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This Day in Wrestling History (Sept. 18): WWF Leaves USA Network

this day in wrestling history

60 years ago today in Baltimore, Maryland, The Fabulous Moolah last defeated Judy Grable in a 13-woman battle royal to win the vacated NWA World Women’s Championship. Because she had issues with promoter Billy Wolfe, who had plenty of stroke with the National Wrestling Alliance at the time, Moolah was not immediately recognized as the champion.

The title was vacated earlier in the year by the Baltimore Athletic Commission when June Byers, the first ever NWA women’s champion, announced her retirement. Moolah would hold the championship for all but two months total over the next 28 years, including an uninterrupted ten-year run the day she won it until September 17, 1966. When the NWA broke away from the WWF in 1983, the Fabulous Moolah was declared the WWF Women’s Champion.

This title reign would also be retroactively be considered the beginning of the WWF Women’s Championship, which would serve as the company’s oldest title until its retirement in 2010. The two women’s championships used by WWE today are considered separate championships from the original title.

34 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bob Backlund defeated Jimmy Snuka to retain the WWF Championship.

Post-match, Backlund offered his hand to Snuka, and to the surprise of the crowd at the Spectrum, Snuka shook it. The moment got the ball rolling for Snuka's face turn, an alignment he would work for virtually the remainder of his career.

26 years ago today, WWF taped the 28th edition of Saturday Night's Main Event (WWE Network link) from the Toledo Sports Arena in Toledo, Ohio.

The show would not air until October 13, nearly a full month later. As a side note, a Brother Love Show segment was taped for Wrestling Challenge that would set up the infamous "Blindfold Match" at Wrestlemania VII as Jake Roberts was "blinded" by Rick Martel's "Arrogance" body spray. As for Saturday Night's Main Event:

  • The Ultimate Warrior and The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) defeated Demolition (Ax, Smash, and Crush).
  • Randy Savage defeated Dusty Rhodes by countout. During the match, Ted Dibiase and Virgil sat on either side of a fan that was later introduced as Dustin Rhodes, son of Dusty Rhodes. Post-match, The Rhodes family, Ted DiBiase, and Virgil came to blows, and Dustin was left in a bloody mess.
  • Hulk Hogan and Tugboat defeated Rhythm & Blues (Greg Valentine and The Honky Tonk Man) by disqualification.
  • Sgt. Slaughter defeated Koko B. Ware.
  • The Texas Tornado defeated Haku to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

22 years ago today, WCW presented Fall Brawl: War Games (WWE Network link) from the Roanoke Civic Center in Roanoke, Virginia. 6,500 were in attendance, with 115,000 homes watching on PPV. That's up from 95,000 from 1993's edition.

The show featured the final appearance of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat in a WCW ring. Due to a back injury he suffered at Clash of the Champions a few weeks earlier, Steamboat was forced to forfeit the WCW United States Championship. Shortly after the PPV, Steamboat was fired via FedEx. That's a hell of a way to go out.

  • In a dark match, Brad Armstrong and Brian Armstrong defeated Bad Attitude (Steve Keirn and Bobby Eaton).
  • Johnny B. Badd defeated Lord Steven Regal to win the WCW World Television Championship.
  • Kevin Sullivan defeated Cactus Jack. As a result of the loss, Cactus Jack was forced to leave WCW.
  • Steve Austin defeated Ricky Steamboat to win the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship via forfeit.
  • Hacksaw Jim Duggan defeated Steve Austin in just 35 seconds to win the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship.
  • Pretty Wonderful (Paul Orndorff and Paul Roma) defeated Stars 'n Stripes (The Patriot and Marcus Alexander Bagwell) to retain the WCW World Tag Team Championship.
  • Vader defeated Sting and The Guardian Angel in a triangle match.
  • Team Rhodes (The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags), Dusty Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes) defeated The Stud Stable (Terry Funk, Arn Anderson, Bunkhouse Buck, and Colonel Robert Parker) in a WarGames match.

21 years ago today on WCW Monday Nitro (WWE Network link) from Johnson City, Tennessee, The American Males (Marcus Alexander Bagwell and Scotty Riggs) defeated Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship.

16 years ago, USA Network airs RAW is WAR (WWE Network link) for the last time.

Dating back to All-American Wrestling, WWF had been on USA Network in some capacity since 1983. WWF had been on in primetime weekly since Tuesday Night Titans in 1984, and on Monday nights since Prime Time Wrestling in 1985.

In June 2000, Viacom won the rights to WWF programming after they had successfully sued USA over the right of first refusal clause (USA contended that they did not have to match the incentives laid out in Viacom’s bid, including promotional material and fewer pre-empted shows; the Delaware Chancery Court disagreed). WWE’s flagship show, RAW, would return to USA in 2005, where it’s remained ever since.

In the show’s main event, The Undertaker defeated WWF Champion The Rock in a non-title match.

14 years ago today at an NWA-TNA weekly PPV taping in Nashville, Tennessee, America's Most Wanted (James Storm and Chris Harris) defeated Brian Lee and Ron Harris to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.

12 years ago today in Highland, Indiana, AJ Styles defeated Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson in the final match to win the 2004 IWA Mid-South Ted Petty Invitational.

The two-day tournament is regarded as one of the best independent shows in professional wrestling history. Future world champions in the tournament (obviously including the three finalists) included Roderick Strong, Chris Sabin, Austin Aries, CM Punk, and Nigel McGuinness. In a side note, AJ Styles was the fifth winner in as many tournaments.

11 years ago today, WWE presented Unforgiven (WWE Network link) from the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. About 8,000 were in attendance, with 240,000 homes watching on PPV, about the same number as 2004's edition.

  • In a Sunday Night Heat preshow match, Rob Conway defeated Tajiri.
  • Ric Flair defeated Carlito to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Ashley & Trish Stratus defeated Torrie Wilson & Victoria.
  • The Big Show defeated Snitsky.
  • Shelton Benjamin defeated Kerwin White.
  • Matt Hardy defeated Edge in a steel cage match.
  • Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch defeated Rosey & The Hurricane to win the World Tag Team Championship.
  • Shawn Michaels defeated Chris Masters.
  • Kurt Angle defeated John Cena via disqualification in a WWE Championship match.

9 years ago today, Kristal Marshall makes her final appearance for WWE during a Smackdown taping in Atlanta, Georgia.

The show centered on the wedding of Marshall and Smackdown general manager Teddy Long. Marshall in a swerve would have been paired with the soon-to-be returning Edge, but Marshall didn't like it and she abruptly left the company.

7 years ago today, the Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona dismisses the Ultimate Warrior's case against WWE, saying he could not sue for damages over comments made by the company about him in the Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD.

The lawsuit, filed back in 2006, alleges that WWE violated an agreement back in 2000 not to disparage Ultimate Warrior, and vice versa. The judge ruled that since Warrior had breached his end of the deal as well, he was not entitled to damages. Warrior made a brief statement about the decision on his website. In part:

"It is what it is. There are no guarantees in litigation. None. Of course, when you pursue these things, you want things to turn out in your favor. So does the other side. Cases are made and cards fall where they will. What helps me handle it is that I am realist about things I cannot control and an optimist about all the incredible opportunity that always lies ahead, every day, every hour, every minute. I mean, from the moment you decide in your head that the past is done and gone, that it is a fact of reality you can’t change, and you put your time and energy into moving forward, right then and there positive things begin to happen. Only when you change the world of your mind will things in world outside of you change. There is no reason for hesitation except that you choose to stay stuck. The only force is your mind. I don’t choose to remain stuck. I’m not good at whining and complaining about what I, myself, can, will and must do. I still have the rest of today to make the most out of myself and my life. I’m going to get at it."

A few days later, the same court ruled that Warrior had to pay legal fees to WWE from defending the suit. The fees totaled just under $19,000.

5 years ago today, WWE presented Night of Champions (WWE Network link) from the First Niagra Center in Buffalo, New York. About 11,000 were in attendance with 161,000 homes watching on PPV. That’s down slightly from 165,000 homes for the 2010 edition.

  • In a preshow dark match, Daniel Bryan defeated Heath Slater.
  • Air Boom (Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne) defeated Awesome Truth (The Miz & R-Truth) via disqualification to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
  • Cody Rhodes defeated Ted DiBiase to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
  • Dolph Ziggler defeated Jack Swagger, Alex Riley, and John Morrison to retain the WWE United States Championship.
  • Mark Henry defeated Randy Orton to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Kelly Kelly defeated Beth Phoenix to retain the Divas Championship.
  • John Cena defeated Alberto Del Rio to win the WWE Championship.
  • Triple H defeated CM Punk in a no disqualification match. Had Triple H won, he would have been forced to step down as WWE COO.

2 years ago today at an Impact taping in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Bobby Roode defeated Bobby Lashley to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

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