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This Day in Wrestling History (August 24): The First Ever Smackdown

Today’s TDIPWH will be presented in two parts. The second part will focus on the career and life of WWE chairman Vince McMahon, who celebrates his 71st birthday today.

31 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine) defeated the US Express (Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

29 years ago today in Memphis, Tennessee, Don Bass defeated Jerry Lawler to win the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. The win ended Lawler's fiftieth reign as champion. Lawler would win it back just four days later, then vacated it about a little over a month later to go after the AWA World Tag Team Championship.

Lawler would win the title one last time (for a total of 52 reigns) in November 1987 just before it was unified with the AWA International Heavyweight and the NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Championships to create the Continental Wrestling Association Heavyweight Championship.

26 years ago today in East Rutherford, New Jersey, The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) defeated The Rock ‘n Roll Express to win the NWA United States Tag Team Championship.

22 years ago today, WCW presented Clash of the Champions XXVIII (WWE Network link) from the Five Seasons Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Highlighted by the first ever singles match between Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair on broadcast television, this edition of the Clash drew one of the highest ratings for any cable wrestling show ever to that point (the show as a whole was seen in over 2.75 million households, with the main event being watched by 4.12 million households, at the time a record for any wrestling match on cable).

The show featured the final televised match of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat until 2009, as he suffered a career-ending back injury during his match. Adding insult to injury, Steamboat, who had been associated with the NWA for most of the previous 20 years, would be fired via FedEx the next month.

  • The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags) defeated Pretty Wonderful (Paul Orndorff & Paul Roma).
  • Ricky Steamboat defeated Steve Austin to win the WCW United States Championship. The title could have changed hands on a disqualification.
  • Dustin Rhodes & Dusty Rhodes defeated Bunkhouse Buck & Terry Funk by disqualification. Of note, this was Dusty’s first match for WCW since being fired by the company in 1988.
  • Antonio Inoki defeated Lord Steven Regal via submission.
  • Ric Flair defeated Hulk Hogan by countout in a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match.

20 years ago today, WWF presented EX-perience from Canadian National Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 21,211 were in attendance for the event celebrating the tenth anniversary of The Big Event, taking place in the same building (with more than triple the attendance).

  • The Godwinns (Henry & Phineas) defeated The New Rockers (Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy).
  • Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeated Bob Holly.
  • Savio Vega defeated Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw.
  • Jose Lothario defeated Jim Cornette.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Marc Mero by countout.
  • Sycho Sid defeated Vader in a lumberjack match. Playing the role of the lumberjacks were members of the Canadian Football League team the Toronto Argonauts.
  • Faarooq defeated Aldo Montoya.
  • Owen Hart & The British Bulldog defeated The Smoking Gunns (Billy & Bart) via disqualification in a WWF Tag Team Championship match.
  • The Undertaker defeated Mankind in a casket match.
  • Shawn Michaels defeated Goldust in a ladder match to retain the WWF Championship.

18 years ago today on RAW is WAR from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (WWE Network link), WWF Tag Team Champions Mankind and Kane fought each other to a no contest in a Hell in a Cell match.

On the undercard, Bart Gunn defeated Bradshaw by knockout to win the Brawl For All tournament and $75,000.

Gunn scored the only three knockout victories of the shoot-fighting tournament, knocking out tournament favorite “Dr. Death” Steve Williams in the second round (Williams defeated Quebecer Pierrer in the first round) and The Godfather in the semifinals. Bradshaw got $25,000 for reaching the finals.

The Brawl For All would be the height of Gunn’s run in the WWF; the following March at Wrestlemania XV, Gunn was knocked out in 35 seconds by pro boxer Eric “Butterbean” Esch. Gunn would be released shortly afterwards. There is speculation that Gunn’s loss to Butterbean was punishment for defeating the “office favorite”, Steve Williams.

17 years ago today, WWF taped the first ever episode of Smackdown (WWE Network link) from the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri.

Though there was a pilot shot four months earlier, this taping, airing two days later on UPN, is considered the debut episode. This is also the first WWF event in Kansas City since Owen Hart's death at Over the Edge three months earlier. The show got a 5.8 rating, with about 9 million viewers watching.

  • Mr. Ass defeated Jeff Jarrett.
  • The Undertaker and The Big Show defeated Kane & X-Pac & The Acolytes (Faarooq & Bradshaw) to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • Big Bossman defeated Al Snow to win the WWF Hardcore Championship.
  • Road Dogg defeated Chris Jericho by disqualification.
  • Shane McMahon defeated Mankind.
  • Tori defeated Ivory in an Evening Gown match.
  • Triple H defeated The Rock to retain the WWF Championship. Shawn Michaels was the special referee and had a direct hand in the finish: Michaels hit Sweet Chin Music on The Rock as he was going for the People's Elbow. It would be Michaels' final appearance for the WWF until May 2000.

13 years ago today, WWE presented Summerslam (WWE Network link) from the America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. 16,113 were in attendance, with 465,000 homes watching on PPV, which was down from 540,000 for the 2002 edition.

The show featured the debut of Rob Conway, who interfered in the World Tag Team Championship match and the shortest elimination chamber match in WWE history, as participants entered in three-minute intervals instead of five.

  • In a preshow Sunday Night Heat match, Matt Hardy defeated Zach Gowen via forfeit.
  • In a preshow Sunday Night Heat match, Rey Mysterio defeated Shannon Moore to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
  • La Résistance (René Duprée and Sylvain Grenier) defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) to retain the World Tag Team Championship.
  • The Undertaker defeated A-Train.
  • Shane McMahon defeated Eric Bischoff in a no-disqualification, falls count anywhere match.
  • Eddie Guerrero defeated Chris Benoit, Rhyno and Tajiri in a fatal four-way match to retain the WWE United States Championship.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Brock Lesnar via submission to retain the WWE Championship.
  • Kane defeated Rob Van Dam in a no holds barred match.
  • Triple H defeated Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton and Kevin Nash in an Elimination Chamber match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. Goldberg got three of the five eliminations in the match (Orton, Michaels, and Jericho), but Triple H got the one that mattered: he eliminated Goldberg to win the match and retain the title.

13 years ago today, famed British sports commentator, presenter, and actor Kent Walton died due to a stroke in Guildford, Surrey, England. He passed away just two days after his 86th birthday.

Born in Cairo, Egypt as Kenneth Walton Beckett and raised in Haslemere, Surrey, he tried his hand at acting until World War II broke out. He then served as part of the Royal Air Force as a radio operator and front gunner. He returned to acting following the war, but hit his mark as a sports commentator, working football and tennis matches.

In November 1955, he would become ITV's lead voice for wrestling, a job he would carry over to the network’s Saturday sports show, World of Sport. His "Greetings grappling fans!" and “Have a good week... til next week” would become signatures of his broadcasts for over thirty years.

At the height of its popularity, as many as seven million people (the number rose to 12 million for FA Cup finals days) watched ITV wrestling matches, including several members of the Royal Family--even Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister at the time Margaret Thatcher were fans of the show. Perhaps as a sign of foreshadowing, in the 1979 World of Sport Annual, Walton was concerned that gimmicks would overtake the art of wrestling someday.

With World of Sport cancelled in September 1985, ITV’s weekly wrestling show was moved to a lunchtime slot on Saturday. It wasn’t long for this world; with ratings continuing to slide and the imported WWF gaining popularity, the British wrestling program was cancelled in 1988 after 33 years on the air.

Walton, who also did voiceover work, is a member of the 2011 class of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. At the time of his passing, Walton was survived by his wife of 54 years, Lynn Smith, and one son.

The above video is a short documentary on the long-running British wrestling program narrated by Walton, Everything Stops at Four O'Clock, the time the show ran on Saturday afternoon.

4 years ago today, Ariane Andrew, aka Cameron, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Tampa, Florida.

The news didn't come out until a week later during the WWE's annual Australian tour. Andrew had already performed on one of the shows, but was sent home prior to the second. She was suspended for fifteen days on August 29.

1 year ago today on RAW from Brooklyn, New York (WWE Network link), The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von) returned to WWE as a team for the first time since 2005.

Bubba Ray actually returned in a one-time only appearance earlier in the year as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble match. The then 18-time world tag team champions (8 in ECW, 10 in WWE, including one WCW tag title during the Invasion era) were released back in the summer of 2005 as part of a series of budget cuts.

They landed in TNA soon after as Team 3D (WWE would not allow them to use the Dudley ring name) and would become one of the company’s most successful duos. They would win the NWA world tag titles once and the TNA world tag titles twice. They would also win the IWGP Tag Team Championship twice as part of TNA’s working agreement with New Japan Pro Wrestling.

As singles competitors, Bubba Ray would win the TNA world title twice as Bully Ray, while D-Von (as Devon) won the TNA television title twice. They would join the TNA Hall of Fame in 2014.

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