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This Day in Wrestling History (Sept. 13): A Smackdown To Remember

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this day in wrestling history

78 years ago today, John Pesek was awarded the National Wrestling Association Heavyweight Championship after the champion at the time Everett Marshall refused at their annual meeting to post a $1,000 bond ($16,711 in today's dollars) for a proposed tournament. Pesek was the only contender willing to post the bond, so he was awarded the title.

Pesek is soon stripped of the title when he refused to take on the top contenders to the championship. Three months later, Lou Thesz won the vacated title when he defeated Everett Marshall.

It wouldn’t be the only time Pesek was stripped of a championship; in 1940, he was stripped of the Midwest Wrestling Association championship for refusing to face top contenders.

30 years ago today, WWF taped the seventh edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event (WWE Network link) from the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio.

The show did not air on NBC until October 4, a full three weeks later. At the time, it’s the longest gap between between the show’s taping and its original airing in the series (the longest would end up being 32 days for the 21st edition; it was taped April 25, 1989, but did not air until May 27).

• Hulk Hogan defeated Paul Orndorff by disqualification to retain the WWF Championship.

• Ricky Steamboat defeated Jake Roberts in a Snake Pit match.

• Roddy Piper defeated The Iron Sheik.

• The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid) defeated The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake & Greg Valentine) 2-1 in a best of three falls match to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.

• Kamala defeated Lanny Poffo.

23 years ago today on Monday Night RAW (WWE Network link) from New York City, The Quebecers (Pierre & Jacques) defeat The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) via disqualification in a "Province of Quebec Rules" match to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

This is the only time the tag titles have changed hands on a disqualification in WWE history.

23 years ago today in Memphis, Tennessee, Tatanka defeated Jerry Lawler to win the USWA Unified Heavyweight Championship.

18 years ago today in Guadalajara, Mexico, Rayo de Jalisco, Jr. defeated Universo 2000 to win the CMLL World Heavyweight Championship. The win made Rayo de Jalisco, Jr. the first two-time CMLL World Heavyweight Champion.

As CMLL emphasizes lower weight classes (out of necessity as there aren’t as many heavyweight wrestlers on their roster), anyone who holds their heavyweight title is bound to have a long title run (in fact, only two out of 18 title reigns not including vacancies have lasted less than 200 days).

Universo 2000 would become the second two-time CMLL heavyweight champion when he defeats Rayo for the title in December 1999. He goes on to hold it for a record 1,225 days, or over three years.

Another side note: Sean Morley, who is most remembered as Val Venis from late 1990s and early 2000s WWF/E, held the CMLL heavyweight title in 1997 as Steele.

18 years ago today, WCW presented Fall Brawl: War Games (WWE Network link) from the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 11,528 were in attendance, with 275,000 watching on PPV, which was up 80,000 from 1997's edition.

The main event makes history on multiple levels: it’s the last time the match is contested in a double cage, it’s the last time WarGames is contested on PPV, and for the first time, pinfalls were allowed.

It was also a three-team WarGames match, but in reality, it was a nine-man, every-man-for-himself free-for-all, as only the man who got the decision got the spoils; in this case, the winner got a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match at Halloween Havoc. The match could be won at any time, even if all the participants weren’t in the match.

  • Jim Neidhart & The British Bulldog defeated Alex Wright & Disco Inferno. During the bout, Bulldog took an awkward bump on a trap door meant to be used for Warrior later in the show. Bulldog would actually wrestle for another month before being diagnosed with a nearly-paralyzing spinal infection.
  • Chris Jericho defeated “Goldberg” to retain the WCW World Television Championship.
  • Ernest “The Cat” MIller defeated Norman Smiley.
  • Rick Steiner and Scott Steiner fought to a no contest.
  • Juventud Guerrera defeated Silver King to retain the WCW World Cruiserweight Championship.
  • Perry Saturn defeated Raven in a Raven's Rules match. Had Saturn lost, he would have had to rejoin the Flock. As a result of the win, the Flock was disbanded.
  • Dean Malenko defeated Curt Hennig by disqualification.
  • Konnan defeated Scott Hall.
  • Team WCW (Diamond Dallas Page, Roddy Piper & The Warrior) defeated The nWo Hollywood (Bret Hart, Hollywood Hogan & Stevie Ray) and The nWo Wolfpac (Kevin Nash, Lex Luger & Sting) in a three-team War Games match. Diamond Dallas Page got the pinfall over Stevie Ray; as a result, he would be the #1 contender to the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. In a side note, this is the first time since 1995 that a face team won the War Games match.

17 years and 3 days ago today, Eric Bischoff is removed from his post as WCW President.

Bischoff was brought into WCW as an announcer in 1991 after unsuccessfully auditioning for the WWF. In 1993, Bischoff became WCW’s executive producer, replacing Bill Watts, who resigned after some racist comments attributed to him surfaced. The next year, he became WCW’s Executive Vice President, and would usher in the rise of WCW. It was on Bischoff’s watch the company turned in a profit for the first time ever in 1995; by 1997, he was officially the President of WCW.

WCW’s advantage over the WWF would slowly disappear over the course of 1998, and though the company posted strong revenue and attendance, by the spring of 1999, WCW was operating at a loss.

The story as written in the September 19, 1999 edition of Pro Wrestling Torch:

Some people in WCW didn’t think he’d ever lose his job, while others are shocked it took this long. Eric Bischoff, the young, energetic, brash, daring, motivated executive who made WCW no. 1 after years of follies, is no longer involved in WCW. Friday morning, Sept. 10 at WCW’s headquarters in suburban Atlanta, Ga., Bischoff’s boss Harvey Schiller announced to WCW’s division heads that Bischoff had been removed as president of WCW. Sources close to Bischoff say he had been concerned about his job security for the last several months, and especially the last several weeks. WCW’s ratings, PPV buyrates, and attendance figures were all sagging. Bischoff, the man who orchestrated WCW’s rise from a distant no. 2 to the WWF to a thriving, mainstream no. 1, had also overseen the fall of the empire. WCW, in the last two months alone, had lost over $8 million. Bischoff knew he had to turn the tide. It was his attempts to find a short–term fix that may have cost him his job. Known for his attraction to mainstream celebrities—both for business and personal reasons—Bischoff signed deals with Megadeth, Chad Brock, Kiss, Insane Clown Posse, and Dennis Rodman in recent months. Every one of the cross–over tie–ins failed to attract a new lot of WCW fans. Meanwhile, the WWF continued to expand Raw’s lead over Nitro on Monday nights.

Bischoff, who couldn’t seem to do anything right in recent months, was once known for having a Midas touch. He was hired by WCW in 1992 for, as he described it in a 1994 “Torch Talk” interview, a C-level announcing position. He watched closely the mistakes that the WCW executives were making, took mental notes, and came up with some aggressive solutions. He was eventually named executive producer, then executive vice president, and finally promoted to president during Nitro’s run atop cable television’s weekly ratings charts. Bischoff was a man of many personalities. At times he could be charming, self–deprecating, and refreshingly honest. Others saw a different Bischoff, an impatient, arrogant, condescending, demeaning prick. He won over reporters with his ostensibly straight–talk approach. He had used that same approach to charm corporate executives into giving him his job in the first place. It was his ability to rationalize WCW’s plummeting business figures that helped him keep his job as long as he had it. WCW moved its headquarters last year from CNN Center to a one–story building in Smyrna, Ga. That isolated WCW from the corporate environment and distanced Schiller, the Turner high–level executive who oversees WCW, from Bischoff’s follies. WCW’s ratings slid, but they were still often in the top 20 of cable’s ratings. Schiller didn’t keep as close of an eye on WCW the last two years; after all, Bischoff had earned his trust by leading WCWto its first profitable years in its existence. But in recent months, Schiller began to seek an answer for why WCW began losing money. He sent accountants to investigate the finances and interviewed top wrestlers and executives for explanations. A couple of weeks ago Bischoff presented Schiller with a list of proposals he contended would lead WCW into their next boom period. Thursday, Sept. 16, Bischoff and a small handful of other executives met to discuss WCW’s future. He apparently received at least a half–hearted endorsement by Schiller during the meeting. Bischoff, though, must have sensed a loss of confidence in his job performance. After the meeting he had separate discussions with his right–hand man Bill Busch and his boss Schiller. After those private meetings late Thursday, the decision was made that Bischoff would leave his WCW post and move on to another Turner Sports division. It is being said neither the term “fired” nor “resigned” fairly describe the circumstances leading to Bischoff’s move out of WCW. The announcement was made to WCW employees late Friday morning. First, Schiller introduced Bischoff’s replacement, Bill Busch, to the heads of various WCW departments. Those department heads then communicated the major news to the rest of the WCW employees. Phone calls were made to top WCW wrestlers Friday afternoon. Sunday, a formal meeting was held before the Fall Brawl PPV where Schiller introduced Busch to WCW’s wrestlers and production team. Schiller assured the WCW crew that while he considered Bischoff a friend of his and that Bischoff would remain a Turner Sports executive, he would no longer have any involvement in WCW.

Few people knew who Busch was on Thursday. By Friday afternoon, everyone in WCW wanted to know more about him. The 38 year old executive has worked for Turner about two years longer than Bischoff—since 1990. His job title for seven years before becoming WCW vice president was vice president of strategic planning. A couple of years ago he was sent to WCW to carry out the financial aspects of Bischoff’s projects. He worked very closely with Bischoff on budgeting salaries of wrestlers, outside projects such as the Nitro Bar & Grill in Las Vegas, Nev., and negotiating the details of contracts with crossover acts such as Kiss. Busch dutifully carried out Bischoff’s projects, even the ones he disagreed with. Bischoff sought advice from Busch, but there was never a question who was boss. It is Schiller’s trust in Busch’s fiscal responsibility that helped Busch land the promotion to WCW V.P. Busch is not considered a Bischoff clone.

He has learned first–hand from Bischoff’s mistakes. Although not a life–long wrestling fan, he is known as a student of the game. Over the last year, those close to him are saying he has become a big fan of Raw. The story going around WCW’s front office is that he actually watches Raw live and tapes Nitro to watch later. Bischoff is credited for many things, but being a “genuinely decent person” is not a description even his friends would attach to him. Busch, on the other hand, has been described in those terms by anybody who has associated with him—be it a day–to–day work environment or a chance meeting in a hotel lobby. He is praised for being an effective delegator, a good listener, open–minded, and very smart. He doesn’t come across as a “mover and a shaker” like Bischoff did, but he has never had decision–making power before, so he had to conform to others in the past. He has a grasp on the wrestling business, but his strength lies in the financial side more than the creative side. He will delegate the creative aspects of the business to others, but it’s not expected he’ll be easily snowed by smoth-talking big-name stars giving him self-serving advise. The meeting with wrestlers at Fall Brawl was vague. Schiller and Busch didn’t indicate major changes were imminent. Sources say Busch wants to stop the bleeding, evaluate WCW from top to bottom, and then restructure certain aspects of the company in coming weeks and months. Most wrestlers had never heard of Bill Busch before Friday. He wasn’t a well–known name and his wrestling philosophy remains a mystery. Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Kevin Sullivan, Dusty Rhodes, Craig Leathers, and Annette Yothers remain the top influences on booking. It’s considered an eventuality that Busch will appoint one head booker—perhaps someone not on the above list. There is a lot of posturing and maneuvering by many of those names to become the top creative power in WCW and be the one to mold Busch into their vision. Busch’s boss Schiller trusts him enough that he will have free reign to make the changes he thinks will make WCW profitable again.

As mentioned above, Bill Busch replaced Eric Bischoff as WCW’s top man, but only as Senior Vice-President (the President title was removed completely). One of Busch’s first major acts was to sign WWF head writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara. It not only did not turn around WCW’s fortunes, it only made them worse. Bischoff would return, but only in an on-screen capacity just seven months later.

In late 2000, Bischoff was a part of a group of investors that would buy WCW and try to return it to its former glory. Despite a letter of intent being signed, America Online’s merger with Time-Warner (on the day the deal was announced, no less) combined with Jamie Kellner axing all wrestling programming on the Turner networks killed any prospects of a future for WCW; WWF would buy out WCW in March 2001 just before Wrestlemania X-Seven.

17 years ago today on Nitro from Charlotte, North Carolina (WWE Network link), Chris Benoit defeated Rick Steiner to win the WCW World Television Championship.

15 years ago today, WWF presented a live episode of Smackdown (WWE Network link) from the Compaq Center in Houston, Texas.

The show, originally scheduled to tape two days earlier, was postponed due to the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. This was the first live televised sporting event in the United States since the 9/11 attacks.

The show opened with Vince McMahon addressing the crowd and Lilian Garcia delivered a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. In between matches, superstars and divas gave a few words about the tragedy. As for the show itself, storylines were put on hold:

  • The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) defeated The Hurricane & Lance Storm.
  • Rob Van Dam defeated Spike Dudley.
  • Chris Jericho defeated Christian.
  • The Rock defeated Shawn Stasiak in just three seconds.
  • The Acolytes (Faarooq & Bradshaw) defeated X-Pac & Albert.
  • Booker T defeated The Big Show.
  • Lita defeated Ivory.
  • Test and The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) defeated Tajiri, William Regal, and Scotty 2 Hotty.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Rhyno.
  • In a post-show dark match, WCW Champion The Rock defeated WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin by disqualification.

12 years ago today, Mike Bucci made his WWE debut as fitness guru Simon Dean.

His debut was a commercial for a fitness product known as the Simon System. The vignette was so well-done, people legitimately called the number to "order it". In reality, the number linked to WWE Headquarters in Stamford; people calling it got a pre-recorded promo from Dean.

Bucci was most famous as Nova of ECW fame, but after the promotion shut down, worked the independent circuit before landing in Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2002. He worked under Jim Cornette as an assistant booker before being called up to WWE.

Bucci as Dean didn’t do much; after serving as a lower-card wrestler, he was traded to Smackdown in June 2005. After a one-shot as Nova of the Blue World Order, Bucci returned to the fitness guru gimmick and was largely a jobber until retiring from the ring in August 2006 and took over WWE’s developmental program. Bucci was released in August 2007 after he was found to be in violation of WWE’s Wellness Policy for obtaining performance-enhancing drugs online.

Bucci occasionally wrestles to this day, last appearing as both Hollywood Nova and Simon Dean in the Chikara King of Trios tournament weekend in 2015.

11 years ago today, Million Dollar Tough Enough winner Daniel Puder was released just one year into his four-year deal with WWE, with the company citing budget cuts.

In November 2004, Puder made headlines when he nearly defeated (and nearly broke the arm of) Kurt Angle in a shoot bout on Smackdown. Puder rode that momentum of near-victory to actual victory when beat Mike Mizanin by popular vote in the final.

Daniel appeared in just one match on the main roster, in the 2005 Royal Rumble. He was chopped heavy by Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Hardcore Holly before Holly eliminated him. Puder was sent to developmental, and was offered to stick around before being released, but with reduced pay. Daniel declined. Puder gave a statement to defunct website FightSports following his release:

I'm proud of winning the very first ever Million Dollar Tough Enough. I'm proud that I adapted from MMA to WWE. I'm proud of my work in the ring with my pro wrestling trainers Lance Storm and more recently Al Snow, who was my Tough Enough trainer too. I am proud of my association with a man like Danny Davis. I am proud to have worked with Tommy Dreamer. I am proud and have enjoyed working with and learning from Paul Heyman, and all the opportunities this experience has presented. And I know I will use this experience to my advantage when I make my next long term career move.

...

And I'm going to show the world that at 23 years old, WWE thought short term and not long term with me. But I won't brag about it in advance. I'll prove it to everyone!!!!!!!! Thanks for all of your support.

Puder would dabble in mixed martial arts and wrestle briefly for both Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2007 and 2010 respectively. He retired from combat sports in 2011 and founded an anti-bullying and youth development program.

7 years ago today, WWE presented Breaking Point (WWE Network link) from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The event's hook was that the main event matches would be contested under submission rules. About 12,000 were attendance, with 169,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 211,000 homes for the September 2008 PPV Unforgiven.

This would be the one and only Breaking Point event, though the name lived on-somewhat-for a few years in WWE video games as the name of their submission system. However, the system was scrapped with the release of WWE 2K15.

  • Chris Jericho & The Big Show defeated Montel Vontavious Porter & Mark Henry to retain the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Kofi Kingston defeated The Miz to retain the WWE United States Championship.
  • The Legacy (Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase) defeated D-Generation X (Triple H & Shawn Michaels) in a submissions count anywhere match.
  • Kane defeated The Great Khali in a Singapore Cane match.
  • Christian defeated William Regal to retain the ECW Championship.
  • John Cena defeated Randy Orton in an "I Quit" match to win the WWE Championship.
  • CM Punk defeated The Undertaker in a submission match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. In true WWE fashion, they remixed the Montreal Screwjob yet again. Undertaker had Punk defeated with Hell's Gate, but the submission hold was deemed banned, so the match continued. Punk moments later hooked Undertaker in the Anaconda Vice and Scott Armstrong rang the bell, though the Undertaker did not submit.

6 years ago today, WWE presented RAW Roulette 2010 from the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  • Daniel Bryan and The Miz fought to a no contest in a submission match.
  • Daniel Bryan defeated Alex Riley in a submission match.
  • Edge defeated Evan Bourne in a bodyslam match.
  • Mark Henry defeated Edge in a bodyslam match.
  • R-Truth & Eve Torres defeated Ted DiBiase & Maryse in a song & dance contest.
  • Sheamus defeated John Morrison in a Falls count anywhere match.
  • Chris Jericho defeated David Hart Smith & Tyson Kidd in a handicap steel cage match.
  • Goldust defeated William Regal in a "Trading Places" match.
  • Randy Orton defeated John Cena in a tables match.

5 years and a day ago today at an Impact taping at Universal Orlando, Sting defeated Ric Flair by submission. With the win, Sting earned a match against Hulk Hogan at Bound for Glory.

During the match, Flair, age 62 at the time of the match, tore his right triceps muscle on a superplex spot. It would turn out to be not only Ric Flair’s final TNA match (he was fired from the promotion in May 2012), it would turn out to be the legend’s final match ever.

Just about a year to the day of the day of the taping, Jerry Lawler suffered a heart attack just minutes after competing in a match on RAW; Flair would cite this as a reason for his retirement in December 2012.

Flair finishes his career as perhaps the greatest of all time, winning sixteen recognized world championships (the actual number is up for debate, as some circles have him as many as 25 world titles), a nine-time Wrestling Observer Newsletter Wrestler of the Year, an NWA Hall of Famer, Professional Wrestling Hall of Famer, International Wrestling Hall of Famer (George Tragos/Lou Thesz wing), and a WWE Hall of Famer both as an individual and as a member of the legendary Four Horsemen stable.

It’s a happy 32nd birthday to Thomas Pestock, though wrestling fans know him these days as Baron Corbin.

Before getting into wrestling, the Kansas-born Pestock was an offensive guard for the Division II Northwest Missouri State Bearcats; the team went to four consecutive NCAA Division II National Championship games from 2005 to 2008.

Pestock joined the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2009, but would be released by the club twice that year prior to the season. He was signed to a futures deal by the Arizona Cardinals in 2010, but again would not make the team roster before being released in September 2011.

Pestock signed with WWE in August 2012 and joined their developmental territory, NXT, as Baron Corbin. His stock rose when he defeated enhancement talents in quick order. He would go on a five-month undefeated run before being knocked off by Adrian Neville in the semifinals in a #1 contender’s tournament for the NXT Championship.

Corbin would primarily feud with Bull Dempsey, Samoa Joe, Apollo Crews, and Austin Aries until leaving NXT for WWE’s main roster in April 2016.

Corbin’s debut came at Wrestlemania 32 as an unannounced entrant in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. He would last eliminate Kane to win the trophy. His first singles match came the next night on RAW when he fought Dolph Ziggler to a double countout.

It’s a happy 35th birthday today to Lauren Richards. Known once upon a time as Angel Williams, Lauren is best remembered as Angelina Love.

The Toronto-born Richards is arguably the most successful female wrestler in TNA history, winning their Knockouts title six times from 2009 to 2014 (a company record) and their Knockouts tag titles with Winter in 2010. Before joining TNA in 2007 as a charter member of their Knockouts division, Williams was a part of WWE’s developmental system for about three years.

In January 2015, Lauren began dating fellow TNA wrestler Davey Richards. The couple married after just six months together in June 2015, and had their first child, David Vincent Richards, in March 2016. Just three months after giving birth, she returned to the ring. Her most recent bout came for Queens of Combat in August in a losing effort to the promotion’s champion Taeler Hendrix.