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This Day in Wrestling History (August 26): A Match Made In Heaven, A Match Made in Hell

this day in wrestling history

41 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Blackjacks (Lanza & Mulligan) defeated Irish Pat Barrett & Dominic DeNucci to win the WWWF Tag Team Championship. Barrett was a substitute for Victor Rivera, who was holding the tag titles with DeNucci until he had left the company.

37 years ago today in Orlando, Florida, Harley Race defeated Dusty Rhodes to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

30 years ago today, WWF taped the first ever episodes of WWF Superstars of Wrestling from the Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

Airing the weekend of September 6, Superstars of Wrestling (shortened later to Superstars) replaced WWF Championship Wrestling as the WWF’s flagship show until the introduction of Monday Night RAW in 1993, meaning most of the biggest happenings on WWF television at the time happened on Superstars.

543 episodes of Superstars were taped before the show shifted into a highlights-only format in early 1997. The show was discontinued in 2001, but was rebooted as WWE Superstars in 2009. The newer series is considered separate from the original.

The company’s B-show, All-Star Wrestling, would be replaced that weekend too, with WWF Wrestling Challenge. The promoted Superstars of Wrestling (originally the WWF’s C-show), would be replaced with Wrestling Spotlight, a show consisting primarily of recaps.

Superstars of Wrestling and Wrestling Challenge followed a similar format: upper-tier and mid-tier talent would compete in squash matches against lower-tier (usually local or in-house jobber) talent, with one featured bout featuring main WWF talent. In addition, there would be pre-taped interviews and promos and information about upcoming events in local markets.

There were a couple of notable bits of trivia with these tapings: Jesse Ventura returned to the booth for the first time since taking time off to film Predator (Ventura would team with Vince McMahon and Bruno Sammartino in the booth). The WWF introduced the Federettes at this taping, a group of ring girls that would take the robes and jackets of the wrestlers backstage (Missy Hyatt was offered a role as a Federette, but turned it down, saying the role was beneath her).

But wait, there’s more! Koko B. Ware made his WWF debut at the taping, teaming with Paul Roma in a losing effort to the Hart Foundation. On the same taping, Mick Foley (yes, THAT Mick Foley) wrestling as Jack Foley (as a tribute to his father) teamed with Les Thornton in a losing effort to the British Bulldogs. It was Foley’s second ever professional match.

25 years ago today, WWF presented Summerslam: The Match Made in Heaven/The Match Made in Hell (WWE Network link) from Madison Square Garden in New York City. About 20,000 were in attendance, with about 405,000 homes watching on PPV, though some estimates have it as high as 600,000 buys.

The show featured the "wedding" of Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth (though the two have actually been legally married for about seven years at this point—and their marriage was on shaky ground; the couple divorced just over a year later) and the final appearance of the Ulitmate Warrior until Wrestlemania VIII, as he was indefinitely suspended following the event after holding out for more money.

  • The British Bulldog, The Dragon, and The Texas Tornado defeated Power and Glory (Hercules and Paul Roma) and The Warlord.
  • Bret Hart defeated Mr. Perfect to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship. This would be Perfect's final match for a little over a year, as he suffered a broken tailbone and bulged discs in his back and needed time away to recover. During his 15 months away, he transitioned to commentating and managing.
  • The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon) defeated The Bushwhackers (Butch and Luke). This match featured the final television appearance of Andre the Giant in the WWF.
  • Virgil defeated Ted DiBiase to win the Million Dollar Championship.
  • The Big Bossman defeated The Mountie in a jailhouse match. As a result of the loss, the Mountie had to spend a night in jail.
  • The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) defeated The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags) in a no-disqualification match to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. The win made the Legion of Doom (or Road Warriors if you prefer) the first (and only duo) to win the AWA, NWA, and WWF tag team titles.
  • Irwin R. Schyster defeated Greg Valentine.
  • Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior defeated The Triangle of Terror (Sgt. Slaughter, Gen. Adnan, and Col. Mustafa) in a handicap match. Sid Justice was the special referee.

17 years ago today at an ECW on TNN taping in Queens, New York (WWE Network link), The Dudley Boyz defeated Spike Dudley and Balls Mahoney to win the ECW World Tag Team Championship for the eighth time.

This stunned fans, as it was widely known that the Dudleys were WWF-bound following the event. But a funny thing happened on the way to Stamford: an injured Tommy Dreamer was challenged by the Dudleys to take the belts off them, and Dreamer had a most unlikely partner: long-time rival Raven, having returned to the company after walking out on WCW two days prior.

Moments later, Dreamer and Raven defeated the Dudleys to win the tag team titles. Post-match, the Dudleys were given a standing ovation and farewell.

16 years ago today, UPN broadcasts the first episode of Smackdown. For full results, check out This Day in Wrestling History from August 24.

14 years ago today on RAW from New York City (WWE Network link), Rob Van Dam defeated Tommy Dreamer in a hardcore match to unify the WWE Intercontinental and Hardcore Championships.

After 240 title changes spanning four years (225 of them via the 24/7 rule), the Hardcore Championship is retired. It was briefly brought back in 2006 when Edge and Mick Foley declared themselves co-hardcore champions, but this reign is not recognized, nor was the belt ever defended.

9 years ago today, WWE presented Summerslam (WWE Network link) from the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. 17,441 were in attendance, with 537,000 homes watching on PPV, a slight nudge up from 528,000 the previous year.

The show featured the returns of Triple H and Rey Mysterio, both of whom have missed extended time due to knee injuries.

  • Kane defeated Finlay.
  • Umaga defeated Carlito and Mr. Kennedy to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Rey Mysterio defeated Chavo Guerrero.
  • Beth Phoenix defeated Michelle McCool, Torrie Wilson, Melina, Mickie James, Jillian, Kelly Kelly, Kristal Marshall, Victoria, Layla, Maria, and Brooke in a Divas battle royal to become the #1 contender for the WWE Womens Championship.
  • John Morrison defeated CM Punk to retain the ECW Heavyweight Championship.
  • Triple H defeated King Booker.
  • Batista defeated The Great Khali by disqualification in a World Heavyweight Championship match.
  • John Cena defeated Randy Orton to retain the WWE Championship.

7 years ago today, IWA Mid-South Wrestling announces that its next show, scheduled for two days later, would be its last.

Founded by ECW's Ian Rotten in 1996, IWA Mid-South often found itself at the center of controversy (i.e. deathmatches, the Mike Levy Incident), but also housed talents such as CM Punk, Nigel McGuinness, and Chris Hero as they were coming up through the ranks of the independent circuit.

In its prime, the promotion hosted at least one event every month from 2002 to 2007 (including about one a week on average from 2002 to 2005).

The promotion also hosted the annual Ted Petty Invitiational, named after one half of famed ECW tag team Public Enemy's Flyboy Rocco Rock, attracted some of the best wrestlers on the independent circuit from 2000 to 2008. Winners of that tournament included Hero, BJ Whitmer, AJ Styles, and Low Ki. The tournament returned after a seven-year absence last December, with Kongo Kong as the winner.

IWA Mid-South has since returned and shutdown twice. The promotion is currently up and running. For now.

5 years ago today, Luke Gallows and Cliff Compton were scheduled to tour and perform in Nigeria, but their shows were cancelled after a bombing at the United Nations building in the capital city Abuja that killed 20 people. The ordeal made Compton something of an Internet darling after he shared his near-death experience.

5 years ago today, Hunico (Jorge Arias) began performing as Sin Cara.

WWE was on the fence about releasing Luis Urive, the original Sin Cara (he had a disappointing run to that point, including being suspended on a Wellness Policy violation). Eventually, they kept the original, leading the two Sin Caras to feud when the original returned.

In a bit of irony, it was the original Sin Cara that replaced Hunico as Mistico in Mexico. And in a cruel twist of fate, Hunico would actually end up replacing the original Sin Cara, as Arias began permanently wrestling under the gimmick in December 2013, while Urive was officially released from WWE just days before Wrestlemania XXX.

5 years ago today, Mary Alfonsi, aka Donna Christanello passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in her hometown of Pittsburgh. She was 69.

Born May 23, 1942 in Pittsburgh, Christanello was employed as a waitress when after some contacts, connected with The Fabulous Moolah. She and her friend moved to South Carolina in 1963 to train with Moolah. While her friend lasted just one match, Donna would last nearly 30 years in the business. In 1969, she competed on an Australian tour that featured Rita and Betty Boucher, Evelyn Stevens, and Toni Rose, who would go on to be the long-time tag team partner of Christanello.

Toni and Donna won the NWA Womens World Tag Team Championship in 1970 and would hold them for most of the next three years before losing them to Joyce Grable and Vicki Williams in Madison Square Garden. The titles would be defended in the NWA, AWA, and eventually land in the WWF as the first women's tag champions.

Christanello would have a run in the WWF, highlighted by competing in the first all-ladies Survivor Series match in 1987, where she would team with one of her protégés, Sensational Sherri Martel. Christanello would live with the Fabulous Moolah off and on for over 35 years before moving back home to Pittsburgh. Post-retirement, she worked for Wal-Mart's accounting department. Donna is a member of the 2009 class of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. Tribute courtesy of the Keystone State Wrestling Association's official Youtube.

1 year and one day ago today, Bronson Matthews, aka Joshua Bredl, and Sara Lee were announced as the winners of the 2015 Tough Enough competition.

Both Matthews and Lee received one-year contracts with WWE worth $250,000 as their prize. As of this writing, both are still with the company today.

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