activities that caused Owen's death. Defendants' use of Owen's name and likeness is also in direct disregard of Martha's and her children's objections...The WWE's wrongful use of Owen's name and likeness, over Martha's continuing objection to any association with defendants and in the absence of any legal right of use, creates the wrongful impression that Martha and the Estate now support, approve or condone the video (which they do not)."

The lawsuit seeks to enjoin the WWE from further use of Owen Hart's name and likeness, and seeks unpaid royalties as well as damages for breach of contract, copyright infringement, unjust enrichment, accounting and unfair and deceptive trade practices.

Mrs. Hart is represented by the law firm Nixon Peabody LLP.

The lawsuit was settled in April 2013. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

3 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Best in the World from the Du Burns Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.

  • B.J. Whitmer defeated Mike Bennett.
  • The American Wolves (Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards) defeated Adrenaline Rush (ACH and Tadarius Thomas).
  • Adam Cole defeated Roderick Strong via countout.
  • Michael Elgin defeated Tommaso Ciampa.
  • Matt Taven defeated Jimmy Jacobs and Jay Lethal in a three-way dance to retain the ROH World Television Championship.
  • reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly) defeated C&C Wrestle Factory (Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander) and S.C.U.M. (Cliff Compton and Rhett Titus) in a three-way dance to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
  • Matt Hardy defeated Kevin Steen in a no disqualification match to become #1 contender to the ROH World Championship.
  • Jay Briscoe defeated Mark Briscoe to retain the ROH World Championship.

3 years ago today, New Japan Pro Wrestling presented Dominion 6.22 from Bodymaker Coliseum in Osaka, Japan.

  • In a preshow dark match, Suzuki-gun (Taichi & TAKA Michinoku) defeat Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV.
  • Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov & Rocky Romero) defeat Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA) to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.
  • BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale, Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga) defeat Captain New Japan, Tomoaki Honma & Yuji Nagata.
  • TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) defeat Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) and CHAOS (Takashi Iizuka & Toru Yano) to retain the IWGP Tag Team Championship.
  • Rob Conway defeats Manabu Nakanishi to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Shelton Benjamin) defeat CHAOS (Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii).
  • Tetsuya Naito defeats Yujiro Takahashi.
  • Katsuyori Shibata defeats Hirooki Goto.
  • Prince Devitt defeats Hiroshi Tanahashi.
  • Kazuchika Okada defeats Togi Makabe to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

2 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Best in the World from the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville, Tennessee. This was ROH's first live PPV telecast to cable and satellite providers.

  • ACH defeated BJ Whitmer, Caprice Coleman, Tadarius Thomas, Takaaki Watanabe, and Tommaso Ciampa in Six-Man Mayhem to become the #1 contender for the ROH World Television Championship.
  • Jay Lethal defeated Matt Taven to retain the ROH World Television Championship.
  • Cedric Alexander defeated Roderick Strong in a submission match.
  • The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) defeated Matt Hardy & Michael Bennett in a no disqualification match.
  • Kevin Steen defeated Silas Young.
  • reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly) defeated Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels & Kazarian) to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship.
  • Michael Elgin defeated Adam Cole to win the ROH World Championship.

1 year ago today, TJ Wilson, aka Tyson Kidd, undergoes neck and spinal surgery.

The last graduate of the Hart Dungeon and two-time WWE tag team champion suffered the injury following a Muscle Buster from Samoa Joe during a RAW dark match on June 1. A few weeks later, Wilson revealed on Twitter it could have been a whole lot worse, all things considered:

5% of people survive this injury.  16 staples, 4 screws and a rod later and luckily I survived to tell my story.

Basically, the injury could have fatal. Wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer followed up, saying the injury is similar to the one that left actor Christopher Reeve a quadriplegic. Wilson's future remains in doubt, as he has not returned to the ring since.

1 year ago today, William Fritz Ensor, best known to wrestling fans as "Nature Boy" Buddy Landel, was found dead in his home in Chihowie, Virginia. He was 53.

Born August 14, 1961 in Knoxville, Tennessee, Ensor took interest in professional wrestling when his sister was dating Barry Orton. Landel wrestled in high school, but dropped out his junior year. He trained professionally under Boris Malenko and shared an apartment with Olympic wrestler Bob Roop.

Landel broke in the business in 1979 for Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling. Also competing for "outlaw" promotion International Championship Wrestling, Landel's big break came in 1985 for Jim Crockett Promotions. He feuded with another "Nature Boy", Ric Flair for most of the year. His signature moment came at Starrcade that year when he defeated Terry Taylor for the NWA National Heavyweight Championship. He was set to feud with Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship before he had a falling out with management and left the company. Or as Landel tells it in a 2011 interview, his drug abuse issues got the best of him:

"I fell asleep at a hotel and took a bunch of good cocaine that whole night and did a bunch of valiums. Black Bart [Rick Harris] was with me and told me that we had to go TV. I had just bought a brand new Lincoln and threw him the car keys and told him that I would catch a cab and be there later.

They started [the tapings] at 9 o'clock that morning, and by 11 o'clock I had hung up on Dusty [Rhodes] and [Jim] Crockett and told them to not call me again. I was National champion at the time. When I got there, Dusty told me to give him the belt, and that I didn't work there anymore. I said OK."

Landel returned to Tennessee in 1986, headlining the last sold-out show at the Mid-South Coliseum. He worked the Alabama territories for the remainder of the 1980s before returning to the NWA in 1990. The "Battle of the Nature Boys" finally came to fruition, and the two met in a gauntlet match in November 1990. But just as it did five years earlier, his substance abuse issues got the better of him, and the storyline was dropped after just three months. He returned to the independent circuit and was set to face another "Nature Boy", Buddy Rogers in early 1992 for the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight Championship, but the promotion folded before the match took place.

Landel landed in Smoky Mountain Wrestling in 1994 and enjoyed a career resurgence, holding the SMW's television and heavyweight championships. In August 1995, Landel took on then-WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels at Super Bowl of Wrestling, the biggest show in the promotion's history.

Though it was a losing effort, the strength of his SMW run got him in the door of the WWF after Jim Cornette's promotion folded later in the year. Landel, taking on a spitting image of Ric Flair (even using Flair's WWF theme music), began with the company on the same day as The Ringmaster (who would go on to somewhat moderate success as Stone Cold Steve Austin). His only notable match was in a losing effort against Bret Hart for the WWF Championship at the taping.

Following the taping, Landel slipped on a sheet of ice, tearing his right quadriceps. He would miss six months of action. Upon healing, he largely returned to the independent circuit, wrestling only a few matches with the WWF in 1999.

On June 21, 2015, Landel was involved in an auto accident. He checked himself out of the hospital and returned home. The next day, he was found unresponsive in his home. At the time of Buddy's death, he left a wife of 34 years, Donna, two daughters, and one grandson.

Happy 34th birthday to Tetsuya Naito.

Though he had brief runs in TNA and CMLL in New Mexico, he is best known for his time in New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he won their NEVER Openweight Championship and won both their heavyweight and junior heavyweight tag team championships. In 2013, he won the G1 Climax tournament.

Last November, Naito formed Los Ingobernables de Japon (The Ungovernables of Japan) with Bushi and EVIL, based on the Mexican heel stable of the same name. In March 2016, Naito won the annual New Japan Cup, enabling him to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. The next month at Invasion Attack, Naito defeated Kazuchika Okada to win the title for the first time. He lost the title earlier this week at Dominion 6.19 to Okada.

Happy 42nd birthday to Kimberly Dawn Davis. She's worked under a few names, including Charlotte, The Southern Belle, but you probably know her best these days as "The Bullet Babe" Amber O' Neal.

Davis is married to Drew Hankinson, aka Luke Gallows. She is one half of the WOW Tag Team Champions as The All-American Girls with current NWA Womens Champion Santana Garrett.

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