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This Day in Wrestling History (Sept. 17): Ric Flair Wins His First World Title

35 years ago today in Kansas City, Missouri, Ric Flair defeated Dusty Rhodes to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship for the first time.

Flair would go on to win the “ten pounds of gold” ten times (only nine of them are officially recognized; Flair’s title win over Harley Race in Singapore in 1983 is not recognized by NWA or WWE) through 1993 when WCW officially split from NWA.

Flair was also the only man to hold the NWA and WCW world heavyweight championships simultaneously; he did so in 1991 when WCW first established its own championships. He infamously left WCW in July 1991 as both the WCW and NWA world champion. Flair was stripped of the WCW title almost immediately; he would hold the NWA crown until making his WWF debut in September.

33 years ago today, World Wrestling Council held their tenth anniversary show at Roberto Clemente Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In a champion vs. champion bout, WWC Universal Champion Carlos Colon and NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race fought to a one-hour draw. In the show's main event, Andre the Giant defeated Abdullah the Butcher by countout.

30 years ago today, the WWF pairs one of the most iconic commentary teams ever for the first time at a Wrestling Challenge taping in Salisbury, Maryland. That team: Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.

21 years ago today, WCW presented Fall Brawl: War Games (WWE Network link) from the Asheville Civic Center in Asheville, North Carolina. 6,600 were in attendance, with just 95,000 homes watching on PPV.

That's down from 115,000 homes for the 1994 edition. It's also down from 180,000 homes for Uncensored, meaning WCW had lost about half their PPV audience in six months.

  • Johnny B. Badd defeated Brian Pillman to become the #1 contender for the WCW United States Championship.
  • Sgt Craig Pittman defeated Cobra.
  • Diamond Dallas Page defeated The Renegade to win the WCW World Television Championship.
  • Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) defeated Bunkhouse Buck & Dick Slater to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
  • Arn Anderson defeated Ric Flair.
  • The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger, Randy Savage, and Sting) defeated The Dungeon of Doom (Kamala, Meng, Shark, and Zodiac) in a WarGames match.

16 years ago today, WCW held their final Fall Brawl event (WWE Network link) from the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. 8,634 were in attendance, with just 75,000 homes watching on PPV. That's down from 130,000 in 1999, and and an event high 275,000 in 1998.

  • Elix Skipper defeated Kwee Wee to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship.
  • Misfits In Action (Corporal Cajun, Lt. Loco & Sgt. A-WOL) defeated 3-Count (Evan Karagias, Shane Helms & Shannon Moore).
  • The Harris Brothers (Big Ron & Heavy D) defeated KroniK (Brian Adams & Bryan Clark) in a First Blood Chain Tag Team Match.
  • Lance Storm defeated General Rection to retain the WCW United States Championship.
  • Big Vito, Paul Orndorff & The Filthy Animals (Disco Inferno, Juventud Guerrera & Rey Mysterio Jr.) versus The Natural Born Thrillers (Chuck Palumbo, Johnny The Bull, Mark Jindrak, Reno & Sean O'Haire) went to a no contest in an elimination tag team match.
  • Shane Douglas & Torrie Wilson defeated Billy Kidman & Madusa in a Pittsburgh Plunge scaffold tag team match.
  • Sting defeated The Great Muta and Vampiro in a three way match.
  • Mike Awesome defeated Jeff Jarrett in a Bunkhouse Brawl.
  • Scott Steiner defeated Goldberg via referee stoppage in a no disqualification match.
  • Booker T defeated Kevin Nash in a steel cage match to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

15 years ago today on RAW from the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, Tennessee (WWE Network link), The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von) defeated The Brothers of Destruction (Undertaker & Kane) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship.

11 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Glory by Honor IV from the Sports and Entertainment Center in Long Island, New York.

The show is noted for the return of Bryan Danielson after quitting the company earlier in the year. The show also was the final ROH appearance of Mick Foley.

  • Low Ki defeated Jay Lethal in a Fight Without Honor.
  • Austin Aries defeated Azrieal
  • Nigel McGuinness defeated Roderick Strong to retain the ROH Pure Championship.
  • Colt Cabana defeated Homicide via disqualification.
  • Jay Lethal defeated Low Ki.
  • Davey Andrews defeated Eric Matlock.
  • Samoa Joe defeated Adam Pearce, BJ Whitmer, and Ricky Reyes in a four corners survival match.
  • Bryan Danielson defeated James Gibson to win the ROH World Championship.
  • AJ Styles defeated Jimmy Rave in a finishers match.

10 years ago today, WWE presented Unforgiven (WWE Network link) from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 16,305 were in attendance, with 289,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up 49,000 buys from the previous year.

The show featured the first match to use a newer version of the Hell in a Cell (taller, more spacious) and the final match of Trish Stratus as an active competitor.

  • In a preshow dark match, Super Crazy defeated Shelton Benjamin.
  • Johnny Nitro defeated Jeff Hardy to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Kane and Umaga went to a double countout.
  • The Spirit Squad (Mikey & Nicky) defeated The Highlanders (Rory McAllister & Robbie McAllister) to retain the World Tag Team Championship.
  • D-Generation X (Shawn Michaels & Triple H defeated Shane McMahon, Vince McMahon, and The Big Show in a handicap Hell in a Cell match.
  • Trish Stratus defeated Lita to win the WWE Women's Championship. As this was her last match, the championship was vacated the next night.
  • Randy Orton defeated Carlito.
  • John Cena defeated Edge in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match to win the WWE Championship.

5 years ago today, Ring of Honor presented Death Before Dishonor IX from the Manhattan Center in New York City.

  • In a preshow match, Andy Ridge defeated Grizzly Redwood in a Survival of the Fittest 2011 Qualifying match.
  • The Embassy (Rhino and Tommaso Ciampa) defeated Homicide and Jay Lethal.
  • Shelton Benjamin defeated Mike Bennett.
  • The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) defeated Future Shock (Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly) and The Bravado Brothers (Harlem and Lancelot) in a three-team elimination match.
  • El Generico and Jimmy Jacobs fought to a no contest.
  • Charlie Haas defeated Michael Elgin.
  • Eddie Edwards defeated Roderick Strong 2-1 in a best of three falls match.
  • The All Night Express (Kenny King and Rhett Titus) defeated The Briscoe Brothers (Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe) in Ladder War III to earn an ROH World Tag Team Championship match at Glory By Honor X.

1 year ago today, US Weekly reported that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his girlfriend Lauren Hashian will have their first child together. Their daughter, Jasmine, was born in December 2015. It was Hashian’s first and Johnson’s second; Johnson has a 15-year old daughter, Simone, from his first wife Dany Garcia.

It's a happy 55th birthday today to James Mark Cornette, best known to wrestling fans as Jim Cornette. Cornette has been a jack of almost all trades in the wrestling business.

He broke in at age 14 working as a photographer, ring announcer, magazine correspondent, and in public relations. At 21, Cornette was made into a manager by promoter Jerry Jarrett under the gimmick that he was a rich kid, but awful manager, a man who constantly fired after one match. By the end of 1983, he would take on his most famous managerial role as the frontman for the Midnight Express. It was during this time he honed his gimmick as being loud and brash and brandishing a loaded tennis racket.

He occasionally got in the ring; most notably, he suffered a severe knee injury during a scaffold match between the Midnight Express and Road Warriors at Starrcade 1986. Legend has it when he got his knee drained, the blood and fluid from the knee filled an entire bedpan. In 1989, he became a color commentator for Jim Crockett Promotion's weekly NWA syndicated show and later for their Saturday night TBS show. The same year, he became a booker for the renamed WCW. He didn't last long in that role; conflicts between he and Jim Herd led Cornette to quit in 1990.

Cornette founded his own promotion, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, in 1991. Serving Tennesee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas, the promotion was booked very much like the "old-school" territorial days. Unfortunately, (1) the promotion was seen as minor league in the eyes of many people, (2) the promotion was seen as antiquated, and (3) the business and the economy in general was in a recession. Despite a working relationship with the WWF in its later days, SMW shut its doors in late 1995.

Cornette's working relationship with the WWF started two years earlier, and like the past, he would serve a few roles including booking, managing, and color commentary. On the managerial side, he most notably managed Yokozuna as his "American spokesperson", and led Camp Cornette, which included Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, and Vader. He also gave a few worked shoot commentaries about the business in late 1997 and early 1998. After frequent confrontations with head writer Vince Russo, Cornette was remove from his booking position. He would lead an NWA invasion in early 1998 and managed a new incarnation of the Midnight Express before going into commentating full-time. His last appearance for the company came in 2001 at the Wrestlemania X-Seven gimmick battle royal.

Cornette would become the lead booker and part owner of WWF developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling, run by Danny Davis. He has been credited with developing Kane, D-Lo Brown, Sunny, Al Snow, and in the early 2000s, John Cena, Randy Orton, and Brock Lesnar. He would be suspended in 2005 for slapping Anthony Carelli (who would go on to moderate success as Santino Marella) for no-selling The Boogeyman. He would be released from his contract shortly after his return from suspension, and would sell his share of OVW to Davis in 2007.

In June 2006, Cornette debuted as TNA's new on-screen authority figure, and developed a style for dealing with wrestler-involved matters quickly. He would remain with the company for just over three years before being released in September 2009. Cornette would quickly land on his feet, scoring a gig with Ring of Honor later that month. He would rejoin OVW the next year as the company's head booker, but left again in November 2011 after OVW's working relationship with TNA ended. Cornette would be the head booker of Ring of Honor in late 2012, but left the company amid controversy stemming from a Steve Corino injury.

These days, Cornette's still very much in the business, albeit mostly podcasting and doing commentaries. He began a podcast in late 2013, The Jim Cornette Experience. He also works closely with Kayfabe Commentaries on theirBack to the Territories series. He's currently married to former independent wrestler Stacey Goff, who wrestled as Synn. The couple will celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary next month.

Cornette's a two-time Slammy Award winner (Best Dressed in 1994, Worst Dressed in 1996), and has won multiple awards from Wrestling Observer Newsletter, including Best Booker three times, Best Non-Wrestler in 2006, and twelve-time Manager of the Year, winning it every year but one from 1984 to 1996. He's also in the publication's inaguaral Hall of Fame Class of 1996, is a member of the NWA Hall of Fame Class of 2005, and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2012.

Today would have been the 86th birthday of “The Golden Greek” John Tolos.

Born to Greek parents in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Jim along with his brother Chris was a part of the Canadian Wrecking Crew in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1963, the brothers defeated Gorilla Monsoon and Killer Kowalski in two straight falls to win the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship.

As a singles competitor, Jim as the heel “Golden Greek” (not to be confused with Jim Londos, who was also known as “The Golden Greek”) had a long-standing rivalry with “Classy” Freddie Blassie in the Los Angeles area. Their biggest bout came in August 1971 when nearly 26,000 fans turned up at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to see bitter enemies do battle.

Tolos is best remembered as “Coach”, the manager for the Beverly Brothers and Mr. Perfect in 1991 (replacing Bobby Heenan as the manager for the latter). Tolos quietly left the company following Summerslam that year when The Beverly Brothers got a new manager in The Genius and Mr. Perfect tending to a back injury.

Tolos’ last significant run was for Herb Abrams’ version of the Universal Wrestling Federation, managing Cowboy Bob Orton, Cactus Jack, and the Power Twins. He also served as the color commentator for UWF’s weekly show, Fury Hour.

Following retirement, Tolos worked at a car dealership in Woodland Hills, California. In 2004, Tolos was presented with the Golden Potato Award for his stiff shots during matches. In 2007, Jim and his brother Chris (posthumously, Chris died in 2005) were inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.

On May 29, 2009, Tolos died in Los Angeles of kidney failure following a series of heart attacks and strokes. He was 78. At the time of his passing, he was survived his sister Mary and his daughter Tracy.

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