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This Day in Wrestling History (Sept. 15): nWo Takes Over War Games

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this day in wrestling history

32 years ago today at World Wrestling Council's 11th anniversary show in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Randy Savage defeated Pedro Morales to win the WWC North American Heavyweight Championship.

24 years ago today, the WWF and Japanese promotion WAR (Wrestle and Romance) held a co-promoted event.

In the featured bout, Ric Flair and Genichiro Tenryu fight to a draw in a best of three falls match. Tenryu and Flair split the first two falls, and the fight to a double countout in the third fall. On the same show, Road Warrior Animal reaggravates a back injury that forces him away from the ring for over three years.

21 years ago today, WCW fires Steve Austin.

Austin, who was still on the sidelines due to a triceps injury he’d suffer while on a tour in Japan, was mailed his termination notice via FedEx. The report of the firing as written in the September 25, 1995 edition of Wrestling Observer Newsletter:

WCW did fire Steve Austin (Steve Williams) on 9/15.

Austin, 30, was considered for years as perhaps the best young wrestler in the United States. His career languished for the past year almost to the point that he was spoken of, like his former tag partner Brian Pillman, as a wrestler who had made a lot of money by signing good contracts but had great careers ruined by a WCW organization that had been both unwilling and unable to get any wrestlers over.

Austin had been in the doghouse with WCW management over the past year over a reputation for not exactly keeping quiet with his discontent about how he was used and for those involved in cost cutting seeing the $200,000 or so figure he was earning per year while not being involved in any significant programs as wasted money.

While on a tour with New Japan in June, Austin tore his tricep and has been out of action since and was believed to be about six weeks from being ready to return when he was fired. This of course paints WCW as a real class organization for firing a guy while injured when he suffered the injury on a tour the company sent him on. Austin's main problem appeared to be in the cliquish nature of WCW (which is consistent not only in wrestling but in most jobs but worse in WCW than most places obviously).

He didn't hang with the right crowd. When the Hogan camp got into power, they dismissed Austin as a highly-paid wrestler who was a good worker with no charisma and in their view of wrestling, workrate meant next to nothing. The Hogan clique basically consisted of WWFers from the mid-80s when wrestling was hot and thus, could dismiss any wrestler who came along later as being "unable to draw money" (forgetting that most of those who drew money in the mid-80s became suddenly unable to draw money either when the business lost popularity). He wasn't in the Flair clique either, so nobody spoke up for his workrate on the inside at the meetings.

Austin was given little chance to show his stuff after the career ending back injury of his main opponent, Rick Steamboat. Austin then suffered a knee injury which kept him out for a few months, and before he was plugged into a new planned program, a reuniting of his tag team with Brian Pillman, he went to Japan and suffered the tricep tear.

It's unknown what Austin's plans will be once he's able to return to the ring, but he would be able to get a strong spot with ECW if he would want it since he's a long-time friend of Paul Heyman, although that would entail a major comedown in money. I don't know if he has any connections or has made any with All Japan, but if he wants to make a career out of Japan, that promotion and him almost seem tailor-made if he can learn that style and psychology. All Japan needs new foreign stars they can push and very few Americans have the ability to make it with that group and Austin potentially fits into that select group.

Of course WWF is the most logical option. He probably could also return to WCW if he was willing to work for less money and a per night deal although I'm betting the nature of his dismissal which will almost certainly result in very bitter feelings will make that very difficult.

A few hours later, WCW and Gene Okerlund's agent Barry Bloom agreed verbally to a two-year contract which, with incentives, is more potentially lucrative than his previous deal which was said to have a $250,000 base. Okerlund's WCW contract had expired two days earlier and it was questionable if the deal hadn't been put together whether he would have appeared at the Fall Brawl PPV show.

Naturally the timing of the Austin firing, particularly being fired while injured ala Steamboat, and the Okerlund raise didn't set well with several wrestlers within WCW for obvious reasons.

Bischoff defended the firing of Austin via FedEx in a 2015 interview with Kayfabe Commentaries, saying it was consistent with Turner policy at the time.

Just over a week after he was fired, the still-injured Austin turned up at an ECW show in Middletown, New York. Austin would spend most of his brief time in ECW doing interviews and promo segments; he would wrestle just twice for ECW, both defeats to Mikey Whipwreck for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.

Austin was in talks to head to All Japan Pro Wrestling, but he would sign with the WWF in December. He would be the forefront of the company’s resurgence, and by 1998, become the biggest draw in professional wrestling history.

20 years ago today, WCW presented Fall Brawl: War Games (WWE Network link) from the Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It's the first of four straight years the event would be held in Winston-Salem. 11,300 were in attendance with 230,000 homes watching on PPV.

In a testament to the rapid rise of WCW around this time, that's more buys than the last two Fall Brawls combined (110,000 in 1994, 95,000 in 1995). This was also the first PPV where stars from Mexican promotion AAA competed on a WCW show since When Worlds Collide in 1994.

  • Diamond Dallas Page defeated Chavo Guerrero, Jr.
  • Ice Train defeated Scott Norton in a submission match.
  • Konnan defeated Juventud Guerrera to retain the AAA Heavyweight Championship.
  • Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho.
  • Rey Mysterio, Jr. defeated Super Caló to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.
  • Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) defeated The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags) to retain the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
  • The Giant defeated Randy Savage.
  • Team nWo (Hollywood Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and nWo Sting) defeated Team WCW (Lex Luger, Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Sting) in a War Games match. Near the end of the match, the real Sting (Sting) cleaned house for Team WCW, then walked out on them. The nWo Sting (Jeff Farmer) submitted Lex Luger with the Scorpion Deathlock to win the match.

19 years ago today on Nitro from Charlotte, North Carolina (WWE Network link), Curt Hennig defeated Steve McMichael to win the WCW United States Championship.

The win gives the nWo the top three championships in the company (WCW world, United States, and tag team). Amazingly, this is Hennig's only single championship in the company.

18 years ago today at a RAW is WAR taping in Sacramento, California (WWE Network link), Jacqueline defeated Sable to win the vacated WWF Women’s Championship.

The title had been vacated since December 1995 when WWF lets its entire women’s roster go due to budget cuts and Alundra Blayze (aka Debra "Madusa" Miceli) infamously trashed the women's title on Nitro.

On the same taping, X-Pac defeated D-Lo Brown to win the WWF European Championship.

13 years ago today on RAW from Columbia, South Carolina (WWE Network link), The Fabulous Moolah defeated Victoria in just 30 seconds.

As the story goes, this was Vince McMahon making good on his promise from a long time ago that she could have a match if she reached her 80th birthday. Post-match, Randy Orton delivered an RKO to Moolah.

On the same episode, Lita made her first in-ring appearance on RAW since suffering a broken neck on the set of Dark Angel in April 2002. In her return, she saves her frenemy Trish Stratus from further assault from Molly Holly and Gail Kim.

11 years ago today at a Border City Wrestling event in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Jeff Jarrett defeated Raven to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

This was believed to be the first NWA world title match in Windsor in nearly a half-century, and is the first time the “ten pounds of gold” changed hands in Canada since Harley Race defeated Terry Funk for the title in February 1977.

The title change caused quite a bit of controversy as Raven was expected to head into the Spike TV era as the TNA world champion.

9 years ago today, Ring of Honor taped Man Up from the Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago Ridge, Illinois.

The show, not airing on PPV until November 30, would be the last for Matt Sydal before leaving for WWE.

PPV matches:

  • Nigel McGuinness defeated Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli & Naomichi Marufuji in a Four Corner Survival match.
  • No Remorse Corps (Rocky Romero, Davey Richards, and Roderick Strong) defeated Resilience (Matt Cross, Austin Aries, and Erick Stevens) 2-1 in a best of three matches series.
  • Rocky Romero defeated Matt Cross.
  • Austin Aries defeated Davey Richards.
  • Roderick Strong defeated Erick Stevens.
  • Takeshi Morishima defeated Bryan Danielson to retain the ROH World Championship.
  • The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe defeated El Generico & Kevin Steen in a ladder match to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship.

In matches not airing on the PPV:

  • Ernie Osiris & Silas Young defeated Bobby Dempsey & Rhett Titus.
  • Mitch Franklin defeated Alex Payne to retain the ROH Top of the Class Trophy Championship.
  • Amazing Kong & Daizee Haze defeated Lacey & Sara Del Rey.
  • The Hangmen Three (BJ Whitmer & Brent Albright) defeated The YRR (Chasyn Rance & Kenny King).
  • Jack Evans and Tyler Black fought to a no contest.
  • Irish Airborne (Dave Crist & Jake Crist) & Jack Evans and The Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs, Necro Butcher & Tyler Black) fought to a no contest in a six-man tag team street fight.
  • Delirious defeated Matt Sydal.

9 years ago today, Brianna and Nicole Garcia-Colace make their debuts for WWE developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling as Brie and Nikki, the Bella Twins. They debuted with a win over Nattie Neidhart and Krissy Vaine. In a bit of trivia, Victoria Crawford (who would go on to moderate success as Alicia Fox) was the referee.

The twins would make their main roster debut a year later (Brie debuted in August 2008; Nikki in October). Both are still in the company, but only Nikki’s around in an in-ring capacity. Brie retired following Wrestlemania 32 two months after her husband Daniel Bryan retired due to recurring concussions.

7 years ago today, Ric Flair signed a deal to return to the ring as part of the "Hulkamania Tour" in Australia.

7 years ago today, Jim Cornette and BG James would be released from TNA. Both had been working as agents for the company, though Cornette also had a hand in television production.

4 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Death Before Dishonor X: State of Emergency from the Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago Ridge, Illinois.

The focus of the show was to crown new ROH World Tag Team Champions after one-half of the former champions, Kenny King, abruptly left the company for TNA.

Of note, both Davey Richards and Matt Hardy made their returns to the company on this show.

  • S.C.U.M. (Jimmy Jacobs & Steve Corino) defeated Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander in an ROH World Tag Team Championship tournament semifinal match.
  • Tadarius Thomas defeated Silas Young to qualify for Survival of the Fittest.
  • Kyle O'Reilly defeated ACH.
  • Rhett Titus and Charlie Haas defeated The Briscoes in an ROH World Tag Team Championship tournament semifinal match.
  • Jay Lethal defeated Homicide.
  • House of Truth defeated The Irish Airborne (Jake and Dave Crist).
  • Adam Cole defeated "No Fear" Mike Mondo to retain the ROH World Television Championship.
  • S.C.U.M. (Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs) defeated Rhett Titus and Charlie Haas to win the vacated ROH World Tag Team Championship.
  • Kevin Steen defeated Rhyno to retain the ROH World Championship in an anything goes match.

3 years ago today, WWE presented Night of Champions (WWE Network link) from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. 10,500 were in attendance, with 175,000 homes watching on PPV, down from 189,000 for 2012's edition.

  • In a preshow match, The Prime Time Players defeated The Usos, Tons of Funk, The Real Americans and 3MB in a Tag Team Turmoil match to become the #1 contender for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Curtis Axel defeated Kofi Kingston to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • AJ Lee defeated Brie Bella, Natalya, and Naomi in a fatal 4-way match to retain the WWE Divas Championship.
  • Rob Van Dam defeated Alberto Del Rio by disqualification in a World Heavyweight Championship match.
  • The Miz defeated Fandango.
  • Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman defeated CM Punk in a no disqualification elimination handicap match. If Paul Heyman did not compete, he would had been fired.
  • Dean Ambrose defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE United States Championship.
  • The Shield (Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns) defeated the Prime Time Players (Titus O'Neil & Darren Young) to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Daniel Bryan defeated Randy Orton to win the WWE Championship. The result was negated the next night and the championship made vacant after it was alleged referee Scott Armstrong and Bryan co-consipred to take the title from Orton. The title would remain vacant for more than a month before Orton won it back.

Today would have been the 62nd birthday of Keith Franke, best known as "Adorable" Adrian Adonis.

Adonis was a AWA tag team champion with Jesse Ventura in 1980 and a WWF tag team champion with Dick Murdoch in 1984. In the early 1980s, he also contended for the WWF Intercontinental and world championships.

Following the split with Murdoch after losing the titles in 1985, Adonis traded in his biker gear for pink gear and lots of make up, calling himself "Adorable". It was also around this time, Adonis, who had gained considerable weight since his time with Dick Murdoch, wrestled at his heaviest, at around 350 pounds.

Adonis in 1986 was a primary cataylst for turning Paul Orndorff heel on Hulk Hogan during his talking segment, The Flower Shop. Adonis' most famous feud was against Rowdy Roddy Piper, who would ruin his set in retaliation for Adonis taking Piper out at the legs. The war culminated in a hair versus hair match at Wrestlemania III, won by the then-retiring Piper. Piper, who struggled to cut Adonis' wet hair, got help from Brutus Beefcake, which birthed his most famous gimmick, "The Barber".

Franke returned to the AWA shortly after Wrestlemania III still under the "Adorable" Adrian Adonis gimmick, but now managed by Paul E. Dangerously. His run is highlighted by a feud with Tommy Rich and making it to the final of the AWA International Television Championship tournament in late 1987 before losing to Greg Gagne. An ankle injury forced him to the sidelines in early 1988 just as he was set to tour with New Japan Pro Wrestling. It was also around this time, Verne Gagne stopped paying him. He tried to return to the WWF, but the attempted comeback was unsuccessful. Franke would make that tour of New Japan Pro Wrestling,

On July 4, 1988, Franke was one of three men killed in a single-car accident when driver Victor Arko swerved off a road in Lewisport, Newfoundland, Canada to avoid a moose. The car careened into a nearby lake, killing the passengers inside. Only Arko survived the crash, but would suffer severe injuries to his legs. At the time of his passing, Franke was survived by his wife and two daughters.