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This Day in Wrestling History (August 6): The Resurrection of Vince McMahon

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23 years ago today in Sheffield, England, Hulk Hogan defeated Yokozuna by disqualification in a WWF Championship match.

This would be Hogan’s final WWF match after nearly a decade with the company. Returning to the WWF in late 1983, Hogan’s run was transformational for not only the WWF, but wrestling in general, as he became virtually the face of the business in the 1980s.

Hulk would be the first man to win the WWF Championship three times (a record he extended to five before he left), highlighted by his first run as WWF Champion that lasted from January 1984 to February 1988. After taking some time off, Hogan returned to the ring for WCW in July 1994.

Also finishing with the WWF on this show was Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. In his final bout with the company, he defeated Terry Taylor.

The star-crossed Beefcake had a nine-year run with the company and was a WWF Tag Team Champion in late 1985 and early 1986. Beefcake had was pegged for an Intercontinental Championship run twice, but injuries prevented either run from happening (a head laceration in 1988, a parasailing accident in 1990 that kept him from the ring for over two years). Beefcake followed his BFF Hogan to WCW in 1994. Unlike Hogan, Beefcake never again wrestled for the WWF.

22 years ago today in Johnson City, Tennessee, Chris Candido & Brian Lee defeated The Rock ‘n Roll Express to regain the Smoky Mountain Wrestling Tag Team Championship just one day after losing the titles to the Express. Candido and Lee would lose the title back to the Express just two days later.

21 years ago today, WCW presented Clash of the Champions XXXI (WWE Network link) from the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida.

  • Sting & Road Warrior Hawk defeated Meng & Kurasawa when Hawk pinned Kurasawa. After the match, Kurasawa "broke" Hawk's arm. In reality, it was a write-off: Hawk really did suffer an arm injury the month prior, and he was still recovering from a back injury that kept him limited over the past year and a half.
  • Diamond Dallas Page defeated Alex Wright.
  • The Renegade defeated Paul Orndorff to retain the WCW World Television Championship.
  • Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) and Sherri Martel defeated Bunkhouse Buck, Dick Slater, and Col. Robert Parker to earn a WCW World Tag Team Championship match.
  • Big Van Vader defeated Arn Anderson & Ric Flair in a handicap match.

15 years ago today on RAW is WAR from Anaheim, California (WWE Network link), Tajiri defeated X-Pac to win the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship.

In the show's main event, The Rock defeated Shane McMahon in a street fight. It was The Rock's first match since the night after Wrestlemania X-Seven.

9 years ago today on RAW from Buffalo, New York (WWE Network link), Vince McMahon returns to WWE programming for the first time since the Monday after the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide more than a month earlier.

The McMahon character was “killed off” in a limousine explosion, but the "funeral" (and the storyline as a whole) was retconned after the bodies of Benoit, his wife Nancy, and his son Daniel were all found dead in their home in suburban Atlanta.

In his first act back, McMahon announces a 20-man over-the-top-rope battle royal for the RAW General Manager post, which was won by William Regal.

Today is the 30th birthday of Rebecca Reyes, best known to wrestling fans as Reby Sky.

A diehard New York Giants fan, she was featured on the MTV reality series, True Life: I’m a Sports Fanatic. Reyes, who also models, was Miss Howard TV 2009, which in a somewhat roundabout way, kicked off her wrestling career. Her pro wrestling debut came in 2010 for Lucha Libre USA, first as an interviewer and commentator, but eventually as an in-ring competitor. She's also appeared for SHINE Wrestling, Family Wrestling Entertainment, TNA, and OMEGA, which is owned by her husband Matt Hardy. The couple married in October 2013, and just recently had their first child together.

Also having a happy 30th birthday today is Thomas Raymond Latimer, aka Bram.

He's best known as Kenneth Cameron from his time in WWE's developmental territory as part of the original Ascension. In a bit of trivia, in the first episode of the NXT reboot, the Ascension defeated Mike Dalton (now Tyler Breeze) and CJ Parker. Latimer was released from WWE after being charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and public intoxication in November 2012. Bram has become something of a meme lately after it was outed that he signed three new contracts with TNA in a ten-month period. Latimer was married to Ashley Fleihr, aka Charlotte of WWE fame, but their divorce was finalized in October 2015.

Today would have been the 68th birthday of Adolfo Bresciano, best known to wrestling fans as Dino Bravo.

Born in Italy, Bresciano began wrestling in 1970 under the training of Gino Brito. Bresciano often teamed with his mentor as his billed cousin. Bresciano would adopt the name Dino Bravo, based on a 1960's wrestler who teamed with Dominic Denucci. His most notable tag team pairing of the time was with "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods, with whom he held the NWA World Tag Team Championship (Jim Crockett Promotions version). He also feuded with Blackjack Mulligan over the United States championship and had several shots at Harley Race and the NWA world title.

In 1978, Bravo and Denucci captured the WWWF Tag Team Championship from Professor Tanaka and Mr. Fuji. The duo would hold them through the spring, losing them in June to the Yukon Lumberjacks. Bravo teamed with King Tonga (later known as Haku and Meng), but the duo never found success. Bravo quit the WWF in 1986 when a scheduled main event with he and Hulk Hogan was cancelled on short notice. The reason: allegedly, the WWF did not want the Montreal crowd to cheer Bravo over Hogan (Bravo by this point had become a major star in the Montreal area). When Bravo found out, he left.

He wouldn't stay gone for long. He was back a year later, and noticeably bigger (possibly due to steroids). He dyed his hair blond and was a part of Luscious Johnny Valiant's stable with Greg "The Hammer" Valentine and Brutus Beefcake. Beefcake was kicked from the stable at Wrestlemania III; a few months later, Bravo began a singles run.

His singles run emphasized Bravo as a strongman, eschewing technical wrestling for power-based maneuvers. Legitimately strong (it's been said he could lift more than 500 pounds), Bravo went after the bench press world record at the 1988 Royal Rumble by trying to bench press 715 pounds (at the time, the record was 705.5 pounds). With the help of Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Bravo claimed the lift was a success, and would begin calling himself "The World's Strongest Man". Bravo feuded with Don Muraco, fellow strongman Ken Patera, Ron Garvin, and Jim Garvin. Bravo for much of his strongman era wore the Quebecois Fleur-de-lis and was managed by Frenchy Martin. Following Martin's departure, Bravo joined Jimmy Hart's stable, teaming with another Canadian in Earthquake, and feuding with Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, and Tugboat.

After losing to Kerry Von Erich at Wrestlemania VII in 1991, he mostly disappeared from television, though he had a face run when the WWF came to Montreal. After a European tour in April 1992, Bravo called it a career. Post-retirement, he trained wrestlers in Montreal.

On March 10, 1993, Bresciano was found shot dead in his home while watching hockey in Vimont, Laval, Quebec. He was shot 17 times: seven in the head, and ten in the torso. Though there were allegations that he had been involved in a cigarette smuggling ring, it was never officially proven. Rick Martel, a fellow Canadian wrestler and friend of Bresciano, believes his popularity in the Montreal area upset some members of the mafia. Bresciano, a nephew of Montreal crime boss Vic Cotroni by marriage, may have been linked to Cotroni's organization. In the days prior to his death, Bresciano confided to friends that he knew his death was imminent. Bresciano's murder has never been officially solved.

It’s a happy 74th birthday to James Fanning, best known as Jimmy Valiant.

Over Valiant's 50-year career, he feuded with Jerry Lawler, Paul Jones and his Army, and the New Breed, and was a key player in the Memphis and Carolina territories. The three-year feud between Valiant and Jones culminated in Jimmy defeating Paul in a no-disqualification match at Starrcade 1986. Valiant has wrestled primarily on the independent circuit since while running a wrestling school in Shawsville, Virginia. He wrote a book, Woo...Mercy Daddy! Welcome to My World: The Jimmy Valiant Story, chronicling his life. Valiant was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1996.

Today would have been the 84th birthday of Aurelian "Grizzly" Smith.

Smith's career began in 1958 in Texas while he worked part-time on an oil rig. Smith and Luke Brown together formed the Kentuckians, where they would hold four tag team championships in the Midwest, southeast, and western Canada. He also found success in Big Time Wrestling winning the NWA Texas Heavyweight title and the NWA American tag team championship with Fritz Von Erich. Following his retirement, Smith promoted wrestling events in Louisiana and Mississippi, with a stopover at Bill Watts' Universal Wrestling Federation.

Smith sired four children, three of whom became wrestlers: Aurelian, Jr. (aka Jake "The Snake" Roberts; Roberts said he was conceived as the result of a rape when his father raped his grandmother's 12-year old daughter), Michael (aka Sam Houston), and Robin (aka Rockin' Robin). The other, JoLynn (Roberts' sister), was kidnapped and murdered by her husband's ex-wife.

Smith and his son Michael lost most of their possessions after Hurricane Katrina ravaged their home in 2005, just one day after Aurelian scraped his leg and got a staph infection. Because of the storm, he could not receive medical attention right away; as a result, he nearly had his leg amputated. Smith, who wrestled at 6’8” and 350 pounds, weighed just 165 pounds in his final days. He died in June 2010 from Alzheimer's disease in Amarillo, Texas. He was 77.